Archive for the ‘Memory Lane’ Category

Book Boy is on a school break. “Winter break,” they call it, to mark the switch from the second trimester to the third trimester. He had a half day today and is off Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday.

Then in April – less than one month – he has another week off, for spring break.

So that means his school has a full week off at Thanksgiving (in addition to two days earlier in the month, off while teachers have “professional development”), two full weeks at Christmas, 4.5 days off in March, and another full week off in April.

Sheesh. When I was a kid, we had two days off at Thanksgiving (and one of those WAS Thanksgiving), two weeks at Christmas – two full weeks, if we were lucky, and a week off at Easter.

It’s no wonder they don’t get out until mid-June now! When I was a kid, we started school the day after Labor Day (I’m glad that our state now mandates that school can’t start before Labor Day), and we were out the first week in June.

Anyone else’s kids have a school schedule that’s drastically different than yours was as a kid? Or is it just me?

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My kids love the Three Stooges.

Tim and the kids watched a couple of Three Stooges clips on YouTube last night, and Book Boy was begging for more today. So Tim dug out an old Three Stooges videotape that we have (for some unknown reason) and they watched it this afternoon.

And my goodness, how they laughed! Book Boy was laughing so hard that I wasn’t sure he coud breathe, and he could barely sit up. Little Sister was standing up, dancing around and laughing hysterically. At one point, BB managed to stop long enough to squeeze out, “Mom, these guys are idiots!” before he collapsed again.

The kids liked this so much that I reserved a couple more videos at the library.

And you know what? Even though I really can’t stand the Three Stooges, I can’t wait to watch the next video with the kids.

Do your kids like the Three Stooges? (Or do you?) What’s something your kids love that you just don’t like, or can’t understand why it’s so funny?

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I’ve always been fascinated by “old school” Sesame Street – say, 1969-1978. Of course, I watched it as a child and continued to watch it until my younger brother was a pre-schooler. The shows are wonderful, and every once in a while I look at old clips on YouTube – I could waste hours doing that.  I remember owning a Sesame Street double LP when I was four or so … oh, how I would love to find that on eBay or somewhere (I’ve never been able to determine exactly which one it was, though).

I also happen to like non-fiction books, and biographies. So for someone like me, Street Gang was the perfect book – it’s like a biography of the show (with a heavy focus on the 1965-1980 years). It took me a while to read it – it’s not a book I wanted to skim – but I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s interested in how Sesame Street came to be. I believe it was truly serendipity.

And just for fun, here’s my favorite Sesame Street clip of all time. (Amusingly, I found out last year that it’s also my older cousin’s favorite. I never knew that he liked it.)

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treegrowsinbrooklynimage.gifFirst, thank you to everyone who commented with their favorite book (or books!) – keep ’em coming.

Second, I promised to post what my favorite book is. This one’s easy – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I read it for the first time when I was 10 years old, and have read it numerous times since. Every time I read it, I have a different perspective. First I identified with Francie, the young girl around whom the story is centered. Later, I saw it more from the point of view of Katie, Francie’s mother. And yet another time, I identified with Mary, Francie’s grandmother and Katie’s mother. It’s as though I’m reading a new book each time.

Tomorrow I will post Tim, Book Boy and Little Sister’s favorite books.

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Last night, Tim and I were flipping channels for a few minutes before turning in for the night. We paused on the public access station, which was running something from last summer’s local book festival. Basically, fairgoers were invited to step up to the microphone/camera and say their favorite book, and why it’s their favorite.

It was actually kind of interesting, and we started talking about books for a while.

So, here’s my question for you tonight: If you were asked your favorite book, what would it be and why? (I’m looking for something new to read, so I can use ideas!)

I’ll tell you my answer in a day or two.

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I love watching old Sesame Street episodes (VERY old – the first five years especially). We have both volumes of the Sesame Street Old School DVDs. Surprisingly, Big Brother really enjoys watching them too. I say surprisingly because they’re very dated and not exactly geared toward today’s kids – in fact, there’s even a disclaimer at the beginning of each DVD that says these episodes may not be appropriate for “today’s preschoolers.” (I think they’re just fine, though kids may not be interested in them.)

I thought I’d share my very favorite Sesame Street clip – featuring two girls, two dolls, a dollhouse, and two kittens. I believe it’s from the first season. When we had our “cousin party” right after I got the first set of DVDs, we watched some of it (because my cousin’s wife was in a clip one time – she was hoping it was on the DVDs). Interestingly enough, my cousin – who is male and five years older than me – exclaimed “This is my favorite one!” when this clip came on. I was amused by that, to say the least! (But he has good taste!)

 Anybody else have a favorite classic Sesame Street segment? What other shows from your childhood do you like to watch?

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Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year.

Tim and I aren’t particularly big on entertaining. We aren’t against it, we just don’t entertain much (other than having some of the immediate family over). But each year on the Saturday after Christmas, we host the annual Cousin Party. We invite my siblings, my cousins, and their families, and whoever can come does. We usually end up with about 12-15 people, out of a possible 24 or so.

I just can’t think of a better party. My cousins are the kids I played with on every major holiday as a kid; they’re they only people (aside from parents/aunts/uncles) who have known me my WHOLE LIFE. We truly get along well and, though we don’t necessarily have much in common (well, those of us who don’t play online computer games) we genuinely like spending time together. Some of us get together through the year at holidays (with our parents’ generation too), on outings with the kids, etc. but this is the only time we hang out together without our parents. We get to be loud, laugh as much as we want, swear a little (watch out for those little ears though!), be kids again really. Throw in a big pot of chili and fixin’s, lots of snacks and desserts, a few drinks, usually game of some sort, and lots and lots of yapping.

The kids are all big enough that we don’t have to watch them like a hawk every single second. (And they’re always within earshot anyway.) Big Brother idolizes my cousin’s 10-year-old son and they love to play together, the 8-year-old daughter has fun playing with and “watching” Little Sister, and my 3-year-old nephew likes to play with everyone. The older three watched a movie in the evening, so the adults were able to get plenty of gab time in. It was great.

It was a nice long party, too – the first guest arrived a little after noon, and the last left at 1:30 a.m.

Funny thing is, I didn’t take a single picture! That’s actually a measure of how much fun I was having. (And, um, how little attention I was paying to the kids, I guess.)

Anyone else do anything like this? Do you still have a close relationship with a big group of cousins?

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I’m really finding myself in the Christmas mood the past couple of days – perhaps it’s because I’m now off work until January 3, or maybe Big Brother’s excitement about the last day of school (they have lots of great things planned for the kids) and Christmas has been contagious. In any case, here are 13 things that I love about the holidays this year (in no particular order).

1. I’m off work until January 2.

2. The kids are going to love their presents this year.

3. Little Sister is really old enough to understand Christmas this year, including the fact that Santa brings presents.

4. Snow! Yes, I hate to drive in it, but it sure does look beautiful from inside the house. I love a white Christmas. (Sadly, it’s supposed to be in the 40s and rainy this weekend, so we might not have a white Christmas after all.)

5. Our “Cousin Party.” Every year on the Saturday after Christmas, we have a party for the cousins on my side of the family. Sometimes there are a lot of us at the party, sometimes only a handful can make it, but we always have a blast.

6. Our Christmas tree. It’s not exactly professionally decorated, and the ornaments are unevenly distributed now (because every time LS takes one off, we put it back on in a higher spot), but the kids enjoyed decorating it, and we often spend time in the evening with the house lights off, just admiring the tree and chatting.

7. Christmas at my aunt and uncle’s house. Since my parents spend the winter in Florida, and Tim’s family is so far away, we’ve spent Christmas day at my aunt and uncle’s house the past few years, along with my cousins and their kids. We get along great with all of them, dinner has been lovely, and we have a fun time. Plus my 22 (?) year old step-cousin can always be counted on to entertain BB, LS and my cousin’s two kids for most of the day … he deserves an extra special presnt for that!

8. Christmas “specials” on TV. At least we used to call them “specials” when we were kids, because they were each only on once per season, if that! BB has really gotten interested in watching them this year, especially the stop-motion animation ones (is that what it’s called?) from the 60s and 70s.

9. Christmas music. I love Christmas songs, and can often be heard singing to them while I’m in the kitchen.

10. Vacation! Did I mention that I’m now off work until January 3?

11. Food. I hate to admit it, but I welcome the excuse to indulge in all the holiday food – cookies and candy, cakes/pies and other desserts, Christmas dinner (especially turkey and mashed potatoes), etc.

12. Presents again! OK, OK, I love getting presents. Even though Tim and I have set a small budget for each other this year (remember the laptop I got in July, which was Mother’s Day/birthday/anniversary/Christmas all rolled int. o one?) but it’s so much fun to wonder, to imagine what I might receive for Christmas. Tim has done very well in the past. And I hope I’ll receive something sweet and handmade (or written) from BB this year, too.

13. VACATION! (Oops, how’d that one sneak in there again?) OK, let’s call this one having extra time to read/scrapbook/sew. (I DO need to make LS a blanket/pillow to take when she starts at her new day care/preschool – where BB went and still goes in the summer – on January 3.)

14, Missed one – my kids’ Christmas pictures! Could they get any cuter than this?!


What are YOU enjoying – or not enjoying – about the holidays this year?

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In my last post (my “Christmas presents” Thursday Thirteen), I mentioned that my parents gave us a Commodore 64 computer in 1984. We loved the darn thing and fought over whose turn it was to play games on it. We had some fun ones – Summer Olympis, Mission Impossible [which really did seem impossible to us], Lemmings, and others that I can’t recall right now. All copied from other friends who had the C64, of course – I don’t really know of anyone who purchased games back then – so we never had instructions and didn’t always know what we were doing. (I haven’t copied a game from anyone in many years, of course.)

But my most favorite game was one that I think was probably pretty sophisticated for its time. I couldn’t remember the name of it earlier today, but a quick search netted “Below the Root.” (Gotta love Google!) Btwinny and Firsttwin, see if this brings back any memories:

What the heck … here are a couple more.

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Here are thirteen Christmas presents I’ve loved over the years.

1. San Francisco Music Box Co. music box. (1994?)Tim chose “Lara’s Theme,” which is what my grandmother’s music box played. Her music box was always in her living room and it was very special to me, so I was pleased that Tim remembered this. (I also have my grandmother’s music box now, too.)

2. Commodore 64 computer. (1984) Mom and Dad bought this for us when I was 14. At the time, it was still cutting-edge to have a computer in your house. Since there were four kids in the family – and we all loved to play computer games – Mom limited us to 30 minutes per turn. Yeah, that worked well. (MOM, her turn is OVER! Make her get off the computer! was commonly heard around our house.) But it was an awesome gift.

3. Raggedy Ann paper dolls. (1973?) I’m not even sure why I remember this gift – it wasn’t a big gift, and I was probably only three at the time. (Mom, it was the same year that the girls got their Winnie the Pooh Weebles house, of which I was extremely jealous.) I still remember what some of the clothes looked like.

4. Creative Zen MP3 player (2004). This was another of Tim’s famous budget-buster gifts (which I have never complained about, of course!). I spent at least a week “ripping” every CD that I owned so that I could store it on this little player. Sadly, it had two major flaws (headphones had to be plugged in *just right* or you didn’t get good sound, and lots of the tracks skipped even though the ripped versions didn’t skip on the computer) and I have recently replaced it with an iPod classic. But I loved my Zen!

5. Fisher Price Mary Doll (1976). Oh, how could I forget Mary? She was my best Christmas present EVER! The year I was in first grade, for some reason I recall that money was tight until right after Christmas, and there were few presents under the tree. Instead, a short time after Christmas, Mom and Dad took us to the big toy store and we were allowed to pick something out. (More than one thing maybe, I don’t remember – I only had eyes for Mary!) Mary was my top doll forever after. She looks much worse for the wear, even worse than the one in this picture (and her original clothes are long gone), but I still have her and will never get rid of her.

6. VCR (1985). Mom and Dad surprised us with a VCR when I was in 9th grade. Again, we were a little ahead of our time, and we loved it.

7. Blue Blankie (2000). Tim gave me this when I was pregnant with Big Brother. OK, it was actually meant for BB, but I got to open it. After switching through several favorite blankets in his first couple of years, BB finally settled on Blue as his one and only. Blue is pretty ratty these days but we all love “him.” (Little Sister has Pink Blankie, which is pretty similar, but she’s not quite as attached to it. She tends to go for quantity, not quality, when selecting her bedtime blankets.)

8. Bookstore gift certificate (1981). This gift certificate from my aunt and uncle was the first time I can really remember having my own money to spend in a bookstore (we were always big library users). Wonder if they had any idea what they were starting! I believe I bought Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and another book whose title escapes my memory.

9. Duran Duran 13-CD “singles” set (2004). I’ve been a fan since 1985 (except for a few years when they lost their way) and was thrilled to find this set that included all kinds of never-before-on-CD tracks. I had some of them on vinyl (as B-sides to extended dance mixes and things like that). Wish I could find the darn set so that I could “rip” it onto my iPod. I know it’s around here somewhere …

10. New house (2001). OK, we officially closed on our house on November 30, but Tim and I got possession of our house on December 19, 2001. Perhaps the best Christmas present ever!

11. My laptop (2007). This actually counts as my Mother’s Day, birthday, anniversary, and Christmas present this year. Well worth it, though!

12. My serger sewing machine (2001). Tim knew I wanted a serger but did not want to risk actually picking one out. So he made me a certificate with a dollar amount on it and something like “to be used for the purchase of a serger of your choice.” I believe we ordered it online within the week.

13. Sunshine Family dolls (1975?) These kind of hippie dolls – mom, dad, sister, and baby brother – were kind of the anti-Barbie. I even had their bright yellow car! I remember playing with them in the basement for ages with my sisters. (I think with my sisters … surely I shared the dolls?)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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