July 24, 2012
Don’t Flake On Me and I Won’t Flake On You! (My Annual Rant)
I just developed a pet peeve I had never really had before until recently and by recently I mean 2012: people cancelling at the last minute! My parents definitely taught me to try my hardest never to waste time. One of their mottos was: “You can always make more money if you waste it, but you will never ever get that time back”. Time definitely doesn’t grow on trees. But, unlike money where you could potentially earn it back—it is certain you won’t get your wasted time back. Maybe I was spoiled back in college and even post-college when I would call someone and they would return my call within only a few hours. Or perhaps it was my choices on who I associated with that earned me the respect I received. Now, I’m lucky if I get a return call within 24 to 48 hours or even within 2 weeks. I had a very tight group of friends that I could always depend on to be on time and never disappoint with a last minute cancellation. They were always considerate and gave plenty of notice. My really close friends would be there for me even when they were sick and should’ve stayed home. I am still like that. If I agree to do something, you have my word. I don’t flake. I recently received several invites to a few major events. Believe me when I tell you they were major! One was an all expense paid round-trip airfare plus accommodations to South Beach in exchange for covering the Winter Music Conference as a Mommy Blogger. As much as I wanted to go, my mother-in-law was dying of pancreatic cancer and I knew as soon as I was invited that I couldn’t attend. Having just met about a dozen great mommy bloggers thru a mommy blogging network here in the area, I sent out an email asking everyone if they could take my place. Within seconds, I received five or six emails of interest. Well, long story short, I selected one mommy that had a live-in nanny to take my place. I let the publicist who had invited me know that I couldn’t go and asked her if I could give this other local mommy blogger the opportunity to go instead. The tickets were emailed about three weeks in advance—plenty of time for anyone to have a change of heart and cancel. But, this particular woman decided to wait until the morning she was scheduled to leave to “come up with something good”. She didn’t give me or the PR Rep the courtesy of calling. Instead, she sent a text that read and “Sorry, I’m going to have to bail on the trip to Miami today, please keep me in mind for future opportunities.” I called her immediately to ask what happened. I was concerned that perhaps she was ill, had a child that was ill or that something even more terrible had happened. And can you guess what she told me? She said “Oh, I got a better offer last night. I thought it over and I have an opportunity to meet an ex-boyfriend for dinner”. Um, aren’t you “happily married”? Whatever. I wished her luck and promptly called the PR person who invited me to the event to let her know. Fortunately, it didn’t burn a professional bridge between me and the person who invited me to South Beach. But, I have NEVER done that to ANYONE, not a friend, not a relative and certainly not a business associate/contact. And just when I was beginning to forgive and forget, a series of these types of cancellations began happening. I passed along opportunities to get a swag bag with a free Hermes scarf, a free dinner for two at one of the most expensive restaurant in DC, a free cooking class, a seminar with several of the most inspirational people on the planet right now and even free concert tickets to one of the hottest bands in the music industry. Each person had plenty of time to back out, but instead, each and every one of them waited until the day of the event—half of them waiting until less than an hour before the event to let me know that either they couldn’t attend or were standing me up. And I swear to you, not one of them called or sent an email—they cancelled in a text or publicly on my Facebook wall. And most recently, I met someone that I thought was the most awesome graphic designer. I introduced her to everyone I knew because she wanted to relocate to DC and needed a job. She received a job offer from a very close friend of mine. She never showed up her first day on the job. In fact, we never saw this girl ever again. After several calls and voice mails, followed by texts and emails, my friend and I never heard from her. These are just a few examples. There are even more examples, but it makes me sad and sick to continue to dwell on these episodes. I can sometimes ask myself what I’m doing wrong and blame myself. It’s hard for me to believe there are this many people in the world who don’t have a regard for other people’s generosity, concerted efforts or their time. If people don’t have a sore conscious for making promises they don’t keep, what inspires them to behave so irresponsible? It makes me sad. People do change their minds, have better or worse things that come up or are simply too lazy, etc. I’ve decided that as much as I’d like to “share the wealth” and really help others, perhaps I’m better off not expecting others to be just as generous, passionate and reliable. Don’t waste my time, because I can promise you this—I will do my best not to waste yours!
February 24, 2012
PRESCHOOLS & CHILDCARE CENTERS IN NORTHERN ARLINGTON
(Clarendon Moms Official List)
Since moving to Arlington, I’ve heard all the playground gossip whispered amongst all the stay at home moms and nannies: “You better get on the wait list now for your 6 month old!” What?! From the talk around town, I thought getting my kids into the “best preschool” was as tough as applying to an ivy league college. I’ve got great news for you. It wasn’t. The hardest part for me wasn’t the actual application process or the bad luck of having to apply for the dreaded wait list. It was finding the right school, the “perfect fit”. The perfect fit meant: the number of days my child would attend, the hours they would attend (what’s the point of dropping them off only to have only an hour or so free time to myself), the structure of the program (the curriculum), the demeanor of the instructors/teachers (are they passionate about their career or burned out), the commute to and from the school, the way my child would respond to the method of education (and how they would relate to their classmates), the cleanliness and amenities of the facility and finally the price of tuition.
It took me a while to find all the schools available to my children for enrollment. I couldn’t find a complete list anywhere on the internet by googling. I managed to find lists that were partial, but good enough. Finally, I started interviewing moms and grandmothers on the playground. The most helpful parents were people whom were lifelong Arlington relatives, living right in the neighborhood of Lyon Village or Clarendon from 20 to 30 to even 70 years.
After creating the list, I then decided to go and tour a number of the preschools. This was a mainly pleasant journey. However, there were two preschools in particular where I encountered a director who flippantly urged me to get on the wait list while my child was only 9 months old so he would be able to be considered for the 3 year old program. Needless to say, I didn’t even think twice about never returning to that school.
I had a few questions about the importance of preschool.
Is Preschool really that important? The answer was unanimous across the board. Yes! Absolutely! It prepares your child for the vigorous education Arlington County Schools offer at the Kindergarten level.
What is the difference between Preschool, Daycare and Cooperative Playgroups? The short answer: Preschool offers a curriculum that is similar to Kindergarten and actually prepares your child for Kindergarten. Daycares offer child care and babysitting. Cooperative Playgroups are shared parent child care geared towards socializing your child for playing within a small group of children with other parents present.
Note: After touring preschools, daycares and co-ops, I found most of them to be very similar and not a drastic difference. The cost is approximately the same in the Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston area. The licenses and regulations are by the same agencies. Most of them have a structured day of activities. The primary difference I noticed was the age range. Some daycares accept children between 6 and 8 weeks old while co-ops accept children at age 1. Most preschools accept children at age 2 or 3 years old. All of the programs accept children until they’re ready for Kindergarten. The secondary difference that stood out was the approach to the type attention given to children. For example, some programs seemed to offer more of a specific educational theory (like Montessori, Waldor, High Scope or Reggio Emilia) and other programs seemed to offer more of an emphasis on play as opposed to activities geared at teaching specific skills.
Here is the Clarendon Moms Guide to Preschools, Daycare Centers and Cooperatative. You may click on each link for direct access to their website. I hope you find this helpful.
PRESCHOOLS & CHILDCARE CENTERS IN NORTHERN ARLINGTON (Clarendon Moms Official List)
Arlington Children’s Center: The primary goal of their teachers is to nurture each individual child’s emotional and educational needs, as well as provide a sense of routine, opportunities to be creative, and prepare the child for primary education.
Arlington Montessori House (also known as Hippo House): The school is affectionately referred to as Hippo House by staff and families. They offer two classes of 28 students (of mixed ages), one teacher and one assistant. Both teachers hold Association Montessori International (AMI) certification. The program is a three-year program: two years of pre-school and kindergarten. We expect new families to enroll with intention of keeping their child in the school for three years–through kindergarten. This third year is the culmination of the primary level Montessori experience where children reap the benefits of the past two years, facilitating entry into a new school with a high degree of self-confidence, independence and enthusiasm for learning.
Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool: Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool is a child-centered cooperative with the mission of developing and encouraging social, intellectual and physical development in the children entrusted to its care.
Ballston Children’s Center: Their philosophy is to provide a quality day care program in a learning and loving environment. The primary goal of our teachers is to nurture each individual child’s emotional and educational needs, as well as provide a sense of routine, opportunities to be creative, and prepare the child for primary education. Our teachers will bring unconditional love and emotional security, a sense of routine and an opportunity to be creative and resourceful.
Blue Bird Day School: School should provide a happy, relaxed and supportive environment that contributes to the development of the child. This development should occur physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively. Each of these areas combined form a puzzle that all persons are required to have to understand the world and their place in it. They believe children need many chances to excel in these respective areas. We hope to achieve this through the questions we ask, goals we set, information we provide and by the behavior we model.
Clarendon Childcare Center: Their curriculum is “emergent”. Topics of study, the selection of materials in the room, projects and field trips are carefully planned from the children’s interests and needs. Children are encouraged to observe, to experiment and to make their own discoveries, and all activities are seen as opportunities for learning to problem-solve.
Early Steps Bilingual Preschool: The vision of this center is integral development in which children age two to five can develop basic knowledge and fundamental skills to succeed in life by enriching the minds of young children as they grow within a society that demands bilingual/Spanish language capabilities.
Early Years Preschool: Early Years Preschool provides a nurturing environment that promotes the development of a child’s emotional, social, intellectual and physical skills. Creative, stimulating activities allow each child to develop and learn at his or her own pace through exploration and play.
Embassy School: No website available. Call 703. 525.2144
Finding Dreams In Children Child Development Center aka Bright Horizons Preschool & Education Center Opened in Fall 2006, the center serves 92 children on a full-time basis. Their emphasis is on preparation for success in life, academic excellence and a rich and rewarding childhood.
Little Ambassadors Academy: Little Ambassadors’ Academy offers premier and quality childcare with a curriculum based on engaging our students to learn through discovery. Little Ambassadors’ offers full days of multiple activities that create a foundation to help children develop into lifelong learners. Starting at the age of two, our students will be exposed to Spanish as a second language. All students will learn different aspects of various cultures to help them understand the benefit of possessing a multicultural education.
Faith Lutheran Preschool: Their mission is to empower each individual child to investigate his or her interests within a loving community of peers and adults by providing a safe, playful environment where children are free to discover, explore, question, and express their own experiences, predictions, and evaluations in myriad “languages.” They offer a variety of materials, tools, concepts, and equipment to help children see alternatives, to problem solve and make their own decisions. They are committed to observe and listen, and then to react to and validate their students ideas with respect, imagination and tenderness.
First Baptist Church of Clarendon Child Development Center: (also known as CDC) Child Development Center was initiated in September, 1969 as a non-profit ministry of the First Baptist Church of Clarendon. Since that time, the Child Development Center has experienced steady growth and is now one of the largest Child Development Centers in Arlington County.
Full Circle Montessori: Their principal mission is to foster a Montessori learning community that supports the development of the whole child – emotionally, socially, intellectually, and physically – through a dynamic partnership among staff, families, and the greater community. Their core values are: kindness, empathy, love, respect, openness, tolerance, peace, humor and laughter.
Kindercare: KinderCare Learning Centers are designed to be a home away from home for children where they can learn, laugh, grow and have fun. Kindercare child care centers offer a mix of large spaces for group learning and several smaller age-specific classrooms for age-appropriate learning so your child gains social skills as they develop academically.
Kinhaven: Kinhaven School, a parent-governed, independent preschool, provides a rich community of involved parents, highly educated teaching professionals and school staff. Kinhaven School’s unique model harnesses the professional expertise of experienced faculty along with the parent power generated by their membership organization to offer parents a wonderful opportunity to influence their children’s early education.
Lee Center Cooperative Playgroup: This is a play group cooperative that is fully parent-run without paid teachers or staff. Parents work the play-group 1/3 of the days the play group is in session. Parents have the option of dropping off their children on days they’re not working at the play group. These are licensed play groups of 12 students ages 1 to 4. There are 6 play groups that meet once or twice for 2 hours. Tuition is for a 12 week term.
Madison Center Playgroup: This is a play group cooperative that is a parent-run and parent-funded program for children ages 1 to 5. It is licensed for child care by Arlington County and the state of Virginia. During morning groups, parents take turns supervising the children. During afternoon groups, parents stay with their children for the entire play session.
Mount Olivet Preschool: They believe that their developmental philosophy allows them to provide children in the community with stimulating experiences consistent with the best principles and purposes of early childhood education. They strive to do this in a safe, loving, Christian environment with a low teach/child ratio.
Overlee Preschool: is a parent-run preschool since 1945. They seek to provide a stimulating and happy environment that will help children to learn to respect themselves, to respect the feelings, ideas and rights of others; to make choices, resolve conflicts and solve problems; to explore new ways of doing things while developing confidence as a whole individual.
Rock Spring Preschool: is a parent-run school, with a teacher-led curriculum, and children-led play. Founded in 1943 by a group of caring and inventive mothers, Rock Spring is the oldest cooperative preschool in Arlington offering age-specific classes for one to five-year-olds, as well as an Extended Day Program and Summer Camp.
Tender Roots: Tender Roots is a cooperative toddler program inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. Tender Roots hopes to provide an engaging and nurturing environment for one and two year old children, while in the daily security of their parent/caregiver. Teachers guide the day, supporting children and parents in the learning process.
Trinity Presbyterian Preschool: Established in 1957, Trinity Preschool has earned a reputation for providing a well-rounded, nurturing environment that helps children blossom by offering smaller classes.
Westover Baptist Preschool: offers a nurturing environment that encourages a feeling of success in children attending their school, by designing learning activities that are developmentally appropriate and centered around play. Children experience a variety of wonderful activities throughout the year, and family friendly events.
February 6, 2012
Buying a Brand New Home In Clarendon
New home buyers don’t want to buy a used or “pre-owned” house after they’ve visited over a dozen or so “lived-in” shacks in the neighborhood. They don’t want to inherit someone else’s paint colors, personal tastes in kitchen and bathroom appliances or light fixtures or lack of hardwood or bamboo flooring. Their hearts are screaming inside for something brand spanking new! If you’re like me, you’ve looked online at your favorite real estate websites like Redfin.com or Trulia.com and have virtually entered over 100 houses or condos without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Heck! I even have both the apps on my Iphone and Ipad for easy viewing during that treadmill run at the gym. And if like me, you’ve hired an agent and actually gone around the neighborhood a few times and walked into these archaic tear-downs. Your money doesn’t go quite as far here in Clarendon as it may go in your home town neighborhood (unless you’re originally from New York City or San Francisco). You may encounter a temporary case of sticker shock. I say “temporary” because after a few weeks or months, you will get used to the $850,000 to $1,700000 average cost of a single family home in our neighborhood.
If I’ve described you at all, this article is for you! Here, I will offer some tips on Buying New Construction from a Builder/Developer and also a list of some of the Top Builders in our neighborhood.
(Note: I will be writing an article on all new construction condos/townhomes in the near future).
Tips on Buying a New Construction House:
1. Hire your own Buyer’s Agent. A Builder’s agent is representing the Builder & may use experienced sales tactics to pressure you into signing a contract.
2. Shop around for your own Lender. A Builder’s Lender may not offer you the best deal. Your own bank or credit union may offer you a better mortgage.
3. Obtain legal advice with a qualified Real Estate Attorney. Real Estate Attorneys can be very helpful explaining a Standard Purchase Agreement as well as answering questions about certain contingencies and cancellation rights
4. Verify your Options and Upgrades Packaging and Pricing.
5. Hire a Licensed and Accredited Home Inspector. Even with brand new construction, this step is imperative to making sure there are no major or minor defects on your new property.
Home Builders in Arlington
Toll Brother’s Inc. is one of the top, well established luxury homebuilders with 45 years of experience. They have won three of the most coveted awards in the homebuilding industry: America’s Best Builder, National Builder of the year and National Housing Quality. They have also been chosen as the First Place Winner for Innovative Product Design in the Big Builder Apex Awards.
Miller & Smith is the third largest private builder in the entire Washington Metropolitan area. Over the last decade, they have won more Monument Awards than any other builder. They are known as the “dreamers, creators and innovators”. The competitive edge is the creation of new innovative and niche designs.
N.V. Homes was established in 1980 and take pride in offering additional architectural details and designer elements tailored to suit even the most unique and discriminating tastes. In 2011, they earned Energy Star’s Partner of the Year Award.
BCN Design Build seems to be everywhere I turn in Lyon Village. They have been around for a little more than a decade and have built some of the finest custom homes and additions in Arlington. They have been listed as one of Washington Business Journal’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies in the DC area for two years in a row.
Ryan Homes has been building exceptional, award-winning homes for the past 60 years. A large percentage of the homes Ryan Homes sales area direct result of customer referrals. Their success is based on customer service, award-winning designs, quality construction combined with affordable prices and unique communities in prime locations.
Stanley Martin offers a 9 step process that keeps the consumer involved. This has been one of the nation’s capitals finest builders since 1966 with over 10,000 family homes built in their Virginia and Maryland communities.
Pulte Homes has won more awards for customer satisfaction than any other home builder. They have been one of America’s largest homebuilders for over 50 years.
Van Metre Homes wins awards with their timeless beauty. Since 1955, they’ve been building trust for generations.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
I’m not a very competitive person, especially when it comes to boasting about my children or my parenting skills. When I first moved to Arlington, I was excited to get out and meet other new moms. It was excited and interesting to meet new moms until the mompetition began.
I started a momversation with the mother of the little girl my daughter was playing with by asking how old her child was. I was delighted to learn our daughters were the same age. So, I asked what her child’s name was and if they lived in our neighborhood. Our conversation was innocuous enough, until I was on the receiving end of the questions. That’s when the momversation went south.
Mompetitor: Is your daughter sleeping thru the night yet?
Me: Yes, thank goodness.
Mompetitor: At what age did she start sleeping thru the night then?
Me: Around two months.
Mompetitor: Well, Ava began sleeping thru the night when we were still in the hospital. We used the Ferber method and she was completely sleep trained by the time we got home.
Me: Wow! That’s awesome!
Mompetitor: Is your oldest potty trained yet?
Me: Oh heavens no! She just turned two.
Mompetitor: Well, Ava was potty trained at 18 months. It’s standard in my country to be potty trained, off the bottle and absolutely no pacifier by the age of 15 to 18 months.
Me: Amazing! How? Can you teach me?
Mompetitor: Oh, Ava just came to me one day with her panties and said she wanted to start wearing them and that was it. I started putting her on the potty and she never wore another diaper since. It only took a few days. She was just ready.
Me: (Silence. I’m speechless. Clearly, she won this round. She won the praise she wanted from me and I was no longer interested in anything else she had to say or letting Ella play with Ava.)
I have to admit, I was gullible as hell. I really did believe everything these momzillas were telling me! I believed that they had a flat stomach and were skinnier than they were before they had their kids because they breast fed for six months. I believed that their babies latched on immediately after giving birth and their breast milk came in within a few hours after the baby latched on. I believed that they were only in labor for an hour and made it to the hospital just in time to push for ten minutes and gave birth to the most perfect looking, intelligent human being on earth. I also believed them when they bragged about their child walking at six months old and talking in full sentences in three languages at twelve months. Okay, maybe not that last part. That’s around the time I started becoming skeptical.
Despite the snarky vocal tones, the snotty facial expressions and the pretentious posturing during these conversations, I celebrated the happiness these women exuded over their gifted young offspring’s accomplishments all thanks to their great parenting and even more important, their impeccable genetics! I wasn’t jealous at all. I guess the feeling I had was more “astonished”.
And then one day I woke up and smelled the honeydew-hibiscus water I’d been drinking. After a few momzillas let their children take my kids toys away without intervening, I stood back and started listening to the momversations they were having with their fellow alpha moms. The closer I listened in, I would hear the truth. Realizing they were “losing” the mompetition, the beta mom would throw in the towel and share a few of her child’s “issues”. Meanwhile, the “winning” mompetitor would continue to act like she didn’t understand what the other one was going thru and apologize for not being able to offer more helpful advice.
These types of episodes inspired me to create this website, possibly even write a book. We all have fantastic days, horrible days and in between days. Sometimes, we have a day that has had a few great hours and a few melt down hours that can end the polar opposite of how it began. I want to inspire people. I don’t play the mompetition game. I believe in sharing information that may comfort another mom. I believe in applauding other people’s successes and providing empathy and understanding during difficult times. Being a mom, especially a stay at home mom can be very rewarding and fun when we have good days, real friendships and mutually supportive spouses and families. However, it can also become very lonely when other people’s need for one upmanship and mompetition leave you feeling defeated.