Monday, August 25, 2008

And They're Off!

It has taken me forever to get this post done. Maybe 'cause I'm still in denial!!! Also maybe 'cause I felt like an avalanche fell on me last week! So much to do! Where to start?! Somehow I got the idea that once that first day of school arrived and they were all safely in their classes, my days would be quiet and contemplative--with bursts of busyness as I methodically work to undo the summer's damage on my house (read: pigsty!) Ha!! that couldn't have been further from the way it actually played out! But this isn't about me--this is the tale of our rituals of getting ready for Back to school!


Before they "Meet the Teacher"

Before their lunchboxes and backpacks are packed and lined up by the door

Before they receive a Father's Blessing

Before they pose for their "First Day of school" photos (I always take too many)

Before all that exciting stuff, there must be preparation. Preparation, preparation, preparation... - well, anyway.

The idea of the big "back to school" shopping trip was always tantalizing and filled with anticipation when I was a kid. In the end, though, it seemed we would be exhausted and mildly disappointed, or just glad it was over.
I remember each August my mother would pack all 5 of us up in our beige Buick station wagon and make the hour-long trek to Nashville, Tennessee--which was the closest big town to our hometown in Bowling Green, Kentucky (grades 2 thru 11 for me).
We would head to "The Mall" - well, mainly Sears and JC Penney,--the two stores Mom had credit cards for. I remember shopping for my older sister's stuff, and when we were through with that, she spent the rest of the time huffing and looking bored and put-out, or crying. I would pick out a few things that always seemed to be too hot to wear at the end of August--Jeans, sweaters, etc. But I would wear them anyway, because they were new!
So, with my kids, the concept is the same, but I try to do it in parts, so they seem to enjoy the process a little while longer.
First, the supplies - we watch for the first evidence that stores are stocking school supplies and make a bee line for Walmart & Target. - gotta get there before the the rest of the hordes decend upon the fresh displays, get the best backpacks, lunchboxes, etc.
Yes, I do end up having to hide them in my bedroom for about a month, but just that much more fun when we get to break them out and divvy them up into backpacks just before the big day. Believe me, it's worth it!

Next up, gym
Shoes. In case you never get the opportunity, just know that shoe shopping for 4 kids is an event in itself. And an all day proposition. Period.
Do not think that it can be done at one store. One store will NEVER have all the right sizes in all the right styles you need.
I do not attempt to combine this event with any other errands or shopping tasks. This year was one for the record books. I actually surprised myself and got all 4 pairs plus 8 pairs of socks for under $100!

Finally, there have to be a few new outfits to round out our preparations--followed by a fashion show, of course! I have given up on the whole "outfitting for fall" idea, because you know what? - there is a ton of clothes from last Christmas or after Christmas sales sitting in storage bins that will work just fine. And after the initial first few days of school, my kids don't care if their clothes are brand-spankin' new. In fact, sometimes they prefer their comfy old standbys. So we hit the summer sale racks, pull out a few pieces at bargain basement prices, and call it good. They're happy, I'm happy, and the clothes don't make them sizzle through the last hot days of summer.

Happy Kids, it's going to be a Great Year!

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