Mommy Confession #2: We love daycare!

I’ll just admit it:  we love daycare!  We have been incredibly fortunate that all 3 daycares (2 in home and 1 daycare center) we have used have been great fits for our family.  I wish that I could stay home with my children, of course, but that’s not in the cards for us right now.  Although, if I’m going to be honest, I would probably still send the children to daycare part time if I could stay at home.  The benefits and connections that we have made through daycare have really been phenomenal.

For us, the biggest benefit to daycare has been the opportunity to connect with caring daycare providers.  We have been blessed beyond measure in that most of our daycare providers have truly loved our children.  These wonderful women have bestowed kisses, hugs, and caring words onto our children on good days and bad days, and they have even provided snuggles on sick days.  My children are left with no doubt that they are loved.  How awesome is that?  Not only do my children have large extended families available to love them, they also have a makeshift family of wonderful daycare providers.

We love daycare

Sliding at the park

BK and MK would also attest to the fact that they love the opportunity to socialize with their friends!  Since BK was just a few weeks old, we have benefited from his opportunities to socialize.  I have mentioned before that he was not an easy baby, but he clearly loved going to daycare as an infant.  He loved to watch the older children play, and it really seemed as though he had bonded with his daycare provider’s sons.  The social opportunities have helped my children learn to share, voice their frustrations rather than simply scream or cry, problem solve, and work as a team.  Truly, I love hearing about BK and MK’s day.  I feel as though I know Blake, Luca, Melody, Vivian, Tait, Norah, Nick, and Tony!

Another very clear benefit of daycare is that I have no doubts that my children will be ready for kindergarten.  They are used to structured days.  They can do basic tasks such as hold a pencil and use safety scissors that, frankly, aren’t such basic tasks when you are a young child learning to do them for the first time!  Even more importantly, they know how to respect and listen to their teachers.  That last lesson may be what sets them up for success!

We love daycare

Finding Balance

Not to be downplayed is the stress relief that comes with a really great daycare situation.  I can work all day knowing that my children are ensconced in a safe, loving place.  They’re working on crafts and art projects that I always say I’m going to do with them, but. somehow, time never seems to permit.  The school is doing the tough job of teaching them how to count and sing their ABCs; we get to practice those things while we swing at the park!  I feel as though we have found a really great balance in our lives.  I’ll say it again:  We love daycare!

Side note:  I know many stay at home moms who do a great job finding social opportunities for their children, and who excel at preparing their children for kindergarten.  That’s just not our situation.

Our New Preschooler!

preschooler

Our new little preschooler!

Our new preschooler!  MK will be moved from the 2’s room to the preschool room at her day care on Monday, and she could not be more excited!  Many of her friends were moved from the 2’s room to the preschool room when the new school year began, but she was left behind due to her age; she was heartbroken.

For the last month, MK has begged and demanded that she should have a place in the preschool class.  Because I agreed with her, I had a difficult time justifying to her the daycare’s decision to leave her in the 2’s room!  After all, she’s completely potty trained, can count to at least fourteen, knows her colors, and can recite the ABCs perfectly.  Heck, she’s practically ready for kindergarten!

Determined 2 year old

Our new preschooler is determined!

MK is incredibly goal-oriented.  She was not going to accept that she could not be in the preschool class.  What did she do?  Apparently, she asked the day care owner if she could be in that class!  I had been intending to ask for her, but I don’t often run into the owner early in the morning.  No matter, MK took care of it!  The owner agreed that MK was ready and that there was a space for her!

MK’s little spirit is incredible.  As her mother, I pray every night that I have the patience to parent our new preschooler and the strength to continue to allow her little spirit to grow the right way!

our little preschooler

Praying the strength needed to be her momma

Norwex Dusting Mitt

This last month we gutted and updated our mudroom and laundry room area, and the mess was ridiculous!  First, there was the old insulation, and then there was the drywall dust from the new drywall.  Anyone who has ever lived in a construction can sympathize, I’m sure.  Regardless, my window screens were left a mess!

Before using Norwex Dusting Mitt

Embarrassingly, this is the before

No doubt about it, I had been avoiding cleaning those window screens.  I remember my mom taking the window screens down, spraying them with water and scrubbing them, and I just did not want to do that!  The other night, however, I learned that the Norwex dusting mitt can be used to quickly clean those pesky window screens!  Apparently, all that is necessary is to slightly dampen the mitt, put it on your hand, and wipe both sides of the screen.  It sounded easy so I figured it was worth a shot!

After cleaning with Norwex Dusting MIt

After cleaning with Norwex Dusting MIt

Not only was it as easy as it sounded, it worked!  With very little effort, my screens are now clean!  Cleaning with the Norwex dusting mitt must have looked fun, too, because BK asked to join in the fun!

Norwex dusting mitt

BK is a great helper!

The mitt is made from a soft microfiber

Norwex Dusting mitt

This is the mitt after cleaning that one screen!

material.  The material is ideal for dusting as it creates a natural static charge that attracts and holds dust to it.  Ditch the chemicals you usually use to dust your house and try out the mitt!  You will find that you actually will need to dust less often!  It sounds hard to believe, but I can attest to this personally.  It seems that most dusting sprays lay an oil or wax over your surface that leaves your surface shiny and more attractive to dust.  That dusting spray actually causes dust to stick as the spray is slightly sticky.  Truly, give the Norwex dusting mitt a try and find yourself dusting less often!

Initially when I received the Norwex dusting mitt, I wasn’t too keen on it.  I didn’t think I would like the fit of the mitt as I have small hands; although roomy, it doesn’t slide around on my hand as I had feared.  I’m really looking forward to using it on other areas of my house!  In addition to dusting and cleaning window screens, the dusting mitt works great on blinds, fans, lamps, plants, tops of cupboards, vents, and vehicle dashboards.

 

Caterpillar’s Announcement

Caterpillar’s announcement yesterday was extremely jarring.  They announced they would trim 4,000-5,000 jobs by the end of this year with a total of 10,000 jobs to be cut by 2017/2018, primarily in the United States.  With average U.S. family size being 2.54 people, this means that 25,400 people will be directly impacted by this announcement, but the true impact is even larger than that.  Not to be melodramatic, but large employee reductions like this mean less money will be spent in our communities by Caterpillar workers, less taxes generated, fewer donations made, and the list goes on.

Financial IndependenceCaterpillar’s announcement may be reminiscent of the one in 2009, but in reality it’s quite different.  In 2009, Caterpillar was facing pressures due to lowered sales expectations, and, of course, the larger issue of the global recession.  Additionally, Caterpillar had a weak balance sheet–not enough cash and too much debt, but those troubles were short lived.  Caterpillar successfully turned around their balance sheet, maintained their credit rating, and saw record sales in 2012.

Today, Caterpillar is in previously unchartered territory for the company; they are predicting a fourth year of decreased sales.  Never in Caterpillar’s 90 year history (including the Great Depression) has Caterpillar faced four years of decreased sales.  Normally, when one market segment is down (Mining, for example), another segment (Energy and Transportation, perhaps) picks up the slack.  Some segments create more profit for Caterpillar than others which can cause the EPS to move cyclically, but, generally sales moved upward.  Now, all segments are down and facing additional headwinds.  There’s certainly no end in sight to low oil prices, global political uncertainty has halted many global construction projects, the U.S. continues to refuse to fund a long term transportation bill to repair the U.S.’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, and mining companies are not replacing machines that would normally have long ago been replaced.  Of course, Caterpillar also faces troubles of it’s own making.  The purchase of Chinese company Siwei has proven disastrous, and the purchase of mining machinery maker Bucyrus was at the minimum badly timed.

With no end in sight to the global and political headwinds, and no chance that the company will reach it’s goal of $100 billion of sales by 2020, Caterpillar is restructuring.  Not only are people being laid off, factories are being closed.  Several have already been announced and it’s been announced that up to 20 production facilities may be closed or consolidated by the end of the restructuring.  Clearly, Caterpillar is showing that it believes that increased sales are not coming soon, and when sales do start to increase, it will take time to reach the levels seen in 2012.

My Reaction as an Employee

It’s hard to put into words the turmoil that Caterpillar’s announcement causes for employees.  We have been told that the bulk of the employee cuts will be management and salaried employees in SG&A (Selling, General & administrative–areas such as accounting, marketing, human resources, and legal).  Work areas will see employees leave and not be replaced.  This puts additional burdens on the employees left in those areas while they wrestle with their own emotions and lowered morale.

In all honesty, Caterpillar leadership has made every attempt to communicate and be highly visible since making the announcement yesterday.  In fact, during my group’s all employee meeting our group president, Ed Rapp, and the CEO, Doug Oberhelman, came to speak.  Both looked haggard and worn out.  They were no happier with their announcements than we were, but they were united in that it had to be done.  No longer were they confidently predicting that mining sales would start to come back by the end of 2016.  That might have been the most frightening part of the day.

This is the 3rd downturn that I have seen in my 8 year career with Caterpillar.  So far, I have made it through, and, of course, I pray that continues to be the case.  Yet, how can I pray that to keep my job when that means that someone else could lose theirs?  No, I think the best prayers are for global and political stability and a growing global GDP.  As corny as it sounds, if I had one wish it may just be world peace.

If nothing else, Caterpillar’s announcement further drives home the need to reach financial independence.  It is untenable to me to know that my employment status is beyond my control.  Although my performance reviews have been quite high and my performance valued, I could lose my job due to market pressures making my position obsolete.  I have no desire to quit working in the near term, but I do wish to ensure that my family is taken care of should I be  unable to maintain my current level of employment.  I think this is something with which most people can identify.

Norwex Window Cloth

Before Using Norwex Window Cloth

Before

I realized something shocking yesterday:  I, a Norwex Independent Sales Consultant, had filthy, dirty car windows and mirrors!  That’s not exactly good brand representation!  I had just read that Norwex was founded upon a red microfiber cloth that was originally created to clean car windows so I decided to see for myself if my Norwex EnviroCloth and Norwex Window Cloth were up for the job!

Using Norwex EnviroCloth

Using the Norwex EnviroCloth – photo credit to my awesome 4 year old!

With two kids, my car windows were pretty gross.  Clearly, someone has been allowing the kids to eat and drink in the car!  I knew that the level of stickiness involved would require me to use my wet EnviroCloth first on the car windows and mirrors, followed by my Window Cloth.  The EnviroCloth removed the sticky gunk that my lovely children had left behind as well as the every day dirt, grime, and squashed bugs that were also present on my car’s windows and mirrors; however, I was a little bit worried!  There were terrible streaks and water spots.  I knew it was time to use the Norwex Window Cloth.

I quickly grabbed the aforementioned dry Norwex Window Cloth, and I quickly went towork over my still damp car window.  The streaks and water spots were gone!  Not only that, but my windows were sparkling.  Honestly, they were clearer than the day I bought my car.  I can honestly tell you that the combination of the Norwex EnviroCloth and Norwex Window Cloth took the sticky, dirty grime right off my windows with very little effort from me.  Even more surprising was how easily it cleaned off the squashed bugs on my windshield and side mirrors.  I used no chemicals to get sparkling windows and mirrors!

After Using Norwex Window Cloth

After!

I know that there are a lot of you who use Windex on your car windows.  I really suggest that you stop (regardless of whether or not you decide to replace your Windex habit with the Norwex Basic Package of the EnviroCloth and Window Cloth).  Besides aggravating allergies in adults, Windex has been shown to damage the tints on car windows.

Well, I have sparkling car windows, now I just need to talk Mr. Keller into cleaning the rest of the car!  Maybe he’ll use the Norwex Car Wash Mitt!

Side note:  If your windows aren’t as filthy as mine, you can simply use a spray bottle to lightly mist water onto the window and wipe with a dry Norwex Window Cloth.  Never wet the Norwex Window Cloth with water directly.