Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Everyone loves Marcus


I spent a year in Germany as an exchange student when I was 15 and lived with a host family who had 2 little boys aged 5 and 2. That was 22 years ago. My youngest host brother, Marcus, is now 24 and currently studying in Queensland for a Semester. He decided to visit us during his University break after first hiking his way around Tasmania. We had such a fun time with him. The Kids warmed to him instantly, a total stranger to them, other than the stories I had told them about he and his lovely family. I used to play Cowboys and Indians with him and push him around in the stroller and now he was doing the exact same with our 5 Kids. It made me feel very old indeed. Everyone thought Marcus was the Bees-knees. He played games with the Kids, swung them around by the ankles  and enjoyed being indoctrinated into the world of Minecraft. He offered to help around the farm, demolished all of my lame meals and let me practice my German on him. He was always happy, never got cross and was excellent company whilst I carried on with the mundane chores around the house. If anyone resisted brushing their teeth before bed Marcus just had to make the suggestion and they were straight in the bathroom. Everyone loved Marcus. The Kids wanted Marcus to stay forever and ever and cried when he left. Disneyland is now off the bucket list. They are all saving their pennies to visit Marcus in Munich.

Marcus had a pretty strenuous time hiking around Tasmania, sometimes doing 9 hr hikes each day and sleeping in a $20 tent in freezing cold conditions and eating tuna out of a can so he was quite happy to relax and hang out at home by the time he got to us. However, we managed to tick off the 2 things we do with interstate or international visitors - a trip to Zoodoo down the road and a day trip to Port Arthur Historic Site. Everyone loves to see the real Tasmania Devils at Zoodoo and the new additions there are the beautiful Zebras. Apparently it is the only place in Australia where you can actually pat a Zebra. It seriously made my day. And did you know that Zebras are black with white stripes rather than white with black stripes? Incredible.

We've been pondering for some time the prospect of having an au pair live with us as an extra pair of hands when the business opens up in June. It seems to be the only option that allows the flexibility that we'll need - a couple of hours in the morning to watch Flynn while I'm down at the Cafe and a few hours on the weekends whilst we are doing the markets. Have any of you had experience with a longer term house guest, au pair or exchange student? Daniel has already been receiving all manner of e-mails of potential candidates, "here's a girl from Sweden who sounds perfect" or "Amelie from France looks nice and has just been with a family with 6 Kids!". I've been a bit hesitant at the idea for many reasons but mostly because I am worried it would be more work having an extra person in the home when we are already such a big family and things are crazy enough. However, after having Marcus here I can see how great this option could be. Sitting on the Sofa last night midway through a row of knitting, I paused and pushed my reading glasses up the bridge of my nose and said "Darling, about this au pair business, I think I'm warming to the idea. Yes, I think a 24 year old energetic male with a European accent would be perfect don't you? Someone just like Marcus". I'm not sure we are on the same page yet.

Germany 1992 - Me and Marcus and Thomas

37 comments :

  1. Dear Mel,

    It's more than likely that I too would love Marcus. And I'm quite certain I would love to spend time with you and your family too! Beautiful pictures as always.

    Stephanie x

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  2. I think we'd love Marcus too!!! Your daughter looks so much like you in that pic! Xx

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    1. You would love Marcus, he is the nicest guy ever x

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  3. Sounds like every home should have a Marcus! Some of my friends have had au pairs, and generally, it has worked out really well. Good luck. x

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    1. Thanks Sara, most people do seem to have a good experience, but it's still the 1% I'm worried about..x

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  4. Hey Mel,
    Lovely candid shots. I think it's rather wonderful that you have stayed in contact with your host family for all those years. Marcus sounds like good people. With very nice teeth. Have you seen the Friends episode when Ross and Rachel get a male nanny for their daughter. Chandler calls him a Manny!
    Leanne xx

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    1. I HAVE seen that episode, Gold! I also remember Sex and The City 2 with Charlotte's lovely Irish Nanny :-)

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  5. He sounds like a treasure, one just like that is what you want. It looks like you all had a lovely time while he was with you, the photos are great. Good luck finding a nice boy to help you out. CJ xx

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  6. This is so lovely. What a handsome happy young man. You know what I think about au pairs. I should give you a call. It might be easier if I talked you through it. There's no easy answer because every au pair is different. Sometimes I thought it was like having another child in the house (bad au pair) other times it was like having a third adult who could read my mind and cut the tension and step in when needed. Email me if you want. I think you should get one.xo

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    1. I thought of you straight away Carmel, will definitely have a chat soon x

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  7. Just keep Marcus..surely he can use the flexible delivery method to continue his studies.
    You haven't aged a bit.

    cheers Kate

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    1. I think he's having more than a fabulous time up in Queensland but hopefully we may get to see him one more time before he goes back to Germany x

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  8. You need to start up a "We love Marcus" Facebook page. I think he would have a lot of fans. When I lived and worked in London a lot of my colleagues had Au Pairs - it's more affordable than a Nanny. One of the things they all mentioned is that it's really important for them to have there own space (for them and you) - that way it doesn't feel intrusive for you and gives them a chance to recharge again. Also set expectations right from the start, especially when it comes to what help you want around the house. Some Au Pairs just want to do light housework - but the expectation from the employer is somewhat different. I think you should go with the Male Au Pair - no gorgeous female Au Pairs allowed, wink wink. Love how Marcus is pushing your babies around in prams when you did the same with him, awesome. oxoxo

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    1. It's more the flexibility of care that we are interested in. Normal daycare wouldn't suit our needs because there may be the odd evening and weekend that I'd be doing a little bit of work so having an au pair would really be suitable. I know other families who have an entire wing or extra living space but we don't have that. I guess they would have to be happy with what we have to offer, just their own bedroom but lots of outdoor space :-)

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  9. Mel! We did it. Jess joined us from Munich in January and it has been the best thing. So much I could share about the wonderful experience. We used aupairworld.com. I'll email you some info, but feel free to call for a chat about it if you like. xoxo

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    1. Wow Rach, that's awesome to hear. I might just take you up on that offer. And she's from Munich too, that's so great x

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  10. What fun - to still be in contact with someone from so long ago - and for him to be someone that gets along so well with your family. Everyone looks like they had a great time. Crazy ostrich/emu picture!

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    1. It was all a surreal and crazy experience, seeing my little 2 year old host brother all grown up and hanging out with the Emus x

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  11. What a wonderful visit, and one that I'm sure will stay in your children's memories forever. I had to go back and look at the zebra picture again and sort out the stripe thing. I had no idea that white was the stripe colour. In the picture of you when you were in Germany the resemblance between you and your daughter is amazing!

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    1. Apparently the Zebras have all black skin and black hair and just the tips of the white stripes are white x

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  12. It is a great idea to get some help, but be very careful....some are lazy, have no common sense or practical skills, will ruin washing, can't handle basic cooking and proper child supervision is lax. BUT some are awesome, does it depend on personal maturity, cultural background or family upbringing?
    Good luck, take lots of advice ànd tips from those who have used the service.
    Marcus looks ideal, what shame he is heading home.

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    1. Thanks Margaret, we'll be sure to do lots of homework and get advice from anyone who can provide it before we go down this track x

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  13. Ku zu zang po (Greatings) Mel, I never miss your post, i love your beautiful place and the hard work you guys do. Wish i am a millionaire that your place would be my no.1 to visit or i could be your aupair so that we could crochet/knit all day long, LOL!

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  14. For a while some years ago I worked in a job that involved helping people sort out childcare, everything from nursery places to nannies. My only word of caution re. an au pair is many are not up to taking sole charge for more than short periods of time. The key is to use a good agency, and boys are often better than girls, honest (and will be totally up for ball games with all your boys).

    Oh, and I suspect I'd love Marcus too ... what a great smile he has :)

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  15. Just another thought Mel, Europeans have noooo idea of the vastness of this country, at all.....they sometimes focus on the coastal beach lifestyle, which is not happening in Tassie. Some of the àupairs get to other areas, realize the beach isn't a short drive away and only last a week or so before they take off and you have to repeat the selection process all over again. ...not good.
    If you get a good one it can change your life, just make sure alĺ your facts and requirements and their experience and expectations are up front . Good luck.

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  16. How lovely to reconnect with your host brother and have your own children experience him as Marcus must have experienced you. Judging by your photos it looks like you all had lots and lots of fun. As for your au pair : I happen to know a very keen volunteer, she lives in Canada and has lots of experience with children (having 4 of her own) - you wouldn't mind if she brought the whole family along would you? ; ) Best wishes for this next step, Mel.

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  17. My host nephew was a year old when I was on exchange in Japan and he's turning 21 this year! omg. I always hoped he'd come on exchange to Queensland and stay with us... I just know my boys would love him. Maybe as much as he loved me! ;)
    Hope you find the best au pair out there for your tribe. Michelle

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  18. How lovely that you're still in touch with your host family and that Marcus came to visit. It looks like someone like him would just fit the bill to support your home and business life in the upcoming months. Good luck with finding a suitable person xx

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  19. What a great story - I can see why Marcus was such a hit. And what a great place you visited.
    Caz xx

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  20. Gorgeous photos! I have no experience with live-in au pairs but a couple of friends have live-out (is that even a word?) au pairs and they are both lovely and the kids love them! In fact we often use them to babysit. x

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  21. I can just imagine how happy everyone was to have Marcus about. I think it's wonderful that you still kept in contact with your host family after all this time. Beautiful photos Mel. I hope you are all keeping well and warm. xxx

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  22. Marcus sounds like such a lovely guy, what a shame he couldn't be your au pair.

    A friend of mine hired a (female) nanny while her girls were small; she worked long hours in a very demanding full time job and felt that only a nanny gave her family the flexbility they needed, crucially still being able to look after a sick child, whereas a nursery of childminder would not take them if they were sick. It worked out really well for them, their nanny became a close family friend and a really positive part of her girls' childhoods. Good luck with whatever decision you come to! xx

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  23. A lovely familie and story.Greeting from Belgium.

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