Friday, October 28, 2011

Unemployment: A Real Life Story

From our friends at Breedlove and Associates . . .

With a record number of claims for unemployment benefits over the past few years, state agencies have become increasingly vigilant about protecting taxpayer assets from fraud. This recent case illustrates the importance of diligent record-keeping and accurate reporting.

One of our clients terminated her employee, Claudia. Within a couple of weeks, we received a notice from the Colorado Department of Labor indicating that Claudia had filed for and was receiving unemployment benefits. This particular notice asked for the employer to respond with Claudia's last day worked and her wages earned during the current quarter.
We provided the client with the requested information, along with copies of all her payroll documents. The documents gave a detailed listing of the exact number of hours worked each week as well as the date of last wages paid and Claudia's severance check amount. The client forwarded the documents to the Department of Labor.
A few weeks later, we received another notice from the state on behalf of the client. It stated that Claudia had given false information when she applied for the unemployment benefits from the state.

The Law
When an employee is let go from a job due to no fault of her own, she has the option to apply for unemployment benefits from the state. The state then goes through a verification process to decide whether or not she is eligible to receive the financial aid. The claimant (employee) is generally NOT eligible to collect benefits if she left employment for one of the following reasons:
  1. She voluntarily quit
  2. She was discharged with cause
  3. She already has another job
  4. She was hired as a student during school vacation
The employer is asked to either affirm or refute the compensation and termination details as provided by the employee. If the employer does not respond to the notice by the deadline, the state assumes the employee's side of the story is correct and the corresponding benefits are awarded.

The Outcome
Since the client was able to provide detailed copies of the payroll documents, the state case worker was able to make a prompt determination about Claudia's benefits without any additional involvement from the employer. (If employers are not able to provide clear and compelling payroll records, they typically get consumed by meetings with the case worker to iron out the discrepancies).
In this case, Claudia had intentionally misrepresented her termination date as well failed to report the severance pay in an effort to get more money from the state. The state launched an investigation about the misrepresentation of wages as reported by Claudia.
They found that the under-representation was intentional, and they disqualified her from receiving any future benefits for a specified amount of time. Additionally, Claudia was required to repay the benefits she had already received from Colorado with interest.

How the Whole Thing Could Have Been Avoided
In this case, the family did everything right. As a result, they were able to avoid serious tax evasion problems -- Claudia's filing for unemployment would have triggered an audit if they had been paying her "under the table." Also, by keeping timely and accurate payroll records, the family was able to avoid getting entangled in time-consuming "he-said, she-said" meetings with the state Department of Labor.


If you have additional questions, please call 888-BREEDLOVE (273-3356) or visit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Traditions

As a child we had several Halloween traditions. Some of these I passed onto my past nanny family of 20 + years and they adopted them. They also developed their own traditions. So here is a summary of the blending of some fun customs you may also enjoy!

Carving Pumpkins
This is a given for many families but we took it a bit further by having each child and adult in the household carve at least three and sometimes four pumpkins for our annual display. When the children were small they drew their design or face on their pumpkins and the adults did all the carving. Once they were old enough to use the plastic carving "saws" we let them do most of the work. Each year we'd chose a tall pumpkin and a large round pumpkin to carve Bert and Ernie (from Sesame Street). Once we get all our happy, scary, fun pumpkins carved we'd get them out on Halloween day to set up our display. We use holiday twinkle lights in our pumpkins - they are safe and a long string of them can light most many pumpkins. It made the house a favorite stop for the neighborhood for many years!

Spider Cracker Snack
After rest time or school we'd make Spider Crackers for our snack. You'll need two crackers of you choice for the body, Chinese noodles for the legs, raisins for the eyes and a nut butter or spreading cheese for the insides. Spread the cheese or nut butter onto one cracker, attach "legs" and top with second cracker. Stick "eyes" on with the cheese or butter and there you go! These snacks are easy to assemble and fun for children to make. We'd always have several on a plate for their parents to munch on when they got home from work.

Chili Dinner
This is something my mother always did for us and I started doing for my employer family - making a hearty chili dinner before going out Trick-or-Treating. My mother never wrote down a recipe and thus the final product was often different from one time to the next. I, of course, do it the same way. The basics are ground turkey or beef, a variety of beans of your choice (I like chili beans, black beans and kidney beans), tomato sauce and seasonings to taste. Served with shredded cheeses and /or sour cream and wheat bread, it really makes a full meal. A great warm start to an exciting evening.

Pumpkin Pie
After a night of Trick-or-Treating at the neighbors everyone would come back together for a slice of pumpkin pie and warm up by the fireplace. We'd take this time to hear all about the fun, inspect and sort out their candy. They could have one candy treat but often the pie was the bigger draw. It it was an especially cold night we might also serve hot apple cider or hot chocolate. I remember it as a sweet time to be together before heading off to bed.

We'd love to hear about your traditions!! Won't you share with everyone by making a comment?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Information You May Find Valuable

Recently the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come out with updated information about Media Use for Children Under Two and Safe Sleep Recommendations. You may find their website helpful. This is a great site for parents, family members and nannies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics—an organization of 60,000 pediatricians committed to the attainment of optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Their website is

Media Use for Children Under 2:
Safe Sleep Recommendations:
ADHD in Children:
Archived Articles:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween Costume Ideas

Need a little creative jump start or a little inspiration? Here are several websites with costume ideas for children. Many of these are no sew and easy to assemble. This could be just what you need to come up with a creative solution of your own!

I've enjoyed using the ideas that start with a sweathirt or hoodie and sweatpants or leggings. They are comfortable and warm. If you buy them a little large they can still get another warm shirt or pant under them if needed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Safety Tips

  • Bright and/or Reflective - consider adding reflective tape to costume or treat bags
  • Shoes that fit well
  • Costumes short enough to prevent tripping or entanglement
  • Non-toxic makeup and decorative hats are safer than a mask that can limit range of vision. If using a hat it should fit properly so it doesn't slide over the eyes
  • Costumes made using hoodie sweatshirts and sweatpants are very comfortable, warm and easy to make yourself
  • If purchasing costumes, make sure everything is labeled flame resistant
  • Look for accessories that are safe for the child and others
  • Flashlights for escorts and/or children should have fresh batteries
Pumpkin Decorations
  • Small children can draw the face on their pumpkin with a marker leaving the carving to an adult
  • Consider a flashlight, glow stick or twinkle lights instead of a candle to light your pumpkin
  • If using a candle, a votive is the safest choice
  • Candle lit pumpkins should be located on a sturdy surface and away from flammable objects and should not be left unattended
Trick or Treat Safety at Your Home
  • Keep your home safe to visiting children by making sure that the porch, front yard or driveway area is clear of obstacles (toys, bikes, decorations, garden hose, etc.)
  • Make sure outdoor lights are in working order and provide enough light for young children and parents to walk
  • Leaves can be slipery, so it's best to have them swept from sidewalk, porch or steps
  • Make sure pets are secure for their safety and the safety of trick-or-treaters
Out and About Safety Tips
  • Children should always be accompanied by an adult
  • If older children are going alone, preview their route and agree on a time to return + stay with their group at all time + consider having a cell phone with the group
  • Only go to homes with a light on and never enter a home
  • Use the sidewalk and travel on well lit streets
  • Don't cut across yards or travel up alleys - especially for older children out together
  • Cross street at established crosswalks and corners - never between parked cars
Halloween Health
  • A good meal prior to parties or trick-or-treating will help discourage children from filling up on Halloween treats
  • Children should return home to sort and check treats with adult supervision
  • Non-food treats are a nice option to hand out at your home - pens, pencils, crayons and coloring books or stickers can be a nice alternative
  • Non-sweet treats are another option - packages of crackers, raisins, sugar-free gum, cheese sticks or even a juice box
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween

Monday, October 17, 2011

CPR and First Aid Opportunity - Twin Cities Area

Twin Cities Professional Nannies are hosting a
CPR and First Aid Update Training
Saturday, November 5 from 9 AM to 3 PM
Maplewood Professional Building - next to St. John's Hospital
1655 Beam Avenue   Suite 202
Maplewood MN 55109

Registration is required!

If you are interested contact us at and we'll forward you
the registration form and contact information.
TCPN members receive a discount.
You can become a TCPN member and get the discount all in one!
This event is open to everyone - you don't have to be a nanny to participate.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tantrums, Fussing, Whining: Oh My!

Parents and nannies often find the most frustrating discipline problems during early childhood to be managing tantrums, fussing and whining. Here are some ideas to help get a handle on them.

Emotional Control: Most often these behaviors are caused by a child’s inability to express or control his emotions. Tiredness, hunger, boredom, frustration and other causes can frequently be avoided or modified. Observation of those underlying issues will help you get your child back to their happy self.

Choices: You may be able to avoid problems by giving your child more of a say in his life. You can do this by offering choices. Instead of saying, “Get ready for bed right now,” which may provoke a tantrum, offer a choice, “What would you like to do first, put on your pajamas or brush your teeth?” Children who are busy deciding things are often happy.

Eye-to-eye Communication: When you make a request from a distance your child will likely ignore you. Noncompliance creates stress, which leads to fussing and tantrums – from both of you. Instead, get down to your child’s level, look them in the eye and make clear, concise requests. This gets their attention.

List of DO’s: Instead of focusing on misbehavior and what you don’t want them to do, explain exactly what you’d like your child to do or say instead. Give simple instructions to follow and then praise results. Remember “thank you” goes a long way.

Validate Feelings: Help your child identify and understand their emotions. Give words to feelings, “You’re sad. You want to stay here and play. I know.” This doesn’t mean you must give in to the request, but communicating that you understand can help keep things calm.

Distraction/Redirection: Children can easily be distracted when a new activity is suggested. If your child is whining or fussing try viewing it as an “activity” that your child is engaged in. Since children aren’t very good at multi-tasking you might be able to redirect them with a recommendation of something different to do.

Call on the Imagination: If a child is upset about something, it can help to vocalize his fantasy of what he wishes would happen: “I bet you wish we could buy every single toy in this store.” This can become a fun game.

Prevention: Review desired behavior prior to leaving the house, or when entering a public building, or before you begin a playdate. This might prevent the whining or tantrum from even beginning. Put your comments in the positive (tell what you want, not what you don’t want) and be specific.

When It’s Over, It’s Over: After an episode of misbehavior is finished let it go and move on. Don’t feel you must teach a lesson by withholding your approval, love or company – or with a lecture. Children bounce right back, and it is okay for you to bounce right back, too.