Saturday, December 31, 2005

J had dance again yesterday. The groups went over almost all their numbers and are just about ready for this year's competition season. Their first one is in a few weeks, in Manhattan. Then there's one or 2 every month though May. I'm so happy that these competitions are incredibly family-friendly and all of us have a great time at them. There's always food and other stuff to buy and so many kids that my 3 are never bored. There is so much excitement with all the costumes, makeup, rushing around, anticipation, cheering, screaming, awards, etc. My parents and sisters usually meet us there and always find it to be a blast. I used to worry that maybe K was feeling left out, but she totally involves herself, helping everyone out with everything.

My sister drove in from Long Island last night and we went out to a Greek restaurant and to a karaoke bar. It was a much needed night out for me since I hadn't been out since March. We did a lot of singing and laughed all night. I got home about 2am and just felt really good. Not drunk good, just happy good. At the bar, we saw my mom's friend who asked me about the kids, and school, which led to the whole story of how we came into homeschooling. She was so impressed and amazed at the fact that I took the time to realize what J needed and wow that must be so hard. I told her it wasn't really hard at all and we both enjoy it so much. She had a ds who could have benefitted from homeschooling but she never thought of that and says she probably wouldn't have had it in her to try it anyway.

So at home, I was telling B about the night and all about what she said. I mentioned again that I'd love to have W homeschooling as well. B agrees that homeschooling is the best thing and has no worries about how the kids will turn out. So I asked him what's with all the hesitation and "well, I don't know"s when I bring it up. He said the reason was that since we've been homeschooling the apartment has been messier and not much is getting done with cleaning, laundry, or cooking. Also, he thought I could maybe get a job so we could have more money so we could maybe move out of this apartment. Oh. Well that put a lot into perspective for me. This whole time I thought it was the actual homeschooling he had a problem with.

I thought about that a lot last night and admit, he's right, and I feel bad about it. So basically I plan to start doing 45 minutes of cleaning/laundry every morning and 30-45 minutes every evening, do 5-minute clutter pick-ups throughout the day, and get back into being a Mary Kay consultant. My friend, M, ordered me some new catalogs and I'll begin again with the house parties. I usually make about $200-$300 per party - which would only be on evenings or weekends. It's fun, I love it, it gets me out of the house, and I'll be raking in the cash! I'm glad that B finally said something. And I'm glad it's the new year where new beginnings can happen!

Link of the day:

Friday, December 30, 2005

Today was rainy, so we ended up staying in.

K finished a book she was reading, learned to do laundry with the new washing machine, cooked dinner (pasta with her special alfredo sauce!), also updated blog and website.

J did lots of drawing, practiced her solo and danced along to an old recital DVD, wrote an entry in her blog, updated her website, read to ds, played Madlibs with K, made another marble run, used her new counting bank (counted tons of coins and compared it to the bank total), looked through new American Girl catalog, played with new American Girl, and did a few pages in her new activity book.

W did lots of drawings, played a few computer games, brought me the first grade workbook to do with him (he did 11 pages!), read to me (Dora's Ready to Read Adventures), practiced a few magic tricks, helped with laundry, played marble run with dd9, played with trucks and cars, and played V-smile.

Link of the day:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

None of us wanted to get up this morning. J had solo rehearsal at 10am so I had to nudge her a bit to get her up by 9:15. We made it on time and the practice went well. They worked on J's entrance and exit from the stage and cleaned up a few moves. This is the first solo P has coordinated so she's as excited as we are about it. I know we'll both be crying come competition day. LOL. P's daughter (T) was there and she and K are good friends now. T is probably the best dancer in the whole studio and is working on 3 solos for this competition season. And she's a great kid (they all are in the dance group). T invited K over to watch the new Laguna Beach episode. Don't know when that is, but T said several of the dancers always come over to watch it. K was thrilled. W played kept himself busy with his Gameboy and drawings for the hour we were there.

We went to Target after that where we all spent our gift cards. The kids spent theirs very sensibly and one of W's picks was a 1st grade workbook. I looked through it and noticed he is pretty much at that level now. In the last few months he has made tremendous leaps in reading and math - all stemming from his own interests. Everywhere we go he sounds out words and adds things together. J spent time this evening talking on the phone to her friend, G, who called to see when they could get together. She's a homeschooled kid, too, and she and J have become best friends. W fell asleep at about 7:45pm. I just told the girls I'm going to read and does anyone want to read with me. K said fine and J said No. J still rarely picks up a book to read, but I still have hope she will enjoy reading again one day.

Link of the day

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

J's tap rehearsal went well. They'll need more than this one practice, though. The teacher was an hour late and only about 2/3 of the kids showed up, but it looks good. J did great even though she was the littlest one. B and I decided to use our free trip credit for dance Nationals. We'll use some this year and some next year. The 2006 Nationals will be driveable so we'll use about $700 for the hotel. 2007 Nationals is probably going to be in Las Vegas, so the rest of that money will go to airfare and hotel. It's a big load off our backs to have that expense covered.

The kids had a ball today playing with Stuck-on Marbleworks. It's a marble run with pieces that suction-cup to flat surfaces. We were hysterically laughing at how many times we just couldn't get it to follow the trail we made. It has lots of cool pieces instead of just flat slides and chutes. J didn't put Marisol down all day and then found out that there's a new American Girl named Jess who is HOMESCHOOLED. So now you know she wants that one, too. BIG SIGH. J was on the phone today with her friend from her old school. They talked for over an hour, catching up on different things. She said the 4th grade teacher is really mean and gave them a lot of work to do over the vacation. J just looked at me and smiled. And I smiled back.

K and I watched almost all of the Degrassi episodes. Ok, so they're not so bad. There was one episode where a sex-ed teacher was showing the kids how to put a condom on a banana, but I asked if K would just fast-forward that and we kinda laughed at it. There were other episodes on porn, internet stalkers, and periods, but we talked about that as it was on and she didn't seem uncomfortable or embarrassed. I do like the fact that we can talk about things (although I am totally cringing inside! LOL). I know the newer episodes (on The N channel) deal with a lot more sex and drugs so we'll just stick with the DVDs for now. One thing at a time. K also spent time today writing back to her penpal in Spain. Frances and K were in Kindergarten together. Frances moved to Spain that summer and she and K have been writing to each other ever since.

Link of the day:

Monday, December 26, 2005

So Christmas was really nice. We went a bit overboard with the spending, but I feel it was worth it. They each got a big main gift and a bunch of small ones. K got an Ipod nano, J got "Marisol's Whole World" (American Girl), and W got a Nintendo DS. The funny thing about Marisol is that it was a limited edition doll that won't come back. J saw it in the catalog and was amazed at how much she looked like her and that Marisol was a dancer! We got it early and by the beginning of December it was completely sold out. A week before Christmas J was sobbing because she saw online that all of it was sold out. You can only imagine her surprise on Christmas morning.

K made a sock monkey today from a kit - it's so cute, yet so strange. We all played "Twister Moves" and J watched a few Shirley Temple DVDs. W got Rockem Sockem Robots and I forgot how fun that is. He played with his new V-smile and 1/4 size guitar today (gifts from grandma). Grandma got K and J Ugg boots, new winter coats, and J and W got a DVD/CD/VCR for their bedroom. She got B and me a new all-in-one printer/copier/scanner - which we needed badly! My sister got K a boxed set of Degrassi The New Generation DVDs, which I'm not thrilled with, since it contains some topics that are a bit advanced for K, I feel. My sister (not married, no kids, no clue) says K is old enough to be exposed to heavy stuff. So K and I watched a few episodes together in case she had questions. She didn't. I guess I'll allow her to watch sometimes - but only with me. Am I being paranoid? K and I also tried solving a few mysteries from the new book she got. It's great! There's a story and in the back there are case files, autopsy reports, data analyses, and all sorts of cool stuff to help you figure out Whodunit. She loves these and loves doing them for hours with me.

J has her new tap class tomorrow (4 hours). Then solo on Wednesday and group numbers on Thursday. I want to make a really nice week for the kids. The weather has been really mild the past few days and I'd like to get into Manhattan one day - maybe Wednesday. W is at a weird age where he's too big for the stroller and too little to walk around the city for hours. I'm not sure what to do. I think I'll try and find some family programs at various museums. We'll try and stay away form the tourist traps if possible. It gets crazy around here at Christmastime.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. And happy first day of Chanukah and Kwanzaa!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's Christmas Eve!

All day was spent just lounging around, watching Christmas shows, and eating. I spent about an hour wrapping presents in the basement when I realized that I skipped being in choir this year to spend more time with the family on Christmas Eve and here I was in the basement. B and i will wrap together after the kids are asleep. We have done that every year and it's become our tradition. We'll probably begin about 10. Usually we don't start til almost midnight - when I get home from 10pm mass. We can maybe get to sleep at a reasonable hour this year!

B made pasta with seafood sauce, baked clams, and stuffed flounder for dinner. It's an Italian tradition to have fish on Christmas Eve. He also barbecued some marinated venison ( a guy form work brought him some - yucko, I'll pass). After dinner the kids made pointsettias out of construction paper and glitter. They look gorgeous and I hung them right up. Now the girls are watching "A Christmas Story". W is in the tub and all 3 will put on their new Christmas pajamas. We'll hang the stockings in a few minutes, I'll read them the first few chapters of Luke from the Bible (they love the story of Jesus' birth), and then "Twas the Night Before Christmas". Hopefully they'll be asleep soon after.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Link of the day:

Friday, December 23, 2005

I am very excited for Christmas. B is off from work and I'm heading to Target to get the rest of the stocking stuffers - alone. I took a great Christmas card photo of the kids yesterday morning before K went to school. Costco got 50 cards made for me in less than an hour (that's unheard of three days before Christmas). J, W, and I spent about an hour last night writng them all out (and stamping and labeling), and B mailed them this morning. I can't believe I actually did it.

The rest of today will be spent cleaning, doing laundry, and hopefully getting a bunch of things wrapped. For the first time in 10 years I won't be singing in the choir on Christmas Eve at church. I decided I just want to be with my family all evening instead. I want to spend tomorrow baking cookies, making Christmas crafts, hanging stockings, wrapping gifts, and snuggling with everybody while watching Christmas shows. I want to make eggnog and hot chocolate and just RELAX. Sappy, I know, but who cares. LOL!


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

HaPpY OnE YeAr BlOgGiNg AnNiVeRsArY To Me!!!!!

One year ago today I wrote my first post. Twelve months and 272 posts later, I can look back and be so thankful we have come so far. Here's a link to my very first blogger post:

Today J and I went shopping. I had to deliver a Mary kay order and we went rihgt over to Kohl's. I finished all preliminary shopping and now all that's left is fill-in stuff for the kids. This afternoon was the dance company Christmas party. So much fun. B made it into work this morning. I dropped him at the railroad at 6:45am and he was at work by 9. He had a round-trip ticket, so coming home was fast, too, since he didn't have to wait on line to buy a ticket. We'll be doing the same thing tomorrow morning. I hope that transit president goes to jail for all the money this city lost and the aggravation he caused 7 million people. What a selfish prick.

Anyway, my Christmas blues are over and I feel a little more on top of things here. I am still going to try and get those Christmas picture cards made. We'll see if I can do it! B is off Friday so that's when I'll finish shopping (all by myself!, LOL). I'm eating waaaaay too much chocolate, lately - so much for South Beach.

But I think that all in all it has been a fantastic year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

UGH this transit strike really bites. B had to stay home today because it seemed that everyone had the same idea we had - to take the LIRR to Penn Station. The line for the railroad was SIX BLOCKS LONG. I drove him over there this morning, he got out, asked what the line was for (one woman was standing on line for an hour-and-a-half!), and he looked at me and said, "Uh-kayyy, I'm going home". He can work from home but didn't think of bringing any work home with him yesterday. Personally, I think the transit workers have some nerve. Oh, boo hoo, we have no dignity driving our choo choo trains, waaah. They don't think of all the millions of people in this city (and suburbs) who rely on the trains and buses to get to work and back home again. The policemen and firemen didn't have a contract when they ran into the burning World Trade Center. Teachers have been working without a contract. That's what happens sometimes when you work for the city. People's lives are at stake since emergency vehicles get delayed in all the traffic. The 4-person-per-car rule means that cab drivers got stuck in the city because they have to have 4 people in every car now - they drop them off in Manhattan, don't have 4 people anymore, and aren't allowed to drive back out of Manhattan until they get another 3 passengers. People's jobs were at stake. We have families to support too! Work it out amongst yourselves and LEAVE THE INNOCENT PEOPLE OUT OF IT. Ok, I'm off the soapbox.

W had hip-hop class this evening and J came with us. She brought a backpack full of what I thought was just Sunday school homework. At the studio, I saw she did a bunch of puzzles in a Christmas puzzle book - mazes, crosswords, and unscrambling long words. Then she said, "I'm going to read my book". And she read about a page of Lilliput, The Adventures of a Parakeet. It's out of print and we have an original 1960 edition (where did we get that?- oh right, the public school). Then she took out a huge science workbook, and did a page on the food chain. She opened her notebook, wrote her name on top, and answered questions in complete sentences. The studio owner said "Doin' homework? Good job!". Another dance teacher (26ish recently married, no kids, happens to be a public school teacher) said to me, "Don't you homeschool her?". I flashed a huge smile and said, "Yes we do!". She asked a few questions - how do you do that, does the government give you books, how much time do you spend each day teaching her. I answered each briefly and spent more time telling her how awesome it is. I asked her if they taught a lot of "classroom management" in her education college classes. She admitted they do and I told her that kids really don't need "management" unless they're among 30 others at a time nor do they need someone to dictate their learning. They are learning sponges and all school did for J was squash all the enjoyment out of learning. (I did say it very tactfully, lol). She then said she plans on homeschooling when she has kids. She was just so in awe of the fact that J voluntarily packed a bag full of books to do. I guess teachers don't normally witness such things, lol.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I haven't been much in the mood to blog for the last couple of days. Christmas blues, I guess.

I'll get back here soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

J started yesterday morning with a private dance lesson. P says she just needs to work on her timing, which is happening with most of the other kids too. We finally got an email stating that J's new tap group will be meeting over the Christmas break. She auditiond over 2 months ago and made it in. She is the youngest (of about 17 kids) in the group by 2 or 3 years. They are going to knock this number out in 1 day (4 hours) and I think I heard that it's going to competition.

W brought over some math workbook to do with me and had me read an ABC book to him. He pointed out more silent 'e's and some letter blends, like 'ph', 'ow', and 'qu'. Then he did some math games on rainforestmaths. Then he was off to school. Seems so pointless to initiate all of these activities at home and then go off to school. He's not learning anything there, but enjoys the crafts, songs, stories, lunches, and friends. if I can just see preschool for that, then I feel ok about him going. I'm noticing he is very close to where J was at his age. Very similar determination, drive, enthusiasm, precociousness, and abilities. Not that I should compare, but it might just prepare me for what's to come:

walked alone at 10 months
had about 7 words at 11 months
held pencil correctly at 12 months
held fork/spoon correctly at 12 months
knew alphabet at 15 months
completely day/night potty trained at 2 yrs 3 mos
took gymnastics class at 2 yrs
wrote name at 2 yrs
propelled self on 'big swings' (pumped legs) at 2 yrs
read words at 3
started dance classes at 3 yrs
tied shoes (and anything else) at 3 yrs 11 mos
read books at 4
wrote well at 4 yrs
taught herself cursive at 5

walked alone at 9 months
held pencil correctly at 12 months
held fork/spoon correctly at 12 months
spoke first words at 2 yrs
knew alphabet and colors at 2 yrs
completely day/night potty trained at 2 yrs 4 mos
snapped fingers at 3 yrs
tied shoes at 3 yrs 4 mos
wrote name at 3 yrs
blew bubbles with gum at 3 yrs
zipped coat at 3 yrs
buttoned shirt at 3 yrs
read Bob books at 3 yrs
hit a baseball over the fence at 3 yrs
Sunday school at 3 yrs
reads longer words at 4 yrs
started dance class at 4 yrs

So, while J continued an even progression, W had a huge burst of activity at 3 yrs old. At 4 they seem to have had the same abilities. And K was mostly right there too with most things (walked at 9 months, potty trained before 2.5, and I know she was reading and writing before PreK). W's teachers constantly tell him (and me) how smart he is. I certainly don't want him down the school's road to handling smart kids. They have no idea what their doing. Th gifted program, though well intentioned, was still forced, uninteresting work that took most of the fun out of learning.

Oh, one of the moms at dance asked me how J had a dance lesson in the morning, "doesn't she have school?".
"No, she's homeschooled".
And I went right into WHY, lol! I did keep it very "gentle" and after a few minutes she agreed it seemed better and that her son has been asking to homeschool. She just assumed it was too expensive (she pays $6000/yr for his Catholic high school). I set the record straight and recommended TLHB for her to read. That book just gets better and better. I cannot put it down. I'm telling you if anyone needs more confidence to homeschool GET THIS BOOK! You don't even need to have teenagers to read it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

J found some interlocking cardboard pieces and created a 3-dimensional, portable tic-tac-toe game. It folds down flat when your finished and she made a folder to keep it in. She also made pieces labeled "X" and "O" on carboard squares. She is very proud of it. W has been a little on the ornery side lately. He is getting annoyed at the kids tattling on him at school for no reason. He's a huge grouch by the time I pick him up. He still wants to be there, though. I want him home next year. I dread having to endure the crap I'm going to get about it from everyone. That's such a huge thing for me. Unfortunately, I have a very difficult time letting things slide and my feelings can get hurt pretty easily.

W has been amazing me with understanding reading concepts. He can't really read well yet, but is a step or 2 beyond the BOB books. Here's an example from yesterday: He saw my Diet Coke can and told me he can spell 'Coke', C-O-K-E. He said - that's a silent 'e' and the 'o' says 'oh', not 'ah'. So he grabbed a magazine and looked for all the silent 'e' words and got them all right: game, time, and code. I know he didn't learn that in school.

There might be a Transit strike today. It's about 7am and they still didn't come to an agreement. A Transit strike would be very bad. Millions of people in this city need the buses and subways to get to work. Schools will open 2 hours later, K's dance tonight will be cancelled, B would probably take the LIRR to Penn Station and walk the rest of the way. J has solo practice at 9:30 this morning and B and K may need rides at that time. UGH. I have nothing to do with the transit workers' salaries/benefits and yet my family will be paying for their anger. They shouldn't do this to people who aren't involved.

(Hey! I just found out I could change the font and the colors! Kewl)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It is sooo cold this week. I think today's average was around 19 degrees. W refuses to wear a hat or a scarf because they're "itchy". Nor will he wear a long-sleeved shirt. Half the time he'll agree to a pullover sweatshirt and he'll wear the hood in lieu of a hat. J brought him into school while I stayed right outside in the car. I always wonder if anyone in there even notices a 9 y/o girl walking out of the building alone. She's been prepped on what to say, in case. She's at the point where she almost dares them to say something to her. LOL. I'm sensing some good ole homeschool pride right there! Woohoo!

At home J and I looked at lapbook examples online. She loved what she saw and is already full of ideas to do her own. She then read to me out of her Colonial Times book and was actually upset when we I had to cut it short to pick up her brother :^) . After dance class, K, J and I were talking about colleges and K said she wants to be a fashion designer and go to F.I.T. J said SHE want to do the same thing and of course K got annoyed but they decided they could go into business together. They would design their clothes and also be their own runway models. And they decided to stay local and work on Fashion Avenue in Manhattan. J went right for the notebook and started creating some sketches. I gave her a pile of too-small stuff I was about to toss and she experimented cutting some up and turning t-shirts into tank tops and long-sleeves into long fingerless gloves. Now she wants a sewing machine and more sketchbooks.

I was reading about how some homeschooled kids take classes at a community college or "junior college" for college credit. So, I started researching how it's done in NYC. I'll assume that a community college and a junior college are the same thing - no one calls it "junior college" here. Most of the colleges I looked up require that you be at least 18 to take classes. Some have "continuing education", but that's not for any credits. Then I looked up "non-degree" programs and found some. Hunter College has programs for "qualified" high school students, whatever that means. So I guess I still have to figure out how this is done.

I've started reading the Teenage Liberation Handbook, since K isn't. I already love it. Man, Grace just tells it like it is. I love her. The book makes you really reflect on your own crappy school experiences and wonder where this woman was back then when you needed her! It's a fantastic book so far. I recommend it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I finally figured out what I want to say to folks who constantly ask me why we homeschool. I came up with this scenario. (although it may not come out this way most of the time):

Them: Hey, no school today?

Me: No, she's homeschooled.

Them: Why would you do that?

Me: Because my daughter is more than just another kid out of 30. She's not one of the "average". She shouldn't have to concede to someone else's idea of how, what, and when she learns. She has her own learning style and her own interests. She finds it much more effective to engage in real life applied learning as opposed to the school way which is canned and artificial. Socially, she is at an advantage. Her friends are all different ages instead of all the same. She knows how to interact with adults as well as little children since she's out in the real world more than schoolchildren are. Instead of being cooped up for over 6 hours a day behind a desk being forced to conform, my daughter is free to run, play, explore her world intensely, and be a child. She can eat when she's hungry, sleep when she's tired, and use the bathroom when she needs to. I have no worries about her self-esteem remaining intact throughout her teen years. Nor do I worry about her falling in with the wrong crowd, changing who she is to fit in, or facing any kind of continuous peer harassment. She maintains a wonderful love of learning and self-motivation since coming home and best of all, she is happy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I love seeing all the learning that goes on here. J and W were playing with a garland of gold beads. They pulled it into a straight line and whipped a "wave" back and forth to each other. She asked if this is how ocean waves work, so I looked it up and this led to discussions on wind, earthquakes, plate shifting (tectonics), and tsunamis. Sunday school was uneventful; they're having Christmas parties next week. W and I watched another "Christmas Carol" movie together and he asked so many great questions. He really pays attention. He has been writing a LOT. He asks me how to spell certain things and he makes lists. He makes a card for his teacher almost every day and was praised at school for remembering to bring in something round, LOL.

I think J and I will make a lapbook together this week on colonial times. She's so interested in that time period and a lapbook can bring out her creativity. It looks like fun and she's excited about it. I don't know how we'll go about it yet, but I'll post pictures when we're done. She's still doing lots of drawings every day and shows W how to draw cartoon characters. She has been busy updating her websites and IM'ing and emailing friends. A cool thing she likes to do is bring up a digital photo on "Paint" and add things to it (glasses, mustache, etc). Neopets is still her favorite website - she plays Hannah and the Caves a lot. Then of course there's the workbooks, reading, writing, consumer/household math, and dance classes that round out her week. There is so much getting done and being learned and the best part is there is no stress or pressure and she's HAPPY! I couldn't ask for homeschooling to be better than this.

I've been looking at different high schools all week for K. I need to know where she'll be going by this time next year, so I figure I'd better be prepared. I like the local Catholic high schools, but she can only go if she can get a scholarship. The "good" public schools are an option if she can keep an "A" average. She wants to try out for one of the performing arts schools, but I know the kids who make it in have been somewhat trained for years. She'll still audition, though. The closest public high schools suck and I think she's too little to travel into Manhattan for school every morning. That leaves one other school - that accepts kids by lottery. I explained the situation to her and concluded with the fact that if none of these high schools pan out, then homeschooling will be the route we will go. She said OK. Wow! That's the closest I've gotten to a 'yes' so far!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

B took J to dance rehearsal this afternoon. She did her solo at the end and I'm glad B got to see the whole thing. P (her solo coach) was there, too, and told B that J is doing really well. She mentioned something about how J has "eight eights" at the end and how hard that is. They stopped at Michaels Craft on the way home to pick up pins so we could make these cool ornaments. While they were out, I put up the tree, lights, bead garland, and ribbon. The kids put on most of the ornaments.

We all sat around the table making ornaments out of styrofoam balls, pins, beads, and sequins. I followed the directions that were given, having a starting point and continuing with my pins and sequins in concentric circles until I got to the other side. B got all elaborate with his, using pearl ended pins and making it look like a crown pattern. K made her initial out of pins and beads and added sequins all around it. J decided hers was going to be a tomato and put a series of red sequins all over. W made a snowman out by pinning 3 balls together and added eyes and other decorations. Then he took that apart and stuck a bunch of pins in the snowman's head. Then he wanted to make one like mine and I showed him how to put the bead and sequin on the pin. Then he got frustrated because it wasn't "nice" like mine. SIGH.

B is at band rehearsal tonight - they have a gig on Monday night. The kids have Sunday school tomorrow and I plan on cleaning all day. I wish I would just stick with my daily schedule and I wouldn't have to cram all the cleaning in on the weekends. We got our new washing machine, but the delivery guy couldn't hook it up for some reason. Now we have to wait til the plumber comes sometime this week. Thankfully I did lot of laundry the other day and everyone has plenty of clean clothes. I will stick with my schedule this week.

Friday, December 09, 2005

J and I went to the laundromat yesterday. Boy, I have never felt so stupid. I haven't been to a laundromat in over 10 years and didn't expect everything to be so "new-fangled". You use cards now instead of pushing in quarters. A talking machine tells you how much you have left on your card. I put the soap in the wrong hole, forgot to add bleach to the whites, and didn't realize you could program the dryer to go for a full 45 minutes instead of getting up to insert the card every 8 minutes. A large washer cost $4.29. I remember them being $1.50. The dryer was $.29 for 8 minutes. I remember it used to be $.25 for a half-hour (or was that the parking meter?). At least they gave you free soap.

J brought her bridge workbook to do while we sat there and waited. She got a couple of pages done - division, past-tense verbs, and a page about the US flag where she wrote about the differences between the colonial one and today's. We should be getting our new washing machine tomorrow.

Today we woke up to a beautiful snowy morning. Several inches of nice big, fat, watery snowflakes that make great snowballs. The kids and I love to eat fresh snow. We scrape it off every surface in the backyard and it's heaven. NYC snow gets pretty scuzzy after a day, so we have to get it while the gettin's good! I craved crushed ice and snow when I was pregs with W. B would smash ice cubes and put the "snow" in a bowl for me with a spoon every day. And then I couldn't even look at ice for months afterward. Now I love it again.

Dance is still in full swing (ha ha, get it? dance, swing?). J had technique today and has tap, jazz, and solo rehearsal tomorrow. Her solo is done, but she needs a lot of "clean-up". She goes to competition with it in February and she can't wait. B is going to finish the Christmas lights tomorrow and put up the tree and tree lights. Then the kids and I will decorate while he's outside. Our asshole neighbors up the block totally copied our decorations this year. We always have the same setup every year and were very original. Now they have the same stuff and ideas as us. Every day K threatens to cut their wires. So now we just have to come up with something better. SO THERE!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

B has been getting a lot of holiday gifts from work. The other day he brought home 5 boxes of Michael Mootz chocolates, and today we got a UPS delivery of honey-baked turkey (with baby swiss wheel and mustards) from the Honey Baked Ham Company and this box of assorted Godiva Chocolates. Last year someone gave him a Sirius Satellite radio set (with car set). We also have a free trip coming. We were supposed to join one of his sales reps on a cruise this March, but they can't accomodate any kids, so he offered us our own vacation with the kids - anywhere, anytime, all expenses paid. I looked into a Club Med resort in Florida, but they were booked, so now we're thinking of a resort in Mexico. This is the same rep who gave us 2-days worth of Dorney park tickets, took us all out for an upscale dinner, and book a hotel room for us. A couple of years ago, we joined some sales reps on a trip to Venice and Florence. Everything was included (airfare, hotel, meals, tours, entertainment) and all we spent money on was souvenirs for the family. It was the best vacation we'd ever had. I told B he better not ever lose this job! LOL!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Yawn. Nothing much is going on around here. J did some reading today - Mitch and Amy by Beverly Cleary. Then I showed her the World Almanac for Kids website and she did a bunch of science and history trivia quizzes. I noticed afterward she was perusing the 2005 Time Almanac we have and started asking me questions about different things. She finally received a response to the celebrity she wrote to a couple of months ago. She got a short letter and an autographed 8x10 photo. This evening she wrote another fan letter - to a rock band this time. I didn't get to read it before she sealed and stamped it, but she did ask me for the spellings of "especially" and "sincerely". K was so impressed that J got a response that she, too, plans on writing to celebrities. I love that J enjoys reading now and has found a cool way to want to write again. I'm sure if she was still in school, she would have continued to find no joy in either.

W had hip-hop class tonight. He's not staying with the beat sometimes and the teacher constantly stops the whole class to go over and over it again with W. I don't think it's that big of a deal. W will get it - I mean he has until the June recital to get it right. I think I'll go over it with him a lot this week so he can really impress them next week, LOL. Oh, and he's done with Musical Theater. He hates the "girliness" of it and just refuses to participate any longer. That's fine - I didn't want him in it to begin with (the 2 teachers dragged him in the first day), K was annoyed to always be paired with him (lol), and now I'll save $20 a month.

I think I'm going to nix the Christmas photo cards this year and just send regular cards. I'm way too broke and lazy lately. I'm off to bed now. I caught another respiratory bug. Yuck!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Today was the opposite of yesterday. Nice and relaxed. The kids went to Sunday School and B ran a few errands. He spent most of the afternoon putting up our outside Christmas lights. J and W went out to help and even got to make a little snowman from the 2 inches of snow we got this morning. J made tuna casserole for everybody for lunch - she's getting to be such a great cook! K wanted her hair to look like yesterday so after her shower I spent about 30 minutes on it with the straightening iron. Oh, and yes, my hair still looks fantastic too. ;)

Our washing machine died in the middle of a load of towels so we have no clean towels nor does W have any clean uniforms. I may have to schlep to the laundromat in the morning. We're broke this week and of course everyone seems to need money for something: W needs money for the Christmas Gift Shop at school, K needs lunch money, the laundromat will cost at least $10, I owe $15 to the dance studio fund raiser, and I still have to get the damn Christmas cards done. Shit. Oh well. I'm going to stay positive and figure a way through the week.
Today was a total whirlwind. K and I dropped J off at dance rehearsal at 12:30 and headed over to get her hair cut. She got the same as J and just loved herself afterward (LOL). Then we went over to the store where I saw a cute dress (which was even cuter at only $19.99). She ran right over to it before I even pointed it out, tried it on and it was perfect! It's sleeveless, so we also bought a sequinned short jacket to wear over it. We also got a strapless bra and a pair of earrings there. We headed back over to the dance studio and caught the kids running their solos. When class was over, the 3 of us went to the mall. Ok, mall + Saturday + December = BIG MISTAKE. But we somehow found a parking spot and had some good luck. We went first to Payless and got K shoes and a bag. Then to Claire's and got J a bag and some earrings, and both girls got some lip gloss. That's it, we were done.

I dropped the girls home around 5pm and went to get myself a haircut. It's been over 3 years since my last one, so I was due. I look like a new person and I don't know why I waited so long. At home, K put on the dress and said it was really loose. I checked the tag and it said Large. WTF??? I know she tried a small on in the store. Now it's almost time to leave and K was saying to just pin it. I decided to scour her room looking for the tags she ripped off and zip back to the store to get the right size. Thankfully they let me exchange it and I zipped back home.

We got to the party right on time. This Sweet 16 was right out of MTV. My niece had on what looked almost like a wedding dress complete with a ton of makeup and a tiara. The hall was set up like a wedding with numbered tables and assigned seating. There was a DJ and an open bar and tons of food. W wouldn't take his coat off for over an hour and totally refused to stand in front of the Christmas tree for a picture. An hour later his shoes and tie were off and I think his socks were too. Birthday girl called people up to light her candles and we all did lots of dancing. I'm sure I embarrassed the hell out of my kids with my Electric Slide, Macarena, and Cotton-Eye-Joe. I was one of the "old people" dancing. I felt pretty old, too.

K wants a party like this. J does not. I think it was a bit much. But in NYC we have parties like this for any occasion. No one bats an eye anymore over spending thousands of dollars on a birthday party. Does anyone out there have these big ole shindigs where you come from? My relatives in Montana don't do things this big. I mean, they have backyard weddings - which is completely unheard of here. Sometimes I read about how things are done in other parts of the country and I long for that kind of simplicity. I don't know. Maybe everyone feels the grass is always greener on the other side.

Friday, December 02, 2005

J had a private dance lesson this morning and the number is finally all learned! Now the rest of the lessons will be for "clean up". I think it looks great. During her lesson, I took W for a haircut. I will only go to this one place from now on. I've tried others but no one can cut W's hair like this old Russian guy can. It's like a 1950's cut. I love it! J finished later than I thought so I told W he won't be going to school today. Man did he cry. I felt terrible, but I had so much to do that I thought it wouldn't be a big deal. I promised him a hot dog from the cart outside the store and that cheered him up a bit. J and I had the shishkebabs (or "monkey meat" as I call them). I could eat 10 of them at once, I swear.

So we all went to Kohl's and J found a perfect dress for the party tomorrow. We also found tights and cute little strappy velvet shoes to go with it. The dress was $68 on sale for $34 and the shoes were on sale for $18. Back near home, J got a haircut and the lady straightened it all out. Then I took W to the kiddy store nearby and got him black pleated pants, a shirt, and tie. Now I have to find black shoes for him.

J had dance tech class this afternoon. Tomorrow, she has group rehearsal and solo, so during that time, I have to get all K's stuff. First a haircut, then to Macy's for a dress and shoes. I think when everyone is all dressed for the party, that's when I'll take the Christmas picture!!

Right now W is asleep on my lap, J is asleep on my bed, K is also on my bed watching cartoons, B is watching a basketball game in J's room, and I'm about to start cleaning the kitchen right after I finish my Michelob Ultra. I have a cold and I really don't feel like moving at all. Please say some "get off your ass" prayers for me. Til tomorrow...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

That's it! I have to change. I have been disorganized, lazy, and have been spending too much money for way too long now. Yesterday I went to the grocery store and spent $100 for 7 days worth of food (breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, drinks) for the 5 of us. Plus, included in that $100 I got some cleaners and disposable plates, forks, and bowls because I can't seem to wash the real ones faster than we use them. I did so well at the store. I have to always shop like that and stop ordering take-out!

I am spending all day today and tomorrow cleaning this house. I could do so much more with the kids at home if only it wasn't so cluttered in here. I get so anxious and depressed looking at the piles of clothes, papers, dishes, etc. Flylady works for me only when I constantly read the motivational testimonials. Otherwise my schedule goes out the window. I can do it! I can cook every night! I can clean this place! I can be organized! I can save money!

J has been busy with dance this week. She is almost finished learning her solo. I'm glad P is taking her time with it. J has been practicing it every day. Tomorrow is another private lesson. As far as J's homeschooling schedule, she hasn't been following it perfectly - actually not at all this week, but she finds comfort knowing it's there. Today she is working on a crossword puzzle book (which is full of vocabulary and logical thinking) and helping me tidy up. I told K she could take off school so we could go shopping and she asked if we could go after school instead. She said she really doesn't like to miss school. I swear I don't know where she came from. If my mother ever told me I could take off I would jump at that. W's been asking to stay home from school the past few days, but then rushes around all excited about going. Today he made his teacher a card and couldn't wait to get there to show the class and give it to her. Sometimes I wonder if maybe K and W are just the school "type". K NEVER wants to stay home (unless she's deathly ill). And she still didn't start reading the Teenage Liberation Handbook I gave her.

So anyway, as of today, grocery shopping is done for the week, I have 75% of my Christmas shopping done, I have started on the "the big clean", and I know what we're having for dinner tonight. Over the next week I have to take everyone for a haircut, get dresses and shoes for the girls (Sweet 16 party on Saturday), put up our Christmas decorations outside and inside, find an Airborne Express to send back a package, get Christmas cards made, and finish decluttering and organizing this apartment. I think I should write these all down.