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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

8 things to look for in a child care center

As some of you may know in my former life I was an Early Childhood consultant for child care providers, I've worked in early childhood class settings and directed school readiness programs. So here I am in search of a good place for my little guy. I find it very easy to forget my own expertise, but this time I'm going to share what things I looked for when searching for a home away from home for my little guy.

The first thing I looked at was how comfortable my little guy felt. I wanted something that would be somewhat familiar to him, I know this is not the norm but for us it worked out. I began attending MOPS in January and my little guy did great in the child care (which took place at a preschool). He didn't cry at all and would stay for the entire 2 hours with no problem, so I knew he felt comfortable in this environment. I started researching centers with the school where MOPS took place at the top. There were some great recommendations from friends, the internet and phone calls made it very easy to research the information needed. 

Here are my tips for looking for a good place for your little person.
1. The Feel
Don't underestimate your gut feeling or how your little one reacts when visiting the classroom. You want to feel welcomed, you want to pay close attention to the interaction between teachers and children. Are they getting at eye level to speak with the children, are the caregivers listening and aware of the children and what's happening in the classroom? These are all important things to look for.

2. Schedule
Does the classroom have a set schedule that they follow? A schedule is very important for children especially in a large group environment. Schedules allow children to know what's coming next and often results in lower behavioral issues. This one is easy to check, when you visit look for the schedule to be posted on the wall somewhere, check your watch or the clock on the wall and see if the classroom is following their schedule. Most of the time they should be right on track, give or take a few minutes. When looking at the schedule some important things to make sure are a part of the schedule are physical activities (outside play or other physical activities), small group activities, large group activities such as circle time, opportunity to explore and play (usually in centers), and personal care such as snacks, diaper changes, brushing teeth, washing hands, etc.

3. Lay Out 
Get a feel for the classroom, is it sectioned into centers or smaller learning areas such as blocks, music, library etc.? You don't want to see too much open space as this usually leads to running and more freedom to engage in aggressive or difficult behavior. Are teachers able to view kids from any area of the room?

4. Ratio of adults to kids
Various states and levels of certification have different ratios. The smaller the ratio the better especially when dealing with kids 3 and under. An ideal ratio for 2 year olds is 1:4 (1 adult to every 4 children). This is an easy question to ask. You can also ask how many children are usually in the classroom and how many staff. 

5. Consistency of caregiver
Another thing to ask is if the teachers are there permanently or will your child have different caregivers. In this case it is ideal for your child to consistently see the same people in the classroom as much as possible. Occasionally one teacher may be a floater and will go to help the classroom with more kids or  the classroom with the loudest kids. You really want at least one caregiver to be in that classroom on a permanent basis. This helps your little person to develop a relationship and trust with the caregivers. 

6. Philosophy
Each center has a philosophy or statement of how they teach. Make sure you agree with the statement of the center. Some are based on religion, certain learning skills etc. 

7. Policies
Make sure you are aware of policies especially on how teachers discipline. Also look for visiting policies, ideally you'd like a center where you can occasionally drop in to observe or check in on your little one. Another important policy to pay close attention to is their sick policy. When should you or shouldn't you take your little one. 

8. Learning / Curriculum
The classroom should follow some sort of curriculum. Make sure it covers the whole child not just focused on one area of development. Ideally an early childhood classroom uses play to teach skills, they follow the child's leads and interest and capture those learning moments during those times and activities. For example if a child is interested in cars the teachers can use cars to sort by color, count, pain with, play matching games etc. 

Each child has different needs and it's so important to have teachers who are in tune with each child and how they learn best. As a parent it's important to communicate any concerns or changes that happening in the home so teachers are aware of what children are going through and can take that into account in the classroom. For example if a child is going to be a big brother or sister teachers can incorporate books and activities to help prepare the child for this change. The teacher and parent should work as a team in helping the child learn and grow. 

Here are some other great resources for you as you look for the ideal classroom for your child.

NAEYC (National Association of the Education of Young Children) is an excellent resource for parents. You can search on their site for NAEYC accredited centers in your area. Below is a link regarding questions to ask teachers when looking for a center for your child.
http://families.naeyc.org/accredited-article/10-naeyc-program-standards

Child care Aware is another great resource for searching for your local child care resource and referral agency. You can call your local office and they are happy to help you find a center with your needs and location in mind. 
 http://www.childcareaware.org/parents-and-guardians

Hopefully these suggestions and resources will lead you to an early childhood center that will help your child feel right at home as he or she learns and grows.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Showing off our #DisneySide year 2

My little guy celebrated his 2nd Birthday with his favorite Disney characters. This party was planned from Arizona and took place in Texas. My mom and dad did such a great job getting these decorations made. Thanks to Pinterest for getting our creative juices flowing. 
Mater is my little guys favorite character from Disney's Cars but he loves most of the other cars as well. Here are some pictures of the decorations we used to help celebrate my little guys birthday.

This cake was delicious. Oh Yeah Cakes really hit this cake out of the ballpark. It was beautiful and delicious!! Check their Facebook page out here: https://m.facebook.com/OhYeahCakes



Everyone had a blast with all of their Disney's Cars goodies. For the second yeAr my little guy wore a home made number shirt. 

I still have his Buzz Lightyear 1 onesie from last year and this one held up in the wash so it'll go in his keepsake box.

Time to start thinking about what theme we'll go with for year three. I'd love to see pictures of your Disney themed parties!! Please share if you've thrown a Disney party. 

For ideas to throw your own #DisneySide party check out these websites:

DisneySide.com
DisneySideCelebrations.com

Happy Celebrating!!!!

#DisneySide @ Home play date

For our #DisneySide @ home party we had a play date for our friends. It was a simple event but we were able to distribute all of the great Disney goodies provided to us by Mom Select and Disney.

I made goodie bags for the kiddos and included the goodies sent to us such as tattoos, stickers, and some additional fun stuf as well.
For snacks we had fruit cut into Mickey shapes and Mickey cookies. Other moms brought snacks to share as well.

For activities we had a bubble station, balloon tennis and the playground and sand to play with as well. We also wrote letters to our favorite Disney characters. Here's information on writing to your favorite character and getting an autograph postcard back from them. http://gimmiefreebies.com/free-autographed-disney-postcard/

Everyone had tons of fun!! Having a DisneySide party is fun and easy even if you didn't receive a kit. There are great ideas and activities at DisneySide.com. Check it out and let me know if you make a Disney themed play date or party. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Showing off our #DisneySide

Last March our little guy turned a year and we celebrated his birthday with a bang. With lots of help from his aunt, uncles grama, grampa, nana, poppa and friends we pulled off this celebration. This year we are celebrating with a Cars theme. We can't wait to show off our #DisneySide once again.















Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Let's Boogie

Keeping my little guy clean is a pretty hard task. He loves oatmeal and yogurt and often gets his face pretty crusty with left overs from breakfast. Instead of rubbing his face to try to get the dried up oatmeal or yogurt off I love using boogie wipes. Here's his yogurt face:

Boogie Wipes are moist saline wipes that help take any dried up food, boogs or anything else that is crusty and dried onto your face. This moist wipe makes it easy to wipe off and when your little one is sick their noses get red and irritated when you continuously use a dry tissue, so before you get to that point I'd recommend using the boogie wipes and avoid irritating your little ones nose. 


They are also very refreshing. On our summer trip to TX I would use the boogie wipe to wipe down my little guys face and help cool him down. I even used Boogie Wipes for this purpose and it felt so great and refreshing!

Boogie wipes come in three scents: unscented, fresh scent (my favorite) and a grape scent (usually older kids love the grape scent). The saline mist is a new product. Living in the dry desert we use saline spray very often to help moisten my little guys nose. It's especially helpful during allergy season. 



Since then a new product called Puffs Fresh Faces has made its debut. Puffs Fresh Faces are patented and uniquely formulated with natural saline, aloe and vitamin E for all your face has to face each day. This is a saline wipe for adults. I use it to remove my makeup at the end of the day and right after my gym workout. It is so great to refresh your face. Saline is a natural way to help remove your makeup, wipe your nose, or freshen up after a workout or long day. 

Puffs fresh faces also come in a variety of scents. I love the way the lavender smells, but my favorite is the fresh scent wipe. If you have a cold try the Vicks scented wipe. They also have an unscented wipe for those with delicate skin. I have delicate skin and my skin does fine with the unscented and fresh scent, I can't use the lavender scented wipe (although the smell is amazing). Of course the Vicks wipes are only for your nose. I keep a small pack of puffs fresh faces in my gym bag and use it to freshen up right after my workout.

As some of you know, I am an Ambassador for Boogie Wipes and my team #BusyBodyMoms is hosting a giveaway. Please go to a fellow ambassadors blog, below, to sign up for the giveaway. Don't forget to go to the Boogie Wipes Facebook page and like them first. 

You can view the blog giveaway below or by going to this link:

I'm excited to start handing out my samples, coupons and prizes to the new moms I'm meeting in AZ and our new doctors offices. 

****Disclosure: These opinions are my own and I was sent the above products as part of being a Boogie Wipes ambassador. ****
Busy Body Moms are excited to offer this fantastic Giveaway 
sponsored by Boogie Wipes!
Perfect for every nose in your home!

Boogie Wipes are the first ever saline nose wipe as a solution for sore, red, runny noses.
As Boogie Wipes Ambassadors we enjoy sharing these great products with Mom's, Doctors, Schools and Day Cares.  
Boogie Wipes are made with saline to dissolve boogies (mucus) caused by the common cold, allergies or otherwise booger-filled kid moments. Extra soft and scented in Great Grape, Fresh Scent, Magic Menthol (for extra stuffy noses), Simply Unscented and Boogieberry, Boogie Wipes are recommended by Pediatricians as a gentle, effective alternative to a dry tissue.

Take this opportunity to WIN a great Prize Pack of 
Boogie Wipe Products!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disney Side @ Home Celebration

A couple of weeks ago I received an awesome email informing me that I was chosen to host a Disney Side @ Home Celebration. I applied for this opportunity through a group called Moms Meet. Last week I received my official box from Walt Disney World Resorts & Park for hosting my Disney Side @ Home Celebration. 

Inside was an awesome piece if luggage (which hubby took on his trip to North Carolina this week). American Tourister is the official luggage of Walt Disney World & Disneyland. We received the 20" At Skate luggage in black with red accents. I'm so happy that we received the black one so my hubby could use for his travel. He was very excited to have this for his trip.

When I opened up the suitcase we found tons of great Disney items!
Everything we'd need to celebrate our love for Disney!! In the words if my little guy "ooooo." Balloons, tattoos, cups, plates, napkins, Mickey cookie cutter, cupcake liners, craisins, decorations. 
Plus games, face paint guide, measuring cups.
HP Photo paper, bracelets & Run Disney cheer cards, ESPN bumper stickers
A WDW vacation planning DVD, Muppets calendar and an awesome luggage tag.
And these amazingly beautiful poster prints. So cute!!

And now to start planning a way to celebrate all things Disney with some friends. Stay tuned for pictures of my event. I'm incorporating Cars into the celebration somehow since my little one is obsessed with Mater (aka Li) and Mc Queen (aka vroom vroom).

**Disclosure: I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @ Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No drive thru needed

Some days you just need a break. Today was a busy day and I really had no motivation to cook or mess up my kitchen, since it was spotless. So instead of eating out or making something unhealthy I cooked up some ground turkey, chopped up lettuce and tomato and avocado and voila, taco salad. 

What is your favorite last minute meal idea? Breakfast for dinner is always a favorite at our house.