Lydster: Chocolate mousse


chocolate mousseOn Election Day, my daughter was babysitting for much of the day. She texted me and said that she wanted to make chocolate mousse that evening for a contest the next day. It could help improve her French grade. Could I pick up some ingredients at the store before she got back?

What did she need? The recipe she found, which she wanted to double, required:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter – we have some, but maybe not enough
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, best quality – need
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated – have
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar – ?
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar – have
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold – need
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract – thought we had, but can’t find
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold – need
2 teaspoons sugar – have
Chocolate shavings – need

Potassium Bitartrate?

What the heck is cream of tartar? I discovered one can substitute one teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar for a 1/2 teaspoon of whatever it is. We had lemon juice. I wrote, “I didn’t want to buy the cream of tartar, which we would seldom use.”

She wrote back: “You sound like a nerd. ‘Seldom’ – c’mon, mate.” While I think it’s a fine word, her peers would say, “we won’t use it much.” I think that’s too wordy. She says that we nerds have “expectations of themselves that are too high.” Not the worst curse, especially for someone she says is cool, “for a boomer.”

Most of the work she did herself. She asked for help separating the eggs, yet her ultimate solution was far more efficient than my manual method. Emptying a water bottle, she squeezed it, creating a vacuum that sucked up the yolks.

The chocolate mousse turned out to be quite tasty, according to both of her parents. Because she had even MORE homework to do on a supposed day off from school, her father ended doing a lot of dishes the next day. He’s better at that task than cooking anyway.

late summer 2007
late summer 2007

Lydster: homework is unrelenting

“It teaches time management skills.”

homeworkMy daughter was sick the second Thursday and Friday of the school year back in September. She really was ill, with her temperature spiking over 100F, always in the evening, before we took her to the urgent care place and got her antibiotics.

Obviously, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve been in high school. But I don’t remember the homework being so unrelenting. And being ill is no excuse these days.

Her school district had embraced an “Attendance matters” initiative, “All day. Every day.” And if you’re not there – a high fever is reason enough IN THE DISTRICT’S RULES to keep the child home – the homework doesn’t go away.

It’s very easy to fall behind. My daughter has caught up, but it took over a week. It often involved staying up later than I would have wanted for her. I have been told that even second graders are getting homework, and are responsible for it, whether or not the child is present.

If you Google value of homework pros and cons, you’ll find some pros:

“It encourages the discipline of practice.” Maybe. “It gets parents involved with a child’s life.” That IS true. Since at least her third-grade class, I’ve been the parent who helped try to explain Common Core math, even when I was mystified by it. I look forward to school breaks and vacations as much as, or possibly more than, my daughter.

“It teaches time management skills.” Theoretically, but not necessarily, in this case. “Homework creates a communication network.” Not applicable. “It allows for a comfortable place to study.” I have NO idea how she studies with the television on.

“It provides more time to complete the learning process.” Sometimes the stuff that seemed to have made sense in the classroom actually becomes fuzzy by the time she gets home.

“It reduces screen time.” Well, THAT isn’t true. Much of her homework REQUIRES screen time to complete. The weekly AP European history quiz is online. The English papers are submitted electronically. An ad she did with some classmates REQUIRED her phone. Some research requires doing searches.

My daughter doesn’t love the homework. Her father isn’t a fan, either.

The Lydster: the 11th-hour homework

In this matter, she is VERY much her own person.

The Daughter and I are alike in many ways. One of the way we are not is in the approach to homework.

When I had it, I tried to get it done as soon as possible, lest it hang over my head. Her attitude is more… relaxed.

Back on November 9, I asked her if she had any homework over the three-day Veterans Day holiday, but she gave me a rather enigmatic answer. It was HER homework, after all, so I was not going to worry about it.

Still, on Friday the 10th, I asked her again. This time, she said, “The marking period ends today.” And do you have homework? “Yes, social studies.”

Well, how was she going to get this assignment done THAT DAY, when there was no school? Why, she could send it via Google docs. So at 3 p.m., she starts answering four questions, about Reconstruction after the Civil War, robber barons of the second half of the 19th century, and a couple other topics.

She completed the assignments. “There, an hour and a half and I’m done.”

I should note that at least one of these pieces was given out back when she was ill the second week in October, and I know she had started working on it when she got back to school the following week. But it was only the impending end of the marking period that motivated her to actually FINISH the task.

It is very easy for a person to project him- or herself in a situation and say, “If it were me, I’d have been a nervous wreck.” But that’s the point; she isn’t me.

And she isn’t her mother either who, less often these days than before, would preach the value of having the homework put away the night before in the proper place. I’d be my inclination, too.

As I’ve indicated, in this matter, she is VERY much her own person.

The Lydster, Part 125: The homework tradeoff

The assignment is actually a good exercise for the future learning, but it was introduced, essentially, as a punishment for cheating

LydiaGREENThis is what I think about The Daughter’s homework:
1) It’s often too much, in terms of time
2) It’s too often taught to these bizarre Common Core standards so that she might know the answers to the questions but doesn’t know how to show it the way THEY want her to

3) I found it odd that she could earn a homework pass, for one subject, if she brought in ten returnable bottles and/or cans.

Generally speaking, she has three areas of homework: spelling (alphabetize words, put in sentences, take a word and make it an acrostic); math (doing geometry and algebra stuff I didn’t do until much later); and reading. She LIKES reading, a lot actually, has at least since the above picture was taken five or six years ago. We’ve literally had to take a flashlight away from her so she wouldn’t read under the covers.

But she HATES writing the reading responses because they are not “fair.” Her class used to just keep a reading log, but apparently, some other kids were writing down titles of books they actually didn’t read. So now everyone has to write a narrative about what they read. The assignment is actually a good exercise for future learning, but it was introduced, essentially, as a punishment for cheating, and she wasn’t cheating.

Thus, the bottles collected are always in lieu of the reading assignment. They are painfully easy to come by. After her soccer game one June afternoon, we collected from the top of the trash 17 returnables, almost all of them water bottles. Why people don’t take them home for the nickel apiece is beyond me.

Still, the collecting has been its own lesson, about people’s wasteful, polluting nature.

The Lydster, Part 124: the acrostics

Expectations for

acrosticThis past year, for spelling, there was this predictable pattern for the homework of approximately 20 words.

Monday: put the words in alphabetical order. Sometimes tricky when you have six words starting with st
Tuesday and Wednesday: write ten sentences each night, using the spelling word. The sentences, more often than not, involved the cats; “Perhaps Stormy and Midnight will be friends.
Thursday: take one word and make an acrostic out of it. This is something I never had to do, but she got into it.

With her permission, nay, insistence, some of The Daughter’s acrostics, in no particular order. All (c) 2014 Lydia Green.

Ends where it begins

A dwarf can be
Rough but

Umbrella at
Midnight in
New York
(Stormy my cat)

Hears everything
Ears perk up
Rapidly runs from room to room
Sometimes very quiet and cuddly
Eyes glow in the dark
Loves to be crazy
Fears Midnight

Horses jump
Over the fence
Running free
Satisfying the crowd
Eating hay
Saves the day

Expectations for

Entree with a side of

Crayola presents all new colors:
Aqua blue
Orange and
Neon green

There are others, but those were the ones I could find easily.

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