Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homework Blues

My 5th Grader enjoying a frozen treat as a reward

After this past weekend, I am once again reminded why some parents will do a child's project as opposed to letting their child do their own work.

It is much easier!

As opposed to coaching, cajoling and policing all weekend.... which is what we had to do. Teachers may give three weeks for students to work on an assignment but the kids like to compress this into three days.

As promised, as a reward for working hard and completing this project, I took Colin out for ice cream. We (Colin, hubby & myself) have another presentation to have completed within the next few days. Thankfully Colin has a good chunk done.

I am reminded of my college days, group projects and why my pants are getting tighter. I guess seeing your child succeed is enough of a reward. Next time Hubby can partake in the after-project treat!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Bike Ride

An Unexpected Festival

This afternoon I spent an hour or two starting to clear my flower beds and garden of dead plants and other plant debri. Afterwards I talked two of my boys into taking a bike ride to get some Rita's Italian Ice. I thought this would be a great idea to get some exercise before I showered and did some laundry.

I should have known that when I was looking all grungy and sweaty, sans makeup, I would run into several people I know.....

Turns out the last part of our route that takes us through the local High School parking lot, was the staging grounds for a festival/fundraiser for our local Historical Society.

Devon & Colin stumbled upon the bargain of the day:
Yu-Gi-O Cards - 3 for 25 cents

We parked too close to one of the booths.
I had several offers on our bikes.

Turns out Rita's had a booth at the fair,
which saved us the extra block or two ride.
Colin bought the Swedish Fish-flavored ice;
hence the bright red smile!

Home at last!
Looking & smelling ever so lovely.

Friday, September 17, 2010

RFA : How to Deal With a SmartyPants?

In the business world, RFP is well known as a Request For Proposal. My plea in the blogosphere for a RFA is a Request For Advice. This one goes out to the parents who have made it through the teenage years.

My eldest son, who is a bit of a smart mouth, is also a bit of a night owl. He will stay up late on a school night reading or finishing up homework. He often will stay up until after 11:00 p.m. Repeated warnings about being past his bedtime are met with a smirk. ( I'm not sure he has a set bedtime).

He has mornings down to a science. He gets up at the last moment possible, allowing 45 minutes to get up, dressed, eat breakfast and walk to school. After school there is cross-country practice every afternoon followed by swimming 3 of these nights. Which leaves little spare time for frivolities.

Last night when I took my youngest son to the library to get some books for a project, my eldest came along to pick up some books as well. After the boys checked out their respective stack of books, I noticed one of the books that I am not fond of. Naruto. (a anime comic book)

The issue:
After dinner, during what was supposed to be homework time, I discovered my middle-schoolers hunched over their Naruto books. They scattered like cockroaches when I asked if all their homework was done.

I expressed concern about said reading and mentioned a possible ban on these books. I also stated that homework needs to be done before reading comics. As I was scolding the boys, my 13 year old spoke out.

"That's really MY business" he proclaimed.

"Excuse me?!!!" I shot back, in disbelief at his insolence.

"If I don't finish my homework, I will suffer the consequences. It's MY responsibilty." was the retort.

I took a step back, speechless. In a way he is right. And he is an Honor Roll Student. So far.

The question for parents who have been through this:

How do you respond? What would you do?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farewell to Summer Vacation

Flying the Friendly Skies

On Labor Day Weekend I took my middle son for a trip to Connecticut to see my Uncle Marvin. He will be 90 this December and this was the last weekend I could safely take a trip before I get busy at work. The last time I went for a visit, I took my eldest boy. I love the quality one-on-one time with my kids. It is also less stressful for all with only one child in tow.

Alex took this shot of the clouds outside his window
at 6:45 in the morning

Alex taking a bite of what he swears to be
the best pizza he has ever had!

We had a brief layover and plane change in Philly with enough time to grab breakfast. I had a croissant and Alex opted for a slice of pizza at 8:30 a.m. as he already had breakfast at home at 5:00 a.m.

Afternoon Visit

We landed in White Plains which has to be the smallest commercial airport I have ever been in.
I rented a car and drove through winding roads dotted with nice estate homes till we reached the highway to Norwalk, Ct. We were able to get checked into our hotel, freshen-up and make it to my Uncle's place in time for lunch.

We had a nice visit. There were several pianos in his complex and my uncle coaxed Alex into giving a few "concerts". I promised Alex as long as he would play piano "on demand", he could have pizza for every meal. He agreed but decided that Dunkin Donuts would be his choice for breakfast.
Taking Marv for a spin around his compound

As promised, pizza for dinner at Italia in Norwalk;
I opted for the Eggplant Rollatini

New York, New York
Saturday morning, after we had breakfast at Dunkin' Donuts, we took a train from S. Norwalk, Ct to Grand Central Station. I had printed out maps the night before for directions to a few of the places we wanted to visit. Our first stop, Sony Wonder Labs was a walkable .6 miles. However, we doubled the distance by a wrong turn out of the train station.

During our brisk walk, Alex noticed that there appeared to be a coffee shop on every street corner. He remarked,
"No wonder New York is the city that never sleeps! There's a Starbuck's on every corner!"
Sony Wonder Technology Lab

When we finally arrived, we were able to get tickets (Free!) and were first in line for this hands-on technology museum. Alex had fun playing with lots of cool gadgets and had a chance to get "on camera" to report on the weather. He was filmed against a blue screen which made the blue graphic on his shirt into a "window".

Future Reporter?

Next stop: The American Museum of Natural History

This time we decided to take a cab!

Wall in the main entry hall

Feeling a bit small

Largest Collection of Real Dinosaur Bones

We were advised by a docent to go the the 4th Floor to see the Dinosaur exhibit. The museum is famous for having the largest collection of REAL dinosaur fossils in the world!

We also spent a bit of time in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. I was fascinated by the Ecosphere. This was an entire ecosystem in a sealed environment complete with tiny fish swimming around.

Another highlight were the scales that show what your weight would be on the Sun, Moon and other planets.
This is waaay cooler than Sea-Monkeys!

Diet be damned, Fly me to the moon!

Lunch at the Museum Cafe.

Next up: Central Park

Folk concert on the edge of the Central Park 22 acre lake

Central Park was the highlight of my excursion into the Big Apple. I had no idea how gigantic this park is! At approximately 843 acres, this park was much more magnificent than I had imagined.
Located directly across from the Natural History Museum, we simply crossed the street, made our way past the Pedi-cabs and followed a path down into what seemed like another world.

The small patch we visited, was complete with horse-drawn carriages, a wedding party, a folk concert, cyclists, runners, boaters, hikers and tourists. Next time I am back in the city, I will allot more time to visit this haven.

Back to Connecticut

Having promised to be back by dinnertime, we took a cab from Central Park back to the Grand Central to catch the train back to S. Norwalk. We enjoyed the hour-plus ride back being entertained by a group of middle-aged women that were getting their drink on. Between their shameless ogling of the attractive, young train-worker and their salty language, Alex got quite an earful. These "train-wreck"s provided a great reinforcement of his D.A.R.E. training of the dangers of drugs and alcohol!

The rest of the trip we spent visiting with my uncle.

Reviewing old photographs,

and on Sunday before we left, we picked up lunch.....PIZZA! from the highly-touted "Wilton Pizza". Alex enjoyed this tasty treat but still claims that Sbarro's is the best!

After some minor difficulties with my rental-car's Garmin Nuvi (we got a bit lost near the airport) and a souvenir ( Newton's Cradle) that triggered a baggage search, we were on our way back home!

On our final leg, one of the flight attendants was a former employee of mine from a decade ago.

Amazing how time flies!

Alex's hands were a bit shakey due to a long day of travel
and a caffeine-buzz. (I let him drink regular Coke)