19 August 2013

Off to School

We just got home today from a week's vacation.  It's kind of sad to have it come to an end because we had such an amazing time.  For several years now, the state of Oregon has been calling to me:  "Anush.....anush.....come to oregon..."  Okay, not spooky like that...but I've had this feeling that I have to go to Oregon for some reason.  Neither my husband, nor I had ever been there, so this year, when we were thinking about vacation, I pulled a double whammy and said, "Hey Neddy....this year, for vacation, I want to go to Oregon."  "Okay...what's there?"   "I have no idea."  Always up for an adventure, he agreed.

Then the second part of the whammy.   "Let's go camping up the Oregon coast!!"  Although I have quite a bit of camping experience, and Ani and I have gone on mother/daughter camping trips, this was my husband's first time camping.  And I figured he's either going to love it or hate it, but I thought what's the harm of trying.  So I made the reservations and booked some very beautiful campsites on the Oregon Coast and off we went.  And I've got to say that it was incredible. And I have created a camper out of him!

The beaches are wide and expansive and clean.  If you love looking for shells, like I do, this is a great place to go shell collecting.  And rock collecting.  There are some really interesting agate beaches with beautiful pebbles.  And there are trees, trees and more trees.  The drive up the coast is lined with forests.  Huge redwoods.  And just the sight of it all makes you really appreciate God as the greatest artist of all.  The trees, the birds, the scenery, and colors in the sunset were all miraculous.  Sure, I live in California which also has the coast right there, but in Oregon there were miles and miles of pristene beaches...unspoiled.  The industry up there is timber and fishing, so great little towns dotting the coast and lots of friendly people.

We roughed it...slept in a tent.  Cooked out on the coleman stove, and although we weren't hugely successful at keeping our campfire going, it was good enough!!  So the whole experience was great.   My husband's one indulgence, or goal was getting a Dairy Queen every day for a Peanut Buster Parfait.  He's from Chicago, and I guess Dairy Queens are common there but not in CA.  So when he saw the Dairy Queens dotting the coast, all was right with the world.  Did you know there's no sales tax in Oregon?  And you can't pump your own gas.  Seriously.    We covered from Brookings to Astoria and back.  And on the way home we made a stop in San Francisco to visit my younger  brother and his family before heading home.  All in all, in 8 days we drove a total of 2015 miles! I'll post some photos of our trip on my blog.  If you'd like to see, please visit www.pomegranateandeye.com.

Well, how has your week been?  You heard that mine was great.  If you have children you know that either last week or this week is when schools are starting back up.  I was thinking back on the start of the new school year when I was in elementary and junior high school. Until recently, I think, the start of the school year was right after Labor Day, right?  For some reason it's in August now.  Anyways, there was great anticipation in  starting a new year at school  New lunchboxes, new notebooks and PeeChee folders (remember those?).  And then on the first day you'd need to bring your books home and cover them all. We'd use the brown paper bags from the grocery to cover our books.  New markers or crayons for projects...and a new eraser...the pink kind.  The Asian girls in my class always had the really cool plastic erasers from Japan that smelled sweet.  I was always jealous of them because of their scented erasers.

New school clothes.  The funny part about living in CA and back to school clothing is that mom would buy us fall clothing....the plaids and the socks and tie shoes and sweaters.  Of course we'd want to wear new clothes on the first day of school, so there's everyong all in their fall finery, except that the temperatures here in So Cal are in the 80s and 90s...hardly the cool crisp weather the clothing is meant for.  But back then, in the 70's, there were dress codes.  Shorts and tshirts were not allowed in school.  Neither were sandals. So we dealt with it. 

So as I mentioned earlier, on the way back down from Oregon we stopped in San Francisco for one evening to visit my younger brother, sister in law, and my nephew Vartan who will be starting Kindergarten this coming Monday.  After spending a very fun evening playing Pengaloo and Pikachu with him in his little igloo tent in the living room, the following morning were were able to attend Vartan's play day, a nice little get together of all the kindergarten classes at Vartan's new school.  We all met at the park, and each child was given a lei that coincided with the class they'd be in.  Vartan's lei was yellow....so immediately, he went in search of other children that had yellow leis on the playground.  It was neat to see his interaction with his new classmates....and in turn, it good to see the interaction of my brother and sister in law with the parents of Vartan's new classmates as well.

To those of us who have been there, and done that with our children, we know how difficult it is that first year.  Sending your baby off to school to fend for themselves can be very emotional.  As my brother and I stood together at the park, taking it all in, I saw him searching the playground for Vartan, making sure he was making friends.  Wanting to go up and check in with him, but being a strong daddy and holding back and letting him out there on his own.  But yet still present.

There's so much to learn when you're just starting out.  How to share, how to take turns, how to listen and not interrupt.  And then the realization that you're not the center of your teacher's universe like you are to your parents.  Being that we were visiting, I was trying to get some pictures of him and went up to him on the playground to see whta he was up to. There was a play train in the yard and Vartan was behind the wheel.  In front of him was another compartment...the engine compartment, and behind him other cars.  When I approached him he looked concerned.  When I asked what was bothering him he said,
"That girl is in the engine compartment."
I said,"Well, maybe she's the engine mechanic?"
 He answered,  "But I'm the engine mechanic".
 I said, "Well, you're behind the wheel...I think you're the engineer...and she's the mechanic."  "But I'm both!", he said.  "I am the engineer, AND the mechanic...I do everything on this train!"
I think this is the big lesson of kindergarten and of course, of life:  You CAN do everything yourself in life, but it's so much more fun when you allow others to share in your adventure.  I told him that Kindergarten was going to be different. He'd have a lot of friends that would all want to share in the fun.  And that everyone had to play together. I don't know if he bought it, but I could see him thinking about it.   And as I walked back toward my brother, I looked over my shoulder and Vartan had turned to the kids in the passenger cars behind him and was saying,  "Everybody get ready.  This training is leaving and it's going to Los Angeles!"  : ) And the little girl?  she was still in the engine compartment...as the mechanic!

And then there's us parents.  The start of school is an adjustment for us as well!  My sister in law has been a stay at home mom since Vartan was born.  Embracing motherhood and makiing sure that my nephew had diverse and challenging experiences, she signed Vartan up for all kinds of classes, workshops, activites that the both of them would attend.  Because of this, he's very well adjusted, social and makes friends easily.  And he has a super imagination too.  Now, suddenly, it's going to be different for his mom as she'll find herself alone while he's at school.  It's tough to let go now and allow all those experiences to come to an end and let the love and nurturing to do their thing.

It's like this for all our lives, no matter how old our children are.  My sister had posted photos of my two neices on their first day of school and wrote a comment on Facebook about how they were growing up and she remembered that song from Mama Mia...about how her kids were "slipping through her fingers."  One just started 5th grade, and the other high school.  I was thinking, "Just wait....til they start dating, and college...and weddings..etc."  It all flies by so quickly.

And then there's the big move if they're attending college away from home.  Suddenly after high school graduation, our kids are packing up and moving out....clothes and dorm room stuff, hot pots and ramen noodles.  Bedding and blankets.  And their rooms are empty until they come back for holidays or summer.  And then life after college:   I remember last year when I wrote about my "empty nest" and how I felt after my daughter got married.  It's much the same as that first day of school.  All of life is like a series of hills....start school, climb up through the grades, graduate.  Start a new school and you're down at the bottom of the hill again...you start the climb... freshman, sophmore, junior, senior....graduate...then start over with college back down at the bottom.  And then after school, real life. And the same with new jobs...starting at the bottom, working your way up.  If you change career's you're back at the bottom.

We love our children.  We nurture and provide for them. We teach them life lessons that we've gone through but that they can only learn if they experience it themselves.   It's our job to instill in them self confidence, curiosity, compassion, love, kindness, self-preservation and faith.  We pray for them....for their safety, for wisdom, for good friends and good judgment.   And then, when it's time, we have to let go...and let God guide them.  We have to have faith that we have done our best....and then believe that all our prayers are being heard and that God is holding our children in his loving hands and wrapping them safely in the wings of his angels.

To all of you starting off a new school year...whether students or parents. If you're a student, I wish you a successful school year with happy memories, new friends, a natural curiosity and a joy of learning.  And wishing our parents out there peace and faith in knowing that our children are right where God has intended them to be when we have raised them in a love-centered/God-centered home.  Oh, and one more thing:  College students....be patient with us parents and realize that it's hard for us to let go too.  Send us a text message and check in once in a while. Call home on the weekends.  Because we miss you more than you know.

And finally, I'm writing this on Asdvadzadzin, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  I wanted to wish all of you Mary's out there...Mariams, Mar's, Marianas, (And all you Mary-name derivatives) and my sister Susan - who is a Surpouhi, a very blessed Name Day! Anoonovut Abreek!!


If you'd like to hear the audio version of this blog, it's available for download on epostle.net, iTunes, Stitcher radio and blubrry.


Day 1: Prairie Creek Campground in the CA Redwoods.  Car camping in my car.  Me, the Tree Hugger!  

Day 2:  Loved the bridges, the Heceta Head Lighthouse and the Sasquatch Sculptures as we made our way to our campground at Cape Lookout

Day 3:  Sand Dollar collecting on the beach at Cape Lookout,  Tillamook Cheese Factory, Seaside and Astoria Oregon.

Day 4: Yaquina Head Lighthouse, Whale watching at Depoe Bay, Tidepools at Nye Beach in Newport and watching the Sunset with Jiffy Pop back at our campground

Day 5: Finishing up the sketchook project, Driving down to our new campsite at Sunset Bay, driving through Northbend and crossing the 45th Parallel

Day 6:  Picking berries at our campsite for breakfast, packing it up and visiting Coos Bay, and Bandon by the Sea and some of the beautiful beaches at Ophir and Cape Sebastian...ending up in Crescent City

Day 7:  Driving down to San Francisco and making a stop at Coppola Winery to visit our vine (tagged in 2009)  Spending time with our nephew Vartan

Day 8:  Time with family and our drive back home!  2015 miles!!!

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