10 gifts that your child will remember long after the holiday is gone.

Want to have a gift that will keep your child’s interest and make a lasting memory? Here are some ideas that can be used this year and for years to come.

  1. A calendar so that your child can mark off all the days you will be having a regular “date” with them.  Spending one on one time with your child is a gift that will be remembered.  Chronicle the dates by collecting photos or special treasures – such as menu from a restaurant or ticket to a movie. In addition. Most importantly – don’t break the date. “Pinky-Swear!” Your work can wait.

2. Paper bags and markers so they can decorate a special gift for someone else to help them learn that sharing is caring. Teach your child that the holiday is not the ONLY time to give more than you receive. So, make a weekly/ monthly time with your child to do good for others. Such as going to an area where the homeless may frequent and give out sandwiches and hygiene packets (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.

dog-571125_12803.Take them to the dollar store for a special trip. But, don’t shop for them but for FIDO, as animals  matter, too. Teach your child the value of being kind to animals by visiting a shelter and dropping off toys and blankets for the animals that are there.  And, if you want to extend the lesson, consider signing up to foster a pet in your home through a reputable pet adoption agency. (PetFinders.com may be able to assist you here).

4. Make an invitation paper and pencil set. Let them have a party – but instead of gifts offer that the guests bring donations for a charitable cause.  There are many kids now who will opt for a “party with a cause” when it comes to holiday or birthday celebration.  Some ask for items to be donated to hospitals or other organizations, such as Toys for Tots.

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5. A Camera.  Create a memory book so that these magical moments are not forgotten.  And, if you want to be “So 2017” allow them to use a video camera on your phone, perhaps. (Note: there are some very reasonably priced apps that can edit both video and photos.)

pancake-767567_6406. Kid friendly kitchen gadgets for weekly family dinners – sans electronics.  Want to give your child a gift that will be memorable? TURN OFF YOUR PHONES and COMPUTERS.  Unplug.  COOK dinner in your home and serve dessert, too! Play board games after dinner. Invite a friend of your child to make it extra special.  When done.. make a plan a do it again!

7. All the things you need for backyard camping – including the telescope! Take learning outdoors and let your kids learn from experience that is “not forced”.

8. A library card. Why restrict reading, music and movie viewing to what you can afford from a store or online website, when there are thousands of FREE books, videos and music available at a L-I-B-R-A-R-Y!

9. Give them a grandparent hug. Time with grandparents, aunts/ uncles, cousins and other people who are important in the lives of your child can be the best of gifts! Remember the idea of making a memory with a video or camera. Including loved ones is a good idea, too!

10. A staycation.  Plan a weekend of fun and (often) cheap/free activities with your child.  Museums are an excellent place to spend time. Hikes and bike ride through your locale, too! And, for those quieter times, open up the arts and craft supplies you gave your child create fun cards and smiles.

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Photographs of Sunsets

I will start this very short blog post by saying I am not a professional photographer. I just love photography and sunsets is one of my favorite “subjects”.  While I would like to say that the photos below were taken after much thought and with great care, they were not. In fact, they were all snapped via an smartphone camera and are unfiltered.  Most are from my hometown area in Southern California – on the Palos Verdes peninsula. A few are from other beach areas and  Hawaii.

Enjoy and feel free to post your blog url if you are a lover of photography, too!  Thanks!

 

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Palos Verdes, the Portuguese Bend

Just wait 15 minutes

After a very busy week, Hubby and I  decided to have a relaxing dinner with a friend.  Little did we know that our meal would come with a spectacular “show” –  compliments of “Mother Nature”.  Enjoy the beauty of Southern California where the slightest change in weather is considered a huge “event”.  These photos were taken over a time span of 45 minutes. A new “scene” every 15 minutes!

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When Smoke Gets in Your Eyes- The Glendora /Colby Fires

2013 and 2014 has been exceptionally dry years here in California – resulting in drought conditions throughout the state. And, where there is a drought there is bound to be high potential for fire. So it was no surprise when fires did erupt,  due to careless human misconduct, throughout the area known as Glendora- Colby.  I live more than  thirty miles away from where these fires started and I can tell you that in my “neck of the woods” smoke got in my eyes! Ash dropped like snow flurries on to cars all throughout the South Bay area and everyone seemed to be able to smell the essence of smoke and cinder for miles.

I captured the impact of the fire on our skies Thursday, January 16th and Friday, January 17th.  You can see how the skies over Torrance, CA were almost the color of caramel just hours after the fire began.  In Palos Verdes there is a distinct line of demarcation between “clear skies” and the smoke.

As always I like to provide an ounce of education for those who read this blog. Read more about fire safety and disaster preparedness here: National Fire Protection Association

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Discover the Mission of San Juan Capistrano

Today I spent a glorious morning with a friend at the Mission of San Juan Capistrano.  Located in Orange County, minutes from I-5 and the beaches, this is a little slice of heaven.  San Juan Capistrano is known for the annual flight of the swallows, but also for this distinguished mission which dates back to 1775.  The Mission itself has a deep history which you can read on their website. I love a great historical site, but for me today was all about the photography.

What fascinates me about this Mission is how the architecture, including the famous bells, are juxtapose with sublime gardens.  A photographers dream landscape. Also, the gardens are tended by volunteers , aptly named Gardening Angels – who today were especially helpful in teaching me the names of flowers and plants indigenous to my new Southern California home.

If you have a few spare moments, walk the rest of the town and check out the coffee shop near the train tracks and petting zoo.

Lastly, don’t forget your camera!

To learn more about the Mission of San Juan Capistrano click HERE

For information about the mission throughout California, click HERE