Friday, December 10, 2010

So the Pen May be Mightier Than the Sword

MC is collecting new and gently used storybooks to send to Sierra Leone. The nation is struggling to rebuild its educational system after decades of brutal conflcit. If you have extra books/ones your kids have outgrown, for ages 5--12, you can drop them off at my house till Dec. 17. Please help if you can!  Send me an email for the address.  Thank you!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Longing for the Sea

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."  --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, August 23, 2010

How Do I Find Quality Child Care?

This is a question I have been asked numerous times, most often by parents expecting their first child.  It can seem like a daunting, and even scary task for new parents.  However, like many things in life, it's simply a matter of thinking positively and educating yourself.  This post seeks to serve as a resource for those of you who are in this situation or may be considering selecting a new child care provider.

1. Take into consideration the hours of your workday and your commute to determine what hours your child will need care.  This will allow you to narrow down your child care search to providers that offer the hours you require.

2. If you are a commuter, figure out where you will seek child care: near your home, along your commute, and/or near your work place.

3. Now you can begin your child care search with some direction.  The State of Maryland offers a free service to help parents find licensed child care that meets their needs.  LOCATE can be reached via telephone at 877-261-0060 or online at

4. As you contact potential providers, be sure to have pen and paper handy to make notes.  There are many questions you will want to ask, but keep in mind the provider may not have the time to answer them all at that moment.  They are, after all, busy caring for children.  You may want to ask your top three questions to rule out providers that may not work for you.  Three I suggest: Are you licensed? Can you provide care between the hours of * to *? and Do you/will you have an opening available for a * year old?  I don't suggest you ask about pricing at this point, because pricing is complex and best discussed during a visit.

5. From here, set up an appointment for a visit.  If you visit during hours of care, you will have the advantage of observing the caregiver interact with the children and the program in action.  If you visit when the children are not present, you will enjoy more leisurely and intensive discussion with the caregiver.  Each has their benefits and drawbacks.

6. Prior to your appointment, be sure to visit any websites or blogs the provider has for the business.  This will help you understand the program better and may spark questions to ask the provider.  Bring a pen and pad of paper and a list of questions to your appointment.  

As you speak to and visit with different caregivers, you will become more aware of the options that are available.  It's also a fine idea to talk with coworkers, friends, family, and neighbors about their experiences with care.  They may be able to recommend a quality provider or give you some valuable food for thought.  Finally, if you are seeking infant care, begin your search as soon as possible, even if you are early in your pregnancy. Infant spots are scarce and fill up very quickly.  

Best wishes to you in your child care search!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Are You Out There?

The National Wildlife Federation has launched an initiative to increase the amount of time our nation's youth spend outdoors.  According to their website, "American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today’s kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate -- accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system -- as well as declining creativity, concentration and social skills.  Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment."

We signed the Be Out There pledge today.  Check out their web link for many great resources for spending time outside with children of all ages.  The benefits are myriad!

National Wildlife Federation: Be Out There

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rainy Day Delights

What to do with children on a rainy day when you're cooped up inside?  Always be positive, even if rain is not your favorite type of weather.  Kids feed off your mood.  Here is an undecidedly UN-comprehensive list of some ideas:

First of all, turn off the lights, draw the drapes,and:
1. play flashlight tag
2. have a shadow puppet show
3. have the children sit for silhouette portraits, traced onto black paper and cut out
4. round up any funky lighting you have available, put on some funky music and have a dance party

Do you have a rainy day fun idea? I'd love to hear it!