Posts tagged under Summer. Show all posts.
One of the most important and stressful decisions a parent can make is choosing the right care for their child. As summer approaches, some parents might be looking for childcare options for their kids. But they need to first decide what type of care is the ideal fit for their child, as well as the family’s needs.
Nanny/Au Pair: Hiring a nanny or au pair is a popular choice for parents with young children, or several children needing care, and for parents who prefer to keep the kids at home instead of going to a camp or daycare. Parents will often choose this option when they have odd or very long work hours. Having a nanny/au pair allows your child to spend their day in a familiar environment with less routine and more flexibility.
Licensed Childcare Centre: These facilities often offer summer programs and group children by age. A daily routine is followed with regular planning of activities. In the summer, special outings are often offered, such as trips to water parks, the zoo, or beach. Parents often will choose this type of care because they want structure for their children and they want to ensure that activities and socialization are geared to their child’s age level.
Summer Camps: Summer camps often give parents the ability to give their children structure while they’re not in school, in an environment catered to their children’s interests (i.e. soccer camp, music camp, or nature camp). Summer camps can be offered as day camps for a week or more, or even as sleepover camps. Families can provide their children with a variety of camps over the summer, allowing children to build new skills and make new friends.
Explore all the options available in your community to determine which ones suit your family’s needs, make you feel comfortable, and cater your child’s interests.
Once you’ve selected which childcare option you’re going to use for the summer, you need to research the local providers. Asking the right questions will guide your decision, so here are some thoughts.
First, ask yourself these questions:
If time permits, visit the childcare centre, daycare, or summer camp location and discuss your expectations with the potential childcare provider, and always check references before deciding which service to use. Good quality childcare providers support the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of children in their care.Secondly, ask the childcare provider these questions:
For a Nanny/Au Pair
As the parent, lead the nanny/au pair in what you’d like your child to do this summer—don’t just leave it up to the caregiver. Discuss your expectations with your caregiver, and then let he/she tell you what they have planned in order to establish open communications right away.
For a Childcare Centre or Summer Camp
Taking the time to thoroughly research your options will set your child up for a fun and memorable summer.
The most magical aspect of photography is the ability to be transported back to a moment, celebration, or family event, and summer is the perfect time to capture these special family times.
Here are a few tips to help make those summer family photos more than just a ‘snapshot’:
We often make the mistake of centering the subject in the photograph, but the human eye prefers images where the subject is off to one side. This creates a more visually interesting composition.
Photographing your subject from their height/point-of-view is another way to improve the art of your photo. Try getting down on the same level as your children (or your pets), and see the difference it makes in your photographs.
Having clutter in the background of a photo is a sure-fire way to make it look like an amateur snapshot. Sometimes, it’s impossible to capture the image without clutter, so there are a few ways to cope with that situation. One way is to fill the frame of your image with your subject, and another alternative is to change the angle that you are shooting from.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to take a photo in perfect light. Generally speaking, it is best to avoid direct sunlight (especially at midday), because strong light is very harsh and not flattering. Open shade, where your subject is covered by the shade but surrounded by light, is the setting for a beautiful image. For the best light, try shooting during the magic hours—just after sunrise and just before the sunset.
Now that you know these general photography rules, you can have fun breaking them, too. For example, try photographing your child from directly above or from ground level. Centering your subject can also work if the background is symmetrical. Finally, ask yourself what you like or do not like about a particular photo (yours or someone else’s) and you may find a new source of inspiration.
I’m happy to answer any photo questions you have if you post them as comment below. Good luck!
Holly Sisson is generously offering Toronto SavvyMom subscribers a complimentary 8x10 print ($95 value) with a family session booked before October 31, 2010.
It’s barbecue season and what could be faster, tastier and healthier than a little something grilled? From tofu and veggies, to burgers and dogs, anything on a bun is beloved by our backyard and cottage culture. You carefully choose the leanest meat and whole grain bun, but what you top it with could be a slather of unsuspecting empty calories. Here is your condiment guide in order of worst to best: choose wisely and slip back into your skinny jeans come the fall. Heed not and risk looking like the sausage yourself.
Worst to Best Burger Toppers
Mayonnaise (or anything made with mayonnaise)
All commercial mayos are made by thickening some kind of liquid fat into a solid. Either the traditional whipping of oil into eggs is used, or the lower fat treatment of using a corn or seaweed derived thickener, the concept is still the same: fat. Delicious, creamy fat that will cost you about 100 calories per tablespoon, no matter which brand you buy. Tartar sauces and ‘sandwich spreads’ are no better; they deliver no nutrients and too many calories. If you simply must have your mayo, opt for President’s Choice Blue Menu mayo or Hellmann’s Half the Fat because either will cut your calories down to half. Heed this, though, even then, they are more caloric than the next worst spoonful. (Yogurt makes for a decent substitute.)
This bold bounce to your bun packs a punch, but most formulations begin with sugar and water. Mixing in a proprietary blend of tomato sauce and spices makes each version a flavour all its own and everyone has their favourite. Offering almost no nutritional value for its 300–400 mg of sodium (almost 1/3 of a healthy day’s dose) in one tablespoon is a crime before you even consider the 30–40 calories. There is one on the shelf that provides the taste without all the calories, and that’s Kraft Calorie Wise at a decent 10 calories per tablespoon. It uses more water and corn-thickeners to reduce the load but keep the consistency. You don’t get a break on the salt, though.
Treasured by children and loved by all as the condiment of choice for just about everything, ketchup takes the middle spot for the fact that it relies upon one of earth’s healthiest vegetables. Albeit, this is a high-salt, high-sugar way to get that vegetable, but still. Most formulations do start with tomatoes or tomato paste that is thinned down with vinegar and water and seasoned up with salt, spices and sugar. The top few brands weigh in at about 20–25 calories per tablespoon delivering about 10–15 % of your healthy day’s amount of salt. The No Name brand is a little lower, though the formulation looks about the same, so expect it to be a little thinner (higher in water). Heinz has a low-sodium version that will save about half the sodium and PC Blue Menu has one that uses sucralose to reduce the sugar (and that has its downsides too!). Even with the ‘improvements’, this red spoonful is still middling at best.
Now we are moving to the better side of the bun. Not all relish is created equal; you can still stumble if you choose sweet green, zucchini or chili. All offer little nutritional benefit and about 15–25 calories per tablespoon, which is about the same as ketchup. But there is a rising star here that can deliver huge taste for a mere four calories per tablespoon: Bick’s Dill Relish is the pick of pack. It does dose with the same kind of sodium found above, but for much fewer calories in the end.
Mustard – Best in Class!
All you have to do is avoid the honey mustards and mustard blends and you can’t go wrong. Each and every mustard on the shelf is lower in calories than anything else you are going to squeeze on your dog. And they are little superheroes packing much more than they seem—made from mustard seed, which is a high antioxidant spice that has anti-inflammatory properties. If it is colored at all, it is usually with trace amounts of turmeric which is another potent anti-cancer spice. Rarely made with sugar (thus the ‘avoid the honeyed versions’ note) and only mixed with vinegar, and very little salt, it offers a zing for a caloric pittance. There are some outstanding gourmet formulations on the market that are truly worth trying, but even the cheapest brand of yellow ballpark mustard is worth adding.
Last summer, my husband and I chose to drive from Toronto, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia, with our two daughters. It was one of the most memorable and awesome summer vacations we had ever experienced as a family.
Along with being able to capture the historic beauty of Quebec, we also visited New Brunswick and PEI for the first time. After spending time with friends in Halifax, we were awe inspired by the breathtaking Green and White Mountain ranges as we drove back home through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Never having experienced a family road trip before, I wasn’t sure how everyone would adapt to spending so many hours on the road but planning ahead really paid off and we can’t wait to do it again.
If you’re planning a road trip with your family anytime soon, here’s what you might like to know:
1. Consider the age and temperament of your children. Travelling as we did with two older children who are quite capable of entertaining themselves, and each other, made our trip that much more enjoyable. I don’t think it would have been quite the same if we had made the same trip when they were much younger. Although travelling overnight so that young children can sleep the hours away may make getting to your destination easier, there are cons to this. For one thing, you may feel exhausted from driving without getting a night’s sleep and the beauty of your surroundings will be lost.
2. The journey is really just as important as the destination. If you plot out stops and points of interest along the way, then the final destination becomes the place that you are spending the most amount of time at, but is not that much more important than all the special stops along the way. If you journey over several days and don’t need to be somewhere in a hurry, then you’re more likely to appreciate every place you stop at. And dont be afraid to make slight diversions along the way if something special catches your attention.
3. Involve your family in the planning stage. If your children do research on the internet, for example, about special places they’d like to visit and if you integrate these stops along the way, they will feel that their needs have been equally considered. Then the vacation truly becomes a family vacation.
4. Take lots to occupy them in the car. One of the great things about car travel is that you don’t have to worry about your luggage being a couple of pounds overweight. You also don’t have to worry about other restrictions such as products that are not allowed on board an aircraft, for example. Other than the portable DVD and other electronics, how about a knapsack of creative car activities such as paper and crayons, stickers and maybe even a small lap tray to place the material on. This knapsack can also be taken in and out of restaurants too.
5. Other than material items for the kids, think about other games that require nothing more than thought and imagination. Counting the number of red versus blue cars between point A and B or playing a memory game such as ‘I went to the market…’ are great ways to pass time.
6. Help your children know in advance how much time between stops so that they don’t ask ‘Are we there yet?’ every half hour. Older children, who understand time and can read, can be provided with an itinerary including approximate time planned to be on the road. Children can also be helped by showing them how to read a GPS so that they can see at a glance how much time remains until they can stretch their legs or visit another place of interest.
7. If you typically drive a smaller car, consider renting a mini van for the time you’re going to be away. A van allows you the luxury of extra leg space, extra luggage space and extra elbow space may even mean that the children are less likely to fight with one another—both physically and verbally.
Most importantly, take lots of time planning and researching a road trip so that you know where and when you are coming and going. Treasure each stop and inhale every moment along the way. Don’t rush the trip but plan the scenic route so that you can experience the beauty of your surroundings.