Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pleasant Exhaustion

Rich took the kids sledding at about 8:30 this morning. He decided that he needed to run them early if we wanted to have a nice day later. They were Wild Things with Too Much Energy (TM). I stayed behind because I couldn't quite get it together to go with them. And I must admit that the prospect of an hour to myself was not unappealing.

Then we visited a parent Q&A that the director of Prospect Hill Academy had set up for interested parents. It's a fabulous school. I had that impression when we first visited, but now I'm sure of it. The facility isn't the greatest, but neither is the Brown and that doesn't stop people from raving about it either. Both of the moms that came in to meet prospective parents commute in from Boston and were completely thrilled with the school. There is a fun after school that takes them on cool field trips twice a month when they have half days.

So, I think it's between PHA and Kennedy depending on where we get in. Both (thankfully) are about a half mile from my house. One, I'd pick for the curriculum and teachers. The other has the same curriculum and similar teachers to any other Somerville public school, but has my favorite building out of all the ones we visited. The Kindergartens open up onto a magical, small play yard, complete with a fabulous play structure. The classrooms were full of interesting artwork and projects and cupboards spilling with colorful supplies.

I'm sure we'll go observe both schools while class is in session (the Kennedy kindergarten was on a field trip while I was there).

But I feel like I have two really great choices. Can I just say again, how much I love Somerville?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Kindergarten Searching

This is the week that all the schools in Somerville do open houses. We visited the Brown School and the Kennedy School yesterday. Today we visited the Healy/Choice and the Argenziano.

This is an emotional process for the most part. My kids are very different and what might work for one, might not work for another. I want a school that has a solid arts program that can nurture a budding engineer. I also want it to be convenient to my house and safe with a super fun after school program.

After visiting five schools I am convinced that we have some really great choices available to us. All of the Somerville schools basically have the same curriculum and the teachers are trained to individualize the assignments to the kids when they get ahead so they don't get bored. Supposedly the Choice program at the Healy school teaches the curriculum a little bit differently, but I sure couldn't get anybody at the school to articulate what the difference was. They said it was more "individualized" than in the regular programs. But everybody at the 'traditional' schools said they they tailor the lessons to the students individual abilities. But I didn't really see any advantages that the Choice program had over the Kennedy or Argenziano that would justify the additional hassle to drive there every day. We can walk or bike to PHA, Kennedy or Argenziano and Kennedy also has the added benefit of being within walking distance of my parents/sister's house. So, I'd have lots of available adults if I had an emergency and couldn't get there. It's one subway stop away from my office, so logistically that would just work.

I'm kind of surprised by our reactions. One thing that's been great is that Rich and I have had the same gut feelings across the board about each school we visited. We both loved the Kennedy and PHA and we liked Brown, Choice and Argenziano but didn't think they were the best fit for us.

The Brown would not work for us at all. They have no playground or cafeteria and Eric needs so much exercise just to function properly. Plus there would be crumbs and gluten in the classroom constantly (they eat at their desks) and I did not see a bathroom in the kindergarten. For a kid with a digestive disorder that just would not work. It was clearly a beloved school and we really liked the principal, but it will not be on our final list.

And I'm not sure that I understand why Choice is generally the school everybody I know seems to pick. It seemed really similar to the Kennedy, which is infinitely more convenient to my neighborhood. The reviews of it from folks I know range from "so so" to "FABULOUS." But it's a pain in the butt to get to. You have to drive there if you don't live in the neighborhood (and nobody I know who goes there seems to live anywhere near there) and you have to park a few blocks away and walk your kid in, which seems like it would add at least a half hour to 45 minutes to your morning.

I think we need more information...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Narnia in my yard

The snow was thick and light enough to stick to the trees in the yard behind my house. Usually I wake up to the snow pushing against the back windows, but the trees are barren. But this morning the branches were thick with snow and it was still falling. It was magical. And I barely left the house all weekend.

I'm not enjoying the winter. Due to a terrible tactical error on Rich's part, my driveway has been encased in a thick sheet of ice from the snow to rain storm a couple of weeks ago. We thought the rain would wash away the snow. We weren't counting on the month long deep freeze that has followed. I figured: surely there will be a January thaw, right? But the long range forecast has yielded no days above 32 for the foreseeable future. So, we creep along the ice and hope nobody gets injured before it finally melts.

Usually we go to Florida sometime in February. But we're doing some work on the house so no trips this winter. Even my usual Arizona business trip got cancelled due to the Current Economic Climate.

This afternoon in the middle of all this snow and sore feet, something truly wonderful happened. It was one of those things you dream about before you have kids and you're imagining this rosy, wonderful world where everything is easy and your kids are interested in things you have to tell them. Very few things about having kids are like you dreamed of when your biological clock started hitting you on the head. Like the fact that on almost a daily basis the kids will round up all the soft furnishings (pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, etc) into one room to create a "jumping room." Or how they decide to just scream and run back and forth between Kaylee's room and the den until one of them gets hurt. None of these were things I pictured during that year plus when we were trying for a baby. But today one of my real mom fantasies came true. The snow was falling thickly outside and Eric sat huddled by my side listening to me read from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

I love kids books. I spent much of my childhood lost in books, and I've just been waiting for the kids to be old enough to listen to some of my favorites. We read all the time, but I usually end up wanting to send a Unibomber letter to poor Stan and Jan Berenstain for writing so many WAY TO LONG saccharine, moralistic Books about the worlds most boring bear family. But this afternoon was different. I was reading something that I still love. Then I read for nearly another hour before bedtime.

If this goes well, maybe we'll try some Harry Potter.