Friday, September 19, 2014

SS's reading log, she loathes homework but likes to read.

SS does loath homework, but she likes to read, and perhaps we did not make that clear. Like because we do not think she is at the love stage yet. Our opinion is simply (or ignorantly) based on the fact that we both love to read, and SS is just learning. SS reads anything that is in front of her, road signs, CNN's bottom of the screen ticker updates, recipes, junk mail, and our texts. Say what? SS is like a Pavlov dog when she hears the sound assigned to our texts, emails, and other apps. Most of the time it's innocuous, like SS running to my phone then yelling "Mama, Baba misses you terribly!", sometimes she starts reading something and I sprint to get the phone out of her hands. Nothing terrible, but P can text things that can be easily misconstrued, because he gets a kick out of being inappropriate. Besides, his texts are for my eyes only.

We made a decision to allow SS to read what interested her the most, within reason. P has serious issues with the bland crap that is reading requirement. My compromise was that SS must read what she is assigned, but the rest of the time she should read what piques her interest. Big surprise that SS LOVES super hero stories, and has plenty of books on the subject. Part of SS's homework is to read at least 15 minutes each night. That does not include the library book reading.

This is the reading log SS turned in this morning.

The last entry should have a & after the !. As I signed the homework sheet last night I could not help but chuckle. I showed the log to P and we both had a good laugh, because we wonder what SS's teacher thinks about her reading choices. Batman Fight Club? It was a gift from SS's friend E in K, after a humongous third grader ran into SS and she had two teeth knocked out. The book was long and had words such as commissioner, which are not exactly second grade vocabulary. We were surprised that SS read the entire book. She just could not stop reading the riveting tale. So as weird as her reading choices may come across, we have achieved our objective.  SS reads more than the required 15 minutes every night.

Today SS was tested on two library books that came home on Monday. For now Mrs. R has all the kids at the lowest level, Once she is more familiar with their individual abilities she will adjust the reading level accordingly. One of SS's super hero books had abominable in the text, and SS worked through it. She would have never attempted more than a four letter word when reading a generic, bland book.

We laughed when we saw the book cover, because that rooster looks so much like our bossy daughter. There is a part in the book when the hens dig out an old weather vane. The farmer cleans it, paints it yellow and places the weather vane on top of the barn. Every single time SS read the story she stopped to say.., "I think that's a new fake rooster Mama, the farmer bought a new one." I explained to SS that the farmer just cleaned and painted the old one. Nope, to SS it was a "new fake rooster." Yesterday morning SS was reading the book to me, and as expected stated her opinion that the farmer bought a new one.

SS: That is not the same fake rooster, it's a new one.
Me: Uh huh
SS: You agree?
Me: No longer caring to clarify to SS said yes.
SS: Well, this is new, you did not think so yesterday or before yesterday.

SS you tender, magical, loving, sweet soul... You BROW BEAT ME OK? I did my best, I used logic, but you know what? Sometimes you just have so say F it! I was shamelessly brow beaten by a seven year old. Sigh

This is the second book SS was tested on today, and she also had her moments.

The story is developed in rhymes which is fun for the second grade crowd. Mrs. R requires the class to read the books three times before the Friday test. We require SS to read her books daily, and she is not happy. Our goal is for SS to do more than it is asked of her. Vanity aside, P and I did that naturally (OK, in my case it was Mami and Papi driven). We want SS to aspire to excel, while remaining a child. What a freaking tightrope act.

I asked SS to read the book to me and she was not happy.

SS: Mama I read it last night.
Me: But I have not heard you read the entire book, and today is a new day.
SS: Unintelligibly grumbled her displeasure.
Me: The book is written in rhymes, that is so cool, so fun to read.
SS: Yeah, it's fun, but you get to the middle and ... MEH.

 For the record, we do not go around uttering meh to show our lack of interest. We have no idea where SS got that from, but it was awfully funny.

SS was not done with this book, but I had no idea what was coming. The sheep in the ship have a nightmare of a cruise and are very grateful when their journey is over. SS finished her book...

SS: And they were glad they were out of the ship and home (paraphrasing ). THE END (SS loves that part)
Me: I can understand why they were happy to be off that ship. I would, wouldn't you?
SS: I'd be happy to be off that ship too. But not out of the ship in Maui when we went snorkeling, I miss Grandpa Mama, I miss Maui Mama.

I was happy, sad and mad at once. Happy that she has a strong connection to Maui after only two visits. Those memories are related to her Grandpa, because SS can't talk about Maui without uttering Grandpa in the same sentence. As far as SS is concerned Grandpa created Maui for her amusement. It's a good thing we are not in creationist circles or we all would be stoned to death.  Sad because SS does not talk about Puerto Rico and I am at fault. I should have never given in to P's good intentions, I knew better. The result of our ill conceived birthday gift? SS can't stand my birthplace. Since it took me 25 years to return against my best judgment, I can't blame SS. But it still sucks. Mad because I don't think P realizes how  our lapse in judgement has affected SS. 

Last night SS was reading her National Geographic Kids magazine ( a Grandpa gift) and was once again in awe of its contents. SS was in awe of the Halloween content. She then said,

SS: 'Mama , I miss Grandpa, can we go visit him?"
Me: We will sweetie, but not now.
SS: Well, can I talk to him, or see him, or something?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The homework struggle continues, but finding the right incentive certainly helps.

Mrs. R., SS's teacher handles the homework packets different than the other teachers. For most of the school, homework folders come home on Monday and are due on Friday. Just SS's luck that her K teacher and her second grade teacher go against the grain. But this year SS has it better than in kinder, when homework would come home on Tuesday or Wednesday, and the kids had to work during through the weekend. And don't get us started on the asinine 79 pages of homework for freaking five year-olds. What can we say, we along with SS have some serious kinder PTSD.

Mrs. R requires that the homework folder is returned everyday, as she checks for the daily assignments. If the previous day assignment is not completed, the child will be penalized by missing recess to work on homework. Upon reading about this P said "Oh well, at least she had recess last year."  Our problem with daily check in is that sh*t happens and SS would be penalized if WE forget to place her folder in her backpack. And yes, it already happened, as I freaked out at 10:00 am when I realized I neglected to include her folder one morning.  SS lucked out because it was raining and the kids were kept inside that day.

SS will never be the kid to come home and willingly get to her homework. She will forever whine, procrastinate, and when in a really bad mood have an epic meltdown. Thank Goddess SS has so many amazingly positive qualities otherwise. Because if she was this difficult constantly, it would be hell raising her.  We really are blessed when it comes to every other aspect of SS.  SS's homework hatred would also be understandable if she was struggling, but that is not the case. While math is still a breeze for her (that comes from P, totally him), thanks to Mrs. S (first grade teacher) SS finished the year on track, after starting way behind in language arts. On the second week of school we opened the ominous red folder with much trepidation. SS must complete a language arts exercise and a math exercise Monday through Thursday. She is also required to read for a minimum of 15 minutes.  On Monday SS brings a library book (that must also be in her backpack every freaking day) and is tested on its contents on Friday. How could such a simple thing be the source of so much stress (us) and tears (SS)?

We initially tried offering pool time before homework and that was a bust right off the gate. Once in the water, especially in our suffocating heat, SS threw a fit when it was time to get out and work on her assignment. We then changed tactics to what I had SS do in kinder. When SS arrives home she must change out of her uniform, then take care of her lunch box, including placing the reusable ice packets in the freezer.  Then it is straight to homework. SS grumbles, gripes, acts as thought she is walking through the Sahara, but this approach works best. It is still a painfully slow process, SS sure knows how to make everyone suffer when she is not happy.

Before the first week was over, after a specially nasty retort to P, I put my foot down. SS's iPad was a sure thing on weekends, but that is no longer the case. Her homework attitude will be a major factor on whether she gets to use the addictive gadget. That helped with SS's attitude, but it did nothing to increase her speed. Then a simple comment made a world of difference. I really miss cooking with SS, it's been tough not having my sous chef by my side. The girl has been by my side in the kitchen since she was two, if not earlier. Who knew that would do the trick, at least for now.  When I mentioned that she could help me cook, SS jumped at the chance to take her usual perch on her step stool. We should not be surprised, because quirky should have been SS's middle name. She never ceases to surprise us, and we are taking this latest surprise for as long as it lasts.

And the homework saga begins, first day of homework, after being unceremoniously removed from the pool.

Cutest little thing ever, but can morph into a Venus flytrap in a nano second.

This is what got SS to get through her homework in record time, the allure of making Rellenos de Papa.

And she did peel a lot of potatoes that day. As much as I was Mami's shadow, I don't ever recall being excited about potato peeling.

I don't recall why SS had a wardrobe change half way though the process, but here she is flouring the counter for assembly.

The really unhealthy aspect of this dish and why we do not make them often. 

SS did really well, and although not perfect I think our collaboration made some decent rellenos.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New to our junk food menu, the SS Dog.

SS has unusually enjoyed sour flavors since we met. She had only been home a few months when she had her first taste of sunomono (sliced cucumbers with rice vinegar), and she loved it. Not many eighteen months olds are fans. She likes sweets, just like any child, but tires quickly after a few bites. Eventually SS discovered sauerkraut, and that led to her topping her pepperoni pizza with her new found sour friend.  Recently SS has requested sweet relish on her hot dogs. It took her this long to find the condiment acceptable.

Pickles are a new must for SS, she can't get enough of them. A couple of weeks ago we went to Soak City and I packed sandwiches, because you can only have Mrs.  Knott's friend chicken dinners so many times before it is no longer exciting. SS ate two sandwiches ( a few hours apart, but the same size as ours), and we are convinced it was because of the dill pickle spears running entire length of the sandwiches. With a child like SS, who is OK going hungry (I'd spare you the rant about why) we quickly capitalize on her likes. Now her burgers must also be covered with dill chips. Whatever it takes to get the girl to eat.

Yesterday was junk food day and we were having Nathan's hot dogs. As we were getting our condiments together we realized that we did not have relish. It was a 100 degrees and no one with a drivers license was crazy enough to go out in that heat. SS would have volunteered, but her car needs a battery. Fearing a meltdown I made the lame ass suggestion that we had dill spears. SS loved the idea, she was going to add a new touch to her dogs. She eventually settled on ketchup, mustard, pickle and sauerkraut. Relish and kraut make sense, but pickle and kraut? Double sour? We were not sure about that. We watched as SS took a bite of her custom dog, waiting for her reaction. She loved it, and declared it her new favorite dog. Lemmings that we are our dogs were topped in the same manner and were indeed quite tasty. Looks like SS has added her signature dog to our junk food menu.

I'm not kidding, double sour is good.


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Fourth of July came back to bite us in the arses.

This fourth of July turned into quite the adventure in finding a viewing spot. I think P's decision to leave the house so late was influenced by the fact that he worked that day and was tired. He assured me that he knows this city very well, and knew the perfect spot to view. He does know the city very well. At least once a week he goes to random water reservoirs to take samples, so I trusted him. I jokingly told him we should watch from one of the reservoirs, since they are on higher ground. SS was busting at the seams in anticipation of the pyrotechnic display. Just as we arrived at the stop sign where all we had to do was drive across to our destination, a police officer barricaded the street. SS began to panic, and I was fearing the impending meltdown. P told JJ to turn around and drive back home. P grabbed his work keys and gave JJ directions.

There is a reservoir on the same path used by the fireworks crew to reach the launching site.  When we arrived P was shocked to find the gate open and the area outside the reservoir gates (a second gate after the entrance gate) filled with cars and many people waiting for the show. Down the path to the fireworks area we could see a Sheriff's car, probably making sure no one got too close to the launching site. We parked, got out our blanket and sat down to wait for the fun to begin. With about less than 10 minutes before the start the Sheriff car flashed its lights and drove towards the crowd. No way, that is when the dude chose to clear all trespassers? Really? Yeah, really.

At this point SS was comfortable on the blanket in a state of bliss, and the sudden commotion really unsettled her. I got up to leave the area, but P had his plan C and set it in motion swiftly. He got his key, ran to the reservoir gate and asked me to get the van in. I was thinking the wine had gone to P's head, we were being told to leave (technically we were not approached, but since everyone else was vacating it was implied). P grabbed SS placed her in her carseat, and since we were moving a few yards he did not strap her in. That was a huge mistake because it made SS flip a little. Although I thought the move was crazy, since we would be seen, I have no common sense so I went along. We hurriedly made it inside, with SS screaming that it was not safe, "I'm not buckled up Mama.!!!" P was having difficulty closing and locking the gate, and I thought we were really going to get caught.  As he finally gets it locked, P turns around to see that the two tablets and my phone where providing way too much light in the van giving away our location. So he hurriedly told us to "Kill the lights before the fuzz sees it.!" JJ and I ran to do as asked, while laughing at the absurdity of it all. Now mind you, what took me so long to describe happened in about two minutes, and was a bit confusing to SS. Once the fuzz vacated the area and locked the outside gate, we relaxed on our blanket.

That was not the case for SS, who associated our silly dash inside the gate with real danger. She worried that "the fuzz" was going to find us, and who knows what that meant in her innocent mind.  We reassured her it was OK, and that we were just being silly and that there was no need to be afraid of police officers.  A blatant lie, because, you know, Ferguson, MO (where the police department should be a cautionary case study on the effects of inbreeding) happens.  But thankfully she is a tiny Chinese girl. SS relaxed and watched the fireworks from our private viewing area. It was really neat, because we had never watched fireworks without a mass of people around us. Who knew that besides a decent salary and awesome medical insurance, P's job would provide this fringe benefit. It was pretty funny when we we left, as P unlocked the second gate to access the street, the place was packed, and we got many WTF looks. I told P that we needed to discuss with SS what had happened. Not only about why we were there when everyone else was removed; but also about SS's fear about law enforcement. But alas I'm a huge flake and the much needed conversation never took place.

This is the only picture I have of that evening, ironically taken just before the mad dash. Now fast forward to last Friday. Our local minor league baseball team has fireworks after the games on Fridays.  Last Friday was going to be the last fireworks of the season, and P's company offered an employee discount for the occasion. Apparently that is a big deal around here, so P got four tickets. Perhaps he was hoping to make up for the 4th of July mad dash.  SS was even more excited about this fireworks than she was in July.

SS even made a sign for the occasion, Go Storm!. Not even the fact that she could not make it in time to high five the team mascot dampened her firework anticipation.

SS had an unusual day, because she ate all her lunch, and ate a good serving of penne pasta with Alfredo sauce and chicken for dinner. When less than an hour into a three hour game she requested a hot dog we were skeptical. By now we should now better, because an overpriced hot dog is all it takes to make SS ravenous. And she did eat her dog. And proceeded to narc on her father, throwing him under the bus, then backing over him again. SS's combo included chips and a soda. We rarely allow SS to drink sodas, but it was Friday and a ball game. SS noted that "Baba got me a soda Mama." Yep, he did SS. The girl could not drop it. "Mama, Baba got me a soda. He got me a Sprite Mama, it's a soda." Darn, talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

SS never passes up an opportunity to relax.

She was not done with her hot dog, chips and soda. SS wanted "a treat Mama, like maybe ice cream?" And that is exactly what she had, because we are bad,bad, indulgent parents. We knew she would not get through even half of that scoop, and we were right. Suckers.

Baseball games bore me senseless, it is sheer torture sitting through a so called exciting one. But sitting through a minor league snooze fest, where the home team was getting spanked raised the level to water boarding excruciating. I amused myself taking pictures of SS's static hair.

By the seventh inning not even P could take it any longer, he was done. But we had the fireworks to wait for, and we knew SS would be rightfully upset. We thought about watching from the parking lot to make our exit easier. But after talking to an attendant we realized that the stadium and trees would obstruct the view.  When I told P where the fireworks were set up (happened to see it on our way in) his knowledge of the city layout came in handy. He happily told me he knew the right spot to watch and there would be no traffic getting home.

And that is how we found ourselves in the back of a strip mall waiting for the final fireworks of the season. When we arrived there were about three cars there, an indication that we were on the right track. We parked and SS impatiently waited.  More cars arrived full of families so we knew we were definitely in the right spot. The mall security also cruised by several times, which is understandable.  P was listening to the game to give us an idea when the display would begin. The game ended and the emcee was pumping up the crowd, which we could hear roar from our spot. That is when a Sheriff car arrived and parked nearby. We were seated on the back of the van, when P said, "The fuzz is here." He said this in a very nonchalant manner. SS bolted to her feet and said "I have to hide," hightailing it inside the van and crouching down.

Any responsible parent would immediately realize that this was a reaction to our Fourth of July excellent adventure.  Sadly, SS is stuck with us as parents and we had indeed neglected to have that important conversation with her. Her reaction really surprised us, because she reacted like an adult with a mile long rap sheet. And it was funny as hell, so instead of practicing responsible parenting we laughed. As we are laughing we realized that the police officer had a guy bent over the hood of his car. Oh crud, what the heck are we about to witness to further traumatize SS. As it turned out they were posing so the guy's friends could take a picture. Not sure of the appropriateness of that, but we'll take it over a take down any day. And what was P's reaction to the photo op? He wanted to take SS over so the cop would pretend to take her down as well. Not. Kidding. People. How in the world did we ever pass a home study? Don't worry, you are not going to see a pic of a SS take down next.

We thought our private viewing area in July was an awesome treat, but this time we were in for another treat. We had never been so close to the launching site, and it was quite the experience. A positive experience once you get over the fear that the sparks will end up on you. Yeah, that darn close. We now know where to be on Friday evenings next summer, without having to suffer through a boring game.

I had a difficult time focusing because we were so darn close, but it was fun.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

SS ate tomatoes!

Although SS loves tomato based sauces, has eaten tomato soup, and must eat tomato paste whenever I open a can in her presence, she is not fond of the vegetable itself. Not fond is mild, when she finds tomatoes in her food she flips and demands they be removed from her presence. And even though we are rather spineless when it comes to SS, we have refused to kow tow to her tomato elimination edict. If she does not like them, she can remove them herself.  Today I made Chicken Piccata for dinner, and decided to also make bruschetta.  I did not think much about the tomato factor, because SS has yet to come across a bread she does not like. Totally her Puerto Rican side. .

I forgot to mention something when I posted about SS asking for capers with her piccata last time. Mami loved capers,  they were, along with Spanish olives, part of her everyday sofrito. I initially left them off her plate, because unless you grew up with Mami, kids find capers disgusting. I know Mami is very happy that her namesake is not afraid of capers at a young age. Anyway, back to our dinner today. SS reached for the toasted bread, rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with olive oil. Instead of nibbling away, she reached for the tomato,basil, garlic, olive oil topping. We all looked at her wondering what that was about, because she darn well knew there were tomatoes in there. She topped her bread and said "I'm just going to try it, OK?"

We were expecting SS to spit it out right after taking a bite, but not only did she like it, she gave me a thumbs up, and ended up having four servings. My baby made my day, heck she made my week. Had she not liked it, or disposed of it on her napkin we would have been fine as well.  SS eats many vegetables, so not being fond of one is no big deal. But what really got to us is that she tried, unprompted, and that is a big deal when it comes to food and kids SS's age. And for all the grief I give P about letting SS get away with so much, I am grateful that he will not put up with the I only eat mac and cheese, and PB&J sandwiches mentality. That and for not making SS eat only out of the kids menu to save a few bucks.  Chances are SS's Lycopersicoaphobia (tomato phobia) will resume tomorrow, because she is one funky chicken. But tonight we are feeling good. Also, there was a lot of basil in that topping and she did not complain.

We planned to go for a walk after dinner and have SS drive her Mini Cooper. It was unusually nice and we wanted to take advantage. Darn, SS's battery is dead, and get this, a replacement is going to cost more than our van battery.  We walked to the newly opened 7-eleven, about three quarters of a mile from our house. SS complained, wondered aloud why would we want her to walk for sooooooooo loooooooong, but was good company overall.

SS's reward for taking a chance on tomatoes was a wild cherry Slurpee.