Great Avocado Baby Food Recipes

avocados-brownWe love avocados and we think your little ones will too! Their creamy texture makes avocados one of the first fruits babies can eat. And here in California, avocados are grown from February to September, which makes them in-season all summer long!

The American College of Pediatrics says that you can start feeding solids to your baby around six months of age, When selecting an avocado, look for a dark green color with bumpy texture. Avocados are versatile; they make a great base for savory and sweet meals. They are highly nutritious and full of “good fat” which helps a baby’s brain and physical development.

The American College of Pediatrics suggests that you can begin giving a baby solid foods when they are around 6 months old, and avocados are a great way to start. Make sure your baby is not allergic to avocado or any of the following ingredients by spacing new foods four days apart so that you can spot an allergy. Nannies and other caregivers should always consult with the parents before giving the baby a new food.

Here are a few sweet and savory avocado-based baby food recipes!

Mashed Avocado (4-6 months)

What you need:
1 ripe avocado

How to make it:
Peel and pit a ripe avocado and mash with a fork. This is a great way to introduce a baby to avocados. This is also a great place to start if you want to check if a baby is allergic to avocados.

Avocado and Fruit Salad (4-6 months)

What you need:
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe banana
1 steamed pear
1 teaspoon of yogurt (for 8 months+)

How to make it:
Clean the fruits and remove the seeds. Peel and slice them into large cubes before placing them in a food processor or blender. Blend until desired texture is achieved and add a teaspoon or less of the yogurt. Serve and enjoy!

Pear and Avocado Blend (6-8 months)

What you need:
1 ripe avocado
2 ripe pears

How to make it:
Peel, core, and dice the pears. Peel and de-pit the avocado. Mash the pear with a fork and then mix in the avocado. Puree if needed. Enjoy!

Baby Guacamole (8-10 months)

What you need:
1 ripe avocado
Crushed cheerios or wheat germ
1 small pinch of garlic powder, pepper, and basil
Plain whole milk yogurt

How to make it:
Peel and pit a ripe avocado. Mash it with a fork. Add in cheerios/wheat germ and spices. Blend and fold in yogurt until a good texture is achieved. This baby guacamole is great for dipping soft cooked veggies and toast, or eating alone.

You can find more great recipes at the Wholesome Baby Food site.

(Photo courtesy of the Hass Avocado Board, who owns the copyright.)

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Ask MaryPat: Advice to a Nanny Caring for a Child Diagnosed with Autism

Dear MaryPat,

The family that you matched me with are so sweet! Charlie just turned two years old and he is such a joy though has just been diagnosed with autism. Can you tell me what this means and how I may have to adjust my approach with him? 
– Marianne
Dear Marianne,
Autism is a reasonably common disorder that often makes it hard to communicate with and relate to others. Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that there is a wide range from moderate to severe cases, and no two cases are exactly alike. It is common for a child with autism to have delayed speech and difficulty understanding body language, difficulty making eye contact, and not responding to his or her name or playing with toys in unusual, repetitive ways. Children with autism have a tendency to lose control when they are in overwhelming or frustrating situations.
I encourage you to stay in close communication with Charlie’s parents and to ask them to help educate you and include you in a plan on how to address his specific needs.
Please contact us anytime you have a question or concern.

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Meet Ada Barnes, T+C’s New Housekeeper Training Instructor

unnamed (1)Town + Country is excited to be working with Ada Barnes to help provide instruction for our Housekeeper training seminar series!

Ada has over 25 years working as a Housekeeper, Executive Housekeeper and Nanny. She has owned her own cleaning company and Town + Country has been honored to place her in five of her positions in the Bay Area. Ada started as an instructor with Town + Country in January 2015, and since then has helped provide professional development for more than 50 of our Housekeeper candidates. She has led or helped with a number of our seminars, including “Make the Kitchen, Pantry & Mud Room Sparkle,” “In the Laundry Room” and “Deep Cleaning the Bedroom and Bathroom.” She has also been instrumental in relaying the value, trust and appreciation that our clients have for the housekeeping profession. Ada currently lives on the Peninsula with her husband and two sons.

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Meet our Sponsors – Sprogs

SPROGS_0386_largeTown + Country hosted our third annual Nanny Training day. It was a great day, and we will be posting stories and pictures from the event soon! Many, many people contributed to the success of the event – especially our great sponsors, including Sprogs Rice Scooters!

Have you been lucky enough to try these awesome snacks yet? Sprogs Rice Scooters are nutritious, delicious snacking for you and your charges! We fell in love with our first bite and we were giddy with excitement that they were able to be a part of our Nanny Training Day!

Rice Scooters are fresh snacks made from specially-grown brown rice hand-pressed with veggies, protein and other yummy ingredients. Available in “Meatie,” “Veggie” (vegan and vegetarian) and “Sweetie” options, they range from 80 to 160 calories each. Sprogs FAQs says that:

“Every Rice Scooter™ is crafted from super-premium Haiga rice grown and milled in the Sacramento Valley by a company that combines traditional Japanese farming principles with the most modern milling technology. Haiga is a Japanese-style brown rice that is partially milled to remove the tough outer bran while retaining the nutritious germ. It’s easier to digest than brown rice, more nutritious than white rice and yummier than both!”

Rice Scooters are all about healthy convenience – have then on-the-go at room temperature, eat them cold or heat them up. And unopened Sprogs are safe at room temperature all day long.

Check out their website to see if Rice Scooters can be found at your local grocer, or just order them online!

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Meet our Sponsors: Small Fry Dance Club

logo_wp2We are thrilled to have Small Fry Dance Club as a partner and sponsor for Town + Country’s 3rd Annual Nanny Training Day! This year’s Nanny Training Day is right around the corner, and Small Fry Dance Club was one of our partners to pitch and to support this great annual event.

Small Fry Dance Club was founded by Jana Chapeton in 2007 as an on-site preschool dance class. Jana has a dance degree from San Francisco State University and in 2011 Jana and her husband Carlos opened their first Small Fry studio in Foster City. They developed a curriculum that was specific to the developmental needs of the preschool age group and began to win local awards, which gave them additional exposure and the ability to expand their schedule and staff.

In November 2014, they moved into a much larger space with three dance rooms that has allowed Small Fry Dance Club to expand their offerings to include classes for all age groups. The additional space also allowed them to launch Principal Creative & Performing Arts. PCPA is a creative and performing arts program for children five and up that allows dancers to be both athletes and artists. The ultimate goal of PCPA is to instill in students an intensity and drive for dance that is inspired by much more than trophies and sequins.

Today Small Fry Dance Club has over 700 actively enrolled dancers. Combined with new students in the PCPA program it makes them the largest dance school in San Mateo, and probably the Peninsula.

The number, range and schedules of their classes offers families a lot of flexibility. But of course, nothing beats their kindness and their genuine interest in your child enjoying the time spent in their studio! SFDC offers a free trial class for anyone interested in exploring their programs. Visit their web site for more information or give them a call at 650-393-5593.

And of course, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up for T+C’s Nanny Training Day!

Great Bay Area Spring and Summer Activities for Kids!

1469309 FB CoverSpring has sprung and Town + Country wants to share a few ideas we have for activities and outings in the Bay Area. With summer quickly approaching, we also included some ideas for the summer months. We wish you and your charges lots of fun in the coming months!

Activities for this SPRING!

Visit the SS Jeremiah O’Brien Museum! The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of two remaining fully functional Liberty ships of the 2,710 built and launched during World War II. If your charges are interested in ships and boats, this will be perfect!
Where: San Francisco
Cost: $12 for adults, $6 for children 5-12, free for children 5 and under

How about the We Rock the Spectrum” Kid’s Gym. This children’s gym provides a fun and motivational environment that helps in the areas of movement, communication, social interactions, and sensory processing. It is open to all children, of all ages.
Where: Berkeley
Cost: An All-day Pass is $20

Have you taken your charges to the Jelly Belly Factory Tour? Who doesn’t love jelly beans – this is a great tour that excites children and adults alike! You will even take home free Jelly Belly samples. Tour lasts approximately 40 minutes and daily tours are offered from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Where: Fairfield
Cost: Free!

Activities for this SUMMER!

Woodminster Summer Musicals presents Mary Poppins! Bring you charges to watch a live musical version of this family classic. Woodminster is located in the Oakland hills and is a beautiful setting year-round. Bring a sweater, as it often gets chilly!
Where: Oakland
When: July 10-19
Cost: Ticket prices range from $28 to $59 per person, depending on seating. Children 16 and younger receive a $2 discount per ticket.

Bay Area Children’s Theatre presents “Fancy Nancy, The Musical.” If your charges love the  “Fancy Nancy” books, this musical will be sure to amaze them. The musical is 70 minutes long, including intermission. Don’t forget to play dress up and come in your fanciest get-up!
Where: Berkeley, San Ramon, Mill Valley and San Francisco
When: April 11-June 21
Cost: $22 for Adults and $18 for children

Take a drive to the West Wind Drive-in Movie Theatre. Pack the car with kettle corn, drinks, and snacks to watch a classic children’s movie or a summer blockbuster. The theater is currently playing the new Spongebob Squarepants movie and Paddington. Check the links below for specific movies & showtimes.
Where: Bay Area locations in Concord and San Jose
Cost: $7.50 General Admission, $1 for children 5-11 years old, Free for children 5 years old and younger

March Housekeeper Seminar – Becoming Laundry Pros!

IMG_5463At the beginning of March, Town + Country hosted our second Housekeeper seminar of the year. “In the Laundry Room” focused on how to fine tune your skills in the laundry room. One of Town + Country’s leading Executive Housekeepers, Ada Barnes, shared her tips for caring for delicate items, reading clothing & laundry labels and tackling tough stains.

Each attendee had the opportunity for hands-on training by taking turns ironing various items and getting instruction on folding some of the more difficult items in the home – think fitted sheets! We love spending time with all these great Housekeepers during our Saturday seminars. And they were clearly also excited to get together, share past experiences and exchange valuable housekeeping information. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of learning had by all!

We’re really looking forward to our next seminar in May and we’re hoping for another full class! Be sure and “like” our Town + Country Resources Facebook page for current updates on the upcoming seminars.

Remember, seminar attendees don’t have to be T+C candidates. Invite your friends, and if they meet our requirements and get placed in a T+C referred job for 30 days, we will give you a referral bonus of $200!

We can’t wait to see you in May!

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Meet Thomas!

unnamedThomas is a Household Manager with a long history of working in private homes. He is an effective professional with some amazing experience who has earned praise for his reliability and communication skills. Town + Country has certainly enjoyed working with Thomas, and we’d love to have you learn more about him!

One of his previous employers said, “Thomas’ strengths were his good nature and the fact that he did not allow himself to become rattled in challenging situations. He is also very capable of working independently with little supervision.” Thomas’ positions have required him to manage household staff, assist with travel and event planning and provide Chauffeur services to his clients and prepare meals.

Thomas takes a very hands-on approach to his work and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He has a broad range of experience and skills that includes proper care of antiques, silver, furniture and fine clothing. He is also very tech savvy, assisting his clients on both Mac and PCs, as well as being well versed in the Adobe Creative Suite.

Get to know Thomas:

What is your most prized possession? What couldn’t you live without?
Possessions are replaceable. What I treasure most is my husband, our sweet baby girl (dog), our family and our friends … they are irreplaceable.

What motivates you?
Self improvement motivates me.

If you could paint a picture of any scenery you’ve personally seen what would it be?
The lavender fields of Provence.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
Any fictional character that can fly. I’ve had a recurring dream since I was a child that I could fly … what an amazing feeling.

What is one of your favorite quotes?
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow their vision wherever it takes them” – J.F.K., 1963

What event, past, present or future, would you be a part of if given the chance?
This is a really difficult question, and even more difficult to narrow down to one place and time. Tthere are so many. I guess it would be the start of our nation, and to meet our Founding Fathers.

10 Tips for Being the Best Nanny You Can Be!

2073687Being a Nanny is a profession, and being thoughtful about your profession and working to always improve your skills will help you be the best Nanny you can be.

  1. Look on the bright side! Not only will choosing to think positively help your own personal happiness, it will also help your charges thrive. Children naturally see the good in situations – go ahead, join em’!
  2. Put the phone away. Putting your phone away allows you to truly be engaged with your charges. Whether it be in that game of Candy Land or while preparing a meal, focus on the present and allow yourself to be the engaged, super-star nanny you’re capable of!
  3. Snack healthy. Let’s face it, we all love to snack. Help teach your charges good habits early. Substitute the chips with an apple, or fries with carrots. Allow the kids to make fun shapes and designs with their fresh fruits and veggies. The kids will appreciate the creativity and the parents will be more than grateful for the thought.
  4. Get outside! Enjoying the outdoors with your charges far surpasses a day in front of the television. Fresh air never hurt anyone.
  5. Encourage creativity. Whether it be in the home with a fun craft or out in nature, allow your charges to be their incredible, unique self.
  6. Plan ahead. Before heading in to work, plan fun activities and games to do with your charges. Children thrive when they are kept busy with fun, productive activities.
  7. Arrive on-time. The term “on-time” can be a bit deceiving. Being on-time is actually code for “arrive a few minutes early” – unless they tell you specifically otherwise. Impress your employers with your promptness and reliability.
  8. Get your eight hours. Children oftentimes have more energy than you! Set yourself up for success by arriving on the job rested and refreshed.
  9. Allow your inner-child to shine. Children love to be played with instead of just watched from the sidelines. Get out there and not only be their nanny, be their friend.
  10. Love what you do. Figure out a way to love what you do and it will no longer feel like a “job.”

Ask MaryPat – “Will I get reimbursed for miles & supplies?”

FAN9035673Dear MaryPat,

I absolutely love my new job! I love little Katie and I’m happy with the schedule and the pay. Thanks for helping me find this job! There is one problem though. Mrs. Smith told me that she would pay for the gas in my car and that she would give me a little spending money to buy food and art supplies for projects but she hasn’t offered me anything yet and I’ve been in the job for three weeks now. I am spending my own money and am getting concerned. What should I do?

– Julia

Dear Julia,

I know that it can be hard to talk about money, but since you are new to the job and the relationship, this is the ideal time for you to address your concerns. Mrs Smith told you that she intended to pay for these expenses, which she should, so let’s let her do so.

You can ask her if you can have a brief meeting to check in on a couple of things. Just like you did in your note to me, start with the positives and let her know how happy you are. Then very clearly ask her how she would like to handle gas and spending money. You can suggest that you could keep a mileage log to be reimbursed for the driving. Mrs. Smith should be reimbursing you for your miles driven on the job at the rate of 57.5 cents per mile. This reimbursement would not include the miles you drive to get to your job or to drive home when you’re done, only the miles you drive once you’re on the job – picking the kids up, running errands, etc. Remember also that this mileage reimbursement rate is set by the IRS, and it typically changes every year.

For the art supplies and stuff like that, perhaps you could arrange to have an envelope with petty cash for food and supplies. You can turn in receipts and keep a list of spending.

We recommend that everyone have a written Work Agreement that outlines pay, reimbursement, time off and job responsibilities. If Mrs. Smith has not put one together then please let her know that you would find it helpful to have a written agreement. Town + Country has a template that we can share with all of you.

Once you have this conversation I expect that you will see it is best to be honest, timely and direct with your employer. I am sure you will have good results!

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