Baby number six.
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Sometimes I wonder how my career choice will affect Will, or rather, my relationship with him. I don’t regret starting a home daycare because it allows me to stay home with him and Charlie. But Will’s upbringing is already so different than Charlie’s was, and I can't help but feel that this time around is a bit inferior.

I stayed home with Charlie for a year while I went to school at night. I look back on those days with giddiness. They were truly some of the happiest days of my life. Every morning, we went to the same city park where I pushed him in the stroller, we played on the swings and fed the ducks. We took swim lessons and went to moms’ groups. We regularly went to a cafe where he got all the “cute” compliments and pulled coffee bags off the shelves while I sipped my lattes. I didn’t miss anything with him and have never had one regret.

I have these little memory snippets of his babyhood. Like how, when I was standing in line for my coffee, I had his little butt propped up on my chest, so he could be high and look forward. I made a kissing noise at his cheek, and, with his thumb still in his mouth and looking straight ahead, and without missing a beat, he very deliberately leaned his cheek into my lips so that he could more fully receive my kiss.

So many times, when Will is doing cute things, my mind is racing with all the things I need to do. Refill Lucy’s milk cup, finish grating cheese, get whatever it was I put in the microwave out of the microwave so that microwave stops beeping, tend to Charlie in the bathroom while he screams for me, give cat his milk or at least kindly shove him outside the kitchen, take a few bites of food before I faint, and clean as I go so it is not a sty tonight. While I am thinking all this, I realize Will is doing his native American “ah ah ah” sound whereby he puts his fist to his mouth and with the back and forth motion, gets my attention. I look at him and realize he has been screaming/fussing for the last 10 minutes, but I have been tuning him out. And with a cute smile on his face, he has learned that by making this noise, I will stop and look at him. He is literally leaning out of his chair smiling at me, so happy to have grabbed my attention. I stop and smile back. Still, I wonder how many times he wants my attention but is not successful.

What am I missing?

How many times did he figure something out while I was tending to someone else? What clues did he exhibit on his face that told how he felt about Lucy and Nova and Mikey? Is he awestruck? Annoyed? Oblivious? How many times did he try to sign or talk but I was too busy wiping a butt or giving a time-out to notice?

It’s like I went from having one child to having six, except the second baby never really had a chance to be a baby by himself, or even sorta by himself.

At the end of this week, he will be 11 months old. I am stunned. I cannot believe his babyhood is almost over. Charlie’s babyhood went on forever. I took in every detail and made each week last a month. Will’s has flown by as I have thought about how to make ends meet, how to turn this into a preschool atmosphere, how to fill remaining spots and then keep them filled, how to get everyone to take decent naps so I can recharge. So many outside details that have nothing to do with him, that I wonder what I have missed. And I wonder what details of his life I will remember that have to do only with him.



How the math works out.
The new baby started this week. And she was pretty typical: sleep 2 hours, wake up, eat for about 3 minutes, lie on back or tummy for like 4 minutes, then look extremely tired and fall asleep again. Repeat.

So why am I extremely exhausted? Why were my clothes damp by 11:00 a.m.? Why did I actually have B.O.? Why did I go an entire day without peeing?

I only added one person to the daycare. Just one, and she is the easiest one. So how is it ten times harder now?

'Tis 7:30, so I am off to bed.



Aw, that's lovely.
Charlie was wiping his butt, and decided to leave the toilet paper in between his cheeks, so it stuck out just like so, visible for the world to see.
Me: Charlie, what are you doing?
Charlie: Look at me! I'm a chicken!

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Charlie Dice Clay
Last night I was rummaging through the cubbards, trying to figure out what sounded good. Not thinking this innocent question could possibly be a set-up, I asked:
Do I smell cookie dough, or do I just smell what I am craving?
Husband: I don't know. It smells like vagina.
Charlie: It smells like va-gina!!!
Husband: [withholding laughter, not able to talk].
Charlie: It smells like.... vagina!
Me: Um.....
Charlie: It smells like vagina!!!!
Husband: No, we don't say... [laugher.]
Charlie: It smells like va-gin-a!
Me [to hubby]: You are so going into time-out.
Charlie: It smells like vagina!!! Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!
Husband [goes and stands in the corner]. Sorry.
Charlie: Vagina!

This should probably be a good time to add that our kitchen strictly smells like spices and sugar and honey and things.

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Breaking up is hard to do.
Ever been in a really bad relationship that made you feel like crap, that required you to obsess for hours about what to do and to examine how you felt, and where the person alternated between acting sweetly and horribly? And maybe you even had a dream about when and how it would end, and when you woke up your only regret was that it hadn't ended yet? And perhaps the relationship indeed ends, but you are shocked to find that you feel so empty inside that you want to take a bubble bath and listen to Michael Bolton?

Lucy just broke up with me.

Well, not really Lucy, but her parents. It was an odd turn of events. First she acts like a miniature-size crazy woman for three months straight, but after Christmas break, is on her best behavior and starts hugging me and warming up to me and everyone. But while I am enjoying the upside, her parents start acting funny. First they sign my new contract, but cross out the part that says if I must take them to court for non-payment, that they won't pay my attorney's fees. I find it odd that they won't sign this, being that they always pay me and I can only assume, don't plan to be taken to court. Anyway. I stress, consult my provider expert friends, and agree to cross out the line in question if in exchange, they will pre-pay for their last two weeks of care.

Then, as I am planning my vacations for the year, I drop them (and the other parents) an email asking when their vacations will be so that I can plan mine at the same time. They say to go ahead and plan mine; they will work around them. While at it, I ask if my holiday closures are an inconvenience to them. They say no.

Today he drops off the revised contract along with the last two weeks of care, which I decide to tuck away in a far away account, so it doesn't get spent before the time comes. Nine hours later, at pickup, he drops the bomb. My hours are too hard for them to work with, so they are going with a center. Plus, I have lots of days off.

My wildest dream came true. So why do I feel like crap?

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For diversity week, we are talking about similar vs. different.

Me: So, Mikey, looking at your hand and mine, how are they similar?
Mikey: Um, they are hands.
Me: Yeah, and they both have five fingers. How are they different?
Mikey: You have these red knuckles right here, and here.
Me: Yeah...
Mikey: You need some... [quietly] ...marsha.
Me: You mean lotion?
Mikey: Yeah. Lotion.

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A turn of events.

Let's review the last six months of daycare politics with Mikey, Charlie's best friend.
* For one year, Mikey comes to me, forms very strong friendship with Charlie.

* Mikey's mom becomes pregnant.

* Toward the very end of Mom's pregnancy, Mom announces that, due to financial reasons, Mikey cannot stay with me during her maternity leave. Her leave is unpaid, so she cannot pay me.

* I stress out quite severely. I tell her she must pay me at least half his tuition if she wants me to hold his spot. In return, I will watch him half-time.

* She can't do it. No money. So she is going to pay me for one day per week only. I accept it, but with the agreement that his spot is not held. I get a call from another boy his same age, tell Mom about him, and her immediate response is, "I can come up with the money. No worries. We really need you. We cannot lose you."

In spite of her compromise with me, I am only receiving half tuition, and the total loss for me amounts to $800. Over Christmastime.

I keep quiet about it because I want Mikey to return. He is more than just Charlie's buddy. He is very intelligent, leads the other kids in creative games, somehow motivates the kids to stay in circle time. His intelligence is contagious.

In the meantime, I stress out about the fact that when he returns, his baby sister will come too. This means...
* I will be "over" on my numbers.
* If I receive a surprise inspection, I am busted.
* My care to the other kids, including my own, will probably be compromised.
* My liability insurance may not cover me if something were to happen.

I realize that I simply cannot be over on my numbers. So I try to decide which child to let go. Many pro/con lists are created. Daycare children are scrutinized for compatability factors. Fellow daycare provider friends are consulted. Head banging ensues. Online advice read feverishly.

If I tell Mikey's mom I cannot accept her baby, I surely will lose Mikey too. And I admit to myself that he is my favorite. And tied for second place are all the rest. I decide to wait and see.

In the meantime, I hire a manny. He is fabulous. He will work only during the times that I am over. In some ways, it might be easier for me to be over, because it allows me to hire him.

I have two test-runs with manny. His fabulousness is further confirmed.

I start to do math. Even after paying manny, I will be bringing in enough extra money to upgrade our old car to a newer van, I will start contributing to an IRA, we have cell phones again, and I can build up the savings account that I depleted during Mom's maternity leave. And, when I need a new pair of jeans, I will not feel guilty for buying them. Yes, things will be good.

Fast forward to this week. Daycare mom and I talk about Mikey and Charlie being in the same preschool class this coming September. It will only be two days per week, 4 hours per day. I suddenly realize by the way she is talking that she expects a rate reduction.

I tell her I don't do part-time rates. I mean, really, what are the chances that someone will call me and need care for Monday and Wednesday from 9am-12pm? Zilch. And why should I have to take an income hit because she chose preschool? Or, getting to the heart of the matter, why should I take an income hit because she now has two kids and doesn't think two should cost more than one? I won't. A lot of people don't take part-time kids, and I don't either.

Today she says, rather casually, that come September, she is looking at other options. Like maybe a nanny.

I am an idiot. I went through all this, and in 6 months she will pull her two kids, leaving me not one, but two spots to fill?

I am angry. I am so, so angry. Obviously, when I agreed to lose $800, I did it with the expectation that her children would be more long-term.

And obviously I can't require her to sign a long-term, I-will-be-with-you-forever-amen contract.

So if she is looking out for herself, then I must do the same. And I have thought of talking to her, but honestly, I feel I can't trust her anymore. This is the second time that a threat was made by her and later rescinded. I cannot keep her two kids and wait, nervously, for her to give me notice. Her spot's been advertised.

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I have a dream
I am trying to prepare for next week’s multicultural awareness week in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday. This is a little tough with two- and three-year-olds, being that I’m not sure they are ready to talk about treatment of African Americans pre 1960s, getting shot, or picketing. So I am focusing instead on the general concept of diversity, loving one another, and looking beyond appearances. I checked out some great books about animals from different species who have become friends in spite of their differences. I have a globe and books about different cultures, how they live, and the foods they eat. I printed some coloring pages of kids holding hands, and plan to buy some “skin color” Crayolas. I bought some rainbow happy faces because, I don’t know, they seemed pretty cool. So my theme for next week is almost complete.

Me: Jerry, can you help me think of a TV show or movie that I can Tivo which highlights people of different backgrounds learning to get along together?
Jerry: Yeah, The Office.


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Fortune Cookies
Last night after eating sweet and sour chicken and edamame, Charlie, Jerry and I opened our fortune cookies. Mine said:

The Happiest Circumstances
Are Close to Home

Charlie broke his open and anxiously handed it to me for reading.

You Are Entering A Time
Of Great Promise
And Overdue Rewards.

He frowned. No, no. The home one. Read the home one. I read it again.

The Happiest Circumstances
Are Close to Home

Yes, that one. Close to, to Home.

It made me think about how much Charlie loves being at home. There have been days this winter that we have been stuck inside for four days straight. Then the roads will clear a little, Jerry will come home from work, and I will announce that I am going to Safeway or the mall or some other horribly boring place, and that I won’t be back for a long long time, because I need to see walls that I haven’t already been staring at for what seems like months. And I’ll invite Charlie to come, and he will decline, stating that he wants to stay home.

Home... The place with piles of laundry in the hallway at all times, that smells like dirty diapers more often than it should, that always has piles of papers on the stairs waiting to be carried upstairs.

But for Charlie, home is the place associated with familiarity. The thing which is often boring to an adult is most comforting to a toddler. And I'm glad that in spite of my failure to become domestic in any way, he loves his home.

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I was calling our babysitter on the phone, Jessica. Not the old Jessica, who is 100% sweet but a bit on the shy side and who Charlie can't stand, but the new Jessica, who is outgoing and he seems to like...
Charlie: No, I don't want Jessica!
Me: It's the new Jessica, not the old Jessica.
Charlie: Oh. I don't want the other Jessica.
Me: Was she mean?
Charlie: Yes.
Me: What did she say?
Charlie: Mean words.
Me: What words?
Charlie (looking at the dishwasher): Um, dryer.
Me: Dryer?
Charlie: Yes. Dryer. Buttons.
Me: She talked about the dryer buttons? Did she kick the dryer?
Charlie: Yes.
Me: Are you fibbing?
Charlie: No, Jessica is fibbing.

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And this is where my idiocy is proven
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I continued to have sick days and restless nights thinking about my mom reading my blog. And then I sent an email to Stat Counter, just to make sure I was actually interpreting their data right. And I found out that I wasn't.

Data is sorted by a project ID number that becomes part of the code that you generate and install into your site. If you placed the same code into two different websites, Statcounter will send all data to one project.
StatCounter Team

Statcounter will send all data to one project. Statcounter will send all data to one project. I read it again. All data to one project. So yes, it was my mom who I had e-spied upon, and it was her who checked pretty often and stayed long. But it was to my other web site. Idiot.

But the nagging feeling continued. The problem was not just my mom.

This was a wake-up call for me. I watch people's children for a living, and when I have a stressful day, I blog about their kids at night. It is so tempting to do this, as they provide the perfect blogging material. They say funny things, they have crazy tantrums, they act as if they are the center of the universe. They are cute and horrid all at once. How can I not write about them?

Their parents pay me good money to care for them. And implicit in this agreement is the understanding that I shouldn't really talk shit about them behind their backs. And I knew this, but the little nagging voice that told me so was kind of a bummer. So I ignored him.

Anyway. My blog is now private. I am humbled. I really feel horrible.

So I am back to my original goal of 6 months ago when I started this blog: just looking at the ordinary cuteness that kids do, blogging about that, and saving the serious stuff for my counselor.

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The worst feeling in the world.

I love my privacy. I have always kept journals. In periods of my life that I did not journal or blog, I wrote detailed notes (or emails, post 1997) to my girlfriends. I have always needed to talk about tiny aspects of my life in great detail, and be validated either by the talking process, or by the feedback I received. And I've always had friends who I could trust to keep my secrets, and journals that had the perfect hiding spot.

Which is why I now love to blog. Yes, I see the irony. With the potential of hundreds of perfect strangers reading it (or, er, maybe 8 if I am lucky), I should hate the blogging process, but I don't. Maybe it's because I don't currently get paid to write, which means I don't have those ocassional ego boosts ("hey, great job on that last piece.") Knowing that others are reading my blog and returning to read more, even if a month or more later, is a nice form of validation.

Yet, there are certain people who I don't want to read my blog. Like my mother-in-law, because she would hate any perceived critique of her son. Or my mom, who would disapprove of lots of things. Or mybrother-in-law, who would surely criticize many technical shortfallings. Now that I think of it, I would prefer that no family members read my blog.

Which is why I have been freaking out the last few days.

I installed Stat Counter to my blog, mostly so that I could see how long people stayed, which sites they went to next, where they came from, what search terms they used (in a nutshell: I am nosey). My freaking out came into play when I read the following:
66-23x-4x-1x8.starstream.net (Xo Communications)
State, City of Mom, United States, 17 returning visits
January 3rd 2007
12:09:40 PM
No referring link.
... and so on, 17 times in one day.

The only people who know of my other web site (basically a baby book online, not really a creative outlet) are my family members and close friends who care enough to read the boring kid updates. But the only people who know about Red Rollerskate are people I've not yet met, plus a few close friends. Yet, someone was visiting my family blog, and then coming to this one. And that certain someone lived in City of Mom, State. And that certain someone was also interested enough to visit 17 times in one day. And that someone had Starstream.

Each time I was awakened that night, whether by Will or by my own thoughts, I thought of what she could have (did) read. A sampling:
"Maybe it is because I still have a fucking cold that has moved down into my chest..."
"Or maybe it is xxxx and the fucking four hours of tantrums that got me in a shitty mood..."
"Why are they bringing this child? All offices are closed. The fucking freeway is closed."
"Being the mom that she is, she thought and thought and thought and then she thought some more about..."
"Boob Stress Reliever."
"Gentlemen's Willy Care Kit"
"Dolly the Inflatable Sheep"
"My parents have been here for one week, and it's been pleasant as can be. So far, no buying recommendations other than sink stopper and tub to wash dishes in because of absence of sink stopper. I'm dumbfounded. Besides the blaringly loud TV and occasional right-wing talk, I couldn't be happier. Odd."
[Pictures of Kuma Sutra Cards] "Married 8 years."
"ITMFA Awesome."

And this is where I want my cake and to eat it too (I hate this saying. Who doesn't want both?) I only enjoy blogging if it contains some element of naughtiness, no matter how lame. The occassional cussword kinda feels good (especially after a day of toddler talk). Venting about mom and other family members is a bit of a necessity.

Yet, I want these feelings to be 100% confidential from certain people. Knowing that my mom had read my most personal feelings made me feel sick, even though we are close. I did not like the feeling that she was saying, "oooooh, this is how she does this. Interesting." That night I dreamed that she went into her garage where I keep all my childhood stuff in a box, pulled out my Trapper Keeper, and read my 4th grade diary. And I threw up in my mouth a little.

To be continued...

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A change of pace.
Is her goal to keep me on my toes?
I open the door, she is sweet. She says hello. She puts her shoes and coat away. She asks the other kids to play. Her hair is cute. She is wearing pink. She smiles at me.
Well, I guess anything is possible with a two-year-old.

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Charlie: Boys have a penis, and girls have a bagilla.

Charlie: Mommy, where are my boobies?
Me: You don't have boobies because you are a boy.
Charlie: But what are these thingies?
Me: Those are your nipples.
Charlie: Noooooo... they are buttons.

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