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Thursday, 20 January 2011
Maestro Classics - I've Got A Secret...
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Homeschool Product Review


Really I think that this secret has already been revealed. I think you all know that I was a music major for a while in college and that I play a number of different instruments - none of them very well anymore.

Well, being such a lover of music myself, I'm always looking for ways to instill that love in my children. Last year we were chosen to review Maestro Classics' The Tortoise and the Hare for the TOS Homeschool Crew. Maestro Classics is a great company that was started by conductor Stephen Simon and his wife Bonnie Ward Simon. The Tortoise and the Hare was my children's first exposure to classical music and they really learned a lot.

This year, I was very excited that we were chosen to once again review an item from Maestro Classics. This time it was one of my favorites, Peter and the Wolf. And, what a difference a year makes. Last year, although the kids learned a lot, they didn't quite know what to think about this new type of music. This year they were ready and loved it. I was really surprised at how much they got into it.


Maestro Classics is a great company. Every "story in music" that they put together is exciting and very well done. Peter and the Wolf began with an introduction that explained what to listen for in the story. It hi-lighted the different characters and the musical representation of each character.

Then it launched right in to the story, narrated by Yadu with the music being played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It was so much fun hearing my children blurt out what character the music represented at different times during the story. I allowed my children to play quietly while listening. Periodically, I would ask them questions to make sure that they were listening and, indeed, they would either tell me exactly what was going on, or urge me to be quiet so that they could hear. After the story was over, my asperger's syndrome son, Joshua, commented "I just love these CD's". I was truly amazed at the enthusiasm of all of my children.

But that's not all! After the main story, Bonnie Ward Simon gave an excellent and really exciting biography of the composer of Peter and the Wolf, Russian born Sergei Prokoliev. If you don't think that the biography of a composer could be interesting, you need to hear Ms. Simon! I, at least, was entranced.

The Simons know how to keep your attention. They intermingle different things into their CD's to make them fun. However, even though they are fun, they are also educational. The next section of the CD was titled "A Russian Peter" and had traditional Russian instruments playing the Peter theme. It was fascinating to hear the already familiar Peter music being played by the "Trio Voronezh" using Russian instruments. It gave all of us a wonderful in-site into the music of that country.

Think we're done yet? Think again! After we had an introduction to the music, heard the story, learned about the composer, and had a great time listening to a different version of the Peter theme, Stephen Simon gave us a little more detail about the music. He pointed out subtle changes that the composer put into the music. Then we listened to the whole story again, but this time with no narration, only the music. Now that the kids have learned so much, they were really ready to listen to the selection again to see if they could hear the musical intricacies.

Finally, we are invited to Grandfather's party where the Trio Voronezh plays another traditional Russian tune titled "Kalinka".


Wow! You would think that all of that must take hours to listen to and wonder how your children would ever pay attention to it all. Actually, the entire CD is only a little over 68 minutes. But, lest you think that the CD is the only exciting thing, think again. There is also a wonderful 24 page booklet filled with more information on the composer, Sergei Prokoliev, the Trio Voronezh, the narrator, Yadu, and the Simons themselves. AND (yes there is even more) there are puzzles, more information on Peter and the Wolf, pictures and information on the different instruments used to represent the characters, and more information on traditional Russian music and instruments.

Let me tell you, that these CD's are very much worth their price of $16.98. They are great way to introduce children of all age to classical music and great composers. Maestro Classics has other great CD's in their "Story's in Music" series. To hear samples of this CD and the other CD's or for more information on how to purchase them, you can click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above (you have got to hear the Elvis version of "O Juanita" from Juanita the Spanish Lobster). Also, if you want to know what the other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew think of this series, you can click here. Now, since these are great for all kids, not just homeschooled children, I'll close with...Happy Home Educating!

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was sent a free copy of "Peter and the Wolf" to use and review on my blog.




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Posted by tink38570 at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thursday, 20 January 2011 12:09 PM CST
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Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Box Tops for Education
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: General

A couple of weeks ago I told you about  a choir who mingled with a crowd at a shopping mall and then, on cue, came together and began singing. It was called a "Random Act of Culture".

Well, I got an email today about another similar story that involves Box Tops for Education. We didn't have Box Tops for Education when I was in school, but I found out a lot about them when I was a substitute teacher for a few years. They are really big in schools these days and really do a lot of good. I've even heard that homeschool groups can be involved in the program.

So, how is this similar to "Random Acts of Culture". Well, I'll let the video explain itself, then afterward I'll post a little more about Box Tops for Education.



Box Tops for Education was created by General Mills in 1996 as an easy way to help make a difference for kids and schools. Since then, schools have earned more than $375 million through the program to help get the things they need-from books and school supplies to playground equipment and computers. Help make a difference in schools by clipping Box Tops from more than 240 brands, including Cheerios, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Hamburger Helper, Kleenex, Ziploc, Hefty, Juicy Juice, Avery, Welch´s, Land O´Lakes and Brita. Find out how much your school has earned and learn other ways to earn cash for your school at www.btfe.com.

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:25 PM CST
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Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Is this A Lie? Is there no Mercy?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: General

I went to bed last night and forgot to post something on my blog. I really need to start writing lots of posts at one time and pre-post them. I promised I would really try to post something every day for a year. It's only January 18...err...19th.

Well, my heart was right. I really wanted to post. My intentions were good. And...it's got to still be the 18th somewhere in the world doesn't it? So, I've post dated this entry for the 18th. Is this a lie? Is there no mercy? I'll change it if you think I should. I just hate for there to be a black mark on my calendar already. InnocentLaughing

I'll see you later. I promise I won't forget tonight!

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Posted by tink38570 at 12:01 AM CST
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Monday, 17 January 2011
Haiti - One Year Later - A Success Story
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Compassion International

Most of you know that this past week marked the one year anniversary of the terrible earthquake in Haiti. I don't have any Compassion International children in Haiti but I have been reading the accounts of many of the children in Haiti. Here is a video of one of them. In my title, I said that it was a success story. With all of the accusations of mis-allocated donations it is good to hear a success story. But, although this is a success story in one way, with most tragedies, you have to measure success one stage at a time. You will see what I mean when you watch the video.

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Posted by tink38570 at 11:37 PM CST
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Sunday, 16 January 2011
I Saw Jesus on a Garbage Heap!
Mood:  happy
Topic: The Purple Files


So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 

I went for a walk the other day through a neighborhood that I wasn't familiar with. You would think that after all of these years I would know every part of my small town, but there was one section that I always avoided. That day, however, something compelled me to walk that way. I didn't know what it was at the time. Only that there was a reason why I had to go. So I did.

It was the kind of street that your mother always warns you about. An area where you really shouldn't walk alone. However, as I walked, I felt peace. As if it was where I should be at that moment. It was an inner peace. It had to be, because there was nothing on the outside that would convey peace at all. The houses were shabby and rundown. The lawns unkempt. It didn't get any better as I walked. The houses, if that's what you could call them, became mere shacks, and the shacks became mere boxes, hardly even livable. Junk filled the yards. Graffiti filled the walls. Still, I felt comfort. There was a voice within that said I should be there.

I walked on until there were no structures at all. Only junk. And then I saw it. The mound - no, the hill - no, the mountain of garbage. Stinking, filthy, trash everywhere. But there was something different about this trash. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on at first until it finally dawned on me what it was. It was the trash itself. This wasn't ordinary refuse that you would see on a regular garbage heap. This was different. There were no soup cans or soda bottles or cereal boxes. Instead I saw a can of discouragement, a bottle of depression, and a box of rejection. To my right there was a package of worry and a bag of fear. On my left there were scraps of disobedience.

As far as my eye could see there were large pieces and small pieces but each had the same type of label. Some labels were disgusting to my eyes - murder, pornography, abuse. Others weren't as repulsive - gossip, lies, hurtful words. All, however, were pieces of garbage. Worthless piles of waste.

I stood wondering what it all meant. Why was I there? Why was I so driven within that I had to walk that way and see that horrible site? I didn't belong there. I wasn't any of those things.

Then, something caught my eye. Was something moving? What was it? There was no wind - not even a breeze. It wasn't something moved by the air. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then I saw it again. Something, indeed, was moving slowly through the pile of trash. My curiosity got the best of me and I walked closer to see what it was. It was a person. In fact, as I came nearer to him, I recognized who it was immediately. It was Jesus!

Jesus was on the top of that garbage heap! Why was he there? Why would Jesus be in the middle of a dump? And what was he doing? At first I couldn't tell but then, finally, I saw. He reached down to pick up a piece of trash. I saw clearly what it was, it was a jar of guilt. Then, the most amazing thing happened. As he grabbed that filthy jar it became a hand. And as he picked it up, it ceased to become a piece of trash, but became a young women. And then, as she stood, she was no longer filthy, but  beautiful. Not with an outward beauty, however. It was an inward beauty. A beauty that I had never seen before. A radiant beauty that could only be given by Jesus himself. Next, he reached down for a box that said anger. Soon, there was a young father standing before Jesus, just as radiant and shining as the young women.

I watched in awe as one by one Jesus reached for garbage but instead pulled up beautiful human beings. A bottle of rejection became a young boy. A package of addiction became a teenage girl. An elderly woman came from chunks of fear and a middle aged man came from pieces of uselessness. All were as shining and beautiful as the young women and young father were.

Then they began to run. I watched until they disappeared but there was no more wonder in my mind. I knew what had happened. I knew why they ran. They were free. Free from the bondage of sin to which they had been shackled. Free from being trash in a garbage heap.

I watched with joy. I cheered them on. It was a glorious site. Until my happiness turned to tears. You see, I was still standing there. I was not running with them. Then I realized why I was there. I belonged there. I belonged in that pile of trash. As I looked at myself I was no longer me. I was a piece of filth. I could see myself and I didn't have just one label, I had many. Dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and worry were there. Guilt, selfishness and rejection were included. My list went on and on. Indeed I was nothing but garbage. Filthy, stinking garbage. There was no hope for me. I would never run. I would never be free. I felt so small. So all alone. So unworthy.

Then, it happened. He walked my way. He saw me. He saw me with all of my sins. With all of my labels. With all of my baggage. And...he looked beyond it all and he touched me. He grabbed my hand. He pulled me up. And he looked at me. He took my face and he looked at me. There was that force. The force that I had been feeling this whole time. The force that drew me to this place. It was Jesus. Jesus had called me here. Jesus had called me to himself, and, then, Jesus had picked me up and set me free. I now had the joy. I now had the hope. I now had the radiance that I had seen and so longed for in the others. I began to run. I began to run like they had. Because, now I was free. The Son had set me free, and I was free indeed.


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Posted by tink38570 at 6:52 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 16 January 2011 10:22 PM CST
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