Yearly Archives: 2014

Celebrating Thanksgiving

PilgrimsThanksgiving can be traced back to 1863 when Lincoln became the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving Day. The holiday has been a fixture of late November ever since. The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church. They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. They lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast – including 91 native Americans who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the native Americans. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival and lasted three days.

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving today. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies’ Magazine, and later, in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale’s obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

LIncolnIn 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.

To Learn more about the history and traditions of this holiday go to:  Find fun activities to do with the children here:

Au Pairs Enjoy a Navy Football Game in Annapolis

DSC_0323DSC_0340This past Saturday, 70 au pairs from around the world from our three clusters (Annapolis, Baltimore and Columbia), braved the cold and went to a Navy Football game in Annapolis.  For some this was a first time experience! While it was cold outside we kept warm by huddling together and enjoying hot chocolate!  Go Navy!

DSC_0342DSC_0331navyfootballDSC_0325hot coco

Au Pairs participate in Scavenger Hunt on the National Mall in DC

DSC_0170The Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia clusters of Au Pair in America gathered together at the Washington Monument on Sunday, October 5th for the 14th Annual Scavenger Hunt. Each year, since 2000, teams of au pairs are sent with assignments in hand, meant to help them learn about some of our American History.

The weather cooperated this past Sunday.The questions assigned were a bit more difficult this time around – which made for a fun challenge among the teams. Everyone looks forward to next year!



Driving-School Buses

Back to School

The rules regarding stopping for school buses are:

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to load or unload children. You should slow down and prepare to stop the car.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and children are getting on or off. Motorists approaching from either direction must wait until the red lights stop flashing before proceeding.
  • It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus while its lights are flashing and its’ stop arm is extended. Vehicles must stop on both sides of the roadway. Failure to stop can result in high fines which the au pair has to pay, not the host family.

Getting kids to eat healthy snacks

DSC_1219The Annapolis cluster had the privilege of having Tammy Turner from Annapolis Pediatrics educate my au pairs on how to get picky eaters to eat their fruits and veggies.  Tammy suggested eating a “rainbow” every day and keeping track of the colors  each day as a way of  making eating healthy fun and exciting.  For example, Mondays could be blue and purple and another day could be yellow and orange.  Choosing a variety of veggies such as squash, sugar snap peas and yellow grape tomatoes adds color to their plate.  Picking fruits that look interesting like kiwi or mangoes teaches children that there are many different kinds of fruits to choose from.  DSC_1221So while they may not like a certain fruit they may really enjoy something else.  It’s all about exposing your children to different foods to get them to try something new.  Suggestions were provided on snacks you can make days in advance in less than 5 minutes!  The au pairs were invited to try veggies alone or dipped in roasted pepper hummus or fruit paired with Greek Vanilla yogurt.  A great website to give au pairs other suggestions may be found at  Another great tip was to download the free app called Fooducate on your smart phone.  This app allows you to scan the bar code of any given food and the app then provides you with a grade and color to see if this is as healthy as you think.  This is a wonderful tool to use with children to get them excited about what they are eating and a  fun way to get kids involved in  eating healthy. DSC_1229DSC_1225DSC_1230

Anne Arundel County Fair ~ Sept 10-14, 2014

Anne Arundel County FairThe Anne Arundel County Fair is an annual event held in Crownsville, Maryland that dates back to 1953. The fair includes a full range of entertainment for the whole family including carnival rides and games, animal exhibits, monster trucks, pony rides, garden tractor pulls, pig races, pie eating contests, a talent show, live music and much more. The Fair will be held from Sept. 10-14th this year.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 10-12 and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 13-14. For more information visit their website at:

Admission Prices
$6.00 Ages 16 and over
$4.00 Children ages 8-15
Ages 7 & under free
Senior Citizens (ages 55 & over) & Disabled Free on Thursday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Happy Labor Day ~ some great ideas for your children

Labor DayHere are some interesting fact about the upcoming Labor Day holiday that you may not know.  Below are some tips on what you can do with your children to celebrate from cooking recipes to coloring pages.  Use this time to engage is some cultural sharing with your families.

The Workman’s Holiday ~ Dedicated in honor of the worker, Labor Day is also known as the “workingman’s holiday”. The holiday is dedicated to all workers in the United States in respect and appreciation for the work they do in or outside of the home, union or non-union, big companies and small companies and au pairs too. As long as you work somewhere at something, this holiday is for you! It is a day to celebrate your contribution to American working life and the work you do.

The First Labor Day ~ The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882 and was started by the Central Labor Union in New York City. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September where it is celebrated today. Labor Day quickly became popular and one state after another voted it as a holiday. On June 28, 1894, the U.S. congress voted it a national holiday.

The End of Summer ~ Labor Day is also viewed as the official end of summer. While the Fall Equinox is still a couple of weeks away, kids go back to school and summer vacations are over. This day is celebrated with a long weekend off from work and union sponsored parades. Many people celebrate this weekend with one last picnic. It is also the date that many people close up the swimming pool, and put away the boats.

Was it McGuire or Maguire? Either Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire is the Creator of Labor Day. Peter J. McGuire, was an active labor organizer. He was also general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. He was believed to be the first to suggest a day be dedicated to American workers and their accomplishments. Matthew Maguire however, was secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York in 1882 and many believed that he proposed the holiday in 1882.

So What do Americans eat on Labor Day? Picnics and barbecues are popular ways  to celebrate Labor Day.  Old standards are hamburgers, corn dogs, coleslaw, potato salad  corn on the cob, baked beans and sliced tomatoes. Finish up with sliced watermelon, apple or blueberry  pie and freshly churned ice cream.  Sound good?

Want to try a recipe?  

Click here for Labor Day coloring pages:

Click here for Labor Day short stories for children:

Au Pairs Experience Sailing in Annapolis!

CSC_1172DSC_1181 DSC_1184 DSC_1188 DSC_1185 DSC_1176 DSC_1204 The Annapolis cluster au pairs went sailing in Annapolis this past Friday on the Woodwind Schooner (  While the weather did not completely participate it was a truly enjoyable evening.  We saw a beautiful sunset, saw some amazing osprey nests (they are actually sea hawks we learned from the captain!), donned rain gear, saw a rainbow and steered the helm!  All in one night ~ a very quintessential Annapolis experience that hopefully will be remembered for many years after their return back home.

Back to School

back to school The first day of school is quickly approaching and buses filled with anxious students will soon be back on the roads. Parents are reminded that back-to-school readiness includes reviewing bus safety and etiquette.

Riding the school bus has longtime been considered the safest form of student transportation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, American students are nearly eight times safer riding in a school bus than with their own parents and guardians in cars.

As with all forms of transportation, dangers do exist. According to HCDE’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools, “The greatest danger is not riding on the bus, but rather getting on or off the bus. In particular, young school children ages 5-7 are the most at-risk for bus-related injury.”

Parents and children should discuss bus safety together to help ensure a safe start to the new school year. The Center for Safe and Secure Schools offers the following bus safety tips to help ease the back-to-school transition:

• Talk to your kids about bus safety and respect. Ridership is a privilege. It can be taken away due to bad behavior, so check with your school district about established guidelines. Refer to the policy as “school bus behavior policy” and go over it with your child.

• Dress appropriately for the weather. Many buses are not air-conditioned.

• Be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is set to arrive. Tardiness can lead to mistakes in safety measures. Examples might be running in front of the bus; running back to find something left on the bus; or bending over or bending down to retrieve something dropped while getting off of the bus.

• Kids should follow the five giant steps rule: Be five giant steps back from where the bus actually stops until it comes to a complete stop and the driver opens the door.

• Backpacks/bags need to be fully closed and sized appropriately for the child to prevent safety hazards such as dragging straps.

• Always stay seated on the bus. Teach your child to stay in the seat until the bus comes to a complete stop at your child’s destination.

• Show appreciation to the bus driver. Remind your kids to say thank you when they get off. Kindness and good manners go a long way.

• Railroad crossings require drivers to stop, to open the door and to make sure the coast is clear. Teach your kids to be extra quiet during these times.

• Go over your child’s bus routine. Describe the location and street where your child should get off.

• Don’t hang out of the window. Keep body parts inside the bus.

• For younger kids, write down their names, bus number, bus stop and where you may be reached and put that information inside their backpack. Help your children memorize your cell telephone number; putting it to song can help.

• Bullying should never be tolerated. Talk to your child about bullying on the bus. Read your district’s school bus behavior policy to understand to whom you should report such behavior. It may be the driver, teacher, principal or someone else.

Each school district has school bus ridership rules and policies in place. Families are encouraged to navigate their school district’s website to locate and discuss the school bus rules with their student.