Jack’s First Day of 6th Grade

Today is our first day of school and we officially have a middle schooler in the house!

Jack is excited to go to a new school with TWO floors and meet a bunch of new friends this year. He’s also thrilled that his best friend shares his homeroom and a few other classes too. Most of all, he is eager to learn more about what clubs he will be able to join once they launch this fall, with the robotics club high up on his list.

With Jack getting older, I asked him whether he still wanted me to write about him on Pocketful of Joules. He’s been approving his own photos for a while, so I wanted to make sure that he had the chance to veto any Jack-specific posts if it makes him uncomfortable. I suggested maybe we discontinue the ‘back to school’ type posts and only include him when talking about family trips and general adventures. However, he said he would like to keep up with the Jack posts for now.

So, for the time being you’ll still see my kiddo on the blog from time to time. But, over the next few years I may start sharing a little less.

Today though, I’m happy to share this adorable, smart, hilarious and very, very cute 6th grader!

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Back to School: Tips to Make Your Life Easier

It’s that time of year again – we just received our class assignments and school supplies lists for the upcoming year. We don’t go back to class until after Labor Day, but according to my social media timelines some kids are already starting to head back!

Here are a few of my tips to help make the back-to-school craziness go a little bit smoother:

School Supplies Upgrade

Order these labels and stick them on EVERYTHING!

I’ve been using them for years on school supplies, lunch boxes, water
bottles, plastic containers, ice packs, etc. They are dishwasher safe and hold
up really well after dozens and dozens of washes. I even have a water bottle
from a year ago that STILL has the label on it with Jack’s name. These things are invaluable, so keep a pack on hand!

If you need a quickie shopping list for back-to-school deals, I did all the
legwork to find the best pricing on smaller quantities and saved my school
supplies shopping list: Back To School Supplies List 2023

Throw in a Load of Laundry

Hunt down the backpack and lunchboxes your kiddo(s) used last year, throw them in the washing machine and wash them on cold (add a few towels so you don’t waste any space). Then, let them hang dry so that they’re all ready for the coming year. Even if you bought a brand-new lunchbox and backpack, DO THIS ANYWAYS with the old ones. That way when a container of peaches opens up inside their lunch bag and makes everything sticky, you’re prepared with a backup until the new one is clean again. If you have a hard lunchbox (rather than the squishy kind), stick it in the dishwasher for a nice back-to-school bath.

Reintroduce Shoes

If your kid is like mine, they’ve been wearing sandals, flip flops, or crocs
all summer long. However, at our school it is required to wear sneakers on gym days. Well, Jack hasn’t put on socks and sneakers in months, so each August I have him try on his sneakers to make sure he hasn’t grown out of them.

Flow Chart 1: If they’re too small, you now have a couple weeks to
find a new pair. Find them, buy them, start wearing them to break them in so they are ready to be worn for a full school day.

Flow Chart 2: If they still fit, reintroduce shoes and socks to your kid.
According to Jack, socks are evil and so hard to put on after three months. So, we start wearing them sparingly before school starts to get the whining out of the way early.

Do a Clothing Fashion Show

Yes, I know it’s still 90 degrees in Maryland. However, when you realize
your kid grew out of all their pants and long sleeves it will be cold outside
and you’ll be stuck sending your kid to school in capris. Do a quick try-on of
pants, long sleeves and jackets so that you have a couple months to hunt out
sales and gather what you need.

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that
clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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Use Your Library!

I feel like I’ve said this a hundred times, but it came up again recently and I just wanted to spend a couple minutes talking about how awesome it is to use your library!

Jack and I were at Costco, and OF COURSE we wandered into the books section. And I started grabbing books, reading the backs and liking them. And Jack started grabbing books and throwing them in our cart. Which I then throw them back out of our cart. Because even at Costco prices… books are expensive!

Instead, {PRO TIP} I started taking quick photos of each of the books we liked:

(Jack did end up getting one book while we were there, because we have a hardback collection of all the Last Kids on Earth books and a new one came out.)

Okay, so those quick photos? Yeah, when I got home I logged into our local county library, did a search for each title, and then added myself to the “hold” list for each one. Sure, some lists were long… but others only had one or two people in front of me.

In fact, within less than a week, three of the books from our Costco trip were waiting for me at the library to pick up.

If we end up borrowing all 5 of the books we looked at, that will save us a total of $61.95. Which is more than 6 Costco watermelon. Or a heck of a lot of snowballs this summer!*

There are even more options for those of us who have e-readers. In addition to searching the library for books you’ve seen, you can also search digital catalogues like OverDrive (different link by state but here is the one for Maryland OverDrive, and Hoopla for free books to borrow.

Anyways. Save some money and use the library this summer!

* For those unfamiliar, in Maryland we have these crushed ice snow cones called snowballs that are delicious on a hot summer day.

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