Saturday, February 28, 2009

Queens Historical Society

Yesterday, W went to a homeschool group class at the Queens Historical Society in Flushing. They discussed the Underground Railroad and made paper quilts. After the class they took a tour of the rooms. The house is almost 250 years old. I found it fascinating to learn about the history of Queens as I walked around the place. I met several homeschooling families I hadn't seen before and it was great. It's a wonderful feeling to have conversations with people who are on the same page as you. After the class and tour, many of the kids went right over to the playground next door. All the kids were between the ages of 5 and 9 and W could have stayed there all day.

We left around 4 to go pick up J at her friend's house. She had gone to a different homeschool group's event out in Long Island. This was a drama class led by her friend, A. J enjoyed it a lot and loved seeing all her friends from the big homeschool dance the week before. We haven't done much with the Long Island group lately because, well, everything is in Long Island. I'm burnt out with the 30-45 minute drives. But since J can catch a ride out there, she can go to more things with them. So, I picked her up and took her to dance class. She's finishing up a new group number that will go out to competition. During her class, W had cub scouts, so I dropped him off next. Yay that his meetings are right around the corner. I then got to read and relax for an hour.

At home, the contractor and renovation guy are back. It seems that one of the electrical outlets in the kitchen has to be moved. AAARRGGHH! So after the whole kitchen was done, more holes are being opened and more plaster and dirty friggin fingerprints are covering my freshly-painted walls.

J is singing tomorrow for a mini-recital show. My mom and sisters are coming in from LI to watch. I found out I'm allowed to videotape, so I'm thrilled to use my new camera I got for Christmas. I'll see how that goes and if I can post a video on here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hall of Science

K was off all last week and it was so nice having her home. We hung out so much that week. J had the week off from dance (I don't think that's EVER happened!). Since her school friends were off, too, she got to spend a lot of time with them (at their houses, the mall, etc). W played with friends at the park a lot and started getting more into playing chess. He's really good at it now. I'm going to see if I can find an afternoon chess club for him.

Yesterday W participated in a great class at the NY Hall of Science. It was called "Diversity of Life" and was geared toward 3rd-6th graders. They used microscopes, looked at one-celled animals, did a yeast experiment, and discussed living vs. non-living things. He loved it. While he did that, J watched a demonstration on math (it was actually very interesting!) and one on the dissection of a cow's eye (again). We stayed at the HoS for a couple more hours afterward. W practiced his pitching again as well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekend Fun

The weekend was great. On Friday, W had cub scouts. He missed the blue and gold dinner last week since we were at J's dance competition, so he's slotted to get a couple more patches. He's starting work soon on his pinewood derby car. B is so thrilled about that (B still has his, lol). After the meeting, we went to the bank and the kids deposited their "Pennies for Peace" into the coin counter machine. Each boy got a chance to empty a bucketful - twice. They ended up with over $100 in pennies. The bank manager gave the kids some candy, a coloring book, and crayons to take home.

On Saturday, B and the kids surprised me with lots of chocolate and cards. I got B a bag of 70% pure cocoa dark chocolate squares and the kids got a heart-shaped box of assorted stuff. A boy that K sorta kinda likes ("but is sooo cute") came by to give her a single red rose for Valentines Day. She's on the lookout for someone new since the other dude didn't work out. She enjoys the attention and I'm watching like a hawk, lol.

J went out with her friend, S, to a concert. This one was for a ('nother obscure) boy band called PushPlay. It was at the Crazy Donkey out in Farmingdale and she had a blast. They went with her friend's mom and it was pretty family-friendly. They also had passes for the meet-and-greet afterwards. J got autographs from all the band members, but unfortunately they weren't letting cameras in.

S came over the next day and we all went out to the movies to see Coraline. I loved it. It was scary-ish and in 3-D. $100 later, we got home and S slept over. today we relaxed. The girls hung out, K was at a friend's house, and B took W to the park. This week is President's Week - which used to be called Energy Conservation Week when I was a kid - and K is off. My younger 2 will continue with the AO schedule this week. We've fallen a bit behind again, but not by much. J has a standardized test to take in a couple of months and she wants to hone the math skills. W's new favorite show is the Electric Company (my fave back in the day as well) and I can already see the impact it's had on his reading. The show rocks. Too bad it's only on once a week. We're DVR'ing it though.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Playground Politics

I was in awe of my son yesterday at the playground. We got there around 3, when it's packed with kids. Within seconds, W had 3 kids with him by the swings. Then a new kid comes by and starts bullying a smaller child who looked about 5 y/o. W gets off his swing, pushed the bully off the smaller kid, then gets back on the swing. A few minutes later, the smaller kid is on the swing and the bully is now back shaking the swing telling the kid to get off. The kid didn't move, so the bully kicked him in the head. W went right over, grabbed the bully by the shoulders, threw him back a few feet, and told him to leave the kid alone. W and his friends soon left the swing area exchanging words with the bully for the next 15 minutes. The bully's older brother eventually showed up and they told him what happened. We didn't see the bully again after that. I purposely stayed out of it (and back about 25 feet), but kept a very watchful eye on what was going on. W came over once to me and said, "Mom, it's OK, I can handle it". I trusted he could.

So now W has about 7 boys and 2 girls (all look from 7 to 10 y/o) and they start up a game of cops and robbers. W is robber captain for the first round, and when other kids are the captain, W is picked first to be on the team. That alone got me choked up a bit. The game is so fun to watch. The kids are fair, supportive, and couldn't care less that all 10 of them represent 10 different countries. After a while I see the bully returning. I got a bit nervous but then the kid turned and left again. I see W look at his friends, say something, get nods from them, and then dart after the bully and disappear behind the park building. My first thought was that this was going to be trouble, but then I see W and the bully walking together back to the group of kids. W then says, "Hey guys, we got another player!".

I was like WHAT?!?!! He canNOT be serious!

I found out later that the bully had walked over to apologize, turned around and walked away again. That's when W decided he was OK after all and ran over to invite him to join the game. The game went on beautifully for another hour til it started getting darker and colder out and kids started heading home. I learned a lot from my son that day. He taught me about forgiveness and acceptance and living in the moment, all through the best game of cops and robbers I ever saw.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


The competition was fun this weekend. J's 3 numbers scored well, but this comp was only an "optional" and mainly for more practice. J had a blast with all her friends. Nothing beats a hotel night or 2 with 10 of your best friends in the whole world. They stick together like glue, these kids, and watch out for each other. B and I got to relax, and K and W loved being with their dance friends there. The pool was great both days, the food was really good, and the venue in the grand ballroom on the hotel's main level was perfect (no travelling!). So, a couple of thumbs up for our first away-competition of the season!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Museum of the City of New York

We went to the Museum of the City of New York today. The homeschool group did an early tour, but it was way too early for us. I met up with a few friends around noon and the kids met some new friends who explored the museum with us. It's a nice place with come cool stuff. The kids loved the 1930s toy display. Wooden hoops, metal roller skates, and homemade go-carts were things I remember playing with in the 1970s, actually, lol. The Broadway costume section was cool. They had outfits from Rent, Beauty and the Beast, and Seussical. J just had to get a picture with the finale hat from A Chorus Line. Some rooms had huge interactive flat computer screens on the wall where the kids could use the "Activepen" to move the cursor. Yeah, I want one of those at home. We also saw a fantastic movie about the history of NYC from 1609 to now. What a history the city has: the Dutch, the English, the immigrants, Ellis Island, the skyscrapers, the finance, the shopping, the fashion, the rich, the poor, the boroughs, the diversity, the place where so much began. We all loved it.

After that, J was dying to wander around Times Square again. She wanted to see the 2009 ball that dropped on New Year's Eve. It was sorta, kinda on the way home, so we went. The kids took a spontaneous picture with Elmo out on the sidewalk and J did something hysterically funny behind a man who was being interviewed for some TV station. We decided to head into the big Toys R Us again for a little while. They played with some electronics, some moon sand, went in the big Barbie Dreamhouse, checked out some of the new Lego creations, watched the animatronic life-sized T-Rex, and got a Super Elastic Bubble Plastic balloon/ball to take home. This toxic goop from the 70s and 80s you stick on the end of a straw and blow to inflate has been revamped. No more lead and acetone, they say. Great. No wonder my generation is missing more brain cells than others.

At the train station in Times Square, J's turnstile locked, causing her to lose her last ride allowed on her metrocard for the day. W and I both had 1 ride left we needed for ourselves and there was no token booth. She asked me what the heck just happened and I was wondering myself, when out of nowhere a woman who was coming out told us not to worry and swiped her card for J to go through. I don't care what anybody says, NYC is the most wonderful place in the world.

We're off to another dance competition tomorrow! This is a nice, easy one - only 3 numbers going out. I like the huge hotel (same one we did last year) and the kids love the pool. We already have the bags and costume trunk packed, and daiquiris ready to blend .

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Into the Groove

Now that it's February, I can say we've got our academic mornings in a nice groove. Their schedule each day looks like this:

1. Independent reading
2. Copywork (Poetry)
3. Math (workbook or program)
4. 2 language arts workbooks (3-4 pgs total)
5. 2 or 3 AO readings with narrations (oral and/or written)
6. 1 project (timeline, science, art, etc)
7. 1 weekly subject (composer, artist, nature, Latin, dictation, spelling)

This all takes no more than 2 hours to complete. We also fit in the AO "free readings", trips, homeschool group events, and other activities when we feel like it. W is loving the free Life Science download we found last week. He reads the chapter to me (his idea) and he gets to answer questions, learn new words, and do a project every week. Next to math, that has become his favorite thing to do. And J just got a new penpal - a 12y/o from Texas who is also an avid dancer.

J went to the movies with her friend, S, the other night and I spent that hour-and-a-half in the nearby bookstore. I got whatever AO books we were missing - I figured I might as well since it seems this curriculum is a keeper, plus a few more fun-looking workbooks. With my discount I spent a total of $72. K came with me and we had fun walking around together after that. On Saturday we all got to relax a bit. B put up a couple of our new window blinds and put together our new dining room table. I went to work in the afternoon. Today B took the kids out to my mom's house and I stayed home to get some more cleaning done. I'm still trying to get things organized from the renovation. We're just about done with that, btw. K still needs her new ceiling fan put up, and we need still need handles put on our kitchen cabinets, and a big mirror and pot rack hung.

J's next dance competition is next weekend. It's our first hotel-stay this year and the kids can't wait. The venue is IN our hotel, so that makes things way easy. This is an optional competition, so only 3 of her numbers are going out: her new dance solo and 2 of her new group numbers (tap and contemporary). All the kids will most likely spend much of the time in the pool. I love competition season.