Move Over Mary Poppins!

The real life adventures of one nanny, her husband, child, dogs, house, and whatever else crosses her path.

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Location: MA, United States

Find me at http://camerondgarriepy.com, and http://twitter.com/camerongarriepy

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Stinks for Material

But MoMP, I can hear you asking, are you not a nanny? Aren't you meant to posting about the trials and tribulations of nannying in the Hub?

Now that you mention it, yes, I am. And yes, I am.

So, here I go:

It's summer. The big kids are in New Hampshire for the next few weeks, and so it's just Felix, O, and me. Our lives are quiet. We paddle in pools, we play outside. We avoid drama and complications and structure whenever possible. Very boring. Absolutely nothing work related to post about.

But just in case you were wondering, O is still his usual quirky self.
Note the rain boots. His choice. Not mine.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Memere's Pool

Mark's current job site is his parents' house. He's remodeling their main bathroom and building them a new bath in their finished basement. He's also employing his youngest brother as a carpenter when M's not working his day job. This means he's working some weekends. Felix and I, while fans of Daddy's gainful employment, are not fans of Daddy working weekends. To ease the disappointment, we tagged along for the day to give Felix some time with his grandparents. Oh, and did I mention they have a pool?
Trying out his new floatie with Memere.
Drying off with Grandpa Bill.
Having a late afternoon, post work dip with Dad.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tower Hill

This afternoon, Felix & I met my mom for a few hours at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. They were having a lily and hosta show, and I do love looking at lilies and hosta (which together represent %50 of the plant varietals that I cannot kill). Oddly enough, while the show was excellent, it was the rest of the gardens that really caught my attention.
Snapdragon. Not a lily, but nonetheless awful purdy.
Water feature plants.
A wild Felix (felix torvus) in a meadow.

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Blueberry Muffins

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Back Roads & Farm Stands

Having sort of had it with the wait lists and totally inconvenient pick up schedules of local CSAs (one of which, for all my whining, I'd love to join), I decided to just hunt down a good, local farm stand, and go to it whenever possible. I found Hanson's Farm just up the road a piece from me, in a part of town that could be in Vermont, New Hampshire, or the Berkshires, for all the winding roads, horse farms, and antique colonial farm houses.

Felix & I shopped. I would have cheerfully brought home some of everything they had, but that would have been irresponsible, since there are only two of us eating fully solid meals these days. But I did get beets, patty pan squash, green beans, and corn. And that was on top of the two pounds of blueberries I picked this morning at Patt's Blueberries with Veronique and family. Of course, as they picked something like eight and a half pounds, that's not so impressive, is it?
This blueberry is my favorite. Just for reference, that's a US Quarter underneath it. It was tasty, too. I know. Cause I ate it.

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Having A Leg Up Just Means You Fall Farther

People often say to me, "Oh, parenthood should be easy for you, since you've raised so many kids already."

It's true, to a degree, that I have a leg up on most first time parents, if only because I've been in the diapers, vomiting, fevers, how-the-hell-do-I-do-that trenches before.

I am a first child, with a solid six year lead on my baby brother (who is, incidentally, a happily married father of two in southern PA - anyone need a landscaper with imagination to burn? He's your guy!). I am a classic of the genre. Academic achiever, largely self-driven, responsible, a total mother hen.

I am an Aries. Not so much stubborn as willful. Benignly self-involved (hello, Blog!). Independent to a fault. Bossy, too.

What happens to a seasoned nanny, who's also an Aries and a first born child, when she's faced with first time parenting dilemmas? Well, she calls her mom. That's what.

But I also find myself unable to talk about the dilemmas because people have such expectations of my parenting skills. When I can't figure something out, I feel like I've failed myself, my son, and all the kids I'm raising, too. It weighs heavily.

Take the last two weeks. My eight month old cherub, who has been coming along nicely since birth, if I do say so myself, has fallen apart at the seams. He doesn't want solid food so much, he wants to nurse constantly, he can't sleep through the night anymore. It's pure misery. He's still my happy, healthy little guy when the world isn't falling apart, but oooh, when he's off, he's really off!

The side of me that's seen all the poop before knows that this too shall pass, but the unwashed, exhausted, working a 55 hour week side of me wants to cry. Because I should have it all together, right? I should be able to keep my dishes washed and my child asleep between the hours of two and four AM, right? Because I should not only be able to identify that manky smell in my kitchen, but solve it, too, right? I should know better than to put so much pressure on myself, right?

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Vacation in a Day

La Famille MoMP headed off to the New Hampshire Seacoast yesterday on a spur of the moments suggestion from Mark. We stopped for an hour for lunch at the Purple Onion in Newburyport, MA, before heading up Route 1-A towards Hampton. We skimmed past Salisbury Beach on our way out of the state, and from there, it's just a hop-skip to Hampton. We circled a few times, loking for parking, before finding a spot at the north end of the strip.

We decided to take him down to the beach first, and give him a little baptism in the Atlantic. He was enjoying the hell out of watching the beach volley ball games, and the bright umbrellas and towels in the breeze. We plopped him down on the sand, which I tested first for foot-searing heat. Oh! the sacrifices of parenthood. Felix liked the sand beneath his feet, so, we ambitiously headed closer to the high tide line, looking forward to the Kodak moment of Boy meets Ocean.
So much for that!
He did, however enjoy meeting his father's dinner at The Blue Claw in Portsmouth.
Technically, we did cross over into Maine in order to stop for new boots for Mark at the Kittery Trading Post, so three states in one day - not too shabby for a summer vacation, right?

It was just enough to hold us all over until we can take a proper vacation together.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Oreos & Trains

Fourth of July is often a forgotten holiday around our house. Mark's work doesn't always allow him to fully take the day off, and while we're buying diapers remodeling (never mind with the cost of traveling anywhere this year), splashy vacations are right out. So, we usually keep it pretty low key, and this year we thought about extending our low key to others we knew. Alas, everyone we know is more exciting that we are, so when we were invited to head down to Rhode Island for swimming, we said yes. And then it was cloudy. And not really pool swimming warm.

So, in the end, we had a little kebab barbeque with Mark's mother, brother and sister-in-law, and his friend Pete. It was nice, and low key.

For me, the highlight of the day was the successful batch of Oreos I made.
For Felix, the highlights were getting a hold on Daddy's empty Highlife:
And the new train toy that Memere brought for him:
video

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Poolside Cabana East

We know we've got nothin' on the Burger, but we feel like we did pretty well.

I love my pool!
But swimming is very vigorous exercise.
And I'm very tired now. Good night.

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No Dogs Were Vacuumed While Creating This Post.

Though you might think several were based on this:

Before my weekly couch vacuuming session.

After.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Traditional Fourth of July Dinner... on the Second?

La Famille MoMP is headed south (to Rhode Island, but doesn't "south" sound more romantic?)for the fourth, and will not be visiting with Gramma and Grampa (who usually provide my fresh English peas fix for the year) for the traditional New England Independence Day Meal, so I needed to take care of business myself. With that in mind this past weekend, I bought fresh, local peas, strawberries, salmon, cream... it was a pricey blissful shopping trip.

When Felix & I got home from R's Brit Milah, I hit the kitchen to shell the peas. This was a job my mother and I often did together (or at least that's how I remember it; she might say differently), and now, doing it in my own kitchen, with Felix watching from his Saucer, it gave me a feeling of continuity that I wasn't even looking for when I planned this dinner. Food sneaks up on me like that. I get the same feeling from making my mother's spaghetti sauce and her mac 'n cheese. She never really taught me a recipe in one setting, she more showed me her techniques (or made me do it myself. who knew? chores really do make you learn stuff!). And even with my fancy culinary certificate, I still rely on a lot of her recipes to actually feed my family these days.

The peas looked gorgeous. I was almost tempted to leave them raw. The truth is, I love them raw. They're crunchy and bright tasting. Even my finicky five year old niece loves raw peas. When Mom takes her to the farm stand near their house, she always buys extra peas and lets Rylee carry the bag with her in the car, so she can snack on the peas. How could you not love these gorgeous babies? But for my purposes tonight they were best served cooked al dente in salted water. No butter, no fresh mint, no nonsense. Just perfect little legumes. But I digress. A. Lot.

After the peas were shucked, it was time to whip up shortcakes. Bisquick made short ooh hoo I said short! work of the pastry. That, and my dough whisk from the lovely folks at King Arthur Flour. It's perfect for blanding short doughs and batters without overworking them. I highly recommend one. I also have this superstition that doughs taste better in my great grandmother's bowl. So, there's that as well.

While the cakes were in the oven, I rubbed the fish to give it a head start. I seasoned the board with salt, fresh ground black pepper and chopped dried rosemary, lightly oiled the salmon with olive oil, then rolled the fish in the rub, patting it into a crust. For the record, this, too, is a divergence from the meal of my youth. Mom used to smear the fish with mayonnaise and rosemary when I was much younger. That practice stopped years ago, but I do remember the days! Given my dad's heart, I don't think we'll ever see those days again. Which is probably for the best.

I set that aside, and sliced some fresh strawberries, tossing them with a tablespoon of sugar to macerate. They looked awful pretty in their bowl. I maybe snacked on a few. In hindsight, I should have done this step first, and given them a little smashy smash with the spoon to get them all syrupy, but hindsight is always 20/20 and all that. They were still pretty damn tasty. Especially with shortcakes drool and whipped cream drool.

Next, potatoes in a salty pot of water, because growing up, salt potatoes were always part of the feast. This, so far as I know, is owing to the fact that my mom's best friend from college, with whose family we were all very close in my youth, was from the Syracuse region of Upstate, and my mom developed a taste for them. I didn't find proper salt potatoes, but these were good enough. I think it's the butter that makes them yummy, after all.

The fish came off the grill with gorgeous crispy skin, and was cooked perfectly(of course, my first love is raw sashimi grade salmon on a cold plate, but that's a different meal), a rare treat, since grilled fish has never been my strong suit. Look at that crusty crust. Mmmmm

While all this was going on, the shortcakes came out of the oven, looking lovely, save for the crispy bottoms. Perfect for Mark, who likes crusty brown bits on things, but I prefer a more tender shortcake experience. With candles, and wine, and maybe a snuggle.

We plated up dinner, and the rest was history. Pretty much literally. There was gluttony here. In fact, we usually save a seat for Gluttony here our family table. The he gets to sleep it off on our couch while we watch a movie. We have lovely manners, don't we?

Dessert was the perfect end to such indulgence. Don't you think?

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

theBob

Veronique and Will have a son! And Felix & I got to meet him yesterday! And tomorrow we'll know his name!

Pretty cute, huh? And my great big moose makes him look extra tiny...
Cheese!

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