Tuesday, April 28, 2009

W, J, and B went to Old Navy this morning. J got a couple of tank tops and a shorts outfit. She found a giftcard from last year. W got 2 pairs of flip flops. Since the weather is very summer-like, he's been dying to get out of his socks and sneakers. When they came back, our friends came over to give us their goldfish and frog. They are moving to Spain very soon and are cleaning out the house. We've always had fish, frogs, etc, so we were excited for some more.

W had First Communion practice this afternoon at the church. B dropped him off then swung around to drive J to dance. She's the assistant teacher on Tuesdays at 4pm for the 7yo ballerinas and tappers. W had musical theater with her at 6:30, then J had tap and contemporary choreography til 8:30pm for the upcoming competition. K called me after school to see if it was ok to get her "cartilage" pierced. Um, what? It was ok with me, as long as she pays for it and doesn't come home with a 3-inch metal rod through 2 sections of her ear. She came home and showed me a pretty little gold stud near the upper part of her ear. It looks really nice, actually. I might just get one myself (along with the tattoo my mom wants to get with me - as soon as I get up the nerve, lol).

K's also been freaking out over the swine flu that some of her friends are getting. Her high school is about a mile away from the one on the news. Another high school a few blocks away from hers supposedly had some kids with "flu-like symptoms" who were sent home. All these kids know each other and hang out together. I just want to keep her home until college. But she is still going to school - and washing her hands about 39 times a day. I don't know how these kids can even concentrate with all this crap going around. ugh.

W's academics today:

~ 3 pages in CIMS math workbook - counting coins up to $.50 (visual and word problems) and a dot-to-dot finding only the even numbers in the 200s.
~ 1 page in Spectrum Phonics on 3-letter consonant blends
~ We read an A.A. Milne poem "Knights and Ladies"
~ Copywork was the first sentence of that poem in cursive
~ We read "The Inchcape Rock" from Fifty Famous Stories Retold. W gave a narration afterward.
~ We read 4 pages of "As You Like It" from Tales of Shakespeare (Lamb). It's a bit hard to understand for an 8-year-old, but we discuss it as we read. I think he kind of likes the older language. He'll read the original in a later year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Last Zoo Class

W's last zoo class at the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn was today. They spent time on the pond rug discussing the previous classes and what they learned. They pet a giant rabbit and W got to show everyone the skin that his lizard shed the other day. He was happy that the kids came over to him to touch the skin and ask him questions. Then everyone got to explore the Discovery Center. We walked through it every week before going into the classroom, and W always tried to stop and play first, but was always told "not this week". He was so excited to finally get to play. It has various "centers" and live animals like turtles and a tarantula. He loved the frog-feet gloves, the animal info cards, and the "what animals eat" center. J, B, and I enjoyed exploring a bit too.

We explored the rest of the zoo a bit after the class was over. We went through the "Discovery Trail", where we saw kangaroos, red pandas, porcupines, and bright-colored birds. They had "lilypads", "eggshells", "turtle shells", and a "spider web" for the kids to play on. In one area are 2 families of baboons. They are great to watch. The rule is not to smile at them or they think you're being aggressive by showing your teeth. I've heard they jumped at the glass at a few spectators once.

Before we went out in the afternoon, W spent about an hour-and-a-half on academics. I'm going to start keeping track (on the blog) of what he's doing. I can't believe it's April already and we're still following this curriculum. I mean it's great and all and we take our time with it, but I really thought he would have canned it by now. He loves the routine each day and he loves the feeling that he is learning so much. Of course I know he would be learning tons even without this schedule, but if it makes him feel proud, then so be it. Since this may be a daily thing, I'll keep it separate with a broken line.


Today's academics:

~ 3 pages in his CIMS math workbook on coin value and counting coins up to $.50
~ 1 page in Spectrum Phonics (2nd grade) on 3-letter consonant blends
~ We read A. A. Milne's "Teddy Bear" and W's copywork was the first sentence from that poem in cursive.
~ We read "Hengist's Treachery" from An Island Story. W gave a great narration afterward.
~ We read "The Leap at Rhodes" from The Aesop for Children. We discussed the story and the moral.
~ We finished Ben Franklin (D'Auliere) and W gave a narration about the last years of Franklin's life.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This morning J and W had CCD class. He’s making his First Holy Communion next week and is getting prepped for that. He has a gorgeous Perry Ellis suit that has been tailored to fit. He’s so excited that he’ll be now able to “eat the cookie” at mass. He spent this beautiful (and really warm) Sunday afternoon at the playground. He and his friends made-up and played lots of games. They also had a water fight. The sprinklers weren’t on - I guess it’s still technically too early in the year - so they improvised with the water fountain.

W is setting up a 13″ tv in his room. This tv was mine from 20 years ago! It won’t have cable connection, but it will have a dvd player under it. W has a loft bed and a huge underneath area for all his toys, chairs, hamper, and now the tv. J already has a tv and dvd player in her room.

In the late afternoon,the kids helped B with the barbecuing. W and J were riding their ripsticks and bikes. That ripstick is really hard to manage. I actually tried it one time. And wouldn’t you know it, W soon came upstairs with a bloody knee. After dinner we just took it easy watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and a movie. Then I went over all of W academic stuff for the upcoming week making sure we have everything we need. J is focusing mainly on math and reading this week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Disney Earth

I took the kids to see Disney Earth with the homeschool group yesterday. I love movies like that. Even back in the 70s when The Wonderful World of Disney used to show a short clip of animals in nature with that cowboy narrator on Sunday evenings. This movie was very cute. It was also sad, watching how the circle of life can be cruel. The footage taken was incredible and we got a glimpse at the end to see the cameramen in action. J was glad her friend L came, so they sat together, and W had a couple friends there he sat with as well.

I mailed out their 3rd quarterly reports last week and I'll just assume it was received. I also ordered J's CAT-E, the test she'll be taking next month. J has been going over lots of 7th grade math over the weeks to make sure she's ready. W is moving along well with his AO Yr1. I found 2 old CIMS 2nd grade math workbooks that J's 2nd-grade teacher let her have when the school completely changed the math curriculum. We have Part 1 and Part 2. W loves them best of all now. They're plain, no color, very to-the-point, and have these exercises that seem to get through to him. Not something I would look at from the cover and say, "hey that looks great!". We're almost through the first book after just starting a few weeks ago with it. So, I am convinced now that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, heh heh. I don't know if these books are available anymore, but I'd like to seek out the higher levels for him.

Monday, April 20, 2009


W had his zoo class today and they talked about animal behavior and enrichments. Enrichments are what zookeepers put in the animals' cage that will create a positive reaction. The main one being appropriate food, and the other one being toys. The instructor put some stuffed monkeys in a glass pen and asked the kids what kind of environment they would need. The kids said things like "trees", "water and food", "places to get out of the rain", and "stuff to play with". We had walked around the zoo earlier and noticed the monkeys have baby toys, the goats have what looks like punching bags (for them to butt into), and the parrots have lots of fun-looking hanging things. The instructor brought in a hen, put her in the pen and tossed in some mealworms. The hen started clucking loudly and gobbled up every last one. It was obviously a "good enrichment" since it evoked a cute positive response from the hen. Common sense, yes, but still a lesson in there.

The kids then made some fun things for the meerkats. They put mealworms in a toilet paper tube and wrapped the whole thing in decorated paper. We went over to the meerkat pen and one of the zookeepers walked right in there and strategically placed all the "enrichments" around the pen. The kids watched as the meerkats found each one (and climbed high to get a few), rip them open and reach in to eat the mealworms. This proved to be a good enrichment since the meerkats got very active and playful. Cool class. Would have been even cooler if it wasn't pouring rain outside.

Before we left, W did 2 math pages, 2 reading pages, some copywork, read an A.A. Milne poem with me, and narrated back a story from Fifty Famous Stories Retold and one Aesops fable. B read the stories to him and as luck would have it, one story included this line: "the boy named Richard was called Dick" and the other one had this one: "The farmer took his ass to the market". From the other room I hear this riotous laughter. I think B was laughing harder. After a little while, B called to me, "OK, we're done reading about Dick and ass now." (insert more riotous laughter)


Saturday, April 18, 2009

I took the girls out to a jewelry party at my sister's house last night. It was a cool party with lots of women and some gorgeous bling. My little sister (the chef) made incredible finger foods and desserts: skewered chicken, rice paper beet/cucumber wraps, smoked cheeses on crackers, and so much more. I bought an ankle bracelet and my mom got the girls something each. We left after 11pm and I don't think I got to sleep til after 3am. I'm not cut out for late-nights anymore. Ugh, I was a tired mess all day today.

We slept over my mom's and went out for breakfast this morning. Then I dropped the girls off at home and I went to work. J and K went over their friends' houses this afternoon. W spent the day at the playground. He had a huge game of freeze-tag going on with over 10 kids. In the evening we played chess - he loves it. Then we read together. AO gives a list of "free reading" that I just figured we'd never get to. But since he was sleepy and mellow, I suggested something light like Little House in the Big Woods. J loved that book and I think he likes it now too. It would be so great if we can get back into the evening readaloud. It mellows my kids out even more - and me too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Week Recap

Last Wednesday was a nice relaxing day at home. W did A.A. Milne copywork, 3 math pages, lots of reading, reading comprehension games, and we read some Ben Franklin bio, Aesop's, and Our Island Story. He played Wii for a little while after that and spent a few hours wit B at the playground. J spent the day at a friend's house and slept over. Thursday the kids had 4H club.

Friday W went to the homeschool group book club. They read The Lorax and I now love that story. W had cub scouts that evening and J went with her friend to see The Hannah Montana Movie. My sister picked me up around 3 and we drove up to Warwick, NY to see my cousin D do an acoustic set at a local coffee house. He played guitar and harmonica and sang with an adorable girl from the neighborhood. I was so proud of him and happy that I got to see him before he heads to the Navy. Saturday, the girls enjoyed a day out with friends, I worked, and W and B went to the park and cooked dinner together. Sunday was Easter and we all went out to my mom's house. Yesterday, W did more morning academics - B has been home for a while and can see what W does. We were supposed to go to the zoo class, but there was an accident or something bringing the BQE to a complete standstill, so we didn't make it. W went to the playground instead. It's teeming with kids since school is off this week. K has been busy, too. She's spending lots of time with her friends and is getting ready to be "in the court" at a sweet 16 later this week. She and 4 other girls (with matching dresses and shoes) and 5 guys are helping the birthday girl "debut". I think there's even a waltz involved. Tanning and getting a mani-pedi are in her plans for the week.

W has been really getting into his workbooks and readings. He still loves math and is now starting to really enjoy grammar. He's moved on from phonics and has started with punctuation and parts of speech. He flipped his book right to a short test and got everything correct - even though we never really went over much about sentence formation and past tenses. I guess all that reading and copywork really sinks in! With our history readings, he asks to look at a map to understand more about the countries in the stories. It's so interesting how he just gets it. We're both having a lot of fun together with it all.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Beczak on the Hudson

We drove up to the Beczak Environmental Education Center in Yonkers this morning. W was part of a class about food chains in the Hudson River. The view of the river and Palisades Mountains was absolutely breathtaking. The class was held inside the center. They learned about how striped bass eat atlantic silversides, which eat amphipods (like sand fleas), which eat zooplankton, which eat phytoplankton, which drink drops of water which may contain the PCBs from certain factories. So since people eat striped bass, people are also ingesting PCBs. They also discussed (and demonstrated with a large model) how fresh water from the Adirondack Mountains flows down the Hudson into the Atlantic Ocean. We were in an area of the river where the water is partly fresh and partly salty - "brackish". I forgot my camera, so I found a picture on google of what the view looks like (although this one is in the fall, and it's now spring, well, you get the idea, lol).

After the class, a few of us hung around and went down to the shoreline to climb on the rocks and throw pebbles into the river. It was pretty windy and chilly, but the kids didn't seem to notice. It took less than 30 minutes to get home. I love that there are so many new places to see so close to our house. I feel we haven't even scratched the surface of all that is out there!

Monday, April 06, 2009


Today at the Prospect Park Zoo class the kids learned all about owls. The instructor gave a wonderfully indepth presentation on the characteristics of owls. The kids, once again, were very eager to ask and answer questions and all seemed so fascinated by the information. She gave each group of kids a field guide and they had to identify the owl in the picture she was holding up. W was so proud that his team got them all right. Then the kids went to the tables to dissect owl pellets. It was so great so see how much the kids loved that. W had a couple of rodent skulls in his. They all got a laminated page to identify the different bones they picked out. Who knew owl vomit would be so cool? We still have the pellet he got at Urban Rangers - we're so gonna hit that one tomorrow.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Weekend Madness

J had another dance competition on Saturday. Friday was spent with me at home organizing the costumes, accessories, and supply trunk and B out running errands, food shopping and picking up last minute items like white bobby pins and "diamond" earrings. J had a birthday party Friday evening and it was nice to see K helping her with clothes and hair. I love that they're so close.

I went out around 10pm to pick up J from her party and K from her friend's house since we had an early wakeup in the morning. At 7am we were all up, B packed a huge food bag for us (sandwiches, sodas, waters, snacks), made us all breakfast, and packed up the car for me. He's amazing. He usually comes with us to competitions, but W had his Communion Retreat from 9am-1pm. B brought him to that.

We got to the venue within 30 minutes and set up all our stuff in our studio's dressing room. J had 2 hours of workshop classes before the actual competition began. This was from 10am to noon. The dancers ideally need to be ready an hour before performance time. We were all a bit worried about the program schedule since 4 of J's numbers were to go one between 1pm and 2pm and her other 4 numbers were scheduled for 7pm to 8pm. Needless to say, the costume changes were a whirlwind. But J and I have done this together for so long that we can go from a head to toe tap costume to a jazz solo costume (that is getting a bit small), with different shoes, hairstyle, and undergarments in about 2 minutes.

During the long afternoon break, we ate lunch and K and I zipped back to Queens to pick up B - and get back in time for the first set of awards (which were at 4:45). First my car battery was dead, so I got a jump from one of the dance dads. See, this is the stuff that totally stresses me out. I'm in a hurry and things like this always seem to happen. But it only delayed us for about 15 minutes. I picked up B at about 4pm, he dropped W off at MIL's (where W was taken out to eat at a nice restaurant), and off we were back to the venue. Then there was traffic all of a sudden. An accident on my highway. Ok, now it's like 4:30 and I know we're gonna miss the awards. I don't know how we did it, but we got there, parked, ran in, and just made it.

The evening set went about the same way. A little less hectic than the morning. And then it was finally time for the evening award ceremony. Our studio did really well. This competition has awards as follows: Bronze, Silver, Sterling Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Here are the results for J's numbers (don't forget, "Open" means a mix of dance styles, "Small Group" means 4 to 9 kids, "Large Group" means 10 to 15 kids, and "Production" means every studio team is in it):

Jazz Solo - PLATINUM (2nd Place overall for Junior solos)
Musical Theater Solo - GOLD
Lyrical Small Group - PLATINUM (1st place overall for Small Groups)
Open Small Group - GOLD
Tap Small Group - PLATINUM (2nd place overall for Small Groups)
Open Large Group - GOLD
Open Large Group - GOLD
Production Large Group - PLATINUM

J's studio's older team (14 and 15 yos) won just about all the Diamond awards given out (about 5 out of 7). They also won overall high score of the day out of the 102 numbers from 4 different studios. J had such a good time all day. She never stresses at all. She just laughs and eats and enjoys herself, all while getting into another costume. I laugh right along with her as I'm panicking inside that we won't be ready in time. I know I should be used to it by now. All in all it was a great time and we were home a little after 10pm. My parents came to watch both sets of J's numbers. After the final awards, they took K and J home with them. The rest of us will go out there today. Full, wonderful weekend as usual.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Head Heart Hands Health...

...and Homeschoolers!!

J and W are now part of a brand new homeschoolers 4H club. 4H is a very old organization with a focus on "hands-on learning". Wikipedia says it's slogan is "Learn By Doing" - gotta love that. 4-H programs can be found in three expansive mission mandates: Science, Engineering, Technology, Citizenship, and Healthy Living. While originally a group revolving around agriculture, animal husbandry, and farming, 4H continuously develops new programs like photography, conservation, cooking, public speaking, history, art, and more. What a great opportunity.

The kids had a really good time with it. At the initial meeting there were about 10 kids. The woman running it was such a pro. She had awesome activities planned and kept the kids very engaged. J wasn't sure she'd be into it, but is eager to go back next week. Several of her friends were there which made it more fun. W really loved it. The activities were so cool for him. He certainly loves science and this class was full of that. Afterwards many of us walked to the playground and the kids just let loose for an hour or so. That's when a wise girl in our group said it should be the 5-H Club - for Homeschoolers! LOL.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Yesterday the kids and I went to see Seussical the Musical at Queens College's Colden Center. We met up with a bunch of our homeschooling friends and we all sat together in great seats. I never got to see this on Broadway, but was always interested. J and W loved it and I actually thought it was pretty funny. When we went to the Museum of the City of NY last month, we got to see the actual costumes from the Broadway show. These smaller shows are through an organization called "Theaterworks". Many of the shows are geared toward the younger audience, but the acting and singing were so phenomenal that we want to see all of them, lol.

J and I had a talk and she seems excited to audition for certain performing arts high schools at the end of the year. She prefers one in particular because it's very well known and it's the probably the best public performing arts high school in the country.  She loves how it not only focuses on the arts, but heavily on academics as well. I looked at her like, "huh?". I honestly had no idea she had any significant interest in school academics. Interesting. She was then ready to create a schedule for herself and get cracking on preparation for this year's CAT test. The first thing on her handwritten schedule is copywork. That's funny, because it was the first thing on W's too. Then the rest of it is all math, reading, vocabulary, spelling, language arts, "and other stuff". She wants to keep a few of the AO readings, too.

So, both kids have created a wonderful activity list/schedule for themselves. I couldn't have done a better job myself, lol.