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What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

My college freshman daughter came home for Thanksgiving and it. was. glorious. Some friends who still have all of their chicks under one roof commented that Thanksgiving break came up pretty quickly considering it was only three months since I said good-bye. Only. I just again read my piece about sending her off in August—contemplating whether or not my “sweet spot of motherhood” was behind me—and it feels like it has been three lifetimes.

My “sweet spot” did indeed expand as I had hoped to encompass long distance parenting from Maryland to Miami. My daughter has communicated with us with a regularity beyond my wildest hopes via texting, Face Timing, calling, and Snapchatting. She is generous about sharing her new life, and has continued to seek my advice. I haven’t been kicked to the proverbial curb. For my part, I have become the master of high quality care packages.

Halloween Care Package | Use a cheap seasonal blanket from Walmart to line the box. | College | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

She is still in my life, it’s just in a different way. In a way that is the epitome of life moving forward. In fact, life continued to march forward for all of us. As soon as we dropped her off, field hockey was in full swing for my sophomore daughter. And then I shoveled out her room. And then we got a dog. There really was no time for weeping or hand-wringing . . . or at least I didn’t leave myself time for that.

In general, I’ve handled marching forward pretty well. That’s why I was taken aback by the wave of emotion that hit me during the week she was home for Thanksgiving.

I missed her most while she was here!

I mean I have missed her since the moment she left, but I had gotten use to her not being around. And by “used to” I mean I just didn’t think about it that much. I really just couldn’t. Besides, she is happily hitting her stride, and we had a lovely visit over Family Weekend. How could I complain about a natural order that was going this well?

But, I have felt a bit off-centered and blah. Not exactly mopey, just unsettled. Beating her room into order and adopting myself some unconditional canine love helped, but I hadn’t really worked through it all. There’s not a lot of space to discuss ambiguous feelings. People can maybe handle hearing that you are sad, but they really just want you to say “I’m fine.” My kid was busy being everything I hoped she would be, so what right did I have to be sad anyway? And really, when people ask you how things are going with college, they want to hear about your kid and then get back to picking through the pumpkins at the farm stand.

What Surprised Me When My College Kid Came Home for Thanksgiving | I was not prepared for how I felt when my college kid came home for Thanksgiving. Her visit illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

While I had adjusted to her being gone like a swell little soldier—my life is pretty good after all—her being here for a week illuminated with LED intensity all that had been missing. It took the return of her vim and vigor for me to realize the full impact of its absence.

I felt unmoored because I missed the dynamic of her just being in our space: her wit, her clutter, her willingness to pitch in, as well as her exasperating insistence that we embark on a ten minute hunt for another tube of toothpaste because brushing her teeth in the shower “saved” time and her sister was currently using the only other tube. While I love her snip-its of news and Snapchats, I missed what her presence brings to our family unit under this roof: completeness. Her whole senior year through college move-in day was such a seismic shift, but when the earthquake was over, I just plowed ahead instead of assessing the aftermath.

When spellcheck bleated just now that “unmoored” was not a word, I looked it up to find descriptive perfection: to bring to the state of riding with a single anchor after being moored by two or more. Eureka! This is it! After spending sixteen years with the tug and grounding of two kids with their schedules, activities and needs, I was suddenly lighter with only one at home. But instead of feeling free, I only had the uncomfortable sensation of buffeting in the breeze. In related news I may be prone to mini-panics that my youngest will be going to college in three short years.

More than once during the week I had to snap myself back into the moment instead of anticipating the empty space yawning wide again once she left. It really wasn’t hard because we had such a great time, but you know what? It hasn’t been that bad she she went back. I feel better now that my brain realizes the void my heart was flapping around. I still miss her, but I feel more grounded knowing that our family “completeness” isn’t gone; it’s just something I have to look forward to now when she returns. And boy, do I have a detailed answer for the next person who asks me how I am doing.

-Ellen 

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Ask This One Question to Make Family Weekend a Success

Fall is in the air! In the past that just meant trips to the corn maze, hot apple cider, and pumpkin spice everything. And while it’s still all about these niceties, if you’re the parents of a college freshman, it now means you get to see your baby during Family Weekend!

Family Weekend is the lifeline many of us hang onto after we drop our kids off at the dorms, especially if they are our oldest, and ESPECIALLY if they are far away. “Just two weeks, seven days, and fifteen hours until I get to see/hug/smooch my girl!” I would market the heck out of a countdown clock if I didn’t think the added hype would break some poor momma’s heart even more.

What am I talking about? Hear that faint noise whistling below the rustle of leaves and the honking of geese? Like air leaking out of a balloon? Well, if you’re within earshot of said parents of a brand spanking new freshman, that’s the sound of high expectations for Family Weekend deflating. Or maybe it’s coming from you as you stand in the middle of that pricey campus with nothing to do and no idea where your offspring even is.

See, not all Family Weekends are created equal. Some are extensively orchestrated affairs that would make cruise directors weep with pride. Others are steeped in vague suggestions like “check out the soccer game, have lunch in the dining hall, then enjoy the city.” Neither one guarantees a great weekend. While it sounds good to have a full dance card, it could dupe you into touring the third floor of the research library instead of hanging with your kid on her break between classes. But on the other hand, “enjoy the city” translates roughly into “better spend tons of time on the internet finding something to do besides eating cafeteria tator tots.”

But by asking your student one question, you can transcend events, schedules, and the particularities of their college to ensure that everyone gets a needed boost from the visit. For you: time with your child you have been missing so much. For your kid: moments of unconditional love where they can bask and relax.

There's so much anticipation surrounding visiting your freshman in college that the weekend can actually flop. Ask this one question to make family weekend a success. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Are you ready for the magic words? Drum roll please . . .

When and how can you spend time with us during this weekend?

Simple, right? It’s so simple, it’s often overlooked. Here is why this question is the key to everything.

  1. Your kid has a whole new life. While there continues to be space in your home life for them, their college life has been created without you. There is no place for you to pick up where you left off. The time and space for your visit has to be crafted.
  2. Your kid probably doesn’t know the event schedule. More often than not, YOU’VE been getting the Family Weekend emails, not them. They are just trying to navigate their classes, and maybe a social event or twenty.
  3. Family Weekend is not a national holiday. While you have these dates blocked off in Sharpie on your calendar, your kids’ professors and bosses do not. Class deadlines and work schedules do not break for this weekend.
  4. Your child is hosting you, but they may not realize it. Just like you had to teach your little darling to say please and thank you, you need to teach him how to manage visitors. More than likely, they are use to following your plans, and it’s really not self-explanatory how to take over the reins.

So how do you teach them to host you? Most importantly, start a couple of weeks in advance, or at least allow time for more than one discussion. Don’t put them on the spot. No perfect weekend ever came out of that. Just like everything in parenting, take baby steps.

  1. Forget the word “perfect” and adjust your mindset. I’ve throw it around a couple of times here, but now it’s time to throw that expectation out. Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel better? Also, throw out the notion of spending every minute together (or that you have to attend the scheduled events). It bears repeating that you have to honor their schedules, commitments, and new life. And while we’re tossing things to the curb, also school yourself to not assume anything. Your mantra should be “Clarify Everything.” Ohmmmm.
  2. Ask your kid if she has seen the schedule for Family Weekend. She probably has not. Offer to forward it to her so you can decide together how to make it work.
  3. Follow-up that email. Text your kid and ask him to call you when he can talk about Family Weekend. This conversation is when you ask, “When and how can you spend time with us during this weekend?” Do not expect finalized plans. This is why you started this ball rolling early.
  4. Follow-up until you have a plan. Ask for realism, honesty, and consideration in your discussions. Always remember that this is a learning experience for you all. Ask your kid if they want to stay with you in the hotel or in the dorms. They may want a break from the bunk beds or they may want to go back to the action. Decide if you want to take any of their friends out for a meal and be very clear about what time is purely family time. Also, ask if you can see their dorm room if that is on your list of “must dos;” don’t just assume entry without warning. It seriously may not cross their minds that you would want to see it again and you WANT to give them time to clean up. You need to respect that it is also their roommate’s space.
  5. The best plans are flexible. All of that planning is the key to success, but don’t be a slave to it. There are no gold stars to be had, only good memories. Scheduled events aren’t really fun? Scrap them. You just saw a banner for an apple festival and you all are dying for some pie? Make time for it.

I present this advice to you because it worked for my family. We made our first night in town strictly for family, then took a group of her friends out to brunch and shoe shopping (which turned out to be my favorite). On Saturday we didn’t even see her because it was her first big rivalry football game and she wanted to be a part of all of the festivities, including sitting in the student section. We went to the game (I LOVE college football), but watched from the parents’ section.

There's so much anticipation surrounding visiting your freshman in college that the weekend can actually flop. Ask this one question to make family weekend a success. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

She slept in her dorm, but hung out with us at our hotel on Sunday enjoying the food and the privacy of the luxurious bathroom (“I don’t have to wear shower shoes!”). We visited her dorm room during the middle of the day when her roommate was out.

While it was not a perfect weekend, everyone’s expectations were perfectly met because we assumed nothing, respected our daughter’s new life, and discussed how we were going to fit into it. I still can’t wipe the smile off of my face.

What was your experience with Family Weekend?

-Ellen 

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

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How to Cope When Your Kid Goes to College

When your kids go to college, it leaves a hole in your heart, in your home, in your everyday. Yes, they are not gone forever, and this is the natural progression of life, buuuuttttt, there is an undeniable void left behind. Or at least there are less shoes to trip over by the door. You can fill this space with a new job, more volunteering, a trip to the shoe store, or maybe even with another heartbeat. Relax! We’re not suggesting a visit from the stork, but a visit to your local animal shelter just might be the ticket. Apparently when your kid goes to college, it’s not uncommon to add to your furry brood. Our story is more than a tale of two pound puppies, it’s about the lengths two moms will go to cope with their kids flying the coop to college.

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Erin’s Story: Our dog adventure began as a parenting cautionary tale. My kids were jonesing hard for a dog long before my oldest began filling out college applications, but my youngest son, in the way of wiley family bookends, set the putsch in motion. He asked if he won the Citizenship Award at school if we could get a dog. Now, the first thing you need to know is that my youngest, while sweet, dear, and loved, is not always model student material. The second thing is that I’m not the girl you want to take to Vegas with you, because I thought we were a couple of frozen layers of hell away from my son getting this particular honor. So I took the parenting sucker bet and said, “Absolutely.” Well, ole sonny boy straightened up real good, real quick; so much so his halo was veritably shining.

Within the month, he pinned his bright new award to his shirt and marched home victoriously to show us. It turned out to be just what we needed right when we needed it most. His award came when we were in the middle of a deep familial funk over missing our biggest brother. In lieu of some plans to steal big brother back from college, we all cuddled up to the idea of a new four-legged family member. How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms We had a couple of roadblocks ahead of us though. One was the insane adoption process (Ellen will explain about it more below. I can’t even. Really. It  almost broke me.) The other was our crazy spring schedule that would end in a big international family trip to my brother’s wedding. As much as we wanted a dog five minutes ago, we decided to postpone the arrival of our new fur-baby until post-Cancun.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the rescue to meet our perfect, made-just-for-us pup (so perfect he was even named Luke Skywalker!), we were heartbroken to discover that he had been adopted by someone else. Lucky for us, Ellie decided that we were hers and she adopted us on the spot. Bigger than we wanted, younger than we wanted, and a little (read: way more, like a crazy lot more) high energy than we wanted, she also turned out to be just what we needed. And even despite the fact she just ate the baseball glove my husband has had for 33 years, we would adopt her again.

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

And now there’s just one more face that’s happy to see you when you are home for Fall Break!

Ellen’s Story: It began as a joke between my youngest daughter and I as the oldest of my two was rapidly approaching her high school graduation. Maybe it was because Erin was talking about getting a dog, maybe it was because we could sense the impending sucking void in our household that would yawn wide when Coco blasted off to college, but we started saying, “We need a dog, a replacement Coco, a Re-Coco, if you will.” Well, jokes became discussions, discussions became research, and research set off plans. Well, for my youngest and me that is. Coco just shook her head at us, her attention focused on the distant shores of the University of Miami. And my husband? His battle cry became, “But we have a cat!”

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Why? WHY!?

And we do have a cat. An adorable, beautiful, fluffy princess named Pebbles that is just, well, a cat. She gives some love in the morning, but that about taps her out for the rest of the 24 hour cycle. Sparkle, the cat we had before her—that my kids grew up with and thought was the norm—was really more of a dog. She would greet us as we came home by jumping up at the door then flopping on her back, follow us from room to room, and settle down to sleep with my youngest every night, nocturnal rhythms be damned.

See? We had already lost a measure of love three years ago with the passing of Sparkle, we were not willing to have Coco exit the scene without topping off our furry love mug. Plans did not turn into action though until my husband and I went down to the University of Miami family weekend. Seeing Coco in her element and being away from the bustle and grind of daily life brought about the magic words I was waiting to hear from my him, “Coco has this, you all need a dog.” That was all it took. We got back from Miami and I started searching rescues and shelters like it was my job . . . if my job lasted ten hours per day.

Prior to our trip, I had been scouring Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet sending in one application at a time when I found a dog bio that met our criteria: around twenty-five pounds (Corgi mixes were high on our list), good with kids and cats, and willing to dole out the love. I did this for the month and a half after dropping Coco off at school, either never hearing from the organizations or being told the animal had already been adopted. I was starting to think that catfishing was a given in the adoption game: “Oh you’re inquiring about that adorable little Corgi with the lopsided grin?” He was adopted 5 minutes ago, but could I interest you in a 100 pound mastiff that chews on felines for fun?” We were dragging on a Tinder merry-go-round of find the perfect pet, swipe right, craft application essays, have heart broken, repeat. Coco applied to college in less time than it took me to fill out some of these applications (“what is my doggie parenting philosophy??”), but I dropped everything else and focused on following links and scouring Facebook to find new rescues so I could get applications in as soon as I found suitable dogs.

Then at the end the week, I stumbled upon First State Animal Center and SPCA, a more traditional shelter, and they had just updated their new rescues on Facebook. I saw Pumpkin and was in the car within 5 minutes to see her. Well, Pumpkin was indeed there, but she bared her teeth, growled at me, then cowered in the corner shivering. It was less than a match made in heaven. But there was this one dog, one that never even barked when the rest of the kennel run was rioting. I took her to the meet and greet room without even reading her description, where she jumped up on the bench, lay her head in my lap, and the rest was history. Meet Roxie. The sweetest dog with the worst bio in the shelter: noisy, not good with kids, returned twice, 5 years old, and previously heartworm positive. None of those negative personality attributes on her profile were accurate. At all. The vet even said she looked more like she was 3 than 5. In the end, the words didn’t matter, only the love. Before her, I didn’t even know a pug and beagle mix was a thing, but now I know why puggle rhymes with snuggle. How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms And guess what? She’s not stingy with her love! Within minutes of Coco coming home for fall break, she was cuddling with her! How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms And I’ll let you in on a little secret. The dog didn’t replace Coco, it’s there to cushion the blow when my youngest leaves the nest. It’s good to have plans.

How to cope when your kid goes to college. It's more than a tale of two pound puppies; it's the lengths moms will go to deal with kids flying the coop. | Parenting | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

So if sending a kid to a university is in your near future, take note of our “How to Cope When Your Kid Goes to College” plan. It’s cheaper than therapy, healthier than chocolate, and infinitely cuter and snugglier. But you better start applying now.

-Erin and Ellen

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

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Empty Nest? I Wish!

Kid off to college leaving you with an empty nest? I WISH!! Seems not cleaning my kids' rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. Here's how to deal with it. | Parenting Advice| Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Empty nest? EMPTY NEST?! Bwahahahaha! I wish. My girl may have launched 1150 miles away to college, but she left her nest anything but empty. I think more fitting words would be disarranged, disorganized, and disgusting. In truth it looked like a mob boss had tossed the room for the secret stashes of cash before fleeing the country.

To her credit, she washed, cleaned, organized, and packed all of her things for college. She managed to do such a good job that she was able to get it all in her allotted suitcases coming in under the airline weight restrictions. But once we returned home from drop-off and the brain bash of leaving my first baby at college drained away, the full disaster of her room walloped me. First it stabbed me in the heart because it looked like she should be arising from the rubble to greet me every morning. Seriously, her bed not only looked like she was still in it, but I swear if you stared at the heap long enough, it looked like it was breathing. My girl used A LOT of blankets since her father keeps the thermostat just north of “meat locker.”

It was with a healthy dose of trepidation that I sidled into the room and threw off the comforter. Hey, she once had a bat doing a jig at the end of her bed so a family of possums setting up camp under there was not beyond the realm of possibilities.

“Whoosh” went the covers and “ewwww” went the very core of my psyche. Had she even changed her sheets in the past three months, wait . . . THREE YEARS? It really could have been longer because I think I stopped cleaning my kids rooms and ceased being the sole laundress when she reached middle school. Silver lining: I still didn’t have to wash the sheets because they went directly into the trash.

But gah! Even though I wasn’t cleaning my daughters’ rooms, they were expected to clean them. But now that I think about it, I never inspected them. I would inspect the bathrooms they decontaminated weekly because I swear about every two months the blow dryer would just whisk the procedure for scrubbing a toilet clean out of their heads. And there was that one time our mismatched sock basket overflowed to Vesuvius levels because apparently it was easier to assume EVERY sock in our dryer was flying solo than it was to match and fold them. But their rooms? If they bothered me too much, I just closed the doors.

I truly thought she had cleaned her room though. I know I had seen it tidy at least once during the Obama administration, but once the stripped bed floated like an oasis in the middle of the room, it became clear that instead of following the “touch-it-once” rule, she was employing the “why-throw-something-away-when-you-can-shove-it-under-your-bed-in-your-closet-in-a-drawer-or-behind-the-trash-can” rule. “Just-leave-it-in-the-middle-of-the-ever-loving-floor” rule was her fail safe for when doing the bare minimum to qualify for lazy was just too taxing.

What started as “I’m just going to just pick up those pencils and put them in the caddy,” turned into a full-on excavation. Oh the treasures I found.

There was the solitary volleyball knee pad that was so old, the spandex crumbled when I picked it up. At least there was a deteriorating lollipop stuck to it gluing part of it together.

Then I found a little straw dress-up purse that contained such treasures as an expired coupon for toilet bowl cleaner and yet another decaying lollipop. (I’m starting to think her superior dental health was because she liked to hoard candy rather than eat it. Why we didn’t trade dental bills for exterminator fees, I’ll never know.)

Also amongst the rubble was a princess jump rope (permanently tangled), a junior scientist kit (never opened), and one hundred plus eleven lip balms (half of which where plastered to—you guessed it—lollipops).

I’m going to save you any more particulars, but suffice it to say, I filled up three garbage bags with stuff I didn’t even have to think twice about throwing away. Okay, I did pause over the one little purple fuzzy slipper because WHAT IF THE OTHER ONE TURNED UP?? They were pretty stinkin’ adorable.

Seems not cleaning my kids’ rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. This became abundantly clear when I started stumbling over emotional landmines like her “All About Me” kindergarten profile, the stuffed cat she use to snuggle with, and her stack of Webkinz adoption certificates. Those trips down memory lane would have been so much better with her rather than by myself three weeks into her departure when the ache of not seeing her was starting to set in. Silver lining: I had the cover of dirt dervishes to explain my reddened eyes and snuffly nose.

I really meant for the Big Clean to happen over the summer with her fully in charge; but when faced with grief or change I tend to “panic travel.” It’s like a driving force that overtakes me, compelling me to move forward and make new memories rather than dwell with the ghosts of the past, no matter how cute they are.

Besides, I hate to clean, too. Going to Philly was soooo much more fulfilling than battling dust bunnies.

Kid off to college leaving you with an empty nest? I WISH!! Seems not cleaning my kids' rooms was an initiative that should have had an exit strategy. Here's how to deal with it. | Parenting Advice| Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Oh, but snooker me once . . . you’re obviously the oldest child. Second child: don’t even think about it. You’ll have to blaze your own trail to elude me because this pathway has been scorched.

My 10th grader is shoveling out her room even as we speak . . . under protest of course. “My sister made it all the way out of the house before having to do this and now YOU’RE cleaning her room.”

True, but I did leave this wall of memorabilia for her to deal with. I’m COMPLETELY positive I won’t be the one taking it down weeks after her wedding day. I just wasn’t ready to turn her nest into the perfect guest room quite yet. She needs somewhere familiar to land when she comes homes to roost every once in a while.

Got clutter? Get clean and organized with a Memorabilia Jar. Easy DIY project. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

I’ll leave you with a pro tip since we are after all the Sensible Moms. My girl has a TON of knick-knacks as you can see. I consolidated a bit of the tedious mess by putting the smallest treasures in a two gallon glass container creating a Memorabilia Jar. It truly cut down the clutter more than it may seem. The biggest trick to it is to put some boxy types items in the center so that everything gets displayed around the perimeter.

Got clutter? Get clean and organized with a Memorabilia Jar. Easy DIY project. | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

-Ellen 

[Speaking of memory lane, I found the post I wrote when we redecorated my daughter’s room five years ago. I actually wrote about how I would be happy for the massive clean out I was doing then because it would save me from doing it when she went away to college. I don’t know whether to be grateful for the realization that THIS cleaning could have been worse or to tip over laughing at my delusion that a whole new mountain of stuff wouldn’t accumulate in five years time. (Obviously things slithered through that first wave of cleaning like her kindergarten profile because, well, we’re awesome.) You can be the judge after reading it here.]

 

Hey! Want to buy our new book? I Just Want to Be Perfect brings together 37 hilarious and relatable essays that showcase the foibles of ordinary women trying to be perfect.

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Advice for My Daughter as She Graduates

by Ellen Williams

Dear Daughter Who is About to Blow This Popsicle Stand,

I can hear you now, “What? Where do you find a Popsicle stand? I’d rather go for ice cream.” And that right there is why I’m writing my advice in a letter instead of sitting you down for a heart-to-heart: no interruptions, no tangents.

But while you’ve got me on this tangent, for the love of search engines, can you promise me when you don’t know something you’ll Google it? Say for instance, things like idioms and colloquial turns of phrase. You’re post-Millennial for goodness sake. They’re proposing calling your generation Digital Natives, and yet, I always have to remind you to stop shrugging when you don’t know something and pull that super computer of a phone out of your pocket to look it up. When I was your age, it wasn’t that easy. We had to go to shelves containing these books of knowledge known as encyclopedias arranged compulsively in alphabetical order . . .

Okay, sorry about that, but it’s just hitting me hard that I’m not going to be there when you have questions about the little things in life. Sure you can text me, but we’ve already established you may have a tendency to “oh well,” a situation when you don’t have the answer.

You’re about to leave the nest for college and embark on life on your own. Well, more accurately “life on your own” heavily encased in air quotes since dad and I are footing a majority of the bill. Until you’ve chosen between paying the rent and buying name brand cereal for dinner, you haven’t quite sipped from the pool of adulthood.

ANYWAY, my point is I won’t be around to interject my everyday-years-of-experience-old-person knowledge into your life on demand; like that time I stopped you from cleaning the outside of the toaster with nail polish remover. Seriously, acetone and plastic do not mix.

To head these catastrophes off at the pass, I’m going to list as much as I can think of here. In no particular order, here is my “Advice to Make You Look Like More of a Genius Than an A in Calculus.” What? That title may need some work,  but it’s accurate. Calculus may be impressive, but knowing how to clean a toilet is forever.

ANYWAY . . .

A practical love letter filled with advice for a graduating high school senior. Childhood is fleeting, but a mother's love and wisdom are forever. | Parenting | Advice for My Daughter as She Graduates | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

  1. Always open the toilet cleaner pointing AWAY from your face.

  2. Oh and never mix anything with toilet cleaner. My friend forced the evacuation of a summer camp because she mixed ammonia with Sparkly Bowl. Don’t trigger a hazmat situation. It’s embarrassing.

  3. By the way, clean the toilet. Using the brush.

  4. And while we are on the subject of using cleaners properly, never put regular dishwashing liquid in a dishwasher . . . unless you want a flood of suds of Brady Bunch Hijinx proportions.

  5. If “someone” living in your abode makes this mistake, white vinegar will slay those bubbles in an instant.

  6. In fact, just always keep white vinegar around. Unlike nail polish remover which should only be used on nails (it’s in the name, they’re not trying to fool you), white vinegar can be used for just about everything from deodorizing to unclogging shower heads.

  7. What vinegar can’t be used for is a grease fire on the stove. Never throw a liquid (including water) on a cooking fire. You’ll just scatter that sucker around. Use flour or a pot lid or that special fire extinguisher graduation gift—that you rolled your eyes about—to smother the flames. Don’t forget about 911.

  8. You’re not going to walk away from a pan on the stove anyway, right?!

  9. And turn the oven off when you’re done.

  10. And speaking of turning things off, know how to shut the water off before Old Faithful makes a cameo in your kitchen.

  11. It’s righty tighty, lefty loosey.

  12. Always use the right tool for the job. For the love of all that is good, stop opening things with your teeth. The portion of your life where your parents pay for your orthodontia is over.

  13. In general, if it should be moving and doesn’t, blast it with WD-40. If it is moving and it shouldn’t be, duct tape it.

  14. Speaking of things moving, don’t leave your dirty dishes and snack scraps lying around. I saw my first cockroach in college. And mice? Your cat is not going with you to the dorms. I do at least get to keep my fur baby.

  15. Hairspray will kill a cockroach in a pinch. But maybe not in Texas or Florida. Those monsters could survive a nuclear blast. Just. Run.

  16. Never use a paper towel (or Windex) to clean sunglasses, computer screens, or televisions. You would think that at their price points, they would be made out of stuff that could survive a paper towel. They are not.

  17. In general, don’t eat your feelings, but if you must, go for something primo. Don’t waste the calories on a Twinkie.

  18. But really, don’t stress too much about what you eat. Eat healthy because it will make you feel better, but don’t deny yourself that cheeseburger. You have your forties and beyond to do that.

  19. But do stress about drinking enough water. You need at least 64 ounces a day.

  20. But honestly, exercise really is a better stress reliever than eating.

  21. Do at least ten push-ups a day. Push-ups are seriously the perfect exercise. They require no equipment and they’re like the speed dating of upper body workouts, hitting your shoulders, arms, chest and core all in one motion.

  22. Take the stairs. Bonus: unlike an elevator, you’ll never get trapped with a pervert, a screaming baby, or an incontinent grandma.

  23. If you have the choice between staying home in your pajamas or trying something new, even if you think it may be lame, change out of those pjs.

  24. However, there is no shame in “pajama days.” Everyone needs a break.

  25. But for the love of not flashing what the good Lord gave you, never leave the house in pajamas. Even the cute ones.

  26. Remember to put on sunscreen when you do leave the house.

  27. Treat others as you want to be treated. If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for you.

  28. Always assume the person you are talking about (talking is just old-timey speak for texting or Snapchatting) will find out.

  29. If you always get stuck with a task you hate, train someone else to do it.

  30. Crumbs do have to be cleaned out of the toaster.

  31. Clean out the lint trap in the dryer, too.

  32. And never dump someone’s wet clothes from the communal washer onto the floor. That’s the brand of karma that will get your good bras hanging from the trees.

  33. If someone dumps your clothes, you know what to do. Wink, wink.

  34. Scratch #33 and remember #27. See? Adulting is hard.

This list could be endless and I’m sure I forgot something, but don’t worry. Just like the encyclopedias you know nothing about, there will be routine updates. Via text of course.

And if you find yourself in doubt here is the biggie:

CALL/TEXT/SMOKE SIGNAL YOUR MOTHER!

(Or at the very least, Google it. I repeat myself because I have to.)

Some of this advice may seem random or trivial (well, except for the fire safety and hazmat avoidance), but here’s why those are the things I worry about. You have the big things covered.

You are so talented and yet, you have finally grasped “hard work beats talent when talent hardly works.” You brim the confidence that I didn’t even know existed when I was seventeen. You know you deserve to be respected. You know there is more to finding your joy and setting your goals than just being good at something. Happiness doesn’t exist without balance.

You are primed to find the people who honor your soul and fuel your happiness because you believed me when I told you that your classmates were just the luck of the draw. They didn’t have to be “your people” and their opinions didn’t have to hold weight.

Now go fulfill your commitments, tackle your dreams, and dominate your goals. Just remember to always lock your doors while you’re doing it.

I believe in you more than you could ever imagine.

Love,

Mom

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GoldieBlox Dolls: Just a Different Awful Stereotype for Girls?

GoldieBlox Dolls: Just A Different Awful Stereotype for Girls? What message are we sending when we say you have to reject femininity to be successful? Here are the answers straight from two teen girls' mouths. |Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms|

I am not going to lie. When I saw the GoldieBlox ad where a girl in overalls, armed with a hammer, breaks rank from the pink clad girls picking up Barbie dolls from a conveyor belt, and smashes a machine showcasing a robotic figure repeating, “You are beauty and beauty is perfection,” for the first time, I felt all tingly from the sheer “Girl Power!” of it all. I may have pumped my fist in the air and shouted, “You cannot shove me in a pink box just because I have a uterus!” But you’ll never know for sure because my only witness was my cat and I have thanked my lucky stars on more than this occasion that she can’t talk.

What can be proven is that I was so fired up I gave CNN.com this quote:

Ellen Williams, co-founder of the blog Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms, had an equally positive reaction. “It was about girls being more than their exteriors,” she said. “My 16-year-old daughter curls her hair and does her nails every week, but she also is in the robotics club and takes AP calculus.”

Here watch for yourself. It is so captivating.

I could not wait to show my teen daughters when they got home from school. They are accustomed to being part of my think tank so they didn’t even complain (too much) when I interrupted their streaming of Teen Wolf.

I looked eagerly back and forth between the two of them as the video ended. I could not wait to share this moment of womanly solidarity.

My 13-year-old, J, said, “That was creepy.”

My 16-year-old, G, said, “Why do they want me to be like a boy?”

Really?!

I explained a little, “They are saying that you don’t have to conform to the standards of beauty set by Barbie dolls.”

G said, “What does it matter what toys I played with as a kid? Barbie is a woman, she can be whatever she wants to be. Why is it okay to hate her because she is skinny?”

So all this time spent worrying about Barbie’s bust to waist ratio and what it was doing to my girls’ body image was wasted time? They just saw her as a woman doing her thing. They were seeing the backlash against her as reverse discrimination.

There is nothing like your kids to make you take a good long look in the mirror. What did it say about my prejudices when I snickered because Barbie being an astronaut was ridiculous to me? My reflection said I might be the worst propagator of stereotypes ever. Why can’t Barbie have blond hair, a nice rack, and a propensity for aerospace engineering?

Ohhhhhh, I was starting to see their point, but they continued.

My 13-year-old elaborated on her doll critique: “What’s wrong with pink? Why do I have to wear overalls to be tough? Why does her hair have to look ratchet?”

My 16-year-old added: “You know, I’m like a unicorn when I go to my robotics competitions. Just because I curl my hair and wear make-up doesn’t mean I can’t program or do equations.”

And there it was. Their point was crystal clear. One stereotype was being traded for another. In essence the GoldieBlox dolls were projecting this message to them: You have to be like a boy to be smart.

It made me think, are people really asking girls what they think about the ads or just their moms? It was obvious my girls and I were looking at the video through two different lens.

My perspective was forged during the 1970s Women’s Liberation Movement when girls were encouraged, or maybe even ordered, to be as successful as they could be.

I dutifully marched along to the beat set by those liberated drummers. Fueled by the mantra “I CAN be anything I want to be” and a desire to live a more comfortable life than my upbringing, I became a doctor. Only . . . being an OB/GYN was funneling me down a pathway that led me away from how I wanted my home life to be. I was not really fulfilled by my career choice, and I quit. To be a stay-at-home mom. Gasp.

Believe me, it made it very uncomfortable to run into acquaintances when I visited my small hometown because in their eyes I went from shining star to a waste of brains.

But one hometown encounter once and for all squelched the shame of “letting all of womankind down.” I ran into a friend’s mom who I had not seen much since I quit my residency. She was my earliest positive memory of a feminist. One thing led to another during the conversation and we landed on my career change. And then these magically freeing words happened.

To paraphrase her: We pushed you girls too hard to just focus on career and achievement. We should have taught you to seek balance.

Balance. That is what the GoldieBlox ad lacks. It jarringly launches from the “be pretty and shut up” end of the teeter totter to smash the “be like a boy to be successful” end into the ground.

My 16-year-old pointed out that she liked the Always “Like A Girl” campaign so much better because she felt it projected she could be the kind of girl she wanted to be and do whatever she wanted to do.

It’s time to stop teeter-tottering from “beauty is a trap that leaves you with little choice” and “you have to reject femininity to be smart, tough, and successful.”

I want to live in a world where wearing lip gloss and understanding quantum physics is not mutually exclusive. I want it to be normal for baking and welding to coexist on a hobby list. I want women to feel like they can leave the house without make-up, but if they choose to wear stilettos, they aren’t lowering their IQs.

I just want women to be what makes them feel fulfilled and content. I just want them, me, to be happy human beings contributing positively to society. I just want balance.

In fact, I want to borrow GoldieBlox’s hammer and smash the teeter totter to bits. Stop the seesawing and let girls plant their feet firmly on the ground and just be.

-Ellen

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5 Things All Teen Girls Need

It’s back-to-school and we’re gathering all of the necessary supplies for a great year. It’s so much work to fill those carts, and really painful to empty those wallets, but that’s not where the prep ends.

With the start of school, calendars explode with activity and what’s important to the core of our girls’ lives can get lost in zooming from Point A to Point B while not forgetting to check off Item C and drop off Project D. Some of the most important things they’ll need for success aren’t things we can buy, but things we need to make room for in our lives and in theirs.

 

 5 Things All Teen Girls Need

 

Money can't buy these "Five Things All Teen Girls Need." #parenting - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

1. A Soft Place to Land

Middle school and high school can be rough to navigate–inhospitable even. Girl World especially has a complicated landscape where petty jealousies and miscommunications can wreak havoc and become all consuming.

Girls need to know that home is their safe place. Continuing rituals from their childhood that provide time to talk–like a regular mealtime or bedtime routine–means that girls know they already have a time scheduled for your attention and help. You are no longer reading them bedtime stories, but it’s reassuring for them to know they have time to tell their stories to you.

 

2. Time to Just Be

Girls love downtime. The mind and heart are wired for connections and these are born in the spaces in between band and volleyball practice and helping to decorate the gym for the Homecoming Dance. Acknowledging their inherent need for moments to relax and recharge will go miles towards helping them be their best, most authentic selves. Every minute is precious, but not every minute needs to be scheduled.

Every minute is precious, but not every minute needs to be scheduled. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms - 5 Things All Teen Girls Need

 

3. Our Two Cents

We know the value of keeping our mouths shut. A lot of peace can be had in the Kingdom of Teens when we don’t comment or even raise an eyebrow at every little thing, but there are bigger issues where we need to model how to form an opinion or take a stand.

Strong women don’t hang out in the middle of the road, but steer their own course. Telling them how we feel about big events and small happenings lets them know us better and gets their minds working to help them learn about themselves.

 

4. Adventure

They sometimes groan and grumble when we show up with a paddle or a walking stick ready to take them on a trail or river, but once they are out there, they are just fine. Exercise and fresh air does wonders to clear the mind and boost self-esteem. Nothing provides a sense of accomplishment like jumping off that ledge, paddling against that current, or finding your way back from that trail.

5 Things All Teen Girls Need - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

5. Opportunities to Grow

Whether they are musical or artistic or athletic or academic, girls need a chance to try on different hats. Here’s the secret: Throw out the “or.” They don’t need to pick just one persona from the list or stick with that one choice forever. They need chances to see themselves differently and imagine different futures for themselves. They need the encouragement to try new things, embrace mistakes, and reject limiting labels.

To that end, we highly recommend the organization Girl Talk and its LeaderU Summit. Dedicated to helping girls develop leadership skills, Girl Talk is a a peer-to-peer mentoring program for high school and middle school girls. Founded by Haley Kilpatrick, Girl Talk wants to help teens build self-esteem, expand their leadership skills, and foster a heart for community service.

Our daughters were fortunate to be sent to the Summit by FAAR, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. You can read what our girls wrote about their experience here. This probably goes without saying, but we’re pretty proud of their published work. All opinions expressed here and there are all our own and their own.

5 Things All Teen Girls Need #Parenting - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

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The Secret Oasis in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

My family loves Disney World. When we go, it’s the Park Hopper ticket all the way because we have our favorites at each and every park. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it’s Expedition Everest. I mean c’mon, it’s a story, it’s a show, it’s an awesome roller coaster that reverses its direction and sends you spiraling backwards through the dark.

We also love Dinosaur, or at least my husband and I do. Our girls, even though they’re in their teens, still claim we scarred them for life by taking them on it when they were little tykes after my husband convinced them it was just like the Finding Nemo ride. So what if it’s entirely in the dark, you’re threatened by meteoric destruction, and a T-Rex steams you with his breath? Save your money on therapists, Girls, if this is your biggest complaint.

This text actually happened.

This text actually happened. I already knew she was scarred for life, I just couldn’t remember the name of the ride.

 

Then there is the Kilimanjaro Safari. Not only does it always have animals you can see, it has a pretty intense story line about poachers, too. Any zoo can give you animals, but Disney gives you your hippos with a side of drama.

And then . . . we need a break since we have now trekked to all the far reaches of the park. And we found that break two trips ago at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, located in Asia near the Safari exit.

The Secret Oasis in Animal Kingdom | Travel and Disney World | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

It’s the negatives that make Rafiki’s Planet Watch special. Really.

  1. No crowds.
  2. No lines.
  3. No over-stimulation.

In a way, I hate to even tell you about because it is such a welcomed, peaceful respite mainly because it is so overlooked. Heck, we passed it over our first two trips when our kids were the smallest and we needed it the most. But apparently what I call peaceful, other people call boring. Puh-tay-toe, puh-tah-toe? Um, no. Those people’s brains have been melted by their smartphones. Don’t be those people.

Basically, you are devoting forty-five minutes to an hour to slowing down the pace and never having to say “C’mon, let’s go,” but still getting a fair dose of Disney magic. One thing though, if you’re hungry, grab something before you start. While there is a gift shop (of course), there aren’t many food choices beyond very light snacks.

It’s a lovely, short walk past lush vegetation to the very cool Harambe Train Station.

Ahhhhhh. Shade.

Ahhhhhh. Shade.

Of course the station and train are cool. It's Disney World.

Of course the station and train are cool. It’s Disney World.

 

It’s about a five minute ride to Conservation Station. Along the way, the conductor points out some of the sights. You actually see behind the scenes for the Safari where the animals are brought to rest. We have always been able to see animals, but pay attention now because you take a different route back.

Once you pull into the station, there is another lovely, yet slightly longer walk to get to the actual Conservation Station. But it doesn’t matter because it has all kinds of fun things along the way, including a Rafiki photo op.

He's all mine.

He’s all mine.

There are usually Cotton Top Tamarin Monkeys along the way, but their exhibit was being refurbished during our last visit.

There are usually Cotton Top Tamarin monkeys too, but their exhibit was being refurbished during our last visit.

 

It’s a discovery trail. Now is the time to meander and relax. Let the kids look at the displays and the backyard habitats. They can pick up a leaf without getting trampled. You’ll get to Conservation Station soon enough. Remember, you committed to slowing down for an hour. The hustle and bustle of Animal Kingdom will still be there when you get back. Promise.

There is a cool mosaic on the ground, but you'll just have to take my word and visit to get a better look at it.

There is a cool mosaic on the ground, but you’ll just have to visit to get a better look at it.

 

Once you enter, the murals are hugely fantastic and they provide a little sumthin’, sumthin’ for the Type A personalities in your group who NEED activities with goals. The artwork is positively dripping with Hidden Mickeys. I, for one, like to find them on my own. Maps are for cheaters, unless your thing is using the Hidden Mickey maps, then it’s totally cool. I am into clues though, so I’ll leave you with this, look in the eyeballs.

The murals start from the entrance and wrap all around.

The murals start from the entrance and wrap all around.

 

But the best part? AIR CONDITIONING! Sweet, blessed cool air. In a wide open space no less, with nary a thing to purchase in sight. You can set the little ones free from the strollers and let them stretch their legs.

Conservation Station Wide Open Spaces

Yeah, I just realized the irony of highlighting air conditioning in a conservation station, but it is Florida.

Inside there are sound booths, short nature films, and large animal cutouts. Live-feed video monitors that you can control let you observe animals in their enclosures. There is also a great reflecting pool where a preschooler (or a teen) can be occupied with a stack of pennies trying to float the coins into the animals eyes.

Bring those pennies, the money gets donated.

Bring those pennies. The money gets donated to Disney’s Conservation Fund.

 

Another unique feature is the research and care facilities located along the back wall. You can see vets and researchers actually working. One highlight is the veterinary treatment room. Animals are often given their yearly check-ups in the morning and you can watch it happen.

What a fun place to work.

What a fun place to work.

 

Hourly, there are cast members with live animal presentations. You can easily interact and get your questions answered.

One of my favorites from 2010. But that darn hawk would not look at the camera.

One of my favorites from 2010. But that darn hawk would not look at the camera.

 

But besides real animals, there are Disney characters too! Rafiki is usually there and often times, so is Jiminy Cricket and Pocahontas. They are character experiences almost like the olden days when you could just walk up without the long queues and fuss.

My kids were like, "We can just walk up to them?"

My kids were like, “We can just walk up to them?” Even if your kids are shy with the characters, there are always the cut-outs.

 

So, we’ve covered Hidden Mickeys, science, learning, characters, and air conditioning, but there is still more! The Affection Station is the most adorable petting zoo with the best washing up station ever. Kids can pick up brushes to groom the goats and pigs. There is a little stage nearby where 30 minute shows are given several times a day with animals not usually seen in other parts of Animal Kingdom.

Just a girl grooming a goat.

Just a girl grooming a goat.

 

That about covers it. Conservation Station is a great place to meander, recharge, and have a lower key Disney experience. It’s just a short train ride back to the hub bub.

-Ellen

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Fabulous Gifts For Teen Girls

Fabulous Gifts for Teen Girls

We’re not much for the Black Friday hoopla, but we can get down with Cyber Monday. How can you beat shopping in your pajamas or while you’re at work–on break of course <ahem>. So we’re making lists and checking them twice and hoping we can get some steals and deals for our teen girls. Even if these gifts don’t go on sale, there is a price range for everyone. All 16 gifts have been Daughters of the Sisterhood approved, so behold . . .

Our Sweet Sixteen Gift Guide

Conair 1875 Watt Thermal Shine Styler

Conair 1875 Watt Full Size 4-in-1 Hair Dryer

This is the best dryer EVER. Seriously. Erin almost stole it from Ellen while they were on vacation together. Good thing Ellen’s daughter Coco (15) does not let it out of her sight. It dries thick hair fast–like Ellen’s thick main of hair in under 20 minutes–and the smoothing attachment is a miracle. No more hand numbing contortions with a brush AND a dryer. The results are so good, it minimizes your flat iron time if it doesn’t eliminate it altogether. Best part? It’s way under $25!

 

SEPHORA Makeup Academy Palette 2013 Blockbuster Limited Edition Set

Sephora Makeup Academy Palette

This might not be a steal, but it will get you squeals of delight and isn’t that what gift giving is all about? Plus, if you need that special shadow for that one special outfit, it’ll be as close as a trip down the hall.

 

Divergent Trilogy Box Set
Divergent Series Complete Box Set

If your teen hasn’t discovered this series yet, get this set in your shopping cart right now! Set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions that each represent a different virtue, teenagers have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another – for the rest of their lives. According to Ellen’s girls, this series is a real page turner. The movie for the first book came out in March of 2014. We are firm believers in reading the book before the movie. Firm. Believers. So hurry up and get into this series before the rest of the movies drop.

And if you like Divergent, The Maze Runner is another great option . . .

Fabulous Gifts for Teen Girls - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
The Maze Runner (Book 1)
The Maze Runner DVD or Blu-ray
The Maze Runner Dylan O’Brien Poster

Fans of dystopian literature will love The Maze Runner. (Confession: Ellen enjoyed the series immensely, too.) Please, please, please start with the book before moving onto the DVD. While the movie is exciting and pretty great, the book is full of rich detail that could not be crammed into the film. But speaking of details, the main character played by Dylan O’Brien is pretty easy on the eyes. This poster is topping Ellen’s daughter’s wish lists since they were fans before The Maze Runner even came out because of his role on MTV’s Teen Wolf.

 

JKase® 3-in-1 Camera Lens Kit Wide Angle Lens + Macro Lens + 180° Fish Eye Lens for iPhone 5
Universal 3 in 1 Camera Lens Kit for Smart phones (including iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, HTC, Motorola and More), Tablets, iPad, and Laptops
We know that is a lot of words for a link, but to simplify–IT IS PURE AWESOME. If your teen is lucky enough to have a smartphone, then you know it’s a prized possession. Be a hero by making it even better with lenses that zoom, take wide angles, and produce cool fish eye effects. And it’s under $20! Best part? You might even be able to surprise her because she doesn’t even know she wants it.

 

Sodastream Jet Starter Kit
SodaStream Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker Starter Kit

We’re not sure if the SodaStream is practical, but it sure is fun and that’s what gift giving is all about in our families. And Ellen’s family can attest that it’s also tasty. Ellen is not a big soda drinker, but even she is a fan of the mywater flavor essence (althooooooough, the root beer is pretty good). One great convenience is that the SodaStream doesn’t need any batteries or electricity to operate. It’s powered solely by the compressed gas carbonator that comes in the starter kit. Pretty cool.

 

Would You Rather
Would You Rather? Board Game – Classic Version
We are huge fans of board games here at The Sisterhood. We play them at family gatherings, on  random cold Saturday nights, and even on New Year’s Eve. This game is a favorite of all ages on those occasions, but it made the teen gift list because it is also a big hit at slumber parties. Maybe if you pull out this game at the beginning of the evening, you can avoid your own sleepover disasters. We’re rooting for you!

Clue
Clue
When we have a little more time, and some quiet, Clue is always a favorite. The intrigue gets us every time.

And if you have A LOT of time . . .

Risk
Risk Game
Because who doesn’t want to rule the world?

 

Mini Donut Maker and Cookbook
Mini Donuts Cookbook
Sunbeam Mini Donut Maker

Ellen’s family has such a fun time with this gadget.You can make a huge batch in no time because the donuts bake so quickly. The cookbook is really worthwhile, too. Ellen’s daughter recommends the Red Velvet recipe on page 49 (and so do Ellen’s hips as a matter of fact). One other tip: wooden chopsticks are great for lifting the donuts out.

 

Innergie PocketCell Portable Battery Pack

Innergie PocketCell – Portable Battery Pack and Charger with USB Magic Cable Trio
This is the gift of power for your teen and the gift of peace of mind for you. Never fear a dead phone again–works for a variety of phones with the same Magic Cable (it has different adapters that you can flip around). Ellen can attest the battery pack holds it charge for quite a while just waiting to rescue you.

 

Soft Chevron Sheer Infinity Scarf
Soft Chevron Sheer Infinity Scarf
Infinity scarves are hot and this one is sizzling with its chevron print. It comes in a multitude of colors so you can give them to all of the teens in your life without them complaining about being “matchies.”

 

Fuzzy Socks
Fuzzy Winter Socks – Set 3
Girls love fuzzy socks. The end.

 

Remington Pearl Digital Tapered Ceramic Curling Wand

Remington Pearl Digital Ceramic Tapered Curling Wand
If your girl has long hair, this is THE curling iron that gives those trendy soft spiral curls. And this one won’t break the bank. Don’t be frightened off by the lack of clip: think no weird crimps at the bottoms of your curls. THAT is so 1988. But don’t fear third degree burns either because this one comes with a protective glove to protect your girl’s fingers.

 

The North Face Half Dome Women's Hoodie

The North Face Women’s Half Dome Hoodie

Teen girls love The North Face like they are embarking on a daily trek to Mount Everest instead of just traipsing into Chemistry class. This hoodie is one of the more economical ways to gift it. When you click and your size selection you will see that most of them are Prime eligible.

 

Anchor Bracelet
Sterling Silver Rhodium Plated Anchor Bracelet
Anchors are “in,” but this bracelet is sweet enough to survive the trend. It’s not too pricey either, so cry, “Anchors away!” and add it to your cart, Matey! (Please tell us you read that last part in a pirate voice. Please.)

 

One Direction Duct Tape and Calendar

One Direction 2015 Calendar
One Direction Duct Tape
One Direction is still going strong and since you can’t invite the lads over for dinner at least they can be with you all year long with this calendar. And in case you didn’t know, duct tape is B-I-G, so One Direction duct tape? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

 

Okay and one more for good measure . . .

boot socks
Crochet Lace Trim & Buttons Knit Boot Socks Black
Cold weather is all about the boots and adorable socks peeking up above them is the trendy way to go. Their feet will be extra warm in these. Now if we could only convince them wearing coats was a “thing.”

 

And just one more . . .

fit bitFitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband
Got an athlete who also likes tech? This helpful little tool tracks steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes. It also monitors quantity and quality of sleep and might just convince your teen it is time to get off of Netflix and get some more shut-eye.

 

Well, that last one was a little pricey and this one is super cool, so one more . . .

Gift Guide for Teen Girls
Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera
Shake it like a Polaroid picture! We know, this camera is by Fuji, but it gets better reviews than the instant photo camera by Polaroid, and that is what is important, all super fun retro hip hop songs aside. Your girl will love the novelty of seeing a photo print out instantly and you will love the nostalgia. The credit card sized prints are vintage-y and kitschy enough to appeal to anyone’s inner hipster.

Watches Made From Wood

Need some gift suggestions for the teen boys in your life? We have those right here!

Great Gifts for Teen Guys--Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Need even more ideas? Check out this great super-size guide!

Holiday gift guide for teens and tweens | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Hope these lists give you some help, but we aren’t done. If you’re not an Amazon kind of person, Ellen has one more suggestion. How about adopting a kitten? One size fits all. (How fast are you scrolling back to the top now?)

Merry Christmas Pebbles

There is more to teens than shopping. Read our other parenting articles about teens here.

-Ellen and Erin

This post contains affiliate links. Except for the kitten. That is Pebbles and Ellen is keeping her. We’re sure you can find your own kitten.

 

 

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