Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Childhood Relics Make a Desperate Comeback

There comes a moment in every mom's summer where she realizes that she must either hide in the closet and chant "Serenity Now" over and over to herself, be committed to a mental institution, or come up with something brilliant and innovative enough to distract her children from the hour-long battle they have been waging over the Barbie doll with the shoes that light up.

What? Your kids don't do that? Well, humor me and pretend they do so I don't completely lose here, 'mkay? (And if you are reading this and do not have children yet, I am assuming the first paragraph of this post will serve as an excellent form of birth control.)

So, that moment arrived for me a couple of weeks ago. I had enough of the screaming, the whining, the running-through-the-house, the "she scratched me she bit me she hit me she looked at me funny." I was pretty desperate, and when Natalie asked me to put on some music so she could host an impromptu ball in the Addition (to which Michaela Byrd was not invited, it should be noted), I looked my CD player in a different light.

Does anyone know what these are?

If you guessed "colorful plastic rectangles" you would be close, but not correct.

These would be books on cassette tape from the 80s that I found in the closet of my old room at my mom's house. The books are long gone, but I thought it would be worth a try to see if the tapes still worked.

It took me a minute to explain to the girls that they were going to sit on the couch and listen to a story on a tape. Natalie, my five year old, had a hard time comprehending that she could listen to a tape without seeing any pictures on a screen or on the pages of a book like she does when I am a good mom and read to her.

I opened the cassette tape compartment (never used) on my old CD player and breathed a prayer that the tape would work. I'd hyped up the idea of a story on tape so much that I couldn't bear the thought of returning to my day job as a fight club referee in the event that the old tapes wouldn't work.

There was some creaking, a bit of static...and magically some music played an Intro and the narrator began Disney's story of "The Three Little Pigs."

The girls were mesmerized.

For several minutes, there was no talking. I washed the dishes to utter, complete, and beautiful silence. The girls stayed planted on the couch, facing the CD player for the full effect...very much like I imagine people must have done when all they had were radios.

Yeah, it was sort of weird to know that something I enjoyed as a child (much like my favorite TV shows from the 80s) could be classified as ancient relics by today's kids.

And it was a glorious moment for me to remember how great it is to be able to sit and use your imagination to color the stories in your head. The kids didn't have to sit and stare at a TV screen to get the full effect...they did just fine with what they were able to imagine.

I'm already on the lookout for more books on tape. We stuck them in a photo box that gets stashed in the media unit in the living room. Out of the way, but easily accessible to the girls.

Now to see if I can locate a Barbie Dream House, circa 1987?

**Last day for the June Silhouette Promo here on my 25% off your purchase (aside from download codes and gift cards) when you use my SERENITY code.
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  1. that is so cute! sometimes I really miss the "good ol'days" :D it's so great that you are introducing them to such wonderful things!


  2. Ahhh... I remember those! But mine were RECORDS! That would really be a relic! Plus, there would be no way to actually play them...

    Nice job on getting a few minutes of quiet. My kids fight occasionally too (define occasionally...every 5 minutes or so, constantly, all the time...?)

  3. We used to have little records & cassettes we would play like that. Oh I loved them! My favorite were always princess stories :-) So glad the cassettes got a second life & they were able to use them too :-)

  4. Aren't you glad that your mom saved those tapes? I had the same thing as a kid but mine were on records. I'm sure my mom has them somewhere since she saved everything. You'll have to root through some more places in your mom's house to see what else you can find.

    My niece loves to play with my old Barbies, especially the Barbie Corvette.

    Getting a few quiet moments had to have been priceless for you!

  5. Awww! Love those pictures. We used to listen to books on tape as we fell asleep. I can still quote some of them. :) Try your public library for more!

    And your first paragraph made me laugh---but I still want kids. :)

  6. I still can't bring myself to trash my mix tapes. I don't even have a tape player to play them on except in the car. My friends put time into taping those songs off the radio! ;)

  7. We had a ton of those growning up too! I have no idea where they are not though, and I don't even think we have a cassette player in our house:) Oh and I have a Barbie Dream House from 1986 in my attic right now! I holding out hope that at some point I might either have a daughter or granddaughter who will want to play with it!

  8. Awww... they're so cute... they're mesmerized. You need to find more tapes fast! Or maybe you could even find a record player and some records!

    In a moment of sheer cluelessness, I asked my daughter if she wanted to listen to some records with me- no I don't have three heads!

  9. I am to old to have had tapes... I had 45s! :/ nothin' to play those puppies on anymore! Lol.
    I downloaded a bunch of "Adventures in Oddessy" from FotF and the kiddos love those too :)

  10. I LOVED Disney's books on tape. They were so fun. I also loved the safety kids. Did you ever listen to those?

  11. I LOVED these growing up!! I still have mine, and use them when I babysit my friends little girls. They love them now!! (I taught the oldest to operate my cassette player - even put stickers on the buttons: red=stop, green=go, purple=rewind.) I found a bunch more at a thrift shop recently and snatched them up!! :)

  12. I loved those when I was a kid! I may have to find some for my niece (as I am not planning on kids any time soon thank you very much (though yours are pretty dang adorable))

  13. I've always wondered why people always stared at the radio. The photos of your girls staring at the cd player are precious.
    Indy likes books on cd. He was introduced to them back in early 08 when we lived in AZ and Wendy's was giving away Magic Tree House books on cd with kids meals. He thought is was genius. So did I.

  14. Books on tape! Aren't you brilliant? What a good idea to dig these out and give Natalie and M.B. a very different experience from anything they'd usually get! There are no pictures as good as the ones you paint in your own imagination--but our kids rarely get the chance to just come up with pictures in their own imaginations! You are one smart mama.

  15. When both our girls were little they each had a Fisher Price tape recorder...they listened to books on tape at bedtime each night!!

  16. That's awesome, Amanda! Put their imaginations to work!
    Our library has lots of books on tape (well, a lot of them are CD), and they're really good for in the car, too.

  17. I still have mine when I was a kid in a Barbie suitcase!!

  18. Nice!!
    I wonder if my little ones would enjoy books on tape??

    I don't remember having the Dream House..but I did have the bitchin' van :)

  19. I remember those! We listened to stories on tape when we were young and then when we got older we'd be glued to the tape player all day, hoping to catch our favorite songs on the radio to record.
    Also, my biological clock must be ticking because your first paragraph made me think "It'll be so fun to have kids!" :)

  20. I loved my story tapes (and records--gasp). Turn the page when Tinkerbell waves her magic wand like this...

  21. How wonderful! I'm glad you got some peace and quiet... and happy that the girls enjoyed their new "book" so much! I loved books on tape when I was little. :)

  22. Wow!!! I had those!!! I don't even own a cassette player!! What happen to me!!!??? Hop on over to my blog to check out a naked pic. My son drew of me! ;$ oh, btw summer sucks the life out me...I just Got back from an amusement park with 4 kids, solo!!! I'm pooped!!

  23. My kids still listen to tapes, too! They go to bed listening to them and listen while they play in their rooms - they love them! We have Adventures in Odyssey {Focus on the Family} and can download them on Itunes! They never go away....glad your girls loved them too!

    Becky B.
    Organizing Made Fun

  24. My mom just found all of my sister's and my tapes and cassette player with microphone! Thankfully "I didn't have room in my car" to bring them back from IL! I like getting them from the library and then returning them so they don't take up extra space at my house! :-)

  25. I love how you captured the moment with the girls staring at the "box" Classic! It is a good way to grow their minds, great idea!

  26. We SOOOO had these! And loved them :)

  27. So adorable! I had those! Thanks for a little trip down memory lane :)


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