Social Experiment

Oh, hello. I’ve been busy doing nothing in any way, shape, or form related to the eight years I spent studying writing. Other than applying, interviewing, and being rejected for jobs that are somehow related to writing, college, universities, or teaching in the past seven months or so. 

A couple of weeks ago I performed a little experiment. I came across a position at a very well-known company based here in Indy for which my husband, Charlie, and I, on paper, appeared to be qualified. Keep in mind that I had a stellar phone interview with this company for a different position back in October. I haven’t heard back about that, despite three different attempts to contact them. 

I applied us both for the latest position. I did both of our resumes. I did the research on the company necessary for a phone interview. Charlie has already had a phone interview for this job and was just asked to come in for one on site today. He’ll be going in next week. I haven’t received so much as an email. This position is not something either of us would really love to do, but it’s a company everyone wants to work for. My gut tells me they’re going to offer him something. Which would be great. For him. For us. Right?

I did leave the coffee shop for a different job. It’s still retail and it’s not great pay, but the people are better and the owners are kind. I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Will I have to change hours in order to be home with the kids? I’m currently almost full time but with no benefits. I’m working from the early afternoon until close five days per week.

We all know daycare is ridiculously expensive, especially for babies. So will I have to quit? I don’t fault any mom (or dad) who wants to stay home with her (or his) kids. But I just don’t think I can do it much longer before going completely bonkers. Bea needs to be with other kids. I need to do something besides cart these children to various activities that will keep them entertained. 

And don’t tell me to “just freelance.” I really don’t have the energy or time.

Home Schooled

I just met someone at work whose sole life goals are to get married, have children, and homeschool her kids. When she said this, I was floored.

My reaction bothered me, though. I’m a feminist insofar as I believe women should have the ability to choose what they want to do with their bodies and lives. If you want to marry a man and have children, what do I care? I did the same thing, despite my ideas to the contrary. I chose not to have children for most of my adult life, and then I changed my mind. 

What seemed to get under my skin about this girl was twofold: First, she has no other aspirations and moved to “the city” in order to find someone to marry because she was homeschooled in a very small town that had no suitable prospects for her. She has no desire to go to college because her job will be as a stay-at-home mom, “so why go into debt over something I wouldn’t use?” Second, she apparently feels adequately prepared to homeschool her nonexistent children as a twenty year old with the legal equivalent of a high school diploma.

When she told me this, I admit I probably responded in an offensive manner. I asked her what sort of education one needs to homeschool one’s children. What if your kids have questions about science or physics or fractions? Can you do calculus? Can you really provide children what they need when you only have a high school diploma? Public school teachers have four-year degrees in education just to teach second graders! And so on.

I realized my barrage of questions was bordering on interrogation and backed off a bit. I mentioned that, when I found out I was pregnant with my first, I was still completing my undergrad and chose to take some child and human development courses. I also told her how Bea had not attended a daycare until starting preschool at age three. How she is so outgoing and social that I couldn’t meet her needs.

The conversation ended when she just said, “Well, if my kids are like that, that’s something to think about.”

I felt bad afterward, because I knew I was haranguing her about something that was none if my business. Here I am, sitting on three degrees and more student loan debt than I care to admit, working the exact same job she is. And those things were all choices I made. I chose to go to school and I chose to come back here and work weekends at my old job so I could be home with my kids. I don’t want to put a baby in daycare, so I’m not utilizing my masters any more than as a reference in conversation. 

I still don’t feel an education is ever a waste and, if I could, I would just be in college forever. My experiences in Chicago were not something I would want to take back. If someone could erase my debt, but also my memory, I would say no. But that doesn’t mean this girl isn’t capable of going to a library and checking out books on development or traveling with her kids. Just because she was homeschooled does not mean her mother didn’t teach her to think critically about information. Who am I to assume she can’t learn as goes? What gives me the right to assume she’s made such terrible choices in life that she deserves a lecture on the value of education? Was I merely projecting my fears on her? Why am I so worried that “this is all” for her?

And yet I still firmly believe that the least she could do is take a few courses on early childhood education. I think what bothers me most about the whole thing is the idea that “homeschooling is good/right/best” versus determining whether each individual child is suited for that type of learning environment, or that people believe they are able to somehow protect and shelter their kids. But I’m making a lot of assumptions here, so I’ll just bid you good night.

Wanna Hear Something Gross?

I’m not sure I ever posted the birth story for my first. Suffice it to say, that was a cakewalk compared to the second, despite me being pretty freaked out through the entire thing. I timed contractions for a day, my water broke, I went to the hospital, I pushed for a while, baby came out. All was good.

We had a last-minute get together for Bea’s fourth birthday on Sunday, June 23rd, at my aunt’s house this year. I’d been having contractions off and on for a couple of days (not including the Braxton Hicks that had been going on since month five). They weren’t consistent enough to worry, but I knew “real” labor was imminent. I went home around 3pm because I was exhausted, and Charlie stayed at my aunt’s with Bea. They came home a couple of hours later. I was still having contractions.

Around 9pm, I went to take a bath, hoping it would help with the back pain. I hadn’t been in the tub more than five minutes when I felt that telltale “pop” inside and I knew my water had broken. I stood up and surveyed what sort of fluid was escaping. It was pretty slow.

I texted my aunt, who came over to pick up Bea and take the kid to her house. Charlie and I got some stuff together and headed to the hospital. I found myself extremely calm and almost emotionless during the entire scene. My contractions, though getting closer together and more painful, weren’t bothering me that much, and I was not nearly as freaked out as I’d been during my first birth.

We got checked in and I got checked out. Rather than the five centimeters I’d made it to the first time around, I was barely at two. I knew I only had 24 hours before they’d threaten to take the baby out on their own, so I chose to labor without any kind of drugs.

The contractions began to get worse, but nothing was happening by around 9 the next morning. They hooked me up to some Pitocin, which I had really, really wanted to avoid. Every time they increased the dose, the baby’s heart rate began to drop. By the third round, I opted for an epidural. I was sweating and crying through the contractions. Charlie kept trying to nap, but felt compelled to try and comfort me through those harder waves.

As Charlie lay down on the couch in the delivery room, he began to snore and I began to feel like something was wrong. I couldn’t twist my head back far enough to see the monitors. I called to him to ask what heart beat monitor said. He had just stood up to walk over when the room was flooded with nurses and doctors and some sort of emergency warning beep was going off.

Suddenly, nurses were hooking me up to oxygen. The baby’s heart rate had dropped a fourth time, and had been below 70 for a few minutes. A doctor was shoving my innards around and announced the baby was on her umbilical cord. The doctor couldn’t get her shifted and the heart rate continued to slow.

“We’re going to have get the baby out. NOW.”

A piece of paper was in my face. “Sign here,” someone said. “It’s a waiver.” I tried to skim through it but felt like I was going to pass out. I remember I was crying and trying to control my breathing as they wheeled me out of the delivery room into the operating room. Just like in the movies, they had me “hug” myself and they shifted me up and over onto the table from my bed. The resident anesthesiologist said he was going to give me more of the epidural to numb me from the waist down. If it didn’t work, I’d have to be put under.

A big blue sheet was up and over my face, my arms were being taped down, the head anesthesiologist was by my face, probably trying to decide if he should hold my hand, making jokes about his sons while I hyperventilated. I didn’t know where Charlie was, if he would be allowed in, what was happening to my baby.

Maybe ten minutes passed with this flurry of activity around me. I heard the doctor say “Scalpel,” just like in the movies. I heard him say, “You’re going to feel a lot of pressure. You’re doing great, Courtney.”

Then there was the sound of a baby crying and Charlie was standing by my right side, in a big white surgical suit and mask with one of those funny hairnets on. My tears had been pooling in my ears and he was still crying.

“The baby’s okay,” he said. And I just started crying even harder. I’d spent the entire nine months of that pregnancy on eggshells. A month before I got miraculously pregnant, I’d been told I couldn’t carry a baby to term. Every blood test and ultrasound, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the worst news. Up to the moment she was born, I feared she wouldn’t make it.

The c-section was the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. I hated every moment of it. I had planned for a standard birth like Bea’s was. The recovery was difficult, especially at my age. Major abdominal surgery is not something I would have opted for and I don’t understand women who schedule unnecessary c-sections. But we are both okay, which is what matters.

Even after, I thought the worst. Would she have a physical problem? Would she be deaf or blind or have that weird disorder where people don’t feel pain? Instead, she’s a happy, healthy, chunky little bag of farts that smiles all the time and rarely cries. I couldn’t have asked for a better baby.

Homesick

So here we are, entering our fourth month as Indiana residents. Again. I’ve gone back to the coffee shop on the weekends, we’re back in the old neighborhood. It’s like nothing has changed.

My diplomas sit neatly in their frames, doing nothing more than reminding me of my student loans accumulating interest.

It dawned on me today that, though I don’t regret much in my life, I do regret leaving Chicago. As I lay in bed, exhausted and feeling run down from lack of sleep and hours on my feet for the first time in a couple of years, I found myself ruminating. Playing the What If game.

What if we’d negotiated lower rent with the landlord? What if we’d really stretched out our savings. What if, instead of a couple grand in rent, deposit, and truck rental, we had just paid our rent in Chicago in advance? What if we’d started a garden and eaten from that, made a strict budget, and taken Bea to summer classes at the parks instead of paying for her preschool there? What if we’d sold a couple things to get by while I applied for full-time jobs on campus, and if I’d gotten one, Charlie could stay home? What if I’d made a lot more money than him? What if I’d taken those job offers and just asked to start a few weeks after the baby was born?

I don’t play What If with the baby. I don’t regret or resent her. She didn’t ask to be born.

I can’t stop thinking that we made the wrong decision moving back, though. I can’t help but feel more alone in Indy, a city supposedly filled with family and friends who were dying to help out with the baby, most of whom I haven’t seen more than twice since we moved back. We’re more sedentary, bored, overweight, and disappointed.

I have applied for more jobs, but each one leaves me feeling like I’d be settling. I feel like we settled for this house, for that job, for this neighborhood, for this city. I feel like I didn’t get a chance to put down roots in Chicago and every day, my heart aches a little bit for what we left behind.

We wanted Bea and Ellie to grow up around their cousins, and the kids our friends have. But it feels as if no one has the time and I’m left struggling to fill up our weekdays with mindless activities in the house. I’m spending all my mornings biding my time before Bea goes to her measly two-hour preschool program when what we could be doing is getting on the brown line and hitting the Lincoln Park Zoo, the beach, going for walks, taking a bus to the Shedd or a museum on the free days.

I missed Indy and people for a while after we’d moved. But it didn’t take long to find myself busy and happy and loving Chicago. Leaving felt like the “right” choice when we made it, but now I just don’t know. Was it the “only” one?

Today my heart told me it’s never too late to move back. It’s going to take something big to fill this windy-city-sized emptiness.

Terrible Twos Times Ten

It’s been two months exactly since we brought Miss Ellie home from the hospital. In that time, I’ve seen Bea go from a bright-eyed, clever, independent little four year old to a rabid, hysterical, tantrum-throwing preschooler.

I know her life has been turned upside down; new city and state, new house, new baby and now a new preschool. It took us two months after moving to get her in to a place we could afford, but all we can afford is 2.5 hours a day/4 days a week. It’s not enough. I take her at 1pm (when she would normally be napping), and pick her up at 3:30. By the time she gets home, she’s exhausted and cranky. And by the time we go to put her to bed, she has lost all self control.

I’ve never seen anything like it. When people talked about the “terrible twos,” I had no idea what they were talking about. At two, she was so sweet and cute. At three, she was inquisitive and clever. At four . . . I’ve heard stories of tantrums, but this . . . this is something else. Foot stomping, screaming, wailing, crying, jumping up and down, throwing herself on the floor, “no no no!” and whatnot. I was sort of, kind of prepared of her to resent the baby. Instead, she loves Ellie and hates us.

It seems as though, every night, once Bea is finally passed out, Charlie and I are having a conversation where we devise a new plan of attack. But since I’m the one home with both kids all day during the week, I’m the one who has to implement it all.

We’ve tried talking to her about it, reasoning with her, sticker charts, time outs, threats, taking away TV or toys or games, and we’ve both resorted to shouting at her to just stop screaming (super helpful and effective, as I’m sure you can imagine). It’s getting to the point where I can’t even deal with her anymore. I get so angry that I just have to remove myself from the situation and I don’t feel like going back to give her a hug and kiss. It doesn’t help that I feel “touched out” from holding and carrying the baby, feeding and nursing her. By the end of the day, I just want to pass out and not move for like 12 hours.

The baby’s great, though. I thought Bea was an easy baby, but this one has been a breeze so far. Good sleeper, good eater, healthy (a slight cold Bea brought home when she started preschool), happy. The birth was pretty traumatic and a story for another day, but I worried throughout the pregnancy and right up until the moment she arrived that something would go wrong.

Charlie is still working full time, but is close enough that he can ride his bike. We have the car most days, but no money to do much of anything exciting. Trips are limited to grocery stores and walks around the neighborhood. We were hanging out at the coffee shop some mornings for a bagel and coffee, but then I started working there again. Just weekends when Charlie is home, but enough that I don’t want to hang during the week.

To top it off, I found out after my second week back that they’ve been paying me like a new employee, not like someone who spent almost six years there. When the manager told me what I’d be getting paid, I just started laughing. “Oh, were you making more than that before?”
“Are you kidding?” I asked. “Do you know how long I was here?” Granted, it took many months of badgering to get the raises I received, but it was still $2.50 more per hour than they apparently think I’m worth. So now I have to badger and argue to get more.

The manager at a nearby restaurant offered me a weekend gig waiting tables there. The tips sound fantastic. But the pay is really the only positive of working there. The employees are catty. The cooks are perverts. The owner is a bitch. The customers are wealthy, entitled assholes. I’d have to be on my feet ten hours a day just to make enough money to send Bea to preschool full time with nothing left over. People are like, “You should take that job. If Bea was at school during the week, you’d have more time to yourself.”

Except there’s now a newborn in the house. Despite being a great baby, she doesn’t really give me a lot of time to myself. So selfish.

So while I check job web sites in the hopes of finding something that pays more than Charlie’s working so that he can stay home, he’s studying for a personal training certificate. If he passes, he could go to work for his old employer and work 20 hours a week to make the same he’s bringing home now. If he doesn’t pass it, I have no idea what we’re going to do. There really aren’t any opportunities for advancement where he is now, and the pay just isn’t enough to change things at home.

And while I’d found positions at local universities that I wanted and for which I felt qualified, I was turned down twice in a row. Once was on my birthday. Ouch. But I know these are the kinds of jobs I want. And if I’m not qualified, how can I be? I started looking at other graduate programs and settled on one that I think I’m actually going to apply for, for next fall. If accepted, they require graduate assistantships, which means a guaranteed job related to what I’d be studying, a paycheck, tuition remission, and a practicum later on. Right now I just need to get the letters of rec and write the damn personal statement (300 words! Ugh). It at least gives me something to work toward.

If I could, I think I would just stay in college forever. If I can’t, I at least want to work for one. Not as an adjunct, though. I’m making more working 15 hours a week at the coffee shop, which is terribly sad and ridiculous. And if the grad program or university-job-finding doesn’t pan out, I have no fucking clue what’s next.

Rental Woes

I’m incredibly irritated after receiving an email from our property manager. He said the landlords “have indicated that the yard isn’t being mowed regularly” and they asked him to remind us that it should be done weekly. I wrote back to tell him that Charlie has actually been mowing twice a week and recently purchased a week wacker that he’s used to get the harder-to-reach areas.

When we signed the lease, we negotiated $100 off per month for doing the yard work. I’ve seen one of the landlords (it’s three siblings who share the income) at least four times, just hanging around out front. The first time, I was outside watering the lawn, nine months pregnant, with Bea “helping” when the woman introduced herself. She brought up the fact that she’s never seen a tenant water the lawn. I laughed and said something like, “Well, we kind of have to.”

In my reply to the property manager, I wanted to point out that during the week of the 24th, I was in the hospital for three days having a baby, so maybe Charlie only had an opportunity to mow once that week as he was taking care of our other child; that we haven’t harped on the fact that we can’t use the linen closet upstairs because the previous tenants’ cats peed all over it and it makes our stuff smell; that we also haven’t said much about the moldy, wet, soft spot on the dining room ceiling resulting from years of an apparent toilet leak; we also haven’t brought up the shitty backyard that’s all patchy and has a seven-foot-tall pile of mulch that no one has touched in almost two months, or that we have been planting and watering grass seed for weeks.

Of course, Charlie is even more irritated than I am because he’s the one who has been doing all the work, so he immediately called the property manager (and got voicemail) to ask if we should contact the landlords every time we mow, or perhaps send them a photo as proof?

It’s a ridiculous, nitpicky thing to harp on and for only $100 a month. I’m sure they had to pay their “landscaper” more than that to do almost nothing around the yard, but my guess is one of them (the woman who’s been driving by) didn’t want to negotiate lower rent, and perhaps the others weren’t that concerned about it. So she’s just going to keep coming by and finding things to bitch about until she can raise our rent.

Impending

I am currently days away from having my second child and, I admit, I am not ready. In any way, shape, or form. I don’t know how I will take care of an infant and a four year old. I don’t know how I will keep up with Bea. I don’t know how or if I’ll be capable of breastfeeding. I don’t know how we’ll afford this. And I definitely don’t know if I have “enough love” for both kids. This, I realize, is a very common fear for a lot of parents when they move on to having a second (or third, or more, I guess), but knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better. 

We’re officially relocated back to Indianapolis. The only thing that has kept me from feeling too much depression over this move (and the various jobs I’ve given up) has been the pregnancy and the move, itself. To a certain extent, I think part of what has helped is moving back to the exact same area we lived for five years. In a way, it seems like the past two years almost didn’t happen. Did we live in Chicago? Did I teach that class and take all those others? Did I just get a masters degree? It all feels very surreal.

Bea isn’t handling the changes as well as I’d hoped, either. She’s accustomed to a structured day with lots of other kids and she really needs that social interaction. Taking her to the park in the mornings doesn’t quite cut it. I can’t go an hour without fearing I might pee my pants and she has a hard time getting other kids to play with her. I love how outgoing she is, but a lot of the children don’t seem accustomed to dealing with a spunky preschooler who wants to talk their ears off. She has also given me the impression that she’s worried about the baby replacing her and she’s sick of me being pregnant.

Tell me about it. It’s been almost a year. My doctor here has said the same thing as the one I had in Chicago; if I want to, I can schedule an induction at 39 weeks, which starts the day of Bea’s fourth birthday party so, you know, that’s probably not going to happen. I don’t know much about induction and pitocin and all that stuff, but I was under the impression that it increases your risks for a c-section. The OB said this probably isn’t the case for me, having had a spontaneous birth with Bea, but that doesn’t stop me from hesitating and, of course, worrying. But I know one thing. I don’t think I can handle being pregnant for another two or three weeks. I can barely make it up the stairs to go to the bathroom.  

I can’t even imagine polishing up my resume and applying for jobs in the near future, but I know it’s something I’m going to have to do. 

Chronological Concerns

A major part of the reason I’m allowing the landlord to give out my phone number to no less than four different apartment-hunting services (not including the guy we used to find this place and who we put in touch with our landlord weeks ago) is to show a good faith effort in renting this place, which we hope will guarantee most of our security deposit be returned.

It’s beginning to get really annoying, though. I get calls all day long from a variety of different people who are rarely here at the time they claim they want to see the place. We’ve shown it as early as 9am on a Sunday and as late as 8pm on a Wednesday. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we didn’t have a three (almost four) year old who’s tired and ready for bath or bed, or if I didn’t have to leave for work by eight in the morning. Last night we had to rush Bea home from dinner within fifteen minutes to show the place, but it took the people almost an hour to show up.

It also doesn’t help that the apartment has ancient carpeting, is being listed as a three bedroom, and he’s asking $300 more per month than we’ve been renting it. The garage space is also jacked up–$100 per month when we’ve been paying $25.

None of that is really any of my business. I just hope that someone fills out an application soon so that I can stop having to either drag Bea into the backyard in order to stay out of everyone’s way, or sit politely on the couch while people stomp through the apartment.

We did sign the lease on the new place yesterday, as well as mailing in first month’s rent and security deposit. As far as that house is concerned, I’m really happy with it except for two reasons: 1. It is listed as a 1.5 bath. The full bath is on the second floor and the half bath is in the basement. This isn’t a deal breaker,  but I do remember post-birth with Bea how difficult it was for me to get up and down the stairs for a while. 2. It is directly next door to the woman whose high-strung rescue dogs howled nonstop at our windows in the last place we lived. (It also has no garage or fenced-in yard, but whatever.)

Because, you know, our last place is directly behind the new one.

One of my concerns has become (prioritized in terms of chronology) how early I can get out of work. Though we need the paychecks to cover Bea’s preschool (and I have zero options in Indy for her at the moment), we are moving before the last week of classes, which is also my last week at work. I’m pretty sure that my situation is unprecedented at work–not many pregnant writing tutors in their halls. I don’t think they know what to do with me.

My next worry is finishing all the assignments for my last class. It’s a pretty heavy workload. Then I’m worried about what’s going on with Charlie’s job. He’s supposed to be transferred but his phone interview didn’t go well (according to him). So now there’s a concern that he might get stuck in a branch that’s really far from our place and we’re only going to have one car for a while. The interview was for a branch that’s 1.5 miles from our new place, which means being able to walk, bike, or take the bus (if that’s even an option in Indy). If that falls through, I’ll be stuck at home a lot.

Apparently, the district manager rather casually mentioned that Charlie could “just take an unpaid leave of absence” until a position opened up where he’d like to be. How exactly that DM thinks we would cover our bills, I’m not sure. So now Charlie’s a little paranoid and has begun looking into other options, which would leave us without health insurance just a few weeks before my due date.

Add to all of that the fact that my student loans are going to be due soon and I’m surprised I haven’t just collapsed in a ball on the floor. I think I’m juggling everything surprisingly well. I’m managing the gestational diabetes, eating well, getting lots of walking in every day (I kind of have to), and drinking as much water as I can without exploding. No kidney stones thus far [crossing fingers].

I will be quite relieved when this is all over and we can re-situate ourselves. Then I’ll just have to become accustomed to having two kids and even less money. And I sincerely hope that all of our cheerleaders back in Indy are willing to step in and help us out when we do arrived. Everyone has said how thrilled they are that we’re returning, but will they bring over a casserole when I return from the hospital?

Two Years, Reversed

ImageIt’s official. After just two years in Chicago, we are relocating back to Indy. So close to our old place that the backyards of each house touch. I mean, yeah, I wanted to be in the old neighborhood, if at all possible, but I did not expect to end up renting a place that was literally around the corner. I’ve walked past this house so many times that I knew exactly where it was based on the address

Okay, it’s not 100% official. I had to send in the application materials today and will hear back if they accept us within a day or two. I don’t see there being a problem, though neither of us has the most outstanding credit anymore. We seem to take turns. One of us works a decent full-time job for a while, paying all his or her stuff on time; the other is in school. The plan is that, pretty soon, I will be the one paying the bills while he takes nursing classes.

I’ve been decorating the new place in my mind for a couple of days now, and the excitement of finding something within our budget (the landlord was willing to come down a hundred bucks a month if we signed a two-year lease and did the yard work) in our old hood has given me a renewed energy. I try not to think too much about the lack of transportation, the struggle to acclimate to a new baby, and the depression that eventually settles for a bleeding-heart progressive in Indiana.

Our current landlord called today to see if it was okay to pass along my number to potential tenants who wanted to take a look at the place. At one point he said, “You know, it’s not too late to change your mind. If you need someone to watch the baby, I’d do it for free!” It was so sweet that I almost cried.

In the car on Saturday, Bea asked about moving. I explained that, yes, we would be going back. I heard some sniffling after a moment and looked back to see she had tears in her eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her.
“I’m sad because I’ll miss all my friends at school.”
I felt awful. But I explained that all her friends at school would soon be going to kindergarten and that many of them would go to different schools than she would. I then began listing off all the people in Indy who we would be able to see a lot more because we’d be closer. After a few minutes chewing on what I’d said, she announced, “Thanks, Mommy! That really cheered me up!”

I felt so torn about bringing her here so that I could go to school. And, sure enough, we finally got into a good program that she loves, where she’s made all sorts of friends. And now, we have to go back. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t yet been on the planet for four years that you just can’t afford to put two kids in daycare; that you spend more every year on  preschool than you did on rent at your last place; that you can’t imagine having to drop off a newborn for someone else to take care of every day, just to work a job that barely covers your kids getting that care.

I think she understands a little bit and I think she’s pretty excited to go back. I know she’ll make new friends and enjoy seeing her old ones. I hope that we’re able to find something that lives up to the expectations she has from her current preschool that we can afford, and that we’re making the right decision for everyone.