Thursday, October 25, 2012

Physical Science Still Sucks

Last year was pretty blissful as far as homework issues went. Fifth grade seemed to be a breeze for Sugar, which was a surprise because she always has to work so hard. I thought maybe the year with the tough 4th grade teacher toughened her up. If that was the case, then that all flew out of her pretty little head the moment she stepped into her 6th grade classroom.

While I would love it to happen, I don’t expect my kid to have all A’s. I expect her do to the work assigned to her, pay attention in class and make an honest effort. I expect that if she has a test, she should study for it. I realize that people learn differently, and some subjects are easier for some to grasp. For example at my house EN can fix damn near anything, Sugar can tell me what direction we are traveling in without cheating with a compass and both girls can do the LMFAO shuffle. I can do none of the above.

I come unglued when I feel that an honest effort isn’t being put forth. I track Sugar’s grades pretty closely. I like to make sure she gets her work in on time and monitor how she’s doing on tests. Since I stalk fairly regularly, it’s been easy to watch Sugar’s science grade slip further and further down. I didn’t like the grades she was getting on her quizzes, but most of her labs and classwork seemed pretty good.

She swore she studied for both tests and had no idea why her grades were so bad. There was only one thing I could do: email her teacher. She informed me that Sugar admitted to her that she hadn’t studied for any of the quizzes. I could understand a slow start to the year, but to lie right to your mother?

Instead of letting her “do her homework” in her bedroom with her iPod in hand, the rules changed this week. If she’s going to lie to her mom, she can do her homework at the kitchen counter next to her sister. She can play with her iPod after her work is done. If she’s too busy fucking around all night and fighting with her sister and doesn’t get her iPod back until bedtime… too bad for her!

I knew on Tuesday that there was a test scheduled for today. On Tuesday night she said she’d study on her own, and I could “quiz” her on Wednesday. I left her with her cards and notes and thought she was diligently studying away. When I quizzed her last night, it was quickly obvious that she didn’t know the material at all.

We started off nicely enough… I’d give a term and she’d pretend like she knew what I was asking and would “ummmm” through a response and then she claimed to have forgotten what the correct answer was. Then I came across a note card that gave one answer as being “the number of protons.” Then there was something about the answer being “the total number of protons and neutrons.” I attempted to point out this discrepancy to Sugar and we were on an extremely quick downward spiral. I tried to use NICE VOICE and explain that there was no way both of these things could be the answer and she started snarling. Then she screamed that of course the information is right, her teacher told her.

Then I took my life into my own hands and said, “PERHAPS YOU MADE A MISTAKE WRITING IT DOWN.” Like any good human of Polish/German descent, she is never wrong and was quite infuriated that I would even question her ability to take notes.

So I did the only logical thing I could think of, I went to Google. I quickly discovered that one of her definitions was for atomic number and one was for atomic mass. I told her that, she gave me a look that said I was full of shit and she bolted.

Ten minutes later she’s back downstairs with a big smile on her face. She ate her dinner and was quite cheerful.

Me: What did you do while you were upstairs?
Sugar: I took a quiz on our science website.
Me: How did you do?
Sugar: I got most of them right. By the way, that one definition is wrong. It’s the definition for atomic mass.
Me: Isn’t that what I said?
Sugar: I don’t remember.

How can a kid have zero comprehension on almost everything? She read the cards Tuesday, went over the stuff in class, and still acted like she’d never heard a single word before last night. Life would also be so much easier if there was a textbook to bring home. Apparently, the district does not have enough money to buy a book for every student. I thought I had remembered something about the book being online, and confirmed that when I emailed the teacher today. We will start using that for bedtime stories. 

And through the struggle I remembered that I hated this kind of science when I learned it in school. 25 years didn’t make a bit of difference. That shit still sucks. 

Stalking the gradebook this afternoon, I have found that her latest quiz score is a huge improvement over the last one. Amen.

Ice Princess

Monday, October 22, 2012

Making Strides 2012

It had been a long time since I did any significant fundraising for anything. I do try to donate time and money when I can, though lately I feel like I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even been shipping to soldiers regularly…

In October 2005 I was pregnant with Spice and took part in a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Boston. It was an amazing experience walking with so many. Everywhere I looked there were women wearing “Survivor” sashes and women wearing shirts that said, “In memory of…” It was heart wrenching and humbling and something that I vowed to do again.

It is shameful then, that I haven’t participated in this fundraiser since that time. I loved the walk, I loved telling people what I was going to do and have them donate to my cause. I felt empowered all those years ago, handing over $1000 to the American Cancer Society. When you do something like that, you feel like you have your very own ray of sunshine for a moment.

This year I have two friends currently in treatment, so it was obvious to me that I should raise funds and walk again. Now that Sugar and Spice are 11 and 6, there’s no reason they couldn’t both walk with me. They know what breast cancer is, they know their friends mom has it. They’ve seen her go through surgery and lose her hair as a side effect to the chemotherapy.

What they don’t know is that nearly 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. They don’t know that with early detection survival rates are over 90%. They don’t know that every woman on their dad’s paternal side of the family has had breast cancer… So the odds of two of their aunts getting breast cancer is pretty high. Therefore, my girls’ odds are slightly higher than my own. It’s a no brainer that this is something we should ALL care about.

With two weeks to go until the event, I signed up and joined the walk on my neighbor’s team. As I raised $1000 last time, I set that goal for this year as well. I doubted that I would make it, given that I signed up so close to the event. Ten days, two emails and one Facebook post later, we were at the fundraising goal that I set for our mini-team within a team.

The girls asked every day how much we had raised, and who had donated to the cause. They were very excited to get the updates regularly. It’s funny, I don’t know when I realized it, but it came to my attention that Spice, who HATES to walk, didn’t know that by accepting these donations, we made a commitment to walk 3.5 miles.

Of course she said she wouldn’t walk. So I did what every good mother does. I bribed her. I knew full well that there would be women walking that would be dressed from head to toe in pink… so I offered up a pink feather boa like her friend Fancy Nancy has. She immediately snapped up the deal.

Sunday was a gorgeous day and the girls were happy to jump out of bed and throw on every pink item they owned. I told them that they could wear whatever they wanted, but had to wear good walking sneakers. Of course Sugar changed 37 times and Spice came up with a shorts and tutu combo that delighted her.

This walk was much, much smaller than the one I participated in years ago. But still there were so many walkers out to show support for a great cause. The girls LOVED being part of something so big. Spice kept looking around saying, “There must be a million people here.”

EN tagged along with us and the four of us finished the walk with minimal fighting and complaining. Spice said she was quitting when we had a mile or so left, so I bribed her again. By then we were all starving, so I offered up ice cream and she practically trotted through the finish line.

I am glad to have shared this event with my family this time around… and I hope to make this a family tradition for us. 

Sugar and Spice with their friend Spice Two in the middle.
Let's make sure these girls never have to worry about
breast cancer!

Ice Princess

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sleep Peeps

Last night I had my sleep study. I prepared in advance as directed by the doctor who ordered the test. I woke up early and didn’t nap during the day. I also attempted to stay busy throughout the day so I would be dead tired when it came time to sleep in front of an audience that I didn't have an established relationship with.

I was fortunate and my test was done in a section of a hotel the hospital leases. Apparently, people sleep better in a hotel than they do in a hospital. I didn't really know where the hotel was so I left really early and arrived early.

I checked in and was surprised to find a pretty nice hotel room with a kitchenette and sitting area. I was expecting to find that one wall was made of glass so those people could watch me sleep. Instead, there was a very small camera that would only be turned on once I was “hooked up.” I talked with several different people about why I was there and my sleep habits. They left and told me to relax. I kicked back and started a new book. Ah, peace and quiet… something that rarely occurs in a house filled with a husband, two daughters and three crazy dogs.

The sleep peeps came back and wired me up around 9 as I told them I go to bed around 11. I had wires hooked to my face, head, chest and legs. There were also two belts, one around my belly and one around my chest. They let me read a bit longer and told me to call them when I was ready to be hooked up to the machines so they could watch my brain waves (or lack thereof). I was so delighted by the way I looked that I snapped a picture with my phone and sent it to EN, along with a threat to his manhood if he dared post or send the picture.

I won’t lie, I was anxious to get into that bed. It was piled high with pillows and soft looking covers. I called them and they hooked me up. I turned on the TV and tuned into a fun episode of House Hunters. I refrained from yelling at the TV as I normally do during House Hunters. People and their unrealistic expectations piss me off. When the show was over, I turned off the TV and snuggled in for a good night’s sleep.

Despite the heavenly bed, it was the worst night of sleep in the history of the world. I woke up several times because shit came unplugged and the sleep peeps came in to hook me back up. Several times, I could feel myself trying to breathe but unable to. There were too many wires and too much tape under my nose. It was annoying. I also felt myself kicking a lot and had my feet dangling off the edge of the bed. I’m 5’4, there’s no reason for my midget feet to be dangling.

Before I knew it, it was 6 am and Captain Pleasant was in to wake me up. Cruel punishment, getting up at 6 am on a Sunday. Then again, it was my own fault for making them work on a Saturday night. Unhooking me from the wires was a painful experience. Somehow, the tape that “ doesn't stick to anyone,” loved me. That shit needed to be pried off. There were remnants of tape everywhere and gauze just stuck to my head. The tape removal above my lip was especially dreadful. If anyone out there ever thought I needed an upper lip wax, you can rest assured this ‘stache is hair free now.

The only thing the sleep peeps were allowed to tell me was whether or not I snored. Of course that was the first question I asked. BECAUSE WE ALL KNOW THE ANSWER IS, “NO.” The Ice Princess does NOT snore. Anyone stating otherwise deserves to be shot.

So I asked. And Captain Pleasant said, “Yes, you snored.” I said, “Well, I’m sure it was a delicate ladylike snore… right?” He chuckled and said, “Yeah right.” Thank God the study was over because had this been a real relationship, I would have dumped his ass at this point.

He left the room and I got ready to take a shower. I turned around to look at the bed that I slept in and was stunned. It looked like a jackball ass monkey had slept there. Pillows were EVERYWHERE and the covers were askew. I should say here that I have specific rules about covers: they stay neat and the top sheet stays tucked in. I've been known to wake up in the wee hours to retuck if necessary. I could NOT have made a mess of that bed. I don’t know who slept there, but it wasn't me.

Things got even more entertaining when I got a load of myself in the mirror. Because I had 437 thingies taped to my head, I was rocking some serious 80’s hair. Had it not been 6 am on a Sunday, I would have gone somewhere with that ‘do so everyone could have appreciated that fine work. Instead I hopped in the shower, then headed out for the breakfast buffet.

I was home by 7:30 am and seriously ready for a nap. Of course Sugar and EN were at the door waiting to see how it went. I crawled into bed amidst cries begging for breakfast and attention. And that my friends, is why I can’t sleep. The people around me require too much maintenance.

My appointment with the sleep doctor should be interesting. I hope she simply suggests an animal print Snuggie to help me sleep better and get over my fear of the messy bed. And the snoring, well that’s just not true. I don’t care who says otherwise.

Ice Princess 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Grade Chatter

I really wish I had blogged when Sugar was younger. I know there were so many funny things that happened on a daily basis, and I just can’t remember everything. So Spice is luckier here, we’ll have an accurate record of some funny shit that she comes home talking about.

She was excited that she knew so many boys in her first grade class, but she didn't really know many girls. She was reunited with a girl that left kindergarten halfway through the year, but that relationship was short-lived this year.

For the past several weeks, she’s been talking about a new friend. She talks on and on about her, like we do when we meet someone new that we really like. They sit together, work together, have lunch together. Apparently, this little gal has another friend who is feeling left out. Spice told me that this girl keeps begging to play with the new friend, but the new friend just wants to play with Spice. I told Spice that she should try to include the other little girl. Spice claims to have tried that, but this little girl finally got so upset, she dragged the new friend away and said, “Is our relationship over?” Now I’m picturing first grade recess to look like a Dr. Phil show. Seriously, a first grader inquiring about relationship status?

Yesterday, Spice got into the car and said, “Keegan says he’s in love with me.” Judging by the expression on her face and her body language, I was fairly certain that she could give two shits about Keegan. So I asked how she responded. She said, “I didn't say anything. I looked straight ahead and listened to my teacher.”

Some poor six-year-old boy musters up the courage to tell my girl he’s in love with her and she ignores him?

She went on to describe how he always tries to sit next to her at story time, at lunch and center time. Of course if there’s no room for him, my kind, sweet girl tells him to move along. She also claims that he’s always looking at her. I asked what she meant and she imitated the face next to the word “dumbfounded” in the dictionary.

I honestly cannot get enough of the first grade gossip. These little pipsqueaks are hilarious. I asked her if he tries talking to her when she follows her around…

Spice: Oh yeah, he keeps saying he’s so in love with me and will I go out with him.
Me: Oh! What did you say when he asked you that?
Spice: I told him I had to ask my mother first.
Me: The answer is NO!

I guess I could be freaking out about the mature level of conversation going on these days. However, way back in the recesses of my dusty old brain, I remember first grade, and I remember having crushes here and there. First grade is an entirely new experience. For years these kids have been waiting to go to “big kid school” and now they have arrived! Many of them have older siblings so I’m sure that’s where they pick up some of these behaviors. Or maybe it’s that their mothers watched too much Jerry Springer when they were toddlers?

In any case, I laugh inside while outside I keep trying to come up with the right words that will keep the lines of communication open. Someday, in the not too distant future, these conversations will have a much deeper meaning. 

Ice Princess

Friday, October 5, 2012

Picture Day

I remember Picture Day at school and being excited about it every year, until I hit junior high and got really ugly. Lots of thought and effort went into planning the outfit and hairstyle. Then we’d wait with bated breath to see how those bad boys came out and whether they were good enough to exchange with our friends.

As my girls are still pretty small, I have control over the outfit and hairstyle. They wear their “first day of school” outfit and I do their hair in the morning. This year, Sugar exerted some independence and did her own hair. I tried to insist she wear it down, but let her have her own way in the end. Nowadays we have RETAKE DAY.

It’s been a rough road getting here at times. Nearly every single year,those have been the rules. However, one year EN decided he needed to fix Spice’s hair after I left for work. I wasn't aware of this happening until I got the pictures back. What you see below is the end result of EN’s hard work. Needless to say, this never happened again.

Excuse the flash mark on the "picture of the picture." 

Spice’s day for pictures just occurred yesterday. She put on her fancy dress and I did her hair before leaving for work. I left secure knowing that my kid would look decent for her pictures. I should have realized that little turkey would try to one-up her unsuspecting mother.

I got a text from my neighbor, saying she was concerned about how her kids’ pictures would come out as they were all running around the bus stop like hooligans. I said that I was worried about Spice’s hair, but I had done it before I left. She texted back, “Do you know that she’s wearing a headband Wonder Woman style?” Are. You. Shitting. Me.

I immediately texted EN to find out what happened and he said he allowed her to wear it, but told her she had to take it off for pictures. She was concerned that her hair would look “staticy.”

When I picked her up from school, the headband was propped up on the top of her forehead with her newly cut bangs (she cut them) standing on end like a porcupine. I said, “Did you take off that headband for your pictures?” And she said, “Of course I did.”

Then she said, “At least I think I did. I can’t really remember if I did.”

I’m 99.9% sure that she knows whether or not she wore it, she just doesn't feel like telling her mother. In fact, I’m pretty sure she wore it because I said, “Well, there’s always retake day.”

She looked very sad and said, “Can’t we just wait until next year for a nice picture?”

I did not pay $46 for my kid to look like an electrocuted porcupine with a mismatched headband.

Ice Princess 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stealing Firsts

That rotten little Spice girl has ruined every first for me. She arrived early and was with us for Christmas, leaving me unprepared and lacking any cutesy “Baby’s First Christmas” items. But then she had significant weight loss issues and needed to check back into the hospital. She spent her first Christmas there. 

She ruined her first birthday party by getting crazy sick and we had to cancel. She was sick on and off so much during that time that it wasn't even worth trying to reschedule her party. Finally, on Sugar’s sixth birthday, we had an extra cake for Spice to play with.

She took her first steps and said her first words at daycare, which really is my own fault. Had I been a stay at home mom, there would be no issue here.

And now, she lost her first tooth at school.

She’s had a dangler for months. In fact, we've started calling her “Shark Girl” because two adult teeth grew in behind her baby teeth and she refused to wiggle them out of there. Then Sugar went to the dentist a few weeks ago Spice showed off her double row. The dentist told Spice she better get wiggling or they’d need to be pulled at her next appointment.

She’s been working the tooth for weeks now and she claims it makes all sorts of cracking noises when she wiggles it too far. The thought is enough to give me the willies. Over the past week she’s spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror working that baby. EN was about to pull it earlier this week but Spice chickened out.  

I picked her up from school yesterday and she greeted me with great excitement, “MY TOOTH FELL OUT TODAY.” In a sense I was glad that the first baby tooth extraction was over, but in another… I was sad that I missed out on yet another first.

She babbled on and on about wiggling the tooth in class and hearing a crunching sound and BAM the tooth flew across the floor. She immediately went to the nurse and got a fantastic necklace to put the tooth in so she wouldn't lose it. She wore that necklace with pride.

When it came time to go to bed, she decided that she didn't to give up the necklace to the Tooth Fairy, nor did she want the tooth under her pillow. She set up a little “tooth shrine” on her dresser. The tooth was placed in a plastic water bottle cap with a rolled up note, fastened with duct tape. She informed me that the Tooth Fairy was to take everything, and to leave the money on the display of porcelain teddy bears sitting next to the tooth. Since she’s quite particular, I asked exactly where the money should be left. She said, “Oh the Tooth Fairy will just pick the bear she likes the best and leave the money on top of it.”

I carefully explained this via text to the boy who was due to play Tooth Fairy last night. At 6:15 this morning, the alarm woke me and I asked, “Did you remember to be Tooth Fairy?” Of course not. He did the mad dash upstairs and made it without waking her up.

I carefully undid the note which read, “Dear Tooth Fairy, Are you real? Are you really real? If you are then you are beautiful. Love, Spice”

Spice danced down the stairs with glee this morning… It was a beautiful day because the Tooth Fairy came and proved that she really is real. 

And we experience another first that reminds me again that my babies aren't babies at all any more. 

Ice Princess

Monday, October 1, 2012

Missing Ingredients

Women are never wrong.

German women are never ever wrong.

Old German women are never ever EVER wrong.

If you find yourself in a situation where you believe that an old German is wrong, think very carefully before you point out their error. In fact, be sure to have written and notarized proof of said mistake. Probably have it signed by the Pope or someone else too. Then pray for your life because the world is about to fucking end.

My mother is a German lady in her late 60’s (she’ll be in her 60’s for about ten more minutes), but I didn’t call her old. I’m not that crazy.  

As she was an Air Force wife for many years, she had the opportunity to meet people from around the world. In becoming friendly with lots of people, she exchanged many recipes. We regularly tried new types of cuisine: Italian, English, Indian… The woman is a seriously good cook. In fact, I can’t remember anything that ever came out badly. There were many things I refused to eat because they were gross, but I think everything tasted as it was supposed to.

However, the woman CANNOT bake. I’m not sure what she does when she puts stuff in the oven, but stories of her baked goods are the stuff family legends are made of. There was the time that the Cool Whip “didn’t look right” so she broke out the hand mixer and beat the shit out of the Cool Whip, which made it liquefy. She slapped it on the cake anyway and told my father to put it outside in the cold so it could “set up.” Hours later he brought in a chilly cake covered in liquid Cool Whip and we all got treated to a lecture about using real whipped cream and not “that fake shit.” And we ate that cake and we told her it was good… because we aren’t stupid.

The next cake was rock hard. I’m not sure how it happened, but it’s been my job to cut every cake we have. Even if we are celebrating a birthday, the birthday person hands me the fork and asks me to serve it up. So she bakes this cake and I start to cut into it and the knife isn’t moving. Finally I used the knife like a saw and made progress. I gave my sister the first piece and she took a bite, gasped and slapped her hand to her mouth and yelled, “Oh my God, Mom! Your cake chipped my tooth.” I’m pretty sure the old girl hasn’t baked since.

Now that she has internet access, she’s constantly surfing the web and finds all sorts of recipes. If it is something that needs to be baked, she sends it to me and I’m expected to make it for her. She might critique the hell out of my offering, but she’s generally pretty happy because her sweet tooth gets a fix.

This past weekend, Sugar had a sleepover so I promised Spice we would make something. Since fall has arrived, I thought of my mother’s recipe from an old English friend for Pumpkin Bars. I knew she was leaving to visit her sister, so I called and asked for her to please send me the recipe. She sent it almost immediately along with a note that I had better print if off and put it in a cookbook so I don’t lose it again.

On Friday night I took the list to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients that I needed. I didn’t notice until I got home that there wasn’t any type of pumpkin on the list. I called to ask her how much pumpkin I needed…

Me: How much pumpkin do I need?
Mom: What does it say on the recipe?
Me: You left it out. I don’t know.
Mom: I didn’t leave it off the recipe. You need a can.
Me: A big can or a little can?
Mom: There’s only one size of pumpkin puree. You need one can.

Then we wander down the path of different can sizes and she maintains that I am wrong. Through the entire conversation, she insists that I am not reading the recipe right, OF COURSE SHE PUT THE PUMPKIN IN RECIPE SHE EMAILED ME.

Spice and I finally got the bars baked and we started working on the cream cheese frosting. Despite adding more and more powdered sugar, there seemed to be something wrong with the frosting. I kept looking at the recipe, making sure I put everything in… Finally I gave up and slapped the frosting on the bars. As I finished up, I glanced at a Paula Deen recipe that seemed pretty similar. Oh, one needs butter in cream cheese frosting?! Of course you do! The butter from my mother’s recipe probably ran off with the freakin’ can of pumpkin.

Ice Princess