His Cup Runneth Over

It’s that time of year again, friends.  School is back in session and the kids are settling in to their classes, adjusting to the homework load, and – if they haven’t already – it’s about time to add a sport or activity to the mix.  Load ’em up!  Yeah!

When playing youth sports now-a-days, there is likely the obligatory shopping trip to your local sporting goods store to stock up on the essentials.  Not only do they suck away all of your time; they also suck away all of your money.  And since both boys are playing baseball this season, we tried on some last-season and hand-me-down clothing and equipment first.  It figures that very little of what we had in stock was transferable, so we headed out to buy what was left on our list… grey pants for both boys, cleats because little feet never stop growing, batting gloves to replace the ones that got gum on them last season for Kid D (don’t even ask), and a helmet with a cage for Kid E (gotta protect that pretty face… that’s his moneymaker!).

All of that stuff was important to them, but what do you think was the number one, non-negotiable thing on their lists?  You guessed it… the boys decided that it was imperative that they go athletic cup shopping.

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you may have read about Kid D and his first experience with a protective cup (Protecting the Family Jewels).  I’ve also mentioned his obsession with his junk a time or two before, but Sheepdog assures me that this is standard male behavior.  And Kid E is even more enthusiastic about his, if you can imagine.  So, while we were taking inventory of our baseball gear prior to shopping for more, a very large part of our discussion centered around the balls that are nearest and dearest to their hearts… their own.

Now, the cup that Sheepdog and Kid D settled on last time is likely the smallest size they make.  It is marketed to Age 7 and Under.  And since Kid D is almost 9, he announced that he had outgrown his old cup and needed a bigger one.  Isn’t that always the way?  I did not need Sheepdog’s expertise to recognize that as standard male behavior.  Nevertheless, since we now need two protective cups in the family, it made sense to buy the next size up for Kid D.  And since it was plastic and got washed every time, Kid E could use the old one.

Sheepdog, the boys and I were in the cup aisle at Dick’s (c’mon… where else did you expect we would go?), and they were figuring out sizing.  It turns out the youth cups are all white and then color-coded around the edges (our original one is green).  The one appropriately sized for Kid D came in a standard red color.  Except that the color red on plastic, especially when it is next to a bulge of white, looks a lot more like something you would find in the Barbie aisle.  I steeled myself for a hissy fit in the store because Kid D thought it was bad enough he has to be on the Purple Team (the park is using colors for the first time this season instead of major league team names).  Now he would have to endure sporting a pink cup?

"It's time to protect your nuts, guys!" - Bloodsport (1988)

“It’s time to protect your nuts, guys!” – Bloodsport (1988)

But the fit never came.  Fortunately, Kid D was not fazed in the least by his new pink accessory.  I guess he is more secure in his masculinity than I thought.  He is still beaming about his new cleats, his new gear bag, and the fact that his cup had runneth over in the first place.

Play ball!

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Magic Markers

Every year I take the kids back to school shopping for new supplies.   I usually despise shopping, but I love this particular trip, as I am hot for office supply stores and the wares they peddle.  I can’t really explain it, but I can tell you that I get a little tingly every time I go down the padded envelope aisle.  And I have a thing for 5″ X 8″ notepads too.  I like to touch the paper.  My favorite thing is the sound it makes when I fan the pages.  It’s like a magical purring noise. “Puuuuurrrrrrrrr.”  So sexy.  But I digress.

Anyway, each August the kids come with me to Staples and Target to pick out new folders and notebooks and binders.  The younger ones also get rulers and scissors and crayons and index cards.  And everyone gets a new box of markers.  Now, some are classic colors and some are dry erase, some are highlighters and some are washable.  None of them are actually called “magic” anymore, but to me they will always be magical and special, because they mark another important milestone in each kid’s life… the start of a brand new school year.

This year the markers led me to thinking about other milestones in my life and the kids’ lives and how quickly time is passing.  This summer, in particular, seemed to whiz past us in a spectacle of raindrops and road trips and beach sand.  It marked the first summer we didn’t get to relax together as a family (until one week near the very end, which was pretty awesome).

I realized that this marks the last year that all five of my kids will be heading out the door on the first day of school together.  Kid A is starting her senior year in high school.  Next year she will be off at college, starting her own life with some pretty significant new markers of her own.

Then I realized that Kid E still has twelve more “first days of school” ahead of him.  He is not thrilled about this, especially because “school does not have very much Minecraft.”  Sorry, kid.

Kid B started high school this year – a big marker made complicated because her boyfriend also started, but at a different high school.

This is the year that Kid C started dancing en pointe in ballet.  Kid D will begin kid-pitch in baseball next week.  They are in 7th and 3rd grades, respectively, which can be full of all kinds of markers… middle school relationship drama, puberty, playground fights.

Sheepdog and I made it to the 20-year mark of marriage this summer.

And today marks exactly three months since Braden died.

So many markers.  Not all of them are magic.  And not all of them are huge.  But together they become the stories that make up our lives.  So I write them down and take pictures on film and in my mind so we won’t forget.  And we can look back on them and remember each one of the markers and what they meant to us at that time in our lives.  And they will shape us and affect us and make us who we are.  But they can also inspire us to make change, to do more and be more, if that is what we want.  So much possibility can come from those markers, big or small.

And that is truly magical.  Just like the purr of a good notepad.

I get high with a little help from my friends.  You say "toluene and xylene," I say "magic."

I get high with a little help from my friends. You say “toluene and xylene,” I say “magic.”  Source:  Google Images

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Three Is the Magic Number

For the past week I have been making the rounds to all of the schools with all of the kids to meet teachers, secure lockers, and drop at least a couple of Benjamins (in $15 increments so I could write as many checks as possible, natch).  By now everybody has attended their sneak previews and school information days.  They have their backpacks and their supplies and their bus schedules.  Yes, friends, because school starts in just three more days.

Looking back over the summer I recall lots of sun, fun and road trips.  We hung out at the pool and at the beach and we saw lots of relatives and friends.  We did everything and nothing.  Almost everybody got to have an OK Day (every day is an OK Day for Kid A and Kid E doesn’t get one until he stays in his bed all night, every night… so I’m not holding my breath).  Sheepdog even joined in on the fun with us whenever he could.  We really had a great summer.

But I have had enough quality time with these people.  Seriously.  I’d like to be done now, please.  Thank goodness that the new school year is beginning next week, or else I’d be signing everybody up for sleep away camp.  Or farming them out for some manual labor so they’d be so exhausted when they got done that they’d just fall into their beds and sleep for 12 hours straight.  I could buy a pile of bricks and just have them move it from one spot to another and then move it back again when they were done.  They wouldn’t even have the energy to complain or request anything or fight with each other or me.  Bliss.

For the next three days I'm going to hang this picture on my refrigerator with the caption "Don't bug me or this will be you... except I won't give you a bagel."

Maybe I’ll just jot down those ideas for next summer.  It’s always good to have backup plans.

I just have to hang on for three more days.  We may go to the pool again.  I’m sure that Kid A will have plans with her friends.  Kid B says she still needs some more clothes for school.  We have talked about swapping Kid B’s and Kid C’s rooms, so we may tackle that project.  Sheepdog is going to move some other furniture with House Captain and set Kid E up in a new bed as well.  There is an Open House for Sunday School at a church we are thinking of attending this Sunday – maybe we’ll check that out too.  Or maybe we’ll just play video games until the school bus honks on Monday morning.

Whatever gets me through the next three days, right?

Wish me luck for the weekend…

Back to School Shopping Did Not Suck

Yesterday we started our back to school shopping.  Nope, I’m not kidding.  It has been almost ten years and I still haven’t quite made the mental calendar adjustment, especially since I grew up not going back to school after Labor Day (more specifically, the day after the Miss America parade up on the Atlantic City boardwalk, which we attended every year… “Show us your shoes!”).  In the South we usually go back to school really early – no later than mid-August, but realize that my kids have been on summer break since before Memorial Day.  I may not ready for summer to be over, yet the countdown has begun.

I had to buy a shower curtain the other day, so I bopped on in to a Walmart.  (I was able to bop because I was alone.  There is never any bopping when you have a constant parade following you around.  We are kind of like a traveling circus.)  On my way to the shower curtain department I couldn’t help but notice that the back to school supplies were already on sale.  And then I calculated that there are only four weeks left until school starts.  So I went back home and announced to the kids that they should start going through their clothes and shoes to see what fits and what doesn’t, and we would figure out what everybody needs to be ready for school.

Let me say right now that I am generally not a fan of shopping.  It’s just not my thing.  If I need something, I go get it.  Otherwise, I do not go to stores.  I do not browse.  If I ever meet the person who invented internet shopping I will make out with him or her.  My mom shops like it is her job and I grew up being dragged from store to store to store to store.  I have so many childhood memories of hiding under display racks and waiting in checkout lines.  I absolutely hated going shopping as a kid.  We went to retail stores, outlet malls, discount chains, farmer’s markets, and garage sales.  It was nothing short of torture for me.

So shopping with me as an adult is all about the efficiency.  It is certainly never an all day event, but even the simplest shopping trip with all five kids can sometimes take a little while.  We planned to go to three stores, which are conveniently located in the same shopping center.  We had looked at the weather (the forecast was cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms) and decided that yesterday was a good day to go shopping, even though it was hot and sunny when we left the house.  We bought some shoes, a bunch of clothes, and most of the school supplies on their lists.  The kids were especially well behaved the entire time (which is a critical component of successfully completing a shopping trip of this magnitude) and the weather even cooperated by clearing up (the storms had arrived in full force while Kid B was trying on some new shorts) whenever we left a store to walk down to another one or load bags into our car.  Dare I say that shopping on this day did not suck?

In the last store I was paying for our stuff and the kids were behind me off to the side near the entry display.  We had quite a haul and check out was taking a while.  As she was scanning the giant pile of clothes, the cashier asked me if all of the kids were mine.  I responded with what I thought was a very believable, “… all FIVE?  No!”  Because I have all of these residual icky feelings towards shopping I guess I figured my shopping luck had run out and they had just broken something or were swinging from the rafters or Kid E had removed his pants or something else inappropriate.  But they were actually being really quiet and still and posing amongst the mannequins.  Kid A even took a picture of them…

"Mom, lemme ask you, did I ever do anything really strange as a child?… Is there any history of insanity in the family?" - Mannequin, 1987

Now that was a fun shopping trip.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…