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Lyman is 'day care provider of year'

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Several years ago, when Stephanie Lyman was pregnant with her second child, she made a decision to stay home rather than go back to work. Now she's turned that decision into a business and is being recognized for her work.

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Lyman, married and now with four children, has been named the Becker County Licensed Child Care Provider of 2008.

Lyman said when she was pregnant with Emma, she thought to herself, "I can spend all my money on day care or stay home." She, obviously, chose to stay home.

Being with children has been a career of the Detroit Lakes High School graduate's for many years. At one point, she worked as a nanny in the Twin Cities, and while living in Fargo, she worked at ABC Sandcastle, a day care.

After college, she moved back to Detroit Lakes, and now her home plays host to 10 children throughout the day -- with five of them in pre-school -- and two more kids after school who ride the bus to her house.

She said she enjoys her time with her own children and those kids who have become like family to her. And she enjoys the fun time that comes with staying home with them.

"I love the freedom to get silly, paint, dance," she said with a laugh.

And even when her children are all in school, Lyman plans to continue with the day care, saying it's now a lifelong career.

To qualify for child care provider of the year title, providers must be licensed for at least three years and have no complaints against them and their day care.

"I was just lucky enough to get it, I guess," she said of the honor. "After only five years (in business), it's pretty special. I'm very excited. It's kind of neat."

Along with Lyman's honor, she will be attending an awards ceremony at Craguns on Gull Lake in Brainerd this weekend. She will also be able to attend some training seminars.

Also, Gov. Tim Pawlenty has named May 4-10 as Family Child Care Provider Week.

Since becoming a part of the Becker County Licensed Family Child Care Provider group, Lyman said it's become a great support group to be a part of. "It's good to trouble shoot with others," she said.

The group meets once a month and have some form of training each meeting.

Lyman said her day care is fun, but has structure to it as well. Each morning the kids have breakfast, then have circle time, which is filled with songs, a favorite of the kids.' They also have a craft time, time to go outside -- year round -- and a rest period in the afternoon.

"There's always something fun to keep them busy," she said. "I love being able to stay home and raise my kids."

She said she's cried when some of her day care kids have started school because she's had them for the last five years, and she's just as emotional about them starting school as the parents are.

"They all become family."

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