Friday, December 31, 2010

How Much Do You Charge for Babysitting on New Year's Eve?

What Nannies and Au Pairs Should Charge for New Year’s Eve

A nanny can charge more when her services are likely to be in higher demand, such as on holidays. We recommend you charge more than your usual rate if you plan to work on New Year’s Eve.

Ask yourself if you even want to work on New Year’s Eve. If you would rather have the evening off simply say, “I’m sorry I already have plans that evening.”

If you would like to work New Year’s Eve determine the rate you would feel comfortable making. Would you like an hourly rate (such as $30 per hour) or would you prefer a flat rate (such as $200 for the night)?

According to the The New York Times, more than a decade ago, babysitters were earning up to $100 an hour, some $250 for five hours, with a 13-year old charging $135 per child. If sitters could earn that much more than 10-years ago, nannies can certainly ask for more than the usual rate when working on New Year's Eve in 2010.

If you plan to charge double your typical rate, or a high flat rate, you ought to work hard and be prepared to keep the kids busy. Click here for some ideas.

How much do you charge for babysitting on New Year's Eve?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve for Nannies and Au Pairs

What games or activities do you play with kids on New Year's Eve?

If you are working for New Year's Eve, here are some ideas to use with children as midnight approaches. For kid friendly drinks click here. For New Year's Eve arts n' crafts click here.

If possible, rent some holiday movies such as How the Grinch Stole Christmasor The Polar Express [Blu-ray] so kids can watch movies if they start to get tired. Be prepared to supervise games such as Wild Planet Hyper Dash, Pictionary Junior, Twister, or Guessing Resolutions (see below). Print out free coloring pages and age-appropriate word searches from children’s web sites so children can color when they first arrive or at anytime during the party.

Games to Play with a Group of Children

Jack Frost: Have everyone stand in a circle and chose a volunteer to play Jack Frost, who will stand in the middle of the circle. Jack Frost runs around the inside of the circle and picks someone at random to touch. The person that Jack Frost touches must then start shaking that body part, such as the left hand, and cry out ‘Jack Frost nipped my hand.’ That person must keep shaking their hand for the rest of the game.Meanwhile, Jack Frost continues to run around the inside of the circle touching people’s hands, feet, arms, and legs. Each person must cry out which body part Jack Frost nipped and start shaking it. The game is only over when Jack Frost has managed to nip the arms, legs, hands, and feet of someone in the circle, so that his or her entire body is shaking.

Guessing Resolutions:
Make each of your guests write down five resolutions, each on its own slip of paper. Pull one slip of paper out of a basket at a time and read it out loud. Everyone has to write down who they think made each resolution. At the end of the readings, the person who guessed the most correctly wins a prize. Read some of the wrong guesses out loud for fun!

This is a hide-and-seek game in which only one person hides at the beginning. As the others find the hiding person, they squeeze into the hiding spot. The last person to find everyone hides in the next round. If you have a big, nook-filled backyard, and it’s not too cold outside, this is a great game when everyone needs a breath of fresh air.

What to do as Midnight Approaches

Candlelight Resolutions: Set a kitchen timer for 30 minutes. Turn off all the electric lights. By candlelight, talk about your hopes and resolutions for the year to come. Of course if there are young children at the party use flashlights instead of candles. When the bell rings, it’s midnight, and everyone flips the lights back on to toast to the new year.

Bubble Wrap Stomp: FamilyFun's Parties: 100 Party Plans for Birthdays, Holidays & Every Day (FamilyFun Series, No. 3) suggests doing “The Bubble Wrap Stomp.” Pick up several yards of the large-bubbled Bubble Wrap used in shipping packages. Just before midnight, unroll the wrap on a hard surface, such as a wooden floor or driveway. When the New Year’s countdown concludes, your party guests can stomp on the bubble wrap to make a lot of noise.

Gather Alarm Clocks: Gather all the alarm clocks in the house and set them to go off at exactly midnight.

What games or activities do you play with kids on New Year's Eve?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter Car Emergency Kit

All drivers in areas that expect snow should have an emergency winter kit for the trunk of their car.

The kit should have:

1. flares

2. blanket (waterproof preferred)

3. extra boots

4. energy bars

5. waterproof gloves

6. water-proof pants

7. ice scraper

8. small snow shovel

9. flashlight

10. kitty litter (for traction when stuck in the snow).

What else should be included in a winter car emergency kit?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Nannies and Au Pairs: Do You Get Paid Snow Days?

There was a white Christmas for the South and now there is a major blizzard in the Northeast. As a rare December blizzard disrupts holiday travel and promises to dump as much as 20-inches of snow in the New York metropolitan area, and the airports and a State of Emergency is declared, we want to know: Do you get paid snow days?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dolls for Kwanzaa

Product Review Sunday for Nannies and Au Pairs

If you are looking for educational ethnic dolls Educational Collectible African Dolls can be found at

Barbie Collector Kwanzaa Barbie Doll Festivals Of The World by Mattel

This doll is dressed in a candle bright two-piece outfit with inspired Kente design, matching head wrap, beautiful African-inspired beaded hoop earrings, and beaded necklace. She also comes with a card describing her inspired beauty and design for the season of Kwanzaa. The doll is designed by Katiana Jiménez. This doll is available from Mattel.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Scrooge is the Classic Christmas Character

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

A Christmas Carol: A Young Reader's Edition of the Classic Holiday Tale By Charles Dickens

There are many versions of this classic tale First published in 1843. We chose this easy reader version as an introduction to this classic holiday ghost story for nannies and au pairs to share with their charges.

Who hasn't heard the name Ebenezer Scrooge? Scrooge and the Grinch are the two infamous cranky characters of Christmas.

Scrooge is a sour old miser who hates the holiday season more than anything. Scrooge goes through life being nasty to everyone, but this Christmas a series of spectral visitors changes his mind. The first arrival is the Ghost of Christmas Past, who reminds him that he wasn't always in a perpetual bad mood: he shows him himself as a schoolboy, for example, and later as a young man in love.

Then the Ghost of Christmas Present takes him to see how Bob Cratchit, his much-abused clerk, can find joy even in poverty, and how Fred, Scrooge's nephew, who has married for love, finds it in generosity.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come provides a frightening vision of how Scrooge's life will end if he continues on his present course. Waking after witnessing these nighttime scenes, Scrooge is a changed man, and immediately sets about mending his ways.

Perfectly structured and full of dry wit and heartfelt inspiration, A Christmas Carol deserves a place on every child's shelf.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Are Your Favorite Christmas Eve Traditions?

Leaving Cookies for Santa

On Christmas eve, the night before Christmas, children expect a visit from Santa and stockings are hung by the fireplace to collect gifts from Santa. It is customary to read children some Christmas stories to complete their evening. The classic The Night Before Christmas is by far, the most popular short story of all. Reading stories in front of the fireplace with some hot chocolate will get the kids settled down and ready for bed. Then leave cookies for Santa and he will leave some crumbs and a note behind.

Make fresh cookies. Whether you plan on leaving chocolate chip, gingerbread, or frosted sugar cookies, Santa prefers homemade to store-bought cookies. Put the cookies on a decorative Christmas plate. Leave at least ten cookies. Make sure that there will still be cookies for Santa after Mom and Dad have eaten a few themselves.

Leave a glass of milk or eggnog with the cookies. Keep the milk or eggnog in the refrigerator and have Mom and Dad put it out before they go to bed. Santa loves icy cold milk.

Leave the cookies in a place where Santa will see them. Place them on the fireplace hearth or near the Christmas tree. Leave a note to tell Santa where the cookies are if you have to hide them from the dog.

Leave a napkin for Santa to dab his mustache. Santa loves festive napkins, but a plain napkin will do as well.

Leave a note by the cookies. Let Santa know how thankful you are for his visit to your house. Sometimes Santa has been know to write notes back to good children.
Reindeer Food
You can also have the kids throw Reindeer Food out in the yard for the reindeer before bed. See our recipe by clicking here. If the reindeer do not eat it the squirrels and birds will.

Click here to see original article.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Arts and Crafts for Nannies

I'm not sure about you, but I'm exhausted. I've worked hard this year, completed my shopping for holiday gifts, wrapped them, and just want to end the year by enjoying the time spent with my charges.

Hopefully all you have left to do now before Christmas is to relax and have fun with your charges. Here's an easy craft you can do to have some fun and fill up some time before Christmas vacation.

Gingerbread House

We made the gingerbread house in the photo with a kit. The kit has the cookies already baked and in the shapes needed to make the house. The kit also includes icing, candies, and coconut to use to decorate the house.

But, if you want to make a real gingerbread house from scratch here are the directions from

You Will Need:
6 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 Tbsp water

Make the Gingerbread Dough
1. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses and water until well combined.

3. Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead (or use your mixer's dough hook) until well blended. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

To see the rest of the directions, including how to decorate the gingerbread house visit

Sugar Ornaments

You Will Need:

½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon glitter
2 teaspoon water
Yarn or ribbon

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Press the mixture into Christmas-shaped cookie cutters.
3. Poke a hole in the top with a drinking straw or a pencil.
4. Let dry overnight.
5. Remove from cookie cutters and string a loop of yarn or ribbon through the hole to hang.

Use "open" cookie cutters - the ones that just outline the shape. This will allow the shapes to pop out. These look icy and sparkly on the Christmas tree.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When Too Much is Too Much

This Christmas Say No to Presents, Yes to Presence
By Judy H. Wright

A few years ago at a family Christmas gathering, the adults looked at the mounds of packages under the tree and shuddered. It was obscene in the over abundance of material possessions. One uncle mentioned that the Christ Child had only three gifts, so perhaps we should follow suit.

We carefully went through the packages, selecting every third one to put in a box. The mounds hardly looked smaller. Then this time around, we substituted an envelope for the present. In the envelope was a promise for time; uninterrupted, alone time with an adult that loved them. The next pass through was to exchange a present for a big envelope promising the gift to be delivered in two weeks time, if the child still wanted it.

The pile of presents looked more realistic and surprisingly only a few of the children complained and wanted more. When we explained that we had been confused when we bought so many toys and trinkets and had forgotten what the real gift was; our love and respect for one another.

We promised them a Christmas this year they would never forget like they had forgotten the toys from last year. The adults turned off the televised games, put down the newspapers and we all went for a long walk and outside games.

No to Presents, Yes to Presence
We spent time with each child and they heard something that we had all forgotten how to say. No. It was a precious gift to give our children the knowledge that you can't always have everything you want. Sometimes in life you will be disappointed. Live with it. Understand that toys, clothes, trinkets and the latest thing advertised will eventually break or go out of style.

True Happiness is Never Given, it is Shared
Electronics will never compare with a Grandpa who reads to you, or an Aunt who bakes chocolate chip cookies with you. It is time not trinkets that make happy children and families. If you are concerned that your children and grandchild seem to be spoiled and selfish, I know how you feel, I felt that way too. Now we have found that the children look for less under the tree and more meaningful time spent with the adults in their lives.
Do you feel as if the children you care for have too many material possessions?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Views of a Serbian Au Pair About an American Christmas

By Ivana

When I came to America from Serbia to work as an au pair for a family it was a difficult adjustment. There was a language barrier. I was not used to the American diet. I didn't own enough modern clothes. But, the hardest adjustment is the lavish lifestyle of many material possessions, yet ungrateful children that always want more.

The American family that hired me lives in a large home with more toys than I have ever seen in one place. Their closets are filled with clothes, some they have never worn before outgrowing the outfits. The kids have more possessions than I could dream, yet they want more.

The hardest adjustment to American culture was the children are so ungrateful. Having to listen to the privileged kids whine and complain, when they have so much, is very difficult for me. They always compare themselves to each other and then to their friends. They think all other kids have it better than they do.

That is why I was pleasantly surprised when the parents read this article I am posting here today, and told me they decided to give less gifts for Christmas this year and try to focus more on their religion and traditions of their Christmas.

Don't worry, the kids still have dozens of gifts each, I don't think they will even notice there are less gifts.

Please don't misunderstand my intentions. I am thankful the family opened their hearts, home, and minds and invited me into their home. I do love the children.

The one thing I hope they learn from me is that material possessions aren't as important as spirituality. I hope Americans children learn giving is as important as receiving. I urge American parents to realize how fortunate they are and pass that gratefulness to their children.

Are you spending the holidays with your family or your host family?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Can Kids That Have Too Much Be Grateful?

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Teach Children to be Grateful During the Holidays

Why do we ask kids to make a list for Santa rather than say a prayer to those in need? Is it really possible for nannies and au pairs to help kids be grateful for the abundance they have when Christmas is so commercialized?

Since nannies and au pairs spend a lot of time with children, I think we do influence children greatly. I think how nannies and au pairs treat others will help children be more grateful during the holidays.

We can help teach children to be courteous by doing even simple things such as holding a door for another person often during our normal every day activities. Show kids how others appreciate us and our actions. It is also a way to put a smile and a lift into a strangers day, which always creates a good feeling within the person who is doing the kind act as well.

Teach children to be grateful even without material possessions. The best gift you can give a child is your attention and time. Spending a day playing at the park, watching the clouds, and taking the time to engage in any imaginative play makes a child feel better than any toy or video game ever could.

We take necessities like heat and lights for granted. These are things that American kids so don't have to worry about. Do they take for granted the fact that they have food to eat all the time, friends to play with, and having plenty of toys and school supplies? Showing them examples of third world country children who go without these things is a way of teaching them appreciation for what they have, too.

Try to give the gift of your time and attention to children this Christmas. Show them how to be thankful and courteous each day. They will be more grateful simply by following your example.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Product Review Sunday

Farm Animal Glove Puppets by Constructive Playthings

This Christmas I am giving the one-year old I care for these adorable puppets. They are made of the softest material, in cute colors, with happy expressions. There are no eyes made out of beads that can pop-off and become a choking hazard. You need to supervise when a child under two-years old uses the horse though since the mane is made of thread that can easily be chomped on and become a choking hazard.

These puppets fit like a glove, have 9-inch plush bodies, and precious personalities come alive with finger movements. They are surface washable. I just think they are the cutest puppets and know we'll have tons of imaginary fun playing with these adorable puppets. See below for other puppet options for older children.

Royal Puppet Play by Constructive Playthings
"Once upon a time" is just the beginning with this royal cast on hand. The full-bodied Prince, Princess, Wizard, and Dragon puppets are generously stuffed, easy to work, and regally designed to inspire original storytelling. A friendly Frog adds extra puppet pageantry. Surface washable. But these puppets are recommended for ages 3 yrs + due to a choking hazard.

There is still time to buy books as a gift for your charges. Click here for our book suggestions.
Stop by next week for another Product Review Sunday for nannies and au pairs.
What did you get your charges for the holidays?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Best List of Kids' Books for Gift-Giving

There is Still Time to Give the Gift of Children's Books

If you haven't bought the children you care for a gift yet, giving books is always a great gift for nannies and au pairs to give to children. There is still time to visit your local book store. Think of your charges favorite book series or their favorite characters when picking a book for the child. Or, pick a children's book about the holiday season. Another safe book choice is one that has been a Caldecott Award winner. Although we list age recommendations with our favorite children's book choices below, it's fine to give an infant a boxed set to start building their library. Here are some of our great children's book recommendations.

Classic Tales

The World of Peter Rabbit The Original Peter Rabbit, Books 1-23, Presentation Box by Beatrix Potter
All 23 original Tales by Beatrix Potter are available in a beautifully redesigned presentation box. This luxurious box features the new branded design, spot lamination and full-color original Beatrix Potter art, including a pop-up of Peter Rabbit and friends inside the lid. Ages 4-8.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A stuffed toy rabbit (with real thread whiskers) comes to life in Margery Williams's timeless tale of the transformative power of love. Given as a Christmas gift to a young boy, the Velveteen Rabbit lives in the nursery with all of the other toys, waiting for the day when the Boy (as he is called) will choose him as a playmate. In time, the shy Rabbit befriends the tattered Skin Horse, the wisest resident of the nursery, who reveals the goal of all nursery toys: to be made "real" through the love of a human. "'Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'" This sentimental classic--perfect for any child who's ever thought that maybe, just maybe, his or her toys have feelings--has been charming children since its first publication in 1922. This is a great read-aloud for all ages, but children ages 8 and up can read it on their own.

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
This unique gift set includes all four of the original A. A. Milne classic books plus "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood," the only authorized volume of new tales about Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends. Ages 4-8.

Books for Kids that Can Read in a Series

Super Fudge Series by Judy Blume
Fans young and old will laugh out loud at the irrepressible wit of Peter Hatcher, the hilarious antics of mischievous Fudge, and the unbreakable confidence of know-it-all Sheila Tubman in Judy Blume’s five Fudge books, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge. Now all packaged together for the very first time, this collection of Fudge books will please lifelong fans and entice a whole new generation of Blume readers. Ages 4-8.

Ramona Series by Beverly Cleary
Generations of children have grown up with Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ralph Mouse, and all of their friends, families, and assorted pets. Beverly Cleary continues to capture the hearts and imaginations of children of all ages throughout the world. This collection includes the titles: "Beezus and Ramona," "Ramona the Pest," "Ramona the Brave," and "Ramona and Her Father." There are other volumes to purchase as well. Ages 9-12.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Among boys and girls in elementary school, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney has skyrocketed in popularity. The fifth book in the series, The Ugly Truth just released in November 2010 and would be a perfect gift for any child.

The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne
The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne lets kids join children Jack and Annie as they go back in time and visit dinosaurs, medieval knights, and other times or places that let the imagination run wild. Gift-givers can choose from over forty books in the series.

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
This series is a hit with elementary-aged boys. This graphic novel that enraptures kids that don't even enjoy reading. Fall of 2010 brought about a new series, Ook & Gluk, who are kung-fu cavemen. The focus is definitely on fun with these books.

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
Finest stories from around the world--most of them old favorites: "Sleeping Beauty," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Cinderella," "The Arabian Nights," 33 more. Includes original 138 black-and-white illustrations.

The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang: 37 familiar ("Rapunzel," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Golden Goose,") and not-so-familiar stories ("The Voice of Death," "The Enchanted Pig," and "The Master Thief." 97 illustrations.

The Yellow Fairy Book: American Indian, Russian, German, Icelandic, French, and other stories--48 in all--among them "The Tinder-box," "The Nightingale," and "How to Tell a True Princess." 104 illustrations. Ages 9-12.

The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, is one of the very few sets of books that should be read three times: in childhood, early adulthood, and late in life. In brief, four children travel repeatedly to a world in which they are far more than mere children and everything is far more than it seems. Richly told, populated with fascinating characters, perfectly realized in detail of world and pacing of plot, and profoundly allegorical, the story is infused throughout with the timeless issues of good and evil, faith and hope. This boxed set edition includes all seven volumes. Ages 9-12.

The Princess Present by Meg Cabot, a Princess Diaries Book
Even princesses have trouble finding the perfect Christmas gift. In this frothy holiday romance, Princess Mia is spending Christmas in Genovia with her Grandmère. She's delighted that her best friend and boyfriend are coming to join her, but worried about what to give to Michael. A light, holiday read for those who don't want to think too deeply. For teens.

Holiday Season

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
This book is also a Caldecott Award winner. One couldn't select a more delightful and exciting premise for a children's book than the tale of a young boy lying awake on Christmas Eve only to have Santa Claus sweep by and take him on a trip with other children to the North Pole. And one couldn't ask for a more talented artist and writer to tell the story than Chris Van Allsburg. Allsburg, a sculptor who entered the genre nonchalantly when he created a children's book as a diversion from his sculpting, won the 1986 Caldecott Medal for this book, one of several award winners he's produced. The Polar Express rings with vitality and wonder. Ages 4-8.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
The full text of the familiar poem is illustrated in Engelbreit's crisply decorated style. A large trim size allows each highly embellished spread to hold a plethora of detail. From the opening stanza's view of the non-stirring mouse's hole (a cracked teacup is his bed, a potholder his doormat, and a paintbrush is his broom) and throughout the verses, the artist adds lots of elves and ornamentation. Santa is not pictured as "dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot"; he's wearing a checked coat with fur trim and what appear to be leather bowling shoes. He does twinkle a lot, though, and that may be enough for some readers. Review by S. P. All Ages.

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
New York Times bestselling artist Susan Jeffers has created a Nutcracker unlike any that has before, with a lovely spare text based on the ballet. This is the perfect gift to share with children before they see The Nutcracker. Everyone who has seen the ballet will cherish it—as will anyone who enjoys stories where love triumphs. Come, take a front-row seat. The world's most beloved holiday fairy tale is about to begin. Ages 4-8.

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Angela Shelf Medearis and Daniel Minter
In this original folktale about the seven sons in an Ashanti family, Medearis introduces the seven principles of Kwanzaa. When he dies, the father of seven brothers who don't get along so well, leaves each of his boys a spool of thread. His wish is that they find a way to turn all the colored spools of thread into gold. The sons succeed --- they work together weave all the spools of thread into a beautiful kente cloth. Crisp and colorful woodcut illustrations are a treat. Ages 5-8.

Light the Lights! A Story About Celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas by Margaret Moorman
Interfaith families that aren't religious can still read this great book about different faiths and religious traditions. In the book, Emma helps her father light the menorah at Hanukkah and decorates the tree with her mother at Christmas. Ages 5-7.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Over the years, Dickens's holiday classic has been embellished by some of the finest artists around. Michael Foreman, Trina Schart Hyman, Greg Hildebrandt, and Lisbeth Zwerger are just a few of the luminaries who have taken on the challenge originally set by Arthur Rackham in 1915. Joining the list is Lynch, whose watercolor-and-gouache illustrations lavishly enhance this handsome edition, which includes the complete text. Ranging from spot art to full spreads, with something to savor on almost every page, they offer a real flavor of Victorian England and make the most of the inherent drama of the story. The gold-embossed spine and thick, textured paper contribute to the appeal of the package. Review by Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library. For children in grade 5 and older or young adult.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville's holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday. Ages 8-12.

Mistletoe by Hailey Abbott, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman & Nina Malkin This delightful collection of four short stories with a Christmas theme is sure to bring a little romance into the holiday season and get you thinking about who you'd like to meet under the mistletoe. Perfect for older teens.

Caldecott Award Winners

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Most children are captivated by snow, but how many go on to make it their lifework? This beautiful biography, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, tells the true story of a Vermont farm boy who was mesmerized by snowflakes. Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen phenomena, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation took on a more scientific leaning. Bentley spent his life taking countless exquisite photographs (many that are still used in nature photography today), examining the tiny crystals and their delicate, mathematical structures. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells this tale with simple, graceful prose that will engage children's imaginations. Edifying and snowflake-scattered sidebars offer more information about Bentley's methods and snowflake science. The artwork of Mary Azarian, whose 19th-century hand-press illustrations decorate the charming Barn Cat, shines once again in Snowflake Bentley, with woodcuts that reveal an appreciation for detail as well as for the man who loved snow. The lovely illustrations and equally fresh text will inspire and comfort youngsters (and grownups too) who wish they could capture snowflakes all year long. Ages 4-8.

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes. Ages 4-8.

What is your favorite children's book?

Friday, December 17, 2010

How Are You Planning to Spend Your Holiday Bonus?

What Nannies Can Do with Their Holiday Bonus

It may not be as fun as buying a flat screen TV, but paying down debt is a great way to celebrate the holidays. If you have outstanding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, every bit you can pay off helps.

Next, you should think of your long-term goals. Do you have savings for retirement? Do you have an emergency fund? If you have children have you started a college fund? Why not pay your taxes early? It's better to pay what you owe for taxes now, before you are tempted to spend what you owe. Of course, you can always deposit the holiday bonus in an interest bearing account.

We recommend nannies use their holiday bonus to better their financial standing, rather than just spending it on material possessions.

How are you planning to spend your holiday bonus?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What Really Makes Nannies Rich?

Your Holiday Bonus Won't Make You as Rich as the Invaluable Work You Do!

Articles this time of year tell parents what to give their nannies for holiday, or year-end, bonuses and gifts. Although all nannies hope for hard cold cash, (as cleverly stated by nanny Sue Downey), I think that a truly prosperous nanny is not rich because of the sum in their bank account.

Kenneth Aldridge, explains that what you do with your money will make you rich or poor. But, being rich doesn't mean you can have whatever you want. Is there anyone who can go to a store and give the cashier enough cash to buy joy? Is our bank account huge enough to write a check for peace? Can we purchase real love on credit? Cars cannot drive us on a route that will fulfill us. A mansion in all of it's splendor does not have the ability to complete us.

None of these things have the propensity to be bought or transferred through any other means but by spiritual abundance.

Adapted from The Voice in the Wilderness
1. Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.
2. Money can buy books, but not brains.
3. Money can buy food, but not appetite.
4. Money can buy finery, but not beauty.
5. Money can buy a house, but not a home.
6. Money can buy medicine, but not health.
7. Money can buy luxuries, but not culture.
8. Money can buy amusements, but not happiness.
9. Money can buy companionship, but not friends.
10. Money can buy the good life, but not eternal life.

If you find satisfaction in helping raise a happy, healthy, secure child then working as a nanny makes you rich. Hearing a child's first words, sparking their curiosity, encouraging their self-esteem, helping them through challenges, just knowing you are helping raise a child to be the best that they can be, is what makes a nanny rich. Nannies ought to feel prosperous through the work that they do.

How can you even put a price on raising a child? Is there anything more important? In fact, a nannies work is priceless.

So don't judge your job or self-worth on the size of your holiday bonus this year. It is the work that you do that should be rewarding and what makes a nanny rich.

What do you love most about working as a nanny?

Christmas Crafts for Nannies and Au Pairs

Paper Wreath Plates

Chris from Kids Craft Magazine shares some paper plate wreaths for nannies and au pairs to do with kids. There are two different types of paper plate wreaths described so choose the one that would be most suitable for your charges.

Evergreen Paper Plate Wreath
What You’ll Need:
Cheap Paper Plate
Cheap Evergreen Garland (Dollar Store Type)
Red Pom Poms
Glue (Hot glue or white glue)

What To Do:
1. Cut a hole in the center of the paper plate so that you have a ring that is about three-inches wide.
2. Cut a piece of the garland that’s long enough to go all the way around the surface of the paper plate, about 18-24 inches depending on the size of the plate.
3. Staple the garland to the plate, making sure the place the staples on the center cord of the garland. You’ll need to staple it every four-inches or so all the way around the wreath, then fluff it up so that you can’t see the staples.
4. Glue red pom poms onto the wreath using either white glue or hot glue (adults only).
5. Tie a ribbon into a bow and glue it onto the wreath.
6. If you want to hang your wreath, punch a hole in the top and use a string or simply tie a string around the wreath.

This is the wreath pictured and would work well for older kids. If you don’t want to use staples, you could always hot glue the garland onto the paper plate, but most kids shouldn’t use a hot glue gun on their own.

Tissue Paper Plate Wreath
What You’ll Need:

Cheap Paper Plate
Green Tissue Paper
Red Tissue Paper
A Piece of Ribbon or String For Hanging
Hole Punch
White Glue

What To Do:
1. Cut a hole in the center of the paper plate so that you have a ring that is about three inches wide.
2. Cut your tissue paper (or tear it for a different effect) into two-inch squares.
3. Crumple each square up slightly and glue the center onto the plate. Fill the plate in with the green pieces, then go back and add red pieces randomly to make berries.
4. Punch a hole in the top and thread the ribbon through to hang the wreath. You can embellish this project with a bow or glitter. You choose to make this craft as fancy or as easy as you want and it’s suitable for kids of all ages!

Monday, December 13, 2010

What Gifts Nannies Really Want

What Holiday Gift Do You Really Want from Your Employers?

Many nanny agency owners have been asking Be the Best Nanny Newsletter what parents should give their nannies as holiday gifts. So, we though we should ask nannies to answer the question themselves.

Undoubtedly, when asked, many nannies will say they want a cash bonus (for example, see our quotes in The Wall Street Journal articles "Cash is King" and "What to Give Nanny?").

True, cash is king. But what if your employers only gave you cash and no other gift, wouldn't that be upsetting? Be honest, tell parents now, what do you really want for the holidays?

What do you really want (along with the cash) for the holidays?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Puttin On the Glitz

Martha Stewart Crafts™ Glitter

We all know most nannies and au pairs are crafty. And since there's still plenty of time to make holiday decorations and gifts with your charges, for Product Review Sunday we highly recommend downloading a coupon for Martha Stewart Crafts™ fine glitter. The coupon can be used at Michael's stores. Click here to download the coupon.

Here are some craft ideas to use the Martha Stewart Crafts glitter:

Glitter Ball Ornament:
1. In a cupcake wrapper or glitter tray, mix 4 parts Verdelite glitter with 1 part Sterling glitter.
2. Apply glittering glue to a plain ball ornament with a brush.
3. Sprinkle all over with the glitter mixture, shaking off excess. Let dry.

Glitter Stripe Tags:
1. Cut an assortment of tag shapes in various sizes from craftstock.
2. Apply a strip of double-sided tape at an angle to the bottom of a tag. Trim it even with the tag’s edge. Remove the tape backing and sprinkle with Smoky Quartz glitter.
3. Apply another strip and glitter with Florentine Gold.
4. Punch a hole at the top and string with ribbon or baker’s twine.
5. Experiment with different arrangements of strips, including weaving strips together or mixing thick and thin widths.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

365 Ways to Prepare for Christmas

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

From simple solutions to sophisticated scenarios, 365 Ways to Prepare for Christmas by David E. Monn provides straightforward tips on how to do holiday shopping, entertaining, decorating, gift wrapping, cooking, and more.

There are think-ahead strategies designed to keep you out of the trenches the week before Christmas; dozens of ways to involve the whole family in easy-to-do holiday dinners (from buffet to sit-down); and dozens of imaginative yet easy-to-create gifts, wraps, decorations, and party favors.

Some of the recipes include: flavored vinegars and condiments, Chocolate Applesauce Cake, festive pasta dishes, jar cakes for gift-giving, and complete menus for everything from a Holiday Cocktail Party to a Christmas Eve Open House.

The book shows how to dry spring and summer flowers for holiday bouquets, make easy ornaments such as Paper Snowflakes, and many different types of garland.

There is a place to record gift, card, and party guest lists, a template to create individualized gift tags, and a host of recipes both new and traditional.

I also love that the book features a concealed wire "O" binding allowing it to lie flat when opened for easy use.

Here is a sample recipe which is my favorite Christmas recipe year after year for Almond Christmas Wreath Bread found on page 154. I often bring this bread as my hostess gift when attending winter holiday parties.

Almond Christmas Wreath Bread

Prep: 15 minutes Stand: 2-1/4 hours Bake: 20 to 25 minutes Makes: 1 loaf

1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
3 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
3-1/2 cups flour
Almond Filling (recipe follows this recipe in the book)
2/3 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, honey, butter, salt, cardamom, eggs, and lemon zest. Beat until well blended. Gradually mix 3-1/4 cups of flour. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 10 to 15 minutes, adding remaining flour as necessary if dough sticks. Place in a clean large bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

2. Grease and flour a cookie sheet. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 9- x 30-inch rectangle, Sprinkle filling to within 2-inch of edges. Starting from a long side, tightly roll up dough. Moisten edge with water and pinch to seal.

3. Using a floured knife, cut roll lengthwise in half. With cut sides up, twits ropes around each other to form a single piece. Slide onto a cookie sheet and shape dough into a circle. Pinch ends to seal.

4. Let rise uncovered, until dough is light and almost doubled, about 45-minutes. Fifteen minutes before end of rising time, preheat oven to 375 F.

5. Bake bread 20 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cook on a rack.

6. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water. Stir together until smooth and well blended. Drizzle glaze over cooled bread.

For Almond Filling:
See page 155 of 365 Ways to Prepare for Christmas by David E. Monn

Stop by tomorrow for Product Review Sunday and again next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.
What is your favorite holiday recipe?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Best Holiday Gift Giving-Guide for Nannies and Au Pairs

What are the Best Holiday Gifts You Have Given Your Employers?

All this week we posted the results of the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter holiday gift-giving survey for nannies and au pairs.

We learned that 59% of nannies and au pairs give a gift for each member of their employers family including the parents and 48% of our survey participants spend less than $30 per gift. 55% of survey participants answered they spend less than $30 per gift they give to the parents. Of the nannies and au pairs that give only one gift to the entire family, 44% spend no more than $75 for the gift.

Yesterday, nannies and au pairs shared what gifts they are giving to their employers this year. Today, are some more ideas shared in our survey.

Michele, a nanny in New York city explains, "Every year I take a lot of photos in October and November and make calendars for all the members of the family including the grandparents. is a great value."

Karen Morgan, a nanny in Atlanta, GA says you can't go wrong with giving, "homemade cookies, massage gift certificates, picture books of fun times you have had with the kids."

April Krause, a nanny in the Metro Detroit MI area shares, "I love to do something personally from the kids to the parents, like a painting or a picture."

Kristin Grau, a nanny from Westland, MI advises, "Go with what your employer's interests are. Be creative! I made a gift basket for an old family once for family game night. I included a few board games, and cards, and all the makings to have pizza! They loved it."

Pam Perkins, a nanny in Las Colinas, TX likes to make, "Something homemade: I make a trail mix with equal parts of butterscotch chips, dry roasted peanuts, and raisins and put is in an attractive jar. It tastes like 'maple nut goodies' and is delicious!"

Melissa Mariconda, a nanny in Ridgewood, NJ says, "Take pictures of the kids! If you have the time, money, and means to pull off a surprise portrait session for the parents! They will have it to cherish for a lifetime. My employer's cried they were so happy! I also help my munchkins pick out and/or make presents for their parents. A great thing to do is go to a store like 'Color Me Mine.' The kids can pick-out an item to paint by themselves. And another great store is 'Wee Can Shop' in Hawthorne, NJ. There kids get their own shopping cart, pick out the item they want, pay for it, and pick out the gift-wrap! I love it!

Sarah Klink, a nanny from Atlanta, GA "Coupons for free babysitting are always appreciated by families and also doesn't cost the nanny any money."

Lauren, a nanny in Pittsburgh, PA answers, "I have the kids make presents for there parents. It is always fun to keep a fun secret, we'll try to."

Heather Spooner, a nanny in Atlanta, GA recommends, "In the past, I have handmade a gift certificate from me to the parents for a free night of babysitting. I have also cooked or baked things for them and wrapped it nicely."

An anonymous nanny from Silver Spring, MD says, "I try to buy something educational and fun. The thoughtfulness comes from finding something educational, inexpensive, that I know they will love. I never give candy or junk toys."

What are the best holiday gift you have ever given to your employers' family?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Holiday Gifts Do Nannies Give?

Nanny Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

Finding the right holiday gift to give to your boss can be tough. We have been discussing that the sentiment is more important than the cost of the gift you choose.

For those who haven't decided what to give to their employers and their children yet this holiday season, we hope you find inspiration from the results of the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter holiday gift-giving survey below.

What gifts are you planning to give to your employers' kids, the parents, or entire family this holiday season?

Heather Spooner, a nanny in Atlanta, GA explains, "I like to buy books and games for the children. For the parents I usually give gift certificates to their favorite restaurant or store."

Meghan H., an au pair working in Boulder, CO says, "I have a big list after discussing what I'm getting with Santa. For the youngest I am giving an inexpensive lap harp. I'm giving a parent-approved computer game to the eight-year old. I bought a skate board for the ten-year old (Santa is providing a helmet) and roller blades for the 14-year old (and Santa is providing the protective gear)."

Karen Morgan, a nanny in Atlanta, GA says, I usually give something I make. I like to sew and knit, so I give things like handmade pillows, small blankets, and hats."

Farrah P., a nanny from Austin, TX shares, "I am getting matching pajamas for all the kids. I'm giving a gift certificate for free babysitting for the parents."

Debbie T. an au pair from Germany working in the United States answers, "The 11-year old is really starting to like music so I'm giving him a CD, the four-year old is getting puppets, and the baby some sorting blocks."

Samantha Leclaire, a nanny in Wakefield, MA says, "I got the baby a bunch of toys, clothes, and books. I bought the parents a gift card for a restaurant they love. I also made a scrapbook of all the pictures from the baby's first year as well as a slide show DVD of the pictures that has Japanese lullabies (the mother is Japanese) playing in the background."
Deborah Lucas, a nanny in Decatur, GA is giving a handmade scarf.

Denise Blackford, a nanny in Bridgewater, NJ shares, "My charges are really into Barbie's lately, including the little boy. They are always fighting over the Ken dolls, so everyone is getting Ken! For the parents, I always take a picture of each child in a Santa hat and put it in an ornament frame that has the year on it. I also buy the Dad a four-pack of his favorite holiday beer and a bottle of wine for the Mom."
Imani O., a nanny in New York says, "I am making a scrapbook of the children and baking some of their favorite Christmas desserts."

Sarah Klink, a nanny from Atlanta, GA explains, "The twins I take care of will be nine-months old at Christmas time and I plan on buying them some more challenging developmentally appropriate gifts than what they have now, i.e. Stacking rings, stacking blocks, simple puzzles with the big knobs, a shape sorter, etc."

Lauren, a nanny in Pittsburgh, PA shares, "I am going to get some pictures of the girls this week to frame them and give them to their Mom and Dad."

An anonymous from Seattle, WA says, "Each year I make something from I am on a mission each year taking pictures of the kids. You can make calendars, scrapbooks, memory books, you name it. It means a lot to the family."

What are you giving to your employers this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Holiday Gift-Giving Guide for Nannies and Au Pairs

Giving One Gift to Your Employers' Family
 Of the nannies that took our Be the Best Nanny Newsletter holiday gift-giving survey, 59% give a holiday gift to each member of their employers' family. While 59% of nannies give both the children and parents a holiday gift, only 3% of the survey participants give just one gift for the entire family.

Despite only 3% of our survey respondents give one gift to their employers' family, it is completely appropriate for nannies to give one gift rather than individual gifts.

Many survey participant like to give tickets to a play, musical, concert, or show. For example, 28 nannies answered they have given the family they work for tickets to the Nutcracker as a holiday gift. Others have given each member of the family tickets to local child-friendly plays like Beauty and the Beast and holiday concerts such as Handel's Messiah.

Survey participant recommend giving the entire family a scrapbook including photos of the children they took over the year.

A less expensive family gift survey participants have given include a board game. Seven nannies have given the entire family matching pajamas. Another idea shared in the survey included a hand-assembled gift basket containing a child age-appropriate DVD, hot chocolate mix, and microwave popcorn.

When buying holiday gifts this season, it is fine to keep to a budget. Consider the sentiment and meaning of the gift is much more important than a high price tag.

If you buy one gift for the entire family how much do you spend?

44% No more than $75.
31% No more than $50.
19% Under $30.
6% I have no budget, I just but what I think they will love.
0% No more than $100

Stop by tomorrow for the gift list that nannies and au pairs are giving to their employers' this holiday season.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

55% of Nannies and Au Pairs Spend Under $30 for Holiday Gifts for their Employers

Gifts Should Convey the Right Message, Not a Price Tag

This week we are sharing the results of the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter holiday gift-giving survey for nannies and au pairs.

When giving a gift to your employers (the parents) you want to appear generous, but not as a gift show-off. At the same time, cheap gifts send the message that you are only offering a gift because you felt that you had to.

Before selecting a gift, ask yourself what message does the gift (and the reason for giving the gift) convey about you? The right gift should show that you cared enough to give an appropriate and thoughtful gift out of appreciation and respect.

It is appropriate for nannies and au pairs to share handmade gifts with their employers' because they work very closely with them and their children. When giving handmade gifts to the parents try to consider the parents' interest -- not yours. Handmade gifts should either appeal to the personal tastes or interests of your boss, or have some practical use.

Knitted scarves, hats, blankets are welcome keepsakes. Scrapbooks made with photos you have taken of the children over the year and memory books about the children are always treasured gifts. But, if you have a passion for making sock monkeys, you might think about purchasing a gift rather than making them something they might not use, need, or treasure. Stop by on Thursday and Friday for holiday gift giving ideas from nannies and au pairs.

When choosing a gift for your employers' this holiday season remember the main goal of giving them a holiday gift is to show your appreciation and respect. That doesn't always require much money.

Here are the results of the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter holiday gift-giving survey about how much nannies and au pairs spend on a gift for the parents?

If you purchase a gift for the parents how much do you spend?
55% Under $30 per gift.
10% No more than $50 per gift.
5% No more than $75 per gift.
5% I have no budget, I just buy what I think they will love.
2% Other which included responses such as: I try to buy one gift for both parents. I spend much less than $30 per gift.
Stop by tomorrow for more results from our Holiday Gift-Giving Guide.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nanny and Au Pair Gift-Giving Guide

How Much Do You Spend Per Holiday Gift?

Results of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter Holiday Gift-Giving Survey

Buying gifts for the members of your employer's family can be tricky. Nannies and au pairs typically want to give their employers something lovely and meaningful, but want to keep a reasonable budget.

Peggy Post, the great-grand-daughter-in-law of Emily Post, and today’s leading authority on etiquette says, "Spending more than you should takes the fun out of gift giving. There’s nothing more nerve-racking than overspending — and feeling uneasy about it."

Plus, if you spend too much on your employers' gifts it actually may make them (the parents) feel uncomfortable. They want to show how much they care and don't want to get in a competition with gift-giving.

When choosing gifts for your employers, remember you can never out-do the parents. You don't make as much money as the parents! A great gift from a nanny or au pair doesn't have to cost a lot. Thoughtfulness and meaningfulness are what nannies and au pairs should strive for when choosing holiday gifts.

To help nannies and au pairs choose great gifts to the family they work for, we will post the results of the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter holiday gift-giving survey all this week.

If you work as a nanny or au pair do you purchase holiday gifts for the members of your employer's family?

59% Yes, a gift for each member of the family including the parents.
36% Yes, just for the kids.
3% Yes, one gift for the entire family.
2% Other

If you purchase holiday gifts for the children how much do you spend per gift?

48% Under $30 per gift.
26% I have no budget, I just buy what I think they will love.
20% No more than $50 per gift.
4% No more than $75 per gift.
2% Other. Responses included: $10 or less, $20 or less, and much less than $30 per gift.

Nannies and au pairs, when buying gifts for your employers, how much you spend per gift?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Children's Hanukkah Gifts from Nannies and Au Pairs

Product Review Sunday

Chocolates are sweet, representing the Hanukkah spirit. There are great chocolates made just for Hanukkah that are inexpensive and a perfect gift to give for the holiday. You can find chocolate dreidels, chocolate menorahs, and chocolate stars, and more. Nannies and au pairs can certainly buy these individual chocolates – a new one on each day – and surprise the kids on all the eight nights of the festival.

Hanukkah Gelt

Hanukkah gelt means Hanukkah money. Children are often given sums of money as an official Hanukkah gift. According to a survey done in 2006, 74 percent of parents in Israel give their children Hanukkah gelt. A popular custom in the past few decades is giving chocolate coins to children on the festival of Hanukkah. Children often use chocolate gelt to play dreidel. So, nannies and au pairs can't go wrong giving their charges some chocolate gelt for Hanukkah.

Gayle's Chocolates Menorah Celebration Box

The Menorah-shaped chocolate box is yet another representative Hanukkah gift that kids would surely love. Collection of Hanukkah-themed dark chocolate is a fun remembrance of the Festival of Lights. A handmade, dark chocolate menorah is filled with chocolate coins, chocolate potato latkes, and wood dreidels. A much-appreciated gift for the chocoholic in your life! Arrives in a custom box detailed with blue ribbons.

Zelda's Sweet Shoppe
Chocolate Dreidels

Dreidel Chocolate Lollipop

Menorah Chocolates

Menorah Chocolate Lollipop

Who doesn't love halvah? If you haven't tried it yet, during Hanukkah is the perfect time to buy some and share with your charges. Halvah is a popular candy made of crushed sesame seeds and honey. The flaky, dense, tahini-based candy known to American and Israeli Jews is only one of hundreds of different types of halvah eaten across the globe.

Joyva Marble Halvah is a confection made of crushed sesame seeds in a binder of honey. The addition of chocolate makes it super yummy. Add them as a special touch and a delicious surprise to your Hanukkah gift giving.

Little People Hanukkah Play Set

Just look at the photo and do we need to say more? This is the cutest little toy for children celebrating Hanukkah. The characters are adorable. The presents are fun to open and close and the music is cute. Definitely a fun toy that provides lots of entertainment for any child. The menorah on the table even lights up!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Children's Book for Hanukkah

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate by Janice Cohn

This picture book tells the true story of an inspiring event: when windows with Hanukkah menorahs become targets for rock throwers in Billings, Montana in 1993, thousands of non-Jewish people put pictures of menorahs in their windows, dramatically reducing the number of hate crimes in their city. The story itself is so compelling and heartwarming it has its own power. Great for children aged five- to 10-years old.

Confused Hanukkah by Jon Koons

Set in the traditional Jewish town-of-fools, Chelm, the story begins with the villagers unable to remember how to celebrate Hanukkah while their Rabbi is away. A man named Yossel sets out for a nearby town "to find out what must be done," but naturally, being from Chelm, he goes the wrong way and winds up in the Big City, where he gets some very odd information about "the coming holiday." His fellow villagers are a bit surprised--"Trees? Fat men? I don't remember any of that!"--but conclude these must be the latest modern customs, so they proceed to chop down a tree, decorate it with matzo balls, wooden dreidels and shiny menorahs, and dress the fattest man in town in a fancy suit, calling him "Hanukkah Hershel."

Yet somehow, nothing seems right. "They had never seen Hanukkah Hershel before. And surely, if they had decorated a tree like this in the past, someone would have remembered. But Yossel had told them that other people did these things. And why shouldn't they celebrate the way others did? Still, now it seemed like this wasn't Hanukkah at all."

Luckily, just then the Rabbi arrives home, to tell them the story of Hanukkah and remind them of their true traditions. And "From that day forward it was said that the people of Chelm always remembered how to keep Hanukkah."

Koons doesn't hit us in the face with his point, leaving the silliness of the story to speak for itself about the ridiculousness of mixing up two things that have very little relationship to each other. I would like to have seen a note on the history of Chelm in Jewish folklore and humor, and it would also have strengthened the the book to say more about the significance of the Hanukkah customs -- eating foods fried in oil in memory of the oil lamp, for example.

This should go over well at story times, especially with a reader who's good with dialogue, which is lively and plentiful. Pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations in a slightly caricatured style highlight both the foolishness and the generally goodhearted nature of the people of Chelm, adding to the humor and warmth of the story. Story is great for children aged four-years old and up.

Stop by tomorrow for Product Review Sunday and next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advice for Nannies - Get Flu Shot!

Did You Get a Flu Shot?

The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

On February 24, 2010 vaccine experts voted that everyone six-months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the 2010-2011 influenza season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for "universal" flu vaccination in the U.S. to expand protection against the flu to more people.

While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that caregivers get the flu shot! Here's why:

1. A flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu.
2. Infants less than 6-months-old are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, but cannot get a vaccine or antiviral drugs.
3. If you live with or care for an infant less than 6-months-of age, you should get a flu vaccine.
4. This season, an all-time high supply of vaccine will be available so more people than ever can seek protection from the flu as soon as the vaccine becomes available.

The flu shot does not cause the flu! The flu shot is an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6-months, including healthy people, and people with chronic medical conditions.

Have You Had Your Flu Shot?