Thursday, August 30, 2007

I love buying books. I have this total obsession with it. We were in B&N today, and armed with my 20% off educator's discount card, I went to town. I spent a total of $80 on like 15 books to use throughout the year. Readalouds, Beginner books, American History, Bridge workbook for J, a bunch of fun workbooks for W that he picked himself, and a kit on learning to play the recorder. We all had some Starbucks with oatmeal raisin cookies before starting shopping. Earlier this morning I dropped K off at her new school so she could pick up her "starter pack". That took about 10 minutes and we were on our way.

After book shopping, we found some more shoes for K (Nike Sneakers and 2 pairs of ballet flats - brown suede and black leather), a pair of slip-on shoes for J, some more school supplies (looseleaf, notebooks, and a scientific calculator), a GAP shirt for W ($5!!), ate some pizza, and went grocery shopping. We gave K a new Sidekick 3 phone last night to celebrate starting high school. She hasn't put it down since. It's all she's wanted for about 4 months. With the exception of new bikes for J and W, the kids are pretty much set for the year and better not ask for another damn thing. LOL.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We are just taking it easy until after Labor Day. K is all ready for school and J and W are ready to begin their new schedule. We were going to start this week - as a practice week - but J wants to wait til K is in school. She's distracting, I guess, lol. W wants to start ASAP but not without J. We all decided to just wait til next week. It's ok. I'm still re-organizing anyway. I redid the girls' room the other day. 4 big bags of garbage and 5 big bags of donated clothes later, it's looking great. The church came this morning to pick up the donated clothes. Ahhh. I love getting rid of stuff. This week I'll work on fixing up W's room. His room is just slightly cluttered, but his bookcase needs purging and his drawers need reorganizing. Then I'll work on buying new storage pieces for everyone.

Dance starts up again soon. First a street fair, then the parent meeting, then auditions all about a week apart. For auditions, the kids have to pick a song, create their own dance and costume, and perform it for everyone. J's just about completed hers. She's been practicing out in the backyard for a few weeks with K cheering her on. She's got about 3 weeks to go. W's enrollment for basketball is in 2 weeks and K starts school on the 4th. She has a student convocation on Aug 30th to get more acquainted with the school and get her locker. There are a few school clubs she's interested in joining already. I think this is going to be a really good year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

We finally got to the mall today. We brought along J's friend (A) and had so much fun. J had some birthday money to spend and got a Build-A-Bear, tons of stuff from Limited Too, and a bag of candy from Dylan's Candy Shop. The kids played with puppies at the pet store (they're allowed take one into a small room and play - so fun), went on the carousel, and we had a great lunch. K got Ed Hardy sneakers, an Abercrombie hobo bag she wants to use for school books, some Victoria's Secret stuff, and a Juicy charm chain. She just needs some basic fill-in clothes, a few more school supplies, and another 2 pairs of shoes. Having uniforms really cut out so much back-to-school shopping time and money.

Yesterday J spent the day at her friend, P's house. P was one of J's best friends at the gifted school 2 yrs ago. It was so great to see her and her mom - it was like no time had passed. J has so much more social life now as a homeschooler than she ever did when she went to school. And W will soon be a part of a local traveling CYO basketball team. He asks everyday about it. It's a great opportunity for him to make more friends his age.

I spent the other night creating this elaborate home/homeschool schedule. It's mainly for me to have my week in order. I rejoined Flylady a while back and it's really motivating. I am a total "list" person and feel so much calmer with one. So my list starts with Monday and has the basics of the days laid out. I have my cleaning routines on there, a day slotted for a library visit, 2 days for grocery shopping, and the academic subject breakdown based on J's and W's input. Every day is Language Arts and Math, Monday and Wednesday includes Science, Tuesdays and Thursdays include History/Geography, and Fridays are for Art and Music (although some art and music will be incorporated every day anyway). I plan on utilizing mainly the Charlotte Mason method (kid requested, mother approved, lol) with the worldbook guideline, along with plenty of websites, related activities, and trips. I think we should give this plan at least 3 months to see how it works for us. The kids are excited to start - maybe next week.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

W hopefully seems to be getting the reading bug. He's still at the "almost-there" stage, but he tries. Here he is after deciding to try out some Harry Potter 2. He's also been fascinated lately with words. He makes up ABC games (e.g. "Let's think of everyone we know in the whole alphabet starting with A"), he spells out loud ("I know how to spell --- "), and he picks out every word he knows from a book I'm reading. He's into telling time and finding countries on the globe. He's still inventing and makes beautiful drawings. Six is a really fun age.

He lost both his front teeth this week, too. Of course this is the most adorable thing I've ever seen. This makes 6 teeth lost so far. Only 2 on the bottom came back, but the 2 top teeth are already coming in fast.

We all went to a block party yesterday at SIL's. We got there around 7pm and stayed til about 11pm. There was a great DJ, a moon bouncy thing, raffles, and lots of food. K and J both made friends almost immediately and hung with them all night. K and her friends gossiped about cute boys, danced to 80s music, and sang at the top of her lungs with the other girls. J and her friends rode bikes, danced a lot, and played all the DJ's games. W danced, went in the bouncy thing a lot, and played basketball and wiffle ball with older boys. It was a great ending to the week.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

J had another birthday celebration on Sunday with MIL. We all had dinner in our backyard - and cake - and J got some more gifts. MIL got her a whole Puma outfit - pink skirt, sweatpants, t-shirt, and sweatshirt and enough money to have a nice trip to the mall. And I've been reminded daily about how desperately we need to go.

Tuesday night we drove out to my mom's house and had yet another birthday celebration for J. This is just how it goes for us every year with all the kids. We don't have 1 big party where everyone is together at one time. Well, not since they were little. Mom got J an Ashton Drake baby and a Sidekick ID phone. It's a nice phone, so nice in fact, that we bought a Sidekick 3 for K as a starting-high-school present.

Yesterday mom and I took the kids to the beach. One good thing about Long Island is that almost every town on the north shore has a few private beaches on the sound. This means no crowds, close parking, and usually a bathroom and food court right there. It was beautiful. J and W found rocks, shells, and dead crabs, made a few sand castles, and swam. K was happy enough just tanning herself. She did put a toe in the water and deemed it way too cold and sat back down. A bunch of other kids were swimming out to what was a beach version of a scary lake raft, and jumping off of it into the water. I know J and W wanted to go out there too, but were a little nervous as it was way out over their heads. I took pictures of our day there, but on mom's camera - mine was dead.

On the way home we stopped at Target and I spent about $50 replenishing our homeschool supplies. We got notebooks and folders (10/$1), Elmers Glue ($.20 ea), gluesticks, compass, protractor, rulers, looseleaf paper, erasers, pencils, pens, colored pencils, sketch notebooks, construction paper, staples, tape, small pencil sharpeners, and a huge globe (on sale for $10). K picked out some magnetic locker baskets, a pink combination lock, and a bright pink usb flash drive. I love these sales.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Saturday while I was at work, B took all the kids to the local pool and the girls finished up the day hanging out with their friends. Sunday we drove out to my mom's house for my grandfather's wake - the kids went in mom's pool and hung out with the neighbor kids all day. Monday was the funeral and a big lunch with lots of family and friends we don't see very often. Tuesday morning was swimming lessons (yes, the kids are definitely drawn to water, lol) and we hung out at home the rest of the day. The kids watched movies, played games, read, and W made this:

On Wednesday we stayed home so i could try and organize this apartment a little better. I could clean and move stuff around for hours and it still won't look right to me. Sigh. I'm going to try it again on Sunday - and I need to cull old stuff from the basement.

Thursday was J's 11th birthday! The kids had their final day of swimming in the morning (they got cute certificates) and we spent the afternoon in Manhattan at the American Girl Place! We'd gone there 3 years ago for her 8th birthday and she was dying to go again. We picked up her friend, A, and hopped onto the subway. The store was just as great as it was then. J had been scouring the AG website trying to choose a new doll (she has "Nelly" and "Marisol" already - and K's "Felicity", along with a Bitty Baby, Bitty Twins, and "Logan", from the Hopscotch Hill collection I don't think exists anymore). But when we got there, she still spent over an hour deciding, lol. She had it narrowed down to 3 different "Just Like Me" dolls or "Molly" (the 1944 one). She finally settled on the curly-haired "Just Like Me" doll. She also picked out "Coconut" (the white dog) and 1 doll outfit. We watched dolls getting their hair styled in the hair salon, saw lots of girls wearing the same outfits as their dolls, and peeked in at the doll hospital on the mezzanine. I enjoyed the store almost as much as the girls. W liked it too, even though I heard a few huffs and puffs along the way. Here are some pics:

After American Girl Place, we walked through Rockefeller Plaza where they had a huge farmers market going on. Not only were there tons of local fruits and vegetables, but a homemade honey stand (they brought along a an active honey hive), an organic raw cheese/free-range beef stand, and so many other stands I couldn't stay away from. For lunch we all went to a great neighborhood Japanese restaurant. And of course, ice cream birthday cake for J!

Today I took the kids to the New York Hall of Science. We met up with some homeschooling friends and had a good time. We watched a cow's-eye dissection, and the kids enjoyed so many exhibits - from watching amoebas swimming around to making giant bubbles, to arm-wrestling kids from a science center in California (technology is pretty cool these days!). Here are some pics! {W "levitating" at the anti-gravity mirror, the cow's eye dissection, the kids in a rope tangle, the boys putting together a brain puzzle, and W rock climbing} -- btw, I'm totally camera-happy lately:

We had a great week! Swimming, friends, Grandma's, J's birthday, American Girl, Rockefeller Plaza, Japanese restaurant, Hall of Science, J at a sleepover tonight, and K has a birthday party tomorrow!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Thursday was swimming again and J is taking to it better than I could have imagined. She did real freestyle with proper form and breathing. The instructor told her and A they should join their 5-borough swim team. Of course they were incredibly proud of themselves. W just loves being in the water. He tries very hard and tends to get a lot of 1-on-1 instruction. A lot of high-5s happen too, lol. Later that morning, J spent almost an hour on a bunch of science websites.

Friday we met up with a couple of other homeschooling families and went to the National Museum of the American Indian. It was a beautiful place with cool exhibits and films. It was our first time there and we loved it. It has a resource room I could have spent hours in and a fantastic gift shop with everything Native American. W bought an arrowhead and K and J both bought bracelets. I brought home free info sheets, workbooks, and a $2 book filled with poetry and songs. J said she wants to use it for copywork. Here are 2 pictures - W and his bud, F, outside the museum, and the boys at an interactive computer exhibit.

After the museum we walked a block over to Battery Park. The Statue of Liberty is right there and it's where the Staten Island Ferry comes and goes from. We watched tumbling street performers and saw about a dozen poor, hot souls dressed head to toe as Lady Liberty for the tourists. The kids had hot dogs and ice cream and played for about an hour in the fountain. It was about 95 degrees out. The subway home was nice and cool and very relaxing after our day downtown. Here's a pic of the kids in the fountain. The girls are doing cartwheels and W is just running all around. K did run through, too, a couple of times. :) Oh and I threw in a complimentary cute hamster picture!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The weekend was quiet. We planned to go to the Thunderbird Powwow at the Queens County Farm on Sunday - but it rained. So we stayed in and watched movies instead. Swimming this week was great again. The kids put all the stuff they've learned (kicking, arms, breathing, and the "superman glide") all together and performed a pretty darn good "freestyle". After swimming lessons, J went to the beach with her friend A, and A's family. They had a blast and didn't get home til almost 9pm! I took W to a (free) magic show at one of our libraries. It was really funny and lasted over an hour. W loves magic and couldn't wait to take one of the magic books home with us to learn some tricks.

K's uniform should be arriving this week. She's very excited to begin high school. Soon we'll do the whole "back-to-school-shopping" thing, but since there's a uniform, we'll mainly shop for accessories. K says the mall is calling out to her. I just can't wait for the supply sales. There's nothing better than the feeling you get after buying crayons, glue, and notebooks at a quarter each. I stock up for the year.

J and W still want a daily/weekly homeschool schedule, so ok. Since J enjoys academically being a grade above where she's "supposed to" be, she's ready to start a 7th grade course of study in the fall. This week she's been going over an entire 6th grade one, filling in any gaps with ease. So far her focus has been on math, but she plans on including language arts, science, and social studies before the summer is over. It amazes me how much she likes these quizzy websites. Topics tend to branch off into so many other areas. She can spend hours on it. I know it's because she owns her learning. No pressure, no demands, no stress. What a novel concept, lol.

W is like that as well. I'm not really focusing on grade level with him, though. What he learns encompasses several different grades. Technically, though, he will be starting 1st grade (according to the state). He's pretty much finished up what is considered first grade, anyway. Just this week he was doing workbook pages and quizzy game websites on alphabetical order, telling time, counting coins, and skip counting (2s and 5s). At the library, (along with the magic book) he was adamant about borrowing a middle-school level atlas and a book on everyday life in Ancient Rome. J would probably like those as well. Homeschooling is so damn fun. :^D