Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Agony and the...Agony

For the record, I hate moving. Also for the record, I particularly hate this kind of moving, which is the kind where I can't just throw a bunch of crap into a laundry basket, dump it out at the new location, and deal with it at my leisure. I have to, like, sort it all RIGHT NOW. And it's a complete pain.

Also a complete pain is the way it makes no sense to ship items that I can purchase for minimal cost at Target once I'm there. I'm now the proud possessor of a box of various medications, hair care products, and lotions I got on clearance, all of which need to be redistributed. I'd just leave it at Jarod's house as a special surprise, but A) I don't think he'll use the hairspray, and also B) Since he reads my blog, I don't think it would really be a surprise.

On the bright side, thanks to a fabulous little crew of helpers yesterday, most items that are going to be stored at my folks are out. (Thanks, Jarod, Steve, Jeff, Jeremy, Tim, Amy, and Laci!) I have to be out of the apartment, officially out, as in "Hand over your keys, ma'am, or pay another month's rent" out, by Wednesday. I've still got a lot to do, so if you don't hear from me, either A) Assume I'm fine and go on about your business, or B) Stop by to dig me out from under the rubble pile I'm creating. Either option is appropriate.

Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, folks. And even if you're not having a ton of fun, remember: It could be worse; you could be packing.

Friday, May 26, 2006

One Last Day

Today is my last day caring for Jack and Mary Liz full time.

And it feels really, really weird.

Good-bye for now, little munchkins. I love you lots!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Two Days Left, and No One's Drowned Yet

Jack has been showing an interest (and by "interest," I mean "obsession") suddenly in no one seeing him naked. Ever. Even if he's about to die. Less than two weeks ago he was jumping around on his parents' bed wearing nothing but a smile, and now he won't let me stay in the bathroom while he bathes, except briefly to wash his hair, when I am instructed that I'd better not try to look at all. Today I leveled with him, "Look, Jack, I have no interest in staring at your private parts. I do, however, have an interest in you getting clean and not drowning in the tub." He'd prefer I go all the way downstairs, just to insure that I don't get even a hint of a peek at his naked body, but I'm not so indulgent. I told him I could stay in the next room, but I need to be able to at least hear him if I can't supervise him visually.

So I'm sitting in the bedroom, thumbing through a copy of New York, when I hear a bit of splashing, a thump, and then silence. I opened the door to see just his knees up in the air, and I couldn't see anything else. Like, you know, his head.

Raise your hand if you would have freaked out, too.

Thank you.

(Turns out he was merely submerged aside from his mouth and nose. Whew. Life goes on.)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I'm So Over the "I Can Lift All the Heavy Furniture, Too!" Crap

But apparently no one else thinks I should be, as I've yet to secure help in loading (just loading! no unloading! quick and easy!) my moving truck next Saturday. I mean, except for my boyfriend and maybe my dad, who I was hoping to let off the hook on the loading since he'd be the one waiting at the unloading site, having moved eighty-three katrillion metric tons of crap out of the basement so that my stuff will fit. (There's a car you can't even see in there people. A car. And we're not talking little Geo Metro either. We're talking '68 Oldsmobile. Obviously, the man has plenty to do already.) Right, so, where was I? Oh, yes, I was about to go through my e-mail address book and ask everyone I know or kind of know or maybe don't exactly remember if they'd like to help me load a U-Haul next Saturday around noon.

I'm serving lunch, people.

GOOD lunch.

Perhaps you'd like to help?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

You Can Just Ignore the Sighing Sound That's Coming from, Well, Um, Right Over Here

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that I am kind of nuts. I mean, who gets three weeks off work between jobs, yet still plans all her packing and moving for while she's still working? (That's my hand that's raised, thanks.) My apologies for all the social events missed, the e-mails not yet returned, and the fact that I have ceased to reply to comments. I'm just...just...so...exhausted. And yet:

Boxes packed: 16

Cat-hair-covered lamps donated shamelessly to Goodwill: 3

Lies told to me by the Goodwill people, who said they'd "seen worse": 2

Bags of peanut butter Hershey's Kisses consumed: 1/2, nearing 2/3

Number of times I teared up last night while taking all my decor off the walls: Eleventy gazillion

Cats who don't know what the hell to make of all this, but do enjoy sleeping on top of the new suitcase: 2

Monday, May 15, 2006

Ow-OOOOOOOOOO

We've got the blues on in the other room, and Mary Liz is howling along.

Yes, that's right, I said howling.

It sounds perfect.

And Then, We NAP

Today Mary Liz was chatting with me as I packed up kitchen equipment, and, with a very serious air, she presented the facts of summer camp. "They don't have naps at camp," she announced with a sigh. "This," she continued, "is not so good, because I really like naps."

Have I trained her right or what?

I promised that for the next two weeks, we will take some really good naps so that we can enjoy them while they last.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

On the Occasion of Our Fourth Anniversary

trio

Dear Jack and Mary Liz,

All I can think to say is how lucky I feel to have been your nanny these four years. I know that there are many things I should mention, to call attention to how we've grown and changed over time. But what I think of most today is how steady it has been to be with you, to call you mine. While so many other things have changed in my life, spending time with you has been a constant. I am so grateful for that. I am thankful for your constant love, for your sticky kisses, for the dependability of your hugs at the end of the day. Thank you, thank you, thank you, over and over again, for loving me so sweetly all this time.

Things are about to change for us in a big way. You'll go off to summer camp and then to school, and I'll go off to Connecticut, which seems very far away indeed. As much as it's the right thing to do, it's also a hard thing to do because I will miss you so very much. I love you, Jack and Mary Liz. I know that you don't always understand why I'm leaving, but I do hope you understand that my love for you is as deep and wide as it ever was, and no matter what, no matter what, I will always be your nanny.

Much love, with lots of hugs and kisses and squeezes and really funny jokes,
Mary

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Excuse Me, But I Must Go Breathe Into a Paper Bag Now

I just packed up all but two of my mugs and all of my glassware into two boxes. One of the boxes will stay shut nicely on its own, but the other had to be taped shut. It seemed so...final. Like I was actually going to move or something.

Boxes packed: 7

Trunks packed: 2

Bags of castoff goods to go to Goodwill: 5

Number of VHS tapes of movies featuring John Cusack included in those Goodwill-bound bags: innumerable

Bathrooms left to clean: 1

Mint M&M's consumed: So. Totally. NOT. COUNTING.

Huge, cluttery messes made in the process of packing: 342

A Preview of Coming Attractions

Somebody hunkered down in front of her computer last night and took care of some photos. No, they're not the photos from my vacation in March; those aren't done yet (shut up). They're photos that are time-sensitive, as in: Must have prints made and framed by tomorrow morning when I leave for work. Click here to see a little preview of a larger celebration, which is slated for tomorrow afternoon.

Four years. Whoa.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Numerically Speaking

Boxes packed: 5

Bags of castoff clothing to go to Goodwill: 3

Dishes washed in an attempt to make it look like someone who cares about cleanliness lives here: 894 kajillion

Bathrooms left to clean: 1

Brownies consumed: not counting

Naps needed today: 2

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Eighteen Days

I have eighteen days before my official move day (out of the apartment, by the way, not out of state), and here I am, with just two boxes out of a possible twenty-four bajillion packed, eating brownies and blogging.

But really, the brownie-eating part helps with the move. I think it's required to eat all decent foodstuffs before moving. I'm starting with the brownies.

If worse comes to worse (and it usually does when I move), I have an additional four days to get the last of my stuff out before the management company comes to pry the keys out of my hands, but still. STILL.

I probably ought to go fill some boxes with my worldly goods now.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Part Where I Wade Into the Deep End and Hope I Don't Drown

Ever since I read Tim's comment on my last post, I've been in thought about what it means to be a nanny and a blogger. While I've made certain decisions about what I will and will not blog about related to my job, I've never explained any of them. I figured most of it could go without saying. Then again, maybe some of it should be said. Googling "nannies who blog" led me to a link which led me to this story, which made me think a whole lot about why I blog the parts of my job (and even my life) that I do, and I why I leave some things out.

I'll start out by saying that I never really thought my blog would be read by much of anybody. In comparison to other sites, it's really not. At the same time, the numbers on that corny counter to the left keep going up, and I know there are a lot more of you reading than I'm comfortable sharing all my secrets with. I also know that, even though I've never given them the link, there's a possibility that my current or future employers and/or people they know and love read my blog. I suppose my main rule of thumb here is that I respect that, that I would like to respect them, not only by what I do during the weekday, but by how I treat them on the web and by what information I make available both about my job and about my personal life. While I believe in freedom of speech, I also believe in personal responsibility, and one of my personal responsibilities is protecting the relationship I have to the family for which I work. Nannying is a job unlike any other, in that I am paid to care for (and not just in a physical sense, but in the sense of forging an emotional bond) people I never would have met if we hadn't had needs that could be met by the other. I needed a job, and they needed someone to do a job, the job of helping raise their children.

Helaine Olen speaks of having her nanny refer to her home as "work" and how that broke a covenant. Perhaps I am missing out on some necessary context, but I don't think it's wrong to call the place where I have a job "work." I work in someone's home. I love their children dearly. But it's still work. I'm still there because I was offered a paycheck. Olen writes, "Most parents don't like to think the person watching their children is there for a salary. We often build up a mythology of friendship with our nannies, pretending the nanny admires us and loves our children so much that she would continue to visit even without pay." Visit, yes. Do the job without sufficient pay: No.

It's a tricky situation. Of course parents want to think the nanny would care even if she weren't paid. And she probably would. I'm not there for the salary alone. However, the truth is that I couldn't be there without the check, that I wouldn't want to be there without the check--not because I don't truly love the kids, but because I need to feel loved and appreciated in return. Words are wonderful, and I certainly treasure the many lovely things my employers have said to me over the years, but words aren't enough. In our culture, good work is rewarded by pay. Your value to your employer is compensated monetarily; the more they value your skills and what you have to offer, the more they're willing to pay. It's true of trash collectors, and it's true of executives, and it's true of nannies, too. When I am underpaid, like it or not, I feel as if I am not highly valued.

I recognize that the nanny job market here in the Midwest is not what it is on the East Coast. One of the purposes of this post is to clarify that, in my last post, when I mentioned being underpaid, that I don't feel it is my employers' fault. Nannies here don't make as much as they do elsewhere, and I can't expect someone to pay me a great deal more than they'd have to pay someone else. It wouldn't be fair of me to expect that. At the same time, it is fair of me to decide to move on so that I can make the kind of money I believe I'm worth. I have had nothing but support from my current employers as I've made the move, and I want to be clear, crystal clear, that I respect the decisions they've made when it comes to my pay, that I appreciate with all my heart everything they've done to make this opportunity possible for me. I couldn't have done this without them.

And I guess that all I have to say about that.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

For What I'm Worth

Though I'm a little wary of sharing too much about my new job, especially since I haven't signed the actual contract yet, I decided it was time to pony up some details. Many of you who know me in real life will know most of this already, so you can skip some of it, but you might want to come back at the end where I explain what all this means to me and how it's going to change my life and other crap I'd totally spill if I were on Oprah's couch.

The other night a friend asked me what is close by my new job, and I said, "Dunkin' Donuts." Partly I said it because I hadn't really seen anything else in my new town, but partly because it really is exciting to me to have that haven of raspberry-filled bliss close at hand. I also discovered via online exploration that there's a Trader Joe's in town and an Ikea just down the highway. Connectictut, it turns out, has a lot to offer. In addition, I'll be less than an hour by train (or by car, if you really like traffic that much) from Manhattan, and I think we all know what I can get in Manhattan: chocolate babka. Do I really need to say more?

I'll be taking care of two school-aged kids, ages ten and seven, a girl and a boy, respectively. They'll have swimming in the summer, and maybe tennis, and school and skiing in the fall and winter. It will be my job to take care of anything that relates to their care. I'll be chauffeur, cook, event planner, laundress, entertainment director, and comedienne. Listed it seems like a lot, in practical application, it will be more than manageable. It's the kind of thing I'm good at, and I like doing it. My hours will be long for the summer, but once school hits, I'll have a lot of free time during the day. During my phone interview the parents asked if that would be a problem and I was at a loss for words for a second. Um, why would that be a problem? Do you know how many hobbies I have? In addition, there will also be travel, some international, some domestic. The whole family loves to ski, so they'll be gone to their place in Vermont nearly every weekend in the winter, and I'll have the house to myself, to play Pac Man at will on the television in the basement.

I'll have my own quarters, though I'll be using the family kitchen for my meals. I like them so well that I don't mind; I can't imagine being uncomfortable walking in to grab a cup of tea or a sandwich on the weekends. During the week I'll eat most of my meals on the clock, so that will be natural anyhow. When I'm not working or in their kitchen, I'll spend my time in a large, quiet room above the garage. It has a walk-in closet (let me say that again: WALK. IN. CLOSET.) and a large bath. It's big enough to be split into bedroom and living room, and that is my plan, with one of the alcoves serving as a tiny office. It lacks a couch, but IKEA and their fabulously cheap (yet handsome!) foam furniture will take care of that. The bathroom will probably also see the addition of some sort of cabinet that is easily assembled and disassembled so that I can take it with me when I go. I think it will be a good home for me, full of light, with a heated floor for those cold Connecticut winter days.

As much as I love my apartment now, and sometimes, ahem, cry because I hate the thought of packing everything up and leaving it behind, I am very much looking forward to the change.

As I am looking forward to the job itself. This may sound totally cheesy, but what I feel about this job, besides that it's going to be a great fit, is that it validates my career choices. It is a struggle to feel like a professional in a job that some people think monkeys can do. It is a also a struggle to feel like a professional when I'm being paid far less than I'm worth. Moving to Connecticut affords me a certain level of respect I've never experienced (except from friends who really know what my job is about), accompanied by appropriate monetary compensation. There, I'm a professional, with a career, not just someone who is mistaken for a babysitter. And I like that very much.

I will miss Jack and Mary Liz immensely, but is time to move on. I don't have a great many complaints about this job; that isn't why I'm leaving. It's just that I need more from what I'm doing, and I have to move to get it. I don't think I'm alone; people move all the time for the very same reason. I'm ready to be taken seriously, and I'm ready to be paid well, and I'm ready to finally get out of debt. The move is right, and the timing is right. I'm ready.

I don't know if I'll stay after my year contract is up or not, though I've been asked that a lot, as if I should already know. A lot can change in a year, so I really can't say. I've promised this new family a full year, and I will give them a good year, and when that's over, we'll see where life stands. The possibility exists that I could end up back here, facing the same things I face now, but without the crippling debt that stands in my way at this point. It's also possible that I'll end up staying a bit longer or end up somewhere completely different. That will be a decision to make then, not now. For now I'm going to enjoy this chapter of my life. I'm going to cry a little (okay, okay, a lot) while I'm packing up and saying my good-byes. But I'm going to do this right, and I'm not going to waste my opportunity. I'm going to live it well.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Both Kids Are Wearing Yesterday's Underwear

I'd like to point out at that I did not help them dress this morning, and therefore it is not my fault.

I'd also like to point out that, given the opportunity, Mary Liz would skip bathing altogether and wear the same socks and underwear all week long. Once I even caught her trying to put dirty socks on after her bath. (Because they were her favorites, and, duh, stupid nanny, how could she possibly wear any of her other, obviously inferior socks?)

I'm not recording this so much for any purpose today, but more for years in the future when she's highly embarassable (yes, I make up my own words, thanks) and I can direct her to a place that it's published for the whole internet to read.

Or I can direct her first boyfriend to it, which may be even better. Because, really, I've got to do something to even the score for all those times she's wiped her boogers on my shirt and laughed about it.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I Don't Think I've Mentioned Lately How High the LAME-O Level is Around Here

But here's what I'm doing right now, and, not-so-oddly enough, finding completely entertaining.

I'm watching my cats.

Yes. I know. I know, I know, I KNOW.

I was honestly going to tell you how funny it is watching the one cat who is afraid of the other cat who still smells like the vet try to get out of the office while vet-smelling-cat sits in the doorway, but then it struck me that, well, maybe that's, I don't know...a little wee tiny smallish bit lame.

If you need me, I'll be appliqueing patchwork kitty-cats on the heather grey sweatshirts I got on sale at Hobby Lobby. I'm planning on using buttons for eyes. Won't that just be so cute?

Jarod Insisted That His Tractor Driving Get Top Billing

jarod drives the tractor

I personally find it to be much more important that you know that he bought me powdered sugar doughnuts and an Us Weekly (come on over to the dark side, baby), but he has some misguided notions about driving tractors and being cool and whatnot. Whatever. Did you get the part about the powdered sugar doughnuts and the Us Weekly?

I always dreamed of dating a man that would cave to my need for items covered in confectioner's sugar and gossip magazines.

I did not, however, dream of dating a man who could drive a tractor. I mean, that's nice and all, but really: How about another bag of doughnuts and a People?