Archive for July, 2011

Grandpa John’s Trains

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Bobby and Arthur J followed the sound of a hammer hitting nails to Grandpa John’s workshop in the basement where they saw Grandpa John playing with a set of trains.

They couldn’t believe their eyes!

Grandpa John was running a set of trains on a long track and singing a song they had never heard before…something about a Casey Jones. The trains didn’t look like any trains they had ever seen. He looked so happy!


Bobby couldn’t stop himself from saying, “Grandpa, are those your trains?” Grandpa John turned and smiled, saying, “Come on in boys and see what I played with when I was your age…a set of Lionel trains. Oh, they were the best! They still are as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had these trains for over 60 years.”

These trains, like all Lionel trains are now collectors items. Lionel trains, were made from 1901 to 1969. They are known  for how solidly they are constructed and  how much they look like real trains from long ago.

Why in 2006, Lionel’s electric train became one of the first two electric toys  and the only trains to make the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Arthur J was so excited seeing the trains. He just wanted to play with them, so he asked, “What are you going to do with the trains grandpa?” Grandpa John smiled and answered, “Unfortunately you ruined my surprise. I was getting them ready for Christmas so when you came over you would see them under the tree.”

Arthur J and Bobby looked sad for a moment and wondered if, since they ruined his  surprise, maybe Grandpa John wouldn’t let them play with the trains.

Grandpa John saw the looks on their faces and said, “Let’s have a Christmas in July party. Help me carry the trains and the tracks upstairs and we will set them up on a wooden board on the big table in my den. We will set up the small artificial tree in the middle of the wooden board surrounded by the train village I got so long ago. The trains will run along the outside of the board, around the village and the tree. “

Bobby and Arthur J were thrilled! They both said, “Grandpa, your the greatest!”

Grandpa smiled and with a far away look in his eye answered, “Somehow I don’t think you and your friends will be the only ones playing with these trains. I’ve got a few friends of my own who’ll be coming over to play conductor.”

“But grandpa, said Bobby, “You and your friends are too old to play with trains!”

Grandpa answered with a grin, “You are never too old to play with trains!”

Holy Guacamole!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Miss Sue came into the cooking class at summer camp just before the session started and said,” Boys and girls I have a surprise for you today.”

chef raquel makes guacamoleWith that Chef Raquel, stepped out from behind Miss Sue, saying, “Is everybody ready to learn how to make Guacamole? It’s a great summer dip you can prepare with your mom or dad or a grandparent.”

The “Can Dos” all clapped and called out, “We’re ready!”

Chef Raquel smiled, opened the door and said,”It just do happens I stopped by the senior center on my way here. Look who all volunteered to come and help all of you cut, slice and chop the ingredients for the Guacamole.”

With that the grandmas all came into the class! There was Grandma Maureen, Grandma Hattie, Grandma Frances and Grandma Sue. Each of the grandmas joined a group of “Can Dos” around their individual food prep tables.

“Hmmm,” said Chef Raquel, “What is the first thing we have to do before we start making our Guacamole dip?”

As usual, Orrie was the first to raise his hand and answered, “We have to wash our hands really well and then dry them with a paper towel before we handle the ingredients for the Guacamole.” Orrie led the group to the wash sinks in the room and everyone took turns washing up. Then they went back to their food prep tables.

Soon the room filled with the sounds of chopping and slicing and conversations about what they were making. Before long the Guacamole dip was ready and it was time for tasting. Chef Raquel passed around pita wedges and everyone sampled what they made.

A couple of the “Can Dos” liked the Guacamole so much they popped their tops!  Willie was so excited about the taste he yelled out, ” Holy Guacamole!”         Willie says Holy Guacamole

Here’s is Chef Raquel’s recipe for Guacamole, in case you want to make it at home for your family.

Additive Guacamole with Pita Wedges Serves 6


2 Haas avocados – peeled, pitted, and smashed

1 Haas avocado, peeled, pitted and medium diced

1 lime, zest and juiced

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ cup yellow onion, minced

3 tbs. chopped cilantro

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 clove garlic, minced


  1. In a medium bowl, have child mash the avocados, lime juice, and salt.  Add onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and garlic and cayenne pepper. Have him or her stir.
  2. Gently fold in diced avocado. Don’t not over mix or it will get too mushy.
  3. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor, or serve immediately with pita chips.
  4. For Homemade Pita Chips: Cut pita bread into 8 slices. Lay flat on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried oregano.
  5. Bake for 6-10 minutes at 400 degrees until golden. Allow to cool and serve with Guacamole.

The “Can Do” Kids Recycle

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

The following guest post about the need to recycle comes from  Laura Scott, webmaster for the Toymaker of Williamsburg.

bottle to recycle“Bobby, why are you throwing that water bottle in the trash?You should always recycle plastic, glass, and paper products.”Maria said.

“Why Maria? It’s all trash. Who cares if I throw it away or recycle it,” said Bobby.

“Chipmunks and squirrels and birds care,” answered Maria. She continued saying, “Every time you recycle, you save a part of nature.”

“What? How does recycling do that, Maria?” asked Bobby.

“Everything that we use comes from something. Paper and wood products come from trees and most plastic comes from wood or oil. To get paper or plastic we need to cut down trees and those trees are home to chipmunks and squirrels and birds. But if we recycle, we can save some of those trees! If we recycle, people can use our trash to make something useful for someone else. Every time we recycle we save trees, and we save chipmunk and squirrel and bird homes.

Paper, cardboard, and bottles like that water bottle can be used to make things that people really need. All kinds of things can be made from recycled stuff.  When you recycle plastic, it can be used to make things like that fleece jacket you’re wearing or even a bench at the park. When you recycle paper, it can be used to make other paper products; you’re probably even using some at your house right now!”

“O wow, I had no idea, I think I’ll recycle this bottle.”

“That’s a great idea, Bobby,” Maria said.

Kathy Scraped Her Knee, Now She Has a Big Scab

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Kathy was standing outside the nurse’s office at summer camp waiting for Nurse Diane to look at her knee.

Just then Bobby walked by with some of the other campers. Bobby noticed  the big red spot on Kathy’s knee .

That thing on your knee really looks yucky, Kathy,” said Bobby.

Kathy has a hurt kneeKathy started to sniffle and answered, “I fell while jumping rope. I don’t understand. I never fall. I’m really good at jumping rope.”

Just then the door opened and Nurse Diane came out and said, “Why Kathy, what’s wrong? Did you fall and scrape your knee? Come inside and I will take a look at it and clean it up for you.”

Kathy followed Nurse Diane into the nurse’s office. Nurse Diane got some medicine out of the closet. She cleaned off the scrape and got ready to put the medicine on it when Kathy asked, “How come my knee isn’t bleeding like when I cut my finger? Bobby’s right, it looks yucky. What does it have on it?”

Nurse Diane smiled and said, “Your knee probably bled some when you fell, but not the way it would if you fell on a sharp edge and cut yourself. You didn’t cut your knee, you scraped your knee and now a scab is forming on it.”

Kathy looked confused and asked, “What’s a scab?” Nurse Diane answered saying, “A scab is how our body  protects our skin after we get a scrape by forming a hard crust over the area that is hurt and bleeding.  The scab lets the skin underneath heal.”

Kathy asked Nurse Diane how long the scab would stay on her knee. Nurse Diane told her it would fall off in a week or so and her knee would look as good as new.

Kathy smiled and thanked Nurse Diane. Just as she was leaving Nurse Diane called after her, “Remember Kathy, don’t pick that scab or you may get a scar on your knee. Let that scab sit there until  it comes off on its own and it will!”


Friday, July 15th, 2011

hector needs a gift for Father's DayHector heard on the news that the next day would be rainy. Uh-O he thought, now the camp picnic and games will be held in the gym at the community center. “Hmmm,” he said to himself, “What can I do to make the indoor picnic seem more like an outdoor picnic”?

He started walking around the house thinking, what does an outdoor picnic have that an indoor picnic doesn’t have?

Then it came to him…ants. That is what the indoor picnic wouldn’t have…ants. And that is when Hector decided to bring ants to the picnic.

He remembered seeing lots of ants on a log behind the garage. He grabbed an empty jar, a piece of cheesecloth from the kitchen drawer that had very tiny holes in it, and a rubber band to hold the cheesecloth in place. Out he went to the log. He scooped up a bunch of ants in the jar, quickly covered them with the cheesecloth that would let them breathe and fastened the rubber band over the top of the jar to hold the cheesecloth in place and keep the ants in the jar.

Hector was so proud of himself! He put the jar of ants in his knapsack for camp.

The weather man was right; it was raining very hard the next day. So, the counselors held the sack races and the egg on a spoon races and the ring toss games and ping pong in the gym. When the games were over, the counselors gave each group of campers a picnic blanket. The counselors told the camper groups  to each pick a section of the gym where they could lay the blanket down and sit on it while they ate their picnic lunch.

Just as Hector’s group got settled, Hector reached into his knapsack and took out the jar of ants. But before he could take off the rubber band and let the ants out of the jar a voice behind him said, “Hector, you let those ants loose in here and you will be in trouble.”ants at the picnic

Hector turned around and there, right behind him was Coach Campbell. “What were you thinking,” asked Coach. “Don’t you know what will happen if you let those ants loose?  They will get in your friends’ food and they won’t be too happy with you, added Coach Campbell. “Also,” said coach, “What will happen to the ants? How will they find their way outside again”?

Hector looked surprised and said, “I never thought of it that way. I was just trying to make the indoor picnic more like an outdoor picnic. There are always ants at an outdoor picnic.”

Coach Campbell took Hector by the hand and they went outside together. The rain had stopped, but the ground was wet. They walked away from the gym until they found a place to let the ants go free.

Once the ants were free, they headed back to the gym. Coach Campbell reminded Hector that ants don’t belong inside, not even for a picnic.Ants belong outside where they can be free!