Wednesday, January 30, 2008

March of Dimes

Zak, The Girls and I walked 3.2 miles this last weekend to raise money for the March of Dimes. The event was organized by a woman in my subdivision and she raised over $600 just from the neighborhood! I was impressed. We told Maddie that we were walking to "save the babies," and she kept asking us where all the babies were. She demanded to see some babies!

Our neighborhood is quite hilly and we definitely got our daily workout points for huffing it up the hills. We did a little bit of running, only (and I mean ONLY) because it made The Girls laugh to go so fast. Both of us ended up with sore knees for the next few days. I couldn't figure out why that was since both of us do some sort of workout at least 4-5 times per week, but I think it was due to the running DOWN the hills. I only walk/run UP hill on the treadmill.

Don't let this next photo fool you, Maddie rode in the stroller the entire time, but decided she'd get out of the stroller and run to the finish line and break through the tape.

Brooke also enjoyed SLEEPING for nearly the entire way! When we got home, Zak and I were exhausted, and The Girls were ready to play!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, PaPa!

Today is my dad's birthday, and it's a BIG one! We are so happy to be in Texas closer to him and Susan. PaPa officially got his name from Madison who was unable to say, Grandpa. We thought she'd call him that. You probably know that the grandkids always choose the grandparent's names...especially the FIRST grandchild. She could only say the "Pa" part of Grandpa, so she called him "PaPa." I'll never forget the first time she said his name! I'm sure he won't either. The picture above is PaPa with Maddie: March 06

With Zak and Maddie in April 06
with Maddie December 06
PaPa and Susan with Maddie on her second b-day, Dec 06

PaPa with Brooke a few days after she was born, Feb 07

My dad and Susan at Maddie's third b-day party, Dec 07

My dad and I have this tradition where we get each other more than one card for birthdays. It started when I was in middle school or high school and he wouldn't allow me to buy him a present. So instead of buying him a present, I'd buy him five cards. I'd put one in the shower so he'd get it first thing in the morning, then one in his car, another in his lunch bag, then another in the pantry so he'd see it when he made dinner, then another on his pillow so he'd get one at bedtime. Some cards were funny, some were sweet and mushy. I'd mix it up. I haven't lived with my dad since my senior year in high school, so instead, I mail him at least two cards since I couldn't do my usual tricks...except for this year. :(

I bought several birthday cards for him at the beginning of the year. I also bought some for my grandfather, grandmother, and brother in law....all January Birthdays. I think I got 7 or 8 cards that day at the store. Since the day I bought them home, I couldn't find ANY of them. I think we threw them away on accident. So, I'm officially apologizing to everyone for not sending a card this year, and being too forgetful to go out and just buy more.

I love you, dad!! Happy Birthday!

Dad and Maddie on Christmas morning, 2007

Friday, January 25, 2008

Show and Tell

Maddie's new preschool is going great. She and Brooke have both adjusted very well to their new teachers and classmates.

Since Maddie is now three, and is in an actual pre-school classroom (versus daycare) she's doing a significant amount more of learning than ever before. This week, the letter "J" is the focus. Maddie already knows most letters, she's now learning what a "J" phonetically sounds like and is studying "J" words. Just yesterday she brought home a colored Japanese flag and Japanese lanterns. Evidently, they're also studying countries in pre-school nowadays!

Every day, we get an update of what she learned, ate and how much (if any!) she slept during the day. On yesterday's daily report, we were told to "Bring something that starts with a "J" for Show and Tell."

Alrighty then...."J?" What begins with the letter "J" that she could bring to school and talk about? I couldn't think of ANYTHING, and with just a few hours notice...the PRESSURE!!

Jammies! Well, that's not really a word, and how do you show and tell your pajamas? Maybe she could wear them to school! Bad idea.

Jelly! A little too messy, and it's been used, and it's in a glass jar. NOPE.

Jeans! Jacket! Well, since she won't even wear Jeans, she probably definitely wouldn't work. A jacket is kinda boring. "Hi everyone...this is my pink jacket. " Great.

Jammies, Jelly, Jeans and Jacket were the only to words that begin with the letter "J" that I could think of. Really, I'm not kidding when I tell you I couldn't think of anymore J words than those four. So, I did what any Gen-X mother would do...I searched the Internet for "J" words!

Also keep in mind that it had to be something in the house, that was appropriate to take to school that was a "J" we're talking NOUNS here.

So, what did Maddie bring today for Show and Tell? You know I just wouldn't give up and tell the teacher that I forgot. Maddie couldn't care less anyway.


She brought a grape Juicy Juice (two J's!) box for show and tell. I've never said I was the most creative....what other things could I have brought? Leave me a comment with your suggestion for next time. IF there is a next time!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pew, Pew, Pew!

Maddie has never seen a gun (toy or real) and doesn't know anything about guns, or the sounds that they make. However, she must have learned (at daycare, no doubt) about shooting with her hand (guns up style). She also uses the word "PEW!" when she pretends to shoot.

She got a Buzz Lightyear toy for Christmas that makes a noise as it shoots laser beam from its arm. Now, she runs around saying, "Pew! Pew! Pew!" and "I'm gonna pew you!" while holding her Buzz Lightyear.

When we ask her to clarify what "Pew!" means she just shrugs her shoulders and continues to "pew" me with her toy or finger.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bunco Babe

I was invited as a "sub" to my neighbors Bunco party last night. I assumed it would be a bunch of blue haired women because, was a Bunco party at my neighbors house (who is also a grandmother).

I have never played Bunco before, but had heard of it. I learned it requires ZERO skills...all luck. It's a good game for women because we're too dumb to think critically and strategize a plan. You just roll dice, chat, drink alcohol (my favorite part), move from table to table, and count (just a little bit). The more wine I drank the less I was able to count accurately. Needless to say, I didn't win anything.

There were plenty of, ahem, elderly ladies, there. However, they were a hoot and I had lots of fun. Many of them brought their daughters who were closer to my age. I also got to know another neighbor better (who was also a sub) and has two kiddos the same ages as Maddie and Brooke.

I really need to get out more. Whenever I'm alone (or out with Zak) without the Girls, I tend to get a bit giddy and silly. Or, maybe it was the wine.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

11 montths

Dear Brooke,

You are eleven months old. Here are some of your latest achievements:
  • You can cruise like a Carnival Ship; walking is just days away

  • You said MaMa just the other day (!)
  • You "talk" to us, "sing" in the car, and yell at your sister when she's sassy to you

  • You eat like trucker and you now have a belly to prove it

  • You weigh about 18 pounds, which nearly breaks my back

  • You clap when your happy, blow kisses, give high fives, and wave hello and goodbye

  • You adore your sister and are her little puppet, you dance when she tells you to and almost always tolerate her constant hugs and kisses

You've had a perpetual runny nose for the last six weeks. I assume you have allergies since you don't seem like you have a cold, but I feel so bad when you're so stuffy you can't nurse or drink your bottle. Speaking of nursing, we're almost done with the milkies, and it will be WAY harder for me then it will be for you once you're finally weaned.

The joy you have for life just oozes out of your pores. Now that you can get to where you want to go (most of the time) you're always finding new fun things to do and see. Today, I asked you what you wanted to be when you grow up, and you told me just as if it was the most simple answer. Too bad I couldn't understand, but I look forward to watching your journey.



Thursday, January 10, 2008

Daycare Dilemma

The current church daycare that both Girls attend is going to be closing, and I have also written several times about how difficult it is to find a daycare that 1.) has the space for your kid and 2.) is safe, loving, and within a reasonable drive from our home and offices.

So, for those of you who need the Cliff notes version:

  • Maddie went to an at home daycare when we lived in Chicago. She went there from 10 weeks until we moved to San Antonio when she was 19 months old. Miss Tippi was everything we could have asked for, and to say we were sad about leaving her is an understatement. We still talk about her, and know that she reads this blog. (Tippi, please email me privately with your new address and number!) There were many reasons why we loved Miss Tippi, but mainly because she treated Maddie like her own, loved on her, taught her well beyond what we knew Maddie was capable. Tippi would send home a daily note of Maddie's day, but often wrote mini-novels about something funny or cute that Maddie did that day. I actually saved many of them because they meant so much to me. When moms work, we feel guilty for missing the big developmental milestones that often occur when your child is in daycare (like walking or talking). Thinking back, I assume that Tippi probably saw Maddie's first step, but never told me. She knew how disappointed I would be that I missed it. Instead she said, "watch her tonight...I think she is on the verge of walking." Sure enough...she walked for me that night.

  • When we moved to San Antonio, Maddie attended a nationally known chain daycare from 20 months until 26 months. We pulled her out because we were unhappy with the large class size (2 teachers/22 toddlers--Texas maximum size allowed). With that many children in the room, two teachers could not possibly do anything other than attempt to manage the chaos and change diapers. We felt Maddie wasn't learning anything. The teachers often told us how smart and verbal she was, but they did little to facilitate additional learning. They basically just babysat. She was safe, but rarely clean. She was sick more than usual as she adjusted to the new germs.

  • A friend recommended the daycare where her two kids attended, lets call it "C". It is a church daycare, with a very large congregation. Lots and lots of money at this church. Maddie started there in March 2007 and we have been happy with only minor problems. We really like the very small class sizes (one teacher/6-8 2 year olds). Brooke started attending in October (one teacher/two babies). Those ratios are so low, I've never been able to find anything close to that in my area. It's literally half of what the state law allows. They also, ironically, had very low tuition--about 25% less than the going rate. I would have paid 25% MORE than the normal rate for classes that small.

We got a letter from "C" daycare in mid December announcing they will be closing its doors on January 25, 2008 due to financial reasons. At no time did we ever made aware that the daycare was struggling to make ends meet (as a church, they are not-for-profit). Tuition never was increased (as we would have completely understood and gladly accepted). I was shocked, angry and sad. Many parents were in disbelief and denial. The teachers were also shocked and disgusted that the church would lay them all off over the holidays. Parents rallied and demanded a meeting with church officials. Many of us also called and begged them to reconsider. We were all ignored.

The very next day after we got the letter, Zak and I began calling and visiting other day care centers. We already knew how limited our options were from previous research, and we assumed that every other parent from "C" would be scrambling just like we were.

Upon the recommendation of another friend, we called replacement option #1...they had a wait list that was over a year long. Replacement option #2...they had space for Maddie, but not Brooke. Replacement option #3....they had space for Brooke, but not Maddie.

We found a place, let's call it "L" that is brand new about five miles from our home. However, it is a looong traffic filled five miles that may add an additional 30 minutes to our daily commute. We discovered that many other parents (and teachers) from "C" had heard about "L" and enrolled their kids. We really liked how clean, updated, new and bright everything was. They are drastically understaffed, and we worry that they will just hire anyone to make the required state law ratios. I believe they will eventually fill their classes to the maximum allowed by the state. I visited with the Director, and she promised me this would not happen.

In the three year old room, that will be 24 kids to one teacher. In Brooke's 12-18 month room, that will be eight babies to one teacher. I met the teacher who would be in Brooke's room, and she was a nice Hawaiian grandmother who has 5 kids of her own and worked in day care centers for her entire life. She was shocked at the high student to teacher ratio in Texas compared to what she knew of in California and Hawaii. She told me "it will be difficult" to have that many babies for one teacher. Honestly, I am not very concerned about Maddie as I think she's ready for the classroom type setting where there is a large number of kids and just one teacher, and many of her current classmates will be going to "L." But it's Brooke who will break my heart. She's just a baby who needs to be held, rocked and cuddled more than one teacher could possibly do with eight other babies who need the same attention. At this time, there is just two other kids under the age of 15 months, so it's not a problem now, but it may be later.

The other place that has openings for both Girls is called "T." It is also a church daycare that is located in a convenient place. "T" has smaller classrooms than "C" and is older more dated looking and feeling. They have had some inconsistency with their teaching staff, and are well established. I worry about the fact that there is not a secure entrance (anyone can come and go). ALL places I've ever been have a locked door that you must open via a pass code or be buzzed in. And...this may sound silly, but they have small pebbles in their playground instead of mulch. Kids put pebbles in their mouths (and noses!), and this facility had been cited before for that happening to a kid before by the state.

Zak and I discussed the other two obvious options: a nanny or an at home daycare. Both of which won't work for us due to the nature of my job (I can't work from home with the Girls and a nanny in the house) and the fact that there are ZERO licenced at home day cares withing 10 miles of us.

Tomorrow is the last day at "C." We wanted out a week early because there is hardly anyone left and the teachers are not consistent. Maddie keeps telling us about a teacher or kid "going to another school" when we ask her about her friends. She knows she will also be changing schools, and seems excited about it. We'll see how it goes on Monday. We were going to go to "T" last week, but now we are 90% set on "L."

Oh, decisions....decisions. Tippi, do you want to move to Texas?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Snot, snot and more snot

We've got snot around here, and lots of it. I've been suffering with "allergies" for several weeks. I put "allergies" in quotes because I don't know what the hell is going on in my sinus cavity these days. San Antonio just makes me snotty, I guess.

Now my ears are all stuffy and swallowing makes me feel like I've got razor blades in my saliva. I guess my "allergies" is really a cold. Damn it.

Brooke too. She's had a runny nose since birth. Sometimes she'll smear it all around her face, and when I get her out of bed in the morning, she's has buggers in her eyebrows. Of course there is no medication you can give a baby since they were all recalled due to stupid parents ODing their infants. Now the rest of us have to be punished with snotty and stuffy babies. As soon as Brooke sees me coming at her with a tissue, she puts her dukes up and shakes her head back and forth. This only results smeared snot from ear to ear, forehead to chin. If you let it dry, it's actually easier to pick off.

Ahhh, the joys of parenthood. Welcome to my world. Aren't you glad you logged on today?