Giggles, that’s my alarm clock, as two li’l rascals tickle me. Rock music blasts from my pre-teen’s room. My consolation, the sweet aroma of breakfast which hubby prepared. This is the start of the Saturday! I wake up with excitement.
Saturdays are special. Time to taste new cuisine, explore new places, visit friends or relatives, or just do something different outside home. Each week is different. First and last week of the month, it’s either me or hubby, choose where we’re going. Mid-week, either kids get to plan our dayout.
So even if we can all just lazily stay at home and watch DVDs, even if it’s cheaper to stay at home on weekends, we wake up early to find out what’s in store for weekend. Not just my kids chuckle at this, grown-ups in our household also say: Yipee! Saturdays!
Food bonding? Dining at a restaurant 170 feet above the ground.
Hubby and I save and stretch our budget for Saturdays, because we can see what weekend family dayouts are doing for our kids. Here are some of them:
Whole day bonding. Hubby and I have date nights with each of them, but every Saturday, we go out as one family. If they didn’t enjoy the first activity, they can make up for it the rest of the day.
Getting to know the kids more. One Saturday, a group of friends, knocked at our door to invite my pre-teen to their hangout. But he said “Can’t go with you guys today. It’s day for the fam!!” I didn’t expect my growing pre-teen enjoys family day more. So I invited all of them. My son was quite reluctant at first, but obviously happier the rest of the day. That Saturday, I discovered how my son pulls himself when his friends joke around. I also get to know his friends even better.
Confidence, social and relational skills boost. My two little kids are so sociable in school. Teachers and classmates alike are so fond of them. They didn’t inherit their social skills, they got it from mingling with different kinds of people in our weekend family dayouts. I encourage them to start a conversation with playmates at the park or mall (as long as we’re looking), their cousins at our home visits, our colleagues and grown-up friends who tag along sometimes, disabled elderly or children when we visit charities.
Being more open to parents. Not all Saturdays are laughter and adventures. Sometimes, there’s a little scolding in between. But we all make sure we end the day with a hug and a kiss. No need to rush chit-chats then go to bed because tomorrow is another busy weekday. If they need to tell us something, they have the entire day to let us know and even convince us of something they want (now that’s a problem for parents!). They know you’re available and have all day to listen to them, that if they have problems in school or with friends during weekdays, it’s easier for them to open up to us right away.
Anyway, tata for now! It’s Saturday, we’ll go skateboarding!
Kite-flying in autumn
These days, many parents are concerned about the amount of time their kids spend with their gaming consoles or gadgets. Apparently, the thin line between recreational use and over-dependence has grown even dimmer, so much so that children are no longer able to identify the difference between moderate and too much.
Some who instill different values on their kids scoff at these parents and blame them for giving in to the demands of their children. According to them, the kids wouldn’t have become overly dependent on their technological gadgets if their parents didn’t give it to them in the first place. Nevertheless, we can’t really blame parents for wanting to give the very best to their kids. Children are children, and even if they were constantly reminded of the ill effects of spending too much time playing video games, they wouldn’t always listen. So how can this problem be addressed?
Well, parents would do well to talk to their kids and explain to them why it’s important that they apportion their time appropriately. If it takes writing down a fixed schedule for kids to follow through with what their parents want, then so be it. Children should be made to understand that there’s a whole world out there beyond their video games and gadgets.
Of course, parents should take the first step in encouraging their kids to venture outside. The idea may seem daunting. Yet, if parents present their kids with cool ideas for outdoor activities, then they might just trade their video games with these activities even temporarily.
One cool and timeless activity that both parents and kids would enjoy is kite flying. Young children would definitely have fun running around outdoors while they best each other to see who can fly their kite the highest. However, just as with everything else, parents would do well to consider a few things so everyone may get the best out of their kite-flying experience.
First, parents need to choose the right kite design and while stores carry an array of designs and styles that would make kite enthusiasts excited, the ages of the kids who would be playing needs to be taken into consideration. If it were the kids’ first time to fly a kite, a single-line kite would be the best option. It’s not as complicated as other styles and it can easily withstand medium-strength winds. What’s more, the kite’s design stability and delta shape make it ideal for small hands.
Second, consider the best places and conditions to fly kites. Wide and open spaces such as parks, soccer fields (when it’s not being used), and beaches are perfect places to fly a kite. Nevertheless, if these areas are not feasible for you, choose a large, treeless area where you can use single-line kites to the full. Never fly kites in crowded areas or near power lines. As much as possible, you should let your kids wear gloves to protect their hands from cuts or rope burns.
Lastly, remember that practice makes perfect, and don’t forget to emphasize this to your kids. As children, they would naturally have very high expectations. The last thing you want is for them to get frustrated when they can’t seem to get the kite off the ground. Give them the necessary pep talk. Teach them kite-flying tricks you have learned as a kid as these never get old.
Before long, your kids’ kites would be airborne with minimal help from you. Kite flying can be a very fun activity for the entire family so long as everybody knows what to expect. When you have the right kite, scouted the best location, and through a little bit of practice, you’ll be piling up kite-flying memories that the whole family would cherish forever.
If you are traveling to New York City in the summer, you can’t escape the many opportunities to listen to and create free music. From impromptu performances on the city subways to live streaming orchestral performances, there is something for everyone.
The Queens Public Library hosts a number of live concerts from Lincoln Center. At select branches, the public is welcome to watch live streaming performances including operas, orchestras and soloists at no charge. They also offer a number of performances in foreign languages. For example, the Autumn Moon Festival Concert is a vocal performance in Chinese featuring performers in traditional costumes.
image via http://kidspianolessons.org/
The Metropolitan Transit Authority has sponsored a program titled “Music Under New York” since 1985. It sponsors musicians who perform in selected subway stations from all genres including jazz, salsa, classical and ethnic music. Performers use a variety of instruments including drums, flutes, violins, and guitars. The program is designed to provide quality musical entertainment for the riding public as well as to give exposure to up and coming musicians.
Although not authorized, on any given day you can experience a number of impromptu performances including a doo wop groups and a mariachi band. You can even find such diverse entertainment as break dancers, jugglers, ventriloquists and contortionists. There is even a young man who has created a drum set using pots, pans and buckets!
If you want to try your hand at playing the piano, there are organizations who will give you a public forum for free. One organization known as street pianos New York at SingforHope.org places pianos throughout the city’s pedestrian plazas, parks, and outdoor markets for the public to play. There are no rules. Novices as well as professionals often sit down for a few notes or an overture. The pianos are usually decorated by local artists. After the program has finished for the year, the organization donates the pianos to local schools.
A similar organization called “Play me, I’m Yours” was created by a British artist who located pianos in public places to be played by anyone who chose to. Pianos were located in train stations, bus stations and even on ferries. The organization has taken the concept worldwide and is now touring in cities like Boston, Cleveland, Santiago, Chile and Melbourne, Australia. “Play Me, I’m Yours” has teamed up with Sing for Hope and installed sixty pianos on the streets of New York.
image via http://deconstrut.blogspot.com
Smartphones have grown in popularity, and most home security system manufactures have responded in kind by developing their own smartphone applications with growing levels of sophistication.
What should you look for in terms of smartphone functionality in your home security system? Here are the top features you’ll want to have access to.
Text messages and/or push notifications are really important in any home security phone application; because you want to be alerted immediately when there is problem at home and you’re not there. A good system allows you to configure the system on when to notify you and when to also alert the police. More sophisticated configurations can notify you when someone accesses the system, such as a child arriving home from school, and can even tell you specifically where the system has had a warning triggered perhaps you were expecting someone to pick up items from the garage, which explains the motion detector warning, but you weren’t expecting your bedroom window to be opened.
What good is a remote application if you can’t take action? One of the best features of these apps is the ability to detect if the home alarm is on – and if it isn’t, remotely enable it. Some phones take this to the next level, allowing you to lock and unlock doors, adjust lighting, turn TVs on and off. The level of features and functions will vary depending on your lifestyle and living situation, but at a minimum, you want to be able to remotely turn the system on and off.
A good mobile security app will allow you to view footage from your home security cameras; while some apps do have limitations on real-time live shots, you should be able to at least get a quick snapshot – this is particularly important if your phone has door lock/unlock features as mentioned above. While you probably will not have months of archived camera video access, you should be able to access the most recent feeds to see if something happened earlier in the day to trigger the alarm. See ADT Home Security products for more information.
Alarm Trigger & Police Trigger
If your phone has alerted you to a potential threat and you believe the treat is real, your phone should allow you to trigger an audible alarm, if you have one, and also alert the police to investigate. Good home security systems have seamless integration with local police systems and can give them a file of information about what triggered the alarm, allowing the arriving officer to investigate with all the background information as to what triggered the alarm and quickly determine if there is someone in the home.
Last but certainly not least in our list of useful smartphone functionality is a historical view of events and triggers from your home security system. If you’re traveling or in business meetings and missed several notifications, or perhaps your partner or another family member reacted to the alarm before you were notified, a history view allows you to see what happened so you can check-in if needed. This can also be useful for insurance company or police investigation purposes, giving you additional peace of mind that your security system isn’t going to miss a thing.
When you think of the bathroom, your first thought probably isn’t comfort; given what goes on in there (let’s just agree that we all know and don’t need to talk about it any further), many people consider using the bathroom as a ‘get-in-get-out’ operation.
Even if you’re the most efficient bathroom user in the world though, the chances are you’re going to be spending a whole lot of time in your bathroom. According to a study conducted in the UK, the average person spends 1.5 years in the bathroom over the course of their lifetime!
1.5 years! That’s definitely not the kind of time you want to be spending in the cold, harsh environs of the average bathroom. Here are some top tips to transform your bathroom into a comfortable utopia that you may never actually want to leave!
image via http://www.iidudu.com
Change your lighting, change your mood
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of most bathrooms is the lighting. Whereas many of us go to great pains to strike the perfect lighting balance in our living rooms and kitchens, the standard lighting setup in the bathroom is usually harsh, bright lights.
Harsh lights make your bathroom seem clinical and unwelcoming; the kind of place you don’t want to spend much time in.
By contrast, mood lighting makes a bathroom much cosier. Finding good mood lighting is relatively simple too, with even bathroom cabinets now featuring mood lighting functions!
Spotlights and wall-mounted lighting can also give your bathroom a cosy edge over a hanging ceiling light.
Of course, you won’t always be using artificial light, which is where natural light comes in. Make sure that any sources of natural light aren’t obstructed in any way, especially if you have a small bathroom as plenty of natural light can make a room seem larger than it is.
Cosy floor, cosy mind
There’s nothing worse than getting out of a bed on a cold winter’s morning, walking into the bathroom and having to subject your feet to the torture of a freezing bathroom floor.
Luckily, the solution to this is relatively simple – buy a rug! You ideally want to buy a rug that matches the colour scheme of your bathroom and that is relatively easy to clean and maintain. Being resistant to the effects of water is also a must.
Smells like…a comfortable bathroom!
There’s no way to dodge the subject – bathrooms smell, and often smell really, really bad. For some, blasting a can of air freshener around the room is enough but that artificial smell can be quite off-putting and overpowering.
To maintain a constantly pleasant smell in your bathroom, try burning some incense or scented candles every now and again (although always keep an eye on anything burning!); although the candle will eventually burn out, the smell it leaves behind should last for a good few days.
Another option is to purchase an automated air freshener, which produces short bursts of air freshener every hour or so. A guaranteed way to keep your bathroom smelling fresh!
Colour has a big effect on our mood and can serve to either calm or agitate. Have a guess which emotion you want to be invoking in your bathroom…
Use calming colours and you’ll find that your bathroom experience is a lot more enjoyable. The obvious ‘calming’ colours for bathrooms tend to be creams and aqua tones but in all honesty, it depends on your own preferences; some people even find red oddly calming!
Whatever colour you choose, though, make the shade complementary to the room rather than the standout feature. Bright, garish shades – while working in some rooms – aren’t exactly conducive with chilling out.
So there you have it, four easy ways to make your bathroom a more pleasant place to be!
Christopher Smith is a writer currently working with Illuminated Mirrors, the UK’s leading supplier of LED bathroom mirrors.
If you are looking to educate yourself with regards to financial information, there are many tools available online that can assist you. While buying financial books is probably the best way to go, there are some websites that can be just as informative and educational. These are not websites that provide “get rich quick” schemes, or talk about tricks that will help you make money with stocks. The best financial information websites are the ones with accurate, up to date information.
These are websites that have been thoroughly read through, vetted, and approved by various financial experts.
image via http://www.valbaumann.com/
CNN Money’s Money 101 Tools
The hardest thing is to get a first foot into the financial world. If you are looking for a job in the financial sector, or simply want to start managing your money better, this website is the perfect learning resource. CNN Money presents the Money 101 tutorial website for financial beginners. The website teaches us about how money can be better managed, the fine print behind home loans, credit cards, and personal loans, and other information. There are 23 “lessons” in the Money 101 tutorial, and each lesson will give you guidance on how to manage and invest the money that you are earning.
Morningstar Presents thee Investment Classroom
If you are thinking about investing your money in the stock market, you need to be prepared for the process. It is important to have background information about stocks, bonds, buying and selling. This Morningstar “classroom” provides vital information on how people trade stocks and bonds, and how mutual funds work. The best part about this course is that completing it provides credits that allow you to access Morningstar.com Premium for free.
Yahoo! Presents the Finance Index of Experts
Yahoo!’s Finance Index of Experts is not a class or a course that will automatically give you the right financial information. Think of this tool as an index or articles, blogs, expert views, and news. If there is a certain financial topic you are confused about, you can search this index for various viewpoints.
Bankrate.com Financial Calculators
Using a traditional calculator, or Microsoft Excel formulas, can be tedious when financial calculations are required. Using the Bankrate.com Financial Calculators is a great way to get the right result with minimal effort. These tools can be used to calculate mortgage payments, auto insurance payments, bank loan payments, and investment/retirement portfolio calculations. Not only will you get the right figures, but you will save a lot of time by using Bankrate.com.
This is the perfect website if you are looking for snippets of blogs from true financial pros. Instead of reading financial news from the typical sources such as Bloomberg and CNN, you can get more in depth analysis from PFBlogs.com. Some of the blogs are free, while others require a subscription. If you see a snippet of a blog that appeals to you, it is easy to go on that website and register for access to the full version.
These blogs are archived, which means that you can access blogs from a year ago if you want. The “recently popular” tab is perfect for getting blogs on financial events from the past week or two. Has the Fed increased interest rates? Find out what financial experts make of the move by going to PFBlogs.com.
John Rutherford is a passionate blogger who provides debt guides and covers the latest finace news over at Financial News Group
Think back to your childhood days, the time you spent at school. What is the first thing you think of? We’re willing to bet that, apart from maybe your first kiss, a favourite teacher or your worst punishment, school trips will be some of the fondest memories.
School trips gave you and your fellow students the chance to escape the everyday monotony of the classroom with its dull desks and exercise books, getting to experience real learning, hands-on learning which was much more enjoyable than the rigmarole of examinations.
Sadly, thanks to increasing concerns about health and safety, the school trip has been slowly receding into memory-only territory in recent years. Many within the teaching sector do still advocate its importance; here are some of the reasons why it’s still relevant.
Laburnum Arch image via http://www.adventuresofmurpharoo.com/
Applications in the Real World
Most people think of education as the time spent inside the classroom, the time spent twiddling thumbs and passing notes while staring incomprehensibly at the blackboard. The “standard” form of education is the teacher talking and the pupils listening.
Due to short attention spans, this method can be surprisingly ineffective. For a child to understand what makes society tick, he or she must be taken out of the classroom and placed in the real world.
Whether this is simply a trip to a zoo or a work experience day in a local firm, kids can really benefit from learning outside school.
Most children probably wouldn’t say they particular “enjoy” going to school, for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s that they’d prefer to be at home watching cartoons or that they’d actually like to be outside playing sports, kids would usually prefer to do something more traditionally fun than sitting in the classroom.
Field trips are an event – something kids look forward to as it makes a change in the routine. It is much more stimulating than the “passiveness” of classroom learning, and causes kids to pay greater attention to the lessons being taught.
An educational day out at Ness Botanical Gardens or a trip to the Discover Science Museum, a school trip can be a great way to teach more specialised lesson than perhaps would not work within the confines of the school grounds.
Places such as Beamish (the North of England Open Air Museum) in Durham can make for a memorable day out, whilst simultaneously allowing the kids to get a hands-on experience of life at the time. This sort of thing applies well to museums as well.
As you can see, it is fairly clear that school field trips are still very important. Though it’s very unlikely that we’ll see classroom learning shaken up in the near future, we can still rest assured that field trips shouldn’t be going the way of the dodo.
In class, pupils can feel put off, not understanding what real world applications the lessons will have for them. However, if you take them out of the classroom, all of a sudden they are begging to learn and will soon understand what importance their lessons really have. For further reading see this PDF produced by HSE here.
image via http://www.nessgardens.org.uk