Archive of ‘Nanny’ category

See You Soon

By Natalie

Today was my last day as a nanny to my precious charges. But this is not the end.

IMG_0473

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.

No more prepping Caleb’s cookies and strawberries before he gets off the bus. No more Grant patting his pillow and begging, “Natalie lay here.” When I put him down for his nap.

No more getting Caleb into his swimsuit just the way he likes to wear it. Which is backwards.

No more getting Ryder off the bus and watching him run to his plate of pickles and hummus with crackers.

No more Ryder opening my car door for me.

No more Grant saying “Natalie, come here! Look!” At whatever latest creation he is proud of.

I can’t believe there’s no more. I didn’t teach them enough, kiss them enough, hold them enough. I certainly didn’t squeeze them enough. I didn’t tell Jacob and Mandy enough how much I appreciated them. They were always understanding. Always supportive. Never once did they make me feel uncomfortable, or unappreciated.

Believe it or not I’m going to miss sorting all those socks, peeling all those mandarins and wiping all those tears.

Though I won’t be there daily I know the door is always open for me to visit, spoil and love on them, which makes my transition much easier. This is no goodbye Coggins family, I will definitely see you soon because I already miss you.

I’m a nurturer to the core so it’s no surprise I’ll be embarking on a new adventure very soon. Two boys will be in tow this time. Because I know nothing but superheroes, diggers and jumping off of the most daring ledge. I have to thank my Coggins boys for teaching me everything I’ll need to know not just in caring for children but for my own life. They taught me to laugh at myself through every fall I had. How to be silly through every slide I was too big for. How to love someone so unconditionally through every tantrum they threw. Patience through every struggle they had communicating with me. They taught me that people can be cruel but they can be resilient, and if they can be resilient through judgement I can be too. They taught me to be myself and love myself just by being so individually themselves.

IMG_0475

image

I love you boys so very much. Caleb remember to be a good helper. Read lots of books! You’re such an encouraging big brother. Be good this summer and maybe Daddy will bring you Chick-fil-a! I want you to have an amazing summer you water baby you.

Ryder remember to ask for squeezes when you need them. Never stop giving compliments. Even if you only say “I like your shirt.” It always went a long way for me. Go easy on the cheese sticks and finish all of your apple before you throw it away.

IMG_0471Grant big boy Grant. Stay sweet and kind. You’re a great helper too, you can always choose to set a good example even if you are the youngest. Grantsy one last thing. Don’t forget to pee in the POTTY!

Thank you for all the adventures boys and all the love. I wish I could have given you so much more.


Life Lately

By Natalie

hipster

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.

Bing hotel

We kicked things off in January with a week long hotel stay courtesy of our apartment complex. They had been undergoing some renovations for the past few months and needed to do some work in our apartment. We were grateful to get away from the noise and have our own mini staycation.

IMG_8442


Geese

Grant is learning the difference between a duck and a goose.

FullSizeRender_3


Bing tent

We thought we’d take advantage of the warmer weather and plan a camping trip the first weekend in March. Of course we ended up enduring 30 degree nights, but the days were warm and we had the perfect amount of quality friend time.
image

kabobs

Pam camping

Pam makes a stinkin good S’more.

IMG_9107


ocean 1

We spent our second weekend in March taking the Coggins up on my Christmas present. A weekend spent at family’s condo in Atlantic beach. We’ve really been missing out on off season beach trips and have totally decided to do it more often.

B beach

IMG_9164

Brandon Beach

It was just about exactly what we needed.

N Beachnatalie beach


I finally tried Hex coffee. Definitely in the top five.

Your coffee won’t last around here if it can’t stand on it’s own. There’s just too many places that have it figured out.

Hex


I took a break from social media and have a whole new outlook on it. I know, myself and everyone else right? I simply realized that I wasn’t living as much in the small moments that I could be. Through taking a break I was able to appreciate the small things for what they were and not for what others thought of them. Before I took a sip of my mocha at Hex I started an Instagram story.

“How do you like it?” Brandon asked.

“I haven’t taken a sip yet. I’m doing an Instagram story.” I told him.

“No one really cares about your cup of coffee babe.”

You see after nearly six years of marriage the truth sometimes comes flying out without any sort of sugar coating.

While I wanted to take complete offense I quickly noticed he had a point. It’s not so much that nobody cares. It’s more so that I was diverting my attention away from Brandon. He was excited for me to try Hex. He took time out of his day to take me out, why would I spoil that to sit and sift through a dozen photo filters? Nodding my head as he tells me what’s new in his world, while my full attention is zeroed in on that little device. Is it because it feels normal? Because I seek gratification in the opinions of others? I started to really question my reasoning for sharing.

This is a deeper issue and a touchy subject for most. But it is something that’s been on my mind and my heart. We do live far from family and to a certain extent social media has become a way to keep up with them. Lately I haven’t had the energy, or the words to compile a single blog post but I do wish to share a tid bit on Instagram. I think reasoning for sharing is different for everybody. For many social media can be a healthy and useful place. For a while there it evolved into a toxic place for me to compare myself to my peers and seek their approval for my own life. That caused me to seriously shift my perspective. It’s still a place for memories to be captured and shared with those I love. But now I’m more mindful of where I am and who surrounds me in that blurry space beyond my phone.


I made this beauty one weekend recently. I was in love with similar wall hangings I’d seen on etsy and knew I could come up with something from my yarn stash.

IMG_9286


Our allergies hit us like a ton of bricks again. When I finally had the stamina to make it to Trader Joe’s for our weekly groceries my cashier made small talk with me. He asked if I had plans for the weekend. I told him I was getting sick so I’d be resting all weekend. He asked if we’d lived here long, that allergies can be rough for newcomers. Yada yada. I said yes, could be allergies. Then he grabbed the pink tulips I picked out and said “You know, I’m going to give you your flowers for free so you feel better. You get lots of rest this weekend.”

How sweet is that? I told him that wasn’t necessary and he insisted. He made my day with his kind gesture. He also ensured my loyalty to Trader Joe’s for life.

image

To the Boys

By Natalie

IMG_7970

FullSizeRender_1

To Caleb when you were eight,

“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.


IMG_7956

To Ryder when you were five,

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.


FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender (5)

To Grant when you were two,

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.


FullSizeRender

To Bailey when you were twelve,

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.

Wonderful Life

By Natalie

IMG_6584What 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.

IMG_6587

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…

“Thank you God, for this wonderful life.”

Summer Break – A Debrief

By Natalie

imageCan 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.

IMG_6083

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.

IMG_6384IMG_6381IMG_6387

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.


image

We went to the pool a ton which was just fine because they’re total water babies.

imageimage


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.


imageConsistency 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.

IMG_5927

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.

Summer So Far

By Natalie

image

Hey guys, summer’s here.

image

Actually it’s been here for a couple weeks. I’m just beginning to get my bearings.

image

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.

imageSchool 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. 
image

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.
image

image

imageimage

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.
imageMini 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.
imageimageimageimage

image

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?imageimageYou are never too cool for your nanny. Let that be known.imageCaleb grabbed my phone, and snapped these sweet moments.

Then he said, “Aw send that one to mommy, she will lub it.”imageimage

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. ↓

Oh me.imageimageimageimage

Lastly, this view from the volunteer parking lot on Sunday… Icing on the cake.image

Local Library

By Natalie

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.

imageTypically 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 are 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, and senses the recognition. I smile, and say “Hey.” In hushed tone, and 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.imageClap 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.” And 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, and points 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, and 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.

The Nip in the Air

By Natalie

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.

imageWe’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. image

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.

 

 

Lazy 5 Ranch Adventure

By Natalie

imageThe last week of summer break I drove the boys up to the Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville. Which was easily one of my proudest moments as a nanny. An hour road trip with three boys, and no fuss, I think I did pretty good. Mandy totally let me borrow the van complete with a Wiggles soundtrack. Let me admit to you that it was so comfortable for the 4 of us. We’re quite the rowdy bunch, and a little extra leg room for our drive was very much appreciated.

imageimageOnce we pulled in the boys spilled out like jumping beans and headed straight for the playground, while I sat with Grant at a picnic table he was adamantly attempting to climb.

imageOnce the sweet things burned off some energy we hopped back in the van, and started our little drive through safari adventure.

After snapping this ↓ perfect photo I showed it to Caleb and said, “Look, he’s saying, hey Caleb! What’s up?!” To which Caleb giddily replied, “Noo, what is that lamb saying?”

Hehe. That kid. Every animal there he called a lamb.

image

imageCaleb’s back in school now, and I soo miss having him around.

Yesterday I was talking to him with my back turned preparing a snack for Ryder, and Caleb ran up behind me and wrapped his arms around my middle to hug me. I crave those little heartmelting reassuring moments. And I’m absolutely in love when they express their affection.

imageThese guys licked my hand, and they were pretty sweet whenever we’d roll up to them. But after looking a little closer I started to really get freaked by their eyes. Creepy right?

image

image

imageWoah. This Zebra was right up on us, and after seeing a sign that said don’t pet the zebras, Caleb and I agreed we’d best leave the windows up.

Also… I’m going to say they’re certainly white with black stripes. What do you think?

imageLook at that llama trying to pose as a giraffe.

imageHelloooo Deer.

imageimageThis was as close as Caleb would allow me to get to this beast. Which I felt was alright with me, since as you can see he was sort of charging toward us in hopes that we had some grub for him. Ryder, on the other hand was standing in the center of the van pointing, and shouting at the window. He was all about it.image

Does that not seem like the most fun outing ever? I’m so ready to go back!

The Difference Between a Nanny & a Sitter

By Natalie

imageMy sister told me recently that she caught a snippet of Mary Poppins, and thought of me. I could not have asked for a better compliment. While I have a serious knack for tidying up, and a decent sized bag full of goodies, I have to admit I am far from Mary Poppins. The birds out back sadly don’t land on my finger to sing with me, and the boys take their medicine just fine. But we do jump into rain puddles, and sing about made up words. Getting the best use out of our imaginations while we play.

Perhaps if I had that fabulous apron, and a very large floating umbrella I would be complete. Spit Spot.

I’m also not even close to a governess, but fraulein Maria continues to be a source of inspiration. Running, and skipping about while children chase behind me. Cuddling them close during thunderstorms, and caring for them as my own. I could almost guarantee you that had I lived back then, Governess would be my career of choice. imageOther notable nannies I’ve related myself to…

The nanny from Baby’s Day Out

image

The nanny from The Nanny Diaries

Although, thank goodness I am not nannying for a family living in the Upper West Side.

imageTo be referred to as a nanny is to say that you care for one family of children, and have been doing so for some time. We are not ones who come to spend a few hours with children while their parents are out. It is possibly my greatest pet peeve to be called a baby sitter, when in fact my job entails much more than monitoring, and playing.

After Grant’s morning nap today we drove to the mall to pass some time. We stepped into the kids play area, and Grant immediately began playing peekaboo with me from behind the big yellow duck. Sitting across from me was an older man watching his grandson play. His grandson, close to G’s age began chasing him, sending G off in the other direction squealing. Turning every so often to be sure that his friend was still close behind.

I stepped out of the play area for just a moment to grasp Grant’s hand when he wandered too far, and I spoke to him as if he understood exactly what I was saying. “Nope, nope, lets go back to the big yellow duck.”

Once he ran off again the older man sitting on the bench called out to me. “Ma’am” he said.

Knowing I was the only one around I made eye contact with him, and said, “Yes?”

“Are you that little boy’s nanny?” He asked.

I smiled knowing his blonde hair, matched with my tan skin was a dead giveaway. “I am.” I said.

Then the man pushed his glasses up, and motioned for me to come sit next to him. “Come here I want to tell you something.”

So I sat down next to him anxious to hear his wisdom.

“I just wanted to tell you that I had a nanny when I was a boy. She was with us for seven years. And now I’m seventy something, and I still remember her. I loved that woman.”

Unable to control the large grateful lump in my throat I smiled, and said. “Really??”

He continued. “You should know that everything you’re instilling in that boy, he’s going to remember it. You have a great purpose.”

And I knew right then that God placed me right where he wants me. I thanked the man over and over again for his kind words and encouragement, and sat there with him for the remainder of his stay to chat about the boys. All the while Grant would walk over every few minutes to rest his head on my leg, checking in to be sure I was still around. When the man stood up to leave he shook my hand with the sweetest smile you’ve ever seen, and I said “It was so good to meet you.”

imageThat friends, was the beginning of the most sentimental day I’ve lived. Everything I did with Grant seemed to be happening at a reduced pace. Life, slowing itself down for me to gather up all the moments in my memory. When we got home, we had lunch, read a few stories, set up the camera to photograph the day I never want to forget, (Which by the way, Bailey rolling around in the grass was comically unplanned, and perfect) until finally it was naptime, and I was not ready to put him down. So we sat together in the glider listening to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star play softly on the monitor. I watched as my hand upon his back rose and fell with his growing baby breaths. His little hands brushing alongside the glider’s soft fabric, and I really wanted to tear up, but I knew that would be silly.

I set Grant down in his crib after he drifted off to sleep, and stood at his door for another few minutes. My mind ripping forward memories of him when he was three months old, and we were just getting to know eachother. “I am but one person in his life.” I thought. In the grand scheme of things, I am so small.

With the largest heart for these boys, I want to be everything I need to be for them. I can only hope that they too will grow older, and reminisce on the time we shared together.

1 2