Children are the best medicine

Hi all! I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the last month. It has been the busiest, most stressful, scariest part of my life, with high highs (making the deans list) and very low lows (almost losing my mom). Through it all one thing has held constant, the love and joy I have when being around all my babies.

IMG_2435

It all began with my crazy course load this semester and having a final on the 23rd of December!! I was frustrated and defeated after studying for weeks. Then the night before a super tough final, Ruby spent the night at my house. No it may not have been the best way to study (try studying media ethics while playing princesses), but it was just the medicine I needed that week. I put her to bed in my room, and when I went to bed I captured this peaceful, precious moment. Ruby sound asleep under the Christmas tree I have slept under all my life 🙂IMG_2836

Following that was the holidays which are always crazy busy, but in the best way possible! That meant family parties, dinners, seeing my babies, and attempting to decompress from a difficult semester. I had 3 family Christmas parties in 3 days. So much fun, but so exhausting. Ruby and I spent on day going to visit Santa Claus, and it was perfection. Watching the magic of Christmas expressed in her eyes and words was so much fun. I was reminded why this time of year is so special to so many, the magic and hope brought from the holidays in and of itself is calming. Then of course I had to play Santa Nanny and visit all my babies and give them their presents! One present was a date night with my boyfriend (or Ruby’s boyfriend as she calls him), another was a tie blanket, and for another family, my all time favorite children’s princess movie ENCHANTED. Visiting them and being able to put a smile on their faces was the perfect way to unwind

After all the parties ended and things calmed down I had a minute to breathe- not very easily. I had come down with a cold a day after all the crazy ended. So my usual coping mechanisms of baby cuddles was off the table. I spent 5 days in bed watching Netflix (Damages is amazing!) and getting updates on how all my babies Christmas’ were 🙂 While in bed one day I got an email saying I made the Dean’s List! Given how hard my semester was I was hoping just to pass, so this was unbelievable. I was going into the first week of January on a high. Everything was going perfectly, and I had a trip to Chicago with my boyfriend in a few days to look forward to.

Then the unthinkable happened. The scariest moment of my life. I got a call that my mom was being taken, via an ambulance, to the hospital because she had had a brain bleed.IMG_3185 Everything stopped. My heart stopped. My mom, my best friend, my person was in danger of losing her life. After a very long night and copious amounts of tests, we were given the news that she was no longer in immediate danger. She needed to be hospitalized for a week because there was still blood in her brain which is obviously not good. I learned a lot in those first few days. I learned how strong I can be in the face of uncertainty. I learned every technical medical term known to man kind related to my mom’s brain bleed 🙂 and I learned how lucky I am to have such amazing support system. Of course my dad, brother, boyfriend, best friends, and extended family were there for me, but beyond that the families I work for were there for anything I needed. It was not only through the calls and texts I received about being there for me, but the flowers they sent to my mom and well wishes and offers for food or anything for me and my family. It was truly amazing. What I told most of them I wanted was to come babysit for a few hours and watch their kids as a little distraction and comfort 🙂

All and all my mom is on the mend and doing better. The uncertainty is scary, but I know if I ever need anyone to talk to I can call any one of the moms I work for and they would be there for me in a second. The relationships I have formed with the families I work for is an undoubtable blessing. Getting to spend time with all of the kids in my life is the best medicine and cure for any hopeless, scary situation. One moment spent with one of them and I am reminded of the wonder, innocence, and joy there is in every moment of life. After almost a week in the hospital my mom is back home recovering. I have spent the whole last week at home hanging out with her while she tries to get back to normal. Once Friday rolled around I couldn’t spend another week without my Ruby. It was the perfect day. Ruby, my mom, and I spent the morning together having breakfast, laughing, and playing. Seeing my mom getting back to being herself and joking around with Ruby was a moment I will never forget. All I need to be happy in life is my mom and my babies 🙂 (and my boyfriend, and dog, and best friends, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins… you get the picture).

 

I have some big things planned for The Nanny Guide this year so stay tuned! As always thank you for taking the time to read my blog 🙂

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2016

The Giving Season: My Holiday Gift Guide on a Budget

Hi all! Happy Tuesday! With Christmas right around the corner I thought I would put together a list of my go-to gifts for kids, family, friends, nanny bosses, etc that are all budget friendly:)

Christmas is my most favorite time of year! I think it is magical and perfect in every way. Giving someone a gift that they will love and use is very important to me. Now that I am spending my own hard earned money (that could go to groceries & gas) on gifts for everyone on my list I’ve tried to get a little more thrifty. When buying gifts for my family I am willing to spend more so they are less of a concern. My main problem comes to buying gifts for all my tiny humans I like to make feel special this time of year! With 8 kiddos I like to buy for I have had to find ways to keep my spending under control. While it may be tempting to buy your kid the new latest and greatest LEGO set, with my college nanny budget $50 for one gift is not going to fly. This time of year it can be hard to buy for others as well. Those including cousins, friends, aunts /uncles, and nanny bosses. Those people who are important to you add up. I have found instead of ignoring those groups of people all together set a small budget like you do for the kiddos are stick to that. These are some of my go-to gifts and helpful tricks I use to make holiday shopping easier on the budget and mind 🙂

 

My Tips to Stay on Budget 

Check the Target Cartwheel App. I am not a loyal user of this app because I don’t think you save that much. BUT recently I’ve realized if you look, you can find great deals on things you may be interested in buying for gifts. Last week Disney Princess costumes were 50% off. I’ve also seen LEGO sets on sale. They have books, movies, toys, crafts, and other things that may be on your list. It is definitely worth checking it out before you go make you gift purchases.

Keep eyes open for toys/gifts on sale year round. This is something I do mainly for gifts I am going to buy my nanny kiddos. Throughout the year when Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, and other kid stores have things on sale I buy them then and then save them for Christmas. I found a Cinderella Barbie carriage for Ruby in September for $20 (originally $40). This can work for friends and family too. If you see something in July you think your friend Rachel will love, get it! Bring it home and just put it somewhere you will remember!! You don’t want December 22nd to come and have to tear your house apart to find it 🙂

Shop at the Target $1 spot or $3 spot. This is for kids especially (nieces, nephews, nanny kids, stocking stuffers, cousins, friends kids)! Kids can’t tell whether something they get was only $1. These days the $1 spot at Target has some great things! Everything from Minions to Disney Princess to Elmo. Take advantage of this area and use that as small little gifts to go with a bigger one, or buy a few of the little things and that can be their gift! It is the fact that you thought about the kid and something to get them that matters.

Set a budget for how much you want to spend. And stick to it! If you only have $10 to spend on each person, that is okay! Don’t feel pressure to go overboard because others are. You can get some great stuff for a small amount of money these days. Take advantage of sales, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal, check out your local Dollar Store, or make something! These days handmade gifts (like candles or cocoa mix in a bag) are just as special. Just make sure you take your time and make it nice by adding little details, like ribbons.

Here are some of my go-to gifts for kids, friends, nanny bosses, and family!

Gifts for kids t300_8a654cc96f475ac3c6c93a8a17a69fc115716281

  • Melissa and Doug Sticker Books $5
  • Mini Lego Sets $5 – $10
  • Fleece Tie Blankets: This is particular one of my favorites. I gave one to a girl I have watched for a long time a couple years ago, and she still sleeps with it every night 🙂 Something as simple as a blanket can mean so much to a child because it reminds them you love them. If you look out for sales on fleece at your local fabric store this can be an inexpensive gift! It just takes some time to make.
  • Framed picture of the two of you: You can embellish the frame to with stickers and jewels.
  • Hot Cocoa Mix in a Bag: All you need is cellophane bags, cocoa powder, sugar, powdered sugar, and a pinch salt. Here a link to an easy recipe! Pour desired amount of mix in cellophane bag. Add mini marshmallows to the top and seal with ribbon!
  • Fun outing with just you two: Kids love to feel special and celebrated. Give them the gift of your time. Tell them to pick a fun thing to do and restaurant to go to together. Then do it around Christmas time. Maybe buy something special while your out to remember your happy day together.
  • Scrapbook: This is very time consuming and costs more than the others, BUT it is one of the most thoughtful and meaningful gifts you can give. I handmade one for Ruby at the end of our summer together. She and her parents love it! It makes me so happy to look back at them when I am there on Fridays now. It’s a physical reminder of your time together. While I took the long route of making each page by hand, there are now much more efficient options online. Check out Snapfish or Whalgreens!

 

Gifts for nanny friends/cousins 

  • Anthropologie coffee mug with letter $8: I give these out a lot and sometimes add homemade hot cocoa in a bag to put in the middle of the cup. It makes for a nice yet inexpensive gift!
  • Bath and body works deals: There are usually tons of sales at Bath and Body works. They have the buy 3 lotions get 2 free a lot so take advantage of that! You can get 5 gifts for friends/family for the price of 3!
  • Lush Bath Bomb $5 – $9
  • Framed picture of you two (embellish the frame)
  • Homemade spa stuff: There are lots of recipes of these online. I received some form one of my cousins last year and it was amazing!

Gifts for nanny boss

  • Handmade art by their kid (mistle toes, handprint)
  • Candle: Easy to find at Target, Bath and Body works, etc
  • Personalized ornament: Head to your local mall and get an ornament personalized with all the family members names on it. This is an easy, meaningful gift that parents enjoy.
  • Ornament in general: If there is a special ornament out there that you think would be meaningful to the parents get that! This year Ruby, I, and her mom were 3 Disney princesses for Ruby’s birthday. So I decided to get Ruby and her mom an ornament of each princess we were to forever have that memory.
  • A calendar full of pictures of the kid: I highly suggest this gift! I made one for only $13 with shipping and Ruby’s mom LOVES it. Right now on Snapfish you can make one for $8!! It is a very thoughtful and meaningful gift. I got all of the pictures of their family from Facebook and pictures I had of Ruby so it was a fun surprise for her mom. It is pretty easy to do these with helpful websites like Snapfish or Shutterfly or Whalgreens! More often than not they have sales going on so make your calendar and then order while there is a sale! Check all 3 to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

IMG_3370

In the end what really matters when giving a gift is the thought you put into it. You don’t need to spend $100 to show someone you love them. I hope you find this list helpful! Merry Christmas to all of you 🙂

xoxo Kelly

 

The Giving Season: Love Your Melon

I am going to do a few gift giving ideas this holiday season, each with it’s own tie to helping kids in need. I started with American Girl and now up is Love Your Melon.

Love Your Melon is an amazing company started by Minnesota college students. Their mission is to put a hat on every child battling cancer. When you buy a hat, they donate a hat. It simple. Buy one, give one. These beanies and hats are super cute and affordable hats. They have a few different style of hats they sell. Some will keep your ears warm in the freezing cold winter, and others will provide shade from the sun on the hot summer days. The also have shirts and accessories on their site.

They come in a wide array of colors as well. These make perfect gifts for anyone on your list. They are super popular with college kids- I see them all over my campus. I have one and love it! I am planning on giving some as gifts to my cousins and friends this holiday season. Parents: They are a perfect gift for your nanny this holiday as well or your children! Nannies: they are a perfect gift for friends and family members! Who wouldn’t want to buy a cute, nice gift and help a sick child at the same time? Sounds perfect to me. Also ALL of their products are made in the US. Another added benefit to buying something from them. They keep it all within our borders and provide jobs for people in the US.

93b624c7ff01d553132b6e7894f94b87

A little more on Love Your Melon… Besides On delivery day local college kids who work for the company deliver hats to children in the hospital in superhero costumes! Which is such a great idea to brighten the lives of these sick children. They are a business run mainly by students on college campuses who want to make a difference, which I think is remarkable. It is so great to see college students working together, across the country to make a difference in the lives of sick children.

Brian_and_Zach_on_Superhero_Adventure_900

Check out their website here. Order yours today and make a difference in the lives of children!

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015

Photos from: loveyourmelon.com and pinterist

Creative Play: The Making of Princess Street

Hello Nannies and Parents! I will warn you that this post is a long one but it features 2 how to art projects, play tips, and storage tips! Also with the upcoming holiday aka CHRISTMAS this could make for a great gift for your little Lego/ block lover this year 🙂

The idea for Princess Street began one day during nap time as I was staring at the hap hazardous mess of Disney Princess Legos and Duplos strewn all across the living room floor. Ruby had fallen in love with Legos after a trip to Barnes and Noble. She got hooked on the Disney Princess sets. So she earned each one as rewards for helping around the house or doing something special. As we acquired more and more of these adorable sets I realized we had no real, good place to play with them. When we played on the carpet it was too hard to put them together. When we played on the hardwood floors they slipped all around. So I was left with a challenge to figure out the perfect place to play with these great Lego sets. I looked at Target for the green Lego squares that can hold Legos down, but those were $20 for one! So then I started thinking about how to solve this problem. Lego Friends has a play mat for the Heartlake city where all the girls are from. You can put the Juice Shop along one street and Emma’s House on the next. I then figured out something like that would solve this problem. However I searched all over the internet and nothing like this exists for Disney Princesses. There is no play mat or anything that can make a princess neighborhood. This baffled me because as Ruby always say “but Kelly I don’t want to play with just one. All my princesses are best friends and want to live by each other.” It was then I knew I needed to make my own Disney Princess neighborhood. So I took to brainstorming how this might be possible. After work that day I went to Michael’s craft store and walked around and around and finally figured out exactly what I was going to do. It took time and love but the finished product was totally worth it. Take a look inside Princess Street 🙂

As you can see Princess Street has evolved as Ruby has grown. It began with the Disney Princess Lego Duplo sets, and now holds the Disney Princess Lego sets and a house we created on our own from Target. That is the beauty of Princess Street, it can become anything you want it to. We reorganize it and design it each time we take it out. We have also come up with a neat and organized way to store it all. Below are the instructions on how to make and store your own Princess Street (or Lego City, Superhero Lane, or any other neighborhood your kiddo wants!):

What you will need: 

  • 2 Foam Poster Boards (found at Target, Michael’s, Walgreens, etc)
  • 3D Puff Paint (various colors that pertain to your theme, found at any craft store)
  • Curved Road Stencil (I made mine out of thick cardstock)
  • Duct Tape (color doesn’t matter because you can’t see it)
  • Stickers (pertaining to your theme, ours is princess of course!)

How to make:

  1. Lay the 2 boards on the floor side by side.
  2. Draw your stencil however you want your road to be. I wanted ours to curve so I drew it that way. Cut your stencil out of your thick paper.
    IMG_2160
  3. Place your stencil where you want the road to be. Hold in place and trace around. Do the same on the other board.
  4. Use marker or puff paint to outline the road and make marks along the lanes.
  5. Use puff paint to write the name of the neighborhood. We chose Princess Street.
  6. Let dry COMPLETELY. Usually 2 hours will do. Keep child away! As you can see on the back of mine I messed up and didn’t wait long enough 🙂
  7. Add details to the neighborhood, like a pond or garden with makers. We chose to have 2 ponds because in the beginning we had 2 Ariel Lego sets and of course both needed to be in the water!
  8. Decorate with stickers where you want.
  9. Once the front is done and dry, flip them over and place duct tape along the edges connecting the two boards. Put a good amount on. This will help reinforce the middle of the boards. Only put the tape on one side though, otherwise it own’t be able to fold up for easy storage.
  10. Set up your Lego sets how you would like and enjoy!

The Disney Princess Lego sets we have featured on our Princess Street are Sleeping Beauty’s Royal Bedroom, Jasmine’s Exotic Palace, Ariel’s Magical Kiss, Cinderella’s Romantic Castle, Cinderella’s Dream Carriage, and Rapunzel’s Creativity Tower. We also have the Lego Duplo Disney Princess Collection featuring Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel.

All and more can be found HERE!

How to Make Your Own House:

As you can see we added a non Lego house to our street. I’m sure you all know Lego sets are expensive! Ruby loves Princess Street so much and wanted more and more to fill up the neighborhood, so instead of buying another expensive Lego set we ventured to Target to buy a make you own kit! Kid Made Modern Art-Chitecture Kit

This kit is only $25 and is very sturdy. Now this set is not too kid friendly for them to make. It’s kinda difficult even for adults. Totally worth it in the end though, but it took some time. To include Ruby in the making of this house I had her pick the paper I used on the walls and floors.

What you will need:

  • Kid Made Modern Art-Chitecture Kit (from Target)
  • Extra scrapbooking paper (any craft store)
  • Scissors
  • Markers
  • Glue Stick

How to make it:

  1. Follow the directions inside the kit.
    IMG_0692
  2. It comes with a lot of furniture pieces but those are really hard to put together. We only put together the ones we knew we would use (bed, table, chair, etc).
  3. Decide what papers you want to be on what walls and floors. It comes with about 10 pages that stick right on to the wood. That is not enough to cover every wall and floor. We used scrapbooking paper to finish off the other walls.
  4. Trace the size of the wall and cut the paper to fit. Then use a glue stick to get it on the wall and floor.
  5. Once you have all the walls and floors covered in your desired paper you can glue it all together!
  6. Let it sit and dry for a day before use, but then it is good to go.

We put ours up on TV trays that Ruby has at her house. It allows her to be able to walk around the whole street. She can play with the fronts of the sets and the backs. She loves driving her princesses from house to house in her Cinderella carriage, or has special guest (Lego Friends characters) fly in on the private jet. You could also set this up on a coffee table or even just the floor!

It’s easy to set up and easy to store. The boards fold together so it can fit in a small space along a wall. We bought storage bins from target to put Ruby’s blocks in. We have one for her Lego Duplo blocks. We have a few for her Disney Princess Lego’s so we don’t have to take apart all the Princess’s house each time we play. Then we have a small 3 storage drawer labeled with easy to read titles of things to keep in them (dolls, extra parts, sticks, etc).

Princess Street has been a HUGE hit at our house! Every kid who comes over always wants to play with it, and Ruby loves to let them. While yes it does take some time to get it all put together, like I said before totally worth it. I would make a million more of these because they provide so much fun for your kid! It allow them to be creative and inventive every time we pull it out to play. I hope you found this how to helpful and enjoy your version of Princess Street as much as we love ours 🙂

xoxo Kelly

© The Nanny Guide 2015

More Pictures from Princess Street

The Giving Season: American Girl Dolls

110615_retail924-245584

While there are many places in need and worth donating to this year, I want to highlight one unique option that means a lot to me. I still remember getting my first American Girl Doll for Christmas when I was 10 years old. I treated Kailey like she was my daughter. I loved that doll. I played with her every single day. I knew how special she was and lucky I was to be able to have one. Now one of the little girls I nanny loves that doll still. American Girl dolls are amazing friends and playmates for any child. They are even better playmates for kids in need. They can provide them with some joy and happiness in a not so happy place. This year American Girl is partnering with the Children’s Hospital Association and donating American Girl dolls to sick children in their hospitals. For every doll someone buys, American Girl is donating a second doll to the Children’s Hospital Association. If you are thinking about getting your child, grandchild, niece, or anyone an American Girl Doll for Christmas, buy it now! This “Get a friend. Give a friend.” promotion is only going on until November 30th. What a special way to make a donation this year. I know they are expensive dolls; however this may take the bite out of spending $130 on a doll, because with that you are making another little girl’s holiday wishes come true. Thanks for being awesome American Girl!

If you want to donate a friend to a someone in need head over to their website.

 

Photo credit: https://www.americangirl.com/general/giveafriend