Monday, November 12, 2018

Holiday Gift Ideas for Tweens & Teens

What seems like many moons ago, I used to post a "Hottest Toys of Christmas {Insert Year}" post annually here on the blog. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Then, as my own kids got older and less "toy focused," I stopped doing that post because it just didn't fit my parenting stage anymore. 

Last year, for the first time, I did a "Creative Holiday Gift Ideas for Tween and Teens" post instead and it was so much fun! Through the research, I actually got some great ideas for my own daughters, too, so I decided to do that post again this year! Maybe this one will become the new holiday tradition here on the blog. 

Be sure to check out last year's list again - all the ideas listed there could be used this year, too! However, if you're looking for some new suggestions, here you go! 



**Note: I have three daughters, so I openly confess that this list has a feminine slant, but I think it can be useful for the teen guys in your life too! 

1.  LED Light Box -Your teen can brighten up his/her room by putting this light box on a wall, shelf, or desk. The messages are changeable and can be used to add fun to parties, photos, or even as a table centerpiece. This particular one is available on Amazon for $24.95, but there are lots of others available at various retailers and ranging in price from around $15-$50. 
Available at Amazon.com
2. GlamGlow #Mulitmasking Mask Treatment  - My teen girls love a good face mask! This set from Sephora offers six different, travel-size face mask favorites for $39.00.
Available at Sephora 
3.  Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer - I'm no makeup expert, but apparently this make up line is hugely popular and this particular shade works well on everyone! It's available for $18 from Spehora or directly from Fenty Beauty online. 
Available at Sephora
4.  Cool Sunglasses - When my oldest daughter started driving, I realized that a pair of sunglasses was not only a fashion accessory, but somewhat of a necessity for teens. Aviator glasses seem to be a popular style, but, of course the are tons of options that range in price from ten dollars to hundreds of dollars!
These aviators from YuFalling come with different lens color options and are  $15.99 on Amazon
5.  Caboodles - Do you remember these from the 90's? I had one I used to store make up and a smaller one I used for hair accessories. Well, guess what? They are back! And, they're still great for storing make up, hair accessories, jewelry, or art supplies. Available at Target , the large size runs $16-20 with smaller ones available for around $7-10. 
This one is listed at Target.com for $16.99
6. 3-D Monogram necklace - Available at mynamenecklace.com, this is a unique version of a popular jewelry item. I love the round, three dimensional design of this necklace that is available in silver, gold, or rose gold. With a sale price of $89.95 on the sterling silver version, it's a bit more expensive than most of the things on my list, but might be worth the investment if you have a jewelry loving teen! (The site also has flat, disc, and acrylic monograms necklaces available at slightly lower prices.)
Available at mynamenecklace.com
7.  Teen Cookbook - Tweens and teens certainly can eat some food, right? So, why not help them learn how to cook it?!? This book, titled Teens Cook: How to Cook What you Want to Eat is a best seller on Amazon for $13.99. There are other cook book options as well including some that focus on baking and some from your teen's favorite You Tubers. 
Available via Amazon
8. Umbra FishHotel Mini Aquarium - I like to think of this as a modern, contemporary fish bowl! It was once featured on Oprah's Favorite things and what teen doesn't need to practice a little responsibility?!?! 😜It's just under $40 on Amazon (fish not included!).
Available via Amazon

9. #Hastag it! Board Game - This game sounds a lot like "Apples to Apples" with hashtags!  #fun #lotsoflaughter #stopwiththehashtags Each round starts with a silly picture and players try to choose the best hashtag from the cards in their hands. It's available on Amazon for under $20. **It is recommended for ages 18 and up. If you have younger teens or tweens, check out the family version, also available on Amazon
Available via Amazon
10. The Night Sky - These star maps are a super unique idea! You enter a special date and location (such as the day and place someone was born or a graduation date), and they will create an 18" x 24" print of the stars in the night sky at that specific time. You can include a message, such as "On the Day You Were Born" and it's available in four different colors. The print is $60 and, for an additional $60, you can add a frame. Check it out at www.thenightsky.com.
This is one I created just for fun! You can create without purchasing 
11. Fun Rain Boots - My daughters all have to walk outside between buildings during the school day, so they are not happy campers when it rains. Why not add some sunshine to rainy days with a pair of bright rain boots?!? You can purchase inexpensive ones from somewhere like Target or Kohls for less than $50  or pricier ones like Sperry or Hunter boots that cost upwards of $100. It just depends on your budget and the fashion sense of your teen! 


(L to R: women's Hale boots from muckbootcompany.com, Sperry boots via sperry.com, and floral boots via Target.com)

12.  Classic Crocs - Speaking of shoes, it seems that old school, classic Crocs are coming back into style (worn with socks, of course!). No, I'm not kidding. Keep your teens at the peak of fashion by wrapping up a pair and putting them under the tree this year! They will cost about $40 via crocs.com and come in a wide variety of colors.
Available at www.crocs.com
13.  Coffee Mug - I'm so old that, when I was a teenager, Starbucks wasn't a thing yet (except maybe in Seattle), so I didn't start drinking coffee until motherhood necessitated it several years later. Today's teens, however, are coffee fanatics (at least some of them). So how about a fun mug like this heat-sensitive, color changing unicorn mug? Yes, it seems a little silly, but if it changes your teen's morning scowl to a smile, it's definitely worth the $11.99 you'll pay Amazon! (If unicorns don't float your teen's boat, there are plenty of other coffee mug options including sports teams, funny sayings, and travel mugs!)
Available via Amazon
14.  Bubble Pop iPhone Case - This case, available from Urban Outfitters, works for an iPhone 6, 6s, 7, or 8 and costs $24.00. It will surely provide hours of fun for your teen's fidgety fingers! 
Available through Urban Outfitters
15. Pup socks - Does your teen love his/her pup? or cat? Take a pup pic, upload it, and receive some fun, custom socks that he/she can wear everywhere! Check out www.gopupsocks.com to create pair!that will run you about $30. They also have mugs, blankets, shoes, and bags! 
Available at www.gopupsocks.com
16. SoundSoul Bluetooth Water Dancing Speakers - These speakers, available through Amazon, put on a great light and water show while playing your teen's favorite tunes! Great for parties or just to add pizazz to their bedroom.
Available via Amazon


A couple other suggestions:
  • Don't rule out gift cards! Many people feel like giving gift cards is taking the easy way out, but I can assure you that there is nothing a teen would love more than to have some "free money" to spend at his/her favorite store. If it makes you feel better, tie the gift card to a giant candy bar or stuff it in a fun pair of socks, but don't worry that teens won't be happy with a gift card (or two!). 
  • Enough with the stuff! Despite the list I just shared, there is not a single teen I know who needs more stuff. So, I encourage you to think about giving the teens in your life some experiences instead! Movie tickets, concert tickets, escape room tickets, and sporting event tickets would all be great gifts that would allow your teens to have some fun and make some memories without putting more things on their shelves or in their closets. 
  • Back to basics! I am guilty, myself, of trying so hard to be creative that I often overlook the "run of the mill" basics. Clothes, shoes, winter gear (like hats and gloves), and personal care items (such as bath sets or hair styling products) are always welcome AND useful! 
  • What matters most to YOUR teen? I've got one who loves make up, one who loves horses, and one who is a budding architect! Maybe you have a sports fanatic, a music connoisseur, or an artist. Think about what tickles your teen's fancy and, then, go down that road. 
Hopefully, this list has helped to ignite your holiday spirit and you have found at least a couple ideas that might help answer "What in the world am I going to get my tween/teen this Christmas?" If you've got any other great ideas, please share them in a comment below - I need all the help I can get, too! πŸ˜‰

**Disclaimer: I have not purchased, used, or reviewed all the items on this list and inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of these products. Please take time to read reviews and research on your own before purchasing. 



Monday, November 5, 2018

Sometimes Motherhood

Motherhood used to sometimes be sleepless nights and baby snuggles. Sometimes, there were toddler tantrums and tickle monsters. Sometimes, sippy cups and potty training were of upmost concern. Sometimes, I miss those days that seem so long ago and, yet, just like yesterday. Most of the time, though, I am quite happy right here where we are now in the midst of middle school, high school, and teenager-hood.

Now, our sometimes are a little bit different now . . 
Sometimes you say, "Mom I need to stay after school for . . . ." and, then I forget. 

Sometimes, I skip something I'd like to do to drive you to your activities instead. 
Really, I don't mind.
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Sometimes, we eat frozen pizza or cereal for dinner because I don't have the energy, time, or creativity to make herbed risotto with spinach and sun-dried tomato marinated chicken. You wouldn't eat it if I did. 

Sometimes, we sit around the dinner table eating pancakes for supper and we laugh until         we cry at some silly something.
Those are the moments I treasure.
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Sometimes, our house is a wreck with laundry piled up, dishes in the sink, shoes on the floor, and strange smells emanating from your bedrooms. I get frustrated and wish you were more responsible and tidy.

Sometimes, home is the only place I want to be, surrounded by all of you, each in your separate rooms or totally disregarding my personal space as you sit next to me on the couch while we watch something ridiculous on TV. 
These are moments I savor.
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Sometimes, you are moody, and sulky, and you spend all day in your room being excessively teenager-y. You are teenagers, after all.

Most of the time, it's not. 
*******************************************
Sometimes, I am reeling at how fast you are growing up and I worry about the future. How do we pick the right school? Are you safe when you drive? Are your friends good friends?

Sometimes, I cannot wait to see what the future holds; what amazing things you will do; what amazing people you will be. 
I look forward to finding out. 
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Sometimes, motherhood is hard.
Sometimes, motherhood is fun. 
Sometimes, motherhood is stressful.
Sometimes, motherhood is inspiring. 
Sometimes, motherhood is frightening.
Sometimes, motherhood is rewarding.

Most of the time, it's all of the above. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Seasons of Parenting


I read the FTSF post on Facebook this week which was "10 things about the changing of the seasons...". The first thing that came to my mind was how the seasons of parenting change. That seems to be on my mind a lot lately as my now teenagers are growing and changing just as fast as toddlers do, it seems. I brushed it off, though, because I usually don't have much time to write these days and, while I still love writing here in this space, it has gotten pushed far to the back of my priorities shelf. 

However, speaking of seasons, it's hurricane season and I ended up with a quiet day at home today thanks for Hurricane Florence. (That will probably be the only thing I ever thank her for!) I live in central NC and, fortunately, as Flo has approached our coast and made landfall, she has weakened. Original predictions, though, had her coming in as a Category 4 and having a huge, devastating impact on our state as far as 300 miles inland closer to where we live. With that earlier forecast in mind, schools closed for today fearing the worst. Since then, the predicted path has changed and the storm actually came in as a Category 1. There will still be flooding and significant damage, for sure, but I now have this lazy day at home to write a little blog post. 

So, focusing back on the seasons of parenting, here's how it breaks down in my mind:
  1. Expecting - This is the stage when you are just expecting your first child. You are blissfully unaware that you have no idea what you are getting into and that you will not have a sound night's sleep again for the next 18+ years. 
  2. Newborn - You have brought your bundle of joy home and are now delirious with love for this tiny human. However, you are also sleep derived, confused, constantly worried, and have most likely defaulted to yoga pants and ponytails as you have no time for showering or make up. 
  3. Toddlers - When you're in this season, you are knee deep in potty training, tantrums, and baby-proofing everything to make sure your sweet little angle doesn't ingest a bottle of Mr. Clean or take a headlong dive down the stairs. **This stage is often complicated by combining it with the newborn stage if parents add second and third children into the mix. In that case, you are in the sleep deprived newborn stage and the hyper vigilant toddler stage all at the same time. Good luck! 
  4. Elementary  - In this stage, you are in disbelief that you precious cherub is old enough to go to school and you shed tears as you watch him/her tote that ginormous backpack into the classroom where they will be with someone else more hours in day that they will be with you (at least awake!). Secretly, though, you are looking forward to a little time for yourself. This stage also involves considerable paperwork - all the school forms, school fundraisers, permission slips,  . . . . . .
  5. Older elementary - By this stage, you have gotten used to dropping them off in the carpool line. Instead of crying and savoring snuggles in the morning, you are constantly saying "Hurry up!" and sticking a granola bar in their hand as you rush them out the door. Hopefully, they are doing most of their homework on their on with just a few gentle reminders, because you will soon realize that you are, in fact, NOT smarter than a fifth grader due to the fact that's not the way you learned to multiply or apply commas. The kids are somewhere between "Hold me, Mommy!" and "Don't you dare kiss me in front of my friends!" Bedtime is pushed back closer to 9:00pm and your grocery bill is consistently rising in order to satisfy their constant need to snack. 
  6. Middle school - Hormones, homework, and mood swings - oh my!! You spend hours and hours in your car chauffeuring kids to all. the. things. 
  7. High school/teens - You've somewhat gotten used to the hormones and moods swings - you can now take them in stride and, occasionally, even predict them. You actually kind of miss all those hours you spent in the car because, now, they can drive themselves and you don't see them much anymore. But you worry - every second you are not with them, you are worried about them in a whole new way. There are new stressors, too, like college decisions, car insurance, and dating. You also laugh at the you who thought they ate a lot when they were a few years younger - these teenagers can put away some food! 
  8. College  - I'm not quite here yet, although I can hardly believe that I will be in less than two years. I imagine this stage is a grand mixture of pride, loneliness, and uncertainty. I'm just getting used to my oldest driving herself and I already feel like our time together has been drastically reduced. I can only imagine the vacuum I will feel when she goes away to college.
  9. Young adults - Obviously, I'm not here yet, either. I envision a time of travel for my husband and me while our kids are independent adults. I am certain I will miss them immensely, but my house will probably be a whole lot cleaner, too! 
  10. Grandparenting - My own parents have tried to describe the feeling of being a grandparent, but it is apparently a feeling that is tough to articulate. An overwhelming love, but one that is different form the way you love your own children. I can only suppose that watching your own children experience these stages themselves is quite an exceptional experience. 
I should also mention that these seasons often overlap. What seems like a long time ago and also just like yesterday, I dropped my oldest off for her first day of kindergarten with a toddler tagging along and a two week old newborn in a carrier on my chest. Now, my oldest is a teenager who recently got her driver's license, while my younger two are still in middle school. Having come this far in parenting, I would say that no season is easier than another. They are all just different, each with its own unique challenges and joys. 


What season of parenting are you in right now?

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