Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Not a normal job... can't call in sick!

So, this week I have been a bit under the weather. I can't really explain it but I have got really horrible stomach pains, feel like I'm going to be sick all the time - but I haven't been - a stinking headache, and no energy. This got worse last night and I went to bed super early and watched Nanny McPhee! It is actually brilliant! I wish I had magic powers sometimes!! Anyway, this morning when I woke up, I felt awful. And its Wednesday. The horror. I have such a bad head and SO little energy! But what can you do? No-one else is going to look after the children. Thankfully, F took pity on me and took Toby to creche...and Alice's flute lesson isn't till 4.30pm so we have the whole day at home. It is a bit of a rainy day too, so I feel no obligation to encourage outdoor activities. However, I still feel awful that the kids are just sat in front of kid's TV. However, this is a rarity, and under the circumstances, one of my only options right now as they don't seem to understand that when an adult is unwell, they don't want to start painting the cellar, or doing crazy games. Oh dear... Anyway, their Mum is back from her business trip late this afternoon, so I am very much looking forward to that...and tonight when I can sleep!!

Sorry, moan over.

Onto some more happy things:

Yesterday Alice took part in this big inter-school races thing all round the park. I went down and watched. She was running in a race with about 200 other girls her age, and she came in 11th! As she crossed the finish line, I actually had a tear, I was so proud of her!!

Parc Brasserie 
Getting ready for the race...

On Monday, the clock change thing was a struggle, as it felt like we were getting up at 5:45am - I'm sure a lot of you non-students felt this pain! However, for us, it mean that the children didn't get up ridiculously early, and this has continued throughout the week! :)
However, I started to feel pretty ill half way through my French class, and excused myself to go home for a sleep. This didn't make me feel any better. Picking up the kids went ok later that day, as this seems to come in waves of feeling sick, but the energy levels were not good. You need a lot of energy getting those kids home, I can tell you. Stanley has also been having quite a few tantrums lately. Not fun.
I still wanted to go to choir in the evening as it always makes me feel better and it's always great to see people, so I ate some dry bread and went to meet Betsy for the bus. We had missed the earlier one, so waited for the one that gets us to choir just a little bit late. However, it drove straight past us! These bus drivers can be slightly crazy!
So, we decided it being a beautiful evening that we should go have a drink and a chat somewhere and skip choir as the next bus would've got us there really late. It was so lovely to be walking out in the light and it was a beautiful evening. We met two of Betsy's course-mates as we were walking, and we stood around chatting in French for quite a while (although none of us actually are French!) It is quite amusing speaking to South American's in French as they have such a strong accent!
Anyway, we had a really lovely evening chatting and getting to know each other more. Betsy is such an awesome girl and I want you all to meet her! She is the most amazing friend and we feel so blessed to have been placed in each other's lives in this place.

The last two-and-a-bit months have been so life-changing for me, and I know there is so much more to come. things have been tough sometimes, especially like now, being poorly and not being able to do anything about it. But it has also been so blessed and I have had some amazing times and met some amazing people. I think when things are harder, you really learn to appreciate the good things in life and the amazing things that can come out of hard situations. I was meant to be having a visitor this weekend, but that fell through. Although it makes me sad, I know that it means that I can spend more time with people here, and that going home in 3-and-a-bit weeks will be all the more special for it!

Anyway... please forgive the rather disjointed blog! I have heard that lots of people are reading this, which makes me really happy! I hope that you are all well :)

lots of love xxx

My favourite flowers in a little garden I found in the park...

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Un nouveau boulot!

So, I'm sitting here and it's 8pm and it's still light - this makes me happy :)
This weekend has been pretty nice and relaxing. Yesterday, was a normal lazy Saturday. It was raining all morning, but late on in the afternoon I headed into town and met Betsy at one of the Irish pubs, where we discovered an amazing drink... biere with grenadine and lemonade. It is so nice! We had a couple of those, and then went for a walk around the park. It had got really still and warm and there were so many birds singing. It was just beautiful to be out and not be cold. the simple things.
I had to babysit last night, which was a bit boring, but fine, though I was sad not to go out with the church youth. Oh well, it was a good chance to read and relax, and the children were really good and went to bed really nicely :)

Today was also a nice day. I woke up feeling pretty disorientated about the clock phone had re-set itself in the night, and I had reset it before I went to sleep, so it ended up being two hours ahead and my alarm woke me up far too early! Anyway, made it to church on time, and even had time for a pain au raisin with Betsy before we went in!

This afternoon, I went over to the house of a child in Stanley's class. I can't remember whether I have mentioned this, but his parents had asked me if I could help 3 of their SEVEN children with their English!
It was great! The children aged 16, 12 and 11, were all very good at English, and we ended up having conversations for over 2 hours! They are a really nice family, and live in this amazingly huge rambley house really near to me! They want me to come over sometime every week and are going to pay me 10 Euros and hour, so that's a bit of a bonus! It is also a really great opportunity for me to chat to the parents in French! All in all, a great opportunity!
Right after, I went to meet Betsy and her course-mate, Laura (from Finland) for a drink at one of our favourite bars. We sat outside under the blossoming tress and another of the new favourite beverage was consumed! We ended up having this amazing conversation about culture and world issues for ages which was so awesome. Then I walked home in the light!

I hoep everyone has had a good weekend.
Grosses bisses to all :) xxxx

Friday, 25 March 2011

Miss you...

This is just a little dedication to some of the amazing people back home who have made me smile this week...

I don't think I could love this man any more if I tried right now! Thank you so much for your completely un-expected phone call tonight. You are such an amazing friend and I miss you so much! xxx

Best sister ever! Love our random facebook chats. You're amazing and I love you very much. xxx

My lovely mother, thankyou for your sweet card and skype chats! You are amazing and supportive and I love you so much xxx

You are such a lovely friend! Your letter made me so happy. I miss you, be happy. Love you xxx

Thankyou for all your support and for always being there for me. Love our phone chats. I love you xxx

Thank you for your support and for your email today. I miss you. Love you always xxx

Total beaut! Love skyping you and thanks for your letters! :) Miss you very much Trowbo chum xxx

 Wonderful grandparents! Thank you for your lovely letter which came today! Love you xxx

I hope you all have a really lovely weekend.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Today was super warm so I went to the park and started reading 'The Catcher in the Rye' ...I've heard it's a classic!

I felt really alive aware of everything. This seems to come to me only when I'm completely content in my own company, something I'm learning to be :)
I was also pretty happy after a phone call with one of my favourite people!

It's the children's mum's Birthday today. We made her a cake with strawberries on and they're going out to dinner tonight, so I'm having Betsy over for dinner!

Nothing much interesting to report, just that I'm so glad that winter has gone :)


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Out of the mouths of babes...

I have already told a few people about this, but this is so sweet:
On Monday, I was giving the children their tea as usual. Stanley had eaten lots and lots (I had made quiche - his favourite!) I was asking him how full up he was, and if he had any room for desert. When we were kids, Arthur and I used to say that we were full right up to our chests - with just a tiny bit more room for desert! I sad to Stanley, 'are you full up all the way to here?' pointing to the top of my chest. And he replied, 'If I was full up all the way to here' (pointing at his heart) 'then Jesus wouldn't be able to see!' I was slightly confused and asked why, then he said: 'Because Jesus lives in here' (pointing at his heart again.) It was just the sweetest thing ever!!

Also yesterday, I was picked a huge bunch of dandelions on the way home from school with the instructions that they were just for me, no-one else! Stanley can be such a sweetie sometimes!

So I'm sat here, and it's already Wednesday, again! These weeks go fast. Wednesdays are getting more and more relaxed as I realise that the children love to amuse themselves for the most part, and I only need to get them moving to go the Conservatiore for Alice's flute lesson and to take Stanley to the children's library.

Last night was the English Bible study which involved running like loonies for trams, lots of Krista's good food, great fellowship and another very good Bible study.
Big thanks to the lovely Krista and Jonathan yet again!

...and one more bit of news: I have been invited to go skiing with the amazing Nicki in 3 weeks time - super bonus! I'm very excited! :D

I hope everyone is having a good week. Missing some of you very very much... xxx

Monday, 21 March 2011

Spring is here!!

...and I mean, properly here! There are flowers everywhere and the trees are all coming into blossom!
Yesterday, I thought I was going to be meeting up with a French friend, Jessica, in the evening. She had said that she would ring me on Saturday to sort it out, but having not heard from her by the afternoon of the following day, I text her. Getting no reply, I decided to go out for a walk as I was getting a bit bored inside. I walked quite a long way to this other park which is a bit wilder than the one in the city centre. Lots of room for ball games and cycling, and it was teeming with people on their Sunday afternoon strolls. It was really beautiful and I enjoyed just wandering and breathing the relatively fresh air.
Having still heard nothing from Jessica, I decided to see what films were on at the cinema, as France is having a 3-day promotion - 3.50 Euro for any film at any time: less than half the normal price! Having heard a lot about 'Black Swan,' I decided to see that.

I kinda wished I hadn't though. It was really creepy in a psychological way, and being by myself in the cinema wasn't so good! Also, the film had hardly started when Jessica started calling me. Oooops! I text her to say that having thought she must be busy, I decided to go to the cinema. Was a bit of an annoying mix-up! Hopefully we can sort something else out this week!
Anyway, after the film finished, we had to leave the cinema via a pretty creepy exit down some stairs, and I walked home as fast as I could feeling pretty freaked out! I am such a wimp!

Anyway, no nightmares, and this week has started pretty well. The children were really happy this morning, singing and dancing at 7:30am, and we had a really nice walk to school. My French class went pretty well: we did some 'controles' - class tests this morning, and I found them quite easy!

I think I'm going to try out the local swimming pool this afternoon, and we have gospel choir tonight. Betsy is back from her week of travelling in Europe and I can't wait to hear all about it!

Grosses Bisses a tous!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

being positive :)

On Friday night, I suffered a bit of a disappointment. Something I was very happy about and something I was so looking forward to has taken a bit of a knock, and as a result, I felt pretty sad and couldn’t sleep a lot that night.
But I decided to try my best not to dwell on something that may only be righted with time and prayer. God has great plans, and how little we know of what He will do. Plus, there are so many more devastating things happening to people all the time, and I know I need to get some perspective…and man up!

I basically had a bit of a lazy day. I spent the morning writing letters and emails and catching up with friends and family. In the afternoon, I was very tired, and it being a bit of a murky day, I decided to go to bed and watch films.
I found a copy of ‘Into the Wild’ and having never watched it all the way through, and hearing good things about it, I decided to go for that. However, I fell asleep half way through, so I still have yet to see the whole thing!
What I did see of it, however, I really loved. I love the idea of just getting rid of material possessions and enjoying the blessings that God gives you along the way…and surviving on so little. I know I could not ever do it, but it was an inspiring story, even though the ending was a little sad, it was also uplifting. If you haven’t seen it – do!

I then watched a French film lent to me from Maria ‘Le Petit Nicholas’, acclaimed film about a little boy, his school, family and friends. It was a nostalgic look at a time that has passed and the innocence of children. Not really a children’s film at all, and very touching and funny!

By the time I’d finished watching the films, the family had got back from their afternoon out, so I helped feed the kids and make a Spanish Tortilla for our dinner after they had gone to bed: it was pretty delicious and washed down with a nice glass of red. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before, but they have a full-on wine cellar in the basement!! It’s pretty cool. They always drink good wine – nothing like the stuff I can afford…bit of a perk!

Afterwards, I headed over to Ian’s house – about a 5 minute walk – to join some of the young people from church for games! It was really nice, just 7 of us playing silly games and having a laugh! The three French people left around 11, but Lauren and I ended up staying with Ian and Maria until gone 1am playing games and talking. I don’t know how the time went so fast, but it was a good evening! The walk home was also amazing, there was a full moon and it was so bright. It felt amazing to feel all alone and I was really aware of God’s love.

Again, it was difficult to sleep last night as the people in the apartment below were having a bit of a loud party. To be fair though, they do have to deal with very noisy children above them very early in the morning, so you can hardly blame them!
Church this morning was nice. Really good songs today! …but I didn’t really understand the preach although I managed to find the verses in my bible.
It’s really sunny this afternoon, but after lunch, all I feel like doing is having a nap…again!

I hope everyone is having a restful weekend, and that your week starts well :)

Lucy xxx

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Just another Saturday...

...where I tell myself I'm going to get up early, get a train somewhere and go exploring, but then I end up sleeping in, chatting on facebook, then eating a huge lunch before contemplating an afternoon nap. Ah well, there's always next weekend!

Bon weekend a tous!

Thursday, 17 March 2011


So right after I wrote my blog today, I decided to get going making the children's dinner before I went out. I thought I would make some nice pork chops (which they love) with honey and mustard. I put it all in the oven, then went off to do some random jobs and have a chat on the phone with William. Anyway, I wondered back into the kitchen sometime later to a horrible smell...and the horrible feeling that I'd forgotten the chops. They were burnt to a crisp. I was so annoyed, especially as I had arranged to meet Krista in town at two, and it was already 1:45. Man ALIVE! I put the chops on a plate, hoping I could salvage something but knowing I could do something with the leftovers in the fridge, and ran to meet Krista. I wasn't too late, and we had a nice mooch around the shops with Noelle, and chatted about bringing up children. It was great to chat to her as it has been a really difficult week and I love the kids so I worry about them when they behave badly and little one has been so bad, crying and hitting me lots. It's horrible. It's so good to chat to another mum.
When I got back with the kids (they were really good coming home tonight), their mum was home, she had seen the chops and seemed a bit narky with me. Obviously I felt bad because of the waste of food and stuff, and I apologised and it was ok, but it's hard, cos she's been away a bit this week and she doens't really know what's been happening, and little one was crying and screaming and hitting again (this time to his mum). It's pretty hard. But everything's ok now, there are so many good things to be thankful for. When I see the pictures of Japan and realise how easily people can loose everything, I just thank God that He is good, and I realise how much I have. Flowers are coming out all over Nancy, and it's getting WARM.
PLUS: it's nearly the weekend.

A beautiful picture to leave you with... Goodnight x

St Patrick's Day

Ok, so I don't usually go in for St Patrick's day, but today, I decided to eat early with some of the assistants at the school after I had done my little English classes with the children (singing lots of songs and telling English stories, essentially!) The canteen was having a St Patrick's day theme with beef stew, mushy peas, green jelly etc! ...they also gave us some Guinness to drink! It was pretty fun, and nice to chat to some of the staff too!

This week has been tough, as every morning, I have been left to get the kids washed and brushed and out of the door. Toby has been very difficult, (but thankfully Alice has been great!) so it was really nice today to have some adult company and have a laugh. My French is really coming on, I can have a conversation now without constantly translating in my head, and I feel a lot more confidant.

Today, I might go for an explore and take the tram to the end of the line... might as well do something with a free afternoon!!

Much love xxx

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Colonie weekend

If I've found out one thing since being in France, it's that the French know how to eat! ...and I have more than happily entered into the spirit of it! 
On Saturday lunchtime, before heading off to Colonie, I was sent off to the boulangerie to get some cakes for our desert. 
I came back with these...

Needless to say, they were delicious! 

After yet another fantastic Saturday lunch, we all set off in the car towards the Vosges. (Hilly/mountainous region to the South East of Nancy.) And everyone fell asleep - peace!
We arrived there to this big house set in farmland and next to woods. The countryside was so beautiful, and after seven weeks in the city, I just stood and breathed in the fresh air and smell of the grass and trees and felt so happy. 

There were about 10 other families at the weekend - around 50 people in total. When everyone arrived, we had a 'gouter' - lots of cake - and the leaders got us to all introduce ourselves. There was a slightly awkward, but hilarious moment when one man looked a bit confused as to why F had two women with him, but we quickly established that S was his wifre and I was the 'fille au pair'! One of the leader guys, Laurent, got out his guitar and started teaching us some songs - very camp-esque! 
We then played this crazy game in family teams. It was a bit like monopoly but we had to claim rooms in the house and get money that way! it was good to find our way around the house and to meet the other people, and we actually won! 
Afterwards, we all found our little dorm rooms and I was sharing with Alice. Then there were arty activities and helping to prepare for dinner. We all sat down on a long table to eat - very French - and sung grace. It was about 8pm by the time we started eating and the children were almost falling asleep in their plates! It was lovely to be there with the family, though. It made me feel more a part of it, and it was just great to spend some quality time with the five of them in such a relaxed, community atmosphere.

For dinner, we had: (for those who care to know!)
Celery soup with fresh bread. Loads of homemade pizza, quiche and this amzing pizza bread from Alsace with onions, lardons and creme fraiche with a great salad all finished off - thankfully - with a fruit salad.
Afterwards, S took the boys to bed, and I stayed with Alice and F for the evening 'activities'...
...which turned out to be hilarious! We all sat on chairs in a big circle and some of the leaders taught us songs, dances and games. Difficult to describe what was going on as it was all in French, but it was great fun with lots of laughs! Helped me to put my french to the test too, and I learned lots of new words, including the names of the suits in a pack of cards!
Later, a time of prayer was introduced. It was rather Catholic (I refuse to pray to 'Santa Maria'), but they also pray to Jesus, and it was nice to see Alice joining in and listening. She really has grown up the last couple of weeks, and especially over this weekend. She has been so helpful at ho Careme me, with Toby, and has been really very considerate. A lady came round and told all the children about 'Careme' - Lent, on Monday at school, and Alice has decided to be kinder to her brothers, and help with clearing the table. Even 4-year-old Stanley has decided that for lent he would like to be kinder and share more. This has opened up some good discussions in the family. F and I want to pray and read the bible more and S is giving up coffee and chocolate. 
Anyway, after the prayer time, it was nearly 11, so I took Alice to bed, as I was also tired, while others stayed for dancing.

In the morning, there was an informal breakfast which included lots of cake! We got to talk to more people, and the children played together. After 2 weeks of sunshine, it was raining, but S, Alice and I donned our walking boots and waterproof coats and joined some of the others for a walk in the woods. It was quite warm despite the rain, which eased off, and it was a great time to talk and enjoy the countryside.

Vosges country...

Les randonneurs!
When we got back, there was the morning service, which was, again, fairly Catholic, but some good songs and  I even understood the sermon! I think the children enjoyed it too!
Afterwards we had an 'apero' (drinks and nibbles in our family!) where we had a kir, and the children had coca cola. I chatted to lots of people, and some were very eager to practice their English, but it was great for me to speak French!

Lunch was something else...

We again sat on a big long table, but this went on for over 3 hours! It was amazing, so relaxed, lots of chatting between each course, and songs and everything!
I felt like I had never eaten so much, but spread over such a long time, it felt ok! The children all went off to play and the adults could linger over the courses!
We had a starter, main, then cheese, desert, ice cream, coffee and cake! It was crazy! ...but one of the reasons I love France!
When this was over, it was pretty much time to go home...! Took so long to say goodbye to everyone as the French love to kiss everyone individually!
All in all, a great weekend!

Back to school this week, and I must say I'm glad... it's good to get back into the swing of things!

Friday, 11 March 2011

The end of a long week!

I just wanted to say that I had the nicest day today...and I WAS WORKING! (This shocks me!) I am so tired after looking after the children a lot this week, but I feel like I am starting to enjoy it so much more, and really loving spending time with the children now I am feeling more relaxed. I had Alice and Stanley all afternoon. We had a very civilised lunch together (complete rarity - they are usually trying to get up and run around), we sat together and watched an episode of David Attenborough's 'Blue Planet' (I forgot how amazing it was), and it completely chilled them out, they LOVED it!! Afterwards I played with Stanley in his room, then we decided to make cakes which turned out to be delicious and then the children took it upon themselves to do all the tidying up and washing up and they actually did it so well that I didn't have to do it again afterwards! It was so cute!!
We went to the park before getting Toby from creche and we played silly games and had lots of fun. When we got back, their parents were home and we all had a really lovely dinner together. Alice has a friend staying tonight, and everyone seems happy. Good times :)
I am far too tired to go out tonight, but Betsy is coming round for a film and I bought a bottle of wine!
My 7th week is nearly over already... I can't quite believe it.

Praying for the people of Japan. Another disaster hits our planet, and it hits home how relevant the conversation I had with Alice yesterday was. I was talking to her about just how fortunate she is to have everything she has (as there are so many children with nothing) I know this is so cliched, but it's so important that children appreciate what they have. She was incredibly sensitive to the topic and knows all about giving to people who are less fortunate. I was touched.

Bon week-end tout le monde!



Peacocks a la parc!
This year I feel like I am missing out on Spring coming to life as I live in such an urban area. I miss home and the countryside and seeing all the flowers coming out and the blossom on the trees. However, yesterday, Betsy and I took the children to the park, and at the park they have a little zoo, and there was a lamb!! In the middle of a city-centre park, a little lamb had been born. Flowers are also springing up all over the park, and it reminded me that Spring still happens in the city!


The children have been so great the last couple of days that I let them have a little treat...
Barbe a Papa - or Candyfloss!

 Wednesday and Thursday with the children went a lot better than expected and I have enjoyed spending some proper time with them, as opposed to trying to get them ready for school/bed etc. They are at the activity centre again this morning, but I am picking them up to bring them home for lunch. It's very nice to have a couple of hours to myself this morning. I am super-tired! 
It was great to get out of the house yesterday and spend some time with Betsy at the park. She is still on holiday from uni and is going travelling a bit round Europe on the train next week with some friends from America. I am rather envious! Being here in Nancy, I am not only experiencing French culture, but American too. We have discovered that, although we speak the same language there are a lot of cultural differences and I am looking forward to visiting Betsy in Wisconsin at some point!
One example: American people find it hilarious when you say 'loo' instead of 'bathroom'. When I first said it, they didn't know what I was talking about!

Anyway, I don't have much else to say this morning, not a lot has happened. I am looking forward to going to 'Colonie' with the family this weekend, I will let you know how it goes!Love to you all xxx

Dressing up for Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

vacances scolaires

Betsy and I at the Musee des Beaux Arts...

After not getting to bed until gone midnight last night (so late for me these days), I was filled with something like dread when I heard the children up and running around at 7am this morning, more so since I have them all day today. I dragged myself out of bed, because when their mum is away with work, I have to help more in the morning. They were all in crazy hyper moods - the moods where it is impossible to get them to do anything. Their Dad left, leaving me to try to get the children to clean their teeth and get Toby to creche. But God answers prayers. They all got their teeth cleaned and were out the door with minimal fuss. Another beautiful day, and Alice and Stanley took their trottinettes (scooters) to the creche - which made life a lot easier as they get moving a lot quicker! They were so sweet when we got there, even putting Toby's pushchair away while I got him sorted. We've been back at the apartment for an hour now, and they have been contentedly playing in their cellar playroom the entire time. I just LOVE it when they play well together (they often fight) Harmony has been restored. I'm hoping the day goes well as I have them all day tomorrow as well. I shall be very tired by tomorrow night!

Alice and Stanley have spent the last two days at a 'centre des loisirs' (activity centre) which has given me some nice time to myself. It has been so sunny and I have spent time reading in the sunshine and relaxing a bit.

Chilling on the Place Stan...

However, when I picked them up on Monday evening, we had a bit of a faff! They had lots of drawings and little things that they had made. We put them all in the basket thing under the pushchair, but when we were crossing a busy road, a gust of wind blew them out all over the road. The children were wailing, and it took all of my composure to get them over the road and wait while I tried to retrieve all of the missing articles! Luckily people in cars were kind, but I felt like a prize plonker... the things you do for kids!!

On Monday, it was Gospel Choir again, which was awesome as usual, and last night we had the English Bible study at Jonathan and Krista's, complete with an authentic Thai meal, cooked for us by Owen (a Thai guy!) It was a really great evening of prayer, fellowship and studying God's word. It is so amazing to have this group and I feel so blessed by it.
However, I was in a bit of pain, as beforehand, it being Mardi Gras, I had done crepes for the children. We have this whizzy crepe machine which does 7 mini crepes at a time. It does get pretty hot though, and I was scared the children were going to touch it themselves. Fortunately, they were sensible enough to stay away and it was me who caught my hand and burned it. It's blistered up pretty bed and really hurt at the time. Unfortunately, it was right when I was trying to get the children to get ready for bed, so I had to suck it up and deal with the pain rather than leave my hand under cold water ...ouch!! Anyway, the crepes went down a treat. I'm now sat here thinking of what to give up for Lent. It's super difficult living in France because I can't really choose from all the things I love. I think I am going to take up something good instead...make sure I read my bible and pray for people every day as this is something that can be pushed to one side if I'm busy.

THAT crepe machine!

What are other people doing for lent?

In other news, I have found a new favourite cafe in the old town, and even struck up a rapport with the owner! He thought it was hilarious that I should be writing letters to my friends when I had a mobile phone. I explained that I enjoyed writing and it was much more personal than instant messaging. He then asked me to write something for him...which I did, in English! Ha, I think I'll go back. I love little local cafes and it is so cosy and serves a good 'grand cafe'.

So, Wednesday continues, the children are still playing nicely together, but I expect I shall have to see what mess they have cased downstairs as they just came up to tell me of all the great things they found down there - which definitely means that they've been rooting around!

I hope everyone is having a really good week :)

Much love xxx

A typical French woman CARRYING her dog!! haha

Monday, 7 March 2011

Monday morning

Monday mornings are so tough... getting up at 6:50am again is a shock after a lazy weekend! But this morning was great! It's so sunny here and the children were absolutely lovely! Last night we all sat and watched 'the Secret Garden' before bed. It was one of my favourite films from childhood, and the kids love it too! They were being so cute asking lots of questions and really getting in to it!
Then this morning, when they're parents left, they did everything I asked, got themselves ready, cleaned teeth and out the door with practically no input from me! It was amazing! After dropping of little'un at the creche, we had a lovely walk through the old town to the activity centre where Alice and Stanley are spending today. They both held my hand and we had a really nice chat with no fighting (which is normal) and no complaining about going to the centre (which, apparently is also normal). It was so lovely, and I even felt a bit sad saying goodbye to them. I love them more every day, I really do. I am actually starting to really enjoy my job! Thank you God.
So today, I am basically free, and it's sunny, and I have just started reading a really good book - 'The Help.' I also just found an old Gabrielle CD... I have it on, loud. I forgot how much I loved her music - massive guilty pleasure!

So a great weekend, and a great start to the new week! :)

Love and sunshine to you all. Bisous xxxx

Sunday, 6 March 2011



Yesterday, Betsy and I decided to go to the cinema. I had seen that 'Never Let Me Go' was coming out in France this week, and as a lover of British films, and a fan of Keira Knightly and Carey Mulligan, I was keen to see it. We sussed out a cinema in Nancy that was showing it with subtitles (as opposed to being dubbed - totally ruins the experience!) which was a little independent cinema down a side street. 
We bought our tickets at a little booth outside (anyone remember the ABC cinema in Bath?) and went in through an outside door. It was total silence inside, then suddenly the film started, just like that without any previews or adverts. The cinema seemed to be full of serious cinema-go-ers and it also seemed that eating in the cinema was frowned upon. We wanted to share our bumper bag of M&Ms, but this became a little difficult, as the man in front was intent on turning round and glaring at us at the slightest noise. Very funny, but nothing like the popcorn-munching cinema times I'm used to at home!

Anyway, having not looked at what the film was about, we were surprised to find that it was not an old-fashioned English love story, as it seemed to be, set in an idyllic boarding school from the outset, but a dystopian drama about children brought into the world to be used to donate organs and help to cure previously incurable diseases. Each character was destined to 'complete' (die) after their second or third organ donation which began sometime after leaving the school aged 18. I have to admit, it made me feel a bit sick as it is not a completely unrealistic possibility and the film ended with no sense of hope for the future. However, it was very well acted and really made me more aware of how close to the line science is becoming, although I really know nothing about it.

The evening then took a more cheerful note as we headed over to a girl from the church (Jeany)'s house for an evening with the young people. It was a really great evening and we were half English-speakers and half French which made it quite amusing. We chatted, ate crepes from a table-top mini crepe maker and drunk French 'Cidre.' (It's different from West Country Cider, but very nice!) All in all, a really nice evening, getting to know more of the 20-somethings from the church.

Betsy, Ian, Maria, Lauren, Francis, Jeany, Franck, Cecile

It's really sunny here this weekend, but not at all warm although some crazy Brits (Ian - who turned up to church showing his legs this morning) think it's shorts weather!
After another wonderful lunch, finished off with lots of fantastic cheese, I'm off to catch some art at the Musee des Beaux Arts this afternoon as the first Sunday of every month is free museum entry in France!

Saturday, 5 March 2011


Me and Toby a la parc!

The peace has been shattered: the children are home! I must say I’ve missed them and it’s nice to hear their voices in the house again. I stepped back and stayed in my room during the hugs and the reunions with their parents. Although I am supposed to be part of the family, sometimes it feels like I should just tactfully keep out of the way so that they can have their family time.
However, we just had a really great family weekend lunch. I really look forward to these Saturday and Sunday lunches: really good food, and the chance to all eat together as a family. They have also just invited me to what sounds like a Christian family weekend away in an old chateau in the Vosges countryside (a nearby region which is supposed to be really beautiful). I would actually love to go and spend some time with them as a family and experience a French Christian weekend away! I have also been really missing the countryside as living in a city all the time can be pretty suffocating for me who is so used to the country back home. This morning, though, mum showed me the garden back home on skype, and I even got to see my lovely dog, Bramble. The technology really is amazing: 10 years ago, we would never have had this sort of contact, and it’s funny how we can get so used to it and take it for granted. 

Flowers from William

And… 5 things that I am loving at the moment:

1.     My Macbook – such a good buy, instant communication with family and friends, loved skyping with some of you this week! It stores my photos, my memories and I can listen to my music and watch films on it. It’s just great.

2.      Letters – even though email is so much quicker, it’s amazing to get a letter through the door. Thank you.

3.     Friends – friends back home who are so supportive and new friends here. You are sunshine to me.

4.      My family – always there, such a blessing and although I miss you so much, I know that it won’t be long before we are together again.
          God – his constant love and the blessings he gives me every day. My security and identity come from him and I know I am safe.

Bisou! A bientôt! 

Friday, 4 March 2011

6th week...

I apologise in advance for the length of this blog, but I have not been keeping up with it, so a lot has happened since my last entry!
The last week has been really good… apart from getting a bit of a stomach bug. I think I caught it from Alice who was sick on Thursday. I felt a bit funny on Friday night, but I still went out for a drink at Les Artistes (one of my favourite bars) with Betsy, her friend, Angie and Ian and Maria. We had exciting cocktails with sweets on and played crazy American card games, much to the amusement of some French people sat opposite us! I started chatting to one of them, happy to be using some French, but he was desperate to use his English so that was a bit disappointing!

It was a really good night, but I felt a bit ill walking home and in the morning, I woke up early and, to spare you the details, was very sick and didn’t stop until everything was gone. Thankfully that was all it was, and I felt poorly for the rest of the day but I was able to go meet William from the station. It was so amazing seeing someone from home in Nancy, my new home, and it made me realise how much I miss him and home in general. We had a great lunch with the family – well, I watched the eating - and spent the afternoon chatting. We even managed to head out in the evening for a nice dinner…William ate most of my dinner too! The children loved having someone else to play with. They loved him so much that I felt a bit rejected if I’m honest…! The weekend was so nice, we spent a lot of it sitting in cafes, talking.

It's now 'les vacances scolaires', so on Monday we had the children. We were all sat round talking and the topic came onto families. Stanley said “I’ve got two sisters, Alice and Lucy.” It was the sweetest thing and so gratifying that they’ve accepted me in that way. It makes it all worth it! Late afternoon we took Alice and Stanley on the train to Paris, leaving Tobias at home with his mum. At Gare de l’Est, I left William to head back home via the eurostar, and I met the children’s grandparents. We all went back to their apartment in the Parisian suburbs (the nice, southern suburbs!) I got to stay in their studio flat for the night, and had an amazing lie-in with no noise of children for once – such a treat! The next day, I said goodbye to the children and headed into central Paris on a bus and Metro and ended up at the Tuillerie gardens. I walked up the steps of the metro and the first thing I saw was the Eiffel tower! It was amazing! There I met up with a lovely American au pair, Mandy, who I met through reading her blog on this site – it is a great read! We had a really great time, chatting and comparing notes on the job and the children – hers sound so much worse than mine. We had a really nice lunch too in a typical Parisian restaurant, washed down with a nice jug of red wine! We then hiked up the many steps to the Sacre Coeur at Montmartre. It was totally worth it, as even in the hazy sunshine the view was spectacular, and the atmosphere was so alive and completely Parisian…the only way I can describe it really!

I had to head back later on that afternoon to get the train back to Nancy to collect Tobias from crèche. I am astounded by how fast the TGV train goes – covers the 300k between the cities in 1½ hours! It was just me and the little’un that night, but it went fine, and he didn’t wake up too early in the morning! 
Anyway, on Wednesday after dropping him at crèche, I met Betsy and Krista with baby Noelle at the gare to get the train to Metz (a nearby city) for the day!
 It was a really sunny but very windy day and we spent it chatting, enjoying the local patisserie selection and enjoying the beautiful medieval city. I feel so blessed by God to have these wonderful friends so soon into my stay here and it was great for us all to get of Nancy for the day and spend some good time together with lots of laughter! Noelle is so cute! And so good, too!

I was back in time to collect Tobias from crèche, and again, was alone with him as his mummy was not back until Thursday and his daddy is not back till Saturday. It went ok, but when it was time to go to bed, he would not settle. He didn’t want to go to sleep and when I left him lying down, said goodnight and turned the light out, he screamed and screamed. I didn’t really know what to do as I have not had to deal with this sort of thing before. I went back in after a few minutes and tried to calm him. The minute I picked him up he was happy again, but just would not go down. I was texting his mum to ask what to do and I tried all  her suggestions, but by 10pm, when none of it had worked, I had to just leave him to cry. I phoned mum to ask what she would do, and apparently I should have gone in but not given him any attention, just to make sure he was ok, and to let him know I was there, otherwise he would just cry to get a cuddle or attention. Clearly I should have tried this earlier in the night. So I tried this, but to no avail.  This child can really cry and cry. I established that he was not ill or hurt, or hungry, he just wanted attention. It must have been strange for him as none of his family were there and I felt so sorry for him. But eventually he stopped crying and went to sleep around midnight. I thought this might mean he would sleep in, but he was up at 7am! He seemed happy though, so I got him up and took him to crèche, then went home and went back to bed! I woke up at 11am and ate two bowls of coco pops and everything was ok! I was so glad that his mum got back early that evening and took over. I could go to Betsy’s student halls for some dinner and a nice girly evening! More about these halls of residence to follow…they are so very … ‘French’!

So a good week, a busy week. It has kept me from feeling homesick, as have letters and packages in the post - thank you so much :D It has also been a nice break from the three children and school routine. The children are back tomorrow but it’s the weekend, and we have a week of school holiday fun to follow!
Really though, they are so lovely, I just need to be firm with them and keep to my word. I have such a great situation here, and I am learning some really valuable lessons about being humble, looking after children and life in general. One thing that really sticks in my mind from this week is holding Alice and Stanley’s hands as we had to negotiate our way through Paris’s busy train and metro stations and the feeling that they are so vulnerable and that I would do anything to protect them. I am beginning to learn about a different kind of love.