Friday, February 25, 2011

It's Friday :)

I am so glad it's Friday! I did not have a stressful week or anything...I just really love these weekends where we hang out with no real plans. Last weekend led to a beautiful walk on Nice's promenade and a climb resulting in a gorgeous view of Nice. The weather was perfect...warm (60's) and sunny, and everyone was enjoying the day, especially since Carnaval is currently going on in Nice. Carnaval is basically Nice's version of Mardi Gras. It lasts for a few weeks with lots of events, parades, and fun. Kids are continuously walking by with painted faces. Anyway, I do not have a lot of news, but I did want to share my pictures from last Saturday.

Here we have the king and queen of festivities (I don't know this for sure...we just assumed).

And these are the view from above (plus a few of us).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Skiing in the Alps

A few weekends ago we went skiing in Auron, a small ski resort town in the lower Alps, just 1.5 hours from Nice by car. I was very excited to be doing some real mountain skiing, especially Alps skiing. Here we are, ready to go.

The mountains were gorgeous, of course. Unfortunately the snow was not so great. I actually could have used some powdery Michigan snow. It had not snowed in a long time, so the snow was very hard and pretty icy in many spots. I was enjoying it anyway.

The slopes were so long compared to what I am used to, which made it pretty fun. However, I had a slight problem. I love skiing and have been skiing a few times a year on average since 5th grade. I'm not great, but I enjoy it and am not afraid of the more challenging runs. I should have rented skis, but used those of a friend instead. They were way too long for me (the same length of Olivier's), they were the old style, and I just could not cut the snow well with them. Anyway, this inability to use my edges well was not helpful on a rather steep and icy slope. Unable to slow down and slipping every time I tried resulted in the biggest fall I've ever taken in my life while skiing. Somehow I ended up sliding face first on my stomach, skis above my head (no they didn't even fall off!) for a very long time. I could not stop because it was too icy. Finally it flattened out enough for me to slow myself down and finally stop. Luckily Olivier stopped when he heard me yelling as I slid down the hill and was able to help me. It took a few minutes to get back on my feet, but finally, I was up. Other skiiers stopped and found my hat for me, which I lost a few yards back. Needless to say, I was all of a sudden quite afraid to continue. Beind halfway through the run, however, I had to finish it off. I skied back and forth, falling often from trying to slow myself down. I was so angry with myself for all of a sudden being so afraid and I couldn't understand why I seemed to have no control over myself. After my fall I was slipping all over the place. After another run or two I suggested we stop for lunch. I really just wanted to get the heck off of my skis for a while. We stopped and ate as I clumsily cut my pizza (it was not the kind that was easily eaten with hands) because of an injured thumb. As we were gearing up to get back to the slopes I thought I should tighten my boots because they felt pretty loose. Somehow (during the fall I'm guessing), they had both come undone. No wonder I had no control! They were the kind that close from the back with one clicky thing. I have no idea how it happened, but they somehow detached. The difference after that was remarkable. Duh! Finally I could control myself. I was still a little shaky from my fall and very sore, but I tried to enjoy the rest of the day, while avoiding the steepest slopes, of course.

I was glad to leave by the end of the day, but I am anxious to get back out there (with rented skis) and actually enjoy skiing a little more. I was just so sore and anxious after my fall that I wasn't really having fun. If the weather cooperates, we'll be going again this weekend. I'm hoping for better luck! I guess I can be glad that I was not badly injured, just lots of bruises and a sprained thumb.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Walks in Beausoleil

I just thought I would post a few pictures that I have taken during my many walks with Baby Charlotte. Walks keep her happy, which means that we take a lot of them! We tend to stay in Beausoleil, France, but sometimes when we are feeling adventurous, we take LOTS of steps down to Monaco.

The first is picture taken from the balcony of the family's home in Beausoleil. In the background, you can see part of Italy sticking out into the Mediterranean.

We see lots of olive trees...

These reminded me of little trumpets emerging from the stone wall.

Unfortunately we've been stuck inside most of this week because of the rain. I guess it had to happen sometime. Before this week, it only rained once since I arrived.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Settling into the Routine

Geez, time flies. I have been here for a month now and it seems so much fact, I feel like I'll be back in the states preparing my next trip before I know it. There were days before I was working and was home alone all day when I was missing home, but now that I have a routine consisting of working all day and hanging out with Olivier for a few hours when we get home, I am feeling much more comfortable and at-home here. I talk to my parents so often on skype that it makes being far away so much easier. I even get to see my dogs via skype.

I'll be honest, I am not missing the cold at all. I do like Michigan winters for about a month because they can be beautiful, like after a fresh snowfall. After a few weeks, I'm ready for spring, so I guess it's good that I am here now and will be returning in April for a while. Sometimes I like being outside in the winter, but really, I prefer the weather here. I just hate being cold all the time. The weather here isn't warm right now, but it's comfortable...low 50's and sunny pretty much every day. I just wear a light jacket and I am good to go. Plus mountains are accessible for skiing purposes. In fact, we are going skiing this weekend, providing that our plans work out. Olivier was sick the last time we planned to go skiing.

Some good news for me is that I have my babysitting job for two extra weeks in March. That is two weeks where I would possible be job hunting without much luck. The babysitting job is really better than anything I had hoped for. It is temporary (necessary, since I'm leaving in April and July), 40 hours a week, and good pay. Plus the baby is so sweet. I get to catch up on my American tv shows (or blog) during nap time :)

I finally have all of the paperwork Olivier and I need in order to be pacsed. A PACS is basically a French civil union. This will help me get a visa, get on the national health care system, and eventually obtain residency, which will allow me to get a real job. There are several other rights that this will give us. I have to go to the local court house, show them the paperwork, and make an appointment to be pacsed. It only takes about a week to get an appointment, so hopefully we'll be pasced in just a few weeks. That will be a huge weight lifted. Gathering all of the paperwork and translations needed has been a job in itself.

That is about all that is new here. Really, I have just been settling into a normal routine. Olivier has been practicing his English a lot with me and at work. Actually, we have been watching "Friends" almost every night to help with his I love it! It makes us both laugh all the time. Olivier says it is funnier in English (sometimes a lot is lost in translation). That is all for now. Hopefully I'll be blogging again soon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Job for February

For the month of February, I actually have something to do other than sleep in, wander, and sit at my computer. Thank goodness. It can be nice sometimes, but I need to have things to do, places to at least feel like I did something with my day. As I've said before, part of my "job" before was to find some sort of small job in order to make a little money and have something to do. I was searching without much success every day, and finally, last Friday, I ran across a posting for a childcare job for February. It was 39.5 hours a week during regular working hours, but it was in Beausoleil, France, so not within walking distance. However, there is a train and I was not in the position to be picky. So I replied with all of my information, contacts and resume, with hopes that I might get a reply.

Luckily, the mother called me that night and wanted to know all about me and wondered if I could meet the family the next day. So on Saturday, I made my way to Monaco by train and walked to their home in Beausoleil (just a 25 minute walk from the train station). I talked with the parents and met the baby girl, discussed the job, and left hoping for the best (they were meeting someone else after me). I was called back that night and asked if I could start Monday.

So here I am, sitting in a living room in Beausoleil with a view of the Mediterranean. I can even see Italy in the distance. Every morning, Olivier and I take the same train to Monaco, and then we head our separate ways after a short walk together. The train is about 25 minutes along, and it runs along the water, making for a beautiful start to the day. I spend my day with the sweetest baby girl. Her name is Charlotte, she is 3.5 months old, and she is so calm and happy. She doesn't even cry when I put her down for a nap or when she wakes up. She just rests in her crib happily. She takes two naps while I am here, so I have a lot of quiet time. She's actually sleeping right now. The parents are both wonderful, kind people. This couldn't be a better arrangement. It is only for February because their nanny is having an operation, but that works for me since I am leaving for 1.5 months in April anyway. So for now, that is my life during the week. Olivier and I both work all day and then spend our evenings together. I am looking forward to another weekend together. We don't have any plans, but it's just nice to have down time together.