Thursday, December 31, 2009
I suppose now would be a good time to rewind to Monday, when we spent the morning touring daycares. We had limited our touring to three, knowing that one in the area was too expensive and another has a waiting list a mile long. One of the three was one we had visited previously, another didn't accept infants so it wasn't an option last time, and the other was one that for some reason we never looked at the first time around. There was also a new one that was supposed to be opening on Monday, the first day post-closing, but we found out prior to taking a tour on Tuesday that their license hadn't been approved yet. While I would have been interested to look at it, just in case, it really wasn't an option based solely on timing. Too bad, since some of his former classmates and teachers may eventually end up there. So....the first one we went to on Monday was the one that didn't take infants. While the director was nice, we just weren't digging it. No major red flags, but it just didn't wow us. The next one was the one we had been to before. I felt about the same about it as I did the first time, though I liked the room Jacob would be moving into much better than the infant rooms. The people were nice and it would have been a little cheaper than option #3. And really, I think things would have been fine had we chosen that place. But option #3, the one we didn't know about last time, was the winner. It's located right around the corner from our house (ironic that we're trying to move--more on that later--but it's still relatively convenient no matter where we go in Greece), adjacent to (but not affiliated with) a Methodist church. The price is about the same as what we're paying now, and Jacob loved the toys in his new room. We didn't get to meet his teacher (a little scary, I know, but this was a tough week to do tours everywhere), but we do know someone whose kids have gone there for years. We haven't talked to them directly about it, but they're actually on the reference list and their longevity alone makes me think that they're probably pretty happy with it. All meals and snacks are provided, and when Jacob's older they'll even take field trips to Strong Museum and other places around town. That's pretty cool.
The transition itself should be interesting. Jacob's at an odd age, because everything is going to change at once. Not only is he going to be at a new center with new teachers and friends, but he's also transitioning into toddler life from infanthood. Toddlers eat meals at a table in regular chairs and sleep on cots, mats or mattresses on the floor, rather than in cribs. I can't imagine how they're ever going to get him down when he's not barred in, since he's not a big nap fan unless he's already sufficiently (but not overly) tired. He always likes to get up and go, so keeping him in one place will be a challenge. They also go out and play in the snow, which will be a new experience for him. I need to make sure he's fully equipped before the weekend is over! It's going to be a whole new world of new foods, new people, new schedules and new experiences, and I'm sure in the long run it will be good. I'm hoping he's too distracted by exploring all of the new stuff to worry about me leaving him there, but I have a feeling that a meltdown will happen one of these days when he gets the idea that I'm going to leave him there everyday and he's not going to be seeing the friends and teachers he's been with for much of his life.
Well, after going in Tuesday and saying our goodbyes, I got a bit emotional on the drive home. It's so hard saying goodbye to people that you know care about your child. Realizing that they won't be there to love and protect him and that they'll no longer have the opportunity (or privilege!) to see him every day was a sobering reality. It was just so incredibly sad. And while Jacob won't know what happened until it's over, and even then won't be able to express his emotions about it (a slightly scary prospect in and of itself), it's sad to think about the special people he's about to lose.
Today we decided to go in and meet with our realtor to discuss putting in an offer on a house. We found one a couple weeks ago that we really liked, and my parents gave it the thumbs up when they had a chance to see it on Sunday. It's a really unique house, about the same age as ours now, about five minutes from where we live now. There are many things that we love (the layout, the size, all of the updates), a couple odd quirks (weird entrance points and an odd kitchen), and a couple things we're a little nervous about (a larger yard and a pool), but when we considered the updates we'd still need to do to our existing house, and how we'd like to have a bigger house in preparation for any family additions, it's a pretty good deal for the money. We put in a low offer (and obviously a contingent one) so it may not get us anywhere, but they've already had their offer accepted on their new house a few weeks ago, so hopefully they're motivated enough to consider it. We shall see.
In any event, we figured that the realtor's office was no place for Jacob so we dropped him off for a few hours, much to the delight of the staff. They were excited for a last chance to hang out with him, and it was nice to know he'd get one last hurrah there. It was pretty quiet considering many parents were off today, but when we returned about an hour before today's early closing time, it provided a unique opportunity for everyone. The two semi-connected infant rooms were wide open, and the kids and teachers moved freely between the two. Shortly after we arrived another parent came in, and we all just hung out, watching the kids play and chatting with the teachers. Over the next hour or so, a few more parents arrived. We had a really nice time meeting parents we had never met and comparing notes on the kids and our respective day care searches. Jacob's usually the last to arrive and the last to leave, so while I'm seeing everyone's kids in the morning when we get there, it's easy to forget that everyone else is seeing Jacob when they come in to pick up. Apparently he plays ball with other parents much like other kids will climb on me or dig in my bag when I get there in the morning. The teachers had near-permanent teary eyes all afternoon, but it was nice to know how much they care. Sure, they're losing their jobs, but they're also saying goodbye to kids that they've had nearly as much a hand in raising as us parents. All in all, we were there a couple hours. There were many goodbye attempts, usually thwarted by distracted kids running off to something else, and many last hugs and kisses and laughs. It was really sad for everyone. We'll still see one teacher at the Amerks games, but my goal is to keep up with the rest either via email or by sending them a link to this blog or my Facebook photo albums. I think they'd appreciate the updates periodically. You always like to see how your projects turn out, and when your "project" happens to be a rapidly developing little person, I can only imagine how curious you'd be to see the changes. Just today we were marveling at a couple old pictures of Jacob and another of his little friends that one of the teachers dug up, amazed at how tiny they were back then. Everything changes so quickly!
And yes, life does move on. I'm sure Jacob will adjust splendidly to his new daycare and will become as comfortable there as he was before. Of course, he had been going there since he was seven weeks old so we've got 16 months of history to overcome, but given some time, he will adjust. It seems everything's changing these days, and I'm sure 2010 will be no exception. It's hard to let go of the past, but it could be a big year for all of us so we just need to look ahead to great things to come. So, as usual, we'll just be holding on for the ride! Happy New Year, everyone!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I worked until Wednesday last week, and the evenings all week were quite stressful...lots of quick shopping trips, wrapping and last minute craft projects had to get finished up. We wanted to get on the road Wednesday night, but it became apparent that that wasn't going to happen. So, I just focused on getting my stuff done and preparing for an early departure in the morning on Christmas Eve. Even with getting most things done the night before, we still didn't get on the road until late morning. That left us with very little down time at Craig's parents' house before the festivities got going, but we managed. We went to Christmas Eve mass at Craig's parents' church at 4:30, and despite a couple escape attempts, Jacob was a very good boy. Afterward we headed to Craig's Aunt Marie's for the big family gathering. We ate well, received a few nice gifts, and eventually headed back to Craig's brother's house to exchange gifts with the immediate family. Jacob got some very nice things--clothes, a Little People parking ramp, an Elmo cell phone, and 150 plastic ball-pit balls. He also got a little pop-up Star Wars tent-thing that was supposed to serve as the ball pit, but it doesn't have a bottom so I inflated his kiddie pool for that instead. But this morning he did have fun crawling into the tent and looking out all of its windows!
Here he is with his Elmo phone...
We had a very nice time and have been enjoying our time back at home this week as well. Nice to know we still have more time to go! Still, there's lots of cleaning and organizing to do to get the house back in showing shape. We still have to finalize some daycare stuff as well, so it's a good thing we had this week to get it all done. I'll hopefully post an update on that soon. If I don't get to it tomorrow, have a very happy new year!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I've long bemoaned the fact that we haven't been able to spend Christmas in our own house in front of our own tree, and won't in the visible future. Family is a priority for us this time of year, so as long as we live here, we will have to travel to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our families. And while that's fine, it still leaves me sad that we may never see our kids bounding into our living room on Christmas morning in their pj's to see what Santa brought them. That's not to say they won't do it elsewhere (though I still haven't figured out the logistics of that--do we bring the gifts with us (ugh) or do we just set the precedent that Santa came to our house and we'll see the gifts tomorrow?), but it still wouldn't be our house and our tree. I have fond memories of Christmas mornings at home, waking up too early and killing time in bed, being held at the top of the stairs for a picture (talk about torture), and then being released to see what was under the tree. We'd open gifts, have a great breakfast (usually cinnamon buns or something similarly sweet and delicious), and then head off to church before starting a full day of family gatherings. Even in the weeks before Christmas I enjoyed the build-up, from Christmas programs at church to Christmas crafts at school, caroling with the youth group, and wrapping my little batch of gifts at my mom's wrapping station in the basement. No doubt Jacob and any future sibling(s) will have some version of most of these, but sometimes I wonder. If we end up sending him to public school, will they be too politically correct to even be able to do a Christmas craft? My memories of Christmas Eve always include the Sunday School Christmas program, though our church does their kids' program a couple weeks before (which is good since we wouldn't be around on Christmas Eve anyway). So, like I said, Jacob's Christmas experience may be vastly different than mine.
A couple weeks ago when we were discussing Christmas Eve plans with Craig's family, it came up that the extended family's Christmas Eve gathering isn't what it used to be. It's hard for me to know since I've only been going there for about seven years, but I could say the same about my family's Christmas Day celebrations. Things have certainly changed, and most of us would probably say that it's not for the better, for one reason or another. But as I thought about it further, I realized that things almost have to change. The settings, the people, the gift-giving....certainly our parents went through the same types of changes from the time they were kids to when they had kids of their own. And even though it may not be the Christmas they remember, they seem to have adjusted just fine. And we will too. I just hope the central focus of family stays intact.
It should be interesting to see how Jacob does this Christmas. While he wasn't too adept at unwrapping last year, he still managed to enjoy Christmas a lot. And this year he should be better. However, last night we did a trial run with a gift from his teachers at daycare, and he wasn't into it at all! I'm sure when he sees his cousins getting excited and is faced with a big, shiny present he'll figure it out. Or he'll be exhausted from all of the excitement and just melt into a pool of tears, but that's the story of our lives right now anyway. When Jacob's happy, he's such an awesome little boy...but he definitely has his moments these days where one little thing can set him off. Despite those moments he's been keeping us laughing with his humorously-timed "Yeah"s and his generally playful nature. His love of sports is coming through more than ever. He's almost constantly walking around with something that resembles a baseball bat or a hockey stick, or if he's not, he's pretending to swing a baseball bat or is showing off his great arm. He says "hockey" and "Amerks" a lot, and enjoys clapping along when I start a "Let's go Amerks!" chant. It's so cute!
I'm definitely looking forward to the rush of the Christmas season being over so I can just hang out with Jacob, guilt free. Lately I feel like I've either been ignoring him while I'm trying to get all of the Christmas preparations done, or I'm dragging him off to some errand that needs to get done. He's been a trooper but I feel like it really hasn't been fair to him. He'll get rewarded with most of a full week and a half with Craig and me, which should be fun. He'll have one daycare day in the midst of all that, hopefully for a nice date day for Craig and me. Jacob's teachers were crushed to hear he wouldn't be around much next week, since it is the last week ever there, so they're glad to have just that one day. It's been a weird week around there, as you may imagine. There's been a lot of sadness, or at least, a sad resignation that the teachers won't be seeing the kids anymore. When you spend the day with growing, learning kids on a daily basis, I imagine it's got to be like a part of you dying to not be able to watch their development anymore. We did give Jacob's four main teachers a pretty nice Christmas gift as a thank you for everything. It's a tough time to be out of work, so hopefully they'll have a nice (relatively cheap) dinner on us. And the teachers he doesn't have anymore got some of the cinnamon ornaments I whipped up the other night. Just a little something, I guess.
Well, it's been a busy week so far and it will only get crazier, at least for the next couple days. I'm definitely looking forward to it, though...if only I could relax! If I don't get around to blogging in the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
They're closing for financial reasons. That amazes me considering how much we pay, but I do know that enrollment has dropped since we were first there. When Jacob started there, there were at least five kids in each of three infant rooms, plus at least three toddler rooms and the preschool room. There are only two infant rooms now, and two toddler rooms, plus the preschool room. Apparently enrollment was only enough to cover salaries, let alone rent and bills. They hadn't paid rent since September. They'll be auctioning off all of the equipment and supplies to try to pay everything back. It's sad, because the owner is a succesful author and lecturer when it comes to her educational philosophy (it's very play-centered), and I'm sure it kills her to see the living, breathing version of that philosophy end up a financial mess. It's horrible. Ironically, a friend of ours just called me this week and told me that his 7-month-old daughter was starting her new daycare this week, after theirs closed for financial reasons. Guess it's just another sign of the rough economy...less parents working = less need for daycare...or at least, less ability to afford one.
Obviously the thought of finding a new daycare in the next couple weeks is scary. You need to find one that has openings, is affordable, has an atmosphere we're comfortable with, and is convenient. That is no small challenge. At this point (not having been able to make a single call yet), I think we'll probably end up at one that was our second choice the first time around. When I called around a couple weeks ago to see if other daycares were cheaper now that Jacob was approaching 18 months (some change price at that point, ours did not), that place seemed eager to get us in, so I'd assume they have an opening. They're slightly cheaper than ours now, and they provide all meals and snacks, which ours does not. It's right around the corner from us as well, though not quite as convenient as our current one. We did think that one was a bit chaotic when we first looked at it, but knowing what we know now and having some idea of what we'd like for Jacob, we may have a different opinion now. We'll definitely have to call around and see what's out there, and hopefully get some touring in during the week we both have off from work. Thank goodness even more for that time off now!! I am not looking forward to doing the touring again, because it's agonizing. As you may recall from our first go-around, it was so hard to balance financial needs with Jacob's needs, and to know that the place was going to be good for him. And now that we're used to one thing, we'll have the challenge of trying to figure out if changes to that routine will actually be for the better. For all we know, the change might be great for Jacob. The play-centered curriculum was definitely fun and allowed for a lot of creativity, but there are times that I wonder if more formal teaching or direction would be good, too. For example, his current daycare doesn't do set art projects. No construction paper pumpkins or Christmas trees, for example. They did a lot of free form finger painting with other things besides paint (pudding, for example). And while that's fine for babies, I think it helps sometimes to have real instructions for kids to follow. Might it stifle their creativity? Maybe a little...but there are ways around that, too. I don't know. If nothing else, not having to make meals for Jacob will be a nice time and money saver. Yep, I just keep looking for the bright side.
Of course, there is a very real downside. Jacob has been going there since he was seven weeks old. He's been with many of the same kids for a good portion of that time. He's dealt with many of the same teachers for months, if not over a year. There is a lot of staff rotation there, and he's come to know many different faces there. And they know him. As much as I wanted to feel sorry for us after I read the letter ("There goes Christmas vacation..."), I couldn't help but feel incredibly more sorry for the staff. They're all very friendly and we've gotten to know them well over the past 16 months. All of the teachers have been great to Jacob, even the ones he hasn't actually had yet. One has been with him for most of his time there, save for maybe a month or two here and there...and even then she was always nearby. Right now he's got four teachers that he deals with on a daily basis. The one he has at the end of the day has a baby that's almost six months old, and Jacob enjoys her baby, too. I will so miss seeing that sweet little girl at the end of the day, particularly because Jacob is so cute with her.
As much as I never wanted to send my baby to daycare, I've come to appreciate the fact that it's provided Jacob an even wider group of people that love him. And I feel so sad that that group is about to go away. All of the faces that he's become so familiar with, the surroundings he's spent so much time in, everything's about to change. And while I feel bad for Jacob, I know he will adjust. But I also feel bad for the teachers. Sure, they're losing their paycheck. But they also have become invested in these kids and celebrate with us parents each time they do something great. And now that window into the kids' lives will be closing, and that's got to be a huge adjustment for those teachers as well. I hope to keep in touch with them and send them pictures and updates. Or maybe I'll just direct them to this blog. I think they'd care enough to check in from time to time. It's just heartbreaking to think about.
Adding to the bizarreness of it all is that all of this is happening amongst the holidays. See, Jacob will be there three days this week, and then in theory he'd be home with us right through January 4th. However, I had been planning on sending him in at least once during the break so Craig and I could have a date day and do something we wouldn't be able to do with Jacob...like go to the movies or have a marathon shopping day or whatever. I figured Jacob would still have the majority of the week and a half with us, and he'd probably like to see his friends and play. And now...I think we'll still do that day, but now that will be the good-bye day, I think. How sad and strange that his life as he knows it will be changing after Wednesday. The routine we've worked so hard to establish will be done. It will feel so strange to take home all of his stuff, to know that the toys he's played with, the crib he's slept in, the people he's spent so much time with, will all be gone. And the poor kid won't even know what hit him until it's all over and he's starting something new. Wow. Oh, and one more thing--we may have to go through this all over again in a few months assuming this house hunting thing works out . If our new home ends up in a vastly different area than ours is now, this new daycare may not be in a convenient spot. I don't even want to think about it. So...yeah, it's been an odd couple days. I don't even want to think about going in there tomorrow, because there are teachers I haven't seen since the announcement. Ugh.
On the bright side, Jacob is officially 18 months today. Wow. What a little man he's become, and such an amazing joy in our lives. We are blessed!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As I mentioned a week or two ago, friends of ours gave us their Elmo Live! because Jacob is obsessed with it. Or at least, he loved the ones he saw in stores and blew kisses just like Elmo the second he heard the sample saying that Elmo said. The moment he heard "Elmo loves you. Mmm-hmm, kiss kiss!" and Elmo started blowing kisses, so did Jacob. We were tempted to spend the big bucks and buy it for him for Christmas, but then our friends didn't want it and knew their son wouldn't miss it. So, Elmo now lives with us. Jacob still blows kisses. He also picks up Elmo and carries him around, which is no small feat because Elmo isn't light. All that technology gets heavy! He also hugs him sometimes, which is absolutely adorable.
Anyway, the other day when I was trying to get the perfect Christmas card shot, I caught this video of Jacob and Elmo. It's dark because of the mood lighting I was playing around with, but you get the idea...
Seriously, how cute is that? As annoying as Elmo can be, I can't help but smile every time that happens. That's probably more due to the one on the left of the screen, but whatever :)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I've been trying to no avail to get a good picture of Jacob for our Christmas card. I think I may have to use a fall one, which would be a great one, but seems a little un-Christmas-y. I know a lot of people use the best picture they have from the course of the year, but with how much Jacob grows and changes nowadays, I wonder if the picture will end up too outdated to reflect who he is now. On the bright side, the photo shoot this weekend was good motivation to post more pictures, including some of the rejects. It's been a while. So, here goes...
Jacob likes Craig's hat collection. He will gladly walk around with a hat that's far too big, even if it covers his eyes. And now he can actually say "Amerks", so the hat he's wearing in this picture is extra appropriate...
Jacob has some rather disturbing habits that scare me a little for the future. One of them is putting everything around his neck. Another is the desire to shut himself inside things. I keep hoping he'll outgrow it before he puts himself in danger, but so far no luck. Still, it is cute when he thinks he can fit somewhere he can't. Here he's saying bye-bye as he tries to close himself inside our desk.
On Sunday I was doing everything in my power to keep Jacob in his cute church outfit to try to get a good Christmas card picture. I didn't succeed with that, but I did get this awesome shot of the boys...this one is definitely a keeper!
And now onto the Christmas card rejects. I was playing around with the modes on my camera and had the lights low to maximize the effect of the Christmas lights I was trying to get Jacob to play with. So, these ended up sort of artistically weird, but I do like the lighting.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
So, in the midst of all of this, I suppose Jacob as the center of my universe has had a little competition...hence the lack of posting lately. Not that he's been dethroned by any means, but I guess I just haven't been as intentional about pulling out the camera or pondering every little detail about him. We also haven't had any particularly fun or exciting outings lately. However, we have still been enjoying him immensely these days. He says a new word periodically (yesterday it was "Elmo"--more on that later) and is quite playful nowadays. He's walking around like a champ now, but now that he's got the basics down, he's trying to up his speed a bit and that's causing some extra falls once again. He's definitely got a stubborn streak, particularly now that he can get where he wants when he wants. He frequently pulls the "jello" trick when I'm holding his hand and trying to pull him somewhere...he just goes limp and falls to the ground. That's not to be confused with the "stiff as a board" trick where he completely stiffens up when I'm trying to get him to do something, making him infinitely harder to move. But most of the time he's your typical little boy, full of energy and curiosity. Even in the midst of another cold (the dreaded cough is back...hopefully not for long, but we'll see), he's been pretty happy.
I mentioned here before that getting our house ready to sell in the midst of the holidays was a challenge. I love Christmas decorations, and having to edit them this year was hard. There were so many things that I wanted to put out but just didn't have a place for. I was trying to keep things basic, generic, and neat, and something as fun as our full setup of A Charlie Brown Christmas in plastic figurines just didn't quite fall within those parameters. There were many things that Jacob would probably enjoy, and it killed me to have to put them away until next year. Of course, there were a number of things that were probably too fragile to have out this year since Jacob wants to touch everything. I made sure to keep breakable ornaments higher up on the tree and we're definitely walking a fine line between "gentle" and "no touch" when it comes to the tree itself. I'd like him to be able to touch it and get it out of his system, but he can be unpredictable so there's always the risk he'll pull just a little too hard on something. We're playing it by ear for now. I did keep out a stuffed version of Snoopy's decorated doghouse that plays music, and Jacob absolutely loves it. Now that he knows how to turn it on, he plays it over and over. He's also partial to a plastic ball ornament (anything round!) and an old McDonald's ornament from when they used to do them for a Disney movie each year. It's Dodger, a dog from the movie Oliver & Company. I figured he'd like it, and since it's stuffed, it's completely Jacob-proof. Consequently, it's probably been on the living room floor more than it's been on the tree. I have a whole collection of those ornaments stashed away somewhere. He'd probably love them!
As far as his newest word goes, it is indeed "Elmo". I've always said that I would do everything in my power to keep my child away from Elmo. Sesame Street has so many other cool characters and Elmo is, in my opinion, quite annoying and a giant marketing machine. However, kids seem to relate to him. Darn. Well, Jacob got into Elmo thanks to those lovely "Elmo Live" dolls in the stores. Two weekends ago we were watching the Bills game with some friends, and their kid's Elmo Live doll was laying in the living room. They told us to take it. Their kid hardly played with it and he'd never miss it, particularly with the upcoming influx of Christmas gifts. At first we thought they were kidding, but then they started bagging him up as we were leaving. Holy cow. It was super nice of them and it's at least a $50 savings for us, since we were pondering getting it for Jacob for Christmas, as much as it would have pained me. I don't think Jacob gets the humor of it yet, but it's pretty darn impressive to have a moving, talking Muppet hanging out in your living room. I think he's enjoying it. He picks him up and walks around with him a lot, which is interesting since Elmo isn't particularly light, and he also hugs him once in a while, which is adorable. Elmo Live did teach Jacob how to blow kisses, so I guess I can gladly welcome him into our home. One of these days I guess I'll have to get some video.
Well, I guess that's my update for now. Hopefully more soon!