Saturday, December 31, 2011

Three Little Memories

I have been noticing a lot of posts on Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, etc. about vintage toys from the 70's.  I decided that I had to get in on this fad.  I was a small child in the 70's.  In fact, the 70's decade was MY decade.  I was seven years old in 1970.  Being the youngest of six children and a girl after three boys (plus, seven years after the last child!) I pretty much had free range on getting the latest toy.  (sorry siblings, but, I was)

So, I've been searching the web for the last hour or so and have had many, many memories flood my soul as I relived my childhood through, of all things, toys!  (thank you youtube!)  So, here are a just THREE of the  many toys I found and specifically remember...maybe some of you will remember them as well!

1.  My Easy Bake Oven

This is the exact oven I have.  And by "have" I mean that I still have it.  In my garage.  I just showed it to Terry and he told me "never get rid of it".  I won't.  Remember how it cooked delicious little cakes by the power of a 100 watt lightbulb??  It smelled so good. Oh, and those sprinkles I put on at the end were ultra-delicious!  I remember feeling like a real-live-honest-to-goodness-chef.  At least that's what my daddy called me!  Bless you, Dad!

2.    Clackers!!

The sense of smell is one of the number one triggers of memory.  Well, it's true.  But I also believe that SOUND is also a huge trigger.  When I watched this (and other) Youtube videos, the second I heard the noise of this toy, the memories came-a-calling.  Painful memories, in particular!  :)  Those things could cause a concussion.  Maybe that is why they were banned at school!  I got super good at the tricks and could go for hours...just like this kid.  Behold!  I give you...CLACKERS!!


3.    Crissy!

"Everyone knows that beautiful hair makes a girl look beautiful"  REALLY??  I had no idea the marketing that went into Crissy!  This ad is full of the word "beautiful".  I counted the world "beautiful" 15 times in a 60 second commercial.  No wonder I HAD to have this doll.  What little girl didn't dream of being beautiful?  I adored her and loved her so much.  But, as usual, before it was even in my possession for one week, my brother Larry's dog, "Charlie" had chewed up her feet.  (I could never keep anything nice with that dog around!)  I can't believe my mother let him keep that dog!


Well, that was lots of fun.  I found LOTS of other toys to blog about but will only "bore" you with three today.  But, don't you worry...I will definitely do a Toys part two at some point.  But, for now, I'll let you digest these three little gems.  Do any of you remember these toys?  I KNOW I can't be the only one!

Oh, and by the way, HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope that your 2012 will be the very best year of your life so far.  I plan on having a fabulous year with lots and lots of changes...for the better.

I love you all...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best Weekend...SURPRISE! (warning: long)

I just got home from Ft. Collins, Colorado.  I had one of the most fun experiences I've ever had.

So, to back up just a tad, I need to tell you that my darling granddaughter, Isabel,
sent me a couple of letters asking me if I would come to her
performance in "The Nutcracker".

I really wanted to go but didn't know if I could swing it with school and $$.
But, after thinking about it and realizing how important this little girl is to me, I decided to go. 
But, not only go...but to SURPRISE Isabel.  
The only one who knew I was coming was my daughter-in-law, Erin.
So excited.

I got there around 12:00 and walked over to the school (by myself!) to 
make the big reveal during the twin's lunch.
Oh yes...Isabel has a twin.  His name is Milo and I adore and love him too...lest you think
I was ignoring him!  :)

After checking in at the office, I went to the twins's classroom and met their amazing second grade
teacher.  And, by "amazing" I do mean "AMAZING!"
She walked me to the lunchroom.
Milo saw me first.
He had several double takes.  Then grabbed Isabel (whose back was to me).
When she saw me, she just stared with her mouth open then slowly
covered her mouth with her hand. (See re-enactment below!)
Milo said, "I feel like I'm in a dream!"

As I type this, I realize that there is NO WAY I can adequately write all the feelings
we had during that little surprise.  It was very special and very memorable.
I wish I could relive it again and again.

Linton Elementary school.
Here's Milo (and the girl who is obsessed with him!  Who wouldn't be)
And here's Issy in mock surprise and sitting next to her is her best friend Sarah.

I left the children and walked back to the house to get settled in.  Then, returned at 3:00 to
walk them back home.  I ended up helping the children finish up
their Christmas wrapping.
The second graders thought I was very magical because I could
curl ribbon with a pair of scissors!! 


We took a trip to SuperTarget and picked up dinner at Panera.
I LOVE bread!

The Nutcracker!

My little Isabel had the part of a peppermint in the Ft. Collin's community performance of
The Nutcracker.
This was the reason I made the trip and I was so excited to be there.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to take pictures in the performance or at anytime of her cute little
costume.  But, trust me, she was adorable.
These pictures are from the "after party" of the performance.
The program
The Spanish Dancer (MY personal to the peppermints, of course!)
Trust me, she was fabulous!
She may or may not have bossed the other little peppermints around on the stage.
Or, as I like to call it, "Helped the others know what they were suppose to be doing three
steps before they had to do it."

Issy and her mother, Erin
Issy and her Grami, me!
Issy and her Grandma Kim and cousin Kiana!

Funny story.  This is Penne (like the coin, not the pasta!).
She was one of the ushers for the performance.  Sh asked me to put my phone away since pictures weren't
allowed.  Of course, I told her I was just about to do so.  Then I told her about my surprise visit.
Miss Penne had tears streaming down her cheeks.
She "got" the whole thing.
So, why didn't she pose for the picture?  Well, she was deep in conversation and no
matter how long I stood there, she didn't flinch.  So, Grandma Kim just
went ahead and snapped the photo.


After sleeping in until 8:30 am!!! Erin, Isabel, and I put on our shopping shoes and headed

Best toy store ever!

 There was a lot of Christmas "magic" going on during our shopping time together.  It was very nostalgic for me for some reason.  We saw real old-fashioned carolers..complete with long dresses, boxy hats, and muffs.  Plus, they sang like angels.

We saw "Santa" skating around on the outdoor skating rink.  Erin told me that he usually skates with an accordion.  I would have paid to see that!

There were street singers galore.  A 10 year old violinist, a young hipster couple singing duets, pianists at a piano painted bright green with painted lady bugs covering it.  A frozen fountain with an icy waterfall and sign reminding me "Do not play in the fountain".  I didn't.

Plus, it was 52 degrees outside that day...Perfection!

But the best part was when we were walking down the street and a police car was driving ahead of a horse drawn wagon.  Inside the wagon were about 15 children along with Santa Claus.  They were waving a shouting "Merry Christmas" to everyone walking along the street.  As if THAT weren't enough, they came to a stop at the light and the children called to all of the children along the street to come over to the wagon.

This included Isabel.  The children then handed out gifts...big gifts (not just candy!) to each child.  Some got games, others got dolls.  Isabel ended up with a Beanie Baby teddy bear.  She named it "Violet".

What a cool Christmas memory, eh?
This is a small snippet of MY eye candy I ran into whilst shopping.
Oh wait, that top one is actual CANDY!  I made Spencer a batch of caramels using his
Grandma Neen's (my mother-in-law) recipe!

We met Spencer at
and ate frozen yogurt with Milo and Keeler.

Then I had the privilege of tending Keeler while the family went to
The Nutcracker closing performance.

One little cute story about Keeler:
I thought I'd sing him a lovely song before bed and so I sang "Jingle Bell".
Before I even got to "oh what fun it is to ride"
he pushed me away and covered his ears saying
"NO! Stop!  Yucky!"

I'll have to work on my skills!

last day.

We finished an entire chapter book during my visit.
I love to read to children.  This was no different.  I will never be able to look at an Ivy and Bean book
ever again without thinking of my twins!

Exchanging of gifts!

I bought the children an Elf on the Shelf while I was there.
I'm so glad I did. They named him "Fritz" and it was more fun than any of us could have imagined.

Seriously, best trip ever!

BONUS:  I flew to Denver using the new Frontier Airlines service out of PROVO!!  Best thing ever.  No one hour drive to the SLC airport.  And no long drive back to Provo
when I came back.  It is the greatest. was $50 cheaper each way.
Just FYI

Monday, December 12, 2011

Oh Say Can You See?

Today was priceless!  Little Burt Ray really surprised the class this morning.  No one could find him, though they tried mercilessly to do so.  He was nowhere to be found...that is...until it was time for the National Anthem:

Naughty little elf!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My "pixie" Burt Ray"!

 I have a very strong memory of TWO Christmas ornaments from my childhood.
1.  A beautiful red Christmas ornament with a frosted Santa and his reindeer 
pulling the sleigh.  The image wrapped most of the way around it.  It was/is very fragile.
I remember that it was a special privilege to be the "One" to lift it from the Christmas decoration box,
 unwrap it, Then pick the perfect spot on the tree so it
wouldn't shatter if it got bumped.  I believe it once belonged to my grandmother.
I have no idea where that ornament is but the 
memory alone is sweet to my being.

2.   My mother had a little "pixie" that I would sit and look at and occasionally
play with.  I loved my little pixie with all my heart and it just so happens that I ended up with it in my own Christmas decoration box.
Lucky girl that I am.  

Someone has cashed in on this little pixie.  Well not 'THIS' one but ones like it.
Have you heard of "The Elf on the Shelf"  book and elf?
It's an adorable tradition.  A little elf is placed on a shelf to watch children and then report
back to Santa as to whether the child was naughty or nice.  

The fun part comes when said elf hides in a new place every single day.  Sometimes twice!
One of my students, Averie, shared her elf with the class and by the next day 
four or five parents had called Averie's mother to find out where to buy this little elf and book.
A phenomenon!  Soon, several children were writing all about their elves in their
journals.  I love it.

Now...I decided to find my "pixie" and have him delivered to our classroom
to watch over the children.  ;)

It's a funny thing about pixie elves...they are very mischievous.
They shows up in several silly places.
Burt Ray is no exception!
The children giggle with glee (I love the word "glee") when they find little 
Burt Ray in his new hiding spot!
They all try to be the first to spy him.
Take a look for yourself at some of the places Burt Ray has shown up:


So, as you can see, Burt Ray could turn up anywhere!  Stay tuned for a few more days of hidden pixie fun!!  Plus, you should definitely purchase your family and Elf on the Shelf and start creating YOUR Christmas tradition!  (I am in no way affiliated with the people at The Elf On The Shelf people!  I just loved the whole idea!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Can't Express...

the love I have for this little chickadee...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The ABC's of Mel Rae

My first born child turned 24 today!  (How does that even happen?  I mean my children get older but I don't!  Weird!  )

Anyway, Melissa has reached another milestone in her live.  24!!!  I could take this entire blog to tell you over and over again but, I'm not going to...

Okay, just joking.  I'm sharing a couple of pictures as well as a few adjectives to remind us all why we adore her.   And, since I teach 1st grade, I thought I'd go with an alphabet theme.

A bsolutely stunning!
B rainy!
C aptivating personality.
D aring
E xtraordinary!
F riend to many, many, many a friend!
G racious
H uge personality PLUS!
I ntelligent (You know she's a marketing whiz??)
J, she looks good in her jeans.  (that isn't creepy is it?)
K issable (right Danny?)
L ovely 
M arvelous
N ice (I know that sounds trite is just so true about her.
O ptomistic
P ure  (Deep within her soul she is full of purity)
Q ueen of everything!
R eally good Reader
S stylish
T rue
U nique
V ivacious
W onderful
X tra great sister!  (Right Erika?  Right Abbie?  Right Melissa?  Right Erin?  Right Mia?
Y oung...youthful!
Z ealous

Everything I Know About Hanukkah, I learned from Children's Books and Adam Sandler

If I were not a member of The LDS church, I would want to be Jewish.  Seriously.  I'm the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about this religion.  As a matter of fact, I met my first Jew (Unless you count my Jewish penpal from NYC when I was in sixth through tenth grade.  We thought we had a lot in common since we both went to "temple") when I visited NYC  in 2007 and I loved/love her and we were friends at first sight over a plate of Indian food!   I think I was the first legitimate Mormon that she had met as well.  Together we called ourselves "MoMoJews".  She is a brilliant woman and has a very entertaining blog.  Find her at  I love Becca and admire her beyond measure.  Since she's Jewish, it stands to reason that ALL Jewish people are also wonderful and admirable as she...just like ALL Mormons are perfect like me!   BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  

Okay, enough of that.  Now, for the real reason I would convert.  It is for the mere fact that I love, love, LOVE Hanukkah.  I love everything about it.  The gelt, the latkes, the goblins, the menorah, the candles, blue, white, Judas and the Maccabees, the star of David...all of it.  I have the same magical feeling inside that I get with Christmas.  There is a story.  A very special story at the very root of the holiday.  I relish the idea of lighting a candle on each of the eight days.  Of using the shamash candle to light the others.  Instead of one day of presents they have eight crazy nights! (that's the part I learned from Adam Sandler)
Any special day set aside to celebrate and remember a miraculous bit of history is well worth my time in celebrating it.  Such is the story of the Festival of Lights.  A miracle of having enough oil in the temple to last for eight days instead of one after pleading with God to make it so, is a story I can really get behind.

How did this love of all things Hanukkah begin?  It was on the streets of Portland, Oregon.  My new husband and I were there on a business trip.  While he was in meetings, I roamed the streets.  I slipped into a small little shop that sold all things Jewish, in particular, Hanukkah.  I was smitten right away.  I purchased my own little brass menorah with a box of 144 blue and white candles.  I bought chocolate Hanukkah gelt and a bunch of at least 20.  Then I headed down to Powell's Bookstore  (Most amazing bookstore in the universe) and bought up as many children's Hanukkah books as I could afford, and maybe even some that I couldn't  (wink wink).

I brought everything home and have been obsessed ever since.  I haven't missed a single year of reading books about Hanukkah and trying to expose my students to as much about other annual celebrations, in addition to Christmas, this time of year.  I remember one year I invited my next door neighbor, Eric Huntsman, to be our special guest.  Eric was/is  a professor of ancient history at Brigham Young University.  He speaks about 8000 different languages (not really but he does speak several that I wouldn't ever even think of learning...Hebrew doesn't really come in all that handy these dayd) and he was able to come and share some things about Hanukkah.  Then, he gave us a sense of how Hebrew sounds by reciting a couple of the blessings said at Hanukkah time.  If you would like to know more about Eric, he is currently living in Jerusalem teaching for BYU in the study abroad program and has a family blog.

After Eric presented, and most years since, I served up some delicious latkes with sour cream and we played the Dreidel game.  This has been my tradition ever since...minus Eric, of course!  It is my favorite week of the year.  The children usually don't know anything about Hanukkah and are just as mesmerized about it as I am.  

 If none of this makes sense to you and you are thinking to yourself how crazy and far-fetched my ideas about religion are, just know that it's okay.  I didn't write this to "make sense" but, rather, to put in words the feeling that have so often been rattling around inside me.  I am transfixed when it comes to the topic of religion and love to understand what others believe.  It really does build love and understanding rather than forcing us all to misjudge others by being misguided and ignorant.

So...when I hear the greeting "Happy Holidays!" I don't think of it as leaving Christ out of Christmas but, rather, celebrating the religious beliefs of others' who may be different than mine.  Give me Christmas and I will always remember and love my savior, Jesus Christ and love him for his life and sacrifice.  Plus, the thought of Him being born in a stable to his beautiful mother Mary and stalwart and strong step-father, Joseph will forever make my heart sing at Christmastime.  But I think it can sing too for my friends who believe something perhaps a little different than I do.  That is just fine.  Love, acceptance, understanding, and friendship are what these here holidays are all about.

So, to my Jewish friends a very Happy Hanukkah (beginning December 20th)!  I hope you will make room for me at your holiday table and even save me a latke or two!
This is a beautiful and tender story about two little friends, one Jewish (named Becca) and one Christian (named Tami)
Who think of each other at the holiday season and work to make each
life happy and fulfilled.

The Trees of the Dancing Goats
Oh how I LOVE this author, Patricia Polacco, whom I have met a couple of times.
She is a dear, dear lady.  Read her books (especially this one and also Pink and Say) if you haven't.
She is amazing. The story is amazing.
Even if she really didn't name her characters
Becca and Tami!!

Books featured in this post:
1. Hanukkah   By:  Roni Schotler  I love the illustrations in this book.  It also is written with a rhyme and rhythm that children love and appreciate!
2.  The Chanukkah Guest  By Eric A. Kimmel  This is a cute story about an older woman who makes the best latkes in the village.  Her eyesight is failing and when she thinks she is serving latkes to her rabbi, she is really serving to a real, live BEAR!  The children love this and think it is hysterical!
3.  The Magic Dreidel  By:  Eric A. Kimmel  (this guy writes a lot of Jewish literature)  This book is really cute.  It has all of the necessary characters (Fruma Sarah, goblins, gelt, dreidels, latkes, etc. etc.)  The children really enjoy this book as well.  They love to hear how a regular little boy can get into cahoots with a silly goblin to teach the crochity old busy body neighbor a valuable lesson.
4.  Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins  By:  Eric A Kimmel  (See what I mean about Eric A. Kimmel?) This is probably my very favorite Hanukkah story.  Hersel goes into a village...there are many villages in Jewish folklore...where they haven't celebrated Hanukkah for many years because of the goblins who have overrun the synagogue.  When I read this book to my class, they always put forth every sound available to their wonder!  "Oooohhhhhh!"  "Uhhh  Ohhhh!"  "Oh no!!!"  "Aweee!"  And I LOVE it.  The illustrations are awesome.  Read this one if you get the chance.)
5.  Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!   By: ?   You've heard the song..."Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel.  I made you out of clay..."  Well, this book takes the traditional words of that song and puts illustrations to go along with each line.  PLUS (are you ready for this?) see that round button up there on the book?  Well you push it and it plays the Dreidel song.  Have you ever heard first graders fighting over a book during free-reading time???  Well I have.  And it's every year over the Dreidel book.  :0
6.  See above.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...