Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Six years ago today I wrote my first blog post. 

Can't believe J was only 8 then.  K was 11.  W was 3. 

We've come a helluva long way. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010


We are having a fantastic December.  W is getting so much reading, writing, and math done.  He decided that he wanted to try Spanish again, so while at Costco last week I found this knock-off, Rosetta-Stone-like program on sale for $18.  It comes with a bunch of CD Roms and you can record yourself saying the words.  It's fun and he likes it so far.   We're half-way through TT5 math now - right on track to finish it by the end of 4th grade in June (then we're doing TT7 from the beginning of 5th grade to the end of 6th grade).  I find that it's best for us to stretch out the math.  W retains it better that way as he isn't inundated with too many new math concepts each month.  We do math 3-4 times a week (sometimes once or twice a week - December slows us down a bit, lol).  The schedule that W made has been working well - actually better than anything I came up with. 

W had a party and awards ceremony at Cub Scouts this month, too.   He was presented with a bunch of patches and badges he's earned over the last half-year.   In addition to the patches in the picture below, his 4 activity badges were:  Citizen, Readyman, Outdoorsman, & Artist badges.  He got a patch, pocketknife pledge card, and badge for the Whittling Chip.  The badge states that W "has earned the right to carry a pocketknife to designated Cub Scout functions", because he demonstrated knowledge and skill in its use and completed the safety requirements and promises to abide by the Knives Are Not Toys guidelines.  He's proud of that one the most, I think.  We also got our Pinewood Derby car to build for the big race in a few months.   This is such a wonderful pack and troop of scouts.   

W's New Cub Scout Patches

We have also been going to the pool hall in the West Village every week.  I'm so glad it's that time of year again!  For a few hours W gets to play games with friends and moms get to relax and chat and listen to some good jazz music - usually being played by various bands who use the space to rehearse.  It's a dark, gritty, oh-so-cool atmosphere that just drips the essence of New York City out of its walls.  W and I really look forward to this every week.

W and Friend Playing Pool

As I mention every year, NYC is the most incredible place to be at Christmastime.  The kids and I decided to walk around the mall in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle.  This is where we were a few years ago when we watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade go by.  For Christmas they have these beautiful hanging stars that light up to the beat of the Christmas carols being played.  The kids loved it.

Christmas Stars in the Time Warner Building

K, J, & W under the Christmas stars reflected in the window

A Tree in Columbus Circle

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ballet & Modern

Today, parents got to observe dance classes at LaGuardia High School.  I watched all 3 hours of J's classes and was in awe.  There are 33 kids in her dance class.  They started with an hour-and-a-half of ballet - first stretches, then exercises (at the barre and the floor), then combinations.  The next class was an hour-and-a-half of modern (Graham).  This was a bunch of different floor stretches and across the floor combinations.  It was just beautiful to watch.   Live music in the dance classes add so much to the whole atmosphere.  The dance teachers and piano players are really in tune with each other.  I don't know how they do it, but the timing is always spot on.  Sometimes they just play piano, others they'll have a bongo drum with it.
The children are so focused and determined and the teachers are so incredibly aware of each child.  I noticed eager hands up to answer questions and to volunteer a demonstration.  They are treated like professionals and in turn, they act as such.  What a wonderful treat to get to see this kind of training in action. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010


LaGuardia High School has their annual musical going on this month.  Hairspray opened Thursday and is scheduled for 8 shows - a longer run than usual.  The LaGuardia Concert Hall seats 1100 people.  Ticket pre-sales (online) filled up more than 90% of all 8 shows.  Add that to the amount of walk-in ticket-buyers and yes, all 8 shows will be sold-out.  We all went on Friday (the 5 of us and my mom).  I cannot even begin to tell you how impressed I was.  I have seen tons of Broadway shows and this was right up there with those.  The sets, and the acting, singing, and dancing were unbelievable.  Costumes and sets are all done by the tech and art majors.  The orchestra from the pit was fabulous as well.  I had tears in my eyes after every number, mostly because I was so grateful and proud that my J goes to this amazing school, but also because all this talent is coming from 15-17 year-olds.  This isn't like any high school play anyone has ever seen.  Wow.

Guess who's visited the school over the last few months:  Adrien Grenier, Madonna, Ellenore Scott, and a few famous classical musicians.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Today, W felt like creating a daily schedule.  We always just use the AO weekly one, doing whatever it is we feel like each day, as long as everything on the list gets checked off by the end of the week.  W wanted more structure with that, so he came up with a workable plan for each day. It's interesting that every time we tend to veer toward less structure, W is the one to turn that right around.  Hey, he likes a strict schedule, what can I say?

So, one day a week is for all the extras:  Artist, Composer, Nature, Foreign Language (right now it's Spanish), & Dictation.  Another day has 5 AO readings along with some Spelling workbook.  And the other 3 days of the week include:  Math, Spelling, 1 AO reading, 1 Free reading (we're doing Hans Christan Anderson stories now), Poetry, & Copywork. 

Almost all the AO readings go hand-in-hand with an oral narration.  We haven't started written ones yet, but we will soon.  And every day also includes a "read-to-me" time.  W's reading is so good now and I believe it's the daily practice that keeps him on track.  He alternates between an AO free reading and his own book to use as his read-aloud. 

Dictation is something he would like to do every day.  It's like the spelling "tests" we used to do - he loves that kind of a challenge.  The other day we decided that instead of a literature or poetry dictation exercise, we could do try it with states and capitals.  It was great!   I took 5 state flashcards and went over the capitals with him.  Then I gave him the 5 cards and told him he had 3 minutes to look them over.  Then I took the cards back and read the name of the state and the capital and he had to write them down with correct spelling and capitalization.  Learning the capitals of each state is not the point of this exercise, but it happens anyway.

I'm looking forward to finishing up Yr 2.  We'll finish by January, but maybe not til the end of January.  Not sure yet.  I really don't want to rush through the readings, so we're just going to continue taking our time and enjoying it.   The Year 2 readings are technically for 2nd-4th grades, but they seem way harder and more advanced than anything I've ever seen for 4th grade.  So, we'll shoot for Yr 3 starting January 31 (it's a Monday).  The curriculum is not season-based, so you can start any time of the year.