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Greathall Productions, Inc. - Intelligent listening for the thinking family.

Wednesday June 5, 2013

Inside this issue

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Ah, June, the official beginning-of-summer month. With a flip of the calendar page from May to June, we see summer ruling the day as it transitions from spring. The empty page will soon be filled with play dates with friends; barbecues; picnics and  family vacations- so many memory builders that will last a lifetime.

Where are you planning to go this summer? Join our Facebook Hall and share your adventures with us.

Inside this issue we hope you find inspiration for your journey.

*Exclusive E-Magazine Special: No Shipping Charge

* From the Storyteller, Jim Weiss: Dad

* Reflections from Randy Weiss: From Alaska to Dubai

* Taking Greathall on the Road

*Digital Download Spotlight: Gone West

* Notes From our Guests

* A Recap of the April Storytime Webinar with Jim

* Jim Live: Upcoming Events with Jim Weiss

* Ask Jim: "What Is Your Most Memorable Travel Experience?"

* Join our Facebook Hall

Photo: Making precious summer memories. Randy took this photo of a mom deiighting in her child on a recent trip to Dubai.

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Exclusive E-Magazine Special Discount: No Shipping Charge

Summer calls for lots and lots of stories to entertain and educate on those long trips. it's a great time to stock up on Jim Weiss stories this month we offer our E-Magazine guests no shipping charges on all orders placed during the month of June.  Simply input the code: "June Special" in the Special Instructions Box during the checkout process on our E-Store order form.

Offer Expires June 30, 2013.

Photo: So many choices. What is the theme for your summer vacation? Jim Weiss probably has a story to match.

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From the Storyteller, Jim Weiss

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June is the month in which we celebrate Father’s Day, but I think that if we look at things correctly, every month and every week includes Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and wedding anniversaries.  I don’t wait for our wedding anniversary to bring flowers home to Randy, and she doesn’t wait for my birthday to surprise me with little gifts that she knows I will like.  In that spirit, I offer you this lyric in June, though I wrote it last November.  I wrote it for my own father, and truth be told, I had been trying to write it for thirty years.

He had arms big enough to surround us
A heart ‘bout as big as the sky.
He loved us the way that he found us
(Though he saw with an accurate eye).
He spoke in a voice that was gentle,
And when it was lifted in song
You might think he was sentimental --
But in trouble, that voice became strong.
We were lucky to have him so long:

When I asked him a question, he listened
And that is a gift to a boy.
When his eye followed Mother, it glistened
With something that went beyond joy.
I remember him passing a football.
I remember him driving a nail.
I remember the sight of him laughing
While straightening out a fence rail.
I’m still trying to follow his trail:

What he didn’t know, he knew how to find.
What we didn’t have, he’d say “Never mind.”
And all that we had
He didn’t take lightly at all……
And he stood tall.

I learned when you love you should show it.
I learned when you hurt you should pray.
When you have gone wrong and you know it,
Then you owe a debt you must pay.
If you have a gift you must use it,
And if you find love pay it mind.
If you have a dream, never lose it,
‘cause dreams aren’t that easy to find.
Do your job, do your best and be kind:
That was Dad.

Photo: Randy took this photo on the beach in Dubai. The best fathers are important, safe and kind. And they stand tall (even if they're short).

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Reflections from Randy Weiss: From Alaska to Dubai

Greathall takes us all over the world and one of the most amazing places we go is Alaska. This is an annual event for me as Jim only goes when he is invited to speak. This year was one of those blessed times when we could make this trip together. The event that calls us to this wondrous state is the IDEA Fair which involves 4 separate homeschool conferences in 4 different cities in about ten days. Getting there from Virginia can take over 24 hours with stopovers and delays, and the wear and tear of shipping, receiving and lugging product, non-stop talking and only a few days off between events is exhausting.

But, it's all well worth it as the joy of re-connecting with vendors and conferees each year is akin to attending a family reunion. Our Alaskan homeschooling families are as welcoming as can be and as at all our conferences, these people have become close friends. The conferences are warm, inviting communities, and we cherish all the people who are there to sell, to buy and to make it happen. 

I often say that Alaska is a state that does not easily translate to the lower 48. To me, it is a place whose sole purpose is just to "be." The rugged terrain and exquisite natural beauty require a certain attitude and lifestyle. One doesn't go to Alaska to command and demand and take over- rather, to take instruction and mold oneself to the land, animals and weather. You see this wherever you go, in the faces and demeanor of the people; in the well worn cars and homes, and even in the hearty, delicious cuisine. Jim and I are always overwhelmed when we are in Alaska as we take in the diversity that it lends to our part of America.

A few weeks after returning from Alaska I took a rather impromptu trip to Dubai to visit our daughter  and son-in-law. The reason was simply we missed each other and so within four days of deciding the time was right for the visit, there I was in an environment that couldn't be a greater contrast from my description of Alaska.

Dubai is about commanding, demanding and taking over, and it's wonderful. When I am here, I celebrate the diversity of our world in a wholly different sense. This place is magical. It is softly glamorous and its colors are a delight to ones very being. I feel very alive in Dubai as I do anywhere I have ever been in the Middle East.

The people are warm, the food is sensuous, beautiful and delicious, and the climate...well, as I have previously said, I'm a summer girl. The beaches are beautiful and filled with families enjoying each other; the various city centers are bustling with women dressed in stylish burquas, couture, and tank tops. Men can be seen in traditional arab attire to anything you would see in any US city thus presenting a portrait of acceptance, self-expression and value-added over-the-top people-watching opps.

I am overwhelmed by the opportunity I am blessed with to travel the world.  Exposure to diverse cultures has vastly stretched my comfort zone in and out of familiar areas, and increased my understanding, tolerance and compassion for how, why and where people live.

Spending quality time with ones children is what life is about. Being with dear friends that you see once a year is also what life is about. Connecting with land that commands respect and wandering about in a bustling city that sits on desert sand are equally awe-inspiring and a reminder that we have choices as to how we serve our hearts and adorn our spirits. 

Photo: What better baby gift than Abadaba Alphabet? Jim poses with cherished friends (and a brand new little friend) in Alaska.




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A Taste of Alaska

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The glacier in Juneau stops one in his/her tracks. One can only bow to such splendor and feel humbled as to be a steward of such magnificence.

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Taking Greathall on the Road

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"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson lived a dozen lifetimes in one. Patriot, scientist, architect, president, author of Declaration of Independence, he preferred above all titles "father" and "grandfather."  Yet time and again demand for his unique skills drew him from the quiet home he loved. In Thomas Jefferson's America you will thrill to true stories of war and peace, loyalty and betrayal, battles against empires and struggles regarding slavery.

Combining the storytelling of Jim Weiss with a visit to the destinations within the recording could make for a breathtaking experience. Imagine listening to the chapter on Patrick Henry on Williamsburg: Law and Revolution and then paying a visit to the historic Virginia town.

Then travel the road north to the home of Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) while listening to Jim recount the story of Jefferson returning to his beloved home.

Using the Greathall stories as part of your vacation experience can transform the trip into a true journey of adventure.

Other travel favorites used by Greathall families include:

* Gone West: Bold Adventures of American Explorers and Pioneers

* Abraham Lincoln and the Heart of America

* Women in Blue or Gray

* Masters of the Renaissance 

*American Tall Tales

Be sure to check out Jim's Photo Album which depicts Jim's travels all over the world in search of stories that comprise the Greathall collection.

Photo: Living in Charlottesville, VA, researching and producing Thomas Jefferson's America was of particular interest and joy.

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From our Guests: Bringing History to Life and Then Some

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One Greathall family has been sending Facebook photos of their travels in the British Isles tied to Jim's recordings set in those locatiions. Here is one of their entries from our Facebook page.

We had a really hard time deciding where to take the picture of the kids with                 In Freedom's Cause. Here they are in front of Edinburgh Castle which has statues on each side of the entry. One of William Wallace and one of The Bruce. They are in front of Wallace. The name Archibald was very popular at one point. Every time I read it I have to remind myself that Archie Forbes was a fictional character. Today we are off to see the battle sites and memorial to Wallace as well as stirling castle. Thanks for bringing the history alive for us! - Donna L.

Thank you so much for your incredible body of work. Your stories enriched my children's lives in so many ways. Your stories exposed my children (and me) to information we'd have had to read for years to acquire, especially given our dyslexia. It gave them a massive basis of context that super-charged their ability to participate in their educational experiences. My daughter's teachers were continually surprised at the diverse range of subjects she'd been exposed to. I cannot stress how valuable our CDs were for our family. They not only informed and entertained us but also transformed long car rides into wonderful opportunities for conversation and brought us closer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. -Margo T.

My 6 year old son has had an insatiable desire to hear stories since birth and discovering Jim's recordings have been a God-send. He even retold some of the stories (Greek Myths) to his kindergarten class during Greek Week. Every morning his classmates would get to hear one of Luke's stories before circle time. He has also developed some of Jim's dramatic flair and imitates the tempo and tenor of his voice. I'll make sure he gives credit when accepting his first Academy Award. -Jeana B.

And We at Greathall Say: Thank you one and all for these letters carrying such cherished validation. We put so much love, time and reflection into our recordings and comments like this are priceless to us. Jeana, we would love credit on Luke's second and third Academy Awards too.

Photo: Visiting historical sites is so fulfilling especially when you have previously studied all about what you are about to see. Here we see Jim visiting Appomattox

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A Recap of April's Storytime Webinar with Jim Weiss

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Perseus and Medusa -- one of the greatest Greek mythological tales was brought to life by master storyteller Jim Weiss this past month in our second, live online Storytime Webinar with Jim.

From the comforts of his studio, Jim conducted a Google Hangout with Greathall guests who watched live in our Youtube Hall.

"All five of us piled into bed to enjoy the story." -Jessica M.

"We had a wonderful movie night -- popcorn and hot cocoa and Jim Weiss. Thank you." -Katrina F.

"Thank you so much. We had a wonderful hour listening to your story together, and I can't even count the times my son said, 'He is just so good at telling stories. I LOVE this." -Alexa C.

The story of "Perseus and Medusa" can be found on our Greek Myths recording.

Photo: Jim greets Webinar guests into his studio in Charlottesville, Virginia

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And Speaking of Perseus and Hercules...

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Here is a letter from Susan S. from Euclid, Ohio who writes:

I wanted to write a little thank you note for what you do. I ordered two of your CDs a couple of weeks ago (Uncle Wiggily and Greek Myths) for my 4 and 2 year olds to listen to on car rides. In the first 2 days we went through Uncle Wiggily at least 4 times! After we listened to that CD over and over again (not just for car we play in the house as well), I brought out the Greek Mythology CD, not knowing if my sensitive 4 year old daughter would be scared of some of the stories or not. Well, who knew that Perseus and Hercules would capture both of their attention so? I am amazed and grateful for what you do. I love listening as much as the girls. We went to the library last week and have listened to Stories from Cultures Far and Near and Animal Tales (my 2 year old LOVES The Tortoise and the Hare). I am afraid to tell them the library will want those CDs back soon.

Pictured here is Greek Myths. We have two other CDs featuring Greek Mythology: She and He: Adventures in Mythology and Heroes in Mytholgy. The Greeks are crucial to understanding ancient history and one can't understand the Greeks without their timeless myths.

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Digital Download Spotlight: Gone West

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A new nation that would stretch from ocean to ocean: this was the dream.  Now, follow this dream into reality, from Jefferson and Monroe arranging the Louisiana Purchase through the bold explorations of Lewis and Clark, and Sacagawea.

Experience the dawning of a new age aboard Robert Fulton's steamboat, and ride the rumbling wagons of the Oregon Trail pioneers. Feel the devastating effects faced by proud native American warriors, and witness the mammoth undertaking of the transcontinental railroad. Journey with the brave souls who hung out the sign, "Gone West."

Download your journey today.

Gone West: Bold Adventures of American Explorers and Pioneers

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Jim Live: Upcoming Schedule of Appearances

Directions  to 368 Penninsula Pointe Lynch Station, Virginia 24571 From Lynchburg: (This drive will take you about 40 minutes) Take 29 South. As you see signs for Jerry Falwell Parkway, 29 South will veer to the right just after passing Liberty University. Take the Alta Vista LEESVILLE LAKE exit-RT

Up close and personal with Jim Weiss is closer to your community than you may think. Each year Jim travels near and far to present live storytelling performances; storytelling/writing workshops, and more.                                   We are currently working on Jim's 2013-14 calendar and we'd love to include your school, homeschool, library or organization. Please contact us for a Performance Packet as soon as you can.

Current dates and places include but are not limited to:

June:                                                                                          13-15 Washington Homeschool Organization Conference, Puyallup, WA                                                                               21-22 Young Scholar Summit, Davidson Institute, Reno, NV        24-26 Core Knowledge Regional Conference, Tempe, AZ                                            16-20 Denver, CO                                                                                                          27-30 California Homeschool Network Conference, Torrance, CA

03  Girl Scout Summer Camp, Oakton, VA
25-27 Valley Home Educators Conference, Modesto, CA

August: In the Studio, Producing Two New Greathall Recordings
Jim has limited time available for additional bookings

14-30 Southern and Northern California Bookings (more to come)
Jim is available for additional bookings in BOTH Northern and Southern CA as well as other locations. Please inquire.

9-16 Ohio/Kentucky Bookings (more to come)
Jim is available for additional bookings in BOTH Ohio and Kentucky as well as other locations. Please inquire.

11-22 Florida! Jim is available for additional bookings throughout Florida as well as other locations. Please inquire.

Please contact us for further information for January-May, 2014. Specific appearances will be posted soon.

Photo: Whenever, wherever Jim Weiss performs, the mood is excited, engaged and oh so happy.

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Ask Jim

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Question For Jim:  Of all the places you have visited in the world, which one is most memorable to you?  -Lori C. from Florida

Jim Replies: The most amazing place I have ever visited is Newgrange, the man-made hill in Ireland, built atop a natural hill, that was the destination of Ossian and Patrick on their walk in our recording, Celtic Treasures.

Newgrange is a 5,000 year old archaeological site, meaning that it was already five centuries old when the Egyptians began building the Great Pyramid. Built to worship the Celtic “sun god", and centuries before the Celts even learned about the wheel, Newgrange's huge stones were carried along rivers by barge for 100 miles, then drawn by ropes up the hill and set by hand to form a second, immense, hollow hill atop the natural hill.

Today, 50 centuries later, the tunnel into the heart of Newgrange remains watertight: you can stand inside the tunnel on the stormiest day of the year without a drop touching you because the builders figured out how to slant the rocks so the water would run off away from the tunnel.

But that is not the most amazing part.  Only on the shortest day of the year, the day of the winter solstice, as the sun rises over the valley, sunlight enters the hollow hill through the opening above Newgrange’s doorway and lights up the entire tunnel into the center of the mound.  We suspect that this purpose was to remind the inhabitants to ask “the sun god” to bring back the days of increasing daylight.  Imagine; they shaped the tunnel precisely to their purpose when they lacked even the most fundamental of tools and measuring devices.  While humans have progressed greatly throughout history, Newgrange reminds us that our ancient ancestors already had the intelligence and will to do amazing things, and should serve as an inspiration for our own creativity.

Photo: Newgrange sits on an emerald green lawn, just as one would imagine when they think of Ireland

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Join our Facebook Hall

We invite you to join our Facebook Hall and connect with Jim on a regular basis. It is a place where thinking families like you come together to share stories and stay up-to-date on Greathall happenings. We are so proud of the organic growth of our Facebook Hall.

If you enjoy this E-Magazine, we know you'll love our Facebook Hall. Please join us today and become part of the conversation.

Photo: How can you not appreciate a man who actually takes pleasure in washing the Virginia red soil off his dog's paws? Please "like" Jim Weiss today.

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* Visit our web site for more information about Greathall storytelling audio recordings and performances by Jim Weiss.

* View back-issues of our newsletter in the Greathall archives.