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|Iain, Sandy, Callista, Diana, & Mike... (essay date 6th March 2010)
Hi! Here is some information about our family, and where we live, and what life with us will be like.
The biggest change came when I had the opportunity to work in New York City. We got married, and moved to the USA in the summer of 1998. Mike quickly found employment with a software company who sponsored us for a green card which we got in 2001. Mike finally became a US Citizen in 2008!
Our first child, Iain, was born in March 2003. In July, when Diana went back to work, Mike resigned from his software job to take up a new career as a full-time father. Up until that time we had lived in an apartment in the centre of New York City. Later that year, we decided the time had come to move out of the city, and we eventually bought a large house in the town of Mamaroneck, which is around 15 miles/25km from the centre of New York City. We found Iain was so much fun that we decided to have a second child quickly, and we had Alexander (Sandy) in November 2004. We decided that we needed to have one-on-one help with the boys and joined the au pair program in September 2004 – it's been a great experience for us, we've had three wonderful au pairs, Ewelina from Poland, Gunita from Latvia, and Angie from Austria, our current au pair. In November 2007 we had our third (and last!) child - a girl, Callista (known as 'Cally' in everyday language). Mike remains as a full-time stay-at-home dad, but he's also a part-time firefighter here in Mamaroneck.
OK, time to tell you a bit more about Iain, Sandy, and Callista. The children
all got their own internet domains as birthday presents and you can see
many pictures of them at http://www.iainjamesross.com , http://www.sandydonaldross.com
, and http://www.callistajaneross.com
Being 'foreign' in America, we perhaps have a more 'open', friendly, and understanding attitude to people from different cultures than some Americans do. When we lived in the UK we had an 'open house' with many friends from different countries and cultures staying with us. We have lived with Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Atheists, and others, and have friends from Germany, The Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Russia, The Ukraine, Mongolia, Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, The Ivory Coast, Australia, New Zealand etc. I think you understand the idea! Having someone from a different culture living with us is something we have experience of, and we enjoy it very much.
The part of America we live in, close to New York, is both very prosperous,
and very diverse - there are many non-American people in our town and the
area around it. People from all over the world live in this area. So whatever
country our Au Pair comes from, she will not find it hard to find people
from your own background to be friendly with. There is also a very active Au Pair network in Westchester so you shouldn’t
have any difficulty meeting friends. Our previous Au Pair, Gunita, was
especially active in this, regularly hosting 'au pair movie nights' in
our house, with up to 20 au pairs from every corner of the world visiting!:
Ok, now to tell you about our house:
We expect you to be able to drive well, and you will be able to drive our
cars - we have the following cars:
What else? Rules... we will discuss this with you, but we are not very 'strict' people. We're not going to tell you things like when you must be home in the evening! (unless you are 'on duty' that evening of course!) We expect you to be adult, responsible, reasonable and fair - things like no loud music late at night. Other 'rules' are just obvious common sense - for instance, keeping the children under close control in the garden, because the rocks can be dangerous. Don't even think about trying to drive if you have had a drink. Just normal things like that. Of course the number 1 rule is that if there is a problem of any kind you should speak up about it.
One thing you should
be aware of - you will be a member of our family, and part of that is going on
holiday with us! Every year or two we will be going to Scotland, where we have a second
house, for 2-4 weeks. It's a smaller house, very old - very different to
our house in America! But it's pretty, and is in the beautiful North of
Our childrens’ happiness is the most important thing in the world for us. We are not afraid for the children to form affectionate bonds with their caregivers and we also believe that a child will not be happy if his caregiver is not happy. Consequently, we promise to live by the letter and the spirit of the au pair agreement and will try our hardest to make your experience a happy and memorable one. We've been told we're a very good host family - our last two au pairs both decided to stay with us for a second year. Please remember to ask us any questions, and if you come to live with us, we're sure you'll have a great time!
Iain, Sandy, Callista, Diana, & Mike
Last updated 6th March 2010
Words and images © 2010 Michael J. Ross