We were uncertain about welcoming an Au Pair into our family for the first time and now we don't know how we ever lived without her! As a family with 9 children (7 who still live at home) we scare most potential caregivers away. We struggled to find a candidate who was brave enough to take on our large family and all of the responsibilities that come with it. Laurien had also been struggling to find the right fit and she had been praying for the perfect family to come along (ideally with two children or less). She thought it was an answered prayer when she returned from church in Brazil one evening and found an interview request from our family in her inbox. We laughed so hard when she told us about opening our first email (that she thought was an answered prayer) and seeing that we had NINE children! Was this a joke? She couldn't imagine caring for such a large family, but the timing of my email seemed too serendipitous to ignore. Thankfully, she agreed to at least speak to me. We connected instantly and somehow we were able to convince someone who had never been on a plane to fly to another continent and join our large family! It was one of the best decisions we could've made.
They say it takes a big heart to shape little minds and Laurien couldn't be more right for the job. Prior to arriving, she sent us many detailed questions about our children and studied hard learning about each one of them. She memorized their faces, names, favorite foods, and favorite things so that she could connect with them more easily when she arrived. Five of our children are 5 years old and younger, so one must have exceptional organization skills and an incredible amount of patience to care for them.
Laurien has blown us away with her ability to multi-task, nurture, entertain, soothe and teach our children in a culture and a language so different than her own. I am in the medical field and my husband travels for work. These careers can mean some late nights, early mornings, weekends and a variable schedule for Laurien. She never complains and has met each new challenge with enthusiasm. She quickly learned the children's routines and preferences so that she never has to interrupt me at work for assistance and I never have to remind her about school assignments or any of the children's needs. Our twins started Kindergarten the month she arrived and she works diligently with them as they're learning to read and write.
She is teaching our older children how to cook some Brazilian foods and she's teaching our entire family to speak Portuguese. The cultural exchange has been so special to us and we've enjoyed sharing unfamiliar traditions (Christmas stockings) and unfamiliar foods (macaroni and cheese) with her. It has been fascinating for us to learn all about Brazil and how different life and traditions can be in a different part of the world.
Laurien is the epitome of an ultimate au pair! In addition to being a hard worker and helping our home run smoothly, she is whole-heartedly involved in our family outside of work hours. She eagerly dressed in the Little Mermaid theme with us for Halloween and went trick or treating. She donned a matching mouse shirt and pushed kids all over Disney World in 90-degree heat with a smile on her face. She threw on a hiking backpack and carried toddlers all over the Smoky Mountains during our RV trip this Fall. She beamed with pride as our kids serenaded her with "Happy Birthday" in Portuguese when she turned 23. She proudly debuted her matching onesie Grinch pajamas with the kids on our Christmas card this year. She has been a joy and a blessing to our lives and we can't think of anyone more deserving of the ultimate au pair title!