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10 Family Memberships to Have in Houston

10-Family-Memberships-to-Have-in-HoustonSince there are so many family-friendly attractions in the Houston area, it can wreak havoc on your weekly budget to indulge in the sights and scenes around town. However, family memberships can give you more bang for your buck and allow your family to take in the sights without breaking the bank.

Check out these 10 must-have family memberships in Houston that offer a variety of entertainment and fun-filled days for both you and your little ones.<

1. The Houston Zoo

Become a member of the Houston Zoo and your family will have access to lions, tigers and bears for free. You can come and go as you please with a yearly family membership. The Houston Zoo, located at 6200 Hermann Park Drive, offers several tiers of memberships and many include exclusive breakfasts with the animals along with insight from the zookeepers, special animal training and enrichment activities.

Family memberships begin at $96 a year. For more information and detailed pricing updates, call 713-533-6500 or visit the Houston Zoo’s website at www.houstonzoo.org.

2. The Museum of Fine Arts

Add some culture and art into your family’s repertoire with a family membership to The Museum of Fine Arts, located at 1001 Bissonnet in Houston. An exclusive membership includes free general admission for the entire family to the museum, discounts on purchases in the gift shop, a subscription to a bimonthly publication and invitations to preview parties and special programming.

The price of a family membership begins at $95 a year and your donation helps The Museum of Fine Arts to present exhibitions, community outreach programs and build art collections. For more information and updated membership pricing, contact the museum at 713-639-7300 or visit the website at www.mfah.org.

3. Children’s Museum of Houston

For an entire year of unlimited visits to the Children’s Museum of Houston and hands on fun that will challenge your child’s mind, a family membership offers both educational and entertainment rewards for young and old. In addition to unlimited free admission, members can host a birthday party, take advantage of express lines, receive a weekly e-newsletter and receive invitations to members only events.

A basic family membership begins at only $85 a year, with options to upgrade. For more information and updated pricing, contact the museum at 713-522-1138 or visit the website at www.cmhouston.org.

4. The Houston Museum of Natural Science

If your kids are entranced by dinosaurs and science experiments, then a family membership to the Houston Museum of Natural Science might be just what they need to quench their educational thirst all year long. A family membership will allow you and your children to visit exclusive previews of exhibitions, unlimited free admission to permanent exhibit halls, receive discounted admission for special museum tickets throughout the year and notice of upcoming events through the museum’s bi-monthly magazine.

If your children are interested in one of the many science camps available at the museum, members receive early and discounted registration for hands-on camps that vary from topics such as dinosaurs, rockets, computers, insects and robots.

For more information and updated pricing, contact the Houston Museum of Natural Science at 713-639-4629 or visit the museum’s website at www.hmns.org.

5. Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Expose your family to the natural environment of native plants and animals and support a non-profit organization with a membership that boasts benefits all year long. A family membership to the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, located at 4501 Woodway Drive, offers free admission to the nature center and special events, discounts on classes, lectures and events, advance notice of upcoming events, and discounts on plant sales and purchases in the nature shop.

A family membership card will also give your family discounts at the center’s sister museums and local businesses. For more information about memberships and pricing, call 713-681-8433 or visit the Nature Center’s website at www.houstonarboretum.org.

6. Space Center Houston

If your children love the sight of space shuttles, the feel of walking on air and stellar science shows, then a family membership to Space Center Houston is the perfect opportunity for education and entertainment. An annual membership will cost you only $3 more than a regularly priced adult admission ticket or approximately $95 for a family of four.

Annual members at Space Center Houston receive free admission and parking for a full year, discounts on food and souvenirs and a chance to bypass long lines for daily attractions. For more information and updated pricing, contact Space Center Houston at 281-244-2100 or visit the center’s website at www.spacecenter.org.

7. Houston YMCA

If you think a membership at the YMCA is reserved for fitness enthusiasts, think again. The Houston YMCA offers not only a fully-equipped workout center and indoor pool, the many locations in the Houston area feature camps, special events and sporting activities designed for families of all shapes and sizes. From adventure guides who can show your family the best of nature and fitness to teen organizations that focus on physical and mental well-being, your family can benefit from the positive atmosphere available at the Houston YMCA.

For more information about family memberships and pricing, contact the Houston YMCA at 713-659-5566 or visit the website at www.ymcahouston.org.

8. Houston Maritime Museum

For a glimpse of history and preservation of the marine industry with focus on the development of Houston, the state of Texas and the Texas Gulf Coast, a family membership to the Houston Maritime Museum will provide your family with education programs, interactive exhibits and special events throughout the year. Complete with galleries of model ships, commercial fleets, vessels and battleships, the Maritime Heritage is supported through the memberships that give young visitors the opportunity to steer the captain’s wheel, shift the engine telegraph and practice Morse code.

For more information about memberships and pricing, contact the Houston Maritime Museum, located at 2204 Dorrington, at 713-666-1910 or visit the website at www.houstonmaritimemuseum.org

9. The Fire Museum of Houston

A day of learning and experimenting isn’t complete without a visit to The Fire Museum of Houston, boasting exhibits and displays of artifacts used over time by the Houston Fire Department. Your children can learn about fire prevention and prepare an escape plan in the children’s corner of the museum.

A family membership to The Fire Museum of Houston provides your family with unlimited free museum admission, discounts on gift shop purchases, free passes for friends, special invitations to members-only parties and a newsletter subscription.

For more information about memberships and pricing, contact The Fire Museum of Houston, located at 2403 Milam Street, at 713-524-2526 or visit the museum’s website at www.houstonfiremuseum.org.

10. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

An exclusive family membership to the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston provides you and your children with an insider look at some of the most innovative art over time. With access to exclusive exhibitions and programs, a membership to the museum also helps support the arts in the Houston area.

For more information about memberships and pricing, contact the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, located at 5216 Montrose Boulevard, at 713-284-8250 or visit the museum’s website at www.camh.org.

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Paint Palaces: Houston’s Best Pottery and Paint Bars

Paint-Palaces-Houstons-Best-Pottery-and-Paint-BarsOften times, kids are natural artists. Their imagination runs wild and they create characters, crafts and works of art with ease. From finger painting a picture for mom or crafting a stick figure of their loved nanny, your little one has the world at her fingertips when immersed in art.

A child who wants to express herself through art, though, does not need boundaries. Children have an amazing innate ability to be creative when they play freely on their own, and unfortunately, the act of overparenting dampens or even wipes out that innate ability,” according to Mike Lanza of Playborhood.com and author of Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood into a Place for Play.

It’s important to figure out how to facilitate your child’s creativity without managing it, he says. Pottery is one outlet that can help your child cope with struggles or pain and help her to develop confidence and social skills.

Luckily, the Houston area has many pottery and paint bars designed to enrich the creativity of the entire family. Check out these local hot spots and allow your child’s imagination to run wild.

The Painted Potter

The Painted Potter, located at 1259 West Bay Area Blvd. in Webster, Texas, offers a crafty studio for your child to create a masterpiece. The day begins with your child choosing her own pottery and then selecting paints and decorative tools. The studio is equipped with sponges, brushes and idea books to spark her imagination.
Once she is ready to begin, her only task is to paint. Once the masterpiece is finished, the studio will glaze and fire your child’s work of art and you can pick it up within 10 days to two weeks. The fees are per person, not per piece and your child can paint an unlimited number of pottery pieces.

Pottery pieces range from $6 to $60 and children under 12 only pay a $6 fee to paint whereas adults 13 and up pay $8. The Painted Potter can also host birthdays and special occasions with parties of six or more. Reservations are required.

For more information, contact The Painted Potter at 281-338-1213  or visit the website at www.thepaintedpotterstudio.com.

Glazed Over Ceramics

Glazed Over Ceramics, located at 14627-B Memorial Drive in Houston, features paint our own pottery and ceramics and glass fusing for the entire family. The studio features a fun and welcoming environment for beginners with walk ins welcome at anytime.

Beyond painting your own raw piece of pottery, you and your children can also pick out a glass base and decorate it with cut, colored glass that will be melted into a functional piece.

The studio features soda and juice bar and lively music that entertains while your children while they paint, stencil and brush on colors of their choice. Bring a few friends or book a private party to explore your child’s creativity. Price will vary with daily specials.

For more information, call 281-497-7272 or visit the website at www.glazedoverceramics.com.

The Mad Potter

If variety is what you are looking for, paint your way to one of the many pottery locations in Houston offered by The Mad Potter. Three studios offer paint and fun with pre-made ceramic pieces ranging from coffee mugs and plates to pet bowls and figurines.

With locations in River Oaks, Woodway and Voss and Bellaire in Houston, The Mad Potter offers creativity for both children and adults, hosting kiddie pottery camps, adult and corporate parties and specialty paint days for the entire family. Your child’s school or a private organization can also host a fundraising event, complete with paints and pottery.

For more information, contact the corporate office at 713-664-6640 or visit the website at www.themadpotter.com.

The key to a successful day of pottery making is to keep it simple for your child, says Pam Allyn, executive director of Lit World and Lit Life and the author of many books, including Your Child’s Writing Life: How to Inspire Confidence, Creativity, and Skill at Every Age. “It’s important to give your child unstructured time, Allyn said.

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Changes to the IRS Mileage Reimbursement
Rate for 2014

Changes-to-the-IRS-Mileage-Reimbursement-Rate-for-2014As a nanny, it’s crucial to keep track of expenses you incur that can be deducted from your taxes. With ever-changing tax laws and policies, knowledge is key to ensure you are reimbursed by your employer.

One of the most costly work-related expenses nannies incur is automobile expenses. When using your own vehicle to transport children and complete work-related errands, you will need to use the mileage allocation stipulated by the IRS standard mileage reimbursement rate.

Before transporting children in your vehicle, it is imperative that you check with your automobile insurance provider to ensure that the policy covers transporting children for work. It may be necessary to modify your policy so you can continue using your vehicle for work. Make sure that you are aware of the safety laws regarding child restraints, car seats and air bags.

Standard Mileage Rates

As of January 2014, the IRS standard mileage reimbursement rate was set at 56 cents per mile for business miles driven. This amount is a half cent less than the 2013 allocation.

In addition, the IRS has stipulated the following IRS standard rates:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

This rate is designed to cover transportation costs that include the following:

  • Gas
  • Vehicle Maintenance
  • Vehicle Wear and Tear during work hours

Please note that, according to the Internal Revenue Service, nannies are not allowed to use commutes to and from work as a tax deductable expense.

Tracking Your Mileage

Careful record keeping will help you breeze through requests for reimbursement at the end of the year. Morningside Nannies suggests nannies keep track of work-related mileage by:

  • Keeping a log book in the vehicle and tracking the starting and ending mileage.
  • Purchase and use a notepad especially designed to track mileage.
  • Use an iPhone app like MileTracker, Track My Mileage, MileIQ, Trip Cubby, or a variety of other available applications.

Finalizing the Paperwork

After tracking your work-related mileage for the year, begin by tallying up the miles, multiplying them by the 2014 rate of .56 cents and turn in a reimbursement request to your employers. The request should provide a detailed account of the number of miles driven, the IRS reimbursement rate and the total requested.

Be sure to keep copies of all paperwork and mileage for your own records.

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Things to Talk About in an Annual Nanny Review

Things-to-Talk-About-in-an-Annual-Nanny-ReviewIn order to sustain a healthy and productive relationship with your nanny, it’s important to evaluate and meet for a performance review at least once a year. Even though you may be offering praise and tips along the way, a formal meeting with your nanny can help clarify expectations and provide feedback for both the nanny and parents on how to maintain a healthy parenting partnership.

Before you begin the review, consider the topics you want to discuss. From an evaluation of your nanny’s techniques as a childcare provider and caregiver to salary and benefits, prepare yourself before the review by determining your preferences and what is ultimately the best for your family.

Getting Started

Before meeting with your nanny, review the job description to make sure you are reviewing the criteria that was agreed upon when his or her contract began.

It’s also important to provide your nanny with advance notice of when the performance evaluation will take place. This will give the nanny time to prepare and review his or her own performance in your home.

It may also help to type out a formal evaluation form so that your nanny has documented comments and feedback based on his or her performance throughout the year. You can add categories such as childcare and work habits and offer a rating system to help your nanny see areas where he or she is succeeding and areas that need improvement.

What to Discuss

Although your nanny may be viewed as a member of your family, an annual review should offer a mix of both formal and informal discussions. There may be some differences in thought, so be prepared to approach delicate topics with a professional approach.

The following topics of discussion may be appropriate for the annual review:

  • Childcare/Parenting Strategies – Launch a discussion that pertains to how your children are cared for with the nanny. This discussion may touch on child safety, child hygiene, appropriate play and activities, effective discipline strategies and preparation of nutritious meals and snacks.
  • Work Habits – As an employee in your home, your nanny likely has responsibilities outlined in the initial contract. A discussion of work habits may include punctuality, reliability and dependability, examples of initiative, communication habits, judgment calls and whether or not the nanny demonstrates trustworthiness by keeping the confidentiality of your family matters. You may also want to address how the nanny handles stressful situations and his or her overall cooperation with your wishes when caring for the children.
  • Housekeeping Responsibilities – If your nanny’s contract stipulates that she will also provide housekeeping for your family, this should be a topic of discussion during the annual review. Review her performance with straightening up, laundry, meal preparation or general housekeeping such as mopping and vacuuming. If you have preferences for any of these activities or want to initiate any changes, now is the time to discuss this with your nanny.
  • Wages – An annual review is the perfect opportunity to discuss your nanny’s wages and benefits. Typically, when considering a raise, it is important for employers to consider merit and the cost of living. Think about the benefits your nanny receives and make a fair decision based on the responsibilities and comparable wages in your area. Allow your nanny to also have some input on the fairness of her wages, but know that the final decision rests with you and your family’s needs.
  • Contract Changes – If you would like to make any changes to the nanny’s contract, these will need to be negotiated during the annual review. You may wish to add in responsibilities such as transportation of your children to and from activities or overnight stays. Construct a clear schedule and set realistic expectations that are agreed upon by both you and the nanny.

Final Recommendations

An annual review does not have to be a negative experience for you or the nanny. In fact, a performance review should not yield any surprises if you have been communicating feedback and concerns throughout the year. The key to a successful evaluation meeting relies on communicating how your nanny is excelling and also communicating any areas needing improvement.

Remember to keep your conversation friendly yet professional and allow your nanny the opportunity to express any concerns he or she is experiencing so you can both work out a plan to resolve any issues.

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Houston Kid’s Party Entertainers

Houston-Kids-Party-EntertainersPlanning a party for a child’s birthday or special occasion can be a huge undertaking for a nanny or parent. Beyond preparing snacks, meals, goodie bags and games and activities, it’s crucial to provide entertainment for the party goers.

Kids’ party entertainers have gained popularity in recent years because they bring the fun with them and relieve parents and nannies from having to plan multiple activities that will keep little ones engaged and giggling.

The Houston area has a wide variety of kids’ party entertainers who can offer entertainment ranging from magic and clowning around to puppet shows and plays. Check out our list of must-have entertainment perfect for a kids party in the Houston area.

All Star Entertainment

Mary Morris, featured magician and owner of All Star Entertainment can offer variety for your child’s next party. Choose from a variety of family-friendly characters such as Tinkerbell, Elmo, Spiderman and Cinderella to drop in and surprise your child.

The entertainment company also offers magic shows, clowns, face painters, balloon artists, jugglers, caricature artists, fortune tellers and DJs for your special occasion. If you are looking for rides and inflatables, All Star Entertainment delivers.

For more information, call 281-734-6974 or visit www.allstarentertainment-houston.com.

Texas Snakes & More

If your child is intrigued by sneaky, slimy reptiles, including Texas Snakes to the party agenda will definitely enhance the kids party. A reptile birthday party hosted by Texas Snakes & More offers a fun and educational option for any occasion. The reptile experts will educate party goers about the importance of reptiles to the environment and offer instruction on how to react when spotting a snake in its natural habitat. The program is interactive and allows your little ones to hold, handle and touch all animals at the party.

Presenters will also help parents and children tackle any fears they may have of reptiles and offer tips on how to care for reptiles. The reptiles from Texas Snakes & More are non-aggressive, non-venomous and safe. Your child will also get the opportunity to have his or her picture taken with a snake around her shoulders.

For more information, call 713-934-7668 or visit the company’s website at www.texassnakes.net.

Incredible Events

For an incredible experience for your child’s party, consider coordinating the entertainment through Incredible Events, a full event planning company based in the Houston area. From live music, DJ parties, animal rentals and library shows, these party entertainers can offer an incredible experience for your family and party guests.

In addition to costumed characters and clowns, Incredible Events also provides ride rentals, such as inflatable bounce houses, obstacle courses, waterslides and arcade games.

For more information, call 281-412-5200 or visit the company’s website at http://www.incredibleevents.com.

Sutherland Farms Pony Rides

If you can’t bring the party to the petting zoo, why not bring the petting zoo to the party? Sutherland Farms hosts private parties complete with pony rides and a petting zoo. The animal-friendly party entertainers offer theme parties, too, that focus on barnyards and ponies.

With more than 35 years of experience working with horses and animals, Sutherland Farms can bring one to five ponies to your area so your little ones can wrangle in a pony ride before devouring into presents and cake.

For more information, call 713-851-2215 or visit the website at http://www.ponyride-sutherlandfarms.com.

Houston Magician Curt Miller

Engage your child’s guests with a little magic on a special occasion with Houston magician Curt Miller. Miller is a magician, illusionist and entertain who combines magic, family-friendly comedy routines and audience interaction to ensure each child is entertained.

As the party host, you can choose from a traditional magic show, close up walk-around magic stations or an illusion show with smoke and fire.

For more information, call 713-721-6618 or visit his website at http://www.curtmiller.com.

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6 Places to Visit for Free Story Times in Houston

6-Places-to-Visit-for-Free-Story-Times-in-HoustonAs a parent or nanny, one of the most important things you can do to enhance your child’s development is to read to him or her. A bedtime story about princesses and fairies or an afternoon story session with adventures of spotted dinosaurs will help develop your child’s imagination and create a bond between the two of you.

According to the Early Moments Book Club organization, reading to a child offers many benefits that span from academic excellence and improved speech skills to better communication skills and a mastery of language. Your child’s concentration and discipline is also improved through story telling.

“Toddlers may initially squirm and become distracted during story time, but eventually they’ll learn to stay put for the duration of the book,” says the experts at Early Moments. “Along with reading comprehension comes a stronger self-discipline, longer attention span, and better memory retention, all of which will serve your child well when she enters school.”

Take your story time and your child’s development to a new level by involving him or her in one of the many free story times available in Houston. From art museums and public libraries to local bookstores and restaurants, many Houston organizations offer interactive book readings the entire family can enjoy.

1. Houston Public Library

It seems only natural to host a story time at Houston’s Public Library where thousands of books are available to engage your child’s mind. The Heights Neighborhood library campus at 1302 Heights Boulevard in Houston features several free story time sessions for toddlers 18 months to 3 years of age and pre-K. Baby time sessions for your little ones 6 months to 18 months is also offered throughout the week. This interactive story time features books, songs and finger plays with free play after the story telling session.

For specific story times, contact the Houston Public Library’s Heights Neighborhood campus at 832-393-1810 or visit the library’s website at

2. Nature Discovery Center

In addition to offering your child free science-related activities, the Nature Discovery Center at 7112 Newcastle Street, in Bellaire, also features Nature Story Time and Craft for preschoolers ages 2 to 5 each week. Your little one can learn about critters, birds, shells and minerals through interactive books and story time sessions.

The center is open Tuesday – Sunday from 12-5:30 p.m. For more information about story time dates and times, call 713-667-6550 or visit the Nature Discovery Center’s website at www.naturediscoverycenter.org.

3. Children’s Museum of Houston

Experience the excitement of the Children’s Museum and expose your children to interactive story telling sessions at the Children’s Museum of Houston, located at 1500 Binz in Houston. The museum hosts free family nights from 5-8 p.m. on Thursdays, complete with access to hands-on exhibits, a spotlight performance and story times.

For more information about hours and story time sessions, contact the Children’s Museum of Houston at 713-522-1138 or visit the museum’s website at www.cmhouston.org.

4. Merry Makers & Local Restaurants

The Children’s Entertainment Specialists of Merry Makers offers several free story time events throughout the Houston Area. Sponsored by local restaurant chains, story tellers from Merry Makers, Inc. offer kids the opportunity to listen to stories, play games, complete arts and crafts, create balloon animals and receive free face painting.

The creative team hosts free story times on Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. at McDonald’s, located at 5888 Richmond Avenue in Houston and from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Chick-Fil-A at 5005 Richmond Avenue in Houston.

For more information, visit the Merry Makers website at www.merrymakersinc.net.

5. Barnes and Noble

What better place to experience story telling adventures than a local bookstore. The Barnes and Noble, located in Vanderbilt Square at 3003 W. Holcombe Boulevard features free story times on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Learn about animals, kid adventures and creative non-fiction with new titles revealed each week.

For more information, contact Barnes and Noble at 713-349-0050 or visit the Vanderbilt Square’s store website at store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2582.

6. Museum of Fine Arts Houston

If you are looking for a Sunday afternoon activity that will stimulate your child’s mind and creative spirit, head over to the Museum of Fine Arts, located in the Beck Building at 5601 Main in Houston. The museum features free story time sessions from at 1:30 p.m. each Sunday for ages 2+.

For more information, contact the Museum of Fine Arts at 713.639.7300 or visit the website at www.mfah.org.

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How to Prevent Little Things from Making
Your Nanny Relationship Go Bad

How-to-Prevent-Little-Things-from-Making-Your-Nanny-Relationship-Go-BadThe phrase “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” can apply to many aspects of life. It especially rings true when parenting with the help of a nanny.

In an ideal world, parents and nannies would agree on every belief, strategy and goal of parenting and caring for children, but the reality is that diverse beliefs and strategies can actually enhance the lives of your children, as long as everyone is respectful of each other’s viewpoints.

Learning how to communicate and work together with your nanny – by resisting the temptation to sweat the small stuff – can prevent the little things from turning your nanny relationship from cooperative and caring to miserable mayhem.

Unveiling the Culprit

Many times, we react strongly to minor events without even knowing why. According to San-Francisco based Family Therapist Holly Brown, it happens to everyone, but there may be something more behind the reaction.

A potential culprit could be that you are angry or frustrated with people in your life but you don’t want to admit to it, says Brown. For example, you may be upset with your spouse for missing an important event and when you return home and realize the nanny is engaging in a messy art project with the children, you fly off the handle about the mess.

“Once you admit to yourself that you are upset with the people closest to you, there’s that whole business of having to actually do something about it,” says Brown. So, instead, the nanny’s decision to play first and clean up later gives you the opportunity to deny the culprit of your frustration and focus on a minor setback that has blown into a major issue for you.

“Denial sucks up a lot of emotional energy,” says Brown. “If you do get honest with yourself and handle the actual underlying problem, you can start doing something about it.”

At other times, the reason the little things bother you is because they are not so “little” to you. If your nanny cuddles with your son before bedtime and you would prefer to have that time with him but haven’t expressed these desires, you may develop resentment or jealousy toward the nanny instead of communicating your needs.

“Accepting what actually matters to us – regardless of how we imagine others would feel about the same things – is an important way to begin feeling better and more compassionate toward ourselves,” says Brown. “This will definitely lower stress.”

Forming a Bond With Your Nanny

Instead of letting the little things build and explode into “big” issues between you and your nanny, it’s important to set practices in place to foster a trusting, positive and caring relationship between the two of you.

Because your nanny is the primary caregiver of your precious children when you are away, let her know you have complete faith in her abilities by treating her fair and with respect, by:

  • Setting Clear Expectations – A positive relationship with your nanny begins with complete honesty. From day one, establish the job duties, responsibilities and expectations for discipline and overall care of your children. If you begin to add duties sporadically and make unnecessary and time-consuming demands that were not established at the onset of her position, she will begin to feel as if the family is taking advantage of her. This will not only damage the relationship you have with her but it could also leave you without a nanny.
  • Give Her Space – It’s challenging to complete a project at work or write a report with someone constantly hovering over your shoulder. Your nanny will feel the same way if you don’t give her enough space to care for your children. If your expectations are clear and set from the beginning, trust her to follow through and get out of her way when she is in charge. Nit picking at the little things you think you would do differently will undermine her authority with the children and cause friction within your relationship with the nanny. If you oppose to one of her methods or strategies, have a private conversation with the nanny to rectify the problem.
  • Help Her Organize – It is a challenging task to manage the schedules of children who are active in school activities, sporting events and extra-curricular lessons. Make your nannies life easier and minimize the risk of any confusion by helping her stay organized. Purchase a wall calendar or a pocket calendar for your nanny and keep her updated on any changes in the schedule. When you actively communicate with your nanny, it opens the door for a bond to form and for scheduling mishaps to disappear.

Even though the little things may continue to bug you – regardless of how much space, organization and communication you provide for your nanny – it is important to understand that the little things often seem overwhelming when you are shouldering the burden alone, says Brown. “Whether you have a partner or not, consider your support network and whether you can draw them closer,” she says. “Our feelings and reactions offer clues all the time. We’ve just got to figure out how to solve the mystery.”

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Summer Fun in Houston: University Programs and Camps for Kids

University-Programs-and-Camps-for-KidsGear up for summer break by making plans for your kids to keep their minds and bodies active. Summer camp provides children with an opportunity to meet other children with the same interests, embark on educational journeys and keep their minds active when school is not in session.

Luckily, Houston has plenty of educational and entertainment-based camps for your kids to enjoy. From computer camps to science explorations, your child can stay active close to home this summer.

Computer Camp, University of Houston

For the tech-savvy child who embraces technology, the University of Houston’s computer camp is an ideal choice for summer. The camp features courses in programming, web designing, video editing, video game design and flash animation for children 7-17.

Sponsored by ID Tech, the university’s computer camp meets from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on Fridays. Overnight camps are also available.

All camps are located at the University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun Road. Check availability and register at www.internaldrive.com, call 1-888-709-TECH or email info@internaldrive.com.

Band, Orchestra and Choir Camp, Sam Houston State University

Aspiring superstars can learn the tricks and trades of the music industry with one of many music-based camps sponsored by Sam Houston State University. Your child can choose from one-week sessions that include Choir Camp, Band Camp, Bassoon Camp, Orchestra Camp and Drumline/Chamber and Piano.

If musical theater is your child’s passion, the university also offers a Broadway Artist Intensive Musical Theater Camp. The one-week camps begin in June and run through early August each summer.

All camps are located at Sam Houston State University’s main campus, 1806 Avenue J, Huntsville. For more information, e-mail camps@shsu.edu or call (936) 294-1111.

Summer Camp Xplorations, The Houston Museum of Natural Science

If your child loves to explore, he or she will have plenty of opportunities with adventure programs sponsored by the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Xplorations Summer Science Adventures feature week-long, hands-on science summer camps perfect for children 6-12.

Topics range from chemistry camps with booms and blast offs, space camps for space cadets, pilots and commanders to camps focused on robotics, physics, social studies and even dinosaur-themed weeks. Each camp is held Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. at the main museum, located at 555 Hermann Park Drive, and the Sugar Land location, beginning each June.

For a complete schedule, contact the Houston Museum of Natural Science at
xplorations@hmns.org  or 713-639-4652.

Velocity Sports Performance Camp

If your little one loves to kick around the soccer ball, play catch in the yard or toss around the football, then the Velocity Sports Performance Camp will keep him or her energized during the summer.

The renowned training facility, located at 10535 Jones Road in Houston, features one-week volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, baseball and softball-themed camps for young athletes. With a focus on proper training, the Velocity Sports Performance boasts workouts and physical warm-ups that focus on training components for speed, power and agility.

For registration information, visit www.velocitysp.com/cyfair or call 281-664-6450.

YMCA Day Camp, YMCA of Greater Houston

A summer filled with adventure, friendship and learning opportunities is the goal for the day camps offered by the YMCA of Greater Houston. The camps, located at many of the YMCA campuses in the Houston area, feature supervised activities that focus on the YMCA’s mission to promote leadership skills and teach core values.

The camps feature opportunities to create arts and crafts, participate in field trips, swim, take nature walks, explore science and technology and learn about diverse cultures. In addition to day camps, the YMCA also hosts family, teen and sports camps.

For more information, visit www.ymcahouston.org, or call 713-659-5566. The YMCA of Greater Houston is located in Houston, TX 77253. There are nearly 20 YMCAs in Houston; to find directions and contact information for each Houston location, go to http://www.ymcahouston.org/location-directory/.

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a summer nanny to provide full or part-time care, or care to supplement your children’s summer camp schedule, give us a call. We’re gearing up for the summer season and welcome the opportunity to assist you with your summer childcare needs.

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Great Places to See a Concert With Kids in Houston

Houston is home to a plethora of entertainment venues and night life – perfect for moms, dads and nannies to enjoy some time out on the town. However, when you want to expose your children to concerts and performances, Houston does not disappoint.
Great-Places-to-See-a-Concert-With-Kids-in-HoustonThere are many kid and family-friendly concert halls and performing arts centers that feature musical amusement for all ages.

Reliant Park

If you want to entertain your kids with action, adventure and music attractions, Reliant Park offers all of the above and then some. As one of North America’s largest event complexes, Reliant Park features a stadium, concert center, arena and astrodome.

The event complex features ever-changing performances, competitions and musical concerts perfect for kids. Take your teenagers to see one of the latest pop stars perform, such as One Direction or entertain your little ones with a performance of Disney on Ice.

Boasting more than 26,000 parking spaces, Reliant Park, located within the Inner Loop of the southern portion of Interstate Loop 610 between Kirby Street and Fannin Street, is well-equipped for large crowds.

For a complete schedule of events or directions, visit Reliant Park’s website.

Houston Grand Opera

Allow your little ones to experience history and classics with a trip to the Houston Grand Opera, located at 510 Preston Street. With classic performances of Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and Sondheim, each year, this renowned opera house premieres new works.

In addition to producing and performing world-class opera, the Houston Grand Opera also hosts cultural enrichment programs for kids, community events and education projects.

For a complete schedule of events or directions, visit the Houston Grand Opera’s website.

Broadway at the Hobby Center

From Footloose and Dirty Dancing to Mama Mia and a Christmas Spectacular, the Broadway scene at the Hobby Center will surely entertain your kids during any season.

The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, located 800 Bagby Street, is one of the premiere entertainment complexes in the Houston Theater District. Formerly known as the Houston Music Hall Foundation, the center hosts two theaters and a first-class setting for family-friendly entertainment.

For more information about the performance schedule, visit the theater’s website.

Improv Houston

Improve and comedy shows are not just for adults anymore. The Improv Houston hosts a weekly family comedy and magic show, perfect for a family night of entertainment. Located at 7620 Katy Freeway Space, the venue also hosts open mic nights and comedy shows regularly.

For more information about upcoming events, visit the venue’s website.

FrenetiCore Fearless Dance Theater

Light up your kids’ minds with a wired dance show at the FrenetiCore Fearless Dance Theater, located at 5102 Navigation Blvd. Combining technology with modern dance, the theater company offers young and old viewers choreographic surprises and projection mapping.

The digital campfire performance is just one of the performances at FrenetiCore throughout the year. Take the kids to view a ballet performance, tap dance or modern dance recital.

For more information about events, performances and pricing, visit the FrenetiCore website.

Miller Outdoor Theatre, Hermann Park

As one of the most popular venues for free outdoor performances, the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park, features an eight month season of performances and a variety of concerts and programs designed for children and families.

From play productions of “The Three Little Pigs” and “Rapunzel” to Swing Jive and Pop Dance performances and Houston’s Young Artist Concert, there is something for toddlers and teenagers throughout the year.

For more information on the event schedules at Miller Outdoor Theatre, visit the theatre’s website.

Miller Outdoor Theatre is located at 6000 Hermann Park Drive in Hermann Park, just south of the Museum of Natural Science and the Houston Garden Center.

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10 Summer Festivals Houston Families Won’t Want to Miss

houstonsummerfestivalsWhen the school year ends and summer clothing comes out of winter storage, the long days and warm nights make staying inside feel almost like a crime. For residents of the Houston area or lucky vacationers, the possibilities for outdoor summer entertainment are almost endless. These ten seasonal events are among the most exciting in the area, and are sure to rank high on your “can’t-miss” list of summer 2013!

1. Juneteenth Summer Celebration

Commemorating the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation is an important part of African American culture, and the celebration held by the Texas Black Expo is one of their most popular each year. With more than 20,000 attendees expected, Juneteenth Summer Celebration is a way to celebrate the seasonal delights of summer while remembering the struggles and triumphs of African American culture.

2. Southwest Airlines Freedom Over Texas

An annual celebration of American independence, the Southwest Airlines Freedom Over Texas event is the official Fourth of July festival of the city of Houston. With an eye-popping fireworks display after dark and plenty of fun to be had during the light of day, this is one festival that your family certainly won’t want to skip.

3. 4th Fest

If you’re not wild about the idea of fighting the crowds in Houston for the Southwest Airlines Freedom Over Texas festival, Pasadena 4th Fest might be right up your family’s alley. While it’s a bit smaller and more intimate than the Houston event with more manageable crowds, it’s still the biggest city-sponsored event in the suburb of Pasadena. Games, toys, a kidzone and the water balloon war zone make it a great stop for the kids in your family, while adults will enjoy the BBQ cook-off, live music and car show. The big event culminates in a twenty minute fireworks show, sure to please adults and kids alike.

4. Galveston Celebrates Juneteenth!

Want to celebrate Juneteenth in the place where it all began? Juneteeth was established as a holiday in Galveston, which is heavily celebrated in the form of a festival that stretches from June eighth through the nineteenth in this island town just a short drive from the Houston city limits.

5. Celebration of Freedom

Slip outside of Houston to celebrate Independence day with this Pearland festival, which features vendors, the Texas Unlimited band, a VFW military salute and a breathtaking fireworks show after dark.

6. Day of Music

On July 13th, the Houston Symphony will present a free, all-day festival celebrating the sounds of Texas music with five stages housing thirty performances over twelve full hours. The Instrument Petting Zoo allows kids and adults to get up close and personal with a musical insturment, while instrument-making craft activities help you create your own musical devices.

7. Dinos Alive! Exhibit

When Moody Gardens hosts a festival celebrating all things dinosaur, they do it right! From May through August, Moody Gardens will be taken over by prehistoric wonders of all shapes and sizes. Sure to please the dino-crazy kids in your family, Dinos Alive! puts visitors in the thick of the excitement with mock search-and-rescue activities along the way.

8. Fourth of July Celebration at Kemah Boardwalk

Live music and fireworks over Galveston Bay make Kemah boardwalk another exciting Independence Day festival celebration option for visitors and Houston residents alike. If one night of fireworks isn’t enough to satisfy, Kemah Boardwalk will continue to host Fireworks Fridays throughout the month of July.

9. Repticon Houston

If your youngsters are wild for all things creepy and crawly, Pasadena Convention Center and Fairgrounds is the place to be on July sixth and seventh. Reptiles descend upon Pasadena for the weekend, along with their amphibian pals.

10. 43rd Round Top Music Festival: Chamber Music with Young Artists Concert

On June twentieth, the 43rd Round Top Music Festival: Chamber Music with Young Artists Concert will be held at Round Top Festival Institute. Celebrating the best and the brightest young players in the Houston area, the festival boasts free admission and a children’s concert to get kids interested in music.

Houston is a world-class city with much to offer in the way of cultural pursuits, so keep your eyes peeled for smaller festivals and celebrations in the area that often cater to more specialized tastes.

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