Sunday, May 25, 2014

Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Oh My!

Bonjour everyone!

Last week was the kids vacation, which meant I had vacation as well. So off I went with some other au pair friends to Eastern Europe!

It was a bus trip for international students/au pairs/any one wanting to travel on a budget/etc. We left Monday night about 20h00 and we headed for Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Baden-Baden (Germany). It was a 6 day/ 6 night trip (with two nights we slept on the bus….not fun).

The first night we slept on the bus and arrived in Prague by morning. The weather couldn’t have been better. Our hotel was a bit of a walk from the city center and on top of a hill. Prague is located at the bottom of a huge hill, so walking to and from the hotel was certainly a work out, but I was able to indulge in some sweet bread and local cuisine/beer sans guilt. WOO!

The first day we headed into town, visited gorgeous buildings, walked along cobble streets that tore up my feet, saw the John Lennon graffiti wall where a man sang Beatles song with his Bob Dylan-esq voice, visited the astrological clock strike on the hour in a coo-coo-clock manner, and then visited one of the most beautiful synagogs in the world. When dusk fell, we all bought beer for ONE EURO and walked around town laughing, talking, and people watching. It was perfect, until it was time to walk back to the hotel….up the never ending hill of doom. Needless to say, my calves were shredded by morning.

The next day we had until about 4pm to play in Prague until we left for Vienna, so we just wandered around to take it all in one last time.

We left for Vienna, but had to stay over night in a hotel in between Prague and Vienna, so the second evening was uneventful. By morning, we left early and headed to Vienna. We arrived 3 hours later and once again, PERFECT weather. Our hotel was once again a bit far from the city center, so we decided to figure out the public transport. Once we made it into town we visited the grande palace of Sisi which was like a miniature Versailles. Gorgeous, with tons of statues, fountains, and a long walk through the gardens to the beautiful palace. There were street performers playing instruments in the gardens as well.

After the Palace, we wandered through parks, past huge fountains near some of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen, and people constantly stopping me to ask for directions. Me, being the only blonde girl in a group of girls from Mexico, I guess I looked pretty local or something, but that’s anyone's guess. My most favorite area was the Museum Quarter. It looked like a University campus quad, but with more trees, and the buildings surrounding the park were mammoth, rococo style structures. I could have stayed there the rest of the day and been perfectly happy. We ended our day by going to a music festival that made me feel like I was back in Chicago! Beer tents (one promoting Jack Daniels by flying American and Confederate flags whilst playing Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash in the background...pretty funny), loud music, drunken fools, and the smell of smoked meats. The band playing though was not the best, but definitely a treat to watch. 3 middle aged men (probably Dads) were singing their Austrian hearts out to Italian classics like “Mambo Italiano”, “Bona Sera”, and other classic hits. They singers were SO. INTO. IT. It was absolutely hilarious to see, but everyone loved it (including this drunk Italian guy that kept singing to me. How authentic). After the festival we stopped to get more ONE EURO BEERS and sit in the middle of town to people watch.

The next morning we had until about 4pm again to wander through Vienna, so my good  friend and I went to the famous concert hall for an inside tour. It was amazing! We saw two of the concert halls, including the most famous where television shows have been filmed and the famous/prestigious New Years concert takes place. After we were feeling oh so musical and cultured, so we went to the Mozart Museum. Then, we were off to Budapest!

We arrived in Budapest about 7pm and our hotel was about a 20minute metro ride to the city center, so the girls and freshened up and went into town for a night out. We had dinner at this Hungarian restaurant and had Hungarian beer and big meat dishes with the best potatoes ever. Plus, it was all under 10 euros! Everything in Budapest is so inexpensive it was insane! After our amazing meal, we went out to a trendy bar just around the corner and had a wonderful time.

The next day we only had until about 4pm to sight see, so we bought tickets for a Hop on Hop off bus tour around the city. It was perfect! We say gorgeous buildings, markets, the beautiful Parliament building, different squares with huge monuments, and even a Castle that was replicated after Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. By the end of the day we were all exhausted. However, when we arrived back at the hotel to wait for our bus to take us to Germany, there was an issue with the bus and we ended up staying in the hotel lobby for two hours until the bus was fixed.

Eventually the bus was fixed and we were on our way. Since it was our last night we had to sleep on the bus. We arrived in Baden-Baden by morning and it was beautiful. It was like I was walking through the set of The Sound of Music. Gorgeous mountains, beautiful buildings, a lovely river that flowed through the town, and the whole place was filled with flowers. It was Sunday morning when we arrived so the town was dead, but we all found a nice cafe to have breakfast and then spent the day hiking through the mountains, walking about town, and enjoying a lazy Sunday. We left about 4pm and headed back to Lille and arrived about 10pm. I had such a wonderful time. Budapest was certainly my favorite city of the trip, but all the cities were special in their own unique way.

I don't have much more time left in France, but I know before I leave I have a few more trips up my sleeve. Until then, back to watching the kids and being a chauffeur.



p.s. I'll post pictures soon. I am having technical difficulties. Sorry!

Adventures in Belgium

Living in the North of France, I am lucky enough to live right on the Belgian border. Literally a 15 minute drive. It’s nuts. In fact, I know many people that ride their bikes to and from Belgium. It seems crazy to go from one country to another by simply driving, walking, biking, etc. sans passport. Alas, it makes for great day and weekend trips with friends. Especially considering Belgium has a lower tax on beer than in France. AMEN!

My Belgian trips thus far have included: Brussels, Bruges, Ghant, Da Haan (Beach town), Tournai, and most recently, Bellewaeder Amusement park with the kids.

My trip to Brussels was with my friend from Morocco. She and I stayed two days and two nights in the city just next to the Grand Platz. It was so beautiful! That was my first time in Brussels and I fell in love immediately. It is such an international city with so much to see. Definitely livable in my book. We spent the first day sight seeing around town, gawking over the Grand Platz beauty, and indulging in Belgian waffles and chocolates. That night, I had sent a Facebook message to those 3 students from Chicago and Southern Ohio that I met while on the train to London a few weeks prior. They all lived in Brussels so I figured I’d ask if they wanted to meet up for drinks since our encounter was so weird and fun. The girl and the guy from Ohio said of course! The guy from Chicago was back home for a wedding. But the 4 of us went to the coolest bar I’ve ever been to called “Delirium”. It has over 2,000 different types of beer! The place was huge. We all had Belgian beers made by monks which were super good and we all had such a fun time.

The next day my friend and I took the train out of Brussels to see some museums about 20 minutes away. They were all located near each other on this huge park with running paths, horseback riding trails, and lakes. It was absolutely gorgeous. The train ride was lovely too. The views were spectacular! We spent the whole day wondering around the park and stopping in the museums.

Bruges was wonderful. I had been once before with my mom back when I was in high school, but this time it was with some other au pair friends and just before Christmastime. I love Bruges. It looks like something out of a fairytale with swans, medieval buildings, a canal that runs through the whole town (which have tiny boats that remind me of the Disney ride, It’s a Small World). There was a Christmas market in the middle of the Grande Place with an ice rink too. It looked very German. Each little market stand looked like a wooden log cabin. It was TOO adorable. We stayed in Bruges for just the day and then headed back to Lille that night. It was such a lovely time.

A few weekends ago, the previous au pair for this family (Hannah) and I drove up to Belgium on a Saturday and a Sunday. Saturday we drove to Ghant which is very similar to Bruges with its canals and medieval buildings. We ate lunch in a pub, watched some soccer (Scotland was playing, Hannah’s country), then spent the day walking around and people watching. We headed back to Lille that night and then the next day drove up to the Da Haan beach. It was a perfect day! Sunny, warm (too cold to swim though), and the town was so perfectly beachy. It almost looked like we were on the East-Coast back home or in Charleston. It didn’t seem like we were in Belgium. We sat on the beach, grabbed some lunch, and finished off the day with some gelato. I love Belgium. The people are so friendly, the country is beautiful, and the fries are to die for.

Tournai is another small Belgian town that my friends and I go to because it’s only a 15min drive from here and has lots of great bars and restaurants. That’s probably one of my most frequently visited cities since being in Europe. It’s always a fun time with great people and great (cheap) beer.

My last trip to Belgium was to take the kids to an amusement park called Bellewaeder. It was during their vacation so I took the 3 kids and one of their friends. The park was actually a lot bigger than I had anticipated, but still much smaller than say Disney or 6 Flags. The park was beautiful with tons of trees and a zoo throughout. Each area of the park was split up into different countries and continents. Since all the Belgium kids had just finished their school vacation we basically had the park to our selves. It was totally cool. We could just stay on the rides because there was no one in line. Unfortunately, that didn’t work in my favor when I told the boy (Hugo) that I would ride the super fast, super twisty, and super loopy roller coaster with him. I swear, he made me ride that thing at least 7 times, each time in a different seat to make sure we had maximum thrills each time.

We spent the entire day at that park and we all had the best time. The workers had to kick us out at the end because these kids wanted to keep riding everything. Needless to say that night the kids and I were exhausted.

I love Belgium and I am always happy to take a trip there. I only have 2 months left as an Au Pair so I will surely make at least on last trip to Belgium before I go.

See you all soon!



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Claire and the Italians

Bonjour everyone,

I figure since my last travel blog post was about my experience in London (months ago), I should fill you in with my travels after London.

Here we go: VENICE

The Monday after I arrived home from London (with some red itchy spots on my hands, but no big deal, right?) I flew to Venice, Italy with a friend. We took Ryanair which is a low cost way to fly around Europe. It’s literally an airbus where you pick any seat you want and you are allowed only one carryon which cannot weigh more than 1 Chapstick, 3 tootsie rolls, and some pocket lint.

The first day in Venice was quite nice. Beautiful weather, and it really was gorgeous! The canals, the gondolas, the gelato….ohhh the gelato.

 It was great! I would highly recommend passing through. 

Our first day we walked along the labyrinth streets of Venice. Each tunnel we walked through opened up to either a grand plaza, cute shops, and one unique little book store that turned out to be such a wonderful find. It was like a best kept secret of Venice. I wish I could recall the name of the store. It was filled with old books, new books, comic books, and books in every language from all over the world. There were reading nooks and even a small patio with a staircase made of books to look out over the canal.

Definitely stay for a day, but any longer and it all gets a bit redundant. But anyway, those red itchy spots that I noticed after London began to spread...

The next day I was covered in them and was painfully itchy, so we went to a pharmacy to find a cream. All the lady had was some Zirtec which would take a few days to really do anything. Thus, we went to the hospital where hardly anyone speaks any other language except Italian (lots of hand gestures were crucial. Mamma Mia!). I tried speaking French and English to the dermatologist, but it was like explaining the deliciousness of peanut butter to the French….They just. Don’t. Get it.

Eventually, the dermatologist decided I needed blood tests done on my home planet and would then need a dose of steroids to cure the rash. After a minute of mental breakdown I decided I would call my mother, 4 am her time, and simply say “Mom….I’m at a hospital in Venice…” Sorry mom. Next time I’ll open with something that doesn’t sound so life threatening.

The only thing I could do then was to make the decision to fly home to Lille early and see a dermatologist there. So the next day my friend and I headed home. I saw a doctor, got some prescription meds and creams, and was back to normal in about a weeks time. I still have no idea what that was all about, but it sure made for an interesting story I guess?

All rashes and hospital trips aside, I had a wonderful time in such a unique city. On our last night we decided to take the cheap route of traveling by water and take their version of public transportation: Water bus. It was cramped, full of loud Italians, but there was a small area outside in the back where I was able to see the gorgeous architecture all lit up and reflecting off the water. It was like the whole city was glowing. It was a perfect end to a not so perfect trip.


Love you all!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, New Family

I’m back! Seriously…

Get ready for a ton of new information. Let us just canon ball into this, shall we?

I changed French families. No hard feelings of course. My old family just needed to have their time alone with all the problems the mother was having with her pregnancy and it wasn’t fair to me to be robbed of a true au pair experience. The mother did not lose the baby (major miscommunication, but that’s what you get with language barriers. C’est la vie). However, the mother did reenter the hospital 3 more times after that first hospital visit due to major contractions and the baby being way too low. Thus, she had to remain on bed rest for 3 months and counting (baby is due end of February and shouldn’t have any problems if he comes sooner now). Therefore, we mutually decided to go separate ways once I left for Christmas back home.

Just after our decision, an au pair friend of mine suggested I move in with her family after Christmas because she was finished as their au pair as of Christmas time. She just raved about them (as did another close au pair friend of ours). So I then interviewed with the family, met the kids, and now I am back in Lille, almost settled in with them: My new family!

I watch 3 kids. 2 girls, Alix (9) and Jade (11), as well as 1 boy, Hugo (12). They are all so welcoming. I already feel part of the family. I will only be speaking English with the kids and only French with the parents. The kids attend a bilingual school though and lived in Hong-Kong for 3 years, so they speak almost perfect English!

Tonight we had a traditional French dessert after dinner that is typically eaten for the new year. It’s a really flaky and sweet cake that has a hidden, ceramic, little toy somewhere in it. I swear the French have some serious fun putting small, choking hazardous objects in sweets for children (i.e. Kinder eggs). Survival of the fittest I guess…? Anyway, the one who finds the toy in their piece of cake wins and is literally CROWNED king for the day. Traditionally, the youngest member of the family sits under the table whilst everyone closes their eyes, except one person who cuts the cake. The child under the table really threw me off...

But the winner was… (drum roll)


America for the win! Or perhaps they all just surrendered the piece with the toy to me….


So far so good here. Lots of plans of traveling in the near future as well as friends visiting soon. All in all, life is good. Keep on keepin’ on.

Gros bisous à tous!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cheers From London!

This past weekend I took the ridiculously fast, 1 hour and 20 min train ride from Lille to London town. I was a bit nervous to take the train at first knowing that it would be going under the water, BUT I knew London would be too fun to pass up. I left Friday evening after getting Cleo from school and off I went to visit a friend. 

Now...get ready for this train ride experience....

ready?! ok...

I took my seat with 3 other passengers, about my age, 2 guys and 1 girl, that were making their way to London from Brussels. At first we didn't talk because they thought I was French and I just wanted to relax and listen to my music. However, I couldn't help but hear their American accents and conversations of Chipotle and shopping at J. Crew. I knew I had to ask where they were from...

They all answered with a friendly smile and in unison said "Chicago!"

....shut up...

So I had to ask where in Chicago. One guy was from Libertyville (a town not far AT ALL from Hoffman Estates where I'm from), then they said they all work for a finance company that originally had them all working in Deerfield, IL (again...a town I visit quite frequently back home). For now though, the 3 Chicagoans continue to work for the same company, but in Brussels. As we continued to discuss all the things we missed most in Chicago, the conversations changed to Universities and where we all graduated. When I said I went to BGSU, the other guy looked at me in awe and said "you Ohio?"

to which I replied "of course!"
He then tells me he is from Dayton, OH and the other girl is from Cincinnati, OH and that they both graduated from Miami University.

That's right....the other guy is not only from Dayton....but more specifically...Beavercreek.


Small world, RIGHT?!

We immediately bought beers on the train and gabbed the rest of the way about Chicago things, Ohio things, and Dayton things. By the end of the trip, we were the loud Americans on the train. It was incredibly funny and serendipitous. We are now all Facebook friends and will hopefully see each other again soon.

London Time!

Though my weekend was a short visit to London, I can't help but constantly miss such a lovely city. Friday night my friend and I went to dinner and had a quiet night in since I arrived late that night.

Saturday we went to Borough Market which was wonderful! It is this huge market where there are tons of different booths with foods from all over the world. Tons of smells, colors, languages spoken, weird food, delicious food, everything you could ever want was in this cool warehouse type structure. After meandering around we decided to try some duck sandwiches (seemed to be a big favorite). Oh man...they were incredible.

This is right by a cafe just across from the Market. Too cute!

After we had lunch it started to rain so we walked along the bank of the Thames and had some coffee for a bit. Then continued our walk to Westminster and past Big Ben just as 3:00 struck: Perfection.

We saw Buckingham palace, St. James park, and finished off sight seeing by taking the public transport of the double-decker red bus back to West London where my friend lives. It's such a charming area with quiet streets, cute shopping, and classic English brownstone type flats.

 We stopped for a couple pints of Guinness at a local pub to watch the Rugby game where my friend attempted to explain the game to me. I'll tell you...Rugby is one hell of a sport. Really fun to watch though! I think I'm hooked!

We finished off a full day of walking, sightseeing, and being "oh so English" at a cute little restaurant where covers of the Beatles played in the background speakers while we enjoyed dinner.

Considering that it's England, I had some seriously delicious meals...I was impressed.

(It's still not France though)

Sunday afternoon I returned home to Lille and converted back to my French speaking mind. It's incredible how quickly I can lose my French when I don't speak it for a matter of days...

I could easily live in London. It really is a wonderful city. Maybe one day I'll be able to afford to rent a cardboard box there. I should start saving now...

Cheers! Bisous!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm Back, I Swear...

Hi everyone! It has been a while, hasn't it? Sorry...

Honestly not much has been going on here. It has all been pretty routine. Only recently have things gotten a bit hectic. I'll try to sum up this past month.

Let's begin:

Cleo has finally stopped all her ridiculous 5 year old tantrums and drama with me. Hallelujah! I think it just took some time for her to realize just how totally cool I actually am. AMIRIGHT?!

Recently I am trying to find Halloween activities to do with her since Halloween isn't really celebrated here much. In fact, it is nearly impossible for me to find a NORMAL pumpkin here. Turns out Fred and Perrine know a farm that we can drive to and find pumpkins to carve. Hopefully we will do that soon. Also, Cleo is obsessed with finding things in nature, like acorns, leaves, snails, and buckeyes! Here, buckeyes are called "Marrons", or "Browns" in creative...but I figured it would be fun to make the edible kind with Cleo. So, after weeks of hunting, I finally found ingredients to make edible buckeyes that I love so dearly, but my thighs loathe. Fair warning: Peanut butter is ridiculously hard to find here. Though I eventually found two types of PB in the "English" section of the international isle, you know, right next to the spotted dick, marmalade, and bangers and mash, obviously. Results on how the buckeyes turn out: Pending.

I've really been enjoying my one French class. It's 3 hours twice a week with other foreigners like me, so it is really nice to meet people that are all in the same boat. I am making lots of new friends and really loving Lille more and more each day (minus the copious amounts of rain this town gets).

I've been having to work a lot recently to help out around the house more with Perrine. Her pregnancy hasn't been an easy one. In fact, the last month she has been having a lot of pain and contractions from the baby because he is way too low. I won't go into details, but unfortunately last night Perrine went to the hospital as a precaution and for her safety and, sadly, had to have the baby way too soon. So tonight the baby didn't make it since it was only 5 months along. I am not sure what will happen next since Perrine comes home tomorrow. I think Fred is the one having the most difficult time because he was so excited to have a boy. Good news is that Perrine is fine and healthy though, and next week she will have the house all to herself to relax since Fred will be on business in China, Cleo will be on holiday with her grandparents, and I will be on holiday in Italy!

Yes, next week starts the 2 week holiday for classes, so I will start off my holiday this Friday by heading to London for the weekend to visit a friend. Then, return Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning I'll be on my way to sinking Venice, followed by the sunny beaches of Palermo, and finishing off the week in Milan. Perfecto! I'll be going with my Friend that I met through couch surfing that has truly taken me under his wing as a protective brother or cousin would (so enough with the boyfriend questions, DANG Y'ALL). He and I will be able to speak French the whole week so I can retain some French while I am on vacation. Should be a fun week!

Last weekend I was in Paris with a friend, which was lovely. I've only ever been in Paris in the cold, early weeks of spring, so to see Paris in Autumn was a treat! Gorgeous fall colors, flowers, and warm sun in the crisp air. Needless to say, it was tourist mania, so we opted for the local route of people watching in cafes, drinking obscene amounts of Café au Lait's, visiting my favorite bookstore Shakespeare & Co, and walking along the seine (mostly to avoid all the dog merde on the sidewalks). It was also the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame, so there was this garish, stadium-bleecher-go-team-go-structure just in front of the cathedral so people can just sit...and look at Notre Dame...
The stupid thing blocks the entire view of the church and looks hella dumb, but whatever...C'est la vie.

Anyway, I think that sums up this past month. I can't believe it's almost been 2 months since I have arrived. Time is flying by! I am truly loving this experience and wait to see where my progress in French will be in the months ahead.

OH! I forgot to add that I am now officially on the tennis team here in Tourcoing. So for now I just have tennis practice on Wednesday evenings and will start to play matches against other towns in spring I believe.

Now, I promise to be better about keeping you all up to date on how I am getting along. Pictures to come as well!

gros bisous à tous!

(big kisses to everyone)


Sunday, September 15, 2013


Sorry I haven't been writing posts recently, but not much has really been happening here. The usual mornings and afternoons to myself, then get Cleo from school at 4:30, play time, bath time, and dinner time by 7:30. Then I'm free. Friday though, while riding the bike of doom to get Cleo, I think I hit a curb and broke something. While I walked the bike through the skinny sidewalks, the tires kept locking up and I couldn't even push the darn thing! Thankfully the future nanny of the future baby here was walking past and noticed I needed some help. She's SO nice, but doesn't know a single word of English, so it was a bit difficult to assess the bike situation. We ended up having to carry the bike (Cleo chariot with it) the rest of the way to the school (about 2 min walking). After I got Cleo, the nanny talked to the school director about my bike. He fiddled with it but even he couldn't figure it out. He unhooked the back tire break and then the bike worked! But I only have the front brake working. Yikes! 

So Cleo and I continued on home until about halfway when the tires started to lock up again. So the rest if the walk home I pushed and dragged the bike while Cleo walked along side me, remaining occupied by all the snails and seriously huge slugs in the dewy grass. 
Fréd and I will try to fix the bike before the weekend is over, but his Dad has been in town visiting all weekend so the bike is still broken. 

Friday night we all enjoyed a nice dinner together where I basically sat and listened to conversations between Fréd and his dad (both huge tennis fans) talk about American and French tennis players, French football, and other topics I didn't quite understand. Overall, I'd definitely say I'm improving in my understanding of the language!

Saturday afternoon I met up with two couch surfers, both fairly new to Lille, like me. One girl from just outside Paris who moved here last week to attend University, and one guy from Barcelona who is here to work. They were so nice and so much fun to go out with!! We walked around Lille a bit, went to the art museum because it was free for the weekend, and then finished off the day with some beers at a small bar. We mostly spoke English because the guy needed to improve for his job. He told us that his boss wanted him to improve his English more so needless to say I was thrilled to speak English. It's much easier for me to be myself when I speak English with new friends. With French I can't really express myself much thus making it harder for me to introduce myself and get to know others. The girl speaks English, Spanish, and French. The guy speaks Catalan, French, and English. It was so impressive to listen to them rotate between all 3 languages if they couldn't find the right word in one language. It inspires me to really work on my French and perhaps one day learn Spanish too! But one language at a time here...

The 3 of us have already talked about going to Belgium for a day, traveling together, etc. I think (and hope) we will all become some great friends here. 

It's been very dreary and rainy here all week. And chilly too! Fall has definitely arrived. I miss Chicago autumns though. They are much nicer, dryer, and prettier. 

Today (Sunday) I will probably meet up with my friend from Lebanon for lunch just to get out of the house today. I always feel a bit weird just staying in my room when the family is home so I try to get out as much as possible: rain it shine. 

I'll keep you all posted on the bike situation. OH! And I start my French class tomorrow, 9am-noon. First day jitters! Hopefully I'll find the right classroom. This university is the worst about posting room numbers and where to go. They literally just put up pieces of paper around the buildings the day of class saying "if you're taking this course - it's in this room number".... Awful. 

Culture shock is really starting to hit me and I've been a bit homesick, but that's nothing a little Christmas music can't fix for me!! I know I know...Christmas music, Claire? Really? Already? 


Loads of bisous!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This week...

This week was the return of classes for all the students of France. However, Cléo was not too thrilled about the earlier bed time and earlier morning starts, as any child would.  Let me explain how I get Cléo to and from school with a visual. 

What is this picture you ask?

 Why it's Cleo's chariot and my certain end of existence. 

This is what I transport Cléo to and from school in. If I don't die by the end of the school year then I might as well be an Olympic athlete with the amount if coordination and strength it takes to use this; literally, uphill both ways. I dread the days of rain and snow...

Cléo and I leave about 8am so I have time to wheeze and die on our way to school as my lungs shrivel up into raisins. I dump Cléo at school at 8:30, and then I make the trek back home; avoiding small cars, cafés that take up the entire sidewalk, and small children. Then, I finally make it home to sit in the shower, holding myself, as I cry rocking back and forth. I will certainly lose 10 years off my life. 

After, I have the afternoon off to go to the little fruit and vegetable stand just across the street, lounge in the sun, or meet friends in Lille. 

At 4:00 though, I must be home to head out on the death trap and retrieve Mademoiselle Cléo from school with a small snack waiting for her in her chariot. At 4:30 the zoo lets out and Cléo and I head home, again, me, eyes bulging, lungs shriveling, life ending. 

Typically after school, Cléo plays outside til about 6, then after an ocean of tears from Cléo not wanting to come in, I get her to take a bath or shower while I cook her dinner. Dinner for Cléo is typically a microwave meal specially picked out by her mom. Easy for me, but I'm sure the lack of nutrition aids in this child's insane mood swings. Not so fun for me. 

Cléo typically cries a good hour all together every night. Between coming inside, to having to take a shower, and going to bed, the child cries at the drop of a hat. Tips on how to control the tear flow?? Accepting any and all advice now please!

That's a typical school day for me and Cléo. But today I was free because I had to go to the University near Lille to take my French placement exam. I did fine, found the class ok, and was able to meet the teacher. She looks a lot like a Native American hippy, with two, long, grey braids on either side of her head and wearing long dresses from probably 1996. She's super cool though!! I start my class the 16th, Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Hopefully with this French class I will improve my French language skills and meet more people in the same boat as me. Results pending. 

Oh, and Scribbles says hello and sends bunny kisses to all! 

Bisous! (Kisses)

***Bisous is a typical way to say bye to friends and family. Kind of like "cheers!" Or "love!"