Be More Chill

When I decided to write a book review for each book I read during the 2018 Challenge, I didn’t exactly think through the fact that I’ll be reading 50 books this year! Needless to say, between packing for a move and actually reading the books, I’ve gotten a bit behind. Nonetheless, I’ve promised book reviews, so book reviews you shall receive!

After reading Kondo’s book and being forced to reckon with the sheer quantity of things I own, I wanted something a little less… personal. So, I moved on to Ned Vizzini’s Be More Chill, which filled the category of “a book that is also a stage play or musical.” It also filled my own personal category of a book my boyfriend has been asking me to read for forever. He had recommended it to me months ago, telling me that it was a YA novel about a teen dealing with high school. Those of you who have read this book are probably laughing now. I had no idea what I was in for.

I’ll provide a small synopsis here, but know that if you haven’t read it and want to experience the same shock I did, stop reading this now and go read that instead. It’s truly fantastic.

Be More Chill follows Jeremy, a high school student dealing with the same thing most high school students deal with: the desire to be cooler. He wants to get through high school unscathed and, perhaps, get the cute girl he likes while he’s at it. After a rocky beginning full of more second-hand embarrassment than I knew what to do with, Jeremy learns about something called a “squip.” It’s basically a pill that you take that activates a computerized voice in your head, which then tells you what to do and say in order to, well, be more chill. The novel is great about explaining the mechanics of this, from the inner-workings of the squip itself to the way that it interacts with the brain. I, however, am not great about understanding them, so if that’s your thing you will have to read it yourself. I could go on and on about all of the interesting things that follow the moment Jeremy gets a squip, but I sincerely do not want to ruin what is an intensely unique and surprising plot, so please just take my word for it, one more time, and read it yourself.

Sometimes when I read YA novels, I find myself making mental notes about how I would teach it in a classroom setting. This book was full of them, though it definitely deals with some mature content and language. It may be a tough sell to get into a classroom, but the overarching theme of a desire for acceptance is something all teenagers (and adults, really) can relate to. I mean, I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish for an instruction manual to get me through high school. 

This book is weird and wonderful, and I’d love to share more about it, but I genuinely want you all to feel the same shock and uncertainty that I did as I worked my way through the plot. If you have read this book (or even if you just want to), feel free to discuss it in the comments! I’d love to hear what you think. 

Challenge Accepted

As part of my goal to make 2018 the year of being kind to myself (because This One’s For Me, read more on that here), I decided to take on POPSUGAR’s 2018 Reading Challenge. I convinced my boyfriend to join in and help keep me inspired (though it didn’t take much convincing, he loves books as much as I do), and have roped in one or two more friends to embark upon this year of reading. For those of you who aren’t familiar, POPSUGAR releases annual challenges that help cultivate a more diverse year of reading. There are 40 basic prompts and 10 additional “advanced” prompts, bringing the possible yearly total to 50 books – a large, but definitely doable, goal. 

Spending time going through the list and assigning books is just as fun as reading them, at least it is for a huge nerd like me. I’ve already mapped out several, and am excited to start researching books in the remaining categories to finish my list. To bring a little extra adventure to the challenge (and to help with another resolution, to write every day), I’ve decided I’ll bring you all along for the ride by reviewing the books I read during the challenge. So, without further ado, I present my first book review of 2018.

I started with Mari Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book that’s lived on my Kindle for months now, thus checking off the category “a book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to.” I read it two short sessions, taking a break in between to put some of Kondo’s tips to the test. This book has been hyped up for so long, now, that I’ve been promising myself I’d read it forever. It seemed like the perfect book for the moment, though, because what better time to declutter your life than when you’re packing everything you own into boxes?

The book itself is a quick read, which made it a great jumping-off point for the year. As with many self-help and advice books, I know I won’t utilize everything she discusses, but much of what Kondo advises is a great baseline for organization. Her tips for decluttering made the biggest impact, and I’ve already begun implementing it in my closet. I removed each item of clothing from my closet (a process that took longer than I’d like to admit) and held them, making the active choice to keep or discard. Kondo says to keep what brings you joy when you hold it, so as I reviewed my wardrobe, I tried to do just that. It may seem a little hokey at first, but I can honestly say that it didn’t take long to actually work. Looking at each item of clothing I own and choosing to get rid of those that don’t make me happy was incredibly effective, and I ended up purging six garbage bags of clothes that either didn’t fit, felt uncomfortable, or just generally didn’t make me feel good when I put them on. Asking yourself what brings you joy is a great way to really honestly take stock of what you should and shouldn’t hang on to. However, I don’t know that I’ll apply the same principle to paperwork or kitchen utensils. My medical file doesn’t exactly bring me joy, but that doesn’t mean I should throw it out. 

The remainder of the book deals a lot with organizing and putting items away. This is where she started to lose me a little. Kondo advises putting everything away, all the time, no exceptions. Even down to emptying your purse or backpack at the end of each day. She also urges readers to thank your items for their service, telling your purse how hard it worked or thanking your socks for keeping your feet warm. I have a hard time seeing the practicality of this level of tidying, and I probably will not be trying it myself. As much as I loved her decluttering techniques, I just can’t bring myself to keep the shampoo I use every morning in a cabinet or to dry my kitchen sponge outside. That being said, I think the root of this advice is really fantastic. While I won’t be speaking to my clothes any time soon, I love the idea of being more intentional about feeling gratitude. I’m not going to thank my purse for working hard, but isn’t it great that I have a job that allowed me to buy a purse that makes me smile every time I see it? How wonderful is it that I live in a society that allows me to dress in clothes that bring me joy? How fantastic is it that I have a wonderful friend who so thoughtfully gave me a gorgeous ukulele? We all have so much stuff, and – for me, at least – it is so easy to lose track of how lucky we are to have so much, and to have so many opportunities to make the things we own useful, beautiful things that bring us joy. I love Kondo for the fact that I won’t have to ship half my clothes across the country when I move, but this lesson in gratitude was my favorite takeaway from her book. 

To start our challenge off right, this was also my boyfriend’s first book of 2018. I think I liked much more of the book than he did, especially in the second half, but I think he’s also excited to try out some of her suggestions.

All in all, it was a great way to start off the reading challenge. It inspired me to get a head start on my packing, helped me act on a resolution I’ve been making for years, and reminded me just how lucky I am to be surrounded by so many things (and people) that bring me joy.

Tips For the Best Solo Road Trip

Rules of the Road:

How to Have the Best Road Trip Experience When You’re all by Yourself

A while back, in an attempt to have a Great American Adventure, I took a road trip from Montana (the state in which I live) to Colorado (the state in which most of my family lives). It was my first ever solo road trip, and I was both terrified and excited at the prospect. Along the way, I learned a lot about the complicated love/hate relationship one develops with solo travel. I also learned a lot about the pitfalls that come from poor planning. If you’re planning on taking a solo road trip, save yourself some stress and learn from my mistakes!

 

1. Track your weather often. I made the mistake of waiting until the day before I left to do this and ended up having to postpone the trip because of a winter storm.

* If you live in a magical place that’s always sunny, this one might not apply to you (and also, I kind of hate you).

 

2. Don’t forget WATER. Snacks are obviously important, but please for the love of God do not forget to bring along water bottles. You’ll thank me halfway along a lonely interstate when the nearest gas station is hours away and the combination of the heater and the three bags of Funyuns have you thoroughly dehydrated.

 

3. Pack snacks that will remain edible after being knocked around in the car. You may think you’re trying to be healthy, but sooner or later you’ll find that bananas are not made for long road trips. I repeat, bananas are not made for long road trips.

 

4. TRACK THE FULLNESS OF YOUR GAS TANK. If you do not pay attention to this, you may find yourself halfway through Wyoming with no gas station in sight. I remain firmly convinced that it was the power of prayer fueling my car for at least thirty miles out there.

 

5. Bring sunglasses. They help keep the sun from blinding you, but they also lend you a stylish flair when you burst into a small-town gas station and buy their entire stock of Baked Lays Originals.

 

6. Don’t forget your entertainment! When you’re a flying solo, there is no passenger or copilot to entertain you through the long hours. Podcasts, carefully curated music playlists, and audiobooks are your friends.

 

7. Please keep your mother/father/aunt/uncle/cousin/bestfriend informed of your location and safety. If you forget this step, you will be attacked by a thousand voicemails and text messages. Also, you know, they’ll be totally worried about you and you’ll feel like a terrible daughter/son/niece/nephew/cousin/bestfriend.

 

8. In order to legally follow the previous piece of advice, bring a Bluetooth/headphone microphone set/fancy car system. Many states have laws prohibiting talking on the phone without a hands-free device (including my own), and even if the state you’re traveling through does not, it’s a good safety practice.

 

9. Plan your time well. The day I left, I was traveling part of the way to stay a night at my cousin’s house and planned on completing the rest of my journey the following morning. I left my house at six in the morning and ended up at my cousin’s hours before she was expecting me. I could have slept in! I could have driven the entire way! I could have stopped at all those Starbucks I passed!

 

10. HAVE FUN! For the first hour or so, I was so focused on getting to my destination on time that I both sped and panicked about the fact that I was speeding. The next hour was spent driving under the speed limit and panicking about that. When I finally let go and allowed myself to sing loudly and obnoxiously to show tunes or laugh out loud at an audiobook, I had the time of my life.

* Bonus tip here: Don’t forget that cruise control exists.

 

11. And finally, let yourself feel the feels you need to feel. I took this trip to get some distance from a hard situation, and road trips are fantastic places to process hard feelings. You can cry (though not too much, because you need to maintain a certain level of visibility), you can laugh, you can scream as loud as you want. You can feel. Let the road trip be your slow ride to healing, and arrive wherever you’re going in a better frame of mind. Arrive at peace.

Making Moves

I talk a lot about looking to the universe – for signs, for guidance, for instructions on how the hell to be an adult… I’m always looking, but I never really expect to see anything. Sometimes, though, the universe slaps you in the face.

 

As some of you may know, I moved to Montana about four years ago, after deciding to take a break from college and leave Florida behind. Since I grew up an hour from here in northern Wyoming, moving to Montana felt a lot like coming home. And while there were a lot of pieces of my childhood in Wyoming that I’ll cherish forever, going “home” was never something I wanted to do. I’ve been planning my departure for almost as long as I’ve lived here, staying as long as I have only because I love my family and I love my job. Like I said, sometimes the universe slaps you in the face.

A little while ago, my mom, sister, and brother-in-law all announced that they were planning on moving. The timeline wasn’t solid, but it would be soon, and they’d be gone. I reeled – sure, we were all busy and didn’t see much of each other, but what would I do in a city that I didn’t like without the people who made it likeable? I started thinking about this place I’ve called home for almost four years, about everything that had kept me from moving. Without my family, the only thing left was a half-completed degree (at a school I hate) and my job. My wonderful, exciting, life-giving job. My job that would be ending within the year, because of my college scheduling and because the littlest would be starting preschool. So, adding all of that up, I’m not left with much… a family moving, a job ending, a school that makes me – a lifelong nerd – dread going to school, and a boyfriend living across the country.

After telling him what was going on, he summed it up efficiently and insightfully, as only my boyfriend can. “The only thing keeping you there is inertia, and that’s not a very good reason.” Universe, thy name is Shane.

 

Over the past four years, I had become very accustomed to things not going my way. I got used to pieces falling apart just when I needed them to stick together most. But that night, on the phone with my boyfriend, all of the falling pieces started to take the shape of a plan. A very scary, very exciting, very possible plan. If all of the things keeping me in Montana were disappearing, why did I have to stay in Montana? I wanted a better education. I wanted a new adventure. And, most of all, I wanted to start my life with my wonderful person (and stop spending ridiculous amounts of money flying across the country to visit him). My feet had grown itchy long ago, and it seemed like the Universe was telling me to let them roam.

The thing about moving across the country, though, is that you’re moving across the country. There is no way to simply move 3,000 miles away just like that. For one thing, despite my dislike of the city, I’ve built a life in Billings and formed my own family here. Saying goodbye to the sisters I’ve found here, the kids I’ve helped raise, and the bosses that have become like family will be like tearing out a piece of my heart. For another, packing up my belongings and driving them across the country will be like tearing out a piece of my bank account. Or, like, all of it. I’m scared to say goodbye to my closest friends. I’m scared to pare down my life to what fits in the back of my car. I’m scared to disappoint the people I’m leaving behind. I’m scared to live in a new state, and I’m scared to take such a big step in my relationship.

But underneath all of that fear is something so wonderful. Underneath is the understanding that in life, sometimes you have to make big moves to get big results. It’s the idea that for the first time, I’m taking responsibility for my own happiness. I’m looking at areas in my life that do not bring me joy, and I’m choosing to put in the work to change them.

I made a lot of changes in the past year. I’ve worked hard to learn a lot about myself, and to grow and improve in areas that need it. I started this blog, started going to therapy, started letting people in… And as I look back, I’m realizing that all of those changes were leading up to this moment. Call it fate, call it a higher power, call it whatever you want – this entire year seems to have been orchestrated to prepare me for this moment. To stand at the edge of a new life, and take the plunge – not unafraid, but not unprepared either.

So here I go. Saying goodbye to family, goodbye to a job that’s shaped my adulthood, and goodbye to a place I’ve (reluctantly) called home for almost four years. I’m stepping into a new year, a new state, and a new life in a deliberate effort to change my world for the better. 

2018 will be a lot of things. It’s going to be the year I learn how to be a little selfish. It’ll be the year I say goodbye to the two amazing children I’ve been lucky enough to help raise. The year I learn just how many books I own when I try to fit them in the back of my car, the year I try not to cut myself with a packing tape-gun, the year I de-clutter my life, the year I cry because it’s so hard to make big changes, and the year I make them anyway. 

Resolutionized 2.0

Resolutionized2.0rovingstone.com_.pngA year ago, when I started this blog, I made myself a few New Year’s Resolutions. I resolved to write – and post – more regularly. I resolved to be better with money. And, last but not least, I resolved to travel more. I intended to keep the first and do my best on the final two, knowing that I would (in true Kaitlin fashion) likely let them all slide as the year wore on. Well, for those of you who follow me, you know I did sort of drop the ball here. I did my best to post with semi-regularity, but seven posts in one year is not exactly what I’d call a major accomplishment.

Here’s the thing, though. I killed it with the other two. Since July of this year, I’ve taken a trip almost every month. The silver lining to long-distance relationships, I suppose. I traveled to Denver in July (read more about that here) and had an amazing (if emotional) adventure with my boyfriend, Shane. We went to aquariums and ate Mexican food on the Fourth of July and he held me while I cried about losing my cat. Then, in August, he traveled here to visit me in Montana for my birthday. We celebrated and he met some of my family and we saw The Lion King at an inexplicable 9:00 PM showing at the movie theater. In September, I flew to North Carolina to visit him. We celebrated our six-monthiversary a little early (yes we are that gross, thank you) and went roller skating, and neither one of us fell down a single time. In October, he and I met my dad, stepmom, stepbrother and his girlfriend, and my grandparents in Utah to see a few shows at Tuacahn Amphitheater in Saint George. From there, Shane and I took a shuttle to Vegas where we spent a few days. More on that trip later (or perhaps not, it was Vegas after all). In November, I flew back to North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with Shane and his amazing family. We ate a lot of food and I fought through my overwhelming nerves to get to know his incredible parents, brother, uncle, and grandmother. Shane came back to Montana to spend Christmas with me in December, and that rounds out the year.

I’ve also been working toward the goal of having an Adult Credit Score Number™, which has involved a lot of panic attacks, pep talks, and not stopping at Target for “just one quick thing.” With some help, I’ve put in a lot of work and am finally seeing actual results. There may come a day in my life where I can actually get a mortgage. Big stuff, people. So, for the most part, I’ve actually lived up to my resolutions this year, for the first time in maybe ever. 2018 has some big shoes to fill, but I’ve got a plan to fill them.

I’m a big fan of titles. I like the power behind a strong name, and the positive visualization it allows. In 2017, The Year of Travel became a mantra of sorts, and it carried me through a year of adventure, excitement, and total happiness. So, instead of focusing on big resolutions, I’ve been trying to come up with a name for 2018. I thought about The Year of Big Moves, The Year of Change, The Year of Kindness… Nothing seemed quite right until my boyfriend suggested 2018: This One’s For Me. Cheesy? Maybe. Will I be getting a custom-made t-shirt and bumper sticker ordered immediately? You bet.

So much of what I ended up working on throughout the past year (the traveling, straightening out my finances, starting therapy, etc.) was in the pursuit of becoming the happiest version of myself – I just didn’t realize that at the time. I never set out to be a happier me in 2017. I simply started the process of learning how to make choices for myself, rather than for the benefit of everyone else. Someone very wise told me that “selfish” doesn’t have to be a bad word, and that it’s okay to make decisions in my own best interest. So, in the new year, I’m going to take what I learned in 2017 and act on it more deliberately. This one’s for me.

When Vacations Go Awry

There are times in life when, despite hours (and hours and hours) of careful, thoughtful planning, things do not go the way they should. Regardless of your meticulously-bulleted itinerary, your well-researched list of restaurants and local attractions, and your overly-packed suitcase (okay, okay, suitcases), life has a habit of getting in the way. Which explains why, on my second-favorite holiday (because, you know, Christmas), I found myself writing this blog post from bed instead of eating hot dogs and waving sparklers.

I spent the Fourth of July in Denver with my boyfriend (Shane). He and I spent months planning this trip. Long distance relationships are rough, so we poured all of our restless energy and excitement into carefully mapping out our Denver Adventure™. I would drive down, he would fly in, I’d meet him at the airport and tackle him in a hug. We had several restaurants we wanted to try, along with a few local attractions to visit – most notably the zoo and museum, a pair that we planned on visiting back-to-back on a day we dubbed “Zoo-seum Day.” Yeah, we’re that couple. We planned on rounding out Zoo-seum Day with an evening of fireworks at Independence Eve, an annual Denver celebration. I packed snacks and sunscreen and a picnic blanket and a patriotic shirt and wine and – well, suffice it to say I basically filled the entire backseat of my car. I was ready.

When Zoo-seum Day arrived, Shane and I packed up my car and set out for part one of our adventure. We had planned on getting to the zoo as close as possible to nine (when they opened) so that we could beat the crowds. We should have known what the day would become when we finally pulled in to our fourth-level parking spot at 10:45AM and battled a throng of stroller-wielding families to exit the parking garage. After a few more kerfuffles piled on, we decided to abandon the zoo and visit the aquarium instead. The Denver aquarium was fantastic – they had a great mix of fish and lots of themed exhibits (everyone knows how I love a good theme). Most importantly, we made friends with some of the cutest otters in the world and I didn’t even otter-nap one to bring home. I’m such an adult. By the time we were nearing the exit, though, Shane was growing weary. We grabbed some food, came back to the hotel, and promptly fell asleep. Apparently, he’d caught the cold I’d been battling for a week or so. The perks of being a Nanny.

The world's cutest dog with his new best friend, the otter.

The world’s cutest dog with his new best friend, the otter.

When we woke up from our nap, I was prepared to enter Caregiver Mode™ and help him through the evening. That is, until I saw the several missed calls and texts from my mom. I’ll give you the short version of this story in the interest of time and feels. My mom was cat-sitting for me, and my cat had become very sick at some point in the day. Very, very, sick. After a few hours of phone calls between Shane, my mom, the veterinarian, and myself, the vet put my sweet kitty down while my mom held her. She could have waited until I got back, but it would have been an incredibly painful week for my sweet girl. So, battling the runniest nose I’ve ever seen and a killer sore throat, Shane spent his evening taking care of me instead. He talked to the vet when I couldn’t stop crying enough to speak, he helped me work through the emotions to reach a decision, and when it was all over, he let me cry on his shoulder and did his best to make me laugh (his best is very good, and I laughed a lot).

The next day, we both knew we wouldn’t be feeling up to any Fourth of July celebrations, despite it being one of the greatest holidays ever. So instead, we spent our morning watching How I Met Your Mother and eating crepes we had delivered to the hotel room. Eventually, thanks to some nap-related energy, we finished off the day by walking to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner and margaritas. We’ve since decided that celebrating America’s birthday by eating Mexican food is going to be our tradition. It wasn’t even close to the celebration I had carefully planned, but it ended up being the most fantastic day.

The Great American Celebration

The Great American Celebration

I’m a planner. I like organization, order, and color-coordination. I love maps and itineraries and Yelp reviews. I like being able to feel like I’m in control of how my day goes, but life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you skip the zoo and meet cute otters instead. Sometimes you catch a cold. Sometimes bad things happen when you’re very far from home and you have to do your best to deal with it. I’ll be honest, if all of these things happened to me on an average day, I would probably lose my mind. And yet, when they all happened on what was supposed to be the culminating day of my vacation, I didn’t panic. I didn’t lose my cool. I didn’t cry over the spilt plans. Instead, I leaned on the person I was with and learned something about our relationship that no Zoo-seum Day could ever teach: we work, even when life isn’t a fun adventure. In fact, we work well.

If you spend all of your time focusing on making things exactly what you think they should be, there’s no room for making the most of what actually happens. And sometimes, the most is much more than you had planned in the first place.

Someone Else’s Family Vacation

In my humble opinion, the only acceptable answer to “do you want to go to Hawaii?” is a resounding “YES”. Possibly even a “HELLS YEAH” if you’re feeling particularly raucous. In any case, an offer to journey to a tropical island paradise should never be met with anything but enthusiasm – especially if you’re a nanny. Which is why, when my bosses asked me to go with them to Hawaii, I had nothing but enthusiasm for the idea. It ended up being one of the most memorable and incredible experiences of my life, but it was not at all the easybreezycovergirl Hawaiian vacation I was expecting.

Depending on your level of familiarity with the nanny-verse, you may or may not know that some families ask their nanny to accompany them on vacations. Despite my extensive research on the career before throwing myself into it (and by research, I mean watching several Julie Andrews movies), I had no clue that this actually happened in real life. I had no idea that taking a nanny on vacation was a luxury available to anyone other than the one-percenters, but evidently, it is.

When the C’s (my boss-family) first asked me to travel with them, I was thinking we would take a road trip to a theme park or something similarly run-of-the-mill. When they dropped the bomb that Hawaii was their destination of choice, I had to politely excuse myself to scream and do a happy dance. To me, going to Hawaii was about as likely as going to the Moon – something a select few very lucky individuals do, but far beyond the realm of my possibilities. I consider myself lucky if I get to go to the Olive Garden more than once a year. Yet here they were, offering me this chance to see an incredible place with my favorite little dude at my side – a win-win.

In the weeks leading up to our departure, I spent every available moment scouring the Internet for tips on traveling with toddlers and suggestions for nannies vacationing with families. I read every possible article in the hopes that I could somehow prepare myself for something this huge. Let me be blunt here – there’s no possible way to prepare yourself for this. Traveling with a toddler is a challenge in and of itself. The challenge increases exponentially when you add the long flights, the unfamiliar situation, and the politics of working through someone else’s family vacation.

To be honest, I was sort of expecting the trip to be an easy way to enjoy a vacation on someone else’s dime. I was sorely mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy every minute of it (and I paid for very little – thanks, Mr. and Mrs. C!), but it was by no means easy. Working during someone else’s vacation is such a challenge, no matter how wonderful they are or how well you get along with them. It’s hard to know where you stand in that situation if you’ve never been there before, and none of us ever had.

I never knew if I was supposed to tend to Bug (the little dude, about 15 months old at the time of the trip) if the C’s were present, or if I should let them take over. Bug was also sleeping in my room, so I didn’t know how to handle it when he got fussy. I always felt guilty when Mrs. C would get up and come grab him after hearing him cry for a little while, despite my attempts to comfort him. When he went to bed, I never knew what my role became – could I go socialize with the C’s and their friends on the lanai? Was it okay for me to accept a glass of wine with everyone else? Could I joke with them? There were so many potentially awkward situations throughout the experience, and finding my place in their family vacation felt exhausting at times.

On top of that, I didn’t have much free time, unless you count Bug’s naps (and even then I couldn’t leave the condo). Most nights the C’s would go out with their friends who had traveled with us, or with their parents who met us there, leaving me alone with Bug. When we did go places, Mrs. C and I shared the job of entertaining Bug and keeping him occupied. I ended up working much longer hours than I do regularly, and I was pretty exhausted when we finally made it home.

The trip was still one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Once I adjusted my expectations and found my place in the picture, I had an amazing time. Sure, I was working, but I was working in Hawaii. Bug still had fits and my job still brought difficulties, but they happened in Hawaii. And best of all, I was able to witness my favorite little dude as he experienced so many things for the first time.

I got to hold his hand while he grabbed his first fistful of sand. He sat on my lap while we watched whales breach right next to the shore. I held him in my arms while the sounds of the gorgeous Pacific Ocean lulled him to sleep on our first night there. I identified each new plant and animal that he excitedly discovered. I filled a box with the plumeria blossoms he brought me every day, a box I will never get rid of (even now as the blossoms are years old and nothing but a pile of dust). Being in Hawaii was incredible, but it was nothing compared to witnessing Bug in Hawaii. For that more than anything else, the trip will always be one of my most cherished memories.

Being a nanny is hard sometimes. We work crazy hours. We face extremely high expectations and standards. We never know if we’re friend or employee, so we never really know where we stand. That being said, there are so many things that make being a nanny worthwhile. The love and connection with each charge in our care, getting to experience incredible new things, and witnessing the kiddos who become our best friends have some of the best days of their lives, to name a few. Being a nanny is hard sometimes, but it’s still the greatest job in the world.