Every night before bed we read Gracie two books, one of which is always Sandra Boynton’s “The Going to Bed Book.” On the last page the book says that after turning out the lights and saying goodnight, the animals all “rock and rock and rock to sleep.” We rock her back and forth and then take her to bed, saying goodnight, singing Twinkle Twinkle, turning on her turtle light.
Lately life has felt like it is rocking in every direction, violently. No sooner do B and I get our legs about us, we are hit in another direction with something else. Not all of it negative necessarily, but just so much change, so fast. As someone who tends to thrive on routine, I haven’t always handled everything with a lot of grace. Unless of course stress eating a package of Thin Mints and scrubbing grout with a toothbrush while ignoring a pile of clean laundry is “graceful” and in that case, I nailed it.
Now that we seem to have moved past the “make difficult decisions” section of everything, we’ve moved on to finding our new normal. A huge part of this is our change in child care. I now have a daily trip on the El (Chicago’s subway system) to the daycare to pick up Little Miss and bring her home. It changes how my daily routine operates. It means she has to get dressed every morning to get out the door. It isn’t bad, but it is new. I know over time it will become our new normal, but now I’m figuring out how best to prep dinner on my work-from-home days. What I really need is some crock pot recipes that need 8+ hours in the crock pot for the two days I go into the office. After taking a bus from my office to the very Northern end of the El, switching lines, going all the way down to Gracie’s daycare, picking her up, riding the El back up to the stop near our house, getting her, our SUV style stroller, and my work bag/diaper bag down 3 flights the stairs (our El station doesn’t have an elevator), walking to our house, and then getting us all inside and up three flights of stairs, I’m ready to lie down in the entry way and let her stack blocks on top of me while the dog chews my hand off. Making dinner? OY.
(My Grandma, in Gracie’s newborn days, confided in me that having 4 boys wasn’t easy, and that sometimes, when it was just all too much, she would lie on the living room floor and let all 4 boys drive Matchbox cars all over her while she closed her eyes. It is, hands down, my favorite piece of parenting advice EVER.)
When I list it out like that, all the steps of the process, it seems rather overwhelming. But this is city living, this is one car living, and there is so much we love about living in the city I have to remind myself of the tradeoff. We like being able to walk places. We enjoy the museums. The zoo. The lakefront, the city parks, the mish mash of cultures and restaurants and people, the hustle and bustle.
But now, I’m just a bit tired. Rocking in rough waters, finding my new sea legs. (Note to self: continue to work on improving your metaphors). I’m ready for smooth sailing. (Groan).
It is out there, I know. Dare I say….on the horizon? But right now I’m crossing my fingers for better weather (literally, I am so over the snow and mind numbing cold), a relaxing weekend and some family time. One day at a time.
Something That Makes Me Smile: Gracie’s been really joyful to interact with lately – mimicking, sharing, playing “chase”, laughing hysterically. The other night she grabbed a toy of the dog’s out of his basket, and took it to him. Our normally lazy dog took the opportunity to play with the toy while she watched with a huge grin on her face. Totally one of those simple life experiences you hope you never forget.
Something That Really Annoys Me: When people “like” things on Facebook that ask you to like them so they can hit a certain number of likes. Most of them are scams, no one is giving away money or airline tickets plus spending money, etc. This article really reinforced why you shouldn’t do it….
Something Random: It looks like this summer I will be going to New York for work. Before Gracie was born I went fairly regularly (every 6 months?) but the project ended and I haven’t had a chance to go. I love going to New York for work, so I’m pretty excited. I’m staying in Midtown which isn’t my favorite (normally I stay in the meatpacking district) but I found out one of the events I’m attending is going to be at an amazing location I haven’t been to, so I can’t wait.
Something Sad: Our nanny share is ending this week. A lot of feelings saying goodbye, wrapping things up. I think on Friday afternoon what I will feel will be relief, but come Monday morning I’ll be a bundle of nerves.
Something Happy: Today is my brother’s birthday! He and I have had, at times, a rocky relationship (siblings, ahh) but I do love him more than anything.
Something I Need to Do: Send in some student loan paperwork and mail Gracie’s thank you notes from her birthday party. FOR SHAME.
Something I Tackled: Our desk and its mountains of paperwork. We finally got things sorted, filed and shredded. Weight off my shoulders.
How about you? Anything that makes you smile/annoyed, something random/sad/happy, any to do lists or tackled items?
Whew. As I briefly mentioned in my one year letter to Gracie, after a lot of thought and discussion, B and I made the choice to enroll Gracie in daycare. She starts in March, and we had the terrible task of breaking the news to our nanny and our nanny share family. This was really hard, because we genuinely like everyone and the arrangement was (for the most part) working well for us. So why the switch? For us it was about flexibility and finances. They are not glamorous reasons, but they are ours and we own them.
First and foremost, our student loan payments are set to go up by a lot in the next two months. A painful, painful amount that has caused serious re-evaluation of where all of our money is going. And when childcare is the most expensive monthly line item outside of your housing it means you have to take a good long look at it to make sure you are spending wisely. We love our nanny, and she has done nothing short of an amazing job with Gracie. That said (and here is the flexibility+finances part) we pay by the hour, and any time we needed her to come early or stay a little late, it adds up. And because those are not “shared” hours with the other family, we pay the full hourly rate ourselves. So if twice a month B has court a few counties away and has to leave early and then my train is late once or twice (inevitably) it definitely changes the bottom line. Not to mention, when you are late and have a nanny you are directly impacting someone who might have other plans directly after work. We ultimately decided to look into daycare to see if better options existed.
We didn’t have a lot of hope looking into daycare- in the city you can easily spend well more than “nanny prices” on daycare and many of the recommended facilities have extensive waitlists. Like, sign up before you conceive extensive. We somehow lucked out that a facility we had been interested in was opening a new location, and we were able to get a spot there. For now the cost is on par with our nanny share but when she moves to the toddler room in a few months, the savings are substantial. A huge upside for us is that the daycare has much longer hours, and while we don’t expect to need them often, it is nice to not spend an entire train ride home stressing that you are ten minutes behind schedule. It will also be helpful for me- working from home with flex time has meant I’ve done a lot of work at night, after Gracie goes to bed. This new arrangement should allow me to get a little more time during the daytime hours. Some other perks for us: the daycare serves all organic food, has a nice system for a discount if you miss a certain number of days due to illness (unheard of!) and will give Gracie a dedicated crib that we can “decorate” with things from home if we want. They have outdoor time, an indoor playground and the teachers seem really sweet. There will be a group of one year olds starting in her room around the same time, so I’m glad she’ll have friends to move up to the toddler room with later this spring. We hope that the savings we have will give us a little more wiggle room for a few date nights here and there so our current nanny can come back and babysit- we can’t imagine not having her in our lives!
Of course, all of these things are great but daycare has its downfalls as well. We are nervous about the transition, and about the germs (currently accepting any and all tricks to mitigate daycare germs). We are going to move her bedtime routine around so Gracie’s bath comes directly after daycare (clean hands, fresh clothes) and we are starting her on probiotics as well. This means that every afternoon I have to pick her up, rather than seamlessly transitioning from “working in the other room” to joining her in the living room to play and read books. We will be using public transportation to get home (yay one car family….) which has its own ups and downs. It also means that Rhett Butler won’t have people around every day, which is something he really likes and has helped his anxiety. Gotta think about the dog too! Ultimately though we hope that the good outweighs the bad and this is another positive experience for us.
Changing childcare is as stressful as changing jobs. B and I both did a lot of “is the grass really greener?” hand wringing and we had a lot of late night talks about what the best option for our family is. It is scary, leaving something good for something unknown, but we are making the plunge. Fingers crossed!
Calling all parents, shoppers and baby registry-makers: lets talk baby carriers.
The thing that some people swear by, other people scoff, and for which there are 9 million opinions and options. When I was pregnant baby carriers seemed daunting. A friend from Twitter sent me a Moby wrap, we registered for the Ergo carrier and I figured we were all set. We hit some glitches after Gracie was born- turns out most carriers have a minimum weight in addition to a maximum weight, and it took Gracie about 6 weeks to get there (even then we might have fudged by a few ounces). But when I flew solo with her at 7 weeks the Ergo was my life saver (I never did master the Moby no matter how hard I tried) getting through security, and it is the only way I survive living in a third floor walk up with a dog whenever B is out of town.
So when Laurel of Carry Me Away got in touch and offered to send me a whole box of soft structured carriers to try and compare, I was more than happy to say yes. I also learned that industry calls them “buckle carriers” which is good to know when you are shopping.
The box of carriers arrived and I was blown away by all the options…and part of me wondered, can these carriers all made in generally the same style, really be that different? In the box I found:
Laurel also offered to send me an Ergo Baby Carrier but since I have my own, I told her I was happy to use it in this great experiement.
The answer to my question has been a resounding yes- I’m shocked by how just a few minor changes between carriers can really change how it functions, feels or performs. And while I still love my Ergo, I’ve also found some new favorites in the box. I’ve been using these carriers in different situations (taking the dog out, riding the El), as has B, and we’ve been trying out different carry positions with them as well. I have an in-depth post coming up comparing and contrasting each carrier, but in the interim, I figured I’d throw it out there in case anyone had any specific (or general) questions about any carrier in particular, or a specific comparison between any of them. I also fear I will never master the art of the back carry without another adult around to help get Gracie situated.
In summary: let me know if you have any questions!
Be sure to check out Carry Me Away if you are in the market for a carrier, because in addition to competitive prices and free fast shipping in orders over $50, they will let you return a carrier within 30 days of purcahse if you find that one doesn’t work as well for you as you’d hoped. You can find all their info here: Shop l Facebook l Instagram l Pinterest l Newsletter l Blog
I have partnered with Carry Me Away to compare and review baby carriers. I was not compensated for my writing and I will send all but one carrier back (keeping my to-be-determined-favorite) at the conclusion of my review. My opinions have been and always will be entirely my own and I am not paid to publish positive comments.