Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Recents (an Update on Life)


Figured I would update you all a bit.


Sorry I have not been here much. BUT. HUSBAND IS FINALLY BACK!!!! He finished up the semester, and now we are on track to apply for dental school, go to Japan (this summer) and other things. FINALLY.



Basically, my life has been occupied with him, baby, family, and baby. Squishy is growing up so fast! She eats rice cereal, multigrain, carrots, and butternut squash. She giggles more often now. And recently she has found that she likes screaming. Like happy screaming (most of the time). She thinks she can speak dolphin. I am just worried about what all that happy screaming is going to be like when we go to church Easter Sunday -_-



She also has found out how to stick things into her mouth. She has this cute banana thing from Japan that she holds and chews on. She loves rubbing it on her gums and having it make a squeaking sound. I have also found that the Oball products are some of my favorites. They are so easy for her to grab, and they are perfect little rattles. She also loves sticking her tongue into every. Single. Hole. (what a weirdo).



She loves baby chicks, baby ducks, and basically all animals. Right after this video, I had to put away the duckling, and she got so mad. She wanted to keep petting it.







She is so fat, her legs can’t fit through the bumbo seat. We sort of have to push her down in there, and then when we go to take her out, we have to pop out her legs, and then pick her up. Otherwise, the chair would come with.



I am trying to get more stuff up on the YouTube channel. iMovie stopped working for me on my computer, so I got a new (although still cheap) program. Going to see if siblings can help me create some new content (most likely music and dorky dance moves will be involved).



Prison Break is back! I stayed up late one night to watch the first episode with husband, and I fell asleep. I WAS SO TIRED! Somehow it is more tiring to have husband here than it is to take care of baby by myself all night. Maybe it is just having another person to worry about and take care of or something.



Bones is over :( I loved that show, and I am so sad it is over, although it did end very well. I guess I will have to find another awesome crime show to occupy my time. Any recommendations?



Going jeans shopping is tough. Pregnancy really does affect your body. I went back to my pre-pregnancy weight super fast, but my hips did not return to normal size… So I went up a few pants sizes. It was rough to get over, but after going jeans shopping, and finding pants that actually fit (and didn’t create that awful muffin top) was pretty great.



Drawing has also been fun, and I have been doing TONS <3 <3 I love it! It is fun and relaxing, and it is great seeing what creations come out onto my iPad.











  So how about you guys, anything to update me on? Any ideas of what you want to see for YouTube videos or even blog posts? Also, any tips for taming a screaming-for-fun 4-month-old (almost 5 months - EEK)?


Everyday Joey

Friday, March 17, 2017

10 Things That Made Me Happy This Week

It has been a while since I have put together a list of what makes me happy - probably before the birth of my little monkey. Hopefully, I stick to doing this once a week at least, but we will see. Life has a way of throwing all sorts of distractions and chaos our way.


 

  1. 10 Things That Made me Happy This Week - Everyday Joey - LinkupMy Little One - She was a handful at first, and has taken some time to get used to. But now, I have no idea what I would do without her cute talking and smile to wake me up in the morning. It makes me so happy to see her. She is amazing.

  2. Breakfast Essentials - Without this powder stuff (and milk) I would probably be dead. It is impossible for me to eat a meal most of the day, so I survive off of these. Doesn’t help it just tastes like chocolate milk.

  3. Gilmore Girls - Without them, I would not be able to stay awake for midnight/3am feedings. And this show makes me happy. So happy. I hope baby and I are like them someday.

  4. AnyTrans computer program - This one is HUGE for me right now. My phone (because of baby) is fulllllll of photos and videos. I am constantly trying to create space on my phone so I can take even more, but no matter what the space is always full. And since I have Apple products, I am kinda stuck on their system (which has really started to annoy me). Almost all of my photos are stuck on ICloud (over 10,000 photos), and it is impossible to take them off unless you do it one by one. But this program was able to get those photos for me and free up over half the space on my iPhone. YAY! MORE PICTURES OF BABY!!!! (The important things in life)

  5. Technology - It amazes me how much technology has improved in my lifetime. It is so easy to access information and learn things. I can study Japanese from multiple websites online, and I can write a blog, watch videos almost anywhere… it’s amazing.

  6. Blankets - All week, I have been walking around with the blanket. I don’t know about you, but I think that always being warm, especially while covered with a huge, soft blanket - is one of the best feelings ever.

  7. Baby Swings - I would not have been able to survive Daylight Savings without one.

  8. FaceTime - I wouldn’t be able to see my husbands face with just a phone call. It is nice that his cute smile is just a phone call away when I (or baby) need it.

  9. Peppermint Oil - I have a HUGE fear of spiders, and just the other day, I found a HUGE one on my bed. After its death, I have been spraying my room down with peppermint oil water whenever I get the chance (it’s supposed to repel spiders). I have seen NONE so far! *happy dance*

  10. Costco - They have cheap baby formula, and samples, and yummy pizza, and just lots of cool stuff.


 

What are some things that made YOU happy this week?

~Everyday Joey~

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

From Student Visa to Green Card - Our Story

Please know this is my experience, and how this works is not the case with everyone - and I am no professional on this subject.
Student Visa to Green Card - Everyday JoeyThis is our journey of applying for Permanent Residency (aka Green Card), from him already having a Student Visa (F-1) for attending an university in the United States. In our case, Husband was applying for Permanent Residency through a family member (Me, his spouse).

 

*In order to go through this process (and to not get you in big trouble) the marriage has to be a real one, not one that you got for the purpose of getting a green card.*

 

Husband is Japanese. He and I met while we were attending college in Idaho, where we dated for a while. About a year later while I was visiting Japan, we decided to get engaged. Six months later we got married. All during this process, we were attending college, and he was on an F-1 Student Visa.

Husband, if he had never met me, was happy to have lived his life in Japan (we often talk of just moving, because we both love it, and a lot of his family is still there). Neither of us had ever thought of marrying foreigners before, so this came as a pleasant surprise to both of us. Years later, however, we joke often about him “just marrying me to get a green card” although that is in no way true.

 

So to go this route, your marriage has to be:



  1. A real marriage (with a marriage certificate that you can pick up from the courthouse), not just for getting permanent residency in the United States.

  2. Still ongoing (not divorced, still living together, etc)


 

*Also, it is important that after your marriage, and before getting Permanent Residency in the U.S, that you do not leave the country. Traveling can cause big problems, unless you are part way through the application, decided to complete form I-131, and received your travel document. *

 

To apply for Permanent Residency, it costs about $1,600 total.


At the time we were poor college students with no jobs, and he, because of his Student Visa was only able to get a job on the college campus (only allowed to work no more than 15 hours/week). So coming up with the money took some time, while also taking 18 credits each.

 

Our school was a huge help with the application process. I am not sure if all schools are this way, but ours has an office specifically for the use of International Students. We went in there and asked what we should do to get started, and they handed us a magical paper with the whole process on it. Sadly, we no longer have this paper… but this schools International Services website has a page pretty darn close. https://internationalservices.byu.edu/content/f-1-pr

Like it says on that page, the forms/documents needed for applying are:



  • I-130 - Petition for Alien Relative (for this one, you need to send $420 with it)

  • I-131 - Application for Travel Document (optional, but nice to have in case there is some sort of emergency and you have to go out of country)

  • G-325A - Biographic Information (one is for you, and the other is for your spouse) (has lots of information like your previous residences, income, etc)

  • I-485 - Adjustment of Status Application (this is the pricey one - you send $1,070 with this one…)

  • I-693 - Medical Examination Form

  • I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization (also optional - but like the Travel Document - it gets sent to you before the application is complete, so it allows you to work outside of the University Campus without an actual Green Card. This was nice for us because he could get a more full-time job while on Spring/Summer break)

  • I-864 Affidavit of Support (with this you need to include a copy of the latest tax return, along with previous year’s W-2s)


 

In addition to these documents, you basically have to make copies of your existence (you and your spouse). You need:



  • Birth Certificates (I believe you need them for whoever completes your affidavit of support as well)

    • If there are any foreign Birth Certificates, you need to get a certified translation (this we did through our school's International Office, because there was one kind gentleman who knew Japanese and was certified to do so)



  • Your U.S. Citizen spouse needs to provide proof of citizenship

    • We provided my birth certificate, but you can also bring Naturalization documents, Citizenship Certificate, or a Green Card if you have those instead.



  • Marriage License (we easily got this through our local courthouse where we applied for the Marriage License in the first place)

  • Proof of legal entry into the U.S. (Passport, Visa..)


 

Also, the money needs to be sent in check or money order form. And do not group the amounts into one check.

*Make sure you do not send originals of anything. Always copies.* (the immigration official at our interview told us this)

 

We completed all of this really quickly and sent it in, and it did not take long after for them to contact husband through mail asking him to complete the biometrics (fingerprinting, photo, etc). So he went to the location at the time given and completed that.

Not to long after completing that, we received an appointment for an interview at an immigration office a few hours away (we also were living in Idaho, so if you live in a city, yours will probably be a lot closer). They asked us to bring all the proof of our marriage (rental agreements, car insurance papers in both of our names, pictures showing the legitimacy of our marriage - just everything you can think of that proves your marriage, to cover all your bases). And we drove to the location at the time they appointed.

The gentleman at the interview was kind, he looked through the photos I brought, and took a few that he thought fit what he needed (I brought a humongous stack of photos). He also took the copies of our rental documents, bills, marriage certificate, and everything else he thought he needed. He asked us just polite conversation questions (maybe part of the interview, but it was smooth enough that it sounded like a normal conversation). It wasn’t at all a scary “The Proposal” type interview from the movie.

After the interview, I would say it took a month or two to get the Green Card in the mail. Funny thing for us is three letters came from USCIS at the same time - the Green Card, the Travel Document, and the Employment Authorization… so taking the time to apply for those didn’t do us much good. But at least we got the Green Card quickly, so it didn’t matter.

 

A few things that I found helpful:



  • Getting a portable file folder thing (about $5 through Amazon - Affiliate link btw)

    • In this, I created different sections: Proof of Marriage, My documents, Husbands documents, sponsors documents, as well as sections for each form. In the back, where there were a couple empty pockets, I used it to store the papers we received from USCIS during the application process.



  • Taking advantage of Snapfish, and Shutterfly’s free photo deals.

    • On both of their websites, they have a deal that when you sign up you get 100, or 50 free photos. This came in handy when I needed all of the photos printed up to provide proof of our marriage (and the leftovers went into scrapbooks).



  • Keep the papers that the USCIS send you along with the green card.

    • It says on the paper, but they can help with your next application, so it goes a little smoother. With a long and kinda scary process of applying for a Green Card, it is nice to have anything to make it a little easier.




 

This only gets you a Green Card that is good for 2 years (just so they can make sure the marriage is real, and not just made so the immigrant and get a Green Card), and then you need to reapply. That is another story, for another post…

 

Here are some websites that may also help you with this process:


USCIS (The Obvious - They give super in-depth instructions, but sometimes are so complex that they are hard to understand): https://www.uscis.gov/family/family-us-citizens/spouse/bringing-spouses-live-united-states-permanent-residents

BYU International Services (where I got most of my resources from, in addition to my own experience): https://internationalservices.byu.edu/content/f-1-pr

There are also sooooo many forums out there on this topic. I scanned these a ton whenever I had some confusions. It was helpful to have real - life responses to my concerns and questions.

I Married an Alien - This blog has lots of little resources and tips from her and her husband’s story: http://www.imarriedanalien.com/?paged=2 (also just has tons of information on an international/intercultural marriage as well - and all the hassles and questions you may run into)

 

I hope this helps! Please ask any questions you may have, and I maaaay be able to answer, and if not, at least point you in the right direction. (USCIS is probably the best place to go because they are the ones deciding your fate)


 

~Everyday Joey~


 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Uncontrollable Laughter

Have you ever laughed really really hard,  that you can’t control yourself and you can’t stop?


Then when you finally stop, you look at your friend you are laughing with and you burst out laughing all over again.

When I was a kid it always happened to me at times when I was supposed to be quiet. During class, during a presentation, during a prayer. I would hold my breath and try to get the next outburst of laughter to stop (or at least wait until I got to a more appropriate place) and it would never hold in quite long enough, and it would instead come out in a gigantic snort/laugh/giggle/gasp for air.

I love laughing like that. Although it is awkward, and sometimes incredibly inappropriate. For example: during class, during a presentation, and during prayer (reason 4,882,673 why I am surprised I am not cast down to hell yet).

As you get older, it seems these moments happen less and less, but luckily - they still do (at least with me).


There are times when Husband and I are laying in bed, and I say something I think is really funny, maybe Husband just weakly laughs at it, but then I somehow cannot stop laughing. My laughter makes him laugh, and then I stop, our breathing steadies, but then I start laughing again. This can go on for 20 minutes in a pitch black room, and Husband starts telling me to stop laughing between laughs. Our sides hurt, and we are out of breath from laughing so hard. But I. still. can’t. stop.

I love Husband’s laugh. It is kinda rare to hear it but to hear it happening so much, and almost this fear behind his voice of not being able to control it, and like he doesn’t know what crazy laughing demon has possessed his body… makes me giggle more.

It’s hard for me to stop in these times, partly because just a little thought gets me laughing again… but also because I am SO happy, and I know he is so happy that I don’t want the moment to stop.

Honestly, I think the only way I stop laughing when this happens is when I fall asleep x_X

Laughing - Please Excuse my awkwardness

Sometimes I wonder how long I continue laughing after I have fallen asleep… Hopefully I don’t because that would be embarrassing...

Currently, Husband and I are miles apart as he finishes one class at college and I stay with family. Every day I miss moments like this and being able to see his smile (and sometimes, even my own).

Find something that makes you laugh that hard today, although embarrassing and awkward, and share that moment with someone. <3


~Everyday Joey~


 

To buy products with the drawing (ex: stickers, phone/laptop cases, mugs...) use this link: https://www.redbubble.com/people/everydayjoey/works/25420679-please-excuse-my-awkwardness?asc=u

Monday, January 16, 2017

Baby Squishy's Birth Story

*Warning, many birth TMI details and such.... Nothing horrible, but still.
In Mid-November, I went to the doctors for my 38-week appointment. Due date was coming up in a couple weeks, but a baby is considered “full-term” (37 weeks, baby after this point is considered fully developed so can be born without complications). When I got there, I did the normal blood pressure, weighing me, and peeing in a cup, then got into my actual doctor's appointment. He asked me what I thought about getting induced. I hadn’t really thought about it because I thought I was going to give birth at any time already since I felt like my pelvis has been ripping into two for the last two months.

 

It took me a minute to respond, because I know I was wanting to have a natural birth if I could (without an epidural) and I had heard that getting induced, the Pitocin makes the contractions more painful - so it would make it even harder for me to obtain that goal of a natural birth. Also, I knew that Husband had to stay at school for another semester to finish up classes, and since we could not find any affordable housing together, we chose for me to return home to Washington State while he stayed here all the way in Idaho to finish up school. This is going to be tough on both of us, and he really wants to spend time with the baby as much as possible before that happened.

 

Since the demand for inductions is high, I set an appointment for one, that could be canceled at my next doctor's appointment if I chose to do so.

 

I went home and asked husband what he thought, and what all was going through my head. We chose to stick with the induction date, so we could spend as much time as possible together as a family before being separated for a couple months... but we hoped that she would come naturally before then, but if not… oh well.

 

I waited a week, went to my doctor's appointment, and told him the induction was a go (because she is stubborn and decided not to come out yet like we were hoping - even though I was doing TONS of squats, walking, had my doctor strip my membranes, and basically everything else to possibly induce labor on my own). He gave us a paper with the hospital number to call at 5:30 am to see when we should come in on that day.

 

Then came the waiting game. I set my alarm for 5:30 the next morning, and once I woke up, I gave the hospital a call. They said to get some more rest and to call back at 9:30 -_- At 9:30 I called back and then they said they would call back at 12. Around 1 pm when they hadn’t called yet, I decided to call, and they told me that things were set for me to come in at 2:30 unless they called and told me otherwise.

 

Around 2 pm, my Mom, Husband and I decided to head out and grab some quick food on the way to the hospital, and my “last supper” (because we had no idea how long my delivery would last) - and I got a Wendy’s chocolate Frosty and some fries … so healthy :D

 

We got to the hospital around 2:20, and my mom and I could tell that husband was nervous as heck. He was forgetful, and he looked constantly like a deer in the headlights. We even forgot something once we got in the hospital doors, so he said he would go grab it from the car - and he went down a random hallway instead of the doors we just walked through, then a few minutes later he came running back from that random hallway and then went out the doors and out to the car. Poor guy. He was a thousand times more nervous than I was… and I was surprisingly calm. (except just his reaction was making me kinda anxious)

 

When he got back, we headed up to the Labor and Delivery floor, got checked in and got brought to our delivery room. It was suuuppper nice, with a huge flatscreen TV and a Jacuzzi tub right next door to labor in (since my water was getting broken right away I wasn’t allowed to use it, sadly.)

 

After they had me put on the cute robes that tie in the back, I got all cozy in the hospital bed. At 3 pm my doctor came and checked my dilation (still a 3), broke my water, and then said they could start me on the Pitocin.

 

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmThe Pitocin (started at 3:45 pm) took a little bit to kick in. It didn’t take long for me to feel like I was sitting on a tennis ball stuck in my butt hole (really, though, that's what it felt like), and I can only assume that was me dilating and the baby's head getting lower. It made it so uncomfortable to sit, so I asked for a birthing ball… which I couldn’t even sit on either. So I just stood because that at least (mostly) eliminated that uncomfortable feeling. I had no idea how I was going to eventually get back into the bed to give birth to this little baby with it feeling so uncomfortable to even lightly be sitting on my bum. It didn’t take very long before I went from wanting to go naturally to crying while my husband held me and I was asking for an epidural (about 5:45 pm).

 

Now waiting for an epidural was fuuuuunn. Because of the Pitocin, contractions had barely any break between (I would say about 30 seconds) and were freakishly strong. The anesthesiologist came and started talking about the procedure he was going to do, while the nurse was having me fill out paperwork. With the contractions, and having to let go of my husband for the moments to sign a paper, or even to stop to talk with the nurse to answer questions… I wanted to cry, and even at times yell because they were making me do so many things while I was in so much pain with limited movement. I don’t cry in front of people (except my husband and my mom), so that was really really hard not to cry in front of the nurses while feeling so frustrated while being in so much pain.

 

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmThe anesthesiologist was funny though. He made me laugh a little bit, which helped the mood and helped me relax (because honestly, more than giving birth - I was even more scared of getting an epidural). The pain of the contractions was bad, and I was shaking a lot because I was scared of the epidural, and I felt weak for giving in and not going naturally like I was wanting to. I honestly felt like such a sissy and was a little ashamed of myself.

 

However, getting the epidural was super easy. It took a while for it to kick in, but once it did - all the pain and the uncomfortable feeling was gone. And it was a much more amazing and peaceful experience after that.

 

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmBut then I could only eat/drink ice chips. -_- BUT. They had mango syrup on them, which was DELICIOUS.

 

The doctor came in shortly after and checked my dilation and found out I was a 9. He was impressed.

 

The whole time he was telling me I would be in labor for 17 hours or so, because that was typical of a first birth, and probably overestimating to make me prepared as well. My mom had 3-5 hour births, and I told him that and he still said (back at the doctor's office) that my labor would most likely be 17 hours.

 

Nope, we were at 4 hours and almost done.

 

The nurse had me start pushing (7:50 pm). She held one leg, and husband held the other. And my mother manned the camera while feeding me mango ice chips.

 

Pushing on an epidural is weird… you can’t feel yourself pushing, so you feel like you are trying to push out a poop, but you don’t even know if that is what you are doing because you can’t feel a thing. The one thing you can feel is your face, and I felt like my face was the only thing doing all the pushing. It was super weird, and I felt like I looked SUPER funny, and like all the blood vessels were breaking in my face or something (my husband told me afterwards that he was surprised he didn’t see any broken - I guess he was thinking about that too… maybe I did look that funny -_- ).

 

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmThey helped me push the baby until its head was right by the outside, then they called the doctor. Once the doctor got there I started pushing again. I thought husband would be scared by the whole thing (and never touch me again) but he was suddenly so interested and involved in the whole process. He even watched the baby’s head come out (where I couldn’t ever want do that… hahaha). Apparently, the baby was having a hard time making an exit at the beginning, so the doctor had to do an episiotomy, and once he finished, the baby practically came flying out (Born at 8:30 pm!).

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmThey had me do skin to skin first thing. They put her up near my face, so all I could see was her back, even though I was really wanting to see her beautiful face. Eventually, they took her to weigh and measure her, and then brought her back for me to feed her.

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden Axthelm

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden Axthelm

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmShe ate so well, and I finally got to see her face. She was so swollen and puffy - especially her eyes, but still so beautiful.

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmBirth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmIn order for me to move to the recovery room, I need to be able to lift my legs and take a shower. I thought I could, but my legs were way too numb, that the nurse decided to give me a sort of sponge bath in the bed, and then somehow get me in the wheelchair. By the way, moving your legs, and putting any weight on them while they are still numb is the weirdest sensation in the world. Sort of like floating and falling… It is kinda confusing, and scary feeling.

 

When I got to the new room, the nurse had to help me go to the bathroom (this whole birthing experience is very humbling by the way..). It took me a good ten minutes to even figure out how to go pee because everything was so numb, but I DID IT!!! They gave me good painkillers when I got back to bed (because of the crotch pain I started to feel, and the awful cramps from my uterus shrinking when I breastfed as well).

 

It was hard to have the baby sleep in the hospital baby bed because she was so far away, so I slept with her in my bed most of the night. Still, I found myself waking up every little bit to see if she was still breathing, and to just look at her beautiful face. 

 

My husband was super active in being a father and would take her right after I fed her and burp her. I never had to change a diaper while in the hospital either, because he would take her and change it right away when it was needed (he is a keeper, and seriously an amazing father so far… he does everything and loves it). It is so obvious that this little girl has stolen his heart. The nurses even made points to mention how involved of a father he is, because every time they came into the room he would be holding or burping the baby, and would always offer to take her while they were checking my vitals and such. They said that it isn’t often that the dads are like that.

 

Even though we decided on a name beforehand, and basically had no backup… I still wasn’t convinced. I told husband that I needed to sleep on it, and I would tell him what her name was for sure in the morning.

 

Sure enough, by morning - the name fit and we stuck with it. :)

 

Birth Photography - Everyday Joey - Aiden AxthelmI was, and am still so amazed that my body could create such a beautiful human being. That my husband and I made the choice to bring her here, and she came right away. She is such a beautiful symbol of the love that we share, and the hard times we have gone through and conquered in the last year. I couldn’t help but think of how she waited for us, waited to come here, and now is finally a part of our family.


 

~Everyday Joey~


 

*photo credit - My mother, Aiden Axthelm

 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids (That Aren't Toys)

Christmas is a great time for giving and receiving gifts. When you are a kid, it seems like you often get lots of toys - and a lot of the time you even forget about some that you received shortly after Christmas when the excitement wears off. This leads to mounds of toys that just make a mess. Toys and things aren’t all that bad - we do need some things in our lives just simply for fun, but perhaps there are other things we can gift our kids as well that allow for memories, education, and experiences that are not so easily forgotten.


So here are my ideas :)

 

Christmas Gift Ideas For Kids - everydayjoeyMuseum Passes


If there is a local museum, especially a kid friendly one (like the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington - or a children's museum in your town) It would allow them to go often and learn every time they go. They can get out their energy among the exhibits and learn along the way.

 

Amusement Park pass


Especially if you live by Disneyland, this would be a real treat. I know growing up, going to an amusement park, water park, or even the fair was the most fun thing in the world. Kids love those things, and can be there all day and work out all of their energy and come home with lots of fun stories and most likely a day they will never forget.

 

Pass to a Local Athletic Club/Gym/Fitness Class


Encouraging activity in young kids is great! And it hopefully will give them those habits for later in their lives. Maybe the local gym has access to a “free swim” that the kids can take advantage of or a Zumba class they can participate in. There are lots of fun and healthy options there.

 

Some Sort of Subscription


Whether it be a Magazine, or those new fantastic “box” subscriptions (Snacks - Graze, Makeup - Ipsy or Birchbox ($10 a month, shipping included - great price for a bag and five items of makeup)… etc) They are a fun and awesome gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

 

Craft/Art Items


Sure, this can be messy, and add up over time - but it also encourages creativity. And with a lot of these items (depending on what you get) can be used from childhood into adulthood. They can learn new skills, and even create gifts for others. Or even learn how to create something so well they can sell it on Etsy!

 

Coupon Book


I know every Christmas and birthday I used to put one of these together for my parents. They would consist of backrubs or doing an extra chore without complaint. But they can be made for kids too. You could put in there “Free date with mom or dad,” “get out of chore free,” “Your favorite meal for dinner (must have a couple days notice).” A great gift because it gives the kids the freedom of little ways to make their home/family life a little easier or more enjoyable.

 

Lessons


You can sign them up for some sort of art class, piano lessons, sports team, martial arts, a yoga class (as long as they are something they have been interested in). The gift also allows them to be active, creative, and learn a new skill.

 

A Library Card


Depending on if you are inside or outside city limits - this can come at no cost to you. Your city library should have lots of resources that a kid can enjoy. Clubs, storytime, the internet, computer access, movie rentals, books (obviously), magazines, a quiet place to study and read, among other things are stuff a library can provide for free. Since there is often one in every town, they can be fairly accessible to the child if they choose to go there often.

 
I am all for kids learning, being creative, and learning how to be independent. Instead of just giving them toys to play with and grow out of - giving them new learning experiences, memories and skills are way more important - and also memorable!

 

Hope you can use one or two of these ideas this Christmas!

Everyday Joey


 

*post contains affiliate links

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