Saturday, October 06, 2007

Pie Town and Third Grade

It's not like I have a contractual agreement with Pie Friday. And believe me when I say I've messed up a couple pies in the last couple weeks. But here's the latest great one. Strawberry Pie. Simple and pretty f'ing good.

Maya took some to school to give to her friend, Palmo. Maya shared half the pie as they walked to school in the morning and promised the other half to her at lunch. Maya then made up some story about how she left the rest of the pie in her locker so Maya could eat it herself. I don't blame her.
The pie that's trying to beat me down is pumpkin. I've failed at if a few times. It's the first time I've converted a non-vegan recipe to vegan that's not working out. The crust is great. The flavor of the filling is great. The filling doesn't solidify while cooking. I've added all kinds of thickeners, tried different things. When I first tried making it, I felt so cocky about pie. I baked me some humble pie instead (That was too easy!) All I kept thinking as I looked at my hot, runny pumpkin filling was, "What's gone wrong in Pie Town?" Anyway, I'm not done trying and experimenting. Pumpkin pie ain't got me beat yet.

Maya went to a school dance last night. Nothing really to report about that except that she's found herself the perfect, special go-to outfit. It's comfortable and beautiful. She hung a little multi-colored tapestry purse over her head and across her chest. I told her, "You can't ask anything more of an outfit. This is perfection."
We bought the little dress last week at a thrift store. If fits her like it was made for her. She beamed beauty and confidence.

Maya and Emma Ready for the 7th Grade Dance, 10/07.

I haven't told you about third grade. Mr. R is Mina's new teacher. So far he may be my favorite teacher that either girl has had during their academic careers. The rumors were abuzz before the school year even started about how demanding he was. And strict. And heavy-handed with the work load. The rumors are not rumors at all. They're all true, but he is also wonderful and funny. He's like a genius child himself; a former attorney that worked in a Manhattan firm until he drop kicked litigation to work with eight and nine year olds. The homework he assigns is about two and a half times the work Mina had last year. He requires that the parents are held accountable for everything too. Our signatures are needed nightly on every page, every list; initial here, sign there, make them redo this, and correct that. On top of that, twenty minutes of reading is required, 7 days a week, during breaks, holidays and sick days. I don't mind any of this. And the best part is that neither does Mina. We plug away and fumble around with time management and prioritizing. Maya's right there with us at the dining room table doing the same managing and prioritizing with her own very weighty seventh grade load. We're all about flashcards and redoing and reading through the toughness. I've always believed that there's no secret formula to hard work. I'm exhausted to be honest, but I'm encouraged and thrilled that Mina's on board 100%.

Yesterday, Mina told me she "spaced out through the window" during her math test. She froze when something felt too challenging. She put down her pencil and stared out the window for the rest of the time. Mr. R had her go into another room and with an aid's help Mina finished the test. Mina told me this on our walk home, and as she was shyly telling me the story, my heart was swelling and cracking. It was the first time this year that I've seen evidence of the self-doubt she had mildly contracted in second grade. It caused me panic.

Like a lunatic, I emailed Mr. R when we got home. It was a garrulous email pretty much pitching Mina; how terrific she is; please don't misunderstand her or judge her or think she's a bad student or that she can't do this. I told him we were working hard! All this residual emotional shit that I thought was flushed came gushing out on poor Mr. R. I did make the email a bit funny so he didn't think I was a complete freak. I hit send and had immediate remorse. Husband came home and I told him what had happened and I cried my eyes out for the first time in a million months. Husband said, "Jesus, it's ok if she struggles a little." And I stopped crying and thought, "Oh?" He said, "She's ok, Mami." Embarrassed, I wiped my cheeks with the palm of my hand.

This morning I received a response from Mr. R. I almost didn't want to open it. The first sentence read: "Wow!" Which made me laugh. He said he was impressed that Mina tells me all about her day and that the math test wasn't that big of a deal. He said he knows she can do the work and that she's a good girl and that he's happy she's in his class. He said Mina is certainly not the only kid that spaces out from time to time in his class. "She's fine. We'll make it through together," he wrote. And the world floated off me. I felt part of a team, Mina's Third Grade Team, and I then skip-skip-skipped to flash Mina some times-table cards.


Anonymous said...

Regarding pie:

Top secret substitute for evaporated milk:

Powdered soy milk with 2x powder to 1 part liquid.
Try soy creamer for the liquid.
Plain creamer for pumpkin pie, vanilla creamer for chocolate based desserts. -Faith

Rebel Girl said...

wow - pie - dance - math test - and strong beautiful women at every beat - I'm glad I checked in!

Give me the pie recipe!

Check out my new hangout:

xo - LA

madness rivera said...

The Mark On the Wall! I love it, R.Girl.

And Faith, my pumpkin pie angel . . .is this the answer to my problems? The powder? I had tried to simulate evap. milk by mixing half soy creamer and half soy milk. But I'll try the powder - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, don't measure the powder yet. I should have been more clear. That's 2x as much powder as the powdered milk directions call for to the same amount of liquid they call for.

Whew. Happy Baking.
My next project is a dairy free pumpkin cheesecake.

nicole said...

the pie looks delicious and maya looks adorable!

as a teacher/librarian working with 50+ classroom teachers, i'm sure mr. r appreciated your email.

in our society so many parents don't care, don't want to be held accountable. so any parent that does, we, at least most of good ones ;), want to work together with them.

so kudos to you!

Jessica said...

hello dude. just wanted to share my favorite pumpkin pie recipe ever:

I love it because the consistency is different from tradiational pumpkin pies. It's much lighter and fluffier because of the whipping and proportions of ingredients. It is nothing close to vegan - calls for sweetened condensed milk and eggs - but I thought it might be an interesting adaptable starting point for a vegan version. And the walnut streusel topping is ridiculously good - I'll never make a pumpkin pie without it again. Just a thought!

Also, I dig how much you dig your kids.

Marigoldie said...

Just registering my delight with the new thrifty dress. Go Maya. Go Mina. Go Mami.

acumamakiki said...

as is my way whenever i visit here, my own heart swelled and cracked as i too, worry and fret about my girl. she likes to dream, she likes to talk and know what's going on and she gets labeled because of it.

and i love your man's approach - that it's alright for things to be hard sometimes, because they just are.

i think because we had it hard as kids, we don't want that for our own. xo

angela said...

I love it when your posts give me goosebumps at the end. What a difference a great teacher can make, and apparently you have one. I bet this will be her year to blossom.

madness rivera said...

Thanks Nicole. Your note makes me feel better too.

And thanks Jessica. Hey, I'll try anything.

Acumama - The dreamers are the best even if they make you want to kick everyone off of them. You do great by your lil girl. She's gonna be just fine too. xoxo.

Marigoldie, I think I'm finding my thrift groove!

And Angela, I think so too. Thanks for the note, as always.

Emilie said...

seriously awwwwwwwesome lookin' pie there! and the kid's cute too... must be pretty talented to have made them both.