Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Should Nannies Charge More When Working on New Year's Eve?

A nanny can charge more when her services are likely to be in higher demand, such as on holidays. We recommend you charge more than your usual rate if you plan to work on New Year’s Eve.

Ask yourself if you even want to work on New Year’s Eve. If you would rather have the evening off simply say, “I’m sorry I already have plans that evening.”

If you would like to work New Year’s Eve determine the rate you would feel comfortable making. Would you like an hourly rate (such as $30 per hour) or would you prefer a flat rate (such as $200 for the night)?

According to the The New York Times, more than a decade ago, babysitters were earning up to $100 an hour, some $250 for five hours, with a 13-year old charging $135 per child. If sitters could earn that much more than 10-years ago, nannies can certainly ask for more than the usual rate when working on New Year's Eve.

If you plan to charge double your typical rate, or a high flat rate, you ought to work hard and be prepared to keep the kids busy.

How much do you charge for babysitting on New Year's Eve?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mini Banana Muffins

Cooking with Kids
By The Naptime Chef 

Mini muffins are the perfect size for a quick snack. If you store them in the freezer, simply put them in the school lunchbox directly from the freezer and they will be ready to eat by lunchtime at school. I also love bringing mini muffins along on outings as a healthy snack for the kids. Don't forget that making muffins is a science lesson, so let the kids measure and mix the ingredients.

You Will Need:

1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3 bananas (small, mashed with a fork)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp hot water
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, walnuts ((optional)

What to Do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a mini-muffin tin with paper liners or rub each muffin cup with butter and set aside. In a small bowl mix the flour, nutmeg, and salt, and set side.

2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the egg and bananas and mix well. Then add the dissolved baking soda and mix again.

3. With the mixer on low slowly add in the flour and mix until it is no longer visible. If you are using chocolate chips or walnuts (or both) stir them in with a wooden spoon.

4. Scoop the mixture into the muffin cups until each one is half full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown and spring back lightly with when touched. Allow to cool before serving.

The Naptime Chef 
Photo by Stephanie Felzenberg

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

How to Make Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars

Cooking With Kids
By topsecretrecipes.com

Do you love the Cranberry Bliss Bars that are sold every holiday season at Starbucks? Well TopSecretRecipes.com has a recipe that is similar to the delicious treat found at my favorite coffee house. This isn't an easy recipe to make but when I give it as a gift during the holiday season everyone loves this holiday dessert.

You Will Need:

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries
4 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks (or high quality white chocolate chips)

4-ounces cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening

What to Do:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

2. Make the cake by beating the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix the chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate into the batter by hand. Pour the batter into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned on top. Allow the cake to cool.

3. Make the frosting by combining the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the cake.

4. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of dried cranberries over the frosting and the cake.

5. Make the drizzled icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk, and shortening. Drizzle the icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion with a squirt bottle or fill a small plastic storage bag with the icing and cut off the tip of one corner.

6. Cover the cake and let it chill out in the fridge for a couple of hours, then slice the cake.

Makes 16 bars

Photo by Stephanie Felzenberg

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Interfaith Books for the Holidays

Weekly Trip to the Library

In Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family Susan Katz Miller discusses raising kids in interfaith marriages. The author explains that nearly half of the marriages in the U.S. over the last decade have been between people of different faiths, and many of those families are raising children fully in both parents’ religious traditions.

I strongly believe that there is no harm in children learning about all religions. In the process, children will learn to love their own religion, customs, and traditions even more. Here are my suggestions for children to learn more about other holidays. Here are my selection of interfaith Christmas and Hanukkah children's books to share with children this holiday season.

Light The Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah And Christmas by Margaret Moorman

Interfaith families and families that aren't religious crave materials that validate the observance of holidays from the traditions of different faiths. In one of a very few such picture books, the author focuses on a household's joyous celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, two festivals that frequently occur close together on the wintertime calendar. The book's title reflects a motif common to both: candles in a menorah glow brightly in Emma's house during the eight days of the Jewish holiday; later, lights shimmer beautifully from her family's Christmas tree. The family's celebrations are purely secular, and Emma's response to everything -- be it getting presents or playing dreidel -- is sheer delight, which the author captures nicely in her bright, unpretentious paintings. The story, however, is very slight, and there's no sense of the origins of the holidays, which are very different.

Elijah's Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas by Michael J. Rosen

A child's vision of religious tolerance is exquisitely played out in this story about an elderly Christian barber and a Jewish child who befriends him. As a hobby, the African American barber makes elaborate woodcarvings -- many of which refer to events or characters in the Bible. Michael, a 9-year-old Jewish boy, often visits the barbershop just to admire old Elijah's carvings, especially that of Noah's Ark--a story that belongs to Jewish as well as Christian teachings. One day when Hanukkah and Christmas coincidentally overlap, Elijah gives Michael a special gift, a carved guardian angel. Immediately Michael is filled with a jumble of feelings -- gratitude for such a beautiful gift, concern that his parents might disapprove, and an even greater fear that God may frown upon a Christmas angel, "a graven image," in Michael's home. The thick sweeps of paint, the heavy uses of wood-tones, and primitive images make the settings and characters look as though Elijah carved them himself. When Michael finally reveals the carved angel to his parents, they help the young boy understand how expressions of friendship, love, and protection can be carried into any home, regardless of the household's religion. Michael J. Rosen based this story on the real-life Elijah Pierce (1892-1984), a lay minister, barber, and woodcarver from Columbus, Ohio, whose award-winning woodcarvings are now owned by the Columbus Museum of Art.

Holiday Miracles: A Christmas/Hanukkah Story by Ellyn Bache

This heartwarming story is truly an interfaith tale, a profile of a family in which the mother is Jewish and the father Christian. (This is a roman … clef: Bache has lovingly drawn from her own experience as a member of a Jewish-Catholic family.) As the parents perform the annual negotiations of latkes and parties and wrapping paper (red or blue?), their five-year-old son becomes seriously ill, making the entire family realize anew the central message of both Hanukkah and Christmas: Miracles are possible. The novella is simply and beautifully presented Bache, a Willa Cather Prize recipient, clearly knows how to tell a story. What could be cloying or manipulative is instead full of honest emotion.

Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family by Susan Katz Miller

In Being Both, Miller draws on original surveys and interviews with parents, students, teachers, and clergy, as well as on her own journey, to chronicle this controversial grassroots movement. Miller argues that there are distinct benefits for families who reject the false choice of “either/or” and instead embrace the synergy of being both. Reporting on hundreds of parents and children who celebrate two religions, she documents why couples make this choice, and how children appreciate dual-faith education. But often families who choose both have trouble finding supportive clergy and community. To that end, Miller includes advice and resources for interfaith families planning baby-welcoming and coming-of-age ceremonies, and seeking to find or form interfaith education programs. She also addresses the difficulties that interfaith families can encounter, wrestling with spiritual questions (“Will our children believe in God?”) and challenges (“How do we talk about Jesus?”). And finally, looking beyond Judaism and Christianity, Being Both provides the first glimpse of the next interfaith wave: intermarried Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist couples raising children in two religions. Being Both is at once a rousing declaration of the benefits of celebrating two religions, and a blueprint for interfaith families who are seeking guidance and community support. (Review from Amazon.com)

Friday, December 20, 2013

How to Make a Yule Log

Betty Crocker Recipe
Find Recipe at bettycrocker.com

A chocolate Yule Log is the most impressive dessert you can serve during the holiday season. It is not simple to make a Yule Log but this recipe using Betty Crocker devil's food cake mix makes the preparation much easier.

You Will Need:

Box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® devil's food cake mix
cup water
cup vegetable oil
tablespoon powdered sugar
cup whipping cream
cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz)
tablespoon corn syrup
teaspoon vanilla
Container Betty Crocker® Whipped vanilla frosting

cccWhat to Do:

1. Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick pan). Line bottom only of 15x10x1-inch pan with foil or waxed paper; spray with baking spray with flour. Place paper baking cup in each of 8 regular-size muffin cups.

2. In large bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Add cake mix, water and oil; beat on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour 3 1/2 cups batter into pan. Divide remaining batter among muffin cups.

3. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center and cupcakes test done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary, run knife around edges of pan to loosen cake. Turn cake upside down onto clean kitchen towel sprinkled with 1 tablespoon powdered sugar; carefully remove foil. While hot, carefully roll up cake and towel from narrow end. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 1 hour. Cool cupcakes 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely, about 30 minutes. Save cupcakes for another use.

4. Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, microwave whipping cream uncovered on High 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds or until it just starts to boil. Stir in chocolate chips and corn syrup; let stand 3 minutes. Beat gently with wire whisk until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Refrigerate about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until spreading consistency.

5. Unroll cake carefully, and remove towel. Spread filling evenly over cake; roll up cake. Place cooling rack on sheet of waxed paper. Place cake roll on cooling rack; frost cake. Using fork, drag tines through frosting to look like log. Let stand 15 minutes. Transfer cake to serving platter. Store loosely covered in refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pomander Balls Make Great Homemade Gifts

Christmas Scents

A pomander is a lime, lemon, or orange covered with whole cloves. Pomanders can be given as gifts to be used year-round in closets and drawers or displayed in a bowl. They can also be hung on a tree or included in potpourri. This project can be found in 365 Ways to Prepare for Christmas. Please visit our new blog address to see how to make Pomander Balls at bethebestnanny.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Should We Only Serve Kids Organic Milk?

Study Shows Benefits of Drinking Organic Milk

In the article More Helpful Fatty Acids Found in Organic Milk published in The New York Times last week, author Kenneth Chang discusses a study that shows "Whole milk from organic dairies contains far more of some of the fatty acids that contribute to a healthy heart than conventional milk, scientists are reporting."

The study's lead author says drinking whole organic milk “will certainly lessen the risk factor for cardiovascular disease,”

A debate has been raging for years over whether girls are now reaching puberty earlier than ever before. The debate escalated in 1997, when the journal Pediatrics published a study of 17,000 girls by Dr. Marcia Herman-Giddens of the University of North Carolina that found outward signs of puberty that precede menstruation — budding breasts and pubic hair — were hitting younger. Many say that cow’s milk is to blame.

What do you think? Should we only serve children organic milk?

The New York Times

Sunday, December 15, 2013

10 Best Wooden Toy Gifts for Kids

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas for Nannies

To see our favorite wooden toy gifts for kids please visit our new blog address at bethebestnanny.com

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Paper Garland

Making a Simple Paper Chain

Making paper garland is one of the easiest crafts to make during the holidays. It gives the kids an easy way to practice cutting and pasting. This simple paper garland decorates my charge's fireplace mantel in her bedroom. Follow these steps to learn how to make a classic paper chain:

You Will Need:

Colorful Construction Paper
aaaSafety Scissors
Glue Sticks

What to Do:

1. Fold construction paper accordion style into eight strips.

2. Cut the construction paper along the folded lines into strips.

aaa3. Have the kids use a glue stick to put paste to one side of a strip of paper.

4. Roll a paper strip and hold it together to form a loop.

5. Repeat the steps above linking each new loop through the last ring made. Attach the rest of the paper strips in the same way, one through the next, to form a garland chain.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

aaaCooking With Kids

Nothing tastes better than a salty and sweet treat. Chocolate covered pretzels not only taste great and are easy to make, if you wrap them in colored cellophane with a ribbon they make a great holiday gift as well. While the 13-year-old boy I care for was able to make the chocolate covered pretzels that are pictured without my help I had to help my younger charges roll the pretzel logs in the sprinkles and small candies. I didn't allow the young kids to work with the melted chocolate. Here's what to do:

aaaWhat You Need:

1 12-Ounce Package Milk Chocolate Chips
1 12-Ounce Package White Chocolate Chips
2 Dozen Pretzel Rods
Assorted Sprinkles or Small Candies
Waxed Paper
Baking Sheet
Microwave Safe Bowls

What to Do:

1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.

2. Place the milk chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and the white chocolate chips in another bowl.

aaa3. Put sprinkles and candies in a shallow bowl or baking pan.

4. Microwave one bowl on high for one-minute. Remove and stir with a rubber spatula. The chips should melt while you are stirring, but if they don't, you can continue to microwave for 15 more seconds, then stir again.

5. Dip one pretzel rod into the milk chocolate using a spoon to spread the chocolate halfway up the rod. Twist the rod to let the excess chocolate drip off.

6. Roll the pretzel in the sprinkles. Place the pretzel on a piece of wax paper to dry.

7. Once you have used up the milk chocolate repeat the process with the white chocolate chips.

8. Let the pretzels dry for several hours before wrapping them to give as gifts.

My mother's recipe box and photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Choose Holiday Gifts that Encourage Quality Play

How to Promote Quality Play

When choosing gifts for children the holiday season it's best to choose simple toys of quality that promote quality play. According to the American Association for the Child's Right to Play quality play promotes creativity, language development, physical development, thinking skills, and social skills. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood recommends avoiding electronic toys, games, and DVDs that turn children into passive players whose main acitivity becomes pushing a button.

Best Gift Choices to Promote Quality Play

For 0 - 12 Months Choose:
Rattles and soft toys
Simple books
Stacking cups and blocks
Musical instruments, peekaboo toys, and mirrors

For Toddlers 12 - 36 Months Choose:
Push and pull toys
Musical instruments that encourage repetition, rhythm, movement, and clapping
Nesting blocks and shape sorters
Books on one topic that interests the child
Art supplies

Five Tips for Encouraging Quality Play

1. Reduce or eliminate screen time: Children may be bored or anxious at first, unsure of how to entertain themselves. Be prepared with simple playthings, good storybooks, and suggestions for make-believe play to inspire their inner creativity.

2. Choose simple toys: The child's imagination is the engine of healthy play. Simple toys and natural materials, like wood, boxes, balls, sand and shovels, beeswax, clay, stuffed animals, and generic dolls invite children to create their own scenes — and then knock them down and start over. Battery-driven gadgets distract them from real play.

3. Encourage outdoor adventures: Sticks, mud, water, rocks, wind — even bugs and weeds — make a paradise for play. Reserve time every day, when possible, for outdoor play where children can run, climb, find secret hiding places, and dream up dramas.

4. Let your work inspire play: When adults are deeply engaged in work — like cooking, folding laundry, cleaning, or washing dishes — their example inspires children to deeply immerse themselves in their play. Avoid interrupting or taking over play, but be available as needed. Let children know their play is important.

5. Become an advocate for pro-play policies: Share the evidence about the importance of imaginative play in preschool and kindergarten, and of recess for older children with other parents, teachers, and school officials. Lobby for safe, well-maintained parks in your community. Start an annual local Play Day, (for how-to tips, visit: www.ipausa.org).

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Children's Books Make Great Gifts

 Weekly Trip to the Library

Reading Christmas books to children is a great holiday tradition. It enhances their beautiful memories of Christmas, as they are snuggled up close and warm, feeling secure, and loved. Reading Christmas books add to that certain magic only a child's imagination could create.The best fictional Christmas books are the classic ones. You don't have to buy them, because they are usually found in the library. But, owning the books makes a Christmas tradition of reading it during the holidays. These books make great Christmas gifts for your charges.

To see this article please visit our new blog address at bethebestnanny.com

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gingerbread House

Cooking With Kids

Nothing is more fun than making a gingerbread house with the kids. We made the gingerbread house in the photo with a kit. The kit has the cookies already baked and in the shapes needed to make the house. The kit also includes icing, candies, and coconut to use to decorate the house.

But, if you want to make a real gingerbread house from scratch here are the directions from simplyrecipes.com.

You Will Need:

6 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 Tbsp water

What to Do:

1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses and water until well combined.

3. Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead (or use your mixer's dough hook) until well blended. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

To see the rest of the directions, including how to decorate the gingerbread house visit simplyrecipes.com

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How To Use Time-Outs With Toddlers

Heidi Murkoff's Way to Teach Limits

In the book What to Expect When You're Expecting: Fourth Editionby Heidi Murkoff the author explains that got an opinion on this controversial topic of time-outs, but done right, time-outs can be an effective way to teach limits. Murkoff says that the key is to think of time-out not as a punishment, but as a brief (emphasis on brief!) break from a negative situation.

For example, if a three-year-old knows what he's doing is wrong (like shoving his sister off the swing) but does it anyway, removing him from the playground for a minute or so sends the message that bad behavior won't be tolerated. A short breather also gives him time to regain control of his impulses (at least temporarily).

Murkoff admits that time-outs aren't right for every child and don't work in every situation. But, here's her guide to using them wisely:

Gauge the child's temperament. If the tot is especially sensitive, he may feel very rejected
when banished from your side, perhaps fearing you don't like him anymore. If that's the case, skip time-outs, which are designed to teach limits and self-calming skills, not to inflict emotional pain.

Pick the right spot. Time-outs should be served in a dull, safe place, away from things of interest (toys, TV, books) and fragile or potentially dangerous items (breakables or tables with sharp corners, which may be trouble if a tantrum ensues). Keep the culprit in sight (no closets or darkened rooms!) but away from the fun of interaction with you (or anyone else). A young toddler can be plopped in a playpen reserved only for time-outs, but if he can climb out, opt instead for an out-of-the-way chair or the bottom stair. One definite no-no: Don't use his room (and especially not his crib) as a penalty box — those places should be associated only with positive experiences.

Be an escort. Guide the child to his time-out spot, and calmly tell him to sit. Don't scold
because lengthy lectures are lost on toddlers, particularly in the heat of the moment, but do briefly state why he's there ("Hitting hurts people"). That will help him understand that he's losing the privilege of your attention because of his behavior — not because you love him any less.

Follow through. If the child refuses to stay seated (and he probably will), firmly return him to his time-out spot as many times as necessary, keeping a hand on his shoulder, but not otherwise interacting. If, once the time-out has ended, he immediately commits the crime again, repeat the time-out.

Time time-outs right. Withdrawing your attention for as little as five seconds may be all it takes to let a toddler know you're not happy with his conduct, but 30 seconds to a minute is a more likely time frame for time-outs. Time passes very slowly at this age, especially if you're confined to the naughty chair. You might try using a kitchen timer ("When the bell rings you can get up").

Don't use time-out too much. Don't let them become your only form of discipline. Dole them out only for actions you've previously warned your toddler are unacceptable; don't use them for first-time offenses.

Reference: What to Expect When You're Expecting: Fourth Edition

You can get your own copy by clicking links above or below.

What to Expect When You're Expecting: Fourth Edition

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

Are the Kids in Your Care at a Healthy Weight?

Studies Suggest that Smaller Bowls May Keep Kids from Overeating

Are you like me and if you have milk left in your cereal bowl you keep adding more cereal to use up the milk? In my battle to lose weight I know firsthand that when I use a larger cereal bowl for breakfast I eat more cereal and when I am served meals on large plates in restaurants I eat more.

Now some small studies published online on November 18 in the Journal of Pediatrics show that using smaller bowls for meals may keep children from overeating as well.

In one of the studies researchers gave 8- or 16-ounce bowls to 69 preschoolers. Adults then served the children cereal and milk in increments until the children said they'd had enough. Children with the larger bowls asked for 87 percent more cereal and milk.

In a second experiment, 18 elementary school students were given smaller or larger bowls. Secret scales were embedded within the tables to weigh each child's serving and to determine how much the children ate. Those with larger bowls asked for 69 percent more cereal and milk, and ate 52 percent more than those with smaller bowls.

Here is a link for information on how to help keep kids a healthy weight.

Reference: Healthyliving.msn.com