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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Family Time and Game Night go Hand in Hand

Spending time with my family is very important to me.  Sometimes it can be hard to find the time between working full time, my part time job and blogging but I always make sure to fit in that quality time we deserve together.  I never want to be remembered as the parent who was to busy and I never want to regret missing out on their lives.  It can also be hard to pull my little ones away from the Ipads and video games.  One sure way to get them interested is game night!

I am happy to say they LOVE board games.  B has such a competitive streak and GM is following suit.  It has been a great way to teach them about being a good winner and not being happy for others when they don't win. 

We were very fortunate to receive a copy of Hasbro's Monopoly Junior to review.

The kids were so excited when it arrived and couldn't wait to play it.  Even though GM is still too young to really understand the game he had a great time rolling the dice and moving the pieces.  It has actually helped to teach him how to count.  It is so great hearing him count each move.  I like that the money is only $1 bills which makes the counting easy for both kids.

B has taken a lot of pride in being able to read the cards on her own.  The rules of the game are very straight forward and easy for her to understand.  The game is very easy to setup.  This is a really great game for young kids and should definitely be included on your Christmas shopping list;) 


I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Enjoying the Sounds of the Holidays!

Where has this year gone?  I look out my window and see all the snow and it floors me that Christmas is 22 days away!  With the shopping and decorating that comes with the season, comes the wonderful songs that talk about the joy of Christmas.

In our house (as I'm sure yours as well), we have a lot of favorite songs and the little ones will often ask to hear them over and over and over again;)

I wanted to share some of our faves and would love to hear yours too.

https://play.spotify.com/user/12166872467/playlist/7KShkttvUvwa2qvwI0tdNX

We have a blast dancing around the house listening to our playlist on our Monster Superstar High Definition Wireless Bluetooth Speaker.  We love our speaker.  Our desktop is downstairs in our basement and we can bring our speaker up to our main floor and still hear all  the songs we have saved.  It is awesome!  (Great gift for the hard to shop for person in your family).

Hope this helps puts you in the Christmas spirit!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bumblebean Holiday Giveaway!

Header_4_lighter This year we're participating in an awesome Bumblebean Holiday Giveaway that we'd love to share with you all! Bumblebean is the destination for unique brands for moms and kids. They've put together a special holiday giveaway and scavenger hunt for parents to learn more about these great brands. You will have the chance to win one of three Bumblebean bundles with up to 35 prizes in each prize pack! They'll be giving away over $5,000 worth of top baby and kids items. You're invited to be part of this amazing holiday giveaway and join in the Bumblebean fun!

How it Works

  • Giveaway will run from November 20th - December 20th.
  • Entering is easy, just click the button below to go to the entry page with full instructions.
  • 3 lucky winners will receive a bundle prize pack with 35+ hand-selected items!
  • You may also enter the "find the bean" scavenger hunt to earn extra chances to win! 3x a week we will hide the Holiday bean on Bumblebean.com. Visit this entry page on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the new CLUE to find the hidden Holiday bean! When you find the bean, make sure to enter your answer (the link to the web page you found the bean on) in the form below to earn your extra chances to win. Clues will also be posted on Facebook so make sure to like Bumblebean.
  • Open to U.S. residents only.
  • Click on the button below to enter and see all the cool prizes! Check them out!
 

REMEMBER, the more points you earn the better chance you have to win! The entry page link is below. LIKE Bumblebean on Facebook to see updates and who wins!


sign up blue-2

Monday, November 17, 2014

A childcare crisis lies on the horizon in Ontario

 
The Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario (CICPO) warns that a childcare crisis is brewing in Ontario, if the provincial government implements Bill 10 - The Child Care Modernization Act - without first making major amendments. This Bill, which was written with the intent of modernizing the regulations for childcare in Ontario, continues to be criticized by many parents and professionals, especially Independent Childcare Providers (ICPs).

Jen Peters-Hughes, a Milton based home daycare provider states: “The intent of the bill is good, but the actual content is counter-productive. It needs to be reviewed and revised before going through.”

Hundreds of people have attended rallies in recent weeks, in places such as Oakville, Burlington, Guelph, and Ottawa. Another rally is planned for Monday, November 17th at Queen’s Park in Toronto from noon until 2pm.

Currently, an ICP may care for five children under the age of 10 years, plus their own, with no restrictions on age.

If passed, Bill 10 would change this to allow a maximum of five children under the age of 13 years, including your own up to the age of six years, with a maximum of two under the age of two years (including your own). Although a transition period will likely be given, ultimately, at some point in 2015, children will be terminated from care, and spaces will need to remain unfilled because of the new stricter regulations.

Melanie Belletrutti is a mother of three children aged 9 months, 3 and 5 years. Finding affordable daycare for their children is critical to their ability to maintain a two-income household. In a letter to Liz Sandals, minister of Education, Belletrutti wrote: “Changing the ratio of children for independent child care providers is fixing something that is not broken. Nearly 850,000 children in Ontario attend care in a home-based environment and the number of recent deaths in an independent environment amounts to an infinitesimally small percentage. There are likely more children that die in the care of their own parents each year than the number of daycare related deaths that have happened in the last few years in this province. This is NOT an indication of a broken system and ratio-to-provider issue. The vast majority of independent providers DO follow current regulations and are upstanding providers. Better regulation and higher fines would be a better deterrent to shady daycares where these deaths have happened.”

Bill 10 redefines a “child” as a person under the age of 13 years, and therefore requires providers to count them in their maximum of 5 children until their 13th birthday. This means many 10 to 12 year olds will be given notice, as providers will likely give priority to keeping full-time spaces filled, rather than the part-time before & after school income. The concern is that while legal for these young people to be left home alone, many parents feel they are not ready for that yet on a daily basis. The result will be unsupervised pre-teens, if parents are unable to find before & after school and summer care.

The regulations contained in Bill 10 will also require a person to count their own children in the maximum of 5 children, up to the age of 6 years. Brianne Collecchio is an independent childcare provider in Guelph, Ontario. She currently looks after five children plus her own daughter. When I asked her what she thought about Bill 10, she shared, “The children in my care have become like family to me, as have their parents. If Bill 10 passes as it is currently written, I would have to terminate one of my families and raise my prices. I would be absolutely devastated to have to break up my childcare family and I know all the children in my care would be heartbroken.”

Bill 10 as written will have consequences such as people feeling they have no choice but to have a smaller family than they really desire, for providers to raise their rates, and for many providers to stop doing home daycare and look for employment elsewhere, or even go on welfare (as I’ve already heard from at least one single mom). Some are predicting rates will go up as much as 20 to 40%.

Brianne said, “I plan to have another child in the next year or two and this means I would have to reduce the number of children I care for to three. In order to make enough money to stay in business I would have to charge almost $300/week for one space, raising my rates by over 60%. I could not reasonably expect any of my families to agree to this astronomical increase in rates and would therefore have to close my doors and give up the dream I have been so lucky to be living for the last four years.”

Julia Dewing from Ottawa, Ontario studied to achieve a Bachelor of Science and then a Masters and gained a promising, $60,000 per year, very flexible, stress-free, and enjoyable position as an Environmental Planner. In the past year she decided to not return to her career following her maternity leave. She walked away from a very comfortable career to enter a completely different world which, for some, would only mean very little pay, more tiring labour, and many more hours. But to her, this new world means raising her daughter and creating a loving day family to raise along with her.

When Julia presents to the MPPs at the Standing Committee on Monday, this is part of what she plans to say: “When I decided to not return to work and take a few kids into my care, I planned to stay small at first, with just two other toddlers alongside mine. My husband and I purchased a home that would allow for a bright, main-floor daycare space. I took various courses and workshops in order to learn how to run a safe and lawful independent home daycare. I have now signed on two families to begin care in the New Year. Everything is all set except for the fact that if this Bill passes without amendments, I will have let go of one of these families and only take one child into my care. This would cause me to run my program for approximately $4.20 an hour, before accounting for any of my overhead costs. My family and I cannot afford to do this. Even with my two families, which I couldn’t care for according to Bill 10, I would still be working for less than minimum wage. Should I choose to grow and add a third family which would allow me to surpass the minimum wage, I would again be restricted by Bill 10, as children under 2, specifically usually around 12 months old due to the end of parental leave for most parents, are the main group of children requiring care.

In the short 6 weeks that I have been advertising my brand new home daycare, I have had 15 requests for interviews for care, for 15 infants all under the age of 15 months with an average age of 12 months. If this bill were in effect now, that would be 14 families being turned away. I have not had a single request for care for a child over the age of 2. The under-2 age group is where the demand is greatest. As a new mother and parent, before I was certain I would stay home, I contacted numerous centres and providers who all told me that they only began taking children at 18 months of age, which shows that it is already difficult to place 12 month old children under the current regulations. Those centres that do take children under 18 months old have incredibly long waiting lists and charge a premium rate of approximately $70/day. These are the types of rates that will have to be charged by ICPs in my area as well, making daycare even less affordable for parents, if this clause is not dropped.”

The government, in an attempt to make it more enticing for providers to join a privately-owned third party licensed agency, will be allowing those providers to take on a 6th child. It has been pointed out to me, that currently many insurance companies will not provide insurance for even 5 daycare children, so it may be challenging for people to obtain the proper insurance for watching six children.

Also, for those who transport children, whether it be to and from school, or to outings such as the Early Years Center and the library, many vehicles do not have room for more than five children. Some can easily handle six children, and for them, it should probably be a legal option. However, others would find it easier to walk on water than to perform such a feat and stay sane. When asked if it is tempting to join an agency to be allowed six children, instead of just five, one person commented, "I want a 6th child like I want a third nipple".

The Bill recently passed second reading at Queen’s Park. The Standing Committee on Social Policy will hear from people on Monday, November 17th, and Tuesday, November 18th from across Ontario who want to share their stories and recommendations for the bill before it becomes law. Only the first 40 individuals (parents, providers, and representatives of affected organizations) will be scheduled to speak. I just received a call on Friday morning that there was a cancellation and they would like me to present on Tuesday at 8pm.

In a letter by the Minister of Education, published in the Guelph Mercury Newspaper on Tuesday, Liz Sandals said “I encourage any interested parties to share your feedback with the committee of the Legislature that will be reviewing the Act. There are many ways to provide input to the committee – including in-person presentations, teleconferencing and videoconferencing options, as well as written submissions. All of this input will be considered by the committee to see where the Act could be strengthened.”

Although the times allocated for in-person presentations have been taken, I urge you to take a moment to send your thoughts about Bill 10 to the clerk of the committee Valerie Quioc Lim vquioc@ola.org or by phoning 416-325-7352. The deadline for written submissions is Tuesday, November 18th at 8:30pm.

Bill 10 violates parental choice. It will greatly remove the number of daycare spaces available in private home daycares. A “win” by the Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne, would be a major loss for the families of Ontario!

Laurie Hatton has been married to the same amazing (most of the time) guy, Dave, for over 30 years. They have one 20 year old daughter who is currently studying in France. Laurie is an Independent Childcare Provider in Milton, Ontario. Although technically she’s in the empty nest phase of life, it doesn’t feel like it, with five little ones still in the nest Monday to Friday. Dave and Laurie have made many wonderful memories over the years. They love to spend time at their trailer camping, and ride together on their Honda Gold Wing Motorcycle. They are Chapter Directors for the Burlington Chapter of GWRRA (ON-M). These days, when Laurie tells Dave she is looking forward to growing old with him, he often jokes “I think we already have! What’s next?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Life Messages

I have had many ups and downs in my life from bad break ups, suffering from depression, and not knowing what I want to do with my life to meeting the man of my dreams, having 2 beautiful children and standing up for what I believe in.  Throughout these times there have been mantras I would tell myself to get through the rough patches and they became part of my life message.  Every one has a life message they follow even though they may not have actually put it in to words.  Some may not have actually discovered what that message is yet. 

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful woman in my life, Laurie Goodman, who helped me and many other inspirational Canadian women put their life message down on paper.  It was a great reminder to me, why I do what I do including my blogging.  I may not blog every day, but I know when I need to get my voice out, I can through here and that you my loyal readers will still be here cheering me on. 



Not only did Laurie allow us to get our message down on paper she photographed us with our life message.  In a short 6 months she met with over 100 amazing women and allowed them to discover their message and share it with her.  Through this she "followed her goosebumps" and a fun idea turned into so much more.  The idea to turn these beautiful, inspirational sayings into a book to share with everyone!  Now did I mention that Laurie is amazing?  When she puts her mind to something, it will happen.  In the short time I have known her I knew what an awesome photographer she is (after all she is the only one my kids respond to and never give her a hard time!) but I recently found out just how inspiring she can be. 



Laurie has always been a great person to talk to.  She never judges you and will give you that ear you didn't even know you needed.  She will let you cry with her and actually make you feel good that you did instead of embarrassed about it. If you tell her you want to take a path toward something, she will be your cheerleader and check in along the way to see if the path lead you where you thought it would.  So there was no doubt in my mind that when her idea came up, that it was going to succeed because she had her own cheerleaders by her side making sure her dreams came true.  We all wanted her to succeed and many of her close friends made sure she never lost sight of that.

Life Messages has been an inspiration for me.   I have come across a few challenges over the last year and I would stop often and wonder why I was doing what I was.  Since my photo shoot with Laurie, I can look back at my picture and my message and it reminds me why.  I want to succeed in everything I do but if I don't "Dare to Begin" how can I take the first step towards success?  I want to be able to teach my children that anything is possible, they just have to take that first step to get there.



Last night was the book launch for Life Messages.  I was thrilled to be a part of this event and to meet all the life messengers.  Listening to the speakers brought me to tears as they shared their stories of hardships and how they got through them as well as their successes.  When you meet these women, you would never know the past that they endured thanks to their strong wills to survive.  When I read the stories of the other women in the book, I was shocked at how much I had in common with them.  Many of us share the same common goal and I felt a unity like never before.  It feels good to belong to this group of women.

I encourage you to share your life messages with your families, friends and strangers.  Inspiration comes from many places and it starts with you.  Thank you Laurie for letting me a part of this amazing movement and I look forward to what the future holds for you and Life Messages!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

EZ Leaps - Product review

Little Miss B started Grade 1 last week!  It is bittersweet knowing that she is growing up because I know she is just going to keep getting more independent as the years go on.  One of the things she has been dying to learn, is how to tie her own shoes.  It is a very frustrating task for a little girl like B, who is used to learning things quickly.  I hadn't figured out a good way to teach her how to do it until I came across a great little product called EZ Leaps!


B was very excited to try this out!  We put on her lace up runners right away and gave it a try.  I explained how it works and she followed my directions, step by step, and she did it!  It is good to keep in mind, that when learning to tie shoes, using laces that are flat are the best ones to train with.  We tried it with rounded laces and the tying process worked well but even when I tie them, they come loose unless we double knot them.  So to help with B's confidence, we made sure to use flat laces and now she uses her EZ Leaps tool all the time.

Here's how it works:

video

I recommend this tool for little ones who are learning to be independent.  Learning to tie your shoes is a huge step in our children's development.  It teaches patience and dexterity and is a great way for our little ones to build confidence in themselves.