It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Just makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over, doesn’t it?

Genuine ad from a nanny-focussed website. (Edited to put in paragraph breaks, making it a little easier to read, but it’s all the potential employer’s exact words.)

Nanny Needed ASAP
I posted a listing on Thursday but wasn’t getting the proper responses and it became difficult to weed out the kind of people I am looking for, so I am trying again.

I need a nanny ASAP. Preferably by Monday. If you can’t start Monday, skip this ad. Next, I need someone with infant experience. That’s a must, as my former nanny (to my dismay and horror) could not make a bottle. I am a little scarred by that. She was nice, she was caring, she cleaned REALLY well (I liked that), but she was incompetent. Competence is a must. I don’t like to tell my nanny the obvious.

I’d like for her to be hands-on. I don’t want someone who will stick my child in the crib and let her cry (my nanny did that too, but her excuse is that she was vacuuming). I expect housework, but I expect it to be done while the baby sleeps (that’s about 4 hours a day–not an unreasonable request if you ask me).

I don’t want my nanny to chat on the phone or watch tv while my baby is awake (if she is sleeping, knock yourself out). Lastly, I pay $400 a week for the following hours 7:30a.m.-4:30p.m. You’d only be responsible for an 8 month-old infant who sleeps for 4+ hours a day. If you are looking for $12-15 an hour, you can skip this ad too. While I’d love to be able to pay that, I am not made of money.

If you fit this description, email me your resume WITH REFERENCES. I need contact info of the most recent CHILDCARE positions you held. While I am sure your friends are lovely people, I don’t really want to talk to them. Thanks.

I’m speechless…

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Hurts so good

Baby Noah is getting a nice, snuggly bottle before his nap. Just him and me, in our own little cocoon of lovin’. Baby slurps and baby sighs, a nice warm body nestled against mine. So sweet and peaceful and


No, it’s not tanks rolling down the street. It’s more like crockery rattling on a shelf. Only I can see the china cabinet from where I sit. Nothing happening in there.


Not quite crockery. More metallic than that. And there are definite “thuds” associated with the “clanks”. All coming from the kitchen, which I can’t quite see from where I’m sitting. Also coming from the kitchen are gales of laughter.

“BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAH…gurgle, chortle, snort.”

Well, no one’s being hurt, at any rate. But, depending on just how they’re making that CLANK noise, that could be a matter of seconds. I set Noah down with his bottle, which he’s quite capable of holding on his own. I just like the occasional baby snuggle.

riotous laughter

I peek around the corner, and I see…

Click on the pictures for the larger view. Still not clear on just what you’re seeing? Here we have Timmy on the left, and Anna on the right. Timmy and Anna are under a shelf in the kitchen. The shelf holds, as you can see, a toaster, a radio, a container full of utensils, and, which you might not be able to see on the far right of Timmy’s picture, a small plate on which lies a fork. (Also on the shelf: a twist tie, a bread tag, some crumbs from the toaster, and some dried spilled milk. Must get to that.)

Timmy and Anna have discovered — lord only knows exactly how — that if they crouch under the shelf a bit, and then stand up REALLYFAST, the fork jumps on the plate and makes a really great CLANK! noise.

This is very, very funny.

It also hurts a bit.

But it is soooooo funny that we must do it over and over and ooooover again. They rub their head a little, because, you know, you have to hit the shelf pretty hard to make that cool CLANK noise, and go back and whack it on the shelf again.


Each CLANK is one small head bashing itself against the underside of the shelf. I figure they each took at least a dozen shots to the occiput.

So if I’m not here tomorrow, you’ll know the CAS has come and taken me away. I’m hoping the video I took will be sufficient evidence for the defense.


September 29, 2008 Posted by | Anna, health and safety, Timmy | , , , | 4 Comments

Because I’m running out of disinfectant

Here we have a teething toy (also known as a chew toy) for a baby (human version):

And here we have a chew toy (also known as a teething bone) for a baby (canine version):

And I’m just wishing, really and truly and sincerely wishing, that the two of them understood the distinction a little better…

September 26, 2008 Posted by | eeewww, health and safety | , , , , | 6 Comments

We love beets!


I’ve been getting a weekly delivery from a local organic farm. You never know what will be in your box when you open it. This week was kale, squash, cilantro, tomatillos, potatoes, tomatoes, lots of green peppers and beets. Lots and LOTS of beets.

So today’s menu included mucho beets. This recipe is taken from Extending the Table: Recipes and Stories from Argentina through Zambia (commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee, published by Herald Press, edited by Joetta Hendrick Schlabach), a really fun cookbook given to me by my wonderful children last Christmas. (By all of them? By just one? I can’t remember… I suspect the great-with-gifts Haley had much to do with it, though.)

Lentil Salad, from Ethiopia

In pot with lid, combine
1 cup dried lentils (250 mL)
2 1/2 cups water
Bring to boil. Cover and cook on low heat until tender, but still somewhat firm, about 25 minutes. Drain.

Peel and cut into tiny bits two to three medium beets. (About 1 cup.) Cook till tender in a pot of water. Drain.

Mix in medium-large glass bowl:
3 – 4 T lemon juice or vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) (45 – 60 ml)
3 T oil (45 ml)
1 t salt (5 ml)
1/2 t pepper (3ml)
1/2 cup red shallots or onions (125 ml), cut in thin strips
1 – 2 hot green chili peppers, cut into thin strips, 1/2 inch (1 cm) long
(We rarely have these in the house, but we ALWAYS have a jar of banana pepper rings, so I used those, minced up, about 1/8 cup minced.)

Add lentils and beets. Toss to mingle ingredients well.

Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Anna asked for three helpings. Timmy ate two. Emily said it was “a bit spicy”, but managed two helpings (second helpings are always entirely voluntary!) with frequent sips of water. Even baby Noah managed to ingest some. Not sure how much, but there was a great deal of red on his face, hands, and tray, and not too many visible beet bits…

Warning: beet juice stains. Bib up well, and/or strip them down to their underwear!

We ate this with a beet-greens salad. (Of course!)

Beet greens (I used the greens from the 3 beets I used in the above recipe. It made about, oh, 5 cups?)
1 green pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 onion
(These are the ingredients I had that I thought would taste well together. If you have something else you want to toss in, feel free!)

1 T oil
1 T vinegar
(and, if you like a bit of zing, 1 T juice from your jar of banana pepper rings…)

Take the leaves and stems from your beets and wash well. Put three or four leaves in a neatish pile, one on top of the other, on your chopping board. Roll them up, lengthwise. (So you have a long, skinny roll, not a short wide one.) Slice the greens across the top of the roll, so you’re making short, skinny strips of greens. Put them all into the bowl. Don’t stop when you get to the stems, either! Keep chopping! The stem bits taste just the same as the greens, and add a little crunch to the salad.

Finely chop peppers, cliantro, and onions.

Whisk oil, vinegar, and pepper juice together and drizzle over salad. Toss to coat well.

They were enthusistic about this than the lentils (no requests for seconds), but it went down all right.

Tomorrow? Sweet and sour beets!!

September 25, 2008 Posted by | food, health and safety | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

On Junk Praise and Self-Esteem

It is just about lunch time, and, as is our routine, the children have been directed to put their clutter toys and games away. This was a while back, and I had just started a three-year-old. This is unusual. Generally I get the children as babies, fresh off mummy’s maternity leave, but this little one’s mother had opted to stay home until this year, so here she is, fresh into daycare at the ripe old age of three.

After I’ve set the table, I look around at the room. The two-year-old has put his toys away, one of the three-year-olds has hers away, and the third? The newbie? She sits beside the block bin, and has put perhaps three blocks away. Hm.

“Why aren’t you putting the blocks away, like I asked?”
“You didn’t say ‘Good job!’!”
“And I won’t until you do a good job. Away you go! Tell me when you’re done.”

Her eyes widen. This was not the reaction she’d been expecting.

She’s obviously been fed a steady diet of “junk praise” by her loving parents. Of course she has. We’ve all been taught to do that: to build a child’s self-esteem, you feed them lots and lots of praise. You note their small accomplishments, you give positive feedback routinely.

And what do you get?

Praise addicts. Kids who can’t do anything without being stroked constantly. They’re like a car with a leaky gas-tank, constantly needing replenishing. You can’t get half as far as you should on the fuel you put in.

What you don’t get is healthy self-esteem. What you don’t get is kids who can see a task through to the end — not without a steady input of praise and admiration.

I’ve been reading “The Self Esteem Trap” by Polly Young-Eisendrath. It’s clear, well-written, thought-provoking, and, if you’re a parent of children under the age of 25 or so, probably provocative. It might even anger you, because it rebuts some of the noblest parenting ideals of the last three decades. It’s a terrific book.

I’d recommend it to all parents. Being the thought-provoking work it is, it’s spawned at least four posts in my mind. This is the first. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of being part of a conference call with Ms. Young-Eisendrath. One comment she made stuck with me: “Self-esteem can’t be injected from outside.”

This is not to say you never praise your child, of course, or that you don’t take genuine pleasure in them. But when you’ve created a child who, at the age of three, can’t put away 30 blocks without four or five injections of praise and encouragement, what you have is not self-esteem, but praise dependence.

A child who is raised on a steady diet of constant praise for non-accomplishments can certainly gain an inflated view of themselves. This is not healthy self-esteem, however, for what happens the first time they bump up against something that doesn’t come easily, against something that takes a little perseverance before they’ll see success?

Do they have the inner resources to say, “This isn’t easy, but I know I can do it, a bit at a time?” Or are they more likely to say, “This is stupid!” and drop it, or blame the teacher for being boring, or declare the task irrelevant? Or, when they’re older and faced with a task they can’t drop, are they more likely to say, “I’m a failure!”?

It’s true. Over-praise a child, wilt in awe at their every burp and hiccup, and you actually undermine the development of their self-esteem.

I’d planned on more, but the tots will be through the door any second, and I want to get this posted today. Chew on that idea for now, let me know what you think, and be sure we’ll be back for more!

September 24, 2008 Posted by | books, controversy, Developmental stuff, health and safety, individuality, parenting, socializing | , , , , | 11 Comments

It must be PMS

Three three-year-olds sit in my front hall, each working hard to put their shoes on.

“Anna, lovie, you have that on the wrong foot. Put it on the other one.”
She takes it off one foot, holds up the other.
“This one?”

You know, normally this is cute.

“Timmy, that’s the wrong foot. Other foot!”
“This one?”

Normally, that’s pretty funny.

“Emily, why did you take it off? You had it on the right foot. Now you have to put it back on the other foot.”
“This one?”

Normally I find this goofily sweet. Today?

Today I do NOT say,

“Oh, for the love of all that’s holy! You only have two feet. Which “other” could it be? DUH.”

I do not say it, because I am a True Professional. I do not say it, but I think it. Because I’m human.

September 23, 2008 Posted by | the dark side, the things they say!, Uncategorized | , , , | 7 Comments

Cutest thing I’ve heard yet today

“Mary, I have the hickuh-puppies.”

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Emily, the things they say! | , , | 3 Comments

Industrious toddler-ness

… wears a tutu. Of course.

September 19, 2008 Posted by | Anna, the cuteness! | | Leave a comment

She has her uses

You know, I sweep a whole lot less than I used to these days.

Lunchtime! See the patient doggy-vacuum. “It falls on the floor, it’s mine!”

Oops! Emergency clean-up, Aisle Two!

But pro-active tray cleaning is NOT allowed!
(Look at her, checking to see if she can get away with what she has in mind…)

September 18, 2008 Posted by | socializing, the dog | , , , | 7 Comments

Out of the Mouths of Toddlers

This is what passes for chit-chat around here…

“Anna, Anna, you’re not listening to me. I climbed the rainbow!”
“I climbed the rainbow and I tumbled down and I cried.”
“I’m a boy.” [Timmy said that. He’d be right.]
“I’m a girl. Sometimes I be Charlie when I’m a boy, and sometimes I be Lola. And sometimes you be Charlie.”
“And sometimes I be in a river and I go underwater.”
“And sometimes you pop up.”
“I went to a circus-festival, and it had happy carrots in it, with controls and I didn’t like it. I just liked the carrot ones.”
(The above was all one conversation, diligently transcribed verbatim. There were no pauses when the conversation did a 180 into sur-reality, just one steady stream of chatter.)

While eating lunch:
“I’m a cucumber baby.”
“I’m a mummy.”
“Awww, my baaybeee. Mwah!”
“Baby, be careful on the swing! Be careful on the swing, says mummy!”
“Look, I’m a half-moon!”
(Guess what our vegetable was?)

“Ha! You have a stinky-bum. You’re stinky!”
“I’m not stinky!”
“But your bum is stinky.”
“I’m not stinky.”
“I smell your bum.”
“I have a poop in me, and it will come out soon.”
“I needa go pee.”
“I need to go, too.”

Which, of course, leads to a conversation about undergarments.
“I have unnerwears.”
“No, you have panties.”
“I have unnerwears and that is panties, too.”
“I have tighty-whiteys.”
“And tighty-whiteys is unnerwear for boys.”

And, staring into the potty, after their mission is accomplished:
“Look! You made a rainbow!”
(Who couldn’t check, after that? No disgusting myriad of colour, thank heavens, just a tidy, reeking curve. But of course! Anyone who sees an arc of sh poo immediately thinks of the beauteous wash of glowing colour that is ‘rainbow’…)

“Glory to the newborn king. Born the new king at the whole world. AH-men!”
“Helpful your newborn king is very better and flatter.”

September 17, 2008 Posted by | random and odd, the things they say! | , | 7 Comments