ST. CHARLES – More than a year after saying goodbye to Bill Donehoo, his wife, Cindy Ruesch, and their three boys, Julia Brockmeyer returned in August to St. Charles to visit her American family.
The young German, who was an au pair for Teige, now 9, and twins Brenn and Finn, now 6, from summer 2015 to summer 2016, learned earlier this year that she had been named the 2017 Au Pair of the Year for Cultural Care, the largest government-regulated au pair program in the U.S.
Even before she won the title, Brockmeyer had plans to visit the Donehoos last month. But the $1,000 travel voucher she received with her award paid for her plane and train tickets, making the trip even more enjoyable.
There were no nerves when Bill Donehoo and the boys went to the airport to pick up Brockmeyer, mainly because they’ve been in constant communication during the last year, via emails, Skype calls and Snapchats, Donehoo said.
“It was so cool,” she said. “They made a sign for me at the airport. They were very loving; they didn’t want to let go of my hand. I was really excited to see them. They got so much bigger! It was kind of like always – it was like I never left, which was great.”
True to her bubbly and engaging personality, she kept the family busy during her four-week stay.
She traveled with the family to Michigan, went waterskiing, enjoyed a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and visited other au pair friends in the area.
She even ran the Half Madness half marathon in Batavia with Cindy Ruesch.
“It’s been a whirlwind of things she hadn’t gotten to do during her year with us,” Ruesch said. “She’s just so fun, and she’s got such good energy. She keeps me busy here.”
The boys, of course, made their own favorite memories.
Finn Donehoo liked riding the Cyclone with Brockmeyer at Raging Waves Waterpark in Yorkville.
Brenn Donehoo enjoyed races up and down the sand dunes of Michigan – races he won, he noted – and fishing with his former au pair.
Teige Donehoo enjoyed board games and simply spending time together.
“It’s been nice having her in person instead of seeing her on a screen, and we’ve enjoyed her time,” Teige Donehoo said. “She even helped us find a rare bug – she found a praying mantis – and she does not like bugs at all.”
While the days went by quickly, some nights were reserved for quiet “family” time, such as watching bad reality TV together on the couch, Ruesch said.
“I don’t have one, but I’d imagine if I had my own birth daughter, we’d be doing those same things together,” Ruesch said.
The Donehoos have used au pairs since the twins were born and been extremely happy with all of “their girls,” but the bond they’ve created with Brockmeyer is something special.
“When’s she in the house, our family is happier,” Bill Donehoo said.
The next question is, when will the Donehoos visit Brockmeyer in Germany?
“[All of our au pair] girls keep asking when we’re going to make a trip over there,” Ruesch said, laughing. “We keep saying that one of our girls [is] probably going to get married. That will be our call to go to Europe.”
For more information about Cultural Care Au Pair, visit https://culturalcare.com.