When gift giving is difficult or the recipients have lots of rules
Post ReplyPost New TopicPosted 11/16/2013 by Eleezybeth in NSBR Board
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Eleezybeth
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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:34:39 PM
My SIL has given a decree of what her children can and cannot have. For years, I've respected her wishes. She's the mom after all.

But, it is getting really old and the list of rules is getting longer and longer. The kicker for me is that she is also useless at giving ideas of what her kids can have. You only find out afterwards that you have been the reason a new rule was related. Her behavior is really starting to stress my mom out as she really can do nothing right. My brother is useless here so communicating with him is an absolute waste of time (yes, it has been broached.) Her kids are not encouraged to have a wish list and if you ask them what they want they stare at you like you asked them to name the 7 wonders of the world.

No gift cards or money because it sends the message "you couldn't take time to shop for them."
No "useless things." Things that have fallen into this category are Hot Wheels Tracks, Lincoln Logs, and stuffed animals.
No little pieces. No Legos, K-Nex. I got the snap circuits last year. Bad mistake.
No noise. Period. Apparently, the DS I gave nephew was a "horrible" choice because it makes noise. Sure you can turn it off or down, but it makes noise.
Electronics in general are frowned at. The passive aggressive note I received after the DS was "Now somebody should come teach him how to play it." I said, "take it to school." I hinted that a friend would teach him, but I honestly hoped it would get stolen or broken so I would stop hearing about how horrible a gift idea it was.
No "bright colors" this includes pink for the girl because pink is the most horrific color in the world and if the girl wears pink the sun will combust or some other tragedy.
"Nothing Santa would bring them." This is a biggie. She (nor did she allow the children) didn't speak to mom for about 6 months because of this rule violation. Anything that could be on a commercial at Christmas time is out. Or a big gift like a bike.

I've done a family gift in the past. That was deemed unworthy.

I should add, she gives my children a coloring book, a pack of crayons, a pair of Pjs and an ornament (she has given the oldest the same ornament 3 times. When asked she said she got them at a going out of business sale years ago and will be giving them until they are gone.)

I really wish I could explain all the little things she says or does that just sucks the joy out of gift giving. I'm just over it. This year, I'm going rogue as I've given up.

Anybody have somebody similar?

Frazzled Mom
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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:40:43 PM

she gives my children a coloring book, a pack of crayons, a pair of Pjs and an ornament


Your SIL sounds like a nightmare. Her poor kids! How about giving her children the same items as she gives yours, but tape money inside the coloring book or wrap one dollar bills around the crayons. Find pajamas with pockets and put money in there and tell the kids they're special wishing pajamas that come with money so you can buy something you're wishing for? Be creative, those kids probably need a little fun and whimsy in their holoday.



Gail

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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:43:38 PM
Gift her children the same thing she gifts yours.

Or screw the rules and buy what you want and let her bitch about it. It sounds like you will not be able to win.


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melanell
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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:43:42 PM
I was also going to suggest giving her kids the same things she gives to yours. Clearly she feels that those items are good gifts.

So go with it.



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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:43:54 PM
I recommend not getting them anything. Obviously they have all they need. Instead decide to take the money that you would spend on her family and her on yours and donate it to a charity.


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gritzi
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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:48:46 PM

Gift her children the same thing she gifts yours.


That is exactly what I would do.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:50:10 PM
I might just send them whatever I want. Or give them the junky crayons and slip them some money on the side. If SIL is going to complain, you may as well make it worth your time!


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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:54:29 PM
I would decide what kind of aunt I want the kids to remember me being.. and buy accordingly.

If you want to be remembered as the weird aunt but the kids the same gift she buys your kids. Or you can slip some cash in to make the gifts a bit cooler.

Or just buy something you think the kids will LOVE and torpedo the rules. The kids will remember when they grow up the fun you put into their play time.


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lucyg819
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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:54:37 PM
I think her twin sister used to be married to my brother. The good news is, eventually she will divorce your brother, and he can find a lovely, non-controlling second wife. With any luck, the kids will grow up to be as nice as my nieces have turned out, despite their psycho-bitch mom.

Sorry for being flippant. I just see so much I recognize in your story.


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megmc
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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:56:59 PM
My only rule was nothing with a battery. I would not buy batteries,cuz we just could not afford them.

Just buy some hats gloves and boots.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:57:13 PM
I think you should regift what ever she gave your kids last year.

Honestly under this situation I would just do gift cards and tell her that due to all her rules she left you with no choice.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:57:19 PM
I am on the bench with give them the same gifts she gives your kids.

Quiet, useful, and suits her rules.

And you have a couple of extra perfect ornaments, hand-picked by her.

Don't hide money in the gift. She may grab and toss or something.

Give it to them separately. If you think she will steal their money, take them out for a nice lunch and activity or give them money then.

Poor kids.

But then you don't have to hear about it.

Your mom should do the same.

And she won't have to hear about it, either.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:59:10 PM
What a rotten attitude she has. I'm so sorry you have to deal with her.

I too, would give her kids EXACTLY what she gives mine. As they get older, just get artist coloring pencils and a fancy art coloring book for adults. Or just a set of cool pens and a notebook. And like others, I too would stuff candy and money in the pockets of the pajamas. Unless candy is against the rules of course.

I mean, how can she complain? I know she says no money because she thinks it says you didn't shop for a gift, but she sure can't say that anymore if it's included in the EXACT gift she gives your kids. The money is just a bonus to the gift.

I'd do that, or I would just say "whatever" and get the kids something they would really like regardless, and learn to tune her out. She's manipulating and controlling the whole situation, first with the list, and then with passive-aggressive new rules and rude comments. It's working well for her because she has everyone anxious and on their toes. I would probably flip it back on her eventually and deal with the catastrophe later.

And no, I fortunately don't have anyone similar in my life. I'm sorry you do.


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Posted: 11/16/2013 9:59:34 PM
"Sorry we didn't get your family anything, but you've always told us the gifts weren't good enough, and we didn't want to break any rules."

Or, gifts just like she's given your kids in the past. Like, regift the same ornament back to her kids!

If you like giving gifts and want to take the high road, maybe experiences will be better received? Zoo membership, bowling trip, movie passes? How old are the kids? Maybe we can recommend magazines?

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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:01:35 PM
I would not follow all of those rules. I am fine with a few rules that make sense but sorry, that is too much. I would buy whatever I wanted to buy for them.


No "useless things." Things that have fallen into this category are Hot Wheels Tracks, Lincoln Logs

That's too bad that she thinks of these things as Useless toys. We gave our grandson an awesome set of Lincoln Logs for his birthday. They have become a "Living Room" toy and are played with almost every day. I "Living Room" toy is a toy that gets to live in the Living room instead of the bedrooms because it is used so much. All of the grandkids and parents love it!





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marycain
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:02:17 PM

Or just buy something you think the kids will LOVE and torpedo the rules. The kids will remember when they grow up the fun you put into their play time.


If her SIL is anything like my former SIL, the kids simply aren't allowed to play with any gift that doesn't conform to the "rules". In helping my brother pack up his belongings after he and his wife separated, I found most of the birthday and Christmas gifts I had sent the kids put up in a closet. Some had been unwrapped but never actually opened.

OP, I'm sorry, but in a situation like there, there's simply no way to win. I ended up giving subscriptions to children's magazines, books, and other educational gifts because those were the only things I could think of that fit her criteria.

SDeven
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:03:52 PM
Why why why would you continue to participate in this charade of affection? Just say no.

This woman has stingily sucked the life and joy out pf giving and receiving with her ungrateful twitfulness...it's time to grow a pair and shut her crappy behavior down.

What do you really have to lose?

If you live close or can go for a visit, maybe set up a time to take the children out to do something fun without their shrew mother...movies, sporting event, concert, ice cream...






Pretty In PeaNK

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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:04:12 PM

Or just buy something you think the kids will LOVE and torpedo the rules. The kids will remember when they grow up the fun you put into their play time.
This is pretty much what I was thinking. Screw the rules, or play nice and buy crayons.

Only you can make that call based on the family dynamic and the subsequential ramifications.


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kelly.8875
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:06:28 PM
Not sure how old the kids are, but I would buy them whatever I wanted, or whatever is popular for kids this age. Make sure there's a receipt attached, so an exchange can be made if needed. Feel free to tell the kids you weren't sure what they really wanted since there were no ideas given.

Don't be the weird aunt and re-gift/copy the gifts your kids have been given. Sure, it *might* send a message to the mom, but I highly doubt it. What it will say to the kids, is that it's weird... Be the aunt you want to be.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:07:57 PM
Thank FSM, I do not have anyone like that to buy for.

She sounds like a nightmare. I'd give her nothing at all, and either go rogue and buy whatever the hell you want for the kids, or get them a gift card. Eff it. She's impossible to please anyway, so you might as well make it easy on yourself.


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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:08:20 PM
I'd give the kids the gift of my time and take them out to do something special.


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Donna in GA
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:08:36 PM
One of the neatest gifts my sil and bil gave my boys was an outing with them. They took one son to the aquarium and the other one to the zoo. The boys loved being alone with their aunt and uncle.

mom2samlibby
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:15:11 PM
I would either give:

1.) Nothing

2.) The same gift she gives

or

3.) Savings bonds

Pretty In PeaNK

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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:15:55 PM

If her SIL is anything like my former SIL, the kids simply aren't allowed to play with any gift that doesn't conform to the "rules". In helping my brother pack up his belongings after he and his wife separated, I found most of the birthday and Christmas gifts I had sent the kids put up in a closet. Some had been unwrapped but never actually opened.


You know how throughout parenting you question yourself about whether or not you're doing a good job trying to raise well-adjusted, well-rounded children? I sometimes wonder if they watch too much TV, or if I read enough books to them, or if I was too harsh with a punishment.

But then I read crap like that, and see how many other people know mothers like that, and I realize I'm doing an alright job and my kids should be pretty grounded adults one day. I just can't wrap my mind around refusing to let your child open a gift unless it was age-inappropriate or dangerous.


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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:17:02 PM
buy whatever the hell you want and when she complains, look her stone cold in the face and say "I think the words you were looking for are 'thank you'"



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Eleezybeth
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:33:50 PM
Yeah... her kids "have enough" coloring books and crayons. Mostly because she buys extras when they are on sale for back to school. My mom is the book queen and all of the grandkids get a ton of books throughout the year. A comment was made about mom "forcing" them to have to own a bookcase. Books are the only thing my mom bucks the system for.


My only rule was nothing with a battery
Yes, this is on there as well. I get the cost of batteries and have respected that usually.


maybe experiences will be better received? Zoo membership, bowling trip, movie passes?
No.... because this requires effort on their part and extra cost I don't live close enough to take them myself. I did what I thought was a great gift that included movie tickets (general admission to any movie), a gas card and gift card for dinner. I was informed that any gift that required her to go without her permission was not appreciated. Mom is no longer allowed to drive them anywhere but she used to do the zoo for them and had to stop. No reason as to why she isn't allowed, just privileges revoked.


What do you really have to lose?
Me? Not much. So she trashes my gift or fusses passive aggressively at me. It is easy enough to ignore the adult acting like a child. I'm the only aunt so I'll always be the cool one. But my mom stands to lose a lot which stresses her out and it rolls down hill to me. She has already cut off contact multiple times.

Like I said in the OP, this year I'm going rogue. I haven't figured it out yet as to what, but I'm trying to find the trifecta. Pink Legos that make noise? Do they make those? Yet, it is stressful knowing that I'm bound to be starting something which isn't how I like to be treated. KWIM?

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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:37:51 PM


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marycain
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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:50:16 PM

this year I'm going rogue. I haven't figured it out yet as to what, but I'm trying to find the trifecta. Pink Legos that make noise? Do they make those?


There are Hello Kitty Lego and Duplo sets. They are very, very pink. You could add kazoos for the sound effects.


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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:55:16 PM
Go to the mall. Pick out tags from the giving tree that match your nieces/nephews' ages. Preferably, there are some kids asking for noisy pink legos. Fulfill the wishes. Take pictures of the toys and tags. Donate to the giving tree. Frame the pictures. Wrap the frames.

"Here are the battery operated pink legos that make noise that I WAS going to get you but your mother said they are not allowed. So I donated them to a needy child on your behalf instead. I'm very proud of your generosity."


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Posted: 11/16/2013 10:56:37 PM
A bank account you have control of, so the kids can have a down pmt on a car years from now


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Posted: 11/16/2013 11:18:42 PM
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Posted: 11/16/2013 11:35:28 PM

I haven't figured it out yet as to what, but I'm trying to find the trifecta.


My BIL has given my kids buckets of bubble gum, toy drumsets and tambourines, whistles and tubs of green slime. Any of those should push your SIL over the edge. Although I would have liked to smack him over the head and ask him what the heck he was thinking, I just said a gracious thank you and allowed the kids to use their gifts as they wished.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 11:38:01 PM
All kids love slime. Definitely do slime.

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Posted: 11/16/2013 11:45:04 PM
Make sure you put their gifts in a gift bag with some sort of Christmas confetti. I'm sure she'll LOVE that!

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Posted: 11/16/2013 11:47:58 PM
The saddest thing is that those poor kids are suffering because their mother is a bitch. I would plan to take then to the zoo or amusement park.



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Posted: 11/16/2013 11:53:01 PM
What are the ages & genders of the children? Perhaps we could brainstorm gift ideas.


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PinkShirley
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Posted: 11/17/2013 12:13:20 AM
I would tell SIL she can "stick it" and give the kids totally obnoxious and messy gifts - the more the better. That's just how I roll. My sisters always hated me but the kiddos adored me.

This year have your Mom give them Rainbow Looms. She can stay safe with that.

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Posted: 11/17/2013 1:18:24 AM
Wow I thought my SIL was bad, this makes me a little less annoyed with her!! So sorry for you though!

My SIL has to tell you what to get but because she wants to give my nephew everything, there is nothing left. He loves Legos but there are none left to buy, I do give gift cards because that is what I am told to get. He knows I love him so I do not worry he will think I just did not bother shopping for him!


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anniebygaslight
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Posted: 11/17/2013 1:34:44 AM
All of the above, so long as it is cheap, nasty and very noisy! Or nothing at all.


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Posted: 11/17/2013 1:35:39 AM


Those are just an impossible set of rules. How in the hell are you meant to know what Santa is bringing?

You gave her kids a DS and she gives your kids the same fairly cheap present year after year? I can understand someone not having the budget to replicate the gift they are given, but by buying the same gift each year she puts in no effort herself, the very thing she critical of. What a hypocrite.

I would be tempted to give her kids the same thing she gives yours, but I have been bigger than that in the past. I have some very well off relatives give my children cheap gifts year after year but I was the bigger person and continued to give their children generous gifts.

It would be nice if you continued to be generous with your gifts, but frankly her rules are ridiculous unless you are part mind reader.

I think the only thing you can do is give what you want and ignore her ridiculous complaints.

Darkangel090260
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Posted: 11/17/2013 1:51:21 AM
I Would hunt Craigslist for the biggest Drum set I could fine and set up music lesson that come to there house.


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Posted: 11/17/2013 1:52:58 AM

buy whatever the hell you want and when she complains, look her stone cold in the face and say "I think the words you were looking for are 'thank you'"







That woman would drive me nuts!! I can only imagine she's like that with everything in her life!!!


Nicole

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Posted: 11/17/2013 3:15:41 AM
I'm dying to know: Why is she such a control freak? Is she nuts about neatness? She just hates your side of the family?

I'm trying to figure out her motives. That type of person just boggles me. Like, it didn't occur to her to get her kid headphones for the DS? Complaint that someone buys the kids soooooooo many books? What?

If she's nutty about neatness, I love the confetti idea.

But I agree that, if it doesn't conform to her rules, the kids may not even receive the gift.


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sharonmnc
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Posted: 11/17/2013 5:05:21 AM

Instead decide to take the money that you would spend on her family and her on yours and donate it to a charity.
A gift to the Human Fund. (Seinfield fans?)

Your brother needs to grow a pair. She shouldn't be allowed to treat his family like that. Cutting off her kids kids from their grandmother? Unacceptable.

Unused presents? My MIL has a closet full of them. She has a lot of rules, too, but she doesn't get huffy. She just never uses anything we give her. Ever. I guess she's just lost her title as the world's worst gift recipient. I feel for you. It's stressful and sucks the joy out of buying anything if you know it isn't going to be right.


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Posted: 11/17/2013 6:22:20 AM

Passive-Aggressive Holiday Gifts for Kids of Parents You Hate


Is it bad that my children have been given many of the gifts on that list? Actually, some were bought by me and some were actually on their Amazon wish lists (like that voice changer).

Sorry you are going through this OP. My SIL was like that in the beginning with her kids. We could only buy what she put on their lists. She has gotten better over the years but the first few years with my niece were gift-giving hell.


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Onekwa
StuckOnPeas

PeaNut 194,574
March 2005
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Posted: 11/17/2013 6:33:19 AM

she gives my children a coloring book, a pack of crayons, a pair of Pjs and an ornament (she has given the oldest the same ornament 3 times
Sorry, haven't read any of the replies or any comments you may have made after the OP, but I say do this. Or give them a book. The same book every year, because you bought them at a going out of business book sale, and you will give them until they are all gone.

I say all that in jest. I would hate for your nieces and nephews to be out of a decent present because of their mom. Your SIL is a bitch, plain and simple! Those poor kids will be in therapy for many years. But yeah, pj's, a book and an ornament. Or socks and underwear. Or tell your sister in law off face to face. Tell her to stop being a Grinch and allow her children to be children.




ctab
PeaNut

PeaNut 582,980
March 2013
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Posted: 11/17/2013 6:41:43 AM
I am still trying to wrap my head around how Lincoln logs are useless.

If they aren't too old I would go for wooden toys. Plan toys and Melissa and Doug both make some great wooden toys. The wooden wagon carries amazing wooden toys, but they are pretty pricy. Good gifts that I think would fit most of her rules.

MommaHo
PeaFixture

PeaNut 89,251
June 2003
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Posted: 11/17/2013 6:42:10 AM
I'm sorry you are going through this - buy what you want and give your time. The kids will remember how you treat them and spend time with them more than the gift.


Linda - aka MommaHo/Grams
Keep Calm and Carry On

ExpatInIndia
PeaAddict

PeaNut 154,780
June 2004
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Posted: 11/17/2013 6:56:12 AM
Do you live close enough that you could take them somewhere fun for an afternoon instead of gifts? Bowling? Baseball game? Movie? Or something.


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Woobster
The Banana Under the Couch Pea

PeaNut 295,941
February 2007
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Posted: 11/17/2013 7:09:11 AM
I buy my nephews whatever the heck I want to.

I always ask for suggestions, and I really do try to buy them things that I think they would like. It's nice if I can find something that is useful and educational, but sometimes the useless is more FUN!

I don't do demands or rules.

buy whatever the hell you want and when she complains, look her stone cold in the face and say "I think the words you were looking for are 'thank you'"

Exactly!
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