When a B trumps a A

I'm not a perfect Mom. I actually don't even want to be perfect, too much pressure. I realize that it makes life harder for my kids at times but hey, that is another life lesson learned, right? Um, I hope so.
Case in point, last week was finals week at my house. We stress over finals here. It matters especially for the two in highschool because it effects their GPA. Nick has high expectations. (here is another shining example of where I fall short) I do not. I believe that one test does not accurately depict the kind of student someone is...and fails miserably short in measuring the kind of person they are so...I'm good with B's. Enter Andrea, who is a great student in class, mostly because she acts her ass off. (We're talented thespians in all areas of life) She will sit in class and pay attention and participate and come home and have not one clue how to get the homework assignment done, especially in math and science. This year she has worked with a tutor all year. Now, Anuradha is our friend, she went to MIT. She is brilliant. And somehow she reaches Andrea, past her crazy coping mechanisms, past her hang ups and anxieties, those two work together. It's really something to see after struggling for 10 years trying to teach Andrea math and failing. The midterms did not go well...she studied. Her teacher told me she was ready. Anuradha told me she was ready...and Andrea told me she was ready. Not that I much trusted Andrea's opinion because she's said that before only to fail miserably so...but since it was the general concensus I relaxed. She got a C. Nick and I had a long discussion and came to the conclusion that Andrea is a C student in math. And that was going to have to be ok. So now we're preparing for finals. Andrea actually has a B- in math class at the moment. Anuradha asked for several more tutoring sessions to be prepared for finals. We started a few weeks early adding an extra session a week. The week before Anuradha sat with Andrea for 3 hours on Sunday, and another 2 hours on Monday then was available for questions on Tuesday. Math exams were on Wednesday. Joe and Alexa studied. Well, Joe sort of studied because he told me that you can't study for math...um ok. I sent him to study his equations.
Math finals starts off a week of finals. Historically it has been awful in that it starts Andrea off on a low note, doubting herself and feeling defeated...which bleeds into her other subjects, even history and English which she does well in. This year though Andrea came home bouncing on Math exam day. She understood everything that was asked and even had time to finish bonus problems. That has never happened. Now, Andrea said she thought she did well on her midterm...minus the bouncing. And I asked her, Andrea, how can I know that it's any different from last time. And she told me, "Mom, I just told you what I thought you wanted to hear last time." (smack child- um no I didn't just wanted to) I told her that I didn't want to hear anything but the truth. And she said, "This time I really did get it Mom." Alexa said her exam was super easy. Joe was fixated with his 8th grade trip and declined to comment.
And finals week became an actual pleasure. Andrea breezed through her other exams without the emotional baggage of previous exam weeks. She laughed. She joked. She studied. And we waited. I saw Anuradha at a party and we talked about the exams. I thanked her because even if Andrea's exam results were the same. Andrea's test anxiety was much relieved and to me, that made all the difference. She said she was going to ask the teacher how Andrea did. The next morning I got a text. Andrea did very well in her math exam.
Andrea came home and told me that she got a 87. An 87 is I believe at B, maybe a B+ if he is feeling generous. But, Andrea earned a B.
We celebrated all weekend. Occasionally calling out 87 and smiling. Joking that it was her birthday present to me, and my favorite one as well. And it was my favorite gift. really because it made her proud of herself. Nothing pains you more as a mother than to watch your child struggle and be helpless to fix it, as it eats away at her self confidence and pride. 87. My new favorite number.
Alexa texted me yesterday because she got a 98 on her math final. Alexa has always done well in Math. She is one of those kids who gets B's without trying and when she puts effort into it gets A's. She likes learning...she enjoys projects and doing extra credit in Science. She loves to get competitive with kids in her class on grades because with a little bit of effort she can breeze through something and get great grades. Alexa is not acting. Alexa is achieving. She's something else in a classroom. I told her that it was awesome. I told her I was so proud of her. But she is not getting the attention that Andrea got.
So, I am not a perfect mother. Because still I think 87 and get all choked up. Alexa earned her A . A 98 is fantastic. I AM proud of her. But Andrea fought for that B. She got down in the trenches of her own self doubt and clawed her way out. She studied and worked incredibly hard to understand even while those little voices were saying she couldn't do it. She sat there with that paper in hand and tackled one question at a time and won a hard fought battle. 87... I guess one test can tell exactly what kind of student you are.


Lake Como...finally

So...a few months ago we went to Italy for Easter break...and I never did get to finish uploading all our pictures and the adventures we had. After Verona, we stayed in Lake Como. From almost the first conversation we had about travel here people have been recommending Lake Como. It's beautiful, amazing and relaxing. It is those things. We also went on off season so it wasn't much of what we expected.
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Como di Como, which was a nice hotel, rather dated in style. But the location was good, outside the city itself but near a Ferry stop. Also, a great little Italian family owned restaurant with perfect service and amazing food.
Mainly the only boats on the water were the water ferries. We did get to see some kind of military exercise but not the amount of sailing boats I had imagined. Our first day we took a ferry up around the lake to see some of the other towns.

Some of the views along the way, which were absolutely stunning...

We stopped in Tremezzo to see the gardens at Villa Carlotta, which is a mansion with a beautiful view of the lake and gardens that seem to go on forever.

More views back on the boat...

We then stopped at Bellagio. Bellagio is exactly how I pictured towns on the lake to be, with charming shops that like the staired walkways climb up the side of the mountain the city if located on.

We had lunch at a terraced restaurant with a view of the lake

Departing Bellagio
Our final stop was to go to Verenna to see Castello di Vezio, a castle at the top of the hill (mountain) that supposedly had some birds of prey and other interesting things. We stopped for Gelato before our hike because Alexa and Nick seen from the boat just how far up we had to walk. Alexa decided she needed a "super" sized cone. We knew we were in trouble when she called for a special scooper from the back. We all had to help finish.

up the hill...
a view from the trail

a small town near the top...

We finally made it to the top, near closing time so none of the activities were going on, although I'm not sure they would have been as it did seem to be off season for everyone. We did get to walk through the remains of the towers....

then started our crazy attempt to get back to our original Ferry stop, we ended up going back to Bellagio, then waiting for about fifteen minutes or so to pick up another Ferry, which turned out to be the highspeed Ferry, which costs more but is so super cool...like riding in a plane, on the water. And also, got us back to the Como stop in time to catch the last bus to our stop. So worth the extra money.
Our next day we headed into Como city to walk around. The Duomo in Como

It was much bigger than I had anticipated. The inside was much like the other churches in Europe, large, open although, somehow, airy as light came in from the large Dome at the top. Below was a random facade of a building I found picture-worthy.

In Como there is a funicular, cable car, that takes you up to Brunate.

Where we found Andrea's church...
And there is a lighthouse, which we (Andrea and I) attempted to walk to..but seemed to never appear and we were afraid it would take us an hour or so, and then we had to walk back to where everyone was waiting...so after about a half hour we gave up. We all went back down the funicular and ate at a small restaurant near the lake...Nick found Pizza Rotolo...which we thought was funny because of how close it was to our last name...turned out to be rolled pizza.

We walked back to the hotel from Como, which is about a twenty minute walk...
stopped for some pictures...

Nick and I stopped at one of the Grand Villa's, Villa Olmo, on the way. It reminded me of Newport Mansions. It had a fabulous exhibition on Impressionist artists.
The next day with predictions of rain at the lake we hopped on a train to Milan. It was great to show the city to the whole family, as Alexa and I had been there before. A picture in front of the Duomo.

We tried to get those same amazing cappucino's from Dante's Cafe but the waiter who made them must not work there any longer. We just got regular large size cappucino's when we ordered them. (sigh)

We took the train back and then our last ferry boat to the hotel. The next morning we left for home. For those keeping track we were on just about every mode of transportation invented for this trip... Planes, cars, gondolas, water buses, water taxis, ferry boats, high speed ferry boats, funiculars, trains, and metros...can't think of anything we missed. Hope you all enjoyed the pictures.