Monday, August 27, 2012

An au pair experience: Episode 1

It's been more than two years since I wrote a blog post. The last post was several months after we moved back to Chicago and I started my postdoc. Life got crazy. Well, recently, it got even crazier. In the past year, The Husband changed jobs, we had a second child and we decided to get an au pair. This was a very involved decision for us but we think it will address a lot of the issues we have had with our current childcare situation and hopefully, simplify our lives a little bit! In short, The Peanut, four and a half years old, is in a Montessori preschool that we LOVE and The Marshmallow, 7 months old, is in a home daycare with which we are very satisfied. However, two different daycares means two drop-offs, two pick-ups, two bags packed, two sets of teachers to communicate with, amongst other things. Traditional daycares also mean 6 pm pick-ups, which is tough with fairly non-traditional jobs. And, very importantly, it means these two sisters only see each other in the evenings and on weekends. Even though The Marshmallow is not even a year, they have such a great relationship and I really would like them to have more time to be sisters together.

So, after some research and soul-searching, we decided on an au pair. With a recommendation from a family friend, we decided on Cultural Care Au Pair agency and started the extensive application and interview process. Thank goodness for technology...I don't know how people did this before Skype! After reading applications, we narrowed down our choices and interviewed a few girls before deciding on a very sweet girl from Columbia. We chose to go with a South American au pair primarily because of language (since The Husband speaks Spanish and I, well, learned Spanish in high school and college). I also have heard that South American and Latin American au pairs tend to be more flexible and more "family-oriented" than European au pairs. Since schedules are, ahem, not my thing, I need my au pair to be forgiving of my if I am off schedule a bit. And, we are a very affectionate family and put a lot of stock in love and affection, so felt this would be a good choice. Her arrival date is set for September 21st...

As we prepare for The Au Pair's arrival, we are doing some minor remodeling to make her space more comfortable. The room she will have is the extra bedroom in the basement. Its a nice sized room with its own bathroom, but, the space is...let's just say shabby. The bathroom is lovingly referred to as the "gas station bathroom" and the walls are crappy faux wood paneling.
The awesome faux wood paneling
The "gas-station" bathroom
The only good part of this room, right now: a great size closet!
The hole-in-the-room-that-used-to-be-a-bathroom
We like to do DIY home improvement but as time is of the essence and we are both super busy, we hired a handy man to do the remodel. The remodel will consist of adding a shower to the bathroom, replacing the toilet and vanity and re-tiling the floor, as well as properly drywalling the bedroom. Today was Day One of the remodel and involved gutting the bathroom space. I have never been more excited to see walls missing from my house! The Handyman made amazing progress in one day and I can’t wait to see how it goes from here.

In other news, The Marshmallow is pulling herself to standing. She prefers rolling to crawling, but I fear walking is not far off…
The Marshmallow
The Peanut