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Monday, February 21, 2011

Destination Disney: World Showcase



This week's theme for Destination Disney is the World Showcase at Epcot.  Heidi laid out several questions, so I'll just jump right in and try to answer them!

What's your favorite thing about the World Showcase?
Ohhh, just one?  I have always, always loved the World Showcase.  I love the level of authenticity that went into the creation of each country- you really feel like you are there.  I love how the cast members are from the countries they work in, and they are happy to share about their homeland.  I love the FOOD!  Yum!!!  The Voices of Liberty rock, and I'm not just saying that because my pastor is singing with them now, ;-).  Oh, and the new Kim Possible quests are the best thing they have ever done.  They are very cool and they really get you exploring each pavilion.  Oh, and you can't forget the gardens.  All of Disney has wonderful gardens, but the World Showcase has the best of the best. 

Do you have a favorite place to eat in the World Showcase?

My hands down favorite through the years has been Chefs de France.  But all the restaurants in the WS are good.

A new feature at Chefs is having Remy come visit each table.  He sang "Happy Birthday" to our birthday girl. 
If you have kids, what do you do to make the World Showcase experience more fun/educational for them?
I used to work at Disney teaching educational programs, so my kids tire of me telling them all the educational things about Disney, LOL.  But that being said, we really do enjoy the Kim Possible thing.  It gets the kids poking around each pavilion and learning stuff about each country without them even realizing it.

Getting a clue for their quest at the Day of the Dead figure in Mexico
I also always let them go through the shops because the goods and merchandise of a country tell you a lot about the country itself- gnomes, rosemaling, and wool sweaters in Norway; Rice candy, Chinese zodiac, and jade figures in China-  and the list goes on. 
Mini sombreros in Mexico
I could go on and on.  Even before kids, my husband and I used to go to the WS just to people watch; seeing people from all different nationalities interacting with other people from all over the world- it really is a small world after all.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sundown

I love this time of day. 

The golden hour. 

When the last rays of sunlight paint everything in a warm golden hue. 

The world slows.  Children gather at home.  The need for work, to feel accomplishment from the doings of your hands ends, and the time to rest, fellowship, and enjoy begins.  Sundown is like a release.  A release of unaccomplished tasks to the next day, a release of work in favor of family, a release of expectation in favor of just being.  Saying good bye to the day that is done, and waiting patiently for the new day, whose cares and concerns thankfully will tarry in the dark for a few hours longer.

I'm at a sunset in my life too that I never thought I'd be at.  On Tuesday of this week, my eldest son, the child who God used to make me a mom, will head off to school for the first time in 13 years.  While bazillions of other 13 year olds will head off to school on Tuesday also, for this homeschooling mom, and that 13 year old, this will be an event I never thought would happen. Things have been looking dark around here for a while.  I have struggled with how much to say, what to share, about what has brought us to this crossroads, but I think I have resigned myself to being fully truthful in the hope that sharing our struggles might help someone else, if not in encouragement, at least in knowing they are not alone.  But I'll leave that telling to another post.  For right now, I sit poised on the verge of a shining bright new dawn.  In the past few days since we made our decision, I have come to "be okay" with it...mostly...although there is way more to share about that too.  As is my habit, I'm always trying to cram one more thing in before the sun sets completely, before the light for this day is gone ,and I must wait patiently for the morrow-pluck one more weed, teach one more grammar lesson.  In that way too, my role as a homeschooler mimics my role as wife, mother, and help meet.  It's hard to just let go.  To let him stand or fall of his own accord.  To let him, and a perfect stranger, assume the responsibility for his education that until this point has solely rested with me. 

But I'm trying.

And I'm praying.

Hard, long, and tearful prayers.

And so I ask you, my readers and my friends, to join us in praying, if you are so inclined.

Lord, as I type this, the light is fading.  Those last few moments, they steal away so quickly.  So too do I feel these last few days of life the way it has always been slipping away.  I feel this is the right decision, and is from You, but I fervently pray that if it is not, You would make that obvious to his father and I.  I pray that You would act powerfully in his life.  That he would know Your presence, but most importantly that he would accept Your gift of salvation.  I pray that You would use his teacher and his classmates to make a powerful, positive change in his life and in his heart.  That he would lay his anger and his laziness aside and be able to control his temper and to diligently do his schoolwork.  I ask these things in the name of Your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Favorite Valentine's gift

My sweet, creative Mimi gave me a homemade card featuring an acrostic (although I'm sure she has no idea what an acrostic is):

Magnificant
Only one
Me and you
Marvelous
(that's)
You

Awwww. 
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Heaven on earth...

looks like dinner at the Melting Pot.  Cheese fondue...yummy salad...chocolate fondue.  Does it get any better???  The hubs found out Friday late afternoon that he had been obligated by a third party to work Saturday for about half the day.  So the third party made up for it by buying us dinner.  It was such a huge treat!  Of course, we had to eat at 4:15PM to get in the weekend before V'day, but it was worth it.  YUM YUM!!!  And the best part is that there is some money left (since we skipped the main course) for us to go out again.  I'm thinking we may have to check out the new Kiku.  I could get used to eating like this, but my wasteline can't ;-).
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Sunday Evening Post

It's strawberry season in FL...and yet the berries are $3/pound at the u-pick and $3/pound on sale at the grocery store.  My kids can eat a pound of berries in about 10 seconds flat.  We're going to need a second mortgage to afford our trips to the grocery store!

I had a HORRIBLE dream last night.  You know, the kind that has no basis in truth, but wakes you up and leaves you awake.  This one involved horrible, torturous things being done to my small boy...while I watched helpless to stop it...almost 24 hours later, it's still bugging me.  Now if it had been his older brother...

Our indoor cat...the one that was born in this house?  She's an outdoor cat now.  She went into perpetual heat.  Perpetual.  And she started peeing everywhere in the house.  And getting her fixed wasn't in the budget.  It just isn't.  I love animals, but my priority on our one income is to feed our family and pay our bills, and spaying all the kittens of every stray cat that lands on our doorstep just isn't in the budget.  So when she ran outdoor for the gazillionth time Thursday night when it was dark and cold, we just let her stay out there.  It has taken her no time at all not only to acclimate to being outdoors, but to fully embrace it to the exclusion of even being civil to us most of the time.  Crazy! 

I need one more day in each weekend.  One that holds no obligations in it but time for me to get our homeschool week planned.  I just can't seem to get ahead.

The kids and I have been reading a book aloud every day.  We just finished the Hobbit.  I'm not sure what we will start next, but the potential list is very long.  The kids have a long list of books to read for Precept and most of them are sitting in a basket just waiting for us to start them.  We watched Chariots of Fire tonight for the same reason.  It was very good.  I never saw it when it came out or any of the years between that time and now.  But I'm glad we watched it tonight. 

I'm photographing a renewal of vows a week from tomorrow, and I'm very nervous about it.  I'd appreciate your prayers that everything would go well and that I will not disappoint them.  Also, if any locals want to volunteer to have a kid or two of mine hang out at your house Monday morning, that would be great.  It might help to ensure that I return home to four kids.

Why do I always start my blog post with tons of great ideas and end up writing insipid little things instead?

I'm watching Doc Martin on Netflix.  My friend Aunt Fanny and her husband have been watching it and loving it.  I'm less enamored.  It's not bad, but it's a little slow.  The characters are quirky, and I'm sure a good part of the attraction for Aunt Fanny is that one of the main characters has dreads, LOL.  I did like the driving bits in the first episode though...it was VERY much like the roads we encountered in Wales.  I never did understand how anyone arrived anywhere alive.  In the villages, there were places where you would literally back up until you reached the next driveway and pull in until the oncoming traffic passed you.  Definitely NOT the place to live if you tend to be chronically late since you spend 1/4 of your driving time going the opposite direction from your destination!

Okay, I'm off to bed.  At this point, I'm tempted to blow off school in the morning in favor of Disney, but I imagine we won't do that because we are already planning on going on the 25th.  So that means an early morning for me as I attempted to get done all the prep work I meant to accomplish this weekend in the few moments I will have in the morning before everyone else gets up.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Roman Town Review

If my 13 year old could pick his favorite product that we have reviewed this year, it would be this one hand down.  I mean, what's more cool than a game, and a computer game at that, that lets you dig up stuff??? 

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Roman Town is a computer program designed by a company called Dig It! Games, which was founded by a professional archaeologist and teacher, that allows kids to discover facts and information about ancient Rome by participating in a virtual archaeological dig.  It's "all the fun of a real archaeological excavation without getting your hands dirty!"  The excavation is of a real Roman town called Fossura that was destroyed in 79AD when Mt. Vesuvius erupted.  Students get to experience a real dig site by allocating diggers and by choosing the tools those diggers will use, which is what you see on the screen shot below.  When a worker finds something, you get to finish clearing the dirt away to uncover it and then click through a series of informational screens to learn more about the artifact.
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After all the artifacts are found, you have the chance to process them further in the lab.  Below, you can see an activity to reconstruct a vase.
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Many games are available to reinforce what the students have learned.  Below, they can use a word bank to fill in the blanks of a report on their dig.
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Other games like the one below show the difference between the artifacts and their modern day counterparts.

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The screen below gives you an idea of all the educational activities there are to do.
















The Pros:  What a wonderful game!  My son BEGS to play it.  And on top of that, he actually remembers what he has learned.  If only every subject could have a game like this!  The game gives information about archaeology and how field work goes, but it also gives tons of information about Ancient Rome-their way of life, what each artifact was used for, and even virtual tours of the rooms you uncover as they would have looked in 79AD.  It's very cool and very educational.  While it's geared toward grades 5-8, their website recommends it to kids ages 8-88, and I'd say that's about right.

The Cons:  What's not to love about a game that is so much fun your child doesn't even realize they are learning?  Unfortunately, they recently had a price increase, but lucky for you there is a special discount code only for readers of the TOS Crew blogs, so read on below!

The bottom line:  I wish there was _____________ Town...you fill in the blank, I'd buy it.  What a great way to learn about Archaeology and about Ancient Rome.  Two subjects, one game, endless fun and painless learning- LOVE it!!!

To check out Roman Town, go HERE.  If you are interested in purchasing it, you want to use the code TOS2011.  That code will give you an amazing deal.  The 2010 price on Roman Town was $24.95, but the 2011 price was bumped up to $39.95.  By using the TOS2011 code, you will get 20% off the 2010 price!!!  BUT, that code is only valid until February 11th. so order NOW!  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free copy of Roman Town for the purpose of giving my honest review.  That downloaded game was the only compensation I received.
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