#nannylife

Life with kids around is never dull, lemme tell ya.  It is amazing to me to watch all of the learning and growing unfold.  I get to witness so many awesome big and small moments in the lives of these kiddos:

+  When she started rolling over. + When she started crawling.  +  When she started eating solids. +  When she started clapping.  +  When she started pulling up into a standing position.  +  When we discovered her first tooth poking through.

+  The first time he let me put on his clothes and shoes for the day without a meltdown.  +  The first time he followed directions without me having to trick him into it.  +  The first time he snuggled himself into my lap to read a book together.  +  The first time he was actually excited to see me when I walked in the door.

+  The first time he said goodbye to mommy and watched her leave without a massive tantrum. +  When he learned a new animal noise.  +  When he started walking.


Today I had a really special interaction during dinnertime, where I think her and I finally started to understand how to communicate with one another through something other than upset tears.  The baby sign language version of signing milk, which I have been using pretty consistently with her for the last couple months when I have given her bottles, is a hand closing into a fist.  Today while sitting in her high chair she made this sign every time she wanted more of something to eat.  Though the sign for milk is different than the sign for more, it was obvious (in a way that only can be explained through eye contact and facial expressions) that she had made a connection between filling her belly and the milk sign.  It was incredibly exciting to get to be able to respond to her attempts to communicate – to give her what she was asking for, to see her satisfaction at that! How frustrating it must be to see and need and understand, but not be able to verbalize those things! To want to communicate but physically be unable to….

Obviously I am becoming a huge fan of baby sign language. haha

SignBabies_Milk_P_new_1

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#nannylife

Now – (Decade/2) = Then

So it is the start of another semester here in Blacksburg.  Today Virginia Tech classes began for Fall of 2016.  A new class of freshmen woke up this morning…and I am sure they were filled with a whole host of emotions as I was five years ago: anxiety, excitement, fear, insecurity, apprehension, happiness, loneliness.

To all you out there in this place called College Freshmen, just know that it keeps getting better.  If it’s hard now, it’ll improve.  And if it’s awesome now, there is still a ton more awesomeness yet to come.  If you’re bored, seek out one of the bazillion clubs and organizations on campus.  If you’re lonely, I promise, you’ll make friends. (Everyone is looking for them.  But trust me on this too: you have to GO OUTSIDE to find them.  As much as you may want to huddle in your dorm room and text high school friends and obsess over instagram… don’t do it!  Also, it’s syllabus week: don’t even pretend you have homework. Even you, engineers. haha)

Andddd if you are required to start a blog, DO IT.  That was part of my requirement freshmen and sophmore years when I lived in the Honors Residential College (HRC).  At the time, I had pretty mixed emotions towards it.  I began with a pretty killer first post:

blog2

Clearly I didn’t have many ideas at the time. But I am so happy that it was a requirement! In a way, it became a record of my first years at Tech.  It became a journal, a place for ideas  and rambling, a place for remembering, a place for processing (as well as a place to get my required honors involvement checked off).  We were told during our visit during the summer that it was going to be a requirement, so as the nervous overachiever that I was, I began before classes started:

 

start of the journey1Bstart of the journey2B

And then I became so immersed in college life – adjusting to a new home, trying to find new friends, discovering all the new food options, grasping at this weird freedom where I could stay up as late as I wanted and do laundry at 2 in the morning and walk barefoot – that I forgot about blogging for at least 11 days….

12 days of collegeB12 days of college2B

 

(If you want more of an explanation of these days… I wrote more here. And the rest of this blog, in its preserved, original form can be found here. Don’t judge me. haha)

And then the last one I will share today had to do with goals that I set because of an assignment in my Freshmen Honors Seminar class.  It was interesting to read through these five years after the fact, and to evaluate my success in achieving them.

freshmen goalsBfreshmen goals2B

And I happen to still be in the midst of trying to achieve that final goal.  (Finding something that I love.  Not raising a unicorn on a ranch in Canada.  Duh.)  Therefore, I spent my day with a wonderful little seven month old exploring the ideas of object permanence, working on communication through baby sign language, watching her learn how to balance on her little chubby legs, wiping up mushed bananas and peas…  Honestly I am loving this season of life.  I love being a nanny, getting to meet the needs of little ones, being creative, being goofy.  I love the freedom of knowing this is what I am doing for now, and that is all it has to be.  Day by day, moment by moment, it is teaching me how to find joy in the little successes and beauty all around me.

And speaking of beauty… Tré and I got to watch an amazing sunset tonight.  We had planned on going on a walk anyway, but when I looked out the window and saw the fringes of the sunset, we dashed out, walked to the parking garage, sprinted to the top level, and got (what I believe to be) the best view in Blacksburg. The spontaneity was so fun. :) Then, while we were on this walk we wound through campus and ended up passing by Cowgill and Burchard… the architecture and design buildings.  I didn’t think this would phase me, but I found myself tearing up as we walked home.  So many memories were flashing through my mind.  So many amazing people who I met in those buildings, so many sleepless nights, so much blood, sweat, and tears (quite literally).

And I think in that moment it finally hit me:  I graduated.  College is over for me.  Those people have moved away and those years are just memories now.  There is a whole new class of first years trying to figure out what the heck their professors are talking about.  Those who were first years last year are now feeling like pros…until they realize they have no idea how to design actual buildings.  Third years are b.s.ing their way through new software and fourth years are studying abroad or probably bored as hell. There is a new batch of thesis students, faced with one of the most challenging tasks of their educational career.  And then there’s all of us who remember those days, but no longer belong in those days.  And as much as I am enjoying this season of life, I can’t help but mourn that change. I am missing the creative atmosphere.  I am missing those people who were with me in some of the highest and lowest moments of my college years. People in design, people in my dorm, people from Deet’s, people from Cru…

It’s always the people, isn’t it…?

Thank you to everyone who made my five years all that they were.  I hope I never forget you.

sunset
Now – (Decade/2) = Then

Reviewing Recent Reads

(…because all adore alliteration…right?)

I love reading.  I can never remember a time in my life when that wasn’t true.  I love words and stories and definitions.  One time in elementary school I tried to convince my teacher to let me read the dictionary for a book report.  (Unsurprisingly, my powers of persuasion were not quite strong enough win that argument.)   I think the ability to convey thoughts and ideas through symbols on a page (or screen) is amazing.  And I will definitely always choose to read a physical book over a digital one (but absolutely no judgement on all you eBook fans out there.  I will admit that choice does seem more environmentally conscious.  However, it doesn’t change my love of holding a bound stack of paper, flipping pages, seeing and feeling my progress through a novel.)  That being said, you can find a list of some of the books I have read here.  I am always open to new book recommendations!  Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email if you have any!

Since graduating in May I have had more time to read for enjoyment and I am LOVING it.  When the kiddos go down for a nap or get returned to their parents, I almost immediately will have my nose in a book (or trying to learn languages on Rosetta Stone before I lose my college-based subscription… learning Chinese and brushing up on Spanish.  Gotta keep my mind active with something other than my ABC’s and colors!)  In this post I wanted to give brief reviews of the books I have read this summer:

the glass castle

 

The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls

Highly recommended to everyone.  This is an accessible true story primarily about the childhood of Jeannette Walls.  She grew up in a situation that most would label quite unique.  Often on the run and living in extreme poverty, the Walls family is characterized by their loyalty to one another, their creativity in desperate situations, and their atypical view of conventional society.  Life is viewed as one grand adventure…and whether this is a survival mechanism, hopelessly optimistic, incredibly brave, or remarkably ignorant is open for discussion. This book provided insight that caused me to rethink and reexamine many of my previous assumptions about poverty, homelessness, childhood acquaintances, and family.

sign with your baby

Sign with your Baby
How to communicate with infants before they can speak

by Joseph Garcia

Recommended to parents or soon-to-be parents who are interested in increased communication with their child.  This book not only teaches basic sign language to be used with babies (and toddlers!!), but also contains a lot of helpful information about how to go about introducing sign language into your child’s life, when the best times for new words or phrases are, what to expect in terms of their understanding and reciprocation, and the reasoning behind the increasing use of sign language as a means to communication.  Frequently asked questions (such as, does sign language caused for a delay in speech? how can this help avoid the phase typically coined the terrible twos?) are also addressed.   At the back of the book is a compilation of numerous signs and their meanings.

As a nanny/babysitter/caregiver this book was interesting to me in numerous respects.  Not only am I getting to put the signs into practice with a few of my little ones whose parents are on board, I have learned more about the importance of eye contact in learning, the need to be attentive to both verbal and nonverbal communication, and some of the supposed causes of tantrums.  This book suggests that frustration with an inability to effectively communicate needs/wants/desires is a primary cause of the tantrums…which makes plenty of sense to me! How often as an adult to I feel like kicking and screaming when someone isn’t comprehending what I am trying to get across! Next up, I am looking for a book that can teach me more about how to teach respect for authority and some effective and loving ways to go about disciplining children.  As much as I always just want to be the fun babysitter, there is a very real side effects to a lack of authority and discipline.

borderliners

 

 

Borderliners

by Peter Hoeg

Highly recommended book to readers willing to step outside of their comfort zone.  This book doesn’t necessarily fit into any familiar genre.  It is plot-based to a degree, with character development, but also involving wider ideas about time, education (particularly the Danish education system), childhood, and psychology.  Told from the perspective of an inquisitive child, with the insight of an adult… this book was quite enchanting.  Examining social and political issues related to Danish boarding schools, the question of discipline as it relates to childhood, friendships/family/personal history, and a child’s interaction with time, Borderliners touched on so many topics I personally find interesting and did so in a way that was both exploratory and speculative.  My only negative comment would be that the ending felt rather abrupt.

 

wool

 

Silo (series)

Wool, Shift, and Dust

by Hugh Howey

Recommended if you’re looking for a dystopian trilogy. Living beneath the surface of the earth is a silo full of people, going about life – living, dying, fertilizing plants, having babies.  The view of the earth’s surface above is a bleak one: desolate and dust-filled.  Though as far back as can be remembered, this is how life has been.  However, in some circles there remains an unspoken feeling that something is not right.  Who is really in control?  And how can one search for truth in an world where simply speaking of a single thing can get you killed?

The first book starts rather slowly and it took a bit for me to get into the plot, but once I did I found the ideas interesting. The tale that was being weaved became more complex, more interesting, and (in some ways) more terrifyingly plausible.

 

Well… that’s my first attempt at reviewing books I have read (at least, first attempt since like fifth grade). Hopefully I get better with time!

Pictures of my travels to come. :)

Reviewing Recent Reads