Monthly Archives: January 2013

Groundhog Day is February 2nd!

ground hogGroundhog Day is celebrated in the U.S. each year on February 2nd. On this day in mid-winter, the groundhog awakens from a long winter’s nap, and goes outside of his den to see if he sees his shadow. This tradition is big on an otherwise cold and dreary mid-winter’s day.

According to legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow (a sunny morning), there will be six more weeks of winter. He then returns to his den and goes back to sleep. If however, he does not see his shadow (cloudy days), he plays around outside of his hole for a while. If he does not see his shadow, spring is just around the corner.

The Groundhog’s Day tradition travelled long ways. It comes from German roots. German immigrants brought the tradition with them from Germany. As they settled in hills of Pennsylvania, they began the tradition of using the Groundhog to predict the the arrival of Spring. The tradition is based upon Candlemas, the day that is the midpoint between Winter and Spring. A famous Candlemas poems goes:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

ground hog day moviePunxsutawney, Pennsylvania is the site of the annual Ground Hog event. Our little rodent friend (yes, Groundhogs are classified as rodents) is called Punxsutawney Phil. There are a few other “predictors” around the country, but they all pale in comparison to Phil’s ability to predict the remainder of winter.

Watch the movie Groundhog Day, a fun romantic comedy that centers around the Punxsutawney event!  You can find the movie on Net Flix, at the library, and on demand.  Enjoy!

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day and the Inauguration of President Obama

“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, I Have a Dream Quote

Photo credit: Spin Cycle

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the “I Have A Dream” speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.  Shortly after he died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single “Happy Birthday” and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000.

president-barack-obama-fulfilling-the-dream1Martin Luther King Day is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Some educational establishments mark the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism. In recent years, federal legislation has encouraged Americans to give some of their time on this day as volunteers in citizen action groups.

Today we celebrate the inauguration of President Obama, the first African American President of the USA, for his second term as President.  This is the 57th inauguration of for President of the USA and President Obama is the 44th President.  Martin Luther King Jr. paved the way for President Obama and for all Americans.

Here are some fun activities to do with children on this holiday:

The Flu Season

fluYou can’t turn on the television news lately without hearing about the flu epidemic.  The seasonal flu has started early this year and is spreading quickly throughout the state.  Here’s some useful information from the Center for Disease Control about how you can protect yourself from the flu and how to treat yourself and your host children should you get sick.

An Ounce of Prevention

There are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people
  • Practice good health habits.  Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medicine.

Symptoms of the Flu

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms.  It can be difficult to tell the difference between them.  Your healthcare provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold.  Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu.

Flu symptoms include:

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Treating the Flu

You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:

  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated
  • Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever
  • Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier
  • Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat
  • Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills

Children are at higher risk for getting the flu because their immune systems are not fully developed.  If your host child gets sick, always ask your host parents before giving any medications to the children.  There are strict guidelines for dosages and they MUST be followed.  Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have the flu.  Giving aspirin to children with the flu can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s Syndrome.  Read ingredient labels on over-the-counter medications carefully to ensure they do not contain aspirin.

Au Pair in America Presentation – January 16 – Sachem Public Library 7 – 8:30 PM

Come and meet Cindy Garruba, Suffolk County Senior Community Counselor for Au Pair in America on Wednesday, January 16th.  Cindy will be available to talk with families at the FREE Childcare and Pre-School Showcase at the Sachem Public Library.

Families will learn about Au Pair in America and how the program can be the answer their childcare needs!  Au Pair in America is flexible, dependable, affordable childcare with an enriching cultural experience for families!

Cindy provides experienced support for her host families and au pairs having over 13 years of service as Senior Community Counselor in Suffolk County.

One lucky local family will win a  raffle for $1200 off the cost of an au pair for a year!Sachem Library event 003

Frigid Cold Warnings!

baby_its_cold_outsideWe are experiencing the coldest weather in 20 years!

Some tips to protect yourself:

  • Wear a hat, hood, or scarf, as most heat is lost through the head.
  • Wear layers, as they provide better insulation and warmth.
  • Keep fingertips, earlobes, and noses covered if you go outside.
  • Keep clothing dry; if a layer becomes wet, remove it.
  • Drinking alcohol can be dangerous: Alcohol does not make you warmer and drinking alcohol when outside in the cold weather is dangerous: It increases one’s risk for hypothermia and frostbite.

Au Pairs Visit Madison Square Garden to Watch Bull Riding!

bull rider with hat

Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR) is an international professional bull riding organization based in Pueblo, Colorado, USA. In the United States.  More than 800 cowboys from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico hold PBR memberships.

cowboy and apsOn Sunday, January 6th au pairs from the 4 Au Pair in America Long Island clusters experienced the PBR show at Madison Square Garden in NYC.  This was a chance for the au pairs to experience an American cultural experience not usually seen in NYC!   The riders were amazing, staying on one of these bulls for 8 seconds seems impossible.  Some were successful and many were not.  The packed crowd was enjoying the show, the riders, the bulls, the rodeo clown and the brave men who were in the rink with the bulls getting them back into the corrals!  Crazy and exciting!!

PBR openningThe PBR’s premier tour includes 31 events across the country every year. Pyrotechnics, pulsating music and special effects open each event, and each features the top 30 riders in the world at the time (plus 10 alternates). The season culminates inLas Vegas,egas, where the PBR World Finals are held.

DSCN0093Riders attempt to stay on a bucking bull for eight seconds, and rides are judged based on both the rider’s and the bull’s performance, with two judges scoring the rider and two scoring the bull. At the end of each event, the top 15 riders compete in the short round, or “short go”; the rider with the highest point total from the entire event becomes the winner.

bull rider with helmetCanada, Brazil, Australia, and Mexico each have their own PBR tours, and money earned on those tours counts towards the U.S. qualifier standings and a spot in the PBR World Finals.

Bulls' names in white, Cowboys in blue!

Bulls' names in white, Cowboys in blue!