Metamorphosis!

A few weeks ago we found these cute little fellas on the dill.  So we brought them in and continued to feed them fresh dill every day.  After a few days, they each formed a chrysalis.

A few weeks ago we found these cute little fellas on the dill. So we brought them in and continued to feed them fresh dill every day. After a few days, they each formed a chrysalis.

A couple of weeks later, one of the butterflies came out of the chrysalis.

A couple of weeks later, one of the butterflies came out of the chrysalis.

At first they pump their wings to dry them.  We let our butterfly open all the way up and then took him outside to release.

At first they pump their wings to dry them. We let our butterfly open all the way up and then took him outside to release.

It was a beautiful black swallowtail.

It was a beautiful black swallowtail.

The kids loved watching the little guy get ready to fly for the first time.

The kids loved watching the little guy get ready to fly for the first time.

Metamorphosis is one of the many amazing things the kids have discovered in the garden. We plant a row of dill and fennel with parsley and flowers to attract caterpillars to watch. It’s an amazing science lesson.

Find a garden and look for some magic, I know you will find some. 🙂

Guest Post-Andrea Pommer

I have found a kindred spirit on the internet. She’s a home daycare provider in Indiana that gardens with her kids too! I have been so excited to find a handful of other people who have a passion for teaching their kids to grow food. Andrea has been so supportive and helpful to me as I started this blog. Now she is sharing a post with us. I’m so excited for you to read it, check it out!

Kids and Worms; The Perfect Mix for the Garden
wormsandkids1

Over here at my daycare home, we love calling ourselves ‘urban farmers’, but honestly, what is a farm without animals? Though we have been expanding our gardens year by year, we have not yet added those rabbits and chickens that we long for. However, while we wait for the right time for ‘real livestock’, our animal of choice is…WORMS!

Making or buying a worm bin and getting it established is a perfect way to include kids in the garden. And here are some reasons why:

1. Kids. Love. Worms.

2. Worm castings are an incredible addition to your garden beds. Filled with nutrients and beneficial microbes, the castings help your plants grow big, strong, and more able to fend off pests and diseases.

3. Kids get to see how compost works, and how plants come full circle–veggie scraps become nutrient rich compost that then helps grow new seeds into new plants.

4. Worms are a commitment, but an easy one. Kids will be introduced to taking care of ‘livestock’ on a tiny, low-risk scale.

5. Did I mention; kids love worms!!!

wormsandkids2

Though there are simple plans online for making your own bin, we took the easy, albeit more expensive route, and purchased a ready-made bin. Since the bin came with everything we needed (except the worms, which we ordered separately), it was less intimidating for us to give this whole worm thing a try.

Now that we are quickly gaining knowledge about the workings of a worm farm, I feel more confident that we could definitely make one from scratch.

There are some days we go all day without even checking on our worms, but inevitably each afternoon someone will want to have a peek, dig their hands gently into the bedding, and pull out a healthy worm or two. We feed them once or twice a week (too much food is a bad thing, we discovered, as it will attract lots of mites), we make sure the bedding is moist but not soaked, and for the most part, we leave them be to silently work.

Our first harvest of worm castings will not be ready until late August at the earliest, as it takes a few months to get a good enough amount to collect. At that point, we will be able to harvest a new batch every couple of months. What we don’t use in the cold months on our indoor plants will come in handy next spring when our soil is ready for some nutrition and new planting!

To see how we faced and defeated our first challenge, click here. It was really not so hard!

Guest Post written for Little Sprouts Learning Garden by Andrea Pommer
Andrea blogs at http://www.littlebigharvest.blogspot.com

Brave Heart Award

I am honored to be nominated by http://dazzlingwhimsy.com/ for the Brave Heart Award. Dazzling Whimsy is a wonderful blog taking a look at life through photographs that are taken from a pure and true view. I was touched to be nominated for this award as I don’t see myself as a brave heart. But it’s humbling that someone else does. Thank you Dazzling Whimsy! It’s quite an honor.
• Tell us a little bit about your blog. Who designed it? 
The Theme is a free one from WordPress. And I have made a few small changes to make it a little bit personal.
• What is the title and description of your blog? Little Sprouts Learning. A journey with my daycare kids and me through this thing we call life.
• Who is your intended audience? Anyone who works with kids, or is interested in kids, or gardening.
• How did you come up with the title of your blog? It’s the name of my home daycare. I have tried to garden with them for the past almost 20 years, but never had much success. I always had the dream of what we are doing now, and after we’ve had the name nearly 18 years, we are finally becoming what I’ve always wanted.
• Give us an interesting fun fact about your blog. I think my situation is unique in working with kids in such a wide range of ages.
• What other blogs do you own and what makes them alike? This is my only blog.
• Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? The only talents I have are writing and a unique gift with children. I connect with them on some other level. My hobbies include gardening, cooking, junking, and reading.
• What can we expect from you in the future? You can learn along with me and I get better at this life gig.
• Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers/bloggers? Read others blogs. You learn so much!
• Before you go, could you share a snippet from your blog? What have we tried in our garden at Little Sprouts that has failed? A LOT! We are learning the key to gardening success is never give up and keep trying.
I would like to nominate the following blogs for the Braveheart Award:
1. The (Not Always W) Blog
http://lazywmarie.com/
She is a delightful soul who bears her heart on her blog with humor and grace. She has inspired me greatly!
Snippet:
A hobby farming, book reading, coffee drinking, romance having girl in Oklahoma. Soaking up the particular beauty of every day. Blogging on the side. Welcome to the Lazy W!
2. Schneiderpeeps
http://www.schneiderpeeps.com/
A fun blog loaded with great information to share with us.
Snippet:
This blog is an attempt to help chronical our days, share information about things we enjoy and are learning about, and encourage others to try new things. Please be aware that even though this blog is anchored in our family life, it will never be about our entire life. First of all, no one wants to look at pictures of dirty dishes in my sink…believe me, they’re there! Also, only someone who is living in an alternate universe would believe that there’s no fussing, complaining or fighting that goes on over there. It happens…every day…with all of us…did I mention every day? I try really hard to just focus on the positives of our lives.
3. Money Saving Queen
http://www.moneysavingqueen.com/
Sarah Roe shares money saving techniques and honest truths about navigating life with grace and style that I am in awe of!
Snippet:
Sarah Roe discovered the art of couponing in 2005 when her son was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies and the rising cost of medications and food made it difficult to feed her own family. By 2007, Sarah began teaching coupon workshops in Tulsa, Oklahoma and founded Tulsa’s Coupon Queen, LLC.

The rules are to answer the above questions, post the award, link back to who gave it to you and nominate others.

I Was Nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! :)

A big thank you to the http://squooze.wordpress.com/ for nominating my blog the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check out their blog. It’s amazing!
I started blogging about my daycare because I’ve written a book to inspire other child care providers to garden with their kids and a publisher told me I needed to be blogging if anyone would ever be interested in publishing it. Blogging is a fun creative outlet for me but learning the ins and outs of it has been challenging. I have met some other bloggers that are awesome.

Here are 7 facts about me:

1. I love Jesus with all my heart and strive every day to follow Him.
2. I want to inspire other people to do great things with the kids in their lives.
3. I love lots of kinds of music and it speaks to my soul.
4. I am very sarcastic and willful, but my main goal is to be in God’s will for my life.
5. I believe there is nothing more important than children because they are our future.
6. I have struggled to learn to cook and garden my whole life and now I am finally learning more things forward than backwards. 
7. I have the best family in the world. My husband is AMAZING and my daughter is AWESOME!

… and here are the blogs I nominate…

http://reddirtramblings.com/ A fellow Oklahoman who is an experienced and excellent gardener and is kind and helpful to newbies. She wrote an awesome book called the 20/30 Something Gardening Guide and it is amazing!
http://gardeningjones.com/blog/ A very kind gardener/blogger with lots of advice and experience whose website I refer to often to get tips on growing a specific thing. There is a wealth of knowledge there.
http://gardenofeady.com/ An inspiring blogger who has lots of valuable information to share.
http://preschool4seasons.wordpress.com/ The first blogger I found that was a fellow child care provider who gardens with their kids. She made me realize I’m not alone in this adventure.
http://zerowastechef.com/ An amazing blog about cooking and reducing waste, something I am passionate about as well. We are kindred spirits in that regard. She has tons of useful information to share for taking baby steps toward a less wasteful lifestyle.
http://www.littlebigharvest.blogspot.com/ An amazing blogger who has helped and encouraged me in starting this blog. She has an amazing family childcare and gardens with her kids as well. Connecting with people whose passions are like yours is such a blessing!

Here are the guidelines for the award:
1.Thank and link the person who nominated you.
2.List the rules and display the award.
3.Share seven facts about yourself.
4.Nominate other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5.Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Let Freedom Ring!

Since today is the 4th of July, I want to tell you that I love the USA! We are so blessed to live in this country and I am so grateful! For every man and woman who has sacrificed so this country can be free, I am grateful! Whether it was soldiers who fought in war to keep our country free, or someone like Susan B. Anthony who helped get women the right to vote, or the Freedom Riders who stood up for human rights, or the founding fathers of our country who wrote the Declaration of Independence, I am GRATEFUL! For every person who has gone before me to pave the way for the life we now enjoy, I am grateful. God Bless America!

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The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814
Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Burnout…What Does it Mean?

Child care is a job with one of the highest rates of burn out. Why? It is hard work, long hours, and little pay. Why do people do it then? I know that I do it because it’s my passion. I feel that every child deserves a great place to be. I feel that just because they were born into this world, they deserve to be built up, nurtured, and loved. Many other providers I know feel the same way. Most of us are in it to love kids, and no other reason.
Burnout comes from years of not feeling appreciated or cared about by the parents whose children we care for. Picking up late, not paying on time, and not bringing needed supplies are some ways to show disrespect. We have a life outside of childcare and when a parent is consistently late, it feels like they don’t respect care. Or how would it feel if every payday you had to go into your boss’ office and BEG them for your check? Some providers have to deal with that every week. Or I forgot my check book. You’ll have to wait until next week. Do their bill collectors wait? Mine don’t.
It means a lot to a provider when a parent says a kind word. “I appreciate what you do for my child. I see that you work hard. I want to make sure I pay you on time. Wow, this is a cool activity. I love that you do such and such with my child every day. They are learning a lot.” Anything that can encourage the provider is worth saying. It’s nice to be appreciated. I have always had a lot of parents who went out of their way to say they appreciate me and it means a lot.
As providers, how do we avoid burn out?
The #1 rule in life is take care of yourself so you can take care of others. There is no avoiding this. You HAVE to make time for you. You have to do the things you love every now and then. You whole life cannot be work.
Relax! Do some stretches, meditate, pray, write, or read something you love.
Take care of your body! Get enough sleep, get exercise, and eat healthy foods. My grandpa always said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” It’s always worked for me.
Learn how to say no. Don’t let people talk you into doing things you don’t want to do. If you know it will make you miserable or you just can’t do it, just say no.
Put down the electronics for a few minutes each day and take a technology break.
Be creative and let your creativity flow. It’s a great way to center yourself.
Be social regularly. It helps you be fulfilled emotionally. You desperately need it when you give so much.
Laugh, a LOT. Make other people laugh. My kids crack me up and I enjoy those moments. I also joke around with them and make them laugh. It makes getting barfed on or leaky diarrhea diapers not so end of the world.
Be accountable. Make sure you are doing your best to be reliable for your parents, they need someone they can depend on. And if you make mistakes, own up to them. Everyone makes them, but an “I’m sorry” goes along way.
Breath. Take a minute to breathe deeply and center yourself.
Talk to others who understand. Networking is an important part of staying in a mindset of loving your job.
Treat yourself. What is something you really like? A new pair of jeans, a piece of chocolate, or a long drive with the windows down? Whatever you like, let yourself have a little indulgence.
Take a Vacation! I see providers all the time who say, I don’t take vacations, my parents need me. They do need you. As long as you give them plenty of notice, it’s better for them to have to find care for a week and have you come back recharged than for you to burn out and quit childcare completely. Or for you to try to provide care when you are miserable.
Something I heard from Tom Copeland, an advocate for family childcare has stuck with me for years. I use it to gauge situations in my life that need adjusting. It works for any job. These are your three choices in life. Be happy. If you are not happy, then change what you are doing. If you cannot change it, then quit. If you cannot quit, then BE HAPPY! There is nothing else. Think about that.
And finally, should you be doing childcare or whatever job you’re burned out in? Maybe it’s not the job for you or maybe you need a change. If you find yourself dreading Monday every Sunday and a vacation doesn’t help that, maybe it’s time to look at doing something else. If you are miserable, everyone else around you probably is too. And if you work with kids, that’s especially not a good thing. So think about something else you might like to do. If you decide to keep doing what you’re doing, LOVE it! And give it your all. Be blessed!