Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hello there friend,

How are you? 
I'll bet you are busy. 
Have you finished your shopping?

Nah, I'm in big trouble over here. And now it's too late to shop online, so I'm going to have to go into a real store.

The rain? No, I love it. Keep it coming.

Yeah. I think Joey's got a sinus infection. We are going to the doctor this afternoon. We will probably pick up something new and frightful while we are there. 

What? Don't judge me for not taking him yesterday. I was at Anthropologie with my Mom and Sister. It was cold and wet. It felt a little like we were in New York. But then, we didn't go to Bendel's afterward, or get tea at the Four Seasons. But we did make Mom sit in the backseat with the shopping bags, like we were in a cab. So that was nice.

Oh yeah? You saw me over on Kari's blog? And our pies? We had a pumpkin pie throwdown and Kari won, because her's wasn't a fiasco. They both tasted good, though. I just need to roll my crust thicker, and remember that I cannot fill the food processor with hot liquids and turn it on high.

Well, I wish I could take you to the QT and buy you hot chocolate today. Because you are a kind, attractive, talented and smart lady. We would fill our cups halfway with cocoa, leaving lots of room for whipped cream. I would get three shots of hazelnut. You'd take yours with a little powdered creamer. 

But sadly,  I can't. I need to go bathe my baby, because he smells like boogers.

I hope you have a really nice day, though.
You deserve it.



Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Basis Schools

So I took a gander at my blog stats the other day, and I noticed that many people came here looking for Basis Chandler. This might be because in that post, I actually had information to share, and put important, googlable words in the post title, instead of my usual inside jokes with myself, and my whiny nonsensical wanderings, talking about tasty food and the resulting tight trousers. I'm not planning to change anything. I have a responsibility to my loyal readership (in the double digits daily, thank you all for coming!) to stay true to my self-involved self.

But still, sometimes I could say something. I'm sure you won't mind.

I read this article about Basis Schools published online yesterday. In it, Global Search for Education blogger C.M. Rubin interviews Basis founder Michael Block.

Two of my kids started attending Basis Chandler in August. I knew it was opening, and that the other Basis schools have long waiting lists, so I thought, if we want to try it, here's our shot. I talked to the kids, read them some articles, told them there would be homework and stiff competition. Jane was in at lockers for 5th graders. Ross was worried it would cut into his Mythbusters and SuperScribblenauts time.

So here we are, 4 months along.

What do we like?

You know, this is surprising, but the thing I am most impressed with is that Basis has given my kids responsibility for their own education, and my kids have taken it! With so many classes and teachers, I knew I wouldn't be able to remind them to take their math homework to school, study for the big test, or bug them about the paper due on Monday. I can look in their planners (required to be detailed and up-to-date, and checked at school) to see what is going on, but the kids are in charge. They are still learning to organize themselves and their time, but I am amazed at how well they are doing.

I like that they have awards assemblies at each grading period, giving awards to kids with average grades above 90%, another award to kids in the top 15% of their classes, and another award to the top 5% of the class. In the first grading period, Ross and Jane both got star balloons for being in the '90s club', and in the second, Ross barely made the cut off for the top 15% with an average of 96% (competition is stiff!), but Jane let her Latin grade slip, so she came home balloonless and bereft this time. (She is a smart girl, I'm not worried).

I like that my fair-skinned children are a minority. I grew up attending magnet schools in Los Angeles, and I think making friends from different cultures is a great education in itself.

I like that the teachers are hired based on subject expertise, and not on whether they have teaching credentials. (I spent 2 years in elementary education classes, and I sort of think that teaching teachers to teach is a waste of time.) Ross' physics teacher was an engineer at Intel for 20 years.

I like the curriculum. These people are not messing around with the math and science. For example, Ross is taking chemistry, biology and physics, plus pre-algebra, English,  history, rhetoric, art, and his favorite class (although he talks too much and ends up washing desks after school), Spanish. Jane takes two years of Latin before she chooses her language in 7th grade (Spanish, French, or Mandarin).

I like the amount of homework. Both kids average less than an hour a day, and they do it without being prompted by me. I find this flabbergasting. And wonderful.

What don't we like?

I don't like that school is twenty minutes away. I get lots of help with driving (thanks Jake and April!), but twice a day is about all we can do, so the kids haven't really been able to join any after school activities yet. Ross was interested in fencing and ping pong, Jane in musical theater. Maybe if we can find two clubs on the same day?

I don't like that they don't go to school with the neighborhood and Church kids. And I know our neighborhood schools are good, so it makes me wonder if I'm nuts to be driving so far. Our neighborhood high school is one of the best in the state. I figure, at that point they are welcome switch if they want! But in the meantime, Jane's best school friend lives in Ahwatukee, which makes getting together outside school a rough business.

I don't like that they don't have Seminary. They will have to attend an A hour program at a different school, but there are very few LDS kids at Basis, so I suppose it makes sense.

Mostly, though, I'm thrilled with Basis so far.

Now, if only they would build one on my block!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Going to my happy place: a post about gelato

Reasons one might need to go to her happy place:

1. She is getting a pap smear
2. Her kids are being super horrible, and she needs something to do while she locks herself in the bathroom and hides from them, but she has forgotten her iPad.
3. She has been dilated 9.5 centimeters for like 45 minutes and she forgot to get an epidural.
4. Sacrament meeting has run too long.

My happy place used to be a cabana chair on the beach at the Ritz Cancun, a book in one hand, a Coca Lite in the other, and nice waiters bringing me $20 bowls of guacamole all the day long. (That's where I was during the aforementioned natural labor*).

But now I've got a new happy place. And thanks to Jake, and his surreptitious photo-taking, I can share it with you:

An intimate moment in Venice between me and my panna cotta gelato.

I don't know exactly what panna cotta gelato is, but it includes caramel, and Venice knows how to do it right. Orvieto doesn't.

The deliciousness of Italian gelato cannot be overstated. It is so good, we ate it three times a day. At least.

We got the best gelato in Venice at La Boutique del Gelato (next to the Hotel Bruno, and somewhere in the maze between St. Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge). I mean, I can't be certain it was the best in Venice, because we only tried like 15 others. (There is an unconfirmed rumor that Jen may have had 9 scoops of gelato, from three different vendors, plus some hot chocolate, all in one 40 minutes period. The stuff of legends). But best or not, it was remarkably good. It was rough, because maps and GPS were almost useless in Venice, and our legs grew very tired, but we managed to find it three different times. I'd recommend the coconut, the pistachio, and a double scoop of nocciola (hazelnut) with chocolate. The best was the grapefruit sorbet. I can't explain to you why it was the best. But it was so good I might have cried a little.

Honorable mention in the sorbet competition goes to the strawberry at Gelateria Carroze, in Florence, right on the Arno, between the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi. You probly won't hate the coconut, either.

And the Tartufo gelato at Tre Scalini in Rome's Piazza Navona was nice, too, in case you were thinking Rome's gelato can't measure up.

Where is your happy place? 
Is there ice cream or guacamole there? 

* To clarify: I did not actually give birth on the cabana chair in Cancun. Was only there in my mind.