The little Philanthropist

IN TODAY’S AGE OF…

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“AND I WANT A BUNCH OF IT!”

Let us explore children’s birthdays:

When I was a child, birthdays were a fun-filled, family event.

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You could count on a delicious cake, handmade with love.

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And a nifty present or two.

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Well, in case it’s been a while since you’ve attended a good, old fashion children’s birthday party…

things have changed just a bit.

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Nifty gifts have changed just a bit…

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And that handmade cake...FUHGEDDABOUDIT!!!

Get yourself on Pinterest baby, because this is what is expected of you today!

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But…every once in a blue moon, someone different appears out of nowhere, reminding us all of what is really important…other than chocolate, that is.

MEET SARA HAYS:  THE LITTLE PHILANTHROPIST

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Name:  Sara Hays

Age:  9

Home State:  Georgia

Interests:  Sara Hays is an extremely active girl.  She loves to play soccer, jump on the trampoline, do gymnastics, swim and ride horses.  She’s also a very social and well-rounded young lady.  She grew tomatoes and peppers in her own garden this summer.  She enjoys playing the piano, having tea parties, playing with her American Girl Dolls, and being active in her Church.  It should, however, be noted that she does not like to clean her room.

I caught wind that Sara Hays was planning something a little different for her 9th birthday on Facebook.  Sara Hays and her big brother, Jackson (age  11), were planning to run a 5k called “Race for the Orphans.”

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Instead of birthday presents, she was asking friends and family to donate money to the cause.  Sara Hays’s family said the idea was her own…which really left me wondering:

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Seriously???  A nine year-old who would rather raise money for orphans than receive birthday presents?  And this was her own idea?  How could this be?  I had to find out more.  So I dug a bit.  What exactly IS “Race for the Orphans?”  This is what I discovered:


RACE FOR THE ORPHANS 5K

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More than 360 runners and walkers participated in the inaugural RACE for the Orphans in 2013, an event that successfully helped raise necessary funds to bring a little girl from China home to her Newnan, Georgia family. The ongoing mission of RACE for the Orphans is Raising Awareness, Compassion, and Education about the needs of orphans around the world.  Each annual event is a fundraiser to help other local families who also have a heart to adopt and love an orphan.  The RACE atmosphere provides an exciting and family-friendly time of healthy competition. More importantly, though, the adoption momentum grows when a community comes together for the united objective of helping to reduce the world’s 150+ million orphan population…even if by just one child at a time.

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INTERVIEW WITH SARA HAYS AND JACKSON
NANNY:  “How did you first hear about this event?”
SARA HAYS:  “My mommy took pictures for it the past few years.
NANNY:  “What gave you the idea to do this?”
SARA HAYS:  “I saw some other kids donate money to an animal shelter at their birthday parties.”
NANNY:  “Why do you feel like this is an important thing to do?”
SARA HAYS:  “Because I love kids, and this will help someone to adopt a kid.”
JACKSON:  “This money will help little kids find a home.”
NANNY:  “You two had to run a long way for this event.  Did you have to train or anything?”
SARA HAYS:  “I used an App called  “Couch to 5k” that trains a person gradually, week by week.”
JACKSON:   “I actually found the app on the iPhone.”
NANNY:  “Was running the race harder than you thought it would be?”
SARA HAYS:   “It was harder than I thought it was going to be.  Way longer.”
JACKSON:  “It was a good time of year to do the race . . . not too hot, but not cold either.”
NANNY:  “How did it feel when you finished?”
SARA HAYS:  “It felt really, really good.”
JACKSON:  “Sara Hays might be an inspiration to me to donate my birthday money this coming December.”
NANNY:  “When your birthday was over, did you feel sad at all that you had given away your birthday money?”
SARA HAYS:  “NO!  It feels good to give to other people.”
NANNY:  “What would you say to other kids about choosing to do something different on their birthdays or for Christmas?”
SARA HAYS:  “It’s a good thing to do because there are so many good causes needing money.”
NANNY:  “Is there anything else you would like to say about the event?”
JACKSON:  “We know a family that actually benefitted from this money.   This family has inspired their friends and fellow church members to participate in this event.  It has become an annual event and gets bigger every year.   There were over 450 participants this year with many being children along with their parents.”
So…Children giving for the sake of giving…could this could catch on?
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TAKE THE SARA HAYS AND JACKSON CHALLENGE!!!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Read this post to your children and discuss creative ways that they can give to others.
Email me pictures and stories that I can post, as your children work to become a
generation of more grateful and generous people.
 erkenly@gmail.com

Then who knows?  Perhaps the world will be a better place…
One child at a time.

Chuck e Cheese – Where a Kid Can Be a Kid…and a Parent Can Be in Hell!

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I hadn’t patronized one of these exhilarating establishments in the past 10 years…until yesterday, when a group of parents and I had the bright idea to take nine, end-of-summer crazed preschoolers.  The next bit of dim-wittedness that somehow emerged from the minds of the adults, was for each of us to use a coupon to purchase 100 game tokens for a mere $20…might as well get a good deal while you are there, right?

It was about two hours later that I decided the air must be slightly spiked with nitrous oxide, otherwise there would be no way four intelligent women would purchase 100 game tokens each, knowing that preschoolers not only need assistance at every game, but take twice as long playing them.

There are a few other exciting things that occur while visiting this enchanting joint.

– A giant rat will appear at some point during your visit, causing some children to scream uncontrollably.

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– There will be actual extreme toddler cage fighting…without the cage.

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– The pizza will be extra greasy and cold, although your children will devour it as though you have not fed them in three days.

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– The salad bar resembles a high school science project, and should be renamed:  Hepatitis Bar.

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– Someone in your group will likely throw-up.  The longer you stay…the higher the likelihood.

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– Adults exit with a migraine, and a heightened risk of seizure activity, looking something like this:

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– Children exit jacked-up on high fructose corn syrup and adrenalin, looking something like this:

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Well fear not Chuck e Cheese, for I have a plan.  Kids can still be kids…but parents no longer have to be suicidal.  A few simple changes and we are on our way to peace and harmony for young and old alike.  Let me introduce my brilliant plan in hopes that someone in the upper echelon of the Chuck e Cheese Corporation catches wind and wants to hire me on the spot for my boundless gift.

Chuck e Cheese, Gourmet Coffee, Wine and Pasta Bar:  where a kid can be a kid and a parent can be blissful

How it works:

Staffing:  This establishment should hire one referee per 15 square feet.  These persons should appear slightly intimidating and should be paid on a commission basis per fight intervention in order to maintain high motivation.

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A nurse should be on staff to care for the injured.  Ten teenagers should be hired to assist younger children with game playing.  The teens are to be paid in pizza and iTunes cards.

The Adult Section:

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The Gourmet coffee, wine, pasta bar should be located on the same property, although in a separate room.  Parents should be able to see their children playing through a two-way mirror, although volume and lighting should be GREATLY reduced.  Each seat should be equipped with a microphone through which every parent would be able to yell at his/her child over a loud-speaker without leaving ones seated position.

Throw in some fancy coffee drinks, free wifi, comfy chairs, drinkable wine and I guarantee a full house.  I hate to be boastful ladies and gentlemen…but this idea is absolute genius!  Who’s with me?

End of the Innocence: The Children’s Disturbing Discovery of Mommy and Daddy’s Vibrating, Marital Enhancement Device


***DISCLAIMER***

In an attempt to prevent my current employers from entering a Witness Protection Program, let it be known that this post does not represent my present placement.  All names have been either omitted or changed to protect the innocent.  Attempts to uncover the the specific family by way of bribery will be highly frowned upon, unless or until the payoff exceeds my ten year salary amount…including bonuses.


I suppose something of this nature is bound to happen when one works for so many years in peoples’ private living spaces. One does their very best to avoid areas that might contain adult or intimate paraphernalia, such as unmarked boxes in the master bedroom, drawers or closets in the master bathroom and one of the most suspicious locations of all…bedside tables.

In general, I find that the “Don’t Peek, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy works pretty well under most circumstances. However…TODDLER’S HAPPEN…and when they “happen” there are a few things you can count on:

     1.  The result will not be pretty

     2.  There will be casualties

     3.  Clean-up and recovery will be long and arduous

The day begins innocently…almost too predictably.  I should be suspicious.  In this particular home, I have two charges, a three year-old precocious tomboy, and her 18 month-old, slobber covered brother.  We are settling into an after breakfast playdate with two neighborhood delinquents, ages three and four.  As usual, I am multi-tasking…folding clothes while watching the older children squabble over who gets to be Batman, and who has to endure the humiliation of being the scrawny sidekick, Robin.

There are three older children, one coveted Batman costume, one fairly acceptable Spiderman costume whose mask makes the younger sibling scream…added bonus.  Then there is the “dumb” Robin suit, who nobody wants to wear because “Robin doesn’t do anything cool.”  Due to the ongoing battle, there is a chart on the wall which indicates who wore which costume last.  One would think this is the type of forward thinking that would terminate a fray before it even gets started.  However, in toddler-land…one would be sorely mistaken.  The children are all shouting at once, sounding like a gaggle  of short, angry stock brokers.

My charge, the squatty, red-faced damsel in distress rushes me, until her nose is an inch away from my own.  “Nanny, it’s my turn to be Batman!”  She shouts.  “Clancy ALWAYS thinks it’s his turn, but it’s not!  I can remember whose turn it is to be Batman, cause I’m the biggest.  First it was Eddie’s turn, next it was Clancy’s, and now it’s mine.  I ALWAYS remember cause I’m the biggest!”

Having starred in this psycho-drama a hundred times, I sigh and rise calmly from the table where I am folding what seems to be a mountain of underwear and socks.  “Let’s all take a look at the chart and buy a vowel, shall we?”  I say, swishing dramatically toward the wall, doing my very best ‘Vanna White’ impression.  Three sets of watery eyes stare at me, while Eddie stuffs a finger as far up his nose as it will go.  They don’t get it…and it was a really good ‘Vanna White’, I must say.

At the chart, the three tots are jockeying for front row positions, but as usual, my charge makes sure she is front and center.  “It’s MY house, so I get to be in front!”  She shouts at the two cowering boys.

“Well Miss Sassy Pants!”  I announce.  “It seems as though you don’t ALWAYS remember whose turn it is to be Batman, because it’s not your turn.  It’s actually Eddie’s.”  Her face is frozen in utter shock.  “Oh, and by the way…you are a big girl, but Clancy is just a little bigger than you are right now.  So…how about it?  Think we can be a little nicer to our friends so they will want to come over and play with us again?”

Her bottom lip quivers.  Betrayed by her own Nanny.  Now she’s really mad.  “Come on!”  She commands, saving face.  “I want to play cars and trucks, not dumb ol’ Batman.  The two boys silently obey and follow the surly toddler down the hall.

Her perpetually slobber covered 18 month-old brother, who has been rummaging through the dress-up cabinet throughout this scene, emerges in what appears to be some sort of Ninja-Butterfly-Drag Queen outfit , and waddles down the hall to join the cheerful three, blowing bubbles in his own ooze.

I sit back down and continue to fold clothes where I have a full view of the hallway and bedrooms.  The children’s conversation turns from contentious to cooperative soon after the toys emerge, and peace reigns supreme.

There is nothing more satisfying than achieving a successful period of toddler play that is not interrupted by mental breakdown or bodily injury.  With the exception of the earlier emotional collapse, this playdate is a winner.  I can’t believe how much I am accomplishing and how happy everyone is.  Yet…as I am emptying the dishwasher, something begins to bother me…a slight buzzing noise in my ears.  It’s sporadic and annoying.  I shake my head, trying to make it go away, and then walk from room to room, in an attempt to locate the source.  Entering the master bedroom, I find the children in a circle on the floor, surrounded by cars and trucks.  My three-year old charge jumps to her feet, and holds an object up to my face for inspection.

“Look wat we found under Mommy and Daddy’s bed, Nanny!”  She shouts, as she thrusts a battery operated, intimate activity aide a little too close to my face for comfort.  I notice the buzzing has stopped.  “What is it?”  She asks.

Taking one small step backward, I stumble loudly into the bedroom door, holding tightly to the knob for support.  I hear myself trying to speak, but only a strange combination of bodily noises escape, as I clutch my chest…”Squeak, Grunt, Gasp…”  Someone grab the paddles, I may go down.

“It’s a hot dog.”  Says Clancy, ignoring my cardiac event.

“Why do Mommy and Daddy get to eat in their room and I don’t?”  Miss Large-and-in-Charge is mad again.

“I wonder if my Mommy and Daddy have one pink hot dog under their bed in case they get hungry at night?”  Eddie speculates thoughtfully.

“They musta already ate the bun.”  Clancy guess, as the grabs at the naughty item.

As the older children clamor for the pornographic accessory, the tiny motor roars to life once again, filling the large room with a mosquito-like buzzing.  They all stop and stare at the vibrating pink hot dog.

“See?”  Says my tyrannical charge, snatching the indecent object from the hands of her friend.  “I told you it wasn’t a hot dog.  Hot dogs don’t make that noise.  It’s a toy car, but it’s broke.  The wheels fell off.  I got lotsa cars that make noise like that.”

She tosses the kinky paraphernalia aside and it lands directly in front of the slime covered 18 month-old, who instantly picks it up, and as if in slow motion, opens his gaping maw in an attempt to do the unthinkable…the unfathomable.  For me, the world goes dark, with the exception of an X-rated car without wheels, slowly moving toward the face of an extremely sticky, oddly dressed cherub.

This cannot happen on my watch.  My myocardial infarction will have to wait.  Springing into action, I dive toward the toddler like a crazed Ninja-Nanny, flying through the air, screaming “NNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and manage to snatch the offensive object away from the tot’s mouth at the very last moment, making him cry hysterically.

“NANNY!”  Shouts the tot’s older sister in surprise, not having seen her chubby Nanny do a great many action movie stunts like the one she just witnessed.  “Why can’t he have that broken car?”

I stand on shaky legs…hair cockeyed, and try to come up with a reasonable explanation.  “Uhm…I can’t…you don’t…let’s not play with that, okay?  It’ uhm…dirty.

“Why?”  Asks Eddie.

“Because…it’s…well, it’s poop.”  I say, settling on the #1 icky item understood by toddlers around the world.

“But why’s it pink?”  My charge asks suspiciously.

I begin to sweat as their small eyes bore holes of doubt into my explanation…I’m losing them.  I have to think faster…why would poop be pink?  Desperately searching the room, I spot a new photo of the family dressed in their Easter best, taken only a few weeks prior, and the answer simply falls out…

“It’s Easter Bunny poop.”

That does it.  The four children circle me firing staccato questions, while jumping up at the perverted thing that I am now holding above my head.  I catch a quick glimpse of the scene in the dresser mirror.  If there is such a thing as Nanny PTSD, this is where it is born.

“Why doesn’t it smell like poop?”

“Why is it so big and bunnies are so small?”

“Why is it under Mommy and Daddy’s bed?”

“Why does it make that noise?”

“Okay, Okay!”  I shout over terrible the din.  “I will answer all of your questions, but first let’s get out of Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom.  I know they usually let you play in here, but today we are going to stay in our own space.  Amazingly, the children agree without argument, and as they wait for me in the playroom, I am left with another dilemma…what to do with “it.”  Should I fling it upon the mound of decorative pillows?  Place it in the bathroom sink?  Toss it into the dog house…the possibilities are infinite.

“NANNY?!”  My demanding charge summons me.  I toss it under the bed and and run from the area, wiping my hands vigorously  on my clothes.

“Tell me about the Easter Bunny poop.”  requests my charge, before I have even entered the room.

I take a deep breath and enter the room with confidence.  “Okay, look…I will tell you about this quickly and then we are going to move on to something else because it’s really not a big deal and I, for one, would like to have some fun today.  Easter Bunny poop doesn’t really smell bad because, well…it’s the Easter Bunny, not a big, stinky rhinoceros.  The poop is big because the Easter Bunny is big.  How else do you think he can carry enough Easter eggs and candy for everyone in the whole world?  Big bunny = big poop.  It’s in Mommy and Daddy’s room because they probably forgot to clean it up after Easter.  The Easter Bunny is mostly house-broken, but he sometimes has accidents while delivering goodies.  Because his poop is magic, it makes that noise so that you can find it the day after Easter and clean it up……………………..Now, who wants to make cookies?”

“Me…Me…I do…I do!”  They all shout, jumping up and down excitedly.

I tried that day.  God knows I did everything humanly possible to induce amnesia.  This event occurred after breakfast, and I had the rest of the day to pack full of activities in hopes that the unfortunate event of the morning would get lost in the sheer volume of details.  We baked, and intricately decorated sugar cookies.  We made sock puppets, wrote, and performed a full-length, version of “The Princess and the Pea.”  We made kites and went to the park to fly them.  We even made up a new sport called “Waterfall Kickball,” which is kickball with the use of sprinklers and a slip-n-slide.  At the end of the day, the neighbors stumbled home with eyes at half-mast.  My two charges could barely hold up their heads.  I am cautiously optimistic…We might just get away with this, without mentally scarring anyone.

We might get away with this, without mentally scarring anyone, if it were not for one small factor…these are toddlers.  I realize that even if I took the children on a Disney Cruise following this incident, the outcome has “disaster” written all over it.

Mommy and Daddy arrive home from a busy day at work at approximately the same time, and greet their exhausted children with hugs and kisses.  “What did you do today?”  Mommy inquires.  The children are quiet for a moment…maybe they forgot.  Perhaps they will talk about the cookies…the kites, puppets, or waterfall kickball.

“We had a busy day.”  I interject hopefully.

But just as my hope reaches its peak, the eldest answers without looking up from her coloring book.  “Nanny wouldn’t let us play in your room today because you forgot to clean up the Easter Bunny poop that was under your bed.  How come I have to clean up my room and you don’t?”  Both parent’s look at her, then to me, completely confused.  Then…God help me…she continues, “Clancy thought it was a hot dog, but I said it wasn’t because hot dogs don’t make that funny buzzy noise.”

That was the light bulb moment.  Both parents looked at one another red-faced, and with open accusation in their eyes which clearly read:  “I can’t believe you left it under the bed, you idiot!”

“Why don’t you two go pick up your toys in the playroom while we finish talking to Nanny.”  The children’s mother said to the tots.

“I don’t know why we have to clean up.”  The elder groused.  “We don’t have poop in our playroom.”

“GO!”  Shouts Mommy, a little too harshly, causing both of the children to jump.

Alone in the kitchen with the parents, I busy myself picking up crayons.  The children’s father seems intently focused on clearing his vest of invisible lint and the mother is vigorously massaging her temples in silence.  When I think I will explode from the mortifying awkwardness, I face both parents squarely and say, “I have a great idea. Let’s just…NOT.  Everything is okay, although the two of you might want to find a more child-proof hiding spot.”

A teary mother hugs me and apologizes profusely, as a shaky father slaps me on the shoulder and quickly pours himself a double whisky.  These employers and I never really discuss this incident further during my placement with them.  However, eight months later, I receive a small Christmas package in the mail.  It is a beautifully wrapped box, although I cannot imagine why the family didn’t give it to me at work.  Inside the box is a toy car whose wheels have been removed and a card which reads:  “Thank you for NOT.”

I remain friends with this family, and think of them as every Easter passes, and of the magical Easter Bunny poop.  I can’t help but think of them at Christmas as well, when I must resist the yearly urge to send them the gift of one pink hot dog.  I’m sure, when they read this post, I will receive a note in the mail which will once again read:  “Dear Nanny, Thank you for NOT!”

Meet Sam – Ninja Ballerina

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EVERY GIRL WANT’S A MAN WHO CAN GET HIS GROOVE ON.  

BOYS…HERE’S WHERE IT STARTS!


NAME:  Samunnamed

AGE:  2

HOME STATE:  North Carolina

INTERESTS:  Cars, trucks, trains, helicopters, airplanes…anything with wheels.  Movies, art, dogs, contact sports, running, anything that requires a bat, anything that makes you dirty, eating, foraging for snacks, playing with friends (especially best friend, Naomi), hugging friends, holding hands with friends, and…

BALLET!


WHEN YOU THINK OF BOYS IN BALLET…WHAT IMAGES COME TO MIND?

Are those regulation pointe shoes?

Are those regulation pointe shoes?

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No comment necessary

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I’m absolutely speechless


If you have concocted a picture that is in any way related to the photo’s above, let’s just say you might be just slightly out-of-touch with the reality of  boys in ballet today.  For example, take a look at these two good looking fellows…

Jacob and Will Black

Jacob and Will Ingle

These are definitely some big, strapping bucks!  They are both D-1 Football Scholarship Athletes.  One can bench 500lbs.  One is a music major.  Both took ballet/tap/acrobatics.

The reality is…real men can lift weights, AND women!  


And now back to two year old Sam, The Ninja Ballerina

Sam and his beloved ballet teacher, Miss Kim www.misskimdance.com www.burlingtondance.com

Sam and his beloved ballet teacher, Miss Kim
http://www.misskimdance.com
http://www.burlingtondance.com

As anyone can clearly surmise by the nature of his list of interests,  Sam is all boy.  He is constantly in motion, regularly into areas marked “OFF LIMITS”, habitually handling breakable items, frequently covered in unidentified sticky substances and sporadically in trouble for thumping someone over the head with a blunt object.

Sam’s mom thought he might benefit from something more physical than the “mommy & me” music class the two took together.  After asking around and doing a bit of research, she signed him up for a ballet class with his best friend, Naomi…although she had no idea how the experiment would end.  Knowing Sam, she thought it could go any of the following ways (or a fun combination of several):

•  Tackle Ballet

•  Use of hula-hoops and ribbon handles as Ninja weapons

•  Kissing and hugging girls in the class for a solid hour, every week

•  Active participation

Sam and Naomi

Sam and Naomi



On the first day of class, Sam’s teacher, Miss Kim, says that he marched into the room, grabbed some ribbons and asked if he could hear “Frozen”.  Miss Kim knew Sam was going to be successful.

In the end, this class HAS been a fun mix of Sam-specific elements.  He actively participates.  He tackles…but only when absolutely necessary in order to chase down a reluctant hug.  He might thump a fellow dancer with a Ninja weapon…but only when one comes too close during his special pirouette combinations, and he kisses the girls in his class at will.

A look at Sam in action – Performing one of his not-so-rare Pirouette Combinations:


IN SAM’S OWN WORDS

“I like ballet.”

“I like Naomi.”

“I like to play with my friends.”

“I like Miss Kim.”

“Can I have a snack?”

…AND THERE YOU HAVE IT.  ANY QUESTIONS?

Class is over...I'll miss you, Naomi!

Class is over…”I’ll miss you so much, Naomi!”

Words from Kim Black of Burlington Dance Center:

My approach to teaching young dancers is through imagination. I love using imagination, creating stories, and watching young children fall in love with learning to dance. By using this approach, I can take a rowdy class of 3-year olds, capture their attention and engage them with my stories – they will begin learning through imagination, walking in lines, forming circles, and doing basic tap and ballet movements when they don’t even know it. The parents are amazed when their child walks out with a new found confidence, a sure sign that they just had a great time and learned dance too! The best compliment to me is when a little one asks, as I am hugging him or her goodbye and giving him/her a sticker, “Can I come back and play?

For more information on Kim Black:  Www.misskimdance.com
For more information on Burlington Dance Center:  Www.burlingtondance.com


Nanny’s Notes:  I had the opportunity to view much of this class on video, and absolutely giggled my way through it.  These are the cutest kids!  I so wish I could sign up.  I was as enthralled with the stories as the children were.  I found myself wanting to “cook biscuits” (sit on your buns), “pop popcorn” (learn to skip), pretend to be dragonflies in the dark, take off like rocket ships, twirl like helicopters and go on a bear hunt right along with them.  However, my favorite part would have to be Sam’s special Pirouette Combinations.  Strong work Sam!  Hope to see you and Naomi in “The Nutcracker” in the near future.  Thanks so much for sharing your talent and your adorable face with us.

Toddlers, butt-cracks and bosoms

Wrong!  They are mushrooms.

Wrong! They are mushrooms.

Working late one evening, two sleepy toddlers snuggled against my chest, as I read our fourth bedtime story.  At the end of the story, the three of us sat in a moment of rare silence.  Suddenly, the eldest, a curious fellow of four, leaned back, took both of my breasts in his hands, gave them a considerable ‘honk’, and said…

“Nanny, what do you call these big things?”

Here we go.

“These are Nanny’s fluffy bits.” I said casually, removing his hands and snuggling him again.

“Mommy says they are for feeding tiny babies.  You don’t have any tiny babies.  So, what do you use your fluffy bits for?” he inquired.

Smart toddlers…can’t live with them.  Can’t use dog crates and duct tape.

“You’re right, smart boy.  I explained.  Mine are built-in safety devices.  You see, if I fall forward, I would bounce right back up without hurting myself.  When I go swimming, I never have to remember floaties…mine are attached!  When I’m not falling or floating, I can use them as pillows for people I love.”

“That’s neat!”  He said.

This prompted the boy’s younger sister to grab the top of my shirt with both hands, pulling it roughly away from my body to inspect what was hidden beneath.  She sucked in her breath sharply.

“Nanny…why is your bottom way up here?”  She shrieked, as she stuck one tiny finger directly into my cleavage.

At first I didn’t understand what she meant….

Note:  These are not mine...unfortunately

Note: These are not mine…unfortunately

Note:  neither of these are mine...fortunately

Note: neither of these are mine…fortunately

But now her point has become crystal clear.

This conversation has undeniably headed south, from “Goodnight Moon” to cleavage and butt-cracks at an alarming rate, which is a clear indicator of immediate bedtime.  However, when I kissed the four-year-old goodnight, he appeared to have one last comment…

“Nanny, when I grow up, I want to have great big fluffy bits just like you.” he says with a yawn.

Oh crap…here we go again.

“Well, honey…Boy’s don’t usually grow great big fluffy bits.” His eyes filled with tears and he began to sob uncontrollably.

“It’s not fair…I want big fluffy bits too!” He wailed.

I sat next to him on the bed, and in a hushed tone, said “But I didn’t tell you the worst part of having big fluffy bits yet.  I thought your little sister might be afraid.” He immediately stopped crying, excited that he might harbor secret information before his little sister.

“What is it, Nanny?”  He asked, eyes wide.

“It’s the horrible contraption we have to wear every single day to tie them down and keep them out of the way.  It’s called…

“The Over-the-Shoulder-Fluffy-Bit-Holder”:

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“It’s made of rubber bands, rope, nails, wire, hot glue and poison ivy.”

“Can I see it, Nanny?”  he asked.

“No, sweetheart.  But ask your Mommy tomorrow, and maybe she will show you hers.”

“I don’t want to wear one of those.”  he said, before rolling over to go to sleep.

“Me either, Bud.”

He seems to have accepted this unfair difference between the sexes and no longer laments his woeful lack of large fluffy bits.  A few days later, he created this moving portrait of he and I together, which now lives on my refrigerator.

It is entitled:

ODE DE HEAFTY FLUFFY BITS:  NATURE’S CRUEL AND UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH

notice that I am not smiling

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Meet Nora – The Little Maestro

IMG-20150419-WA0003 Name:  Nora

Age:  7

Home State:  North Carolina

Interests:  Nora loves to play the violin.  She also enjoys reading and hunting for bugs outside.  Nora’s mom says she is a collector of all things.  Mostly things found in nature.  There are jars, baskets, boxes and piles of Nora’s collectables in every corner of the house.  These collections include, but are not limited to: acorn caps, birds nests, feathers, rusty metal, and all kinds of live and dead bugs.

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IN NORA’S OWN WORDS

“Well, uhm…I started playing when I was 6 or so.  I wanted to play the violin because I really liked classical music…like cello, harp and piano and stuff.  But then I started liking fiddle tunes too, like “Dawning of the Day” and “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.”  At first I wanted to play the piano, but I thought the violin would be easier, and I thought it would be cool to like play in an orchestra type thing.”

“Anyway, when I was 6, I took lessons for a looooooong time, and now I am almost at the end of book one!  There are nine books.  It’s called the Suzuki method.  You start with a cardboard violin and learn how to like hold it and take care of it and stuff before you get a real violin.”

“The most exciting thing happened on St. Paddy’s Day!  My mom and dad’s friends have a band called “Moonlight Ale.”  We went to South Carolina, and I got to play two songs with them, “Dawning of the Day” and “Britches Full of Stitches.”  Now I’m an honorary member of the band, which I think means I can play with them sometimes…I don’t really know.  I never get nervous when I play in front of people, I just feel excited, and stuff.  I don’t know why.”


NORA SHOWS THE PARTS OF HER VIOLIN

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STRINGS

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BOW

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BRIDGE

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SCROLL

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FINE TUNERS

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TUNING PEGS


“When a person gets big and plays the violin, they are called a “Violinist” and that is what I want to be.  But I’m also interested in being a science teacher, because I like nature and bugs and stuff.  I like to catch caterpillars and put them in my habitat and set them free when they turn into butterflies. “I have a recital coming soon and am playing a song called, “Little Black Dog Waltz.”  Here is a video for you.”

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Nanny’s Note:  Thank you so much, Nora, for sharing your wonderful talent with us.  I love how beautiful you are in your lovely dress and bare feet, but are not afraid to hunt down and collect some bugs, dead or alive.  Go-Go-Girl-Power!  It’s amazing to me that you are not nervous at all to play in front of an audience.  Most people feel like they might just throw up their morning cereal.  I’m very impressed with you.  You are certainly the coolest Barefooted, Scientific, Violinist I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Nanny Goes Green

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It is a glorious spring day, and I am taking my two charges, ages two and four, to a nearby strawberry farm where the general public can hand-pick and purchase their own berries by the bucket.  I’m not sure why I think this is a good idea, as I am generally a person who swats wildly at bees, and screams like a child at the sight of a spider.  However, I recognize the educational value, put aside my irrational fear, and follow through with the activity.  I have wisely chosen an organic strawberry farm, knowing that the children will eat buckets of berries before I have a chance to wash them.

It’s about an hours drive to the strawberry farm, and as usual, by the time we arrive, both children are hollering “I GOTTA POTTY, NANNY!”  Always prepared, I have looked up the farm online, and know that there are facilities on site.  I wrestle the two tots out of the car, and we run to the only building on the grounds to find the bathroom.  Seeing no sign, I seek out the only employee I can find on the premises.    He is a dreadlock topped, Birkenstock footed teenager, with a name tag that reads “River”.  River simply points to a tiny pup tent about 40 feet from the building.  “No,” I say, assuming he has misunderstood my question, “the bathroom!”

“Follow me,” River says with a sigh.

“I gotta poop, Nanny,” the two-year old whines.

We follow the casually sauntering teen to the pup tent.

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This can’t be right, although there is a sign outside that reads:

COMPOSTING TOILET

 

“Here you go,” River says, pulling aside one of the flaps of the tiny tent.  Inside, I see a plastic five gallon bucket, with an old wooden toilet seat perched on top.

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This is very poor design, which leaves me wondering…who was the engineer on this project, and did he miss the discussion in school about how large on top, and small on bottom, leads to balance problems?  There is another five gallon bucket next to the first, filled with something that looks like tiny brown packing peanuts, and a scoop.

“Look, Babbling Brook…”

“River,” he says.

“So sorry, River.  Look, we are about to have a toddler potty emergency here.  Do you have a bathroom somewhere that is a little less…ah…organic?”

“No Ma’am, this is it.  Isn’t it great?”

“Well Ocean…”  Now I’m really irritated – he’s calling me Ma’am.

“River.”

“Whatever…it may be “great”, but I don’t even know what the hell (whoopsie) — heck a composting toilet is, much less how one would use such a thing.”

“Easy…make your deposit,” he says, pointing to the bucket with the toilet seat.  “Wipe with recycled paper…one square for a small job, three for a large job.  Cover your pee or poo with a few scoops of rice husks and feel good about giving back to our Mother Earth.”

I am staring at this boy thinking, “Stagnant Pond, you are a complete idiot…I wouldn’t use this thing if I had amoebic dysentery and this was the only toilet within a 20 mile radius,” when more whining from the two-year old breaks my angry trance.  “Thanks, we’re good here,” I say, pulling the two tots into the tiny tent and closing the flap behind me.  “Idiot!”  I say again, under my breath.

It is stifling in the tent and the three of us become sticky with sweat within seconds.  “No Nanny…I need a REAL potty!” The four-year old complains, obviously unimpressed.

“This IS the potty,” I say, trying to sound cheerful, as I scrub the seat with several antibacterial wipes.

“No it’s not!  It doesn’t even flush!”  He starts to cry and the two-year old quickly follows suit.

“It’s just fine you two…really.  All you have to do is sit on this thing, and go potty.  Easy-Peasy!”

“You go first, Nanny!” The four-year old demands.

My encouraging smile fades and is replaced by a look of utter horror.  “Me?”  I croak.

“YOU GO FIRST!”  He demands again.

Sometimes I hate my life.  I am in a tiny pup tent, trying my best to hover over a five gallon bucket, with a two-year old watching on my right, and a four-year old watching on my left.  Maybe I can fake it.

“I can’t hear your pee pee,” announces the two-year old.  My muscles are tired.  I cannot maintain a squatting position for this long.  Am I actually going to have to touch this thing with my body?  My legs begin to shake…should have done more of those damn lunges!  “Well, if I didn’t have amoebic dysentery before, I have it now,” I think, as I rest my bum on the seat.  The contraption is even more wobbly than I expected, and I nearly end up with my feet in the air, and my pants around my ankles at least six times before getting the hang of it.

I leave my deposit, wipe with one square, scoop and smile weakly at the children.  “See?  Easy-Peasy!” I say, struggling to pull my pants over my sweaty hips.  Following my cheerful demonstration, both toddlers relent, and use the poorly designed contraption, holding tightly to me for dear life.  When we finally emerge from the tiny tent, we are all sweating like farm animals, and have somehow forgotten the part where we are supposed to feel good about giving back to Mother Earth.  I use an entire container of antibacterial wipes on our hands before we commence berry picking, a little more subdued then when we began this grand, green adventure.

We have gone berry picking since this incident.  However, I must have inadvertently misplaced the name and address of this particular strawberry farm, because we have not returned.  I have to admit, pesticides on my strawberries bother me a great deal less than sitting on a bucket in a pup tent, with a toddler on each side listening for my pee pee.  In fact, I rather prefer the flavor.

Meet Chef Jack

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Name:  Jack

Home:  North Carolina

Age:  5

Interests:  Jack loves to invent recipes and cook for his family.  His family agrees to at least taste Jack’s creations.  He also enjoys reading books and “creating things.”

JACK’S EVERYTHING CAKE

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Uhm…Yikes!

I call this my “everything cake” because I put EVERYTHING in it I can find on that day.  I like to cook for my family, but I don’t make, like chicken and stuff…only cakes.  They eat some pretty much every time, and sometimes they even like it.  This one is  my “Apple Everything Cake” cause I put a few pieces of apple in there.  My family didn’t eat this one because it tasted gross, but some taste good.


Recipe:

– 1 egg

– 1 granola bar

– 1 cup ginger dressing (my mom made for a salad)

– 2 scoops oatmeal

– 1 package of Swedish Fish

– 2 glasses of water

– 1 squirt of honey

– 2 dumps of cinnamon (my mom says it was about 10 teaspoons)


I do this part all by myself and mix it together for a long time and stuff.  Then my mom has to put it in the oven, cause it’s hot and she says I might spill it.

When it’s all done, I taste it.

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It really tasted nasty.  I think next time, I will add salt and flour.  It might taste better.

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Nanny’s Note:  Thank you, Jack, for this incredibly unique dessert recipe.  I will keep it in mind for my next dinner party.  I find it fascinating, however, that there are no apples in your “Apple Everything Cake” recipe.  I must assume they are optional…good thinking!  Jack’s mom reports that he was “disappointed, but not defeated.”  I would love to receive an update, with a photo of the entire family tasting one of Jack’s culinary masterpieces.  What a cute kid!

Anatomically Correct Primate Genitalia

IMG_3255Today the children and I are visiting the zoo, and as luck would have it, the temperature is a brisk 96 degrees in the shade, with 87% humidity. The children love the zoo, and we visit often. Oddly enough, some of their favorite attractions are the many life sized bronze animal statues that are scattered around the park. These seem to have more of a draw than the actual live animals. Children climb and play on the statues, and there is quite a bit of whining and complaining when it is suggested that we move forward.

Unfortunately, I find myself in a repeated sticky situation when we go to the zoo, and it begins on the thickly forested path called “Primate Pass.” This winding path leads directly to the newly redone chimpanzee habitat, and is lined with several life-size bronze chimpanzee statues in various natural poses. It wasn’t until I walked along “Primate Pass” for the first time, that I realized a full grown, male chimpanzee, in a standing position, is approximately the size of a human adult. The statues are (of course) anatomically correct, and there is one particularly large male statue, posed in a very manly stance, directly at the path’s edge.

The two children in my charge at this time, are drawn to this strapping fellow like a magnet to metal. They cannot help themselves. They run straight for the giant pendulous testicular area, which happens to be directly at face level for small children. They fondle, hang from, and poke at the thing with sticks, while people walk by, and either comment to one another, or avoid eye contact, rushing past as quickly as possible. On this particular day, I am dealing with the situation by standing on the opposite side of the path, directly across from the children, studying a nearby plant with great intensity. I try to notice every minute detail. It’s so…green and…leafy. I’m thinking this might make people believe the children belong with somebody else.

“Nanny!” shout’s the four year old. People on the path look around to see who he is calling.

Rats! I’ve been outed.  “Yes, what is it?” I ask.

“Look at this!” he shouts, at a decibel high enough to cover the entirety of “Primate Pass.” “This monkey’s berries are SO much bigger than daddy’s!”

I instantly close my eyes and say a small prayer, “Dear God, I would appreciate it if you would turn me into a small birdie immediately. And, by the way…isn’t it time for cross continental migration?” I peek with one eye. Not only has the prayer not worked, the entire exchange has been overheard by everyone on the path. A few folks are giggling behind their hands, several have shocked looks on their faces, and one elderly woman sitting on a bench, clutches her handbag in horror and utters, “My Word!”

I am aware that I am sweating profusely as I make a curt “let’s go” gesture with my hand and turn to leave the area, hoping just this once, the two tots will follow, no questions asked. As if on cue, the two year old hits the ground and let’s go with an ear splitting, snot slinging temper tantrum. So much for skulking out quietly. As usual, I must pick up and carry the kicking, spitting child from the area. I (very firmly) instruct her elder sibling to follow silently. Also, as per usual, the two year old is not going without a fight. Today she grabs the huge, pendulous “monkey berries” with a death grip, and we have a short game of tug-of-war before I am able to pry her little hands from the bronze genitalia. The crowd stares on, frozen in amazement, or is it amusement?

It is a 25 minute hike back to the parking lot (even when achieved in double time). We exit the zoo like an enraged marching band. People move aside and gawk at us as we stomp by, the two year old slung over my shoulder military style, still kicking and screaming, and the four year old, now screaming from behind. I, however, have the slightest grin on my sweaty face, and as I buckle the four year old into his car seat, I say, “I can’t wait to tell your daddy about today. He will be so pleased and proud.”