Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Way They Were: Toy Stores

As a little girl, the only toy store I knew was the aisles of Fedco. And the rare times we did go to the toy store it was always Toys-r-Us...come to think of it, we probably did go that often to avoid the inevitable "Lydia whine and tantrum"...
Anyway, I always wanted to go to a toy store like the ones they show in the movies. Toys from floor to ceiling, in every nook and cranny: giant teddy bears, mysterious magic sets, wind-up robots, real tea sets, scratch-n-sniff sticker books, fairy dust, bucket-o-slime, disappearing ink,musical keepsake boxes and sparkly geodes. To my delight there are many of these mom n' pop toy shops around!

Noah-the-Pooh's 7th birthday is coming up on December 2nd, so we visited one such nostalgic toy store with a crisp, new $100 bill Grandpa Raffi gave him for his birthday. And I will never forgive myself for not taking my camera to take pictures of such a beautiful shop! Any who, Noah-the-Pooh, after much contemplation, chose a cash register, a dino egg and a wooden pistol that shoots giant rubber bands. Plus he still had plenty of money left over for a rainy day!

Yes the dino egg is missing from this photo. We think Jack-Jack kidnapped it...

If you live nearby, take a peak at The Enchanted Toy Store in Fullerton, or swing by our other favorite The Wishing Well in historical Uptown Whittier.

You can also checkout Forbes 10 Amazing Toy Stores in America for more treasured toy stores.

Know of a great mom n' pop toy shop? Please list it in the comments!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How To Party Like Fancy Nancy

My family is...well, a bit artsy. Okay...really artsy and extremely eccentric. I LOVE IT! When we party, we party! We've had Renaissance Christenings, costume Christmas party, all kinds of baby showers including casino, pirate, disco, even space odyssey. Yes we live for the theme. This weekend my niece turned 5 and her parents threw her a magnificent Fancy Nancy party. Being that I have all boys, I didn't even know who Fancy Nancy was. All I knew was that she was fabulous, french and fancy!

There were feathered boas, tutus, fancy feathered headbands, boutonnieres, top hats, and tons of necklaces to dress up in.

Le toilette

Bon appetit!

Here's the ultra fancy birthday girl with my sister, nephew and Jack-Jack peaking in the corner.

My boys enjoying the hor dourves at the activity table.

My cousin passing out more "fancy".

Decorating top hats with sticky decals.

The big boys hanging out by the face painting corner.

The front garden was covered with about 400 paper butterflies. Guests had 30 seconds to pick up as many butterflies as they could to win a prize.

The birthday girl treated up to some fancy ballet...

followed by a strut down the runway!

Happy 5th Birthday!
We also played pin the cherry on the cupcake, freeze dance, fishing, and of course the pi┼łata. We had a blast playing all the games, but truly the best part was dressing up. I really got to do that more often...
For more Fancy Nancy fun visit this website.
Au Revoir!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Are Nursery Rhymes "Too Old-Fashion"?

I recently read this disturbing article where some young London parents felt nursery rhymes were too old fashion or weren't educational.

"Britain's love affair with nursery rhymes is cooling, with parents telling a new survey that they are too old-fashioned to engage their children, a trend which educationalists say could damage reading skills."

What? Mother Goose too old fashion? Has the world gone mad? Is there such a thing as "too old fashion?"

As a vintage mama I feel that some of the best stuff out there for kids is the classic, simple, wholesome, old fashion stuff. And as a homeschooling mama I love using tried-n-true, fun, creative, this-isn't-school-we're-just-playing types of lessons.

Mother Goose is a treasure trove to a lifetime of reading. Nursery rhymes teach:

  • that sounds are paired with specific letters or letter groups (phonetics)

  • the unconscious rules governing speech

  • to distinguish between sounds

  • syllables

  • rhyming (duh)

  • that language is made up of a string of words

  • letters and spelling

Nursery rhymes teach all of this and so much more! The best part is that they are so fun, easy and it opens the flood gates to your kids making up their own rhymes (though this could be a curse) which builds up their language skill even more!

So go now and read your little guys and dolls some "too old fashion" Mother Goose and give them a head start in language!

Looking for more fun language builders? Noah-the-Pooh and I play games from the book Phonemic Awareness . Written by some hoity-toity PH.D's that really know how to set the foundation for successful reading and spelling, this book is loaded with super simple and fun games. One of our faves is hide the alarm clock (or in our case "the cell phone"). Noah-the-Pooh steps out of the room while I hide my ringing cell phone. He tries to locate the sound to find my phone which is tougher then it sounds!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Country Gives Thanks

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in number, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
- Abraham Lincoln – October 3, 1863

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Retro Christmas Wish List: Baby Carlitos

Hooray, tt's Baby Carlitos first Christmas! It's kinda' tricky figuring out what this little guy likes, after all his personality is just starting to come out. But a seasoned vintage mama such as myself knows what little rascally boys like. So without further ado, here is Baby Carlitos wish list:

Cloud b Sleep Sheep ~ I just love to play music for my little guys. We already have this awesome Playskool Mp3 player that we use in the car (Jack-Jack would cry non-stop in the car with out it). But I think this precious little sheep is perfect for lulling my little lamb in his crib. Plus it also drowns out all the ruckus from the older boys!

Organic Fruit Tote ~ It's never too early to start with healthy eating habits! These cute plush toys are made with 100% organic Egyptian cotton so they're super soft and safe for my teething Carlitos to munch on. When he's older he can pretend to buy his fruits n' veggies at the farmers market just like mama!
Maple Fire Truck ~ I really love wooden toys for babies. You don't have to worry about pthalates like plastic or sharp edges like metal toys plus they look so cute and old fashion don't they. This cute fire truck will be his introduction to the wonderful world of car racing and crashing. I should probably get 2, one for Baby Carlitos and one for Jack-Jack.

Melissa & Doug Toys ~ Toys from Melissa and Doug are timeless. They have wooden puzzles, wooden play food (which I think I'm gonna add to Noah-the-Poohs wish list), puppet theaters, cute baby pianos and lovely wooden stacker's like the one above. Oh it's gonna be a Melissa and Doug bonanza this Christmas!

Vintage Theme Building Blocks ~ Ooooh, these handmade blocks are darling! A simple toy that will bring much joy!

Lavender Sock Baby Rattle ~ This snuggley little doll has a soft rattle and a pinch of lavender for extra sweet dreams. Isn't that baby precious?

It's almost Christmas! If you haven't made your list do it now. Your wallet will thank you later!

Monday, November 23, 2009

You'll Know It's Time to Turn the Page When You Hear The Chime...

Remember those books-on-record you had as a kid? They were fantastic weren't they. Well last year as I was searching the web for an audio version of the classic The Carrot Seed for our homeschool, I found Kiddie Records Weekly. This wonderful website has hundreds of our beloved classic books-on-record. You can listen via audio stream, download the torrent zip file, or purchase a CD with all the stories. Here are some of our favorites:

2005 week 30

2009 Week 20

2009 Week 8

Next time you get the urge to turn on the boob tube to babysit the kids (I know I'm guilty of this), bring out some play dough, crayons & coloring books or cars and have your little guys and dolls listen to classic chidren stories instead!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Traditions

Family traditions are wonderful, aren't they? Traditions create memories, instill values, strengthen family bonds and teach a little history all at the same time. One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is helping my Abuelita Lola make her super yummy stuffing. I love hearing all the clattering pots and smelling the delicious Thanksgiving feast fragrances as I helped Abuelita chop, slice and mix. Now that I'm older (and she's more delicate), Abuelita has passed the tradition of making her famous stuffing to me! And now that I have my own family, we are creating our own Thanksgiving traditions. Here are some of our new traditions:
  • As shared in a previous post, we go pumpkin hunting at the Tanaka Farm and bake our giant pumpkin into homemade pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving. We use Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe, though we use our fresh pumpkin (that has been roasted) instead of the canned and we also add a touch of allspice.

  • We read about the struggles that the Pilgrims had in their first years in the new world before the first Thanksgiving. This is an article from the Mayflower Quarterly, a poem by Hezekiah Butterworth, a virtual tour of daily pilgrim life and a bible study.

  • We help our church distribute Thanksgiving meals to families in need.

What are some of your Thanksgiving Family Traditions?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He's One Smooth Criminal!

Doesn't my big boy look darling! He's been asking for a hat for dancing (he's been enthralled with Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal and says he need a hat like his to get the moves right). Well the other day we went to Rattle n' Roll in Uptown Whittier and found the perfect hat. This cute fedora is made by Knucklehead Clothing. I think Noah-the-Pooh was right...he did need hat to get the moves right!

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's The Little Things That Say I Love You

Some people care too much. I think it's called love. ~ Winnie the Pooh

It was less then 2 years ago that Noah-the-Pooh was an only child and I seemed to have mounds of time to do those little things that said "I love you". Like snuggling on the couch and taking a nap together, throwing all our pillows and blankets on the floor and rolling around in them, or cutting his cheese sandwiches into dinosaur shapes.

The other day Noah-the-Pooh reminded me of how I used to decorate the house for every season. "I miss that..." he said as he poked at an earthworm. So even though it was tough with my two little guys, we made the trek to a beautiful farm to pick out some pumpkins (which will do a lovely job of bringing some ambiance until we bake some pies and muffins with them) and we gathered some pine cones and lovely red,yellow and orange leaves from our nature walks. I also found my precious caramel strudel grubby candle that I love to light during the fall (alas, Country Passion Candles are no more). Viola! Autumn and love have filled the Poblano home.

How do you decorate with love?
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