Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 Meme

2009 Meme found at Nocturnal Queen:

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I learned how to knit and crochet.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any...and my only resolution this year is to simplify and create a rhythmn for our family

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy on Feb 16!!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully

5. What countries did you visist?
Just good ol' USA

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Nothing material...just a better state of mind

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
2/16/09..the birthdate of precious Monkey

8. What was your biggest acheivement of the year?
Homeschooling Punky. It was a difficult decision, and it was the best one we made all year!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not saving enough money, wasteful spending

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Thankfully, no

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Educational materials for the boys, carpet for the living room

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My oldest son, who is blossoming in homeschooling. My youngest for his many "firsts". My husband for being an excellent father.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
In 2009, I guess my behavior at times.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Besides bills, weekend vacations, groceries, kid stuff

15. What did you get really, really excited about?
Monkey's arrival, Britney Spear's concert (shuddup), vacations, Christmas

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2009?
"Fireflies" by Owl City, "Circus" by Britney Spears, "halo" by Beyonce..and many others

17. Compared to this time last year are you:
  • Happier or sadder? Happier
  • Thinner or fatter? The same
  • Richer or poorer? technically, poorer or the same

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

gone on more daytrips

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

eaten out even less

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

Been done already..with my family

21. How many one-night stands?

uh, none lol

22. What was your favorite tv program?

The Office, Modern Family, Real Housewives, The Hills, Glee

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

I can't think of anyone I hate besides Aaron Carter :)

24. What was the best book you read?

The Creative Family by Amanda Soule

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Bluegrass, good children's music

26. What did you want and get?

a new home to live in

27. What was your favorite film this year?

Transformers 2 (because I got to see it at midnight with Punky which made it fantastic), Up because I loved it and many others.

28. What did you do on your birthday and how old are you?

My birthday was spent with family. And I turned 33.

29. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Simple and girly when I go out

30. What kept you sane?

My children

31. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Eric Dane

32. What political issue stirred you the most?

Disrespect for our President

33. Who did you miss?

My Meme. My BFF, Stacy. Friends and family up north.

34. Who was the best new person you met?

They aren't new to me...but I reconnected with cousins I haven't talked to since we were young teens...and I'm so glad we are talking again!!!

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

I found this quote on Noctural Queen as well, and it says it perfectly:

"For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. If you don't enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you're not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness." Andy Rooney

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Menu Planning Monday!

Monday (Dec 28):
Dinner: BBQ meatballs, perogies, various appetizers from freezer

Tuesday (Dec 29):
Dinner: Sushi, Rice, stir fry veggies

Wednesday (Dec 30):
Dinner: Sticky Japanese Drumsticks, mashed potatoes, green beans (didn't happen..had breakfast)

Thursday (Dec 31): New Year's Eve
Dinner: Lobster, crab legs, appetizers, french fries

Friday (Jan 1): New Year's Day
Dinner: PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Cups, dumplings, rice (didn't happen, had pork and saurkraut at parent's house)

Saturday (Jan 2):
Dinner: Apricot Glazed Chicken, mashed taters, mac and cheese, green beans

Sunday (Jan 3):
Dinner: Gumbo (with shrimp and sausage), cornbread, beignets

Monday, December 21, 2009

Quest for Simple Living, Part 2

Our quest for simple living started out early while looking at Internet sites about homeschooling and blossomed from there. I started reading other blogs and Internet sites about living simply and get a lot of inspiration from other mamas who want a simple, less chaotic life.



For us, the first thing that had to go was cable television. We don't have rabbit ears either, so we get no tv channels at all. At first, it was very difficult giving up our shows. The tv was on pretty much every waking moment..between the 3 of us, someone was watching something. But once we turned off the tv, more time was spent doing things that we either wanted to do or needed to do. Of course, we still watch our favorites (about 3 or 4) on the Internet when time allows and we've been known to visit my parent's house to watch specials. We still rent movies and watch the DVDs we own...and the Wii is still used. Ideally, I'd love to cut back on these as well..but with 3 boys in the house, I think it's a losing battle. LOL Anyway, with no tv, I find we are less distracted and more focused. Also, the kids (and my husband and I) aren't bombarded with things we "need" to have or "need" to buy.



I've taken a big interest in all things homemade or handmade. Etsy.com is my new favorite Internet site, as well as those devoted to knitting, sewing and cooking. We've cut back significantly on eating outside of the home and pretty much cook every single day, 2 or 3 meals a day. No more quick runs for takeout. I'd say we eat out only a handful of times a month (just a year ago we were probably eating out 10-20 times a month), and that's pretty much for french fries for the kiddo or pizza. Not eating out required some fast learning skills in cooking, and I think I've come a long way!



As far as homemade and handmade materials, I'm working on that as well. Knitting, crocheting and sewing have become my new hobbies. I'm not talking about making my own clothes necessarily, but practical items and things for the kids. (napkins, place mats, hats, bags, etc). I'm careful about what I do buy these days, hoping to cut back on our consumption in this world. Giving out more than we are taking in. We have a long way to go, but we've bought so much less these days. Some would say it's out of necessity (economy, grr..) but it's more than that. Living simply means not living in excess...and I'm so happy we're heading in that direction.



Another idea I love about living simply is connecting more with the Earth and our surroundings. More time is spent outdoors, relishing what Mother Nature has given us. I have found that this is one area that is difficult for my family to achieve. Between husband's work, hot days in Florida, living in the suberbs and pathetic excuses, we haven't spent as much time outside as I had hoped in 2009. We did spend a lot more time at the beach this year than any other, so I'm proud of that. Simple, happy, FREE fun for the entire family! I vow to spend more time outdoors with the kids and hope that it becomes more routine in 2010.



My husband and I are very conscience about providing our children with the materials necessary to live simple, yet enjoyable lives. Books, books and more books are at their fingertips. We're slowly building a pretty healthy library. Some are meant just for fun (hello, Spongebob) but most are carefully selected. Field guides to the outdoors, how-to books and classic literature are waiting for them at every turn. Educational games, interactive learning materials and experiments are waiting to be perused and played with. I've found that when these resources are made available, easily and simply, Punky tends to reach for them all the time. Also, children follow by example; so my husband and I are making more of an effort to read in front of our kids to show them we too constantly strive to better ourselves via educational materials and books. Carving out special nooks and crannies in our home is our next goal for the children. We're hoping to create special spaces for their enjoyment that are cozy and welcoming.



Now, all this is not to say that Punky doesn't play, and play hard, with his plastic Transformers or Bakugan. But when the other choices are there, right at his fingertips, he often chooses a field guide to read or educational game to play. We're working more wooden and organic toys to our stash, and the kids are now reaching for those as well. You'd be surprised how often your children choose the "learnin' stuff" too!

Two helpful books to create a more simple life for us has been "The Creative Family" by Amanda Soule and "Handmade Home" by Soule. Many internet sites such as Soulemama and A Journey To a Simple Happy Life have provided many interesting, helpful ideas and suggestions. Magazines like Country Living, Southern Living and Real Simple offer inspiration as well.

We have such a long way to go with our quest. I think if you were an outsider looking in, you might say that we appear average with some frugal tendancies. Our kids have large plastic toys and play like every other kid out there in the world. But we are making great advances, and I hope to continue on this path of being content and joyful. One day I'd love to live on a small plot of land in the country, plant our own small garden and raise a few chickens. (Then again, I'd love a condo in NYC too...so I obviously have a loooong way to go).

Jingles, The Magical Elf

I'm alllll about Christmas. I start playing Christmas music as soon as it hits midnight on Halloween (ok, maybe sometimes in the summer too). I dream about what decorations I'll put up when the time comes, what stocking stuffers I'll find and what activities and crafts we'll make during the holidays. It's not about the presents. For us, it's about the memories. Growing up, I never had a Christmas where I didn't get every single thing I wanted. But the things I remember most about the holidays as a child aren't the gifts (except the year of the Cabbage Patch...I think I got 6 or 7 of those little munchkins..what a great year!). Anyway, I remember making sugar cookie cutouts with my Mom, decorating the tree as a family, driving around looking at the Christmas lights, cutting down the tree at a farm. I remember the Berwick Boulevard light display, the hot cocoa after playing outside in the snow, and the general togetherness we had as a family.

After I had Punky, I started Christmas traditions (cookie baking, Gingerbread houses, driving around looking at the lights) but I also went overboard with the gift buying. I kid you not, there was not one single inch of open space in our living room Christmas morning. For years. It was ridiculous. He was happy, I was happy. But a few weeks later, only a few of the toys were beloved..others just thrown into the toy box waiting for next year's yard sale. Not all kids are like that, I realize this. But my kid was overwhelmed with all the toys. It took him HOURS to open his gifts and by the end, we were all exhausted.

So I got wiser after a few years and bought a little less. Still, it was all smiles and happiness Christmas morning. Punky never even questioned why he received less gifts. He was just so thrilled with what he did receive, he didn't care that there was less. It didn't even occur to him. And those toys (for the most part) were played with all year.

This year, we have another child, Monkey. And this year, we decided to REALLY focus on what matters most: the memories. Sure, each child is going to get gifts...around 5 or 6 plus a stocking. But those gifts, I just know, will be cherished.

As for the memories...well, if we could create one fantastic memory for our children this year, I'd be happy. And I think we managed to! We did so much as a family....things we've done every year and new things we have added. We've continued the traditional cooking baking, gingerbread house making, advent calendars and holiday crafts. We've also continued the 24 days of holiday books as well. Each night, Punky unwraps a holiday book, chosen from a basket, for us to read. Most are about Christmas (The Polar Express, Here Comes Santa Claus, Holly Hill Road Treasury) but some are about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, etc. It's something we all look forward to...ending our night under the covers, reading a holiday book. On the 24th, we unwrap Twas The Night Before Christmas!

A few new traditions (hopefully we'll continue with) this year were added as well. Our family favorite has been the addition of Jingles the Elf. Jingles, a stuffed 12 inch elf, was dropped off by Santa the night after Thanksgiving. Santa left a note stating why Jingles was there (to observe whether or not the boys were naughty or nice and then report back to Santa on the 24th), that Jingles could get into mischief and to please take care of him. Every night, Jingles got into some kind of mischief!!! One night he went fishing in the fish bowl, another night he played Wii all night, another he hung all Punky's underwear on the Christmas tree!!! It's been so much fun waking up to see what Jingles had done the night before. It's the first thing Punky asks about every single morning. Jingles will be greatly missed after Christmas. He'll definitely be back next year!!!!

***this post was written on Christmas Eve but posted after Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Quest

A lot of things are swirling and twirling in my mind these days. Many thoughts about how I want to lead my life, what I want my children to learn and how to live contently. Everything seems to point back to leading a more simple life. My journey started a few months ago. Let me start at the beginning.


It all started with reading a few blogs, Internet sites and books about homeschooling. I was researching the legalities and complexities of doing so in Florida; and the more I read, the more I realized homeschooling isn't just a way to teach. It's a way of life. You see, homeschooling, for so many if not most, is a 24 hour thing. It doesn't begin or end with the ringing of a bell. Learning and teaching is a daily, minute by minute thing. Every moment, every minute is an opportunity to enjoy the world of knowledge. After all, the things that are most important in life are NOT taught at school, are they? How to be a good person. How to be happy. How to be spiritual. How to be a good brother. etc etc. For us, it does not mean that we don't have any fun around here. I don't mandate reading of educational material only or the playing of only educational toys. I don't make my child read, write and 'rithmatic 24/7. It just means that learning and teaching can be done from anywhere at anytime. It means, as parents, we have to do our best to create learning environments, opportunities and materials as much as possible.


In the course of providing these things for our children, our place has become more cozy, more intimate. It has become a fun place to not only learn, but live fully. I'd like to go a step further and create even more spaces for cuddling up with a good book or setting up a cool experiment.

So, while we created this learning environment and enriching our lives at the same time, I began reading more and more about living simply. It's not about going "Amish" as they say and unplugging everything. Although, I'll admit, we had our cable tv turned off and no longer watch it at our house (but we do catch our very favorites online or at my parent's place). It's not about taking away the video games or electronics (we still have these on hand). It's not about going off the grid and living off the land (although for some it is). It's just about simplifying your life and learning how to be content. Life isn't always happy. Life isn't always grand and momentous. Sometimes, you just have to be content, knowing there will be some great, fantastic, magical moments; and sometimes, there will be stressful, hard, rough moments to get through too. The in between times occur most often..the ordinary, everyday life we all lead. What we make of them is what matters. And I think a lot of people (myself included) struggle with that. To be content within yourself and not want or need or ask for more or something better is a difficult task.


I want my children to learn by example. How can I expect my 8 year old to be mindful, patient and responsible, if I was wasteful? How can my children learn to be truly content if Mommy or Daddy isn't? Sure, they too can learn later in life..but will they? Being Christmastime, I've realized it's even more important to lead by example. Too many wasteful, never to be played with again after a few days presents under the tree would be going against everything I am learning and wanting to teach my children. There are certain values and morals we would like our children to learn, and I realized I wasn't always practicing what I preached. And the learning was so much more non spontaneous when there was tv watching, video game playing and emails to do.

Even in just a few short months, we have changed so much as a family. We are closer. We are happier. And best of all, we are more content. Our marriage is stronger. We have slowed down, spent less and savored more. We are beginning to rid ourselves of negativity and things that were loading us down. Some things were done out of necessity (darn economy!) and most things were done just because we felt the need to personally change our lives and the lives of our children. We have a long way to go, but I feel we are finally on the right track.

Everyone has a different journey in life. I'm not saying how we are living is the "correct" way or the "best" way. All I know is that it's working for us. How are we doing this? What steps have we taken? Where have we gotten our ideas? Coming soon!

Menu Plan Monday!

Monday (Dec 21):
Dinner: Hot Dogs with saurkraut, loaded fries

Tuesday (Dec 22):
Dinner: Steak, risotto, asparagus

Wednesday (Dec 23):
Dinner: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Thursday (Dec 24, Christmas Eve):
Dinner: Wings, french fries, assorted appetizers

Friday (Dec 25, Christmas ):
Breakfast: Monte Cristo Casserole, Cheese and Bacon Quiche, Lemon scones, Coffee, OJ
Late Lunch/Early Dinner: Ham, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, baked beans, baked mac
and cheese, corn, green beans, rolls, appetizers (cheese board, pickle tray, mozz sticks, spinach puffs, shrimp cocktail), peppermint candy pie, mini eclairs, cookies

Saturday (Dec 26):
Dinner: Pizza (didn't happen, Ihop)

Sunday (Dec 27):
Dinner: PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps, stir fry veggies, white rice (didn't happen, leftovers)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Magic

We completely abandoned homeschooling, for the most part, this week. There is just too much excitement and too much to get done! I figure most schools are off anyway (at least in Florida) so he's not really missing much. We ARE doing SOME homeschooling though. Gotta love that Grinch Unit! Plus, art class and home-ec have definitely been taught in full force.

One of our favorite crafts we've done together has been the Elf making. I never giggled so much with Punky while making a craft, ever.


Another favorite was making gingerbread houses....a tradition we'll always keep.


Recently, a cousin of mine posted a link to a site where you can create a video from Santa that is highly personalized for your child. I created one for Punky. And oh my god. Best thing I've ever done! It was so magical, so personal. Punky was in awe. He even had tears in his eyes he was so happy. Of course, that made me burst into tears. The magic is definitely alive in our house!

I've been thinking a lot lately about my belief in preserving the magic and memories, rather than focusing on the toys and the "stuff." I'll be posting soon about what I've been thinking and feeling. Also, I'm going to create a post about what we bought the kiddos for Christmas and a wish list of items I would love to purchase one day.

(Pictures and link will be added soon)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmastime Family Vacation






We had a wonderful time in South Carolina, visiting my husband's side of the family. We stayed at his parents' house and had a wonderful time. The boys were in heaven! It was cold, they have chickens and a golf cart. What more could you ask for????

A lot of time was spent learning how to crochet (me), playing outside (the boys) and visiting with family (all). Punky was able to help pick out a real tree from a tree lot and then help Grandma and Uncle decorate it.




Monkey was able to sit for a long time and inspect dead leaves, sticks and dirt. He had such a great time relaxing in the grass.


We watched big brother run around the yard, chase chickens and drive the golf cart. Long talks were had in the sun room, where we caught up on past traditions, memories and stories. For our Christmas celebration, my Mom made a big ham dinner, complete with baked mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, etc. Uncle baked some yummy muffins, breads and cookies.



We laughed until we cried. We were all able to take a big breathe and just RELAX. It was a nice vacation!

Menu Planning Monday!

I'm in the mood to try some new soups this week. It's not cold out here, but it's still the Christmas season and I'm dying for soup!!


Monday (Dec 14):
Breakfast: Eggs and bacon
Lunch: No one was hungry. Skipped.
Dinner: Coconut Shrimp, homemade fries, perogies

Tuesday (Dec 15):
Breakfast: (Late) Eggs, sausage, grits, toast
Dinner: (Early) Holiday Party at husband's resort
Snack: Popcorn, cookies and hot cocoa (while looking at Xmas lights in the town of
Celebration)

Wednesday (Dec 16):
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Out at Sea World
Dinner: Chicken Salsa Verde Burritos, corn bread ( a favorite)

Thursday (Dec 17):
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover soup and sandwiches
Dinner: Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and homemade bread

Friday (Dec 18):
Breakfast: French Toast, bacon, toast
Lunch: Grilled Cheese, crackers, fruit
Dinner: Hamburger Barley Soup (crockpot) and homemade bread

Saturday (Dec 19):
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover soup and sandwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs

Sunday (Dec 20):
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Steak, cheese risotto, green beans, apple pie

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rainy and Cold

I don't think I get to say those two words in Central Florida very much: rainy and cold. But it is, finally! Not that I enjoy the rain so much...but combine it with some coldness and it's perfect on this December day. You see, we didn't have much planned for the day. Just some homeschooling, a little game playing and movie watching.

It started off with some studying about adjectives. Boring, yes. But when it involves the Grinch and Cindy Lou-Who, who was no more than two, it's a little more fun.

Next came math. Trying to get Punky up to speed on non-digital clocks. ugh. I'm soooo not a math teacher, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Punky and his Dad built some forts out of legos, for their Lego Santa and Elf, after our short homeschooling lesson for today. They quickly switched to the Wii while I prepared dinner and packed some more for our upcoming trip. Also, Monkey is learning how to use a sippy cup, so I think I may have picked it up off the floor after he intentionally dropped it, oh, 535 gatrillion times. Monkey has also learned how to pull up and cruise and crawl at speeds of lightning so he's keeping my on my toes lately. I can't even tell you how many cups of water/milk/soda I've had to clean up already from little hands that pulled them from tables. LOL Thank goodness we pretty much baby proofed the house a few months ago.

Well, it's dark again outside and still raining. Tonight, Punky and I plan on doing more reading about the Grinch and possibly doing a craft or two. He's been reading ferociously lately, so I want to keep that habit up!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Menu Plan for Next Week!

We will be in South Carolina next week, so I thought I'd post my ideas for what we will be eating. It's definitely going to be changed, no doubt about it, but I figured I'd make one up in hopes of sticking to it as much as we are able to. We are staying with my in-laws..the only reason for the trip being to visit family. We are on a tight budget and do not plan on eating out (except for maybe a McDonald's breakfast..which we love to have when we're there for some reason lol)

Monday (Dec 7):
Breakfast: Pumpkin Bread/ cereal
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Mac and cheese
Dinner: Spaghetti with garlic bread (maybe a salad)

Tuesday (Dec 8):
Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, toast
Lunch: Sandwiches, chips
Dinner: Pizza

Wednesday (Dec 9):
Breakfast: Cereal/cookies/Pumpkin bread
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: "Christmas" meal (ham, potatoes, veggie, rolls, dessert)

Thursday (Dec 10):
Breakfast: on the road (probably cookies, fruit bars, etc. LOL)
Lunch: on the road (probably fast food)
Dinner: Fish Sticks, Fries and corn (or something equally easy)

Friday (Dec 11):
Breakfast: Pancakes, sausage
Lunch: Soup and crackers
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, noodles, veggie

Saturday: (Dec 12):
Breakfast: Eggs, toast
Lunch: Tuna salad sandwiches, pretzels
Dinner: out at Magic Kingdom/boys at Grandparents'

Sunday (Dec 13):
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Egg Salad sandwiches, chips
Dinner: steak, cheesy risotto, veggie

Forgotten post

Forgot to post my plans for meals this week!

Monday:
Breakfast was cereal
Lunch was turkey sandwiches with grapes and carrots
Dinner was something I completely forgot what we had lol

Tuesday:
Breakfast was eggs and toast
Lunch was leftovers (Thanksgiving)
Dinner was at Epcot

Wednesday:
Breakfast was cereal
Lunch was grilled cheese, chips and/or crackers, applesauce
Dinner was pizza casserole

Thursday:
Breakfast was pancakes
Lunch was soup and crackers
Dinner was Firecracker chicken with veggies and rice

Friday:
Breakfast: Will be Pancakes
Lunch: Will be Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Baked Lays, fruit
Dinner: Will be Grilled Turkey Sausages, sauerkraut, pasta salad, fruit

Saturday:
Breakfast: will be cereal
Lunch: will be leftovers
Dinner: will be Chicken Salsa Verde Casserole

Sunday:
Breakfast: will be cereal or french toast
Lunch: will be leftovers
Dinner: on the road..we're going to South Carolina..maybe sandwiches if I take them

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Grinch And Epcot

I can already tell that homeschooling in December is going to be very relaxed. We have a lot of activities and events planned...and a whole lot of learnin'...but our schedule is going to be very relaxed, for sure.

We started our unit on How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Very fun so far!!! We've read the book a few times. I've forgotten how much fun Dr. Seuss books are to read out loud!!! Even Punky was begging to read it over and over himself. Love it. Anyway, we've only been at it for a couple of days, but so far, so good. Yesterday Punky started writing his own Seuss-like story. I think he'll be working on it for a few days, along with drawing illustrations for it. We've talked about plot and character so far, and we'll be delving more into the storyline soon. I'm going to have him do some work on adjectives and adverbs to the story...as well as other parts of speech. And before next week, we'll do a craft or two about the Grinch.

He's still doing fairly well with his math. It's the subject I like teaching the least, as it was always my least favorite subject in school. But, I've learned to fake my interest in it, and I'm pretty sure Punky has no idea that I dislike the subject.

It seems like ever since we started homeschooling, Punky has been asking more and more questions..ABOUT EVERYTHING. It seems like he can't go five minutes without asking a question. And I love it! Sometimes his questions are so intricate and hard, I have to look them up myself! I definitely think it's a good sign that his reading has improved (even though he was already reading at a much higher level when we brought him home to learn), his math skills are on target and he seems so much more interested in learning.

For fun tonight, we went to Epcot at Disney with my Mom and Dad. Punky was able to participate in the Kim Possible Secret Agent activity throughout the park. He was given a cell phone at the start, and told to follow the clues. I didn't realize how interactive it would be!!! It was so much fun! One of the clues had us find the steins in a German store...and when we told the cell phone we were there, the steins started singing. It was hysterical! Punky even made a gigantic 2 story glockenspiel chime and activate right in the middle of the square. So fun! It was a great lesson in geography, logistics and sequencing! The following is a pic of the two guys playing the game:



While at Epcot, Punky spent a great deal of time at the different aquariums in the Living Seas. He learned all about cuttlefish (even asking to bring some home, ugh), lion fish, and many other fish! He could have spent all night in there! The following is a short video of the cuttlefish we saw:
video

So many learning opps at Epcot! But we also had a lot of fun too! We enjoyed Illuminations with a special Holiday ending (fireworks show), a few rides and some good food. We learned how to make animals out of sugar candy in Japan (Punky got a shark), about some holiday traditions in other countries and that John O' Hurley has a great speaking voice! (he did the narration at the Candlelight Processional that evening).

Tonight, my leg and feet are aching from all that walking. But it was definitely worth it! Little Monkey had a blast too, as well as everyone else in the family!

Next thing we have to look forward to: a trip to South Carolina next week to see Husband's side of the family! Can't wait!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, I think we managed to get in all the Thanksgiving activities/learning opportunities I wanted to complete this year. The Thanksgiving memory game worked out wonderfully. It was so much fun! And Punky completed his pilgrim and first Thanksgiving quizzes, activities and games. We'll read The First Thanksgiving one more time tonight before bed, and we'll continue with the lessons this time next year! Tomorrow we'll decorate some turkey place mats, color a few turkey coloring pages and a play a rousing game of pin the feather on the turkey.

Monday we'll begin the Christmas unit I've been preparing! Can't wait!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!! Gobble gobble!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here is the menu for our week...hopefully we stick to it! I think posting it on here will hold me more accountable.

Monday (11.23.09):
  • B: Pancakes (make extra for freezer) with blueberries
  • L: Probably just a quick snack before doctor's visit
  • D: Creamy Shrimp Penne, garlic bread

Tuesday (11.24.09):

  • B: Cereal
  • L: Ham/Roast Beef Sandwiches with chips, grapes
  • D: Out with friends

Wednesday (11.25.09):

  • B: Eggs, bacon, toast
  • L: Popcorn Chicken, fruit
  • D: Chicken Salsa Verde Bake

Thursday (11.26.09): THANKSGIVING

  • B: Cereal
  • L: Appetizers (too plentiful to list)
  • D: Thanksgiving Dinner (turkey and all the trimmings)

Friday (11.27.09):

  • B: Waffles with chocolate chips
  • L: Turkey Sandwiches, chips
  • D: Leftovers

Saturday (11.28.09):

  • B: Pancakes (from the freezer)
  • L: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, leftovers
  • D: Hamburger Barley Soup and Homemade Bread

Sunday (11.29.09):

  • B: Cereal
  • L: Leftover Soup and bread
  • D: Sloppy Joe Casserole with corn, mashed potatoes

Snacks will be nuts, fruits, veggies, crackers, yogurt, popcorn, string cheese, applesauce and cookies (we'll be holiday baking). I'm sure the boys will sneak in some candy here and there, as I leave out a candy bowl during the holidays. Luckily, Punky doesn't eat a lot of sweets, so I don't have to worry about him sneaking too much (his Daddy on the other hand, oy). :)

Turkey Talk

I guess it's harder than I thought to write every single day on this blog..or every single week for that matter. ugh. I vow to try harder.

Lately, Punky has been progressing quite well in his schooling. He's working pretty hard at his math..using worksheets and manipulates to get the hang of the skills I've presented. Mostly using the double dice and bears. He seems to pick up most things fairly easily.

As for as reading and writing, he's doing well in that as well. He's read some very long books, and I've been happily surprised. In one sitting, he read 60+ pages out loud. That's a lot for this little guy who hated reading out loud (but loved to be read to) just a few short months ago. His favorite book series right now is Frog and Toad by Lobel. We've also been studying the Pilgrims and the History of Thanksgiving. He's read The First Thanksgiving a few times, and I think understands the history much better this year. He now knows WHY he's celebrating instead of just doing it because he's told to. I haven't "prettied" up the Pilgrims either, so as not to blur history.

He has been having fun though with this unit study. He's made several turkeys, often late into the night. His favorite was when we used a toilet paper roll for the body. :) I've noticed his coloring is MUCH better since regular school. I think while in class he was hurrying to get it done so he could play and goof off. At home, he takes his time and doesn't "scribble scrabble" as we call it. It's not a very important thing to learn, to color within the lines in a nice way...but it's certainly a valuable lesson in patience that he needs to learn. It's a skill he often struggles with. When he creates his own art, I'm not strict about coloring within the lines and such..it's his free form and who am I to begrudge him of it? But I do ask that he takes his time when I print out sheets for him so I can test his patience. So far, it's working and he's doing much better.

He's taken a big interest in rocks and minerals as of late, and I was able to score a free book from the library to keep (with a small donation we made to the library..as with all "free" books we are able to score) about rocks and minerals. He was thrilled to finally look up some of the collected rocks he's found through the years (most of which he "found" at his grandparent's house that his Dad was once an owner of....lol). I also bought him a shell guide and he's been looking up the names of the shells he's collected.

To end our space unit, we were able to catch a space shuttle launch from our back yard a few days ago. The space unit went fairly well. I wish I had devoted a little more time to moon phases and astronauts, but I focused on what he was interested in...and he learned a lot.

Coming up after Thanksgiving, we'll be focusing on Christmas and the holidays. I have a unit planned around How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which should be SO MUCH FUN. Can't hardly wait to begin it.

Until then, we've got lots of turkey talk goin' on. We'll be playing Thanksgiving memory (using pilgrim and food memory cards printed off the net), making some crafts, and reading and creating Thanksgiving poetry in the next few days to conclude our unit study. As always, we'll continue with math, reading, writing and the "extras".

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pre Halloween Fun

I forgot to post our adventures on Monday. We didn't do anything extraordinary. Punky did a few math worksheets, using his bear manipulates and then we rolled the math dice to do some multiple adding. He grows bored fairly quickly to math worksheets(who doesn't?) so we switched to language arts. We read "Where The Wild Things Are", and Punky then orally narrated it back to me. I was surprised at how much he retained and how much he enjoyed the story. In fact, he loved it so much, he wanted me to reread the story a few times. We talked about the art and choice of words...and how much it enhanced the story.



Not long after, I had to write down a few recipes I wanted for the rest of the week (using the Internet), so Punk decided to write a few of his own recipes (3, in fact). He did a fairly detailed recipe for a special soup he wanted to make (using frog legs and chocolate...hmmm). He drew pictures detailing what exactly to put in the soup, and then wrote out the directions.



Back to science, we talked about some early astronomers and their accomplishments. He wanted to read a few space books, so we concluded our lesson by reading a few.



Later that night, while I read some of "The Creative Family" by Soule, Punky read a few books of his own. We listened to jazz piano music; and every so often, would talk about what we were reading. I love this independent reading time, because I love to watch the expressions on his face as he quietly reads on his own. It's too precious for words.



Tuesdays and Wednesdays are generally our days off from "school", as it's my husbands' days off. "It's A Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" was playing on ABC, and because we don't have cable tv, we ventured to my parents' house for dinner and a little tv. Beforehand, we stopped at Books A Million and picked up a few books and games. "Fables" and "Frog and Toad Together" by Lobel are two of my favorite illustrated books for kids. I also purchased "The First Thanksgiving" for our unit study next month, as well as an American history book for later on in the year. I saw a Brainquest game for 2nd graders and picked this up as well.



We had a delicious pork loin dinner that my mother lovingly made for us and then settled in for some Charlie Brown. We all had a good laugh, even Monkey loved the show. Punky decided to stay overnight at his Grammy and Pop's house, so the rest of us came home and did a little light reading.



Today we had a Halloween party at the house. Punky wanted a Halloween party like he would have had at regular school, so I made up a little one for him. We purchased cupcakes and cookies, pizza and candy. We made a gingerbread Haunted House and listened to fun Halloween music. This was followed by watching "The Nightmare Before Christmas". I think it was a ton of fun, even the adults got dressed up!!!!

***Note that I chose a picture that did not include me...hell will freeze over first. :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Snake diagrams and what makes Mama shiver.....

The day started off ok. We all gathered at church but Punky had a meltdown about how loud the band was and demanded to leave. Husband took him out into the lobby while the rest of us stayed for the sermon. Monkey fell asleep, and we never heard a peep from him the entire sermon. The pastor touched on some things that really spoke to my heart. He talked about how fulfilling our life would be if we stopped obsessing about worldly things (facebook, celebrities, sports), etc. He advised us to "unplug" whatever obsession we have and focus on our lives. Good points. Without cable tv, we've been focusing much more on each other and creatively occupying our time.

After church, Punky and I played a rousing game of Mancala. It's an ancient counting game using small rocks and cups. We both enjoyed it, so I think we'll be playing it again soon. Afterwords, he played with his tan grams for awhile, which utilizes geometry and logic to create objects/animals/people...his is magnetic so the pieces don't go everywhere and end up in Monkey's mouth.

I ran to Books A Million this afternoon and picked up a few items. I finally purchased "The Creative Family" by Soule that I've been wanting to read for months now. I also got a knitting guide and kit to start this hobby. My Mom has knitted for years, and I wanted to learn how to make more than a blanket for scarf. :) For Punky, I got him a Thanksgiving poetry book and a boy's adventure book of ideas and activities. I had also wanted to buy the "The First Thanksgiving" Step 3 book, but I forgot.

So, this evening, Punky played on PBS kids for awhile (math and science activities/games) while I made dinner for the kids and I. After dinner, Punk read through one of his snake books and drew a few pictures and diagrams of a snake's innards. Joyful. LOL The rest of the evening was spent discussing Halloween plans, watching Home Alone 2 and reading random books.

Tomorrow I'd like to work on math a little (worksheets, dice game, math manipulates) and then discuss more about space. We're coming to an end of our unit study for now..there is a space shuttle launch on November 12th, and I think that will be one of our last days studying space for the time being.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Humdrum Day

Up until today, we've completed a solar system mural, solar system model, many worksheets, coloring sheets and quizzes. We've used a number of computer programs, games and dvds to enhance our learning. We've even gone on a field trip to see The Christmas Carol Train Tour, St. Augustine beach and Castillo De San Marcos. We've got a lot of activities planned for the future.

Just wanted to catch up on what we've already done.

Today was a pretty humdrum day. We finally bought a much needed bookshelf for our various educational materials. Punky completed a math worksheet (2 sided) and used bear math manipulates to figure out the answers. He also did a little multiple choice train quiz, which I mostly gave him to follow up on the train tour we did and to get him reading some bigger words (locomotive, engineer, etc). He also did about an hours worth of Jumpstart 3rd grade. He seems to gravitate towards the math parts of the CD Rom. He also watched a short space video on KidsAstronomy.com. On his own, while I was cleaning up the house, I noticed Punk grabbed a Cranium word book/game and was playing with the mazes. So, not a super productive day, but at least he did do a little work. He did manage to spend a lot of time on the floor playing with his baby brother. They've been playing well together lately, and I hope this continues.

In other news, I can't believe Monkey is 8 months old! He already has his fifth tooth! His third and fourth came in a few weeks ago and now the fifth one has sprung up! Such a big boy! He also pulled up to a standing position in the hotel crib in Jacksonville. He's learning how to sit up from lying down on his own and he sits really well now. I've noticed he's been rolling around to get where he wants to be, but gets very frustrated when he's on his belly. :) He's babbling like crazy now, and smiles allllll the time. Whenever he sees a camera, he grins from ear and to ear, as if to say "cheese". Such a cutie.

Homeschoolers R Us

Ok, so I'm taking a little turn with this blog. I want to document our lives, but I also want to focus on homeschooling as well. I wrote the following recently to share with my family and friends. I'll include it here for preservation. This is our journey.


Our Plans For The Future:

I know there has been a lot of speculation and thought about what my family has been up to these days. I can't say that it has been all fun and games. There has been a lot of struggle, heartache and misery. But, things are finally looking up.

Let me begin by taking you back a few years. Punky is and was energetic and outgoing with those he knew and felt comfortable with. He was also very emotional, downright stubborn and a sensitivechild. Daycare was not pleasant. He suffered from severe seperation anxiety. Everyone said, "Don't worry, he'll be fine one day, not long from now. He'll be begging to stay at daycare with his friends." Nope, not even close. For 2 years, we enduredthe heartache of a child who truly could not handle the separation. There were some reasons for this, one being a verytraumatic incident at daycare. I won't go into it here, but let's just say it was a horrible moment for my little guy.

So, let's flash forward to Kindergarten. Punky was enrolled at **school unnamed for blog*** in Florida. Not a terrible school, but a new principal was brought in to raise its "score". You see, in Florida, children take tests every few yearscalled the FCAT's. It's what the schools are graded on (I believe there are other factors as well). I was satisfied with theschool itself and was happy Punky was accepted (it's a school of choice, so you enroll and hope not to be placed on a waiting list). Anyway, by the end of his school year, the school would be ranked as an A school. And that hasn't changed since.Sadly, Kindergarten did not go well for Punky.

Let me be clear in stating that I support public (and charter) schools. I think most good teachers are underpaid and not appreciated. I believe a child can have a wonderful experience in schools and can acquire a fantastic education. However, my child was suffering.

Punk's Kindergarten teacher was not one I would consider to be enthusiastic, pleasant or kind. She was nearing retirement, andI believe, no longer putting her best foot forward. I'm sure she was tired, overextended and jaded. She was never cruel (in my observation) but she did have some issues. This combined with a very emotional, sensitive child..well, they didn't mixwell. Punky cried every single day for 3 months when he arrived at school. Contrary to popular belief, my child did notjust "get over it" like many parents and teachers said would happen. His teacher said he would cry most of the morning and had trouble focusing. He wouldn't participate and sat quietly. He did do his work and scored well in tests. I was in the classroom often for meetings and conferences. After a huge struggle, we decided Punk would be best repeating kindergarten. He wasnot behind academically, but definitely in maturity.

So, the second year of Kindergarten was completely different than the first. He had a warm, happy, enthusiastic teacher whocared about her students as much as she cared for her own children. He did fabulously, and he enjoyed going to school. He still suffered some separation anxiety, but there was no crying. On to first grade we go!

First grade was pretty much a repeat of the second year of kindergarten. He enjoyed learning and did very well in his "studies".His teacher said Punky was reading at a much higher grade level and his math skills with above par. Things started to change, though,after little Monkey (our second child) arrived. The separation anxiety was once again rearing it's ugly head. There was crying,begging and whining. His teacher said Punk was starting to become unfocused. He couldn't pay attention for more than a few minutes and needed constant prodding. He was worrying about the smallest things, often asking outlandish questions with utmost sincerity. What seemed small and unimportant to us, became huge worries for my little man. Thankfully, first grade came toan end.

This year started off ok. He was all smiles and genuinely happy about going back to school. However, in just a few days, this changed dramatically. He was once again crying, worrying and was scared. I was called into a conference by his teacher, who said Punky was by far the smartest in the class. I am not exaggerating in the least. These were her words exactly. He could answer test questionsand participate in discussions without doing any practice work or even paying attention. However, she said mornings were tough on him. He had friends, but was having difficulty participating with the group in the morning. He was visibly scared of something and she tried coaxing it out of him on a number of occasions to no avail. He would only state that he was scared and wanted to go home. She said he was missinghis parents terribly. She also said he was having difficulty focusing and paying attention. When I told her my ideas for homeschooling, she was both supportive and willing to help. After doing a lot of research, my husband and I decided it wasbest to pull Punk out of school and begin homeschooling. His teacher offered to give us all of his materials, including workbooksand journals. I visited the library, did a lot of internet researching, talked to other homeschooling parents and so muchthinking that it hurt. :) But in the end, we knew we were making the best decision for our son.

Do I think homeschooling is the best decision for everyone? Absolutely not. Do I know there will be challenges and that it willbe hard at times? Of course. Have I thought of ways to make sure Punky is around both children his own age and people younger/olderthan he is? Yes, without a doubt. We are also going to seek medical advice for the separation anxiety and fears. Will we behomeschooling through high school? We're not sure. We can only say that for this year, we are homeschooling. One day he maygo back to public (charter) school or he may end up doing a virtual public education. He may continue homeschooling. All I can say is that we will keep Punk as our number one priority and do what's best for him. Over 2 million children are homeschooled inthis country. We are not alone.

Our homeschooling approach will be an eclectic one. We are going to combine a number of different methods, including the Charlotte Mason Method, unit study and whole heart approach. What this means is we will be focusing on reading, writing and mathas our core basics but will incorporate unit studies of interest to my son. We will also focus on narration, reading livingbooks and hands-on activities. Alex has a great interest right now in the solar system. I have created a unit based on this..whichincorporates reading, writing, math, science projects, field trips, etc. We also do some worksheets throughout the day, as well as use computer software and educational DVD's to enhance the ideas we are learning about. Our telescope and microscope will come in handy as well. Journaling and nature walks/sketching are also of importance. Remember, this is all subject to change, at any given time.

Our first week of homeschool has gone really well. It definitely helps that my husband is home during the day, so there are twoparents at home who can help with the schooling. Plus, it's much easier when both parents are home to help with the littlestone. We can focus our complete attention on homeschooling while the other has complete attention for the the baby. The biggest challenge is getting Punky to understand that he needs to let go of some schooling he's already received. For instance, I asked him to write something about the spaceship book we just read. Sort of a narration/essay type of thing. I didn't give him any restrictions, just that he had to write something..anything. I want to foster his own creative mind, instead of me telling him what to write, how to write it, etc. So, he said, "How many sentences do I have to write?" I said, "A few. Whatever you want. Whatever amount says exactly what you wantto write." He said, "Ok, how many words?" I said, "Whatever amount you want. Just remember to write down everything youwant to say about what you learned today." He said, "But Mom, the teacher tells us what to write. And then we write it."ugh. I said, "Remember how you just write something for fun? It's about anything you want and is what YOU wanted to write?Well, I'm asking you to just write anything you want about spaceships. It can be about what's inside, what it looks like,what it does..or you can write a story and pretend you're an astronaut on the spaceship. It doesn't matter. Just write."And he got a huge grin on his face. He wrote half a page about the spaceship and then drew a cool picture (and fairly accurate)depiction of a spaceship in outer space. Normally, part of his homework at school consisted of writing at least 3 sentences a night, plus all his spelling words. I can't even begin to tell you what a struggle this was for me. Math and reading he was fine with..but writing..good god that was rough. He HATED writing. I want him to enjoy writing..even if that means just letting himwrite anything at all...anything that comes to mind...until he is strong enough to get the basics of composition/essay writing. The day he wrote about the spaceship, he wrote more on that one page than he did the entire week for homework. With no struggle, mind you. And I'm pretty sure he used words, on is own, that you won't find on a second graders spelling sheet: atmosphere, satellite, meteoroid......

Other than that "unschooling" issue, everything is great. He already reads at a much higher level so we've just kept readingaloud and reading on our own. He's also started a Reader Rabbit Grammar CDRom for 3rd graders (2nd grade was too easy for him and bored him. But he loves the new one). As far as math goes, we've done a few worksheets, played math games and used math manipulators to practice math skills. Since we are doing unit studies (space and the solar system currently), I have chosen to not incorporate history/geographyuntil next month. During my research, I learned that mixing the two (science and history) can sometimes be confusing and a stretch. So, next month, we'll be concentrating on history/geography when we study the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving. Art and music are being taught as well. We are keeping it simple at this early of an age. Art is used during activities basedon the unit of study. For example, he drew a mural of the solar system the other day. Music is fairly easy at this ageas well. I've chosen to play as many different kinds of music I can get my hands on. We will study different forms, techniques, etc throughout the year. Also, Punky and I plan on writing a song about the solar system to help him memorize the planets and their order. Our projects have already included building and painting a model solar system and creating a space mural. We also have planned making a space diorama, building a paper space station, using the telescope to learn about the constellations and visiting the Kennedy Space Center and Astronaut Museum.

We're only a week in, but we've found some homeschooling support groups and co-ops to join. I'm sure as time goes on, we'll increase our time outside the home. For now, we are focusing on getting the academic part going first..and we'll move onfrom there. The library has some excellent resources and activities that Punk is excited to participate in as well. And, oddly enough, the family will be going to church on Sunday. If you know us, you know that this is an odd choice. I've alwaysbeen a spiritual person, but I struggled with the idea and purpose of a church. Plus, they often promote some things I do not believe in. I'm a very liberal democrat if that tells you anything. ;)

However, Punky has been asking a lot of questions lately about God and Jesus..so I did a little researchabout some churches and found one, that I believe, fits us pretty well. We'll be attending our first serviceon Sunday morning. Hopefully, this will help answer some of Punky's questions. Also, it will get him involved with otherchildren (many of whom are homeschooled). I've always been a huge advocate of letting your child choose his own religion.I never wanted to push anything on him or make him feel like he had to be like his parents, religiously speaking. But since he is asking so many questions and expressing an interest in Christianity, we will try to accommodate his needs. If he asks about Judaism or any other religion, I will do my best to foster those interests as well. Again, if this church or church in general turns out to be not what we had hoped, we will figure something else out and move on. Again, everything is subject to change.

There you have it. Our reasons behind homeschooling and what it means for MY family. You may not agree with everything I have said here, but you must understand, my husband and I are doing what's best for OUR family..not yours. Our children will always be our number one priority. We'll do whatever it takes to raise happy, healthy, independent and intelligent children. If that means not conforming to the norm. So be it. If it means doing things that not everyone agrees with, so be it. Don't worry, we've got it under control. ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Britney, Bitch!







Last night I went to see Britney Spears with my Mom at Amway Arena. Her and my Dad had given me the tickets for my 33rd birthday. Funny how I'm getting these tickets at 33 years of age..and I'm as giddy as a teenager. I've wanted to see her perform, live and in person, for 11 years now. I've basically worshipped the ground she walked on. Yes, she has had some trouble. She has suffered and recovered. She has made mistakes and bad choices. But she's beautiful, naive, strong and is one hell of an entertainer. She's a mother of 2 boys, has seen enough heartache in her lifetime and copes with daily struggles. I don't condone her drug use or her behavior at times...I'm not even sure she's a role model I'd want my children to admire. But I know the difference between right and wrong..I can make my own choices based on my own thoughts/ideas/experiences/morals. I do not need Britney to make them for me, like a child or teen would. So, yes, I love Britney. Always have, always will. Her dancing, her music, her videos, her style, her beauty...






I wrote the following email for a friend, and wanted to include it here as a memento of the experience:






Ok, So Mom got here at 5pm and we left for the arena. Should have only been about 50 minutes..took us 90 minutes due to a bad storm and traffic on I4 going very slow. We were able to park in the first lot next to the arena, in a handicapped space because my Dad purchased a parking ticket for us (Mom has a handicap pass).

So, we got there at 6:30, which is when the doors opened. We were literally the third "couple" to go in. So, we immediately went to see where our seats were.

AND THEY WERE EXCELLENT.

We were in the first section on one end of the stage. The stage was in the round so there was no "front". It took nearly the entire floor of the arena so we were CLOSE. I mean, CLOSE. The pics won't show how close we were (since they never seem as close in pics as in person).

After we found our seats (and we end the end of the row), we went to look around. Found a security guard to take our pic with a Britney poster and he said we could take pics. Yay. Bought a cool tote bag and key chain. Grabbed a soda and cinnamon roasted pecans and walked around some more. Saw people of all ages, races and sexual orientation. LOL Lots of stripper wannabes, children and old people! I was shocked at the amount of people my age and my Mom's age. I didn't feel uncomfortable AT ALL.

So, at 8pm, we grab our seats and there is an empty seat in front of me. I think it may have been one of about 20 seats in the entire arena that weren't filled. It was packed.

First on stage was Kristina DeBurge (who sings Goodbye). She was good, but nothing special. Only sang 2 songs. Next up was OneCall..which is a new Johnny Write (Darkchild) group from Orlando. Reminded me of NSync. Very young. Good singers and good dancers but VERY cheezy. I laughed a lot.

Then Jordin Sparks took the stage. She sang "Battlefield", "Tattoo", "SOS", another hit I can't remember and then "No Air". She was great.

Then the 360 degree curtain above the center ring said "The Circus will start in 20 minutes". At 9pm. Now I'm getting way excited.

The Big Apple Circus came out and about 20 performers from there did their thing..included sword swallowers, contortionists, acrobats, etc

At 1 minute to go, I'm getting crazy hyped. Everyone stands and starts cheering and clapping. I'm ready to cry and I'm holding my breath. Had to remember to breathe.

At 10 seconds, everyone yells the countdown. The arena goes dark. The curtain comes all the way down to the floor. This curtain takes up almost the entire floor of the arena and goes in a complete circle. A movie starts and I hear "Break The Ice" in the background. The movie is Perez Hilton dressed as a Queen of the freak show. There are all sorts of freaks and clowns in the movie...and Perez is telling us all about the circus that will be before us. He says Ms. Spears is the ringleader. I'm screaming at this point. I just want to cry. Everyone around us is my age and screaming as well. I'm so psyched!!!

The curtain goes up, and Britney comes down, dressed in a robe, from the ceiling, She takes off the robe, we see her blonde hair and blinging outfit. Everyone goes bananas. She says, "It's Britney Bitch." Bananas I tell you.

From here on in, it's a whirlwind. She was all over the stage, we were so close, I could see her sweating. Her dancing is AMAZING. I sit for only like 10 minutes the entire time. She sang:

Circus
Piece of Me (from a cage that gets wheeled around the set)
Radar (from stripper poles, very cool)
OOh ooh baby/Hot As Ice (where they make her magically appear and they cut her in half)
Boys (with acrobatic bicyclist all over)
If You Seek Amy
Me Against The Machine (bollywood style, beautiful)
Freak Show
Get Naked
Breathe On Me/Touch of My Hand medley (she gets carried up high in the air, with only a guy holding her..so cool)
Do Something (with handheld fireworks)
I'm A Slave For You (she gets hoisted up in a cup like thing that makes it look like she's magically floating and below her, the entire stage is on fire)
Every time (She sang it live on an umbrella that swings all over the set). Afterwords, when the stage went dark, she ran over and kissed her 2 little boys on the side of the stage.
Toxic
Baby One More Time Remix


There were 50 acrobats and dancers all over the place. There was never a dull moment. So much to look at. The movie screen was way cool and enhanced the show. There was fireworks, showers of confetti, fire, magic, etc. It was incredible.

Then the curtain goes all the way to the floor and it's a humongous movie of all her videos. Then the curtain lifts and she's dressed as a cop, and sings Womanizer as her encore.

IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!!! Mom and I just had so much fun. I almost cried at the beginning and then again during "Baby One More Time" because I couldn't believe 11 years later, of loving her to death, I was finally seeing her!!! It really was a dream come true. Sounds really dumb..I mean, it's Britney Spears. But I've wanted this so badly for 11 years. It's hard to explain.

But my Mom totally got it. I'm so glad she went with me, because she made it so much fun. She danced and sang and stood with me the whole time. She yelled, screamed for Britney and went bananas too. We were both on the verge of tears together. I tell you, she's the best!

It was literally one of the best nights of my life. And Mom and I are planning the next Britney tour. We're going to save our money and get those coveted floor seats (where about 100 ppl stand next to the stage).

Stacy, I can't say this enough. IT WAS INCREDIBLE.



Saturday, August 29, 2009

Second Grade

Dear Punky,

This week you started second grade. I was nervous, because last year ended badly for you. You seemed to cry every morning. because you were "scared" to go to school. You didn't pay attention to the teacher and had difficulty finishing your work. Your teacher loved you and thought you were one of the smartest of the first graders, but you just weren't paying attention the second half of the year. I knew it was because of your baby brother. It was a hard adjustment for you. Not because you were jealous of him, but because you weren't the baby anymore. Plus, you missed us when we weren't around. I think your baby brother took a lot of the time we used to give you for 8 years...and it was making you anxious, nervous and tired. You weren't acting out by being "bad" or creating attention. You withdrew at school, and missed us so much when we weren't around. So, I was nervous about second grade.

On your first day, you woke up and the tears started to come. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. But, you stopped the tears and put on your Spiderman backpack. You left for school with Daddy (because you said you would miss me too much if I went with you), and tears welled up in my eyes. I shut the door, and cried many many tears. When Daddy returned from dropping you off, he said you did wonderful. You were excited to show your school supplies to your new friends and you barely had time to tell Daddy goodbye.

There are no more tears. Your teacher has already sent a note home that says you are doing great. You've made friends and you've come home excited about your day.

I'm so proud of you Punky. Your first week of second grade went great!!!!

Love, Mama

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For My Family.....

I realized I never wrote a post about what I'm doing this blog for. I don't really care if no one ever reads it. I'm not writing it to entertain anyone or make money. I'm not writing it in the hopes that I'll one day win a prize or award. I'm writing it as a journal. A way to keep track of the little things for my family. Maybe one day it will be more..but for now..I'm content that I'm the only one reading this.

Punky Says.....

I said to Punky last night, "I don't want you to grow up."
He said, "Mom, I'm sorry. There is no way you can fix this. Little boys become teenagers and then grow into adults. I'm sorry, but this is important."

He makes me laugh.

Moments later, he pointed to me and said, "Look at that heroic chin! And those monkey ears!"

hmph. monkey ears, eh????

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I Wish...


I have many wishes. I hope some come true in my lifetime.



  • I wish I didn't worry so much.

  • I wish I had saved more and spent less in my 20's.

  • I wish I had more of a need for fancy shoes.

  • I wish I wore more skirts and dresses and less jeans and shorts.

  • I wish I didn't read/watch stories about abuse of children. It upsets me too much.

  • I wish I didn't get so frustrated with my husband and had more patience with him.

  • I wish I never had to raise my voice with my children.

  • I wish I cooked healthier food and that my family would eat it.

  • I wish I could lose weight with a pill, or a twitch of the nose.

  • I wish I had a maid.

  • I wish I wasn't so stubborn.

  • I wish I had graduated from college with a more practical degree.

  • I wish skinny jeans didn't exist..or that I would look good in them.

  • I wish the Christmas season would last all year long.

  • I wish that I could sing, play the piano or knit.

  • I wish my family would never get sick or hurt.

  • I wish I travelled more.

  • I wish I wasn't so afraid to talk to new people.

  • I wish my kids would always be so innocent and little.

I wish the beach was in my backyard.