Monday, October 31, 2005

This apartment is finally sparkling clean. I am so sticking to my Flylady schedule from now on. It was pretty painless, too. Boxes and baskets that were filled with who-knows-what are emptied and gone. All winter clothes are hung and put away. 4 loads of laundry are done and away. Floors are swept and swiffered, bathroom is shining, kitchen is so clean and no dishes are anywhere, beds are made, and surfaces are clear. My mood is great today.

W's Halloween parade went all around the block. I thought it was just throughout the school. I can watch! J and I zipped to CVS to buy a disposable camera (all my real cameras are broken) and caught W's class as they were coming up the block. I took a few pictures of him (as he rolled his eyes in embarrassment). Then J and I went home for a few minutes so she could change into dance clothes for her solo lesson. We picked up W at 10:40 and got to the studio by 11. Her solo is so amazingly fantastic. P is really pushing all she can into 2 1/2 minutes. I can't believe J is getting it all.

We picked up K and waited for B to get home (early today). Then we all went trick-or-treating - except K, who stayed behind on the porch with the big basket of goodies to hand out to the kids (she loves that job!). We went down one block and up another and their bags were filled pretty quickly. W got tired and J and I headed over to her best friend's house (h/s friend, G) for their annual Halloween parade (which includes all 15 buildings in their co-op complex) and more t-or-t'ing in their building. Then we went to G's house where the girls had a great time trading candy and giggling for over an hour. T (G's mom) and I as usual, had a great conversation about life and homeschooling. I just love having someone close by to talk to about it.

Meanwhile, B took K and W t-or-t'ing some more with our neighbors from up the block. When J and I got home (around 9) they were both asleep and their candy bags were ridiculously huge. J fell asleep a few minutes after we got home. Daylight savings time is great! LOL. I think it was a really fun Halloween this year.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

We spent the afternoon Friday driving around to stores trying to find K the clothes whe wanted. It was fun, actually. We did manage to find everything and she was so happy. I even found J a pair of jeans. K had a great time at the dance. W had a Halloween party at school and Monday he goes in from 8:20 to 10:20 for a Halloween parade where he can wear his costume.

J went to dance class at 4:30 and W fell asleep so I read in the car for 45 minutes (love it). Then K came out to get dressed and we drove to the dance. I dropped her off at 6 and sped back to pick up J. We drove her friend, S, home and picked up Chinese take-out for dinner. At 9 I picked up K and we were all just so tired from the running around all day, that we all fell asleep really early.

Today I cleaned all day, following my Flylady schedule I made. I don't know why I resist it so often when it really works well. B and the kids ran some errands, J practiced her solo a few times, W and J spent a lot of time drawing, J did her Sunday school homework on MS Word, and K cleaned her room and played on the computer, adding to her website and IM'ing with friends. At night we all watched scary shows on tv. It was a nice, relaxing day.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I just got J's 1st quarterly report all done and ready to mail. I don't need to mail it until the end of November, but I like getting it out of the way. It took all of 5 minutes. All I did was change the dates. The basic info stays the same - she covered all the required subjects, she is performing at a satisfactory level, she exceeded the number of hours, and had no absences, yadda, yadda, yadda. They don't care anyway. But, I still keep a great learning log if they ever hound me for specifics. You never know. It's an MS Word document organized by 10 week quarters and required subjects. I like it. It keeps me sane.

Today was pretty much like yesterday except we didn't go to the playground: J skated, read, did workbook pages, went to dance class. Oh and we did a science experiment today! J skimmed through the Weather section of her book and landed on an experiment to make rain in a jar. And it actually worked. J is liking the structure so far. Well, it looks like structure, but she is the one choosing what to do out of my suggestions and when to begin and end. So maybe we're not fully unschooling right now, but are just relaxed and child-led. I gotta get over myself with these labels.

K's dance is tomorrow night. She wants me to buy her some more clothes to go with her costume. She surprised me with a 90 on a math quiz today. She is still preoccupied with boys, clothes, and friends, but I think maybe she's starting to understand where her main priorities should lie. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

J roller-bladed home after we dropped W off at school. We found another weird tree so picked some leaves off of it to identify. Also, the gingko trees dropped all their "puke-balls" onto the ground and the Asian people in my neighborhood collect them. I have no idea why they would want a bag full of little yellow balls that smell something like puke and dog poo, but there must be some good reason. I stepped on one last week and my car stunk for 2 days.

At home, we found a cool site with optical illusions and looked at about 30 of them. Then J did more of her workbook. It's a 4th-5th-grade summer "bridge" workbook. She loves it. I like it because every page or 1/2 page has activities on a different subject (instead of 1 subject per section). Today's work was on math fact families, U.S. products and what part of the country they come from, finding info (local, federal, and state) in a telephone book, and word prefixes. Many times she'll do the brief activity and will want continue with more of the same or research it further on the computer or in other books. I think that's so cool.

She skated outside again and after we picked up W, we went to the playground. It was FREEZING and hardly any kids were there. My kids are never cold, though, so we stayed for 1/2 hour. We picked up K, I dropped W off at MIL's, dropped the girls off at dance, and I went to Curves. Yeehaww!

I found out today that J made it into the tap production she auditioned for last week! She will be the youngest in the class by 3 years. She's so excited. The owner, X, told me that J has improved tremendously from last year. And that she is so focused now and is really outstanding. X also said that she will be more strict this year and that not all the kids will do all the dances with their group. She told me I have nothing to worry about with J. J will be one of the "core" dancers in her group. I'm also getting good feedback about her solo and about W in his 2 dance classes. (he's the youngest in his class and I was concerned about his behavior and messing around). They have started working on J's costume, too. I can't wait until it all comes together.

In the evening, J spent about an hour making a website for a kid in her dance class. He told her what he wanted and she was more than happy to oblige - since she knows how to make nice sites. K is doing a research project for Science on Iguanas, due Friday, and seems to be on the right track with all her schoolwork this week. We had a talk about what's expected of her and she promised to focus more on her grades.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I was talking with my friend, M, on the phone this morning and I happened to mention that J was still asleep (9:15am). Man, you would have thought I said J was having coffee and a cigarette or something. She got annoyed that I would allow her sleep so late and she should be up doing work at this time. She said she thought homeschoolers were up early at the kitchen table doing work from 8 to 3. OMG! I gently explained that we don't do things like schools do. I said she is a free child now and will go about her day at her own pace. I could go on and on til I was blue in the face and she still wouldn't get it. She then ended the conversation with, "Well, it's your life". Sigh.

Anyway, while everyone was away at work and school, J read more of her book. I saw some messages on the NY Homeschooling email group about testing and that gave me an idea. I asked J if she'd like to take a test. She was really excited about it. I found a 4th grade Texas practice math test she could do online and she spent almost an hour on it. She got about 80% correct. 2/3 of the ones she got wrong were careless mistakes (adding wrong, misreading the question, etc). The other 1/3 was stuff she didn't know. We went over every wrong answer and she insisted on learning what she didn't know. It only took one brief explanation for her to understand the math but I still felt a bit too "teachy". She enjoyed it, though, so I'll bookmark some more tests for her to play around with at her leisure.

W fell asleep at 5pm so he missed his hip-hop class. K is planning her outfit for tomorrow and B, J, and W (who woke up at 7) are watching The Great Pumpkin. In a few minutes I'm going to go over K's schoolwork with her. I can help her with anything she doesn't understand (I hope).

Monday, October 24, 2005

J asked me if we could have a little more structure. She actually said she wants to homeschool the way our friends do - they use Core Knowledge and are very structured. Of course I'll do whatever she wants, but I know she's not one for formal sit-down lessons. That would never work. She hated it in school and hated it when we tried it months ago. I think she likes the idea of schedules, lists, and being sure she knows things. She gets very uncomfortable feeling aimless and making all the decisions. With the advice of my MDC friends, I have decided to do a bit more guiding and a lot more "together stuff".

She likes following the TCOS from worldbook and we'll try a daily or weekly schedule or check-off list. I'll present the ideas/guideline/lists/suggestions and she'll be the one selecting from that. Today she found an online typing test and played with that for a while. Then she read a few pages in her chapter book and went right to a workbook for some arithmetic and language arts. She was happy I was happy and all was good.

J was out roller-skating today and we picked up W and went to the playground. It was freezing out but as usual, I was the only one who was cold. W is playing with Daniella again - today was tag and duck-duck-goose.

K came home from school with a headache so she stayed home for Musical Theater class. J and W enjoyed it, though. They went over their "Wicked" number and at the end of class applied stage makeup on each other. This week they can wear Halloween costumes to class and next week they can bring a friend. We'll be trick-or-treating on our block this year (we go to mom's sometimes). They can easily get 2 big bags filled here hitting both sides of one block. In Long Island you have to walk around way too much and half the people are never home. I always loved Halloween in the city. T-or-t'ing was always excellent - I'd never have to leave my (double-6-story, 150-family) apartment building and there was always someone somewhere having a party. As teens we would egg and shaving-cream each other and silly-string people's houses and cars. Ahh, memories.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

We had 2 birthday parties today. One was for my friend's dd who turned 6 and the other was for my nephew, Paul, who turned 13. One of the mom's (a first grade teacher in N.J.) and I talked about homeschooling and she said it was fabulous that I was doing that. She knew nothing about homeschooling except from her neighbors who are born-again Christians who play "Jesus music" all day long and don't let their kids interact with anyone of differing faiths. I told her that's a whole 'nother group of homeschoolers than the ones I know and deal with.

I felt very at ease talking with her and started describing homeschooling in new ways. I asked her if she could picture how a 3 or 4-year-old child is, with so much curiosity, so much enthusiasm, asking tons of questions, so excited to learn something new, etc. I said that is how homeschooled children are - especially unschooled ones. Children who are free to explore and learn with no pressure, demands or expectations are as open-to-everything as those preschoolers. I described how J has gotten that back now that she is away from school and how I have been hoping that all the "schoolishness" (rhymes with foolishness, doesn't it?) will soon leave her entirely. She was amazed. I was proud of how I handled the questions. And I hope I maybe enlightened her a bit.

J saw her friend, Samantha, who she's knows since they were 3. They don't see each other more than 3x a year, but when they do it's as if they just saw each other yesterday. I have to call them more often for playdates. K hung out with a girl named Victoria, who was at Paul's house. They're both in 7th grade so I'm sure they had tons of clothes and boys to talk about. J played mainly with her little cousins. They are 3 and 5 and J loves being the "big sister" to them. W ran around with his 7 and 5-year old cousins for a while, playing tag and hide and seek. It was so cold and rainy today that all games were kept indoors.

I spoke with B on the car ride home about my conversation with the teacher and he seemed more "on the same page" with me on the homeschooling W idea. K is still refusing to give it a second thought, but I am going to buy her The Teenage Liberation Handbook and Guerilla Learning, both by Grace Llewellyn. I know she'll read them and at least it will open her mind up a little to where I'm coming from.

I was so proud of my kids today. Well, I'm proud of them every day, but just watching them play, interact with other kids, and just "be", I felt so lucky to be their mom.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I am thisclose to pulling K out of school. All of a sudden her grades have slid downhill and her attitude sucks. And I'm the bad guy no matter how I approach her. She adamantly does not want to be homeschooled but I only see this getting worse if she stays in school. I wish I knew about homeschooling 11 years ago.

I am more confident in my decision to h/s W starting in either K or 1st grade. I am at the point where I don't give a rat's ass what anyone thinks anymore. These are MY kids and I'm not bowing down to anyone else's opinions. I am so tired of reading yet another school horror story. There is scandal after scandal every day. Teacher strikes (and complaints and demands), sex with students (today's story), guns and knives, misuse of funds, gangs, bullies, less than half the kids passing, teachers punching kids in the face (yesterday's story) and the list goes on and on and on. Why the hell do we put our children in these places??!

On a happier note, J has been doing wonderfully. We are out every day in the sunshine. She is finding interests in new things and in old things. Her behavior and focus has improved tremndously. She is so happy all the time. She is reading and writing more now and retains it all, too. This is what I want for all my kids. A part of me wonders why I just don't homeschool them all. The other part wants to give them the choice. With W I'm not concerned because the 2.5 hr PreK is just fun for him like any other activity. For K, I am concerned, but she's older and I can't force her to homeschool. Can I?

Other than that, I finally got my h/s confirmation letters from the district. One says they re happy to inform me that this office is in receipt of my intent to h/s my dd J and she has been registered as homeschooling student. And they hope to be of assistance to me so "please don't hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns". The other letter is my checklist of required documents. Next thing due is the 1st Q-report on 11/22. Very official. And with it I can get some more educator's discounts! ;^)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

J and I had a nice walk again today after dropping W off at school. We went shopping at a new store and one of the workers asked me if school let out early today. I said no she's homeschooled. She said that's pretty nice and did you know there's a great charter school over on so-and-so street that's excellent? Yes I know about every school in this district (all 2 billion of them). I have to figure out a good line that just shuts people up.

The kids had fun in the playground again and W was involved in a great game of tag with 5 other kids. We picked up K 45 minutes later and got ready for W's hip-hop class. J saw an email I received from the dance studio owner about an audition tonight for a new tap class. I know this means "very-advanced" and was about to delete it when J said, "Wait, I think I'd like to try out for that". Hey, why not.

W is doing wonderfully at his class - even the owner was impressed today! I brought him home afterwards and left J there to hang out until the audition. At home I helped K study for tomorrow's math test (calculating surface area and volume of various 3-dimensional figures, ugh), ate dinner (B made steak, yum), and went back to the studio. J was the youngest one there. No one from her team tried out. She definitely held her own with all the 12-22 y/os. P was there and told me how hard it was and how she was really doing well with it. I don't think she'll make the class (they're doing a huge production number I'm told), but I'm so proud of her for trying out - and planting herself right in the front line, lol.

After auditions were over, all the kids hung out and showed what they learned of their solos and group numbers so far. J did, too. P happened to have a copy of her song and J performed it a couple of times with all the hoots and cheers from the other kids. We didn't get out of there til almost 10pm. J could hang out with the kids and dance all night if she could. Well, at least she's able to sleep late!

Monday, October 17, 2005

When J and W woke up this morning they were in the mood for writing. J asked me to find her favorite tv star's mailing address. I found it online and she copied it onto an envelope. Then she sat at the table with a large notepad creating her letter. She wrote almost a whole page. It flows beautifully and there is no more of the choppiness and "all-over-the-place" writing that she used to get criticized at school for. I am so impressed. She came into this all on her own without being made to do any writing for months. She may not write very often, but when she does, I'm amazed. She has come so far.

While J was writing her letter, W asked me to help him make a book. He folded some construction paper in half and drew a picture. Then he dictated to me what it should say: "Once upon a time there was a boy named W in the park. Then he started to play...".

I called the superintendent's office to ask why I still haven't received anything from them this year. He finally realized that since I sent the 4Q, AA, LOI, and IHIP all in the same envelope in June, whoever filed it away assumed that it was all part of one single document. I said (half-jokingly), "Oh, I see. So, no one is actually reading anything I send. I get it now". I kinda figured that was the case. It's all stupid formalities and pointless hoop-jumping. They couldn't give 2 shits about homeschooling families.

W went off to school and J and I walked home. J actually scootered home. We took the long way, collected some more leaf samples, and even stopped at the park for a while. She went on the swings and played with an adorable little toddler. At home she finished her letter and sealed it and then started reading some of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. She read for almost 30 minutes. After that, she picked up her atlas/map workbook and did some of the games in there - including finding Colorado cities using coordinates and another was a dot-to-dot of Mount Kiluaha in Hawaii.

We walked back up to get W (she scootered again) and we all went to the playground. Daniella was trying to get away from W but he kept following her. I told him to play with other kids and when he did, she went looking for him, LOL. 4-year-olds are funny. K went to a day-care with school this morning where they have to take on a buddy. They read and play games with them. She loved it and gets to do that every Monday morning. They call it "Career and Community". It's a great idea I think.

We got home by 4, changed clothes and went for some pizza and salad before Musical Theater class. While the kids were in class, I went to Curves and finally got my first workout in since July. I'm not South beaching all that much anymore, so I better workout or I'll really feel guilty! I got to peek in at the last 10 minutes of their class and W is really getting into all the acting! The girls are really enjoying it, too. Especially since they both love "Wicked" so much.

B went to rehearsal tonight and I plan on following my newly revamped cleaning schedule - evening routine. I am going to bed no later than 10:30pm, too. I have to get myself together. Workouts, cleaning, rest, grocery shopping, and clutter control are all things I am planning on improving in my life!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

B took K and W to the store while I stayed home to clean a bit. J wanted to stay home too, and practice her dance solo. P gave us a copy of the CD for her to practice with. And boy is she practicing. She must have went over it 100 times since Friday. She's only learned 1/3 of it so far (50 seconds out of 2 1/2 minutes). Thank goodness for a nice open dining room floor.

While B watched the Jets game and K hung out in her room, I took J and W to play in the backyard. The neighbor kid was out there, too. They played with his dog, Susie, drew with chalk on the pavement, rode bikes, scooters, skateboard, played baseball, pogo-sticked, and wet some dirt to play with (dumptrucks and all). It got so cold after a while, but none of the kids wanted their jackets. Am I getting old or what?

I was thinking how great it would be if dh's aunt moved out and we got her apartment, too. It would double our space and be so perfect. Our house would turn into 4 bedrooms, bathroom, and playroom on the 2nd floor and a huge eat-in kitchen, dining room, bathroom, living room, and outside patio overlooking backyard on the first floor. How cool would that be?!?! Oh well, I know it's only a dream.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I have such a desire to homeschool W. I can't believe that he is aware of so many things. He knows more than I give him credit for. His curiosity is at an all-time high and I don't want to see that squelched. I have no problem with preschool as it is only 2.5 hours a day and he loves being there. I remember Kindergarten out in Long Island (which was more like preschool is today). I remember having the best time there. If anything it fostered my love of learning - unlike the next 16 years of school. I'd maybe like to let him do Kindergarten and then we'll see. My 2 biggest obstacles are that he might want to remain in school and that my family will bombard me with rejections.

Then again he may fly through school at the top like K did. K's school experience mirrors an incredibly bubble-gum television school experience (except for a couple of nasty friend issues last year). Her love of learning is as strong as ever, she's very popular, and she's adored by her teachers. It's almost too good to be true. I wouldn't want W to miss an experience like that. For me it's not about being a militant homeschooler. I appreciate that I have several options for my kids' educational path. I will do what is best for each individual child. For J that means homeschooling. For K, it doesn't. For W, I just don't know.

The family is what gets to me. B and my mom tell me not to be too hasty and let's just see how he does in school. I won't even tell MIL that I'm thinking of homeschooling him. In a way, J's school problems were a blessing in disguise. We got to see how great homeschooling is and I can use her crappy experience as a reason to continue h/s'ing her and as a reason to want to h/s W. I guess I like having it as my excuse and crutch. I'm usually not good at explaining things to others and I feel like I "lose" arguements all the time. Especially with MIL. I hate that she has to come across as so intimidating and "right" all the time. I think a major convincing point will be the test J takes this spring. I have no doubt she will score high. But this may not be enough. They are concerned about them being around other kids. Our h/s group has enough activities and events to take care of that concern. W also takes 2 dance classes a week and will be in Little League in the spring. I see plenty of socialization opportunity in his life.

This has been just a long ramble of my jumbled thoughts. Writing all my feelings out is the best way for me to think. I'll eventually figure it out. There are so many points to consider.

Friday, October 14, 2005

J slept til 10:30 this morning. W and I got some 1-on-1 time and played some computer games together and he "read" me a book. J blogged a bit and played some strategy games on the computer when she woke up. After dropping W off at school (we got his sweater back) J and I headed over to the dance studio for her first solo rehearsal. It was so great! She's got a very fast 80s song and I think it's perfect for her. P, her instructor, is friends with the owner and works in her own dance studio in another part of Queens. She told me she HAD to be the one to teach J her solo and I believe this is the first time she has taught any of her friend's students. Both her dds are in the older company at J's school and the oldest one works the reception desk. So I asked her today what made her mom teach over here. She told me that P loves the way J dances and knew she would be able bring out J's potential. It's awesome because P's younger dd is the one who wins all the Platinum ribbons and Titles at the competitions. Today J learned many of those winning moves. She was so focused and determined. I can't wait until the January competition when she'll perform. I was getting all teary today at the first rehearsal - I probably won't be able to keep it together at all when I see her on stage.

Then it was onto regular dance tech in the afternoon. W stayed with MIL finally and K hung out with me. She got to see her friends there (who just had their eyebrows waxed). K had a little eyebrow-wax envy and is now begging to get hers done. Sigh. K also told the boy she was "dating" that she didn't want to date him anymore. I told her to just cool it with the boys now. I got an eye-roll for that one.

We got some take-out Indian food for dinner and now everyone's watching Napoleon Dynamite. Bill has a gig tomorrow night but other than that there are no plans for the weekend. I may go have a drink with my friend, M, on Sunday but I just want to clean again this weekend. Once I get my digital camera fixed I will start posting pictures again.
Hey! I found this picture of J when she was 3-years-old. She is part of the logo for her old dance studio (I crossed out the studio name for privacy reasons):

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Rain Rain Rain. I can't believe that it has rained for days. J spent the day relaxing, watching some tv, and using the computer. I did, too, actually. Days like this make you not want to do anything. W came out of school with someone else's sweater and K left her sweatshirt in one of her classrooms. I didn't feel in the mood for that today.

I was reading a gifted message board (don't know why I still read those) and one mom told how she was amazed at her 5 year old's ability to figure out this math problem: "Suzy went to the store and bought 5 dogs, and then Joe went to the store and bought 2 more dogs but one ran away. How many total dogs were there?". I decide to present this to W. He immediately came up with "6". I then tried it again with different numbers and he got that right. too. Then I made up my own simple addition and subtraction word problem questions and he got almost all of them right. I had absolutely no idea he could do this. He wanted more and more of this game so we "played" it for 20 more minutes. I love how math is so fun for him. If I made him sit for math lessons he definitely would not have been interested in it. It was spontaneous, fun, and there were no demands or expectations. THIS is how kids retain a love of learning.

J had technique class today. W fell asleep and I got to sit in the car and read the whole time. Ahhhhhhhh. I love that. When he woke up, class was over and we went in to get the girls. I saw J's solo instructor who said she starts rehearsals on Friday! Yay! She'll be dancing to some song by Rupee, I think. This is going to work out great because we made J's rehearsal during W's school hours. I need to give my full attention to this. I'm so excited for her!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

We are still eating the leftover pizza and Italian hero from my niece's party the other day. W likes it for breakfast. He gets a full lunch at school as well that he just raves about. We drove him to school and decided to leave the car there and walk home. J wanted to make it a nature walk and pick some flowers and leaves to bring home. We got out the Mid-Atlantic field guide and found most of the items. We had a White Snakeroot shrub and Silver Maple, Red Maple, Yellow Birch, and Scarlet Oak leaves. We had lots of pink and purple flowery things and some weeds, but couldn't find them in the book. She put each specimen into a baggie and labeled it. She included the Latin name and 1 cool fact from the guidebook.

AS I was flipping through the guide, she noticed a page on the food chain. She got excited and told me she knows about that and wanted to draw it. She grabbed paper and a pen and drew an ocean food chain with a whale at one end and plankton at the other. She gave it a title and decorated it a bit. Then she got some more paper and crayons and did leaf-rubbings of the leaves and flowers we couldn't identify. All of a sudden it was time to pick up W. I saw she put a backpack on and I told her she might not want to bring it since we were going to the playground. She said her workbooks, notebook, and pens were in there and she wanted to do some at the playground. Hmmm. ok.

They played with Sarah and her sister Daniella again. I love that there is a big playground behind the school. It was wet and dreary today, but kids don't care. After a while J and Sarah sat on a bench, far away from any noisy kids, and got out their workbooks. W and Daniella ran to the other side of the park and were trying to throw large acorns into the basketball hoop. We picked up K a little while later. At home, K made herself an omelet and went right on the phone and into her room. I think I'm going to buy a book called "Hold on to Your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld. I've heard good things about it and I believe it might keep us in the right direction where K is concerned. She's a great kid and I just don't want to see her grow up too fast.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My niece's party was fun even though it rained. We couldn't go to the farm as planned, but it was great. My sister, G, always has good parties. My other sister was supposed to come, but she and her boyfriend are leaving for a cross-country drive this week and had to tie up some loose ends. After their trip, they are heading out to India to volunteer in a small village teaching children English and how to read. My mom thinks she's out of her mind and is even more worried now since the area she's going to is right where the earthquake hit. But, that's my sister. I know she wants to do this and I think she will always regret it if she doesn't go.

I was talking to G's MIL and of course homeschooling came up as she asked about my kids. I didn't know what her opinion would be. Her family is not very AP/NP - they all formula feed, circumcise, let the kids CYO, and would never think of family bed, slings, cloth diapers, or organic food. And I feel that in a way, homeschooling is just another part of the AP/NP lifestyle. She asked why I wasn't homeschooling all my kids because it's a great thing and "a lot of people homeschool out here". See? I have to stop prejudging people (it comes from the same root as "prejudice"). It seems homeschooling is coming into its own around here! I can't wait for the day when everybody will add homeschooling to their list of educational choices. I bet folks will kick themselves for not looking into it earlier - I did.

So, it turns out the upcoming cabaret is not accepting any more singers for this weekend's show. The girls were a bit nervous anyway so I don't think they'll be too disappointed. There will always be something else that comes along.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The benefit was awesome! There were dozens of dance numbers performed and they were great. J's quad was all dressed and ready and went on 2 hours before they were scheduled. This was good because then they changed back into team clothes and got to relax and watch the rest of show.

J and S were together all day. W was hanging out with 6 or 7 other boys (dancers, little brothers, teachers' kids - all from our studio) and behaved pretty well all day. They sold snacks and drinks so that kept him happy all day, lol. The 12 y/o dancers were all there, too, and they hung out with K all day.

Toward the end of the day, whichever kids were left got to dance on the stage while a woman from New Orleans sang. J was right out there in front, as usual. Her solo instructor said she's starting with J this week! Can't wait!

All the kids had a fantastic time at the benefit. B and I did, too! We got Dance Relief t-shirts and bracelets and learned that they raised over $15,000 for the day! We were there over 6 hours but it didn't feel like it. Coming home was difficult - it was dark and pouring rain. I am so proud of myself that I was able to follow the directions backward and got home within 1.5 hours.

Today we're going to my niece's birthday party in Long Island. B is out with K and W getting a present for her and Halloween costumes for them. J refuses to step foot into a store with any kind of Halloween display. She just gave in her costume request to B, lol. I hope he doesn't pick out something I have to bring back tomorrow, sigh. ROFL!

Friday, October 07, 2005

I bought W this little $.99 chalkboard the other day and he has been using it a lot. He has discovered Hangman and plays with J. He whispers me the word and I tell him how many lines to put and where each letter goes that J guesses. He writes the "miss" letters in a box on top. He is pretty good at this game and he's getting some letter-writing practice in there as well. All of a sudden he doesn't make many letters backward anymore and his handwriting is rather straight. He knows all th lowercase letters but prefers to write in all caps. All my kids did that and they just seems to incorporate the lowercase into their writing over time.

He came home with the tide pool book again, lol. He sat down in the playground with it wanting me to read to him. Then he ran around gathering as many acorns as he could hold and offered them to some older kids who were making a game of throwing them at each other. J ran around with a little 3 y/o girl and helped her onto the swings and slides. J loves that "helper" role.

J had dance tech today. W fell asleep so I sat in the car with him while she and K went downstairs. I got to relax and read for almost an hour til W woke up. We're all set for tomorrow's benefit. The duffel bag is packed with costume, makeup and extra clothes. It should be a good day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

K's report was all done and ready to print last night when we discovered we were completely out of printer ink. I emailed it to dh's aunt and then discovered her computer can't even open any XP documents. I also emailed it to MIL so I could print it out over there but dh's aunt said she only has a black cartridge. Can't use that because there are lots of bright pictures in the report. I called Staples and Office Max, but there was no time to get there and back. B got annoyed since K should have done this 2 weeks ago when she was first told. I ended up writing the teacher a note explaining the situation and hoping she wouldn't be penalized too badly. B printed it out at work today and she'll hand it in tomorrow. After school she said the teacher said No problem and he won't penalize at all. Sigh. I hate school stress.

J was looking at the Singapore math sample pages (4a to 5b) this afternoon and said she would like me to get these books for her. They aren't expensive so if she wants them, fine. She asked me how a match works and I (feeling oh so intelligent) talked about friction and how it creates sparks and about kinetic energy and how it's like the electric shock you get when you touch W after going down the plastic slide at the park. She looked at me funny and said, "no Mom, that's a static shock". Shit.

I've decided to walk up to W's school at dismissal since I am now having a terrible time finding a parking spot up there. I just hope the weather stays nice for a while. His teacher was very impressed today at his use of the word "actually". I almost told her that he's been using that word correctly since he was 2, but I just nodded and smiled. He started talking about the tide pool book again and told me all he remembered about them. Very cool. I think he is definitely more into non-fiction books rather than fiction, since he brought home another one todya. We hit the playground and the bodega and picked up K.

At dance today, I was so impressed at the ease at which these kids learned a very difficult tap routine. I was lost after the first few steps, lol. J is right in the front again. This is always an excellent sign. She will probably be starting practice for her solo soon. I'm waiting for her instructor, P, to call me with the starting date. This Saturday she is one of 4 kids in her group performing at a Hurricane Katrina benefit in New Jersey. They revamped last year's jazz number and turned it into a "quad" instead of the usual 8 kids. We're all gonna go. It should be fun.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Today we relaxed and cleaned. I did a load of dishes and 2 loads of laundry. I also put away 3 loads from the other day. J and W played a lot on the computer together and K worked on a career report for school. She had a lot of interest in becoming a marine biologist (since she was 7) but that waned over the past couple of years. After the ocean room in the museum yesterday, it seems to be back in full-force. LOL. She got to remember all the things she loved about it.

J had dance this afternoon - it's "Technique" for the whole company. They worked on barrel turns, front leaps, side leaps, and spins. These all have French names, but I can't remember a single one (and I wouldn't spell them right if I did remember, LOL). I brought W with me and K stayed home (B's aunt was downstairs again). She's asserting her independence and as long as I feel the situation is safe, it's ok. She still calls me while I'm out because she gets a bit nervous and lonely. I'm glad she can still find comfort in my voice. She's still so little in my eyes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

At around noon we drove into Manhattan instead of taking the subway. It only took 10 minutes, but attempting to find a parking spot near the Museum of Natural History was a joke. I ended up in a lot 2 blocks away which ended up costing me $27. The subway would have been $12 round-trip. Then we ate at an outdoor diner/cafe place. It was great food and I was pleased to see they would accomodate me for my diet. We got in the museum around 1:30ish. It was wonderful as usual. My favorite spot is the 4th floor turret where you can just sit and look at a fabulous view of Central Park and the buildings behind it out of gigantic windows. The kids fave today was the Ocean rooms. W and I just read a book together on tide pools and he loved pointing out all the things he recognized from the book. We ended the trip at the gift shop where everyone got something. The ride home was nice. We drove past Columbus Circle (where my mom works), saw all the hansom cabs with decorated horses, the Plaza Hotel (of Eloise fame and I had my senior prom there!) which looks like it's still being renovated, and over the Queensboro (59th Street) Bridge.

At home, W got changed for hip-hop class. The girls stayed home so it was just W and me today. B's aunt was downstairs and B was coming home in 15 minutes so I wasn't worried. W did well at the class but got tired again half way through. My fault. I should have saved the museum for tomorrow. I always forget just how much walking there is through a museum. I think I'll practice the dance steps with him this week so he'll be all ready for the next class. I should show them to J and let her work with him. He would probably prefer that anyway. Tomorrow I want to wake up and do my AM Flylady Routine. Even when the apartment is a mess, doing the routine makes all the difference in the world.

Monday, October 03, 2005

J had a playdate with her friend G. I sat and talked with T, her mom, for a while before I had to pick up W and K. I love talking with her. She is more of a classical homeschooler and I enjoy listening to how she does things. Her kids are smart, polite, and just wonderful. J had a lot of fun with G and I'm hoping they can get together more often than once every few weeks.

All the kids had Musical Theater today. I'm not so sure W is that into it, and he had to be reminded to stop running around and kickboxing with the other boy when they were supposed to be characters from Cats. LOL! He followed most of the class, but he gets antsy after a while. The teachers shouldn't say a word - it was they who begged him to try the class last week. I forewarned them that he probably wouldn't listen very much. They didn't care. So now they can just deal. (heh heh heh).

B had band rehearsal tonight so the kids and I went to Blockbuster and rented The Ring 2 and White Noise. K loves scary flicks and so do I. J and W fell asleep early so K and I were watching and then she fell asleep half-way through the Ring. Great. So I watched the rest of it by myself - with no one to hide under the covers with at the scary parts. It stunk anyway. I'm hoping the other movie is better. We'll watch that one tomorrow night.

K and W are off from school the next 2 days for the Jewish holiday. I'm figuring out a good place to take them. I was thinking Manhattan, Central Park, Natural History museum, American Girl Store. Maybe we'll meet B by his work and all go home together. Sounds like a plan to me!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The kids slept pretty late this morning - J was the lastest waker at 10am. I'm glad she was well-rested because it was going to be a big day - the 3 intense dance workshops, auditions, and then the party.

I scrambled around in the morning trying to find all black clothes for J to wear. She had the pants, but the top was a black leotard with pink rhinestones on it. No good, have to leave early now to go to the store to find something else (always last minute). So I tried the discount kids clothing store by me, which I LOVE, and there in the front was a rack of dance clothes - with a black bodysuit in J's size! I swear I have never seen this rack before. I got 2 bodysuits, a pair of dance pants, 2 pairs of socks (with a pink "J" on the side), and a shirt for K - all for $20.

We got to the studio at 1:15pm. The kids had a stretch class before the workshops began. They covered the viewing window, too. I tried to sneak peeks through a door curtain, lol. The first workshop was Tap with the National Director of "Dancer's Inc.". The second workshop was advanced jazz with this guy Steve (who's with Dance Rave) and the third was an intense choreography workshop with Michelle - also from Dancers Inc. (Dancer's Inc and Dance Rave run competitions and conventions all over the country). The workshops were over by 5pm. Then more loud music was put on and the kids had 10 seconds to show everybody what they got. They were all wearing a number and when it was called they ran out to the middle of the room and freestyle danced - showcasing all their moves. I had gone home but came back at this time to help set up for the party that evening. I heard everyone in the dance room applauding and screaming cheers for their teammates - and I wanted to watch soooo badly. But it was an audition and these are always kept very hush-hush. The whole dance company is down to 19 kids. I saw at least 5 or 6 new faces who are trying out for it - 2 for J's group(9-10y/o), 2 for the older group (12-13 y/o) and 1 or 2 in the oldest group (16-20). We'll hear all the results next week, I hope.

They were all done before 6 and soon more people started filtering in for the party. K was with the older team all night. They are all around the same age and are all girly-girls who love talking about what they're wearing, which boy is cute, and how does my hair look this way. They danced together, took tons of pictures of themselves, and were just being wonderful silly pre-teen girls. J was wired after dancing for almost 4 hours straight and every time I checked on her, she was still dancing! Well, so were most of the kids. I would love to have half the energy these kids have. She ran around with the kids, played games, and made up dance routines with S. We stayed til after 11pm. I had a great time chatting and laughing with all the moms and dads.

I was outside with the studio owner talking about the day and she just came out and said that she thinks homeschooling has been the best thing for J - "she is calmer and way more focused than she was last year". WOW! That felt so good to hear. It's amazing how that kind of acknowledgement can be so encouraging and empowering. This was a fantastic day.