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Posts Tagged ‘little boys’

I grew up with one of my older brothers, Richard, being really into dinosaurs. When we were little, he used to collect those little plastic dinosaurs, the ones that were about three to five inches. He taught us the names of each one and some basic facts like whether they were carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores. He used to set them all up and make them fight each other!

Decades later, when I became a mom and my son was around seven, he really got into dinosaurs. I already knew some of the facts about them and I am one of those moms that tries to facilitate when her little ones are interested in so I got him the plastic dinosaurs like my brother had so long before, except that my brother’s were bright primary colors and my sons were neutral colors and supposed to be more real! As he got into dinosaurs, we got books and videos and, because we lived in southern California, we were less than a half hour from the La Brea Tar Pits where we could go and learn about dinosaurs. If you don’t know about the La Brea Tar Pits, it’s in the middle of busy Los Angeles, right on Wilshire Boulevard in the part that was called the Miracle Mile, with businesses and shopping all around them. The tar pits were neat because you could walk up and watch the tar bubbling up and look at the replica woolly mammoths that were stuck in the tar. It was really called the Page Museum of Natural History, but I think it may have changed names. They had a lot more than dinosaurs in there. My kids used to love to go see the woolly mammoth. They had a skeleton of a woolly mammoth that was really breath taking. At that time, admission was free. I just checked and kid admission is seventeen dollars! Wow. I would have gone broke if I had to pay seventeen dollars for each of my kids each time we went to see the tar pits!

A few weeks ago, while discussing what he wanted to study next, Anderson said he wanted to learn about fossils and dinosaurs. He’s that age. He just turned eight and is in second grade so the timing is just right. I decided to plan a unit on dinosaurs that we could do during the summer. However, I did go online to see if we could go see some fossils somewhere near. Well, the University of Oregon has an excellent exhibit but they are in Eugene which is about ninety minutes from here so it’s not as easily doable as I would like. There is also a small exhibit at Portland State but I read that it is really just a display in the hallway of the offices at the college and not meant for the public to go see, especially not kids. Then I saw that the local library had a presentation scheduled for March where an archaeologist from U of O would come with fossils and bones and skeletons of dinosaurs and other extinct mammals. Yes!

Well, the presentation was on Tuesday and I actually remembered. He hadn’t been feeling well but he wanted to go so we went and it was great! It was very low key and not well attended but that made it nicer for the ones that did attend because there was more hands on time and they could ask all the questions they wanted. I was actually impressed with Anderson. I often wonder about the homeschooling and how it will effect him with interacting with others who go to regular school. He did great. He raised his hands to answer questions and ask them and he was right on target with the comments and questions. Yay!

We learned about the dire wolf and the saber tooth cat and the sloth. The lady brought a box of fossils with her that the kids got to hold and manipulate. Apparently, they were found at Fossil Lake quite some time ago but the person that collected them took them home and put them in his yard then year later, he brought them to the university and turned them in for their use. Because they had been removed from the area so long ago and there was no documentation, the university could not put them on display so they use them for education purposes and the go out to schools and libraries so that kids can see them and touch them and hold them. Neat!

Anderson’s interest in fossils and dinosaurs made me smile and think of the other little boys in my life that have had the interest and the ones that will have it soon. I figure Spencer will get there in another couple of years then Mati a couple of years after that. I have lots of time to get my dinosaur and fossil files together!

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Note: This was originally posted in 2008. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories because it brings back the magic of Christmas that most of us had long, long ago.

I grew up in a large family.  There were seven kids plus my mom and dad.  My dad was the only one who worked, as was the norm in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My dad drove a fork lift at one of the local canneries.  The only way there would ever be any money for Christmas gifts was for my mother to save money in a Christmas Club account at the local Bank of America where she made a weekly deposit.

One year my brother David, who was about eight years old that year, fell in love with a toy he saw on a TV commercial.  It was a cannon that shot hard plastic balls.  It was called the Mighty Mo.  The commercials showed the Mighty Mo crawling over and through rough terrain all on a miniature scale, of course, but it looked really neat.  The clincher was the footage of the cannon balls launching out of the Mighty Mo!

David had to have one but we were taught to not ask for anything, not even for our birthdays or Christmas so he couldn’t ask for one.  We lived a block away from Safeway and my mom used to send us on daily trips for the odd supply she needed before the next week’s big grocery trip.  Safeway carried a few toys then.  They placed them on the shelves high above the produce department as those shelves were normally empty.  On one of the trips to get something for my mom, David was thrilled to discover that Safeway had about two dozen Mighty Mos on their shelves!  After that day, David volunteered to go to Safeway every single time my mom needed something.

Every day David returned from his Safeway run to report exactly how many Mighty Mos were left on the shelf and every day, as the number dwindled, he gave my mom his report in a sadder and sadder tone.  First there had been two dozen then only eighteen.  Soon there were less than a dozen and when there were only four left, David was really sad. About three days before Christmas, David reported, with tears in his eyes, that there were no Mighty Mos left at Safeway.  When Christmas arrived, David was the only one of us that was not excited about it.  We all wanted him to be happy like we were but nothing got him excited.

On Christmas morning, we got up and my big brothers helped us girls get dressed and ready to go upstairs to open presents.  That’s what we did each year because it gave my parents a little extra time to get up.  When we got upstairs, David was the last one to go into the living room where the tree was with our Santa gifts unwrapped.  When he came in he found us all with huge smiles on our faces and our eyes intent on his face.  He didn’t know what was up until he looked under the tree and found his Mighty Mo with a big red ribbon on it!

We all enjoyed that Mighty Mo for several years.  David especially liked to shoot the cannon balls out of the Mighty Mo from the top of the stairs in the back yard.  It was a fun toy.  I only wish my brother David was still around to tell the story himself.

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