books

Gifts for tutors and teachers – What to give? Day 5 of 12 Days of Shopping

First, find out school policy and abide by the rules. What, I am bossy? Yeah, that’s news. Really, figure out (ask other parents in the school) what is customary and either follow it or if, for some reason, it doesn’t seem enough to you… get creative and come up with some new ideas.

Many districts have also have programs in place to help you, like Honor Thy Teacher  run by the Newton Schools Foundation where you can make a donation in a teacher’s name.  Some schools let you buy books (at a PTO run Book Fair) or donate a book to the school library in the name of the teacher.
There is no shortage of great gifts (books) and you can grab a gift card to a local book store (more books) or coffee shop. Have your children make the card – it is always appreciated. Maybe you can organize a Teacher Appreciation Coffee before the holidays. Get the PTO involved and start a new tradition – maybe you can give everyone a goodie bag or, I don’t know, a book?

So, what to give? Is handwritten card and cookies enough or do you slip a gift card inside? If you do, try Sephora, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or iTunes.  Sometimes a group gift is in order. so pony up and be the one that collects the money and buys the gift, assign someone else the task of getting the card signed by all of the students. More work for you but you will make some teacher’s day.

What else to give?  Always welcome gifts :  hand-knitted or commercially made scarves, sweaters, gloves, socks which also all fit the not too personal rule (include a gift receipt to be extra nice). What else? Holiday decorations (Hanukah or Christmas) and candles, anything homemade (see Friday’s post),  notecards or plantable paper from Botanical PaperWorks. How about a magazine subscription? I like Uncommon Goods for really different but reasonable gifts like this Stackable Lunch Pot Set.

The new Flour Bakery cookbook (add some sweet wooden spoons or a whisk and a pretty dishtowel and put them in a mixing bowl). You could also make your favorite recipe from the cookbook and include the baked goods with the book.


Penzey’s is a great stop – the catalog is great but the store is even better (in Arlington, MA).  They also have the best packaging for the spices; whole nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves are placed between the bottles in many of their gift boxes. You can put together your own, too.  Pretty and sweet or savory.

Don’t forget plants.  Sure, a poinsettia or a white amaryllis or some sweet paper whites. Sounds boring? Not this time of year in New England! Go get a nice orchid (Trader Joe’s has them, as does Whole Foods) or a big gorgeous flowering tropical house plant (just be sure to cover it well when you run it outside). Nearby garden centers will have a nice selection and you will get a much needed dose of green while you shop. Usually know for their more expensive arrangements,  Winston Flowers has some less expensive choices that are lovely, too. I have also had great luck at the Waban 1-800-Flowers store. Great selection and great customer service, too.

The most important thing is to thank the teachers and let them know they are appreciated. Happy Holidays and head over to Pragmatic Mom for super Tutor Gift Ideas.

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Capability:Mom. Please visit her blog to see the other half of each post.

 Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

 Dec 8: Sanitation EngineersMail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

 Dec 9Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Cookies Personalized Holiday Tags


Your toughest gift to buy this year – Father and Father-In-Law…12 Days of Shopping, Day 4

Personally, I think men are really hard to buy for and by the amount of visits this post got last year, I am not alone. My default gifts – scarves, gloves, or a nice sweater – just don’t work if your recipient lives in Florida most of the year. So I have to get creative. Luckily I had a brainstorm session with Pragmatic Mom. What did we come up with? Well, there is the ever-popular sports themed gifts. Golf, tennis, any sport that your father or father-in-law might love. If they like the same sport, and you can get away with it, give them the same gift. Guys don’t usually talk about, well anything, so you are pretty safe that they won’t compare gifts – I can’t promise that this will work for your mother and mother-in-law.

capability mom loves target and this digital photo frame For instance, my dad is a gadget guy and my husband’s dad is not, but both would love a digital photo frame (especially one pre-loaded with images of adorable grandchildren). If you want to make it more personal, have siblings also send tech-y grandpa CDs of pictures, jpegs or even a flash drive. He can set it up, no problem. Or pre-load it with pics for someone who doesn’t care for that activity, then re-package the frame an you are good to go.

Also, if he is a techie, great gifts to support his tech…iPad cases are everywhere, phone covers and accessories (a huge blinding wall of them over at the Apple Store, Marshall’s has some in the really well-stocked and long checkout aisle where they get you to make impulse purchases now.

There is always a tie – really? Did I just write that? Yes, not just any ties but a Hermes tie or a Ermenegildo Zegna tie. If you need to make a very nice impression then this is the way to go. Big bucks – $180 for Hermes and about $175 for Zegna (although I am a bargain shopper and have seen the Zegna for less). Filene’s Basement is going out of business (so sad – I love that store and have great stories about it – I guess that is for another time) and they still have lots of great stuff – I was there yesterday.

Books! You know I am a bit of a book freak – what, you didn’t notice, really? – I head to my local independent bookstores; Newtonville Books or New England Mobile Book Fair but I do have to admit that the nearby Barnes & Noble does do a great job of suggesting books as well, and, yes, I do shop at Amazon, too. Love that super saver shipping. Go to the Best Sellers List in the NY Times for popular, NPR for funkier offerings and

capability mom finds ny giants gear on lineFor a sports enthusiasts – especially of one particular team – it is easy – there are tons of shirts, hats, and paraphernalia – go to the team website or your local sporting goods store (especially nice if you don’t support the same team, you look gracious and maybe a little heroic). For the sporty guys, just go for nicer stuff than he would buy for himself. For a golfer – go to Titleist and order personalized golf balls (with their name or nickname). For your tennis player, get tennis balls, some court time (with you? not me, this is a gift, not a punishment) at a place they don’t usually play. Runners are a cinch – new UnderArmour long sleeve shirt – about $50-60 or some running gloves, always welcome in New England.

Architect or Engineer types? Don’t overlook building kits like this from Frank Lloyd Wright and Lego – not cheap – about $100 at Target.capability mom finds great gifts for engineers or architects at targetIs your dad or father-in-law into building or fixing stuff? Easy! Head on over to Home Depot, Sears or Lowe’s and grab a gift card (too easy?) a Craftsman tool kit or if you really want a big gift – go for this rolling cart.

Don’t forget the experience gift – a pair of tickets to a game or event – whether it is theatre, sports or concert. Maybe you will even get invited to go along.

Does he love the Red Sox? Boats? Architecture? Nature? Check out this site for gorgeous photographs stretched on canvas – Sharon Schindler Photography.

Now, this brings us to the Mothers and Mothers-in-law, be sure to make the gifts of equal value! Obviously, you know them best – but here are some thoughts that Pragmatic Mom– ever the diplomat – put together.

The 12 Days of Shopping

Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

Dec 4: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

Dec 6: High Tech/Low Tech

Dec 7: Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?)

Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

Dec 10: Dog/Cat

Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Dec 12: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts: Cookies & Personalized Holiday Tags



Reading All Day

Yes, that is my preferred method of spending time and although it is hard to carve out a whole day, preferably with some iced tea and maybe something sweet to nibble on (like these?), at least I have no shortage of books! Check out this list from NPR – Critics’ List: Summer 2011: NPR I always love their book picks.

After carpools, dog walking and basic house cleanup, oh, yeah, working, and seeing to a mild but persistent addiction to Angry Birds, I am sneaking in some reading time. Pack a car book! Great time to catch up on reading while waiting for children in camp lines or on the sometimes longish drives to camp (books on tape, audio only while driving please).

So far, I’ve read Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder which I could not put down and read straight through in two days, yes, that’s what I was doing and it is reviewed here in the NY Times (not by me, I wish).


“>capability mom reads so many books

capability mom still reading booksBossy Pants, by Tina Fey

Supremely funny, here is the great Mother’s Prayer for Its Daughter excerpt, because, Lord, I have seen with my own eyes that Tina Fey can really, really write.

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her

When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

and am pre-reading Young Adult books – yes, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

Journey to the River Sea, Eva Ibbotson Lovely book, Winner of the Smarties Book Prize, and 2001 Whitbread Children’s Book Prize Finalist and a 2001 Carnegie Medal Finalist if you don’t believe me.

capability mom reads so many books - young adult fiction

Lock and Key, Sarah Dessencapability mom pre-reads young adult fiction

Tough topics are handled very well by the author. Fine for High School, middling for Middle Schoolers unless you are either into Good Discussions about Sensitive Topics like drug and alcohol abuse, child abandonment and physical abuse.

and on my iPad:
Egypt: The Uprising (The Battle for Maat, #1)

I just started this and really like it so far but it is my first full read on the iPad and I may crack and get the paper copy from Pragmatic Mom as we are both reviewing it later this summer.

capability mom reading to review books

and Wicked Good by Amy Lewis Faircloth and Joanne Lewis

Two sisters wrote this book together and although I am only 30 pages in, I am already attached to the characters. From the website:

My sister and I have written a novel called Wicked Good. It’s the story of a mother and her son with Asperger’s syndrome. People frequently ask how it came to be that two sisters wrote a novel together while living in different states.It was March. The snow was dirty brown and the sun was absent here in Bangor, Maine. I was spending a lot of time on my sofa, channel surfing and landing nowhere.Joanne called from her home in Florida. “Wanna write a book together?” she asked.I wrapped the afghan around me tighter and yawned from lack of blood flow to my brain. “Sure,” was the best response I could muster.

capability mom reading to review books

I am also on a rereading kick and just put down Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

capability mom rereads books in the summer I don’t know who re-did this cover but I am feeling quite stodgy when I say I do not care for it. I also am a bit put out reading this as a mom, because just maybe it isn’t all Marmee-love over here. Now I have to go read Little Men. Oh, look, they left that cover alone. capability mom rereads classic books in the summerWell, this should get you started, Happy Reading!

I forgot to add two books, a Pramatic Mom recommendation, After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick capability mom's picks for young adult fiction reads this summer– a terrific Young Adult book about the friendship of two boys (who both have cancer), family, middle school crushes and math phobia. Loved this book.

capability mom's picks for young adult fiction reads this summer I am midway through Zeitoun by David Eggers, which both Newton South and Newton North high schools are reading as part of the Two Schools, One Book project this summer but my high school student needed to read it so I handed it over.

I have linked all of these books to Amazon – go ahead and buy them! Last quarter I earned about $.73 – yes, that was a decimal point.

Update, alert and apologies. I just upgraded my blog and I think it cost me the links in this post to Amazon! All is not lost, however, and you can still line my pockets (snort laugh) by going to the conveniently located sidebar for Amazon and order the books there. I have tried to fix this basic link several times already and am past capacity for the frustration of trying one more time, plus I have other stuff to do. Read and enjoy.

Father and Father-in-Law – Toughest Gifts to Buy (Day 4)

(Update to this post here)

Personally, I think men are really hard to buy for and I thank Pragmatic Mom for making me challenge myself in this way. My default gifts – scarves, gloves, or a nice sweater – just don’t work if your recipient lives in Florida most of the year. So I have to get creative. Luckily I had a brainstorm session with Pragmatic Mom

For instance, my dad is a gadget guy and my husband’s dad is not, but both would love a digital photo frame(especially one pre-loaded with images of adorable grandchildren). If you want to make it even nicer, have your siblings send photos,  (to tech-y grandpa) CDs of pictures, jpegs or even a flash drive. He can set it up, no problem. Or pre-load it with pics for someone who doesn’t care for that activity, then re-package the frame an you are good to go.

boats by sharon schindler photography found by capabilitymom blogPics? Art? Is he into boats? baseball? architecture? Check out this photographer’s site for a cool photo stretched on canvas – Sharon Schindler Photography.

hermes ties best father in law gift from capability mom
Detail of Hermes silk tie

There is always a tie – really? Did I just write that? Yes, not just any ties but a Hermes tie or a Ermenegildo Zegna tie. If you need to make a very nice impression then this is the way to go. Big bucks – $180 for Hermes and about $175 for Zegna (although I am a bargain shopper and have seen the Zegna’s for less).

Books! You know I am a bit of a book freak do the new Michael Pollan book (Food Rules)is s great choice another the non-fiction book of the moment. Personally, I would giveSaul Bellow’s Letters and a copy of my favorite book by Bellows (choose from some of his best-known works: The Adventures of Augie March, Herzog, Mr. Sammler’s Planet, Seize the Day, Humboldt’s Gift and Ravelstein). I also really likeThe Match: Complete Stranger, A Miracle Face Transplant, Two Lives Transformed by Susan Whitman Helfgot and William Novak. This amazing story took place at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Here is a link to the NY Times non-fiction hardcover best seller’s list (Spoiler alert: It is top heavy with Republican politicians Bush and Palin) http://nyti.ms/i0rHTh. If he loves fiction – the NY Times fiction best seller list is full of ‘guy’ books, Patterson, Baldacci, King and Grisham dominate it at http://nyti.ms/3O8Ry. If  he is a gadget guy and a reader (especially one who travels frequently) get him an e-reader – they are light, with adjustable font size like the Kobo e-reader (which I have and love) from Borders.

capability mom finds ny giants gear on lineFor a sports enthusiasts – especially of one particular team  – it is easy – there are tons of shirts, hats, and paraphernalia – go to the team website or your local sporting goods store (especially nice if you don’t support the same team, you look gracious and maybe a little heroic). For the sporty guys, just go for nicer stuff than he would buy for himself. For a golfer – go to Titleist and order personalized golf balls (with their name or nickname). For your tennis player, get tennis balls, some court time (with you?) at a place they don’t usually play. Runners are a cinch – new UnderArmour long sleeve shirt – about $50-60.

Architect or Engineer types? Don’t overlook building kits like this from Frank Lloyd Wright and Lego – not cheap – about $100 at Target.capability mom finds great gifts for engineers or architects at target

Don’t forget the experience gift – a pair of tickets to a game or event – whether it is theatre, sports or music. Maybe you will even get invited to go along. Now, this brings us to the Mothers and Mothers-in-law, be sure to make the gifts of equal value!  Obviously, you know them best – but here are some thoughts that Pragmatic Mom – ever the diplomat – put together.

The 12 Days of Shopping

I will be posting The 12 Days of Shopping jointly with Pragmatic Mom. Each day, please visit her blog to see the other half of each post. Thanks!

Friday, Dec 10: Make Your Own Gifts GRANOLA, Amazing Granola from Nigella Lawson versus Amazing Granola Bars from The Barefoot Contessa

Sat, Dec 11: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

Sun, Dec 12: Personalized Gifts: Fancy Return Address Stampers and Personalized Stationery from Pixie Chicago

Mon, Dec 13: Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

Tue, Dec 14: Tutors/Teachers

Wed, Dec 15: High Tech/Low Tech

Thu, Dec 16: Hostess/Doing Good and Getting Something

Fri, Dec 17: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer

Sat, Dec 18: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List)

Sun, Dec 19: Dog/Cat

Mon, Dec 20: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

Tue, Dec 21: ’Cause I Am So Together, Last Minute Home Made Gifts

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