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The Punky Brewster Shoes

MY MOTHER: I bet you still have those nasty Punky Brewster shoes stashed away somewhere.

ME: Why yes, yes I do.

At the height of popularity of the television series Punky Brewster (It couldn’t have been too popular, because NBC cancelled it after only two seasons.), there was much Punky Brewster merchandise available (That right there would have been a good reason to keep it on the air.). I had a Punky Brewster T-shirt, backpack, Punky & Brandon dolls, bead kit, and clay pin kit. I even had a Halloween costume, which was actually very silly because I looked more like her in my normal clothes than in a plastic mask and vinyl suit. But what I liked the best and got the most use out of were my Punky Brewster shoes. They were hightops (that was the popular style way back then).

My Punky Brewster shirt. Sorry it is wrinkled. I keep it in the back of a dresser drawer. A bird pooped on it once, but I have washed it since then.

My Punky Brewster shirt. Sorry it is wrinkled. I keep it in the back of a dresser drawer. A bird pooped on it once, but I have washed it since then.

It always bothered me that, contrary to all reason, they did not actually look like the shoes that Punky wore on the show! On my TV, she wore what appeared to be two totally different colored Converse All-Stars. (I just realized that I originally watched Punky Brewster only in black and white—can you imagine!) Maybe the problem lay in that the contract for the shoes most likely did not fall to Converse for manufacture. Maybe someone was afraid two different shoes would become parted at the store. Unfortunately, the shoes matched each other, but they WERE multi-colored. They said Punky Brewster on them. They must have come with boring laces (As if!), because I quickly replaced them with neon green ones. My son asked me, “Did you color the laces?” I could see where he would be confused. I recently DID color some laces, and the shoes as well. I responded emphatically, “No. It was the 80s, a wonderful, colorful time.” [Rant: Now we live in a time when Simon is trying to remove all color from the world and reduce us all to only black and white, starting with their malls across the country.]

Such a cool box! There is even a pic to color inside the lid and a maze on the bottom.

Such a cool box! There is even a pic to color inside the lid and a maze on the bottom.

My mom bought the shoes very large-2 ½-because they didn’t have my right size. I wore them as long as my feet would fit in them. There was even a big P or something on the sole. But I wore them until it was gone. I loved those dang shoes. I cannot imagine why my mother thought I would actually throw them out when I was done with them. The more she asked, the deeper I hid them in the back of my closet. Sometimes I would bring it up just to spite her. I have brought them with me through three moves. The effect of heat and moisture may be reflected on their deterioration, but they are still a treasured possession.

Anyone willing to pay me big bucks for these very worn but highly collectable footwear? One million? One thousand? Going once, going twice...

Anyone willing to pay me big bucks for these very worn but highly collectable footwear? One million? One thousand? Going once, going twice…

So now, you know if you are ever around me and I mention “Punky Brewster shoes” that I am bragging about my mad hoarding skillz.

Don’t get me started on all the photographs I have, both digital and snapshots, that I am trying to store and keep organized.

For more of my Punky-related posts, please click here:

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!



Remember This?: Charms

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Me wearing my charms at my favorite lighthouse

Me wearing my charms at my favorite lighthouse

This post will only be appealing to Gen X girls. And actually I was only at the very tail end of Gen X, so am not even sure how accurate that assessment is.

When I was in elementary school, it seemed like there was a new fad every week. I didn’t always understand them at such a young age, but I tried to keep up anyway. I’m sure I mostly failed.

I remember in first grade people had something called “friendship pins.” They seemed to consist of beads on safety pins that you hooked on your shoe laces. I think this was just before the majority of shoes switched over to velcro closure in the mid-1980s. I still have some of the beads I got from them, although I can’t imagine who claimed to be my friend at that time.

I also remember stickers. It seemed as though they lasted longer; long enough for me to fill up five books full. (My favorite was always the scratch’n’sniff cinnamon roll. Yum.) Our local mall had a little store that  sold only stickers–rolls and rolls of stickers hanging off the walls.

Garbage Pail Kids sharing a box with charms and New Kids on the Block cards

Garbage Pail Kids sharing a box with charms and New Kids on the Block cards

I remember Garbage Pail Kids. I participated, but didn’t like them as well. They were harder to get because I only knew one place to buy them and my mom had to make a special trip there so that I could purchase them. And they were more expensive than regular stickers. I had some cards from series 1-4, having the most for series 2, but never a complete set. I had a mother who convinced me that I never needed a complete set of any toy–it was her way of not having to buy me so much stuff. (Pretty genius on her part, actually. Doesn’t seem to work as well on my own child.)

There were friendship bracelets and jelly bracelets. But I think my most favorite fad was charms.

Vintage 1980s charm necklaces

Vintage 1980s charm necklaces

They were these little colored pieces of plastic, shaped into everything you could imagine, that hooked onto a necklace. It was very popular to trade them. I don’t think I traded much, because I liked the ones I had and didn’t want to part with them.

The chains were plastic too, and came in small links and large links and every color of rainbow, sometime on the same chain. Once again, it seemed like stores at the mall were the best place to purchase charms; whatever was the equivalent to Claire’s at that time. Charms came in the shape of radios, headphones (non-functioning, of course), roller skates (this was pre-roller blades), and shoes. I had one of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle. Rumor was that it contained real Coke (for sure it contained a brown-colored liquid). I felt fortunate to have some that were thought to be hard-to-find, such as a toilet, with opening lid and seat, a baby bottle, and a clear bottle with colored pills in it. Ya, seeing as kids were buying these, I never thought the pill bottle was age appropriate. Or the bottle with the Old Grand-Dad whiskey label. But they were fun to possess anyway.

Close-up of my awesome charms

Close-up of my awesome charms

I still have my charms. I have hauled them from my childhood home to my first apartment to my first home. I keep my charms in a shoebox. I know they are silly junk I should have sent to the landfill decades ago. But they are all so pretty and colorful. Some have little bells on them that jingle when you lift them out of the box.

And it is a good thing I still have them so that I can provide pictures for this post.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It CLICK HERE TO WIN!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!


This is a little tail that will show you again what a powerful manifester I am when I set my mind to something. (A great past post on this subject is Pharamacy Giraffe.)

When I was little, for some holiday (seems like maybe it was Easter), I received a silly little tic-tac-toe game. It featured cats and mice as the playing pieces. Now, I never really played with it that much. I was an only child of a mother who purchased board games for me, but didn’t like to play them. So, I played it by myself until I got bored. It spent a lot of time sitting on the shelf collecting dust. One day, and I feel like I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade, because it was very soon after we moved into our trailer, I was playing with this very game when something TRAGIC happened…

Cat & Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe copyright 1982 Giftco, Inc.

Cat & Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe, copyright 1982 Giftco, Inc.

Let’s back up for a moment here. Let me tell you something about my trailer. It was in a trailer park, so there really wasn’t much yard. I spent a lot of time sitting on the concrete steps, playing or reading or whatever. They were plain and boring and hard. They did not even have a railing up to the door as so many other trailers had.

What it DID have was a giant gap between the steps and the skirting (the metal trim around the bottom of a mobile home that covers up all the pipes and wheels and crap that are underneath it). My mom always cautioned me not to lose toys or anything down there. She was not going to retrieve them. I was a little kid. My mom had proven she could do almost anything. So then why couldn’t she move four concrete steps? I figured she just didn’t want to. I also suggested that we just shove the steps up closer to the house. But she explained about how the ground moves due to the freezing and thawing. And to illustrate her point, there was already a dent in the skirting from the years prior to us living there.

A picture of the steps. And my gramma. Because I miss her very much.

A picture of the steps. And my gramma. Because I miss her very much.

So, one fateful day, a mouse from my tic-tac-toe game fell BEHIND the steps! That fast, my game became tic-tac-DOH, as Homer Simpson would say. I cried and cried that I wanted it back. What good was a tic-tac-toe game with only 8 pieces? (What is a tic-tac-toe game good for at all, really? It is usually played with only a paper and pen!) I kept thinking there must be a way to move those steps.

I eventually put a pink pencil eraser with the set, to simulate the missing pink mouse. For years, I looked at those steps and knew that mouse was behind them, just out of my reach. Sure, other things fell back there over the years. Some things we could push out using a yard stick (meter stick, if you are international). I lived there for 15 years. And as much school studies, college tests, and pop culture trivia as I crammed into my brains in that time, I NEVER forgot about that little mouse, all alone, hungry and cold, behind those steps. Day after day he suffered back there in silence. I never gave up hope that one day I might see him again. I kept the game all those years, after all. A game I didn’t even play.

Then one day, that all changed…

After I moved out and then my mother, the landlord pulled our trailer out and sat it up by the road, for sale to the best offer. That is terribly depressing, but what happened next was NOT!

My old home was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

My old home was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

My then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I went to poke around the old homestead. The home where I had spent the formative years of my life, now brutally removed, leaving nothing but two long slabs of concrete, some water lines, and some blue-stained dirt.*

Can you guess what I looked for?

Can you guess WHAT I FOUND?!!

I found my mouse!

The mouse that was under my house!

I couldn’t wait to call my mom and tell her SHE WAS WRONG! She said I would never get that mouse back, BUT I DID!



The miraculous mouse from under the house!

The miraculous mouse from under the house!

I had spent so much time thinking we needed to move the steps, I never thought of moving the trailer. Which is silly, because the trailer HAS wheels; the steps do not. Once I returned home, I reunited that little mouse with his family! You can’t tell it in the picture, but that mouse is little dirtier, looks a little more tired than the other mice in the set. He has some dirt in the creases of his body. And I could give him a good bath and remove it, but I won’t. It is his badge of honor of what he survived. I want to know which one is the miraculous mouse, the one who was braver than all the other mice. The one who went where no plastic mouse had gone before, and returned to tell the tail (Even his tail is still intact!).

I realize that no one really needed to ever hear this story except me, but I have put it on here anyway. Don’t you wish you had the ten minutes back that it spent for you to read that? No matter what you think, I think there is a lesson to be learned there, somewhere. Never give up on the mouse under your house.

Maybe the lesson is that I need some therapy…

* When we moved into that trailer, there was a state mandate for all the drain pipes to be updated to be bigger. That was work was completed (or so we thought) before we moved in. All the drains in the entire structure were on the side under the house–except the drain for the washing machine. My mom sold the washer and dryer that came with the trailer right after we moved in, and we never had another until about a year before we moved out. Apparently, we only learned through my snooping of the old homestead, in all those years the drain for the washer had never been hooked into the rest of the sewer pipes. Every time my mom had done laundry for a year (and let me tell you, that woman does A LOT of laundry), all the water had gone on the ground underneath the trailer. We always sort of wondered why you could smell Downy outside so well when doing the wash, even when the windows were all closed. So in our wake, we left a big blue puddle of fabric softener.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

What I Learned This Week – 6/8/14

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This week I learned that I wouldn’t do my life differently.

Look at this baby.

Baby pic of A.L.D.

Baby pic of A.L.D.

I remember when this baby was born.

Last weekend, she graduated from high school.

This is the daughter of one of my close friends growing up. She had her when she was just 2 years out of high school herself. Two more children soon followed.

The last time I saw my friend and her husband at the grocery store, they actually looked at my son and laughed. They laughed because they are almost done raising their children, and I am just starting.

But you know what? I wouldn’t trade with them for anything.

I went and visited them shortly after their daughter was born. I was just a kid in college. I had never had a real job. I didn’t have my own car. I didn’t have any bills. I didn’t live on my own, and wouldn’t be ready to for another three years.

Their little bundle of joy scared the shit out of me!

In the years they were raising kids, I was going to concerts and spending money on CDs and hoodies, not on diapers and backpacks. I only had to be responsible for myself and a hamster.

You know the good thing about a hamster? If you decide to crash at your green-haired friend’s house for the night, YOU CAN! The hamster has enough food and water for 24 hours. It is a rodent, for God sake. They not only survived the plague, they spread it to everyone else.

My husband and I spent many Sunday nights going out to Walmart too late and spending money we couldn’t spare on DVDs and toys. And I wouldn’t trade those lazy nights for anything.

The way I see it, we got to enjoy our youth when we were young. My friends are looking forward to having all their kids out of their house soon. But they will still be in their 40’s by then. And as I approach that milestone myself, I am sure I won’t have as much energy then as I did in my 20s. I used to live my whole life on 6 hours of sleep per night up until I had my son. I used to go out to concerts surrounded by kids 10 years younger than me and jump up and down with them at a Good Charlotte concert. I used to be squeezed in a mosh pit. I stood up for 5 hours in the summer sun with no food or water in 2008 to listen to future President of the United States Barack Obama speak.

I was strong! I was hardy!

I can still do a concert better than many people my own age. But not with the enthusiasm and longevity and fearlessness I once had.

I waited until I was 34 to have my son. And even then, I could barely figure out when to give him formula and when to change a diaper. (I wasted lot of diapers and formula this way.) Now, at my increased age, I barely have enough patience for him some days. I can’t imagine if I had been younger and felt like he was making me miss out on stuff.

So as far as having a child, I definitely do not regret having mine later.

I am tempted to say that I do regret not working on getting a novel published sooner. But, well, I guess I had to wait for the right idea to come along and kick me in the ass.

What I Learned This Week – 5/25/14

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This week I learned what it was like to lose a family member on the Titanic.

Not really. But a good attempt at a simulation.

Titanic 2nd class soup bowl

Titanic 2nd class souvenir soup bowl

See, my family and I headed down to the Imagination Station in Toledo, Ohio, to check out their Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. The Imagination Station is a hands-on science museum. We had never been before.

I am not a huge fan of all things Titanic, but I am as interested in one of the most famous shipwrecks in history as the next person. Although, I do own a book about the crash of the famous Great Lakes shipwreck, the Edmund Fitzgerald. But do not get me started on that horrible movie with Leonardo DiCraprio.

If you have a toddler, I recommend going straight into the Titanic Exhibit first, before they can see all the other colorful objects in the rest of the building that they can touch. I attempted this with my son. I was unsuccessful. M didn’t enjoy the exhibit as much as my husband and I did. Although he was quite fond of the gift shop at the end.

When we entered the exhibit, each one of us was given a card with the name and info of a passenger who traveled on the Titanic. At the end, we would get to see if we lived or died.

I got Mrs. Dickinson H. Bishop (Helen Walton) from Michigan. (Which is cool, because I live in Michigan.) I was 19, in 1st class, and returning from my extended honeymoon in Egypt, Italy, Spain, and France. I was also pregnant. I liked my chances of survival.

M was Mr. Charles Duane Williams, 51, a father traveling in 1st class with his tennis star son, who was Harvard-bound. His fate seemed less certain.

My poor husband got Mr. Frederick Joseph Goodwin, traveling 3rd class with his wife and six children. I didn’t really want to know how his voyage would end.

The exhibit started by showing you the accommodations 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class passengers would have enjoyed on the voyage. Some of it was quite opulent. Even while I was trying to convince my son how cool it was to look at objects that had been laying in the bottom of the ocean for 80 years (he remained unconvinced), they lulled you into how nice the trip “could” have been.

Then you rounded a corner in the exhibit, and the lighting changed. It was darker. Signs started to appear. They were the first messages received about icebergs ahead. In this day of prolific texting, seeing the warnings posted in black and white was haunting. Other signs told of how despite receiving these warnings, the Titanic continued ahead at almost full speed. The wreckage of the boat indicated that while they turned the boat, they never did decrease their speed. It made me cringe.

At this point, the museum had an iceberg you could touch, which was nice for my son, since the rest of the exhibit contained alarmed glass cases. That interested my son for a while. Then we came to the board that listed all the survivors and those who perished.

As I suspected, both Mr. and Mrs. Bishop survived. Makes me wonder if she continued to have a successful pregnancy. That would have been a REALLY young Titanic survivor.  It made me wonder so much that I Googled her. You can find out the answer here:

Mr. Charles Williams did not make it through, but his son did. At least the blood line and the family history could be carried on.  More details on how Charles died:

The Goodwin family perished. Every last one of them. The children ranged in age from 16 to 2 years of age. To drive the point home, there was even a picture of the family in the exhibit. They could afford to travel in 2nd class, but had traveled 3rd in order to have more money for their new life in America. To make matters worse, they had only been transferred to the Titanic because of a coal strike. Many other passengers found themselves aboard the Titanic for the same reason.  Interesting facts about the youngest Goodwin:

Man, The Universe REALLY wanted the Goodwin family gone. Their number was up. When it is your time, you can’t escape death.

The Goodwin family.  All perished on the Titanic. Photo: The Daily Mirror

The Goodwin family. All perished on the Titanic.
Photo: The Daily Mirror

I probably would have been more moved if my son hadn’t been throwing a mega-fit by then.

He was happy to look at the stuffed bears in the gift shop. I would have been a sucker and bought him one, as I can “bearly” resist plush myself, but my husband vetoed it. Second class soup bowls were on sale for just $5, so I had to get one. It is marked an “authentic replica” (Is that what they call an oxy-moron?) of the dishes used on the Titanic. It is quickly becoming my favorite dish. It is very versatile.

My husband on the high-wire bike at Imagination Station.  Yes, he is crazy.

My husband on the high-wire bike at Imagination Station. Yes, he is crazy.

My husband enjoyed the Imagination Station very much. I am easily frustrated by all things science. My son was frustrated by all the other kids cutting in front of him. M did better in the kid zone for toddlers. That said, if you ONLY have a toddler, as we do, it probably would not be worth the price of admission to visit. At least not until they were older.

M in the Kidz Zone

M in the Kidz Zone

I was happy to make it home, be off my feet, and use my new bowl;)

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