a little valentine's party.

if you know me personally or have read previous posts, you may know I am a nanny. it's a sweet, exhausting blast, all at the same time. this summer will make five years on the job.

we really like to celebrate and put on shows. in the summer, we host the super summer show. it's a variety show with everything from singing + dancing to shooting hoops. around Christmas, we have a Christmas program—complete with a live nativity. birthdays are a big deal, too. I fill the car up with balloons and a birthday banner and we listen to fun music while we drive around. the kids are always excited to be picked up from school on their birthday and go for a ride in the party wagon.

valentine's day is no different. I fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, between those who absolutely loathe valentine's day and those who love it so much they wish it was every day. I think we should love each other and show it every day, but it is fun to give cards and I'd be lying if I said I didn't like receiving flowers. when my husband + I observe valentine's day, we usually just eat dinner together. sometimes it's in a restaurant [rarely], sometimes it's grilling steaks at home [once], and sometimes it's sitting on the couch eating crawfish with no pants on. that's actually my favorite way to celebrate.

I like to celebrate it with my babies, too, and throw a little party. they each get a mailbox, compliments of the Target dollar section. these are filled with valentines from their parents, siblings, pets, and even my family. we eat cake and dance and sometimes do a craft. it's pretty fun, if I do say so myself. this year's party was a little different. we partied in shifts because one of my kids was sick and had a doctor's appointment during the appointed party time. I wish we could've all been together, but it was a sweet time just the same.

I made punch [ginger ale + white grape juice]. apparently, this has a kick to it so it's best for those with a mature palate. the kids were impressed with the bubbles; but after one sip, all three informed me it was "too spicy."

a few years ago, I saw something on Pinterest about how to bake mini cakes. this year, I finally got around to trying it! all you need is an empty tin can. after removing the paper wrapper and top + bottom of the can, wrap foil around one end. spray the inside of the can with nonstick spray, fill it halfway with cake batter, and bake on 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. and voilà! mini cakes.

I'd also like to state, for the record, that these are their genuine faces and reactions upon opening and reading their valentines. they were so sweet and so grateful. it made my heart so happy.

this was our "craft," if it can even be called that. I cut a heart shape out of black poster board and they glued pompoms + scraps of wrapping paper, making their own giant valentines. it was very simple and I actually came up with the idea when I was about to throw away remnants of wrapping paper that were too little to actually wrap anything with, but too cute to be thrown away. it was fun and not too messy and they got to take a little something home to show their parents, along with their goody bags and sugar highs.

a silly string fight was not actually on the agenda. but the kids found two cans in the back room of our house, or my studio, as I call it. so we went outside and they went to war. I mean really, what's a valentine's party without a little silly string?

and there you have it. our little valentine's party.

and wherever you fall on the spectrum, whether you're a lover or a hater, happy valentine's day to you.

"and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. but the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

the four year nanniversary.

Long ago, before I began my career as a nanny, I did a stint in college.  it was short-lived, and I thank God for that.  unlike most, I didn't love college, and it didn't like me much either.  after two universities, four semesters, six times changing my major, and zero motivation + direction, my college career ended.  I'd be lying if I said I was upset about it—now or then.  I've said it once and I'll say it again, school [specifically college] is not for everyone.

but the deal was, as my parents so gently reminded me: if I wasn't attending school, I had to work full time.  this was completely fine with me because I'd been working since the age of 12 and had a steady job up until this point.  so "work" was nothing new.  in fact, by this point, I'd had eleven jobs in about a five year span.  have you ever seen Gilmore Girls?  think Kirk.  my résumé is extensive, with work experience in fields including, but not limited to: salons, spas, sporting goods, retail, food + restaurant industry, and child care.  I even worked at a fabric store for a day.  literally one [1] day.  when I realized there would be lots of measuring involved... well that's not really my thing, so that was the end of that.  I like to think this work experience makes me well-rounded.  but the story of my jobs is a story for another time.

in her Sunday school class, my mother had heard of a family in our church who was looking for someone to take care of their children.  the hours were good, the pay was great, so I said, "SIGN ME UP!"  I'm teasing—I had to go through a strenuous interview process, background check, physical fitness aptitude test, and extensive drug testing.  kidding, again.  I did meet with them and "interview" if you want to call it that.  I liked them immediately.  they were a sweet young couple with a little girl and a baby boy.

As I mentioned earlier, I'd been babysitting for years and I'd grown up with younger siblings around, so I felt as if I was readily equipped for such a job as this.  in some ways, I was; but in others, I was not.  I knew how to change diapers, I like to think I do a good job entertaining, I'm pretty responsible [not so much with academia, but definitely with humans].  I was set.  I believe the thing I was most unprepared for is how deeply I'd fall in love with the family.  I knew I would grow somewhat attached, but I could never have fathomed the depth.

Two years into this gig, I was ready for another baby.  I found another family in our church who'd just had a sweet baby girl earlier that year.  I didn't know them well and I don't remember doing this, but one day at church I approached the mother and simply said, "I want to keep your baby while you're at work."  for reasons unknown to me, she agreed and Charlie Claire has been a part of our group ever since.

In my small, twenty-year-old brain, I don't think I thought much about the future.  I don't think I realized I would fall in love with this job and these people and that I might want to stick around for years and years.  have you ever seen The Help?  at the end of the movie, a man and his wife offer their housekeeper a job for the rest of her life, as long as she wants it.  I've had that same conversation with mine.  just call me Minnie.  we often joke about me taking care of the children until they graduate high school.

When I first began nannying for them, Alayna was two and Andy was about nine months.  when I began keeping Charlie Claire, she was about eight months.  this fall, Alayna will turn seven and Andy will turn five.  on Charlie Claire's next birthday, she'll turn three.  I cannot even believe that.  they say time flies when you're having fun, so I must be having a ball.

I've loved this job from the very beginning.  and now after four years, we've fallen into a wonderful routine.  by the end of the week, I need the weekend.  and by the end of the weekend, I'm telling my husband how much I miss my babies. 

it has, without a doubt, been the sweetest adventure.  I've gotten to witness + be a part of first steps and first words, the transition from a crib to a big boy/girl bed, potty training, losing teeth, countless birthday parties, and so many other wonderful things.  I've gotten to love on these babies and be a part of these families and it has blessed me in the richest of ways.

there are moments I feel as if I've caught a small glimpse of the kind of love a parent has for their child.  moreover, I've gained a better understanding of our Father's love for us. 

I know I won't be able to do this forever, and, as much as I plead with them, the children will grow up.  but I'm so grateful for my time with them and all they've taught me and every minute spent together.  it's been the best four years of my life. 

happy nanniversary to us, sweet babies!  here's to four more.