How to Work with your Heart

How to work with your heart

Love notes in my heart.

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel like just packing up your car, driving away and never coming back? I think we have all had one where our heart feels that way at least once in our lives. It’s natural to get frustrated sometimes and want to take a break.

I have a drawer full of blessings. You’d be amazed at what it means to me. When you are a provider, the days can be long and hard. It’s not a job everyone can do and I take pride in doing it as well as I possibly can. I am not perfect, far from it, but I have a passion that burns in me for giving kids the best of me.

blessing counts

Over the years, I have been so fortunate to have people come into my life that know and see the value in it. People want the best environment they can possibly get for their kids and they know when someone puts their heart and soul into caring for children.

When I have a bad day, or feel like giving up on what I do (which is not often at all lately), I open my blessing drawer and fish out a few notes from these people who have loved me over the past 21 years I have served.

I find notes like this one …

childcare is a blessing

Or this one…

blessings of love from children

And they remind me why I do what I do.

Childcare is a super hard job and has a really high burnout rate, but you can do things to make you keep wanting to come back and try again after a bad day. Please remember if every day is a bad day, it may just be time for a change in careers. You should enjoy what you are doing most of the time. If you are miserable, so is everyone else you are working with. It’s time to go.

Click here to see how to avoid burnout by taking care of yourself.

Click here to see how to deal with stress so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

I enjoy the feeling of a family’s love for me. I let it rejuvenate me. I let it recharge my battery. These things do not cost a lot of money or take a lot of time for a parent or child to make, but they are precious because of the meaning behind them. They mean the world to me. I appreciate each and every one.

affirmations for childcare

I keep the pictures children draw or color for me, I keep the cards people take the time to write something special in, and I keep the notes I receive that bless my heart. Even 20 years later, those same pieces of paper can still bless my heart.

parent blessings in childcare

 

I was looking through my blessing drawer to write this post, and I found a very special letter from my Mother in law who passed away about a year ago that told how much she appreciated the mother I was to my daughter and the blessing I was to her son and their family. She wrote me stuff like this often. She loved me dearly and I loved her. I miss how proud she was of me. I miss her kind words and prayers. My love drawer has notes from my family as well.

Back to the daycare. I LOVE doing childcare. I am very gifted at it, and I love trying to be the best I can be at whatever I do. Childcare is so important. Did you know children learn over 50% of what they will learn in their entire lifetime by the age of 4? From birth to three, there are some incredible connections forming in the brains of young children that need to be stimulated. The more sensory stimuli (sight, smell, feel, taste, sound) a child receives, the more plastic or flexible their learning paths remain which allows for even more learning later on.

Every stimuli a child experiences fires a pulse in their brain that reaches out to find another piece of pathway to connect with to form learning. Those pathways, if not used, then prune themselves from the brain as the child gets older. So learning is critical for children and they need to be exposed to all kinds of information to process. The best way they can learn is by unstructured play. Exploring their own ideas.

I KNOW how important early childhood is and I hope everyone who reads this will bombard everyone who will listen about this importance until we refocus our attention in our governments, childcares and schools to getting our funding into education! Call your representatives and bend their ear to stop cutting education and start building it any way they can! Our state’s future depends on it and so does our country’s.

Back to my drawer of blessings. This thing is chock full of so many wonderful memories, people, and expressions of love for me. It’s so amazing to flip through the pages it contains and feel the love that is poured out in the words and pictures in there. I love reminiscing about the people who have given them to me. I love running into people and knowing they still love me even if they have been gone for years.

blessings of love from daycare parents

There is a teenage boy I see regularly that even now, when he’s about to graduate from high school and become a man, his face still lights up when he sees me. It does a person’s heart good to feel love like this. These kids mean the world to me even when they are no longer kids. I love them fiercely. They know it, and they still feel it even when their attention in on all the other things in the world.

I have seen children graduate right and left over the past few years, and I even had my first child ask me to keep his son. It’s been an amazingly blessed 21 years and I hope I have a lot more years left in me. I can certainly tell as I age, how much harder the job gets every year. I tire more easily, I forget more things, and I wonder if I have 10 more years, or another 21…  I do know one thing, God has great plans for blessings in my life in the future, just as He has in the past.

childcare blessings

My drawer is stuffed full and there are so many kind words and pictures in there, I couldn’t take the time to read through all of them to share with you. These are a few really fun ones, but certainly I have many more favorites. I love them all. This one is super cute that says, thanks for taking care of me when I was a child. This kid was probably 5 or 6 when he wrote this, ha ha, but he felt grown. So cute.

focus on your blessings

Make sure you keep a blessing drawer where you can find comfort and rejuvenation when you are down or having a tough day. When you see it begin to add up over time, you will be blessed by the volume of it. If you aren’t receiving notes of affirmation, I’m sorry. You should be. Are you writing kind notes to your parents? Are you doing your very best job? If so, it’s a shame that people don’t appreciate your efforts, but keep on keeping on because your kids deserve the best of you and they are worth it.I know God created me to love children and support families as they raise them. I know He has blessed me for every sacrifice I have ever made to do this for a living. I know He has helped me by sending me families that would be a blessing to me. I know I am smack in the center of His will. And I know I am blessed.

letters of love for childcare

Do you love your job? Can you imagine doing anything else? I know I sure can’t. This is my heart and soul. On days when you feel like giving up, look for the blessings in your life and you’ll be amazed at how it turns your heart around. Your attitude can make or break your life and you NEED to look for good in things, for your own wellbeing. Tell me how you are blessed, I want to hear all about it!

 

How to Grow your Own Wheat

How to Grow your Own Wheat

You wouldn’t believe what wheat means to me. I can’t tell you the memories I have of planting it, harvesting, taking it to the elevator for sale, and any number of other things. One of my fondest childhood memories is of sitting in the back of the wheat truck when the combine would come up beside it and dump wheat all over us and bury us. That’s good stuff!

We would chew the wheat for “gum” while we worked hard in the fields at my grandparent’s house during harvest time. After all the wheat was cut, we would go back and cut straw from the stems that were left in the ground. Farming wheat is in my blood. These fun memories were at my grandparent’s house and they were some of the best times of my life.

My grandparents, great grandparents, and great-great grandparents were wheat farmer’s by trade and my uncle and cousin still farm wheat today. It’s an important part of my history. My Mom’s Grandfather ran in the Oklahoma Land Run with his parents to get their family land.  

I was raised in the city, but the memories of what went on at the farm always cried out to me in the back of my mind. The cows, horses, sheep, goats, chickens, grandma’s big ole garden, and the wheat and alfalfa grandpa grew are part of my upbringing and are part of who I am today.

My mom is a smart woman and has so many skills from her time growing up on that farm, it’s amazing. She has talents and abilities as do her brothers and sisters that would amaze you.

I make all the bread I feed my kids from scratch and I make it from freshly ground flour. I use non-gmo, local, top quality wheat berries to make my flour so my kids get the very best I can give them Click here to see why I don’t feed them store bought bread and click here for my everyday bread recipes if you want to make your own.

whole wheat bread maker bread

Many people talk about gluten intolerance and grain free food, especially gluten free, but I really feel that what makes a lot of people sick and tired is not the gluten or the wheat itself, but the genetic modification of that wheat with GMO’s. Most of our food supply is GMO wheat. Couple that with the massive amounts of chemicals in the bread products that wheat is made into and you have a recipe for some pretty serious diseases and illnesses. I’m not sure it’s the gluten for all people, although I KNOW it is for some. I think much of it is the process we’ve done to the wheat.

I wanted to show my kids where those wheat berries come from. Although I don’t plan to grow all of our wheat as cleaning it is quite a chore that we don’t have the equipment for, I wanted to grow some wheat to show them the source of those beautiful golden nuggets of flavor.

 

wheat growing

We took some of our wheat berries we grind for flour and planted them back in November. Previously, I tried to grow wheat with the kids, but I didn’t remember that you grow it throughout the winter here in Oklahoma (no natural instincts for growing), so I talked to my cousin Joe about what could have gone wrong. He said to have your wheat in the ground by November 30th. This is called winter wheat and it’s the only wheat you can grow in Oklahoma. It’s too hot here for anything else.

Winter wheat or hard wheat is good for making bread or other products that are made with yeast, spring wheat or soft wheat is good for pancakes, muffins, and things that don’t contain yeast.

Last year, we met that goal and watched our tiny wheat grass grow throughout the winter a tiny bit at a time. Once the days started getting longer, our wheat took off and now it’s making seed heads. Our rows aren’t straight like on the farm, but we are farming this wheat nonetheless. We have a 3 x 10 bed of it growing and will harvest it when it turns golden and the seeds will shake out of it. I’ll come back and update the blog when that happens.

planting wheat with kids

Steps to growing wheat:

  1. Find your wheat berry seeds. Research what type of wheat will grow in your area and when it needs to be planted. If you are in or around Oklahoma, do what we did, and get winter wheat in the ground by the end of November.
  2. Prepare your soil and make a trench about 2- 2 ½ inches deep. If you have a huge area to cover, you can broadcast your wheat seeds and then till them into the ground to about 2 inches. If you are planting spring wheat, you will need to plant it around 1 inch deep instead. Cover the seeds with dirt and pat down the earth gently to remove any air pockets.
  3. Water weekly until grain stalks and heads begin to turn golden and heads droop toward the ground.
  4. Check your mature grain weekly. Shake a few seeds out of the head and taste them. If they are doughy, they are not ready, but if they are firm and you can chew them for a while without them disintegrating, they are ready. Remember the “wheat gum”?
  5. Store them for a few weeks in a dry place until they are ready to clean. They will be dry and won’t dent with your fingernail when ready.
  6. Beat the heads on the inside of a trash can until all of the seeds fall out of the heads. Then winnow the seeds by pouring them from one container to another in the breeze or in front of a fan until all the chaff blows out of the seeds. Get them as clean as possible before use.
  7. Store them in an airtight container so moisture or bugs won’t be able to reach them.

growing wheat with kids

wheat, growing your own

I can’t wait to see how excited the kids are and how much they learn when we harvest our little wheat patch and grind it up into flour to make bread. What a wonderful learning experience for them that will stimulate all of their senses. Sensory experiences are the best way for kids birth to three to learn, and can you think of anything else that smells as good as homemade bread coming out of the oven? It can carry you away.

 

Why Childcare is a Gift

Why Childcare is a GIFT!

Childcare is a gift to parents who work hard each day, but worry about having the very best environment they can find for their children. I put my whole heart into my job for that reason! Sometimes I suck, sometimes I rock, but each day i give the best of me. I put my 110% into each day with my little lovelies, and I do it for several reasons.

  1. First, because I do everything I do for the glory of God.
  2. Second, because the children are precious and their hearts are delicate. They are ready for molding and shaping. Every child DESERVES a great place to be.
  3. Third, and finally, because parents deserve to know they are getting the best they can find for their kids.

Parents are not dropping off their B team kids with providers and leaving their really special kids at home, these children are their world. They are everything to them, and providers should respect them as parents and support them any way they can.

friendships in childcare are a gift

  • Childcare is a gift to parents because it provides a routine. I am up and ready every day ready to receive the children and the children are comfortable with that routine. Parents need to know what’s coming too. Childcare opens at the same time and closes at the same time every day, unless there is a special circumstance and parents and kids know what to expect.

the gift of childcare, it is a gift

  • Childcare is a gift to parents because it is reliable. I make sure I am very dependable as much as is humanly possible because parents are depending on me being here so they can get to work on time. Parents know I will be there and know they can count on it so they can be a good, dependable employee. Parents know when care will not be provided so they can plan ahead for it.

the gift of childcare is precious

  • Childcare is a gift to parents because it gives them support. I support my families however I can. I understand there is a lot going on in the morning when parents are trying to get everyone to work/school/childcare on time. I have tons of experience with children and can help parents when they don’t know what to do about a situation such as an illness or question about children’s behavior. Parents can count on me to do what’s best for their child to the best of my ability and offer any suggestions I can to parents when they need it.

the many gifts of childcare

  • Childcare is a gift to parents because it is love. I do childcare because I LOVE children and have a heart for them and their families. I am not sitting around all day wishing ill will to my clients and hoping bad things for them. I am trying my best to offer love, support, and understanding with each problem that arises. I am not judging my parents, I am rooting for them to succeed. I love my parents and their kids with my whole heart and do my best to do whatever I can for my families.

If you are a parent, your childcare provider is a gift. If you are a childcare provider, your parents are a gift. Love them, respect them, support them, be there for them, and let them count on you. Appreciate the gift you have for what it is. Great parent/provider relationships are amazing bonds that last forever. Even 20 years later, there is still love and respect between me and my past clients. I am lucky enough to see some of them every week. It’s a blessing these people still want me in their life. It’s a blessing to my business too because they are still recommending care with me.  

If you want to read about what parents wish provider knew, click here.

If you want to read about what providers wish parents knew, click here.

If you want to read about how to appreciate your childcare provider, click here.

Working Mom! Stop Feeling Guilty!

Working Mom! Stop Feeling Guilty!

Hey working mom. Yeah, you, over there, feeling guilty about everything…stop, you’re a good mom. Being a stay at home mom is a super hard, super rewarding, super amazing gift to a family. If you can stay at home with your kids, great. It’s wonderful you have that chance, and I’m so thankful for all the SAHMs out there. Not everyone can do that, and it’s OKAY!

mommy love

Some moms have to work to support the family, because in today’s economy, it’s super hard to make it on one income.

Some moms have to work outside the home because it’s not their temperament to stay home all day, they need a career too.

Some moms have to work because they are the ONLY parent in the household and they have to work to feed and shelter their kids.

It doesn’t matter the reason you chose to work outside the home, what matters is the quality you put into parenting.

working moms

You know what mom? You rock! You are doing your very best and that’s awesome! I’m proud of everything you do to try to be your best for the people in your life and you should be too. If you forget something or drop the ball, let it go! We all do that. In the grand scheme of life, the little details are not that important. In 20 years, your daughter is NOT going to remember that you forgot to send her a quarter for candy cart one freaking Friday in her life! (Will she, Kayla? I cried so hard that day)

Do you know what else? Feeling guilty that you don’t stay home does NOT make you a better mom. It just distracts you from what’s really important.

working mom guilt

If someone puts you down for working outside the home, turn that voice off in your head. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life! Only you know what you should be doing. You are rocking this mom gig with your best efforts and all you need to know is that.

  1. Daycare: You need a super awesome daycare to put your kids in. You need to KNOW that your child is being taken care of and not have to worry they are not. You need a provider who is open with you and allows you to ask questions and show up unannounced and be anywhere your kids are. If they aren’t, that should be sending you a huge red flag. Click here to see how to find a jewel in childcare.
  2. Quality time: When you are home from work, make sure you are not overscheduling your life so your kids get the best of you. Don’t put the kids in so many activities they never see you anyway even after work. Make sure to put down the phone or step away from the computer or TV and focus on your child for as much time as you can each day. Just because you work 8 hours a day does not mean you can’t be a top quality Mom. Just make the effort to be present with your child.
  3. Plan, be organized, and find balance between work and home: Make sure you get your life in order and keep up with it so things will run more smoothly. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s easier to organize your day than put out fires all day long. Pack lunches, lay out clothes, and get everything ready for the morning the night before so you can start your day on a positive note. Make sure to have a central family calendar so everyone knows what’s going on when. Focus on the benefits your work for your company is giving to your family.
  4. Remember there will be good days and bad days, no matter what you do with your time. Nothing is perfect. No day is going to go 100% as planned. Things happen, it’s called life.
  5. Divide up the chores: Your partner should be able to take some of the load if you are sharing the load of bringing in family income. Make sure you are not trying to do way too much while everyone else is doing nothing. Older kids can help with chores, and husbands CAN too!
  6. Communicate with your employer: Make sure your boss or company knows being a mom is your priority. Family comes first and you need to work for someone who understands your kids have to have your care when needed.
  7. Eat meals together: Make sure you do your best to eat breakfast and dinner together as a family as many times as you can throughout the week. This makes a big difference in how your family stays connected.
  8. Take time for you: Working and being a mom is no small feat. Make sure you are carving out time to nurture yourself and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about it. Taking care of you makes you a better mom and spouse, no question!
  9. Plan special family activities: Make sure you take family vacations where you can spend time with your kids with no distractions. Plan fun weekend trips to the park or other fun kid places so your kids feel special and are the center of attention part of the time. Notice I’m not saying ALL THE TIME, just once in a while, every kid deserves for it to be all about them.
  10. Make time for your partner: This full time working gig can make us forget about the person who is doing life with us. Make sure you unplug from being super mom sometimes and make time for your husband so he remembers why he wants to put in his best efforts too.

Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. In some families that looks like a mom, a dad, a daycare provider and some help from grandma. In some families it looks like a mom and a meem (grandma). In some families it looks like a mom, a daycare center and an evening babysitter. No matter what your situation is, know that you are doing your best and let that be good enough. The most important part of mothering is loving yourself and showing your child you do so they will love themselves. Don’t carry around guilt because someone else is a SAHM. Good for them, but it may not be good for you. That’s okay, you are rocking you!

Check out some other super great MOM posts here: 

5 Things I Have Learned From My Mom, The Peculiar Treasure Blog 

23 Lessons I Learned From My Mother, Ever Change Productions 

Mother’s Day Candy Bar Bouquet, House of Fauci’s 

 

Cheap Summer Activities for Kids

cheap summer activities for kids

There are so many things kids can do that don’t cost a ton of money. I’m super cheap so i love a good idea that doesn’t cost a ton of cash. Childcare is not a lucrative business. A lot of them are even free, so why spend a ton on activities when you can make up your own stuff on the cheap and have just as much fun or more. I LOVE a good deal and saving money! I also LOVE a bunch of happy, engaged children. Here are  a few things you can do to fill your summer time with your daycare kids, kids of your own, or whoever might be needing entertaining. 

Click here to see the benefits of getting the kids outside to play and click here to see why I think it’s so important to plan ahead for school’s out days! 

      • Click here to see some super cool upcycling ideas to keep your kids busy this summer for not a lot of green! upcycling crafts
      • Visit to a fire station or have a fire truck come to your daycare.
      • Read. We do a summer reading program at my house every summer. The kids LOVE reading!mia reading ramona forever by Beverly Cleary
      • Visit to a police station or have a police car brought to your daycare.
      • Visit the park.
      • What do your daycare parents do for a living? Is there something they could bring to teach the kids?
      • Call the health department and ask if they have someone that can come and talk to the kids. In my town, they will send a dental hygienist to teach the kids about brushing their teeth!
      • Call an animal rescue operation and ask them to bring animals to your home and teach the kids about them.
      • Have a sprinkler party. Click here to see how to throw an awesome water party. 

    • Visit an ambulance station or have an ambulance brought to your daycare.
    • Have an art party. Click here to see one.
    • Have a teddy bear picnic. Click here to see ours.teddy bear picnic plates
    • Have a sports day and learn a sport or celebrate one the kids like. 
    • See if the library has a story time person that comes out, ours does!
    • Have a color day every day of the week. Everyone can wear that color and you can do an art project using it too.
    • Use recycled squirt bottles to spray water for wet fun.
    • Exercise. Use a video like Elmocise or make up your own workout to lead the kids. My awesome husband is a personal trainer and he does a P.E. class with the kids every Monday morning before he goes to work.

    • Save up your empty boxes, paper towel tubes, and empty cans and bottles that are washed out and let kids create instruments, castles, houses, buildings, roads for cars, tunnels for cars, tall stacks, or whatever their minds can create to make with them.
    • Make kites out of brown paper bags from the store. 
    • Finger crochet from thrift store yarn.
    • Make homemade playdough and let them play with it for hours. 
    • Puzzles, even homemade. Let them draw a picture and then cut it into puzzle shapes so they can put it back together.
    • Make homemade books
    • Paint a rock or make pet rocks
    • Play in the rain.
    • Have a tea party.
    • Visit the nature center, they are usually free.
    • Play hide and seek, ring around the rosie, duck, duck, goose, or simon says.
    • Visit a pet store.
    • Play house.
    • Play school.
    • Rent a movie or books from the library or attend their story hour program.
    • Make up a play.
    • Put on a puppet show. 

    • Make a scavenger hunt for them to hunt outside (for very little kids, you can make the list of what to find from pictures so they can match a rock to a picture of a rock, etc.) 
    • Build a fort.
    • Have a picnic outside or inside.cheap ideas for summer activities for kids
    • Dress up.
    • Thumb wrestle.
    • Make up jokes.
    • Play restaurant or store.
    • Walk barefoot in the grass.
    • Make bird feeders. 
    • Play with bubbles. 

    • Play with balloons.
    • Do sidewalk chalk.

    • Make stick horses and ride them. You could even put on a rodeo.
    • Skip rocks.
    • Have a bike parade.
    • Play I Spy.
    • Play Frisbee.
    • Read a story and act it out.
    • Make sensory bottles.  
    • Read a story and do an activity inspired by it like “Give a Mouse a Cookie” and then make cookies.
    • Vacation Bible School.
    • Library story hour.
    • Splash pad water play at the park.
    • Plant seeds in a garden or in cups.Cheap Summer Ideas
    • Bird watch.
    • Watch bugs under a magnifying glass, (study entomology)
    • Play tic tac toe.
    • Play outside.
    • Collect rocks.
    • Climb a tree.
    • Have a mini Olympics at home. Make up events, score charts and prizes like medals.
    • Make waterslide with your hose and slide.
    • Let the kids cook lunch or snack. Check out the blog for tons of kid friendly recipes we have cooked.
    • Take a nature walk.cheap kids activities
    • Make a collage with nature items you find.activities, cheap
    • Learn tree identification
    • Make paper airplanes from your scrap paper.
    • Play Twister. 

    • Rent a movie and have popcorn.
    • Have a pillow fight.
    • Write letters to grandparents.
    • Make ice cream.
    • Make popsicles.
    • Go swimming at the local pool
    • Visit a farm or have animals brought from a farm.
    • Play card games or dominoes.
    • Play board games.
    • Build with blocks.

  • Play at the mall.
  • Go on a hike.
  • Play kickball.
  • Play hide and seek.
  • Ride bikes.
  • Color.
  • “Camp” in the back yard.
  • Go bowling.
  • Play with water balloons.
  • Fill buckets of water and throw wet sponges.
  • Play soccer.
  • Put on a sports camp.
  • Play football.
  • Play baseball.
  • Make up an obstacle course.
  • Make up songs.
  • Lay on a blanket and watch the clouds.
  • Have a dance party.
  • Try nature weaving

There are a million different things you can do for free or cheap that will keep your kids healthy, happy, and content throughout the summer months. Add your ideas to share with all of us.

What is Permaculture?

What is Permaculture

Have you ever wondered what permaculture means? I have wanted to learn about permaculture for so long. I have learned bits and pieces of it, but nothing to really tell me how to do it.

permaculture gardening

I had the opportunity to review the book “Permaculture for the Rest of Us, Abundant Living on Less than an Acre”, by Jenni Blackmore and I jumped on it. Send me the book! I was so excited to learn more about this interesting method of planting.

abundant living on less than an acre, gardening, permaculture

The main premise of permaculture is that plants, animals, and insects can all live in symbiotic relationships together in harmony and support and build each other up, like how nature does it on its own. Land can actually heal itself if left alone.

 

Imagine a big tree in the woods, lightning strikes it or, more likely, someone comes and chops it down. The tree falls. The tree lays there lifeless. Over time, it begins to deteriorate. Bacteria, bugs, and animals all help break it down. It finally decomposes, and becomes fertilizer for the earth to have more fertility and the place it was can no longer be seen. The place it once was is unmarred by its presence again. Nature heals itself.

So, if this can happen in nature, how much more can it happen when we work with nature than against it? How can we do this? Permaculture teaches us how.

permaculture for the rest of us

So back to the book. Author, Jenni Blackmore tells about her disgust for slugs which started her on her journey towards permaculture and I loved hearing about her journey and how she got to where she is today. In the book, she teaches about building soil and how to work it. She also tells about important things you need for success, what animals have to do with it, and where to begin.

My favorite chapter was the one that talks about the permaculture principles. I have always wanted to learn them and she presented them in such a way that I could understand them clearly. I can’t wait to learn even more about them with some further study. I love how the author, Jenni Blackmore presents her information in a laid back way that is not intimidating even to beginners like me. She presents and anyone can do it attitude and that’s just what I need to learn.

permaculture design

I learned from the permaculture principles that I have a lot of natural instinct on how to plant to balance nature. I have no natural growing instincts, so it was so cool to see that some of the things I feel drawn to do are helping nature help me. At least I’m not slow at every part of growing.

I hope you will order the book for yourself right away so you can learn how you can practice permaculture even if you are living on a city lot like me. Click the picture below to check it out.

I want to give away the copy I read to a reader! All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is follow the blog by filling out the form at the top right of the page with your email, and then comment below that you followed, include your e-mail, and one thing you know or want to know about permaculture. I will enter the comments in a randomizer and let you know who won! US addresses only, please. When you win, I will email you and mail it out after you respond with your address.

I’m so excited! Hurry and enter, I will draw in one week, Saturday, May 7th at 8:00 pm.

How to Store Garden Produce

How to Store your Garden Produce

Have you ever looked around your kitchen after a harvest and thought, what in the world am I going to do with all of this produce? You wouldn’t believe how many foods can be stored at room temperature and how long they will last. You CAN store it all.

Have you ever taken the time to find out how each type of food is optimally stored or do you just do what Mom used to do? You can extend the life of your fruits and veggies exponentially if you store them properly and you will be able to save more of it for use later.

USDA and DHS do not allow childcare providers to serve home canned food to children, so canning will not be covered here, but there are so many other ways you can store food, and if you know how to safely can, have at it, there will be one more for you!

  • First of all, let’s talk about all of the amazing produce that stores perfectly well at room temperature for months and months.

proper garlic storage

Garlic: Once garlic is cured for a week or two in a well ventilated, warm area, it can be placed in baskets, braided and hung on the wall, or placed in panty hose and tied to separate each clove with a knot until next year’s harvest. This works best with soft neck garlic.

storing sweet potatoes and winter squash

Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes need to be kept dry, and cured in a 90 degree, well ventilated area for two weeks. Then they can be placed in boxes or baskets that are also well ventilated and stored for months.

properly storing produce for long lasting

Winter squash: Winter squash can be stored at room temperature for several months with no special treatment.

Make sure when you are storing food at room temperature, you check it for bad spots because if a piece of food rots, it may cause the food around it to rot.

Potatoes: White potatoes can be stored in a cool, dark, well ventilated place for several weeks until eaten.

  • Shorter life produce that stores at room temperature

Apples and pears can sit in a bowl in your kitchen at room temperature for several weeks. So can citrus fruits and onions.

Tomatoes should NEVER be refrigerated. It ruins the flavor of them. They can sit on your counter for several days or be dehydrated or frozen. Click here to see how to make and freeze your own amazingly wonderful tomato sauce. Click here to see how to make your own healthy rotel. 

Bananas of course should never be refrigerated either and last for a few days at room temperature.

  • Dehydrating

Many foods can be dehydrated and stored in an air tight container for months or a year. Grapes, bananas, and other fruits are very tasty dehydrated. Vegetables such as corn, peas, onions, tomatoes and others can be dehydrated and used later in soups and stews. Greens and herbs can be dried for later use as well.

Dehydrated tomatoes make a great topping for salads as well. Hot peppers can be put on a string to dry at room temperature and last for a couple of years.

storing dried peppers

I make a green powder every year from greens in the garden and use it throughout winter to sprinkle into the kid’s food to enhance the nutrition of it when we are eating grocery store food because the garden is dormant. Click here to see how I make green powder and dry herbs. 

dried herbs and greens, storing onions and avocados at room temp

  • Refrigeration

Grapes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and most other fresh produce can be stored in the refrigerator in your crisper drawers for several days, or up to weeks for things like apples, pears, plums, and citrus fruits.

crisper storage

To make your asparagus last as long as possible, stand it up in a cup in a small amount of water, it will stay fresh longer than you think. The same is true for cut herbs and greens. You can extend the life by several days.

properly storing produce

Produce should not be wrapped tightly in plastic. Produce needs to breathe, so use cloth bags, or plastic with ventilation for storage. Greens and lettuces can be rinsed, allowed to dry and wrapped in damp paper towels to reduce the chance of going to waste before you can use it.

  • Freezing

Many fruits and vegetables can be blanched or boiled for 1-3 minutes depending on the type of produce, dried completely, and then frozen in air tight containers such as zip lock freezer bags, mason jars, plastic containers or whatever else you have on hand. Green beans, peaches, blueberries, greens that will be used in a casserole. Okra can be blanched, cut, breaded and frozen on a cookie sheet and then placed in an air tight container. Most fruits and vegetables will store in the freezer for 3-6 months or longer.

In addition, you can shred carrots, onions, squashes and other foods and freeze them for use in soups, sauces and casseroles later.

Click here for further instructions on how to freeze produce for storage.

There is no sense wasting your time and money buying or growing your produce if you will just end up throwing it in the compost pile, or worse yet, sending it to the landfill. Plan well and try to only buy the produce you need for a week’s meals. Try to grow the amount of a food that you can use, although that’s a pretty tall order I know. It’s not easy to calculate what will produce for you, but you can always give it a try based on last year’s production. In the end, Mother Nature will do what she wants.

I love learning new ways of storing foods that will help me get the most for my efforts in the garden. How do you store what you grow?

 

 

How to Grow Kohlrabi

HOw to grow Kohlrabi

I was amazed when I found out what kohlrabi was. I didn’t think there was a vegetable we could grow that I had never heard of, but my garden mentor, Doug, told me about this crazy alien looking veggie and I could not love it any more than I do!

Some of the kids never tire of picking. Zealous for gardening. :)

Some of the kids never tire of picking. Zealous for gardening. :)

Kohlrabi is AMAZING! It takes like broccoli stems, only a little sweeter. I love it raw, steamed, sautéed, or roasted and I love the leaves as well. The kids really love growing it and most of them like it as well. They much prefer it cooked over raw though.

This post contains affiliate links

When I decided to start growing kohlrabi to see what it tasted like, everyone I told about it had never heard of it, so I thought I would share about it here in case you never have either. It’s so much fun to watch it grow. It takes a relatively small space so you can grow quite a few in a pretty small area.

planting kohlrabi with kids

When we grow kohlrabi, we start the seeds inside. We sow some directly into the soil outside but we always have better luck with our indoor seedlings. Last year, somehow we killed all of our seedlings, so we had to buy starts from a local nursery.

Kohlrabi grows fairly quickly compared to Brussels sprouts or broccoli. We like fast at Little Sprouts, the faster the better!

kohlrabi

The kohlrabi grows on a small root and right above the ground a strange bulb comes up and forms just above the soil surface. You continue to let it grow, and cut it off at the ground when it’s about baseball size. I have seen some as big as softballs, and I have seen some smaller than a baseball, but baseball size is just about right for maximum deliciousness in my book. Click the image below to order your own kohlrabi seeds.

I have seen green and purple varieties. We have grown both. I love showing the kids different colors of veggies, like rainbow carrots or Easter egg or watermelon radishes. I love to see the awe and wonder they show.

kids harvesting kohlrabi

We have been growing kohlrabi since our first gardening year and we have fallen in LOVE. The kids LOVE how funny it looks too. It’s an adventure in the garden.

Click here to see what we are growing in our preschool garden. It’s tons of fun.

Share in the comments what you are growing in your garden and if you have heard of kohlrabi before now?

8 Things NOT to Say to your Childcare Provider

What not to say to your childcare provider

What not to say to your childcare provider.

People say some amazing things sometimes. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my job as a childcare provider and I love my daycare families. I asked my childcare provider friends what kinds of things they have heard that bother them and they came up with a list of pretty insulting things people say about providers, so today we are going to bust the myths of what people think about childcare.

8 things not to say to your childcare provider

  1. The number one thing providers told me is I HATE BEING CALLED A BABYSITTER! We do NOT sit on babies, EVER! We do not get paid $10 per hour per child to eat your food and sit on your couch and watch TV and keep an eye on your child. Actually, that sounds much easier, and $100 for a ten-hour day sounds pretty cool.
  2. Providers dislike when you call and ask for an interview and then don’t show up! Dude, if you asked to interview, guess what? WE PREPARED! We have printed up paperwork, changed into clean clothes so we don’t have to talk to you with boogers on our clothes, and rearranged our schedules so we can talk with you. If you changed your mind, that’s perfectly fine, but call and let us know, PLEASE! Don’t avoid our calls and messages so we are sitting here wondering if you are ever going to come. I have provider friends that have sat around waiting for hours and wasting their whole evening when the parent was never going to show up anyway. What a drag. I would hate that.
  3. This hasn’t happened to me in a long time, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. You say, oh I’m going to pick up little Johnny early….and then…. you don’t. Little Johnny thinks you are coming and he is cranky and sad that you’re not there yet. It breaks my heart to watch that. If you plan to pick up early and then you can’t, please send me a text so I can stop watching out the window every two seconds for you to come and do something fun with the kids.
  4. Here’s another one I really dislike that hasn’t happened in years, but it’s soooo rude. You say, can I bring little Suzie at 6 am to be to an important work thingy. Then I get up early just only for you, and you don’t show up until regular time or later…ugh, that’s so annoying. I know everyone likes to sleep as long as they can in the mornings and we are the same way. I don’t want to get up if I don’t have to. If you are supposed to drop off at 6 for a special situation we have agreed to and you find out your plans have changed, I would rather hear from you at 5:30 when I’m getting ready for you to get here than not. Any time my parents ask me to open early, I always say, YOU BETTER COME, and I mean it.
  5. Why don’t you get a real job? This is something my provider friends hear all the time, or it must be nice not to have to work, or I’d love to get to play all day. If you don’t think this is real work, you should try it just for one day. At home you have only one or two children and it can get overwhelming sometimes, think about how it is with 7. Sometimes we don’t even have time to go to the bathroom. I know it’s hard to relate to what all goes on during the day with your kids, but dang, we work hard! We do it because we LOVE it.  No one has ever said that to me (except for a few of my kids) but if they did it would really hurt my feelings because I know how hard I work.
  6. Another one my friends HATE is hearing childcare is so expensive or you make so much money. We could revisit the $100 for a ten-hour day plan from above. It’s super expensive to DO childcare. I spent over $7,000 on food last year alone. Even though I bring in money, most of it is spent on my sweet little angels to meet all of their needs. I would gladly take any free toilet paper, tissues, or paper towels because I go through tons of money buying that stuff. I would hate to be skimpy with toilet paper. It’s important.
  7. When something terrible happens on the news to a child in childcare, making comments like, childcare is awful, is hurtful. Like, that wasn’t us, or we wouldn’t be in business. Realize those of us who are still caring for kids do it because we want to give the best of ourselves. We are putting our hearts and souls into your sweet baby’s life and doing our very best to give them the best of us.
  8. We hear this one constantly, home childcare is not as good as center care. Even our center working friends say this. Actually the government says it too because they pay centers more for subsidy care. First of all, I have never had a parent say this to me, because fortunately, most of my clients have realized the quality they are getting from me and that I do put my heart into what I do. It’s amazing to me that herding a bunch of the same age kids into a classroom with a teacher is seen as better than multi-age settings where children are around kids younger than them and older than them. God created families with multi-age settings, and God knows A LOT! He’s smart and He knows that is good for kids.

don't say this to your childcare provider

Children learn many skills and self-confidence from watching older kids and mimicking their behaviors. Not everything they learn from older kids is great, but most of it is amazing. They see big kids and learn so much from that experience. They have more advanced language skills, motor skills, and critical thinking skills when they are involved with older children in a play setting.

Children learn many skills from younger kids as well. They learn how to be a nurturer (father, mother, or caretaker someday). They learn how to be careful and watchful and protect a younger child. They learn patience and taking turns because babies’ needs always come first. There is so much value in family childcare.

Click here to read more about the Value of Family Childcare.

Click here to read more about the benefits of multi age settings. 

In addition to the benefits of multi age settings, childcare centers offer a less homey, comforting environment for children. They care for more children which increases children’s exposure to illnesses. Centers have a higher turnover rate and less continuity of care with one caregiver the child can bond with, and the list goes on and on. All that to say, that family childcare is very very valuable for children’s development.

There are many things it’s not okay to say to your childcare provider, but there are even more things you should be saying. You can tell your provider you appreciate their efforts and comment when you notice they are doing a good job or going above and beyond for your child.

You can say happy birthday, merry Christmas, or have a good day to your provider and realize they are a person and it’s nice to make them feel good. You can tell them things you see your child learning that you know they learned from childcare and let them know you are pleased. There are so many things you can say to encourage your provider to be her best. I think so much more of what I am doing because I’ve always had good parents that appreciated and encouraged me. I give my best, and they see that and let me know.

Think about how nice it is when your boss, client, or co-worker notices you are doing a good job and comments on it or encourages you. It’s great to do that for your provider too. If you think they have an easy job or get paid too much, try it out for yourself. I bet your opinion of it will be a lot different with a little experience.

 

 

25 Benefits of Active Outside Play

25 Benefits of Outside Play

You won’t believe what my kids are learning through simple outside play. Being outdoors has positive effects for physical and mental health in all ages of people. We need more time outside!

outside play, learning

Look at this picture of my kids playing outside, and let’s talk about all the things that are being learned here. There is so much learning going on, and these are all things we are pressured for our kids to learn, things they are tested on, things they are drilled in school. These kids are getting all of these benefits without feeling pressure or anxiety, they are HAVING FUN!

Get the kids outside.

Let’s start with the two kids in the front on the teeter totter, what are they learning? Teeter tottering teaches kids how to balance their weight against another child’s weight which is a math skill. It also teaches them balance in their physical bodies as well as multiple other physical development skills they need. In addition, the back and forth motion the kids experience as they go up and down fires synapses in their brains which form brain connections for them that lay the foundation for further learning such as reading, math, and science.

Okay, now let’s look at the next group of children on the swings, what are they learning? They are developing large motor skills like the two kids on the teeter totter, as well as learning balance. They are learning how to make the swing go back and forth which is simple physics. They are learning gravity. They are learning coordination. Their brains are firing synapses that will form pathways for later information to travel on as well. Physical activity teaches children SO much!

Now let’s check out the kids at the back table. They are scooping gravel and filling the top of the table with it. What could be learned from scooping gravel? They are developing fine and gross motor skills as they scoop up gravel and pack it into their prescribed areas on the table. They are learning math skills such as volume and measurements. They are using their imaginations and building critical thinking and problem solving skills as a group. They are also learning social skills. The scope of what is happening in this picture is immeasurable and what I have mentioned here only scratches the surface.

These kids are having a great time, doing healthy things, and their brains are exploding with learning and pathway formation for future learning. This is a miracle to watch every day. They are developing balance, muscles, control, coordination, critical thinking, problem solving, math, science, colors, language, social skills, and the list goes on and on. And guess what? They are LOVING what they are doing!

Active play makes kids smarter! It just does. Where did we come up with the idea that learning is supposed to be miserable? Learning is supposed to be fun! Let them play!

Let them play, inside and OUTSIDE. There are so many extra benefits to active play outside. When the kids are super crazy active outside it saves wear and tear on my house and furniture. My house is small and if they are flipping and running inside the house, someone always gets hurt. Outside there is room to run and play actively without risk of slamming into a wall or a piece of furniture.

kids playing and learning outside

There are other great benefits to being outside. There is so much more to explore and learn about outside. There is sensory stimulation from the breeze, grass, trees, animals, bugs, rocks, dirt, and so many other things that are full of learning opportunities. There is so much to see and do. There is so much to find out. Check out the amazing benefits of gardening outside with kids. Click here to read about it or here to watch a video on the benefits of getting kids in the garden.

kids learning outside

Outside there is plenty of fresh air and sunshine which gives kids vitamin D, a vital nutrient for health. There is also immunity boosting power in the outdoors. There are mental health benefits from soil touching the skin. I don’t know how it works but somehow, the beneficial microbes that naturally occur in the soil, make the chemicals in our bodies work more like they are supposed to and helps keep our mental health on track. Also, getting dirty outside may actually strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health. Talk about wow! Click here to learn more about it.

 

In the past twenty years, we have become and inside society. The average child in the US spends as few as 30 minutes of outdoor play each day and more than seven hours in front of an electronic screen. EVERY. DAY. What’s even worse, some children get even less time for active play, as little as 15 minutes.

learning outside with free play

Active play is vital for children’s academic success. Kids cannot learn if they are not moving. Why? Children are unable to blow off steam without playground time. Behavior problems arise in children who don’t get enough recess. In addition, children must engage in active play for optimal brain function. Physical activity sharpens their minds. Extra homework does not help children advance in school, the brain-body connection is stronger than we realize. Children who are allowed to run for more than an hour a day, have increased cognitive skills including focus and multitasking.

People were made to move, but today most of us are sedentary. We were created to work to get food or travel, and historically had to perform physical tasks for our own survival. Movement, or lack thereof, is shaping children’s brains.

Physical activity boosts overall health, strengthens muscles (the heart is one of those muscles) improves brain function and thinking skills. We must exercise our bodies in order to exercise our intellectual potential.

Regular participation in physical activity helps cognitive skills because of increased blood and oxygen to the brain. Increased growth factors that help create nerve cells and keep our brain synapses plastic, (or flexible) which strengthens interconnections and protects them from damage. Physical activity, also increases endorphins and norepinephrine which improves our mood and reduces stress.

Numerous studies have been done on children, adults, and animals and they all come up with these same results, we need to move and we need to get OUTSIDE!

Click here to learn more.

Play is important in the lives of every person, young or old. We should spend time every day doing something we enjoy and the more of it that is done outside the better. The benefits that help children develop, help us adults to function better as well. We get positive mental health benefits, enhanced mood, better ability to concentrate and focus on the tasks we have at hand, and a plethora of other benefits for our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Get outside and get moving today, you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel when your lungs and pores are full of fresh air!

Next week is EARTH DAY! Here are some great Earth Day activities to get you playing outside from Ever Change Productions: 12 Outdoor Activities to Celebrate Earth Day

 

« Older Entries