Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Much Awaited Photos Of My Apartment

Ok, so maybe I've slacked off a little on my blog. But here are finally the photos of my apartment! You know you are excited! Descriptions are below the pictures!

This is my kitchen! Because the internet only works here (it is the closest room to their apartment), this is where I am when I am talking to you from my apartment. Notice my computer on the washing machine. I never actually cook here, because I eat all of my meals with the family in their apartment, but I do have some important things in the refrigerator (peanut butter, chocolate and hummus). 

 Another view of the kitchen. You can see that you get the bathroom through the kitchen. Strange.

My bathroom! 

Turning left out of the kitchen, this is the view down the rest of my apartment.

Turning back around toward the kitchen. The kitchen is up on the right, a closet is at the end and my front door is to the left. I put pictures on the doors!

 This is the living room, which I don't really use because there is no furniture. But I keep my suitcase here and hang my clothes to dry.

My bedroom!

My bed!

 My bed again! Pantoufle is right in view when I wake up!

The view from my window: Sacre Coeur.

 Another view out my window.

In other news: 
1. Friday and Saturday I'll be going to Disneyland with the au pair family!
2. Yesterday, Maximilien said to me "en fait, je t'aime," which means "in fact, I love you." (!!!!!!!)
3. I'll be spending Christmas with Valentin's family.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Culture Shock! (in which Kelsey is pwned approximately 85 times per minute)

Things that have completely pwned me so far:

1. Buying laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, etc. They are mostly different products and the labels are in French, and it takes me 20x longer to do than it would take a normal person!
2. Getting out of a metro station alone: WHAT? There are like 4 exits?
3. Finding the proper desk to buy a discount train card: I can ask for directions is French, but I don't always understand them...
4. Finding flour, and later, sugar, in the grocery store. They aren't together! There is no real baking section! I wander aimlessly through the aisles for 10 minutes, literally walking through every aisle several times. As I have forgotten the word for flour (farine, I now know), I ask someone where the sugar is. I find it with the candy. But no flour. I leave the store, defeated. Hours later: I go to another store. After 10 minutes of wandering, I find the flour. Oh, and I guess it would not be a bad idea to get some sugar, too. I wander for 10 more minutes. Never find it and leave. PWNED!
5. Using a French cell-phone. Doing this properly is completely elusive to me. There's something about a zero or not a zero before the number? And I managed to lock myself out immediately by guessing my PIN to many times (it was 0000). *sigh. Thank goodness for Valentin, who called the technical assistance and fixed it.
6. Interacting with others: when people speak to me on the street, on the metro, in stores, etc. I always just end up giving them a really wide-eyed confused look. Ooops.
7. This morning, I was walking down the street and a man walking in the other direction tried to give me a cigarette. Wide-eyed confused look. "Ne fumez pas?" Nonon, but more importantly, why did this happen!? Is this normal behavior?
8. Pomme de douche. Apparently this is the shower head! Well, I never would have guessed that one.

Anyway, that's all I can think of right now, but I may be in a bit over my head. Thank goodness I have Valentin and the au pair family who are able to sort of fix the confusion.

This weekend, I'm off to Strasbourg for the gala at Valentin's engineering school. It should be awesome! :)

Bon weekend, mes amis!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It begins!

Hello my name is Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!).

Mais non. Ce n’est pas moi!

Bonjour! Je suis bien arrivée en France! I left Chicago Tuesday evening and arrived in Paris, after a somewhat wretched flight, at 9am Wednesday morning. The father of my au pair family (Stèphane) and the older son (Pierre-Alexandre, 6) met me at the airport. After a little struggle with my three huge suitcases we drove back to their apartment and took the wretched suitcases up SIX flights of stairs. And by we, I mean I took the smallest while Stèphane took two. But well, I will not have to move it all again until June, and really three suitcases is not so bad for 8 month…

After arriving, I met the mother (Christelle) and the younger son (Maximilien, 3). Because the parents were leaving that night for two weeks on the Indian Ocean (!), we quickly went over things I should know about the family, the location, etc. Then I went to my apartment, unpacked a little and took a shower. After the shower, I had lunch with the family, which was really an awesome celebratory lunch with foie gras, wine, meat, cheese, champagne (I think the first time I’ve ever had real champagne) and an awesome strawberry cake. It was white cake, with cream and fresh strawberries between the layers and what seemed to me like pink fondant on top with more fresh strawberries. And that, my friends, is why I came to France. Ok, nooot exactly. The family was really nice, although I haven’t gotten to know the parents very well yet. And not to fear, two grandmothers are here, so I am certainly not on my own with the children! More on them later.
I stayed at their apartment until about 4-5, when they said I could go to bed. I went back to my apartment and unpacked a little more. Then I went to visit Valentin!!!! The real reason I came to France. But sadly by this point (having taken my own jet-lag advice to not take a nap after the flight), I was quite grumpy and sleepy, so I was less than great company.

The next day, I walked the kids to school with one of the grandmothers. The school is close but it takes a while to get there because Maximilien is so tiny! They are both at the same school that they go to from 8:30-4:30 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Then the grandmother walked me around the neighborhood. We had lunch at the apartment and then went to explore Montmartre. We climbed alllll the way up to Sacre Coeur and then went down a different side of the hill and had to take a metro home. I took a little nap (augh jetlag) and then we picked the boys up at school.

The after school rituals is pretty cute. The parents wait outside the door of the school for it to open. Maximilien’s class gets out 10 minutes before Pierre-Alexandre’s class. So we go in to find him. He is looking at the door and when he sees the grandmothers (or now, me), he gets a huuuge smile and runs to the door! The first day, his pacifier was given to us from a huge box of other pacifiers (apparently it is normal for French children to have one until they are 3? I had one until I was 3 ½ but I think it was really weird!) Then we wait outside for Pierre-Alexandre and he starts to eat his snack. For the snack, they have something like little cookies or chocolate, maybe pain au chocolate or something else from a bakery (but not every day), fruit, and fruit juice. The first day at the school, especially, I really enjoyed watching what the other kids had for their snacks (a little piece of baguette, little pastries, ahhh so cute!). Also, it was pretty funny to watch how children sometimes look exactly like miniature versions of their parents! I suppose this was the case when I was young but I never noticed! Anyway, then we find Pierre-Alexandre, give him his snack, and if it is nice, go to the park! The park closes at 5 now, though, so we have to hurry and they can’t play for too long. Then we walk home.

At the apartment, I help Pierre-Alexandre with his homework (which actually is very helpful for my French!). Then I play with them for a while until it is time for them to shower. Pierre-Alexandre is too shy for me to help him shower, and Maximilien takes off his clothes as quickly as possible and runs around the room, wildly dancing like a ferret. Then we have dinner and afterward, I might play with the kids for a little while and then I go back to my apartment! I’ll make another post about my apartment with some photos after I’m done decorating.

Maximilien is, according to his parents, un coquin, which according to the dictionary is a rascal, or even better, a scallywag! He is sort of a rebel, I think. If you tell him not to do something, he wants to do it more. And whenever his brother can do something, he wants to do it too! Walking without someone else, showering on his own, etc. He’s pretty funny. Today we played fishing, where he was on top of their bunk bed and tossed down the cord from his bathrobe and I tied a stuffed animal to it! It was pretty great. Pierre-Alexandre is older by 3 years. Sometimes he acts very grown up, which is pretty adorable. He keeps taking out old notebooks of things he did in school in past years and going through them, telling me what is on each page. They are both reaaallly cute, and overall good kids. They were really cutely shy the first day I was here, but they are starting to be less shy, although they still have their moments.

Anyway, this weekend, I spent with  Valentin, and I had mostly recovered from jetlag, so I was no longer a crab. Friday night we met near San Michel and went out for some drinks there. Saturday we went grocery shopping and then went in search of dress shoes he could wear for a gala at his old school in Strasbourg that we will go to next weekend but didn’t find any. THENNNNNNNNNNNNN, we went to an awesome store where they have laine cardée, or combed wool, and also felting needles that I will use to make WOOLPETS! Comme ça: http://www.woolpets.com/galleries.html. Then we went to a bookstore and looked at cute French children’s books. And then we went to dinner. We had for an appetizer a plate of charcuteries (different yummy kinds of salami, prosciutto, etc.). Then I had boudin noir, which I think Catalina has told me about before. It is black, blood sausage. That should help my iron levels! It was served with deux pommes: pomme et pomme de terre (apples and potatoes). It was kind of scary to try, but it was very good! We also had good red wine, and for dessert we shared a macaron with almond ice cream! Sunday, I made pancakes, and we ate them with his roommates. Then we made woolpets! We both made little bumble bees! And we made chocolates of two kinds: one with almonds covered in marzipan and then dark chocolate, and one with hazelnuts covered in a sort of soft hazelnut chocolate and then dark chocolate. For dinner, we made boeuf bourguignon (Valentin was definitely the chef but I cut some carrots and an onion so I say we).

That’s all for now! I’m pretty impressed with anyone who has stuck around until the end! I promise other posts should not be this long because they will probably focus on one thing rather than introducing you to everything.

I will leave you with a photo of mes petits coquins. I gave them some Halloween stickers which are all over their faces here!