Back to School Shopping – The Struggle is Real

Remind me next year to just sign up for the school supply kit that they sell!

After four trips to stores and one final online transaction today, I am happy to report that I am done with back to school shopping for my two kids.

At first glance, the lists look so easy, right?! I combined the lists for 4K and first grade and thought it didn’t look too bad! Right?! Hmm…let me tell you how it went.

I took a first attempt on my own at Target and crossed a few of the easier items off my list. I decided to use the huge supply of pencils we had at home and buy an electric pencil sharpener to pre-sharpen 24 pencils. This IS straying from the list, but I’ll see if the 1st grade teacher will accept it. We honestly will have these pencils for YEARS if I can’t let my kids use them at school. So anyway…first attempt on my own was relatively okay, but I couldn’t finish it all in one swipe because the items on the list didn’t seem like a good price or weren’t matching up as listed.

I made the mistake of taking my kids along for my second attempt at back to school shopping at Target, and it was stressful. I have to read and re-read the list to make sure I’m buying the right thing in between shouts of, “Mom, mom! Come here! I want this!” I kept shutting that down, and after an hour in the store (we had a few other things to buy) I was D-O-N-E!

It’s so frustrating matching up what you need with what the list says. For example, here’s what I was trying to buy:

  • Two highlighter markers – chisel tip, yellow & blue
  • 2 – Clorox Disinfectant Wipes – Fresh Scent, bleach free, 35 ct.
  •  5 – black chisel-tip dry erase markers (low odor)
  • 15 large Elmer’s Glue Sticks (purple, washable, dries clear)
Back to School display Sharpie

Look at this colorful display, looking all cute. If only back to school shopping were easy & fun!

This display attracted my attention, but upon closer inspection, did it have what I needed? No! Well, unless I wanted to buy a pack of ten highlighters for the two colors that I really needed.I looked at the pretty colored ten pack of highlighters and thought, “No, I’m not wasting my money on that!” I even vented to a random woman shopping near me, and she shared that she was a teacher:

“I get it, and I appreciate the detailed list, but it also drives me a bit crazy finding the exact match!”

I ended up finding highlighters in a two-pack in yellow and blue at the Dollar Store on a shopping trip sans kids.

I moved onto the chisel tip dry erase markers. My daughter needed 4 and my son needed one. Ugh…I ended up buying two packs, so we have some extra that maybe we’ll need for next year.

When with my kids, I saw a three pack of Clorox wipes. Upon closer inspection, I needed the Fresh Scent, NOT the Citrus Scent. The pack included two of the citrus scent – NOT what I needed! Ugh…again! I had to bail after that annoying realization. Another trip to Walgreens helped me find the Fresh Scent Clorox Wipes in 35 ct. Whew!

And don’t get me started on the glue sticks – my 1st grader needs 6 and my 4 year old kindergartner needs 9, making it 15 glue sticks.  Apparently they must eat the glue for snack time.  Seriously, how is it possible to make that many projects that require so much adhesive in one school year?!

One final trip to Walmart.com helped me find the remaining Ziploc bags, including one size 4XL bag and a few boxes of Kleenex. It was so nice to just do my shopping online to get those last few things.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy  and grateful that I can afford to buy my kids school supplies – crazy as the lists may be, and I will be the first to admit that this is such a #firstworldproblem / mom struggle. I know that teachers need these supplies for their students and sometimes pool them all together for the entire class to use (not sure if this still happens in 1st grade). Teachers know what supplies hold up and work best, which is why the list is so detailed.  As a type A mom, it IS really annoying, trying to get it all right. Next year I should simply do one of the following:

  • build a stock pile of school supplies to avoid minimize the annoyance of this shopping in future years
  • do all of my shopping online
  • buy the school pack of supplies offered by a 3rd party

Next year if you hear me start to complain about back to school shopping, just shut me down and tell me to listen to my own advice on my blog!

You Know Your Kids are Getting Older When…

Recently I’ve been noticing that my kids are definitely getting older in many ways. There are a few glaring instances that come to mind, as itemized in my top ten list:

  1. They tell you that they don’t want to watch Thomas the Tank Engine anymore. Though we still have the trains and some books – those are still okay.
  2. Similar to #1, they deem themselves “too old” for Sesame Street.
  3. You have to ask for a hug goodbye before they get on the bus. (Fortunately, I’m always greeted with a hug when they come home.)
  4. At a friend’s party, when you ask if they want you to stay, they quickly say, “No, Mom!”  This happened with my kindergartner already!!

    Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ's. What a way to start off the day!

    Pure sweetness: sharing a story in their PJ’s. What a way to start off the day! My son picked out his mis-matched PJ’s here (see #9).

  5. You overhear them say that grown-ups are boring! HEY!!
  6. They don’t need you to read to them all the time, as they can start to read some on their own! It’s so sweet when my daughter will read to her younger brother.
  7. One offers to help out the other (I LOVE this one – my daughter will sometimes help her younger brother get out of his car seat).
  8. They fight over who gets to unlock the door with mom’s keys.
  9. They get picky-er about what they want to wear. I expect this to only get worse!!
  10. Their room decor is a bit mixed. I made the owl below for his first birthday, and we still have animal decals on the wall above his toddler bed (which he tells me that he still likes).
Star Wars and Animals

Star Wars and owls side by side: the ULTIMATE baby – big boy juxtaposition.

What moments have made you realize that kids are growing up?

10 Things I Now Love that would Make a Younger Me Laugh

I have overheard heard myself saying things to friends that show my age and stage in life as a mom, wife, part-time employee, and homemaker. Ten years ago I would have laughed at the idea of loving some of these things, but I guess it’s part of growing up and slowly becoming more like your own mom.

Here are a few little things I now love as a 30-something:

  1. A clean & clutter-free kitchen island / countertop
  2. Freshly cleaned carpets
  3. Any uniterrupted time in the bathroom
  4. Quiet time in the kitchen to have a cup of coffee and/or make dinner
  5. An awesome programmable crockpot with a temperature gauge (life changing!!)
  6. Getting a night off from dish duty
  7. Freshly laundered sheets / clothes, dried in the sunshine
  8. Gardening
  9. Going power shopping alone (though it IS fun shopping with big sister)
  10. Enjoying a simple walk on a nature trail with my family

Do you ever catch yourself saying something that makes you feel old?! What would you add to this list?

Mom’s Musings on 1st Days of School

I can hardly believe that I now have a school-age daughter! Okay, so she only goes for mornings, but we are fully “in school” Monday through Friday now.  Last week to her delight, she hopped out of bed, willingly got ready, and ran off ahead of me, little brother and Daddy O. to her bus stop.  Before we left the house, I did capture this picture.

Big sister waving goodbye on her 1st day of school. Sniff. Sniff.

Big sister waving goodbye on her 1st day of school. Sniff. Sniff.

I’m so glad I took this picture, because when the bus came and stopped, she ran across the street so quickly to get on it.  Too fast. Too fast for me to balance my umbrella and quick snap a picture, but that’s okay.  I have good memories of her excitedly bounding off to the bus with an ear to ear grin spread across her face.  She left me there with a few tears, sneaking out of the corner of my eyes, while her little brother kept asking where she was going.  Daddy O. gave me a hug, reassuring me that I had done a good job preparing her for school.

Still…my first born, getting so grown up! I can remember those early days that were so wonderfully new and so dreadfully tiring. And those potty training days that were so frustrating. This is one strong willed girl! And to think only last summer she was growling at strangers. Those days seem so far away when I look at my daughter today. I am so proud of her.

To my surprise, I managed to convince myself that I didn’t need to get in my car and drive behind the bus.  My more practical side overpowered the “crazy mom” in me, thinking that I may not even be able to see her while she exited the bus. So little brother and I hung out while she was away. It was weird. Quieter.

I waited anxiously by the front window, peering out to see when her bus would be coming.  I realized that this waiting would be something I would have to grow accustomed to….whether waiting for her to come back from school, return from a friend’s house, and eventually drive the car home herself (yikes)! Thus is the life of a parent – spending so much time together in the early years (thinking they’ll never end some days), then slowly letting them go a bit more as they grow up (and being all crazy-mom emotional about it at times too).

She did come home and immediately told me, “some kids were arguing, but not me, Mom.” And then, “We had cheezies for snack.”  Great. Day 1 = success!

While I’d love to press the pause button through all of this, I know I have to simply breathe deep and take it all in, savoring these big milestones and the little ones too.

Other parents, how are you holding up on the first days of school?

Could this be the Summer of the Long Leash?

We’ve been having cookouts with family and friends lately, and it’s been lovely to dine al fresco and enjoy delightful company.  During and after such fun gatherings, I couldn’t help but notice how (relatively) well-behaved my kids were.  They managed to play nicely and still take some time to actually sit down and eat a meal without too much prodding on my part.  I was able to sit back more and observe more instead of being a hands-on, right-by-their-side-at-all-times mom. Such experiences makes me wonder if this could be the summer of the long leash…or at minimum, a slightly longer leash that last year.

Several younger, and adorable cookout guests under 18 months really helped illustrate the parenting and supervision required for little ones versus my preschool and 4K aged kids.  Long gone are the stages of toddling around uncertainly and slightly unpredictable behavior.  My kids ARE getting older and ARE learning how to listen and follow rules. YES! At last! It’s rewarding as a parent to be able to sit back and give them more independence, while being able to hang with the adults and actually have a longer and less interrupted conversation.

The summers of more hands-on, physically demanding parenting are behind us. The “summers of breastfeeding” my two kids seems like EONS ago! Last summer then became the “summer where I didn’t have to whip out a boob to breastfeed.” It’s the little victories, right?!

As I learned from a dear friend, and wrote about in Wise Words from a Super Mom,

“As your children grow, they become less physically demanding, and more psychologically demanding.”

These words could not be more true, and I can’t believe that I was writing about parenting getting easier even last summer!! Looking back, we’ve come so far as a family (and me personally as a mom). It’s one wild, rewarding journey that I’m so honored and blessed to be on as a mom.

Stay with me readers until next summer’s longer-leash post!