dimanche 15 juin 2014

One Month down!

So as of yesterday, I've been in France an entire MONTH! It blows my mind. This month has gone by so fast! I do think my language has improved, although I still struggle a LOT. And eavesdropping is never an option.

As far as childcare goes, the kids and I have gotten to a place of mutual respect, for better and worse- they're more likely to obey me, and Victoria comes to me to discipline Gregoire or ask for help with things...which is great, except when it's Sunday and I was sleeping in and that's my day off.

Real parents don't get days off, of course, but MAN I like taking advantage of the fact I'm not a real parent sometimes.

So in this month, I've been to Quiberon a few times. Quiberon is a presqu'ilse (literally "nearly island") jutting into the ocean a little over an hour away from Elven. The family has a caravan there, so it's kind of like their version of when my family visits Bear Lake. Sometimes they go for the day, sometimes they spend a few days there- we haven't done that yet, but once the kids are out of school, we'll get there.

And yeah, the kids are STILL in school! They don't finish until July 4th, so my workday still is built around their school schedule.

I know my way around Elven like the back of my hand now. But since we eat so good (and ALWAYS at home) in this family, my real exploring only happens when I have a little bit of time to run a personal errand. I've tried two of the four local patisseries (and by "four local", I mean "four that you can see from standing in one spot in the center of town") and been VERY happy. Only one restaurant so far, today actually, and man I am still crazy about French food. There's only one thing I've been unhappy with, and that's some random dressing that I've had to eat twice. That's including the surprisingly delicious blood sausage (Boudin Noir).

Language classes have been going for a few weeks now. They're great- difficult enough they're certainly challenging me, but at my level as well. I haven't made any new friends in them yet...I think we all expected the classes to be full of cute little American Au Pairs like myself. But no, in both classes (Mondays and Thursdays) I'm the only au pair, the only American, actually the only person in their early 20s. But I do get along with my classmates, and hopefully I'll be able to hang out with some of these people! The Brits like me, because they can talk English. I think to all of us, finding another English speaker is like going up to the surface to breathe.

Which is probably a big reason why the Sister Missionaries in the branch are really reaching out to me. The local branch here is really close-knit and loving, and lots of people are trying to speak English with me. Mainly to improve their own, I think. The sisters are both American though, and they're hoping to hang out with me on Mondays- I always stay in Vannes for a little after my class to get lunch and walk around the amazing city a little tiny bit. It's such a nice part of my week.

My favorite parts though, even with the amazing weather and amazing food and beautiful scenery, have got to be the moments when I feel like part of the family here. Playing around with the kids, maybe cooking or making dessert, even setting the table for breakfast while everyone gets ready for bed. I am having an amazing time here, although I miss my real family so much.

Ten months seems like forever, but when I realize it's already been one, it seems like nothing at all.

Happy Fathers' Day!!

dimanche 18 mai 2014

La Vie en Elven!

First of all, yes this is a new blog. I could no longer access the other one to make background changes, and that just simply will NOT do. So since I'd rather not waste hours and precious sanity over something I can't change, instead you get something new and fresh. Something worthy of a college graduate.

That's right, a matter of weeks ago I graduated BYU with a Bachelor of Arts in Illustration. I am taking a year off school at the moment, and what better way to do that than with a COMPLETELY NEW LIFE?

Yep, on Tuesday, I picked up everything, got on a few planes, and moved into a beautiful contemporary home in the medieval town of Elven, France- Brittany region.

Elven is beautiful. Its buildings are rustic and made of stone. An incredible gothic church (I always want to say Cathedral, but apparently it's just a cute church. I'm too American for all this goodness!) dominates the town center that we live about 3 minutes from, walking. As far as the rest of town- the castle nearby, the old mill, the famous little stream.... I haven't had a chance to really explore yet, but I will!

I'm living here as an au pair for a wonderful family. François, the father, is an orthodontist. Aurelié, the mom, occasionally does paper work for his office and is also incredibly busy as their school's equivalent to a PTA president. She's so involved that she's in the staff photo!

They have three children; Victoria, the oldest, "chose" me as their au pair. She is smart but shy, but incredibly sweet and fond of me already. We draw together a lot, and luckily for me, she's already figured out how best to talk to me in French so I understand. She's excited to learn English, so we do that when we can, too. Gregoire, the middle child, is rambunctious to say the least. He's got a LOT more energy than a little sir should, but he's also got the cutest smile. And he does like me, just not minding me. And Edouard, the little baby, is just an angel.

My flight was long and tiresome, but when I arrived in the Nantes airport, the Omnes family was right there to greet me and take me home. We had a nice celebratory dinner, I settled into my wonderful room, and the next day we began normal life.

Of course, I'm still missing some paper work (after the crazy process to get the okay to work and live in France, I now have to get reapproved while IN France, but it's really more a "check in"...that takes...three months... Also, my drivers license is still in process.) and have to get tested to see which French Class I'm going to take- a requirement of all non-natives living here more than 3 months- (this language won't die on the French's watch!), but besides that, we're all getting adjusted to each other quickly.

The language is a struggle for me, I won't lie. But I am doing better than I thought! Aurelié insists that my French is quite good, and I can communicate with the parents (who also want to brush up on their English anyway) and the oldest daughter and sometimes with Gregoire. Strangers still have to talk slow...well, everyone has to talk slow. Which is very unnatural, as this language is meant to say a LOT and VERY QUICKLY. Think Gilmore Girls, but in real life.

Friday, I went to my first French Supermarket. There are a few differences that are mostly improvements- the vegetable scales print a price tag when you're weighing them so the cashier doesn't have to look it up, the carts are all outfitted to hold a bag and also have a separator in the front for wine or anything else (Aurelié used it to hold all the food and used the main section to hold the new vaccuum), etc. Their stamp system is more efficient too. But besides a few differences, it's very very similar to the culture I know.

oh, and a LOT more kisses here.

Saturday, we went out on the family's boat to the Golfe de Morbihan (and a little into the ocean, though that's technically still a bay. In fact, it's a bay INSIDE the larger Bay of Biscay, but I'm counting it as
ocean.). The water was beautiful, the sun was beautiful, the weather was beautiful....everything was just dreamy as can be. We had a lovely time, up until the end, when Gregoire, ah, well he showed just how dangerous his disobedient streak can be and got ahold of the wheel while François was just finishing up gassing the boat. OBVIOUSLY we're okay, but the little boy... is in a LOT of trouble.

I'm skipping a few tiny things (including a childrens' play, which I guess isn't tiny nor now is it skipped.) to get to today- Sunday! I was able to get to church in Nantes, which is a decent trip away, but had some members to take me. :) Church was great. Much like what I'm used to, but in a little business building outfitted to suit the branch's needs. I could understand Relief Society just fine. The longer the day went on, the harder it got for me- but the missionaries are just a few of the English speakers in the ward! There's also a woman from Sandy, who has her vacation home here, two women from England, and a few people who randomly know English and like trying to talk to me. I feel quite welcome, even if I'm a little shy at jumping to befriend people here.

Sunday is my day off, so I have time to blog. And sleep, when it gets a bit later. And visit friends, when I do eventually have them- whether from French class, church, or Aurelié's friends, who are also getting an Au Pair this summer (from Seattle. She is VERY excited to introduce us.)

It's a lovely life here in Brittany, and I can't wait to share it with you. :)

Bisou bisou!