Like much of the world, our past 16 days has included a significant amount of time cheering our fellow countrymen (and women) on to victory (or defeat) at the Olympic Games. I’m a huge Olympic enthusiast and I always look forward to the Games. While I admit I burned out on these a little more quickly than usual my overall takeaway is the same: Olympics! Yeah! What you couldn’t have missed if you were watching America’s NBC coverage is that this Games marked the 20 year anniversary of the infamous Nancy Kerrigan Knee Incident, also known in some circles as Damn Tanya, That Was Harsh.
Prior to the Opening Ceremonies in Sochi ESPN ran a 30 for 30 titled “The Price of Gold” (Nancy declined to participate) and NBC has been teasing its alternative, done by (gag me) Maryy Carillo. Sorry guys, but Maryy is just plain mean sometimes, and she is annoying. More annoying than Matt Lauer’s facial hair. Mary’s interviews (with both Tonya and Nancy) ran before the Closing Ceremonies, and both confirmed what American already knew: Tonya Is Reaaaallll Bitter. Also: Crazy.
Anyway, watching these specials brought a lot of memories rushing back, mainly of watching the 94 Olympics incredibly jet lagged in the living room of our temporary quarters in Germany while we waited for our household goods to arrive. I was obsessed with Nancy Kerrigan (she shared a name with Nancy Drew, NO ONE COULD BE COOLER) and I watched every minute of the skating programs with rapt attention. I can neither confirm nor deny that I had my fingers crossed hoping Tonya would fall. As I got older I branched out to love more than just the figure skating, and I have a lot of fond memories of my family watching the Games together. Skiing, curling, hockey, speed skating….I watch without discrimination.
All of this to say: the past two weeks have made me really excited for family Olympic watching as Gracie gets older. There is something so magical, watching these young athletes defy logic, gravity and physics to hurl, twirl and launch themselves around slopes, tracks, rinks, stadiums and everything in between. How many of you signed up for lessons of some sort of watching the Olympics (gymnastics and figure skating, but of course) part of you thinking maybe one day it would be you? I was sweetly oblivious to my own lack of coordination back in the day. Current-Daisy knows I had not a snowballs chance in hell.
Anway…Sochi is over and we can all look ahead to Rio…but I’ll be secretly waiting for South Korea’s Games, where I can introduce Gracie to all the excitement. Parenthood is not always what I expected and can influence you in the oddest of ways, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.
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!
The votes were tallied and with 55 total responses, GoodReads won by one vote. Ultimately I figure Goodreads is actually geared towards, you know, reading, so lets do it! Come join our GoodReads group (with a very, very unique name…or not) and friend me on GoodReads!
Friend me on GoodReads!
The group is open so you shouldn’t have any trouble joining, but if you do, let me know! I plan on putting up a few polls including official voting for our first book selection, so when you get a chance, hop on over. We will finish picking our book by this Friday, so you have plenty of time to vote!
The ground rules I’m going to start with: no self-help books or romance novels. I just don’t want to discuss the awkward phrases and ripping bustiers of the romance novels, and self-help books…yeah, I think those should probably be read solo.
The next question becomes logisitcal. My research points to three obvious ways to faciliate the book club. I can write posts/use surveys/comment section to select and discuss books, or if we want to get a little more sophisisticated we can form a Facebook group or Goodreads group. There are pros and cons to each solution, so I’ll let popular opinion win. (I’d personally lean towards a Facebook or Goodreads group myself).
And that gets us to…selecting books. For the first month I think I’ll pick a few and let everyone vote, and then after that we can decide how we want to pick books. The two easiest ways are to eiethr have a nominating time frame when everyone nominates a few books, and then we select 6 (going 6 months out) or each member gets assigned a month and that month they get to pick a book. Let me know what you think about those ideas or if you have another.
For the first month, here are the books that would be at the top of my nomination list. All links are to Amazon (affiliate links) and the synopsis are also from Amazon. And if I’m missing something awesome that you think should be part of the vote, let me know!
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity. It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a novel of shocking narrative energy and power. It combines unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is a beautiful, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The girls who wouldn’t die hunts the killer who shouldn’t exist. Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future. Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times. At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He’s the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives. Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . . The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.
Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin
“Utterly extraordinary . . . A piercing sense of the beautiful arising from narrative and emotional fantasy is everywhere alive in the novel . . . Not for some time have I read a work as funny, thoughtful, passionate or large-souled . . . I find myself nervous, to a degree I don’t recall in my past as a reviewer, about failing the work, inadequately displaying its brilliance.” – Benjamin DeMott, New York Times Book Review. Mark Helprin’s masterpiece will transport you to New York of the Belle Epoque, to a city clarified by a siege of unprecedented snows. One winter night, Peter Lake – master mechanic and second-storey man – attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks it is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the affair between a middle-aged Irish burglar and Beverly Penn, a young girl dying of consumption. It is a love so powerful that Peter Lake, a simple and uneducated man, will be driven to stop time and bring back the dead. His great struggle is one of the most beautiful and extraordinary stories of American literature.