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Archive for May, 2009

Flight or fight?

I talked to C- Wednesday night for the first time since I picked Autumn up from her house last Friday. I wanted to see if she was going to be around so that we could bring Autumn by for a visit. It was kind of a strange phone call. I asked how things were and she told me she hadn’t heard anything else from the state but that she had just put her house on the market. She didn’t want to wind up in foreclosure and ruin her credit, so she decided to be proactive.

The strange part of the call came when she told me about finding another job, or rather how she doesn’t want to look for another job right now because she doesn’t know if she’ll “be going to court or jail or what.” I’m pretty much quoting verbatim here.

After I picked Autumn up from C-‘s house last Friday, it took about a day before I started to suspect we weren’t being told the whole story. Everything happened very quickly and the state never talked to any of the other parents. It just seems odd to me.

As we wrapped up the call, C- told me she had gathered up all her daycare stuff and put it in the garage to prepare for a yard sale. I offered to pick some things up to sell at our garage sale this weekend. She said she wasn’t going to be around last night but that she could leave the garage door unlocked and we could pick up whatever she had priced.

I drove over around 8:00 with Autumn in tow. I was saddened to see the realtor sign stuck in her yard as I approached the house. She chose the cockiest realtor in town (a guy who puts up a sign that says, “Too late…Big John sold another one!”), but I hope he does the job for her.

The garage door was locked so I opened the gate to the back yard and tried the rear door. It was unlocked, but when I opened the door and stepped in I saw…everything. Tables and tables of toys, blankets, books and videos. Things we had given her that Autumn had grown out of and things I knew Autumn had grown fond of over the years. It was all there and all priced to sell.

I am still one hundred percent convinced that Autumn received nothing but excellent care while she was with C-, but as I stood in her garage amongst what was left of her business, it finally occured to me what has been nagging at me this past week. This is someone who’s not putting up a fight. She’s not fighting to keep her business, her clients or her house. I guess if it were me and I was was losing everything because of a misunderstanding, I’d be doing everything I could to hold on to what I have.

But she’s not. She’s getting rid of it all and I’m left wondering why.

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Homemade

For several years now there have been at least two or three pregnant women in my office at one time. I was part of the cycle once and we now have six women in varying stages of gestation, one of them carrying twins. I used to crochet baby afghans for them, but after I had Autumn I found it hard to keep up.

I did manage to make one baby afghan the year after Autumn was born. That one was special. Up until I made it I had always stuck to three unimaginative color schemes; blue for boy, pink for girl and teal for those who didn’t want to know the gender before birth. The last afghan, however, was for a woman I knew to be very particular and her pregnancy was special to me because her due date was right around Autumn’s first birthday. The possibility of her daughter being born on my daughter’s birthday thrilled me and I wanted to make her an afghan unlike one I had made before. So I let her pick her own colors.

The end result was beautiful and I gave it to the woman at a shower one late summer afternoon as we sat on her deck under the sun. She oohed and ahhed and complimented my work, saying she couldn’t believe I had accomplished such a feat with a baby of my own and a full-time job. What I didn’t tell her is that it’s not such a feat when you’re excited about what you’re creating and who you’re creating it for.

I’ve made several afghans since then, larger ones as wedding gifts and Christmas gifts, but I haven’t made a baby afghan since hers, which is a shame because I don’t talk to the woman anymore. I ran into her sporadically over the next year, but her shower was the last time we sat down and enjoyed each other’s company. By the time her daughter’s first birthday rolled around, which happened to be the day before Autumn’s second birthday, we were pretty much strangers to each other.

That dissolved relationship may have something to do with why I haven’t made a baby afghan since, but it really has more to do with just not having the time or the desire to make the time. But lately I’ve been getting a tickle in my brain that said I should start again and the tickling grew in intensity until I found myself in Michael’s pulling skeins of yarn from the shelves.

Sometimes I wonder if these keepsakes are treasured or simply stowed away in a drawer only to be pulled out during spring cleaning. Do the people who received one of my afghans remember the person who made it or do they struggle to recall my handiwork amongst the patchwork of homemade gifts they received before their children were born? I’d like to think they do remember me, and regardless of where we stand now, I hope they can look at the afghan and know that at one time I cared enough to make something special for them.

So I’m in the middle of a new project now because I need to make at least one more afghan. If I never make another after this, I need to make at least this one so that I have a pleasant memory of creating that special something for someone who wasn’t expecting it at all. Those are the kinds of gifts I love to give.

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A new beginning

First day of school

This is my little girl standing in our driveway before her first day of school yesterday. I think every parent has this exact picture tucked away somewhere. Maybe the kid isn’t wearing a yellow skirt or holding a tattered old Spongebob Squarepants blanket, but the grin and the palpable excitement are pretty much the same.

Autumn had a blast yesterday. I was told she fit right in and got along well with everyone and I couldn’t be happier. I knew she’d do well because she loves being around other kids. She said all the ladies are nice because they pushed her on the swing and gave her a Dora tattoo.

One thing I’ve learned about life is that things are rarely settled. You can plan and make decisions based on an end goal, but life rarely travels in the straight line you imagined in your head. You don’t get from point A to point B without taking detours through Q and K. That’s just the way it is and you had better get used to writing those plans down in pencil.

Change can be a good thing, and while the transition from daycare to preschool did not go as I had originally planned, I know without a doubt that Autumn can only benefit from getting started three months early.

And now that she’s in school? I’m shaking my head and wondering what happened to this little girl…

Seriously. Where did she go?

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A reluctant goodbye

So this post was going to be about the “Grey’s Anatomy” finale and how I’m hating Shonda Rhimes for leaving us with such a cliffhanger. But now it’s not, because it’s the middle of the day on a Friday and I’m home with my daughter because our daycare provider lost her license today.

The call was waiting for me when I got into work. I’m losing my license and you have to pick up Autumn right away, she said. She was crying as she explained what the state’s reasons were for shutting her down (none of them having to do with suspected abuse) and told me she was sorry.

Autumn was the only child there when I arrived at the house. She was sitting on the couch looking concerned as C- stood in the kitchen trying to keep herself together. I gave C- a hug and told her I was sorry. I didn’t know what else to say. Autumn joined us and C- gave her a big hug. “I love you so much,” she said and then asked us to leave. It was not how I planned to say goodbye to the woman who’s been watching my daughter for three years.

What I wanted more than anything at that moment was to cry on my mom’s shoulder, but she was at work and I wasn’t about to disrupt her day with tears and a hungry grandchild. So I chose the next best thing and went to my best friend’s house. She offered me coffee and comfort and was just there for me as Autumn had some fun playing with her boys.

But really, I am the one who’s suffering the least in this situation. I’ve already made arrangements for Autumn to start at a great place on Monday (the same place where she was going to start preschool in the fall), the tuition for which is only $20 a week more than what we were paying for daycare.

But then there’s Autumn, who has asked multiple times already why C- doesn’t want to watch her anymore. I’ve assured her that C- loves her very much and that she would love to keep watching her if she could. I tried to explain rules and how C- got into trouble for not following all the rules she should have but Autumn doesn’t understand. It breaks my heart.

Then there’s C- herself, who now finds herself unemployed in Michigan. I’m so worried about her and what she’s going to do to for income. She indicated more than once she was just barely making ends meet with the few clients she had. She’s 51 years-old and has been working out of her home for fifteen years. How do you enter the workforce after that?

But let’s not forget the woman who caused this whole mess, this other parent who decided to go directly to the state instead of being an adult and opening up a dialog with C- about whatever concerns she had about her daughter’s care. Now one woman has lost her livelihood and four families, all of whom had been with C- for years, have lost a wonderful caregiver.

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Double whammy

Yesterday I received a fraud alert from our bank regarding a credit card we haven’t used in about a year. We had a zero balance but didn’t close the account because it served as overdraft protection for our checking account. Somehow someone got hold of the number and used it for one transaction. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it’s still not something we want to pay. The fraud rep said it was most likely a test charge meant to determine if the number was valid. Since we hadn’t used the card in over a year, that one charge prompted them to freeze the account and alert us. So I guess not all banks are born of Satan, but I’ll reserve judgment until I actually see the charge removed from the card.

Then today I found out my daycare provider is being investigated for abuse. The allegation is preposterous and completely unfounded, but the woman claiming the abuse has called the state and the rest of the parents have been given notice. Right now our provider watches several children part-time and only a couple full-time (one of them being Autumn). The mother of the other full-timer is the one making the accusation and the rest of us are dumbfounded. How anyone could charge this woman with hurting a child is beyond us. She’s been watching my daughter for three years and I’ve never, EVER felt as though Autumn wasn’t being treated well. As a mother who has been known to feed her daughter popcorn for dinner, I can tell you I’ve often felt as though I wasn’t living up to the standards our provider set during the day. While she can get Autumn to behave with a certain glance or tone of voice, we have to resort to withholding TV and bribing the kid with Fig Newtons and fruit snacks.

The really sad thing is I think our daycare provider is done. I asked her what she was going to do and she said she’s considering getting out of the daycare business altogether. She’s lost clients to this crappy economy (because people without jobs don’t need daycare for their kids) and knows she’s losing Autumn in September. She told me her license is up for renewal in August and thinks it might be best to just move on to something else.

There’s really not much to say about this other than I have no idea what’s going to happen. Whatever the outcome, it appears Autumn’s time with her “daytime mommy” will be drawing to a close sooner than we had anticipated.

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Making memories

On a Sunday morning the year I was pregnant, Nathan and I were heading to his parents’ house in our old Chrysler Cirrus, a car that had automatic windows. Both of our windows were down a touch and Nathan reached to the console to raise his. Except he didn’t raise his window. He raised mine, trapping several fingers that were lazily dangling in the breeze.

The pain was excruciating and I screamed. Nathan freaked, lowered the window and pulled over to the side of the road. I was almost sure the fingers were broken and I alternated between sobs of pain and furiuous growls as I bitched out my husband for being so careless. After the pain subsided, we determined that the fingers weren’t broken and all was forgiven. It was an accident, after all.

And that was my very first Mother’s Day.

May yours be pain-free.

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A couple of weeks ago Nathan noticed some robins had built a nest right outside our front door. And I’m talking RIGHT outside. The nest is perched on a concrete ledge about five feet off the ground where any man or beast can easily access it or just be really intrusive with her camera.

I’m trying not to disturb them too much because mom and dad robin get really pissed off whenever we get too close. They fly from the trees to the roof and back again, bitching us out with their frantic chirps.

There were originally four eggs. The first hatched on Tuesday and two more hatched on Wednesday. The fourth has yet to hatch and I’m starting to doubt it will. But then again I’m not a bird expert so we could be in for a surprise.

Autumn is fascinated with the birds as am I. I’ve never seen such young robins before and dang are they ugly. They’re cute-ugly in a way because they’re so new and vulnerable. Spreaking of which, I’ve become quite protective of the nest and got nervous when the paper kid came to the front door to collect yesterday. I was about to go all Ellen Ripley on him and scream, “Get away from them, you BITCH!” until I realized he only wanted a dollar.

Hopefully the nest will remain unmolested so that the family can mature and part ways once the hatchlings learn to fly.

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