Exuberant Exploration

“The drive to protect our children is profound and easily can lead to cleansing their lives of challenge and depth. Early childhood is a time when children begin to live in the world and hopefully learn to love the world. They can’t do this when fenced off from the messy richness of life to live in a world of fluorescent lights and plastic toys, two dimensional glowing screens, and narrow teaching instruction. Scrubbing and polishing raw experience in the name of health and safety scrapes away the natural luster and meaning of childhood. Many of the wonders and joys of childhood that fuel the best in our adult selves are birthed in the unavoidable messes, bumps, bruises, and tears that come with exuberant exploration.” (Greenman, 2005b, p. 7)

Gluten Free Dairy Free Birthday Pancakes!

Birthdays are a source of great memories as a child, a day to feel special, a day to know that you are important, a day to celebrate a person! Birthdays are a wonderful self-esteem booster for anyone! I love birthdays!

Now when I think about a birthday party I often think of over indulgence, grand productions and a focus on stuff rather than the sweet child in which we are celebrating! Why such a disconnect from what is important?

In my home and in my childcare I try to focus on those wonderful things about a birthday that elicit that happy feeling inside. About a year ago I started a little tradition. Instead of a big colorful cupcake or cake (don’t get me wrong we do that too sometimes) we start the day off with special birthday pancakes! The children help me make them and we try different recipes for each birthday. Sometimes we add a colorful fruit to the pancake, sometimes we add a few sprinkles, but we always have candles!

This year I have a couple of kiddos who do not do gluten or dairy. Since pancakes are pretty much just gluten and dairy I thought that we would miss out on our birthday pancakes when the little one’s special day came. But I did a little searching and we tried a new recipe that was a huge hit! The tradition lives on!

Another part of the fun on these special days is that while we consume our tasty pancakes we go around the table and each child says something that they like about the birthday child, sometimes the responses are pretty generic, “I like his monster truck shirt.” But other times they are wonderful and sweet and make me remember why I love working with kids, ” I love it when we play trains together and he lets me use the red train, we have so much fun together!”

Here is our recipe for gluten free dairy free pancakes, they were tasty!

1 cup coconut flour
1 Tbsp Stevia (we used a little less)
2 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup coconut milk
1 egg
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

We mixed it all together in no particular order, coated the pan with coconut oil and flipped when they looked ready! When baking with the kids I often pre measure and label the bowls to help with pre reading skills. The kids can usually look at the recipe and find the bowl labeled with the correct ingredient. The younger kids just love to mix!

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While We’ve Been Away!

It has been over a year since I last posted anything on Our Dandelion Wishes! I don’t know how time got away from me but I think that the busyness that is life got to me. Oh and it’s so much simpler to just post pictures to our Facebook page, much less focus on writing or detail! I love sharing with families what we do at daycare each day but I struggled with the idea of coming up with a story to go with it. Or maybe I struggled with the time aspect of actually getting a minute to sit with my laptop and create! Whatever the reason, I have decided that I’m ready to join the blogging world once again!

So much has happened in the past year! Two new houses, one big move, a new job for Rob, grad school for me and the always growing kids have kept us on our toes! Now that we are “settled” (I say that lightly because I am not sure that our life will ever truly allow for settling) I think that I want to share the fun things that we do each day and the general going-ons of our life and my life as an early childhood professional.

And because I like pictures so much I’m going to share some of the great shots I’ve taken of my kids this summer at the lake, on the boat, and just having fun!!

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The Kindest Kids I Know!

Today I am writing about something that I was no part of. I wish I was a part of it. I wish I had even thought of it, because it is truly one of the most wonderful experiences that my son has been apart of in his short little life. My sister, who is still in high school, I say this because to me it makes it even more cool, took E for the day and toured the valley performing small acts of kindness. It was a day full of good deeds, ice cream and lots of smiles.

My sister is a teacher at heart and does a tremendous job with my little guy. This day she helped him to understand what being kind means and why we might want to be kind to others. She was hands on with him as they worked on making many cards for the recipients of their kindness. They wore super hero capes all day 1.) because he’s three and he often wears a super hero cape all day 2.) because she was helping him to understand what a real life super hero is – a person who is nice and good to others – not just someone who fights bad guys.

She took pictures along the way and I am going to highlight some of their greatest moments of kindness for my readers. I hope that her acts inspire others, I know that they have inspired me, to do just one small good deed for someone random, everyone could benefit from a little happiness in their day.

He’s ready to go with Horsey by his side, cards in hand and cape secured!

10489926_759316847425002_1608633056484792327_n First stop was at the assisted living center, they asked the front desk who would most appreciate a visit & a special homemade card. Mary was delighted to have a friend! They stayed and talked and sang songs for a long time. I think we may have to visit Mary again soon, yay for new friends!994104_759316794091674_5264620480240963646_n Next they were off to the fire station, he was excited to thank these fine folks for keeping us and others safe!10540844_759316757425011_8858915723371437818_n Then to Dairy Queen because in this little mans mind the people who make the ice cream are pretty much on the same level as the people who put out fires 😉 They gave the workers at DQ a special card, they paid for the next-person-in-line’s blizzard and of course got a sweet treat for themselves!10527841_759316687425018_3269822178884240644_n I love that face!10348515_759316660758354_7373519634697507850_n After their ice-cream treat these two do-gooders headed to the humane society to volunteer. E was so concerned that the kitties didn’t have their own home with people to love on them, he wanted to build them a house. 🙂 Since little man is under 10 they couldn’t do actual volunteer work but they were lucky enough to get to brush and pet these pretty cats.10556401_759316544091699_8031080807642410269_n He wanted to take them home with him 😀10561580_759316594091694_6284576632469378608_n “They’re sooo soft.”10482227_759316624091691_5183006300187821939_n Off for some more fun at the dollar tree! These two hid dollar bills in the toy section with notes for others to find. It would have been fun to see the faces on the lucky kids who found these. 10502128_759316390758381_2061244491540831184_n 10402609_759316477425039_9041642536659807813_n 10489926_759316344091719_6590878819479069805_n Last but most definitely not least they delivered flowers to me! I felt pretty special!evflowerSuch a beautiful day full of making other peoples days better! I’m lucky and happy to have a kind and caring sister and a wonderful auntie to my kiddos who can help instill these values in my little ones!

Our Job!

our job

 

Just today I read two blog posts about parenting. The posts were similar in nature and came from a different point of view than the parenting style I particularly prescribe to. A certain viewpoint that I have come across a lot lately. Parents who feel that it is there job to prepare their child for the horrors of our world. Parents who are fed up with the supermom and attachment parenting and who want to let everyone know it. With these posts came lots of praise for the authors in the comment sections, a few amens and even a little hate for the “modern parent”. I normally would have just read on and left it at that but for some reason today I wanted to put my two cents in. So here is what I think about what I read, and the mind set about parenting that I have been coming across more often than not. The first post I read talked about how parents today need to stop trying to make childhood magical. The next hammered in the point that children should not be the center of our worlds because they won’t get that treatment as adults “in the real world.”

While my overall feeling about what I read was not a good one today I do know that these bloggers had good intentions and what they wrote helped me to reflect a bit on how I feel about parenting.

The first post about magic in childhood touched on the fact that many moms feel the need to be super mom; Pinterest posting, crafting, bento lunch making machines. There is a certain pressure in society to be perfect and do it all as a mom. My response to this is we all live and learn as parents and figure out what works best for us. If you don’t feel like setting up an art project for your kids then don’t but don’t be mad or irritated with the mom that loves doing these types of things with her little ones.  Claiming that these moms are doing harm is ludicrous! The author writes that kids don’t need trips to Disneyland or special Christmas Jammies to make childhood memorable. I agree the these things aren’t a necessity but they can be magical and wonderful too (your kid won’t grow up to be a brat if you like making holidays a big production at your house.) Yes kids will find magic in something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood, a stick, or a pretty rock. This doesn’t mean the they don’t benefit from sensory experiences and play dates. They don’t loose this magic and wonder when new and exciting things are presented to them.  They learn to experience the world in a new way. I feel that the magic grows as we expose our kids to the world around them. We are not our children’s entertainers but we are their teachers and teaching them to play with new things and new people is what we are here for.

If you would like to be the mom who takes her kids on special trips and does elf on the shelf for the entire month of December then do it! If you love this kind of thing then enjoy the magic that you see in your child’s eyes. If that’s not your cup of tea then by all means soak up that wonder when your kid finds that most wonderful rock or the perfect sized stick for whacking a tree! If you are the parent that experiences both brands of wonderment then good for you but we have to stop judging each other as parents and saying one way is better than the other. My only advice is to truly treasure your kids and don’t just push them to the side claiming that you’re fostering independence. They’re only kids for a little bit and watching and helping them grow is why we are here. That’s why I became a parent. So that I could treasure these little people and help them to grow into their best selves.

The second post is the one that really got me going and absolutely played into the last post so perfectly. A mother of two boys highlighted the idea that she does not make her kids the center of the universe because they will not get that kind of treatment in real life. She was frustrated with the way that others parent and felt that the “modern parent” puts too much emphasis on their child, coddling the child, sheltering them from “evil”and trying to protect them from failure.  I ask if we are not here to do at least that then why do we parent? I’m not saying that we are to hide them away from all of these hard feelings in life. Our children will experience failure whether we shield them from it or not, it is our job to help them come through it with grace and dignity. When your child doesn’t make the sports team (yes this still happens, as much as others claim that this is a thing of the past in our nation) are we to tell them “tough cookies, that’s life”? Or would we be helping them more by working with our child to try harder, practice more and give it another try next year?  Throwing your child to the wolves just because it’s a cruel world does not help them learn to cope, our job as parents is to help them learn to cope. Our children will only become independent members of society if we help them to be this way. Leaving a child to their own devices, always teaching that mommy and daddy are too busy for them does not teach independence in my opinion. Showing them that you can give your full attention to them at times and your full attention to other things at other times can help a child to see that they are special and important, it can teach them to give others this type of attention later in life. It will benefit their future relationships, their jobs, and how they parent later in life.

On the subject of being the center of the world; I think that everyone deserves to be the center of the world in someone’s eyes. Whether it’s your parent, your spouse, your child or even your pet you should be the most important thing to someone! I agree that kids need to be taught to be competent and strong, disappointment happens and we can help them to see that even when things are hard, we (their parents) are always a safe place for them to land. Even when life is hard my kids can come to me and my husband, where they are the center of the world! As I grow as a parent I hope that this stays true. I know that this is the type of attention and love that I received as a child and I know that my parents home is still to this day a place that my sisters and myself are some of the most important things, with the exception of grandchildren of course 🙂 . It is still my safe place to land and I intend on creating this for my children.

I think that this quote sums it all up:

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

 

Dear Tooth #2

Dear Tooth #2,

We have decided that we do not need you. Please go away! You are not my favorite tooth. That spot belongs to tooth #1, the inconspicuous little guy that came one day without warning or fuss and now holds his spot proudly on Etta’s lower gum. Tooth # 2 my daughter will be just fine without you. You and your brash entrance into this little ones mouth. Making yourself known by the pain you have inflicted upon these sweet little gums. You are not kind, nor appreciated. The screams that accompanied you throughout the night are not welcome. The 2am bath time to merely ease the pain of your arrival was not needed on this Thursday night; nor the 24hr nursing session that has been protocol since you came on the scene. Yes tooth #2 we don’t want you. So please go away now, I would like my happy gummy little girl back.

~Sincerely One Tired Mama

Here’s a recipe for homemade teething cookies, by the way these are worthless when it comes to nasty little teeth like #2.

Homemade Teething Biscuits

1 cup flour – we use whole wheat
1 cup dry infant rice cereal
1 ripe medium mashed banana (1/3 cup-I have also substituted pureed carrots and sweet potato)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water

Makes about a dozen, depending on how big of shapes you use.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. In a bowl, mix together flour, cereal and cinnamon. Add in oil, banana and water. Mix until dough comes together to form a firm, non-sticky dough. Add water or flour (1 tablespoon at a time) if necessary. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes or bars. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly brown. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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“This is the way we make huckabuck bread!”

So it’s not really huck-a-buck bread, actually I never even knew about huck-a-buck bread until I started doing a little research on baking bread with kiddos. Apparently this special bread is somewhat of a tradition in  Waldorf schools, and I can see why. We had so much fun making the bread, and eating it of course, I think I would like to make a loaf a week and incorporate it into our menus.

The bread idea, I stumbled upon one morning at 5:00 am.  I was sitting up with an infant that comes over two days a week hours before the sun rises. The little one was fast asleep and I was pounding coffee and doing my usual morning internet routine. I started to read a bit about clean eating and really got to thinking about it. We have gone through phases of more or less healthy eating in our family but lately had been on a real processed food binge. Clean eating is a simple idea and something that I could really wrap my head around so I dove in, pinning recipes and slowly making the switch to a much more whole foods approach to our eating. We have only been at it for about a week and we are phasing ourselves into it. Rob’s body may go into shock if he quits top ramen cold turkey. One of the ideas behind clean eating is making most of your foods from scratch. In comes the huck-a-buck bread.

The recipe we used is sort of an adaptation from Crafty Moms recipe but we used all whole wheat flour. The thing I loved most of all about her recipe was the song that she included. We love new songs and it helped the kids really get into kneading the bread. Also one side note. I have never made bread of any sort! So we were all beginners. I think that with practice we may get a bit better but I felt like for first timers our results were superb!

Here is the recipe but like I said we did not use bread flour, it may have been better with bread flour but we wanted it to be entirely whole grain.

Ingredients:
2 cups bread flour  Whole Wheat Flour
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup of honey (not sure I used a 1/3 of a cup since I used whatever I had left)
3 Tablespoons butter (we made our own butter too! we feel very pioneer like)
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups water
3 cups whole wheat flour

We started by mixing the yeast and the first two cups of flour together.

DSCN1673 DSCN1674Next we put the honey, butter, water and salt into a sauce pan. I heated it on the stove just long enough for the butter to melt.DSCN1676

Then we poured the warm butter mixture into the flour and mixed again, it was fun to watch the yeast bubble. DSCN1677

Next we added two cups of flour and mixed it the best we could. It says to add another 1 1/2 cups but I don’t think we added that much, it was just too thick!

Here comes the fun! Time for kneading! While we kneaded our dough we sang this song (and then all day and night after we were done kneading too!)

Chorus: It’s down with your heals and up with your hands.
This is the way you make huckabuck bread.
 
My mother and father have just gone to bed.
They left me alone to make huckabuck bread.
Chorus
 
My sister and brother have just gone to bed.
They left me alone to make huckabuck bread.
Chorus
 
My kitty and doggy have just gone to bed.
They left me alone to make huckabuck bread.
Chorus

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DSCN1681 DSCN1683When we felt like the dough was good and kneaded we put it all back together, placed it in a lightly oiled pan with a towel over the top and then into the warm stove to let it rise. I let it rise for an hour and a half then punched it down and formed the dough into two loaves and back into the oven to rise for another 45 mins. When the dough had nearly doubled I turned the oven to 375 and let the bread bake for 35-40 minutes. (The recipe called for about ten minutes longer but when I checked on it they were definitely done at 35 minutes.)

Viola! Bread!

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Aloha! and mangos…

We recently got back from the trip of a lifetime to the beautiful island of Maui! As I posted before our trip had it’s challenges but overall it was wonderful! We played and swam, and snorkeled and explored! E loves the ocean and has absolutely no fear of water! We saw mama and baby humpback whales, dolphins, sea turtles and many beautiful sunsets. I think we brought back half of the beach in sand and took some great naps oceanside! We were lucky enough to travel with an amazing photographer who would be super ticked if I posted any pictures before she edited them so unfortunately I will just have to put up silly smart phone pictures until said photographer gets to work. IMG_0565 IMG_0507IMG_0547

IMG_0608We brought back some fun souvenirs but by far the best item that we brought home was a wonderful little book called Too Many Mangos. Written by Tammy Paikai and illustrated by Don Robinson this book is all about sharing. I love children’s books but tend to gravitate to the classics. It is rare that I find a brand new book that I absolutely love! This book I absolutely love! In the book Kama and Nani set out to share their grandpa’s Mangos with the neighbors and along the way their neighbors end up returning the favor by sharing special items of their own. The book has beautiful illustrations and a simple story line helping young children try to understand the importance of sharing. It also brings in a bit of the Hawaiian culture and languagewith words like Mahalo and Aloha. We have had so many wonderful conversations about this book already; discussing sharing, Hawaii, climate, plants, and of course Mangos for snack! I recommend this book to all of my teacher and mom friends and anyone who just likes good children’s books. 😉

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Traveling with kids…is HARD!

Our family recently went on a major vacation! A first for the Cameron clan. Our first time traveling with kids! A first time to Hawaii (for all of my family other than myself). First time on an airplane for the little ones. First time in the ocean! First time snorkeling! It was by far a trip of firsts. And with these brand new experiences came some realizations for me as a parent and some very true admiration for other parents who vacation frequently with their little ones.

To start our week and a half long adventure we packed our little crew up into the car and drove the nine hours to Seattle. We have driven a lot with the kids and this was nothing new. On long car rides I generally pump and bottle feed so not to make the trip even longer. Little miss does not necessarily love the bottle  and my pump is a 20$ hand pump that is not always the most reliable, so that adds a bit of a challenge to the trip but nothing we can’t handle. We also broke down and bought a dvd player for the car for this trip. Generally I hate TVs in cars. I think that a child doesn’t need to be plugged in for a trip to the grocery store, or zoned out for a thirty minute car ride to grandmas. But in all honesty this made our tri-state trek a whole lot easier! Plus E was elated! I don’t know if he was more excited to go to Hawaii or to watch movies in the car! Another little addition to the 5 of us loaded into our car and headed west was the fact that Miss Kylee drove us all the way through MT!!!!! She gets her drivers license in April and needs to build her hours. It was a bit nerve wracking for all, but she did fabulous and we made it to the ID state border in one piece. 🙂

The truly challenging, patience testing, superhuman task while traveling with kids is getting your kids, your luggage, carry-ons, backpacks, and carseats through security and to your gate! Of course baby in the front pack is step number one. It adds a little spice if you forget to pack your baby’s favorite wrap, we love the Moby, and have to pick one up at Walmart on your way to the airport, turns out she doesn’t love mei tai style wraps. Our three year old inevitably wanted to walk and carry his own stuff and then shortly after needed to be held, immediately! Checking luggage is outrageous so we of course choose to only check one bag, meaning everyone had a full sized carry-on, that was fun! 🙂 Waiting in line for security went well, during nap time, with a hungry infant. E was not so sure about walking through metal detectors all alone while strange men swabbed his hands. But through all of this we  made it and quickly found a restaurant that served beer and brownies.

Our plane ride was good. Our kids did great! Minimal fussing occurred, we played with puzzles and play dough, drew pictures and used stickers. Nursed at takeoff and landing to avoid ear pain for the baby. And even took a little nap! All of this being said, it was still hard! The looks that other passengers give you when you walk past them with a three year old and an infant are brutal! Your kid makes one little noise and those around you start to grumble. We sat near a man who we overheard saying “So many kids on these flights! Next time I’m going to swim!” Please do sir because every parent on this flight is working their very hardest to try not to be a burden to people like you! Why? I don’t really know. While I believe that teaching your kids to be considerate of others is essential I also believe that its ok if my son drives his car on the chairs in the terminal, or that I change my infants diaper on my lap while flying (trust me I wish I had a better place to do it!) Also seating children first seems like an idea a man had a long time ago, a man who had never flown with his kids. Why put small children in a confined space for longer than everyone else?

You would think that once you make it to your destination vacation sinks in, and it does a little. But three year olds don’t understand time changes and hotels. The excitement of new places and new things is almost too much, naps are hard and all of that build up of the big trip and the fun leads to some serious meltdowns! Once you are feeling settled, and have figured out naps on the beach and how to sleep past 5 am it’s time to go home.

Prior to our trip I read and researched a bit on how to make travel with kids easy and carefree! A lot of the tips were typical; pack snacks, have activities, take breaks to stretch… While these are all great ideas and very true, no one ever says that although you may prepare until you’re blue in the face, traveling with kids is HARD! You can’t prepare for the blowout diaper that happens on the way to the airport that you have to change in the parking garage and leave the soiled clothes in your car to rot for a week. You can’t prepare for the fact that your three year old may loose his mind the first night of vacation (and every night after that) at bedtime and declare that he needs to go home! You can’t prepare for turbulent planes and tired kids. All of these things are just life when you’re at home. Meltdowns happen, blowout diapers happen, tired kids happen. I manage these things everyday, no big deal. Vacation amplifies these things!

We truly had a wonderful time on our vacation! I will post about all of the beautiful, happy, excited moments that we had. I would not trade one second of our trip, because all of our crazy, hard, sad, happy, fun times made our trip what it was. I just wanted to be real and honest and as I said before congratulate those who travel with young ones frequently! You are amazing! While I emphasized how hard it was I know that it’s all part of being a parent, and I love being a parent! So while traveling with kids is hard, and will be hard no matter how well prepared you are, it’s not impossible! It is worth it! The memories are irreplaceable!IMG_0514

 

 

 

Polar Express Pajama Party!

This post is a bit late but with all of the craziness surrounding the holidays I’ve had a hard time getting on here and sharing what we’ve been up to. Before Christmas we had a wonderful Polar Express Pajama Party! We made hot cocoa dough/snow, decorated a gingerbread house, ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate and of course watched… Mickey Mouse Twice Upon a Christmas! We had some technical difficulties with Polar Express and when the kids were given the option of another movie they jumped all over Mickey Mouse (I think my child may be addicted to Mickey Mouse, it must be the ears ;)) While I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t watch Polar Express to tie it all together the kids didn’t care one lick. Polar Express is kind of scary and a little confusing to a three-year-old, heck my thirty-year-old husband had a hard time following it! The day was a success and while most days me and my kids stay in our pajamas until about 11:00 anyways there is something pretty cool about being in your pjs all day long. (check out the cute invites I made as well :)) 
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