Imagine Me

What an eventful week! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or holiday) and everyone got what they truly wanted, which is of course spending time with family and friends. My week started off with going to the clinic to figure out what was wrong with my x-ray. Well, three doctors ended up coming in and looking at it and none of them knew what was wrong. They put me on antibiotics and called another hospital so that I could get a scan and they could figure it out. When I told them I probably couldn’t pay for a 100 Euro scan, they ended up giving it to me free of charge. So now, on January 26th, I’m going to a random hospital in Paris to have that scan and figure out what is going on.

On Tuesday, Alice and I got to go to Madagascar 2. It was nice to just have to look after one kid and I think she really enjoyed it. And Wednesday was Christmas Eve! And Alice’s birthday too. I looked after the kids for five hours that morning and then I got to relax until the big Christmas dinner at the grandparents’ house. Before we left, Emmanuel started calling me urgently so I ran downstairs and he was like, “I want to give you a cooking lesson.” Basically his cooking lesson was showing me how to put alcohol in gravy and then lighting it on fire haha, it was really cool!! So, Christmas dinner is quite a bit different here than in Canada; I couldn’t help but notice. We started off with the entrée, which was foie gras (look it up on google, I dare you). I think it was more of the idea of what it was which made me want to cough it up and stop eating. Anyway, I got through it okay. Next was the second half of the entrée, which were oysters. That was interesting… And then was the main dish, which was pasta and some kind of animal. Emmanuel told me it was a bird with wings, so that really slimmed it down. It was really good though. Then was the cheese part of the meal, which was goat cheese. And then my favourite part of the meal: chocolate ice cream cake, yay! It was for Alice’s birthday. We started dinner at 8:30 and I left at 11:15 cause I hadn’t stayed up that late since before I got sick. So Christmas dinner for me was quite interesting and different, but I still liked seeing how the French did things. Right before we went to bed, the kids and I each put one of our shoes under the Christmas tree.

Christmas morning had started and finished within about five minutes, which is different compared to the three hours my family takes to open gifts. After the kids finished opening their presents, I had to look after them for the morning and then I got some free time in the afternoon, which I used to open up all my presents from home. Who knew opening a box of Wheat Thins could be so emotional? No but really, being here has made me appreciate everything so much more. You know, when I went to church last Sunday, the pastor said if you take away everything: the tree, the stockings, the feast, the presents, the Champs-Elysées, you’re left with the true meaning of Christmas. Even though I still had some of those things, I felt like Christmas this year was more meaningful because it made me appreciate what I have. The family left at around four in the afternoon to go to Emmanuel’s mom’s house so I spent the next hour or two watching my family open all of their gifts via Skype. Afterwards, Adriana came over and we made StoveTop Stuffing for supper (yay! That was the closest we could get to a “normal” Christmas dinner) and we watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was nice to be able to spend Christmas with someone and not spend it alone. Afterwards, I got some phone calls, some Skype calls, and then I went to bed.

The next day, the family came home late that afternoon. Their friends didn’t end up coming with them because the grandma is sick so guess who gets to go to Disneyland Paris tomorrow since the tickets have already been bought! On Saturday morning, I looked after the kids and then I got the afternoon off so I went downtown, which takes anywhere from ten to twenty minutes, depending on my choice of music. Drumline has changed my ways of walking…not only do I HAVE to walk in time with the music but I have to walk with the left foot on one and three, and the right foot on two and four. Otherwise, it doesn’t seem normal. Anyway, I walked around the grounds of the Rambouillet castle and found out where the Canadian geese come during the winter ☺. Afterwards, I looked after the kids a bit more until supper.

Today, I woke up nice and early to go to Paris. I made my usual stop to Starbucks before going to church. After church, I met up with Adriana and we had lunch at the Moosehead. I had my first poutine since the last time I had one in Quebec. Afterwards, we went to an English bookstore, where I purchased the Nanny Diaries. Adriana went home, I mailed a few letters and then I went home as well. Tonight, I’m going to bed early because tomorrow is Disneyland Paris day! I hope everyone has a great week and New Year’s, and has fun making up their New Year’s resolution that they will only end up doing for the first two weeks of January. Love always!
Imagine Me – Kirk Franklin

Cool Yule

So I finally got out of my homesick and depressed stage halfway throughout this week, Thursday to be exact. Maybe cause it was my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday Dad!) or maybe cause it was my one-third done point (100 days through, 200 to go). I took the DVD my mom left me and popped it into my laptop. Now this is a very special DVD although I’m pretty sure she left it as a joke, but I still appreciate the humour. Because I don’t have the Shaw channel here in France, as most of you are so lucky to have, I will not have the privilege of being able to watch the Shaw Holiday Fire Log. Lauren and I would always put it on and joke about the man who looked after the fire, “Oh, he’s on again! This time he’s wearing a different shirt though!” Heck, I even created the Facebook group “I’ve never watched a TV show better than the Shaw Holiday Fire Log!” which gained quite a bit of popularity during the past year. So my lovely mother decided to leave me the Holiday Fire DVD. Unfortunately, I think they’ve edited out the man so that it looks like it’s a perfect fire all the way through, although I haven’t exactly watched it all the way through – just listened to the music. It put me back into the Christmas mood though and I’ve really been looking forward to what France has in store for me within the next six and a half months.

My week was pretty normal. Wednesday, the kids were surprisingly better behaved than I think I’ve ever seen them for a long time. Lately they haven’t been listening at all, even to their parents so it was nice to have a day without fighting. On Friday, it was supposed to be my last day of school before the holidays but instead I had to make a trip to Paris so that I could have my medical exam in order to get my green card, yay! So all I had to do was everything they asked and then I’d get my green card, right? Wrong. No, I went there and waited for 25 minutes until they finally called me. Then there was the weight and height test, the eye test, and then the x-ray. After that, I had to wait for a long time to talk to a doctor. The doctor said there was a problem with my x-ray and she could tell that I had been coughing a lot lately. I told her that I was sick for the past two weeks and now, she wants me to see a pulmonary specialist just in case it’s something contagious, such as pneumonia. So, they told me all this stuff like chances are they might not be able to get me an appointment for another 8-10 weeks so in that case, I would have to renew my demande de carte de sejour in Versailles and go to the prefecture yet again. Luckily, they called me later that afternoon and told me that they got me an appointment in Paris on Monday afternoon, as in tomorrow. I guess I’ll finally be able to find out why I was feeling so absolutely horrible during those two weeks, if they can still tell what it was. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was something like pneumonia cause I have honestly never felt that bad my entire life.

On Sunday, I got up nice and early to go to Paris. I stopped at Starbucks and enjoyed my usual chocolat viennois before going to church after missing it for the past two weeks. They had a nice Christmas performance, which was great to start off my day with. After church, I was just walking around, waiting to find a café and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, I saw it. I saw a small, bright sign with the word “Subway” written across it and I turned towards it without a second thought. It was nice to have Subway after more than 100 days without it but I’ve gotta say that the mustard pretty much ruined it for me. Even though I’ve gotten used to the mustard here, it doesn’t belong on a Subway sandwich, that’s for sure. After lunch, I went to the Galeries Lafayette to take a look at the inside of the store this time. The Christmas tree was absolutely amazing (and huge!). I then went to Montmartre (the most romantic part of Paris) and explored the streets, climbing the steep hills up to the Sacré Coeur. The view from it was so nice; I could see pretty much all of Paris. Not only that, but there were so many performers so I got to listen to Jingle Bells played on an accordion and many other Christmas carols played on a violin. I ended my night with a Nutella crêpe and went back home.

This week, the kids don’t have any school so it’ll be interesting to see if their attitudes will change or anything. I’m really looking forward to Christmas, even if I won’t be with any family or friends from home. But the Christmas spirit is really all I need and I have it, so there’s nothing to worry about. I hope everyone enjoys their holidays, wherever they’re spent, and just try to have the most fun possible. I’ll be thinking of each and every one of you. Merry Christmas! Love always xoxo
Cool Yule – Matt Dusk
**Also check out Carol of the Bells by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I love it!

Love and Memories

So this week was pretty much my worst week ever – health-wise… and possibly emotionally-wise as well. I really don’t have much to update on unless you want to hear in great detail about how sick I was. During the week, the kids and I were both sick. They didn’t go to school on Thursday and I think we all just felt absolutely horrible, although I’m pretty sure I had something different than them considering they had fevers. Nope, I didn’t get what they had until the weekend. Basically what I had was something that made me too weak to do anything. Going up the stairs felt like I had just run a marathon, I couldn’t stand up while even brushing my teeth, I’d wake up a million times throughout the night with pains going up and down throughout my body, Anne said I was dead which I’m sure it definitely looked like it. I still had to carry on throughout my week whether I liked it or not though so that’s exactly what I did, just with a lot of rest in between. Every time I wasn’t working, I was either sleeping or watching Full House – I’ve already watched the first 15 episodes of the first season.

On Friday, I had school and that afternoon at school, we made Macarons fourrés au chocolat for Christmas! They were really good and I got the recipe too so I will probably be making them for Christmas next year. That night, the kids (thank goodness) went to their grandparents for the night so I slept for 12 hours straight, woke up to get ready, got dressed, fell back asleep on my bed and Alice woke me up two hours later for lunch. That day was Alice’s birthday party. Let’s just say I never want to do that again unless I have at least a bit of energy. Ten kids running around screaming isn’t that much fun. That night was another early night for me and I slept for around 11 hours before making myself get up and leave the house. I went to Paris and it was my worst day in Paris ever haha. It was basically a “Let’s feel sorry for myself because I’m here all alone” kinda day. I just wanted to go back home and I didn’t want to be here anymore. Then again, I don’t think I was quite all there since I hadn’t been able to think straight all week. I started in Starbucks, where I stayed for at least an hour literally tearing up or crying every time a Christmas song came on (which was pretty much every other song, if not every song) and that Christmas thing continued throughout the entire day… it’s very hard to avoid Christmas songs in Paris. Then I went to a movie called Two Lovers, which I don’t recommend to anyone. It was just really, really bad. And then I realized it was midafternoon and I still hadn’t eaten all day, which as you all know with my history isn’t a good thing so even though I didn’t want to eat, I sat myself down and bought lunch before going to the post office and mailing the second-last of my letters and then going back home early.

And today, I woke up and I definitely feel alive? I still have the normal sick symptoms but at least I’m not a walking zombie anymore. I went to school and played piano for the morning and soon, I’ll be picking up the kids from school. I was nervous for next week cause the holidays start and the kids won’t be at school so I was scared that I would be with the kids a lot more. And that’s exactly the case, but not quite. Oh no, there’s more. I think it’ll be pretty much normal until Christmas, they leave ON Christmas for one night (StoveTop Stuffing, here I come) and then they come back the next day with their friends, who are staying for four days. Oh right, I forgot to mention that their friends have four kids. Now I know a lot of you loved the Sound of Music back when you were younger and wished you could live the lives of the von Trapp family but I think my mind will be changing quite soon. Let’s just hope it turns out alright.

I will definitely miss my Christmas with the family, especially last year’s Christmas. Us all squished together in the basement watching Disney movies on the big screen on Christmas Eve. Then the twenty of us all crowded around the guitar hero Christmas day, waiting for our own turn – and everyone leaving after Auntie Merla and Craig start Black Magic Woman for the seventh time, determined that THIS TIME, they’ll get it. And the food and the laughter and tears, and the family gift exchange with most people satisfied with their gifts but always one person with a fake smile on their face, holding their brand-new flashlight. But there’s one new addition to replace me this Christmas so that’ll make it very special for everyone. This week, the Fireside Singers have their big concert December 21st so I’m hoping many of you will get a chance to go watch. It’s a tradition for me but I’ll sadly be breaking it this year. Well, this is the last full week before Christmas and I hope everyone gets the last of their shopping done and doesn’t let the Christmas stress take over them. Cause remember, Christmas has one meaning and one meaning only which most people tend to forget, so take the time to remember and just be thankful. Happy holidays! Love always
Love and Memories – O.A.R. (Turn this one up loud ☺)

The Wanderer

And the first week of December has already been and gone! It’s going great here but I’ve never felt like I’ve NEEDED to do laundry as much as I have that feeling now. You know, I could do it but then I think logically, “When’s the next time a baby’s going to throw-up on my jeans or someone’s going to wipe his or her hand on my sweater at the dinner table?” and I convince myself that it doesn’t have to be done because there’s no point.

Tuesday, I cleaned the house and looked after the kids. It was also the last night I had with my mom since she was going to stay at a hotel for the following week. On Wednesday, I looked after the kids in the morning and we had lunch. At lunch, Anne asked me if I could make cookies with the kids and I said sure, thinking she meant another day. But then, she explained “Our neighbours are coming this afternoon so I wanted something ready.” An hour to make decorated sugar cookies? Yeah, I’ve done that before…alone! And making cookies with an 8-year-old and 12-year-old is VERY different than making them with a 4-year-old and 6-year-old. There’s a lot of crying involved, cookie dough ALL over the floor, flour covering my black sweater…I can easily say I never want to go through that experience again. I got everything done though and then my mom and I went shopping in Saint Quentin, where I got some new boots, yay! We had dinner at the Taj Mahal and then I went back home.

On Thursday, I looked after the kids as usual and then my mom and I went to the Langlets’ (the former family) for dinner. I think everyone was glad to meet each other and they even made my favourite meal. Friday, I went to school and as I was walking, I was thinking how weird it was that it gets sooo cold but you never see any ice. Not that I really miss the ice. I remember walking to school, hesitating with every step I took because I was scared that I would fall straight to the ground. And then I would finally get to school and some random person would come up to me and say, “Nice wipeout this morning.” Yeah, I think I like it better without the ice. I had lunch with my mom and we bought myself a jacket. That evening, the kids had a festival type thing at their school so Anne, Antoine, Alice, and I all went. It was absolute mayhem – I thought two kids running around everywhere was bad but this was about thirty. I then had to take the kids home while Anne stayed at the school to help out. Oh but wait, there was a Christmas tree that I had to carry home. And the Christmas trees here are like razor blades, I’m not even kidding. Good thing it was a small tree though. We got back and then I got to go out for supper with my mom. We ate at her hotel and the waiter was really nice, except for the way he tricked me into eating something that I wouldn’t normally eat. I was asking what something was and he went to the kitchen and came back, showing me these sausages so I was like, okay, that seems fine. I guess I kind of noticed something different about these sausages, maybe the texture or I don’t even know what. After I was finished, he asked if I knew what I just ate and then I was scared. He started to explain to me (while my mom had no idea what he was saying) that they took a pig, took out the intestines, cleaned them out, chopped them up, and cooked them. Well, that’s appetizing… it didn’t really bother me because I’ve probably eaten at least five new animals while being here; I really only found it quite humorous. But now, I’m not sure if I want to eat a lot of sausage in the near future.

On Saturday, we decorated the Christmas tree and then my mom and I went to Paris. I stupidly wore my new boots and by the time we got to the hotel, my feet were in absolute pain. My mom and I had supper at an Italian restaurant and luckily, my mom had brought her moccasins. So, while we went to the Arc de Triomphe and strolled down the Champs-Élysées, I can proudly say that I’m probably the only person who has worn moccasins. We went back to the hotel and the next day, we had brunch at the Moosehead again. Then we visited a lot of the Christmas markets, stopped at Starbucks, and walked around for a bit before going back home. Yesterday, I woke up really sick which is why I never got around to updating my blog. I went to school, played the piano for a while (my mom brought me a Christmas book ☺), and then I went to the Langlets’ to visit my mom. I was shivering the entire day and my whole body was in pain so I tried to go to bed early and get some rest. Today, I feel a bit better but hopefully I’ll get over it soon. Yesterday was also my three-month point so as of today, I’m in France without a Visa. My mom leaves tomorrow so it’ll be weird not having someone here again. I think it’ll take a week or so to get used to. I hope everyone has a great week! Love always

The Wanderer – Marc Broussard

Never Be Lonely

Yay for December! It’s impossible not to notice that Christmas is on its way, and I’m so happy for it! Even though I will most likely be spending Christmas (…illegally…ahem) in France, I mean, that’s just me living on the edge, isn’t it? I’m getting well-adjusted into this family’s routines and everything; it’s not too difficult. That is it’s not too difficult when the kids aren’t home ☺. But I’m surviving and I’m enjoying it.

Monday, I went to class and then on Tuesday, I went out for lunch with some of the au pairs because Helena was going back home the next day ☹. On Wednesday, my mom arrived in France although I just continued my day like any other day would be because she wasn’t coming to see me until Thursday. I was put in charge of putting Alice’s invitations together for her birthday party, and I’m also going to have to help plan what they’ll be doing. I’m so excited because I love planning things (as you all know)!

On Thursday, my mom came! It was nice to finally see someone after two and a half long months. She and I unpacked her suitcases (mmm Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Wheat Thins and Stovetop Stuffing) and caught up on what we missed. The next day, my mom went to school with me. While I was in school, she went to the mall and afterwards, we went out for lunch to the usual café (and I got her hooked on my favourite drink – chocolat viennois). My mom made me skip school for the afternoon (geez, what a bad influence…) and we went shopping for clothes. That night, I got the evening off since the kids went to their grandparents so my mom and I went out for dinner to an East-Indian Restaurant (Taj Mahal – so good!) and then we went to a movie called The Visitor, which was also really good.

On Saturday, I had to look after the kids in the morning and afternoon and then at 5:30, I was free for the rest of the weekend! My mom and I took a train to Paris and stopped at our hotel (called My Hotel in France – how original, eh?) and then we went out for dinner to a French restaurant called La Véraison. I had risotto for an entrée while my mom had full shrimp (by full, I mean heads included), and for the main dish, my mom had white fish while I had the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. And for dessert, crème brulée and a chocolate tart. Amazing, like I can’t even explain it. After dinner, I took my mom to the Opéra house and then we walked to the Galeries Lafayette because the lights there are absolutely incredible! It’s completely lit up and then there are window displays in every window; it’s so cool. But it was also really cold that night so we soon went back to the hotel.

Sunday morning, my mom and I woke up to go to church. After church, we took the metro to somewhere that I’ve been planning to go for a long, long time… ready for it? The Moosehead – a Canadian Bar and Grill. You have NO idea how excited I was to have scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, and hashbrowns after not having them for three months! And maybe that’s why it tasted so good, but I really think it was just a great restaurant. After feeling completely full, we walked to Paris’ island to look at the Marché aux Fleurs and then we went to the Notre-Dame, which had a huge Christmas tree in front of it. We also went inside and it was amazing to see how enormous it was. After going there, we walked to Starbucks to get Crème Brulée Lattes which were good, but didn’t beat the actual Crème Brulées the night before. THEN, we took the RER to the Eiffel Tower, yay! And we actually went up to the top. It was so cool! And it showed where each country was if you looked through a certain window so at one point, I WAS actually looking in your general direction. There’s a light show on the Eiffel Tower every hour on the hour so that was also really neat to see. After feeling super cold, we went back to Rambouillet to have a quick supper (paninis) and then we went to bed.

Today, I woke up after having the “I’ll be home for Christmas” song stuck in my head the entire night (maybe it’s a sign?). I had to get the kids ready for school and then my mom and I had to go to Versailles for my meeting with the Préfecture. I brought all of the paperwork that they asked for (and there is so much) and then once they saw that I had it all, we waited for about a half hour more until they gave me my “Récépissé de Demande de Carte de Séjour,” which is basically proof that I’m waiting for my Carte de Séjour (which is the green card for me to stay here). So, my three-month visa obviously finishes at my three-month point, which is exactly in a week. And I’m pretty positive I won’t be getting my Carte de Séjour anytime soon, meaning I will most likely be in France without a Visa or anything. Kind of sketchy, no? Anyway, my mom and I went to the Versailles Castle, which was closed, but we still got to look at the gardens. Man, how I would love to have that much land with my own personal canal and everything… We came back in the afternoon (waiting at Platform V and four-eighths – not quite platform 9 and three-quarters but close enough) and I looked after the kids for a while and now I’m here!

There are a few new things that have been added to my schedule. First off, looking after Elsa. I was never supposed to look after her, especially alone, but it’s become a new occasional thing, not that I mind just as long as she isn’t crying. Also, I’m a personal drawer for Alice. I accidentally left a drawing that I was doing when I was bored in the living room of Nala in the Lion King, Alice found it and now she definitely keeps me busy, asking me to draw others. Then there’s the laundry. I mean, I don’t usually do it but when Anne once asked me if I could fold the clothes because she was busy, I was glad to help out. Now, she wants me to always fold the clothes because, “You fold so much better than I do” so that’s something that’s been added to my agenda haha. Now, what’s in your schedule for this week? Since you all missed the Rhubarb Festival at the Marr residence, you can go December 5th for their Old Time Christmas, yay! And that’s all I’ve got, sorry. I hope you all enjoy your December as much as you possibly can because the Christmas season is the best part of the year and it shouldn’t be wasted. I miss you all so much!! Bizous!
Never Be Lonely – The Feeling