29 March 2010

Toilet Train Derailed

I’ve been avoiding toilet training. I’ve been going through the motions – bought a potty, training pants, books for K, and me. I've done just enough not to be labeled a total dead-beat mom, but I haven’t really committed. And so, of course, neither has K.

I haven't committed because, I have no idea what I’m doing. And, I have no idea how to toilet train as a team sport. Dear A has never toilet trained a child. So, I’m facing educating myself, educating her and then tackling K.

Part of me is hoping he'll just figure it out, while I’m trying to figure it out. Should I take time off and just make him go cold turkey, or continue the slower approach but put Dear A in charge? Is it a bad idea to try this a month before a road trip? Is K even ready? Am I?

Am I? That’s another issue. K sleeps in a crib/daybed and is still in diapers. I think part of me wants him to stay my baby.

Argh!!! I’d appreciate advice on all of this. Or, if you’d like to come stay for a week and toilet train K, I’d appreciate that too.

27 March 2010

Guardian Nanny

Because I have a nanny, I’m of course interested in stories about nannies in the news. Last week in Kentucky, a nanny ran through fire to save the little boy she cares for.

It reminded me of the heartbreaking story of Moishe Zvi whose parents were murdered by terrorist during the November 2008 attacks on Mumbai. His Indian nanny, Sandra Samuels, saved Moishe’s life and ended up moving to Israel to stay with him.
Both stories really hit on something I truly believe. Nannies are unique in the domestic employment world. An integral part of their job is to love their charges. Think about that…. People love their jobs, sure, but not like this.

Then, I got to thinking about parents dying and guardianship of your kids. Never pleasant, but its something every parent needs to consider. We’ve worked out guardianship for K, and did include instructions and finances recommending that Dear A stay in K’s life, but I never considered giving Dear A any rights.  I’m wondering if this should be considered? Vote in the poll or comment below!

26 March 2010

Nanny and the Easter Bunny

I feel like a bit of a heel today. I'm not sure if I actually offended Dear A. I definitely came across as kind of ignorant. Which I am…. especially when it comes to religion.

If pressed to qualify, I’m a Hindu. K’s daddy is Anglican and K, like everything else in his life is both. We’re mostly non-practicing, though. We don’t go to church regularly or address anyone specifically in our prayers. Dear A, on the other hand, is a practicing Catholic. She attends church every Sunday, and is very strong in her faith.

According to the retail calendar, its Easter. All the commercials and in store displays got me thinking about themes for crafts, so I asked Dear A to help K pick out some library books about Easter. Then I clarified, “Books about the Easter bunny.” While I didn’t actually say “No Jesus books please,” I still feel like a heel.

Friday FAQ - Employment Contracts Follow Up

Just a quick follow up today, to the whole live-in caregiver policy change situation.

Along with the changes that I mentioned in my previous blog posts, Citizenship and Immigration Canada has now posted a template for the new suggested employment contract.

Again, if you already have a live-in caregiver with a valid work permit, who was brought in on a previous LMO, you don't need to use this contract. But it couldn't hurt to follow their standards right?

Please note today’s FAQ content is offered as information only, and relates only to Canadian regulations. Please conduct your own research or consult a professional for advice on your personal situation.

25 March 2010

Don't Leave Home Without Her - Nanny on Vacation

We're breaking new ground, taking Dear A on vacation with us, and as usual, I am worrying about how it will work.

We're travelling to Vancouver for a wedding and I've asked Dear A to care for K on the nights when events don't include children. We had planned to pay for her flight, but she is instead taking some extra vacation days and using her Air Miles. It works out well for Dear A because she has to travel to Vancouver to renew her passport. Our vacation plans saved her from having to wait in line for two days this weekend, unlike 5000 other Filipinos in Alberta.

Anyway, we've never travelled together so I'm trying to work through the intricacies of the situation. Here's what I've got sorted so far:

24 March 2010

Hump Day Distraction - Bookshelf Paintings

Today's distraction is an artist I first saw when she was featured on the 20x200 website.*

Jane Mount's drawing instantly transported me to my happy memories of reading the books she had drawn so perfectly. I immediately purchased a limited edition print for K's room. A few months later, with two baby showers impending, I looked up her work and purchased two more prints for friends. And its not just baby books, there are shelves of cook books, existentialist prose, and Ms Mount also does custom paintings. See more of her work on her website.

*I guess its a double distraction today, because you could also spend time checking out the 20x200 project. 20x200 is the brainchild of a NY gallery owner who wanted to see high-quality artwork become accessible and affordable. They release limited edition prints weekly, 200 for $20.

23 March 2010

Most Ridiculous Use of a PhD

A psychatrist in the UK recently published a book in which he claims, '
Baby boys who have a nanny 'turn into womanisers'
Yup. My thoughts echo yours. Because the article was from the Telegraph UK, I thought it was a joke, but then I found the book, ironically titled, "An Unsolicited Gift" by Dennis Friedman on amazon.com.

No joke, but made me wonder, is this the new excuse for bad behaviour? Did Tiger Woods have a nanny?

19 March 2010

Friday FAQ - Recapping Trips and Fines

This Friday, I'm going back to my questions - the polls. I'm still getting the hang of blogging, and blog gadgets in particular. I haven't figured out how to archive polls. Until I do, I thought I'd recap and share the results in a post.

In the first poll I asked "Who should pay library fines?""Me, The Nanny, or Both Share," after learning that Dear A and Kiran had racked up quite a bill. In the end we had 11 responses:
  • 8 for Me paying
  • 3 for Sharing the fines and,
  • 1 "Other" who suggested I set up a 'swear jar' for Potty-mouth K and garnish future allowance to pay the fines!
I have to admit, I wasn't really surprised by the results (other than the ingenious swear jar idea.) They pretty much reinforced my gut feelings. I'm going with it (you) and paying any fines incurred. I'm also keeping a closer eye on the book bag after Friday Story Time at the library. Especially last weeks, since K went with Daddy.

18 March 2010

Foreign worker abuses on rise - Alberta

I posted an article a few days ago, from the US, about a school principal, who essentially coerced several Filipino teachers in buying make-up from her business, taking their credit card numbers and more. Today, there is an article closer to home. The Edmonton Journal is reporting that the NDP has found that foreign-worker abuses are on rise in Alberta. While this article doesn't detail explicit abuse like the Baltimore case, but it does bring up two things to note:

Firstly, the province is conducting inspections. In my experience, when this type of stuff hits the news, Ministry will increase the number of inspections etc. to show up the NDP critics.

More important, though, is the detail of violations:

17 March 2010

Hump Day Distraction - Filipino Food - the next Asian hit?

Instead of online shopping, I thought I'd share a few recipe sites. I was inspired by an article in the LA Times a few weeks ago which explored how Filipino food has not fallen into favor with mainstream restaurants, despite the fact that several ‘hot’ LA chefs are Filipino.

It got me thinking if this will change as a generation of North Americans grow up with Filipino nannies. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve seen Filipino restaurants popping up in food courts, and recently saw a ‘Filipino’ Co-op in Innisfail, Alberta. I don’t think it will be too long before this influence is felt in our culinary world. Its fusion of Spanish and Asian flavours makes Filipino cuisine pretty approachable. It certainly is at our home. My little Chef K is a picky picky child when facing the typical breakfast and lunch, but he’s all over the flavourful, not very spicy Filipino stews.

15 March 2010

Be Aware of Nannies Bearing Gifts

Dear A is home! K was so excited he attempted a somersault and failed, I think mostly so he could solicit comfort and cuddles from her.

I was excited too! Not only did Dear A return on the first workday back after the daylight savings time, (AKA: worst way to start a work week ever) but she came bearing gifts: t-shirts for the boys and a “designer” purse for me. I love the presents, but always feel a little embarrassed to accept them because I know that Dear A has just spent a ton of her hard earned money at home.

You see, when a nanny goes home, she goes bearing gifts. Its expected, and she is usually also expected to foot the bills for any celebration, occasions, festivities while she is there. She’s the ‘rich’ North American now. It’s a cruel irony that even stops caregivers from going home. While they may have enough money to get home, the expenses when they get there can break the bank.
Dear A has a family wedding in a few months, and the miles to get there, but I know her other costs are a serious consideration.

Just another slice of the immigrant experience for you to know….

14 March 2010

Nanny hits the Road

Dear A wants to get her driver’s license. In fact, she’s learning to drive in Manila, during her vacation.

I’m torn, as you can imagine, between the Pros: how nice it would be to have a nanny who drives, how great an accomplishment it is for Dear A, and the Cons: panic of worrying everyone’s personal safety, car accidents and costs.

Because we live in the inner city, having a nanny who drives isn’t as big a priority. Dear A and K are able to walk or take transit to parks, play dates, or the library without too much trouble. In fact, for K, the bus and train are as much fun as the end location. So, of course, the Cons are the ones filling my head:

12 March 2010

Friday FAQ –If I already have a nanny, what happens with changes to the LCP?

My post about the recent changes to the Live-in Caregiver Program had quite a few of you asking me the same question:
"Does this affect me if I have a nanny already?"
More importantly, you’re wondering if we now have to pay health insurance and workplace safety insurance?

Well, I was wondering the same thing, so I went to the source to get some answers. After looking through the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website and the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website to no avail, I called 1-800-O-CANADA and was referred to the Live-in Caregiver Program General Inquiries phone line (1-877-227-4577). Here are the answers I got:

10 March 2010

Hump Day Distraction - Gifts for Your Nanny

Dear A’s been with us for almost 2 years now. We’ve celebrated 2 Christmases and 1 birthday with another birthday coming up soon. For each occasion, I try to get her something special. My list of a few Do s and a Don’t is below.

On a related note, I received a question from a blog reader and thought it would make a good poll topic. She asked:

"Should employers pay for a trip home every couple of years or not?"

I thought this was a great question because I'm sure, like me, many of you struggle with how to handle bonuses.

09 March 2010

Daddy vs. Nanny

Today is the last day of a week and a half of Daddy duty with K. This isn’t as scary as it sounds.

Because I was a consultant without maternity leave, K was his dad’s responsibility for the first 7 months.  After that 7th month, we had Dear A.

With Dear A on holiday, we're using vacation time to care for K. And I’ve noticed a few things with Daddy Duty this time around:

08 March 2010

What I learned today (International Women's Day and Fallout from Changes to the LCP)

I spent a bunch of this weekend thinking about impact of the changes to the Live-in Caregiver program, and even more today, on International Women's Day, when the Parkland Institute released depressing research on the gender pay gap. My conclusion: In Canada women are supposed to stay home and raise the children.

05 March 2010

Friday FAQ - Changes to Live-in Caregiver Program

I was getting ready to write a Friday FAQ about food, but while doing tax stuff came across some information about changes to the Canadian Live–in Caregiver Program:

As of April 1 2010, new applications to the program require the employment contract between you and your caregiver (nanny) to describe:
  • employer paid benefits (health care insurance, workplace safety insurance, travel costs and recruitment fees)
  • job duties 
  • hours of work 
  • wages
  • accommodation arrangements (including room and board) 
  • holiday and sick leave entitlements
  • termination and resignation terms
So, beyond the usual contract, employers are now required to pay any recruting fees, travel costs, health insurance and workers compensation benefit insurance. Further details are here and here.

Anyway, I thought this was slightly more relevant than my pasta recipe. I’ll leave you to absorb this info and will get back to you once I’ve got more information on how this affects those of us who already have workers in the home.

04 March 2010

A Different Kind of Guilt - Referrals

I have a fantastic relationship with my nanny placement agency. The owner/principal is a friend and former neighbour. I recommend her wholeheartedly whenever someone asks “Where did you find your nanny?”

About a year ago I recommended the agency to someone in our lives, who I will call Anonymous. Our relationship is already a touchy situation – I don’t always get along with her etc, but its not like you can lie or demure on the question when someone knows pretty much everything about you. So I told the truth and then immediately called my friend the agent to apologize, provide fair-warning etc.

Fast forward a few months:

03 March 2010

Hump Day Distraction - threadless.com

I was debating whether to share threadless.com with you -  not just because its that good (it is) but also because its my go-to site for last-minute printable gift certificates. Not that I ever forget a birthday gift. Not me. Never.

Anyway, threadless.com sells inexpensive graphic t-shirts, hoodies and onsies. That's not the cool part. The cool thing is that all of the graphic designs are submitted by people like you and me. Well, not people like me - talented, witty, design-minded people who create hilarious shirts. The designs are also usually limited, so its rare that you and your neighbour will show up in the same shirt. And yes, gift certificates from threadless make a great gift because you can print them off, and it gives the giftee the fun task of picking their own witty shirt!

K's a big fan of his dad's Cookie Loves Milk shirt, mostly because he looks at it as a walking menu. "Mmm...Daddy, I need it the cookie!" I'm thinking the Fast Food shirt is out of the question. But, Man, its funny!

01 March 2010

Rolling with the Nannies

On Friday, I found a mom group. Well, not exactly, but I did find a happy place. A place where my 2 year old wasn’t the only tornado running around and where I wasn’t the only adult shouting “No, don’t touch that Honey,” or “Come back here please, Buddy.”

We were at a nearby playground and then the mall. K and I met his best bud Little S and S’s nanny for a bit of a run around and lunch. It’s a typical play date for K & S, and their nannies, but new to me. Don’t get me wrong - I’ve taken K to the park and the mall before.  It was a different experience to walk along with all of the nannies, to see the crazy variety of caregivers out there, and to share in the usual trials and tribulations of chasing after a kid on a weekday morning.

And, not only did I get to enjoy a little childcare camaraderie, but I saw a possible long-term solution for my (totally platonic) nanny love-affair: Elder Care.  Quite a few nannies are also trained in, or transition to assisting the elderly.

Yup. So that’s my plan: keep having kids until I need Dear A to stick around and take care of me. And lets face it, if that plan actually panned out. I would need someone to take care of me. I’d be exhausted and possibly insane.

PS - Sorry for the lack of Friday FAQ post, but I'm lacking in FAQs! Send your questions or comments to shortysho[at]hotmail.com or in the comments below. Thx!
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