Yearly Archives: 2016

A traditional American Holiday

Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789.  The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend family time together.  Here are some fun facts about this special holiday:

·         The first Thanksgiving was held in the autumn of 1621 and included 50 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag Indians and lasted three days.

·         The first Thanksgiving was eaten with spoons and knives — but no forks! Forks weren’t even introduced to the Pilgrims until 10 years later and weren’t a popular utensil until the 18th century

·         Thanksgiving is the reason for TV dinners! In 1953, Swanson had so much extra turkey (260 tons) that a salesman told them they should package it onto aluminum trays with other sides like sweet potatoes — and the first TV dinner was invented

·         Presidential pardon of a turkey: Each year, the president pardons a turkey and spares it from being eaten for Thanksgiving dinner. The first turkey pardon ceremony started with President Truman in 1947. President Obama pardoned a 45-pound turkey named Courage, who has flown to Disneyland and served as Grand Marshal of the park’s Thanksgiving Day parade!

·         Why is Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November? President Abe Lincoln said Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday in November, but in 1939 President Roosevelt moved it up a week hoping it would help the shopping season during the Depression era. It never caught on and it was changed back two years later

·         How did the tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving start? The NFL started the Thanksgiving Classic games in 1920 and since then the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have hosted games on Turkey Day. In 2006, a third game was added with different teams hosting

·         About 90 % of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving Day

·         The ‘wishbone’ of the turkey is used in a good luck ritual on Thanksgiving Day.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 Image result for happy thanksgiving clip art

History of Voting In America

A Barnesville, Maryland man enters a voting booth at the community hall in November 1944 to vote using a recently installed voting machine. If you think about the history of voting in America, you may picture the Civil Rights era, the women’s suffrage movement, and the Constitutional amendments that grant people’s right to vote. But the story is not just about laws and protests.

How Technology Has Changed Voting and Elections

The methods used to vote and to count ballots have changed over the years. From the wooden ballot box, to the curtained-off voting machine, to the modern touch-screen, advances in technology have played a big role in voting. And since states run elections, procedures vary from place to place.

You can learn how voting methods have changed in the U.S. in Vote: The Machinery of Democracy, an online interactive exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.

Americans’ Voting Habits

Demographics play a huge part in how America votes. The U.S. Census Bureau collects and releases information on who votes in Congressional and Presidential elections.


2016 APIA Scavenger Hunt DC

Freedom Plaza in Washington DC was the meeting place for this year’s Au Pair In America Scavenger Hunt. Over 200 au pairs for the local clusters participated and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in Washington DC. They even run into 2 unexpected guests. See if you can spot them in the pictures;-)



Celebrating Labor Day

What is Labor Day and when is it celebrated?


Labor day


The Workman’s Holiday ~ Dedicated in honor of the worker, Labor Day is also known as the “workingman’s holiday”. The holiday is dedicated to all workers in the United States in respect and appreciation for the work they do in or outside of the home, union or non-union, big companies and small companies and au pairs too. As long as you work somewhere at something, this holiday is for you! It is a day to celebrate your contribution to American working life and the work you do.

The First Labor Day ~ The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on September 5, 1882 and was started by the Central Labor Union in New York City. In 1884, it was moved to the first Monday in September where it is celebrated today. Labor Day quickly became popular and one state after another voted it as a holiday. On June 28, 1894, the U.S. congress voted it a national holiday.

The End of Summer ~ Labor Day is also viewed as the official end of summer. While the Fall Equinox is still a couple of weeks away, kids go back to school and summer vacations are over. This day is celebrated with a long weekend off from work and union sponsored parades. Many people celebrate this weekend with one last picnic. It is also the date that many people close up the swimming pool, and put away the boats.

Was it McGuire or Maguire? Either Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire is the Creator of Labor Day. Peter J. McGuire, was an active labor organizer. He was also general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. He was believed to be the first to suggest a day be dedicated to American workers and their accomplishments. Matthew Maguire however, was secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York in 1882 and many believed that he proposed the holiday in 1882.

So What do Americans eat on Labor Day? Picnics and barbecues are popular ways  to celebrate Labor Day.  Old standards are hamburgers, corn dogs, coleslaw, potato salad  corn on the cob, baked beans and sliced tomatoes. Finish up with sliced watermelon, apple or blueberry  pie and freshly churned ice cream.  Sound good?  Want to try a recipe?


What can you do with the kids on Labor Day?  Schools are usually closed on labor day so the children are home for the day.  Generally Americans love long weekends and it is an extra special time for families to be together.  Join in and be part of the family activities.  Enjoy your first Labor Day Weekend in the United States.  If you recently arrived this is a great weekend to bond with the kids and get to know them.  Go for a bike ride, play in the back yard, go to the park or enjoy the beach and the pool before the fall weather arrives.  For indoor quiet activities try these:


Click here for Labor Day coloring pages:


Click here for Labor Day short stories for children:




Outdoor play is important for children – to move their large muscles, enjoy the fresh air and explore nature. It is important to use sunscreen to protect from the sun’s harmful rays, and it is also important to be aware of possible disease-bearing insects.

Mosquitoes and ticks are a problem that can’t be ignored. Not only are they unpleasant, but they have been found to carry potentially fatal illnesses, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, West Nile virus, malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever and equine encephalitis, all of which have been reported in the United States. Prevention of bites is very important both through physical barriers to contact (clothing) and through the use of chemical repellents.

There is a need for using caution when applying insect repellents containing DEET to the skin of young children. Look for products that have about 30% DEET. Products with lower concentrations (10% to 15%) can be used for children if families are concerned about the potential risks of DEET.

The EPA and others have made the following recommendations regarding the use of DEET in children:

  • Do not apply to infants under 2 months of age
  • Read and follow all directions and precautions on the product label.
  • Do not apply over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to young children’s hands or near eyes or mouth.
  • Do not allow young children to apply products themselves.
  • Use just enough to cover the exposed skin and/or clothing.
  • Do not use under clothing.
  • Avoid over application.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
  • Wash treated clothing before wearing again.
  • Do not use spray solutions in enclosed areas or near food.
  • For use on face, apply to adult hands and then rub on face. Do not spray face. Avoid areas around eyes and mouth.

There is no evidence that non-DEET repellents are as effective as those containing DEET. In fact, some alternatives may be more toxic. Yet using DEET repellents on the skin isn’t the only way to avoid mosquito and tick bites.

Since mosquitoes can bite through very thin fabric, applying DEET-containing substances to clothing offers added protection with less potential for exposure.

Finally, long sleeves with cuffs and long pants with tight cuffs or tucked into socks or shoes are excellent barriers to ticks.

This information is adapted from the website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. See full information at

Here are some additional tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (visit their website at

Avoid tick habitats: Whenever possible, avoid entering areas that are likely to be infested with ticks, particularly in spring and summer when nymphal ticks feed. Ticks favor a moist, shaded environment, especially areas with leaf litter and low-lying vegetation in wooded, brushy or overgrown grassy habitat.

Perform a tick check and remove attached ticks: The transmission of B. burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) from an infected tick is unlikely to occur before 36 hours of tick attachment. For this reason, daily checks for ticks and promptly removing any attached tick that you find will help prevent infection. Embedded ticks should be removed using fine-tipped tweezers. DO NOT use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products. Grasp the tick firmly and as closely to the skin as possible. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin. The tick’s mouthparts may remain in the skin, but do not be alarmed. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are contained in the tick’s midgut or salivary glands. Cleanse the area with an antiseptic.



Helmets Are a Must

  • Every skater should wear a helmet. Wrist guards, knee pads and elbow pads are a good idea for everyone, but especially for beginners. Mouth guards are good protection against broken teeth.

Find the Right Helmet Fit

  • Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends kids take the Helmet Fit Test:
    • EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
    • EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
    • MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.

    Skate Smart

    • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children under 5 should never ride a skateboard. This might seem overly protective, but a child’s balance and judgment have not fully developed yet, which means a high risk for a serious injury.
    • Buy skates that truly fit in order to make learning easier and safer for your child.
    • Limit skating to bike paths or areas set aside in public parks. Children should ride on smooth, dry surfaces located in a well-lit area away from traffic. Streets should be off-limits, as most in-line skating fatalities involve collisions with motor vehicles.
    • Teach children to minimize the impact of a fall by crouching down as they lose balance to reduce the distance to the surface.

    Check the Gear

    • Teach kids to check skates and boards for problems before each use. If there are any cracked, loose or broken parts, the item should not be used until it is repaired.
    • Different skates and different boards do different things, so make sure kids have the right gear for their activity.

    This information is provided by SAFEKIDS.ORG


  • If you must leave the baby alone for a few moments, be sure she is safely in a crib or play pen.
  • Check condition and sturdiness of toys. Discard any with sharp edges or that are broken or falling apart.
  • Check clothing for loose buttons and remove strings.
  • Is baby’s pacifier still in good condition? Be sure it isn’t coming apart. Never use strings to attach the pacifier to baby’s clothes or crib.
  • Where do you set baby’s carrier when she’s in it? Not on the counter or any high surface, please. Babies can wiggle and tip themselves over.
  • Stroller check. If your stroller is collapsible, be sure latches are secure before putting baby in. Always check that your child’s arms are out of the way when reversing handle directions so they won’t get pinched. Be sure to use that safety strap. Don’t hang overloaded or heavy bags on the handle of the stroller, as this may cause it to tip over.
  • Can you name the 12 most common choking foods for kids under five? Popcorn, hot dogs, chunks of meat, raisins, ice cubes, chunky peanut butter, peanuts (nuts of any kind), hard candy, grapes, raw carrots, potato chips and corn chips.
  • Don’t leave toddlers alone while eating; if they begin to choke, you need to be nearby to assist.
  • Never leave a child unattended in the bathtub. If the phone rings, let the machine get it, or bring a cordless phone into the bathroom with you. Wait until baby can sit alone to give baths in the tub. It’s easier in the sink until then.
  • Enroll in an infant/child CPR and first aid class. This will be a valuable investment of your time, and Au Pair in America will pay for it.


You observe and/or hear lightning and thunder, or a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is in effect. What should you do?

At Home

If you are at home, protect yourself and your family by following the safety tips below:

  • Follow weather reports. Make sure a battery-powered radio is nearby.
  • Do not turn on the television. Listen to a battery-powered radio for the most current information.
  • Lightning can cause power surges. Unplug all appliances before the storm hits.
  • Avoid using the phone. Telephone lines can conduct electricity.
  • Metal pipes also conduct electricity. Stay away from faucets, sinks, and bathtubs.
  • Close the blinds and shades of your window, then keep away from them.
  • Keep pets on a leash or in a carrier.

Away From Home

There are times when storms come up suddenly.
If you are away from home, protect yourself and your family by taking cover in the best shelter you can find. If you are in or near the water, go to land immediately and find shelter.

  • If choosing between a building or a car, choose the building.
  • If choosing between a hard-top and a convertible, choose the hard-top.
    If you’re in a car, keep the windows closed.
  • If there is no shelter, find a low-lying, open place that is a safe distance from trees, poles, or metal objects that can conduct electricity. Make sure it is not likely to flood.
  • Assume a tucked position: Squat low to the ground. Place your hands on your knees with your head tucked between them. Try to touch as little of your body to the ground as possible.
  • Do not lie flat on the ground, as your fully-extended body will provide a larger surface to conduct electricity. Stay in a tuck position well after the storm passes.
  • Watch for local flooding; you may have to move if water begins to accumulate.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end in a storm, drop into the tuck position immediately. This sensation means electric charges are already rushing up your body from the ground toward an electrically charged cloud. Minimize your contact with the ground to minimize your injury.

Information from