Monday, July 29, 2013

A Week in Pictures

Last week was the first full week back after my ‘vacation’.  I am super excited that this summer’s group seems to be getting along so well.  Their creativity and cooperation have been demonstrated in many ways.  Here are just a few things I saw out in the yard last week.

An interesting roadway built for the cars;


This contraption;


Of course there was plenty of ‘cooking’;



And some mashed plant artwork on the tree stumps;



Some interesting ‘leaf art’;


There was a campfire;


And some ‘jerky’;


I was told that these were ‘tweezers’;


And these were ‘chicken rolls’;


This was a ‘wishing web’;


I wished for more fabulous activities like these. :-)

My favourite comment overheard this week was “I like making things with nature items because even if we don’t clean up our stuff we are not hurting the environment.”

I can’t wait to see what they think of the changes I made to the the yard this weekend – and what they do with it.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Oriental Casserole

I haven’t done a major overhaul of the lunch menu for quite a while but there have been a few minor changes.  One of the more recent additions – about four months ago – was the Oriental Casserole.

This recipe was originally added because I needed a new rice recipe – I try to have a mixture of rice, pasta, potato and bread/sandwich lunches on the menu each week.  Now, I’d also have to say that, when they were young, my own children would have refused to eat Oriental Casserole or any other rice dish.  Now that they are all adults there is still only one that actually likes rice.

However, many of the children in my care today actually do like rice and for some reason they all LOVE the Oriental Casserole.   Even the really picky eaters eat it.  There was a lot of excitement at lunch yesterday because it was Oriental Casserole day.  I listened to the comments made throughout the meal and I think I know what ingredient in particular makes this dish so poular.

This is a short excerpt from the lunch conversation;
  • “You’ve never had this before? Oh, you’ve got to try it!  It has bamboo in it.”
  • “I didn’t know you could eat bamboo.  Now I know why panda bears like bamboo.”
  • “I think Cheryl should be on ‘Chopped’”.
  • “I can’t wait to tell my dad that we had wood for lunch.” (giggle)
  • “I wonder where you can buy bamboo?”
  • “I think they sell bamboo at IKEA.”
Just for the record, I don’t think opening a can of bamboo qualifies for participation on ‘Chopped’.  Here’s the rest of the somewhat vague recipe I use to make my Oriental Casserole.

Heat olive oil in pan and stirfry 4 stalks of celery (sliced), 2 onions (chopped), and any other veggies like peppers that I have on hand and feel like tossing in.   Add one or two cans of sliced bamboo shoots (drained), one can of water chestnuts. and a pound of cooked, ground pork.  Heat through.

Cook 2 cups of Basmati rice in 4 cups of water/chicken stock with several Tbsp of soya sauce.  Combine cooked rice with stirfried veggies and pork.  Serve immediately or put in a casserole dish to reheat in oven later.

I think it is really a pretty simple recipe but the children really enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Before and After

They’re Back! :-)

The daycare has been closed for the past two weeks while I was on ‘vacation’.  Of course there have been some changes and I even remembered to get a few ‘before’ shots this time.

In the yard we have the sunflowers growing in the pots on the left and right – before my vacation:

And after;


The carrots in the big blue planter before;


And after;


The garden before;


And after;


The shed/deck before;


And after;


None of those projects are completed yet.  Mother Nature and I still have more work to do.

Downstairs in the basement is where I spent most of my vacation.  The shower as it was for the 17 years I’ve lived here (yes, that’s about as clean as it gets);


And after;


The children call it ‘fancy’.  I’m happy my ‘vacation’ is over and I can go back to playing outside.

Friday, July 5, 2013


I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately – reflecting and evaluating are powerful problem solving tools.  My current dilemma is that, in a recent meeting with a couple seeking childcare, I was asked for references.

Now, the problem isn’t that I don’t have references.  Many of the parents who contact me begin the conversation by saying “I have a friend/neighbour/co-worker who has had or currently has a child in your care”.  They already have the reference and don’t ask for more.

I will also say that I do believe that all parents should want references before leaving their child in the care of anyone they don’t personally know.  Employers check references before hiring new employees.  Homeowners get references from contractors before getting renovations done on their homes.

My concern lies in the sharing of personal information – phone numbers, email addresses, etc – of parents with children in my care.  Both the Privacy Act and the Provincial childcare licensing regulations restrict the sharing of personal information.

I am diligent in maintaining confidentiality for past and present families.  Even with families that I know spend time together outside of my childcare home I ensure I get permission before sharing any information.  So, it makes me very uncomfortable to ask them for permission to share their contact information with someone I just met and know very little about.

Over the sixteen years I’ve been a licensed childcare provider there have been occasional difficult families that caused problems for me, the school and other families with children in my care.  In those sixteen years I have had to dismiss three families due to the behaviour of a parent.  All of them seemed nice enough when I first interviewed them but it didn’t take long for it to become apparent that their conduct was not respectful to me or the families with children in my care.

I have occasionally reversed the request and asked a prospective parent to allow me to share their contact info with my currently enrolled parents.  That way the parents I already know and trust can contact the prospective parent without divulging any of their personal information.  However, this too bothers me because the prospective parent is seeking a reference and their first experience with me involves me asking to share their contact information with others.

I have considered and occasionally asked a parent to provide me with a letter of reference which does not have any contact info and can be shown to a prospective parent – but is this really a good reference?  What if the prospective parent wants additional information other than what is covered in the letter?  There is no way for them to ask specific questions.

Sigh.  These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night.  I still don’t have and answer.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mud Day 2013

I just spent the entire three day long weekend ‘celebrating’ Canada Day by rebuilding and reorganizing some of my kitchen cupboards.  The whole project actually took much longer than I expected and there was no time for any computer work.

I only have four days of ‘work’ left before my ‘vacation’ when we will tackle the major project.  I don’t anticipate much time for computer work then either so I simply must get in a few pictures from last week’s International Mud Day.

I loved that the school-age children were here for mud day this year.  We started with a bin full of dirt and we added some water.  Some of the the children were a little unsure about the activity – only one chose to watch instead of joining in.


Mixing the dirt and water together and then using the strainers to try to separate them again.


The school aged children were the first to move on to other activities – they miss the opportunity to play here when they are in school for so much of the day and there were other things they wanted to do.  Of course first there was some more excitement about using the hose to wash off the mud.


The preschoolers stayed and played in the mud for nearly an hour more – definately not going to wait until 2014 before we do this again. :-)