Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year 2016 and Rare Disease Day Too....

Today is February 29, which makes this year a LEAP YEAR,

BUT

Today is also Rare Disease Awareness Day!!


Every four years we celebrate a Leap Year. Interested in some Leap Year facts? Enjoy your extra day!



What makes a disease rare? A disease or disorder is considered rare in the United States if fewer than 200,000 individuals at any given time have a particular disease or disorder. Here is more information on Rare Diseases. Our family is affected by many health issues but I would like to bring awareness to one particular disorder and that is, FPIES




Sunday, February 28, 2016

Le Mozart Noir, The Untold Story

The Dallas Bach Society
and
Contemporary Ballet Dallas

Le Mozart Noir, The Untold Tale


The following Historical Background excerpt was included in the above program: 

"Joseph Bologne, known as the Chevalier de St. Georges, was born in 1745, the son of a French planter in the West Indies and an African servant. Taken to Paris at age seven by his father to be educated, he became an excellent violinist and a swordsman of the highest caliber, and was noted personality in Paris for a long time. Having been a star student starting at age thirteen at the Academie royale polytechnique des armes et de l'equitation, he defeated at the age of seventeen the head of a rival academy, thus making his reputation. On the other hand, we know noting precise about his musical education, although it is clear he must have studied the violin assiduously. In 1764, the composer Antonio Lolli composed two violin concertos for him, and in 1766 the renowned Francois-Joseph Gossec dedicated a set of six Trios to him, so clearly his talents were developed early and blessed alongside his military prowess. 

When his father returned to Guadaloupe in 1764 after the Seven Years War, he left Joseph and his mother well set up in Paris with a large annuity. When he graduated the Academie royale in 1766 he was made a Gendarme du row and a Chevalier, took his father's Saint-Georges (actually the name of one of his plantations settled on him when he was made a Gentleman of the King's Chamber in 1757), and thenceforth was known as the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. 

In 1769 he joined Gossec's newly-formed orchestra Le concert des amateurs, and by 1771 was the concertmaster. The following year he performed his first two concertos, which Gossec conducting, to great applause. In the following eight years, he composed three sets of six string quartets (the first such composed in France), fortune violin concertos, two symphonies, eight Symphonies concertantes, followed by six operas comiques, a truly prodigious amount of music considering the extent of his other activities. In 1773 Gossec took over the troubled Concert spirituel, and named the Chevalier as his successor at the Amateurs. In less than two years under his direction, this orchestra became the most disciplined group in Paris since Lully's time, with a reputation all over Europe. Queen Marie-Antoinette attended their concerts at the Palais de Soubise, and as she sometimes appeared without warning, the musicians took to wearing court attire at all times. As a contemporary source reported, "Dressed in rich velvet or damask with gold or silver braid and fine lace on their cuffs and collars and with their parade swords and plumed hats placed next to them on their benches, the combined effect was a pleasing to the eye as it was flattering to the ear." 

When his father died in 1774, the annuity he had bestowed on the Chevalier was assigned to his legitimate half-sister, and he had to cease donating his services to the Amateurs, who commenced paying him generously, based on how the orchestra had become the largest and most prestigious ensemble in Europe. In 1781, the Amateurs were disbanded for financial reasons, but eh Chevalier appealed to his friend and fencing partner the Duke of Chartres, who had recently united the Masonic organizations in France, and the Duke revived the orchestra as part of la Loge Olympique, an exclusive Freemason lodge. As Le Concert Olympique, it performed in the grand salon of the Palais Royal, with essentially the same musicians. In 1785 the Count D'Ogny, a grandmaster of the lodge and member of the cello section, authorized the Chevalier to commission a set of symphonies from Franz Josef Haydn, his Paris Symphonies, which were premiered in a larger hall with the Chevalier conducting before the considerable public interested in Haydn's work. The Chevalier also negotiated with Haydn for his commission, which was quiet generous, and included an extra sum for residuals - in the period, composers normally got nothing once their pieces were out in the world. 

The one instance where racial discrimination affected the career of the Chevalier occurred when his name was put forward by a "consortium of capitalists" (according to Baron Grimm) to take over the trouble Academie royal de musique (the Paris Opera). It seems that three of the sopranos, perhaps alarmed by the discipline the Chevalier imposed on his ensembles, petitioned the Queen to the effect that they could not be expected to take direction from the back man. The Chevalier immediately withdrew his name from consideration to avoid embarrassing the Queen, but the fallout from the affair led Louis XVI to take back the institution from the city of Paris (it had been given to the city by Louis XIV almost a century before), and led the Queen to have her musicales in the privacy of her chambers at Versailles, where the audience was her private circle, and only a few musicians were invited to play. She probably played piano with the Chevalier playing the violin in his sonatas. 

In 1785 the Duke of Orleans died, and the Chevalier's friend the Duke of Chartres acceded to this title. With his old circle unable to help him, the Chevalier was once again saved by his friend, who set him up in an apartment in the Palais Royal, where he inevitably was drawn into the plots to make France a constitutional monarchy under the Duke, a path seen by the Orleanist side as the only way to avoid a bloody revolution. The story of the chevalier becomes very complicated politically as this point, as he became an important player, sent to London, and eventually returning to France to lead what became known as the Legion Saint-Georges, the regiment of blacks fighting for the Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, starting in 1792. "

Disclaimer: This historical background was not written by me. The writing was included in the program.  I am unsure of who actually wrote this fantastic background information.  

My daughter's and I greatly enjoyed this fantastic performance. 

Excited for the performance to begin. 




Amazing musicians


Talented dancers/performers


Baby girl, towards the end of the performance, was 
lulled to sleep by the beautiful music. 


Saturday, February 27, 2016

My Social Book


I have been on Facebook since 2008. Since then I have shared so many 
precious pictures and memories. For years I have wished that I could somehow
print it all out. Well, a couple of months ago I came across a website that 
would make it possible. My Social Book has far exceeded my 
expectations. Not only do I now have a copy of some of my years
on Facebook but they are all chronicled in high quality
hardcover books. 

Now that digital pictures are the norm I never really print them out. 
I have stacks of photo albums from before the digital age. My children love to
look through them but some of my kiddos do not have photo
albums containing their pictures. Now they not only have 
pictures but they have written memories to go with them. 















My plan is to eventually print out all of my years on Facebook. Printing
these books can get a bit expensive so I am spacing out the rest of my collection. I would highly 
recommend My Social Books to everyone wanting to preserve
their memories via Facebook. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SimplyFun


I had the opportunity to review, Archery Dice, one of four new games by, SimplyFun. This game is for ages 7 and up, and up to 4 players. Forget about rolling dice, because in this game you get to flick the dice! This fun, new game requires strategy as well as great aim. Players stack dice, flick them, and try to get their dice to hit the bull's eye. But wait! Just when you think your dice is in a perfect spot your opponent may steal a spot closer to the bull's eye. WARNING: This game is highly addictive, produces laughter, and loud noise.

When we played our first game of Archery Dice only a few wanted to play. As the first game proceeded and laughter was heard others began to trickle in to watch. Before I knew it, there were more people than player pieces. Everyone wanted their turn at flicking the dice. As we continued to play we realized how important hand-eye coordination really was. Flick the dice too hard and you totally miss the target. Focus and learn just the right amount of force to exert with your flick and you have instant success. The youngest player was 7 and the oldest was 60+. I can definitely see needing to purchase another Archery Dice so that our whole family of 8 can play together without having to wait for a turn. I cannot wait to pull this out for our next youth group event.


Deep in concentration!!! 


In a nutshell, players stack their dice, aim, and flick! There are two ways to win a target. Either hit the bull's eye or roll the highest number on the die. Opponents try to bump your die out of place to steal the target. Fouled die are placed under the wooden disk. Do not fear! Banked targets cannot be taken away by opponents. Of course, there are many other particulars to the game that I will not go into detail about for this review. How exactly does someone win the game? Well, the first player to collect four targets is the winner!! 


Stack,
Aim,
Flick,
and don't forget to have fun!!


What my kiddos had to say....
My 2nd grader said, "Archery Dice is easy to place but so much fun. Sometimes I have a hard time making good flicks because I am laughing so hard."

My 4th grader said, "I like Archery Dice because I really like flicking the dice. At first I did not want to play but now I love to play. My mom says sometimes we get too loud." 

My 7th grader said, "I love the competition of Archery Dice. The game is so intense. Everyone is out to get the most targets and flick other players dice out of the way. It is like a fierce battle."

Final Thoughts
This is a must have game for any family! Archery Dice is not only fun for kids but it is also a great game to entertain your adult guests. SimplyFun has a great line of games. Be sure to go to their site and check them all out. 

To read more reviews click HERE.



Check out all of the new games from SimplyFun!!



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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HelpTeaching.com



I had the opportunity to review the Pro Plan on HelpTeaching.com. HelpTeaching.com is an amazing resource for educators that provides online and printable tests, activities, games, and lessons for PreK-12.

Often times I need to fill in the gaps and this site was helpful in providing easy to access learning aids. HelpTeaching.com is a bit of a one stop shop. Whether you are looking for handwriting help for your 1st grader, or a simple quiz to see that your 10th grader is understand his/her current read, The Catcher in the Rye. The wide range of teaching tools is just a click away.


I found myself utilizing the Tests & Worksheets option a lot. The ease with which I was able to locate particular material that I wanted made this site extremely useful. 



My 4th grader really enjoyed the reading lessons with comprehension questions included at the end. She loves all things relating to animals so I printed out reading lessons on Giraffes, Groundhogs, and The Fuzzy Caterpillar.




My 2nd grader had fun with an activity called, Feeling Words.



I was able to make a word search with the Games option to correspond with my daughter's spelling words in about a minute. With the word search creator you are able to generate a search using your own words or pre-selected words. You also have the option of titling the word search.


Since my 4th grader knows so much about animals I decided to create a test using the Test Maker. You can create your own tests or use test questions that are automatically generated for the subject and grade level of your student. It is extremely simple to create a test in a very short amount of time. Once you have created a test it automatically saves it under the My Content heading. Once you print the test out your child can take the test and you can either grade the test one the HelpTeaching.com site or print out the answers. The Test Maker is very user friendly and gives the teacher a wide range of options making the process of creating a test easy and stress free.


My 4th grader, eagerly worked through the 100+ test questions that I chose from the bank of questions by browsing. I simply chose a subject, grade level, and the types of questions I wanted and I was given 12+ pages of test questions that I could choose from. The test that I created was very useful to get a feel for how well my daughter understood the particular subject matter. Here is a sampling of some of the questions:

1. Camouflage is a way of hiding by _________ in with the environment around them. 

  • blending
  • trees
  • hiding
  • disappearing
2. Vertebrates without scales that live on the land and in the water are called __________.
  • arthropods
  • reptiles
  • mammals
  • amphibians
3. How many body regions do ants have?
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
I was pleasantly surprised by how much my 4th grader has learned over the years about animals by just reading. I will definitely be using the Test Maker option on a regular basis. 

My 10th grader needed a bit more explanation on the topic of proteins for Advanced Biology. I searched the site and found the perfect complement entitled, Structure and Function of Protein, found in the Lesson option, under Online Self-Paced Science Lessons.



Final Thoughts

Overall, I think that HelpTeaching.com is a great resource for educators. I would recommend this site to homeschoolers and educators. Anytime that a teaching tool such as HelpTeaching.com can make teacher responsibilities a bit easier I am all for it. I cannot wait to discover all that HelpTeaching.com has to offer that I have yet to utilize. 

To read more reviews click HERE



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