Category Archives: Just for Fun

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Guest Post: Best Holiday Gifts for Grandparents.

This week’s guest post is provided by Libby. As a 60-year-old grandparent of seven, Libby prides herself on successfully spoiling every child with minimal complaints from her daughter, son, and their respective spouses. Even with chronic back problems, she is determined to earn the title of “World’s Best Grandparent” and spends every afternoon loving on her kids’ kids, one child at a time. Libby created Grandparenting.info to share what she’s learned as a grandmom and to help new grandparents make the most of every second with their grandkids.

There’s no doubt that you love your grandparents, and this holiday season is a great time to show them just how much. When choosing a gift, you can make their day by getting them something they’ll truly cherish. They might be extra appreciative of gifts that they can use to make their lives easier or more comfortable, such as tools for their favorite hobbies or a senior-friendly phone. Here are some ideas.

Sentimental Gifts

Letting your grandparents know how much they mean to you is always appreciated. The holidays could be a great time to gift them some sentimental gifts that will remind them they’re always in your thoughts. According to Personal Creations, personalized gifts can hit the right spot. They can combine sentimentality with function or add a great aesthetic to a room. Your choices can include daily use items like clothes, bowls, mugs, and jars. Decorative gifts like photo albums, throws and pillows can really brighten your grandparents’ day. 

If your grandparents are like most, they like to talk about family and the great, big family tree. Why not get them a gift that will showcase these interconnections? Family tree frames can be used to house pictures of a family tree of varying sizes depending on how large you’d like to make it. You can even get creative and combine more than one of these frames. 

Tech-Based Gifts

Yes, it may seem that technology and older adults aren’t always a good match, but you might be surprised by the number of senior-friendly technology devices out there. According to Gear Brain, some tech gifts your grandparents might appreciate include robot cleaning devices and a truly simple Wi-Fi product that your grandparents can have set up in no time. If you always want to send pictures to them but they’re not that tech-savvy to use email, consider getting them digital photo frames that you can update with pictures at the touch of a button. 

If your grandparents need a new mobile phone, then consider checking out some flip phone options like the LG Exalt LTE or the Kyocera DuraXV LTE. Both of these phones work well for seniors, but the Kyocera phone is great for those who love the outdoors. Where tablets are concerned, you should definitely check out a few Samsung devices which feature large display screens and are easy to use.

Companionship Gifts

If your grandparents aren’t close by and you don’t get a lot of time to visit, it might be good to consider getting them a gift of companionship. There are numerous health benefits for older adults who have pets, but there are also quite a few responsibilities involved with taking care of an animal. In this case, it might be good to strike a happy medium where your grandparents get to interact with animals but aren’t completely responsible for their care. 

If your grandparents live in a location that is frequented by birds, then a good birdhouse might be just what they need. When it comes to birdhouses, Gardener’s Supply Company suggests paying attention to the material that it’s made of and where you intend to place it. Make sure to find a birdhouse that is the right size for the kind of birds you expect to visit. A recent companion invention may also be of interest as a gift. The companion pet is a robotic pet that behaves very much like a cat or dog, but your grandparents won’t need to clean up any messes or make visits to the vet. 

Hobby-Friendly Gifts

Depending on your grandparents’ activity level, they may have certain hobbies they enjoy, so you can get them gifts that support that. For older adults who love fishing, you can choose from gifts that match their level of expertise. Whether your loved ones are just starting out or have been doing it for a while, you can definitely find gifts that can help them enjoy their hobby even more. 

If your grandparents are more sedentary and have a knack for knitting, then how about getting them some tools for their craft? They may appreciate items like knitting needles, storage tote bags, and a yarn ball winder. Finally, for the gardener in your midst, they may be interested in trying out bonsai trees. If they have the patience for growing the trees from scratch, consider getting a good starter kit. Otherwise, you can get them a bonsai tree seedling that they can start tending to immediately. 

The gift options for older adults have broadened over the years, and you can pick out quite a few gifts that would mean a lot to your grandparents. You can get them sentimental gifts that will keep their memories close at hand or get them technology-based gifts that they’ll find easy to use. Whatever you choose, your grandparents will certainly be appreciative that you put so much thought into it.

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How many presents ?

How many presents do you buy for your kids at Christmas?

In my family, amongst my friends, between the parents I speak to online, there are very different approaches to Christmas presents. Some people buy a lot, some buy little. Some place a lot of emphasis on Santa’s gifts, some less, some not at all. Everyone wants their kids to have an amazing Christmas experience, and all the kids get exactly that! But which approach to gift giving is best? Which suits you and your family?

  • How much to spend?
  • How many gifts to give?
  • More presents or bigger presents?
  • Who gets the credit, parents or Santa?
  • How to make sure the kids appreciate their gifts?

How much to spend?

How long is a piece of string? This really is a circular question. Family finances are so different that measuring your spend against another can never be helpful. Different incomes, different budgets, different priorities make this an impossible comparison and one that can only make you feel bad. Bad you aren’t spending enough or bad you’ve spent too much. Or you feel smug you’ve done just the right thing and then you should feel bad for feeling smug.

The main thing is to spend what you can afford only. Going into debt or having to cut back too much to afford a lot of presents isn’t going to pay dividends. Your kids may love those toys but soon they’ll want to go on fun outings you can’t afford or need new shoes you can’t buy and the toys won’t make up for it.

How many gifts to give?

This is where you can save money when you have little ones. They won’t know how much things cost so if you want to give a lot, go for lots of cheap gifts rather than one or two expensive ones. If you have more than one child make sure they have the same number as they’ll probably compare. Even if you spent more on one child they are more likely to see the fairness in how many gifts they can count. But giving too many gifts can make the opening become a factory line and the shine of getting a gift can be rubbed away. Too many presents and you run the risk of an ungrateful child who keeps expecting more and more. Plus there’s only so much they can focus on and some of the toys are likely to gather dust, at least for a while. Where’s the sweet spot? That’s up to you, of course, but just remember not to compare to the other parents! There’s always someone giving a number wildly different to you and making you second guess your decision.

Bigger is better?

There are some big items that are often given as Christmas gifts. I mean large! Like cubby houses, trampolines, swing sets, play kitchens, bikes….. This big presents often come with a price tag to match and can be an excellent option for a group gift, to all the kids/all the family (maybe not the bike!)

Large toys can be impressive and give a lot of bang for their buck as they aren’t always matched by their price. Young children, just as they will see a lot of toys as a big haul, are likely to see Big toys as impressive. A large cheap toy might create more excitement than an expensive small one. But the long term value is worth considering, if the cheap toy becomes just more for the toy box and eventually landfill. Small toys can be used to fill a stocking. Little hands reaching in again and again to reveal yet more tiny wonders might create more joy. How big is your home? I know I think hard about just where I will keep each item once it’s a part of our lives and homes before I buy it. If you can’t think of an obvious place to keep it, maybe it’s something best to avoid!

Who gave the best gift, you or Santa?

This one really gets the mums groups to disagree. On the one side is the argument that Santa is magical and special and kids should believe the best comes from that magical place while they still can. On the other hand is the position that parents put in all the hard work so they should get the credit and appreciation they deserve. Also to take into consideration is that the biggest and best present means very different things to different families. Some have hardly anything or nothing to spend on Christmas and some have limitless funds and means. If Santa is attributed with the most extravagant present, yet this varies from one child to the next, will the children see this and feel like Santa has been unfair or doesn’t care as much for some children? This a very personal question and your family dynamics and the personality of your child will sway the decision. How likely are your kids to discuss their gifts with other children? Some countries have school close to Christmas and some do not, does this affect the likelihood of comparison discussions? Do your children appreciate you usually or do you feel they need to see how you work hard to get them the things they have? Is the magic of Santa especially important to you and to them?

How much will they appreciate their presents?

We all want to give our kids what they want, but we try to give them what they need as well. And maybe sometimes they need to appreciate what they’ve been given a bit more? I know my toddler can begin to expect gifts around present giving time. For a month after his birthday he would come home from daycare asking, “Have you got a present for me?” There were even tears sometimes when the answer was no. I think the toddler may be old enough to begin learning about giving his toys to those who haven’t as many. This year I’d like to have him pick something new to give to a children’s Christmas gift program and also to agree to pass on some of his own toys. Getting him involved in choosing and wrapping gifts for other family members also makes sure he understands that presents are a two way street and to help him grow his own joy in giving.

How do you and your family approach presents for your kids?

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How to cook soup, a busy parents’ guide

Find a whole cauliflower in the back of the fridge you forgot about. It looks a bit sad but it’s still good, surely.

Leave it on the bench for 6 hours while you keep thinking you’ll get to it “in just a minute”

Break the cauliflower into large florrettes and tip onto an oven tray. Spray with oil and put in the oven while the toddler’s dinosaur nuggets cook.

Ignore for about half an hour and congratulate yourself for remembering to take it out before it burns. The crispy edges are, in fact, exactly what you were after and not a mistake at all. Leave tray on top of the stove while you put the baby to bed.

Chop some onion and/or leek and/or celery and/or whatever you have to hand and throw in a large saucepan with plenty of oil and garlic. Keep the temperature fairly low so you can leave the veggies to sweat and not burn while you put the toddler back to bed.

  1. stir the veggies.
  2. put the toddler back to bed
  3. stir the veggies.
  4. resettle the baby.
  5. stir the veggies.
  6. put the toddler back to bed.
  7. forget the veggies but that’s ok because you had the temperature low.
  8. put the toddler back to bed. and this time you mean it!

Add the roasted cauliflower and any stock you may have (that half a box in the fridge says use within three days but you can’t remember when you used it so best just throw it in now). Top up the liquid with approximately 2 paw patrol drink bottles worth of water.

Remember you were meant to add spices earlier. Add them now! A dash of this and a shake of that. Cumin coriander and tumeric maybe? Don’t have those? Thyme and oregano? None of that either? Forget the spices, it’ll taste good as it is!

Turn the heat up now and let it boil then simmer while you pack up the toys and the dishes. Move the laundry that needs folded to a different area, to be done “later”.

Now your soup looks cooked. It’s certainly hot and it’s time to watch the next episode of your show so let’s say it’s done! Get out your stick blender and whiz it up. Add plenty of salt and don’t worry that it tastes like you tipped in a bit too much tumeric.

Your soup is now done. The kids are asleep. You a wonderful chef and parent combination.

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Trash or Treasure? Too many toys?

Photo by LeMast on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

It’s hard rubbish time around here. If you don’t know how hard rubbish works, let me break it down for you...

  • Your local council warn you it’s coming soon. Your street is allocated a week when you can dump rubbish too big for the bin, leaving it outside your house.
  • You start to notice the rubbish being left in neighbouring streets looks amazing. You become a dangerous driver as you veer slightly off course trying to peer into the piles.
  • Every day you narrowly avoid coming home with an old broken bookcase, a possibly flea infested armchair, a washing machine that just might work. It’s really only the difficulty of lugging it that stops you, the desire to find a hidden gem languishing on the street is unremitting.
  • The smaller items begin to make it into your car and your home. An old tire (this could be an amazing addition to my kids outside play area!), a retro fan (I could sell this once it’s cleaned up!), a rocking horse (who gave away this beauty? It’s in much better condition than the one I gave away a few months ago!)……

But the real golden finds are the toys. Oh the toys that people throw away! I’ve rescued a farmyard, a Buzz Lightyear, assorted balls, the aforementioned rocking horse, and so many more. Why are these things being put out for hard rubbish? You know what happens to the hard rubbish? It’s crushed, destroyed, wasted. It’s meant to be sorted but I’ve watched the trucks crush much of what could be otherwise. Why are people putting perfectly good toys out for this treatment?

Do we have too many toys for our children? What do they learn from seeing their belongings cast aside so thoughtlessly? Or, for that matter, from receiving ‘new’ toys for no reason other than that some well meaning parent saved it from the bin?

While I can hardly resist the lure of the hard rubbish scavenger hunt, it did give me pause when another parent asked me if we shouldn’t be hoping these second hand toys went to those who needed them, not added to the coffers of children with too many toys already.

Giving away a glut of toys may be a step in the right direction for families overloaded with stuff that brings too little joy. But give away, not throw away, seems to be the real goal here. Perhaps parents assume, reasonably, that the toys will be found and rescued when left on the street. But perhaps donating them to charity shop would serve the purpose better.

Then our children can see the life cycle of their toys ending in a gift to those more in need, and not as a cast off that hopes to be found by anyone who passes by.

What have you found in your neighbours’ hard rubbish?

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Messy is Necessary

Photo Credit: Cornybeard / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo Credit: Cornybeard / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

I heard from a parent today that they don’t allow their 11 month old to make a mess when he eats.

Now before you start sniggering, I knew exactly what she meant. If little Goggins throws his food everywhere just to make a point/see the reaction/get out of eating it/see the reaction (oh wait, I said that already) they don’t turn a blind eye. They are trying to teach him some rules. I do the same. 11 months old is an appropriate age to start asking your child to hand you food they don’t want when they’re finished, not throw it against a wall, and it’s perfectly fine to tell an 11 month old” no” if they tip their food on the floor 5 times in a row while screaming at you.

But if there’s also an element of simply not liking the aesthetics of yoghurt in your baby’s eyebrows, and of wanting to keep the shaggy white rug under her highchair as snowy as they day you bought it (the day before you found out you were pregnant no doubt), then I’m afraid it’s time someone told you – babies are messy.

If you want to keep your white rug white, your wooden floors scratch-free, your vintage dresses & designer tea towels & first edition books & original art works and hand blown glasswear pristine, you have two choices:

  1. Keep them in a part of the house your child never goes (and at some point, rest assured, they will still go to that part of the house). 
  2. Don’t have children.

I know it’s tempting to think the third choice is to keep your children under control and clean and calm. And even though you can probably do those things sometimes, hell, most of the time if you’re focused, there’s almost no chance you’ll do it All the time.

Babies make mess.

They are exploring and learning. Often it requires pushing your hands into your porridge and then rubbing into your eyes, sometimes feeding yourself is so hard that only half of it makes it to your mouth and rest falls innocently on the floor, and sometimes it means feeling so frustrated that your limited coping skills induce you to throw half a peach at the wall.

By all means, try to keep eating under control and try to keep your house clean enough to feel comfortable in, but it’s best if you also try not to worry about a bit of mess at meal time. It’s a necessary part of being a baby.

Does your baby make a mess at meal times?
Do you have any handy tips to keep the mess (slightly) under control?

You might also like:

Messy kids who play with their food may be faster leaners: Huffington Post

Top 5 reasons why kids want to get messy with food: One Handed Cooks

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Filed under Babycare Advice, General, Just for Fun