Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Here's Where I Admit to Being a Geeky Kid:

Guess what? I was one of those kids who was into dinosaurs way past the age when it was cool to be into dinosaurs. I had a computer game that was a simulation of an archaeologist's dig and I wasted priceless hours where I could have been learning to match my lipstick to my belt or other useful tid-bits that would have been so much more important when I hit my teen years. Instead I was learning about the Mesozoic period and what a carnivor is (turns out, it's me). That information has not been helpful even once past the age of twelve.

My favorite dinosaur is and was the Triceratops. I'm not sure why, other than it's just plain cool.

Listening to the news this morning brought me back to my dinosaur days, despite the fact that the news was not about dinosaurs, but rather a creature that lived a mere 12-million years ago. Archaeologists in Australia have recently unearthed the fossilized remains of a bird they have nicknamed . . . wait for it . . . the Demon Duck of Doom!!. It's a bird with close ties to the ducks that waddle around every single pond and lake of America--and the rest of the world, I assume--except with scissor-like jaws made for slicing into flesh. I worry about letting Drew near the squirrels because I'm petrified he's going to actually catch one some day (the kid is quick--pigeons present no challenge to him), now I'm grateful there aren't anymore DDDs roaming the earth. Central Park is dangerous enough as is.

Among the scientists other discoveries were two varieties of Killer Kangaroos, one with "wolf-like fangs" and the other with "big, powerful forelimbs" used for galloping. That's kind of a scary idea, because the normal kind of kangaroos we're used to seeing today aren't really known for their gentle side.

Marty the Monster, for one, is immensely relieved that natural selection bred the killer instinct out of the Roos:





Technorati Tags: , , Australia, Dinosaurs, Evolution

Monday, July 24, 2006

Everyone gets 15 Minutes

Yesterday I stopped by the park to visit a bit with the kids and Mrs. G. It's nice to be able to spend time with them occasionally when I am not the responsible party. Of course, I still lend a hand if it is needed, but ultimately I'm not the one getting the dirty looks when Drew up-ends a bucket of sand on some poor unsuspecting baby or Luke terrorizes kids twice his size by stealing their toys and curling up in a ball around them potato-bug style when we try and make him give them back.

Anyway . . . while sitting on the wall with Mrs. G. and the other Mommy-types I had my first celebrity sighting of a truly twenty-first century variety. It wasn't Jon Stewart and his two adorable munchkins who do in fact live in the neighborhood (they're one of the main reasons I drop by the park on the weekends when I could be elsewhere drinking). Instead, I'm fairly sure I had a peanut sighting. (For those of you who don't go and read every blog I recommend, the peanut is the offspring of MetroDad.)

It was so strange to be faced with this odd reminder that I live a double life. I blog here under a pseudonym and I'd never post pictures of myself or the children because of that fact, but the truth of the matter is that I am a real person and I do live and work in an area that--despite being one of the largest cities on earth--is in fact just a series of small, intimate neighborhoods. I wanted very much to go up and speak to Mr. MetroDad, tell him how much I've enjoyed his blog (especially due to the rocky start we got off to). If I did that, though, I'd compromise my own anonymity, and that wasn't a risk I was willing to take.

I could have simply expressed my enjoyment as a reader, and not a fellow blogger, but would that have even been appropriate? I NEVER EVER go up to celebrities that I see on the street. It's like an unspoken New Yorker's creed, a very East Coast ethic. I always assume that celebrities would like not to be bothered, no matter what complimentary thing I might have to say about them. I'd like also to assume that the celebrity would assume that I'm very secure with who I am, secure enough to not even care that they're in my proximity, despite their fame and extreme good looks.

I suppose that seeing the MetroDad family caused me to re-examine why I am doing this. The main reason is that I want to connect with people in the realm of ideas, and in that respect the internet really serves me well. However, I don't live within a vacuum, and these things will happen from time to time. Also, the truth of the matter is that connecting really isn't the only reason I've been blogging for these past few months. I am interested in my own form of fame, but I'm trying to control the shape it takes. My hope is that I'm not fooling myself about what is and is not possible on these "internets" we're all so fond of.



Technorati Tags: , , New York City

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's like Thunder and Lightning . . .

Now, I've done some internet dating, and all in all I think it's an excellent thing. That being said, I simply can't get behind the pay sites like Match or eHarmony. The little contact that I've had with men on sites such as those has not been positive, so, unless you're interested in getting married tomorrow (and you a'int picky) I don't recommend them.

One thing that I did love about Match is the table below:


During the brief period of time when I used the site I had one absolute rule: If thunderstorms didn't turn you on, you were clearly not worth talking to.


I really don't know of anything much better than a hot, sticky summer day that ends in a violent, windy, loud, crazy storm, and I believe I've felt this way all the time. Kids are often frightened by thunderstorms, but it's that delicious kind of fear that happens only with the sudden awareness of something so much bigger and stronger than yourself. Luke cowers at my feet when the thunder roars, and it's clear from his face that he's truly terrified, but once it passes his smile is more than relief.

On some level I'm even a little jealous of those out in Astoria and Westchester who are currently without power. I was in heaven during the massive power outages of 2003. Sure it was hot and we didn't have AC, but there was such delicious chaos and that unique togetherness that a community feels only when it is forced to come together.


When Luke and Drew and I opened the windows this afternoon so that we could put as little space as possible between ourselves and the violence of nature all three of us found it (yes, for a third time) delicious.



Technorati Tags: , , Storms, Internet Dating, Fear

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Color of Thursday

My favorite candy, available at Economy Candy.



Day Lilies at the Hudson River Park.



A broken and abandoned bucket.



Taxis coming and goiing.



The Daisy Table at Ceci Cela.



Matchbox Cars, some of the best designed toys ever mad.



Tellow Jack-in-the-Pulpits (I think, any flower experts out there?) at the corner store.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tuesday Goodie Report

Yesterday I took Jill, Drew & Luke (Jill was home from camp with the summer sniffles) to get "tea" with one of my friends. We cabbed it over to the Lower East Side because after brunch on Sunday I'd been reminded of two places that are must-gos with the kids. The first was Teany, which is co-owned by bald, political, progressive musician Moby. It's a tiny (big surprise) tea shop that's completely vegetarian and largely vegan but remarkably yummy. They have a tea service with sweet little sandwiches, yummy scones and little deserts including a chocolate-mousse -like thing which is sooo good, but vegan, which makes me wonder what exactly is in it. I do try to avoid questioning things I like too much, though.

On another day I will devote the proper amount of time to Teany that it deserves, but today I want to talk about our second LES stop: Economy Candy. The store, which has every kind of candy, nut and chocolate that you can imagine, has been operating continuously on the LES since 1937. The kid's eyes simply bugged out over the variety and abundance of candy that EC has to offer. Jill actually went into an overload state where she simply couldn't even begin to decide on what ONE thing she wanted to claim as her treat.


Finally, after I threatened that we would go home with nothing, she chose a selection of pink and purple pastel M&Ms. I told her that they definitely fit in with her personal aesthetic, which I then had to try and explain! Why don't I keep my mouth shut?


I also realized, too late, that it was a completely masochistic thing to introduce Drew & Luke to Pixie Sticks, but you know, when in Rome . . .


I found the massive display of candy cigarettes very tempting for the nostalgia sake and the fact that I've always just loved those weird chalky sticks of sugar. Unfortunately, their political incorrectness is pretty undeniable.


The best part of the whole excursion, for myself and for the kids, was that it was 100% sanctioned by Mrs. G. I think she liked the romance of the place and the way it fits into the Tenement history of the LES.





Technorati Tags: , New York City, Lower East Side

Monday, July 17, 2006

Weekend Wrap-Up

So, I haven't commented much on this fact as of yet, but the truth of the matter is a Nanny does not live on sweet days in the park alone. In fact, I have a social life of my own, one that doesn't include children, diapers, screaming, or laundry. I'm devoting today's post to a completely child-free activity: the Lower East Side brunch. (As opposed to the Brooklyn brunch which, even on the best of days, can only be described as child-dominated.)


My friend M. picked out Essex on Essex Street between Rivington & Delancy Streets because she'd heard that they had a great brunch deal: $15 for a brunch that includes 3 drinks (Mimosas, Bloody Marys or Screwdrivers). It was an easy sell.

From the outside Essex is totally unassuming, but inside it's airy, modern and--after 12 noon on a Sunday--completely packed. We did not make a reservation (who makes a reservation for brunch?) but luckily our wait was only about 30 minutes, but that's mainly because we were a group of four overly aggressive New York women who were desperately hungry.



The service at Essex was wonderful for this one reason: immediate carbohydrates in the form of yummy onion bialis and alcohol.


They pour the mimosas from a pitcher like water or beer, which is such a wonderful thing. They are on the weak side, but that was ok with us because they flow incredibly freely. We were supposed to pay $3 extra for every drink over the 3 we were entitled to, but we estimate that our glasses were refilled at least 5 times.


The food at Essex is a fusion of Latin and Jewish cuisines. The menu is large and includes such gems as Seared Diver Scallops topped with a crispy potato pancake and a poached egg and a Calabaza Salad with mixed greens, sheep's milk cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds all topped with grilled chicken or steak. M. picked the Mexican Motzah Brei which I sampled and highly recommend.


A. picked the (absolutely huge) Banana-Chocolate Chip Pancakes and C. chose the Spinach, Tomato and Sheep's Milk Cheese Omelet. But the day's winner (as determined by me) was me. I paid the upcharge of $3 to get the Lobster Eggs Benedict. I was a little wary because I don't like Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict, but my concerns were put to rest the minute I sampled the dish. Lobster and hollandaise is a perfect combination. I probably will never be satisfied with plain old regular Eggs Benedict again.



Our waitress told us that the day to come is Saturday because on Sunday, as we observed, the place gets ridiculously packed. Essex has been added to the very short list of truly exceptional brunches.



Technorati Tags: , , New York City, Eggs Benedict, Lower East Side

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I wish I paid more attention in German Class


What is going on in this website? It's a German childcare agency, right? But the pictures make it look like the girls are available for other services after the kids are asleep. Is it a joke? If anyone reads German I'd love to know.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hump Day Goodie Report

So, it's Wednesday and we all need a little extra treat to get us over to the sunnier side of the week, right? Today Luke and I were on our own all morning (Drew is doing Gymnastic Camp in the mornings at Elite--it's a great program, if you're in the market) and we decided we needed an indulgence.


We were down by the river and I didn't want to cross back over the West Side Highway just to get something yummy to eat, so instead we popped into the Pan Latin Cafe which is located right at the corner of Chambers Street and River Terrace. I've passed the place by daily for over a year now, but somehow I've never stopped in until today. Now, however, that I've given it a try I think it'll probably be one of our regular stops.

The coffee was great (iced today, it's icky hot!) and the very nice counter person let us sample the Guava Cream Cheese Bread Pudding which was so very yummy! The register is surrounded by a huge variety of chocolates, which is lovely to see, always, but one of the great unexpected items we found was a basket full of beautiful bright colored balls. I assume they're for handball, but Luke was very happy just to chase one down the ramp to the park and watch it disappear into the river through a storm drain. Easy come, easy go!


I bought some Guava muffins and I ate mine as we walked down to the park. Luke licked his, and smiled, but didn't really eat it. It wasn't until we got down to the lawn that I realized he had a master plan. He held out his muffin to a tiny bird and said "feed birds!" Before I knew it we were attracting all the winged creatures of the park. All in all, a happy Wednesday morning for all involved.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fairy Tale Endings

On Monday I picked up a few books at the library, including some for Sam & Jill, despite the fact that they were not with us. One of the books I got for Jill was The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson. She tends to gobble up Fairy Tales (like any self respecting little girl should) despite the fact that her mother has made it clear that she finds the messages in some of the stories to not be politically correct. I wrote my college thesis on the importance of fairy tales as our last truly living mythology, so this is one area where I'm not inclined to back down. I think fairy tales are such a wonderful cultural legacy that I find it very easy to dismiss the fact that getting the guy is often the highest point a female character aspires to in most of the genre. I think today's growing girls are sophisticated enough to juggle fantasies of being both Cinderella and Madeleine Albright (or Condoleeza Rice, of course).

But, I digress. This post is not about feminism, it's about tinkering with the endings of classic literature. Jill was quite shocked this evening when I read the title story to her. Quite shocked, of course, because she's already seen The Little Mermaid a la Disney. So, to hear that at the end of the story, instead of wedding the prince of her dreams on the deck of a vast ship, our heroine instead "threw herself from the ship into the sea, and thought her body was dissolving into foam" incensed Jill to the point of tears. She wasn't crying because of the little mermaid's pathetic end, she was crying because she felt cheated. I know because I've felt that way before.


It's always a rule of mine to read the book first before seeing any movie adaptation and it has almost never served me wrong. I say almost for this one (somewhat blunt) reason: this Hans Christian Anderson crap is an exception to the rule. It's a wonderfully moral story (here is the full text, if you'd like to read it for yourself) but an incredibly moral story isn't, in my opinion, what kids want or need. I spend all day correcting the G. children's manners, reminding them to think of other people's feelings, trying to get them to make unselfish decisions. I respect the fact that, at the end of the day, they just need to kind of bliss out and let their little ids go wild. That's where the Grimm type fairy tale comes in. The reward the little mermaid gets at the end of the HCA tale (becoming the equivalent of wind sentenced to 300 years of doing good deeds in order to earn and immortal soul) is basically meaningless to a child who has a hard time contemplating how long it is until Friday.

It's really very sad. The book is beautifully illustrated and the details are rich and compelling. The sea witch--who feeds toads and snakes from her own mouth, as one would a bird from your hand--is better than anything Disney's ever created, including Maleficent. The moral, that nothing can be gained from throwing away your own life for a dream, is certainly practical. It just has no pay off at the end, and I'm angry with myself for not remembering my own feelings when I first read the truth for myself. I could have spared Jill the loss of her little mermaid delusions.

Oh well, she still believes in the tooth fairy.

Questionable Morality

My friend G. says that at least one post about the Google Ads generated by the "content" of one's blog is inevitable. This is my second, but I feel it's worth proving G. right twice in order to point this out:


It appeared shortly after my post on Addiction. How immoral is that? I know that a search engine cannot exactly be held to standards of a thinking, feeling human with a conscience, but really people! What if this was the blog of a recovering Vicodin addict? Would it still generate these kinds of ads?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tom Otterness

In thinking about a personalized blog design I spent a lot of time contemplating what images would be the most meaningful to include in a masthead. I mentioned in an earlier post that the artwork of Tom Otterness is very high on the list. Here are a few that I simply love. They were all taken at Rockefeller Park (a section of the Hudson River Park).


Luke loves the Dodo Bird statue, which is also a fountain. It's in a shady area of one of the playgrounds, and the water fountains only rise about 6 inches off the ground, perfect for babies who don't like to be splashed.


I love the detail of the bottle in the Monkey Mama's hand in this statue. Plus, the little people remind me of Doozers.


I'm determined to find out a bit more about Mr. Otterness's work. I'll share what I find out, especially if it explains his fascination with enormous animals and tiny little affectionate-looking people.



Technorati Tags: , , Photography, Parks, New York City

Friday, July 07, 2006

Addiction

I've always considered myself to not predisposed to addiction. Now, I've never dabbled with any truly addictive substances like heroin or cocaine (and I'm not willing to go that far to prove my point). I have, however, smoked cigarettes occasionally since I was in high school. There were times, like summers when I worked as a waitress, when I would smoke several cigarettes a day for months. But once I left the job to go back to school I never looked back and didn't even think about needing or wanting to smoke. I've always liked that smoking was an ability I had as opposed to a habit. When in the company of those who smoke, I can smoke as well if I choose to, but I've never paid for that ability with any of the adverse effects of addiction.

It seems, I've been getting a little too cocky about the differences between my abilities, my habits, and my desperate vital needs.

It has been one of those mornings. Everything went wrong. My alarm never went off, so I was rushing from jump. The train sat outside the Jay Street station for, like, ever before finally moving on to the island. Sam and Jill both were so uncooperative during breakfast that Mrs. G. threw up her hands and disappeared into her bedroom (not that I wouldn't have done the same in her place) so I was scrambling around to get us all out to the bus for camp in time. Then, after a quick trip back to the apartment to grab the diaper bag, Luke, Drew & I headed off to the S. house for our standing Friday playdate. When we got to the S.'s we found their house in disarray because of a horrible tickling accident (I'm not joking, it was a horrible tickling accident had caused the Phoebe S. to bang her head into the metal rimmed kitchen table. Her mother passed us in the lobby with Phoebe on the way to the hospital (4 stitches, and she's doing fine now). So I stayed with the youngest S. while their nanny took the middle one to his music class. By the time she got back I just was not feeling well.

So I made my excuses and packed Luke & Drew up in the stroller and headed back to the G. apartment. Once inside I tried to get the two little guys to play quietly together, but of course that didn't happen. They both wanted my attention and were going to extreme lengths to get it while my headache just got worse and worse. At one point, while on the phone with some political organization that had called to solicit money from Mr. G., Luke kept crying "Annie uppey! Annie uppey!" so I picked him up and held out the phone to him to whine loudly into. It worked, they quickly said they'd call back later (probably during dinner). But, once I was off the phone, Luke refused to go back down on the ground. He did his koala bear impression by gripping my body with both his arms and legs and not letting go. When I realized I wasn't going to be able to talk him down, I leaned over so that his little back was on the ground and yanked his little tentacles off my shoulders and waist. As he screamed at me and I yelled at him it dawned on me:

Annie has not had her COFFEE!!

I'm not one of those people who you can't talk to in the morning until they've had a caffeine infusion. I'm a happy alert morning person. I wake up early, even without an alarm clock, even on a lazy Saturday morning (not the most attractive trait, unfortunately, if you happen to be dating me--I've been told). But coffee is a natural part of my mornings usually. I've always just assumed that it was because I love coffee, not because I need coffee. I thought I could stop any time. I thought that a busy morning could be accomplished without chemical aids. I thought that I was in control of both my mind and body. I thought all of this, and I was terribly wrong.

I've rectified my caffeine deficit. I'm feeling much better. Luke has forgiven me for dumping him on his cute little ass. All is right with the world.



Technorati Tags: , , Coffee

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Unfortunate Exclamations

Yes, Luke has had a pretty bad diaper rash for about a week now. And yes, it was mainly caused by the consumption of way too many strawberries that the G. family had picked themselves over the weekend at a farm on Long Island. And yes, it's a nice thing to see that the rash is clearing up and the diarrhea is gone.

But none of that excused this statement which I hope to never utter again:

"Wow, Lukey, those are some attractive looking poopies!"



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So Jealous!!

Through the strange, sick little world that the internet creates for us all (or, alternatively, through the strange, sick little world my hedonistic, morning-sangria consuming friends creates for moi) I found MetroDad: Poppycock from a Cocky Pop. This man is a real life Grup, no question about it. This is how he describes himself:
I'm just a 35 year-old NYC guy writing about his journey into fatherhood. . . . Ever since I found out my wife was pregnant with our daughter, I've spent countless nights contemplating how to raise a beautiful, kind, intelligent, well-adjusted child in New York City. And also trying to figure out how to do that while retaining our hedonistic lifestyle. . . . Though I'm entering my late 30's, I can still rip backhands down the line, hit a curveball, ski the bumps, shoot in the low 90's and rain 3-pointers. At the same time, I'm starting to forget things, I can't see my ass without my glasses and I've most definitely lost the ability to party on back-to-back nights.
From just a quick perusal I found it to be really well written and the kid is just so damned cute as to make checking back on a regular basis an imperative!

One of his recent posts was about this New York Magazine article about parents who have contracted to have tree houses built for their children and paid six-figure prices for them.


I know that I'm supposed to be totally against this kind of gross materialism, but I simply can't work up to that. These things look so cool that my overwhelming emotion is jealousy. I want one!! I'll trade my tiny apartment right now and gladly "rough it" in one of those "tree houses" any day.



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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Productivity

How did you spend your morning? Did you file an expense report? Get four loads of laundry done? Come up with a great idea to solve that big problem your whole project team has been obsessing over? Good for you!

Guess what I did this morning? Can't guess, well here's a visual clue:


Yup, for forty-five minutes this morning I stood out in the rain with two enraptured little boys. Drew and Luke love the trash truck and today we stumbled upon trash/dump truck nirvana.


We stood on Greenwich Street and watched this particular trash truck pick up, lift, dump and then put back seven dumpsters! Each time the truck would lift one we would all chant "Up! Up! Up!" and when it reached its apex we switched to "Dump! Dump! Dump!"


The general consensus, especially once the truck left and we engaged in some serious puddle jumping, was that it was one of the most productive mornings we've had in quite some time.


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Thinking about Design

Those of you who are frequent visitors to this site have noticed that over the past week I've switched my template several times. I'm unhappy with the options that Blogger is giving me and limited by my own ignorance when it comes to web design. Therefore, I've decided to seek outside help. (Thanks JGS for the tip, I've always like the look of Two Okapis so I've contacted Ciao! My Bella to begin my design search.) So, expect to see continual changes here until I find something I'm happy with.

This weekend I picked up the first copy of Blueprint: Design Your Life, a new Martha Stewart magazine. For the record, I'm a Martha fan, and no indictment or guilty verdict will change my enjoyment of her various media outputs (except that pet guy, he kinda freaks me out). The magazine, like many these days, is basically a shopping guide. It even includes a leaf of nice graph paper so that you can "design your life" which I think roughly translates to "jot down what you simply cannot live without". That, however, doesn't really bother me. I consume a great deal of magazines, and mainly I don't do it for practical reasons. I do it because I love to fantasize about all the wonderful things I could do if I had more money, time, money, space, money, etc. Blueprint is definitely going to become one of my monthly must-reads.

Since I was already so primed to be thinking about design elements, I fell immediately and deeply in love with the font the magazine uses. It's called Fling and I could totally see a Nanny in New York masthead with that font over one of my pictures of the Tom Otterness sculptures in Rockefeller Park.

While looking into the font I found a great little blog called D.I.Y. Kids. The projects on the site look totally do-able, and use mostly materials and objects that we have on hand, which is a wonderful thing on a gross rainy day like today. Today we're going to try the watercolor masking tape squares. I'm not sure that Luke, Drew & I will actually get so far as to decoupage anything (can decoupage be an active verb?) but they're totally into the idea of making our own stickers.


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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July

Perhaps it is odd that this is only occurring to me now, but I realized today that I have given precious little time on this blog to mentioning one of the best parts of my job. It's not the wonderful experience of watching four beautiful children grow and learn. It's not the intense feeling of contributing to something larger than myself. No, one of the best parts of my job is that at the end of the day, I leave those beautiful children behind.


This came home to me as I lounged this evening watching the fireworks light up the cloudy New York skyline. I watched them with adults, good friends, none of whom wanted a juice box in the middle of the show, or who needed suddenly and inexplicably to go to the potty.


It's strange that my affection for the G. children, at times, is only equaled by the relief I feel at the end of a day's work when I get to leave the cacophony that the house sometimes becomes. One day, one day the children will in fact be my own, and then I suppose that I will be so blinded by love that I won't mind the fact that there is no escape, no end to the job that is motherhood. For now, however, I'm no glad to be simply the nanny, and enjoy my noisy, explosive entertainments in the peace a quiet that can only be achieved outside of a four-child household.



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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Time for a Change

For a while now I've been wanting to update my blog's look. Unfortunately I'm only moderately computer literate, and not at all literate when it comes to web design and HTML. So, it seems I'm stuck with the existing blogger templates because all of the sites that generate templates from your own photos and content selections end up looking quite messy.

I'm happy with this new template, however, and if you like it as well you should check out Blogger Templates where you'll find a nice selection of alternatives to the templates available on the Blogspot.com.

Maybe I'll make another stab at learning to design at least my own banner to celebrate my 100th post. (This is 75, so I've got a little time to work with.) In the meantime, let me know what you think about the new look of NINY.

Thanks!



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