Sunday, July 27, 2008

Summer is a weird place for us. We just kind of live our lives without much rhyme or reason to it, seeing where the days end up taking us. My lack of frequent blog posts are just another part of how summer affects me. We're all out of the house pretty often, doing stuff that we love, and that you've mostly heard before. J is dancing. W is footballing. K is teenaging. B and I are working.

My get-up-and-go bug usually winds down at the beginning of summer and picks up again in September. We're still doing a lot, though.

W's football practices are at twice a week now. He's fully padded and helmeted up (today he'll start wearing his padded pants - and other little boy accouterments that go with it) and slamming full-force into the other kids, loudly encouraged to "hit 'em hard" by the coaches (and the macho parents). He loves it, but sometimes looks at me like, "he wants us to do WHAT?". He had a birthday party yesterday at a nearby sports complex and has been at the playground most days.

J's second summer dance session ends this coming Thursday and she gets a week off. Then she starts on the new season's choreography on August 4th. That will be for 2 weeks and there's another break til September (I think). She's been hanging out with her friend (S) almost everyday, swimming in S's grandma's big pool, and still giggling and gabbing about V-Factory.

K's been loving summer so far. She spent 4 days at my mom's - going to beach every day, shopping, and living the high-life, lol. She's got a new boyfriend and has been spending a lot of time with him. B and I both met him and he seems like a great kid. He and his parents have driven to our house a few times to pick up K and we were very glad to meet them. His mom is a school principal, so yeah, she's home when the kids are there and is well on top of where they are and who they're with when they go out (I like that, since I'm the same way, lol). K is happy and talks about him nonstop. She's being very mature and I love that she tells me all about him. I'm ok with this. No really, I am. I mean it, I really am. Sigh.

J and W decided they want to wait til September to start the AO curriculum. I think it's because K's home. But that's fine. We try and squeeze in a few readalouds here and there. W has been into puzzle books lately and sits quietly doing several pages out of one every day. J's dance studio has their essay contest up and running. The winner gets a month free tuition. 2nd place gets $100. J said the topic is perfect for her and will be getting started this week (it's due Aug 6th). 3 years ago she won one of the prizes for her essay. It was the same year we started homeschooling. And her teachers always criticized her writing. The contest is judged by a third party of folks who do not know the kids, and J did wonderfully. That sure cemented our belief that homeschooling was the best thing for her.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Arthur Ashe Stadium

J performed today at Arthur Ashe Stadium for the NY Liberty women's basketball game "Outdoor Classic". They say it's an historic event since it's the very first regular season outdoor pro basketball game ever. I worked an early shift (11-3), got home at 3:20 and got J's makeup and hair done. She had a 5pm call so we left at around 4:15 and picked up her friend (S) on the way. It's nice that the stadium is only 10 minutes away, lol. J met up with the dance group and they were escorted into something like a "green room" - a big area where they wait til it's their turn to go on. The rest of us got to wander around the stadium area where they were having this big "fan fest" with music, games, prizes, and lots of stuff for kids. W got in on this basketball shoot-off game. He was the youngest player out of 16 players - 8 lined up on each side taking turns shooting baskets. Out of 7 tries, W scored 4 baskets. He was high-fiving everyone as he finished his turn each time. His team won 3 in a row. His prize was getting to go over to David Lee of the NY Knicks and get a t-shirt signed. Then he went over to this big inflatable slide while S and I had a blast at the Radio Disney booth. We were answering a bunch of Disney Channel questions and walked away with some prizes.

We went in at 6:30 - right to our luxury box. Again, I highly recommend these. It was beautiful - air conditioned, packed with food and drinks (and beer!), and had it's own bathroom. It led to an outdoor balcony with tables and seats where we had a perfect view of all the action. J's group was finally introduced and they were great! All 4 of the studio dance teams performed. It was so awesome to watch them dance right on the court. (It's still awesome even though J's danced at many major venues - Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Izod Stadium for the NJ Nets, Six Flags, etc). At the peak of the Liberty game, there were 23,000 people in the stands. Probably around 7,000 were there to watch J's pre-game performance - pretty cool. After their performance, one of the Liberty staff members escorted each kid right to their seats! That cleared up any worry about trying to figure out where to meet her after her dance. I love that they did that.

So it turned out that 2 bands were performing there as well - V Factory and Menudo. The girls were so excited. Then as luck would have it, both bands happened to be 3 luxury boxes down from us. They were on their balcony, so I grabbed the girls and we all ran over to them! They were really happy we came over (I don't think anyone else saw them there, lol) and several members of V Factory were talking with the girls and we got some pictures with them. One of them (Nicky) told J he saw her dancing earlier and she was really good. J just about died right there. Nicky got a couple of band photos for the girls and had the rest of the guys sign them.

Right next to them, Menudo was just sitting there and of course the girls went over to them and were like, HI! They were all so nice and chatted with them a bit. I cannot tell you how excited the girls were with all this. S has posters of both V Factory and Menudo on her wall, so she's a huge fan. I actually thought Menudo broke up in the 80s and I've never heard of the other band til like 2 days ago, lol. After the Liberty game (they lost) the girls ran down to courtside. V Factory came out and sang another 2 songs, waving at the girls when they were done and walking off the court. Then Menudo came out and sang like 3 songs. As they walked off the court, the girls were yelling and waving and they waved back and shot them a peace-sign or 2. It was funny that most of the audience left early (I guess they were just there to see the game) so the girls got to get up real close.

As the crowd was shuffling out of the stadium, the girls were getting pictures with each member of V Factory. W was happy to be the cameraman as one by one each band member put his arms around the girls for a picture. Talk about pure preteen heaven! We left right after that and the girls giggled and talked about it the whole ride home. S couldn't wait to call her mom and tell her how amazing this night was. J has been hanging out with S a lot over the last 2 weeks - they've been great friends since they were 2 or 3 and go to CCD together, but haven't really hung out regularly like they do now. I love S and her family and I'm thrilled they're (we're) such good friends after so many years. I didn't want to put S's face in any blog pictures so I uploaded a set I made with her cropped out. But every pic is originally with both girls - that J will cherish forever. J and S are going to the Jonas Brothers concert together, too, next month. Now that band happens to be J's favorite in the world and I know she'll be talking about that one for a long time!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Camel Beach

We just got back from Camel Beach, PA - a cool waterpark we've never been to before. We left early Friday morning and got there in less than 2 hours. It was a perfect day. I'm not particularly a waterpark person, but the big slides were very fun. They had this one called the "Spin Cycle" where you go down this tube slide into this huge bowl and go around and around until you fall into another tube slide that leads out into water.It was like we were flushed down a toilet - so cool. The lazy river is B's favorite, lol. W loved the belly slides and the wave pool. The girls loved everything. One area is called the "Pharoah's Phortress" and it's a ginormous play structure with squirt guns, slides, and water pouring on you wherever you go. We stayed about 5 hours and drove back to our hotel.

After a quick dinner, the kids went in the hotel pool for another couple of hours. The hotel is the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Wilkes Barre and it's so beautiful. The girls had their own room adjoining ours. It was great! We left around 10 this morning and got home a little after noon. I had work at 2, K went to Adventureland with her friend, C, and my mom picked up J to take her out to her house so they can go to the beach tomorrow. J got gorgeous highlights in her hair the other day at the salon. She had her second earring hole done last month and had tips put on her nails a few weeks ago. K also had tips put on and had her blonde "low-lights" redone since the roots were starting to show. Now I think it's my turn to have "stuff done". I so need a mani-pedi.

J's July dance session starts Tuesday. She's having dance withdrawal and can't wait to get started again, lol. The instructor at the circus class called the other day to see if J would be interested in being a part of a show their doing. It was at THIS EVENT in East Hampton, Long Island (check out those ticket prices!!). Russell Simmons asked that a small group of kids from this place perform - and they selected J! Unfortunately, she can't do it, since she's already slotted to perform at Arthur Ashe Stadium with the dance company on the SAME FRIGGIN DAY. But she's happy enough to be performing anywhere, lol. I love how she's so incredibly humble about it all. She never brags and doesn't even really mention the stuff she does to her friends...
...I guess, then, it has to be my job! Blogs rock! :P

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Honestly? Not much exciting is going on around here. W has his weekly (soon to be 3x/week) football practice and a birthday party coming up. J is doing camp in the evenings this week and spends the days with friends. K is also out with friends almost every day and went to a Mets game last night. I'm still getting this apartment organized - I'm down to the last bit of clutter and now I just have to make a big list of all the stuff to buy (mirrors, french doors, paint, stacking tables, etc). Work is going very well. I was one of 9 selected for this new initiative project. Sounds cool. And we're taking the kids to a water park this weekend.

I just received the last package of books for AO. Many of the books are free online, many of them I bought used, and a few I bought new. For both kids I spent a total of $147 on books. We went over the schedule and it all looks good. So, we're all ready to start. I'll have a sit-down with J and W and find out how they'd like to go about the whole thing. I'd like them to lead the way with it or the academics they enjoy will end up turning into a chore. We hit the Staples one-cent sale the other day too. 16 pencils ($.02), 10 folders ($.10), 2 small bottles of Purell ($.02), two 1" binders ($.50), and two 1/2" binders ($.50). Soon Target has it's back to school sale - which I LOVE and we can get tons of notebooks, crayons, glue, paper, pens, and other supplies. I'm hoping for a really interesting, fun, year.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

J's Schedule

Would you believe that 2 days after we went to the Hall of Science, W asked to go again? I told him we'd go again next month.

J had her last dance class for the 1st summer session and has 2 weeks off until the 2nd summer session. She's been joined at the hip to her friend, A, and is never home. They were swimming yesterday in the pool and today will be at the beach. They're still doing well with their juice (water and cookie) stand, too.

Here's the AO Year 6 layout for J this year:

Scheduled reading:
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock
School of the Woods by William J. Long
The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson
Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleischer
Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity by Cwiklik
Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick
Galileo and the Magic Numbers by Sidney Rosen

With a focus on crops, flowerless plants, fish, astronomy, amphibians, and reptiles. Will also include nature study, nature notebook, readalouds, sketching, painting, observations, collections, experiments, and projects.
Will also include field trips to various science museums, attractions, and events.

Age of Fable by Thomas Bulfinch
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Iliad by Homer
or Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
or Tales of Troy
A Shakespeare Play
One Life from Plutarch
Poetry: Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Alfred Noyes

Additional reading:
The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth Speare
Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
Little Brother of the Bear by William J. Long
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
Blue Willow, by Doris Gates
Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
Jungle Pilot: The Life and Witness of Nate Saint, Martyred Missionary to Ecuador by Russel T. Hitt
The Von Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp
God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Will include copywork from various sources (Classic literature, Bible, Poetry), oral and written narrations, weekly dictation exercises, and foreign language: Spanish and Latin. Grammar work will include Spectrum and Bridge workbooks and various websites.

Will primarily use the Teaching Textbooks Math 7 and PreAlgebra programs.
Will also include consumer math, mental math, banking, budgeting, entrepreneurship, and hands-on calculations in context.

History and Geography
Will include:
The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Van Loon
The Story of the World Vol 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
What Everyone Should Know About the 20th Century by Charles Phillips
Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster
Story of the Greeks by H.A. Guerber
Story of the Romans by H.A. Guerber
Missionary Travels by David Livingstone

Will also include the creation and continuous updating of a wall timeline and a Book of Centuries, projects, map work, and field trips to various ethnic and historic neighborhoods, history museums, attractions, and events.

Visual Arts
Will include: Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes

Plus various art tools including: watercolor, acrylic, and tempera paints, charcoals, colored pencils, sculpting clay, pencils, canvasses, crayons, felt, chalk, oil pastels.
Methods: still life, nature sketching, sculpting, painting, collages, holiday crafts, photography, and computer graphics.
Artist study will include Botticelli (bio. works, etc)
Will also include field trips to various art museums, attractions, and events.

Will include wide exposure to all forms of music, with emphasis on traditional, folk, and classical music and composers. Will also include unstructured piano, recorder, and guitar practice.
Composer study will include Bach, Baroque

Physical Education
Will include participation in structured group dance classes (6-12 hrs/week Year-round), Weekly circus arts classes (Sep to May), and free indoor and outdoor play.

Continued discussions, reading, websites, and projects.