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Friday, December 24, 2010

How I've Been

The kids have been on vacation since last Friday, and I have been working full time plus, and about ready to commit enfanticide. L spent most of the time in daycare, thank God, but the other three were around, and feeling really combatitive. On Tuesday we did a bunch of Christmas stuff, including among other things, cookie baking, christmas present making, and wrapping. It was fun, at first, then I realized the kids can't go more than twenty minutes without hitting eachother or starting fights.

T does this really annoying thing where he attacks A, and then cries hysterically when A hits back, harder. Trust me, after hearing him starting to scream/cry the fifth time, you stop caring. Naturally the frequency went up as they spent more days inside. By Thursday I would average that there was a fight every fifteen minutes.

It is exhausting. On Tuesday, after World War Three broke out, one of their little cousins called and I had him on the phone, then Lyrica called because she was stuck walking back from Villenes. With the two on different phones, I lost it. I just started yelling (you don't really have a choice with these kids, they don't EVER listen to me) like my Dad yelling. Everyone went to their rooms for a half hour and I sat downstairs finishing one of the presents I was making, drinking tea, and enjoying the silence. T tried to sneak back downstairs, but I made him stay up there.

By Thursday I was going out of my mind. My patience was like a string pulled tight, every time I heard one of the kids crying, or yelling, I just went downstairs. It is so frustruating. How do parents do this? Will my patience change when it's my children? Is there some magical element if they come from my genes? I don't know. I make a habit of apologizing to my mom everytime we speak on the phone, for being a shitty little kid. But she always tells me how good we were, and how we always wanted to help and listened. I don't know how that happens. I know I had a deep respect (read, fear) for my father, but I don't understand. Is there something inside of me that's different than these kids? Because as far as I can tell, T doesn't understand punishment, unless it's happening at that current moment. For example, he doesn't really respond if I say, 'If you do this naughty thing, you won't watch a movie.' He does respond to, 'If you do this nice thing for me, you can watch a movie.' And he reeeally has a hard time with retroactive punishment, ie- 'I'm not reading you a story because you were naughty today,' although I think that is starting to become clearer. He will tell me now, 'You don't let me read story, Robine, because I was bad boy.' So I don't know if he was too young before, or if he was never punished like this.

Actually, I know this might be bad, but because he responds better to positive reinforcement I've started to do this-During bathtime, after L leaves, T always asks to put in more water. I say no sometimes, if he put in way too much the day before. If he doesn't throw a temper tantrum, I come back in and say, okay, because you didn't scream and cry, you can have more water. I actually think that this strategy is starting to have an effect.

My point here, I suppose, is that childcare is the most challenging thing I have ever done; and short of going into battle, I can't really imagine anything more difficult. But Real World, that is not a challenge.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Visa Blues

I really miss the days when my poor planning and procrastination only affected me.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Adorable Anecdotes

So I know I spend a great deal of time complaining about T, but he occasionally does endearing things.

I kind of had a minor freak out on the kids the other day, and afterwards, when I was monitoring T's shower, he turned to me and said, "I love you Robine, and I know that you take care of me because you love me. I know that you get mad at me but its just to tell me when I'm méchant or for me not be killed."

He also, apparently doesn't say Saint Germain en Laye, but Saint Germain au Lait. Saint Germain with a little bit of milk.


Meanwhile, Christmas things are going up. There are road blocks in the living room to prevent L from seeing the nativity scene, since she will probably destroy it. I was specifically instructed to divert her attentions...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Constitutional Rights

Random thought following a conversation (one of many, trust me) that I had about break-ins in France. They seem to happen quite often, and quite boldly here. I wonder, do you suppose that they are less frequent, and more violent in the United States because of the Second Amendment, and our obsession with the right to bear arms?

No idea what hand gun laws are like here, but in the US, I feel that the average middle class, educated person is more likely to have a gun in their home. Think that has a small deterrent on crime? If you were a criminal, would you be willing to risk entering a house while a dinner party was happening, knowing there's a good chance of a gun in the house? Because that apparently happens here. People are also just as likely to break in while you are sleeping. It's apparently quite an art, the things these criminals (Georgian mafiosos?) do.

Not a pro-gun post (if you've ever met me, you would know that), but it's something to think about, no? Wouldn't mind reading a study or an article comparing the two, if anyone could do it without being completely biased.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I generally avoid writing in this thing if I don't have anything to say. I don't particularily want to use this as a journal, in which I merely recount the things that have happened to me. I feel that is too intimate, and isn't really true to what my expectations are for this creative outlet.

Rather, I'm trying to use my experiences here, whether it be directly related to the kids, or my life outside of Au Pairing to analyze my feelings, and understand why I am the way I am. As I read back over what has happened to me in the last ten months, and I guess anyone who reads this, can get a real and true interpretation of who I am here, and why I am that way. I say who I am here because I feel that I have a different persona in France. Here, I feel more responible (having four lives in your hands, will do that to you). I feel more dependent on other people as well. I feel, most of the time, as we all know, like a sore thumb that sticks out everytime I open my mouth.

But, I also feel like I'm doing something here. I may get crap pay, work usually awful hours, do things that make me extremely uncomfortable, but I'm usually very happy. I think I probably won't stay in France forever (the reason I thought I had to stay is way too complicated, but I won't bother mention it, because it would be describing the trivial things that I am avoiding). And I believe the reason that I am so content here, is my level of comfort. I believe my friend Coco wrote something about traveling to one place gives you the travel bug, and inspires you to see other places. Of course it does. But I've discovered that the best and only way to really see a place, is to live there. Yeah, it sounds obvious, but I am sure that most people are reluctant to leave their comfort zones and be truly different. For me, living with strangers is perfect. I prefer to travel slow. For example, I have been living here for ten months, and I have yet to do a lot of the really touristy stuff. And I'm in Paris most weekends...I also like the luxury of having a different point of departure. From here yes, the United States is really damn far away, but London isn't. Neither is Amsterdam, Nice, Madrid, Prague, Geneva, or even anywhere in North Africa. There is flexibility here, and I enjoy that.

People like to ask me if I like France, if I like France better than the United States, and if they are very different. The answers are yes, not quite, and little things are different, but I see more similarities than not; respectively.

I like France. How can you not love a place with four grocery aisles of cheese? But as far as the French go, I think what I appreciate about them, is that they have a sense of humor, and a sense of self for that matter. They know they do irrational things, like striking, or have ridiculous bureacracy. But they know why, and even if they don't like it, they accept it as a part of themselves. There is a sense of solidarity, that I really appreciate.

Next point, is France better than the United States? Hell. No. But, then again, the United States is home. It's where my family is, I was raised on her culture, her beliefs, her government, her food, her capitalism and beautiful, beautiful commercialism. Her media, her literature, her music, her everything else. I love the United States. I love all of it, while accepting our negative as part of the huge puzzle that is my nation. See, unlike the many French I have talked to, I acknowledge that I will always be American, somewhere inside. I think I do a pretty good job of objectively understanding the nuances of French and American culture, but I accept that my opinion of things will be slanted and slightly different, because of my background. I can try, but I was psychologically formed in an American home.. And I'm not angry about it, I don't think this makes me dumb, but I do feel like culture is deeply embedded into who we are.

I'm not going into a nurture vs nature conversation, because I don't think it really rules your life, and is at the forefront of your identity. I just find it interesting to observe in people. I have met people and instantly could guess their background. I sometimes feel (and I notice that I do it too) that sometimes, without provocation, a gut reaction or comment to something is really indicative of where they are from. It's almost like 20 plus years of living somewhere will just automatically provoke a response. After thinking about it, they may change their mind. But for a split second, it's exactly what they were thinking, because its what they've heard their whole life.

Are the two countries very different? Kind of. I think that the families and school systems and goals of people are the same. S and J want their children to be happy, educated, and successful. They want them to have a well rounded childhood, and of course be bilingual. The kids complain about the same thing as me. They love brownies puppies and movies. So I guess in that sense, yes we are all the same. Beyond the kids eating paté, or strange cheeses, I could stick them anywhere, and they would fit in.

The differences, I have found, lie in the things that you would hope would be universal, the little things that you have never even thought about. For example--the post. The mail doesn't get picked up directly from your house, you have to go to the post office. Healthcare, universal. Speeding tickets, apparently you don't get pulled over. Traffic circles, another little surprise. Believe me, you need to have someone teach you how to use them. Drinking beer out of bottles by women, is apparently not socially acceptable. The school systems are notoriously rigid, and not helpful for kids who have learning problems. Traffic lights are in a different place. I can't remember what's American, and what's French, but it's different. Cell phones and house phones. In my house, I can't call cell phones, because it's too expensive.

But if I'm honest, while very annoying, it's always very interesting to be doing something, and learn, oh wait, we don't do it that way?

I suppose it all adds to the experience.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Parent Test

Thinking about having children? Try this test first.
Step One-Find a good friend. The closer to 'best friend,' (ie someone you really like) the better.

(Note, you must stay sober, and rational)

Step Two-Wait until they are extremely stressed out (break up, school, work, home, whatever)

Step Three-Take them out to a bar/your house

Step Four-Feed them four shots of vodka

Step Five-Wait to see how the handle it

Step Six-Feed more vodka as necessary, taking care to space it out so you don't commit homicide.

Step Seven-By now, they should be so drunk they can't stand and/or function. Let them get a glimpse of a member of the opposite sex that they are interested in, or dangle tacos/cheeseburgers/any good drunk food in front of them. Let them talk to them, or eat it.

Step Eight-Demand that they leave with you.

Step Nine-Argue them into submission. (Note, this may get ugly. You must be rational and calm, even if they are throwing a complete fit, after all, no one wants to get kicked out or arrested).

Step Ten-Take them home and put them to bed. At this point, they will most likely be sobbing hysterically, and babbling incoherently. Console them while simultaneously undressing them, and redressing them as they go through the following emotions-Sad, Mad, Happy, Confused, Mad, Sad, Confused. Sing to them as necessary. Put a diaper on them, incase they wet themselves.

Step Eleven-Come back two hours later to check diaper, make sure they are breathing/haven't vomited.

Step Twelve-Go to bed, pat yourself on the back, and remember, you only have eighteen more years to go.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Je deteste the Terrible Two's

L turned two a few months ago, and before that things had been going well. She has her moments, but she has been a pretty good baby-come-toddler.

Then she learned how to talk. To let everyone know, the house I live in, is not actually owned by S and G; It is L's. All food belongs to her, all toys belong to her, all clothes belong to her, all markers, water bottles, everything in my room, everything in all bathrooms, all three cars, everything that's in T's room. All of this and more, is property of L.

Yesterday, she was mad at me because I took off her cardigan for her to get into the bath, which she loves. Her reaction? Try and rip off my cardigan and shirt. This morning she hit me in the face, hard. It sucks, because there's no way you can really discipline her, besides say 'No L! That's not nice!' When all I want to do is smack her back.

Of course it's obvious where she learns it, the kids spend a great deal of time smacking each other around in fits of anger. I let them go at it, but, ironically, I end up paying the price.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To my employers

After many weeks of painful deliberation, I have decided to go with this new job. As you know, this has not been an easy decision, however, at 23, I hate constantly having to worry about money. I am taking this new opportunity, not because I am miserable, but because I would like a change. I know that you in a small way consider this a betrayal, and that upsets me. Unfortunately, I will be betraying myself if I give in to something based on the needs of others. Like I said, I am young, and I feel that I have dealt with the disadvantages of this job well. To be honest, there were many advantages that made up for it, and I will stay the whole twelve months.

I feel that we have created a relationship, all seven of us, and that makes this so much harder. However, with that relationship, I hope that you will want what is best for me. And what is best for me, is to make a change, like I said, based on what I feel is right for me at this point in my life.

You said that it will be a complete change for you all, and that is true. It will be a change for me too, because I will be taking yet another job that I do not know all of the disadvantages, and that is a risk that I want to take. But, to be honest, taking this job after talking to you all twice, coming to a country about which I knew nothing was way more difficult. It turned out to be a very pleasant experience, occasional bad days aside.

I will help you, in any way possible, to find a new girl. But I feel that I've spent so much of this year giving up things for me. I'm not upset, I would say I'm used to it, but that doesn't necessarily sound positive. I have learned way more about myself, and life for that matter since I've been here. I feel that I've calmed down as a person, and have become way more patient. And I do have the kids to thank for that. It has been truly a pleasure getting to know the kids, but I really feel like it is necessary for me to try something different.

I had a job interview, one time, before I came to France. It went horribly, but the one question that sticks out in my mind was this "What was the hardest decision you ever had to make?" Back then, I was stupefied, I had no real idea. Yes I had hard things happen, but decisions were always usually obvious. And I realized, this is it. There are two prongs. I am giving up a job that I know how to do well. I am giving up a place I am accustomed to. I am making two people have to look for a completely new person to come live with their family. But, if I stay here, I am letting down myself, accepting less money, accepting more babysittings, and accepting living out in a place that is relatively remote. All of these were things that I have embraced, and complaining aside, I have adapted. How many times this year did I think, if only I lived in a place closer to an RER? If only I had a little more money? If only I had a Friday off? If only I had a Saturday off? If only I could come home from a train on a Sunday evening, and not worry about walking 45 minutes?

But, now I have the option to give myself, perhaps not a better experience, but a new one. And if I decide to stay for everyone else, that isn't fair for me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fact-Because I have an accent, I am incompetent

I went to the Intermarchee today, to buy some toiletries. This is not the first time I've been to this store, nor will it be the last. I probably average several times a month, depending if I'm cooking more, or if I get really bored. So, I would say I've been to the intermarchee about 50 times. On top of that, I am well rehearsed in paying at both the normal desk with a cashier, as well as the self serve scanner.

Not to mention, even if I was not, I am a reasonably intelligent person, and capable of figuring out my way through the check out.

One problem--I speak French with an accent. The lines were ridiculously long, and because I had only 5 items, I went through to the self check out part. An employee (with a bad dye job, but that's neither here nor there..) approached me and said something.

"Pardon?" I said back. She said basically, "How are you paying?" in French, I said "Oh, avec carte," with card. She said, in French, the carte blue isn't working, you can only pay with cash. Two seconds later in English she said, "Only cash." I responded in French, but I was annoyed. IF I WANT YOU TO SPEAK ENGLISH TO ME I WILL ASK YOU TO. I CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT SHE SAID AND RESPONDED.

To add infuriating insult to injury, as I scanned my items and threw them in anger (okay, so I have a temper) she was basically reading over my shoulder and PUSHED THE BUTTONS ON THE SCREEN FOR ME LIKE I COULDN'T DO IT MYSELF.

Not only have I been here, as I said many times, I also must speak a little bit of French to have conversed with you. AND. THE. SCREEN. HAS. PICTURES.

I was so insulted I was speechless. As she finished up the checkout for me (I will remind everyone that this was SELF checkout, but the little foreign girl apparently can't handle it). I said loudly and clearly. "Oui, je parle français." I don't think she understood how irritated I was but lets think here.

1) We are in O-town. If I didn't speak French, where would I come from? There are no train stations, I clearly have access to a car, so I clearly live locally. I'm not a tourist who got on a wrong train, ended up in Villenes, walked to the market and decided to buy hair conditioner.

2) I'm talking to you in French. It is really insulting to me to talk to me in English, because many cases, as was this one, I must have looked too stupid to speak more than one language. The French tell me it is to be polite, and perhaps this is cultural. But I find it extremely rude.

3) I am an adult. One who has grown up during the technological age. I can use a touch screen check out, I have been for years. Save your help for the French-speaking older people who might get confused.

Of course, this isn't so much an isolated event. We get someone to come do the ironing, apparently on Fridays. So some guy shows up on Friday, and I answer and he says something about coming to pick up the ligne, or laundry. Right, S didn't mention it, but I figured I could figure it out. He comes in, with his (and this is important) 14 year old daughter. He asks me something, and I think he is from a different part of France, because I don't understand. I say, I'm sorry, I didn't understand. Theeeen the English comes. It sounded something like this "Uhh today, laundry, uhh tomorrow bring when?"

Okay. I am the last person on the planet to insult someone who speaks a language poorly. I get misunderstood on the regular, but again, we are living in France. I don't expect people to talk to me in English, as we know, I prefer that they do not. The exception, of course, is if we already have a history of English speaking, or if they speak English fluently.

This guy, clearly didn't have a background in the language, but, it got worse. As I stood there staring at them, wishing he would just talk to me in French, his KID started chiming in "uhh, when give?". Jesus Christ. I finally put a stop to this, and ask him to repeat what he said in French, because he spoke to fast for me to understand. I also pointed out that I had about five thousand things going on in the house, and I was a little overwhelmed. He kept asking my when I wanted to laundry back, and I kept explaining that I didn't know and that I would ask S to call him. He continued to try and speak to me in English. At least his daughter butt out.

I'm thinking about making a t-shirt that says
"Je ne peux pas apprendre le français si vous me parlez en anglais,"

Of course, it would be grammatically correct.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Potty Training-Who suffers more psychological abuse?

In a blog that I wrote a few months ago, I included a list of things that I did not think I would be doing a year previous to that post. Got another one--potty training.

L is two and change. She is hardly potty trained at all, part of this is due to laziness, and part is due to the fact that she spends several days a week at the creche, where I doubt they have the time for the relatively traumatizing event that is toilet training. I'll be honest, I have no idea how to do this. Besides sit her on the potty and say 'Go pee pee!!' over and over, I really don't know how this is done. It feels intuitive for me to hold it in, and let it all out at one time, where as L prefers the waterfall approach, so she doesn't ever have too much in her bladder at one time. How the hell do I change that concept?

Anyone who has ever talked to me know that currently, there are two kids in my house that have issues using the toilet: T and L. T makes it to the bathroom to pee about 50 percent of the time (with help from me of course), and makes it most of the time to the bathroom to poop. We had an incident a few weeks ago that resulted in a broken washing machine, I will let your imaginations run with this one.

Anyway, as you can imagine, this leads to a lot of laundry, and with L pooping herself once a day, a lot of dirty diapers that I have to change. So today is the day. L is giving up diapers cold turkey. Thus far, at 1040 am, she hasn't really done that well, but I'm not sure if I should keep changing her, or get her used to the discomfort of walking around in wet undies (although, if genetics are a good predictor, it wont bother her, see: T).

So another item to add to the list of things I never thought I would be doing--Google searching 'How to potty train toddlers".

Although one amusing thing that occured as a result of this endeavor--L started saying my name and the French word for butt. Upon closer inspection, I realized she had gotten her first wedgie.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hypocrisy-I become part of the sheeple

My sister came in town last week. Because she's been basically everywhere, we decided to get out of France and go to Prague, in the Czech Republic. Prague has a great (misleading) reputation for being fun, beautiful, and cheap.

The little capital is trying very hard to take advantage of the waves of tourists by upping prices. My sister, who was there in 2006 was horrified, myself, who frequently goes out in one of the most expensive cities in the world, was pleasantly surprised. Eight euros for a meal with MEAT? Less than two euros for a WHOLE PINT?! Is this heaven?!

Anyway, needless to say, Molly and I lived it up, eating whole meat plates (okay, that was just me), and drinking copius amounts of spiced wine, beer, regular wine, absinthe, coffees, and basically anything on the menu.

I realized how much I a) miss ordering any kind of meat at a restaurant, if anyone has seen my post about food in France, you understand and b) cant avoid being a tourist.

I don't think I've ever blogged about how damn annoying tourists are in France, and I know that sounds insensitive, seeing as I am a foreigner, and barely make it with the language thing. (Although, constantly being spoken to in English, or hassled on the trains because of my accent and being thought of as a tourist probably has a direct result on my disdain for them.) Anyway, lets be honest, they are annoying. Anyone who lives anywhere where newbies show up and ask a ton of annoying questions, and do a bunch of annoying things to try and be original but really aren't, are annoying.

Oh yeah, except until I become one. Enter-Prague. I was a tourist. An American tourist at that, speaking English, laughing, and butchering the Czech language, that is, when I even bothered to try and speak the language at all. I guess I am constantly surprised when I realize that English has become the international language. I always assume that its because I look Anglo, that people speak to me in English, but to be honest, when I am talking with a friend on the street in Spanish, no one knows if I'm Anglo, Latina, Greek, French or anything. The French response to us always seems to be the same, speak English with us. It doesn't make much sense to me in France, seeing as French is a pretty widely studied language.

The Czech Republic on the other hand, wow. So one of my pet peeves, in English speakers, is when they waltz (this goes with my bohemian theme) into a place and automatically speak English, and worse, when they continue to do so, as it becomes clear the other person does not. (Had an experience in Argentina with an English guy, of course, who walked in to a travel place my friend and I were at and started speaking in English, the woman translated that her partner, the English speaker was not around and would be in later. The Brit, stereotypical as he was, refused to accept her not speaking English continued to talk at her, forcing myself and Melissa to translate. The women thought we were German.)

Anywho, so my way of avoiding this was pantamiming (spelling). In which I used hand gestures and pointing to get what I wanted. This usually came off as being smug, or ignorant, but I couldnt figure out the Czech vowels ( or lack of them) to at least put up the pretense of asking if they spoke English. It was embarassing and uncomfortable, because I realized that I had become the people that I hate. For the most part, as soon as I started being awkward, the people began speaking to me in English.

If there's one thing the French enjoy, its bitching about French, and it being overrun and changed by foreigners. (They have an entire academy dedicated to the preservation of the language). I must wonder how the Czech feel. Are we like little aliens that are coming in there, demanding we are treated just like the Czechs, but refusing to even try and grasp a few words? I met a French guy at a bar (what a surprise) and talked to him briefly in French. He lives in Prague, has for three years now, and works with the refineries or something like that. I asked him if he spoke the language, and he said no, he just speaks in English or French. Later, we were discussing my own language conquest, and I was saying how difficult things still are for me. Do you know what he said to me? "Si tu habites en France, il faut apprendre le francais." If you live in France, it is necessary to learn French.

Yeah right, mon copain, practice what you preach.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Au Pairstituion Part 2: Can I be Bought?

Another interesting situation that we deal with in this choice of employment is the level of intimacy that is created between yourself, your job, and your bosses. If your like me, you are the kind of person who cant live without a sense of comfort, that is, you are required to create a pretty close relationship with the family you live with. For me, I was lucky enough that this was not particularily difficult. G and S are friendly people, they have a sense of humor, and are easy to talk to. Which is why I am in a difficult position.

In any other job, if you were offered something that was a better living situation and higher pay, there would be no question of whether or not you would take it. Unfortunately for me, I face leaving behind a group of kids I know well, and a toddler who has me wrapped around her little chubby fingers.

So, I have an opportunity to move to a different family, with less children, in a place more conviently located with better accesibility to Paris. The pay is significantly higher as well, so instead of living by the skin of my teeth, I would have more flexibility to do the things that I want to.

But its an emotional issue. They dont want me to leave, and I cant pretend like this is easy. What makes it worth is G and S are not passive. They actively campaigned for me to stay, and really made me feel guilty about choosing something different.

It sucks. Mainly because if I try and make everyone happy, I know that I will be upset with myself. I will be angry every Saturday I work, I will be angry every Friday I spend chained to my house with L, and every Sunday night I fight fate and SNCF trains to come home. I will be mad when my bank takes four days to transfer my pathetic salary, and I have no money. But I will also feel bad leaving behind four kids that I know well, and a two year old I am obsessed with.

What to do?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greve-Striking the French Way

Alright, for those of us who are not at the least bit aware of what's going on in my current country of residence, here we go.

At this current moment, the unions of France are striking to prevent the government from changing the age of retirement from 60 to 62, also something to do with the pension and stuff, but this is the gist.

As a developed country, most French enjoy a long life. The natural presumption to the government (who is trying to alieve their debt) is that French can work longer, a whopping two years longer. Result? Chaos.

The youths who are striking from high school, are doing so because someone is telling them that these old geezers, I mean workers, will be taking the jobs that they will be trying to get. Let's stop, what 61 year old is doing a job that you would WANT as a 20 something year old? I would assume, that these younger people would enter the job market in entry level positions, but I clearly underestimated the French.

How does this affect me? Didn't really, until I realized that unions strike with other unions, even if they don't necessarily agree. Is the sindicalist version of empathy. Anyway, gas is not being moved from the refinieries, so basically, its like the Oil Embargo of the 1970s (or was it 80s?) on the streets. Closed gas stations, long lines, the whole deal. The trains around are still wacky, and I have no way to get gas for my car, so there's a reeeally good chance I will be staying in this weekend, and to be honest that's the last straw.

Can I strike against the strike?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


L went to bed tonight before her Daddy came home. She wasn't sleeping though. I knew this, because I could hear her little voice yelling from her jail cell (crib) for Papa. She was like a little inmate, whom everyone was ignoring.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Phonetics-Why I don't bother pronouncing names the French way.

So, I play the French speaking game. I make a genuine effort, and demand that people talk back to me in French, as they so often do. (Antoine used to tell me that it's them being polite, but I think it's condescending). I play hard, I play well, and I play all the time. Except for one tiny aspect of French----The names.

About fifty percent of the time, I come across a name that I can't pronounce in a manner that any other French speaking person would understand. Best example, Charles. In English, its hard ch, hard r, and "les". Piece of cake. You can clearly hear every letter, I know, ENGLISH speakers can, but shove it. In French, its sounds like "shrl," and thats a French r, so its guttural and the back of the throat. What? Unfortunately for me, A's best friend is named "shrl," so I've very Americanly regressed back to calling him Charlie. He responds, no problem.

Other examples are "Mathilde," F's friend who came over for lunch on Friday, I called her Matilda. "Agathe" is a three year old who chats with me every time I see her. Her mother is very sweet and speaks excellent English. I call her Agatha. "Eve" is "Ehhv" in this country, in my mouth, its "Eeeve."

I get this gift for nonpronunciation from my mother. Antoine and I were jokingly (jfklsdjq, is how I feel about that) talking about children and what we would name them. We decided that if we had a kid, we would name it two names, one super French, one super Anglo. Like Olivier-Bob. As we were discussing child's names, he mentioned the name Aurore for a girl. When he said it, it was so full of vowels and r's I nixed it immediately, explaining that I couldnt name my child something my mother would never be able to pronounce.

Now, with the children I watch, this isn't a problem, because I have so much practice screaming their names in different volumes and intonation. Despite the 38 year old French man and friend of S and G who mocked me for saying T's name, I think I do a pretty decent job.

Now the question becomes "Should I feel guilty for not trying?" I don't. Why? My name, when pronounced the French way is "Roban" and VERY distinctly masculine. It'd be like being Robert, instead of Roberta. So, I introduce myself to people as Robine. In Spanish, when read as is, is also pronounced like that. Tatiana calls me Robine. She knows how to say my name, but she doesn't bother, and I never noticed until she commented on it one time. I'm so open minded about this, on the first day of class, I introduced myself as "Robin, Robine Roban, comme vous voulez" Whatever you want to call me.

And to be honest, I like it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Lasagne a la Madame Francais

Have you ever seen that show, I can't remember the name, but Bobby Flay basically follows people around the country who have dedicated their whole life to one particular dish than attempts to one up them in the name of competition? Well thats kind of like dinner time at Chez Francais. I see something made, and I have to recreate it. Usually it comes with instructions which I promptly forget.

Today, I made lasagne a la S. APPARENTLY, lasagna on this side of the Atlantic is done differently (NO ricotta!!) I tried it once the Irish way, and quit because the damn noodles are too hard to use, and now am attempting it the French way. Because I've never had lasagne a la Mme Francais, I had to roll with her giving me instructions. Which is basically like making a new recipe, except with no measurements and having 5 picky eaters manging it.

Instead of the whole meat sauce followed by ricotta situation (or maybe its just in my house) we make a sauce with milk, creme fraishe, emmental, and tomato concentrate. Or in my case, we dont make nearly enough (because we are afraid that the consistancy is too thick and it will not cook the noodles, thusly ruining dinner, which is why we are glad we have a pizza as back up).

Anyway, the lasagna is sitting around waiting to be put in the oven. So, let's hope I did it right.

Monday, September 27, 2010

First Day of School: Did you pack your bigotry?

I will attempt to stay even headed here, but I make no promises. Something interesting happened to me today.

I had my first day of classes, I am a proud member of the A2 level (thats right in the middle, I know I could be higher, but hey, ca va.) I'm the only American, and I suspect because all of us are either in the lowest level, or a higher level. The rest of my classmates are German, Ukranian, Swedish, Irish, and I think an English girl.

No biggie, I'm down with making friends that I will only speak French with. Or I was before class ended.

So our little activity is to fill out random questions about who we are. Then, we play celebrity where you pick someone and pretend to answer the questions as they would, nationalities were acceptable. Sarah and I did Santa Claus, one group did Sarkozy, and one did someone I cant remember. One wonderful ground did, you guessed it--Americans.

This vaguely passed through my mind, that I could have done Americans, seeing as I am one. But I thought, nah, that's not really clever, and I don't know any of these girls. Not to mention, despite what all non-Americans try to insist, I don't feel that I fit the stereotype.

So this bitc--I mean girl, who is German by the way, starts off saying, okay we did a nationality but its really just a stereotype and "un peu mechante". A little mean. I knew what was coming. Such highlights included "Whats my best personality trait?" "Speaking English" "What do I like to do?" "Manger le fast food, comme MacDos." "What are my favorite colors?" "Red, white, and blue." I think I blacked out the rest because I was so upset, I could feel the blood pumping in my head, and I wasn't sure how I was about to react. Then it was the awkward pause of "Who is it?" At this point, I kind of lost my temper, slammed my notebook shut, said, "C'est les americaines" and thought about walking out. Sarah told me later than the girl got all red in the face and started to apologize. The teacher quickly changed the subject, but I was, well, angry.

Slight changes that would have made this acceptable-
-We knew eachother
-She was American
-We were in the United States
-I was in the group

Let's be honest. This is the exact same thing as me picking Jews and saying "I love money" and "I have a big nose" or picking Blacks and saying "I like fried chicken." And, I know this is going to sound hypocritical, but it would have been okay if she had picked the French, or we were in the US and she had picked the US.

Why? Because one thing that I love about meeting international people, and why I choose to spend most of my time with them is because we GET eachother. We may come from completely different cultures, but we are all foreigners together, and quite frankly, weird shit happens to us. Its all part of the living abroad experience that made me want to come back and do this again. It's why I feel completely comfortable with Tatiana even though we dont speak in my native language. We complain about French men, or French stuff, because its foreign to us. And maybe you think I'm being a Negative Nancy (because I actually do love this country) but it helps you cope. It helps you feel sane when most days people hear your accent and talk to you like you're crazy.

So this girl, this fellow foreigner with whom I am supposed to have a bond, acted just like every other close-minded shitty person that I've met here.

So I didn't actively do anything or say anything to her, because I hope she feels awkward about it. Perhaps its funny for her to make fun of someone because of all these ideas that you get from the media and other people, but for me, and not to sound dramatic, its almost a daily ordeal that I have to deal with. People making assumptions and saying stuff to me, because I'm American so therefore its perfectly acceptable to comment about war, obesity, and how much better France is. It gets irritating. The constant strain of this has already destroyed one relationship. I have literally had people ask me where I'm from and give me a look of disgust when they hear the answer. And I had a boyfriend who couldn't separate Robin from the American.

So, I'm a little afraid to ask, am I being overly sensitive? Was this girl tactless, or am I just pathetic?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Children

So no Au Pair blog would be complete without anecdotes about the childre, right? Here we go.

1) One thing that never fails to bring entertainment, is L when she's frustruated. I know, it sounds cold hearted, but its kind of hilarious. The other day, I heard L starting to get mad upstairs. It started out with squeals of anger and escalated into screams of "Mais BIIIIIII! BIIII! AHHHH!!" So I went upstairs. L is going through a pousette phase, in which she is mildly obsessed with her two strollers (she just got a Hello Kitty one for her birthday). At the top of the stairs, we have a baby gate that you basically have to be over the age of 4 to work out. L had opened the gate, and was trying to get her stroller, Kitty, and herself downstairs. Unfortunately for her (and probably fortunately for me, since she probably would have fallen) she couldn't get through the gate due to a few obstacles including huge boxes of clothes. I go upstairs and find her shreiking and RED in the face trying to get her stroller through. She was so upset she just looked at me and the stroller while crying. I'm sorry, it was hilarious.

2) L and I were in the car the other day, and I had gotten four cents in change from somewhere, so I gave it to her to play with. She then gave me back the money, I said thank you, and didn't think anything of it. Well apparently, she thought the money was hers and she wanted to buy candy. She started demanding bon bons from me the entire ride home.

3) T received a oversized zucchinni from his Mutti. Its been in his room for about three weeks, and I just found it. The smell almost made me vomit. He may or may not have peed on it.

4) I made a big omlette for dinner the other night, and A decided he wanted more potatos. He poured like a cup of oil in a frying pan and cooked all three of the potatos. Then he poured the mixture into a bowl and ate the whole thing, oil and all. Good thing I dont change his

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Au Pairstitution

So when you first hear about the idea of Au Pairing, you may think "Dude, living for FREE in another country and only working for about 30 hours a WEEK? Sweet." Then you start listing the cons. For example, you have four kids, you have to work some weekends, you live in the middle of no where, you have four kids, you don't speak French, you don't know how to meet people, you have four kids, you work crappy hours, and like it or not, you're living in someone else's HOME. And they are varying degrees of comfortable with what you do in your free time. I am relatively lucky. As long as I'm not working, they're cool with me taking the car or doing whatever at night. This is not always the case. I've heard stories including everything from having to be home at 7 am on a saturday to dress the baby, to coming in and waking the girl up to discuss man problems, to making the girl write a list of her evening out and contacts of where she will be.

Another interesting thing that I have came in contact with, is how often people come up to me and offer me jobs with other families. On more than a few occasions, people have blatantly asked me if I'm looking for new family. Today for example, I went to a clothing store in O-town to exchange a shirt. I made the sensor go off, turns out my coat had some sort of thing that needed to be cut off. So the girl started talking to me in English, and I asked her to speak in French. When I got up to the counter she asked me if I lived in O-town, and I said yes, she then asked if I was a jeune fille au pair. Why yes, I am, I told her. She then asked me when I would be staying here and told me she was looking for someone. I wrote down the name of the agency I used and wished her luck.

I find this situation interesting, because I'm not looking for a new family (and if I was, they sure as hell wouldnt live in O-town). And I'm thinking to myself, my God, why am I even trying to go back to the United States if I could just stay here and get job offers on the street! This is what immigrants must have imagined the US to be like...

Well, young American girls, Come to France! The land of unending job offers for Au Pairship! You too can live like an indentured servant and take care of children who drive you crazy and get paid crap!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Food for my Maman

First of all, my mom confessed to me that she's been reading my blog, so Hi Mom! This entry's for you!

Ok so when I have or usually tell American people (who are not living in France) where I live and what I'm doing, one of the most common comment is "Oh my God! The food must be amazing!" And, depending who it is, I smile politely, or blurt out "I cook for CHILDREN. They hate everything good."

So my food experiences occur in two different places, in my kitchen, when I decide to try a new recipe from my American cook book, or when S teaches me how to make something French, like quiche, or zuchinni soup. She has also introduced me to her version of the gateau chocolat which is unbelievably rich and yummy, and disgustingly easy to make. I'll share.
Note-I'm not into doing things like "measuring" or "making things with the same ingredients each time." I'm a bit of a rogue, mainly because I'm too absent minded to ever remember everything at the grocery store. (Thanks Mom, I get it from you). Oh yeah, its going to be in metric, I will be do my best to remember American conversions.

200 grams or about 7 oz Dark Chocolate, or Semi Sweet as it may be called in the USA
Same amount of UNSWEETENED butter.
200 ml of sugar
4 heaping table spoons of flour
2-3 eggs
and about a teaspoon of Sodium Bicarbonate, depending on if you have a meddling mother looking over your shoulder.

Oven to to 375 F or 190 C. This recipe doesnt make enough for more than one cake pan, so I just use an eight (or is it nine?) inch one. I know, it sounds like I'm skimping, but its so rich, you just need a tiny bit. Get a saucepan to medium heat and melt together butter and chocolate. Let cool, wait a few minutes (if you DONT do this, and try to add the eggs, the might poach. I learned this the hard way.) Anyway, after it cools down add the sugar. I really want to say its about a cup, but I cant remember. Add in the eggs, three should make the cake slightly fluffier, in my experience, and I almost always use three. Add the flour. Pour batter in greased cake pan, and bake between 20 and 25 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Give batter to children to eat up, and hope no one gets e coli.

How I feed myself outside of my own kitchen-
So, if you're like me, and you leave your house Friday and dont come back until Sunday, you will, at some point have to eat. If you're also poor like me, there's no way in hell you are going to spend between 15 to unspeakable amount of euros on food. Thats like six meals. In fact, if you're REALLY broke you'll do what we do.

Hit up the Monoprix, the Franprix, or anywhere else they sell food. Baguette is usually going to run you about 90 centimes, a wedge of brie is about 1.50 and if you're feeling really ritzy, ham is about 2 euros. Less that four euros for a meal that can feed two people. Throw in a bottle of water, or wine, a sweet spot in Parc Luxembourg and you're looking at a lovely cheap picnic, full of glorious memories (or not so much, depending how much wine you drink).

Some variations of this meal (which I eat, like at least twice a weekend) include saucisson or chorizo, sometimes turkey if we can find it, and occasionally emmental or camembert in place of brie. If I'm with Tatiana, we are probably buying minizzas, which are like pizzas in cracker form.

If you're feeling ritzy there are a few other really cheap food options. Number one, you guessed it-Sanwich Grecs! Theyre everywhere, and will usually run you about 5 euros for a sanwich and frittes. The cleanliness runs from clean to the-only-reason-I-would-ever-eat-here-is-because-its-4am. But mostly they're decent.

Paninis-Sold everywhere. In Saint Michel I think they run about 3.50, but I think I've seen them as cheap as 2.50. These things are worth mentioning because I usually opt to splurge on a Panini when its cold, versus ham sandwiches, for obvious reasons. Plus the three fromage ones are so on point and bad for you its not even funny.

And the last cheap food worth mentioning is of course the infamous CREPE. Don't be a fool and pay 7 euros for one from a take a way stand. They should be no more than 5 for a salee, aka salty one. (We recently saw this on Grand Boulevard, I almost threw up, 8 euros for a crepe! Come on!) I guess people might think of Crepes as a sweet kind of thing, and they exist (Nutella and banana is a crowd pleaser, but strawberry confiture is UNBELIEVABLE). They also have such yummy salty versions such as, fromage and jambon, or cheese and egg, and some with Tuna, and a hundred other kinds I cant remember.

Anyway, that's what I usually end up eating France.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Parking Ticket

Shockingly, I got a parking ticket today. I know, you'd think someone with my fabulous luck would never get a parking ticket in her life. Wrong-o.

But, it was only eleven euros, so I thought to myself "Robin, you better do this now, or its never going to get done." Right, so I went and talked to the police man which annoyed me. The conversation went something like this (it was in French, but I will translate).
Robin-Are you police?
R-Can you tell me why I got this? Because I park here all the time.
C-Oh sure, I will explain it to you. Blah blah blah, 11 to 1130 blah blah, more stuff in French I didnt understand, and for that reason, you have a ticket.
R-Right, okay how and where do I pay for it?
C-You go buy a stamp from the Tabac, or you can pay in a check.
R-But wheres the police station
C-By the Mairie
R-Wheres that?
C-There (Points) Up the street straight then on the right.
R-Okay, and how many days do I have to pay this?
R-(Thinking in French numbers) Foorrtty..
C-(In English) Forty five.

This. entire. conversation. was. in. French. And you think I can't say NUMBERS. Come on man. Give me a break.

Anyway, after going to the Tabac, buying the ticket, not having my card work, going to the ATM, not having my card work again, using my American card, I was successfully able to pay of my ticket. And, turns out the same guy who was helping me before was the one who signed for it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Indiana Jones

Although this did not happen to me directly, I was mostly present for the episode, and I feel that it's a tale worth telling.

Friday night, Coco and I decided to meet at Saint Lazare to have a drink before we went out separate ways later. She took the 2020 train, I took the 2041 train, we were to arrive in Paris roughly the same time.

The 2041 train gets me to the station about 2105. I get a phone call at 2055, and pick up thinking its Coco telling me that she has arrived and wanting to know when I will be there.

Its Coco alright, but shes begins telling me how her train stopped at Conflans, they said something in French, and a few people got off the train. Then, the lights went out and the train started going, to quote, "800 miles an hour". So the train finally stops somewhere, she tries the doors, but shes locked in! The train starts moving again. Finally, the train stops in the middle of a tunnel, in the middle of no where. Realizing she has no other option, she pries open the doors and jumps onto the tracks (Indiana Jones style).

She calls me again, and I start freaking out because shes on tracks, in the dark, where trains are running full speed. I tell her she's got to get off the tracks immediately, and she tells me she sees a huge fence, and I tell her she has to jump it.

Basically, I'm freaking out, and she's scared shitless, but she finally finds a stair case up to the train station, and I ask the Accueil at St. Laz for a train schedule. The train is about 15 minutes late, but she finally makes it safely in town around 2200.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


When I first arrived, L was about 16 months, barely mobile, mute and overweight. Now, she has grown several inches and actually RUNS. She started walking well shortly after I arrived and has made much progress. She is no longer the shape of a basket ball, but she is still quite large for her age (home girl rocks three year old clothes).

More interestingly I have observed, is her speech development. She started out with the easy words like Maman and Papa, but she now has a wider range of L phrases such as "Maman est partiee", "maman est pas la", "papa est partie", "papa est pas la." "Eye!" "Nez!" "Mais Beeee"(thats me) "Bebe fait dodo" "Tiiitiiiiii" "Du l'eau" "Du lait" "Datau!!" (for cake and or cookies) "Nonore est la" (she cant say her name yet). It's both charming and annoying. Now, she can almost successfully communicate when shes hungry (which is always).

When I came back from vacation, after three weeks, she made a ton a progress in her speech. So much progress, that when I heard her on the phone, I couldnt figure out what kid it was. It was the first time I heard her little voice.

It's a pretty amazing to watch her develop. She literally grows every single day. Now, when I say "Arms up!" to get her dressed, she understands and sometimes complies. I sing to her, and I can see her little brain processing the information as she starts mimicking the words along with me. (ABC and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes are her favorites).

Yesterday, G was trimming the hedges with some kind of scary sounding power tool. I went outside to check on the kids, and she saw me, ran over with arms open and clutched her hands around me rocking everytime the trimmer started. You could say I should have brought her inside, but she was also mermerized by the noisy machine, and with me there, it was okay.

Sometimes this job doesnt suck so much.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Refinding my muse

Yes, I will admit that I have been rather lazy about writing in this. Its not that life hasn't been very exciting, and therefore worthy of writing about, its that I've been busy, and by the end of the day, I just dont feel up to thinking and doing anything.

The kids started school on Thursday. Hooray! For this reason, I am currently sitting in my pajamas at 2 in the afternoon. (I got home VERY late last night). I'm in that happy time of year where the kids are in school, and I'm not yet. Fortunately for me, I know a few people that I can socialize with so I can really enjoy having nothing to do between 930 and 4 pm.

Anyway, lets discuss school. So up until the end of June, I was attending a school called Academie de Langue. Or something like that, remember, I still cant spell in French. Anyway, to my dismay, the school closed down at the end of the academic year (they also lied to my face, but thats neither here nor there) and I realized I would have to find another (more expensive) school to attend. So I bit the bullet and took the online test for a school called la Clef, also located in Saint Germain. S, who seems to care a great deal more than I do about whether or not I'm in school, got some information from some friends and we found a school in Versailles. Last Thursday, I discovered theres a direct, and relatively regular bus (!) that goes to Versailles. So on it I hopped and took a little day trip to take a French qualifying exam.

Universite Inter-Ages is actually a University. It was about the same price as la Clef, but there were four classes a week. I took my exam, and placed into A2, not quite the lowest level. But because I cant write if my life depended on it, I need to start at the beginning. Which is okay with me. Anyway, two major problems were that a) they were at 9 am which is difficult for me since I work until 930, and b) they were on Friday. Fridays, for some reason unknown to me, L comes home all day instead of hanging out at the day care. I dont understand why I have to work 12 hours on Fridays, and its my own damn fault for agreeing to it.

Anyway. So I'm back where I started, with la Clef, and I guess I'll see what happens with that. There's supposed to be some sort of follow up testing situation, but I cant remember exactly when that is.

I'm not thrilled about going to school again (in case that wasnt obvious) because I feel like I have no time during the day. I am REALLY good at filling up the space between 10 am and 4. Running, napping, cleaning, whatever. I can do it. But I really should at least try and spend some time learning French.

So, socially speaking, I made a new friend or two, which is great. We also have hung out with this hockey team we met a few times. Up until yesterday, I thought that was exciting. Now, I realize that I have a curse with that sport. Its not even worth mentioning. But I was a good supportive friend for Coco, and consequently got home at 2 am.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The back story of Newsweek (Issue for the weeks of June 28 qnd July 5, 2010) stated the total defense spending for 2008 was 696,268,000,000.00 dollars.

So I assume that on top of paying our soldiers, paying for weapons, and warfare, this also includes the more mundane stuff, such as-healthcare for soldiers, their families, retired soldiers and their dependents, and outsourcing to civilians (which keeps my sister, dad and brother, as well as 50 percent of my friends employed).

But you cant help but ask yourself, we are willing to spend almost 700 billion dollars on our military (12 times more than China, who has triple our population, according to the same article), and we cant even entertain the thought of socializing (properly, I mean, like its done here in France) our healthcare?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I think I will punch the next European who tries to tell me what kinds of food/drink I consume in the United States.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Return to France/Vacay recap

After two and a half blissful weeks of English, I am back in O-town.

A short synopsis of my life since July 9, 2010:
Antoine arranged for a weekend in Haute Savoie for us, before I began a grueling two weeks of becoming a full time mom. We headed down to Evian and stayed in his Dads house, which is in the process of being converted to a bed and breakfast. The top floor was a newly restored flat zhich was modern, airy, and beautiful. Saturday we went to Annecy to tour around and go paddle boating, and laid in the grass in a park for quite a while. He dropped me off in a small village t outside of Geneva. As we were driving along, we realised that we had driven past the house. G had said on the phone that we should just "look for a big gate and a lot of trees," we soon found chez de Francais which was in fact Chateau de Francais.

Built during the French Revolution, the castle that we stayed in could sleep at least 30 people. According to what I pieced together and what Antoine asked O, the house is passed down through the daughters, not the sons. This family can trace their tree back to the middle ages.

I stayed in the top floor with all the kids. Fortunately I had my own room, but we all shared a bathroom, so I was woken up several times a night by children loudly tip-toeing through my room.

The bonus was that I had my own kitchen, so I was responsible for making lunch for the kiddies, which sounds like it sucked, but it was nice to have no one meddling.

Midway through the week I got a nice surprise from Antoine-he had cancelled his trip to Romania and would be returning to Haute Savoie to spend another weekend with me!

Monday, August 9, 2010


So I've been on vacation for about a month now. First two weeks were technically working, okay not technically, definitely. The last two I've been in the United States! I am writing this post instead of packing and getting my life together. I leave this evening to London then get into Glasgow tomorrow morning, UK time.

I assume I will recommence blogging when I get back on the other side of the Atlantic.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I cant wait to go back to a place where cabs exist at 4 am, and I dont have to take the RER home at 6 am.

It's most of the girls' last weekend in Paris. (Everytime I think about Ailie leaving I get sick)

I go home for my visit in 23 days.

We leave for vacation next Friday.

I'm leaving early to go to a mystery vacation with Antoine.

I will be staying with a count and countess in Geneva.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

At my wits end

How do you make a do what you want? I'm not talking washing the floors, or cleaning my room, I mean, do the things that his parents ask you to do.

Because I got no freakin' clue.

T tries my patience every single day. I don't think I'm a bad person, but I can't figure out how to deal with this child.

I try to be nice, doesn't work, I'm mean, doesn't work, so far the only thing that seems to do anything, is when he makes a scene in front of the same damn woman and she calms him down. Today, for example, we were running late, so he says "Wait! I need my ball!" I say no, because we have thirty seconds to get to school, and he starts to cry/scream, so I ask if its something for school, no its for play. Pas grave. One, he's not supposed to bring toys to school, two, HE WILL CHANGE HIS MIND IN THIRTY FIVE SECONDS. Anyway, he throws a tantrum, and I'm trying to juggle L, and bring him along and this woman comes up.

Everytime T is at his worst, she seems to be there. So shes like, okay I will take him to the crosswalk, and something snapped. So I told her, in French, no, I am the Au Pair, he needs to listen to me. At which point random woman told him that he needs to listen and obey me, so he said "Mais je n'aime pas la babysitter." But I dont like her. And then random woman takes him to the crosswalk.

(For the record, he pulls the same BS with his parents. It's not like I'm just a horrible person and he hates me, he just hates to be told no, and doesn't comprehend that you can't always get your way, and yes, I know he's only six)

I started crying. I feel like I try to do so much for this little brat, cleaning up after him, playing with him, bringing stuff for him to do, and he doesn't like me because I won't let him do something that hes not supposed to? God, I know he's only six, but this is killing me. A has gotten better since his parents had a talk with him, and to be honest, I LIKE talking to A, and even F. I like their stories, I like playing with them, I like teasing them, I like making them laugh.

L is so cute, that even though shes starting her terrible twos, it's not so bad. We spend a lot of time together too, so I usually know what to do with her to calm her down.

T is a huge question mark. He throws temper tantrums at the most unreasonable times, like when its bathtime, when I ask him to set the table, everything. You can't punish him because I'm not entirely sure he understands what I say, and when I take away one toy he finds another one in about two seconds.

I dont know how to deal with this.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I spent three hours last night waiting at the Arc de Triumph for the night bus back to O-town.

Holy. God.

Zack metroed with me over there around 1:15 to discover that the first one didn't come until 2:06. So around 1:40 I got a phone call from Nicole telling me that they were going to try and put Ailie in a cab and get her to CDG so she could ride home with me. I had to walk to Champs for a while to find her, then we missed the 2 something bus, then we finally almost got the 3 something bus, AND THEY WOULDNT LET US ON BECAUSE IT WAS FULL.

Are you kidding me? Two foreign girls at 3 in the morning, and you're going to force us to continue waiting outside by ourselves? Thanks, bus services of Paris. Then these kids would not leave us alone. They kept talking to us, and we kept rejecting them, it finally took two French girls to basically tell them to fuck off. On the bus they made round two, so to let them know I didnt want to speak to them, I told the kid, in English, that I was sorry for not being clear, but I did not, at that present moment (Or any moment) wish to speak with them, and if he said something, or touched me again, I would kill him. He left me alone after that. (Remind me to learn how to say that in French).

It was actually kind of scary because it was really unsafe, and I'm really surprised that we didn't get in more trouble than that. I'm thinking I actually should start carrying mace or a knife on me (too street thug?)

Anyway, if everyone ever gets ready, we're going to the lake today! The weathers finally nicer, and I'm really looking forward to swimming.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We went to the Champs Elysees last night, around midnight to see what there was to see. Paris was having a music festival, so the trains were running all night, and my Navego worked!

The Champs was crazy. There were cops, flags waving, drunk people, honking, car accidents with cops cars....I loved it.

I told Vanessa that being out on a Monday night until 3:30 am with no regard for work today made me feel human again. Not like a vampire, human. I was able to go out, do what I wanted and not have anyone tell me know. It was wonderful. Not that my family ever would tell me that I cant do something, but you still have certain constraints on what you feel comfortable doing. Ive been going out a lot more during the week (mainly because I have had more access to the car) but also because I'm in Europe, in a country that treats soccer like a religion (althought most French a bit disillusioned these days....) not only that, this city is so international, everytime someone wins a match, no matter how small the country, the streets are flooded with flags and cheering fans. Except in O-town. So I'm determined to soak up as much crazyness as possible until I get kidnapped and stranded in South France.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ailie and I went rowing on the Seine yesterday! Actually, I went rowing, and she hung out with a woman named Caroline who taught her to row for 45 minutes.

It was skulling, and its been a while, so it didnt go quite that smoothly. But, it was fun and I think I would like to try again.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Things I would have never thought I would (have) be doing (done)

If you had told me a year ago about this list, I probably wouldn't have believed you.

1) Wearing a jean jacket with jeans

2) Giving wiping lessons to a six year old

3) Encouraging a todler to pee in front of me

4) Running into people that I know, randomly, on the Parisian public transit

5) Last minute planning, and executing a solo trip to Germany, then wandering the city alone for a combined 8 hours

6) Planning to stay at a bar until 5 am to catch my early morning flight

7) Ever getting up at 6 am so I can commute two hours to work by 8 am (location-my kitchen)

8) Meeting a white guy named Antoine

9) Getting breast surgery

10) Seeing 4 children naked everyday

11) BFFriending a Scottish lassie

12) Forgetting how to spell friend

13) Ducking into the metro for warmth, and riding the one for a half hour

14) Bike riding home at one am

15) Taking anything called "the night bus"

16) Thinking 5 euros for a beer was a good price

17) Learning to type on a French keyboard

18) Drinking wine out of a plastic two litter bottle

19) Drinking vodka out of a two litter plastic bottle

20) Hating gypsies

21) Speaking French

22) Ironing pyjamas

23) Spelling words like specialization and realization with an s because I can never remember where the z is on the keyboard

24) Going on a date with a guy that doesnt speak English, or Spanish

25) Eating lunch in a Monoprix

I will add to this list as more weird stuff happens

Monday, June 7, 2010


1) Went to Germany to see Kelly, it was good to see some Americans

2) Matt and Dave came through Paris, after a few problems (didnt have a place to stay, got off at the wrong metro, had to crash in a three different places in three nights) we had an awesome time. Unfortunately, I now miss American men.

3) L is on a regime, and officially too fat (She calls both me and S maman)

4) Had my first night bus experience last night with Ailie and Callie.

5) I'm broke. Extremely broke.

6) I threatned to quit on A. His attitude is slowly destroying any patience I have. He can be the coolest little kid, or the most obnoxious. I talked to S and G about it, they agreed that he was back talking way too much. We had an intervention. I dont have a lot of hope.

7) I'm being kidnapped from July 8th to the 25th.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Les freaking Enfants

For those who have little to no contact with children on a daily basis, I would like to share a fact---Children exist to make you feel bad about yourself. Period. They spend the whole day thinking of the most random observations that are designed to make you question your self esteem and sanity.

I will admit that this whole can of worms that I've gotten myself into could have been avoided. My first mistake, letting A (81 lbs) see my weight. He reacted as follows "(insert weight here) Oh my God! Thats a lot! You need a regime" (I thought regime was exercise, its not, its a diet). Then, I've been very possesive about my JIF peanut butter, because it was imported by my maman for my birthday. Today, when I confessed the jar was close to gone (ONE MONTH LATER) , A informed me thats why I've "gotten fatter." Then we were playing with the scale, and I was, less than that first time, but more than I'd like. I wanted to explain that, actually, its the end of the day, and its that time of month, but I just commented on the time of day, and he admitted that I was wearing a lot of clothes...

Anyway these comments have inspired me to start running, as I wrote in a previous post. Yesterday, I went twice (after pasta for dinner). Thirty minutes in the morning and forty at night. G advised me to take it easy at first, and I'm sure he had a valid point. I wish I had some sort of cardio machine that would allow me to work out without the stress on my knees and hips everyday, but I guess I'll settle for walking. Speaking of injuries, it is really necessary for me to buy new running shoes, its been way too long, but theyre so expensive here! I may have to save up and bite the bullet, for the sake of my shins.

Next blog: Reasons why I'm amazed that Thas completed six years of life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ah, yes, I had a realization, that I wrote about in my real journal. I will transcribe it here. Its melodramatic, but it was what I was feeling, kind of, I took some liberties.

"Everything felt slow in London. Which was silly, really, it was a huge cosmopolitan city, modern and ancient with a reputation that was hard to put in words. Still she found plenty to criticize. The underground took too long, too spread out, weird restaurants, too expensive (the metro was 8 dollars!) They drove on the wrong side of the road, the guys at the store couldnt understand her accent.

But these were stupid reasons. All of them. Because for every Greek, or Pakistani, couldnt understand her American accent first time around, there were 100s more in France who would never understand her butchered French.

She realized that she resented London. She felt let down. It should be Heaven, after all. Signs in English? British accents? Peanut butter? But that fact was, she was still a tourist, just like everyone else cluttering Picadilly Circus, Parliament, and the London Eye.

Home for now, she realized, was France"

London, recounted

Alright well, I successfuly voyaged to and from London. We left last Tuesday after picking up the enfants from school. We arrived in Callais, just in the nick of time to face down UK customs. After talking our way into illegally smuggling the two youngest children into the United Kingdom (Thanks European Union!) we took an hour plus ferry ride to Dover, and drove another few hours to London (Ealing, more specifically.)

D has a huge row house, and two adorable (disgustingly well behaved) children. I dont think C age four, wets his pants, or has tried to start fires like T (kidding about the fires, for now). A2 is around L's age, and roughly half her weight...

Anyway, I had a pull out bed in the den, and tried to go to sleep while the four Frenchmen chatted, drank, and ate cheese. Actually, there were more than a few comments about my alcohol consumption...

I left the next morning, bag in hand, for Camden. TWO HOURS LATER, I successfuly was able to navigate the (unreasonably expensive, complicated, and slow) London Underground. My hostel was fine, but it was definitely weird to be on my own, but at least I speak freaking English.

I met some guy, right off the bat, who was pretty off balance. So, I'm a tourist, a broke one at that, and the only thing I wanted to do was walk around and take pictures of stuff, because I cant even afford to buy stuff. But he invites himself along with me on my expedition and we end up at this shopping area. Worse, he didn't laugh at my joke, "I live in Paris for christs' sake, if I want to see a bunch of shit I cant afford, I'll go to Champs d'Elysses," hilarious, right?

Anyway, came back towards Camden and rather than wait for him to fix his cell phone I wanderered around the markets in Camden that were charming, but not really that fascinating. After a while I got back to the hostel and met some other (more normal?) people, including a German girl named Isabelle, and a French guy named Julien.

We went out that night with Julien, Yves (French, obviously), Isabelle, and Alejandro (Argentine, but lives in France)

(I'm going to take a minute here to talk about Alejandro, because something funny happened with him. He had to leave at 3:30 am to catch a flight back to France. Everyone got pretty drunk, but he was reeeally drunk. We may have taken more shots of vodka when we got back to the hostel. You better believe I was egging him on telling him leaving was no excuse for him to stop drinking, and saying I knew Argentines because I lived there, blah blah. Anyway, he was hammered when he left, and apparently left his phone in one of Juliens bags, which we found the next day. I currently have the cell phone, since Julien is living in England. Now I need to call his house and send it back, but I just cant get up the motivation to do it. And its been several days...)

Yeah, so hung out at the park in front of Parliament (that I saw with my family last time.) And wandered around London for a long time with Julien, meeting a few French kids on the bus on the way back to the Camden.

(Oh yeah, Julien is from Renn, moving to London for kicks, and speaks very little English. I speak very little French. We had a great time together. I spoke French, he spoke English, it worked.)

Friday night, I haaad plans with Pat and Katharina, but they both bailed on me, so Isabelle and I ended up going to a few bars in Camden. I was really trying to abuse the fact that I was American, and it finally worked. Met a few guys that were pretty cool, and Craig bought me a few drinks (losing his credit card in the process, I actually cut him off), and I guess I have some contacts in Camden now.

Alright almost time to get the enfants. I'll think about adding to this later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

London Bound

Theorthetically going to London today.

I also think I booked a ticket to Germany for next weekend.

I have a ticket to Manchester the following weekend. Small problem, I'm expected to babysit. I need to tell them at some point that I will be going out of town. I will say again, I'm 23 years old. I am not a nanny. I am not here to fuck around all the time with kids. I will not miss 36 hours with EVERY single friend I have here (plus a soccer team), for 4 hours of babysitting, that doesn't even pay me, oh God, I'm nervous about this conversation. That seems reasonable, right?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How do you say Huckleberry in French?

1) I "started" running again. After realizing that Ive gained weight (not sure how, exactly) I ran Wednesday, Thursday and aujordhui. About thirty or so minutes the first two times and about forty today. I probably need another two weeks before I can say Im officially back into it, but it feels pretty good. I found a path back, well, I dont know where, but it reminds me of the Huckleberry in Blacksburg. Its goes back by a softball field, and back behind some legit farm fields. Its absoultely beautiful back there, there are all these fields of yellow flowers (Im not sure what they are, I asked Anotine and he said it was something to make oil out of?) Anyway its amazing, and one of these days I will go back there with my camera, on said day, (I will also actually upload pictures onto facebook...)

2) I was downstairs on Friday ironing, listening to Weezer, and I started dancing, and so did L! It was so cute! She started spinning in circles and moving around. I loved it.

3) Peters moving to Norway, on Monday, booo.

4) I was leaving Denis' this morning to try and meet up with the ladies in Monceau. I got a baguette, and headed towards the 12. In five minutes, I started sweating profusely and feeling extremely nauseated. I literally didnt think I was going to make it to the train. After throwing up in my mouth, I decided it would be better to get the train back to O-town. So I did, and called the family for a ride. I came back, ate lunch and took a two and a half hour nap. I think my body is just tired, I havent really caught up on sleep in a while.

5) Theorhetically, we are going to London on Tuesday. The problem with this situation, is that T and L are currently missing their identity cards. I dont know how they plan on getting the kids into England, but we'll see. I'll be kind of pissed if we dont make it, because I've already booked myself a hostel for three nights (I promised to babysit the last night).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Will it break even?

Bad things
1) Friday night, period.
2) Naturally, G's bike was stolen on my 'watch'. (Left it at the train station Saturday, came back for it on Monday, it was gone)
3) Its freaking cold here, again! I think it was under 10 degrees (celsius) today!
4) Its really hard to find a ticket to Freiburg, Germany, Im trying to see Kelly!!
5) I still havent booked my hostel stuff in London (Im going the weekend after next, the cheapest I can find are not so cheap and involve FIFTEEN PERSON DORM ROOMS)
6) I have to work Saturday
7) Im in the hole, deep

Not so bad things
1) Saturday's dance party
2) Ailie finally came back from Scotland
3) S and G were really nice about the bike incident
4) Im going to London!
5) Tatiana has the weekend off, and is making an attempt to come with me

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Worked weekends, and peanut butter stealing aside, my family redeemed themselves today.

Yesterday was Antoines birthday, and since I cant compete with Normandy, I settled for an outdoors picnic and cake.

I was nervous about asking to have dinner there, but S asked me if thats what I wanted, and everyone was so nice about it! I went to get Antoine from the train after 8, and the three oldest kids came along with me. We had aperatif (peanuts) on the porch followed by a trampoline lesson for the enfants. While I was gone, S put cherry blossoms, candles, and a table cloth on the table I had strategically placed in the side yard, out of view from the house. We had roasted red pepper, onion, and goat cheese pizza, bread, and tabuleh, and chocolate cake strawberries and champagne for dessert. There was a slight hiccup with the trains (that were, of course cancelled from Poissy to Mantes la Jolie) but I was able to drive Antoine to Poissy where he caught a train to Saint Lazare.

Nostalgia (Possibly number 2)

I cant believe Im about to type this, but I miss Yellowstone. I know, I know, I was stark raving mad to get the hell out of there, but now looking at everyone whos getting ready to go back, Im feeling a little nostalgic.

France is pretty amazing now, the sun is shining, the trees are green, everyone is happy. Its not even like Im stuck in a city (worse, the suburbs) but I miss the idea of going off into the woods for a few hours and seeing no one at all (except maybe some tiny squirrels, or elk, or bears). I cant decide what I need. In Wyoming, I would have killed for a city, here, I would kill for miles of nothing. I guess Washington is a good compromise for me. I still would have the chaos of Metropolitan DC, but only a short drive from the Shenandoah.

Its really hard to be here now that Summer is coming, I miss things like my backyard, country music, cheap beer, and Americans. Two days a week really is not sufficient at all.

The kids go back to school next week, and I guess I do too. I almost prefer to be at home all day because I can actually get things done. By the time I get back from SG usually, Im so hungry and lazy to do anything. But fortunately, London is coming soon (I need to book a place to stay) and after that, hopefully Kelly (if I can find a place to stay......)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

1) Im old now

2) I went to Normandy (Etretat) with Anotine yesterday. I suck, and I wouldnt go with him on his "surprise" trip for my birthday, and found out it would have been South of France....dont want to talk about it. Still, Etretat was really nice, I got to see the ocean, and we almost got to stay there. Unfortunately, we had to reservations, and it was a Saturday during vacations.

3) Vacations over, back to the grind (x 10, kids still on vacay) Im feeling a little depressed about it.

4) I woke up at Peters on Friday (not feeling pleasant) and went back to Chatelet to buy myself something for my birthday, which turned out to be this amazing dress (Im currently penniless) I went back to O-town, tried to nap, failed, then went back into Paris and ended up at Kates. People came over and we went out...Again, I suck, and it wasnt all that fun.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This weekend was AMAZING.

1) It was Ailies birthday celebration, so we went to a kareoke bar. I ordered shots of Scottish whiskey (Ailie being Scottish is my favorite topic of conversation). They were eleven euros. EACH. But whatever, she was the birthday girl, and I wanted them, haha.

2) Dennis and Jon both came out, after several texts/phone calls, and I left promptly at 1:30, because I was exhausted.


1) Woke up at Jons, hung around for a while, and went over to Peter's (Swedish). After creepily sitting at a cafe across the street, waiting for them to come back, I looked up to see sunshine, and Ailie and Callie waving at me.

2) I ate a baguette and brie, and was ready to start the day. Julie (Masshole) and Amanda (Canadian) wandered over with a mini keg of Heiniken, and then Disa and Tessa came around. A really sweet Danish (uhh, Denmark? right adjective?) and another Swede were there. Charlie (Canada) showed up with a Spaniard, and two Brits, we had Tatiana (Spain, too), and an Irish girl, Tory that Ailie picked up at TGC, last weekend. She brought a Mexican and another Irish guy.

3) Note that we were almost completely women, and it was really, well, fantastic.

We were very international.

4) Tatiana and I (again) picked up some guys and went along the Banana, the gay bar down the street, and drank vodka and watched men grind on eachother. The went to bed at 6 am, and woke up at 8.

1) Ailie came over and we made pizza, drove around looking for an open shop to buy dinner supplies, trampolined, and ended our evening watching Beauty and the Beast (again) and I was in bed by 10:30, it was fabulous.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I just literally messaged everyone I know that may or not be in England, most of whom, I havent talked to in years.

God bless facebook.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I learned yesterday why Mom's and other experience childcarers always seem to carry tissues. Its in case their children start bleeding.

Yup, one of mine bled yesterday. I picked up L from daycare, and went over to T's friends' house to retrieve him. On the way back, L was apparently leaning out of the stroller, and when we hit a bump,

BAM, faceplant.

I literally looked down to see her facedown on the cement sidewalk, little legs and arms spread. I screamed, T screamed, and L started shrieking hysterically. I grabbed her, and SPRINTED back to the daycare, and started speaking in broken French that she was injured. Anyway, she was okay, just a cut on her lip and chin, but overall okay. (The blood really scared T, so he started crying and told me later he was afraid that she was dead.....I dont even know how to respond to that one....)

Worst part, this made me late getting back to the house, so the oldest two left and went to the neighbors, blah blah blah, I looked completely inept/irresponsible.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aux Printemps

So granted, it was cold yesterday, and the day before, but Saturday was beautiful! Antoine and I went to Versailles and had a picnic. We kind of ran into some other Au Paris, Dawn, Kate, and Becca, to find that after 3 weeks, Dawn got "released" and is heading back to the United States.


I dont really have a ton of stuff to say right now, I just felt like I should update. I have next week off, and I might try and go to "Vichy" avec la family, but I'm having trouble finding a ticket. Also, the house is apparently in the middle of nowhere....But really, I have nothing to do next week, at all.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Quality of life has improved for the following reasons-

1) I bought (what I didnt realise at the time) jalapenos and fire roasted those suckers. I then wrapped them up in a chicken breast with some cheese to create (I think) a spin off of chiles rellenos. I will presumably eat it for lunch tomorrow, lets all cross our fingers together

2) The sun came back to France. It was about mid 60s today, and there are FLOWERS. Things are starting to get greener, and I like it.

3) I become a legal (at least recognized) resident tomorrow.

4) But, most importantly, I realized that I can BIKE to V Sur Seine in less than 10 minutes! I went to Paris last night to see Antoine. I knew I didnt have to be back until noon today, so I was brainstorming ideas, and it occured to me, why not just bike it? Its all downhill, so you can cruise pretty fast. I kind of had to take my life into my hands on the roundabout, but I survived. I had a pretty sweet head lamp, and a light for the back.

5) I'm listening to the beach boys.

6) I realize that I need to blog in itemized format, versus actual paragraphs.

7) Antoine brought back approximately 5 kilos of cheese from the mountains :D

What kind of sucks-

1) There was a freaking greve last night/today, so while I got to the train station at 9 something, the next train didnt come until 10:10!! Also, the next morning the train didnt come at 10:23 as the greve scheduled promised but 10:53.

2) These delays combined with the fact that Im out of shape, and the way back from Villenes is all uphill, and the nurse came earlier than expected, which made me late for my appointment today.

3) Ailie already bought a train ticket, and her ticket from Milan to Glasgow

4) I have to work Friday night

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This may come as a surprise to some, but the boob surgery saga has taken a turn for the worst. Mainly, I was supposed to go to Italy next weekend, as a birthday present to myself. I asked the nurse today, and she informed me that were waiting for my hole to close up, which will take AT LEAST A MONTH.

What does this mean? The ten or so days that Im supposed to have off, have to be spent in O-town, because I have to be here EVERY SINGLE DAY for bandage changing!

I'm so mad!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010


You know how I was supposed to have this whole weekend off? Well, things got complicated. Mainly because, on Thursday, I had surgery on my right breast. As some may recall, I went to the doctor last week because of breast pain, several days and prescriptions later, it turned out I had an abcess that needed to be taken care of.

I went in on Thursday around 10 am, and was in surgery by 3 or 4. I had to get general anesthesia, which is more complicated than local. It was exactly like in the movies, I was hooked up to an IV, looking at the nurse, than she put the mask on, and I blacked out promptly. I woke up a few hours later in the recovery room feeling groggy and in a lot of breast pain. Its strange because as I think back on it, I get uncomfortable. It was really unpleasant and painful. I couldnt think and I couldnt sleep because of the pain.

I should point out that Ive never been under the knife before. Ive had minor procedures, but never anything involving being CUT open, let alone in a different country. I will go ahead and say this though-everyone was so kind (except the anesthesiologist). I was so grateful to have people willing to speak to my in English. This could have been a really awful situation, but it wasnt, because the nurses in doctors spoke English well enough to communicate what would happen and they understood my questions.

I must comment though, in the examining room, the (really cute possibly North African) attending doctor told me to "Show him my titties," which was kind of uncomfortable, but funny I guess.

But, S, A, and F came to visit me, bringing a ton of chocolate, and flowers, it was really sweet. Antoine came to visit to. He didnt get there until after 8, and I asked the nurses when visiting hours were, but they told me they would make an exception, and he got to stay until almost 10. He told me when he came up he asked where my room was, and I was someone who had just gotten breast surgery, as soon as he said breasts, they apparently told him what room I was in and that I was waiting for him...

Anyway, now I have to have a nurse come to the house, which sucks because it requires me to be here in the mornings. Shes going to come and change my bandages and deal with all that stuff.

I stayed at Antoines last night, we didnt really do much, we were both really tired. He went to Geneva, so I wanted to see him before he left. Anyway, his train left at 9, so I got back to the house at like 930, and came upstairs because I accidentally set off the alarm. T was already eating breakfast. He gave me the five year old once over and said "You were where?" Guess I looked like I had a rough night....

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Funny and/or interesting things that have happened this/last week:

1) L has the varicelle, aka chicken pox. On Wednesday, I was asked to give her a "shower" instead of a bath. So our bathtub has a detachable shower head, I undressed her and turned on the shower head. I turned around to get something off the counter. In those couple minutes, the shower head flipped itself over (or Lflipped it) and I turn around to water spraying directly in my face. It also sprayed L, who is afraid of the shower head. So afraid, in fact, she peed herself, without a diaper. T thought this was absoultely hilarious and started chanting "Haha! You're wet! Haha! You're wet!" I made him go to his room.

2) I spent most of yesterday with Antoine. He made me Syrian spinach (His Dad is Syrian), which was spinach a la branche with garlic, steak hachee, and lemon juice. It was really good. Spinach is one of my favorite foods, and I almost never eat it here.

3) I went to the doctor on Thursday. The whole process took only an hour, and cost me only 50 euros, some of which I will get back because I think I have social security. Score.

4) The clocks changed last night.

5) I finally have a full weekend off, for Easter. Its also F's first communion, and I hope to make Challah bread. If they get sketched out by the fact that its Jewish, I'll call it braided brioche...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oral Fixation

Yesterday, L, who barely can communicate, walked over to the drawer with her bib, pulled it out, and walked over to her high chair and tried to get in it, all before I even started cooking. Before this, she also tried to eat dishwasher detergent. In the past, she has eaten dirt, and eats everything that looks remotely like food on the ground.

I will say though, her obsession with eating is really adorable, it gets annoying, like say, when I'm cutting raw potatoes that she definitely cant eat, and she keeps screaming until I feed her...but usually, pretty cute.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I skipped class and took a nap. Oops.

I also made myself some tortillas, with those I made French fajitas. French because my salsa disappeared so I had to improvise with cream fraische (f you spelling) and what I assume is cheese mixed with red peppers, then chicken and shallots, because there were only two onions left. But the tortillas were subliiiiiimmmmee, or at least acceptable. I think maybe they came out better last time, but it could have been the salsa.

At some point I plan to go upstairs and clean the kids rooms, but Im feeling pretty lazy.

Oh, I cut my hair on Wednesday, by myself. I trimmed up my bangs and snipped some off the end, so its a little more even. No one noticed, so I think thats a good thing.

Only like a month until my next triiipppp!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Passive Agressive

Soooo, I'm in a difficult position. Thus far, I have had to work at least one night every weekend (including the Sunday when USA played Canada, the final one). Yesterday, I was told that I would have this weekend off-fantastic.

Tonight, I was asked if I have plans on Saturday. Okay. No, I don't have plans, but what je voudrais, is to have TWO full nights and TWO full days completely free to do, well, whatever I want. I know there's a contract out there that I signed agreeing to this, but I really don't think its fair to not let me have a single FULL weekend free. On top of this, several friends might be in town, and its one of the Au Pair's last weekends. Literally, every other au pair girl can do whatever whenever.

I'm really not sure what to do, but I feel like after a little bit of time this is really going to piss me off.

The worst part? I genuinely like these people, and I think they feel bad asking me to do this stuff, but it would be nice if I could at least get PAID extra to stay in on the weekends. In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm starting to feel more pissed off, and more panicky. I already work Thursday night (but really, I dont care, I'd be home anyway.) Tonight, I was cleaning up the kitchen, and they were asking me about what night I had plans, and I know S could tell I was unhappy, because I spent about 10 minutes cleaning out the drain (which really, had been bothering me for a few days) but she commented that I was really taking time to clean it...

I just dont know what to do.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cou cou! (Currently my favorite word in French). So Happy Ides of March! (see-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare). I mentioned it at the breakfast table, and no one knew what I was talking about, so whatever.

So the trains werent running yesterday. I was already in Paris, but Ailie walked about 8 kilometres to Poissy to find that THERE WERE NO TRAINS. This sucked for me, because the car that I was driving was at the Villenes sur Seine train station, past Poissy.

According to the French, there was an "aggression," or mugging, involving several youths and a train worker. I guess he asked for their tickets and they jumped him. Im not entirely sure why this shut down the entire train system 15 miles outside of Paris, but it did. Anyway, Ghad to pick up Ailie and I from the RER in Saint Germain en Laye, which Im sure, was a huge inconvenience.

Saint Patricks Day is on Wednesday, and Im trying to make something festive for the children. Right now, its looking like Sugar cookies and green sprinkles.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I pulled a muscle. Actually, several muscles. My entire right shoulder/spine is really sore. How did that happen? Probably had something to do with lugging 13 + kg (30 lbs) of baby up and down the stairs everyday. I've been trying to get the kids to walk on my back, but they dont like it as much as I thought they would. When I asked T, he responded with "No! I dont like!" Just like when I ask him to get in the bath he says, "No! I dont want!" In fact, his favorite English word seems to be "No."

I'm going to try to go shopping today.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Its Friday, and I babysit tonight, and tomorrow night. Im missing out on a kick ass night in Paris Im sure, but theres not much I can do.

A second ago, as I was doing some good old fashioned American FB stalking, I had a thought go through my head.

What the hell am I doing?

Its easy for me, sometimes, to forget about other places/friends/lives that Ive had. Instead, I create my own little world, and I find it very difficult to remember details from the other ones. For example, Ive only been in France for about 6 weeks? Yet I can hardly remember what I was doing right before I came out here. It feels like the United States is another lifetime away...On that note, I have no idea what things will be like when I go back to the United States. Im wondering how my life would be if I had stayed there.

But really, what am I doing in France?

I dont speak the language, I know very little about the culture, yet here I am; a French resident, a LEGAL French resident. Im trying to get my OWN cell phone contract, in my name! I dont even have that in the United States! Ive been on dates with French boys, and I can easily navigate French public transit, hell, I even drive on French roads!

I think Im beginning to forget who I am.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Also, I popped a blood vessel in my eye. I think it looks bad ass.