Goodbyes are so hard.

I’ve been with “my” girls since they were itty bitty, teensy tiny little 3 month olds. Basically just little eating, sleeping, and pooping blobs of cuteness. I’ve watched them hit each of their milestones – first time sitting up, first crawl, first steps, first words, etc. I’ve been there to kiss their boo-boos, hold their hands as they toddled around unable to walk on their own, and to clap the loudest as they mastered things they’d been working on for weeks.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. After 4 wonderful years, my job with the girls is coming to a close. Their mom’s job is changing so she’ll be able to be home with them and they’ll be starting preschool in the fall. It’s one of those things that as a nanny you know is inevitable. You know the entire time you’re working with them that they aren’t your kids, and while you’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in their daily lives for a few years, it’s going to come to an end at some point. Of course that doesn’t make the goodbye any easier. They say it’s a grieving process. I’d definitely agree with that.

When you’re in a child’s life almost daily for so long, especially from infancy, you form a strong bond with them. You can’t help it. That bond is something extremely important in their development. But it also makes moving on that much harder.

I’ve had just about every worry and thought pass through my mind about not seeing them every day. Ranging from “will they forget me?” to “will I love my next kids as much as I love them?” I know I will, but I still can’t help but think that. My first thought was “I don’t want them to think I abandoned them.” Realistically, I know they won’t. We’ve talked about it every day since the decision was made. We’ve talked about how I’ll always be their nanny, but I’m going to take care of other kids now. M doesn’t want to hear that I have interviews or that I have to go talk to someone about taking care of their babies and I get that. But I also think it’s important to keep them aware of what’s happening so it doesn’t seem like it snuck up on them. I want them to be prepared for it.

It’s definitely going to be a transition period, for them and for me. Its going to be extremely hard not seeing them everyday and I’m going to miss our conversations and their laughter the most. I’ll still be in their life and plan on having special dates with them where we go do something extra fun, but man, it’s going to be tough.

I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day that I’ve woken up and said “I don’t want to go to work” in the past 4 years. I think that’s pretty special. I’ve truly been incredibly lucky and blessed to have had this job and for so long.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”


Aly

Another Summer has come and gone

I know, I know. I’ve been terrible at updating this!

We’ve been doing plenty of things around here though. Summer had me pretty busy including lots of time spent with all 4 kids (and thus switching up houses and normal routines) while J and Z’s daycare/school was closed. We did lots of water play, walks, My Gym classes, a trip to the state fair, art, and a lot of our concentration was on practicing writing letters and even delving into beginning to read. The girls are now writing all their letters with minimal help (at 3 1/2!) and writing some words on their own. Wahoo! More on that later though!

Hopefully I’ll find some time soon to get more of our projects up here!


Aly

What We’ve Been Up To

I realized that I haven’t done a real “what we’ve been doing” kind of post up since mid-October. So, without further ado, here’s what the girls and I have been up to!

Let’s start with the end of October and November. These were some of our fall activities!

Fall wreaths. Dirt pudding. Thanksgiving “thankful turkeys”. Pine cone bird feeders.

Next up is December. These are some of our Christmas activities. We spent a good portion of December at my other nanny family’s house since his school was closed for the holiday, so we didn’t do as many arts and crafts things as we typically do, and somehow I didn’t take as many pictures of what we did do as I usually do.

Gingerbread house. Christmas presents for their parents.

Here’s some of the other activities we’ve done to keep us busy during the brutally cold days we’ve had.

Baking soda and vinegar science project. Bounce house. Kinetic sand. Microwave play dough. Making snow in our sensory bin.

I try to do one outing or one bigger project (art, science, working on math, writing, etc) each day. We still don’t watch TV or have any screen time (with the exception of the very few sick days, and even then it’s limited to one show). Occasionally, I let the girls have more of a free play type day where I don’t necessarily structure something, but we still have a schedule we follow which I’ll elaborate on in another post.


Aly

What We’ve Been Up To

It’s been a frigid winter here in the East, with temperatures dropping into single digits and bonus below 0 wind chills But that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying a lot of activities. Here’s a small sampling of a few of our days!


Playing with snow. Watercolor painting. Mixing paint colors to paint butterflies.


Matching play food to pictures of real food. Making coffee filter snowflakes.


My Gym. Painting Christmas cards. Working on letter recognition (upper and lower case).


Aly

Biting

The dreaded biting. It tends to be something that seems so horrifying and so primitive. But it’s actually relatively common and normal. In all the years I was in daycare, I saw my fair share of biters. Some worse than others, some doing it once and being done with it, and some doing it for weeks or months before finally stopping.

Let’s first talk about why toddlers bite. There can be several reasons. These are the main ones.
Attention. The child sees that if they bite they get more attention.

They’re in pain. A lot of times, it just feels good to them to bite down on something as their teeth come in. Unfortunately, that something could be another child’s arm.

Frustration/Defensive. A lot of toddlers don’t have a large vocabulary. So when another child comes along and takes their toy, they aren’t able to say “hey! I’m playing with that!” Instead they chomp down and that usually makes the other child drop the toy and run off crying. Or perhaps another child comes over and pushes them. The biter bites, and the other child stops and cries. You know what? The biter got exactly what they wanted – the toy back and no pushing. This can be one of the hardest ones to stop because to the biter, biting gets “positive” reinforcement from the other child!

Half the battle is figuring out why they’re doing it. The other half is figuring out how to stop it.

If your child is biting for attention, it’s very important to make sure you are showing the child who got bit attention first, as well as giving them more attention. Pick them up, love on them, kiss their boo boo. All before talking to the biter. When the biter is playing appropriately, be sure to give them lots of attention (not bringing up biting while doing so).

If your child is biting because they’re in pain, give them appropriate things that they can chew or bite on (a teether , frozen washcloth, frozen pacifier). They even make teethers specifically to alleviate molar pain. Be sure to tell them they need to bite on this if their teeth hurt. Don’t assume they just know. “If your teeth hurt, bite on this teether. It will make you feel better.” If need be, give them Orajel or Teething Tablets.

If your child is biting out of frustration or being defensive, work on words with them. Not just immediately following the bite, but throughout the day as well. Talk to them more often than not. Build their vocabulary as a whole, not just pertaining to biting. The more words they have, the better. When they bite, be sure to remind them to use words instead and give them clear examples – “We don’t bite. We say “It’s my turn right now.” Also encourage them to get an adults help instead of solving their problem themselves. Would you rather be “interrupted” a billion times a day or deal with biting frequently throughout the day? It’s also important to shadow them for a few days as much as you can. It’s much better to prevent biting from happening than it is to try to fix it after it happens. If you see your child getting frustrated, you can intervene and help them solve the problem before it escalates to biting. “I see that Billy is trying to take your truck. Let’s tell him that you are playing with it right now. Say ‘Billy, it’s my turn right now.’ Let’s also make sure he knows we’ll give it to him when we’re done. Say ‘I’ll give it to you when I’m done.'” You could even model appropriate reactions for them. Grab another adult and role play. Have the other adult take something you have. Use words to get it back. The more examples of appropriate reactions they see, the better.

One thing not to do is bite back. This is controversial, with some people saying it’s the magic solution for solving biting problems. I just don’t get it. To me it’s hypocritical. Children learn by example. If you’re trying to teach a child that biting is not okay to do, and you bite them, what is that showing them?

Typically, biting stops by 3 or so years old. It’s always good to keep your pediatrician in the loop on issues like these, but especially if they continue beyond 3 years old.

If your child does start biting, just try to remember that it is normal, and many children go through this stage. Stay positive!


Aly

Wishes are Granted!

Apparently, my wish from my last post was granted. After a rough weekend for the girls’ parents where M started climbing out of her crib, her crib had to be converted to a bed. At the same time, I bumped up their nap from around 2pm to 1:15. All of a sudden she was taking awesome naps, and after a few days or so, E started to as well. E’s crib is now converted to a bed as well. They sleep in their beds at night, but they’re still separated for nap, with M in her bed and E in a pack and play on the lower level with me. At least until they get back into the habit of sleeping through both the night and at nap for at least a solid week or so. Then I’ll make the transition of both napping in their beds.

I have a feeling E will be the more difficult one for this. She is a very determined child. She knows exactly what she wants and will do her best to get it. She tends to take longer to go to sleep for nap (has since she was an infant, fought it till she just couldn’t anymore), so it should be interesting with both of them in beds that they can easily get in and out of! Here’s to hoping it’s an easy transition when it does happen!


Aly

Two!

“My” babies aren’t babies anymore! They’re officially two! I can’t believe it. It’s crazy to look back at all the pictures and videos I have from their first year and even this past year, and then see them running and talking now. I love to just sit back sometimes and watch their little conversations. They’ve begun to play cooperatively sometimes, discussing what needs to happen and then working together and sharing things to make it happen.

Speaking of discussing, these girls continue to amaze me every day with their language abilities. They talk in complete sentences more often than not now. I’m talking 6 or 7 word sentences. It’s funny, sometimes they’ll ask for something without using a well-structured sentence “You wanna see elephant!” (We’re still working on using I instead of you, but they’re getting there). If it’s something they can’t have, and I tell them so, they’ll come out with “Can I see the elephant, please?” It’s hard to tell them no sometimes when they ask so politely!

E is still big into books. She’ll sit in front of the bookshelf and just pull one book out at time, turning the pages and “reading” each one. She’ll recite what she knows from memory for each page. She’s almost always 100% correct with what she’s saying too. She’ll do it with book after book after book. Every once in awhile she’ll bring one over for me to read to her but sometimes I get “Do it yourself!” (She means “Do it myself”) if I ask if I can read to her. She’s miss independent, but she’s also sensitive. M will fall down and get right back up, whereas E needs some love and kissed boo boos even if she didn’t actually hurt anything. I don’t mind at all. I’ll happily give out hugs and kisses as long as I can get them!

M is still super physical. That girl loves going to My Gym. Every time we pull up all I hear are shrieks of excitement from her. She loves when she gets to be with one of the teachers and be the example of the skill they learn each class at circle time. She’s also big into music and singing. Both girls can identify almost any children’s song if you hum it. M sings often throughout the day. She can really carry a tune! She’s constantly asking me to sing different songs to her, even if it’s one I just made up. Let me tell you, some of those are a little difficult to remember when I make up a song one day and then randomly 2 weeks later she asks me to sing it!

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings us and how the girls change and grow!


Aly

Fine Motor Skills

What are fine motor skills? Simply put, it’s the coordination involving the small muscles in your body – mainly in your fingers. These skills are the foundation of important things like general hand and finger dexterity and handwriting. Having good fine motor skills is extremely important in the early years, particularly in school. Since children will be doing many hands on activities, they need to be able to control their fingers and have good eye hand coordination. They also need to be able to write words, manipulate materials, and write numbers. These are also skills that will allow them to master other skills like the ones required for dressing themselves such as zippering, buttoning, tying shoes, and so on.

There are many ways you can create opportunities for children to strengthen these small muscles and improve their fine motor skills. Here are a few –

  • Play with play dough. All that pulling, and shaping, and kneading of the dough helps strengthen their fingers.
  • Color with crayons or pencils. You need to allow your child to develop their grip and move those little muscles.
  • At a young age – usually between 7 and 11 months old (but only when they are ready for solid food) allow your child to self-feed small pieces of cut up soft food. This allows your child to develop their precise pincer grasp (a part of fine motor skills), which is the coordination between the pointer finger and thumb to manipulate objects, pick up things, and use crayons and pencils correctly.
  • Let them practice opening and closing clothespins onto different objects – pom poms, the edges of boxes, etc.
  • Give them tongs or dull tweezers to pick up small objects such as pom poms.
  • Have them insert q tips into a container with a lid that has holes cut into the top.

{Clearly, use your own discretion with these activities. Keep a very close eye on your child to be sure no small non-food items are put in their mouth.}


Aly

Switching to WordPress!

A few things might be a little wonky as far as this blog goes for the next few weeks. I’m in the process of getting things transferred over to WordPress, and being self-hosted instead of being hosted by Blogger. Nothing against blogger, I’ve loved using it, but I want more customization and I’m also switching for content ownership reasons (yes, you own your content on blogger, but here is a great example of what I’m talking about). Basically, when I switch to self-hosted WordPress, I, 100 million percent, own my own content. No one has the ability to do anything with it except me, and that’s important to me. It is my work after all.

It will also let me get back into the world a little bit of HTML and such. I know the basics and maybe a little more (way back in the day I had another blog and did all the HTML coding and such for it) and it will be nice to play around and see what I can remember.

That said, I’m excited to use my amazing blog designer again to create an all new blog design for my “new” website.

So please forgive any glitches or weird happenings you see occurring over the next few weeks while the switching over process happens. Thanks for your patience!

Aly

Halloween Art

This past week we’ve been battling a cold. Luckily neither of the girls got fevers or were miserable (with the exception of one grumpy day that an early & longer nap fixed!), but we went through SO many tissues it was unreal! We spent a lot of the week inside, trying to take it easy and let them get better. On top of some potty learning happening (M is kicking butt at it! E is on her way too, M just wants to be on the potty all day while E is much too busy doing other things!) we did a few art projects.

First up was a pretty simple, spur of the moment activity. I gave the girls each black construction paper and let them paint with white using a paint brush. Once they dried, I let the girls each choose googly eyes and then I glued them on. Voila, you have ghosts!

Later in the week we made watercolor pumpkins. I recently picked up a basic watercolor paint palette for each of the girls. They loved it and made some beautiful artwork using it. I wanted to do another project with watercolors, but needed to limit them to one color. Instead of cutting up their watercolor palettes and just giving them the orange, I picked up watercolor brushes from Lakeshore.

I flattened a coffee filter for each of the girls and (one at a time) gave them the orange watercolor brush. They took their time and painted the coffee filters.

Once they decided they were done with the watercolor, I gave them each a wet foam brush. They used this to help spread out the watercolor paint a bit more.

I let them dry, cut out a stem and glued it on, and then let that glue dry. Now they have a cute little watercolor pumpkin!


Aly