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Slushy Treats

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on December 4, 2015 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

While we have done so many fun things this week, including tobogganing as a group for the first time and reading The Jolly Christmas Postman right as the real deal delivered our mail, I must say that the highlight was our slushy treat snack. We tried this for the first time last winter, and it was such a success that I knew we needed to make it at least an annual event. This snack is so simple, and also nutritionally based (though just a tad high on the sugar!). First, each child gets a cup or bowl.

Every child fills their dish half full of clean fresh snow. They had a lot of fun tromping around the yard trying to stake out their own patch of snow before it got stepped on, and I helped them make sure their cups weren't over-filled. Then, after they were all seated, I poured on thick cream. This year, I changed it a little, and made a thick, delicious custard sauce!

Finally, you top with fresh berries and enjoy with a biscuit on the side. Dee-lish! Going outside in cold wintertime is much easier with a snack like this to look forward to.

 

Advent Ideas and Planning

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 27, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

As December draws near, my thoughts turn to Advent and all of the things I want to do with these lovely children before Christmas. I cherish Advent calenders of all shapes and sizes, because they make each day special and unique and help build up the excitement of Christmas Day. In my home, there are some Advent calenders that have been handcrafted for my own three children, as well as one unique calendar that I use mostly with the dayhome children.

 

This first handmade Advent calendar may explain more on why I love Advent calenders so much; my mother made this when I was a child, and my three siblings and I delighted in looking at the pretty chocolates up on the wall and looked forward to eating one each morning. I was so happy that they all agreed I could use it with my own three; now my children delight in it on our wall, and look forward to that decadent morning chocolate!

 

Next is the Advent calendar I made for my eldest child, my daughter Kaliana. She really likes feeling older, and because I didn't want to get her a commercial beauty calendar (perfume and lipstick for a 9-year-old? No thanks), I chose the items in this myself. In the little packages are fun and age-appropriate gifts like lotion, body wash, bath scrubs, bath bombs and fizzies, flavoured lip balm, and more. I can't wait to see which are her favourites!

 

While my middle boy LOVES Lego and would settle for nothing less than this year's Lego Advent calendar, for my youngest I went for a softer touch. I hand-painted 25 tiny peg dolls, transforming them into gorgeous glittery decorations for the tree. Then, I simply created these green cones, which together look like a forest. Each little tree cradles a tiny angel inside (check back later to see them on our tree!). Beside it you can see my own Advent calendar, Lush's 12 Days of Christmas - because Mommy needs pampering, too!

 

I have saved the best for last. Here is the Advent calendar I created years ago for the dayhome children, and my own on the weekends. Each felt envelope has a different Advent idea, and they are planned out in advance so I have the materials I need on hand.

 

To help with creating your own Advent calendar, if you are so inclined, I have included some lists below! Here are 32 Advent Ideas:

 

For the Dayhome

  1. Bake Christmas cookies (gingerbread men; nanaimo bars; snowballs; thumbprint . . .)
  2. Make a Christmas craft
  3. Create Christmas cards
  4. Enjoy peppermint hot chocolate
  5. Create a present for the parents
  6. Make gift wrap
  7. Read a Christmas story together
  8. Go for a walk to see Christmas lights and decorations
  9. Decorate the tree in the front yard
  10. String popcorn and cranberry garlands
  11. Create pomanders (cloves stuck into oranges)
  12. Write a Christmas wish list
  13. Celebrate with a dayhome party including the parents
  14. Bake a Yule Log
  15. Drink hot apple cider

With My Own Children:

  1. Pick out a tree together
  2. Decorate the tree
  3. Decorate the house
  4. Put up our Christmas lights
  5. Pick a gift for Daddy
  6. Wrap Daddy's gift
  7. Eat a candy cane
  8. Watch a Christmas movie (A Christmas Carol, The Grinch, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, A Christmas Story ...)
  9. Visit Candy Cane Lane
  10. Go see Santa
  11. Attend the Festival of Trees
  12. Got to the WISE Winter Fair
  13. See the Nutcracker Ballet
  14. Go carolling, or take in a choir concert
  15. Bake cookies for Santa
  16. Put out Santa's cookies and milk
  17. Read The Night Before Christmas

Happy Advent!

 

 

 

Snow!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on November 20, 2015 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

This was our first week of snow that stayed on the ground this season. The kids were all very excited! As soon as we finished snack, we headed outside.

I am still so happy that I took the time in 2014 to organize and determine which toys and materials would be most helpful for outside use. Here, the guys are using small shovels and trowels to scrape snow off surfaces.

Even though there isn't much snow quite yet, they still had a great time. We all can't wait for more snow to fall! The boys want to make snowmen, I want us to try snow angels, and on the small table in the back I have set up a board that I hope will turn into a small sledding hill; we will see!

 

Another Birthday!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on October 23, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Today we celebrated Lilly's second birthday here at Sunshine Dayhome. She was greeted at the door when she arrived with this sign, under our daily menu.

Lilly was having a hard time transitioning into care here, so I was very happy when today she seemed a bit more comfortable! She is sitting in front of her cupcake, waiting to blow out her candles as we all finished singing Happy Birthday to her. Usually we bake a cake ourselves here together, but for this little one her parents wanted to be engaged and so sent in some special birthday cupcakes.

I make a small toy or gift for each child on their special day, and for Lilly I chose to make this little peg doll. I adore peg dolls because of their sturdy design, open-ended play value, and the simple beauty they offer. Happy 2nd birthday, Lillian!

Fall Leaves

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on October 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

It's always so much fun piling, throwing, and crunching leaves! We went for a leaf walk this week, and also crunched them, made heaps, buried each other, and tossed them up into the air. Back at the house, every child grabbed a rake and we tackled the front yard.

The children really enjoyed engaging in this meaningful work, as well as jumping in our leaf piles and helping stuff two huge bags with leaves. A child's work is play, and when that play combines with necessary tasks of daily living, the children are able to grow and develop while learning and practicing valuable life skills.

When we headed inside, it was time for a calming lunch and nap. Kaliana was home on Thursday, and she wanted to lead the children through their pre-nap story. It was a treat to watch the children gathered round, and listening so attentively to my bright oldest child!

 

Harvest Time

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 24, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

This is the most gorgeous fall I can remember; there are still red flowers on the scarlet runner beans adorning our living teepee in the garden! We have been very busy harvesting the garden and preparing for the winter to come. The children are quite curious about this, and have been eagerly participating in every step along the way. This is Kali and Lilian, gathering the last of the pumpkins.

*Picture coming soon*

I like trying new things around the dayhome, and so we also gathered yet more apples and I cut them, then strung them to make this garland. If they dry quickly and well, we will have them for snack next week; if not (and they become too dusty) we will simply enjoy watching the light filter through the stars in their centres.

Here are my young autumn beauties fresh from a seasonal walk, festive and bright with the decorations this season.

Baking the Acorn Bread

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 18, 2015 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

So even after all of that effort, our flour needed more processing! It was blended in the blender, ground in the food mill, and finally - pulverised with hammers (definitely the boys' favourite part!).

Finally, finally, this acorn flour was ready! It took hours of work and many steps, and here it is: one cup of fragrant, gorgeous flour. The boys are pros at baking bread, as we do it weekly, and I decided to also bake a batch of whole wheat bread using the same recipe, so we could do a taste test at snack time.

The bakers are working their magic . . .

And here, at last, is our acorn bread! It is the darker slice. It had a richer, more woodsy flavor; still mid enough to be enjoyable, and definitely with a denser crumb and chewier texture. This outdoor scavenging and baking adventure has officially been deemed a success!

 

 

 

Acorns!

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 11, 2015 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I love living in Canada because of how the seasons change, and the gifts and opportunities each one affords us. This week, the children noticed acorns on the grounds when we were on a walk, so we decided to set a date to return, armed with baskets, and begin collecting. Last year, we created acorn snakes and jingly bells with these free, natural delights; this year we will turn some into bracelets and use others for - acorn flour!

 

The children listened very well, and stayed on the sidewalk as I requested. I was quite impresses because nobody popped an acorn into their mouth. The youngest children liked shaking the acorns around their baskets, and collecting and then dumping, while the older ones were intent on finding as many of the biggest and best acorns that they could.

 

We set off home with our treasures, and bagged them up to send with families. The others I baked at a low temperature to aid in the cracking, and then we set about the laborious task of cracking open the hard acorns. A hammer or rock worked best, and it turned out that just Kaliana and Kai chad the strength and motor control to break their shells, though Ben and even Nixon can open the shells once they have cracked.

 

When we tired of shelling acorns, it was time to boil them, to take out the tannins. To shorten the process, it is recommended to chop the up a bit, which I did with blender. Boil and strain, boil and strain, repeat! Finally, the acorn pieces were ready for baking. Long and low does the trick, to avoid burning the meat of the nut. When they were fully roasted, I tried a taste: delicious! They had such a mid flavor that I wondered if perhaps I had over-boiled them; next year I may do that step only once, or skip it all together. Finally, I ground up the crisp bits some more in the blender, and we will process these last shards once more in the grain mill (think repurposed coffee grinder) before baking it into bread next Wednesday - check back for an update! This final photo is the toasted acorns before grinding.

Fall Rain Walk

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on September 4, 2015 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

This one short week has brought so many changes. The biggest is that Kaliana and Kai are now both in grade school, full time! I am proud and happy about this, of course, and also feeling a little sad and confused (how did that happen? Weren't they just toddlers, like, the other day??). Here they are, set to depart for their first full day of school this year.

 

The days are different now, with them gone and fall suddenly upon us. Isn't it remarkable how last week on Thursday, it was 26 degrees and we were sweating in the sun, while this week on Thursday, we were all wearing mittens as we headed off to the park? The seasons are changing abruptly, and I am bringing back our fall schedule. We have morning snack inside, and only after it has warmed up a bit do we head back out. If the weather is nice enough to dine without mittens, we will still enjoy lunch and snack outside, but those days are numbered! Today when we ventured out, it was raining.

 

Having two big kids off to school means more umbrellas for the rest of us, as you can see from these four happy ducklings! We walked around the block, examining our umbrellas closely and trying to stay together, before dashing off into the park. I really savor how it feels to be outside - wonderful - as compared to how it looked outside - awful and cold. We all perked up with a nice fall shower today.

 

Lemon Loaf

Posted by sunshine-dayhome on July 24, 2015 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This week has been a bit slow and rainy, which is sometimes a nice change of pace in our busy, hot summers. Throughout the school year, we bake each week, but in the summer we are often outside more and baking less. Because of that, I decided that when we do cook together, we will make double batches so we can always have fresh baking without preservatives to look forward to - and this week, it was lemon loaf.

Apparently I haven't baked with Ben very often, because he was ecstatic about the whole thing! He was so excited about each step: adding the eggs, mixing the butter and sugar together, even pouring in the vanilla was a reason to celebrate. He kept saying, "Wow, I can't believe it! Wow!". He was also really using his vocabulary as he commented on the batter as it formed: "It looks really smooth . . . And look, now it's white with the milk! It's going yellow again . . . and now it's all lumpy!". It was quite fun to bake with someone who was so engaged and exhilarated by the whole process.

We made one loaf the traditional way, and I poured the glaze on top when it was cooked, and the other loaf? We mixed in some frozen blueberries for an extra hit of colour and good fruit flavor. The boys gobbled it up with cream cheese for snack, and declared it delicious.