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Foto Phriday: The Ultimate Dog Toy

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I may have created the ultimate dog toy.

I did it by combining two dog toys.

Behold: The Ultimate Dog Toy

Wait, that is a lie.

The green/blue outer ball is actually a cat toy. It was gifted to us by my mother-in-law and cousin cat Rosie.

The inner pink squeaky toy was my pup Bailey’s Valentine’s Day gift.

(I got everyone in my house a Valentine’s Day gift, including the dog, hoping that someone would give me a gift. No such luck.)

Bailey already loved the green/blue cat toy ball and played with it all the time anyway.

But I took it to the next level when I squeezed all the air out of the rubber squeaky toy and put it inside of the green/blue ball.

Bailey & her toy

Bailey pushes it, steps on it, sticks her paws and nose in there and she still CANNOT figure out how to get the pink ball out of there. I could easily remove it for her with my bad ass opposable thumbs.

But really, what would be the fun in that?

🙂

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.
ANGRY MACEY
NOW AVAILABLE $.99!

The Whistle In The Night

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My son has a Melissa & Doug train puzzle that has caused trouble since the day I picked it up at the thrift store.

TRAIN PUZZLE-toy

If you have kids, you may know that Melissa & Doug makes sturdy wooden toys, that can also be a little pricey. If you have read my blog before, you may have gathered that my son REALLY likes trains.

So, when my asbestos friend and I were shopping in December last year, I really couldn’t pass up this puzzle. I mean, my kid can tell you the anatomy of a steam engine better than he can his own body. The problem was, he was WITH ME in the store. I tried to hide it from him. It is hard to hide a wooden puzzle. My asbestos friend, TRYING to be helpful, said, “Oh, let him play with it. He won’t even remember it tomorrow.”

Famous last words. She forgot my kid is six months older than hers.

EVERY DAY until Christmas came he asked me, “Where is my puzzle train?”

I finally settled on telling him, “Santa took it to the North Pole. He will bring it for Christmas.” Which, Santa did. My son will STILL tell me, “Santa Claus took my puzzle train and brought it back for me.”

He plays with it.

He loves it.

Did I forget to mention that it is a SOUND puzzle?

I put batteries in it Christmas morning after my son opened it. I was convinced for days that it didn’t work. I finally figured out that it only makes the whistle sound when you put in all the pieces at the same time.

We discovered that it worked off of light sensors in the puzzle. When they all sense darkness, it makes the noise.

And how did we discover this?

Because, invariably, my son takes out one piece of the puzzle and leaves it lying out. 99.9% of the time, it is the coal tender. And at night, when my son has been asleep for two hours and the crotchety dog that is prone to bark at night is locked up in the laundry room, and I am trying to be oh-so-quiet, I click off the living room light…

“Whoooooh-Whoooooh!”

Oh. Crap. That stupid train puzzle. Every night one piece is missing. Every night I never think to check. Every night I have to hold my breath as it whistles in the darkness, hoping that it will not disturb any man, child, or beast already in slumber.

And yet, with all this trouble, it is still a really cute puzzle…

Kiddie City: Did It Really Exist?

My husband does not believe me that there used to be a toy store called Kiddie City, very similar to Toys’R’Us. In fact, there was a Kiddie City right in nearby Sylvania, Ohio, which still has a Toys’R’Us. I had to prove it to him by Google-ing it the other day.

Kiddie City Coloring Book

Kiddie City Coloring Book

I was correct.

My recent and short-term memory might be junk, but I can remember some things from my childhood very clearly.

Plus, Kiddie City is one of those things I have clung to all these years, so I would not forget it. Like that Punky Brewster’s dog Brandon was named after head of NBC, Brandon Tartikoff.

Plus, I have kept this all these years to remind me:

Official Kiddie City semi truck, from my personal collection, circa around 1980.

Official Kiddie City semi truck, from my personal collection, circa 1980.

My mom and I always shopped at Kiddie City. I always thought of Toys’R’Us as inferior (I still do). Apparently my tiny pre-schooler brain was pretty on-track, because according to Wikipedia (where any info I site here on out in this post comes from), Kiddie City was the second-largest toy chain in the United States. They were owned by Lionel, of model railroad fame.

I asked my mom where it was located, and her memories do not seem to match mine. That doesn’t really mean anything. We could both be wrong. She thinks it was in the shopping plaza where Major Magic’s was for many years. The location would make sense. My mom never traveled very far into Sylvania/Toledo on her own. That would be an easy location for her to get to and regularly find.

I have memories of looking at toy robots in a toy store when I was a kid. I remember blue, metal shelves (kind of like Cosco). I have no idea if that would have been Toys’R’Us or Kiddie City or just my imagination. I like to think maybe that was Kiddie City.

When I got my swing set when I was a kid, I know we bought it from one of those two stores in Sylvania, but my mom doesn’t remember which one. But I think maybe that was Toys’R’Us.

Apparently Kiddie City declared Bankruptcy in 1982, reducing their store count from 150 down to 55 stores. This is most likely when the Sylvania store closed. They grew back to being the fourth-largest toy store in the country before the stores were all closed for good in 1993.

Gone, but clearly not forgotten.

I would so LOVE one of these shirts!

I would so LOVE one of these shirts!

Classic Kiddie City Commercial
(Ah, what it must have been like to be a mom in the 80’s. Awesome hair, awesome clothes…)

Army Man Uproar

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I wasn’t planning to post today, but dang, this got me fired up.

Last week a 9 year-old boy’s parents in Caro, Michigan sent him to school with decorated birthday cupcakes for the whole class. The decoration? A green plastic toy army soldier on each cupcake.

Photo: Facebook/WTOL11

The Offending Cupcake            Photo: Facebook/WTOL11

My first reaction? “What a great fast and easy and cheap way to decorate cupcakes for a birthday! You can get a whole bag of those soldiers at the dollar store for, like, a buck!”

Apparently, the teacher and principal didn’t see it that way. They removed the soldiers before giving the cupcakes out to the students. For the complete story, click here: http://www.toledonewsnow.com/story/21547930/student-causes-cupcake-controversy-at-caro-school

The story states that the principal felt it was “‘insensitive’ considering recent gun-related tragedies”, including the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

WTF?

What does a green plastic toy of a WWII (or maybe even WWI?) army soldier with a gun presumably protecting our country have to do with mentally unstable people breaking laws with guns?

I first saw this on a local news station’s Facebook newsfeed. This was my comment:

I think I would expect the school to over-react to these. But I would probably take them in anyway just to p*ss off the school. And since when is an image of a soldier defending our country offensive!

We don’t want guns in schools–Totally Agree.

We don’t want mentally unstable kids planning to bring guns into schools–Agree.

We need to teach younger kids that talking about bringing guns to school isn’t a funny joke–Agree.

We need to discipline kids who talk about playing with Hello Kitty bubble guns, eat their Pop-Tarts into gun-shapes, and remove toy army men?–That is going too far.

Photo: DailyCaller.com

Photo: DailyCaller.com

We have to teach our kids what is acceptable and what is not. We have to teach them context and satire and parody. Even the FCC has problems with these concepts sometimes. I am still trying to teach my husband not to make bomb jokes at airport security or drug jokes at the Canadian border.

If these were my son’s birthday treats, I would be very angry. I would have to make a point that both M’s grandfathers were both in the Army (one in WWII and one in Vietnam) and fought proudly for this great country we live in. By the way, a country where we have freedom of speech. And the freedom to bear arms.

And, another point I would make, is that the military, guns and all, is a necessary and noble career choice. Would these cupcakes be allowed on career day?

And don’t anyone try to turn this into a political debate. (Remember, this is my blog and I have ultimate veto power over comments!) Sure, the President has brought banning assault rifles into the forefront of the media. But Sandy Hook happened, and people in his party concerned about this issue rightfully told him now was the time to approach it. I get that. Just like when 9-11 happened, George W. Bush used it as an excuse to finish a war his father started (whoops, I am being overly preachy now). But I got that too. You have to strike while the iron is hot, so they would say.

I would be offended if someone brought in cupcakes with Spongebob on them. I hate that guy! But I wouldn’t remove him.

So, in conclusion, enjoy America, learn that sometimes a toy is just a toy, and don’t judge cupcakes so harshly that were probably made by a very tired mom at 11PM at night after a long day of work, who didn’t have the time or energy to put little eyes and cookie mouths on the cupcakes to turn them into politically correct teddy bears.

Barfey

Barfey. Other kids have a teddy bear. I have Barfey.

Old Barfey in foreground.


He started off as a little white stuffed dog with brown ears from the Hallmark store in the mall, made by R. Dakin. My mom said she named him after one of the dogs in the Family Circus cartoon strip. My mom bought him for me so long ago that I can’t remember. Barfey was just always there, for as long as I can remember.

I loved him so much he became tattered and dirty. And of course my mom, being the woman she is, resolved this by buying me a replacement Barfey–AND THROWING OUT THE ORIGINAL. She snuffed out a young stuffed animal’s life, just as it was beginning. I was so young that I didn’t know enough to protest. And while the second Barfey was the same dog made by the same company from the same store in the same mall, this one had a brown body and white ears! Leave it to my mom to not even bother to color match.

Barfey was my favorite stuffed animal. I slept with him every night. If we went on a trip, he went with us.

Here if my VHS copy of The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985


There used to be a show on Saturday mornings called ABC Weekend Special. They showed family cartoons and movies. One of my favorites was a cartoon of The Velveteen Rabbit, based on the book by Margery Williams, from 1985, made by Hanna-Barbara. (One of my other favorites was a mini-series called Cougar–I actually managed to find that on DVD!) It always made me think of Barfey. That maybe he loved me as much as I loved him. That maybe he too was on a quest to be real, as was The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[In the nursery closet]
Rocking Horse: Real isn’t how you’re made. It is a thing that happens to you. Love makes you real. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real. Once you are real, you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always. You can’t be unreal again.
Bunny-Rabbit: Oh, I want very much to be real.

I also imagined that the stress that Barfey went through as I slept with him at night and tossed and turned was probably similar to the torture that The Velveteen Rabbit endured as well.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[In Robert’s bed]
Bunny-Rabbit: Look out, you’re flattening me.
I can hardly breath.
Ouch, I’m not a football.
Easy now, don’t move. Ooo-ooo.

When I was in fourth grade, I got the Chicken Pox. I was scared because I didn’t really know what that meant. (And they proved to be quite uncomfortable.) I clutched Barfey tightly for comfort during this uncertain time, as my mom called her nurse friend for information. Something occurred to me while she was on the phone, and it scared me more than being sick. Thinking back to The Velveteen Rabbit and the rabbit’s fate after Robert’s sickness, I asked my mom if Barfey was going to have to be burned since I was holding him and I was sick. She laughed at me and told me “no”. I was relieved. And pissed that she would find my question amusing.

As the years past, Barfey got shabbier and shabbier. He was made with ground nut shells. This helped him have more weight and stay in bed at night better than other stuffed animals. But by now his nut shells had turned into nut dust. His eyebrows looked ready to fall off anytime. And my, how his nose dangled from his cute brown muzzle! So, I followed the precedent that had already been set–I bought a replacement Barfey. This one had a yellow body and brown ears. (It was as close as I could find to original Barfey’s color scheme.) My mom’s first impulse is to throw things out the second she no longer has a use for them. My instinct is to keep everything. I kept both Barfeys. From here on out, they would be known as:

All the Barfeys from my scrapbook


Original Barfey = 1st Barfey (no longer with us)
Old Barfey = 2nd Barfey
New Barfey = 3rd Barfey

But New Barfey was not an adequate replacement. Not only because he lacked memories, but also nutshells. He was young and bounced out of bed too easily. New Barfey always struck me more as a stuffed animal, rather than the “real” aura that Old Barfey had. You looked into Old Barfey’s eyes, and he talked to you. Or, at least, to me.

Once I moved out on my own, I developed a fear (remember, I love to worry) of losing my Barfeys, such as in a fire or tornado or volcanic eruption. When I discovered Ebay, I found people who had Barfeys to sell. They were easier to locate when I discovered that his Dakin birth name was “Drooper”. (What a bad name!) I even ordered a few use Barfeys to have as spares. But they are not the same. There experiences were with other children. They are packed away in a drawer upstairs, while my Barfeys have a revered position of honor in my bedroom, on a high shelf, well out of reach of dogs and toddlers. Although, I did finally get a baby “Drooper” that I always wanted and my mother would never buy me. Yes, the design was so popular they even made mini ones.

Barfey is so popular, he was on a greeting card (see far left). Gibson Greetings, Inc.


At the same time I was trying to find a way to keep Barfey with me forever, I was also trying to figure out what tattoo I could get that I would never get tired of. (Do you see where this is going?) So, shortly after my 30th birthday, I had Barfey tattooed on my ankle. I wanted him to look furry and cartoony. I think it turned out wonderful.

My Barfey tattoo


As I continued to age, I felt bad that Barfey had no children in his life anymore. My green-haired friend’s niece, who was fond of me and I of her, gave me a friendship necklace. I put it on Old Barfey, to keep him connected to the wonderful childhood spirit. But, alas, she has now grown to adulthood herself.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
Robert: [to Nanny] He isn’t a toy. He’s real.
Bunny-Rabbit: I’m real. I’m real!

I have never outgrown stuffed animals (that will be a future post). I still find comfort in stroking Old Barfey’s nappy fur and feeling his nose gently rock back and forth. And he probably looks a fright to anyone but me. But I have given him so much loving, that to me, he is REAL. Like The Velveteen Rabbit.

The Velveteen Rabbit, Hanna-Barbara 1985
[By the incinerator]
Nursery Magic Fairy: I watch over all the toys who are worn out from too much loving. I will take you away and make you real.
Bunny-Rabbit: But I am real.
Nursery Magic Fairy: You were real only to the boy. Now you shall be real to everyone.

Fun Trivia Fact: Barfey co-starred in the 1978 movie Long Journey Back with Stephanie Zimbalist.


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