Barbie and Babysitting

My dad’s mom died when I was nine years old. They lived four hours away from us, so even when she was doing well we didn’t see them much. However, there was one day we were at their house, and we had a birthday party type thing for me. I don’t remember it very well, but I do remember a cookout, dinosaur sprinkles, and some presents. These presents were very special to me. Around the time of my birthday the movie Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses came out. I got the movie, a dress and shoes, and a Barbie doll; all from the movie. This eventually became my favorite movie, and I still watch it sometimes (the classic Barbie movies are all still great, in my opinion).

As many of you probably know, I do quite a bit of babysitting and child care. Previously, I had only watched boys, so it never even occurred to me that they’d be interested in a Barbie movie (which they totally would’ve, so I wish I had thought of it sooner), but I recently got a job babysitting for two little girls, and they love this movie. And the fact that I got to share the joy I had always had from the movie with these little girls meant the world to me. I was so happy that they loved it as much as I did.

I didn’t get to spend very much time with my grandma before she died, so while I was growing up, this movie meant a lot to me. It was one of the few ways I got to hold onto her even though she was gone, so it was really special for me to be able to show this movie to these girls, and help a little piece of my grandma continue to live on.

Probably one of my favorite things about kids in general is how much they love to learn. Especially around the age of four.

Sometimes I’ll take the two little girls I watch to the park, and on our way there there are tons of flowers. The four year old knows most of them, but I’ll ask her if she knows what the flowers are, and if she doesn’t I’ll tell her, and we’ll talk about all the different kinds of flowers. I just love being able to tell kids why things are. Why certain words are put together this way, or why certain animals do certain things. I just find it really interesting, and I love how these kids just absorb any knowledge that’s thrown their way, and continue to use it for years to come.

Happiness

Popcorn + late night + toothpaste = happiness

When I was little and my cousins, sister, and I were all at my grandma’s house, it often felt like the happiest place on earth (when we all weren’t fighting, of course). Today I get to share with you another great memory involving popcorn, late nights, and toothpaste.

After a long day of playing outside, and covering ourselves with a fine layer of dirt, my grandma would give us all bubble baths. After baths we would climb into our jammies, snuggle up on the couch, and watch a movie. (On REALLY special nights we would all sleep in the living room and watch some 80’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Tom and Jerry.) We would all be completely zoned out by whatever we were watching, and then that beautiful smell would come wafting out of the kitchen. We would hear the loud pop of the air popper, the beep from the microwave, meaning the butter was melted, and the shaking of salt and butter in a tub completely covering each individual piece of popcorn (and sometimes there were extra buttery ones that got a little too covered; those were my favorite). Grandma would bring in a couple plastic ice cream buckets full of popcorn, take one to my grandpa, and then come and sit with us.

Once popcorn was finished, and bedtime loomed (usually after Power Puff Girls at ten ‘o clock) she would scoot us into the bathroom, make us brush our teeth, and then send us all upstairs to bed. She would follow soon after, tuck us in, and read us a story. Once the story was over she turned off the lights, headed downstairs, and left us, full of love (and food), to think about the day. To think about the fun we had and the fun tomorrow would bring. But, mostly what I felt, was happiness. The fresh feeling of the bath. The warm feeling of the popcorn. And the cool feeling of the toothpaste.

The Price of Investing

This post is going to be the first part of a two part series (assuming I remember what the second post was gonna to be…)

I love to invest in people. I love to love on them, and help them, and care about them, and hopefully make a difference in their lives. I think that’s why I love working with kids so much. I love being able to love on them and teach them how to love people. But, with investing comes a price. A price that, to me, means quite a lot. The price, of loss.

Every time I invest in someone I know they aren’t going to be in my life forever, but I almost never remember that. When you love on people it’s hard to let them go. Even if it might be the right decision.

It seems a lot like fostering.* You take in these kids with every intention to love on them like they’re your own. You spend months, maybe even years, taking them to school, asking how their day was, playing with them, laughing with them. And then you get a call. The parents are ready to take the kids back. And they’re just, gone. You know it’s better for them to be with their parents if they can, but you’ve been with these kids for so long, you just don’t want to let go.

I’ve never felt that in a foster situation, but I’ve had plenty of people come, and go, and I’ve spent years wondering if they remember me. Wondering if I made a difference to them. Praying that I helped them in some way. And you know what? That’s all we can do. I’ve said multiple times that people come and go. So, with that in mind, I’ve tried to forget the pain of them leaving. I’ve tried to forget the fear of being forgotten. Because all we can do is do our best in the moment, and pray for the best.

A couple years ago, when I suddenly realized that some people will leave, I came to the conclusion that if I stop investing, and loving, I’ll never be hurt. I’ll never feel that loss of losing someone I care about. But when I started to get hugs from little kids who were genuinely happy to see me, and missed me, I realized that it’s worth it. Somethings are just worth feeling a little hurt for. I’m pretty sure you can ask any foster parent if it was worth it, bringing a little kid into your home only to leave again, and they’ll say yes. Those hugs and those happy moments make up for the pain you might feel.

Turns out I do remember what the second post will be about. So, instead of making this one stupid long, I’ll cut off here and continue another day. Stay tuned, kids.

Oh, and, if you have a happy memory, or any way that I’ve made an impact in your life, I’d love to hear it. Especially from those of you I haven’t seen/ talked to in a while. Feel free to comment below, or message me on Twitter.

*Please note that I’ve never been in a foster family, so I have no practical knowledge of any of this, but I know people who are foster families and I’ve read up on the subject. This story is simply meant to be used as an analogy.

Wood Smoke

Wood smoke is one of my favorite smells in the entire world. It’s just one smell, but it holds so many different memories.

When I was very young, around four, I think, my sister and I would go with my grandparents to reenactments of French fur trappers from the sixteen hundreds. Because I was so little I don’t remember them much, but there was always the smell of wood because it was at a camp ground. Now, when I smell the combination of wood smoke and a late summer evening, I will always be reminded of some of the happiest memories I have with my grandparents.

I’m so in awe of the fact that something so small can impact you so much. I have a memory for pretty much any combination of wood smoke.

  • Wood smoke and winter = my grandparents farm
  • Wood smoke and summer = cook-outs with one of my favorite neighbors
  • Wood smoke and fall = carving pumpkins with my cousin and sister

I know I go on and on about smells, but that’s because they’re so cool, and they feel so good. Every time I “smell a memory”, if you will, it makes me so happy.

The Good Ol’ Days

When I was little my grandma would always give us baths before bed because we spent all day playing outside in the dirt. We would rotate between the four or five of us girls while a movie was on. I never really realized until today how amazing a memory that is. Last night I took a bath. It wasn’t super hot outside, but the world still felt like summer. I walked out of the steamy bathroom, took in the feel of the summer evening, and felt just like a little kid again. I’m not sure there’s anything more comforting than remember rocking in my grandma’s lap after an amazingly fun, magical day.

My House

I love my house. From every angle, upside and down, I will always love my house. I’ve never been to a place that lit up the way my house did. A place that was just as green in the summer, and completely glowed with life. I love how it looks in the winter, when the porch lights are on at night and you can see every snowflake in the air. I love how it looks on a late summer night, when the fireflies are dancing among the dandelions. And I love how it looks in the morning, when everything is fresh, and wet, and waking up.

I love how it changes through each season. It starts in spring, when everything smells so sweet. The colors of every flower pop out of every direction. The trees bud, starting the range of color throughout the year, and they slowly fall down onto the world. Making everything just as beautiful.

It then moves onto summer, where the nights only get more beautiful. Around seven o’clock the sun sets just right, shedding a golden light on everything, and amplifies the color all around. The fireflies come out to play and everyone walks out onto the porch to watch the sunset. The pink, orange, green, and purple sky.

On comes autumn. The world gets chillier yet still amazingly beautiful. Leaves start to fall, get caught in the breeze, and float along. Finding their own adventure. Through the whole season I hear the beginnings of new stories… New places to go and see…

Oh winter… Hated by many, loved by few. You turn my house into an amazing place. It’s always still on the outside, and cozy and warm on the inside. It’s safe. Like a big, warm hug. You make my entire house sparkle from ground to roof.

I could go on and on about the things from my house… My secret garden. My portal to Brazil. My evening terrace. The world you live in is only what you make of it. I choose to make mine as magical and beautiful as possible.