February 1, 2012

February 2012 Newsletter

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saint Valentine's Day, commonly called Valentine's Day, is celebrated on February 14. It is traditionally a holiday on which lovers express their feelings for each other by giving flowers or candy, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). However, now we tend to give cards and gifts to anyone who is special to us: friends, parents and family members - as well as lovers! As you've likely discovered, Americans love holidays and Valentine's Day has gotten much more popular over the years. So enjoy the day by baking heart shaped cookies or perhaps making hand-made cards. Older children will also enjoy these activities, and their parents will appreciate that their au pair has helped their child do something special!

Education Verification

As you know, the education requirement is a key component of the au pair program. The Department of State requires that all au pairs attend school for 60 hours, or earn 6 units of credit (30 hours for a 6 month extension). AuPairCare is required to verify that each au pair in the program has completed this requirement. In order to comply with this, each au pair must have the "Coursework Completion" documents filled out and signed by the instructor. Printed attendance records will no longer be acceptable. And don't forget that the document has two pages: Page 1 must be signed by the au pair and Area Director. Page 2 must be signed by the teacher. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping AuPairCare compliant with the Department of State regulations!

This Month's Au Pair Activity

We're going to have a mall scavenger hunt! We'll have a list of "items" to find and certain amount of time to "find" them all. I have "items" in quotes because not all of them are "things" - some of the items on the list are "take a picture of such-and-such". We'll meet at Parkway Place Mall (just off Memorial Parkway) at 2pm on Sunday, Feb. 12. We'll be doing a lot of walking, so keep that in mind when choosing your footwear. Don't forget your camera!

Save These Dates

March - Sunday 3/11, details to be determined. AuPairCare has asked Area Directors to follow a particular theme and the details have not yet been worked out.

April - Saturday, 4/21: Harmony Park Safari
Note: dates are subject to change if there's something fun we'd like to do that doesn't correspond with the dates I've chosen. Just let me know what you want to do!

Au Pair Birthdays

There are no Au Pair birthdays this month.

Arrivals/Departures

There are no Au Pair arrivals or departures this month.

January 1, 2012

January 2012 Newsletter

Welcome to 2012!

The holidays were great! Thanks to everyone who came to the party last month. Now it's time to say Happy New Year!

In the United States, many people will make a "New Year's Resolution", resolving to make a change that will improve their lives in the coming year. What are the traditions in your home country for New Year's Day?

As we head into a new year, it's a good time to reflect on your role as an au pair. Being an au pair is a special time with many exciting experiences. But don't forget that the focus of the program is childcare. Families who have au pairs appreciate the great care their children receive. If you know a family that might like to host an au pair, please send me their name and contact information. If they apply to the program, you will receive a $400 bonus when their au pair arrives!

It's Not Too Late to Register for Classes!

Au pairs who have not already completed the education requirement should register for classes that start in January. Classes fill up quickly, but there may still be space available at the community colleges and adult schools.

Don't forget that only courses taken at accredited schools will satisfy the requirement. For a list of approved schools in the area, go to www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx Enter the name of the city and select the state. Courses taken at schools listed on this search page are acceptable for au pairs to attend.

January Au Pair Activity

Plan to join us for an afternoon of ice skating! We will meet on Sunday, January 8th at the Benton H. Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex at 2pm. Admission is $7.00 and skate rental is $3.00. Bring a couple quarters to rent a locker for any valuables you don't want to leave in the lobby. Remember that the ice is chilly, so wear gloves and maybe even a scarf and hat!

Save These Dates

February - Sunday 2/12 for a mall scavenger hunt

March - Sunday 3/12 for a trip to Harmony Park Safari

Note: dates are subject to change if there's something fun we'd like to do that doesn't correspond with the dates I've chosen. Just let me know what you want to do!

Au Pair Birthdays

There are no Au Pair birthdays this month.

Arrivals/Departures

There are no Au Pair arrivals or departures this month.

December 20, 2011

Holiday Party

Once again we journeyed to Birmingham for a joint activity with the Birmingham cluster. Lucy hosted us at her home for snacks, conversation, and a game of dirty Santa gift giving. Eliana rode with me and we met up with Vero at the party. We missed Fernanda, who had to work. In the course of the dirty Santa game Eliana opened a pair of fuzzy socks and I opened a digital picture keychain. Someone "stole" the keychain from me, which left me without a gift, so I "stole" a Starbucks gift card from someone else. After the game we enjoyed some birthday cake in honor of Kerry of the Birmingham cluster.

December 1, 2011

December 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to December!

The holidays are here! Thanks to our diverse culture here in the US, there are many holidays to celebrate during December. Christmas is December 25; Hanukkah is celebrated between the 21st and the 28th this year; and Kwanzaa - celebrating African-American heritage and culture - is observed from December 26 to January 1. Whatever holiday your host family celebrates, this is a great opportunity for you to learn about American culture and share holiday traditions from your home country. Try cooking a traditional dish or teaching your host family's children your favorite holiday song from your childhood!

And of course, December 31 is New Year's Eve which everyone likes to celebrate - including host parents. Talk to your host family before making plans for that night as they may be expecting you to work. Au pairs can be asked to work on holidays.

Getting Ready for Winter

Although the calendar still says fall, winter weather is here. Don't forget to bundle up the kids when you take them to the park. Often the temperature warms up later in the day so dressing the little ones in layers is a good idea.

With the changing weather, driving conditions will often require extra caution. Wet or icy roads can be very slippery. If you will be driving, please slow down. Allow extra time when you need to pick up the children so you will not be rushed. Be careful and make sure everyone gets to their destination safely.

Growing AuPairCare in North Alabama

Do you know someone who is a small business owner? Would they be interested in partnering with AuPairCare? Contact me for more information!

December Au Pair Activity

Plan to join us for a combined Huntsville/Birmingham AuPairCare Holiday Party! It will be held at the home of Lucy Edwards, Area Director in Birmingham on Sunday, December 11th at 4pm. Please see the flyer in your inbox for more information.

Save These Dates

January 15 (Sunday) at 2pm, Ice Skating at Benton H. Wilcox Ice Complex
February 12 (Sunday) at 2pm, Mall Scavenger Hunt at Parkway Place Mall

Note: dates are subject to change if there's something fun we'd like to do that doesn't correspond with the dates I've chosen. Just let me know what you want to do!

Au Pair Birthdays

There are no Au Pair birthdays this month.

Arrivals/Departures

Arriving here on December 15 is Maria Lasprilla Suarez from Colombia. She will be living in Guntersville. Please join me in welcoming Maria to Alabama!

November 20, 2011

Painting Pottery

Fernanda met me at Pottery By You for our meeting this month and the two of us had a fun afternoon of painting pottery. Fernanda picked out a cute little sock monkey to paint. I brought 1.5-month-old Eli with me and used his tiny little feet to decorate a tile to match those of his brothers. In honor of the Veteran's Day holiday, the studio fees were waived, which was a nice little savings, so I painted a second piece to hold business cards. We were sad the other au pairs weren't able to join us, so this is activity I'll keep on the suggestion list and we'll try again in the future. It's a fun thing to do that also gives us a chance to chit-chat.

November 1, 2011

November 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to November!

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This unique American holiday commemorates the early settlers from Europe who arrived in America looking for a new life. After a particularly hard winter the year before, they celebrated a bountiful harvest with the native American people who showed them how to farm the land. Although it's not certain where the first Thanksgiving was held, it is generally believed to have occurred near Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. The early Americans continued to celebrate Thanksgiving each year in the fall. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday.

Although most Americans no longer grow their own food, we still gather with family and friends to celebrate all that we have to be thankful for. The traditional Thanksgiving Day menu includes roast turkey stuffed with a mixture of bread and vegetables, mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie for dessert. Although many of these foods may be new to you, I hope you will join your host family for this traditional meal!

Are You Looking For Travel Partners?

A big part of living abroad is experiencing the new country that you're living in. As you know, the United States is big and there are many places to visit. However, some au pairs may be uncomfortable traveling alone. Group travel is a good way to see parts of America that you may have only heard about or seen on TV. It's safe and easy to arrange. Au pairs can go camping under the stars, shop on Rodeo drive, hike in the desert, or take a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.

Intrepid Travel is a great option for group travel, whether you are looking for an exciting way to spend part of your two weeks of vacation or you have finished your year and are planning to spend the extra month seeing the US. You have already lived across the world without your family for a year, so how about one more adventure? Please call 1-800-970-7299 or go to www.intrepidsuntrek.com for more information. Be sure to ask about the "Au Pair Fall Specials" and get a 30% discount on some of their fall trips! The New Year's Eve trip to Las Vegas always books up quickly!

Growing AuPairCare in North Alabama

Do you know someone who is a small business owner? Would they be interested in partnering with AuPairCare? Contact me for more information!

November Au Pair Activity

November 12 (Saturday) at 2pm, pottery painting at Pottery By You, 181 Hughes Road #9, Madison AL. Studio fees are $6 per person and pottery items start at $9.

Save These Dates

December 11 (Sunday), Christmas party with Birmingham group. Details TBA
January 15 (Sunday) at 2pm, Ice Skating at Benton H. Wilcoxon Ice Complex

Note: dates are subject to change if there's something fun we'd like to do that doesn't correspond with the dates I've chosen. Just let me know what you want to do!

Au Pair Birthdays

We have one birthday to celebrate this month: A very happy birthday to Vero on the 25th!!

Arrivals/Departures

There are no Au Pair arrivals or departures this month.

October 10, 2011

Host Family and Au Pair Day 2011

Our October activity was our annual Host Family and Au Pair Day! We were at The Little Gym at the Village of Providence again this year. Both my mom and sister-in-law were in town, having flown in to meet the newest little member of my family - Eli was born on September 22nd. Unfortunately only one host family was able to attend the event as one was on vacation for fall break, one was working, and one was celebrating a family birthday. Vero and Eliana (our newest au pair) were also there. The kids had a blast playing in the gym while everyone seemed able to find someone with something in common.