Home

I was going to go without writing this week but I thought I should warn you in advance. As I feel like I am just repeating myself over and over again saying, “This week I looked after the kids and then on Sunday I went to Paris,” and as I bet a lot of people are getting bored of reading my blogs, I’m thinking I should cut them down to every two weeks. I guess if I have something to say, I’ll post every week but if there’s a week that goes by without a post, it just means I’m waiting for the following one.

This week ended up well, even with Anne not being there. The kids and I had a lot of fun making cookies and just enjoying each other’s company. The last night, we made dinner together and when I was tucking Antoine into bed, he asked if I could sleep with him that night. The next day when Anne came back home, Antoine started saying, “Maman” so Anne would say “Oui?” and he would just continue saying “Maman” and the pattern would continue. I was playing with Alice and I was wondering why he wasn’t just asking his question since she was obviously listening and I looked up and he was looking at me waiting for ME to answer. I quietly explained that I wasn’t his mother and he quickly switched to “Janelle” (thank goodness). On Saturday night, I spent an hour and 45 minutes on a trip to Ikea (here, pronounced ee-kay-uh) and that wasn’t including walking. I found out that I could get a hot dog and drink for 1.30 and was amazed because you can’t even get a drink for that much ANYWHERE in Paris. On Sunday, I made my way back to Ikea since the last time, I only got to take a brisk walk around the store before it closed. After spending at least an hour trying to decide how I should redecorate my 10-year-old bedroom that’s been the same since we moved into the house, I found a mall that’s open on Sundays! Because I knew my entire family was in Edmonton doing our annual springtime shopping trip, I decided I should do the same in Paris. After getting many good deals, I took my +2-hour trip home.

As I come closer to my halfway point, I start to wonder if I feel at home here. I mean, it’s been close to five months and sometimes I still have to try to make myself believe that I am, in fact, living in France. But am I really living here? Sure, I’m breathing, eating, sleeping, which is technically living but when I’m telling people my life story, will it be “When I was 18, I moved to France and lived there for 10 months” or “When I was 18, I went to France and stayed there for 10 months”? According to my Widget dictionary, one of the meanings of home is “the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household.” Well, I am definitely part of a household and I like to think that I’m part of the family here but then again, it’s not really “permanent” – I will always know that in the end, I will be going back to Saskatoon. Okay, well let’s look at the next one: “a house or an apartment considered as a commercial property.” I’m assuming it has to be your own house. So for example, when I went to Trois-Rivieres for the summer, my three roommates and I had our own apartment. We did everything we should for it to be our home – prepared the meals, did the laundry, slept, had our own rules (and broke the rules given to us); we had our own independence. But it never really felt like “home,” maybe because it was a short five weeks so probably because of that same non-permanent feeling. Lastly, “a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates”…obviously meaning Saskatoon. So when I’m forty and I have a family and my own house, will I still be saying to my friends and colleagues, “Oh, I’m going back home to spend Christmas with my parents this year”? Or will I really find myself thinking of this as home anytime soon? Maybe to make it feel like home, you have to be able to go days without thinking of your past life, without thinking of memories, of people back where you came from, of foods you want to eat, places you want to go back to, events you want to attend. But for me, that seems impossible. It’s too difficult to forget everything that shaped me into what I am today. Why would one want to forget the important and meaningful things? I definitely still haven’t went a day without having a thought of “home” cross my mind, and I probably won’t until I get back there. Maybe this won’t feel like home until I leave and realize it’s gone. That’s the idea, isn’t it? – that you don’t realize you have it until it’s gone. But I guess the important thing is that for now, I’m enjoying myself here.

Tomorrow I have my scan to find out the big thing that was wrong with me approximately one month ago. I won’t be surprised if it’s too late to find out but it’ll be interesting if they do. I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Love always
Home – Marc Broussard

Shimmer

This week has been just as normal as all the other ones have. Monday and Tuesday were the same as usual and then on Wednesday, I got the afternoon off so I went to Saint Quentin to shop but didn’t find anything. Everything is already gone and the sale has only been for a week! I was walking down the street that afternoon with my black coat on, no mittens, and I was eating a McFlurry; I’d say the weather here is pretty decent.

Thursday was the day that I had officially been with this family for two months. Even though the kids and I sometimes get on each other’s nerves, I still feel like we have a nice bond. Antoine gave me a kiss on Thursday, which he’s never done before and hardly does for anyone else. I now notice when I’m looking for money or something else in my pockets, I always end up finding a stick. He has this obsession with sticks; he talks about them all the time, he always notices them in books, on the computer, he draws them, everything you could possibly think. We now have a “no sticks at the table” rule. I have no idea how he selects which one is suitable to pick up and carry to school. And because sticks aren’t allowed in the school, he always stuffs them in my pocket. I know, you’d think that I could just take them out once he’s safely inside the school but no, as soon as he’s out again, he asks where his sticks are. And I learnt never to take a stick out of my pocket the hard way.

Friday was when I had to go into full-on “Mom Mode” because Anne went on a ski trip for the week. That left me, Emmanuel, and three kids, which I knew would be quite interesting because Emmanuel’s idea of giving the kids a bath is putting them IN the bath and then coming up to my room and asking me if I can do the rest. Anne spent Monday to Thursday telling me once, twice, sometimes three times what I had to remember to do while she was gone. She explained that Emmanuel knows but he most likely won’t do it so I was capable of making decisions when it came to the kids, the house, or anything else if need be. What a weight put on my shoulders! Thursday, Emmanuel gave me my schedule for the week (it’s even colour-coded! Haha he was quite proud, I think) and it doesn’t seem too hectic so hopefully everything will work out fine. Saturday was fun. For lunch, we had hot dogs, which we’ve never had before. Then, I looked after the kids for the afternoon and then we went out for Chinese food, which we’ve never done before either. And because the church time was changed today, I finally got to sleep in! And I must have been so tired too because I slept through absolutely everything until I woke up at 10 this morning. Through Elsa crying, the kids waking up, the storm that was going on through the entire night (which I should have heard considering I’m on the top level with a window on my ceiling), it was very nice. I went into Paris at noon and met up with some friends for lunch. I’m getting pretty good at looking like a local; the only difference is I carry around a Tim Horton’s to-go coffee cup instead of what everyone else carries around. Zosia, Adriana and I went to an Oriental Music Concert, which was put on to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It was so cool, with all the different instruments and everything; I loved it! After the concert was finished, we went for supper where I got a much-needed lasagna and then we all went back home.

I hope that everyone realizes what an important day it is this Wednesday. Yes, it’s the day that LOST starts its fifth season and I can’t watch it until I come home. So, if you DO end up watching LOST (which I suggest you do), just don’t tell me what happens ☺. I wish everyone who has finals good luck and for everyone else, enjoy your last full week of January (man, doesn’t that happen fast??). Love always
Shimmer – Fuel

Meaning

Well, I hope everyone had a wonderful Ukrainian Christmas. For those of you who missed it, I’m having mine when I come back so you can most likely join me. I’ve officially been gone for four months, meaning I’m more than 40% done. On my 20% done day, I was told that the contract had been cancelled. On my 40% done day, I was asked to stay a year longer so faced with that opportunity, I gladly accepted. But not really, I just said that I needed to start university so I couldn’t stay. I’m glad that it’s working out so well with this family though! So many people said to me that it’s more important to start university and it’s not a good idea to waste an entire year travelling. I however don’t think that you need schooling to be able to learn. Going to a different country for a year won’t help you go far in life? I think this year will probably be the most important year of my life, making the most impact and making me learn significantly not only about a whole different culture, but about myself as well. Oh yeah, it’s so easy to just have the opportunity to go into Paris every weekend and not have to worry about exams and only have to colour pictures every day. But that’s not the case at all. I don’t think many people realize how difficult it is to not only move to a different country but to live with a family that you don’t know who speaks a whole different language. You’re living with your boss. It’s not, “Okay, my day’s over. I’m going home to see my family and I’ll see you tomorrow, boss.” It’s “Okay, my day’s over. Let’s all eat dinner together and I’ll help you clean up. See you first thing in the morning, boss.” It’s not “Okay, I’m done working. I’m going home, have a nice day.” It’s “Okay, I’m done working but if you need me for something, I’ll be upstairs.” It’s a whole new level of respect; it’s not only being their employee but also being a part of their family. It’s not just babysitting three kids and then continuing on with your day but finding a way into each child’s heart and getting them to look up to you and respect you. It’s not just a job but it’s basically your life.

On Monday, it snowed the entire day! Anne said that it hasn’t been so cold for years. I asked the kids if they wanted to make a snowman after school and they were so excited, but Alice paused, “…but do you know how?” Turns out these kids have never made a snowman in their lives. Alice went on and on, “And I’m going to tell ALL of my friends that I got to make a snowman,” she was very excited. That day, I went to pick the kids up from school and as we were walking home, Alice just quietly said, “Listen.” I realized that we were not listening to some distant sound or a bird in the tree but simply the crunching of snow beneath our feet. That familiar sound was just what I needed and we walked the rest of the way in complete silence. Once we got to the house, we each put on our three pairs of gloves, three pairs of socks, etc. and we started to build our snowman. The snow was absolutely perfect for snowman making. We finally finished once it started getting dark so we went back inside and I made them some Tim Horton’s hot chocolate. On Tuesday, I went into Saint-Quentin with Adriana and Caitlin for lunch and we also checked out some of the stores in preparation for the big one-month winter sale that started on Wednesday. When I went back home, the kids were ready to make another snowman. Not just one, but a family of them. We went outside to find out that the snow didn’t stick at all so I just showed them how to make snow angels. And that’s when I got another familiar feeling, although not a feeling that I really missed that much. When I stood up after showing them how to make a snow angel, I felt all of the snow go (of course) down my pants. And that’s when I remembered why I never made snow angels back at home. Wednesday was the big sale day and luckily I got the afternoon off. It was so busy and it was only the first day! Everything will probably be completely sold out by February so I’m glad I got to get a little bit of shopping in. I made a few purchases, which will hopefully hold me for a couple weeks.

Thursday and Friday were just normal days and then on Saturday after I was done work, I went into Saint-Quentin where Adriana and I went to the movie Burn After Reading, which was quite entertaining. On Sunday, I went to church to find out that the building had been double-booked so it was cancelled. Everyone just ended up going upstairs to chat over coffee and then me and about 15 other girls went to a nearby restaurant for brunch. It’s fun doing that because I only knew one other person there who was sitting on the complete opposite side of the table so I really got to know a lot of the other girls. After that, I met up with Adriana and we just walked around until we couldn’t feel our fingers anymore. We took that as our sign to head back home and when I came down for supper, both kids wanted to play with me. I guess that’s a good sign ☺. This week, it’ll have been two months that I’ve been with this family but it seems to have gone by so fast! I hope everyone has a great week! Love always

Meaning (piano version) – Gavin DeGraw

Good Times

And 2009 is already here! This year went by so fast and I still have half a year left until I’m done. I’m thinking it’ll go by pretty fast as well. I hope everyone had a great New Year’s Eve and enjoyed the rest of their holidays. On Monday, I went to Disneyland Paris with the family. It was freezing cold!! Since I’m Canadian and all, I knew that I’d have to dress in layers and even though I looked like a huge pink marshmallow, I was still so cold. All I know is I would have hated to be a princess that day. I only ended up going on five rides throughout the day but I still really enjoyed it. We started off by going on the Pirates ride, which was neat: half of it being in French and half of it in English. Then we went on the Buzz Lightyear ride, which I sucked at horribly. Afterwards, we had lunch which I swear was just McDonald’s disguised with pictures of Mickey Mouse on the boxes. We went on the Peter Pan ride and then I finally got to go on a more exciting ride. Anne’s cousin (who is 14) and I went on Space Mountain. We got there and it said “Waiting Time: 100 minutes” so I was like oh great. I think it only ended up being 60 though. I now love being here because I catch little snippets of conversation every time someone walks by so sometimes it’ll be French and sometimes it’ll be English but I can usually understand most of what’s being said. After Space Mountain (which I loved), we went to the Star Wars ride and then went to the parade. It started off with Mickey and Minnie, moved through all of the characters, and then ended off with a drumline of soldiers and Santa because it was still in the holiday season. I think my favourite part of the day was when Antoine said “I like Janelle so much,” and then he gave me a huge hug. It was so cute! And it meant a lot because Antoine doesn’t really like anyone very much. The rest of the night, we just walked around. It was so fun walking through the streets with Christmas music still playing!

Tuesday was just a normal day, looking after the kids and doing housework. And then Wednesday was my busiest day. I looked after the kids for the morning and did more housework in the afternoon. I was finally free by sixish so I walked to the Carrefour so Adriana and I could get food. However, it was closed, as was every other store. We took the train to Paris and got there at around nine. By that time, we were starving but Anne’s words of “Don’t go into a restaurant” went through my head. All the restaurants have a special “New Year’s Eve menu” so Adriana and I stopped at one of them just to see what the prices were like… 150 Euro? Yeah, no thanks. So because all the McDonald’s were closed, we stopped at the next popular place… Quick, which had a special New Year’s Eve menu as well: a burger, fries, a drink, and a brownie for 13 Euro. Crazy, but we still got it. While eating our dinner on the Champs-Elysées, we watched the crowds of people walk by and after, we joined in with them. We walked down the road for a while, and then walked towards the Seine, where we could get a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. There was so much stuff going on, dancing, yelling, early fireworks going off, many creepy people as well. There were times when Adriana and I got separated for a few short seconds because the crowd was so busy and it always seemed like at that time, those guys would quickly make their move. It happened to me a couple times, two guys walked towards me on the left, two guys on the right so there’s a window between them and as I walk towards that window, they close in and crowd around, “Ça va? Ça va?” Yeah, not with you guys closed around me but with a quick shove, I was able to get out. When it was finally time for 2009, the Eiffel Tower lit up and sparkled while everyone who had fireworks lit them off. It was nice being able to spend New Year’s Eve in Paris! We left at about 12:05 and I didn’t walk into my bedroom until 3 in the morning.

I had the entire next day off without knowing it so I ended up waking up at 8:30 and just kind of dragged through my entire day in my room, reading my new book. On Friday morning, I had to wake up Alice at 7 so she could go into Paris with her dad. After she left at 7:30, I went back to bed until Antoine woke up. It was SO nice to be able to just spend the day with Antoine because 1) he likes me 2) he doesn’t boss me around all the time and 3) I don’t have to hear “Janelle!” “Viens Janelle!” “Mais Janelle!” “Janelle, joue avec MOI!” in a whiny voice the entire day (as much as I like Alice, she tends to get annoying a lot of the time). We took down the Christmas tree, played games, and played the computer for the majority of the day. On Saturday, I played with the kids a bit and looked after Elsa. I’ve been reading my Nanny Diaries book a lot and it made me realize how much similar my life was, I mean not to that extreme but just some of the little things. Like how everything I originally agreed on when I first started working has changed quite considerably during the time that I’ve been here. Or yesterday, when Anne said she was taking the kids for a walk during the afternoon so I could get some free time. And then, “Oh, and while we’re out, could you cut up all these vegetables for supper and then mop the floors? They’ve gotten so dirty, thanks.” (Keep in mind that I just mopped the floors three days ago and honestly, there was pretty much nothing there). Or the fact that I’m supposed to have nothing to do with the baby and lately, I’ve been feeding and changing her at least once a day or just looking after her while the parents are out. No big deal, babies don’t talk back and are actually the easiest thing to look after out of all three kids. And I’ve now gotten to the point where I easily know how to make them do what I want. “Okay, wanna take a shower now?” (I know that Antoine absolutely despises showers) “No,” “Okay, how about you have a bath instead?” “Okay!” And while Alice is making faces: “You know if you do that, your face is going to stay like that right?” “What?” I repeat myself and she stops in a heartbeat. But quickly, her frightened face is replaced with her usual I-know-everything-and-I’m-better-than-everyone face as she says, “I know that…” and then runs off.

On Sunday, I went to Starbucks before going to church and at church, I bought a CD but it’s so weird cause it has most of the songs we sing in church but they’re all in English and not French. After church, I met up with Adriana and we ate at L’As du Falafel, and then just walked around for quite awhile until we went back home. I stopped at the Langlets’ to visit and then I came back here in time for supper. Today is the Fête des Rois, which is a huge French tradition. You buy a galette des rois, which is a cake and inside, there’s a hidden figurine called a fève. Whoever gets the fève becomes the king or queen for the day so they wear the paper crown that comes with it and then they get to choose who they want to be their king or queen. After they choose who they want, they kiss that person. We’re not having our galette des rois until tomorrow, even though we’ve already had two in the past week. On Wednesday, I’ve officially been gone for four months! And then I’m one month away from being halfway done, which is absolutely crazy! Tomorrow, I finally get to go back to the normal schedule, which will be a lot better. I hope everyone makes it back to wherever they’re going safely and gets back to routine easily. Enjoy your first full week of 2009!

Good Times – INXS