Fresh Start

The first half of your homeschooling season is now over. How does your report card look? Did you accomplish your goals? Did you even write down any goals? Did your kids learn less than you had hoped? Did your kids learn more than you ever realized they would? Did you keep good records? Did you engage your kids in lively lessons to hold their attention? Did you bury your head in lesson plans every night and stay up late grading papers? Did you include fun learning field trips into your lesson plans? Were your lessons boring and bland or riveting and contagious? Did you skip learning too many days in a row and then have problems getting your kids back into a school routine? Did you push your kids too hard, or were you too lax? No matter what happened last semester, you have a brand new opportunity to start fresh this semester. You can celebrate your past accomplishments and set even higher goals. You can atone for your mistakes and set off on a new homeschooling journey full of promise. Mistakes are simply great learning opportunities. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Start this new semester off by making a written list of your goals. Actually writing your goals down will help go farther in accomplishing them. Think about what your kids did and didn’t master last semester. Think about their learning styles and set new goals to meet those needs. Ask your kids for input about what they would like to learn, places they would like to visit, and activities they enjoy most. Examine your teaching style to see if it matches your kids learning styles. Make adjustments as needed. Take an honest look at your homeschool curriculum. Does it meet the needs of your children? If yes, great, see where you can supplement extra bonus lessons. If no, begin researching new homeschool curriculums. Read homeschool curriculum reviews, join Yahoo groups that discuss and review curriculum choices you are interested in, and talk to other homeschooling families. Dare to make a change. Contact potential companies and ask for samples or a trail membership so you can test drive their product.

Next, take a look at your learning environment. Do your kids benefit from a traditional style learning space, or are they more productive working at the kitchen table, on the couch, or outside? Don’t be afraid to be nontraditional. Even if your children are content with the way you school now, play around with new ideas. You will never know if a simple change can make a huge difference unless you experiment. Sometimes, “leave good enough alone” is not the best answer.

Now, take a close look at your daily schedule. Do you begin lessons too early in the morning, or perhaps too late? Do you try to cram in too many lessons in a row without taking a break? Do you school too many hours a day so that the kids get cranky and you are too tired to cook dinner? Do you forget to leave time for the unexpected learning opportunities that come your way? Remember, YOU are in charge and you have the freedom to teach your child they way you see best. Don’t try to be like the brick and mortar school; dare to be better! You know your kids best, you love your kids the most, and you want only the very best for them. They are not a ticket to more state funding. Learn to be flexible.

Finally, tell your kids that the best is yet to come. Get them excited about this coming semester. Share your enthusiasm with them, after it’s contagious. A fresh start just might be what the doctor ordered.…

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Why would you need an air humidifier in your house?

During the long and cold winter months and also during the summer days when you put the air conditioning on, you may feel the air in the house dry. Just as humid air can be bad for your health, the dry air may have the same unwanted effects. In this context, it is important to keep the humidity of the house at the right level which is suited for you.

Dry air can be easily solved with a humidifier. These are devices that make water vapors to maintain the humidity on a room. When they are used correctly, they can improve the air in the interior of the house.

What is an air humidifier?

When the air is too humid, it can help the forming of mold, resulting into health problems and damages for your house. When the air is too dry, the ideal environment for respiratory problems such as allergies, asthma or skin problems is created. A humidifier can be successfully used during the winter in areas with warm weather, where the heating systems are used constantly in houses. Dry air can affect not only people, but also the floor if it is made of wood, and the wooden frames of windows.

Types of humidifiers

Mainly, humidifiers classify in two categories

  • Humidifier that forces air through water pulverizing it in the room
  • The atomizer type, which ‘breaks’ water into particles to create a fog

Humidifiers are recommended for people that live in areas where houses must be heated for a long period of the year, and for people living in areas with a dry climate. These devices can help people suffering from throat pains, headaches and coughs. Generally, a humid house is more comfortable as long as humidity is kept in optimal levels.

Things to consider

All the humidifiers need cleaning. Otherwise, they will be contaminated with mold and become dangerous in the long term. Make sure to follow the instructions of the manufacturer to clean it and don’t use it unless you are sure it is maintained properly.

Ideal humidity

Ideal humidity level in a house must be between 30%-55%. It is why you might want to buy a humidifier which can measure this level, so you can adjust it to the one required by your family.

This level is different in office buildings, where the spaces are wider and it has to be adjusted for tens of hundreds of people’s needs. It is why a home humidifier is smaller and cheaper, but you have to check the maximum surface it can cover.

If you want to buy a humidifier for a newborn, make sure to check with his or hers doctor before buying it. Only this way, you can be sure of the ideal humidity required in the room of your new child, so you could buy the right humidifier. In case your child has health problems are requires an exact level, there are devices with adjustable level of humidity and even with a timer that could set it on and off at different times of the day or night.…

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Educational Challenge Helps 3 Woburn Schools Raise $40K

How do you calculate ‘success’? Well the students of three Woburn, Massachusetts schools calculate it 30 different ways!

On April 13th , the Hurld Elementary School PTO held a PTO Ideas’ Educational Math Challenge fundraiser that was an enormous success.

Students collected pledges for each correct answer on a 30-question math test. A concept similar to a walk-a-thon; but instead of walking, the kids are learning to earn money for their school.

Over a 7-day period, parent volunteers organized fun, educational, math-related games and challenges to motivate the students and get them ready for the final challenge test this past Wednesday.

The PTO’s goal was around six to seven thousand in order to purchase computer equipment for the school. The students far exceeded that goal and raised over $11,000.

Similarly, in 2008 the Wyman School ran the PTO Ideas’ Educational Challenge as a Spelling Challenge and this 200-student school raised over $13,000. The Linscott-Rumford , also in Woburn, joined in to run the Challenge fundraisers two years in a row resulting in profits of $8,500 and $7,200.

The fundraiser comes from Vicki Blaze of PTO Ideas (www.ptoideas.com), a web-based company in Massachusetts. Blaze started the company in October 2006 and has written the Budget BashesTM series of fundraising ebooks, inlcuding the Educational Challenge and the $5ForKids Campaign.

Word has been spreading across town and across the country about these fundraising books that are helping schools increase their fundraising campaigns by thousands of dollars. Together Blaze’s ebooks have helped these 3 schools alone raise over $40,000.…

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The ‘Race to the Top’ Education Plan

Last month President Obama presented the country’s “Race to the Top” plan to state Governors. It’s an Educational Reform incentive program geared toward getting them jazzed about beefing up their states’ school systems.

In his speech, Obama described students in early learning programs up until senior year of high school, as the potential employees of tomorrow. He emphasized that our schools must churn out kids that are ready to succeed in college, are creative, possess problem solving skills and, who also possess an entrepreneurial spirit. This, he explained is the only way that they’re going to compete for jobs in this global economy.

4 billion dollars of the Recovery Act is aimed at reforming and refining US Education. Rather than handing out the funds, governors will compete for a share. States that turn around schools, employ great teachers, have high performing students will get a piece of the pie.

The way Obama put it, ‘States that outperform the rest, will win and America’s children will be better for it.’ Massachusetts is the only state mentioned as one of the current winners He says it’s not about more tests; it’s about finally getting testing right. Although he talked a lot about factors failure – poverty and racial difference, there was only one off-the-cuff mention about special ed.

Starting this September, Arne Duncan (Education Secretary), Al Sharpton, and Newt Gingrich are touring the country to promote the plan.

See the video on youtube.com…

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Five Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Downtown Seattle

If you’re planning to visit Seattle with the kids, you won’t be disappointed as there are numerous things that are sure to keep the entire family entertained no matter what time of year you arrive.

Pike Place Market 

This market is not only one of the most popular attractions in the city; it’s the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the U.S., founded over 100 years ago in 1907. It’s also one of the most lively markets, with not only the fresh produce, seafood and flowers you might expect, but a wide range of vendors that sell specialty foods, handcrafted and vintage goods, rare comics and collectibles, and all types of entertainment.

It’s always fun to watch the fishmongers toss their fresh catch of the day, but you’ll find many performers throughout the market including talented musicians (along with the not-so-talented), magicians, balloon-makers, and even a colorful and comedic costumed gorilla playing buckets rather skillfully.

The Great Wheel

One of Seattle’s newest attractions can be found by taking the steep steps down to the waterfront. The Seattle Great Wheel is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the country and offers amazing views of the Puget Sound as well as the Olympic Mountains on the other side. If you happen to arrive on a clear day, towering Mount Rainier may even make an appearance.

Seattle Aquarium

Also along the waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium is home to playful sea otters, adorable harbor seals, fur seals, and the always fascinating Giant Pacific Octopus. Kids will love the chance to get their hands wait and even touch some of the creatures that live in the tide pools along the state’s coastline as well as Puget Sound’s inland sea.

Get out on the water

Getting out on the water is a must while you’re here. A variety of cruises are available right from the Seattle waterfront, including sight-seeing tours of the harbor a well as sunset sails to take in breathtaking views of the city skyline. If you’re on a tight budget, just hopping on the Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island is a great way to get some of the same views and maybe even spot a dolphin or whale along the way.

Pacific Science Center 

Just below Seattle’s famed landmark, the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center provides an opportunity to journey back to the days of the dinosaurs or stroll through lush gardens and brilliantly blooming flowers at the Tropical Butterfly House to watch the colorful insects fly and feed. You can even learn about the universe we live in and delve into unsolved mysteries at the Planetarium.…

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Why Hollywood Should Remake “West Side Story”

We’ve all seen the original West Side Story, filmed in 1961,starring Natalie Wood as a not-quite-convincing Latina Maria. One glance at the oldie tells why this movie is begging for a remake. It is outdated and corny. The street battles between the Jets and the Sharks, the white kids against the Puerto Ricans, are no longer relevant to our time. But the prejudice and discrimination are all-too-current topics.The iconic songs with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim have become American classics. And the Romeo and Juliet-type love story will never go out of style.

 

My suggestion for a redo is to make the story current by spotlighting ethnic tension between young white Americans and Mexican immigrants. Maria could be played by Demi Lovato, who in actuality is a dark beauty of mixed Mexican, Italian and Irish descent. Lovato is an experienced singer-actress who might give the role a needed shot of relevancy to a new audience.

Around the World in Eighty Days is another oldie, but goodie. In the original 1955 film David Niven plays the suave Englishman who bets the fellows at his London club that he can circumnavigate the world in 80 days. He also happens to be on the lam for a bank robbery and is being pursued in his around-the-world-travels. This is a clever story that should be remade in 3-D. Those breathtaking balloon trips would be even more breathtaking to 3-D viewers. And the scenery! Paris in 3-D? A trip over the Eiffel Tower? Charging elephants in 3-D? See what I mean? Perfect. This remake should be handled by none-other than Disney.

Another movie begging for a redo is Phantom of the Opera. The blockbuster Broadway musical which continues to set new records for attendance, was made into a so-so movie in 2004. Actually the film verson was a bit of a snooze.

The creepy antics of the phantom and that crashing chandelier are just calling out for 3-D treatment! Director Tim Burton could give this update the right amount of creepiness it demands. The beautiful heroine Christine needs an updating by a popular young star that would give the tale some freshness. My vote for this role is Taylor Swift. She’s young and popular. She’s beautiful and she can sing. Taylor Swift might give the role credibility as the talented beauty who drives a bedeviled creature to obsession. How’s that for a great box-office draw?…

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Five Ways Hollywood Wives Deal with Cheating Husbands

Tabloids just wouldn’t be tabloids if they didn’t focus on the sloppy love lives of the celebrities therein. With the stinky divorces of both Cynthia Rodriguez and Christie Brinkley, dirty laundry is being aired; and all sorts of surprises are coming out of the woodwork where both cases are concerned. The notion of the scorned Hollywood wife is quite a long-standing one. Where in the past these affairs were kept somewhat hush-hush, today’s media dives head first into all the messy details, sometimes embellishing them as the stories unfold. While infidelity is painful for anyone on the receiving end, it can be particularly excruciating when the entire world decides to shine light upon the seedier aspects of the situation. But there are two things that most scorned Hollywood wives don’t have in common with the rest of the population: fame and fortune. And with those two things comes a whole new multitude of ways of dealing with philandering husbands. Here are a few…

 

Botox

When the flower of romance begins to wilt, some Hollywood husbands go searching for some other “flower” to pollenate. That being said, the wives are often left wondering how they compare to their husbands’ new paramours. Discovering that Mr. Hollywood Actor #944’s attentions have turned to the nanny (or some other trollop) will send a Hollywood housewife straight to the local drive-thru Botox clinic. Yes, getting Botox is now just about as simple as ordering a value meal at McDonald’s, which is great for women who need an instant pick-me-up. Ironically, having a perpetually surprised expression is about as good for the soul as a new pair of silicone “chest bumpers.” And as the saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough (skin) gets Botox.

The “Gardener”

Revenge is always sweeter when it’s a private (or sometimes not so private) one. Wives hoping to seek vengeance for their philandering husbands’ ways will sometimes do so with the household gardener. But you may certainly insert any member of Hollywood’s posh staff of personnel in this position (no pun intended.) The poolboy, personal trainer, or even the dog groomer will do just fine. For many celebrity wives, getting even is the best personal justice of all—just as long as said “serviceman” has bulging biceps and an aversion to the paparazzi.

Robertson Boulevard

If you are a female Hollywood celebrity who wants to be seen, then all it requires is a quick jaunt to Robertson Boulevard. For those of you who have no clue what significance this street has, it can be explained in one word: shopping. The boutiques and stores (especially celebrity mill, Kitson) lining this infamous street are literally crawling with celebs and paparazzi all clamoring for equal attention. But where scorned wives are concerned, the retail therapy involved on this street is major. The more dalliances the hubbies engage in, the deeper the shopping excursions. Capitalism at its finest? Or the law of supply and demand? Tthe mistress supplies hubby’s entertainment, and wife demands his credit card.

“Medicine”

Sometimes plunking down loads of cash for smooth foreheads and Gucci bags just isn’t sufficient to heal the woes caused by Hollywood infidelity. This is when self-medication comes into play. In the City of Angels, shots of Botox are followed up with Xanax, Percoset, Valium, Zoloft, or any other drugs advertised in between the photo spreads in Cosmopolitan magazine. Unfortunately, some women need a little extra boost for their moody blues. Cheating husbands have their vices too (obviously.) But there is nothing more spectacular than a wigged-out, well-dressed Hollywood wife who has Vodka for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and Valium for dinner.

Divorce

Cynthia Rodriguez, Christie Brinkley, and a host of other wives have proven that one of the most popular remedies for dealing with philandering husbands is divorce. These kinds of divorces are often nothing more than huge financial agreements, with the kids sometimes being treated like pieces of property instead of people. It isn’t always the best option, nor the friendliest. In fact, Hollywood romances often have more attention drawn to them when the marriages end. Still, there is no other foolproof method for getting a husband to stop cheating …

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Six Christian-Themed Writing Projects for Kids

If you’re looking to add a creative project to your Sunday school or homeschooling lessons, or want to give the kids something faith-related and fun to do on a rainy afternoon, consider a Christian-themed creative writing project. Simply put, these are writing projects which allow kids a chance to express their ideas and feelings about their faith. Writing projects can ask kids to explain bible stories, apply their faith to certain situations, or express how they feel about the Lord. At the same time, writing projects help kids hone important skills which they will need in school.

To help make these writing projects more fun and special, give your kids colored pens or markers and special stationary or notebooks to use as they write. Keeping these special writing items in sync with the Christian theme of the projects (think Veggie Tales) can help kids get into the spirit and realize that writing about church, the bible, or lessons from Jesus can be a fun and joy-filled experience, not just a boring lesson or drill.

Here are some Christian-themed writing project prompts you may want to use to get your kids started.

Writing Project #1: Being Like Jesus 
Ask your child to consider which trait of Jesus he or she wishes she could have. Why would they want that trait? What would they do if they had it? Some kids may say they wish they could be kinder and more loving and forgiving while others may focus on how Jesus had the power to heal people and perform miracles that helped people. This is a good project for helping kids to think about all the different aspects of Jesus and see ways they can try to be more like Him in everyday life.

Writing Project #2: Jesus At School 
Ask your child to write about a situation they might see at school (or another setting where they’re with their peers) where something unChristian is happening – maybe a kid is picking on another kid, or a fight is about to break out, or someone is considering cheating. After they describe the situation, ask your child to put Jesus in the mix to resolve it. This project encourages kids to consider “What would Jesus do” in the context of a situation they would really encounter. Older kids can be encouraged to use bible verse in their writing, or to write the story as a play with different characters speaking dialogue.

Writing Project #3: A Question For God 
Part of being a Christian is learning to talk to God. Sometimes, both kids and adults have questions they’d like God to answer. Ask your child to write a letter to God asking him something they wonder about. Whether it’s serious, like why a bad thing happens to a good person, or silly, like why He created something like the duck-billed platypus, your child’s question can reveal a lot about what’s on his or her mind and may encourage him or her to be comfortable asking the Lord for help in understanding things which seem confusing. An alternative to writing a letter would be to have a child pretend he or she is walking or sharing a meal with Jesus and posing the question to Him face to face. Encourage your kids to not try to answer the question in their writing, but rather encourage them to be open to getting an answer from God in His own way and time.

Writing Project #4: A Prayer 
There are as many ways to pray as there are people. Writing a prayer down instead of speaking it out loud can be a very powerful way to speak to God. Ask your child, young or old, to write a prayer from the heart. It could be a prayer for a special intention, a grace for a family dinner, or something else your child would like to address. Encourage them to think of all sorts of prayers in the bible and in church including psalms, song lyrics, formal prayers, rhyme, and informal, conversational prayers, and then use any style they like. They may want to begin with thinking about what they want to pray about and then coming up …

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Fun Things to Do with Your Kids in Boston

Living only 2 hours from Boston I can honestly say that there is no other city so close to central NH that offers so much for kids and their families. You could stay in Boston for years and never see it all. I have gone there once or twice a year for my entire 36 years of life and I still haven’t seen everything as of yet. As a matter of fact, today, I was searching the web for open times and pricing for this article when I came upon an interesting website, http://www.gobostoncard.com/ . This website not only tells you all about the 70 or so partner locations around Boston that are perfect for children but it also offers you a discount card that will get you into those locations!! These cards start at only $54.99 for adults and $34.99 for kids 12 & under. A bargain since you can use it at any of their partner sites for 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7 day increments. Since almost all of my top choices for children are found at their site I would recommend starting there first when planning your getaway. Now for my top choices for children in no particular order.

Liberty Fleet Tall Ship Adventures Where else can your kids actually sail a tall ship? I didn’t think you could answer that one and that is why I included this fun cruise on my list. I haven’t tried this yet but as an avid boater I can tell you I will be on the next boat out!! They allow adults and kids alike to set sails, take the wheel and throw tea into the harbor. They are located at 67 Long Wharf, Boston. For more information call 617-742-0333 or go to www.libertyfleet.com .

New England Aquarium No introduction required on this fun classic. If you live in or near Boston you have probably been here a million times or more. I know I have!! Unlike when I was a child, they now have Imax!! I truly enjoyed my Imax trip under the ocean on my last visit. However, my daughter thought it was boring so I will leave the Imax portion of this trip to your discretion. No one disagreed on the fun we had watching the various fish and playing with the assortment of hands on activities. They are located at Central Wharf, Boston. For more information call 617-973-5200 or go to www.newenglandaquarium.org .

The Mary Baker Eddy Library/Mapparium This fun little museum is a new find for me but it sounds like a must see. According to Go Card you can walk across a bridge that spans the interior of a three story stained glass world globe!! So why not bring your kids to the center of the earth while teaching them a thing or two about world geography!! They are located at 200 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. For more information call 617-450-7000 or go to www.marybakereddylibrary.org

Franklin Park Zoo This one is yet another classic. Bring your picnic lunch and make a day of watching all the exotic animals, 160 different species to be exact. Best yet, if you are from the city, you can get a taste of life on the farm at the petting zoo. They are located at One Franklin Park Road, Boston. For more information call 617-541-LION (617-541-5466) or go to www.zoonewengland.org

New England Sports Museum Some people find this exciting but I find it a huge bore. If you are a big sports fan like my husband and kids then you wont want to miss this one. They are located at TD Banknorth Garden, Causeway St, Boston and their admission desk is located at the Box Office. They can be reached by phone at 617-624-1235 or on the web at www.sportsmuseum.org .

Fenway Park My kids and husband love this one so here it is for all of you Red Sox fans. According to the Go Card website you can get a tour of Fenway Park by visiting 4 Yawkey Way, Boston or by calling 617-226-6666. They also have a website of www.redsox.com/tours.

Tomb by 5 WITS My daughter and I read about this fun locations interactive special effects and …

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