The Sacred Pens

In all of my classes, I am a total color-coder. I write in different colors on the board, and I color-code my syllabus for each class, and I label files in different colors– you get it. So last fall it occurred to me to color-code our kitchen calendar, in hopes that it would simplify things (read: in hopes that I would no longer write things like, “9:15 Dr.” with no clue as to which doctor, or whose appointment). Dave first made fun of me and speculated whether I needed more things to occupy my time, then he donated to the cause what has become one of my all-time favorite possessions: a set of colored gel pens from his office desk.

I was thrilled. I immediately assigned us each a color:

JULIE- purple

DAVE- green

CAM- blue

GABS- pink

ADDIE J- red

……And my new color-coding system is working like a charm.


These pens are like crack to the kids. I actually had to buy a second set because they kept taking them, making art projects with them, and then losing them. Now, I realize that I COULD buy another set of pens just for the kids… but this is not my first parenting experience. I know that, just as kids will pig out on a certain food at a friend’s house but refuse to touch it at home, 99% of the lure of these pens is that they are mine and I love them so dramatically. If I bought the kids a set, it would languish in the art supplies, unused, until I commandeered the pens for myself– at which point they would magically become hot properties. So, no thanks– I’m not doing that. And I remain constantly vigilant and overprotective. Case in point: Jill was over today and needed to take notes on something. She wandered over to the art table and said, “Oh my god– is this one of the Sacred Pens?!?!?” And indeed, the hot pink Sacred Pen was on the art table. Addie J betrayed her guilt by hauling ass upstairs as soon as I looked in her direction. Then Jill had to talk me down and save the J’s life. 

Although here’s the rub: Dave and I sync our schedules via Google Calendar, which cannot be color-coded on my phone. Therefore I open my iPhone calendar and stare at all the little dots and notations for what feels like hours, trying to decipher my cryptic notes in black-and-white, and longing for the bright colors of my Sacred Pens. Dear Steve Jobs: please give me color-coding on the iPhone calendar. Not having it is totally ruining our schedules. Plus, a bonus: if you did have color-coding, I wouldn’t need the Sacred Pens anymore and I could give them to the kids, whereupon they would lose interest entirely. So you see, it’s win-win.

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