In performing my job as required of me this week, I was needed to take two of my charges to their grandfather’s funeral and burial.  My boss was away for work in Mexico all week, and this left me to do the honors.  The kids’ grandfather who passed was their deceased mother’s father.  We knew on Tuesday morning that the funeral services would occur on Thursday, during school.  

All week, my 13yo charge has been acting out in ways that show his fear of abandonment, death, and loneliness.  There was the time that he panicked upstairs, calling “hello” in a strained voice, thinking he had been left unexpectedly alone, when in reality, I was downstairs folding laundry for 10 minutes.  Then there was the time when, driving him home from school, he told me he knew the world was going to end tomorrow, due to those experiments that are going on in Sweden with colliding atoms.  He’d learned about it in science class that day, and how the scientists are trying to recreate a “Big Bang” theory.  I told him that I doubted that this was going to be a reality, and that I believe when God decides to end the world, it will be at a very unexpected time.  I then went on to say that if the world ends tomorrow, I’m ready to go to heaven… and asked him if he in turn was ready.  He looked at me with fear in his eyes, and said no, that he had too much to do here first.  I asked him to explain, and he said he hasn’t gotten a chance to play golf with Tiger Woods yet.  I tried to reassure him that I’m pretty sure he and Tiger can play a round up in heaven, if for some reason he doesn’t get a chance to play here… and tried to laugh about it with him, but he couldn’t see the joke.  

He had his worst show of fear yesterday during the actual funeral, though.  It was an open casket service, and since his mother’s service was closed casket, this was the first time he had ever come face-to-face with an embalmed deceased person before.  He walked into the room, not knowing what to find, and when he saw his grandfather lying there, he froze, then backed up quickly, turned around, and with the whitest face I’ve ever seen looked at me with the widest scared eyes ever, and I saw the kid inside him start to fade away before my eyes.  It was one of the saddest moments I’ll ever know.  Later, in the truck, while we were driving in the procession, his older sister was crying her heart out in the back seat, and he looked at me solemnly, and said that even though he wasn’t crying on the outside, that he was on the inside, and that it hurt really badly.

I can’t begin to put into words how it feels to see a child you care for have their last few pieces of innocence ripped from them before your eyes.  It has got to be one of the most heart-wrenching moments I will ever experience, and it’s not one that I would like to have again any time soon.

Last week, I found out the morning of, that my boss was called to Argentina on a business trip for a week.  Really, not too big of a deal.  The kids in my care are older, and being a “single parent” for a week really wasn’t too much different than what my normal work week entails.  Sure, I had to get all the kids prepared and off to their respective first days of school without any glitches, but whatever.  All in a day’s work, for this seasoned vet of the Nanny Brigade.

This brings me to this morning.  At least I got a post-it note with the following information.  “called to Mexico on business until Thurs night. Kids’ grandfather ________ passed away last night. I told them before bed…….” the post-it went into minor detail about where and when the funeral and wake are to be located, and since they occur while my boss is away, it is up to me to ensure the kids get out of school, get across the state, and to the proceedings without glitch.  I am also playing the part of “shoulder to cry on.”  These kids have already suffered the loss of their mom four years ago, and now are subject to going to their only grandfather’s funeral and wake with their nanny, due to their father’s work schedule.

Suffice to say, breakfast was rather strained this morning.

I just don’t know what else to say on the subject at this time.  Seriously.  I knew coming in, that this job would have its ups and downs, but having their father leave a flippin’ post-it note, breaking this news, is just a bit on the strained side.  Yes, I realize I’ve used that word twice now.  I feel so bad for the kids and for their dad.  And now, I go to my first work-related funeral proceeding on Thursday.

Have earned a new set of “Nanny Stripes” this week.

Happy Monday morning, kids.  How are you? Me?… oh, well, other than smelling like a big pickle, really quite fine, actually.

My boss has put a huge budget on the spending in the house, and has cut the allowance on an already tightly controlled (by yours truly) credit card to about a quarter of what it previously was able to be used for.  Now, all grocery and gasoline for the house must be kept under $350/month.  This does not include the bi-weekly Costco run, where I’ve been compared to a wild-woman, loading my cart precariously with enough bulk items to make the most seasoned Costco shopper do a double take.  No, this is the weekly stuff, plus the gasoline to keep ol’ Goliath (my pet name for the Ford Excursion that I drive the kids about town in) running.  So, why the scent of pickle? Well, I’m having to get creative with my cleaning rituals.  No longer does the caddy that I use to clean about the house hold such items as 409, windex, and soft scrub… oh, no.  That stuff costs an arm and a leg! I’m now doing what my great-grandmother did in the 1930’s, and have reverted to white vinegar.  Other than smelling like I work in the Claussen pickle factory, I’m kinda amazed at how well this stuff works.  Huh. Who knew? (Besides Great-Grandma Oelrich, that is…)

What else is new and fabulous in my life? Well, not much in the fabulous department (this is ME we’re talking about, afterall) but as for the new stuff, there’s a few things worthy of note.  First, I’ve admitted to the fact that I’m hopelessly socially awkward, and am now coming to terms with this.  Second, I’m kinda riding the wave of a few potentially life-changing moments for the next week or so, but I won’t have much detail about that for a bit.  Third, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to cut someone completely out of my life, but I know that it’s needed due to my inability to be the kind of person they want me to be.  I’m pretty happy with who I am, and how far I’ve come, but that will never be enough to that person in question, so cutting the strings now is leading to a lot less heart-ache later.

Oh, yeah… finally going to use that Hilton Day Spa gift card this week, and get this mop on top of my head taken care of.  Thinking a quick snip-snip and some dye is in order for the day.  Nothing too short… love the length after my insanity with super short hair a few years ago.  Just want something that’s fun.  And easy to put in a ponytail.

Dunno, guess that’s about it.  Should probably go finish cleaning the house, doing the laundry, preparing for dinner, writing some emails, and watching Kang dance a few more times before the kids get home.  Peace y’all.

I sincerely doubt that this bloggity will have anything of much importance written in it, but I felt the urge to write, and since I’m being denied the ability to do much else with my time lately, write I shall do.  Here are the few things that are on my mind…

1) I cannot wait for the day when I can open a window in the place where I live to get some fresh air circulating through the room.  Having been told repeatedly to “Shut the window! The air’s on!” is a bit disgruntling when you’ve been trapped in the same room for almost a week, and had the likes of beef lo mein delivered to said room a couple of times in that time period.  I would really love nothing else than to lay in my bed with a breeze from outdoors sweeping over my toes.

2) Speaking of nature, there is a moth that I have named Sparky that has deemed my room his home, too, for the last three days.  Sparky and I tolerate each other the best we can.  He doesn’t land on my nose or macbook, and I don’t chase him with a flip-flop.  My only hope is that Sparky is not a Sparkette, and if he is, that he does not decide to have mini-Sparks all over my room.

3) As amazing as the family that I work for is, I really have to say that I’m feeling a bit useless around them.  The kids have all been raised to be self-sufficient, almost to a fault.  Yes, I realize that I’m not exactly a beacon for mobility at the moment, but they are doing a mighty fine job of making sure that they are well fed, chores are done, and that they are on time for appointments and such…. all without me.  I must say, that at the end of the day, I would really love a job that I can not only make a great difference to people doing, but also feel needed.  Right now, I’m not feeling much of either.

4) I am aching to go outside for a walk.  But I have come to realize, that despite this aching, should I give into my stubbornness and actually go outside for a walk, that I would be doing a lot more than just aching by the time I got back.  Dang it.

5) My mom is going to be here in less than a week, and if I don’t get paid for this week, I will be going into my vacation completely broke.  Not a good feeling for a girl who really just wants to show her mom the amazing life she’s built for herself over a two-year period in a place that no one back home thought I’d have a chance at succeeding at. **EDIT** Spoke with my boss this morning, and not only am I getting paid for this week (he’s calling it “sick pay”, but I’m also being paid for next week.  I get the check tomorrow morning.  Life remains good.  God remains amazing! 😉

6) The cave crickets that invaded my room a month or so ago are GONE!  Yay!!!  I can finally rid my room of my silly cricket glue traps that are everywhere.  I think one of them kind of freaked out a buddy of mine who came in to use my bathroom the other day.  Oh well… try having one of those creatures land on your head in the middle of the night, then see who the one freaking out is.

7) I refuse to do bed rest a single day longer.  Tomorrow I am accompanying the kids to their pool club, and basking in the sun for a couple of hours…. (With my 85 SPF on.  Make fun of me, if you will.  This girl’s playing sun-safe!)  Really, though, how much good can resting on your back really be for a person?  Isn’t that how Gilbert Grape’s mom got into the condition she tragically ended up in?  I feel the need… the need to MOVE!  My body just can’t take this sedentary lifestyle any longer.

Wow.  Guess I had more on my mind than I really thought.  Until next time, Sparky and I are signing off….

Peace, ya’ll!

Well, folks…. it is now Thursday, and I have been on bed rest since Sunday.  I do believe I’m going a little mad here.  I can now tell you exactly how many nail holes are in each of my bedroom walls, how many stripes are on each of the patches on the quilt on my bed, and the entire menu at Madison Wok (who has delivered 3 meals in 4 days to me! Aah!) off the top of my head.  But, much to your collected sighs of relief, I’ll spare you those details.  I know that most sane people would be living it up, relaxing while they could… however, if you’ve failed to notice as of yet, I am not sane.  Not to say that I’m insane…. I’m just not normal. I would love to be able to relax.  Really.  It’s just that I know that I’m missing stuff, and it’s driving me to the brink.  I actually attempted to get out of bed yesterday morning to fold some laundry (just trying to make myself useful…), and my boss caught me.  He told me to go back to bed, and said that he knows I’ve got that “stubborn Midwestern streak” in me, but that I need my rest.  If I wasn’t in so much constant pain, I would argue and go about doing my thing, but in this case, my back is winning the fight.  Dang it.

So, what have I done to pass the time?  Besides the pain pill cocktails that make me feel all funny inside ::smile::, I have re-read “Tramp For the Lord” and “Through Painted Deserts.”  I have watched the entire first season of “Flight of the Conchords,” “The Smurfs,” “Fraggle Rock,” and all three episodes of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog.”    I have spent more time on Facebook than it was ever intended for.  Kids, I’m running out of things that can be done while flat on one’s back.

My employers are leaving for LBI on Saturday morning, so tomorrow my boss is taking me to Enterprise to rent a car (he’s footing the bill) while they are gone.  So, that’s something to look forward to.  The Audi body work should be done sometime next week.  Hopefully it’s done before my mom arrives.  I have so many plans for when she gets here… I’m just praying that I can move by then.  If not, I may not get her into the city, which I know she really wants to do.

Man, I just realized I don’t even know if I’m going to be getting my paycheck this week.  Sure, I get paid vacation (which is technically what next week is…), but I’ve been out of work now for 4 days.  There are so many questions on my heart that I don’t know how to answer, and laying here focusing on them is totally not helping.

Ok, so I’m getting really light-headed… the pain meds are starting to kick in for this morning.  It has come to the point for this bloggity to end before I start talking about really weird stuff… plus the room is spinning too much right now for me to focus on the monitor anymore.  Peace ya’ll.

Ok, this weekend was beyond amazing.  It was beyond extraordinary.  It was infinitely beyond good.  So many lives were changed due to the events of this weekend… and mine was one of them.  I don’t know if it’s supposed to be public knowledge yet as to how many African wells were made possible to dig, thanks to the generosity of people from the Liquid Party on the Green, but know that it was mind-blowing.  As a church, we were not looking for people to give… we were willing and wanting to do all the giving this weekend.  It takes my breath away, and causes me to weep knowing what a wonderful impact the people of Morristown collectively made in the hundreds of lives in Africa that they will never know.

The Liquid Church Gas Extravaganza was beyond words as well. People waited over three hours in line for gas.  I was there, handing out water and waffles to those people who waited.  Hundreds of us were united there to lift these people up in prayer, and bring them relief in more than just the obvious $0.99 gas.  I know that made a difference, but I think the whole spectacle and process were the real difference made yesterday.  God shining through us brought light to many who could have otherwise never seen it.

I have to pause at this time for the strong possibility of my sounding a little odd writing today.  I went into this weekend with a sore back, and came out of it practically immobile in pain.  My friend Nate took me to the ER last night, and I was given a lovely cocktail of vicodan, percoset, and 800ml Motrin.  I got my prescriptions for the above filled this morning, and thanks to that, an icy-hot patch on my back, and a back brace holding me all together, I’m feeling a bit inspired this afternoon.  Actually, I’m feeling a bit woozy, and transparent as well.  I haven’t moved from my bed since taking the scrip-cocktail this morning.  I don’t have any plan to move soon, either.  My back is still very tender and spasmy, and I want to thank all of my friends and family who have lifted me up in prayer and continue to do so.

I would like to say, as one of the thousands of uninsured Americans wandering about this country, that I am more than impressed with the level of service I received last night, and with the new prescription price policy.  I went into the pharmacy this morning with a nagging fear of having to spend over a hundred dollars on medicine… I came out with a $18.50 receipt, that included the stick of deodorant I threw into the mix.  I will go into the hospital sometime later this week… apparently there is some sort of program in place to have the hospital pay for much of the fees that were given to me in my attempt to get better.  I feel like that old 80’s comedian (and this may age me…) but right now, “I love dis country!”  Of course, right now, I’m also high as a kite on pain meds, but you get my point, I do believe.

Some friends of mine introduced me to “Flight of the Conchords” from HBO on Saturday night.  This is possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever watched.  Today, to pass the time, I’m watching this, as well as “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” to pass the time.  If you have not checked these two fine bits of televised greatness out yet (or even if you have…) I highly recommend seeing them soon.  Two thumbs up.

**Post addition** I don’t know if it’s the medicine that I’m taking, or what, but it’s a little after midnight now, and I keep waking up due to the fact that I’m biting my tongue HARD in my sleep.  About a year ago I had issues with this as well.  I was scared to death that I was going to bite off my tongue in my sleep.  This happened at about the same time that I had broken my ankle and was on pain meds.  This has got to be the weirdest side effect of pain medication (or any medication) that I’ve ever heard of. Do not operate heavy machinery or drive while taking.  Side effects may include: nausea, drowsiness, numbness, and the compulsion to bite one’s tongue off….. Weird.  Has anyone ever heard of this, or am I a special brand of strangeness?

Happy August, everyone!  I’m already in love with this month, and it’s only 9 hours old.  For all general purposes, we can say that August is my new favorite month.  Well, at least this August is, anyway.  Why?  Well, for starters, I rang in the month by seeing The Dark Knight last night.  Amazing, spellbinding, captivating, fantastic… these words just don’t seem to do that movie much justice. Seriously, the movie ended, and I sat glued in my seat for a few minutes into the credits with my mouth agape in awe at the movie I’d just seen.  So, that was good… (Sorry, I just couldn’t come up with a way of ending that whole thought process.  “That was good…” seemed the only appropriate way.)

Tomorrow and Sunday are Liquid Church’s “Party on the Green” and “Gas Giveaway.”   So excited for it to get here!  I think that God is going to be showing up BIG TIME over the course of this weekend, and I’m planning to be right in the heart of it.  I really can’t wait to be able to listen to the band playing for so long. The music at Liquid is the first thing that drew me back to God after such a long hiatus from Him… I can only hope that there will be others who really need Him in their lives that will hear the music and have their eyes and hearts opened tomorrow.  As for my little part of the whole deal, I’ll be painting faces tomorrow, and serving up refreshments on Sunday.

I’m flying my mom out here to visit in about a week and a half.  Can’t wait to show her a few pieces of the life I’ve been building for myself out here over the course of the past two years.  That’s right, folks, I’ll be celebrating my second anniversary of being in Jersey on the 15th this month!  I can’t believe time has gone by so fast!  Anyway, I’ll be taking Mom to all sorts of places around here.  I think she’s most excited to be in the background at Rockefeller during the taping of the Today Show that Friday morning.  She told me that she’s telling all her friends to watch that morning, and she’ll wave to them.  Oy.

Now, I’m going to age myself just a little right now, and say that the best part of this month is the fact that the kids will be returning to school at the end of it.  I know, I know… not the coolest thing I could say, but I don’t care.  I love my job, I love these kids, and I love the ’80s (sorry, I just couldn’t think of another thing that I love that has to do with this job), but I have to say that I think it’s better for all parties involved when they are engrossed in school for 7 hours of the day, and I can get stuff done around the house, and then we can spend time together in the afternoons… when all other aspects of the day are under control.  I have spent the majority of this summer behind the wheel, driving kids here, there, and everywhere…  I greatly look forward to the day when I can have a little bit of regular scheduling in my day.

So, yeah.  Those are just a few of the reasons I’m happy that it’s August.  Now, in an effort to boost July’s self-esteem, here are a few of the things that were great about July:

  • I learned how to make PDF and Zip files on my mac.  Don’t laugh!  This took some effort!
  • My tattoo is healed, and I can proudly show it off in a tank top without worrying about it fading.
  • I have a free massage coming to me, thanks to a wonderful and unexpected gift I received.
  • I’m one more month closer to being debt-free!  December of next year can’t come soon enough!
  • I’ve met some really great people this month, and love hanging out with them!
  • I’ve been introduced to some amazing new music… love it when that happens!

There’s more, I’m sure, but it’s getting late, and I don’t want to bore you any longer with this passage.  So, until next time, folks, happy August!  Peace ya’ll!

When I finished working this evening, I was in awe of the fact that the Expedition I’d been driving the kids around in all day went through a solid half tank of gas, and I’d somehow managed to wrack on 225 miles since starting at 7 am.  I believe the awe comes in two parts: 1) I didn’t think it was possible to do that, even though I call the drivers’ seat of that truck my second home anymore, and 2) all these miles and gas were used up within a 15 mile radius of the house from 7am to 8pm today.  If I listen closely to the wind, I can hear Al Gore crying bitterly… and I don’t blame him.  I think I’ve finally convinced my boss that the truck is not economical or environmentally friendly.  He’s agreed that he will trade it in for another sedan this fall.  Until that time, though, I’m suffering daily guilt complexes about leaving such a horrible environmental stain on this part of New Jersey.

In other news, I have officially crossed the line from “Super Nanny” to “Soccer Mom”.  During the duration of all the afore-mentioned driving, I managed to schedule 5 doctor appointments (with different doctors, mind you) for the kids, schedule an oil change for the truck, schedule the needed body work for the car, balance my checkbook, fill 2 prescriptions, do the grocery shopping, have a hot dinner on the table by 5:45, and of course get the kids to and from all lessons, matches, work and various other rides about town.  All this without a blackberry or iPhone.  Seriously, I don’t know when I morphed into “Soccer Mom”, but I’m not very comfortable with it.  I never wanted to be one, and I know that people like me are the butt of numerous jokes.  Can I safely presume my identity as “Super Nanny” by tomorrow morning?

As those of you who know me personally are aware, I’m pretty heavily involved with the Liquid Kids’ Pre-K program.  I love those kids so much, and helping to create an environment that helps them learn, grow, and have fun at church week after week is one of my purest joys in life.  Each week I come home having learned something that I hadn’t really thought of from a kids’ perspective before.  Just to share the wealth of preschool knowledge, I thought I’d share some of the best quotes and stories that have been shared with me over the course of the last few months.  Enjoy…

1. While discussing how sometimes “bad guys” in movies can be scary: “No, Darth Vader and Darth Maul really weren’t bad, Miss Michelle… they were just doing their jobs.”  ~Ben (age 4)

2. While discussing doing the “right thing”: “My mommy yelled at my daddy for not flushing the toilet after he pooped.  He didn’t do the right thing, huh?” ~to remain nameless to protect the father (age 5)

3. While eating snack of juice and goldfish crackers: (solemnly) “Milk and water are for breakfast, juice is only for a snack.” Sam (age 5)

4. Asking for help with your zipper if it gets stuck while you are in the bathroom is not only perfectly acceptable, but encouraged.

5. Missing Mommy after 15 minutes of separation is normal.  Crying in a corner for a few minutes happens.  Forgetting about all that as soon as “teacher” turns on a song to dance to is just what happens.

6. After having heard the story of Joseph and his colorful coat: “Man, if Joseph had just shared his coat, it wouldn’t have gotten all dirty in the pit!” ~Faythe (age 5)

7. After hearing about how the king of Babylon threw Daniel into the lions’ den for disobeying him: “My mommy said that if me and my sister didn’t behave sometimes, that she would put us in the den, too.” ~Jordyn (age 4)

8. If you are wearing a dress, and your panties under it are pretty too, it’s okay to show all your girlfriends the panties by pulling your dress over your head and walking around.

9. God loves you no matter what… even when you and your buddy do tai kwon do when “teacher” tells you to sit down.

10. When one person goes to the potty, it’s best if ten others go too… just to save some time.

These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned from working with these kids.  I love them like none other.  More lessons will be learned in the future, and I can’t wait to report on them… until then, have a wonderful day!

Last night it rained like crazy, so my twelve-year-old’s Little League game was postponed until tonight.  To keep him occupied, I pulled out my humongous binder of DVDs, and asked him to pick out a movie that he and I could watch.  After detouring him away from such classics as Donnie Darko and The Butterfly Effect (hey, I like a movie that makes me think…) he settled for Clue.  Now, for those of you who are not familiar with this comical film from the ’80s, it’s basically a film adaptation of the classic Parker Brothers board game.  It’s rated PG.  It has such amazing actors as Tim Curry, Martin Mull, and Christopher Lloyd playing the beloved characters from the board game.  Ok, so we start watching the movie, and as I’m making up some popcorn, my boss (the twelve-year-old’s dad) and my eldest charge (eighteen-years-old) come in, sit down and watch the movie with us.  

That sets the scene.  I go downstairs for some time to myself since the other adults were home to watch the movie with my charge.  From my room, I can hear them all upstairs laughing about the movie.  I went to bed thinking that I’ve just scored in the whole “Super Nanny” gig.

This morning I get a call from my boss while I’m waiting for my sixteen-year-old charge to finish her ice skating session.  Apparently, the twelve-year-old had some major issues with Clue, and was so scared by it that he couldn’t sleep, and when he did finally get to sleep, he had nightmares.  This is a PG movie from the ’80s, people.  Today, he’s in a foul mood from lack of sleep, and he refuses to go try to take a nap.  Hey, the kid’s gonna be thirteen next month, I can’t really force him to sleep.

Here’s the issue: he wants me to take him to see Dark Knight.  His dad is completely ok with letting me do this.  I’m not.  It’s not that I don’t want to see the movie (I really, really, really do….) it’s just that he had nightmares over a movie that was soooo not your typical nightmare-inducing movie.  He’s a bear today.  How in the world am I going to take him to see a movie that is dark and a bit twisted with a guy in smudged clown make-up?  (I have nothing against the late Heath Ledger… he still makes my heart go “pitter patter” even to this day.)  I know that the whole reason he wants to see it is because his older sisters and his soon-to-be older step-sister and same aged step-brother have all seen it and love it.  Kids all grow at different stages… I don’t know what to do here.  When is it okay for the nanny to put her foot down and say to the parent, “Hey, your kid shouldn’t do this.  It will really screw him up.”?

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