It was Fannie May for the holidays, still is!

The first Fannie May shop was opened in Chicago on LaSalle Street in 1920. After World War II, Fannie May was known for the Pixie candy but it was the mint melt-away created in 1963 that I wanted as a child. That every child, growing up at that time, wanted too. In fact, every child growing up.. even my own children decades later in the 1990’s. When I was a child, my Aunt would take me to her favorite Fannie May store on Chicago’s south side and help me select presents for family, friends and always my teachers. She let me have a special bag to select chocolates for me to take home. If during the holidays, it would be a foil covered Santa or Easter bunny along with other chocolate favorites.

Growing up, as a Mom in Downers Grove, I would take my two children to the Fannie May store on Ogden Avenue; following the same tradition as my Aunt taught me. The store is still open today to shop for your chocolate holiday favorites.

In 2003, Fannie May joined forces with Harry London Confections. In 2015, Fannie May partnered with the Chicago Cubs and launched the Chicago Cubs Collection. Today, Fannie May offers tasting events that are implemented in every store. These events showcase a specific flavor or assortment to better familiarize customers with products. Fannie May candy is great way to execute chocolate fundraisers.

Fannie May favorites can still be purchased:

Gingerbread Pixies (1 lb., $29.99) A cult favorite now includes smooth gingerbread flavored caramel and crunchy pecans coated in Fannie May milk chocolate, topped with chocolate sprinkles for extra holiday cheer this gifting season.

Holiday Pretzels (12pc, $19.99) An irresistible mix of sweet and salty, crunchy & creamy – his collection includes four milk chocolate covered pretzels, four dark chocolate covered pretzels, and four pretzels covered in white confection decorated with red and green drizzle – the perfect treat for your holiday table.

Holiday Mint Meltaways (1lb, $29.99) Creamy mint chocolate centers coated in sweet white confection & covered with just the right amount of red and green sugar crystals, making them the must-have table item for every holiday hostess.

Christmas Crew 7 oz. Hollow figures ($11.99 each) The delightful holiday characters, Santa, reindeer and elf are here to delight all as the perfect stocking stuffer for kids this holiday season!

Colonial (1lb, $24.99) Fannie May’s most popular assortment features a delectable selection of signature tastes – from our famous Pixies ® and Trinidads ® to our buttercreams, toffees and chocolate covered fruits.  A great gift for the chocolate lover or Chicago local.

Cashews & Assorted Nuts Tins (1 lb, $29.99 each) You can enjoy lightly salted Cashews or the perfect combination of pecans, almonds, and cashews in the elegant gift tin – perfect to have out as a snack around your holiday table.

The Good Old Days: Grandparents and Thanksgiving

Kempton was always known as the small town with the big heart; the town of my mother’s family beginnings; her grandparents, my grandmother who had passed away in 1958, aunts, uncles and my great aunt, Lulu Pearl. My earliest memories of Kempton were on Thanksgiving Day at Aunt Lu’s two bedroom corner, blue cottage neatly painted in white trim. A vegetable garden was meticulously maintained in the back with her specialties of beets and tomatoes while well-trimmed shrubs surrounded the foundation of the home.

Coming from the city, my immediate family was always the first to arrive while Aunt Lu called the others to join us on her believe it or not box phone with crank and real receptionist named Jenny. That gave me plenty of time to cut out the latest Betsy McCall and her clothes. After the rest of the family arrived, we took our places behind the long table in the dining room eating from her blue willow dishes. Pumpkin pie was always her winning recipe.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break is Grandparents Day at school; a wonderful time for those traveling to see their grandchildren. For our district, Grandparents Day is usually one of the biggest attended events with just grandparents…not sons or daughters who have kindergarten or early elementary children. Just for Grandma,  Grandpa and Grand friends…sometimes Aunts or Uncles if Grandma can’t attend. Over 300 attended today. Many become new Grandparents on that day for children who do not have a guest. A study out of the University of Oxford found children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school.

Though she never learned to drive, Aunt Lu would find her way to our house in the city by my cousin every summer. I could always count on a game of Yahtzee every time I offered and she always made the best fried potatoes in town. Because of unpredictable weather, the winter months were generally confined to her little town in Kempton but one year she came to stay and had arrived two days after Christmas. It was unusual for her to venture out in the cold months but my father was in the hospital. Children were not allowed to visit during the 1960’s and Aunt Lu felt she could help.

During her first night’s visit, the phone had disturbed our usual game of Yahtzee and after that I found that Aunt Lu could offer so much more than games. It was a nurse from the hospital; my father had passed away. Though I was 12 and tried to be adult, Aunt Lu let me cry as long as it took, keeping her arms around me, never tiring or disturbing me from my tears. What incredible timing for Aunt Lu’s calming patience in such a terrible storm. Ten years later, Aunt Lu passed away after passionately celebrating her 90th birthday with her family.

Today, I appreciate the towering strength she provided that day and the strenuous days that followed; never perceiving the no pomp and circumstance woman as one of the most salient women I was blessed to know. And I try to follow her loving example everyday reminding myself that every tragedy as has a reason.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Over the river and through the woods

For me as a child, it was a combination of singing the song in elementary school. It was a tune that could not be forgotten easily and once sung…the song would be constantly playing in your mind as a Thanksgiving celebration throughout the next holiday season. I also read the poem in a book partnered with an illustrated painting by Grandma Moses. At a young age, I was always fascinated by her story that she became famous artist as a senior citizen. Her primitive paintings were always something I thought I would copy….even today I try…since I loved her country scenes. When I was nine, I received my first book of her paintings.

The poem was originally published as “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”  and written in 1844, Lydia Maria Child. And it was not about going to Grandmas house but Grandfathers.The poem was eventually set to a tune by an unknown composer.  Lydia was a well known author during the time leading up to the Civil War. She wrote a periodical for kids and popular books for housewives with tips to help manage their households. In 1835 she wrote The History of the Condition of Women in Various Ages and Nations that was later an inspiration to women suffragists.

In 1833 she published An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans, which called for the immediate emancipation of all slaves which did not make her popular.

According to Wikipedia, the original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song. The verses in bold are the ones I and my family remember:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

Lincoln Logs

During morning kindergarten indoor recess, the first day we built a one room log cabin with green planks that was special greenery which surrounded the cabin. The young, creative student did most of the work and asked if we could do this again the next time we had indoor recess. The second recess indoors, she showed me how to build a larger cabin with more rooms and we added a door. The third time in the picture, we built more floors and added a roof. I am so grateful for this kindergarten student to help me learn this new art.  When growing up, I just was not creative with Lincoln Logs and jealous of the friends that were good at it. During my elementary years, I was not mature enough to ask for help. And Tinker toys never thrilled me either. Legos and my children were best friends; another article for another time.

Lincoln Logs are a popular U.S. children’s toy consisting of square-notched miniature logs used to build small forts and buildings. They were invented around 1916 by John Lloyd Wright, second son of the well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The toy sets were originally made of redwood, with varying colors of roof pieces. In the 1970’s, the company unsuccessfully introduced sets made entirely of plastic, but soon reverted to real wood.  

K’Nex, the current distributor of Lincoln Logs, says they were named after former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln because he was born in an old-fashioned log cabin. They had been manufactured in China for awhile since a U.S producer for small wood parts could not be found. In 2016, they returned to the U.S. K’Nex contracted with wooden golf-tee manufacturer Pride Manufacturing Company, a small company in Burnham, Maine.

K’Nex offers a variety of Lincoln Log collections that include the actual construction of a specific building such as a package to build Oak Creek Lodge or Horseshoe Hill Station. The wooden pieces are responsibly made in America, with 70% of the wood coming from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests or other forestry-managed timberland. K’Nex also offers other products of building games for kids.

Vintage Lincoln Log sets are available on Ebay and there is one set from 1923. Most sets run between 10-50 dollars. One set, however, is 100 dollars and has over 400 pieces. Some sets actually included a beautifully illustrated design book.

Boy….my kindergarten friend and I still had a lot of pieces to use…maybe we could build a whole town or………………

 

 

What ever happened to sky blue?

The other day some of the kindergarten students were drawing a hopscotch game on the playground. When you get to the giant circle that was the number 10, somebody said they thought you die and go to heaven. No…I had to correct them even though now there are tons of different rules and regs for hopscotch. When you reach the circle, you yelled sky blue. I don’t know about others but when I am reminded of this game, the only words I can think about is SKY BLUE. But the children of today did not buy it.

Many neighborhood friends when I grew up played hopscotch together. When I was little, like 4 or 5 years old, the older kids would draw the chalk games on the sidewalks in front of our homes. Using a rock to roll to the basic numbers of 1 through 10 and skipping on each number with one foot but picking the rock up with your hand on the block(number) you rolled to. Now, we did not get creative as the game does suggest today. The rules can include   calling out “one foot”, “left foot”, etc. Children also have to hop backward to return, which requires the reversal of numbers. Depending on the rules of play, children may need to call out the numbers as they land on them.

An ancient form of hopscotch was played by Roman children in the 17th century. The original courts were much longer.There are many other forms of hopscotch played across the globe. And in some games, sky blue becomes plum pudding or cat’s cradle according to the English.

Make a cardboard game for indoor fun and by doing so in the example, you actually separate the letters with longer spaces in between to help build coordination and fun. Its a wonderful way to learn how to hop on one foot or two which is exactly what kindergarten students are learning in physical education classes. You can actually purchase indoor hopscotch games.  Learning Carpets 79” by 26” Hopscotch Play Carpet is available on Amazon in different patterns. No chalk required! Toss a stone, coin or bean bag and hop your way through the numerical maze.

The next time I see a hopscotch diagram being draw on the playground, I am just adding sky blue in the top circle whether they like it or not. That is why I am one of the playground supervisors at recess!

Quija Boards

When I was a pre-teen playing with my first board on the dining room table with friends, I would ask if I would marry and it always said yes. How right the board was! Would I have children, yes…true again. How many….I can remember four and I only have two. Trying to spell out what spirit was talking to us was always a difficult mess. We would get a letter or two but we were not quite bright enough to make a spiritual match from heaven. Would I be wealthy or rich? The planchett placed beneath our fingers would never say yes or no but sometimes good bye. Money in the bank today, I could claim,just enough, but for many, I am in rich in love, family, job and friends.

Sometimes, when the planchett was really moving across the board, we would get either scared and stopped playing or blame each other for pushing it in a desired direction. In some households, the game was not allowed because some religions felt it was demonic. My parents did not like the board…not sure how I had one…..friends may have brought their own game to play. It seemed to be used only for fun around Halloween or a sleep over. My own children were allowed to use a board during the Halloween season or a sleep over, but again, their group of friends got out of hand when it came to the movement of the planchett.

In 1886, the New York Daily Tribune reported on a new talking board being used in Ohio. It was 18 by 20 inches and featured the alphabet, numbers, and the words yes, no, good evening, and goodnight; the only other necessary object was a “little table three or four inches high … with four legs” that the spirits could use to identify letters. This table was called an Idometer and caused muscle movement or reflexes to move an object not a spirit visiting the household but the later thought took off in popularity.

In 1966, the Ouija boards were sold to Parker Brothers, which manufactured the modern boards as we know them today. In 1991, Parker Brothers was sold to Hasbro, which now holds all the Ouija rights and patents. Today, according to the Museum of Talking Boards  there is truly aa renaissance afoot. Hasbro, who currently owns Parker Brothers upped their game in 2008 by introducing a controversial pink version aimed at teen girls. Then in 2013, they stunned everyone by breaking tradition completely with a redesigned, much darker themed Ouija board equipped with a light up planchette that automatically illuminates hidden messages on the board.

Hollywood has jumped on the use of the board in movies and television. Ouija is a 2014 American supernatural horror film that was a huge success where young girls try to burn the board but it comes back to life.  Ouija: Origin of Evil came out in 2016; another American supernatural horror film. The film is a prequel to the 2014 film,grossing over $81 million.

Many talking board enthusiasts are creating public shows and events. While experts claim that there is nothing evil about the mystic board; many have assured customers  that it is just a game. I am, yet, to be convinced.

 

“Treat Your Boo” Event with Pet Costume Contest

Through the years, I have loved picking out Halloween yearly costumes for myself and my own children. Though, I never thought about dressing up the guinea pig we had for a short time and our cats. I assist in a kindergarten class and I wonder if they are going to dress up their favorite pets. Actually, we have a new kitten at home…she might look good in the lion costume. PetSmart is truly the place to share this Halloween holiday with your entire family. You can enjoy picking out ghoulish goodies, classic costumes, and spooky toys for your dog, cat or even your guinea pig.

Have you ever dressed up your guinea pig as a mermaid? What about serving your pets special Happy Halloween treats or have them hang out in their own haunted house? At PetSmart,the leading pet specialty retailer in North America, online and in stores, you will find a full range of costumes for small breeds plus large dog outfits. A variety of pet accessories are available that include different collars, bandannas, bows and hats as well as Halloween bedding.

Pet parents are invited to PetSmart stores nationwide for a “Treat Your Boo” event on Saturday, Oct. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. local time. Dogs will be able to learn tricks for treats, and pet parents can fill a treat bag for their pet, at PetSmart’s exclusive Trick or Treat stations. The party will feature a costume contest with awards for first, second and third place, plus a certificate for social media bragging rights.

To make those social media posts really shine, stores will offer photos with Chance the Mascot for pet parents to share with followers by tagging with #petsmartparties. For those who want to keep the pet Halloween party going, free yard signs will be available at the event letting neighbors know that dogs are invited to their homes to trick or treat on Halloween night.

And after asking a few in my kindergarten class if they were dressing up their pets, some said that their pets were going to be disguised as pumpkins. More pet parents and families are choosing costumes for their pets in celebration of Halloween as well as pets being included in birthdays, and all sorts of celebratory events.

What a perfect time right now to attend pet parades while sharing pet photos of this dress up event on social media. PetSmart truly enjoys helping pet families share their ultimate experiences of fun together.

The Addams family: Through the decades

Morticia was my favorite Halloween costume and growing up in the 1960’s, the original series was just fun. Watching madly in love, Gomez, speaking in Italian, kissing his wife’s arm, was my first opportunity to watch true love between a wealthy monster couple. Far more realistic than the Munsters. Gomez and Morticia,along with their children, Pugsley and Wednesday, were human with crazy cousins and horrifying looking servants like Lurch. In 1964, a live-action television series, starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones, premiered on ABC , only airing for two seasons.

Subsequently, the series inspired a 1977 television film with the original cast. Another Addams Family movie was created in 1991;  American supernatural black comedy film based on the characters from the cartoon created by cartoonist Charles Addams and the 1964 TV series produced by David Levy. Directed by former cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld in his screen directing debut, the film stars Angelica Huston, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Morticia Addams. In 1993, Adamms Family Values was another sequel film featuring many of the same cast members as in 1991. Both received nominations for Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Hugo Awards. The films inspired a second animated series (1992–1993) set in the same fictional universe but with Astin reprising his role as the voice of Gomez. It was nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards, including one for Astin.  In 1998, the Adamms Family Reunion was launched. In 2010, The Adamms Family also become a Broadway musical.

Currently, an Adamms family video is creating a stir among millions of little ones. The video is sponsored by Go Noodle, a collection of videos for children recommended by child experts that engages movement and mindfulness; at home or at school. My current kindergarten class absolutely loves the Adamms family video and asks for it constantly; following the dance moves they see. That is where Wednesday and Pugsley dance to the same silly song as I did in front of the television set, snapping their fingers. My group really tries to snap along with them; some choose clapping instead but they do show me when they are successful snappers.

On October 11th, The Addams Family (2019) will be available; an upcoming American 3D computer-animated comedy horror film based on the comics of the same name by Charles Addams. The film is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, and will star the voices of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Nick Kroll, Snoop Dogg, Bette Midler, and Allison Janney. Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley and Uncle Fester square off against a reality television show host.

The first day of school

Nobody took a picture of me on my first day of the school year and posted on Facebook for all of my family/friends to see. Not in 1961. In my early elementary years, no one really explained what was going on. Back in those days, it was one moment at a time and not much forethought was counseled a head of time. Just go and do. I was terrified of school until fourth grade. All I remember about the first days of kindergarten is my father dropping me off and meeting my school teacher, Mrs. O’Brien, at Thomas Hoyne School, her last year before retirement. And that made her wonderful because she was the Grandma I didn’t have at home and she had a way treating her students with kindness, patience, and one that encouraged early talents in special ways.

My own children followed the same tradition since they did not have social media. And my son began to cry as he was coerced to ride the kindergarten bus. Thankfully, back then, kindergarten was only a half a day.

As an assistant in the kindergarten classroom this year, I also help in the main hallway, while students from ages kindergarten to second grade, enter for the beginning of the school year. And I am excited… not only meeting new students today but hugging those that I have known the last two years. The buses begin to arrive before 8:00 am and at 7:40 we open our doors. Some run to me with new outfits, backpacks, and,of course, I am amazed how tall they are. One kindergarten student is crying and does not want to let go of Mom, and one first grade girl that I had last year, stops, gives me a hug and helps me with the new student.

As the day continues, I had forgotten all about the exhaustive first day episodes in kindergarten. Some runners, some criers, lots of trips to the washroom, constant classroom reminders to raise your hand and learn how to form a straight line. I had forgotten about the numerous questions when lunch was scheduled after morning snack, how many times they wanted to play on the playground, and when was it time to go home…they missed their brother, their sister, or their new pet. I had forgotten the need to be pushed on the swings. I had forgotten that I needed to increase my dose of Aleve for the day as a result of my continued mobility.

But at the end of the day, some gave me more hugs, beautiful smiles, and one young gentleman gave me a dandelion on the playground; thanking me for tying his shoe. Nobody missed their rides or buses home….not that I am aware of anyway. And most of all, they remembered my name which is something I am still working on as far as their names are concerned.

And as we send them off to after school programs, Mom’s, Dads, babysitters and Grandparents, I know this will be a wonderful school journey for all of us.

Year after year, many of us, as educators repeat the rituals of going to school. Though academics are certainly important, the best lessons that we can teach our students is love and understanding that eventually builds trust to sustain them for a lifetime. We owe it to their future; giving them the caring time and genuine attention they need everyday.

As an educator, parent, grandparent or friend, never underestimate the power that you have to make a difference in one child at a time.

Never underestimate the gift of a child……right back at ya!!!

Archie forever

Archie teenage comics were popular during my pre-teen years and Veronica Lodge instead of Betty Cooper was always my favorite. When I would grab one and read, they would make me day dream about what it would be like when I started high school in 1969. There was a store called Cozy Corner on the south side of Chicago by South Chicago Hospital where we bought penny candy but there was a store across the street who sold the best selection in magazines and comics. That is where my Archie Andrews and Jughead came from; only costing about 12 cents. Comics were not just titled Archie but Jughead was titled along with Betty and Veronica; having their own issues.Though the hospital is still there and has expanded, the stores are gone.

Riverdale is the fictional small town where the characters grew up and attended Riverdale High. I moved to Dolton in 1971 and Riverdale was a suburb next door…still reading Archie and Archies’s rival Reggie in my teenage years.

Though there was no kissing…it was pure fun and jokes.  Archie drove an old fashioned car convertible from the 1920’s and would occasionally make a call from a phone booth. They would do everything together; bowling, going to the beach, shopping for new clothes.They actually went to Als pizzeria and would get two pieces for the price of one. Archie was always in trouble with their old teacher, Ms, Grundy or the principal, Mr. Weatherbee. There were times they would dance, walk close, staring at each other with the printed red hearts floating about; sometimes Archie with Veronica…sometimes with Betty. The publishers would keep you guessing until issues # 600–602. The story features a futuristic look into the life of Archie in the years that follow his college graduation when Archie makes his ultimate decision to marry Veronica instead of Betty Cooper in 2009.

Archie proved to be popular enough to warrant his own self-titled ongoing comic book series which began publication in the winter of 1942 and ran until June 2015. A second series began publication in July 2015, featuring a reboot of the Archie universe with a new character design aesthetic and a more mature story format and scripting, aimed for older, contemporary teenage and young adult readers. The printed comic book format is different from the previous publications.

I miss the wholesome lives of the Riverdale comic characters and wish I had saved at least one copy for times like these.

The most valuable Archie comic book ever known to have been sold went for more than $140,000. Archie made his first appearance in a comic book in 1941, in the issue “Pep No. 2”; that’s the one which made the big money.

Amazon offers an amazing copy from 1966.There are several Ebay copies for purchase as well. Maybe just one….it is a Betty and Veronica from 1968…no longer 12 cents but under $15.00?