I had interviews with probably a dozen families, but three stood out: two families who were each expecting their first babies and a third family who needed care for Hallie, a nearly five-year old girl whose late September birthday missed the school enrollment cut-off date. I wanted to take all three, but was concerned about my ability to care for two infants, along with Hallie and my two girls (who were then four and five)...all while beginning our more formal foray into home education, too.
So, with regret about "losing" one baby, I finally settled on Hallie and the baby whose mom had been the very first to respond to my ad. But, as God would have it, the other baby's parents called several times that fall, wondering if I'd reconsider...and, finally, in December, I suggested they bring their daughter, N., over for a day "just to see."
Well, to make a long story short, the "fit" seemed clear to me almost instantly: Hallie would be leaving for kindergarten at the end of that school year so N. would essentially replace her and be a perfect, same-age playmate for Anna, the other baby. Taking her on right after Christmas would mean a hectic winter and spring for me, but the bigger picture was so appealing that I took a leap of faith and agreed.
So this was my adorable full-time crew in January, 2007:
And Anna and N. have been with me ever since, essentially growing up together for nine hours a day, 190 days a year, and becoming the best of friends...all while blessing my family with their presence as well. In addition, the gift of having the consistency of just these two super families for all this time - which will continue because each is soon expecting a new bundle of joy! - has been amazing for me as a caregiver. Truly, I couldn't ask for a better situation...which has long made me so glad I "took that chance" back in 2006.
Hallie, of course, did go off to school. But we've been able to see her on a regular basis over the years...including today, which also marked Anna's first and N.'s second day back after summer vacation.
As with all my full-time charges, Hallie's mom is a teacher. And the teachers have meetings and workdays between now and next Wednesday, the first student day, so Hallie needed a caregiver between now and then. Rachel and Abigail adore Hallie, and she's one of the sweetest girls I've ever met so - though it meant re-arranging our schedule a bit - it was my pleasure to say yes.
And, to mark the occasion of having everyone back, we decided to take a field trip - to Heritage Hill State Park - where the girls enjoyed lounging on the pavilion, trying their hands at an old-fashioned printing press, listening to a very engaging presentation by the "blacksmith," helping with an apple pie at the Belgian Farm, and "mustering" on The Green. This was my beautiful crew today:
All the same girls, three and a half years later! So different...yet still so much the same.