Anyone else not know what to do with their kiddos and just letting them climb the cat tower? (more…)
Anyone else not know what to do with their kiddos and just letting them climb the cat tower? (more…)
When looking for a nanny there’s a lot to consider. I’ve been asked countless times about the process of finding a nanny as well as what to look for in a nanny. As a former nanny to a handful of different families as well as being part of a community of other nannies I have quite a bit of experience to share. I hope you find my perspective helpful and can share this with anyone you may know who is searching for their dream nanny. (more…)
Today was my last day as a nanny to my precious charges. But this is not the end.
After nearly three years I felt like it was time for them to have a fresh face. Though it’s the most difficult thing to walk away I ultimately want the best for them and right now that isn’t me. The boys deserve a refreshed presence with a whole new batch of enthusiasm. I want it to be me. I’ve prayed for it to be me. But sometimes things are necessary for a season and I’d say I had a pretty good run. (more…)
My sister called me a city hipster recently. I have no idea what she means.
Our schedule has been all over the place this new year. While I’m ready to slow down and take a break I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed our busy schedule. (more…)
“Matalie hike it to me, hike it.” You said as you passed me the football in the backyard. I’d throw the ball your way and you’d dive for it because I’m a terrible throw. “No hike it, hike it!” You yell, and throw the ball back.
“Oh hike it, ok. Ready?” I turn around and bend at the waist. “Set. Hike!” I toss the ball to you through my legs. You catch it and proceed to run laps around the yard chanting “Woooo!” cause that’s your thing. Eventually you get tired of my terrible throwing so you decide to throw the ball upwards and catch it that way instead. Then you run past me football tucked in one hand, and you stretch your other hand out for me to smack it as you run by.
You love chanting, cheering, singing, music and sports. You are the truest and most spirited boy I’ve ever known.
You bravely waded your way all around the shallow end of the pool last summer. Puffing your chest out showing me what a big kid you were. You can take a serious fall, and you hardly ever cry crocodile tears. Now that you’re in school all week our time together has been shortened. But the time we do have has been all the sweeter.
One morning when I picked you up for school you stomped and huffed because you either didn’t want to go to school, or you didn’t want to go to school with me, but with Daddy instead. Once I dropped you off at school before you got out of the car you leaned forward to kiss me on the cheek. Smitten, I watched you walk down the sidewalk. You turned and leaned down so you could meet my eyes through the windshield and you waved. “Bye Ry.” I mouthed to you super confused by your hot and cold demeanor.
But you were already galloping toward the school doors in a hurry. You’re always in a hurry to get places aren’t you?
You love food, tight hugs, learning, wrestling and affection.
You are the wildest and toughest boy I’ve ever known.
You and I spend lots of time together during the school year, little bud. You may not remember it all but I certainly will. Every moment, every milestone, every kiss, every laugh.
Leaving my apartment once I asked you if you wanted to take the elevator or the stairs. You said stairs more likely because it was the last thing I said but we took them nonetheless. As we walked down the stairwell you shaped your mouth into an O and said “Who, who.”
“Hey little owl.” I replied. “You like hearing your echo in here? Is that why you wanted to take the stairs?”
“Jeah.” You responded.
You’re talking a ton and trying desperately to keep up with your rowdy brothers these days. When you don’t have it in you to wrestle any more you seem perfectly happy picking out a book with me and sitting in my lap while I read you a story.
You love playing, exploring, soccer, mud puddles, your big brothers and kisses, oh those two year old kisses may they never go away.
You are the most genuine amiable boy I’ve ever known.
I miss you quite a bit buddy, and your family misses you dearly.
You were a good dog. Such a good dog, picking up after the boy’s spills so I didn’t have to worry about them. Whether we stepped in dripping from the rain, or exhausted from the heat you were always there to welcome us home, happily wagging your tail.
Caleb mentioned you in the car to Grant just the other day. He whispered in the sweetest tone, “Grantsy you miss Bailey? It’s ok. Mommy and daddy had to take him to the hospital. He’s ok now. He’s a star.”
It’s lonely without you sweet boy there’s no denying that but we couldn’t ever forget you. May you rest and be at peace now.
What happened to that little Grant, nestled comfortably on my shoulder? We’d walk to the end of the driveway wrapped with one of his cozy blankets to shield us from the cold. He’d just begun his cooing, and his giggles. He’d just begun developing his pallete for baby purees, and rolling over toward his light up toys.
Then he started crawling toward me as I ate my lunch on the floor. He started asking for more of this, and some more of that, in his sweet baby signs.
He pushes both feet together to jump down every step he comes across, because walking down steps one by one is for the boring. I’ll go out of my way to let him step onto the curbs when we’re running errands, just so he can jump off.
Now, I’m standing at the end of the driveway with him in my arms. He’s just woken up from his nap, and is happy to be held face to face with me. He tucks one arm in, and points to my mouth with the other. “Mou” He says. I respond with “Yes, Natalie’s mouth.”
He points to a car whizzing by, and I say, “Yup that’s a red car.” Most of my week consists of stating the complete obvious. Sure, sometimes I do crave a bit of adult conversation, but for the most part it’s actually opened my eyes to the simplest pleasures in life.
Grant points towards a bird, hopping about in front of us, and excitedly squeals. “Berr!!” So I stop to notice the sweet little creature, and of course respond to Grant with a Tweet Tweet. The bird flys away, and I tell Grant all about how the bird must be going home to his nest, up in a tall, tall tree.
Grant looks around, and I say, “Where’s Caleb?”
He throws his arm out, palm face up, and gives me a puzzled look.
“He should be here soon, he’s coming home on the bus.”
Grant points down the road in the direction the bus comes from, and the second he hears that bus engine whirring, his face lights up, knowing his brother is home.
I set him down, and he runs back up to the house next to Caleb. I sit on the recliner to write a note about what we did that day. In walks Grant pushing a kiddie slide up toward the couch. He climbs up to the top, and his knees get bending. He’s popping up and down, full of excitement. Prepping for his jump.
I know what he’s doing. He’s seen his brothers do the same exact thing. Caleb and Ryder have been perfecting their spins, and flips onto the couch for years. They’re natural little daredevils, and you better believe Grant is ready to run with the pack.
Caleb runs over and sits on the couch. “Come on Grantsy, you can do it. Come on!” Caleb waves his hands for Grant, encouraging him to make the leap.
I make myself as small as possible, careful not to disrupt such a sweet moment shared between two brothers.. Grant makes the leap, and he doesn’t quite make it.. I wait a couple seconds to see his reaction. Caleb whispers “It’s ok Grantsy, it’s ok.” And Grant is right back up, brushing himself off, and already to the top of the slide to try again. This time he makes it. Caleb cheered, and squeezed his brother tight, and Grant’s face was absolutely priceless from his triumph. I wish I had more words to describe that moment, but I don’t. I wish I had more words to describe the feeling of watching children grow, and feeling like stages last forever, until they’re over, and you wonder why you ever blinked. But there isn’t a way to describe those things. Because they’re just feelings. And those are the very best things in life, I think. The moments that cannot be described.. The ones that you capture and set aside to live in your memory for good.. The ones that you can look back on, and think to yourself…
Can I be transparent? It was a really hard summer this year. The boys had about three times my energy each. Even with the triple espressos I’d sometimes put in my coffee each morning. One shot of espresso for each boy. That’s how to do it.
I started out with grand plans of fun filled summer activities and games which were quickly thrown out the window in week 3. These boys wanted to tumble, wrestle, swim, climb, hop, yell, slide, and play their way through summer, not color and make construction paper olympic torches. It was a sacrifice for me. I’m good with it.
Sometimes they got along adorably together, and other times the sibling rivalry was unreal.
Sometimes we’d have really sweet moments, and the next they were destructive, loud, rule breaking little wild things.
The amount of boundaries that were tested this summer was no joke. We all had to have alot of patience with each other and take alot of deep breaths.
Once every other week this summer we’d meet up with Brandon and take the munchkins to Chick-fil-a together for lunch. We’d park at Brandon’s work and wait for him to come out. Caleb would shout from the back seat, “I see him, I see him, it’s Bandon! Yay!” And I could take a solid sigh of relief for an hour.
Brandon had a great reserve of energy to wrangle up the boys when my energy levels were depleting.
We went to the pool a ton which was just fine because they’re total water babies.
Nannying can only be as great as the parents that you nanny for. They’ll make or break your experience.
Two years ago I sat on the Coggins couch. Caleb was kicking a soccer ball around the house. Ryder was hiding behind the coffee table, and Grant was a tiny little 3 month old laying in Mandy’s arms. They asked me questions about my experience. They were in search of a nanny, and I was in search of a job. First impression, I had a good feeling about them. I thought they were such a cool family and I totally desired to be a part. I had one more interview with another family and told them I would get back to them. They respected that, but as I left Jacob still threw out there, “I’m pretty certain you’ll want to choose us.”
Look at that. He was right.
I met up with Brandon on his lunch break the next day. We parked on the street in front of a sandwich shop, and ran inside from the autumn rain. I told him how eager I was to work for the Coggins. I frantically checked my email, and lit up when I saw something from Mandy saying they’d love to have me as their nanny if I was able. That night I accepted and have been unable to tear myself away from the family that has so graciously let me in.
Jacob is most like the big brother I never had. From helping us move to poking fun at me when he came home one day to find me knitting at naptime.
When Mandy gets home she takes the time to meet my eyes, and ask how I am. All in the midst of the boys begging for that much needed mommy attention. That, and the snacks in her bag, definitely the snacks in her bag. She always catches me off guard, as I’m watching their interaction and usually in a daze, having only spoken to children all day.
I once burned my gums with a hot dinner and told her about it a couple days later when a painful sore began to develop and kept me from chewing on that side. She gave me a numbing gel and later asked how I felt. “This area is actually starting to feel tender,” I said, pointing under my jaw, “do you think that’s related?”
She looked to where I was pointing and said, “that’s your lymph node baby. It may be your body fighting an infection.”
She calls the boys baby. Surprisingly that was all the comfort I needed. One affectionate word that made me feel taken care of. Like a family member. Like one of my big sisters was standing there concerned for me.
One day Mandy even texted me that I seemed defeated the day before. She offered to have me drop the boys off during her lunch break, so I could get away for an hour. I went home and slept. The second I walked in and hit the couch my mind shut off. My ears rung with silence and my eyes quickly saw the backs of my eyelids.
Consistency with kids is ridiculously important.
If you care for kids all day and their parents are not consistent with the same rewards and consequences, your work is all for nothing. When consistency is lacking kids learn to make it through the day just until their parents come home and they can have their way. I’m so thankful that Jacob and Mandy are not that way. It benefits everyone involved when all parties are consistent.
While the boys may grow anxious toward the end of the day for Mommy and Daddy to come home it’s only because they legitimately miss them and are ready for their evening routine. The kiddos understand that I’m the one in charge and they’re good with it. They know that if Mommy and Daddy get a good report from me they’ll be praised. It makes our days smoother.
Caleb is totally aware of these end of the day reports. When he gets off the bus each day and gets inside he’ll point to Grant and say “Matalie, how was he today? Where’d you take him? Has he eaten a snack yet? Did he nap good?”
It’s pretty sweet what kids pick up on.
The ends of my days this summer left me sweaty, bruised from flailing legs not patient enough for shoe tying. I had chlorine filled frizzy hair and I was exhausted beyond words. When people would hear that they’d ask me how, and why I still did it. Why I didn’t find a new job. But this isn’t just a job to me anymore. This is family. The only answer I’d have for them was that the boys had amazing parents and if I seemed to have my hands full, my heart was even fuller.
Hey guys, summer’s here.
Actually it’s been here for a couple weeks. I’m just beginning to get my bearings.
Because, as the lady from camp mentioned “Girlie, you got your hands full.”
Cue Caleb spinning, and giggling down the hall, Ryder close behind squealing as his backpack strings bounce behind. Grant picks up pace, and I pick up mine, until I have to actually jog, because they’re all now in a full on sprint toward the door.
School is out, which means this kiddo ↓ gets all the pool time he can dream of. But you better believe that come nap time, after the wet clothes are hung to dry for the next day, and the lunch dishes are put away, Caleb and I curl up together to read a book.
I read a couple chapters out of this Magic Tree House book during spring break just to see if he’d like it. Then, when Mommy came home he’d jump up and down excitedly talking about our book’s characters, Jack and Annie.
My sisters read with me when I was little, and always encouraged me to get lost in books. As an avid reader, Caleb’s receptiveness made my heart full.
I read a chapter a day, and just last week we finished it!
Proud nanny moment.
Our first week was all adjustments, and rule testing, and swim suits, and snacks, and parks, and heat, and timeouts, and giggles. Rough days, and perfect days.
But now. I think we’ve finally jumped into the swing of things.
Ryder started camp our second week of summer, which meant we were driving up to Davidson. Caleb, Grant and I killed a few hours each day, doing something different.
The last day we pulled up to camp Ryder said “Yay camp! See you later guys!”
Ryder loves some individualized attention. Camp meant he got just that, and by the end of the week he was all about it.
Monday, we packed our towels, and lunch, and laid out at Ramsey Creek Park’s new swimming beach.
Tuesday, we went for a stroll on downtown Davidson’s streets in search of a coffee shop I’d bookmarked on Yelp. I stepped out back with my mocha in hand, and Caleb asked if they could play on the playground. That’s right. Perfectly placed behind this coffee shop was this mini playground. I sat down on the brick steps and watched them play. Kept them entertained long enough for me to finish my coffee, and kill enough time until the mini golf place opened.
Mini golf.. Boy that was an interesting adventure. We had sunscreen, shades, hats, and water… But man oh man that sun was beating down on us. Halfway through, the heat got the best of my charges.
“Caleb, remember what I said in the car?” I said as Caleb laid on the green in frustration.
“We’re just here to have fun. It’s ok if you don’t make it in the hole. And do you know what else? I’m proud of you for waiting patiently for others to play. But right now another family is waiting their turn, so you may not lay here, and block their way just because you are frustrated.”
He hops up, and I’m surprised as usual when my pep talk actually works. He plays a few more holes, and finally looks up at me and says “Ma-alie, I’m hot. I’m done.”
The sweat droplets chasing eachother down my temples told me that was just fine.
I grabbed Grant’s hand, and we veered off the course.
When we got to the top we returned our clubs, and said thank you.
But that red ball. Grant was not giving it up. He went boneless on me, refusing to be alright with the fact that I put away his ball. I picked him up so he could see it. The girl behind the window kept it open for us.
“Say buh-bye ball. We’re all done.”
G looked at me, then the ball. He waved at the ball, and we walked on.
Again… When they trust me enough to try what I’m offering them, it’s gold.
Wednesday, and Thursday we spent the day at Jetton Park.
Playgrounds, trail walks that lead to gazebos, and a lakeside lunch.
Does it get any better?You are never too cool for your nanny. Let that be known.Caleb grabbed my phone, and snapped these sweet moments.
Then he said, “Aw send that one to mommy, she will lub it.”
Relaxing? At first, yes. Then it was all spitting into the cracks. Because, boys.
Also, Grant. Forever learning the tricks of the trade from his brothers. ↓
Lastly, this view from the volunteer parking lot on Sunday… Icing on the cake.
Since for the past year I’ve been in the habit of taking Grant to story time at the Library, I’ve fallen in love with just how wonderful a place full of stories can be.
The set up at our library has the children’s area and books on hold downstairs. Fiction and nonfiction rest upstairs with dozens of tables and chairs strewn along the length of the windows.
Typically I’ll search for the book I’m ready to dive into next at home and place it on hold. Then I’m able to walk in with G, grab my book, and lead him to the little house made up of storybooks for kids. He steps inside the little house with a couple other tots, all pulling corduroy and other plush storybook characters out of a basket that sits in the corner.
He usually steps out to present his findings to me, smiling and grunting. He excitedly stumbles back into the little house to see what else he can discover, while I stand there alongside 20 other moms and nannies watching our littles play.
If you have a little, infant to toddler and you’re not in the habit of going to story time I have to tell you truthfully that you’re missing out. The first time I went Ryder was almost 3 and Grant was 4 months. Little toddler girls ran up to the car seat when I grabbed a bottle to feed Grant and they could not stop uttering the word Bae-Bee when I placed him on my shoulder to burp him.
These days when we go to story time Grant is happy to get up and run into the middle of the room with the other kiddos while a librarian reads to them. He’ll venture out just far enough to be on the other side of the circle, standing to stare at each woman sitting in front of him until he comes across my face sensing recognition. I smile and say “Hey.” In a hushed tone. He runs to my lap, barreling into me. He’ll sit like that for just a moment until he gets settled and then he’s right back up to repeat it all over again. It never gets old to see his face light up when he spots me in a room full of other women and children. My heart melts every time he joins me for the next song.
Clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Everybody clap your hands *Clap-Clap* Clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands, clap your hands, everybody clap your hands. *Clap-Clap*
And then we go into Stomp your feet *Stomp-Stomp* Stomp your feet *Stomp-Stomp* and G really gets into it. Hinging at his knees on the edge of my lap to stomp his heels on the floor.
On the days when I forgot to place a book on hold, but am still yearning for a good read I head up the stairs with Grant in my arms. At the bend in the stairs he points to a painted picture on the wall. “Uhhhah” he moans. “Yes I know Grantsy, it’s a ship in the ocean.” We stand there for a minute gazing at the blueish watercolor.
Once we hit the top of the steps it’s deadly quiet. I step into an aisle of nonfiction and G continues his pointing and “Uhhah” sounds. The area echoed like you would not believe. “I see that book.” I whisper.
He motions toward the window, pointing to the trees outside. Making some more babble, when an older woman rounded the corner into our view.
“Well hello.” She whispers. “You must be the one I heard, huh?”
G smiles and rests his head on my shoulder bashfully.
“Yes, you’re a sweet boy huh?” She smiles and moves on. G picks his head up to watch her go.
I snag a book on parenting, or the development of babies and we make our way downstairs to check out. G sits up on the counter while I scan the books giving my arm a break. I hum our story time tunes as I set him in his car seat and we head back home. He giggles as he looks out the window, kicking his legs in approval of our outing.
I walked into the Harris Teeter this morning to grab a bag of tortilla chips which I forgot on my original grocery shop yesterday. I’ve planned to make a dairy free Mexican layer dip this week, which I have been oddly craving for quite some time, and finally decided that the only way I’d be able to have it dairy free would be if I made it myself. This layer dip has been on my mind for so long, and I remembered every ingredient for it, except for the tortilla chips! Can you believe that?
I grabbed a couple bushels of firewood on my way out since the chilly air has finally made its way here. And we’ll hopefully be enjoying a fire this very night.
We’re obsessed with our fireplace around here, didn’t you know? And when I say we I mean Brandon is obsessed with creating them, I am mesmerized, and cling to the warmth of them, and Bingley will plop very nearly too close the second those flames pop up. I think he will be devastated if our next place doesn’t have a fire. To be honest it’s another thing to set at the top of our priority list! Which is really the beauty of renting, because we have lived in such different spaces we’ve learned what functions well, and what to avoid.
Speaking of… Chilly weather.. Chilly weather, and three boys is possibly the most stressful mix ever. Did you know? Now that the weather has gotten cold enough for the necessity of coats, shoes, and hats there has been quite the wrangling going on at the Coggins back door. I’m pretty sad to say goodbye to barefoot, and swim shorts.
I’ve got two socks, and one shoe on Ryder. One sock on Caleb that isn’t fit quite right, and I’m battling with him to put a coat on. Grant is totally aware now of the fact that putting shoes on means we’re going out, so he reaches for the doorknob like a trapped prisoner.
“Why do we have to wear coats?” Caleb says.
“Because it’s cold outside, and I want you to be warm.”
“Why is it cold?”
“Because it’s winter now.”
“Why is it winter?”
“Because the season changed.” (Mind you, I’m holding this conversation yelling over Bailey’s whining, and shrill barks. You might ask, “Why don’t you just let Bailey out while you get them ready Natalie?” To which I’d answer, “Because God forbid I did, then Grant would crumple to the floor in anger that I didn’t let him out barefoot, and coatless too.” It’s really a matter of preference.)
Caleb continues, while I pull a hoodie over a frustrated Ryder. He gets a particular sort of upset when you put a hoodie on him instead of a coat. Like you’ve just betrayed him by dressing him in something he cannot take off. But that is in fact why we put it on him, because otherwise he’d be frolicking in the nip shirtless!
“Why did the seasons change Matalie?”
“Alright Caleb, that’s enough questions, put this on.” I hand him a jacket, and help him with the zipper.
By this point Ryder is ready, Grant’s got shoes on, Caleb has a coat on, but insisted on changing his shoes. Pullover, pullover, where is Grant’s pullover? I grab it off the couch, and slide it over his head to which he always giggles, and that helps relieve the commotion a bit.
Somehow I’m always the last to put my shoes on, but I’m not silly enough to wear anything that takes more than a slip onto my feet when I’m with them. So I’m ready quickly, and open the door. The boys, and Bailey all trample past one another, spilling outside like a waterfall.
Of course, on a good day, I get each of them ready individually, in secret, before Bailey even hears anyone utter the words Outside.
1 2 Next