Monday, September 28, 2009

The French Know How to Parade

I apologize for the lack of interesting blogs.  My life really just hasn't been that interesting.  Regardless, I march forward.  Here's what I've been up to.

Last week, Greg was in Paris.  On top of that, Juliette's busiest time of the year are these few weeks.  And even more than that, Aiden was sick Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Adding all of that with 2 babysitting gigs, I was BUSY.  Basically nonstop childcare is exhausting.  At least I was rewarded for it...financially.

This previous weekend, Molly's parents were gone, leaving her to watch the kids.  She has 2 girls (10 & 12) who are really quite fun, and I enjoy quite much.  So I decided to hang out with Molly and the girls.  The most interesting part was the carnaval that was going on in Thoiry.  All week, at school, carnies were setting up rides and games.  There were 3 rides and 3 games.  Tiny.  However, the whole event was quite fun.


On Saturday, there was a candlit parade.  There's no way this would happen in America.  Every kid got a candle with real fire.  To make it worse, the candle hung surrounded by colored paper, making a lantern.  Guess what happened when the latern swung in a wrong way?  Fire.  Then the adults and teenagers got torches...not candles, torches.

Sunday had the best feature.  A parade.  Molly's girls were very excited because they helped make a float and were going to go on it.  Great.  I thought there would be maybe 4 or 5 floats.  This is a VERY small village.  And it wasn't even a holiday.  Boy, was I wrong.  There were probably close to 15 floats with several marching bands.  And the floats were hilarious.  There was no cohesion.  Just random, weird floats.  But the BEST part was what they passed out.  No candy thrown to little children.  Instead, booze and fondue.  I got some wine and some Grand Marnier with orange juice.  How awesome is that?!  Just something else that would never happen in America.

Molly's girls on the float...Lenaig and Albane.

Me eating fondue and drinking wine.

These are the guys who gave it to me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy

These topics are completely random and nonrelated, but didn't warrant an entire blog to themselves...
  • Macsen doesn't believe in "Father Christmas."  The boys were just talking about presents and Christmas, and Macsen asked me if he should let the cat out of the bag for Aiden.  Of course, I told him no.  Macsen is only 7...this is heartbraking to me.
  • I hope if dogs ever take over the world, and they chose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas.
  • This may sound like a commercial, but for my birthday, my parents got my the best present.  Its called a HAVA (Slingbox is a similar product).  This little contraption erases homesickness.  Well, not all the way, but a great deal for a sports fan like me.  What is it?  Well, it hooks up to your home TV source and your home network.  It then streams that source over the internet for viewing anywhere in the world.  Thus, I'm able to watch (and control) my home's American television (for free...after the intial price).  Sure, I can download shows to watch over here, but not sports.  I ended up waking up at 2:30AM to see the Bears lose to the Packers on Monday morning.  For more info, visit  They gave me $20 to say that.
  • Speaking of the Bears, I'm depressed.  People who know me, know that when the Bears lose, I'm sad that entire week.  This was an especially hard one for me.  However, I think everyone is overreacting to this loss.  Sure, we lost of team leader on defense and our team leader on offense was horrible, but despite this, we STILL should have won.  I still have optimism for the rest of the season.  Cutler will improve.
  • Back to France.  Because we are in France, my kids learn in French even though we all speak English.  However, Macsen started going to an English school this week.  This way, he'll be able to read and write in English as well.
  • Macsen has problems with reading, writing, and spelling (much like me!).  He's really a bright kid, but he struggles in these areas.  He constantly reverses his letters and numbers.  All the time.  We really think he's dyslexic.  The problem with France is that he has to fail 2 grade levels before they do anything about it!  By that point, he'll be too far behind.  I don't like this.
  • Just finished getting up to date on Mad Men.  If you haven't seen this show, you should.  Its probably one of my favorite shows of all time.  It's fantastic.
  • Molly told me that I use the word "fantastic" too much.  She says "perfect" a lot.
  • Children need encouragement.  If a kid gets an answer right, tell him it was a lucky guess.  That way, he develops a good, lucky feeling.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It was overcast both days, but we think it added to the ambiance. Very serene.
See what I mean with the town being in a valley?
This is the gorge in Rosenlaui. It was really loud.
One of the many waterfalls. They should name it Interlakenmitwasserallen.
This is a new feature. I'm going to start showing maps of where I'm going. Interlaken is smack dab in the middle of Switzerland.

During my time out here, I am putting this weekend on the top of the list. Easily, it was the most beautiful place I've been (without trying to compare it to anything in Australia). But the adventures Molly and I went on are what made it really stand out.

Our main purpose for going to Interlaken was to see a traditional Swiss festival of when they bring the cows down from the mountains for the winter. During said festival, they have a cheese-sharing element where farmers sell their excess cheese. We were nearly certain of where it was going to take place, but not exactly sure.

We got to the small town where we were expecting it. Not there. So, naturally, we asked our waitress where it was. The problem was that she didn't even understand me when I said that rosti is a Swiss food. She thought I said that it has meat in it. Looking back on it, it was not the smartest thing in the world to accept her advice for where the festival would be. We ended up driving and driving until we finally found how to get to the town she said to go to. The problem: it was WAY up the mountain. 4,364 feet up the mountain to be exact. The entire time driving along the cliffs we were praying that no one was coming down because the road could fit 2 cars on it maybe 20% of the time. But for some reason, it seemed like there was always juuuust enough room to pull over when a car was coming down. It was a little scary to say the least. The town's name: Rosenlaui.

Did this town have a festival? Hell no. However, it did have a waterfall/gorge. It was gorgeous. And there was a little farming area where pigs were loose and the cows were beautiful. So, we were too upset that we didn't find it. But just then...I had a hunch were I thought the festival would be. And I was right.

Interlaken is in a valley. Rosenlaui was up the southern mountains. We needed to go up the northern mountains. We did. But we found out we needed to take a gondola up to the festival. The last ride went at about 4 something. It was 5 something at this point. No luck. Oh well.

To drown away our sorrows, we went to Interlaken, found some American tourists, got them to take us to their hostel bar, and enjoyed happy hour. I'm being facetious about drowning away our sorrows.

Instead of staying in a hostel like normal tourists, Molly and I decided it would be fun to camp. We borrowed a tent from Molly's family and were pretty excited for it. Until we set it up. I don't even think it was the size of a Queen Size bed. It was about 3 feet tall, too. It was close quarters.

The next day, we went hiking. I honestly have no idea how high we hiked. But it was probably the most hiking anyone has ever done. We spent almost 2 hours going straight up. There were no horizontal portions. And what's worse, on the way down it's still hard. It just works a different set off muscles. So I have 2 sets of muscles that are inoperable today (it’s the morning after).

Here are random things about Interlaken that didn't make my narrative:

  • Drink the water. We filled up water bottles from a waterfall during our hike. I'm fine. Maybe I should check on Molly?
  • I never realized how many waterfalls there are in the Alps. Tons of little-medium sized ones.
  • I hiked the Alps. I guess that was in the story...just wanted to say it again.
  • It is definitely colder the higher you go up a mountain. Unless you are sweating from your hike.
  • Interlaken means "town between lakes." Imagine mountains to the north and south with two decent sized lakes framing it on the west and east.
  • Costco sells an energy drink mixture called Zipfizz. You pour it into water and shake it up. Do NOT pour it into carbonated water. It will erupt and get pink sticky stuff all over your car.
  • Molly laughs a lot.
  • Meiginen (the small town where we thought the festival was) is home to Sherlock Holmes. We think. There was a museum there and several things named after him.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Aiden Being Aiden

As promised, here is a cute moment brought to you by Aiden. This is what happens when he gets a little sugar in him...

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Montreux- NW corner of Lake Geneva. Geneva- SE corner.

Molly and I getting ready for canoeing

By now, I think you might know how much I rely on the other au pairs here for my entertainment. And by now, I think you might know how all the au pairs I met when I got here are all gone. I think you might also know that I really, really enjoyed those first au pairs. However, the show must go on...and the show so far has been staring Molly.

Molly is a true Georgia Peach from Macon, GA. She's an Ole Miss alum, majoring in psychology. If I had to guess, she's probably 5'3'' and enjoys Curb Your Enthusiasm, My Morning Jacket, and Tailgating at college football games. Best of all, while she doesn't have a thick southern accent, she does have one. Its fantastic. I actually might be learning as much of southern culture as I did of Australian culture from Lauren. Jane was really good at French so she was always our spokesperson...Molly speaks zero French. Now I'm our spokesperson. Let's just say that typically, my first thing I say to someone is "Do you speak English"?

Why I am telling you all of this? Well, I need to. Why? Because so far, she's the only other au pair that's here. I don't want to say that I've been "stuck" with her, because (thankfully) she's phenomenal. She's been a great traveling buddy. So...for the time being, all adventures I have will be with her.

What are these adventures? Well, let me tell ya. The first weekend Molly and I spent the day in Montreux, Switzerland (see map above). It was beautiful. Its a small resort city. Basically, we had eat there and did some walking. The nice part was our short trip north to the Nestle Chocolate factory. You may recall that I went there before. Well, this time...the timing was PERFECT. We missed the last tour, so the lady said we could go by ourselves. Tour- not that great. Chocolate tasting room- AWESOME! Imagine being in a room, alone, with 15 different varieties of chocolate out for free tasting. Let's just say that we both got sick.

This last weekend, we went canoeing. I'm not really sure why, but I've really wanted to do this for quite some time. The canoeing was quite fun and peaceful...except for the fact I managed to get a foot of water in the rear end of the canoe...Molly had nothing. Honestly, I thought the scenery was going to be a lot nicer. But still, it was a lot of fun and I'm glad I did it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ups and Downs of Being an Au Pair

It occurred to me that after 25 posts (I never know whether to call them blogs, posts, or entries), I really haven't written much about being an au pair. So if you're interested, keep on reading. If not...I'd advise you to check out Hilarious website and little to no au pair topics.

The life of an au pair is full of ups and downs. Many more ups come during the times spent not "on the job." But the ups which do come from the job are very rewarding. Basically, these fall in the categories of either "cute moments" or "little brother moments." The downs, though, really don't come from the kids at all. Its more about living away from home and watching the kids. That's a contradiction...I'll explain later.

UPS (not the delivery company)
I REALLY wish that I had more specific "cute moments" to share with all of you, but I have a horrible memory. I'm going to make a much better effort this time to share some of these with you.

As far as the "little brother moments", those are more general. As we get to know each other more, I feel more like an older brother to these two rather than a parent. I think all you parents out there will know what I'm talking about. I really don't have the long-term investment as a parent would have. While I want these boys to be good the long run it doesn't really matter to me. I'm more like an older brother. I want to set a good example for them because I love them. My proudest moments are when I see Macsen treating Aiden like a loving older brother. More and more, he's helping Aiden when he doesn't understand something. He's being more and more patient with him. And they are playing very well with each other. Here are some examples of "little brother moments":
  • When they got home from their vacation, the boys came running up to me giving me hugs and kisses and trying to recap their entire month within the following 30 seconds.
  • When asked if they wanted to go to the park, for the 2nd day in a row, Aiden responded with a resounding "Yay! Yoo Woo!". Macsen sheepishly replied, "No". I talked to Macsen about sometimes doing things that he doesn't want to do for the good of the whole, and he changed his mind. I thought that showed great maturity.
  • I'm sitting here watching them make some crafts, and Macsen's helped Aiden with several small tasks (tearing masking tape, glue, etc.).
Now for that glaring contradiction. Watching the kids can be tough sometimes, but the kids themselves don't really provide me with any problems. They are really good kids, but its tough to watch kids all day. Cuteness can only last for so long and then it turns into annoyance. This is really difficult to explain. Maybe its the lack of stimulation from interacting with kids all day. Or maybe it's their constant motor that wears me out. I don't know...but its tough.

Secondly, living away from home is difficult. What's especially hard is living in someone else's home. Nothing against Greg and Juliette, for they've been fantastic to me, but the lack of independence and the lack of my own family is a large annoyance. I LOVE to live on my own...buying my own food, cleaning house the way I like to clean, etc. When I live with my real parents back home, I don't get that much independence, but living with people I love eases that problem tremendously. Here, I get neither. Its tough.