Making the Most of the Evening Hour(s)

I’ve been trying to keep us active in that awful time frame between the end of dinner and the beginning of bedtime since school started three weeks ago. Not every night, but most nights, I like to have something small planned. Like walking the dog up to see if the cows will moo at us. Or going to the library for our monthly haul, to trade in a book that missed the mark, or to pick up holds. Or a kickball game in the backyard, complete with full contact body tackles by the dog. Or soccer practice on Thursdays. Or, when it starts up at the end of the month, a class at the library on Fridays.

You get the point.

I mean, sometimes we need a low-key, everyone sits on the couch and reads all the books type of evening. Sometimes we need to clean up bedrooms and playrooms and offices and other messes we’ve made. Sometimes we need to go to our own corners and sulk because being a family is hard.

But sometimes — more often than not — we just need to get up and do something. Anything. Together.

Last night, we went to one of our city playgrounds. As the day got a little chillier and a little more overcast, I decided it would be the best after dinner activity. I knew the weather would keep crowds at bay. That’s right: My favorite playground remains an uncrowded playground. When we arrived, only two other families watched as their children ran off their energy. Perfection.

The boys ran off before I even extracted myself from the car. They’re fast. I found a picnic table near one of the “big kid” sets and sat down next to my husband.

Not that long ago, I used to panic when the boys would climb the ladders and rock walls on that particular set. In fact, I used to tell them that they could only play on it if Daddy was with us. I couldn’t handle my rule of not hovering and letting them play on that thing. My husband’s presence was required for observation; I couldn’t look. Or breathe.

Playground Fun

Yesterday, they climbed and raced (too fast! slow down!) and jumped to reach their “chosen” rock and generally played on the set the way the set was meant to be played on: with all of the joy. I followed them around for a little while, snapping pictures and keeping my mouth as shut as possible. (Let’s face it: I’m a talker.)

Climbing the Rock Wall

Climbing the Rock Wall

Eventually LittleBrother gave the monkey bars on this set a try. He surprised me a few weeks ago when he just starting climbing across; neither of us had any idea he could maneuver the monkey bars! These ones hung a little differently, and so he gave it some valiant effort.

Monkey Bars

Eventually, he made it all the way across, further proving that if I just sit and let them do their thing, they will do more than either of us can imagine.


Eventually they bored of the toys and asked us to play tag. It went a little something like this:

In the end, we all laughed ourselves silly, used up our evening energy with minimal arguing and whining, and ended up sleeping wonderfully last night. In fact, I actually had to wake the boys up for school this morning.

I love when we find something fun and easy to do with that stretch of time in the evenings…

…like tonight. They get to go to a Volunteer Meeting at the school with me. I hope they can contain their excitement.

Parenting School

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade School Supplies: ALL THE GLUE STICKS

Rumor has it that school starts in five days. Or something. I’m totally not paying attention because I’m in denial and desperately wanting to cling to summer (minus the hot temperatures) for as long as possible. Also, there’s that thing where my baby is heading off to Kindergarten and, yes, I may be overcome with all of the emotions. All of them.

Despite the denial and general weeping, I did manage to get all of the school supplies purchased on their two lists. Remember when “school shopping” meant going to the store and arguing with your mom over which clothes you were going to purchase (or, because the 80’s, put on layaway)? Yeah. Now instead of All the Clothes, we get to purchase All the Supplies. Yes, school is about learning and education. Yes, I do like buying school supplies. But man. That’s a lot of glue sticks.

I avoided that One Store That Has Everything from Name Brand Crayons to Generic Cereal entirely this year. In rural America, that’s difficult, so you should be in awe of me. I shopped at Rite Aid, CVS and, for the last four things (two of which weren’t required as they were backpacks), Amazon. I win.

Kindergarten School Supplies

Kindergarten School Supplies

Kindergarten supplies: 4 folders, 1 binder, 5 spiral notebooks, 24 glue sticks (…), 2 packs of dry erase markers (I went with 4 markers per pack because it wasn’t specified), 2 coloring books (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Team OomiZumi), 1 Pink Pearl eraser (came in packs of 3, so we’re sending him with 1 of the 3), 2 packs 24 crayons, 2 packs 8 washable markers, 1 pack construction paper, 2 boxes tissues, 2 Clorox Wipes (oops, bought Lysol Wipes, but it came in a 3 pack, so my household scored and extra one!), 1 pack brown bags, 2 tubs of wipes (CVS brand), 1 giant glue stick (for Art class), 1 t-shirt (for Art class), and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack with attachable lunchbox (the only thing on the table that wasn’t “required”). Also, what decade is this?

LittleBrother is in awe that all of this stuff is for him. I almost felt bad that neither boy got “fun” notebooks or folders, but I was shopping the deals and the deals were the Plain Jane of School Supplies. I didn’t argue. I grabbed different colors, gave myself a high five, and kept on shopping.

2nd Grade School Supplies

2nd Grade Supplies: 3 folders, 2 packs pencils, 1 pencil case, 1 pencil box (reused from last year), 1 pair of scissors (reused from last year), 1 pack washable markers, 2 packs crayons, 2 bottles white glue, 2 packs glue sticks (didn’t specify quantity, so I went with 3 packs because OMG GLUE STICKS), 1 box gallon bags, 1 tub baby wipes, 1 box tissues, 2 notebooks, 1 Primary Journal (impossible to find in our stores), 1 pack glue sticks for art class, 1 t-shirt (Art class), and a Ninjago backpack (not required; reusing Mario lunchbox from last year).

Obviously, 2nd graders don’t need as much stuff. Or glue sticks. But still, glue sticks.


The total of my savings, based on the “you saved this much” at the bottom of my multiple receipts from multiple trips on multiple weeks to get the best deals? $187.56. I spent 40% of that total (WITH backpacks and the lunch stuff below). I win.

One thing I bought for each boy this year that I’m super excited about: Bento style lunch containers for their lunchboxes from (Or, you know, from, because free shipping.)

Basically, LittleBrother needed something to hold his food (because we are wanna-be hippies and don’t do plastic baggies) in his lunchbox and BigBrother needed a replacement for the one he had last year because someone broke it. (It was me.) I searched around for awhile, wanting BPA free options and also, you know, affordable, because OMGGLUESTICKS. I ended up finding a four pack of these great three divider boxes on Amazon. I bought them, hoping they would be of good quality and fit in their lunchboxes. Answer? WIN WIN! They’re easy to open to boot. I’m thrilled with the purchase, and after they arrived, I purchased their Mini-Dippers too (as the three divider is not guaranteed to be leak proof) so I can send hummus, ranch dressing for dipping carrots, and whatever else I want to send that they won’t eat! I LOVE PACKING LUNCHES. No, I don’t.

Really. I hate packing lunches. Alas, I hate school lunches more and thankfully so do my children.

All of their school supplies are now packed (read: stuffed) in two (reusable, of course) bags, sitting in our dining room. Tonight we will take LittleBrother’s off to school, meet his teacher at Kindergarten Open House, and leave the bag in his cubby. Then I will take my little boy off for ice cream, tell him how proud I am of him, and sob deeply and wholly on my run after he is tucked safely in his bed for the night. BigBrother will take his supplies on Monday when the rest of the school gets to endure Open House, whereupon I’ll get to wear a PTA shirt and tell all the parents why they should be a part of our group.


More ice cream will be necessary. Obviously.

I just realized that I bought all of these awesome school supplies and didn’t even buy myself a new pack of my favorite Pilot G2 pens like I do every year. Look at me, having all kinds of restraint. Sigh.