sunday sundaes

In ALL, RAISING HOPS INTO BEERS by Stephanie Klein48 Comments

While in bed the other night, just as we were turning off the lights and going through our move the pillows, untuck the sheets, and move so I can give you the hockey leg routine, I turned to Philip and sighed. It was a sigh of relief after a long day, the kind that eases out. “You know,” I said to him in the dark, “Norma is the best thing to ever happen to us.” Then we both kinda laughed.

We fight much less now. “Nanny” isn’t the right word, as it sounds so… twentyager demanding her own shelf in the fridge with paid vacation and weekly appointments with an aesthetician and masseuse. It’s one of those words that sounds like “personal-trainer” or “agent”. All might be necessities in one’s career, but the words never convey need and seem to scream WANT WANT WANT GET GET GET. She might be our childcare provider, technically, but genuinely, she is our lifesaver.

Upon leaving each day, she comes running up to me for a hug and kiss goodbye. Even my mother-in-law, when she came here, said, “You two love her so much, it’s as if you love her more than me!” While I do, indeed love my mother-in-law, we love Norma like family, and we feel very lucky.

The other day, for her birthday, we got a Boston Cream cake, her name in icing, sparkler candles. We snapped party hats on ourselves and on the beans. We came out singing, and she began to cry. I love that she’s part of my life.


1. btothel.jpg, 2. horseplay.jpg, 3. girls.jpg, 4. timeforhaircut.jpg, 5. ball.jpg, 6. cheer.jpg, 7. familia.jpg, 8. wish.jpg

We wanted to invite her and her family over for dinner, but I was hesitant… mostly because when you work all week the very LAST thing you want to do is spend time with your boss during your free time. Even when bosses think they’re being thoughtful, inviting you to that weekend bbq at their house, etc. It’s always kinda torture, and you wonder how long you have to stay. As much as I love her and want to get to know her family, I didn’t want to put her through the hell of obligations.

But when Phil mentioned it, she lit up, and said she couldn’t wait, that she talks about the ninos all the time, and that her husband and son just look at her and laugh. “I want so much for them to know you all as I do.” We are blessed.

Tonight we’re having the perfect summer dinner. Filet Mignon, lobster tails, grilled asparagus, corn on the cob, garlic bread. Strawberry shortcake, fresh watermelon, chocolate chip cookies with vanilla swiss almond ice cream. I’m also making celery root puree because the taters love it. A vanilla bean drawn butter for the lobster. I love days like today, family days, with the smell of charcoal, the sunset, wiffle ball, and cold white wine. Toasts to life, raised glasses, smiles and ¡Salud!


  1. It is nice to have those "lifesavers" in one's life. I'm glad your having a great day. We are doing wiffle and golf with the children in our backyard today. The whiskey I had last night is hurting my game… ;-)

  2. Oh yum – all of it. So glad you've got some help.

    To add to that perfect list of smells – freshly cut grass and the green of the trees.

    Happy day and happy dinner…

  3. We kept our nanny for two years beyond when we really needed her because we couldn't bear the idea of not having her as part of our life. In the end, we ended up moving out of state, and I always said it was easier to leave the state than to tell our Janet we no longer needed her services. A good nanny is like an extention of your own family. Sounds like you are well on your way to having a long term relationship with yours and it makes it so much easier when you have to travel to know the type of person and family your beans are with.

  4. I'm glad you all found someone great. I know you were getting a little frazzled and with your upcoming book tour, you'll be able to relax and enjoy the ride. Bless Norma and the beans! And cookouts- which reminds me… where did we store the charcoal?

  5. I am glad you are finding enjoyable moments in the heart of Texas and I am sure you have discovered by now that the people are very friendly. I found your blog a couple of years ago when I lived in San Antonio and they ran an article on you. I don't always agree with you, but you are (at times) controversial so I keep coming back-the sign of a good writer. Congratulations on your second book. Very inspirational to those of us who aspire to write one also.

  6. what funny timing, i love nights like this… i was just thinking how lucky i am and how much i have to be grateful for as my husband and i just did our mini version of your night; it was fabulous. i feel so refreshed and ready for the week to begin; i hope the same for you!

  7. What a beautiful post. I am so happy that you have found such a wonderful person to have in your lives. It must be so hard to find! I am glad you are having a great Sunday. Sounds like you are enjoying it! You painted a pretty picture in the last paragraph….I too love Sunday nites in the Spring and Summer especially when the sun stays up late! :)

  8. So glad to hear that good news from you. I am just getting ready to go to bed after a wonderful weekend that still has me smiling. It was all about the kiddos and lots of relaxed fun. We are doing a quick trip to Austin over Memorial Day weekend. Plan to show them the bats, the Capitol, the University where mommy went to school, maybe the Children's Museum and Zilker Park. I'd love to have a good meal that Saturday night at a place that is kid-friendly to little rambunctious boys. Any suggestions?

  9. p.s. I forgot to mention I was delighted to see Moose prominently featured in the SA Express News "Spice" magazine today and had a positive review. Congrats!

  10. Great to hear that you've found a nanny-type-person that fits you!
    Summer just started here as well, your dinner list made me hungry and it's not even 10 AM here…
    I read your book in the park this weekend, for the new site, is there a section where we can post comments/questions on your books?

    FROM SK: Yes, that section will be within the "reader's guide" area. Working on it… and which book did you read? Straight Up and Dirty or Moose (an advanced reader's copy?)

  11. Sounds like an amazing day! It is good that things are less strained at home now. And vanilla bean drawn butter? That sounds fantastic – I didn't know such wonderful things existed….

  12. Oh, I love this post. I'm so glad you found her. I cannot wait for days like these in my future…

  13. I love that you really value her, I've been a nanny before and IT WAS NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL. You're very lucky to have someone you care about and she is lucky to have you as a "boss." and p.s. the summer dinner…..sounds incredible, why do I feel like that wouldn't taste as summery in NYC? I'd like to enjoy that meal in abig backyard, not my tiny little closet/apt.

  14. She even just looks like a nice person. And she sounds like a warm, affectionate person. That's adorable.

  15. Im glad you guys found someone you're comfortable with.
    She looks like she is wonderful with little Lucas.

  16. What a blessing to find a child care provider who fits so well with you guys. And what beautiful imagery for the birthday dinner. You have such a way with words.

  17. I agree with ATX, she does look like a nice person. The kinf of person you want to invite into your family. Good for you and good for the beans, it is always wonderful to extend your family with those enhance your life in so many ways!

  18. there was something about this post that rubbed me the wrong way and i can't quite put my finger on it. anyone else?

  19. kb,

    I'm absolutely with you … the post definitely rubbed me the wrong way … it's a bit ostentatious … it's like when somebody does something nice for you and can't stop telling people about what they did for you, as if with a need to get validation for having done it. Guess she wants a pat in the back for treating her nanny as an equal and not a servant.

  20. Could you please enlighten us on this technique you have used to create the above album? I've been searching on line all day, and I can't quite get the right tutorial (I am a self-taught photoshop user).


  21. KB–yeah, I can see how it could a reader the wrong way. I think it is because with their former nanny, SK talked about how they would never violate their nanny's privacy by posting details about her on this site. I have to assume that the current nanny is okay with this post. I hope so, especially as she looks like a perfectly nice person.

  22. KB – I think I know what you mean about the post.. did it maybe sound elitist to you? Even though Stephanie is including Norma & family, there is still an "us vs. them" element. Just a hunch?

    [for the record, I also employ a wonderful nanny who has become part of our family, and I am not at all judging Stephanie's lifestyle – just speculating about the tone of this particular post.]

  23. Off topic, for sure but I wanted to know if the between the sheets subscription is for between the sheets or is it just for the blog? I'm here everyday so I defintely don't need that. ;-) Nice to see you and the family having good times. Lucas looks like such a little man and Abigal! OMG Cute beyond words.

  24. The fact that the family and the nanny (I won't even comment on Stephanie's musings about the term!) mutually adore each other is wonderful, but I agree. The tone just seems oblivious (to the nanny's role in this relationship), and so self-congratulatory. It just reads like self-conscious bit of mastermind publicity to me.

  25. It's nice that your nanny has become a part of your family. When my brother was born (3rd child), my parents hired live-in help (I don't think we called her a nanny back then). She lived with us for several yrs – gave my mom the chance to go back to school for her Master's Degree. She became such a part of our family that she lit candles at our Bar/Bat Mitvahs (an honor), came to our weddings, and now, 36 yrs later, even though she moved to another state, we still send family pictures back and forth and talk a few times a yr. It's nice for Abigail and Lucas to have someone in their lives who seems to care for them so much, aside from family, of course. Good for you!

  26. have to agree with kb… definitely an elitist us vs them tone… especially given the "filet mignon and lobster tales" – perhaps something more low key would have felt more at home for her and wouldn't have served as such a sharp contrast to her own life even more exaggerated than what she experiences caring for your kids, always around your lifestyle?

  27. Elitist is someone who assumes that someone who is a nanny can't enjoy and be comfortable with filet mignon and lobster tails. Condescending is someone who pretends to know what is someone's head when they have a wonderful day with a good friend no matter if they work for them, with them, make more money, less money, come from Alaska or are amish. The day sounds like it was wonderful and obviously you ALL had a great time. Good for you.

  28. I have been critical of some of SK's posts in the past, but this particular post does not strike me as "elitist." (Maybe some of you have been listening to Hillary and John McCain's campaign rhetoric about Obama for too long?)

    Stephanie seems genuinely happy to have found someone who fits into the family so well and takes wonderful care of Abigail and Lucas. Nothing wrong with that. In addition, the post is a natural follow-up to posts Stephanie had written previously about being stressed out about not having enough time and Phil's reluctance to hire a nanny (sounds like he's as happy as Stephanie that they hired someone). As for the description of the meal, I just attribute that to the fact that Stephanie loves to entertain and cook. All her descriptions of food are this elaborate.

    As I said, I have criticized some of Stephanie's posts in the past as over the top, but I see nothing wrong with this post. If anything, her nanny is probably happy to know how much Stephanie and Phil appreciate her.

  29. Yeah, I've been critical here before, too, but I didn't see anything elitist in this post. I did raise my virtual eyebrow at the lobster and filet bit, but more because those are SO not my kind of backyard BBQ foods. But I wouldn't presume to know what her nanny likes to eat.

    The thing I found a bit strange about the post is she isn't really talking about the nanny in reference to the kids. She says it's great that she's glad the nanny is in HER life, and that the nanny runs and gives HER kisses. I imagine I'd be more likely to write about how she is with the kids, and how glad I am that she's in their lives. But whatever. It's a nice post, and I'm glad she's got someone she likes. Good childcare is hard to find.

  30. Nanny's don't like filet mignon and lobster tails, Paul? All of them? What exactly do they like to eat?

    Why does everyone assume that all nannys are these poor creatures who are in completely different classes than the people who hire them? The few nannys that I know actually do pretty well financially, and are quite comfortable eating "elitist" food.

    I could be wrong, but I'm going to assume that when the Klein family entertains they plan the menu based on the guest's taste, not their job title.

  31. I felt the same way as one of the posters, it just rubbed me the wrong way. Truthfully, if someone is full time nanny, they my may do ok financially but I doubt they are servng filet and lobster to their families. It sounds like S's way of showing they are the benevolent, wealthy employers, and Norma is their employee, but hey look, we include in in our "fancy" casual backyard barbeques.

  32. Are some of you seriously saying Filet Mignon and lobster tail are "elitist" food or something.

    Almost sounds like you guys assume a "nanny" must naturally live off Mac 'n Cheese or something. That's condescending right there.

    It sounds like a great family affair. An addition to Stephanie's and Phil's family, which must be great since their families aren't living exactly around the corner. Sounds like a beautiful, delightful and awesome day. Made me want to lay down on the grass and watch them….and stuff my face with lobster tails….(oh wait though ;), I am an Executive Assistant…not sure I know how to eat that!" Hehehe…)

  33. elitist?

    are you people nuts?

    i doubt sk and her family bbq filet mignon and lobster EVERY weekend even for themselves…so they probably thought it'd be a nice treat: a good one to share with someone they care about (and let the nanny and her family know they deserve something special)….as in, it was a nice gesture.

    jeezuz. some people will moan about anything if you put it in front of them.

    sk: PLEASE post photos of this yummy meal.

  34. Oh please, if Stephanie had served hamburgers and potato salad some of you would have complained that she held back her typical fare because it was "too good" for the nanny. News flash–the wonderful ladies who have helped me take care of my kids enjoy fine food, fine wine and they even like going to the theater. Get this, they even have college degrees!

  35. i'm usuallly the first to bitch about elitist remarks. however, being a former nanny, i must say that stephanie sounds like a lovely boss. i always enjoyed forming bonds with the family and not feeling like the "hired help" only. special meals like this are the perfect way to show someone that they see them as something more than an employee and i think that is very important.

  36. I feel like my head is going to explode. I don't know Stephanie, but I do know from reading her for some time now that she loves to do special things for those for whom she cares, particularly cooking for them. It's like giving them a special present, you know, like you give people you care about?!?

    She loves this woman and feels lucky to have her as a part of the family – and GASP! finds the woman's presence not only comforting and rewarding to her children, but HERSELF! can you believe such a thing? – so she cooked for her! This is not a social statement, this isn't a war of the classes, it's an effing picnic! Cripes.

  37. I've also critiqued before, but I'm kind of baffled as to these responses.

    I thought Stephanie's post sounded exactly the way I would have written it – I love to plan special things for people, I love the anticipation of a special time, I love it when everything goes perfectly, and I love to tell people about it. NOT because I want to call attention to myself, but for the same reason as I read her entire last paragraph – to try to convey the warm, familial, joyful feeling of a truly enjoyed special occasion so that everyone can enjoy it on some level, regardless of whether they attended.

    Would it have been more acceptable if the menu were pizza and strawberry Kool Aid instead of lobster and white wine?

    And I'm not sure how it's read as condescending and "other" when Stephanie clearly delineates between her childcare provider and the STEREOtypical spoiled, demanding nannyesque figure. She describes her as a real person with a real family and a possible real desire to separate work from personal. That doesn't sound "other" to me; that sounds like ME, and probably most of us.

  38. the parts of this blog that i've found troubling have always been the extrememly consumerist posts — while i enjoy this blog and don't doubt that SK would be a very nice person if i met her, we definitely live in different worlds and are often of different minds when it comes to money.

    having said that,i don't see anything offensive about this post. i personally could easily see just making that fancy, awesome-sounding dinner for her and her family just because it's fun and she likes that kind of cooking. she's clearly a vanilla bean drawn-butter kinda lady, guests or no, so why would she make anything other than the kind of meal she loves and delights in when she has company? i agree with the other posters — it seems classist that others would assume a nanny would not enjoy lobster or steak.

    i work in a cafe, and some customers are shocked to see me shopping at the same fancy deli or at a cocktail bar, just like them. i may not be rich, i may not be able to afford fancy 3 times a day, but i likely enjoy my blini's and rye manhattans just as much as them. and don't judge me by my chapped hands and coffe stains and other signs of service labor – i'm getting my phd.

  39. @SK Thanks for the reply! I've read 'Straight Up and Dirty', I don't think I can get my hands on an advance copy of Moose here in Belgium!

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