Friday, September 9, 2016

Baby Life

Well, it's certainly been different around here the past few months.  It's a little quieter, except the minutes that are very loud.  Life with infants is like that.  :) I have three adorable little girls right now and only two of them have picture permission from their families, so I don't have a ton of things to post.  When I was keeping bigger kids, it was always easy to come up with more anecdotes and funny things they said, and talk about crafts and curriculum.  With my littles, we snuggle.  We sing.  We stack up blocks.  It's pretty repetitive, and not as snapshot worthy every single day.  I'm loving it a whole lot.

I've got a new little girl scheduled to arrive in February and another of as yet undetermined gender around that time as well.  Maybe we'll break up this girl streak and maybe not!  Then we'll be settled in here til probably July or August 2017 before my biggest little flies the nest.  :) It feels weird but nice to have my crew locked down!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What's Going On- the Long Version (and nothing to worry about)

Okay, so... things around here have been under constant mindshift for me the last few months.  Some of you know pieces of what's going on, and some of you don't, but I thought I would just lay it all out.  I do better with honesty- I don't so much see the point of not keeping you informed.

I've been doing this job for 14 years.  It's been my favorite full-time job.  (I still have a strange love for retail, I know it's weird.  But I've never done that full-time.)  This gig was an enormous blessing when my kids were little and I could be home with them and pour everything into them and have built-in playdates every day.  The past year or so they've started to complain more and more loudly about how they feel like this job puts them last now.

I've built this business around the idea that I want to be SUPER reliable.  I put out a calendar in January for the entire year and I really work hard to have no extra closings.  I'm here when I don't feel 100% great.  I'm here when I'd really like to be at my kids' field trips.  I'm here all summer and all spring break when they are forced to sit in the living room and do nothing but too much electronics that give me mom guilt because their rooms are full of sleeping babies, I can't take them anywhere, and none of their friends want to come over into the baby chaos.  We don't take summer vacations because I felt guilty being closed a whole week and I was afraid that people would pull out their kids and not come back.  I worried so much about having a consistent business that I stopped putting my family first.  It started to make me feel trapped, and I started to forget all the things I love about this job.

In the fall we were completely full, and all of a sudden we dropped enrollment from 11 to 5.  It happens- I know there's an ebb and flow to this business.  It's always been one of the downsides.  People move, they find care closer to work or cheaper or offering a different program, or they age out... it's not a big deal.  But we weren't getting any new calls, and I was starting to panic about feeling the additional personal responsibility of Anna not making her bills.  Five kids wasn't enough for us to both make a living.  (And to be clear, she never asked me to freak out or said anything to make me feel like it was really my job to be her financial advisor.  But when it's at my house, I feel the pressure to make sure everyone is getting what they need, and I panicked big time.)

So I thought this might be a natural time to think about shutting it down, and about going back into teaching.  I thought about how great it would be to close the daycare at the end of this school year, take the summer off to hang with my kids, and then go back to school with them.  I told Anna that was the plan.  She started looking for another job.  I started going to interviews for office jobs too, in case I didn't get a teaching job.  And then she found a job super quick.  And I didn't.

She's really enjoying her new job and it gives her health care, which I love for her.  She seems like it was a really good move for her, so I don't regret the way that ended up, even though it's weird here without her.  Now that it's just me with five kids here though, I've been rethinking the entire situation.

I've decided I definitely don't want to teach.  It has been 15 years since I've been in a classroom.  They weren't even doing the STAAR the last time I taught.  It would be like being a first year teacher again, and if I'm getting out of this job to create more family time, I'd want a job I could do and love while I'm there and then LEAVE it there.  That's not teaching.  And all the interviews that I've gone on either don't make my heart sing, or don't offer enough money to make it worth closing down.  Doing this job does cost quite a bit.  I run the dishwasher at least twice a day and I feed a whole bunch of extra people and I run the AC.  But there are a lot of write-offs and I don't have to pay for afterschool care for my own kid.  The amount of money I'd need to leave here isn't what entry level jobs are offering.  Not to mention that I never wanted to leave this because I hate it.  I still love it.  The more I looked into other things, the more I realized everything I'd miss.

I really enjoyed working with Anna, and I am kind of weirded out by the way this turned out.  I feel like it looks like I told her I was leaving when I wasn't actually planning to, or that it was some kind of passive-aggressive way of firing her without having the guts to say so.  And that's totally not the case.  But since she's left, I've gone over my budget, and I've settled into a calmer, quieter day with half the amount of kids here, and I've decided that I'm not in the market to close down as soon as I thought I was.

Figuring out what I want and letting go of the guilt I had about different aspects of the situation has been pretty freeing.  I feel a renewed joy in this job and I'm enjoying switching little things around to suit the new smaller crew.

My first love is the teeny littles.  My goal is to graduate earlier and keep the tinies.  I'm working toward an 18 month graduation age.  By then they are BIG KIDS and are definitely ready to move on to something with more action.  I want to focus on cozy comfort and a little slower pace.

I'm still going to be reliable in terms of not having sudden closures.  That won't change.  However, I'm giving myself permission to take a couple more days off throughout the year.  I hope that all my families can understand that a full-time professional job of 14 years deserves a couple more paid days off.  And if not- it's okay if we're not a good match.  :) There are lots and lots of home daycares in this area.  I know some of them maybe take less paid time off than me, but I know for a fact that many of them take a lot more time, so I'm okay with bumping it up a bit to do what's best for my family.

And just because I've never said it and if I'm spilling my guts here, I might as well......  I have spent years and years feeling super guilty about that SMALL percentage of families who have in fact pulled their child from my care and moved them elsewhere because I had to call to say I was vomiting uncontrollably for one day, or who asked in a very rude and put-out manner, "Well why are you closed?  What am I supposed to do?"  Um, I like to go to the dentist and the doctor and just take a day off sometimes like everybody else.  I have never once said "You had the day off today?  Why didn't you spend the day at home with your kid?"  You know why?  BECAUSE EVERYONE NEEDS A BREAK SOMETIMES.  And also because I get that you are paying me whether you bring your child or not, and it doesn't really matter to me what you're doing while your baby is here.  You pay for them to be here, and you do what you need to do during the day.  I'd love the same courtesy and understanding when I'd like to take a day off.  I know that not everybody has family in the area and I know that sometimes it's a pain.  It's why I give you as much notice as I possibly can.  But in order not to burn out, and to be able to recharge and do the very best job with your babies that I can, I need to put on my oxygen mask first a little more often than I have been.  (And it goes without saying I hope that the grand majority of my families have been absolutely awesome in this area.  Isn't it the way of life though that the one or two who aren't awesome are the ones we judge our success by?)

Thanks for giving me this job.  Thanks for continuing to trust me with your babies.  And even though my kids complain, I'm grateful to be here when they get home and to have the life that we have.  I'm happy I took the opportunity to explore leaving, so I have a renewed appreciation for the greatness this is.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Policy Change- Animals in the House

Hello all!  I'll be talking to each of you individually with any questions or concerns you might have regarding this issue, but the state standards, 747.3703 to be specific, say that I must provide information in writing as well.

My children have wanted a pet for years.  I don't want anything like a cat or dog that's going to be underfoot or leave hair around to make daycare difficult.  We'd like to get them guinea pigs for Christmas. (So please wait to discuss it with me until they are not around!)

Guinea pigs do not require any vaccinations or a statement of health from the vet- I've done all the research to make sure I'm still in compliance.  Here are the rules:

If you choose to have animals on the premises while children are in care, you must:
(1) Notify parents in writing when animals are or will be present;
(2) Ensure the animals do not create unsafe or unsanitary conditions;
(3) Ensure that children do not handle any animal that shows signs of illness, such as lethargy or diarrhea
(4) Ensure that caregivers and children practice good hygiene and hand washing after handling or coming into contact with an animal and items used by an animal, such as water bowls, food bowls, and cages.

We will be keeping their cage very clean, and I'm not going to allow my kids to take them out of the cage while the daycare kids are here.  There really won't be any contact.

The cage will be in the living room, so your kids will probably just wave at them on the way in and out every day.  Other than that it won't affect them much at all.

I want to find a scenario that makes all the families comfortable and still allows my kids this- I can't wait to surprise them on Christmas morning!!  Please talk to me with any questions or concerns you have so we can get everything worked out before the holidays.  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


So many fun things going on around here all the time!  And as usual, life goes by too fast to blog as often as I'd like.  In the world of 140 characters and soundbites, an actual blog post is harder to come by.  I have been trying to post photos and little snippets on the fb page more often, so hopefully that's at least something.

Maid Marian has graduated.  We got some cute pics of the big girls together on her last day.

Pearl and Bubbles are both almost/mostly walking!  There will be days where they both still crawl a lot, but they're up on their feet and trying and it's super cute.  Makes me happy.

Mowgli and Baymax are either home for summer or part time, just depending on the week.  (Mowgli is here today though and he's rocking the man bun which is SO FUNNY!!  He keeps moving and I can't get a good pic of it though.) It's odd to just have one full-time boy here.  I end up calling him Little Dude a lot.  Cinderella has started calling him that also.  She can't say his name very well and I think Dude is easier.  He needs a blog name.  Little Dude makes me think of Ratatouille, but I've already used Remy for somebody else and Linguini just doesn't seem awesome.  Still thinking on it.  He's a sweet kiddo- needs a good name!

Cinderella and Violet are best friends these days.  Whenever C gets up from her rest, the first thing she says is "Where Violet?  Up nap?"  Yesterday I had to tell her Violet had already left.  Oh, the big huff and the stink eye I got from that one!  "HMPH.  Violet bye bye?.... HMPH.  *big sigh* Where Pearl?"  At least she's willing to play with the other girls when Violet isn't around.  :)

Today I put them down for a nap in the same room for the first time.  They were both yawning and staggering around.  Somehow they found a second wind and had Dance Party Central instead of sleeping though.  After an hour of hoping they'd settle on their own, I went in with my stern face.  It's time to lay down and rest.  No more jumping.  They were less than thrilled.  But I think now they finally are sleeping.  At least I don't hear squealing and giggling like a slumber party anymore.

Cinderella is very quick to throw her buddies under the bus when it comes to who made the bad smell.  If she's clean and I ask who pooped, she'll back up to me and stick her bum out so I can check to be sure it's definitely not her.  If she's the culprit, she immediately tells me, "VIOLET POOP!"  Which is pretty much code for "it's totally me but I don't want to admit it."

She also thinks she should sit with Anna all the time, now that Maid Marian is not here to fight for the space.

Whatcha doing?  Email?  Looking at cute pictures you took of me?  Can I take another selfie?

Pearl is in the giggliest stage right now.  It's fabulous.  You just look at her and she busts out laughing.  She and Bubbles are both giving really good hugs these days too.  So much fun.

We have a new little girl who started this week- she's about the same age as Pearl and Bubbles.  Such a dolly girl.  She has Disney princess eyes- the kind I used to say nobody in real life actually has, because they're so big and wide and pretty with gorgeous lashes.  I take it back that no real girl has those.  I love them.  SO cute.

She's very smiley for us except when we try to take her picture.  :)  I haven't gotten very many happy shots yet, but she's a cheerful one- settling in and getting to know us.

Next week we have a teeny new bitty girl starting too- I can't wait!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy Mothers' Day!

We decided to try a new tactic with the girls and crafting this morning and it worked really well.  Usually I take them one at a time and let them create their own project, which is great except for the fact that all the others stand around and cry because it's not their turn, and the one who's working DOES cry when her turn is over.  So this morning we needed to make five Mother's Day gifts and we all worked together on all five of them.  They all got to craft for a long enough time that they felt okay with cleaning up when it was time, and I think it was helpful to discuss each mama as we went too.  "Okay, we're making this one for Maid Marian's mommy, isn't it pretty, do you think she will like it?  Bolt's mommy will love this one- look how fun it is to all help each other…" and so on.  

It involved ripping, which not a single one of them can do on command.  You don't usually think of tearing paper as a skill that needs to be learned, especially if your kids have ever gotten hold of an important paper that you DIDN'T want ripped up.  But it is a taught skill.  They were trying to Hulk Hogan the papers, you know, grab them by the ends and pull till they broke in the middle.  There's good motor skills involved in learning to hold it by the top and gently rip.  So I apologize if they got the hang of it too well…  :)  But it was fun to have them all circling around, and really I ended up doing most of the ripping anyway.  

After we finished all the papers, I showed them what the small brooms and dustpans in the playroom are actually supposed to be used for.  It was super cute to see them trying to brush the floor.  They stink at it, of course, but they try so hard to be helpful.  Even if it takes a lot longer than doing it yourself, it's so fun for them to get to do big kid stuff and help with grownup chores.

Happy Mother's Day to everyone!  I hope you have a fabulous weekend.  I'm not showing you the finished product so you still have a little surprise this evening.  Make sure you take your paper from the folders by the door!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

FAQ: Coxsackie

We're having a little bout of the coxsackie virus right now, also known as hand, foot and mouth disease.  This is something that can sound really alarming to parents if you aren't familiar with it, and my experience has been that "Dr. Google" can sometimes make things worse or confusing, depending on which site you land on.  I thought I'd just lay out a bit of our personal dealings with it to hopefully make you feel more at ease.

*Please keep in mind that I am *not* a medical professional of any kind, and that you should of course check with your child's pediatrician if you feel that your child would benefit from such.*

  • First off, it's a virus, so meds won't really help.  There's no antibiotic or anything that will make it go away quicker.  It's got to run its course.  
  • We haven't found that calamine lotion or benadryl helps much with the blisters either, but sometimes tylenol or motrin does seem to make them feel more comfortable.  Also helps with bringing the fever down if they have one.  It seems like about half the kids I see with it have fevers, and the other half either don't at all, or it's very mild.  Conflicting and frustrating.
  • It's terribly contagious, and we've been told that the contagion lingers for up to five days after blisters appear.  This can be super hard to judge because if they get the sores first inside their mouth, sometimes you don't see it right away and have NO idea they're contagious, and they run around sharing it with all their friends.  Also, sometimes the blisters are mild and you think it's not coxsackie, but really it is and they're contagious for four days or so AFTER you think they're better.  This can make it very hard to shake it off because if multiple kids are at different stages with it, it just hangs out and makes itself at home.  It also has an incubation period of 3-6 days, so sometimes they were exposed almost a week ago and can pass it along before symptoms pop up.
  • It's contagious through bodily fluids and also airborne.  Good times.  And it's allergy season so many of them have runny noses anyhow.  

The good news is:
  • it doesn't seem to be terribly bothersome to the kids unless they have a really severe case and feel itchy.  
  • we have good handwashing and sanitizing habits as a rule anyway, and are doing extra spraying and cleaning just as an added preventative this week
  • just because some kids who come here have it, that doesn't mean your child is bound to get it.  It's a fickle virus that flits around and doesn't land everywhere.  Please don't panic- if your child seems clear, they probably are.  We just want to educate you here, not make you feel fearful.  :)  I remember once when it turned up about two and a half years ago, only one child caught it.  Then six months later she caught it again and was still the only one.  Viruses are weird and unpredictable.  It's nothing you're doing or that we're doing- knowledge and prevention are our best tools but aren't always perfect!
The bad news is:
  • it can be very hard for us to get rid of it here if you come back to school before it's gone.  I know it's terribly inconvenient to take time off work or have to make other arrangements for multiple days, but we really can't have them back at school until they're no longer contagious.  This is where going to the doctor may be helpful.  Although it is a virus and you probably won't be given medication, they will have more expert knowledge on what stage the virus is likely in and can probably give you a better date on returning to school than we can.  We're practiced in dealing with it but we're not doctors.  If you choose not to take your child to the doctor but you're pretty sure it's coxsackie, please observe the "five days of contagion after spots" plan because that is what we've most frequently been told.
We are doing our best to help keep your babies healthy!  :)  Thank you.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Focus: Bolt

Bolt is a good name choice for this girlie.  She is so fierce and tough and independent, but she still rocks her pink bows.  She makes me laugh every day.

She's on a wicked nap boycott lately- just doesn't feel like she needs to sleep much.  Some days she refuses to nap at ALL and yells at us when we try to put her to bed.  No tears, not sad,  The chick is angry.  Just yells.  The minute you get her up she's all sunshine again and just goes and goes.  She's very much The Little Engine That Could.  Much more than meets the eye.  :)  She's one that I could easily see being an Olympic gymnast.  She's wiry and strong and so determined.  Nobody's gonna tell her she can't do something.

And she's so snuggly and koala bear when she feels like it.  She settles in and holds on tight around your neck and just grips harder if you act like you're putting her down.  It's especially fun to snuggle her in her pink bear suit.  It's full length and has ears and feet and the whole shebang.  Pretty awesome.

Being as independent as she is, feeding her has been interesting the past month or so.  She would rather die than let us spoon anything into her mouth like a baby.  Although she sees no problem with eating oatmeal with her fingers… we sometimes do.  :)  It gets pretty messy but she has such a good time and it makes for really fun photos.  I didn't realize how many I have of her eating!

Not a fan of kale the first time we tried!

Her name is one that's pretty easy for the other kids to say and so she's kind of like Norm from Cheers.  She comes in and everybody yells her name.  When she gets picked up in the afternoons, Maid Marian will yell "BOLT!" and then run to her and pat her on the back, just to make sure that her dad knows which kid he's supposed to take with him.  It's hilarious.  The other day MM was out and he joked that he wasn't sure who to pick up without her help.

She just adds so much fun to our days!  We love you Miss Bolt!