Friday, June 27, 2008

Daycare: Wombat seeks adventure! The Grand Finale.

We saw two more daycares this week: Montgomery County Childcare Park Street and Little Acorns Learning Center. We were not impressed with either. In both centers, the tour was very rushed, the administrator didn't do a good job of actually showing off their facilities and could not answer questions in depth, instead referring us to "the materials you get once you enroll." Um, right. The centers were not terrible, just not great.... no waitlist reservation there.

So where does this leave us? Pretty much, no cigar. Right now we are on the following waitlists (in order of our preference):

1. Bright Horizons
2. Children in the Shoe
3. Goddard

4. Little Acorns Learning Center
5. MCC Germantown
(with the last 2 having free waitlists, so we are keeping them as.... safety daycare?)

I called Bright Horizons this week, only to learn that we do indeed have no chance of placing Wombat there this year. 2 infant spots are going to become available in August, only to be promptly filled by parents ahead of us in priority. In addition, the list of parents ahead of us can keep getting longer as new DoE or Federal Government employees want to enroll their kids. I mean, there is always hope. It's possible that somehow they could reach us. But very unlikely. Sigh.

So who knows? Little Wombat might end up being driven to Bethesda 3 days a week, mingling with all those posh kids of diplomats and what not. :) Or he might after all end up at Goddard, insane cost and all, until we find a spot in Bright Horizons for him. Or until he goes to college. Whatever comes first.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time Management Lecture by Randy Pausch

The PDF of the slides for this lecture is here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Excellent Maternity Shirts that say what I'm thinking so I don't have to!

Jestations has the best maternity T-shirt selection I've seen! It's too bad I found them in the 8th month of pregnancy; otherwise I'd be stocking up. Here are some images and slogans from my favorites.... Go get'em!

Yeah! :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lamaze Class

This weekend, we took the required Lamaze class with DC Lamaze. I could not bring myself to actually do 6 weeks of breathing rhythmically, so we opted for a 1-day 'express' course.

I should say that we did not have high expectations for the class. I have a hard time seeing how breathing will help me cope with pain. I mean, don't get me wrong - I think that if you practice enough to breathe through someone inflicting pain on you, then eventually you will develop a jedi warrior mindset and will be able to do it. Absolutely. The problem is, in the classes, you do NOT have any pain. At all. You are practicing to breathe 'correctly' in a perfectly relaxed calm environment. I don't care how long you practice that, those skills are going out the window the second you are in pain. Practicing breathing and practicing breathing THROUGH PAIN are totally different, and I doubt those skills transfer. It's like teaching someone to 'practice holding their breath' and believing that will let them make it through being dropped into 40 feet of ice-cold water from a helicopter. I say their chances would not be that great, no matter how many times they practiced holding their breath while watching Lost reruns.

Anyway. I shouldn't rant. We went to the class, we did the breathing exercises, it was exactly what we expected. The class did have a couple of useful things - it was definitely good for all the guys to see the female anatomy diagram, where the baby is, how it comes out, etc. It was good to discuss labor stages, progress, and so on. Most importantly, the instructor described labor by a marathon analogy, and that analogy actually made a LOT of sense to us!! Funny, but we know exactly how to approach a long-distance endurance event, and apparently those skills tranfer to labor wonderfully. So, forget the breathing - we will need an energy bar, a map of the restrooms, and to simply tune out anything other then the run. Just run until it's over. Don't think about it, just do it.

So it was worth it after all. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Additional Baby Name suggestion.....

Anders. What does everyone think?

The name was suggested by a dock hand when we went sailing this weekend. A really nice guy, he was helping us rig our boat and was overwhelmed with joy on learning Iggy's full name. He is Swedish himself, and was thrilled to discover another person with a relationship to Sweden - even if it is in name only. :)

He mentioned that his son was named Anders, and it occured to us that (as both of us kind of randomly have Swedish names) this would allow us to keep on our Scandinavian naming theme. Anders. Hm. The nickname would be Andy.... probably..... or we could use Anderson as a full name, and Anders could be the nickname. Or it could become the middle name, as in Elijah Anders Flores (Elijah Miles Flores is the current favorite).

What do you think?

Baby Room Art

I'm not really big into decorating the nursery - somehow, baby decorative items seem more of a waste of money then a subject of adoration to me. I mean, who are they for? The kid can't even see that far for the first few weeks, and probably doesn't care what theme his room is. He just needs some bright, colorful and fun stuff to look at, close to his crib. Before long, he will be a little boy who will hate nothing more than a room filled with fluffy baby stuff, anyway! I think?

So, instead of decorating the nursery as a, um, nursery, we are trying to add things that are easily removable and can stay in the room as the child grows. To that end, we have always loved Lynn Lupetti art - ever since we discovered it in a Carmel Gallery. The pictures are absolutely beautiful, and seem like they would really prompt the imagination in a kid. Here are a few of our favorite paintings (all image rights are those of Lynn Lupetti and the gallery, obviously....)

Beautiful, yes? Only one problem - as original art, even lithographs cost several hundred dollars a print. But I stumbled on jigsaw puzzles made from these prints! Ceaco used to make these jigsaw puzzles years ago; unfortunately, they have discontinued them since.

Of course, a jigsaw puzzle is only $40 (as opposed to >$400), which breathed a lot of enthusiasm into me - and after some searching, I found two Lynn Lupetti jigsaw puzzles! I will be putting one of them together in the next couple of weeks. Here is one the pictures that will be hanging in Wombat's room, hopefully inspiring him to dream, or read, or at least to go outside: "Magical Voyage" and "Tales of Valor" by Lynn Lupetti :) "Tales of Valor" is the puzzle we currently have - still working on acquiring the "Magical Voyage" puzzle.

36 Weeks!

We went to my 36 week appointment today. From this point, doctor's appointments are going to become weekly. This means it's go time, people! We are on Level 2 Readiness Alert!! (We'll be moving to Level 1 at 38 weeks, apparently).

The midwives loaded us with materials to go over and things to do, including the check-in form for Shady Grove hospital. The form is a 40-question booklet, covering everything from your SSN to your blood type to asking you to list all the tattoos you have (@#%@?!). Normally, the hospital nurses ask all these questions verbally when you arrive - so while you are standing there, between contractions, you have to count your tattoos for them before they will check you in! No, seriously. Thank goodness the midwives are at least letting us fill out those answers ahead of time.

Other then that, I'm supposed to take more vitamins (between prenatal vitamins and iron, how many more natural supplements are they going to pump into this kid?!), and count fetal movements. I have to actually start paying attention..... The only fetal movements I'm counting now are the really punchy ones. Instead, I'm supposed to sit still and count them for an hour or something like that. And record it in a chart. Oh boy. Any process that involves sitting still, counting and recording is usually not easy for me.

This weekend we are going to attempt to install our car seat, which should be an exciting adventure. Stay tuned....

Baby Shower Gift Bonanza

Baby Shower Gift Parade! from Olya on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Baby Shower Name Selection

Monday, June 9, 2008

Daycare: Wombat seeks adventure! Part 5

We saw a daycare center in Bethesda today: The Children in the Shoe. We saw the Bethesda Towers location; the daycare has a different location in Bethesda which is currently not open for tours.

The daycare offers part-time attendance for infants, which seems to be almost unheard of. While their monthly rates are not much different from Goddard (Children in the Shoe charges about $1750/month), they allow part-time attendance at $80.50 per day. The part time attendance could then help us out with daycare finances, if we could make that work.

So we decided to check out the daycare. The daycare seems really nice for the older kids, but not as nice for infants. We saw the infant rooms, and for the most part, we were not too impressed. The environment has a lot of exersaucers, swings and other toys where children can be pacified and left alone. While there were lesson plans/activity plans for infants developed, we did not get to see any of them in action. Again, for older kids, the daycare activities looked great - Spanish classes every day, French classes once a week, and so on and so forth. Really, very impressive. It's just that for infants, this is not really applicable (even though it's offered), and we felt that there was not enough interaction between the smallest babies and the teachers - and too many automated swinging toys.

The daycare has an outside play area - a tiny, rubber-covered spot with some teeny climbing equipment. The rubber looked like sheet metal; the entire area seemed to be about 20 feet. The tour guide assured us that from time to time, the children are taken on walks to Capitol Crescent Trail - which kind of scared us, given that the trail entrance is a while away, the path to it is by a major street, and the trail itself is a busy place to walk on.

Overall, we feel that this would be an OK holding place, but not really a place to keep Wombat in for the long run. While we like the special classes for older kids, there is just not enough goodness going on for infants to justify the long drive to Bethesda twice a day. We did get on the waiting list - there is no waiting list fee, and right now we want as much January availability as we can get. :) Plus, the other Bethesda location may be better for us - when they start offering tours, we may check them out; this way we are already on their waiting list.

Quick Specs:
Rate: $80.50 per day; ends up being around $1700/months
Waitlist Fee: none; one waitlist for 3 daycare centers in the area.

Baby Shower!!

We are overwhelmed with the amount of the baby things that now surround us, after this weekend's baby shower.

Cecilia has put together an officially spectacular and best-run baby shower event ever! We had some great help from family and friends as well, all working together as a well-oiled team to put together the baby shower decorations and finish preparing the food. I realized (too late) that it was silly of me to only ask these people to help me out with the baby shower - I should have really recruited them to invade a small country; they could have done it. By now, I could have had Belgium! Oh well, live and learn. :)

Thank you all so much, we are very touched with your visiting our home, being so generous to us and Wombat and giving us your company and support! We feel lucky to have you as friends.

Here are some pictures of the baby shower; see more at our Baby Shower Photo Album. Thank you all so much!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Daycare: Wombat seeks adventure! Ethical Tribulations

A funny thing happened on our way to Iman Child Learning Center. We discovered that the center holds Islamic religious services, including prayer several times a day, etc.

The center is in Germantown, and serves a thriving local Muslim community. In addition to being a daycare center, they also accomodate the community by providing space for cultural gatherings, including religious holidays and prayer times. As a lot of children tend to be from the community, the center focuses on Islamic holidays such as Ramadan (with Christmas and Hanukah being addressed as well). The owners of the center are very active in the community, which is a great and admirable thing. And the center is open to any child, of any race or religion - it is a secular school and is not affiliated with any religious center.

I can't figure out how I feel about this. On one hand, we are not very religious. I really don't care what community the center is in - as long as the caretakers are good, and I feel our infant is provided for. Anyway, at infant age it doesn't really matter to me what religion is being practiced by the caregivers. On another hand, we are not very religious. How would we fit in in a daycare where most parents are? Especially in a daycare where most parents are of religion we know nothing at all about? How would our child be treated by the caregivers and other parents, because he would be different even at just a few months of age? Are we thinking too much into this? It's just a daycare, for crying out loud.

And to complicate the situation, a large part of my family considers themselves Jewish. I don't really practice Judaism, but that part of the family would probably freak out if we took our child to a daycare that is affiliated (even unofficially) with Islam (wouldn't you guys?). Even though the school is secular on paper, how secular can you stay when you are serving a religious community?

We didn't go to look at the school. So, we made a call based on appearances of religious and ethnic differences - something we don't normally do and something we would definitely want to teach Wombat to avoid doing. I feel kind of torn about this. What would you do? And would I have done the same thing is the difference had to do with something other then religion?

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