Gifts for Teens and Tweens – so very challenging

I am writing this post after spending several hours (yes, hours) at the Natick Mall (the words Natick Collection never crossed my lips, glad they changed the name back) in Tween/Teenland. Why? I did it for you, dear reader, so that you may go forth unscathed by pounding music in overly scented and dimly lit stores (really, Hollister?). You are welcome and, thank you, my headache is better now, a full day later. Once your children are past the princess and Lego stage (you only wish it were over if you are still in it), you are required to really work at finding presents that meet your value system (supposing you haven’t bailed on your value system after those years of princesses and Legos), are age appropriate and are what your teen/tween wants. So what to do? Well, I am sure you have an idea about your own teen or tween but what about that tough-to-buy-for niece or nephew? Here are just a few ideas to help you out…

You can go full court press on electronics, Apple, Wii, Xbox and then get all of the games…

panasonic headphones at urban outfitters find by capability mom blog
Urban Outfitters

Uggs are still a wanted item

So what are the hot teen stores? Start at Forever 21 for inexpensive, well, everything. There are $10 jeans in the sale room, $6-10 t-shirts scattered throughout the store, and tons of  scarves, hats, mittens, socks – all so inexpensive and cute. The store in Natick is massive and has separate accessories area. You can get lost in there, well, I did. Got out in time to check out 344 (the outlet and regular store). Cute tanks in bright colors, Converse sneakers, great  feather earrings. On to Urban Outfitters for more great ideas – for girls – great skimmers, terrific basic tees (that I can even still wear, ahem, yes) and fun stocking stuffers, plaid shirts and hats for the guys.

capability mom blog finds cute graphic tees at deliasWhere to next? Delias for cute graphic tees and American Eagle Outfitters  for shirts and jeans – looks like everything is 40% off now, too. More stops, well, we did have lunch at that cute sushi place called Wasabi (it is a chain and has the bonus of serving the food on a conveyor belt for your entertainment – don’t worry – the food is tagged with sensors to tell the kitchen how long it has been out. A nice break and it was good to sit down for a bit. There is more! A quick look in Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table for me…I am looking for a 9 quart cast iron french (dutch? same thing?)  oven that doesn’t cost as much as my first car.

Yes, I went into the dimly-lit, over-perfumed and poundingly loud Hollister (sort of a college bar but without the alcohol). I know I am old but I could not hear even when I got out of the store. Honestly, you have to yell to be heard over the music. Well, that was my tipping point so I headed home to order books (quietly) on-line from Amazon (I had already been by the New England Mobile Book Fair and picked up a bunch there).

Steven Saylor

Rebecca Stead

If you want to do good and give a gift, pick a charity and donate in your teen’s name – there is no shortage of organizations – here are a few:

Heifer International

World Wildlife Fund

The Water Project

Not enough ideas? Head on over to Cool Mom Picks – They have a wonderful gift giving guide.

Epic Fail

That is what we are looking at  here –  an epic fail (and thank you to my friend, A, who named it for me).

Why? What? Okay, car is dying (but still trade-in-able), two not so old (under 3 years – Dell, thanks for asking) computers have eased into a slow non-functioning spiral of death (I had the word obsolescence here but changed it to death – it is just that they are lemons…the technology should not be obsolete after 3 years nor should the functionality), my phone battery is not holding a charge, the dishwasher works but only if I throw a cup of water into it before running it, the vacuum is pretty much a goner, two burners on the stove make a weird clicking noise when used so I don’t use them) and last night at around three am I heard a really horrible mechanical groan right before the a/c shut off – I waited (like I could sleep after that anyway) and it went back on, thankfully because that would be a tipping point…in my mental health state.

Phew, or have I breathed a sigh of relief too soon?

Okay – I pledge to buy a vacuum today – Check! Vacuum purchased -at Mr Sweeper in Waltham – a very nice, local shop that sells and repairs vacuums…I had hoped that ours could be saved…it could but it was not worth it.

I pledge to look at computers today –Umm…today? On-line – okay, store? Augh. We went to Micro Center in Cambridge on Saturday (their tagline should be “Where the geeks go” – no hate mail, please – I like geeks…but seriously, 99 percent of customers were male and one that I talked to  – he was a computer consultant  – knew so much about the Apple line (as in “…the  G5 – does yours have that loud fan problem?”) that I should have had him tell me which one to get and just have been done with it). The salesmen were nice and very knowledgeable.  We worked with Serge who was very helpful and I suspect has a PhD in Physics or something. It looks like Best Buy has similar products (looking at a PC laptop – down to Sony or Toshiba for brands) but their prices do not include Microsoft Office which adds $100 or more to the price. My head is swimming in ghz, RAM, and GB and as soon as I choose a computer I will swiftly download this knowledge from my brain so it can hold on to more important stuff like where I left my keys.

Spent the day on the computer and at the computer store – well, at least it was the Apple Store

First thing, after getting kids to camp and dog and self walked, was to cool off with a giant iced tea (it was really hot today and note to self – a bit speedy now – should have skipped that Starbuck’s green tea at 3 pm –  make a pot of decaf iced for tomorrow) and plunked myself down in front of the computer. I worked on two Facebook business pages, a Twitter account and set up some links. Sounds easy and parts of it are but it is time-consuming.  Luckily I can Google questions when I get stuck which was only twice today.   Also cleaned up some left-over LinkedIn messiness (Note to all:  if you hit invite all of your contacts and import your contact list it is not enough to delete the contact list, somehow there is a cycling effect and unless you go to your Inbox and Sent Invitations and manually delete them, people will continue to be harassed invited by you in perpetuity. Unless you have a thick skin and never get tired of emails asking why you invited your Aunt Flora to join LinkedIn, do this). You are welcome.

So, some social media and then I used a great resource Freecycle…and you will not believe what I got. First, read about Freecycle:

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,810 groups with 7,245,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!

I have located a jog stroller for a friend and cross-country skis for me.  When you have something to give away, you write “Offer” in the subject line and if you are looking for something “Wanted”. It is best to balance the two and now I am certainly on the ‘need to offer’ side as I asked (hope springs eternal) for an older Mac laptop. I did not get a laptop, I got a desktop model – maybe 5 years old seemingly in good condition. I drove it directly to the Apple Store where I was relieved of my very heavy desktop by a staff member and helped by a wonderful customer service person. Really knowledgeable and kind and patient with this Mac novice. I was embarrassed to admit I got the computer from Freecycle so I said it was from a friend – which it was, well, sort of. It feels very friendly to go to someone’s house and pick up something.  Nice community building.

So,  I am at the Apple Store and everything was going well until we tried to connect to the internet and when it didn’t work wirelessly – we tried the ethernet connection and that was a problem because the back of the unit had been removed by a previous tech-y owner. I left the newbie (to me) with the lovely Apple people and am waiting for the results of the diagnostic. How great is that? All I need is a mouse and a keyboard (hopefully) and I am good to go.  What you don’t know is that I am using the family computer – which means I have to wrangle for time on it – to write this as my aging useless stupid Dell laptop shuts down periodically and then I freak out. ‘Cuz it sucks to be working on something and then to see it crash. I hate Dell. Sorry, Dell. You have not been kind to me. I have given you too many chances, Dell, I am afraid it is over.

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