AuPairMom is thankful for … TaCL

by cv harquail on November 25, 2014

We all know her. We all love her.

TaCL : the internet-famous TakingAComputerLunch.

thankful owlShe’s #1 of 2,200

Over the course of the 6+ years of AuPairMom, around 2,200 different people have contributed to the blog by offering advice in the comments.

It’s TaCL’s 5 Year Anniversary on Au Pair Mom, and I think it’s time we celebrated her. Don’t you?

One of the reasons that TaCL is so famous, and it’s the same as the reasons why we are thankful for her, is that she’s had a powerful, positive impact on this community. It’s not simply the volume of her comments, or the length of time that she’s been participating, but rather the usefulness, relevance, and straight-shooting kindness that her comments offer.

Here’s just a glimpse of  TaCL’s impact:

Other commenters have referred to her/her ideas in their own comments over 350 times.

TaCL has contributed not just through comments. She’s had some guest posts on the front page of the blog, and emailed me and others ‘backstage’ with more private advice.

You need help? TaCL is here.  

After a few comments we start to get to know you.  Many of you we get to know pretty well, because you comment regularly enough and honestly enough that we get a sense of the details of your lives, and of the depth of your spirits.

Over these 5 years, we’ve learned about The Camel and the challenges of a host child with special needs, we’ve learned that her son can rarely find his library card, that her DH does grocery shopping and teaches their au pairs to drive, that TaCL is not afraid of the ‘reset conversation’ and that she has an honest, thoughtful, helpful idea for any problem you can even imagine.

Other than that, though, TaCL is a bit of a mystery. For example, do you have any idea how many comments she has contributed to this blog?

[Note: the person who guesses the closet number and mentions this in the comments, before Dec 15th, will win a copy of my favorite-right-now book, Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed.]

That’s not the only TaCL mystery.

  • Does anyone know her first name?
  • Where she lives?
  • What else she reads on line?
  • Why she ever chose this nom de mom?
  • Whether she’s ever posted as someone else?

More importantly– does anyone know what we’re going to do when TaCL’s kids age out of the au pair program, and she’s not a host mom anymore?

I can hardly bear that thought, and I’m not alone in dreading that day.

I am Thankful For…

I am thankful for the 2,200 people who’ve commented directly on the blog. I’m thankful for the 530,000+ readers who’ve come to the blog, read the stories, posts and comments, and for the large portion of those readers who’ve taken wisdom from the blog and applied it in their own families to improve their host family-au pair experiences.

I am thankful for the other frequent commenters, those active now and those who’ve been active in the past, because there are about 50 members of the community who we could describe as co-creators of the blog. (I wish I could write about all of you– and maybe over this next year, we will??)

Without you, without them, this blog would just be me opining into the void about what I personally think is the best thing. Which after some point would be both boring and limited in its usefulness.

I am especially thankful for the wisdom of host parents like TaCL, who’ve made it so much easier and more meaningful to be a host parent.

Are you feeling thankful for the moms, dads, au pairs, and au pair professionals who comment on the blog? 

Let’s use the comments to call out some contributors and community members whose participation on the blog has made a difference in how you enjoy being a host parent or an au pair.

And just this once, TaCL, let us show how much we have learned from you.  



See also:  Au Pairs and Common Sense: Guest Post by TakingAComputerLunch

Thankful Owl image from Dreamy Breeze on Etsy.


AuPairMom Blog Notes: When you email for advice…

by cv harquail on November 25, 2014

[Note: This post should help to clarify what you can expect when you email AuPairMom with a question. It aims to put into black and white the principles by which we've been operating for a while. Please email with any questions! ~cvh]

When you email AuPairMom for advice, here are some things you should know:

1. I may take your email text, in part or in full, to use within a post about the topic you are asking about.

Often in order to share useful advice, people need some of the details of the situation.

Generally, I tend to edit the emails and remove some specifics, (e.g., city you’re in, actual country you are from, actual ages and genders of host kids) where those specifics are not critical

2. I will NOT post your name, email address or other specific identifying information, in an effort to keep the conversation about the issues that are raised and not about the particular individuals involved.

3. If you want to share your situation BUT keep some of the details private, you must TELL ME SPECIFICALLY which bits of information these are.

It is up to you to determine want you want to share with me/ AuPairMom vs what you want to remain off the blog itself.

4. I expect that your emails tell the truth as you see it, and that you aren’t adding additional ‘facts’ or over-dramatizing what’s happening.

We have to take your word for things since we aren’t there to assess the situation ourselves (obviously), so your word must be as honest and reliable as you can make it.

5. I am happy to add corrections (and note that they are corrections) if any agency guideline or process is incorrectly described in the post itself or by any of the commenters.


Please email me if you believe there is something inaccurate, and send me a link to the correct information.

That said, I will not add ‘corrections’ that are the ‘other side’ of the situation. We will not get into an “X said this/ Y said that” situation.

If there are any other issues abut which I should make my policy clear, please let me know via email at mom at aupairmom. dot com.

Ultimately, the reasons to email us need to include not only to get help for your individual situation but also to create advice and wisdom for the other users of the blog who might contribute to or learn from the discussions on any post.

And as always, please make an effort to search the blog for advice on your situation before emailing. I can’t personally answer each email, and I am not able to send you replies to commonly-asked questions that have already been answered here on the blog.



IMG_0180My family is on our way to Ohio to see Grandma perform in The Glass Menagerie and to celebrate her 8oth Birthday!

It was on a long drive to Ohio back in 2008 when I realized that we needed  AuPairMom — so in celebration of (yet another) 8.5 hour ride, here’s an open thread for the long weekend.

This open thread has a special twist though:  

To contribute, you must use the phrase “I am grateful for our AuPair because…”

Then add anything you want to about why you’re grateful for her/him.   You don’t have to use this exact phrase– a reasonable facsimile will do.  Any threads that diverge from this concept of gratitude will be pended for another day.  Let’s see what we can make with this challenge!

(Au Pairs-- of course you can join in! Just tell us what you’re grateful for about host families, host kids, this au pair adventure, … )


TurnAround Situations With Au Pairs and Host Parents: Do they exist?

by cv harquail November 12, 2014

ReturningHM claims that they do: We have had three major turnaround situations over the 8 years we’ve been hosting, two of which happened on the cusp of rematch, so they do work out some of the time! I have to believe this is true– with all the good advice that gets shared here, surely someone’s […]

72 comments Read the full article →

Share The Fun and the Not-So-Fun with Your Au Pair

by cv harquail November 11, 2014

Prompted by our conversation over the weekend about the au pair who was unhappy with the ratio of chores-to-child interaction in his work week, I’m reposting something from 2009: One super-helpful piece of advice my friend Adelaide gave me when we got our first au pair was “Be Sure to Share the Cream.” Share both […]

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Au Pair Host Family Fun for Thanksgiving

by cv harquail November 10, 2014
thanksgiving au pair celebrating, blogs about au pairs

20 Fun Things You Can Do with Family on Thanksgiving Hi Host moms—  I found this great list of ideas for Thanksgiving on the DumbLittleMan Tips for Life blog. It’s such a great list that there is no way to summarize it and do it justice, so I’m excerpting it in large chunks… but if […]

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Childcare vs. Child Chores: What’s a fair balance for an Au Pair?

by cv harquail November 7, 2014
Peg Man

An Au Pair’s primary role is child care– as in, caring for the actual child.   Virtually no young adult comes to the US for a year to do a kid’s laundry, make the kid’s bed, or clean splashed applesauce off the kitchen floor. While the child-related housework chores are certainly part of the tasks […]

43 comments Read the full article →

3 Reasons To Get A Flu Shot- with your Au Pair

by cv harquail November 3, 2014

Cold’n sneezy season. I have just returned from CVS, where I bought zinc lozenges, throat spray, tissues, Ricola, and sudafed. And, I got a flu shot. There’s nothing you can do about a cold– just deal with it, wash your hands, and move on. But the flu? The real, honest-to-goodness slay-you-with-sickness-phlem-and-fever flu? That can be […]

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Your Au Pair Handbook: Can it help you screen for the right candidate?

by cv harquail November 1, 2014

Your Host Family Handbook can be a good tool for screening prospective Au Pair Candidates. Handbooks generally outline the concrete expectations of a host family as well as the particular rules and parameters that an au pair is expected to work with.  Sure, a long handbook might seem daunting to an au pair candidate, but […]

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What do Au Pair Community Counselors Want to Know?

by cv harquail October 29, 2014
allyvests dog

Community Counselors, LCCs and ARs, are the unsung heroes of the au pairing community.  A fabulously great community counselor is rare, a good community counselor is often taken for granted, and an underperforming community counselor can sink an entire cluster of au pairs. Given the importance of their roles, it’s kind of surprising how rarely any […]

42 comments Read the full article →