After my first date with my husband (the first time he took me out to dinner--not when I met him in a drunken haze at the bar), I was pretty darn sure that he was "the one". I had that certainty--I just felt right.
That just hasn't been my experience in looking for a day care center for Ella when I return to work in less than a month now. When I was pregnant with her, I read all the timelines about securing a place in a center before she arrives. So back in July, my husband and I spent an afternoon driving around town and thought that we found one that we liked. But we never filed the paperwork or paid the deposit--I guess I just wasn't 100% convinced that it was "the one". My major concern with that center--it was 10 minutes beyond my work, resulting in more time in the car and less quality time with Ella. So last week we checked out another facility that is part of a larger chain. This chain has a facility on campus near where I work, but they only have 5 spaces for infants, and are always full--but they suggested that we start at one of their other facilities and then Ella could transfer there when she was one. So we checked out the other facility that was accepting infants, and it was nice enough. But again, I just wasn't 100% convinced it was "the one" either. My major concern with that center--the price. It was $25 a week more expensive than the other facility; and again, it was a bit out of the way. We were still tempted to do it, if it meant sacrificing the time and the money for the next nine months so that Ella could be closer to me when she turns one. But it still just didn't feel right.
So I headed into town this week to check out a few more centers. There were two that I knew of that were just out of the way from my regular route to campus. The first was definitely cheaper than either of the two that we had thought we had settled on, but the place spelled like pork and beans. The director was very friendly, but it just didn't feel right--even though it was the cheapest and most convenient that we had yet to find. Even if it made my life easier, I wasn't willing to subject Ella to sub-par standards.
So on to the second location a further down the road. My husband and I had actually pulled into the parking lot and "judged the book by the cover"--but never actually went in. Looking back, I sure wish that we had. When I did go in this time, the first thing that I noticed was children's art projects all over the wall--something I don't remember seeing at the other locations. It looks like the facility was formerly a large office building that was renovated to become a day care center--which I think explains why my husband and I initially stuck up our noses at it. From the outside, it just didn't fit our idea of what a day care center should look like. But inside, as cheesy as it sound, I could really feel the love. The director was a bit older, but was very kind as she escorted me to the infant room, which is currently towards the back of the building but is soon moving to a new location when they finish some renovations. But it allowed me to see the whole center and get a feel for the whole operation. When we stopped momentarily in the two-year old room, they all wanted to see the baby, so I knelt down with Ella...and then they all wanted to kiss the baby, at which point I tried to stand back up, but a little boy was hugging me from behind! I told you there was a lot of love in the place! There are currently five babies in the infant room, and though state law dictates a 1:5 ratio of care givers to babies, I was impressed that they had two workers in the room, thus creating a 1:2.5 ratio. The director explained that they try to keep the ratio at 1:3, when possible (and my visit was just a drop-by, so they couldn't have possibly "staged" an extra worker, so I take her at her word). The kids seem happy and well adjusted. The current youngest one is five months, but she gave us a huge smile when we arrived. Another little girl--probably close to nine months--fell through the big foam blocks that she was leaning on, but just looked up in surprise and crawled over to the carpet area to play--no tears or fussiness. They support breastfeeding, and are even willing to prepare the bottles for me as long as I sanitize them every night. This means that I can even bring in frozen milk in the storage bags for the entire week and they'll handle defrosting them and everything. They won't, however, handle cloth diapers (but that's a whole different post). They give a 10% discount to university employees, which makes their prices very reasonable (only $9 a week more than the frank-and-beans location). It's a little bit out of my way, but it's still "en route to" instead of "beyond" my work--I'll just have to do a little investigating to find which is the quickest way through campus. I want my husband to check it out with me one more time before we decide for sure, but I think that, maybe...possibly...finally, we may have found "the one"!
One more thing today--please continue to pray for my friend Nina who is going in for surgery today to have her thyroid removed. I shared a couple of weeks ago that when she was pregnant, Nina found a lump on her thyroid that turned out to be cancerous. It did not harm the baby, so she carried him to full term, and then gave birth (via c-section) just before Thanksgiving. She has had the last couple of weeks to recover and prepare for today's surgery. Please keep her and her family in your prayers for a safe surgery and a speedy recovery.
Today's blessing is a day to stay home with Ella and bake cheesecakes. I love baking, and I love sharing my creations with friends and family. Some women from church are coming over on Saturday for some cheesecake, tea, fellowship, and girl-time, so I plan to have four cheesecakes: Brownie, Pumpkin, Peanut Butter (with mini chocolate-covered peanut butter cups), and Blueberry. I've never made a Brownie Cheesecake, but it was the request of my very-dear friend...and it's her birthday that day, so it should be interesting to try it out.