2013 Ultimate Au Pair Finalist Sandra from Germany

2013 Ultimate Au Pair Finalist Sandra from Germany

As we head into the second year of having Sandra as part of our household, I could not adequately find the words to describe how important she has become to our family. Our household is one comprised of two career professionals: one a Marine officer and one a corporate executive whose schedules always keep us on the go with frequent travel that is often overseas. Because of this, we find ourselves ever reliant upon Sandra to help make sure that the trains at home continue to run on time. More than just a caretaker for the children, Sandra can always be counted upon to help de-conflict all of the busy schedules as she helps to ensure that we don't miss out on the events that are so important to allowing us all to connect as a family. Routinely she will send photos or video clips during the day showing off what the kids are up to, which helps us to feel connected throughout the course of the day. These small, but thoughtful actions make it easy for us to seamlessly transition into parent mode when we get home at the end of a busy day at work.

These small, but thoughtful actions make it easy for us to seamlessly transition into parent mode when we get home at the end of a busy day at work.

Caring for our six year old boy Mason and five year old girl Sydney can be challenging, but Sandra was able to capture their hearts and earn their respect from the outset. Her disciplined approach to ensuring that the kids adhere to the household rules, combined with a nurturing aura, is part of what makes Sandra the consummate teacher, coach and mentor to the children. More than just an au pair, we have come to consider Sandra a part of the parenting team and a critical piece of what has allowed for us to thrive as a family.

When Sandra first arrived we expressed to her that reading to the kids was something that we had always stressed an importance on. Sandra truly took these words to heart, and whenever there was a break in the action you could be certain that she would exercise initiative, pull out a book and start reading to the kids. After a year, Sandra can still always be found with children's books on her; however, now we are warmed to see that Sandra has the children reading to her almost as frequently as she is reading to them.

While most do not think of first or second grade as being academically challenging, our six year old comes home from school with homework each day of the week. It is Sandra that sits down with him after practice to make sure that he understands what the teacher expects for each assignment and to help by showing him examples of how to perform the various tasks. This has been instrumental in building Mason's confidence in school, which has helped him to thrive in his composite class of first and second graders, and serves as the greatest reason why Mason consistently receives perfect scores on the weekly spelling tests that he takes in class.

Whether it is taking the kids to school, dropping off and picking the them up from swimming or karate lessons, or coming up with arts and crafts projects that allow for the kids to express themselves in creative ways, Sandra can always be relied upon to ensure that Mason and Sydney are looked after as if they were her own. Most parents are accustomed to receiving feedback from teachers or coaches about how their children are doing, but we have grown accustomed to teachers, coaches and other parents commenting on how wonderful Sandra is with the kids. Sandra's value extends beyond just what she does for our family, which is perhaps one of the reasons why we all truly admire her. She has served as a cherished friend and confident to her peers and has repeatedly reached out to, and assisted other girls in the program during periods when they have faced difficult adjustment periods that are a function of being far away from home, or when they have had problems adjusting to the expectations of their host families.

In short, Sandra has a big and caring heart that everyone that interacts with her can quickly see. Our family feels that she is very special to us, and we know that if you had the opportunity to spend time with her you would feel the very same way. We ask a lot of Sandra, yet she always exceeds our expectations. For these reasons as well as the many other little things that she does on a daily basis, we feel that Sandra is the embodiment of what any family would want their ideal au pair to be, and that is why I believe that she is deserving of being honored as the Ultimate Au Pair.

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