Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It was such a warm day today that we got to go to the playground again after we picked W up from school. He played with Daniella the whole time and for a change they got along really great. J played with her sister Sarah. At home, we got ready for W's hip-hop class. He looks so forward to this every week. And today the teacher came out and said he was reeeeeally paying attention and doing well. Of course that jinxed it and I caught W fooling around soon afterward, LOL. But the class is late and he gets tired and antsy 15 minutes before the class ends.

I did no cleaning today and the apartment is a wreck. B came home and made soup out of whatever he could find, since tomorrow is payday and we're almost out of food today. He found a can of lentil soup, some spaghetti noodles, some wilted spinach, a can of beans, and a bit of frozen chicken stock. I brought home a $1 loaf of Italian bread and we had a nice dinner. B is very adept at what he refers to as "doing a Ready-Set-Cook", after that old Food Channel game show. He wasn't thrilled about the place being so messy, though. I promise I'll get back into my routines tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2005

W had school early today to watch an acting troupe perform "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" (well, most of it). He loved it and thankfully it got him in the mood for Musical Theater class tonight. Then he decided he wasn't going anymore. Then he decided he definitely will go every week. Sigh. The only reason he is hesitant is that there are no other boys in the class. Otherwise he really would want to be there. We werwe expecting the piano lady to be there so they could do some singing today, but she wasn't. We were the first ones there and W sang for the teacher anyway, LOL. During the class, Miss Q spoke about the upcoming singing class and asked J to sing acapella to "show them what to expect". Without missing a beat, she belted out "Born to Entertain" for everyone (shy kid, huh?). Then the other kids stayed afterwards to watch J perform her solo. I hope there is no resentment from the other kids and parents. My 3 kids are so obviously favored in that class (since bonding in Florida at Nationals) that it's almost unnerving (Almost, but I can't help be proud of their confidence - and they are humble with no pretention which makes me even prouder).

B had band rehearsal tonight. They have a gig in Tribeca in a few weeks. Maybe I'll get to that one. I need a regular babysitter. Hmmm. I have no family nearby (MIL doesn't count) and I don't trust non-relatives with my kids. So, I'll have to wait for the dance fund-raiser in February and then we can all see the band. Most of them have been together more than 15 years and they do pretty well for just a 'hobby' band. They've been on the radio several times, won a few contests, made a professional CD, and perform all over Manhattan. He says he'll be singing well into his old age. LOL.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I can't believe it's Sunday already. The long holiday weekend is over. Yesterday was spent at home relaxing and cleaning. I noticed that the Legos were being played with, many pictures were being drawn, W spent an hour doing pages in a K-1 workbook, and the girls worked out of puzzle books before bed (K had a word-find and J had a vocabulary based book with all different puzzles in it). I made eggnog from our old family recipe and actually relaxed about there being raw eggs in it. The kids were asleep by 9:30 and I was out by 11.

Today, J has solo dance practice at 2 and we're all going to the movies to see Harry Potter 4 right afterward. I think I'll attempt to take the Christmas picture tonight so I can get them made into cards tomorrow. I usually take about 25 different shots and hate every one. Forget about trying to pick one out. This time should be better now that the kids are older. I wish I wasn't so cheap or I'd have them done professionally.

I mailed out the first Quarterly Report about a week ago. I wonder if they'll send me a response. Usually I get a checklist with the sent stuff marked off. But there has been a time where I got no acknowledgement at all and after a few months, I called and they had never even checked what I sent. I do think that my district isn't really concerned about the homeschoolers. They require paperwork because the state demands it, but it's never looked at or checked over. Well, all I can do is take care of my end of the rules. Everything I send is saved in a binder and in my hard drive so whatever they "lose" I can send again. Next one is due in January.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Parade & Ice Skating

Thanksgiving was pretty cool. We went to watch the parade from a nice restaurant in Columbus Circle. We had our own little section with couches and a table. They had a beautiful buffet for all the guests and we ate so much. There were eggs, croissants, bagels, fruit, muffins, cookies, coffee, tea, and a bar to buy mimosas and other drinks. There's nothing like watching the parade in style! I was so excited about all the balloons and floats and after about 30 minutes, it seemed like just B and I were watching! LOL! All the kids got a goodie bag as we came in (coloring books, markers, a paddle ball, stickers) and stayed by the couches eating and playing with their stuff. K loved the camera we got her for her birthday and I borrowed it to take pics of the parade:

Inside the Time Warner Building
A Great View
Scooby Dooby Doo
J's Watching Big Bird Go By

Dinner at Mom's was good. It was nice to eat with all the family. After dinner we all played "Texas Hold 'Em" which is a kind of poker game. We ended up sleeping over and early this afternoon, we took the kids ice-skating. W gets tired of it after about 15 minutes, and B got a crick in his back after holding W up a few times around, lol. So, they just hung out together eating fries and watching the girls and their cousins skate.
We got home around 4 and B met a couple of old friends for some Indian food in Jackson Heights (the "Little India" of Queens). They used to eat there pretty often about 20 years ago. People from all over the city go to Jackson Heights for the Indian food. I hope he brings some home!
I think I'm going to try and talk the kids into watching Scrooge. It's the 1970 musical version with Albert Finney. It's one of my favorites. It makes me all Christmassy. LOL!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

J worked in her Bridge workbook today. She did exercises on present and past tense verbs, helping verbs, lines of longitude and latitude, world hemispheres, some multiplication and 5-digit addition and subtraction, a word-find on Alaska terms, and a math problem involving map coordinates, highways, and cities of Arizona. She seems to be enjoying following the schedule. She likes to have me next to her while she does work. I guess she still likes me to tell her how well she did. Maybe it gives the work more meaning that way. I would like to see her engage in this kind of learning for herself more, not just to feel she's crossing something off a list.

K is very excited about her birthday being in 2 days. Tomorrow at school, about 10 of her friends will be surprising her with gifts. They have been hinting about it all week. I know she has lots of friends there and I know she loves everything about school, but I still feel she'll be better off at home. If she stays in school, she will most likely lose touch with all of them when they all go to different high schools, anyway. There are dozens of high schools to choose from around here. I asked her if she'd like to take a day off here and there to go on outings with J, W, and me. She was all for that. I plan on doing lots of fun things over the Christmas vacation. I really want to expose her to other homeschoolers her age from our h/s group. I need her to come to me with the decision to homeschool. The more I mention it or allude towards it, the more she hates the idea. We'll see what happens by January.

Monday, November 21, 2005

J worked on "Fourth Grade in Review" today, unscrambling state names and practicing multiplication problems. When it was time for silent reading she chose the Colonial Times book again. She was horrified to read how humiliating school could be back then, with dunce caps, whispering sticks, and signs you had to wear. We went to the playground after picking up W and she bought 3 churros from the churro-cart-lady (with her own dollar). It is getting way to cold for the playground. W has Picture Day tomorrow (actually it was today but I forgot his envelope). The teacher promised me she'd take him before he eats lunch so his shirt isn't splotched with tomato sauce and chocolate milk in the picture. LOL. In the evening all 3 kids went to Musical Theater class. W is still reluctant to participate with no other boys in the class. He does end up joining them 20 minutes before class ends, though. I guess it's too much to just sit back and watch from the side.

I have been giving more thought to homeschooling K. I spoke with B and my mom and after 30 minutes of talking, THEY ACTUALLY AGREE WITH ME! K has been nothing but a ball of stress this year and she is pulling away from her family. When she gets home from school, she unloads all her angst and anger onto us. She has gone from being a polite, caring, perfect child, to a nasty, sneaky, lying, disrespectful kid who only cares about clothes, friends, and boys.

I want my daughter back. K is adamant about being in school, though. I need her to realize there is so much MORE out there for her. She has a wonderful sense of self-motivation and taught (unschooled) herself so many things - how to knit, how to do HTML and make great websites, how to play guitar, how to cook, etc. She has the desire to learn and took the steps to find things out. I am seeing that slowly disappearing. As soon as I receive The Teenage Liberation Handbook in the mail I'm giving it to her to read. Now that I have family support, I feel I can put more effort into convincing K that this is the right thing to do. But how can I do that? She lives in a school clique fantasy world that has this vice-grip on her. I have to go about this very slowly and carefully - I feel like one wrong move will ruin everything. I'm going to start with taking her out of school for outings every few weeks. I am starting up read-alouds with her again. I forgot how much she loves that. Tonight we started Little Women and she listened so intently and when she was about to fall asleep she puckered up her lips to kiss me goodnight. I don't remember the last time she offered me a goodnight kiss. All it takes is a little sign like that to let me know I'm on the right path.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My mind has been racing with homeschooling thoughts again. In reading Guerilla Learning I am relaxing a bit more about K's middle school life and planning awesome outings for us all. We watched a show lastnight on a NYC PBS station called "$9.99". It's a regular series about doing stuff all day in NYC for less than $10. This particular episode was devoted to kids and I got so inspired by it. I never knew there was so many free and inexpensive things to do here. I found out that the Queens County Farm (10 min. from me) is the largest and oldest working farm in the city (47 acres). Belvedere Castle in Central Park has a whole nature adventure pack for kids that is free. Brooklyn has the Kensington Stables which dates back to the 19th century. And they happened to mention that NYC is one of the most kid-friendly cities in the country. But I knew that already.

We're going to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday morning. Mom hooked us up with a spot in a Columbus Circle restaurant with a huge 4th floor window we can watch out of. I haven't been to the parade since I was a kid. My uncle would always take us and we'd go down the night before, too, to watch the balloons being filled. We're spending Thanksgiving Day at my mom's house. It's K's birthday that day, too, so it's going to be extra special.

I decided to start venturing out on the weekends. I have been a staunch weekend-activity-avoider because I hate crowds and weekends are full of crowds everywhere. But several people told me that it's not bad at all and usually all the fun stuff happens on the weekend. So, I caved in. And besides, this way the whole family can go places together. I'd like to start next weekend by visiting the Sony Wonder Technology Lab. I saw it on the show lastnight and it looks fantastic.

So, basically, our homeschooling adventure is going to include lots more outings. And as soon as I get my digital camera fixed I'll be posting pictures again. I'm really feeling organized and together lately. J is feeling good with her schedule and we are making a better effort to immerse ourselves into NYC's arts, culture, and fun. This is the kind of education I would have loved to have as a child. I'm glad I get to experience it all now with my kids.

Friday, November 18, 2005

J had "history" on the schedule for yesterday, so she decided to read If You Lived in Colonial Times (McGovern). She read to herself and out loud and we discussed each short chapter. She really liked learning about this time period - the states involved, the timeline, the clothes, the food, the schools, etc. She asked me a lot of questions and learned about spinning wheels, looms, powdered wigs, plant dyes, hornbooks, and so many other cool things. When she tired of that, she asked to make dinner (tater-tot casserole). She made it last time and it came out great.

At the playground we saw the summer icee-cart lady, but this time she was pushing a shopping cart with a huge tray of churros on it. They were 3/$1, and after we each had one, I bought 9 more! Yum! NYC pushcart food is the best!!

W had a school Thanksgiving feast this morning. His class came into the cafeteria in paper pilgrim headwear. Very cute. They sang 2 songs and then it was time to eat. All the parents brought a dish from their country - and in my neighborhodd, there are a lot of countries. So the feast consisted of basmati rice and samosas, arroz con pollo, quesadillas, flan, baked ziti, a strange shrimp soup, and tons of other stuff. Bringing J into a school is awkward sometimes. When we first walked in the security guard (different than usual) told her to get a late pass (ROFL). Then inside the cafeteria, the school social worker asked her where she was supposed to be and I jumped in with "she's homeschooled". I got a cautious, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" (from high-pitched to low pitched with fixed smile) Then she walked away. I have to stop saying we're homeschooling. Nobody gets it. Especially not public school people. I am definitely going to use my famous, "School? Why no. She's in an autodidactic, interest-based program with very flexible hours. It's great". They'll probably say "Wow! Sounds cool!" since they'll just be too confused to form a negative opinion! heh heh heh.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

This morning I woke up to find that I was charged almost $200 in overdraft fees for being a few hours too late with the paycheck covering about 5 or 6 outstanding debits/checks. I called the bank and the woman said she couldn't do anything about it. I was actually crying because I knew that was our food money that went to those charges. So, a few hours later I called again (hoping to speak with someone more sympathetic this time) and let them have a whole big sob story and I got all but one of the charges removed. Yay!!! J and I dropped W off at school, went to another bank to withdraw our savings and put it into the checking account. Then we went food shopping where I spent $100 on a week's worth of groceries. I rock! Our dinners this week include pork chops/stuffing, ravioli/spinach salad, chicken breasts/green beans/Lipton rice mix, and tater-tot-casserole/broccoli. I also got lots of produce, staples, lunches, and breakfasts. I may even start doing my coupons again and go to the double coupon store. I once saved over $118 in double coupons and sales!

With all the running around today, J didn't get to her schedule again. She doesn't mind and knows she's learning so much throughout the day anyway. She was full of questions today, too: What is charity? How do you lose and win money gambling? What is claustrophobia? How did languages start? How do you file taxes? And on and on. I love it.

I'm also loving Guerilla Learning (G. Llewelyn and A. Silver). I'm only on page 20 or so but it's so right on. Here are some quotes from it:

"...homeschooled kids - many of whom did few or no traditional, 'schoollike' activities at home - learned faster, more easily, and with more joy and enthusiasm than most other children. They remembered what they learned. They couldn't wait to learn more".

"For real learning to take place, the information must occur in a world...The relationship of the information to reality - its context - must be apparent. People can be asked to absorb a certain amount of meaningless data in good faith, on the promise that eventually it will be related to a larger world and transformed into information. but most people can't absorb meaningless data on good faith for twelve years."

"...a homeschooled child learns everything in a meaningful context. The context is automatic: It's the child's world."

"In contrast, unfortunately, most schools work on the opposite assumption. They remove information from its context. They present no relationship to the child's world beyond the abstract world of the classroom. Subjects are artificially separated from one another. It's as if schools believe that if you give kids one tree at a time, year after dreary year, the kids will save the trees up and eventually make a forest out of them."

"...test scores and grades don't actually predict anything much. (Can you imagine if kids knew that secret?!) Higher-level skills such as critical thinking are neither taught nor tested in most schools. Artistic ability, mechanical ingenuity, interpersonal strengths, musical talent, and gifts for synthesizing information are disregarded (if not disparaged). People who can quickly memorize meaningless data and deliver it on demand are rewarded, while poor test takers with other strengths are penalized...And the greatest opportunity children have to develop their strengths, cultivate self-discipline, and find their calling - is ignored in favor of the effort to teach what can be measured".

"School can sap kids' interest in learning, confuse them with so many meaningless 'trees' that it takes years for them to recover and begin to see the 'forest' again. School can simply eat up so much of their time that there's none left for real learning, for spontaneous exploration, or for free play, which is the real work of childhood. At worst, school can cause true emotional stress: anxiety, depression, and crippling self-doubt. Instead of discovering their unique gifts, talents, and place in the world, many kids will learn to see themselves as mediocre, as 'disabled', or as losers if they don't keep up with the traditional school system's standards of measurement. Even the 'winners' may one day awaken to wonder why they spent their youths chasing after external approval, meaningless incentives, and other people's purposes - 'gold stars' - to the exclusion of what they loved and cared about".


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Today was pretty crappy. I brought the car in for an oil change and inspection. Thye found a cracked wheel boot, which wasn't covered. I wanted to take it elsewhere, since these people charge fortune for repairs, but they couldn't do the inspection without it. So after waiting there almost 4 hours (with W and J) the shuttle service drove me home. Then I realize my housekeys are in my car - back at the garage. So we just walked W to school with no uniform. Thankfully, he did have his book and little project that we finished together at the mechanic's. K had a half day so we then walked over to get her, then 15 blocks back to the mechanic. I had to wait another 30 minutes or so, and finally they were done and charged me almost $300.

The good news is that I had my book with me to read (Guerilla Learning - Grace LLewelyn) and there was a TV and vending machines for the kids. They were well-behaved and kept themselves busy. We had some Dunkin Donuts and they ripped up the free newspapers to make airplanes, cootie catchers, and hats. When we got home I saw my new computer was delivered! It's an HP with 17" flat screen and 2x as much memory and GZ as my old one. I spent hours transferring files, address books, documents, pictures, and favorites from the old computer. I used a "memory stick" which made things soooo easy. I think we may keep the old computer without internet access. The kids can have it for CD-Rom games and Word Processing.

W had hip-hop class this evening. He did a LOT less fooling around today and I can see he is starting to take it seriously now. There's a kid named "Jeremy" in that class and W swears it's "Germy". I guess that's what he hears. ROFL! K stayed home 45 minutes by herself until B got home. She wants to be so independent, but ended up calling B 3 times (telling him to hurry) because something spooked her. J came with me. She spent the hour drawing, mostly. She'll draw anything. My favorite picture was a very detailed likeness of our entertainment center. LOL.

We haven't gotten to J's schedule yet this week. She just hasn't had the time to herself. I'm sure we'll get to it tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I went to W's parent-teacher conference today. They told me that he's very smart and is always the first to raise his hand to give an answer. He is very active so they give him jobs to do, like tie his classmates' shoes and help them with their coats. He sometimes gets aggressive (pushy-shovy-hitting) and that he goes into the "thinking chair" sometimes. He has a great appetite and always eats all his lunch (no shock there). They showed me his folder full of drawings and paintings. And told me how absolutely adorable and handsome he is (and that he looks like me, LOL). They don't push writing at this level "because by the time they're in third grade they get bored with writing". No kidding. There are many trips scheduled starting in January and they're having a big Thanksgiving feast this Friday. All in all it was a good meeting. There are no concerns or problems and they knew so much about what he can do and how he is socially. I've never seen teachers like this whom I really like and feel this comfortable with. I can see why W likes school so much.

K got her report card today. It wasn't great (as I knew) and we had a talk about improving her grades. She now has limited time on the phone and computer (30 minutes each per day) until the next report card (January) - where I expect to see major improvement. She acting pretty indifferent to it all and I'm getting a bit concerned. I have been wondering if she feels overshadowed by J. Not just with the homeschooling, but with all the dance attention she gets. I do my best to include K in everything and make sure she gets lots of special things, too, and I try and spend extra time with her. I feel I should do more, though.

I wrote a thank-you email to the convention director expressing much appreciation, raving about the teachers, and and telling how J thoroughly enjoyed herself yesterday. He wrote back (names are edited for privacy):

"I LOVE J.......




He did take a liking to J yesterday. He told me that she has something so special and her energy and enthusiasm is so strong - she should never lose that.

The kids had Musical Theater class this afternoon. W refused to go in because there are no other boys in the class, but after 20 minutes he relented. He did really well and the teacher came over to me to say how proud she is of him. She can't believe how good he did today with him being so young and all. He is looking forward to next week! K loves it, too. She seemed to stop feeling so self-conscious today. But it must be hard to keep hearing the teachers and the studio owner (who came in to observe) constantly tell J she's doing a great job. I do feel weird about it. I think K and I need some more alone time. Maybe we'll go to the mall together this weekend.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

So, except for a couple of wrong turns we made it to the workshop in 1 1/2 hours. We were the first ones there from our studio. They separated the kids into juniors and seniors. J and the only other kid from her team (a very talented, sweet boy named E) and all the older girls were in seniors. It was a blast! Lyrical and Line were taught by a former Rockette. Broadway Jazz was taught by a guy who did 3 B'way shows and several National Tours. And the director/owner of the whole competition/convention company taught them tap. J's favorites were tap and hip-hop. She thought Line/Precision (kickline) was fun, but weird and isn't too fond of Modern. Our studio was invited (as guests of the director) so none of the dancers had to pay, but I found out the other students were charged $100 each to take this workshop. Is that awesome? We were finished there about 4pm and it took us 4 hours to get home. Lincoln Tunnel and Manhattan traffic were so bad that I am once again vowing to never take my car into the city for as long as I live.

B took W to the park all day. K was home when we got there and showed me all her great new stuff. She went out for breakfast this morning and then they went to visit Gram and Papa (almost 84 and 91) at the nursing home this afternoon. One has dementia and the other has Alzheimers, but they're still happy together. They love seeing my kids (even if they don't remember who we are). K enjoys seeing them. Mom dropped K off at home around 5 and happened to see the many piles of clothes everywhere. I get so embarrassed when it looks cluttery in here. Tomorrow I am starting the reorganizing. I have some great ideas. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

K is still out at Mom's. They went to the mall today and Mom spent a fortune on her. Her excuse is that "K has to look good for school, and besides, it's for her birthday". Ok. So she bought her UGG boots ($120), tons of clothes, and a jacket ($125). She's out of her mind.

J had dance this afternoon. Extra rehearsals are scheduled on the weekends now. They did their group routines and ran all the solos twice. I spoke to P about how J gets distracted with everyone watching while she's learning and she was appreciative at my mentioning it. I mean, we're paying her for the lessons, so I shouldn't feel weird coming to her with any concerns, right? She spent the rest of the afternoon at S's house (also on the dance team). They drove her home at around 6:30. She has to go to bed early because we have to get up at 6 to go to an all-day dance workshop/convention. They will be there from 9 to 4, doing all kinds of dance: Broadway jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, lyrical, and precision/line. I have all the clothes laid out, lunches/snacks/drinks packed, and driving directions in my bag. I think we're set. At right is a pic of J at Nationals.

Friday, November 11, 2005

J had solo practice this morning at 9:30. A lot of kids were there and I think J got a bit flustered and uncomfortable with everyone watching her learn her routine. P's dd does the dance with J, and that really distracts J, so I have to talk to P about that. I drove the girls into Manhattan afterward so they could spend the day with their grandmother at work. Traffic was horrendous and I don't plan on driving in there again anytime soon. Mom works in Columbus Circle and they are just starting to put Christmas wreaths all over the buildings now. They look so pretty. This is where she works:

We drove along 57th street which was a dream for K. She couldn't believe all her favorite stores were right there: Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Prada, Coach, Berberry, etc. She definitely knows what she likes!

There was another girl, 11, at Mom's work to hang with. They played Monopoly and read magazines together. Then they all went for lunch at a small Asian place in the area (the small hole-in-the-wall places are always the best in NYC!) and took the subway back to Queens at around 7 to meet me. Mom and K went back to Long Island, while J came home with me and W. J has dance all weekend so she'll be busy.

I am helping J come up with a weekly schedule. I made a list of all the books and workbooks we have and she's deciding what will be done on what day. She's excited about it and I'll admit, it makes things easy for me to have a schedule to follow. It's pretty much going to look like this:

Monday: 1. Arts & Crafts 2. Math Website or Workbook 3. Silent reading
Tuesday: 1. Bridge Workbook (all subjects), 2. Geography Website, Workbook or Reading book 3. Read-aloud
Wednesday: 1. Library 2. Test-Prep Workbook (has math, reading, language arts) 3. Silent Reading, Read-aloud
Thursday: 1. History Website, Workbook, or Reading book (Biography, Life in Colonial or Civil War times) 2. Reading, Spelling, or Language Arts workbook 3. Silent Reading
Friday: 1. Science Experiment 2. Bridge Workbook 3. Journal Writing

It's still a work in progress. I doubt she'll follow the list 100%, but she's comfortable at least having some sort of goal for her day. She already does all of this anyway, and having a written plan keeps her from feeling aimless. And there is also so much more learning going on throughout the day. I'm very proud of her for realizing what her needs are and doing something about it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

J went to The Museum of the Moving Image today with our homeschool group. I had to drop her off with T (whose dd, G, is J's best friend) since I had to bring W to school. She had a great time. They went on a tour of the museum where there made a craft (pictures drawn on both sides of a piece paper and when you twirl it around it looks like all the images are together), saw actual movie props, learned how sound effects are created, put their own voices into movie characters (like Babe, the pig), and made a short film of themselves being silly. There were about 10 kids altogether (5 families) and they ranged in age from about 6 to 12. I'm so glad J got to go to something with the h/s group finally!

When I dropped off W at school, the aide came to me and told me that W is "really, really smart". Then she told me some things he did, like ask great questions to the policeman on Career Day last week (and that the policeman commented about it to her), how he is reading well, and that he's "such a sweetheart". Is this the same kid from last night? LOL! It makes me a bit nervous, though, because J was really, really smart, too, and she had nothing but problems. I do see a difference in them, in that J needed lots of attention, was disruptive, and in "time-out" several times a day in Pre-K. He has been fantastic so far - coming out with "terrific" stickers every day. I know I shouldn't compare the kids, but at least this time around I'll be able to foresee any likely problems since I already went through them.

J and W made some tempera paint creations and J had dance this afternoon. Later on we picked up some Chinese take-out for dinner. It's that time of year when B works late every night, but he was home in time to watch "LOST" with all of us. Tomorrow I'll be moving furniture and reorganizing. I hope I get it all done!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

For 5 hours today there were 2 guys in my apartment capping and calking my windows. I only expected one leaking window to be fixed but 15 minutes before the guys got here, dh's aunt said they'll be doing ALL 10 windows. All of a sudden one room turned into 6 and I ran around decluttering (and almost crying) til he got there. It wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't still have the remains of 7 hefty-leaf bags of clothes for the girls taking up every clear space. I'm still looking for more closet space. I plan on rearranging the living room furniture again, using one coat closet for my clothes and one for J's clothes. Then W can have J's smaller closet. W and I currently do not have a closet. It'll work out. I just have to get creative.

With all 3 kids home for Elections Day today, I didn't get much done. I wouldn't leave them up here with the workers while I went down to do laundry. Nor could I cook anything since the men were in and out of the kitchen. So I basically sat around for most of the morning. K was on the computer, updating her website, adding pictures, and IM'ing friends. J and W played "movies" where W was the ticket-taker. He sat on the bottom step of a stepstool with the top step as his "desk" telling everyone that Fat Albert would be starting soon and hurry for a ticket. J made all the tickets and started the movie. Both of them also watched the workers and asked them lots of questions. Thankfully they were patient guys and answered them the best they could - with only the occasional request to get out of the way, lol.

W had hip-hop class at 6:30 and of course, fell alseep at 5:45. I got him up anyway because he really wanted to go tonight. He got up fine, but I worried that it might affect his class - and I was right. He did very well in the class and was only silly and noncompliant a few times. When they all came over to us for water, my friend's son said W put his hands on his neck. I talked to W about keeping his hands to himself and the other boy's mom told her ds to stop snitching, LOL. At the end of the class, though, the dance teacher, V, came to me to tell me that W choked this kid, who turned red and started coughing, and W was made to sit out for a while as punishment. OMG! I had no idea he did THAT. I gave him a very strong lecture on the car ride home. He said he understood and won't put his hands on anyone again. Now, I know W is an aggressive kid. He plays very rough. It's never in anger, though - usually it's his way of connecting with his own gender. It comes out more, too, when he's tired or bored. He never acts rough with girls. With them it's the opposite - he is protective and gentle. I tell B about these things and after initial shock, he kinda laughs and seems proud of W's aggressiveness. I told my mom, too, and she chuckled and said, "well, he's a boy and that's what they do". WHAT? See what I have to deal with?

Monday, November 07, 2005

I have not been sleeping well at night. I go to bed way too late and then for some reason I wake up around 3am and don't get back to sleep for an hour or more. It sucks because then I'm a mess all day. I don't feel like moving at all. And when I do have to move, I'm slow, then late, then grouchy. So I plan on changing things this week.

Today was one of those slow, grouchy days. J and I walked W to school (J roller skated) and at home she read and spent 30 minutes on a geography website (US states). Then she made herself soup and a sandwich and perused a toy catalog. She made her Christmas list the other day on MS Word and it's 3 pages long, LOL. She also emailed it to my mom.

The kids had Musical Theater class this afternoon. K is feeling self-conscious again and didn't want to go. At first she said it was because she had a headache, but after awhile she admitted she felt fat and inferior in the class. K is not fat at all but she compares herself to the few ultra-skinny dancers in the class - J being one of them. We had a long talk about image and how no one is looking at her and how she has to really get over herself and she finally agreed to go. I feel she made a committment to the class and her not being there puts a wrench into their rehearsals. I let her stay home last time - believing the headache line. She did have fun and hopefully she feels better about everything.

W, on the other hand, wasn't too thrilled with the class today. None of the boys showed up and he felt awkward. He came out and said he didn't want to go back in there. He said it was too "girly" in there and it's not his kind of dancing. When there are other boys in the class he feels better and really enjoys himself. At the end of the class, Ms. Y promised him there would be boys in the class next time and she was going to make an effort to recruit more from tomorrow's hip-hop class. She also told me he is doing so well and he learns so quickly. That did make W feel better and he said he'd go back next week. (And I told him if he stays the whole time next week I'd buy him a pack of gum. Bribery isn't so bad, is it?).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The weekend went by so quickly! We went out to my mom's yesterday to celebrate B's and my sister's birthday. Mom got a new computer and I liked it so much I bought one, too! It's an HP and so much better than the Gateway I have now. Mine is 3 1/2 years old and on its last legs. With 5 people using it all the time, I don't know how it even lasted this long. The kids aren't exactly gentle with it.

P gave J and K SEVEN huge Hefty bags of clothes from her 2 girls. I cannot tell you how pristine everything is. It's like Christmas here today! J had dance this morning while K and W had Sunday School. (K was not happy about having to go). They are revamping a little number from last year into one fit for competitions.

Mom's friend's dd ran in the NYC Marathon today, so she picked up K to take her into Manhattan to watch. They mainly stayed around/in Central Park. Of course then Mom brought her home right as my apartment looked as if it exploded with clothes. LOL. Now I have to find a place to put them all.

Friday, November 04, 2005

W is reading so well now. He brings home a different book from school every day. Yesterday's was "Who Can?" and he read me the whole thing. The story is like this, "My cat can run fast. I can, too!". He was so durn proud of himself! Other things he did at home today was draw me with a mad face, very detailed turtles, and make a perfect fan out of construction paper. At school, it was Career Day and when J and I picked him up his class was outside talking to policemen (which scared me half to death). But I saw it was a Bomb Squad officer who was showing the kids his bomb-sniffing dog and taking questions. Very cool.

J did more workbook today. She uses the same one every time (the 4th-5th grade summer bridge workbook by Rainbow Press). Today's pages included time zones, multiplication, 5-digit subtraction, helping verbs, and singular and plural possessive nouns. She likes it because it doesn't inundate you with tons of the same stuff - so it's not tedious and boring. It's bright and colorful and fun. Also, each activity can be a launching pad for further research and more indepth activities.

J brought G to dance today and it looked like she really enjoyed it! It was a tech day, so it was easy for her to participate - lots of jump and turn practice. J will see her again on Wednesday for a cool museum field trip. She finally gets to go to a homeschool activity! Today there was a bunch of things we missed, like dissecting owl pellets and ice skating. Well, no matter what, next year we'll be available for everything!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Same old thing today. I cleaned in the morning, brought W to school, J roller-bladed home, did a few workbook pages, went on a few websites, and then we picked W up. We went to the playground, picked up K, and went to dance class. Boring.

At the playground, W played with an adorable 2-year-old nicknamed Cha-Cha (lol). He acted like the big protector and helped her onto the swing and down the slide. It was just so cute.

K is still doing ok at school. She got 100 on a math test, but a 36 on a language arts test. I think the LA teacher is asking too much - having the kids write long word-for-word definintions. What's the point of that?! K knows very well what these words mean. I'm not upset with K. I just explained to her that although the teacher is being unfair, you have to play the game the way she wants. If the assignment is to memorize definitions, then that's what you gotta do. I brought up homeschooling again with her yesterday (mentioning that she's not going to get into the good high schools with those grades) and she started crying and saying how she'll do badly on purpose if she's homeschooled. If I had known about homeschooling 8 years ago, we wouldn't even have been having this conversation. All the kids would have been homeschooled from the getgo.

J's dance class was great. They're working on their new tap and jazz routines. W fell asleep on the way so he slept in the car while I read. He woke up after an hour and we went down to watch. He was very grouchy and had a pretty nice tantrum because I didn't have any money to buy him chips. I had to remove him from the area and we sat in the car again until class was over. I have no patience for these tantrums. I told him he is almost 5 years old and should not be acting like he's 2.

At home, J helped B make dinner (she has the cooking bug now! LOL) and phoned her h/s'd friend G to ask if she could come to dance tomorrow for "bring a friend day". That should be fun.
J and I went food shopping this afternoon. I am trying to keep to a budget and only bought dire essentials and cheapo dinner stuff. At around 1pm, J made dinner. It was "tater-tot casserole" from the Duggar website (the family with 16 kids). She browned the meat and added all the ingredients. It was done in an hour and I put it into the fridge to be reheated later on. She was really proud of herself for making dinner. I gotta hand it to her, she did a great job (and was so enthusiastic about it!). This might become a new thing with us.

J had company technique class later on and at the end, she asked to perform her solo in front of everybody. The CD skipped and she started to get nervous, but kept going and got through it all. W found the CD earlier today and got his sticky fingers all over it. I have to hide it from now on. Something always seems to go wrong when she performs in front of others. I wonder if that's a bad sign. 8^o

After dinner (we had a big spinach/cucmber salad with the casserole) MIL and dh's aunt came over to help us celebrate B's birthday. I found a sugar-free cheesecake in a bakery by the dance studio that was actually pretty good. B liked the exercise equipment we got him, but I think he thinks that we're trying to tell him something, LOL. I just want hium to be healthy. He has type-2 diabetes and I worry that he's not active enough. We got him a small stepper thingy with elastic arm bands attached and a stomach cruncher thing. Nice and small and he can use them while watching the Jets/Knicks games. And I can use them too!! heehee

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It's B's 40th birthday tomorrow! After dropping off W at school, J and I went and got him some exercise equipment and slippers, cards and paper, and wrapped up his gifts at home. J went on some educational websites for about 30 minutes, practiced her solo a couple of times, and we picked up W and went to the playground. It was such a beautiful day out. Then we picked up K and went home. I made dinner and when B got home, he took W to his hip-hop class. W loves the class but they have it at 6:30 and he's just so tired then. Today he asked for a break and sat off to the side. He fell asleep so early tonight, too. Turning the clocks back has some effect!

After dinner I cleaned for about an hour (dishes, wiping up, sweeping, swiffering, putting away the rest of the laundry) - BIG improvement for me. I felt so calm all day with everything clean. I have to keep this up.