Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Today was payday so that's when I balance the checkbook and pay the bills. J helped me today by logging in all the transactions from the past 2 weeks, seeing if the balances match with what the bank showed, and finding where a miscalculation was in order to get the balances equal. She saw how a bill was laid out - what we owe, how they calculate that amount, account numbers, and mailing addresses (with 9-digit zip codes). She learned how to write a check, how it gets cashed, and how it comes out of our account. She asked about budgeting, saving, debt, deposits, and withdrawals. An hour of that wasn't enough for her, so I promised she can do his with me every 2 weeks. After that she took her 2 books on science experiments and wrote down the names of the ones she'd like to try - which was almost all of them. She suggested we do 2 science experiments a week. I think I can swing that. She opened MS Word to make me a list of my daily routines. She's very good with the different font styles and sizes. She used the numbering button to number the items, too. While I was cleaning up a bit, she found "The Prince and the Pauper" and read a few pages. (insert very quiet WOOHOO here as not to jinx this spontaneous book interest)

I had another doc appointment today. MIL wasn't around so I brought J and W with me. He tried to drain the swelling but not much liquid came out (eeww, gross, I know). He said it was normal but wants to keep an eye on it so I go back agin on Friday. The final pathology report is "lymph node benign follicular hyperplasia". It's not cancer so I don't care what it is. Actually it means that lymph nodes function as "filters" for any foreign body. If there is an infection, surgery, trauma etc. lymph nodes may react and become enlarged. Sometimes they stay enlarged. But it's still dangerous to ignore it because it may become malignant over time.

When we came out of the doctor's office we stopped in a $.99 store and I found some cool stuff: a yard of heavy clear plastic they cut for me (to use for a tablecloth), an Abercrombie tank top, a long-handled stainless-steel pasta strainer, and several pairs of size-4 boys underwear for $1 each). The dollar store is the best thing in the world. We wandered a couple of blocks and ended up in a cute Colombian restaurant for lunch. We sat in a very large wooden booth next to a vertically open window while music in Spanish was playing. There was a language barrier, so I left it up to the waiter to choose our lunch. He brought us a huge plate of seasoned chicken pieces and gave us each a plate of rice. He brought the kids a mango-and-milk smoothie with ice, and I asked for a Diet Coke. Perfect (and cheap!). J and W were so well behaved and we all just LOVED the food. The woman who made the smoothies came over and asked if we would like some ketchup. Ketchup?? Of course W wanted some and said the rice tasted good that way. We doggie-bagged what was left and bought a smoothie to bring to K who we picked up from school right after that.

After we picked up K we headed to the pet shop to buy another bird. The kids wanted one right away - and I guess I do too. There's a huge void that needs to be filled, and a new baby bird does tend to lessen the grief. We stared at the cages for 20 minutes searching for the right one. We chose a green and yellow parakeet who was very young and very playful. He's already incredibly tame and sat on K's belly, eating seeds off her shirt. They named him "Tyler".

Monday, May 30, 2005

Our beloved parakeet died yesterday. He was playing on the floor and J accidentally stepped on him and broke his back. She is overwhelmed with grief as we all are. This bird was more like a dog than a bird. He was affectionate and cuddly, giving kisses to everyone. He could say "hi baby" and copy our whistles. He ate off our plates and kissed our tears when we were sad. He danced and sang when music was playing. He slept comfortably on my knee and took baths in the bathroom sink. He liked coffee and Cheerios and always kept us amused. I think I was the one most attached to him. I bought him as a birthday gift to myself. I still have not stopped crying. He was not even 2 years old and was the smartest bird I've ever seen.

We will never forget you and already miss you terribly, my little Jellybird.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Here's what the MS Works calendar looks like when you save it in your Documents:

26 Thursday

(BIOG.) "The Miracle Worker" - Discussion of Helen Keller
(L.A.) ASL Alphabet - Practiced alphabet, name, and several words
(GEO.) iknowthat.com - continents, oceans, US states, Europe, Australia, Oceania, quizzes. Used GeoGenius, google, and globe to find answers.
(READ/R.A) Hansel and Gretel - Created own version of Hansel and Gretel with correct story structure and grammar. Very creative. Listened to 30-page read-aloud
(P.E.) Dance Class - 2 hrs.
27 Friday

(MUS) Sang Rounds - Created new ways to sing rounds with unrelated songs
(SCI) Handprints/fingerprints - Discussion
(SCI) Digestive System - Drew and labeled
(COMP) J's Website/Blog - Took tutorial; learned image uploading, hyperlinks, word processing.
(SCI) Evaporation experiment - cup in covered bowl of water to catch evaporation/condenstaion
(P.E.) Dance Class - tech/lyrical- 1hr.
(SCI.) - Discovery Channel show on Horseshoe Crabs

This blog isn't showing how nice it really looks - with the different fonts and colors and everything. It's better than creating my own with MS Word because it automatically brings you to today's date and is much more fun to use. I only copied 2 days, but it's going to be nice to print out whole months to keep in my homeschool correspondence binder. Since the NY regulations specify what subjects are required, I have this to show them if needed. MIL would probably be happy with a copy, too, lol.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

I'm still trying to relax a bit. I saw the doctor this morning and the final pathology report isn't in yet. My jaw area is still really swollen and he wants to see me again on Tuesday. I did go out this afternoon to see a comedy my friend directed. It's called "Wonder of the World" and was in Queens. It was off Broadway (or was is on?) with Sarah Jessica Parker a while ago. It had to be one of the funniest shows I've seen in a long time. I was snort-laughing and crying it was so funny. I needed that today.

The girls both worked on their websites today. W "did words" with me on MS Word. He's getting pretty good at reading. He also speaks very well lately. B was feeding K's interest in guitars by perusing a new catalog and explaining (with sound effects!) all the different types and extras like amps, reverbs, wah-wahs, and how his friend spent $1400 on a bass guitar 2 years ago. I also heard him giving a pretty detailed answer to J's question about Adam and Eve. Made me proud, he did! While I was at the show, B barbecued out back while the kids rode their bikes and played. After dinner B went to see the evening show. Tonight was the last night and he's staying late to help them break down the set.

It's gonna rain tomorrow so we're probably staying home. I bought K a new desk so I think I'll make a family project out of putting it together. We're going to my mom's on Monday for the traditional Memorial Day BBQ. I hope my sister comes down from Hillsdale to join us.

Oh, and please take my new poll!

Friday, May 27, 2005

W stayed home today with a fever and chills. Poor thing. After some Tylenol he wanted to sing some "rounds" like Row Row Row Your Boat and Frere Jaques. W, J, and I were trying to put any 3 songs together to see what they would sound like and who got messed up first. Funny. So then W decides to pull his fingers back and study the lines on his hand. I showed him his fingerprints, too. He asked me to draw him a body. I drew something slightly better than a stick figure. He wanted me to then draw "the insides, like the esophagus" (he likes the digestive system for some reason). So I did and J labeled all the parts.

J then worked on her website with me. She took the site tutorial and learned about hyperlinks, image uploading, templates, and basic word processing stuff she knew already from using MS Word. She successfully got a picture on her site and even fixed it so it was the size she wanted. She added background music and little cursor floaties. W fell asleep on me by then and J came up with a cool idea for an experiment. She said she wanted to put an empty cup in a bowl of water, cover it with Saran Wrap, leave it in the sun, and see if the cup caught any of the evaporated water and that the water in the cup would be cleaner. I think she may have seen this experiment on tv or something. So we did that together and left it in the sun in the kitchen.

After that, J went online and found one of the songs her dance group is learning. She practiced that for like 45 minutes and even printed out the words to learn them (it's Janet Jackson's This is Sick and I don't think I like those lyrics now that I see them, grrr). She had dance practice yesterday and she's going today, too. B came home early since it's a holiday weekend, so thankfully he was able to pick up K from school and bring J to dance. I am still trying to rest a lot and will see the doc tomorrow.

I'm finding it easier to document all the learning J does. I found the absolute perfect tool for documentation. The Microsoft Works Calendar! And I can print it all out if I need to. It's just more comforting to me to have good written documentation - mainly for the supt office (in case), but for myself as well.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I'm feeling pretty good today. Just tightness, swelling, and soreness at the incision sight. B took off work again today and he's so good with all the errands, cooking, and cleaning up. It's a chilly, cloudy day here today.

This morning J and I watched "The Miracle Worker" on cable. During the movie J went to the computer and looked up Patty Duke. She likes to look up actors and see what other things they've done and what they look like now. We had a nice discussion about Helen Keller, blindness, deafness, and how sign language works. I printed out the ASL alphabet and left it on the table. This was my first conscious attempt at "strewing her path" and I'm happy to say J responded as I'd hoped. She eventually saw the paper, asked what it was, and I said it was something interesting I found. She snatched it right up and practiced the whole alphabet, her name, and a bunch of other words. I am going to try strewing a lot more often. :^)

After that, J saw an email I got from Iguy.com which leads to a website called iknowthat.com. She went on that and did a whole bunch of geography quizzes and games for over an hour. She dove into continents, oceans, canyons, mountains, deserts, all the countries in Europe, North America and all the US states, and Australia and Oceania. She used the globe, the GeoGenius, and Google to find the answers to the questions. I was just sitting on the couch, waiting for any questions or help I could offer and watching with amazement at how into the game she got. She was telling me how Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia all border the Baltic Sea and that Prague was the capital of the Czech Republic. She was "woohoo-ing" every right answer and proud that she knew way more than me. LOL!

At around 11am, J wanted me to read her a story. She selected Hansel and Gretel from a storybook we have. She said she wanted to tell me her version of the story first from what she remembered of it. I haven't told that story since she was 2. She recited a great story, hitting on many points of the actual Hansel and Gretel and adding her own touches to it (I was about to ask her to write it all down, but realized that would ruin this moment). I was so proud of her for choosing to tell me a whole story from beginning to end without my having to beg it out of her. It was structurally and grammatically very well done and her embellishments made it so interesting. Then, she sat and intently listened to me read Grimm's 30 page story without getting restless and fidgety. Wow.

After lunch she wrote in her blog and said she's interested in creating her own webpage. She showed me a page from another girl and wants one like that. I said I will need to help her with this. I want to make sure the site she's using is a good one and help her sign up. I don't know what she wants to put on her page, but I'm going to leave it up to her - within reason. I will be monitoring everything since she's only 8 and doesn't understand the whole privacy and predator issues concerning the internet. J said she can't wait to do this together with me. I think K was thinking about her own webpage, too. B and I both have been interested in learning HTML. It would be fun to all learn it together!

Any doubts I've ever had about unschooling are now gone. I have seen J respond to self-directed learning in a way I could have never dreamed of. This is the J I have been eagerly awaiting to come back. There have a bunch of days like this lately. I like when I take a notebook and jot down all the things she does so all the learning becomes so obvious and real. It's also easier to explain how unschooling works when you have examples written out. I am finally getting it when it comes to unschooling. I have started to just TRUST her and BELIEVE in the process.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'm home from the hospital. They removed a 1cm tumor from my parotid salivary gland. I was in the beautiful Mt. Sinai Hospital on 100th Street and Madison Avenue. They remodeled it and it's like a luxury hotel now. LOL. Anyway, preliminary pathology shows no cancer and the more extensive pathology report will take a few more days. I see my doc on Saturday. I was given Percocet in the hospital and boy, did they kill all the pain. They also made me light-headed and slurry so I don't think I'm going to fill my Vicodin prescription, since they are very similar. Tylenol should be fine.

J is over her friend G's house today. She may stay for dinner. I was reading The Unschooler's Handbook in the hospital and liked a suggestion of making some sort of portfolio or scrapbook covering all the things J does over a year. I thought it would be a fun thing to do together and it would be nice for her to have a memento of the year. It would also be good documentation for the Supt. I thought of categories like, Dance, Annie, Friends, Projects, Trips, Etc. Sounds like fun to me.

Monday, May 23, 2005

J did some more state abbreviation stuff this morning. She skimmed through part of my 50-state-quarter USA book. We found cool USA websites and listened to a few state songs. She noted the size of Alaska compared to other states and made good use of her GeoGenius. Did you know the state fish of Hawaii is the humuhumunukunukuapua'a? Both J and W can say that word all day and crack up hysterical.

K went to the Hayden Planetarium (at the Rose Center for Earth and Space) today with her class. She has 2 big tests tomorrow and I found out she won't be in the same class next year as Crazy Nutjob Girl!! Woohoo. Her teacher called me and explained how the school places them for next year. Things have been so-so with K's friends lately. I am thrilled to death that summer's almost here!

I am going in for surgery at 8am. I'll hopefully be home in the evening or Wednesday morning.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Today was the last day of Sunday School until September! All the kids got straight As (well, Es) and are moving on to the next grade. I was a bit worried they would have to repeat a grade since they missed so many days. They had parties and a little awards ceremony. I went to church this morning to sing for our priest who's been in the parish 40 years. He baptized K. Very wonderful man.

I moved furniture yesterday and my back started aching around 2am. I was awake all night and totally immobile by morning. I got this before and knew it was temporary, but it hurt like hell. It felt like a knife twisting around my lower spine every time I moved an inch. By 11:30am I could walk and my friend drove me to mass. I took 4 Tylenol and wrapped a therma-heat pack around my waist and left it on all day. The kids and I drove out to my mom's to see my cousin, C, who just graduated military college. He is now an Army 2nd Lieutenant and will be in Iraq in about a year. He's the one my sister and I spent St. Patrick's Day with.

On the hour-long drive out to Mom's, the girls were writing down all the different states' license plates. They like contests, so I suggested they also come up with the state abbreviation together. We found 13 different state plates! We discussed state mottos and they tallied up all the specialty, vanity, and diplomat plates they found as well. K said we should play this game every time. I love when so much learning is seen as a fun game!

At Mom's the kids played Octopus and Red Rover with the neighbor kids outside on the wet grass. In the basement, they put on a talent show. B stayed home to slow-cook some bbq ribs, do laundry, and check out the new studio space with the band. Thankfully, they love it and we'll be saving $80 per month! I have to learn to cook. I think I want Rachael Ray's new cookbook. She's my favorite. We order out too much and saving money needs to become one of our top priorities.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

We spent all day at recital rehearsal. It was great! J has been bumped up to the front of 2 dances since the other girl left. I love watching J dance. She's so fun to watch. K came with me and W and B played in the backyard together all day. We got home around 4 and B had to go meet the bandmates and get into Tribeca for a gig tonight. He's happy because he's getting new studio space for a lot less money than he's paying now. A lot of people always show up at his gigs. My sister goes to many - even BIL & SIL went tonight. I haven't seen him perform in years. No one is ever available to watch all 3 of my kids! I'm going to try and see if I can make the one at the end of June. I just hope MIL is in a good mood when I ask her! LOL!

Friday, May 20, 2005

J and I had a little talk this morning about unschooling. She said it meant "doing nothing or whatever I want all day". Hmmm. I wonder if she thinks that's what I want from her so she has been reluctant to do much lately. I explained that No, that's not quite it. I said Unschooling is not "doing nothing all day", but using what we have and where we are to create your own things to do. I will give you all the ideas, suggestions, help, guidance, and support you need. I said that unschooling was all about asking questions, looking things up, trying things out, and getting help when it's needed (I quoted that). She was like, OH! I think she really believed that she was supposed to just avoid anything that was even remotely academic looking. So she then tells me she wanted to read a new book with me and she grabbed her old math book and wanted to do the pages she saw her friend doing yesterday before dance class (all the public schools use the same books). We started reading a book called The Report Card and we got all the way to chapter 3 with each reading alternate pages aloud. Jeez, I gotta make sure I'm crystal clear about things from now on.

After W was home from school he and J did some arts and crafts. W made a little stick puppet and J made a pencil holder thingy out of popsicle sticks. J made some cream of mushroom soup (she eats it plain, I don't get it) and heated up some leftovers for W. W then "read" his favorite storybook after which he put J's dance tights over his head and ran around being scary, LOL. Hey, this hyperlink stuff is FUN! I put some more pictures in my PHOTO ALBUM. Check it out!

At dance today, J got another costume - this makes 5 now. Recital rehearsal is tomorrow - without costumes - so it will be nice to just sit and watch the whole thing. J is in 4 big numbers and the finale. This is going to be a great recital! I can buy it on DVD, too!

J got a call this evening from the Annie people. She got the part of Tessie. They are actually casting Tessie as twins in this production, so J is Tessie #1. I'm pretty sure K got ensemble, and she's not too happy. I told her that ensemble is on stage way more than the orphans and the director is adding a few extra numbers just for them. She still wants to do the show, though, so I'm glad. I know it'll be fun for them and I am eager for both girls to make some new friends.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

W stayed home from school today since B had 2 doctor appts and had the car all morning. I was supposed to register him for Pre-K yesterday, but was running around so much that I completely forgot to go. It's a different school than the one W is currently in and they had ONE spot left - afternoon session (12:45 to 3:15). And I was late picking up K from school because I was stuck in Manhattan and the 3rd train I needed to get home was out of service due to a sick passenger. He was asleep at MIL's house by the time I got there and then we ate and went right to the Annie callbacks. Today I called the Pre-K woman and she said to come by now. So I zipped over there with W, filled out a dozen forms, zipped back home, had a quick lunch, drove with J to the Dance Shop for new half-sole sandals and footless tights, zipped back home to drop J off so she could change for dance, picked up K, dropped off K at home and picked up J, and zipped on out to dance class. I'm ready to pass out today.

One member of J's dance group dropped out today. Now there's only 8 of them. No one was prepared for that and J's teachers had to redo 3 of their dances to make up for the missing person. In addition, J's group just learned a brand new dance which is part of the older kids big production number. They were taught the dance 2 rehearsals ago and they look like they have been doing it for years. It's amazing how fast kids learn when they're doing something they like! ;)

During the summer, J will be going to 2hr a day/2x a week dance rehearsal (no fee for these extra classes!! Woohoo!!) In the late afternoon, she will take 3-4 classes a day on Tue, Wed, and Thu - things like tap, hip-hop, jazz, cheer, yoga, technique, and maybe modern. K wants to take some of those, too. I know she's been dying to take yoga forever. They will also hopefully be busy with Annie all summer. We're shooting for lots of beach time, pool time, and friend time, as well.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

J took an online reading assessment on mindplay.com. It was phonics and reading comprehension and she scored "above average". She insisted on sitting on my lap during the whole thing and I had to turn my head so I couldn't see the questions or see what her answers were. It's a fun test and she enjoyed it. I was a bit surprised to see that she still scores above average since she hasn't really read anything (for more than 5 minutes) in months.

She was more than happy to read the "Annie" script tonight, though! There were about 35 girls there tonight trying out for one of the 6 main orphans. The 6 girls from Monday all read only for Annie. J read for Molly, which is a really cute part. They did lots of solo singing, dancing, and read-alouds. The director said she'll make her decisions by the end of next week. They both had a blast tonight. They made some new friends and really got a long great with all the kids. I hope they get into the show. This would be a fun thing for them to do over the summer. I don't think it will interfere with J's dance schedule (well, except for that week we go to Nationals). Almost all of my friends are theater people. You just make such lasting bonds with people through theater. I even met B when we did "Annie Get Your Gun" 13 years ago! :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

J has been very helpful lately. She is doing a lot more around the house and even cleans up after her brother. She can cook a can of soup and makes W's snack for school most days. She has also been taking very good care of herself, hygiene wise. She does all of these things without having to be asked. She definitely wasn't like this a few months ago. Very interesting.

It was so beautiful out that we walked to pick up K today. J rollerbladed and W threw a tantrum because we left his scooter at my mom's house. He had his skates on, but wanted them off after 5 minutes - and his helmet was itchy. Thank goodness MIL was sitting outside and offered to take him while J and I now had to rush to get K. K usually saves the change from her lunch money and today treated everyone to a water ice from the bodega on the way home. Crazy nutjob girl was giving her hard time again at school - but K said she can handle her. I have to call the teacher and insist they are nowhere near the same class next year.

K went to the Queens Museum of Art the other day with school. I hope she actually pays attention on these trips. She has a book fair on Thursday, too.

B's band was on the radio again. This time in Wilkes-Barre, PA (102.3). Last month they were on WBAB on Long Island twice. His band also made it to the 3rd round in this year's OriginalSessions & Jagermusic NYC/NJ Buzz Band Search. Pretty cool.

Oh, and J ended up getting callback for "Annie" after all. There was a message today on my machine. We all go back tomorrow at 7. J practiced a few songs this afternoon. She has such a strong, belty voice. K's voice is softer and sweeter. I think I may withdraw my application for the show. I am having surgery on my neck next week and will probably not be able to sing for quite a while. Tomorrow I have to go to Mt. Sinai Hospital over by Central Park for pre-surgical testing. I hate hospitals.

Monday, May 16, 2005

So callbacks for "Annie" were tonight. Only 7 girls were called back for the lead. After singing, dancing, and acting, only 2 were asked to stay a little longer - and K wasn't one of them. She felt crappy after that and wanted to go home. But she was asked to come back on Wednesday night. So she's still in the running for the lead, but might get one of the orphans instead. When we got there I was feeling a bit bold, so I asked K if she would die of embarrassment if I tried for a part too. She was all for it, so I asked the director and she let me sing. Now, it just so happened that another woman had a few songbooks, so I borrowed one and sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miz. I thought I did ok. The director ran over to me with a few sides (small parts of the script) and wanted me to try out for all 3 female lead parts. By that time, K had finished for the night and just wanted to go home. I told the director she wasn't feeling well, so we'd just both come back Wednesday. So there you have it. I know K wants the lead, but if she gets a different part, I hope she still wants to do it. I don't want to do the show without her. We'll see what Wednesday brings.

W asked me today, "why are tongues wet?". He has also been big on spelling out bigger words (like "stupid - he spelled it "stoopid") and asking me tons of addition questions. J called her homeschooled friend, G, who had to cut the conversation short to get back to doing schoolwork. I asked J if she wanted to "do schoolwork" like G, or continue learning her own things the way we have been going lately. She opted for the latter and my heart tells me that's the right answer.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

K got a callback for the play! We go back tomorrow at 7pm. I'll write more later...
The girls did fantastic at the auditions. There had to be over 50 other girls there trying for a part. It was a great experience for them and they seemed very comfortable. We should hear something by next week.

J's dance school had a fundraiser lastnight. It was held in the pub across the steet from the school. It was a nice turnout, with prizes, raffles, and other stuff. The theme was the 70s and most everyone came dressed in their 70s best. I had blue eyeshadow and huge hoop earrings on. Too funny. Everyone's kids were back at the studio for a party. I brought K and J over there and they had pizza, did a craft, ate junk, and danced all night. I picked them up at midnight and we were all exhausted. Very fun night.

Today I have to clean. Being as domestically challenged as I am, it's going to take all day and being the perfectionist I am, it probably won't get all done. At least the seasonal clothes are switched and most of the laundry is done. Jeez, I just look around at the unbelievable piles of clutter and I want to throw everything out the window. The kids are at Sunday school, so I'd better get to it before they come home.

(My parakeet is sitting on my shoulder mimicking my keyboard tapping sounds, I'm LMAO).

Friday, May 13, 2005

Being more of an active facilitator with J's interests is benefitting both of us. This morning an interest was sparked when J saw me post a hyperlink to the MMA Egypt room on yesterday's blog post. It was her favorite part of the museum when we visited a few months ago. She wanted to look at that website and we looked at and commented on lots of art pieces. This led to questions about BC and AD and timelines. The website had a cool timeline and upon opening a section on North America in 8000-2000 BC, she read the time period’s description out loud. We looked at Central America and Europe’s section as well.

I feel it's important for me to actually see some of the obvious "academic" learning. I don't recall much of what else she does all day that I can describe as learning, but I think I'll get good at doing that one day. Keeping a daily or weekly log is what I need to do right now for my own peace of mind (and the superintendent off my back!).

J has also been practicing her new dance and rehearsing “Born to Entertain” for tomorrow’s audition. She came wih me to church today to sing for a Confirmation ceremony, so she skipped dance class. MIL watch the other 2 kids for me (I couldn't leave all 3 there - MIL can't handle all of them, lol). W's teacher gave me a big thumbs up when he came out today. W just said very matter-of-factly, "I don't get any time-outs anymore". I'm just glad he's enjoying it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

This morning J was playing with the cordless phone and scrolled down to see what numbers called here. She asked what area code 215 was and when I said I don’t know, she said, “Let’s look it up!”. This led us to a website with all the area codes on the continent and all the state and province two-letter abbreviations. We were going through them all when she started guessing which abbreviations went with which state. She knew all of them but 6. I wrote down the ones she missed and she ran to get her GeoGenius to figure them out. Then we found envelopes around the house with addresses on them and she found all the 2-letter abbreviations. We also took note that California has 38 area codes, TX has 25, and NY has 13. Finally I see how letting them take the lead in their own interests really works!

I got the proofs of her black & white headshots. They came out so gorgeous. I picked one to get a package made and the owner loved the one I picked. She's using it in a dedication collage in the recital program as well as enlarging it to use in the studio along with the rest of the team's pictures. I went to the music store this afternoon and found sheet music for the girls' auditions Saturday morning. I spent $23 but whattayagonnado? K is getting nervous about it and J wants to only do half of her song. Can't wait to see how this goes.

K's class went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art today. They have been studying Ancient Egypt and their trip was focused on the Egypt rooms. I can't believe all the trips she's going on lately! Oh, and another excellent day for W at school. I swear it's because he knows that preschool is his choice now. I just find that so interesting. The other day he wanted to wear his pajamas and no socks to MIL's house. I told him that was fine. He decided a few minutes later that regular pants and socks were probably a good idea. Testing me I guess. This choice thing is great! LOL!

I made a new online photo album. Here are some pix of B's band to start off with. I'm keeping a permanent link to my albums in the blog sidebar. I'm excited!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

J and I made a cake together today. She and W frosted it and although it looked like um... well, a mess, it was delicious. They were both very proud of themselves. J did some word games on the computer and played nicely with W later on. I finally brought up all their summer clothes from the basement and J and W helpd me sort through those and put them away. K went out to Hofstra Universtiy today with her class to see the NY Jets football team. They spoke to the kids about different things and all the kids got autographs. B was very excited about this, trying to get as much info from K as possible when she got home. B took off today to go to an orthopedist. Turns out he has bursitis in his hip and shoulder. He needs to get some physical therapy soon.

J is still definitely deschooling. Although I know she is fine and I do see some learning happening, I can't help being impatient. I guess I need to see more concrete evidence that she's moving forward and not backward. Nothing seems to interest her at all yet. It's difficult handling questions from others because I don't know how to exactly explain what we're doing. I do believe it's the right way to go, but I need to really deschool myself somehow.
We went to my parent's house this afternoon. My dad's birthday is in a couple of days and my sister (M), who has off today, came with her new boyfriend to make this big elaborate dinner. She's a chef so no meal is ever simple with her. In additional to 5 kinds of salads, potatoes, and a fruity sun tea, she made a creamy bisque soup and 10 lobsters. It was amazing.

My other sister (G) was there with her dh and 2 kids. W and her son C are the same age and played together all night. The neighbor kids all came over to play, too, so everyone was pretty exhausted by the time we left to go home.

J has been a bit selfish lately - not sharing and showing off a little - even regressing in her language. It's almost as if she's going back to when she was 4. Maybe she is subconsciously going back to a time before school in order to find or regain her old enthusiastic, curious, carefree self. In any case, I'm not going to interfere. Maybe she does need to reestablish who she is. Maybe this is what she needs to do in order to free herself from whatever "school-ness" is left in her. Maybe this is the final "letting go" she needs before she can fully embrace all the benefits of unschooling. Or maybe I'm just half asleep at 12:30 am! LOL! OK, so I majored in psychology in college. It has become a natural tendency of mine to overanalyze everything.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The weekend went exactly as I said. All in all it was busy and fun. The wedding we went to was at least a $50,000 affair. The catering hall overlooked the water. There was a cocktail hour, 6 courses, and a Viennese (sp?) hour. There were about 10 bridemaids and 10 ushers. We didn't get out of the hall until almost 2am. Here's the place where the wedding reception was held: http://www.beckwithpointe.com/

I was talking to my mom today and she admitted seeing a positive change in J, too. I really would like to homeschool my other 2 kids, but until they decide that's what they want, I'll wait. I'm so enjoying hs'ing J, that I want the others to join us. Well, at least they're happy and are doing well so far.

There are auditions next weekend for a local production of Annie. Both girls want to try out. They're already practicing their audition songs, which reminds me I have to get sheet music for them. K's class visited the United Nations building today on 1st Avenue and 42nd Street. They had a nice tour and got to shop in the stores on the 1st floor - which of course was K's favorite part. I read that their gift center has an "extensive array of exotic handicrafts from all corners of the globe". She bought a pretty dreamcatcher to hang in her room.

Learn about the UN!




Friday, May 06, 2005

Have I mentioned that J is doing great? I didn't know what to expect once I took her out of school. And now that her learning is totally relaxed and self-initiated, I see a spark coming back. Without the pressure from friends to grow up too soon, she is once again enjoying things she had abandoned - like pigtails and coloring. I also see a sense of maturity growing. She has become a better decision-maker, offers to help out more, and even gets along with her siblings better.

Yesterday was another dance picture day. She wore one costume for individual pictures and another for the group picture. I am pleased with myself for not insisting she wear just one costume for both pictures since we only had 10 minutes to get both shots done. I am trying to incorporate unschooling into the rest of our lives - allowing a lot more than before and saying NO less. I have realized that not much in life is worth arguing about.

W has been doing excellently in school and has had no time-outs at all since the last time I posted about it. I had told him he didn't have to go anymore if he didn't want to and I wonder if giving him that choice made him think of school differently. Since he knows he's not being forced to go, he doesn't feel anxious about it. I don't know. What I do know is that letting my kids have choices (even at 4 years old!) seems to be making them more self-confident. I have a lot less stress, too.

K is coming home today! She called me several times saying how much fun she's having. I'm glad I let her go. I feel it was a great experience for her. I'm picking her up at 4pm and I just want to hug her for an hour. I'm dropping J off at dance an hour early (she'll be with her friend who's sister is in the class before) so I get over to K. I'm bringing W to MIL's house early, too. I'm picking up J at 5:30 and we are having dinner at MIL's. B has a gig tonight in lower midtown Manhattan, so he won't be home til late. We have a wedding tomorrow in the evening and I'm bringing all the kids to sleep over SIL's house (she has a new puppy!). Then we're picking them up on Sunday morning and going to my mom's for Mother's Day. We'll visit Grandma and Grandpa in the afternoon, have dinner, and probably get home late. I may not be able to write again til Monday. Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Today I thought I'd do a "Day in the Life":

K woke up early, excited about her 3-day trip today. B got ready for work and W woke up. J woke up and got clothes out for W for school. I kissed K goodbye and drove W to school. J walked him down like always. At home, I had coffee and checked email and boards while J took a shower. J watched D-bops and Out of the Box and colored a picture with magic markers. She also checked out her weblog. We picked up W at 11:30 and came home and ate leftover Chinese food. J made herself tea, but the bag sort of broke and there was little black things floating on the top. We all ate mooshoo pork and J showed W the new wipe-off trace-the-letter book we bought him yesterday. They did that together for about 10 minutes before W lost the marker cap and J started yelling at him. W smacked J in the face with a plastic baseball bat and I yelled at him. J put the Batman DVD on for W. They watched that for a short while and I changed the channel and put on Noggin instead since no one was watching it. J made designs on a napkin with a red Sharpie marker and it leaked through onto my light wood table. She unsuccessfully tried cleaning it off and made white scrub marks on the table. I need a plastic tablecloth, sigh.

W played with Lincoln logs and made a square for me and actually put them away without protest. He played with his new magnet word book after that. He tried to sound out words and match the picture to the right word. J laid on the floor watching Blue’s Clues and then decided to do her Flags of the World Sticker book. She commented that Jamaica uses the dollar like we do and asked what Yen was. W played with the new globe, proud of knowing north, south, east, and west and pointing out Russia, Antarctica, and asking me the names of a bunch of other countries. I suggested they play a game where W points to a country and J tells him what it is and finds the capital. She liked that game last month. She did one and asked me to take them outside to play. She is not into any of my ideas lately.

They watched Maisy and called B at work. W found the harmonica. J and W both played with that for a bit. W brought me a book (I Love Trains) to read to him. I finally got showered and dressed and W fell asleep. J's head shot pictures were scheduled for 6pm so I helped her get ready. Her hair was pinned back on one side with a barrette and I applied some light makeup (I called the dancing school owner and she recommeded that). We got there a little too early so I brought W over a couple of blocks to get his hair cut. When we got back, it was J's turn and she went across the street where the photographer set up an area on the sidewalk in the natural sunlight. It was great. He took about 12 shots and they should be ready next week or so. We drove home and B had dinner all ready. We watched Lost and American Idol and everyone fell asleep.

Thoughts: I may have to put a limit on the tv. J doesn't usually watch any until W comes home, but then it just doesn't go off. I also have to make more of an effort to take the kids outside. The weather is warmer now and we should be out every day. I have to get to bed earlier so I'm not headache-y and exhausted the next day. I have to severely limit my computer time. I have become an info junkie and I should be spending my time more wisely - like with the kids! A final thought is that I am in this unschooling thing for the long haul. I promise to trust my children and let go of my own worries about this decision. I promise to focus on the JOY from now on.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I love Barnes and Noble.

I went there this morning with J, said I was a homeschooler (I love saying that!) and I would like to get an educator discount card. The woman said she was just talking about homeschoolers and was confused about what proof they could show. We had a great discussion and she was so appreciative - I'm always willing to share hs'ing info!! It's Educator's Week and with my 25% discount I spent about $97 on a ton of books and a new globe. J and I looked at so many and she chose the ones she wanted. I kinda steered her away from the doll jewelry kits and the stuffed animals and more toward the "educational" stuff. She chose books on phonics, test prep, colonial times, Laura Ingalls Wilder, science experiments, flags of the world, and crossword puzzles. She wanted the 5th grade math book because the 4th grade one seemed to easy for her. I want to get the Singapore math books for her, though. It's nice that J loves math and science. She's so different from K, who loves reading and writing. I wonder what W's preference will be.

We sat in the Starbucks cafe eating berry cheesecake and oatmeal cookies with my "Caffe Mocha" and her "Strawberries and Creme" and then went to the toy store. I got a hula hoop, a ball, 2 jigsaw puzzles, and that much desired pogo stick. After picking up W from school, we spent 2 hours playing outside.

After we picked up K, we did some more shopping to get all the last minute items needed for K's 3-day trip. She's never gone anywhere this long without me. I'm a nervous wreck. She's leaving tomorrow. I feel better, though, knowing my aunt and uncle live 10 minutes away from where she'll be. I am happy for K. One of the reasons I chose this middle school is because of all the exciting places they visit. They went to the Jewish Museum on 5th Avenue yesterday. She made a beautiful tile mosaic art piece while there. They have several more museums to go to before June. She loves it.

Curious about NYC's museums? Here's a great website! :



Monday, May 02, 2005

I finally went to a homeschool playgroup! The kids played inside and outside and I got to talk to a couple of moms. They were unschoolers! I was so happy to find a real live person (TWO real live people!!) to talk about unschooling with! Not only that, but they both also practice natural parenting/living. I could have stayed there all day just talking to them. I think I had more fun than the kids today! Oh, and once again these homeschooled children were polite, very well behaved, played great with everyone - didn't care who was how old, and were also very well spoken. So far every homeschooling family I have met has kids like that. Unbelievable. I can't wait for the next playgroup!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

B and the kids all went to mass this morning, then to Sunday School. I stayed home to clean and relax. J went to her friend C's house around 1pm. C's family is celebrating Greek Easter today and I'm glad J was asked to enjoy it with them. K has been keeping herself busy today. She cut apart an old baseball to see what was inside. Then she took some coverstock paper, glue, scissors, and magazines and made a collage. She also wrote to her penpal in Spain. This girl went to Kindergarten with K before she moved overseas and they have been writing to each other ever since. W helped B make a huge Greek salad and then watched The Letter Factory and The Math Circus (Leapfrog). He was showing me how he spells words and making up a bunch of rhymes. I was pondering how long it would take him to learn to read if he was unschooled as well, and I really believe he'll be reading before he's 5 without much help from me. He enjoys playing with letters and words so much. The same goes for numbers.

7:20pm: I wanted to add more here about what W has done today because this shows me how much more children can learn on their own - just because they really want to. He brought me the globe and showed me Russia, China, Antarctica, Canada, Mexico, and 3 or 4 US states. He asked me to name about 10 more for him before using the globe as a basketball. He played Uno with B and helped cook dinner. Then before he fell asleep he started with the questions. He does this almost every night and a lot during the day, too. It's awesome to see those wheels in his head turning! Here was tonights round of questions:

- How do you make pies?
- How do people make computers?
- What do yellow and green make?
- What do pink and orange make?
- What do blue and black make?
- What do red and red make? Haha RED, I got you!
- What 2 words am I thinking of that start with B?
- What 2 words am I thinking of that start with D?
- What do you feel like when you're sad?
- What do you feel like when you're mad?
- Why do you have a moustache, mommy? (does he have to notice everything?!)

Then after answering everything as well as I could he closed his eyes and fell asleep on my lap. Such a wonderful time. He didn't feel so good last night, complaining of an earache. I made some of my powerful yet oh-so-simple ear remedy and droppered some into his right ear. This morning he woke up at 7am yelling "My ear doesn't hurt anymore - Mommy's medicine worked! I love you Mommy!". I think I'll keep him.