Teaching Independence

4144821Yes, it may be easier to pick up the toys, put away the laundry or put the dishes away your self, but by asking your charge to help you out you are teaching responsibility and independence.

We know you’ve heard it a hundred times, but by spending the extra few minutes now you’re helping your charge build confidence and a life-long skill of perseverance. Don’t expect things to be perfect. As a matter of fact, give up the idea that it will be.

Encourage your charge to do their best and if you’d like to see changes, try a positive approach, maybe “I hadn’t thought of doing it that way. Would you like to see how I do it?” If they’re not interested in your way, don’t stress. Enjoy the help and the smile on your charge’s face when they accomplish a task. Don’t forget to praise their efforts along the way, your approval means the world to them!

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Meet Aly Grant!

Aly-Cropped-for-webThree of Town + Country’s departments have welcomed new employees in the last couple of months, and we’re so excited to tell you about each one! Last week we introduced Tim Sherrill who joined our Estate + Executive Staffing department, and this week we would like to introduce you to Aly Grant, who has joined one of our Nanny teams as a Recruiting Counselor.

Get to know Aly:
Aly was grew up right here in the East Bay. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas, Austin … “Hook’em Horns!” While at the University of Texas, Aly worked in the Football Program in recruiting and operations. After college, she worked in Staffing Services at Google before joining Town + Country. Aly lives in Danville and enjoys spending time outdoors with her two children and husband.

If you could share a meal with any four individuals, living or dead, who would you choose?
Aside from my family, I would want to have a meal with Beyonce, Jesus, Lyndon B. Johnson, and my grandfather, whom I never got to meet.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?
I have been skydiving! But my greatest adventure is having two children, 17 months apart!

What three things do you think of the most each day?
My babies, snacks and naps!

Aly has joined the San Francisco & East Bay Nanny team as a Recruiting Counselor.

Meet Tim Sherrill!

Tim-Cropped-for-BlogTown + Country’s Estate + Executive Staffing team has a new Recruiting Counselor! We’re excited to have Tim Sherrill join the EES team in our Oakland office!

Tim grew up in Northern California and Germany. He earned Bachelor’s degrees in both English Literature and Creative Writing at California State University, San Francisco. He has worked in a wide variety of professions, most recently in the recruitment of au pairs. He enjoys recruitment as he gets to see the impact his work has on other peoples’ lives. In his free time he runs a community-based board and video gaming group, does some reading, tries his hand at cooking and spends time exploring the Bay Area.

A few questions to get to know Tim:

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
Probably spend an entire day with all my friends and family in Disneyland. It would be amazing to have everyone that I care about joining me in one of may favorite places to visit.

What’s your favorite family tradition?
St. Patrick’s Day for me is always the best. We have corned beef with all the traditional sides, talk, laugh, and raise a glass or two for loved ones who can’t be there. Comfort food centric holidays are rare in the middle of the year, and so this one is nice to have.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
Graduating with two Bachelor’s Degrees. I first graduated college in 2007 with a degree in English Literature and then returned in 2009 to get second bachelors, this time in Creative Writing. I love that I was able to balance working with pursuing education, and even graduated with honors.

Tim has joined the Estate + Executive Staffing team as a Recruiting Counselor.

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.

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.

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