daycare

Father’s Day

Children are extremely funny – both intentionally and unintentionally – at this age.  Daniel’s daycare teachers interviewed each child about his or her father and sent it home as a Father’s Day gift. Daniel’s answers to the questions are hysterical. Behold:

daycare questionnaire for Father's Day

First of all, his father’s name is Jim, NOT Stephen! Daniel does know Jimmy’s name, but the little stinker didn’t make up Stephen from nowhere. We’re a very naming family – everything has a name, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Stephen is the name of Jimmy’s iPhone (mine is named Millie). So, yes, it is a little humiliating that Daniel used the name of his father’s iPhone for his father’s name.  Ouch.

Secondly, note the age he gave Jimmy: 26. Twenty-frigging-six!!  I’m envious because when I asked the little imp how old I was a few weeks ago, he said 62. 62! Jimmy gets 26. Jimmy says he’ll change his name to Stephen if he can be 26 😉

Thirdly, Jimmy is not a garbage man to Daniel’s chagrin.  He works in IT for our local utility monopoly. He’d probably enjoy being a garbage man more.

The rest of the answers are sweet and made us laugh. We did have a moment of worry about the “favorite food” answer because Daniel has been fond of saying that everything Jimmy drinks is beer after Jimmy had 1 beer with dinner. It’s probably the only beer Jimmy has had in the 4 years Daniel has been alive LOL.

The drawing is fairly representative 🙂 It is so enlightening and humbling to see what behaviors and lessons stay with our little ones.

***

When we moved into this house 8 years ago, we were beginning to think seriously about starting a family. Like within a few months. We scrutinized every house we looked at for its suitability for children and settled on our current house because we liked that all the bedrooms were on one level. We especially loved the huge yard and the wooded lot. We stood on our back porch and pointed to a shady spot right before the trees started and declared it would be perfect for a swing set. We could envision our children playing in the back yard, swinging high and and sliding down the slide.

It didn’t quite work out the way we thought it would. It would be 4 years before the baby we had imagined became a reality.

It would be four more years before the play set graced the back yard.  Jimmy and I decided that Daniel’s big birthday present this year would be a play set. Jimmy had a few requests: monkey bars and a club house. I wanted good swings and a slide because Daniel loves to slide.

On Saturday, we sent Daniel to grandma’s for the day and had the play set built.  When I brought Daniel home, the work was finished, and we took him to see it. He grinned and ran to it at full speed. As he explored every part of it, he would turn to us and say, “I love you, Mommy” and “I love you, Daddy.” Melt.

Playset!

Today, Father’s Day, we spent 2 hours outside playing on it.  I know that the play set (or “clubhouse” as Daniel calls it) is technically Daniel’s birthday gift, but it feels like a gift for us too.  A perfect Father’s Day and Mother’s Day gift.

After years of struggle to get Daniel here, seeing him happy is the best gift we could ask for.

Happy Father’s Day, Jimmy. Your little boy adores you.

Jimmy and Daniel

A Rant on Reproductive “Rights” and Horrible Daycares

I’ve read a few stories the past few days that are horrific.  They make me sick to my stomach and want to cry.  They also force me to conclude that there is not only a war against women (not that I was a doubter) but also that there is true disdain for being a poor woman.

I wonder if the right, the so-called conservatives or family-values brigade, realizes how contradictory its positions are.  Don’t have sex until marriage (the 1900s called and they want their values back), but if  you do and get pregnant, you better keep it.  If you are pregnant, that 8-celled embryo has more rights than you, but don’t expect us to help if the child you dutifully birth needs Head Start to prepare for school.  If you expect to get government assistance (AKA welfare) to subsist, you have to work; where and in what conditions you put those kids we begged you to have isn’t our concern.

Sure, I’m likely generalizing quite a bit and being a bit inflammatory, but honestly, I’m shocked and appalled at what is going on in this country lately when it comes to reproductive rights and then the lack of policies to help care for children from the self-named “family values party.”

Look, people are going to have sex.  They’ve had sex for hundreds of millions of years, and your declaration that sex outside of marriage (a fairly recent invention) is immoral isn’t making a difference.  Women want to have sex responsibly and be in charge of their own reproductive outcomes and seek contraception, yet there is a war on that.  Women get pregnant (because they didn’t have access to contraception) and decide to seek a legal (remember that fact?) abortion.  Unfortunately, for lower income women, it may be difficult to obtain one in the legally-allowed time frame due to cost.  As a result, they may have to seek one at type like Gosnell’s.  Do you think a woman wants to have a partial-birth abortion?  Do you really think a woman wakes up one day and says, “you know, I’m tired of this whole pregnancy thing. Think I’ll get a partial-birth abortion.” The woman who settles on a place like this clinic is desperate and poor.  She can’t afford earlier procedures or better conditions and puts her life in the hands of this so-called doctor.  It’s NOT a whim.

Let’s say the woman decides to have the baby and parent it.  That’s wonderful, right? Except for the fact that she will need to work to support her family and/or obtain any government assistance.  She has to do something with the child, right? Decent, regulated child care can be difficult to obtain at best and unaffordable at worst.  Do you think this mother wants to leave her beloved child in a situation that might cause unease? That might seem unsafe? Daycare is expensive.  Good daycare is VERY expensive.  How can you demand a mother work to receive any assistance, yet make it impossible for her to find decent care for her child?  And then when tragedy happens, you cluck that this is what happens when mothers enter the workforce, conveniently ignoring the fact that you have contributed to this Scylla and Charybdis.

You might be wondering what dog I have in this fight.  I admit that I am privileged.  I own it.  Jimmy and I are fortunate to be able to afford the best daycare for our son and any other services he might need. We have the ability to shop around and evaluate excellent facilities according to our whims. I’ve never worried how we were going to support our family.  Never worried about the toll an extra mouth to feed might take. Never had to fight for any type of contraception (and I write that with great irony given my particular conditions).  Hell, we were able to pay a lot of money to have a baby.  Conservatives, we are your people! Except for the fact that I loathe injustice.  I loathe children not being able to get a fair shake in life. I loathe children being placed in unsafe conditions due to a lack of government intervention.  I loathe women being treated as lower-class citizens.  I loathe feeling like my gender is denied intelligence in some political circles. And I also loathe being told what to do with my own body. And overall, I loathe unfairness.

I wonder what it says about a country that values upholding the right of its citizens to own guns–even guns that could almost be weapons of mass destruction–over valuing and caring for its youngest citizens. As Cohn’s article points out, government subsidy of childcare could have huge returns as far as reduced prison, health and special education costs and increased economic contributions.   To me, it seems a no-brainer. What am I missing?

After Newtown, I lost a friend on Twitter after I tweeted that the Republicans cared more about embryos and potential than actual children since they were reluctant to enact gun control measures.  I understand she was offended, but I stand by that sentiment, and nothing I have read has altered my stance.

The explanation often given is to let the free market decide.  Capitalism will decide. I don’t think so. When I was in high school and learning about different types of economic systems, my teacher pointed out that capitalism without restraints can be very harsh.  Capitalism is the “honey badger” of economic systems.  Unsafe conditions or too-low wages? Capitalism don’t care.  Read The Jungle and then tell me government intervention is  unnecessary. The programs FDR put in place and similar social programs were necessary to blunt the sharpness of Capitalism. Yet too many politicians seek to dismantle them. Why care for the elderly?  Why allow our citizens to feel like their country rewards them for any service? Hell, just let us die and then bulldoze over us to build the next monstrosity to profit (for a few!) Capitalism demands.

I’m mad. I’m angry. I’m furious that anyone, let alone any woman, any mother, regardless of financial status has to justify any decision she makes.  Has to jump through hoops to make pertinent decisions for herself, her body and her children or future children. Has to believe she has no other option than to go to a cut-rate abortion provider who doesn’t even clean up after prior procedures. Has to put her precious child in a situation that feels not quite right in order to earn money.

We live in the richest, most free country in the world, yet we’re content to let religion and dogma prevent us from doing what is ethical and what is right. Am I wrong to be bothered by that?

 

Week in My Life 2012: Friday

 

Friday was a frenetic day.  I knew it was going to be hectic because I had a few meetings and I was going to leave early because Daniel had a Halloween party and costume parade at daycare, but it ended up being even more hectic than I anticipated.

I dropped off Daniel at daycare with kisses and a reminder that we would see him at his party and then I dialed into my conference call, my first meeting of the day, as I headed into Raleigh.

I had one mug of coffee that I drank during my commute, but I needed more, so in between meetings 1 and 2, I headed to Cup A Joe for another shot of caffeine. It’s always fun to go there, especially because you often run into the reporters from one of the local stations whose office is up the street.

Local campus favorite

Freshly caffeinated, I headed to my second meeting at another building on campus.  It also happens to be the building Suzanne from Pretty Swell works in although she wasn’t there today.

There were some really pretty leaves on the ground as I walked into the building.

Fall is here!

After that meeting ended, I headed to my office for my weekly staff meeting, my third meeting of the day.  Normally that meeting is on Thursdays, but I had rescheduled it since I had to take my car to the dealership on Thursday.  At 10:45 Friday morning, I was questioning the wisdom of rescheduling it since I had precious few hours to actually accomplish anything that day.

My office building. My office s behind the tree in the middle. Eventually those trees will become a gorgeous shade of red.

After my staff meeting, I was pulled into an unexpected fourth meeting with my organization’s executive director AKA my boss’ boss.  After that meeting, I scarfed down lunch and caught up on emails before heading out for the main activity of the day: the daycare party and costume parade!

OMG the cuteness.  First of all, 18 3-year-olds and cookies, cupcakes, fruit and veggies (ignored–what a shock!) could be perilous, but they all did well.

Daddy and Daniel looking at his party plate. Looks yummy to me!

Daniel hadn’t napped, so the extra sugar was like heaping fuel onto the fire, especially since he was so excited to see us.  We put him into his costume, and he looked adorable.

Oreo cookie!

I had been worried that the costume would be too small, but it fit well and actually would fit a bigger child too.  We’ll use a white shirt on Halloween.  Daniel thought it was great fun that he could bump into walls and be well-insulated thanks to his costume.

Finally as the sugar took hold in everyone, it was time for the parade.  The parents gathered outside while each class paraded around.  It was very, very adorable.

Our cookie!

After the parade ended, we took our sugared-up, hyper little boy home.  It was a good day.

Week in My Life 2012: Tuesday

 

We have a joke around the office that Tuesdays suck except it’s not really a joke.  They tend to suck.  Maybe it’s because you feel a false sense of well-being because it’s not Monday.  Maybe it’s because it’s still not far enough into the week to for you not to be depressed that it’s not closer to the weekend.  Whatever the reason, crappy stuff tends to happen often on Tuesdays both at work and at home because Tuesday also happens to be garbage night.  This Tuesday was no exception.  I’ve decided to focus on what happens after 5pm because tricky Tuesday threw me a curve at work in that my scheduled 4-hour meeting ended up going an extra hour, so there was nothing from work to document except for the screaming in my head.

Traffic was horrible on the way to pick up Daniel, so I rolled into the parking lot right at 6pm, setting us up for a rushed evening.  In contrast to Monday’s ridiculously short nap, I was thrilled to discover Daniel had a good nap.  Since we were already behind, hopefully his nap would buy us a little time and it seemed to because he was in a great mood on the way home.

Happy Daniel on the ride home

 

Since he was a baby, Daniel has loved to try to change the stoplight from red to green by blowing on it.  Nowadays he likes to command me to “blow the light, Mommy.”  Here we are both trying to change the light.

I wonder what the other drivers think.

 

When we arrive home, Daniel makes a beeline for the leaves in the front yard because he wants to catch a squirrel.  Good luck with that.

Where’d the squirrel go?

 

Since we’re so much later getting home than usual, Jimmy has beaten us home and already taken out the garbage.  One odious task done!  Surely that means the rest of the night will be smooth sailing!  I’ve posted before about how we try to prepare a multi-day meal once a week and this week’s is to be jambalaya.  Only we hadn’t made it yet because we didn’t make it to the store on Sunday, meaning we grocery shopped yesterday, resulting in the sub-par Chinese for dinner Monday night.  Since we needed to do a bit of meal prep, we fed Daniel separately and began to prep.  I cooked hot sausage while sous chefs Jimmy and Daniel cut vegetables.

Maybe a show on the Food Network is in our future?

The evening is passing by in a haze of domestic tranquility.  We’re prepping jambalaya while Daniel proceeds from his dinner to his fruit course, while a Thomas DVD gently blares in the background.  It’s almost time to get Daniel ready from bed, and I’m patting myself on the back over how smoothly everything has gone.  Then disaster strikes.  I discover we are missing a key ingredient for the jambalaya.  Jimmy has to go to the store to get it, leaving me to handle the bedtime routine with the 3-year-old who insists on doing everything for himself except when he decides he doesn’t want to and moves at a glacial speed unless it is something he wants to do or the very opposite of what you asked him to do.

Don’t even think of suggesting pajamas other than Thomas ones right now.

 

Fifteen minutes and one trip to the potty later, we are ready to read books!  I like to add in seasonal books to our story time and right now, our books are a mix of Halloween and Fall. Daniel LOVES to go “Wooooooooooo” like a ghost right in your face.  He is also into rhyming and jokes.  Tonight’s gem was “That’s not toast; it’s a ghost!” Happily, Jimmy returns in time to read a story too.

Books and a foot

 

 

 

After we tuck in Daniel, Jimmy keeps an ear out for little feet scampering from the bed to the door while I cook.  Daniel usually requires 3 or 4 retucks before he goes asleep.  Much to my chagrin, I discover that I’ve messed up the order of some of the ingredients for the jambalaya, requiring me to pick out some of the vegetables I’ve put into the pot.  This delays dinner again.  Ah tricky Tuesday, you strike again! Hungry and frustrated, Jimmy and I empty the dishwasher and exchange barbs before we realize how silly we are being and apologize.

Dinner is finally ready to be eaten around 10pm.  So much for a simpler evening!

Worth the wait I suppose

Just Call Me Angel of the Morning

Last fall I posted on our morning routine, and that routine has changed drastically since Daniel started daycare.  And since he turned 3.  There will be an entire post soon on the seemingly-overnight personality change he has had since he turned 3.  Here’s a glimpse into what mornings are like in our house lately.

My first alarm buzzes.  I hit snooze.  The second alarm goes off.  I hit snooze, but by then I’m no longer drowsy, so I snatch my iPhone and check email, check Twitter and then visit a few celebrity gossip sites.  You know, because my brain is fuzzy at 6am, and I try to ease it gently into that good morn.

I stumble to the bathroom, trying hard to come to terms with the fact that I am awake and must get up and get ready.  I peer into the mirror, so close that I could lick it because I am crazily impaired without glasses or contacts.  I sigh at the bags under my eyes and scrutinize my chin for any burly hairs that might have erupted overnight.  Because I am of a certain again at which springy black hairs gleefully erupt like weeds.  One of my earliest memories of my great-grandmother was watching her shave her face with an electric razor in the bathroom.  This little old lady in a house dress would purse her lips and push out her chin to ensure she achieved the closest shave possible.  Despite that memory, I don’t come from a line of sasquatches (except when it comes to height), but I do wonder if a Norelco is in my future.

Teeth brushed, face washed and makeup on, I hear the tell-tale signs that Daniel is awake: a little chatter, the ripping of the diaper as he flings it off and the thump of his feet as he runs to his potty.  Then I hear, “I go pee pee. Pee pee everywhere.” And then, “Mommy, come here.”  I drop what I’m doing and run down the hall, tripping over yowling cats indignant that they have not been fed and open his door.  I am greeted by a half-naked little elf grinning up at me as well as so.much.pee on the floor.  I scratch my head because his potty is in one corner of the room and has a goodly amount of pee in it (success!), but the huge puddle is in front of the door (fail!).  I’m going to need forensic splatter experts to help me figure out this one. He’s so excited to see me that he jumps up and down, slipping in the pee.  So I now have a half-naked little boy covered in urine – still smiling though.

I scoop him up, trying to ignore his uriney dampness and take him to our bedroom to wipe him off and get him dressed for daycare.  As I take off his sleep shirt, the only remaining article of his pajamas, he argues with me about wanting to keep it on (although he says “Leave it off” because he is mixing his words) because it is a Thomas shirt, and I try to convince him that the shirt is for sleeping (“cuddling” he corrects me) and not to wear in public.  The dressing battle won, we head for the kitchen and breakfast, and this is the point at which my child turns into Sibyl.

I have been called a morning person by my family for years, an accusation to which I, to echo the words of Demi Moore’s character in A Few Good Men, strenuously object. I can function in the morning, get up and do what I need to do, but I don’t have an especial love for mornings.  Daniel, on the other hand, usually wakes up happy and distressingly chipper before turning moody and whiny as I shepherd him through all that needs to be done to get us out the door at a decent time.   I’m not at my best in the mornings because there is a lot to do and my temper is often short and on edge.  Daniel pushes these buttons with masterful contrariness.  I offer him pancakes; he screams, “No!  Gra-lol-a bar!”  I put on his everyday shoes, but he whines for his water shoes because he wants water play, which is of course not that day! I made the mistake of putting his trains back on the train table the night before, not realizing he had placed them on the floor in a deeply meaningful arrangement.  He flips out, starts to cry and yell, “On the floor!” as I watch him dumbfoundedly.  At first I try to cajole, apologizing for my egregious error.  As the crying and yelling continue, I say “Ok, put them where you want them” but I’m thinking, “WTF? I don’t care! Put them where you want them.” Or maybe he wants to watch a movie or color, but we’ll be leaving in 5 minutes and my attempts to explain this to him rationally (my big mistake) are met with howls of outrage.

We finally are in the car and on our way.  I mention that it’s raining, and he disagrees emphatically, “it’s not raining.”  I have two choices.  I can continue insisting that it is, at which point he might lose it or I can reply with a simple “ok.”  I cowardly choose the latter.  I inquire about what he’s going to do at school and with whom he’s going to play, and he tells me decisively, “I not going to play with anyone.”  Ok. He begs to go get gas (?).  He begs to go to McDonald’s (??).  I defuse those bombs.  He announces that he wants to cuddle mommy, which is a tad bit impossible – not to mention unsafe- when I’m driving. When we pass the winery, I ask him what we do with grapes, and he replies happily, “Smush them!”  Apparently, I have a pint-size vintner on my hands.

We pull into the parking lot at daycare, but the battles are not over.  He begs to take a toy with him as I try to convince him the toy might get lost or broken and should stay in the car. Tears dried, Daniel insists on being carried in, and I acquiesce, feeling him cling tightly to my neck and suddenly regretting my short fuse and barked orders.  He’s still such a little boy.  We lumber to his class.  I put him down, put his lunch box on the table and hang up his bag in his cubby. He is standing right beside me and whispers, “Pick me up.”  I scoop him up, cuddle him, kiss him and remind him what a great, fun day he’s going to have.  I put him down, and we walk to the door so he can wave to me.  On the bad days, his little face crumples and the teacher picks him up to comfort him while I wave and blow a kiss before walking out, shoulders slumped.  On the better days, he smiles at me, waves enthusiastically and blows me a kiss before turning around and walking back to the other kids.  He doesn’t exactly look enthusiastic about it and my heart hurts a bit, but I am grateful for no tears and walk briskly to the exit.

Back in my car, I’m alone.  It’s quiet.  I turn on NPR or plug in my iPhone to listen to my “Ire” playlist (what?  you don’t have a playlist named after one of the seven deadly sins?) as I drive to work.  I’ll deal with other tantrums there, but for the next 20 minutes, it’s just me, my coffee and my thoughts.  And I’ll do it over again the next day.

 

Friday Foolishness: Going Out of Town (Again)

This week has been very “meh.”  I can’t find the motivation for much, including blogging because really, why am I so narcissistic to think it matters?  That’s when I see through the facade of condescendingly insisting that I blog for me and acknowledge that I like to be read (and when did that become a bad thing?). I know I post something like this every week, but the truth is that I’m in a funk.  I’m frustrated because it’s almost halfway through the year, and I haven’t accomplished much in any area.  My house is a mess.  I’m a mess. And when I think about trying to put words together that could possibly be worth anything, my harsh inner critic (she’s a real bitch) scoffs and brings me back down to earth: what could I possibly say about anything that matters?

I could get all soap-boxy because heaven knows, there is a lot of absurdity out there about which I could rant, but I don’t want to be “Oh there goes KeAnne getting all ranty again.”  That’s why I didn’t write anything about the Time breastfeeding/mom enough challenge cover.  I subscribe to Time (apparently one of the few since that seems to be the conclusion for why the magazine did the cover).  The dastardly issue is sitting in my magazine basket right now, and I’ll finally get to read it on the plane on Sunday.

I think that my lack of reaction to the cover (kudos to Time for having the balls to use such an asinine challenge on its cover) is that my particular route to motherhood already makes me concede that no, I’m not mom enough.  I can’t even participate in that conversation when I outsourced the carrying of my child.  Or, perhaps, I could conclude that yes, I AM mom enough because I wanted to be a mother so much that I outsourced it when my own equipment didn’t work.  But that’s stupid and not worth even asserting.

I think the likely reason I sort of shrugged was because the older I get, the more I feel that I am not <anything> enough. I’m comfortably mediocre.  There’s always going to be someone who does more, is better, is smarter, is prettier, is harder working, is funnier, is ballsier, is nicer, is more successful, is a better wife, is a better mother, is a better friend.  There can only be one superlative.  Everything else is just a fruitless comparison.  So I shrug although I do wonder how we let a style of parenting primarily advocated by a man dictate how we mother.

We’ve been dealing with our first daycare virus the last few days, and it is a doozy.  I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say that it is explosive…everything.  From everywhere.  Think HazMat suit or gas mask needed at least. And hours spent stripping beds and washing everything.  It’s so much fun, yet I feel like it’s a rite of passage and I now belong;  I am officially a daycare parent.

I’m flying to Orlando (again) on Sunday for another conference.  I’m getting the shakes just thinking about it after my last trip, so if  you could send up a little prayer to the travel deities, I’d appreciate it.  I’m excited to present at the conference because I feel like it’s my first real conference.  It’s not that the last conference didn’t count, but it was for a particular group.  Kind of like if  you sell Tupperware and attend a conference thrown by Tupperware.  This conference is for a professional society, and I submitted a session idea and was accepted.  It will be the first time I present on my Master’s Paper research, so it’s like my first big girl conference (And yes, I acknowledge that I spent the first three paragraphs of this post whining about how I haven’t accomplished anything this year. I own my hypocrisy.).  On the other hand, it’s a conference for engineers (blows a kiss at Mannlymama, who received her engineering degrees from my place of employment), so I feel a tad bit nervous about what to expect.  I’m also attending with three other coworkers and to be honest, they aren’t my favorites.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to, um, not see them through the throng of attendees.

Lastly I leave you with the below picture taken by coworkers on their way to an event near Burlington.  I promise you it is not doctored in any way.  Before I offended JJ by insinuating she was old, she corroborated its existence by telling me she saw it many times during her college years.  Apparently in NC, we have no problem legislating hate, but we permit obscenity and poor spelling on our signage.  Oh well.  It gave me a good chuckle when I saw it, and I hope it gives you one too.

I love North Carolina

How has your week been?

Kismet

Mother’s Day bouquet

Daniel has been in daycare full time for 2 weeks as of today.  We think it’s going well.  We still have teary drop-offs in the morning, and Daniel wants me to carry him to his room.  The teachers have been great about distracting him, though, and I’m sure that a minute or two after I leave, he’s fine.  He still keeps asking to see “Ama” in the morning, but I respond by talking to him about all the fun things he will do at “school.”   He’s learning the names of his classmates and his teachers tell me that he’s starting to be a little free with his hands and bumping into his classmates intentionally (too much Thomas and “bashing” perhaps!), all signs that reassure me that he is starting to feel comfortable there.  He even asked to go to school on Saturday! Here are a few other things I like about daycare so far:

  • Lunch.  Our daycare doesn’t provide lunch, so we have to send it.  At first I wasn’t sure if I liked that because did I really need another task in the evening?  I can barely make my own lunch every day.  However, I really like that we pack his lunch now.  I like having control over what he eats and y’all, he’s eating it too!  Veggie puffs!  Ham and cheese wraps!  Wheat crackers!  Yippee!
  • Naps.  Daniel is starting to nap again in the afternoons.  I don’t know if they blow ether in the room at nap time, but it’s working.  He may not nap every day or for the entire time, but more often than not, he’s napping.  It’s a great development because now we aren’t as rushed and stressed in the evenings, and he’s less prone to meltdowns.
  • Vocabulary.  It seems impossible, but I swear Daniel’s vocabulary and speech have improved over the last two weeks.  He is using more complex sentences, and his speech is clearer.
  • Less time in the car.  Our previous commute was 1.5 hours every day, and Daniel spent all of that in the car with me.  It takes me 15 minutes to get from our house to daycare in the morning and then 15 minutes from daycare to our house in the afternoons, so he spends an hour less in the car each day.  The drive to and from daycare is also scenic, so it must be nicer to see houses and yards instead of asphalt and cars.  Plus, there’s less opportunity for mommy to swear at the other drivers.
  • Me time in the car.  I now have almost an hour to myself in the car each day.  Before, I met my MIL in the parking lot at work for pick up and drop off and had to immediately segue way from mommy to employee or employee to mommy.  Now I have time to transition mentally.  While the time is nice in the morning, I really appreciate it in the afternoon when I desperately need to decompress before putting on my mommy hat.
  • Starbucks.  Really.  There previously wasn’t a Starbucks easily accessible to me on my way to work.  Most of the time, that was ok, but sometimes I really want a decent latte.  There just so happens to be a Starbucks 2 minutes away from daycare.  I can hit the drive thru and be on my way to work in minutes!

So, yeah, the first two weeks have gone well.

Now for something spooky…Until recently, every time I asked Daniel who he played with at daycare, he said the same name.  I thought it was a little bizarre because I didn’t see a cubby with that child’s name on it in his classroom, but he was so consistent that I doubted he was making it up.  Then one afternoon at pick-up, I heard one of the teachers call a child that name.  He does exist!  It turns out that the child used to be in Daniel’s class but moved up the same time Daniel started.  Apparently he is in Daniel’s class at drop-off and pick-up.  I didn’t think anything more about it other than being glad he wasn’t imaginary until last weekend.

We took Daniel to the bounce house yesterday, and all of a sudden, it clicked.  That child at daycare, the first child whose name Daniel learned, is the child in foster care we met on our last visit to the bounce house.  The child whose phone number I wish I had gotten.  I couldn’t believe it, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was correct.

Wow.  What a small world.  Sometimes when you throw something out into the universe, the universe answers.

Gather ye daffodils while you may

First Day of Daycare

I am a very sentimental person.  That may surprise you.  Or it may not.  I think I tend to come across as reserved and chilly, so I suppose I feel like I must tell you I’m not.  The truth is, though, that underneath the reserve, I am a mess of emotion and feeling.  I cry at commercials.  I cry at books.  I cry when I think about animals in pet stores waiting to be adopted and how lonely they must feel. When I was a little girl, I cried on New Year’s Eve because I felt bad for the year that was ending and would never come again.  Jimmy and I celebrate the anniversary of the day we met in addition to our wedding anniversary.  I remember and honor certain dates for the tiniest of reasons if they are meaningful to me. The reserve acts as a stopper, a protective shell, from all those feelings because without it, I’d be a gooey puddle of KeAnne, unable to function.

Today was Daniel’s first full day of daycare, and I’ve sort of wanted to cry all day.  And I sort of feel silly for feeling that way because he’s almost 3 years old.  I didn’t cry the day I returned to work when he was 3 months old, so why do I feel so weepy now?   We did two trial runs last week in which I dropped him off for a couple of hours, planted myself outside at the Starbucks two minutes away, waited for a frantic call from the daycare to come get him and read actual books. And no frantic call came. In fact, he seemed to have a good time. Cue relief.

New lunchbox!

Today was different.  I packed his lunch and breakfast last night, agonizing over what to put in.  I was a little frantic this morning because suddenly our normal routine needed to become a more formal.  Since Daniel had been going to MIL’s during the day, I had gotten into the habit of packing his clothes and taking him to her in his pajamas, and she would give him breakfast.  Now he needed to be dressed.  I’m sure he picked up on the heightened stress.  As soon as I turned left out of our subdivision instead of right, it began.  “Ama,” he said.  “Want to see Ama.”  I grimaced and told him he wasn’t going to see her today and that he was going to school.  “No,” he replied firmly. But he didn’t cry.

At daycare, we walked down the hall to his classroom, and there was one other little boy sitting at the table.  I put Daniel’s bag on the hook in his cubby and handed his lunch box to his teacher. I put his breakfast on the table, and looked at him.  He had hung back, watching me, and I could tell he was processing what was going on: the new routine, the new route, no Ama.  I don’t think he quite understands it yet, but he has realized things are different.  He came to me and asked me to pick him up and clung tightly to my neck. But he didn’t cry.

Nutritious, carefully-packed lunch that he probably won't eat.

I rubbed his back, told him I loved him, that I would be back later and that he was going to have a good time.  The teacher picked him up and carried him to the big window so he could wave to me.  I walked out and blew him a kiss, and he blew me a kiss.  But he didn’t cry.

Daniel’s world is very small: me, Jimmy and his grandparents.  That’s part of the reason why we have put him in daycare, to expand his world, but I also think that is why it hurts so much.  In our little world, tiny changes feel huge. I worry he feels abandoned.  I worry that he’s hurting.  And I know my mother-in-law is hurting.

For almost 3 years she took care of him every day.  He knows her house as well as his own.  He was cuddled and kissed and loved, and knowing that he was in excellent hands gave me the ability and peace of mind to return to work.  Last week she made him a small pillow out of Thomas-themed fabric to take to daycare for nap time, and it has a small pocket in it to hold pictures of the family so they can bring him comfort.  He adores that pillow and takes out the pictures all the time to look at them.  Friday afternoon, she hugged him goodbye at our last routine drop-off, tearing up.  I watched her hugging him, and him hugging her, and knowing that Daniel doesn’t realize the significance of the day but we do, and I wanted to cry too.

Behold the Thomas pillow, taken with him everywhere

I love the daycare we picked.  It has very high standards and thorough procedures and processes.  Daniel’s classroom is bright and cheerful, and the teachers are loving.  The children appear happy too.  I have no qualms about the care he will receive, and I know he’ll adjust and likely come to love it.  Today is just…bittersweet.  In some ways I think it is more painful to transition a toddler to daycare than an infant.  Daniel knows things have changed even if he doesn’t quite understand what and why.

Today was marked on our calendar. I anticipated it with equal part fear and excitement. It signifies the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.  And there has been a lot of change already for my little family this year.

To my mother-in-law, thank you.  We are so grateful and appreciative of the care you gave Daniel.

And now I’m off to pick up my baby from his first day of daycare and smother him with hugs and kisses.

Checking Things Off the List

Nursery furniture

Nursery furniture

Sometimes I feel like our to-do list to prepare for WB’s arrival is a mile long. And it seems to be a magical to-do list in that it appears to grow longer instead of shorter. For example, I discovered today quite by accident (thanks, E! I’ll email you later) that we would need a deep freezer to store the breast milk that F (and others) have offered to pump for us if we wanted it to last as long as possible. Oh. Good to know. And it suddenly dawned on me today that I have no idea how to prepare breast milk. I have been thinking bottles and formula even though I knew we would be using breast milk for at least a few months. How does one defrost it? Do you need to reheat it? Do I need a bottle warming appliance?

A coworker and I were chatting today about changes he needs made to a section of our website. No problem said I and then I realized that maybe I should tell him that I want to put a moratorium on major web changes after mid-May until late August. And THEN I realized that crap, that’s not far off. This year has been insanely busy for both J and I due not only to WB but also to work in general. In my head, it should be only mid-February but here we are in late March almost April. My God, later next week I might be able to say that we are having a baby NEXT month! While people know what’s going on at work (most of them anyway) and I’ve been talking about making plans for when I’m out, it suddenly occurred to me today that I really need to make and publicize plans soon. Where has the time gone? F told me that the pregnancy would go by quickly but honestly, I didn’t believe her. Yet here we are at 30 weeks (!), and I feel disoriented as I figure out how half a year passed by in the blink of an eye. Wow.

But anyway, J and I have made some progress on our to-do list. Tuesday we went to baby mecca also known as Babies R Us and ordered our nursery furniture. We walked in thinking we wanted certain pieces and within 5 minutes had changed our minds completely. I like what we picked. Unfortunately, the crib was the only thing still in stock. It will arrive in about 2 weeks. The dresser is back-ordered until mid-April, and the nightstand is on hold for about 14 weeks. The set has an armoire as well, but it also is back-ordered and we aren’t set on it. I’d love to have a fully completed nursery by the time WB arrives, but we felt like the crib was the most important thing. If the dresser isn’t in by mid-May, we’ll buy an inexpensive changing table. We had picked out a style of glider we liked but were told it would take 14-16 weeks for the glider if we wanted to change the wood or fabric. It sort of shocked both of us to tell the lady that we didn’t have 14-16 weeks. Serendipitously, BRU had assembled a second floor model of a high-end glider, and the lady told us she could knock off $100 if we bought it because she needed to move it. I sat in it and declared it wonderful, and J examined it from every angle, and we got it. I am so happy to have gotten a really nice chair for the same price we wanted to pay overall. Yay!

We also settled on a daycare. After I posted last week that J and I were thinking of a daycare close to home, he went to visit it and its sister location last Friday and declared them unsuitable. His impression was that they seemed a little lackadaisacal with security and employee relations. He just didn’t get a good vibe from them. He ended up returning to Raleigh and visiting the expensive place we toured last week as well as another daycare next door to it. He called me, excited, because he LOVED the second daycare. He said it was fresh, clean and new like we wanted. I toured it with him on Tuesday, and I loved it too. It is so nice! The rooms are carpeted, the babies look happy and the rooms are big enough that I have no fear a baby will be stepped on like I did in the other two places. The director put us on their waiting list right then and pretty much assured us of a spot in late August. That’s a relief! We both timed it, and the daycare is 10 minutes away from our offices. It’s a 3-star facility, and they are working on their 4th star. Their prices are very reasonable as well. I feel like we stumbled onto a gem of a place, and I’m happy to have friends who send their children there as well. I think that WB will be very content there, and I really like being able to visit him at lunch. Our next big task will be selecting a pediatrician, but that process has been made easier a bit by the fact that we know where daycare will be.

In other news, yeah, we reached 30 weeks on Wednesday. I’m still amazed. F said that WB kicks and moves non-stop. I love hearing that!

Juxtapositions

Weirdness is creating your baby registry with one hand while you have a glass of wine in the other. Sort of mind blowing really! I know that I wrote in one of my first posts that I didn’t necessarily want to be lauded for being “pregnant” or at least “expecting” and being able to drink a glass of wine. However, I would be fooling myself if I didn’t say that it was nice to be able to have a glass of wine or whatever 😉 I think of it as turning lemons into lemonade. J shocked one of his coworkers b/c his coworker knew only that we were expecting but not the entire circumstances, and he asked J if he felt bad coming home and having a glass of vodka or scotch around me. J replied, “heck no! She ties one on with me” and enjoyed his coworkers look of discomfiture. Ah, the little things 🙂

We’re 26.5 weeks as I write this, and we are getting really, really excited. Tomorrow J plans to begin ripping carpet out of WB’s room so we can beging the flooring process (please don’t take 2 months!). I’m feeling a little stressed overall because 1) that’s my primary state and 2) I’m trying to take control of my new responsibilities at work at the same time as I am trying to get things in a position to function effortlessly without me while I’m on leave. I have about 12 weeks. Panic!

Last night we actually had dinner out in a restaurant together. Surprisingly, while we eat a fair amount of takeout (probably 1-2 times a week), we don’t eat in a restaurant very much. I think that last night was the first time we have eaten out by ourselves since transfer day (9/13/08). Anyway, we had a late dinner at a little Italian restaurant a few minutes down the road from us, and while we were waiting, we saw a family with a tiny baby boy. We asked the father how old he was as they were leaving, and he told us 3 weeks. J and I were enraptured. He was so sweet and tiny in his little sleeper. It was amazing seeing a baby close in size to what we will have in a few short months. It gave us something to visualize, and I don’t think we stopped grinning the entire night. It is starting to become very real that we will (most likely) have a tiny baby at home with us in about 3 months.

I’ve started seriously looking into daycare recently. Before WB became a reality, I used to feel that daycare was sort of no big deal. Well, let me rephrase that. I always tried to empathize with my friends with babies and how it felt to leave your baby at daycare, worries about their care, the cost, etc. But until I started imagining MY sweet, tiny boy in daycare, it was never all that real to me. I visited a highly-rated daycare with fabulously low weekly price near us a few weeks ago, and I left a little underwhelmed. Granted, I visited at 4:45pm on a Friday and had a quick tour, but I vowed to look at other places as well since I had no idea of what a good daycare should look like. I still haven’t made it by to visit other centers, but after perusing the DHHS website with avid concentration, I believe that I have narrowed my choices to very few. I was appalled at some of the complaints and license violations listed for various centers. I am a pragmatist, and it didn’t bother me too much if a center had failed to keep a lid on some substance (obviously not right in front of a child but in general), but it did bother me when there were allegations that a child had been left unattended or that equipment was either unsuitable or downright dangerous. Or that staff hadn’t had the required medical or criminal clearances. I mean, after all, I’m going to leave my precious boy with someone else for several hours a day. I want to feel like they have his well-being foremost in mind. After reading the downright frightening official reviews of some of these “good” places, I narrowed down our choices to 2-3.

The first place I visited was back at the top of my list b/c some of the things other centers had been docked for, I recalled this center having in place. And honestly, you can’t beat its price. It is three stars and ridiculously inexpensive. It has great reviews on my community message board. The main downside is it is a few minutes from my house. Would it be better to have WB in a center close to home or close to work? If close to work, I could visit him at lunch or whenever I wanted. Where will his pediatricians be? These are still questions I am working out. The other center is four stars and about 5-10 minutes away from work. It sounds great and has great enrichment opportunities available for when he is older, but it is much more expensive…about $350 more a month. And J and I would need to have an “interview” ASAP in order to be added to the waitlist for September. I feel torn. I’m on the waiting list for the less-expensive center close to home, and part of me feels that maybe we should try it out and see what we think. If we are unhappy with it, we could always switch him to somewhere else later on. It’s hard because I am trying to figure out how much credence to give to word-of-mouth vs. the DHHS reviews. Any center could have one disgruntled parent.

The daycare issue is hard. At least for several months, it is simply not possible for me to stay home with WB full time. Let’s just say that surrogacy and its related costs do not come cheap. It would be nice to be able to have a clean slate again. Plus, I enjoy work. I enjoy the challenges and opportunities my new position offers me. I am easily bored. But I’ve felt protective of WB since he was an 8-celled embryo and I almost cried over the thought of him in someone else, and the protectiveness is only increasing. I want to make sure he’s in the best situation possible, but at the same time, I recognize that J and I are at risk for great indulgence due to how long we waited for him. Oh well. We’ll figure it out.

In other news, the second of the baby boys joining my family was born this week. Baby J was a decent size and has blond hair from what I understand. It really will be fun to get all the baby boys together later this year! The next one is due in early May we think, and if WB comes in late May and if my cousin goes late, it’s possible they will be born pretty close together. That would be fun!

Hopefully I’ll be posting pictures of the demolished baby’s room soon. That would be a HUGE step forward.