By Moira Bundschuh, Local Childcare Coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair
Choosing the right child care option can be a daunting task. Options abound from daycare to live-in caretakers, and with them come varying price points, flexibility and personality fits. But one option that often passes families by when they’re thinking about child care is au pairs, which are child caregivers from other countries who live with local families (host families) and provide 45 hours of flexible childcare per week in exchange for room and board and a weekly stipend.
Au pairs come from around the world, and offer a unique cultural exchange with their host families. They also offer an affordable alternative to the daunting expense of child care (Massachusetts has one of the highest in the nation), weighing in at $360 per week plus room and board, regardless of the number of children they’re caring for. Au pairs are a government-regulated program, and caregivers are between 18 and 26 years old, proficient in English and receive 32 hours of childcare training through an agency like Cultural Care. (If they’re caring for infants under 2 years old, that requirement bumps up to 200 hours.)
As the Local Childcare Coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair, I work with host families around the Cape to help them select the best au pair and then keep in touch with them throughout the year or more that the au pair lives with the family, answering questions and ensuring the transition is smooth. As such, I’ve learned a lot about how to decide whether au pair care is the right choice for your family. If you’re considering child care options and are curious about au pairs, here are some things to consider:
Moira Bundschuh is the Local Childcare Coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair on Cape Cod. She grew up on Cape Cod and returned to Hyannis to raise her two daughters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though I am lucky enough to call Cape Cod home these days, I was born in Providence and lived in Rhode Island until I was five. One of my earliest memories is of my uncle buying me a Del’s Lemonade at Roger Williams Park Zoo. I can still taste the cool lemon and remember the excitement at being with my very cool uncle and the amazement I felt at seeing so many animals. I’ve been looking forward to sharing a similar experience with my little ones and had been planning on taking them to Roger Williams Park Zoo all summer. The weeks went by and summer has flown, it is nearly the first week of school, and we still haven’t been to the zoo! It’s a zoo emergency! So this past weekend I decided to make it a priority and I’m so glad that I did! What an adventure we had.
If you’ve been to the zoo previously, but haven’t been there in the past year you are in for a surprise! Donors such as Alex and Ani, Hasbro, CVS Caremark, Citizens Bank, and many others have given generous funding to update large portions of the zoo. It was such a treat to experience the upgrades that these donations have made possible! This year the zoo also offered special activities that are only available during the spring and summer. These activities end September 1st and if you can get there this week, then go! First was Butterflies in Bloom, which is an indoor sanctuary filled with a variety of species of butterflies and plants that attract and support them. The girls were thrilled with the close contact to these beauties and imagine my shock when my six year old said “Look! I can see his Proboscis!” apparently she was paying attention during camp at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History!
The Zoo offers the special activities at an additional, but very affordable cost, and also has the option of purchasing an Explorer Pass which gives unlimited access to all of the activities for one price. This is the route we chose and I’m glad we did because the kids couldn’t get enough of them! The second activity brought us up close and personal with some of the zoo residents – the camels! The girls got to take a ride on a camel! They loved it and my four year old ended up going on multiple times by herself!
My six year olds favorite activity came later in the day – rock climbing! This activity is a great way to get some big muscle activity going after all the walking of the zoo. A big climbing structure has been erected in the center of the zoo with harnesses and ropes. My girl loved trying to get to the top and the feeling of zipping down as she repelled back to solid ground. She might have chosen to spend all day doing this one activity, but in the end the draw of the animals was too much and she had to keep checking them out.
There is a great variety of animals and the zoo is perfectly sized for children, you can visit all the animals in one trip and feel like you’ve seen a huge assortment of creatures. We loved the giraffes, elephants, and zebras that are nearest to the entrance and guarantee that you will see some beautiful animals right away. My kiddos also loved the seals, the snow leopard, and the red panda. We were lucky enough to be there when a wallaby joey was just leaving its mama’s pouch and exploring the world independently. In this area you are really close to the wallabies and kangaroos and they might cross right in front of you on the path, it was so cool to be so close to these guys! We also got to see a baby red crowned crane which I wouldn’t even have noticed if not for my six year olds keen eyes. The giant anteaters are also proud new parents, but they are not back on display yet as they are still bonding. It’s such a treat for all of us to see this cycle of life in these animals we don’t get to see every day.
For those that have been before, you may remember the farmyard area. This is one of the areas that has been completely renovated and improved! It is so fun! In the new Alex and Ani Farmyard, the kids get to practice collecting eggs and milking cows. They also get to go in and play with the goats. There are barn owls, alpacas, miniature donkeys, pigs, and other farm animals to visit. My kids loved brushing the little goats and the opportunity to spend time doing that provided some welcome quiet, calm moments in the middle of our exciting zoo day. All the goats are named and the zoo workers will teach them to you.
We ended up getting a late lunch/early dinner there to boost our energy for the last portion of the day. They had lots of kid friendly food at affordable prices and yummy stuff for grownups too. And of course, we had to get our kid’s their first Del’s lemonade (and some for mama too)!
It was a fantastic day and we all loved it! The kids can’t wait to go back and they’re asking to go in October for the annual Jack O’Lantern Spectacular when there will be over 5,000 carved pumpkins displayed. There were signs up around the park and they really captured the kids’ imaginations! They love the idea of Halloween at the Zoo and seeing so many jack-o-lanterns at once! Every year a new theme is chosen for this festival and this year’s theme is “Jack O’Lanterns A to Z” and the pumpkin art (many carved by professional artists) will be arranged in scenes in alphabetical order, such as D is for Dinosaur, F is for Fantasy, and so on. There’s even a section honoring inspirational individuals such as Nelson Mandela and Princess Diana. There is a grand finale called the Laughing Tree which has hundreds of glowing jack-o-lanterns on the ground and high up in the trees. The crew, Passion for Pumpkins, that creates the pumpkins works nearly around the clock for 32 nights keeping the pumpkins fresh for visitors, so crazy! It sounds so cool, and I’m excited to go see it this year for the first time with my little ones!
The show runs at the Zoo from October 2nd through November 2nd from 6-11pm and is a major fundraiser for the Zoo. I would suggest heading to the Zoo after lunch and visiting all the sites there and then enjoying the early hours of the show with your kiddos. Or you can have an early dinner at my awesome cousin Ed’s restaurant, Vanity Supper Club in Providence, which is delicious and a really cool spot!
Ok back to our day, we ended at “Our Big Back Yard”, which is an amazing play and exploration area for kids and families. There is an indoor activity space, a special place to trade nature items with other kids, an outdoor play space with “the Drip Drop Water Garden,” “The Sticks & Stones Building Zone,” “Creativity Corner” where kids can make nature art, and the “CVS Caremark All Kids Can Treehouse” which has tons of hands on activities and cool corners to explore. With swings, climbing structures and tunnels carved out of the earth and made from trees, it is a great spot to end the day and get out wiggles before the ride back to the Cape. We brought a change of clothes and a bathing suit so the kids could play in the water area and the dirt without worrying about ruining their clothes for the ride home.
We had a great time at the Roger Williams Park Zoo and loved all the activities; I heard rumors that the climbing wall may still be up in October, but no promises. If it is, definitely participate! If you miss the seasonal activities this year, I’ve been assured there will be some awesome ones starting next spring as well. It’s so fun to explore attractions that are a quick trip from the Cape; sometimes we do need to go over the bridge!
Have you been to the Zoo? What did you think? What’s your favorite day trip from the Cape?
The annual Falmouth Rotary Craft fair is back! And this year promises to be even better with a great local entertainment lineup. As soon as we saw the famous Ms. Amy from Mother Goose on the Loose we cleared our calendars for Sunday for a nice relaxing story hour! Other entertainment will include their FAMOUS Old Time Fiddler Contest as well as a Fishing Derby for Kids, a USA Kung Fu Demo, Frank O’Rourke, a local musician, and dance demonstrations by Cape Cod Dance Center and the Falmouth Dance Academy. Eash year we attend this event to get some early holiday shopping done and to relax and enjoy some time with our local friends while enjoying the lively atmosphere!
For more information on the Old Time Fiddler Contest visit their event page here. And don't forget to check out the video below of the couple who fiddled last year!
As you know Rotary is a cause near and dear to our hearts. Their motto of Service Above Self and the 4 Way Test is one we try every day to abide by. We began covering the Craft Fair in 2012 with our Video tour of the event including highlighting those delicious apple cider donuts!
The Falmouth Rotary Club, both globally and locally contributes so much good in the world including the local scholarships they give away and the upcoming Guatemalan school project that you will be hearing TONS about in the fall as our local kids (Falmouth) will be contributing. The local Falmouth Club donated the helicopter landing pad at Falmouth Hospital, the parking lot at Spohr Gardens, and they raised over $10,000 in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake to Shelterboxes for people to live in. Rotary is a great organization and we encourage you to support your local groups all over Cape Cod and the world as they seek to better the world we live in.
Falmouth Rotary Announces 14th Annual Crafts & Antique Fair;
Over 2,500 Expected to Attend
Old-Time Fiddle Contest Featured
The Falmouth Rotary announces that it will hold its 14th annual Crafts Fair, September 13th and 14th, at the Falmouth Marine Park “Band Shell”. Hours for the fair are 8am- 4pm both Saturday and Sunday.
“The Rotary’s Annual Crafts Fair is a family event and has become a tremendous success,” said Rotary President Rich Edes. The fair attracts over 2,500 people, over the 2 day events, who shop at over 60 vendor booths.
“With so many booths and a wide variety of products, the fair delivers a great consumer event, with vendors offering antique furnishings, hand-made and estate jewelry, as well as china and glassware. Each year we sell out our booth allotment, said the Rotary spokesman
The event will feature a judged “Old-Time Fiddle Contest” with over a dozen fiddlers competing. This year Falmouth Rotary has expanded their entertainment schedule to include a Fishing Derby for Kids, a USA Kung Fu Demo, Frank O’Rourke, a local musician, dance demonstrations by Cape Cod Dance Center and the Falmouth Dance Academy, and a Mother Goose on the Loose session with the popular Ms. Amy!
“We expect that this musical highlight will add additional sparkle to an already lively fair. Last year’s Fiddle Contest and other entertainment was a tremendous success and was well attended,” said Edes.
“The Craft Fair, in its 14th year, is now a tradition and is one of the most visible ways Falmouth Rotarians support their community,” said Edes. Proceeds from the Craft Fair help Rotary fund its’ scholarships for Falmouth students, efforts to support clean waters and Rotary’s worldwide effort to eradicate polio.
“Founded in 1927, Falmouth Rotary is very active in our community in both large and small ways,” said Edes. Besides, through our scholarships the Falmouth Rotary has helped the East Falmouth Elementary School expand its math and sciences book collection, helped expand parking at Spohr Gardens, has donated funds to VIPS(Volunteers in Public Schools), funded the sign at the Gus Canty center and the kiosk at the Town Hall.
“Falmouth Rotary efforts even made the helicopter pad at Falmouth Hospital a reality,” said Edes.
Entry is just $2.00 and offers an affordable day of fun for the entire family, he added.
Visit Falmouth Rotary by going to: http://www.falmouthrotary.com
Whether your student is entering Kindergarten
Setting Up For Success
By Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
I trust that if you make a sincere effort toward helping your child make a strategy to have a successful year that your “last-year C student” will be a “this-year B student.” Your job is to coach your child to be a successful student. You do not have to accept mediocre school performance, nor do you have to watch over them and do a lot of yelling, screaming and pleading for them to do what they are supposed to do.
Have the students in your care fill out this questionnaire, followed by an appointment with you to go over it. Motivate…Keep it positive…Be a problem solver and help them be a problem solver…enthusiastically look forward to the 6 week review date and even more enthusiastically, to that first report card!
If you are having trouble viewing Setting Up for Success below, just click on the link above to download it.
Something that a 5 year old and a 15 year old have in common is that they can both be expected to take responsibility for learning. In three short weeks (21 days) of consistent parenting, a 5 year old can establish the habit of taking out a workbook page and completing it. Maybe it’s a page of copying letters or maybe a page of circling groups of 5 marbles. Just like they can tell you that after Martha Speaks comes Curious George, they can tell you that after snack comes letter practice. You don’t have to tell them. They tell you.
Likewise, a 15 year old can come home from school, play 45 minutes of Grand Theft Auto (if you allow that kind of thing), and then sit down and do their Algebra homework. You don’t tell them. They do it because it’s their responsibility.
A 5 year old and a 15 year old can wake up to their favorite song on their “i” device. Your job is to make sure they are emerging from their room to a peaceful and pleasant environment, there is hot water for their shower and food to nourish them for their morning.
I am working with 8, 9, 10, …16 year olds who have to be pleaded with to take a shower, brush their teeth, put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket… If this describes your child, pick one area and monitor them while they monitor themselves for 21 days, the number of days it takes to form a new habit. Please contact me if you need help setting this up. It’s a crisis call for age 18 when your child graduates high school and has no clue how to move out of your house.
“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”
What we are looking for in our children is a sparkle in their eye with each new idea! But even more so, we are looking for their ability to summon up the energy within themselves when there is no new idea and no sparkle, just a task that needs to be completed because it is their responsibility.
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
Disclaimer: We received admission as park of our affliation with the US Family Guide Blogger Network. All thoughts and opinions are solely the author's own.
We decided last weekend to escape the usual excitement of Road Race weekend and head up to New Hampshire. Along the way we stopped in at Liquid Planet Water Park in Candia, NH. The waterpark was themed as an outer space alien adventure. We were sad to have arrived the day prior to their Star Wars day but we did get a chance to pose with R2D2 when we entered.
Make sure to check out our fun videos in this blog including Tiny Man's
Tip: Get their early as this place is very popular locally and as the day progresses more and more people arrive.
The park also had 3 sets of water slides which even the littles could go on. The patrons have a choice of using a water mat or going without and we highly recommend if you are an adult to definitely grab a mat. They also have a new waterslide called: Shooting Stars where you slide down a 40 foot vertical drop racing a friend! Behind the water slides was Crater Lake which the zip line crossed. Crater Lake is a spring fed old fashioned swimming hole, complete with a waterslide floating out near the middle. We watched many people zipping over the water park and then over Crater Lake having a fantastic time!
Liquid Planet Water Park is only open in the summer and will be closing on Labor Day. Our only negative was that we had not found this place sooner as it was tons of fun and definitely a hit with the smaller kiddos and we wished it was located here on Cape Cod (new business venture perhaps?). So next summer when you are heading north to camp or visiting attractions up this way, definitely make Liquid Planet a stop on your trip as it was fun, refreshing and definitely made our long drive easier!
By: Suzanne Golden, M.S., CCC-SLP
I can’t believe it is that time of year again but, summer is coming to an end and the start of school is right around the corner! Whether your child is entering preschool for the first time or heading off to high school, it is important to promote a healthy attitude of school and learning at home. If you have a motivated learner, this might not be a difficult task. However, if your child struggles in school or has a language disability, it may prove difficult to keep them motivated. Here are some tips for making the back-to-school transition a little easier for your struggling learner.
· Talk to your child about the upcoming school year and find out what his/her fears, hopes and goals are
· Highlight some of your child’s favorite things from the previous year to remind them what they like about school.
· Take your child to the school for a tour, even if your child attended this school
last year, taking him/her there to walk around and become reacquainted before everyone else returns will be less overwhelming.
· For younger children you may want to read some books about the first day of school
o A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon
o First Grade Stinks! By Mary Ann Rodman
o Ready for Kindergarten, Stinky Face? By Lisa McCourt
· Make “back-to-school” shopping fun and use it as a way to get your child excited about school by purchasing some items he/she really wants
Back-to-school time is always a time of nerves and excitement for both parents and children. I hope some of these tips help to ease you back into the routine. And just as a reminder, if you are ever concerned about your child’s speech and language development, do not hesitate to contact the SLP at your child’s school or a local SLP in private practice.
Good luck and happy back-to-school!
To schedule a screening or assessment please contact Golden Speech Therapy today. www.goldenspeechtherapy.com
Golden Speech Therapy
Suzanne Golden, M.S., CCC-SLP
“…one thread that holds mommies together is that we have a heart for children.
When Moms Band Together
By Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
We moms offer everything from love to limits and all that lies between. Moms support other moms and exchange valuable bits of information about everything from where to get the best price, what’s the best product, what it feels like when our child hurts, how to get through the long night, and much more.
My thoughts keep returning to the post thread last month that stirred up so much emotion about the immigrant children. I was really saddened by the verbal denigration exchanged between “mommies.”
In my heart, I believe that almost every one of us moms would come to the aid of any child of any race, religion or nationality, were they to scrape their knee, be lost at the mall, or even look hungry at the playground when your child is having their snack.
In my heart, I believe that each and every one of us moms are saddened by the thought of any child, in any corner of the world being abused, neglected, starving, suffering disease or being orphaned, and that if it could be possible, every child should be rescued from these conditions.
Another mom with a view that opposes your view is not necessarily a heartless mom, or ignorant.
There are factors to consider when we think about the homeless immigrant children. For some, all factors are going to fall away because the emotional factors hits them so hard and all they see is that we should take care of these children. Others feel that the American Government should simply take care of them. Others will say, “I have room for one or two children in my house. How can I help?”
I feel we should be able to agree that there are many factors to consider and different views, but that one thread that holds mommies together is that we have a heart for children. We don’t want our own or another mom’s children to suffer. We are sickened by child suffering.
Let us all look around and say to ourselves, “What can I do for these children?”
· You can cast your vote for the politicians working on the side of feeding, clothing, sheltering and meeting medical and dental needs if you feel that is the right approach.
· You can online search if there are collection sites for these children for food, clothing, educational supplies, medical supplies, etc.
· You can inquire as to whether you can shelter one or more of these children.
· You can see if there is somewhere to donate money for this cause.
· You can pray for the children and the whole situation.
We should support those who wish to make these efforts for the children. It is their heart that guides them.
However, let me point out just some of the many other realities;
· During my years at The Cape & Islands Department of Social Services (currently The Dept. of Children and Families), almost every day I entered the building there were children in the lobby waiting for the homefinder (a social worker whose job it is to find placements for the children) to find them a home, hopefully for as long as needed, but in reality, sometimes they were back in the lobby the next day because the home that was found was just for one night.
· Also during my years in this field, I have worked closely with many homeless families. These are families where young children and their parent(s) are in shelters with many other families, one-room hotels or temporary housing units.
· There are children right here in our communities who don’t have winter coats, they don’t have school supplies or a backpack like their classmates on the first day of school, their parent might not have transportation to their doctor appointment, they might not have breakfast or any milk in their refrigerator.
· There are countless numbers of children in foster care, either waiting to be freed for adoption or ALREADY freed for adoption who have no one even inquiring about adopting them or wanting to meet them.
Let us all look around and say to ourselves, “What can I do for these children?”
· Become a Foster Parent - an amazing gift. Some foster parents are long-term (months to years), short-term (weeks to a few months), or emergency (24-48 hours). Being a foster parent may be right for you!
· Donate toiletries or duffle bags to The Department of Children and Family Services. Often, the children who come into the DCF office for placement come with just a few essentials and what they have is often carried in a garbage bag. Can you imagine the feeling one has about traveling this way? Leaving everything they know, even if that everything was abuse or neglect. Give a call to DCF (508)760-0200 and ask if it is ok if you drop off a bag of new toothbrushes and toothpaste, or a few new duffle bags. Don’t bring your throw away duffle bags, bring new ones.
· Become a Respite Care provider – respite means “taking a break.” There are children with special needs or for other reasons, their parent or grandparent/guardian may need help but not for their child to be placed out of the home. Respite care might be for a few hours in a day or for a weekend.
· Become a Big Brother or Big Sister – This program always has children on their waiting list. Some children have no father present and not even a positive male role model. The same goes for children who have no mother present. You could be that wonderful, special person in a child’s life! http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm
· Organize a coat drive – You might have a warm coat worked into your family budget, or maybe a grandparent buys your child a coat every year, or maybe you’ve been blessed by gently worn hand-me-downs. Some parents don’t have these options. Your family or the groups of moms you socialize with could organize a coat drive. Follow this link for steps or call your local homeless prevention program.
· Browse around the Needy Fund site. Small donations and other ideas can help in big ways!
· There was a program that I thought was called “Dress a Doll.” It was where the age, gender and size of a child in need was given out and rather than a Yankee Swap for the holiday party, everyone would bring an assigned item like mittens, hat, coat and other clothes items. I can’t find the link.
· Provide a Christmas gift for a child who’s parent is incarcerated, on behalf of the parent. They, their family and even the incarcerated parent may feel so much shame. Show them they are loved.
· Donate school supplies or a backpack, or countless other items for families working to avert homelessness. Our local council here on the Lower Cape is http://www.prisonfellowship.org/resources/angel-tree/.
· Consider volunteering as a Scout leader. I am entering my 4th year as a Girl Scout leader. Each year, children are turned away from joining scouts because there are too few leaders to support the numbers of children who would like to sign up. There are many studies that show the long-term benefits to children who participate in scouting! It’s fun!
· Donate a Bible – How many Bibles do you have in your home? Between two children and the Bibles they have been gifted by relatives or received at church or VBS, my own childhood Bible and those I have bought thinking a different version might be nice to try, we ended up filling a box with Bibles to donate. Did you know that in other parts of the world, at a revival, the villagers race and push each other to be one who gets a Bible! There is much need for other books as well. Google to find out how, or drop your books in the donation bins around town.
· You can pray for the children and all of these situations.
· Do you, or does your child have a good idea about how to help other children?? Let the ideas flow.
Another mom with a view that opposes your view is not necessarily a heartless mom, or ignorant. When we band together as moms we can make a big difference in the lives of children. Even something seemingly really small can have an amazing ripple effect!
“Do small things with great love.” Mother Theresa
Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
Lamperti Counseling & Consultation
Cape Cod Mommies is teaming up with Bzzyfingers once again to bring you a fabulous giveaway and a little discount! 2 Lucky Winners will receive 2 of their own Bzzy Bands!
Bzzyfingers has recently introduced: *Bzzy Bands*, non-slip headbands! Bzzy Bands feature high quality printed grosgrain and soft velvet ribbons as well as some vintage ribbons and laces. These bands are great for the kids but they are also already very popular with Cape Cod Moms!
Choose your ribbon, choose your size, never worry about hair in your face again. Only $7/each plus shipping.
Bzzyfingers has the following sizes available:
Little kid (2-6ish)
Big kid (6-12ish)
*Custom sizes available upon request
*ribbon choices available on a first come, first served basis
*new ribbon selection available regularly.
If you don't see something you like, just ask
Bzzyfingers on their Facebook page!!
Bzzyfingers is also donating all proceeds from
Boston Strong Bzzy Bands to The One Fund.
Make sure you pop on by the Bzzyfinger Facebook page and check out all the latest items including some new shirts for the little men in our lives! We are really digging the Cape Cod nautical shirt tie combo!
Bzzyfingers is offering up a SPECIAL DISCOUNT for fans of our blog!
Cape Cod Moms