Crafting Time – Part 5

Yes, seriously – Part 5 and still counting!

dsc_9190We once bought packages of this metal “sheet” that came in rolls and made these reliefs with it. They adorned everything from birthday cards to tags for gifts, and were real pretty to boot!

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dsc_9182This goes down as the weirdest craft ever conceived. B and her BFF sat on our porch one day after school and made these guys out of sticks – and chewed gum… ya. They do look kinda cute, though.

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Often our party invitations became craft times as well. This one is for one of A’s bday parties when she was younger. We had a stock of funky fonts (thanks to Gramma!) and pics back then to use. It was always a fun part of planning a party.

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dsc_9173Don’t let these plain old popsicle holders (from the dollar store, because we needed so many) fool you – these are works of art. We used to spend one day after school was out and go down to Granville Island and pick out all kinds of fresh fruit and make our own popsicle combo’s. The flavors got more and more interesting as time got on.

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dsc_9191Sometimes crafts are done “to” us. This is one of my Hubby’s brothers’ crafty gift at Christmas one year. He made these cards, inserting family faces into actual game shots, for the girls (soccer and baseball) and Hubby. There were even all kinds of made-up stats on the backs! They were a real hit, and a great Photoshop craft.

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dsc_9192Another “done to us” craft. Hubby’s bro (again) photoshopped each of the girls (and their friends – this was from B’s grad) into a published shot – Miss Universe, and I think A’s was a professional baseball game. Crazy fun! I really gotta learn photoshop…

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More, again, to follow, one day. Including crafts given to us by others! Stay tuned. Again.

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Crafting Time – Part 4

Yes, Part 4! I’ve put only 6 crafts per post because I personally can’t read past two or three paragraphs without coming to the end of my own attention span – I’m giving you all the same courtesy ;-). Who wants to read a post that’s 50 photos long?! So, here we go one more time.

dsc_9179Yes, even our pumpkins get downright crafty! One year we eve had one with little white lights poking all around it. These ones are an owl and an… anteater?? Can’t remember. We’ve had some pretty impressive ones around here, though. I’m pretty sure I remember these templates being in a Martha Stewart mag.

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dsc_9175It’s a bit hard to tell what this particular craft actually IS by this photo… We bought dollar store colored sponges, cut them into strips and tied 6 or so together to make water bombs! Then we put up barriers, like the trampoline on edge, and bombed each other away. They also made good, fun, wet, baseballs to hit with a bat for a splash. And far easier to “fill” than those fussy water balloons!!

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dsc_9185This craft was a great birthday gift for our then-4 year old niece/cousin. B painstakenly drew out the Dora and then her and A decorated away, front and back. She got to wear it the whole day – the whole year!

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dsc_9178Nothing is safe from a crafty soul – not even breakfast. With tubes of raspberry sauce and spray-whipped-cream, anything is possible!

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dsc_9186“Craftiness” around here not only includes food, but also clothes. B bought this “Gr 7 Grad” dress during our trip to Paris, and then sat and sewed on row after row of matching colored beads around the bottom rim and top collar. Way to go, B! It was a very rewarding craft – she was so proud of it on her “Grad” day.

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dsc_9188aI can’t remember what we did with these after we went to all that trouble to make them, but at any rate, here they are! I’d found a dough-bead recipe online and away we went from plain round to super fancy. Dough-beads were fun to make, that much I do remember.

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Keep tuned for more craftyness!

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Ser-VICE!

The club volleyball season that will suck up the next 3 months of our lives is, once again, upon us.
And now I’m sucking everyone else in with me.

Volleyball actually carries through the entire year now with very little reprieve between the school team, the club team and the beach team, between training, games and tournaments home and away – all multiplied by 2 girls. Dang good thing it’s mostly an indoor sport – soccer seasons were mostly COLD.

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While I’m completely sold on the benefits of a little bit of team (or personal) sport for kids, especially for girls (keeps them outta the malls and, so far, keeps them too busy for the boys 😉 ), just driving to/fro and sitting/yelling, although I do those quite well, isn’t quite enough for me to get out of it.

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My personal quest every season, every team, is to capture THE action shot.

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Unfortunately I don’t exactly have THE best indoor action shot camera, but I doubt Hubby would let me spend $3,000.00 on a camera just to get volleyball pictures for my scrapbook.

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Or, there is the possibility it’s not the camera, it’s just that I don’t know how to use it. The daylight/beach shots are definately easier to achieve.

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Either way, these were the best few (out of 200!) from today. (Although the one above looks kinda funny with no ball in the picture… Like she was just very awkwardly “posing”).

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It’s definately a bit easier to catch shots in warm-up – their moves are more predictable.

Well, on the challenge goes – 2 tournaments down, 8 to go…

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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!

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!

Fun things to do with Teenage Daughters

Or, tricky ways to get your teenage daughters to hang with you…

A few of my friends with smaller girls (under 10) will admit they really truly fear the “TEENAGE” years ahead – that age where many young, sweet, chatty, sit-on-your-lap little girls suddenly become internalized balls of confusion, near which you are no longer welcome.
I’m lucky MY daughters are still super sweet (when they’re not trying to slip something past me – hear me, girls – if I don’t already know what you’re up to, I find out!), but even so it takes work to keep a relationship between teen girls and a Mom going.
Here are some things we’ve done since the big “alien capture” that seems to occur somewhere in the middle of their Grade 8 year…

1. Dates.
We often make a night of a movie together – whether just two of us or all three.
Sometimes A and Momma Bear go on “reading dates” to Chapters where we buy lattes (or hot chocolate) and sit and read whatever we’ve picked up, sitting together but not having to talk unless we want to.
Sometimes B and Momma Bear go on “shopping dates” where she spends all my money on something I’ll probably never be able to wear! (I like it better when it’s s’thing I can borrow…)

The first day “out” of school, the three of us girls go for “Tea” at the Secret Garden to celebrate, look at their yearbooks, talk about their goodbyes, etc.

2. Encourage them to go out with their friends.
Shocking but true – the more you encourage them to have friends over, invite friends to dinner, but also to go out with their friends without you, the more they may open up about their friends to you. I’ve always preached to the girls to have a balance – family-only time, friend-only time, friends-as-part-of-our-family time, etc.

3. Dye their hair for them.
Remember those games of trust where you have to fall and “trust” the other person catches you? A teenage girl allowing you to (permanently!) touch their hair is like this game for them.
I’m getting quite pro at putting red streaks in A’s hair!

4. Get tattoos together.
OK, so this one may be extreme. But, for B and Momma Bear, this was actually the plan for awhile. It opened up a number of good conversations, too.
In the end, she got a belly piercing and I just watched/took photos/almost fainted. BUT, I’m sure we still bonded in there somewhere…


5. Read their Magazines.
Never thought I could get so into Teen Vogue! We flip through and have to pick one item on each page that we’d actually wear. Often it’s a pretty tough call.

6. Learn to do a French Mani.
We paint our toes together often. Besides Husband complaining of FUMES, it’s good clean fun. We’ve started collecting a pretty nice group of OPI colors in all kinds of crazy and dark and fun colors. A has also learned to do a mean French Mani and treats all kinds of people who come by. (Good to give teens skills they can use for relating to young’er’uns when they come by).

7. Dinner around the WORLD.
The girls grew out of “birthday parties” for family ages ago. Now, for our family birthday celebrations with all the grandparents/aunts/uncles/etc, the bday Kid gets to pick a country and we make the whole meal from their cuisine. The non-bday Kid gets into it too, helping with decorations etc. It’s also a good way to get them interested in all kinds of food – they still enjoy it, and it seems a contest to see will get stuck with our least favorite food in the end, Chinese…

8. GO TO HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL AND SAW (1 through 5, apparently…).
Ya, well, not generally “adult” favorites, but if they’re willing to LET you be seen with them and their friends, GO. (Even if you have to cover your eyes… and plug your ears… )

9. Get a facebook account. And MSN. And…
Not only do I chat with B and A a lot on facebook, but I chat with their friends and see SOME OF what’s happening in their “inner circles”.

10. Read their books.
I’m still waiting to have time to read “Twilight”, but I did manage to read MOST of the Harry Potter books in time to be excited for the movies with them.

11. Learn to do cool hairstyles (and makeup).
STUDY the fashion mags and learn to do some of the hairstyles and makeup. Practice on them
(and their friends!) – you’ll become “the indispensible Mom” by Grad and Prom. (PLUS, you can have a LITTLE bit of control over how “HO” that makeup can get…). I wish I’d done more of this one…


12. BAKE.
Sometimes when we ACTUALLY have a Friday (or Sat) night FREE with NOTHING pre-set to do (shocking but true), we grab a laptop, a stack of DVD’s and head to the kitchen to see how many recipes we can bake in one night. Husband loves these nights…
A and B both also each still have baking parties just before Christmas every year where they invite 2 or 3 friends and they make 4 or 5 recipes and split them up to take home. I used to be “needed” to help out, but now that they’re older I can sit and enjoy and have a latte and read my own ADULT Vogue while they rush about making an incredible mess of my kitchen. We all love it.

13. Watch THEIR Tv shows.
I am totally addicted to all kinds of shows I would never have found on my own, but watch now because A and/or B like watching them and talking about the characters. We don’t actually have cable at our house, but they see the shows elsewhere and I catch up on DVD or You Tube. (Gossip Girl, anyone???).

(wow – we do a lot together!)

14. Create.
Every Christmas I do almost all of the shopping/planning/wrapping/etc for the grandparents, brothers, Husband, cousins, etc. But I insist that the girls and I HANDMAKE the gifts for the aunts and uncles. Last year it was a bit painful – sewing homemade printed patches of photos we’d taken onto Meinhardt’s cloth shopping bags, filling them of calendars that featured the 4 kids’ artwork, baked goods and felt snowflake coasters – but we (mostly) did it together!

15. Teach fancy table decorating.
Not only does it get them involved in helping at special dinner parties, but it’s something they can really take charge of after awhile and it takes one thing off MY plate!

16. Get into their homework.
When they have a question with a subject, I really try to help. I’ll have to re-read texts, google, stretch my memory, etc, and it can take up to an hour to help out with ONE question, but, hey, it’s still time together, no? AND I get to be smart! I’ve even tried helping them with their Mandarin…

17. One word – STARBUCKS.
Once a week I pick up the girls and we head straight out to Starbucks. Husband thinks this is silly because he bought me a barista machine for home, but somehow going out is better, less distracting. We sit and chat – sometimes about big stuff, mostly about nothing in particular.

18. Another word – ROCKBAND! (or Guitar Hero, whatever they prefer)
We could spend hours at video games – Husband isn’t as into it as I am, but it’s still fun, even for us 3 girls. Tt is getting into it now too and, at 4 1/2, is singing and drumming along.

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19. Plan a party.
I love planning parties with the girls – and I THINK they love it too! I even enjoy planning parties for them that Husband and I aren’t “invited” to (because apparently at 16 it’s just not cool to have your parents around anymore. REALLY?? well, ya, it’s not personal, riiiiight??).

Ok, my mental list is about exhausted – I’d hoped to get an “even” 20 items that we do around here, but alas. So I’ve asked the girls friends what “fun” things they do with their mothers/parents… I’ll see if I get anything to provide an update, or at least complete that last item I’d wanted to think of!