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Back-to-School: the best backpacks

Aug29

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When my mother chose the name Melissa for me in 1973, she thought it was a beautiful name and unlike any of the names she’d heard around the neighborhood. She thought it was ‘unique’.
She hadn’t heard of any other babies with my name at least until she arrived at the pediatrician’s office for my one week check up. Four other very unique Melissa’s were also waiting for their appointments.
This trend continued through my school years where I was always Melissa W. because there was a Melissa M., a Melissa O. and a Melissa H too. Over time though I’ve come to appreciate my name in no small part because of the greek origins of my name.
Apparently Melissa was also the name of a mountain nymph who saved Zeus from his father, Cronus. Cronus was attempting to devour his son (probably over a long break where Zeus asked every four minutes what they were going to do next). She fed Zeus milk from a goat and honey from beehives. Cronus was unhappy about this and changed her into a worm. But wait, it gets better. Zeus then saved Melissa from her worm-y fate and turned her into a queen bee.
Melissa’s Buzz Off was one of many suggestions for my column’s name, Sweet Melissa’s Buzz Off was one of those suggestions which were rejected. I like sarcasm as much as the next person but calling me sweet is going way too far.
Melissa’s Buzz Off is a collection of pretty much anything I want to buzz about. It’s some shopping, but with more editorial and more ways for you to join in. Sometimes what I want to buzz about is also what you’d like to buzz about and since The Buzz Off is collaborative, I want your tips. You can email me at melissabuzzoff@gmail.com.

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Each summer I carefully plan activities for the kids and I to enjoy together. We visit our local pool and museums. We eat popsicles together on the porch, blow bubbles and sometimes we try to catch fireflies at dusk. It’s fun for the first eight weeks of summer, then August rolls around.
I spend almost the entire month imagining my children as pretzel sticks. Pretzels sticks I could dip in chocolate and roll in multi-colored sprinkles and devour. By August we’re all kind of tired of waking up each morning, looking at one another and saying, “What are we going to do today?” By ‘we’ I actually mean by August I am a little tired of waking up and facing the ‘What are we doing today?’ question.
The end is in sight though, and if your kids have already started school let’s just pretend (for my sake) they didn’t. I have another week because my state’s legislature decided all the public schools needed to start classes after Labor Day. They say this is to help bring tourism dollars to our state and give families one last long weekend to enjoy each other before the end of summer.
I’d like to invite all my state representatives and the tourism board to my house this week because I’m not enjoying my bickering and bored children. In fact I feel like I’m metaphorically gnawing my own leg off trying to escape the trap which is the never ending school break. Thank you, Michigan!
But no, the end is near and I have a supply list from our teachers to prove it. There’s not a lot I love more than the first day of school, it’s like Christmas only with more free time.
This week I’ll be looking at all sorts of school supplies, today: backpacks.

Randoseru.jpgThis little Randoseru is a Japanese tradition I wish we’d made our own. It’s pricey, but I’m certainly not one to put a price tag on adorable. I picture my little girl wearing a beret, a plaid pleated skirt and mary janes walking to school down a cobblestone street. Except that my daughter has declared an embargo on any article of clothing without two separate leg openings, a beret would probably get her beaten up on the playground and we don’t live in a particularly picturesque place. It’s just my fantasy.

Collegiate.jpgThe more practical part of me is a huge fan of the Lands End line of backpacks. The Collegiate pack is durable, classic and affordable. My daughter thinks it’s boring, but it comes in a lot of colors and even a pattern. You can get it monogrammed, Madison would like, “This Backpack Is Boring” embroidered on hers.

dog2.jpgMy daughter wants a dog more than anything in the entire world, she’s wanted a dog for over half of her relatively short life. I have a secret though: I don’t really want a dog very much at all and I’m not sure if we’re ever going to actually have a dog. This is why my daughter has a lot of items with dogs on them, so this backpack from Little Pack Rats appeals to me. A nice vinyl backpack
with an adorable pup on the back. No barking, no chewing…not really as fun as a real dog but who’s side are you on anyway?

SpiderManPack.jpgOf course, we’re more likely to end up with a character backpack because in my son’s world everything is better if it has a character on it. In my world everything with a character is just a little more tacky, but that might be our generation gap talking.

yoda_backpack.jpgOn the other hand, if a character backpack makes you laugh I’m all for it. This Yoda backpack will appeal to your child’s love of the Star Wars films and it will appeal to your desire to laugh just a little bit when you send your kids to school. When I showed it to Max he crinkled his nose and backed away from me slowly saying, “I just really think I want a Power Rangers backpack. Okay?” Maybe your child is a little more adventurous.

Tomorrow we’ll look at lunch boxes, you know that box I fill with food everyday and send off with my daughter, who eats three bites and returns the box to me full at the end of the day? Yes, that one.

About the author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa's Buzz Off.


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22 Responses to “Back-to-School: the best backpacks”

  1. Zoot Aug 29 at 1:24 pm Reply Reply

    I let my son (6th grader) get a new backpack almost every year, because I think that’s part of the joy of school starting back: New Stuff. But last year? He asked for a North Face backpack for Christmas, and wanted to use it again this year.
    Sometimes steal it and use it for myself, it’s that cool. I kinda want to go back to school just to have an excuse to buy one.

  2. Angie Aug 29 at 2:28 pm Reply Reply

    LOVE the new column name and I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. Teresa Aug 29 at 2:47 pm Reply Reply

    The best lunch box I’ve found is a disposable brown bag. My children, that are in school, do have lunch boxes, but none that live up to my standards. I couldn’t seem to find any plastic and/or metal Snoopy lunch boxes (with the thermos provided), which is what I had growing up, anywhere. I only found lunch sacks – thermal lunch sacks. YUCK! So, most days my children are sent off to school with their brown bags which I’ve drawn a creative picture on. They do enjoy seeing how many different things I can draw though. Plus, they can throw it away and I don’t have to come home and see that my son didn’t touch his sandwich, but ate all his chips.

  4. Ceej Aug 29 at 3:16 pm Reply Reply

    Just wait until you get to buy a backpack for a teen! Apparently, there is no end to my idiocy!!(To which we have now said, “Pick it out yourself,Your Royal Laziness!”) Honestly, you find the best sites! CharacterProducts.com–who would have thunk it? Oh, and I can’t believe I beat cursingmama here.

  5. chris Aug 29 at 3:43 pm Reply Reply

    The fact that Madison wants an adorable dog backpack gives me hope that my daughter’s dress-only, pink-only, must feature at least one Disney princess days will come to and end some time before I die.
    Awesome column, Melissa.

  6. Michele Aug 29 at 3:50 pm Reply Reply

    I was one of five Michele’s (or Michelle’s) in my fifth grade class. And my parents thought leaving on “L” off would make me unique. (sigh)
    My boys are to young for book bags yet. They still head off to daycare with a Trader Joes bag filled with diapers, but I am totally crazy about the dog bag. Might have to buy in advance.
    Love the banner.

  7. Melissa Aug 29 at 4:32 pm Reply Reply

    As a fellow Melissa (born in 1972), I wonder where you grew up. I only knew 2 other Melissa’s myself while growing up.
    And interestingly, this year, ‘Melissa’ fell off the Social Security’s list of Top 100 Names, where it was prominently in the bottom 20 for about 30 years!!!
    Good luck with the new blog!

  8. melissaS Aug 29 at 5:30 pm Reply Reply

    Michigan. And I thought of another Melissa, but she didn’t have a last initial because she went by Missy.

  9. AmyChop Aug 29 at 8:24 pm Reply Reply

    glad you’re here!

  10. Robyn Aug 29 at 8:31 pm Reply Reply

    I am finally out of the lunch-box phase of parenting, with my youngest daughter a junior in high school. It was just today that I was thinking about how much I hated packing lunches, but I miss it a little. Good luck with the perfect box search.

  11. Shelly Aug 29 at 8:36 pm Reply Reply

    My son has that spiderman backpack in his closet, just waiting for his first day of Kindergarten. Sigh.

  12. madge Aug 29 at 9:01 pm Reply Reply

    Maybe it’s a regional thing. There were almost 20 Jessicas at my camp. All born between 1972 and 1978. Can’t recall any Melissas, though.
    Oh, and, being from Maine, I am contractually obiligated to pimp the LLBean backpack and/or lunch box.

  13. Judi Aug 29 at 9:26 pm Reply Reply

    My son has that backpack as well (kindergarten) and our middle school doesn’t allow backpacks which is way cool.
    I look forward to reading more.

  14. FlippyO Aug 30 at 4:05 am Reply Reply

    I love love love the masthead. Did I say that I loved it? Just checking.
    I also love the Yoda backpack, even though I think Star Wars is a huge bore.

  15. Amy Aug 30 at 9:20 am Reply Reply

    Isn’t it funny how starting school after Labor Day is supposed to keep the tourism dollars rolling in. Funny, the kids in every other state around us are back in school, so their families are not coming to Michigan to spend money. WE’RE the ones who are expected to still be spending money here in Michigan having lots of fun, throwing money off the Mackinac Bridge. Frankly, I’m too crabby from all of this summer togetherness to want to have much fun and I’m OUT OF MONEY from trying to get ready for school. Tomorrow you’ll find us spending tourism dollars in Ohio because all of their kids are already in school and the zoo will be more quiet! Just follow the trail of fun down I-75! Whoopee!

  16. melissaS Aug 30 at 9:48 am Reply Reply

    So true. I’m out of money from trying to keep the kids entertained with camps and classes and museums and movies and bowling and vacations for the first two months of summer.
    I don’t have any cash left for Labor Day hooplah.
    Unless you count ‘drywalling the bathroom’ hooplah.

  17. Melissa Aug 30 at 11:48 am Reply Reply

    I was Melissa M. also born in 1973 to a mother who thought she was being clever and original.

  18. Melissa Aug 30 at 12:18 pm Reply Reply

    Just another Melissa (I’m a Melissa M.) born in 1972 checking in.
    My mom was gonna name me Jennifer Joy but then there was a tv show with a little girl nicknamed “JJ” on it, so she was afraid there’d be a bundle of JJs and switched to Melissa. I was Missy almost my whole childhood, though. Then I went to college where my roommate was….Melissa M also! Small world.

  19. erika Aug 30 at 12:40 pm Reply Reply

    We had 5 Sara(h)s in my high school class. We still call one of them Sara K. Love the new column!
    I also love the Yoda backpack – if only he faced forward like he was riding piggyback.

  20. Melissa Aug 30 at 5:19 pm Reply Reply

    Another Melissa here, 1974.
    Growing up there were the usual many Melissas in school, but in elementary school there was one with my same last name! And my name isn’t Smith or Jones either.
    Then when I got to college, I was randomly assigned a Melissa as a roommate.
    One time in college, the pizza delivery guy said ‘Oh, I thought you were going to be someone else.’ Apparently there was ANOTHER one with the same last name in my college town.
    Unless the elementary school one followed me there…

  21. Melissa Aug 31 at 12:09 pm Reply Reply

    Melissa W,
    I love your new site. I’m sure I’ll be a requent visitor.
    Best of Luck,
    Another Melissa W
    p.s. I always sign my name on cards with a bumble bee. I love the Greek meaning of my name.

  22. Sherry Mar 04 at 2:11 pm Reply Reply

    I know you wrote this a few years ago, but it was helpful. I was going to buy a Land’s End backpack for my boys before the school year started and I now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t. One of them that I bought, which he picked the nicest and most expensive at the store, has had zipper problems and now one of them busted. My poor little guy, who we try to keep school a positive, due to anxiety issues, is the one who’s backpack has been a challenge. Even though we have 3 months left of school to go he’s getting a new backpack and hopefullly LE will ship it soon.

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