Nov 092014
 
572820bc9a49c56f1bc5ffc1_640_gift

Shopping for teens can be very difficult, especially a girl. They can be pretty picky and particular when it comes to clothes, even though clothes are usually what they want the most! Unless you have a list of links to specific items for the teen girl in your life, ideas for other gifts can be quite a challenge.

With all of this in mind, below you will find a list of gift ideas that the teen girl you are planning to buy for might really like.

Easy Gifts

  1. Jewelry. Most types of jewelry are acceptable and trending items can be easily seen by looking at other teens, asking the jeweler, or just by seeing what your teen already likes and wears. Earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and even fashionable watches are always great choices.
  2. Sleepwear. Some teen girls are not as particular about the clothes they wear at home as those they were out. Pajama pants, silky or fluffy robes, and cute slippers are super choices!
  3. Electronics. Your teen girl might be ready for an upgraded cell phone, computer, tablet, camera, or television. They use all of these items not only to stay in touch with friends and family, but also for homework and entertainment. Take an inventory on her current electronics and see if it is time for an upgrade.
    1. Accessories. Cell phone cases, laptop bags, tablet cases, computer trays, and any other accessory that can be purchased is a perfect idea if you have decided to upgrade her electronics. Getting a new accessory for the new purchase is ideal.
  4. Gift cards. These are always easy to purchase and come in handy for your teen. A gift card for iTunes, if they use Apple products, is an awesome gift. Gift cards for the local mall can normally be used at any store within that mall. Even gift cards for your teen’s favorite stores are usually available and can often be used online as well as at the physical location. Another thought is a salon gift card for your teen to get her hair or nails done. You can never go wrong with a gift card!

Get Creativegift photo

  1. Personalized Items. There is a great website for personalized gifts called CafePress.com. (I have personally ordered many items from there over the years.) You can find T-shirts, mugs, hoodies, hats, and other items that can have photos or sayings on them. Many come all ready to go while others can be personalized with your own words or pictures.
  2. Concert or Event Tickets. Check your local venues for concerts or events that your teen girl might love. If you know her favorite band or musician, see if they will be playing within the next several months. Or, if your teen enjoys sports see if there are tickets for an upcoming game. Even tickets to live shows can be a good idea if your teen enjoys them.
  3. Room Décor. Maybe your teen would like to have her room redecorated. This in itself can be terrific gift! If you cannot afford to do the whole room, get a few items instead such as a cool lamp, a vanity for doing her hair and makeup, a new bedding set, or a comfy chair where she can kick back after school.
  4. Memberships or Subscriptions. Think about purchasing a fan club membership for your teen’s favorite band or a subscription to a popular fashion magazine she enjoys.

With the holidays approaching, it is time for many to begin their shopping. Don’t wait until the last minute – you may be at the mercy of sold-out tickets or shipping delays. Start now with some of these great ideas for the teen girl in your life!

Do you have other great gift ideas you would like to share? Please leave a comment below!

 

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Sep 212014
 

As our children grow, teaching them the basics of the kitchen and meals that they can cook are both essential. They will eventually move out and have to fend for themselves, so sending them out with a few great, inexpensive meal ideas outside of Ramen Noodles or frozen dinners is necessary.

Rather than just showing them how to make something, having them pitch in with dinners is a terrific way for them to get the hang of making the meals as well as helping out the family!

Meals for Teens

Meals for Teens

In our house, we take turns making dinner. That way, no one person is always responsible since everyone works and deserves a break. Here are a few easy dinners that your teen can prepare:

Healthy Chef’s Salad – this is a great meal idea for any family. Not only is it healthy, but easy to create without any cooking or baking. Simply cut up some lettuce, tomato, and onion, if desired. Layer these ingredients in a large bowl with your favorite salad meat (we use both turkey and diced ham) and shredded cheese. Everyone can then take as much as they like, add their own salad dressing, and top with hard-boiled egg, bacon pieces, or croutons. Healthy and filling!

Simple Spaghetti – instead of cooking a sauce from scratch, let your teen know they can make a very easy spaghetti in a few short steps. Brown a pound of ground beef and drain. Poor in any canned or jarred spaghetti sauce. Add mushrooms, diced onions, or diced green pepper if desired and simmer for an hour. Next comes your family’s favorite type of pasta – simply follow the instructions on the packaging. Easy peasy!

Manwich Sandwich – it is a pretty easy main dish to make and some may prefer homemade, but a can of Hunt’s Manwich can always come in handy! Brown a pound of ground beef and drain. Poor in a can of Manwich, simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, and serve on hamburger buns. Done!

Even different packaged meals can be great for your teen to prepare such as Hamburger Helper, Kraft or Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, or Zataran’s.

As much as I would love for my daughter to go to culinary school and practice her creations on the family, that is just not going to happen. So, I try to teach her how to make really simple things, that will not cost her a lot after she moves out, but will provide her with something outside of fast food drive-thru-s.

Do you have any easy meals that your kids help create for dinner? If so, please leave a comment to share with others!

 

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Aug 092014
 

Most people these days have a GPS system in their car; whether it comes with the car as a built-in option or an after-market system that is installed like a Garmin. Either way, many people have become reliant on these systems to point them in the right direction every time they leave the house and drive into unknown territory.

The thing is, these systems cannot always be relied upon. They can malfunction, not be up-to-date, or simply be wrong. I know, I know, I worry too much….NOT. This can happen and if you rely solely on your GPS to get you where you need to go OR get you home, then you’re putting way too much trust into an electronic device.

freeimages.com, krilm, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1035921

freeimages.com, user: krilm, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1035921

That being said, what about your teen drivers? My daughter did not want the GPS when my boyfriend first bought it for her. It was as if she almost felt offended by it. However, it has grown on her so much that now it is her main navigational source affectionately named Michelle.

I have explained to her exactly what I said above – things can happen and if Michelle suddenly cannot help, then what? So, before my teen gets into the car to drive to a place out of town that she has never been, I take a few steps ahead of time to make sure she is prepared AND ease my worry.

  1. Look up the location ahead of time and map it out. Once you obtain directions to the place your teen is driving to, use either Google Maps or even an old fashioned paper map to show them where to go. Simple things like which direction they need to take, how long they can expect to be on a certain highway, what landmarks they may pass are all things that will help them get a general sense of the direction they should be headed and what to look for on their route.
    1.  Try to point out places they are familiar with if possible, for example, “you know the road we take to Grandma’s house? Take that road until you get to the IHOP and then turn right”.
  1. Print off the directions or write them down. This is especially helpful if they have a passenger to assist or if they have to pull over for fear of being lost. Their passenger can follow along and make sure that the GPS is pointing them to the right place. If they are alone and pull over in a safe location to review the directions on paper, they can get a better sense of where they need to be going by looking at a map or set of instructions compared to what they see around them.
    1. I use this often myself just to find out which lane I will need to be in, which way I will be turning, or how long I can expect to be on a specific road.
  1. Make sure their cell phone is fully charged and that they have a car charger. If a situation arises where your teen is really lost, the GPS has failed, or they are just feeling a little panicked it is always best that they have a way to call home for help. Cell phone batteries die a lot quicker when out and about than they do at home. Invest in a car charger if their car is not equipped with one so that they can always call home if needed.

A driving teen can be one of the biggest worries to a parent. When you add to that their venturing to places they have never driven, it is up to you to make sure they have the tools they need to get there safely. Preparation for a trip is something most adults do, so my advice is to teach your teens the same thing. You will both feel better when they arrive incident-free, you will build trust that they can do it themselves, and you will teach them that preparing ahead of time can save a lot of time, worry, and aggravation later.

 

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Oct 192013
 

My daughter is 16, she is a junior in high school, and is trying to decide what to do with her life. What a daunting task! I know just from my own life that you can change your mind as time goes on. What I wanted at 16 is not what I wanted at 26, or even 36. Trying to decide at that age what career is right for you is just really, really tough. I feel for her.

Books

Colleges are being discussed, college fairs are being held, and my daughter has learned a little bit. She was contemplating two different careers; a veterinarian or a psychologist. Well, now knowing that each will require additional school on top of college has deterred her from both careers. I guess medical school just is not something she is interested in undertaking.

So, what now? Well, she is going to think about what she likes to do, what interests her, and what she is good at. After that, we will search for careers and see what fits. There are so many jobs in so many fields that there are probably careers out there that she (or I for that matter) do not even know exist.

After she chooses a job or at least a field of study, then we can begin looking at colleges. Searching for programs and scholarships is another large task that we have ahead of us. It is an exciting time for her…it is all really just starting. I hope that she can pick something that she will enjoy and excel in throughout her life.

Do you remember being that age and deciding what you wanted to do with your life? Are you doing it now or did you change your mind?

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Aug 252013
 

Many parents provide their children with allowances or make them earn their money by doing chores. This is a great way to teach them about earning money and even spending money on things that they really want. But, do you teach your kids the value of a dollar? Do they know how much is too much to pay for something? Do they know how to shop, bargain shop, or know whether or not the item they want is worth the money?

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, knox_x, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1428300

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, knox_x, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1428300

This is something that they really do need to know, especially as they grown into an age where they are buying their own things or ready to leave the house.

Here are 5 tips for teaching your kids all of the above:

  1. Spend time with them at the store on pricing items. When you take your kids shopping, talk about prices for the items which you are buying. When you look at a food item, for example, let them know whether or not the price is too high or just right for the product. Explain to them why the price they see may be too high, a great bargain, or just right.
  2. Explain why the money they have earned should be saved and not spent. A tendency for our kids is to buy something right away with the money they have earned from allowances or jobs. But, they also need to know that saving up for something better or for a rainy day is also important.
  3. Lead by example. If you are a big spender or are buying big ticket items every chance you get, your kids will think that is how life is lived. It is great to have nice things – we all way that – but leading our kids to believe that they can just buy, buy, buy will not let them know that bills and obligations need to be paid first. Not everyone can afford to buy everything they see.
  4. Remember the basics and teach them. We all know that when we buy products at the store that tax is added and when we buy online that shipping and sometimes tax is added there as well. Make sure your kids know this and can figure it in when making purchases. Tell them to add on a little each time they choose to buy something at the store for tax and show them when buying online how much that shipping can really be!
  5. Discuss ways to save money on items and shop frugally. This is especially important as your kids are getting ready to leave the nest. Show them the ads you receive in the mail, coupons they can obtain, and discount store prices compared to other stores. Grocery store and home products can be purchased at cheaper stores. Dollar stores and discount grocers can be their best buddies once they move out. Make sure they know where to shop, what is worth the trip, and why!

We as parents and guardians are responsible for teaching our children how to survive out there! Financial aspects of life are no different and responsibility with money is a huge lesson for them. The actual value of a dollar, knowing what is priced well and what is not, how to read the fine print, and not let them overspend is also a part of our jobs. Also, teaching them to be very careful when shopping or buying online is essential these days.

Do you have any tips of your own? Leave us a comment below.

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Jul 212013
 

Whether for business or pleasure, you may find yourself in a situation where you will be gone overnight. You feel that your teen may be ready to stay alone overnight, rather than going to a friend or family member’s home. But, how do you know for sure if they are ready? Is there a certain age that your teen must be in your mind? What do you consider when making the decision to leave them alone?

Let’s take a look at factors that you should consider and questions that you should ask yourself.

  1. Mature.  Is your teen as mature as they should be for their age or are do their actions remind you more of a child? Do their thoughts about situations sound right for their age or do they make you think they have a lot more growing up to do? Your teen should display an appropriate amount of maturity for their age before considering a night alone.
  2. Responsible. Does your teen do the right thing when it comes to safety, choices, and tasks? Can you rely on them to do the right thing in a situation?  Can you rely on your teen to do what is asked and do it correctly? If a situation were to arise where they had to make a decision, you want to feel confident that they will make the right one.
  3. Trustworthy. Trust is a key element to consider. When you leave them alone during the day, do you feel comfortable? Can you trust your teen when they are away from your home – at school, friend’s house, shopping mall, or with the car? How much do you trust your teen to be okay alone for the night? If you think they may throw a party while you are away, then maybe it is not the right time.
  4. History. Does your teen have a history of getting into trouble? Have you had issues leaving them alone during the day? Have you had problems with them that include drugs or alcohol? Have they been in trouble in school or even with the law? Your teen’s history should also come into play and should help you decide whether or not you feel comfortable leaving them alone.

HouseI think as you read this you can agree that age is not as important as the four items listed here. A 15-year old can be more responsible and trustworthy than a 17-year old. A 16-year old can be more mature and have a better history than an 18-year old…and so on. So, take age out of the equation and consider the above traits instead.

When you leave for an overnight trip, you must feel comfortable to leave your teen alone for the night. You need to trust that they will make the right choices, take care of what needs to be taken care of while you are away, and not worry the entire time you are gone that something bad will happen.

If you cannot answer positively to the questions answered above, then it is probably not the right time to leave your teen alone overnight. Wait a while – let them grow and mature, correct their mistakes, prove to you that they can be trusted. If you are unsure, then it is probably too soon.

What are your thoughts? Have you already been through this with your teen and can share some wisdom? Or, are you a parent contemplating this decision right now? Comment below to share your story!

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Jul 132013
 

As lives get busy and children grow up, it can be hard to find the quality time to spend with our children.  Jobs, school, sports practices, recitals, friends…all take up our time.  One thing that I would suggest, especially as our kids turn to teens, is a “date night”.

It does not have to be every week and could even just be once a month, but setting aside one night, few hours, or whatever works for you is a great idea.  Be sure that you plan that time together so that you choose something that both enjoy.

Abby and Sandy Summer 2013

Abby and Sandy Summer 2013

My daughter and I love Mexican cuisine.  So, for our date night we go out to dinner to our favorite Mexican restaurant.  We really take our time and enjoy the dinner.  It has become such a “thing” for us that my daughter does not like anyone else to ever go to that restaurant with us!

Other suggestions for your time together could include a movie, shopping, mini golf, picnic, archade, spa day, or even the beach.

We receive a community paper that lists local classes being offered.  I thought it would be really fun for me and my daughter to take a class together.  Whether it is artistic like pottery or painting or something valuable like self-defense, this is also a great idea.  My daughter has not warmed to this option yet, unfortunately, but I am still trying!

The point is that if you plan a regular date night with your teen then you can both look forward to that special time together, however often it may be.  It is time for just the two of you to reconnect and I know that it really works for my daughter and I.  It is one of those times we use to talk about serious things, girl things, or just laugh with each other.

Do you do something like this with your son or daughter?  Please share your comments and suggestions!

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Apr 202013
 

Turning 16 brings along thoughts of wanting a job and a driver’s license for our teens.  This is where my daughter is right now.  These are brand new, huge, responsible points in my teen’s life.  They bring about so much thought of independence and teaching from us that I wrote articles on each one separately:

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, 04evil, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/204375

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, 04evil, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/204375

I feel a little overwhelmed with all of this at the moment, but my daughter does not seem fazed at all.  I guess I have to take a page from her book for a change!  She seems to take everything in stride, but then again that might be because these are exciting moments for her while they are terrifying moments for me.  At the same time I have to learn from what I know, as a former teenager and now as a mother.  These are just additional moments that a parent must face at some point.  The moments grow harder as our children grow older.  That is because with each memorable moment, especially when they are teens, seems to be another time to let go…just a little more each time.

Allowing our children to grown up into adults is difficult for most of us.  Letting go is even worse.  The older they get, the more responsibility they can handle, the more they venture out into the world without us is all a sign of the day to come where they leave the nest and begin their own life…without us.

Ahhh…growing up.  It seems whether it is with our children or for some of us with ourselves, we just do not want it to happen.

Unfortunately, growing up will always happen, no matter who it is.  So, the best that we can do is nurture it.  We need to help our children grow because they will all always leave the nest eventually.  So, preparing them the best we can is the best thing that we can do.  Like it or not.

I have learned that my daughter needs me to help teach her to grow up – to be an adult.  It IS my job to teach her about what will happen with her first job.  It IS my job to teach her to drive and be responsible behind the wheel.  It IS my job to teach her to be the most responsible adult that she can be.  I am her mother and all of this IS my job.

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Mar 302013
 

For my almost 16 years of being a mother I have tried to find a way to deal with the milestone birthdays of my daughter.  The most important ones so far have been her 5th birthday because she was starting school and her 13th birthday because she hit the teen years.  We are now getting ready next week to celebrate her Sweet 16.  These can be very difficult times for some parents.

We are seeing our children growing up, we are yearning for the previous years when they were “little”, we are counting down the days we have left with them before they leave for college, we are also being reminded of how old WE are becoming.  Oh yes, when our children have those milestone birthdays, it can cause a flood of thoughts and emotions.

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, ba1969, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1200968

Image by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, ba1969, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1200968

So as parents how do we deal with these big birthdays?

Personally, I believe we need to be sure that we make these dates as special for our children as we can.  Although every birthday should be special; those birthdays that come with the tag of being a milestone – a more meaningful birthday in the scheme of life – should be celebrated as such.  And we, as parents, need to remember these birthdays are not and should not be reflections of our own lives.

We have our own birthdays to remind us of how old we are becoming (ew!).  We should not use our children’s birthdays to remind us of that as well.

So whether our kids are turning 5, 13, 16 or 21 – we need to celebrate that and celebrate them!  These are huge moments in their lives.  These are moments that our children WILL remember.  Do something special, buy them something special, spend that day with them doing something special.  Whatever you choose, whatever you are able to do, make that day so very special – for them.

Try to think about how wonderful they are, how much they have accomplished, how good they have been raised, and what special people they are becoming.  And if you need to cry a little bit later, then go ahead – after they have had their special day and gone to bed. :-)

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Mar 182013
 

I try hard, although it is difficult, to remember that times have changed.  Things that were uncommon when I was a teenager are common for today’s teen.  Piercings is a perfect example of this.  I am not sure if it was the small town I lived in or the time I was a teen, but when I was that age it was unusual to see anyone with anything other than ear piercings on the average teen.  If I did see it, it was in a movie and the teens were usually in their later teens.

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, cinezi, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/615011

Photo by: sxc.hu, stock.xchng, cinezi, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/615011

Nowadays, piercings seem to be much more common:  ear piercings that go all the way around the edge of the ear, face piercings on the nose, lip, and eyebrow, and then of course the body piercings on the navel and other not-to-be-named spots.  This all seems to be the norm now.

I allowed my daughter to have her ears pierced (one hole in each lobe) at the age of ten.  Now that she is close to 16 she is bringing up having her nose and navel pierced along with more holes in her ears.  As much as I am against certain piercings at her age, I also have to remind myself that times have changed.

So, what is the answer to “Mom, can I have my ______ pierced?”  Does it depend on the age?  Does it depend on the part of the body?  Or, is there simply an all-encompassing rule in the home?  I am quite sure that every parent has a different view.

There is a lot to consider health-wise when it comes to piercings as well.  Infection, allergic reactions, and damage to nerves are just a few items to keep in mind.  The Center for Young Women’s Health has some great information on this topic.

According to Statistic Brain as of May 2012, 14% of Americans have a body piercing other than their ear lobe and 72% of the pierced population is women.  Those numbers are not staggering, but interesting.  I actually thought that the 14% would be much higher.  So, I guess the argument of “but Mom, everyone is doing it” will not work!  Another statistic they note is that 31% of piercings had complications.  I actually thought that this number would be lower.

I personally have had my ears pierced since the age of four.  I got one other hole pierced when I was 12 and then a third and one on the other side in my early 20’s – all on the lobes.  At this point, I do not have a problem with my daughter getting more holes pierced in her ears.  However, I cannot bring myself to allow piercings anywhere else on her body.  Call me old-fashioned, but this is my ruling and she knows it.

So again, what do you consider as a parent when/if this question comes up?  Do you think about the health risks?  Again, does age make a difference in your decision?   Does the location of the piercing or what others might think when they see your teen play into it?

We would love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment with your thoughts.

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