I'll admit that I've been delaying writing this post because it is hard to talk about how excited we are to meet our new Au Pair without lots of sad feelings coming up about how much we will miss our current Au Pair. Even though this is all part of the hosting Au Pairs process, and you know the program is a year, and you know you will say goodbye, and you know you will say hello. It's that you don't know how you will feel it in your heart, the way you will feel after you have welcomed someone into your home and accepted them as a member of your family, for a year. How nice it is to have someone who lives with you and truly loves your children, who cares for them, and for you. Who supports your role as a mother and who is really an extension of the care you provide for them, not a replacement or care giving facility. She is a friend, and a family member, a care giver, and a big sister. This program is amazing and unique and so much more than I'd ever expected it to be, it really is.
Some of you know by now that Sabine, our "Bean-Bean", has decided to go back to Germany in August after finishing her year as our first Au Pair. We had invited her to stay a second year or even six more months, but she has decided to return to school in Germany and that starts for her at the end of August. (Insert many tears from me here! And many smiles and cheers from her family at home!!) We love Sabine - and it'll be hard to say good bye, it'll be hard to watch the kids say goodbye, and I'm sure I'll have a post later on this summer how bad I am at saying good bye to people I love. But for all that there is to be sad about, there is a lot to be happy about as well. We have four more weeks (as of today, GULP!) with our Bean-Bean, and we plan to really make the most of them. Summertime is upon us and that's when the fun really happens in Portland! (Okay, I'll admit I started this post 2 months ago, and at that time it was May 10 and we still had 3 months left! :) )
Sabine's hard decision left me (and Lawrence) with another hard decision. The next matching search was ON. I found myself for weeks finding many good Au Pair candidates, but not "the one". I was getting discouraged thinking that I might have to settle in one way or another. Then all at once, I got TWO great applications. Then I had TWO great interviews, and TWO great sets of answers to all my hard questions. Already, I could see how both of these girls could fit and add value to our family and provide excellent care for our kids. But finally we went with our deep down gut feeling, and the Au Pair of the two that Lawrence was more at ease talking with, Julia! (Consequently, the runner up was also named Julia, also 19, and also from Germany!) As soon as we made a decision, it was clear to us in so many ways that it was the right one, and even now as I re-read her application and her experience today, I'm more and more sure of what a wonderful year we have ahead.
We are so excited about Julia and how great she will fit into our family. I'd like to share something out of her application that really won us over (in addition to all the emails and skyping!) and that keeps sticking in my head. This is what the person at the agency who first interviewed and then recommended Julia to become an AuPair said about her as a summary:
Working with children and people, Julia is in her element. She never stops to acquire new ways of advancing children and helping them to find out their talents and strengths. Julia is patient, caring and a very comfortable personality. She is very creative in entertaining and leading children, is able to lead groups and is able to motivate and inspire them.Um, yeah! This is EXACTLY the feeling we've gotten from her, she has the perfect mix of experience and personality, of morals and humor. This summer she has gained additional experience by working with and driving handicapped children. She LOVES music and is in a band, she plays guitar, the trumpet and sings, she is very dedicated to her church in Germany, particularly the music and children's programs, she has so much experience working with large groups of children, from babies to teens. She's a great driver and has lots of experience driving kids and has taken a few driver safety/first aid courses. She has cared for families with up to 5 children and in each one, there was an infant to care for as well as older children to keep busy and entertained. Each of these families listed as a reference raved about her and stated that she "felt like a member of the familiy". Perfect.
She has a a lot of experience in working with children at all age groups, having responsibility and working independent. Julia has listed a lot of qualities an Au Pair should have and in my opinion, she has all of them! Julia is not only a very friendly and warm-hearted person, she also has a very strong character and very good values. She is very responsible and mature and can cope difficult and stressful situations with her experience and her calm and reasonable kind.
Oh - I can't tell you what a difficult decision this was. Julia made it a bit easier. As any parent out there who searches for child care knows, it's hard to know or feel if you are doing the right thing. And finding the right Au Pair for your family takes this to another level, because you are choosing someone to live in our home as a family member for one or two years AND one that will be solely responsible for your kids. After Lawrence and I made the decision that this Julia was our next AuPair we've both had a lot of peace about the decision. We KNOW we made a good decision and that she was meant to be our next AP. And it's rewarding for us to see the positive impact we get to have on a young girl's life by providing her the opportunity to live with us, perfect her English, and gain a lifetime of memories. Not to mention deal with the craziness that is Us on a daily basis! :) Yep, THIS is America! :)
We will miss our Sabine, but we realize that Julia is not a replacement for who Sabine is in our lives, but just another wonderful addition; another caring girl to bring into our children's lives; another positive role model for the girls and another fun haver. She will be good at some of the same things and good at some different things too. We will try and share all the same things that we've shared with Sabine, and we hope that she will share some of herself with us with us too, just as Sabine has done. And this will make the change, just a little bit easier and a lot more fun.
But most of all, our kids will have yet another person who comes into their lives and their 'family' circle extends a little more. And Germany becomes even more ingrained in their little hearts, somewhere that they have never been, but where they will always have great connections, as well as a place to go.