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A Belated Mother’s Day Post

14 May

A Belated Mother’s Day Post

The rise and fall of my emotion is punctuated with bouts of extreme joy and maddening sadness on this day.

Your excitement, hardly contained, explodes into a dazzling smile that reaches your eyes – like shining angels that guide my way.

“Cookies! We made you cookies and a cake! It’s a surprise but it’s a cake.”

It’s a reminder of everything good in my life. Seeing the two of you grow up is piercingly beautiful, hauntingly sweet. I see your smiling faces start to grow sharp with the angles of pre-pubescent youth and I gasp.

Where has the time gone?

I held you to my chest and your body would rise with each breath.

Rise and Fall

Now I hold you close as you cuddle up to me but I can’t breathe with the weight of your growing bodies on my chest.

Where has the time gone?

Am I doing right by you? The happiness of holding you close makes me break down inside and weep openly within the confines of my conscious as it weighs heavily on me that I only give you myself. Will you be fine?

Rise and Fall

We get home and you take my hand, running up the stairs to show me your beautifully hand crafted decorations on the sugar cookies you have baked with your tia. Colors of happiness – light hues of green, pink and baby blue.

“A cake, we made you a cake!”

A strong palette of dark chocolate with accents of light pink mini hearts: a reflection of your own spirits. And I know that you are not just fine, you are wonderfully enveloped in my blanket of love.

Rise and Fall

Day by day. Smile by smile.

Rise we will.

The SuperFlyingMonkeys at the San Francisco Golden Gate Slides

22 Mar

Letter to my Dear Eliza on her 7th Birthday

13 Nov

When I see your face, your uninterrupted innocence, and feel the silkiness of your cheek when you rub it against mine in affection I am mesmerized.  I am awestruck and grateful for the simplicity in your joy and outlook in life; by your dreams full of cotton candy clouds, rainbows bursting through the sky, pink princesses leading the world; and your mommy loved above it all. 

You hold my hand, tilt your head to the side, giving me one of your crooked half smiles that can’t contain itself and I am filled with a radiating warmth that makes the world around me livelier.

 I work hard instilling a joy for life, an appreciation for everything around us; whether it is observing the morning dew glittering on a blade of lime green grass or sitting quietly taking in the fiery and purple hues of our LA sunsets.  I pray, in my own way, that you take what happiness you can from each moment in life and that these moments become a permanent state of happiness for you.

Each time I threw a penny in a wishing pond, each time an eyelash fell and we pressed it against our fingers, every birthday cake wish since I’ve had you two, I have fervently wished that you grow to be Happy and Kind – wonderful women.

 Along the way of finding ways to improve your chances of a better tomorrow, I have found bits and pieces of happiness myself.  As I looked for a better education for the two of you, I found a way to use my skills to volunteer and received a higher sense of fulfillment.  As I pushed you into the arts, I became immersed in a colorful world of music, acting and dance. 

 We have grown happier together.  We have grown stronger together.

 Today you are seven years old. 

 I was 21 and a mother of two with a growing sense of dread and an urgent need to raise you on my own before you were marred with witnessing what I did as a child.

 No one knew what went on nor do they need to know.  I set out with the two of you and we carried on as three.  It is the hardest decision I have ever made.  Not because of what I needed but for fear that I was being weak by not putting up with a bad situation so you could have your father. 

 In many ways I have never been a child but more of a half adult.  I experienced life’s travails and physical exigencies while still trapped in a child’s body.  Like a Matryoshka doll, I forced forward the strength of an adult to appease the need of others when inside I was physically and deep down, emotionally, still a child. 

But since the first moment I laid eyes on you, I Loved you.  You were my renewed link to life in many ways, my dear.  With time, I have found my own place, independent of you two, I discovered self-love.  But what remains unchanged are the tears that threaten to spill from my eyes, the ache in my chest, in my soul, when I think of you and the love I have for you. 

 I say all this in tribute to you; to the strength that you have as a seven year old, to have lived through the many low’s that life dealt us in the past but retaining only the good.

 You take heart in the beauty of dying embers even when the fire burned.

 Your eyes, full of honest and raw adoration looked up at me and thanked me for a weekend that reminded you of how special you are.  I will never forget what you told me that night.  I share it in hope that it inspires the formerly unloved to focus on the care and love of their own children instead on love that was not received. 

 The night was bitingly cold but we happily lingered in the moment as we walked back from your birthday dinner.  I took your small fingers in my hand and caressed them with the magic that hung, suspended in the air.

 You stopped and looked up at me, your eyes shining with tenderness, and asked me,

 “Mommy, you know how you can happy cry?”

 “Yes?”

 “When you read me your card, you made me happy cry.”

 —The contents of said birthday card will remain private because I whispered those words, meant only for you, into your ear—

 “Iza, you’re making me happy cry now.”

 “Thank you Mommy.” And you hugged me tightly.

 That in a life continuously assaulted with the love for Things, with the need of bigger, better, brighter!, you chose to focus on and appreciate the love that I show you, made my wish come true.

 

 

Twists and Turns

13 Oct

I’ve been gone for a bit, I have had a few moments when I have wanted to sit down and write but I kept putting it off.

I think the best writing comes when you feel the emotion pouring out fluidly like a stream of water filling up a glass; you hardly have to try to get it out because it just keeps on going so easily.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I have always wanted to love.  I have memories that go back pretty far, some where I couldn’t be much older than 2 1/2 years old and it was always the same urge to love and be loved.  Memories of standing up on my crib watching those around me, holding on to the side rail and wanting to capture someone’s attention; anyone to pick me up and hold me.

When I was twelve I decided to run away.  I had several impulses to leave before then but this was the first time that I decided to methodically plan out my exit plan and timeline of goals so that I coul survive and sustain myself without falling into harm.  I was in the seventh grade and my parents had bought me a neon yellow fleece sweater with a matching neon yellow and gray hiker’s backpack from Old Navy.  When I was home alone I would put this pullover on and try to see how I could improve my packing skills so I could fit in jeans, underwear, tops, layered clothing and a loaf of bread with a jar of peanut butter.  I would pull out some paper and write letters to each of my family members telling them how I felt towards them, what made me leave, the secrets that remain hidden from them; and then I would crumple them up and walk to the kitchen.

The flickering and tick tick of the pilot coming to life was a ritual for me; feeling the heat of the flames lick at my palm as I waved it closer and closer, longer and longer, over the fire; hoping to feel something, anything.  Then tossing the crumpled letters in one at a time until all that was left was black as coal ashes that would stain the stove top.  I would pull out the dish rag and scrub at the black soot until the surface was white and shiny again.  And I would walk back to my room and look around, hoping for a sign that would prompt me to leave.  Instead, I would inevitably find a toy of my baby sister and I would feel horribly rotten for thinking of abandoning her.  I would slump down and unpack and watch my fingers, trembling with defeat, pull the blanket over me so I could sleep the reality away.

These feelings didn’t leave me when I got older.  I postponed my plan of leaving and figured that I would find a relief when I went off to college and I concentrated my energy on doing well in school.  But the twists and turns of life would always veer me off my road.  The darkness of depression would weigh me down and I would sink into the black sea of inertia; finding other ways to feel, other means of escaping reality which made me lose my way.

And it was easy to give into a quick fix of feeling better; through relationships and compliments; through the idea of a family and an impromptu marriage.  And soon the swelling of my belly gave me both hope and heavy sadness that I would live beyond 26 years old.  It is easy to judge my decisions from your point of view; why fall into so many destructive situations time and time again?  But would you really care if you “knew” you would not live beyond your 20′s?  If you had the firm belief that eventually it would all be over anyway, would you really care that you were endlessly fucking up?

But through motherhood I found a vine that tied me down to this Earth and refused to let me go.  When Iza came tumbling out close behind it forced me to wake up from the fog of life I had been perfectly accepting as the only reality.

I held a very painful battle within myself when I had my daughters and the only thing that kept me from falling deep into the abyss of suicide was the acute understanding that I would now be harming them by leaving them with such a bitter introduction to life.

I don’t know how I found the strength to shake myself into awareness of my surroundings and plan a real exit plan; a journey into a better life for my girls if not for myself.  And I stuck with it and I left.

Failure at Marriage: I never thought I would marry anyone but when I did, even if at a moment of stupidity and pressure, I felt that I had to carry it through the end and when I didn’t, I felt the heavy cloak of shame slipping off my shoulders and baring what a useless person I was.

Every now and then I look back and I wonder at what went wrong.  We were both attractive, young, so full of energy at the beginning; but it was too quickly drowned out by our heavy baggage of childhood memories that we dragged with us into our new life.  And now I know that walking away was the best thing I could have done for the girls and I.

But I lay broken, disappearing as I couldn’t eat or sleep.  I had no self-worth.  The twisted thing is that I would have moments when I would look in the mirror and think, who is that beautiful young woman?; but that would quickly dissolve into a self mocking attack against my own psyche.

And I had quite a few missteps and I certainly found numbness along the way.  I don’t regret the passage of time and I don’t hate myself for what I put myself through; let bygones be bygones.  Live and learn and I did, I have, I do.

I am still finding my way in life, both through the stumbles and joys, but I do it at a much slower pace.  I have learned to take my time, to listen to my instincts, to my thoughts, to what makes me happy.

And happiness is there for the taking.  I never thought I would feel the kind of love that my girls give and show me every day.  It is the most beautiful feeling in this world and it erases all of the pain and ugliness that I have experienced.  Unconditional Love eases all but you can’t experience it unless you provide it yourself as well.  Loving the two of them is the most honorable privilege and I try to be worthy day in and out.

And for the day that I can give a partnership a chance again, well that still seems off in the sunset but the belief that it is out there is still in me.  I can and do love and it is freeing.  It makes me smile like a fool and it brightens up an already beautiful day.  Love for who you ask?  Love for love given.  Love for respect, care, admiration, appreciation, thoughtfulness, embracing the truth no matter how unappealing at times, love for reality.  That is freeing.  To be me.  To be Loved for more than skin deep and to discover the limitless supply of love and strength inside me brings me an incredible high.  And it is no longer numbness nor finding an escape; it is welcoming what is to come with the willingness to live not just to and keep going but to move forward in this path of twists and turns.

Back to School

28 Aug

Loving Sisters, Daughters of Mine

I can’t help but feel the tightness in my chest as I see your little faces scrunched up with worry as you start school again.  You cling to me and I have no plans to let you go.  I want to hold the both of you like this, close to me, with my arms wrapped tightly around those two sets of shoulders that I never want to carry the weight of worries and fear.

At times, I regret my selfish motives in bringing you into this world. Did I do you wrong?

But that is an equally selfish and stupid thought to have.  When I look into your little shiny eyes, I can see how much happiness you will bring into this world, many times over what you already bring to me and those that are lucky enough to know you.

You possess kindness, sweet dispositions, tender hearts that ache at other’s suffering, and a joyous ringing giggle that can bring a smile to anyone who hears its music.

I am incredibly happy and blessed to have you as my own, to lay claim to having had some say in how wonderfully you are turning out.  No matter what other great things I accomplish in this life, the two of you will always overshadow them with your perfection of sweet little human beings that you are.

I am biased, no doubt, but I could care less about what others may think is an exaggeration; they have not met you.  They have not felt the velvet warmth that fills my soul when you hold me tightly as I tuck you into bed.  Nor you’re refusal to let go of my neck when I kiss you goodnight. :)  That love that carries through when we look at each other, smile at one another, and cuddle up with each other is unparalleled.

Some of my favorite moments are when I am in the car stopped at a red light and I reach back with my right hand and two little sets of hands instantly latch on.  You just know to expect it.  Or when one of us has a particularly difficult day whether it’s a  demanding project for me at work or someone not sharing with you at school; we listen to one another – no matter how frivolous it may be to others, we listen, we know.  And we always end it with our salute of Three Musketeers, and if that doesn’t work, we fall into a fit of giggles brought on by silly faces or jokes.
Some day the two of you will know how happy you make me.  When you are old enough I will tell you how instrumental you were in my life and how much motivation you provided.  I will confess that it’s a lot of work to raise two little ones on my own.  It was hard to have you so young after marrying too young.  But you two are like little wells of happiness that I can endlessly dip into when I need a smile, when I need a reason to see why every day is a gorgeous day, when I need a reminder of how precious life is.
No matter how tired I may be, no matter how much I want to take a nap after a long day of work and driving around to take care of the mundane needs of life, I can draw strength from your little smiling faces.  Those little beaming half-moons that fill me with an inexplicable energy to get everything done to make sure we have a simple but happy life.
I will be here for you always, no matter where you go or what you may or may not do, I will be here to love you unconditionally and to listen when no one else may seem to.  Every morning I will think of you and every day you will continue to be my babies, my little treasures, my Bellini and IzaPizza, no matter your age.
Whether it’s the first day of school, you’re first interview, or your first date (God forbid it happens before you’re 22), I will be here holding on tightly and leading the way.

The Little one Turns 5

19 Nov

My baby, you turned 5 last week; I can still feel your small warm body lying on my chest when you were only hours old. How did this happen?

Seeing my little girls grow up with smiles on their innocent faces makes my heart swell up to the point that it hurts to take a breath. How can I love them so much? I see them and tease them, “It should be illegal how much I love you!” and enjoy the waterfall of giggles that follows. Every smile and “I love you”, every kiss and hug, every sparkle in their eye, eases the pain that I have inside. It cleanses my wounds and allows them to heal.

Iza – I hope that I can always show you how much I love you, how much you mean to me, how much good and happiness you have brought into my life.

As you twirled around in your brand new puffy dress you looked so giddy; waiting for your special day. When you saw the lighted candles on the cake, your eyes lit up in a way that I found almost alien to admire. Your little hand reached out and took mine as we sang Happy Birthday to you. Your eyes locked onto mine and your smile made me want to weep; such happiness in a child, such a clear understanding of what your life should be.

At the end of the night you were deep asleep on the couch, leaning against your sister. You were like two precious dolls, frozen in infancy, plainly showing perfection. As I dressed you for bed and tucked your little body in, I couldn’t stop whispering how much I loved you in your ear and you rewarded me with an angels smile in your sleep.

Always be happy Iza, always be your carefree charming self. You are my little sun and I am a flower that leans toward you, seeking nourishment in my heart. I greedily take your hugs and kisses and draw strength from them.

Sweet Iza, Happy 5th Birthday!

Mommy loves you so, so much

Play Dates: Not Just for the Suburbs

9 Nov

Since the 1999 Adaptive Reuse Ordinance breathed new life into our once-sleepy urban center, Downtown has become quite the booming neighborhood. Our streets no longer go to sleep at 6pm, and new restaurants, bars and lounges are now keeping us up late. Instead of hiding our residences in shame, Downtowners can now be proud of our neighborhood and invite friends to come gawk at how much Downtown has changed.

Those changes are rapidly including more and more families. Hang out around one of our plentiful coffee shops and you’re likely to see a neighbor walking by pushing a stroller.

Downtown is an enticing place for young couples, even after the bundle of joy comes knocking. You get to live amongst historic buildings with beautiful architecture. You get to expose your child to an urban environment. Perhaps best, you get to stay late at work and still get home at the same time as you would living in the suburbs — or leave at the same time and get more hours at home.

Young professionals have long been the legs of Downtown redevelopment, but many of them will soon settle down and have children of their own. City officials need to sharpen their planning skills to make it easier for parents to retain their residence, income, and capital in Downtown.

Those involved in Downtown revitalization, including the Business Improvement Districts, need to realize that they now have a new constituent to serve – my toddler.
First off, she needs a good elementary school and a proper space to meet other kids and play in a safe, shaded and inviting park. She wants kid-friendly events year-round. She’d be especially happy if new ventures such as the Grand Avenue Project would take her into consideration when designing their developments. And what she really wants to know is whether Pershing Square will ever be a place she can hit up with her newfound buddies and furry four-legged friends.

Play Dates are a necessity to any parent living or working in Downtown. They are prime opportunities for networking, a rich resource for finding daycare, help around the house, a part-time babysitter, or for just enjoying a cup of coffee while sharing the latest news in Downtown. Yahoo groups such as DTLA Kids and CityKidsLA are emerging and inviting parents to meet each other and form a sense of community. The groups and outings provide a medium to de-stress from the woes of child-rearing and share experiences about urban parenting.

The Downtown Center BID says that it wants people to “Live, Work and Play” in Downtown L.A., but do they realize that the only place my toddler can really play is Grand Hope Park? Its foreboding high black iron-fence, lack of shade in the playground and couples that frolic romantically in the grass nearby do not make it exactly kid-friendly.
This is an ABC soup of ideas for parents to mull over and contribute what they would like to see in Downtown L.A.. Whether everyone likes it or not, kids will soon be a dominating issue in the question of which amenities need to be brought to Downtown.
In a few years many of the Downtown residents will be cruising Main street with a Bugaboo and baby in tow. Hopefully by starting this conversation sooner rather than later, those future parents will have a good school, kid-centric entertainment, and more green space waiting for them. Then they can set the stroller brakes for a moment and contemplate staying in Downtown for good.

Susana Benavidez lives in South Park and is the mother of two 3-year-old girls. She will be writing weekly about life Downtown with children.

Published December 11, 2008

http://blogdowntown.com/2008/12/3884-play-dates-not-just-for-the-suburbs

Negotiating an Education for Downtown Kids

9 Nov

Writing for blogdowntown has opened my senses to everything dealing with children in our neighborhood. Suddenly I am in the middle of a burgeoning cause of concern for the future education of Downtown L.A.’s youngest residents.
I have been a loyal fan of blogdowntown and Downtown News since moving to South Park and I have seen a trend of the social issues that residents feel should be addressed.
When Kathryn Maese, of Downtown News, wrote “A Jarring Downtown Wake Up Call”, angry responses flooded in accusing her and her supporters of being self-entitled yuppies. Advocates for the homeless individual that harassed her child angrily defended Downtown as the rightful home to the homeless population and not that of the new “loft dwellers”.

As I probe the possibility of educating my daughters here in downtown and not having to move to find decent education, I have met several parents that share my concern. Residents in Historic Core, South Park, and Little Tokyo have voiced their frustration for lack of a good school or any school within walking distance to any of those locations.

I knew I would find parents that felt the same way I do, that we deserve a school in return for the property tax that we contribute. Along the journey of exploring a solution, though, I stumbled upon another demographic that is underserved in downtown.
Residents of the affordable housing units, of the hotels that lease monthly rooms, of the Midnight Mission, which school do you think they have to go to? The creation of a downtown elementary school, available to all downtown residents, would satisfy the hunger of education-starved young students. When I walk to Ralph’s or Grand Hope Park, I see dozens of young school-aged children that cling to their parents and peer at my daughters with interest. It strikes a chord in me as I recall growing up and the poor resources that my community had to make do with. Ridiculous is what defines the circumstances in which these young children are being raised. One of the reasons I love downtown is that it exposes my children to diversity and that is exactly what should be found in a school for downtown residents.

I have no tolerance for under-educating an individual, but to educate a young child with the misconception that it is acceptable to have to live in poverty and be weighed down in the economic-climb of adult hood with a faltering education is unacceptable.
Navigating the political and bureaucratic landscape of LAUSD requires a GPS composed of an extensive network of parents and residents who someday hope to have children in downtown. For all the meetings, calls, and emails that I make; it amounts to nothing if no one steps forward to demand the necessities of a functioning and thriving residential neighborhood. Parents have been contacting me, expressing their support, knowledge, and initiative in bringing a proper education institution to downtown.

Young children deprived of a school are an issue that should not exist in downtown Los Angeles. Residents have created an economic anchor that has inspired small business owners and restaurants to open in what used to be a sleepy downtown. My kids, as much as the children that live in temporary or low-income housing, deserve the time and attention from Los Angeles politicians to create a proper learning environment.

Published January 8, 2009

http://blogdowntown.com/2009/01/3945-negotiating-an-education-for-downtown-kids

You Always Have a Choice: Charter, Magnet or Zoned School

9 Nov

The quest for a school in Downtown L.A. has brought me in contact with wonderful people. I met with Ted Morris, founder of FuturoPrep Charter School, who proved to be a wealth of information and a perfect source for little nudges in the right direction. I contacted Councilwoman Jan Perry, whom responded incredibly fast and referred me to a few charter schools and to her Education Director: Pamela Huntoon.

The meeting we set up at Urth Caffé, which was attended by parents and Ted Morris, was successful in identifying that we need a guide to find the right elementary school. Through research on the LAUSD website, greatschools.net and individual school websites, I was able to compile data on test scores, the diversity breakdown, and state ratings on the public, charter, and magnet schools that surround Downtown.

First a little information on what each type of school means.
You have public schools, which you are zoned to based on your residence. Go to http://www.lausd.net to find your school. There are vouchers and permits provided by LAUSD to send your child to a specific school in order to promote diversity in “good” schools; information on permits and vouchers will be discussed in future articles.
Charter schools are open enrollment, funded by state and federal sources. One of the perks of a charter is that you can apply to as many schools as you want in all of California. You are not forced to go to a charter based on your address. All students and parents at a charter school are there by choice; you need to apply to get in. Most deadlines to apply are the last week of March or first week of April. Charters have the freedom to hire non-union teachers, focus on a teaching method or subject. Charter schools are still held to California state testing and core curriculum standards.

Magnet schools have an emphasis in a field: math and science, performing arts, liberal science, music, etc. You must have applied by the January 9th deadline. You can find more information on magnets at http://www.echoices.lausd.net.

At our meeting on Sunday, we were able to pick the brain of Ted Morris. Charter schools seem to be the new answer for parents zoned to low-performing schools. It was refreshing to listen to Mr. Morris break down what you need to look for in a charter to identify it as a good school. API scores can be deceiving since they are based on test scores, socio-economic backgrounds, diversity, etc. The best thing to do is choose a few schools that interest you, look for test scores and diversity (if that is what you want) and then plan a visit to the school. Finding the right school is like finding your first home: you have a wish list, you go on a house hunt and then you see which one “feels right”, sometimes compromising a few items on the list.
Morris is currently working to open a charter elementary school named FuturoPrep in Boyle Heights or possibly Little Tokyo. It is amazing to see the possibilities that are opened once you delve into the “charter” world. The parents at the meeting and myself were excited to hear of the possibility of FuturoPrep coming to Little Tokyo. He has two other locations in mind that are in Boyle Heights (which doesn’t seem so far with the Gold Line opening soon). If you would like to contact Mr. Morris or know of any other interested parents, please email me at susana@blogdowntown.com.

Pamela Huntoon sent me a booklet with a list of elementary schools. She would be happy to send more out to any interested parties.
This article is more data and less emotion. When your child’s education is at stake, you are bound to get frustrated, upset and very emotional. The best you can do is focus on what YOU can do to prep your young one for school. Reading every day, whether it be a kids book or your favorite newspaper, encourages literacy and creates family bonding. You can make flash cards of the alphabet, numbers and even phonics so that they are as advanced as possible when they start kindergarten.
The best thing about living in Downtown L.A. as far as raising children is that we are rich in resources such as the public libraries, MOCA, JANM , the Music Center, and public transportation to take you anywhere else!

For the spreadsheet:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=prohs0CFAls8CBwk_SAYHAQ

Published January 16, 2009

http://blogdowntown.com/2009/01/3973-you-always-have-a-choice-charter-magnet-or

Taking a Break from the School Search to Party!

9 Nov

After the chaos of the Holidays — the flu, an infected tooth, way too many gifts and an empty wallet — we decided to raise the stress-o-meter by throwing a kid’s birthday party in Downtown!

My daughter turned four and since she has been asking for a party since the day after she turned three, I caved in. In my defense, before you start labeling me a pushover I should note that she is well behaved, likes school and does her chores.

The first obstacle was trying not go overboard: on the guest list, the food, the presents, and goodie bags.

Mission failed.

It doesn’t help that I have seven aunts and uncles, each of which averages 3-5 kids. That made my guest list about 60.
Then I decided to cook the food myself, all vegetarian. At this point I felt I had already broken the barrier of comfortable hostess to overdrive maniac so I figured, how much harder is cooking?
It turned out well. We ate Mexican tostadas with fried pinto beans, soy meat, cheese, garnished with cabbage, bell peppers, sour cream, salsa, tomatoes and onions. Hmmm… I’m craving it now. I made pizza, guacamole, and salsa and chips for appetizers, and bought (thank you Flan-King) flan from the Farmer’s Market for dessert. I am happy to report that my family (Mexican) did not realize it wasn’t “real” meat. They were also very flexible when it came to driving and parking instructions (the lot at 8th/Grand).

Even though it was stressful to organize the party so close after the New Year, it was great to buy everything local. I went to the Piñata District where I found all the Princess paraphernalia any four year old would dream of. At Escamex, a party supply store, I bought everything I needed for the tableware and goodie bags.
My next stop was the Toy District. I found Princess notebooks, stamps, tiaras, wands, glasses — everything that meant I was going overboard. My daughter scored a nice present from me thanks to the vendors at this hidden gem in Downtown. Where else can you get books, a playhouse, a toy stroller, puzzles, a book bag, goodie bag fillers, and a school activity set for under $100?
Dear Ralphs, where would I be without you? You might make me pinch my wallet but when you have a sale, the clasp comes undone and out pours the green. The tomatoes, avocados, and ice cream were on sale the days before the party, score! That subdued the pain I felt when I saw the prices for soy meat.
Thanks to the farmers market, I found good deals on fresh produce and Flan-King had a discount on their flans that week. I was feeling lucky.

The party turned out great: it was 75 degrees in the middle of winter, the kids loved their treats, swimming, the improvised puppet show, the tiaras and wands and the food was devoured! It was convenient to have the party at the Club Room in our building, which eliminated any concern for space. It was easy to set-up, have fun and clean up. A success I would say, but not a feat I look forward to repeating anytime soon.

Next year, she’s getting a library card, the gift that keeps on giving.

Published January 23, 2009

http://blogdowntown.com/2009/01/4000-taking-a-break-from-the-school-search-to

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