Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Season!

This year for Thanksgiving we went OUT to eat.  In my 40+ years on this earth, my family has never strayed from the big home-cooked Thanksgiving.  But my mom decided she did not want to spend hours preparing and cooking and cleaning.  She wanted to actually be able to sit and eat with no worries.  I was so happy about this.  We reserved seats at the East Wind Caterers Thanksgiving Day Buffet.  Definitely worth doing at least once in your life.

We got back to my Mom's house before 5.  She had stocked up on what she calls "pickins" - cheese, crackers, rolled cold cuts, hot chocolate, cookie dough to bake, etc.  And by about 7-8pm we were all a little hungry again.  We put some Christmas music on and went about putting together Mom's new tree.  (We always had real trees growing up, but when cousins of mine saw their house burn to the ground because their real tree caught fire, we've used artificial ones ever since.)    It was a pretty and pre-lit and about 6.5 feet tall.  Mom has lots of ornaments from when I was little and it's always so fun to put them on the tree.

We left at around 11am the following morning.  K went to work and, in the evening, hung out with her best friends on a main shopping strip here in Queens.  J went to the dance studio to start choreography on her new duet.  Dance was 2 hours and then she met up with a bunch of her homeschooled friends to go ice skating at the Pond at Bryant Park.  It's beautiful there at nighttime.  She had a lot of fun and then slept over her friend's house.

My tree is going up this week and I'm happy to report that about 90% of my Christmas shopping is done.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekly Recap & What's Coming Up

This past week was just focusing on academic stuff.  I'm still hoping we can get to AO Year3  by January.  It's looking pretty good.  W is still enjoying the work - and that's what matters.  He takes the lead.  I show him what's on the agenda for the week and he picks what he'd like to do each day.  He had a part in choosing the curriculum and he can choose what the mornings look like.  It's great.  I love that he owns his learning.  And because of that, he retains just about everything.  It's common sense, it works, and everyone's happy.

So in math, we're doing decimals involving money, using the cents and dollar signs, and adding/subtracting decimals.   W is resigned to only use the TT5 workbook.  The company isn't too keen on just selling the book by itself, so thankfully we already own TT7 (which we'll start next year for 5th grade).  After that, we'll see. We're almost finished with The Little Duke (he's already getting sad about it coming to an end, lol) and we're going strong with Wind in the Willows, An Island Story, Seabird, & Pagoo.  The Spelling Skills workbook is our favorite, still.  W just finished a cumulative review of the first 6 chapters and got everything right.  The activities and repetition in that book are just what he needs to build his reading vocabulary.  I already have the 5th grade one, too.  For $6.95 ($5.21 with educator discount!) it's amazing. 

I plan on taking W on a lot more field trips soon.  I keep a list of over 80 museums in NYC.  I'd love to try and get to at least one a month.  There are so many we haven't seen yet.  I'll get fresh batteries for my camera and be sure to take lots of pictures. 

The girls are doing great.  K's birthday is in a few days and she's already starting the celebrations.  I can't believe she's almost 17.  On Friday night she went out with friends to a Mexican restaurant where they sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, lol.  She has work both weekend days and loves that it's a short school week.  We're in the process of getting college applications out.  She has a few ideas as to where she wants to go and seems on top of it all.  I'm so glad her college applications are a year after J's high school applications.  I would have went crazy if they were during the same year.  

J's still loving school.  Her grades have been wonderful and she's made dozens of friends.  I can already tell the difference in J's dancing since she's been at school.  15 hours a week of ballet and modern technique really does wonders.  Her solo for this season's competitions looks so great.  It's a lyrical/contemporary number from one of the studio's special choreographers from California.  She's so happy with it - more so than she's ever been with her solos.  She is also about to start choreography for a new duet.  She'll be doing this one with her bff and duet partner from last season.  It's going to be "fierce", as I'm hearing, lol.  Competition season is right around the corner.  Can't wait.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dance News

J had a guest dance teacher at school yesterday.  Her name is Linda Sims and she dances with the Alvin Ailey Company.  It was great because they got to be with her for the whole 90 minutes when J normally has modern dance.  Then J had her 90 minutes of ballet.  On Thursday she was at the dance studio at 3:30pm working on her new solo for this season, then spent 4 hours on group choreography (not to mention the other 9 hours of dance at school and 3 hours of dance at the studio this week).  So much dance going on - and she'd have it no other way.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Academics and Broadway

Today W learned about decimals and converted them to fractions  (and reviewed perimeter, area, subtraction with regrouping, multiplication, and various word problems).  He zipped through the new lesson and did all 22 problems in less than 15 minutes.  I'm so glad he loves math.  I read Seabird to him and he read Pagoo to me.  Pagoo is great!  It's the perfect reading level for him - just challenging enough to learn from, but not so challenging that he'll get frustrated.  We'll try and do a chapter a week, one or 2 big paragraphs a day.  He did a proofreading exercise after learning 20 new spelling words and wrote out a poem in cursive for copywork.  We read more of Wind in the Willows and another chapter in An Island Story.

J had a school trip today to a Broadway show!  They went to see The Scottsboro Boys - a brand new Kander & Ebb musical directed by Susan Stroman.  It was a fully funded trip, which is amazing, since ticket prices range from about $40 to $250.  J loved it.  After the show, she hung around the Broadway area with friends for a bit, then took the subway back up to her school to meet up with a friend, then they took the train together to Queens where J went to the dance studio for 3 hours of new choreography.  She's a pro at the subway now, becoming confident and streetwise, but still careful.  Thank God for cell phones, though.  I cannot even imagine life without them now.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Book Attachment

So, W and I finished D'Aulaire's Abraham Lincoln and Holling's Tree in the Trail yesterday.  We have been reading a couple of pages a week from each of these for a long time.  W read to me almost every day from Lincoln.  Just this one read-to-me book has improved W's reading in so many ways.  He read the whole book to me, one slow page at a time.  And it was wonderful.  I read Tree in the Trail to him.  1 or 2 pages a week.  One of my favorite features of Ambleside Online is stretching out a book over months.  This is a great way to savor the classics.  W still remembers Viking Tales, Paddle to the Sea, and Aesop's Fables from Year 1 - and how much he loved those books.  He still won't let me resell them.  It's the same now with the ones we've just finished.   The first thing he said was, "I want to keep these.  Please don't give them to anybody".