A Spot of Fatigue

The other day, as we passed through the thin strip of privacy trees separating our house from the neighbor’s, one of my charges looked at me and asked, “Nanny, what’s the name of these woods?”

And I said, “Uh, I don’t think forests have names anymore after they become suburbs.”

And then I was sad.

It was one more drop in the bucket that made me realize, ultimately, that I can’t stay here on the east coast forever. For one thing, all my family is over on the west side of the country, and here it’s much more crowded and takes considerable effort to get out into any kind of nature.


But I found a Little Free Library today, which doesn’t happen nearly as frequently in rural areas.

Also, my job is starting to look like this:

Mrs. Parent: “The kids aren’t picking up anymore! They’re leaving toys everywhere! We need to get them to clean up after themselves, I can’t walk without tripping over toys. This house is always a mess.”

Me: Well maybe we should, I don’t know, give away a few hundred of their toys so that we bring their number down to a reasonable thousand or so, it might be easier to make this place look clean. “I’ll work on that.”

Not to mention, in my free time, I find myself leaving the house to wander aimlessly through parks and malls because it’s better than staying in the house, which is very loud. Some combination of three to six boys and two X-Tra Loud parents yelling constantly from 6:00 to 9:00 every day is keeping me from relaxing, no matter how much I try with my Celtic zen music and my mug warmer supplying me with perpetually warm tea.


Sometimes malls have things like puppies for adoption, though. So there’s that.

So I’ve decided now that in a year I’ll be moving away. I’m not sure where to yet, but it will be an adventure because I’m a well-off white twenty-something with an extensive support system and safety net.

Three years of full-time nanny for three to six boys will look fantastic on my nanny resume, because normal people can’t fathom having that many kids and usually look very alarmed when I mention it. If I wait it out, save up money, and leave somewhere in early 2019, things will go great.

Provided I can keep my mouth shut and sweat my way through another miserably humid east coast summer without driving my car off a bridge in search of cold relief.

One day at a time.


This mug warmer is truly a life saver, I should say. Everyone likely to make a cup of tea and then set it aside and completely forget about it should have one.

Something Blue

About a month ago I decided to get a new car.

“New” here meaning “newer than my old car, but still not actually new”.

The reason for this was because my old car, dubbed La Petite Rouge because it was petite and rouge, started indicating that it needed a coolant change.

Well, in fact, it had needed one for many months, but I had ignored it, because I didn’t want to spend even more money on a little red bucket of compressed rust literally held together with duct tape.



So as much as I loved it, when I had finally scraped together enough money for a new car, I dumped the old one like a box of warning lights and uncomfortable seating.

I feel like my employers were grateful for its absence, because it really was the neighborhood eyesore. In a suburb where the smallest house is five bedrooms and only one pool, everyone gets uncomfortable when the help’s car is so prominently poor.

So with so very in-depth research consisting of Googling several times, I decided that my next car would be a Kia Optima. And I decided to get it from a rental car place.

Months ago, I watched an interview with actor Jack McBrayer on Conan, in which he explained that he got his car from Enterprise because they don’t haggle and he doesn’t like haggling.

I didn’t much like the idea of haggling either, and so I located a promising-looking car on the Hertz car sales website and scooted over to buy it, money in hand.


And it was beautiful.

A Kia Optima 2016, with features like a heater that works immediately, windows that reliably roll all the way down, and no flashing engine lights upon entry. And it was blue.

Despite Hertz’s assurances that the car was flawless, I took it to a mechanic anyway. The mechanic also proclaimed it to be flawless.

I bought it.


I dubbed it Yonder, as in “Into The Wild Blue-“, though it’s only a working title in case I come up with something better. And, when I had Yonder, it was time to say goodbye to La Petite Rouge.

I donated the old car to a charity, mostly out of the selfish reasoning that I didn’t want the hassle of trying to sell a dumpster on wheels. They came to pick it up late at night, and I watched my first ever car get towed away under the streetlights.


And while I was a little bit sad, it wasn’t enough to out-weigh the joyful knowledge that I probably won’t have to spend $300 on my new car every time I bring it in for an oil change.

Live-in nannying’s not a bad gig, all things considered.

Things Mom Was Right About

As a teenager, my mother always made crazy and unreasonable demands of me. Completely unfounded, out of whack suggestions and commands that had absolutely no basis in reality. Absolutely ridiculous.

These were things like turning my clothes right side out before she did laundry, or soaking a pot before she did dishes. Unbelievable. The gall.

But then here I was, seven years later, and as I passed by one of the boy’s rooms with my laundry basket, I reminded him to make his bed.

“No!” he yelled. “I don’t want to! I do all the work around here! You treat me like a servant!”

So after dealing with that Elementary School crisis mostly by laughing, I started thinking back on all the absurd demands of my childhood. Turns out, they were actually pretty reasonable. These were things like:

  • Rinsing out the bathtub after a shower so that the soapy residue didn’t stick around, making it slippery and hard to clean.
  • Practicing piano every day before the day of your lesson instead of making excuses right up until the morning of, and then frantically practicing for fifteen minutes in the hopes that your piano teacher won’t notice your incompetence.
  • Cleaning up as you go. Hey, did you know that could save you time?
  • Turning those clothes right side out before wash. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s incredibly tedious to do it all at once.

It’s surreal, taking care of children who complain about the exact same things I complained of. The only difference is that they’ve learned to complain about them out loud.

And it’s really, really annoying.

So I’d like to apologize to Mom for being, excuse my language, a little shit. Being a functional human being is better. You were right, Mom. Thanks.







Except about The Sims 2. That’s a great game and totally appropriate for someone over thirteen years of age.



Unreasonable Amounts of Garbage

Back in Idaho, we were green accidentally.

In true survivalist/homeschooling/country family fashion, we raised our own animals for meat, grew our own vegetables, and bought in bulk what we couldn’t make ourselves. Mom’s favorite summer time activity was to show up at the house with approximately 300 peaches from the local farmer’s market, that she would meticulously peel, slice, and can so we could have peaches all winter and all through the zombie apocalypse.

We did composting, we did recycling, we used washcloths and linen napkins in place of disposables, and we weren’t even really trying, because that’s just what all the other survivalist homeschooling country families were doing. You just did it.

Then I moved into an upper-class suburban family of three to six boys, and there is so. Much. Trash.

At some point my credit score crept up to “inundate with offers” level, and I began to get three or four credit card offers in the mail a week. And this was TERRIBLE.

“Look at all this junk mail!” I would cry, holding up the single envelope I had retrieved from my employer’s 30cm mail stack. My employers would give me sympathetic looks while I ranted extensively, even as they sorted through their fifteen daily catalogues.


Sample of the catalogues this house receives daily.

I put myself on every “do not contact” list I could think of, immediately called to get myself off any catalogue I randomly received, and transferred all my bills to paperless. But it was too late, the itch was already under my skin.

Every day I make the kids snacks for school. Three to six snack bags holding a disposable drink container and a prepackaged, meticulously wrapped processed snack or plastic baggie holding goldfish crackers. I’ve started searching for reusable containers in the house for their snacks, but when things are Done A Certain Way around here, they stay DACW forever. None of the boys will appreciate being given reusable water bottles.

I realized that even though I was reusing the same plastic water bottle until it wore out, I was still going through one every week and a half. And this was TERRIBLE (even though it goes in the recycling). Because, of course, this house isn’t under my control, will never be under my control, and it’s really about how much waste they will always put out. When you live rent-free in your employer’s home, you just shut up and let them do what they do.

So instead of focusing on my host family, I’ve gradually been changing up my waste output. I discovered, to my delight, that there was a Zero Waste movement out there that offers suggestions for phasing out excessive trash, and I’m incorporating that into my own life, if not the kids’. Metal water bottle, bamboo toothbrush, reusable grocery bags, bulk foods.


In short, I’ve become one of those people. I had avacado toast and did yoga this morning. It’s only a matter of time until I have white-person dreadlocks and a “Meat is Murder” t-shirt.

┬áIt’s not perfect and it won’t be perfect until I have a place of my own, but at least I can try to watch what I’m buying.

But no composting in the backyard, that’s frowned on around here.

Can We Have Spring Now?

On very rare occasions parents can be right about things. In this case, that thing is snow- or, more accurately, that snow is not nearly as fun when you’re an adult.

Now, four walls and a fragile personal space bubble is the most separation I have from my workplace, and my morning commute is mostly me forcing myself to get out of bed and walk the ten foot hall to the kitchen, so driving isn’t really an issue. (Disappointingly. If I lived far away I could claim the weather was too bad to drive in.) Rather, the very reason I’m here is to be at the house when the children can’t go to school, such as during a snow day, or one of the forty-three vaguely patriotic holidays the teachers have off.

I’m watching the snow fall right now.


That, ladies and gentlemen, is an ornamental rich person fence. It keeps the poor people safe from the lawyers on the other side.

Fortunately, by the time it started snowing in earnest it was too late for the school to give them back, but Tuesday is gearing up to be another snow day, which means three to six stir-crazy boys frothing at the mouth to get outside, freeze to death for an hour, and then smuggle snow back inside and dump it all over the mud room, to be repeated in another hour.

All day long.

This wouldn’t be so bad if they were a little older, of course. After a certain age you can pitch them outside and keep an eye on them through the window, in the comfort of your well-heated home with a glass of warm milk. But with the mixture of ages, and their tendency to try and sacrifice the little ones to the snow gods, I need to be right out there with them the whole time.


Fortunately, there’s always one that volunteers to shovel the driveway.

I combat this in the only way I know how: By stalling in the garage so that I don’t have to venture out into the frigid wind, which the children can’t feel because children are blissfully unaware of temperature extremes. It’s the same reason these children can play outside in the 90F, 90% humidity of a summer day.


Here’s a good garage game: You take some cones, and you hide a container of bubble solution under one. And then, wait for it, here’s the good part- the child checks under them all until they find them! Now it’s their turn to hide and your turn to find it. Tip: It’s under the one they keep looking and giggling at.

As I was writing the entire power system flickered, which probably means the laundry has stopped and the kids will be coming home from school even earlier.

But good news, it’s Friday!

Good news for the nanny, at any rate. Possibly not so much for the parents.


Bits and Bobs

If it seems like I’ve been quiet here lately, it’s only because I’ve been too busy being violently ill elsewhere. These kinds of things happen when you’re surrounded by public-schooled children.

On the other hand, I may have picked it up from someone other than my charges on the weekend. A friend of mine had a birthday party and decided we should all go play laser tag for it, all ten of us adults. We filed into that flashing, disorienting waiting room swearing that we would show Timmy’s birthday party no mercy, and it was just as well, because those seven year olds swarm at you like Day Z zombies.

We lost to a full team of under-tens on the second round, but I maintain that it was because they had five more players than us.

And on Sunday, I visited Philadelphia for the first time, to play a game called “Escape the Room.”


Philadelphia sure is a pretty place. Here’s a picture of the buildings while I was stuck in traffic…


And here I was stuck in traffic again…

Escape the Room is where you pay to be locked into a room and have to use your (probably non-existent) puzzle-solving skills to escape. While we were working on ours, called “The Dig”, we heard the people in the one across the way (“The Office”) run out of time and subsequently fail. You only have an hour to complete the room and find the key that releases you, and even with the generous hints the game-masters give you, it’s hard.

And fun. I highly recommend it.

I have no pictures of this because they didn’t want us to spoil it for anyone, but I’m really not that kind of person. The blueprints have to be aligned by the light blue shapes in the middle.

It was the next day that I got horrifically ill, so I could have picked it up while laser tagging or room escaping or merely nannying the night away. But now that I’m recovered and on tangent after tangent, let me tell you about the cookie you absolutely must buy:


It says “Lotus” on the top, but don’t let that fool you.

These rectangular, gingerbread-colored cookies are Biscoff cookies, which I had not heard of up until now. They might be bigger in Europe, I’m not sure. Regardless, Alaska Airlines served them on the last flight I took with them, in a display of marketing genius, and I was so hooked that I used my previously purchased in-flight wi-fi to order three boxes of them right away.

They’re like… graham crackers in cookie form, perhaps. Very difficult to describe. But they taste incredible with tea. Or coffee. Or water. Or on their own. And, as cookies go, they’re not too calorie-dense. Not that I’ve really looked at the back of the packaging.

So I’ve been up to a whole lot of nothing worth blogging about. On that note, here is a picture of the grocery store ivy I purchased a few months ago:


I’m sure at some point it must have crossed my mind that ivy would grow, but ow that it’s actually outgrowing the pot and the windowsill I’m not sure what to do with it. It’s not my house, so I can’t plant it outside, but I don’t want to just dump the thing.

Life can be hard at times, especially when you’re a plant in my terrible care.

The After-Christmas

Christmas is done and gone, the children are back in school, businesses are opening back up, and my friends are planning fun things forty minutes from me, which is why it’s now snowing so heavily that I can’t locate the driveway or two of the children.


These paper snowflakes feel kind of redundant now.

Now that I’m an adult, I’m conflicted about snow. I’m starting to realize that if you want the kids to go to school or want to be able to drive to Target, the roads need to be clear or you will inevitably end up upside-down in a ditch somewhere with children burying you in snow.

(Children never stop trying to bury you in snow after a certain age. It’s instinct.)

Fortunately, it’s snowing on a Saturday, which should give the schools ample time to shovel everything up in preparation for Monday. Unfortunately, it’s snowing so heavily at present that the roads aren’t really roads at all, but more like incidental logging trails covered in petroleum jelly. I foolishly tried to drive south to play some board games with friends today, and I drove for 40 minutes at 25 miles an hour on the highway. If you’re doing the math, that means it took me exactly an hour to realize I would be better off back at home with a cup of tea.

So now I’m back at home with a cup of tea, listening to the sounds of chaos outside my room, and I’m organizing the Christmas presents from my employers.

Yes, there are enough that they have to be organized.


Bottom left: Box of chocolates that are missing most of the coconut variety already.

My employers are very kind and generous people, and Mrs. Parent in particular loves giving gifts that are thoughtfully tailored to the recipient. I’m not sure they quite understand the all-consuming passion I have for magic, fairy tales, etc., but they really do their best. The purse she was particularly proud of, because she knows I like deep browns and across the chest straps.


My favorite, of course, is the tea.

The peculiar tea set they gave me was composed of one single teabag per type of tea, which is artistic if not very practical, and each tea bag has a little leaf on the end of it for decorative purposes. The covered teacup has a little hole in the top which lets the teabag string through, allowing one to steep their tea without it going cold.


Much like in fancy restaurants, you know the food is too classy for you when there’s so little of it.

Naturally the teacup can be re-purposed to fit regular teabags with enough folding and stuffing.

So now I’m stuck inside the house, but I have my own little oasis, lit by Christmas candles and smelling like chocolates and tea. It’s almost enough to forget that there are three to six boys outside my room, gleefully smacking each other with their new stuffed Pikachus.

I also gave them extreme dot-to-dot books so that they have something that requires sitting quietly for hours at a time. It doesn’t sound like they’re using them.


Don’t tell anyone I’m still playing holiday music. This could be the fourteenth day of Christmas.