Monday, December 29, 2008

Saying Farewell

As they sang in The Sound of Music:
"So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu."

A few days ago I learned that, after a year and a half, the family I have been sitting for no longer needs me due to a change in work schedules. They will keep me on their call list in case they need me on occasion, but I will no longer be sitting regularly. It is wonderful for them and for the children, but sad for me. I have watched the children grow and helped in a small ways to guide them and shape them as they discover and become the incredible people they are now and will be. Though necessary, it is difficult to let go of and say farewell to the children and their parents. Anytime they need me to sit, I am ready and willing.

I am still recovering from and working through this development. I am not sure if I will apply for other nanny positions or not. I am also not sure where that leaves this blog either way. While I figure this out, I hope you will visit me at my Brainy and Beautiful Blog.

With thanks and hope that you will bear with me during this transition <3

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas is for Kids

In these economic times, I have been asking friends how they are handling the holidays. No matter what they are doing, the resounding refrain is "Christmas is for Kids." and, in some cases, "Hanukkah is for Kids."

My friend Irma (24 years old) is one of 7 children. Her husband Brian (28) is one of 5 children. This year both of their families have decided not to buy any Christmas gifts, but to instead enjoy the time they will be spending together. Some of them protested because they had already seen things that they had a strong desire to purchase for certain people in their family. The solution: If you happen to come across something that really reminds you of someone that you have an overwhelming desire to give to them, buy it BUT don't go out seeking gifts AND just because you buy for one does not mean you have to buy for everyone.

My friend Tanya (27) is the oldest of 7 children and a nephew who is 3 and her husband Greg (28) is the middle of 3 grown children and has one niece who is 4. This year they have made an agreement with Greg's family that they give each other the gift of their time and attention, but all are allowed to purchase for the 4 year old if they are willing and able. Tanya's family has not given over to that idea, maybe in part because 4 of the 7 children are still under 18.

My husband and I made some changes this year, too. We sent out nearly 50 holiday cards, but purchased gifts for just 22 people. Of the 22, 8 are children. Of the 22, 16 are blood relatives. Of the 22, 3 are pets. We did not spend more than $30 per person/pet and in many cases spent $20 or less, in some cases $10 or less, in a few cases $5 or less. We did this by being savvy shoppers. As is tradition for us, we are simply putting stockings together for each other and stocking items that are too big or oddly shaped for the stocking go under the tree. We considered leaving pets off the list this year, but we love them far too much. Our pets give us unconditional love always, the least we can do is throw them a bone or some kitty treats at Christmas. Total expenditures: $298.87 which averages out to $13.58 per person/pet. I am not laying the numbers out there because I think how much you spend is important, just the opposite. I am laying the numbers out there to show that if you shop savvy and stay within your own pre-set budget, anything is possible. Also, simply sending a card to show the people in your life that you care and you appreciate them is a real gift in its self. We have had many phone calls from people thanking us for the cards and wanting to be in closer touch with each other and scheduling times to get together. Acknowledgment and time, invaluable gifts to be freely given, seem to be valued above all.

In every case above, there are two themes:

1) The holidays are for the children. Make it as fun for them as possible.
2) Time together is the most valuable gift one can give.

Combine these two gifts:

If you have the means to donate gifts or time to volunteer this holiday season, please consider giving to these worthy causes:

Toys for Tots
Children for Children
Teen Voices
Perkins School for the Blind
Feeding America
Angel Tree
My Two Front Teeth

or another that is dear to your heart.

Happy Holidays!

Safe Toys for the Holidays

or any day!

Last year at this time there were all kinds of concerns about toxic materials in toys imported from China. So, my interest in organic and eco-friendly toys for babies and children increased. I learned that organic and eco-friendly don't have to mean expensive. Here are a few of my favorite places to shop for the kidlets in my life:

the little seed
is run by Soleil Moon Frye (a.k.a Punky Brewster!) and her friend Paige Goldberg Tolmach.
Their goal: "to create a one-stop shop for parents seeking products from skincare to bedding to toys that are made with organic or eco-friendly materials – healthy for babies and healthy for the planet… because it’s never too early to sow the seeds of care and responsibility."
Their blog: Seedling Blog
Their shop: the little seed shop
Links to a few of my favorite items:
Footed Pants - not a toy, but adorable none-the-less
Pocket Jacket - again not a toy, but a practical gift that will be used infinitely
Speesees Booties - slippers are always a good gift. Warm feet are essential.
Fruits and Veggies - I love ALL of these soft toys!
Recycling Truck - they sell all kinds of wooden cars, but this is my fav
Twig Crayons - endless hours of imagining. I grew up playing in the woods so these really bring me back to childhood.

is a major weekness of mine. So many of their products are irresistible. Plus they carry everything from maternity clothes to furniture to diaper bags to toys. One stop shopping! They also have a Gifts page that is incredibly well organized, categorized, and easy to navigate. On a really tight budget? Visit their Outlet Store!
Their Safety Standards: Safety First
Links to some of my fav. items:
Delilah the Bunny - my mom always called me bunny. If I really was one, I think I'd like to be just like Delilah or at least be her friend.
Eco Babies Wear Green book - books are always wonderful gifts! More books by M.S. Colman here.
BabyStyle Xylophone - music to everyones ears and a toy for people of every age
Building Block Choo Choo - made of Ecofriendly rubber wood and grows with the child. Not-yet-walking little ones can enjoy the blocks and when they begin toddling around they can drag it around the house with them.
Doggie Backpack - for the kid on the go

Under The Nile
is another favorite of mine. Everything is made with 100% organic cotton. Every item is pure and Fair Trade. They even began the 13 Villages Project. They also carry items for preemies and adults!
About Under the Nile: "...working harmoniously as one"
About the Owner: Janice Masoud
Links to my favorite items:
Fruit Tote - portable yum yum
Ear Flap Hat - give the gift of soft warmth
Sleeping/Teething Doll - everyone needs a lovey
Gnomes - engage the imagination
Crazy Dolls Two-Pack - check two little ones off your list with one purchase or make one little one doubly happy
Veggie Crate - eat your veggies and you'll be big and strong enough to carry them around
Pencil Box - adorable on a child's desk and helps cultivate a love of learning and/or expressing through writing and art

That is enough for now. If you know of any other places to shop for organic, eco-friendly items for children, please share your favorites with me in the comments section :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Comments on Compliments

MomCat from Truth is Stranger Than Fiction commented on this post of mine recently.

She said:
Wow, what a day! You're better than a mom. I don't think I ever had the energy to entertain the kids the whole day like you did. I'm sure they enjoyed their day and no wonder you were tired. Well done!

While I thank you, MomCat, for your kind words and acknowledgment of my competency, this set me to thinking about how I go about caring for the children.

When I am with the children, I am with them. I take their cues from moment to moment and fulfill their needs or teach them to independently fulfill their own needs. There is structure in terms of meals and naps and rule following (pick up your toys, share with each other, xyz show is over so it is time to turn off the tv, time to go get some fresh air, would you like to go to the library or the park?, etc.), but otherwise I pick up on their cues and live in the moment with them.

What really struck me in MomCat's comment was that I am "better than a mom." That is such a sweet complement and I appreciate it greatly. I really do love the children as if they were my own and treat them as such. But, I'm not their mom. When I am with the children I do not have to run out and do errands, find time to pay the bills, or wash the laundry. I have the greatest respect for moms who are juggling all of these responsibilities every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for life. Maybe, not having to worry about all those other responsibilities (though I do try to keep everything having to do with the children in order) frees me up to be "better than a mom" whatever that means. I don't think I am any better than anybody else and C&K have an amazing mom and dad.

MomCat, thank you for your lovely comment and for being my first "Follower" :-)

A Spoon Full of Sugar

Last night I watched Mary Poppins on ABC Family. Oh how I love her! She is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! The quintessential nanny.

The Original Trailer is a quick treat.

I loved seeing it again. It is full of important reminders for adults and it brings me back to childhood. Truly classic.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Nanny's Love

Out of the horrors of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai comes this story of a nanny and her charge. Out of evil, good can come.

No More Nanny?

Economic times are tough and it seems, according to this Wall Street Journal article, that families are doing away with the nanny.

When I started with the family I sit for, I was working nearly every day. Then I went down to once every week or two. Now I am only with them once a month.

When I started with the family I sit for, Mommy K was only working two or three days a week. Now she is working full-time. In order to make more money and save more money, Mommy K and Daddy M have arranged their schedules so that one of them is home with the children except for my one day a month. I certainly don't fault them for that. They have a family to take care of and they are doing everything they can to provide for and best care for their family.

I am lucky though. I still get to see their family once a month AND I have a husband who works full-time as a salaried employee for a, thankfully, for the time being, stable and reliable company. My income is our "fun fund" and, while nice and fulfilling, not necessarily necessary.

What if we were depending on my salary? Too scary to contemplate...

I just checked available jobs in my area on Sittercity and found 477 possibilities. Maybe not so scary after all...