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Since Casper is in public school and daycare is so much cheaper here than it was in Durham, I tend to forget we still pay a huge chunk of cash for child care. But, adding it all up (day care, after school and summer camp at the YMCA) it was still $9500 in 2009. $6000 of that qualified for the child care tax credit, and we are eligible for a credit of 20% of that (I think the % is based on income.)

I also paid $4500 in tuition last year that I won't be paying this year, since I am finished with schooling. (I can't imagine ever wanting or needing another degree, but I suppose one should never say never - maybe 10 years from now I will have a compelling reason to go to law school or something.) Unfortunately we got no tax credit for this since our income is too high.

I haven't filed yet - I need to get the YMCA's tax ID number and mr. flea needs to review things - but we should get a decent amount back again this year. Maybe enough to pay for the roof we need.
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The after-school care person for Casper gave a month's notice last night; she's been offered a similar job doing less for the same amount of money, so who can blame her? The other family we're sharing with is doing the bulk of the looking for a new person, but I'll have to call our contacts. I also kind of want to look at the YMCA and see if that's an option now (they do a van pick-up at some schools and take the kids downtown, and it turns out that three of Casper's classmates from day care who attend the other local Montessori magnet do the YMCA.) I don't think the other family likes the idea of the Y, though. Instead, she's talking to me about Casper sharing the other kid's flute lesson, and sewing classes at the children's museum in the next town.

Clearly, the neverending hassle of child needs during the work day does not end with the end of day care. It gets cheaper, but if anything it gets more complex. The school sent home a note on Monday letting us know about 4 days they are going to release the kids early (at 1:30) because they need time for teacher workdays. This in addition to the random days off that the kids have but that aren't actual holidays (so not days off of work) - there's at least one every month, plus spring break. And the summer. Camps are signing up NOW but we don't know if we'll be living here this summer.

I didn't get Casper into swimming lessons, due to inertia, so once again I have failed in my parently duty to get my kid involved in some activity. I'm already tired of this whole rigmarole, and it's barely begun.
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The System, that is. I spent most of an hour waiting to see a social worker this morning about a child care subsidy, and on being told it was going to be another hour anyway, and that mr. flea was missing a piece of paper anyway, we left. We were almost certainly going to be denied, anyway - I think my recent raise put us over the definition of low income (under $35K a year). I'll just hope that work doesn't ask for any further proof of the status of our application. In the interim, I got to see a FANTASTIC receptionist who managed throngs of people, multiple phone calls, and assorted nonsense; a woman strike her two year old with a belt right there in the waiting room of a child services agency; and lots of people waiting and waiting and waiting. Probably most of them were poorer than us by a fair amount, and probably some of them were missing work to be there waiting for the appointments. It was both rage-inducing (largely rage at myself for even bothering to follow the rules and make an appointment and go and have all of our time wasted) and pretty depressing.

Then it was off to Casper's school (Casper still in tow - she had no school today) for teacher conference. Mrs. B is a little reticent and shy and mr. flea compensates by being extra-friendly and talkative, so I didn't feel like a learned as much as I wanted to. I was surprised to hear that one of Casper's big issues is dawdling. Okay, not surprised, because she's totally a dawdler at home too, but a little surprised because I was thinking of her as a mini-flea, when it seems clear that at school at least she's a mini-mr. flea (Mrs. B even said so!). She's goofy and silly and a bit on the beat of her own drum. Mrs. B marvelled at her fine motor control; while we were talking, Casper spontaneously started working on a project using a giant thumbtack to punch out the shape of South America. This works on the pincer grip (for writing, later) and Mrs. B said Casper was really good at it and many kindergardeners had trouble. I asked about her social activity and Mrs. B said she had people she was especially close to and she was trying to encourage broader friendships. She said that Casper's close relationship with Logan is indeed reciprocal (Casper spent hours this weekend making an art project for Logan) even though Logan is a boy and older. She seems to be fine; I think in some ways she seems a bit young, but then she IS a bit young for all this formal schooling. She's certainly doing fine in terms of academic work, and is clearly learning stuff but I don't think is feeling pressured at all.

It was a weekend of some difficulty. The Dillo is still sleeping badly, although we moved the computer into the breakfast nook and set up the crib in his room and he is sleeping in the crib no worse than he was in the pack n play. Casper was fairly demanding; we are going to work hard at cutting back treats to the bare minimum as I think they are becoming a problem, both the sugar levels and the desire for a treat meaning lots of whining. mr. flea moped about the job sitch a bit but hauled himself out of the abyss I think, and is having a conference call this afternoon to talk about the post-doc. Just tired, and hard work cleaning/decluttering the house, and feeling bleah.
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After 2 weeks, much stress, many emails, a couple of phone calls, and two meetings with strangers and their children in my house, I am not really much closer to having after school care lined up for Casper for the fall.

Here are the current options:

1. Trade care with family A. Very crunchy mom, so much that I got all self-conscious about tv-watching and toys that make noise. Shy 5 year old daughter. She could pick up and keep Casper 2, possibly 3 afternoons a week; in exchange we'd keep her daughter from 6-9 one night a week (so she can do work - she does home visits for public health). She can't do Friday afternoons. I think we really need more care, plus I think she's a little overscheduled - she was 15 minutes late to meet us. Trending no.

2. Share nanny with Family B. One of the Park Mommies, but I have fallen out of touch in the last 18 months. They have the nanny lined up and she is reputed to be a marvel (though we haven't yet met.) Would do care at our house or their (alternate weeks?) Nanny wants one Friday pm a month off. Nanny also wants $15 an hour, and 20 hours worth of work out of the deal. We could hack the price for the after-school care, even paying for 10 hours when we really only need about an hour a day, but can't justify having a 5-hour date night once a week at $15 an hour. Possibility of another family we know taking that extra 5 hours is out there. Other worries: other family's house is a little bit of a hike; weeks we were at our house I'd get home at 4:30 and have a nanny and extra kid in my house for an hour; social anxiety sharing a nanny with a family much wealthier than us (again.) I'm supposed to touch base with them today. Trending: tempted but worried.

3. Preschool down the street is offering after-school care 2:30-5:30 for $100 a week. They supposedly are planning to pick up the kids, but it's unclear how this will work, legally or practically (i.e., in rain? In sun they can walk - it's 4 blocks.) Location good, haven't seen to school, but it's Montessori and promising 'enrichment' like yoga, karate. Trending: is this really going to happen? (The school just opened last year and this is a new program.)

4. Work something out with Family C (tech industry mom, son who got wacky with Casper) - possibly hire a student and share. Their schedule is different from ours, though - she works until 5 (in RTP) Tu, W, Th but not at all Mo, F. Trending: too vague right now, even though we met.

I am tempted to just go it alone - try to hire a student for $10 an hour an hour a day in our house. This would be cheapest and most convenient - but what if we can't find someone?

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Yesterday: came home from work at 9:30, worked solidly for 1.5 hours while sick Casper watched Sesame, then did art projects and watched children (Dillo nanny left at 1) until 2:30, zombied for a little, ran to grocery, dinner, bed etc. Casper seemed much better in the evening.

Today: me at all-day training for work. Casper went to school okay but got wilty, and when mr. flea went to pick her up early she was running a fever again, so we can't send her tomorrow (she can't go in until no fever for 24 hours, and they know she had a fever at 2pm today.)

Tomorrow: in theory: I go to work at 7:30. mr. flea drops Dillo at the neighbor's (his nanny needing the day off), drops Casper at my work at 9:00, Casper watches a movie or two while I work, Casper and I go home and pick up Dillo by noon. mr. flea will be in Raleigh.

Okay, typing that out it looks insane. We should just cancel the neighbor and I'll call in sick and watch the kids and fuck face time, I'm a goddamn secretary.

I just feel I've been scrambling to keep up at work and at home this week and failing at both. For example, I've been short on milk and needing extra and pumping a spare ounce here and there and just feeling inadequate to coping.

And next week my demanding mother is visiting.


The work training was right by the day care, so I went and visited Casper at lunch and pumped in their space rather than ask to use an empty conference room at the training building, and also spent 15 minutes sitting in the infant classroom in which the Dillo is starting in 2 weeks. (Next week "visits," week after, transitional half days, 3rd week full time if that's what we want.) It was quiet, calm, a couple of kids sleeping, a series of diaper changes on the big ones, a few of the smaller ones up and down from sleep. No crying, only 1 or 2 even fussed. Only 1 kid with a booger on the nose. Still made me sad, as several of the (awake) kids went the whole 15 minutes with only minimal attention from the caregivers. Of course, I regularly let the Dillo sit in his bouncy chair while I am on the internet and basically ignore him for 15 minutes, but I guess I fell it's different when I'm ignoring my own kid, eh? Still have no info on the subsidy situation, but basically even if we paid full price for both of them it's cheaper than any other care situation possible right now. Still feeling incredibly guilty, which I never felt when we had a nanny for Casper. That had many hassles (schedules, other people), and was incredibly expensive even shared, but I never felt guilty about the quality of care (love and attention) Casper was getting.
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Just got a call from the day care center. They have an infant position opening Dec. 18, and we are first on the list. After that, there are no openings forseen unless someone leaves the center (i.e. there are no older infants expected to age up to toddlers.) So I guess this is our slot; we'd said we wanted Jan. 1 as a start date.

The Dillo will be 5 months and 1 week old at that point. He might be sitting up on his own; he'll certainly be rolling well and probably grabbing stuff and shoving it in his mouth. He is such a good and easy baby to care for that I don't expect he'll have any trouble adjusting. Because of the Xmas holidays there will probably be fewer children than usual in the classrooms, so he'll get a lot of attention as we start. I can pick him up at 1:30 if I want to for the first 2 weeks, as my work from home agreement goes until the end of the year.

Why am I still worried and stressed out?

12 weeks

Oct. 3rd, 2006 05:40 pm
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New nanny Valerie really likes Dillo. He's a charmer for her, and no trouble: eats, sleeps, coos. The other baby has had a big adjustment, but day 2 was better than day 1, so that's good.

12 week picture:http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/260111262/

Casper's art: http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/260111255/

Art we saw in town recently: http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/260111257
By this artist: http://www.rousseprojectdurham.com/


Oct. 2nd, 2006 04:29 am
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I've been up since 3.

Dillo's sleeping 3-4 hour stretches now instead of a nice big 6-hour; sigh. I wouldn't mind so much if Casper hadn't woken up crying the last several nights right smack in the middle of Dillo's sleeping stretch.

mr. flea noted that Dillo's head is sort of flat on one side (from lying on it), so we're trying to prop him to sleep on the other side. Can't have a kid with a flat head.

Valerie, the new nanny, starts this morning. She'll be here 9-1 weekdays, with baby Evan (5 months; female) as well as the Dillo 3 of those days. I will be at work 6 hours and working from home 2 hours a day from now through the end of the year. Not wildly excited about it; work is already fairly dull again.

We spent the weekend making the house sort of presentable, now that there will be non-family people spending time in it evey day. Did some yard work. Walked over to campus and caught the last of the Pride Parade; lots of dogs and kids and pink-haired drag queens, a 3-year-old safe event as long as we didn't browse the booths too carefully.

Must try to sleep more.

11 weeks

Sep. 26th, 2006 02:38 pm
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Here's the boyo just now: http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/253467085/

We met with the prospective nanny this noon, and we all liked her and I think she will work out. The scheduling is a little difficult, since she can only work until 1pm, but I think we can make it work. (I am writing this very sensibly - but inside I am incredibly stressed out, about this and the fact that it's already nearly 3pm and I haven't done any work yet, urgh. If I had ice cream I would be devuring it.) Think good thoughts - if it works out, we will have a weekly child care bill of only $152 for the Dillo. Nope, still stressy. Is it too early for a glass of wine?

Dillo hasn't changed much. I'd have hoped he'd have gotten over the evening crankiness, but it's still an issue more days than not. We manage; he calms easier than Casper did. He's getting hard to swaddle at night, because hes so big and strong, but it still helps him sleep better, so we still try. He seems to have been unusually hungry the last couple of days, but he can hardly be having a growth spurt! (Well, I suppose he can; 3 months is a classic growth spurt time and we are coming up on that date.) He's a good boy. I wish I had more energy to be engaged with him as much as he would like.

It is also day one for baby Matilda, daughter of JZ and Hec. Congratulations parents, especially hardworking mama, and welcome to the world, Septembereenie!


Sep. 18th, 2006 08:11 pm
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But is Casper? No. She is putting coins in her piggy bank.

In other assorted news:
Dillo is 10 weeks tomorrow
He wears size 2 diapers and has for a couple of weeks
He fits size 3-6 month clothes fine, but most of the 0-3 onesies are still okay
He slept from 9pm to 3am last night - SIX HOURS!!
I talked on the phone to 3 potential child care folks today, and wish I could combine features of each to make one ideal person
A woman with whom we may share a child care person came over today, and that was good
mr. flea and I both walked to pick up Casper at school with the stroller, and I got sweaty
Now I am tired
My mother sent me wool ankle socks in the mail, which was nice, but ankle socks go in cotton - wool is for when you need warm feet!
Casper woke up at 7:30 this morning crying, "Someone ate all the beans!"
She loves to dance
Another recent exchange, speaking of beans: me: "Are you full of beans?" Casper: "No, I'm full of grapes!"
I am obsessed with catalogs.

This post brought to you by the feeling tired.

good day

Sep. 16th, 2006 04:41 pm
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It began in gronk, mostly leftover from Thursday night's bad sleep by the children. But then, with my encouragement and the help of diagrams on the internet, mr. flea took apart the washer and fixed it! It had just popped or wiggled off a hose in the inside. He decided that as his reward he wanted to go to a restaurant we'd never been to, called Honey's. It is basically a non-chain Denny's, with a hostess who looked like Charo and waitresses with strong accents who coo over the babies. Also, in terms of patrons, probably the most racially integrated restaurant I've eaten at in town. Food was only so-so, though.

A friend had dropped off a free, very used but fine condition double jogging stroller - YAY! So after some lassitude we decided to go for a walk, and instead of just doing the local loop we walked to Casper's day care, to see how practical it would be to walk her to and from school instead of driving. It's about a mile away i think, and used to take me about 25 minutes when I was picking up Casper after work. So mr. flea and I have devised a sort of competition, to encourage us both to do one walk a day - he'll do the AM and I'll do the PM, which should work fine in our current work schedules. This will get us energy and exercise and good stuff like that, and save the short trip of the car, go environment!

I've had one email from my child care ad, but it seems like a good possibility (woman who does breastfeeding education, has 4 school-age kids) even if the woman is not the world's most eloquent emailer. Need to call her this weekend. Also have been talking with a woman with a 4 month old who is interested in sharing 3 days a week on our schedule; we're working together to look for people. So it's a start, some leads. And we have neighbor E for the next 2 weeks.
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Ex-nanny's daughter called to say she is not interested in sitting for us at all.

I have received a number of emails from other people looking for child care, but only one from someone providing child care, and that only 9:30-12:30 two days a week, which would not even halfway meet our current needs.

(In better news, mr. flea talked to our nieghbor, a SAHM with a 9 month old, and she'll watch Dillo from 10-12 for the next two weeks, while mr, flea is two houses down for emergencies, so that will get us started and him more work time.)

Dillo was cranky pants all afternoon and wouldn't nap.

The reason I can't print at work is a problem with the move that Looniversity IT has to fix, and god knows when that will happen.

The washing machine got a blockage and began vomiting water all over the basement floor, and also depositing unknown blockage-related schmutz on the load. Which happened to include the fabric part of Dillo's car seat, without which he cannot go anywhere.

(In better news, mr. flea ran the load out to the laundrymat, and it is already drying as we speak.)

To sum up: day sucks. mr. flea rules.


Sep. 12th, 2006 04:01 pm
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We've just placed an ad looking for someone to watch The Dillo. Our hoped-for candidate, ex-nanny's daughter, looks like she won't work out. She's willing to do Wednesdays and Fridays, but isn't interesting in watching both Dillo and our neighbor's 10 month old the other days. So maybe we find someone for the other days, and maybe we find a whole new someone for all 5 days. I guess I should hit the list-servs, too.

Child care is definitely the most stressful part of parenting, at least as far as stress deriving from external causes and not one's own neuroses goes.

Last time we placed an ad we got the Most Amazing Student Ever - she was better at caring for Casper than we, her own parents, were, and more experienced too - but I feel like there's no way we'll be that lucky twice.
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Today whe I picked Casper up at day care, there was a helpful note in her box letting us know that tomorrow her class was having a valentine's party, and we were welcome to donate cookies or juice or whatever (but no peanuts; "we have an peanut allergy"). And included was a helpful list of her classmates' names, for the valentines which we will now have to go out and purchase tonight, along with some juice or something.

Number one, isn't two a little young to have a valentine exchange?
Number two, is there anyone who wasn't traumatized by school valentine exchanges as a kid out there? I went to schools where the class list was supplied and everyone gave one to everyone, and I was still traumatized (mostly by my classmates' complete inability to spell my name, even when it was written correctly on said list).
Number three, um, day care? A little notice for the working parents who have to run out and shop the day before valentine's day? What IS it with you people? Oh yeah, you're disorganized. Get a monthly planner, and use it.


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