Author Archives: Natasha Wrobel

About Natasha Wrobel

Welcome! My name is Natasha Wrobel and I am the senior community counselor for the greater Annapolis, Maryland area. I have been a community counselor with Au Pair in America since 2000. In college I had the opportunity to study the German language in Austria at the University of Graz. Prior to becoming a counselor I was an attorney with the United States Air Force and was on active duty for nine years. I will retire from the Air Force in July 2015 after 20 years of service. Having lived abroad and studied a foreign language has served me well in connecting with au pairs from around the world in my role as a community counselor. Having hosted an au pair in my home has given me an understanding of the program from a host family perspective. It has been a joy to help facilitate a cultural exchange with these young women and American families as they introduce their children to other cultures and traditions. It is a delight to witness our children gain a better appreciation of our world. So often host families stay in touch with their former au pairs for years, long after the au pair has returned to her home country, leaving our children with a greater understanding of community and family! This has been the most rewarding aspect for me to witness.

Au Pairs Experience Snow Tubing at Ski Liberty

DSC_0877The Annapolis, Baltimore and Columbia clusters had a fantastic outing on Saturday February 27. We went snow tubing at Ski Liberty, located just over the Pennsylvania line. There were several host families along for the fun, and our group totaled 50 happy tubers!
Events like this one serve the purpose of introducing those au pairs from parts of the globe that don’t have snow to the fun sports we entertain ourselves with during the winter months, as well as bringing everyone together to meet new friends. Camaraderie during ones au pair year cannot be underestimated.

snow tubingDSC_0896snow tubing 2DSC_0891DSC_0895snow tubing 3

For anyone who would like to experience snow tubing while it still is offered, we can highly recommend Ski Liberty.

Celebrating President’s Day Feb 15th

Presidents DayPresidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22 ~ Washington’s actual day of birth ~ the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for American workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.
To see a listing of all U.S. presidents go to Click on each president to find out who they were and what they achieved during their presidency. This is a great site to go through with your children to test their knowledge and your own!

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan 18th, 2016

MLKMartin Luther King Jr. was the most important voice of the American civil rights movement, which worked for equal rights for all. He was famous for using nonviolent resistance to overcome injustice. He also did all he could to make people realize that “all men are created equal.” Because of his great work, in 1964 King received the Nobel Peace Prize — the youngest person ever to receive this high honor. King was also a Baptist minister. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was just 39 years old. His birthday is now observed as a national holiday on the third Monday in January. Congressman John Conyers first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday four days after King was assassinated in 1968. Petitions endorsing the holiday containing six million names were submitted to Congress. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington. Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.  “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King

Here are some links with more information about the history of this holiday including a biography of Dr. King, a quiz for kids and a junior crossword.

To read the full I Have a dream Speech go to:

A great holiday gift to gain a better appreciation for other cultures

Foreign to FamiliarThis would be a great gift this holiday season ~ Foreign to Familiar is a book that is a splendidly written, well researched work on cultures. Anyone traveling abroad should not leave home without this valuable resource! Sarah’s love and sensitivity for people of all nations will touch your heart. This book creates within us a greater appreciation for our extended families around the world and an increased desire to better understand them.

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy HanukkahHanukkah begins at sundown this Sunday, December 6th and ends on Monday, December 14th. Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of Lights or Feast of Dedication. The Hebrew word Hanukkah means dedication. The holiday begins on the eve of the 25th day of the Hebrew Month of Kislev and lasts eight days. Hanukkah usually falls in the month of December, but occasionally can start in November.

The history: The books of the Maccabees tell the story of Hanukkah which occurred in 165 B.C. After three years of struggle, the Jews in Judea defeated the Syrian tyrant Antiochus. The Jewish people held festivities in the Temple of Jerusalem, and rededicated it to God. After removing all Syrian idols from the Temple, the Jews found only one small pot of oil to light their holy lamps. Miraculously, the small pot provided oil for eight days. Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish leader, then proclaimed a festival to be observed by Jewish people.

Hannukah Traditions

The Menorah: The centerpiece of the Hanukkah celebration is the Hanukkah or menorah, a candelabra that holds nine candles. Eight candles symbolize the number of days that the Temple lantern blazed; the ninth, the shamash, is a helper candle used to light the others. Families light one candle on the first day, two on the second (and so on) after sundown during the eight days of Hanukkah, while reciting prayers and singing songs. The menorah — either store-bought or homemade and crafted of metal, wood, papier mache, or clay — is filled from right to left, but lit left to right so each new candle is lit first.

Singing Songs: Hanukkah — one of the most family-oriented of Jewish holidays — comes with its own set of carols sung around the glowing menorah. These celebrate everything from the glory of God and the ancient Temple of the Jews (“Maoz Tzur”) to the simplicity of a dreidel (see below), as in “Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel/I made it out of clay/And when it’s dry and ready/Dreidel I shall play.”

Yummy Treats:
There’s nothing low-fat about Hanukkah – many of the traditional foods of the holiday are deep-fried. In honor of the oil-y miracle people celebrating Hannukah like to eat foods that are fried in oil like latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) and different fried breads. Want to have a go at making something? There are lots of recipes for yummy treats here:

Spinning Tops: It’s customary to play with dreidels (spinning tops) during the holiday, even wage gambling games in which players guess which side of the top will fall face up. Legend has it that during the Greek-Syrian dictatorship in Israel of yore, Jews got around the ban on reading the Torah by bringing spinning tops to study sessions so their oppressors would think they were just playing around. The Hebrew characters carved into the four sides of today’s dreidels are the first letters of “Ness Gadol Haya Po/Sham,” which roughly translates to “Great Miracle Happened Here/There” (depending on whether you’re in Israel or not).

For fun and educational activities for children go to

Au Pair in America Enjoys a Navy Football Game

DSC_0751What a perfect day we had at the Naval Academy Stadium in Annapolis on Saturday, November 14th! Au Pairs, and one host family, from our three clusters joined together to watch a game between Navy and SMU. It didn’t matter if anyone understood the rules of football or not – the atmosphere was what mattered most to our group. Crisp cool fall weather, blue skies, seeing groups of fans tailgating, seeing the planes fly over before the game after hearing a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. A moment of silence was observed for Paris. It was a beautiful American experience.DSC_0747DSC_0746DSC_0753DSC_0737DSC_0754

veterans dayThere are over 19 million veterans in the United States. Many of us have a family member, friend, neighbor or host parent who has served or is currently serving our country. Let’s all make a wish for peace today and appreciate our veterans. The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. Learn more about Veterans day by clicking on the link below!

Columbus Day Observed on October 14th!

Columbus DayColumbus 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: For activities for children including arts and crafts, word searches, puzzles and more facts and history go to

Childcare with a Cultural Flare ~ Simplify your Life!

DSC_0143If interested in learning more about hosting an au pair in your home to see if this would meet your childcare needs please stop by my Au Pair in America table at The Festival on the Green at the Crofton Country Club located at 1691 Crofton Parkway between the hours of 10am and 4pm on September 26th. I will have au pairs on hand to answer any of your questions. If you are not in the market please feel free to let others know that may be! Have a great weekend. For more information about us visit our website at