Wednesday, 26 November 2008

How I spent my fall vacation

Here’s what I was doing in Calgary: playing nanny to two very special girls, my great-nieces-by-marriage. I think I'm in love. This picture shows Shanna and Florianna, aged 5 and 4.

Yup, we actually have family in the country, to my total joy. Chris’ nephew Tim has moved to Calgary. Tim and his wife Marjel are both geologists. It seems to be the family profession. The very first post on this blog mentioned the severe lack of rocks in our native Holland. For the same reason Tim and Marjel have lived and worked in Scotland, Texas and the Philippines, but the most recent move brought them to our part of the world. YEAH!

Marjel has a good professional brain and she likes to use it. After 4 years doing the soccer mom thing she is back at work, so a live-in Nanny was hired as the most child-friendly, least stressful solution to childcare. Legal red tape around immigration and work permits is keeping her away till December. In the meantime grandmothers came to the rescue. I filled in a gap between her Mom and his.

Quite frankly, I was thrilled to be asked, but somewhat worried about my ability to deal with small kids. It has been a while, and I have never been what they call “good with children” that are not my own. (I wasn’t good with children when I was one either.) Tim assured me that pedagogical skills were not required, “as long as the kids didn’t run out into the snow in their bare bum”. That ought to doable.

Shanna and Florianna made the job pretty easy. The sisters are the most open, welcoming kids ever. They live in a pink little girl world rich in mermaids, fairies and princesses, crafts and music. There are NO video games. TV is limited to one hour a day, devoted mainly to the Backyardigans, a really neat creative and musical kiddie show.

This picture shows a soccer game that Floortje and I laid out for the Backyardigans in their stuffed manifestation. We spent hours acting out scenarios with them. The most complicated one involved the Backyardigans, puppets in the form of wild animals, as well as Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, Sinterklaas' horse in Lego form, and a supporting cast of mermaids. I didn't know I had it in me. Overall, I love being "Auntie Ien"!

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