Friday, October 29, 2010

Yuck!! (A Review)

Can you think of anything kids like more than making a mess?  Well, my kids and I just had the chance to review some yucky stuff.  In fact, we got 4 different kinds of "Yuck" to play with!  Keep reading to find out what I'm talking about.  :)

Buckets-O-Fun is the name of the company that sent us the items to review.  We received Chunky Yuck, Saucy Yuck, Snowy Yuck, and Sticky Yuck.  Sounds pretty yucky already, doesn't it?

The Chunky Yuck starts out looking like rock salt.  After adding water and waiting about 24 hours for it to completely absorb, the chunks increase in size.  They end up being about the size of ice machine ice cubes!  (They are the sort of crushed-up looking cube size.)  It's pretty neat to watch the chunks increase in size over the 24-hour period.  It's also really neat to watch them "shrink" back to their original size as the Chunky Yuck dries out again.  This kind of yuck will definitely be more fun for older kids or teens since it takes 24 hours or so to completely "work."  Can you imagine what fun this stuff might be at a youth party in the summer time? 

Saucy Yuck is a powder until it is mixed with water.  Then it becomes the consistency of applesauce.  (Hence the name Saucy Yuck!)  This stuff could be lots of fun in a water balloon or on a water slide! 

Snowy Yuck begins with granules sort of like sugar.  When water is added, it's kind of like slushy snow.  The "snow" isn't great for packing into snowballs, but playing with it is still lots of fun.  It was pretty neat to have the chance to play with "snow" in October in the South! 

And last is Sticky Yuck.  My kids loved this one before they even tried it out because it states on the package that, when it is mixed with water, it "has the consistency of...well SNOT!"  What child could resist such a treat?!  I would recommend that this one definitely be played with outside because it is a bit difficult to clean up since it's rather slimey and sticky.  All of the different kinds of Yuck would work well outside in fact.  They could be played with inside (probably with "older" kids) if the kids are mature enough to control themselves a bit.  I think it's much more fun, though, to take the kids outside so they can fully enjoy it all and really make a mess!

You can find Yuck and Yuck accessories on the Buckets-O-Fun website.  They also have other kinds of water toys, inflatable toys, and more. 

The prices for Yuck are very similar for all 4 different kinds of Yuck.  One pound (dry) of any kind of Yuck will be between $16 and $20.  (One pound of dry Yuck makes about 35-60 gallons of finished Chunky Yuck and Saucy Yuck, about 25-50 gallons of finished Snowy Yuck, and about 5-10 gallons of finished Sticky Yuck!)  Five pounds of any kind of dry Yuck will be between $70 and $90.  Fifty pounds of any kind of dry Yuck will be between $400 and $600. 

If you want to try out some Yuck for yourself, you can get a free sample here.  Just scroll down to the bottom of the page.  I hope you and your kids have a really Yucky time with it!
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To see more reviews of Yuck, click here

NOTE:  I received this product free in exchange for writing this review.  I received no other compensation.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Memoir Mondays Week 5

1.  Do you like rainstorms? Why or why not?

2.  Describe the most serious illness or accident that you have had.

As I sit here on Sunday afternoon getting this post ready for Monday, the sun is shining brightly, and it's hot outside.  There are a few clouds in the sky, and it looks like there might be a slight possibility of rain.  I sure hope it will rain!  We really need it.  We saw a few drops of rain on our way home from church, but it was certainly a far cry from the rain shower we could use so badly. 

The Memoir Monday topic for today asks if I like rainstorms and why or why not.  At this particular moment, I would love a rainstorm!  The truth is that I really do like rainstorms a lot.  I don't ever remember being afraid of rain or thunderstorms even as a child.  I suppose I probably was afraid at times, but it must not have been too bad or I suppose I would remember it. 

For quite a few years as an adult when my family and I lived in a mobile home I didn't like severe thunderstorms--especially during the night--because I was worried about everyone's safety.  Since we built our house almost 3 years ago, though, it doesn't make me worry any more.  In fact, unless it's a pretty severe thunderstorm I normally can't even hear it from inside the house.

One new "tradition" that my youngest daughter, Mary Grace, and I began after we moved into our house was sitting on the front porch in our rocking chair (usually she sits in my lap) and watching it rain whenever we possibly can.  We'll even stop doing school or stop doing our chores or whatever it is we're up to so we can go outside and watch and listen to the rain together. 

The reason we started the new tradition is that, since Mary Grace was born during the time we lived in the trailer, she had never lived in a house with a porch until we moved in here.  When we lived in the trailer we used to leave the storm door (a solid clear plastic door) closed and the wooden door open and watch it rain.  Now that we have a porch, though, we like to actually go outside so we can hear it and experience it together.  It's one of those things I hope she will remember when she grows up as a "normal" time that we made into a special time. 

So I suppose my answer to the first Memoir Mondays question is that yes, I do very much like rainstorms.  :)

As for the second question, I am thankful to say that I don't remember ever having a very serious accident or injury.  I have been in several car accidents, but nobody was seriously injured.  (Unless you count my nerves.  Two different times I was hit on the side of my vehicle by somebody pulling onto the road and not looking carefully before he pulled out.  Even now, years and years later, I still get startled easily when somebody pulls onto the road from a side road and gets too close to me!) 

As far as serious illnesses go, I've never had a terribly serious illness either.  I do have pretty severe TMJ, and I did have surgery for that almost 20 years ago.  I also had my wisdom teeth out.  I've had the usual childhood illnesses like chicken pox (before they began giving that silly vaccine).  I don't ever think I've had anything any more serious than those things, though.

Unfortunately, it's my children who all suffer or suffered from the serious illnesses in my family.  My oldest child (now age 15) has autism.  My middle child (now age 13) had a very serious blood clotting disorder as a 3-year-old.  In fact, he wasn't supposed to have lived through it, but he did.  I believe that God saved him for some special purpose.  (I remind myself of that when he's driving me crazy!!)  My youngest child (now age 7) is the only one of the three who has never been seriously ill. 

Now I think I'll go sit out on the front porch and see if it will rain so Mary Grace and I can enjoy it together.  Even though you won't see this post until Monday, I sure hope you enjoyed your Sunday afternoon and that you have a wonderful week!
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook Entry


Outside my window...I see lots of beautiful wild birds eating out of the bird feeder that Mary Grace and I just filled.  There are cardinals, blue birds, hummingbirds, robins, and lots more! 

I am thinking...that I'll never finish everything I need to get done today!

I am thankful for...having a family, a work-from-home job, and a house even if caring for everything and everyone is difficult sometimes.

From the learning rooms...We are completely and totally enjoying our history classes through Veritas Press this year!! 

From the kitchen...I decided to have an easy supper tonight.  Sloppy Joes and homemade French fries.  Everyone in the house loves it when I make homemade fries!

I am wearing...gray capri pants (made of cotton--so comfy!!) and a white t-shirt from Mary Grace's ballet recital this past May.

I am creating...a list of 2011 homeschool conventions and conferences all over the U.S. for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine website and the next issue of the magazine.

I am going...nowhere today.  :) 

I am reading...Family Driven Faith by voddie Baucham.  It's really good so far.  I've read the first couple of chapters.

I am hoping...that I don't have another terrible dream tonight like I did last night.

I am hearing...the dishwasher running.

Around the house...everything is quiet right at this moment!

One of my favorite when my two cats sit in the chair with me while I'm typing on the computer.  :)

A few plans for the rest of the week:  I need to mop my floors (a big job since we have stained concrete throughout the house).  I also need to get some serious school work done with the kiddos in the next few days.  I also plan to spend plenty of time outside each morning (even if we take our school work outside with us) while the weather is so sunny and cool!!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

                                                              Three Happy Sisters!
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Memoir Meme #2

This week's Memoir Mondays questions are:

1.Did it snow much when you were a child – tell something about it, what did you do?

2.Did you and your father share any interests together – what and why?

I have lived most of my life in the South, and it hardly ever snows here at all!  Over the past several years, it has snowed once a year--which is very unusual.  Even when it does snow there isn't much of it, though. 

I do have a memory of one year when I was about 15 or 16 years old (I think) when the temperatures got really cold and stayed that way for about two weeks.  Our winters here are not normally very cold compared to states in the North.  For those two weeks, though, the temperatures--even during the daytime--never got above freezing. 

I remember my mom and dad and my twin sister and I (I can't remember if anyone else went with us or not) went driving to this big lake to see if it was frozen over.  Lakes normally don't freeze here because, even when the temperatures do go below freezing, they only stay that cold for a short time.  I don't remember a time before that or after that that it has been cold enough long enough for large lakes to freeze.  Well, we were kind of surprised to see that the great big lake had actually frozen over! 

My sister and I, of course, couldn't resist getting out to walk around on the ice.  My dad video taped us walking around on that slippery ice.  In the background, we can hear my mom telling us all to be careful and telling us not to venture out too far in case the ice might break.  I'll bet we nearly gave my poor mother a heart attack! 

The second question asked if I shared any interests with my father when I was a child.  The main fun thing I remember doing with my dad was playing Space Invaders on the Atari that we had.  Of course, my kids don't know anything about Atari, but that was big time fun back when I was a kid!  Space Invaders was one of my favorite games to play on the Atari.  One of the reasons for that is because it was a game that my dad liked to play with me.  I always felt very important and special whenever my dad played it with me. 

I remember that my dad always had a very hard time beating me at Space Invaders too.  We played other Atari games together, but he could beat me at those pretty easily.  Not so with Space Invaders.  We never knew if I would win or if he would win.  My dad didn't "believe" in letting me win either!  If I won, I knew I'd really earned it.  That made it even more fun.

One silly thing I remember about it is that, when my dad and I were playing the game once, he told me that I had, "....just violated the basic principle of the game."  I won't try to explain what I did that he was trying to point out to me because that's not really important.  What's important is exactly what he said to me.  From then on, every single time we played Space Invaders together and my dad messed up, I would use a goofy voice and tell him, "You have just violated the basic principle of this game!" 

I wonder sometimes which things that my husband and I do with our kids will be remembered by them when they grow up.  I hope they will remember some of the fun, silly things too.  Those make fun memories!
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Soli Deo Gloria Resources

I love children's books!  I have always loved to read, and I particularly enjoy reading books that were written for children.  It doesn't matter if they are books written for very young children, older children, or even teenagers.  I love them all!  (Well, I suppose I should clarify just a bit to say that I love well-written children's books.)  I even love reading my children's homeschool books and materials. 

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been introduced to lots of new-to-me companies--many of which produce books, workbooks, or other written materials for children.  Soli Deo Gloria Resources is one of the "new" companies that I have learned about.  The name "Soli Deo Gloria" means "to God alone the glory."  Doesn't that sound like a company you could love?

This company offers unit studies, information on how to do unit studies, information about evaluating your children's writing, ebooks,  and materials covering individual subjects as well.  Some of these subjects are:  Bible, geography, history, and science. 

The resource that I received to use and review is a Bible study called Young Hearts Longing for God.  It is a pre-inductive Bible study of the Psalms.  The book includes 30 lessons which are geared toward students from about 4th to 8th grade.  My daughter, the one who helped me review this book, is 7 years old, though, and she was able to do the study just fine.  Even younger students who aren't quite able to read well enough to do the study independently could do it with a little bit of help.  Older students could benefit from doing this study too, even if they are over the "recommended" age level.  (I personally think that Bible studies for children are a great place for new Christians or those who are just beginning to learn about the Bible at any age to start.) 

This study is actually a workbook.  Each lesson begins with the particular Psalm to be studied that day.  It doesn't just list the Psalm's "address."  It actually has printed right there the scripture that will be read and studied for that lesson.  Even though I like for my children to learn to use their Bibles to look up Bible verses, it is quite handy to have the entire Psalm printed there--especially for younger students who may not be ready to look verses up independently. 

After reading that day's Psalm, there may be a few instructions to follow.  These instructions might include things like, "Circle in green all the things that God has made."  Then some questions follow.  For the sample lesson that you can see here, the question is:  "What is so amazing to the psalmist, David, in this psalm? (vs. 3-4)"  Next follows another instruction that has something to do with a "vocabulary" word from the lesson.  The sample lesson says to "Look up the word 'majestic' in the dictionary and write out the meaning. The last thing listed is that lesson's instructions for journal writing. 

This workbook can be purchased as an ebook for $14.50 or as a physical book for $16.00.  It is meant to be used for 30 weeks (one lesson per week), so the price, at least in my opinion, is very reasonable for a study that will last for 7 or 8 months.  They suggest, for example, reading the Psalm the first day, reviewing the Psalm and answering a question or two the next day, and so on.  Then, on Friday, the student will have read the Psalm, studied it, and discussed it with the teacher or parent.  After all that, the student is asked to do a journal entry and is given instructions for doing so.

My daughter enjoyed this Bible study.  She is very interested in the Bible and in reading it and learning as much as she can about it.  She liked reading the Psalms and doing her best to answer the questions and follow the directions given.  She even enjoyed doing the journal writing part. She was able to do most of the study on her own, but I don't want her to do a Bible study like this one entirely on her own.  I want the chance to discuss with her what she is learning.  I think it is very important for parents to do Bible studies with their children (especially younger ones) to be sure that they are developing accurate attitudes toward the Bible and God and to be sure they understand what they are doing and learning. 

I think if Mary Grace were just a little older, she would have enjoyed this study a little more, but she did have a good time doing the study, and she did learn from it!  The main thing I would have changed is that, for younger students, I would add activities like things to draw or color, etc.  To be fair, though, this study is meant for students from 4th to 8th grades, so students in that age range might not care to do coloring and drawing activities. 

If this study sounds like something you might like, you can take a look at it here.  You might want to take a look at their other resources while you're there.  There are also some great freebies offered besides the products for purchase.

If you want to read some fellow Crew mates' reviews, just click this link
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NOTE:  I received this product free in exchange for writing this review.  I did not receive any other compensation.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monday Memoir Meme


I just found out about this neat new meme over at the Heartfelt Homeschooling blog, and I decided to participate in it.  You can tell by the name of the meme, Memoir Mondays, that it is about memories.  I really enjoy thinking back on things that happened to me while I was growing up (well, most of the time).  My children absolutely love to hear stories from my childhood and teenage years too.  Because this meme gives me the opportunity to remember specific events or feelings, etc., and because I know my children will enjoy either reading these blog posts or hearing me tell about them, I just had to take part!  I hope you enjoy it as well.  If you are a blogger, you might want to consider posting about this meme and doing your own Memoir Mondays post to link to Heartfelt Homeschooling.  I would love to read your post!

There is one bit of information I should probably explain before I go on with my post.  Because I have an identical twin sister, I always think back about my childhood in terms of "we" instead of "me."  My sister and I were very close (and still are) and spent lots of time together--especially until we reached the teenage years.  I don't have very many memories of me by myself.  Almost all of my memories include Melissa too.  For that reason, I will probably use "we" most of the time when I tell of childhood memories, and now you will know why!

Here are this week’s questions:

1. Did you have a favorite blanket or toy? Tell about it.

Melissa and I each had a favorite toy or two, but our overall favorite toys were our stuffed animals.  We spent hours and hours playing with them.  We had a really big box in one corner of our bedroom where we kept them all.  We covered the box with some kind of decorative contact paper so it would look a little nicer.  The box was probably about 3 or 4 feet high, and we had it piled to the top with stuffed animals of all kinds.  One of our favorite things to do with our stuffed animals was to sew clothes for them.  We took scraps of fabric and hand-sewed dresses or blankets for each one.  I'm sure the clothes looked horrible, but we sure did have a grand time making them!  Then we made up plays or songs or had "conversations" with them.  Those are some really fun memories!  
2. Did you have a favorite subject in school? One you dreaded?

In elementary school, I remember that I loved reading best of all.  It was so much fun learning to read!  I recall thinking how "grown up" I was when I was a good enough reader to be able to read chapter books all by myself.  :)  I don't remember any subject that I really disliked very much.  I do know that I found history pretty boring back then, but I don't remember particularly dreading or hating it.  (Now that I homeschool my own kids, history is my all-time favorite class to do with them!!  I wish I had had the chance back then to do the kinds of history classes that I do with my kids now.  I would have just loved it.)  

When I got older and was in high school, I remember being very challenged by my chemistry class.  It was the first class that I had ever really had to study very hard for.  I didn't enjoy it a lot, but I did find it interesting.  I also felt very pleased whenever I made a good grade in that class because I knew I had really worked for it. 

The classes that I liked least in high school were my math classes.  Math was never my strongest subject.  Another problem was that my math classes seemed to always come toward the end of the school day.  That was bad because I was always a little tired after lunch, and one year (the one I remember most vividly) my math teacher didn't have an air conditioner in her classroom.  Here in the South, that can be a really serious problem!!  Higher level math was hard enough for me, but when that was coupled with the class coming late in the day and the lack of air conditioning, I remember being totally miserable! 

My teacher in the particular math class that I remember best was very serious and hardly ever laughed or teased or had much fun with us.  One particularly hot day when ALL of the students were just about to fall asleep in class and were totally miserable, one of the students asked the teacher if we could take a little break.  When she said that we could NOT take a break, Melissa said, "Mrs. B., you work us too hard in this class!  Never a break--never a rest!"  All of the students burst out laughing because they couldn't believe she had "teased" the teacher.  I think that one memory will always stand out in my mind.  :)

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lanschool Review

When I learned that I was chosen to use and review Lanschool Technologies, I got on the internet and began to check them out to see what they were all about.  I found out that they provide classroom management and monitoring software to schools.  When I realized what they do, I began to wonder how I, as a homeschooling mom, could benefit from what they provide.  I am so glad that I was given the chance to review this program, and I absolutely recommend it to my fellow homeschool families!  I would love to tell you why.

My son, Noah, is in 8th grade this year at our homeschool.  Last year he started taking a live online class, and this year he takes not only the next level of that live online class, but he also does a couple of DVD classes.  When he was younger, I wanted to do most of his work with him, but as he gets older, I want him to be more independent.  I also don't have as much time to work with him one-on-one since he has two other siblings who need my help too. 

My main problem with allowing him to do several classes on the computer, though, is that he sometimes gets a little "off track."  In other words, if he needs my help and has to wait for a few minutes or if he gets too bored doing a particular assignment, etc., he has been known to play a computer game or check his email instead of doing his work.  (Those of you who have boys probably know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you?!) 

I had no idea what to do about this problem, so I tried to pop into my bedroom (where he does most of his school work during the day) and check on him now and then to be sure he was staying on task.  Quite often the time would get away from me and I would realize an hour or two later that I had forgotten to check on him.  That "system" just wasn't working very well. 

Lanschool Technologies makes it possible for me to check on him as often as I want to without even having to go to the room where he's working!  I keep my laptop computer in the kitchen/living room area (where the girls do most of their school work) so that I can use it to work on my part-time job duties in between doing school work with the girls.  Now, while I'm on the computer, all I have to do is click a few times, and then I'm able to view Noah's computer screen and see exactly what he's doing on the computer as he's doing it!  I don't have to wonder if he's staying on task or goofing off.  It's wonderful!

In other words, I see exactly what is on his computer screen just as he is seeing it on his own computer.  If he is typing a paper, I can see exactly what he is typing as he types it.  If he is watching a math lesson on DVD, I can see the math lesson just as he is seeing it on his screen.  If he's playing a game or checking his email, I can see that too. 

Not only is that a really wonderful feature, but it can do other things too.  I can send Noah messages as he's doing his work (or goofing off--whichever the case may be).  If he's goofing off, I can send him a message that pops up on his screen to tell him to get back to work.  He cannot continue doing anything on his computer until the message has been read and answered.  If he's working and doing what he's supposed to be doing, I can send him a message to encourage him or ask him if he needs any help.  I am also able to completely blank out his screen and send him a message if I really need to get his attention!  And if I for some reason need to gain control of his computer (which I haven't needed to do, but it's good to know that the option is available), I can take control of his computer from my computer in the kitchen too. 

There are some other really neat features too.  I can show my computer screen to one (or more) of the student computers.  I can use the "remote control" feature to "take over" his computer to show him how to do something if I need to.  I can allow or block printing from one or all student computers.  I can monitor keystrokes on student computers.  (In other words, I can see what my kids have been typing on their computers whether it is showing on their screens or not.)  I can even view internet browsing history and have my computer send me an alert if any "banned words" (some pre-selected and some selected by me) are typed using a student computer.  I automatically get a notification if my computer detects that a student is typing in personal information (such as giving someone else his/her exact name or address).  I can set times to allow or block internet usage as well. 

I personally believe that Lanschool Technologies is a wonderful product not only for monitoring school work, but also for just plain keeping my kids safe on the computer.  Even the internet filter that is on every computer in the house doesn't work as well as Lanschool at helping me to know exactly what my children are doing online.  I want to be sure that my kids are safe on the internet, and I want to be sure that they are staying on task and doing their school work even when I can't be right there in the room with them.  Lanschool Technologies allows me to do both of those things plus quite a few other things that are so handy to be able to do!  I can tell you that, as long as I have children in my house using the internet (whether they homeschool or not) I will use Lanschool Technologies! 

The Lanschool Home version costs $99 for a home license which lasts 3 years and includes free tecnhical support all 3 years.  This allows you, the parent, to monitor up to 3 other computers from your computer.  One computer, the one mainly used by the parent/teacher, is used as the "teacher's" computer.  The other computer(s) are used as "student" computers.  Only the "teacher's" computer can be used to monitor the other computers.

I hope you will take a look at the Lanschool website for yourself.  You can see specifics about the home version here.  Another thing you might like to see is the home version product brochure.  Finally, you might like to see some more reviews of this product.  You can do that by clicking on this link.


NOTE:  I received this product free in exchange for writing this review.  I did not receive any additional compensation.  The opinions expressed in this review are my own. 


Monday, October 4, 2010

It's a Jungle in Here!

If you are one of those folks who thinks it's important for kids to have pets to take care of and to enjoy, them you would definitely approve of the zoo I have at my house right now!  I had pets when I was growing up, and I have always allowed my children to have pets too.  I want them to enjoy animals, and I also want them to learn to take responsibility for taking care of other living creatures in hopes that they will become more responsible and thoughtful people. 

We've had two outside dogs for many years.  For the last six years, we've had a parakeet or two inside the house.  For the past three years or so, we've also had at least one cat inside the house.  (At the present time we have two inside cats.)  We've had Beta fish off and on for years as well.  (The cats sometimes eat them, so we have to start over.  The cats didn't bother the fish for years, but once they acquired a taste for them, we had to give up replacing them.  They became pretty expensive cat treats!) 

If all those "regular" pets aren't enough, we have now added ants and Sea Monkies to our menagerie!  My 7-year-old daughter and I are studying social insects in science this year, and we didn't want to become beekeepers, so we opted for an ant farm instead. 

We read several articles on the internet telling how we can make our own ant farm, but all of them strongly caution that folks should not make ant farms using fire ants.  Well, guess what kind of ants we "specialize" in here in the South? ants!  We searched high and low for some "sugar ants" to use for our farm and didn't find any.  We even called friends and relatives to see if they had any in their yards.  Alas, there were none to be found.  Only fire ants are readily available here. 

For that reason, we decided to go ahead and order some ants.  We went ahead and ordered an ant farm as well, even though we could have made one pretty easily.  When we got online looking for ants, of course Mary Grace saw all kinds of lovely ant farms that are available to order, so the idea of making our own became a little disappointing to her.  We chose a really neat ant farm that wasn't too expensive and ordered it and our ants. 

The ants we ordered are called "harvester ants."  They are really big ants, so it turns out that we're really glad we ordered them.  They are much easier to see clearly than fire ants or sugar ants would have been.  We are really enjoying watching them build tunnels and little "rooms" in the sand.  We accidentally bumped the ant farm pretty hard a day or so ago, and the poor creatures had to rebuild, but it's been lots of fun watching them!

We ordered our Sea Monkies from the same place that we ordered the ant farm from.  I remember having Sea Monkies as a child, and I couldn't believe that my kids didn't know what they were!  I decided that that just wouldn't do, so we ordered a tiny little container (with a little "castle" inside) for our Sea Monkies to live in.  Then we put the little package of Sea Monkey eggs in there, followed the feeding directions, and now we have teeny tiny little bitty Sea Monkies swimming around in there!  (By the way, did you know that Sea Monkies are really a certain kind of shrimp?  They are.) 

If you want to come visit us, I hope you don't mind pets!  We promise not to charge you any admission when you visit our zoo.  You might want to avoid coming at feeding time, though.  :) 
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