Preschools and Daycares

In my earlier post, I mentioned how we met with H’s pre-school teacher for the upcoming school year. It exceeded my expectations, and I had HIGH expectations. I can’t tell you how happy I was after we received the call that he got in off of the waitlist (I think I danced it out in the kitchen while I was on the phone with her).

When it came to finding THE ONE, I started with your basic Google search: public/parochial/private–so many options! And when I found this one, I was immediately intrigued; it was similar in format to a pre-school we were considering if we were staying in the area. Of course, I did my due diligence: other families who went through this pre-school had such amazing things to say about it.

Folks, I reached out in November of last year for H to begin in August of this year. And after we toured the place, we actually put A on the list for 2023 (she got the last spot).

I understand that pre-school isn’t a requirement (neither Dr. H nor I went to formalized pre-school and I think we’re doing fine). However, for parents who decide to have their children attend, it seems (to me, at least) competitive to get into a good one. Is it this way in your neck of the woods? I mean, A isn’t even two-years-old yet, but spots are already reserved for 11 other families at this particular location.

If you’re pregnant or have a new babe and are looking for daycare, your options could be even slimmer. My friend M had a son six months before we had H. Her advice to me (before either of our children was born) was to find childcare ASAP. It’s tough finding a reputable place for children under age two in daycare centers (and even in licensed in-home daycares). We actually had a nanny watch H for a few months there as we were trying to cobble together affordable childcare.

Luckily, A will be out of that tricky age range when she attends her new daycare (we’re happy with this one too). I just hope that if you’re a working parent, you find what meets you and your family’s needs.

-M

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Remembering to Stay Here and Now

Any time there’s a life change on the horizon, I have a tendency to daydream, usually through rose-colored lenses.

The months leading up to our wedding? Most definitely. Nearing the due dates of both of our children? Oh my goodness, yes. An upcoming trip? You betcha.

Dr. H finishing up his medical training this summer? One thought: AHHH! (In a good way.) Zillow has been a delightful distraction. We’ve cleaned out two huge closets and our unfinished storage area to prepare our current house for the real estate market. I’ve been researching the different activities our family can do in this new town. We met A’s daycare provider and H’s pre-school teacher for the upcoming year, and I’m so EXCITED about both. I’ve thought about tending to a more robust garden than what we have now. I’ve imagined holding family dinners and other gatherings with space for grown-ups and kids alike. When I started imagining a dog in the mix, that’s when I knew I’d have to come back to the present (not only do we NOT have a dog, we’re not even sure if we even want one!).

It’s fun to think about what’s about to come, but there’s a saying that life happens when you’re busy making plans. I’m working on staying grounded and giving gratitude for the life that is here and now.

-M

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Guilty Pleasure

Do you have a guilty pleasure? I’ll let you in on mine: Goldfish crackers. And not just the plain cheddar ones. I’m a huge fan of the pizza-flavored ones. It’s like I saved a corner of my stomach to the whims of an 8-year-old. I discovered this delicious snack when I worked at my first job out of college and life has never been the same.

The only thing about guilty pleasures is that you don’t necessarily feel FANTASTIC after it’s all said and done. I’m honestly trying to be healthier in terms of what I put into my body, but the recent “Buy 5 items, save $5” promotion got me while I was grocery shopping. I was purchasing Goldfish to make these cute Valentine’s Day snack mixes for the kids to take to daycare when I realized I could toss another into the shopping cart and meet the criteria to save $5.

My brain went, “YES!” My body went, “Can you please eat foods that might be less inflammatory?”

I’m not kidding about the last part. I’m looking for anti-inflammatory recipes or blogs if you know of any.

-M

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SAHMs

SAHM is an acronym for stay-at-home-mom, which is a bit of a misnomer because many SAHMs are out and about with their children at parks, museums, libraries, zoos, etc. I’m not a SAHM, but the idea has crossed my mind countless times, especially when H and A were each about three months old and I was heading back to work. Ooof!

I have family and friends who are SAHMs, each making the choice according to her unique circumstances. For some, childcare costs outweighed what she could bring in. For others, raising children brought a greater sense of fulfilment than her job ever could. Some are taking it one stage at a time, staying home now but returning back to work once the kids are older.

Financial Security

My SIL asked me recently about what happened to my desire to stay at home with H and A. Good question, right? If I feel as if I’ve run the course, why do I keep running?

There are a number of reasons, but the one that I can’t ignore is financial security.

Anyone else a pessimist by nature? Hehe, seriously. I want to see the glass half-full, but my knee-jerk reaction is, “Welp, I guess this drink is almost done.” Rainy days are inevitable, so I want to make sure I can take them head-on whenever they come. Or, perhaps I’m not a pessimist, but I’m like Peter Warren Hatcher from the Judy Bloom Fudge book series: he’s not a worrier, he just likes to plan ahead.

I grew up thinking I was poor, but this was only based on things and the subsequent comparisons I made with my friends: I shared a room with my sister. Our minivan had peeling paint and the steering wheel made funny sounds. When the Denver Broncos made it to the Superbowl and everyone was encouraged to wear Broncos gear to school the next day, I wore a Michigan Wolverines sweater we got on sale from Marshalls because at least it was blue. I didn’t get my own cell phone until I was a senior in high school (OH THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL!).

Mind you, I completely ignored the fact that I played club soccer and took piano lessons for YEARS. That my family went on summer vacations (San Diego was a popular spot). That my sisters and I did summer camps. That we went skiing every so often. That I could ask my dad for $20 bucks to go shopping and he’d open his wallet and simply tell us to bring back anything we didn’t spend (what’s funny is that my older sister and I would rarely buy anything and give him back the full $20). That even without our scholarships, my parents could pay for my sisters and I to attend college.

I know, you can call me ungrateful.

Our experiences shape who we are though, yes? Though my mom was still working, my dad lost his job when I was maybe 16 or 17. Since we were frugal, our standard of living actually didn’t change much (I think one thing they’d communicated to us was that we’d have to go to an in-state university now). Despite their assurances, I worried. I was worried that we’d lose our cars, our house, life as we knew it. I became very money-conscious (my dad suspects my older sister did too because she got a part-time retail job while taking on a difficult course load; it was something she didn’t need to do).

I found out later that while my sisters and I were growing up–and despite my father losing his job–we were doing just fine.

Sigh. Anyone else’s joints feeling achy? Is there a rainstorm coming?

Like my parents, we’re doing just fine. I don’t think there’s a set monetary level where it I go, “Oh, I’m now financially secure.” Once Dr. H starts his attending job, however, I might be able to better assess my work and purpose; I might even become a SAHM.

-M

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Trusting God

I’m a cradle Catholic, which means I attended mass every Sunday and ticked off the sacraments once they became available to me, but my experience with faith was–for the most part–only skin-deep. We never discussed our faith at home except for the occasional reminder to ask for an intercession from my grandmother (she passed before I was born).

In high school, I took part in the youth ministry with my older sister. We attended retreats and played games at the youth house with other students, many of whom attended the nearby Catholic high school. I felt a little bit like an outsider: most of the other teenagers knew each other, and they all seemed on fire with their faith. There I was, faking it until I made it. I liked listening to Christian music and was learning more about my faith, so I continued the march forward.

In college, I wanted to delve deeper into Christianity and find like-minded friends. I joined a Christian student group (only because my friend A wanted to go and wouldn’t go unless someone went with him) and actually left that to join a Christian sorority. Yes, these exist! We did typical sorority activities, but we’d also have devotionals during our meetings and our parties/gatherings didn’t include alcohol. We had the highest collective GPA for several years running–whoot! And though this isn’t where we met, I asked Dr. H to my formal and look where we are now.

In my sophomore year of college, I went on a Catholic retreat that struck a chord. What happens on the final day is a bit of a secret, but essentially, there’s a reveal near the end and you realize you are loved and are worthy of God’s love no matter what.

That brings me to today: I’m confident that no matter what dark place I may end up in, I can trust that God loves me and will give me the grace to get through anything.

I’m supposed to have faith like a child…that faith is like taking the next step even though you can’t see the whole staircase…that there’s life and dignity to every person…that everyone has a purpose…that God makes good out of all of the bad in this world.

That last one gives me heartburn. When I pray for terrible things to end, I have to content myself with knowing that it’s all in God’s time, and His time isn’t something we’re privy to. And then, as it seems arbitrary whether or not that prayer gets answered, I go down the rabbit hole of why pray at all, if He decides that something must ravage on? I mean, why are some children physically/sexually/emotionally abused? Why are black men and women dying more often at the hands of people who are supposed to serve and protect? Why do good people get cancer or other terminal illness? What about the coronavirus and all the lives lost?!

There’s that doubtful side of me that simplifies it all to 1) man is flawed, 2) life isn’t fair, and 3) nature is crazy.

My simplification isn’t antithetical to God. Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I want the latter. I do, but I’ve been fighting for it.

Sigh.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

-M

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Music as Medicine

Angels and Harps

Have you ever wondered why cute little cherubs are depicted holding harps? I’m reaching deep into the recesses of my mind here (it was a four-credit humanities class during my freshman year of college), but if I remember right, it’s because music is the closest thing we’ll get to heaven on earth.

Think about it, have you ever heard a song that resonated so deeply in your heart of hearts or gave you all the feels? There’s a song called “Heroes” by Michael W. Smith that gets me every time.

Because You Just Know

We have the piano that I grew up with (no one else plays except my older sister). H doesn’t like it when I play songs in minor key because they’re “scary.” It’s amazing that though they’re just songs, they evoke something primal in his toddler brain that makes him want to run in the other direction.

Music as Medicine

Just as “scary” songs can make us feel unsettled, other songs can make us happy or elicit other feelings.

According to a study by the British Academy of Sound Therapy, it takes 13 minutes of listening to music with slower tempo and no lyrics to make you feel calmer and only nine minutes of listening to something with an upbeat tempo to lift your mood. Not too shabby, right?

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Moderna Vaccine

Since Dr. H and I work in healthcare, we both got vaccines for COVID-19. He got the Pfizer one and I received the Moderna. I’m pretty excited because in about two weeks, I’ll find out what superpower they gave me!

Hehe, okay, maybe no superpowers, except that I should be immune (for a while) to this virus that has the world turned upside down.

I received my first dose about a month ago and experienced nothing but a sore arm and a swollen lymph node under my armpit.

This second dose was fine, until about 12 hours after the injection.

As parents to toddlers, the two hours after they’re in bed is grown-up time (roughly 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.). It’s time to spend as we please without the constant demands or interruptions from our wonderful, needy children. Just as H went down for the night, I started experiencing body aches (my legs, hips, and lower back), chills (I wrapped a blanket around myself and put on a sweater over my long-sleeved shirt), and fatigue. Dr. H suggested I go to sleep, but CARPE DIEM!

I stayed up to watch Emily in Paris (ringarde, non?) and decided to turn in when I couldn’t stop shivering; the prospect of being little spoon–warm and cozy next to Dr. H–sounded amazing.

Then around 2 a.m., I woke up achy and sweating. Awesome. I’d been tossing and turning, debating whether I could sleep it off, before I finally ambled to the kitchen for some acetaminophen. Hooray pain relief.

Now about 24 hours after injection, most of the effects have subsided. I’m still a little achy, but the temperature swings are gone. I don’t know why I was shivering because I never felt feverish. Weird.

Was this worth it? In my opinion, yes. It’s only 12 hours of discomfort to protect the people that I love. I won’t have long-lasting effects from actually contracting COVID-19. I’m grateful for advances in medicine and excited for life to get back to a normal-ish. My hope is that when H starts kindergarten in 2022, he won’t need to worry about wearing masks or social distancing from his friends.

-M

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Watching Shows with Dr. H

Medical Shows

Dr. H has never watched Grey’s Anatomy. Or if he has, he wasn’t impressed and moved on. I had him watch an episode of Royal Pains with me and he immediately pointed out an issue with a patient: “That escalated way too fast, it wouldn’t happen in real life.” I’m not sure if that colored my view on the show, but I never really returned to it.

He’s watched The Good Doctor with me for the past few seasons, but only because he really like Toby from The West Wing (Richard Schiff) and this actor plays Dr. Aaron Glassman. He still points out the medical inaccuracies: “Why do they have a surgeon doing something an internal medicine doctor would be doing?”

Sigh. I figured that much out as well (comes with the territory after so many years, right?), but I like this one, so don’t ruin it for me.

Other Movies and Shows

I had Dr. H read “The Art of Racing in the Rain” a while back because it’s one of my favorite books and I rarely give him book recommendations (the opposite could be said of him, because he has a list for me to get to). Though the movie came out nearly two years ago, I remembered only recently and checked out the DVD from the library (it’s FREE, folks!).

If you know anything about the book, there’s a custody battle between a hard-working father and wealthy grandparents; each party wanting to do what’s best for the little girl. And what’s fun is that it’s all from the prospective of the dog, Enzo.

Dr. H made it though about 95% of the book before he came to me with frustration asking me whether or not Zoe ends up living with Denny or the “twins.” I told him he was almost done and to simply finish.

Due to the mental angst, however, he said he wouldn’t proceed and to give him the ending.

I told him.

Now, we’re halfway through the movie and he’s on edge (knowing full well how it ends). He stopped it last night (it was getting late AND it was starting to get a little dicey). I hope he’ll stick to it through to the credits.

With other movies or shows when a likeable protagonist does something contrary to Dr. H’s beliefs, he gets uncomfortable and then declares that it wasn’t that great of a movie. I think he identifies so closely sometimes with the character and he can’t wrap his mind around the writer’s decision to let the story flow a certain way.

Anyone’s spouses do the same?

-M

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Cute Aggression

Dr. H and I take turns with our families of origin. For example, if we’re with his family for Thanksgiving, we’ll be with my family for Christmas. Anyhow, on one particular holiday, we were on the eastern plains and the topic of conversation with my brothers- and sisters-in-law was how we just wanted to bite our children and dogs.

Um, what? Yeah. Weird, but hear me out.

We wanted to bite them because they’re just so. Darn. Cute. And there’s a term for this: cute aggression. When we see something adorable, we get overwhelmed with positive emotions, and that somehow manifests as urges to squeeze/bite that thing (“I could just eat you up!”)

I kid you not, I was obsessed with H’s baby tummy. And more recently, it’s A’s little boop-able nose.

The good thing is, if you’ve experienced cute aggression, it’s an enduring biological trait to help us care for these cute little things. Whew.

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When They Become Aware

Since I was a little girl, I KNEW I’d become a mom one day. Luckily, Dr. H came into the picture nearly 13 years ago (WHOA!), and we’ve been blessed with two littles who can throw amazing tantrums one moment and then be incredibly sweet and silly the next.

One thing that I’m realizing now with a 4-year-old is how much he’s starting to pick up on the things he hears and sees. On a recent occasion, I spoke with our daycare provider about how difficult it was to get out the door in the morning (no, you cannot wear shorts on this 30-degree day). Despite using a lowered voice and not making any gestures, I said H’s name; without fail, he glanced over from a corner on the couch, now tuning into everything I was saying.

He’s soaking in social nuances and it’s a huge responsibility to make sure he understands how to respect others and himself.

Which brings me to the events that transpired at the United States Capitol yesterday. No, we didn’t show any of the imagery or discuss it with H, but we’ve explained on other occasions that destroying things–especially things that don’t belong to us–is unacceptable. With all the time he’s spent in time-out for hitting or pushing his little sister, he knows hurting others is also NOT OKAY. We’ve told him about how there are consequences to any action, good or bad.

It frustrates me that grown men and women (who should know better) destroyed federal property and made other people fear for their lives.* And that the person who incited this behavior is someone who supposedly represents all Americans. If H ever did something like this, I’d be incredibly disappointed and think back to where I failed as a mother.

Sigh.

When they become aware, it breaks my heart a little that I can’t protect them from THIS aspect of reality. But then I remember that there is good happening as well. There are those with a vision and the stage to say, “This isn’t okay, but we can move forward from here.” There is progress being made with the hope to improve the lives of everyone.

*Don’t get me wrong, similar events occurred in a different context: just say no to damaging property and hurting people.