A Second Home
By Magdalena W.—pictured with her host kids Miles, Naomi and Adele
"Home is where your heart is. Now I can truly say that I have two homes: one in Poland and one in Texas.
When I saw my three little host kids for the first time at the airport with huge posters saying 'Welcome to the family Magdalena,' I felt very emotional because the posters were bigger than the kids. From that moment I knew my heart belonged to them.
My host children have great personalities and good hearts. They are very active kids which like scooter races, baking cookies and dressing up. Besides, they love our daily adventures like playing in the children's museum or simply going to the store to see the toys. They appreciate small things and are very thankful. Like in every family, you need to put a lot of effort to help host parents in raising their children. However, if in return you receive love, praise and you know that you can count on them, then there is nothing more motivating."
The Dynamic Duo
By Andressa R.—pictured with her host parents Patrick and Tim, and host kids Asher and Liam
"My host parents and I had such a great connection that we were teasing each other on the first week. I can talk about anything with them, I feel like they're my friends because I can open myself about any topic and we will laugh about it together. We would stay up talking about all sorts of things until 1 or 2 am or even watching shows on TV.
In my first week here they took me to a Brazilian store and asked me to buy everything that I loved that they should try, and we bought supplies to make it at home as well. We had Brazilian food during 3 or 4 nights. Patrick spent hours cooking 4 different dishes and trying to make me feel welcome and at home.
Once, I had such a strong cramp episode, Patrick went to the store, bought chocolate ice cream, rented movies, made brownies and gave me a blanket telling me to lay down on the couch and have a light day. Tim tried to help me offering to take a bath on their jacuzzi in their bathroom and giving me heating pads.
I love them and I'm thankful of having them in my life because they are the type of people that hug me when I need and give me support and care. I will miss each one of them so much when I leave, but I'm sure that our friendship won't have an end; I'll try my best to keep in contact and still be part of their lives. The precious moments and times we lived together will be forever in my heart."
The Little Things
By Faby A.—pictured with her host child Linden
"What makes the Cruse family so amazing? I can tell you that it's not the gifts they give me or the vacations they've taken me to. It's not their cars or their beautiful homes.
No. What the Cruses have given me is worth so much more: it's all the little things. Because when you're meant to spend a year with three people you've never met before, it's not the grand gestures that make the experience amazing, but the little things.
It's every Monday when Ryan and I watch our favorite TV show. And every dinner we share together, most of them entertained by Julia's insane stories about the hospital where she's currently working. It's every smile Linden grants me when she's swinging, begging me to push her just a little bit higher. Because a year ago I would have never thought possible that a two year old would become my greatest friend and closest confidante.
It's every time Julia and Ryan introduce me to their friends by using my name and not only the title 'our au pair.' It's the fact that they never forget to bring my favorite coffee from the grocery store even though they only drink tea. Or the fact that whenever someone asks them to take a family picture, they never forget to include me.
Together, Julia, Ryan, Linden and I have shared laughter, angst, excitement, tiredness. We've been through one family holiday, tens of nights vegging out on the couch, a hundred meals... countless memories that will forever stay with us."