only you, my friend

For when the going gets tough
The tough get going
And you are definitely tough,
My friend.
For not many
Can look Death in the eye
Unflinchingly
As He tries to catch them.
But instead you caught
Perseverance
You caught determination
And you caught yourself before your face hit the ground as the bike skid out from under you
Knocking only the wind from you
Instead of the information we so desperately desire
Because we are nosy
Or loving
Depending on who you ask.
And we wish we could catch you
But it’s tough,
Because our legs have only been trained to catch people who want to be caught
And you,
my friend,
are too stubborn for that.
And only you,
my friend,
Would help someone else
learn to run faster,
work harder
as your own body
is learning lessons
and waging battles
of its own.
And only you,
my friend,
would be riding a bike with no brakes
in the first place.

only you, my friend

Lessons Learned

+ the skin on my neck is not suitable to be used as a handhold for a baby learning to stand, nor as a teething apparatus

+ Bob is the stroller equivalent of Cadillac

+ Water and cardboard boxes never fail to be interesting

+ Laxatives: prunes, sweet potatoes, peaches

+ Outside > inside

+ Children + sugar = 😅😮😲

+ if they are hiding (out overly quiet) they are probably doing something they are not supposed to do or something they fear will get them in trouble (aka licking playdough)

+ If you pretend to lick sand, they may actually lick sand… and that gets problematic very quickly

+ Nannying sometimes means going home with another woman’s breast milk on my shirt.

+ There’s a fine art to interacting with others kids and their guardians at the playground. There’s a set of standard first questions (e.g. how old is he? what’s his name?) and a proper hovering distance maintained when there’s a possibility for necessary intervention (e.g. when one tries to hurt the other, when they don’t share/take turns).

+ I’m at the age where I am consistently assumed to be the parent (by women).
“Nope, just the nanny.”
Though better than when some (the men) think I’m in high school…

+ Terminology such as ‘ergo’ and ‘nuby’

+ All the words to “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?”

+ The basics of baby sign language

+ If you give a kid a cake, he’ll be bouncing off the walls. If you teach a kid to bake (with sand), he’ll be content doing that every day for who knows how long.

Lessons Learned

#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

#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

Tongue released: Brain tried for misconduct

my tongue is tied in knots and not speaking only causes everything to build up to the brim, the sea of the seen welling up to my head from my heart – overflowing out of my eyes that are leaking (at least they should be) the why is because my hands have been resting, testing the waters, at least that’s the excuse I will make, but it’s fake, for really I am scared and normal (and scared is normal) and really my eyes only leaked two or three times since before, I am fine, really.

…but who is looking for fine, really.  The best of the best or the worst of the worst for if I see one more generic landscape painting, one more adorable wide-eyed kitten, one more “5 five ways to flatter abs” I think the fineness of it all will overtake me and the mundanity will take my insanity, for all of it is playing a game, aiming to make us all sane, painless and numb, too dumb to speak anything new or original, for there is none of that anyway, so what do we do with these tongues of ours besides tie them in knots out of fear of not being anything other than normal.

. . .

It has been a while since I have written anything on here.  (It’s funny that life can go on without my online presence, regardless of however insistently opposed to that idea social media seems to be.)  There was a chunk of time when the increase in audience, however small it may be, really affected the way I was thinking about my blog.  One effect, that I foresaw to some degree, was an increased timidity: too timid to write anything new for fear of offending, hurting, or being judged.*  (And with the recent increase in talk of race – a topic I have been wanting to write about since having read Claudia Rankine in poetry class – I have become even more fearful of being misunderstood) However a secondary effect took me by surprise: the feeling that I must only post the best.  The best writing, the best experiences, the best insights.  And if things aren’t going well, then I must post the best of the worst. (aka deep insights into my pain, poetic lamenting, coherent arguments, etc.)

But honestly, my life is pretty normal.  My writing is pretty mediocre.  My daily activities and thoughts aren’t very earth-shattering.  But I don’t want to waste your time by posting things that aren’t “worth reading.” And that means I don’t stop to try to write anything worth reading because nothing has really happened…nothing except, ya know, just, my life.  ((And THEN I internally debate if this the “right or wrong” response…If I only feel the need to keep up with a blog because I am part of the technology generation or because I know it helps keep me sane or because I feel this pressure to keep friends/family updated…have you noticed that I tend to overthink basically everything?)) So, if I disappear for a while it’s probably because I am just making dinner and buying groceries and watching children and hanging out with friends and have decided that you could just go on Pinterest to replace anything I would post.

(Or because I have been too lazy to download all of the Alaskan cruise photos off of my camera…or because I fear I won’t have anything deep and insightful to say about the trip and will ruin my “intellectual, deep-thinker persona” haha…just kidding…but also totally serious… Let’s be honest, you kind of expect that of me, don’t you?  Some long rambling post about societal norms and emotions and poetic writing?  Or maybe you don’t and I have it all wrong…I’ll start posting pictures of cats… not that there’s anything wrong with posting pictures of cute cats! Just not my thing… oh no, now I offended all of the internet cat people…time to go back into my hole, as my dad would say, no offense dad, you just say that so I was just saying it because you say it not to make fun of you…oh no….speaking of my foot lodged in my mouth..)

So with that totally ridiculous post out of the way, I am going to write a list here so that you read it and I read it and so that I actually write about these things because I genuinely want to (and I genuinely want to have conversations about these things) but haven’t had the discipline to actually do it yet (also I was on a boat in the middle of the ocean for a week, so there’s that):

  • Short book reviews of recently read books (from signing for babies to danish education to poverty memoirs to dystopian fiction)
  • Alaskan cruise photos and stories! (also, visiting Seattle)
  • Race, Claudia Rankine, Citizen, and Whiteness
  • Things I am learning about personalities
  • The Generation of Sarcasm and Cynicism

If those sound lame, well, no hard feelings. :) If one sounds better than the others…COMMENT.  I would love nothing more :)  except maybe a replenished stock of mint chocolate chip ice cream…

___________

* Prior to my blog presence on Facebook and Instagram only strangers could read what I was sharing.  Inviting my personal world into my deepest thoughts and fears was a lot harder (and a lot more impactful) than the invitation to the general population of the internet.  There is something to be said about anonymity and freedom.  At least if I offend someone, I won’t run into them at the grocery store. Or if I share a struggle, I know that I won’t have to worry about someone mentioning it in conversation when I am unprepared to discuss it.  But I have also found that while some of my posts have led to difficult conversations with the people in my life, they have also led to deepening of conversations, opening the door for more real and intimate connection.  It’s interesting how much easier it is to talk about something (e.g. expressing fear, hopes, struggles, anger; admitting doubt or error) once someone else has already broached the topic.  Don’t you find that you are more open to be honest and open with someone who has already been honest and open with you?  Nobody wants to be that person who expresses some deep part of their soul to have it laughed at or thrown back at them.  So we play it safe and remain guarded.  We turn everything into parody.  We chose sarcasm over authenticity.  We make a mockery of our fears and flaws and insecurities in hopes that others won’t see how broken, scared, and helpless we really are – or if they do, well, at least we said it first.  …..or, is that just me?

 

 

Tongue released: Brain tried for misconduct