Yearly Archives: 2012

The Hanukkah Story

hanukkahHanukkah started on Saturday evening and will end on Sunday, December 16th

 

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. It starts on the 25th of the Jewish month of Kislev, which coincides with late November-late December on the secular calendar.  In Hebrew, the word “hanukkah” means “dedication.” The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E. 

jewish family

The Hanukkah Story

In 168 B.C. the Jewish Temple was seized by Syrian-Greek soldiers and dedicated to the worship of the god Zeus. This upset the Jewish people, but many were afraid to fight back for fear of reprisals. The Syrian-Greek emperor Antiochus then made the observance of Judaism an offense punishable by death. He also ordered all Jews to worship Greek gods.

Jewish resistance began in the village of Modiin, near Jerusalem. Greek soldiers gathered the Jewish villages and told them to bow down to an idol, then eat the flesh of a pig – both practices that are forbidden to Jews. A Greek officer ordered Mattathias, a High Priest, to follow their demands, but Mattathias refused. When another villager stepped forward and offered to cooperate on Mattathias’ behalf, the High Priest became outraged. He drew his sword and killed the villager, then turned on the Greek officer and killed him too. His five sons and the other villagers then attacked the remaining soldiers, killing all of them.  Mattathias and his family went into hiding in the mountains, where other Jews wishing to fight against the Greeks joined them. Eventually they succeeded in retaking their land from the Greeks. These rebels became known as the Maccabees, or Hasmoneans.

Once the Maccabees had regained control they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem. By this time it had been spiritually defiled by being used for the worship of foreign gods and also by practices such as sacrificing swine. Jewish troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day’s worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.  The holiday is observed by the kindling of the lights of a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched Menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The typical Menorah consists of eight branches with an additional raised branch. The extra light is called a shamash and is given a distinct location, usually above or below the rest. The purpose of the shamash is to have a light available for use, as using the Hanukkah lights themselves is forbidden.

For fun and educational activities for children go to http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/hanukkah/

Directions to play the Dreidel game.  Play for Hershey kisses, a great way to have fun with the kids when they are home from school!  http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/hanukkah/dreidel-game.html

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Diwali!

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.

diwali-greetings-2

Take a peek at the YouTube video to learn more:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMguvWvA5Yk

Taking An Education Course Is Important!

picture of teacherThe education component of the Au Pair program is a requirement of the State Department of the United States. The State Department gives authorization for all Au Pair programs to exist.  When an Au Pair does not achieve her requirement, this puts all Au Pair agencies at risk. Completing your education hours is an important part of being an Au Pair and is required by your contract with Au Pair In America.  Taking a course will provide yet another level of experience during your year and yields many skills that you can use to further your personal goals. You may also make new friends and professional contacts! I hope you enjoy your educational courses. If you need assistance finding a course or have questions, please call or email your counselor.

Some Important Tips:

Any course can be taken as long as it is taught from a college, university or technical college. Only those schools approved by the State Department can be accepted. All of the schools listed on your resource page on the Au Pair website are accepted http://www.aupairinamerica.com/state/georgia.asp

  •  Your counselor can clarify any questions about a school.
  • Volunteer hours do not count towards your educational credits
  • Weekend courses do count if the course is a part of a college or university.  Some places offering weekend courses are not accredited. Ask your counselor before signing up.
  • The only online course currently being accepted by the State Department is the UCLA Au pair advantage online course. NO other online course can be accepted.
  • 72-80 hours of education are required for standard au pairs.
  • 144-160 hours for Educare au pairs.
  • For a second year au pair, 36-40 hours is required for a six-month extension and 72-80 hours for a nine or twelve-month extension.
  •  Credits, hours and CEUs are different. Count the hours you are in a classroom this must be 72 hours.
  • At the end of your course, send your community counselor your documents showing the name of the school and the hours that you have achieved. Check your certificate. Some certificates do not show the number of hours. If the hours are not present on the certificate, you will need a letter from the school stating how many hours you have achieved. This information is needed by your counselor to insure your certificate is giving to you and to prevent issues with your flight home.
  • All education must be achieved one month prior to the end of your Au Pair term. Send all certificates or proof of your classes to your community counselor.
  • If you plan to extend, your education needs to be finished four months before the end of your term. This is the time that the information to extend is sent out to you.
  • Host families reimburse tuition costs and costs of related materials (books and supplies) up to $500 for the first year. EduCare companions are reimbursed up to $1000 for the first year. If it will cost you more than $500 (or $1000 for EduCare) to meet the requirement, you must pay the additional expense, so plan carefully.
  • Your host family is required to provide transportation, including gasoline, parking, or public transportation costs (if applicable) to and from classes in your community. The cost of transportation is in addition to the $500/$1000 allocated to tuition and related fees. It is your host family’s responsibility to provide transportation or cover the transportation costs until you complete your educational requirement, even if the $500 education allowance has already been spent.
  • To extend your first Au Pair term, you will need to have proof of 72 hours. Send the documentation to your community counselor as soon as possible. You should plan to have your education requirement finished at the time you request an extension. This happens approximately three-four months before the end of your first term. Au pair In America requires 72 hours to be able to extend your au pair term. Without 72 hours completed one month prior to the end of your term, Au Pair In America will not accept your application to extend and you must go home at the end of your first year.

If you want to extend and have not completed all of the hours, but you do intend to have them finished before at least two months prior to the end of your first term, you will need to do the following:

1. Register for a class that will complete 72 hours of education at least two months before the end of your first term. All proof of education must be given to your counselor before your deadline to extend. As soon as your counselor can check off for the education requirement, your request to extend can be approved. All requests to extend must be submitted to the State department NO later than 30 days from the end of your year.  Without the education requirement finished, you will not be able to start the interviewing process for your extension.  

2. Send documents showing proof of your registration to your community counselor as soon as possible.  This allows the office to submit your request to the State Department and upon the approval, you can begin to interview with families.  You must have a match before your year ends. 

Your counselor is the best person to ask questions about your education requirement. Courses and colleges are constantly changing. Your counselor is always researching new and exciting courses that are appropriate for you.  If you are aware of a new resource, please let your counselor know!

 For more information about your education requirement visit http://www.aupairinamerica.com/resources/life_in_the_us/education.asp#1

Election Day in the USA!

election2012-300x116

This day is a special day for all USA citizens. It is an honor to vote and one that we celebrate! Regardless of political party associations, US citizens are very proud and passionate about the ability to vote. Ask your host parents or other citizens what it means to be able to vote. I’m sure that you will have interesting and meaningful conversations to reflect on long after your au pair year ends!

The way in which people vote, depends on the state in which they live. In Oregon, all votes are cast by post and all votes have to be received at a given time on Election Day. In the state of Washington, nearly all people vote by post and the envelopes containing the voting papers have to be postmarked with the date of Election Day. In other states, people vote at voting stations, where long queues can form.  Here in Georgia we go to our assigned local voting place.  Many are in schools, firehouses, and community centers.

 The election process is somewhat complicated here in the USA. A president must win a majority of the electoral votes not the popular vote. For simple information about the USA political system go to http://bensguide.gpo.gov/9-12/index.html

More Tips for Fire Safety and Prevention: Basic Home Fire Escape Planning.

October 7-13 is Fire Safety and prevention week!


Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. http://www.firepreventionweek.org):

Basic fire escape planning:

Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.

  • Pull together everyone in your household and make a plan. Include the Au pair in your home in this discussion. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Households with children should consider drawing a floor plan of your home, marking two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Also, mark the location of each smoke alarm. For easy planning, download NFPA’s escape planning grid (PDF, 634 KB). This is a great way to get children involved in fire safety in a non-threatening way.
  • Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code® requires interconnected smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Everyone in the household must understand the escape plan. When you walk through your plan, check to make sure the escape routes are clear and doors and windows can be opened easily.
  • Choose an outside meeting place (i.e. neighbor’s house, a light post, mailbox, or stop sign) a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped. Make sure to mark the location of the meeting place on your escape plan.
  • Go outside to see if your street number is clearly visible from the road. If not, paint it on the curb or install house numbers to ensure that responding emergency personnel can find your home.
  • Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department. That way any member of the household can call from a neighbor’s home or a cellular phone once safely outside.
  • If there are infants, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, make sure that someone is assigned to assist them in the fire drill and in the event of an emergency. Assign a backup person too, in case the designee is not home during the emergency.
  • If windows or doors in your home have security bars, make sure that the bars have emergency release devices inside so that they can be opened immediately in an emergency. Emergency release devices won’t compromise your security – but they will increase your chances of safely escaping a home fire.
  • Tell guests or visitors to your home about your family’s fire escape plan. When staying overnight at other people’s homes, ask about their escape plan. If they don’t have a plan in place, offer to help them make one. This is especially important when children are permitted to attend “sleepovers” at friends’ homes. See NFPA’s “Sleepover fire safety for kids” fact sheet.
  • Be fully prepared for a real fire: when a smoke alarm sounds, get out immediately. Residents of high-rise and apartment buildings may be safer “defending in place.”
  • Once you’re out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building. If someone is missing, inform the fire department dispatcher when you call. Firefighters have the skills and equipment to perform rescues.

Putting your plan to the test

  • Practice your home fire escape plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.
  • Make arrangements in your plan for anyone in your home who has a disability.
  • Allow children to master fire escape planning and practice before holding a fire drill at night when they are sleeping. The objective is to practice, not to frighten, so telling children there will be a drill before they go to bed can be as effective as a surprise drill.
  • It’s important to determine during the drill whether children and others can readily waken to the sound of the smoke alarm. If they fail to awaken, make sure that someone is assigned to wake them up as part of the drill and in a real emergency situation.
  • If your home has two floors, every family member (including children) must be able to escape from the second floor rooms. Escape ladders can be placed in or near windows to provide an additional escape route. Review the manufacturer’s instructions carefully so you’ll be able to use a safety ladder in an emergency. Practice setting up the ladder from a first floor window to make sure you can do it correctly and quickly. Children should only practice with a grown-up, and only from a first-story window. Store the ladder near the window, in an easily accessible location. You don’t want to have to search for it during a fire.
  • Always choose the escape route that is safest – the one with the least amount of smoke and heat – but be prepared to escape under toxic smoke if necessary. When you do your fire drill, everyone in the family should practice getting low and going under the smoke to your exit.
  • Closing doors on your way out slows the spread of fire, giving you more time to safely escape.
  • In some cases, smoke or fire may prevent you from exiting your home or apartment building. To prepare for an emergency like this, practice “sealing yourself in for safety” as part of your home fire escape plan. Close all doors between you and the fire. Use duct tape or towels to seal the door cracks and cover air vents to keep smoke from coming in. If possible, open your windows at the top and bottom so fresh air can get in. Call the fire department to report your exact location. Wave a flashlight or light-colored cloth at the window to let the fire department know where you are located.

URL: http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=406&itemID=17735&URL=Safety%20Information/For%20consumers/Escape%20planning/Basic%20fire%20escape%20planning

October 7-13 is Fire Safety and Prevention Week!

October 7-13 is Fire Safety and prevention week.

Two of the most common causes of accidental fires are related to cooking and the use of candles. Consider these tips and stay safe!


Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. http://www.firepreventionweek.org:

Cooking safety tips

Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking. It’s important to be alert to prevent cooking fires.

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire — oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains — away from your stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

URL: http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1695&itemID=41075&URL=Safety%20Information/For%20consumers/Causes/Cooking/Cooking%20safety%20tips

Candle safety tips

Candles may be pretty to look at but they are a cause of home fires — and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.

  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Think about using flameless candles in your home. They look and smell like real candles.

If you do burn candles, make sure that you…

  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

URL: http://www.nfpa.org/itemDetail.asp?categoryID=1710&itemID=41182&URL=Safety%20Information/For%20consumers/Causes/Candles/Candle%20safety%20tips

Be Ready! September is National Preparedness Month

Be Ready! September is National Preparedness Month

Families should be prepared for all types of emergencies; this includes a fire, winter storm, tornado, hurricane, etc. Developing a national disaster plan is extremely important for every family to have. Having an emergency kit for the home and car is a great way to get started.

  • Discuss where to meet  if a disaster happens (be prepared to lose cell service)
  • An emergency kit prepared for the home and car

If you are at work, will your au pair be prepared? Take some time this month to discuss what you would like her to do in the event of an emergency. To find more detailed information provided by FEMA click here! We will be discussing fire safety and prevention at our cluster meeting this month.

Your emergency kit could include:

  • Identification for all family members (Social Security card, passport, license, etc.)
  • First aid kit
  • Water
  • Food
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Local Maps
  • Manual can opener
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Cell phone with chargers for car and basic outlet
  • Dust mask

Supplies for your vehicle or the Au pair car  could include:

  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods such as granola bars.
  • Seasonal supplies: Winter – blanket, hat, mittens, shovel, sand, tire chains, windshield scraper, florescent distress flag; summer – sunscreen lotion (SPF 15 or greater), shade item (umbrella, wide brimmed hat, etc.).
  • Flashlight, extra batteries, and maps.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • White distress flag.
  • Tire repair kit, booster/jumper cables, pump, and flares.

http://www.cdc.gov/features/beready/

Fast Ways to Stop Temper Tantrums, Tips for aupairs!

Toddlers are famous for tantrums, so when fits erupt, it’s wise to have some tried-and-true tricks to tame toddler tantrums.

http://www.whattoexpect.com

Yuk It Up

Method: See a toddler tantrum coming on? Quick, Mom, tame that tantrum with fun by doing something silly! Your darling won’t stand still for a diaper change? Put the (clean) diaper on your head. He refuses to drink his milk? Pick up a banana and make a phone call. He’s losing it for no apparent reason? Climb under the table with a book. Whoever heard of Mommy reading under the table?

Why it works: Laughter releases all sorts of feel-good chemicals in the brain and stifles the stress-causing ones. The best thing about getting a toddler to giggle is that it’s not all that hard. Tots find the unexpected especially funny, so doing something outside the usual routine will more often than not distract yours long enough to diffuse his tantrum.

Shhh…

Method: Your toddler is screaming at the top of his lungs. Instead of trying to out-yell him, start whispering. (Tip: This will work only if he’s looking at you.)

Why it works: As soon as your toddler realizes you’re talking, he’ll probably quiet down to try to figure out why you’re using your library voice. Just make sure to be saying something soothing: “As soon as you calm down, Mommy will help you find the missing puzzle piece,” or “I’m sorry you’re so mad. Why don’t we go for a walk?” Don’t rely on this trick too often though. Your child will eventually be on to your wily, whispery ways.

Give Him the Cold Shoulder

Method: The next time you’re face-to-face with a toddler tantrum, try ignoring the frantic antics and carry on with what you’re doing — you can even hum or sing loudly so he really gets the message. As long as he isn’t doing anything that could be harmful to his surroundings (throwing toys) or himself (running toward the street), this can be a highly effective way to stop temper tantrums.

Why it works: Much of the drama may be a bit of an act. Yes, your toddler is legitimately frustrated, but at the same time, he also knows that when he cries or fusses he’ll be tended to: So he may use that knowledge as an attention-getting device. By now you know your child like the back of your hand, so don’t ignore him if he’s feeling especially sensitive or is going through a stressful time (his new baby sib is taking up most of your attention).

Go on Autopilot

Method: It’s T-minus ten ’til dinnertime, but your toddler has his eye on the cookie jar. When you say no, he pitches a fit. Your response should be to repeat the rule, over, and over, and over: “We don’t eat cookies before dinner. We don’t eat cookies before dinner.”

Why it works: Basically, saying the same words over and over will bore the tantrum out of him. The trick is to be as consistent (don’t change any of the words) and as calm as possible. Keep your voice even and your face neutral. He’ll understand that you mean business, and see that he can’t get a rise — or a cookie — out of you before dinner.

Get Your Game On

Method: As soon as you see that temper start to rise, try to engage your wee whiner in a toddler game. That doesn’t have to mean dragging out Candy Land, but rather distracting him with a simple activity like I Spy, which works great in places like the DMV, airport, or any other place where waiting is involved.

Why it works: Playing a game works on two levels. First of all, it’s a fun distraction. Whatever is bugging your babe will likely take a backseat to the chance to have some fun with Mommy. Which is the second point: Often a tantrum is as much a cry for attention as it is a response to being frustrated or bored or angry or tired. Just be warned — timing is everything: This method works best to put the brake on a toddler tantrum if you use it just as your cutie starts to lose composure. If you wait until he’s having a full-blown screaming fit, it’ll be too tough to calm him down to play.

Hold On

Method: Pick him up and hug him firmly but gently.

Why it works: When a tantrum morphs from a minor meltdown to a full-blown screaming fit, no amount of silliness or reasoning or even non-reaction on your part is going to do the trick. If he’s that upset, he won’t be able to see you or hear you, so relying on the power of your touch can be soothing, especially since losing control can be scary for a little kid. That’s why being wrapped in your loving arms can calm down a crazed critter. (Sometimes a little hug therapy is the best way of all to tame a toddler tantrum — it’ll melt any anger or frustration you have, too.)