Wednesday, August 30, 2006

We just got back from a trip to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Camel Beach was definitely rained out (never saw so much rain!), but we had a good time anyway. We met up with one of B's sales reps and he took us on a tour of his TV station. We got to see the control room and meet the owner and president of the station.

We checked into our hotel and the kids spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool. It was really beautiful. Then D, the sales rep took us all out for dinner. The kids went in the pool again afterward. Our hotel room had a sliding door that led out into a gorgeous wooded area and after the kids were dried off and dressed for bed I sat outside reading. It was so relaxing.

In the morning we went to the hotel restaurant for our free buffet breakfast. Gotta love free. And of course the kids went in the pool again after that. The drive home was quick (2 hours) and now we're all tired, lol. I'm trying to rest until I go to work later. W has a private dance lesson later on, too.

Speaking of W, this was so cool. Out of the blue, in the car, he said "HEY! I know what 2+2 is! Look! (he held up 4 fingers and separated them in half) And I know that 4+4 is 8. LOOK! LOOK! See?? 4 and 4! Wow!". He spend the next 10 minutes studying his fingers and coming up with other sums and feeling so good that he was figuring something out on his own. It was like something just clicked for him and he was starting to understand how addition works and what it means. I love that B was there to see that. He looked over at me in amazement. I just nodded and smiled.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I finally sent out W's LOI and J's IHIP. I sent them in the same envelope so I hope the sup't knows to look at both and not just shove them together into J's file. Sigh. You know, it's funny, I have been telling more and more people that we're homeschooling and no one even bats an eye. It's almost as if it's actually NORMAL now, lol. My aunt, who I see very rarely and saw at the reunion last week, was very very supportive and bragged about it to her boyfriend. She is a real free spirit - modeled a lot, is an artist, is moving to St. Martin - and I knew she'd be great about it. The rest of my family is supportive, but seems to be keeping an eye on what we're doing. They don't understand the concept of homeschooling so maybe it's just curiosity. Who knows.

So W has been doing different workbooks with me almost every day. He prefers the 1st grade ones, but will being over a preschool or Kindy one every now and then. His reading ability has pretty much stayed the same for months. I know he likes phonics, so I bought him some word cards to play with. It shows short and long vowels, consonants, and beginning and ending blends. I hate calling them "flashcards" because that brings to mind coercive parents drilling facts into their kid's head. W plays games with them, and treats them like any other game.

J has been writing out the times tables as per her grandmother's request. She feels like she forgot a lot of it so she writes them out in a triangle, then the 2 ways of multiplying and 2 ways of dividing. She got another magazine today and has been reading some of the articles and stories. She still prefers that I read to her rather than actually reading it herself, which is fine, but I do wish she enjoyed reading on her own. Will that ever come back?

I took the girls to the mall today. I got K tons of school clothes. I gave in and got some Abercrombie, Hollister, and American Eagle Outfitters stuff. But, I did draw the line at the $92 Juicy Couture hoody and $138 Coach bag. She's kidding me, right? The rest of her clothes/shoes came from Delia's, Macy's, and Kids Foot Locker. J got a couple of Abercrombie tees, an outfit from The Children's Place, and some shirts from Limited Too. And of course I got W a few shirts, too.

Tomorrow I'm going to get this apartment organized (I say that a lot, huh?), and Tuesday-Wednesday we're headed to the Poconos to Camel Beach water park! It's supposed to be cold and rainy, but we'll make the best of it. K starts school Sept. 5th. I can't believe summer's over already.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yay I can finally post pictures again! I added some to the 3 previous posts.

Today was a great day spent at the NY Hall of Science. We hit every room and almost every exhibit today. And of course my kids' favorite things were anything with mirrors or bubbles. I think I might invest in a monster bubble maker thing for the backyard. We went to the outside playground and they did everything. The favorite there was the spider web and water area. Even K loved it and ran around and climbed and played forgetting that she's usually "too cool" to indulge in such juvenility, lol. The new exhibit there is called "CSI - Crime Scene Insects" and it was awesome! It was a great look into forensic entymology. The kids got a little skeeved out at times, but I think they liked it. The sports area was a hit as usual. The girls were virtually-arm-wrestling kids in other states and we saw a demonstration on center of gravity and another one on lasers. W went up to the demonstrator after it was over and asked so many questions. She let him try out the equipment and everything. J and W made a craft in the Magic Schoolbus center - W made a "magic box" and was so proud of it, he showed it to everyone he saw. I love the workers there. They're so great with the kids. At one point W said, "You know what, Mom? We could come here every day!" I had such a great time with them. I think we spent over 4 hours there today. Here are some pictures!

Monday, August 21, 2006

A big family reunion was held at my mom's this Saturday. When we got there I thought I was going to cry seeing family I haven't seen in years. About 8 or 9 extended family members used to have beach houses (bungalows) in the same community in Long Island and were always together - at the beach all day, having big barbecues, and sitting under the lantern lights having drinks while us kids would play in the dark - catching lightning bugs, hide-and-seek, flashlight tag, etc. My family summered there every year since 1959. Families would "open up" their bungalows in April or early May. They'd go out there every weekend til school was out and then all the moms would be there from June straight through to September. And the dads worked so they came out on the weekends.

Days were spent on the beach, at the natural clay mountain, at the state park, and at the tons of parties always held somewhere. Then one by one in September each family would "close up" for the fall and winter - turning off the water, boarding up the windows, etc. It was always a sad time for me. I never wanted the summers to end. And then over the years as the first generation of our family aged, bungalows were sold, their children moved away, and the best summers in the world now seemed a distant memory.

Seeing so much of my extended family on Saturday was wonderful. We sat and ate and drank and gabbed for hours while the new generation of kids ran around having a great time. It was a fantastic day.

We stayed over and mom, sis, B, and the kids went to the beach all day Sunday. I stayed back, spending more time with my aunt and uncle who flew in from Montana, and another 2nd or 3rd cousin and her husband who came over that day. I was told the tide was low at the beach and they could walk all the way out to a wooden raft that was anchored out a bit. The kids found horseshoe crabs, small pink crabs, mussels, clam shells, and small pretty spiral shells. They swam in the warm water and ate french fries and ice cream from the concession stand. So fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

We just got back from a 2-day trip to Pennsylvania! Tuesday we spent the whole day at Hershey Park. J and W each grew to the next size requirement and got to go on more rides this year. W got to ride the Comet and J got to ride the Great Bear! My kids can't get enough of those aggressive thrill rides. I love them too and I'm so happy to have them to go with me (B hates them).

We met a sales rep of B's who lives in PA and who provided us with the tickets. We met him in 1995 and have met up with him and his family for the past 4 years for 2 days in PA. His kids are 12, 8, and 6 and my kids had a blast with them. We left the park at around 9:30pm and went for dinner at Applebee's together. I finally got to meet his wife and when she asked about school and I mentioned homeschooling, she said she looked into it as well and even knew all about unschooling! It was great talking with her all day.

After dinner we drove to Lancaster and settled into our hotel room. By this time it was almost midnight and everyone was out cold in about 15 minutes. In the morning we went across the street to Dutch Wonderland for a few hours. They went on a few rides and went in the water area for a little while and we left about 12:30 pm. We left early because I had to be at work at 6, W had his first solo lesson with Ms. S (the studio owner), and the town was closing most of Rte 30 (right outside the amusement park) at 3 because Pres. Bush was going to be 2 doors away speaking at some function. So I'm glad we left when we did.

B dropped me off at work and took the kids to W's first solo lesson. Ms. S is starting him out with 20 minutes at a time and going to try to work up to an hour. She told B that W already picked up what she taught him yesterday and is scheduled again for the same time next week. The girls saw some other kids there and they got to hang out together for a while. Regular dance classes will begin in September. We got a big list of all the new rules and prices and it seem as though things have tripled since last year. Sigh. After breaking everything down into categories (tuition, costumes, private lessons, shoes, tights, accessories, extra choreography, Team Rave, hotels, gas, and fundraising) I'm figuring we'll spend about $10K for K, J, and W this season on dance. Thank goodness I'm working now.

Right now J and W are watercolor painting together on the dining room floor and K is cleaning her room and watching the Movie-Trailer-On-Demand Channel. We're heading out to the supermarket today and maybe a shady spot in the park.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Mom took the girls again this weekend. I think she thinks they're bored here or something. They enjoy going there so I don't mind. Mom's throwing a huge family reunion next Saturday and she's starting the cooking this weekend. The girls helped a lot. They swam in the pool, did lots of food shopping, and just bonded with Mom, Dad, and my sister Ampy (when K was 18 mos, this is how she pronounced my sister's name. It kinda stuck, much to sis's dismay, lol). I'll meet them at the train in the morning where Mom will drop them off on her way to work.

B and I took W to the playground today. This one is about 12 blocks from my house and it's hands down my favorite. I used to take the girls there all the time when they were little. They have the best sprinklers and almost all the park benches are in the shade - there are so many trees. There was a farmers market right along the block, too. We just browsed, though. As usual, W asked lots of great questions about the vegetables.

He made some friends and played tag, water guns, fort, running through the spinklers, filling water balloons, etc. He walks up to anyone - boys and girls from 4 to 12 - he doesn't care, as long as it's someone who's willing to play! He is so outgoing and confident. Many of the other kids start out aloof or even mean and won't let him play. But he doesn't lose faith and knows they'll come around - and they usually do.

We stayed for 3 hours and went and had pizza. He's a perfect gentleman at a restaurant now. He even wanted to wear a collared shirt! He ate 2 slices and was exhausted on the ride home. I spent the evening clearing out J and W's room, and B finally put an air conditioner in there. I am doing some organizing every day so come September they will be able to find anything and everything. I worry about W missing school (even though he really wants to homeschool) so I want to make our home as creatively-friendly as I can (does that make sense? LOL!). Tomorrow I'll try to get to all the books and toys. Today was the clutter and the clothes. Next I'll work on the dining room. I want to make that room really inviting as it's the hub of the house.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Man, this summer's going by fast.

K has been doing her TACHS workbook in dribs and drabs. We do the math part together - she says I explain things in a way she understands. The only thing she needs help with in the English part is punctuation and capitalization. Those questions are very tricky and even I have to look at them twice sometimes.

J's 10th birthday was yesterday. She did pretty well, I must say. We got her an Ipod Nano, my mom got her the Razor cell phone (with 2 snap on covers, a case, and a dangly thing), and MIL gave her pink Heely's and $50. And she's still got more gifts coming. We went out for Japanese food and to see Monster House. P, J's solo coach, emailed to say she's working on song selection for this year and that we're going to get started right after Labor Day. She put a note in saying how proud she was of all J's accomplishments at each competition and that she exceeded most first soloists with the awards she rec'd. She is looking forward to a bigger better year and thanked B and me for our trust in her. I thought it was such a nice thing to say. J can't wait to get started this year - she has major dance withdrawal, LOL.

W is telling me how proud he is to be a homeschooler now. He is so excited about it. I'm planning so much for the kids this year. Without the time conflict of preschool, so much more is open to us. He's been busy this week doing lots of drawing and writing and playing. He is really looking forward to our trip to Hershey Park next week. He's been so helpful to me this week - he put together a new Swiffer stick, opened up a new tablecloth and put it on the table for me, and sprayed and washed the bathroom mirror. He's so cute because he's confident he can really do anything and he gets all manly and cool and asks what else I need done. LOL!

Work has been good. The extra money is so helpful, but seems to just disappear as fast as I get it. I've decided to put 1/2 to 3/4 of my whole paycheck into savings every week. Once September comes, the expenses will start building up again. I figure my paychecks can go to things like dance, K's school, outings, and "field trips". I have to send J's IHIP and W's Letter of Intent soon, too. That's all for W this year though, til he's 6. I have the forms all typed up and ready to go, so I'll mail them next week. Then I won't have to think about paperwork til November's quarterly report.

Life is good.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Yay! The heat wave is finally over. I read a comment in my newspaper from a guy in Arizona shaking his head at us NY'ers for saying several days of 100 degrees was a heat wave. He said that's nothing compared to Arizona heat and he'll send us some cocoa and warm mittens, chuckle chuckle. Well, what the western half of the country doesn't understand is that the humidity in the air is what makes it feel like hell here. No dry air at all. It wreaks havoc on the lungs of asthmatics and can rise one's body temp to over 108 degrees. 10 people died in Queens from the heat. Not a laughing matter.

Anyhoo, all is wonderful on the NY front. The kids have been so busy, I'm starting to really make good money at work, my home has been pretty kept up, and I started eating raw again. Two years ago I went 100% raw vegan for 8 months. I ate only fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds (in hundreds of combinations). It was great. I felt great, I looked great, and I lost weight. Now I'm trying it again. I'm on day 5 already. I'm about 75% raw now. My cooked food is what I normally eat. I'll admit I'm not going raw vegan for any righteous reasons - just so I will look and feel better. I still eat meat and crap sometimes. I plan on easing into as high raw as I can get without going crazy, lol.

W has been reading and reading. He still bring me his workbooks to do with him almost every day, too. J is loving her pre-algebra workbook. She brought it with her to my mom's house last week! I went to Target yesterday and bought out almost the entire back to school section. 24 Crayola crayons = $.20, Elmers Glue = $.20, notebooks, colored pencils, tape, folders, etc etc etc all less than a dollar for a bunch. I saw a cute protractor for J (she always prints one out online) and she loved it - it was bendy and purple. K started doing her TACHS workbook (for the Catholic High School Exam in October). She hasn't touched it all summer until today. A part of me thinks she's just trying to get me to change my mind about her going over a friend's house tomorrow. She knows I don't like this girl, and why she's drawn to her, I'll never know (long story).

Speaking of the girls, they went to mom's work on Friday and slept over. On Saturday, guess where mom took them??? Yup, SHOPPING again. She bought them both a Razor cell phone (with phone plan), new curtains and bedspread for K, and stuff I haven't even seen yet for J. She says it's for J's birthday (Tuesday) and K's confirmation (October). Yeah, whatever. My mom is out of her mind. But, the girls love their phones and have been texting and calling and taking pics of people all day.

Tonight we had a barbecue in the backyard. MIL came over and dh's aunt joined us. I haven't really seen MIL in a while and I was waiting for the disapproving homeschool discussion to begin, but she didn't say a word about it.
The neighbors were out having a bbq too and the kids had a ball playing with their Golden Retreiver, Nana. It was nice. B cooked and made steak fajitas, corn on the cob, and kielbasa, and we had pasta salad, cauliflower salad, mozz and tomato salad, and cupcakes! We have to have more barbecues.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It is 101 degrees outside. It is hazy, hot, and humid with a heat index of 115 degrees. WTF?!?!?

I drove out to my mom's yesterday with the kids. We ate lunch at Friendly's - I used to think that place was great, but the prices went way up and it seems trashier than it used to. The kids played in mom's pool all day. My sister and her kids came over, too. We grilled veggies and pork chops on the barbecue and made some pasta for dinner. Today, mom took the girls to work with her and W and I hung out in the pool. He swims like a pro now - he dives under the water and surfaces 10 feet away, and can dog paddle the whole length of the pool. He can also do a backflip under the water. And he's only had his floaties off for 3 days!

I was also noticing yesterday and today how so well-behaved W is lately. I mean he'll still fight with his sisters and give me lip every now and again, but there's been such a difference since June. He's amazing with other kids - he doesn't whine or act up, he shares great, and he's so considerate. I really do believe that being away from the chaos of school has calmed him and allowed his real self to shine through. He's so awesome. The owner of the dance studio emailed us today saying she's so excited to work with W. She said they'll start with his solo around the 2nd week of August. He can't wait. This is going to be a very cool year!