Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fabulous Fajitas

An easy meal, and if the kids don't like it, just make them cheese quesadillas, no added fuss for you, but lots of extra goodness for you. We love these left over as well, and the toppings are great on a salad the next day.

Mama Bear's Fajitas

Marinade (MoJo):

1orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 chipolte chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
3 Tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 pounds top sirloin

The Rest of the Yummy:
2 peppers sliced, I use any color combo except for green
1 large purple onion sliced
lime juice, optional
12 flour tortillas
home made salsa
guacamole, optional

Combine all marinade ingredients, puree until smooth with an immersion blender if you would like. Place steaks in a large plastic bag, add marinade and slosh around until steaks are covered. Set in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours. Any longer and the steak might get overly mushy.
Heat grill pan or George Foreman grill after lightly covering with olive oil. Cook steaks until desired done-ness is achieved. For my kids, that means "there had better not be even one dash of pink showing!" Remove from grill and set aside.

Heat olive oil in frying pan and saute peppers and onion until crisp tender. Personally I like mine a little more charred, but to each his own.

Slice steaks into strips, add to pepper and onions just until heated again.

Warm tortillas in a damp towel in the microwave until floppy. My microwave takes about 1 minute.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and a squirt of fresh lime juice!


Friday, March 5, 2010

In The Middle

Next year my youngest daughter heads to middle school. I'm already nervous. It's not that I'm worried about her getting lost, or forgetting her locker combination, or not making friends. I'm worried that the choices I have to make for her now, this month, will be the wrong choices for her when September rolls around.

Miss 11, as I have written about previously, has a few learning disabilities, along with ADD/anxiety. Since third grade she has been on an IEP. She sees a teacher who helps her with specific subjects for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. This does not mean that she is not incredibly intelligent. She has a great IQ score and reads at a 10th grade 6th month reading level, that's 4 grades above her current grade. She regularly gets straight A's in Science and Social Studies. Her English and Reading grades are awesome, and rarely do I have to help with either of those subjects anymore. We study together for tests, but daily work is typically completed in school, and done perfectly.

If you move on to Math and Spelling, you encounter a completely different child. Shockingly these two subjects are very related. I have heard several of Miss 11's LD teachers discuss how it is very common for a student who doesn't excel in Math, to struggle with spelling as well. This is not the case for my oldest daughter who can spell most anything, but struggles like crazy with math, so I know that generalization is not always the case. Miss 11 has a written expression Learning Disability. This doesn't mean that she can't write a brilliantly thought out essay or story. Her plots are deep and well planned; her paragraphs are thorough and well researched. It does mean that if she has actually physically written the paragraph by hand, you might not be able to figure out the words she wrote. The spelling of words and the physical production of the words may be a complete mystery. She knows what it says but at times I can't even figure it out.
She can not remember how to spell words that she had last week (and aced!) on a spelling test. She doesn't retain that information in her head. She can read the word, but not spell it back to you.

This carries over to math. She can tell you exactly how to do a math problem, but she can't remember her math facts. Memorizing multiplication tables is nearly impossible; but she knows exactly how to figure out 9X7. While her classmates know it off the top of their head, she has to figure each one out, typically add 9 seven times in her head or using her fingers. Imagine how long a 6th grade math problem takes if you have to do that every time you multiply. Currently they are doing Algebraic fractional equations. Her mistakes don't come in any of the hard part, it comes when she multiplies 6X8 and gets 42 instead of the correct answer.
Last week she had a math test. She got a 70% which is a D- at her school. Was I angry with her? No, I was angry that getting 9 wrong was a 70%, but proud that she only got 9 wrong and that it wasn't for lack of knowing how to do the problem, she did each one correctly, it was because of multiplication facts early in the problem that continued and gave her the wrong answer in the end. Next year, they get to use calculators. I hope and pray this will be just break she needs to gain her confidence back in math.

After all that background, here is my dilemma. We are currently signing up for classes at the middle school. There are not a lot of options for electives if you are in band. Miss 11 is in band, it's important to try band now because you can't pick it up later and expect to have much success. There are even fewer options if you are in band AND on an IEP. in fact, there is only 1 option: band and resource are the only electives you can choose.

Does she need the extra help? Yes, right now she does. But, once they are using calculators, and typing more papers on the computer, spelling and math become much less of an issue. We are just waiting for that wire to fuse in her brain, the one that we know will some day, the one that finally joins the rest of the wiring, and the switch clicks on, and BOOM- suddenly it's just not a big struggle anymore. Will it be soon? Will it fuse in college? Since we can't predict the timing, we can't predict what she needs from year to year.

Yes, I can sign her up for resource now and just see what happens. But the problem then is that all the other classes fill up, and she's stuck there, even if she doesn't need it in the future, because all the other electives are full.

Add to that problem the fact that one of the current resource room teachers at the middle school is someone that Miss 11 had years ago. They did not get along well, due to no fault of Miss 11. (Our principal actually requested that this teacher not come back to our elementary school the following year. The people who assign LD teachers
agreed with him, and she was not allowed back.)

Will the students who are not in resource now be labeling Miss 11 in some way? Will it become a social stigma? It certainly is not a problem where she is now. The other students in her class don't think twice about it. But middle school is a whole new ballgame. She will be in a class of nearly 200 instead of a class of 16. Will she miss out on the socializing part because she will miss out on all the "fun" electives she could be choosing from?

What we decide now, may be a decision that affects her drastically in the coming school year. How do we know what is right? And what is best.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

GE I Have Your Number!

I'm still being nice, I've had it up to HERE, but I'm still being nice. However, GE, should you not come around to my way of thinking in the next 2 weeks, I will no longer be nice! I will pepper the Internet with exactly what I think of you!

It's been about a year. I got a new stove! Not just any stove, I spent the extra money and got a glass top, convection oven, self cleaning, 3 racks (that can be left in the oven when it gets cleaned!) stove. I tried it, convection didn't seem any faster, it didn't add any more browning, it didn't do what it said it would do. So, I called my local dealer and the repair guy came, checked it over and agreed. It's not doing what it's supposed to do. He tinkered. It still didn't work. I took pictures of the finished products that I had baked in the oven. Brown in the front, uncooked in the back, really not pretty. The repair guy came back and replaced the whole computer board in the oven, but it was June or so, and throughout the summer I seldom use the oven, so I really didn't concern myself or pay attention.

Roll on to September and lo and behold, my beloved convection oven doesn't seem to be doing what it is supposed to do. The repair guy comes again, agrees with me, tinkers. We try again for a week or so, it still doesn't work. I call my local store where I purchased my GE stove. They agree this is a problem and call GE. GE says replace the computer board again. So they do. IT STILL DOESN'T WORK.

It's nearly Christmas, I am baking like crazy, I am having a meal more than once for 13 or so people. One night I make home made pizza's. Not thick pizza, just regular pizza. It took over 45 minutes to bake them, and the center crust IS STILL NOT DONE. I lost it, I threw a good old fashioned tantrum, I cried, and stomped and got really mad. This is not a cheap stove our local repair guy and store has been great, but my expensive stove is still not working!

Hubby calls the local store, and they so kindly agree it is a problem. Their solution, knowing I have big meals to prepare in the Christmas season, is to come and get the stove, and give me a loaner until GE finally agrees to do something. Because I need a stove, one that WORKS! That was in December. I still have the loaner stove. Our local dealer can get no response from GE. Their customer service has left him on hold for lengthy, lengthy periods of time. This is a business owner who doesn't have time to be sitting on hold.

Today we personally called GE at a request from our local dealer who is getting no response from them. GE asks for the repair guy to fax over all the repair records. I am quite sure this has already been done, but we call and ask the local shop to do it again.

GE I have your number, and at this point, I have no intention of buying another GE product for my home. Not only am I asking just to have my stove replaced, I am actually going one step up on the stove and willing to spend more money on the next one. You have 2 weeks. That's it. Either this problem gets resolved then, or I'm headed to the local Sears store.