We have an au pair!
I would say that it's her fault that I have already missed a day of NaBloPoMo, but that just seems rude given how lovely she is, so I won't put that on her. It is, however, true that last night was dedicated to last-minute preparations for her arrival plus a girls' night with my mom to keep me awake before I went to the airport to pick up the newest member of our family (let's call her Z for now).
She had a smile on her face as she came through security and tears in her eyes as she gave me a big hug, and she pretty much hasn't stopped smiling since she arrived. She was up with the Maddie and Riley birds, has been completely hands-on all day, and just projects an air of caring and joy. Maddie and Riley have taken to her immediately—granted, they are pretty loving—and it all just feels right.
Sure, there's bound to be a honeymoon period and of course there will be bumps along the way. But the first 24 hours leave me reassured that the decision to host an au pair for a year is the right one for our family right now, and that this is the start of something good.
UPDATE: Discussion of difficulty in reaching Bolivia by telephone follows. Thanks to those who gave suggestions on ways to resolve this. Looks like MagicJack wins for now!
It turns out that calling Bolivia, Z's home country, is no easy feat. Sure, it's easy enough to pick up a land-line phone and dial a number there, but (a) it can take a few times to get connected, (b) it's expensive as all hell, and (c) I don't have a land line, nor do I want to get one.
I had been counting on Z being able to Skype to video chat for free with her family and friends, and I think that will work with a subset of those she wants to be in touch with back home. But there is a good-sized cohort of folks in Bolivia, including her parents, that either aren't online at home at all or aren't online regularly. Having lived overseas myself, I know that having a reliable way to be in touch with family and friends is critical to good mental health, so I'm trying to figure out a relatively simple way for Z to stay connected.
My first thought was to use Skype for Z to call cell and land lines from her comptuer, and that's still an option. It's not free, of course, but I figured the $15/month for their monthly unlimited worldwide plan was a fine tradeoff for Z's mental health. Well, of course, Bolivia is not on their unlimited worldwide monthly calling plans, and the pay-per-minute rates hover around $0.20.
Calling cards are OK, but the 800-number access line on the one we bought today would not work when dialed from my cell, so if land-line is required for calling cards to work, that's not a real option. My dad pointed out that perhaps it's less cost-prohibitive for Z's family to call from Bolivia to the States, so now I'm thinking that we can get her set up with a Skype Online Number for her friends and family to use to call her, but it looks like that's only valid for calls coming from the country in which you set up the number, grrr. (I'm having a hard time understanding the logistics of that setup.)
I'm not sure how Bolivia has been left behind when it comes to modern telecommunications, but there you have it. At worst, Z will be able to call Bolivian cell and landlines from within Skype at rates that strike me as ridiculously high rates; I'll have to figure out if I can/should pay for some amount of those calls. If family can also call her, all the better, but I'm not sure about that part.
For today, though, I've thought about it enough. I need some sleep! We've got a whole lot of nothing planned for tomorrow, then Sunday we'll spend some time with my mom and stepdad. I'm off work Monday and Tuesday to help with the settling in and to oversee the first two days of normal schedule school dropoff/pickup. Maybe by then we'll have the calling sorted out. Advice appreciated.