Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Our experience PART TWO

The pictures and stories on the TV have left me with no words.
What Sandy has done to so many of my fellow New Yorkers is simply catastrophic.
It’s almost surreal as I look at the devastation downtown and knowing that is a short subway trip away. Seems like a world away at the same time. We are truly blessed here in the Upper West Side! Beside a few businesses that were closed it seemed life was almost back to normal.
As the time went on the division between our City became more and more evident. It was like a line was drawn in the sand. There were those of us that reside uptown who were able to continue as if very little had changed.  Then there were those who had reside downtown. They had to pack up and find some way to survive in a city that was increasingly getting dangerously cold and unlivable.
The TV coverage was totally and completely about life here after Sandy. The main channels were just broadcasting 24/7 what had happen and how New York was going to recover. It made me think a lot about what life would have been like here during 9/11.
As the hours and days went on more and more the devastation became evident it was just horrendous. 
The moment everyone was able to leave their apartments the community sprit just kicked in. Everyone and I mean everyone was trying to do their bit to try and help those not as fortunate. It’s been an overwhelming experience. Hugo and I have done the most we can do to donate to help.
This City has always amazed me and at some many different levels. This time I have been amazed by the sheer determination and strength of my fellow New Yorkers. They are a breed that never gives up even when they are hit with a storm that was so strong and powerful it blew a rollercoaster at Seaside Heights into the ocean.  
At the moment we have thousands of people in various areas of the Tri-State in refuges. We also have so many people in their homes without power.
And then to add salt to the wound two days ago we had another north easterly storm that brought 6-8 inches of snow! More people lost their power L

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy! Our experience PART ONE

As I sit here about to start writing about the last 7 days I can still hear helicopters that are transporting goods to either Staten Island or the Rockaway’s.
Over a week ago we started getting the warnings about this so called super storm that was going to hit New York and New Jersey. I have to say that this being now our second hurricane here in Manhattan,  it did have that familiar ring to it.
This time around I felt there was not as much of a lead up as there was with Irene. When the storm was just a few days away the warning were loud and clear. Again the evacuation zones where clearly defined and the plan of action was put in place.
 I know many of us here in Manhattan where probably a little bit more relaxed this time around compared to last time with Irene. This was obviously the worse attitude to have.

Last Sunday was the last day to prepare!
 We had weeks ago planned to go out to a farm to go apple picking coincidentally on this “preparation Sunday”. It was the last weekend for the season so it was now or wait till next harvest season. We decided we would still go as we would have plenty of time to return and get indoors for the storm. We ended up having a great day although it was rather cool. I will include some photos later on.
We arrived back to what seemed a night like every other. The cafĂ©’s and bars were their usual bustle. There was no indication of the tragedy that was about to hit in less than 24 hours.
The next day school had been cancelled and Hugo had to work from home. His work had advised them to work from home as many employers had done. Parks were closed and businesses were closed as the subway and busses were also shut down. In retrospect it was what saved our mass transit system as the damaged that would have been done if they had not done this would have been catastrophic.
We decided to watch TV and do arts and crafts to entertain ourselves. At 3.00pm our fellow neighbors decided to have a get together in the lobby. Everyone was in the same situation and most of us with children which is extremely challenging in small apartments.  We had a great time and the kids had a ball. Little did we know of the devastation that was about to hit this tri state area.
The girls went to bed and were excited as they had now cancelled school on Tuesday too. At no stage did my girls understand the severity of this storm. Hugo and I are very careful how we allow them to learn about issues that may be traumatizing.  We are both very adamant that children really need to be protected from the way they learn and process potitially danagerous situations.
We also during the week had the traumatic news about the Nanny that murdered the two children she cared for. The eldest child was a pupil of my daughter’s school so again we have had to deal with such trauma.

Hugo and I stayed up and I have to say it felt like any other night. It was almost surreal to be watching TV and listening to what was happening around us.
I finally went to be around 1.00pm however found it very difficult to sleep with the howling of the wind I could hear outside.. I did start to feel a bit scared. I also expected to lose power shortly as I was aware of all the power cuts downtown. It was going to be inevitable.
Eventually morning arrived and we all woke up like any other morning.  I quickly got up to see if the power had been lost and to my relief it was still on. I turned on the TV and it was at the moment I realized the absolute worst case scenario they had talked about was a reality. It honestly felt like we were living in a movie such as Armageddon or something.

Pumpkins galore!

Corn fields

Mummy and Annika on a Haystack ride!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Hi All,

Just a quick post to my followers to let you all know we are fine. We are very lucky to have no damage to our building and power! So many were not as lucky! When I have some more time I will post about our experience.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

My 2 year anniversary is approaching....

Well this is approaching and I can honestly say these last two years have flown.
Although the initial excitement literally about everything has subsided, I still often sit back and just feel so grateful to be living in this amazing city.
Lately I have been very lucky to have friends that have come to vacation here. I also love listening to their initial impressions as they remind me of my first moments here too.
I have reached a point that sometimes I get confused about certain products and if they are from here of from back home. Recently whilst on a play date a friend of mine handed a rice cake to her daughter. It caught my attention as there was this sense of familiarity. I had recollections of Isabel sucking them as a baby in her high chair? I then started to think about it and logic was telling me this could not be so? Isabel was seven when we arrived. It just did not add up?  I am not one to leave things alone if they do not add up. I kept thinking about it then asked my friend to hand me the package. It was very familiar and I almost felt a sense of nostalgia. Closer inspection of the packet then confirmed my feelings. This was a packet “Corn Thins” and you guessed it from AUSTRALIA.
The next day I headed straight to Fairways Market and bought a few packets. The girls happily now munch on the regularly.
We have also now settled into our routine. The girls are at school and I am working. I love working for Cultural Care Au Pair. I am very fortunate to have an amazing group of families and au pairs to work with. I also have increased my work load as I now have the time to do so.
The weather has also cooled down so although it’s slightly depressing about the colder winter approaching, the harvest season is upon us. I adore the fall. I love the approach of Halloween.
Here are some recent photos
 This is "Mickey" trying to make a buck in Times Square.

View of the Brooklyn Bridge from a water cab we caught to Brooklyn Ikea.

 One of the Brownstones on our street preparing for Halloween. Keep tuned as I will do my Halloween special post as I LOVE HALLOWEEN!!!

My Isabel with her BFF from when they wer only 2 and at Moore Park Gardens in Darlinghurst. They have maintained a friendship since then. Now that we live over here its email and now skype that will keep them in touch.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back to school

Well its that time again when the children end their very long summer break and head back for a new year at school. Isabel in going into fourth grade and Annika is starting PreK.
They are both attending the same school now which does make things so much easier. Annika will be attending 5 days a week from8.30am till 2.00pm.  I have mentioned how fortunate we are that Annika was selected as there were only 18 positions and 500 applicants applied.
These first couple of weeks are simply chaotic as there is so many half days, curriculum meetings etc.

I am looking forward to some sort of routine after 11 weeks of summer break!

I have decided to return to fulltime work which excites me and also terrifies me. I think the juggle is what really terrifies me. However living in the city of “outsourcing” I know I will be able to make it work.
I was offered a position in the Travel Industry however I have declined as it simply made no financial sense to take this on. I would have to employ a babysitter/Nanny to collect the girls after school so I need to factor this expense.It just didn't not work out. I actually would have been a perfect candidate for an au pair! 
However as I am not a US Citizen or Green card holder I don't qualify.Such a shame as the cost and flexibility of the program is why its become so popular here in the USA.

What is also a major consideration to me is how “family friendly” the employer will be?
So I am happy to say I will be doing my role as a Local Childcare Coordinator in a more full-time capacity. It works around the kids and I love doing my job.

So its all made perfect sense and I now start that new phase in my life.............

Friday, September 14, 2012

Want to meet my Host Families and Au Pairs???

Are you interested in meeting some of my current Host families and Au Pairs?

Well I am finally hosting a Host Family Conference 
Date: October 21 2012
Time: 10:00am
Upper West Side 
New York, NY

Please RSVP *important due to catering* by: October 8

Au Pairs-This is counted as your monthly meeting so attendance is required.
Please join your LCC and au pair group for a very special event: Our Host Family Conference!
I have the pleasure to announce that we will have a demonstration by Anne Grossman on healthy and nutritious snack and meal ideas for your kids.
Anne has generously donated her time and talents to give your au pairs a talk and quick lesson on how to prepare these foods for your children.
We also have Judith Frost founder of “The Little Global Village” kindly offer us her space for our meeting.
This is a great opportunity to meet other host families and au pairs in the area and will count as your attendance to one host family day conference during the year. Families interested in learning more about our flexible, affordable childcare program will also be invited to attend.

If you have been considering host an au pair ad live in Manhattan this is your chance to do so. Please contact me at tanya.lindin@lcc.culturalcare.com for details.

Anne Grossman, owner of AnneMade, is a culinary instructor, food stylist, and recipe developer.   She has worked on AOL’s web video series www.kitchendaily.com with Gail Simmons and Lauren Braun Costello and taught afterschool cooking to children ages 5-8 at PS75 in New York City.   Anne launched her own business AnneMade in September 2011, designing fun cooking parties for adults and children, teaching cooking skills and challah baking to individuals and groups.   Anne’s focus and passion is teaching people how to cook healthy and delicious meals at home. 
Cooking runs in the family:  both Anne’s grandmother and great grandmother were successful caterers.  Always an avid cook and baker herself, Anne began taking culinary classes at the JCC in Manhattan in 2005 where she honed her skills and assisted chefs.   Anne volunteered her culinary skills to PS87, her children’s school, by organizing the annual school auction dinner for 700 people for the past 4 years.   Prior to a entering the food business, Anne was television graphic designer for Court TV, NY1 News, CNNfn, and the Food Network.   She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in with a B.A. in art.  She received an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Pennsylvania.   She firmly believes cooking, like painting (which she continues to do) is an art which requires not only proper technique but also creativity, individuality, and beauty.

The Little Global Village
The Little Global Village on the West Side of Manhattan is a language immersion program for children of native speakers of English and non-native speakers alike.
We foster an environment of fun, learning and mutual understanding for infants and toddlers. Our world-class language programs build on the latest research in superior teaching and learning methods.
Classes are offered in Italian, Spanish, and French, with other languages to follow, as we seek to support parents in their quest to help their children become true global citizens. All our teachers are native fluent speakers of their respective languages.
After all, we believe that teaching concepts in another language – as opposed to simply teaching students another language – allows for more intuitive and successful language learning.
Founder Judith Frost
Judith has had a lifelong fascination with other languages. She speaks Spanish, German and Portuguese and has lived abroad in Santiago, Chile, Munich, Germany, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Following more than a decade in the corporate world, she decided to cultivate a meaningful program that she can share with her children and the children of the Upper West Side.
Judith is also an MBA graduate of New York University.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Au pair childcare grows in popularity as day care center costs soar

As if life wasn’t already expensive enough, Child Care Aware® of America (formerly the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies or NACCRRA), just released its annual report earlier this month and concluded: “Quality child care is becoming increasingly difficult to afford for working families.”
Their in-depth investigation revealed that in 36 states (including Washington DC), the average annual cost for daycare coverage for an infant was higher than a year’s in-state tuition and related fees at a four-year public college. In many states, center-based childcare costs for an infant and a 4-year-old exceeded annual mortgage payments.
The report also reveals that “Even for families fortunate enough to have jobs, wages have decreased while everyday costs continue to rise. ‘Real earnings’ declined in 2011 by about 1 percent, but the cost of living rose by nearly 3.2 percent during that time, and the cost of infant care in a center increased 2 percent.”
New York, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Indiana and Wisconsin were identified as the least-affordable states for full-time daycare for an infant while New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Indiana, Maine and Rhode Island were listed as the least-affordable states for full-time care for a 4-year old.
Because of these rising day care costs, families are looking for other solutions, and one of these solutions has been the au pair program. Stereotypically thought to be cost-prohibitive, many families arefinding au pairchildcare to be quite the opposite. Melissa Fredette, Executive Vice President for Cultural Care Au Pair, confirms that the demand for au pair childcare is growing. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in families’ interest in the au pair program over the last year.”
Many Cultural Care families across the country would agree that the program’s affordability, along with the flexibility and quality, make it the best choice for their childcare needs.
Amy Pond, a host mom in Denver, CO has hosted four au pairs to care for her twin girls since 2009. She says, “To put my kids in daycare would cost me at least double what I’m paying for an au pair. The same thing goes for a nanny versus an au pair. This type of program works for our lifestyle, too. I love not having to deal with the hassle of drop-off and pick-up from daycare.”
For over a decade now, Andrea Riberi, single mom to 13-year-old Jacob and 11-year-old twins Gabriel and Dustin, has hosted au pairs. The Upper St. Clair, PA resident says, “The au pair program works because I need a significant amount of childcare that varies with my job. For three children, it has been much more cost effective than daycare or nannies. It is also much more convenient to have our au pairs living with us. They feel they are a part of the household and like big sisters to the boys.”
Dana and Walker Lockhart of Seattle have hosted three au pairs since 2009 to care for their 5-year-old sons Oliver and Finlay and brand new baby. “With twin boys in Kindergarten and an infant at home, it was hard to swallow the cost of the double-tuition for after-school care and full-time infant care. It has been a huge relief to know there is a less expensive option. When you factor in the annual program fees, the weekly stipend, and other expenses (education, car insurance, and food), we are still paying at least 30% less then what we would be paying otherwise.”
Parents, how are you keeping your childcare costs in control? (For those who decide to use au pair childcare, Cultural Care Au Pair has more available au pairs than ever before!)
If you would like more information please don't hesitate to call me on 212-729-4256 or email me at tanya.lindin@lcc.culturalcare.com

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Atlantis Resort Bahamas

Well we finally got to the Bahamas. It was a bit touch and go for a few days as we had hurricane Isaac trying to ruin our much anticipated vacation.
August being the last month of the summer break for the kids also tends to be high hurricane season too. This is why the deals are amazing and we were also able to get a great deal for Atlantis.
Isabel has been dreaming of Atlantis since the day we arrived in New York. They do endless advertising on television. I have to admit it looks like an island paradise so I can totally understand how alluring to her it was.
I also realize that as a Travel Agent the amount of inquires I have had about Atlantis was quite amazing. I was curious to see for myself the hype around this place. I also have Cruise Clients that stop in Nassau and buy a day pass to the Resort.
For those of you who have no idea about this resort here it is:

We arrived and it was overcast and very windy. We had been warned that the weather was going to be a bit bad as Isaac had passed however still relatively close. After clearing customs on our arrival into Nassau we boarded our bus to the resort full of anticipation and delight. We had been driving for about ten minutes when we first had glimpses of the turquoise waters of the Bahamas. As we got closer I was amazed at the color of the water and even more amazing it was so cloudy and overcast yet this water was spectacular. I could only imagine what it would look like in sunshine. We had come to the conclusion that we were probably going to have bad weather all week. We were ok with it as we were on vacation and we had the amazing slides and resort to enjoy.
We arrived and much to our delight we upgraded to a larger room and an ocean view!
The view we had was breathtaking and here is a photo.

The time we had was probably one of the best vacations I have had with the kids. The resort is truly amazing and caters so well for families. Everything was five stars and the service was impeccable. I am more than happy to go into specifics if anyone is interested in a vacation there. Please just email my work email and I am happy to elaborate

And to top of what was a magnificent time away we had picture perfect weather that definitely was the icing on the cake. I now have a new addiction ..........The Caribbean and to discover every island!
We are currently suffering the “vacation blues”

This is one of the Lazy rivers. We just had a ball!

Yes that is my coming down the "leap of faith".

Hugo and Isabel during a Shallow water interaction.This was their dolphin named "Missy"

Isabel got to cuddle and kiss her. It was an experience she will treasure always!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The next phase

Annika turned four the other day. For months she has been talking about a birthday party so Hugo and I finally decided to give her one. Second child seems to probably not get as much as the first. Isabel had some great parties back home in Sydney. We decided to book a room at the YMCA and to cater it ourselves. Birthday parties here in Manhattan take children’s parties to a totally new level. What seems  so baffling to me is that the simplest of parties can easily run a bill well into the thousands?
After attending quite a number of parties here I have slowly learned the protocol or should I say the differences that kid’s parties have here to back home in Australia.
We had pizza and juice boxes which are what we have here. Unfortunately Annika has never had a party pie or sausage roll so they were not on the menu.
The room had a play-center so the kids just ran wild in the comfort of air conditioning. It so happened to be a hot and humid day so I am sure the parents were glad it was held at this venue.
We are also approaching our long awaited Vacation to Atlantis in the Bahamas. It’s a dream come true for Isabel who was memorized when arriving here and watching a commercial on TV.

We come back and it then gets close to the school. This is now my “next phase”. Annika will commence Pre-Kindergarten which will be five days a week 8.30am till 2.00pm.
I have not had that much time away from my children since before having Isabel nine years ago. It’s such a milestone for me as I really feel that both my babies have now learned to fly. I am also proud of my accomplishments and that I was able to always be there for them during their very young years.
I am thinking of going back to fulltime work as I feel the girls now don’t need me as much as they did.
I am so glad now I waited till they were ready for school.
 I am really enjoying my work with Cultural Care and establishing some wonderful relationships with my host families and my au pairs.
So again this is a new phase in my life……………and again I venture in to uncharted waters. Will keep you all posted as I slowly navigate through it.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Considering an Au Pair??

Hi All ,

I thought I would share this with anyone in the USA that may have been considering an au pair. 

Discount Details:
New families who apply between Friday July 27th through Tuesday July 31st will receive a waived application fee ($75) and a ($350) program fee discount. To qualify for the blitz savings families must host an au pair by January 31st, 2013 and take an au pair for a minimum of 30 weeks.
 To offer even greater incentive – families who apply during this time will receive an additional $650 program fee discount if they select their au pair by August 27th, 2012 –for a total savings of up to $1075

You can email me for the promotion code and its just such a good saving.
For more details visit my au pair blog @ http://tlindin.aupairnews.com

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hot in the city

Well we are now in the official third heat wave for summer here in Manhattan. I have to say its a very different heat to what we are used to living so close to the ocean back home. We also do so much walking!!
It still hard for me to truly comprehend how a city that can get so cold and snow be so hot?

We were also very lucky to have my beautiful niece stay with us one night. She is currently on a school trip here and her teachers kindly allowed her to stay the night. Isabel and Annika were so happy. We celebrated the 4th of July on the Westside Highway which was closed to traffic. We had an amazing view of the fireworks over the Hudson. It was our second 4th of July here in Manhattan.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Latest Manhattan update

I often wonder when I actually became so in tune with the universe and its very mysterious ways.
When I was younger I would set my mind on something or someone (always boys that would break my heart) and I would do everything in my power to attain them. I would fall, dust myself off and then continue on the same path. It never even occurred to me that maybe that was not my path? I don’t know if its age or simply the fact I just had enough that I came to make peace with the universe. I do not consider myself to be religious. I think the many years of a catholic education and seeing the hypocrisy of the so call devout Christians made me have very little belief in something I never really believed in anyway. The universe and a high power is something that I truly believe in and I always have faith in the path it leads me in.
I know sounding very deep and meaningful however I wish I could have been this emotionally and spiritually mature in my 20’s and 30’s. Regardless I am happy to find myself in a peaceful place and that I know I am were I need to be.
Hugo and I are also in a place where we feel very settled and content. Hugo and his work are great and career wise I feel he is achieve some wonderful goals. I am very proud of the fact he is very good at what he does and yet so humble at the same time.
We are waiting for them to complete renovating another apartment in our building which is bigger and has a proper size kitchen. We hope to move into that one when that is done.
The girls are doing great at school. Annika was selected out of 400 applications to attend Pre Kindergarten at Isabel’s school which is commencing in September 2012. This is an amazing opportunity and one we are truly grateful for. So she will be attending full time!
This then leads me to my new role as a Local Childcare Coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair. 

I have taken on a new role which I plan to do side by side with my Travel Service. I am basically looking after  Au-Pairs and their host families that I am assigned here in my area. I am involved in monthly Meetings that I have to keep the Au Pairs updated. I also have to ensure they and their families are abiding to the regulations that govern this type of cultural exchange program. I am also involved in interviewing and qualifying potential new families. I am also be trained as a mediator to help when things may not go to plan. Regardless I love the challenge and embrace this new chapter in my working career. I also will have more time to focus on my work as both my girls will be at school in September. Anyone that is interested in the Au Pair program my website can be accessed via the link on the top of this page.  Just click on the Cultural care logo.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Swan Lake by The Australian Ballet Company.

Sunday was father’s day. I am still adjusting to the different time of the year it’s celebrated here in the US. We took Hugo out for brunch which is a Manhattan institution. New Yorkers love Sunday brunch!
What is even more enticing is that the brunch menus often include unlimited mimosas or Bloody Marys. Isabel and I then headed to the world famous Lincoln centre for our much anticipated performance of Swan Lake by the Australian Ballet Company.
On arrival we noticed that the David Koch theatre was buzzing with people also anticipating this performance. As we proceeded to our seats I was overwhelmed by this magnificent theatre that was specifically designed for ballet performances.  Isabel and I sat down and straight away browsed through our playbill to read about the dancers and the company itself. There was a lovely elderly lady who was sitting behind us who started a conversation with us. She was a New Yorker who heard our accents and was of course very interested to talk to us. She was obviously very knowledge about ballet and asked if Isabel actually studied ballet. She explained to us that in her opinion the Australian Ballet Company was outstanding in their technique and followed the British way of technique. It sounded all very interesting however not being an expert on the subject I politely just nodded and agreed.
 Suddenly the lights dimmed and the performance began...................

Isabel and I sat through what I can only describe as spectacular. The dancers and the music were just absolutely phenomenal. It’s been many years since I have been to a ballet performance. Watching this performance now as an adult gave me a new and amazing perspective I had not experienced as a child.. The pure emotions that I felt throughout this sad story I could identify with.  I too have been betrayed by a man. I too have been in love with a man who was in love with another. I too have had a man love me even thought I knew it could never be. Swan Lake by no means is a “happily ever after” story.
The performance received a standing ovation and Isabel and I clapped with delight and so much Australian pride. Bravo Australian Ballet company bravo!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Another Summer in Manhattan

Well we have another two weeks of school and the summer break officially starts. I really enjoy the not running around and just taking things slowly. We have had a taste of the heat recently however the temperatures are back to what is expected this time of the year.
This morning we got the acceptance email from the NYC department of Education to inform us that Annika was accepted into the Pre Kindergarten program. This is such wonderful news as these positions are so hard to get and she will be attending the same school that Isabel attends.  It’s a full-time program so 5 days a week. Annika is so ready for this and I feel really ready for the next step in her education.
I am still in the process of finishing my training in my new role as a Local Childcare Coordinator here in Manhattan and I am really looking forward to being able to work with both the au pairs and the host families. It will be such an interesting role where I hope my experience in dealing with so many cultures over the years will help me be able to help the families and au pairs adjust to these amazing exchange programs.
We have also finally booked a trip to Atlantis as it’s been so high on Isabel’s to do list! We will be going down to the Bahamas in the last week of August which will be so much fun. I have so many families ask about this resort so I am glad for my business I finally get down there and have first hand experience.
I have added some photos of us in Central Park last week. I just love the different seasons there and summer is definitely my favourite!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mommy Master for June

Well this is now the crazy part of the end of school year. There is countless parties, presentations and plenty of juggling. One thing I wanted to share is I have be chosen to be "Mommy Master" for the month of June.

I am very excited and honoured! Please feel free to visit and read the article below.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Australia (Down-under)

Since arriving to Manhattan is been a constant and exciting learning lesson for all four of us. We have all had lessons and obviously at different levels.  Isabel has had a particularly amazing journey through her adaptation to a different school system. She has had to make new school friends and alter the way she speaks and says things at time. I am very proud of her adapting skills and I hope that these skills she has acquired will help her in her future. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to make the move. I wanted my girls to be culturally diverse and accepting. It’s always been a quality I am so proud I have and it was also a quality in Hugo that attracting me to him when I first met him. This experience of living here in Manhattan is no doubt one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences of my life. In saying that it has also brought out this amazing patriotism I have for Australia.
Although I still feel no homesickness whatsoever I do feel a very strong connection to my people and my land. I nearly every day read the Sydney Morning Herald online to keep in touch with current affairs. I always get asked about what aspects of Australia do I miss? I miss my BBQ (grill) in our patio. I miss preparing our dinner outside in summer and the smell of Maroubra Beach in the air. I miss my laundry. I miss reading the Sunday papers on the beach. It was the highlight of my Sundays back home. I would race down to the beach and try and read it while the wind blew the pages and sand got all over it. When my sister was here not long ago and she brought some “Allens Lollies” (Candy). Hugo and I just simply devoured them and the taste of them brought me back home for a moment or two. So it’s actually quite simple things I miss as life if much more simple and quieter back home.
The other day I was walking up Columbus and I saw a poster that captured my eye instantly. It was the word “Australian” that did it. I am drawn to that world anywhere as it’s not common and you don’t really hear or see many things about Australia here. As I continued to read it I was overwhelmed with that sense of patriotism I spoke about earlier. It was the Australian Ballet company performing here in Manhattan. Even better at Lincoln Center which is a five minute walk from our apartment. I am very happy to say I am taking Isabel to see “Swan Lake”. It will be her first ever ballet performance and I am so proud to say it will be an Australian production here in NYC. If you would like more detail on how to also purchase tickets here is the website.

I will let you all know all about it after we attend.
To complete my week of Aussie nostalgia I received a phone call from Isabel’s school teacher. Ruth has been an inspirational and truly dedicated teacher this year to Isabel. I have never met such a magnificent and versatile teacher like her. She has been particularly special to Isabel this year .Isabel has she had some struggles with mathematics which I am so happy to report is slowly overcoming. I feel so grateful that she was able to be very instrumental in helping us help Isabel achieve her full potential.
They will commence a new nation in their social studies tomorrow and it’s Australia. Ruth has asked another Mum and myself to come in and give the third graders a talk about Australia. The other Mom is married to a New Yorker and has been living here now for ten years. I am trying to figure out exactly what I should talk about especially as I want to captivate my third grade audience. I am now off to play with Photoshop and create some photos of us at the beach with our pet Kangaroo (Skippy). I figured that would definitely capture their attention!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Seeking Work Life Balance? Childcare choice can make a difference

As working families across the country are struggling with the dual demands of work and family, many seek the ever-elusive work life balance. There are a number of general issues that influence work life balance including time, flexibility and resources for unexpected situations. Parents’ choice of childcare can have an effect on the balance equation. 

What leads to work life balance? The Families and Work Institute has identified a number of factors that predict work-life conflict among employed parents in their National Study of the Changing Workforce. In addition to job pressure, job satisfaction and other work-centered aspects such as supervisor support and autonomy, there are also family factors. These include flexibility limitations due to the needs of children and whether there is a spouse who works. The study also found that allocating more time to spend doing things for oneself and finding someone to take responsibility for childcare reduces work-life conflict.

There are pro-active steps that parents can take to make work life balance less elusive. In a report by the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute on the evaluation of childcare, parents described three supports or coping mechanisms that helped them balance their work and family lives: making children and work their main priorities (often at the expense of their own selves); using the flexibility of their position to work around childcare issues; and having the support at home from a spouse or paid provider.

In a closer look at how the choice of a childcare provider can affect work life balance, Cultural Care Au Pair conducted a study of working parents who had utilized more than one form of childcare. Cultural Care surveyed 2,500 families and asked parents about their previous form of childcare and how their current childcare choice of an au pair had affected their work life balance.

Most working parents agree that work life balance has a lot to do with time. More than two thirds of the au pair host families surveyed found that they had more quality time with their children and more time with their spouse. Sixty two percent also found they had more time for themselves.

Kate Frink, marketing manager at a consumer products company, commented, “I believe the consistency of having an au pair has allowed for me to get involved in other activities I had recently declined, like helping on committees at my children's school and getting more involved in a few non-profit organizations. It has also allowed me to find the time to get back in shape. Exercise was a luxury I had the hardest time fitting in with my previous childcare.

Do smoother departures and arrivals affect the feeling of work life balance? Absolutely. Seventy four percent of parents with au pairs reported that the coming home/dinner time routine was easier and 81 percent said the morning routine was less complicated.

Michelle Walker, an elementary school principal with an au pair says, “The kids can take the morning at their own pace, and not rush out the door because we have to get to work. We often leave with them in their pajamas eating their breakfast and it is so nice to let them have a more relaxed start to their day. Also, I prepare dinner the night before, and our au pair puts it in the oven to bake so it is ready when I get home. This is a huge time saver for us, and we can eat at 5:30 every night.”

What about when the unexpected happens and a child gets sick? According to a Georgetown University study, Meeting the Needs of Today’s Families, the illness of a child causes a parent to miss between six and 29 days of work annually. But not for parents with live-in childcare. 75 percent of all respondents, and 81 percent of those who had previously had their children at daycare centers, said that they had taken less time off for children’s sick days since switching to au pair childcare. It can also save on vacation days and medical costs. “Last year we had our son in day care so I had to save my ten vacation days for his sick days. This year, not only did we save our vacation days, but we saved hundreds of dollars because we weren't at the doctor or filling prescriptions,” says Katie Lewis who works in finance for an insurance company.

Lewis also commented about the benefits of flexibility with the au pair program. “I can take that client phone call that inevitably comes through at 4:59 and know that my child won't be waiting for me at daycare. I am a better mom and that makes me a better employee.”  According to the survey Work and Family Pressures conducted by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, 92% of American workers feel they do not have enough flexibility in their schedules to take care of family needs. In the Cultural Care survey, 78 percent of parents who had previously had their children in daycare centers stated that the more flexible schedule that the au pair program provides allows them to be more flexible with their work hours. In fact, 69 percent indicated that they were more focused and productive at work and 77 percent said they were less stressed about work.

Kathy Vizachero of Performing by Design, host mother and corporate coach, says, "The breadth of the network of support that working parents create around themselves largely determines the height of the trajectory that they can achieve at work.  It also, in good measure, determines their happiness level. As a host mom, my 'joy' level has definitely increased in knowing my Cultural Care au pair is there providing solid and dependable childcare.  Plus, her schedule flexibility allows me to consider many creative options for how I balance my time."

Overall, 90% of the respondents to the Cultural Care Au Pair survey felt that they have better work life balance because they have an au pair, indicating that childcare choice can be a factor predictive of work life balance. Parents will continue to seek this elusive balance, but for these au pair host families, their childcare choice seems to be getting them a little closer.  

For more information on hosting an au pair, please call Local Childcare Coordinator Tanya Lindin at 212-729-4256 or visit www.culturalcare.com.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Parents are seeking to expose their children to a different language these days.

With the increasing need to prepare children to enter a global society, a growing number of American parents are demanding childcare providers who can offer their children first-hand knowledge of another culture, language and traditions. Whether it is Chinese, Spanish, German, Russian or Swedish, families across the United States are seeking childcare providers who speak a foreign language. One childcare option gaining popularity among parents is an international au pair, a live-in childcare provider who is able to teach children a second language in the home. 

Why the growing interest in raising bilingual children? For children, the benefits of learning a second language range from superior problem solving skills and enhanced school performance to having a better understanding of other cultures and traditions. With growing global competition for the best jobs and admission into top-rated schools, parents also want to prepare their children for a professional career in which speaking a foreign language and cultural sensitivity are competitive advantages.

“Most experts agree children are more likely to become proficient in a foreign language if they learn the language at a young age. Choosing a bilingual caregiver who interacts with children on a daily basis is a perfect fit for parents who want to expose young children to a second language,” said Melissa Fredette, Executive Vice President of Cultural Care Au Pair. “Au pairs bring great enthusiasm into the home and are excited to teach their host children about a new language, traditions, food and music––allowing children to develop an understanding of another language and culture first hand.” 

Au pairs live and study in the United States for one year on a J-1 cultural exchange visa in exchange for providing 45 hours of childcare per week. The U.S. Department of State regulates all au pair programs in the United States, offering parents the peace of mind that their children are in the care of a carefully screened, qualified caregiver.

For more information on hosting an au pair, please call me on 212-729-4256 or visit www.culturalcare.com

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Anderson Cooper Show

Just a quick post for my loyal followers. If you all recall a few months ago I did that crazy experiment on the Anderson daytime show. Its been a while but finally it will air tomorrow.

I have very mixed feelings as I am hoping I don't look too drunk! I know it was an experiment however I have to say I was shocked at the effect it did have on me. I am sure this was the point.

Here is the preview.


Yes I am the woman at the end with the wine glass drinking.........................

Families Turn to International Au Pairs to Teach Children a Second Language

Bilingual Au Pairs Provide Both Childcare and Language Education

 With the increasing need to prepare children to enter a global society, a growing number of American parents are demanding childcare providers who can offer their children first-hand knowledge of another culture, language and traditions. Whether it is Chinese, Spanish, German, Russian or Swedish, families across the United States are seeking childcare providers who speak a foreign language. One childcare option gaining popularity among parents is an international au pair, a live-in childcare provider who is able to teach children a second language in the home.
Why the growing interest in raising bilingual children? For children, the benefits of learning a second language range from superior problem solving skills and enhanced school performance to having a better understanding of other cultures and traditions. With growing global competition for the best jobs and admission into top-rated schools, parents also want to prepare their children for a professional career in which speaking a foreign language and cultural sensitivity are competitive advantages.

"Most experts agree children are more likely to become proficient in a foreign language if they learn the language at a young age. Choosing a bilingual caregiver who interacts with children on a daily basis is a perfect fit for parents who want to expose young children to a second language," said Melissa Fredette, Executive Vice President of Cultural Care Au Pair. "Au pairs bring great enthusiasm into the home and are excited to teach their host children about a new language, traditions, food and music-allowing children to develop an understanding of another language and culture first hand."
Au pairs live and study in the United States for one year on a J-1 cultural exchange visa in exchange for providing 45 hours of childcare per week. The U.S. Department of State regulates all au pair programs in the United States, offering parents the peace of mind that their children are in the care of a carefully screened, qualified caregiver.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Affordable child-care in Manhattan!

I just wanted to let you all know I have taken on another role as a Local Childcare Coordinator for Cultural Care Au-Pairs in Manhattan.
I did a lot of research before taking on this role as I had I suppose some pre conceived ideas about how the whole process works. I have to say that in the many years of travelling the world all the au pairs I have ever met have been happy ones.
This organization has been in the US for 20 years and I have been impressed with only their track record but the training and support they offer to the host families, the au pairs and their employees (I am one now).
I am currently in the process of doing some extensive training on many aspects of my role but I am very excited too. I have had to work with so many cultures of the years throughout my career and this seems to be a natural progression.
I must emphasise this program is not anything like hiring a nanny. This is far from it! This is a cultural exchange program where you host a young person in your home for 12 months. In exchange you receive 45 hours a week of live in childcare. The department of state has strict guidelines as to what is permitted and what is not. For this reason this program is NOT for everyone.
I am happy to discuss offline any aspect of the program to anyone that may be interested or alternatively I do have a website that is a work in progress. The website is mainly a mode of communication for the au-pairs and host families that are assigned to me.

I am a very busy mother these days as I am still running my Travel Service which is also really taken off! I love being busy and finally I seem to have found the perfect balance. I am always available for the girls and yet doing work that I love!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother’s Day @ Central Park

Yesterday we spent Mother’s Day @ Central Park. I did another NYRR run and then both Annika and Isabel did their first kids runs. They are so well organized the NYRR and they are who do all the organization for the famous New York Marathon.
It was also coincidentally “Japan Day” which was such a lovely event.
 I took some photos to share. It felt like Japan was in the center of the park yesterday. It was a picture perfect day. It brought back so many found memories of my years in Japan.
Annika is so happy with her ribbon.

Isabel waiting for her race to start.

Cooking Okonomyaki yum!