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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jamie McDonald & Team Bumblebee....

I haven't been able to follow up my last post about TEAM BUMBLEBEE until I had some time to reflect on the week and the time we spent with Jamie. Julie gave us the opportunity to spend some time with Jamie in her home as he shared videos, stories and answered all our questions, some serious and some silly! Having just completed a very difficult portion of his journey,  running in unbelievably cold temperatures Jamie was still suffering the emotional toll that  had taken on him. But he was able to open up and share both the darkness & the light that came out of it. And as Julie mentions in her blog post I think we all hoped that spending time with Julie, and the rest of team bumblebee would allow Jamie to put those days behind him for good! The great thing about someone as inspiring as Jamie, is that each person can take away something different from his story! As Jamie says, if it's that his stories restore your faith in humanity,  or  gives you the push you need to take a leap, or if it allows you to believe that you can do anything- then he's done his job!

The thing that struck me most about Jamie, is the fact that he is just 27 years old! Generally speaking your 20's are not a time of great awareness of the needs of others. It can be a time of selfishness, of living your life within the small scope of those you interact with on a daily basis. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. However, the fact that jamie is in his 20's speaks volumes to his character, to his depth of compassion for others, his understanding of the challenges of today's world and suggests that Jamie is, perhaps a very old soul!

After we spent that evening with Jamie, we knew we needed to spend sometime running with him, just sharing in his journey a bit and keeping him company. We knew after listening to him that our job would be keeping him distracted from all the pain he is in after 170 marathons! We talked our way through the run as we delivered Jamie to another location to share his story, before we would run him out of Brooks. I don't think we felt a minute of cold or fatigue during that run, being there with Jamie but also because we were accompanied by an amazing little dude, that we'll call 'R'! He had run the entire morning with Jamie- over 10 miles! That's an accomplishment for anyone, let alone a boy of 11! We were all pushed to do our best to follow his example and of course the example Jamie has been setting over his entire journey! Jamie himself, humble as he is was really inspired by 'R' and we were lucky to share in the experience.

The time Jamie spent in Brooks also gave us a chance to see our community come together to support him as he raises funds for Children's Hospitals in Canada. All the money he raises while running in Alberta will go towards the Alberta Children's Hospital! Thanks to the hard work of Team Bumblebee, their auction held in honour of Jamie, raised over $12,000!

My sister, Tara and I left Jamie to run with another friend and BELA Dad, Jay Olson but not before we gave him some big hugs and held back some girly tears! ;) Jamie said to us, "whatever you do, don't worry!" We all laughed, as at this time Jamie was standing on the side of the highway with 4 Moms! Worrying is what we do best!  So we will watch, wait and worry a little until Jamie reaches his final destination and completes his 5000 mile journey!
Thank you Jamie....for the once in a lifetime opportunity! You left us humbled and inspired! xo

Monday, December 9, 2013

Team Bumblebee

Today, a little bit about the fabulous TEAM BUMBLEBEE! We are fortunate to have Mrs. Julie Jenkins as both a friend & a BELA Mom :) She has been working hard over the last several weeks to help Jamie McDonald in his cross Canada venture in support of Children's Hospitals. Jamie started out on this adventure months ago...his goal, to run 5,000 miles or 200+ marathons coast to coast, across Canada, without a support crew to raise money for sick children in Canada and the UK.  Jamie truly is a real life super hero! He is getting close to Brooks now and Julie has amped us her efforts by starting an online auction with all proceeds going to the Alberta Children's Hospital, in honour of Jamie. You can check out the auction items here and place your bid! On behalf of BELA we wish Jamie the best of luck and safe travels over the days and weeks ahead! And to Julie.....we are so proud of how you have stepped up to help a cause so very near and dear to your heart. You and your own little super hero are an inspiration to all of us!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Making Messes & Memories- A post from our Mrs. M, Early Childhood Educator

As I sit with my laptop writing my first ever blog post, I’m remembering Christmases past. Memories brought on by the delicious sweet taste of the mandarin orange that I just finished devouring.  Today and every single time I enjoy the sweet tasty treat of a mandarin orange, I am brought back to the age of 10, on Christmas Eve sitting on my Grammas’ knee in our living room. The smell of her hand lotion is strong in my memory, as is the scent of the mandarin orange that she is peeling for me. My mind sees the soft glow of the green-glassed jar candle on my mom’s coffee table that’s resting on an awful brown shag carpet.  I can hear loud chatter and laughter of the rest of my family in the kitchen enjoying a huge spread of “Christmassy” snacks.  A feeling of pure joy, contentment, peace and love overcomes me, remembering this time spent sitting on my Gramma’s knee.

You may wonder why I am sharing this memory with you. “It is through our senses that adults and children learn. Children learn best and retain most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favourite memories are associated with one or more of our senses.” (Developing and Cultivating Skills through Sensory Play, Danielle Steinberg).  In sharing one of my personal memories with you, it is easy to see the truth in the statement above and maybe even bring one of your favourite memories to mind. Just the scent of mandarin oranges brings on my favourite Christmas memory, that of sitting on my Gramma’s knee. Sensory exploration is a child’s way of examining, discovering, categorizing and making sense of the world.  

Since young children explore and learn with all five senses it is extremely important as early childhood educators and parents that we give ample opportunity for our children to engage in messy sensory play, such as finger painting, play dough, water and sand play. This messy sensory play “promotes sensory integration which is the ability of the body to integrate and process all of the information it receives from all five senses; touch, taste, hearing, vision and smell. Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning. Sensory play can be extremely calming for children. It’s not just about making a mess and getting dirty, it’s an essential component to learning that encourages exploration and discovery through play”  (Creative Connections for Kids) Sensory play often uses our fine motor movements and helps to build and develop these motor skills as children poor, scoop, measure and mold. It promotes pre-math concepts by comparing sizes big and small, teaches science skills as children learn what happens when they add water to the sand. Sensory play also promotes language development by building upon a child’s vocabulary.

But most important of all, it is a chance to have fun interacting while getting messy with your children. Watch their faces light up with joy as they learn a new skill or discover that they can make big waves with boats in the water table, build dinosaur mountains in the sand table or make tire tracks in play dough as they drive toy cars in it. The creative ways to engage your child, while helping them learn & explore are limitless.

I will end by leaving a recipe following this post for snow play dough that I cannot wait to make and put out for our children at BELA to explore and enlighten their senses with. It uses peppermint extract to ignite the sense of smell, silver glitter to promote visual stimulation and of course the doughy texture to mold with their hands promoting their fine motor skills and sense of touch. Stay tuned to the blog for more ideas about how you can create sensory play opportunities at home!

Have fun getting messy and discovering with your child!

Glittery Snow Play Dough
*1 cup of flour
*1/2 cup salt
*1 cup water
*1 tsp. Oil
*1 tsp. Cream of tarter
*1-2 tsp peppermint extract
*2-3 tbsp. Of ultra fine glitter
In a large saucepan, mix together the flour, salt and cream of tartar.  Add the water and oil and stir until mixed well.  Place on stove over medium heat, stirring constantly.  After a few minutes it will cook down to play dough consistency.  Allow to cool (cover with a damp cloth while cooling to avoid drying out), and then knead in the peppermint extract one teaspoon at a time. Once the peppermint extract is kneaded throughout the dough knead in the glitter one tablespoon at a time.