10 Gift Ideas You Might Have Forgot About to Amuse Children and Grandchildren!

You have these items lying around, in the attic or basement, cheap things that you might find children wouldn't care for, but you would be surprised. It doesn't matter how old or young, these time-tested toys, keepsakes and all-around cheap goods will often win some attention from busy-body children who need to do anything but sit in front of screens all day.  

Although not exciting or trendy to us adults, you stick these cheap goods in a child's hands and they will amuse themselves!  Avoid putting the typical video games in their hands when possible especially very young children (less than 6 years), we already know what the older ones do, they sit and sit and sit for hours in front of screens (smh).

1)  Old stuff.  Crack open that old album and your children or grandchildren are sure to laugh.  Take it one step further and create a photobook for them.  Pop in an old VHS or DVD of family events and someone might be more grateful for all the people and stuff they have in their lives.  Go the extra mile and give them their own copy on a portable drive.  Yes, entertaining children with your old stuff will keep them busy for at least a little while.  Encourage them to ask questions.

2)  Balls.  You have anything that is bright, colorful, bounces or rolls and you can get a group of children outdoors.  This includes bubbles!  Do your research and find websites that have all sorts of toys that take their fun to the next level!

3)  Things with movable parts and makes sounds.  Whether it is something that came off a broken item or a state of the art toy that just came out this year, if it can be opened, turned, pressed, or broken down--it's a winner!

4)  Tools.  Handy with tools?  A child is sure to follow in your footsteps with at least a few handy skills.  Start off with toy tools and when they are older begin to introduce them to useful household tools where they can actually build or fix something.

5) Plastic Organizers (includes folders, albums, and display cases).  From the large container a baby just pats on to an organizer that a young girl can keep her play stuff in, all children want something in those hands that makes them feel good!  Teach them how to organize their treasured items, display them and protect them. 

6)  Toys with wheels.  Whether they ride on them, push them, or control them with a remote--they are fun!  Wheeled items will get some children outdoors!  Why not get one for yourself too,  check out these adult stunt scooters!

7) Toys they can build stuff.  Legos, soft plush and wood blocks haven't been around this long for nothing!  They know what our thinkers like!

8) Art.  You know what pleasure you had when you finally created something worth keeping!  They can draw, paint, cut, twist, glue, create...whatever comes to mind they will come up with something.

9) Cards.  Whether these are cards for collecting, playing, stacking, or viewing...there is something about the shape of the rectangle that draws people in.

10) Playsets.  Remember the magic of having a great playset!  Your imagination went wild saving the Barbie from one of the wild animals, bouncing a wrestler off the top rope, or a superhero who finds his way back to the bat cave---yep, creatives, thinkers, and smart kids love good opportunities to learn with great stuff!

When you start shopping for items, be sure to use the tips in this guide for great savings.  I wrote this to help people find deals on year round.  Black Friday Cyber Monday Strategies to Use Year Round

Nicholl McGuire blog owner and contributor


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The Children You Guard Yourself Around

Mother You Aren't Getting Any Younger So Be Wise with Your Finances

Photo by Samuel Meléndez on Unsplash

If there is anything that I am learning as I age is I can't be all things to my four sons and I simply can't afford to be so!  Over the years, I observed the fathers in the family and how they dealt with financial matters versus how the mothers did.  What I saw were men who didn't invest their money into things like for instance, family event planning; rather, they financially planned (investments, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, worked gigs, etc.).  

The fathers didn't have no problem leaving it up to women to do things with the money they earned to: back-to-school shop, household shop, grocery shop, holiday shop, clothes and shoe shop, mall shop, vacation plan, etc.  Meanwhile, the basic essentials were handled (rent or mortgage, lights, gas, car insurance...) However, depending on how much money the women obtained, they were expected to help with those things too!  After a day of work, the men found a place to sit down and put their feet up!  The women continued to work: help with homework, clean, cook, wash clothes, shuttle them off to activities, discipline children, get them to bed, and many of you know the rest, because you are doing it now! 

Growing up, I saw those disappointed mothers who simply worked too hard for their money, for love, for approval, for whatever they hoped to gain from many challenged relationships!  They were up early and went to bed late at night not at peace, hoping, wishing and praying for easier days with less stress and financial mess!  There was never enough money on their end and I know some moms secretly resented the actions of their "cheap" partners who made far more than they did and were less generous too!  I didn't like how some of these fathers acted like tightwads either, but I also realized that spending up your last money, no matter who or what it is for, is damn foolish too!

I started looking around my own home, the children's closets, my closet, cabinets, under the bed and so on.  I made up in my mind over the years that once I met most needs of the household that certain spending categories were going to be cut significantly while others were no longer going to exist!  I met household needs over and over and over again from wash cloths to bedding and from school related things to outings!  But there comes a point, especially when children are old enough to do for themselves like cook what we already have in the freezer rather than expect parents or older siblings to buy food from restaurants, when what they claim they "need" is really not a need but a want and it won't be met!  It doesn't make me a bad mom for saying, "No" to this or that, it makes me a smart mom!

I have saved hundreds of dollars in saying "no" to holiday event planning and no to vacation planning and no to gift-buying "just because," but in recent years (before COVID) I started feeling a bit sentimental and nostalgic about things I had experienced while listening to people (who mean well), but also were guilty of spending far more money than they were bringing in to vacation plan, holiday plan, etc.  I thought, "After you spent all that money, now what?  You post photos on Facebook?  But would you post a picture of all the debt you are in trying to be everything to everyone?"

After spending hours going over all the spending categories on New Year's day, my head started to hurt.  I thought, "I am going to re-evaluate so-called 'needs' and think in terms of my getting older and what those needs are going to look like!"

You see, when you get older, adult sons and daughters don't meet your every need!  You are blessed if you get a call or text with a "Happy New Year" or "Happy Birthday! or Happy Mother's Day!" or an occasional gift that was useful or maybe not--lol!  I have four sons. Two of them, who are now 20 and 21, are out of the house.  Some of you who have been reading for years, you told me, "...wait until they get older" they changed and so did things change!  They aren't cute little boys anymore saying, "I help you Mommy!"  They are grown men who are saving money for the things they are going to want to buy or do later.  

As much as we would like to think that everything we are investing in young people will reap rewards later, that isn't necessarily true.  Instead, you might one day get, "You only did what you were supposed to do Mother!  What do you expect from me?  I have a partner, my own children...I have dreams, goals..."  So all that spending dear Mom, trying to put smiles on children's faces, while saving your husband lots of money, does what later on?  Well, I recall what I observed one day while riding the bus into work, I saw senior citizens standing in Food Bank lines (and that was years before COVID 19).  What I witnessed were seniors with expressions like the woman above.  What I heard from other seniors were their being "tired, so tired of working!"

When I see how my elders are reaping the consequences of much spending over the years, I realize that as much as I love my children, I also understand why I have to put them in God's hands and leave them there!  I can't do everything for any of them and I'm not going to break my bank or my back trying to!  I appreciate their gratitude, "Thanks Mom!" but that doesn't pay bills.

So here's to a happy financial new years for us all!  Cut back on the spending and start saving more!  

Nicholl McGuire blog owner and contributor and the author of When Mothers Cry and Tell Me Mother You're Sorry.

A Fellow Believer in Christ Speaks about Latina Issues, Faith and Her Mother's Passing


Gifts for the Mothers To Be, New Mom Gift Ideas

We give back to our new moms, those women who want very much to be good moms!  They have a long road ahead and they will need all the support they can get.  I have been around my share of pregnant women most recently and I will tell you that to feel their excitement about being a mom soon is catchy!  I like that they are eager about their new endeavor with their newborn.  I also don't mind giving to them either.  The last gift for one new mom was diapers, wipes and a gift card.  She was very grateful and mentioned that she had never seen so many diapers in such a large box.  Us moms know how new babies go through diapers!  So to save some time shopping, I included gifts below that new moms these days would absolutely appreciate!  Happy giving and thanks for supporting this blog!


Selfish Parenting Doesn't Draw Children Near

Think about yourself when you parent, go ahead.  You want your children to do everything that you think is righteous and true.  You take your children to places you think they will enjoy.  You give them things only when you feel they deserve them.  Your children aren't individuals, they are a reflection of you.  Then you cry later when they grow up to be everything that you didn't want them to be!  Yep, selfish parenting at its finest.

I recall a relative once told me that I was born to the most selfish parents she knew.  My heart sank.  I  didn't want to believe that.  She started giving me examples and warned me not to be that way with my children.  She said that she had been concerned that my mother and I would not be close because of the things she had observed when I was very young.

Decades later, her prophecy was accurate.  We weren't close and I finally came to terms with the truth that yes, there are those parents including my own, that parented based on what they wanted from their children who agreed to be near not what their children could become who chose to be far.  They expected more from us (particularly emotionally) then they were willing to give.  We were to be available while they took and took some more, because we "owed" them.  They pushed us and pushed us some more in everything they knew about it concerning us, because they were concerned about what "others" thought of "our kind" that they pushed their own offspring away.  We were spanked or whipped.  We were used and abused.  We were told that we were loved, but "go away...don't stick around for long...I'm busy."  Then I became a parent...uh oh.

I got four tries to get it right.  Four tries not to make my parenting be about me.  I started off fine wanting what any parent wants for their children: a roof over my babies heads, clothes on their backs, food in their bellies, and a quality education.  But in time, things got a bit more complex.  I found myself making decisions for them without asking.  I was strict, I coddled, I enabled, I got angry...I was selfish.  

When they wanted to do something else other than what I suggested, I didn't like their bright ideas, "Why not try this or that?" I would steer.  I wasn't winning them I was losing, they were growing distant in their diapers--lol.  How would I reel those babies back in?  I wouldn't.  I had to allow them to want to have a relationship with me instead of swat at me or curse me in their baby language.  They had to explore on their own while I watched.  The atmosphere was safe, locked, protected with every safety device I could find.  It was okay to play with their toys a bit longer.  It was okay for them to pick out their toys while we were out, eventually it became okay for them to put down the old toys and buy new ones--it was all so okay!  Why was I stressing myself out trying to manage everyone and everything?

Those babies got older, they had an opinion whether they cried or talked about it.  I didn't agree with their outbursts or their reasoning at times, but it was okay to listen.  I wasn't losing any authority as a parent.  They said they wanted to be friends with and go and visit a friend...I didn't need to pick who that friend might be by listing everything that might be wrong with Jane or John Doe.  It's okay.

Had I fought them on every thing they selected and yelled at them for everything they did that didn't reflect a good example of us parents, they wouldn't be the nice young men they are today.  Had I made every battle about me, they wouldn't be speaking to me rather they would be running far, far away.  Had I not permitted them to fly like eagles, they would hate me.

Parenting wasn't about me, it was about them, preparing them for life.  Most of the work had to come from them.  So, in some strange twisted way despite our not getting off to a great start, I am close to my children without being smothering close.  I am cool with my children without being immature.  We all are open to sharing our views whether we agree or not.

Yeah, selfish parenting is not the way to go, you have to give in order to receive: peace, patience, love and understanding.  I'm still learning.

Nicholl McGuire is the author of Tell Me Mother You're Sorry and When Mother's Cry.


The Widow's Oil - debt, God, resource

Moms We Guide Them to the Track but We Can't Run for Them - They will never learn if we do

Sometimes parenting is like running on a track, you win some and you lose some.  We hope that our children grow up and make us proud, but they have got to not only want to run the race but win too.  Even if they don't win, at least finish the race!


Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years - How I Avoided the Holidays for Over a Decade

You would think a wife and mother of four sons would be all in for the holidays year after year after year.   Throw in the in-laws and one's own family and now you have a cesspool of money spent, stress levels reaching unknown levels, and some of you all know the rest.  But I avoided all of that for over a decade and here's how I did it.

1)  I stated my thoughts about the holiday season and let people know upfront I didn't have the time or money to acknowledge their requests for gifts.  My reasons for not celebrating ranged from spiritual to financial.

2)  I didn't encourage my children to ask myself or others for gifts.  Why would I do that when I was already meeting their needs throughout the year?  If they wanted anything they could ask other times of the year rather than burden others during a time when they were already financially strapped.  Those narcissistic individuals could never blame us that we were selfish, ungrateful, greedy, or needy after the holidays like they did with others.

3)  I didn't accept invites to holiday gatherings nor did I volunteer my services when I knew full well that holidays wasn't my thing.

4)  I redirected my money toward bills that needed to be paid and timed large payments and payoffs accordingly so that I wouldn't be tempted to buy anything during the holiday season.

5)  I didn't spend my hard-earned money decorating the halls while the fathers (two) of my children held on to theirs for personal spending and retirement.

6)  I made no promises or commitment to anyone that I would be buying anything for them now or in the future.

7)  I made myself unavailable to receive phone calls near that time so that I wouldn't be guilted by the manipulative ones about being a Scrooge, mean or whatever other label they put on me.  Too much disrespect, so-called joking, and I cut them off.

You can utilize these tips and find peace for you and your household in the short and/or long term.  It isn't going to be easy implementing most of these tips in your life when you have already spoiled everyone with your gift-giving.  However, once you start setting boundaries early on, you will find that you aren't stressed like others during the holiday season.  Besides, one of the major things I did (save the best for last) was I prayed and allowed God to direct my steps.  Of course, you won't be immune to the holiday planning, gift-giving, and other things that occur year after year for always, but what you will escape is the drama and trauma brought on by self and others during the holidays because you simply choose to rise above it while moving far away from idol worship!

Happy holidays!

Nicholl McGuire


Halloween Fun and Foolishness

I didn't see puberty coming.  It came too fast! Two of my four sons are going through it.  From the cracking voices to the occasional comments about something changing, growing, aching, or downright annoying!  They are content one day seated in front of their gaming devices and angry the other wanting to beat each other up.  Dull days are few and far in between in my household especially this past Halloween.  The devil was busy!  Leading up to the holiday, the atmosphere seemed tense.  You felt like something was about to happen but you didn't quite know what it was.  The unseen and unexplained challenging moments in a day tend to show up sometimes with a clue to brace yourself, but not always those full blown signs to take cover.

Let me start by saying that Halloween is not a holiday I like or celebrate, but this year was different.  I felt pressured by the children the night before when they were rattling the door knob while I took a shower.  They were making random noises to jolt a scare.  These boys were all-too-excited for no apparent reason, and I simply didn't connect the dots at first, oh yea, Halloween.

Well, I wasn't taking their scare tactics lightly, oh no!  The tables were going to turn like they did on Friday the 13th back in 2017.  Back then they tried to scare me again, waiting for me to come out the bathroom while one son yelled at the door in a creepy voice, "Hey Mom, are you in there pooping, ha, ha, ha!"  You can check the short movie out, their fear was real, see here.  Well if I was, I wouldn't have a pleasant bowel movement of peace and quiet, now would I?  I came out that bathroom to a pitch black house just the light from the bathroom shined in the hallway.  Uh oh.  So they wanted to play games in the dark, well let's begin!  Let's just say by the time I was finished with them, they didn't try anything else again until this year.

October 30th I made sure that I moved through the house like a track star.  All lights cut off, doors semi-cracked, and the sounds of thumping and bumping with a periodic pause in between.  They thought they were ready for me with their creepy music and their flickering lights.  A loud "booh" and a scream, sent them running in the dark.  Of course, it was a dangerous game, someone could get hurt.  Well there was a lesson to be learned when a child attempts to scare his mother while at the same time just having fun.

I caught the youngest coming up the stairs.  I laid low and watched him through the staircase.  He looked up and there I was with a loud, "Booh!"  He tripped down the stairs and caught himself by catching the rail.  The middle son decided to boldly walk over to the basement door assuming that I may not be there, that was just too obvious so he thought.  He opened that cracked door, didn't he know from watching thrillers you don't go to a dark opened door?  There I was, "Booh!"  Shook him enough and he too took off running.  Then there was my second eldest standing at about 6'2" so he thought he had more courage than them all, well he didn't!  He practically knocked his brothers over running to the bathroom to lock himself in.  The eldest son wasn't a part of the action he has his own place now, "lucky" or I mean blessed for him--lol.

For years, I told these kids about Halloween, but sometimes you have to show them, better than you can tell them.  I'm grateful that no one got hurt.

Nicholl McGuire


When a Partner Doesn't Listen to Your Cry, Children Could Care Less

Ever been frustrated when attempting to communicate your concerns to a partner?  He or she shrugs, fakes interest, or responds in a tone that brings out the worse in you.  Meanwhile, children couldn’t care less that the dispute was instigated by what they said or didn’t do. 

No one heard the instruction, caution, or anger spewing out of your voice attempting to keep something from occurring days or even weeks prior.  The day goes on.  Mom is the crazy one and everyone else is sane.

When your family doesn’t hear you, there are times where you have to be like an annoying fly until they do.  Of course, they will want to do what they can to make you go away, but persistent moms get the job done.  Whether they post reminders all over the house, call twice a day plus send texts checking in on their troubled children, or stand in the living room with a bullhorn to get everyone to stop fighting, Mom knows that some activities require un-divided attention.  She may have to take children’s favorite items out of rooms in order for homework to be completed and cut off time spent with favorite relatives and friends until matters at home are addressed. 

When her relationship is begging for aid, Mom might go out of her way to change her entire appearance, cook a full spread meal, and purchase her husband’s favorite drinks just to say, “I love you!”  Her husband may be oblivious as to what is happening with her, at home and the children due to work obligations.  As crazy as some of this might sound, there just is no getting through to some people with tough personalities without some attention-grabbing action.  

Now you may not be like that over-the-top with getting results from your family, and the truth be told neither am I.  I am not the type who stands on a soap box yelling at the top of my lungs, wearing a Tutu trying to get my family to hear me.  Yet, whatever creative or not-so creative way you come up with, the objective Mom is to get someone in that house to hear your cry before you do something that you might later regret!

Many mothers are killing themselves softly inside, because they refuse to voice their concerns about things like: their children’s school progress, their husband’s infidelity, the busy-body in-laws, an addiction that has crept up out of nowhere, internal pain and suffering, etc.  These so-called Super Moms believe that by “keeping the peace” and balancing everything under the sun they are doing the right thing.  However, what they are really doing is building ticking time bombs on the inside.  If only some deceased husbands and babies knew before they were placed six feet down in their graves. 

What a mother chooses to do to communicate with her stubborn family members has to be attention-grabbing, functional, within reason, and most of all out of love.  Not only are you expecting your family to hear you, but you have to be willing to hear them too.  As I have said awhile ago, a lot of Moms are leaving this world before their partners.  They are exhausted with having to work jobs that they don’t like or require long hours, manage household, care for children, check on relatives, catch up with friends, run errands, follow-up with doctors, take prescription medicines, plan holiday events, and more.  They are running themselves ragged!

I shared with my children one day what I needed from them.  I repeatedly told them about chores, posted the lists where they could see them, and asked them about homework.  I reminded them of the consequences.  They have since had to learn the hard way.  I sat down with my husband on many occasions communicating my concerns about many things respectfully, angrily, and silently.  When issues aren’t addressed once again there are consequences.  As much as you don’t want to see any of your family members suffer, there comes a point where what you are feeling inside transfers on to them simply because there is an unwillingness to change.  There is more to life then one’s personal comfort, routine, and what he or she feels is “right” to them. 

Quality families are built on trust, communication, respect, and love.  Without these things, they are destined to fail.  I told my children one day, “When I walk out this room, I trust that you are going to do what I told you…I respect you, but I don’t like your not listening…I love you but I don’t have to like what you are doing.  If your brother (or anyone) is doing something you don’t like and after you told him and he is still doing the same thing, you come tell me and I will deal with him.”  They know not to keep things bottled inside, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the same thing.  Don’t be worried or fearful about irritating or angering one of your relatives because you need some cooperation from them!

Share your cry today with someone whether online or offline who needs to understand what is bothering you, why you aren’t your typical happy self, and what you might need to help you get through another day! 

Nicholl McGuire is the author of When Mothers Cry and Laboring to Love an Abusive Mate. 
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When Mothers Cry by Nicholl McGuire is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on book by Nicholl McGuire, When Mothers Cry.

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