Crystal Ball

Well I hope everyone has had a wonderful week! We only have one more week left of November and it seems like it’s only just started. Everything has gone really well for me, moving in with the new family and such. In this town, it’s against the law for there to be any fast food restaurants, but they have a big sign showing where you can find the nearest McDonald’s for those people who can’t survive without it. I love the house here! It’s so much bigger than the last one I was at. So is my room! It’s the biggest room in the house and it’s probably close to three times bigger than my last room. They have a TV in my room (so I can improve my French), and I have wireless internet so now I can communicate easier. I love the decorating too. The grandparents live in the house behind us so if I ever need anything, they’re usually home. The kitchen is another thing I enjoy. They have a blender, they have a mixer, and they have icing sugar, so I’m thinking this will be a place where cookies can be made easily! I really do think it worked out for the best.

On Sunday, I went to Paris to go to church and then I went back to the house to play poker with the family and their neighbours. Afterwards, Catherine drove me to the new house and I got to meet the kids for the first time. Alice is five (turning six Christmas Eve) and she talks non-stop in rapid French; she has already chained herself to me. Antoine is four and he’s a lot quieter, and hardly speaks at all. When I first came, he refused to say hi or anything because apparently he doesn’t usually like people who come over. But within a day, I already won his admiration and the parents said he liked me, which is good..I passed the test! Or so I thought. He can love me right before he goes to bed but as soon as he wakes up or finishes school, I have to try to win him over all over again. The baby is now two and a half weeks old and she is still just as cute as when I first saw her. The parents are really great; they explain everything to me in French because they know that I want to improve my French so now I’ve gotten to the point where I’m usually thinking in two languages the entire day. And I don’t mean thinking in French just because I have to have a conversation; I mean when I’m just doing random things, I’ll catch myself thinking in French. Like the other day I was just playing a Sudoku game and I realized halfway through that I wasn’t even thinking in English. It’s so weird… The first night that I was there, the parents offered me wine and I said, “No, thanks,” “Oh, but you have to,” “Are you sure? It’s French wine!” “It’s a specialty!” And I still continued to refuse. But Emmanuel (the dad) said, “Oh, you’re just like our last au pair. At first, she wouldn’t have any wine at all and by the time she left, she was drinking a litre a day!” I guess you should all know just so you’re prepared. That night, I woke up at quarter to six by hearing a crying baby but it’s just something I’m going to have to get used to.

On Monday, I had class and afterwards, I spent two and half hours cleaning the house before picking up the kids from school and drawing pictures. On Tuesday, I got to feed Elsa; she is so adorable, I just wanted to keep holding her forever. I did laundry, changed the sheets on the beds and worked on my letter of motivation for living with the family (done in French and handwritten… I think I made up a few letters because my handwriting days finished the same time they started, in grade four, so I didn’t really remember some of the awkward letters). Wednesday was the longest day and probably will be the longest day every single week since the kids don’t have school. I played with Alice while Antoine and the mom were gone. So, I was making French fries (with an oil thing and everything) for lunch while entertaining Alice (aka playing Candyland), and looking after a crying baby all at the same time. Good thing I could multitask before coming here. I then fed Elsa, who threw up all over me but no biggie, and then I played with the kids after lunch and I literally had kids hanging off of me for half of the afternoon. By five, I was completely worn out and ready to go to bed. The kids are really trying to test their limits with me right now to see how far they can go and so far, I haven’t broke but I’ve been close. Hopefully it won’t happen for long. Anne (the mom) said she’s never seen Alice so excited before, so maybe it’ll wear-off soon.

On Thursday, it was a lot easier to get the kids up and ready for school. The best way to make a kid do something is to trick them into doing it so that’s exactly what I did… and we were ready for school with 20 minutes to spare! I was quite proud. That night, I had my first glass of wine… grossest thing I’ve ever had in my life. They insisted cause apparently it’s a holiday known around the world on the third Thursday of every November or something? Beaujolais Nouveau? But the type of wine is really disgusting so maybe that’s why I didn’t like it. On Friday, I started looking for the best Christmas songs to start listening to before going to school. We didn’t go to workshops cause it was grammar and instead, we went to the mall. I stocked up on my favourite Lindt chocolate balls (they didn’t have the dark ones!!! I had to settle with milk chocolate..). When I picked up the kids from school, Alice and I had to wrap a present for her friends’ birthday that was the next day and she sort of left me while we were doing it. So I ended up wrapping a present all by myself (I know you’re all surprised because I’ve pretty much never wrapped a present in my life since my idea of wrapping a present is putting it in a plastic bag from a random store and giving it to the recipient). While I was doing that, I looked behind me and the kids were looking through my purse that I left (closed) by the stairs to take up later. They found the chocolate and I was just freaking out but luckily, they found the gum too and they settled for the gum. So while I was hiding my purse, I come back and Antoine had started to open my wrapped presents! Oh my goodness, I am definitely not used to looking after younger children. I asked him to help me rewrap them and it turned out well. On Saturday, I looked after the kids in the morning and then we went to the market before lunch. I played with the kids until they went to a birthday party and then picked them up and played with them some more. I showed them how to cut up paper to make snowflakes and how to make one of those fortuneteller things that everyone has made in elementary school. That night, I had sardines for the first time and they weren’t even that bad. It’s crazy how many new animals I’ve tried in the past two months!

Sunday was my free day, yay! I took the fast train to Paris so I had quite a bit of time to spare. I stopped somewhere that ended up being closed but I’ll definitely be going next weekend so I won’t talk about it just yet. I ended up settling on Starbucks (for the first time in Paris). Now here, the prices at Starbucks are the same, if not cheaper, than every other café in Paris so for once, I didn’t have to feel guilty buying a drink there. Plus, all the Christmas music that was playing there made everything seem a lot more jolly. I then went to church and afterwards, it was snowing! Just for about ten minutes though.. I met two girls after church (one from the US and one from Australia) so we went out for lunch to a place called L’As du Falafel, which was on my “Go here!” list so it turned out well. Unfortunately, it was raining and the restaurant was just an outdoor stand so it was quite cold eating outside. We then went to an outdoor market while it was STILL raining, and by the end of it, I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. Never ever ever wear Converse sneakers on a rainy day, especially a cold rainy day. They get soaked and then freeze your feet. At midafternoon, I took a train back to Le Perray to visit the former family because this week, I received two emails from the kids asking me to come visit. I stayed for about an hour and then I went back to the house to have supper. Today, I had workshop at school and then I’ll have to pick up the kids for lunch. After lunch, I think I’ll go buy some food for the food hamper at church.

It’s crazy to think that yesterday, it was two and a half months since I left. Two and a half months without seeing anyone in person from back at home. It just seems so weird; most of the other au pairs have seen their parents or friends but me, nada. Well at least in two days, my mom will be here for the next two weeks. Yesterday was also my 1/4 done point, meaning I only have three more of this amount of time. This week, the play at the Barn Playhouse starts, which reminds me of when my family and I used to go when I was little. We’d have a buffet dinner first and then watch the Christmas play, and sometimes we would even get a ride on a horse-drawn carriage back to the parking lot. Not only that but this week, the Christmas exhibits at the WDM start as well! All my Christmas memories are helping me stay in the Christmas spirit, even though it’ll be a lot more different here. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of November! Love always

Crystal Ball – Keane

Hope

For those of you who find it fun to sneak into my bedroom and take pictures with my things, maybe try to do it more discreetly ☺ As weird as I find it having people in my room while I’m not there, I still find the pictures quite entertaining. I’m writing today instead of tomorrow because I’m not exactly sure when I’ll get internet hooked up so I thought it would be the best to do it now.


Monday after class, I walked to the house where my interview was. Both of the parents were there, as well as the 4-day-old baby (which is absolutely adorable!). We just talked about what I would have to do and they seemed like a really great family (6-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy; I still haven’t met the kids though). When I told them that music was a huge part of my life, the dad said, “Oh well in that case, we’ll probably buy a piano as long as you teach the kids.” Oh my goodness, I was so excited! Later that night when they phoned, I told them that I would like to be their au pair. With all the contracts and everything, it makes it a bit more difficult but it’s going to work out so that I move in later this evening (how fast everything is happening, hey?). I really, really hope that everything turns out well and that I get along with everyone. Now that I have my little “Hillsong family,” I feel a lot more confident and I know that if something goes wrong, they’ll be willing to help me out. I played Monopoly that night (I also really hope the new family doesn’t even KNOW what Monopoly is) and then we had supper. Tuesday was a holiday so I played football (aka soccer) with Julien (and no, this was not PlayStation football, it was actual football haha) and afterwards Julien, Alexia and I melted chocolate and put them into moulds.

On Wednesday, Julien and I made our own city using pretty much everything possible: building blocks, cards, dominoes, etc which was a lot of fun. We then had lunch (it was bunny day again.. oh and did I forget to mention I had veal for the first time last week?), and then I got to spend some time with Alexia. We played a board game as well as cards. On Thursday, Julien and I attempted to make a card castle a numerous amount of times until supper. After supper, I talked with Alexia for an hour and a half and for the first time ever, Julien came in (when he was supposed to be sleeping) but we all had a silent agreement that he could stay for awhile. The kids came into my room before and gave me a Christmas bag of chocolates and candies, yay! The whole day, I couldn’t stop thinking that I’d be gone three days later, which was so hard because this has been my home for the past two months and now I not only have to go through my homesickness from Canada but possibly even homesickness from here. Then I started to think of all the things I was missing in Canada already (yes, mostly food): Coffee Crisps, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Icy Squares, ice caps, banana slurpees, Dairy Queen onion rings, sundaes, peanut buster parfaits, licorice milkshakes, Stove-Top Stuffing, Ukrainian Food, the stresses of high school that now seem so foolish, listening to an English radio station, watching English television (although I’ve definitely improved at La Roue de la Fortune), my piano, seeing the first blanket of snow on the ground, Christmas carols, and then my thoughts slowly wandered. I thought about how on Christmas day, I always take the time to think of the people who have to spend Christmas alone or without all the things we take for granted: a tree, stockings, presents, snow, carols, family, a feast… and every time, I would never have thought that I would become one of those people. But here I am, on my 19th Christmas, spending it without presents, snow, carols, family, and possibly without a tree, stockings, or a feast. Who knows, maybe the new family will have something huge in store, but even so, I think Christmas in Paris will be unforgettable, even without everything that I’m used to because I’ll still have my Christmas spirit, which is the most important part.

On Friday, I went to school and there were two new additions to our class: one girl from (I believe) Moldova and another from Canada. I didn’t even get a chance to talk to either of them though so next week, I’ll have to find out where the Canadian is from. I picked up Julien from school and he asked if I wanted to make another card castle. So we tried making one again (or I tried while he jumped around excitedly every time I finished a new layer). This one was a lot better than the one on Thursday though; we got pretty far. Yesterday morning, I went to the store with Catherine and Alexia to buy (yet again) more Christmas presents. Afterwards, we went back home and played cards. It was crazy to think yesterday was my last full day here! Today, I’m planning to go to Paris to go to church and then come back and spend time with the family before I move in with my new family. I really hope everything works out!! And lucky for you guys, the Enchanted Forest and the Festival of Trees start this week!! How exciting with all of the Christmas spirit spreading throughout the world, I love it! I hope everyone is having a great weekend and I’ll try to get internet hooked up as soon as I can. Hugs and kisses!
Hope – Twista feat. Faith Evans

Maestro

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I’m sure most of you are wondering what’s going on because you’ve heard a little bit about it, and I bet a lot of you don’t even know it’s happened. Well, you’ll definitely find out by the end of this post. The kids still had school off on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so during that time, I was either reading or spending time with them. I finished the last Harry Potter book, which I’ve never read before. Luckily in these libraries, the English books seem to be forgotten, although there’s quite a small selection. I read another book the day after which was alright but kind of weird. On Tuesday, Julien taught me how to juggle using a baton while holding two sticks; I dunno what it’s called in English.. It was so hard though! When he does it, it looks so easy but when I tried, it was way too difficult. And just having those two sticks in my hands just made me want to play a drum; I had forgotten how much I’ve missed it! Alexia and I made a candle on Wednesday as well as some other Christmas presents. It turned out nice and pink, and we’ll probably be making more next week.

On Thursday, I went to Saint Quentin to do some more shopping for Christmas presents and then I came back home to do homework before the kids came back from school. I watched and helped Alexia practice guitar, which was fun cause I got to learn a little bit, and then we had supper. After supper, Alexia had her guitar lesson and then I talked with her for an hour before she went to bed. Friday was school again, which was nice because we hadn’t had class for two weeks. After school, I went back home and just watched TV with the kids before supper.

And Saturday was the day when everything changed. Saturday was supposed to be the day I was officially 20% done this chapter, probably the longest chapter in my book of life. I thought four more of this amount of time would be so incredibly long. But in a matter of seconds, I had already reached the 100% finished point. I thought something was up when I was eating breakfast with Alexia and she wasn’t talking; she was only saying one-worded answers to everything I asked. After breakfast, Catherine asked to speak to me so I sat down with her and Laurent. And that’s when they told me that they decided they were going to stop the contract. The feeling that washed over me wasn’t sadness, wasn’t disappointment, wasn’t anger, but was relief. I knew that with their expectations being so incredibly high, I couldn’t cope with staying here for another eight months. They basically said that they appreciated me and I was a great au pair but they’re looking for something more than that and obviously, I couldn’t reach their standards. I’m not a perfect person and I can deal with that but I’m not going to change who I am in order to fit in with the “perfect family” (or so they think). The first thing that came to my mind was “Everything happens for a reason” and I knew that I could deal with it. And no, this does not mean I am coming back home. I have three short weeks to find another family and if I don’t, then I have no choice but to come back. But I feel that I am not quite done and that I still have a part to play here, in France. After my talk with Catherine and Laurent, I went straight to Alexia’s room and as soon as she saw me, she burst into tears, gave me a huge hug, and cried in my arms for at least ten minutes. I felt so bad that there was nothing I could do and I think she felt the exact same. The relationships that I’ve built with these kids are so incredibly strong and you’d think that would be enough of an importance to a parent, but they’re still looking for more. If they ever find it, I don’t know but it will definitely be difficult.

Sunday was the highlight of my week. I woke up early to go to church and I met quite a few people there. After church, we all went to the café next door, which we filled up with about twenty people. I was so surprised looking at the menu because it was the cheapest restaurant I’ve ever been to in Paris. I was sitting there thinking, “This doesn’t seem normal… should I just buy two things in order to pay the same amount of money as usual?” But I decided one sandwich would be good enough. I remember in Trois-Rivières, I found it so amazing how there were so many people from across Canada who decided that one location. They could have chosen anywhere else in Canada but for some reason, we were all brought to that one place. But here, it was so much bigger than that! There were so many people from around the world and so many times, the same thought went through my head, “All of these people somehow ended up here with me.” For a reason too, I don’t know what reason yet. I don’t know why I met the two girls from Kenya, the girl from Germany, the one from the US, the one from Sweden, the guy from Ethiopia, the guy from Australia (who happened to just be visiting Paris for three weeks and was leaving the next day), and all the other people as well. But I DO know that they were brought into my life for a reason and it just seems so magical: how we all ended up in the same café after church in Paris from every part of the world imaginable. It’s great how He works, isn’t it? Anyway, I got to talk to a bunch of them about my situation and there were so many of them willing to help, only after knowing me for a couple hours. They reassured me that I would find a family within the next three weeks, even if it’s the last day possible. And for the first time since I’ve come to France, I felt accepted, I felt appreciated, and I felt like someone really cared about me. One woman came to talk to me and she said something that has replayed over and over in my head and will probably stay with me forever. And this is what she said, “You are not going through this alone; you have a family here, okay?” At that moment, I almost burst into tears and I don’t think she realized how much that meant to me. We were there for three hours and so many people gave me their contact numbers before leaving, asking me to write them the next day and tell them how everything’s going. Lots of them are even trying to help me out: getting me contacted with agencies, asking their schools if there’s anyone looking for an au pair.. I was shocked because I’m not used to being faced with so many nice people willing to do something for someone they just met. After lunch, I walked around with four of the people I had just met and we toured around Paris for a couple hours before I had to go back home. I’m so glad I met each and every person that I talked to today and they have definitely all made an impact in my life in one way or another. Sunday night, Julien and Alexia knocked on my door to say goodnight to me – something that has never happened before. I don’t know why, maybe they’re hoping that they can change things, but I know that they still care and that meant a lot.

Today, I have class and then afterwards, I have an interview with another family. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to find the family I’m looking for. I hope everyone has a great week! I miss everyone so much! Love always

Maestro – Hans Zimmer **If I had to choose one song as the soundtrack of my life, this would be it

Morning Train/Night Train(s)

For those of you who missed it, there was another post on Friday so make sure you check it out! I hope everyone had a great Halloween and had lots of fun. This weekend was pretty much the best weekend so far, minus some small mishaps. On Friday, I helped Julien with homework and then we watched a movie. After lunch, Alexia, Julien and I made sugar cookies and decorated them into pumpkins. They turned out amazingly well and it was fun being able to make them with the kids. At three, Baptiste’s mom came and picked us up so we went to their house where the kids dressed up and then we played Monopoly. After Monopoly, Celine (the mom) had crêpes made for us so we got to eat those, as well as the cookies we made. We quickly went home to get ready for trick or treating and then the kids went trick or treating for about 45 minutes. Halloween is a sad, sad thing in France. We only saw three other kids and out of the first ten houses we went to, I think only four had candy. At the end, the candy was shared so I got all the leftover candy that couldn’t be distributed equally. And they got one chocolate bar each; that was it for chocolate. I actually felt sorry for them, but they were still happy.

On Saturday, I spent some time with Julien until lunch. After lunch, the family and I went to the Salon du Chocolat! It took forever to find a parking spot, and then the line-up was huge so we had to wait for a while. But once we got in there, it was chocolate wonderland! There were stands with every well-known chocolate imaginable. I first saw M&M’s, and then Lindt (my second favourite!), so I knew it would be good. There were some people carving chocolate so they’d give out the shavings and then there was a sample on almost every table. I kept eating the chocolate until I felt sick. And you know that feeling where you put something in your mouth thinking it won’t be that great but once you put it in your mouth, it gives you a sensational melting feeling? That’s what happened every time I tried a chocolate. It was the best of the best. There was even a stand for my favourite Palmer’s cocoa butter; I was so surprised! There were so many people though so it was hard to get anywhere and we went home pretty soon after coming (sadly for me; I would have stayed forever).

On Sunday, I left the house really early (7:20) to catch the train to go to the Musée D’Orsay. I thought it was supposed to open at 9 because that’s what it said on the internet but it didn’t end up opening until 9:30. Luckily I did come early though because by 9:30, there was a huge lineup. When I finally got in, I spent the next 45 minutes looking at all the paintings and I loved it! The Louvre was boring compared to this. Every time I walked into a different room, at least one thing caught my eye whereas in the Louvre, it seemed like everything I looked at was exactly the same. All of the things that I looked at were Impressionism paintings, drawings, sculptures, etc. so there was a wide variety of stuff. Unfortunately after 45 minutes, I had to leave so I could go to church but I definitely want to go back again. I went to Hillsong yet again which was fun and then Helena called me to meet up. We met at the Catacombes but the lineup was way too long so we just went to the Jardin du Luxembourg instead, which was gorgeous; much better than the Jardin des Tuileries. Helena and I started to get hungry so we found a little restaurant called Crêpes à Gogo. We thought it would be suiting to have a crêpe for the main course and a crêpe for the dessert cause you can’t go to Crêpes à Gogo and not take advantage of all the crêpes they offer. It was really delicious and worth all the money that we spent. After we were finished eating, we took the train back home. The train that we were on went directly to Rambouillet so I got off in Versailles and while I was waiting for the next train, I didn’t feel too well. Let’s just say I got sick twice on the way home and it was the worst feeling ever. Once I got back home, I went straight to bed and fell asleep at nine, only to wake up again at seven for school.

I feel fine today; I’m thinking it might have been the Crêpes à Gogo, unfortunately. People were surprised when all I was wearing was a T-shirt but all I had to say was “Oh, I’m from Canada” (in French, of course), and they understood. And today, they were decorating the streets for Christmas in Rambouillet, so I’m getting really excited! The kids still have school off until Friday this week so I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be doing but hopefully it’ll be as good as last week. Three more days until it’s been 2 months that I’ve been here (meaning 8 months left!). I hope everyone has a great week! Love always

Morning Train – Sheena Easton Night Train – Oscar Peterson