Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toddler-Friendly Summer Celebrations

Some cute ideas for enjoying a little summertime fun with the children.

Toddler-Friendly Summer Celebrations
By Robin McClure

Flip-Flop Fun
For fashionable summer fun, you and your child can make a unique pair of flip-flops for a caregiver, babysitter, or friend. Have your youngster help you pick out some ribbon and gemstones or other decorative items to add to a pair of flip-flops. Cut a 19-inch strip of ribbon (you can always trim the ends shorter, depending on the style and size of flip-flop selected) and fashion a pretty bow from it. Trim the ends off at a diagonal. Use a hot-melt glue gun to fasten the ribbon onto the Y-part of the flip-flop (adults need to do this part, please). Add a charm, stone, or other item to the center of the bow (not using anything is okay too).
Your toddler will get a kick out of making them, and will love giving them as a gift even more.

Ice Cream in a Bag
Who needs to wait for hand-cranked homemade ice cream when kids can create their own individual, serving–size creation in no time and with no mess! This homemade ice cream recipe uses a toddler’s energy for a delicious outcome!

1 cup milk (use chocolate milk if preferred)
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-quart resealable bag
1-gallon resealable bag
several spoonfuls of rock salt enough ice to cover the small bag Place milk, sugar, and vanilla into the small bag and zip the bag securely. Put the small bag into the larger bag. Add ice and salt. Let your toddler shake the bag gently for about 5 minutes. When it is done, the ice cream will have the consistency of soft serve. Enjoy!

Made in the Shade
Establish a shady outdoor area for special summer reading. Grab some chairs or a blanket and establish this as your special reading area. Find books about summer that involve outdoor activities, vacations, or just ways to soak up the sunshine and read them with your child.

Painting Van Goghs
It’s summertime, so why not let your little artists showcase their talent outdoors? Set up a large sheet of paper (or even use the large roll-sheets found at craft supply and teacher supply stores) either on an easel or on a flat surface. Dress your toddler in a swimsuit or old clothes, provide selections of water-based paint, and let the art begin! To encourage artistic expression, look at some simple art books together beforehand.

Tepee Hideout
Build your toddler a simple tepee for hours of backyard fun. Materials
3 white PVC pipes (8-foot pipes work best)
rope, canvas tarp, cloth, or blanket Using the rope, tie the PVC pipes together about 20–24 inches from the tops and then stand them up like a tripod. If possible, dig out an area of the ground so that the pipes are planted firmly. Cover the tepee frame with tarp, cloth, blanket, or whatever you have available.

Watermelon Cookies
Cut a seedless watermelon into 1/2-inch slices. Place the slices on a flat surface outdoors (to avoid a mess in your house) and use cookie cutters to cut out fun shapes. Kids will love eating their tasty “cookies,” and the shapes make the fruit easier to handle!

Robin McClure is currently the author of 5 parenting books.

Posted by Wee Care Nanny Agency

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Greenwich Nanny's Arrest Prompts Hiring Advice

On June 1, 2009, the "Stamford Advocate" reported on the arrest of a live-in nanny working in Greenwich, Conn. She was charged with first-degree larceny, eight counts of third-degree forgery, eight counts of fraudulent use of an ATM card and breach of peace. The article discusses how the woman would ace her job interviews, get hired and then go on to defraud her employers. Apparently, she became very adept at her practice as she moved from family to family applying her deceitful trade.

We are always dismayed to read about the “bad apple” getting picked for such an important job. “When you allow someone into your house, you should know who they are,” said Detective Pasquale Iorfino
of the Greenwich Police Department. We could not agree more. Unfortunately, more often than not, extensive screening and background checks are not properly conducted or done at all. We were disappointed (at the risk of sounding self-serving) that the article quotes the owner of a Web based "nanny" site for tips on screening and hiring a nanny. Mr. Lambert, the founder of Enannysource, stated that "screening is the most important part of the hiring process." That is absolutely true. However, these online listing sites by their very structures are unable to thoroughly screen a candidate. In fact, Web based sites contribute to many parents false sense of security in hiring a nanny. In effect, they are online databases with no barriers to entry. Anyone can post their profile and hold himself or herself out as an experienced and qualified caregiver. They merely list available jobs and caregivers and then offer an a la carte background check. Furthermore, many online sites advertise "National Criminal Checks" which can be very misleading. Those checks will often only determine if the subject was incarcerated in a state prison. Many online sites omit to inform you that those searches will not turn up persons that were convicted of a crime but not imprisoned or that served time in a county jail. Therefore, depending on the state, a county by county or statewide criminal check should also be done where the domestic worker has been shown to reside.

Since the hiring process can be overwhelming to a lot of families, we wanted to offer some additional practical advice. Most importantly, it is vital to meet and get to know the potential nanny in person. Together you should go over a detailed employment application and zero in on gaps in work history, discuss previous jobs and gauge responses to gently probing questions. For example, last week we had a nanny come in to register who seemed perfect. She was charming, sweet, athletic, a college graduate and had a recent six-year reference working with 3 children in the Tribeca section of Manhattan. However, the reference fell apart because the candidate told us she always lived in with the family but property records showed the apartment was only 600 square feet. Not a very likely scenario for a live-in job with a supposed family of five. Do online nanny sites expect a potential employer to think about that scenario or research it?

We understand it is difficult to properly vet a potential in house employee without being a seasoned interviewer. Therefore, it’s imperative to be able to recognize some common red flags from the prospective employee and/or her references. They include: 

  • Past employers who do not have a landline and can only be reached on a cell phone.
  • Past employers who do not reside in areas employing a high concentration of nannies and other domestics.
  • Tenuous explanations for wide gaps in employment.
  • Unstable work history.
  • Inability to provide authentic and valid federal and state photo identification.
Oddly enough, in my experience I have found that if a candidate is too perfect or throws around high profile names of previous employers, it’s usually a red flag that warrants a lot more digging. The stakes are too high to trust without verifying first.

Posted by Wee Care Nanny Agency

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Helping Children Maintain Good Nutritional Habits During the Summer Months

Enjoyed this article from last year about helping children keep up good nutritional habits during the summer.

School Is Out, and Nutrition Takes a Hike

Posted by Wee Care Nanny Agency