Category Archives: Toys

December 19, 2015

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, kids didn’t have many toys. They didn’t have mountains of plastic action figures, hundreds of fluffy stuffed animals, piles of Legos and countless electronic gismos. They played with sticks and rocks and climbed trees and leapt across streams, building forts in the bushes and weaving grasses into toy dolls. The Force was strong in those younglings.

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December 12, 2015

A good chunk of today was spent trying to organize our son Theo’s bedroom and closet – a project which will easily take the whole weekend, since Theo is not as enthusiastic about getting rid of stuff as I am. And whenever I pull out a toy he hasn’t played with for a year, he suddenly becomes fascinated by it. However, today, we managed to organize his Legos and he gave up about ten soft toys, which are now sitting in a bag waiting to be given away. Tomorrow, I am hoping we will tackle his bins full of plastic toys, and that a large gift to less fortunate children somewhere will come out of this clean-out. My approach with him is that he is 10 now and many of these toys were acquired when he was 5. He doesn’t really need so many 5-year old’s toys, right?

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December 1, 2015

As if the Los Angeles Fire Department don’t do enough to serve their community by saving our homes from fire (ours on October 5, 2012), by putting out the wildfires that plague our arid landscape, and no doubt rescuing an occasional cat up a tree…now that the Holidays are here, they are organizing a toy drive for needy children.

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November 3, 2015

This morning our son Theo went off to school in shorts and a t-shirt, which has been normal lately even though it’s fall. But today the temperature dropped over 10 degrees. Of course this happened a couple of days after I took Theo for a haircut and he asked the stylist to cut it very short. So, at noon, when it still hadn’t warmed up, I stopped by the school with his hat and his hoodie so that he wouldn’t be cold during lunch break. When I explained to Karina, one of the school administrators (see April 16) that I wanted to give these to Theo, she got on her walkie-talkie.

“Dragon Base to Mr. Aleman. Please come in, Mr. Aleman.”

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October 29, 2015

My memory isn’t what it used to be, so maybe I should have kept the gift I gave away today – a cute little Leapfrog Spanish-English “Memory Mate” Matching Game – one of three memory card games in our son Theo’s collection. I often feel so overloaded with both important information and the trivial details of daily life that I feel the need to add an external hard drive to my brain. But I guess that’s what our smart phones are for. Not surprising then, when they run out of juice or cease to function, or are dropped into the toilet (which happened recently to a friend of mine), that the world can seem to start unraveling and a total nervous breakdown can seem imminent.

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September 26, 2015

I am 48 years old and I baked a cake for the first time today! Since I was a child I haven’t been very talented in the kitchen, and for a long time the only thing I could make was soup. I was really good at French onion soup though – not just any soup! However, my baking was terrible. As a teenager I vividly remember the time I tried to make pancakes – they were burnt on the outside and liquid inside. My rock cakes did actually have the consistency of rock. And when I tried to make caramel once, we had to smash the plate to get to the caramel. As an adult, I have gradually gained confidence in the kitchen and although my cooking is decent these days, I still rarely bake.

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September 14, 2015

Many things about the way the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) runs our local schools are puzzling. One is that the children have to go back to school after Summer Break in the middle of August when it’s just starting to heat up here in LA (and should really be summer break!). And then we are given a number of random days off, including Admissions Day (the Friday before Labor Day weekend), then today (September 14, which is sort of Rosh Hashanah), next Wednesday (September 23, sort of Yom Kippur) and then the whole week of Thanksgiving! For parents who work, it is practically impossible to find someone to care for their children on random days since there are no camps for those single days or odd weeks. For this parent, who has a mid-November book deadline and several lectures to prepare, and can’t work when her son’s at home, it’s positively terrifying.

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September 12, 2015

Our son Theo played in his first ever game of soccer this afternoon, a very sweaty experience in a heat wave on Astroturf. Mercifully, the day was strangely cloudy and humid, bringing the temperature down to the upper 80s, so the coaches, parents and kids were somewhat relieved. For much of the game, Theo and the other boys who were playing for the first time seemed unsure if where to put themselves, and just ran around generally close to where the ball was doing their best to stop the other team, who seemed much more experienced, from making every goal they attempted. The final score was brutal, but nobody pretended our team hadn’t lost, as they often do in kids’ sports. Usually, there’s no official scorekeeping and all the players get trophies at the end. The boys took their loss well and realized they have a lot of work to do for their next games.

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September 6, 2015

This afternoon, we joined our friends, Patty, John and their son Harry at the annual picnic of the Basque Club in Chino, a town about 40 miles east of LA, which is one of the hubs of Basque culture in California. Patty is Basque on her father’s side and wants to make sure Harry grows up with a strong sense of his heritage. She and John have been driving out to Chino regularly so that Harry can learn traditional Basque dancing. Today was the day all the kids got to perform their dances in front of all their families and friends. We went along to show our support for Harry and to join in the Labor Day weekend festivities with the people of this close-knit relatively rural community.

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