Tag Archives: holiday season

Holiday Party with My Au Pairs


Suffolk County au pairs from Au Pair in America had an International Potluck Holiday Party at their counselors home this Sunday, Dec. 11.  Au Pairs prepared favorite dishes from their home countries to share with their friends.

20161211_144848_resized20161211_152825_resizedWe played a game drawing Christmas trees while plates were on our heads, 3 winners got to pick prizes! 

imagejpeg_0-4Community Counselor, Cindy  Garruba, handed out some gifts she prepared for each au pair.





Each au pair brought a wrapped gift for the gift exchange.  A game was played to the story of “A Night Before Christmas” to scramble up who got which gift. 20161211_155002_resized

15338704_1304817629581333_6980585745348250251_nDessert was served, lively conversation and holiday plans were shared.









Au Pairs learn Safety and Back to School Tips

20160918_152122_resizedOn Sunday, September 18th the Suffolk County Cluster of Au Pairs gathered for a fun and useful cluster meeting.  Each au pair painted a heart ornament for a holiday tree we will decorate in December.  The hearts represented their country or time in the USA.

The craft project gave each au pair a chance to be creative.  She also had time to socialize with other au pairs.  Many of the au pairs arrived during the summer months and this was their first meeting!20160918_134650_resized 20160918_135720_resized Beautiful ornaments will be added to the holiday tree20160918_135733_resized20160919_102112_resizedThen we had a few safety and back to school tips to review:

  • Playground safety
  • Minimizing morning madness
  • The backpack – communication between school and home
  • School bus stop safety
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving tips for all au pairs
  • September is Baby Safety Month and safety was reviewed

We also went over some upcoming great activities for au pairs this fall.  Then everyone enjoyed socializing while having some pumpkin pie and apple cider. 


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


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: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/454611/jewish/Chanukah-Recipes.htm

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 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):  http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/hanukkah/dreidel-game.html

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.













Thankful Au Pairs & Host Families 2014


Host Family says: We are extremely thankful for our wonderful au pair. We feel truly blessed to have gotten someone as wonderful as her for this important year as we are welcoming our 4th child in the spring.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Au Pair says: What I’m thankful for is that I got a second chance, that I can spend my year in a family where I feel comfortable and home in, that my host family respects me and helps me to feel home and I’m thankful that I get the chance to live a different life.

Au Pair says: I am thankful for being able to fulfill my dream of living abroad in a country that is as crazy as wonderful with all its characteristics. I also am thankful for meeting so many new and different people from all around the world, who are all in the same situation and who are all feeling the same feelings. Moreover I am thankful for feeling home and welcome by my host family and my Community Counselor, Cindy, so that I don’t even think about feeling homesick.

Host Family says: We are thankful for our au pair because she is so good with our girls. She is sweet, considerate, patient, understanding and helpful.  She has excellent communication skills and really enjoy sharing our lives with her.

Au Pair says: I am thankful for my au pair life in New York that made me had a good experience and a good time with everyone I saw. Thank you very much for my host family who I am stay with and made me good memories with them. Happy thanksgiving to you, too Cindy!

Host Family says: I am very thankful for our au pair because she is so determined (and not giving up) to make my wild children into polite, thoughtful, neat, respectful little human beings.  And also for being so supportive to her host mom.Au Pair says: I’m thankful for being part of a beautiful American Family, that supports me and include me as I am part of them. I’m thankful for the kids that I have, because they color my gray days

Host Family says: We are excited that our au pair will be able to spend Thanksgiving with us, and we are so thankful that she’s part of our family and that she loves our son so much. I know she had a great time at the Rockettes this weekend. Thank you so much for organizing that!

Au Pair says: I am thankful for this awesome experience and how much I’ve grown in the past 6 months. I’m very thankful to my host family for making me very comfortable and I’m thankful that I get to hang out with 2 awesome little boys all the time! Happy thanksgiving to you, too Cindy!!

Au Pair says: I can tell you that I am thankful for the au pair program, my host family, and you. Without all of this I wouldn’t be able to realize how much I am thankful for my family, friends and my culture. I appreciate you card and letter, and I’m excited for our December meeting.

Host Family says: We love our au pair and we are thankful to have such a hardworking Au pair that blends right into our family! I’m praying she stays for 2 years!!  To be completely at ease while my husband and I work and to know everything is taken care of and my children are loved, is such a blessing!  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Au Pair says: Being an au pair has made me thankful for my great host family, that shows me that it’s possible to feel at home away from home” 🙂 I am grateful for this new experience and that all my loved ones are healthy. I think our health is one of the most important things in the world, just as Family and friends. I’m thankful that I am part of this host family and I am thankful for all the support from my family and friends at home in Germany and of course for all the new friends I met here on long Island:) and that I am in such a great cluster like this 🙂

Host Family says: This year we are thankful for everything we have including a home (with heat and food on the table), jobs (to pay for it all), our health (in spite of the aching backs) , our family (they are all healthy and reasonably happy), and an Au pair to share in the chaos that makes up what we are thankful for.

Au Pair says: I am thankful for being an au pair in such a great family. I’m so glad that I can have the experience being an au pair in this family. They are so kind and nice, they treat me like a family member and I can talk about everything with them and we laugh so much together and I am very thankful for that. Of course I’m very thankful for my family in Germany and I appreciate them so much more since I’m here. Long story short, I’m thankful for everything in my life!

Au Pair says:  I´m very, very thankful that my friends and family supported me and my plans to travel to the USA. I´m also very thankful that I found such a nice family, who offers me that much and that they give me the opportunity to stay here and let me be a part of their family for a year! This is such a great family!

Host Family says: All is well with us. I am thankful for our au pair because she is a part of our family and she loves our children. I already know that it will be incredibly difficult when she leaves to go home but my children will have a collection forever.

Au Pair says: This year I am thankful for so many things!!!!! I’m very thankful that I found such a great host family, I came to such a nice area and met so many nice and awesome people!! I’m thankful for everything I have, thankful for all the happiness and progress in my life 🙂

Host family says: We are thankful for our au pair’s good care of our daughter. Thank you

Au Pair says: I’m thankful for my host family because she gave me the feeling that I’m at home! My host parents help me and I can ask all the question I have. I’m also thankful for my family and my friends at home. They stand behind me and give me a lot of motivation and power!

Au Pair says: This year I am thankful for my kind and generous host family who shares their home with me and gives their best to be my new family and welcome me in their culture. I am also thankful for having such a nice community counselor who welcomed me when I didn’t know anybody and luckily was sympathetic from the very beginning so that I know that somebody “has my back” if I have a problem 🙂 I’m thankful for my family at home who misses me and thinks of me and, of course, for my friends at home who try to keep in touch as often as possible although it sometimes takes some time until I can answer. They make me feel like I never left home and I don’t miss anything while being here. But also, I am thankful for the new friends I found here who helped me exploring my new home and are a part of helping me feel not to be alone 🙂 I am very, very thankful that all my loved ones (and I) are healthy and happy and that my grandmother deals well with the death of my grandfather this summer. I am thankful that I could attend his funeral and see him a last time when he was very conscious and himself.

Au Pair say:  I am thankful that I could graduate this year with a satisfying result hand the support of my friends and family. I am so thankful that so many people believe in me, not only my friends and family but also the parents of the children I babysat for or tutored who always encouraged me to follow my dreams, as also my parents’ friends or people I actually barely know.  At last but not least I would like to express my thanks for my long gone great grandmother who made this year possible by inheriting me money for my future and always inspired me when I was little. And of course thank you APIA for helping me find a welcoming host family 🙂  Thank you Cindy for making me write this I would have never done it on my own but it was really nice to think about all the good thinks that are happening and to reconsider the developments in my life 🙂

Host Family says: We are so thankful we found our first au pair who so perfectly fits in with our family! We find the help from her wonderful and her contributions to our house are great. We are thankful for the memories she’s giving the children with our au pair experience!

Au Pair says: This year I am thankful for the opportunity to live the experience of being an Au Pair. I am thankful for sharing with a wonderful host family. I am Thankful for what I learn from them and from my hosts little girls. It has been the best experience of my life. Thanks therefore. Only once in life!!! Happy Thanksgiving!

Au Pair says: In this year I am so grateful with my new host family because they care about me, they trust in me and they love me as a part of their family and no just like an Au Pair. I am so grateful because I could visit so many places through this experience like Washington D.C, Miami, Los Angeles, Vancouver Canada, San Francisco, Seattle and NY. Being and Au pair is one of the best experience in my life because I enjoy taking care of kids and meeting new people around the world. I am so grateful to have 2 great women as a Counselor who always care about me in this experience out of my country because it was not easy at the beginning.

Au Pair says: This year I am thankful for my wonderful host family and their support and understanding in every situation. I am really happy to be part of this family. And I am glad that I already made lots of friends who I can talk about everything and have a very good time together. Also I want to say thank you to you Cindy. I really enjoy the APIA meetings and activities. It’s always fun. You are doing a great job. Happy Thanksgiving

Host Family says: We are thankful for our Au Pair from Germany who takes such good care of our daughter and dog too! We are happy to have her as our Au Pair!

Host Family says: I’m thankful for the health of my family and that our au pair cares so deeply for the children.

Au Pair says:  I AM THANKFUL FOR… the great Lord for giving me this fantastic opportunity to be an Au pair. My parents for being the awesome parents that they are, for being supportive, open minded and understanding me. My amazing host family. For au pair in America and all they have done for me. For my good health. My Family and friends that love and care for me. I’m thankful for all I have and everything I’m yet to receive and I am thankful and grateful for this wonderful life I have.

Host Family says: This year I am thankful for our au pair joining our family so seamlessly, so respectfully, and above all so lovingly. I am also thankful to be part of such an incredible family – inside and out.  There is so much to be said about being a mom, and for that, too, I am grateful!

Host Family says: This year we are thankful for the health of our family and the love and support we have around us.  We are grateful for our au pair’s calm approach to handling the kids and the love she has for them and them for her.

Host Family says: We are thankful for our au pair being so kind and patient in teaching the girls both Mandarin and emphasizing good social skills too. She’s a terrific addition to our family and greets every day with great humor and joyfulness!! Simply a delight to have our au pair be part of our household.

Last Pumpkin Picking before HALLOWEEN!

Halloween is Friday, October 31st!  This is the last weekend to pick your own pumpkin at a local Suffolk County Farm.  Check out this link for a great selection of farms to visit: pumpkin farms

stolen pumpkins

Au Pair in America Holiday Tree

DSCN0407On Sunday, December 8th the Suffolk Cluster of Au Pair in America gathered to decorate a holiday tree for Stony Brook Village’s Promenade of Trees.  Host families, au pairs and Community Counselor, Cindy Garruba decorated a beautiful tree with handmade ornaments. Over several years au pairs have made these ornaments at one of the cluster meetings at Cindy’s house.  This year the au pairs painted peace signs celebrating their home countries.  It is a truly International Holiday Tree!DSCN0416

DSCN0422There was a petting zoo, puppet show, carol singers and lots of fun while the crowd waited for Santa Claus to arrive.

Santa arrived in a horse drawn carriage!  Then the kids lined up and waited to tell Santa their holiday wishes.

Santa in SB


Meet Au Pair in America at Stony Brook Holiday Festival!

On Sunday, December 8th at 1:30 meet Cindy Garruba, Suffolk County Au Pair in America Community Counselor in Stony Brook Village at the Holiday Festival.  Visit with au pairs and host families, enjoy the festivities and learn about how Au Pair in America can serve your childcare needs!


Happy Thanksgivukkah!

untitled (5)Hanukkah begins at sundown this evening, which means Thankgiving and Hanukkah are celebrated together this year.  A new term Thanksgivukkah is being used to honor both holidays!
The next time Thanksgivukkah will be celebrated is in 79,043 years from now, according to one estimate. Another suggests Thanksgivukkah will take place in 2070 and 2165.

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!