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Leader: JulieKidspotter
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Group Name: Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year
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Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012


Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012
Sponsored by Au Pair Link


Kidspot, in partnership with Au Pair Link, are proud to support the first ever New Zealand Au Pair of the Year Award. Come and read about some of the unique, life-changing family and Au Pair experiences or nominate an Au Pair!


Who can nominate? Anyone can nominate an Au Pair for the award – Host Families can nominate their Au Pair, Au Pairs can nominate themselves or another Au Pair, friends or family can nominate an Au Pair, etc. The nominated Au Pair must have worked (or currently work) as an Au Pair in New Zealand in the last 12 months (from 1st July 2011 to present).


What should I include in my nomination? The nominator must explain why their chosen Au Pair deserves to be the Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012. The nominator must explain how the Au Pair has made a positive, life-changing impact to the lives of a Host Family and their children. Nominations must be a minimum of 100 words in length and include the nominated Au Pair’s first name and nationality. We also suggest that you upload a photo to this social group to help support your nomination.


How do I nominate? Nominate an Au Pair by posting a comment in the Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012 social group below. You can also upload a photo to this group to support your nomination. Nominations can only be made by registered members of Kidspot Social – please click here to register. Please note nominations cannot be made anonymously.


How will the winner be selected? The Kidspot editor will select the winning nomination and Au Pair based on the following criteria:

  • Writing from the heart, the passion of the entry
  • The specific and exceptional differences made to the lives of the children and parents
  • The evident positive bond developed between Au Pair and Host Family
  • Eligibility criteria is met - refer to information above and the Terms and Conditions.


The Prize: The Kidspot Au Pair of the Year wins domestic return flights and 3 nights’ accommodation in Queenstown OR $500. The Host Family of the winning Au Pair wins a free Au Pair Placement with Au Pair Link (valued up to $1500) OR $300.



If you’d like to find out more about having an Au Pair for your family, please visit www.aupairlink.co.nz.


The winner of the Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year is ... Femke Meyer! Click here to read more.


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Announcing the Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012 2 03/14/2013
 
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JulieKidspotter - 12:15 PM on Mon-20-Aug-2012 reply | message
The winner of the Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012 has been announced! Click this link to find out how won http://social.kidspot.co.nz/topic.php?topic_id=561
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Raiha - 12:02 AM on Mon-13-Aug-2012 reply | message
Mhairi Keneddy from Scotland deserves to win Au Pair of the Year for 2012. Words can not describe of the amazing bond she has formed with our 12months old twins Sophie and William.<br>Mhairi cared for our precious little ones from the age of 7months. She embraced their different personalities and captured them in their journels with magical memories for us to look back on. I feel honoured that Mhairi has introduced our babies to many 1st such as Baking Scotish Shortbread, Messy Paintings, Playing and Tasting Playdough, Visits to the local Farm Park and many more.<br>Mhairi has been so loving and patient to our twins as we know how demanding it is. We have been so lucky to have had Mhairi in our lives. It has been a huge relief for me to return to work and feel at ease that babies are happy at home especially as they have been only use to mum and dad. We can't thank Mhairi enough for all the amazing memories she has made with our whole family.We will miss her greatly. Thank you sooooo much Mhairi XX
giovanni - 10:18 PM on Sun-12-Aug-2012 reply | message
Angela Thalies - Germany

Angela began her work as an Au-Pair in our family to look after Thomas (then 5 months old) at a time of difficulty with mum Mary shortly to be admitted to hospital for major surgery.

She showed maturity, stamina and good common sense, embracing her role, right from day one, with passion and love.

Angela has always treated Thomas as if he was her own child and coached him through his first milestones and achievements like a mother, thus creating a very special bond with him.

Angela is a great person to have around, she I very adaptable and copes with every situation that is put in front of her with no fuss and a smile always.

We have left Angela in sole charge of Thomas on various occasions and we did so with total trust in her. Angela has always demonstrated that she deserved to be trusted as she looked after Thomas in a very capable way.

It will be sad when Angela leaves and we know that it will very difficult, if not impossible, to find another au pair as good as Angela: She is one of a kind.

We are all very fortunate to have met her and although Thomas will not remember Angela in the years to come, his life will be better for having had such a great “friend” and companion at this early stage of his life.

Au Pair of the year? Definitely!

Giovanni and Mary
polkadot12 - 10:08 PM on Sun-12-Aug-2012 reply | message
Nina, Germany

I would like to nominate Nina for Au Pair of the Year. Nina came to live with us from Germany in July 2011. Our family consists of Mum (me), George (now 5), Henry and Theodore (both now aged 3). I decided to get an Au Pair as I wanted / needed to go back to work after 4 years of being a full time Mum and having recently separated felt that an Au Pair would offer the best stability for the boys, and some flexibility for me.

When Nina arrived I wasn’t working so Nina helped me out and got to know the boys and our routines and lives. Nina also gave me some much needed kid free opportunities which had been lacking for the previous 14 months! Once I knew that the boys were in safe hands I then started working 24 hours per week (in September) with Nina in complete control during those hours – which were busy! Initially George was only in afternoon kindy 3 days a week and Henry and Theo only crèche one morning per week so most of the time Nina had all 3 boys, and the associated noise, mischief, mess, laughter and tears that goes with the territory of 3 pre-schoolers only 19 months apart. Not to mention the endless feeding kids need (and my kids really seem to need) and nappy changing that goes with twins. And none that would even think about sleeping during the day. So it started busy and it has remained busy. But Nina started calm and enthusiastic and has remained calm and enthusiastic and that is a fantastic accomplishment for a just turned 20 year old.

Nina herself is a caring, thoughtful, enthusiastic and independent person. My children love Nina, have fun with Nina and they know she will not let them down – whether it be picking them up from kindy, having a swim together, playing hide and seek, making them lunch, giving them a hug or caring for them day to day. I know my children are in great hands in Nina’s care and I trust her with the most important people in my life.

Nina presence in our lives has enabled me to guilt free go back to work and know that the boys are happy and safe. But it has also meant I have been able to fulfil a long held dream of completing a half ironman triathlon and I am now training for a marathon which (hopefully) I will do in October. The personal satisfaction I have gained from these is immeasurable and only possible due to Nina being willing to watch the boys (whether they are tucked up in bed or creating mayhem).

So having Nina in our lives has given me exactly the outcome I wanted – someone to care for the boys when I can’t be there so they feel happy and secure. And I know they feel secure because Nina gets much of the same behaviour from the boys as I get as their Mum, ie the wonderful cuddles and the terrible tantrums – this shows she is really part of our family!! Nina has been exactly the right Au Pair for us.

Nina has just booked her flights home for mid December 2012. We will be sad to say goodbye but grateful we had such a wonderful Au Pair.
MamaJess - 12:23 AM on Sun-12-Aug-2012 reply | message
Sandra, Germany

In May of 2011, my family was relocated to Wellington from the United States; I was seven months pregnant and started working in my new job the day after we landed. My husband and I had to hire daily babysitters while we waited for my son's creche to open, but spent the majority of our waking hours trying to figure out what we would do when New Baby arrived, as creche was not an option.

Finally, through some online research, kindness of the AuPair Link Team and the grace of God, we were sent Sandra. We had made the decision, before even finishing her story, to extend her an offer. It wasn't her amazing credentials or warm smile that convinced us - without being able to fully define it, we knew in our hearts that Sandra would be perfect for our family. So, we emailed and set up a time to Skype - and within that first call, almost immediately after the introductions, we asked Sandra to be part of our family. And that was it - not to work with us, or to be our "au-pair," no; we wanted Sandra to be part of our growing family. She said yes! (cue: church bells tolling, choir singing) We were elated.

Well, the rest is history. Sandra took the initiative to set up a weekly Skype schedule, so she could "see us in action," and really get to know us (well, as best as one can over the Internet), and us her. She was so engaged every single call! We could tell that she actually cared, and this wasn't going to be just an opportunity for her to travel. She emailed almost daily to ask about how my pregnancy was going, and when she found out that my son was sick one time when we couldn't call, emailed to see how he was doing. She (gasp!) genuinely cared.

Flash-forward to late August. My due date was the 19th, so we planned to have Sandra arrive the first week of September (to allow us enough time to adjust to new baby before working out how to have someone live with us for a year - brand new territory!). Well, because babies do what they want WHEN they want, new baby C didn't arrive until the 25th, about two weeks before Sandra came to our home. Because I didn't have the luxury of taking any time off before baby #2 (new job and all), I literally worked right up until I went into active labor. Combine exhaustion with complications during delivery, and poof! it was a stressful event and took me four days to get back home. After finally being able to get back home, it took my midwife a week (a WEEK) to realize that my health was failing, and fast - I had sepsis. By this point, Sandra was already in Auckland and was due to arrive at our home in a couple days. Needless to say, when she finally arrived, I was an absolute mess.

She saved me - our family. I didn't know it then, on the 7th when she came to our home, but she did. And she came literally in the nick of time, as I was only allowed five weeks of maternity leave. I couldn't keep it together: balancing a new baby, recovering my health, trying to figure out how to breastfeed (while on a host of antibiotics and knowing that I was going to have to express every couple hours, at most, once I went back to work), and all the domestic responsibility.

Sandra, at the young age of 19, swooped in, even though she didn't really know us, was new to New Zealand and desperately missing her family, and took care of it - of everything. I, who was so used to being organized and in control, was watching all of this from afar, or so it felt. I had become so detached and, well, depressed. Not in the terrible sadness kind-of-way, but mentally, knowing that I COULDN'T handle it all; so, I chose to push myself away from new Baby C. It was so much easier to let Sandra take care of him! And boy, did she EVER. She was amazing, and he was instantly smitten. He would nestle into her and fall asleep - and Sandra, being the amazing person she is, wouldn't move a MUSCLE for the entire duration of his catnap, for fear of waking him.

She did it all for me, for us. She had the house picked up, the groceries bought, the dinner made and the bath drawn. And she never batted an eye. I never, ever, felt threatened by her presence, or her seemingly endless source of energy or capacity to do everything that I could not; no, I was relieved. I think a lot of [my trouble] was that I was terrified (at failing as a mother, wife, and careerwoman), and that seeing this young, selfless, caring woman come into my family and help us regain normalcy, well... she healed me.

And, to quote a very favorite book, "life will never be the same."

Well, it hasn't. It took me a few months, but when I finally opened my eyes and saw the amazing gift that is my second son, Sandra was right there to give him to me and take him back when I needed her to. There was no asking - nothing ever had to be said. She was always just there, asking "can I take him from you?" The fact that she would pose this as a question rather than "let me..." showed me she was wise (well) beyond her years; it provided me the opportunity to gracefully take a break when I needed one, rather than me feeling like she thought I was incapable, or inept. Sandra was never, not once, ever judgmental. She would be honest and sincere in her thoughts, which I admire more than all other traits.

Quickly, I grew (as we all did) to love Sandra as I do my husband and children. She fused with our family in a way so naturally it feels as though she has always been here, and always should.

I've spent a lot of time talking about how much Sandra means to me, but her incredible attitude and generosity have not only impacted me, but especially youngest Baby C (the child she watches full-time while my husband and I are at work and my other son in creche). The physical and mental growth I have seen in him over the last year... is amazing. And I wholeheartedly attribute it to Sandra's dedication to ensuring that he always feels loved, in the purest sense, and safe. Babies are brilliantly adept at communicating their feelings, even though they cannot use words; they are transparent works of art and when a baby is uncomfortable or anxious, well, it is easy to see. Whenever Sandra was around, he would wriggle and coo until she picked him up - and then you could see all the muscles in his teeny, tiny body relax as he settled into her arms.

When I came back to work and all my colleagues asked me, 'how are you doing with leaving your son home?' My response was immediate and 100% honest: "Absolutely fine. I have implicit trust and faith in Sandra to take great (if not better) care of Baby C and always do the right thing." And, she did, and continues to do so.

When I first saw the AuPair Link "daily report" book that Sandra would have to use as a matter of record to capture the routine and events during her work week, I was incredulous at the amount of detail needed (checking on the children every 10 minutes while they are sleeping, for example). But, Sandra did this, and more. She actually put thought, genuine thought, into the daily report (where she would capture what they did, how baby felt etc) - so that when I came home at the end of the day, eager to try and live vicariously through Sandra and her time with my son, I could read her notes and appreciate their time together. The amount of work and effort (in the evening, way past her working hours and after we are asleep) she puts into Baby's learning stories... it's incredible: multiple pages, pictures, clip-art, excerpts from books... the love and adoration she has for Baby C practically oozes off the pages. She keeps records of all the milestones I am not able to see (teeth, rolling over, clapping, saying "mama...")

As a working mum, the hardest part is leaving my children with others, who get to experience all of the amazingness of my children that I cannot. However, unlike other childcare-providers in the past, there is no one else in the WORLD that I would rather have watching my son. If I can't be part of those milestones, then I want it to be Sandra.

I am not afraid to acknowledge and admit that while I am working, Sandra is raising my baby. She isn't just there doing her daily time and then punches a card and leaves; no, not even close. She sticks around after we finally get home from work to help get dinner on the table, she eats with us, helps clean-up, kisses my other son goodnight, sits to have a tea with me and finally (phew!) gets everything ready for us for the next morning. She is not working for us - she is just doing what families do.

Even though she doesn't watch my two and a half year-old son (really, she only sees him if she babysits for us or in the evenings), she has managed to teach him German phrases, which he uses interchangeably with English, help with his potty-training, and make him "get his hands dirty" (which is a HUGE deal because he is so tactically sensitive and doesn't like to be messy, but she has him finger-painting! Woohoo!)

Beyond that, she is my voice of reason, my balance, and source of (generally) everything that is positive in my life. She bakes a cake for all of our birthdays and because she is uber-creative, has some grand, personal gesture that trumps any store-bought gift any day of the week. She makes hand- and foot-prints and growth charts for the boys so that this fleeting, young stage of life is always accessible. She never puts herself first and always offers her time to babysit so my husband and I can have date nights and try to reclaim some of that pre-baby fun. She sews buttons and holes (in my clothes and the boys!) because I am hopelessly pathetic when it comes to threading a needle. She is my yoga buddy and my zombie show watching-buddy. She is, well, everything.

Our main goal was to make sure that we gave Sandra back everything she gave us. We wanted to show her New Zealand and more, so we've made a point to travel the North and South Island together (as we are all new to this country), and experience it as a family. She has come along on work trips to Australia and saw kangaroos for the first time with my son. We have tried to offer her every experience possible, so that when she leaves, she returns to Germany a richer and fuller person (metaphorically-speaking). I know that no matter what we do, what we buy her, it will never be enough to compensate for what she has given us. We will forever be indebted to her love and generosity, and will forever count her as part of our (immediate) family.

Sandra has not been our au-pair for the last year, she has been our whole life.

clementfamily - 10:23 PM on Thu-9-Aug-2012 reply | message
Josefin, Sweden

Josefin joined our family in December 2011. Josefin had big boots to fill as our first Au pair, Nina, was such a success. However, we are now in the same position we were in before and dreading our Au Pair leaving.

Josefin is completely adored by our two girls aged 2 and 4. Its easy to see why. She is always happy to have fun with them whether she is working or not. She genuinely loves their company and this is entirely reciprocal. Right from the start she brought a wonderful air of calm into a household of two young kids and two working parents. Nothing ever fazes or fusses her. We have all benefited from her attitude and positivity and we have gained tremendously as a family from her presence.

She fitted in immediately to our routines and is always enjoyable to have around. She is a great communicator and she has a gift in the way she relates to the children. Whether its about encouraging the kids to get dressed on a morning and out of the house, talking to our four year old about princesses or helping her work through an anxiety about something - she excels. She often comes up with great ideas as to how to manage something tricky with the kids. For example, We have recently been trying to get our eldest to give up thumb sucking and Josefin has suggested a star chart for all of us where we all give up something and can work together and support each other toward our goals.

She has also had to manage a couple of serious choking events with food for our youngest where she has completely obstructed and required back thrust manoeuvres. Josefin was on her own lt when these occurred but an immediate and clear action prevented a serious and horrific outcome. I will be forever grateful to her and though this understandably shook her up afterwards the fact she did not panic was outstanding.

My husband & I have no family here in NZ so having an Au Pair provides crucial support. If we are running late from work its never a problem for Josefin and she will always carry on with the evening routine until we are home. Josefin told me before she started that she liked to clean and I'm always amazed at how the house looks so tidy and the kids look so happy when we get home. She also looked after the kids for a night so I could spring a surprise night away on my husband for his birthday. I have also traveled overseas for work and it was such a relief to know Josefin was there to care for the girls and support my husband so all I had to worry about was missing them all. I have not even mentioned her cooking skills - you have to try her Swedish pancakes to believe them!!

If I could describe Josefin I would say she is a responsible, calm, energetic, hard working, creative, nurturing and giving individual. We will miss her tremendously when she has to leave us. If she could stay we would love to keep her but she has a life to return to in Sweden and is keen to pursue becoming a teacher which I think she will do very well at. We count ourselves very lucky to be in the same position as last year with another wonderful additional member of our family who, like Nina we will always hold dear to our hearts.
LizC - 11:25 AM on Thu-9-Aug-2012 reply | message
Christin Kuschel - German

In August 2011 we met our new Au Pair Christin, who had just arrived from the other sided of the world, Germany. Christin had arrived to spend the next 12 months with our Family of five, Mum, Dad, Benjamin (10), Brooke (3) and Mitchell (2). She arrived to a new country, new culture, new home and new family and a new challenge, all with a big smile on her face.

Christin fitted into our family very easily from the start, learning the routines and enjoying taking the younger kids to swimming and Gymnastics. She really enjoyed the New Zealand Culture and learning what she could about New Zealand. The kids always had a great time with Christin either at home playing games/puzzles or out at the Zoo, Museum or to the various parks near where we live. She has taught Brooke to write her name and both younger kids are learning the Alphabet and counting, also in German.

We have a very busy household and with Dad often away travelling, Christin has become a very valued member of our Family. Her support, flexible and help is unlimited and much appreciated.

Christin has a great personality, she enjoys life, is very positive and a very friendly person with a great smile, this has all reflected very positive in our family. You know your child is in good hands when they hurt themselves and instead of running to Mum they run to Christin. This often happened and I knew the kids were in good hands. Everyone that has met Christin has been impacted by her attitude and the relationship that she has with kids.

It is with much pleasure that I nominate Christin Kuschel for Kidspot NZ Au Pair of the Year 2012, when she leaves New Zealand very shortly we are all going to miss her very much. She now has two families one in NZ and one is German. We will never forget Christin and the Kids are going to really miss her being our extra special au pair.

Moving forward and with the future in mind while we are sad to be losing Christin we wish her great success and happiness with her career and personal life wherever it leads. We look forward to staying in touch and visiting Christin in Germany with our whole family. We would like Christin to be a part of our lives both in New Zealand and Germany for years to come.

Liz Culpan
PagetBeales - 12:11 AM on Tue-7-Aug-2012 reply | message
Laura - Sweden

Laura is not only our au pair, she has become a firm part of our family. Laura always goes above and beyond the call of duty weather she is working or if she is on her days off. I am a busy working single mum and Laura has, from the moment she has stepped into our home, taken the pressure off and helped to make our family environment a lot more stress free. From doing odd jobs on her days off to picking up the children from kindy and school when I have come off a night shift so i can sleep longer, to cleaning out cupboards, freezers and the list goes on! Laura has become an "older sister" to both children, she happily plays games, teaches them to talk in her language, dances, play in their own "rock band" etc etc; but most importantly she is their friend and and they adore her. Laura has fit into our home and our life so well, she will go to the movies with my mum, check up on my grandmother who lives across the road from us, when I am at work, help out on our family farm to mention a few. Now to most new zealanders this seems fairly normal, a lot of these things have put Laura so far out of her comfort zone, but she is always willing to help out and give anything a go. Lauras family is amazed at some of the things she has done and achieved while she has been here so far. Laura is around half way through her stay and already I am not looking forward to February when she is due to go home. To me and my boys, Laura is without a doubt the au pair of the year!!
FraserNathanFamily - 1:52 PM on Mon-6-Aug-2012 reply | message
Isolde, Germany

I have really been putting off the writing of this nomination for Au Pair of the Century and the real reason is that I am in denial. Not that she is amazing, because that is blatantly obvious – but that she is leaving us. Another reason that I have been loath to write this is I knew I would end up bawling my eyes out but as I have written her farewell card this morning, I figured that before I try to pull myself together, that I had best do this too.

Isolde – Izzy, came to us on the 29th of February. By March the 1st, we knew we had a winner. She was a part of the furniture and a very much welcomed member of the family by the end of Week 1. Izzy has fitted in so well with our immediate family, our extended family and our entire circle of friends that we have had to have multiple farewell parties.

My husband says that having Izzy in our home is like me having my best friend living with us. We have the same sense of humour (we’re both nuts) and can talk incessantly about rubbish. We both have a thing for My Gypsy Wedding and Embarassing Bodies so the hubby has to go and “fix” something until they’re over.

We never have had any issues where we have had to talk with Izzy over anything. From Day 1 we said that if anything was a problem for either party that we would talk to each other immediately. Nothing has ever been said to this effect.

Izzy looks after my wee one better than I could ever have expected. I watch her looking after him, playing with him, feeding him and see that she loves him almost as much as we do. I am a little worried for her sanity as I know leaving him will be so painful for her 

When Izzy comes downstairs in the morning, Max’s face just lights up with the hugest grin. He loves his “Schnizzle” so much. He is just as happy to go to Izzy as he is to come to me. I thought before Izzy arrived that I may get a little jealous if this became the case but in reality, I now see that it means that he so relaxed and happy with her, such an amazing relief for a Mum that can’t be with her baby during the day.

As our little guy Max was an unplanned but hugely loved baby, neither my husband or I had much maternal or paternal instinct with how to “play” with a baby. Izzy has taught us so much without having to “teach” us anything. She has allowed us to relax and really enjoy hanging out with Max.

Her help has taken so much pressure off our family at such a busy time that we feel a little bereft to be losing her. Izzy had originally planned to finish up at the end of June but upon learning that our new Au Pair couldn’t arrive until late July, Izzy changed her plans to stay with us until Magda arrived and has spent a week training her. So even with her imminent departure, she has helped us beyond all expectations.

We feel a little sorry for Magda as she has such big boots to fill but with the transition period and training that Izzy has given her, we are already seeing a little of Izzy rub off on Magda.

We can’t thank Au Pair Link enough for such a perfect matching of host family to Au Pair. Their teams are absolute wizards and their support crew beyond belief. We can’t recommend them enough.

Izzy, we wish you all the best for the rest of your travels in NZ. You know that you are welcome back at any time. We love you.

Sasha, Jody and Max (and Spencer & Lola the dogs, Fonz & Tilly the cats)
Dali - 1:47 PM on Mon-6-Aug-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate my au pair Jana she is amazing and has made a huge difference to our family. We have 5 children and a new puppy and I work fulltime.
She has show such a great sense of intuition in regards to what needs to be done with the kids or round the house and just is so super organised which you need to be with 5 children.
She has set up a routine board where the kids know when they get their one on one time for homework and to fit in showers etc.
She gets each of them to spend one evening with her cooking and they get to choose what meal they would like out of a recipe book and then they make it together for every one.
she has been with us for a month and in that month the xbox or wii has not gone on once she keeps them busy and occupied and plays outside with them, gives them chores to do around the house for stickers which leads to saving towards something special.. all things that she came up with and spoke to my husband and i about which of course we said yes go for it.
The other day I had my inlaws coming to stay and I had been so busy at work and with my boss over from Australia that I had not organised anything I was in a panic when I got home that night thinking about their room and where to put them and what to cook for dinner.... what an amazing relief I could have cried when I got home she had had made up the spare bed with clean sheets, dusted the room and vaccumed it and made a big lasagne for dinner that night so that there was enough for the grown ups....
I cant be without her now I think she is brilliant and best of all the kids adore her and think she is wonderful and that is with her keeping them busy and active that there is no time for x box and they have not said one word about it.
Leannehalina - 10:26 PM on Thu-2-Aug-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate my Au Pair Therese Olsson currently from Johnsonville, Wellington originally from Malmo, Sweden.

Therese started early January this year. Her arrival into the country was not without a little bit of drama - she was supposed to be coming on holiday first, going back to Sweden and then returning to NZ, but as luck would have it she ended up having to stay in NZ rather than return home. This was obviously a challenging start - arriving in a new country only prepared for a holiday rather than to live. She didn't even get to attend her surprise party back home or pack up her flat! All of this was handled with an amazing amount of bravery and maturity and I have a real admiration for leaving her family and diving straight into ours.

Our family consists of myself, my husband, and our three children, Scarlett, 3 and a half, and Portia and Tyson, 2 years old when Therese started. Both my husband and I work fulltime with hubby running his own business, so we are very busy people at work and with three young children in our lives, very busy at home too! Our children are wonderful and amazing little people, but as any one with toddlers knows, this is a very full on stage of life and takes a lot of energy and committment. Thank goodness our Au Pair has both!

After a couple of weeks of myself and our previous Au Pair spending some time with Therese to each her the daily routines and engage with the children, Therese was then on her own after our previous Au Pair returned home. From 7am to 5pm 5 days a week, Therese had now inherited 3 young toddlers to care for, entertain and educate! Right from the start Therese created a wonderful bond with all three of our little ones which has been amazing to watch and nurture.

Every week there are a number of activities the kids are involved in and Therese does them all with boundless energy, patience and punctuality. She has an amazing ability to get all of the kids fed, dressed, teeth brushed and ready to go with little fuss and within a short period of time. Music lessons, Kindy, Playcentre, the park, swimming, ballet, Therese does it all. Even if it is a morning at home, the children are always doing something fun and she engages them in a wide range of activities, paying particular attention to their own individual interests and needs.

Additionally Therese has been consistant and reliable, she has worked every week day this year and even coped when she is feeling a bit under the weather, electing to have quiet days with the kids rather than asking us to take time off work. This has been wonderful for myself and hubby to keep our time off work to a minimum due to kids or caregiver illness. Therese's previous career as a nurse has often come in handly, with the various coughs, colds and other things that pop up dealt to with love and empathy. I've always been completely comfortable that Therese has everything under complete control with a sick child. On top of this, she has been wonderful when dealing with the Man Flu (hubby) and the Real Flu (myself) and a number of other instances when we have been unwell. She has made us tea, recommended which medicines to take and assisted with additional housework without us needing to ask and always with a wonderful attitude.

Therese has taken the time to get involved with Au Pair Link and is a Team Leader for other Au Pair's in Wellington. Not one but two of the Au Pair Link staff emailed me to ensure she was nominated thanks to her wonderful contribution to other Au Pairs and from witnessing her lovely interactions with my children. It is with great please I can add the following statement:

It is with great pride that I am able to nominate one of my Au Pairs Therese. When I watch Therese interact with the three children in her care I see a “warm, loving, respectful and reciprocal” relationship. Therese will go out of her way to find activities that will encourage the children’s current interests and learning… making pasta from scratch, taking part in professional development programmes offered by our company and actively taking part in playgroups. Therese will often share the “wow” and “cute” moments with others and her whole face lights up. – Linda Muollo, Programme Manager for Au Pair Link.

Therese is a wonderful, warm, engaging and interactive Au Pair whom I have 100% respect for and 200% gratefulness for that she loves and looks after my precious babies every day when I have to be at work. I am very lucky I can go to work each day feeling completely at ease that they are in the most capable of hands and cared for entirely and wholly. Therese will always be a very special part of our family, a personal friend and we are very lucky to have her. She absolutely deserves to be the Au Pair of the year, as she already is this in our minds :)
delgary - 5:24 PM on Thu-2-Aug-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate Femke Meyer from Germany for Au Pair of the Year because of the wonderful person she is, the amazing help she was to our family and the incredible and lasting impact she has made to our lives. Femke joined out family in late June of 2011 just before Maggie's 2nd birthday. Femke was our 3rd Au Pair. When we were getting to know her via Skype (before she came out to our family), our impressions of her were very positive. She had a natural warmth about her and I had a good feeling she would fit well into our family. Like many of the girls, Femke was terribly home sick at the start but showed a great deal of maturity and was able to overcome that.

Femkes bond with Maggie and us grew very quickly. This was due to Femkes lovely, gentle and caring nature, her wicked sense of humour and a great willingness to get involved with our family and friends. She very quickly made friends with other Au Pairs in the region and other people in the Ashburton community including the host parents of other Au Pair families.

Femke has a wonderful musical talent as both a songwriter and singer. She can play the piano, drums, guitar and harmonica. During the last year she wrote many wonderful songs, including an amazing song for Maggie. Please feel free to listen to this:

"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K88oIut85gw&fea
ture=relmfu"


We love music also and we really apprecaited the positive impact Femke's love of music and talent had on the lives of our friends and family. Femke played regularly for my family and also sang at Playcentre, Music Group and at friend/family birthday parties for the kids.

Femke was involved in helping Maggie through many of her milestones last year including toilet training, learning how to dress herself, enforcing good manners and empathy, learning lots of German words etc. The age between 2 and 3 is such an important time in a toddlers life - the brain is a sponge. Maggies sweet little personality has certainly been influenced by Femkes lovely nature.

In October last year, my mum was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. This was a very stressful and difficult time for us. Femke stepped up above and beyond her duties. When I was supporting mum in Christchurch during and after two lots of surgery, Femke looked after Maggie day in and day out on her own until Gary got home from work. She did an amazing job. This situation could have been very disconcerting to her but she showed incredible maturity and compassion and just got on with things seamlessly. I didn't have to ask for anything - she just did everything needed of her and kept everything ticking along at home. That is so much more than we could ever expect. We could not have got through this time without her.

During Femke's year with us, she made the most of all the opportunities afforded to her. She travelled extensively through both the North and South Islands and even got to go to Sydney and Brisbane for a holiday. Femke and one of the other Au Pairs also joined a local Netball team and learnt to play our great Kiwi sport.

Through Maggies music group, Femke met a young mother and together they explored their mutual love of music by meeting at the church hall regularly during the evenings to play music and write songs. The ladies at the church liked and trusted Femke so much that they were very happy to provide her with the alarm code to use the hall whenever she wanted to. I think the way Femke became involved in her community during her time in New Zealand was wonderful.

Because of Femke - Maggie's love of music has really been ignited and she keeps asking if she can learn to play he guitar. She also wants to play netball just like Femke when she gets older.

Femke not only played a big part in our lives, she also won the hearts of our close friends and family who all love her. A testiment to this are the tears that flowed from my Grandmother, mum, aunty and friends at the time we were saying Auf Wiedersehen to Femke.

We loved watching Femke mature and gain in self confidence during her year with us. It was like seeing a beautiful rose bud open into full bloom.

Femke went home at the end of June. She is reaching for the stars and will soon embark on a university degree which will obviously involve music. We are in regular contact with her. Femke will be forever in our hearts and minds and we hope to visit our previous Au Pairs next year.

We wish Femke every happiness and success in the future. As Maggie would say...
We love you around the moon and back again Femke!

McConnochie Family.
PearsonFamily - 4:44 PM on Wed-1-Aug-2012 reply | message
We are nominating Manon our French au pair for Au Pair of the Year, and we would also like to share our experience as a host family to date as this information may be useful to families contemplating employing an au pair to support their busy everyday lives.

Dave and I started our catering business 5 years ago and perhaps foolishly decided to have a baby at the same time as launching Global Cuisine. Neither of which I would change for the world. Being new parents and new business owners had it’s ups and downs but like everything you learn on the job and we settled into working life with a newborn. At that time we were fortunate enough to have the help and support of my parents when it came to looking after Lily (5 in November) when we went off to cater to events. Onto the next phase were the arrival of Drew who will turn 3 on October and the expansion of Global Cuisine. While the help from grandparents is second to none they have been through the child rearing stage and should be enjoying their more senior years, and have the grandchildren to stay because they WANT to have them not because they HAVE to.

After having numerous conversations with friends about our situation one friend mentioned Au Pairs, my first thought was no way and I really when I think about it I can manage it all on my own. Yeah right!

Following on from that particular conversation I decided to check out nanny services. This option meant it was going to possibly take 2 different nannies to cover the times we required help looking after Lily and Drew as no one seemed willing to commit to our varied schedule plus the cost and inconstancy did not fill me with confidence.

That is when I contacted Au Pair Link to find out about their service. The whole process is made easy and you know you can rely on the support and back up of head office and the regional reps.
Unfortunately after working with our first au pair for 2 months she did not bond with either child and we were put back into the matching pool which is when we found Manon. Oh what a relief!

Second time around the main criteria for selecting an au pair was that we wanted them to bond with the kids first and everything else would follow and Manon did just that when she joined us at the beginning of December last year working 35 hours per week for a term of 9 months. I can’t remember the exact day but it was within the first week that Manon was double piggy backing both kids, there was a lot of laughter and she had won them over without a doubt! In the first week, I was so amazed not to mention relieved. What followed on from that is horsey rides, hide and seek, baking, park visits, beach days, walks, daycare pickups, swimming lessons, drawing, book reading, cuddles and lots of fun. A particular memory is the time when I was really sick and just didn’t want to get out of bed, usually a mum has to right? but Manon went the extra mile and took on extra responsibilities without being asked, so I COULD stay in bed, I loved and appreciated her so much for that. I love it when she folds the washing beautifully too! Manon is due to leave our family at the end of this month and it is a sad thought, but I know her family and friends back home will be so happy to have her back and enjoy hearing some great stories of her time in NZ. We wish her every success and happiness in the future. We are now prearing for the arrival of Corinna from germany and look forward to her enhancing our family life as Manon has.
Manon - Caring, friendly, fun, polite, mature, reliable, practical and WONDERFUL
Cula - 9:26 PM on Mon-30-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate Femke Meyer for Au Pair of the Year. Femke arrived in New Zealand in July 2011 to join a family in Ashvegas. Femke suffered from homesickness for the first 6 weeks or so and wasn't sure if she could stay with the family and their special daughter who had just turned 2. Femke soon realised that she had an awesome family to get to know on the other side of the world. Femke has a love of music and song writing which she has shared with the family and her little girl. Femke wrote a gorgeous song about her little girl when she left which had us all in tears. So special to have a song written about you. Femke really blossomed while in Ashvegas making friendships with other Au Pairs and their host families. She joined the local netball team and will be sadly missed by all her met her.
Shelzie - 8:43 PM on Mon-30-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would love to nominate Sara Nord from Sweden for Au Pair of the Year. Sara joined us in the Waikato for a year placement. Her family had four very busy, bright and bubbly children (ages 4 – 10) and also a very crazy dog named Daffy. Sara was fully involved in our programme from the very beginning. She entered our 123 Programme with a hiss and a roar! There is no other way to describe Sara.<br>She attended every playgroup, outing and also child outing she could, bringing with her a sense of humour that blew us all away. She was unique to say the least. But this meant that other au pairs felt comfort with her straight away. She did not sweat the small things, but took her job very seriously. I particularly loved hearing about crazy hats that were made during the school holidays with Grandma there judging (extended family were also adored by Sara) alongside side a range of other wonderful projects during her time with her host family. <br>Sara went over and beyond at times to be a big help to myself when I needed an extra hand, organising extra events for her fellow Au Pairs to attend such as Laser Strike and also Ten Pin Bowling. Sara went out of her way to include everyone. I had feedback from other Au Pairs saying this also, when I had not attended the event myself.<br>Sara most importantly loved her host family, and went out of her way to do her job to the best of her ability. She adored all of the children and when seeing me always had a tale to what they were doing, or something they had achieved. I know leaving NZ was very hard for Sara as she felt she was part of our world here. Sara really deserves this nomination, as she was a star Au Pair whose dedication to both her family and Au Pair link was just amazing!<br>
Ginnys40 - 4:07 PM on Mon-30-Jul-2012 reply | message
Lisa Merker has settled in easily to her role with her family. At just nineteen she was a little nervous about coming to be an Au Pair, away from everyone she knew. She has settled in easily with her family and takes care of two children under five. Lisa has been described as very proactive and helpful and never needs to be asked to do anything. I have seen how caring she is with the children and she writes the most impressive learning stories I have ever seen! Not only is she responsive to the children's needs and interests, but she is also sharing her own interests with the family, and the family's interests herself. Lisa has made every effort and taken every opportunity to get out in the community and meet other Au Pairs and participate in activities. She even offers suggestions and is always appreciative! I think that Lisa is an amazing Au Pair and I'm sure her family would not be without her for a second!
Ginnys40 - 3:58 PM on Mon-30-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate Stephanie Monz. Steffi is just completing a six month placement and is from Germany. Steffi has cared for three children under five and one school aged child. This has been a huge accomplishment and she has taken it all in her stride! The younger children are very energetic and challenging at times as they are approaching the age where they sometiimes fight. Not only has Steffi fit into the family and done her job well, she has been situated quite remotely on a farm and has had no complaints. She has been a strong role model for the children and has also been responsive to their needs and their interests, which she has continued to extend. I think that she will be missed by all when she leaves!
poundito - 4:01 PM on Thu-26-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate our au pair Janja from Slovenia. We were pretty sure she was amazing and this was proved when every other family and the Au Pair Link staff kept stopping us to tell us.
We have 4 year old twins. Which is a handful for anyone. But for extra fun our little girl has a cerebal palsy that means that, while she is cognitively unaffected, she can't walk by herself. This means a wee bit of lifting, a lot of support and a bit of coaching on the tough days when maybe she would like to walk. We have been amazed by how quickly Janja became one of the family. Because while our little girl needs extra help she doesn't just take to anyone and it is the unfailing kindness and genuine interest in her world that Janja showed that won her over, not just the willingness to get in there and help walk her around.
We also have a new four month old, and while Gertie is not Janja's responsibility (as mum, Ingrid, is home with her) she always tries to go over and above to help. She is unfailingly kind and thoughtful around the house and it is like Mary Poppins arrived when she did -a bit of magic that has made what could have been the hardest time (the first three months of baby number three!) one full of fun and laughter.
Overall we have been very impressed by the professionalism of the au pair link team, with the proactive events and activities they put on and the effort they put in to ensuring that their au pair's welfare is looked after. It is our first experience with an au pair and it is hard to imagine how we could be this lucky again. I'll pop some photos up also. Thank you for looking this over and for the opportunity to express our great luck in having Janja with us.
Ginnys40 - 2:42 PM on Tue-24-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate Anne Kautschur. Anne is 27 years old and from Germany. She has been with her host family around 3 months and I am always amazed when I visit at how much she is a part of the family. She participates in family outings and whatever is going on around the home. Anne is very active and responsive with the children in the family. She is always thinking of new things to challenge them and to build on their interests. Anne is responsive and caring and is so passionate about her job. It is wonderful to see such passion. Because of this she provides so many exciting things for the children to participate in, and always plans so that she can provide for the various ages. Anne has developed amazing English as she is very proactive about getting out in the community and participating in new things. I think she will need to teach us a few things soon!! She is always up to date with her documentation, organised and appreciative, and helpful and friendly to the Au Pairs in the area. Good luck to you Anne.
RobbieT - 10:26 PM on Mon-23-Jul-2012 reply | message
Robbie - 8:44pm on Mon-23-Jul-2012

I would like to nominate the Torrances family`s Au Pair Nadine Hoffmann. Nadine is my second Au Pair & we had an overlap between the 1st & 2nd Au Pair & Nadine has basically hit the ground running as I am a single parent working 60 - 70 hrs a week & all though it`s the same thing Monday to Friday Nadine isn`t affraid to get in & get her hands dirty helping out Keiran 12 & Georgia 10 & Annalise 2 & Nadine does not stand for any attitude from either of them over the recent holidays had the 2 older children doing reading, maths, writting & drawing as well as reading animal/zoo books & drawings with Annalise as well as going to the play ground at the local school/park to feed ducks just down the street. It has been a month sence Nadine arrived & I have alot of confidence in Nadine & besides all of that will have a loverly tea prepaired & ready to dish up not long after I get home also organises the children with homework, chores, & showers, hanging out & bringing in the washing & has cleaned & orginised rooms & cupboarders. Keiran & Georgia have learnt to count in German & Keiran can count to 100 while Georgia is learning to speek in German. On her weekends she has made freinds one of which has been an Au Pair for a year in Germany & enjoy going out for a coffee together. I know that Nadine has & will make a difference & change this family for the better.
We the Torrance family wish Nadine all the best & know the next 11 months will be exciting & fun & enjoyable.
Cula - 7:41 PM on Sun-22-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate the Matthews family's last Au Pair Janna Backer. Janna was very homesick when she first arrived at the end off July last year. She came to the Matthews family and spent a week with their first Au Pair to learn the ropes. Janna got to know her wee charges but for the first 3 months she was still unsure about what she had done, coming halfway around the world. Worse was to come when Au Pair Link informed her that ERO (Education Review Office) wanted to come and visit her with the children in November. Janna made us all proud with awesome learning stories and showed ERO what special, supportive, and caring relationships Au Pairs have with the children they care for and the host parents too.
After the ERO visit and her Christmas holidays Janna came to me and said she is happy she stayed and has made some amazing friends and memories and now has a family on the other side of the world who will always be part of her live.
poffsa - 8:15 PM on Thu-19-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate Rebecca our new au pair from Germany as "Au Pair of the Year". Rebecca is our fourth Au Pair and what a delight! From the initial talks, emails and skyping, she stood out as a lovely person! Our boy has Severe Haemphilia and Cerebal Palsy which seemed to put some people off, and with two large dogs and two other children under five, I didnt think anyone would want to be part of our family. Rebecca made a decision very quickly and asked some questions and said she wanted to come to our family! She bonded straight away with all the children and the transition between Au Pairs was seamless. She baked with them the first weekend she was here and has endless patience with the children. I took her and the children to the Botanical Gardens the first weekend, not realising it was 2 degrees and she didnt complain (though I did!) and had a great time with the children. She has come into a busy house hold, with extra stresses with the medical conditions and a two year old who has taken on the 'terrible twos" with gusto and has not been phased at all. She came just after we had to have our beloved 13 year old dog euthanased and whilst she was here, the other dog became sick and also had to be euthanased. She took the children out to the park when the vet came and has helped them adjust to the lost of two pets. Recently we have taken on another dog, quite a busy dog, who was not used to living in a family. She is kind and loving to the new dog and making him a part of her day and routhine.She has adjusted to the driving here, does the groceries, takes children to school and kindy and still has a smile on her face when I come home from work. I am able to leave for work, gulit free and extremely confident that she manages the household and loves and cares for the children. Rebecca has managed to quickly understand each childrens individual personalilty and has been able to tap into their interests. Her first working two weeks were the school holidays. She took the time to get to know the children, played lego, bounced on the trampoline and feed and watered three children with three different sets of demands! She is just 18 and has a wise head on her shoulders! She has mixed well with the Christchurch Au Pair group and has been able to quickly develop a great work/social balance that makes for a happy Au Pair. She is kind, considerate and just a fantastic Au Pair already and it is only week four! Rebecca absolutely deserves to be the Kidspot New Zealand Au Pair of the Year 2012 as she has made a positive, life-changing impact to our lives !
Ginnys40 - 2:08 PM on Thu-19-Jul-2012 reply | message
I would like to nominate our Au Pair, Nora Herlan, as ‘Au Pair of the Year’.

Nora has been with our family in Blenheim, Marlborough for 5 months now. She cares for our 2 children Angus and Amelia wonderfully, but more importantly, she really has become the 5th member of our family.
Nora is our 1st Au Pair, and we were quite nervous about how the whole experience would go. ‘Au Pair Link’ has been so supportive along the way. But we see the major success being our LUCK having Nora!
It all started with her preparation in Germany before she arrived. She spent many hours at a Childcare Centre before even applying, just to make sure she felt comfortable looking after young children, and that she enjoyed the time with kids. Lucky for us she did.
On her arrival, despite Jet Lag and Culture Shock, she got involved in all our family outings, including the supermarket (a delightful place with our 3 year old son – please note the sarcasm!).
Monday to Thursday she cares for our 2 kids. Our 1 year old daughter loves Nora very much. It is quite obvious to see how much of a special bond the 2 of them have, which is comforting and lovely for us as parents to see, when we head out the door in the morning for work. Nora has introduced Amelia to reading, play dough, swings, bike rides, gardening, and a million different taste sensations!
Our 3 year old boy just adores Nora too. She makes an extra special effort when our baby girl is asleep, to give Angus the attention he deserves. They paint together, build cubby houses, feed ducks, but best of all, they cook together! It is not unusual in our house to arrive home from work to find a pink cake with blue icing and purple dots!!!
Nora goes ‘over & above’ with her help around the house. She cooks some delicious German food. She is insightful and helps to tidy up and wash the kids’ clothes without ever being asked. If we are running late for work, she often hands us a coffee in a take away cup as we run out the door!!
With a large extended family living close by, all the cousins adore Nora too. She even received a special invite from our 6yo niece to visit her school and meet her teacher! Not even Grandma has been invited!!! Nora has joined us on family holidays, settled a new Kitten into our house, the list of great things she has done is endless.
Nora shows a maturity well beyond her 19years. Has amazing insight into emotions. A fabulous sense of humor. We are really sad that she will be returning to Germany soon to ‘get back to reality’ and study Nursing. We know she will make an amazing nurse, or whatever she chooses to pursue. We wish her all the best for the future and hope to catch up sometime soon.
Megan & Jack Glover (and Amelia and Angus)
HudsonOMalleyFamily - 11:28 AM on Thu-19-Jul-2012 reply | message
Alyssa, Germany.

Our first Au Pair, Alyssa, really did change our lives, especially for our (now) 3 year old son Lachlan and she most definitely deserves the title of "Our Pair of the Year"! Alyssa is simply amazing and even though she has now finished her term with us and returned to Germany she (and her Mum, Dad, Brother and Cat Charlie!) will always be regarded as part of our family.

Making the move to Christchurch and back into fulltime work was not an easy decision but I am so happy with the choices that we have made and how everything has turned out. Not only were we up and moving to a new city (that was still shaking a wee bit) but I was also going back to fulltime work and had managed to get a job in a totally different career sector so had a lot of transitioning and learning to do. Having Alyssa as an Au Pair made every difference and I will be forever grateful for all the support she gave during her six months with us.

Alyssa had come to New Zealand three months before she became part of our family. When we met Alyssa she was in the 'rematching' process, meaning that the original placement that she had come to New Zealand for hadn’t worked out and as Alyssa needed a new family and we needed an Au Pair fairly smartly it made sense to meet with Alyssa. The first visit Alyssa had with us must have been a chaotic experience for her, still in the process of unpacking the house from moving in earlier that day, all exhausted, probably not looking our best, we were eating Chinese takeout on the floor - but this didn’t put her off! The next weekend (when the house was looking a lot more home-like) Alyssa moved in and instantly fitted in with our way of life and routines. Lachlan quickly bonded with Alyssa and it was so great knowing that he was feeling secure and was being so well looked after even during the major change of not having Mum at home all day every day!

Alyssa had to take on so much responsibility in her first few weeks. Lachlan started to attend preschool for 2 part days per week, this meant that Alyssa had to do normally what "Mum" would do (the hard part) of transitioning him into preschool and dealing with the heart breaking tears every time she dropped him off at preschool! It wasn’t easy on her but eventually Lachlan settled well into preschool and this was due to Alyssa's patience during those hard times. Sometimes she would be required to stay with him for the first hour or pick him up early if he was distressed - these extra miles that Alyssa went to were never a problem, it was easy to see right from the begining that Alyssa loved Lachlan so much that she would have done anything that was in his best interest.

Day-to-day life with Alyssa was a breeze, she was always organised, tidy and thinking of new and creative, fun ways to impact on Lachlan's life and learning. Coming home at the end of each day I would find the house clean, tidy, dishes and washing done and Lachlan would be bathed and in his pyjamas reading or doing other quiet time activities with Alyssa. This was a god-send for a Mum who works 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday! At times Alyssa would be required to cook the evening meal and at other times she would offer to if she could see that I was having a stressful or tiring time at work, this was so fabulous!

Alyssa paid such great attention to Lachlan and his interests and how these could be involved in his learning. As a typical "Kiwi Boy" Lachlan had great interest in the usual boy stuff, tractors, trucks, trains, diggers, golf and most importantly RUGBY! Coming from Germany Alyssa had a lot to learn about Rugby and being World Cup time here in NZ it was the perfect time to teach her all about our national sport. By the time Alyssa left to go back to Germany she had taught Lachlan to count from 1-20 in English and to count to 1-10 in German, colours & shapes, she had toilet trained him (her major goal for her time with us was achieved - yay!) and he'd taught her all about Richie and the All Blacks! When the RWC was on I got both Alyssa and Lachlan "Richie" Bears - it's so cute that Alyssa's now German Richie and Lachlan's Kiwi Richie still keep in regular contact on Skype!

Being a working Mum means that at times you do feel like you miss out on milestones in your child’s life but I am so glad we had someone as caring, passionate and genuinely loving with Lachlan for these moments in his life. It's the small things in life that can mean so much and Alyssa definitely appreciated these. When Alyssa left she gifted me an external memory stick with ALL of the photos that she had from her time here in New Zealand, including Lachlan learning to ride his 'big boy' bike from Santa, potty & toilet training, family trips away that we had together, messy play & learning activities at home, preschool events, playgroup outings and most importantly (in Lachlan's world anyway) RWC events, meeting some of the All Blacks and the World Cup Parade!

Six months went far too quickly and unfortunately Alyssa had to return to Germany. As the time drew nearer Alyssa was very involved in our search for another fabulous Au Pair and we now have Alina as part of our family. For her farewell, as requested by Alyssa we had a big ol’ family roast dinner followed by Pavlova (turns out Germans love Pavlova just as much as Kiwi's). It was so nice to spend this special time with Alyssa doing what we loved best, eating, drinking, being entertained by Lachlan and spending happy times together. I had a strict rule in our last week couple of weeks together when the realisation that the time was drawing nearer, don't start crying or I will start too! We were doing pretty well until the airport! Saying goodbye to Alyssa was so unbelievably hard, not only had she been the carer for the most precious thing in my life she had become a great friend who I could always rely on and trusted with all my heart and a major part of our family.

We are now pregnant with our second child and when Alyssa heard the news (well saw the cute little scan picture sent via the internet) even though it was the middle of the night in Germany she messaged straight away and we spent a good while chatting, she was so happy she cried and wished that she would be here with us for the new arrival. At this stage we had not Skyped since Alyssa had left us and she was concerned that Lachlan might not remember her (this made me laugh as I know Lachlan will never forget Alyssa). Alyssa explained that the reason that she had not been in great contact with us since leaving was that she was finding life without us, especially without Lachlan, harder than expected. This really hit home for me, obviously I had been thinking about how different life was for us without Alyssa but it wasn’t until now that I thought about how it must be for her and how much Alyssa's time here in New Zealand with us had impacted her life too.
We miss Alyssa dearly and often speak about her at home, Lachlan has the beautiful picture, I have attached, in pride of place on his bookcase in his bedroom and a special little photo album of just photos of the two of them which he often looks back through and recalls all the special moments they shared together!
nshore - 11:24 AM on Thu-19-Jul-2012 reply | message
Laura: Germany

I would love to nominate our au pair Laura as au pair of the year.

We only have one month left with Laura and I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving.
Laura joined our very fresh family just three weeks after Max was born. He is our first child so you can imagine we were also figuring out how to be parents as well as welcome a second new person into our house! Laura just fitted into our madhouse right away and instantly has become part of the family.
Laura has been more like a big sister for Max than anything. She truly loves him and you can see her pride in him and his eyes light up when he is with her. She has always been conscious to make Max’s time with my husband and I the most special, but you can see the special bond they have. She makes even the most mundane things fun and you can hear squeals of laughter throughout the house.
Laura is an active, outdoors, social, generous and bubbly person and is also a very good social co-ordinator for all the local au-pairs! Within a week of being in a new country she was arranging to meet with like minded au pairs, never turning down any invitations to get amongst it and now has an established social network and a great close group of au pairs who all hang out together and have play dates at everyone’s houses for baking, making decorations, and just hanging out with all the kids.

Max is so lucky to have an au pair like Laura who has installed flexibility, adaptability and a love of being outside in him. She is the one that has introduced him to swimming, music groups, playcentre and taken him on so many cool excursions. But she is also able to make a quiet day at home (she calls them her Laura and Max days) into something special every time.
Laura will send us a picture and a quick update of what Max is up to during the day – she did this from very early on when she could see I was struggling with being back at work. This simple gesture literally can turn our days from average to amazing and they always make me smile. On my first day at work, Laura had made me a ‘survival kit’ with little reminders and pictures of Max – all doused in talcum powder, my favourite smell!

Flexibility was a big thing we required when looking for an au pair and Laura is one of the most easy-going and flexible personalities I have met. Our schedules change every day and it is an amazing feeling to know if we are stuck at work or in traffic, if someone needs picking up, if there are other jobs to be done, Laura always says ‘no problem’... every time. I know Max always is safe, having fun and has a great routine and I NEVER worry about him when he is with her.

Lastly, the rest of our family love Laura almost more than they love us... that is our menagerie of animals on our lifestyle block. Laura has pretty much adopted one of our dogs Elmo since she landed and even took him to dog agility weekly!. She helps us look after the dogs, cats, pigs, chickens and horses and has embraced living in a semi rural environment. The best example of how Laura is just Laura is the attached picture. Whilst she is an amazing baker, this time she exceeded herself, making a tuna sausage birthday cake for the dogs 6th Birthdays !

Laura will have been with us for 9 months by the time she leaves, but there was truly some thoughts that maybe we could convince her to stay forever! Alas university calls and we will miss Laura so so much - we all well up with tears when any conversation about her departure comes up so we just don’t talk about it. We know we will always stay in touch and Max will have a special place in Laura’s life.

Laura, thanks so much for EVERYTHING. You will always be a member of our madhouse!
Love Nicky, Kelvin, Max and all the animals xx
PrattFamily - 2:58 PM on Wed-18-Jul-2012 reply | message
Johanna, Germany

I wanted to nominate my lovely Au Pair Johanna Gessner as Au Pair of the Year.

Johanna has been my first Au Pair and came into my household in what was a very difficult time for me, having just separated from my husband and desperately needing someone to look after my 2 lovely, but very full on, children, Ben aged 3 and Bella aged 4. The kids were going through a rough time too with their parents obviously not living in the same house anymore and the ongoing earthquakes causing a lot of anxiety for everyone. Johanna is mature for her 20 years and understood and managed these challenges and much more!

Johanna only had a few days to settle in before I had to head back to work and she got stuck right in. She had to adapt to my ‘interesting’ shift times, with me working at the hospital. She is only ever a text away if I’m running late or I need her to get dinner on. The biggest challenge for her would be that my son has Cystic Fibrosis and she has been fantastic at managing his care regime, including giving medications, inhalers, putting creams on and dealing with illnesses. Most recently, Ben has been very unwell with a bowel blockage, and Johanna knew something wasn’t right with him and called me straight away at work to let me know. He consequently had to spend a week in hospital and she dealt with that (which must have been pretty scary for a young girl to see a small child in such pain) and looking after my daughter and helping out while Ben was in hospital.

We have just moved house too and Johanna has been fantastic with helping with the shift, looking after the kids and helping me unpack! I have been quite stressed out, but she eases that just by doing things without having to be asked. Nothing is ever a problem and at the same time, she is getting to see our wonderful country!

The kids love her and ask where she is when she is not around. She cooks, is tidy, takes the kids out, takes them to preschool/playgroup and really has just fitted into our house and become a member of our family. I have a friend who has been an enormous help to me through a fairly stressful period of my life. Someone that has listened to me and helped out with the kids and I wish she didn’t have to leave in May! The kids are going to miss her incredibly, as will I, but I know we will always stay in touch!
TheMollerFamily - 3:41 PM on Tue-17-Jul-2012 reply | message
Joan, Denmark

We will miss Joan terribly when she returns to Denmark. She has brought a consistently positive, can-do attitude that would make any Kiwi proud. She has shown tenacity, been conscientious and shown a true interest and understanding in of people and personalities which belies her age. She has been an excellent role model. Healthy, calm, funny, kind, and structured as well as setting goals for herself (doing the womens tri-series triathlon) which the kids saw her go set off for training each day and the kids got to make “Go Joan” signs and cheer her on the day!

Over the duration Joan has developed her special niche which we really,really appreciate; a commitment to bed time routine ending in singing the children to sleep every night she is working.

She has gone that extra mile being generous with her time and ideas. For example 1) shared with us special Danish traditions by making a Christmas calendar with little presents for each day leading up to Christmas day and waking up birthday children with singing of “happy birthday”. 2) Made up “countdown to birthday charts” where the child rips off the number of the day until their birthday, 3) letting me pop out to pick up my travelling husband from the airport late at night, if she was home anyway.

Also, she has been responsible for increasing the in-bound tourism to NZ and Australia through her family and school friends making journeys to NZ/Australia to see her!

The above are just some of the reasons why we would are proud to nominate Joan as Au Pair of the past five months! We will be very sad to see her leave us but know she will do well in her next challenge.


Shelzie - 7:39 PM on Mon-16-Jul-2012 reply | message
Ramona,Germany<br><br>I would like to nominate a truly awesome Au Pair who possibly touched on the lives of all the Au Pairs in the Waikato Region. This is the girl who said to me, she came to New Zealand to be an Au Pair first, and see some sights along the way.<br><br>Ramona had two very cool boys in her care, and did this to the very best of her ability. She attended every Au Pair/ Child outing available (if they were able) and also encouraged other Au Pairs to attend. Ramona was here a bit longer than most Au Pairs due to the dedication to her host family. She actually wanted to be here to see her youngest child in the family go off to school. Because Ramona was very familiar with the Au Pair way of life she always took it upon herself to introduce herself new Au Pairs to the region, and also go out of her way to make them feel welcome. This did earn her the title of Team Leader (a role she had been doing for a long while without a title).<br><br>With this title Ramona set about setting up extra events, and when things got very busy for me (before the addition of Jess to our region) she, alongside another super Au Pair would organise extra get together. It was even known that she organised car sharing so that no body missed out! She was always up to something to do with Au Pair Link. If she thought she could help out another Au Pair, she would. If she could help out either Jess or myself she would. But all the while her dedication to her two boys and host family shone through.<br><br>I feel Ramona very much deserve the title of Au Pair of the year, as she was a very dedicated Au Pair who started off as just wanting to be with her family and do her job, but gave so much extra to our region. I do not think there would be a past Au Pair or in fact current Au Pair who does not know her or has not heard her name and this is why I have nominated her.
Slatzfamily - 7:00 PM on Mon-16-Jul-2012 reply | message
Alex, Germany

We would like to nominate our wonderful Au Pair Alex for the Au Pair of the Year, Alexander came to us from Germany in January this year. He slotted into our family straight away and both our kids, aged 9 and 5, have jumped at the chance to have a wonderful big brother in their lives. He is a gourmet cook and is always willing to experiment with his cooking and learning NZ dishes, while also adapting them to our pallets. His is great with arts and crafts and several times he has helped the children create amazing artworks for birthdays and anniversarys. Alex is enjoying his time in New Zealand and during his recent holiday our daughter asked everyday when we would see him again.

Alex has thrown himself into the NZ lifestyle, using his own time off to watch the children at their Saturday morning rugby, taking the children to swimming lessons and watching dance practices and go to school assemblies. He is always willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, I know that our kids have a stable, warm and loving environment when we are working long hours, they are willing to do homework and learn new technologies and Alex loves to share new information with them.

He is a valued member of our family, he always goes far beyound his job description and I know the kids will always have a big brother to look out for them. We thank Alex for choosing our family to spend his time in New Zealand with, its wonderful to have such a caring, dependable Au Pair in our home that looks after not only the children but the whole family. Thank you Alexander, you are appreciated more than you will ever know!
TaiFamily - 4:07 PM on Mon-16-Jul-2012 reply | message
Karla from Germany

Karla joined our family a couple of weeks ago. We are so lucky to have found the perfect Au pair to complement and support our family unit. Karla has fitted into our family and is enjoying NZ life and is very comfortable and at ease. We were very anxious of her arrival and how it would be to share our home with someone we didn't know. But she is just like a family member and we are all at ease with the new change in our home. Karla is cooking German dishes for us all to try, she even baked us a Black Forest Cake her first few days in the country, and she is an excellent cook! We are cooking some of our favorite Kiwi dishes for her to try. We all love to cook so the kitchen is a busy place! She is a very well rounded young lady who is confident to give anything a try. We don't have any hesitations for her to drive our children out and about. She took the girls to Tauranga during the school holidays to visit the their Nana, which their Nana enjoyed their visit very much! <br><br>Karla and I have been running together and she even helped me at my first Sugar Blues Workshop, by supporting me and then staying behind to help me tidy up etc. She is great with the animals too. We have 3 pigs, a goat, chickens and a cat, which she is happy to feed and tend to. Karla loves to draw, sing, read and play games, so she is perfect for our beautiful creative girls. I am over the moon we took the leap and made the right decision. I just hope she decides to stay longer, the girls have already asked if she will come back after her travels! She deserves to win, because she has already won in our eyes!
Twinmum - 3:25 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Isabel, Germany

Isabel joined us as an Au Pair in December 2011. She looks after our boy/girl twins who are now just over three years old for 35 hours a week.

Before Isabel started with us, we had had a number of different childcare providers, but Isabel has topped them all. From the moment she started, she developed a positive rapport with the twins and they instantly warmed to her. She fills their days with exciting activities such as swimming, trips to the park, making cookies, visits to the beach, all of which she ensures are absolutely child-focussed. Isabel manages to balance these activities with cooking for the twins and for our whole family every night. Isabel has boundless energy and enthusiasm and always remains positive with the children despite their testing moments at times.

Isabel also goes out of her way to support our whole family. If one of us is ill, Isabel will offer to help out even at the weekend. She is prepared to go far beyond her role. Nothing is ever too much for Isabel. I don’t think I have ever heard the word ‘no’ pass her lips! The icing on the cake (literally) was when Isabel was going on leave for two weeks, and instead of packing the evening before her trip, she spent making us dinner for the next two days as well as making me a carrot cake to say goodbye. Isabel also plays with the children for an hour or so every weekend. She says she needs a little ‘fix’ of the children every day, and they love spending time with her too.

Isabel has become a part of our family over the time she has been here. We would all love her to stay forever but she is returning to Germany in August to undertake a teacher training course, where I know she will continue her excellent work with children. We hope to replace Isabel but she will be a hard act to follow and we will never forget the inspirational work with our children during her time in New Zealand.
ScheeleFamily - 3:22 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Jessica, Germany

This is a long overdue nomination for Jessica Johnson, who is coming to the end of her stay with us. As I was returning to work earlier than planned, my husband and I decided an Au Pair was the way to go so our daughter could be at home with her routines. From the moment Jess arrived in our home, (well maybe about 5 minutes after arriving as our then 9-month old was, and still is, a shy wee thing with strangers), she has fitted in to our family ways and routines. Our daughter loves her and is completely comfortable with her. Jess has seen many milestones, given she arrived when Millar was only 9-months old. There was not a lot of rest though as by 10 months she was walking so Jess spent many hours bent in half, holding her hands as she learned to walk on her own. Since then she has been teaching her many words, body parts, and encouraging her with her learning (and there is much to learn!).

Our daughter, being a real outdoors girl now, Jess will spend hours outside, wandering up to the letter box, and having every aircraft pointed out to her, and every piece of gravel inspected. She has amazing patience and compassion for children. She is full of ideas for fun things to do, and the number of block towers she has built only to have smashed down…

Jess fits in with our family routine seamlessly. She has so much initiative, from her arrival she has slotted in and picked up on how we do things (and let’s be honest, we are all somewhat set in our ways!!). Whilst she is employed for 30 hours, that doesn’t stop her from doing extra. She is always offering assistance, or entertaining Millar while I get dinner or getting dinner while I entertain Millar. With a husband who is away regularly for work, Jess is that extra pair of hands, not only looking after her whilst I am at work, but right through to putting Millar to bed and tidying up the house. She is also great company in the evenings – a good TV buddy! My husband and I have even had the odd night out.

Jess is a sensible, caring, gentle person whose true love of children really shows. We are extremely lucky to have had Jess this year and there will be a true gap when she goes, as we will really see all the wee things that just get done without even being asked. And Millar will lose her ‘big sister’ who is always ready to play with her from the moment she gets up, till bedtime. Jess’s monthly stories about Millar are fabulous, and which will be fondly looked back on as Millar grows.
SimoneRose - 2:30 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Judith, Germany

This is a long overdue nomination for Judith Hoelscher to win the Au Pair of the Year Award. Judith started with us in April, a month before our 3rd son was due and joining his older brothers, aged 2 and 15mths at the time. We knew Keaton was needing to be a caesarean baby and hence the idea of getting Judith as an extra pair of hands that could lift our older sons into their cot / bed, highchairs etc.. (all the things I wouldn’t be able to do in the 6wks recovery timeframe).

From Judith’s 1st day, she proved to be so much more than “an extra pair of hands”, immediately becoming instead like an extra member of our family and gaining love, friendship and respect from not only ourselves, but also all our extended family and friends. We’ve been blown away many times, as have friends who have met her, at Judith’s natural ability with children. Her patience is never-ending... not once has she raised her voice or become frustrated with the boys and because of her gentle and calm demeanour, our previously “Terrible 2yr old” has calmed down immeasurably. Even personality traits such as having previously been too full-on and energetic to sit and read a book have changed, with him now arguing with his younger brother over who gets to sit on Judith’s lap for endless stories.
Judith’s employed for 40hrs a week but almost always goes over this – sometimes due to my husband travelling out of town or his long working hours, but largely because she’s such an integral part of our family that she (and us) enjoy her spending the whole day with the boys and rather than knocking off at 6pm, she will stay until the boys are bathed, stories are read and tucked up in bed. Despite not meant to be rostered on during weekends, there’s even been occasions where Simon’s work trips will run into the weekend and therefore Judith has chosen to forego any sightseeing around Akld or out of town to stay home and help me (all in addition to her 40hrs!).

Twice now, we’ve had the bad luck of our newborn needing to be admitted straight to hospital and he and myself spending 5 days, and on the second occasion, 4 days there. What was a very stressful situation was made so much easier knowing Judith was in complete control at home with our older sons and I didn’t need to worry at all about them and instead could focus all my attention on our baby. Each time, my husband reported that he would come home in the evenings after Judith had taken care of dinners, bathtime and everything else, to 2 very contented and happy little boys, not at all worried about their mother or baby brother having gone Missing In Action as they were having too much fun at home with Judith!

Despite our best efforts to have Judith extend her stay, she’s unfortunately sticking to her original plan of leaving NZ to arrive home to family and friends in time for Christmas. We’re already dreading her departure and I’m not only wondering how I will cope, but also how the boys will be without the exciting au pair outings such as Snow Planet, daily walks to the park, hours upon hours of hide & seek, story time, and all the other activities and games Judith fills their days with. I’ll just have to console them that we will definitely be taking a trip to Germany in the future so that they and ourselves can meet up with Judith again!!
GrunwellFamily - 2:23 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Samira, Germany

I would like to nominate our lovely Au Pair, Samira Lange for Au Pair of the Year 2012.

Samira join our family; Mum, Dad and three young boys Kaspa (5), Chase (2 1/2) and Travis 11 months in February this year.

Before leaving Germany Samira was keen to get to know our children and so we Skyped just about every week before she came out. Once here Samira was keen and eager to become apart of our family. Even with jet-lag she joined our family for the children's swimming lessons on her first day 'off' early on a Saturday morning, swimming and playing with the children. She spent pretty much her whole weekend playing happily with our boys.

Samira has amazing energy with our boys adore her. She has shown a beautiful love and respect for them and they have shown this to her in return. Nothing seems to phase Samira when it comes to looking after our boys. I'm constantly in ore of her endless enthusiasm. She has not let the daunting task of caring for three young boys phase her in the slightest, rather she has taken it all in her stride.

Samira is taking on board as much as she can while here in New Zealand, and going beyond what is required. She gladly volunteers for all sorts of interesting tasks including DIY; assisting my husband installing pink batts in the walls in ceilings and putting up gibb board. She has taken it upon herself to attend the monthly Playcentre meetings.

She is very outgoing and sporty, and even joined me with netball trails in her first couple of weeks with us but instead decided to joined the local running club. Unfortunately due injury (rolled ankle) Samira's goal of doing the 10 km run as part of the Rotorua Marathon was put to a holt, but at no time did she let her injury affect her care of out children, even though I'm sure it did cause her great pain. Samira has found that she is enjoying getting out and around New Zealand and doing bush walks and meeting lots of other new people.

Samira is an excellent role model for our children and we love having her as part of our family.
BaguleyFam - 2:19 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Natalie, Germany

Could I please nominate Natalie for Au Pair of the Year 2012. I’ve been meaning to do it for months and its my last chance before she leaves. She truly deserves it. Natalie is the most amazing Au Pair and we are so truly lucky to have her, our two small girls think she is the coolest and most loving big sister. Every day she thinks of imaginative and fun games and outings to take them on, she is motivated and creative and always encourages their individual interests. Natalie is very nurturing and caring and will happily sit all day with a grizzling child on her lap if they are sick and upset. Each day when she starts work the kids race to give her a hug and a kiss and she greets them with a huge smile. Nothing is too much trouble for Natalie she completes every task willingly and properly and we never have any reason to correct her work. She is a pleasure to have around the house and we are excited to help her with her final travel plans before she leaves us in October. My girls favourite hobby is making huts in the lounge and she makes more and more imaginative and complex huts for them each week. Lately they have been lying on the floor after dinner with the lights off and Natalie uses a torch to tell the children fun stories with her hand shadows on the ceiling. She manages to accomplish things with the children that we are unable to – like getting their teeth brushed without a fight each day, and getting them to wear pony tails in their hair, and has even shown them how to put their own dishes in the dishwasher (they are 2 and 3). It is going to be a huge blow to us when she leaves. She is going to make a wonderful teacher back in Germany and I really hope that she stays part of our lives as she is such a truly wonderful girl and an outstanding Au Pair.
mclachlan1 - 2:16 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Nils, Germany

When I first picked up Nils in October from Auckland Airport, with the kids in the car I just knew when we were driving back to Hamilton, that he was going to just fit in immediately, when he would nicely suggest to the kids to wait for each other to finish their conversation (which I thought was a crack up) and he had only just met them!

Nils just settle in straight away, he took some time to get used to cooking but now he’s OUR MASTER CHEF!

Nils is just a dream, nothing is a problem for him, he works longer hours than he is suppost to without any expectations and issues. He cooks dinner (and he’s a tidy cook) the kids don’t complain about his cooking, however they do with mine! When he’s quiet he cleans out pantries, fridges, kitchen cupboards, he has 3 kids to look after and still finds the time to do that! He helps us mow the lawns (it helps that we have a ride on), on the weekends. He comes to the kids rugby on a Saturday morning, even though it’s his time off and he misses out on a sleep in. He cleaned the garage last week and cleaned the fridge. He always writes a shopping list for me seen I don’t do the dinners and today he has popped into the grocery store to collect some items we need for the next couple of days without been told.
He co-ordinates any after school activities with Tyler's play mates. He plays outside with the kids training them and helping them with their rugby skills (after he’s helped them with homework).

Four weeks ago I went over to China on business and left the 3 kids and the husband in Nils capable hands. For two weeks Nils took over the majority of my role in the household, and Glen said he was absolutely wonderful, giving the kids baths, feeding them and getting them all ready for bed so when Glen came home from work he was able to relax a bit. Nils went as far as helping feed the animals at night which meant that was one less thing Glen had to do when he got home.

I could go on further with the other things that Nils does that he does not need to do but does to help our family and Glen and I , but I have already written a page on him and hey lets face it, I don’t want to give him a big head!

We think Nils is absolutely wonderful and the best thing that has happened in our house since our last child was born 2 years ago. Nils is a mature, caring and capable young man which we have thoroughly enjoyed his company, and I’m sure tears will flow when our friend and family member heads back over to Germany in July. However the kids have threatened to lock the doors and windows and not let him leave, I’m with them on this one.

Thank you Nils for being YOU!!!
PriestFamily - 2:11 PM on Fri-13-Jul-2012 reply | message
Laura, Germany

I would like to nominate Laura Bax as the Au Pair of the Year because she always goes above and beyond my expectations. Laura is looking after my three children - a 3 year old boy, and 15 months old twin girls. I have recently gone back to full time work and upon returning from my first day at work, I found a special dinner waiting for me, congratulating me on completing the first day! Furthermore, I found the whole linen cupboard tidied up, the washing done, the garden deck cleaned up and so much more. She can’t be stopped helping out even on the weekends and after hours. We are so glad she is our "SUPER WOMAN" as we like to nick name her.


   
 
 
 
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