all about ME (as per usual)

I know that most of my readers are friends and family and therefore know me pretty well! However there are some pretty random facts about me that may not be known by many of you. So here I go..

  1. My middle name is Joanne, which is the name of my aunt. It is also the female form of the name Joseph, which my family has about 100 of.
  2. My favourite food is tacos. I am a firm believer that no taco is complete without tomatoes and sour cream
  3. The thought of having children makes me sick *gag. No offence.
  4. I have been to 16 countries and I plan on visiting 20 by the time I turn 20.
  5. In September I will be going to school to become an accountant.
  6. Math was my worst subject in high school, so we’ll see how it goes.
  7. I constantly tell stories about my sisters but I always forgot to mention which sister I’m talking about.
  8. My family calls me Princess Julia. You can’t make this stuff up.
  9. I can drive manual but it stresses me out BIG TIME. Automatic will always be my favourite.
  10. I keep a journal and I try to write in it every night. I started journalling because I wanted to buy Kate Spade journals.. lame, but true.
  11. I hate cleaning but I loveeeeeeee organising.
  12. Two of my biggest hobbies are online shopping and makeup. They often go hand in hand.
  13. When I was in Uganda, the most recent time, I read one novel a day for five days. I could read a good book allllll day.
  14. I love the guitar but cannot play it, not even remotely.
  15. I can play the piano though!! (kinda)
  16. I have a coin collection, which I completely forgot about until this very instant.
  17. Peanut butter is my definition of paradise.
  18. I have ridiculously expensive taste for a current poor au pair and a soon to be poor college student.
  19. My list of countries I want to visit is just as long as my list of countries that I have already visited. I’m just getting started, people!!
  20. My entire extended-immediate family is a whopping 12 people.
  21. My favourite stores are thrift stores.
  22. My ideal guy is tall and has a nice smile, everybody who knows me knows this.
  23. Dog over cats EVERYDAY of the week.
  24. I once made my friend Patrick drive 3 hours to go get ice cream with me.
  25. Buying gifts for people is one of my favourite things in the world.

 

That’s it folks. 25 random facts that you may or may not have already known about me. You’re welcome.

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Afreaking love Africa

Afreaking love Africa, I freaking love Africa, GET IT?!

On March 31, 2017 at 3:00am I left my cozy apartment  in the outskirts of Paris and began my journey to Mityana, Uganda. The whole trip there including took me about about 20 hours, which wasn’t TERRIBLE. It wasn’t great but it certainly could have been worse.

In Uganda I had the most incredible experience. It was so amazing getting to spend time with my Ugandan friends and it was just as great getting to meet so many new friends. My trip consisted of building relationships with people, reading the Bible with a new believer, handing out 100s of sweets to young children, visiting people in the hospital, dancing with the cutest kids ever, falling in love with every baby I laid eyes on, blessing people with the money that people so graciously donated to me, visiting a church, and just doing everything I could to bless the people of Uganda while in turn being blessed 1000x over. My trip forced me out of my comfort zone on so many occasions and for that I am so grateful.

The couple that I stayed with have an AMAZING organisation, “Helping Cope Through Hope”. The work that they do, in not only Uganda, but also Peru and Zambia is incredible. It truly leaves me speechless. If you would like to learn more about their mission please click here.

Here are just a few of my favourite photos from this (almost three week) adventure.

family heritage

The final leg of my mother and my voyage was to Tallinn, Estonia. This is a place that is very dear to our hearts seeing as her father, my grandfather, is Estonian. I actually had the opportunity to visit his homeland with him a few years ago. It was an experience that I hold dear to my heart and am extremely grateful for. Unfortunately my mom never had the chance. Writing this is extremely difficult for me because, it was just two years and three days ago that my Papa left this world. Spending time with my mom in such  beautiful and significant country was the highlight of my trip. I could go on forever, which would bore you all to tears so instead I will simply share a few of my favourite photos.

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** I suppose it wasn’t really the final leg seeing as we did explore Paris together before she left. Howeverrrr I now consider Paris to be home so it was the end of my voyage.

life update

I know I haven’t blogged in while (16 days to be exact), but I haven’t really had anything “blog worth” happen. So I decided just to give you all, or at least those of you who care, a quick update on how January has been thus far.

Although nothing too remarkable has happened it has still be an amazing start to the year.  I just recently applied to universities and colleges for this upcoming September. I applied for 8 different programs at 6 different schools (all in Ontario). All the programs I applied to are in the business/accounting field. I thought that taking this year off would really solitify my plans for next year, however I am still unsure if I really want to be an accountant. I guess only time will tell.

In January I also started tutoring English. I tutor two young boys for 1.5h a week. It pays really well and is not too far from home, so basically the perfect gig. It is very easy (considering the children are already bilingual) and it forces me to not waste my Saturday mornings in bed. ALSO, I don’t know very many au pairs who wouldn’t like making an extra 100 Euro a month. In the first week of January I decided to book a trip to London, England. In February there is a two week scholar vacation, in which I am not needed to work. I will be taking the train to London and spending one week there, with family friends. I have not quite decided what I will be doing for the second week. Any ideas?

On Friday the 13th my best friend/sister got engaged to the love of her life. I was out with friends when I got a FaceTime call at 3:30 in the morning telling me the good news. I was the VERY FIRST person they called, so I’m kinda a big deal.

The most recent thing to happen is my Auntie Jo arriving in Paris. She arrived yesterday and will be staying until Sunday. Paris is her favourite city in the world and I cannot wait to explore it with her.

As for the whole “au pair thing”, work is going really well. I feel like I have 100% gotten the hang of it. A fun little story for you..Yesterday I asked Theo to put his dishes away after dinner and he said no. He then challenged me to a game of rock paper scissors, loser has to clean/clear the table for the rest of the week. I saw this as a win/win because normally I do it by myself every.single.day. I ended up beating him (obviously) and so now he has to do dishes for the rest of the week. #aupairwin.

**Most importantly this January I started watching Gossip Girl and have FALLEN in LOVE with it, it is amazing. That is all.

Here are just a few photos taken in the past few weeks.

 

Thank you for all of your constant love and support.

 

home for the holidays

On December 19, 2016 I made the long(ish) journey from Paris, France to Montreal, Canada. I was picked up in Montreal by my parents and together we drove 5 hours until I was finally home. At home I was greeted by my two lovely sisters Brianna, who is two years older than I am and Tori, who is two years younger than me. We see each other as not only sisters but also best friends (at least that’s how I see it and they better feel the same way).

At home I was extremely busy, I think I spent three days out of the ten? days actually at home. Despite my extreme exhaustion, it was still an amazing time. I was able to get together with all of my family and a lot of my closest friends.

A few highlights were seeing my childhood best friend Ashley on Christmas night, going on a breakfast date with my soul sister Abby, spending time with Patrick, spending boxing day with my best friend and her family (Bassingthwaite’s), hanging out with Lauren and her brother (I guess), running into my family’s closest friends, the Londons, my single hour spent with Gabi, and seeing my dad’s side of the family which I normally see only once or twice a year. I also enjoyed every second spent with my aunt, uncle, cousins, grandparents, parents, and sisters. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really realise how much I missed my parents until I saw them again.

(Some of my friends from high school also planned a little surprise get together for me that I actually wasn’t able to attend, but I was still touched).

I can’t put into words how much all my friends and family mean to me. I am so loved and supported and it truly means the world to me. I absolutely love the Christmas season and I felt so blessed to have been able to come home for the holidays. After four months of being away  it was great to be able to spend time with all of my favourite people.

 

p.s I am writing this in my brand new studio. I would love to do a little “apartment tour” if anybody is interested. Just let me know.

I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and I would love to hear your stories.

the 5 phrases every French au pair knows

Learning a new languages one of the more difficult things I have ever done. It is an exhausting journey filled with “oh I finally understand this” to “what the hell?!?” to even  “there is no way they are speaking French right now, maybe it’s Spanish? German? Mandarin?” (in case you were wondering 11 times out of 10 it’s French).

Whether you speak french fluently or not at all here are the top 5 “need to know”phrases/ words that au pairs know just as well as any English phrase. Just as a side note, this list consists of phrases that you may need to say to your children and phrases that you may hear your children say to each other every 30 seconds.

  1. Tais-toi which is equivalent to shut up. Although I *never* ever * say this to my children I swear to you I hear this phrase at least 7 trillion times a day. Normally whenever my 13 year old guy says, he is either extremely annoyed at his sister or he is trying to get her to not tell their parents that he hit her. Whenever my 8 year old says it she is normally  being haughty. Either way this is the #1 phrase ever French au pair either needs to know or already knows (a little too well).
  2. Connard  aka asshole. I know that the translate says it means asshole but I think that the ACTUAL translate is a little tiny bit more mild. This word is normally said when describing bad drivers, stupid people in general or when my kids are arguing (which normally only happens as SOON as a parent returns home). In fact, tais-toi and connard often go hand in hand.
  3. Dépêche-Toi / hurry up. This is the French phrase that I personally use the most. My 8 year old walks painfully slow, takes the longest showers, eats like a turtle, and takes 10.5 years to change her clothes. It is for those very reasons that this phrase has become my “go to”. It’s a definite must know in my opinion.
  4. Que ce qui se passe or in english what is happening. My children never really say this phrase but I whisper it to myself multiple times a day. I mostly say it  when my children start fighting for no reason, I’m confused in French class, I’m watching French commercials, or when I’m driving (French people are crazy).
  5. Ce n’est pas grave which means it’s okay/ it’s not serious. I say this phrase quite often, as does my boy. Normally we say it when my girl gets herself in a fit for no apparent reason “oh don’t worry, ce n’est pas grave”.  I also say it to my friends when I spend foreverrr waiting for them *cough cough Molly & Alice EVEN THOUGH IT IS très grave!!

So there you have it. There are lots of other little phrases that I feel are important to know (such as basic manners and questions) but strictly from an au pair’s perspective these ones are the ones I can guarantee every au pair living in France knows, or will know in the VERY near future

patience is a virtue

I am generous (mostly), I am passionate, I am dedicated, and I am a good friend. I am a lot of things, but at the same time there are lots of things that I am not. I am not easy-going, I am not particularly kind, and I am certainly not patient. Whenever somebody says the well known expression, “patience is a virtue” I always mentally say, “a virtue that I just don’t possess”. It really is terrible. I roll my eyes when people aren’t promptly on time, I huff when I am asked to wait, and I avoid lines at all costs.

Being here in France has taught me more about patience than I ever thought possible. I find myself constantly waiting for one thing or another and I definitely don’t hate it as much as I used to. I have compiled a small list of things that I now wait for regularly which low key annoys the hell out of me (but I’m working on that, don’t worry).

  1. bus and RER and tram and train and uber and and and. IT NEVER STOPS. Unfortunately the bus that I take for school comes only once every half hour. Which is especially annoying when I arrive five minutes early only to find out the bus decided to arrive six minutes early. I feel like I am constantly waiting for transportation, which I am not used to seeing how in Canada I just drove myself everywhere (or my ever so gracious parents drove me around).
  2. children. I get off my bus at 4:15 everyday right outside of my girl’s school (which finishes at 4:30). The timing is pretty much perfect, except for the fact that her class is never actually dismissed until 4:45 or later. It’s terrible. I also have to spend an hour waiting for her at horseback riding once a week. Not only that but children truly do “test your patience”. Whether it be by having to explain something multiple times, never cleaning up after themselves, or just by constantly bickering.
  3. my apartment. When I took this job as an au pair I was told that I was going to have my own studio in my family’s garden. It was originally supposed to be finished on September 1, then the 2nd week of September, then November 1, so on and so forth. Needless to say the apartment is STILL not finished so I am still “patiently” waiting. (The good news it it will definitely be finished by December, yay).
  4. French Bureaucracy. Holy Hell, I can not begin to tell you how difficult the French are with all of their bloody paperwork. I just finalised my OFII (Visa stuff) yesterday after being here for almost 3 months!! I feel like there is definitely a faster system.
  5. friends. I have pretty great friends, we are unorganised but I guess that’s all part of the fun? ANYWAYS, whenever we decide to head into Paris I normally meet them on the train because I live a few stops away from them. In saying that they never get on at the time they are supposed to so I end up having to wait in the cold for 30 minutes to an hour. I definitely wouldn’t mind it as much if there was a way to wait inside and not in the freezing cold weather.
  6. language. This one has probably been the hardest for me to deal with. I have no idea why, but I had this unrealistic expectation that after a month of living in France I would be almost fluent in French. It has been three months and that is the furthest thing from reality. My French has definitely improved, but it is difficult, tiring, frustrating, and it takes a lot of patience and effort.

Patience is something that being in France has forced me to work on and I can definitely see small improvements in my attitude towards waiting around. Patience is something that I feel like I will never master. I need to continue to working on it, but hey, nobody’s perfect, right?

 

 

 

happy, happy, happy

My dad, being the weirdo that he is, enjoys watching the show “Duck Dynasty”. One of the characters in this show has a catch phrase, which is, “happy, happy, happy”. That is exactly how I have been feeling since moving to France.  Happy. It honestly feels like I have been living a dream. My friends are all amazing, Paris is beautiful, my family is fantastic, and I truly have never been happier.

Today was one for the books. It started off with a group of au pairs meeting up at Angelina for “lunch”. Angelina’s is an extremely popular (and expensive) restaurant known for their chocolat chaud. I honestly cannot begin to describe to you how RICH and thick this hot chocolate is. It is truly impossible to explain. That being said, if you ever find yourself in Paris it is definitely something you should check out. Just beware that there most likely will be a queue.

After that I headed over to the Aquarium of Paris in order to take “my kids” on a little adventure. Today, being November 11th, is a bank holiday for France. On bank holidays almost all of the stores are open but all large offices are closed. This means that my host parents had the day off. I offered to do something with the kids in order for them to be able to run some errands. The Aquarium was surprisingly small but it was fun none the less. Although, I am fairly confident that I had a better time than the kids.

After we were done with the aquarium we ate crepes while sitting in front of the Eiffel Tour. It was amazing, it felt like the epitome of everything Parisian. After that I bought some flowers for my host mom and the kids and I headed home. It was a great day, and an awesome start to my long weekend.

adulting? kind of? help?

Not going to lie, in the two months and five days that I have been in France as an au pair a lot has changed. I have had to grow up and become “an adult” (wipes away tears). BUT ACTUALLY.

The most obvious way I have grown up is the fact that I am responsible for people other than myself. I have to take care of two other people, TWO. I make sure they get home from school, do all of their homework, eat, shower, don’t kill each other, brush their teeth get to all of their 30,000 activities on time, make sure they get to bed on time, and MAKE SURE THEY DON’T KILL EACH OTHER. To be perfectly honest with you I never do all of my homework, I often forget to eat, and I am always late for everything the list of my downfalls goes on and yet here I am making sure everybody else’s life stays put together.

I am going to try to explain these next two without sounding too much like a princess, bare with me here. Basically what I want to explain is the fact that I was fortunate enough to pay for very little of my costs. My phone bill, car, gas, car insurance, and other random expenses were paid for by my parents (which I am so grateful for). I always had an allowance and although I worked and saved money I didn’t really have to think or worry about it that often. Moving to France has changed that. I am trying to do this as independently as possible which to me means without relying on my parents finances. I know, I know, “welcome to the real world”. I have it great here as I don’t have any real “bills” to pay other than my phone bill. However when it comes to random things such as; personal hygiene products, museum tickets, clothing, vacation costs, and school supplies I have to pay for them. I am now paying for things that I never would have had to pay for before. It really pains me every time I have to fork out €50+ for an “unexpected” cost. Although I must admit this experience is making me understand the importance of tracking finances and budgeting.

The second “princessy” thing has to do with my car…Let me start this off by reminding you that I live in Canada (which as you probably all know gets HELLA cold in the winter). In saying that, it is necessary for you to “preheat?” your car and remove the snow from your windshield and windows. Sometimes you even have to dig your car out of the snow!! The point of this is that this week it got pretty chilly here in France so I had to de-ice my car.. WHICH despite the fact that I live in Canada I am not used to doing. My dad is an absolute sweetheart and so often times when I got in my car in the morning my dad had already gotten in all prepared for me (thanks dad). I miss that. Waking up early to turn your car on and de-ice your windshield is practically the epitome of “adulting”.

Just incase you are wondering this what my car after a fairly light Canadian snowfall…. img_6931

On a kinda similar note THE FREAKING DISHWASHER. In Canada I *almost* always put my dishes in the dishwasher but I probably only emptied the dishwasher once a week (if that). Here in France, I empty it every. single. day. I feel like I just assumed the dishwasher was only run once a week?? Now I know that it ran 24/7 my mom just emptied it every day. lol, thanks mom. All that to say, I went from someone who was fairly tidy but not great to someone who not only has to PERFECTLY clean up after myself but also after two  (sometimes 3) other people!

It’s currently 11:30 pm and I can’t think of anything else to write even though I am sure there is more. So I will leave it at that. I haven’t fully decided if “adulting” is a good thing or a terrible thing. Let me know what you think!

ALSO ON A VERY EXCITING NOTE I HAVE CHANGED MY PLANS AND AM NOW COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. YAY

happiest place on earth (x2)

This past weekend was definitely one of my favourite ones thus far. It was extremely busy yet SO much fun. On Friday night I did absolutely nothing, which was great. My friend Alice introduced me into this Netflix original show called “Outlander” and I’m addicted. It’s the COMPLETE opposite of what I would normally watch but,  I’m loving it. Basically what I’m getting at is that I watched it all Friday night.

I woke up at 5:30 on Saturday ew in order to catch all of the necessary buses and trains that would ultimately take me to Disney. Yay. I absolutely loveeee Disney and since I live in Canada I unfortunately have only been a few times. This was however my very first (and definitely not last) time at Disney, Paris. The reason I wanted to go so badly was because it is approaching Halloween and I absolutely love love lovee Halloween decorations. The first things my friends and I did was buy some super cute Mini Mouse ears, obviously a necessity.

Unfortunately the day was a little bit chilly but that was a perfect excuse to pick up some hot chocolate. The hot chocolate cost an arm and a leg but you only live once? I guess? It was so good. We ate lunch at Disney as well and it was by far the GROSSEST thing I have ever attempted to eat. Think of airplane food but like way worse (I didn’t even know that was possible). I mean I was quite hungry and that little bite took me 15 minutes to eat (and it’s all I could eat). Plus, the service was terrible.. like atrocious. Yes, I am over dramatic but STILL. So, if you ever find yourself at Disney, Paris avoid “Victoria’s Home Style Restaurant” at ALL COSTS.

Okay, just a few more Disney photos and then I’ll move on to Sunday.

 

Okay, so onto Sunday. I basically slept the morning away because a full day at Disney left me beyond exhausted. I was really excited though when my host mom invited me to the Foundation Luis Vuitton. In case you don’t know what it is, it’s an art museum and cultural centre which opened in 2006. The building itself is a beautiful work of art. There is a new exhibit entitled “Icons of Modern Art. The Shchukin Collection”which is only running from October 22, 2016 to February 22, 2017. This collection pays tribute to Sergi Shchukin, a Russian collector of French modern art. The exhibit consists of 130 masterpieces from Shchukin’s collection. I personally know almost nothing about art but I was still in awe of all of the beautiful pieces I was able to see. I would definitely recommend checking this exhibit out if you have the opportunity. The only thing I recommend is buying the tickets online because if not you may be stuck in the line for a few hours! (Also if you like Picasso’s this is the exhibit for you, there were so many)

 

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So that was my exciting weekend. I am absolutely loving Paris and everything it has to offer.