Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Memorable Moments

Memorable Moments
Memorable Moments
As far back as I can remember I knew I wanted to have kids.  Yes, plural...kids.  Not just one kid, I wanted a bunch, and I wanted to fill their childhoods with memorable moments that they would remember when they had kids of their own.
I remember I was about 9 years old when we were moving from Quebec back to Toronto.  My mom had given me the task of packing my toys and books, and getting rid of anything that I didn't want any more.  It was funny because at the age of 9 I had already stopped playing with toys.  I was a tomboy.  We had a creek in the backyard to catch frogs and a field one block away to explore in.  I didn't need toys anymore.  I was surrounded by nature in this small town at the base of the Laurentian Mountains.  I played with the kids in the neighborhood and only had to go home when the street lights came on. It was a different world for parents.  No car seats to wrestle with.  No safety helmets for biking.  No cell phones.  Today, you couldn't pay me a million dollars to let my kids run wild like I did.  I want them wearing their helmets when they bike.  I want them in their car seats for as long as possible.  And I want to know where they are...all of the time...so they all have cell phones.  I really don't know how parents coped without cell phones.

After I had finished sorting all of my belongings, my Dad saw two neatly packed boxes.  One was marked "LITTLE KID TOYS" and the other "LITTLE KID BOOKS."  He asked if he should get rid of them.  I told him that I was keeping them for my children.  I was 9 years old and I already knew that I was having children, and that I wanted to save my toys and books for them.  These toys and books had special meaning and memories for me and I wanted to share them with my children.  I looked forward to it.

My Dad didn't actually believe that I meant when I said, so he gave my books and toys away.   A few years later I found my books at my younger cousin's house.  I was thrilled...at first.  When I went to look at my books I noticed that the pages had been scribbled all over and others had been ripped out.  When I had packed the books they had been in pristine condition, even though I had reread them numerous times.  It felt worse to see what my cousin had done to the books, than having them given away in the first place.

Many, many years later I was in an old book store with my boyfriend (pssst...he later became my husband) and I happened to see the set of books that I had put away for my (future) children over a dozen years before.  I was thrilled to see them but we were heading out to meet some friends, so we couldn't buy them that evening or we'd be stuck dragging them around all night.  We planned to pick them up a few days later, but sadly they were gone.  But not for long.  I received the books for my birthday!

We have read the whole set of books to each of our four kids, and passed along a memory that is infinitely better because it not only belongs to my childhood, but also that it was made possible because of my absolutely wonderful husband.
Pro-Active Parenting - Plan to avoid problems so you and your kids can be happier!
Pro-Active Parenting

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Where Can you Buy Unusual Gifts?

Where can you buy unusual and unique gifts?  Where can you buy a medieval helmet?  Where can you find a onesie pajama for a 15 year old?  Where can you buy a Sonic Screwdriver for the 10th Doctor Who?  Where do you go when you want to find a Jester Car Antenna Topper?  How do I find a replacement for a "lovey"  that was left on a bus?  
My go-to place for buying interesting and unique gifts is the internet.  I have been purchasing products online since 2001.  I started off with Ebay and I would look at Feedback scores and read comments to see if the sellers seemed trustworthy.  I could learn a lot about a seller this way.   In the beginning I only paid for my auctions with money order so there was no chance of having my credit information stolen.  I was a victim of identity theft in 1994 and I never wanted to go through that again.  I was extremely cautious.  As Paypal became more popular sellers stopped accepting money orders, so I started using Paypal regularly in 2007.  I have been pretty lucky because I only had a few transactions go awry.  If an item never arrived and  the seller wouldn't respond to my concerns I would open a dispute.  Paypal worked quickly and would refund my money in a relatively short time.  It has been wonderful because I feel that my credit is secure and if something goes wrong Paypal will work with me.  Feeling secure with online payments has allowed me to branch out from Ebay and start buying directly from online merchants. 

I have poked around on Amazon over the last few years but it was difficult because there weren't many sellers who would ship to Canada without charging exorbitant shipping charges...if they shipped to Canada at all.  Just a few weeks ago I tried to buy a Monty Python watch for my older son, and Amazon said they had several in stock.  When I clicked through none of the store-fronts had any in stock or they wouldn't deliver to Canada. It was very disappointing. 

bobby xmas.jpgOver the last few years I have purchased directly from several online retailers.  Recently I have purchased from Etsy, Best Buy, Future Shop, and a few other online stores.  In general I have had very good experiences.  I make sure to do a bit of research on the companies and read reviews about their customer service.  If people consistently say that they can't get help or make returns, then I don't buy from them.  There was one purchase that I made several years ago where I regretted not doing my research.  The seller took three months to ship it and it arrived a month after Christmas.  The warning signs were there, but I disregarded them because I was desperate for the item.  
My preference is to buy from Canadian retailers because the shipping charges are more reasonable, there are never any extra International charges tacked on, and returns are so much easier.  I also like to buy local and support Canadian artisans and small retailers.  

Buying online can be scary, but if you do your research, and purchase from reputable retailers you should be fine.  And when you get your packages in the mail, it's just like Christmas!

...until you have to rewrap them!