Monday, December 10, 2012

My Christmas Story Experience!

Do you recall the first time you watched "A Christmas Story"? .............I sure do.

The precise year escapes me. It was either 1988 or 1989 when I was about fourteen years old and very close to Christmas (possibly Christmas Eve).

I fell asleep on the couch early in the evening. When I awoke, everyone else was already in bed for the night. I turned on the tv and zipped the clicker back and forth searching for something to watch.

Something caught my eye. A very interesting sight on cable tv. It looked Christmasy to me, so I settled on it.

I quickly realized, this movie was amazing. What on earth was I watching? Where did it come from? Why had I never seen it before? This boy they call "Ralphie" looks just like my dad when he was a kid. My mind was completely mesmerized.  My eyes were glued to the tv and I was filled with an overwhelming happiness.

When the end credits began to roll,  I felt an enormous let down. Not because the movie was bad, but because I didn't want it to end. I wanted to know more about this family. I needed more!

 A few minutes passed when my ears heard the sound of cheerful music. I looked at the screen and there it was again, in all it's glory! I didn't know why, or how and I didn't care.

What did I do next? I went into the kitchen, heated up four chocolate Pop-Tarts and poured myself a big glass of milk. I sat right back down on my cozy couch, ate my chocolatey snack and watched this life altering movie until I fell asleep.

It seems small, this memory. But oh how big it is! Little did I know, a life long tradition was born that cozy winter night.

And to this very day, no matter what month it is, when I eat a chocolate Pop-Tart, I always think of "A Christmas Story".

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

An Underoos Christmas

Christmas memories from my childhood bring me so much joy! Growing up in the 70's and 80's meant I had first dibs on some of the best toys ever invented, the funnest catalogs to browse, the coolest Christmas ornaments and the best Christmas displays around.

Here I am getting my very first Strawberry Shortcake doll for Christmas! This was probably right around 1980 to be exact. This was a FABULOUS Christmas. I was at my Dad's house for my bi weekly visit. My brother was there too. That is my loving Grandma behind me there in the photo. This Christmas not only did I get my wonderfully scented Strawberry Shortcake doll, I also got my first, and only, set of Underoos! I had Wonder Woman and I remember jumping up and down with excitement to get them! I tried them on immediately and thought I was the bomb diggity. You can see from the next photo that my big brother also got something quite trendy and very 80's....a Stretch Armstrong! And here he is playing tug o war with my Stepmom.

Another wonderful Christmas was not long after this one. This one was at my Mom's house. We went to bed on Christmas Eve and couldn't wait to wake up and run down the stairs to find our presents! The same stairs mind you, that my brother tumbled down once after watching the movie Jaws! We watched that movie and he went upstairs to go to bed and saw where my Mom had placed her mannequin head on the bannister ledge. It scared the wits out of him and after a shriek he went tumbling down!! Good times....Anyway, this year we ran down those stairs to our tree and to dig into our Snoopy stockings and before my wondering eyes did appear.....A Barbie dream Winnebago! Oh my this was the gem of all gems. It had a shower, a kitchen, bedroom you name it it was pimped out!

By the time I lived with my Dad full time, the 80's were in full swing! Our local mall was called Antioch Shopping Center. I would grow up having many lifelong memories from that mall. I went there regularly my whole childhood. Shopping, bowling and as a teen and young twenty, I had jobs there! I loved Morrow's nut house, it had the best macadamia and cashew nuts! This is also the mall I told you about in an earler blog where I attended the Hubba Bubba bubble blowing contest! But the best time to go to Antioch mall....was at CHRISTMAS!! I'm telling you it was old school magic! The winter wonderland was a looooong stretch of glistening white. White snow, white reindeer, white railing and white plastic chain link to keep you out of the magical area. It had giant presents with bows and then of course Santa's seat. It was such a wonderful place to be. I sure wish I had a photo to share with you but my 110 camera was probably out of film at the time ;)

In closing I would be doing you a major disservice if I did not describe to you THE most magical place to be during Christmas and that was at Penguin Park. The park I grew up going to my whole life. The park with the giant penguin, elephant, giraffe, wobbly bridge, fire had it all. And at Christmas it was transformed literally into a winter wonderland! Everything was lit up with Christmas lights, giant presents were added, Santa's workshop appeared and my favorite thing of all, there was a giant Santa hat atop the mighty Penguin's head!

Now I realize I am very  blessed to have such wonderful memories of Christmas. I know so many who do without. That makes my memories even more treasured to me. But please understand the reason I place so much value on my memories is because I also had a lot of sadness in my childhood. So these magical moments in time made it all worth while!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Haunted Housing!

My first Haunted House experience was bone chilling and extraordinarily exciting! The feeling of fear and first time flutters were better than the haunted house itself. I remember exactly how I felt.

I was around 4th or 5th grade and had been wanting to go to a haunted house for a while, so my dad took my friend Tami and me. It was in downtown Kansas City, Mo and was called......
The Edge of Hell.

Standing in line, it was a crisp fall evening. I was feeling a happy anxiousness. When you want to laugh  from your gut even though nothing is funny. A type of exhilaration occurs with this anticipation. The fear and excitement grew the closer we got to the entrance. There were sights to be seen outside, too.  The haunted house employees were getting people riled up before you even went inside. They were in costumes and some were carrying rats!

When you finally arrive to the entrance and step inside, it's like a haunted mansion. Cobwebs, walls painted black and everything dimly lit. The cashier greets you from a glass booth, wearing gothic clothing. Next, you are going up a flight of stairs. There are now black-lights leading the way. Almost a chalky substance swirling around the chilling air with organ music (Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach).

Once upstairs, the haunting begins! Terrifying things happen for what seems like an eternity. Ghouls grabbing at you while you try to cross a rickety, swing bridge. Pounding on the walls that sounds like an axe. Places so dark, you can't see your hand in front of your face. This was the funnest thing I'd ever done!

Finally you reach light. You see white everywhere and realize it's supposed to be Heaven...A peaceful moment in this house of horrors. It doesn't last long! Next thing you know, you are at the top of a slide.

Wait, what?! Yes, a slide. Little do you realize, you have just climbed the entire height of this enormous old building, which happens to be several stories high.  I tell you, I was manic at this point! But I did it. I got on that slide and woooosh! Down I went, spiraling straight down in the pitch black!
Finally, I saw some light. I felt relief. But alas, it was not over yet.
Standing at the bottom waiting for me, taunting me, was the red man carrying a pitchfork. When I reached the end of the slide, I was on the floor, frozen with terror of this creature yelling at me to GET OUT!!!
He was prodding me with his pitchfork but I couldn't move. I was frozen with fear. He eventually showed mercy to my young self,  helped me up, all while continuing to  holler at me to leave!

WOW, it was over.

Stunned, I made my way to the waiting area where I met back up with my friend and my dad. I think I was speechless for a moment. As I recounted what had just transpired,  I slowly got my wits about me. Did this madhouse scare me away? Nope. I looked at my Dad and said.... "Let's go again!"

But it's not like a roller coaster, you can't just go back in line to do it again. No, you savor every memory of the experience. You smile ear to ear and talk about it the whole car ride home. Then you can't wait for next Halloween so you can have this experience all over again.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Renaissaince Festival...of LOVE

One of my favorite things to do when I was growing up, was going to the Renaissance Festival.
We went every October, rain or shine. The weather was usually brilliant, even if it was rainy.

The one we always went to was in Bonner Springs, Ks.  It is heavily wooded and dotted with little shops and food areas. I have seen other festivals that, in comparison, were quite generic. This one is simply magnificent.

You park your car in a huge field. There is nothing in sight except a giant outdoor amphitheater next door. You begin to walk up to the entrance and immediately begin to see all the trees in beautiful Autumn color. The outside entrance is very peasanty and rustic.

Once inside the wooden gates, you are transported to a different time. Each person working the festival is dressed in medieval garb. Anything from peasant clothing, to detailed royalty clothing in deep, rich colors. Back in the 80's, every single employee spoke in an English accent, even the food workers were dressed appropriate of the time and spoke in this accent.

Walking around, you smell the woods, incense burning and nature all around. A little further and you are greeted with the smell of turkey legs, hearty soups served in bread bowls or my all time on a stick.  For dessert I always had an Orange Ice, which is an orange sliced in half with an orange flavored icee/sherbert concoction.

Many of the shops were nestled among the trees, lined up in little nooks.  They were full of artisans who made their own goods. Leather wear, giant walking sticks, windsocks, incense, candles, all kinds of things. My dad always bought a wreath made of ribbons  for me to wear on my head.

My favorite kid activities were the face painting, games and elephant rides.

I loved getting my face painted and one year I saw the art teacher from my elementary school. I was so excited to see her there. It's always neat to see teachers in the real world. I now thought she was cooler than ever.

 One of the games I always played was jousting. You got on a toy horse that was suspended by two ropes. Then they handed you your own jousting stick. They would pull and pull and lift you into the air. They let go and you went flying down! You had to hit the target with your stick and get the ring off the little gadget (I never won). There was also log rolling competition and one game where you sat on a giant log and tried to knock your opponent off with a burlap sack.

Toward the middle of the day, we always sat to watch the real jousting show. It was pleasant to take a load off in the stands and watch the giant horses race back and forth with the men in their suits of armour.

If you needed to use the restroom, even that was outdoors and whimsical. Nothing like any other outdoor event. Every area of this place was in character. The outhouses were wooden and called "Privies".

As the day wound down, the air would get cooler. The aromas were deeper and your sense of peace was at an all time high.

There was a parade at the end of the day. You would wait by the wooden exit gates. While waiting, children could run in a circle and wrap ribbons around a tall pole, which was beautiful.

Once you heard the parade coming, there was silence among the onlookers. Only the sound of medieval chatter among the characters in the parade.

There were peasants, court jesters, children acrobats and finally the King and Queen. All were dressed of the time. They were singing, dancing and laughing loudly.

Walking back to your car, you knew the enchantment was over.

It would be a whole year before going back. Many times were with my dad and his friends. I remember them well and they too reveled the experience.

I went every year as a child and even into my twenties.

When I grew up and moved away, I missed it for the first time. As the years went by, I missed a few more. But when I met my husband, I insisted on taking him.

He had  never been to one and even if he had, it would not compare to this one. We had a wonderful time. 

It had been several years since I'd been to this magical place. This place so dear to my heart since childhood. Now, to experience it with a brand new love in my life was just.....

A festival of love.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall Carnival, 1984

The Autumn of 1984....I am met with mixed emotions.

It was a great time in pop culture and I was into all of it, but I was also a 10 year old mess.

There was however, one thing  different. I now lived with my Dad. It was life changing and change did me some good after a lot of painful times after my parents divorce. Things were better, but still not perfect.

Something was about to ease my mind, if only for a little while. It was the fall carnival at my elementary school.

This was my first year in Kansas City at my new school. It was going ok, I guess. Then fall came along and  everything turned damp, crisp and was bursting with color! I found the dismal, rainy days to be my favorite (not much has changed in that regard).

I was into Michael Jackson in '84 and was only natural for me to wear black and red parachute pants to the carnival at school.

I remember being on the playground with my stepmom who was pretty and loving. She had her arm around me, walking on the blacktop where I spent recess time playing hopscotch and double dutch.

We did the cake walk together. Bobbed for apples and visited with some of my school friends.
It was a perfect, cloudy, crisp fall evening.

There were several other games but I mostly remember my time with her on this enchanting night.
I sometimes wonder if I really love fall, or is it because some of the best times in my life happened to be in the fall?

I  miss my stepmom.

After she and my dad divorced, I lost track of her for several years. I saw her now and then but it was  very painful for me because I had missed her so.

When I had my first child, I began soul searching and dug deep into my past. I had to face so many things. I had to learn what not to do. I had to find a way to never let my kids feel the pain that I went through.

I realized that my stepmom treated me like her real child. I know this now from experience of being mom.

After years of searching, I found her a few years back, with the help of my dad. I was able to speak to her on the phone and then write her a letter. I was able to tell her all the things I wanted to say.

How much I loved her. How many good memories she created for me in my childhood and so on.

I have since lost track of her again but that does not change my cherished memories of her.

Especially the one at my school's Fall Carnival, 1984.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Showbiz Pizza

Have you ever heard of Chuck E. Cheese? Well of course you have. In a simple word, I'll describe how I feel about Chuck E. Cheese.....Sad.

Let me explain....

Once upon a time in the 80's, there was a magical place called Showbiz Pizza. The one I went to all through childhood was in a shopping center called Antioch Mall.

I grew up going there. The shopping, the food court, the bowling alley and my favorite place, Showbiz Pizza.

One of the major differences between Showbiz and Chuck is the anticipation that was available to a kid.

Chuck E. Cheese has the game area and an eating area, but in the eating area there is always something happening. Always commotion, never stillness. That giant mouse  is always singing or gabbing and that area is always brightly lit.

Showbiz, on the other hand, had a dimly lit eating area to add mystery to what was going to happen.

There were three stages for performances. Stage ONE was the Wolfman who talked in a smoky, husky voice.
Stage TWO, you would find the best musical band to ever exist...The Rockafire Explosion!! Band members were: Mitzi Mozzarella on vocals was a mouse dressed as a cheerleader. Beach Bear on guitar. Duke Larue was a dog in a spacesuit who played the drums. And Fatz Geronimo on keyboards was a giant gorilla.
Stage THREE was the loveable Billy Bob bear with a puppet creature called Looney Bird.

The shows only ran every so often, so when you were playing video games or skeeball, you were also constantly looking over to the dining area to see if anything was about to happen. Anticipation at it's finest.

Finally, you would hear the curtain open and the action began. You stopped whatever game you were playing and speed walked as fast as you could to get a good seat for the show.

It only seemed natural to get a job there when I was in highschool. I was uniformed in khaki pants, a red Showbiz shirt and a visor with gigantic 80's hair climbing out the top of it.

I was a hostess/server and occasionally had to sing Happy Birthday to parties... via intercom.... that the entire place could hear.

I had mad highschool crushes there. Angst, drama, and excitement was all mixed into that job, the funnest job I ever  had.

But one night, we were informed that there were to be some major changes. They were eliminating all our beloved characters on that stage to replace them with this giant mouse...Chuck E. Cheese.

Times, they were a changin. And they certainly did. I was there through the overhaul and it was  heartbreaking to see. Out with the old and in with the new. It was the end of an era in my life.

I miss those times and I will never forget those memories at Showbiz Pizza... where a kid could really be a kid.

Monday, September 3, 2012

That song just blew my MIND!

We've all been there; that moment you hear a song for the first time and it leaves you breathless.
You try to explain it to someone but they just don't get it. You're like "It was all neer neer neer guitars, and waa waa waa vocals and I was just jammin..."

All the while, the person you are trying to get to feel the same emotion as you is just standing there like you have lost your ever loving mind.

I understand the euphoria that a song can give a person.

Take for example a moment in time, somewhere around 1990, shared by two people who barely even knew each other.

The people were me.... and a guy named Shawn. I was a sophomore in high school, he was a senior. We knew each other, but barely.

I was in front of my school, in the smoking area before my first class of the day. I saw him walking toward me from the parking lot. Well, not toward me necessarily, but the school.

I could see it in his face, though, he was looking for someone. Anyone! Someone he could unleash his elation onto.

He was wearing a t-shirt and faded Levi's (I'm guessing). His hair was blondish brown, kind of feathered on the sides. When, suddenly it was me...I was the lucky person he chose to share his music moment with.

He began to tell me he had just heard THE most amazing song. There were no words to the song, only instruments. He said he parked his car and just sat there until it was over and he didn't want it to end.  It was so moving, he said,  it brought tears to his eyes.

That was really the end of our conversation. School began and we never spoke of it again.
But I was on a mission to find out this song. It took me a few years, believe it or not before I even heard it myself. Or at least to recognize it was THE song.

Are you just dying to know the name of the song?!

Well before I tell you, I want you to know that I cherish these small moments in life. Now, more than ever.

The element of surprise is slowly fading from our society. Technology robs us of any suspense or waiting. We can type in a single word and discover volumes of information. Instant gratification.

As I said, it took me a hot minute (years) to figure out the song. I had something to do for two whole years, a mission of sorts. It was an amazing little journey and when I finally heard the song I said "That HAS to be it!" But even then I did not know the name of the band.  I could barely stand how close I was but still was not sure.

Luckily by that time I was able to ask a friend since the song had been out for a while. I was able to experience the same emotion as Shawn. I got to share with my friend this amazing song I had finally heard but still did not know the name of.

When he told me, I was like "Aahhhhh" Exhale, finally but what an adventure it was! I see that now. I see that it was an adventure, not an inconvenience.

Such small things in life are what I am after every day. That feeling of amazement and discovery.

The End.........Just kidding!!

The name of the song is Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson ....Amazing :)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Honey, please DON'T fix my dishwasher.

My dishwasher broke down two days ago. I thought, oh boy...dishpan hands. So for the past few days, yes, I have dishpan hands. But something surprising is happening. I find myself smiling while washing dishes. I am reflecting on good memories without even realizing I'm doing it.

When I'm standing there at the sink, gazing out my sunny window, I am thinking of my grandmas. I am doing a household duty the way they did it.

Although I usually have a working dishwasher, I still have liquid dish soap on hand for quick clean ups and I stick to the ones my grandmas used.

My maternal grandma used Palmolive which has the beautiful emerald green color. My paternal grandma used Dawn, the color of ocean blue.

When I use my Palmolive it transports me directly to my grandma's kitchen when I was little. She was at that sink more than three times per day cleaning up after all of us and never once complaining. She had a small, square kitchen in brown and beige. She made nourishing meals for us. For many years, I spent two weeks every summer at their house on the lake.

My paternal grandma was also very traditional and had such magnificent style. She had an eat-in kitchen in the shape of a rectangle. Soft blue and white are how I remember her kitchen with one door leading to the personally landscaped backyard and one door leading to the basement, where she did all her laundry. She had a sponge cleaner to wash dishes. I loved that little thing. It bright yellow in the shape of an everlasting gobstopper atop a magic wand. That is how I thought of it, anyhow.

I wish I could stand next to my grandmas right now while they wash dishes. I would watch them. I would admire them. I would ask them all about their lives.

My grandmas were very different from each other in many ways. But other ways, so very much alike. They were both excellent homemakers and both desperately devoted to their husbands.

I am going to take this broken dishwasher and learn from it. I am going to enjoy my time at the sink, gazing out the window. Honoring women of the past who worked so hard as homemakers. Harder than I've ever had to.

To my grandmothers: You are my idols, my teachers, my heroes. I miss you both every day and treasure memories of you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Give me back my glass bottles!! Please.

Not so long ago, we drank soda from glass  bottles. Then we recycled them....and it was fun!

I'm not talking about way back in the "olden days" either. It was as recent as the 80's.

When I was a kid, we had a designated space in the kitchen (or on the steps from the kitchen leading to the basement) for six-packs of glass bottles.

They were in cardboard covers and after you drank one, you simply put it back in it's cozy little case.

Once you got a good stack going you would load up the back of the car and take them to a local grocery store to exchange them for money.  You didn't just take them to a recycling plant, dump them and leave. You actually got some money back.

My stepmom loved Pepsi in the bottle. One of my favorite memories of her was when I would help her load the car with the bottles and we would go to our local mom and pop grocery store called Town & Country.

The front of the store were slightly tinted windows. The storefront sign with the logo on it had some dark brown wooden shingles.

You entered to a warped floor with patterned tiles, like the ones you had in school. (I still love those tiles). The aisles in the store were filled with food, drinks and an assortment of candy.

We would carry in our bottles and  take them to the cashier. There was no motorized belt or electronic cash register. You had to scoot your groceries and goods to the cashier and she had to manually type in each price. She would count each bottle and then give us money back for them.

I was always allowed to buy a candy bar with some of our winnings and this store had a variety like no other.

We would then drive home and go about our day. Chores, playing, cooking, baking, etc. It wasn't that hard to do. I don't understand why things are not still done that way.

Back then, if you wanted the treat of soda, you put in a little effort and didn't destroy the planet with plastic while doing so. You put in just a little work and not only helped preserve the environment, but also got a little money back.

I see recycling plants today and they are good, but they certainly do not minimize me love for glass, even if it is based on nostalgia.

I wish glass would make a comeback. I miss working for my privileges. I don't feel I'm entitled to drink soda from plastic and then just throw it into a pile in the earth, yet I am guilty of doing so.

I miss glass bottles and all they represent to me. I miss those simple moments with my stepmom.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Home on a Friday night? Never!

When I was a teenager you would never find me home on a Friday night.

Picture me at sixteen... long dishwater blonde, mile high hair with a spiral perm. Braces on teeth, tight-rolled stonewashed jeans and some type of t-shirt. Frequently, a Hyper Color shirt that changed colors when you touched it or, perspired *cough*.

A typical Friday for me would begin by driving myself to school in a 1987 Chevy Cavalier with a bumper sticker that read "Hey Dude"...yes you read that correctly. Arrive to school, sometimes late. If not late, would park my car and hang out in the smoking area in front of my high school.
(Some grown ups thought it was a good idea to have a smoking area at school...for the first time ever, I agreed with an adult)

Feeling happy that it was Friday, I would hang with my friends til the bell rang. Go to first hour and each class after. Usually, a mid morning nap in history, then finally....lunch time!

More smoking area after lunch. Finish rest of the day, all the while getting more and more excited for that last bell to ring and then SWEET WEEKEND FREEDOM!

Talking to everyone in the halls, trying to figure out the most happening events for the weekend ahead.

Drive home from school with radio blaring Poison or some other hairband. Usually would have a few passengers to drop off and then head home for a nap.

Wake up from nap, take a shower. Redo mile high hair and 80's makeup and head out the door to a party somewhere. Anywhere! Sometimes it was a field, sometimes it was a house. It really didn't  matter as long as I was NOT at home.

Back then there were no cell phones. Not even pagers yet. If they existed, we didn't know about it. No communication with parents whatsoever! Just out causing trouble and having fun. Not a care in the world.

That is how I spent my youth. From my teen years all the way through my twenties.

When I think of it now, those days seem so far away. Now, you're lucky to see me at the grocery store on a Friday.  I am such a homebody.

There is something intriguing about your teen years. That first step toward freedom from your parents is something words can't describe. It is almost an anxious feeling, but a good anxious. The possibilities seemed endless.

Funny, now when I drive away from my parents house, I cry.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Savannah Smiles + Tory= Memory Love

Back in 1982, my mom was trying to help me get through my parents' divorce. It had already been a few years but I just wasn't coping. However, there was one glimmer of hope for me in the form of a big sister. Not a real big sister, but from the actual organization. Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

Raising two kids on her own was hard enough for mom, add on top of that, a child who was angry and out of control (or constantly sobbing). It was hard times all around. She did all she could and then one day, brought me a gift by the name of Tory.

Tory was my new big sister and I was instantly drawn to her. I was happy around her and felt like maybe someone understood me. She was a teenager with long, curly brown hair and I couldn't wait for my visits with her!

She would take me out to dinner or to her friends apartment to go swimming in the pool. But one time, she took me to the movies. She took me to see Savannah Smiles.

It is a film about a little girl who feels ignored by her parents so she decides she must run away. A little extreme, even for the 80's, but it had an incredibly relatable context.

I sat in the theater next to my big sister, watching the movie. I felt so connected to Savannah. I loved her little bedroom. She had a framed Strawberry Shortcake poster hanging on the wall. Her brass bed was covered in frilly, yellow and white bedding. There was a gumball machine next to her little t.v.

But alas, even amidst all these wonderful "things" all she really wanted was her mom and dad's affection and attention. She ends up sneaking away from a park and climbs into a beat up car which happens to be the automobile of two escaped convicts named Alvie and Boots. They turn out to be  wonderful people (thank goodness) and return her safely to her family, but not before a whirlwind adventure.

By the end of the movie, my eyes were welling up with tears. This is the first movie I remember crying at and I was so embarassed. I did not want my big sister to see me cry but I know she saw. From that moment on, Savannah Smiles was embedded in my memory bank. I still think of her, all these years later.

There are but a few fictional characters that I hold this close to my heart. They are the only ones I could relate to. No real person could give me comfort at that age, no matter how hard they tried. That was, until I met my Tory. I still think of her often and sometimes, long to see her. I don't think I would even recognize her today. The details of her face have slipped from my memory.

I moved out of the state and lived with my dad around fourth grade and thought I'd never see Tory again. But I did, one time! My dad took me to a Michael Jackson concert (The Victory tour) which I believe was in July of 1984 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

We were walking to our seats and there she was, sitting at a booth, selling t-shirts. She was working the summer concert. There was my Tory! We hugged tight and said our hellos and goodbyes. That was the last time I ever saw her.

I think it's kind of magical that the concert tour was VicTORY and her name is TORY.
My memory of her (and Savannah) is pretty epic!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

I met a celebrity at Worlds of Fun! Well almost.

Worlds of Fun. It is one of the biggest and best memories of my youth. A theme park that has been in my memory since as far back as I can recall.

In elementary I remember going with my family. When I lived with my mom in Kansas, we would occasionally drive to KC, Mo to stay with family. And sometimes during those visits, we would go to Worlds of Fun!

The night before, my cousins and I could barely sleep! The anticipation of the next day's events were almost unbearable. Finally, the sun would come up and we would load into the station wagon. I loved sitting in the very far back with no seat belts, of course.

Once you saw the giant, colorful water tower, you knew the fun was about to begin! And it did. All day of fun at an amusement park. I saw several concerts there with the likes of The Charlie Daniels Band and one of my favorites, Juice Newton.  I have a few photos of myself on rides and I cherish them.

Fast forward to middle school. I was now living in KC with my dad. I had a season passport every summer to World's of Fun and I used the heck out of it. Went ALL the time! My friends and I would stay all day  until the park closed. At one point they opened up kind of a party tent. It was incredible. It was called Exit 54 (I had not yet learned about the infamous STUDIO 54) It opened in the evening and had the loudest 80's music you ever heard. You just danced your 80's hair flat until the park closed.

One time in eighth grade, word had spread that a celebrity would be at Worlds of Fun. Now, this was not uncommon as there were many concerts there. But this was different. There would be a celebrity using the park. Just walking around like a normal person! That celebrity was Jason Batemen.

I don't recall everything he was doing in the 80's acting wise, but I did know his sister was on Family Ties and I knew who he was without a doubt. A total fox.

So I went that day. I looked at every turn to catch a glimpse. I knew if he met me he'd want to marry me. I just knew it.

Word was out that he was on the Orient Express roller coaster, my favorite ride. So my friends and I go and wait at the exit for him. Suddenly people start stirring, I can tell he will be in front of me soon. I see him coming off the ride. Closer, closer.....and gone. Passed right before me. We didn't even make eye contact.

Well that was that. I literally went on with the rest of my day, went on with my summer. Went on with my life.

Since then I have looked at celebrities in a different way. You feel like you know them because they are in your life so much. Sometimes every day. But, we are not in theirs. I know now they are just working stiffs like the rest of us. They just happen to make big bucks, which is fine by me, I am very happy living the simple life.

That doesn't change the fact that pop culture is a huge part of my life. Music and movies have been my constant companions since I was very young.

Entertainers are valuable to me. I want to know everything about them. Who they are married to, what they eat, what is their favorite color. But unlike the  paparazzi,  I only want to know what they want me to know.

Despite popular opinion, their lives are not (or should not be) on display. Their WORK is what is public and what is on display.

P.S.  I am a huge Jason Bateman fan :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ramona Quimby, My BFF

Looking back at my early childhood I have to remind myself that in the midst of a family torn apart by divorce and turmoil, there was a bright and imaginative little girl. Me.

I sometimes think of the painful things, but more often than that, I think about the good things. I think about Ramona Quimby. If she and I had ever met I'm certain we would have been best friends because she was the only person who could possibly understand me.

In my youth, I checked out every Ramona book from the library. I've carried the memories with me forever. Sometimes I would stay up late in my room reading about her adventures. We were about the same age and how could I not want to be just like her?

From the time she squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste into the bathroom sink out of frustration, to the time she got her hair shampooed, cut and styled by a big time hairdresser. She even secretly wore her pajamas to school. I found myself having similar events in my own life.

One Saturday morning, my Mom took me to a hair salon and I felt just like Ramona. The sudsy shampoo smelled so good and it was relaxing to have my hair washed by a professional. When I was dried and styled I skipped up and down the ramp from the waiting area to the salon area, glimpsing in every mirror along the way, so proud of my new hairdo!

When I was in 4th grade we got to watch a movie in class one day (The Neverending Story).  I was sitting at my desk in the corner of the classroom. It was cloudy and rainy outside. I was next to the window enjoying the moment. So cozy. I was wearing my friend's jacket. Not just any jacket, this was a baby blue satin jacket with pink sleeves and a giant roller skate patch on the front. The best jackets ever created, in my opinion. Once again, I was feeling like Ramona.

I realize now that my love for Ramona Quimby was awakened by words and amazing writing. That is the sign of an extraordinary writer. Someone who can make you feel like your in the book alongside the characters. Like you are right there with them and emotionally attached. Feeling, smelling, tasting every written word. Stirring imagination without even a photo.

So thank you, Beverly Cleary. Thank you for sending me Ramona Quimby, my best friend forever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hubba Bubba Bubble Blowing Contest

At age ten or eleven,  I was in a Hubba Bubba Bubble Blowing contest at our local mall. My stepmom took me to this rather interesting experience.

I was incredibly excited to be there and felt very important for some reason. A really big deal, in my own mind.

As I was anxiously standing in the line, my heart was pounding fast. I was downright nervous. They began to pass out one piece of gum to each contestant. I remember the sweet smell as I unwrapped it. 
Once unwrapped, it had a textured, powdery coating on it. I popped it into my mouth and began to chew. I was on my way to winning this contest!

There were at least ten kids in front of me which gave me an edge and plenty of time to practice blowing bubbles. As I practiced, my nerves began to calm because I was blowing some impressive bubbles.

I kept practicing and watching the people in front of me as they took their turn. I was not only calm, I was getting a little cocky, too and asked for a second piece of gum to add to my first.

They complied, but as soon as I put it in my mouth, I knew I had made a mistake. My bubbles were no longer easy and big. They were thick and small!

My nerves started to get the best of me again and finally, it was my turn. With my sweaty palms, I stepped up onto the small stage.

You had to blow a bubble for the judge who had a circular type of ruler that was in the shape of a C and would expand smaller or larger.

I did it. I blew a bubble!

A tiny, thick, non winning bubble. POP it was over just like that!

No, I was not a bubble blowing winner that day. But I did not leave upset. I left learning that less is more and that if I ever had the chance to be in another Hubba Bubba Bubble Blowing contest, I would only chew one piece of gum!

I've not yet had the opportunity to claim that award but that's alright by me because this was a marvelous little experience in my youth that created a cherished memory.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Music Moment

Blame it all on my roots, I showed up in....Dr. Martens! BUT that did not stop me from loving country music. Yes I love rock and roll but the truth is I just love good music. If it's good, I'll listen.

This fabulous day of April 12, one major player in  my memory bank made a self titled debut album (in 1989). That memory maker, is Garth Brooks.

I remember the first time I ever heard "Friends in low Places". There are not many songs that I can place the exact moment I heard them for the first time, but this one, I can.

I was with a group of my friends. We were at someones house, sort of on a farm. Just out in the country and we were riding 4 wheelers. The music was coming from a truck and it was loud.

The song came on and we all listened. I don't know if any of them had heard it before or not but it seems to me that the DJ introduced Garth and this brand new song....Could it be that I happened to hear it the VERY first time it was EVER aired?! That I will never know.

But I do know the feeling the song gave me. We all got very quiet and listened to the song and we were slightly jamming, just a little. You know, nodding our heads, feeling the music.

It was just a really sunny day and this new song was making me feel incredibly  happy, elated, joyful!

By the end of the song I was just like Joey on the tv show Blossom.... WHOA!!!

I was sure to rush out and buy the cassette tape and almost every other cassette tape he released after that album.

Somewhere around 1995 ish, I finally got to see Garth in concert and it was the best show I have ever seen.

I am a rocker for sure but there are some country artists that also have my heart, Garth is #1 on that list.

I don't know what it is about music but it is one thing that can take you back to a single moment in time. You remember the smells, the scenery, the feelings, emotions. It's like your right there again!

Thanks for the memories Garth, they mean more than you know!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Born Just In The Nick Of Time

Once upon a time there was a little girl  born in the 70's. She grew up in the 80's. Became an adult in the 90's. Then turned into a wife and mother in the 2000's. Yes, hello, it's me!

I often hear people say they wish they had been born in a different era. Not me. I think I got the prime year of birth. The changes I have been able to witness are exciting.

At a young age, I got to experience the first day ever of MTV. I remember waking up one morning, going out to the living room where my brother was and turning on the tv. While flipping through channels, there it was. A music video was playing.  We had no idea what we were looking at but  our eyes were glued to the set and for good reason, we were experiencing history being made.

Fast forward to the 1990's when I first experienced the internet. I didn't understand it! I was baffled by internet "chat rooms". I went to visit my friend at college one weekend. I entered her dorm room where one of my friends was on the computer "chatting". I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I just kept asking how she was doing this? Who are you talking to? Do you know them? If you don't know them, WHY are you talking to them? I was utterly confused. It took a very long time for me to embrace the internet.

There you have it (a little taste of it) from the music, movies, pop culture, fashion, hairstyles, technology I have such vast variety of memories. I am lucky to have been born in the 70's!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Although divorce created chaos and sadness in my childhood, there are still good memories that come to mind.

My parents lived an hour apart from each other and I only saw my Dad every two weeks.  Of course I loved my Mom but when you only see one parent four days per month, like my Dad and me, you cherish your time together.

The ride home from my Dad's house after a short visit was dark and lonely for me, even in the daylight.  I would sit quietly in the car and dread saying goodbye.

But the trips TO his house for my bi-weekly visit, well that is a whole other story. I was joyful!

My favorite game to play in the car as  a little girl was Redbud. It's a simple game he taught my brother and me to play during spring. Such a small little thing to do, but it meant the world to me.

All you do is spot a tree with bright red or pink blooms and yell "Redbud!"

I love the springtime now and when I'm riding in the car with my kids I remember the feeling I had riding in the car with my dad, playing Redbud.

Sometimes the simplest memories bring you the most joy.

Arthur's Theme

Arthur's Theme (Best that you can do) ...This song has a way of sweeping me off to another time and place. It starts in my childhood an...