They take me back to a time not so long ago when, armed with high school graduation gifts of checks and cash, I first set out to furnish a college dorm room.
I picked out purple bath towels, a plastic shower bag and was lucky to find a purple hair dryer, too. (Boy, decor has come a long way in the 10 years since I was doing my off-to-college shopping -- now you can even get a mini fridge to match your curtains.)
Despite all that I have gone through since first leaving for college -- becoming a wife, moving to a new town, my first job, having a son -- that time of my life is still fresh on my mind this time of year.
I had no idea what to expect when we arrived with all my gear in tow at the freshman honors dorm building. In fact, I never knew what to expect during the entire four years.
I soaked it all in every way I could, even the decorating.
If I had to help any upcoming freshmen with their back-to-school shopping lists, I'd offer the following suggestions:
• A good planner/calendar. Whether you use your iPhone or an old-fashioned weekly planner, keep track of all your important dates. Write down due dates for papers, midterm tests and, of course, the dates of your team's home games. It's as important to know when you'll be too busy to study as it is to know when you have a test coming up. Plan for everything as much as possible.
• A notebook for each course. Keep all your notes for a class in the same place. And, oh yeah, actually take notes. They won't do you any good if you can't find them, though.
• An alarm clock. It seems like a movie scene, sitting straight up from a deep sleep, sprinting across campus and bursting through a door to find the final exam is already over. Believe me. It does actually happen. I was lucky enough to get there in time to take the test (I got an A-minus) when it happened to me, but arriving in my sweats and scooting past all the other students already engaged in deep thought over question No. 20 was plenty humiliating enough.
• An electric fan. I ran a fan year-round in my dorm room, and it accomplished several things. For one, it provided some white noise, which can come in handy when you're sleeping in a small room with another person. Secondly, at least in my dorm, I didn't have a lot of control over the finicky radiator and there was no AC, period, so it was always, always too hot.
• A lamp. That other person in your room might not want all the lights on when you're staying up studying, so a lamp you can point away from your roommate's area and onto yours is vital.
As exciting as the shopping is, it will be the experience that follows that is so life-changing.
It's hard to believe sometimes that I've traded late-night study sessions for late-night nursing sessions, but I'll always look back on my college days fondly.
It wouldn't be fair to compare the joys of being a mom with the excitement of being a student, but I will say, make the best of it kids, because it will be over before you know it.
• Contact Jessica Wiant at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more "That's Life" and other family news go to www.nvdaily.com/moms.