Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day of the Year

Little to no blogging of late, because Viva and Sweet Dub have been on vacation and that means we all spend a lot of time together, very little of which involves a computer. Even now, after I've spent just a little time getting caught up on email and blogs, they are giving me a hard time for being on the computer. It is 1:23 pm and I am still in my pajamas, letting 2008 wind down in mellowness.

To all of you out there in Internetland: many blessings in the new year. May you be healthy and swimming in joy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rainy Days and Mondays

It's raining and chilly here in Southern Cal and that makes me want to do not much of anything.

Despite the rain, after dropping Viva off at school I motored on and interviewed a childcare provider today and (dare I say it?), it looks like we may actually have secured a spot for our little one next month. I really like the director of the program, I like the philosophy of the center (for those keeping score at home, they use the RIE approach) and it's only 5 minutes from my job.

As far as the other kid: we have made the decision to suck it up and leave Viva at her current school, even though we will probably have to dip into our savings to pay for it for the next six months. I still want to get her into the decent public school in our neighborhood, but I have to go through a permit process to try and get her in for September since we are outside the boundaries. (Yes! How can it be more of a struggle to get her into public school? I don't get it.) We don't want to move her twice in one year, so we will keep her where she is. Errrgh. Ye gods.
In holiday news: what are the odds that I'll get Christmas cards out this year? Scratch that - what are the odds that I'll get Christmas cards with a photo of the family on them out this year? I'm thinking those odds are not good. The only photo I have of Viva and Cily is very grainy, but maybe I could make kind of an artsy card...

This is on my mind because we recently processed some 35mm film from this summer. I wish I had a beautiful photo like this of my two girls together:

Viva peeking out from the pear tree in our (former) front yard. Sadly, the only picture I have of the two of them (besides the grainy one taken off the videocamera) is of me pregnant with Cily, hanging out with Viva:
I don't think this really counts as a picture of the two of them. By the by, I can't figure out why the scanner is putting those black bars on the side of the photos. It's wildly irritating to me. But I love this series of photos and I wanted to share and I can't find the photo CD that has these shots on it. And let's be real, it's difficult enough for me to get on the computer these days...
Viva dancing around the front yard...
Aaaand... Miss Cily's up. Time to go attend to her every whim...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

All Childcare, All the Time

Aside from all the holiday hoopla, I'm neck-deep in childcare research right now. The latest on the school issue: I visited the local elementary school for which we are allegedly zoned this morning. It's not what I thought. It's a different demographic for sure -- skews primarily Latino and Armenian (I know, only in L.A.). I met the principal, who was friendly, approachable and very thorough, and she gave me a spur-of-the-moment tour, so I got to see the kindergarten classes in action. I saw one Asian boy and one African-American girl in the two classes I visited, and everyone else pretty much appeared to be either Latino or Armenian. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm used to a more even distribution of ethnicity at Viva's current school -- higher proportions of both Asian and African-American. (Yes, and they even have white kids, some South Asian and Middle Eastern kids there. Don't mean to leave anyone out...)

I think Viva would be fine here -- in fact, I'm pretty confident she'll excel no matter where she goes. She is a friendly kid and teachers always love her. She is just a bit sensitive and I hate to throw yet another change at her. Having said that, I liked the principal very much, and the front office staff was way more welcoming than at the school we thought we were zoned for. This is only the principal's third year at the school and she is implementing a lot of changes, including way more parent involvement, etc.

BUT (you knew that was coming): what I have discovered is that their free after-school program, LA's Best, has no openings. I can wait-list Viva (!!!) and look into a private after-school program which offers transportation to a part of Hollywood which is about 10 minutes away.

The other school, which shredded my hopes and dreams Friday, has a parent-led after-school program, and OF COURSE that program has an opening. One of the parents contacted me and was as sweet as could be, really very helpful. There is a parent meeting tonight and I should really attend just to connect with the other parents and get some advice, and at least sow the seeds for next fall. Trying to be pragmatic in the face of disappointment.

In closing: I could really scream. I can enroll her at one school with no after-care available, but not enroll her at the other one which has after-care spots. WHAT?

It's public school. Why is this so complicated?? I hate to say it, but no wonder people are fleeing the LAUSD in droves.

In other world news, I am also screening childcare centers and nannies in the hopes of finding the perfect infant care situation for my little screaming meemie. Although as Sweet Dub says, "How are you going to leave her with anybody?" Lord knows.

The latest from Viva, who I love with a fierce lovingness even though my sleep deprivation has led me to snap at her quite a bit (in my defense, she is being really trying on purpose):

"You know, that's really a bum." (She means it's a bummer, but I just can't correct her because I love it.)

And the obligatory kindergartener misspellings:

On Thanksgiving: "I'm thankful for my family and for being hatthe [healthy]."

As a caption to one of her drawings: "Theis is a ranbooe." [Translation: this is a rainbow.]

Here's to sunshine and lollipops and ranbooes.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Easy Like Sunday Mornin'

Our next-door neighbor is a music producer. I just sat down at my laptop to research stuff on Ye Olde Interwebs and I can hear someone next-door playing piano and singing enthusiastically. So far they've played "Rainbow Connection" and "New York State of Mind." He's got a really good voice. I'm picturing the whole family (they have two kids, 2 and 9?) clustered around the piano in their funky artsy granola-ish fashion, enjoying a bit of togetherness.

It's nice. I really like this neighborhood. These are neighbors who came by and brought us pumpkin bread the first weekend we moved here. It's one of those areas where you actually get to know your neighbors.

Friday night when Sweet Dub came home, I heard him talking to someone softly downstairs. Since I was upstairs with both kids, I couldn't imagine who it could be. I went downstairs and found him crouched at the front door.

"Honey, I think this is Carlos' dog," he said. "Do you remember what their little dog looks like?"

"Oh, what's his name, Riley?" I said, and the little dog shot into the house and ran up and sat next to me on the stairs. He'd gotten out of his yard and was running back and forth in the street when Dub saw him.

Viva was in heaven. We called Carlos (our neighbor on the other side) on his cell and let him know the dog was with us. He was in Pasadena and said he'd come by when he got home. Riley is about ten kinds of adorable and kept licking Viva in the face. About 45 minutes later, Carlos' fiance came by to pick Riley up, and was both profusely apologetic and grateful to us for keeping him.

Despite our current school issues, I really like it here. It's very easy to feel comfortable and like we are a part of the community already. Sweet!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Irate. Livid. Beside Myself.

This morning, after I dropped Viva off at school, and after a very pleasant experience at my local Trader Joe's where they treated Cily like a rock star, I drove home, put Cily in the stroller, and prepared to walk through my lovely neighborhood to the local school to formally begin the process of registering Viva for kindergarten in January. As I was setting out, I bumped into my lovely neighbor and her 2-year-old, who is hilariously cute, and we discussed childcare. She said she may have some leads for me for someone to look after Cily, which was very welcome news. I took off for the school in great spirits.

Now, you know we moved to this house, for which we are paying more in rent than we would otherwise, because of the local public school -- so we would not have to pay for private school and then could afford to pay for childcare for Cily. When looking to rent, I religiously used LAUSD's online school finder to determine which elementary school fell within the boundaries, and if it were a decent school. We eliminated a number of possibilities based on what the school finder said.

When I walked into the school this morning, I admired the Christmas tree in the front entry, sweetly decorated with garlands of gingerbread men colored in by the students. There was a class of kids about Viva's age lined up with kazoos, waiting to go into the auditorium. I could easily picture my little creampuff as part of the line.

And then, when I reached the office, they told me our address doesn't fall within the boundaries required to enroll.

"That's impossible," I said. "I looked it up online before we moved -- before we even signed the lease. I called the school and had a long conversation with someone here about the Christmas vacation schedule and after-school programs. We moved here based on information from the LAUSD."

The woman behind the desk was adamant. Our street, she said, was never within the boundaries.

"Well, what are my options?" I said. "Because you don't seem to understand what a disaster this is."

"We couldn't enroll her for January anyway," she said. "We don't even have space available. You can try to get a permit and enroll her for September."

"No no no," I said. "We already gave notice at the private school she's currently in that she would not be back in January, based on a conversation with your staff. And I know someone whose daughter goes here and she says her kindergarten class is not full. So I just -- there has to be some way."

And around and around we went, and you can only imagine the bureaucratic bullshit. I would have to fill out this form, but only on the second Tuesday of the blahblahblah, zippideedah. She might as well have been speaking French because my mind had completely shut down.

Finally, I did the walk of shame out of the office, struggling not to cry, and while I almost broke down on the way home, I managed to only let a few tears fall before I got inside our garage,
when the floodgates opened and I yelled "Fuck, fuck FUCK!" which is pretty much all I could say for the next few minutes between tears.

Fortunately Cily was sleeping.

Since then, I have talked with several people at the LAUSD, left a message for the principal of the school, and had a long conversation with Master Planning and Demographics, who tells me that the boundary for getting into this school is one block east of me. They are still looking into it and will call me again.

I am now going to call our alleged local school, which is farther away than the school I want to enroll Viva in, and find out what their story is. Note that their test scores are below the district-wide minimum standard. However, parents seem to like the school, based on reviews at

I'm trying to do what I can to mitigate this mess, but I am so freakin' pissed off.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What? Oh, hullo!

November has come and gone and I have barely blogged at all. Happy December!

There were many moments I blogged in my head last month. Two that stand out...

Watching Barack Obama win the presidential election, and weeping with relief and excitement and joy during his acceptance speech. Tinged with the Sad that neither of my grandfathers is alive to see such a momentous event.
Taking the baby to her first pediatrician's appointment, to a pediatrician I had only spoken with over the phone, and realizing once we got there that the practice primarily serves patients on government assistance. The office was tiny, and shabby, and crammed, and although I had an appointment I was on time for, I was told there were 4 sick walk-in kids ahead of us, one of whom was hanging with her germy little hands all over our stroller, with the baby just inches away. "Are you okay with this?" Sweet Dub said in an undertone. I went up to the receptionist and explained that we just brought the baby out of the NICU and that she'd had respiratory difficulty, and perhaps being around a bunch of sick kids was not the best option. And then, a few minutes later after we'd ducked out of there: "What were you thinking?" Dub said, laughing at me and shaking his head.

"I wanted a pediatrician that was closer to our lives right now," I said. "For the baby, I'm going to have to take her to the doctor every month. Dr. S. [Viva's doctor] is so far away, it's a shlep to get over there and back. This doctor is just a few minutes away from work, from Viva's school -- "

"I get it, I get it," he said. "But seriously, you know how we are. We are total snobs. Admit it."

"Okay," I said, laughing. "But I figured people over on this side are also going to demand good-quality health care. There are some well-to-do folks over here. We can't be the only snobs."

"Well, they sure ain't bringing their babies here. GET THEE BACK TO BEVERLY HILLS," Sweet Dub intoned. "Shit, you must be crazy bringing our baby to a clinic. That was basically a clinic. What the hell do I pay for health insurance for? To sit and wait for hours in a clinic?"

Fortunately, we were able to get a rare Saturday appointment with Viva's doctor, and that was all she wrote. Her office is clean and pleasant and uncrammed, and the staff always greet us by name before we even sign in. I guess I'm stuck shlepping to Beverly Hills for the foreseeable future. I am resigned to being a healthcare snob.
In other news, not crazy about the baby's pseudonym (Clu) here. Viva calls the baby/spells her name Cily, so I think I'll switch to that.

Whatever her name is, she is causing some strife around here. I used to call Viva the velociraptor because she had a particularly deadly screech. Cily has been dubbed T-Rex because she is so tyrannical. She does not want to be put down, ever, and she screams like tigers are eating her if you dare to try and give your arms a rest. The sling, the swing, the bouncy seat -- none are acceptable. She also screams for hours in the evening, usually about 5 pm to 7 or 8, takes a break to sleep for a few hours, with a feeding at about 9, and then is up anytime after midnight for at least an hour and a half. Last night she was up from 2:30 to 3:30, then up again at 4:15, and again at 5:15. It is this second, early morning spate of waking and fussing that is breaking me, since Sweet Dub leaves for work at 6:45. He wakes Viva up at 6:30 to ensure that she is up before he leaves. This means that pretty much right after I have fallen back to sleep, I have to get up, get dressed, pack lunch and get Viva off to school, all while trying to keep Cily from blowing a fuse.

"It seems like whenever she is awake, she is not happy," Sweet Dub says. "What are we going to do?!" Out of desperation, yesterday I Googled everything I could find on inconsolable crying in newborns. While it seems Cily does not quite meet the definition for colic, we are evidently not the only parents who have this issue. I found numerous testimonials on a message board that gripe water is a miracle cure, so yesterday I bundled up my screaming meemie and went to my local Albertson's market...and they didn't carry it. Back in the car and on to the local Rite-Aid, which was teeming with a uniquely Angeleno mix of urban hipsters in nerd glasses and pajama pants buying Powerade and poinsettias, Catholic schoolgirls just getting out of school and swarming the magazine section, and tattooed cholas buying Lays Limon potato chips, tampons, and gum. I secured some gripe water and, with Cily refusing all comfort in the back seat, zoomed back home.

Verdict: it kind of works. I gave her less than half a full dose in the afternoon, but made the mistake of giving her a full dose at 11:00 pm, and then didn't want to overdose her by giving it to her at 2:30 am, so I had to suffer the early-morning angst. I won't make that mistake again.

One for the baby book: in the rare quiet moments when Cily is not screaming (before a butterfly flaps its wings in Singapore and disrupts her equilibrium), she does actually occasionally smile at me when I talk to her. She is also beginning to play. Yesterday after the gripe water half-dose, I laid her on a large pillow on the floor and pushed a Tigger car over near where she could see it. She shot her arm out and pushed the car toward her, over and over, and once she got bored with that, she practiced pushing it away. When I told her how fantastic she was, she smiled and then got a determined look on her face and punched the car. My little T-Rex.

Right now she is cuddled on my lap and is at peace. Ah, sweet sweet quiet. Perhaps I can get in some online Christmas shopping...