Thursday, 21 April 2011

bientôt les vacances!

This week has been hard with the kids. And yesterday, being Wednesday was slightly horrible. The children had finished breakfast by like 7:40am! the day was SO LONG! Actually, it's great spending the day with the two older children, but this week, for some reason, the 4-year-old has decided it's fun to either ignore everything I ask him to do, or scream 'NON' and run around screaming... this is rather tricky and I have yet to find out how to tackle this issue as he hasn't really been like this before. However, he's very sweet when he wants to be. It's a strange experience being so completely disrespected by a small child one minute, and then being cuddled and confided in the next minute. Anyway, the day was long. Enough said. Their Mum got home in time for their dinner which kind of made it a bit worse, as she hasn't been there for 2 days but it seems like she jumps in on what I've been doing wrong...try looking after these kids for twelve hours solid with no help! Anyway, I do really like her, she's funny and very understanding for the most part! She also saw how much her son was not listening to me, as did their Dad the night before. Hopefully a week together as a family might sort a few issues. It seems so sad to me that these kids spend so much more time with me than their parents during the week. No wonder they're always calling me 'Mama'.

So anyway, as soon as the children were in bed, I headed out into a beautifully warm evening to meet some friends at the fair. Betsy also brought along two girls from her course who are really cool! It was pretty awesome. We went up in the ferris wheel which gave stunning views of Nancy in the sunset. Amazing! Afterwards, I was starving so went for a very healthy 'American' sandwich. Basically steak and chips in a toasted baguette. It was the biggest thing ever and afterwards I didn't much fancy going on some of the crazy rides, but I watched the others and we had a good laugh, copious amounts of candyfloss and just hung out. I love the way the French do 'foires'. They have full-on restaurants with people drinking nice wine and even champagne! So different from Trowbo's effort at a fair!

Anyway, today is my last day of au pairing for a week and a half! The family are off to their country house tomorrow and I am off home Saturday! next blog will be from England!

Groses bisous.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

a weekend on the slopes... (or some of it!)

So last weekend I was lucky enough to have a weekend in the Alps thanks to a very lovely friend, Nicki! She owns an apartment in Les Deux Alpes and said that as she was driving down, would I like to come with her?! YES PLEASE!

So on Thursday night, Nicki arrived in Nancy and we headed over to Ian's place for a spot of Raclette (awesome melted cheese, cold meats fest) and games with the gang. It was a really good night!
In the morning, I took the children to school as usual and then we headed off, dropping into the bank to pick up my new Carte Bleu on the I also had money! It was a really nice drive and felt amazing to be getting out of Nancy! After about 4 hours, we neared the mountains and stopped for a quick picnic lunch. We decided it was time to put the roof down on the car and we drove all the way up to the resort with the roof down... I felt rather Bridget Jones sans Hugh Grant unfortunately! (Sorry Nicki!)
It was strange to arrive in a ski resort with no snow, but I was assured that it was all at the top! However, it did get really cold and start snowing a bit! We went to hire my skis, buy food etc, then we had a nap before showering and having dinner. Later on we headed out to a couple of the bars on the resort, and ended up staying out dancing till past 4am! Not a good idea if you want to be out on the slopes early. We spent Saturday afternoon skiing up top where the ski was pretty good and the temperature about 20 oc less! It felt great to be skiing again after just a few months - a real treat!
We spent Saturday evening, eating and then watching a film before an early night. I don't think I've slept for 12 hours for years and it felt so good!
Sunday we had a bit longer on the slopes and it was so cold up on the glacier that I felt my face freezing! Down in the resort though, it felt like spring!
We had a really nice evening, having a meal and then a drink with Nicki's friend and chatting to the locals! A really nice little weekend! Thank you Nicki!!

On Monday morning, Nicki drove me to Grenoble to catch the TGV back to Nancy. It was really cold and I was wearing my Uggs and a hoodie. The journey was good. I managed to finish reading 'The Diary of an American Au Pair' (rather apt) and also a French magazine. The countryside coming up from Grenoble was so beautiful. Little villages with churches in the centre nestled into the hills, and it made me long to live in the countryside again - or move south! I had to change trains in Paris (Gare de Lyon is an absolute nightmare - so confusing) and I was cutting it fine, but managed to catch the train back to Nancy in time to dump my suitcase at the apartment and get the children. Nancy was HOT. It was a bit of a shock. As was looking after the children again. It's amazing how a little  time away can really make you relax and forget how hard it is!

They have been pretty bad today as well, not listening at all and running a bit wild, but the holidays start this weekend. The family are going away and so am I - back to England for a longed-for break! I can't wait to see some of you lovely people and especially my friends and family.

Lucy xxx

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

...detante a Paris!

Last weekend, I spent some time in Paris with Miss Mandy Dunn! It was an amazing weekend with a really lovely girl. We get on so well and have a lot in common (granted, we both have similar situations as Au Pairs in France!) so we spent a lot of the weekend relaxing and chatting. The weather was also amazing - so warm!

I arrived at Gare de L'Est at 5pm (I still can't believe it only takes 1h30 to travel the 400km from Nancy to Paris on the TGV!) Mandy was there to meet me, and we went straight back to her house in the very affluent area of Neuilly sur Seine. Her family have gone away for the school holidays (Paris holidays 2 weeks before we do in Nancy) so we had the whole of this amazing apartment to ourselves! The family have only recently moved there, and apparently it cost 5 Million Euros. INSANITY.


Some Wisteria...

Entrance to the apartment!


Anyway, we chilled in their lovely back garden in the sun for a while, before getting the metro and heading over to the Latin Quarter for a cheap dinner! It was packed with tourists, and it was strange for me to hear so many English voices. Coming to Paris felt the closest to England I had been for nearly 3 months! We sat down outside a restaurant to be greeted with the English menu, again, not something I have become used to! Anyway, we had a great three course meal for 10euros each and caught up with our news!
Later, we headed into Bastille, Paris' party area, I'm told! We frequented a cocktail bar before moving on to an Irish pub. It was really good fun and we met lots of awesome people from all over the world! However, we were chased out of the place by some crazy guys who were convinced we hadn't payed our tab - they didn't even work there and we didn't even have a tab! - but we managed to get away and onto the metro back home!

Quartier Latin


In the morning, Mandy made a great breakfast which we ate outside in the sunshine before catching the metro to church. On the way, the train suddenly popped out of the tunnel and there was the Eiffel Tower - pretty awesome! Almost as awesome as Hillsong Paris. What a church! It's an international church with a huge congregation. There is an amazing worship band led with some songs in French and others in English. Everything is also translated from French to English or vice versa by an incredible translator woman. An real experience and great to see people from all over the world worshiping the one and only God!

Afterwards...after a long long while of trying to get out of the place, some of us went for a picnic in the Jardin de Luxembourg. However, it was so packed because of the amazing weather that everyone just sat where they could. I met lots of cool people, and some other au pairs from all over the world!

Later, Mandy and I headed to the banks of the Seine and ate ice cream opposite the Eiffel Tower. We both caught the sun! Then we had to head back to get my stuff and metro-ed it back to Gare de L'Est where we had a bite to eat before I caught the train back to Nancy.

It was a really great weekend... Thank you Mandy!

Friday, 8 April 2011

stuff that happened this week...

It's Friday evening and I'm babysitting, and I haven't blogged all week. I'm shattered so I thought I would just stick in a bit of what I can remember of what happened each day this week. It has been a good week for me. A bonus that it's also been very warm. I'm so happy in Nancy ... it kind of feels like home to me now :)


- Potty training goes hardcore: no more nappies! The school run suddenly gets more complicated as I am constantly making sure little one doesn't need to go to the toilet/has been in his pants... eeek.

- I was interviewed by an education student about my teaching methods for teaching English. Um...I just make it up as I go along and sing a few songs..

- Gospel choir.


- I realise the four-year-old really has no idea what day of the week we're on, ever: days of the week training commences, made more complicated by the fact that we're doing it in both French and English!

- I get my shoes fixed for 25euros. Think that maybe I could have bought a new pair for that... but then I remember that I live in Nancy. Enough said.

- I get one of my English lessons observed...I think it went ok!

- I open a French bank account. 45 minutes of listening to bank-jargon and a stack of paperwork later, I think I've achieved what I set out to do. Oddly, one of the most scary and difficult things I've had to do since I've been here. Banks just stress me out I guess.

- Girly times and games with Krista and Betsy.


- The children and I are given permission to start work on painting the cellar (the children's playroom) - joys. Paint gets everywhere. I throw them both in the bath. I later get told off for getting paint on their clothes. Fun.

- We venture to the 'foire'. You have never seen a fair so big. I am given a rather generous budget and return with two soaking wet, but happy children covered in toffee apple. A success I think.

...after the water ride!

- As one child is successfully sitting on the potty and not wetting his pants, the other one decides to take a leak all over the floor... from the sound of the giggles, apparently just for the heck of it! (It seems that when one child is achieving something good, there is always another one who is doing something bad to grab my attention.) This little boy did not get away with it. (I can be mean!)

- Laura's Birthday. A girly soiree complete with rose and cake... and her house rabbit!

Birthday Girl

...blowing out a make-shift candle!


- Loved working at the school today :)

- Stressful afternoon. Children running wild and playing me off against their mother who was working from home.

- A lovely soiree and dinner chez Matthias (I am super-jealous of his attic apartment!) This was complete with mojitos, excellent food and wine and great company. It culminated in a moonlit walk right the way across Nancy with Ian and Maria as we had long-since missed the last tram!

Betsy's delicious lemon slice and coffee in rather cute little mugs to round off the evening!
 Wow, was I tired after 4 nights out in a row and 6:30am starts. This is what looking after children does to you...!


- I think we are well on our way to sussing the days of the week and the potty training isn't going too badly! It is also still very warm and sunny.

- I only achieved three hours sleep last night, and singing with the tiny tots was rather an effort. One child remarked to me "Maitresse, tu est tout rouge" - well wouldn't you be if you'd just been doing all the actions to 'Heads, shoulders knees and toes' for the last 15 minutes?! So worth it though.

- I spent a nice afternoon in town with my French friend, Francis. We got awesome pizza in the old town and wandered around in the sun.

...well that that wasn't exactly a short blog but hey-ho!
Tomorrow afternoon, I am off to Paris after I do my tutoring. I'm very excited!
I am continuing to feel so blessed in my time here, and feel so well placed. I have met some amazing people and am growing so much as a person. Added to that, I feel like my French has really taken off recently. This is such a great experience. I would recommend it to anyone!
I'm missing home still, but I am coming home in 2 weekend's time for a visit. I can't wait to see lots of you! :)

Bon weekend everyone. xxx

Sunday, 3 April 2011

how weekends should be...

It's been a really good weekend!
Yesterday was super-warm. I wandered down to the gare in the morning to buy tickets to go to Paris next weekend to stay with the wonderful Mandy Dunn! (fellow Au Pair blogger!) I finally decided to buy a 12-25 railcard which actually gives HUGE savings, and even managed to exchange the ticket I'd bought to come back from the alps in two weeks for a much cheaper one with my railcard! Bonus!
There was then the normal family lunch, and a nice siesta!
Later on, I went to the BIG family's house to do my tutoring. It was really great, sat in their conservatory for two hours helping the kids with their English. It is really opening my eyes to our language and how confusing it is for others to learn! It's great doing the tutoring though, their English is so good we have some really interesting conversations and they are a really nice family!
Afterwards, I went and sat in the square for a bit with a French magazine and then went for a walk in the park with Betsy before grabbing a 'Monaco' (amazing, aforementioned drink!) As it's so light in the evenings now, we didn't even notice when it was like 8pm - it felt like it was still the afternoon! We both wandered home, and I was feeling really tired from the late night the night before and lack of lie-in due to highly noisy children in the morning. So I just sat and watched a bit of French TV (truly crap!) and chilled out before getting a good night's sleep!

Today was church as normal, but afterwards, there was an amazing meal for everyone upstairs! It was sauerkraut which I think is some sort of traditional food from Germany, and I was a little dubious, but it was actually really nice!

We also celebrated the engagement of two very special people:


So lunch was a very happy time!
Afterwards, some of us went to the aquarium... but not before hanging out in the square a while... 

And some of us decided it was the place to dance...

This is the creepiest fish ever!!

So, a good day had by all! Angie and I later went for a wander round the fair. It is HUGE... fun times for another day maybe. It's been a really nice weekend, well rounded off with a great meal containing lots of cheese with my employers. 

I hope you've all had a good weekend and that the start of your week goes well.
Lucy xxx

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Girly night

Last night Betsy hosted a girly night at her place... (well, Jonathan and Krista's, but they're on holiday!) There were two really great girls from her course, Laura and Angie, and Maria and I. It was such a lovely evening of basically just sitting around and chatting with wine and strawberries and snacks until about 1:30am! We had planned to all talk in French all night... it didn't really work! But it was just one of those really lovely evenings!

The company:

Angie, (Columbia) Betsy, (USA) Me, Maria, (USA) Laura (Finland)

Friday, 1 April 2011

Poisson D'Avril!


I miss you very much xxxxxxxx

A taste of a different kind of teaching.

Don't get me wrong, I love the little children, I enjoy playing with them and looking after them. I enjoy doing the English classes at the school, and singing songs with them all. But one thing I've learned since I've been in France is that I really don't want to be a primary school teacher. Young children are sweet, they're such amazing learners and they say some things that can really amaze you. But I really don't feel like caring for, or teaching young children is where my heart is long-term. And that's a good realisation.

So it was amazing yesterday to have the opportunity to experience life in a Lycee (kind of sixth-form college.) One of the mums at the children's school works at a Lycee in the Vosges (about 45minutes away), teaching English. Sophie has always been really friendly to me and often offered to take me to her school with her to find out what she does. So yesterday I took her up on her offer.
Number one, it was really just great to have a solid conversation in French for the car drive over there. It made me feel so much more confident in holding a conversation as I realised that my French has improved quite a lot! And again, it was awesome to get out of Nancy and see some open road and countryside, albeit it was bucketing it down!
The school was so nice. All of Sophie's colleagues were so friendly and welcoming and I really loved the more laid-back feel of a college set-up (as opposed to a primary school.)
I helped Sophie out with the three classes she had that day. As it is a college that specialises in agriculture and environmental studies, there were a lot of boys. The first class of two hours was completely made up of guys between the ages of 15 and 17. They were all super-sweet and very enthusiastic. They all introduced themselves to me in English, then I did the same back! Then I helped them with their reading comprehension and read the text to them. I think they found my accent a bit of a novelty!
At lunchtime, we ate with some of the other staff members and conversation was good! Then the subject got around to food. Some guy randomly had a rabbit in a basket that he said he was going to cook for lunch. I had no idea whether he was joking or not - he was French after all... after that, they started talking about eating snails, and a lot of people said they liked snail pie!! uuuugh!

Anyway, after lunch I helped out with two more classes, doing similar things. These students were a bit older and there were some girls. I really enjoyed the conversations that came up, and I thought Sophie had a really great rapport with her students even though they were all very lively.
It really made me think more about teaching that age group... maybe even teaching English in France. I just feel like you can really focus a lot more on the students as intellectuals, as opposed to the discipline and care and very basic learning that has to happen in a primary school. This is a lot more interesting to me.
I can't believe I have never had any experience in a secondary school before, as it's certainly something I'm now considering. Time to do some research!
I will definitely be going back to Sophie's school. 

It was such a great day :)

Another plus is that after being very ill on Wednesday night, I am feeling much much better!
The weekend is nearly here again, where did the week go?