Saturday, August 24, 2013

Nanny Fawn Has Been Punked!

By whom you might ask?  None other than little Miss Genevieve.

I have many years of childcare experience: babysitting since I was 11 years old, 4 years of summer camp, 3 months in an orphanage in Haiti, and 6+ years as a full time nanny.  And while that experience has been somewhat helpful as a new mommy, nothing could have prepared me.

While working for other families you learn intimate details about their life, like it or not.  They can try to act as professional as possible, create guest accounts on their computers, not invite you to personal birthday parties, etc.  But you still learn a lot about them.  As a nanny (CONFESSION), it's hard not to judge.  You observe from an outward prospective what works and what doesn't and it is easy to suggest or demand that this or that be done instead. 

And so it has been true for me.  I would listen to a mom whine about how her children won't stay in their own bed at night, and in my head be rolling my eyes thinking, "just make them!"  Or I would hear dad complain that their child was misbehaving all the time and I'd say to myself, "be consistent with discipline!"  And while I still stand behind those statements, I now have a greater awareness and more compassion for the difficulties of being a parent and the multifaceted insanity that comes with raising little humans.

It's easy to say that I had many expectations going into parenthood.  Genevieve was going to be exclusively breast fed till 1 year old.  Genevieve was going to sleep in her bassinet for 3 months and then be sleep trained. Genevieve was going to be on a consistent daily schedule.  etc etc etc. 

It's hard to admit (vulnerably) that this is so much harder than I imagined.  I am freaked out of my mind that I've ruined her for life and she's only been alive a short 10 weeks.  Sometimes when I put her in her crib for a nap and she's peacefully awake in there by herself, my heart aches and I feel a guilt that surpasses logic. In my head: she's lonely! she feels abandoned! I must spend every waking moment showing her my love!  As for my agenda, breast feeding is SUPER HARD!  Babies come with their own schedules and they are incredibly stubborn.  And finally, forget the bassinet, I'd rather have her in my arms! Or god forbid on her tummy lying next to me. *gasp* I broke one of the ten commandments.

All of this to say, I've been duped.  Punked.  It's nothing like I thought it would be, beyond what I could imagine, and everything I want.  As I've made this transition into mother hood I've begun to realize that I don't know as much as I thought I did.  Sorry for acting like a know it all for so many years.  ;)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Talking Your Child Off A Cliff

Has anyone else noticed that there are some whackadoodle parents and nannies out there?  Don't take this personally unless you are one of "those" people.  C'mon you all know the ones I'm talking about.  Those crazy people who let their kids do things you would never dream of allowing your child to do!  How dare they?  Don't they know they are setting a bad example?!

I'm sure we've all been on either side of this equation.  And lately I've been hearing a lot of, "But why can't I, Nanny Fawn?  Those kids are doing it!"  So then I'm posed with a dilemma.  Do I let Lil' Rap jump off the cliff just because all the other kids are doing it?  If I'm not going to allow it, what's my reason?  He doesn't really let me off the hook when I say, "Because I said so."

It's likely that now as we enter the pre-school to kindergarten state and Lil' Rap has more adult rule setters in his life, he is going to be getting mixed messages.  He may be allowed to do something at home (such as growling like a maniac dinosaur) that he's not allowed to do at school (he frightened the teacher with his roar).  So how do we teach our kids the difference and explain to their curious minds the reasoning behind our rule/boundary setting madness???

When I'm in these situations I start with:

"Is this a safety risk?"  The other day we were waiting in a line for the Nature Museum and there were some boys 7-10 years old climbing and running down a steep hill filled with tall grass weeds (the kind that cut you).  Now for boys 7-10 who are more in control of their bodies and understand that there is a bit of danger involved with maneuvering around tall weeds that cut, this activity is somewhat harmless. But for my 3.5 year old who will likely lay down on his belly and attempt to be a live bowling ball knocking down the weeds like pins, probably not so much.

So then I move into my next phase:

"Prepare for battle!"  Most likely a child isn't going to simply take your "NO" for a "NO."  In their minds (I don't know why, consult a psychologist) they hear, "Negotiate."  "But those kids are doing it!"  "I'll stay right in this area!"  "I will be very careful!"  "I promise, Nanny Fawn!"  It's heart wrenching, annoying, and meant to break down your defenses.  Stay strong!  I promise in the end it's so much easier to put up a fight now than to deal with the negative ramifications of giving into their desires when you know it isn't safe or good for them.  Believe me, would you rather spend your day cleaning the bloody scrapes off their face?  Uh no.  And if you think this is a "good life lesson," let me tell you, these "lessons" don't stick.  Your child's memory, no matter how intelligent they are, will not remember, they will inevitably try to do it all again in a month or so.

After you've won the battle, the teaching isn't over:

"Our rules are different than their rules."  It is so important that we go back to our children and explain ourselves and our reasoning, hoping that someday they will comprehend and some day they will be able to make safe and reasonable decisions.  Why should you expect this?  Because you taught them how to process!  In the above scenario, I got down on Lil' Rap's level and I explained it all to him.  "Dude, they have different rules than we do.  Some kids will get to do things that you aren't allowed to do because it might not be safe for you or because I want you to learn how to do different fun things.  That hill is way too high for you and those other boys are much older.  Someday, when you get to be that old, we can find a hill for you to run down."

Most of the time this ends our discussion.  Occasionally I have to repeat myself over and over and over again.  But the important thing is, you engaged with your child, you gave them concrete reasons and taught them how to think through something.  I believe that eventually, the more you do this, the more you train your child to your "way of doing things" the easier this whole process becomes.  It took me two minutes tops to go through this scenario with Lil' Rap, he knows me, he knows how far he can push, and I hope he appreciates that I saved him from looking like Scar from the Lion King for the rest of his life.

Feel free to message or comment with any questions or support you might need!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tales of Spring Break

Who's idea was it to go to the Aquarium on a free day during Spring Break?  I'm not always as smart as I seem.

I expected it to be busy ... but I underestimated the sheer popularity of this plan.  After driving around looking for parking for 20+ minutes and standing outside in line for 30+ minutes (in a line we found out was 3 hours long) we abandoned our plan.  Thankfully we were able to transition to the less popular museum next door without having to adjust our parking situation.

However, our second option was still seemingly as crazy as the first.  Lines, Lines, and more Lines with 3 boys aged 4-8.  We made it through one exhibit before one of the boys knocked his head on something and had a cut, black eye.  Off we go to the first aid center!  By this time it was lunch and we stood in yet another line to eat very bad for you McDonalds.  After filling our three rambunctious boys with sugar, salt, and fat we decided it would be more fun to sit outside and just let them run.

So basically after 3 hours of lines, we paid $22 (in parking) and $35 in bad food for our kids to run on hills filled with goose poop.

That's the kind of day we had.  How's your Spring Break going?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nanny Fawn MIA

I've entered the black hole of nanny-ing + pre-parenthood.  My absence the last couple of weeks is unforgivable as I'm sure without my knowledge and moving examples of well behaved, perfect children your house has turned into a tornado sight and your children have now been handed over to the local foster care system.

Or do I give myself too much credit?  ;)

Simply put, I have been consumed with the - not so much like a fluttering butterfly, but more like the IRS banging on your door with demands - baby inside my tummy and her imminent arrival that I have simply lost the "reserves of energy" to type up a post.  Is this the end of Nanny Fawn?!  *insert earth shattering scream*

As I ease into the third trimester of (excuse my bluntness) peeing and sleeping, I'm increasingly more frightened of the things I do not know.  Such as, what is a mucus plug?  How do I wash my baby's belly button?  These are things as Nanny Fawn that I have not been a witness to, nor a part of in a child's story.  So alas, I feel a bit inadequate in some areas and could most likely learn a thing or two from the mom's around me.  Most of these mom's are women I have "worked" for in watching their little humans.  They will now receive an equal amount of frantic emails and calls from Nanny Fawn on what to do when the first labor pain hits!  Beware to these mom's, you may want to change your phone #s!

So that's what's happening with the pregnancy.
As it relates to being a nanny and watching one of the most impressive humans I've come across - he's been particularly fantastic.  He said to me the other day, "Nanny Fawn, your tummy is getting big!"  (the open candidacy is one thing I adore about children).  Now that physical change is happening, he has become very interested in the - again, not fluttering, but demanding - baby in my tummy.

Mochaccina's first kiss

He has been giving her massages, singing her lullabies, and making his demands: "She WILL live with me Nanny Fawn!"  "I'm going to teach her how to walk!"  "She NEEDS to come out tomorrow!"  
and his questions: "Is she sleeping?"  "Will she like dinosaurs?"  "How did she get in there?"(eek!)  
and his assessments: "I have a baby in my tummy too!"  "She will be look like me!"  

I couldn't ask for a better, more tenacious, caring role model for our little Mochaccina and am more than excited to see how the relationship develops between the two of them as cousins by proxy.  

I will do my best in the midst of all this preggo-hood and keeping a near 4 year old (when did he grow up?) alive to write posts on things to buy, what to cook, and how to stay sane with your mean, abusive, and outrageous little beasts.  

Apologies for my absence,
Nanny Fawn

Friday, March 8, 2013

Visiting Grandparents

Do visiting grandparents bring you relief or nightmares???

Any time you have guests in your home it can be a disruption.  Kids generally respond best when there is routine and structure, which can be hard to maintain when you have visiting family or friends.  For me I've had a wide range of experience when it comes to the families I work for having grandparents visit.

Some grandparents are hands on whereas others are more comfortable sitting back and observing; some grandparents want to go go go and others would rather sip tea and chat at home; some grandparents are very amendable to the house rules, whereas others have opinions and other ideas.  With each set of grandparents I've known they have all had different impacts on the family system.  For parents it can be difficult having your mom and dad in your space or your in laws pushing their ideas and philosophies down your throat.

Here are a few of my thoughts on how to make these visits the most pleasant:

1.  Communicate early and often.  Be upfront with the grandparents what the schedule is for their visit, what activities the kids are involved in and have an idea of what special outings you will take.  Explain to them the house rules, your philosophies, and be clear that if you want their advice, you will ask for it.  Make it clear to them who is in charge, whether your nanny will be there during the day, or you want them to watch the kids while you are working.

2.  Set up a clear length of stay.  This can be an experiment at first, learning how long you can handle having others in your space.  Whether it be 3 days, 1 week, or 1 month, make sure it is something you and your spouse and nanny/children can handle, remember - it is a disruption to your family system!

3.  Facilitate the relationship between your nanny/caregiver and your parents: make it clear to both sets who will be in charge, who will handle discipline, and who will drive or organize activities for the day.  Check in with your nanny, make sure she is comfortable - give feedback to your parents on how they are treating your caregiver.  Let your nanny know if this is a week she can have a little flexibility at work for appointments and such or if you need her to stick to her strict work schedule.

4.  Encourage grandparents to step in and help out as they want to, especially when it comes to reading books before bedtimes or making crafts and playing games.  Set them up to succeed, if they have a particular strength, use it!  Encourage your child to engage with their grandparents, to ask them for help or to attend classes and activities.  Ask grandparents for help such as babysitting for your date night or making freezer meals, most grandparents want to feel helpful, give them something to do!

5.  Set up proper hellos and good byes.  It is important to transition well, prepare your children that things might be different while grandma and grandpa are visiting.  Make sure to say goodbye and not just let them leave during nap times.  Talk about when they might come visit again and what you might want to do differently next time.  Always stay in communication with your spouse and caregiver/nanny about how the week went and how the next visit could be better

The relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren should be honored and cherished.  While it is hard at times to have others in your home and space, if you have good, open communication and plan ahead of time, the visit can be smooth and comforting to all!

*** Nanny tips on dealing with grandparents will be in another post.

And what's a grandparent post without a pic of me and my grandma (and cousin H).  :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recipe: Chili

My favorite healthy chili recipe, enjoyable for parents and kids!

1/2 tsp olive oil
1 cup bell peppers (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
30 ounces canned dark kidney beans (rinsed)
29 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
3 cups meat (I prefer ground turkey or chicken)
1 Tbs chili powder 
1 tsp corriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (skip if sharing with children)
1 tsp salt

1.  In a large skillet sautee the peppers, onion, and garlic with olive oil until onions are soft and clear
2.  In a separate skillet, brown the meat 
3.  Once onions and meat are cooked: mix all the ingredients, except for cheese, together in a large pot and simmer for 25 minutes
4.  Sprinkle cheese on after dishing into bowls

Makes approx. 8 servings

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gender Reveal Parties

As a new mommy-to-be I have been obsessed with Pinterest ideas, trends, & nursery decorating tips!  One new (at least to me) trend among couples is to have a Gender Reveal Party.  The idea is that instead of finding out if you are having a boy or girl in a doctors office, you have the doctor write down the gender and put it in an envelope.  From there you take this envelope to a bakery, party store, etc depending on what "the plan" is.  I've seen pictures of couples releasing pink or blue balloons from a box or cutting a cake to reveal an inner layer of pink or blue frosting.
So when it came time for our own gender reveal, it was a no brainer!  I wanted to have a small dinner party and find out with our friends.  We decided to use the cake idea and headed off to our favorite bakery, Swedish Bakery, in Andersonville, Chicago.  The girls who took our order were SO EXCITED!  One of them even cried!  As we left I looked at my friend and said, "they might be more excited than me!"  It was such a relief not to have the envelope in my possession anymore as it was very tempting to forget the whole plan and take a peek.
Our party was very small, intimate, and simple: we invited 6 close friends over for dinner and had my family who lives in Michigan skype in for the cake cutting.  It was a lot of fun!  Our guests wore pink or blue depending on what their vote was, we decorated with pink & blue streamers, plates, silverware, had pink and blue sodas, hershey bars, and a poster where we tallied our votes.
It was a huge surprise when our cake turned out to be pink on the inside as we both had the feeling it would be blue.  Now in the aftermath of our party, I am so happy to always have those memories of sharing the moment with our friends.

And now, the next big secret ... what's her name???

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Recipe: Mozzarella Crisps

For a crunchy, salty, protein snack (instead of chips) that are fun for all:

2 Sargento Mozzarella (low fat, skim) Cheese Stick

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Cut the cheese stick into round flat disks and place them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper
3.  Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on desired crispiness

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Public Appearances Got You Down?

A nanny friend and I met up for lunch today with our combined three kiddos.  We've been doing this for a few years now and had a good laugh remembering back to one of the first times...

Back then we were juggling a toddler, baby, and infant between us and were barely able to speak two words to each other.  Why would we put ourselves through this madness???  Because when you are home all day you absolutely must get out of the house and see and interact with adults.

Today our scenario is a little different, three toddlers, 3-4.5 years old.  Our madness is a little different, and we're sort of able to talk to each other a little bit better now.  It's just too funny of a site: food dropping on the floor, kids kissing each other with pizza faces, laughing, screeching, food flying out of mouths, and constant wriggling in the chairs.

In my experience I've learned a few tips to help with heading out into public and attempting to NOT be one of "those caregivers" who has the screaming, misbehaved imbeciles.

1.  Pre-game!  Talk to your child about where you are going, who you will see, and what the expectations are.  For example, "Lil' Rap, we are going to go to Giordanos for with L&E.  We're going to eat pizza and I need you to listen and pay attention.  I want you to sit in your chair properly and use your manners.  We will not be having dessert at the end, but you can have a special treat later today."  This usually extends into a dialogue of a million questions, but you get the point.  Prepare them, make sure they know what you want and expect of them!

2.  Pack Essentials!  This gets easier as they get older, but it's always good to have their favorite snacks on hand for when they get impatient waiting or refuse to eat what you ordered.  Throw in some small toys/crayons/etc to keep them occupied.  This will also help so you can actually have a slight conversation with the other frazzled adult sitting across from you.  Don't forget wipes, bib, and utensils!

3.  Post game! Reward and acknowledge your child's good behavior or if it didn't go so well, talk about what you can do differently next time.

These steps are written for a restaurant outing, but you can apply these tips anywhere: the store, a playdate, a meeting, class, etc.  In all cases, remember: choose your battles and stay calm when things don't go perfect.

A little extra note:
Many kids use public appearances as an opportunity to get what they want, embarrass you, attempt to gain control.  Don't give in!  If your child starts screaming for a candy bar, don't give it to them just because they are embarrassing you.  Walk out of the store or find an area you can speak to them and firmly discipline/reprimand them for their behavior and move on.  Giving in once starts a pattern and they will use it every time!  Save yourself, don't get started or stop the craziness.  More on this in the future...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Recipe: Black Bean & Spinach Quesadilla

Need an easy & quick high protein, fiber meal for you or your little one?  Try my Black Bean & Spinach Quesadilla!  Kids love this recipe because they can eat it with their fingers and it can be dipped in Ranch, Hummus, or another favorite sauce.  Parents/Caregivers love it because it's healthy, easy, and quick! 

2 Whole Wheat Tortillas (any brand, but I like low carb, high fiber brands)
1/2 cup Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup fresh or canned Spinach
1/4 cup rinsed Black Beans

1.  Spread half of the cheese on tortilla
2.  Sprinkle black beans on top of cheese
3.  Add spinach
4.  Top off with remaining cheese and tortilla

Put on plate and microwave 1 minute, flip Quesadilla and cook 1 more minute.

Using a non stick skillet, cook Quesadilla on each side approx. 3 min each or until cheese melts.

Happy Friday everyone!