Natalie’s Reading – July 2007

July 31, 2007 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff | Comments Off  

The Littles by John Peterson
Alice in Wonderland (adaptation) by Lewis Carroll
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes
Nancy Drew and the Case of the Rising Star by “Carolyn Keene”
Nancy Drew: The Teen Model Mystery by “Carolyn Keene”

Jonathan’s Reading – July 2007

Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff | Comments Off  

Journey to the Orange Islands (Pokemon Chapter Book #9) by Tracey West

Blogging Tips Meme

Categories: Memes & Quizzes | 5 Comments  

Kev at The Bayer Family Blog tagged me for the Blogging Tips Meme, so here goes:

It’s very simple. When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside those that you like. (Check out especially the * starred ones.)

Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general.

After that, tag 10 other people. Link love some friends!

Just think- if 10 people start this, the 10 people pass it onto another 10 people, you have 100 links already!

1. Look, read, and learn. ******

2. Be, EXCELLENT to each other. ******

3. Don’t let money change ya! ****

4. Always reply to your comments. ***

5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. ***

6. Don’t give up – persistance is fertile. ***

7. Give link credit where credit is due. ***

8. Never underestimate the power of a good looking blog. **

9. Edit. Nothing cries out “Stop Reading” like misspelled words and bad punctuation.*

10. Please, please, please – do NOT put music on your blog that plays as soon as someone clicks over. If I find the music annoying, I will stop reading.

I hate to tag anyone who isn’t into the whole meme thing, so I’ll just leave this open – if you decide to do it, please leave me a note so I can come read your tip.

Random Meme

July 30, 2007 Categories: All About Me , Memes & Quizzes | 14 Comments  

I saw this at Andrea‘s and decided it would be fun.

Here are the questions Andrea asked me:

1. If you wrote a book, what would it be called and what would it be about?

If I ever do put enough words down on paper to be a book, it would be a novel, but apart from that I don’t know. I have several ideas, but none of them fleshed out enough to be a book.

2. I’m coming over for dinner; whatcha makin’?

I’m not! Kevin will grill hamburgers, I’ll have a potato salad in the fridge that I made yesterday, and I’ll serve lots of chips and cold drinks. That way we can just gab and gab while Kevin does the cooking!

3. Are you going to do the prom thing for your homeschooled kids?

Wow – I haven’t even considered that! Since Natalie’s only in 5th grade, I have a while to think about it. Prom was never a big deal to me when I was in school, so who knows?

4. What do you wish your middle name was?

Actually, I’ve come to like my middle name, now that I don’t have grade-school aged friends who make fun of it!

5. If I ever do meet you (someday, I’m prayin’) what will I find most surprising?

How sarcastic I can be – that’s why I know we will get along so well!

Okay, here’s how this meme works:

The Rules of the Meme:

1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like [the food you hate most in all the world]. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You will update your [blog] with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.

So, if you want to play along, leave me a random comment!

Review of Tutankhamun & The Golden Age of the Pharaohs

July 29, 2007 Categories: Homeschooling , Movies , Reviews | 1 Comment  

(Tutankhamun & The Golden Age of the Pharaohs was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review.)

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Tutankhamun & The Golden Age of the Pharaohs is a wonderful DVD documentary about King Tutankhamum and the artifacts found in his tomb. The cover description:

In 1976 a collection of 55 treasures from the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamum left the Cairo Museum en route to the United States. It took the country by storm and introduced millions of Americans to these wonders of the ancient world.

Now, Egypt has granted another opportunity for us to view such treasures, and again, spectators are mesmerized. I am pleased to present Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of Pharaohs on DVD, hosted by Omar Sharif and including interviews with Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt, as well as many other individuals that were instrumental in organizing this exhibition.

Creating this exhibition has been especially gratifying work, for it ultimately allows all of us to participate in an ancient Egyptian wish: “Causing his name to live.” Funerary texts often included a phrase like this to ensure that the memory of the deceased and the spirit of the individual would continue to live in perpetuity in the afterlife. By tradition, the children and ancestors would fulfill this role, but Tutankhamun had no direct heirs to succeed him. In a way, each of us who views the DVD, partakes in the exhibition’s marvels and repeats his name, helps ensure that Tutankhamun will indeed achieve immortality.

All of my colleagues and I are honored to be associated with this magnificent exhibition.

John Norman
-President, Arts and Exhibitions International

The kids and I studied ancient history this past school year, and enjoyed our studies of Egypt. This DVD gave them some great visual images of the art and culture of the Egyptian empire. The documentary is really designed for older students and adults, though, and the commentary was too long and detailed to keep my kids’ attention. (Their grades range from kindergarten to 5th grade.) I will be putting this DVD away, and in four years when we revisit ancient history, it will be a perfect addition to our study of Egypt.

In spite of my kids’ lack of attention, I thought the quality of the DVD was beautiful. The artifacts are displayed from all angles, with complete details and backgrounds given on each object. They also talk about the CAT scan of Tutankhamun’s mummified body and speculate as to the cause of his death.

Special features include a video montage that spotlights details of over 100 artifacts, video of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, and behind the scenes footage at the exhibition.

For those of you who are fascinated by ancient Egypt, or who have older students – this documentary would make a perfect addition to your homeschooling library.

Mansfield Park

Categories: Books , Reviews | 10 Comments  

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Update: Ron mentioned to me that this post contains plot spoilers, and I want to make sure you are forewarned. So there, you’re forewarned. ;)

I could call this the summer of Austen and Harry. What a contrast! And yet both delightful and hard to put down. I enjoyed Mansfield Park, and was glad to find that after reading most of Austen’s works, she can still surprise me.

I thought for sure that when Henry proposed to Fanny, Edmund would realize he was in love with her. Wrong! Edmund was all for the match, and though he understood Fanny’s reluctance to get engaged to a man she didn’t love, he assumes she will change her mind. First surprise.

Second surprise: when it seems that Henry’s character had truly changed, and Fanny seemed to be softening toward him, I thought maybe Henry would have a true transformation of the heart and Fanny would end up in love with him. Wrong again! Henry ran off with Fanny’s married cousin, Maria.

I loved reading about Fanny as a character, but I’m not sure that I would like to know her. She would make anyone’s character look bad by comparison! She has unending patience and devotion to her Aunt Bertram, who basically treats her like she was raised to give her someone to pour tea, partner her at cards, and fix the snarls in her handiwork. Fanny never loses her patience with Mrs. Norris, her other aunt – and I’m sure I would’ve punched her in the nose! Fanny holds her tongue when Edmund is determined to marry Mary Crawford, the most shallow, self-centered woman he could find. And she stays at her biological family’s home for far longer than I could’ve lasted – given her drunken, swearing father and obnoxious younger brothers. I definitely have found the Austen character I am the most unlike!

I gave this book 4 and a half stars, although I have given all of Austen’s other works five. At the end of the book, she stops showing us things and tells us how everything turns out. After Maria’s disappearance with Henry and Julia’s elopement with Mr. Yates, the final chapter is a “this is how things turned out” narrative. I was disappointed – I would have liked to read how Edmund and Fanny’s love story played out, I wanted to read the scene where he realizes his love for her and she confesses that she had loved him all along. Instead, we are told that he realizes his love, they get engaged, his father approves, they get married, and Fanny’s sister Susan takes Fanny’s place as a companion to her Aunt Bertram – but none of these scenes are actually described, none of the dialogue written. It almost feels like Austen thought the book was getting too long and she better wrap things up. It was still a very enjoyable read, though.

Review of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody – Sweet Suite Victory and Cory in the House – All Star Edition

July 28, 2007 Categories: Movies , Reviews , Television | 4 Comments  

(The Suite Life of Zack and Cody – Sweet Suite Victory and Cory in the House – All Star Edition were provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)

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We’ve only had satellite TV since last fall, and already The Suite Life of Zack and Cody has become a favorite of the kids. Yes, the comedy is silly; yes, the acting is over-the-top in that Disney Channel series style we’ve all come to know – but it’s a show that the kids can watch and I know is relatively safe. (The only thing I don’t like about this show is the fact that Zack and Cody – two junior high-age boys – go on dates. Now, nothing ever happens on these dates – in fact, they usually end in disaster – but the idea of kids dating at that age is absolutely ridiculous.)

Zack and Cody are twin boys who live in the famous Tipton Hotel in Boston. Their mom is a singer in the lounge, and the boys are continually wreaking havoc around the hotel and driving the maitre d’, Mr. Moseby, nuts. My favorite part of the show is the friendship between London Tipton, daughter of the hotel owner, and concession stand girl Maddie, played by Ashley Tisdale from High School Musical.

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody – Sweet Suite Victory contains three episodes of the series, plus a trivia game and gag reel in the special features.

Cory in the House is a more recent addition to our Disney channel viewing. I guess it’s a spin off of That’s So Raven, but since we’ve never watched that show, I didn’t know that. The premise for this series requires a huge suspension of disbelief – but the kids think it’s hilarious. Cory’s dad gets a job as personal chef to the President of the United States, and he and Cory move in to the White House, and of course, mayhem ensues.

Cory in the House – All Star Edition includes four episodes of the show, one of which includes a guest star appearance by The Rock. Special features include a featurette on The Rock’s appearance.

Review of The Muppet Show – Season Two

Categories: Movies , Reviews | 6 Comments  

(The Muppet Show – Season Two was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)

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I’ve been taking a walk down memory lane the past week or so, watching episodes of The Muppet Show – Season Two with my kids. The Muppet Show was one show that I remember our whole family watching together. Well, maybe not the whole family – some of my sisters might not have been born yet when this was playing!

My kids love the show as much as I did when I was their age – and why not? Who can resists Veterinarian’s Hospital or Pigs in Space? Who doesn’t love to watch Animal play the drums, or the two grumpy old men in the balcony heckle the performers? Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Rolph, the Swedish Chef – they’re all here.

What I enjoy the most, though, is watching the guest stars. Steve Martin – before his hair was completely white! Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Elton John, Judy Collins, George Burns, Bob Hope, John Cleese – what fun watching these performers! Some of them were at the height of their career, some of them have had careers that have continued on, some are no longer with us. If this show was still running, I wonder how many of today’s great actors and musicians would be willing to perform with puppets on a family show?

From the Amazon review:

Bonus features include the rare 1974 Muppets Valentine Special featuring a young Mia Farrow and a host of virtually unknown Muppet characters including the enormous blue monster, Thog. Also included is Muppets’ music video of “Keep Fishin’,” and interview footage of “The Muppets on the Muppets.” Whether reliving childhood evenings spent with family around the television or experiencing The Muppet Show for the first time, viewers of all ages will adore this second season.

Season Two of The Muppet Show will be released on DVD on August 7th.

Links for Friday

July 27, 2007 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Just for Fun , Kid Stuff , Movies , Videos , Writing | 4 Comments  

Another Friday – another list of links. How was your week?

Monday, I took Josiah to the doctor to get his five-year-old booster shots. Three of them, poor guy. Funny thing is, his brothers and sister were more scared of seeing the shots than Josiah was of actually getting them. He’s the only one of my kids who doesn’t freak out ahead of time. He even watched her put the needle in on each shot, didn’t flinch, and his only response was, “That kinda hurt.” He’s one tough little guy. Last time I take a kid in for 5-year-old boosters – that’s a milestone right?

I took the kids to the pool after the doctor, and that’s when I started reading Deathly Hallows. That book pretty much accounts for the rest of Monday, and most of Tuesday. I finished Tuesday afternoon right before I had to make an early dinner and take the kids to Tae Kwon Do.

Wednesday we met some friends at the park for the morning. In the afternoon, we went to the library, where they were having a presentation on Egyptology. The kids heard some crocodile stories. learned about the Rosetta Stone, wrote their names in heiroglyphs and played some rowdy mummy-race and pyramid-building games. I read Mansfield Park through most of it.

Yesterday we went grocery shopping and I finally got around to some freelance work I had waiting for me. Last night was Tae Kwon Do and then we headed to the pool. It’s amazing how good that pool feels when it’s over 100 degrees outside!

This morning Natalie has an orthodontist appointment and then this afternoon we’ll head to our weekly play date with Michelle and her boys. Hopefully everyone will get along – hotter weather seems to make it harder for the kids.

Tonight I’ll head back to Michelle’s – by myself – to watch Keeping Mum and have some gab time with no kid interruptions.

Tomorrow we’ll all pile in the vans and go to the lake for the day. Kevin was able to barter some computer work for a kneeboard, so Noah is anxious to try it out. I’m hoping our ancient, falling-apart boat can actually pull hard enough to get him up on it! The boat is older than I am.

I’ve also been spending some time working on our school schedule for the end of August. Noah actually asked me yesterday if we could start school! I wish we had our books, but they won’t be here for a couple more weeks.

So that’s what my week was like. Here are some links you might find interesting:

~I loved this slideshow. A photographer went on a pilgrimage to Ireland and shot pictures of many Irish religious sites. (Scroll down to the end of the article for the link to the slideshow.)

~Here’s another writing contest – this one for a children’s story.

~This is a must read for Austen fans.

~I can’t remember where I found this, but this clip of Jay Leno inhaling the “anti-helium” is hilarious!

~Here’s a fun Tetris-style game that will help your kids (or you) learn the states.

~In this interview, J.K. Rowling goes into more detail about the futures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione – including what their professions are!

~Here’s another Rowling interview, where she talks about who dies in book 7.

Seeing Redd Giveaway

July 26, 2007 Categories: Books , Contests | 10 Comments  

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Remember when I raved about Frank Beddor’s The Looking Glass Wars? The main reason I bought and read the book is that I knew I was going to be receiving the sequel – Seeing Redd – to review sometime soon. Guess what? I just found out that Special Ops Media will also be sending me two extra copies for a giveaway!

The book releases on August 21st, so I’ll keep this giveaway open a little longer than I usually do. On August 14th, I will draw a winner from all the comments on this post. And, just to make it fun – and since Seeing Redd and The Looking Glass Wars are new takes on an old fairy tale – when you leave your comment, tell me what your favorite fairy tale – new or old is.

So go ahead, comment away!