Gift Guide for Little Girls

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I met Lou my first day of 6th grade.  We had both just started middle school at Chinese International School.  She had moved to Hong Kong from Taiwan because of her Dad’s job and I had had moved a few years earlier because of mine.  Lou and I were assigned to the same homeroom and her, Karen, and I immediately became best friends.  Not much has changed since then.

Growing up in an international school full of expat kids, it’s normal for friendships to have a shelf life.  With our parents’ jobs moving families around constantly, friendships could start and end as quickly as one began.  Lou moved to LA before high school started and despite the distance and time between us over the years, we managed to stay close and connected for all the important moments that life brought us. Like these 3 adorable kids.


Lou is now mother to 8-year-old Ava, 5-year-old Arden, and Oliver, who’s just over a year old.  She sent me Ava and Arden’s wish lists for Santa and I was so tickled by the items on their list.  Lou said Cruella Deville almost made it on Arden’s wish list!  That child cracks me up.  Lou was telling me about how the two girls have a bedtime routine of fighting when it’s time for lights out.  Ava will be trying to sleep and Arden will sneak over to turn the lights back on.

Ava will say, “Turn it off I need to sleep!”

Arden says, “Just try and close your eyes.”

I think I just died laughing all over again.  Lou is convinced her girls are wild animals.  Doesn’t she know that it’s because she is one too? Here’s my gift guide for all the little Avas and Ardens out there.  May they never stop dreaming!

unicorn-hobby-horse (1)Unicorn.

Clearly a unicorn is a must have for kids ages 5-8!  Lou moved to Arkansas from Bethesda last summer and while her yard is bigger I’m not sure it’s large enough to accommodate a roaming, flying unicorn.  Besides, it’s quite a long way to get them over from South Asia which is where they live, says Ava.

Perhaps make them a unicorn hobby horse instead?



Dog Stuffed Animal, $49.99 CAD.  Let’s be honest.  Unless you’re ready to take care of yet another child (which would be Lou’s FOURTH), you might want to consider a cuddly one-of-a-kind puppy made out of reclaimed wool from Cate and Levi.  I think this fulfills the stuffed animal wish as well?


Guess what, they have unicorns too in case you’re not feeling that crafty. Softy Unicorn Stuffed Animal, $39.99 CAD and Unicorn Stuffed Animal, $49.99 CAD.



Dizzy Dress, starting at $72. “Over my dead body!” said Lou. What about a dress that whirls and twirls to keep your kids entertained the good old fashioned way instead?  The dress becomes a toy as it gets them spinning round and round for hours.



Arden doesn’t know it yet, but she’s already got the signs of a miniature hippie in her.  You can splash her wardrobe with just about every color of the rainbow with tie dye.  Better yet, get HER to do it with this tie dye for kids tutorial.



Why should Oliver be left out just because he can’t read or write (or speak) yet?  He’d love this easy DIY nutcracker stacking block.  And I can just see Arden being a great older sister teaching him how it should be stacked.



Wooderful Music Box, starting at $44.99.  Ava had a dancing doll on her list while Arden’s had a musical box.  Another 2 for 1 gift.  Karla and I were born two years apart and we shared everything from toys to books to clothes.  It saved my parents from having to buy two of everything which I’m sure Lou will definitely appreciate.



Max High Top, starting at $59.95. I know she specifically said red.  But how do you say no to these ultra cool high tops that are highly durable, made out of recycled and non-toxic materials, and are made in a solar-powered factory?


Chalkboard Paint, starting at $3.76.  What about painting a wall with chalkboard paint?  Not only for the kids to use when playing school but also for studying, making lists, reminders, and unleashing their creativity.

Missing you and the kids Lou!  Can’t wait to hear more hilarious stories about the everyday adventures in the Smock household!

– SS

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