The Annapolis, Baltimore and Columbia clusters all hosted holiday parties this month. The Annapolis cluster enjoyed a gift exchange and an international cookie swap where all the girls brought a baked good typical to their home country to share. Everyone went home with a bag of cookies from around the world. The Annapolis and Columbia clusters invited a Federal Marshal to attend to speak to the girls about personal safety when going out alone, with friends or when out with the children that have been entrusted to their care. Topics discussed included awareness of their surroundings, how to handle going shopping with children and what to do in case they find themselves to be a victim of a crime. Internet safety tips were discussed as well. The counselors presented the au pairs with a wonderful bright red umbrella with the Au Pair in America logo as our holiday gift to them. The Baltimore cluster had fun displaying their cheerful red umbrellas for the camera. It was a perfect day to hand out umbrellas as the weather was overcast and drizzly on Sunday. The cluster also did a Secret Santa gift exchange. Everyone left with a little gift, and feeling very much in the spirit of the season. We wish all the au pairs, the host families and their beautiful children a blessed and wonderful holiday, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season. This great website offers 50-plus great places to see the holiday lights in 2012. Lights on the Bay outside of Annapolis are listed as Number 2! It is a drive-through holiday light show at Sandy Point State Park along the Chesapeake Bay, where there are stationery and animated displays including a glowing lighthouse, Navy midshipmen, oysters and blue crabs. Visit between November 19th and January 2nd. If you are traveling out of town to visit with family and friends this website offers many other places to check out the holiday lights to get everyone into the spirit. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
Click HERE for 50+ Great Places to See Holiday Lights.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving several au pairs and host families joined their Community Counselor, Patty Antreasian, for an afternoon volunteering at Our Daily Bread in Baltimore. The event was sponsored by the United Way, and we prepared hundreds of casseroles, desserts and snack bags to be distributed to families in need. Our group not only had a lot of fun but also felt that it was a very rewarding experience. We will definitely do this again next year!
Diwali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is celebrated with the lighting of lamps and candles, and lots of fireworks. It is regarded as one of the most important festivals of the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated across the nation with great pomp and excitement. The festival is mainly associated with lights as it is called the festival of light. The name Diwali signifies ‘rows of lighted lamps’. Diwali is a five-day festival, beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of Kartika (Ashwin). Diyas and candles are placed on rooftops, rooms, and kitchen and even in the bathrooms. On this day, people worship Lord Ganesha, the foremost of all Hindu Gods and Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. It is time to exchange gifts and sweets with friends, relatives and neighbors. Diwali in 2012 will start today, Tuesday, the 13th of November, and will continue for 5 days until Saturday, the 17th of November.
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For those au pairs who would like to take the only approved online course, please visit www.uclaextension.edu/aupairs for information. Registration begins today, November 5.
Halloween is right around the corner and many children are already counting down the days. Parents know the drill–they want their little ones to have a super-fun and not-too-spooky time trick-or-treating, all the while staying safe. No problem: Follow these handy tips and your little princess, Batman, or Spider-Man should be good to go. There are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the latest U.S. Census data. That’s a lot of kids out on the streets getting their Halloween on. And where children go, there go safety concerns.
“Halloween is one of the most anticipated nights of the year for children,” says Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations with a mission to prevent unintentional childhood injury. “And it’s an important night for parents to be extra vigilant, because the reality is, twice as many kids are hit by a car while walking on Halloween than any other day of the year”, she said, citing a statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
On Halloween, kids are enjoying new sensations and experiences that are fun–but distracting. They’re wearing unusual outfits in unfamiliar material. They may be wearing headgear such as a crown or pirate hat, or wearing face paint. And they’re suddenly at liberty to venture outdoors in these ensembles, knock on doors, and munch on some candy while they’re at it. Keeping your kids safe starts with some smart choices, Carr said, including picking a costume that’s safe for your child to move in and see out of. “Loose fitting clothing and oversized shoes can trip a trick-or-treater,” she says, advising that families also “leave sharp objects, like pirate swords, at home.” Since masks can obscure vision, she suggests using face paint instead.
Halloween usually means mobs of kids will be walking the streets at dusk, so it makes sense to talk to your kids about pedestrian safety, too. “Remind them to cross at crosswalks or at a corner, make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the street, and check left, right and left again,” Carr suggests. When it comes to older kids, “Remind them to take out the headphones and pocket their cell phone when crossing the street,” Carr urges. “That’s actually a good reminder for every day of the year.”
Whether mom or dad plan to dress up as a witch, vampire, or pirate, you can set a good example for your kids with your costume and your conduct so everyone will have a great night. Some more Halloween safety tips for families:
- Buy costumes and wigs labeled “flame resistant.”
- Never walk near lit candles or luminaries while wearing costumes.
- Wear shoes that fit well.
- Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
- Be cautious with face paint–much of it isn’t FDA-approved and could trigger allergic reactions. (Always test it first on a small patch of skin.) Remove it before bedtime to avoid skin/eye irritation.
- Never use decorative contact lenses; they can result in severe eye infections.
- Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
- Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
- Always walk and don’t run from house to house.
- Stay on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic. Look for cars when walking by a driveway.
- Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
- Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.
- Only visit well-lit houses. Don’t stop at dark houses.
- Never accept rides from strangers.
On October 14th, over 200 au pairs met at the base of the Washington Monument for the annual Scavenger Hunt. The theme for this year’s hunt was the 2012 Presidential Election with prizes going to the winning teams. Everyone had a great time exploring Washington DC in search of answers and items to be team with the most points to win a prize. Every au pair went home with a prize, fond memories and new friends.
Continuing the Educational theme, after the Red Cross Class in September, members of the Baltimore cluster visited Whole Foods in Mt. Washington for a tour of the store given by the Healthy Eating Specialist, Heidi Barboy. She gave us a tour around the store, and most importantly “free samples” of some delicious foods. I was reminded of what a great community resource Whole Foods is. They have a calendar of events that often has activities for children.
Here is a link for Nutrition Tips for Kids & Teens, on their site:
On Saturday September 15, the Baltimore Cluster devoted 6 hours of their weekend to learning about pediatric CPR and First Aid methods. Twenty three au pairs arrived at the Red Cross Headquarters on Mt. Hope Drive in Baltimore at 9AM and completed the class at 3PM. It was a beautiful day outside, but the au pairs reported that the class was interesting and fun. They all passed the test and are now certified for two years.
APIA will pay for this class for any au pairs with at least six months left on their visa. It must be taken through the Red Cross. The Red Cross will hold a private class for as few as six students. If interested in learning more contact your community counselor.
The APIA office will close at 3.00pm today and will be closed on Monday in observance of Columbus Day.
Columbus Day, which is observed annually on the second Monday of October, remembers Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492.
Americans are often invited to celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of their country with church services and other activities. In some towns and cities, special church services, parades and large events are held. Most celebrations are concentrated around the Italian-American community. The celebrations in New York and San Francisco are particularly noteworthy. In Hawaii Columbus Day is also known as Landing Day or Discoverer’s Day. Not all parts of the United States celebrate Columbus Day. It is not a public holiday in California, Nevada and Hawaii.
For more information about this holiday go to: http://www.history.com/topics/columbus-day
For activities for children including arts and crafts, word searches, puzzles and more facts and history go to http://www.theholidayzone.com/columbus/