April, 2005

Apr 05

Preparing for IRA 2005 in San Antonio

Things have been going crazy around here. I mean non-stop. We are presently preparing our exhibit for the IRA 2005 Conference (International Reading Association) in San Antonio. Next week we’ll have the chance to meet and chat with thousands of teachers and librarians. If you’re attending the IRA (International Reading Association) Conference, please ‘come on by’ to see us at booth #3461. We even have a great contest too! You’ll have a chance to win Dino the Dog, complete with his CD player and a set of our new Funky Phonics: Learn to Read series CD/book kits.

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Dino, the dog, our prize for IRA 2005 in San Antonio.

Apr 05

Birthdays, Parties and Kids

This month I turned 52. FIFTY TWO! Time goes SO fast. As a matter of fact, I have stopped thinking of my age. Most of the time I forget how old I am and have to stop and think of someone asks.

Well. Wil and I both celebrated our birthdays in April, only 6 days apart. You can imagine how many birthday cakes were around here. Three to be exact. I think we have eaten enough cake to last a year.

Everyone at work threw me a little luncheon party. We had pizza and cake. Here you will see, Jesús, me and Patricia in the foreground, with Darryl standing behind. Jesús and his family will be leaving next Friday for Venezuela. We wish him well and will have another luncheon party just before he leaves. Jesús and his wife, Gisem, will work as sales reps for us in Venezuela. If you live in Venezuela and are hoping to make purchases, let me know and Jesús can get touch with you.

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Happy Birthday, Sara!

A few days later, my daughter Jessie, who is studying at Ontario College of Art and Design, came home and baked us a chocolate cake. This photo was taken our backyard. In the background you can see the pond where geese waddle about and champion rowers train.

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Wil and Sara cutting the cake outside.

The highlight of this month was an amazing surprise present from Jessie. Usually she gives me paintings and drawings she has exquisitely created. This time she produced a music video especially for me featuring one of the first multiplication songs I composed fifteen years ago.

I was able to find an old television video clip of Jessie singing the same song 15 years ago. We’ve strung some of the old clips and the new video together so you can see Jessie, the preschooler, and now Jessie at 19.

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Click here to see VIDEO

The little kid who had to sing multiplication songs to help her mom do marketing has now blossomed into a young woman whose main passion in life is to produce videos. Check out this clip. She’s great. But of course, maybe I’m biased. I’m her mom.

Apr 05

Taking In the Big Easy

It’s been ten days since we returned home from New Orleans. More than enough time to make another blog entry? NOT! Sometimes we get terribly bogged down here. I’d like to introduce you to Andrew. Putting my blog entries up on the internet is one of his duties. Andrew also updates our pen pal entries, does the layout for some of our books, updates the websites and helps to pack orders. He does all of this after a full day in grade twelve. (Andrew has an average close to 94%!) Needless to say he’s indispensable (but overworked) around here.

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Andrew, hard at work.

The last two days in New Orleans, Wil and I took a very needed break and toured The Garden District, The French Quarter and the river boats, docked along the banks of the Mississippi.

The Garden District of New Orleans has beautiful wide streets flanked with big old mansions. Check out the Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion and a sampling of the beautiful gardens.

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The “Van Benthuysen-Elms Mansion” [left] and beautiful gardens in the Garden District [right].

A visit to New Orleans would never be complete without a meal at Mother’s Restaurant. Mother’s which is famous for its Cajun food, was right around the corner from our hotel. Each day, all day long, long line-ups of hungry patrons would spill out onto the sidewalk.

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Patrons waiting to be seated at Mother’s Restaurant.

St. Louis Cathedral sits in a large park close to the river in the French Quarter. At night, dozens of psychics and artists set up shop around the perimeter of the park and light up the night with candles.

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St. Louis Cathedral.

The Market Restaurant (down in the French Market) seemed to have jazz bands playing continuously, entertaining diners. We enjoyed two very good bands here on different occasions.

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A jazz show in the French Quarter.

The buildings in the French Quarter, although somewhat run down, were quite exquisite. All in all, we enjoyed our short break and have fond memories of New Orleans.

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Elegant buildings in the French Quarter.

Apr 05

More from New Orleans

My second blog entry while I’m at NSSEA covers Days 2 and 3 of the show. You may get the impression from my entries that all I ever do is schmooze and party, but trade shows encompass much more than that. I must have played selected recordings for buyers hundreds of times, shaken hundreds of hands and greeted dozens of friends. I really like participating in this show. We had terrific neighbors at the stands adjacent to ours and across the aisle and we met so many people that I could never have possibly featured them all here. Oh well. Maybe some day!

I’m including photos of a few of the visitors to our stand. It was great to see Gini Phillips of Math ‘n Stuff. Gini hails from Washington state and so the only time I see her is at these shows. It was a treat too, to meet Deborah Spooner of HoneyBeez in the Barbados. Up until now, I only knew Deborah from correspondance and orders in cyberspace. Once we carried on lengthy correspondance over a missing package which eventually showed up in the Barbados. (How do you like that? Cyberspace never loses messages. The brick and mortar postal system misplaces packages!)

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Gini Phillips [left] and Deborah Spooner [right].

Linda Kirk stopped by the booth with Judy Berry and Vickie Thomas. All three are with The School Box. Linda and I tried to hook up for lunch this past January my odyssey trip. Due to challenges in our schedules we never got to meet so it was great to finally meet her in person after so many months of email and telephone correspondance!

This was my second time to meet Rob Bonczkiewicz of Beckers. (See Day 3 of the Blog.) During the odyssey I’d stopped by Becker’s warehouse but Rob’s associate, Linda O’Neall, hadn’t been available. Now, because of NSSEA, I was able to meet Linda too!

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Judy Berry, Linda Kirk and Vickie Thomas of The School Box [left] and Rob Bonczkiewicz and Linda O’Neall of Becker’s School Supplies [right].

Terry Thompson and his wife Diane stopped by our booth. Terry is the owner of School and Carnival Supplies in Gulfport, Mississippi. While on the odyssey, I had stopped in to Terry’s store where I met Genna and Theresa. It was really an incredibly large store and very busy with customers. (See Day 24 of the Blog.)

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Terry and Diane Thompson of School and Carnival Supplies, Inc.

And of course, we met lots of NEW people. I mean, hundreds! Check out the photos below!

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Marcia Beatty of School Stuff in Hammond, IN [left] and Jorge Melecio and Damaris Sifuentes of La Libreta School Supply in Puerto Rico [right].

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Barbara Bundgaard of Teaching Stuff in Phoenix, AZ [left] and Gayle Fuller, Lynette Van Horne, Mary Steward, and Cassie Fuller of The Learning Patch in Plano, TX [right].

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Don, Sheri and Kathy Tarman of Creative Apple in Chico, CA [left] and Pasquale Pagliuso, of TecknoQuest in Edmonton, AB [right].

What would a trade show be without a little partying? Mulate’s, The Original Cajun Restaurant has incredible food and dancing. It’s an experience not to be missed. Mulate’s is located very close to the convention center. Check it out if you ever come to New Orleans.

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Dining and dancing at Mulate’s, the Original Cajun Restaurant.

So long for now. The NSSEA show is now over and I’m going to do some serious partying and sight seeing for the next couple of days. I’ll try to take some photos too!