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At 12:15 Mrs. R called me to tell me that Dillo (who went to school in a pull-up today, part of mr. flea's way of dealing with the after school accidents) had pooped in his pants and it had gone up his back and on his naptime sheet, and he was going to need a bath so I needed to come get him.

mr. flea is in the field this week, so I hotfooted it the two miles to school and found Dillo sitting in the nurse's office by himself, still fully clothed, holding his sheet wrapped up in a plastic bag. He complained about how long it had taken me to get there. We walked home and I asked about what had happened. He was initially indignant that his teachers has not let him have a nap and had sent him to the office instead (he didn't complain about the poopy pants; they smelled him and investigated). He told me he needed to go to the bathroom at lunch but there was no teacher to ask (my guess is this is untrue; the paraprofessionals stay with the kids at lunch) and so he pooped in his pants at naptime. We talked about how school "takes too long" and he doesn't have anyone to play with (since Jimmy, who was a behavior problem, left.) I asked about Eli whom he has talked about and he said Eli is always in time out all day. I asked about other friendly-looking kids but he says they are not his friends.

Just this morning we discussed getting him some new sneakers as a treat this weekend if he stayed dry the rest of the week. So that's out. He doesn't seem embarrassed or upset. I don't know what to do. I am thinking of trying to spend the morning with his class tomorrow, so I can see what's up (I haven't been able to do that yet) and then having a meeting with Mrs. R, the after school director, and us, to try to figure out what to do. I am honestly tempted to inquire if they can take him back at his old day care, where he had accidents, but at least he wasn't a sassy pain in the ass all the time.
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Dillo has had an ongoing issue with another kid in his class named Adam. Adam is about Dillo's age - I think a few months older - but he is a tiny guy. So, in classic Napoleon complex style, he's really aggressive and physical, and Dillo is often the recipient of his aggression. He also has an older brother, who maybe models this kind of behavior. On Monday Dillo came home saying, "Adam hit me 5 times today," and mr. flea has gotten to the point that he's encouraging Dillo to fight back. Not physically, but we suggested that he yell really loud, "ADAM STOP HITTING ME" whenever Adam hits him, which would have the dual effect of reacting strongly without hitting back, and notifying the teachers. One of the big issues is Dillo's main teacher is off at Montessori training for 6 weeks, so they have a new person who needs to get a handle on all the issues. I'm so disappointed that the main teacher is gone, right at the end of Dillo's time - like we needed a transition 2 months before the big transition to public school.

Casper, for her part, is back to last summer's anxiety about clothes at the YMCA. Yesterday she had a "topsy-turvy day" - got roughed up playing basketball at dropoff, in line, and then during some outside game. One of the coaches had a talk with her and she was able to pull herself together and not let it ruin her day. She told us all about it and was proud of herself at pickup. But then this morning she got all small and said she didn't want to go to camp because kids were telling her she looked like a boy because of her (really cool and awesome) skull sneakers (which are in fact boys'). When pressed she said this kind of comment happened from different kids, not specifically boys or girls, at different times of day. So I spoke to a coach this morning about it, and Casper wore her purple Lands End shoes (which she HATED last summer, geez.)

mr. flea is taking both situations hard partly because he was teased as a kid (at school, for his name, to which Casper said, "That's not a weird name!?!", and in the neighborhood because he was the youngest). So it's hard for him not to project.

So, we're limping along this week. And I've been up at 5am or before every day (thanks to Dillo the incredibly early waking boy).
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Conversation last night in Dillo's bed:

Dillo: What's that Max over there? [looking at Maurice Sendak art on the wall]
Me: Oh, Max from the Wild Things? Do you know Max? [we own the book but have not read it to Dillo, as far as I can recall; in fact I am not sure where it is right now]
Dillo: Jenn read it [note: present tense] at school!
Me: Did you gnash your terrible teeth and stamp your terrible deet?
Dillo: Terrible eyes!

I love love love the communication and the spicy little person brains. I told mr. flea about this exchange on our way to work this morning, and Dillo added comments from the back seat like, "Max not scared of Wild Things!" and "Be still!"

molars

Oct. 14th, 2008 08:24 am
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I keep forgetting to mention, Dillo's 2 year molars are coming in. They don't seem to be hurting him, much - neither of my kids has been a painful teether at any phase - but he can definitely feel them and thinks they are weird. He puts his finger in his mouth to touch them a lot, and asks me to put my finger in and rub them.

In day care news, it occurred to me that even if the current day care moves to a new facility next July, they are planning to only have children up to age 3. And, of course, Dillo will be 3 next July. They would welcome him at Athens Montessori, but that is not a year round program. And I actually think McPhaul is not a year round program either; need to call them to be sure. Ten months of full-day care does not allow one to hold down a job, yo.

Aren't there any freakin' working two-career families in this town who aren't university professors with summers off? Honestly, I don't know any. And it would be nice to have someone to commiserate with.

good news

Oct. 10th, 2008 08:34 am
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There was a meeting at Dillo's day care last night about the future. I wasn't able to go, but mr. flea reports several positive things. Most important, the center is not going to close in December as previously announced; they will run out their existing contract, and close in July. This should allow enough time for the director and one of the parents, who is a real estate developer, to find a property and renovate it for the needs of the center.

mr. flea asked some good questions and got good answers. He was concerned about the financial viability of the center in a new incarnation, since currently it is subsidized heavily by the feds. They noted that because of the federal mandate that requires 50% federal employees, the center is actually not operating at full capacity (there aren't enough children of federal employees; mr. flea seems to be the only person of the 60 or so working at the EPA who has children under 5). If that mandate were removed, the center could serve more children at current staff and space levels, and there is certainly demand for high quality child care in the area. While prices would probably rise, they would be competitive with other local centers of similar quality (which would still make them 20%+ less than what we were used to in Durham). The director has also been running Athens Montessori for many years, and seems to be doing fine financially with very modest tuition rates for a private school, so it's not like he's a novice at this stuff.

I think it still makes sense to get on a couple of other wait lists just in case, especially McPhaul which is conveniently on the route to mr. flea's work and cheap to get on the list of. But I am MUCH relieved.

In not so good news, Casper apparently pooped in her pants at recess yesterday at school, and didn't tell anybody, and nobody noticed until I got to after school to pick her up, when I crouched down next to her and IMMEDIATELY noticed she was poopy. I can't figure out what's up with her on this topic; she doesn't seem to be ashamed about it, rather coming across kind of blank or apathetic. I'm not sure if that is good or not. I'm not sure what to do. It definitely happens when we have breaks in routine (if she doesn't poop at home between 5:30 and 7, the odds of an accident the next day are high) and also in the past has been linked to stress. Skid marks I could handle, but actual shit in the underpants at 5 is a little more than I want to be dealing with.
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http://www.athensparent.com/articles/featuregen/childcare.html

Child Care Resource and Referral Agency of Northeast Georgia at Athens at 2-1-1; 706-353-1313; or 800-924-5085.

UGA McPhaul Center - excellent, 1-3 year wait list. Only $20 to get on list - worth it as a long shot?

Waseca Montessori - good rep., but only school year (10 month)?? availability? location not great.

Champions for Children - wins award, big center, expanding to other locations. availability? has summer camp for rising first graders? location not good - far W outside loop.

Lots of places there's NO info on the web. Lots of places with web presence are church-affiliated and make much of their religious content.

Summer camps look really thin on the ground, too. There is a YMCA camp, with good hours and good prices, but they seem much more religious than in Durham.

Ugh. Meeting at current day care Thursday night to see what is up.

well, fuck.

Oct. 6th, 2008 05:39 pm
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Dillo's daycare is closing, due to EPA budget cuts. Not until December, and there is some hope that the existing staff will find a new place and simply move, but even if that best-case scenario were to happen it would mean a) change and b) almost certainly higher fees. I knew this was too good to be true.
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The big issue remains the children's sleep. We got Dillo to sleep yesterday afternoon by driving around in the car "exploring", and he made the transfer inside and slept for 4 hours. But then didn't get to bed until 9 and was up too many times in the night as usual, and up in the morning at 7. Casper didn't get to bed last night until 10 (was lying awake in her bed for at least the final hour) and slept in until 10am. She still looks awful (bags under the eyes and cough), and how we're going to be ready for a 7:45 start of school a week from today I have no idea. Dillo slept a little in the car late this afternoon (more "exploring") but woke up grumpy after 45 minutes and took a long time to regain his humanity. I've asked mr. flea to put him down tonight and there has been a lot of crying. I really need to get him nightweaned (first) and sleeping through (second) and he really doesn't want either. But my sanity is seriously going from the chronic exhaustion.

Dillo went on a visit to his new daycare this morning and it was a success. mr. flea was able to leave him for 45 minutes while he filled out paperwork and talked to the director. He hugged me tightly when he got home but was able to tell me about the visit (Jenny and Terry are the teachers; he played on the playground; he ate raisins for snack). He might be better cared for by them, at this point; at least they could probably get him to nap. I'm honestly considering sending him even before we need to. We're paying for all of August anyway and the structure would be better for him than the mess we have going on here. They even have home-cooked vegetarian meals, whereas here we eat hot dogs and tater tots.

We don't need to send Dillo to day care soon any more because mr. flea was unable to get his "I finished my dissertation" letter in time to be processed to start work on Monday, so now he can't start work until the 18th. I'm not happy about this; the whole reason we had the clusterfuck of dissertation defense + move two days apart was to make the August 4 start date. We could have had a much easier time of things if we'd known. It's like the fucking dissertation has to come around and bite me in the ass one last time. (The letter was delayed because mr. flea's revisions needed revisions, due to formatting issues, and the office that checks in dissertations was moving this week.) So, we had recriminations and defensiveness while we drove around "exploring" this afternoon. That was fun.

In good news, our social whirl continues; we've been invited to a party tomorrow night. It's at 7:30 pm and no kids, so if we make it it will probably be as a tag-team, since even if we could find a babysitter at this date I would hesitate to inflict our overtired and ill-behaved children on some innocent teenager, at bedtime. The family has a daughter Casper's age with the same name. The other good news is we found mr. flea's bicycle helmet (which was missing in NC) and the power cord to my computer, which somehow got packed in a box marked "Christmas lights."

oy

Jul. 11th, 2008 07:22 pm
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My mother has been on a negativity kick lately, at least when she's not talking about my brother, who is (as usual) the apple of her eye because he finally got a job, and has opted to spend more in rent on a 1 BR apartment in Brookline than our monthly mortgage including insurance and taxes on a 3 BR house. Aside from her gloom and doom about the stock market (she claims they are POOR now and she will have to go back to WORK to pay the mortgage on their vacation house, to which I have so far refrained from saying, "I HOPE you have to get a real job, it would be good for you"), her current main topic is her pity for poor Dillo, who will have to go to day care.

Now, until 2 weeks ago, Dillo had been in daycare continuously since he was 5 months old, and showing no ill effects. I think the new day care will be fine, although I suspect there will be a crying adjustment period.

This morning mr. flea got the earful, when she called to say Happy Birthday to Dillo (more on that later). She added a new tack - that upper middle class people don't put their children in daycare. Uh huh. And the fact that a huge percentage of the children in Dillo's ex-daycare have parents who are doctors or college professors, and most of the children at the new daycare have parents who are researchers holding PhDs, means what exactly?

I am so tired of my mother's affluenza.
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Casper's first day the the Y went well. They played outside; it was warm. mr. flea found that the coffee shop he'd intended to camp at near the Y was closed, but he ended up at Foster's and thinks it will make a good base. He's trying to save a trip. Foster's lacks wifi but 2 hours a day of imposed writing is a good thing, IMO.

It's Montessori Week at Casper's school, and today is Flower Arranging Day, which means I was in the frat boys' front yard stealing their daffs at 6:15. I feel a little bad about it - if we had anything in bloom I'd certainly use our own - but not only are the frat boys, I suspect, not avid gardeners, the particular daffs I stole were blooming between a large bush and the foundation, so not even really giving a show to the street. So really, I'm increasing the world's beauty by my theft. Now if only I can keep the cat from them.

mr. flea read the first chapter of Homer Price to Casper last night, which meant that as part of her bedtime procrastination routine she called, "I need to wash my hands! I fed a skunk today, and they are smelly!" While I helped her with the faucet, she earnestly explained about how Mrs. B had brough a skunk to school today. Ah, truth and the 4 year old mind...
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Technically, the Dillo is 19 months, of course.

Last night went like this:
-Regular bedtime routine with Daddy (start: 7:15)
-Loud freakout and extended crying
-I go in and nurse him, try to put him down, freakout, hold him until he goes to sleep in my arms, put him down. Chopin playing soothingly (to me, anyway). Time: 8:20 or so.
-Deal with Casper after school stuff (the YMCA is go, although mr. flea will be eating it wrt transportation, and I came away feeling like an insufficient parent, sigh.)
-Go to bed: 9:30 or so.
-Dillo wakes crying: 9:45. Give him 10 minutes. Still crying. mr. flea visits. 10 minutes. I visit, do not nurse him, but hold him. He falls asleep in my arms. He wakes up when I put him down. 10 minutes crying. mr. flea visits. Still crying during visit. mr. flea brings him to me in bed and I nurse him. mr. flea picks him up to take him back to bed and he freaks out. mr. flea is shocked and astonished that nursing no longer works to make him fall asleep. I tell him, yes, it stopped working about 4 days ago why do you think my life has been a living hell? 10 minutes crying. Maybe another 10 minutes. I think he fell asleep some time between 10:30 and 11, with mr. flea holding him in his room.
-Casper wakes crying: 2:45; she woke up and the light was off and the door closed in her room. I turn on the nightlight and snuggle with her. Fall asleep, mostly.
-Dillo wakes crying at about 3:50. I think I went and got him and nursed him and put him back in his bed, where he cried for a while (maybe 20 minutes). But things are pretty hazy. mr. flea went in at some point and changed his outfit and diaper since he was wet, and ultimately set him up with the Baby Einstein DVD on the laptop (Dillo in crib).
-I wake at 7 to sound of awake excited buy saying "cat!" It's like the horrible night never happened.

I knew a girl in high school who cut herself. This was before the days when this was a known phenomenon - I had never heard of it, and it was very strange to me. I was familiar with depression and pain - I'd seen a counselor starting at age 11 for depression (ask me about the shit sandwich some time) - but mine was more chronic and less acute, I guess. But lying in bed listening to a baby cry, I completely understand cutting. I pinch myself to try to make the pain less.

wah

Jan. 8th, 2008 11:26 am
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Dillo had his 18 month checkup today, and it was a festival of tears. He started crying the minute the nurse walked us back to the exam room, whimpered while I undressed him, screamed and flailed while he was weighed and measured, cried for a long time back in the room while we waited for Dr. Betty, cried at the stethoscope, cried at the otoscope. During almost all of this he was in my arms (except on the scale). There weren't any shots, but I suspect he remembered that there have been in the past.

He's still running 50%ile, 32 and 1/4 inches, 26 lb 3 oz. Healthy and fine. (Shorter and heavier than Casper was, which you can tell just by looking.)

Then we dropped him at daycare and he cried and cried there, too. Sophie was giving him a zillion hugs and he just clung to me and cried.

So now I'm back at work, not working, sad. mr. flea is also having a down day and that rubbed off on me.
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I gathered up the paperwork to do the last quarter of the year's reimbursement forms for the Child Care Reimbursement Account, and I think I'll get enough to mostly cover the huge Christmas/spring tuition for me credit card bill that's two weeks out on the horizon, which means I may not have to pay it out of savings.

Delayed gratification can work to one's advantage.

Oh! And, I just realized, we aren't doing the CCRA this year (because of a rule change about how our employer subsidy works with CCRAs, i.e. it doesn't) which means I'll get nearly $200 more a paycheck this year! Including tomorrow! Must manage to save it. (Cue hollow laugh.)
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First, it is my birthday, but I'm sort of over it already. I've got a lot going on today (must do all homework for the week, and pack, since we're driving to visit friends in VA right after work tomorrow). I accidentally opened my (very nice) present from my mother, though I asked mr. flea to wrap it since Casper thinks "birthday = opening presents." Not sure what/if he got me anything. Don't expect much else; I bought myself some Dansko Roxys in purple suede off ebay (finally! only $51 including shipping!) but they won't come for a while yet.

My current obsession is this: http://www.flickr.com/groups/theworkingcloset/pool/ A blog I read has people posting what they wear to work every day for the month of September. It's mostly mothers - working at work, working from home, working as a mother. Well, it's keeping me off the streets, anyway.

The new routine has begun, mostly: I am working 8-4:30. mr. flea does the morning domestic shift, getting Dillo to daycare at around 8:30 and Casper to school by 9. At 3:30, Beth picks up Casper and Emmett at school. Yesterday they went to the library. I leave work at 4:30, get Dillo and am usually home by about 5. I have been carrying him from the bus in my arms, but today I'm trying the big Kelty backpack. We switch to the double jogger and walk up to pick up Casper from Emmett's house - about 12 minutes. Then home. So, with all swiftness, it's about 5:30 by the time we are all home, and I'm all sweaty (at least when it's 95 degrees). So I'm going to have to work on pre-prepping meals, weekend cooking, that sort of thing, which we've done before. I got spoiled over the summer when mr. flea picked us all up at 4. This way he will get more work done, though.
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She is 39.25 pounds (75%), 42.5 inches (90-95%), and they do height/weight (= BMI) at her age now (slightly below 50%). She passed all the "four year old tests," which included hopping on one foot, balancing on one foot, imitating the doctor's drawings of a circle and a cross, drawing a person (her picture had 7 parts - they pass if they have 3!), accurately knowing colors, being able to say what noises a dog and cat make, telling the doctor who lives in her house. Had hearing and vision tests and passed, and went happily off with the nurse without either parent to do them! Got 4 shots and was completely stoic, which is so funny as the past couple of days she keeps having minor bonks and scrapes and weeping tragically over each of them.

Today is the first day of after-school care. mr. flea was planning to go to the school and help navigate the pick-up/hand-off to the caregiver, Beth. Apparently the pickup is kind of a zoo so far; I hope it settles out as people get used to the routine. I get to pick up Dillo, go home with him, then walk to get Casper.

Hope Dillo had a good day. He practiced walking hard on Monday and was so happy when we'd clap and squeal with excitement. I don't like to think of him stressed out in his new class.
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Thursday morning Dillo was in bed with us at 6 am or so, and we were all sort of struggling to wake up for the day and lying around. (Aside: he's been sleeping really well, several nights with only one wakeup at 12 or 1, and then sleeping through until 6 or 6:30! Go Team!) He was putting his mouth on my bare belly and managed to zerbert me, and I laughed and so he tried again, and every time he succeeded we both giggled like crazy. He is such a sweet darling boy.

The other thing he's done several times lately is stick his finger in his own belly button, sort of as a self-calming thing, when he's in bed. This hits my giggle spot too.

I hope today is a better day in the toddler room. Miss Apryl said he didn't cry after mr. flea left (mr. flea stayed for 20 minutes to try and get him adjusted) but he was sort of withdrawn and kept to himself. And then very happy to be back in his old room in the afternoon, where Ayden put a bucket on his head and laughed uproariously, and Myles (who is 10 months and a total butterball) actually made some effort at being mobile for a change.
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I left our formal letter of withdrawing Casper from the day care center with the director last night. We're still undecided whether her last day will be Friday the 24th, or whether we'll do one week with some days at the public school and some days at the day care. (The first week of public school is insane: 9-12 Mon, 9-12 Tue, nothing Weds and Thurs, 9-3:30 Fri. WTF? That's nice for working parents...) We haven't had teacher assignments for her new school yet, and won't until the last minute, I hear.

Meanwhile, we've also heard that Dillo will be transitioning up to a Toddler class starting on the 27th. I mentioned that he doesn't walk yet, and the scheduler said that "anything can happen in a month" (which is true, and he's certainly moving in the walky direction more and more) and recommended we put him in shoes (WTF? If wearing shoes taught kids to walk, lots of 2 months olds in tiny Nikes should be toddling about). Miss ChaCoby says they can't have him, and Miss Jackie pouted a lot - it's nice to know our Boo is so well loved.

So, as of Sept. 10 we will be paying $363 a month for Dillo and $70 a week for Casper for day care (after school for Casper). Gosh, that will be nice - under $700 a month for both!

also, sigh

May. 8th, 2007 02:12 pm
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I am helping out on a field trip for Casper's school next week. The woman who is organizing it, one of the parents, sent out the email asking for volunteers to the list for the class - which is both parents of every single kid. Note that this is a full-time, pricey day care, so in the vast majority of families both parents work full-time.

All of the (7) volunteers are mothers, except for the Looniversity VP of HR, who apparently is the grandfather of one of the kids in the class. (Which is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, as my parents' advocacy group sent him a letter that seems to have gone off like a bomb over there in the admin building...)

But, NO dads? I was going to make mr. flea volunteer, but he's flying to Tampa that day.

Sigh.

Oh, yay!

Apr. 26th, 2007 07:41 am
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mr. flea's last paycheck is in 3 weeks, so I wrote to the woman who manages the subsidy for the day care center, and they are upping our subsidy! We'll be paying $1150 for both of them for the summer (full price would be $2000). Subsidy gets recalculated for the fall, when Casper will be off to school, but since we basically only get subsidy for one kid (Casper just gets a 10% discount right now), we can hope to be paying maybe $300 a month for the Dillo in September!

There are some bad things about my employer, but the day care subsidy sure is a good one. (Once you wait the 2 years to get into the center.)

I am exhausted, have a crick in my neck, sore nipples (still, with the biting), and am incredibly stressed about this job application, so I really needed some good news.
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In Casper's new class at school, the teachers send home a daily summary of the class activities, a weekly lesson plan, and a weekly note specifically about Casper, all by email. I like this method a lot, and I always try to make a point to talk to Casper about a specific book I know they read that morning.

Today I got an email from a woman who was a teacher in Casper's old class, and has just moved to her new class. She commented on the fact that this new class has brought out a lot of new things in Casper - a greater degree of independence, more willingness to talk to the other students. We were just talking about this at home, how Casper seems more mature now and also how happy she is to be in this class. Part of it is her favorite friends, the twins, are in it, but I think it's mostly that the vibe is where she's ready to be - she was ready to move up from the younger class some time before there was an opening.

One thing about this day care that makes me astonished is the poor level of literacy of the vast majority of the teachers she (and Dillo) have had. All of them are high school graduates, and many of them have Associate's degrees (generally 2 year degrees in childhood development from a community college.) I am so used to communicating on the internet (at work, and in my social life) with highly literate, highly verbal people. We even tend to use grammar and punctuation, and many of us spellcheck obsessively!

I don't think it's bad for the kids that their providers are not Word People, but it does make it hard to feel like I'm clearly communicating with them. This, more than anything to do with race (most of them are not white) or class (most of them are not paid much less than me, although I am much better educated, so it depends how you define class) makes me feel different from them.

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