Category Archives: Lifestyle & Leisure Blog

Choosing A Summer Camp For Your Kids

Ah, summer. Time for swimming in the pool, playing outside and…vegging on the couch? I don't think so! As parents, the last thing we want to see for three months is our child watching too much T.V. and doing little else. Fortunately, the antidote exists: summer camp. Most cities have a wide variety of summer camp activities, from active play to specialty themes, like dancing or theater. It's a matter of knowing what you want and where to find it.

Start With Her Interests

It's much easier to wake your child up at 7 a.m. during the summer if she knows she's going to do something she loves. Explore some ideas together. If she takes dance, does she want to take even more at a dance camp, or would she want to try something new like soccer or science? For younger children, they may not yet have developed strong interests, so look at camps that offer a variety of activities so they can get exposed to different things.

If you need to place your child in several weeks of camp, consider choosing different camps to keep her interested. The drawback of this is that she'll have to make new friends each week, and you will be shuttling her all over town. Some camps, like at the YMCA, offer different types of camps in one location, so your child could take dinosaur camp one week, then ice skating, then swimming.

Will you send her to day camp or overnight camp? When kids are ten or so, they may be interested in spreading their wings and staying away from home for a few weeks. See what options are in your area.

Budgeting for Camp

Camp's not cheap, so determine how much you want to spend and how many weeks you want to put your child in camp. And always ask about discounts! Many camps will give you a lower rate if you have more than one child in the camp or if you sign up for multiple weeks and pay in advance. Some newer camps that are trying to get more customers offer a deal like buying a few weeks and getting one free. Also check your local Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com deals.

Where to Look

Bigger cities usually have a camp guide in the newspaper that will describe each camp and provide contact information. You can also look online. KidsCamps.com allows you to search by location or type of camp. You can also go directly to a museum's website to see what sort of offerings they have for the summer. Churches too offer summer camp, and you usually are not required to be a member of the church.

Ask friends what camps they recommend, and look for reviews online. Not all camps are created equal; look for one where the staff genuinely care about kids and are organized. There's nothing worse than a camp counselor not knowing where your child is at pickup time!

Photo: Flickr user Nic's events. Creative Commons 2.0.

6 Pets To Think Twice About Getting

Pets can add a lot to your household, but some add more work, stress and cost than others. Some can be outright dangerous, while others will outlive you. Here's a list of pets you might not want to own.

1. Monkeys

Sure, they're adorable, but they're wild animals. Many states (currently 20) ban keeping them as pets. Many monkey lovers keep them anyway, treating them as babies. The problem is: the babies grow up and become belligerent adults. They are unpredictable and can bite or attack you and your children. Monkeys can live up to 40 years, which is a huge commitment for a pet, and it can be difficult to find a vet who will treat their many medical problems.

Monkeys are messy and expensive. You need a large cage to keep them happy but prevent them from roaming around your home and destroying it. You're better off leaving them at the zoo.

2. Horses

While the average person won't have a horse in their apartment, horses do require a lot of attention and money. Just like any other pets, they need vaccines and vet visits, but they also need trips to the dentist and blacksmith, as well as regular worming appointments. If you can't drive your horse to these appointments, you'll have to pay for the service provider to visit your horse.

18 Ways Kid Can Stay Cool This Summer

Summer is a wonderful season for spending time together as a

family. It can also bring some of the hottest weather, and unless you have access

to a pool or live near the beach, staying cool in the heat can be a challenge.

Our area even restricts the days you can turn on the sprinklers and use the

hose. Here are 18 ways you and your kids can beat the heat.

Freeze It!

1. Freeze a large bed sheet and take it outside for picnic; perfect

for really hot days or those without

air conditioning.

2. Freeze grapes on skewers. See how Marie of Make and Takes

did it.

3. Freeze your favorite cookies and crumble them over ice cream for

something a little different.

4. Freeze tubes of flavored yogurt. Cut them in half for little

mouths to eat.

5. Freeze banana halves and smother in melted chocolate. See

Craftzine for details.

6. Freeze toys into a block of ice and let kids use a hammer to

get the toys out.

Giving Is The New Receiving

Giving

Weddings are a time for

celebrating two people coming together and starting a new life and a new

family together. And I think it’s safe to say that most girls start dreaming about their

wedding day way before they actually walk down the aisle. But there are some who feel like this will never be a reality for them… even after they’ve

found the one they love. But don’t fret! While celebrating your own wedding, it's possible to help others celebrate theirs.

Charitable organizations like

How To Style Your Engagement Photos

Engagement

One of the first vendors

couples look to book is their wedding photographer. And if this isn’t on your

priority list, it should be, because your photos are the tangible memories you

will have for the rest of your life! So wedding photography is an investment

and should be viewed as such. Engagement photos are

optional, but no less important.

Photographers will often include the engagement session in your wedding

package, which is something every couple should take advantage of. Why bother,

you ask? An engagement shoot gives you the opportunity to bond with the

photographer and see how they work. It also gives you and your partner extra

time to get comfortable in front of the camera. Think of it as practice for

your wedding day. While you aren’t wearing your wedding gear, it’s essentially

still you, your partner and the photographer trying to capture your

relationship on film.

With that said, it’s also important to look at your engagement session as an

opportunity to get some good pre-marriage photos of you and your honey. Why not

make the most of it? It’s been my experience that a lot of couples go into

their engagement shoot completely unprepared. They quickly think through

what they are going to wear and they just want the backdrop to be “in a field

somewhere.” I believe that engagement photos are too important to take so

lightly, so here are some tips for how to style your engagement photos in order to get the most out of them.

What to Wear

Separation Anxiety And Your Child

Little WorriedThere was a little tap on

my shoulder. “I am so sorry, but I think you need to come and get your son. He

just won’t calm down.” I walked into our church nursery to see my little guy,

red-faced and crying. Letting out a big huff, he reached out his chubby little

9-month-old arms for me. I scooped him up and we headed home. He had never had

a problem leaving me before. In fact, I had been leaving him in the church

nursery since he was two weeks old. Still, the separation anxiety he was

experiencing ended up lasting about a month. And it turns out that separation anxiety

Babies And Pets Can Get Along

No

matter if your baby comes first, or your pet, it's important to take steps to

ensure that the two live together in harmony, and that your baby is safe at all

times. Here are my tips for how to make this happen.

Let The Two Get to Know One Another

Babies

and pets are naturally curious, so let them explore one another. Dogs and cats

may want to smell your baby; this is fine as long as you have control of the

animal in the event that she lashes out at the baby. Animals can be very

jealous of babies, especially if they were in the house first. You want the pet

to become accustomed to your baby, but make it clear that she no longer rules

the roost.

For

babies who are beginning to crawl and grab, let them feel your pet gently, and

show them how to touch softly. You want to teach your baby early on how to treat

your pet (not as a tiny horse).

  • Don't put your baby on the floor when

    introducing her to your pet, nor up high if you have a dog. Put them at the

    same level.

  • For cats, it's sometimes best to let them

    observe from a distance until they're ready for an up-close meeting.

  • Restrain animals for their introduction to your

    baby.

  • Always monitor interactions between the two

    until they develop a relationship.

Signs Things Aren't Going So Well

If

your animal shows signs of aggression, it's wise to back off on the bonding

between baby and pet. Cats may push their ears back to show you they're not

happy, and both dogs and cats may growl or make unpleasant sounds. These are

warning signs, so heed them before your baby gets scratched or bitten.

Cats

are finicky, and may show their displeasure in other ways, such as using the

toilet in places other than the litter box. Your cat may do this to show she's

in charge. In this situation, keep the cat away from the baby until she

adjusts, and make sure to pay plenty of attention to the cat to show you still

love her.

Building the Relationship

This

will be an ongoing process. Gradually let your pet and baby spend more time

around one another, even if from across the room. Give plenty of attention to

your pet in front of your baby to show your pet that you don't devote all your

attention to what she will see as a new

alien. Teach your baby about boundaries and discourage her from putting her

hand or face too close to your pet's face, as well as avoiding any other areas

the pet doesn't like to be touched. Monitor the relationship until you feel

confident the two have bonded and won't hurt one another.

Pets

can greatly enhance a child's life, and growing up together can mean a long and

healthy relationship. Just do your part as the parent (of both!) to keep the peace.

Photo:

A Handmade Life Meet Laura Treloar Jeweler

Laura TreloarWelcome to the Handmade Life series, where artists and artisans share their stories, giving us a glimpse into today's creative world. In this installment, I am pleased to interview Laura Treloar of Specimental, a talented jeweler who makes gorgeous, modern jewelry using chunky crystals and rough gems. Her work has a raw, authentic quality that really draws the eye and sets it apart as something special.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your art form.

I am a single mom to three little children, ages 7, 6, and 4. I am also

a full-time high school art teacher. Between all of this, I keep a

studio in my East Vancouver home, where I create my pieces and store my

specimen collection. My background is in visual arts, with a focus on

sculpture. I became interested in metalsmithing about two years ago,

and it is by far my favorite medium.

What is it about jewelry, particularly the materials you use, that attracted you to it?

I have a mineral and gem specimen obsession, so my work gives me a good

reason to collect every interesting piece I can find. I have hundreds

upon hundreds of them in my studio.

Quartz Charm Earrings

What's your favorite part of creating your work?

My favorite part is finding a new client who has a unique idea for a

piece they would like to work on with me, it is such a challenging and

rewarding way to collaborate.

What's the most challenging part of creating your work?

Without a doubt, trying to find the time to get everything done in my life

that needs to be done is my biggest challenge. I get by on very little

sleep and extreme time management.

What's your current favorite product, and why?

I would have to say that my current favorite is my pearl and raw

diamond collection. The pieces are quite popular, and each one is a unique

creation. I am currently collecting more unique diamond specimens, and

am eager to get to work with them. I have two black diamond cubes that

are burning a hole in my studio, so to speak.

Pearl and Raw Diamond

Can you share some tips on how to combine multiple elements into a single piece of jewelry?

When combining elements such as different mineral specimens, I am

usually attracted to a color combination, or to a compelling

juxtaposition of textures. I mostly fabricate my pieces, which means

building jewelry from sheet and wire. I strive to find different ways

to form and texture these precisely milled materials, thus creating

something organic and unusual from them.

Feather Bib Necklace

Laura certainly succeeds in creating organic and unusual pieces. Her jewelry is breathtaking. Considering color combinations or the way textures go together seems critical in any jewelry design, especially when working with the intricate forms of crystals and gemstones like she does. To learn more about Laura or to see more of her work, visit her Etsy Shop, Specimental.