Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year on the Horizon

Christmas was so nice this year. The kids made out like bandits, as usual, and my little sister got engaged! I'm so thrilled about that - now I have to seriously lose some weight. We spent Wednesday and Thursday at my mom's. Wednesday was an hours-long wrap fest. I gotta start getting the presents wrapped much earlier. Wrapping totally sucks. Well, I suck at it. The kids were very happy, though. K's gifts included a beautiful wooden jewelry box, lots of clothes, and a new dresser for her bedroom. J's included CDs, clothes, and a vanity table/bench for her bedroom. W's included some board games, a red Nintendo DS, and a floor chair that his video games plug into and sound comes out of it. The together gift was the Wii. We've never been a family to have a big gaming system (I think the last one we had was the outdated Gamecube and before that the Nintendo NES and Sega Genesis - bought real cheap). But I caved in. It's fun and it gets them up and moving. B and I got a new camcorder - woohoo. I haven't taken any video of my kids in 4 years.

We were planning on staying home for New Year's Eve, but this friggin apartment STILL isn't completely finished. The stove isn't hooked up, no ceiling fans up yet, no where to put sheets, towels, and blankets, no curtains, bare walls, bare light bulbs, no table and chairs. It's beautifully painted, rewired, re-ceilinged, and rewalled, but too bare and cold looking. Maybe we'll go to my mom's again.

J has been losing interest in the AO Yr6 schedule, so we talked about it and she decided to try a lower year to see if that works better for her. She loves the whole curriculum, but Yr6 is a heavy reading load for someone who isn't into reading and isn't used to a schedule like that. We're going to do Yr4 instead, yet still keep the 7/8th-grade level math and grammar/writing. She's definitely a free spirit and spends most of her time doing her own thing - creating, writing, dancing, researching, etc. I often ask her if she'd just rather not have a schedule (I'm still the unschooler at heart), but she insists she wants to keep at it. So I just bought all the Yr4 books she'll need. After looking through some of them, she seems much happier and excited to begin. Fine with me. W, is still enjoying his Yr1 schedule - so much so that he gets everything out that we need before I remind him. He's reading very well now, writes in gorgeous cursive, retains just about all of every story we read, and has so much pride in his work. I'm amazed at the difference in him from just 4 months ago.

W got teased by his cousin on Christmas about his homeschooling. Then he looked at me and said, "WHEN is W going to start going to SCHOOOOOOOOL???". Before I could answer, my mom jumped in with, "W DOES schoolwork, is learning more than what he'd learn in school, AND he gets to SLEEP LATE". Hahahahaha. Go Ma!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Movin' Back In

Merry Christmas everyone!! I am happy to announce that our apartment had it's final coat of paint put on the other day and we can now move back in. After the plastering, taping, and sanding, a new set of guys came to do the paint primer, and 2 coats of paint in 5 rooms. We chose beige for the whole place (I just wasn't in the mood to have a multicolored home again) - satin for 4 rooms and semigloss for the kitchen. We went with "Pecan Sandie" Behr paint, White for all the trim, doors, baseboards, and moldings, and Ultra Pure White for the ceilings. The plasterers didn't cover the floors for some reason so I noticed I have a whole days' work scrubbing splattered plaster and dust off my wood floors. At least the painters were a little more careful. We need to uncover all the furniture, scrub everything down, and bring all the bedlinens to the laundromat. We've gotten rid of a TON of stuff and will probably get rid of a ton more.

We tolerated the week at MIL's. Never felt more unwelcome anywhere, but we survived. The kids got a lot of scheduled academics done and we did a good amount of shopping. We went to my mom's on Dec 23rd after work - so we got there at like midnight. I couldn't do another night at MIL's. Christmas night, we're stopping by MIL's again for a couple of hours, then we're going right home. I can't wait.

Monday, December 15, 2008

After 2 months, the apartment is ready for patching, sheet rock, and plastering. We spent the weekend bringing anything that could be picked up to the basement. The table, chairs, tvs, and computer go down today. The guys will be here first thing tomorrow morning. So, no, we haven't been able to do any Christmas decorating at all. But we did throw out 2 huge leaf bags of stuff. It feels good to get rid of things. I just have to keep looking ahead, and not focus on the taped up holes, dust, and bare light bulbs. We're probably staying with MIL for a few days until it's finished - that should be, um, fun.

The kids seem to be screaming for the structured schedule again. We've been taking it real easy during December, but I think we're ready to hit the books again hard. There's such a weird "antsy-ness" around here when the days don't seem productive - more boredom, more bickering, more impatience (and the kids act up a bit, too! LOL). J's CCD teacher thinks the world of her. Yesterday, she came out and said, "J just told me she is homeschooled. No wonder she's so wonderful! You guys are amazing". That's the second time this week I've been praised for homeschooling. The other day at Costco, a friend's mom I haven't seen in about 15 years told me B and I were "aces" when I mentioned we homeschool. I find it so interesting that over the 4 years I've been at this, the reactions have significantly changed. I used to get mainly stiff smiles, nods, and "huh?"s. Now I get pretty much all raving compliments.

We made beautiful ornaments this weekend. The kids blew up a small balloon and wrapped gluey string around it. After it hung up to dry for a day, they popped the balloon, pulled it out carefully, brushed on another layer of watered-down glue, and sprinkled glitter on it. J made one for her Kris Kringle at dance. W and B decorated a quilt square for cub scouts and the kids made a gingerbread house together. It was our first one and I think they did a really good job.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

December reminds me of summertime in a way. We tend to have a lull in the scheduled seatwork and pick it up again with a vengeance the first week of January - just like the first week of September. This week we've just been hanging out, watching Christmas shows, making cookies, and doing a minimal bit of the scheduled academic work. W is still reading lots, learning parts of speech, spelling, doing arithmetic in his head and on the computer, learning to cook, and going to dance, cub scouts, and the Home Depot kids workshop. Today he made a football goalpost, an art easel, and a leaf press. B said it was great and W loved it. They plan on going every month. I'm also thinking of taking the kids back to the art museum every week for the art workshops. I spent some time today revisiting all the free or cheap stuff to do around town and I can't believe how much there is. I take advantage of the fact that we live here and will get to it one day. I guess that's why I didn't visit the Statue of Liberty til I was an adult, lol.

J is reading for her book club, doing lots of computer stuff, going to dance and voice classes, and spending lots of time with her best friends. She does lots of sleepovers and hopefully soon, when this apartment is finally finished, we can reciprocate. So even though we take breaks from the written schedule, they're still learning so much. Actually, I've been noticing lately how many connections they make to everything around them. It's fascinating to witness. W adds and subtracts rapidly in his head, understands hurricanes, reptiles, and loves talking about the history stories we've read. We drove past "Albion Street" one day and he quickly pointed out that Albion was the ruler of ancient Britain. K has been working very hard in school, challenging herself to get nothing less than a B come spring. She's become pretty determined and has high aspirations for herself - lol, and still sleeps til noon on the weekends. Today she went to Manhattan with one of her best friends to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and do lots of window shopping.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's December 1st. I am excited about this month. 75% of our Christmas shopping is done. I'm doing the Christmas cards this week. B is decorating the outside of the house this weekend. And we have a DVR this year to record all the Holiday shows!!

Thanksgiving was really nice. After work on that Wednesday we all drove out to my mom's. My sister and her bf invited us out to karaoke, so B and I met them there at around 10:30pm. B and I sang about 2 songs each. I used to love karaoke -- 15 years ago. I had fun, but I think I'm past my heyday with it, lol. We got home at around 1:30am. B got up early Thursday to put on the turkey (he had it brining overnight). He also made homemade stuffing, fresh cranberries, and corn casserole. B can cook...really well. Mom made the potatoes, carrots, and green bean casserole (yeah we just had to make that). We ate, had great pies for dessert, and we all crashed early to bed.

Friday, we took the kids ice skating. My other sister (G) and her kids met us there. They are 6 and 8 and W loves when they're there. W was a true pro on the ice, which I think amazed even him since we hadn't gone skating since last year. The girls also had a good time skating. That evening, we all ate the tons of Thanksgiving leftovers.
Mom took the girls to the mall (what a shock, lol), and B took W to see Bolt in 3D. I hung out with my sister (M) and her bf (M) at mom's house - I'll call them M&M from now on. A nice fire was made in the backyard in one of those fire pit things. We all sat around it and drank wine and talked until 2am. The girls came home somewhere around 10 or 11pm, sat with us for a little while, and went to bed. Mom hung out til 2, lol. B and W also got home somewhere in there, came out to say hi, and also hit the hay.

On Saturday we came home, I went to work, and relaxed all evening. The weekend wore me out, lol. On Sunday, B took 6 huge garbage bags full of laundry to the laundromat with W. Our washer/dryer is in the basement and we have no power down there. Yes, we still have one worker here trying to figure out the electrical stuff and in my opinion, is not all that he's cracked up to be. We're in our second MONTH of getting our wiring done and I have no light in my kitchen or power in my basement. Not to mention the 6 or 7 2'x2' holes in every room that have yet to be patched, sheet rocked, and painted. I want to scream.

Also, a week ago, K turned 15. I still have a hard time saying that I have 15-year-old. I was just 15...and it wasn't pretty. She's awesome, though. I see way more responsibility, maturity, and good decision-making than I ever had at that age. We got her Ed Hardy boots (chocolate-colored), my mom got her a new North Face short jacket, and my sister got her the Twilight CD. I was impressed that K's boyfriend got her a Tiffany bracelet (lol, one of K's best friends stated that he has now raised the bar for all boyfriends).

Look at our African Dwarf frog. It was less than 1/3 the size when we got it. It makes me sort of cringe a bit when he extends like this. He's huge and he almost looks like a person.