Adult Coloring Books, All The (not so new) Rage

 

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There is a general buzz around the water cooler and for the first time in a while it’s not sport point spreads or Pinterest boards…well, kind of.

This latest and greatest rage was actually brought to my attention from a friend who mentioned the growing popularity of Adult Coloring Books on Pinterest. At first I was aghast, then sort of guffawed. It just seemed so out of the ordinary, but, if true, what an amazing relationship between what we are doing at The Crayon Initiative and this new rumor. So I went and checked. THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of pages and pin-boards dedicated to adult coloring! So I dug a little deeper. Turns out that this movement has been going on underground, for fear of being laughed at, for a very long time.

It also seems that within the last few months, this topic has gained steam like a 100 car freight train approaching a 10% grade….(did I ever tell you that I am a model train enthusiast?) I digress. Most of the pages dedicated to adult coloring books have just as many different places to purchase full books. These are not slightly more challenging pages from the movie Frozen we are talking about, these are often artist inspired templates replete with the details of a Sanskrit Mandala. The are designed to look like the type of meditative walking mazes you might find at a monastery, and for good reason, they serve the same purpose.

Psychiatric professional and Art Therapist Cathy Malchiodi said, “coloring books are a path to mindfulness, meditation and some kind of psychological nirvana” and medical professionals are seeing medical improvements in cancer patients and anxiety disorder patients. We kind of hate to say, “we told you so”, but…

But seriously, this is wonderful news. The benefits of art are not relegated to the youth. Many fortune 500 companies have begun putting coloring books in their break rooms and some college professors have been noted as incorporating them into their syllabuses.

If you really think about the timing of this therapeutic surge, it makes a lot of sense. Studies indicate “most people take a break from their creative hobbies during their transitional years of high school and college, but often return at the age of 26.” Who are these 26-year-olds? Well, they are the Millennials, the very group of people that are shaping all facets of business today. They are outside the box thinkers who are so technology savvy that they demand attention and are getting it. They are also extremely plugged in but know when they are reaching a max capacity for tech activity. Is there really any better way to unplug literally and figuratively than staying inside the lines with bright colors?

We for one applaud the movement and have always stood by the healing properties of art and coloring, heck we are building a company on the principal, but to see the thought of coloring books take center stage and not be scoffed at is more than we could have hoped for.

 

[BLANK] As ART #4, Space

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Simply as a very quick qualifying statement as to not mislead, this blog is not about OUTER space as “art”, but rather wide-open spaces. While I cannot discount the fact that outer space holds many artistic parallels, I have never been there and can’t speak emotionally about it. Perhaps one day I will be able to write from experience on the topic, but not today. Proceed with this knowledge.

 

We have all witnessed that overwhelming feeling when you arrive at an empty beach. That moment when you get to kick off your shoes for the first time and run (and you know you run) over the vastness of the sand towards the waves. Often times and inexplicitly a pirouette, cartwheel or any other physical form of happiness will find it’s way into your romp. This is ART! The feeling of happiness that taps energy so deep in you that it cannot be contained is not unlike hearing the right song at the right moment or witnessing a painting that transcends explanation. This is the exact goal of artists all over the world, to move a person with their creation in an effort to recreate these primal emotional moments.

 

I recently moved my family to farm country. I was not leaving “The Big City” by any stretch, but certainly a hub of commerce, traffic and noise. So much so that for years I have not really seen the stars. Yes the commute is long and yes we are re-learning how/where to shop, but the feeling I get when I truly smell earth, or hear cows somewhere (close) in the night, or see a vast expanse of stars overhead on a crisp fall night have led to emotions that I have been unfamiliar with.

I equate the time we have spent here so far as coming up for air from a multi-year deep-sea dive. My arms want to stretch as far as they can and grasp nothing and my feet want to run forever at full speed and get nowhere. This is art to me.

 

The above picture is taken from my commute shortly after leaving my house. After this was taken, my phone goes away and I am left on this road to think about my day, my week, and my life and by the time I plug in, I begin to write. It feels effortless as the thoughts are untethered by the grind that had their claws in me for so long.

 

Open space is why we vacation in the mountains or the beach. We need to recharge our batteries away from the pollutants in our everyday life. This is the very environment that artists have been recreating with communes and workshops since the beginning of commerce avalanches.

 

I am not trying to start a movement, otherwise you might all end up back in my space, but I am championing the notion of finding your own vast horizons. To quote Joe Versus the Volcano, “away from the things of man”, GO! You really won’t believe how many stars there are!

Am I “Happy”~A Checklist

 

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I am a happy person by nature, but just like everybody else, I can slip into doubt on a moments notice. Insecurities coupled with a general sense “this can’t be right” will have me questioning whether I am actually happy or have I just gotten really good at pretending. After a quick completion of my general checklist, I always come to the same conclusion. I am traversing this world as a generally happy person and my insecurities or doubt stem from the brooding artist in me. This is my nature.

But what is this checklist I use? I have a series of beliefs that I check in on to remind myself what happiness is actually made of. A quick tune in/up reminds me of my perspective goals and brings the needle back due north. Here are four of my favorites:

 

“I Love You Man”

This scene is most often depicted in film by a guy who has imbibed too much and draped over his friend professing his deep-rooted love. I see this more as a general love for other people. I like to make sure I truly care about other people’s happiness and let them know, within reason. I really love celebrating other people’s successes and I want to be the person that they go to first if they need a shoulder. Even if I have never met them before, because a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet.

 

Right Here, Right Now

I am a parent, and one of the first things people love to tell you is “it goes so fast”. My observation about that truth is life seems to pass you by quicker the more you live in memory. I try to be eyes wide open all the time and really pay attention to every nuance that constructs every little moment in the present. My favorite movie quote of all time is from Joe Versus the Volcano ~ “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement”. I try to stay awake because I have never met an unhappy person in a state of amazement!

 

Eyes on the Prize

“Mo money, mo problems.” I have the general understanding that money is not the source of happiness. I have had some and I have had none, so my litmus test kit is in order. Most people have money as their goal. Don’t get me wrong; I am not going to go all “possession free yogi” on you because money is important. Everybody needs to generate enough to live a quality life on, but for me, a speed boat and plane are not desirable objects. Instead I truly load my basket with the eggs of my children’s health, quantity time with my wife and dinners at long tables full of family or friends. Not only does this fill my happiness reservoir every time but these goals are more achievable on a regular basis.

Sound Sleeper

When is the last time you took a sleep inventory? Look back at last night and assess how you have slept. I take an inventory every morning. It’s not necessarily the amount of time you slept, although that plays a part, but rather the quality of sleep you got. Did I have good dreams? What were my dreams about (I try and remember as much detail as possible)? How does my body feel this morning? If something is off track then I try and figure out how to improve on it. I analyze my own dreams to find the source and see if something can be corrected physically to change or repeated to secure the good ones. This takes some practice but is my path to sound sleeping and excitement getting there.

 

These are just 4 ways that I track my happiness to make sure that I am on point, but more importantly to remind myself to ignore the doubts in life that have me questioning my happiness and simply trust the process. How do you measure your happiness?

 

[BLANK] As ART #4, Relationships

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Welcome back to our monthly series of BLANK as Art! As a recap, this is where we uncover, rediscover and often redefine what “art” is.

In our recent adventures, we have unearthed a few topics that one does not generally look at as art and exposed the parallels to art so as to see it in a different light. Today we look at relationships.

We can all agree that dancing is a form of art. One of the freest and expressionist forms of art created by the individual and presented to the public for their interpretations or executed as a team and presented for the same reasons. If we take into consideration that relationships are not unlike a dance then we recognize the connection. If “Dancing” is “Art” and “Relationships” are a “Dance” then “Relationships” are “Art”. See how that works?

Let’s then explore the nuances of the art form of relationships.

First of all the longer we work at a relationship, is the longer that we are invested with our hearts and emotion. The purest foundation of art is emotion. We see, or experience a singular act performed within the confines of the relationship and we are moved emotionally. This is not unlike my previous stated experience of being moved to emotion by a Mark Rothko painting. Not only are we moved emotionally, but also we use this emotion to guide us through next steps.

The emotional reaction to a relationship can harvest negative reactions as well. When a relationship takes a turn, be it slight or course changing, we are apt to react with anger, disbelief, sadness or even rage. Think of a piece of traditional art that has had the same effect on you. Perhaps a painting depicting injustice or abuse, a song that pushes the lyrics past your own personal point of comfort or any attack senses that your body goes into natural defense mode. How is this different than the issues that arise to test the strength of a relationship? The answer is, it is not.

Finally, Relationships are complex. The more that we work at it, the more hours that we put into building and learning, is the more impossible it is to duplicate the results. Layers of complexity are stacked on top the other with every team decision you make. Each layer can prove to strengthen the piece or be the deciding factor in the demise of what once was a masterpiece.

 

Not everybody can do traditional forms of art and are just as happy witnessing the work of others and the same goes for relationships. However, anybody can learn to do either with time, patience and flexibility of their previous conceptions and definition of art and relationships respectively.

Halloween and Little Feet

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Finally, the seasons are changing! Here in California, as I am sure you are aware, we have been dealing with a drought that has claimed the lives of countless lawns and put dramatic water restraints on all of us. This parched earth has not been made easier with our sporadic triple-digit temperatures that seem to pop up out of nowhere. However, it seems that a reprieve is imminent.

For the last 5 days in a row, we have had to close the windows in the house at night and turn the heater on the early morning hours. Before the dust could burn off the grates, we have rushed to storage and taken down the bins of autumn and Halloween decorations to properly receive the season.

As our annual archeological dig commenced we were once again reminded of our bounty and how they came to be in our possession. So much of our décor was created with the help of our young children as a testament to their growth as well as the holiday.

Here are our 4 favorite items and how they were created.

 

  1. Spiders and Ghosts on Canvas: For our son we painted a canvas all black then let him put his bare feet into a plate of white paint. He then proceeded to place his foot onto the now dry canvas. When the picture is turned upside down, his foot is the shape of a ghost. Let dry and draw in eyes and a mouth! For our baby, we were a little more hands on (literally). For her we painted her canvas bright orange then painted her little sausage hands black then pressed her whole hands on the now dry canvas. When turned upside down they look like spiders. Add a few cobwebs, eyes and the work “EEEK” at the bottom and voila!

 

  1. Monster Hands: For this we traced our kid’s hands, all the way up to their forearms, on green construction paper. Then we cut them out and glued them to a black and orange sheet of paper. We then gave them dried beans and lentils to glue wherever they wanted on the hand. This gives the effect of warts and lesions. With a couple of candy corn nails, you have monster hands.

 

  1. Window Spiders: On the inside of the windows to their bedrooms we took black paint and again painted, or let them put their hands in. Then they press their hands to the windows with the left and right fingers facing out and the palms overlapped to make a really large spider right on the window. They can then wait for the paint to dry and scrape off the eyes.

 

  1. Outdoor Ghost: We bought a cheap white bed sheet and inflatable ball from the local drug store. Cut a hole in the top of the sheet and place the ball in the middle of the sheet. Run a string, rope or wire hanger through the hole in the sheet and attach to the ball, then draw a face on the ghost. We have our ghost hanging outside the dining room window from the roof and lit him from underneath with a floodlight. Ours is a friendly ghost with soft eyes and a smile as to not scare the little’s when the wind blows.

One of the major things to take into consideration when doing any of these projects is things will most likely get messy. Paint very rarely goes exactly where you want it to when applied to your toddlers, so be sure and use patience and washable paint. The best part of these projects (with the exception of our friendly ghost) is that year after year you get to see the growth of your little ghouls, and of course the kids think that being allowed to draw on them is a blast.

Happy Haunting!

Corporations and Philanthropy

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Perhaps you have witnessed the amazing exposure that we have been receiving over the last few weeks. What started out with a local newspaper interview led to a different radio station featuring us as their “feel-good story of the week”. This in turn is where the proverbial dominoes began to topple and before we knew it, BuzzFeed did a compilation video on us, UpWorthy did a piece, The Mighty proved incredibly lucrative and before we could scoot a box of crayons out of the way, NBC Nightly News contacted us as well as Canada and Europe. We had gone viral! Our social media channels blew up our numbers/response times remain impressive.

One of the unforeseen snags in this whole experience has been generating support from each level of need. Literally overnight, we had groups forming all over the country, and beyond, to collect crayons and send them to us, which is amazing. We have even had people offering to help sort and melt, but the one thing that has been steady is that we continue to feed our dream out of our personal home, melting in our personal kitchen and storing crayons in our personal garage.

The support and supply line is starting to outgrow our capacity. To take the next logical step in our growth, maximize our reach to the kids in hospitals and move in tandem with the outpouring of physical support, we need corporate sponsorship. This set us to wondering how and why would corporations donate to non-profits that clearly have the attention of millions of people.

 

Why They Donate

Many companies contribute out of a combination of altruism and self-interest, and it is nearly impossible to determine where one leaves off and the other begins. The attitudes of top management more than any other factor seem to impact the giving philosophies of corporations. Often the personal lives of the people in charge play a major role and the philanthropic arm reaches out through their teams to find a message that rings in them viscerally. Other reasons they give have a more bottom-line effect and involve the image factor of the company that is going to be represented, such as:

  • Influence legislators and other opinion makers.
  • Build better public and community relations.
  • Improve the quality of life in the geographic locales in which they operate. (Cleaner, safer, better-educated communities are good for business.)

 

This was all extremely interesting to us, and as we continue to grow (some days at an alarming rate) we look to learn as we seek other to help us expand. The bottom line is that we are very interested in sharing our growth and are certainly ready to do so. With the amount of volunteers out there actively collecting and the amount of children in need of our crayons in hospitals around the world, the time is now! Are you interested in taking us to the next level? Contact us simply by filling out this form or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.

What Exactly Is Labor Day?

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Well, another Labor Day has come and gone, and once again, here are the takeaways: Most got a three-day weekend, those that had to work dealt with a manageable level of traffic and we are once again unsure if we are allowed to wear anything white now for the rest of the year. But what really is Labor Day?

We will give a brief history of how the holiday came to be and what it means today. Sufficed to say, you can safely wear all the white you want.

How It Started

In September 1882, the unions of New York City decided to have a parade to celebrate their members being in unions, and to show support for all unions. At least 20,000 people were at the parade and anybody that came gave up a days work.

By 1887 Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Colorado made Labor Day a state holiday based on the success of their own parades held for the same reasons.

 

Who Exactly Started It?

Matthew Maguire, a machinist, and a carpenter have been linked to the 1882 parade. The men were from rival unions and because of their similar-sounding names the actual credit has been lost in time. In 2011, Linda Stinson, a former U.S. Department Labor Historian was tasked with deeming the creator and she arrived at the same conclusion. Hence, we give credit to both men.

President Grover Cleveland and lawmakers in Washington wanted a federal holiday to celebrate labor and Cleveland signed an act in 1894 establishing the federal holiday “Labor Day”. Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to make Labor Day a federal legal holiday on the first Monday of September. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

 

What’s Up With the Whole Wearing White Thing?

This old tradition goes back to the late Victorian era. Because the date of Labor Day was officially September 1st, it became the mark of the end of summer. Wearing white was considered a fashion faux pax after the summer holiday as it was considered the color most associated with vacation attire and to be worn at your summer cottage. We have long surpassed this fashion snafu and are more than free to wear whatever we like.

 

So there you have it. Not unlike other days and celebrations we celebrate as a nation, there is great meaning and historical significance to Labor Day. People have suffered long and hard for the right to take a day off, so do recognize the people that build our country and tip them the hat, even if it is white.

[BLANK] As ART #3, Nature

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So at this point we have reached the understanding that “art” is emotional. If for some reason you have not been privy to the first two posts in regards to redefining art, then please take a moment to scroll back through the blogs, don’t worry we will wait.

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Ok, is everybody back? Let’s proceed.

Art is so much more than colors on canvas, a sculpture of a figure in time or a charcoal sketch of a bowl of fruit. Art is where we go to escape, to take a break from the daily grind of life and find the peace and solitude needed in order for us to tune back into our soul. By this simple criterion, is there anything in the universe more fitting to be dubbed “art” than nature? We think not.

Nature is the very essence of art. When one communes with nature the points of conscience and sub-conscience are alerted in our bodies as they align and tune. Our chakras open up and a steady circular current of positive energy flows in a snake-like pattern from one to the other. Sorry, I actually just slipped into mini-mediation.

Buddhist monks use the mantra and meditative chant of Ohm, but do you know what Ohm is? Ohm is the natural sound that our planet makes when one quiets their mind enough to hear it. It is literally the electrical hum of energy that radiates from our planet. Guess where the monks came to hear this sound? NATURE, correct.

Mother Nature herself is the world’s oldest artist and everything she touches is her brush to canvas. A sunset over a mountain range or the wind swept patterns in a sand dune, are exactly the feeling that millions of artists have been trying to recreate for centuries, and she nails it every time without trying.

Watch any documentary on any animal species in our kingdom and report back to me if their existence is not art. In the animal world, there are instincts and patterns of how they manage their survival and often their intricate markings as a painter’s pallet. Our human skin is boring by compression.

There will be naysayers always, and while I believe that to argue against nature as art is as feeble as arguing that fire is not hot, or water not wet, I do reserve one final example that is a “drop the mic, walk away” moment. The Aurora Borealis (The Northern Lights) is the sweeping green, yellow and red lights that swoosh across our magnetic poles. “Auroras are produced when the Magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the Solar Wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both Solar wind and magnetospheric pressure, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color” (thanks, Wikipedia).

 

So there you have it, nature is art in the rawest and untethered sense. Anywhere you look in nature, you are sure to be emotionally swayed in one direction or another, and that is how I define “art”.

But I’m Just a Server

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Let’s have a quick “get to know the voice” moment. My name is Tobin and I am a foodie. This is a qualifying statement so that you can know that the soliloquy I am about to launch into comes with years of back-story and passion.

I am 4+ years removed from food and beverage, where once I held the keys to 4 separate kingdoms. I was the F&B Manager at a prestigious golf club, and Assistant General Manager at a fine dining steak house, a General Manager at a Michelin recognized seafood restaurant and a partner in a bar and grill in San Francisco. For 15 years, I toiled in the service industry making sure that people’s lofty expectations were met while simultaneously struggling with my own internal “is this it?” soul searching. Eventually I wrote myself out of the industry with my book “What Seems To Be the Problem (a Restaurant Managers Tale)”, but I have since been compelled to inspire other foodies to realize that what you do to keep the lights on does not always define you as a person.

Why then is this a topic being explored here on The Crayon Initiatives blog site?

Well as a representative of TCI, our largest contributor to our goal is the restaurant business. One of the sparks that ignited our plight came from a restaurant table and wondering just where do the sorry, broken and rubbed down nubs of crayons end up after the 10 and unders are done gnawing on them, rubbing them into carpets and dropping them into their ketchup. When we started to peel back the layers of damage to our environment by simply dropping them in the trash at the end of a busy shift, we realized that something had to be done. That call to action resulted in the design and construction of our deposit boxes that could be left at the hostess stand of any restaurant for the deposit and regular gathering of these sad little crayons at the end of their life. By starting here, we knew we could gather enough crayons to recycle into brand new crayons for distribution to Children’s Hospitals all over the Country.

Here is where you the server come in. It has been my experience that at some point in most servers’ career, they start to desire something more fulfilling than delivering food and drinks. On the whole, servers are deeply caring individuals that are really aware of carbon footprints and the deeply rooted desire to please others. Why else would they practice their craft daily? The joy received from delivering a nice night out needs to be harvested and often time duplicated, but how? After all, you’re just a server, right? WRONG!

As far as we are concerned you are our liaison. Next time you go to any restaurant, be it yours or a favorite place to dine, take a quick glance around for one of our collection boxes. If there is not one there, you have just found the answer to “how can I make a difference?”

You can contact us directly to explore the options on how to get The Crayon Initiative involved with your restaurant. Once the unassuming and subtle boxes are posted in a centralized location, you can bring the message to your tables. Let them know that you have been proactive about the concerns with used crayons going into the landfills and are currently collecting them so they can be given new life in the hands of those that need them most. Behind the scenes, we can work out all the details.

Never sell yourself short of the potential that you have and never rest on the laurels that there is nothing you can do. There certainly is a way to make a deep impact and it all starts with you!

Contact us through this website! We can’t wait to find out how together we can make a real difference.

Five Back-To-School Tips That Never Make the List

 

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Once again the time is upon us, as the tans begin to fade, the last remaining grains of sand come dislodged from the places that only sand can find and new school shoes gear up for a couple of month of kicking rocks to and from the bus stop accompanied by an infinite supply of grumbling. Ah yes, a new school year full of promise as well as challenges.

Not unlike most monumental happenings, the ones less likely to survive the shift are those that choose to milk the remaining minutes out of the passing time rather than prepare for it. Some simply find themselves in a been-there, done-that mentality and invariably get bowled over by the unforeseen challenges that arise. Whether it is your first back-to-school year or you live in a shoe; we all seem to know the basics, but those aren’t enough.

Here then are five things that don’t make most back-to-school lists that are sure to give you that veteran appearance and calm the seas for your smooth sailing.

1. Don’t Unleash a Swarm of Questions on the Teacher, Day 1

We all know that we have the most important kid in the class and we really need everybody to see that only the best will do for our prince/princess, but think about the cross-examination you are about to deliver so you can have every question answered on day one and then multiply that by the 20 other parents dropping off. Don’t add to the confusion. You have 3 things to do when you get to the school, drop off, honk and wave….that’s it!

2. Get There Early

This was true back in my days of being dropped off, and now imagine it with the shrinking to nonexistent attention span of the triple-shot mocha choca locha malarkey, four minutes late to their own funeral, no time to say hello-goodbye mom on a mission. We snicker at them until inevitably we are them. Make it a goal to not be them. Be early. “On time” is so 2000.

3. Think About Your Kids Feelings

Even if the beginning of the school year is not a cataclysmic jump, like 8th to 9th grade, the beginning of a new school year is the prime environment for anxiety to grow in. Talk to your kids in the last few weeks of summer and find out how they are feeling about the coming year. If they are too young to fully express themselves, be proactive and incorporate a nighttime book that deal with this topic in a fun and professional way. Ask what they think the other kids are expecting and help them reach that goal, but most of all, just listen. Let your child know that you’re on their team! This will take any loneliness out of the vastness of the moment.

4. Talk To Your Kids EVERY DAY About Their Day

This is not only underrated, but the first item to slip through the cracks after the first few weeks. Most families start with the intent of making the first conversation around the dinner table resemble exactly the Ozzie and Harriet shows they grew up on (did I just date myself?), but then the calendar gets heavy, siblings are coming and going and before you know it the “tell us about your day” is replaced with “there are Hot Pockets in the freezer”. Find the time to ask and listen how EVERY DAY is going for your kid, all year long. You will most likely be able to hear what they aren’t telling you this way.

5. This One is a Two-Fer and Will Save Gray Hairs

Get closer to your computer, I am going to whisper this so not everybody hears, because what I am about to tell you pays dividends over and over again. First-buy Two PE outfits! Not only does this cut your laundry cycle down by more than half, but also your kid won’t become “Stinky Pete” in the yearbook! Secondly-Never buy a key lock for a locker, only buy combo. This teaches the child number memorization as stops you from having to search, and then buy, multiple locks all year long. If they wanted in their locker so badly they should have remembered the number….being a parent is fun!

So there you have it, five things that seldom make the traditional lists but are sure to save you gray hairs or pulling it all out…make a note that I am bald and only want to give back!