Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day Care Day

It's been quite a day so far. Craig and I took off today to check out day care centers. It's a process we'd both been dreading, because there's nothing like looking at day cares to make you feel guilty about being a bad parent...and we're not even officially parents yet. As nice as it would be to have one of us be a stay at home parent, we just can't afford it. Our salaries are pretty close to even, so one of us not working would mean a 50% drop in our income. And at what we make, it's just not enough to live comfortably...even if we watch every penny. We're already pretty good about that sort of thing (we could always do better, I suppose), but no amount of scrimping and saving could make up a salary, let alone what we're going to be paying for day care.

We visited four places. The first place is pretty close to us and came recommended by two of my co-workers. The pricing was competitive and the place seemed really active. Lots of kids, a little chaotic, but probably very stimulating. The setup was a little odd (it's a converted little church building with a large addition off the back), but it wasn't too bad. The infant care people seemed nice. The place had a lot of pros, including a nice play area outside.

The second place we visited is also very convenient. They seemed to have the best record by far as far as the Office of Children & Family Services website was concerned, and I liked that the place seemed a little less chaotic than the first. It just seemed a little more put together, from the fact that the people who greeted us wore shirts with the center's logo, to the way that the kids' stuff was organized. Their pricing was also very competitive, and cheaper if you pay by the month.

The third place we visited isn't really an option for us, because they don't have availability right when we need it, but we figured we'd check it out anyway. We could probably get in there a couple weeks after I go back to work, but the place was the most expensive out of all of them. Nice place, though.

The fourth place we went to is owned by the father of Craig's assistant. Of the four, the place probably had the fewest bells and whistles and is the most out of the way for our normal commute, but it's also the cheapest, probably by over $1,000 a year. While we weren't blown away by the toddler rooms, the infant setup was good and the woman working there seemed really nice.

There's so much to consider, from which centers include food and diapers in their cost, to the feel of them, to the people working there, to what we've read about past violations (they all have them, and most have been corrected), to whether we'd be comfortable keeping our child there through all stages or would prefer one place now and another later (and how that would impact the child socially at that point--a lot of places were proud of the fact that some kids started together as six-week-olds and moved up the ranks together for years). It's absolutely mind-blowing. The cost is another issue altogether, but we can't really avoid that no matter what, and ultimately it should only be a minor consideration when it comes to the well-being of your child. We have a lot to think about.

The second half of the day was about taking care of our house, getting outside in the beautiful weather and cleaning up. Craig did the lawn, I weed-whacked, hacked up our bushes (the ones I mentioned in the before-and-after house pictures in most post a few days ago), and raked leaves out of the flower bed. It was a lot of work (especially while pregnant), but it felt good to get it done. And with the weather this nice, it would have been a shame not to get out and enjoy it. Tonight we have baby class, so we're just vegging out for a couple hours before that.

One more quick thing...Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the Knighthawks' championship. It was funny to look at the picture on my desk (see below) and know that it was taken exactly one year ago...and beyond that, to know how much our world has changed since then. Who'd have known a year ago where we'd be today? I mean, I suppose I knew then that my opportunity to do something like that probably was limited, that we'd be heading toward kids sometime soon...which is why I defied my usual cost-conscious mentality and booked a last-minute flight to Phoenix. One year later I'm probably even more convinced it was a good decision, because that weekend was really a great last hurrah...it felt very independent to hop a plane to Phoenix alone, and the celebration with some of my favorite people from the staff (and the team, of course) was awesome. While it would have been fun (and cheaper) if the Knighthawks could have played and won it in Rochester, the fact that we were in Phoenix made it that much more unique. We celebrated by the hotel pool in perfect 85 degree weather (dry heat is so great), in a fairly low-key, pleasantly tipsy state away from any crazy fan celebrations. I'd like to experience a championship like that someday, with all of the craziness, but the experience was one I will never forget, and I'm glad we got to do it together before moving into baby-land...but while it might as well be yesterday, it all seems pretty far away these days...

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