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TOS Crew Review: The Story of Swan Lake from Maestro Classics

Written on 01/12/2012   By   in Uncategorized

I was super-duper excited to have a chance to review The Story of Swan Lake from Maestro Classics with my oldest daughter (8).  Like many homeschooling moms I struggle to get music appreciation done, and since Swan Lake is pretty cannonical fare – particularly when it comes to ballets (and how many little girls can resist a ballerina?) I was excited to get started!

The Story of Swan Lake includes the main themes from the ballet along with narration that simply retells the story by Stephen Simon, conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (all the music is performed by them as well – really top notch stuff!)  There are also bonus tracks including a shred guitar rendition of the main Swan Lake song, a sing-along song that serves as a mnemonic to help children remember the main plot of the ballet set to the main theme, and an ‘empty’ sing-along song so your child can do their own performance (and oh boy, did mine ever!)

The CD also comes with a very well-designed booklet filled with a pictogram type overview of the plot of Swan Lake, a connect the dots, word puzzles, lyrics to the sing-along, biographies of the contributors and a lot more.  I’m not sure where ours is – my daughter made off with it and enthusiastically filled in every spot she could find to do an activity (it is consumable by the way).

The whole experience was incredible…except for one thing.  This CD uses the revised ending of Swan know…the one where the prince and the swan maiden both die in the end?  Umm..recommended for ages 6-12, but if you have a sensitive little girl you MIGHT want to save this one for LATER.  Interestingly, Tchaikovsky’s original ending was a happy one where the lovers survived and conquered the evil magician.  Just saying.

With that being said, I am DEFINITELY interested in buying some of their downloads with less traumatic endings because they make music appreciation so easy.  Despite being disturbed by the ballet’s end she still had to memorize the sing-along to perform for her grandparents when they came to visit – so cute :).

All of Maestro Classic’s music appreciation titles are available on CD for $16.98 or as MP3 downloads for $9.98 – you can find them all here and listen to free samples online too!  They even have free cross-curricular lesson plans you can use to take the earning even further!

If you’d like to read more reviews of The Story of Swan Lake from real homeschooling moms, visit the TOS Crew post here and dig in!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this CD for the purposes of this review.  All thoughts are genuine, and my own.

I Hope You Don’t Need Car Title Loans In Miami

Written on 11/06/2011   By   in Uncategorized

In tough economic times families sometimes make hard decisions concerning their assets.  Most of us have heard of families who have taken out second and third mortgages on their homes, but what I didn’t know it that it’s also possible to take out loans against the value of your vehicle, like these car title loans in Miami.

Now, I’ve never been able to visit Miami, but on days like today, when the mercury is really starting to dip (I think it went down to -18C last night), Miami and the beaches start to sound pretty nice!

I suppose, like everywhere else though, there are many struggling financially in Miami, even to the point of taking out car title loans like the ones I mentioned earlier.  I think that there are many steps that can be taken before resolving to take loans against already owned assets however.

Before considering taking out an asset based loan I strongly recommend you consider cutting spending drastically.  Look for unnecessary ongoing expenses in your pile of monthly bills.  Do you really need a cell phone?  How about cable television?  How about eating out on a regular basis?  Do you smoke or drink (that can suck your money down the drain very quickly). Some of these costs can easily be cut because they aren’t vital necessities, and will save you the interest you would incur on a car title loan.

Obviously, not only drastic spending cuts will remove the need to take an asset based loan, but I do strongly recommend you think the situation over carefully before doing so – it certainly isn’t something to go into casually, on a whim, or for superficial purchases.   Think it over carefully and examine all of your options before going ahead.  Above all – pray for guidance, your Maker knows your needs.



Finding Affordable Wisconsin Banquet Halls Guest Blog by: Derek L.

Written on 08/10/2011   By   in Uncategorized

So, you’re in the Land of Dairy, and you’re planning a big event. You need a Wisconsin banquet hall, but you’re on a budget. In this economy, who isn’t? Whether you’re planning a wedding, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, an anniversary party, a family reunion, a corporate event or some other gathering, you can find an affordable Wisconsin banquet hall that will fit your needs. Here are a couple simple tips to make your search for a budget-friendly banquet hall easy.

1. Use the Internet

In case you’re still mired in the mid-20th Century and using the Yellow Pages, let your fingers do the walking over your keyboard instead. Type “affordable Wisconsin banquet halls,” into any search engine, and you will get numerous hits. Go through them one by one until you find the banquet hall that fits your needs.

2. Know What You Want

Once you have found banquet hall options; find the right one for your needs. In order to do that, however, you must know what you need. That means you must consider a number of questions:

How many people are coming?

Will you need a caterer?

Will you be serving alcohol? If so, cash bar or open bar?

Do you need a band, or did you already have music in mind?

If you’re throwing a wedding, do you need a wedding planner?

Once you know what you want, finding the right facility is easy.

Book Review: Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik

Written on 11/01/2010   By   in Uncategorized

Building upon the story begun in Vanish, Tom Pawlik surprised me by coming up with much more to write set in the otherworldly setting he so eerily created there.  Vanish worked well as a stand-alone novel, and I wasn’t sure what else could be added to the work that he completed there, but Valley of the Shadow proved to be even better written and more compelling than the original.Characters from the original novel (reading it first is recommended) meet again in the land ‘in-between’ spaces to struggle for the soul of one who is trapped between eternal destinies.  Physical danger in the land of the living is juxtaposed against a stunning fight in the spiritual.

The pace is very fast, and Pawlik somehow avoids the clumsiness of the prose that Vanish opened with; it’s straight into the action, straight into the fray.  If you liked the premise but were a bit turned-off by the writing (as I was), you should find Valley of the Shadow far more readable, and therefore, more enjoyable!