Archives for February 2013

Nanny and Babysitter Must-Haves

There are some things you need to be a successful nanny and/or babysitter. Some things are obvious – like a love for children, while some aren’t things you would think about right away. Here’s a list I’ve compiled when people ask me what they need to look for in a nanny or babysitter. I’ve tailored it to more of a “what should I have?” perspective.
1) A love for and understanding of children. However obvious this might be, you’d be surprised at some of the horror stories I’ve heard from parents. You truly need to love and understand children. They are not little adults. They should not be treated as such.
2) First aid and CPR certification. Don’t rely on calling 911 and having them tell you what to do. What happens if that little 9 month old starts choking in their high chair? Are you going to go running around looking for a phone, dial 911, give them your address, and then wait for them to relay directions to you all while that poor baby is going without oxygen? No. You need to know how to react and get what they’re choking on out of their airway immediately. Note: For infants and children (0-8 years old), if you know CPR and you are alone with the child, you are supposed to complete two minutes worth of compressions/breaths and then call 911. For adults if you are alone, you call 911 first and then start CPR. In both cases, if someone is with you, have them call 911 while you begin CPR. source #1 source #2 source #3
3) This one goes with the must-have above. You need a calm demeanor when handling stressful situations. The child you are watching doesn’t want you freaking out when you see blood dribbling out of their mouth after they fall. They need you to be able to remain calm, fix their boo boo, and soothe them. Ever heard that a child, especially a baby, can tell when you’re upset? It’s true. Many times I’ve found my blood pressure rising as a baby screams and fights sleep in my arms. After simply closing my eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and relaxing, it’s amazing how fast they fall asleep!
4) Availability. I’m not saying you need to devote every single night and weekend to babysitting. However if a parent calls and asks if you can watch their child, and your answer is consistently “no”, they will stop calling. If I can’t watch a child when a parent asks because I already have plans, I like to at least offer them another day where I can. If you’re a nanny, more than likely you’ll have a regular schedule that’s worked out between you and the child’s parents. {Having a planner definitely helps keep track of what and when you’re doing something so you don’t over book yourself. I highly recommend Erin Condren Planners. Pricey, but oh so worth it!}
5) Ideas. As an adult, you would still want to be able to get out and do things or at least break up the monotony of every day. I mean, you at least get to go to work, school, the store, and explore other things besides your house right? You wouldn’t want to be trapped inside all day playing with and doing the same things over and over and over. The same goes for a child. So, as a nanny (or babysitter), you need to be able to provide the children you watch with different experiences to create learning opportunities, help curb boredom, and to just allow the child some fun! Have a list (mental or written down) of ideas you can do with the children you watch. I know somewhere where there’s tons of ideas. Hint – it’s my blog 😉

Aly

5 for Five {Week of 2/25/13}

Happy Monday!! Here’s my 5 for Five link up with Jessica and Jenn!
FantasticallyAverage

My goals for last week –

1. Get my dog better. Check out this post to see the root of his problems. {I feel like it’s always 2 steps forward, one step backwards with this. He was doing better, then starting yelping again. It’s been a day since we heard a yelp, so here’s to hoping! Half credit for this one.}

2. Write out a meal plan and shopping list for next week. {Done!}

3. Get the next few weeks blog posts at least planned out, if not scheduled. {Boom. Done. Up until mid March I have blog posts written down in my planner. Plus, Wednesday and Friday’s posts are all written out already and scheduled to post!} 

4. Put together and complete a sensory experience for the girls. {Done! See this post!}

5. Create a list of activities and experiences I can give the girls. {Done!}

4.5 out of 5 this week. I was on a roll!

My goals for this week –

1. Finish the massive amounts of laundry I have to do. I was on a roll with this and then apparently my washer went off balance so the entire time I thought it was washing, it wasn’t. The washer had stopped itself. So this put me a good 45 minutes behind. Which in the long run, ended up putting me about 2 loads behind where I wanted to be by the end of the weekend.

2. Find things for the girls and I to do this weekend. Their mom and dad are going out of town this weekend, so I get lots of time with them. I love it! We have so much fun. 

3. Go grocery shopping. Seriously, I haven’t done a “real” grocery store trip in probably two months. It’s kind of sad really…

4. Massive organization/donation of the “stuff” that’s collected in my bedroom. 

5. Shave my dogs. I feel so awkward when I say that, like it’s such a weird thing to say. My dogs are long-haired (they’re shih-tzu mixes) so they have to get hair cuts regularly. I usually let their hair grow out over the winter but now that we’re creeping up on spring, it’s time to give them their short hair cuts. 

What are your goals?


Aly

Colored Pasta

This was such a fun activity for the girls and pretty simple for me too! I’ll give you the instructions on coloring the pasta first –
1) Cook your pasta according to directions, then strain and give a rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. {I used an entire box for two kids, but probably could have used less}
2) Gather enough ziplock bags for as many colors as you want to make.
3) Add food coloring to the bags {I did about 15-20 drops per color, even if I mixed two colors I still used 15-20 drops of each color}
4) Add about a tablespoon of water to each bag
5) Add pasta to each bag {I tried to keep equal portions in each bag}
6) Close and shake each bag until the pasta is fully coated. Let sit for about 5 minutes.
7) Rinse in strainer until no color is coming off pasta. 
8) This is where I got a little OCD and dried my pasta before putting it back in the bags. Next time I’ll add a tiny bit of oil to it instead.
9) Play!
Super simple. Making 6 colors took me about 20-30 minutes tops including cooking time. {Note: to save time, mix bags of color while pasta cooks!}
At first they were slightly hesitant about pulling the pasta out and playing with it. They’d pull some and then drop it back in. So, I took the entire {huge} bowl and dumped it onto the ground. We used our picnic blanket/tarp/floor protector that we got from Babies R Us so I wasn’t worried about any staining or damaging the carpet. Once I dumped it, the real fun began.
As they played, we talked about how it was sticky, what each color was, how some pieces were long and some were short, how many colors there were, how it was squishy, etc. I also encouraged them to use not just their hands, but their feet as well!
They really enjoyed playing with the pasta and it took up a good solid half hour to 45 minutes of our day. Next time, I’ll be sure to add some oil so it’s not sticky again (then we can talk about how it’s slippery) and I’d love to see how neon food coloring works out too. We will definitely be doing this activity again!

Aly

5 for Five {Week of 2/18/13}

It’s Monday, which means it’s time once again for 5 for Five with Jessica and Jenn!
FantasticallyAverage

These were my goals for last week –
1. Get my dog better! {Ugh. My poor boy. He was doing much better up until Friday afternoon. Then all of a sudden he began screaming (yelping repeatedly) in pain and couldn’t get comfortable enough to lay down or really do anything other than freeze up in pain. He did it again on Saturday too. So, now he’s on a 4th medication, with another vet visit planned for this afternoon. I am so grateful that I have family that is able to care for him when I’m not able to be home, and luckily also able to take him to the vet today. We have essentially one other option as far as medication goes, and beyond that, if medication isn’t working, I’m looking at around a $6,500 surgery that might fix the problem. Yikes.}

2. Continue to drink more water. {I have been doing awesome with this. I’m still drinking soda, but I’ve finally gotten to where it’s equal amounts of soda and water during the day}


3. Write out a meal plan and shopping list for next week. {Can I get half credit for this? I literally made half a meal plan and half a shopping list. With any luck though it will be finished tonight}


4. Do a major clean out, organization of my laundry and just general “stuff” in my bedroom. {Fail. Some laundry done, but that’s about it.}


5. Remake my budget. {Didn’t do this either. I think this one is just going to have to get bumped off my list of goals until my dog is better and we have no more surprise vet visits in the near future.}

My goals for this week – 

1. Get my dog better. Check out this post to see the root of his problems.

2. Write out a meal plan and shopping list for next week. I need to get on top of my diet again. I’ve been letting it slip. I’m hoping that making a few weeks of meal plans and shopping lists (and putting them to good use) lets me accomplish this.

3. Get the next few weeks blog posts at least planned out, if not scheduled. 

4. Put together and complete a sensory experience for the girls. 

5. Create a list of activities and experiences I can give the girls.


Tell me your goals and plans for the week ahead!


Aly

New Blog Design

If you’re a previous visitor to my blog, you probably notice that I have a new blog design! It was created by The Posh Box. If you are thinking about a new design for your blog, please go check Pamela out! She is an absolute pleasure to work with, not once being anything but cheerful in response to the outrageous number of emails I sent her. Her prices are reasonable and she is amazing at what she does!

Aly

Eggs!

I know it’s a little early since it’s not close to Easter yet, but recently I took the girls to the store and we picked up some plastic eggs. After that day’s nap, I brought out the eggs and two plastic bowls for the girls to play with. I decided to actually time this activity to see exactly how long it lasted. I gave the girls the eggs and bowls at exactly 3:38. I left a few minutes after 5:00, and they were still playing with them. Other than a 3 minute chase game and a 5 minute diaper change, they played with the eggs for the entire {almost} hour and a half. I tried to see if they were still as interested the next week, and while I still got a good 20 minutes of devoted interest from them, it wasn’t close to the hour and a half. Still a good activity either way.
I highly recommend the dollar store eggs as just regular play eggs since they’re cheaply made and so they can be squeezed and popped open. This was M’s primary objective the entire time she played. She’d take one egg out of a bowl at a time, squeeze it until it popped open, put it in the other bowl, and then get another egg. There was a lot of concentration and determination involved in this, and you could see she was quite proud of herself each time the egg popped open. Once the girls are older and aren’t putting just about everything in their mouths anymore, I’ll purchase eggs from somewhere else – ones that are a bit sturdier and don’t pop open as easily, and fill them with different things so the girls can shake them up and hear the different sounds.
They also loved the typical smacking them together, dumping the bowls out, filling them back up, etc. This activity cost me a dollar. Okay, $1.06 if you include tax. Not bad for multiple uses. Plus when we’re ready to be done with them I have another idea up my sleeve of something we can do with them.


Aly

Love Canvas – Valentine’s Day Craft

As our Valentine’s Day craft this year, the girls and I painted a canvas pink. [source] First though, I used masking tape and taped off the word “love”. I got our picnic blanket/carpet protector and spread it on the floor.We have used this one from Babies R Us multiple times and for multiple things and we love it!
I tried to find it on the Babies R Us website, but they don’t have it listed, so I’m not sure if it’s still available. If you’re looking for a multipurpose cover, I highly recommend this, so check your local Babies R Us! It’s not padded at all, but it’s huge, machine washable (line dry), and has weighted corners. Plus it was cheap. I think I got ours for under $10! [image source]
After I moved all toys away from the edges of the floor covering (I didn’t want little paint covered hands able to reach anything!) I stripped the girls down, mixed up some pink finger paint, spooned it onto the canvas, and let the girls go for it.
They had a blast and loved spreading the paint on something other than paper. The canvas was such a good idea. It can be hung if the girls’ parents desire, and I wasn’t worried about it getting ripped by the force with which the girls were painting.
By the time the majority of the canvas was pink and the girls decided they were done, they were covered in pink! M at one point used her feet to paint and slid across the canvas, E used her knees. Both had it covering both arms – shoulders to fingertips! I had wipes close by (If we were closer to a tub or sink I probably would have given each of them a quick rinse off) and wiped down each girl to get the paint off. After waiting a few minutes, I peeled the tape off and in the end, this was our final result!
Happy Valentines Day!

Aly

5 for Five {Week of 2/11/13}

Happy Monday! It’s time for 5 for Five!

FantasticallyAverage


Here were my goals for last week, and how I did with them:

1. Take lots of pictures and fully enjoy myself tomorrow celebrating the Ravens Superbowl win at the parade and stadium party (no guilt for being off work! Everyone needs a break sometimes) {This day is probably in my top 5 list of best days of my life. I’ll spare you the long version but basically I ended up shaking hands with a ton of my favorite Ravens players, got amazing pictures, one of the players sang to my little group/area of people, and I just had so much fun. Definitely met this goal}

2. Create or find an art project to do with the girls {I’ll call this half done… The girls did some coloring but it wasn’t a “real” or different art project. Kinda boring, but still technically art}

3. Get a normal amount of sleep each night. 5 hours a night is just not enough. Between seven and eight hours should allow me to focus better, increase reaction time, etc. {At least that’s what the studies say anyway} {Monday and Tuesday I did well with this, but after that my dog got sick/hurt so I’ve been worried about him so I haven’t slept well at all}

4. Drink more water. I seriously barely drink any water during the day. I used to strictly drink only water but not anymore. I have to improve this. {I did relatively well with this goal. I drank way more water than I usually do but there’s still room for improvement}

5. Remake my budget. Between one of my dogs’ pet ER visit two weeks ago and my other dog’s tonight (they’re both fine- just need meds and rest) my budget was destroyed. Time to fix that! {This was a big fat FAIL. Turns out my dog was not fine – more on that below – and needed another vet visit. This messed it up even more and I never got around to remaking my budget}

My goals for this week:

1. Get my dog better! Poor boy ruptured a disc in his back, the stuff that came out had calcified, and was pressing up against his actual spinal cord.. all the nerves that control his body. At the (2nd) vet visit, our vet said she didn’t understand why he wasn’t showing neurological symptoms (meaning she didn’t understand why he wasn’t paralyzed since the compression of his spinal cord was so extreme). He didn’t eat for 4 days until he finally ate Saturday night. He’s FINALLY showing some small itty bitty signs of improvement. But hey, I’ll take those over no improvement any day. He’s on 3 different medicines 3 times a day, and can’t jump on laps or furniture, go up or down any stairs, and really do anything more than a slow walk to the next room and back. I feel so awful for him.

2. Continue to drink more water.

3. Write out a meal plan and shopping list for next week.

4. Do a major clean out, organization of my laundry and just general “stuff” in my bedroom. I’m trying to use up all my products since I just seem to have so much of everything. I’m trying to get back to basics in a way.

5. Remake my budget.

    What are your goals for this week?

    Aly

    5 for Five {Week of 2/4/13}

    Here’s a link-up that I found through my friend Elise. I love this idea. Something about putting your goals out there for the world to see just makes you want to achieve them that much more. At least for me anyway. So this link up is called 5 For Five.
    FantasticallyAverage
    It’s pretty easy and simple:

    1. Set 5 goals that you want to accomplish over the next 5 days of the work-week.
    2. Share your goals with all of Blogland.
    3. Power through this list during the week.
    4. Come back the next week to share how you did.
    5. Set more goals for yourself, and repeat.

      With that, here are my goals for this week.

      1. Take lots of pictures and fully enjoy myself tomorrow celebrating the Ravens Superbowl win at the parade and stadium party (no guilt for being off work! Everyone needs a break sometimes)

      2. Create or find an art project to do with the girls

      3. Get a normal amount of sleep each night. 5 hours a night is just not enough. Between seven and eight hours should allow me to focus better, increase reaction time, etc. {At least that’s what the studies say anyway}

      4. Drink more water. I seriously barely drink any water during the day. I used to strictly drink only water but not anymore. I have to improve this.

      5. Remake my budget. Between one of my dogs’ pet ER visit two weeks ago and my other dog’s tonight (they’re both fine- just need meds and rest) my budget was destroyed. Time to fix that!


      Aly