Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Circus School - All That I Hoped For

My first encounter with The Circus Place left me full of anticipation. I loved what I saw and I eagerly signed Gavin & Mikey up for a daytime class for homeschoolers. I liked a lot of what I saw right away. The class was multi-aged, boys and girls, complete beginners and kids who had dabbled a little already in 'circusy skills'.

The class always warms up. I've seen yoga, cardio, strength training, stretching, breathing exercises,  mediatative exercises and even interpersonal skills being practiced during this time. We have had the benefit of several different instructors - all with different styles, and all effective with the kids.

I am really happy with the scope of skills the class has been exposed to.

Tightrope, juggling, aerial silks, trapeze, peddle-gos, diablo, crystal sticks, improvisation, and showman skills have all been introduced to the kids. The kids are permitted to gravitate to what they are most drawn to and their skills are fostered.

The energy at The Circus Place is calm and positive and welcoming. One afternoon I had Ethan with me. Craig Quat was instructing and casually invited Ethan to join them. I don't often get to see Ethan participate in that way and he was calm and happy through the entire class. I was fascinated by what I saw.

It's just a magical place. Take my word for it.

My boys have never been interested in performing for a group or on stage, but that seems to be waning with their new-found abilities!

I see my boys developing extrordinary balance, eye hand coordination, core strength and flexibility, confidence and persistence and doing all kinds of great things with their bodies and minds.

Circus Place - for body, mind and spirit!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Learning Resource Center Network - Summer/Homeschooling Resource

(please excuse the iphone photos - it was the best I could do at the time!)

Last week I left The Learning Resource Center in Morris Plains with Cuisenaire Jumbo Reading Rods, a Geometry Activity Kit, and the Making Cents board game. The total on my receipt was $294.95. But I paid nothing. The receipt shows the 'replacement cost' for the items that I BORROWED.

NJ maintains four Learning Resource Centers located throughout the state. I first came across it when utilizing their services for children with special needs. I joined for the bargain price of $2/year. The center has a lot a really neat features valuable to homeschoolers as well as supplemental educational activities for summer.

The center offers thousands of Ellison Die Cuts for use. If you bring your own cardboard, construction paper, velum, felt, etc. using the cuts are free. Check out this link for what you can do with Ellison Die Cuts.

There is also a 'poster maker' and a laminator that can be used for $.25 a foot. There are tons of ideas all over the walls and in stacks of 'idea books'.

The center also has shelves full of professional/parent books on varying topics regarding education and development. There is a whole room dedciated to preschool books, curriculum and kits.

The whole place is stocked with video series' like those from Schlessinger Media and kits and games from places like Lakeshore. There are tons more like these....

  and these...
 and these...

We've taken out games on fractions, kits about Simple Machines, math board games, story starter cards, manipulatives, speech therapy practice cards and much more.

Borrowing periods are three weeks with the ability to call and renew for three more weeks. They have been very friendly and helpful to me as a homeschooler and I definately recommend checking them out - and then 'checking out' some fun things to play with your kids. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Special Olympics - Ethan Carries The Torch

Ethan recently participated in our county's Special Olympics Track & Field Events. We had not participated in several years because it was always a difficult day for Ethan (and his brothers, oh, and us) with lots of waiting and lots of transitions. But when he came home from school asking to train and compete, who was I to say 'no'? Shortly before the event, he was asked to carry the torch around the track for the opening ceremonies. We were honored and excited!

Greeting friends.
Pictures for the iPod.
Aunt Meg.
Ready for opening ceremonies.
Two handsome guys.
The wait.

The hand off.

So serious.

Three amigos.

Softball throw.

Soccer clinic.

Run, E, run.

More awards.

Thanks, Sandy, for this awesome photo of my boy. Not an easy shot to get.

"Let me win, but if I cannot win,
let me be brave in the attempt." 
~ Special Olympics Motto

Special thanks to The Midland School for their dedication in training their athletes and making the day so meaningful for them. Thank you for the opportunity to see Ethan have this experience.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Washington, DC Wonders

Our recent trip to DC was our longest trip in the car and the longest we've stayed in a hotel - 3 whole nights! If you don't think that's a big deal, you haven't spent enough time with us :)

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express that worked really well for us. Big enough room, fridge, pool and an hourly shuttle to Union Station, which is really important to access the Metro or any number of tour buses. We availed ourselves of one of the bus companys, and although it was expensive, it was like hand-holding for the first-time visitor. The top deck gave us a fantastic view and the tour is narrated by guides to point out the famous spots. You can 'hop on and hop off' anytime to go and see the sights closer. And we did.

Our first stop was the National Zoo. The zoo was landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead, who landscaped Central Park. It had a lot of animals that we had not seen before, but the most fascinating by far was the giant panda.

In the evening, we walked the Mall and visited the Washington Monument...

The World War II tribute...

The Lincoln Memorial....

Several sources mentioned that seeing these sights in the evening was particularly beautiful and I had to agree.

The view down to mall from the steps of the memorial.

Mr. Lincoln,

meet The Boyz.

 and The Vietnam War Memorial.

Everyone warned us that we would need to walk, and walk, and walk. And we did.

Ethan has been walking around with a Washington, DC guidebook for about a year. He kept it in his hand the entire time and matched up each of the pictures with places that we visited, usually recognizing where we were before we did. Of particularl help, was this little deck of cards we received as a gift.

We visited Arlington National Cemetary. It is really an emotional experience with impressive visual impact. Seeing the sea of graves of men & women who chose to serve our country with their very lives (and knowing that it was only a portion of them) was awe-inspiring. 

The most profound experience in Arlington is watching the guards at the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. The very solemn and ceremonious 'Changing of the Guard' is so mesmerizing that we never even needed to tell the boys that they were to remain silent.

Although they tell you that you are on hallowed ground, no one really has to remind you once you're there.

We managed to get in visits to the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History. The kids did a lot of 'ooohing' and 'ahhhhing'. We saw the Hope Diamond! Ethan got to see the monkey from Night in the Museum 2!

We watched money being printed at the Bureau for Engraving and Printing. We walked through gardens and parks and threw coins in several fountains.

Whew! Washington DC offers and endless array of things to do and see and I have a list 10 times longer than this post of things I still want to see!

You know, for us, you never know how a trip like this is going to go. There is a lot to consider. We are a quirky and needy family - we've got a lot going on that can make travelling difficult. But when something like this goes so well, it gives me confidence that we are off to seeing more great things as we continue to expand our repetoire.

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!