Monday, January 30, 2006

Daycare merry-go-round

As I started back part-time last Fall in the work world as a parent of 2 small children, I'm back into the daycare dilemna. I found a home-based daycare near our home that is affordable, clean and safe that the kids started at in September... and I'm still not totally comfortable with it. The other kids are all really sweet, but there's a little bit too much TV use, and the food is not what I'd serve at home. I wish there was a little bit more space for them to play & get their ya-yas out. I'm betting that we are one of this provider's last families - she seems ready to retire when her teenage kids leave home in a few years.

I can't put my finger on why I can't settle into this situation, or if not, then change it to something I like better. I'm not sure there is a situation I'll like better. Last year when we shared a nanny with another family, I wasn't totally comfortable with that either. The nanny was great, but my friends' kids were too rough, and I didn't like their family rules about some things. At the daycare this year, there's no territoriality, the rules are consistently enforced, but the provider doesn't love my kids or relish in what new or amazing thing they have done that day.

My kids go to day care 3 days a week while I work from home. I thought about hiring a nanny just for our family, but I worried that there would be too many distractions for both the kids and me with us being in the same space. Being around other kids in the daycare has been great for my 2 1/2 year old son, but I worry that he's not getting enough cool or fun or challenging experiences there... but maybe I can just save those up to do ourselves.

This month I've been stressed out because I think the 2 1/2 old would really get a lot from a quality preschool experience next year - but I've either got to put him in an industrial preschool/daycare combo, or commit to paying for and shuttling him back & forth between preschool & daycare 2-3 days a week, which will hose my working hours. And the "quality" preschools are already filling up for September - in January!

I know that I'm a better parent when I'm working some but I still feel terribly guilty to not love raising my children all the time. While I support others who want & can stay home with their kids full-time, it drove me crazy. I felt like a huge loser, even though I don't think that of my friends and acquaintances who stay at home with kids.

I want high-quality caring daycare for my kids that doesn't kill us financially. I want daycare providers to be able to eat and have insurance. I want to be able to maintain some toe in my work life while I have small kids so that I can have a career to go back to when they are older. Why doesn't this have to seem so hard?

Everyone tells me that things don't get easier as children age; the challenges just get different. This one is really gnawing at me right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cardboard box added to toy hall of fame

From Happy News, appropriately enough, some happy news:

Forget the fancy toy: The box it comes in can be much more fun. Spaceship, castle, haven to daydream in, the cardboard box was enshrined Friday in the National Toy Hall of Fame along with Jack-in-the-Box and Candy Land.

No kidding, grown-ups.

''I think every adult has had that disillusioning experience of picking what they think is a wonderful toy for a child, and then finding the kid playing with the box,'' said Christopher Bensch, chief curator of the Strong Museum. ''It's that empty box full of possibilities that the kids can sense and the adults don't always see.''

Low-tech and unpretentious it may be, but the cardboard box has fostered learning and creativity for multiple generations _ a key qualifier for inclusion in the museum's seven-year-old hall of fame. And its appeal as a plaything or recreational backdrop is universal.

All over the world, ''packaging is something that's accessible to kids, whether that's cans or tins or wooden crates,'' Bensch said, and the cardboard box ''makes a point that you don't have to spend a lot, have a certain income level or charge it on your credit card to have your kids have a great play experience.''

The museum, which boasts the world's largest collection of toys and dolls, acquired the hall in 2002 from A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village in Salem, Ore.

So far, 34 classic toys have been enshrined, from Barbie to Mr. Potato Head, Legos to Lincoln Logs, Slinky to Play-Doh and Crayola crayons to marbles.

Candy Land, a board game decorated with a sweet-treats trail and destinations such as Gumdrop Mountain, was created in the 1940s by a San Diego polio victim, Eleanor Abbott, who wanted a pastime for children recuperating from illness.

Jack-in-the-Box, the jester who bursts open his box lid when a compressed spring is released, appears to have originated in the 16th century. The toy is loosely based on Punch, the dynamic puppet in the ''Punch and Judy'' show.

The corrugated cardboard box, which quickly came to dominate the shipping industry in North America, was invented by a Brooklyn printer, Robert Gair, in 1890.

Strong Museum, the second-largest children's museum in America, is aiming to wrap up a $33 million expansion next summer that could double its attendance to nearly 700,000 visitors a year. The 23-year-old museum contains more than 70,000 toys and dolls and features circus memorabilia, children's books, household furniture, miniatures and various objects of American culture dating from the 1820s.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Scary dancing elephant

Is anyone else disturbed by the scary dancing elephant on Sesame Street?

The voice - eeek! The stomping!

I don't get the appeal, but then I'm not pre-school aged.

Anyone else?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I just successfully put both kids to bed, ending a 3 day stretch of single parenting while Tom's been out of town. Yeeeaaahh Mommy! It actually wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. I didn't cry or shout once! I did put William to bed a little early this evening, as I was ready for the day to be over.

Having two kids is actually more fun that I ever thought it would be. To wit: William & Emilia shared their first laugh the other day. At dinner Monday night, Emilia, while sitting on my lap, with William in his high chair, did something - snorted, smiled, I'm not sure what - that cracked William up. His laugh then started her laughing, and they went back & forth laughing at the other for at least a minute or two. It was quite cute and charming.

Not having grown up with a sibling I'm not really sure what to expect for my kids' relationship with each other. Tom is 5 years older than his brother so having siblings close together is new for both of us. It seems like you either hear horror stories or sugar coated candy about siblings.

Once I knew I wanted to have kids, I knew I wanted to have more than one. While some people seem to idolize the privledges of only children, I hated not having a sibling. While I'm sure there's an element of 'grass is always greener...' here, I was really lonely not having a sib. And then there's the stigma: as an acquaintance in college said to me, "You don't SEEM like an only child." What, I'm not completely self-absorbed? I know how to talk to people? I'm not dripping in diamonds?

On an unrelated note, the situation Alice describes in this post really made me mad. The hospice where my mom died was unusual I know, but what's wrong with this country and our medical care system that we can't make people's last days at least humane if not comfortable and peaceful. Oh yes, that's right, it's a medical care system, not a HEALTH care system. Silly me, I forgot.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Getting over it

Tomorrow is William's 2nd birthday. It's amazing how much has happened in our little World of Doink in such a short time - birth(s), death, job changes, learning how to be a parent... I never could have predicted many of the events of the past 2 years.

While the family birthday party we had for William tonight was really nice, I felt my Mom's absence. A little less than last year, but her not being there was present for me. Tom's parents, and my Dad and step-mom all were in town to help celebrate, but I felt a little like I was lying or dishonoring my Mom when I told William that all his "Nanas and Papas" were here to celebrate his birthday. There was a "Nana" missing.

My mom drove me crazy in lots of ways - narcisstic, long-winded, unorganized, neurotic - but she was also able to listen deeply, made great potato salad, was very funny, and loved me to pieces. I wouldn't want her back here in the state she was in when she died, but I miss the wonderful and unique things about her often.

Since William's arrival and my Mom's departure on earth happened so close to each other, I wonder if I won't always feel some sadness at this time of year. It's a joyous time - marking the birth of my first child, my becoming a mom, adding William to our family - and it's tinged with the memories of all that was hard and terrible about my Mom's death.

It seems expected that we 'get over' grief so quickly in this culture, but if I've learned anything over the past 2 years about grief, it's that it is an amorphous and tricky feeling... it will sneak up on you at inconvenient times as much as it will at times that you expect it (or not, then to surprise you later).

I'm not sure you ever 'get over' losing your mom.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Things I never thought I'd say

Phrases I have actually said to William in the past year:

Don't eat the house numbers.

Don't climb in the dishwasher.

Don't lick the cat.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Our daughter Emilia was born in early March, and she's a beaut. We like her a lot.

Over the past few weeks, I've been reflecting about what happening when William was her age, when my mom was dying, and all the things we went through - trying to communicate with doctors and other medical personnel 200 miles away, driving 6 hours to see my mom when William was less than 3 weeks old, trying to teach him how to eat from a bottle when we were living in a hospice. In retrospect, it's amazing to me that we made it through all of that - I can't believe I didn't completely crack (came close, though).

With Emilia, and having only the 'normal' craziness of having a baby in our lives, I really feel like I'm getting to enjoy the lovely parts of having a newborn... gazing at her, cuddling with her, getting her to smile... I know those things were there with William, but it's really scary how little I remember of his babyhood. Maybe all parents are like that once the second child arrives?

I worried so much that the intensity of his first few months would harm him. It doesn't seem to have, though, now at nearly 2 years of age. It may be just his temperment, but if there's any impact from that time, he seems to be very aware of others, and their emotions, which is good and bad. He's mostly just a really happy little guy, and I like being with him.

Now I have a daughter and a son. I never thought I'd be in this place - married, two children, happy (?).