Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DIY Christmas Cards

One thing I've never been very fond of, or more to the truthful point, very good at is sending out Christmas cards.  Oh, I have wonderful lofty idea's and plans to send out scads of cards each year.  I buy them, address them, and set them aside waiting to be stamped.   However, once they have been set aside there they stay. 

The same lofty idea entered my mind a couple of weeks ago and off my thoughts wandered to all the people I would need to send them to.  Fortunately, this is one of those times when being tight financially came in handy - it stopped me from buying a whole stack of more cards that may very likely end up in a waiting to be mailed pile again.

Instead, I went to my craft cupboard in my laundry room and took out a box I know I had put previous Christmas cards into.  Imagine my embarrassment to see cards dated as far back as 2008 that were waiting to be sent.

So, being the imaginative and crafty type of person I am I set out on a new adventure in Christmas cards.  DIY projects.  My thought process was two fold:
1. I really don't have the money to spend on another stack of cards that will become another one of my good intentions. 
2. If I make my own cards for friends and family I can personalize them to their specific tastes AND I'll be more likely to get them out due to all the work put into them.  Smart eh?

I also had a bunch of old cards that I have received over the years that I have since taken the pictures off of, or kept the sayings of the ones I liked to use for crafts that the kids might like. 

I went one step further and found my bags of gift bags that have been sitting around for far too long that I just can't seem to part with.  Some of those came in handy to cut and use as well.

This combined with my scrapbooking papers and any other craft materials I had on hand, my adventure in DIY Christmas Cards began.

Below is a sampling of 2 that I have started.  Two completely different styles, but both very effective and specific.  I already have in mind who they will be for.  (I've also included the inside of the more country styled one.)

The top one is a combination of old cards, card stock paper and scrapbooking paper.  Each piece of the "quilt" is different pieces of the scrapbooking paper.  The "seam" is actually one of those pages too, I just cut that out of the rest of the paper.

The bottom one is a combination of the frame of a wedding card actually, card stock, ribbon and the bell is taken off of one of the gift bags.  I'm thinking of adding another one to the opposite corner.
It might seem like a lot of work, but that's ok.  That's the beauty of it.  You may not have a lot of money to do all those things you might normally wish to do for gifts.  Personalize a card, put your heart in it and it's amazing what will turn out.
I'd love to see any card or other craft idea's you have for Christmas.  I'm always looking for new idea's, especially ones I can do with the kids.  These I will be showing to my older daycare kids tomorrow who, will most likely want to start doing one of their own right away.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Every job has with it the ups and downs. Sometimes more ups, often more downs. Of course a lot of it has to do with how we look at things. Our opinions or perspectives lend a lot to our attitudes when it comes to our work.

To some their job or work defines who they are. To others it's simply a means to an end - and the end is usually bills!!!

I've thought about this more intently lately in a sort of re-evaluation of what I do. I've asked myself some very hard questions to see if I was indeed meant to do this particular line of work as a daycare provider.

1. Do I do this job just for a paycheck?
2. Do I do this job just because it's easier than going out to a job every day?
3. Do I do this job because it's convenient?
4. Do I do this job because I want to invest in the lives of the children and their families in my care?

In the beginning, it was a combination of questions 1, 2 and 3. Our situation at the time made me working out of the house quite difficult, plus my youngest was not in school, my oldest was every other day at school and paying for daycare myself was just too much. Seeing as I had done my fair share of babysitting from the time I was 12 - as a babysitter for my multiple nieces and nephews as well as some of their nannies for a period of time, and a part time after school job at a daycare - it seemed like the natural way to go. And with the help of a friend who had been doing this for a few years herself, I was well on my way to starting a new chapter in my life.

As of late, my answer has changed. Questions 1, 2 and 3 still play a part, but not the biggest part anymore.

And the reason is really quite simple when I examined it...Family.

This past spring and summer I was blessed to have a brother and sister addition to the kids I already took care of. (I have 2 older, part time girls that have been with me since the beginning that I will elaborate on soon.) I knew our time together wouldn't be very long as the little girl would be going to school full time in the fall. The little boy I was to have a few months longer until mom went on maternity leave again. Well, the mom ended up getting a blessing from a family member to watch her son for her last three months before maternity leave for free. Who could turn that down??? So, the little boys time with me was cut short.

On the sisters last day with me, she cried so hard it took everything I had not to cry in return. The week leading up to her final day she was continually hugging me and telling me she loved me. Three days later, I had to say goodbye to her brother.

It hit me then how important these families were to me. Being with children just seemed so natural that I didn't really think (consciously) of our impact on each other. It occurred to me in that moment how easily they seemed to become like an extension of my family.

It occurred to me again with the other girls that I mentioned prior. Mom had to have surgery, so therefore the girls were not with me for awhile. The evening before their first morning back with me they stopped by. As the oldest came up and gave me a big hug, I realized how much I had missed them. My oldest was still awake and when he saw her he came running to giver her a hug as well.

The girls have always said my boys were like the brothers they never had and in turn they were the sisters my boys never had. It was always said as sort of a joke, but in that moment I realized how true the statement was.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes they fight like family too!!!

It's not just the kids either. I am so privileged to be accepted into the lives of the parents as well. The amount of trust placed on me by them to take care of their most prized treasures is nothing short of amazing. And it makes me want to do the best I can for all of them.

I've also been more aware of the blessing they all are to me. I'm often gifted with cards, pictures and home made presents. I'm invited to games, and concerts and regaled with funny stories.   Every day that I get a warm greeting from a parent, or understanding when I have to explain a possible mishap I am again aware of how welcomed I have been made to feel.

Family can be made in any job that we have, if we'll let it.  I can only hope that in whatever your line of work, you are as blessed as me to feel the extension of family all around.

Monday, July 30, 2012

That Cloud Looks Like...

The more time I spend as a child care provider, the more reasons I have to like my job.  Yes, it's tiring, often daunting and definately challenging.  Any job is.  But as I've taken more time lately to see all the good points, I'm delighted that the list keeps growing.

The other day boasted beautiful sun without too much heat.  I grabbed the blanket off the back of my couch, found the shadiest part in my front yard and layed back with the kids.  The sky was full of large fluffy clouds moving slowly across a blue background.  We each took turns telling what the clouds looked like to us.  My older son saw a dragon breathing fire.  My younger son saw the shell of a turtle.  The one little girl saw a princess (no surprise there!) and I saw a pirate ship.  An older couple with their grandchildren were walking by and almost stopped to join us!!!

One thing I regret is not taking more pictures of the things we have made.  It was the thought to post each day with the title "What I Did At Work Today".  I guess I could start that anytime right?  Great!

Of course, a lot of it right now has to do with the fact that I have a great bunch of kids and parents that I work with.  That always makes things much more pleasant.  I am very grateful for all of them and what they teach me in return.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  I sometimes think we learn more from our kids than they learn from us.  Being with them is so grounding and focused on the things that matter.  Kids are awesome!

Well, if you'll excuse me, it's story time.  We are going to take the blanket back outside and take turns telling stories.  I will read from some books, but more fun than that will be when the kids each get a turn "reading" to us.  I love their imaginations as they depict a story from the pictures they see.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a good day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Birthday Blues and Bells

I am a big fan of birthdays. Yes, even my own. The way I see it, I have earned each year and I think it only right to celebrate all the accomplishments, the joys, the tears, even the mistakes that I have learned from.

This is even truer for my kids. It’s the day that I get to remember the best days of my life…they day God gifted me and my husband with our wonderful boys.

This year I wasn’t on the ball when it came to my older son’s birthday. It happened to fall during one of the weeks of winter holidays so everyone he invited was away. Try to explain to an almost 6 year old why none of his friends want to come to his party. Fortunately my son is pretty mature for his age, and when he listened to my mistake and our plan to fix it, he perked right up.

Now, all I had to do was come up with that plan to fix it!!!  And on an after-Christmas budget no less.

I checked around to see what kind of birthday packages I could find. May I just say while I understand the convenience of having a party outside of the house – no muss, no fuss – some of the prices are, well, insane!!! But they did prove to give me some inspiration if nothing else.

One of the things we looked into was a movie theatre party. Since my son loves to watch movies, especially on the big screen I thought why not have an in house movie theatre experience. With the loan of a projector from a friend, a few big white sheets put up in our window (with our curtains to act as the outline, much like that in a real theatre), we were on our way. With the purchase of a hot air pop corn popper, and the re-arranging of the furniture to resemble rows of seating, we had it, our very own movie theatre. Oh, and of course, a new released dvd from our local video store. It was great. We dimmed the lights and everyone sat and watched on our “big screen”.

After the movie, we played a game. A sort of pick your own loot bag idea. For the boys we got Mighty Beanz cases (that we bought from the dollar store as oppose to paying $15 each at a larger named establishment) and a bunch of Might Beanz. For the girls we bought fuzzy pencil cases, lip balms, girly rings and Princess stamps (also from the dollar store). One item each was carefully placed inside of a balloon – blue for the boys, pink for the girls – and hooked up to our room divider with paperclips. They stood behind our makeshift line, and threw a dart at the balloons. Whatever feel out, they got to keep. This worked well until the dart started bouncing off of the balloons. So, we just had the kids walk up to the remaining balloons and stick the dart in it.

My son invited some of his friends (the boys) to sleep over and they stayed up for a bit more playing video games on our big screen. All in all, a pretty successful party.

Of course, we had a bunch of brilliant ideas strike us after the fact. But, my son’s birthday blues turned into birthday bells. He went to bed that night quite content, which always makes a mommy and daddy happy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Imagination is Not Dead!!!!

This is just another of the reason's why I love my daycare kids.  Their imagination.

Winter school holidays tend to drag on and on.  Especially when activities can get boring.  Not so with my dc kids.

It is one of the perks of having some older kids in my care...they have their times of wanting to be the leader.  Not in a bossy way, but in a "don't worry Viv, I've got it covered for the next little bit" type of way.  So I sit on the sideline, usually as either a referee, or as part of the game, and get entertained.

I have an exercise bike in my living room that has been miraculously turned into the drivers seat of a bus.  Put 4 to 5 of my dining room chairs in a line behind it, and viola, you have a bus.  Along the way, they make stops in the living room, kitchen or my boys bedrooms while they shop, go to work, or go home depending on the time of day in their game of pretend. 

After the bus game is over, the chairs are moved into a front and back seat of a van while everyone drives home.  That is my living room which has been taken over by a cot, a kids size fold out mattress, my couch and love seat.  The older girls are the mom's, my 2 boys and niece (who had come for a visit simply because the girls would be here and she loves to spend time with them) were the kids.  Or the pets, depending on their mood. 

I wish I could record the conversations they have, to remember them in years to come.  I am just glad they all get along so well, and find ways to have fun together.

Today, imagination won the day again.  We brought out boxes of my craft supplies, and they just went to town at the table.  A wide spectrum of idea's from 4 years to 10 years old.  And to my delight they actually worked together without a fight to clean up. 

Tonight, I sit down with a friend and plan for the next days I have them here, or for the summer.  But I have no doubt, they will throw in their own creative idea's, and my plans may just have to wait.  I'm ok with that.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bargain Buy's

Everyone likes a good deal.  But even better than the good,  is the AMAZING deal.

To the chagrin of some, and the complete understanding of others, I do a lot of my shopping at Walmart.  Think what you want, I have to do whatever is cheapest most of the time. 

Another favorite of mine is of course, the dollar store.  Here is the place where I buy the every day things like lightbulbs, papertowel, and candy because it is usually much cheaper for these basics.

Never did I ever expect that the dollarstore would so completely outdo Walmart that it was so note worthy.

In one of our many trips down the toy isle at Walmart my husband picked up these toys (I'm not sure what they are called) that he said we could get for $2 at the dollarstore.  Keep in mind the price difference was, well, insane, so I seriously thought he had to be joking.  So I suggested we head there next to see if they had any of these left and pick them up now for Christmas presents.

Well, let me just put it like this...we saved over $40!!!


In addition to that, we bought some Star Wars something or other (again, not sure exactly as I am not up on all the toys like my husband is) at Giant Tiger for $15 a piece.  At both Walmart and Zellers, these exact same toys were priced for $30-35 a piece. 

So the grand total of my savings so far have been over $70.

That's not to say that I won't continue to shop at Walmart.  But just keep in mind that if you don't mind doing the looking, the bargains are there to be found.

If you have found any great deals like this, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Friday, September 9, 2011

First Day Jitters - for Mommy!!!

I sat with my youngest son in his JK class yesterday for his initial visit with his teacher and other classmates.  Another one of those bittersweet moments as I watched him sit attentively listening to his new teacher read them a story. 

As he moved from one centre to another, I sat with the other mothers (and 1 father), all of us not talking to each other but instead watching our little ones explore.  And I thought to myself, if all of the thoughts and questions in this room were inferred lights, not even the most talented of gymnasts could maneuver their way between those lights.  At least not if any of them were thinking what I was thinking. 

A necessary step in the progress of his life, but a saddening one for this mommy.  To me he is still such a baby and I have already shed some tears over it. 
I wondered how easily he would adjust.  Did I do my part well enough to prepare him for this?  Will he fuss and cry the first time I leave him there by himself?  Will his attention be focused enough to learn?  How often will he leave having to go to the bathroom until the last minute resulting in his spare clothes needing to be used?  

Just too many thoughts in the matter of seconds to write down.

Once again, it seems more like a moment of growth for the mother unit as oppose to the child.  Seems we learn more having children then when we were kids.  At least that's how it feels.

So, today I start a new chapter in my children at home with me during the day.  The up side?? Getting things done that have needed attention for awhile.   I will stop whinning

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bittersweet Life Moments

It's back to school time again...a parents favorite time of year.

Most parents anyway.

See, I am not a normal parent I guess.  I am so not looking forward to back to school.  As strange as it sounds, I like having my boys around.  It shouldn't sound strange, parents SHOULD like having their children around. 

I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that my youngest is starting school this year and it feels bittersweet.  It's the natural course of his life, and I am so proud to see him growing and advancing like he should.  But it's also one more step that takes him away from the little boy that got to stay home and have some time with just me. 

Only one year seperates my boys in school.  My eldest is looking forward to being the big brother that gets to help his little brother navigate through JK.  He already has JK under his belt, so he's a pro 

I know it will become natural, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.  Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to getting certain things done around the house that is just too difficult with someone needing or wanting me nearly every second.  But it will be too quiet at times. 

It's just that they are only this little for such a short period of time.  And each year that time seems to speed up.

Hmmm... seems like mommy is going to have a harder time adjusting than the kids. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pillow Smashing and Other Such Games

It has been a phenomenon since who knows when: children will always play with the boxes or packaging of the toys they get rather than the toys themselves.  We spend all this money on interactive, learning, or interest of the moment toys only to turn around and see them sitting in the box like it's a car or train. 

Just as interesting are the home made games that we play as oppose to spending money at a kids play place.  We have such games, and my kids (my own and daycare kids alike) LOVE these games and ask for them almost more than anything else.

One of their very favorites is what we call Pillow Smashing.  Sounds brutal doesn't it?  Well, I assure you it's not.  Our kids climb up on our king size bed and mommy and daddy stand on either side of the bed, a pillow in each hand.  One of the boys run at us and we "smash" the pillow on either side of them, then knock them over onto the bed.  Of course we are not rough when we do this and make sure they fall onto another pile of pillows so they won't get hurt.

Second on their favorite list is "Monster Chase".  It amazes me that the simplicity of it makes them smile so much.  Simply, I chase them around the house growling like a monster.  When they are not looking I hide somewhere until one of them is brave enough to venture out to find me.  Then I jump out from my hiding spot, loud like a monster and they all scream, laugh and run away. 

My daycare kids love these games too.  For the "Pillow Smashing" game we've had to adapt it for the living room.  We take all of the stuffed animals and pillows we can find and lay them all over the floor.  Then they run at me and, well, it's pretty much the same from this point on.

And to this day, Hide and Seek, Tag and Red Rover are still all favorites. 

With a little imagination, almost anything can be turned into a game.  I'd love to hear from you what sort of home made fun you and your kids do.  Or even if it was things you played when you were a kids.  Share the fun.  I'll report back after I try it with my kids.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Celebrating the Last's

First steps, first words, first smile, first time they call you "mama".  We love to celebrate the firsts in our children's lives.  They are usually monumental at least in our minds.  The firsts represent new beginnings, new accomplishments,  new hopes, new dreams.

But what about the lasts?

The last day that they crawled because they took their first step. 

The last day the nursed because they were able to drink from a bottle.

The last time you had put on their socks, clothes, shoes because "I can do it myself mom".

These lasts in their lives seem to represent the independence that we wish for them and know they need to develop into.  The independence we secretly wish didn't come so quickly. 

My youngest is accomplishing a last in his 3 year old life. Being completely potty trained.  The other day he walked down the hallway without announcing he needed to go potty, did his thing and came back out.  No help from me, just doing what he's been taught and finally doing it himself.  It was the last day he needed me to help in any way.

Lasts for our children tend to be bittersweet.  And we often miss them.

We as parents have our lasts too.  We don't really notice them, but maybe we should. 

The last day we worked at a job that stressed us out.  The last day of being in debt.  The last day of being single. 

Celebrate the first and the lasts.  As they say, what goes up, must come down.  It's true here too, at least in most cases. If there is a first, there usually has to be a last.  Sometimes, yes, it's an unpleasant or sad thing to experience a last.  But life is what you make of it, the good, the bad, the ugly or the unfair.  Celebrate new beginnings, new possibilities.

Celebrate the first and the last.  They all mean something.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kids Will Make Liars out of You!

This past weekend I went away to my niece and her husbands house. 

It was a test really for my sons to see get familiar with it so that they would stay there one weekend for me to have a day off.  Yes, even mothers are entitled to a day off.  It doesn't mean we always get them mind you, but it shouldn't deter from the fact that we do in fact deserve them.

My oldest I am not the least bit worried about in staying over night somewhere.  He is well conditioned in this area and quite enjoys himself almost anywhere.  I think it's the vivid imagination he has that makes it possible to have fun in almost any setting.

My youngest however, not so much.  As hard as I try he is still very much a mommy's boy.  So this exercise was to let him know that it was okay to stay there without me the next time.

Me, thinking I know my sons very well proceeded to answer my nieces questions about meals, drinks, snacks, things they like to do, etc.  Wouldn't you know that in almost every situation one, if not both of them made a liar out of me? 

Sometimes I wonder if they do it on purpose especially when it happens a few times in a row.  But then I ask myself do they really understand or comprehend what it is to do that?

So, my youngest who told me at the beginning of our little adventure that he didn't even want to go had an all out fit when it was time to leave.  Deep, gut wrenching sobs of how he wanted to stay. 

Again, me thinking I know how he would react asked him, "Ok then, you can stay here while your brother and mommy goes home.  Do you want to stay and live here instead of with me?" You know what I thought he was going to say right?  "No mommy, I want to go home with you."  Yes, because that is what he would normally say.  But oh no, not this weekend.  He nodded his head and told me he didn't want to live with me anymore.
If it hadn't been so comical I may have cried.

Of course, once we got home and he saw daddy the sobs and anguish of an hour ago were quickly forgotten. 

Kids!!! They do keep life interesting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fudge Brownies and Vanilla Ice Cream

I don't usually buy a lot of groceries at once.  Usually I buy a little bit as I can, here and there.  Well, this past week I made it a point to get all I needed for the week to save on a few trips.

With that I was able to do something I've wanted to do for awhile.  I've cooked and frozen enough meals for the week.  I realize some of you reading this may already do that.  So forgive me if my excitement over such a feat seems silly. 

My menu for the week?
Meatloaf - which I am famous for, at least in my house.
Potato and Ham a soup - a new recipe for me, that was awesome.
Butler Hamburger Casserole - it's called "Butler" because it's the combination of a recipe and my own idea's.
Chili - for my hubby.
Turkey Meatballs in sweet and sour sauce - which will be cooked with rice.

It's a strange and comforting thought to just be able to pull out a container, put it in the oven and have it ready for dinner that night.

There are sites I've been told about that help you make a menu for an entire month.  Of course it requires cooking for an one whole weekend.  But could you imagine it?  Dinner's for a month?  I could handle that.  Maybe I should recruit some friends and we could all do this over 2 days.  Any volunteers?

Well, now that  I have it all done but the Chili that is in the slow cooker I am going to settle down with my boys, my favorite dessert and a movie.  Can you guess what my favorite dessert is?  Ten guesses and the first nine don't count.  Ha ha ha!

Have a good rest of your Family Day weekend everyone.  I'll talk to you again soon.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Last Minute Valentine Creativeness

I hate to admit that sometimes I am a bit of a procrastinator. Not always, but when I have a lot on the go something usually ends up getting pushed to the back of my mind until it's nearly forgotten.

Such is the case with Valentines needed for my son's class party. The teacher likes to have them early so as to make distribution easier on the day of the party. That meant they were to be in today!!!

I did think of it 4 days ago.

My mistake?
Not writing it down.

When did I think of it?
Last night at about 9:00.

So, you can guess I went into hyper speed trying to think of something. I remembered that just after Valentine's last year a friend had bought him a book of Valentine cards. I was saved...or so I thought. Turns out they were much more complicated than useful for a class of JK students.

Back to the drawing board!


Off I went in search of my craft supplies. Which I was sad to find out were somewhat depleted. That's ok, I thought, I'm a creative person.

Candies! Yes, candies, I must have something that would work to make a sort of candy gram Valentine. I found suckers, this was my lucky night...again, so I thought. Not nut free!!!! ARG!

Fruit snacks that I had just gotten a big bag of. Welches. They had to be ok to use.

I had the treat, now to find a way to decorate them.

I found a heart cut out, pink computer paper, white computer paper and red felt. Ok, we could work with this.
What came out of this was a pink heart shaped (no kidding right?) holder, decorated with a white heart (with a catchy little phrase "For You A Treat, Because You're Sweet") , and a tiny red felt heart in the middle. A whole punch through the heart holders and the fruit snack bag, a red ribbon and viola, a last minute masterpiece. Ok, maybe masterpiece is too strong a word, but you get the idea.

With the help of my daycare kids, it got done, just in time.
Next time I hope to remember sooner so I can actually get my son to help out. I'm not one to do things for him, but this time it couldn't be helped.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nice to be liked!!!

A couple of weeks ago, one of my daycare children came to me with a picture they had drawn for me. Now, you have to understand that I get about a dozen pictures a day when I see this particular child and sibling. So to mention a particular drawing is of special interest.
It was a picture of me, which is not so common with them. One major point that stood out to me was the fact that my eyes were blue. My eyes are brown. But to each his own, lol. What stood out the most was the caption that was written:
"Vivian. Favorite babysitter ever because she is..." (I had to turn it over because she had run out of room on the front), "she is pretty and active with us!!"
When I asked what the active with us was all about, she said it was because I play games with them, take them sledding in the winter, that sort of thing. It's important to mention that they have been in daycare for the better part of their lives, so I took this as quite a compliment.
It actually made me want to cry. To know that what I do does matter to them. I hope it stays that way for the duration of having them in my care.