Gift Ideas – Girls 12-16 part 2

A few more ideas since last post! I know we can all use ’em this time of year. ‘Tis the season, afterall.
(Note I have NOT included things like iPods, laptops, personal Nintendo’s or DVD players – we generally just don’t give gifts that HELP teenage girls tune us more than they already may… having their own cell phones is about all we can bear!)

1. Night on the town. A few times we’ve given the gift of TIME together! Awww! Ya, I’m not sure they’d really favor this over money, but… We’ve given tickets to a post-Christmas show, which naturally includes getting all dressed up, having a fancy dinner, etc. It can get pricey, but it’s been fun. Once or twice aunts and grandmas joined in for an “all girl” night out.

2. Camera. Not that every kid needs all their own expensive toys, but digital cameras aren’t as pricey as they once were. Teenage girls LOVE to take photos of each other (or themselves) and paste them on their Facebook. Even B, generally camera-shy, takes her camera to parties and such.

3. Sporting Goods. Any teenage girl that plays sports, can use an extra nice sporty something or other. Whether an extra nice pair of volleyball shorts found online, an extra nice ski jacket or a fancy baseball bag. Even if they can just use it for practice, girls always like adding a bit of style. The girls both love volleyball, so one year we bought both of them a beach net to share.

4. Clothes? Now, I generally DON’T recommend buying teenage girls clothes. BUT, if there’s a specific thing in an exact size that they’ve actually tried on, go for it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t risk it – try a Mall Gift Card instead. I don’t know how many clothes those girls have NOT worn because it wasn’t quite the right color, or didn’t fit exactly right, or it wasn’t cool enough… *sigh*. (Although, see earlier blog about getting “staples” – every gal needs a plain old white collared shirt). I’m sure this won’t be a problem w/ teenage boys down the road!

5. Kitcheny things… I asked the girls what their favorite gifts have been, and would you guess it – Kitcheny things were in abundance! Even though some were “family gifts”, they loved the Ice Cream maker, the KitchenAid (wait for your own wedding, kid), the Whip Creamer and we even have a torch for creme brulees.

6. Magazines. Both girls have their own interests, and could benefit from individual magazine subscriptions. And who doesn’t like MAIL addressed to them once in awhile??

7. Bags. Purses. Clutches. I know it’s still a “style” preference, but really, what gal doesn’t need at least 20 different bags in her closet? There’s the “going-out-purse”, the “shopping-with-friends” bag, the “grab-and-go” wallet, the “courier-catch-all”, in basic black, chocolate brown, red, white… ohhhh, I need a new bag…

8. Personalized gifts. Well, there isn’t a lot you can MAKE a teenager that they’ll truly appreciate, but a few of our relatives seem to do a great job. Gramma once gave each a “mock magazine cover” with their picture playing their favorite sport, all framed; an Uncle once gave a packet of a fashion magazine, mall card and a “glamoured up” photo for each of the girls. With photoshop, ANYTHING is possible nowadays!

9. A Holiday. Ok, so not many people have such a budget as to give airplane tickets as a Cmas gift (uh, never would happen), but if you’re planning to go away soon anyhow, Christmas might be a good time to spring the surprise! Include a copy of an airline ticket with a travel book (geared to kids, with lots of photos), a really cute travel tag, perhaps a nice piece of luggage, a language book, some foreign currency, etc – get creative!

10. Memory Book. I keep scrapbooks, but I haven’t given a personally put together book just for an individual gift highlighting, say, their high school years, or their elementary school friendships. Lots of great websites do this now such as Shutterfly.

Not sure I can possibly think of ANOTHER 10 – please add any ideas you might have as comments!

Rain, rain, you can stay (but only while we play today)

Who knew two little boys could have so much fun in the rain? Well, I suppose they ARE little boys…

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Feeding the pigeons (and those nasty seagulls) at Granville Island is one of the boys favorite things to do, it’s just that Momma prefers to do it when it’s nice and hot and sunny outside. And I have a jumbo latte in hand. And a dry chair.

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But, today I had to pick up my FRENCH CASSOULET’S at Oyama Sausage (see Things I LOVE). I ordered it a few months ago as they come out only once a year, so I’m pretty excited to eat it up. We also bought a mini-baguette from Terra Breads (do the pigeons appreciate a fresh baked french baguette vs day old stale whatever?! I highly doubt it, greedy gooses), and tossed it to the birds.

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Tt was doing all the feeding, while Boo just wanted to chase “Buh”s all over, and of course run through every puddle twice. Or more.

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Ahhhh, a wet, rainy Vancouver day is not wasted on us this time!

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Hard to imagine they both left in tears, isn’t it… Tt got bit on the finger by an especially greedy goose (actually a pigeon, I just like saying “goose”), so we had to go NOW, much to Boo’s anger and dismay. Ah, well, it was time – Boo was soaking wet and covered in bird crap anyhow. Nasty gooses.

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Looks like both boys got over their tears. Naps cure all sorts of ills.

Paris 2011

Paris! Here I come!

(No, I don’t know how to say that in french…).

I’m starting my research for my BIG 4-0 bday with Hubby in PARIS, France!! Ya, it’s early, and ya, we’re taking a few other trips (we hope…) before then, but this one I’m really looking forward to because it’ll be the first “NO KIDS” trip for Hubby and I since our Honeymoon 6 1/2 yrs ago, at ALMOST our 10 year Anniversary. AND, I just love all things Paris, so it’s a fun thing to google.

Check out my new page (beside “Me + My Crew”) for updates on what I’ve found to do and see in Paris in 2011!

(Oh, and I’ll also be researching a 2 or 3-day excursion to a beach… Nice? Cannes? Biaritz? Who knows!).

Homeschool #004 – Handwriting

As we continue this homeschooling journey, there are the things I definately DO want to teach, things I definately DON’T want to teach, and then there are the things I may (or may not) already be teaching without even realizing it – somehow, them kids just LEARN !!

Going into this year I asked Tt “What would you like to learn about this year?” and he suggested he would like to learn about Knights (which naturally I took to also mean the entire Medieval era…). So I said “Oh, great! And how about this year you learn how to write out your name?”. No response. (which naturally I took to mean “Sure, Mom – sounds like a great idea!”).

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About 10 minutes later he brought me this piece of paper below and said “Like this, Momma?”.

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So, what am I even here for, again?

Wanting to keep him practicing, I’ve since been giving him “activity” sheets with letters, a cardboard cutout of each letter of the alphabet to decorate and so on, much to his “Awww, Mom, do I have to?” disdain. Any time I ask him to spell his name, all he writes is “Tt”, and if I ask him to write anything else, he’s simply not interested.

Not INTERESTED, however I have learned, does not in any way mean not CAPABLE. What I was missing was motivation. When he wanted some extra money in his tin bank for a toy, this was his crafty solution.

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(He tried switching his empty “SPEND” jar with his full “INVEST” jar).

I was so impressed with his wit, I bought him a toy.

Travelling with Kids – Disneyland

A few years back Husband and I took B + A to Disneyland. They were about 7 and 10 at the time, and had been many a time before. Anyhow, it was MY first time travelling with kids, and I learned a lot both about kids and the “happiest” place on earth (my opinion – it’d be a whole lot happier without all them grouchy/pushy/rude parents!!).

SADLY, I cannot find the scrapbook to add photos!! I’m crushed! This trip was our FIRST (of very many) scrapbook, and we all spent the entire weekend searching about the house because it means a lot to all of us. If/WHEN I do find that book ‘o good times, I’ll repost with MUCH better pictures… For now, this “summary” page in another book was all I could find to rip off really bad fuzzy photos.

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1. Find your own food. We found a little fruit stand outside the park and just brought stuff in. I also had packed a small case of our own food from home – juice boxes, paris toasts (those super hard crunchy ones) with some jam, snack bars. It was extra packing, but it sure came in handy, especially when the kids were hungry NOW. Plus we ate faaaar less junk or expensive room service.

2. Allow the odd bad mood. Anyone can hit a bad mood, at any time, even on the best of days. Especially so with kids who are over-amped, over-sugared, over-excited. It’s a high that they’ll fall from at some point each day. So, we allowed the odd nasty mood (there weren’t many), joked about it, reminded them of the kind of behavior we wanted to see, and left it at that. I’ll never forget B’s refusal in a bad mood to smile for one pic, so we drew a huge a smile with jiffy marker on her face later and put it in the scrapbook. We still laugh about that one to this day.

3. Break up the day. Disneyland is an overwhelming place at any age! We always took time in the middle of the day to just laze around the hotel pool, order a nice, leisurely lunch, let Husband have a quick nap, change and head back over to the BIG park.

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4. Scrapbook! We brought a separate clear plastic box with some colored pencils, scissors, Disney stickers and tape/glue, and had bought the girls a polariod camera before leaving. FUN! Because the girls were smaller, we didn’t spend too many late nights out, so our pre-bed time was spent relaxing, rehashing our day ‘o fun and crafting. On the girls previous trips, apparently the focus was often on what toys/things they could buy – with the scrapbook, we were more focused on what kinds of garbage could be made into a cool memory (old fast passes, lunch receipts, things off the ground) (yep, even a plum pit). If we had missed a funny moment w/ the polaroid, we’d just try to cartoon it out. Not only was it fun, the girls spent the entire flight home showing it to random passengers on the airplane (sorry, you terribly patient people!).

5. Make sure everyone gets a half-day of JUST THEIR PICKS. Even the grown-ups! This not only taught everyone about “taking turns”, but the girls were learning how to graciously enjoy someone else’s picks even if it wasn’t “their favorite”. And, it made each of us, in turn, feel like it was their special “day”.

6. Buy a treat. Even though our focus on scrapbooking took the focus almost entirely off the shops, we did allow the girls to pick out 1 main treat each from the shops on one of our last days there. That way they had the days prior to look at ALL the choices and make ONE decision, rather than picking every single thing that caught their eye in every shop.

7. Take it easy. One other thing that made the trip so enjoyable, was that we never felt like we had to hit every single thing in the park on one trip. We hit all the big things once, our favorites twice, and promised to go back again soon for whatever we missed. It was so nice not to rush about. It was also nice to not feel so pressured to get there RIGHT when it opened and stay until RIGHT when it closed. We got our money’s worth just based on enjoyment factor.

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8. Bring some things to do. Yes, it’s a big, huge theme park. Yes, there’s a lot to do. But there’s also time in the hotel room while Hubby and I were getting things ready, in the afternoons while Hubby was napping, or in the evenings when we were just RESTING. The kids still needed some things to do. Our special thing was to make these beaded bracelets on elastic to match our bathing suits. We even started using them as a game in the pool, dropping the colorful cords to the bottom and diving to get them.

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9. Whistle a happy tune. We tried to make everything part of the fun. Even standing in line for the shuttle to the hotel. While others got grouchy waiting (and waiting, and waiting…) in the hot sun, we made up a really silly “bus” song that we sang every time to pass the time. To help A get out of her shy-shell, B and I would try to convince her to go up to strangers and say things – it was HIL-ar-ious, if not a wee bit immature… A also made some joke about a plum pit, which none of us got, so we just all laughed every time she said “Plum!”.

A day in the Life…

One of the advantages I’m hoping for with homeschooling is more quality family time.

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Now to figure out what that means…

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For now, it’s just extra time to hang out together. Specifically, it’s extra time with Daddy.

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Since the boys don’t have to get up and rush out the door each morning, they can stay up a wee bit later in the evening to get some extra play time in w/ Daddy (and Momma, when I’m not working…).

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In the morning Daddy gets the boys up and feeds them breakfast while Momma sleeps in after staying up to late working. Or blogging. Ok, I admit it.

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We generally start our school “activities” at the table after breakfast, before there’s too much distraction by toys and videos and things to do. We try to get our activities, play groups, music, etc before Daddy gets home again.

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Ahhhh. The relaxed life. I’m lovin’ it.

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Gift Ideas – Girls 12-16 part 1

It’s nearing Christmas, and for those of you who haven’t yet begun to shop, perhaps this will help.

What can I say? I just love lists. Straightforward, to the point lists.

Over the years the girls have received (and not JUST from me!) some really great gifts. I always like something that’s going to teach them something, or something they’ll (hopefully) treasure, something meaningful. It’s always so tough to get just the right idea, so here are some extra ideas to ponder…

1. Beads (or any craft). We started out with the big chunky “little kid” beads, but ended up with expensive stones – through the last 8 years we continue to make our own necklaces and jewelry to wear, sell and give away. The gift that keeps giving! Also beading books are great gifts for ideas.

2. TV DVD’s. They love to own their favorite TV shows from Top Models to Heroes, to re-watch as the new season starts (or hits a lull) or to share with their friends.

3. Jewelry boxes. And not just the cheesy ones – nice, grownup, stitched leather ones, travel ones, fancy ones.

4. Staples. Every girl needs a. black dress pants,  b. a white dress shirt and c. a decent pair of shoes and d. a coat they can finish it all off with (for concerts, nice dinners out, Christmas, etc). And, at a younger age, they’ll keep growing out of them, so it’s a gift you can give a few times 😉

5. Shopping! What a gift! The girls’ Grampa leaves nothing to chance, and takes them shopping for 2 “items” each (cost per “item” pre-determined!), which he takes and wraps up. It’s a gift they’ll actually wear, and also gives the gift of time together.

6. “Hope Chest” thangs. As the girls have gotten older, I think more of gifts that I can see them using when they have their own house to live in, such as a solid quality quilt, a special blanket, special “grown up” pj’s, expensive housecoat, etc.

7. A Skill in a Box. A few times I’ve created a box of some kind of skill to enjoy teaching/learning with the girls over the coming year. A sewing box, a crafts box, a glass bead making box. Some simple items to get them intrigued or started in learning something new that year.

8. Match ’em up! I have two girls, plus me, so once or twice I’ve given all three of us something matching, making it meaningful. Mostly jewelry does this just right, especially if we can get an engraving. I received an old ring from a passed-away aunt that had 25 stones in it. Next year we plan to have 3 matching rings made, which I’ve asked my eldest daughter to design.

9. All in the family. Last year I made each girl (plus one or two of their close friends) a cookbook with basic cooking guidelines and recipes from every branch of the family. I especially included all their favorite meal things from our day to day dinners. (Kind of goes with Hope Chest things – they can take this with them wherever they go from here).

10. Hot rollers! Amazing, but not every young gal has grown up with hot rollers somewhere in their closet! We’ve had a blast learning to use them on each other and trying to make them super curly to just-right wavy.

That should do it for ideas for this season – perhaps by next season I’ll have thought out / remembered 10 more. Enjoy your shopping!