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Archive for September, 2012

Svenska: En smoothie år 2009

(Bluebery smoothie, Wikipedia, Public Domain)

It can be a challenge to make fresh fruits and vegetables a regular and well-loved part of a young child’s diet, but fruit smoothies are a favorite for children of all ages. Below is a “generic” smoothie recipe that allows a cultural au pair to make quick and flexible smoothies for home lunches and snacks. Be sure to supervise young children carefully, if they help make their own smoothies.

First you need a blender.

  • For each smoothie serving, peel and slice one banana and place it in the blender. (Tip: If the banana has been frozen, it will chill and thicken the smoothie).
  • To the banana add a handful of seasonal or frozen berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, singly or as a mixture).
  • Add liquid to cover the fruit. Fruit juices of various kinds (e.g., apple, orange, grape) work well. Soy, almond, or rice milks are another possibility. Experiment with less liquid to make a thick smoothie, or more liquid to make a thin smoothie.

Extra nutritional supplements may be added as desired, to personalize a smoothie. Young children may prefer the plain ingredients above. Older children, who need extra energy for school athletics or other activities, may develop a taste for added ingredients below.

  • Wheat germ increases available B vitamins
  • Bee pollen (watch carefully for allergies with young children) is favored by some to increase general nutritional content
  • Protein powder (e.g., soy, rice, or whey protein depending on desire or sensitivity) adds amino acids that support protein synthesis
  • Spirulina or other greens powders add minerals
  • Juice blends (e.g. ginger and Echinacea) provide gentle levels of herbal ingredients

Blend all ingredients until well mixed. For further information and ideas, you may also enjoy visiting Smoothieweb.

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The prevalence of childhood asthma in the Unit...

(Childhood Asthma, Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Sloan Barrett (2008), in her book Green Goes With Everything, discusses the potential value of using less chemically processed products in the home—especially in caring for a child or baby. For those cultural au pairs and Host Families who prefer a less toxic lifestyle, due to allergies or simple preference, Barrett offers a wide variety of information.

Barrett’s choice of green and nontoxic lifestyle came as a result of an emergency that occurred with her son. When Spencer was three years old, he began to cough. Then his heart began to race wildly. Emergency room doctors responded with strong drugs and a stay in the intensive care unit. Spencer had developed reactive asthma.

As she researched, Barrett learned that asthma is epidemic in the United States. Ashtma has increased 160 per cent in children under 5 since 1980, and some epidemiological studies believe cleaning products are involved (p. 2). Children and babies are more vulnerable because they are smaller, and their immune systems are growing.

Barrett’s book is one of a variety of such titles on the market presently, but it is clearly written, logically organized, and supported. Barrett’s provides a wide variety of credible government and additional references and resources.

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Barrett, S. (2008). Green goes with everything: Simple steps to a healthier life and a cleaner planet. NY: Atria.

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play-thumbnail

(photos-public-domain.com, Public Domain Image)

Cultural au pairs often provide enrichment and learning experiences for their Host Children. Below is an activity that targets 1 of the 3 most common learning styles, visual learning.

Homemade Play Dough

Visual art is a creative learning experience for children. It doesn’t matter if they create a masterpiece according to adult standards. It simply matters that they are involved in creating with color and shape.

  • 1 ½ cups flour (use different kinds of flour if the child has food allergies)
  • ¾ cups salt (sea salt is plain, without additives)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (olive and coconut store for a long time)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  •  Natural food coloring to suit

Mix ingredients in a pan. Heat slowly until dough “forms.” Remove from heat and stir until the play dough has a “finished” texture. Store refrigerated in a resealable plastic bag.

Encourage the children to create figures and scenes, using different colors to make them realistic. Additional learning styles become part of this activity as the dough is kneaded (kinesthetic), and a story is told out loud (auditory).

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English: Recreation of the flag of the city of...

Flag of the city of Allentown Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

Each local area representative (LAR) for Go Au Pair has a unique personality that shows in the content of his/her blog. The Go Au Pair Allentown blog is a model of practical information that begins at the top with a navigation bar leading to the Newsroom (topics of current interest, including reports and pictures of Family Days), U.S. Department of State Regulations (required to be followed by all cultural au pairs and Host Families) and U.S. locations where GoAuPair is active.

Two especially interesting videos are embedded in the Newsroom page. The first video features a local television discussion among Erin Mortensen (LAR for Utah), a host mom, and a Go Au Pair cultural au pair. The second video is a discussion with Go Au Pair’s International Director, Meghan Ramirez, regarding the benefits to families and au pairs alike who participate in the cultural au pair program.

Awards won by Go Au Pair, are also show-cased interactively.

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Community colleges in New Mexico have a strong tradition in the trades, and Clovis Community College is no exception. One program of particular interest is the Wind Energy Program.

World market for wind energy plants in 2003

World market for wind energy plants in 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia, public domain)

A cultural au pair enrolled in the Wind Energy Program receives an education in basic electrical and mechanical practices associated with wind energy. An Associate’s degree is available, as well as certificates in Industrial Electrical Systems, Industrial Machining Principles, Industrial Management, and Wind Energy.

The U.S. Government is strongly urging citizens to consider forms of renewable energy, usually solar or wind energy, to provide the power needed to run modern homes. Clovis Community College is poised in this emerging field.

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Brown Mackie College(505) 559-5200Albuquerque http://www.brownmackie.edu

Brookline College – Albuquerque Campus(505) 880-2877Albuquerque http://brooklinecollege.edu/locations/albuquerque/

Central New Mexico Community College (505) 224-3000Albuquerque http://www.cnm.edu

University of New Mexico(505) 277-0111Albuquerque http://www.unm.edu/

Clovis Community College(800) 769-1409Clovis http://www.clovis.edu

Dine’ College- Crowpoint Site(505) 368-3500Crowpoint http://www.dinecollege.edu

Luna Community College(800) 588-7232Las Vegas http://www.luna.edu

The University of New Mexico-Los Alamos (UNM)(505) 662-0344Los Alamos http://www.la.unm.edu

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Children are beautiful, but they have a LOT of energy. Sometimes we are busy and stressed. Sometimes we don’t feel well. How do we best handle these times?

Harvard Medical School Gordon Hall of Medicine...

(Harvard Medical School, Gordon Hall, Wikipedia, public domain)

Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., graduated from Harvard Medical School and now practices in Arizona. One of his specialties is mind-body medicine, which offers a lot of help with “stress.” His web page on breathing offers free first aid to cultural au pairs and Host Families.

Dr. Weil’s “4-7-8” breath is the one that most results in relaxation. To begin, place your tongue behind your upper teeth and breathe out completely through your mouth to a count of 8. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose to a count of 4. Hold to a count of 7, and breathe out again through your mouth. Repeat up to a total of four times, counting on the 8’s. Practice every day, so that relaxed breathing comes naturally when you need it.

You may also teach a child how to count his/her breath. Exaggerate the whoosh when you and your child breathe out together, to make it even more fun. Depending on your child’s age, s/he may not get it quite right, but laughter returns as tightness and tension leave.

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Albuquerque, Afonso de images

(Afonso de Albuquerque, encyclopedia.com, Public Domain)

One special aspect of the cultural au pair program is the social support it offers to participants. Each cultural au pair cluster meets regularly for participants to get to know each other, and to network successes and difficulties.

However, there is another level to cultural au pair “culture.” GoAuPair’s focus on technology provides a network of blogs in each area where GoAuPair is a presence. The first of these blogs to be discussed is local to Albuquerque, NM. The author is Gail Hanscom, LAR.

Topics of specific au pair interest on the Albuquerque blog include  DOS regulations, childcare information, and tips regarding life in a foreign country. Additional topics relate to New Mexico food, history, culture, and lifestyle.

Next week’s post in this series will introduce the GoAuPair blog in Allentown, PA.

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