Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday Randomizer

- I spent most of today resting or napping and I still feel completely exhausted. Granted, its been a week with a lot of stress and not a lot of sleep, but I've been around A LOT of sick people recently, and I'm pretty sure my body is fighting something off. :( Other than chanting "I'm not getting sick, I'm not getting sick" over and over again, I've been gargling with apple cider vinegar,  eating lots of greens and citrus fruits,  and mostly trying to sleep it off. Also Zicam (Zicam is my best friend). Hoping I'll be back to 100% by Monday!

- Everything is in flux right now. On all fronts. And I'm so not good at flux, you know? I'm not good at transitions and change and things being out of sorts. I'm a routine girl, a know-what-to-expect, have-a-plan girl. Granted, in the last few years I've recognized that change is inevitable, and gotten a (little) bit better at rolling with the punches, but rarely have so many different areas of my life been in flux at once and I'm struggling. Trying very hard to take joy and choose to be happy and take everything one day at a time, but it's not working particularly well. I'm really eager to get everything back to some sense of normalcy. Even if the new normal is different than what it was.

- I bought houseplants. Walmart had all succulents and houseplants 50% off, so for a few dollars I came home with three new ones. And while I (and everyone who knows me at all!) know that I will probably have killed (or at least severely maimed) them by summer, for now all the green is brightening my spirits considerably.  Also I'm looking forward to spring and starting seeds and tending plants. Even if they produce two green beans and then die. ;)

- I am making a conscious effort to speak softly to those who disagree with me. I'm practicing being kind, being quieter. Not because what I'm saying isn't important, but because important issues sometimes raise emotions, and I need to be better about offering others safety to disagree with me. Even if I think their opinions are horrific (maybe especially then, because in that case it's even more vital that I give my words their best chance at being heard).

- The triplets start swim on Monday, and I am SO EXCITED. Friday I brought them in for training, and they got to test out their new wetsuits and goggles. I'm looking forward to watching them grow and learn. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2016


This is my third winter in the trailer, and I get better at winterizing each time. Since I just survived a blizzard very comfortably, and the weather is unlikely to be worse this winter, I'm hereby declaring the worst of the winter weathered.

- I've gotten more efficient each winter at heating effectively. The first year I heated exclusively with the propane duct system, and it was a cold, long, less than pleasant (and expensive!) winter. Last year I switched to two electric radiant heaters (one in the kitchen, one in the living room) which did a much better job, but were a pain to trip over and were a bit on the expensive side to run. Also, they provided zero airflow so my sleeping compartment was still always frigid.
This year, Maggie and Cris bought me this amazing infrared heater which is AMAZING. It keeps the whole place warm, is thermostatically controlled, and the blower keeps the air circulating, helping keep the whole place peetty evenly warm (my sleeping compartment was still a few degrees cooler, but that's how I prefer it, so that's fine). Plus, the sensory experience of being able to sit by a stove is just amazing. ;) I think this is the final solution. (When I build my tiny house someday, I think I'll choose a hard - wired infrared or propane fireplace.)
- Still using my electric blanket. I won it at my family gift exchange the first Christmas I was in the trailer and it's still going strong. I would highly recommend it to anyone who's living in cold quarters.

- I didn't insulate the heated hose this time. I always end up ripping off sections of the insulation at least once to deal with frozen sections, and it never seems to make a difference. It hasn't this year, either - if anything I've had fewer issues than ever. I did have a section of the pipe freeze once, but without the insulation I was able to see immediately that the heat tape had loosened, and once I tightened it, it thawed within minutes. So far so good. It's been a huge blessing to have almost zero issues with running water this year!

- The problem spot continues to be the faucet. It seems there's just no good way to insulate it. I wrapped it pretty thoroughly with the heat tape, but it froze in the middle of the blizzard. I defrosted it with a couple pitchers of hot water from the big house, then (since I lacked any other good options and hey, it worked last year!) I wrapped it with a couple of kitchen towels and zip - tied them into place. I'll probably try to pick up a Styrofoam faucet cover as soon as the world thaws and see if that fixes the problem. If not, hey, kitchen towels for the win! ;)

- Also on my "to do someday" list is rugs. The place could be 80° inside but the floors are still icy cold. I could fix this at least a bit by putting up skirting, but I shudder to think about the wildlife that would attract. I think I'll just buy some cheap throw rugs to put down over the linoleum.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Rest in peace, my sweet girl. You were loved.

Friday, January 15, 2016

What I Wish The Parents Of My Swim Students Knew

1. Please buy a swimsuit that fits your child correctly (and is made for swimming, not looking cute). This means a snug-fitting, one-piece suit (a suit with raceback straps like this one is awesome!). Two-piece suits are adorable but the absolute worst. One-piece suits with flouncy skirts (like this one) are also cute, but they make it hard for the child to see what their legs are doing. It's the most frustrating thing in the world to try to teach a child to swim who must constantly adjust the straps, waist, etc (we often ask each other, "Can't the parents, who are watching from the stands, see what a hassle it is?!"). I know it's tempting to get the next size up to try to save a little money (kids grow fast!), but it's not worth the wasted time.
Also, if you intend to have your child in swim lessons (or any other water-sport) for awhile, you need more than one suit, I promise. What happens when it's January, there are no suits in the stores, and your child's swimsuit suddenly falls apart (it happens) or is misplaced? A water aerobics teacher told me once that the rule of thumb for swimsuits is that if you're in the water more than twice a week, you'll probably need a new suit every 12 weeks or so.
If your child frequently complains about being cold, consider getting them a rashguard (Lands End sells lovely ones for both boys and girls, but even the cheapest neoprene rashguards will help immensely).

2. If your child's hair is long enough to reach their eyes when wet, tie it back before sending them to class. (Little girls AND little boys.) Better yet, get them a swim cap (and learn how to put it on: have the child hold the "front edge" of the cap with both hands very near their forehead; count "one, two, three!" and stretch the "back edge" of the cap back toward the nape of their neck. Tuck any loose hairs into place. If you have a little girl, put her hair back in a bun at the back of her head before putting on the cap).
I taught a little girl over the summer whose thick hair - no kidding - reached below her waist. The parents never pulled it back, so after trying for several lessons to get her to blow bubbles, and having her panic every time her hair covered her nose and mouth, I got into the habit of braiding her hair before taking her into the pool. (I did often wonder why her parents, who could clearly see her lessons, never bothered with this step themselves lol.)

3. Don't buy cheap goggles. The best goggles don't have Disney or Marvel characters on them. ;) Make sure they're sized for your child's age (child, youth, etc) and pick ones with a solid nosepiece (like these) and not an adjustable one (like these). (By the way, that first pair is my absolute favorite kind to put on little swimmers, and they're the ones I snap up on clearance to stock the swim bag with!) A pair with divided straps (like the first) is better than one without. If you have a very young child, invest in a pair of Frogglez. You can also try a hybrid swim mask if they have trouble getting a good fit - these cover a little more surface area so sometimes they work better for small faces - but DON'T buy a snorkeling mask that covers the nose. The first and most important skill when learning to swim is learning to control your breath, which is impossible to do if your nose is covered.
Teach your child to hold the goggles over their eyes while you (or their coach, etc) adjust the straps. There's less chance of injury this way, and you'll get a better fit. After they're done swimming, gently rub a little lotion, hair conditioner, etc over the inside of the lens, and swish it off in the water (don't rub!) before the next swim to maintain an anti-fog coating.

4. Don't send your child to class wearing jewelry, a watch, or, heaven forbid, toting a toy.
It's hard to get small children to focus in the best conditions. At best, your child will be distracted, at worst the coach will spend precious class time fishing a lost charm out of the filter amid tears. If the coach wants to use toys to help your child learn to swim, they will provide some. Otherwise, send your child to lessons without accessories!

Saturday, January 9, 2016


- A short weekend for me, since I worked yesterday (albeit a short shift) and again tomorrow. I was going to work on cleaning off my couch, but I didn't get anything accomplished on that front today after all.

- Maggie and I went to get coffee (#flatwhitesforlife!) and to put the kitties at Petco (Saturdays are adoption days). I wanted to take all the kitties home with me. Maggie reminded me that the landlords said no cats. Maggie met a cat who adored her. She wanted to take it home. I reminded her we have the same landlord.

- They had guinea pigs for adoption. I held one, it purred, I wanted to take it home (since guinea piggies fall under "acceptable pets"). I'm seriously considering getting one for my next pet when the Z-girls pass.

- I went out for a jog (I'm using C25K again) and, again, forgot how much I hate running. Barely finished, did some yoga afterwards because I hate running.

- Cooked zucchini alfredo and packed breakfasts for this week. Printed out the new rosters. Packed my swim bag and generally geared up for the week ahead.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Christmas Toddler Craft Round-Up

I thought I'd take a moment and share the activities and crafts we did month (December). Realizing that it was going to be an incredibly busy month, I was on the ball early (I'm not usually half so organized!) and had a whole calendar written out before December even started. (I have one written out for January, too, so hopefully this trend will continue!)

Some of these are art process projects, some are more traditional crafts, and some are newer ideas. The kids were really into Christmas this year (I think they remembered some from last year) and got very excited whenever we did anything "Christmasy" - even if it was just painting for a "Christmas craft" lol. ;)

Our counting wall. We always have something seasonal up on the wall to practice our counting with, so this time we did ornaments. I had the kids paint a big piece of paper with glitter paint, that I then cut into 20 circles and attached the tops to make ornaments (although I feel they're out of scale somehow - the struggle of being an art-challenged nanny, sigh.)

Michaels has had a great assortment of cheap craft kids lately. I picked up this bracelet kit for $1.29 and it had enough for three projects. As much as I love homemade craft projects, sometimes it's nice to be able to grab something prepackaged and all-included in a pinch! :) This is great fine motor skill practice; we also worked on patterns and color recognition as they worked on "green, red, white" order.
I was confessing on Instagram that I rarely do "invitation to play" crafts because they can get so out of control so fast; however, this one was so worth it! I adapted it from this pin and put out pompoms, pipe cleaners cut into 1/2" lengths, red, silver, and gold glitter, pony beads in red, yellow, and green, and sequins. The kids took forever filling up their bottles (bonus!) and then played with them nonstop for over an hour, rolling them back and forth, having "races," and just shaking them up and watching them settle.
I created these simple "order puzzles" for one of our circle times. The kids struggled more than I expected to complete them!
We played this counting game at the same circle time; throw the dice and find the Christmas tree with the same number of stickers.
Torn paper collages are fun, and we've done several different seasonal themes. This time I let the kids use scissors for part of the time, which they enjoyed, but got frustrated/tired with easily.
Another really fun activity, especially for Miles (who often tires of being told to "stop banging on things" - he kept banging on the buttons with the hammer, then looking at me like, "Can I really hit it?" lol). Oversized buttons, crab hammers, and styrofoam cones. We have to figure out a way to reuse these cones, or else save them for next year - they were easily one of the more expensive craft supplies I've ever bought!
Super-easy craft, making pipe-cleaner and pony bead candycanes for the tree.
The kids were able to do this craft completely by themselves this year. I did the cutting, but they did the gluing and positioning without any help. :)
Another easy ornament craft - popsicle stick trees. (I swear they're almost totally painted in real life, I don't know why the glitter glue won't show up on the camera!)
Cinnamon-dough ornaments. The kids loved mixing the dough and enjoyed playing with it for a bit before making the handprints. We followed up this craft several days later by painting the handprint ornaments.
The kids LOVED getting to paint their hands lol.
Sometimes our crafts turn out more "Fail" than "pinterest" lol
We did this after dinner one night with all four kiddos. Right before we turned them loose, I told DB that I had the sudden feeling I was making the biggest mistake of my nanny career ;) but it ended up being a relatively mess free craft and one that they definitely enjoyed!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Another Randomizer

- Today was the last day I had off before going back to two jobs (and I resume job #3 next week, so life is about to kick back into normal!). I did not move as fast as I possibly could have, but man did I get a lot done! And in between I watched the second season of Broadchurch. And drank coffee. And now my house is much cleaner and organized and I'm excited. And I feel rested and ready to get back into the swing of things. So yay.

- Things I'm loving lately: leggings (still not wearing them out of the house but they make incredibly comfortable and WARM pajamas) and fuzzy socks; the new heater Mags and Cris got me for Christmas (it looks just like a woodstove and BLISS); opening up cabinets and storage compartments that I remembered being crammed with junk and discovering that I did a much better job of purging last year than I remembered.

- Here's a bit of news: as of this moment, I own 200 books. To put this in perspective, the summer before I moved into the trailer I owned over 1,000 books. I took 500 with me when I moved. I'm not neccesary on a mission to get rid of more (good books are one of those things I'm ok with giving space to) but 200 books fit so much better than 500. Also, I got rid of James Joyce's Ulysses. I am probably never going to adore James Joyce, and if I decide I want to read Ulysses,  I will get a Kindle copy or something, instead of a ten pound hardback with gold lettering and a stamped cover. Reality sets in at last.

- Speaking of Kindle: I'm reading "7" right now and it's excellent. An excellent book to be reading during the new year while you're cleaning/organizing/purging.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Winter Bucket List 2016

1. Go to bed early
2. Go stargazing
3. Buy new music and burn a mix CD
4. Make valentines with the triplets
5. Stay up late reading a novel
6. Start a summer vacation fund
7. Start a reading list
8. Run or swim 3x a week
9. Declutter and clean trailer
10. Repaint
11. Get truck repaired (fan and airbag light... what else?)
12. Start new devotional
13. Take the girls ice skating
14. Do a Whole30
15. Make treats for my coaches
16. Clean out swim bag
17. Put together a "nanny bag"
18. Make chili and cornbread
19. Go to a bridal shower
20. Buy new tea