It Takes a Village



This week I have been thinking about all of the learning our children do, from babies to toddlers, to pre-schoolers and school age.  My own children were lucky enough to spend their early days when not with me, at the home of the most amazing caregiver I could imagine. As we say goodbye to Debbie this week, and honour the passing of a wonderful woman, I am reminded of just how much of a gift she was in our lives. She had such a positive impact on my two and taught them many, many important things including; kindness, compassion, collaboration, responsibility, and patience. She valued adventure, fun, curiosity, balance, inclusion, and routine; so in turn did the kids. For seven years, we were blessed to be included in Debbie’s daycare family, we are so grateful she was a part of our village.

Blog repost from: “Are We There Yet?” on June 28, 2011


The End of an Era

My not so little boy heads off to grade one in September, which means our final days at Debbie‘s, our childcare provider for nearly seven years, are counting down.  The final drop-off is something I have thought about with a lump in my throat a number of times over the past couple of years.  The thought of pulling out of the driveway for the final time, something I have done over two thousand times, is hard to imagine.   I am filled with mixed emotions, as is Nate, as our time there draws to an end.  Our family has been blessed beyond words to have had our children go to Debbie & Ray’s since Sarah was eleven months old.

Like Sarah did when she left two years ago, Nate is creating a farewell book  for Debbie, filled with his thoughts and memories and illustrations on each page.  He and I have enjoyed reminiscing about the many years he has spent there and he is bursting and so proud to share his creation with everyone on Thursday.

Debbie is caring, kind, amazing with kids and has a great sense of humour.  The kids respect her so much and they know that what Debbie says… goes.  Her husband Ray is adored by all.  Everyone loves him for his funny, silly ways and the jokes and nicknames he shares with each child.  The rapport Ray has with kids is incredible.

 This amazing couple has opened their home to a great number of children over the years and they run a daycare like no other.  As a family childcare centre it is the home to 12 children each day…a perfect number.  Debbie and Ray have transformed their home to service “their kids”.  There are playrooms on each level and toys in abundance.  Tiny chairs fill their living room and booster seats in the kitchen.  They have fire doors and fire escapes installed throughout; along with closed circuit TV’s  to monitor the basement and the area where the littlest one’s nap. 

Debbie cuts no corners and spares no expense.  The kids eat healthy meals filled with fun and adventurous foods.  They do crafts, play games and go on long walks along the creek, even in the rain.  They visit the bakery for cookies, and Seven Eleven for Slurpees.  They play in the sprinkler in the summer and sled in the winter. They collect treasures, create works of art and celebrate every occasion.  Birthdays are highly anticipated at Debbie’s, as are special holidays; marked with gifts, fancy meals, games, and tons more fun.

But more important than all of that is the atmosphere or feeling at Debbie’s.  The kids are like family.  I always marvel watching their closeness and their unique bonds when they are together at birthday parties or playdates.  The sense of community they develop being a part of something as special as Debbie’s daycare is amazing to watch and so beneficial to them all.  We are so lucky that our kids have grown up there with some of their closest friends, by chance children of many of our dearest friends.  The bonds and memories shared will last all of us a lifetime. 

Working alongside Debbie is her partner, Joyce.  Joyce is sweet and kind and good.  Her gentle ways and loving nature make her the perfect childcare provider.  She is compassionate, perceptive and often offers sound insight or advice.  She always has a funny anecdote or heart-warming story to share involving the kids.   She honours children’s individuality and celebrates their successes.  Joyce is also an extremely well-rounded and interesting person.  I will so miss the great conversations she and I have always shared about education, books, health, and children.   

Debbie employs a third staff member to work with the kids on a daily basis.  In turn, each of them; Kristin, Nikki and Melissa has added a youthful energy and fun-loving attitude that the kids so appreciate and enjoy.  They have all gotten to know our kids so well and have continued to be a part of our lives through evening babysitting, house-sitting and even cat sitting.  They are amazing young women!

Debbie’s is legendary in our area.  She has a waiting list miles long and is sought out by many.  Over the years I have had a number of people ask me, “How did you ever get in?”  Luck?  Chance?  Timing?  I am not sure why my family was fortunate enough to have landed spots at Debbie’s daycare but I am eternally thankful that we did. 

Working mom guilt is something I have at times struggled with as many moms’ do.  It is hard to be away from our little ones particularly when they are sad or sick or not themselves.  I am blessed to have rest assured each and every time I drove to work that my children could not have been in better hands. I never once doubted the quality of care my children received.  They were always treated with respect and offered unlimited patience, guidance, instruction, affection, and kindness.  I can only begin to imagine the depth of what my children have learned and taken away from Debbie’s and what a positive impact their experiences there have had on the wonderful little people they are today.

A couple of weeks back as I shopped around for my final end of the year Debbie thank you gift- I was stumped.  Debbie is a practical person but the typical garden ornament or gift card just didn’t feel right.  In the end, I bought her a Willow Tree …the Angel of Caring. 

Debbie has truly been an angel in our lives. 

Debbie, thank you for opening your home and your heart and being our angel of caring for so many years! 




You Are Here…


Last summer, after returning from a two-week road trip out West with my family, I wrote a post called Roadmap to Learning.  I am a firm believer that travel is the best education, and that it builds a unique perspective, empathy, insight and open mindedness that is difficult to form to the same extent any other way. We learn from experience…Learning happens everywhere. In keeping with tradition, I am writing this post to once again document the rich learning and reflecting I have done this summer through my travels. Our travels tell a story.

This summer, I was lucky enough to visit New York for the first time, with one of my most favourite people and dearest of friends for four days, before heading to New Jersey for a three-day educational conference and then spending an afternoon exploring Philadelphia with two lovely ladies, before flying out!

Shortly after returning home, we left on a two-week family vacation out East making our way through Ontario and Quebec. Busy!

I share some of the highlights of these journeys below through the lens of some big picture observations and snapshots of what I learned (these are not deep musings or earth shattering content by any means 😉 but lighter in nature). But my travels are also documented through my treasured MUGS!

Yes, I admit it. I have in recent times purchased my fair share of the Starbucks You Are Here Collection mugs.

I am not the collector type. In truth, I am a bit of a minimalist. I don’t like trinkets, or knickknacks or baubles and such. I wouldn’t dream of bringing home a magnet, or spoon, or ashtray (do they still make those??), or key chain, or tacky t-shirt from the places I visit. However, this past spring when the Starbucks, You are Here Collection of mugs crossed my path, I was all in. I do like coffee. I do love Starbucks. And these mugs were anything but tacky. My first purchases were Vancouver and Tennessee. After this summer, a few more now fill my kitchen cupboards as a daily reminder of the wonderful memories made in the places I have been lucky enough to visit.

So here goes….



Highlights: Visits to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Bryant Park, Grand Central Station, The Highline, Rockefeller at Night, The Statue of Liberty, the New York Public Library, Central Park including a tour from an informative, entertaining pedicab driver, Magnolia Bakery, and the Sugar Factory for lunch. A walk down Fifth Avenue & Wall Street, as well as through Tribeca, Soho, the Meatpacking district, and Happy Hour in Greenwich Village. Seeing Kinky Boots on Broadway. Using the subway. Bagels and pizza.



I learned…

  • All of the amazing things I had heard about NYC over the years were true…and then some! It is big and vibrant and diverse and alive and beautiful in a way that is so unique and exhilarating.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge is much longer than you think and much more stunning
  • The infamous NYC places you see in the movies are much smaller in person than they seem on tv
  • Grand Central Station is more than just a train station and has a culture all of its own
  • The banana pudding and cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery really are that good!
  • Broadway is all it’s cracked up to be and Hamilton tickets truly are hard to come by!
  • New Yorkers are friendly, helpful and welcoming.
  • There is a reason people go back to NYC over and over again!


Highlights: Visits to the Ripley’s Aquarium, CN Tower, Canada’s Wonderland, the Downtown Waterfront, Eaton Centre, The Hockey Hall of Fame and taking in a Blue Jays game.


I learned…

  • Toronto truly is busy and big and has way too much traffic!!
  • Seeing the Toronto Blue Jays play LIVE is so AWESOME!!!
  • Canada’s Wonderland is VERY busy and lined up in the summer
  • Toronto’s Waterfront is very lovely
  • Ontario’s Emergency Room wait times are reasonable (Nate’s chest pains turned out to be a strained muscle…phew!)



Highlights: Seeing Niagara Falls both during the day and at night lit up, fireworks over the Falls, Journey Behind the Falls, Hornblower Niagara Cruise, Niagara’s Fury (4D show, telling story of the Falls creation), White Water Walk, Clifton Hill Street of Fun

I learned…

  • The Niagara Falls are truly remarkable, powerfully breathtaking, stunning and a must see for everyone!
  • I am not one to do all the tours, guided things, red busses etc, but in Niagara Falls seeing the Falls from all perspectives is well worth it. Get the Adventurer Pass and visit one of the kiosks to set up your times when you get there. Use the WeGo busses for everything.
  • It is actually possible for breakfast for 4 to cost $109 (even with a coupon) at IHOP (it’s true!)



 Sidenote: Our Nation’s capital does NOT have its own You Are Here mug. Seriously! I have no idea how Starbucks determines these things. (Hence the Canada one).

Highlights: Visit to Parliament Hill, Changing of the Guard Ceremony, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, guided tour of Centre Block, Northern Lights Sound and Light Night Show on the Hill, Byward Market, Calypso Water Park

I learned…

  • Ottawa remains one of my favourite cities in Canada. I like the size and the feeling of it, but it’s more than that. Being a Canadian citizen is one of my greatest blessings. I am always very patriotic, but there is something so special to me about being in our Nation’s capital.
  • The Northern Lights: Sound & Light show projected onto the Parliament Building each evening in the summer is incredibly well done; informative, beautiful and moving.
  • Parliament Hill is about to undertake a ten-year renovation during which it will be closed to the public for tours and visitors.
  • Calypso Water Park is an exceptional water park a half an hour outside of Ottawa. It has tons of awesome slides, and is clean, has minimal line ups and reasonably priced. Wisconsin Dells fans…this waterpark is a must visit!
  • Always take note or a picture of where you parked and make sure you don’t count on those little business cards outside elevators in parking garages. Apparently, it is possible for 6 tourists to lose their car and then a kid for over an hour in a hot, low ceiling, stuffy parking garage! Yikes! 😉



Highlights: exploring Old Montreal, tour of downtown, city view from Mont Royal Park, Jarry’s Diner, Voiles en Voiles Aerial Course in Old Port, crepes, gelato

I learned..

  • Old Montreal is lovely.
  • Wheelchairs and cobblestones are not a good match.
  • My French comes back when I need it.
  • Montreal is a very big, very busy city.
  • Although, big sandwiches filled with red meat are NOT really my thing, trying a Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich is a must (definitely has the Philly Cheesesteak beat…I tried that in July!).
  • Ropes courses never cease to amaze me. They are such an awesome way for kids (and adults too) to practice risk taking, perseverance, and problem-solving all while participating in an intense physical activity.



Highlights: exploring Old Quebec including; Quartier Petit-Champlain, The Citadel, Plains of Abraham, Place Royale, Chateau Frontenac, Place d’Armes and Rue Saint Jean. Visits to Ile d’Orleans, Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, views of the St Lawrence. More crepes. More gelato.


I learned…

  • There is no such thing as too much gelato!
  • Seeing my children enjoy and appreciate the true beauty and wonder that is Canada is a gift, especially watching them share in that with my own parents!
  • Old Quebec is an absolute gem and I cannot believe it took me 43 years to see this Canadian treasure.. There are no words to describe the beauty, history and feeling that lies there. It is truly incredible and my favourite part of the 2017 Cornwell Canadian Adventures!

So…. if any of you reading this are from Vancouver Island, Calgary, Edmonton or New Jersey (places I have visited over the past year but missed the cups for)…and you are willing to help a girl out….I’ll send you my mailing address and a cheque if you’ll send me a cup! 🙂