Saturday, February 25, 2012

Senior year evaluation.

Two weeks ago we received SS's senior class evaluation and were pleasantly surprised. SS is developmentally on track to enter kindergarten in the fall with her same age peers. Unknowingly Ms. C prevented WWIII from erupting at home. Although P and I share the same core values and parenting style (as in fly by the seat of your pants), we have respectfully agreed to disagree about kinder preparedness, or just plain advancing on to any grade. I do not see anything wrong with waiting an extra year if a child is not ready, be it academically or emotionally. P is adamant that his children WILL attend school based on their chronological age. As it is the case with most things we feel strongly about, P is coming from an emotional place. His parents made the decision to have him repeat first grade and the man has had a boulder on his shoulder since. P is a rather sensitive soul, and it comes down to his embarrassment over being a year older than his classmates. I am sure the decision was made with the best of intentions and for his sole benefit. In the end, P is brilliant, has an amazing work ethic, and does well no matter what situation he faces; be it parenting at an early age, or finding himself in the abyss that is international adoption. So no harm done.

Then again, I am an August baby, the same month when school begins in Puerto Rico. As a matter of fact I had quite a few first days of school on my birthday. In other words, I do not know what I'm talking about because I have not walked a mile in P's shoes. Although I love my children more than anything I am brutally honest about their deficiencies. I must admit that when SS transitioned into the senior class I had reservations about her ability to succeed in kindergarten this fall. OK, freak out moment "OMG OUR KID STARTS KINDERGARTEN IN THE FALL!!!!!!!" What the heck? We just arrived at SFO the other day? Anyway, SS has made a lot of progress in the past few months. She does have work to do in some areas, but only in order to master the skills, she is not delayed in any of the areas tested.

Must send a shout out to Whatshername's Mummy because her advise led to SS's biggest improvement. WM suggested three sided pencils when I posted that SS still had difficulty writing even when using the fat pencils. The improvement is just amazing. Turns out the school was using the fat pencils and we provided them with the three sided ones for SS's use. Now the teachers are recommending them to other parents. Down side is that they are not sold at T@rget nor W@almart, found them in an office supply store. The upside is that they are not that expensive, worth every penny. There are some SS writing samples below.

Back to the brutal honesty part, we do feel that Ms. C was rather generous in some areas. It could also be a side of SS that she chooses to display only at school. The biggest shocker was her attention span and the fact that she listens to her teachers. Taking in consideration that she runs around here like she is strung out on meth, we were grateful that this won't become an issue at school. I will gladly put up with her manic antics at home, if it saves us a few trips to the principal's office, a place where JJ landed frequently due to his inability to be still.

We were also pleased that they have allowed SS to be herself, as in no longer trying to make her a pink wearing, doll loving girl. Some of the comments on her evaluation:

"One great thing about SS is that she likes what she likes. She doesn't worry about what others might think. She would rather play with the boys during the day, but gets along with everyone." We hope that she remains this way, because kids are vicious little creatures, especially girls. Aunt Michelle will back me up on that one.

"SS is adventurous, she likes to pretend that she is Buzz Lightyear or Batman. She is very expressive and makes lots of faces during the day." True, SS has no future as a professional poker player.

"SS did a great job identifying letters and sounds. We are working on her asking questions as opposed to making statements. She is improving but still needs work in this area." The latter is solely our fault. We did not focus on making her ask questions. However, she is catching on quickly. Two weeks ago SS would say "Milk please?," now she says "May I have some more milk please.?" That one is the best example because she drinks A LOT of milk.

"SS gets along well with all of the students. She can play with others or independently and enjoys her time at school. SS listens to her teachers and is generally easy going and happy." Say what? Our stinker can play independently and listens? Dude she so had us fooled.

SS is quite the dancer. She loves it when we play music and really gets into it." OK, my kids LOVE music, and yes they get into it, but neither is going to win D@ncing with the St@rs. What SS does not have in technique she certainly makes up for with her enthusiasm.

"When SS came into the senior room she really struggled with fine motor activities. She has improved so much. The tri-write pencils really helped her and we will continue using them here." Well, those tiny hands of hers did not exactly help.

This is a cute one. Next to "Understands that families share responsibilities of work and recreation" our angel answered "take care of me, we all clean, both make dinner together." Yes we both take care of SS, but I have no idea where she's been during dinner prep, because it is usually P or I, not both. And now we have to add bold face liar to SS's less than desirable qualities, because the kid doesn't clean after herself at home. But now we are eager to correct that, and yeah, our bad.

At her age SS should be able to work a puzzle of ten or more pieces. SS can easily put together a 25 piece puzzle in record time. One of her Christmas gifts was a set of six wooden (a must because she destroys the cardboard ones in no time) D*sney puzzles, and they are pretty much obsolete now, She has them all down.

Not everything is puppy dogs and rainbows. Areas of improvement include getting SS to answer when put on the spot by a teacher. Even when a teacher is certain that SS knows the answer, her go to answer is "to smile and say um," mainly because of shyness. Wait, shyness? Who takes over my daughter's brain at school? SS can easily count to 20, but likes to skip numbers, she knows the order, but chooses to skip. SS still has an aversion to last names. She knows her last names, but chooses to go by her nickname, not even her first name.

Wow, that's one long winded post, but at least we won't have to repeat the information three times (grandparents). When JJ was SS's age, he was doing simple math and his reading was amazing. So this laid back attitude towards academics goes against everything that I am. However, when we made the decision to bring SS home, we also made a commitment to make as smooth a transition as we could possibly achieve. We have let so much slide because our focus has been on attachment. When SS transferred to the senior room I was worried that our decision would result in academic delays for SS, but thankfully our minds are at ease.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lousy ill timing.

On Wednesday, P left home at 2:00 am and returned 24 hours later. Even better, he flew to So Cal for the day. Of course that would be the perfect timing for SS to wake up at 4:00 a.m. with a fever.The good thing about having hyperactive kids is that when they are under the weather it is obvious. I always knew when JJ was about to succumb to whatever bug was going around. Thankfully, it did not happen often. Also, JJ was an easy breezy patient, once he was medicated, hydrated, and placed in front of the boob tube all was well. SS gives the same "I'm lethargic get ready to nurse me" vibe, but unlike her brother there is nothing easy breezy about her. So on the day I needed P the most I was alone with Ms. "I'm sick thus I must be on top of you THE ENTIRE TIME whether I am asleep or awake."

It was a really long day, but it helped me realize what a long way we have come since SS's Velcro baby days. However, I was myself nursing a nasty cold and sinus infection. I had cough med with codeine that I could not take for the obvious reasons. I also had a very cranky SS whining that she needed to see her Baba ASAP. When I made the mistake of explaining where he was, SS threw a fit because she did not get to go on the plane. Oh well, why have kids if one is not willing to have precious moments like these.

SS is now fever free, but her cold is lingering and while she does not have to be on me constantly, she needs to be by me. When P came home for lunch today, SS engaged in her "I'm going to distract you two and prevent any meaningful conversation strategy" . After all, she IS the center of the universe, P , JJ and I merely orbit around her. Since she's much better we practiced some tough love. SS was not pleased, but we stood our ground. Ah, but SS is the ultimate grudge holder and when it came time to bid adieu she refused to kiss Baba. Unlike her previous grudge, SS can't really stay mad at her Baba. SS relented and gave hugs and kisses. P noticed that the past few days were catching up with me and jokingly tried to diffuse the situation with humor, but did not have the last laugh.

P: SS be good to Mama, give her some space. She is the Mama lion and can bite your head off
because you are her cub. (I was not thrilled, but P tends to say some off the wall things and
is not about to change).
SS: (Without missing a beat) JJ is her cub too and he IS my BIG brother.

She followed that gem by laughing her non existing tushie off about her own wit (did I mention my husband and children do not have an ounce of modesty?) Ha! SS has a bodyguard for life and knows how to use him. On the developmental side it is good that she got the analogy, and that she fully understands and is (hopefully) comfortable with the concept that they are siblings and are ours. That is quite a tall order for a child who spent her first sixteen months in a homogenous environment, only to fall through the rabbit hole and end up as a real life Modern Family. That makes up for schlepping a 34 pound child around for two days, and would gladly do it again. Below, SS's interpretation of an even cooler Buzz costume.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big girl bed.

By Halloween SS had made it abundantly clear that she wanted a "big girl bed." She has left her crib on her own once, we filmed her reenacting her escape, and she never did it again. She would call for one of us and patiently wait. Must admit that we were spoiled, because we did not have to worry about her wandering around in the middle of the night, getting into G0d knows what kind of mischief. Then again there's the fact that SS needs to have someone or something close to her when she sleeps. That security was provided by her crib, whenever she slept in it.

But the kid is rapidly approaching her fifth birthday and it is time to let go. Two months ago P did the conversion, and we got ready for SS's transition into Big Girl Land. Said transition was short lived, because SS's idea of a big girl bed vastly differs from ours. When we purchased SS's crib durability was an issue. P wanted something sturdy, I wanted a crib that would convert into a toddler bed. Because of SS's size, she will easily fit in the toddler bed for the next two years. Then we could invest an equally obscene amount of money into a full size bed and bedroom set. But our dear SS was not part of the decision making process, and we failed to inform her once she came home. SS is still, for the most, squatting on our bed again.

Say what? Yep, SS is not pleased with her big girl bed. Shortly after the conversion I was in bed reading, while P and SS were snoozing away. Well, so I though. It was past midnight when I heard Sula say "Mama my bed is not good enough." I thought she was talking in her sleep, but when I turned around I was greeted by very open, beautiful almond shaped eyes. I asked her to repeat what she said, and yes, I heard her correctly. I asked her what bed would be good enough; SS patted the mattress and confidently said "this one." Our 34 pound, 39 inch bundle of self-entitlement wants a king size bed. And she is royally teed off that we did not high tail it to the nearest furniture store to get her her own king size bed. Heck, JJ was a big boy and we bought him a full size bed and it was good enough for him.

So what happens when SS does not get her way, no matter how unreasonable her request might be? SS retaliates by trying to break us down with her scary ability to repeat the same phrase at the top of her lungs for hours. Our tiny tormentor is acutely aware that this downright dirty, low of the lowest technique is far more effective at three in the morning. That is when she wakes up in her bed and begins screaming "Mama, my bed is not good enough, not good enough Mama." And she keeps that up for far too long. Poor P can't sleep through the ruckus, so there we are, both of us staring at the ceiling, waiting for the storm to pass. When we think she is done and try to get back to sleep she blindsides us, our precocious guerrilla warrior starts again, she was just resting her voice. But this time it is "Baba my bed is not good enough..." And that is another round of torture. We would gladly be waterboarded instead. The silver lining is that if SS tackles her academic work and life in general with the same tenacity she will be very successful.

Apropos to nighttime issues, SS had us closely watching over her last night. She was laying on her back like in the picture below. It's kind of funny that she still sleeps like an infant. I don't recall JJ doing that at her age...

But I digress... SS had bilateral spasms on her limbs for about half an hour. They were not severe, but we would not characterize them as mild either. P said that it reminded him of me, but in my case it is only my legs jerking throughout the night. It did not disturb SS's sleep, but it is definitely something to talk about with Dr. S when SS has her 5 year old checkup next month.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Super hero play.

SS has been role playing since she woke up this morning. She had Batman and Robin fighting over a room in the bat cave. She then noticed that B & R have a four story home "but they are lonely. We need to buy them friends. Like Woody and Buzz have lots of friends." Our super hero chose clothes for yet another super hero adventure. The jacket is a size 12 months.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dia de Reyes gift comes in handy.

SS received an InnoTab for Dia de Reyes from Abuela and Abuelo. Here she is patiently waiting at Dr. S's office waiting for my dreaded yearly physical. Love her crossed legs.