Monday, November 30, 2009

My Favorite Time of Year

We put up our Christmas lights yesterday. Ok, B put up the lights. He gets his creativity on around the holidays. Soon he'll be making homemade ornaments and wreaths and baking up a storm. I do the shopping, the Christmas cards, and the inside decorations. This is the first year we got the outside decorations up before December 1st.

Thanksgiving was lovely as usual. We spent it out at my parent's house in Long Island. Both of my sisters were there too, along with a BIL, a fiance, a niece, and a nephew. As usual there was way too much food and we took lots home to eat all week. Everyone around the table gave thanks for something special in their lives as we all held hands. I think it's great to have a holiday that's all about being thankful for what you have in your life - topped off with a great feast celebrating family and friends.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

K is sixteen years old today. I cannot believe how the time flew by.

K celebrated her birthday on Friday. Her "theme" was black-and-white, so that's what everyone wore. K wore RED. Her dress was a gorgeous red satin, with silver rhinestoned strappy heels, and a silver rhinestoned tiara placed within her salon-styled, upswept and curled hair. The invitations were black and white and K tied a small red ribbon through every one. A huge party bus (which was also black and white) met us at the park overlooking the water and Manhattan's skyline. My mom, sis, BIL-to-be, husb, K, and I filled the bus with balloons (black, white, and red), food, and decorations. K and some early show-uppers wrote all over the outside and inside windows. The bus was like a gigantic limo inside. There was a 42" tv, a $10,000 sound system, a bathroom, a strobe light, and a driver who is at your beck and call for 7 hours. K filled 3 iPods with music and her best friend made an awesome photo slideshow with K's baby pics and other photos from the last 3 years - which looked great on the big tv.

Twenty-Eight of K's friends helped her celebrate (my sis and her fiance chaperoned). They drove around Manhattan and the first stop was Times Square. The kids all got out of the bus and ran around the area for about a half-hour. Tourists were taking pics of the bus and the kids, Reggae street drummers banged out an awesome "Happy Birthday", and the kids took tons of pictures.

The next stop was the South Street Seaport. Again the kids got out to wander around (it so pretty there), then congregate back around a beautiful 3-tiered stand of red velvet cupcakes - each with a candle - to sing Happy Birthday to K. My sis made them, along with chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Everyone had a great time. They were back in Queens by 11:30 and all the kids were picked up by midnight.

The rest of K's weekend consisted of 2 sleepovers and going to see New Moon.

At school it's Spirit Week and today is "Clash Day", so K and her friends are wearing footie pajamas with Uggs and t-shirts.

K is also wearing her tiara. :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Audition #2

J had her second high school dance audition this morning. This one was at Laguardia School of the Arts. This is the school that the movie "Fame" was based on in 1980 - and again in 2009 (but the newer movie makes it more of a fictitious setting in NYC). It's extrememly prestigious, full of famous alum (Al Pacino and Jennifer Aniston went there and tons of others), and it's extrememly competitive. Over 10,000 kids try out and their acceptance rate is about 8%.  For dancers it's about 4%.

We woke up at 5:30am and were out of the house by 6:45am. We got there in about 15 minutes since B drove us right to the door. We waited briefly on an incredibly long line and then went in. Right away I saw the sign that said parents to the right, students to the left. Aaaak. I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet. Did she have her paperwork? Her snacks? Her water? Her ballet shoes? It didn't matter anymore. She blew me a kiss, waved goodbye and I told her to break a leg (then I re-thought that remark, lol). The parents (all of whom were feeling the effects of the abrupt send-off) took several escalators to the 5th-floor cafeteria, where we could have coffee, muffins, bagels, a welcoming speech from the parent coordinator, a Q& A session, and just...wait.

I brought a book, but ended up in excited conversations with several other parents. We all discussed the schools, the auditions, and the craziness of it all. A mom with a violin student from the upper east side was weighing her other schooling options. A mom and dad with a viola student had an older son already in the school, but were still nervous. They raved about the music program and said their son never stops talking about how great it is. A drama student's mom was also from Queens (like me) and looked so anxious as this was her only child. A friend of mine was also there. Her daughter was going for dance as well. We chatted for a long time and then turned to see the fine arts students (carrying huge portfolios) who just ended their auditions meet up with their parents. We saw the instrumentalists (carrying their instrument cases) also come in. It seemed that dance and drama took the longest time. My eyes were glued to the doorway. I couldn't wait to see her and hear all about it.

Finally, after over 2 hours, I saw J. She looked so calm, but as she got closer to me, her smile widened and she handed me the paper which said she has a callback audition in 2 weeks. WOW! J said about 6 kids got a callback sheet (out of the 25 in her group). Although it is possible to still make it into the school without a callback, the majority of those not called-back will not be accepted. If you watch So You Think You Can Dance auditions, I'm calling this the "Yes to choreography". She will take a more intense ballet class, a more intense modern class, perform her 1-minute solo piece, and be intensely judged. She can't wait. There isn't a bit of nervousness or anxiety in her at all. She's just loving the whole experience.

As we walked to the subway I looked around in awe. It's amazing enough that we are coming out of the Fame school - to top it off, right around the corner we were in front of

It was a gorgeously warm autumn day. The entire area was just breathtaking. I feel so grateful to live in this city of endless opportunities. There is NOTHING like NYC.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Peek Into Our Academic Morning

I love mornings that flow well, like today's did. After breakfast, J did 2 Life of Fred chapters. She does the math chapters independently and we do the "bridge" together (like 2-3 times a month). At the same time, W did lesson 10 in his Teaching Textbooks (Math 5). Today was all about estimating and rounding. He zipped through it in about 15 minutes. I love how this program keeps reviewing all the stuff from the previous lessons. After math I read a Walter de la Mare poem out loud. It was called "November" and we talked about how sad it sounded. Then the kids did some copywork. J wrote out "the Song of Hiawatha" by Longfellow and W copied all of Georgie Porgie from the Mother Goose book. He did the whole thing in cursive - in his notebook this time, not on the dry-erase shelf. Mother Goose is perfect for him since he knows the rhymes and says them in his head as he writes them out. It's really helping his reading (along with his penmanship and grammar).

We went right into LiveMocha and the kids felt like learning some French today. Je suis un garcon, tu es une fille. It was fun and I like how LiveMocha goes right from nouns to sentences and lets you make your own connections regarding the grammar rules. After French, we listened to "Autumn" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. W has been noticing Vivaldi's music wherever we go. He perks right up and says, "Hey, ma, that's Vivaldi!". We had it on the whole time we ate some snacks. Then J went to go read a chapter in Island of the Blue Dolphins. W and I read some Burges Animal Book and Understood Betsy. Everyone did brief, but fantastic narrations.

We were finished with everything by noon.

As for myself, I am getting organized. I rejoined Flylady to get back in good cleaning mode. I also started making dinner right in the early afternoon. I make the whole thing, then put it in corningware dishes and into the fridge. Then I stick it in the oven at 5:30pm (right before I leave for work) on 250 degrees so it's all hot by the time B gets home at 6. I just started doing this, so we'll see how well it goes over.

Monday, November 16, 2009


W got to be a part of a great new program at the Hall of Science. They are usually closed on Mondays, but opened today to give workshops to homeschooled kids! They had 3 classes - one for each age group (K-2nd, 3rd-5th, and 6th-8th grades). W's class was called The Eyes Have It and was all about 3D perception and optical illusions. We also watched another cow's eye dissection and all the kids got to just hang out and explore. W loved the new exhibit on sound. It will probably be there only for a couple more months. I'm glad we get to go back next month and do it again! It was amazing to have the whole place full of homeschoolers. It was such a huge difference between today and being there with all the schooled kids. It was so wonderfully quiet. The kids were respectful, well behaved, and really enjoyed the workshops.

Monday, November 09, 2009

So the audition went well. J was in the last group of kids, so she didn't get out of there until after 2pm. Six hours. She said it was great and the wait wasn't so bad. She was with a couple of friends and the time flew by. One down, 2 to go.

W took his first quiz. TT5 gives you a quiz after the first 7 lessons. W was so excited about it. He called B to tell him that he's taking his first quiz ever, lol. There were 24 math problems to do and he got only 1 wrong - and that's only because he rushed the answer. I was so proud of him. The first 7 lessons were:

1- Number patterns, even/odd
2- Place value to the hundred thousands
3- Writing numbers in words (and vice-versa) to the hundred thousands
4- Place value and writing numbers in words to the hundred millions
5- Greater than/Less than (large numbers)
6- Addition basics (sum, commutative property, addends, identity property)
7- Subtraction basics (difference, using addition to check answer)

He enjoys this program immensely. In other academic news, today's copywork was writing out a Christmas wish-list using a toy catalogue, and today's readings were Understood Betsy, The Little Duke, and Farmer Boy. His narrations just keep getting better and better.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Audition #1

This morning is J's first performing arts high school audition.

I didn't think I'd be as nervous for her as I am. I followed her around the house, just being there if she needed help getting ready, but she didn't. She looked beautiful in her leotard and tights with her hair perfectly slicked back and pinned a bun - and so grown up.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Lotsa Good Stuff

K had off today for Election Day. She met up with a couple of friends this morning and they headed into Manhattan to be in the audience for the Alexa Chung show on MTV. K loves that show and is excited to see it live. I saw her several times in the audience (having DVR'd the episode). She was in awe to see Lady Gaga and the cast of Glee (one of her favorite shows).

Halloween was fun this year. One of K's best friends is cousins with a celebrity singer (I promised I wouldn't mention names) and they hung out with him and his fiancee on Halloween. K met him before and he's really sweet. K's friend's mom was with them, too, trick-or-treating with another little cousin. He got recognized in the restaurant they stopped in and they were all given the royal treatment by the staff. K was loving it. Then they all went back to his house and the girls sang a few songs in his recording studio.

J had a sleepover the night before Halloween and she and her friend went out trick-or-treating with the little siblings. B and W met up with them and all ended up with a nice stash of candy.

W is loving his new math program. TT5 seems to be perfect for him. He's asking to do 1 or 2 lessons a day. He also just got a reading program called Hooked on Phonics Master Reader. It's a dvd program full of fun activities to help older children read better (ages 7-11). He loved it. The Ambleside readings are moving slowly. He can really only listen to 3 or 4 pages of something at a time, so it can take 2 weeks sometimes to get through 1 week of readings. It's ok, though. He's getting so much from these classic books, that I don't care how long we take reading them.