Tag Archive for gingerbread

How to LIVE Your PASSION!-and a celebration of 20 years of doing just that!

 

I am very fortunate to have found my passion and what I am supposed to do with my life at a very early age. I started doing daycare at the age of 24 and I have never wavered from knowing that I know it’s what I’m supposed to do with my life. The majority of people flounder around looking for their purpose in life and trying to find what they are meant to do. When you are not doing something you love and care about, burnout is always on the horizon. Do you dread Mondays? Do you hate getting up each day when you think about what faces you at your job? We are not meant to live that way. You should look forward to your work, at least some of the time.

passion for loving kids

How do you go about figuring it out? Well, first of all, I believe we were not just meant to do one thing only. There could be many variations of what we were meant for that could all fit into God’s plan. I also think when you are reaching for your goals in life, you need to focus on an area of meaning and try to make what you spend your time doing, further that goal. In addition, many times we are meant to do certain things for a season and then meant to do something else at another time. And, I don’t think our calling is always our main 9-5 job. It could be something you participate in outside of work.

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When I was a girl, I wanted to be, well, first, Wonder Woman. I would put on my skates and go down in the basement in my bathing suit (as a third grader, I thought that’s what Lynda Carter was wearing in the show) and put on my homemade bullet deflecting bracelets and tiara, get my little gold belt from my fairy costume mom made me for Halloween for my lasso of truth, and skate around pretending to be her catching all the bad guys.

I also had a passion for writing. My first grade teacher encouraged me to pursue that dream because I was good at it. I lost touch with it when it was discouraged later, but I always loved writing.

Later in my growing up years, when my career goals as a super hero fell through, I wanted to run a big company and be a strong, powerful, woman CEO. I wanted to make lots of money and have lots of power. So I went to business school to learn all I could about business.

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Your life will not go as planned, no one’s does! You don’t just map out all your goals and just check them off one by one, you have to take a path to get there. It’s never a straight one. Have you heard the expression life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans? It is true. I never dreamed in a million years that I would work with children, but here I am having done it for 20 years!

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When I think back on my life, dreams, and passions, I can see every single thing I have been through in my life has prepared me for where I am today. Think about the course of your life and see if you can see it too. I believe God brings us on a path that is best for us, but not always what we expect. Being a childcare provider IS a lot like being a super hero. There is so much expected of this position and not a lot of resources to get you there. Believe me, to do this job, you HAVE to be born to do it. It takes a unique individual to work very long hours for very little profit, balance a family with a business in the same space, open your home to complete strangers and trust them there, run the business side with professionalism and the daycare side with heart, and be rigorously dependable. You also have to support parents and guide them while being their partner in caring for their child, and be able to give the kids what they need for success as well.

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Going to business school was immensely helpful to owning my own business from everything to accounting principles to typing and computer skills. This job involves A LOT of paperwork! The computer is an invaluable tool for that.

celebrating 20 years of childcare

 

Video produced by Ever Change Productions. To check them out, click here.
If you are struggling to find your meaning in life, how do you find YOUR calling?

Step 1-Think about your passions.

What do you LOVE doing? What did you always love as a child that you have given up enjoying now? When you look forward to something, what is it? If it’s traveling, why? What about it do you love? If it’s gardening, is there a way you could turn that into more of a full time part of your life? Do you love being with children? Could you incorporate that into a career? Do you love helping people? There are so many jobs where you can do that. Do you love to create things? Organize? What do you wish you were spending your time on? What do you long to do? What makes you feel complete or relaxes you?

Step 2-Think about what steps you would need to get there.

Do you need to take some classes or get a higher degree to reach your goals? Do you just need to spend more of your free time doing what you love on the side? Do you need to adjust your lifestyle and pay off your debt so you can take a lower paying job? Don’t worry about the big picture and fret about how far away you are from your goals, focus on the tiny steps you need to take to get there, what can you do TODAY to change your future?

Step 3-Take the first step.

Put the first step into action, have faith in yourself and the dreams God placed in your heart and trust Him to help you get there. Pray about what needs to happen. Trust Him to lead you on the path you need to take and let Him ignite the passion for it even more in you.

I have been living my purpose for the past 20 years. It has nothing to do with any of my career goals as a child, but I could not have found a more perfect fit for my life. I love giving kids a great place to be. Growing their self-esteem and helping them succeed is so satisfying to me. Is there anything better than catching the eye of a child and watching their face light up and that big smile come over them as they realize you SEE them? Not to me. No, I don’t love cleaning up poopy diapers and barf, and I don’t love when parents pick up late or forget to pay, but I DO love being someone a child can trust as they learn to care for themselves and encouraging them along the way that they can do it. I also love giving parents a chance to work without worry and being a person they can trust and count on.

Today is my 20th anniversary in childcare. A couple of weeks ago we had a party to celebrate it. I invited all 75 of my past kids and their families to come and spend some time remembering things we had done. Many didn’t come, of course. People are busy and have lives to live, but the ones that came were a blessing and I really enjoyed seeing them. I have learned so much over the past 20 years about myself, children, relationships, and people. People always say, you teach the kids so much and give them so much, but I always say, they’re the ones that teach and give to me. My heart is blessed when I pour it into children. My life is changed. My soul is complete.

Here are a few things we did to celebrate and the reasons why we did them. It was a very special day. I hope you enjoy taking a peek into our celebration, and I hope you can take steps toward living the life you were meant to live. If you are there, GREAT! If you need to get there, take one step today in the right direction. We were meant to flourish in our life not just survive every day!

20 years of childcare celebration

We had a greeting table set up with seeds to take home the kids had harvested from our garden last year, some pens for the parents, and Easter eggs for the kids to take home. Those were a nod to one of the favorite family activities we have annually. If you want to check out our garden story, click here.

Over to the left, you can see the poster from our 10 year anniversary party along side our new growth chart for the second ten years. I have a chart in my closet that I have measured all the children on and even teenagers and young adults ask to measure first thing when they come in my house to visit. It’s a lifetime memory for a lot of them. Since our first one was full and overflowing onto the door in the closet, I bought this new one and we broke it in at the party. The kid’s faces lit up when they saw it there.

20 year childcare celebration

childcare celebration 20 years

We had yummy snacks and some fun door prizes to give away. People won lunch boxes, loaves of homemade bread, and packages of cookies from the cookie bar. I have several “world famous” cookie recipes that have been favorites over the years, so I baked some of each of them up for the occasion. To see the recipe for Monster cookies, click here.

gingerbread at childcare celebration

gingerbread

reliving old memories in childcare passion for loving kids

Decorating gingerbread is another parent involvement activity we do annually. Parents come and hang out with their kids and spend time getting to know each other and being creative. Many kids tell me years later how much fun this was and it’s one of my daughter’s favorites. That’s her at 22 in the last gingerbread picture. We’ve been doing this since she was 4. To see more about our gingerbread parties, click here.

memory table, passion for your job

scrapbooks childcare reunion, finding your passion

The memory book table was a favorite among the parents and the kids. We recreated a few of our old photos with the kids now. I had a scrapbook for the first 10 years and one for the second as well as yearly cookbooks we’ve made, garden journals and newspaper clippings. To check out what the cookbooks are all about, click here. I also had the photos from the scrapbooks printed up so families could take a copy of whatever photo they loved.

childcare celebration refreshments

childcare reunion refreshments

kids who still come to childcare

kids who are not so little anymore

Yummy snacks were enjoyed by everyone and people had a great time catching up or meeting other families.

childcare trivia game

The Little Sprouts trivia game was a big hit, here is a family working hard to win. The prize was 20 flowers made of dollar bills for 20 years of fun and learning. We had a tie, so each person got 10 flowers to keep. Some of the answers were a real hoot, but I think everyone had fun trying to figure them out.

So for 20 years, 75 kids, 36 families served, I have been growing and learning along side these kids. I am blessed beyond measure. I am grateful to have been a part of each memory we celebrated. I don’t know what I did to deserve this life, but I do know I am unique, special, and loved. I was born for this. I couldn’t be happier to be staring down the chance at more years like these. My gifts, my talents and my passions are being developed even still as I celebrate my life. I am praying that YOU would find your passion if you aren’t already living it too.

These are a few of the kids who came to the party, some of them had already left when we got a group shot, but there are so many blessings in these faces. I’m amazed every day that I have the privilege of doing this job.

How to Live Your PASSION!

I am blessed!

 

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How to Throw a Gingerbread Party

At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread decorating.  I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate.  We donate the creation to KidsSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition.  We started this tradition about 18 years ago.  We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things.  We have been donating it to KidsSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy. 

Building gingerbread is so much fun.  If you have a group of adults, you can let them build their creations and decorate them, but with many toddlers and preschool age kids, it’s easier to build the creation a week or so ahead of time so it’s more likely to hold together while they are decorating it. 

The first thing you have to figure out is what you are going to build.  I have several books full of patterns and there are free patterns on the internet and many you can buy.  I started by checking out library books with patterns.  You can even create your own.  I have done that a few times, but usually I just find a pattern and change it to what I want to build.

Martha Stewart’s recipes


I have always used Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread recipe.  It’s fool proof.  I do not add cinnamon to mine because I am highly allergic, but I do use ginger and black pepper to flavor it.  I use her royal icing recipe as well.  Martha knows!  And this royal icing hardens rock hard, so it’s a great glue for the gingerbread.

Start about a week before your party.  Roll out your dough to the 1/8 inch Martha recommends and cut your pieces from your patterns.  I use a pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter to cut sharp lines. 

gingerbread dough

Bake your house pieces according to the instructions in the recipe and allow them to cool thoroughly.  I cool mine overnight or for a couple of days.

gingerbread cutouts

gingerbread house pieces

Putting the gingerbread together

Now it’s time to assemble.  I use peppermint sticks to hold the house sides together and when adding the roof pieces, I secure them with straight pins like a nail until the creation is dry.  I remove them before the kids come for decorating.

gingerbread building

creating gingerbread

building gingerbread houses

I allow these to dry for about a week.  This year we had several days of rainy weather and our gingerbread was super soft.  Some of the houses had pieces break off, but we were able to put them back together.  If you have a large creation, sometimes the rain will totally destroy it.  I stick with smaller buildings most of the time because of that. 

Another great reason is when I have a lot of people working, it helps if each family has a unit they can work on.  We have done train cars, town buildings, and village houses.  We have also done a beach scene with a house and a lighthouse, Santa’s workshop, a mansion with a gazebo, a big city down town with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations.  Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.

gingerbread houses

gingerbread decorating

 

 


Get ready for your party guests

Before your guests arrive, lay out all the supplies.  This year we ate pizza, so I just had to put out dishes and make some tea.  The families brought decorating candy and pizza money.  That made it easy for everyone.  Once the guests arrived, it was all fun.

gingerbread fun

gingerbread creating

creating gingerbread with kids

children creating gingerbread

After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.

gingerbread creation 7gingerbread creation 6

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finished gingerbread creation

I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.

gingerbread garden attemptcloseup of gingerbread community garden

After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…

completed gingerbread creation with snow gingerbread party with kids

Having your families gather for a group project any time of year is a great way to let them get to know each other and to feel like they are a part of the daycare.  I have kids that are grown that still remember making gingerbread here with their parents.  It’s a great way to make memories and it’s super fun for everyone.  I hope you try some gingerbreading with your loved ones.  If you feel intimidated by baking the gingerbread, make houses from graham crackers or buy a kit.  Any way you do it, it’s awesome!  And imagine the kid’s faces at the advocacy center when they see all this colorful fun! 

Christmas Surprises

A few months ago my camera that I saved three years to buy for myself met an untimely accident.  It still works, but some of the features such as zoom do not and when taking a picture, there is a long delay.  Sometimes you can’t get it to come on without a little shaking.  Needless to say, with all the blog and daycare pictures, it’s a hassle.  But this year at the party, my sweet parents surprised me with a replacement camera.  It’s better, prettier, and they also gave me multiple cool tools to go with it.  I was flabbergasted.  I couldn’t believe they did this for me.  I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry.  I hate crying in public.  Anyway, I am super excited about it.  I named her Lynda after my hero Wonder Woman.  Here’s a picture of her, she’s amazing…

gingerbread party gift

Do you have any gingerbread memories to share?  I’d LOVE to hear them!

Don’t forget to pin for later!

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