Is Kindness Overrated?

Kindness – the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate

Growing up I was taught to be kind to others. We were told to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We learned to turn the other cheek. We were groomed to not give in to people’s antics and give them the power to shift who we were and who we were striving to be. “Don’t give them the power to anger you.”, they said. “Kill them with kindness.” But, is kindness really the answer to everything?

When thinking of kindness and the acts associated with being kind, the one thing that is left out is that kindness requires you to do favors and be one of selflessness. Constantly being kind is draining and it can turn you into a “yes ma’am/sir” type of person when you would really want to be a, “HELL NO!” type of gal.

There is power in kindness. Being kind has the ability to inspire others. Kindness has been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion. But kindness can be seen as a sign of weakness. It’s a gift that is often exploited. Takers will take as long as givers give. And in the end, one’s kindness is easily taken for granted.

People that are kind rarely ask for help because they’re always helping others. Being kind often takes away your time and resources, and you can’t properly take care of yourself mentally or physically. More often than not, you end up burnt out.

So is it worth putting your own health in jeopardy in an effort to care for others. Is your self-worth attached to your willingness to be caring and considerate? Is it a necessity to feel needed? Why is being kind so important? If I take care of me and I’m not being ill-mannered towards you, is that not enough? Let’s start by being kind to ourselves so we can honestly and sincerely become more loving and affectionate towards others. Let’s learn to respond to others out of love instead of obligation.

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Straight to the Point

She believed she could so she did. And, she has no intentions of stopping.

Just a friendly reminder today, if you want it, it’s yours to have.

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Home Sweet Home

April has arrived and we have many reasons to celebrate. The winter chill is fading and the days are getting longer. April appeared and with it came April Fool’s Day, Easter and Autism Awareness Month. For me, as a parent, April brought the beginning of the end of my son’s first year of college. As the weeks start to wind down, the reality of him coming home for approximately four months is starting to set in. Because he chose a college more than a few miles away, he has not been able to travel home as frequently as I would have liked. However, he was home for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Break and during that four week period, every member of our household realized how much had changed in a short period of time. As parents, we want out children to stay kids. While they stay our children for eternity, they can’t remain kids forever.

One of the first things we noticed during the Winter Break is that our son had outgrown us and our antics. He didn’t want to play games/cards with us, he didn’t want to go to the Sno Cone Hut and he was not trying to watch TV as a family. It didn’t take long for us to realize he had become accustomed to his independence and was ready to head back down the road.

As we prepare for an even longer stay, there are things I’ve had to learn as a parent and things he will have to adjust to as a young adult. For starters, if he’s not home, we don’t ask his whereabouts, we just ask if he’s okay. More than likely he will tell us where he is or where he’s going, but he has that option. Because he’s outgrown most of his high school friends, his trips include the drive thru for food and the grocery store. Regardless, our only question is, “Are you okay?” We have to trust that he’s going to make responsible decisions.

The second thing I’ve learned or had to reprogram myself to do is close the door. Every person in the household needs some level of privacy. Everybody has been in their own space ad we all had to adjust to respecting the personal space of each other. Immediately after my son packed his last bag in the trunk, we stopped closing doors. Imagine walking in and seeing your mom bare. In his mind, the door should have been closed unless I was clothed. And, I concur.

Accountability and responsibility is a must. I’ve always shared with my son he could not sit around the house all summer and do nothing. For years our summers were consumed with basketball and track. This summer he has to get a job. I don’t think it’s acceptable to have a young man sitting around the house all day without responsibilities. I have sheltered him from the storm in the past but it’s time for him to go out and earn his own coins so he can better learn to appreciate ours. Not that he takes things for granted, but you spend your own money differently.

Without putting too much pressure on him, he’s going to once again be tasked with household chores. He did NOTHING during the Winter Break and I found myself constantly fussing about the dishes in the sink overnight (that were placed there after the kitchen was cleaned) or the excessive pile of laundry. We gave him a break but you must maintain your space and be mindful of the fact that we like a clean house. If he were in his own space, he would clean his house. So, since this is his temporary living arrangement, he has to help with the maintenance.

For those momma’s that have watched their babies leave and then return home, what were some of the adjustments you had to make? How did you cope?

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The Problem in Education – Why People Leave?

Top 6 career options for teachers who are tired of the classroom

This has been a very unique school year for educators and students across the nation. Since March 2020, we have tried virtual teaching, face to face learning and hybrid models and none have been effective. More students are failing and the lack of parental support has become more pronounced. At the conclusion of this school year. many educators will walk away from this profession. Some will say it was because of the difficulty and demands of dealing with Covid. Some will say it’s because parents have failed in their roles and teachers don’t want to take on the task of dealing with students that have been at home for an extended period of time. The reality of it is teachers are going to walk away due to the stress that comes along with teaching. Teachers are stressed for a variety of reasons and many of those reasons will cause us to continue to have a shortage of teachers.

One of the top reasons teachers leave the profession is because the work and pay don’t equate. Teachers are required to plan, complete morning duty, afternoon duty, lunch duty and recess duty. They have to grade papers, write lesson plans, clean the classroom, make copies and then handle discipline. Very seldom do teachers have a full lunch and I can almost assure you few leave work at the designated time. Teachers have staff development, trainings, team meetings and are typically not compensated for anything extra. Most of it falls under “other duties as assigned”.

With all that teachers are responsible for doing and the amount of accountability that comes with the job, the level of respect is debilitated. Teachers take the blame for everything. The kids are not doing well in school; it’s the teacher’s fault. The lack of respect is shown every time teachers are denied adequate funds for supplies and preparation to teach the students.

Standardized testing is also tiring. Attending college for four years and never having an opportunity to engage your students and help them discover what is unique and interesting to them is a downer. Standardized testing has taken away so many learning experiences.

More importantly, the emotional toll of being in education is exhausting. Surveys show educators report their mental warfare is not good. When teachers physically leave for the day, they are still mentally and emotionally attached to their students and the demands of the day and the nest day. Many educators feel they never have time off.

After 25 years of teaching, I would have thought I would understand this profession as well as I understand who I am as a person. 25 years later, I’m starting to question this career. Five years ago, I would always say, “I’m good with it because I’m on the down side of this.” Five years later, I’m not good with it and the downside of it has me spiraling downhill. This year has caused me to question if I’ve wasted my time and efforts in this profession. I realize that in order to create and keep academic success, we have to build retention in our teachers. In order for that to happen, the intentions of our partners must change.

Have you done anything today to make an educator smile? Try it because they definitely need it.

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Stay Healthy, Stay Happy

A few months ago, I blogged about my health and some things I wanted to do to improve my fitness as well as my well-being. The doctor recommended I lose five pounds and I ended up gaining 11 so that was a downer for me. While I was disappointed, I wasn’t surprised because I stress eat during the spring semester. Spring is a very busy season that consists of lots of track practices, track meets, year end activities at school and STAAR, STAAR and STAAR. It is during this time I am inconsistent with working out and with me still being uncomfortable with going to the gym, my activities are limited on longer work days and/or practice days. The good thing is I found some resourceful ways to help me create healthier habits.

One of my biggest motivations was joining a group for the month of April that I have to be accountable to. Our campus is participating in a Million Mile Month Challenge and as a team we have to try to walk/run one million miles during the month of April. You are required to set a goal and it tracks your progress daily. Not wanting to disappoint the team has me moving a lot more these days. Between walking during my conference period and after work, I am logging 4-6 miles daily.

In addition to the Million Mile Month Challenge, I am back on track doing challenges through the RunKeeper app. I completed challenges throughout the spring and summer of 2020 and I would push myself to meet the goal every month. I recall having one mile to run to successfully complete a 30 mile challenge and while I didn’t want to do it, I felt I had come too far to quit. RunKeeper sets the challenges and I can accept them if I feel up for the task. This definitely kept me on course with staying active daily. I’m hoping for a repeat in 2021.

One of my biggest fears has been the idea of not being able to get my blood pressure under control. I count calories everyday but it seemed it wasn’t working. I finally started using the Samsung Health app to track more than my daily steps. I’ve started logging my food at the beginning of the day. Because I prep my breakfast and lunch plus my morning and afternoon snack, I can log those food items in the morning. This gives me an idea of how many calories I can acquire and still not exceed the recommended intake by the day’s end. The greatest feature of doing this is the app also highlights my intake of nutrients including protein, fiber, calcium, iron, saturated fat and sodium. This has helped a great deal in understanding why my blood pressure is high and what foods I need to remove from my diet to get back on track. I would have never thought a prepackaged salad bowl had that many grams of sodium in it. And no, I don’t read the packages before buying. Having that resource has opened my eyes.

Needless to say, using the Samsung Health app has me feeling thrilled about the progress I can make in the next 30 days. While the goal is to lose weight and get my blood pressure under control, I realize a lifestyle change is also necessary beyond the 30 days. This process is the beginning and I hope my desires of being healthy and happy continue to grow.

What are some of your fitness ideas and what do you guys do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

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My Guilty Pleasures

Hybrid teaching has forced me into an uncomfortable position. Most days I leave work angry, stressed and looking for comfort. While looking for solace, I’ve become more attentive to my guilty pleasures because they provide some sort of peace. My guilty pleasures may seem like the norm to most people, but they really keep me from focusing on things I should be doing like folding clothes, completing a project for work, or planning a lesson. But we all want to feel satisfied, right? And there is no real rule to the rights and wrongs of feeling content. What are some of your guilty pleasures? Are you able to relate to any listed below?

  1. Listen to read-alouds – I love reading and have always been an avid reader. However, I’ve gone from reading 10-12 books a month to 10-12 a year, if that many. Because I don’t spend as much time reading, I’ve started listening to kid’s stories. I totally enjoy listening to children’s stories and find myself thoroughly entertained.
  2. We’re going to need more wine. – Oh, that was a title of Gabrielle Union’s book and clearly my new motto. If nothing else helps, drink a glass of wine. I’ve had more glasses of wine in the last year than I consumed in the previous 20 years. Not the best solution for someone trying to shed a few pounds.
  3. I eat chicken wings every Wednesday. Crazy huh? I cook on Mondays and Tuesdays and my husband cooks on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays are extremely busy days for us and instead of cooking, we typically eat takeout. My takeout is always chicken wings, flats only.
  4. Scroll through people’s entire Instagram feed – I am a obsessed with fashion. When I find a person that has great fashion sense and likes color blocking, I will peruse their entire feed for inspiration.
  5. Shopping for dresses – I don’t even know why I still look at dresses. I have so many dresses that I forget I have dresses. But, I am obsessed with colors and flair and dresses are easier. I don’t have to worry about coordinating pieces to complete an outfit.
  6. Watching Law and Order – I will sit around and watch reruns of Law and Order for hours. I’ve seen almost every episode, I know how the story ends yet I am gratified when Law and Order is on the screen.
  7. Taking pictures – I’m not a selfie type of girl but I will ask any random person to snap a picture of me. My personal photographers include my husband, my son, sisters, friends and even my students.
  8. Eating ice cream after 10:00 – Why is it I never want ice cream at 7:00 or 8:00? I always desire ice cream when I should be heading to bed. And I always fill that craving even when I shouldn’t.
  9. Signing up for rewards programs – I have signed up for tons of rewards programs and then I get upset when I receive 300 emails daily. The number of emails are overwhelming but I know when I need a coupon or I am looking for a specific item, I’ll find it attached to the deal of a lifetime.
  10. Adding items to my Amazon cart – I add about 10 items per week to my Amazon cart and then I save it for later. LOL! At the end of the year, I go through all of my saved items and decide I’m not interested in half of the things I have saved. LOL!

I know we all have our own set of guilty pleasures. Different strokes for different folks. I would love to hear what kind of guilty pleasures you have. Maybe I can replace some of my unsatisfactory ones with some that are a little more passable.

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30 for 30 – Part II

Spring is officially here and it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. If you read my post 30 for 30 – Part I, you know I’m trying to complete 30 activities in 30 days. I’ve compiled a list of random things to help me reset and find a place of peace as I approach the beginning of the end of a very stressful school year.

Last year during this time I was on the downside of graduate school and looking for the strength to make it through. There was no family vacation, no impromptu staycations, just weekly trips to Target and Walmart looking for toilet paper and Clorox wipes. Well, I’m ready for it all this year. Kind of… So here’s the second half of my 30 for 30 quest in trying to gain some sense of normalcy now that most states have opened back up.

  1. Go Kayaking – I’ve been kayaking before and enjoyed it, but my arms were tired and my son had to do all the work. However, on a nice, calm day, kayaking would be a very relaxing activity to try again.
  2. Have a garage sale – I have so many things I need to get rid of, even after making donations to Goodwill. I’ve considered a virtual garage sale but I’m not really sure how that works. Do I ship the items once they’re sold or do I package the items and have people stop by a general location to pick them up?
  3. Fly a kite – I joke about a gentlemen that often attempts to fly his kites at the park. It’s so entertaining because he often fails but he seems so fulfilled trying to get his kite going. During those moments, I’m able to envision a child with no worries and I need to get to that space if only for a few minutes.
  4. Beach, beach, beach – Beaches are our go to place. If we can’t find anything else to do, we will find time to escape to a beach.
  5. Get a mammogram – This is a real serious matter. I’ve had breast exams before but I have officially reached the age where mammograms are a part of my well woman exam.
  6. Seek a nutritional specialist – At my age, my body doesn’t bounce back as well as I would like. Although I exercise, my eating practices are horrific. I think making adjustments to my eating habits as well as my workout routines would be beneficial.
  7. Butterfly garden – I love the sight of butterflies. I’ve visited butterfly gardens/museums on multiple occasions and I always find a color to focus on. The first time I visited the Butterfly Museum I was immediately drawn to butterflies that were blue. The most beautiful creatures out there.
  8. Attend a baseball game – I know NOTHING about baseball. But I do love that the games are outdoors and the peanuts are always fresh.
  9. Write a letter – We are in a world of instant everything. Send a text. Just call them. Letters and postcards are treasures. Last year while cleaning, I came across letters from my parents and friends that were sent to me when I first went off to college. To go back in time and relive those moments were priceless. To revisit a conversation with my dad who is now deceased was momentous.
  10. Join a book club – At one point in time I was a member of a book club. I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie, engagement and monthly dinner with men and women alike that could appreciate a good book. It also forced me to read even when I don’t think I had time.
  11. Try new recipes – Last year I practiced cooking breakfast because I pretty much suck at breakfast. Eggs, sausage and biscuits, that’s where I draw the line. But with practice, I’ve been able to slowly add to that list. I’ve also tried some new dinner ideas and would like to add to the catalog.
  12. Color/Paint a picture – This is a very soothing activity. My husband and I just did a paint party at home and it was completely silent as we both relished in the moment.
  13. Play Board Games – I am highly competitive and enjoy games of all sorts. Typically we play cards because it’s quicker to finish a card game but again, the point of this is to be present in the moment and be at peace.
  14. Visit the Oasis on Lake Travis in Austin -We travel to Austin often but have not really explored many of the local restaurants. This is a must for me. The problem is my husband is going to want to kayak on Lake Travis. I’m still kayaking in the smaller bodies of water, not ready for Lake Travis.
  15. Tour my city _ I’ve lived in the same city all my life and still get lost going around the corner. I have no sense of direction so I travel closer to home for everything. This makes me feel safe and at ease. As a result, I don’t know much of what my city has to offer.

Whew! I have a lot to accomplish in 30 days. Fortunately, I have already started on some of my activities. While I want to experience all of these in 30 days, I don’t want to stress myself for the sake of my 30 for 30 experiment. What kinds if activities do you all partake in during the spring and/or summer? Any fun and daring adventures you have to share? Drop your ideas below.

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30 For 30 – Part I

Spring is the season when I find myself the most productive, but it’s probably because it’s the season when I’m the most busiest. Spring brings track season, end of school year festivities, closet cleanings, daylight savings time which means more time to spend outdoors and the list goes on. Because we spent last spring quarantined, I am looking forward to doing something other than worrying myself to the point of anguish as I did last year. Spring officially begins Saturday, March 20th and I have created a 30 for 30 list, 30 activities in 30 days for 2021.

  1. Clean my closet (well at least my dresses and skirts) – Dresses and skirts are my favorite clothing articles to buy. Because I have so many, some get lost. Every spring I clean and shop my closet. I find pieces to revamp and create a “new” wardrobe for the summer.
  2. Read – Spring starts my reading marathon. I don’t know if it’s the daylight hours, a more relaxed schedule or spending countless hours at track meets, but I definitely read more.
  3. Go strawberry/blueberry picking – I attempted this last spring but got to the farm too late, or something like that. I’m not sure what happened but I didn’t get any blueberries.
  4. Visit a park/playground – My husband and I used to do this every Sunday after church. I don’t know why we stopped but I want to revisit this practice. It set the tone for a peaceful and productive week.
  5. Get ice cream/popsicles from the popsicle truck – Why are the popsicles on the ice cream truck not sold in stores? I’m going to need a bomb pop, the popsicle with bubble gum for eyes, and the packaged snow cone with the bubble gum at the bottom of the packaging. Please pray I don’t have to chase the ice cream truck because I don’t think I will ever catch it.
  6. Visit a flea market – I haven’t been to a flea market in years but I find them fascinating. I’ve been seeing a few advertisements for flea markets and would like to visit one I’ve never been to before.
  7. Dye eggs – I DO NOT, I REPEAT, “I DO NOT like dying eggs!”. but it’s a tradition at our church for the kids. I’m always entertained by the mess I create. Anything for the kids!
  8. Exercise more – Spring and summer are the periods I hit it hard. This is the time I will sometimes opt for two a days or try new things such as Zumba or Hip Hop Dance. Lately, I’ve been setting a weekly goal to run 15-20 miles/week. Setting a weekly mileage goal has gotten me going a lot more than simply saying I’ll work out 3-4 times a week.
  9. Try Pilates – I know this is a part of exercising but this seems like something a lot more challenging to take me out of my comfort zone. I tend to do what is comfortable for me but it’s time for something new and improved.
  10. Sit on my patio – We bought patio furniture last spring and I spent a few days outside but not as much as I would have liked. Sitting on the patio enjoying an adult beverage in the evening was very refreshing and I am going to enjoy a few more of those days this year.
  11. Spring Clean – I’ve already started this task and after last year’s spring cleaning, there’s not much more to do other than throwing away the house. However, I know there’s still clutter in places and there are some areas that could use some organization such as photo storages and teaching materials/resources.
  12. Get a facial – I’ve never had a facial. I do most of my self-care at home but I would like to experience a professional exfoliating and peel.
  13. Staycation at Jellystone Park – Jellystone Park is about a 45 minute drive for my family. I’ve done the cabin camping thing a few times and enjoyed it. This is somewhere close enough to enjoy the camping thing again.
  14. Buy tee shirts – I’m going to try and buy some tee shirts that I will actually wear. I’ve mentioned before, I have a hard time buying tee shirts that I feel comfortable wearing. They are always too snug or too big. I’m going to figure this tee shirt thing out,
  15. Go to an amusement park – We don’t have an amusement park in our city so going to amusement parks requires us to travel. I love rollercoaster rides and will stand in lines to ride every single ride in the park. I have not been to an amusement park since 2018 so it’s long overdue.

What are your plans for the spring? I think spring cleaning is the norm for most households or just is it just my household? Any good, safe ideas that I can enjoy? Drop them below.

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“Old Words are Reborn With New Faces”

“Quotes help us understand, inspire, motivate, clarify and show our approach to things around, this is why people and I love quotes.” Takyou Allah Cheikh Malaynine

Quotes are truly an escape for me. They provide a story, a feeling, a connection. I am constantly looking for quotes to match my mood, life, personality and dreams. I keep a journal of quotes to reference whenever I need to be encouraged or when I want to read something shorter than a chapter of a book. Quotes always give me a sense of power. Currently, I’m learning to let go of lingering feelings of spite and resentment and instead embrace the beauty that surrounds me daily. Below are a few quotes that have helped me understand and welcome change, which is inevitable.

  1. “Expectations lead to disappointments.” – I know I’m not the only one that expects people to treat others a certain way. We have expectations of what others should say and do and then we end up disappointed because they don’t live up to our reality. Now, I’m learning to take the approach of, “It is what it is.” Nothing surprises me about people and even when it does, I shrug and keep going.

2. “To be happy is the choice I wish to make in spite of the circumstances that are strewn in my path.” – This has been hard for me, but I’m finally finding peace in the midst of people’s ignorance. I’m learning to not let their stupidity control my moods.

3. “Master your emotions. Control your moods.” – Self explanatory. It dictates everything and can make or break you.

4. “I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions, I want to use them, to enjoy them and to dominate them” – This one right here! I promise you, my emotions can make me weak and feel the need to hang my head low. But I’m a fighter, so I can’t let my emotions get the best of me especially on those difficult days. As with any battle, I keep pushing until I come out victorious.

5. “Never stop being a good person, because of bad people.” – I promise I want to treat people the way they treat me but it’s not a part of my design. I’m learning to accept mean and evil people and know that I don’t have to change because of them. In a world that is ruled by money and power, people will trample over you for positions. I know that what’s for me is for me and I can’t worry about other people’s journey to distinction.

How are you getting by these days? Do you need motivation to get you over hurdles in your life? Do you read books, take vacations, color, or like me, do you find quotes to fit your mood?

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Graduation Ideas

I know it seems a bit premature but graduation season is quickly approaching. One of the conversations I encountered with many moms last spring was the conversation of graduation gifts for our high school seniors. All of us had children that were traveling miles away from home to begin their college careers and we wanted them to be more than prepared. We took into account the idea of them not having their own transportation, new living arrangements, spacing in the dorm rooms/apartments and even the grocery stores and retail shops close to the campus. Keeping all of these factors in mind, we were able to give our babies graduation gifts that would help them navigate in the world of the unknown. Below are some of the items we gifted to our seniors.

  1. Money – Cash is always a bonus for seniors. It gives them the option of saving or using it to purchase any additional items they might want or need for campus life.
  2. Grocery Store Gift Cards – We researched the areas near the campuses and found the local grocery stores and purchased gift cards to the stores closest to the campus. Surprisingly, there were some students that did not have a Walmart close to their new home.
  3. Uber Eats/Door Dash Gift Cards – Because most freshman can’t have a car on campus, this gave them the option to purchase food off campus without needing a ride. It also gave them the option to pay for a ride somewhere if needed.
  4. Amazon Gift Cards – Because Amazon has everything you need, right?
  5. Self Care Packages – We created packages that had every hygiene product they could think of. This included soap, deodorant, washing powder, fabric softener, toothpaste, wipes, cologne, mouthwash, floss, body wash, shampoo, etc. Can you imagine how much we saved them by purchasing products they would need daily? We not only saved them money but a trip to the store. Oh, and as a bonus, my sister in law added a container of quarters so my son didn’t have to find quarters for laundry.
  6. Sweet Treat Care Packages – This was the same as the self care packages except it had all of their favorite snacks. This was a hit!
  7. Luggage – Most of our boys are athletes so they have to travel. The suitcase they packed their things in to move in is not sufficient for a team trip. Having suitcases of multiple sizes helped a great deal as some of their events can last up to three days and some as few as one day.
  8. School Paraphernalia – You know as freshman, we’re excited to wear our school apparel. So many students rush in the bookstore spending all of their coins on tee shirts and other gear to wear when the upperclassmen arrive. Save them the trip and buy them a few items before they hit the yard.
  9. Sheets with a high thread count – Ha! It matters. It’s bad enough you have to sleep in the twin size bed as a full grown adult. At least have quality sheets on it.
  10. Chargers, cables, extension cords – I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many plugs and gadgets in one place. The number of trips to the store to buy cords and chargers and I don’t even know what some of the stuff was, but it helped get all of my son’s mess connected.

Of course we bought the other essentials but those items were purchased throughout their entire senior year. We found our student athletes were able to save time, money and resources by having these things available to them. My son, in particular, was able to get through the entire first semester without having to go to the grocery store. Well, part of that was also because he was too lax and sometimes lethargic. The point is there was no dire need to run to the store because he had enough to accommodate his needs using the items gifted to him. What are some items you’ve found beneficial for high school graduates?

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