National Toy Hall of Fame 2017

It’s that time of year again!

The National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong National Museum of Play, in Rochester, New York, is preparing to announce the 2017 inductees to this prestigious roster of toys.  Announcement of the new inductees is set for Thursday, November 9 at 10:30am.

The Strong, a museum solely dedicated to play, began sponsoring the annual National Toy Hall of Fame contest in 1998.  There are currently 62 toy honorees.

Toys must meet four rigorous selection criteria to make the cut:

Icon status:  the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered

Longevity:  the toy is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over multiple generations

Discovery:  the toy fosters learning, creativity, or discovery through play

Innovation:  the toy profoundly changed play or toy design.  A toy may be inducted on the basis of this criterion without necessarily having met all of the first three.

You can nominate a toy for consideration and vote for the finalists.   Winners are chosen by a committee of historians and educators selected by The Strong Museum.  Anywhere from one to three new inductees are chosen each year.  There are twelve finalists in the 2017 list.

Nominations for this year’s competition is closed, there is still time to vote for your favorite finalist — so get to it.   Go to The National Toy Hall of Fame website at to submit your vote.  As you review the list and read about each finalists, I invite you to consider which toys were an important part of your childhood and how they impacted your play and friendships.

Based on the selection criteria, I am predicting three new inductees:  the paper airplane,  

the Wiffle Ball,

and the Matchbox Car .

What’s your prediction?  Share it here and I’ll keep a tally.  After the announcement is made on November 9, I’ll let you know how we fared.

Most important:  What did you do to play today?  If you haven’t, just remember — the day ain’t over yet.



Imi Peeler Road 18 – Halloween Edition

Today’s installment is offered in honor of Halloween.

Following her first Halloween experience, a 3 year-old girl attended church with her mother.  During the collection, she yelled, “Trick or Treat!  Happy Halloweeeeeen!”


Your turn!  Respond to this quote, or submit a favorite child quote of your own, for consideration in a future post.

Please Accept My Apology, Pennsylvania

In my post of October 16, 2017, “When Will Pennsylvania Welcome Me? Part 1,” I inserted a chart that rated my driving experience on the Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania turnpikes.  One section of that chart summarized the quality of each state’s rest areas.  I indicated that Pennsylvania had none.

I was wrong.

On my recent summer solo road trip, I observed no rest stops during my drive across the state.  But during a return trip last week, I actually stopped at one with my friend.  I’m guessing that I hopscotched them on the previous trip.  (This also suggests, of course, that I have never developed object permanence …  which may explain other challenges … but that’s for another post).

The rest stop was a close replica of the photograph above.  It provided a gas station, small restrooms, racks of brochures boasting local attractions, and two vending machines.

I short-changed you, Pennsylvania.  For that, I apologize.

It’s not advisable to omit information about such a basic, important state-level service.  Pennsylvania — one of the original 13 colonies, the state that played such an important role in the birth of this nation — the state with the beautiful Allegheny Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Poconos — the state with the Liberty Bell … you deserved more.

The state with the oldest golf course (Clarion) — the state with the first department store (Wanamaker’s) — the state with the oldest gas station (Altoona) … what did you ever do to deserve my error?

Plus, my mother was born there. What was I thinking?

In closing, I offer the lyrics to the State Song of Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, mighty is your name,                                        steeped in glory and tradition, object of acclaim.                                            Where brave men fought the foe of freedom, tyranny decried,            ’til the bell of independence filled the countryside.

Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, may your future be,                                          filled with honor everlasting, as your history.

Eddie Khoury and Ronnie Bonner, 1990



Imi Peeler Road 17

Rules, Rules, Rules 

Today’s installment comes from a 4 year-old girl, in response to a discussion about a classroom hand-washing rule:

“That’s boring, to have to wash your hands.  It sounds so boring.  I can’t even deal with this.”


Your turn!  Comment on this quote or submit a favorite child quote of your own, for consideration in a future post.

Imi Peeler Road 16

Installment 16 comes to you a little early, as I will be away for a few days.


A five year-old boy, at dinner in a restaurant with his parents, observed another boy having a tantrum at a table nearby:  “He needs an extra hug.”


Your turn!  Comment on this quote or submit a favorite child quote of your own, for consideration in a future post.

Imi Peeler Road 15

Today’s installment comes from a gathering of children and mothers at a public playground.  Jimmy, at the playground with several friends, was there with another boy of the same name.  The second Jimmy had just exited the playground to go to the bathroom.  The second Jimmy approached his mother and asked, “Where’s the other me?”


Your turn!  Feel free to comment on this installment or submit a favorite child quote of your own, for consideration in a future post.

When Will Pennsylvania Welcome Me? Part 2

As reported in Part 1 of this solo road trip journey, the weather had been sunny and calm until mid-afternoon, when I spotted black clouds gathering ahead.   I had recently been welcomed by the State of Pennsylvania sign, with a solid three hours left to drive.  Knowing that strong storms were typical for summer afternoons, I still dreaded the next several miles, and prayed aloud for a brief shower.

No such luck.  In the next five minutes, the sky went dark and a pall fell on the turnpike.  I sat up rigidly, my forehead an inch from the wind shield and my fingers cemented to the steering wheel as the rain came down in proverbial sheets, diminishing visibility to near zero.  After hydroplaning once, I slipped into the right lane, trying to follow the tail lights of the driver in front of me, to monitor my position.   For a hot second I considered pulling over and waiting out the torrents, but instead I kept my eyes locked on the two red lights ahead of me.

Then … “WHAP!  WHAP!  WHAP, WHAP, WHAP! ”  Something was hitting the hood and the wind shield of the car.  I leaned forward and saw a pile of green-eyed yellow eels slithering all over the wind shield, and heard more hitting the roof of the car.  A  passing thought of “Isn’t this the wrong amphibian for these weather conditions?” flickered through my brain before some of them some locked eyes sadly with me, before slipping off onto the flooded roadway.  One of them held a up a sign up that read “Newark”  before careening off the front of the car.  They were gone just as quickly as they came.  I swear I am not making this up.

The rain ebbed and the thunder slowed to a dull rumble.  The worst was over, and had lasted about ten minutes.  It may as well have been ten hours.  A steady rain continued for the rest of the drive, until I reached the hotel.

I arrived as expected, right around 7pm, feeling accomplished but fatigued.  The hotel did not resemble the drawing from the website.  It appeared smaller, run-down.  Note to readers:  practice healthy skepticism about websites with hand-sketched renditions of buildings.  Have a boatload of same when the emporium is described as “quaint” or “historic.”

The main entrance led directly into the hotel restaurant and adjacent bar, requiring guests to walk between these two areas to access the registration desk in the next hallway.  The registration desk was unoccupied, and I soon learned the receptionist was doubling as the bar tender.  My effort to make friendly conversation about the challenges of double-duty work was greeted with a stony stare.

I slunk away after receiving my room key, heading for the car to retrieve my bags.  The rain came down steadily, and since I had no  umbrella, it soak through my clothes and plastered my hair to my head.  Dragging everything to a side entrance in the hopes of circumventing the restaurant, I grabbed the doorknob, only to find it locked.  I returned to the front entrance, pushing open the heavy door with  enough momentum to make it slam against the wall, two feet away from a table of dinner guests.  “Hello!  How are you?” I said as rain flew from my hair onto their twice-baked potatoes.  I dragged my bag across the floor to the staircase, leaving a trail of wheel marks behind me.

My room was on the second floor.  I bumped my way up each step, momentarily wondering who the historic male figure was in the life-sized painting hanging above the landing.  Locating my room near the end of the hallway, I opened the door to a dark, dinghy high-ceilinged space as a feeling of dread swelled in my chest.  Two windows overlooked the public park across the street.  The window unit air conditioner deafened all other sounds, so I watched CNN reporters mostly mouth the news of the day.  No Internet connection was to be had, though the hotel brochure boasted of “super high speed” access.  I was glad my phone worked.  The bathroom was minimally hygienic, given the occasional hairs in the sink and tub.  I called the front desk to request a clean-up, but the phone just rang.  I figured the receptionist was mixing drinks.  I concluded I would stick this out, as I was too exhausted to look for another place to stay.

The floor slanted sharply enough to reveal a four-inch gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.  I shoved my suitcase against the door for the night.  I walked with my arms out for balance and to avoid falls.   Again, I swear I am not making this up.

Upon a friend’s suggestions during a later phone call, I decided to change my plans for the return trip.  Rather than spend a second night in this hotel and make another 12-hour drive home, I chose instead to cancel my reservation and split the drive into two days, staying overnight in Youngstown, Ohio.

The next morning, as I left my room to check out, I dropped the room key.  Searching everywhere for it, I dropped to my hands and knees, crawling up and down the hallway and rifling through my tote bag.  Nothing.  I confessed my loss to the receptionist, who appeared to be feeling civil this day, and she assured me this happened all the time and asked me to mail the key back if I found it.

At the workshop orientation later that afternoon, the leader asked us where we were from and if we’d stayed nearby the night before.  When I shared the name of my hotel, she smiled wryly and revealed that the place had a reputation for being haunted.  “Now you tell me,” I thought.  This explained both the mysterious key loss and the ever-so-slight smirk on the face of the historic guy in the life-sized painting on the staircase landing as I left to check out.  It was not there the day before.

The workshop was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had, with seasoned and supportive presenters, excellent materials, beautiful surroundings, cozy accommodations, and delicious food.

The hotel room on the return trip felt like a spa.

After arriving home, I found the key in the bottom of my tote bag.  I can’t be sure, but it burned a little in my hand when I pulled it out.  I let it drop to the floor.  I picked it up with a pair of tweezers, slipping it into a small manila envelope addressed to the hotel.  After dropping it through the slot of a public mail box down the street, the box shuddered violently.  I ran like a banshee all the way home.

So, I can say that  I survived a brief solo driving trip.  Many people do much more, and quite often.  While it may not be an earth-shattering accomplishment, it was significant enough for me.

Life is a highway.                                                                                                                     I want to ride it all night long.                                                                                            If you’re going my way,                                                                                                         I want to drive it all night long.*

*Tom Cochrane,  “Life is a Highway, ” 1991




When Will Pennsylvania Welcome Me? Part 1

Life’s like a road that you travel on                                                                                  when there’s one day here and the next day gone.                                                  Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand,                                                               sometimes you turn your back to the wind.                                                       

“Life is a Highway,” Tom Cochrane 1991

Aaaaah, the open road … the wind in your hair … the freedom … the independence … the possibilities.  Then again — the traffic … the potential break-downs …  the questionable food … the loneliness …

Having registered for a long-anticipated writing workshop this summer in eastern Pennsylvania, I determined to make the 750-mile journey by car since I had opted not to fly.  I had not made a solo long-distance driving trip for many years, and figured that, with proper planning, I could pull off this 12-hour journey in a single day.

I set out weeks in advance to plan every nano-second of this adventure, leaving no detail un-neurotically considered.  Clad in a blue t-shirt and Wonder Woman cut-offs, I departed from Chicago at 5:45 am, armed with my ten-pound Rand McNally road atlas, my AAA disaster-response guidelines, a printed Google Maps route, an emergency road kit, a new dashboard mount for my cell phone, a multi-device charger to ensure a permanent battery supply, a stash of Cliff Bars, and a couple of apples.  I was the poster child for Severely  Over-Prepared Long-Distance Drivers.  I had a list of family and friends whom I would text throughout the day to plot my  progress.

The goal was to stay overnight in my destination town and travel the final 7-8 miles to the workshop location the next day.  I had made reservations at an “historic inn” on the main street of the small town, planning to return there at the end of the weekend before the return trip home.

The first challenge was to survive the early morning rush-hour traffic through downtown Chicago, which involves taking your life in your hands and swearing to God and the Universe that you will never do another thoughtless act for the rest of your life, if you will just be granted safe passage to the Indiana border.

Once out of the city, traffic diminished.  It is at this point in the journey where I sprouted Turnpike Legs, increasing my speed and moving across lanes of traffic like a champion water skier.  I was surprised at my lack of boredom, finding myself perfectly happy to divide my time between listening to the radio, playing CDs, and singing some favorite songs a cappella.

An early, if unexpected,  annoyance was the wobbly action of my new phone mount, which repeatedly pulled away from the dash board, throwing the phone into a rag doll slouch, requiring me to correct it every several minutes.  Note to self:  repair  attachment job upon arrival.

Having already acknowledged to friends and loved ones my girl crush on Siri, this trip only intensified my feelings for her.  Gently prodding me to take proper exits, warning me ten miles in advance of their location, and occasionally suggesting faster routes, her auditory alerts comforted me, but were  an uneasy reminder that I had developed an unhealthy dependence.  How could this have happened, after so many years of using street maps to get around?

I can quit any time I want.

The journey took me along the turnpikes of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, with the final destination coming within an hour’s drive to the New York border.  My average driving speed was 75 miles an hour, with posted speed limits in most areas at 65 or 70.  I suggest this qualifies me as a ” LFL”  (Lead Foot Lite), because  I drove with the flow of traffic, usually in the middle lane, yet was passed by several motorists clocking 85 or higher.

I pulled into rest stops for the obvious necessities of gas and bathroom visits, and over the day, noted major differences in their set-up and quality.  As a friendly service to my readers, I offer the following  chart to summarize the driving experience in each state.  The analysis is based on standards of general road conditions, turnpike signage, and rest stop services.  A 4-star rating system is used:  4 stars = pretty darn good; 3 stars = good enough; 2 stars = I give you a pass; 1 star = you’re kidding me.



State            Road Conditions             Signage                    Rest Stops


Indiana               ** Frequent cracks,          * Weathered,         ** Some                                                  potholes                              missing words           variety


Ohio                    *** Smooth                            *** Frequent           *** Variety,                                                                                                                                       clean rest                                                                                                                                   rooms


Pennsylvania *** Smooth                            *** Frequent           * None                                                                                                          warnings RE                                                                                                                              steep curves


Things were moving along pretty swimmingly until late afternoon, when a fierce thunderstorm hit.


Stay Tuned for Part 2.

Imi Peeler Road 14

Today’s installment was shared by one of my former students in a child development class.


Boy, on his fifth birthday, in response to his mother showing him an ultrasound photograph of him in utero:

“How did I get in there?”


Your turn!  Respond to this quote or submit one of your own for consideration in a future post.