Monday, August 25, 2008


W gave archery a shot today and really enjoyed it. There were a bunch of boys his age there and he made some new friends (and loved seeing his old friends). The kids each got their own targets and were fitted with arm bands, clipped on a big cylinder of arrows, and learned how to use the huge bow. W started out shaky, but within 30 minutes he was shooting straight, very near the bullseye. The instructor pinned a balloon to each target and W hit it every time. It was so cool to see the quick progression from not being able to hit even the wall around the target to popping the balloon in the middle on the first attempt. So we signed up for the fall season!

He decided that for now he'd like to put football on hold for a while. He's been getting knocked around pretty hard and cannot stand the intense drills. It probably would have been fine once a week, but once they started this 4-days-a-week schedule (Saturdays and Sundays at 8am!), he just lost his drive for it. I don't blame him. I mean, he loves the actual games, but since those are only once a week, it doesn't make the rest worth it to him. Maybe another time. I'm relieved. Although I never said anything to W, I was very nervous watching all these 6-8 y/os getting the wind knocked out of them 25 times in 2 hours.

Cub Scouts and CCD starts up again next month, too. J is all set to start her new solo choreography, group technique, and 12 weeks of vocal training within the next few weeks. K is looking forward to her sophomore year of high school. She needs a few more supplies, a haircut, an eye exam, uniform clothes, and lots of other clothes before school begins next week. Ugh, nothing like waiting til the last minute.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NY Homeschool Paperwork - Easier Than You Think!

All our homeschool paperwork was received and is in compliance. Now I sit back and wait for the kids' Metrocards to arrive in the mail. I sent it regular mail - I refuse to spend extra money on certified or receipt-requested - and they did receive it (which somehow surprised me, lol). I sent the kids' 2008-2009 LOIs in with the 2007-2008 4th quarterlies and annual assessments, but they informed me they didn't have them. I felt like "here we go again" with missing paperwork, but I spoke with Mr. Director of Homeschooling and we straightened everything out. I have to say, for many reasons, I do like him the best so far.

Our homeschool correspondence is still the same exact stuff we sent in 2005. There are links to it in the sidebar. Our letter of intent is comprised of 2 sentences and is in a business-letter format. The 1-page IHIP is a copy-and-paste from the course of study, with an extra paragraph I created for a little more detail. The IHIP takes about 7 minutes to update the copy-and-paste to the next grade and change some dates. Because there is so much detail in our IHIP, our quarterly reports can be pretty minimal. Ours contains about 4 sentences explaining that we're moving along fine. I send the same exact quarterly 4x a year with a slight date change on each. Each quarterly takes about 1 minute to update. Our annual assessment is very similar to our quarterlies. I add several sentences describing some the year's highlights to make it more narrative-ish. This takes about 5 minutes (unless you get stuck thinking about which highlights you want to include, lol). On a testing year, I'll add another sentence to the annual assessment stating my child took so-and-so test on such-and-such date and enclose a copy of the result page. I used to just put a sentence that she scored above the 33rd %ile, but the NYC district is now asking for more. Most of my paperwork was created on the advice and suggestions of the amazing homeschoolers at NY-HEN. I love that group and would encourage all new homeschoolers to join.

This year J will be in 7th grade, so it's a testing year for her. We order the CAT-E from the link in the sidebar. It's about $25. The CAT-E goes up to 12th grade. Many homeschoolers like to use the PASS test. The highest grade for this one is 8th grade (link to ordering it is in the sidebar). We do use a certified teacher to administer the test - but I know some NY districts are okay with parents administering it themselves. Once J finishes the test, we send it back to the testing company and we get her scores within 2 weeks. It's very easy.

I will never understand why some NY homeschoolers choose to send pages and pages of information that pretty much will go unread. The districts honestly do not care. All they want to do is check off paperwork that's in compliance. You're honestly not impressing anyone with a description of all the cool stuff you did or plan to do. Really. For myself, I need everything to be simple, minimal, and streamlined. Our total homeschool correspondence takes less than 20 minutes to write up and costs about $3 in postage to mail PER YEAR. And it's always been in compliance. We're in our 4th year of paperwork now. No one should be afraid of it, no matter how many big, scary words "Section 100.10 of the Regulations of the New York State Commissioner of Education" uses, lol.

Here's to a wonderful new homeschool year!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jonas Mania

Mom dropped the girls off at home around 2ish. It was the first time she'd been here since we switched the apartment around. The girls couldn't wait to show her their new bedrooms. Next week we're having the entire bathroom ripped out and redone. I just hope everything is completed by the 2nd week of September.

So, as soon as J got home, she started decorating a t-shirt with everything Jonas Brothers. She had a bunch of Sharpie markers and went to town. I dropped her off at S's house at 4:30 and they left for the concert around 6. The JB concert was at Madison Square Garden and the kids had center seats (far away, but still center, lol). I gave J the camera and she took tons of pictures. She said it was incredible. A guy came out at the beginning telling the crowd to get excited because they were going to be part of the 3-D movie. So I guess the JBs are doing something like Hannah Montana did with the movie. I'm wondering: Do they only use one concert's footage for the movie or snippets of all their concerts? Anyway, the girls were on their feet dancing and screaming the whole time. S's dad picked them up in the city and drove J home around 11:30pm.

And to top off all this Jonas Mania, K and J went to the set of Regis and Kelly this morning to watch the Jonas Brothers do their sound check. The girls were up at 5:30am, got dressed, and were out the door by 6:15. B took them in on the train and they got there early. B's friend (who works there) met them outside the building and got them past the hundreds of lined-up people. In the studio, they were brought right to the front row! B's friend gave J a guitar pick that Nick dropped backstage. Then one woman selected a few people to move even closer - and one of them was K!

It was awesome, they said. They watched them rehearse 3 songs. All 3 guys made eye contact with, smiled at, and waved to the girls. They were literally 4 feet away from them. They left right after that. I picked the girls up at the train station and B got back on and went to work.

Click on pics to enlarge.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

W's scrimmage game was so much fun to watch today. The team they played against are in a totally different NY league, so they won't be playing any "real" games together. This other team had mostly 8-9 y/os so they were bigger and more experienced. W's team got in a few good tackles, though. Each team got to do 10 plays per quarter. I think W's team learned a lot today about teamwork and game rules. I still think it looks so rough and B and I both keep reminding W that it's ok if he feels it's not the right thing for him. We just keep taking it day to day and we'll see what happens. W has 2 practices and 2 more scrimmages this week. I'm tired just thinking about that for him.

J knocked out her dance essay in about 2 hours. I knew she would.

And J turned 12 yesterday! B took her into Manhattan on Friday for some shopping and some lunch. We spend Saturday at my moms, went to dinner, and came back for cake. We stayed over and B, W, and I left early this morning for W's game. The girls stayed out there, went to the beach, and did a bit of shopping (of course).

I got a few more books at Borders yesterday: The Hobbit, Island of the Blue Dolphin, A Cricket in Times Square, the new Clique book, Nate the Great, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare (34 plays and a bunch of sonnets and poems). I only spent $37. I love the educator discounts! I want to start a new readaloud this week and finish it before we begin the AO stuff. W's been doing a new (really fun) reading/phonics workbook the past few days and J's been reading more, too. Now that she has her own room, she has more privacy and peace. She has a high loft bed and underneath will be a cute futon/couch where she can read and relax. It's being delivered this week! K loves the look so much, that she decided she wants a similar setup in her room. Apartment living demands creativity and good use of space. I'm getting pretty good at it, lol!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Single-Word MeMe

1. Where is your cell phone? Pocketbook
2. Your significant other? Funny
3. Your hair? Frizzball
4. Your mother? Generous
5. Your father? Grouchy
6. Your favorite thing? Blankets
7. Your dream last night? Trees
8. Your favorite drink? Cola
9. Your dream/goal? Success
10. The room you’re in? Alcove
11. Your church? Catholic
12. Your fear? Health
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Debtless
14. Where were you last night? Work
15. What you’re not? Wallflower
16. Muffins? Banana
17. One of your wish list items? Kitchen
18. Where you grew up? Gotham :)
19. The last thing you did? Drive
20. What are you wearing? Jammies
21. Your TV? Large
22. Your pets? Boring
23. Your computer? Awesome
24. Your life? Rich
25. Your mood? Peaceful
26. Missing someone? Grandparents
27. Your car? Crapola
28. Something you’re not wearing? Bra ;)
29. Favorite store? Borders
30. Your summer? Busy!
31. Like(love) someone? Many
32. Your favorite color? Green
33. Last time you laughed? Today
34. Last time you cried? Today
35. Who will repost this? Friends

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

J went to the Knitting Factory in Tribeca tonight with her friend S (and S's mom) to see a band called "Honor Society" . Never heard of them, myself, but the girls are into obscure boy bands lately, so why not. They got up close to the stage and had a fantastic time. During one of the songs, S's mom happened to look up - the Knitting Factory is a smallish place and has a few balconies (B's band played there earlier this year and he explained the place's layout) - and 5 feet away, on the first balcony was another boy band. These guys are a certain trio of brothers named Nick, Joe, and Kevin. Yep, the Jonas Brothers were in the same club as my kid. S and J made immediate eye contact with them and were thrilled that Kevin smiled and waved to them. So this now means that Kevin is the nice one and his brothers...not so much. It probably won't matter next week when the girls are at their concert at Madison Square Garden next week.

Speaking of B's band, they're still NYC regulars. They just had a gig Friday night in Greenwich Village. He loves it, it's cool, and they make some bucks. Over the years they've also played at Desmond’s, Kenny’s Castaways, Village Underground, Continental, Hogs & Heifers, Otto’s Shrunken Head, Lit Lounge, Tribeca Rock Club, Don Hill’s, Snitch, Le Bar Bat, Ace of Clubs (Acme Underground), and tons of others. They crank out demos and are always writing new songs. They've even been on the radio a few times. Not bad for what basically amounts to a hobby - and an inexpensive one at that! None of the band members really have any grand ambitions to "make it big". They all, thankfully, have pretty nice day jobs. And besides, I keep telling B that all the real money and fame is with children's music! He's considering it, lol.

J still hasn't started her essay for dance. It's due tomorrow. I think she's like me - prefers to wait until the very last minute and then does a pretty good job. I figure, why do it early? I would constantly second guess myself and revise it too many times. The first draft is always the one you really mean, anyway. :P

W had football practice again tonight. Now he's up to 3x a week. I know he loves it, but the roughness is kinda worrying me. I mean, he's a tough kid, and certainly holds his own, but still. I think we'll just take this week by week and see what happens. He's on the front offensive line during every practice. That's probably going to be his place for the season. Not sure exactly what that entails (not a football person), but I do know he runs into the other players a lot. B will fill me in on the rest of the rules before Sunday's game so I know what exactly I'm rooting for. LOL.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

W and I went to the Queens Botanical Garden yesterday. I haven't been there since a 5th grade school trip. It was nice and peaceful with pretty flowers and trees. I liked how all the different gardens had the plant species labeled so you knew what you were looking at. W thought it was ok. He liked reading the signs, learning about the gardens, and coming up with his own theories on why things were the way they were. His favorite part was the "bee garden" where lots of wooden bee "houses" were and we could see the bees going in and out. He also loved the visitor's building where he could look through pamphlets and check out the different objects and books for sale.

Football is going well. Next week, the team has their first scrimmage game with another team a few towns over. They'll be going together by bus and all the parents will follow and meet them there. W is really excited about it. He's starting to really love football now. He was having some fear issues with a drill called "nutcrackers", where two boys just run into each other full-force - the kid with the ball is supposed to get past the other without getting tackled (or fumbling the ball). One big kid terrified W the most the last few weeks. W would get tackled right away, getting the wind knocked out of him a bit and asking to please not get paired up with him again. But yesterday W went right up to the coach and asked if he could try once again to go against that kid because he needed to do this to get over his fear. He did it, and did it well without fear and was so proud of himself. He admitted his fear, faced it head-on (literally!), and proved to himself he can do this. That took a helluva lot of guts, imo. I'm so proud of him. Here's W during a defense drill (at the beginning he's on the left)

J had a fun week at dance, having to choreograph a number with 2 friends and perform in front of the parent audience. They wore purple, white, and black, and I know they put their hearts into it. I had work, but B went and said it was great. The new season's choreography starts next week and they're having a pizza party on Friday. She still hasn't started her essay, but I'm like that, too. I do my best work when it's last-minute. Not sure why that is, lol.

Another thing I've come to realize is that I function best with schedules and lists. Deep down I knew that, but when we embraced unschooling, I felt I should learn how to be more spontaneous and creative. I lived without my daily lists for a while - only making the occasional shopping, Christmas gift, or cleaning list. But now, ever since AmblesideOnline has become a part of our lives, I am starting to make list after list and schedule after schedule and I'm LOVING it. I made a daily AO subject schedule. I wrote down the weekly schedule. I have a list of their books. I have an extra-curricular calendar list. And I've stated making daily to-do lists for myself again that I cannot believe I lived without for a few years. Everything's on my daily list - and then I check things off as I do them. I've become a total list/schedule junkie again. All I needed was that little taste...