The day to day, comical happenings and sweet moments from my life as a nanny.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I've moved!

I've moved! Click here to see the new site.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New chapters.

Adventurous. Spontaneous. Heartbreaking. Unimaginable. Overwhelming. Tough. Joyful. Blessed. Full of the unknown and unexpected.

Just a few adjectives that could describe my life.
I love photography. I know you all know this because my obsession with photos is evident by the constant flow that takes over my twitter and facebook.  What can I say, I'm a visual, creative person....things sometimes are just better describe in photo form than written form.
I've learned that this can lead people to have a skewed idea of what my day to day life is like and I can understand this.  It's easy to see life as this happy-go-lucky, no care in the world thing...when you see photos of smiling kids having fun, beautiful scenery, etc.  I've lost "friends" because of it and gained some "friends" because of it.  This "glamorous" life that I live is filled with sleepless nights, no social life, oatmeal down my back, snotty noses, sticky fingers, half packed suitcases, laundry I don't have time to do, family that lives miles is messy and exhausting...and yet....beautiful.

I'm going to be honest here. I'm heading into probably one of the hardest chapters in my life and although I can see already how God's hand is in it, I am heartbroken, hurt, and tired.  I don't want to face it, but I am choosing to walk forward in the knowledge that God has never left me hanging.
As some of you know my best friend, Jenna, has decided to follow her dream and go to PA school. SO so proud of her. So excited to watch her walk into this new so so sad though to have to say goodbye.   We have been roommates and best friends for six years. We have walked through each other's darkest times, moved to a new city together, have had too many adventures to count, raised two, brother, puppies together, share everything, went from being broke and crashing at people's houses to building up a pretty snazzy looking place to live (after moving a billion times)...cheesy, but, she's the sister I never had.   I'm going to miss her and her pup Tonka so much. I'm going to have to re-learn how to live life without my best friend by my side.
That's just one of the changes happening. So many other things that I really can't talk about on here are going on and other than staying with the jobs that I have I am completely re-starting.   It's exciting and exhausting just thinking about it. Especially because we have moved 5 times in two yrs....and I just unpacked and threw away our last box this week....only to find out I will begin packing again next week. I'm learning to be content where I am, but always ready to go when God throws a curve ball.  He has already been faithful by providing a temporary home (thanks Brit and Jer) for me for the next few months and by sending extra work my way in the slow season to come. He is faithful.

It's times like these that I am beyond blessed and can see how faithful God is by sending me the incredible families I work for.  Although the past fews weeks have been rough and I apologize to anyone who has interacted with me in those weeks (and the weeks to come), because I feel like I am not present or able to engage, when I'm with "my" kiddos I have the adrenaline and drive to continue forward.  They are what make me excited for the future and give so much purpose to my day to day right now.

I don't write this to be a downer or seek pity. I am truly excited to see what God has in store around the corner, but I want to be honest for those of you who sometimes think that it's greener on the other side.  Life will be messy no matter where you are, no matter what your job is, or where your location is, it's messy if you are in the spotlight or beyond the scenes.   But I wouldn't trade the messiness for neat and controlled. I wouldn't trade the sticky fingers, snotty kisses, tearful goodbyes, or overwhelming piles of laundry for anything. It's through the heartache and exhaustion that God has always shown me His faithfulness and His amazing way of piecing the puzzle of my life together.
Be present where you are, but hold things loosely, enjoy today, and always know that you are not alone. Everyone has a story and a struggle.

For Now I'm choosing to soak up the little moments....

Make messes...

Go on adventures...

and stop to breathe in the beauty that is Life.

Blessings to you my friends. Forgive my ill-written post, if I could have put it in photo form I would :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Wow this has been quite the whirlwind couple weeks!  Just so you all know I AM still moving forward with the whole "Nanny Agent" thing...I just need to survive October first.   Also, I'm still undecided about a name. I have a hard time committing to something so concrete. :P

Last weekend I had a very rare opportunity to go to MN with Angie (NO kids) and see my amazing brother and sister-in-law.   As some of you know I went to school up in Minnesota, graduated 2 1/2 yrs ago, packed my car, moved, and haven't been back since.   I hadn't seen my brother and sister-in-law in a year and a half, so it would be an understatement to say that I was excited about this weekend trip.

It was wonderful.

Very short, but wonderful nonetheless.

Thursday, Kerrie (my sis-in-law), met us at Mall of America and we spent the afternoon/evening wandering around (brought back lots of college memories) and catching up on life. One of my dear college friends even stopped by to hang out.  Then when my brother met us all after work and we went out for refreshments and chips and salsa together and reminisced about old times.


where the bro works

Friday was spent visiting my brother where he works (Target Headquarters) and hanging out at Caribou. Then spent the evening in our PJ's eating pizza, watching Modern Family and playing with their pup Ajax.   It was such a sweet time with them and made me miss them even more. Why does Tennessee have to be so far away from Minnesota and Colorado????

Cutest little family
brings back so many memories

Angie rockin it as usual
Saturday we just had to stop by Women of Faith and see Angie was the first time I actually was able to sit through her whole talk at an W.O.F. event and it was so special to be able to share that with my family.  Only my younger brother has met the Smiths, who have become like family to me and so it was so important to me that my older brother and sister get to spend some time with Angie.  
Anyone else live far from your family and sometimes you feel like you have two or three separate lives?
For a weekend it was nice to have those lives merge.

 That's my little update. We are still having issues getting Internet...although we have now been billed for two months worth of Internet...we still don't actually have it...hmmmmmm. Once we do though I will be writing much more consistently and begin writing more info sections geared towards nannies.
Have a wonderful rest of your week my dear blogger friends.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Taking the leap: Name/title suggestions?

Alright, it's official.
I'm doing it.

I'm pegging myself as a personal nanny agent.
So I've given myself until the beginning of 2012 to get set-up and started.  Meaning that in the next 2 1/2 months I will be putting together a website, possibly transferring this blog over to Wordpress (any advice would be appreciated), filing for a business license, designing business cards and spreading the word to build up a client base.

I would LOVE any input, advice, anything at all because my reason for doing this is really for you, the community of Nashville (and surrounding area).  As a nanny who has worked this job for 12 years and who has dealt with every type of family, child and situation I am aware of the need for a Christian agent who can help both sides get through the first daunting task of finding a nanny/family.

I am so excited to see where this goes and watch as we build a better nanny/family support base here and continue to make it possible for parents to have in-home help. Help that can come in with an understanding of the unique schedule and routine an artist family has and the need for a pinch hitter, care-taker.  

I'll keep you all updated on the progress as I work on writing out tip and info pages, interview advice, create applications, etc.

In the meantime.....I need suggestions on what to call this!!!  What would catch your attention? What is fitting for a personal nanny agent....not a strict agency full of regulation and rules, but someone whose sole purpose is to help you relax and find the best fit for you and leave it in your hands from there?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nashville Christian Family/Nanny network

Calling all nannies, babysitters, moms and dads. Especially within the Christian community/musician community here in Nashville/Franklin...I need YOUR input!

I spend a lot of my time helping people find babysitters, trying to find fill-in's for my families when I am not available, and discussing with people appropriate pay, how to interview, etc.   One of the ladies that I nanny for threw out the idea the other day that I should start something similar to the nanny agencies here, but do it specifically as a Christian agency.  I've been thinking through the idea and although I'm not super excited about starting a new business or anything, it has occurred to me that I spend much of my time doing what those agencies do and if I made it official I could do that job even better.
I would like to get some other people's input on the idea and see if there would even be enough interest and also would love any ideas for thing you would like to see.

Here is a general description of what I thought would be helpful for families and nannies/babysitters:

  • Conduct interviews of all incoming nannies/babysitters and have all their information on hand
  • Interview/meet with families to hear what they need, what their routine is, and what they are looking for in a third-party caretaker
  • help match care-takers with families (like but for babysitters and families...right?)
  • Set up a "classifieds" so that when you find yourself needing an emergency babysitter there is a list of already approved, responsible babysitters to contact.  This works to the benefit of everybody, babysitters can chose to be available for last minute calls and pick up extra work and families know they aren't just getting some random person they know nothing about. 
  • "Shared" nannies would be much easier to come by with this system...I am a shared nanny and can at times be juggling three or four musician/traveling families....this works because I end up knowing I have full-time work...this doesn't always work because I need to find fill-in's for certain days.  If we had a network of nannies within our community it would make scheduling easier on everyone.  As it is my friends and I have our own little "network" and fill-in for each other and pass off jobs when needed. 
  • I would also make this blog more consistent (now that I have Internet) with tips on working out confrontation, nanny searching tips, and other helpful tools for families and nannies alike. 
  • As much as I'd like to do it for free I would need to be making some income for my time being the "go-between" person so there would be a percentage cost from either that babysitters/nanny income and possibly a one-time fee for the families to join
So what do you think?
Throw the idea out?
Keep it?
Run with it?
You tell me...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just another weekend



Sometimes that is the word that best describes getting through the weekends during the fall.
Being a nanny to musicians, speakers, authors and stylists means that I get to "enjoy" the same schedule that they do...meaning that we have really slow seasons during which everyone just trusts that God will provide and then you have seasons where you just aren't sure how you are going to be able to fit sleep, eating and showers into the packed days .

October is one of those seasons.

This past weekend for example...I had Thursday during the day off...the first in some time and I spent the day on the phone trying to get Internet set up (yes it had been a month and I was STILL trying to get it up and running), I then went to babysit from 6:30-12:30, went straight from there to where I normally nanny, spent the night, had the girls till my BFF came and took my place at 7:30pm, picked up two precious girlies and took them home to bed, got home and fell into bed around 1:30am, up at 6am to watch the neighbor boy till 11am, headed to watch those same two girls through the day, helped get them ready for the wedding they were in, caught them at the end of the aisle, took them home to bed, got home around 1:30am...fell into bed in my clothes and sleeppptttt.

cheap entertainment

precious. ready for the wedding.
how cute is she?


Of course my "day off" always seems to get filled with running errands that had been put off for weeks, but I must have still been delirious with adrenaline, because I somehow got all my errands done, went grocery shopping, got home and cleaned out my whole pantry and kitchen, made almond butter, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin almond butter...not to mention all the late nights of working gave me time to edit photo sessions and actual be on schedule for once. I'm really not sure where all this motivation came from, but I hope it happens again every weekend. 

Almond butter...yummy

I love organization. 
sadly organization hates me  and doesn't seem to last long.


Then back to work on Monday. 

even snuck in a run with this guy before work this morning

Safe to say...
it was a productive few days.
Safe to say...
the life of a nanny is anything but relaxing.

A nanny in Nashville has no such thing has routine.
No "planned way in advance" set schedule. No social life planning.

For me, it's a perfect fit.
I love the spontaneity of it...most of the time.
Sometimes I long for just some day to day routine, or I would love to be able to plan a coffee date in advance and not have to cancel last minute. For the most part though, I love the feeling of falling into bed exhausted from chasing toddlers, hands raw from loads of dishes, and clothes stained with baby food.
So just a little glimpse into my weekends right now for those of you wondering why I'm never around, or those of you writing me asking about being a nanny...for me this is my life. My career. It's become as normal as breathing by now.

P.S. please don't judge the photos. I couldn't find my memory card...ok, so I didn't really look for it...but the cell phone was just more convenient in the chaos.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dessert Obsession

So I'm not a health nut, but I do love to try to eat healthy and have been trying to learn some ways to switch to eating more organic/non-processed foods. However, I will NOT give up my love of baked goods and desserts...taking chocolate, ice cream, and peanut butter away from me would be like taking away all the oxygen from the earth...ok maybe I'm exaggerating, but delicious desserts? I'm not ok with those "healthy" alternatives that really just taste like dirt.  

So you can imagine my excitement when I came across this blog while searching Pinterest (a whole different obsession). Every Delicious looking, healthy dessert lead me to this Katie person.
  First of all, this Katie girl seems like someone I would just want to hang out with (and maybe she would let me be a taste tester), second of all she is a healthy dessert recipe genius.

I'm obsessed.

 Ok, I haven't actually tried any of her recipes (I'm on a bit of a diet kick right now, but as soon as it's over you can bet I'll be making all of these).   I trust her when she says she took her cookie dough dip to a party and didn't tell anyone it was healthy, only to have it be the big hit.  The list of chocolate peanut butter and pumpkin recipes is to die for and she has soy free, diary free, gluten free, raw, high protein, and sugar free recipe options. The other thing I LOVE is that she has recipes for single servings. This is great when you don't live in a household of people and you don't want to end up eating an entire batch of cookies or muffins by yourself.  

I nanny and babysit for some kids and even parents who have major allergies and diet restrictions and it can be hard for kids when they don't get to eat yummy treats like everyone else.
I'm also super excited to try some of these out on the picky eaters I nanny. Hehe...I'm gonna be the coolest nanny handing over cookies and pies...they're never gonna know that I'm actually getting them the fiber, protein, etc that they need.  
Thank you chocolate covered Katie for taking over my life and making me sleep deprived from scouring your blog all night.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


What pops into your head when you hear the word "redemption"?
What does redemption look like to you?
For me, I always saw redemption as something beautiful and happy, accomplishment and a success point, the end of the road when you walk into the bright shining light and leave the storm behind. I saw it as being able to close the chapter and move on to the next one that would of course be full of rainbows and singing birds (I watch a lot of Disney movies).


It's a word God has been, to be completely honest, throwing in my face for some time now.
Me, being oh so full of knowledge and wisdom, kept shooting back that I was not capable of facing redemption in my story yet...I was not yet seeing the rainbows and sunshine in ALL areas of my story.
If you haven't noticed yet, I'm a somewhat...stubborn human being. My precious Father knows this all too well and with patience gives me many signs, whispers, and hints...but usually ends up getting my attention by simply yelling it out, placing it in my lap, or throwing it in my face.

I really have no right when I nanny, to complain about the "selective hearing" the kids sometimes use because, well, I do the same thing.   I am VERY selective about what I hear.  

I take that back...I am not selective about what I hear, but instead selective about what I chose to obey and hesitant to dive into the tension that comes with obedience.
I had been wrestling with this for some time and this past weekend I was at the Dot Mom conference (love that I am so blessed to be in a job that includes conferences) and let me just say...God used Priscilla Shirer to throw it in my lap, yell it, wave it in front of my face.  Now I'm still not "there" yet, I'm still human and still slightly arguing with God about the next step, knowing what He has told me, but afraid of what that may look like, however I am opening my eyes and ears and holding out my hands so that I can get a taste of this redemption.  
I am someone who doesn't mind dealing with confrontation, get it out on the table, hash it out, move on. I believe this is a valuable trait to possess, but it can also mean that I have trouble getting back into my own story. There is a balance between living in the past and living in the tension of your story, allowing God to use it as the platform to reach an audience.  Priscilla taught on Luke 5 and I will never do her talk justice, but it was a wonderful reminder that we are allowed to step out of the boat, step out of disappointment and frustration, clean our nets, feed our souls....but at some point we need to step with Jesus back into the boat. Step back into that disappointment and pain and watch as Jesus uses it as the platform for teaching.

This collided hard with my struggle with redemption.

I'm realizing that redemption isn't necessarily comfortable or easy. Redemption isn't the pretty little picture of how we wanted things to turn out.  The road to redemption is messy. It's a beautiful picture, but only if we can strip away the image we create in our minds of what it should be.  It's not forgetting what has happened or walking away from what has happened. It's living in the tension of it, healing from it, and being able to step back in with a new healed soul and a new perspective so that what you went through can be used to Glorify Him.
I'm finally starting to open my eyes and see that, although it's not what I thought I wanted, it's a more beautiful picture than I could have ever created in my own little human mind.  
I am becoming beautifully redeemed and I pray with all my might that it is an ever changing, ever-growing, ever-learning process that I will be able to radiate to others so that they too may experience it's beauty.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hands & Feet

Remember this post from my photography site...  Well you should go over to THIS site and vote for Hands & Feet!  I have experienced first hand the amazing work they do and have met the precious children whose lives are being changed.   I could go on forever about them, but why don't you just go watch the video and read for yourself....than help them out and click VOTE.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sneak peek

Thought I would share a fun little sneak peek into our week. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trip

Having a blast on this much needed vacation and taking some time to just relax and enjoy some "family" time.  I did, however want to just get on and post something fun. Put together a little video of our road trip to Hilton Head.  Don't judge...Jenna and I were a little sleep deprived and stir crazy and honestly, both of us HATE being on video, but we decided to branch out. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

True glamour of a nanny.

I debated sharing this story because really, it was a pretty embarrassing scene...but then I thought about it and realized that being a nanny brings the risk every day of being publicly embarrassed or humiliated (moms and fellow nannies, you know what I mean).  
Kids don't always have filters, they don't always have control of their bodily functions, they sometimes lose control of their emotions.
 The person most in the spotlight during those moments is the caretaker.

Before I share that story though, can I first just say how proud I am of Todd and Angie?
In case you hadn't heard the news going around, Angie's book has been #1 on Barnes and Noble (above The Help...which made for a great screen shot). I am so so proud of her and am honored to have been able to watch her walk this path and stand by as she walks in humble obedience.  You MUST go get her book and read it. It is amazing and I plan on reading several more times....I've already read chapter 5 about four times. She is a very gifted writer.
Just to add to the families exciting week Selah's new CD was released this week and has been in the top 100 list on itunes and at one point was even between Lady Gaga and Eminem...HA.    I am so excited for them and LOVE this new CD. I have listened to it over and over again for several months and don't think I will ever get tired of it.   I love getting to see Todd, Amy, and Allan do what God has put them on a path to do and have never met musicians so humble and Christ-centered.    Go support them and buy their CD!
OK...just had to brag on them a bit.  Back to my story....

So just for laughs here is how my night was last night:

We were going to Selah's CD release party.
We walk in with the whole clan and I have little C in my arms.
 Now just to give you a little bit of back story and prep for the next part....the girls are very into finding me a boy. For the most part I just humor them and put up with the embarrassing moments when we are out and they announce (usually rather loud) if they see a boy they think I should get married to (they never seem to go to dating...just straight to marriage).  
Anyway, so for about the past 9 months or so they have been obsessed...I mean literally obsessed about this one boy that has helped out with Selah's CD (praying he doesn't read was just too funny not to share). They are constantly talking about wanting us to get married and how they think he is just perfect.

Then they informed me that they had also been telling him these same things.


I finally got to the point where I would tell them that I don't know this guy and who knows...he may not even be my type.
Simply to try to simmer down all this excitement for them.


 Back to the party.

We walk in and I'm being introduced to people and we proceed into the next room where I get introduced to this guy. A little awkward introduction of "Oh yeah, I've heard all about you"s were exchanged and we just laughed it off.
Silly children.
They say the darndest things.
As our introduction finishes I happen to look down at little C's face.

Ok moms/nannies, you know the face. The one where you know in a matter of milliseconds things are going to be projected from the child's mouth and although time seems to be moving slow...there is NO way you can move fast enough to do anything about it....


That was the face.

Which was followed by projectile puking all over....Me.

Side note: Why is the first reaction to put your hand there to catch it? There is no such things as "catching" uncontrollable vomit. It's impossible.

So I'm standing there completely being covered as little C just keeps it coming and the party comes to a screeching halt.
I'm torn between wanting to comfort and hold C close as she is crying and throwing up....and not wanting to move because I'm covered in chunks.
And then comes the "Now what do I do stage" that results in you just standing there calmly holding a puke covered baby and not moving a muscle for fear that chunks may scatter even more and the soaked through shirt and pants may get more soaked through than they already are and the chunks may squish under my feet since of course my shoes were covered as well.   And of course....not breathing. Because if you breathe in the way that you may just join in on the puking party.

Are you feeling sick yet?

Then I hear someone say...."Are those tomatoes?"
I look down to see perfectly cut up little triangles dog. To which I reply..."Nope, hot dog."

 Yep nanny guilt.

I was the one that fed her hot dog. Apparently she didn't actually chew u a single piece and I was now wearing the results.
I will never feed a child a hot dog again.
So we made our way to a bathroom, scrubbed off as much as we could, and I changed into one of the guy's t-shirts...
To make the situation even more I came downstairs Allan informed Angie and I that the girls had taken care of the "boy situation".  I was afraid to even ask what that meant but he proceeded anyway saying that the girls told the guy "Hey just so you know, Miss Kelsey says that you really are not her type."  


Out of the mouths of babes. 

8 year old match making. 

Never a good thing. 

At that point Angie and I pretty much just fell on the stairs laughing at how oddly eventful the night had been and we had only been there for about 15 minutes.
I then spent the rest of the night trying to keep a 5 foot radius between me and anyone else because the smell was enough to make you gag.  
At one point I must not have kept to that 5 foot radius because Angie was talking to a friend and said "Man, I still smell puke." to which her friend responded...."Kelsey is standing behind you"  hahaha.

We finally made our way home...with the windows down the whole way of course ;)
The night could not hold anymore incidents.


We're getting the girls ready for bed when we noticed a leak in the ceiling....I run up to check the girls bathroom and as I take the lid off the back of the toilet I get shot...right in the face and hair...with a shooting stream of toilet water.

We spent the next hour trying to fix a toilet...laughing about the glamorous life of a nanny and her best-selling author boss.

Being a mom or a nanny always brings the risk of embarrassing moments, sticky (or stinky) situations, and a whole lot to laugh about.

This will be one night that I will laugh about for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mystery Quesadilla.

Ok I'm taking a slight intermission from the Casa 36 story because there is so much more to it and I'm slowly trying to get it written out.
I thought I would share just a little...what you may call..."Bad nanny moment"

The girls had left some food "creations" on the table and I was told to make sure they ate them at some point that day.
Some time later my sweet little five year old spit-fire came waltzing into the room announcing that she was hungry. I explained to her that she needed to eat her "quesadilla" that she had made first and then I would make her a sandwich when she finished. This resulted in quite an upset little girl and several minutes of her questioning and crying about having to eat her quesadilla.  I kept trying to ask her what she had put in it...."Is it cheese?"..."Yes Miss Kelsey..yes."

"how about I warm it up for you, then it will taste normal", I replied as I turned on the microwave.

She finally took a bite
resulting in a series of faces that made me have to stifle my laughter and force myself to be consistent with the situation at hand.

I asked her why it was such a big deal to eat the quesadilla...she loves quesadillas.  

This was her response:

"It's HORRIBLE, just horrible"
"Miss Kelseyyyyyy, you don't understanddddd!!! I just really wanted one of YOUR quesadillas and you were NOT here for me when I needed it" (nanny guilt kicks in about here)
"You NEVER put this stuff on would NEVER EVER do what I did"


"What exactly did you put on the tortilla?" I asked, realizing that more of the story was about to come out.
"Well, you never ever put this on, you never ever put yogurt on it"

My reaction was a little mix of bursting laughter, wanting to puke, confusion all at once.

"Yogurt? why did you put yogurt on it...and why didn't you tell me that in the first place when I asked what was on it?!" I very kindly asked, still trying to stifle my laughter and gag reflex

"Well I just didn't know how you made them and I LOVE how you make them and ooohhhhh I don't weren't here! And you just weren't listening to me when I tried to tell you."
(again with the nanny guilt)

So here I was forcing her to eat this "quesadilla" that had been sitting out for bit, had then be re-microwaved, and had...yogurt...on it.  Gross.

No real lesson here...other than feeling like a terrible nanny and well being told I have some mad quesadilla making skills....andddd feeling a little guilty for getting a pretty good laugh that day.

Anyone else have those "bad, but slightly funny" nanny moments?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Casa 36: Andrew

I could feel my palms getting sweaty and my blood start pumping. “Will they even accept me, a random college student here for Spanish classes?"
 My purpose for living there seemed so minute and silly compared to why they were standing there.

I scan the group and through the smiles can sense the fear and anxiety in their faces. All holding their babies, but unlike a normal situation when you see a parent holding their child….this was different. They were held, gripped with intensity, the willingness to leave that child in God’s hands, but the earthly fear that tomorrow, or an hour from now…everything could change and that child may not be going home in their arms.   Holding those children brings a much different emotion. It brings a realization that we are not in control.

We know not what the future holds.

I knew at that moment that if I continued forward and took hold of one of those babies for the first time…I was jumping off a cliff, risking my heart, forever tying myself into these stories. “Am I ready for what this house, Casa 36, would hold?”, I thought to myself as I tried to put on my most mature, fearless first impression…

And so began the story…at least my part in the story.
Four families, four stories.
This is simply my version, as an outsider coming in, as the random college girl placed in that house.

Mark, Staci and their journey for Andrew…
First day of moving into Casa 36:

I glance around the living room, still trying to piece together the stories and remember names. Yet at the same time feeling like I’ve known these people my whole life…we are all sharing our stories and how we got here and before we know it, the house is filled with laughter at the culture struggles we’ve faced, the incidents of being a first time mom and the mishaps with language translations. 

My heart is breaking for one of the couples though as I watch them struggle through attachment issues with their new son Andrew.  I see this sweet new dad trying to reach out for his son and the little boy won’t go to him. Only the mom is able to hold him. Any little moment or incident sets him into an ear piercing, screaming fit…enough to make any sane person go a little mad after about 25 min. I’m talking, insane, out of control screaming. I continue to watch as they try feeding him…this ends in food everywhere, two parents hitting a wall of hopelessness and yet another episode of screaming. 

To see the hurt in both parents’ eyes made me ache to help. The dad just wants to support his wife and love on his son, the mom wants to love her child and watch her husband do the same, yet you can see the exhaustion  from the “episodes” and the frustration of not knowing what or if there is a solution…

It’s only been a couple days. 

They have a long unknown road ahead and from my view, it’s not looking very encouraging or hopeful. 

As we begin to exchange stories they share with us that they have struggled with infertility for years and had opened their hearts to adoption.  Then this sweet faced, big brown eyed boy came into their life….they were overjoyed and ready to bring him into their arms.

The hard decision to move down to Guatemala was made…it seemed best so that Andrew could begin to adjust to his new parents. Then they told us about a little curve ball they had been thrown…Staci was pregnant.

We all looked at them, trying not to let our jaws fall to the ground in shock.

They were jumping head first into what were about to be the most painful, terrifying, traumatizing, yet rewarding months of their life.
Talk about scary and traumatic. Moving down as a first time mom, dealing with the physical exhaustion of pregnancy, and then facing attachment issues with Andrew….doing all of this away from her best friend/spouse in a foreign country.  It only took about an hour for me to tell that this was one courageous woman.  And that this was just the very tip of the story that was about to unfold….

We had only known each other for maybe a few hours, but sensing the exhaustion that Staci and Mark were both feeling we pried Andrew from Staci’s arms and pushed her and Mark out the door. Insisting they take a walk…breathe...we could manage the screaming, thrashing baby for a short while. Besides. I’m pretty sure Staci had not even been able to go to the bathroom alone for days…

I stood there with this screaming child, my heart completely broken, wondering what his little mind must be thinking through all of this. What HE was feeling through this new transition. What his story held

Propping him on my hip and gripping tightly to his little waist I reached out to turn the faucet on…letting the sink fill with warm water as the other moms went to gather baby soap and towels.
We were going to conquer giving him a bath if it took all of us and a flooded kitchen. 

I gently went to set him in the sink and the whole house fell silent.  It’s a moment that will forever be burned on my heart and in my mind.  I whispered quietly that he was so handsome, so loved, as I cautiously poured soap on a washcloth and began to wash his little brown body…fearing it would set him into another fit…fearing he would hurt himself.   The silence continued. We kept shooting glances at each other..almost as if to confirm this was real…no one wanted to move for fear of disturbing this one moment of peace.
Mark and Staci walked through the door and in unison we all turned to quickly hush them and show them what was happening. 
That moment…the moment of watching those parents stand in the doorway…looking at their son curiously playing in a sink full of soapy water…that moment was the first of many “small” moments of hope that enabled them to take each baby step through the storms and trials they were facing and about to face.

2 days later:
It was the morning Mark would be leaving to head back home. The morning he would leave his wife and child, knowing he would not be there to protect them, not knowing when they would be coming home. It’s the morning that I’m sure every international/adoptive parent dreads.
I learned that summer that I hated watching those goodbyes. I hated standing in the house, watching one of the moms and their baby/babies wave goodbye, the dad waving out the van window. I'm sure sending up prayers that God would protect the life he was waving goodbye to for the time being.

The days to follow were beyond tough, and yet those tiny little triumphs, moments that most parents wouldn’t think twice about, moments that made an entire house of people rejoice, the moments of Andrew cracking a little smile, the moment Staci could place him next to her on the couch for two seconds without him screaming, the moment she was able to actually stand up without him in her arms for a couple seconds…these were the moments that kept her…kept all of us going.

Baby steps.
Everyone was going to survive.
We just needed to praise in the triumphs, and hold tight to God’s promise that He is in control during the dark moments.

Another curve ball was about to be thrown…
(Aprox. 4 weeks into living in Casa 36)

My head was spinning.
“How could God allow this?”
“Why, after everything they’ve been through?”

Staci had just received the news that her pregnancy had taken a turn and it was possible she would be facing a miscarriage….at the same time they found out that their fingerprints had expired and the fastest way to get new ones would be in the States.
Decisions needed to be made quickly and before any of us were able to process what was happening, Andrew was placed in my care for what was supposed to be the next 48 hours as Staci boarded a plane for home…48 hours turned into 5 days that would bring more heartache and yet another storm to conquer.

48 hours turned into 5 days due to the crushing news that Staci would end up needing a D & C.

It was a couple days in and things were going fairly smoothly…although I was getting an even stronger taste of what Staci must feel and was starting to wonder how she had kept her cool for so long.  My arms were throbbing from carrying around a big baby boy and my personal space had all been stripped away from me.

  I heard the annoying tone of my Guatemalan cell phone and picked it up…
Hey Kelsey, it’s Mark…I don’t want you to worry or freak out, but I need you to listen carefully…” My stomach dropped and I’m pretty sure all the blood immediately drained from my face.

(Side note: Anytime you are in another country watching someone’s baby and you get a call saying…”don’t freak out, but follow my directions carefully” good news is probably not about to follow)

  Somehow I kept myself calm enough to listen to the directions Mark was trying to get across to me over the fuzzy international connection. “Our lawyer/adoption facilitator has threatened to come take Andrew. She knows where the house is. I need you to take Andrew and leave the house early in the morning and do not come back until late,” his calm but firm tone hit hard as I hung up the phone. I knew how corrupt their lawyer was and just how possible this could be.

Thoughts came piling into my head, as I stood there with the phone in my hand, unable to move yet unable to sort my thoughts that came racing in.
 “What would I do if someone came to the door and tried to take this precious child from my arms?”
“How am I supposed to protect him when I can’t even call the police here?”
“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to him while he was in my care.”

Then, having the wild imagination I have and having watched way too many episodes of Law and Order...I began playing scenarios out in my head….
“Well if someone comes to the door…I’ll hide Andrew and use one of the dull knives from the Bodegona and just fight for our lives….or….we’ll run and hide all the kids in the upstairs loft and make up some story about how Staci left with Andrew and moved to a different house”……..Andrew's screaming snapped me back to attention.
Yeah, hiding isn’t going to work, not with those lungs” I thought as I began to gather what I would need for a long day out, wandering Antigua.

The lawyer never came, but the tension didn’t leave the rest of the week. Anytime someone looked at me strange or anytime there was a car driving by I jumped and gripped him tighter. Throwing up a prayer that God would bring us peace and we would continue to lay our fears at His feet….knowing in the end…He was in control.
As Staci's returned drew near we all wondered how she would adjust back into life here, wondered if she had even been able to process what she had just walked through...would be walking through...on top of the situation with Andrew...wondered how we would ever be able to support someone who has walked through what she we would show that we grieve alongside her. 

Staci returned and we all watched as she seamlessly jumped back into caring for Andrew, marching forward with determination and adrenaline. All of us knowing that there would be a time, a moment, when it would all hit and the grieving and emotions would pour out.  Realizing that. that time would probably not be allowed to come until she was safe in her home in Alabama. 

The hopeful moments continued though as Andrew finally learned to walk, finally allowed Staci to walk out of the room for a short period, and finally began eating food like a “normal” kid.   The three bottles and back-pain inducing “walking while rocking” to get him to sleep every night continued, but that was seemingly small compared to the big obstacles that had been over-come.  Again, the moments that kept us all hopeful.

I eventually hit the end of summer. School was about to start again.

I had to leave.

Leave behind these families that I had grown so close to, that I had bonded with in a way that only the group of us can explain.  It broke my heart leaving, not knowing when they would be…if they would be following behind me.  It was the hardest goodbye and the hardest transition back into life in the states that I have ever had.
I packed my bags, the kids thinking it was a game, hiding in my suitcase…not aware that it only made it harder and I would have done anything to keep them there and take them all with me
The moms let me put all the kids to bed that night and give them one last hug and kiss…pretending all was normal…

3 am came and I slipped out into the misty morning...taking one last glance at the Volcano I had looked at every morning and every evening. I got into the van with a bunch of strangers. People who had no idea what I was leaving behind...people just on their own agenda, heading back to wherever they had come from. I wanted to scream or cry, or simply get back out, grab my suitcase and refuse to go…but instead I just watched Casa 36 fade out the back window of the rusty van…again being reminded by a gentle whisper..."I AM in control, I AM holding them in my hands"
He would bring them home when the time was right. Until then I had to just trust...and have lots of skype dates.

(five minutes later watch a man get stabbed…another story for another time though.)

None of us knew that for Mark, Staci and Andrew, there was still one more storm to survive…one more terrifying, enough to cause permanent fear and PTSD, large storm…

To be continued…

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Casa 36: Part 1

I stood in front of Casa 36, my heart pounding so loud it drowned out the rhythmic chanting of the chicken bus drivers yelling, “Guate, Guate, Guate” just down the street, and the rumble of the tuk tuks racing by on the cobblestone road.
The heat of the day mixed with the smells wafting over the walls from the market, a combination of fresh produce, trash and urine started to make my stomach turn and my head spin.
I was trying to replay the past three weeks of Spanish classes (the whole reason I was here in Antigua, Guatemala anyway), but for some reason my brain had decided that now was a good time to take a siesta and with it went all the vocabulary, verbs and conjugations I had labored over day and night.
My new found friend, turned sister stood beside me, my only bit of comfort as we waited for the realtor to arrive.    “I hope I understood them correctly and this is the right location”, “how did I end up in this position?”, “what if the other women hate this house?”….thoughts and fears tumbled through my head as I saw, who I assumed to be the realtor walking down the road towards us. I'm just a college student, I've never had to find a house...let alone a house in a foreign country for a group of people I have never met. All these fears jumbled with the over-all situation was enough to put me into a panic attack right then and there...luckily the fear and knowledge of Guatemala "hospitals" was enough to keep me just off the edge of the looming panic. 
As we wandered through, what truly was a gorgeous Guatemalan house with a slight “USA” flair I could barely keep all the information straight…and wondered if I was even understanding the information correctly.  I just remember nodding my head and responding, “si, si…muy bonita” dumbly as the responsibility of finding a last minute home for four new moms, the five kids and myself weighed heavily on my shoulders.

How did I end up in this position?

Casa 36.  I shook the realtor's hand and the decision was made. We had a place to call “home” until the time came for us to head back to the states, whenever that may be. Later that day I would come face to face with these four women and the children that would be sharing this house with me.

But allow me to back up...

I came to spend the summer in Antigua in order to learn enough Spanish to test into a higher class back at college.  I was determined to graduate on time. I, of course, told God that I didn’t want to simply spend my summer leisurely taking Spanish and waltzing around with the other tourists, partying my summer away. If I was going back to Guatemala, the country that had stolen my heart, I wanted to be used and have a purpose there.   I should have known God would have an adventure laid out for me as soon as those words came out of my mouth.

Three weeks had gone by. In those first three weeks I had spent time at the orphanage I used to work at, then lived in a “room” by myself in some strange building (think scene from Law and Order), to then living with a host family in the outskirts of town at the base of the volcano.  I spent those weeks feeling lonely and without purpose… I had no idea what God was preparing around the next turn. 

How did I end up here?

That question was still floating through my head as I walked back down the road we had been on just a few hours earlier. This time a small gathering of “gringos” were waiting for me in front of that Casa 36.
As I approached I saw three families who at the very first sight…caprtured my heart (the fourth would join us later that week).  The unknown future they were facing poured through the look on their faces as they put on smiles and we introduced ourselves…trying to laugh about the last minute rush to find a house.
Little did I know, that moment was the beginning of an incredible story that is still very much a part of my life today. Little did I know…that summer would become the most stretching, challenging, terrifying, rewarding summers of my life so far. Little did I know…I was about to see God reach down His mighty hand and work miracles in this little country of Guatemala.
You see, all these moms had come to foster the child/children they were adopting, until the process was finalized.  They’re husbands were going to be leaving them there and heading back to the states, not sure when they would have their wife and child/children safely in their arms back in the states.  The moms, all facing not only the fears that come with becoming a mom for the first time, but becoming a mom for the first time in a potentially dangerous city/country, without the comforts of home and  the close support of family and friends.  
Instead it was just this Casa 36.
 A house full of strangers.
 A group of people brought together for a common purpose. 
A group of people who would soon be facing some of the hardest moments of their life.

How did I get here?

At that moment…I started to wonder if telling God I wanted a better reason than Spanish class to move to Guatemala for several months, was such a good idea. Even then, I had no idea what was about to unfold. I had no idea the impact it would have on my life.  I had no idea I was about to walk through kidnapping threats, tuk tuk rides through unknown alleys to sketchy doctors, attachment disorders, screaming, sickness, translating, biting ant infestations, and lots of buy one get one free Dominos nights.

I could write a book on each families story, that is, if I was an author. 

Each one is so unique and incredible and has so many details. Each detail of each story plays into the others, because when you share a home, you share life together. You see the trials and the triumphs in one’s life.  

It’s been  three years since that summer. 
Three years and none of us have truly sat down and written out the details of what occurred. We have reminisced, sympathized with each other and looked back on pictures, but to write it out even now seems a daunting task, as so much was shoved into those months. So much pain, emotion, and also praise. 

 I want to share with you a little bit of each family’s story. The battles they fought to bring these precious babies home. The physical earthly picture of adoption. The parallel to God's fight for us. His open arms and our adoption into our heavenly family. 

And to begin, I want to start with the story of this big guy...

…it’s an incredible story of adventure, fear, pain, struggle, trials, hopelessness at times and of course…triumphs.  It’s really a story that should be made into a film.

To be continued......

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Nanny Work-Out

Want a full body work-out? Love that feeling of finally sitting down at the end of the day and feeling like every muscle in your body hurts?
Well let me introduce you to the nanny work-out:

  • Lift a baby up and down about 40 times a day. 
  • carry baby around in one arm until it goes numb.
  • switch and carry baby in other arm. repeat. 
  • bend at the hips and/or squat to pick up toys/food/un-identifiable items off the floor too many times to count. 
  • lift gallon of milk several times a day
  • chase around baby who has now started moving at an unbelievable pace
  • bring in five bags of groceries on each arm
  • sweep and mop- which includes scrubbing the milk that spilled and dried that morning under the high-chair
  • carry baskets of clean clothes up and down the stairs
  • walk up and down the stairs about 20+ times a day
  • push a cart around the store with two 30 pound kids
  • Play freeze tag for an hour
  • push two kids on the swing simultaneously  
  • do cartwheels, while also pretending to hold a light sabor and fight off little yodas.
  • play tickle monster and chase kids around the house for thirty minutes
  • Go for a walk in 100 degree weather pushing a stroller, uphill
  • take kids swimming and give piggy back rides, catch kids jumping in, race across the pool. 
  • hold a sleeping baby awkwardly until all your back and arm muscles feel like they're going to completely give out. 

End the day's work-out with some stretching, by bending over to put little shoes on, unload the dishwasher, slowly, stretching your arms to reach the very top shelf.

Remember to breathe through the entire work-out, smile, and enjoy the motivational disney music playing in the back-ground.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's be's not all fun and games.

It can be so easy sometimes to use a blog in two different extremes. One: to simply talk about fluffy stuff and how great life is...making it seem like you are perfect and live this amazingly trial-free life. Two: use it to passively "bash" other people and make yourself look good.

I'm blessed to know a few wonderful women who set an amazing example of finding the balance between being real and honest about struggles and trials, as well as sharing triumphs and praises....without bringing others down. I find this rare and am usually scared away from the blogging world because of the drama that can arise from it. I also find myself taking the easy route of just writing the "fun" things and the cute little lessons.

My prayer for myself is that I can strive to be transparent, simply to show the real me and create a community where we can share our struggles as well as our fun times and praises.  Writing the "You know you're a nanny when..." seemed so silly, but it has honestly been a huge encouragement for me this last week as I struggle through some of the obstacles that come with the career of "nanny". Hearing that other people actually can relate has been so encouraging, as well as fun to read.  I want to take advantage of the open door and use that post and the beginning of a community from it to go a little deeper.

For you nannies out there...specifically, single, in your 20's nannies....
Do you ever find yourself frustrated and feeling like a miss-fit and totally misunderstood?  Do you ever feel like you're just stuck between being a mom and being a normal twenty-something year old? You aren't married so you don't fit in that category, but you are a full-time childcare provider so you don't quite fit in the single life...yet you're not actually a mom so you can't really have community there.

It's something I have struggled with since becoming a nanny....12 years ago. Obviously the age thing continues to change, but I always find myself feeling like I'm forcing social interactions and forcing myself to be "normal" around people my age who are NOT nannies. I can't seem to find my community "niche".

I love that people see my gift for working with kids and that my nick-name tends to be "mommy Kelsey", but yet a side of me hates that it seems to be in a "you don't really fit with us" sort of way.  Obviously this is my interpretation of it and my own insecurities go into that interpretation, but am I alone in feeling that?  There is something different about being a nanny. I can be a group of people, all my age, everyone with a different career and when it gets to me saying what I do I either get so you don't really "work" or the "wow, I don't know why you would ever do that" response. I automatically feel like the odd-ball.  Which then leads to feeling completely out of the loop when they all start talking about what they did Friday night or what good new movies are coming out...because all I can offer is "Hey, have you seen the preview for the new Winnie the Pooh Movie?" Or..."oh yeah I played Just Dance with a bunch of little girls Friday night."
I've gone back and forth on this whole "social" thing and hate that it bothers me, because really...I prefer to play Just Dance with a bunch of little girls on a Friday night.
 I LOVE what I do.
 I have a passion for it.
It's what God created me to do.
I'm good at it.

So why do I hate feeling so misunderstood and feeling like no one understands?

I could write a book of just "You know you're a nanny when..." moments, but I would need to include..."You know you're a nanny when...the only people who seem to get you are other nannies....and the parents you work for."
Anyone else have their struggles with being a nanny?   Anyone else hit the end of the day and wonder if maybe they should stop playing "mom" and be a "normal" twenty-something year old"?  But then remember why you continue doing what you're doing?
What are some things that keep you encouraged and remind you why you love what you do?

Here are some that I came up with the other night as I was struggling through this:

  • When a baby you have known since birth says your name for the first time. 
  • When you've had a really rough day of discipline issues, spilled milk, washing the floors three times....and then end it with little arms wrapped around you telling you how much they love you.
  • Getting a beautiful water color painting slipped under the door after a long hard day.
  • One of the kids so excited to share with you something new they learned or something they over-come.
  • Getting big, slobbery kisses from a one year old. 
  • Knowing you played a part in that something new. 
  • Being able to sit with parents and hash out scheduling, discipline tactics, new ideas, etc...and knowing you are part of a team. 
  • Spending each day knowing that you aren't just "babysitting" but that you are playing a part in molding a life.
  • Watching the parents get to be involved in ministry and know that you are able to help them be able to do what they do. 

These are just a few.

Would love to hear your feedback on this subject.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Nanny community

Loved, loved, loved the comments to my last post. I was cracking up and totally relating to every one of them. I finally feel like I am not alone!
I'm hoping this "place" can become a sort of community for us nannies who live in the in-between of child-less freedom and the joys and trials of motherhood.  So fun to hear stories I can relate to.
Thanks ladies for sharing your "You know you're a nanny when..." moments.

I am about to head out to PA to go see one of my dearest friends get married....AND it just happens to be her birthday today ;) HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRITTANI!!!!

I can't wait to share photos and stories from the big weekend.
Until then I thought I would just share my favorite photo from today....

Isn't she beautiful? 
We had a blast, and were sweating like pigs (do pigs sweat?) taking little bit's one year photos. She is just precious. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

You know you're a nanny when...

One of the most common questions I get when I tell people I'm a nanny is, "Cool, so do you, like, just play with kids all day?", or sometimes the "Wow that's cool so you just work for musicians, thats pretty fun right?"

HA. IS fun. and yes. I sort of "play" with kids all day.
What most people don't know is that I just washed my hair with blazing blueberry tear-free shampoo, survived quite the insane trip to target that included coralling 4 kids, spilled drinks, a tired baby, and a major check-out miss-hap, and am now reading about baby sign language.

I think I need to write one of those "you know you're a nanny when..." Those kinds of lists were huge back in the days of myspace and xanga....
So humor me.
Maybe this will give you a glimpse into the daily life I live as a nanny.

You know you're a nanny when: ( know you're a nanny of a musician/speaker/author family when)

  • You drive a car with carseats in the back seats and Highschool musical cranked up
  • Your perfume switches between, sweet potato puree, spit-up, hot dogs and baby sunblock. 
  • When the youth you work with want to play with your phone they realize all you have are baby, fisher-price games
  • Your most said phrase is "Oh, I'm just the nanny."
  • A "normal" schedule consists of different hours and days every week and spending weekends either traveling or staying home watching kids all weekend
  • You can change a diaper with one hand while holding octopus arms in the other (at least that's what it feels like)
  • 98% of your photos, tweets, status' are of or about kids
  • You can sing all the theme songs to Dora the Explorer, The Wonder Pets, and The Backyardigans
  • You get excited when Parent magazine comes in the mail
  • You are much better at socializing with the group of moms and discussing disciplining techniques than you are socializing with people your own age 
  • You're told you have a "mom" look when the need arises (I work with a youth group...they're real honest)
  • You get two types of looks when you are out in public- The sympathetic, "awww poor single mom with four kids" or the judgemental "hmph young, single mom with four kids."
  • When people ask if you've seen any good movies can ramble off every animated/kids movie but are pretty much clueless as to what "grown-up" movies are out
  • You watch the same Animated movie over and over for months until the next big animated movie comes out....then you watch that one over and over and over. 
  • You're constantly asked if you are ever going to continue your education to actually use your Psychology major (I always laugh at that one, I use it everyday)
  • You DO go out with your friends only to have a pacifier and baby wipes fall out of your purse
  • You realize at the end of the day that you walked around all day with dried oatmeal all over the back of your pants
  • You can stand in Target with your boss discussing/analyzing what the best sippy cup is
  • You can have the worst day and have it all turned around by a sweet hug from a five year old
  • When "Miss" has become a permanent part of your first name
  • You spend all day smelling baby poop...but are unable to pin-point the source
  • It's not out of the norm to walk around the mall with a baby in an ergo, a stroller and kids trailing behind you
  • Sunday is your dress up day, sadly not because of church but because the rest of the week you spent wearing baby-food covered sweats
  • You find joy and yet your heart aches when seeing simple accomplishments, like a babies first words, a kid reading you her first book, or facing fears and growing up
  • You can make a killer heart-shaped PB&J, the best mac n cheese and a grilled cheese to die for
  • You love analyzing birth-order and personalities
  • You know when every "Kids eat free" night is in your town
  • The workers at the local kids activity centers know you by name
  • When you go shopping for clothes your first priority is to find things that are "kid friendly" and easy to move in
  • You experience all this, yet have no kids of your own. 

I could go on and on.

Any other nannies out there want to add on their own "You know you're a nanny when..."?

Monday, July 11, 2011


I just need to brag for a little bit.
So I spent the last week (with LOTS of help from Angie and my friend Nikki) trying to pull off a couple surprises for my best friend.  Her birthday was Thursday and we just moved into a new place so I wanted to give her a complete room makeover. Jenna and I have been friends for almost 6 years now and we have moved more times than I can count, we've been through ups and downs, have had seasons where our friendship has been anything but stellar, and have walked through so many storms together. Through all of this having a place to call "home" has not been top priority so I felt it was time to start building up "real" rooms and a place that we can come home to.  
Jenna is incredible. I'm not sure where to even start.  The first time Jenna and I ever hung out was really not planned. We were all hanging out in my dorm room and we had a few mutual friends....well..our mutual friends all decided to leave and I was studying so stayed behind. Somehow Jenna was left behind too and long story short we spent the next several hours sharing our hearts with each other....and the rest is history.
We've been pretty much inseparable since then....minus a few tough seasons we walked through.
My favorite thing about Jenna is that we tend to have very eventful things happen during what should be normal days. She is the only person that can live through these events, laughing and making them into adventures instead of being frustrated and negative.
We moved all the way to Nashville and faced southern culture shock together, with no money and not even knowing where we would live. We saved money in jars to rent an apartment and moved in with no furniture, slept on sheets on the floor, saved again in jars to buy a couch from Big Lots, spent months working odd jobs and looking for change to buy food off the dollar menu, had our first garage sale experience in the pouring rain, have moved several times by ourselves, worked at 3 am putting furniture together in the Pier 1 parking lot in the snow....these are just a few examples of the things we have survived through together.
We've worked through the tough times and have been able to be honest with each other and grow our friendship stronger through them. We finish each other's sentences, wear the same clothes without even planning it and confuse our parents on the phone because we sound like the same person. She's the person I can stay up with till 3am talking about boys, life, God, the future and dreams. We've shared nanny jobs, had all our college classes together, were roommates all through college and have even traveled together.
   The funniest thing about it all....we could not be more different.   Jenna keeps me on track by being realistic and logical, she's a first born. I'm the middle child, spontaneous, leap before thinking type.    We balance each other out.    She made a spontaneous jump with me when we decided to go get two little puppies one day.    Pretty much she's amazing and we've both grown so much as individuals and in our spiritual walks because of what we have walked through together.
I thought it would be fun to share some photos through the years....Jenna, please don't hate me.

           typical night

                   (This was for graudation....funny part....the matching dresses was not really planned)

                 (drove a uhaul for the first time to get the couch we saved up for)
                     (we we're REALLY excited to get a vacuum)
                   (when we were jobless we would go to Ross and just try things on)
    (Our first Southern garage sale experience)

So now that you've had a little back story here is what we did for her birthday:
(My computer is totally full so couldn't edit any of these...but was to impatient to wait to post them)

 Before                                                                                                   after
 My little helpers

Gross lamp/night stand

 we had a midnight visitor
 Also...note...never make coffee when you are completely sleep deprived and being asked several questions by a five year will almost blow-up the coffee maker and need your boss to come to the rescue

Sawyer wanted to help so he fell into the teal paint

 almost finished with the accesories

 Angie's coffee vs. my coffee.....I like my straight up strong
 wall art
 we thought Jenna might like this
 we really wanted to play a joke and make some real cheesy BFF canvases
 TADA! Finished product

So that is the end to this super long post....pretty much I adore my BFF