Nanny, Observations, Self, Writing

moving sucks.

You may remember that I mentioned I was moving a while back. In fact, if you’ve been reading for more than a few months, you may remember that I’ve mentioned it twice, separately, in two different contexts. That’s cause I’ve moved twice in the past year. I’ve moved at least once a year, actually, since I graduated college.

In this new place, which is just slightly too expensive, and just slightly too inconvenient, but damn if it isn’t beautiful, I’m trying to forge a home more than I have in the other places I’ve lived. As an experiment, kind of; I don’t plan on living in the city for more than another year/ 1.5 years. I feel strongly that my time here is limited. Which makes investing in furnishings feel frivolous. But I’ve gotten tired of living in other people’s spaces, of feeling like I don’t have control over my home. I want to see how it feels to live in a place I got to decorate, where I get to set the rules.

That feeling of ease/ownership is complicated, in a way, by the fact that I’m now living with one of my best friends. I care about how my actions affect her more than I did about previous roommates. Which means I’m trying to be especially careful about, say, making noise early in the morning, or leaving messes in the kitchen. I’m not tiptoeing exactly, but I haven’t yet figured out a good balance between being conscientious and being comfortable.

My new housing situation is soon to be matched with a new employment situation, too. The families I’ve been working with nannying are moving on. The little girls are going to school! I haven’t quite let myself feel the full—honestly—grief that I know should/will accompany this transition. Hannah, one of the moms, told me the other day that I’ve been a third parent to her daughter. While I might debate that, it’s true I’ve been working with her daughter for two years and have had a big role in shaping the small person she is. But my brain has been so caught up in anxiety about moving and finding new employment, in grasping at the fragments of newness and hints of what’s to come in order to establish some semblance of security that I haven’t allowed myself to mourn the shift/ loss of that precious relationship. My temporary situation is such that I am going to be working with another family for at least a month until I find out whether my office job can offer me a full time position beginning in April.

With all the transitions, too, finances are a concern. I was just offered a position at an Arts and Social Justice Jam in San Diego in April—with a significant scholarship and travel discount. The total cost is still over a week’s pay for me at this point, though. A friend of mine is facilitating the conference and attended it herself year; she called it life-changing and credits it with setting her on a path to healing after several years of trauma and trauma-fallout. I could use a creative kick-in-the-pants, but as always, money hounds me.

I’m going to accept the position and pray for the wisdom to make the best decision. If you’ve got it in you, would you mind joining me?

Nanny, Observations, Self, Writing

my trip to Israel.

I’ll be honest. Israel is not a place I ever planned to visit. Nothing about it called out to me, and I imagined it was mostly sand and conservative people and a whole lot of guns (only the latter turned out to be true.) With embarrassingly wholesale dismissiveness, I labeled it backwards and that was that.

Now. One of the families I used to nanny for is Israeli, and when they moved back last fall, they immediately began begging me to visit. With some hesitation (and enormous thankfulness at their offer to pay for my ticket) I agreed. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t anticipate finding it so beautiful.

Having returned, I have complicated feelings about the trip. It’s a blur, what with meeting someone handsome at a bar in Tel Aviv and spending too much money in an antique shop in Jerusalem and kissing the ground where Jesus’ cross was erected and feeling my blisters and scratches burn in the salty Dead Sea and eating my weight in hummus. While I was there, I didn’t think too much about the horror stories I’ve heard about Israeli politics. Everyone I met was generous and open and asked me at least once to move there or visit again and stay with them. For a place that I’ve heard referred to as “evil” with some regularity, its people were normal, nice, and welcoming.

It’s not like it matters whether I have some kind of comprehensive opinion of whether “Israel”– land, state, collection of people, however you want to define it–is “good” or “bad” (I think it’s stupid to have an opinion about something as vast and abstract as a nation, and even more so to try to form one after having visited for a week), but it’s strange visiting a place whose people and policies seem so different. Then again, since I was interacting mostly with young, modern people from the secular Tel Aviv, aaaaaand couldn’t understand anything they said that wasn’t in English, aaaaaaaand everyone I met knew I was friends with a wealthy native Israeli (my host), it’s not like I experienced anything near like a representative sampling of what life in Israel is like, or of what a Palestinian person might experience in Israel, or of what the broad trends in popular opinion about Jewish-Palestinian relations are.

Pics will have to come later in the week; I tried to email them to myself, and this is the only one that came through:

image2 (1)

One of about 10,000 churches I saw in Jerusalem; but perhaps the most beautiful.


Design, Nanny, Observations

children’s book illustrations.

At the house of one of the kiddos I nanny, the upstairs neighbors were getting rid of a bunch of books. One of said books, which I rescued is an old-school compendium of “the best” children’s illustrators. I haven’t read any of the text (who does, for a coffee table book?) but the artwork is gorgeous.

I freely confess to judging children’s books by their covers/ illustrations, and this is just further proof that that’s a great idea.


Design, Nanny, Observations

odds and ends (and a plea for advice?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

GOOD MORNING darlings and dearests! I am trying to get my finances in order but can’t seem to find a way to keep track of my spending and budgeting that’s convenient, comprehensive, and can easily accommodate cash flows. Mint is popular, I know, but it constantly miscategorizes things and entering my cash expenditures has felt like a hassle. Are there any other options out there that you guys like?

As always (lolz because I’ve been inconsistent– I’m working on it!) here are some links to get your weekend started right.

A thought-provoking (and simultaneously kind of “duh”) article about the way we should be disciplining kids in school. 

Why, WHYYYYY is SNL still going to have Donald Trump host??

Can worrying be good for you? 

A spare, natural, exquisite apartment.

The skincare routines of beauty editors (or, I should have known I could never afford to become a beauty editor.) (Or, WHAT THE HOLY HELL, $200 FOR FACE CREAM THAT STILL REQUIRES A WHOLE OTHER FACE CREAM?!?!?!?)

An incredible blog about creating content, branding, and marketing. 

A very biased, but very absorbing, but very cerebral look at American nationalism by Anatol Lievin.

That’s all folks! Have a creative and gorgeous weekend.

xoxo, mel.

Nanny, Observations

the kids in action.

As you may know, during some of my waking hours, I am a nanny to a pair of three-year-olds. Most of the time it’s grand. M and T are gorgeous, active, funny girls who love taking their dolls to the doctor AND pretending to be monsters. (M’s mom remarked drily to me this morning, “Violet [M’s baby doll] is a bit of a wan child,” as Mathilde administered a shot to Violet’s head for the umpteenth time.) Occasionally, aka when they’re having a tantrum, it’s incredibly frustrating, although I have to say that when I see other kids in the neighborhood and their behavior, I feel extremely lucky. M and T desperately want to be Big Girls, and I can use that to guide their behavior pretty reliably.

Here are some of the ridiculous/adorable things M has said in the past few months, if you’d like to see…

While reading a book in which some of the farm animals were not helping their friend

M: Why are they just standing there?

Me: Well, they’re being a bit lazy.

M: [shaking her head] Lazy hipsters.


M: What were you saying?

Me: I was telling my friend that I don’t know if I want to go to a party tonight. I might be tired.

M: Meesa, if you’re not into it, don’t go.


M: You look like a dump truck!


Me: If you could ask Chucha [our cat] any question, and have her answer you, what would you ask?

M: I would say, “Chucha, why are you sitting on that chair?”

Me: And what do you think she would say?

M: “Just because I want to.”


Oh, M. Never let life change the lil’ sassafrass you are.

Design, Nanny, Observations, Self, Spirituality

odds and ends (and i got a job!)

Happy Friday! Are you up to anything fun this weekend? My week took a crazy turn because I started a new job– that makes four! I’m doing communications for a breast + ovarian cancer charity called SHARE. So my weekend will be filled with all the errands and social life I don’t have time for during the week. (ha… social life…)

Anyway, here are five links that will help your weekend get started right.

Gorgeous, eclectic mid-century modern design. 

The most meaningful and intimate (and delicious!) church service I’ve been to.

An obscure German philosopher on the necessity of leisure.

Should we quit forcing children to share?

This movie looks hilarious. JEMAINE 4EVERRRRR.


This is Ridiculous, This is Amazing

I’m not a parent, but everyone who interacts with children needs a list of these…

Games You Can Play While Lying Down

by Jason Good, in the excellent book This is Ridiculous, This is Amazing

  1. Put All the Sunglasses and Hats on Daddy
  2. Take off Daddy’s Socks
  3. Put Mommy’s Socks on Daddy
  4. Try to Lift Daddy
  5. Put the Cats on Daddy
  6. Wind Monster (Just blow on them. If you really commit, you might pass out and that’s the same as sleeping.)
  7. Human Body Tower
  8. Pull Daddy Around on a Sleeping Bag
  9. Breath-Holding Competition
  10. Daddy’s a Giant Conga Drum (Think of it as accupressure therapy.)
  11. Daddy’s a Guitar (Make sure kids’ fingernails are clipped. Also, no picks.)
  12. Put Daddy in “Sofa Jail”
  13. Pretend We’re Sleeping Cats!
  14. Decorate Daddy’s Jeans with Sidewalk Challk
  15. Put Makeup on Daddy
  16. Turn Daddy into a Burrito (a.k.a. “The Mummy”; requires a beige flat sheet and patience)
  17. Pretend to Eat Daddy (no utensils)
  18. Vacuum Daddy
  19. Embalm Daddy

If you’re not familiar with this book, I recommend you become so immediately. I bought it for one of the families I nanny for when they had their second child, and I was told they had to put it down because the mom’s belly laughter was making her stitches hurt.

photo via Chronicle Books