Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy New Year!

It was a great Christmas.  The kids made out very well and I'm proud of myself for not going into any debt.  B and I exchanged presents too - he got me a Kindle Fire and I got him (us, lol) 2 tickets to dinner and off-Broadway show.  So excited to have a date night!

We're staying home for New Year's Eve.  J and a bunch of friends are having a sleepover party, so she won't be home.  K usually goes to a big, swanky, New Year's Eve gala with the boyf,  but they're not going this year.  B and I enjoy being home.  We get a whole bunch of pickin' snacks, some wine, sparkling red grape juice for W, and just veg out.

Wednesday it's back to the grind.  J has school, W and I will start back on the academics, and I'm going to get back into the field trips again.  W starts a new drama/musical theater class on Saturdays before show choir.  They're both within a 10-minute drive of each other so it works out well.

If I can get my work hours changed from evenings to mornings he will also do basketball or soccer 2-3 times a week.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Almost Christmas 12/17-12/23

Christmas cards were mailed on Thursday, presents will all be wrapped today, and I'm looking forward to a wonderful, relaxing week.  We're having Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day) dinner at my mom's house.  She decided on something other than the fish we've been having ever since I married into an Italian family.  I get it - it can be a huge mess and cleaning up that kind of dinner is the last thing we want to do on Christmas Eve.  But B couldn't imagine not having that, so he made it all himself last night instead.  K's boyfriend, J's best friend, and W's friend from next door all came over to eat.  B made crab-stuffed mushrooms, shrimp parmigiana, fried calamari, & stuffed flounder.  K's boyf brought over a red velvet cake from Martha's Bakery (my absolute fave) and a gift for me (a really nice wrought-iron hanging decoration that holds 5 photos).  He's certainly scoring some brownie points with me.

On Thursday, some of W's show choir and a bunch of other kids and adults got together for some street caroling.  We also ventured into some restaurants to sing to the patrons.  A burger place gave us a huge clam-shell of half-moon cookies, a pizzeria gave us all free pizza and soda, and an upscale Italian restaurant gave us a generous donation to help fund a new piano.  We didn't expect anything from anyone, but it certainly reaffirmed my belief in humankind - and that NYC is a friggin awesome place.

So, since I'm anxiously waiting for the day when I can switch my work hours to mornings rather than evenings - mainly so W can be a part of more activities and sports during the week - I decided to start going to the gym with him.  That's right.  They allowed him to take over K's membership (K will be joining a new place more easily accessible for her). The minimum age is 13, but they agreed to let him join since he does look like a teenager.  Eh, he'll be 12 soon.  I'm happy that he'll have a place to go to work out whenever he wants.  And it gets me there too!  I've been slacking lately because K has been so busy with school and work and I don't like going to the gym alone, leaving W at home.  So this seems like the ideal solution.  We'll see how it all works out.  (heh heh, works out...gym, get it?)

Math:  Rounding and estimating review
Language Arts:  Continuing with simple subject/predicate, types of sentences, run-ons, fragments, and another lesson in the dyslexia workbook
Science:  Another really cool experiment.  We put some vinegar into a 2-liter soda bottle.  Then boiled a few leaves of red cabbage until the cabbage water was a deep bluish purple color.  Then W poured that water into the vinegar.  Even though the cabbage water was a deep blue, the vinegar turned it to a bright pink.  He then took a balloon, funneled in about 2 Tbsp of baking soda, and secured the balloon over the top of the soda bottle.  He lifted up the balloon, pouring all the baking soda into the bottle.  This caused the balloon to inflate due to the vinegar reacting with the baking soda - but since the baking soda neutralized all the vinegar, the bright pink color turned back to blue.  It reminded me of how litmus paper works.  W wrote about it in his student notebook and we read about science at the time of the Roman Empire and about alchemy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This Week 12/10-12/16

We had a nice week.  Christmas is almost here.  I'm done shopping, I'm sending out my cards in a day or 2, and I've been watching more Christmas movies than ever.   Now I have to magically find about 3 hours to wrap everything.

Here's the academic wrap-up:

Science is so much more fun now.  We did another experiment this week that showed the movement of atoms, this time using hot and cold water.  The drop of food coloring in hot water colored the water quickly, while the drop in cold water just kinda stayed there.  Doing these experiments while reading about what's happening is clicking well with W.  I've always wanted to be creative enough to come up with cool experiments to do that actually correspond with what we were learning.  Now I'm happy to say that someone else thought of it for me, lol.

SOTW went well.  W read the introduction silently.  He narrated back what he remembered and then I asked him the review questions in the activity book.  He still has excellent comprehension - whether it's me reading to him or if he reads independently.  Also, this seems like a good book for him to do written narrations with. We're still feeling it out, but I like it so far.  Next week we'll check out the activities that go with each chapter.

We're on Lesson 16 in Saxon Math and it's still review.  That's good, though.  I'm all about review.  IMO, it's the only way math concepts stick.

W is doing great with the Hake Grammar & Writing.  We have covered types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory), subject & predicate (and simple subject, simple predicate, nouns, & verbs), and fragment & run-on sentences.  He gets it.  All the skills he learned from paragraph editing have carried over and he doesn't forget a thing.  This and the dyslexia workbook are improving his reading and writing so much.   The handwriting, well, it's ok.  It was actually better when he was 7, lol.  I think his thinking is that he knows he can write and focusing on being neat has become way less important than understanding the work.  Now I just ask for legible.  :) 

He started a new season of show choir this weekend, too.  They're doing lots of classic rock n roll stuff again - which W loves.  Eventually I'll see if he'd like to take private lessons there.  The other 5 kids in the choir do.  They are all 11-13 years old (one is a 9 y/o little brother) and are starting to prepare for performing arts high school auditions.  Still not sure what W wants to do.

Sweet Charity at LaGuardia High School was unbelievable, as usual.  That morning I watched J's dance classes at the school.  K and W took the train in with me since we were seeing the show that night.  They went for a nice lunch and then to FAO Schwarz while I was at the school with J.  The dancers there are beautiful.  It's amazing what they learn.  This year besides ballet and modern, they had a semester of jazz.  In January, jazz will be replaced by tap.  J is looking forward to that.  I met up with them around 4:30 in Columbus Circle.  I love how gorgeous the area is over there.  The Time Warner Bldg with the shops is always crazy decorated.  Outside, all the trees are completely wrapped in small, white lights.  Across the street is this awesome craft market.  There must be 100 booths with thousands of handmade items - from flattened glass wine-bottle art to beef jerky to jewelry to fur hats, they have it all.

Photo by Markets of New York City

Monday, December 10, 2012

I Love December

Yay!  I'm so excited we got the book shipment last week.  I normally wouldn't have ordered anything this close to Christmas, but I couldn't wait.  I was just so impressed with both SOTW and Apologia General Science - the samples, the reviews, and the love of science and history they seem to procure.

We started the science first.  On Wednesday we did 2 days worth of "Module 1" (according to the lesson plan) including the experiment.  It was a brief history of science, including what science is, ancient Egyptian medics in 3000 BC, ancient Greek scientists in 500 AD, and the first ideas of atoms.  When we did some questions, W remembered the smallest details of just about everything.  He didn't even mind writing out a several-sentence-long answer to a question in his Student Notebook.  He even wanted to look up more info about papyrus.

The experiment was fun.  I'm glad I bought the lab kit so I have all the major materials for the experiments.  I know I would never go out and buy the individual things we need.  You can't just go out and buy one small balloon, or 1/4 cup of corn syrup, or 5 thumb tacks.  I would end up spending a fortune on full packages if things.  And each module's materials come in it's own labeled ziplock baggie!  Fits my Type-A personality perfectly.  So, imo, the $75 was well worth it.   Anyway, the first experiment was called "Density in Nature".  W poured oil, water, and corn syrup in a tall, clear glass.  All 3 liquids separated right away.  I remember doing a similar experiment when I was little, but it still fascinates me to see it.  Then he dropped in a small rock, a peeled clove of garlic (we ran out of grapes, but this worked perfectly), an ice cube, and a cork.  Each item suspended itself in a different layer.  This demonstrated the density of each liquid, which told us how loosely or tightly their atoms are packed together.  W loved it.  Yay.

We are starting Story of the World 1 next week.

 Math is still going very well.  W is learning new concepts so quickly and his mental math skills are right on.  I owe a lot of that to the 4 function drills we did over the summer.  I believe mastering the basics has been the best thing we've done.  So far W has been reviewing things like fractions, lines perimeter, graphs, place value, inequalities, and negative numbers.  There are also a lot of word problems.  He is learning to take his time reading through it so he understands what it's asking.  This is a challenge.  He has a tendency to either skip or insert words or completely misread words when they look like other words.  Recent ones include "navigate" for "negative" and "ingredient" for "integer".  Word problems do force him to be more accurate, which in turn improves his reading skills overall.  We stretch 1 math lesson out over 2 days.  At the rate we're going we should finish Saxon 7/6 by next December.

We're taking the Hake Grammar just as slowly: 1 lesson over 2 days.  I refuse to rush.  It is way more important for W to fully understand everything rather than hurry him through a book just to be able to say it's completed.  For W (and my girls too), 30-minute bite-sized chunks chewed slowly and savored are much better retained than 1-2 hour cram and binge lessons.  And on that note, we've also started breaking the dyslexia workbook lessons into 2 days as well.  It's getting a little harder and the last thing W needs is to get frustrated about reading.

W had his show choir recital the other day.  There are 6 kids, they sang 5 songs, and W had a solo part!  He did 2 shows.   J's studio performed a reinvented "Nutcracker" show on Sunday.  They only practiced for about a month, but it was the cutest thing.  J played the Arabian dancer and was in 4 other parts as well (party-goer, soldier, snowflake, candy something).  All the costumes were from previous competition numbers.  I loved it and I want to watch it every year, lol.

I think we'll be taking some more breaks throughout December.  I want to get into Manhattan for the Christmas stuff:  Rockefeller Plaza, FAO Schwarz, Columbus Circle, store windows, etc.  Two other things I'm looking forward to this we are:   Parent Observation Week and "Sweet Charity" at Laguardia High School!   I can't wait!!