Saturday, May 29, 2010

phone dump

I really need to take the pictures off my Blackberry more often…

Snapped at the post office, because it looks so much like the Bud dog, right down to the tippy head.


This photo was taken at Sears. This is the model we ended up buying. Dear High Efficiency Washer, where have you been all my life?


This is the boy having fun (yes, really) on the ropes course at Adventure Base 100, the Boy Scouts’ traveling 100th Anniversary exhibit.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

lobster network

Lobster Network is free and it’s run by a homeschooling family. That should be enough to get your interest but if not, how about this? It is a virtual (web-based) file cabinet/storage closet/pantry/garage for well, pretty much anything. While the goal is to make it a way to reach out to your cyber neighbors to lend and borrow whatever you can think of (Homeschool books? Anyone?) it is also useful for tracking your own widgets, higgymafloppers and whozits. I am hoping to get my act together enough to use it as my virtual card catalog for the ridiculous number of books we have around here. It can be used to catalogue your assets (for your homeowner’s insurance), to manage the trades of outgrown swim team gear, taps shoes and scout uniforms for your group, or … anything.

Why is it called Lobster Network?



You can join or set up communities with whom you can share stuff or you can keep this all to yourself. You control the flow of information. Watch a video tutorial for details. You can also buy and sell, using the site as a virtual marketplace.

My favorite part about Lobster Network is that it is family-friendly. While you can list pretty much anything on the site, you do have to agree to a code of conduct that prohibits not only the usual prohibited things (items that are illegal or stolen) but also items that are objectionable or for mature audiences. Super cool.


We were asked to review the site as part of the TOS Crew. Membership is free and I was not compensated. My opinions are my own.

cerebellum a.p. test prep

GH4000-2T.jpg image by homeschoolcrew

A timely product for us, for sure -- as part of the TOS Crew we were asked to review Cerebellum Corporation’s Light Speed Video Learning product for Advanced Placement test prep. We were sent the History of the U.S. It just so happens that my eldest is taking the AP U.S. History test this week. And while I can’t tell you if this really helped her test score, I can tell you that if you love the Standard Deviants, you will love this. It is fast (very fast) and funny. It is by no means a substitute for regular, year-long AP prep or a study guide book, but it is a great supplement and is perfect for shaking things up when you just can’t look at the Barron’s book for ONE MORE MINUTE.

While the video portion of the DVD is much like typical Standard Deviants fare, the DVD also includes a digital workbook with printable quizzes and more. If you have a visual learner at your house, I just can’t say enough about what a help this is. You can watch video samples online to see what I mean.

AP prep DVDs are also offered for Chemistry (shudder), U.S. Government and English Language. The list price for each is $14.98, but as of this writing, they are on sale for $11.24 each --- and if it helps at toward raising that AP score, it is well worth the cost and far cheaper than three hours of college credit.


We were given a copy of the DVD for review purposes. My opinions are my own.

andrea carter and the trouble with treasure

9780825433528.jpg image by homeschoolcrew

Again, another resource I’d never heard of… and this one is wonderful. As part of the TOS Crew, we were asked to review Andrea Carter and the Trouble with Treasure by Susan K. Marlow. The book is part of the Circle C Adventures series. While the book and the series center around a young girl named Andi Carter, don’t write this off as a series for girls only. In Trouble with Treasure there is enough peril and suspense to keep both genders entertained.

Marlow does a wonderful job of weaving in her own Christian values without being heavy-handed at all. Andi prays and draws strength from a verse she remembers, but it is a natural part of her life (Hey! Like real life!) and never feels forced.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a good bit of danger and intrigue in this book, though nothing at all inappropriate or too suspenseful for the target audience of ages 9 – 14. To draw on the book’s themes to enhance your homeschool, you can download a free study guide that includes discussion questions, vocabulary and interesting information about rattlesnakes, gold mining and more – which may are may not be included in the book. Ahem. (OK, they are, but don’t spoil it for your kids.)

If you are a lapbooker, A Journey Through Learning has lapbooks available for purchase that correspond with Circle C Adventures.

Autographed books can be ordered directly through Marlow’s site for $8 each, plus $2 shipping, or for $7.99 from Kregel Publications. You can also download a free preview of the book.


We were given a copy of the book for review purposes. My opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a professional first

Yes, this is probably the first and last time I have a story out about someone during the same time they appear in Maxim. Definitely a first, but I have to say, Danica was a delightful interview – bright, passionate about math education and very grounded despite her youth as a child star. She can out-math anybody, I’m convinced.

My story (not Maxim’s) is also running in Palmetto Parent.


More May stories:

Adventures in South Carolina (nearby vacation spots)

My life as a tree-hugger

Eating Disorders and adolescents

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

disney’s beach club resort


People of Earth, I am editing to add that there is a super room-only discount available right now. I found out about it over at (Look under Discussions, then Accommodations. There is a sticky at the top.) My husband priced out several hotels with this rate and found an unheard of deal at Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Edited once again to add that no, we are not actually going to AKL, but there is a super deal. Carry on….

Here’s the promised tour, much belated, PW-style. The Beach Club is considered a deluxe resort (as opposed to value and moderate resorts). This was my first time at BC. It was freakishly cold for Florida (or ANYWHERE) when I went in February, so I didn’t get to experience some of the things that make this resort a favorite for many, like the sandy bottomed pool or long walks on the beach.

I have stayed at several deluxe WDW resorts (Polynesian is by far my favorite) and I highly recommend choosing one if it’s in the budget. If the choice is stay somewhere else or don’t go, then please stay somewhere else. (My vote for a moderate resort is Port Orleans Riverside.)

Pros for the Beach Club: sizable rooms, two queen beds and a day bed, in-room fridge and  “getting ready” room which is critical if there are multiple people trying to get to the Magic Kingdom at once. This resort has lovely grounds and pools and that awesome beach, which I imagine would be great when the temperature is above 45 degrees. The biggest feature for BC for me is location, location, location. (See below.) I found the hotel to be super clean and quiet, which are my biggest requirements for any hotel. Mousekeeping was excellent and the decor was really light and happy and beach-like, which is appropriate. (In stark contrast to the Poly, which is super dark, and the only bad thing I can say about that hotel.)



See, I told you this was PW-style. Note the long-sleeved sweater. In Florida. I also wore long underwear and wool socks.




What’s wrong with this picture? (Hint: I am thinking that lifeguard would sink like a stone in all that gear.)


Just beyond the shivering sea gulls and the lake, that’s the Boardwalk. I walked (sprinted) over there early the next morning for a cinnamon roll. The Boardwalk is easily accessible by a path that runs just left of the picture below – it leads to food (Cat Cora’s new restaurant, among others), entertainment and more. Said path also leads to the World Showcase entrance to Epcot. Yes, people, you can walk to Epcot. One caveat: I was told that you can only enter Epcot at that location after World Showcase is open, which is typically 11 a.m. on days that Future World (main entrance) opens at 9 a.m. Therefore, I would only use this for afternoon visits or treks from the park to the hotel. This is still a major plus.


You can also catch a ferry to Disney’s Studios here. I did not do this, but having taken the ferry ride in the past I would guess the travel time is equivalent to a bus ride. But more fun.

(That’s the Dolphin hotel below.)



There is also a lovely solarium (below) that I only discovered as I was hustling out to catch a plane.


Cons: I did not try the resort’s table service restaurants, but I found the quick service locations to be lacking. And by lacking, I mean I had the worst food I have ever consumed on Disney property. If I had it to do over again, I would jaunt over to the Boardwalk for something better, like cinnamon rolls at every meal. By contrast – and I know others will disagree – quick service at the Polynesian is terrific and I found the same to be true at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Quick service at Grand Floridian (I haven’t stayed there) and Contemporary are adequate, but still above the lunch and breakfast I had at Beach Club. YMMV. Keep in mind that I generally find the quality and selection of food on WDW property to be at a far higher standard that typical vacation fare. As as vegetarian, I never go hungry or even sacrifice (except on the rare occasion that I end up with a Mickey mac and cheese kid’s meal). And to be fair, I did not try the “real” restaurants at the hotel.

One more con, sorta: I was far (really far) from anything, including an elevator, during my stay. I should have looked at the resort map at check-in and requested something more convenient.

It was fun to experience the Beach Club and I would definitely try it again in warmer weather.

Monday, May 10, 2010

have you da wing?

What my children watched yesterday:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

happy mother’s day

Here’s a recent look at my progeny. One of them was about to leave for the prom.


And it occurred to me that I never posted a photo from the big end-of-the-year gala put on by the poor unsocialized homeschoolers in our co-op. (Sorry for the weird crop. I only post my own kiddos here.)


To this day, I regret not buying the life-sized, three-dimensional models of Jake and Elwood Blues our neighbors sold at a yard sale. What were we thinking?