The luminarias that lit up Heather and Art Coombs-Perez’s driveway this past Saturday night sparkled in a way that only something made by a child ever could. Kandinsky, Van Gogh, or Monet, to name but a few, had nothing on these paper bag candle holders decorated by the pre-school kids at the La Playa Co-Op. As I stood at the entrance to the Perez’s place, watching the lights dance at dusk, I couldn’t help but smile and pinch myself a little. While I thought the neighborhood garage sale beat was pretty cool…..a Fiesta Fund Raiser for the La Playa Co-Op here in Lindberg Park, walking distance from my home replete with delicious Mexican food catered by Mrs. Garcia’s, and some mean margaritas made by moms who know how to do it all, AND a silent auction! Come on now! Who could ask for anything more?
I love silent auctions, second only to garage sales. Number one, silent auctions are places to spend money without guilt or need for explanation (“But honey, I simply had to. It’s for a very, very, very good cause.”) And number two, depending on location and affiliation you can get supreme deals at a fraction of the ordinary cost while doing something for humanity all in one fell swoop. Silent auctions are also an opportunity to exercise your more competitive side in wily ways. If you want the Dodger Tickets (field level 3rd base/1st line) deal of the century, or that score on the two night hotel stay somewhere swanky, you better know how to distract your bidding opponents in the final moments before auction’s close – in ways OTHER than the “your wife is going into labor” bit.
To be fair, it wasn’t just the auction. It was the venue, menu and people that made the event fun and even a little enlightening. Sitting at the welcome table were Parisa Taghizadeh and Szilvia Campbell, the co-chairs of the event. Both moms were dressed as beautiful Spanish Senoras and yet they had accents from elsewhere: Parisa is originally from England and Szilvia is originally from Hungary both having immigrated to the States within the last decade. I was delighted that here in a place which Andy Griffith could practically call home, we’ve also moved on with the times with an inter-national neighborhood flare. I wish I had more time to chat with these ladies, but the margaritas called to me, the auction sang to me, and I had to be home before bedtime to put my boys to sleep.
Passing through the twinkly lit back yard, done in decor bespeaking a really nice restaurant say in…Acapulco, I made a note to come back and enjoy. At that moment, however, bidding bade my name.
I made it to the living room and low and behold there was one of the best silent auctions I have ever experienced. Web Consultation, house cleaning services, manicures, pedicures and even pet-icures for the over indulged poodle. There were vouchers for restaurant’s I have been meaning to try – the new Green Peas included; coaching for parents, personal fitness packages, Angels tickets, Dodger tickets, Galaxy tickets, Big Bear stays and shiatsu. You could choose photo sessions for the family, really cool jewelry, micro dermabrasion facials, mediation, meditation, facilitation, original art and more. I was seriously impressed.
While browsing the goods, I got to talking with some of the parents at the Co-Op. Why a co-op I asked and learned a lot about the La Playa Co-Op in listening to the answers.
A mom ogling over the same necklace as me shared “I think parenting well is in the little day to day choices you make with your child. I enjoy being in an pre-school environment where I can be part of my child’s choices during their every day school experience.”
At the sports area I bumped into a dad with two kids who are graduates of La Playa. He and his wife also have a third son waiting in the wings who will be attending La Playa next year. Three boys under the age of ten…..it’s amazing they made it to the event! He went on to talk about Marni Parsons and Ruth Hollensteiner, the two co-directors at La Playa. “They’ve won all sorts of awards for the work they do. They not only teach the kids, they take the time to teach US how to teach our kids.”
Heather Coombs-Perez, the hostess for the event, is relatively new to the Co-Op although she has two older boys – one in elementary and one in middle school. Why the switch to a cooperative? “From my boys experience having commuted to a pre-school, I learned I need to be in relationship to my kid’s friends and their families. It’s so much easier to maintain relationships when the pre-school is near where you live. It’s even better when it’s literally right across the street.”
I have to say it seemed like a great crowd – warm, friendly and eclectic. Both my sons went to a different pre-school, but I don’t think I realized back then that, as Judith Martin-Straw (mom to two La Playa grads) so eloquently put it, “there is a real treasure that sits hidden in Lindberg Park. “
I didn’t win the Dodger tickets for which my husband would swear undying gratitude, love and coffee in bed every morning for rest of my life. My opponent hovering over the same sports packages got his wife to whisper in my ear that there was a message saying I need to come home ASAP … the kids were hysterically hyperventilating and wailing for me to come home. At least it wasn’t the “wife’s in labor” line that I fell for.