During my, um, nearly two years (!!!) as a blogger, I've been lucky enough to receive quite a few amazing gifts from readers and fellow bloggers. Really, I am so ridiculously lucky. So because I am (really) so, so grateful, it's my turn to give stuff away! Plus, I've noticed a general funk around the blogosphere and tweetosphere, so this is my attempt to fix the funk.

Here's what I have for you...

'All natural'?

'Endangered species'?


OH YES, MY FRIENDS. I have CHOCOLATE for you. And not just ANY chocolate, but all-natural, gives-proceeds-back-to-charity, FREAKIN' AMAZING CHOCOLATE.

Do you love me or what?

I know. I am THAT amazing.

I have bars of:
1) Smooth milk chocolate
2) Milk chocolate with almonds
3) Dark chocolate with raspberries.

So here's what you have to do: pick a kind of chocolate, leave your choice in the comments section*, and I'll let the random number generator choose three winners. If you blog or tweet about the giveaway, leave a second (or third) comment and that will enter you multiple times.

*(Because, try as I might, I have not gotten over my self-conscious lack-of-comments vanity, this is a BIG step I'm taking in leaving the comments open on this post as opposed to having you all email me (that way, no one would know if I only got 2 entries). SO COMMENT. PLEASE. IT'S CHOCOLATE.)

(And I've already *bought* the chocolate, so SOMEBODY's going to need to eat it, AND IT'S NOT GOING TO BE ME. I'M JUST SAYIN'.)

So: comment away with your choices! Don't make me beg any more than I already have. (Please.) Contest ends next Friday, 8/7!



This fun adventure in sandcastle-making left me SRSLY sunburned.


P.S. Next post (or the one after, not sure yet) will be a GIVEAWAY. Stay tuned!



Moomers ice cream is the best in the entire world.

(Cow Tracks on the left, Cherries Moobilee on the right.)


Wordless, uh, Saturday


(Please excuse my feet, they look really weird in this picture. I promise I have normal feet.)


La cucaracha

So today was an adventure with the kids. And by adventure I mean HOLY CRAP ADVENTURE.

The day was routine until about 1:30 p.m. All was normal and (relatively) quiet until Sam, Ben and I spied a brown lump on the floor and then, oh boy--the screams, they rocked the house. The kids were pretty noisy too. Because:

"IS THAT A COCKROACH?!?!?" screamed I.
"Ummmmm yes," agreed they.

See, I'm a good nanny. I can handle blood, poopy diapers, spit up, and all manner of creepy-crawlies.

Except cockroaches. Seriously. I have never been able to handle them. Like seriously. It's a problem.

I think it stems from two particular instances: 1) when I was 4, one crawled across my foot. 2) When I was around 10, I woke up in the middle of the night to find one on my pillow. ON MY PILLOW.


So yes: la cucaracha and I have never had a good relationship. And when I am the only adult (and I use that term loosely as it applies to me) in the house? THINGS DO NOT GO WELL.

(Side note: the only other time I had to deal with a cockroach while babysitting was several years back, and I was with a family that had 4 squeamish girls. And me. Just us. And there was a cockroach. For whatever reason, the girls refused to kill it, so I had to trap it with a tupperware container and then call my closest male friend for support to walk me through the process of disposing of the cockroach. It was not pretty.)

So today there was a cockroach, and while Ben wanted to go up and look at it, I was busy freaking out and Sam was alternating between curiosity toward the roach and alarm at my reaction. So, because I am nothing less than a Perfect Nanny, I calmed the heck down for the kids and trapped it, too, with a tupperware container.

(But only after Emily-the-cat tried to kill it and eat it on her own, and while some might say Why not let her? I say HOLY CRAP EW.)

So we trapped it:

And I was fully prepared to stay in that position, foot securely on top of container, for the next 1.5 hours until the kids' parents came home. But the kids had other ideas. Cause, y'know, they wanted to go play and stuff. So we secured the tupperware container with the heaviest objects we could find:

(Notice Emily the cat RIGHT behind the tupperware container. She was stalking that bad boy.)

So, after a brief but amazingly helpful (really) phone conversation with Mrs. F5, who first commiserated with me and then encouraged us to run from the room and let Emily do her business with the roach, we ran screaming from the room to let Emily do her business.

We locked ourselves in Sam's room, and I was perfectly content to stay in there for, oh, forever, but after about 10 minutes the kids wanted to go check on the damn thing. So we did, creeping out slowly, watching our every step, and discovered that though Emily had knocked our heavy objects off the tupperware container, she hadn't managed to tip the container itself over. So Mister Roach was still fully contained, and now on his back.

For the rest of the afternoon, we stayed within eyesight of the trapped roach. I didn't trust it. No matter that it was looking pretty good and dead. Because you all have heard that cockroaches can live for up to 3 weeks with their heads cut off, right? WHAT KIND OF CREATURE CAN SURVIVE THAT?

Devil creatures, that's what. Damn cockroaches.


More than just skin deep

So the other day I came across something rather disturbing.

It was this web site. (Don't worry, it's totally safe for work, unless you count falling off your chair in shock and alarm unsafe.)

So yeah: before I could stop myself, I entered in every single one of my shampoos, mascaras, lip glosses...and came to the realization that I should already have cancer and will never be able to procreate. Let's not even get started on the "occupational hazards" (?!?) involved in my daily beauty routine (STOP LAUGHING. I DO TOO HAVE A DAILY BEAUTY ROUTINE).

Needless to say I got a bit freaked out. Everything I own is bad for me! Everything! I try to be all organic and eco-friendly and healthy in all other ways of my life, but I am totally chemical-crazy in this regard.

After regaining consciousness, I thought about taking an immediate shower to wash off all my makeup and sunscreen and bug spray and stuff, but, um, the shampoo I have is equally as bad. And the soap. And the body wash. Which did lead me to consider not bathing until I had entirely new, safe stuff, but hi. I'm vain and I don't like to smell.

Instead of chunking everything cosmetic I own, I'm going to replace what I have as it runs out. The only problem? Safe cosmetics ain't cheap, y'all. Combine that with the astronomically large amount of money I've spent to go see Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince and I'll be running into debt before I even get back to college. (Whatever. It's so worth it. That movie is amazing.)

So if y'all know of any safe, relatively cheap, natural, organic cosmetics, point me that way. And in the mean time, feel free to throw money at me. But don't search your own cosmetics. Unless you're ready to keel over. I'd put a lot of pillows around you just in case.


I've used up all the good title posts, apparently

I was going to call this post "A little sugar for your day" (a pun! Get it?) because this post is going to be full of kiddo pics, but I've already had a post called that too. And then I decided on "baby lovin'" but I have a post called that as well. So apparently I've already used up all the good post titles.

ANYWAY. I had to share this picture because it completely cracks me up. Coco's new scrunchy face! (This isn't full-fledged scrunchy face because my camera's not quick enough, but you get the idea. And check out those teef!)

Here's Ben "playing" his guitar for me, and Coco trying to help (p.s. Ben really was playing a song JUST FOR ME. He said so. Have I mentioned how that boy makes me swoon?!?):

And big sister Sam showing off one of her sewing creations--as a part of a game we were playing (a crazy form of "zoo" in which I am the MEAN OWNER and Ben is my pet kitty, Sam is our "servant" a la Cinderella and one of her jobs that she wanted to do was design me a dress. It's complicated!) Is this girl not gorgeous or what?!?

And last, Miss Thang and I relaxing poolside, munching on cheerios. Check out her diva hand gesture (oh please!), her ZOMG SO CUTE bottom lip poking out, and the tummy. LOVE THE POOCHY TUMMY.


Well now what do I call this post?

I was going to title this post "Uberdork" but discovered that I had already called a post that. Which crushed me, because in this case, IT TRULY APPLIES.

I have seen Harry Potter: Half Blood Prince twice in the past 3 days. And I will see it again very soon. Which, coupled with nannying and outside work and babysitting and maintaining my sanity and playing online Bingo, has left me very little time to post.


Shred no mo'

So I've been hearing about this thing lately called "The Shred" from gadzillions of people and blogs and tweets.

If you haven't heard about it, it's a workout video lead by Jillian Michaels (of Biggest Loser fame) and IT IS HELL. Or so I've heard. It's a 30-day program that you do for 20 minutes a day.

20 minutes a day, that's *totally* doable, right? How intense can things get in 20 minutes?

Well, judging by the people and blogs and tweets who/that have told me about it, A LOT.

But apparently the results are amazing. So even though I've spent the last several months putting it off (y'know, cause of my knees, and not because of my supreme laziness or anything) I decided two nights ago to give the Shred a go.

Youtube was able to provide me with the first 20-minute segment, so off I went, armed with two bottles of contact solution because I didn't have weights (hey! I was creative! And those bottles are close to 5 lbs each, right? (SHHH)) and a whole lotta confidence.


I lasted six minutes.


Now, in my defense, I *probably* could have gone on a bit more, if only I weren't so depressed about the fact that I couldn't do 20 pushups. Cause seriously, that got me pretty down. Here I was thinking I had Nanny Muscles! I lift chunky babies! I flip kids upside down! I can do a double piggy-back (one kid on my back, one kid on my front)!


Six minutes.

Resigned, I went to bed. And woke up the next morning with ZOMG HURTY KNEES. They got better after some advil and brace wearing, but by last night, my right knee was hurting fairly badly again. I decided against advil and went to bed.

Well, around 1 a.m. my right knee woke me up. The fairly-bad hurt had changed to THROBBING OW OW OW, which was enough to annoy the honest-to-goodness out of me, but evidently not enough to make me get out of bed and get advil. So I propped my knee up with about 6 pillows to help reduce the swelling, and strapped both my knee braces on it, and tried to get back to sleep.

No go. I was up for a few hours with my right knee which apparently just wanted to party when I WANTED TO SLEEP. It's one thing if you're up partying yourself. It's an entirely different thing if one of your appendages wants to party and all the other appendages are silently screaming "pleeeeeeeeease JUSTGOTOBEDALREADY."

Finally I was able to drift back off to sleep, and when I woke up this morning it was feeling much better. Needless to say, I'm not going to be shredding anything anytime soon unless it's my dignity when I play kitty and cheetah with the kiddos tomorrow morning.

(If those paragraphs made no sense whatsoever, or seemed like I was on crack writing them, it's because I'm nonsensical due to LACK OF SLEEP.)

You can thank my right knee for it. And Jillian Michaels.


A meme for me

Kaitlyn tagged me for a meme, so here goes!

List seven things about yourself:

First of all, this is tough. I've done a bunch of these in the past on my blog, so I'm trying to find things I've never told y'all before.

1. I'm extremely blind. I've been told by two different eye doctors that I'm too blind for laser eye surgery (even some day in the distant future when I can (HAHAHA) afford it). I'm going to a new eye doc today for another evaluation, wish me luck.

2. I used to collect miniature VW bugs. Like the toy cars. And I'd name them all. At one point I think I had 60 or 70 of those bad boys hanging around.

3. I've got all of my future 18 children with George Clooney named. (What? Is it so hard to believe that I'll have 18 children? PLEASE. George and I LOVE kids.)

4. Every single person I've told one of my favorite boy names to says I'll torture the poor kid by naming him that. I just plug my ears, say "la-la-la," and tell them one of my favorite girl names. Then they launch into "WHY MUST YOU RUIN YOUR OWN CHILDREN'S LIVES BEFORE THEY EVEN HAVE A CHANCE AT LIFE?"

5. One night in August 2007, on a whim, I became an ordained minister online. No, really, I did. I have the certificate to prove it. And I'd be happy to perform your wedding, baptism, or funeral for free as long as I can blog about it.

6. Sometimes I'm scared to drive my own car around with his bad-ass political bumper stickers. The reactions I've gotten from some people...whoo-boy, y'all. We're not in the northeast anymore, Damien.

7. I love doing memes but my very least favorite part is tagging people at the end. Because a) if you don't do the meme, I'll feel like you don't like me and get all sad because I'm needy that way, and b) what if you get annoyed if I give you the meme? I don't want you to get annoyed at me. Lord knows I have precious few readers as it is.

So I am going to BREAK THE MOLD (a.k.a., wimp out) of tagging people, and instead say what I always say: you're ALL tagged, and if you play along, let me know so I can come read yours!


It's officially official

(Yeah, yeah, I know I said I was going through a dry spell, but I thought of something to post.)

So I have my plane ticket booked for my trip back up to DreamSchool. We've made the first (of MANY) payments. Y'all, it's officially official that I'm going back!

It's really sunk in and I can't tell you how excited I am. My living arrangements are all taken care of: I'm in a suite with five other girls, my closest friends up there. We each have our own little rooms and share a common room, kitchenette and bathroom. It's awesome! Better yet, our closest 6 guy friends have the suite next to us. GAH I can't wait!

I wanted to comment about something that Kaitlyn commented on this post. Now, a disclaimer: Kaitlyn and I talk/debate frequently either on the phone, via twitter, or text message. We disagree on a LOT of stuff, but we still have MAD love for each other. So this post is in no way attacking her at all!!! Just bringing up a discussion.

Kaitlyn said, "Hm. I stand firm that tuition should be the responsibility of the child, for the exact reason one of your parents mentioned above... You can take out loans for school. The same is not true of retirement." in response to my writing that I felt guilty for putting my parents under financial strain, which I absolutely have.

I've been a private school child all my life. Before you roll your eyes and stereotype me, let me explain why. Where I live, the public schools are, frankly, awful. The elementary and middle schools solely teach to the TAKS test, and are overfilled and often violent. High schools are much the same way, and the drop out rates are enormous. Because of this, my parents decided long ago that they would sacrifice a huge deal financially and personally so that my sister and I could go private school all the way.

I am so, so lucky that my sister and I were able to do this. We both received excellent educations. I can't speak for her about this, but for me, I look back on every year of schooling with fond memories. There was no middle school hating. Sure, high school had its cattiness (especially for me being the poor kid in a high school of millionaires) but it was still an amazing experience. I am so grateful.

For college, my parents made it clear from the start that they would support me wherever I wanted to go, whatever I wanted to do. The school I fell in love with, DreamSchool, is a private college. Its yearly costs are astronomical (though, from what I understand, relatively mild compared with other private colleges). But I'm receiving an amazing education there. Because of DreamSchool's reputation, they guarantee me a job in my field (which is a dying field) within six months of graduation. The professors are excellent, the academics amazing.

I wouldn't be there without my parents' financial (and other) support. Of course I'm going into debt by going there, but my parents are easing that financial burden generously. They believe, above all, that a good education is the absolute best investment you can make in life.

My parents are willingly and happily contributing to my DreamSchool fund. Retirement will probably never happen for them (at least not full-time), but they have assured me that's okay. They want me to go to DreamSchool. They want my sister to go to any college she wants to. They want this for us. This is their gift to us. I am so, so grateful. Who cares about inheritance? They've given us the best academic start possible to our lives.

How amazing is that?

Note: this is NOT to say that all public schools are bad, or that state schools or community colleges are bad! Quite the opposite. I wish the public schools in our are could have been better. I did take a class at a community college, and it was an amazing experience.

Dry spell

I'm going through a bit of a bloggy dry spell lately. Actually, I'm just exhausted! I *almost* fell asleep driving on a major highway today. THAT IS NOT GOOD. So I'm off to take a nap, and relax--these next few days will be very relaxing and chill, which is JUST what I need!


The world's BEST sandwich

Okay, y'all. This is so good that I *have* to share it with you. It's completely vegan, and definitely healthy!

Nanny's World-Famous Nommy Sandwich

2 slices honey wheat bread/whole wheat bread (your choice), toasted
handful of washed greens
1/2 avocado, sliced
onion to taste
balsamic vinaigrette

Toast bread. Spread a bit of balsamic vinaigrette one one side. Top generously with greens. Layer with onion and cover with avocado slices. Finish with the other slice of bread and BAM! Delicious sandwich! It's got protein, good fat, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. SOOOOO good!

If you'd like to ruin the sandwich put on non-vegan stuff, you can add cheese or meat. But being the vegetarian-who-doesn't-eat-cheese-but-does-eat-other-dairy that I am, I like it just the way it is :)

(Side note: watch out world. Is the Nanny/College Girl diaries becoming a cooking blog?!? What the???)

Updated to add: This sandwich is equally good with roasted red pepper hummus instead of the avocado!


Happy 4th!

(Yeah, yeah, I made another one. Besides the fact that it's ridiculously nommy, it has red, blue, and, uh, light tan?)


Non-epic fail?

So on July 3 I headed over to the Minivan Mom household to hang with her kids while she and her hubby headed out to dinner.

You may remember these kids as the ones I epically failed at while babysitting. I'm happy to report that during this babysitting sesh, there were NO broken teeth or any other injuries! WOOT!

Anyway, the kids and I had a great time. We swam, ate (some) pizza (the kids didn't really care for it, so Sam and Lucy had a lot of yogurt instead), had brownies, watched TV (they introduced me to Phineas & Ferb), played the world's longest game of Spiderman Sorry!, read books, and generally had a great time.

Oh, except for the fact that Lucy thought I was the meanest babysitter in the world after I made her spit out her gum before bed. I know, the nerve of me, right??? (Though I think she liked me the rest of the time. I did paint her nails sparkle-clear, after all.)

But the best part of the evening? While Sam was reading to Lucy and me, Bailey had left the room to do something I wasn't privy to. (This worried me slightly, but he's a wicked smaht 9-year-old, so I trusted him.) When he came back, he presented me with this:

"I didn't know if you knew this," he said, "but I'm an author. This is an original copy of my work."


He autographed it for me.

I'm pretty sure I swooned audibly.

Not to be outdone, Sam went off to do his own thang. When he came back, he presented me with this:

It's a picture of me standing on the side of the pool (which is the big white space), watching him swim.

Cue another loud swoon. Are these boys not just yummy?!?

Lucy didn't give me anything, but I'm pretty sure that's because I had just made her spit out her gum. Though earlier in the evening she had told me I looked like I was 12, which I'm pretty sure is a compliment. I mean, 12-year-olds don't have wrinkles or grey hair, so it's a good thing, right?


I'm domesticated!



Or rather, I baked something. But still. This is huge. Because I CANNOT COOK TO SAVE MY LIFE.

My sister and I love reading cooking blogs (she got me hooked). One of my favorites is Monica H.'s cooking blog, Lick the Bowl Good. So many things on there just make me DROOL all over my pretty white keyboard!

A few days ago, she posted a recipe for Strawberry and Blueberry Cobbler Cake. When I saw that, my jaw dropped, and I *knew* I was going to make that.

So I did.

My first cake!

(Er, cobbler cake. But close enough!)

Now, three things happened in the cooking process to make me seriously doubt my poor cobbler cake would turn out well. And they are:
1) When getting the egg out of the carton, it broke all over the place. Bad omen?
2) When dumping (gently) the flour/baking powder/salt mixture into the blender, half of it ended up on the counter. So I had to scrape it off the counter and into the bowl. But I lost some flour/baking powders/salt mixture that way...so I was a tad worried.
3) I forgot to sprinkle sugar over the top before putting it in the oven. I was VERY worried that the cobbler cake wouldn't taste sweet, and be bitter instead from the fruit.


It turned out so delicious!!! I cannot tell you how we oohed and aahed over this cake. And ommed and nommed. Seriously: GO MAKE THIS CAKE. NOW.

*I used less fruit than she did--about 8 halved strawberries, and 1/2 cup of blueberries. I did push the blueberries down into the batter and added more on top.
*Mine took less time to bake than hers. 10 mins on 350 degrees, and 45 mins (as opposed to an hour) on 325.


My pretty little cobbler cake!

Car trouble

So Damien has been temporarily retired for the next three weeks (so my lungs can get a break), as my sister has gone off to ballet camp -- so I'll be driving her car*!

*technically, it's my Dad's car. But my sister's been driving it for the past year.

Sven is a 25-year-old bright yellow Volvo. He's a beast of a creature and I've got mad love for him, so I *totally* don't mind driving him around while my sister's gone.

Except when I have to drive on the highway.

Because when ol' Sven hits about 60 mph, his steering wheel starts vibrating like no tomorrow. I'm serious. By the time you're off the highway, your hands are numb. It's fairly unsettling. But hey: Sven's got air conditioning! It's all cool by me!

My father's solution to the vibrating Sven problem was to not drive above 55. But it turns out that other drivers on LBJ and Central Expressway get pretty torked off at you if you're slowing them down. (Who knew Dallas drivers could get aggressive?)

If I wasn't going back to DreamSchool, my parents were pretty seriously considering buying a Prius. They've been wanting one for years. That way, I could drive my mom's car, and we could sell Damien (and save my lungs & makeup). But they're so generously helping me pay for college, and their car dreams (and clothes dreams, and vacation dreams, etc.) have been put on hold.

I think I've got a bit of buyer's remorse going on. While I'm SO excited to be going back to DreamSchool, it really puts a strain on my parents financially, and there's no doubt that it's screwing me financially, too. I mean, I'll be paying back debt for the next 15 or so years.

But on the whole, I know going back to school is a good thing. For me, to get the college experience in an incredible city, and for my boy Damien to get a break from driving. Boyfriend's already racked up almost 365,000 miles, after all.