Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sweet Pea & Me, It's a Good Thing

Let's get this party started.
Sweet Pea wears the flag of freedom when The Cousin is on holiday.

The Cousin's in Israel. She took a plane last week to spend time with her dad's side of the family.
The Cousin and Obama in the same city, at the same time,  makes me excited. Knowing The Cousin, she will draw way more attention.
So, this family VK left me and Sweet Pea sola yesterday. Yowza! It's so unbelievable how a kid can change so much in just a couple of weeks.  I swear to god, she's a miniature adult now.
Indications?  Well, she's refusing to eat baby-type foods; refuses to be spoon-fed.
She demands chunks of food and wants them placed on her tray so she can pick them up all by herself.
Of course, if I don't comply and try to sneak a spoon of yogurt or oatmeal in, she pulls one of two stunts: either she bites down on the spoon and won't relinquish it or she swings her arm at the spoon and the mush goes flying.
Her new way of eating produces several clothes changes during a day.
Are there seconds?

As well as, bib changes. It didn't take long to figure out that she hates the plastic Bjorn baby bib.

Damn this thing.

You know Bjorn products are modern looking, for sure. They come in all these hip, cool 2013 colors, but they're not at all what they're cracked up to be. Kids just know.  This bib is as hard as a Tonka truck. I mean, would you like it strapped around your neck while you're trying to enjoy a meal?
Sweet Pea had yam (people yam not Gerber yam) and ground beef with lentils.  I think it was the lentils that brought on the series of poopy diapers, but that wasn't my issue with Sweet Pea yesterday.
So, she was lying on the changing table and it was a "doozy".  Her legs were active. Her head was moving. Suddenly, her right arm comes down and takes a swipe of poop.  "Shit" was my actual thought.  
I managed to clean her all up rather quickly, and efficiently I might add, and I stand her up stark naked.  Her smile's so big, it reaches New York. Then, she looks me in the eye and starts peeing on the table. (Her smile continues to reach New York).

I don't blame her.  She's got me all to herself.  No cousin to choke her. No project time for The Cousin. No sharing of "Bal La Lee" and she's gonna milk it for all that's it's worth.
Sweet Pea pushed it to the limit. I kept hearing Elton John's song in the background, Philadelphia Freedom, throughout the day...
Do you need this one?

Under sink cupboard

Plastic bags bad for sea creatures and other living things

It cracks me up that the parentals have one of these on the pots and pans cupboard and not on the cupboard with trash and hazardous cleansers.
They think they're so smart.
I'm pretty sure Sweet Pea will be figuring out how to crack this open.  She's a whip.

Actually, she's got me beat in that department.  I spent several minutes yesterday trying to turn on a black Iphone that was sitting on their shelf.  It was quite frustrating and I was feeling like it finally happened; I'm finally my mother... then Sweet Pea's mom came home for the "noon feeding" and I admitted to her my lack of tech skills. She burst out laughing saying that the phone is Sweet Pea's "pretend" Iphone.   Very funny.

Enjoying The Old Testament

Sweet Pea can sit still. Really she can.  For a fraction of a second.
Here, she's reading about Adam and Eve.  Yep.  She seems to be laughing, doesn't she? I don't think she believes it either.  And if the chapter on Sodom and Gomorrah is in there, I'm screwed.

Because reading is valued by her family (and by the nanny) I try to read lots of books to both her and The Cousin on my watch.  To my surprise (or dismay) there were a couple of new books in Sweet Pea's book basket.
Nanny's Choice
When it was my turn to choose, I really got into Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?  

Since Sweet Pea lives a mere 10 minute walk to the aquarium, we decide to go on an adventure.
Why the hell not?

I'll tell you why.  It makes absolutely no damn sense to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium during spring break.
Sweet Pea, though she had only 30 minutes of nap under her belt, was a trooper!  It was me that was sweating bullets.
We be diggin Splash Zone.

S.P.: "Let's go!" Me: "Let's rest!"

And then what really made my afternoon was a voice in the crowd call out Sweet Pea's name.  It happened in the Open Sea exhibit room.  Seems Sweet Pea and this woman's daughter are in the same play group on Tuesdays.  She introduces herself, her husband and her in-laws and then says in this perfect, syrupy voice that will remain with me until I die, "And you must be her grandmother?"
That's it. We're out of here.

Home at last. Just in time for an afternoon snack before Da Da gets home.
Life is definitely good.
And Sweet Pea and me?  We're a good thing.

Signed the nanny & friend not the f@!*ing grandmother,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Life Unscripted

As many of you know, I taught elementary school for several years, beginning in the '90's.
Like the trailer park, I have retained numerous memories that make me laugh out loud
when I recall them. One in particular was when I was teaching a 2nd grade in the fall of 1998...
We were studying the process of how food gets to our table; meaning, the farm to the Save-Mart to the fridge thing.  I don't know if you realize this, but many children think that the food
on their plates originate at Safeway on aisle 5. Anyway, we were studying nuts (No, not my personal history) and when we looked at regions where various nuts were grown and that day, we did a lesson on peanuts.  We sang a song called "Oh! Peanut Butter" and read books on peanut farming and even ground our own nuts to make the chunky butter.  I'll never forget this one little girl writing in her journal about all that she had learned...
"Today we made penis buter.  I lik penis buter. penis gro on trees."

Recently, I was reading an old article in The Huffington Post on unintentionally inappropriate drawings by kids.

The last one brought back a memory of my first year teaching 6th grade. I had the class from hell and I don't care how that sounds to all of my politically correct readers.  I was barely hanging on day in and day out. At about mid-year, I looked out my classroom window and I saw the principal and the vice-principal walking toward my room with a student's journal in their hands.  They wanted to see if recognized the handwriting.  There were 3 sketches of people, each with giant "talk bubbles" above them.  Each person was nude, and I might add, drawn with explicit detail and accuracy.
I had large tits.  My bubble said something like, "I want to have hot sex with Dr. S."  The others' followed along the same lines.  As my principal (Dr. S) questioned me as to who might have done this, I felt my face bursting into flames.   Suddenly, it was as if I had been immersed in 20 feet of water.
All went silent.   I could see his lips moving but I couldn't hear a damn thing.
Days later, I told a 6th grade colleague and her response to it was, "Well, didn't you tell Dr. S. that it isn't true?" 


In all my years of chronic caffeine addiction, I never thought I could make my cup of coffee too strong. Somehow I did this morning. You can peel it off my front teeth like old carpet.
I'm drinking it though as a matter of necessity.

So, this week I was on hiatus from the babes. No, I didn't need a break, folks.
I was out of town.
Most certainly, I still have material.
First, let me start by introducing you to Nugget.
Nugget is one of The Cousin's many pals that lives at the bottom of a toy bin, except when
The Cousin takes him out for a diaper change, a feeding or a hug.

Nugget, like Lambie, Lambert, Kitty and Rudy (the bear with the weird body) are all my helpers.  I use them on a regular basis to distract, entertain and stall The Cousin when such forms of manipulation are required.

But The Cousin is no dummy.  No way.
She's nothing like the 'trailers' who fit the cliche, "dumber than a stump".  She knows distraction when she sees it.
She's "onto me" big time and all the time.
In fact, she's always 5 steps ahead of me.

Nugget (unintentionally) being suffocated
 The Cousin is a busy girl. Her life is a full 32-oz glass.  There's always chores to be done, animal friends that need attending to, and of course, there's the "Sweet Pea" factor. But The Cousin doesn't complain much about her busy life.  She takes it all in stride and I'm sure there's a lesson in that for all of us.

The Sweet Pea Factor


"This" is getting less and less. THANK GOD (or the new scientific fact of the Big Bang Molecule).
"This" only occurs when she wants this:

The Bribe Factor

I just need to be one step ahead of her, which most of the time, I am.
Last week, though, because the 3 of us and all our f@#!ing animal pals were stuck inside due to lack of a stroller and rain, I was not in step.  Ever have one of those days where you can't find your rhythm?

I did resort to using food as a "mid-day pacifier. But I disguised it as a "learning tool".
Thanks to Trader Joe's, I had happy babes as long as I stuffed their little beaks with sugar.
We sang The Alphabet Song and I offered some quick-course instruction
in spelling and grammar.  
Sweet Pea can now indulge in "solids" as long as you pulverize it into teeny pieces.

Anybody, besides me, digging those new AT & T "It's Not Complicated" commercials featuring a small group of youngsters gathered around a table answering questions about life?
I would imagine those are scripted.
What I ink, and then share with y'all, is not. Unscripted all the way!
So stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Friday, March 8, 2013

"Oh, My God!"

Thursday mornings feel like I have a lead weight attached to each of my bunny slippers. It's so damn hard to get moving after my 9-hour play date with these two.

Yesterday, we had a shitty day.  This had absolutely nothing to do with behavior or attitude; both of which were fairly close to exemplary.  But more to do with how many poopy diapers I changed:
3 EACH!  I am not shitting you. Do the math. 6 diapers filled to the brim, and me having to dump each one in the toilet before placing the diaper in the pail. Out of the 6 times, I missed the bowl twice. 
Once, it went on the seat and the other time, a portion rolled on the floor.
I wish I could tell you I'm embellishing, but I'm not.
This part of my job is not glamorous. So, what part is?

This part:

The Cousin is feeling somewhat flustered by the fact that she can't have her way. This is her recuperating after the tantrum.  This is when I sit down beside her, amiga a amiga, and begin my reasoning exercises; the ones that are positive and cheery; the ones that exhibit empathy and understanding for where she's at in this moment. Now that is glamorous work!  And you know what? Often times, it pays off. Because after you go that extra therapeutic mile, the good times really start to roll!

And roll...

And keep on rolling...

...Until the next meltdown. Actually, the meltdowns were minimal yesterday and I didn't really have to do too much damage control.  At one point, I was hanging out in the living room with The Cousin.  Sweet Pea had crawled into the "play room" or so we thought.  I went on "the hunt" and when I located her, it just came out, "Oh My God!"  The Cousin, who is always hot on my tail like a baby quail behind a mama quail, repeats "Oh My God!"  (Damn it. As y'all know, I try really hard to have a Martha Stewart mouth when I'm around them.) 
We bust Sweet Pea in the act.

So damn cute, eh? Those are black on white butterfly socks btw.
Would you believe me if I told you, we remove her from the crime scene, but I, due to may lack of experience on the job, forget to close the bathroom door and she, in Sweet Pea fashion, returns only to find the toilet brush much more interesting that the toilet paper. 

The rest of our day was spent indoors, thanks to the grandma who had the stroller and forgot to bring it by. THANKS GRANDMA! 
The girls actually found something much more interesting than slides and swings. They got into Sweet Pea's bag and started pulling out these things wrapped in plastic. I didn't really know what they were  until The Cousin gave me an education. 

"Boob pads" she said with an air of casualty.  

So, this is a boob pad.  Evidently, nursing moms place them in their bra when they are out in the real world, away from their little suckers, in order to not have large wet spots on their shirts.

Sweet Pea and The Cousin love these things! They line 'em up, count 'em. Sweet Pea tries to open the packets.  The Cousin enjoys playing "Peek-a-Boo" with one.

As 5:00 pm approaches, I find myself lying on the couch, very spent.  Luckily, I have this keen wisdom that my mama instilled in me; you know the wisdom that says, "Ride the peaks and valleys, baby" and somehow, like millions of nannies everywhere, I am able to remain strong (and awake) until the parentals arrive.  
Because when you're faced with the depths of extreme emotion:

Or the fearless feats of determination:

One must maintain her sense of poise and composure.  
And I do.

But, Oh My God!


Monday, March 4, 2013


Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because she/he hasn't developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don't expect to see. ~Douglas Adams

So as many of you know, I'm a bit of a "Jane-of-all-trades".  Managing the trailer park was perhaps my most cherished and satisfying job thus far, although my nanny gig comes in
at a close second.
Along with my "shin-nanny-gans" position, I currently hold 2 other part-time jobs:
I help run a Japanese tea shop (hence my hair, skin and voice all are turning Japanese with a trailer trash drawl, of course) and I'm a substitute elementary school teacher for a district
in the area. This third position happens to bring me the most money; hence, I do it.

Last week, I was in a second grade classroom and I positioned myself on a small chair in the middle of the carpet; a carpet with a picture of the United States of America on it...
"I sit on Montana." one little girl with pig-tails says. "No, I sit on Montana." a boy yells. "I sit on Texas and that's where my tia lives." said another..."Watch out! When you sit on Texas, you might sit on a steer's horns." I, the smart-ass substitute, responded.

I love carpet time with children.  You sing a little, do some stretches and yoga, read some cool and interesting books and have lots of sharing.  It's so revealing, the sharing thing.
But it never fails, and it seems to always happen a lot with second graders; they inevitably start talking (in great detail) about their animals that either died, ran away or worse.  
One kid starts in and then another, then 5 hands shoot up and they all have something to share on the subject. By the third kid, I'm fucking depressed out of my mind and I'm in desperate need of changing  the subject.
I inevitably pull out a Dr. Seuss book or something just to not break down in front of twenty 
7-year olds.
Kids are so honest.  I recall subbing in my pal's kindergarten one time not so long ago. I'm sitting with a small group of 7 or 8 kids and one little boy announces, "My dad's in jail." The little girl to his right looks so happy to have something in common with him, "So is my daddy!" she exclaims. Then (again) the hands shoot up.
I've come to believe, that young children walk around in a puffy honesty cloud 24/7.

Like when I ask The Cousin if she pinched Sweet Pea, she looks me in the eyes and says, "Yes."
The Cousin fakin it.
I dig that. Why are we grown-ups such liars?! And what changed us from those little innocent Truth-Sayers to the most embellishing, lying mammals on the planet? When did the shift take place?

Last week, when I asked The Cousin if she was tired and ready to take a nap, she closed her eyes and pretended to sleep.  "Okay, nighty night." I said and then, like a mattress spring, she popped up and said with such joyful jubilation, "I'm not sleeping, Bal La Lee! I awake!" 


Even Kitty's awake.

I think children, especially those who witness joy, positive vibes and honesty in their day to day lives, maintain their truthful little selves for quite awhile; until maybe they leave the safety and comfort of their guarded nests. That is when the world becomes the Loch Ness Monster and that is when they (we) have to sometimes fudge the truth in order to survive.    
Maybe it's about grown-up survival.

I think this is one reason we grown-ups "ooh and aww" at the sight of a baby.  They're so damn cute, yes, but it's that innocence we see in their faces; the truthful words we hear that cause us to stop and want to pick them up, hold them, kiss them, become their nanny!

The Cousin kissing Ducky.

Okay, that was a weird kiss, but sweet nonetheless.  I'm telling you, kids got it goin on! 
It's how the world should be.
Young kids are "in-the-moment", "do-the-right-thing", honest people most of the time.   
I got the beat.
That "in-the-moment-thing" is so connected to the truth and innocence that I'm yakking about...

Where as you and I see a toilet, Sweet Pea sees bongo drums.  So cool.  When children are allowed to explore, create, voice their opinions, think beyond and out of our box that we tend to stuff them into, then they remind us, perhaps, of our own soul; the one we left behind.  
Walt Disney was once quoted as saying, "That's the trouble with the world.  Too many people grow up."

Sweet Pea

Seems as if we're talking about two things here; truth and innocence.  You know, they go together like jam and white bread and I'm gonna tell you why. (You knew I would).  When your life is filled with endless joys and all your needs are met; meaning you want for nothing...
When everyone that you encounter is trustworthy, of good ethic and follows through on what they say...When discussion, rather than explosion, is what you learn to expect when you find yourself in a bad situation...When fairness is what is shown to you from Day One...
I suspect all this and more are factors in us becoming truthful adults and maintaining our gorgeous innocence!  Might I say, my grown-up readers, then we'll begin to walk in that puffy cloud of honesty and innocence.  Aww, such a majestic, beautiful thing.

So, that's my 2 cents (more like 2 bucks) for today. Oh! And let's not forget the laughter!
The sound of The Cousin and Sweet Pea laughing makes me happy; truly it does.
The drag would be if I were watching them one evening and the power went out.