A Walk Down Memory Lane

When you are visiting your childhood home, you may encounter many things that spur memories from when you were young.  For example:

growingup2 growingup3 wholefamily wallpaper 

Explanation for that final image: When my parents were looking to move out of their apartment and into a house, I was about two years old.  They walked into this house to look at it.  I took off my coat, sat down on that fireplace, and made myself comfortable.  That’s how my parents knew this was the house for us.

GE Kids Day Animal Encounters

My boys love animals. So when we went to GE Kids Day in Albany’s Empire State Plaza, they loved seeing the different animals that were there.

First up were some bears.  Ok, perhaps these weren’t real animals, but they still loved seeing the Care Bears.


They also liked seeing some of the other costumed animals roaming around.


Onto the real animals, though.  As we approached the two by two petting zoo, we saw this cute turtle and rabbit pair.


From here, we moved on to some goats who were quite happy that kids were offering them leaves to eat.  It was like an all-you-can-eat-goat-salad-bar.


Moving on from the goats, there was a red kangaroo that was taking it easy in the hot, midday sun.


Then, there was a black and white lemur whose screech was quite impressive.  (Sadly, he stopped screeching as soon as I got my camera set on video mode.  Mischievous little lemur!)


A blue and gold macaw was sitting pretty on a perch.


Prowling around their cage were a pair of coatimundi – omnivorous animals that are related to raccoons.


There were also a few lizards and an alligator that NHL and JSL got to pet.


After the petting zoo, we moved onto an animal experience of a different kind.  NHL and JSL got to ride a pony.  NHL has ridden one before, but this was in kindergarten so he likely doesn’t remember it.  This was JSL’s first pony ride.  They both donned helmets and one after the other got atop Zoe the Pony for a ride.


Alongside the pony ride were some baby chicks, goats, and sheep to look at as well.


Given that the boys and I made lots of new memories and that this experience has deepened the boys’ love of animals, this was a wonderful way to spend a day.

Sparking A Love of Disney

BJ132Looking to the future, and going to Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I’ve also been thinking back to what sparked my love of Disney.  I’ve always liked Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, and Toy Story.  I’ve also loved some of the short cartoons, especially Goofy.  Still, my enjoyment of Disney didn’t quite spark into full-blown Disney Love until B & I got married.  That’s when she convinced me to take our honeymoon in Walt Disney World.

shadesFor our honeymoon, we stayed in the Beach Club resort, a stone’s throw from Epcot and Hollywood Studios (then called Disney-MGM Studios).  We not only rode on classic rides like Small World, but we saw fireworks at Epcot, had incredible meals, took some behind the scenes tours, and even visited the water parks.   (Though the latter doesn’t exactly hold pleasant memories considering that we found out that B could sunburn in a half hour even *with* sunscreen on.)

legolionThe overall Disney World experience had me enthralled.  Nobody knows customer service like Walt Disney World.  They would repeatedly go out of their way to make us feel special.  They must see thousands of honeymooners every month, but they made us feel like our celebration was extra-special.  I was hooked.

Since then, we’ve brought little bits of Disney home with us.  When our kids were old enough, we brought them to Disney World and the pixie dust magic quickly hooked them as well.  Every trip back brings some familiar sights and yet is special in its own way.

Hostess Memories

P1070227Growing up, I loved the rare Twinkie or Hostess cupcake.  Are they healthy to eat?  Not by a long shot.  Are they as good in quality as a fresh baked treat?  Of course not.  Still, there’s something special (and nostalgic) about opening that package and eating those cream filled cakes.

When I heard that Hostess was declaring bankruptcy, I felt a wave of sadness.  I hadn’t eaten one of their snack cakes in years.  I couldn’t even remember if NHL or JSL had ever eaten one.  I know that the bankruptcy will likely just be a reorganization of the business, but I decided to introduce my kids to this snacking phenomenon.

P1070226We went to the grocery store and stopped by the display.  I let the boys pick out a box each.  NHL decided he wanted Twinkies.  JSL chose the chocolate-y Suzy Q’s. (I was secretly hoping that they would pick the cupcakes so I could show them how to peel off the fudge-like top to save for the end.)

When snack-time rolled around, the boys were highly impatient.  They wanted to dive right into the snack cakes and didn’t appreciate that dad was taking so long with the pre-snack photographs.


P1070233Up first was the venerable Twinkie.  Introduced in 1930, it’s a snack cake that many generations have enjoyed.  My boys loved seeing the little yellow cake come out of the package and get unwrapped.  To better take a shot of the cream in the middle, I split the Twinkie in two and showed the boys the delicious filling.  As a bonus, this meant that I could give each boy a half of a snack cake.  They could each try both cakes. This way.

P1070234NHL seemed to love the Twinkie.  At least, that’s the impression I got when, after an initial bite, he nearly shoved the remaining Twinkie in his mouth whole.  JSL seemed to savor it more.  He liked it but wasn’t as enthusiastic.  (He really is a chocoholic and Twinkies completely lack chocolate.)

Up next was the Suzy Q.  Suzy Qs are much younger than Twinkies (introduced in 1961).  To be honest, I don’t think I had ever eaten one.  After taking my picture, I split the cake into two and gave the pieces to the boys.

P1070237NHL and JSL both loved this one, but their levels of appreciation were reversed.  JSL loved each and every bite of the chocolate, cream filled cakes.  NHL, meanwhile, liked it but wasn’t as enthused as he was with the Twinkie.

In the end, the boys loved the cakes.  B and I split one of each of the cakes also.  They were good, but I’ve got to admit that I remember them being better.  Perhaps the haze of memory and nostalgia has enhanced how I remember them tasting or perhaps my tastes have simply grown up.  Most likely, a combination of both of these.  Still, they were good.  I’m not going to make eating these a daily routine, but as a once in a very long while treat for the boys, they aren’t too bad.

Do you buy Hostess (or similar) snack cakes for your kids?

Concert Memories

This year, NHL was able to join his school’s band and choose an instrument.  He decided to select the drums.  Last night, he had his first concert.  The days preceding it were filled with him getting more and more anxious about the big day.

I tried to calm him down with a tale about one of my concerts when I was growing up.  I quickly realized why this wasn’t a good story and shortened it.  I told NHL that I was very nervous and my orchestra teacher gave me the option of not going onstage.  I decided to go through with it and had a great concert.  All this is true, but (for NHL’s sake), I left out the part where my nerves overwhelmed my stomach and I hurled in the hallway.  I don’t think that detail would have helped him any.

Even NHL’s fortune cookies seemed to be telling him to push through.


In any event, the big day came and NHL went off to his band.  Up first was the orchestra.  While they played, memories began flooding back.  As I mentioned above, I was in the orchestra.  I played violin for many years.  I was actually kind of coerced into playing.  My orchestra teacher at the time seemed overly anxious to get me to join.  He asked me how I would respond if, in a future job interview, I was asked what instrument I played.  Naive kid that I was, I didn’t want to risk my future employment by not being able to play a violin.  (You’d be surprised how rarely that question came up in my job interviews, though.  It’s almost as if employers don’t care whether their web master can play a violin!)

In any event, the orchestra at NHL’s school began to play a tune pizzicato.  This means that they didn’t use bows, but instead plucked the strings during the songs.  Suddenly, my fingers began tingling.  I could almost feel those thin, metal strings digging into my index finger with each note played.

Then, watching the kids’ fingers move, I remembered the anxiety I felt over my finger placement.  There are about 8 different places your fingers could rest on the strings (including one position with no fingers on the strings).  Each finger-string placement results in a different note.  There are also 4 strings.  Which string to play and which finger placement to use is represented by one note.  Just one.  When you look at the sheet music you need to see the note, remember that this means to play this particular string with these fingers in place, get them in place, play the note, and then move on to the next note.  I was never very good at this.  I just could not do all this fast enough.

NHL, luckily, chose the drums.  Although this entails playing the bells (aka the xylophone), for which he does need to hit certain keys at certain points, the drums mainly require him to keep a steady beat.

When his time came, NHL went up with 2 of his drumming classmates and played Mary Had A Little Lamb.  He did a fantastic job and we were all very proud.  NHL realized that his nervousness before the concert faded away and he had a blast.

When you were in school, did you play an instrument? If so, were you nervous before performances?

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