Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Home Daycare

I know, I know, another post about Wee ‘Burb. And me declaring I’m not a mommyblog! I truly am not, so I hope you’ll all bear with me as I digress into parenting tales of woe once in awhile. It’s pretty much all my suburban life has been consumed by this last month.

So here’s what happened. As I’ve mentioned ad nauseum in this blog, I don’t have any mommy friends locally. And so when it came time to choose a daycare for Wee ‘Burb, I was sort of in the dark. Don’t laugh, but I started researching when I was pregnant. I figured the best time to tour places and talk to people was before I actually became a sleep-deprived mommy zombie holding a crying, pooping distraction.
The first major choice was home daycare versus center. I personally grew up in home daycare and was sung the virtues of such for many years. But the cons as far as I could tell were that if you didn’t know the person, you were essentially putting your child in the hands of one stranger. Versus many strangers at a center daycare. It didn’t help that the week I was researching, there was a big article in our local paper about a couple who had been performing some deviant acts online out of their house, which was also a daycare. Somehow their excuses of “we never did this in front of the kids, or while they were here” just didn’t exactly make me feel better.

Now, look, I worked in a center daycare, so I know the cons there very personally. The one I worked at closed not long after I went to college after an inquiry into a woman who duct taped a child to a cot. But in the end, I just felt that without knowing anyone personally who did home daycare, I would have to trust center.

Except, well, I did know someone who did home daycare. Right across the street, in fact. Which was, at the time, a huge con for me. Because when Wee ‘Burb was born, looking into her little face and wanting to spend every waking second (and Lord were there a lot of those!) with her, I just couldn’t bear the thought of having her across the street. Watching her and hearing her and not being able to be with her.
So I kind of avoided the discussion whenever I saw my neighbor and fretted endlessly that she thought I didn’t trust her.

In the end, we adored the center daycare where we took Wee ‘Burb. It was 5 minutes down the street, her “teachers” were young and enthusiastic and had been with the center for years. They loved my daughter, gave her hugs and kisses, taught her how to feed herself and sit up on her own, somehow converting her into this independent social child who actually napped more than 20 minutes.

But they were expensive. We started by cutting out Netflix and some other odds and ends. We tried to cut our grocery bill, which is like cutting off a limb if you’re a foodie like Scott and I are.

But, really, every time we looked at our expenses there was one glaring area in which we knew we could be saving money.

I had no idea how much! I began to consider putting Wee ‘Burb in home daycare about a month ago. Realizing I would like to travel, and someday eventually give Wee ‘Burb a sibling, I knew something had to give financially, and so I started my research with the woman across the street.

She literally gasped when I told her what we were paying for center daycare. She said she charged $50 less a week, and provided food! In turn, I gasped. Because in my obviously flawed research, I truly believed we were talking $50 a month difference, not a week!

She lamented that she could not take Wee ‘Burb, though, because she had some newborns coming in January and she had to keep her ratio down as a result.

This began a week-long period of self-flagellation the likes of which you’ve only seen in movies like the Da Vinci code. How could I have been so selfish? How could I have prioritized this vague feeling of how hard it would be to have her so near and yet so far over the kind of savings we were looking at?

After days of this, I finally got down to doing more research through some sites my neighbor was kind enough to give me. After determining who had any hits on their record, who had been doing this long enough, but not so long they were burnt out, I narrowed my list down to three providers and went across the street to run them by my neighbor.

She whittled one more down for me saying the woman “never seems happy when I see her at the park.” Grateful I told her again how much I regretted not choosing her in the first place. And this is when my neighbor threw me a lifeline. She said until January her ratios were such that she could take Wee ‘Burb now. She pointed out it would save us money in the short term, and give us more time to carefully research home daycares.

The decision was hard and easy at the same time. I so loved the people she had taking care of her at the center. And there were downsides to having her across the street outside of my own difficulties. Namely that as a home daycare provider, if she was sick or her basement flooded (which happened this spring), it was up to me to find backup care. Or have Wee ‘Burb at home, which has been increasingly difficult as my work responsibilities increase along with her mobility.

Long story short (Yes, I know, too late), we decided to put Wee ‘Burb in home daycare with our neighbor and just hope that it either works out later, or at least we have the winter to find someone else.

So last quick thing! My neighbor comes over to do all the contract stuff, and we go over the list of what she provides. At which point I almost hugged her. Not only does she provide the food in her fee, she provides wipes, lotions, Orajel, and FORMULA! Let me just paint a picture for you: we spend about $30 a week in formula. Right there we’re talking $80 a week in savings.

It’s not even been a full week yet, but Wee ‘Burb is loving her new place! The bigger kids are always crowding around her. It is hard when I hear her cry, and even worse when I hear her laugh when she’s outside, but in the end I know she’s loved and safe. And I know my bank account is going to look a lot healthier.

What financial decisions do you make that are also tied up in emotions? Which wins out: thrift of emotions?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Roommate From Hell

I’ve had a lot of bad roommates in my time. College was a breeding ground for unfortunate room share options, wasn’t it?
There was my freshman year roommate, who was obsessed with Suzy Zoo. Yup, these covered her entire wall. Or, well our wall, since the room was a 10x10 cell.

There was my sophomore year roommate, who was a mute twin on academic probation. Her twin was equally mute and, I think, equally stupid because both of them studied 24/7. They only spoke in whispers the entire time I knew them, and because they were identical, anytime that I had to address something to my roommate, I just spoke to the air above their heads until one mutely nodded their assent.

My junior and senior years I roomed with…well, she was a friend until we lived together for two years. She was a neat freak goody two shoes who never dated the entire time I knew her, and was always in bed by 9:00. Our friendship ended abruptly when she sent a scathing letter to my parents’ house after graduation complaining that I took my phone and left her “without any communication with the outside world.”

All this is to say, those people pale in comparison to the horror that is rooming with Wee ‘Burb. Her and I were thick as thieves the week in Cape Cod, and we had a blast, don’t get me wrong. But as a roommate…well, let’s just say I no longer question the wisdom of not co-sleeping.

She’s like that roommate in college who partied all the time. It was blessedly quiet during the day, you had the place to yourself, and just as you were about to drift off to a blissful sleep, the roommate comes stumbling in, giggling and chatting all night.

That’s Wee ‘Burb.

Just as I fell into bed, weak with relief from making it through a day of constant vigilance and holding and nose-wiping, and talking, and laughing, off she’d go. Usually around 2 a.m. “Daddaddad” followed by quiet. Okay, I can settle in now. Eyes close, body relaxes, “Daddaddad” and then some sort of squawk I can only liken to a pterodactyl. Followed by clapping. CLAPPING! 2 a.m. There’s nothing to cheer about at 2 a.m. Unless you’re my daughter, apparently.

I’ve never been so happy to see her crib.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Post: Part 2 Adventures in NRA Paradise

Please enjoy this guest post from my good buddy Lola.

I am a weak, weak woman. Well, also a curious one. So when I got another call from “Clive” (see previous entry), I agreed to take him up on his offer of coffee. Maybe somewhere deep down I kept hoping that Google messed up and the gun-toting lunatic it found for me was just “Clive’s” namesake. In reality, “Clive” would be tall, dark, handsome, and NRA membership-free.

Alas, my girlish dreams were shattered.

It was the same “Clive,” I realized, as I saw him getting out of the car at Caribou Coffee. Only skinnier. Much, much skinner. Holy hell, that guy’s skinny! Bill Gates could kick his ass, even without the help of his bodyguards!

“Clive,” in the meantime, was busy talking on his cell phone. And talking. And talking. Now officially late for our date, and yet still talking. Finally, he hung up and came in. And once we’re face-to-face, I think “oh my God, I’m on a date with John Leguizamo!” He could be John’s doppelganger. In bottle-cap glasses.

Once we have “Clive’s” creamer phobia all settled, we sit down with our coffee and fruit smoothie (I had the coffee…yeah, I know). So, “Clive,” tell me about yourself. And “Clive” did. In detail. Everything from his childhood to his fear of Memphis, Tennessee, to why art is dead (who hasn’t beaten that elitist dead horse!). I think I knew as much about him as his therapist after those 90 minutes.

“I feel like I’ve been talking all about myself,” he says to me at the end of our session. Well, yes, “Clive,” you have. And the few times you asked me something about myself, you played with your iPhone while I was talking. Maybe that was meant to impress me. Let’s pretend I didn’t see you checking your e-mail.

It’s a story as old as time – girl meets boy, girl thinks boy looks like John Leguizamo without the wit or charm, boy can’t put iPhone away, girl secretly rolls her eyes all through coffee. It’s like living a Jane Austen novel. And they say romance is dead!

Any old-fashioned romance would be incomplete without a passionate love letter. Mine was waiting in my inbox when I got home. “Very impressed with you,” it read. Oh, goshums. And I didn’t even know that I was on a job interview! Silly me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest Post: Part 1 Your Holster is Showing

Google is my new best friend. Wait, no, more like an uptight but kindly schoolmarm. She’s strict, she’s prudish, you love to hate her sometimes but dammit, the old bat’s sage advice just kept you from making a terrible mistake. Is Lola off her meds or something, you might ask? No, kids. Lola’s just been set up on a blind date. And were it not for Google…wait, let me start at the beginning.

Unlike my pal Stephanie, who never has to wade the perpetually shallow dating pool again, I am single. Which opens up a whole new can of worms – people trying to help you out, the poor soul, and set you up with various “nice young men.” “Nice,” as well as “young,” is often an exaggeration. And now I can add my dad to the list of helpful matchmakers.

Picture a rainy night. Wet, empty sidewalks, a lone streetlamp in the distance enveloped in seamy city fog. Okay, so maybe I watch too much film noir. But my phone did ring one dark and stormy night and a voice I didn’t know said, “Hi, Lola. I’ll be in your area soon and we should get together sometime.” Um, we should? Who are you? My attempts to find out how this guy got my number yielded no conclusive results. Finally I figured it’s some prank call, excused myself and hung up. Hey, maybe he dialed a wrong number!

I completely forgot about the whole episode until I paid a visit to my parents. And my dad asked, “Why do hang up on nice young men?” (Ah, there’s that phrase again!) And try as I might, I couldn’t get any more details out of him. Just “nice,” “young” and “man.” That last adjective was more or less corroborated during our brief phone conversation but the jury’s still out on the first two.

A couple nights later, I come home to discover a voicemail from this guy. Let’s call him “Clive.” And I have to admit, he sounds nice on the phone. What the hey, maybe he is normal and this is worth a shot! And since Clive left his last name, too, I inadvertently Googled him while at work. A total accident, I swear!

Holy mother load.

The most I expected to find was maybe his name on some alumni list. Or maybe Facebook. But this guy? Has an entire website devoted to himself. It covers everything from hobbies, to his parents to what he did last weekend.

And as I’m browsing, there’s something about “Clive” and his site that keeps nagging at me. What is it? Oh, yes, all the GUNS! Entire photo galleries of them! Everything from small handguns to what looks like AK-47s. I’ll admit I don’t know much about firearms and don’t want to learn.

Judging by other results Google managed to scrape up, “Clive” runs forums on guns, claims the government has a secret plan to take them away from us, apparently specializes in photo shoots of “chicks with guns” (access for forum members only) and even does ads for…kid guns!! Yep, cute little pink and purple semi-automatic rifles for your little princess, just as sugar and spice as she is!

Ummmm, what the hell?

Curiosity killed the cat. And in my case, any interest I may have had in “Clive.” But at least I know I have one true love. Dear Google – thanks for everything. Love, Lola.

Stay tuned for when, in Lola's infinite wisdom, she decides to GO ON A DATE WITH CLIVE!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vacation and Guest Posting!

Hello, Internet! I've been away a bit, but I have many good...or well, reasons, anyway. Including Scott traveling for work, getting ready for my first trip alone with Wee 'Burb, and putting her in a new daycare. So, life is crazy.

To that end, since I will be on vacation, I am bringing you an AWESOME two-part guest post from my good buddy Lola about being set up by her dad. So look for those posts next week and an update when I return!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm Married to Bart Simpson

So the woodpeckers are back and apparently the owls aren't working. My husband's solution?

That's a slingshot! Scott gave specific instructions to both myself and my friend who is living with us. And then she asked the ultimate question: "Is this a shoot to kill situation?"

He replied: "You do what your conscience allows."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Things I Love Thursday: Biggest Loser Breakfast

One of my bigger weight loss challenges was at breakfast time. I always ate english muffins or bagels or something high-carb. I never really cared about breakfast, so I just ate whatever was easy and quick. I made it my goal to try a new breakfast every day for a week, and I found some great alternatives.

This one is my favorite (and I'm not a food photographer, people, so forgive me my rudimentary skills).

Boston Cream Peanut Butter Breakfast Banana Split from the Biggest Loser Cookbook
1 Banana (peeled, halved lengthwise)
1 TBSP reduced fat peanut butter
1/2 cup lowfat Boston Cream Pie yogurt
2 TBSP Grape Nuts

Place the banana halves in a bowl with cut sides facing inward. Spread the peanut butter on the open banana. Spoon the yogurt in the middle. Top with Grape Nuts.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Office Space: What I Learned About Myself

Well, thanks for all the positive remarks both on and off the blog. I did manage to get through the work party, and people at least pretended to be impressed and appreciative.

I have to say, the biggest surprise was how completely draining it is going into work when you are used to working at home.

I know, I know, for those of you working in an office every day, the world’s smallest violins are coming out to play me a sad song. But seriously, here are the Top 3 Things I Hate About Working in an Office:

1. No Escape from a Bad Hair Day. I’ve mentioned in the past that my hygiene suffered so immensely when I started working at home that I instituted "work pajamas"So two days before I had to go into the office, I realized I had no clean clothes that were work appropriate. While I was feeling quite pleased I fit into my clothes, which I had tailored at my wedding weight, I wasn’t so pleased about the dry cleaning bill. Or having to bandage blisters at night because I am so unused to wearing heels now. There’s just this pressure to look at least as good as the bright-eyed 20-somethings with their black pants and cute heels. At home, I only have to look as good as my puppy and 8-month-old who is covered in drool thanks to teething hell.

2. No Escape from Small Talk. Don’t get me wrong, I like people. I’m so high Extrovert on the Myers-Briggs, it’s not even funny. But I really can’t stand small talk. There’s only so much “oh this rain is good for the plants” or “wow, traffic was so crazy today” before I just want to fake a seizure to liven things up. I could always talk sports with a few of the guys, but even that wears thin after awhile. Now, as you’ll see in my next point, I don’t want to share my life story to anyone who happens to be putting cream in their coffee in the break room, but it’s just tiring having the same conversation over and over again.

3. No Escape from Overshare. One of the main reasons I am working at home is because they had nowhere else to seat me in our office and I complained CONSTANTLY about the noise. There was a chick in the cube across from me who was always talking on the phone about things nobody should hear about! Let’s just say I am fairly sure I knew she was pregnant before even her husband, and she was so descriptive about the different exams she endured due to “issues” with her pregnancy, that she was simply known as Rectal Chick to anyone who knew me and heard me talk about her. Also, the people who didn’t talk in the bathroom stalls (and seriously, why is that going on? Do your business, THEN talk) would start (or sometimes continue) their deep discussions right by cube. Many just leaned right on the wall, right on the sign where I wrote “This is a working area, please do not hold private discussions here.” Apparently your latest medical issues and drug-addicted children are…not private? I don’t know. I just know if you worked at my company, I probably heard something you didn’t necessarily want me to hear. This is why happy hour was invented, people. Take it outside with a glass of wine, thanks!

All I can say is tonight I am happy to be setting out my work jammies and putting my little coffee pot on for 7:00 a.m. My coffee, not the company swill. Another little thing I learned about the office? People like their coffee weaker than my resolve not to eat the Snickers bar in my office-provided lunch. Not good times.