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The e-commerce giant may be close to launching a wine marketplace.

Remember when the late Orson Wells bragged that Paul Masson would sell no wine before its time? Well, Amazon (AMZN) is about to find out how hard that can be.

The e-commerce king is planning to launch an online marketplace for wine in the coming weeks, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s going to be a challenge, considering that it’s illegal for wineries to sell “off-site,” directly to consumers, in about a dozen states. Wine sales are restricted in many other states under prohibitions that date back to the Prohibition era. Whether the Seattle company will be able to help break down those barriers remains to be seen. But the timing seems right for such a venture in the $32.5 billion U.S. wine business.

Data from the Wine Institute, a trade group, shows that wine volumes have grown for 18 straight years. Sales hit a record 347 million cases in 2011, an increase of 5.3%, far exceeding the performance of beer, which has been lackluster for years. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD -0.95%) recently reported that it had increased sales of beer in the U.S. for the first time in three years. Consumption of distilled spirits gained 3.6% in 2011, according to the Distilled Spirits Council.

Wine attracts a wide variety of consumers, from those ages 21-34 to baby boomers. Amazon’s venture may hold with sales of mid-priced vintages that would have difficulty otherwise expanding outside their home markets. The company may drive down wine prices much as it did with books. There are already plenty of wines available for under $15 and a wine sold under the Charles Shaw label at Trader Joe’s gained fame as Two-Buck Chuck for both its price and taste.

Participating in Amazon’s venture won’t be cheap. The company is reportedly going to charge vintners both a 15% commission and a $40 monthly fee. Many will find it’s worth the bother.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Jonathon Berr

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Taking care of an older family member or friend can be stressful. But so is being that person. One wonderful way to ease the stress burden on both of you: Help the person close to you define and preserve his or her legacy.

“Legacy” may not be a word most of us use in everyday conversation, but it’s a concept people tend to give considerable thought to once they head north of their 60s and 70s. Shaping and understanding your legacy refers to sorting out what your life has meant, and what kind of memories of you are apt to live on after you die.

What a person learns and leaves is as individual as his fingerprints. But I found some heartening insights into common themes in this new research from Priceless Legacy, a company that turns interviews with older adults into life stories in print or video format. An analysis of its projects shows that the top five life lessons shared by people ages 65 to 104 are:

  1. The simple things matter most.
  2. Humor and time cure most pains.
  3. There’s more satisfaction in giving than getting. Service to others is the most satisfying activity.
  4. Choose your spouse carefully. It will be your most important decision.
  5. Work hard and in a field or role that you enjoy.

I love this list for several reasons:

  • It shows that you don’t have to be a president or a superstar to leave a legacy of experience and wisdom to impart. All life experience counts…and the “ordinary” experiences seem to count most.
  • It’s a nice playbook on how to live life.
  • It makes a handy template, or at least a starting point, for possible insights to explore with your loved ones about their own life discoveries.
  • I love any reminder in any form that includes the message “humor helps.”
  • Not least, it should make anyone who’s a caregiver feel pretty good. According to these elders, the odds are good that you’ll one day look back on your caregiving as a rewarding part of your life: Simple things (and by extension, simple deeds, simple gifts) matter. Service to others is the most satisfying activity.

How to help someone recognize her legacy is largely a process of investing time. It can be as simple as making time to listen and asking thoughtful questions. One tip: Look over old photos and documents to evoke a story. Learn more simple ways how to help older adults create a lasting legacy—and you won’t regret it. You’ll probably both enjoy it, and you’ll both feel grateful to bring it into the open.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Paula Spencer, Caring.com

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There were likely cries of joy from students (and maybe a few parents) at Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland when Principal Stephanie Brant announced a radical new experiment: no more traditional homework.

Instead, students are asked to read about 30 minutes a night from a book of their choosing.

Over the past few years, Brant and her staff evaluated what teachers were sending students home with and found they were asking students to complete a lot of worksheets.

“The worksheets didn’t match what we were doing instructionally in the classroom,” Brant said in a news story on MyFoxDC.com. “We were giving students something because we felt we have to give them something.”

Parents appear to support the change, and Brant hopes it will prove motivational for her students.

Unlike most elementary schools, students at Gaithersburg are allowed to go to the library every day instead of just once a week as a class. The school believes this will strengthen reading habits and result in the students consuming more books at their own pace.

According to MyFoxDC.com, the new policy seems to be paying off. Fifth graders at Gaithersburg Elementary School scored around 72 percent proficiency in math and about 81 percent proficiency in reading in the last round of standardized test scores.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: MSN Living Editor – Rebekah Schilperoort

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Please take a moment to check out my listing at 4102 Peck Avenue. Located in the heart of Austin, this beautiful home is within minutes of The University of Texas, Downtown Austin, Handcock Golf Course, and Hyde Park Bar & Grille. Currently offered at $425,000.

 

Best,

Martha

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How parents can help teach their kids reform math, math reasoning and inquiry-based math.

 

Back in the day (you know, the ’80s), most of us were taught there was one way to add, one way to subtract, one way to multiply, and one way to divide. You sat at your desk, listened to the teacher, and did worksheet after worksheet till those formulas were drilled into your brain. There was no “creativity.” Usually, there was no context (how many times did you ask “Why do I need to know this?”). Your parents could be relied upon to help you at least until middle school. And there were definitely no calculators. Um, that was what we called cheating.

Oh, how the times have changed. Just check out this snapshot of math in Terri Gratz’s fourth-grade class at Meadowbrook Elementary School, in Golden Valley, MN: After the kids pull out blue calculators and their student reference books, Gratz says, “Raise your hand if you know which country has the biggest land mass.”

“Russia!” one boy announces.

“Which country has the most people?” asks Gratz.

A girl half raises her hand. “Either India or China?”

“China, right,” Gratz says. “So, how do we figure out what percent of the world’s population lives in China? Which two numbers do we need?”

It’s a tough question, but the class is up to the task: They soon figure out that they need to know how many people live in China compared with the rest of the world. Then they turn to their book to find a population chart. The world’s total population at that time, they learn, is 6,378,000,000. Gratz wants to know if the students think that’s the exact number. The kids smile and roll their eyes. As if! Then they look again to find China’s population: 1,298,840,000.

Throughout the lesson, Gratz and the students have been cheerfully lobbing questions and answers, and she’s clearly delighted that her class enjoys the give-and-take. Soon 28 sets of hands furiously punch numbers into the calculators, and then the first kid gets the answer: about 20 percent. Gratz asks her to come to the front of the class to show how she solved it.

Welcome to the world of “reform math” (the experts call it “inquiry-based math”), a catchall phrase for a group of new methodologies that aim to teach students how to reason their way through a problem instead of simply regurgitating a set of facts and formulas to get the answer (which is how most of us learned). If you have a child in elementary school, she’s probably learning under one of these programs. Think of it this way: If traditional math is a paint-by-numbers replica of the Mona Lisa, reform mathematics is more like performance art, where the audience is invited to paint the canvas. The goal is to engage, excite, experiment, and find creative solutions. Because when kids care about math and understand how it works in real life, experts say, they’ll be more likely to stick with it. More important, that ability to think outside the formula, so to speak, will be absolutely critical when they have to compete in the global economy. (And, given that ranking, the U.S. can use all the edge it can get.)

Now you’re probably thinking “Great! Fabulous! We’re raising the next generation of innovators!” That is, until you actually have to help your child with her homework and find yourself questioning whether you really know how to divide. Their new math looks and sounds very different from ours, and after you get over the shock that many actually get to use calculators, you’ll likely be faced with accusations like “You’re doing it wrong! That’s not how we do it in class!” Elaine Replogle, a mom of three in Eugene, OR, is all too familiar with this kind of frustration: “Because my husband and I don’t know the same methods or terms, the kids tell us we know nothing. And we both have Ph.D.’s!” To banish the frustration, we talked to teachers around the country to get a handle on the basic philosophies of the most widely used math programs so you can feel more prepared and, let’s face it, a little less clueless.

New Math Mission #1: Emphasize the process, not the solution.

This is a tenet that programs like Investigations in Number, Data, and Space as well as Everyday Mathematics share. (Don’t know the name of the method your school uses? None of the parents we spoke to for this article did, either! But a call to the teacher can fix that.)

This doesn’t mean the kids don’t have to get the correct answer. Instead, the goal is to teach them to understand how numbers interact, how to recognize patterns, and to experiment with different ways to get there. “Students are more comfortable switching strategies and exploring ways to find the answer,” says Jennifer Scoggin, who used Everyday Mathematics when she taught second grade at a New York City public school.

So take adding: When we learned how to add 349 + 175, we stacked up the numbers, added the ones, carried the tens, added those, and so on in order to get the answer (524). With Investigations, third-graders, for instance, explore different methods for arriving at the answer. They may add the hundreds, tens, and ones separately (300 + 100, 40 + 70, 9 + 5) or break the numbers into rounded chunks (350 + 175 = 525 – 1 = 524).

New Math Mission #2: Help kids “see” math.

This goes right along with the idea of providing different learners with different ways of understanding. In lower grades, students might use objects like cubes or tiles (known as manipulatives) during a subtraction lesson, or they might use the hundreds board, a grid with 100 numbered squares, to figure out the answer to a problem like 41 – 29: The kids put a finger on 41 and then count back to 29. “They can count by tens, by ones, or count forward from twenty-nine to forty-one,” says Scoggin, now a consultant. “It’s fun — like counting spaces on a board game.”

Keith Kinney, a fifth-grade teacher at the Parker Middle School, in Chelmsford, MA, uses the reform program Math Expressions and shares how it uses visuals to teach: When we learned to calculate the area of a rectangle, we memorized the formula: length x width = area. But Kinney’s fifth-graders draw a rectangle on graph paper; they can then simply count the squares to calculate. This process can help students internalize the formula (they’re seeing it and doing it on their own), teach them about geometry and algebra, and reinforce their multiplication skills. They then discuss the various solutions as a group.

New Math Mission #3: Introduce concepts — then introduce them again.

This technique is called spiraling, and it’s used in Everyday Mathematics, as well as in the Saxon method. Whereas we might have had our fractions lessons in one solid block, teachers now often circle back to concepts again and again to reinforce the skills.

Ruth Nettelhorst, a third-grade teacher at the Nancy Cory elementary school, in Lancaster, CA, describes it like this: “Saxon introduces concepts in a way that builds upon the previously learned skills. It moves them from the concrete to the abstract in a very logical, methodical way.” And that makes sense to us.

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Linda Rodgers

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Thank goodness for my dear friend in Dallas, Garrett, who let me on on Austin’s newest secret: Billy Reid. The newest location in Austin- right by Z Tejas on 6th- is super. Very cool clothes for men and women that we have yet to see in Austin. Ran in, literally, and found Husband two last minute shirts for the game this weekend. Wheels up at 1:30pm!

 

Hook Em!

Visit their website here!
Shout out to Dave & Taylor 🙂

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Find out if your child’s workload is normal or excessive.

 

Nancy Kalish’s daughter was an enthusiastic middle-schooler — until homework started to take over, consuming her evenings and weekends. When she started dreading school, the Brooklyn mom began to grow alarmed.

Kalish teamed up with Sara Bennett, a fellow frustrated mom, to write The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It (out this month from Crown) for parents of kids in grade school on up. Their investigation drew on academic research and inter-views with educators, parents, and kids around the country. Kalish spoke to Parenting about their findings:

How can too much homework negatively affect kids?
They don’t have time to just be kids anymore — they’re so bogged down. And since many of the assignments are simply busywork, learning often becomes a chore rather than a positive, constructive experience. Homework overload is also affecting family life — a lot of kids can’t even make it to dinner, and as a result, the only interaction they have with their parents involves arguments about homework.

What are signs that your child might be getting too much?
If he starts to hate school, like my daughter did, that might be one, as are nightly hysterics over homework.

The National Education Association recommends that kids have a total of ten minutes per grade level of homework per night. Anything above that is excessive.

The bottom line is that a child will understand a concept better if he has time to work on five problems, rather than struggling to race through 50.

What can parents do?
First, talk to your child’s teacher, with the assumption that he or she wants what’s best for your child. Often teachers are unaware of the havoc that homework is causing.

If that doesn’t work, talk to the principal about your concerns. She may agree and set policy changes in motion. Or, you may need to involve other parents and go to the school board. It may not be simple to stem the tide of homework, but parents around the country are showing it can be done.

More from Bing and MSN Living Site Search: Get additional content on back to school, tips for moms and stay-at-home mom

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: Kamala Nair

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