Wednesday, August 26, 2009

That totally pissed me off - my very long vent

While driving the boys to their new daycare on Monday morning, I received a text message from a friend. It simply said, "Good thing you are starting your new Daycare, your old one closed."

"What?", I thought to myself as I read it, and then typed back, "ha ha, thanks!". I thought she was just trying to make me feel better. From my previous post, you know about the enormous amount of guilt I carried around with me all weekend for switching daycare centers.

But, the unbelievable had happened on Saturday. Our Daycare, that we purposely left on Friday as our last day, just shut their doors, and called all 95 remaining families and let them know that they wouldn't have a daycare center on Monday.

Holy Hell.

I was dumbfounded. I knew they were having financial issues - that was obvious, and why we left. But how this was handled, just infuriates me to NO END, and I'm having a VERY hard time getting over it.

I've cried more this week than I have in months. I've cried at home, in the car, and best of all, at work. It makes me SO MAD that this woman that ran this daycare for 9 years could be so entirely IRRESPONSIBLE with all of our money, and literally drove the place into the ground - and without telling ANYONE (including ANY of the staff!), just up and closed the doors.

What breaks my heart the most is knowing that the staff didn't get to say goodbye. Like I said in my previous post - they said goodbye to Tyler and Connor. Tyler got a card, and Connor got some cars. Those ladies had no idea that after that day, would they not only not see Tyler and Connor anymore -but they wouldn't see any of "their" kids.

It pissed me off that the owner would not call anyone and explain, and simply put an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper on the door apologizing for what happened. Then had all of the STAFF (that had no idea hours previous) call the parents, and from what I heard from most, the staff were in tears as they tried to explain the unexplainable to the parents. Some of those parents had entrusted the center to take care of their kids for years, some of them having been there for 11 years- before it was even owned by this owner, with all of their children.

It then got better when it was announced that parents could pick up their kids belongings from 7-10am on Monday, and then weren't let in the center - but were just met by volunteers (that no one knew - we assume they were her friends), and the volunteers sifted through the stuff inside that we also assume the caring staff had to pack up over the weekend.

It infuriated me to find the DHS report that was posted on the internet, that no one knew about. Numerous complaints were filed with DHS in July, and they made a surprise visit to the center in mid-August. My kids were napping there that day, as the DHS agent walked around and noted more than 10 violations. Nice. Everything from broken toilets, to carpets that hadn't been cleaned in 7-9 months. Yes, I said months. Imagine over 100 kids tromping around on a carpet for months without cleaning it. Because of the color - it didn't look dirty on the surface to us, but if you wiped a white cloth along the top, black stuff came off. Oh - and a toilet overflowed in May and soaked the carpet. It never got cleaned. That is disgusting. I have since viewed DHS's website and their 208 page document that outlines all of the daycare rules. I recommend anyone that uses a sitter/daycare to read it. Very interesting. I didn't even know some of those rules, WERE rules...

It infuriates me that we supported this center for over four and a half years, participating in their fundraisers, and attending their socials. Buying books from their bookfair, and giving them toys that were didn't use anymore. What made me totally burst into tears was during one of the newscasts on TV they showed a little red "Cozy Coupe" car sitting on the deserted playground. We gave them that car last summer because the boys never played with it at our house.

It infuriates me that we cared for that center so much. We loved those women more than family, and our kids knew them better than they knew us - and then this had to happen because of the stupid owner. Because of her inability to be honest with anyone, both of my kids lives were turned upside down by being put into a new center where they know no one. Because of her inability to be honest with anyone, 95 ADDITIONAL FAMILIES had their lives totally turned upside down. Because of her inability to be honest with anyone, approximately 25 staff members lives were turned upside down.

I know, this too, shall pass. People have referred to me as the "lucky one" by getting out when we did - just in time. We didn't have to be one of the parents that were crying in the lobby of our new daycare center because they had no place to go, and still couldn't even comprehend what happened.

The boys are settling into their new daycare now, but it hasn't been as easy as I thought. LOTS of tears during "drop-off" in the morning, and Connor's teachers have said his mornings have been "kind-of rough". Connor NEVER had rough mornings - ever. I thought Connor would be the resilient one - but I guess when you're 2, having a change like that and being left with strangers, must be scary. Tyler gets it - but Connor has no idea. Their teachers are awesome though, and Tyler has even started learning Spanish. (Hola Mommy!)

Someday this will be behind us, but it will never be the same. Any memory that I have from Lit'l Russellers going forward, will be jaded. Any good memory that I have, will have this haze of sorrow around it, because of how it all had to end.

(Here is the link to one of the newscasts...)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yep, it was as hard as I thought it would be

I jetted out of class early today so I could meet Kyle and we could go pick up the boys. Today was going to be their last day of daycare, so we wanted to pick them up and take them immediately to Frog Hollow - so they could meet their new daycare classrooms.

All day long I thought about it - actually about how I could get out of it. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do it - because as I sat in class all day, every time I thought about it, my eyes welled up with tears.

Once we reached daycare, I moved fast. I hadn't seen the boys since Monday morning because of school, so I kept my mind focused on getting them. I moved directly to Tyler's room, and Kyle went to Connor's room.

Tyler met me quickly, actually with disappointment. He was hoping to go to Frog Hollow with Daddy, and didn't understand that I was there to go there with as well. Because that conversation involved me assuring him 500 times that we were going, and that kept me even more distracted.

I then moved to their cubbys - which is when I really had to hold back the tears. There were their tiny lockers that they had throughout their time at daycare - where they kept their spare clothes, their blankets, their toys for sharing day, had time out, and hung their coats. They are simple, wooden, open lockers that are just big enough to hold their whole lives.

As I grabbed all of the items out of their cubbys, I just shoved them in bags as fast as I could. I caught glimpses of the notes that teachers had left in there, telling them, and us, goodbye. Connor's teacher even got him a present of Matchbox cars. There were more clothes than I ever remember bringing, just because I never brought them all at once - it was a collection of the years. Water bottles, sunscreen, and even diaper cream that I brought years ago. All there for us to take home.

All of their artwork had been taken down off the walls for us to take home, and Tyler's class all signed a card for him. A going away card from 4 year olds. They had a party for them today too.

Luckily Tyler ran out of the daycare, as he usually does, which meant I had to chase him out into the parking lot so I didn't have to say goodbye to anyone. I'm horrible at goodbyes, and usually end up avoiding them at all costs. I know I shouldn't - but I turn into a big blubbery mess when I have to tell someone goodbye, which actually even surprises me sometimes since I try to be this iron constitution of a personality.

We finally left, and I didn't look back, because I couldn't. I didn't even unpack their bags until just a few minutes ago and found this card...

Staci took care of Tyler for a little while, but spent most of her time with Connor. She had Connor the day he started, and they immediately bonded. "Staci" was one of the first names he learned to say after Mommy and Daddy, and for what I know, he could've said her name first. He sat on her lap during the day, and would also go to her when he wasn't feeling well. She was his mom at daycare.
Although I know Frog Hollow will be beautiful, and a much better Preschool opportunity for them, saying goodbye just breaks my heart.
Lit'l Russellers, you will forever be remembered by us. Your kind hearts, and taking care of our children when they were having good days, or driving you crazy, will never be forgotten.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to School

When I graduated from the University of Iowa in 1997 I said I would never, ever go back to school. Now, 21 months from today, I will have my MBA and I can officially say, I will never go back to school!!!

Starting the Executive MBA program today at the University of Iowa is kind of exciting for me...I have my "backpack" (computer bag) and "lunch box", (purse), and I'll be ready to go!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

They are definitely brothers...

I took this picture a week or so ago while everyone was getting ready in the morning. The boys were laying on the floor watching Playhouse Disney. It wasn't until I looked closely at the picture later, that I noticed just how much my boys look like brothers.

I guess since I have always known them to be so different personality wise, that it is difficult to see just how similar they are too.

Holy Cow. Frozen waffles and all....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm getting a divorce......from my daycare

I knew this wouldn't be easy, but I didn't realize it would be this difficult..... we're leaving our daycare after being there for over 4.5 years.

I remember the day...we started on January 2, 2005. Kyle brought Tyler to his first day of daycare because I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. Tyler had a difficult time at first, because he wasn't the easiest baby. Holy Lord - that kid wanted one on one attention, and wanted it constantly. The ladies at daycare figured out how to work with Tyler, hold him, feed him, play with him, etc., and helped mold him into the person he is today...

That brings us to now. I think our daycare is having financial issues. There have been so many red flags, and things that make you go "hmmmm?", if you know what I mean. This includes, but is not limited to:

1) The computer at the front door being "temporarily out of service" for the last 2 months. This computer controls the security door which has been overridden (which means the front door is open to anyone) for the last two months also.

2) Me asking for our flex spending statement a few weeks ago and getting told, "Um, okay, I'll see what I can do.", then getting a note the next day saying she was 'trying' to recreate it, and would have to call the owner. A week later it appeared in Tyler's cubby with a note saying "I tried to recreate this with what I had, I hope it's correct because I couldn't get ahold of the owner. Let me know if anything is wrong." It was wrong. The lady that is currently the Director of the Center, doesn't know what she's charging me for daycare, and couldn't get ahold of the owner.

3) The true owner stepped down about three months ago to spend more time with her girls (she has 5 girls under 12), but would still remain around in an "advisory mode". Don't know what this means, but we haven't seen her all summer.

4) A bake sale a few weeks ago to buy new toys for the kids to play with outside. Talk about break my heart. I have to buy baked goods in order for my kids to have decent toys to play with outside?

5) I heard, second hand, that one of the vans broke down when bringing the kids home from a baseball game field trip. Since no one told the parents or bothered to notify anyone, one of the parents called DHS. They have been all over our daycare checking to see if there is reliable transportation for the kids.

There have been other things, but they are minor if you look at each thing individually. Look at them all together, and a story starts to come together.

Although I know we need to do this, it's REALLY hard. I've known these women since Tyler started, and they practically raised our children. Spending 50 hours a week with them, when I see them for a couple hours at night, and the weekends. They taught Tyler how to write his name and the alphabet, and pretty much potty trained him.

I feel like this is a divorce. We know we have to part ways because we just don't work together, but we still have many good memories together. And it hurts.

We've found a great new daycare. Beautiful facility that is clean, certified teachers, doesn't close on snow days (TOTAL BONUS!), and has a large gym for the kids to play in when the weather isn't nice outside. This daycare is definitely run like a successful business.

I have a feeling there is going to be a lot more tears about this decision, and those would be mine. I have boxes and boxes of crafts and artwork that the boys have done while in this daycare. I have pictures that the ladies sent home that they took of the boys playing with friends, or the time Tyler fell asleep in his highchair. I think I will cry every time I look in that box from now on.

Those women that have taken care of our kids are amazing. I would like to bring every one of them with we, but I just can't stay there because I like the staff - there has to be some safety and security, and knowing that when I drive up tomorrow there won't be a "closed" sign on the door.

I know this is the right decision that needs to be made now, but it still is breaking my heart.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I was meant to have boys

This weekend was one of the weekends that could easily become a test of my sanity, or my insanity. Kyle golfed in the local City Amateur tournament, which meant he was gone more than he was home. It actually turned out to be a wonderful weekend, because what I've found after "needing" to spend time with my boys, that I get a much better glimpse into their life, and into their souls.

While at my parents yesterday, I was scolding them because they were getting to close to the river. (The Mississippi will just sweep you away!) Instead of continuing to yell, I took them down to the river to appeal to their curiosity. We watched the water, looked at dead fish (yuck!) and picked up shells. It was beautiful.

Today we spent almost every waking moment outside. I have always loved the outside, so as they laughed and played in their pool, I sat in the sun in a lounge chair, and soaked it all in - both their happiness and the sun.

I hate bugs, but today we found some cicada that were barely alive. We caught them in a bucket, and watched their huge bodies climb around. Tyler is almost as scared of them as I am, but he has such a curiosity for everything, it's fun to watch his face. I wish I always carried a camera with me.

Tyler asked me to swim with him in his pool. Keep in mind, I haven't worn a swimsuit since last summer, but I did. I got on my new swimsuit that I bought this summer, ripped the tags off, and jumped in the freezing cold pool. We played, splashed, and I finally got out when I was turning blue. Tyler had such a blast with both of us in the pool.

We played in the dirt today. I pulled weeds, and Tyler helped water my flowers. Connor followed us around and mostly observed. He is as fascinated with Tyler, as I am sometimes.

I love to spend the day watching them work. And by work, I mean think. Their reaction to the world, and their happiness with every minute of me.

And at night - the rougher we play the better. They love the "tickle monster" the best. Their giggles just pierce through your heart, and will sit in my memory of these happy times, forever.