Friday, February 28, 2014

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Cooking for Kids

My employers gave me a slow cooker for my birthday and I love making the kids recipes from Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker (Williams -Sonoma) in the slow cooker. When I make extra pulled pork and serve the hearty sandwiches to the contractors that work in the same house as me the workers say the sandwiches remind them of the meals their mothers made for them when they grew up in Bolivia. I serve the pulled pork on good quality hard rolls but you can use soft rolls if the kids prefer softer sandwiches. Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker (Williams-Sonoma) suggests serving pulled pork sandwiches with homemade or good-quality prepared coleslaw or potato salad from your favorite deli or upscale market.

You Will Need:

3 Tbs. canola or corn oil
4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Sandwich rolls, split and toasted, for serving

What to Do:

1. Brown the pork in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pork pieces and brown well on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer the pork to a slow cooker.

2. Make the sauce and cook the pork. Pour off all but about 1 Tbs. of the fat from the fry pan and return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Stir in the ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until the mixture begins to bubble. Pour over the pork. Cover and cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the pork is very tender, 4 to 5 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low.

3. Shred the pork and serve. Transfer the pork pieces to a platter. Using a pair of forks, shred each piece of pork, removing and discarding any large pieces of fat. Skim the excess fat off the sauce, return the pulled pork to the sauce and stir to combine. Serve the pork and sauce atop the sandwich rolls. Serves 6 to 8.


Photo by Stephanie Felzenberg

Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker (Williams-Sonoma)

The New Slow Cooker: Comfort Classics Reinvented

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker

Thursday, February 27, 2014

How to Tell the Kids the Nanny is Leaving their Job

Preparing Kids for Post Nanny Relationship

Quitting nanny jobs and leaving a family (especially the kids) is a great loss. Although nannies leaving their jobs is not nearly as traumatic as the grief experienced after the death of a loved one, any change can trigger the grief process. Nannies, children, and parents may experience the stages of grief. In the book On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross the five stages of grief are discussed. Kubler-Ross explains that people may not go through the stages in sequence. These stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. When children grieve they may regress a little as well.

Eventually nannies, parents, and children will accept the change that the nanny is leaving the job. Once nannies know they are leaving they should continue to work hard, be professional, and nurture the kids to make their last days together special. Nannies should prepare the children for their post nanny relationship. Caregivers can make a manual to help the transition for the next nanny. They ought to find ways to appreciate their time with the family, be proud of their accomplishments, and look forward to new challenges.

When possible, nannies ought to make future plans with the children and mark the days on the calendar. To acknowledge the pain and anger that children feel nannies should say: “It is natural for you to be angry at me. You might feel like I am leaving you, but really we are just changing our relationship. I was your nanny. Now I can just be your friend.”

At the same time nannies should not worry too much about the children. Kids are flexible, resilient, and accept change (although they can be dramatic). They recover very quickly and go about their business. Leaving is certainly harder on nannies than the children.

It is more difficult for nannies to deal with the parents than with the children.

When the Nanny is Leaving:

1. Discuss with the parents how to tell the kids you will be leaving.
2. Arrange how you will keep in touch.
3. Only make promises to children that you know you can keep.
4. Make plans to see or speak with the kids in the future and mark it on a calendar.
5. Children should be told at least two-weeks before you leave to process the transition.
6. Do some favorite activities with them and arrange a farewell party or dinner to celebrate and say good-bye.

On Death and Dying
Be the Best Nanny Newsletter, July 2007

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Making Chunky Crayons

Wednesday Projects to Do with Kids

Don't throw out little crayon stubs that are too small for the kids to hold on to. You can use them to create big, chunky crayons. We made multi-colored chunky crayons but you can make solid chunky crayons if you prefer. It does get stinky so be sure to use a vent or open a window if the smell of the melting crayons bothers you.

What You Need:

Broken crayons
An old muffin tin
An old knife
Cupcake liners or aluminum foil

What to Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Put cupcake liners in muffin tin or line the muffin tin with aluminum foil.
  3. Remove all paper from broken crayons. Then cut up broken crayons into small pieces with an old knife.
  4. Fill the muffin tin with an inch-thick layer of crayon pieces.
  5. Bake 10-20 minutes, or until the wax is melted. Baking time depends on how full the tins are and the brand of crayon -- so watch them carefully.
  6. Allow the tin to cool in freezer or fridge. Pop out the crayons.
I'm not sure where I first learned to do this project but it can be found in countless craft books and blogs. Photo is by Stephanie Felzenberg.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hurry Sickness, Time Stress and Rushaholics

Nanny Confessions: Relaxing the Grip on Time

I confess, when working as a nanny I often feel like there isn't enough time in the day to do all I need do at my job. But, it isn't healthy for me, or the kids I care for, to be burdened by time pressure. Being around tense parents and nannies who feel they don't have any time to find joy in-the-moment stresses me out too.

We all have the same 24-hours in each day. But some people (like myself) often feel like they don't have enough time in a day, while others manage to get all their work done and still have a lot of time to relax and enjoy themselves.

Time pressure can cause great stress to the body. Rushing puts our bodies on perpetual combat alert. Our brains regard clocks, deadlines, and interrupted schedules as threats and creates our "flight and fight" response.

Time stress is toxic. This "hurry sickness" erodes the quality of lives and threatens their sense of well-being. The unending struggle to do more and more in less and less time increases our likelihood to respond with anger to anyone that slows us down.

For some, time pressure is like an addiction. Rushaholics are depenent on hectic acitivity from the moment they wake the same way some need nicotine or caffeine to get them jump-started in the morning.

Stress stimulates hormones and neuro-chemicals such as adrenaline that keeps the body on full alert. When rushaholics try to relax, uncomfortable feelings and emotions surface, so they get busy again and stuff the feelings back down.

Trying to control time by strict scheduling makes us so obessesed with it that it becomes more -- not less -- important in our lives. If we relax our grip on time, and not see it as the enemy that must be beaten into submission, it relaxes its grip on us.

Working long hours may be necessary for nannies to pay bills. But finding a balance of living in the moment and realizing we can't do everything will likely make us, the kids, and our employers happier. Slowing down allows nannies to savor the moment, enjoy their lives and jobs more, and get more done.


Learn more about time stress and time management check out The Healthy Mind, Healthy Body Handbook

Sunday, February 23, 2014

iTouchless Bag Re-Sealer

Product Review Sunday

There are a lot of products on the market to help nannies and au pairs perform their jobs. I recently tried the iTouchless Bag Re-Sealerand highly recommend the inexpensive product to make our care giving jobs easier. This product helps store foods in their original bags. It creates an airtight seal that locks in freshness and flavor. Just slide Bag Re-Sealer across bags to seal in freshness. I love the magnetic back keeps Bag Re-Sealer handy on the refrigerator.

Just click the lnks above or below to purchase the iTouchless Bag Re-Sealer

iTouchless Bag Re-Sealer

Black History Month Books for Kids

Children's Books for Preschoolers

February is Black History Month so there is no better time to read books about our individual uniqueness to our charges. When I was a kid I remember reading biographies of the first African American to play in major league baseball for Black History Month. I remember learning about jazz, the civil war, and the freedom train. But, I feel history lessons and biographies of famous black Americans are difficult for preschoolers to understand.

So, below I have listed some great books that teach important concepts to teach during Black History Month, such as celebrating our individual differences, that can be understood by young children as well as school-aged students.

I urge nannies and au pairs to take a few minutes to borrow some of the following books from the library for even their youngest charges during Black History Month.

Visit our new blog address to see the books at

Friday, February 21, 2014

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Children Love Miniature Cabbages

Believe it or not the kids I care for love Brussel sprouts. In fact, Rachael Ray seems to be able to make many "grown-up" foods palatable to the children left in my care. Looking like miniature cabbages, Brussels sprouts are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables and are closely related to cabbage as well as kale, collard greens, and broccoli. Like their other vegetable cousins, Brussel sprouts should be a part of any diet 2-3 times per week.

What You Need:

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 shallot, chopped
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed, small spouts left whole, larger spouts halved
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to your taste

What to Do:
  1. Brown bacon in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
  3. Add extra-virgin olive oil to the pan, 1 turn. Add shallots to the pan and saute 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add Brussels spouts and coat in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook Brussels sprouts 2 to 3 minutes to begin to soften, then add broth. Bring broth to a bubble, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook 10 minutes, until tender.
  6. Transfer sprouts to a serving dish with a slotted spoon and top with cooked bacon bits.

Photo by Stephanie Felzenberg
Recipe from Rachael Ray on Food Network

Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids

Kid Food: Rachael Ray's Top 30 30-Minute Meals

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Weigh Away: Light, Lighter, Lightest

Making a Balance Scale

Make a simple balance scale with the help from the children. Once completed provide the children with the opportunity to independently weigh toys and other household objects. Encourage children to gather an assortment of items and test predictions about which things will be heavier or lighter. To make the activity more challenging have the children put the objects in order from lightest to heaviest.

You Will Need:

Hole Punch
Two empty margarine tubs of equal size (or paper or plastic bowl or plates)
Assorted items to weigh (such as toy, blocks, pebbles)

What to Do:

1. Punch or poke three holes equal distance around the rim of the two clean margarine tubs, bowls, or plates.
2. Cut six pieces of yarn all the same size and thread one end of a piece of yam thought a ole and tie it to the tub. Repeat for all holes and all pieces of yarn.
3. Then tie the three strings of one tub on one end of the hanger and the three strings from the other tub on the other end.
4. Hang on a doorknob or dresser drawer.


365 Ways to a Smarter Preschooler

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Parents are Doing the Best They Can Parents are Doing the Best They Can

Nanny Confessions

One of the best lessons I have learned working as a nanny is that I have never met a parent that doesn't love their children and that all parents are doing the best they can.

I confess that over the years I have disagreed with a lot of the choices parents who have hired me have made in raising their kids. I admit I have been critical and opinionated of some of my employer’s parenting choices. But, now I see that whether the parents I have worked for were gentle or strict when potty training, in their sleep training techniques, or discipline – each and every child I have ever cared for turned out just fine.

After working as a nanny for two decades I finally realize that I am hired to support the parents I work for, even when I don’t agree with all of their child-rearing decisions. It is unfair to scrutinize parents under a microscope. Instead I must make great efforts to support my employees as well as I can.

Each child is an individual and no child-rearing technique works the same way every day for every child. It takes a lot of work and creativity to raise children, with new challenges popping up daily. Raising kids is never easy. But, no matter hard it gets, parents and nannies must work hard, be creative, communicate openly, and support one another so that children in their care develop to their best potential.

So, whenever I start to feel judgmental of a parent’s child-rearing decision, I simply remind myself that the parents love their kids and are doing the best they can.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Stayin Out of Nanny Drama and Gossip

Respecting Professional Nanny Boundaries

It seems nearly anytime there is a large group of women gathered together, there is some gossip and drama. It only takes one nanny making negative comments about others that makes working or socializing with her almost unbearable. Gossip happens locally with the nannies of the kids that go to the same school and activities as my charges, at the playground, and online in social media nanny groups.

It’s hard not to get sucked-in. But, my priority working as a nanny is to perform well at my job and keep my job. To do that I must keep the parents that hired me, and the kids I care for, happy -- not the other nannies in town. In order to do that I have to surround myself with others (nannies and parents) that build me up, not drag me down.

It’s fine to listen to and support friends, but there is a time and place for everything. Plus, I am a nanny, not a therapist. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or at work, nannies need to surround themselves with positive influences. To respect professional boundaries it important to focus on the job and keep gossip and drama out of the workplace.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Safety 1st Store 'N Go Booster Seat with Hidden Drawer

Products Nannies Love

Check out our review of the Safety 1st Store 'N Go Booster Seat that has a hidden drawer at our new blog address

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Blizzard of Snow Lesson Plans for Nannies and Au Pairs

Teach Kids About Animal Tracks

One of the greatest joys for kids is when they first walk outside after it snows and they leave footprints in the snow. Kids love comparing the different size and shapes of the footprints of their family members. So this week we recommend borrowing The Snowy Dayby Ezra Jack Keats, Footprints in the Snowby Cynthia Benjamin, and Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Printsby Millicent E. Selsam and Marlene Hill Donnelly to teach kids how to identify different animals by their tracks.

Please visit our new blog address to see the activities at

Friday, February 14, 2014

Healthy Heart-Shaped Treats and Paper Snowflakes for Valentine's Day

Add caption
Happy Valentine's Day

Here in the northeast of America we are having a very snowy Valentine's Day. Spending the bulk of our days indoor, as snow has been falling heavily outdoors, the kids and I made a beautiful paper snowflake garland with hearts in many of the snowflakes yesterday. If you have cabin fever and are trapped inside due to the weather check out how to make your own Valentine paper snowflakes below. It's a great activity to help kids learn to use their scissors properly. No matter where you live remember check out our healthy heart-shaped meals to serve the kids today!

Snowy Valentine Garland

To make a paper snowflake garland like we did you simply need white and colored paper, safety scissors, glue sticks, a hole punch, and ribbon. Google "heart-shaped paper snowflake templates" and print out simple patterns. Allow the kids to cut out the snowflakes. Then, glue the snowflakes to Valentine-colored paper such as red, pink, or purple. Punch a hole on top of paper snowflakes and string with ribbon. Tape to a fireplace mantel, door frame, or above a window.

Heart-Shaped Meals

aaaBreakfast: Make Heart-Shaped Pancakes

Make small pancakes. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutters to create heart pancakes. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

Lunch: Heart-Shaped Sandwiches

Use a rolling pin to flatten whole wheat bread. Using a cookie cutter we pressed out two hearts per slice of bread. Spread strawberry cream cheese or peanut butter and strawberry jelly between two hearts.

Dinner: Heart-Shaped Pizza

Use store bought pizza dough, a rolling pin, and cookie cutter to make this heart-shaped dinner. Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees. Put a little olive oil on your hands, a pastry mat, and rolling pin. Using a poultry scissor cut the pizza dough into balls the size of a tangerine or baseball (depending on the size of your heart cookie cutter). Roll out each ball of dough, then press out a heart with the cookie cutter. Spread a little pizza sauce on each heart and top with shredded mozzarella cheese (add toppings like pepperoni if the kids like the toppings). Bake in the oven for about 10-minutes or the cheese is golden brown.

Snack: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

All you need are fresh strawberries, Dolci Frutta Hard Chocolate Shell which we found in the produce department of the grocery store, and waxed paper to make this popular Valentine's treat. Wash and dry the fruit. Remove the lid and seal from the Dolci Frutta Hard Chocolate Shell cup. Microwave the chocolate in the container at half power (medium heat). Stir at 30-second intervals during microwaving until fully melted and smooth. The chocolate wafers will retain their shape until stirred. Dip fruit by the stem or with fork and cool on waxed paper until hardened.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Colorful Valentine's Bouquet

Doing Arts n' Crafts with Kids

Kids love Valentine's Day and it doesn't have to cost a lot to celebrate the holiday with the kids. Use tissue paper to make a lovely bouquet to decorate the house with the kids or to give as gifts to their family.

As a cognitive activity, make a group of just white flowers and then a group of just colorful flowers and note how the white flowers look nice but not colorful -- a little boring. Add the colored flowers to the white flowers together to see how beautiful the bouquet is after combining colors. Compare the two different bouquets with people. What a boring world this would be if all people only had one color of skin, hair, and eyes. Instead, we are lucky to live in an interesting and beautiful world filled with people of all different races.

You Will Need:

1. Several sheets of approximately 7-inch by 10-inch white and colored tissue paper (We used red, hot pink, light pink, and white for Valentine's Day colors)

2.Chenille stems (We used pink and green)

What to Do:

1. Stack eight sheets of white tissue paper and fold like a fan. The folds should be about one-inch.
2. Tightly twist a chenille stem around the center of the folded tissue paper. (We twisted some of the stems with both pink and green chenille stems)
3. Gently separate the sheets, pulling each end towards the center.
4. Repeat the steps above to make more white flowers and more flowers of different colors.

Photos by Stephanie Felzenberg

Educrafts, Prek-2