Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013, you were full of growing pains, but good ones.

This year was full of growing pains for all of us. SS was and is still not happy that I am working. P is his supportive self, but there are those moments that he is incredibly annoyed that I can't blow off work and take care of whatever arises. And I terribly miss SS, but know this is the best for us. When I return to work Thursday I will be in a new unit, solely working on intake. I requested and was granted a 7:00 am to 5:00 pm schedule. Silly but that half hour is about spending time with my SS.

Last Saturday we went on a much needed grocery run.  SS stated that she wanted to walk and it is a positive step towards her independence. 

But she was listening to her music and walking into things, and getting almost plowed by other shopping carts. SS is as loud as it gets with headphones. The looks we got as she belted "It's a quarter after one and I'm a little drunk and I need you now....Oh baby I need you now....." My saving grace was I prayed the people around us thought I was her nanny, not her awful parent who allows such filth in her iPod.

I had to ask SS to hang on to the shopping cart or be placed in it.

 P asked me what I wanted for dinner knowing that I had plans for a home cooked meal. Since he insisted I asked for Cuban food, and there was one barely 20 miles away. We had Mariquitas as an appetizer. Thin plantain slices that were a hit with all of us. We will make those for SS at home.

SS had two beef empanadas, but she wasn't impressed. She LOVES PR empanadillas.

JJ had the Cubano sandwich and we were amused why. JJ has read the Dexter books and has read many accounts laced with Cubano sandwiches.  He was not disappointed.

SS and I shared the arroz con pollo but P's and JJ's forks could not stop digging in. Last time I had arroz con pollo was at a Peruvian restaurant in Chicago, and prior to that was in Old San Juan in PR. Seems we have to be way away from home for me to indulge.  

P could not make up his mind and ordered the sampler. Roasted chicken, breaded steak, shredded beef, oxtail, and roasted pork.

We took 3/4 of our food home, was had no room for postre. Our server returned with a huge strawberry dipped in chocolate for the girl. SS loved it and by the time we made it to our next stop she had chocolate smeared all over her outfit. We had a great time during dinner and look forward to many more as a family.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Our annual trip down Santa Claus memory lane.

We did take SS to see Santa, more than once and she did get a picture with him.  With everything that is going on we forgot to post. We wonder when SS will be too cool to sit on Santa's lap for a picture.  JJ stopped at age six, but we are hoping SS indulges us for a few more years. All of SS's Santa pics are awesome, but I really like the 2010 shot. That tan is to die for, and it brings back so many fond memories of our trips to Chicago and Maui.  We had such a blast on both escapades, the sightseeing, the water play. Oh, did I mention SS's killer tan? Because I was out there with her, under the same sun, full of pigmentation (or so I thought), and nowhere near beige let alone beautifully brown.







Thursday, December 26, 2013

Perhaps we have been worrying about the wrong things.

Ever had one of those amazing moments when your child does something so innocent, so pure, so giving, so thoughtful, that it leaves you breathless? Those moments that validate parenthood, especially when you do it at my advanced age. At 4:30 this morning I was reliving such a moment with P, while we enjoyed having the bed to ourselves. Yesterday afternoon SS and I were downstairs, and she was playing with her Avengers figures. She lined them up leaned to eye level with them and said "Avengers no fighting today, it's Christmas." I just melted, and wished P was there with me to enjoy such a cute moment. That is the kind you look back on when your baby turns into a hormonal teenage beast. I quickly looked for my phone to text P. Our baby girl gets Xmas, what's important, peace on earth and all that good will stuff. But before I could get my hands on my phone I heard SS's maniacal laughter. She leaned again and said "Nah... Avengers assemble and attack!" And boy did she slay herself with that one. SS was in a fit of laughter for a few minutes. By the way, there is no such thing as attack at the end of that command. We had a great laugh about it, how such a delicate looking girl can be such a brute. Then P made a good observation. Since day one we have been worried about SS, about her first sixteen months of life, about her weight, her health, her speech, her education, and so many other things. Maybe what we should have been worried about is her violent tendencies. SS can be one scary sadist at times. So much for my Xmas miracle.

Seriously, how can such an innocent looking child be capable of anything other than rainbows and puppies? No way could this angelic creature have been orchestrating a massacre.

Just one of the team.

I know I'm the worst videographer ever. I can't wait to take video with my new toy.

See? Don't judge us for the above video's title. 

Why do we indulge SS's love of super heroes? Because there is nothing more beautiful in this world than watching the joy on our baby's face.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Baba saves the day again.

Apple products are not the most user friendly. P and JJ turned on their Android tablets, synced their music and were done in minutes. The iPods were as easy to sync as the iPad and the iPod Shuffle, an insufferable PITA. By the time P came home from work with visions of wasabi and garlic crusted prime rib for dinner, SS was in tears because she wanted her iPod. After all it's not like the poor child could entertain herself with something else.

I am grateful that this is Day 1, because P sighed and got to work on why freaking iTunes would not recognize even my iPod, let alone sync. And he got them recognized and synced for his girl. SS happily donned her Batman Dark Knight Rises headphones and kicked back to watch Beyonce's video for Blue. What could have become SS's Christmas tragedy was averted.

Our baby is happily singing out of tune, and not showing signs of tiredness after being awake for almost 16 hours. P and I are more than ready to call it a night. Payback is indeed a word that rhymes with witch.

Merry Christmas!

A very early Christmas wake up call.

SS really surprised us this year with a very short Christmas list.  She told Munch (her Elf on the Shelf) the first morning she saw him and did not add to it, nor deviated. She requested the green Power Ranger, Thor's Hammer, and a Spiderman web shooter. We were blown away because SS usually unleashes the mother of all lists on us. Every toy she has seen during the year ends up on her list. We added a few things to compliment her requested toys.

Today is Day 1 of P's 11 days of Xmas, that is how many days he will work consecutively. Dude is totally loco. Today was not by choice but he was not upset. However, he did not want to miss seeing SS wake up and walk downstairs with the Chipmunks Christmas Song playing in the background.  The plan was simple, blast the song at 5:00 a.m. through our surround system and watch a cheerful SS come down the stairs. The music began to play, I started the video, and a minute later no sign of SS.  P had to get her out of bed and carry her downstairs. SS was very sleepy and not amused at all. The video is hilarious with her giving The Look.  But once I turned her attention to the gifts her winning smile came through.  We escaped her wrath and are very thankful for the reprieve. Our neighbors are probably less than amused by our early morning loudness.

A priority in the new year is to look for a home, we have outgrown this house, and the small living room is getting on our nerves.  We don't have enough space for a proper tree, let alone the space to sit around it and open presents. 

Gifts? I'll be lenient on you just this time.

Uncharacteristically SS chose the smallest gift first. A green iPod Nano that also plays videos. I downloaded Beyonce's new album, and SS will be rocking to it tomorrow.

Thor's Hammer and P sprung for the electronic version with thunder and lighting.  We added the helmet just because.

That green Power Ranger was very difficult to find, and we are glad we could make it happen.

Batman headphones, because I broke her cool Skull Candy set.

I don't know how, because SS's list was so short, but I somehow turned Thor's hammer into Hulk's fists. I'm incredibly gifted at screwing up like that. As you can see the girl is not complaining.

Grandpa's gift.

We added a Spiderman costume because just wearing a web shooter would be silly. 

Galaxy Tablet for JJ and P, and they both wanted the 7" display.

Blue iPod for me, because my iPhone does not have enough memory to hold my music.

I asked P and JJ to look surprised even though they both knew what they were getting.  I knew I was getting the iPod, but was blown away when P gave me a second gift. I should know better by now, because every time we pledge to get each other just one thing, a small thing, he turns around and does the opposite. I had told P that since my birthday next year is a big one, I'd like a new camera, if we could afford it. P decided that it was time to replace our D60, the camera we bought just before we left for China. I now have a D3200, and it also shoots video. It's going to be sweet having this toy in March. JJ thought I was aware of the gift and thought that my acting skills were superb when I totally lost it. P said that I was more excited than SS was with her gifts. Thank you P, you take really good care of us.

P doing his surprised look, although he ended up looking like he was impersonating Bill Cosby.

In all the excitement SS forgot about the cookies and milk she left for Santa. P left a half eaten cookie with a nice bite mark on it. I told him he risked SS running a DNA test on it, then the charade would be over. Well played P, that was a nice touch.

Abuela's and Abuelo's present. SS later said "Mama my chair is great, and I like to relax."

We need to get SS a blond wig to get the full Thor effect. It was what P wanted her to be for Halloween this year. Maybe next year.

When I told SS that she would get to snorkel for the first time next year she was not impressed and flatly said no. She remembers Honolua Bay, and while she wants to return, she said she will once again sit on our backs while we snorkel. I reminded her that she is now heavier and longer, but SS did not think that would be a problem. Maybe not for her Baba, but it will be for me. We were pleasantly surprised when SS was all over her snorkeling set. Now all we have to do is get her used to it in the tub and see what happens. She will be the cutest snorkeler at Chicken Beach.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The night before Christmas.

I came home to find P and SS baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch for Santa. The house smelled really good. SS scared us a little because she was at her most hyper, and we wondered how we would get her to sleep.  There's nothing like the incentive of Xmas morning, and SS knows that Santa won't come in the house until she is asleep.  Darn, for someone who is so opposed to lying to children, I'm becoming quite the weaver of falsehoods. 

By the time I arrived home SS had already placed the reindeer food just outside the front door.  After getting her in her Xmas PJs, we gathered downstairs to get Santa's milk and cookies ready.  SS decided that Santa needed seven cookies "because he has a big belly to fill." She even shared her Xmas straw with the old man in the suit, and was worried that the milk would not stay cold.  Because apparently Santa likes his milk very cold. We are so going to burn in hell for all the story telling and enabling.

We watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon not the long movie) in bed to get SS to calm down.  After that we read The Night Before Christmas, then SS went downstairs to say goodbye to Munch, who is flying to the North Pole tonight.  SS was sad that Munch is leaving, because she has really enjoyed getting up each morning and looking for the naughty elf.  We reassured her that Munch will return next year. And again the allure of waking up to gifts made the parting easier.

SS made me think about the speech assessment this evening. I was complaining that it was hot, P right away said no way.  He hates it when I open windows or the sliding door at night. Our thermostats just do not mesh. Poor SS was wearing flannel PJs and it is very warm in Southern California, so she quickly sided with me. She said to t P exasperated "It's hotter than Hades in here!"  Sometimes our girl has a way with words.

SS's teacher provided the reindeer food, and it also contained glitter. PETA is going to be all over that one.

Smallest tree we have ever had, but SS was happy and that is what matters. SS went all Martha Stewart this weekend and started making snowflakes. For having dexterity issues she did a really good job with the scissors.  SS proudly hung her snowflakes on her tree.  See those "gifts" under the tree?  SS wrapped some of her toys to share them with us.

Another SS creation, not sure what she was going for with this one. But she said she was going to decorate the door and she did it her way.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Speech therapist consult.

After the first graders' mini recital we had an appointment with the speech therapist to go over SS's test results. We were not very hopeful because it was such an ordeal to get SS tested.  We requested it last year, but found out recently when the speech therapist asked the kinder teacher, Mrs. VP told her that we were being overly concerned.  She told the ST that SS was doing very well and was only having the normal struggles of a multilingual child.  P was incredibly upset when I passed on that bit of information.  How dare she disregard our wishes and prevent our child from being tested? Never liked her kinder teacher, and like her even less now. 

We brought up the subject during the parent teacher conference this year.  Mrs. S said she had not noticed any problems with SS speech, but admitted that SS rarely talks in class. She asked Mrs. F (the ST) to come to the classroom and observe SS.  Mrs. S then left us a message to call Mrs. F and that did not go over well initially.  We know their stance is to deny there is a problem, because they do not want to spend the money that it will take to address a problem. When Mrs. F said she had observed SS and did not see a problem I knew she had not spent a significant amount of time with our daughter.  Mrs. F would have been able (probably has) to get away with doing nothing with other parents, but I have been through this with JJ. 

Turns out that the ST spent a whole ten minutes observing SS during an activity where she collaborated with other children. Knowing SS we are certain that Mrs. F probably heard two words out of SS in that time and probably a yes or no.  She asked me what were our concerns and I explained that SS's sentence structure is scattered, she talks like Yoda, and she is too old to be doing that.  Then came the question about how many other children were in the home. I really dislike it that they run to that conclusion, it's cheap and it is lazy.  I really had to take deep breaths to keep my cool and articulate our concerns.

Yes, SS is the only child at home, but let's look at what her school days look like.  Three days a week SS is around at least 25 other children from 6:30 am to 4:30 p.m.  And you are going to pull the only child excuse? Not going to happen, nope.  And when SS is at home she spends her time with two educated, articulate parents, who talk TO not AT her.  Sorry, but that desperate grasp at nothing won't work.  For every argument Mrs. F had, I had a well thought out counter argument. I am proud to say I brow beat her into thoroughly evaluating SS's speech. That did not mean the results would please us, but after a year SS received a service she really needed.

The meeting consisted of Mrs. F, the school principal Mrs. R, SS's teacher Mrs. S, and us.  P and I were not optimistic, and P had already gone through our rights and was formulating an appeal.  SS did not let us down and Mrs. F found out very early in the process how stubborn that child can be. They had two meetings because SS did not utter a word during the first meeting. Mrs. F knew there was no way SS had zero expressive language.  We are thankful that she tried a second time, and hit the motherload when she stumbled upon SS's love for super heroes.

Mrs. F was very impressed with SS's vocabulary, said she stopped at the middle of middle school vocabulary because she knew SS would just keep going right into high school level. That blew us away since we have never thought of SS as having a good vocabulary. We have always felt that SS is actually a year or two behind her peers. We were wondering if that was just a ploy to deny her services.  I should have noted this before, SS was shown pictures of items and asked to name them. Mrs. F was impressed that SS knew what a pyramid, binoculars and windmills are.  I had to stifle a giggle because there are very simple explanations.  In one episode of the Wonder Pets they go to Egypt and marvel about the pyramids.  Also one of the Wonder Pets (forget which one) always had a pair of binoculars during their outings.  The windmill?  She's seen them of the way to Palm Springs and Laughlin several times now.  We are still not convinced that those are above a six year old level of comprehension, but what do we know. From the assessment, "SS was able to label higher level vocabulary such as binoculars, pyramids, compass, and windmill." Forgot about compass, another easy one.  Dora the Explorer uses one.

Our little stinker scored very well in sentence structure, although we stand firm on her Yoda like sentences. Maybe a lucky guess on SS's part.  "SS was able to answer questions, frequently using 1-2 word responses. When asked to elaborate, she could give more information in a grammatically correct sentence." She can? She did? How come that does not happen at home? Can't argue with the results.  Not everything was good and SS did have difficulty with three sounds, th and the end of a word. She can say thumb just fine, but struggles with teeth. SS also has difficulty with s (ironic, huh?) and z sounds.  Mrs. F will be working with SS a maximum of six times per month for half and hour, and with other children.  A year from now we will reevaluate, and if necessary another IEP will be drawn.  Beating that dead horse, but we don't buy that SS has sentence structure down.  But at least she will have help with pronunciation.

Two interesting things happened during the meeting.  Let's start with the lowest point for us. It occurred when we were discussing independence. Our daughter needs to start learning how to tie her shoes. We felt better when the principal stated that she has two boys and did not teach them herself. Her mother in law is a kinder teacher and did the shoe tying lessons. Mrs. R admitted she did not have the patience necessary. We were asked what type of chores SS had at home, and boy was that embarrassing. Come on, P puts toothpaste on her toothbrush and brings it to bed. We have been derelict in our duties when it comes to raising an independent child.  I at least had the decency to hang my head in shame. P was just fine, yep, I spoil my kid. We went through hell to bring SS home, and SS went through hell for sixteen months. So what if I spoil my girl?

We had an amazing surprise delivered by Mrs. S, and it made our day. We are actually still on a high from her surprise. She told us SS is raising her hand in class and making eye contact. I almost cried, tears of happiness mind you, when we heard that.  SS had an awful year last year and it is good to know that Mrs. S has earned SS's trust, and that she really cares about our daughter's well being. SS has also told us how much she likes Mrs. S, and how happy she is to be in her the classroom.

As we waited for our meeting we saw this on a wall in the office.  The pictures were taken on career day, and I told P that SS would not be on the wall. I drove her to school that day, and Mrs. R was taking pictures as the kids arrived at school.  I did not stop because there were a lot of students waiting to be photographed.

I should have known that out little arroz blanco would be photographed that day.

On the last day of school the kids made gingerbread houses.  SS is rightfully proud of her creation.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mi Burrito Sabanero

On Friday the first graders treated the school and parents to two Christmas songs.  SS told us excitedly during dinner a few days before the event.  I asked her what songs and when she told me I could not believe it. I started singing one of the songs and SS was in shock that I knew it. The best part is that it was my Friday off and I did not have to worry about requesting the time.  That morning was unusually cold, about thirty degrees and SS needed something warm, since flag day is always held outside.  The multipurpose room is not large enough to accommodate all students and parents.  I immediately thought that the purple coat the grandmothers gave SS would be perfect, but could not find it.  That is when I learned that SS wore it to school and it never made it home, like the many others she has lost. When she returns to school next year we are going to have to dig through the lost and found and hopefully find it. 

SS's Santa hat has been on the sofa table for about a month, but of course it went MIA Friday morning.  I was very annoyed because we did not have the time to stop by the store. When we arrived I saw M, one of the mom's from last year and her cute three year old daughter was wearing a Santa hat.  I asked her if she thought little M would part with the hat just while SS sang. M just yanked it off her daughter's head and handed it to me. Cracked me up, but little M was not amused.  Wearing a hat was not part of SS's plan and she was a sour puss about it.  Just look at the picture below.  I asked her to do it as a favor to me, but when I saw tears I kicked myself for being so dense. I took the hat off and apologized.  I did not want our baby unhappy and ruin her performance.  P then asked me to take off her glasses because SS looked like a sad Blues Brother.  SS did very well with her singing and hand gestures. We are very proud of our baby.

This is the second song they performed but I placed the video first as a treat to Abuela and Abuelo, who are the only people other than me that will recognize this song. A relative gave me La Rondallita album when I was ten, and it included this song.