Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

I haven't forgotten about all of you... but I have been enjoying a break from blogging very much and it is recharging me to come back with a new blogging plan for 2009!

I hope you have many wonderful things to look forward to in 2009.

(By the way, only one more post until I hit 500 posts! I can hardly believe it... gotta make that one extra special!)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Guest Review: Man in the Map

What is something you remember learning in elementary school? For me, it was learning how to be the teacher's pet. (If you knew me in real life, you'd totally understand!). This week, Tess shares something she wished she had in elementary school to make learning a little more interesting.

One of the things I remember about elementary school was learning where states were located on a map.  There was just no connection made for me to help me recall what I was learning.  Schoolside Press has published a book that I wish had been around for me when I was a child.

That is all I needed was for Geography to be fun.  Well, The Little Man in the Map written by E. Andrew Martonyi is just the ticket to making that Geography lesson fun and easy to remember.  The main character is MIM (Man in the Map).  Now, you may ask where this man is in the map.  If you trace around Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana then you have found him.  Mim comes alive and teaches a classroom full of kids in the story about the Northeastern States, Southeastern States, South Central States, Western States and the Midwestern States.  Clues are learned along the way to help visualize  the entire USA.

imageThe story is written in rhyme which further engages learning.  The illustrations by Ed Olson are wonderful.  There are free coloring pages to go along with the story found at www.schoolsidepress.com.  There is even a wall map (38x22) available for purchase that further helps to reinforce the location of the states.  The book can also be purchased directly from the site for $19.95                                                 

This book is a fun way to learn the 50 states.  You can find out what the rest of the Homeschool Crew has to say about this book, by visiting The Oldschoolhouse Homeschool Crew Blog.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas

I'm on a little blogging break while I enjoy some time with my family! I will see you next week!

Guest Review: Time4Learning Wrap-up

Want to know what Tess has to say about Time4Learning now that her review period is over? Then keep on reading! :)


I’m back with my final installment to this site Time 4 Learning.  I really have had mixed emotions with this review.  I think it is a great site.  It covers all core subjects.  It is entertaining and engaging for the kids.  I think it definitely has its place in home schooling settings.  Here is where I had problems.  I love to interact with my kids.  I love for them to interact with each other.  This program is a curriculum that is solely on the computer.  There isn’t conversation.  I looked over at my child staring blankly into a screen.  I know that he was learning and I am sure the gears were turning in his head, but I felt like I was allowing him too much time in front of a screen for the sake of education. 

This site doesn’t claim to be a Christian site.  There are places that I felt the dialogue was a little sassy and maybe disrespectful.  There were topics touched upon that I wasn’t too keen on.  This occurred in the science department.  This was my opinion though and you might not find these issues too pressing.

Here is where I do think this site can fit in beautifully.  I think it would be great for a summer program.  I could definitely see this being used for the “I’m bored…“ moments in the dog days of summer. The price is absolutely right at $19.95 a month for Language Arts and Math.  You can add a second child for an additional $14.95 a month.  You are given a 14 day money back guarantee and there is no long term contract.  Pre-school all the way to 8th grade is covered. 

I am really glad to have gotten to review this site.  It helped me further define what I feel education to be for my family.  See, you may be reading these reviews and making some decisions for yourselves about what you feel home education is and what might work for your family, but what I am learning is that even though I have been home schooling for many years, my ideas too constantly change and evolve about what I feel home education is too.  As my kids change and grow, I have to find new and interesting ways to approach subjects without compromising what we value and cherish. 

You can find out what the rest of the Homeschool Crew has to say about this site, by visiting The Oldschoolhouse Homeschool Crew Blog.

Thanks for reading yet again…..Tess

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guest Review: Two for One

I have 2 reviews from Tess to share with you today. In the first one, Tess  shares the dark side of her home schooling with us, sort of.  In the second, she offers readers a free 1-month trial to a new math training program.

In more personal news, Tess's cat died yesterday and there is a general sadness over her house now. Leave her a quick note to cheer her up (or to let her know if you are going to try out the math program.

image Okay,  I have been letting you glimpse into my world of home schooling.  I have presented a pretty rosy picture so far.  Now I am going to let you in on my not so rosy side.  I am horribly deficient in the fine arts department.  I would rather go outside with the kids and play.  I would rather go to Disney, which living in Central Florida and being pass holders is an easy thing to do.  I would rather watch a movie or bake cookies.  I don’t want to gather art supplies and get all goopy and gloppy. 
When I was sent this art curriculum on cd I thought that it better be something really special.  One of the first things I read was the mission statement.
I thought blah, blah, blah…..Then there was a research paper entitled  “Art is Good for My Brain?”  Well, now I know that my kids are destined for failure if I don’t do something now.  Better organization, higher standards, better SAT scores, and lots more is to be gained through learning art.
This program does it all for you.  You really don’t have to do anything but have tons of fun.  The curriculum is broken down monthly and then weekly with 35 weekly themes.  There are 269 art activities to choose from.  You don’t have to follow it the way it is set up.  Once you purchase it, it is yours to do with as you see fit.  There are 137 patterns and display posters.  There are art history connections and scriptural connections.  I couldn’t even use the excuse of not finding the art supplies.  Spears Art Studio, Inc. is affiliated with Dick Blick Art Materials.  You just place an order…
Stop by Spears Art Studio and view sample projects and lesson plans.  The curriculum is $39.95 and shipping is included.

Through these reviews I have been giving you bits and pieces of who I am and how I home school my children.  You know that I am not real keen on curriculum that is online.  This is another one of “those.”  I do like this one better than Time4Learning.  The reason is that it is very specialized.  Have you ever gone to a Chinese buffet and seen everything from Chinese food to American food to Italian food.  How can a restaurant be so good at so many different foods at once?  Chances are they aren’t.  If you can find a Chinese food that serves only Chinese food then chances are it will be awesome.  This company offers just that.  It is primarily a math curriculum with  some upper level science in there too.

ALEKS stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces.  It is a math curriculum that you can subscribe to monthly.  When I signed up at the site for my youngest daughter who is 8, the first thing she did was take a quick assessment of about 30 questions to design the curriculum around her.  There is a pie diagram in the corner that shows her the progress she is making to master a particular topic.  I liked that a lot.  Another aspect I really liked is that there was basically no multiple choice questions.  Each problem needs to be worked out on paper first.

The company gave me a few people that I could contact, families that are all currently using ALEKS.  I did contact one to find out how they use ALEKS, what they liked about it and what they didn’t like about it.  Nancy from FL said that they use ALEKS mostly in the summer.  It isn’t any problem to keep up with what their children are doing because as a parent she can look at that pie in the corner and get the actual amount of time she spends on the site.  An evaluation can also be requested at any time.  She thought that the program was more advanced than a lot of programs and that it is integrated with all 50 states’ standards, which is great for submitting to public school people.  She also felt it was great practice for standardized testing.

Some of the cons Nancy also mentioned was the cost.  I don’t know about that one.  The cost is $19.95 per month and they do offer a family discount.  Also, there is normally a 48-hour free trial but Aleks has extended it to a month for readers of my reviews. Visit the special website to take advantage of the Aleks one-month free trial. Nancy also mentioned that this can be a little intimidating for beginning users but I am sure that intimidation is quickly replaced when they see their pies fill up.  Of course, if you have an auditory learner this program would not work.  There is no sound.  On the flip side, if you have a visual learner this would be a great program.

I might consider using this curriculum in the summer just to keep the gears greased up and moving.   Check it out for yourself.  Follow that link above and give it a try for a month.  You really can’t go wrong there.  If you still are not sure and want to read what others had to say go to www.Homeschoolblogger.com/homeschoolcrew .

Take Care

Monday, December 15, 2008

Green Irene Comes for a Visit

Well, not actually. But it would be cool.


You don't know who Green Irene is?

Oh. So you haven't heard of one of the newest companies to help mommas keep their carbon footprint smaller?

Let me introduce to Green Irene then.

Green Irene is an environmental consulting company that makes house calls. For $99 a Green Irene consultant will come to your home and show you ways to reduce your electric and water costs. Call it a Green Makeover (because that is what they call it!)

Green Home Makeover Topics include:
  • Energy conservation improvements
  • Energy efficient lighting replacements
  • Water conservation and purity tools
  • Green energy sources available in your area (i.e. electricity from wind power and other renewable sources rather than coal)
  • Improving indoor air quality
  • Toxic free living by reducing harmful chemicals in use
  • Recycling and waste reduction
  • And so much more...
And if having your own home made over isn't enough and you want to spread the enviro-love, then you can even get more information about becoming a Green Irene consultant. As an independent consultant for another direct marketing company, I can tell you their process looks fairly simple and they help protect your territory as well. That is always valuable in this type of business.

Sponsored by Green & Clean Mom and Green Irene.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Guest Review: Salem Ridge Press


I love to read.  I want my kids to love to read.  I want my kids to enjoy rich literature that demonstrates moral values and encourages  positive character. 

Those are strong statements but it is true.  We go to the library once a week without fail.  Sometimes I cringe thinking about what may be on those shelves.  Salem Ridge Press understands.  The founder is just a boy himself.  He is a young man in his mid twenties.  He is a home school graduate.  He loves history and literature.  He found a way to take the things he loves and turn it into a worthy product.

I was sent the following three books to review. 

image image image

The first thing about this company to impress me was the beautiful packaging.  A lot of time and effort was taken to hand wrap each book in tissue.  I could tell right away that this was going to be a special company to interview.  The books were all paperback but that was fine.  The quality was wonderful.  The type size was different for the levels of difficulty.  The covers were all glossy and just perfect.

We begin each school day with about 20 minutes of my reading to the kids.  We all gather together closely in the living room and read.  I loved reading these to my kids.  I knew that if this company thought so much of this book to bring it back into publication then I should care too.  My kids loved them.  I loved them.

This company is dedicated to bringing back quality  children’s books of the 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Please check out the Salem Ridge Press web site for a complete list of titles.  Oh, and by the way….


Take care….Tess

Charlotte and Dogs

Dog is one of Charlotte's newest signs. It took a while for her to get it exactly right though. There are a couple of ways to sign dog. You can tap your leg once and then snap your fingers. Or you can just tap your leg two times. Since snapping her fingers is a fine motor skill she hasn't achieved yet, we went with a simple two taps on the leg. She used to slap her chest for dog.

I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of Charlotte with dogs.

This is Charlotte at 4 months old, staring in to the loving eyes of her Great-Grandfather's puppy.

Now, at 15 months old, she is much braver. This is her with her Grumpy's dog Mickie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Insecurity in Women

Living Proof Ministries recently asked their blog readers to answer a few questions about insecurity. After 820 women responded, they closed the comments and I didn't get a chance to answer the questions. They asked women to anonymously answer the following questions:
  1. What age-decade are you in? (Teens? Twenties? Thirties? ...Sixties?)
  2. Single? Married? Divorced? Or widowed?
  3. How big an issue is insecurity to you personally? Respond with one of the following answers: None at all; A little; Enough to bother me; Pretty big; HUGE.
  4. What do you see as the 2 leading sources of insecurity in your personal life? (Use brief answers please)
  5. Give this one serious thought: How much would you say a man or men play into your insecurities? (Use only a few words.
  6. If you have something to share and particularly if you feel your pulse rising a bit at the subject matter, write one BRIEF paragraph describing specific impact insecurity has had on you.
Since I couldn't provide my answers, I decided to start reading what other women had shared. I couldn't get a third down the page without tears streaming down my face. There are so many women out there who are so broken, relying on their fathers, mothers, husbands, friends, and children for support and encouragement and being rebuffed at every turn.

Certainly, they should be turning to God for their security. But I don't think God wants us to live in a vacuum. He put these other people in our lives just so we could feel His love through them. I admit to lots of struggles with my own insecurities too and know I am no better than many of the women who left comments on the LPM's blog.

What can we do about it? What can I do about it?  I have a few ideas of my own, but I want to know what you think. How can we, as women in particular, help other women over come their insecurities related to success, parenting, weight, and relationships?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Price Fail

One of my new favorite blogs is FAIL Blog, devoted solely to pointing out silly things that people and companies do. I came across my own pricing fail, and had to share it with ya'll.

Recently, while browsing my local drug store, I found a Hallmark Chill Buddy, a semi-cute stuffed snowman. Take a look at the tag.
In case you can't read it (I did take the pictures with my cell phone ya'll), the front says "$6.00 Value". The back says "$2.99."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Clorox 2 & Holiday HandoutsGiveaway Winners

The 4 winners of my Clorox 2 giveaway are: Anna, ChrissyLW, Beeb, and Danielle. I'll send you e-mails tonight to let you know how to claim your prize.

And... I had two winners from Holiday Handouts that never got back to me... so, the new winner of a Norton PC Tune-up is... Charlotte. And the new winner of the Mystery Gift Basket is...Jinxy & Me.

Thanks for playing!

Keeping Warm

Her hands were cold. Even the expensive, white leather gloves she kept perfectly clean couldn't keep the chill from settling into her fingers.

"Where is that man?" she muttered to no one in particular. "I've been waiting long enough."

After another moment, a cream colored luxury sedan pulled up and a man in a black suit and cap quickly jumped out to open the door for Rebecca. As usual, he remained silent, performing his duty. And as usual, his thoughts were 7 miles away. With his 3 daughters, huddled under the covers together in one bed, doing their best to stay warm while they waited for their Daddy to come home on Christmas Eve.

Under his breath, he said, "It's already been such a long day. Please God, let her be done with her shopping."

"Just take me home. I am done for the day," Rebecca called out from the back seat, much to the driver's relief.

But there was a problem. Even though she was tired from a day of lunching and shopping, she didn't actually want to go home. She knew that the loneliness would still be with her. It never went away. Not since her husband died last January.

Now, there home just seemed lonely, and cold. Rebecca had tried filling it with her country-club friends and society parties, but all seemed so hollow without someone to share it with.

"Christopher just had a way," she remembered to herself as a smile almost crept to her lips. "He knew how to make anyone feel welcome in our home. How I miss his warmth." Memories of him cavorting around the house with his nieces played over and over in her own mind. They never had children of their own and he cherished those nieces as if they were his own. It was rare for them to come around these days. Memories of their favorite uncle were too strong.

"Ma'am. We're here."

Rebecca came out of her reverie and realized they were sitting in her driveway and it was time to get out. For a split second, she contemplated inviting her driver and his three daughter's over for hot cocoa. She had never met the girls, but they looked happy in the glimpse of a Christmas picture she had seen on the front seat recently. But that would never do. They probably already had plans and she barely knew them.

Once in the house, the sound of her own keys dropping onto the marble entry table finally brought her back to reality. She took the rest of her packages upstairs and laid down on her empty, king-sized bed. The hours passed by and she drifted off to sleep.

Suddenly, she was jarred awake by her own alarm clock. It was Christmas day. And she was still cold and alone. Her morning was spent like any other. There was no family to go and see. All of her friends had families of their own.

As Rebecca wandered around her house, she recalled her life with Christopher. The stories he could tell. The games they played with his nieces. It was too much and she fell asleep on the couch as the snow started to fall in the dusky outdoors.

When she woke up this time, it wasn't to her alarm clock, but the door bell. Rebecca had no idea who it could be. No company was expected on this decidedly family holiday. As she opened the door, she was surprised to see three young girls standing there to greet her, each holding a package. Behind them stood her driver, holding a plate of home-baked cookies.

"Come in. You must be freezing!" she exclaimed once she collected her thoughts and smoothed her hair. Before she could say anything else, three very excited girls dressed in their best Sunday clothes rushed in, all talking at once.

"I brought you a scarf I made!"
"And a hat to match!"
"We all made you a card too!"

Their dad grinned sheepishly behind them and offered the plate of warm, chocolate-chip cookies to Rebecca. "They sure are happy to meet you. They've been planning this visit since Thanksgiving day and couldn't wait to come over."

Rebecca hardly knew what to say. She hadn't seem smiling children in her house for a year now and it was almost too much to bear. The girls and their dad stayed for a little while and shared their treats with her while they all drank the hot chocolate she made for them.

Finally though, it was time for them to leave. As she watched their car pull down her driveway, Rebecca wrapped her new scarf around her neck and held the card to her chest. She couldn't remember feeling this warm in very a long time.

An original work of fiction submitted to Scribbit's December Write-Away contest.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My First Playdate

"Wanna come play with me?"
When we moved to our new community last summer, I knew that I wanted to get to know the other moms in our neighborhood. I just didn't realize that it would be so hard. Even though there are lots of sidewalks in our community and we take frequent walks, it is hard to meet people to form relationships.

Now that it has been six months since we moved, I decided to be a bit more proactive and intentional about the whole thing.

I made a flyer.

Yep, I designed a simple little flyer inviting other moms to come over and have a play date with us. I posted it by the mail boxes and then made 100 copies of it to deliver door to door. We put them on the doors about a week ago and this morning is going to be our first offical community play date.

I hope it goes well. I have a simple craft and snack planned for the kiddos and hope the mommas get to have some nice "getting to know you" chats. I'll share more later how it turns out.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Guest Review: Rime to Read

If you are new around here, thanks for sticking around after the giveaways. One of the regular features here at Family Musings is guest posts. Recently, my friend Tess, a homeschooling mom of 3, has been sending me some great reviews to share with you. Since I have been kind of preoccupied with my mom lately, I am sharing another one of her reviews with you today. Let her know what you think!

Hi Everyone!!!! I don’t know how many of you have young children or children that may be having trouble learning how to read, but if you fit in either category this is a great product for you.
First of all, the name of the company is not spelled wrong.

Why Rime Not Rhyme? No, this isn't a spelling mistake. Rime is a word! Rimes sound and look alike.Rhymes (e.g. care, hair, where) sound alike but do not always look alike.

There are all different reading programs out there and they are all different prices. The end result is still the same…..hopefully better readers are born. Rime to Read can achieve this without breaking the bank. Let me first tell you what all this program can do for you before I tell you how little it actually costs.

There are 20 books that are intended to be read cumulatively. You can read the books online and even click on words that are difficult and hear them spoken. Words in each word family are color coded and high frequency words are pointed out as well. By the end of the 20 books, 35 site words, 20 word families and 46 high frequency words are learned and hopefully mastered. There is a newsletter and a “tip of the week.” After your child has enjoyed the book online you can save it to your computer and print them off. The books are yours to keep and you child can read it and read it and read it. My three kids are much too old for this product but it was very similar to the “Hooked on Phonics” program I used, only not so complicated nor so expensive.

Lots of reading programs are very expensive. How expensive is Rime to Read? This one is not that at all. You are also given options. You can purchase the entire set of 20 books to enjoy online and in your hands for $44.99 or you can purchase sets of 4 books at a time for $9.99. They are even letting you try the first book for free.

You can learn more at the Rime to Read website or as always read other reviews at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.

Take care,

Monday, December 08, 2008

An Update: 16 Months Old

My little girl sure is getting smart. Every time I turn around, it seems she has learned something new or acquired a different skill. I've been trying to keep track of some of the smart things Charlotte has done recently to share with you.

Charlotte loves to play in my plastics cabinet. It is the only one without baby-proof locks on purpose. It is "her cabinet." I keep several large plastic cups in there in case there are no clean dishes is unexpected company. Recently she has enjoyed pulling them out and stacking and unstacking the pink, green, and purple cups. One day, I decided to play the carnie and put a small ball under one of the cups and mix them up for her. After some vigourous mixing on my part, I asked her to show me which cup had the ball in it. She guessed right the first time, but I thought that might be because she had to choose between a purple and a pink cup, and remembered the ball was under the pink cup.

So next, I took 2 purple cups instead and did some more mixing and moving. When I asked her to pick which cup the ball was under, she got smart on me and picked up both purple cups. I am pretty certain she knew what she was doing too, because she had a big grin on her face as she did it. As if she had foiled me.

We have also gotten to the point where we have to spell certain words so she won't know what we are talking about. I totally didn't expect this from her at such a young age. I remember my parents spelling words for me at 6 and 7 years old. But I can't say, outside, milk, or banana, without her immediately thinking she will get any of them. Is this normal?

It is also fun to watch Charlotte anticipate some funny event that is about to happen. For example, if she knows her daddy is going to pick her up and swing her around, before he even lifts her off the bed/floor/couch, she just starts giggling so hard. I love to watch her wait for the joy of the fun and not be able to hold it in or contain herself. She is so free like that; I suppose most toddlers are.

And, even though photographic evidence is hard to come by, Charlotte has broken at least 5 new teeth in the last few weeks. The first 4 were all in the same week, and I noticed another one yesterday. Now we have 4 top and 4 bottom in the front, plus 2 top molars (one on each side), and at least 1 bottom molar. That makes 11!

And as evidence that she still enjoys hanging out in the cabinet, Bruce shot some short video yesterday. I've mixed in a couple of other cute clips just to show you what she has been up to.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Props N Pans Giveaways

Since I won't be doing a giveaway of my own this week, I thought I'd share with you a fun site that has lots of giveaways coming up. Props N Pans is giving away 2 $100 Visa Gift Cards.

If I come across any other neat giveaways this week, I'll share them with you on this post. Make sure you subscribe so you don't miss any!

Bedtime with Baby Einstein

For me, this time of year can get very busy. There are more parties, special playgroup celebrations, and events at the children's museum than usual. Lots of people are requiring my time as a mother. That means I have to be extra careful to give attention to Charlotte when she needs it and not just when it is convenient for me. Even my La Leche League leader knows we have to be careful to spend extra time with our kids this time of year and shared a little 12 Days of Breastfeeding ditty with us.

One way I make sure Charlotte and I get quality mommy-daughter time in is by reading. I have an attention span almost as short as my daughter's and like to keep adding new books into our rotation. That is why, when I received a Baby Einstein gift package from Mom Central recently, I immediately tore it open and we started in on the book. It is a Baby Einstein: Touch and Feel Baby Animals board book. We both loved petty all of the animals fur and skin. Not being a farm girl, I can't vouch for how realistic it all felt (thankfully it didn't smell realistic!), but the variety of textures is interesting and enjoyable.

We also received a copy of Baby Einstein: Lullaby Classics, Vol. 2 and enjoyed dancing along to it.
Charlotte has a lot of musicality and really enjoys this. I don't think I would use this as part of our bedtime ritual, but it could be effective in winding down for nap time after a particularly active play date.

And when I popped the Baby Einstein - Baby Mozart - Music Festival DVD in, I actually took the time to watch the extras for parents. I'll be honest and let you know I had shunned these DVDs in the past because I thought they were too simple, but after listening to the mom who created these share her thoughts and then other moms share how they use these videos to interact with their children, I feel differently. Charlotte and I will definitely use this video to share some special moments talking about color, animals, and rhythm.

So, my advice... since the holidays are going to bring extra stress and time demands, make sure you take extra moments each day to bond with your child. Whether you use a book, video, cd, or other toy, you and your child will both reap the benefits of the time together.

This post sponsored by Mom Central and Baby Einstein.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Delgo Movie Press Release

I am often asked to review products for my blog that people think I and my readers will like. A week or so ago, I received a request to review the movie Delgo, from Fathom Studios. It doesn't open until December 12, so the only thing I have to go by is the website and the press release I received. After browsing around the movie site and watching the trailers, I can definitely see that this movie has rich images and is a feast for the eyes. But other than that... I'll share with you the information I have, and leave you to judge for yourself.

A Little Peace & Goodwill This Holiday Season – Animated Style

Fast-paced action and adventure, a mystical land, an unlikely hero, a princess and a message of acceptance between different cultures make Delgo the perfect family-friendly movie this holiday season.

Releasing in theaters December 12, Delgo’s impressive voice cast includes Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Delgo), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Princess Kyla), Anne Bancroft (exiled Empress Sedessa) as well as Chris Kattan (Filo), Val Kilmer (Bogardus), Lou Gossett Jr. (Nohrin King), Michael Clarke Duncan (Lockni Stonesage Council), Kelly Ripa (Kurrin), Burt Reynolds (Delgo’s Father) and Sally Kellerman (Narrator).

The story takes place in the magical land of Jhamora which is divided between two cultures – the Nohrin, winged masters of the skies, and the Lockni, the terrestrial tribe who harness the mystical powers of the land. When Delgo (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), a reckless Lockni teenager, forms a forbidden friendship with the spunky Nohrin Princess Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt), hostilities between the two peoples escalate, setting the stage for an exiled empress (Anne Bancroft) to exact her revenge and reclaim her rule.

Falsely imprisoned, Delgo and his best friend, Filo (Chris Kattan), must put aside their differences to join forces with a sworn enemy, Bogardus (Val Kilmer), and travel to the mysterious land of Perran to rescue Princess Kyla. Here they encounter fanciful creatures and discover more than just a kidnapped princess, they learn the value of different cultures and the importance of working together.

Recognized in the animated industry as “Best Feature Film” Anima Mundi 2008 and selected for Annecy ( France ) and SICAF ( Korea ), Delgo is rated PG and has a running time of 90 minutes. For more information, please visit www.delgo.com

About Fathom Studios
Atlanta-based Fathom Studios has been creating award-winning computer animation since 1991. A division of the interactive agency Macquarium Intelligent Communications, the studio focuses on developing original content for television, film and the Internet through passion and creativity. Delgo is an independent movie and Fathom Studios’ first animated feature. The film was recently awarded “Best Feature Film” at Anima Mundi 2008 by an audience of approximately 100,000. Delgo is rated PG and has a running time of 90 minutes.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Update on my Mom

Have you ever felt useless or helpless when a loved one was sick?

If so, then I know you are relating to me right now. There is nothing I can do to help my mom right now. I can't give her my blood (I might have the markers for the same thing she has). I can't visit her (I still have this annoying cough). I can't even yell at the pharmacy when they deliver her meds two hours late and the nurses decide it is now too close to her next dose so they just skip it.

All I can do is post updates on her Caring Bridge site and pray. And, well, it just isn't enough action for me. I want to be there, actively participating in her care and healing. Instead, I have to get phone updates several times a day from her or my dad.

It just isn't the same. Especially when she sounded this morning just like she did on Monday when they admitted her. I can't tell you how mad it made me that the pharmacy was late delivering her meds. The only reason she is still in the hospital is to get those meds so her blood numbers can improved. Without those, she might as well be at home, where she would be infinitely more comfortable.

As much as we all know how much of a control freak my mom is, let's just say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. :)

I wish I had some better pictures of my mom to share, but she doesn't like being in front of the camera. This one was taken a couple of months ago at the Sting Ray pool in Sea World.

Thanksgiving Pictures from Cape Canaveral

My husband's job is really great. He gets an entire week off for Thanksgiving. (And don't get me started on 2 weeks for Christmas, 1 week just because Spring has sprung, and the 3 months over the summer!) This year, we travelled all the way to Cape Canaveral, a whole 90 minutes away, to whittle away the time doing practically nothing.

As licensed educators, we both earned free passes to Kennedy Space Center. It's a neat place to go if you like space exploration and reading a lot of long signs explaining what you are looking at. It can also be fun if you like to ignore the do not climb on me signs too.

Charlotte was not breaking any laws when she climbed into this space thing at Kennedy Space Center. This is a mock-up of the Apollo capsule and is super tiny. I tried to get a picture of Bruce sitting in it properly, but he moved out of it too quickly once he realized I was reaching for the camera. This might just be my favorite picture of her from vacation.

Getting family pictures can be hard when you are traveling alone. We used to just take self-portraits, but that is harder now with 3 of us to fit into the frame. A kind older couple offered to take a family picture for us, and well, at least our heads aren't chopped off or anything.

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of babies walking around in just a diaper. But, since I am a fan of sleeping in whenever possible, I don't particularly care whether or not my husband dresses Charlotte before I awake... so long as I get to sleep longer than usual. I think she is getting ready to go shopping here.

Sometimes vacations can wear out the most excited babies. I don't remember where we were that we stayed out so late, but it was probably something boring like going to Home Depot to buy a bucket for brining the turkey. Which, by the way, results in the moistest turkey ever! I highly recommend it next time you need to cook a large bird.

Here are a few more random photos... I won't caption them since this post has already gotten kind of long. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I love the internet!

Go ahead, say it with me. You know you do too. It makes our lives so much easier, especially when it comes to keeping in touch with friends and sharing updates with our families.

I also like how it has made the world a little smaller, particularly when it comes to shopping. What if I told you there was an online mall with over 2000 merchants for you to shop with and you didn't have to deal with those pesky department store beauty counter ladies? You know, the ones who want to glop goop all over your face and spray you down with the latest teen pop idols perfume.

There is. It is called SHOP.com. Purchases can be conveniently made from one over the 2000+ merchants using one universal "shopping cart" to buy everything at one time or by clicking over to participating merchants' sites.

Not only does online shopping help us save time, frustration, and gas, but when I was looking around Shop.com I found the Save Green, Live Green page and was impressed that they also offer products to support an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I also really liked that this site seems to support smaller retailers as well, not just the big box stores. Additionally, SHOP.com provides expert advice, shopping tips, and articles, while giving easy ways to save money via price comparison tools, coupons, and rebates.
Sponsored by Mom Central and SHOP.com.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Caring Bridge Site for My Mom

I set up a Caring Bridge site for my mom and will be posting detailed updates there when we know more.

For now though, I was able to spend a couple of hours with her this afternoon while my dad watched Charlotte. (Thanks Grumpy!)

She is doing well given the stress she is feeling at wondering how a little headache and some dizziness could turn into a trip to the ICU. It is all happening fast, yet in slow motion at the same time. I don't know how to explain that paradox, it just is.

Thank you to everyone who shared your prayers and thoughts with us. If you'd like, please visit her Caring Bridge site.

Brrr... Baby It's Cold Outside

"The weather outside is frightful.
Inside it's so delightful."
It has been a lot of fun recently to start dressing Charlotte in her warm weather clothes. Now, before you laugh, anything below 70 degrees is cold to this FL girl. So, we got to bust out the cute velour outfits as well as the hat and mittens. And I can't think of anything else in recent history that has made Charlotte happier.
It seems she must have at least 1 mitten on at all times. Let's just say they don't look as cute and pink now as they do in that picture above. She even tries to eat in them! I guess I need to bust out some Clorox 2. :)

Blood Transfusion Worked

They finally gave my mom 1 unit of blood last night and, while we don't know what it did to her numbers exactly, it definitely perked her up. My dad reports that she was feeling more like her old self.

One idea I had about this sudden onset of hemloytic anemia is that it might have been caused by an implant she had put in her foot a few weeks ago. But, they called the doctor who did the surgery and her implant is titanium, not synthetic. So, finding the solution won't be as easy as removing the implant.

We are waiting to hear what her schedule holds today and if she will still have a couple of GI procedures the doctors want to do. I think I will be allowed to visit her today as well. We'll see...

Thank you to everyone who responded that you are praying for her. I really appreciate it, and I know she will too when she gets back to her laptop.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Please Pray for my Mom

My mom is in the ICU tonight in order to receive a blood transfusion for hemolytic anemia. Basically, her body has been attacking its own red blood cells and she hasn't been able to produce new ones fast enough. We don't yet know which of the 200 types of hemolytic anemia she might have, but we do know the situation is bad enough to require maybe up to 4 units of packed red blood cells (which is a blood transfusion of just the red blood cells, for maximum efficiency in cases of anemia like hers).

I am not scared because I believe that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord. However, I know my mom, and dad, both feel overwhelmed with how fast everything has happened in the last 2 days and all of the doctors coming in and out of her room to tell them something else they need to test or check.

Right now, she is getting ready to get the blood. She was supposed to have it last night, but the local blood banks had a hard time finding the type of blood she has. It is the same type my brother and I have, but since one of the causes of hemolytic anemia is hereditary, we are not eligible to donate to her. It made the waiting to hear if my blood was needed hard. Less than 5% of the population has this type, A- with an RH- factor. And of course, they aren't all lined up at the Orlando Blood Banks this week waiting to donate. But, they found it. So, now she will get it.

There are still lots of tests they need to run, but as of right now, the low blood counts are the most serious problem she is facing and that must be stabilized before they can even think about doing anything else. The risk of stroke and heart attack are very present, which is one reason they put her in the ICU, which has a 2:1 patient to nurse ratio.

So.... please pray for her. Pray that the doctors give her the right blood and that her body accepts it and throws a party, giving her energy and her color back.

Once she has the 1st unit in, they will check her blood levels and see if she is stable. They are prepared to give her up to 4 units, which is about 1/2 of the amount of blood the average person has on any given day.

Clean Clothes Are Important

I can't tell you how many of my daughter's outfits have been relinquished to the play bin because of stains I couldn't use bleach on. I also have to keep a stack of "at home only" bibs since I am too embarrassed to take the clean, but stained, bibs out in public. Or to my mom's house! :)

I recently received a coupon for a free bottle of Clorox 2 to try out on these play clothes and bibs. And was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to work, even on set in stains. Not every stain came out, the blueberry ones are especially tough, but there was definitely an improvement. And some of the clothes seemed brighter too.

Clorox 2 just launched a new advanced formula that works better on tough stains and keeps clothes bright. I always thought bleach was for white clothes, so I am excited about the new formula. I am sure you each have your own reason to try it whether fighting grass stains, arts and crafts spills, mealtime messes, or all of the above! Like I did, just add it to every load with your detergent for cleaner and brighter clothes.

So, now that I have cleaner clothes and bibs, I am going to give away 4 coupons of my own to my lucky readers.

I will randomly draw 4 winners next Tuesday. There are three ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to three entries:
  1. Leave a comment telling me you want to be entered,
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed, and
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post.
That's it. 3 ways to win and 4 lucky winners. This giveaway will end at midnight on Monday, December 8. Read all contest rules here.

Don't miss any of my upcoming giveaways -
Subscribe to Family Musings by Email or Subscribe in a reader

Sponsored by MomCentral.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Easy-Peasy Dehydrated Apples

My mom recently visited Mercier Orchards in GA and brought me back 1/2 a bushel of apples (about 20 lbs). I thought I would get a chance to make apple butter and apple sauce with them, but there never seemed to be enough hours in the day to pull off a canning operation (mostly because it meant I had to go to the store to get some lids and rings).

So, I decided to dehydrate as many of these beautiful Maya apples as I could. It wasn't very labor intensive and the results were delicious.

I started out by reading several different people tell me how to do it in a dehydrator but since I didn't have one on hand, I needed to use my oven. All of the instructions I found said you had to do it at 140-150 degrees. And well, my oven doesn't go that low so... I present to you, Jennifer's Easy-Peasy Oven-dehydrated Apples:

First, wash your apples thoroughly. Then, slice them in half and scoop out the core of the apple. You can be fancy and use a corer too, but, again, I don't have one. So, I used a melon baller, and then eventually just got them out with my knife.

Then, if you are lucky enough to have a Pampered Chef Mandolin, slice your apples using the v-blade. (If you aren't lucky enough, I'll sell you one.) Otherwise, just slice your apples into about 1/4" slices.

Lay them out in a single layer on something. The online instructions all say you need cookie racks to help with the air flow. I don't have any that are oven safe, so I just spread my slices out on a cookie sheet, and the 2 pieces of a broiler pan. It worked just fine.

Put them in an oven heated to 170 degrees (or as close to that as possible) and set the timer for 60 minutes. If you have one, place a fan next to the over and prop the over door open with a dish towel or wooden spoon. This helps the air circulate around the apples and keeps them from getting soggy.

After 60 minutes, flip your apples and set the timer for another 60 minutes. Your apples may or may not be done, depending on the humidity where you live. Some of my batches were done, and some needed another 15-30 minutes. You will know the apples are done when you break one in half and no longer see beads of moisture. You can also bake them longer and enjoy apple chips too.

Be careful when you make these... even though it takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish, the apple slices will disappear in a flash!

For variety, you could sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and sugar, or apple pie spices. I, however, am a purist, and let the taste of delicious apples stand alone. Let me know if you decide to make some apples and how they turned out.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things I am Thankful For

I really want to write a super meaningful Thanksgiving Day post for all of you to read and get all teary eyed at... but even though I cry at Publix commercials, I just can't get all sappy tonight.

So, let's just say I am thankful for all of the good things in my life and leave it at that.

What are you thankful for? If you wrote a sappy list or shared a great Thanksgiving Day story, let me know in the comments so I can come and be inspired.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire. Hebrew 12.28-29

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Handouts Winners Announced

I had so much fun giving away all sorts of great things and reading the comments everyone left on my giveaway posts last week.

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the event with your friends and readers. For those of you who subscribed to receive extra entries, thanks too. I hope you will stick around for a few weeks and decide to stay!

Without further ado, here are the winners, chosen via the random integer generator at Random.org.

Three The Secret Mountain Books -
  • Ali #52, Timestamp: 2008-11-27 01:04:36 UTC
Norton PC Tune Up -
2 Packs Bella Sara Trading Cards -
  • Abby #7, Timestamp: 2008-11-27 01:06:11 UTC
Home is Calling Pilsbury Gift Pack -
Mystery Giveaway - Holiday Basket -
  • Amy #21, Timestamp: 2008-11-27 01:07:49 UTC
I'll be contacting the winners either via their blog or e-mail address. Please get back to me as soon as possible, I'll choose new winners if I don't hear from you by Sunday evening. My plan is to mail the prizes I have in my possession on Monday, December 1.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Baking

I've had so much fun the last few months baking and am glad that I could share my creations to you. Fortunately, no matter how they turn out, they will never show up on Cake Wrecks, I'm obviously an amateur (see above links if you think I'm kidding).

For a Thanksgiving playdate, I made turkey cupcakes with Dove chocolates and candy corn. It was really simple and required no real skill at all. Even if they aren't the most realistic looking cupcakes, I can proudly say that I thought this idea up all by myself while staring at my choices in the candy aisle.

Then, my sister-in-law, Michelle, wanted to take some corn cupcakes (from Hello, Cupcake) to school for her faculty party. I was more than happy to oblige and here are the results. They didn't turn out as good as the originals because I cut the jelly beans in half, thinking that would make them go further and we didn't have any black sugar to stand in for pepper. But I think they still look like corn, don't you. The piece of Starburst butter on the top seals the deal for me.
I've decided my philosophy on cake (up cupcake) decorating is that I don't need to be the best, just better than the people around me. :)

If you want to see some really cool cakes... check out my friend Sherry's CakeLady website. She made the cake for my 13th birthday party! (I'll have to dig up a picture to scan for you!)