he keeps a lid on it.

This is Sam.

chilling at Gonzaga university.

He fits right in with all the college students you know, because of those hand signals and the pursed lips of coolness and oh yeah-the Fedora.

In late June the older two kids had major growth spurts, and we had toured all of the nearby thrift shops and now we were at Kohls, because these boys are growing faster than Goodwill can supply. They needed a few essentials, like jeans and shorts. The thrift stores have plenty of great shirts but now that I am shopping in the mens dept for size 30 and 34 waist size? I have found that local menfolk like to donate mostly perfect khakis, and dress slacks they wore, once, to a wedding. But they DO NOT give up Levis or cargo shorts until said items are covered with paint, ripped with holes and spattered with dark stains. which we hope is merely missed shots of chewing tobacco. I am forced to pay–gasp!–retail. Don’t tell my parents! and this, after years of practically being able to outfit my boys in all like new, brand name apparel!!

 (except underwear. Some non-secondhand shopping friends have asked me about this. Yes, they sell even underwear, used. No, I do not buy it! they don’t MAKE enough bleach! nd I will go even further by stating that some laws need to be changed to prevent this type of atrocity from occurring. Where is Obama? Why isn’t he dealing with the issues that threaten our very safety and wholesome american values?!)

 The trouble with years of secondhand shopping though, is that retail is a perpetual shock! You have to get acclimated to what “normal people” have to spend on things and not walk through a mall looking at tags and gasping overandover, to the embarrassment of your family, “No way! That’s nuts! Are they kidding? Look how much they want for THIS!”

But I am trying to adjust, because I see that we are coming in to an expensive time in our life. The clothes are no longer $1.99, any size up to Boys 18. Levis are $45 a pop. We couldn’t find a Hoodie jacket (that Josiah LIVES in from Sept-April) that wasn’t ratty, so it was ON SALE, and it was still over $30! Because it says Tony Hawk? Man, for that price I want a trained hawk! on my arm! to fetch me Oreos and squawk my name!

but it was almost his 15th birthday. and that sweet child looked at it with shining eyes that said Look!  finally just what I wanted! Black! without a logo on the front! and it fits! Because we had been looking for MONTHS, and were on our way to the coast for a week, and he’d need it. but then he looked down at the pricetag and quickly put it back. oh no, Mom. it costs too much. and you know I immediately thought of how much money we have probably saved, buying 15 years of secondhand coats? and i declared it was an early birthday present and he could not refuse. and don’t any of you, ever ever, dare tell Josiah i actually did think it was ridiculously expensive! that kid’s joy is worth way more than $38 to me.

The Costco food bill has doubled. The school supplies and books for the coming year are adding up, and it looks like it will be over $1000 by the time mid-Sept comes. I was trying to figure that one out, as it has NEVER been that high. Now I have a middle schooler and a high schooler, and the costs have grown in proportion to the hormones, I think… it used to be:

4th grade equals 2 arithmetic workbooks, at $23 each. High school Geometry was $184.

Let me clarify, as you might be getting the idea that I am a Scrooge.

a penny pincher.

that I have coal tucked away somewhere dark, just praying  for diamonds.

Nope, I am pretty generous, and especially when it comes to my sweet boys. It’s just that–for YEARS–It wasn’t very expensive to raise children. They warn you it’s so much money but after they were out of diapers, it was a piece of cake. Secondhand, day old cake from the Hostess Bread Store but still. Child raising wasn’t super expensive.

CHILD raising. Young adult raising? well, no one warns you about that. I remember when the boys were little how any box I handed them was the BEST toy they’d ever HAD!

and then they graduated to yard sale toys, carefully scrubbed with bleach and costing me two whole quarters. and it was the BEST toy they’d ever HAD!

 and then they graduated to circling Toys R Us ads and making Christmas lists, and I winced at shelling out $40 for new Legos, in the box. but it was worth it on Christmas morning because…you guessed it…This was the BEST toy they’d ever HAD!

 Now? I’d be thrilled to give them ANY toys, but they want tech gadgets and new clothes and cash. cold, hard cash is the new favorite. Sniff.

(though I must say, there are always 4-5 books on each wish list, and those I love buying!)


I started typing a 3 sentence quick post to show you Sam’s new lid! Boy, I am chattychatty tonight. Poor John-pray for that long-suffering man, who says maybe 14 words in his entire day, and then drives home to spend 12 hours with a wife who frequently gets inflamed with a bad case of what we tactfully refer to as “diarrhea of the mouth” and she suddenly has lots of opinions and thoughts and feelings and she wants to VERBALLY PROCESS all of them! with him. right now, Ichiro can wait! oh man–I SAW your left eye look at the screen! I’m trying to TELL you about the Walmart cashier and how she didn’t take my coupons and the albino I might have seen at the 7-11 and the article on skin cancer i read and would you look at this mole here and should I re-paint the bathroom? hey, are you asleep? honey? honey?

So. While we were at Kohls (yes we are back to THAT. try to keep up!) Sam saw this black Fedora and tried it on and started posturing in front of the mirror. I don’t know what he was doing. He might have been telling the pitcher to throw high and wide or it might have been vicious gang moves or something. he’s in a rough school and his peers are juvenile delinquents, obviously. but then he looked at the hat and it had a big skull on it and he said “yuck.” and put it back. No judgment here for those who choose differently, but we decided a long time ago that in a culture that promotes darkness and death, that one of our little stands for life and light is that we don’t endorse skulls, skeletons, dark images etc by what we purchase and/or wear. Course, flashing gang symbols in public is totally fine.

then he saw THIS hat. and when he put it on it was just like that Frosty song.

It was tan, and plaid and you know his Mama is always quietly pushing (I mean, suggesting!) the preppy look. He loved it, he wanted it, and it was $24. People, that is a DOZEN apparel items at the G-Will, but it was SO HIM. What could I do? yet I was torn until Caleb yelled it’s 50% off, Mom! and I said “Caleb, you can get a hat too, then!” and then we all danced around! except Josiah, who started walking off quickly…

 Sam’s hat has become daily wear since late June.

Sadly, Caleb lost  his cool gray newsboy cap, but Sam keeps a tight grip on his. It’s a game in youth group and among his friends, to
“grab Sam’s hat!” and then he goes after it, laughing…

He even wears it camping.

to church.

to the beach.

with it, his confidence that he is the coolest 13 year old EVER, just soars.

he can climb mountains:

 the other day, he came groggy to breakfast in an old tank top and bright flannel pants. He leans over before eating, and carefully sets his hat, just so, on his head. Then he starts in on his food, not speaking to any of us (as is his morning habit. sweet Sam doesn’t show up until after 10 AM)

 Josiah comments “Dude? Why are you wearing that hat with your pajamas?”

to which Sam matter-of-factly replied, through a mouth full of oatmeal,

it’s kind of my trademark.

About sparrowjourney

Christian homeschooling mom to three boys, married to my best friend, John, for over 20 years. I love gardening without gloves, learning history with my kids, cooking with lots of butter, serving others, great books, rich coffee, studying the Bible, camping outdoors, scrapbooking, vintage home decor, the smell of rain and cut grass, authentic people, poetry, laughing until your sides hurt, and babies. oh and black licorice is pretty awesome.
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