Part One of our Wellness Series with Natalie Beck

IMG_8029Our Estate Staffing Division held the first of our two-part Wellness Series last week in Palo Alto. Natalie Beck, a Town + Country Chef and Registered Dietician, “nurtured the attendees’ minds and bodies.”

Natalie had an information-packed power point presentation outlining the food colors of the rainbow, discussing the nutritional benefits of each color and giving examples of different foods associated with each color. She also gave tips on how to do quick and easy food prep to get the most out of your meal every day, including adding walnuts to your salad or chia seeds in your smoothie as a way to quickly add protein and omega-3s; or putting one or two vegetables into the oven for 20 minutes before starting your meal to ensure you’ll have a delicious vegetable with dinner.

IMG_8026Of course, Natalie also gave an extensive and engaging Q&A with the attendees, and everyone left with some great tips to use at home and work and several delicious recipes to try on their own.

The second session of our Wellness Series will be in our Palo Alto office on Wednesday, July 29th from 5:45 pm to 8:00 pm. This session will focus on fostering a healthy working relationship with your employer without sharing too much of your personal life or taking their family dynamics on as your own. Town + Country Placement Counselors Kristine Lange and Shannon Riehman will lead the discussions and present information on how to help ensure effective communication, how to manage a difficult conversation with your employer, and how to set healthy work boundaries. You won’t want to miss this – we hope to see you there! Register here.

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Fun & Science at our Iridescent Learning Event!

IMG_6507Question: What’s better than a morning of hanging out with like-minded people who have the same passion for education and childcare as you? Answer: Hanging out with like-minded people who are all eager to take their passion to the next level!

That’s exactly what a group of Nannies and T+C employees did on Saturday, May 30th, at a seminar hosted by our partners at Iridescent Learning. Nannies were challenged with hands-on activities using household materials to create child-appropriate scientific projects that required planning, multiple design phases and execution. Attendees also watched empowering videos about how to encourage their charges to explore and experiment.

IMG_6493The conference room at Town + Country was filled with a lot of great conversation, laughter and most importantly, confidence to stimulate children to look at things all around in a scientific light as they engage in active play.

Town + Country is grateful to Iridescent Learning for putting on this wonderful training seminar that also helped our Nannies gain three hours toward their Curiosity Machine training model.

Meet Emily!

IMG8067Emily is a Town + Country Nanny with a passion for working with children and expanding her knowledge of child development. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Individual & Family Development from Seattle Pacific University and enjoys applying her knowledge to those with whom she works. She is a pitch-in, forward-thinker with an enthusiasm for childcare. She hopes to become fluent in French over the next couple of years. In her spare time, Emily likes to walk, read, make jewelry and cook.

One of Emily’s greatest strengths is the ability to dive right in to any situation and thrive. One of her previous employers said that what she most appreciated about Emily was that she is “genuine and super dependable. My mom joked that when Emily moved that they should come and take Emily’s place, but no one can take her place. She has a great balance of strength and vulnerability, good boundaries and a strong sense of self.  She was a wonderful role-model for our girls.”

Get to know Emily:

What’s your favorite thing about being a Nanny?
Some of my most gratifying moments being a Nanny have come after my actual time with the children. I get to hear about it from their parents. It’s in times when the kids will start to sing songs that I sang with them, and their parents will ask where they learned that song … and the response is, “Emily taught it to me…;” or when they rhyme or dance or repeat little rituals we would do together. That tells me that I had a lasting impression on them, that my moments with them mattered. Those are the reflections of the love that I gave them and that continues to be experienced.

Describe the perfect day with your charge.
One of my perfect days was getting to take 2.5 year old Fiona to the aquarium for a mermaid show. I had researched it and planned the day out. Watching the show and getting to see her face with uncontained joy and eyes of wonder was magical. She was exhausted when we came home to have lunch. She fell asleep very quickly when we read stories together in the glider chair. I remember the weight of her head on my chest and noticing when her breathing changed to a heavy, slow-sleep, breath. I think that is one of the best feelings … the weight of a cherished one on your chest.

Who’s your hero?
I have had many heroes in my life … but the one that will be my forever hero is my husband. I admire his intellect, his humility, his ability to speak truth to me and love others. He brings me so much peace and makes me understand myself better. I love journeying with him … I’m his fan!

What’s your favorite family memory?
My dad just fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams: Teaching me to surf on the perfect beginner wave at Waikiki Beach on O’ahu. I grew up listening to his stories of surfing and how one day he would teach me … and we just got to experience that together last month. We paddled out and were racing the setting sun … a memory that will forever stay with me.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
The first thing that came to mind was the ability to speak perfect French. My husband grew up in Belgium and I’ve always wished my three years of high school French translated to perfect fluency. I think to wake up tomorrow and greet the world being a Francophone would be pretty marvelous.

Meet our new Counselors!

We’ve been very busy here at Town + Country … and it’s way past time for us to give a special “T+C Blog” Welcome to four new team members who have joined us in the last couple months! The San Francisco Nanny team is pleased to welcome Allison Sigmond and Sarah Emily Bierbaum, the Housekeeping team is thrilled to have Annika Campos joining them and the Peninsula Nanny team gives a warm welcome to Livi Velazquez … professional, kind and fun, our T+C team continues to thrive!

Allison-WebGet to know Allison:
Allison was born and raised right here in Menlo Park. She graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Prior to joining T+C, Allison worked in the hospitality industry designing events to meet clients’ needs. She is excited to be on the team at T+C where she can create meaningful relationships between Nannies and families. Allison lives in Oakland with her husband and her Bernese Mountain Dog.

Allison has joined the San Francisco Nanny team as a Placement Counselor.

What makes you laugh the most?
The things that kids say, they are so genuinely honest!

What did you want to be when you were small?
I had big dreams when I was little, I wanted to be the first woman President of the United States.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I love Mexican food. I could definitely eat tacos for dinner every day for the rest of my life, no problem!

Sarah-WebGet to know Sarah Emily:
Sarah Emily was born and raised in the Bay Area. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UCLA. She worked as a Nanny through college for a family in Los Angeles. She moved back to the Bay Area in 2012 and worked for a family in San Francisco whom she still visits weekly. Sarah Emily also worked in the recruiting department at Google before starting at Town + Country. She enjoys working here because “the company helped place with me with a family I will be close to for the rest of my life. I find it so rewarding to help others make those lifelong connections.” Sarah Emily now lives in San Francisco and enjoys exploring the city, spending time outdoors and visiting her family in Sonoma County and the East Bay.

Sarah Emily has joined the San Francisco Nanny team as a Recruiting Counselor.

What are your hobbies?
I enjoy playing sports, volleyball especially. I also rock climb!

If you could meet anyone (relative or celebrity) to have coffee, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Amelia Earhart. Where did you disappear to?

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
Tough one … I would say the power to fly. Flying over traffic would be ideal!

Annika-WebGet to know Annika:
Annika grew up in the mountains of Northern California and earned her Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of California, Davis. She worked as a Nanny while attending Davis and moved to Italy right after graduation to be an au pair for a family in Rome. Once back in the US, Annika worked in the au pair placement industry for four years before joining Town + Country. She finds it rewarding to help families connect with others who will make their homes run more smoothly. Annika enjoys trying new recipes, traveling and hiking in the Bay Area with her husband.

Annika has joined the Housekeeper team as a Recruiting Counselor.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
Explore a new vacation destination with my husband.

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Moving to a foreign country where I learned the language and how to cook authentic Italian food.

How would your friends describe you?
As laid-back and a good listener with a fanatical approach to eating spicy food.

Livi-WebGet to know Livi:
Livi was born and raised in Palm Springs. She graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. Livi has many years of experience working with children, as well as working in the ABA field. She is excited to be part of the Town + Country team and enjoys helping Nannies and families find the perfect fit. Livi enjoys swimming, hiking and reading.

Livi has joined the Peninsula Nanny team as a Recruiting Counselor.

What three items would you take with you to a desert island?
A swimsuit, an iPod and a friend!

What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Finishing school.

If you were a super hero, what powers would you have?
If I were a super hero I would love to fly.

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.)

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.

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.

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!

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

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