Wednesday, June 27, 2007

W has just about broken the reading code. Really this time. The girls had creative writing class this morning so W and I went into the children's wing and took out a book to read. It was called "Put Me In the Zoo" or something. He quickly read me the first 3 pages before he decided he didn't really like the story so much. He also felt the need to explain each sentence to me after he read it. So I'm seeing some real comprehension there too. You wouldn't believe how proud he is of himself.

K has been meeting up with her friends every day. They hang out at the playground, walk to the manicurist, or each other's houses, or the store. Young teen stuff. She's happy to have a new crowd to be around. They all seem nice, and one girl will be in 9th grade with her at her school in September.

J is heavily in the throes of 2-weeks-before-Nationals-crunch-time. The dancing is being practiced a lot (another hour was added to 2 of her rehearsal days, making her total dancing 13.5 hrs a week - plus an extra hour 2 mornings next week). The studio owner unfortunately had to ban one of the families from participating in Nationals due to funds owed and overall cooperation. This includes one boy from J's team and a girl from the older team. So all the group numbers need to be re-choreographed to make up for the missing kids. UGH.

The vocal stuff is going surprisingly well. At her lesson on Tuesday, the vocal coach was on her feet clapping and cheering after hearing J sing the song. She said J really made the song her own and was so impressed with how she did it. Cool. The CD is finally edited and we've been using it for practice. The studio owner is having J sing it now at every rehearsal - in front of everyone - to offset any nervousness. Now we're working on movement, costume, and projection. I think we can pull this off in 2 weeks. :^O

Sunday, June 24, 2007

We all rolled out of bed at 6am this morning to get to New Jersey for an 8:30am rehearsal. We got to Giants Stadium around 1 and the kids performed at 2. They did a fantastic job. 5 routines in a row - then they did it all again! After the show we got all the kids an unlimited ride hand-stamp and stayed at the fair til around 6. We and two other families from our studio (J's best friends) went from ride to ride together. It was great.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Summer!

We had a nice, quiet week. On Sunday we went out to my mom's house for a Father's Day barbecue. The kids swam in the pool and went fishing down at the dock. The weekdays were spent mostly at home, since B took 3 days off of work to rid himself of the flu. K has been going to the park almost everyday to hang out with her friends for several hours. It's only 5 minutes away and she has her phone with her so I'm ok with it. I worry, but if I shelter her from exploring independence, I know I'm going to have a problem in a few years. Right now we have open communication, we laugh, we get along, we hug, and she knows I trust her. I plan on keeping things that way.

J had her voice lesson on Tuesday. She's doing lots of breathing and articulation exercises, low-range practice, and worked on the song she'll be doing. We downloaded the song onto a CD and the VC figured where to cut the song to fit it into less than 3 minutes. We brought it to the dance studio owner who gave it to another person who will do the actual CD editing and should have it for us next week. Once we have the edited CD it will be a lot easier to practice. J also has the dance classes in the evening. She takes 11.5 hours a week which consists of:

musical theater
"jump turn kick" (tech)
hip hop
advanced jazz
"jr. company" (tech)

All classes are 1 to 1.5 hours each (ballet is 45 min). I felt it was too much. I had her only in the mandatory 5 weekly classes the first week. Then she begged me to let her do the "unlimited". This kid would live at the dance studio if I allowed it, lol. Well I'm certainly not going to hold her back if she wants it so much. So until July 13th, she's doing the unlimited classes. And as if this kid's not busy enough, she's also performing at the NJ State Fair on Sunday.

Friday, June 15, 2007

W is inventing. This whole week he's been coming up with these ideas and "what ifs". He wants to do experiments and buy stuff to build his inventions. He got a composition notebook out yesterday and drew 2 of his ideas in full detail. The first one is a jet-pack, complete with tape recorder, headset, and cupholder - with big eagle wings and a robot head - that is really a transformer that can turn into a car at the push of a button. The other is a car that floats on water and flies over the street - with a bear head and tail. Cool, huh? We're going to Michaels Craft next week to buy supplies!

Today was the End-of-the-Year-Picnic with the homeschool group. The kids had a great time. We had lots of food, toys, a book swap, and the kids were each given a beautiful certificate for grade completion. I am so framing those. I counted at least 45 kids at the park today and they all played wonderfully together for hours. It was great chatting with all the homeschooling parents, too.

I emailed all the homeschool paperwork to the coordinator yesterday, including next years LOIs and IHIPs. I put a "read receipt" on each email, but haven't got them back yet. I'm pretty sure everything is in compliance, so now I shouldn't have to send them anything until the first quarterly in November. I kept a learning log for each of them that's gotten really huge. I do it for myself, but part of me wants to mail it to everyone I know and run down the street with it waving behind me. My kids learned so much this year and had so many great experiences they never would have had being shut up in a brick building all day. This was a fantastic homeschool year and I'm predicting an even better summer!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Go to your local public school, walk down the hallways, and see what behaviors you would want your child to emulate" Manfred B. Zysk

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summer is creeping in here way too fast for me. I didn't lose the weight I promised myself I would this year and I've hardly done any summer clothes shopping yet. I still love this time of year. Although, anytime the season changes I see new ideas, new places to go, and new fun to have. We have so much in store for summertime.

W has been doing lots of reading this week. He's reading street signs, menus, cereal boxes and books. In fact, he was so excited after doing the phonics page the other day that he insisted I take all the books he can probably read now and put them in the shelf in his bed headboard. This way they're right next to him. He now takes the next page out of the folder and wants to surprise me. He's very proud of himself. W also has been more interested in numbers. Addition, subtraction, coins, and clocks. They just appear normally in every-day life and he is eager to understand what their all about.

J was doing a few pages in her favorite workbook, too, the other day. I peeked, and saw she was writing out the "key point" sentences from a paragraph and labeling and ordering the parts of the digestive system. She made a beautiful watercolor sunset, too (utilizing tricks she learned at the homeschool art class, I noticed, lol). Her days have been full of roller-skating, Barbies, barbecues, sprinklers, dance, singing, hamsters, card games, friends, and she's going to the mall today with one of her bffs (V).

K has been spending her days mostly with reading and the computer. She wants to brush up on math throughout the summer for when she begins high school in September. She feels pretty confident about the other subjects like Social Studies, Science, Health, and English. I know she's learned a lot this year from all the homeschool classes, activities, and trips. She also gets inspired to do her own workbooks when she sees the younger 2 with theirs. Her high school orientation is June 18th. She's so excited and I plan on taking off work that evening so B and I can both take her.

Homeschooling is so much easier and so much more fun and stress-free when children are in charge of their own learning. I'm finding it to also be more productive and fulfilling for them. I say my role is to keep our home and lives full of interesting stuff (what I know or think they'd enjoy), really listen to them and answer questions, foster and encourage their interests, and be their "tour-guide" through this awesome world, coming up with suggestions and ideas and helping them along their own journeys. I love this life.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The dance recital was just as hectic as I knew it would be, but it sailed through without many glitches. The costume changes went smoothly, considering we only had an average of 7 minutes for each. J lost both her black and beige gore boots so we borrowed - I had to clean up and crazy glue an old pair from a teammate, and she ended up wearing her beige pedini shoes when the beige gores she borrowed were way too small. I also forgot to pack the 3 pairs of white shorts we just bought. It's really horrifying to get there and realize you don't have every piece of every costume. But in the end it all worked out - as it usually does in life - and it was a fabulous show.

The after-party was at a really quaint Italian place in Long Island City. The food was great (buffet), the open bar was great (lol), and the kids had a blast running around the sidewalks right outside. And when it started to drizzle, it got even more fun for them. We got home before 9 and all 3 kids passed out immediately.

Monday was a total day of rest for us. Most of the company dance parents kept their kids home from school, too. B brought the car in for a repair (the gas gauge wasn't working), so I took advantage of the time at home to get some good cleaning done. W and I have been doing an easy reading "program" called "Ready Reading" from Tanglewood (thank you to whomever recommended that). It's 22 lessons and you do one a day. He's having fun with it and we've been following the page-a-day thing. After just 10 lessons, I see an amazing amount of improvement already. I did question myself on how this ties into unschooling. Well, the thing is, W wants to read, but is having trouble getting over certain humps on his own. It's frustrating for him. Before I printed out the program I asked him if he'd like to try something new, and he agreed. It's like when you have a loose tooth that's hanging by one little string. It's just quicker and less frustrating to go in and pull it out than wait patiently for it to fall out by itself. And this reading program is the quicker and less frustrating way to reading.

Anyway, this program builds upon everything learned previously and uses lots of repetition. This works for W because he remembers the rules from day to day and feels very confident reading to me now. Normally, he refuses to show me what he knows until he knows it perfectly and won't make mistakes. Now he seems proud that he knows so much. I believe in phonics. I always have.

On Tuesday, J was having fun reading me certain facts out of the Time for Kids book. She then started quizzing me on what the capitals were for certain countries. I suck at that, so she changed it to having me guess the continent that each country is on. She read off an alphabetical list of countries (that also listed lots of facts about that country) and although I guessed most of the continents correctly (ok well, just slightly more than half, lol), I never realized how many countries I've never heard of (Andorra, Brunei, Comoros, Eritrea, etc). We were laughing hysterically and laying all over each other on the bed with W thrown in there for good measure. I think he was actually paying attention. He seems to know all the continents.

The summer dance classes started Tuesday, also. W is trying out tap (but it turned out to be a more advanced class - which isn't good since he's never taken a tap class in his life). And J took her mandatory company tech class (jump, turn, kick). J has 2 mandatory classes today (lyrical and ballet), and 2 more tomorrow (company tech and acro). This is the schedule for the next 5 weeks as well. Her performance team (the one she qualified for with 6 of her teammates that had the big 4-day rehearsal on Memorial Day weekend in NJ) is doing the Meadowlands Fair at Giants Stadium in a few weeks. This fair is really fun, too. I didn't go last year because I had to work (my mom took her). This year we'll all go together.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

On Wednesday the girls had Creative Writing class. Thursday we skipped class on horseshoe crabs at the environmental center so we could get some cleaning done and start preparing for the recital. Friday we went to the homeschool Art Class. This class was about using acrylics in the style of Van Gogh. They discussed the artist, observed a bunch of his works, and made landscape paintings with large skies and lots of swirls on real canvasses. Here are the kids in action:

After the class, the kids enjoyed the new playground:

Tomorrow is the big dance recital. All 13 costumes are bagged up and in the trunk. I went through all accessories, shoes, makeup, pins, eyelashes, hairspray, lintbrush, hairbrush, hair elastics, earrings, stones, sewing kit, makeup remover, hangers, bobby pins, and tights. I printed out a copy of the run-through order and highlighted all 10 of the numbers my kids are in along with what hairstyle and shoe goes with each. Me and another mom will be stationed in our own dressing area right off the stage for the uber-quick changes we need to help with (her dd - one of J's best friends - is in 10 numbers, too). After the recital the studio staff, company kids, and their families will be going out to a big after-party at a semi-outdoor restaurant in Astoria. The kids are so excited and can't wait!