Tag Archives: shopping

Bells Will Be Ringing…Part 2


Back to school new


Hello and welcome back to my back – to – school series re-blog.  As I mentioned last time, I wrote these posts on back – to – school this time last year and thought that now would be a good time to revisit them.  Today’s post will include  Back to School Basics: Let’s Go Shopping (I think you’ll be surprised!) and Back to School Basics: Striking the Right Balance.    I know that I previously said that the last post would be about sending your little munchkin off to Kindergarten, however, I misspoke.  That post didn’t come until much later.  What can I say?  This is what happens when you do your blogging late at night after everyone is asleep and your brain has turned to mush.  Forgive me.  Actually, a post on finding balance is probably more appropriate coming from a woman who has her kids in absolutely everything.  I hope that these posts actually help you get ready for the return to the classrooms.  Summer is slipping away too soon.



Back to School Basics: Let’s Go Shopping!



Back to school new


I think that I should start by telling you that if you are expecting this to be a blog post telling you the best place to find a deal on back to school supplies or clothing, you may want to look elsewhere, because it’s not.  In fact, I stopped doing “back to school shopping” years ago.  When possible I buy my kids supplies through the school (except for the extras, which we will talk about later) and unless it’s necessary – and I’m talking holes in shoes and blisters on feet – I just don’t do it.  I don’t like the feeling that I’m being manipulated by retailers.  However, I do go back to school shopping for myself.  Yes, parents, this list is about YOU!  You’ll be glad that you listened to me.  I’ve tried to narrow my list to just a few items that you will find beneficial,  not just surviving the school year, but just maybe helping to make it enjoyable.

1. Buy your self a planning calendar.

mom's Plani it

Consider this a free commercial for this calendar.  I use these and I love them!  “The Mom’s Plan It” series comes in several different versions, but I always look for the 17 month, August through the following December calendar.  It covers an entire school year plus the following summer which is great because, as you know, these days our kids schedules keep rolling year round.  I’m aware that a lot of us may prefer to keep our important dates and reminders on our phones or in our computers, but this calendar is really a family calendar.  Make sure that you post it in a public place so everyone in your home has access to it.  When all five of my children were at home – three in high school and the other two were toddlers – facilitating everyone’s schedule became impossible. No one knew what the other was doing, nor did they care. Once I started posting the calendar and directing them to it as questions arose, they started connecting the dots and they had an epiphany: One person (me) couldn’t facilitate everyone’s life.  They became a participant in the logistics of their own lives. Even my younger kids like it!  There are stickers (for doctor appointments, parties, no school, holidays, etc.)  to help them chart out what’s going on and I make sure to include my own schedule so that they realize that I do have a life away from them.  You can also keep emergency phone numbers and contact information right there in the calendar.  LOVE IT!  I really do because I didn’t receive a dime, or a free calendar or anything for saying any of this nice stuff about it.   “Mom’s Plan it” calendars can be purchased at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

2.  Purchase $50 in gift cards to any big box store that carries school and/or craft supplies (Target, Wal-Mart, Michael’s, etc. or any combination)  and keep them.  Once, when Mr. C. was in grammar school, he forgot (neglected) to mention to me that he had a project due at the end of the week and that project was somewhat craft intense.  Well, the bills had been paid, the budget was set and it wasn’t near another pay-day.  Enter that gift card.  It was a life saver and it happens to all of us.  Once school starts the money just starts flying out of your wallet and there is always something that you didn’t plan on.  Do yourself a favor and prepare for a rainy day, but put the gift cards away and try to keep them for a real emergency.


3. Find yourself a cute cup or mug.  Something that you really enjoy using.  Maybe it has an inspiring message or one that’s really pretty.  I particularly like the mug pictured above that says “World’s okayest mom” because I like to keep expectations low.  That way it makes it pretty easy for me to look like a rock star. The pink, blinged out on-the-go cup always makes me feel soooo…….you guessed it, GLAMOROUS! Get it? Never mind.  The  point is (and this is particularly important for those of you sending kids to school for the first time), you will be staying up late and getting up early.  You will be missing sleep and in desperate need of your favorite caffeinated beverage of choice.  Which brings me to….

4. Stock up on your favorite caffeinated beverage of choice.  For those of you that don’t drink caffeine (huh?) stock up on whatever beverage energizes, comforts or soothes you.   Make sure that you have plenty of it at all times.  I wish that there was some way to make this easier, but there isn’t.  The never-ending tide of papers to review and sign, checks to write, volunteer forms to fill out…remember that I talked to you about the need to volunteer in the last post?  It’s all time-consuming and it usually takes place after the kiddos are off to bed and you would like to be sleeping, too.  Sorry.

5. Finally, and I hate to bring it up because it has become such a sensitive subject these days, but buy extra school supplies.  More and more school districts are moving toward shared school supplies.  There are a few reasons for this transition, the most common of which is that a lot pf parents simply can’t afford all of the items on the list. Or, there are parents who can’t afford the name brand versions of the requested items and other parents that will over purchase.  They are trying to protect children’s feelings and for the most part, I’m okay with that.  As I stated above, I buy the supplies through the school however, I do purchase extras of some things because inevitably by the middle of the school year (if you’re lucky) you will begin receiving emails with requests to replace supplies that are running low.  Notice, some supplies go more quickly than others and this is why I’m telling you to stock up on the following now: glue sticks and liquid glue (I honestly think the kids eat it); sharpened pencils with erasers (again, I think that the little monsters eat the erasers); large pink erasers (this should be obvious); and crayons (because they absolutely destroy them).  You know what I find ironic? I’ve never been asked to send extra tissues.  One large box per student lasts the entire year for 22 runny nosed children, but 6 glue sticks per kid doesn’t?  Really?  You do know this is because they wipe their noses on their shirts, right?  I’m just sayin’….


A Visit to the Hardware Store


Shortly after I moved to Texas I met a lovely woman at a party and we started chatting about things that ladies chat about when they move into a new house, specifically decorating.  She was giving me some tips on where to shop around town when she said,

“Have you been to the Ace Hardware over on Mason?”

“Uh, noooo,” because nothing that I had said indicated that I was fixing or building anything.  I like to decorate but, I’m not a big DIY person.  Neither is Big Poppa.

I guess the look on my face said it all because she said “Trust me.  You have to go to Ace.”

Yea, right.  I figured that hardware store decorating must be a Texas thing but, us girls from up North don’t do that.  I ignored her advice for a while but then, one day I was out in that end of town with some time to spare and thought I’d stop in to look around. That and I needed some hooks to hang some art work.


This is the Ace Hardware on Mason Road in Katy.

Pretty normal and totally unexciting.  However….

candles, scarves, lotions

candles, scarves, lotions

this is what I found when I walked inside.

And this…20130610_105702 20130610_105717 20130610_105620

Wait!  There’s more!

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Speechless!  I was speechless.  It’s beautiful, high-end merchandise in an Ace Hardware store.  At first I was confused and then it dawned on me that this is pure marketing genius.  Think about it, no matter what the home improvement project, the wife is the one to go to the store.  She determines what she wants and hubby does it or, as in my case, the hubby pays someone to do it. Here, because of the layout, you have to walk through all of this fabulousness to get to the actual hardware.  I haven’t personally seen the hardware because I never seem to make it past the front of the store but, rumor has it that it’s there, along with a postal station.

On my most recent visit to Ace to take pictures for this post (and to shop!), I met Donna.  Donna is the Gift & Gourmet Department Manager and a buyer for the store.  Also, she is now my new best friend! Did I mention that they have a gourmet foods department?  Yes, you can actually buy gourmet chocolates and coffee to enjoy while you browse, as well as other food items.

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Donna was kind enough to explain to me some of the marketing concept behind the store as well as some of the new holiday merchandise to look forward to this year.  They have some of the most unique and beautiful Halloween and Christmas decor that I have ever seen.  I can’t wait!  Donna also sold me a couple of items too, but I need to keep that on the down low because I don’t think that Big Poppa has noticed yet.

So, if you live in the area, or are visiting the area, or are planning to visit the area, go to Ace Hardware Cinco Ranch on Mason Road in Katy!  I know of nowhere else that you can buy a pretty dress, blinged out flip flops, some candles for your powder room, a super cute belt, gourmet foods, some new mixing bowls and a wall clock (oh, yea, and a hammer, if you must) in one stop.  Most of all, it’s all FABULOUS!  You will have to choose what gets to go home with you because you’ll want to take it all.   It is truly one of my favorite stores on the planet, because it’s such a pleasant shopping experience and there is always something that you “must have”.  Thanks to you, Donna, this northern girl is a convert!