Saturday, June 22, 2019

College Bound!

My son graduated today.  Homeschooled from Kindergarten, he is truly and finally really done.  The ceremony was huge and amazing.  Hearing his name being announced and seeing him walk across the stage in his cap and gown was something I have dreamed of since forever.

For the last 6 months W was in a free NYC program where he went to "school" 5 days a week for 4 hours a day, which culminated in passing the TASC equivalency exam.  W had fantastic teachers who he raved about daily, got to go on a bunch of field trips, and had the same days off as a public school.  There was even a parent-teacher conference where I spoke with his teachers about what he was learning.  I loved that.  All the teachers loved him and told me how mature and well-spoken he is.  But of course, I knew that, lol.  He will be attending one of the CUNY colleges in the fall - with no red tape or hoops to jump through.

Sorry, but I was dreading the thought of having to create a transcript or course description or any other bullshit documents colleges ask for.  W was unschooled and every subject blended into each other.  I'm not that creative to pull it all apart on a document - my stress level and blood pressure would have gone through the roof.  He had a fun time in that program (no, really) and now has an equivalency legal document that he'll have for the rest of his life.  W is so happy he got to do a 6-month subject review instead of having to endure 4 years of high school.

My unschooled son, who got to follow his passions every day, experience amazing trips and classes, and even overcome dyslexia (didn't even need extra time on the test) has now fully and officially completed high school.  He is so looking forward to college.  I'm so proud of him.

That's it.  My last baby is done.  K, J, & W - thank you for giving me the opportunity to get to homeschool you and talk about it in this blog.  Whether it was for 1, 6, or 13 years, it meant the world to me and I hope it's something you will carry with you for the rest of your life and treasure it.  I sure will.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Another year gone by

And I'm finally posting again.  Life has been wonderful, thank God.  The kids are great, I changed careers completely, and we're all happy and healthy.

That's right.  I left the cable company after 11 years to pursue dental hygiene.  I realized I just couldn't work in sales anymore - I was tired of it and wondered what else I could do for the next 20+ years.  So, last year, over the course of 2 months, I applied and got accepted to college, landed a new job as a dental assistant, quit the cable company, and started the fall semester taking prerequisites for the dental hygiene program.  I LOVE the dental field.  I had no idea how awesome it is.  I wish I'd have come to this realization years ago, but hey, at least I'm in now.  I have taken lab classes - biology, chemistry, and anatomy & physiology, along with statistics, and sociology.  I'm happy to say I have a 4.0 average.  I never did this well in college 30 years ago.  I have 2 more prereqs to take, then it's 2 years of dental hygiene classes.

The girls are pretty much happily settled in their careers.  K is a highly in-demand hair stylist/colorist in a beautiful, busy salon.  She bought her own car a year and a half ago and has been with her boyfriend for almost 8 years.  He recently got into the construction union and all he talks about is marrying my daughter.  They spend their time hiking, visiting wineries and restaurants, and traveling.  Last year they went to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini.   J is a dance teacher at an awesome competition studio and also teaches kickboxing at a nearby gym.  Teaching has become her passion - she still loves the dance competition circuit and would like to always be a part of it.  She has been asked to tour, judge, and teach master classes but hasn't' decided if she will yet.  She's been with her boyfriend for 2 1/2 years and he just got into the electrical union.  These union jobs are so hard to get into, but once you're in, you're set for life.  It's an awesome accomplishment and I'm so proud of them.

W finished 11th grade and I sent in the very last of his paperwork to the city.  I always read other's accounts of how bittersweet this moment is, and yeah, it is.  Because W turned 17 before the end of the school year (June 30), he is officially done with homeschooling.  Of course, he will still have a "senior year", pursuing his interests (as always) and taking his secondary completion test.  He goes to the gym almost every day, has part-time employment, and has grown into the most incredible young man.  Homeschooling has been the best thing.  He has an "old soul" sense of maturity that is noticed and commented on by so many.  He's just about 6 feet tall now and carries himself with confidence.

I don't know what the future holds for him, but it's a really exciting time.  The world is at his doorstep.  His interests range from computers to culinary arts to law enforcement and everything in between.  He still plays the ukulele, harmonica, drums, and piano and has formed amazing friendships over the years.

I started this blog in 2004 when I was thinking about homeschooling J.  J was 8, K was 11, and W was 4.  W has homeschooled since he was 5.  And now, 12 years later, he's all grown up and ready to start his future.  Bittersweet doesn't even begin to describe how I feel.  I will probably post again at least one more time for a final update on all of us.  But for now, I'll say so long.  Thank you to all my subscribers and readers.  These past 14 years blogging have been so great.  I'll miss it.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

10th Grade is Officially Over

W finished up his sophomore year with a bang.  99th percentile on the CAT-E and what seems like a clear goal for his future.  He's always throwing ideas around and researching various careers.  I think he's finally narrowed it down to 2.  We'll see which one wins, lol.

His daily schoolwork has mainly been Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 and a few workbooks that cover literature, poetry, reading comprehension, analysis, grammar, writing, vocabulary, and analogies.  I don't worry about his writing.  He hasn't really had much formal teaching in that area, but a few weeks ago he wrote essay-type answers to a bunch of questions in order to be chosen as an administrator on a popular gaming server.  It looked awesome to me, although I have no idea about any of that stuff.  Needless to say, he got the position.  It reminds me of how J always got As on her English reports in high school, even though she, too, had no formal writing instruction.  It still fascinates me how such a common-sense concept like child-led homeschooling delivers unbelievably amazing results.

All Science and History is done with short novels, documentaries, website research, and field trips. Last week, he and a new homeschooling friend made plans for us to see a show called Dark Universe at the Hayden Planetarium.  This fit in nicely with what's on the agenda for the upcoming school year - and we had a great time.  The show was awesome.  We'll be reviewing some Physical Science and Life Science, filling in whatever gaps we come across, and then focus mainly on Earth & Space Science. History will include some review but mainly focus on US History (from the Civil War to the 1970s), World History (1750 to the end of the 20th Century), Civics & Government, Geography,  and Economics.

W is still learning new things on the ukulele and has taken a renewed interest in the piano, teaching himself to read music and learn full songs with intricate chords (from YouTube), hanging up his drumsticks for now. If he sticks with piano, I'll have no problem starting him on formal lessons if he wants. The kid can really sing, too. Maybe another career choice??

The owner of K's hair salon is on maternity leave, so K is running the place by herself. She's really working so hard. She has a few weeks off in September and she and her boyf planned a trip to Greece. I wish I would have had even half that drive and determination when I was her age.

J is still teaching dance. Her studio just had their recitals and J will start teaching a bunch of summer classes in a couple of weeks. She was in another music video that was released yesterday, as one of the back-up dancers. Oh, and her 21st birthday is quickly approaching. How did my girls become adults so fast?

Oh, and I did get to keep my new work schedule.  It's been working out wonderfully.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

16 Months to Go

I'm sorry I haven't updated in a while.  Life is just going and going and all is well.  Most things that were happening last summer are still happening.

W is still taking drum lessons (and has an awesome electronic drum kit now), he's still playing the ukulele, and just got his sister's old guitar restrung and is teaching himself how to play that, too.  He's still going to Muay Thai several times a week and just trained with a pro from Thailand who is visiting the gym this month.

After experimenting with various career ideas, I think he's finally settled on sticking with something in the computer field.   I mean, it's something at which he's always been a natural and I truly believe a great career comes with doing what you love.  It's been true for my girls.  So, for the next year-and-a-half, W's plan is to cover the remainder of what is required according to the regs.  We have everything he needs for all the major subjects and he gets it all done on his own terms.  Since W turns 17 in March of 2018, that will be his final year of reporting to the city and also his final year of homeschooling.  That spring he will take his final CAT-E, that summer he will take the TASC, and that fall he will get ready to start his post-secondary education, which should hopefully be sometime in 2019.  He has a few ideas on where he wants to go but wants to research a little more before he makes a decision.  Having some sort of game plan really helps with organization.  He seems to have it all together and I can't be more proud and excited for him.

I am trying out the afternoon/evening shift at my job so I can get more done in the mornings.  With the early shift, I'm so dead tired in the evenings and just feel like hitting the pillow when I get home at 7:15pm.  This trial has been great because I wake up around 8:30 and start the day.  I'm so wide awake and have the time to have 2 cups of coffee, eat breakfast, clean, exercise, and sing at the funerals at my church a few times a month.  My favorite thing, though, is having more time to get schoolwork done with W.  He gets most stuff done on his own now, but still prefers some help and guidance from me.  :)  .   I feel way more productive at work later in the day, too.  I leave just before noon and get home by 10.  I love it.  I hope I get the ok to keep this new schedule permanently.

My girls are still doing what they do.  K is back in Queens working in a posh, appointment-only salon.  She and the owner run the place together and do weddings and other parties on the weekends. K also just bought her first car - a beautiful, 2015, white, fully-loaded Jeep Cherokee.  It's awesome.  J has been teaching dance at a couple of studios and going on auditions here and there.  They are both happy and love what they do.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Second Year of High School

I love August.  It's just another month closer to autumn!  And it's the time I get everything ready for the new school year.  10th grade is upon us and W's IHIP is mailed.

W started taking drum lessons a few weeks ago.  He's always wanted to, but I couldn't figure out the practicality of it as we live in a small apartment.  But I just found out there are electronic drum sets that hardly make any noise - but sound like a full drum set when headphones are on!  He tried a set out at the music store, so we'll probably pick one up one of these days.  For now, he uses a drum pad to practice on.  His other interests lately revolve around current events, politics, health, fitness, art, playing the ukulele, Muay Thai, computer gaming, and all types of engineering (computer, mechanical, construction, environmental, etc. - I feel like this is the path he's meant to take, but we'll see).

We're going to continue with our Great Restaurant Adventure this year.  We still plan on getting to all 70 cuisines by the end of his senior year.  Also this year I'm going to try and get back into field trips.  Last year he really wasn't into going to same old places, so I plan on finding some cool things places to go this year all around NYC.

We have already started the new school year.  With my working full time, W does some light academic stuff on his own during the week - mainly the English workbooks, math review pages, and history readings. On my days off we spend a few hours on new math lessons, science reading, lab work, and more English and history. 

High school is a breeze so far.  W knows what he has to do to get into his colleges of choice, so he does it.  He makes goals and does what he needs to achieve them.  I truly believe that this kind of determination, independence, and maturity is what comes from 10 years of unschooling.  And yes, our unschooling has always included curriculum.  The kids prefer it, ask for it, help pick it out, and do it on their own terms.  No stress, no hassles.

Here's some of what he's using this year:

Life of Fred High School Language Arts Series (3 books done, 1 left)
Daily Paragraph Editing (still the best thing ever)
501 Reading Comprehension Questions, 5th ed. (we're trying a few new things for English) 
Painless Reading Comprehension, 3rd ed.
Vocabulary & Spelling Success in 20 Minutes a Day 
Math U See Geometry (he asked for something different and likes it so far)
Short Lessons in World History, 4th ed.  (quick and easy)
Apologia Biology, 2nd ed. with all labs (secularly)

Once again, I'm looking forward to a wonderful school year.  Watching W turn into this amazing adult (he's over 5'11" now!) is the most incredible thing.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Freshman Year is Done!

Ok, so the first year homeschooling high school wasn't bad at all.  W sailed through all the major subjects and a ton of minor ones.  He scored in the 94th percentile on this years standardized test.  The funny thing is that his best scores were in the reading and language arts sections.  4 years ago his reading was categorized as "severely impaired".  Now he's like a whole different person.  I swear it was the one-on-one intense (but fun), daily, multi-sensory, reading-focused education we did for a couple of years that did it.  Schools just can't do that.  He is reading, writing essays for admin and volunteer positions, and types faster than I do.  Paragraph editing workbooks are the best for him - so much gets learned in one 10-minute exercise, and the proof was on the test.

We scaled way back on the outings - probably because we did so many for so many years.  He's not a museum person.  He's more of a yard sale, flea market, reptile expo, comic-con, movies, restaurant, theater person.  So those have been the bulk of the outings this year.  He's still going to Muay Thai class 2-3x a week and assists at the kids classes 1-2x a week

The sophomore year plan is pretty basic:  Biology, World History (continued), Geometry, and English (literature, vocabulary, & composition).  Other subjects will be interest-based like:  PE, Art, Music, Technology, Health, and a few electives.  W also wants to get in some SAT and TASC prep.  We'll be starting this month.

Don't forget to get your IHIP and Metrocard form in before the end of August.  Heave a great summer everyone!

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Spring 2016

W celebrated his 15th birthday 2 months ago and with that, a new interest in the medical field.  If that ends up being the direction he wants to go, then I'm glad he figured it out now.  It's a good age to get things going.  I just ordered a high school biology program and microscope for him and he can't wait to get started on it.  The other subjects are still moving along the same.  He's been continuing with his language arts program and paragraph editing books, and math is currently a bit informal.  He's reviewing Algebra 1 for the CAT-E he's taking next month.  After the exam we're going to start doing TT Algebra 2 and science in the evenings together when I get home from work.  I got new US and world history books and we'll start on those, too.

W has chosen his entire curriculum and schedule based on what he needs for his immediate future, college readiness, and career plans.  He is such a great example of how unschooling works. Now that he's seriously considering what his future could be, he knows how to take charge and get things in order.  As always, I facilitate, encourage, and make suggestions/recommendations to help move things along but he has such a strong sense of independence and maturity and goal-setting that I don't really need to do much.  Homeschooling high school is so incredible.  I'm amazed at what I'm seeing with W.

He's also in full volunteering mode lately.  2-3 times a week he works with the beginner and intermediate kids' classes at the Muay Thai gym.  He takes his own classes 3x a week as well.

And we checked off 2 more cuisines on our Great Restaurant Adventure!  Brazil and Britain.  I'll make separate posts about those.

J is graduating from her dance conservatory at the end of the month.  B and I got to see a couple of awesome showcase performances this semester.  She has been working at a major competition dance studio this year teaching and choreographing 5 different classes and age-groups of non-comp kids.  I really want to see the recital - J is also in a teacher's dance number.  Other than that, she's been modeling, getting head-shots, and getting ready for the real performance world.

K has moved on from the upscale hair salon in Queens to a more upscale salon in Manhattan.  This is what she was waiting for.  It's right in the Theater District just north of Times Square.  She went on a really nice vacation with her boyfriend to Punta Cana last month.  It was her first one requiring a passport.  Both girls also just got their driver's licenses together - not very necessary in NYC, but handy nonetheless.

It's so fun watching the kids becoming independent, successful, and happy adults who follow their dreams and love their lives.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another Year Gone By

I know it's been a while since I posted but things around here have been so busy.  I started working full-time in September and that has been a bit of an adjustment.  I's great now, though.  W has fallen into his new routine nicely.  He's covering a lot of stuff for ninth grade:  Algebra 2, Life Science, Earth Science, World History, US History, Language Arts, Literature, Music, Art, Physical Fitness, and Computer Science.  I make a list of what he should read and do and he does it.  I check it in the evenings and we do other subjects together when I'm home.  He is hell-bent on keeping up with his subjects so he can get into highly selective colleges on scholarship.  These are his goals and I couldn't be prouder.

He's using various curriculum and resources for the main subjects.  Rounding out his education are the following:
  • 90-minute Muay Thai classes 3x a week.  
  • In-depth study and research on 2D animation (incl.  cartooning, technique, biographies, and careers).  He's flying through sketchbooks and artist pens and using a few animation software programs
  • Mastering the tenor ukulele and now he has added piano and electric guitar to his current interests.  He's requested formal lessons which will probably start in January or February.

J has gotten all As again this semester.  She is teaching every Saturday at a local competition dance studio, and she is still assisting and doing many projects with a big choreographer (including a flash mob you can see HERE).

K is still at her beautiful, upscale, very busy salon doing what she loves.  

We saw the tree again at Rockefeller Plaza, visited our beloved Toys R Us in Times Square for the last time (they're closing), and saw my husband's rock band play at The Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, The Cutting Room in Murray Hill, and Left Field's in the Lower East Side.

We had a wonderful Christmas this year.  We were all together decorating our new stockings on Christmas Eve with glitter, glue, and fabric paint.  We slept at home for first time in years and it was great.  I got my annual bronchitis/laryngitis Christmas week, so I had to miss the choir carols and mass singing this year.  But it's ok and should clear up by next week.  Christmas morning we opened all our gifts and got to my mom's in Long Island around 11:30am.  She had a huge brunch waiting for us.  My sister and step-sister and family all were there too and then we had another round of presents opening.  We got to MIL's house at around 6:30pm and B's whole family was there.  More food and more presents were waiting for us.  This whole holiday season was so stress free.  That's my new way of life, I've decided.  I found THIS today and it sums up exactly how I live now.

Life is so wonderful.  I feel blessed beyond belief.  I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!!

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Still unschooling, still loving it.

Here's what unschooling has looked like over the past month:
  • Going to a Not-Back-to School teen homeschool picnic on the beach
  • Learning and trying to master the soprano ukulele
  • A new interest (and a whole lot of research) in digital animation
  • A day spent at the Museum of the City of New York and Times Square
  • Really enjoying the Life of Fred high school language arts series books and paragraph editing workbooks.  
  • A day spent playing dodge ball and laser tag ending with a sleepover
  • The almost daily routine of W thanking me for homeschooling him (lol)
  • A new tenor ukulele
  • Hanging out at Dave & Buster's with his friends
  • Researching nutrition and whole-food living
  • A new interest (and a whole lot of research) in music editing
Life is more fun than ever lately.  W is probably the most happy and content person I know.  He's been doing the dishes, keeping his room clean, reading a lot, doing his workbooks, and enjoying his life so much.  He usually gets this way, feeling all grateful and satisfied when he see other kids having to go off to school in September.

He's been doing a lot, including starting to take public transportation by himself.  His sisters were 14 when they were taking the trains and buses alone, so he's right in line with that.  We just got his student Metrocards last week, too.  He met a friend at the Rockefeller Plaza Nintendo store and they took a train and bus to Brooklyn.  He's my last baby and it's hard letting go.  Independence and maturity go hand-in-hand with homeschooling, so I'm not worried.

J has been assisting her choreographer all summer, teaching weekly classes at a dance studio, and performing.  A new up-and-coming artist saw her dance on her choreographer's Instagram and asked him if she could be his background dancer at a showcase in Manhattan.  What an amazing opportunity!  She performed with this artist a couple of weeks later at the Highline Ballroom down in Chelsea.  Move-in day at AMDA is this week and we're getting ready.  It's her second year and she's so excited.  This should be a very interesting year for her.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer Days

As soon as it gets over 80 degrees, I prefer to stay indoors with my AC on.  I tolerated the heat a lot better when I was younger, but now I just don't want to deal with it at all.  We don't have the beach house anymore - that's where summer was always wonderful.  I took advantage of the fact that it was a 5-minute walk down to the beach.  Now I'd have to drive about 30 minutes and never feel like it's worth it.  Well, my countdown to September and the cooler weather has officially begun.  :)

The end of the school year brought with it a prom for the NY homeschooled teens!  It took place down in SoHo at the end of June.  W and 7 of his friends went in a limo together.  The kids were all so beautifully dressed.  W even kept his jacket and bow tie on all night.  There was music and food and everyone said it was so fun. The total turnout was around 75 kids.  What a great success.  Well done to the teens who put it all together!  W and a few other kids had a sleepover afterwards and he spent the next day back in Manhattan trying out a few teen classes.  A few of his friends have been going to them all year and he wanted to see if they were something he'd like to do in the fall.  He's still not sure yet, but we have time.

I feel so stress-free about his high school years.  A plan is in place and he's happy with it.  There are goals and he's working toward them.  I believe that to be the key to happiness and fulfillment and success.  

Since J has been home from college, she has been busy.  She worked on another music video last month, shooting in a various locations, she's been mixing and cutting music for her choreographer's classes, assisting him at master classes and with company choreo at different studios, learned a tap duet 2-days before performing it in a recital in Long Island, and landed a perfect summer job.  She also turned 19 last week!  I can't get over how fast time flies.  K has also been busy.  She's building a nice-sized clientele at the salon (and she gave J gorgeous blond highlights for the summer, too).  Five months so far at her job and she still finds it awesome.

So, as the summer thankfully is starting wind down, I find myself excited about autumn.  Not just the cooler weather, but J's new year at school and W's unschooled teen years.  As my kids get older I realize there is not much I can write about their lives in a blog.  Hence, these updates will be more along the lines of several times a year or so.  I'm still answering lots of email questions and doing my best to help newbies to the NY homeschool life (  I enjoy that, so keep 'em coming, lol.  

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Almost Summer

At the adventure park
In the past month, W has done some really fun things.  We had 2 homeschool get-togethers at a large state park, went to an "adventure park" where the kids are harnessed high above the ground and have to go over rope and stick bridges and get to zip-line, and our good old standby:  The NY Hall of Science.  W just woke up and felt like going there again.  I'm always willing to take him there since it's free for us and because, well, it's science.

So speaking of intrinsic motivation, this week, after looking at and discussing colleges and plans for the future, W has decided he'd like to continue with daily formal academics.  I told him I hope he's not saying that for me.  I'm fine with however he'd like to "do school".  But he said he realized that there's no way he's not going to do everything he can to ace all the tests he has to take and get into his college of choice.  So we came up with yet another weekly schedule for the rest of 8th grade and through the summer.  After pulling out every single resource we have in the house and having him go through everything he has decided to continue using Saxon Algebra 1 (he loves Saxon), a couple of Barron's "Painless" series books, and a reading comprehension workbook.  This sounds fine to me.  I'll go along with whatever he wants to do.  Knowing his track record, this all may change next week.  But then again, HE is doing all the picking, choosing, and scheduling, so we'll see.

Another new thing going on is that W has been getting really serious about exercise, fitness, and nutrition. This, along with his ongoing interest in computer engineering, our restaurant adventure, lots of field trips, and interest-based academics, will keep him plenty busy all summer.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unschooling and High School

So as we revert back to a more natural, organic education for W, I can honestly say my anxiety about the teen years has lessened tremendously.  When he originally came to me requesting a more formal curriculum and schedule (about 6 years ago, following J's lead), I was hesitant, but obliged.  I know he wants to want the structure, but the older he got, the less willing he was to follow through.  I felt I was the one who needed to push and prod and dare I say "coerce" him into doing his work several days a week as we'd planned.  Well, it made us both miserable and I won't do that anymore.

I mean, it really doesn't make sense.  If there is no intrinsic motivation to learn something, then there won't be much learning taking place.  I feel it's a huge waste of time and energy for the sole purpose of checking off a box that "it got done".  But the checked box is a ruse because most of the info covered is usually forgotten in only a few days.  How is that ok?  That's not learning.

In the few months since we have started unschooling, W has done more academically than ever before.  He asked to have my new tablet (that I'm not using) and if I could download certain books on it for him.  I think this is the first time in his life he expressed any interest in reading a book.  He has rekindled interests in piano, cooking, bike riding, and building.  He is in the process of building a skateboard (long board) from scratch.  When W finds something of interest, there's no stopping his research.  For example, the other day B was wondering what other foods the bearded dragon could eat.  W spent over an hour on various websites, taking notes, and following the many rabbit trails pertaining to overall bearded dragon care.  I guarantee he won't be forgetting any of it.

He's also started thinking about college.  As a matter of fact, we sat down together researching colleges, majors, requirements, and what he'd like to do for high school.  We also looked at trade-schools, graduate schools, and what kinds of jobs and careers fit his current interests.  The 4-year (tentative) high school plan is set and I haven't felt this relaxed about anything in my life.  It includes projects, research, reading, standardized tests, college-level classes, volunteering, apprenticeships, employment, field trips, restaurants, and homeschool group classes.

It's all about intrinsic motivation.  I believe it's the real key to a happy, meaningful, and productive life.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Great Restaurant Adventure #4: Bangladesh

Today we went out to Jackson Heights, Queens for some Bangladeshi food.  A lot of the restaurants in that area are buffet style and you kind of have to know what things are.  We have no idea what's what, so we decided to go with our favorite cart food - Sammy's - on 73rd Street and Broadway.  They have this incredible chicken over rice with salad and white sauce.  They even won the highly coveted Vendy Award.  It's very South Asian, but I'm not sure if we could say it was specifically Bangladeshi.

There's always a line (pic from yelp)

Sooo, we stopped in an authentic Bangladeshi restaurant called Khaabar Baari to grab some dessert.  Thankfully, they were all in the glass counter up front and we were able to ask what they were, lol.  W and I chose little milk sweets.  One was called "sandesh" and the other was a type of "ras malai".  We ate them in the car on the way home.  They were sweet, milky-cheesy tasting and crumbly.  Really yummy.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Brag Post

My children never cease to amaze me and make me proud.

A year ago, K had just started beauty school.  Within a month of graduating, she landed a position in an upscale styling salon (while still continuing to work as a server in an ale house near home).

She took her cosmetology practical state board exam on Monday and on Wednesday she got the email that she passed.  On Saturday (on a whim) she decided to update her resume and called a bigger and better salon closer to home.  They told her to come in for an interview and had her demonstrate a hair blowout.  The ad required 3 years experience, but they were so impressed by her skills, they hired her on the spot!  She was not expecting to get hired so quickly.  She's not even starting as an assistant - she's going in as a full hairdresser/hairstylist.  Cuts, color, highlights, treatments, everything.

J is getting all As and Bs in school.She is pushing herself beyond any limit she's ever had to go through.  She's memorizing scenes, learning to lose her Queens accent, singing more than ever, and dancing more than 20 hours a week.  She auditioned for and made it into the school-wide tap showcase.  Only 10 kids were chosen and she was picked to be in a trio. I can't wait to see this performance.  She has adjusted so well to living on her own.  They don't do meal plans there, so she grocery shops and cooks her own food, does her own laundry, and is never late for, nor missed a class.  She keeps her dorm room super clean and it seems to be the room all her friends hang out in.

She is also still assisting a major choreographer on the weekends.  She travels with him all around the tri-state area to different studios teaching master classes, competition solos and group numbers, and special recreational classes.  She is an incredible teacher.

I am constantly in awe of their confidence, maturity, independence, and fierce determination.  This has made them both stand out in almost every situation.  I truly believe homeschooling had a huge hand in this.

W seems to be on that same path.  He knows what he wants, he is focused and determined, and already independent and confident.  He has overcome almost all of his visual processing issues and dyslexia.  Looking at the diagnostic report from just 3 years ago, you wouldn't know it was the same kid.  I see a great future for him as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Happy Birthday!

I think the freezing cold, snowy NYC winter is finally ending.  I love the cold and the winter, but the snow became too much.  We still got out of the house a lot, though.  W has been meeting up with his friends for go-karts, laser tag and dodge ball, bowling, and for some cool classes, including a seal necropsy at the Riverhead Aquarium.

That was an awesome experience.  A seal was found in the Bellport Harbor (Long Island), having died of some unknown cause.  It was taken to the aquarium and put in a freezer.  It was thawed out for the teens to perform an autopsy on it.  After a few kids started cutting open the skin, they measured its blubber layer.  Then, using scalpels, they got most of the skin off and broke through the breastbone.  The organs looked good.  The instructor cut open the heart to see if there was heartworm (which seals can get just like dogs can).  Then she spent a few minutes feeling the lungs for any parasites or disease.  When she opened the stomach we saw a lot of sand and rocks in there.  This is what killed the seal.  When seals are stressed they eat things they're not supposed to.  It was sad to think the seal was stressed for any reason, but seals really don't belong in Bellport Harbor - or anywhere in Long Island, really.  It was so cool for W to experience a bit of what veterinarians and forensic workers do.  

W made his Confirmation last week!   11 years of catechism classes and now he's got 4 sacraments under his belt.  He started classes at 2 years old since he begged to go - and the third child was free,   It's going to be weird not having classes anymore, but he's glad to have reached the end.  The ceremony was wonderful.  J was his sponsor and went up with him as he got the chrism oil.  At his Christening, his father and I answered questions from the priest on what we believe.  At Confirmation, W was asked the same questions from the bishop and was able to answer for himself.  It's such a beautiful full circle.  We all went out for a great lunch afterwards.  The next day W turned 14.  The years really went by quickly.  8th grade will be over in 3 months and he'll begin his high school years. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sample Quarterly Report (8th Grade)

Quarterly Report  #3                                        2014-2015

Jan 31, 2015 to Apr 15, 2015
Apr 15, 2015
Child's Name
NYC Student ID:  ___________________ (optional)
DOB:  ____________         Grade Level:  8
Address:  ___________________________________
________ is progressing at a satisfactory level or above in all subject matter. He has had instruction in all subjects listed in Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education and as outlined in ________’s Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). The following table lists some of his many resources and experiences this quarter:

  • Holt Science & Technology: Physical Science (Holt, Rhinehart, & Winston - Harcourt Education Company, 2007) Units 3-5, Chapters 10-16
  • Saxon Math Algebra 1: An Incremental Development, 3rd edition (John H. Saxon, Jr. - Saxon Publishers Inc., 2003)  Lessons 41-75
  • Story of the World 4:  The Modern Age (Susan Wise Bauer, 2005)  Chapters 1-15
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends (Shel Silverstein, 1974)
  • Weekly religious education classes, retreat, & Sacrament of Confirmation
  • Field Trips/Outside Classes:   Washington D.C.  - 2 days of sightseeing and visiting local TV station. Department of Homeland Security (26 Federal Plaza, NY) - 5 hour class and presentation.   National Weather Service at Brookhaven National Lab (Upton, NY) - 2 hour class.   NY Hall of Science (Corona, NY) - free exploration.   Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY) - 2 hour class and tour.   UMake Lab (Massapequa, NY) - "Into to 3D modeling & 3D Printing"
  • Community Service:  40+ hours of volunteer work for ___________ (fundraising, delivering supplies, etc. for animal shelters and rescues in Queens and Long Island)  

_________ has covered at least 80% of the planned material for this quarter.  He has had no absences from  instruction this quarter and has exceeded the required hours of instruction (247.5).                              

Parent Signature  


Ok, so it's basically the same quarterly I've always used, but with a little extra detail. I've always said that my sample IHIP is just a general outline of what you "may or may not" be using this year. This new quarterly states what you've actually used and some great educational things you did. I still believe that no one at the district office cares about the awesome homeschooly things you do and that that they are there for the sole reason of checking off a box, but these quarterlies are great for your own records, portfolios, scrapbooks, etc.  And I think it looks pretty cool, too.

I am fully aware that it's not necessary (i.e. in the NY State Regulations) to include some of the information I've included in this new quarterly, but it's just a sample and it covers just about all the bases. It should satisfy even the strictest districts. Plus, it still only takes a few minutes to write up and it's still less than a page long. This is how I'll be doing mine from now on.

p.s. If you'd like to use this sample for grades 1-6, remember that the required hours of instruction are 225 per quarter, not 247.5.

p.p.s.  I create it in Google Documents using tables and shading, then save as a PDF.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Science, Weapons, and Weather

My homeschool groups are so active and I'm seeing so many amazing classes and trips for teens.  It's so great to see how many homeschoolers in this age group are out there.  Just within the last few months I've seen classes being given for pottery, creative writing, tennis, philosophy, science lab, robotics, debate, string theory, non-fiction writing, drawing, psychology, glass working, comedy improv, ethics, American history, chemistry, digital photography, chess, cooking, ancient civilizations, rhetoric, fencing, video production, song writing, and a ton more.  Plus list upon list of classes for teens (homeschooled or otherwise) given at various museums, galleries, labs, theaters, and parks.  The choices are almost overwhelming (in a good way).  We may not get to very many of them, but knowing they're there is great.  I love my city.

We made a visit to the NY Hall of Science last week.  We haven't been there in so long.  Now that I'm back at my old job, I (we) have the corporate membership to everything again.  They redid the place.  The lower level is all maker, DIY, and lab stuff now.  They have better hours than they used to, too.

Two great homeschool group trips were held this week.  In the first, we were part of a wonderful class at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was on weapons used throughout the world from the Sumerians and Assyrians to World War I.  Our instructor is a homeschool mom and also a college professor of history.  You can tell by the way she put everything together (the handout, the tour, the topics) and by the way she spoke that she truly loves history.  Anything becomes so much more engaging when taught by a person so passionate about it.

Met Museum

The other trip this week was to the National Weather Service at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.  This is the office where all of the weather alerts, warnings, and advisories come from.  They are in constant contact with the mayor, schools chancellor, and all the major local tv and radio stations.  They are present for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New Years Eve in Times Square and for events at Met Life Stadium.  We discussed so many things about weather, including the upcoming snow storms, the major hurricanes our area had, and the recent tornado watches.  We got to see the main area where several people were monitoring a number of computers, televisions, barometric pressure-readers, and satellites, and clocks (set to "z-time").  Our guide was a meteorologist who also does outreach.

National Weather Service at the Brookhaven National Lab

National Weather Service

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Homeland Security

I can't say enough good things about the field trip W and our homeschool group went on the other day.  It was to Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan to learn all about the Dept. of Homeland Security.  They created a beautiful outreach program for us - as we were their first "school" group visiting ever.  First we got to hear about a couple of agents' "day in the life".  A PowerPoint presentation on the department's history and current goings on was next.  Each slide was so incredibly fascinating.  We learned about terrorism, border patrol, drug smuggling, human trafficking, customs and immigration, TSA, cyber crimes, counterfeiting and property rights, and so much more.

Two federal agents from JFK Airport came in with their German Shepherds to talk about the K9 unit there.  The dogs sniff out drugs and currency.   They did a demonstration for us, too.  The dogs are very well cared for and loved and will only work for that one agent - who gets the dog while the dog is still in training school.  Various dogs are used and they are found at all the international airports.

Then a FEMA agent came in to discuss what they do and he brought a whole team of FEMA Corps volunteers in with him.  FEMA Corps is a group of 18-24 year-olds who spend 10 months traveling around the country together to help with emergency preparedness.  Some kids were taking a year off between high school and college and this earns them some credits and scholarship money.  Other kids already graduated college and were in FEMA Corps to gain work skills and figure out what they want to do.  One guy was an EMT, a few deal with the social media part, all have CPR training, all do some office work, etc.  These 10 kids comprised one team, but there are dozens of teams around the country.

Every topic was so interesting.  The kids asked so many intelligent, mature questions that the presentation started to head into its 5th hour.  I've never seen 13 & 14 y/os so enthralled by anything like this.  The agents seemed very impressed by how smart and well-behaved these kids were.  Our group of 6 teens and parents (so happy we could sit in!) are so grateful to the Department for having us and teaching us so many things we never realized.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

It's All About Simplicity

What I'm coming to realize about homeschooling a teenager (well, mine, anyway) is that a lot of their education and learning and academics has to be very "organic".  It has to encompass the whole child through a more natural, environmental approach.  We can have all these seemingly wonderful varying pieces of curriculum that promise to be the best laid out or the one kids like most, but if there's no true understanding, then it's a waste of money and time.  There has to be an interest or at least some sort of meaningful context for anything to be understood, absorbed, and applied.  And learning, like almost everything else in the world, usually turns out better the simpler we make it.

W has led his education since the beginning.  I have always followed along, providing him with the resources he needs and coming up with various experiences, opportunities, and suggestions for him to foster his interests and learning.  It's so fun this way - and effective.  I research and suggest a lot and he's actually happy to try anything.  Some things stick and some things suck and we toss it.  We both still learn from things we toss - even if it's just not to use something like that again, lol.

The outside experiences and free time are what's really filling out W's education.  It's been getting better and better the older he gets.  Exploring Manhattan, getting together with the other homeschooled teens a few times a week for parkour and other activities, traveling, fundraising for animal shelters with his friends, building his computer, our restaurant adventure, and getting ready for several things in the works are what's making him who he is.  And every year will have more and more things for him to be a part of.

As far as formal academics are concerned, math, science, poetry, and computer coding have been the favorites for the last few weeks.  The other night W spent 3 hours creating a ton of computer code to create a really cool tic-tac-toe game.  He taught himself.  It has a lot of detail and was really fun to play.  Math and science he's just really good at, so it makes him enjoy it more.  History, literature, and writing are subjects that are slightly more informal.  The rest of this year will be spent on basic US History, U.S. geography, and U.S. government.  Lit has been a mix of poetry and modern and classic short stories.  Writing is usually done every day, in context to what's W's into or doing at the moment.  The funny thing is that we're getting more of these subjects done this way than when I had them scheduled.  Go figure.

I just did a huge book purge getting rid of everything I know we won't use at all.  My china cabinet now just has a row of reading books, a row of high school and reference books, and a row of notebooks, paper, & art supplies.  It's calming to be more organized.  Also, December is a big clutter clean-out month for me.  I want it beautiful for the holidays, so I minimize as much as I can.  Once January comes, I get back on track with my usual week, including resuming our Restaurant Adventure.

K is loving her job at the SoHo salon.  It's better than she could imagine.  She turned 21 a couple of weeks ago and we're going to see Aladdin on Broadway together next week (B and I got her 2 tickets for her birthday and she said she wanted to go with me - Yay!).  J so far enjoys her new part-time job.  She's working 3 days a week, which I think is perfect for her.  She was just on TV last night in the background of this new reality show on TruTV.  I kept pausing the show and taking a picture whenever she was shown, lol.  I'm back with my old company and happier than ever!  It's in a different location and the job is very similar to what I was doing for 7 years.  It's closer to my house, too.  My old supervisor and manager are there, along with about a dozen of my old coworkers.  I'm working evenings, 25 hours a week.

My blog is 10 years old this month.  Crazy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keeping Busy

W just got back from a trip to Washington DC with one of his best friends and his family.  He had a blast and took a lot of pictures.  His friend founded an animal charity and was in DC to be on a local news broadcast.  W really enjoyed being in the TV studio and getting to watch how everything works.  They got to see the White House and the Washington Monument as well.

Parkour has been going really well.  W is in a weekly class with other teens (and some younger kids).  He has a lot of fun and loves the whole idea of what parkour is.  It's his 2nd or 3rd year going.  Speaking of teens, a bunch of homeschooled teens are starting to get together every week at a different venue.  Last week they hung out for hours at Dave & Buster's and they went to an indoor trampoline place this week  A few weeks ago they did a fundraiser/Halloween party for the animal charity at a local roller skating rink/arcade.  I love that there are so many NY teenagers homeschooling.  W has a really great group of friends.

B, W, and I went to a high school open house last week.  W has no intention of attending high school, but he wanted to satisfy his curiosity about what it was.  We went to the morning open house - while school was in session - to get a good idea of the school day.  He had no shyness asking questions about their math curriculum (lol) and they seemed pretty surprised at his interest.  Then we went on a tour of the building.  Less than half-way through W was ready to leave.  The kids were loud and show-offy in the hallways when they changed classes, the classrooms were small and dark, and he found out the day is really long (7:20am to after 4pm).  He was totally unimpressed and it solidified his decision to continue homeschooling.  I think the only thing he liked was that they have a personal chef who provides a really varied menu and salad bar for the kids.  We finished the morning having a wonderful brunch at IHOP.

J met up with her choreographer and assisted him at a dance studio in New Jersey for 2 days last weekend.  She's so happy to be going to college in NYC so she can continue to assist-teach and still see all her friends (and us!) whenever she wants.  She also landed a part-time job in a retail store near her dorm!  It's her first retail job and they gave her the hours she asked for.  K did not like the Upper East Side salon, and subsequently got a new job at a salon the West Village.  She is so much happier here and I'm proud of her for not settling and for staying on the lookout for something more ideal.