Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I'm a Nanny

Dear Readers,

In my attempts for you to know me, at least on some level, I'm going to dedicate several posts to the different aspects of my life. I wear many hats both literally (I own about 30) and figuratively. I'd like you to know many of them, mostly the figurative ones. This is the first of those posts.

I am a nanny. Now, go figure right after the post where I explicitly say I'm not a mother and therefore children are not going to be the focal point of my blog, I go and tell you that I take care of children on a regular basis. But they are not mine, nor are they the point that I'm trying make. I'm going to be a little narcissistic here and remind you that this is about me.

For those of you who know me, and lets face it, this early in the blogging game most of you who do read this do know me, wouldn't be surprised if I told you I have always been good with kids and having been waiting to become a mother my entire life. But if I told you that, it would be a bold faced lie. Yes, I have been working with kids and taking care of kids since before I even entered my teen years. I started watching a family of four before my 12th birthday. But to be honest, I didn't love it. I was bored when I worked with kids. I would count down the minutes until I could go home. And I liked the children, most of them anyway, but I didn't really know what I was doing. When I started helping my mom with my church's after school program, I was impatient. I yelled. I let the annoying ones get to me. And I began to wonder if I would ever really enjoy being around children, yet I still decided to work at a summer camp where I would be with children 24/7. When I was a camp counselor, I tended not to count down the minutes because there was very little to count down to. One day off on the weekend and counting down weeks would mean counting down the summer. I did somehow enjoy working at camp. I didn't always know what I was doing, but I had grown. And I knew I liked the older kids, but the problem was that I wanted to be their friend more that their counselor. And when I tried to bring discipline neither 2nd grader nor teen took me seriously. Once I was the camp counselor for someone who was a couple years behind me at my high school, and boy, that did not go too well. With the younger kids, I just yelled because what else could I do? I was pretty convinced that I'd never ever take care of children for a living, and was on the edge about ever becoming a mother. There were days when I just threw that idea right out the window.

But things changed. We were just going along with our wild hippie lifestyles, and my best friend unexpectedly got pregnant. And then Abby entered my world. I fell in love. I didn't love her because she was a cute baby or because she was just so little. Though both were true. For the first time a child entered my life and changed it. Abby was light in a very dark and confusing world. Making her smile was something I looked forward to each time I would visit her and her mom. Watching her grow into this beautiful little person, a person with thoughts and feelings and strengths and weaknesses was like magic. And knowing I had influenced her in some way was one reason I wanted to become a better person.

Since Abby was born in April of 2007, I have had many children come into my life whom I love dearly. My adorable nephew and a niece. Three beautiful little boys who capture my heart every Sunday, and sometimes during the week. Dozens of children at the daycare where I worked, where I learned patience, where I learned not to yell, and where I learned the heartbreak of good byes. And then I became a nanny.

And for the past year and a half I have loved and cared for two kids who both stole my heart and drove me crazy. I have supported their parents in raising their rambunctious kids so they could become smart and caring people. I helped Z learn how to read. I taught W how to be a good sport in games. I took them to playgrounds where they learned how to pump on the swings and to the Museum of Play where pretended to be super heroes. I learned their friends names and met many of them. I told them weird but interesting facts about animals and human anatomy. I hung upside down on the couch like a bat with them. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia to them in an English accent. I made them happy with surprises and Angry Birds Star Wars and mad when I told them no. And now that time is over. Both of them are in school full time now, and I had to say good bye again. I have had to say good bye to so many children, but this was the hardest of all. Because for 4-7 hours a day, 2-3 days a week I belonged only to them, and they belonged only to me. They were family in a time of my life when family couldn't be with me everyday. They made me a better person.

My life as a nanny is not over though. There are more children to love, and I have more love to give. Now I take care of an infant who is brand new and beautiful and challenges me in new ways. Her mother has been a source of love and support to me for over four years now and this is one way that I can offer that love and support back. And I look forward to every moment that I get to spend with Liv. Even though I know this is another temporary situation since her mommy is not going to work forever, I am excited to watch her learn and grow and do some learning and growing right along side her. And the amazing about Liv is that even though I won't be watching her for the long haul, I won't have to say good bye.

I won't always be a nanny. I may not even be a nanny for very much longer, but children still seem magical to me. They will always be part of my life.

With Love,

Monday, August 26, 2013

Let's rock this Reboot!

Dear Readers,
Would you believe that I've had writer's block for the past year and few months? No? Would you believe that it was my intention to take a long hiatus in order to better appreciate the world? No? Well, I wouldn't believe it either. The reality is that I've been lazy. If my life has been uninteresting and not worth talking about, it's been my fault. Though, that's not really true either. But I've been an uninterested person for a while. In a funk the past few months. And really stressed the past many months. But lately I've been inspired. To share my life, my insight. To reboot my blog and create a masterpiece which explores opinion, creative thought, and hopefully shared experience. Now, it won't be a masterpiece because I'm an incredibly talented writer, but because it can't be recreated. I've been inspired by one blog in particular which everyone in the blog world knows. And in my own way, I'd like to do the same. You see, my first introduction to blogs were ones about married Christian mommies. Not that I don't love married Christian mommies. Some of my closest friends are married, Christian, and/or mommies, but I'm not married nor am I a mommy. I don't do diy craft/home improvement projects. I don't home school anyone. And the juggling that I do is very different than the juggling of married Christian mommies. Though I don't juggle bowling pins or tennis balls either . So when I first entered the blog world I became very frustrated because I didn't know where to go to find something else. Something relatable for me. Until I found everyone's favorite single dad, Dan Pearce. He's a dad, sure. But he's single. He's not crafty. He's controversial. And though his blog is called Single Dad Laughing, the entire blog is not focused on his role as a father. I don't have anything against those blogs that mainly focus on married life and rearing up children. But unless you're a close friend or family member, I'm not your audience. So the question for me was how can I connect with people the way Dan Pearce does? It's the thought I've had for a few weeks now. I don't want to do this for the purpose of getting an audience, but I really want to connect with the audience I have. To start, you need to know me. Well, that's a lot of work, but over time I think I'll be able to successfully let you know who I am through my blog. Then, I want to provoke some thoughts. You can agree with me or disagree with me, but I think as long as we're all civil about it we'll get along just fine. And through it all I want to laugh with you. Laughing is truly one of my very favorite past times. So here we are at the start of something new and exciting. Lets rock this thing!
With Love,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Before You Kick the Bucket

Dear Readers,
After an incredibly long and unintentional blogging hiatus, I am back.  I think that everyone should have a bucket list.  I don't think that they should be tools that discourage us when we've realized that we didn't accomplish everything in life that we wanted, but something to help motivate us to live big and never stop.  We'll never accomplish all we want, and we could be taken tomorrow, but it's never wrong to have something to aim for.  Let's dream big!  I've never written one, but I figure my blog is the place to do it.  Here goes.

Study the Bible with someone alongside my discipleship partner, Stephanie
Randomly approach a woman, and spend time getting to know her heart
Write a novel
Star in a musical
Take a dance class
Meet one or more of the following women: Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Tina Fey, Lisa Kudrow, Ellen DeGeneras, Jennifer Aniston, or Zooey Deschanel
Run a 5K
Design and make a dress
Learn how to play the guitar
Draw a portrait of every person in my spiritual family and family of origin
Take voice lessons
Watch all the Star Wars movies in a row in one day
Get a tattoo
Paint a mural on a wall in my future home
Sing a solo accompanied by an orchestra
Come up with a groovy catch phrase that really catches on
Go on an unlimited shopping spree at Target
Go to the Harry Potter world at Universal Studios and get my own wand from Ollivanders
Ride the Ride of Steel at Darien Lake (scared out of my mind to)
Eat a slice of New York style pizza in New York City
Read Lord of the Rings
Take an exercise class
Read the entire Bible all the way through in a year
Do a cleanse
Have over 100 followers

I am sure if I really spent the time, the list could go on and on.  I challenge you to do the same.  Yes, we really need to focus on today and the moment.  Scripture says not to worry about tomorrow, but this is not worrying.  It's dreaming.  It is looking forward to the adventures of life.  It is giving us another reason to face the challenges of today with our chin up.  Have fun friends and stay cheery.
With Love,

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Resurrection

Dear Readers,
I don't celebrate Easter.  There, I said it.  For those of you who know of my faith, but are not part of my fellowship, this may come as an immense shock to you.  Where does this crazy notion of a Christian not celebrating Easter come from?  You might ask.  It goes back just over three years.  One thing that many people know about me is that I'm nutty for random information and facts, and that I love to know as much as I can about everything.  I have spent many a free afternoon and late night exploring Wikipedia.  One very interesting chain quest I found myself on landed me on the Easter page.  This very accessible article contained some very disturbing information that left my stomach churning.  My favorite holiday of all time, the one that celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ, was named after Eostre, an Anglo Saxon pagan goddess of Spring.  Why?  Why would the Christians do this?  Why would that name the most important day of the Christian calendar after a pagan goddess?  To confirm this information I took a cyber journey to find more trustworthy articles not only to discover that my findings were true, but that there was more to the story.  A common practice of the post 3rd century Christian church was to take Roman and Anglo Saxon pagan rituals and traditions and adapt them into Christianity to attract and appease new converts.  I was appalled.

Very shortly after I found out this information, Easter came.  I sat there in my protestant church completely torn.  I know these people are here to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and I know that even among the many traditions rooted in Paganism that came with celebrating Easter like eggs and bunnies, that I was taught in my home the real reason we celebrate.  But something just didn't feel right.  I chose to accept things as they were because I didn't know what else to do.  I figured as long as Christ was the center of my heart on the day, it didn't really matter what it was called.  And that was okay for then.  But a few months later my eyes were opened even more.  I moved to Rochester, as a previous post states, and learned so much about Christ and myself.  My life changed from trying to cling to my struggling faith, to having a firm foundation centered on Christ.  And with this enlightening, I realized that I couldn't do things as I had always done.  Easter had lost it's meaning for me.  And I felt lost with it.  I wanted so much to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, but what did that look like now?

So I went on a new rampage of cyber information searching, and also asking people I trusted.  And then of course I looked in scripture, which should have been the first place to look.  One thing I found out is that the Apostles did in fact celebrate the Resurrection.  First of all, they celebrated it every Sunday with the Eucharist which is something I now do.  Second of all, they too celebrated even more specially on specific day a year, and that day was the same as day as Easter.  This is because Easter always falls on the week of the Pesach or Passover, a choice made by the church which conveniently most often coincided with the month of Eostre, the goddess, April.  After all, the death and resurrection took place during Pesach.  And this had so much more significance than I could have ever thought.

So the Passover became of interest to me, which to be honest it kind of always had.  But there was still so much to discover about the Passover.  And now after knowing about it for over two years, I couldn't imagine seeing it the other way.  For Christians, the Passover is all about the death and resurrection of Christ.  The Passover is a week of celebration commanded by God for the Jews.  It is a memorial to the time when the Jews were in Egypt and to be save from the wrath of God's plague they sacrificed a lamb, spread its blood on the door post, and were saved from the death of their first born.  Then they were freed from Egypt.  In the Christian belief, Christ was the last sacrifice that was made.  He was the perfect Passover lamb.  On the day after the Sabbath, He rose from the dead to show that He conquered sin and death.  The day after Sabbath during Pesach is called First Fruits, the day in which the first and best of the produce that year would be sacrificed.  To me, the significance of this is mind blowing.  Not to mention the Afikomen which is part of the Sedar meal being wrapped in linens and hidden.  When the youngest child finds it, he or she receives a gift, just as when we find the risen Messiah we find eternal life.  The Afikomen is Matzo, and its appearance is bruised, pierced, and without leaven (sin).  I could go on, but I won't.

In retrospect, do I celebrate Easter?  No, I don't.  Do I celebrate the Resurrection?  Absolutely.  With every Sunday gathering and Eucharist.  With each Resurrection Sunday, First Fruits, and Passover Sedar.  I do, with all of my heart.  And I don't care if you celebrate Easter.  Each person has to come to their conviction about it, but I do know that if I'm going to celebrate Christ, He is going to be the only thing I celebrate.

With Love,

It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations. Exodus 12:42

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March, Really?

Dear Readers,
An example of literary journalism for my creative writing class:

The most dreary of all months is the very last of all the dreary months. Is that ironic? March. So leafless, so colorless. Much that covers the ground almost makes one wish for snow, but that is backwards. Backward to the lifeless winter that no matter the temperature always causes ones heart to long for spring. This month, of all months aches the most. The geese fly over our heads likely wondering to themselves, “Did we come back too soon?”

However, in the darkness of winter’s last hoorah, a hope for the inevitable seeps in, ready to sprout buds, push back the clouds, and open the doors of hibernation. We know it’s coming.

So now we are in mid March which is so often a time of heavy anticipation, as if millions of Upstate New Yorkers are carrying huge bricks, waiting to be able to set them down and relax. This year is so incredibly different though. It seems that there is little to be anticipated. A strange foreign feeling of warm breezes have already grazed the skin of our arms. The sun has shone its light, bursting forth and embracing the earth. “I missed you” it says. The grass has slowly begun to transform from the dull brown green of winter’s wrath to bright, bold shades reaching for the sky. The temperate climate of New York is more pleasant than the consistent climate of California cities like San Diego and San Fransisco. Geese are flying over wondering if they came to late? “Perhaps we are still flying over North Carolina” they say. The clear night skies lead the way to late star gazing which satisfies the soul and yet still makes us yearn for eternity. The poor skiers have wondered so longingly, “Where has our winter gone?” This year they never really had it. The anticipation of Spring’s awakening is already a thing of the past.

But is it? There is still a sense of longing because as beautiful as the weather is, something just doesn’t seem right. The weather is beautiful, but the outdoors as a view is still so ugly really. When Spring comes in March there is one thing lost in our memories. And even with birds chirping their happy tune, there is still an emptiness in the early March Spring. Nothing is in bloom. There are no flowers, no leaves, no new plants making their way out of the cold ground. The beauty of the earth has not yet shone its face. The wellness of colors and smells are yet to be enjoyed, melting our hearts and causing us to fall in love. The trees are not yet clothed in their formal suits, giving them the appeal to sit under and read or to climb. So for those who have not forgotten what Spring is really about, there is still great anticipation. There is still magic yet to be seen.

With Love,

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.
Ephesians 1:18-19

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mind's Eye of Paradise

Dear Readers,

It was the first time I’d ever had sand between my toes that wasn’t filled with tiny sharp rocks that had caused me to have disdain for the beach. It was gorgeous. The sand was not white. It was not brown. It was not yellow. It was blond. The way my hair looks in the middle of the summer months, the scorching sun’s rays reflecting its face in each lock, each crystal of sand. It lay so perfectly that it conformed to every step of my foot and every curve of my back.
I could have slept for days if there had been no where else for me to go. But to keep my eyes closed would have been a sin. An ocean so cerulean blue my eyes could hardly take it all in. An ocean so clear that even from the lowest part of the ground you could see where the finite shallow world of sand ended and the everlasting bottomless deep began. I wondered about that world. About the life so deep in the earth that no human has ever laid eyes on it. Would living in that world feel free? Free from time and space that confined me to that small piece of paradise in those fleeting moments. But that world is dark and vicious. A waste land of prey hiding under rocks, buried in the earth. That was already a world I knew.
I forced those thoughts to escape me so I could bask in the sunlight and the warm bay waters. I took in the smell which pierced the nostrils. Had I not an awareness of my surroundings, I would have been fooled into thinking I was surrounded by thousands of pomegranate shrubs and Hibiscus flowers. The view of the surrounding vegetation was magnificent. Every shade of green imaginable surrounded the waters, the land hugging the sea. Olive, lime, teal, forest, apple, mint, jungle. It was all there gripping the blue expanse as if it too was trying to hold on to its little piece of paradise for as long as it could. It gave a new meaning to the phrase plant life. Every so often a color not within the green palette would burst forth, an explosion of red, pink, or orange as if exclaiming Costa Rican independence.
Freedom, independence. This thought would not leave my mind. In that precious breath of steam that I spent on that beach was but a reminder that I did not feel free myself. I watched it. I examined it from a point of view that I may never get to experience again, but I felt trapped. Not just by time and space. I felt trapped by my own insecurities. I was in the company of sunbathers and swimmers, some of whom I knew, some who may not have been able to appreciate the sight that was before. Though with my appreciation, the inclination my mind clung to was that I was the undeserving one. I sat in the ocean waves experiencing the ocean’s freedom, but I couldn’t help but feel out of place in it all. Alone. I felt as though I sat in the orchestra at a grand symphony, so close I could nearly feel the swell of air from the bassoon. But the company with whom I came, along with the rest of the audience, was sitting in the Mezzanene. There was no way to escape the familiarity of this feeling, even thousands of miles from home. I was stuck in the mud of my thoughts which blinded me to the goodness of my own heart, and to the experience which had been laid before me.
That moment is rekindled in my mind over and over again. It was a time that could have been magical, and I allowed a dark sadness to sweep over me. Though I have often in my memory chosen to acknowledge this account as purely paradise, I know deep within that this is not so. As I’ve grown into adulthood I know this more than ever. Perhaps it is because to call myself a different person than I was then would be quite an understatement. I never knew then the joy I know now or allowed myself to acquaint with peace. Those are simply traits that define me now. Or perhaps I have always hoped for the chance to know this paradise again. Without regret. To go back and to not just observe freedom, but experience freedom. Someday.

With Love,

For I know that the LORD is great
And that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does,
In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.
Psalm 135: 5-6

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Wall

Dear Readers,
I have another short story for you. It comes in the form of a letter from a mother to her daughter. Let me know what you think.

The Wall
by Mandy Jones

My Dearest Moriah,
Three days, four trains, and a boat ride later we have finally arrived. I can’t say it was all entirely unpleasant. You know how I love to see the French countryside, and I have never experienced anything quite like the Mediterranean Sea. Your father had quite a difficult time because of his sea sickness, but I think even he would say it was worth it.
The city at large is quite chaotic as expected. It helps me to realize that my decision in not bringing you was the best. Part of me wishes I had, but even though we are seen as tourists here there is still a danger that I would rather you not be exposed to. Perhaps when you turn 18, you and I can take a trip here, just the two of us. I think it would be good for you to see some of your own family history. Now, as you well know you were named after your great grandmother, but I wonder if you know that she was named after the place where Abraham was blessed by the angel of the Lord. It is also argued that it might be the place of the Temple Mount. It is a beautiful name, and I hope you know that with your heart.
Yesterday we took our first trip into Old Jerusalem. I can’t tell you how much meaning it had to know that I was walking in the footsteps of our ancestors. And not just our Jewish ancestors on Bubbi Moriah’s side, but the generations of Christians that are behind us as well. To walk the dirty streets where Jesus walked is awe inspiring. But I came here for Bubbi, and for your grandmother.
It was Bubbi’s dream to come here, and even though I’m thankful she never had to see the destruction of the war or had to be taken away from her home or have to watch the deaths of her children, I so wish she could be here with me now. Perhaps on some level she is.
I think this morning is when I missed Bubbi and my mum the most. We went to the wall at the Temple Mount. The western wall is all that is left of the second temple, and so Jewish people from all around the world come here laying their hands on the wall, praying and weeping. The sight of it all is heart wrenching. It is the only remanence of the second temple, and it’s not even part of the temple. It was the wall of the outward court. To be Jewish, and to know that the place that was once the home of God is not only destroyed, but overtaken by another religion that your people have been in conflict with for thousands of years is a truly morbid thought. As I approached the wall I began to tremble. Your father supported my steps, and then I knelt at the stone structure. An old man was kneeling about 10 feet to the left of me. He wore a beautiful shawl on his shoulders, not unlike the one my grandfather used to wear. The tears poured down his face. A familiar sound came from his mouth. It was a Hebrew blessing, not unlike the ones your grandmother would speak to me before I went to sleep as a small child. He was so passionate that I couldn’t help but envy him. His heart. I prayed silently. I didn’t feel like I had been there long at all, but it was close to an hour before I opened my eyes again. Your father never let go of my hand the entire time.
Leaving the old city was very intimidating. There were many Palestinian guards all over the place. They all seemed to look at us with contempt. Did they know we were English? Did they know I had Jewish ancestry? It was as if we had been suspected of some great crime. Every Muslim woman I passed looked at me as if she was looking right into my soul. I thought to myself that they must be brave. To live in this world where they are in constant war. To submit to it under the leadership of the men.
I still wonder if leaving England so early on was cowardly knowing my mum was in France, but she was stubborn. It was one of the things I cherished so much about her. Besides, she would have been devastated if she thought that her only grandchild was anywhere near London during the air raids. I hope you know how much she loved you, and how much your father and I love you now. It’s funny to think that in my heart I see so many similarities between my mum and these Muslim women. The bravery, the loss, the devotion. She would be appalled. I’m afraid that is one area where your grandmother lacked, understanding for others.
Anyway, there is still so much to see. You will hear from us in a few days. After a week here to explore the Holy Land, we’ll travel back north to Greece. I can’t wait to come home and tell you all about it, and to spend the rest of the summer with you my darling. Give your auntie our love. You are in our hearts.

Your Mum (and Dad)

Hope you enjoyed it!

With Love,

"You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”
Exodus 15: 17-18