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!
When I don’t write on here for awhile my thoughts sort of scramble together as odd little bits of things pop in and out.
“I should write about that” I think, before hopping over to something else. Lately “something else” has been a sick little girl, truly wiped out by a cold or other virus (pediatrician speak for riding it out with nothing but fluids and ibuprofen) who hides when she sees me with a tissue in my hand. “Something else” has been DIY crafting for her birthday party, something I’m terrible at. I have to budget for my mistakes and imperfections…”oh the directions call for two packages of doilies, methinks I’ll need three” and the burns on my fingers. I hope Gracie likes “crooked” because I’m the master of that.
I’ve been trying to do better about dinner at home being less “easy peasy take out salads and some quick pasta” and a little more deliberate. This week I made Ina’s chicken stew without really reading the recipe, and as I was waist deep in blanched carrots and homemade biscuits I wondered why I didn’t use my reading comprehension skills to comprehend the fact that the recipe made food for 40, included two (!) sticks of butter and included biscuits from scratch. B called me the next day, he had stayed home from work to hang with our sick girl, and wanted to know why we were out of butter. “Why do you need butter?” I countered, “There is chicken stew for 35 in the fridge.”
I’m still pretty sure he ate something from the freezer.
Rhett Butler turned 9 this week- B and I have been in great debate over whether or not we adopted him on the 22nd or the 23rd, my blog and Facebook seem to be in conflict, and rather than check the paperwork we’ve just spoiled him for a few days. Four years we’ve had the furry beast, and they’ve been four great years. He helps make our house a home and I’m deeply indebted to him for all the Cheerios he eats before I have to vaccuum.
It has been cold- so cold- in Chicago as of late. Maybe you heard about it? Regardless, it is miserably cold and the baby and the dog and the parents are all a little stir crazy. This weekend it is supposed to get up into the 30′s and we are debating the outdoor zoo versus the kid’s museum. I’m sure both will be filled with germs and children and other parents with the cooped up wild eyes, but Gracie is on the mend and by Sunday I will need some AIR. And I won’t care how chilly it is.
We moved Gracie into her convertible seat in our car (she still fits in her infant bucket for out and about trips, although she’s fast approaching the height limit) and she loves her new view. I love that although the new seat is considerably larger, the ability to properly install it in the middle seat means I finally have some leg room in the front again. Ahhhhh…… Still, as we slowly pack things up (clothing, bouncy chairs, car seats) I’m already growing nostalgic over how tiny she once was and how big she is becoming. She now signs “more” which means more water/milk/snack/whatever you are eating/I’m bored, entertain me please and it is both thrilling and terrifying. Demanding she is.
Last night as I washed all her stuffed animals and wiped down all her toys (friends don’t share germs) I thought about her birthday party and the summer ahead and all we had to look forward to, about how the dog would turn 10 next year, and we’ve been married more than four years and I just wished for moment I could freeze it all, something to look back on, to remember that no matter how tired and snotty and cold it was, it was still so very good.
Is it too late for a look back on my 2013? Eh, too bad. It was a good year and I want to look back.
I started looking back at 2012 (I was so timely and on top of things!) and reviewing all the books I’d read the year before. Hmm. In 2013 I didn’t read nearly as many books, unless you could repeats of The Going to Bed Book and Dear Zoo. I do not. I hit the magical 35/35 when you are 35 weeks pregnant and have 35 days until your due date, and my friends threw me an amazing baby shower. I hit full term and I discussed the more serious side of having babies- maternity leave and working moms and making it work. I wrote my last blog post before having a baby! It was about the Dryer Monster.
Surprise! I had a baby! She came 8 days early, and since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl, we were equally thrilled to find out we had a girl, that we call Gracie. I hardly blogged in February (surprise?) but I did capture her birth story.
I didn’t blog a whole lot more in March…4 posts to be exact. I wrote my first letter to Gracie, I jotted down thoughts on essential newborn gear, and rehashed Gracie’s first two trips: a road trip and then an airplane trip. I really lived up maternity leave!
I went back to work in April (bittersweet) and poured out all my feelings about maternity leave. I wrote my second letter to Gracie (this…is a theme) and I mourned the loss of Dawn. I also did some crazy math (I broke out the Ti83 y’all) and figured out down to the diaper and ounce where you could get the best deals on diapers and formula. I talked about Mom Perfume and I wrote an extra letter to Gracie after I went back into the office after working from home for a month.
In May we moved so things got a little crazy. I wrote my letter to Gracie, deciphered Craigslist and mourned leaving our old, cozy apartment. I also discussed how people portray their spouses on social media.
Another letter to Gracie as we began settling into our new house. Around this time she started sleeping in her new nursery, which was hard but awesome. I missed hearing her snuffles…but I didn’t…you know? We had her baptism, which was lovely. I discussed baby items and things no one told me about pregnancy and babies. Gracie started eating solid food.
I bet you can’t guess how I started…oh wait, another letter. I shared my “famous” taco pie recipe. I talked about all the baby stuff I wish I’d known about. The baby started scooting around the house.
Another letter! I bet you didn’t see that coming! I talked about Gracie’s Christmas goodies, and ceramic Christmas trees. I talked about the books I’ve read this year (hint: not nearly as many as 2012) and Christmas traditions. I even managed to share our Christmas menu, and recap the big day.
Gracie is nine months old and suddenly the holidays are upon us. It was around this time last year when the concept of having a baby was growing more and more realistic…and a year later I found myself Googling options to keep the baby from playing with the DVD player.
She is officially on the move. She stops for no one but the dog. She has been busy the past month. She had her first night away from Mom and Dad (more accurately: Mom and Dad’s first night away from the baby, aieeee) and did just fine. She spent a lazy Monday with me when I took the day off of work, and road tripped to Grand Rapids where, once again, she was a champion in the car. (Slept the entire way there, and most of the way home). She celebrated her first Halloween and learned to crawl and pull herself up to standing in the matter of a few days. She is now cruising along furniture and has to be watched like a hawk, lest she try to scale furniture or poke the dog’s eye out.
Speaking of the dog, he is very into the baby now that she often comes with a little bit of a snack stuck to her hand/cheek/leg. He hangs out under her high chair, watches her play time with a careful eye (we all know snack time comes right after play time) and is very accommodating when she pets him. We keep their interactions pretty supervised, she is still learning the concept of “gentle” and he’s still a dog that thinks the world revolves around him. Despite their learning curves they are fast little friends.
Having a mobile baby really, really changes the dynamic in a house. We moved a lot of decorative things out of our living room today, opting to put them away or move them to less accessible areas. Our single baby gate will soon be joined by a few more barriers and we are installing cabinet locks this week. It is also a reminder to sweep more often, as those little baby socks are very critical of one’s housekeeping. This newfound mobility+ pulling up has caused us to seriously reasses our intended Christmas tree placement. The dining room now appears to be the winning location, far away from little hands.
Gracie continues to eat and sleep well, the only exception during her first ever cold, which was miserable to watch. Saline, humidifier, saline wipes for her nose was all we could do, and you could tell she was mystified we were not doing more. Sorry kiddo, but if you grow up to be a scientist maybe you can cure the common cold. I bet there’d be a prize in there somewhere. Her third tooth is working its way in, and pretty soon she’ll be sporting little teeth on top and bottom. Truth be told, both B and I miss her gummy little smile. Last night we went through photos, reminscing about her tiny newborn days and marveling at how much time has gone by in the blink of an eye. Parenthood = total cliche. We are ok with it.
We love reading bedtime stories with her, she squeals when the first page of The Going to Bed Book appears and will sit in your lap and read books for long periods of time. It is as close as we get to snuggling, so I’m happy to oblige.
Being a parent is exhausting and wonderful. We both are shocked at how much fun it is just to watch her figure things out and by her continual understanding of her little world. Our nanny is a sign language pro and Gracie understands a multitude of signs (although she isn’t repeating them back yet). One night last week B and I spent part of evening learning the signs for ourselves. Sure enough she “gets” what we are saying with them- more, finish, milk, eat, home, sleep. She is saying “mama” and “dada” although there is no real purpose behind them and we got our first ever wave out of her last week. She is slowly becoming her own tiny person and it is an amazing thing to watch.
I can’t wait to see what your future holds baby girl. You can grow up to be anything.
17 lbs 11 oz
Likes: crawling, the dog, pulling up, activity table, peekaboo, Cheerios. The Going to Bed Book
Dislikes: diaper changes, having to get dressed