From the first week she arrived in California, our au pair Paola has been a blessing to our entire family. She is incredibly caring, kind, thoughtful, funny, nurturing and flexible, and her sunny, positive attitude brightens our lives on a daily basis. My husband and I work from home, and both delight in the sound of the genuine laughter that floats down to our office from the family room when Paola does art projects and plays board games with our children after school. Even on her days off, Paola often chooses to join our family for hikes and trips to museums, wanting to experience as much culture and beauty as she possibly can during her time in America.
We have experienced too many special moments together to count. From birthing butterflies this summer, to welcoming a new puppy to our home this fall, to celebrating Birthdays and holidays together this winter, Paola's calming and optimistic presence in our lives truly makes our family feel complete. When we make our gratitude toasts around the dinner table each night (where Paola always finds something heart-warming to contribute), the gratitude we feel for having matched with an au pair who brings so much joy to our family is usually one of the first things we mention. Another one of Paola's many great qualities is that she is a fabulous communicator. Whether it be clarifying house rules, understanding how we specifically want our children disciplined or making sure that we are fully aware of her plans during her free time, Paola is always courteous, direct and flexible.
When Paola is taking of our children, her genuine love for them and concern for their well-being is palpable. She often talks about how spending time caring for them reminds her of what it felt like to help raise her own younger brother and sister, and when our family goes away without Paola, whether for a day trip or a long weekend, when we come back to the house she always greets us with a huge smile and tells us how much she missed us and how happy she is that we are home. At our five-year-old son Milo's first soccer game ever, Paola cheered with enough enthusiasm to fill a whole stadium when he scored his first goal. And when Milo asked Paola if she would join us for "family share day" at his Kindergarten, even though it was taking place on her day off, Paola said she wouldn't miss it for the world. As for our seven-year-old daughter, Olivia, each time she talks about taking a new risk or doing something that intimidates her, Paola is often the first member of our family to tell her how proud of her she feels. When both of our children were sick with a terrible flu (a flu bug that Paola had already caught over the holidays), the patience and empathy with which she cared for them was honestly as genuine and loving as our own. In short, Paola is the Ultimate Au Pair for too many reasons to count. The other day, I was telling a friend who is about to sign up for her first Au Pair that I wished we hadn't waited as long as we did to invite one into our home. But just as I was telling my friend about how much more smoothly both our business and family seem to operate with a little extra love and help, I had to stop myself short. "I take that back," I apologized to my friend. "If we had signed up for an Au Pair any earlier, we never would have met Paola, and I don't think anyone in the world could have been a better fit for our family.
When our son learned that we were entering this contest, he wanted to contribute his thoughts about why Paola is the Ultimate Au Pair too:
Paola is the nicest au pair in the world because she feels like one of my best friends and like part of our family
And when I asked our daughter if she had anything to add she jumped right in:
I love Paola because she is caring, creative, and funny. When I'm with her, I feel happy and lucky to have her as part of our family.
When our family hosted a campout for 25 families this summer at our farm, the next week I asked my friends who they'd gotten the chance to talk to, and if they'd had any memorable conversations over the course of our nearly 48 hours together. Nearly every one I posed the questions to mentioned how much fun they'd had talking to Paola, how lucky our family was to have gained such a wonderful new member, and how meeting her had inspired them to look into bringing an Au Pair into their own families. Whenever anyone in our family feels worried or anxious about anything, Paola is often the first to remind us "Don't worry, be happy." Nothing would make us happier than if the Au Pair who works so hard to make our family's life easier was honored for how incredible she is.
The Belden Family
San Francisco, CA