Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Museum During the Holiday Season...

...What was I thinking, lol?

J, W, and I went to the American Museum of Natural History yesterday. My cousins from Montana flew in and we agreed to meet there. I haven't see them in about 12 years, and I'd never met their kids (11yog and 7yob) so it was perfect. The kids and I arrived at the 86th Street stop on the C train and came out into a line that went all the way up the ramp and around the block. Guards were shuffling people to the end of the line. So, we walked to the end with both kids shaking their heads wondering if this was real, lol (we've been here a bunch of time and there's never a line).

Then I heard a woman apeaking to another guard at the end of the line about memberships. Of course I ran over and said, WHAT? WHAT? WWHAT ABOUT MEMBERSHIPS? I have a corporate membership to all museums and I figured it would get us in for free, but what I didn't realize was that we could CUT THE WHOLE LINE! He told us to go back down to the entrance. The first guard back at the bottom of the ramp asked to see my card. I showed him my work ID. Then he slid open this chain-link metal barrier and we walked right in. Let me tell you - J and W were VERY impressed and proud of mommmy that day, LOL!

So we go in and The woman at the desk says I get "comp" tickets for myself and 5 guests. I didn't know I could get that many people in. I thought about my cousins on one of the lines in the museum somewhere. There were 4 of them. I counted out loud and said oh well, there's 4 of them and 3 of us. The woman looked at me and said, "oh, don't worry, I'll give you an extra one". What??!! How lucky was this day?

I found my cousins (which was a miracle, since there are 3 floors with entrances and lines out the door), waved them off the line, exchanged big hugs, handed them their 4 tix, and we were ready to explore.

I love that museum and try to get there at least once a year. My cousins said they were excited to be here since they'd seen the Night at the Museum movie (the kids also read The Cricket in Times Square. Guess where they were going the next day, lol). The museum was packed. I'd never seen it like that. It was still fun, though and we visited 3 out of 4 floors. After 4 hours we had sore feet and were hungry. We went went right out the front entrance and decided to get some hotdogs from the street guy. Mmmmm. They're so good. The Montanans raved about it as well.

They continued on to Central Park and we got back on the train to go home. I dropped J off at her friend's house (she went to the movies with a bunch of kids that night) and W, B, and I relaxed at home. K was out with friends as well from earlier in the day. I have work tonight and we're going to my mom's on New Year's Eve tomorrow. I'm so excited for the new year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Here's what our weekly academic schedule looks like. The CM focus on science, art, literature, and history meshes really well with the types of classes and trips we often do - and we have so many of them on the agenda over the next 3 months. Using almost 100% kid input, this schedule includes only what we love and it fits very nicely into our busy lives. The kids are happy and I almost feel guilty at how enjoyable and easy this is...


Reading - lit (J)
Math (J,W)
Poetry (J,W)
Copywork (J,W)
2-3 AO Readings (W)
Free Reading (W)
Nature Study (J,W)

Reading - sci (J)
Math (J)
Master Reader (W)
Poetry (J,W)
Copywork (J,W)
Artist Study (J,W)
2-3 AO Readings (W)
Free Reading (W)

Reading - lit (J)
Math (J,W)
Poetry (J,W)
Copywork (J,W)
French (J,W)
Composer Study (J,W)
2-3 AO Readings (W)
Free Reading (W)

Reading - hist (J)
Math (J)
Master Reader (W)
Maps/Geog (W)
Poetry (J,W)
Copywork (J,W)
Timeline (W)
2-3 AO Readings (W)
Free Reading (W)

Reading - lit (J)
Math (J,W)
Sci Ess. (W)
Poetry (J,W)
Copywork (J,W)
Science Exp or Craft Project (J,W)
2-3 AO Readings (W)
Free Reading (W)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

As usual, my favorite holiday was wonderful. We stayed over my mom's house on Christmas Eve - B made crabmeat-stuffed flounder, fried shrimp, and pasta with red clam sauce. In the morning we had bacon, eggs, and bagels while opening gifts. The kids did well again. They got lots of electronic devices and the younger 2 got new bikes. I got new sneakers and a 23" computer monitor (woohoo). Christmas afternoon, we had a lasagna and fresh ham dinner at mom's and then headed out to B's mom's house. It was great seeing a bunch of B's extended family - sister, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts, cousins, etc. Dessert there was very Italian and of course, homemade: struffoli, zeppoli, cannoli, and a nice assortment of cookies.

K is off all week and my cousins from Montana are coming to NY for a few days. I can't wait to see them. I'll be their tour guide around Manhattan on Tuesday, but other than that, nothing is planned for the week. I'll probably catch up on my cleaning and organizing. I'm excited for a new year. I have so many new plans and goals.

Monday, December 21, 2009

5 Years!

Today is my FIVE year blogging anniversary.

It's amazing how far we've come since that first post in 2004.

I want to thank all of you out there for your continued encouragement and support that always keep me going.

Here's to another 5 years!

Friday, December 18, 2009


Another great Central Park Zoo class this morning. This one was all about primates. The kids started out together at tables in a classroom. The instructor had a powerpoint slide show on covering various primate facts. She gave the kids activities to do to demonstrate the reasons behind having opposable thumbs, depth perception, and unpadded hands. They had to try and tie a shoelace and button a button without using their thumbs, cover one eye and try to grab a moving object, and try to feel what was in a covered bucket while wearing a garden glove. We learned about and pet a chinchilla (they're from the rodent family) and discussed how it's different from primates. Then we all went around the zoo to see lemurs and snow monkeys - the kids checked off the various primate behaviors on their own ethograms. W really enjoyed it and J helped the kids with their activities. It was cold today, but bearable.

The subway home was warm and quick. We got home early. J went out with friends to the movies and W had his cub scout Christmas party and awards ceremony.
K went to Rockefeller Center to see the big Christmas tree with a bunch of her friends.

Callback #2

J received this letter in the mail today. She got a callback for PPAS (Professional Performing Arts School)! This was from the audition that took place at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. This is another great performing arts school. 10% of the school consists of professional working actors. So, kids who are currently on Broadway, filming movies in NYC, or do a tv series here would more than likely go to this school.

The sucky thing about choosing a NYC high school is that even if you get selected for every performing arts school you audition for, the main school board computer only matches you to your first choice. You never even know if you were accepted anywhere else (except for LaGuardia, which is in its own category). Well, J has her heart set on only one school. February cannot get here fast enough. Here's a couple of NYT articles...

NYT - Auditioning Their Hearts Out for High School

Firm Resolve Hides Jangled Nerves (J and I were there at this one)

Monday, December 14, 2009


W has been voluntarily reading lots of poetry lately. Now that his reading is more smooth and quick, he can enjoy (and "get") the rhymes, humor, and wittiness of poems on his own rather than with mom reading them to him. A light has been slowly turning on and getting brighter in his world and it's awesome to watch. There are still many signs of his mild dyslexia (word/letter/number reversal, sounding out is the last resort, substitution of similar-looking words, omitting small function words like a, the, of, etc). As long as he takes his time and really focuses, I bet no one would even notice if listening to him read aloud. He now reads at an even pace with good inflection. He pays attention to the punctuation and has full comprehension and retention (LOL - say that sentence 5x fast). This is an incredible improvement since August. Even though he could read and made steady improvements, he would get sad and frustrated. Once we started playing the flash card (phonics & sight words) games, using the dry-erase shelf, and committing fully to the AmOn2 schedule with the narrations, copywork, and all those great books (that he would follow along reading with me), it was like magic happened. We also use the HoP Master Reader program once or twice a week and that's been helpful as well. He is so proud of himself and reads more than ever now.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Week...

K ordered her Junior school pictures and her high school ring, went to a Sweet 16 at a loft in Manhattan, and went out to lunch (with her new crush).

J went to tons of dance classes (ballet, musical theater, tap, hip-hop, and contemporary), slept over a friend's house, did a dance workshop with Ryan Kasprzak (from SYTYCD) and 5 of her friends, and went to a birthday party.

W went to a class at the Hall of Science, the West Village game place, theater class, & CCD.

B booked another gig for his band in Manhattan. I finished 75% of the Christmas shopping and got a raise at work!

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Game Time Again

Another game day today down in the West Village. After a quick train ride (less than 30 minutes), W and I enjoyed a few hours of fun with the homeschool group. Pool, ping pong, foosball, shuffleboard, and chess kept W busy for close to 3 hours. I played some pool, but had lots of fun chatting with a bunch of moms and meeting new people. J had slept over a friend's house last night and decided to spend today with her instead of coming with us. She'll be there next week, though.

We got back to Queens by 3:15pm. I picked up J and her friend, brought them to dance, came home, brought W to his theater class by 5:30 and tonight after dinner, we're all going to decorate our Christmas tree. This is the week my new work hours changed, so I now have Tuesdays off.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Science Detectives

Today at the NY Hall of Science, W's class was all about being a science detective. They learned all about fingerprints - what designs they can have, how to lift them off a surface, and even took their own prints to look at. They learned about hair samples and chromatography. They talked about different ways to make coded messages and were given worksheets to decode using a double-wheel shaped decoder. They all received another gorgeous personalized completion certificate as well. Before the class W ran around the lower exhibit area with his friend C and then sat to watch a "Video Microscope" demonstration. There were many homeschool families there and again, it was such a pleasure to have the whole place to ourselves. When the kids class was about to begin, the loudspeaker announced, "Attention homeschool families...". It's so great that homeschooling is now more culturally recognized (not just legally recognized) and accepted as a worthy educational option. I'm so glad I'm a part of the transition.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Audition #3 and LaG Callback

J did her final high school audition this morning. This one was for the Professional Performing Arts School. The dance audition was held at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. This is also where the current students have their dance classes every day from 1:00 to 4:30. We got up around 6:30am and drove there in about 15 minutes. All the kids got a number to pin to their leotards and thankfully J was in the first group of kids. Each group had about 25 kids and there were 8 groups. There are only 26 spots for incoming dance freshman. I stayed in the waiting area chatting it up with another mom. J was done by 10am. She said there were 2 intense classes (ballet and modern) and the director asked them each a question. Callbacks are mailed to the kids in January. It was fun, she said, and then we were off to LaGuardia.

It was only 10 and J's callback was for 1pm, so we had 3 hours to kill. We had coffee and bagels at Dunkin Donuts, stopped in a couple of stores, and still made the 11 block walk to LaG by 10:45. We went in, went up to the cafeteria, and met up with some dance moms from J's studio who had their first auditions there at 8am (it goes by last name and all 4 of J's friends are at the other end of the alphabet, lol). Finally at 12:30 (which took forever to come), J went up to the dance room. This time she didn't return until 4pm. She said it was harder than the first audition. She also did her 1-minute solo piece she's been working on since October. It was nervewracking having to perform in front of the 20 other callbacks, but she gave it her all.

Now we wait 2-3 months. Then we'll know which high school J will be going to.

We got right on the train down the block and were back in Queens by 4:45. B and W met us at the station. I jumped in the driver's seat, dropped off the family, and zipped over to work by 5:30pm. By the time I got home at 10pm (after picking up K at her friend's house) I was truly exhausted. I am running on fumes at the moment and I'm about to fall

Saturday, December 05, 2009



Not only has NYC been voted the safest, friendliest, pet-friendliest, most exciting city with the best restaurants and cultural experiences, but now...



Friday, December 04, 2009

December in NYC

This morning W had a Zoo School class at the Central Park Zoo. It was a nice day and the subway took about 12 minutes. I always overestimate how much time it will take, so we were there 45 minutes early, lol. These classes at the zoo are so wonderful. The staff, the exhibits, and the topics are always great. W was in the 7-10 year-old group and they learned all about "Earth's Biodiversity". They spent part of their time in a classroom of sorts and the rest of the time in the zoo's Rainforest. We parents met up with the kids there as they were scrambling around trying to find examples of different rodents, birds, frogs, and reptiles throughout the rainforest to write down on their worksheets. In the rainforest area, you get to walk around among all the animals and birds. It does make a difference seeing them without glass separating them from you.

After the class, we decided to wander around Midtown for a bit. It is full-on tourist season here in NYC and such a fun time of year. Our first stop was F.A.O. Schwarz, that big toy store on 58th Street. The toy soldiers stand outside greeting all the guests and taking pictures with them. Inside, the kids got to be a part of a bunch of toy demonstrations and a magic show. They change things aroung every year and there were a lot of areas we hadn't see before like New Moon, Harry Potter, and Muppets.

We also decided to meet B at work, so on the way was Rockefeller Center and the big NYC Christmas Tree. It was just lit this week. We grabbed some hot dogs and Gatorades on the way over. After a few pics of the tree, the kids spent the next 1/2 hour in Nintendo World. In order these are: Cartier's, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the tree at Rockefeller Center, and Nintendo World. Click on some to make them bigger.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Game Time

The kids and I went to this fantastic place in the West Village yesterday with the homeschool group. It was an incredibly huge space with so much for the kids to do. There were about 10 pool tables, 3 ping-pong tables, 3 table shuffleboard games, foosball, and tons of tables for chess and scrabble. W tried just about everything and had so much fun. Many of his friends were there and he also met a few new kids. J was so happy to see a good number of kids her age there. She spent the majority of the time playing pool with new friends.

It's all laid out using space really efficiently. There was a huge bar being tended by some awesome staff and lights are kept real low which just added to the whole NYC feel to it. There must have been about 50 of us there and it wasn't crowded at all. I love that they opened the place to homeschoolers before-hours. The owners are actually excited to have us there! The best part is that it was only a 20-minute subway ride away - oh, and the West Village is beautiful. It's mainly residential with tons of small restaurants. Real bohemian - a haven for artists, musicians, and writers. The kids and I are really looking forward to next time.