Yearly Archives: 2015

Au Pair Holiday Party 2015!

This past Sunday, December 13th the Suffolk Cluster of Au Pair in America enjoyed a holiday party at Community Counselor, Cindy Garruba’s home.  There was an International Feast with dishes prepared by au pairs from all over the world.  20151213_154746_resized (1) 20151213_154650_resized 20151213_154757_resized 20151213_155554_resized 20151213_155547_resizedWe played a little game and the au pairs won some prizes.  A grab bag gift exchange and then Cindy played Santa and gave out gifts to each au pair!20151213_153124_resized20151213_163548_resized20151213_163553_resized20151213_163844_resized20151213_163751_resized20151213_163728_resized20151213_163755_resized20151213_163912_resized20151213_163855_resized


Au Pairs and Host Families Enjoy Stony Brook Holiday Festival

20151206_132540_resized (1)On Sunday, December 6th Au Pair in America Suffolk County Au Pairs and Host Families decorated a tree for the Promenade of Trees in Stony Brook Village.  It was a beautiful, warm day and everyone enjoyed the festivities.  20151206_132012_resized

20151206_132501_resizedCindy Garruba, Senior Community Counselor for APIA, had decorations for the kids to make.  We handed out coloring books to the kids waiting online to see Santa.  Santa arrived in a horse drawn carriage at 2 pm to listen to all the kids’ Christmas wishes.  There was a petting zoo, performers doing skits and singing songs.  100s of trees were decorated throughout the village and will be up through till the New Year.

Come down and check out Au Pair in America’s International Peace Tree just to the east of the Post Office right in front of the Stony Brook Gift Shop!20151206_140610_resized20151206_143526_HDR_resized20151206_143421_HDR_resized

Happy Hanukkah 2015!

Happy Hanukkah

Hanukkah 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

Directions to play the Dreidel game (Play for Hershey kisses, a great way to have fun with the kids):

A very Happy Hanukkah to all!


Thankful Host Families & Au Pairs

AP thanksgiving card 2015At Thanksgiving, we pause and express gratitude to others.  This year I want to thank all my au pairs and host families for the love and support they give each other every day.  I also thank each au pair for teaching me about their culture, showing me their bravery for coming from far away places and giving so much to your host families.  I appreciate that you keep me young and inspire me.  I give thanks for the warm, welcoming host families here on Long Island who open their homes and trust the care of their children to these young women.  Thank you to my fellow Community Counselors for your friendship, tips and counsel! Thank you, too, to all the staff of APIA for their support of all of us!   Cindy Garruba, Senior Community Counselor, Suffolk County Au Pair in America

Here are some quotes of gratitude from Suffolk County au pairs and host families for Thanksgiving 2015:

Au Pair: I’m thankful for my host family who’s doing everything for me. They gave me the chance to fly to my sister’s wedding. I’m thankful that they always when they leave the house say “thank you to me” and when they come back. I’m thankful for my little kids who give me so much love and happiness. I’m thankful for all of my friends and my family. They support me and give me a good feeling.

Host Mom: I’m thankful for our au pair because she loves my children and takes great care of them in my absence. Thankful for your support, too!

Au Pair: This year I’m thankful for the amazing experiences I had, for all the people I met, for all trips I had the opportunity to made, for America, for chosen Au Pair in America, because I know I never will be alone, I thankful for Cindy, my Community Counselor, more the one counselor, one friend, who gives time and attention, thankful for my family and friends, thankful for my life 🙂

Au Pair: This year I am thankful for all that I have learned in the US, changes, second chances to bright and be proud of what are made of, and show the best of you!.

Au Pair:  I am thankful for all the support that I got from Cindy and always being available to answer all my doubts. Also, I am very thankful with my host family for letting me continue with this experience for another year, for all the things that they taught me, for all the support that they gave me to continue with the school to improve my skills and for letting me be part of their family. Last but not least, I am very thankful to my family for encourage me to follow my dreams, for every word of encouragement and for all the love they give me. I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with my host family and some friends of them, it’s going to be an awesome day! Happy Thanksgiving! Lots of blessing!

Au Pair: This year I am thankful for the support I have from my family back at home and for my host family that make it feel like a never left 🙂

Au Pair: This year I’m thankful for all changes life gives me. I’m thankful for the people who gave me the opportunity starting a new adventure e.g. my family back home, my host family in the U.S., my agency and all the people behind Apia. Thank you Cindy and thank you Annika, my counselor in Germany :). I’m thankful for being at places I’ve ever wished for, knowing people from other nationalities and get to know the American culture! I am thankful that I have seen myself grown because of all the situation the life here gives me. I’m thankful that I learn a different language and can improve a language which is not my mother language (I’m working at it :D). I’m happy with my host family and thankful because they are treating me like a real family member and give me the chance to feel like home here. I’m so thankful for so much things the list will be endless! All in all I’m thankful that I be happy and healthy and for all the people who making me to this person! Thank you!

Host Mom: This year I am thankful to my au pair because she has been my right hand.  With three children under five and the new transition to a single mom role (and all of the stress divorce can bring) she has graciously been eager to help and truly is a member of our family. My children call her their big sister and she loves them as such, providing them additional comfort and stability during such a difficult time. I love her and feel very protective of her, like my own. It was very cute, I took the children to the bagel shop very early one morning to eat breakfast. My daughter made friends with the children sitting at the table behind us.  The mother commented to her, wow how lucky, you have two brothers and you’re the only girl.  She proudly answered, no I have a big sister (her au pair).  I didn’t correct her because she is right.  The visual thought of this woman actual meeting my 25 year old Thai daughter made me smile to think I was eight when my first daughter was born! Our au pair is truly a blessing.  She is very mature.  Today is her 25th birthday!

Au Pair: I am thankful for my family, my host family and for my best au pair friend.

Au Pair: I am thankful for getting the possibility to spend a year in America with a nice host family. For all the new experiences I made so far, and I’ll make and especially for my family and friends!!!

Host Mom: We are thankful for our Au Pair because she takes good care of our daughter and helps with the dog, too!

Au Pair: My amazing au pair year and all of my new friends that I met in the USA. I am thankful especially for having a great host family.

Host Mom: We are thankful for our au pair for so many reasons.  She is always there to lend a hand and help to keep the household together during the busy work week.  Whether it is helping with dinner, doing homework, shuffling the kids to activities or reading bedtime stories, she is there to assist us.   We are lucky to have a kind, caring and helpful au pair.

Au Pair: I am thankful for the wonderful experience this program gave to me. And how through it I can appreciate more everything I have in my life especially family and friends

Host Mom: This year I am thankful to my au pair because she is very organized, very helpful, makes the best jam & spätzle, is very sweet, is loved by my kids & the host dad and me!

Au Pair: I am thankful for my family, my host family, for all the little things I don’t appreciate every single day and for my best friend here in the USA.

New Host Mom: I am thankful for my au pair because I can already see my son and husband and I already have another trustworthy and loving family member to add to our clan.

Au Pair: This year I’m thankful for Au Pair in America agency and my host family! The agency help me a lot and bring me a chance to see the colorful world. And my host family give me an opportunity to go abroad! You all keep me warm as if I’m in my own home! You are nice and dynamic! Everything is going smoothly! Thank you very much!

Host Mom: I am thankful for our Au Pair.  She has a sweet and calm disposition which is especially helpful during this busy time of year.  She is a responsible and is a dedicated Au pair.  Last week I was ill and needed to go to the ER.  She is wonderful with my daughters and I knew I was leaving them in good hands.

Au Pair: I am thankful for my Host Family and friends who support me in every single way. I’m thankful for their love and their food!

Host Mom: This year I am thankful for my au pair because she is a warm and welcoming addition to our family who has brought love and fun to our home.

Au Pair:  I’m thankful for having the opportunity of living with a wonderful American family, meeting many new friends and also learning about the American culture. Im sure that this year will be the best of my life.













Au Pair in America Loves Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

On Sunday, November 22 Au Pair in America Au Pairs from Long Island and Westchester attended the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City.  Everyone loved it!  There are some changes to the show which made it even more fun this year.  This year we had 200 au pairs attend the performance.  Check out the show! 20151122_154636_resized

Good bye to Wonderful Au Pairs whose Year has Ended!

Au Pairs spend one or up to two years in the USA with host families.  They experience our culture, care for American children, study in USA colleges, visit places in our country and share their culture with us.  It is a rich, rewarding experience for all involved.  Here are some pictures of wonderful young women who have completed their time her in the USA.  Their Community Counselor, Cindy Garruba presents them with their education certificate and a good bye gift.  Some have also earned a Global Awareness certificate for teaching a lesson in their host child’s class about their country.

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Halloween Safety Tips


Ana carves pumpkin with her host kids!

  • Kids must trick or treat with an adult, HAVE FUN AND TRICK OR TREAT WITH YOUR HOST KIDS! (even if you are going to a party later!)
  • Stay in familiar neighborhoods
  • Walk, don’t run
  • Stay on sidewalks if possible
  • Obey traffic signals, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic
  • Don’t cut across yards or driveways
  • Only go to homes that have lights on, never go inside a house of a stranger
  • Carry a flashlight, wear reflective markings or tape
  • Make sure costumes do not drag on the floor and wear shoes that fit, even if they don’t match the costume
  • Good makeup job is better than a mask that might obstruct your vision
  • Carry only flexible knives, swords or other props
  • Stay away from pets you don’t know
  • Check the candy before eating, better yet let the parents decide what the kids can eat


Other ways to have Halloween Fun

  • Help the kids (and you) plan/make/buy your costumes
  • Decorate the house for Halloween
  • Read age appropriate Halloween stories with your host kids
  • Watch an age appropriate Halloween DVD with your host kids
  • Have a costume contest
  • Help hand out candy to the Trick or Treaters
  • Trick or Treat for a good cause, like UNICEF
  • Carve or paint pumpkins with your host family
  • Go to the kid’s school if they have a Halloween activity like a costume parade or party that family can attend
  • Go to a farm, pick pumpkins, walk through a corn maze, go to a haunted house (again that might be just fun with your au pair friends – sometimes too scary for kids
  • Enjoy Halloween with your host family and your friends!

Annual Au Pair in America NYC Scavenger Hunt

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12187781_10153727645478792_2729845981851021747_n (2)A wonderful day was spent in NYC with over 200 au pairs from Au Pair in America.  All of these au pairs live on Long Island, NYC, Westchester or Connecticut.  20 Community Counselors from APIA organized the event and met the au pairs on the steps of the main NYC library.    They had a list of 30 items to find!  1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th prize certificates and prizes  were awarded.  6 au pairs won raffles prizes for wearing their APIA t-shirt.  12189011_10153727645728792_7607194800356303659_n 11218832_10153727645678792_6310945794105244940_n 12189831_10153727645603792_2574296649554393804_n

This activity is a lot of fun for everyone involved.  The au pairs learn a lot about NYC and many return to take a closer look at the items on the list in future visits to NYC.  APIA Community Counselors arrange monthly meetings for their cluster of au pairs.  Some are educational meetings and some are cultural activities.  All these meetings foster friendships between au pairs and give them opportunities to learn more about the communities within in which they reside with host families.  12189804_10153727646258792_4257546030921812070_n 12036941_10153727646563792_2582712890206739769_n 12065593_10153727646328792_4761234739197617258_n 12036743_10153727645748792_3182877692232764886_n 11100221_10153727646363792_4336301946179518213_n12038321_10153727646078792_7547123047958997954_n12191084_10153727645963792_565970619114058956_n12043019_10153727645823792_2094321633353707192_n

Au Pair in America Scarecrow in Stony Brook Village


Klara and Melanie from Germany with Corrina from South Africa

Every October Stony Brook Village has a scarecrow contest.  Suffolk County Cluster of Au Pair in America entered our scarecrows.  An au pair with her 2 scarecrow host kids. Corrina Moore, Melanie Oppe, Kara Hofmann and Community Counselor, Cindy Garruba had fun setting up the au pairs, dressing them all in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Go down to Stony Brook Village and see them in front of Fair Winds, near the post office.  You can vote for our scarecrows!  Ballots in the local stores.20151006_133425_HDR_resized20151006_133548_HDR_resized



September is back to routine and school month.  Many au pairs from Au Pair in America arrive to their new host in the summer and their first chance to meet the local au pairs is at the September meeting.

20150927_140953_resizedWe start by doing some peace ornaments that will be displayed our Au Pair in America International Peace Tree in the Stony Brook Holiday Promenade of Trees.  Everyone gets a chance to be creative and chat with each other during the craft project.20150927_140932_resized20150927_150037_resized

Then we moved inside to have a lesson on back to school routine, playground safety, school bus stop safety, driving tips, baby safety month and more.  Everyone introduced themselves, talked about when they arrived in the USA, about the kids in the host family and what they hoped to see in the USA.  Friendships are very important among the au pairs and many new ones begin at cluster meetings.

We talked about upcoming Cluster activities like a Scavenger Hunt in NYC and seeing the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

Then some food and conversation, and a group picture!