Monthly Archives: April 2013

It is National Parks Week!

From the White House blog:

Saturday, April 20th was the first day of National Park Week – an annual tradition celebrating, enjoying and giving back to our country’s great natural and cultural landscapes. For the next five days, parks across the country will waive their entrance fees to provide free access to thousands of miles of trails and coastlines, as well as battlefields, archeological sites and waterways. With spring now in full swing, National Park Week is a great opportunity to dust off your bicycle or sneakers, grab some healthy snacks and a water bottle and get moving outside.

You don’t have to be an outdoor expert or live near an iconic park to enjoy the broad network of national parks across the country. Some of the most treasured and well-used parks are located in and around America’s major cities, including San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, San Antonio, Baltimore – and right here in Washington, D.C.

If you don’t have a national park in your city or town, chances are the National Park Service has played a role in increasing access to outdoor recreational opportunities in your community. Through the Land & Water Conservation Fund, the National Park Service has funded recreational facilities, such as playgrounds and trails, in 99 percent of counties across America.

Take advantage of mild temperatures and loads of free activities and plan a national park experience with your family this week.

If you are interested in:

  • Recreation – Find a national park near you and pick your adventure – hit the trails with your family and seek out free, ranger-guided tours and activities.
  • Service – Roll up your sleeves and give back on Volunteer Day, April 27.
  • Education – Encourage your kids to explore and learn about their natural and cultural heritage. Throughout the week, many parks will offer free programming for National Junior Ranger Day. In certain parks, the Let’s Move Outside! Junior Ranger program boosts activity levels and promotes healthy lifestyles.
  • History & Culture – National Park Week provides an opportunity to appreciate the landmarks, monuments and historical landscapes that define our national identity. Take this chance to discover the sites in your city or state.

Check out the National Park Week event calendar and plan your visit today.

Tips to Feeling Happy

  1. Get Dressed Up! “When you look good, you feel good,” is actually true. If you wake up feeling kind of down for no particular reason, putting on your favorite outfit can help you walk out the door feeling a lot more confident. You will get lots of compliments, too!
  2. Stretch and Breathe! Anytime you want to calm your nerves and get a boost of endorphins, all you have to do is take a moment to stretch and breathe deeply for at least five minutes. You will feel calmer, centered, and ready to take on the world. It definitely works!
  3. Make a Gratitude List! When you start feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and overcome with the feeling that your life is completely unfair, an easy way to regain perspective is to make a list of everything you’re grateful for now! The list can include basic freedoms, small luxuries, and of course, the people who matter most to you.
  4. Call Someone You Love! Chose the most supportive person you can think of. It could be your mom or a close friend. Know in advance who you can turn to who will lift your spirits!
  5. Get Some Sun! When sunlight hits your skin, it triggers the production of Vitamin D. Scientific studies have shown that a deficient amount of Vitamin D is directly related to a dip in mood for certain people. Put on some sunscreen and go outside, even on a winter day!
  6. Exercise! Take a walk, ride a bike, go to the gym. You’ve probably heard of “runner’s high,” caused by the mood-boosting endorphins (aka “feel good hormones”) your brain naturally releases when you exert yourself.
  7. Listen to Your Favorite Song! Having a go-to song that you listen to when you need a quick burst of energy is a great asset to your happy vault. Putting on your favorite song can trigger the brain to release large amounts of dopamine, a chemical that sends “feel good” signals to the rest of the body and plays a role in both motivation and addiction.
  8. Do Something for Someone Else! When you give of yourself to others you will feel the reward. Studies have reported more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more purposeful their lives felt.MOD Gratitude List 1


100 Things to Do with Your Kids on Long Island Before They Grow Up

LI Duck

Here’s our list of 100 things we love to do or want to do with our kids while they’re still young.There are, of course, at least 100 more great activities for kids on Long Island, but we had to cut it somewhere. Please feel free to share the activities you’d add to the list.  Post from

  1. Spend an entire carefree day at any of Long Island’s beautiful beaches with a cooler full of food, snacks, and drinks, with no watches or phones.
  2. Take the ferry to Fire Island.
  3. Check out a Long Island Ducks game.
  4. Take a ride on the LIRR into Penn Station.
  5. Visit the Big Duck in Riverhead.
  6. Spend a day at the races at Belmont Raceway.
  7. Indulge in some hot dogs at an Islanders game.
  8. Enjoy a concert at Jones Beach Theater.
  9. Take a trip back in time at Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
  10. Spend the day at Splish Splash Water Park.
  11. See the camels at the Animal Farm Petting Zoo in Manorville.
  12. Check out the penguins at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center.
  13. Go on a seal hike.
  14. Gaze at the stars at the Vanderbilt Planetarium.
  15. Grab a blanket and a picnic basket and enjoy an alfresco concert at Old Westbury Gardens.
  16. Lose yourselves in the Clark Botanic Garden.
  17. Attend the Shinnecock Pow Wow during Labor Day weekend.
  18. Enjoy an ice-cream cone on the Jones Beach Boardwalk.
  19. Make kid-sized bubbles at the Long Island Children’s Museum.
  20. Take surfing lessons (or just watch the surfers) in Long Beach.
  21. Scream as loud as you can on the roller coasters at Adventureland.
  22. Stuff yourselves at the all-you-can-eat buffet brunch while watching the planes take off from Republic at the 56th Fighter Group in Farmingdale.
  23. Go fishing in Captree.
  24. Go kayaking down the Nissequogue River.
  25. Take out a couple of paddleboats at Belmont Park.
  26. Go camping at Hither Hills State Park.
  27. Visit the Heckscher Museum of Art.
  28. Walk for a cause in the Long Island 2-Day Breast Cancer Walk.
  29. Have a backyard barbecue for your kids’ friends.
  30. Spend a weekend at Gurney’s.
  31. Go ice-skating at the Rink at RXR Plaza.
  32. Get a taste of history at Sagamore Hill.
  33. Play the day away at the Children’s Museum of the East End.
  34. Check out the Maritime Explorium.
  35. View one of the $15 “Not Just for Kids” offerings at the beautiful Staller Center.
  37. Go horseback riding in Hempstead Lake State Park.
  38. Explore Port Jefferson’s waterfront.
  39. Tour the Cradle of Aviation Museum.
  40. Build a snowman!
  41. Visit Walt Whitman’s birthplace.
  42. Climb a tree at Planting Fields Arboretum.
  43. After the kids have read The Great Gatsby, check out Gatsby’s Gold Coast on the North Shore.
  44. Tour Fire Island’s Sunken Forest.
  45. Sample the wares at a strawberry festival.
  46. Climb to the top of the Montauk Lighthouse.
  47. Visit the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum.
  48. Visit the Nassau County Museum of Art.
  49. Pet the animals at White Post Farm.
  50. Go pumpkin picking.
  51. Go apple picking.
  52. Tour Long Island’s Wine Country (it’s not just for grown-ups).
  53. Visit the Long Island Science Center.
  54. Visit the Nassau County Firefighter’s Museum.
  55. Check out the trains at the Railroad Museum of Long Island.
  56. Take a seal cruise from the Riverhead Foundation of Marine Research.
  57. Peruse the Shinnecock Nation Museum.
  58. Sing happy birthday to the trout at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery.
  59. Check out the nation’s oldest cattle ranch.
  60. Tour the Fire Island Lighthouse.
  61. Visit the Jericho Cider Mill—and don’t leave without some cider and a pie.
  62. Enjoy a show at the Gateway Playhouse.
  63. Take a whale-watching cruise from CRESLI.
  64. Go hiking in Caleb Smith State Park.
  65. Go cross-country skiing in Wildwood State Park.
  66. Enjoy a concert at the world-class Tilles Center.
  67. Visit the African-American Museum of Nassau.
  68. Enjoy a sundae or egg cream at the counter at Coyles Ice Cream shop.
  69. Have some finger-lickin’-good ribs at Smokin’ Al’s.
  70. Get lost among the shelves at the Book Revue.
  71. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Pancho Villa’s.
  72. Eat your way through the Long Island Fall Festival in Heckscher Park.
  73. Pitch a tent and go camping…in your backyard. (And don’t forget the s’mores!)
  74. Rake the fallen autumn leaves in your yard into neat little piles…and then dive in!
  75. In the middle of a snowstorm, go out and shovel the walkway together, adding in lots of breaks for snowball-throwing and angel-making (and enjoy some hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows when you’re done).
  76. Go for a bike ride in Belmont Park.
  77. Go on a scavenger hunt in your neighborhood.
  78. On a hot summer day, turn on the sprinkler to give your lawn a drink…then grab the kids and dance through the water like nobody’s watching!
  79. Watch the surfers in Montauk.
  80. Shake your groove thing to live music under the stars at Jones Beach.
  81. Celebrate Arbor Day at the Planting Fields Arboretum.
  82. Rent a house for a week (or a weekend) on Fire Island, and ride your bikes and haul your stuff in red wagons around the carless island.
  83. Take in the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach.
  84. Feed the ducks as you walk the trails at East Hampton’s Duck Pond on David’s Lane.
  85. Ride the antique carousel in Greenport’s Mitchell Park.
  86. Ride the Peconic County Miniature Railroad.
  87. Enjoy a unique theater-in-the-round entertainment experience at NYCB Theatre at Westbury.
  88. Ride the carousel at the LVIS Fair in East Hampton.
  89. Learn about Long Island’s rich whaling history at the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum.
  90. Marvel at the trucks at the Long Island Antique Power Association’s Annual Engine Run and Tractor Pull.
  91. Decorate seashells on Fire Island.
  92. Grab a cone at Big Olaf Ice Cream Shop in Sag Harbor, then take a walk down Long Wharf and admire the yachts.
  93. Decorate your house and yard for Halloween.
  94. Have a blast at the beach.
  95. Go strawberry picking at Harbes Family Farm.
  96. It snowed all night; school’s closed—grab a sled (or a cafeteria tray) and head to the nearest hill and go sledding.
  97. Foster a deeper appreciation of nature at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center.
  98. Ride the bumper boats at Bayville Adventure Park.
  99. Go minigolfing at Tiki Action Park.
  100. Drive around the Island checking out the holiday lights.

Global Awareness with Chinese Au Pair


Cindy Garruba, Suffolk County Community Counselor for Au Pair in America, awards Yujue a Global Awareness Certificate!

Yujue is an Au Pair with Au Pair in America in her 2nd year in America.  She is teaching her host children to speak Mandarin.  But these are not the only children she is teaching.  She has been an active volunteer in our Global Awareness program.  She has shared her culture and language in classrooms and children’s groups.  Check out Global Awareness from Au Pair in America by clicking here.

Former Au Pair Inspires Current Au Pairs

DSCN0786Today we had a great au pair cluster meeting and the current au pairs were really inspired by Patty Bak’s story.  While Patty was an au pair with Au Pair in America in 2009 and 2010, she never had a wasted moment.  She worked with a great host family whose oldest child was a teenage boy with autism. Patty loved her host family and they loved her.  While the kids were in school, Patty wanted to be productive. She volunteered at the local hospital, Southampton Fresh Air Camp and a local newspaper.  She also did the volunteering to learn more about what she wanted to do with her future.

Patty Bak participated in an Au Pair in America program, called Global Awareness.  She went into local classrooms and did age appropriate presentations on both of her home countries, she was born in Poland and then moved to Germany where she spent half her life.  Here is a link to that program:
DSCN0793Patty went home after spending 1 year and 6 months as an au pair, and then an additional travel month where she traveled all over the USA.  She got a Greyhound Bus pass for a month and went all over the USA.  Then she went home and worked. She taught pre-school, taught English to adults and worked at a local newspaper.  Again never a wasted moment.  After a year, she quit it all and decided to visit the friends she made as an au pair in their home countries.  She visited her best au pair friends in Thailand and New Zealand.
DSCN0797Through all these life experiences, she decided she really wanted to teach children and come back to the USA again for an extended period of time.  She found a program where she can be in the USA and teach for up to 3 years.  She has been teaching in a German immersion pre-school in Brooklyn, NY since September of 2012.
All the au pairs really enjoyed Patty’s story!  They asked lots of questions and are staying in contact with her.  The young women who become au pairs with Au Pair in America are from 60 countries all over the world.  They are bright, energetic women who are ready to experience a new culture and learn about the USA by living with an American family.  They are well educated and many go back to their home countries and earn advance degrees.  They use their English skills and cultural awareness in their new careers.DSCN0798

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

Feeling down after the passing of April Fools’? Fear not, my friends, for today is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. Hey, we’ve observed National Pancake Day, National Napping Day, and National Squirrel Appreciation Day — so why not?

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day: The History

No one’s quite sure where National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day began, though Welch’s claims the credit for a key ingredient within the PB&J sandwich itself (which, I might add, seems quite questionable). The jam-maker says it introduced concord grape jelly in 1923, two years before Skippy hit the market, and that planted the seed (so to speak) for the classic creation.

The actual sandwich supposedly first surfaced in the 40s during World War II, when PBJ became part of the military’s rations. (I guess no one had the thought to combine salty and sweet spreads prior to that point. Mmm hmm.)

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day: The Celebration

How do you celebrate the PB&J sandwich?  According to the folks at eHow, the best way to honor National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is — not surprisingly — to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Done and done. They have some tips for making the perfect version here, if you need any pointers.

Should you still be feeling the PBJ spirit, you might check out the web for some National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day e-cards. Yes, they actually make those.

From me to you, happy National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Enjoy the special day – only in America!!!