Thursday, April 23, 2015

Make Believe Games


I noticed the wheels of  our Little Tikes Explorer Wagon (if it sounds like an SUV, that's because it pretty much is) splitting a couple of weeks ago. I knew I had to order a new wagon, pronto! I also prayed that our old wagon would hold out a little longer while the new delivery arrived, and thank goodness it did. This is the best wagon to use if you are running a daycare in an apartment building. It's not cheap though. They are roughly $200, and they aren't particularly easy to assemble (not if there is a hammer and drill involved). But they are very good, solid wagons. The last one lasted me about 5 years, and keep in mind I was using it almost every single day, in all types of weather, and putting far too much weight into it (Noah and his buddies still like to load into it at times!) Anyway, all this leads to my main point here: we got a huge cardboard box to play with!


We used it as a car and a space ship. The kids performed puppet shows too. But most of all, we used it to play restaurant, which is one of their all-time favourite games. In the photo below, Leila patiently waits for her plastic meal to be served.


Here is our fashionista, Maryam. She is constantly trying on everyone's shoes, pants, and more recently, hats (she likes to accomplish more difficult feats before the simple ones).



We got the tents out this week.


Marcus enjoyed throwing all of the balls out of the holes in the tent....


And Maryam enjoyed putting them back in!


And here are some sneak peaks from the inside.


I love how you can see both Maryam and Marcus at the very end of the tunnel, in the photo below.


We did a paint activity this week.  I think the babies are very much ready for finger painting now. Even though there is also a lot of paint on Marcus, I could see that he was enjoying moving the paint around on his tray, and neither of the babes even attempted to eat it. Oh, what a glorious age when you can judge what is and what is not appropriate to eat! :)


This wild man was more into body painting!


The kids are ALWAYS playing make-believe. One of their favourite make-believe games (yes, even higher on the list than "restaurant") is to pretend to travel. It is usually by car that they travel, but sometimes we get Noah and Leila's little suitcases out and they pretend to go on an airplane. (Yet sometimes they forget to take a plane, like earlier this week when I heard Leila repeatedly asking, "Thomas, you want to walk our babies to Israel?")


I took these photos after Dea said, "Look me Cha!" (Look at me, Char.) There are so many things to show me during the course of the day, and this includes hugging the  suitcase handle! She is becoming more adorable by the day, I swear!


Speaking of adorable, I could barely restrain my gushing adoration when Thomas put on some pretend glasses that he brought from home. Omg, he looked like little Ralfie from "A Christmas Story".


And he just seemed so comfortable in them! He always loves his costumery. And I always tell him what a good actor he is (though this is usually more for something like when he throws himself down if someone slightly brushes past him while he is feeling grumpy.) He really is a highly intelligent and creative kid. But really, they all are in their own ways!



The departures area at Pearson can sometimes feel this disorderly and chaotic, so they are bang on, don't ya think?



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

If We Really Value Children....

...a happier society will follow. These children grow up. When they are adults they will have more power and opportunity (good and bad) in society. What will they do with this power? With this opportunity? Human perfection is not an option, and I've given up my idealism years ago. But there is still so much more we could do. This blog post is very general and simplistic, but in light of the conversations I'm over-hearing regarding the teacher's strike, I feel impassioned to write something.

If our society really values children:
  • We will start by respecting child-rearing, more. Sure, we all know the cliche "Children are our future", and we all say quality child care is important, but are we prepared to work towards it? And if you see a stay-at-home mom or dad, do you automatically think they are being lazy by not going out into the work force? I would love to see equal respect shown to those who work outside and inside the home. 
  • We will offer more support to parents, both immediately after child birth, and in the years that follow. Raising children is rocket-science, and, since we are talking about how actual human lives are affected, there should be more resources available. And I'm not talking about googling information. I'm talking about being able to, as a parent, discuss particularly difficult behaviours in children, and our own reactions to them, with child experts, and perhaps with other parents in a group. Without judgment. Without guilt.
  • We will pay child-care workers and teachers more fairly. It is not right that teachers and child care workers get paid far less than many other professions when the work is intense....and extremely important for the future generation. Please don't see this as whining though. I'm doing fine. And many people who sincerely love to work with children will do it for low pay. We see the value in our work. We don't need all of society to realize this. But in light of some recent conversations involving teacher-bashing, I feel that someone has to stand up for this group. We respect your careers. Please respect ours. This respect involves not belittling our jobs because we work with little people. (See above, regarding how these little people grow into big people.) And this respect involves wages which reflect the importance we place on child care and education. (And yes, we ALL know that there are some bad teachers out there. That there are some bad child-care providers out there. That is no excuse to act as if this work is not crucially important to our future society.)
  • We will completely appreciate that multiple intelligence is where it's at. While teaching the 3 R's is a must, working with children's strengths is also important. I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a far greater need for social intelligence than for academic intelligence in our world today. There is a great imbalance, and I believe it is linked to the value we place on academics, over all other types. If we want to live in a world where everyone respects each other's differences, let's start walking the walk at the elementary level.
  • We will stop the educational cuts. It really breaks my heart to see these funding cuts in the school system again and again. I remember when Noah finished SK, his Kindergarten teacher told me that she would have 30 students the next year, with no educational assistant. Now this is what I mean by disrespect to the profession. I mean, is that even humane? But, pushing that aside, lets look at the more important impact here: the students get less. And this is why it saddens me when I hear teacher-bashing. What super powers are you expecting teachers to have? And to the government: Are you really that naive to think that "everyone will be fine"? I am just flabbergasted. It is a cruel, cold act. And if you think deeper about it, you will see that I'm not overreacting. We won't get back these years.
If we value children, we value their potential. We value humankind. We value life.




#torontoeducation #childcare #daycare #teachers #TDSB #OSSTF #PDSB #children #educationcuts #futuresociety #qualityoflife #childhood

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring!


I tried to get a good picture of the group today. It was extremely difficult, as you can imagine. Someone was always looking the wrong way. Thomas had very important things to say. And none of them would stop eating! lol Seriously, these kids eat A LOT! And please excuse my language, but I have to say it: Marcus looks so badass! Don't mess with this little guy. I even feel a little intimidated looking at this pic. He's really staring me down! :)


Okay, that's friendlier, Marcus. :)


It was a beautiful day to play in High Park today.


I am so impressed with the 3 bigger kids on the play structures. It's like night and day from last year! Amadea especially wowed me today. She inspired Thomas and Leila to try the biggest twirly slide on their own. That is a first!


Then she moseyed over to the sand box and made perfect sand castles all by herself, as if she'd been doing it for years! When kids gain new skills, it seems so sudden, like it has happened overnight.


Amadea has gained a lot more confidence in recent months. And throughout the day, she'll get my attention by saying "Watch me, Char", or "Look me Char!" I told her one of my favourite things to see her do is jumping. She's like a little bunny, hopping along! I adore her. She is the sweetest little thing!


Look at this little adventurer! Maryam tackled these stairs with ease, and for the most part, preferred to then go down the stairs on the other side, rather than the slide.


She did love going down the slide too though. All the slides seemed pretty slow going, so I was okay with her doing her "extreme sport" thing, which in this scenario, at one point, involved her surfing head first, on her tummy, down the slide. (Disclaimer: she was "spotted" the whole time. My old cheerleading days have really come in handy with this!)


And here's Tommy just racing through the park.


I managed to get him to stop a moment for a photo. But it had to be a silly face photo. Love it!


Who are these old fogies? Oh wait. It's Thomas and Leila!


Yep. Ma and Pa playing some old time music. :)


I bought Leila a few hats for the summer. It's the cutest thing to see her in them! She's got a lot going on in this photo, but then, such is the nature of their pretend play. There are dollies in baskets, dollies in backpacks, hats, sunglasses, swords, food - you name it. If there's a way they can carry it, they will lug it around!



Noah learned to balance on a bike this week! This is VERY exciting news!



And little sis is getting very good on her tricycle!


Spring is finally here. Yippee!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Young Musical Talent


I was speaking in an earlier post about Marcus's expert ability on the drums at 14 months.


But don't take my word for it. See for yourself!



Isn't he amazing? He's just so comfortable sitting on the little stool and playing his heart out. What a little expert!

By the way, just as an aside, this was the row of babies Leila was setting up. Yes, we have accumulated far too many dollies, but we can safely say that we will NEVER have a shortage at this daycare!


We have others who are learning the drums. On Leila's birthday, the kids took turns playing the drums while the others sat in the audience. It was adorable.



Noah has just started private singing lessons (his choice). He has been singing pretty much constantly, his whole life. He creates his own songs, and organizes them into different CD's in his mind. My favourite of his CD's is "The Leila CD". They are VERY good, catchy songs! Leila loves all his songs as well, and is definitely his back-up singer. Here they are singing in the back seat of our rental car in Israel last March (2014). Noah wrote this song in Israel, and they still sing it to this day!



Noah wrote this just after Leila learned to (finally) walk, at 23 months. Here are the Lyrics, in case you'd like to sing along too.. :)

Pretty little girl in a pretty little dress
Walking around in a pretty little dress
No one knows why she's walking sooooo
And she's walking now, yeah!
And she's walking now

Amadea has recently been singing a lot, and you already know about Maryam's savant musical abilities. Thomas is a very established, confident singer, like Noah. I will try to capture some of the others' musical ability. It's hard to capture everything, though I know you'd admit I come pretty darn close! Haha! Have a rocking weekend, all!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Little Leila Ballerina



I have to post about one of the most heart-warming things I have ever witnessed: Leila's first ballet class last weekend!


Actually, it was her first class of any sort on her own. We had only done Guardian Swim together last fall, so I wasn't sure if she would be super clingy or brave and excited. I was delighted to see that she was more or less the latter!


She was a little shy at first. She stood apart from the group, and watched the other students follow the teacher's directions. Every so often, she would wave at Noah and I and quietly say, "Hi".


Eventually, the girl next to her had a conversation with her. Although I wasn't close enough to hear it, it was pretty obvious that the girl was inquiring why Leila wasn't participating, and also encouraging her to do so.


Leila slowly started to come around.


I was in tears laughing at how endearing it all was.  The little girl who had been encouraging Leila earlier tried to make her feel even more accepted. At first, as you see in the video below, Leila is still a little shy. Still, it feels good to make a friend in such a new environment.



Isn't this the cutest thing?



She looks hesitant and excited at the same time. I was thrilled to be able to see her first class. It made my heart incredibly happy. I just had Noah with me, and neither of us could stop laughing at how cute they all were! Next week they boot all the parents out of the room so they can work towards their final show. As you can imagine, I cannot wait!!


I am excited for her to try all sorts of sports and activities in the future, and to find out which ones she likes best. (I think she wants to try soccer next.) For now, I will enjoy seeing her little spirit expressed through ballet. And what a wonderful little spirit she is!



Signed,
Proud Mama

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter, Etc.



I hope everyone had a happy Easter!


I gotta start this blog off right, by showcasing the beautiful eggs the kids painted, dyed, and decorated, and the paper egg decorations as well!


We ended up dyeing or painting eggs a total of three different times; an all-time daycare record! We did it first on the March Break because Noah was home to enjoy it. Still, Thomas was on vacation that week, so we had to do it with Thomas again the next week (while Noah was at school). Finally we had to do it one more time after the ONLY pink coloured egg that Thomas had dyed broke (when he was trying to decorate it with stickers). Good thing I had back-up dye packages given to my kids from my mom!


 Actually, the picture below was taken the morning of the Easter party. This was also the morning of our emergency egg-dyeing session. Funny though, when Thomas arrived, he didn't care as much about that broken egg as he had the day before, and opted out of the activity. (This gives me a good little chuckle. Isn't that always the way? Still, better safe than sorry, I say!)


Noah had a great time playing an Easter themed bunny game I had picked up from Dollarama. I used to have a peg game like this when I was a kid (though it didn't involve bunnies), and I loved it too. It's a one person strategy game where you try to end up with as few pegs as possible, one being the best.


Some of the kids also played an Easter memory game. Easy and fun for the little ones!



We even did some bunny bowling outside. I came back inside about half an hour early, with the two babies, while my helper and another parent watched the rest of the gang outside. That's when I played Easter Bunny, and hid the eggs for our big Easter Egg hunt!


I only hide the plastic eggs for the kids; nothing inside. (Although when the Easter Bunny himself visits on Easter Sunday, that's a different story!) For the big gang, there is already enough competition for the eggs. It really helps to decrease the competitive spirit when there's no chocolate inside. It's more about the fun of the find!


Noah's friends Salim and B. joined us. Yes, Noah stayed home from school on this day too! (Although, I think this is the last year I would do that, since the big guys were so speedy, they almost need a separate, more complicated Easter Egg hunt!)


Eggs were hidden everywhere! The kids started in the living room for a bit, but quickly moved on to Leila's room. Even though it had only been a couple of minutes, it was apparent that the big kids were taking over the hunt. They were just so good! So fast!


I finally had to explicitly say to the big guys, "No more eggs for you. You have enough. Help the little guys by giving them hints."


They were totally cool with that. :) (Like I said before, if chocolate had been involved, I'm not sure they would have been as compliant!)



Marcus and Maryam just went about their normal ways, playing with their favourite toys, and wondering what all the commotion was about!


Oh - which reminds me of another great reason not to have chocolate eggs around for a home daycare Easter Egg hunt: they're a choking hazard. I'd rather not use my CPR skills as part of this festive occasion. Maryam and Marcus, even in the weeks before, enjoyed playing with the plastic eggs. Maryam in particular liked putting them into, and taking them out of an egg carton. So they're safe for everyone! (Caveat: until they're stepped on.)


Glee! Amadea found an egg in Marcus's high chair!



Ahhhhh.....time to take a load off after the pandemonium. :)


We had a healthy, tasty lunch of cheese sandwiches and cucumber, and some not so healthy treats.


As with Leila's birthday party, the babies weren't given any food treats. They were happy with their bunny plates and napkins, and their regular menu.


I made up these little boxes of Easter jelly beans. There were plenty for each kid to try a few, and later take home and share with their families (and I encouraged them to do so).




It was a delightful Easter lunch!



In the afternoon the little guys napped, while the big guys watched a movie together. Later in the afternoon, there was another opportunity for children to do Easter crafts, if they wished to do so.


Thomas and Salim were game. I had Easter-y stickers, but Salim specifically requested Star Wars stickers for this egg, and luckily I managed to find some! He also made sure to decorate an egg for his older brother. He's so sweet like this. Whenever he comes for a play date and I give him a snack, he requests extra so that he can bring some back to his brother.


The Easter party wouldn't be complete without Pin the Tail on the Bunny! I can't remember who won, but I do remember there were no tears. Phew!


The following pictures make up the "etcetera" part of this post.


We are now getting some warmer, spring-like days here and there, and we are relishing them!


I'm excited for Maryam and Marcus to ditch their snowsuits, on a regular basis. It will be so fun for them to crawl around and explore more. Baby snowsuits make this pretty impossible.




Maryam didn't crawl around much on this day. She was too busy playing with the sand! I was amazed that she was not trying to eat the sand, as most kids her age do. Marcus was asleep in the swing, so we'll see his response to sand in the weeks to come. Noah devoured sand until he was about 2.5 years old. :) (And NO, he did NOT have Pica!)



Here is Leila sporting her new Puma tracksuit she got from her Oma and Opa for her birthday. I just adore it!



And here is a sunshine of a girl, enjoying some sunshine itself!


Amadea and Leila were determined to pull one of the wagons for the last stretch of the way home.


Sweetness. :)