Category Archives: daycare

A Worm Farm!

Some of my favourite memories as a child involved playing in the mud. Squishing it between my toes, making mud pies, or digging in it. I absolutely loved it.

This weekend while I started some pretty massive yard work, part of which involved moving some bricks that had been separating my garden area from my yard. It was hot, and the work was harder than my lazy self thought it was going to be. I pulled up one brick and noticed the fat end of a worm working his way down to dirt.

That was the end of the yard work. I suddenly had a flash back to a daycare idea I had Рcreating a Worm Farm. A way for kids to study what it is that worms do and how they do it.  I spent the next few hours with Ibrahim digging in the dirt in search of worms.

Fast forward to this morning where I had everything I needed to set up this little experiment.

We started off by putting a layer of rocks in the bottom of a clear vase. The rocks are supposed to help with air circulation…or something like that. I don’t know…I just put them there.

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Next, I put alternate layers of dirt and sand – this is so that (eventually) the kids will be able to see how the worms mix the soil up.

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We topped it off with some finely chopped banana peel (worms need to eat you know!) and our worms.

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After we checked it out and made a few observations, we covered it in black construction paper. Why? Because worms generally don’t like the light and would burrow into the center of the vase and now let us see what they’re doing! By covering the vase, they will (hopefully) stay closer to the edges and we can study their movements over the next few days/weeks. ūüôā

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Friday Fun

Wow, I’d posted a pic on Instagram what seems like forever ago all excited because I’d made a plan (almost) for daily blogs. Yeah…the best laid plans, right?

So, I’m actually going to try. Previously, my posts have been very word heavy…so I’m going to try to just stick to my daily ¬†mini themes and hope that it can inspire the writer’s bug in me that needs to get out.

Here’s the plan:

Mondays – Moving (health/exercise related stuff)
Tuesdays – Tasty (food!)
Wednesdays – WIP (stands for Work In Progress for whatever the current craft is)
Thursday – Thoughts (whatever’s on my mind)
Fridays – FUN (daycare stuff? my own fun?? whatever’s fun at that time!)
Saturdays – Shopping! (this is a stretch for me, as it’s not an activity I much enjoy!)
Sunday – family

So – on to Friday’s fun. I’m actually SO excited for this! I found an awesome website of a fellow Canadian Home Daycare Provider. She has amazing stuff in her back yard for the kids to do…and I’ve been planning on making my yard equally as fun for the last few years. It’s just that…well, I had a baby 2 years ago, then last year, I had an infant to try to work around.

THIS YEAR IS THE YEAR! ¬†I have pallets that I’ve nabbed and am creating a water wall, a sand wall, a music (aka NOISY) wall and one that I’m going to fill with trinkets (latches, hooks, those door stops that make that awesome “twang” sound, etc). ¬†I’ve got all the stuff for these and we (my mom’s helping me out with this) have just been waiting for appropriate weather to finish it all up. We thought we’d be done 2 weeks ago – but we had wicked, wicked wind (90+ km/hour) which isn’t exactly conducive to spray painting!

There are just a few things that I need to finish up to get the yard I’m really looking for.

  1. an old wheel barrow. It doesn’t need to function – I really just want a space to make a mud play area (yes, mud!!) that the kids can gather around to play in.
  2. some sort of way to put up a privacy/shade screen on my chain link fence. I’m thinking of the ones I’ve seen on apartment balconies.
  3. a bucket – I’m on the lookout for a fun/funky/farm style type of bucket
  4. some sort of outdoor flooring that’s not going to cost me an arm and a leg – and that won’t get HOT in the sun.

I’m so excited to get this done, I could pee! I can’t wait – once it’s done, I’ll post up pics, so keep an eye on my instagram or facebook ūüôā

 

Daily Childcare Report (Product Review)

I have to share this awesome site with you…I don’t care if you run a childcare center, a family childcare home, or bring your child to one – I’m telling you – you need to use this (or tell your caregiver about it so that you can!). I am not being compensated for this review – I just love this product so much, I feel that every childcare provider should have it!

Let me just set the stage for you – from a provider’s perspective:

I have 6 kids here from 6 different families.  These kids all range in age from 0-12 years.  All day long we do a variety of activities and crafts and eat our meals.  I plan on taking them on a Field Trip to (random place) and now I have to nag each family to sign a permission slip.

Meanwhile, as my day goes on – I have to prepare the meals and snacks, ensure that everything is clean and sanitary, remember to tell Little Johny’s mom that he is developing a bit of a diaper rash, tell Sally’s grandma that she’s has been tugging at her hear all day (possible ear infection?) and not to forget to ask Mary’s dad about her pickup schedule for the following week.

While I’m doing all of that, I also have to write out – by hand¬†– every where we went, everything we did, and everything we ate. ¬†You can bet that by the time the 3rd of 4th report – my writing is illegible.

Then there’s the chaos of pickup time. ¬†Mom is thinking that she forgot to pull out the meat for dinner, so now she’s going to have to figure something else out for dinner. ¬†Dad is worried about leaving here with his kid so that he can get to the school to pick up the other one on time. ¬†A thousand other worries are running through parents’ heads as I try to give them the low down on what went on that day, bundle a kid into his coat/shoes, jam a piece of paper into the parents hand (hoping that I’m giving the right paper to the right parent) and trying to get them to initial the sign-out sheet while I’ve got 5 other kids pandering for attention in the background.

This is not an unusual day for a childcare provider.  Notes sent home often end up crumpled in the back seat of the car.  Rushed conversations between myself and the parent are quickly forgotten.  Chaos ensues.

Enter the DailyChildcareReport.

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Now my day looks pretty much the same Рbut instead of having to fill out 6 different reports, I am putting notes into my DailyChildcareReport.  Checking off if a child needs a change of clothes, more diapers, or if a parent needs to sign something.  The foods served, and how much the child ate are completed with a click.  Same thing for naps, mood, and diaper changes (right down to the consistency of the stool!).  It takes me less than 5 minutes to fill out a complete report.

There’s a section where I can type a quick note to the parents about their child – knowing that it will be legible, and is going to the right guardian is great! ¬†Parents can even have it set up to go to aunts, uncles, grandparents…whoever they like.

And how does the parent get their child’s info? ¬†Through an email or text that’s sent automatically at the end of the day! ¬†Simple, quick, easy.

My brain is no longer fried. ¬†I’m no longer telling kids “just a minute hun, I have to write this down for mommy to read….sorry baby, just another few minutes, now I have to write a note for Emily’s mom…” ¬†Now, I get to say “You built a tower? Awesome, let me come take a picture!”

Oh – and speaking of pictures – you can attach pictures, video and PDF documents for parents to see.

I love DailyChildcareReport, and I love that I can contact Christian, the creator, if I have a question, comment, idea for improvement…whatever I need – and he’ll reply within 24 hours. ¬†So, what does it cost? ¬†Free for parents it’s free and for providers, it’s a¬†whopping $3.12 per child (and it’s a tax write off!)

I would never go back to any other way of communication with parents.  This works, works well, and I find that my parents are more involved now that I use this than they ever were before.

Click on the site Рand scroll down to the bottom where they have a YouTube video explaining the process.

Best of all – you can try it for FREE for the first 30 days. ¬†What’s better than free??

Sushi

I have a fist tank – I¬†love it. ¬†It’s so calming to sit and watch fish, and they can have some pretty interesting personalities. ¬†Yes. ¬†Fish can have personalities.

The other day, I noticed a pair of my angel fish had suddenly become super aggressive. ¬†I threatened them with the toilet bowl if they didn’t stop attacking all the other fish in the tank. ¬†Twenty minutes later, I see she’s laying eggs. ¬†No wonder she was territorial.

So we watched her carefully lay her eggs on the filter intake (no, not the best spot to put them), then we watched her carefully fan them with her fins, and the male came by¬†occasionally¬†and looked like he was blowing on them (well, softly shooting water from his mouth, because we all know that there’s no actual air in the tank).

This got us all excited Рwondering if they would make it.  Would we have baby fish swimming around?  Will the other fish eat them?  Will they get sucked up into the filter after they hatch?

We didn’t have too long to question. ¬†Mamma fish let down her guard and the other fish in the tank promptly came in and ate them all.

But it got me thinking…I wonder if they could hatch? ¬†Wouldn’t that be an awesome learning experience? ¬†The tank is in my daycare area, it would be awesome to go through that process with the kids! I began researching how angel fish breed and learned a few things. ¬†I’ll need a few more plants for cover (which I had intended on buying anyhow) and a piece of slate/flatter rock that she can safely deposit her eggs on to.

Awesome РI was all over this.  I could totally do this!

So I mentioned it to Chili Bean and Mini Mythbuster…“wouldn’t it be cool if we could buy these things and the fish eggs survived? ¬†That would be amazing” etc, etc.

That’s when Adam chimes in… “Mom – can we get the kind of fish that make Sushi? ¬†I love sushi”

Image from http://www.vectorarts.net/

um….I don’t even know where to go with that one.

Sidewalk Chalk – I hate you.

So, I have a home daycare. ¬†We do things like painting, coloring, and pasting. ¬†Outside we do the same, often adding sidewalk chalk. ¬†Sidewalk chalk is amazing – you can draw, write, create games with it – it’s uses are amazing, and it washes right off.

Over the last week – someone (I’m guessing Adam) brought a piece of sidewalk chalk inside. ¬†Not a big deal. ¬†Then someone (I’m also guessing Adam) drew a picture on my pale cream berber carpet. ¬†Again, not a big deal. ¬†It was just chalk.

Yesterday, I decided to steam clean the carpets in the house (our Eid celebrations had done quite the number on my floors!) ¬†So, I pull out my steam cleaner and start the process of cleaning. ¬†I go to the spot where the cup of coffee was spilled – it’s cleaned out so well that you can’t even see it was ever there. ¬†Next I attack the spot where a glass of grape juice was dropped – again, completely taken out of the carpet. ¬†After that, I go to the spot where someone dropped a piece of ¬†chocolate cake (which was then somehow smeared into the carpet — again, I’m assuming Adam here) – and voila – my steam cleaner gets that stuff out and the carpet looks like new.

Then I get to the spot where someone (Adam) drew on the carpet with sidewalk chalk. ¬†It’s sidewalk chalk, – this stuff washes off your hands with just water, this should be easy, right?

WRONG.

The stuff got darker. ¬†Surprising…but then I thought – well, it’s wet now, yeah, it’ll get darker.

But instead of being sucked up and away like the coffee, grape juice and chocolate cake – it just seemed to get set deeper into the carpet. ¬†I went over that spot FIVE TIMES….and still haven’t been able to get it out! ¬†It’s sidewalk chalk – why won’t it come out???

 

 

A little update

Just in case you all haven’t noticed…my blogging has been lacking lately. ¬†I’m not in school anymore, so there’s really no excuse (other than that I still have my job, my family …. and a 19 hour fast at the moment). ¬†Anyhow, I thought I’d write a little update about everything that’s been going on.

I’ll start off with some sadness. ¬†One of my daycare children has left me. ¬†Yeah, yeah, I know it happens…it’s part of the job – but this kid wasn’t just any daycare child – he was like MY child. ¬†I’d had him since he was a (not so little) baby and he’d been like a pseudo-twin to my Adam. ¬†The two of them had many adventures together, and even though there was a few fights now and then, they were pretty much¬†inseparable. ¬†But life goes on, and after 3 1/2 years, this one grew up and out of my home.

It’s not just the child who was special to me though, it was the parents as well. ¬†I’ve had some great parents in my career…respectful of my policies, thoughtful, caring…but these ones had become more than just a client (Can I mention here that there are many times when I love a child to bits and just barely tolerate the parents?? ¬†There is a reason I chose to be my own boss – I’m just not a people person). ¬†Anyhow, we all shed a tear (okay, more than that) on the last day….and I miss our daily chats. ¬†However, with every closed door comes an open window – and I’m happy that we can now move beyond our “business relationship” and go onto friendship.

Next I’ll go onto Mr. Delusional. ¬†I wrote earlier about his Bell’s Palsy episode. ¬†You have to keep in mind that he is the kind of man who will only go to a doctor if he’s near death (or has a sore throat – what can I say? ¬†He’s a finicky man.) ¬†Anyhow – he went to a GP for a follow up, has been seeing an acupuncturist (he refused to let me come because he thought I’d take pictures and post them on Facebook. ¬†As if! ¬†*insert innocent face*) and has even gotten some cupping done. ¬†So cool! ¬†It would be even cooler if I could take pictures and post them on Facebook, but whatever….I’m not holding any grudges or anything.¬† I’ll get over it.

My daughter…she’s growing like crazy and quickly turning into a young lady. ¬†HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??? ¬†You’ll notice that I don’t use her name anymore…she hasn’t asked, but I think she wants a little privacy. ¬†I’m going to have to come up with a¬†moniker¬†for her — will have to think on that… ¬†Anyhow – this child is a mini version of her father (with the luck to have the great looks of her mother, just saying). ¬†She is a shopping fanatic and shoe-a-holic. ¬†Yes…Just. Like. Dad. ¬†I have 2 pairs of dress shoes (which honestly I never wear) and 2 pairs of shoes that I use for everything else. ¬†These ones are my favorite…but for some reason, Mr. D and Missy D are embarrassed by them. ¬†Whatevs. ¬†Anyhow – they went shopping yesterday for back-to-school shoes. ¬†They were gone ALL DAY LONG…and what did they come back with? ¬†Not shoes — they couldn’t agree on a style/price combo. ¬†What did they have? ¬†Press on nails. ¬†The child has been¬†¬†begging¬†me for them for months, and my answer has always been an adamant “Hell No” – but one look at daddy, a little flutter of her eyes, and he turns into a puddle and buys them. ¬†Seriously??

Meanwhile – my middle guy – content as can be. ¬†Happy with everything. ¬†He’s so quiet relaxed about things that he quite often goes under the radar while the rest of my house is in chaos. ¬†When we took him to the hospital for his tonsillectomy – we discovered that the only pair of shoes he had that still fit were literally worn through. ¬†What can I even say about that? ¬†I am a horrible mother.

And Adam…my Adam. ¬†My trouble maker. ¬†My ADD poster child. ¬†Can you believe this kid is starting Kindergarten in the fall?? ¬†I found my ultrasound pictures of him the other day…it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. ¬†ūüôĀ

Okay – that’s it…I hear the knocking at my door that tells me my day is about to start.

Nearing the finish

I’m so close to the end of school – so close I can taste it. ¬†Really…just 7 days, 20 hours and 36 minutes…but whatever, who’s counting.

My course, where I read and study and show that I’ve learned everything by answering questions and having conversations – that’s the easy part. ¬†I’m not so worried about that at all. ¬†However, there’s the practicum….

da, da, dAAAAH!

The practicum involves the instructor coming to my house to make sure that I’m able to do everything that I claim to know. ¬†This isn’t a problem.

Ironically, this picture of Adam isn’t photoshopped….

 

No – Adam is my biggest problem. ¬†He’s a great kid – he really is – but he’s also chaotic, wild, excitable, hyperactive, and emotional. ¬†Take today for example – I had a day filled with temper tantrums, toy tossing, tears, and then giggles.

He is a performer in his heart – and all he needs is an audience. ANY audience. ¬†Tonight, he decided that it would be a good idea to put on a baby doll’s t-shirt. ¬†Yeah. ¬†It got stuck on his head. ¬†Kind of like a blindfold. ¬†I enjoyed the momentary silence as he tried to figure out how to get it off. ¬†I watched out of the corner of my eye as he tried to get it off. ¬†He escaped with no harm, don’t worry folks.

Anyhow – you see – the instructor who’s coming is this really awesome, soft spoken woman. ¬†I love her…I’d love to be as calm and unruffled as she is…but well…I have Adam.

I’m hoping that he got rid of the craziness today – so that I can have a quiet, relatively uneventful final practicum visit tomorrow.

 

Pray for me.

 

PS – it is SO GREAT to be back and able to blog again. ¬†Let’s also say a little prayer that the internet Gremlins stay away!

Frustration

So, I’m supposed to do this assignment for school. ¬†It involves video taping my interactions with the kids for a full 90 minutes. ¬†This is a problem because:

  1. Adam.  Enough said.
  2. My boys don’t exactly have the attention span to last 90 minutes. ¬†In fact, 90 minutes is a long¬†time for us to spend in the same room, let alone at the same project.
  3. I really don’t want to do it.

But – the instructor was great…after freaking out ¬†talking¬†about my concern over the length of time, she told me 30 minutes would be good. ¬†Then I had trouble finding a video camera (not enough room on my memory card in my camera)…so she brought me her own personal camera. ¬†Yey. ¬†I had hoped I’d be able to get away with just doing another assignment. ¬†I was so thankful.

Anyhow Рthat was Friday.  I tried to shoot my video today.  It worked great!  I had a bunch of interactions with all the kids (individually and as a group) and was even able to incorporate some transitions (ie, moving from playing to clean up to coloring).  It was fantastic.  I actually had 43 minutes of video.  Woot!

I plugged it into my computer to view it…and we had a problem. ¬†I’d propped the camera on a ledge in my basement…it shot everything from about 4′ and higher. ¬†This would be great, if I was caring for giants. ¬†Unfortunately – ALL of the stuff I’d video taped was worthless…As we sat on the floor talking and playing – all that was visible was the top 2 inches of my head.

I grumbled….and tried again.

The battery died.

I grumbled more.  I plugged the thing into my computer to charge and took the boys out on a walk.

An hour later we come back, and I try again.  I get a 1 minute video and it shuts down.

So…I take a deep breath and do what anyone in my position would do. ¬†I whined¬† brought it to my husband. ¬†He takes the camera…looks at it and says, “I’ll figure it out.” ¬†A few minutes later he comes back to me and shows me the camera. ¬†It doesn’t charge like I thought it did through the USB port…no – it has batteries.

And folks…I lost it.

I almost had it together…but I looked at Mr. D’s smirking face and I absolutely lost it. ¬†I broke down. ¬†I cried. ¬†I shouted. ¬†I threw the junk mail at him, and I ripped out the batteries and threw those too. ¬†Yeah. ¬†I’m awesome that way. ¬†What the hell kind of camera uses batteries anyhow?? ¬†What is that?

So – I had my hissy fit.

Meanwhile – I’ve got NEW batteries in the stupid camera and am waiting for my boys to wake up from their nap so that I can start filming this damn video assignment for the 4th time. ¬†It had better work. ¬†If it doesn’t I may just send her an audio file.

I’m done.

Intention vs Reality

How I'd imagined my walk in the rain would be

It’s a wonderfully rainy day out there. I know there are people out there who don’t like rain…but I don’t mind it. It brings¬†such a sense of renewal and freshness (God knows, I need that after the weekend I had – oh, if you’re looking for my post where I picked a fight with cancer, I’ve set it to private…I will republish it, but not until after I’ve regained some control over my feelings)

Anyhow, back to the rain. I’ve got a home filled with boys…4 very excitable, energetic, rather chaotic boys who need to get out and run off their energy. So I thought that going puddle jumping was going to be a fantastic experience.

The Intention:

To go outside, all Mary Poppins like and sing songs about rain or spring time or some other such inspiring tune wherein birds would flock to me and the boys would skip merrily along, finding a puddle to splash in or a worm to inspect.  The neighborhood would look on in wonder at our silly antics and we would bring joy to all.

The reality:

We take 2 steps outside upon which they spy a worm trying desperately not to drown on the sidewalk. Child one says “oh look, a worm!” child two squeals gleefully, stomps on it, and giggles. Child three gets mad at child two and then shouts at child one for pointing out the worm in the first place. Child four, oblivious to the commotion is attempting to pick up smeared worm guts.

When that catastrophe was over, we continued on our walk, with repeated outbursts of “I’m cold” or “my pants are wet.” Before we are even 3 houses away, I’m being asked to carry them. All of them. We finally manage to get back to the house, cold and wet. Then I’m asked to make a tea party so that they can warm up. Tea party includes no tea, rather hot chocolate, lots of “cheers” and clinking of tea cups, and discussions about who touched more worm guts.

Welcome to my world.

School Burnout

I’m so close to being done school. ¬†SO. CLOSE. ¬†I’m so close I can taste it. ¬†I’m just months away from being able to call myself a College Graduate. ¬†If I continue on the trend I’m on, I may just be a college graduate who graduates with a 4.0.

For a highschool drop out – that’s a BIG DEAL.

But…I want to quit. ¬†I’m so close to the end and it’s all that I can do to get my butt in gear and get everything done.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed on my facebook page – but…well, I complain about school a lot lately. ¬†I haven’t liked much of this last year of school – which deals with all of the behind the scenes aspects of childcare; the legalities, the regulations, and don’t let me forget about that horrid class about non-profits. *shudder*

I’m all about the kids. ¬†I love¬†my job. ¬†I get paid to play with lego, to finger paint, and to make snowmen. ¬†Today I was a ninja. ¬†Oh, not just any old ninja, I was a ninja master. ¬†Really, this is the best job in the world.

So the first years of schooling was fantastic. ¬†The courses were all about ways to introduce learning through¬†play. ¬†It was totally my thing. ¬†This diploma year was…well…it sucked.

This is the reason that I was so incredibly thrilled when I learned that the course that I’m in right now was going to take me back to the kids. ¬†Not some boring legal document where I have to memorize the ratios and numbers and ages and stages and room sizes for daycare centers (not a place I ever, ever, ever plan on working in). ¬†No, I was going to be doing Creative Planning with children. ¬†Music, Movement, Drama…I had such high hopes.

And…they were shattered.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Instructor (who I think reads my blogs, but I’m not positive). ¬†I love you. ¬†I think you are a great instructor. ¬†(She really is, I’m not kissing up). ¬†But man – this class – it’s so…blah. ¬†It’s all this obvious stuff that anyone with 1/2 a brain can figure out. ¬†I don’t feel challenged here. ¬†I don’t feel like I’m even learning anything. ¬†For most people that would be a non-complaint…an easy pass. ¬†But man…it sure as hell makes my assignments a horrendous undertaking. ¬†I just can’t do it. ¬†I don’t know why…I just feel like I’m caged and limited and prevented from going to the places I know that I could go but can’t because I’m stuck on this stupid leash of limitations in the assignment outline.

*sigh*

I really pushed it with my last¬†assignment. ¬†Like – really, really pushed it. ¬†I decided to go a little on the safer side this time but I didn’t enjoy this. ¬†I didn’t grow. ¬†I didn’t get anything.

I don’t think it’s the course though. ¬†I think it’s me. ¬†I’m just done. ¬†Kind of like when you’re pregnant…and you enjoy all of the bits of it, the swelling tummy, the kicks, that motherly “feeling” but then you get into the 8th month and you’re like “Dude, I’m done…hurry up and come out ’cause mommy’s tired of this.”

Yeah. ¬†That’s how I feel about school now. ¬†Just done.