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Weathering the Holidays

By Susana Benavidez
Published: Friday, January 02, 2009, at 11:08AM

Christmas week was hectic. The flu flew into our home and took a stronghold in each of us, one at a time. Los Angeles is notorious for having non-Holiday weather during December, sometimes causing confusion in out of state guests as to how anyone can celebrate Christmas on a 70-degree day.

This year however, it was cold, windy and even rained in the days preceding. My younger daughter and I were the first victims to fever, cough and an awful cold. Just as we were getting better, my younger daughter and my 30 year-old baby (or so he seemed while he was sick) got the flu. Throw in some infected wisdom teeth on my part and stressful planning of two family celebrations and you get our happy but tired family.

The nausea and dizziness that I feel just typing away is not from the overeating I did on Christmas Eve and the days following. I had to have my wisdom teeth removed, making me look like a tottering chipmunk. Although we weren’t in the best health I didn’t allow that to damper our Holiday cheer.

Christmas Eve we went to my family’s home to have dinner, exchange gifts and enjoy each others company. My family is Hispanic, but ironically we did not have traditional cuisine. We opted instead to make a mixed greens salad (thank you Tom for the recipe!), pizza, and pasta. The only thing we had that was Latino-ish was flan, but I confess that came from Flan-king.

Luckily our families celebrate on different days so we don’t have to rush from one place to another to split Christmas dinner. Christmas morning with the other side of the family was an endless parade of gifts that came passing through everyone’s hands, a train of clothing, toys, and books that took several bags to take home. I’m not sure that this is what Christmas is supposed to be about but it seems that we all did our part to better the slow sales at department stores.

That night for dinner we had (which is what I consider ironic) enchiladas, beans, rice, and flan. It’s a reminder of what a melting pot Los Angeles is: you go to a Hispanic's home and eat pizza and pasta and then to an American home to get Mexican food.

Saturday was the big day, my planned play date! As we headed over I felt a pang of excitement and nervousness. What was I doing? I didn’t know anyone there and had only communicated by email, but I restrained my nervous habit and marched on.

The day was great. I met a kind, hospitable neighbor and her lovely daughter. Ten kids showed up and made perfect company for the girls. They looked like board members of a Fortune 500 company, discussing the newest invention of glitter markers and play-do.

As I spoke to the other moms, the same concern resonated in the room: Where are you taking your kid to elementary school? No one had a concrete answer; it’s such a difficult task to undertake. Should you shell out the extra cash and send them to private school, find a magnet school, or take your chances with the neighborhood school?

Unfortunately for anyone in Downtown, the neighborhood school is run down, has a low API score, low test scores, and is in an unsafe area.

I would like to see the parent community of Downtown come together and go before LAUSD and the city to see how they plan to educate our children. New high schools have been built around Downtown, but where is the new elementary school right in Downtown, not in Westlake or the Industrial area? Everyone paying property taxes should strongly consider writing a letter to the school district and the city demanding the amenities that any decent neighborhood enjoys.

I hope all of you were able to use the holidays to relax and spend time with your loved ones. Maybe while your tots are playing you can jot down notes on what you would like to see in our neighborhood as far as quality education.

Have any plans? Feel free to share! Moving out is not constructive; please share ideas or rumors concerning the education of Downtown Kids! We were able to weather the flu, wisdom teeth removal and lots of extended family visits, hopefully that prepares me for navigating LAUSD.

This Week's Kid-Friendly Downtown Picks

Pershing Square

Downtown On Ice ends January 11th. Hurry out for some skating in the center of our metropolis.

Lunch time Concerts (12pm-2pm): Jan 2 - Taste Thieves / Jan 6 - Airplay Top 40 / Jan 8 Soul Dogs

Prepare a late snack and head out for Friday night Concerts (8-10pm): Jan 2 - Bella Donna and Petty Theft / Jan 9 - The Undercover Girls

Park Starved?

Alpine Recreation Center is 2 miles away and offers plenty of activities ranging from table tennis to Chinese Martial Arts. Hour of operation are Monday - Friday 8am-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm and Sunday 9am-8pm.

Vista Hermosa Park: Let’s not forget the beautiful park opened and operated by the Santa Monica Conservancy group just west of the 110 freeway. It offers trails for children to hike, park rangers on site as guides, a huge soccer field and a kid-friendly play area at the top of the hill. This is where you can let the views of Downtown inspire you for you school building planning!

Franklin Canyon Park: A little further out, Beverly Hills that is, you can find movie events, hiking, and park rangers giving tours and talks on wildlife in a park! 2600 Franklin Canyon Drive / Beverly Hills CA 90210 / 310-858-7272 / January Activity List

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