Dreamin’ of Toys

Shopping for ToysSeveral of my friends have been mourning the closing of the chain stores called Toys ‘R Us. It was famous for its large selection of toys to choose from. Certainly, there are chain stores which have a large selection of toys from choose from as well. But it seems to me that the best place for a child to have a great time with toys is at a local toy store.

There are a few of them near me. These are places where they not only have unique toys, etc, but also creative experiences right there in the store which most children would not normally have. One place I know will have birthday parties, family reunions and a pottery studio and creative toys. As I look at this jigsaw puzzle, this kind of toy store is what comes to mind. Artist Tricia Reilly-Matthews beautifully takes us back to a simple time where children could find fun toys that let their imaginations have fun.

As you and your loved ones assemble this Sunsout jigsaw puzzle entitled “Shopping for Toys“, it would be a great time to discuss what your favorite toys were when you were a child.

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Simple Things in Life

Barn BabiesChildren remind us of the simple things in life such as the ability to laugh with joy at little things and to view the world around us with innocence and excitement.

In this jigsaw puzzle entitled “Barn Babies“, Tricia Reilly-Matthews evokes memories of a simpler time in life where the only entertainment that one needed was other young animal friends found in the barn. Sometimes as adults, we lose this sense of wonder and pleasure in simple things thus, Tricia has made it her goal to provide beautiful and colorful reminders of this.

As you and your loved ones assemble this Farm jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to discuss how you can find the simple pleasures in the world around you.

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Light in the Darkness

In the Bible, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” This quote can be found in the book of John, chapter 8 verse 12.

The background to Jesus’ statement comes from the atmosphere of Jerusalem during two festivals or feasts. During the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot in Autumn and during the Feast of Dedication [what later became Hanukkah] in winter, Jerusalem would be brightly lit up at night. In fact, the other name for the Feast of Dedication is the Feast of Lights. This holiday celebrates when over 2000 years ago when the Jews were able to regain control of Jerusalem and rededicate their Temple. During that week, the Temple lamps continued to stay lit for 8 days even though there was only enough oil to keep the lamps lit for one day. This is why every year in December or late November, this holiday is celebrated with a lot of light especially from Menorahs. From this emphasis on light, Jewish rabbis would apply the phrase “the light of the world” to many positive people and things.

Jesus is specifically applying this phrase to himself. He is letting his disciples know that what when Isaiah the prophet said “I will make you a light to the nations,
so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth [Isaiah 49:6]”, he was referring to Jesus would be the one to bring God’s light, healing, guidance and deliverance to all the nations of the world.

As we look at this Christian jigsaw puzzle entitled “I am the Light“, we can definitely see that this is a scene in which potential navigators on the sea would want to have guidance and light so that they can survive the stormy sea. As you and your loved ones assemble this puzzle, it would be a great opportunity to discuss times in which you were thankful for light in the midst of a difficult journey.

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Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too!

92 years ago, a father by the name of Alan decided to write a few fun stories about his son Christopher and the adventures he has with his stuffed animals. That father was AA Milne and his son was Christopher Robin. What started off as two simple books about a boy and the love he had for his stuffed animals eventually led to wildly popular movies, Disney cartoons and sequel books springing up almost a century later. This summer the latest movie based on the Milne characters, Christopher Robin, has been released.

His son’s most well known toy was a stuffed teddy bear named Winnie, short for Winnipeg the name of the capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba. Other stuffed animals were Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger. Two live pets were also included in the stories, an owl and a rabbit. Some of these stuffed animals can be seen at the New York City Public Library where they are on display.

As you and your loved ones assemble this Disney Movie jigsaw puzzle entitled Thomas Kinkade: The Disney Dreams Collection: Winnie the Pooh I, it would be a great time to check out the two Winnie the Pooh books at your local library or watch the movies.

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School Daze: Are You Ready for “Back to School”?

Back to SchoolDepending on which part of the country you live in, you are either back in school or will be starting soon. As I look at this puzzle entitled “Back to School”, I am reminded of the last days of summer when I was in elementary school just before school started. I had my globe, plenty of paper, scissors and fascinating books to read. I even had a similar chalkboard that I loved to write all over.

The artist, Tricia Reilly-Matthews, loves to create art which showcases the simplicity of childhood. She definitely has captured it in this picture through showing the children either happily engaged in writing on the chalkboard or else eagerly looking into the store to see what items they could get for their  adventures at their first day at school.

As you and your loved ones assemble this Sunsout jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to reminisce about your school memories, or what you are looking forward to this year with the new school year.

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The Fair ~ It Wouldn’t Be Summer Without It!

A Good Day at the FairAs I look at this picture, I am reminded of my childhood when I loved to attend my cousins’ county fair experiences as the showed their cattle and made the yummiest cakes, rolls and jellies. It was always fun to walk through the exhibit halls, celebrating my maternal family’s rich agricultural heritage that went back for generations.

Ever since the 1800s, county or state fairs (also known as agricultural fairs) in the United States have given people a chance to celebrate the local agriculture and domestic pursuits of their local community or state. They were immensely popular in states where agriculture was an important part of the economy. They also provided entertainment in a pre-digital era. In the decades since the first one was started in New York State in 1841, a few state fairs have closed but most of them are still in operation drawing anywhere from 7,000 people to almost 2.5 million people (or .3% of the state’s population up to 58% according to Wikipedia).

Today they still draw people, even urbanites, firstly because of the FOOD! Oh my word… fair food is so good, especially if it highlights the county’s or state’s agricultural food. At the Pennsylvania Farm Show (which is PA’s version of a State Fair, although strangely held in January and not in the summer) food made out of Pennsylvania’s top agricultural products are offered for purchase such as: potato donuts (YUM!), baked potatoes, French fries, milkshakes, ice cream,  cheese and maple syrup candy. I’ve also been to the Indiana State Fair (whose website refers to the fair as the best two weeks of summer) where one can get a Peach Cider Slush (YUM!!), Hatch Green Chili Beef Meatballs, Curd Cups and BBQ Pork Potachoes. And if that isn’t enough flavor and calories for you, you can always try the deep fried sugar cream pie or fried chicken and waffles. The Illinois State Fair offers ethnic food as a part of their lineup. They have an English, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Filipino, Greek, Mexican, Indian and Mediterranean booths. Hungry, yet?

Secondly, the exhibits are a fascinating showcase of what children and youth can do through 4H. They show their livestock (goats, cattle, sheep for example), display their clothes and wood working that they’ve made by hand, and present their food that they have learned to either make from scratch or preserve. I always loved the cake auction held at the end of the fair. My cousins would always eagerly want to know what their placement was in the competition – was it a red, blue, reserve champion or maybe even grand champion ribbon? As for the music, there is something special about clapping and singing along to the music with your friends and family out in the summer heat. You definitely feel like you are a part of the American experience at that point.

August is the time that most State Fairs in the United States take place. If you have a chance, you should visit at least one day of the fair. As you and your loved ones eat (or dream of) some yummy fair food, this would be a great time to assemble this city and village jigsaw puzzle entitled “A Good Day for the Fair” by Kevin Walsh.

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Playing the golf ball as it lies…

Meauring the DistanceIn the spirit of the 1993 movie “Grumpy Old Men”, this jigsaw puzzle entitled “Measuring the Distance” takes a humorous approach to amateurs playing the sport of golf. As I examine this picture, I can definitely see my octogenarian father down on his knees measuring the distance for his ball. I say this because a) like the people in this picture, he hasn’t fully grown up yet (love you Pop!) and b) he and my mother would do this all the time when I was a child. Although, often the pose that I saw them in out on the hot, sunny golf course was down on their knees looking for their golf balls in the woods, sand trap or pond! Thankfully, golf is one of the few sports that allow people of all ages to participate in.

As you and your loved ones assemble this Sunsout puzzle by Susan Brabeau, you could have fun discussions about which character fits your personality. You could also discuss some of your fun or frustrating times trying to play the sport of golf.

 

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What are these Bear Cubs Doing? See How They Are Taking Delight in Summer

Summer DelightsIn this tranquil summer scene, we see three playful bear cubs who are out having fun playing alongside a creek. The way they are staring forward at the artist, it is as if they are wondering if he will be joining them soon. The artist is Kevin Keathly, someone who has been an avid artist for most of his life. According to his website, he wants his paintings to “inspire people to be still, to listen to that quiet voice, and then rise up assured that they are a part of something bigger than their schedule.” The lush greenery with the babbling brook and soft light shining down certainly gives one a sense of time moving at a slower pace.

As you and your loved ones assemble this nature jigsaw puzzle entitled “Summer Delights”, it would be a great time to discuss what scenes in nature give you a sense of serenity.

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We the People…

InConstitution the United States, I think all of us can recall the birthdate of the nation [4 July 1776]. It is the day in which the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. But not many can say the same about the Constitution.

After the end of the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence in 1783, the national government of the USA governed based upon a document called “The Articles of Confederation.” It didn’t give the federal government much power nor the ability to raise much money. Finally in the winter of 1787, Congress met to discuss revisions which later on became a draft of a new constitution all together. The first draft began to be written on 25 May 1787. Less than 4 months later on 17 September, the final draft was signed and ratified by the delegates. While the delegates to the convention had ratified it, it couldn’t become the new law of the land until all of the states’ assemblies had ratified it. The first state, Delaware, ratified it on 7 December 1787 and the 13th state, Rhode Island, ratified it on 29 May 1790 a little over 3 years after the first draft was written. When the 9th state, New Hampshire, ratified it on 21 June 1788, it was the last state needed to cause it to become the official Constitution of the United States of  America. It has been continuously in force the last 230 years, making it the oldest written constitution still in power in the world.

For our jigsaw puzzle today, entitled “The Constitution“, the artist decided to also include a scene from Joe Rosenthal’s iconic WWII picture featuring the raising of the US flag at Iwo Jima by 6 Marines during the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945. By putting both strong patriotic symbols together into one scene, it gives a sense of how Americans have fought for liberty for centuries.

As you and your loved ones assemble this patriotic jigsaw puzzle, it would be a great time to research and discuss more about Iwo Jima and the Constitution [especially read the Federalist Papers]. They are both significant periods of American History.

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Dogs Spending the Summer on the Porch

Summer on the PorchSummer is a great time for the dogs and other animals of the neighborhood to explore their area. This summer, I have seen all the dogs of my growing neighborhood roaming past my house [with their human friends].

One of them, Daisy, loves to watch the new houses being built. She is utterly fascinated by all the trucks and builders making noise. She wants to do a good job of protecting her territory. And then there is Drew’s little terrier, Jack. Jack loves to go for a walk with Daisy so that they can explore their area together. Jack also loves to investigate the deer in the neighborhood. Except the deer don’t appreciate this and will stomp their feet to try to intimidate Jack. Both Jack and the deer don’t realize that the other can see right through their acts of bravado.  Meanwhile, Samson and Dante down the street love to smother strange, new humans [who are innocently strolling the neighborhood] with their exorbitant love that their human “friend” has to do all that she can to hold them back.

The animals, especially the large dog, in this dog jigsaw puzzle look like they are waiting for you and your loved ones so that they, too, can shower you with all of their love. As you assemble this puzzle entitled “Summer on the Porch” it would be a great time to discuss the antics of your neighborhood dogs, your own dogs, or maybe previously owned dogs of yours.

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