Mary Poppins’ Adventures is back and on the road again! After spending four months in Denver, I boarded a plane on October 12 and headed back to Asia. I’m currently writing this post during my 10 hour layover in Taipei. Yes, 10 hours in an airport can be awful, but I had time on my side. Hello cheap flight! Also, this airport is awesome! Free showers with complimentary shampoo, body wash, lotion, and towel for any transfer passengers. Yes please! I smell horrendous. Plush leather recliners near the gates. Free WiFi. Not a bad a place to spend half a day.
This summer, I spent the days with Eleanor and Theo and the weekends with my friends, usually in the mountains. As I had hoped, camping and hiking took up majority of my weekends. I put a lot of miles on my car since returning mid-May…. 13,764 to be exact (insert shocked face here).I checked another 14er off my list (my lifetime goal is to hike all 54 of them), completed my first backpacking trip, and went to Estes Park for the first time.
Eleanor and I had a great summer filled with hilarious conversations, some untimely comments, and life lessons. Here’s some of the highlights:
While at the very quiet library and loud enough for everyone to hear– “That lady has a big bum bum!”
While at the swimming pool, she lifted up her shirt, and touched her nipples –
Eleanor: These are mine!
Laura: They sure are!
Eleanor: Um, what are they?
Laura: Those are your nipples.
Eleanor: Does Theo have nipples?
Laura: Yes, everyone has nipples.
Eleanor: Can I see them?!
Laura: Sure. Please don’t ask to see mine!
While painting a picture –
Eleanor: (sniffs)… That’s stinky!
Laura: What is?
Eleanor: When I fart, it kind of stinks!
While walking to the car after swimming – “I wish you were a kid.”
While at the library and within earshot from an obese male whose belly was hanging out from under his t-shirt– “That man has a big belly!”
During a playdate, Van, a 4 year old boy, had been sent into timeout a few times. The other nanny mentioned that he was being naughty today. –
Eleanor: I’m nice because I’m beautiful. Um…. I don’t think that’s how it works.
While eating lunch, Theo lets one rip –
Eleanor: Hahaha! Theo is a little stinker!
Laura: Why’s that?
Eleanor: Because he farted! Hahaha.
While making lunch –
Eleanor: I want an apple.
Laura: We don’t have any. We’re all out.
Eleanor: That’s ok. We can go to the Apple store and buy some.
Laura: Um, the Apple store sells electronics like computer and iPads… not apples.
We went to a new storytime and another kid had already chosen letter E to sit on. Eleanor had a major meltdown about it. I told her she doesn’t always get letter E and there are plenty of other letters to choose from. Fast forward 3 weeks, I brought the new nanny (she trained under me for the last week of my employment) with us to storytime. We were the first ones to arrive so I told Eleanor she could pick out a letter to sit on. “Ten bucks she chooses letter E”, I said to the new nanny. Eleanor comes back with letter S. “Eleanor, what letter did you choose today?” She replied as proud as can be, “S because I don’t always get letter E.”
Life lessons I taught Eleanor –
how to pee in the woods, how to milk a cow, how to bake cookies, muffins, and Apple Crisp, curse words are for grownups, how to write her name (has the ELEA part down, not so much on the NOR part), how to paint and carve pumpkins, how to wipe her own butt, how to check out books at the library, what happens when we don’t treat our library books with respect (RIP Clifford book that was left outside in the rain and found 5 days later), how to introduce herself to a new friend, and the ever so hard lesson that she doesn’t get everything she wants in life.
Don’t worry. Theo was with us during these times. He just isn’t talking yet so conversations with him were pretty one-sided…. Me talking… him staring at me or blabbing back. He definitely understands the English language though. For example, I could say a variety of sentences meaning he needed his diaper changed (did you poop?!, we need to change you, are you squishy, etc.) and he would walk into his room and stand by his changing table.
My last day with them was pretty bittersweet. The mom wrote me a very touching letter and gave me a bottle of wine. She sure knows the way to my heart. I spent two weeks back in Iowa seeing family and friends and getting things organized.
My plan is to travel through Asia until my fun money runs out. I will be in South Korea for two weeks, head to the Philippines where I will meet my brother, Adam, for a week, and then who knows after that. If I like the Philippines, then I will stay there for the entire length of my visa (30 days). If I don’t, then it’ll be onward to the next country. I plan to stay in hostels and when available, house/pet sit.
I joined an international house-sitting website this summer and completed four with the goal to build up my profile and online reputation. Let me tell you, those house-sits were less than ideal… Sit #1: Elderly 65 pound dog whose back legs no longer worked so I had to carry her around the house and outside for the bathroom. You know what’s not fun? Cleaning up a dog after she poops on herself because her back legs can’t hold her up. Sit #2: Rescued mill dog with so severe of anxiety I had to give her dog-friendly Xanax just so she wouldn’t pee on me when I carried her outside to relieve herself. The whole process of giving Xanax, waiting for it to kick in, and then carrying her outside took at least an hour. Sit #3: House had weed in every crevice and reeked of poop because the air conditioners were window units that faced directly into the backyard where the dogs pooped. Sit #4: a cat with diarrhea for 7 out of the 10 days I was there. Sit #5: Three dogs and two cats who ran the house (scratched up all the interior woodwork of a beautiful log home, pooped on the counter, destroyed a pillow, ate the cat poop, etc.).
I can only hope the house/pet sits I do in Asia are better than the ones I completed this summer. My reason for continuing to do house/pet sits is that I get free housing which cuts down on my costs. Keep telling yourself the free lodging is worth it!
I frequently get asked if I’m scared to go by myself. Honestly, no. I feel like I’ve taken all the necessary precautions – purchased insurance, set up check-ins with Barb, limit the amount of alcohol consumed at the bars, and enrolled in the STEP program. The STEP program allows you to submit your general travel plans to the US Department of State. They will in turn give that information to the nearest embassy. The embassy will then notify you of any travel warnings in your current or upcoming destinations as well as account for you should a major incident occur near you.
Another frequently asked question is how I can afford to travel. Asia a pretty cheap place to travel after you get there, hence why I’m starting there. Lodging in hostels is between $5-$20 per night. A month-long furnished apartment rental can go for as little as $250. Food costs around $1-$3 per meal if you eat the local cuisine. Beer is $.40 – $1.50 per bottle. Uber rides are anywhere from $1 – $10.
I also worked my tail off this summer. In addition to nannying full time, I babysat for other families on their date nights. I drove a 3-year-old from her overnight sitter to preschool three times a week before heading to nanny. I drove a 4 year old between two parents who had lawsuits against each other. As mentioned earlier, I pet sat. I cut down unnecessary expenses. I only allowed myself two nights out at the bars. Quite an impressive feat if I do say so myself! I have some pretty fantastic friends that allowed me to stay at their houses for free or dirt cheap. I moved between 8 different houses over the four months. I can honestly sit here today, in Tai Pei awaiting my flight to Seoul, and say it was all worth it. I accomplished my three goals for this summer: make money, save money, and spend all my free time with my friends.
Let the adventures begins!