Happy Valentine's Day!
If you couldn't get a sitter this Valentine's Day - why not make it a Family Valentine's Day? Here are a few ideas to make the day feel special:
1. Have a family date night
Go on a family date night. Check out one of these member recommended family and kid-friendly restaurants then do an activity like a movie or bowling.
2. Do a family movie night
Make some popcorn and have a movie night at home. Here are some family movies PSP members recommend. If you are feeling extra crafty, get the kids to decorate brown lunch bags with hearts to serve popcorn in.
3. Embrace the cold weather - together
Make the cold weather feel extra special with hot chocolate and marshmallows, lots of blankets, pillows. Why not create a family-sized fort?
4. Take a family "vacation"
If you are really fed up with this cold weather, turn your house into a summer day. Have an indoor picnic and cook up some hamburgers (or tofu dogs), make some virgin pina coladas or lemonade and stream a summer themed movie in the background - did you know there is a surfing and board sports category on Netflix? If you are feeling extra summery, pull out some Hawaiian shirts to wear. Get the kids to draw beach scenes, flowers, or anything else that reminds them of summer to decorate the house. Make s'mores or anything else that gives you that summer vibe!
5. Do a fun craft activity
Make a tree of hearts! Make and decorate all types of hearts to decorate an indoor tree or branch. Or you can also stick your hearts them on to a largee sheet of paper or turn it into a garland/ 3D mobile to hang. You could even write on each heart a thing that you love or little love poems and rhymes. (source)
6. Have a family game night
Valentine's Day is the perfect excuse for a family game night. Pull out your favorite games and enjoy spending time together.
7. Play "Find the Heart"
Play "Find the Heart." It's just like an Easter egg hunt but think of it as Cupid instead of the Easter Bunny. Hide Valentine's Day treats like chocolates, notes, heart stickers and Valentines around the house for your kids to find. (source)
8. Bake Valentine's Day Cookies or Cupcakes
Whether you want to make cookies from scratch (or hit up the cookie dough aisle at C-Town or Fairway), cut them out in heart shapes and decorate them with red or pink icing. Or stick to a classic chocolate chip, just the smell of baking is heavenly!
9. Visit a chocolate store (and find out how chocolate is made)
Visit a chocolate store like Jacques Torres in DUMBO, NuNu on Atlantic Ave, the Chocolate Room or the Cocoa Bar here in Park Slope or Mast Brothers in Willilamsburg. (source)
10. Show some love back to your community!
Donate unwanted items or your time to a local charity. Find out more about volunteering opportunities here.
What are you doing this Valentine's Day?
By Melissa De Witte
- Category: News
As part of Vision Zero, an approach that combines education, smarter streets, and strong enforcement to reduce dangerous and illegal behavior on our streets - including speeding, distracted driving, and failure to yield to pedestrians, the 78th Precinct conducted a sting operation this week. During the sting they gave tickets to drivers who "failed to yield" to pedestrians in crosswalks.
The law says that once a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk cars should yield to the pedestrian. For example, they shouldn't try to shoot ahead
before they get into the crosswalk if the car is turning left for example.
Failure to yield is the cause of 50% of pedestrian/vehicle incidents (according to a woman I spoke to at the DOT).
More to come about how the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership (PSSSP) is trying to keep the neighborhood safer. In the meantime, like us on Facebook:
(PSP, part of the PSSSP!)
Here is more information about the sting:
If you’ve never taken the kids to the Chinese New Year Parade, put it on your bucket list of family excursions in New York City! It’s the Year of the Horse!
Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival
February 2, 2014 at 1 p.m., Little Italy and Chinatown
Starting in Little Italy and going through Chinatown to Sara D. Roosevelt Park at Canal and Forsyth streets. Dancing dragons and lions, floats and drummers will be part of the parade that ends with craft and food stalls in the park.
Every day, 5 children New York City children are hit by cars. Every 10 seconds, a New Yorker suffers a traffic related injury. And every 30 hours, someone dies in car crash in NYC.
On Sunday, January 26 at 4:30pm (rain or shine!) join Vision Zero, a traffic safety initiative to honor those lost in traffic accidents. The vigil will be held at the intersection of Wyckoff, Palmetto and Mrytle Avenues (map here, outside the Mrytle-Wyckoff subway station on the L line). Read more about the event on their Facebook page.
The date marks the one-year anniversary since 23 year-old Ella Bandes was tragically killed by an MTA bus.
Further reading: Be sure to review Park Slope Parents Pedestrian Safety Tips with your family.
January 19, 2014
Dear PSP Community,
Let us start by saying--- the overwhelming majority of nannies and house cleaners are honest, trustworthy, and reliable. We start with that fact since listing situations where people are less than honest may make these situations seem more common than they are. We felt, however, that it was important to share these recent situations with you as a reminder to do your due diligence when it comes hiring someone to work in your home. Here are some situations that occurred within the PSP community over the past year:
--Nannies fired for stealing. There are two cases that we were alerted to. In one case an employer was suspicious that the nanny was stealing things such as jewelry, socks, and underwear. The employer confronted the nanny (after contacting the 78th precinct, who said they receive quite a few inquiries about this). The nanny confessed and returned many of the family’s items (via a pawn broker). Needless to say, the family was left shaken. In the end the employer did not file charges against the nanny.
In the second case the nanny was suspected of stealing, it was confirmed, the nanny has been arrested and a court date has been set. (NOTE: Neither nanny was hired off the PSP Classifieds and in the second case the employer felt that since the website they used did a background check they didn’t need to do further investigation. Upon some Googling it was clear that there were red flags they should have spotted.)
--Nanny and disappearing liquor. An employer suspected a nanny of stealing cognac out of the liquor cabinet. Her hunch was correct and the nanny was fired.
--Nanny not stealing, but nanny’s friend was. There was an employer who suspected her nanny of stealing but it turned out it was another nanny who was at the house for a play date who was stealing.
--Snooping software installed on a nanny’s phone. Someone on one of our baby groups posted that they helped a nanny remove snooping software that tracks texts, phone calls, etc. that was installed by the nanny’s employer.
--False posts and illegitimate references. A caregiver signed up as multiple references and posted recommendations about her ‘great nanny’-- herself. Upon confrontation by Park Slope Parents & intervention with the DA, she claimed she had their permission to post on their behalf. None of the recommenders ever came forward or contacted us to corroborate. The caregiver and the other identities/aliases are banned from PSP and all her recommendations purged.
--Nanny hired based on a false references. A nanny (previously banned from PSP) contacted someone who posted an “ISO Nanny post.” The nanny offered references that didn’t quite check out but somehow seemed “reasonable enough”. It turns out the employer hired the nanny through false references. Upon discovery, the employer fired the nanny “with cause.” The nanny is now seeking unemployment and the employer is dealing with the Department of Labor to fight the case.
What can be done?
Park Slope Parents continually does its best to screen posts and catch fake references. We vet our posts for authenticity, matching our records with information submitted, cross-checking with other posts made by the employer, searching Craigslist, Facebook and even LinkedIn to validate identities. If questionable, we contact the reference/employer for verification. Moreover, false nanny posts are considered “false advertising” under Section 190.20 of the New York State Penal Law, which is a Class A misdemeanor and punishable to up to a year in jail. We work closely with the 78th Precinct, the District Attorney’s office, and Brad Lander’s office to make sure that we are doing what we can to protect the community from false advertising - especially as it involves our children’s safety.
We do not have a “Black List” of nannies-- it’s legally and morally problematic (even the blog “I Saw Your Nanny” is no longer active). We do not condone snooping software and nanny cams (we feel you should inform them), although we understand there may be incidents where this is necessary. We DO reach out to employers if there is illegal behavior (like stealing) to see if we can help. However it is ultimately up to the employer to press charges (or not).
You need to do your part. While it can be uncomfortable checking up on someone who seems perfectly nice, has worked for a friend, or is a friend of a friend, it’s a discomfort you should overcome to keep your children (as well as your belongings and home) safe. If something does happen and you just “want the situation over with”, charging someone with a crime is a great way to help keep a searchable paper trail on people who are behaving illegally while protecting other families from falling victim to the same crime in the future.
Here is a checklist of things YOU CAN DO to avoid hiring nannies/caregivers who may be problematic
-Check multiple references, meeting them in person if possible. Ask detailed questions and request examples of their "glowing" abilities. If they can't come up with specific examples you may have a ringer. Do not rely on written recommendations.
-Search Google, Craigslist, Facebook, and LinkedIn for references to the nanny’s identity
-Search Google, Craigslist, Facebook, and LinkedIn for references to the reference’s identity. Knowing more about who has employed the nanny in the past can give you insight into the type of situation in which the nanny worked and the people the nanny worked for.
-Do your own investigation, even if you are using a service or website who conducts “background checks.” Background checks may only reveal convictions and not arrests, and for someone who will work in your home you probably want to know about both. Knowing as much as you can helps you make informed decisions.
-Rely on employers to contact you rather than nannies themselves on Park Slope Parents. Recommenders are NOT supposed to be forwarding your information to their nanny but contacting potential employers directly.
-Request an ID and documentation of potential employees to confirm identity and address. If they indicate they use multiple names (married, nickname, etc.) ask for documentation and keep a record of it.
-Consider asking for a reference beyond the employer. If they have past work experience outside of being a nanny, ask for a reference from a former boss. If they have been in school, ask to speak with a former teacher.
-Alter details when you talk to the references and see if the reference corrects you. Consider changing the age or sex of the children or where the people live ("You are the family in Cobble Hill, right?”). If they don't correct or catch the error this is a big red flag.
-Ask the references about where they had put up advertisements and recommendations for the nanny.
-Do a background check. Although this has limitations it can be illuminating and money well spent.
-Double check facts given by the nanny and the reference about the working situation (e.g., names/ages of children, dates worked, employers' job, etc.).
-Ask tough questions, even if it’s uncomfortable.
It’s also important to be smart and safe in your home. While you may trust your nanny, you may not always know who comes to drop off or pick up your kids from a play date. Here are some reminders:
Hide valuables. Keep valuables out of sight and keep things in places that don’t invite temptation.
Mark your valuables (use a police engraver when possible). The NYPD has an Operation ID program where they will lend you their engraver.
Conceal prescriptions. If you have medications that are re-sellable, consider buying a small box with a lock to store prescription medications. At the very least keep them out of sight.
Limit key access. Keep access to your apartment limited and inventory your keys. (Some nannies actually don’t want to keep a key to their employer’s apartment so they won’t be suspect if something happens.)
Have emergency contact numbers. Ask for an emergency number for your nanny. It could save their life or could help you track down a problem person.
Do random spot checks. Come home (or to a class, or the park) at times the nanny is not expecting it.
Talk to your local NYPD Precinct Community Affairs Officer. They can help guide you through your options if you run into issues related to criminal activity.
FINALLY--- Don’t shrug off that uneasy feeling. Do trust your instincts if you feel something isn’t quite right. Investigate until you feel that you are satisfied. Even people we trust can turn out to be deceiving us.
We hope that you all have fabulous relationships with your nannies or house cleaners free of incident. These incidents are few and far between, but taking the right precautions will help alleviate much of the worry. Finally, trusting your gut when things seem amiss will help keep everyone safe!
Founder, Park Slope Parents
Melissa De Witte