Friday, August 20, 2010

September's Almost Here

Can't wait for September to come - although this summer has been pretty awesome.

W is still having a blast with camp.  This week is called "Camping Week".  They've included so many crafts, recipes, activities, barbecues, and even marshmallow roasting.  Next week is called "Carnival Week".  It's the last week.  The whole week will have a carnival theme - and then they're having a real carnival on Friday.  I'm so pleased at the whole thing, how it was run, the incredible creativity involved, and the price was so reasonable.  I'm really going to try to continue keeping him on a busy schedule once camp is over.  He thrives on that.  So far we have 3 weekly group classes and 2 early days at the park lined up.  I'm pretty sure he'll be at the playground almost every day in the early evenings.  And I'm still looking for more things to do.  He is so not made to be sitting at a desk for 6 hours a day - which is another reason I love AO and Charlotte Mason.

Speaking of which, I ordered 10 more books for AO Year 3 from a used book site.  Each book was $3.50 and shipping is free.  I'm so excited to get this year school year started.  Yes, we have a bunch of Year 2 stuff to finish first, but hopefully we can knock that out in a month or 2.  I know W is going to enjoy this year a lot. 

J is out at her friend's summer house til Saturday.  They got there Wednesday and went to the Splish Splash water park with the development.  On Thursday she spent the day on the beach with all the kids out there.  She went on a speedboat and even successfully tried knee-boarding!  After the beach, the kids went in the pool, had dinner, then had fun at a teen bingo night.  I'm not sure what they're plans are for today, but I know they're getting back early-ish tomorrow.  J's dance team is performing at that St. Jude fundraiser.  Call time is 5pm and they probably won't be out of there til after 10pm.  I'm working, but B bought a ticket so he'll be staying there the whole time.

J's high school dance orientation is coming up at the end of the month.  There, she'll get her locker assignment, ID card, and learn what to expect and how to be prepared for her first day.  Once school starts, I know she'll have 2 ballet classes & 2 modern dance classes every day (4 periods = 3 hours).  And I'm not sure how these will be broken up, but she'll also have Dance Survival Skills (nutrition, anatomy, injuries), Math, Global, Science, English, & French.  And lunch is in there too, somewhere.  A regular day begins at 8:00am and ends at 4:09pm.  A letter we received stated that she'll be in one of the 2 "D" classes.  D class??!  I worried that she did badly on the placement test or that they looked down on homeschoolers.  I mean, I know she's smart enough for the "A" class - I'd even settle for the "B" class.   Then when I turned the letter over (yeah, I didn't know there was a back page until I looked at it again a few days later.  Sigh), and I saw that "D" stood for "dance". 

K is still in training at her new job.  She already got a tentative fall schedule, so it looks like she's hired.  She loves it.  She gets to make juices and smoothies all day and gets a free meal too.  The menu is full of healthy organic wraps and bowls with brown rice and lots of greens.  I'm loving that K is not only eating healthier there, she's learning how to live that way all the time.  So, the other day a girl from one of her favorite TV shows walked in to the store.  K was so excited.  She talked to her for a while and the girl said she'd definitely be back often since she only lives a few blocks away.  K got the ok from her to keep the receipt with her name on it, LOL.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fall Schedule

So, here's what I'm looking at this fall as a schedule for us.  I'm a list and schedule maker and I like having a guideline to use as a goal.  We probably won't stick with this 100% ( or maybe even 75%, lol) but it's nice to have something to try and keep me on track:

6am    A,B, & J up and dressed
6:30    Drive B & J to the train
7am    K & W up and dressed
7:30   Drive K to school
8am    Breakfast
8:30    AM Routine (Laundry, Beds, Dishes, Bathroom)
           Mon:  Dust, Windex, Wipe ceiling fans
           Tue:   Sweep, Mop bedrooms
           Wed:  Wipe moldings, doors, baseboards
           Thu:   Clean out fridge, Scrub tub
           Fri:     Sweep & Mop living room and stairs
9:30    W - Academics
           Mon:  AO Reading, Spelling, Writing Strands, Read to me, Poetry, Copywork, AO Reading
           Tue:  AO Reading, Spelling, Dictation, Read to me, Poetry, Copywork, AO Reading  
           Wed:  AO Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Read to me, Poetry, Copywork, AO Reading
           Thu:  AO Reading, Read to me, Poetry, Sign Language, AO Reading
           Fri:  AO Reading, Spelling, Writing Strands, Read to me, Poetry, Copywork, AO Reading
           Mon:  Math
           Tue:  Math
           Wed:  Math
           Thu:  Leave for Homeschool group class
           Fri:  Math
           Mon:  AO Reading
           Tue:  AO Reading, Latin
           Wed:  AO Reading, Latin
           Thu:  Traveling to class
           Fri:  Snack
           Mon:  Nature Study
           Tue:  Artist Study, Typing
           Wed:  Composer Study, Greek Alphabet
           Thu:  Quick lunch before class
           Fri:  Leave for science class
           Mon:  Lunch
           Tue:  Lunch
           Wed:  Lunch
           Thu:  Homeschool class
           Fri:  Science class
           Mon:  Track and bike riding
           Tue:  Track and bike riding
            Wed:  Leave for science co-op
            Wed:  Science co-op
            Thu:  Lunch
            Fri: Lunch
            Tue:  Food Shopping
            Fri:  Food Shopping
            Mon:  Leave for work
            Wed:  Leave for work
            Thu:  J - Dance
            Fri:  Drive K to work
            Tue:  J - Dance
            Thu:  Pick B up at train & drive to work
            Fri:  Drive W to scouts
            Mon: Work
            Wed:  Work
            Thu:  Work
            Fri:  Scouts
10:30   PM Routine (Clear table, wash dishes, sweep/swiffer kitchen, clean sink, 10 min pickup)
11pm   Bed

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Happy Birthday

J turned 14 years old yesterday!  What an amazing day.  It started the night before when she asked if she could open her present at midnight.  We were so excited  about her gift that I ran and got it from the car.  We got J an Asus netbook (highest rated one on consumer reports).  She was almost in tears.  I found a netbook to be way better for her than a laptop right now.  It does almost all the same things anyway - it's just smaller and doesn't have a disk drive (which doesn't matter, because you can download anything with just a serial number now).  She's hardly put it down since.  It has a built-in webcam, is surprisingly quick to load, browse, and watch videos, and I've already downloaded a security suite. It's perfect to do schoolwork on with excellent portability and battery life.  It's a beautiful matte (no fingerprints!) burgundy color and I threw in a soft case for it.  (We gave K the same one - as an early birthday present - since she'll need it when school starts.  She was even closer to tears than J was since she's been asking for one for 2 years.  The girls were both so happy for each other and spent the next 2 hours - yes til 2am - testing out all the features together).  So in case any of you out there have kids who are constantly asking for a laptop, check out a netbook -also knows as a "mini" - instead. :) 

So, one of J's best friends put together a little surprise party at her house yesterday afternoon.  My job was just to get J there by 1.  6 friends were there - which is pretty good since it came together in less than a week, lol.  J was really surprised.  The house had purple birthday decorations all over and the kids had pizza, J's favorite snacks, and a Carvel cake. 

In the evening, the whole family went out for dinner.  My parents and sis and B's aunt (MIL is on vacation) joined us.  It was so nice.  We did cake and candles there.  Mom gave her a CHI hair straightener and a few Capezio leotards for school.  I still have to buy a bunch more leotards and tights for school.  K needs uniform shirts and pants and I still haven't gotten the back to school supplies yet.  School starts in a month.  Yikes that went fast.  I better get moving with that.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


I'm getting everything together for the new school year.  I have just about everything for AO Yr 3 - W's 4th grade.  I have one more book order to make and the total for that is about $65.  I cleaned out my whole china cabinet and the bookshelf in my bedroom.  I have 4 knee-high piles of books to give away.  I have to get them out of here.  I hold on to books way too long.  I'm just going to post it to my homeschool groups that they will be laid out tomorrow on my porch and they're free for the taking.

My china cabinet has been the best place for me to keep all my homeschooling stuff.  I got rid of the good dishes long ago (good dishes? hahaha) and replaced them with a huge array of novels, workbooks, reference books, and supplies.   Here's what it looks like with the doors open.  In the second picture, I labeled what's what:

This is in my dining room.  Since W does everything either on the couch or at the dining room table, This is also a prime location.  Going through every bookshelf in the apartment (there are 4 more, lol), I found I have almost all the books for AO Years 4-6 as well (thankfully, many books carry over to the next year). 

W has camp until August 27th.  It's so much fun for him that I'm ok with putting off what we didn't finish from AO Yr 2.  Actually, we are doing some stuff on the weekends, but I'm going to try and squeeze in more wherever I can.  Last night he read to me - the first few pages of Superfudge.   This book is right on grade level for him and he breezed through it.  I was stunned.  He hasn't done any formal reading with me all summer and he just read better than he has all year.  He finds the book really funny so far, so we'll keep with it...twaddle or not, lol.   I say it's because he's been doing a lot of read-to-me all year from the AO living books.  And of course my flawless collaboration of flash cards, phonics workbooks, and the HoP Master Reader.  But who knows.  Maybe it all just clicked for him.   The following dyslexia symptoms were in full bloom at the start of the last school year. 
  • can read a word on one page, but won't recognize it on the next page.
  • knows phonics, but can't—or won't—sound out an unknown word.
  • slow, labored, inaccurate reading of single words in isolation (when there is no story line or pictures to provide clues)
      When they misread, they often say a word that has the same first and last letters, and the same shape, such as form-from or trial-trail. they may insert or leave out letters, such as could-cold or star-stair. they may say a word that has the same letters, but in a different sequence, such as who-how, lots-lost, saw-was, or girl-grill.
  • when reading aloud, reads in a slow, choppy cadence (not in smooth phrases), and often ignores punctuation
  • becomes visibly tired after reading for only a short time
  • reading comprehension may be low due to spending so much energy trying to figure out the words. Listening comprehension is usually significantly higher than reading comprehension.
  • directionality confusion shows up when reading and when writing
      b-d confusion is a classic warning sign. One points to the left, the other points to the right, and they are left-right confused. b-p, n-u, or m-w confusion. One points up, the other points down. That's also directionality confusion.
  • Substitutes similar-looking words, even if it changes the meaning of the sentence, such as sunrise for surprise, house for horse, while for white, wanting for walking
  • When reading a story or a sentence, substitutes a word that means the same thing but doesn't look at all similar, such as trip for journey, fast for speed, or cry for weep
  • Misreads, omits, or even adds small function words, such as an, a, from, the, to, were, are, of
  • Omits or changes suffixes, saying need for needed, talks for talking, or late for lately.
  • Their spelling is far worse than their reading. They sometimes flunk inventive spelling. They have extreme difficulty with vowel sounds, and often leave them out.
  • With enormous effort, they may be able to "memorize" Monday's spelling list long enough to pass Friday's spelling test, but they can't spell those very same words two hours later when writing those words in sentences.
  • Continually misspells high frequency sight words (nonphonetic but very common words) such as they, what, where, does and because—despite extensive practice.
  • Misspells even when copying something from the board or from a book.
  • Written work shows signs of spelling uncertainty--numerous erasures, cross outs, etc.
He still exhibits all of these - but now it's way less frequently.  He has learned to stop and catch himself most of the time.  This does slows him down a smidge, but he seems to have full comprehension.  Interestingly enough, he has no dyslexia symptoms in the other categories listed on the site:  handwriting, directionality, sequencing steps in a task, rote memory, telling time, math, or attention span.  Only reading and spelling.  The site lists some particular strengths in dyslexic people and W has all of these:
  • artistic skill
  • athletic ability
  • musical ability
  • mechanical ability
  • people skills
  • 3-D visual-spatial skills
  • vivid imagination
  • intuition
  • creative, global thinking
  • curiosity   
Well, the main thing is that each month he is becoming a better reader.  It's good that he still loves AO, because I really love it, too.  I know it has helped W not only with his reading, but it has really fostered his love of learning and boosted his confidence in himself. 

Monday, August 02, 2010

Dance Challenge & K's New Job

Today is K's first day at her new job!  It's at a wonderful juice bar/health food place about 10 minutes away.  She'd frequented the one near her school, fell in love with the place, and loved most of the menu - including several smoothies and lunch plates.  I'll admit, the food is awesome.  Another one just opened closer to home.  She'll have paid training all summer, then work 4 or 5 days a week after school and on weekends.  She gets free meals and drinks - and tips!  She's ready to start saving for a car.

Also, we just got back from a fabulous 3 days in NJ at an Ultimate Dance Challenge.  J took tons of master classes including:  technique, jazz, lyrical/contemporary, afro-fusion, musical theater, floor barre/ballet, & hip-hop.  Thursday was a mini-competition.  There were 10 studios there bringing about 35 numbers.  J's team brought 4 group numbers (no solos or duets).  One of their groups won overall high score of the day!  It was great!  This number started with about 12 kids (both the older and younger teams) and the whole thing had to be restaged for the 5 kids on J's (younger) team.  They pulled it off with only about 4 rehearsals.  I love that this group works so well together (they've been a team since they were 7).   Then only 5 groups were chosen for Friday's dance-off challenge.  TWO of J's group numbers were chosen!  Out of the 5, they ended up taking 2nd and 4th place.  I was so proud of them.

The hotel was nice.  W spent most of the time in the outdoor pool (thankfully we had great weather).  K brought one of her best friends and my mom joined us as well!  Since we didn't do a Nationals this summer, the 3-day dance challenge was a perfect substitute. 

The rest of  J's August consists of:   her birthday, an orthodontist appointment, a St. Jude's fundraiser, a bunch of new choreography, and her dance orientation for high school.  W has camp til Aug 20th then we'll be finishing up any leftover 3rd grade stuff.   And K will be working and getting ready for her senior year.

Life is so good.