Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not Dead

I swear, we are all alive and well! Busyness and exhaustion have kept us from blogging, but things should be slowing down now.

When I last posted, I was about mid-way through a stint of single motherhood, with M. in Vietnam for work. While he was there, my parents and my sister Stacey came to visit for a few days, and we had a great time. They helped with a few projects around the house - installing shelves in our new office closet, refinishing a light fixture, moving around some furniture, and replacing several of our severely ugly overhead lights that were peppered throughout the house. I definitely felt spoiled. The best part was the fun Finn had - lots of people to shower him with attention, and plenty of quality baseball-watching time with Bumpa (my dad). Baseball is apparently Finn's favorite sport, and every time he sees a TV he asks to watch it (Lord help us when the season ends!). Bumpa was happy to indulge, and we have a little Red Sox fan in the making.

About an hour after Grammy, Bumpa and Auntie Stacey left, M. returned home. Finn woke up from his nap to find his much missed Daddy, and I have never seen him jump up and down in his crib with quite so much excitement.

M. and I spent the next couple of days recovering and trying to help M. figure out what time zone he was in (Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of us), then I took off for the Boston area to visit Mommy Esq and my new niece and nephew. Penny and Ned are adorable and unbelievably small - how soon one forgets the tinyness of newborns! They are already ten times the sleepers Finn was, which makes me very greatful for Mommy Esq and Husband's sakes, but very jealous too! I hope my next baby can take a cue from Penny - that little girl loves to eat and sleep, and really only cries when she's getting her diaper changed.

Today is Sunday, and I have a few more hours here in Boston. Mommy Esq and I are sitting on opposing computers, blogging at the same time. How trendy of us! I hope I have been some help - all the old moves to quiet a fussy baby came right back, and I think I was especially good at getting Ned to catch some zzz's (Penny needs no encouragement in that area). But I do miss Finn a lot - we have been Skyping (talking over the computer with a video camera) every night, and it's both wonderful and hard to see his cute little face from afar. It will be nice to get back to him and M., and return to normal life. More travel is scheduled over the next several weeks for M. and myself, but they are short trips and hopefully Finn will have plenty of opportunity to remember what it's like to live in a two-parent household.

I have some great pictures from our visits with the various members of my family, so expect a photo post soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Apologies and a Quick Update

I've re-read my post from yesterday, and good lord I hope I didn't bore anyone. It's way too long, and I apologize! Can you tell that even though I am for the most part quite happy about working full time and having Finn in daycare, a small part of me feels guilty? And leads me to obsess about the care and education my son is receiving on a daily basis?

Finn is still having some issues adjusting to his new room, but nothing serious enough to chronicle (at least for now!). On to other topics. Today marks day 3 of my single mommy-hood. M. left for Vietnam on Sunday afternoon. He cannot call me from his cell phone (no service there), but he has e-mailed me several times, and let me know that he has safely arrived in Hanoi. Tonight, we talked over our computers using Skype - it was great to hear his voice (the connection was so clear!), and we arranged for the call to happen while Finn was still awake. He is definitely missing his daddy - he asks for him as soon as I walk in his room in the morning, and even though I tell him his daddy is on a trip, he insists that Daddy is downstairs waiting for him. However, he does know that Daddy left in his car to go on an airplane (though sometimes he insists that Daddy is on the choo-choo instead). I'm pretty sure he thinks M. is going to be on an airplane this whole week - we haven't mastered the concept of what a trip actually is yet.

Honestly, the time is flying by pretty quickly, and at this rate M. will be home in no time. My days and nights have been busy - as soon as I get Finn fed, bathed and in to bed, I spend my time each night doing the regular chores (cleaning the kitchen, packing my lunch) and the "extra" chores that need to get done before my visitors arrive on Thursday. Tonight, for example, I swept and mopped the front hall and the kitchen, and cleaned Finn's bathroom. Then I drag myself into the shower and blow dry my hair before hitting the hay - it's far easier to do that stuff at night than the early morning, where I'm either tiptoe-ing around, trying desperately not to wake up Finn while I hurry through a shower, or trying to juggle the need to get ready for work with Finn's demands for book reading and any number of other types of attention.

Thursday afternoon my mom, dad and sister Stacey are coming for a visit. They are coming to keep us company, help us get a couple of projects done around the house (install shelves in the new office closet, change the look of some light fixtures by painting them), and maybe do a little retail therapy. Should be fun! My mom has a nice camera, so hopefully I will be able to share some nice pictures of Finn next week.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome to the 2-Year-Old Room

As I have alluded in a previous post or two, Finn has just been transitioned to the 2-year-old room at daycare. I have found transitions in general to be stressful. Our daycare center does not provide a "transition plan," and there is no effort made to introduce you to the teachers in the new room or tell you what goes on inside it.

When Finn was moved from the infant room to the toddler room, I knew it was coming, and part of me was looking forward to it. Never great at napping with the lights on and other babies awake around him, I was convinced that the "everyone naps at the same time with the lights out" philosophy of the toddler room would work wonders for Finn's napping abilities at school (it did). However, the transition was still not without stress. Finn was randomly moved over to his soon-to-be new toddler room without advance warning to "test it out." Instead of doing it gradually (an hour here or there), he was basically put there all day, a surprise to me when I picked him up at the end of the day. The director of the daycare assured me that Finn did great and was soooo happy. But the second I saw him, he started to cry. And. did. not. stop. Clearly, his day in this new environment was not without effect on him, and he had been saving up all his discomfort to express to me.

The transition to the toddler room happened pretty quickly. Eventually, I came to know the teachers (the main ones, anyway - there are still a few "floaters" that remain nameless, unfortunately), and I came to know the routine of the room. They came to know my preferences, too. I had only four "rules" at the time. 1) Finn was on reflux meds, which we were trying to give before dinner on an empty stomach, so no snacks after 4 pm. 2) No juice allowed (for some reason, the daycare gives juice at breakfast, but Finn gets milk instead because for god's sake, 1-year olds need their milk, not juice!). 3) The pacifier is for naps only. 4) No hotdogs allowed (come one, can't they find SOMETHING more nutritious to feed these kids? Plus, hello, choking hazard!). After a couple of days of rough naps, Finn settled in to the routine nicely, and quickly grew to love his classroom and friends. Similar to the infant room, the toddler room has a teacher:child ratio of 1:3, so I knew he was always getting lots of attention. The hardest part was giving up my daily lunchtime visits (as now Finn naps during my lunchtime), but we have both survived.

As Fall neared this year, and all the kids that were older than Finn gradually disappeared from the toddler room, moving across the hall to no man's land, I knew our time was coming to move again. Though legally our daycare center is required to keep Finn at a ratio of 1:3 until he turns 2, the center is always playing a "numbers game," and tends to jump the gun if it works well for their space issues. I was adamant that Finn not be moved too early, and I made a point to tell the director to ask me before Finn started "visiting" the 2-year-old room. I wanted to know before the transition was initiated, so I could determine if I felt comfortable with it.

You might be wondering, what's the big deal? But to a 22-month old, entering a room of 12 kids, some of whom are nearing 3 years old and can talk waaaayyyy better than he can, with only 2 teachers to keep an eye on everyone, it could be quite a big deal. I worried about Finn being bitten or hit. I worried about Finn LEARNING to bite and hit, because he can't communicate any other way with these comparative elocutionists. And of course, I worried about my baby growing up way too fast :-(. Which of course he isn't, so I tried not to let that worry influence my decisions.

As requested, the director did tell me ahead of time when they would like to start to transition Finn. She described a plan for me. Finn would "visit" for three days or so in the afternoon, for a couple of hours after nap time, the second to last week of August. He would continue to visit the next week, and then be officially moved on September 2nd. This sounded reasonable to me. Finn would be 6-weeks shy of his second birthday, so not too far off the 2-year-old mark. More comforting was the fact that two of Finn's friends, the twins who are 4 days older and have been with him in daycare since March 2007, were moving over just before Finn. He would have lots of friends, most of whom aren't too much older than him, that he still remembered from their time in the toddler room. And, we had an actual plan! So, I agreed, and made plans to meet with one of Finn's new teachers to find out the ins and outs of the new room.

Plan, schman! The day following my conversation with the director, I picked up Finn only to discover that he had been in the 2-year-old room, all day long. And again, I got the "he had soooo much fun, he loved it" speech. And again, the second Finn saw me, he started crying. And. would. not. stop. Needless to say, I was furious. I could go on and on about how this is no way to run a business, that they should be following my wishes and not what they "perceive" to be my son's wishes, that he shouldn't have been in the room in the first place since we weren't starting the switch until the next week, that any idiot knows that kids save their unhappy expressions for the people they are most comfortable with and just because they aren't crying around YOU doesn't mean they are HAPPY.... but this post is already too long.

To sum up, I spoke to the director (again), and reaffirmed that we would stick to "the plan." Said plan was executed, and Finn is now an official member of the 2-year-old room. I know his new teachers, and I am learning the routine of the room. I have fewer rules this time, as the menu has been changes (no more hotdogs on it) and Finn no longer takes reflux meds. I also apparently don't need to have the "pacifier is for naptime only" rule, since in the 2-year-old room they do not give the kids pacifiers at naptime unless the parents specifically ask for it. I bring one in every day just in case, but knock on wood, they haven't had to use it yet. Thus, "no juice" is our only rule. New things Finn will be working on in his big boy room include potty training (at this point they will not push, just offer, until he nears the transition to the 3-year-old room) and drinking from big boy cups. I'm sure there's a lot more he will learn, and as the year goes on I will find out all about it.

Last week, Finn spent 3 full days in his new room. Each day, he whined and cried in the car on the way home, but each day the whining and crying got less and less. Hopefully, today we will be back to happy car rides home. The morning drop off is still painful, however - the transition is apparently harshest in the morning, when Finn clings to me and cries as I try to leave him in these unfamiliar surroundings (he never used to do this, ever). From what some of the other moms have said, the "not crying in the morning" takes a little longer to achieve, but it does happen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Big Boy Surprise

No blogging about Finn's first official day in the two-year-old room because he's home sick today. He took a turn for the worse with the hand-foot-mouth disease, and spent several hours crying yesterday afternoon. The sores in his mouth were bothering him quite a bit, and eating and drinking was quite difficult for him. Today seems to be going better - he's downed a couple of glasses of milk already, and ate a decent breakfast and lunch. The real clue will be naptime, I think - he's been averaging a less than 1 hour nap the last 5 or 6 days, way below the norm. We're already at an hour and a half today, and no noises over the monitor yet. Here's hoping this means he really is feeling better!

The big news today is that Finn has suddenly taken an interest in potty training! I don't know whether to be happy or not about this :-). Honestly, changing diapers is not that hard, and it's easier to clean a dirty diaper than a dirty couch/pair of pants/underwear etc when potty training accidents happen. But I am going with his interest, and encouraging him to "pee-pee on the potty." His first time was last night, just before dinner. I was changing his diaper, and he didn't want me to put the clean one on. He cried, and in trying to figure out what was wrong, I asked him if he wanted to go pee-pee in the potty. He said yes, I plopped him on (we have one of those little seats that sits on top of a regular toilet), brought in a book to read to him, and to both our surprise he eventually peed. Then peed again. And then again. He keep peeing in little amounts, I think because he would get so interested in what was happening that he would stop himself. I praised him a lot, and he was so proud of himself! His big grin was adorable. We cleaned up and ran downstairs to tell M., and Finn got a little bit of ice cream (one of his favorite foods, and nice on his throat right now) as a reward. What a big boy!

He's been about 4 more times since then, and each time he has asked to go. The second time was last night, during our bedtime routine. Part of me suspects that he was just trying to prolong his bedtime, but he definitely did have to go... He's still peeing in his diaper, too, but I'm not expecting miracles overnight. Finn didn't want me to put his diaper at one point (I, of course, put it on anyway), so we may be running out to buy some Pull-Ups later today. Ready or not (and I don't think I'm ready), I guess we're officially potty training! Tips are welcome from any of you experienced parents out there.