Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Round 3

but first, a holdover from round 2 that didn't make it into the download

Round 3 was a very short (27 hours) visit from the Masks Sr. bringing gifts that had arrived to late to them to turn around to us before Christmas.

Other than sitting around visiting, we did manage to get out of the house for dinner at Los Dos.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Playskills Block Set

In 1972 Reader's Digest offered a block set through their magazine. I went hunting for information about it, and was especially keen on finding a 1972 ad with a price. I had very little luck.

So I thought I'd cover it with photos in case someone else comes looking, trying to remember what all the blocks and games looked like.

Other than old sets for sale, all I could locate was the copyright registry and a memory of its designer:

Category of Ropes, Cordage and Fiber Products?!?

300,000 units. 

And these things are virtually indestructible. They show up on eBay regularly, but the times I've tried for them, factoring in usually high shipping, I've never won. 

At least, that is, until last week.

the usual state of my blocks (and room) at age 3, to the right

I was a multi-tasker from early on. Play kitchen (using margarine bowls), drawing on my Magic Slate (foreground left) while hairdressing my doll's mohawk, playing with my little people in their house, pushing dollies in the buggy, reading the newspaper, spelling out things with magnestic letters, and, underneath the desk? One indestructible playskills block.

I loved those blocks. 

I'd put in a bid of $1.99 on eBay  when I was thinking about toys and Christmas and decided to see what the sets were going for. 

I then forgot about it until I received the auto-email congratulating me on my win. (for $1.99)

I guess everyone else was out last minute Christmas shopping.

It arrived today, complete and full of nostalgia for the six different sides that taught me my numbers, colors, alphabets, animals, sequencing, shapes, sizes, etc, etc, etc. It's a really lovely little set.

If you sniff really deeply you can get a whiff of the 40+-year-old fumes of the plastic vinyl play mat that was so enticing to a little kid. It probably caused brain damage, but I loved sniffing that thing.

I'd remembered a bit of what was on the blocks, but seeing them together and building the sequences completely took me back to the faux-brick linoleum floor of our house on Kirkdale, and the thick oval brown braided rug in the center where I'd play, stacking them and sorting them and building houses out of them. 

Each of the six sides was designed to build a simple concept. The sequencing groups had: 

Six set of three:
Dog chases cat, cat climbs tree, lady rescues cat from tree.
Rocket launches, capsule in space, capsule splashes down.
Boy is asleep, boy wakes up, boy gets dressed.
Boy begins breakfast, boy halfway through breakfast, boy finishes breakfast.
Boy puts on coat, boy leaves house, boy gets on bus.
Pumpkin in field, Boy carving pumpkin, jack-o-lantern.

And two sets of four:
Boy gets off bus, boy goes into school, boy hangs up coat, boy sits at desk. 
Cow in field, cow is milked, milk is trucked, milk on table.

The beautifully simple graphics are just wonderful. 

And yes, I spent an hour on the floor playing with my blocks tonight.

If you build out the six sets of three-letter puzzle block animals (pig, dog, ant, cat, cow, hen) and four-letter puzzle block animals (duck and fish), you end up with ordered sizes of 8 different shapes and colors (red squares, yellow hexagons, blue ovals, orange diamonds, magenta rectangles, brown stars, green circles, and black. 

The colors run through all six sides. The pig, on purple, is also the set of purple shapes, purple color sides, etc.



The playmat asks you to think about the things in different relations and group them accordingly, as well as a bingo card section. 

The third sides of the blocks are solid colors, and I'm not sure why, but this is, I remember, my favorite way to leave them in their box, on the rare occasion when I actually picked them up and put them away. 

The spinner wheel corresponds with the colors, although I now find it curious that they've inserted the black and brown into what would be, otherwise, the correct order of a standard color wheel. 

On the fourth side, you would either have a sequence of numbers 0 - 12, with their numeric as well as the corresponding items of a particular fruit: 1 pineapple, 2 bunches of grapes, 3 strawberries, etc. The other 14 blocks are different animal habitats: desert, ocean, mountain, and jungle.

note the car playmat at my knee -- I loved all the squares of colors, but I don't recall actually playing the game a whole lot, thanks to the only child situation.

 On the fifth side was the alphabet, with corresponding item beginning with that letter. I can still remember that my favorite pictures were the dog, the horse, the igloo, the rocket, and the x-ray.

The interior of the box was printed with the alphabet set for matching everything in order when you put them away:

The cardboard box is the roughest part of the set, naturally. Mine is missing the handle and the corners are reinforced with tape.

The instruction booklet for the set, though, was included, which is impressive.
Matching, Sorting, and Classifying

Learning colors

Shapes, Left to Right Progression, and Sequential Thinking

Letters of the alphabet and how letters form words

Numerals . . and Lotto and Bingo (essential?)



Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas (Rounds 1 & 2)

Got to Mom and Dad's Christmas Eve for Round 1 of Christmas 2014 (which is lasting for a week!)

the stocking were hung by the chimney with care


Dad has also lined the stairs with all his singing & dancing Christmas animals

Round 1

Christmas Morning
My crew were good sports to wear all Snoopy pjs





Nick opened the present from Pap & Mini first, which of course tipped him off what the present from us was going to be.

and we managed to surprise Sam, which is pretty hard to do!

messenger bag for me, slightly larger bag for Sammi (art portfolio)

Meanwhile . . .


Got Dad another noisy Christmas animal to add to his collection, too.

Mom and Dad got me a great pair of gloves, after seeing my ridiculousness via blog post on trying to walk Evan on sub-zero temp days with either cotton gloves that threatened frostbite or giant, mis-matched things that swallowed my hands and made it impossible to do anything. 

My gift to them turned out better than I had expected. The photos printed on the fleece blanket came out really clear and vibrant!

The 2014 Christmas at the Saltsmans family group shot

Nick asked, when we started, "Will I need shoes for any reason?"
I guess this might've been the reason.

While Mom and Dad cooked and set the table, the dogs waited patiently.


We headed out after lunch in our two vehicles, expecting to make it home by 1:45 for Round 2.

One vehicle made it on time. Meanwhile, in my car with Sam and dogs, we'd just gotten to the north outskirts of Colorado Springs back to Denver when the phone rang. 

I'd managed to leave my camera at Mom and Dad's. 

Back across town we went. 

On the way out for the second time, the neighbors across the street were hosting their own Christmas guests.

We made it by 2:30 at which point Round 2 could begin. 

Round 2

First up, puppy stockings! Both of them had their noses deep in the stockings smelling the puppy treats inside.

Nick's real surprise gift came when he opened a Broncos scarf Bob made him only to discover tickets to the last regular season home game this Sunday between the Broncos and the Raiders.

Sam completely knew about the portable drawing table, but surprised Dad with a painting for his office

Sam also decided she and Ali needed to consult more next time. They both picked out owl scentsy warmers for me! The whole house will smell like a bakery when I'm done.

Nick has developed a penchant for really silly cat t-shirts.
Bob and Jason show off their Batman sweaters

Sam in her puffy vest and Nick with the Godfather poster Sam got him. 

My big surprise was getting these prints professionally framed. I bought them from our first trip to WDW in 2000 (left) and in 2002 (center) and have bitched and moaned about them languishing in their poster tubes for lo these 12-14 years.  I paid $8 for the first one. You can't buy a keychain at WDW for $8 today!

Sam and Jason were in Ceramics class this past semester and Jason manged to make Bob a Joker cookie jar for Christmas before the semester was over.

Jason with the Captain Hook mug Sammi got him. He fits right in to this Disney family.

Rounding out the owl gifts (see what I did there?)
Nummy smelling car deodorizers from Ali!

Since Ali is a manager at American Eagle, Sam was thrilled with the gifts sent along with Nick.
Sam gave me what amounts to the perfect Christmas sweater.

Between the owls, the Peanuts stuff, a baby Sven the Reindeer, a Pooh mug from Jason, and my gloves, it's safe to say my family does shopping for me very well.

Presents underneath for when Ali gets here Tuesday!

The snow was actually starting to fall when I stepped out at dusk to snap a few photos of the Christmas lights on the house for 2014




In our very generous stockings from Mom and Dad we each received Christmas money. I've already spent some of mine as of this morning! I'd spent some time pulling out additional slides from past Christmases that I'd not scanned a few years back when I began converting slides to digital files. I was expecting to download the drivers for the old slide scanner to my new hard drive and knock them out last night after all the festivities. 

After multiple tries and trouble shooting, the driver and utilities simply would not open the .exe file in order to install them. 

This morning, after searching fruitlessly for a work around, I got curious about the cost of a new slide scanner, since my old one was also bulky, impractical, and nearing 10 years old. Imagine my surprise at finding a 7-in-1 converter that is portable (for Houston trips)! It will do slides, negatives, AND create stills from 8mm and Super8 film!

Conversion to high resolution digital is only 3 seconds per slide. 

$119.95 from B&H with free shipping today. 


Post holidays, I know what I'm doing in my spare time!

But first, expecting Bob Sr. and Nell here tomorrow for a few days, then Ali from Tuesday until they head back for Texas on Nick's birthday, the 9th. 

Nothing like making Christmas last two weeks!