MOMMYHOOD: Why is school supply shopping a scavenger hunt? And where I found non-perforated notebooks!

Well, if you are like me, you have been in the throws of back -to-school prep over the past few weeks, and I am sure your wine budget has gone up in a strange parallel with the school supply budget. And you have been on the hunt for specific school supplies based on the angst and/or preferences of whatever teacher your child has in the coming year. There are school shoes to get, new underwear and socks, uniforms (or a whole new wardrobe), gym shoes, back packs, lunch boxes, snacks and juice boxes. The list goes on as the checking account balance diminishes. But add complicated and hard to find school supplies to that pile of to-dos, and you are probably as stressed out as I am. It doesn't help that there is an enormous selection to sift through, and that people are messy and chaotic when shopping.

For instance, Walmart was an absolute zoo last Saturday. And I had to search 4 loooong aisles (4, not kidding) of a mixed up array of notebooks to find 4 "non-perforated" notebooks. And guess what, they did not exist, at least not at Walmart, or Jewel, or Walgreens, OR AMAZON.COM. I started losing hope. And I suggested to my daughter that maybe the teachers did not realize what they were asking for was IMPOSSIBLE and I was wasting gas hunting the city of Chicago for non-perfed, wide ruled notebooks. I mean, who would notice the perf anyway? She freaked out a little on me. How could I think about not getting what the teachers asked for? She continued to tell me that pages fall out easily and work gets lost from these perfed notebooks (?!) I mean, shouldn't someone tell MEAD or something about that, because the notebook category seems a bit oblivious to this? Focus group anyone?

AT any rate. This whole thing got out of hand and I had to even send my husband out to find them. We did find non-perfed notebooks (they are a little unconventional and not wide ruled, but they are non-perfed), and some good spots to find certain things. I thought I would share them with all you parents out there, in case you are on the hunt for affordable yet "correct" supplies.

Walmart: If you can handle the chaos and bad juju, has a massive array of products, but a lot may be picked over and they are not going to restock. But its cheap. Really cheap. We had 5 bags of stuff, and it was 60 bucks. And some of the packs of pens and pencils can stock our home and give Carla extras throughout the year. Check Cheapolife to review some pricing, but it may depend on location too, so keep that in mind.

Walgreens: Some good deals here, two for one binders that had pretty cool designs. And they had FISKARS pencil sharpeners, which I had never seen before and Walmart was totally out. I think hand pencil sharpeners stink, but I was excited to see that FISKARS, the guru of all things sharp, made a sharpener, and it was around a couple of dollars. To check out their pricing, go to pennypinchingmom.

Staples: This is where we found the sought after non-perforated notebooks. They are not wide ruled, though. I did see one weird online store through bizrate that had some wide ruled non-perfed notebooks too, but I was worried about the source and if I would get them in time. Staples had a nice selection of fun, unique things that my daughter really liked. There was a USB drive that looked like a skateboard, and some really fun fish pens and long squiggly erasers. The pricing is not as good as Walmart, but to find the more unique and specific stuff, this looks like the place to go. Yes, the behemoth. They do have everything, no doubt, including office supplies. But they don't have everything either. I noticed they have some really fun lunch box options (I am eyeing a clone trooper head lunch bag for my daughter, and a matching food thermos) and they always have very competitive pricing and shipping fees. So if you are running out of time and can't run around, I would just go online here and get it all in one fell swoop.

Paper Source: This started as a local Illinois treasure, but you can visit them across the country and shop online at This place is on the pricey side, but they have really fun and unique things. It might be nice to get one or two items for your kids to get excited about school and feel proud and engaged. Here are their back to school items, but every local shop is different. The giant whale eraser kills me, and the felt pom pom coin purse is adorable...heck, maybe mamma needs to get excited about school, too, and that is just the ticket.

Happy shopping (and drinking)!



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