Friday, June 17, 2011

Child Care Ends, Summer Begins

I remember the day Princess walked into my home for our first interview. She made herself right at home and thankfully stayed that way. She would spend the next 2 1/2 years here, growing into the beautiful, spunky, smart, lovable girl she is today. I will miss her.

It is unbelievable that today is her last day coming here. I am thankful that Little Man is still here and Princess will come pick him up with her mom next year. It won't be the same, but I know I will get lots of hugs and kisses when she picks up, and I will hear all about her adventures in Kindergarten. It will be a wonderful journey for her!!

So, now we start our summer vacation. Having families that work in education has it's perks, when it comes to vacations and holidays I pretty much know I will have them off. We have lots planned as a family this summer and we get started today.... I will miss all my kids and our routines, but I look forward to spending some quality time with my own children this summer. They sacrifice a lot of my time during the school year, that I really try to make it up to them in the summer. I look forward to our own adventures this summer!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3-D Art

It has been a quiet day today. The humidity has stayed away, but the breeze is gone. So, it wasn't as hot as it could have been, but not as cool either. We created some process oriented 3-D art today. We talked about the colors of the pipe cleaners we used, trying to get Sprout and Big Guy to repeat our words. Sprout could name almost all of them, and Big Guy here tried his best, and giggled a lot. I think he thought we either sounded or looked pretty funny saying "Yellow" over and over again... I never really thought what they must think when they see us over exaggerate words, it must be a sight. I must look in the mirror, but I have a feeling I won't do it like I would for the kids because I look so silly, even to myself :)

After we created, we painted. Paint is always fun. I bought these painting screens from Discount School Supply and thought splatter painting over our 3-D Creations would be fun, but the screens didn't do to well. It just blobbed the paint out and the kids ended up just painting on the Styrofoam with the brush.

I had let a friend borrow our pop-it beads a while ago and she returned them to us recently and the girls had a lot of fun making jewelry for each other. They kept telling me they were Ariel and Tiana... I kept telling them they were Princess Gorgeous and Princess Beautiful!! Lots of giggling ensued :)

Today is Sprouts last day for the school year. Her mom is a teacher and she will spend her summer home with mom. I will miss her. She is such a character and really brings so much joy to my home!! I will miss her smile every morning and her cry each afternoon :) It is a catch 22, parents love that they are happy to be here and don't want to leave, but sometimes I think they would like to just be able to pick up a happy toddler and go home without to much fuss. Sorry :)

How this little one has grown!! I will see you in August!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Beautiful Day

Today was a most glorious day. It was sunny, breezy and not humid at all. We ate our breakfast and outside we went. We started by dumping all the water that had collected in our toys from the evening storms, then there was the inspection by the children that all the toys and "play worlds" they had constructed last week, were still where they left them. A lot of discussions and running. It is amazing how fast they can move when the weather cooperates.

I set the E-Z Up tent up on the patio to give us a little extra shade and set about putting out the paint and paint brushes at the easel. We had talked yesterday about using the easel to experiment with the paint, so we did just that today. I also filled the water table and left the hose out to use periodically throughout the morning. Some of us put on our suits and others didn't (my kids of course) and thus started a morning filled with laughter, friendship, investigating, and fun!!!

Sometimes it's just great to catch the shot you want to... he was so overjoyed with himself!!

The kids have taken to getting inside the easel and creating portraits if each other, this one was done by my son of Princess... it was pretty good considering the paint and brushes they have to use :)


Big Guy here was a little hesitant using the paint with his fingers yesterday, but today he was right there investigating the brushes, the paint and even trying to get under the easel like he saw the other kids doing. I am glad I put it out in a different way for him to enjoy.

I always try to leave messy art out for longer periods of time, as the littler guys have such a short attention span that they don't always get the true benefit of using the materials. Inside I am not always able to do that though. Little Man has a tendency to grab and dump or eat just when I blink :) So we have to limit the activity when we are inside, but outside, like today... man they had a blast!!

These two spent A LOT of time here today. They painted, sprayed, cleaned and painted again. It was wonderful how they discussed what they were painting, how they would achieve the finished product, and even painting together at times. They would walk away for a spell, but returned over and over all throughout the morning. It was nice to see how much they enjoyed it.

Of course, who doesn't love the sprayer on the hose!!

I took this photo right before we went in to change. We have been going through so many towels lately that they all seem to be in the wash or dryer right now. I sent my son to get some from upstairs for us to use and he only brought done 2 towels for 3 kids.

"That's okay!" says Princess, "Come here Sprout, I got ya."

Princess wrapped her towel around Sprout and gave her a little hug and that cute growl we Mom's do when we wrap our little ones up after a bath, shower or pool. It touched my heart and I had to turn away because I only have Princess for a few more days, and I will miss how loving she is. I have the greatest job in the world, but sometimes it is down right sad.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Exploring & Finger Paints

Today we did some review of our colors. We read Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh. We love the book and talked a lot about the mice getting into the pots of paint and dripping it all around. We talked about how they mixed and stirred to make new colors. The discussion led us to toss around ideas of how we could mix paint like the mice did. We came up with using paint brushes on paper, finger paints on paper or the table, and mixing the colors on our plexi-glass easel outside (that way we could just spray away the mess when we were done). The kids (ok Princess and Ry) decided that finger paint on our trays was best. "That way no one can touch my colors and mess them up." Let the Fun Begin!!!

(Hmmmm... not so sure about this)

(They are LETTING me make this mess)

(What could be better than this... make a mess, then play in the water)

Finger painting was a huge hit and took up a good part of our morning, but after we cleaned up and set the room back we got out our Explorer Magnifiers and went on a nature walk. It was a hot, but breezy day, perfect for looking for birds, bugs and creepy crawlies.

(What's that??)

(A Creepy Crawler, I think)

This little guy loved looking through his magnifier... even stumbling a few times because he didn't want to put it down to watch in front of himself.

Now that Ry is out of school, he and the other kids picked up right where they left off. We miss our other preschool friends, but we had lots of fun discussions about Kindergarten and how a rising 1st grader is very knowledgeable about things.

We got home to find another of my sons waiting for us. The kids had him sit right down for a quick little tea party. Big Guy here decided that he needed a little help with is tea. My sons are always good sports with the kids in my child care... now their own brothers, that's a different story.

What a wonderful morning!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Last Day of School

Yeah... it's the last day of school!! Um, I think that's good, right?? :)

Summer break brings with it its own set of challenges. Keeping my own 4 school age children busy, keeping the little ones I still have busy, along with vacations, summer baseball, and keeping cool. Hmmm.... maybe school isn't so bad.

I read parenting magazines about how to make the last day of school memorable... throwing ice cream party, swim parties, big signs welcoming summer, etc... and I have every intention of creating one of those things. Then all of a sudden the last day of school is here and I realize not only didn't I plan a great end of school memory for my own children, I didn't create one for the daycare kids, I forgot the teacher gift, the award ceremonies, and the water balloons for the water balloon challenge!! Oh man...

Thankfully I always get things better the first week of summer. We will have our sign, we will have our ice cream, and we will definitely have water play... lots of it!! So, to all of you Mom's, Daycare Providers and Teachers... WELCOME SUMMER!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Path to Independence

Little Man is growing so fast. His ability to gain independence is in overdrive. He has almost got this walking thing down pat, and I think walking will be a short lived period in his life. He is a Runner... I know it :)

As a baby grows into a toddler, he begins to start making connections with past experiences. He starts to really hone those "reading people" skills. For example... If Ms X puts me down and I cry and hold on to her leg (even though there is nothing wrong) will she pick me back up?? Lets test this hypothesis. Ok, doesn't work with Ms X, put it does with Mr X... so into the catalog in his brain it goes. To be brought out whenever he may need to make that connection again.

Being in Family Child Care, I get the unique opportunity to be a very important person in a child's early life. I know all to well the ins and outs of the way each of the kids in my care act around me and around Mom & Dad. That sometimes I can get a child to change a diaper without the wiggle, squirms and cries a parent might have to endure. It all goes back to the experiences and connections that a child makes with the people and things around them.

I bring this up because Little Man is experiencing so many things right now. I have seen so many emotions in his little face. It is both heartbreaking and exhilarating. To see him make connection that he will later use. Case in point...

(I can do this)

(What's going on, why isn't this working)

(I am not happy with this outcome!!)

(I cannot believe this happened to me!!)

You see, Little Man has been able to get up this slide many, many times with no problem. He doesn't understand why he can't get up this time. If you look close, you will notice he has on sandals. At Shell's house sandals are always optional, but with the fact that Little Man is really getting the hang of walking, we have been putting them on so he doesn't get hurt. This "experience" with the sandals and the slide are not in his catalog yet. He was not hurt or sad in these photos... He was MAD!!! He was frustrated, and annoyed that his feet just keep slipping. I promise, I offered assistance, hugs, kisses, and even a push or two, put he didn't really want my help. This is something he can do himself you see.

Little Man tried getting up that slide for 2 days before he was able to conquer it. You see, having a caring adult, that knows the ability of the children in their care, helps them to know what they are capable of. I knew Little Man was capable of figuring this out. I knew he wouldn't fall over the side, or throw himself backwards. I knew with lots of encouragement and a few examples of what he could do, he would succeed. So, when he got to the top (by bracing his little sandal clad feet against the sides) the smile was enormous. Cheers rang out from all the kids, as well as me. He must have went up and down for another 15 minutes before he moved on to something else. It was amazing. Watching a child figure things out... it was like I could see his little mind working (when he wasn't getting mad of course). When he made it a few steps up, he looked up at me with a look, like "look at me, I'm doing this." My job is really great!!

Now that he has had this experience he can draw upon it later, when he encounters another slide. He will then test out the hypothesis, that if he braces his feet to the edge he can get up.... or can he. Little Man will encounter slides without sides, and slides with slippery surfaces, he may be able to get up some and not others, but they will all be learning experiences he can draw from later on, feeling good about himself because he is able to problem solve and figure out the solutions, even at a year old. The path to independence is an amazing journey for a baby... I am glad I am on this journey with Little Man!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Having Fun Outside

Our academic year has officially ended. We are on to summer fun... first we need to do a little house cleaning (or outdoor cleaning, if you will). If you have been following the blog for a while, or are a family here, you know my backyard can get a little muddy :) Our toys tend to always have a layer of North Carolina Orange Clay on it, no matter how many times we clean them. That doesn't stop us from trying though. Although, after awhile, some of the toys get a slight orange tinge to them, no matter how hard I try to get them clean.

Today we thought we would start our week off with some water and suds...

(I was told this makes it much easier to get the hard spots!!)

I have a Pampered Chef foam soap dispenser, that I don't actually use as the pump is a little to hard to use for little slippery hands. I like the dispenser though, because I can add my own soap and water. I put the tear free baby shampoo in there, mix with water, and you have a perfect mixture of tear free soap to clean lots and lots of outdoor things!!!

"See Michelle, I made bubbles. Lots of bubbles!!"

Little Man needed to get into this action. He wanted that soapy rag more than anything else.

I think we have to clean the baby as much as we need to clean the toys :)

D-Man had a sinus headache today, so he spent more of his time with Miss Michelle. Helping out in the shade and finding little treasures in the grass. It's just the beginning of the heat... what will we do when the worst comes in the middle of the summer. Water, Water, Water!!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Beginning of Lasts...

The school year is ending, the lasts are beginning. How sad it is. Today is my Little Miss M's last day. We had our Graduation/Spring Program last night, tears were shed, DVD's watched, and the kids did a wonderful job singing and performing. I try to make sure not to have a last day fall on the day of our program, I don't want a rushed goodbye.

So today I got about a bazillion hugs and kisses from Little Miss M. I told her the story of her first day and week here. It is a story I love to tell because her Daddy, who loves her so much and got to spend a lot of those first months with her, brought her to daycare to her get acclimated, for a week. :) Ok, it wasn't a whole week, but it was a few days. We were glad to have him, and see the bond he shares with Little Miss M. I know leaving your baby with someone else has got to be hard, the separation different for everyone.

I then got to get my hands on her. She has always been a spunky little girl, from day one. She would laugh, smile and soak everything in. She loved the kids, she loved people, and she loved coming everyday. I don't think I remember her ever having a day of separation anxiety. Kozy Kids was a second home for her, an extension of her own. I love that I can provide that.

I got to see her first steps, hear her first words.... those are memories I will always cherish.

Little Miss M has grown into such a character. She is smart, lovable, and super silly. She loves cracking jokes, telling silly stories and driving my own boys crazy. She comes in each day and gets right to work, playing with her friends, always stopping for a hug or kiss in between. She loved circle time, singing, and writing. She loved to pretend to be like the big kids and would practice until she got something "right" so she could show all those preschoolers they weren't the only ones who could write their names.

There are so many things I will remember about my time with Little Miss M. Most of all I will remember the love. The love I feel in the hugs, the looks, the smiles.

Little Miss M will go on to a new school next year, one in which I know she will do great at. She has everything she needs to succeed. A great first 3 years, and an absolutely wonderful family that loves her!! I will miss you Little Miss M... more than I could ever put down in words.