Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ok, the day has come! We're off to Orlando! I think J is more than ready for the dance Nationals. And I know we're all ready for a vacation! We'll be back in a week.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I have been doing more research on homeschooling - like always - and I am leaning heavily toward hs W as well. B and I were talking about it tonight and he seemed to agree (sort of, after a while). He was hoping I would go back to work one day so we can save up to move into our own house. I understand that, but my main focus is on the kids and their happiness and success in life. I was telling him about all the learning W does on his own lately and how he just has this passion for wanting to know and do it all. He has been reading books (and labels and signs), doing his little workbooks, measuring with the tape measure (learning about inches and feet), asking more awesome questions (today was "What makes a balloon go up?", which led to "What is helium made of?", and "How are shadows made?"), creating small words on MS Word, playing with letter tiles, playing website games (patterns, matching, etc), cooking, Legos, drawing, taking pictures, counting money, adding and subtracting on his fingers, finding places on the globe, learning state mottos with quarters and licence plates (with J and K's help!), and writing his name and other words. All this within the last week!

At a party today, B's brother went on about how his ds (14) almost failed out of school and was expelled twice this year. And his dd fell in with the wrong crowd and became absolutely "incourageable". I reminded B of K's "friend" problems at school, too. Then I brought up how well J has done this year and about her writing an awesome essay. I told him I felt that she won because all the other kids have these damn school methods and rules exuding from their essays and J just wrote out what was her true self in her own atypical way. I explained all of my feelings about why homeschooling and especially unschooling was so much better than any school. I asked him what he thought the real point of school was. I also stressed that we were so fortunate to have very self-motivated kids - which could hinder success at school.

Do we want W to be forced into a strict mold where he will have to change his natural learning style to please some strangers who don't even really know or love him? And be made to take test after test so the teachers can say they did their job? And follow terrible rules (no you can't go to the bathroom again, wait in line, no talking at all, lunchtime was/is at 10:30am (or 1:30pm) - too bad if your hungry now, stay in your seat, read this, write this, think this)? And be away from his family for 6 hours a day/5 days a week - starting at 5 years old? And be made to do even more tedious work once he's home? And be subject to bullies, strangers, teachers' bad moods, isolation, competitiveness, punishment, criticism, petty threats, and feelings of inadequacy? And most of all, no longer enjoy learning for what it really can be? All the spark and enthusiasm he has now will be lost to pleasing someone else every day. And he probably won't even realize it's happening.

But I will.

Yeah, I think my mind is made up. I will allow him to try the 2hr-a-day preK this year since he is so looking forward to it, but that's where it will end. Now I just need B to get more confident in this decision.

Friday, July 22, 2005

About a month ago J wrote an essay for her dance studio to win a year of free tuition. I loved that idea since she hadn't done much writing since she left school in February. She was really excited about it. I left it all up to her and she took on the responsibility herself and wrote a 280 word essay. She let me read it when she was done and I thought that it looked like just the stuff she wrote in school that was graded poorly and "proved" J's constant lack of focus. The people who judged the essays were colleagues of one of the dance teacher's husband (a group of doctors, actually). They did not know anything about the kids, so were totally impartial. Well, she didn't win the full scholarship, but she DID win the only other prize - which was a money gift in honor of one of the dance teacher's late mother. My sweet, poor, misunderstood J won $50 for an essay she wrote about something she loves. She received recognition, money, and a beautiful certificate. On the side of the certificate it read, "Encourage Every Child's Individuality". I looked at that quote about 100 times and cried each time. I should write that on my walls in bright pink paint. I need to raise my children with this quote at the forefront of my thoughts. I feel ashamed for doubting J and believing the teachers who told me she was not so great at this or that. I am so proud of her for proving me and a lot of other people wrong. 'sniff

K is reading a lot. She likes those geared towards the "12 and up" crowd now. I think her current book is titled "Bras and Broomsticks". She has decided her friend KC from the play is her new best friend. I really hope she stays in touch with her and the other new friends she's made this summer. She just needs to have a life outside of school. W is on a measuring kick. He loves the big tape measure and tries to figure out the amount of inches everything is. He asked about the numbers and I showed him how every time you count to 12, you end up with another foot. I was thinking of buying him a kids tape measure, but realized it's probably more fun with a real one.

Other than that, life is still chock-full of Annie and dance. We went out to my mom's house this afternoon to borrow luggage and do more shopping - and swim in the pool. We are leaving for Orlando soon and I think we are finally ready. All of J's costumes, props, makeup, shoes, and accessories are being driven down, so I don't have to worry about them being too cumbersome as a carry-on or getting lost. I stoned all her team gear and threw them in the costume bag as well. I confirmed our hotel reservations - the whole dance company (3 teams) is on the same floor! So cool! I have a huge master list of everything we need to pack, I am relaxing a lot more about this trip. I am finally getting so excited about it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Dance went on tonight for almost 3 hours. Thank goodness K is such great company or I'd go nuts. We went to Old navy earlier on for some more clothes and all the kids were begging for a Tomagachi (sp?) and Toys R Us was out of them. These little things were popular back when K was 8. Now they're back and they have to have one. Sigh. We got to play practice at around 8 - right after dance. They got out of there at 10:30pm. It wouldn't be so bad if the Annie people didn't change the rehearsal time from 7 to 6 and would stop sending cryptic emails. I feel like we're always late now and I never know what days the girls have to be there.

K made a very good friend at the rehearsals who she stays with all the time and IMs a lot. I've met her and have had nice conversations with her mom. She asked K to sleep over one night. I think it's a good idea. J's friend G is in soccer camp this week and J's missing her. Neither of them want to go to tennis again tomorrow. Right now it may be a bit too much anyway. We can resume in August if they want. K told me yesterday that this has been the best summer ever. J agreed. Wow. Awesome!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It's funny. I see the kids really spending their days doing interesting things at home and I'm having a hard time keeping track. All have done fun artwork, cool website games, and reading. The girls made muffins together yesterday and today. J is still in dance "bootcamp" getting ready for Nationals. Annie practice is getting longer and heavier because it, too, is getting closer to showtime. They skipped tennis today since no one was awake by 8 and I just felt like letting them sleep in. There was no protests as they were all tired anyway and it was 87 degrees by 9am. All of us hate the humid heat. It's like walking into someone's mouth. Yuck!

So much has been happening this summer so far that we haven't gotten a chance to get into Manhattan at all. I mean it's only 10 minutes from us. I think August (after the play and the Nationals) will be better for jaunting to the city. Here in Queens, we always call Manhattan "the city" even though we are NYC, too. It's weird. My evenings for the rest of this week will be filled with "stoning" J's dancewear. I bought all these rhinestones and a Bejewler and I'm ready to dive in. I have to do a sweatshirt, a pair of shorts, dance sandals, and 2 tank tops. I hope B is in a stoning mood.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

We went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! Very strange and very cool. W fell asleep about half way through, lol. After the movie, I dropped B, K, and W at home and took J to Annie practice. It was just the principle orphans practice. At the end, the director came to tell me that J was so talented. Then threw in "but she's just not focusing sometimes". UGH. I thought I wouldn't have to hear that anymore. She hasn't had a problem with focus since she's been home. I'm pretty sure it has to do with the huge amount of kids. The director said that she was actually fine and very focused today, but not usually. Hmmm, today there were only 7 or 8 kids at the rehearsal instead of the usual 60. That's a big part of it. Too many kids still distract her and she can't pay attention. J and I talked about it in the car. I wanted to know what exactly goes on in her head. She didn't say much. Is she even aware of it? She has to be. I always hear her name being called out - and I know it's because she's not paying attention. Sometimes I have to call to her several times before she "hears" me. (Her hearing has been tested so that's not it). I usually need direct eye contact with her. Sometimes she'll "forget" things I just said or ask her to do. And when I remind her, she says, "Oh right" - so she did actually hear me, but it flew right out of her mind. I forget things a million times a day and I zone out, but I blamed it on age and having 3 kids. Both of us pay attention better when things are 1 on 1. I wonder if she has ADD after all - and maybe I have it, too?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The girls had play practice this morning and I hung out with a couple of other moms chatting about school and dance studios while enjoying a hazelnut coffee from 7-11. At 1pm the girls were done and we drove to Target. The school supplies were on sale and I got 24 Crayola crayons for $.25 a box, spiral notebooks for $.25, looseleaf, glue, a ruler, scissors, pens, and J wanted a compass (to make circles) and a dry-erase board. I got lots of stuff for the kids and things we needed for the house, like an iron. Oh, and the new Harry Potter book! Can't wait to start that one! I have to read the last bit of OotP to remember where it left off.

My space bar isn't working unless I pound on it, so I'll cut this post short. I'm just going to buy a new keyboard tomorrow.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I spent the whole day cleaning and the kids found cool things to do. J and W played school, restaurant, and supermarket throughout the day. J dressed her Bitty Twins and W played with his dinosaur Transformer and cars. K updated her website and blog and made a wire and tiny-bead bracelet. We all ate half a huge watermelon and made popcorn. When I sat down for a rest, W was right there with Hop on Pop to read with me. He asked me "What do Cooties look like?". I had to explain they weren't real and that Daddy was just kidding around. LOL.

B and W went in the backyard to bbq some steaks as I finished tidying up the dining room. I got so much done today. Tomorrow I want to tackle J's room and finally put K's desk together. Poor K. The unopened box of new desk has been sitting downstairs for months. Our deal was that she clean her room enough so it fits in there well. Still waiting for that to happen. I think if she sees me bring up the box, she'll fix up a bit in there.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

This morning at tennis, J got to see her friend, G, again. I'm really glad they get along so well. G is so unlike the competitive, cliquish, fair-weather-friend girls at J's old school. J is so calm and content when she's with G. We went over to track and field next while K had her tennis lesson. J wanted to give it another shot since G was going. About half way through, J decided it wasn't her thing, so we left as soon as K was done. I brought a whole bag of stuff for W to play with while we were there, but he found different things to do instead, like play with some lady's maltese, run around with a few kids his size, and pick dandelions that were aged enough to blow the seeds off.

J gets the idea

Some jumping jacks to warm up

J coming around the last turn on the track

W picking me a bouquet

At home, W wanted to look through the Human Body atlas we have. He asked a lot of questions about cells, arteries, veins, blood, lungs, and bones. Ok, actually the main questions was "What's that?". (Hahaha). Then he brought me his preschool workbook and did about 5 pages on my lap. Mainly writing numbers and matching the number to the amount shown. K and J wrote new blog posts.

Dance was at 3 and play practice at 6:30. K didn't get the part of "Pepper", but she's happy where she is. She likes the other kids in her group and would have been sad to move. J's group tried on costumes. I'm so happy tommorow is Friday. We have NOTHING scheduled and we can just veg out all day!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

J started another book today! This one is The Amazing Days of Abbie Hayes. K read it when she was 9 or 10 and recommended it to J. It's more on her level than yesterday's book was. She read about 25 pages. We have the next several in the series, so I hope she finds it interesting enough to keep going. yeeee-haaaaaw!

W played some online games and read some Hop on Pop to me today. I notice that he doesn't remember a word he read if appears in another sentence. For example, he'll sound out "we all are tall", pronoucing "all" with a short "a" sound at first then realizing that's not right, and then saying it correctly. On the next page, he'll see the same word, but still give it a short "a" sound. I don't get that. He's starting to memorize the book at this point, anyway. Sometimes I'll ask him not to guess at the sentence and try to read it as written, which makes him frustrated. I guess I should stop doing that.

J had 2 1/2 hours of dance and then both girls had Annie rehearsal. The girl who played "Pepper" quit so now K is in the running for that part. I think we'll find out Saturday if she got it. K said she is actually happy in the orphan ensemble now, but will take the other part if she gets it. Here's J in her Annie T-shirt (don't mind that I spray-painted out the theater group name ;^D)

Tomorrow is a busy day. I wanted to get to Curves tomorrow, but MIL is going on her monthly trip to Atlantic City. I can't work out with the kids in tow. I don't want to let too much time go in between workouts. I also need to order a gross of rhinestones and a stoning gun for some of J's dancewear. I hope it gets here within 2 weeks! I have so much stuff going on that my head is spinning.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

J had tennis at 9am with her friend, G, and tried the track and field at 10am while K had tennis. She wasn't thrilled with track. They did javelin and long jump today. J needs fast moving stuff, so the waiting around for her turn didn't go over well. We got home about 12.

At home K invited J into her room to read. J READ AN ENTIRE CHAPTER BOOK!!!!! She even went into her own room to finish it after K decided to do something else. J came to me and was so proud of herself saying she read a whole book (112 pages) in one day. I noticed the book is a bit below her level, but, this may just be the springboard J needs to get her love of reading back. I controlled myself and gave her just a hug and a high-five without gushing about it and getting teary-eyed. I don't want to ruin this. MIL had some more questions about homeschooling and I reassured her things were going fabulously and that she needn't worry about anything. I explained that I had researched this for like 2 years before taking the plunge and that J is now able to pursue interests at her own pace. I gave her a brief overview of what J has been doing over the months and she seemed impressed. I should probably expect her doubting, non-trusting, my-DIL-is-a-freak questions every 2-3 months or so, what do you think?

W played matching, pattern, and memory games on today and read me the word "beast" off of his little mighty bean toy. He was a little bored at the park, but now I know to bring a bunch of things for him to do next time. I dropped him and K off at MIL's while I took J to dance. She did her regular 2 hour practice and wanted to stay for the 7pm "modern" class. That one was an 90 minutes. While she was there I went to my first Curves workout. I have to admit - it was fun and cool enough that I want to keep going! (lol). When I picked up J at 8:30pm one of the other moms told me that J was amazing at this class. There was a certain wiry, whole-body move that she did perfectly. I wish I'd seen it. The teacher asked her if she would be back next week. I wasn't sure since Annie rehearsal is usually on Tuesdays. I think I may let her take a Modern class in the fall if she likes it this much and is good at it.

At home, W fell right asleep, K worked a bit on her website, and J drew cartoon characters from memory on paper plates. We are all sleeping in my bed tonight since B is in Detroit at the All-Star baseball game. The kids love that and I do too. *g*

Monday, July 11, 2005

I had a headache all day and didn't get any of what I wanted done (housework). The kids kept themselves busy, though. K cleaned and rearranged her room. She did a laundry load of her own sheets, too. J practiced her dances, called a girl from the play to run lines with, and went to dance class for 2 hours. W sounded out various words all day, wrote down a few, and played tic-tac-toe with me a couple of times. It was an easy relaxing day for all.

While J was at dance, I went and joined Curves. I'll tell ya, it's not at all what I expected. One little room with about 8 machines and everyone rotates when the muzak lady says so. In between machines, there's these squares on the floor to just "do cardio" on. So, like 15 women can be working out at the same time. You go around the circuit 3 times and that's your whole workout. I was weighed, measured, and entered into the system. Very embarrassing, BTW. I had a fruity little man taking all my measurements and explaining the program. He wasn't thrilled with 2 of my kids being there, but I ignored his apparent disgust. I start tomorrow, wish me luck! (Oh, I plan on losing 54 pounds).

Saturday, July 09, 2005

There was an early play practice this morning with a costume meeting thrown in. The ideas that were thrown around are so cute. This is going to be a great show. I signed up to do refreshments during 5 of the 9 shows. This way I get to watch the show for free those nights! LOL! At $15 a ticket, this will save me a lot. I still have to buy a $50 ad for the program and get my family to buy a total of 10 tickets. I'm not thrilled with that but I guess I didn't read the fine print on the application!

J read her magazine a bit today. K did, too. Both girls posted on their blogs and created a new AIM name. They got tons of screen names today from the kids at the play. They are also being very responsible in following the cleaning rules for their new earrings. Check them out(sorry if they're not so clear):

Friday, July 08, 2005

Rainy, yucky, gray day today. Great day for the mall!! Our first stop was Claire's and both girls got their ears pierced! J was nervous but said it didn't hurt at all. She has been adamant about it since she saw Oprah get hers done on tv. She picked out pink flower-shaped studs. K got a 2nd hole in both ears and also didn't flinch at all. She chose the same studs as J but in white. We zipped over to the Nordstrom's cafe for some yogurt parfaits and then onto the stores! B. Dalton was first and I was hoping to find that book for J, but she didn't want ANY books at all. She got Discovery Girls magazine instead. There are cute articles and stuff in there, so let's hope she reads it. Since B. Dalton is somehow affiliated with Barnes and Noble, I got to use my 20% educator's discount card! Can I get a Woohoo?

We hit so many stores and bought so much clothes that I believe we are set for Florida. I tried on bathing suits and got thoroughly depressed afterward. I will NEVER try on another bathing suit until I am 125 lbs. I'm joining Curves next week, BTW. That's it. I'm am sooo done being fat.

J's friend G called today and asked J if she'd like to also join the track and field lessons at the park. They do running, hurdles, long jump, javelin, and shot put (sp?). This is right after tennis. J was like, "Can I, ma?". What can I say? I don't know where she thinks she's getting all this energy from. I wish I had half the stamina she has. I think I'll let her try it, though. Boy, is she having a busy summer!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Tennis was fun this morning. The girls loved it. W wasn't too into it and kept coming out of the gate by me. He was more interested in playing with the other kids than waiting his turn with the racket. I'm kind of glad about that since they were adamant that these kids cannot be younger than 5 and everyone must provide a birth certificate next time. So, W can't go anymore. He really did have more fun riding his scooter, playing catch with another boy his age, and poking a dead squirrel with a stick. K saw a girl she knows from school there and hung with her. It turns out they are both in the same class next year. She seemed very nice and sweet and I pray that K can let go of her nasty "queen bees and wannabes" friends from 6th grade and maybe pal around with this girl from now on.

W played some learning games on and read me some of the stories on there. He gets the whole "first, next, last" concept with pictures and read more words aloud with silent e. J had dance again today. K and I met B at the eye doctor which allowed me to drop W off with him while K and I drove back to pick up J and go to a dance company meeting. After that, we drove to play rehearsal which ended at 8:30. I picked up some McDonald's (hate that! but we were starving) and we got home by 9. Tomorrow we're off to the mall for some serious shopping!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I brought K and J to the playground this afternoon while J was in dance class. W ran through the sprinklers and got soaked (we didn't bring his trunks or a towel, BTW). A big thing kids do at the parks here is bring tons of small balloons to fill with water. W always checks the ground for any salvageable (sp?) ones left behind. He found a couple today and went right to the water fountain to fill them. As long as he doesn't put them in his mouth, it's ok. I got them all a quick Chinese dinner and they ate in the car while we drove to Annie rehearsal. W fell asleep and I got to eat my dinner and read for a couple of hours. We got home around 10pm.

All 3 kids are signed up for free tennis lessons at the park. Tomorrow is their first day. W and J are in the same group (along with J's hs friend, G) and K is in the group right after that. I thought that adding another activity to J's schedule would not be a good idea, but she insists. Well, it's only 1 hour 2x a week and doesn't conflict with anything else, so we'll give it a shot.

J decided she wants to read the 2nd Harry Potter book (Chamber of Secrets). She read a few pages yesterday (yay!!) and right away wanted to take the comprehension quiz on She got 100% on it, but obviously because she's seen the movie 100 times. I'm not actually counting on her reading anymore of it - I'm a pessimist, I know. I think when we go to the mall on Friday I will get her a book on the Sprouse twins (The Suite Life of Zach and Cody) she is so infatuated with lately. I know they're people she is really interested in and I have a hunch that is one book whe will read to the end.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Lots of fun in the sun this weekend! We went out to mom's and met everyone on the beach yesterday. My sister, G, was there with her 2 kids, and mom, and dad. The tide was very low and you could walk out to a sandbar. It looked like you could walk on water. All the kids played in the sand and found pretty rocks and shells. I took lots of pictures! Here are some:

W in the sand

J heading for the water

J ready to fill her pail

K is looking for shells

J is ready to build a sandcastle

Clam shell

Mussel shell

K found "Indian rocks"

You wet them and rub them together...

and it makes "war-paint"...

K's "Indian rock" body art

It was so nice to be on the beach again. My family and I summered in Long Island every year since I was born - up until 3 years ago. Our beach bungalow was 15 minutes from the Hamptons. I have always loved the ocean and the LI Sound. Today was a gorgeous day as well. B and I took the kids fishing with the new fishing poles. We tried casting from the shoreline and from the dock, but we caught nothing but little brown crabs. It was fun - the kids didn't care as long as they could reel something in! We also saw a lot of different birds today. Here are more pix!

W fishing from the shore

He was a pro with his new fishing pole!

J fishing off the dock

K fishing off the dock

This is one of the crabs we caught - We ended up catching about 27! Of course we threw them back after we counted them all.

A family of swans came by to say "hello"!

A seagull and another shorebird (snowy egret??)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I can't believe how well W is reading now. He has gone from the red to the green to the yellow Bob books in only a couple of weeks. He knows beginning digraphs (sh, ch, th, ph,) and ending ones, too (ing, nk, ight). He is even starting to understand silent e. He is showing a great interest in math - especially adding, subtracting, and patterns. He likes dot-to-dots, I Spy books, Bingo, and online games. I really think homeschooling will be best for him in a couple of years. Right now he enjoys the fun and playing of preschool, and will probably like Kindergarten as well since it's similar. He can go to school as long as that's where he wants to be. But the minute I see any unhappiness or resistance to learning I will not hesitate to take him right out. I would HS him now, but he is so looking forward to his new school with all the animals in it and the 2 playgrounds out back. It's ok. I feel comfortable with letting him choose.

K has been working on her website every day. She goes to other sites for background, sound, and pictures. She even put in all these cute add-ons, like a counter, a tagboard, and blinkies. She wants to learn HTML so badly, so I think I'll pick her up a how-to book this week. She finished school with an 87 average and plans on getting that up to a 95 next year so she can either get into the specialized high school she wants or get a scholarship to a great private high school.

J has been working on her website and blogging pretty often, too. She has been playing more games lately - board and online. I have noticed she has gotten very fast doing math in her head. That's interesting. Her essay for dance was handed in the other day. I think it came out nicely written and is just so her. I mean you read it and can just feel J's personality come through. We'll find out how she did in a couple of weeks. Since she's been out of school, I see she is focusing tons of energy on dance and the play. She takes these very seriously and gives her best all the time. And the learning that takes place from participating in these activities in invaluable.

We never got to the fireworks show at the park last night because of the rain. The show wasn't cancelled, but we didn't want to sit on wet grass for several hours. I was happy to realize that we could see all the fireworks from our living room window! How cool is that? Today B is gonna bbq in the backyard while the kids play in the pool. The 10'x4' blowup pool needs a cleaning. I'll give them a couple of sponges and some soapy spray. They love that. We'll probably be at my mom's til Monday or Tuesday. Long Island always has fun holiday stuff to do - we'll find it! I also need to get to the mall at some point. At least my apartment is sparkly clean and decluttered - one less thing to wory about! Have a great weekend! Happy Independence Day!!

Friday, July 01, 2005

It is Friday morning, I'm sitting here wearing a homemade necklace and have a butterfly barrette hanging off the side of my head. The kids are watching "Finding Nemo" while eating toast with cream cheese. J's playdate was cancelled today. We want to go to a big fireworks and music show tonight at a nearby park, but it's supposed to rain heavily by that time. The weekend looks beautiful, though. I think I want to clean all day. I am soooo disorganized and I'm starting to get depressed looking at my home. Photos, old bills, blankets, paper towels/toilet paper, recyclables, bed linens, and duffle bags for overnight trips ALL have no permanent home here and usually wind up sitting in the middle of the dining room. Sigh. So, today will be dedicated to that. It's hard to have success with unschooling when your house is a mess.