Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January 1-10, 2015

New Year's & Friends

We rang in the New Year with our really good friends as we have done for the last few years--well, actually, we skipped last year because I had had surgery.  Celebrating New Year's with them has become a tradition and it feels good to have friends close enough to share a tradition with.  The girls had a sleepover, as they have been doing for years.  Allie had grown apart from this group of friends, in large part because she is a little bit older than this group of kids, but as these kids get older and the American Girl dolls and pretend games are forgotten and these kids are into movies and music and make-up and talking, Allie is reconnecting with them which makes me very happy.
Piper was the sparking cider bartender at the kids' party downstairs.

Yoga Challenge

I have committed myself to a 30 day yoga challenge and a 21 day meditation challenge.  Both have been awesome.  Between work, homeschooling, managing our home, taking the girls' to activities...I just often can't fit in a studio yoga class, so I love online yoga classes.  Yoga with Adriene is probably one of my favorite youtube yoga channels.  Adriene is so funny and real and I would love to hang out with her.  I do have a regular yoga practice, maybe not every single day, but at least a few times a week so it's not super hard for me to discipline myself to get on the mat for thirty days in a row and the promise of a new class, wanting to see what yogic journey Adriene leads us on keeps me looking forward to getting on the mat every day.

Meditation Challenge

The 21 Day Meditation Challenge is from the physical therapy/yoga studio where Andrea who used to blog at Saying Yes to Two Boys and Life works.  Each day they write a post and encourage you to meditate for 5, 10 or 15 minutes.  I have a hard time with monkey brain and can usually only do about 5 minutes, but it is getting easier with regular practice.  I also am finding that some days, after my yoga, I search for a 5 minute guided meditation on youtube and listen to that which helps me to stay focused on my breath.

We had some stress with Jason's car this week and the yoga and meditation helped to keep me more centered and calm.


Jason and Allie signed up to be part of a homeschool ski and snowboard group.  They went for the first time on Monday.  They had a lesson and rode boards for a few hours.  They both loved it, even though they fell a lot and were super sore the next day.  It makes me so happy that they are sharing this activity and learning together.


Piper started a new pottery class.  It worked out so well.  She had been signed up for a different class at a studio that often seems to cancel classes because of lack of enrollment.  Someone had told me about a different studio in Princeton and I called and they were offering a homeschool pottery class ON THE SAME DAY and time that Allie has activities in Princeton.  It worked out so well.  So happy that we still end up with two FULL DAYS at home--we are just not effective when we are running all hither and yon.

Writing Club

The girls in our writing club are HUGE Supernatural and Walking Dead fans.  I don't watch either show, so I never know what in the heck they are talking about.  But, I decided to parlay all of that talking into some fanfiction, an idea that was very well received.  For our meeting this week, they all brought pictures of their favorite character or characters.  We discussed certain traits of the characters and "shipped" the characters--I am learning so much from this group!  Shipping is what the kids call getting two people together and then you make a "ship name" like Brangelina or Bennifer.  They "shipped" their characters and had to tell me what about their character's personality made them choose the other person.  Then, they chose a writing prompt out of a hat.  Some of the possible prompts were:


The girls started the new year by writing letters to their future selves.  They wrote about their hopes and dreams, what they like and are interested in now, who their friends are and what they do with their friends.  We tucked the letters away to be opened at a much later date.  I put them in my grandmother's wooden keepsake box.  Hopefully I will remember to get the letters out and read them in a few years!

Word Up Vocab and Jason's vocabulary illustration journal were a hit!

Jason worked through American Chemical Society Middle School Chemistry Chapter 4 Lesson 1 with the girls over the weekend.  Allie had a lot more static electricity than Piper.  After rubbing a balloon on her hair and then turning the faucet on a steady but slow stream, she could make the water move toward the balloon.  She could also take water, put it in a container and have the water jump up to the balloon when she holds the balloon over the water.

We watched the first Crash Course Chemistry video and all agreed that we love John and Hank Green.  The girls spent quite a bit of time journaling about what they learned in their new science journals and drew detailed pictures of the nucleus of an atom.

The girls are both required to conduct one independent experiment per month and complete a Scientific Method report.  Piper wanted to see if a thermos, a cup with aluminum foil wrapped around it or a cup with cotton batting and a handkerchief around it would keep an ice cube frozen longer; the thermos worked best. Allie rolled sixteen sheets of regular printer paper into tubes, secured them with tape and was able to balance books on top of them.

After a small issue with the headset for Rosetta Stone, we have begun our Italian study.  So far, so good and I am pretty impressed with how much we have learned so far.

We also watched CNN Student News again.  I struggled with the news this fall.  ISIS and beheadings and cop killings and the like put me in a very dark place and I don't like to live my life that way and I especially do not like to START our day that way.  So, we took a break.  But we returned to it this week because I do miss having the girls have a news source and so far, so good.  Although, I promised myself that I will take care of myself and the girls and turn the darn thing OFF at the first sign of something dark.

The girls worked through several lessons in their Teaching Textbooks Math software.  Allie is learning about Rational Equations and Piper is working on Adding & Subtracting Fractions.  They both got grades in the high 80s and 90s (Allie got 100% on one assignment).  If they get below an 80, we go over the problems they got wrong together.


Allie is such a reader.  She has always loved to stay up late reading or just curl up in her bed with a book once she is done with anything she has to do for the day.  She got a memory foam pad for her bed for Christmas and now her bed is even more comfortable!  Oftentimes, she is already awake in the morning when I get up, just laying in bed reading.  She reads mostly YA and I can't keep up with her.  I just let her go at this point and read what interests her.

I took a break from reading about immigrants in New York City to read this awesome book of short stories by YA authors.  I loved the stories by Rainbow Rowell (I LOVED Eleanor & Park) and Gayle Forman (I loved if i stay)  and David Levithan and Matt de la Pena (I have to look for more books by these guys).  Now I am back to my gritty Brooklyn immigrant stories and I am becoming a fast fan of Pete Hamill.

New Car

In 2001, Jason and I bought our first brand-new car together (we had bought a couple of used cars before that).  It was a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.  We got it the weekend before 9/11 and always remembered that the night BEFORE 9/11, we were cruising around in our new car, enjoying the way it handled with our adorable, healthy almost 2 year old in the backseat, I was almost finished with my first trimester of pregnancy with Piper (so feeling pretty good about that) and we just felt ON TOP OF THE WORLD....and then the next day....well, the world changed.  But we LOVED that car.  It really was fun to drive and handled so well and I felt I could get into any parking spot with that car.  We sank some money into it last year and again this year and we started talking about and thinking about replacing it, but kept hoping we could get more time.  This last week was REALLY COLD here, colder than average and the car did not fare well and we decided it was time.  It's stressful to spend that kind of money when you aren't expecting it, but I am glad that Jason has a reliable car.  I've had the last several brand new cars while he has been driving the Jetta, so I felt it was only right that he had his pick and got the multimedia upgrade and the moonroof upgrade.  

We ended up making the experience into a financial lesson with the girls.  Was it better to pay cash or finance?  Which model was the best bang for your buck?  How much money does good fuel mileage really save?  But what is the impact on the environment?  We learned about continuously variable transmissions as opposed to 6 speed automatic transmissions and 5 speed manual transmissions.  We taught the girls about how we manage money.  We have an account for stuff like this and we can use it for vacation or fun stuff if nothing like this pops up.  We are probably not going on the Homeschool Disney trip this year (which is fine with me as I am not a huge Disney person--but Jason and the girls wanted to go when they heard about learning about light refraction in the Haunted Mansion).  My idea for vacation this year was Maine/Acadia National Park and we should still be able to do that!