Monday, July 31, 2006

Vital Information!

POTC2 is EVERY BIT as wonderful when you see it for the 4th time (with your older children) and the 5th time (with an online friend who is now officially an IRL friend!).

My review (with spoilers) be coming in a week mates... ARRRRR! ;)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Starting school THIS week!

Only 3 days until the first day of school for the 2006-2007 school year! I didn't get ANYTHING done today because I haven't felt very well today. Not sick or anything, just "female problems" as they used to call them! ;) But I can get more stuff done tomorrow... I just feel like I'm forgetting something major!

We heard back from the AYC conductor. I made Russ talk to him, because I've been a little too emotional over it (see aforementioned "female problems"! LOL). We talked with Riley again, to make sure that she understood what was going on. I don't think she does, because I don't think she really understood what is involved with the whole AYC thing. But I can't shake the feeling guilty thing. She seems to always get the short end of the stick. I've been paying thousands of dollars for therapies and testings for her siblings, and yet we can't pull together another thousand for something Riley might enjoy? I know, that's beside the point... but like I said, I'm hormonal! ;)

Anyway, the conductor understood our point of view and was very nice about it. He said they will hold auditions again in January 2007 if she seems more interested in trying the AYC at that time.

I'm getting excited about starting school this year! Once I get over the feeling that I'm not ready, I know it will be OK!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Can you really get something for a song?

Songs are not as cheap to come by anymore, apparently!

Ok, that makes no sense does it? It has to do with Riley's audition today. She tried out for a spot with the Atlanta Youth Choir, and she made it! Good news? Yes and no!

First of all, let me add that she was auditioned by the conductor and the assistant conductor (who is over the Cantori, which is the choir for elementary). They both wanted to audition her because of her age. She was in there by herself for about 15 minutes, then came out and said we were supposed to wait and they would come talk to us. So we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally I asked the executive director guy who was in the waiting area if Riley had misunderstood. He went in to check, and said they were still discussing her, and they would call us back soon.

So they finally called us back in there, and told me that she obviously has a talent, a lovely voice, and a natural ear for music. BUT they were both concerned about her behavior and her obivious "social nature". They asked me if she had been in any group activities. @@ I suppose they were hoping that this was a homeschooled child who had never been in public before and she would calm down upon being put into a group! Yeah right. I told them that Riley has a very loud, energetic personality. I told them that she would not likely just "fall into line" by seeing others, and that she would require firm expectations. I mentioned that she was going to take ballet this fall, and we were concerned about the same thing there. She's been in group activities since she was 3 years old and it's always been the same: "Riley is loud." "Riley talks too much." I can only control so much when I'm not in the room. If they have a discipline issue with Riley, they will need to implement whatever consequence they have established.

Having said all that, I asked them if they felt she would benefit from another year to mature before trying AYC. They both said they really would like her to try this year, because she definitely has the talent. Day Camp for new singers is Monday, and Day Camp for the Cantori is on Thursday (supposed to be our first day of school! LOL). She would be expected at both.

Now here comes the bad news: $. Let me add a few more of those: $$$$. This is a great opportunity but it's very expensive. If we had had the last 3-4 months to come up with the money as the other families have had, it probably wouldn't have been too big of a deal. But I have to have this money by Tuesday. Mom said she could help me with a little, but she wasn't sure how much. Also, on the contract, it states that you are responsible for the fee regardless of whether you leave or are asked to leave. I placed a call to the director this afternoon and left a message asking if that was going to apply to Riley this week, because it was my understanding that they wanted her to try the day camp this week and see what she thinks of everything.

I don't want to tell her I can't afford this for her. I will if I have to, of course, but I don't want to. I want her to be able to do something special. I feel like she would really benefit from some extra time of her own. Yes, it's because of her siblings having autism. That sounds terrible, but it is true. Austin and Reece have been so hard to live with this summer.

So I guess we'll see in a few days how this will all play out. The $$ factor is mostly just the initial expense: registration fee, and I would owe the first 2 installments of the enrollment fee, plus I would need to pay for a uniform soon. There are just 4 more monthly installments of the enrollment fee after Tuesday, and those I am sure we could manage (esp. if the other kids are done with therapy), and mom said she knew she could help with. It's just this initial stuff.

I hope they call me back soon. I don't like decisions left up in the air!

Edited to add: Russ and I just discussed this some more and he really feels this is too big of a committment for Riley at this time. Instead he wants her to try a church choir first (Riley has a friend who does choir at her church that's not too far away, maybe we could go with her!). I asked Riley about it, and she is completely fine with that idea! She said she just wants a choir to sing in. So I guess that is that. I feel a little sad, because I feel like we're letting Riley down. :(

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Starting school next week!

I've gotten alot done the last few days! I feel like I'm just about ready to tackle 'back to school' next Thursday!

Yesterday I took Riley's math workbook and my Adventures TM to Kinkos to have the spiral bindings removed. I purchased some new binders at Staples, and got those all set up. I also purchased binders for the kids' school work, and just need to set the dividers in them. Just about all of the lesson planning is complete! I made some copies last night of things we'll need for the first week of Adventures.

I also completed the chore charts, and we've been using them this week. So far, so good. Tonight I will try to list what they have to do daily. It doesn't seem like very much, but it's a good start.

Now I have to work on our schedule... exactly how and when we're going to get all this stuff done. Last year, I let them choose the next subject. But that mostly ended up with Austin crying because he couldn't decide, so I'm taking that out of his hands.

I re-read Austin's neuro-psych report, which resulted in a few changes for his schedule this year. I'm going to drop a couple of things and postpone a few others. I'm going to prioritize learning to type this year. I'm trying to not complicate things too much! LOL

I would like to finish getting things for the big kids all set up this week, so I can focus on plans for Reece. If I have a plan for organizing her school box every day, and including her sensory activities, that will be so much easier! :) Anything that I don't have to think about every day is good!

Next week I'll take the kids to buy some new school things and then we'll be ready to get busy!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Busy Saturday

This is my new Desk Apprentice from Staples. Yes, I realize it's not located on the desk! LOL But this will replace the magazine holders and other chaos I used last year to hold my teacher guides or manuals when I am trying to use them for school! Also it will hold paper, pencils, and pens so they are accessible. Not sure if it's staying in the kitchen or if it will come out on school days!


Here are the pictures of my new bookcases and what I accomplished this afternoon! The new bookcase is the light wood one to the right! It is actually smaller than I thought it was going to be! I picked up the wrong one at IKEA, and it is really better! I can fit one more that size on that wall (in my bedroom) and have a bookcase just for all of our fiction! Currently, each child has one small bookcase or toybox with a bookshelf on it in their room, but we're just totally running out of room, and I'd rather have all the books in a central location.


This bookcase features our history books divided by year (top shelf has Ancient History, next one has middle ages, etc). On the 5th shelf are the science books. The bottom shelf has CDs and CD-roms and a box with CD players and tape players. Also, currently it has some workbooks I need to put on the swap board!





This is the kitchen and I love how it looks. I wish I had a 'before' picture, but there was a white and natural wood microwave cart where the cabinet is and it held games, puzzles, and other assorted junk. It always looked cluttered and terrible. Next to that were 5 plastic drawers filled with math manipulatives, card games, HWT paper, and playdoh. They were huge and bulky and just made the area look crowded. I got rid of a good bit of the math manips that we aren't actively using anymore, and moved some of the others into Reece's school boxes as she is prime age for them now. The playdoh is in a kitchen cabinet, along with a storage box of the card games. The MUS blocks need a new home, but I haven't figured that out yet. The easel was also purchased at IKEA and the girls are itching to use it! I'm being a mean mommy and making them wait for school to actually start! :) It has one side that is a chalk board, the other side is a dry-erase board, and it holds a roll of paper for painting or drawing! They are going to love it! I love the tray to hold paints!

Here is my new cabinet and I'm so excited about it! On the top left you'll see a 3 drawer filing system: that is for the kid's school papers that need to be graded. Yes, I know that Reece doesn't have any of those papers but she likes to pretend. When I saw that 3 drawer one at IKEA I couldn't pass it up! Next to that you'll see our art supplies in a container I got from Staples last week! LOVE IT! Going to see if they have more of these!

Inside the cabinet on the first shelf, on the left, I took the board games out of their boxes, and labeled the boards with my handy-dandy label printer. There were a couple of games you'll notice that didn't do well with that system so they are just on top. On that same shelf to the right are the pieces to the board games, in storage bags also labeled.

On the 2nd shelf, on the left, are the math manipulatives that I use alot: dice, frog counters, dominoes, tangrams. These are in these adorable storage boxes from IKEA (3 for $1.99). On the right are the 2 plastic drawers we used last year for ungraded papers. Now the top one has white or manilla drawing paper, and the bottom one has all the colored construction paper.

The bottom shelf, on the left, has a magazine holder with old magazines that can be used to cut up for collages or for other projects. Then in the middle are some simple puzzles. Finally, on the right, is a storage box of our science supplies.

So that's what I did today! :) It was hard work and I'm wiped out, but I'm so pleased with the results! It just looks so much better now. I had hoped to get the art supplies out of the kitchen cabinets, but I'm just glad I at least got that area cleaned out today! I didn't realize how messy it looked and how much I didn't like it, until I fixed it!

Also, got the chore charts done (in a spreadsheet, of course) so I will share those tomorrow somehow!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Less than 2 weeks

Things are going well, with regards to planning and preparing for our new school year! I took my first-ever trip to IKEA last night and came home the proud owner of a new tall bookcase, and a new short bookcase with doors, and an easel for artwork (among other smaller things!). That place was so much fun and I can't wait until my husband can put everything together for me!

Also, I ordered the Desk Apprentice from Staples.com and that arrived today! Oh it is so cool! It will hold everything and take a bit of the clutter from my kitchen counter. I'm not sure if it will live there, or if I'll take it back into the bedroom each night, but at least I'll have that option!

Subject planning is just about done, and I'm ready to get the assignment sheets prepared, chore charts redesigned, and our daily schedule planned. I also need to get on the library website and place some holds for our 'book basket' books! I also need to double check to see if there are any books that I want to order, that our library doesn't stock.

I also need to purchase our consumable school supplies: binders, printer paper, printer ink. Then I need to take some of our workbooks down to Kinkos and have the spines cut off and the pages 3-hole punched for binders.

Gosh, looking at all of this makes me feel I'm not nearly as ready as I thought I was!

Guess it's time for a master spreadsheet! ;)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Speechless

I got the link to this video from Ali Edward's Blog and it's rendered me speechless. If you choose to watch it, tissues are not an option!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I think I'm starting to get excited!

We are starting school on August 3rd, and I was able to get some planning started while my husband was working over the weekend! I have a number of things left on the 'To Do' List which I will tackle as soon as I'm done blogging this evening, but I'm actually starting to get things pulled together and I'm getting excited!

I think we're going to have a really neat school year this year! I think the kids are getting excited as well!

* Edited to add that POTC 2 is every bit as exciting and wonderful the 3rd time you see it! ;)

Friday, July 07, 2006

2nd time around?

Oh yeah! It's just as good!! I noticed a few things I hadn't noticed the first time! ;) I cannot get enough of seeing my Captain on the big screen!!

Captain Jack is BACK!


And OH is he ever back!! You won't be finding spoilers here, matey! Let me just say that it's incredible, amazing, fantastic, worth the wait, worth seeing again, and just playing AWESOME!!

(I won't put up a formal review for awhile to allow folks time to see the movie for themselves! And you really SHOULD go see it!!)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Just 10 more hours!

As the time gets closer, I get more excited! The kids and I went to the library, grocery store, Target, and bank this morning just so I wouldn't be sitting around the house looking at the clock! But now, here I am, sitting around the house looking at the clock! LOL

It feels like I've been waiting for this movie forever and I can't even believe it's here! I remember clearly the last time I saw POTC at the dollar theater. Our dollar theater leaves the movies up even after the DVD is out, so I had already bought the DVD but there was something about seeing my Captain come in on that little sinking ship on the BIG SCREEN. It just didn't feel the same on our little TV at home! And I cried that last time at the dollar theater, knowing I'd never see Captain Jack on the big screen ever again.

But in less than 10 hours I WILL be seeing my Captain on the big screen again in all his pirate-y goodness! (And then I'll be seeing him AGAIN on the big screen on Friday night. Another theater. A better one!)

Monday, July 03, 2006

OK, This is what I did!

After tithing off the bonus, and getting Russ some great shirts on clearance at The Gap, the amount left of the bonus was exactly what I needed to pay for My Father's World Adventures! :) I took that as a fairly clear sign! I went ahead and placed my order!

Additionally, I am going to be a little bold and follow the Language Arts recommendations from MFW, that are a little more 'Charlotte Mason-y' than WTM. I won't be selling R&S English 4, just in case I want to use it next year in 5th grade if I don't feel comfortable with the way Austin's performing with MFW Language Arts. But I figure that Charlotte recommends doing Language this way, as does Andrew (the IEW guy!), and Ruth (Beechick!). So we'll give it a shot! Riley will continue to use First Language Lessons for the WTM, because it flows similarly to what MFW recommends!

Also, we won't be starting Latin this year after all, but I'm not going to sell it either. I can always start it next year when Riley is in 3rd grade if we don't stick with MFW. MFW uses English From the Roots Up over 2 years: Greek roots while you're studying Ancient Greece, Roman roots when you're studying Ancient Rome. We will finish our year 2 of Spanish with La Clase Divertida!

MFW includes Bible and Science with their lesson plans, so I won't have to purchase those separately! I am excited to give MFW a try.... those of you who have gone to convention with me know that I have looked it over each year for the last 2-3 years, but the activities scare me away! LOL! Well, I'm just going to have to get in gear with the activities! And with everything coming together in the unit study format, that might really help tie it all in for Austin!

I also have found BJU Reading 4 used from an online friend, so I will be purchasing that, but I think I will use it as a supplement, instead of a main reading program! Maybe we can alternate the BJU stories with real books... and perhaps learning the types of questions BJU asks will help me to be better able to discuss books with Austin and Riley in that same way!

I am excited and nervous at the same time! It's a bit nerve-wracking to move a little further away from WTM/Classical and into a more Charlotte Mason/Whole-heart format! But I think that we're being led in this direction, and I need to at least give it a year to see how it goes!