Where: Fraize, France
When: September 10-26
Host: Family with two young sons
Our second host was a family with two little boys, ages two and six. The husband was kind enough to come pick us up from our first host since it was less than twenty km away. The husband works in Strasbourg and stays overnight for most of the week. The wife works from home. They have a beautiful home in the Vosges mountain range that overlooks the town in a valley.
This second workaway experience was very different from our first. The main differences were the living arrangements and the family dynamic. Grace and I went from sharing a futon to having our own separate bedrooms. The family had converted a separate wing of their home into rooms for workers like us. The area was connected to the main house through a hallway that opened into the kid’s room, so at night and during their nap time we had to be extremely quiet and tiptoe around.
Luckily, for me, the kids had a regular nanny and we were not expected to take care of them. The boys were adorable and sweet. The eldest was homeschooled and extremely smart. He was also very sneaky. He didn’t know any English, until it suited him to understand. The youngest was going through the terrible twos and had serious separation issues from his mother. That kid could scream! But the boys played very well together. There weren’t any iPads, tv, or any electronic games. They had LEGO’s, stuffed animals, a swing set, and trampoline. After the nanny would leave for the day, Grace and I would try to entertain them while their mother cooked supper. The boys really enjoyed sitting on the couch with me and looking at picture books. The eldest would tell me the French word and have me repeat it. Of course, I would completely slaughter the pronunciation and he would fall into a fit of laughter. His little brother would follow suit, simply reacting to his brother’s silliness. I took a little hit on my pride every time, but I never claimed to know French and they had fun with it.
While staying with this second host, I learned that I could, in fact, survive as a vegetarian. Although, I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. The wife is a vegetarian and the kids were amazing about eating whatever she put in front of them. Grace hates most vegetables and did not take it as well. We ate a lot of rice, vegetabels, and tofu. One meal consisted of noodles, bell peppers, tomato sauce, and a soy based meat substitute. It almost tasted like spaghetti. The meals weren’t bad, but definitely weren’t as filling and sustaining for us. The husband is not a vegetarian and would always bring some meat with him when he returned from his work week. It was a beautiful sight to see him coming in with the small ice chest of meat.
The work we’ve done here has included deep cleaning the rooms downstairs, weeding the flower beds, planting fruit trees, and gathering walnuts and apples. This last task was probably the hardest. There are two donkeys kept in the small field with the fruit trees, and they enjoyed harassing us for our buckets of fruit instead of eating them off the ground -because that obviously made the most sense. Grace was shocked by the electric fence when opening the gate, so we were extra careful when climbing under the fence to get to the apple trees. As I was maneuvering my way under the fence, focusing on not touching the electricity or the nettles (a plant only conceivable by Satan himself), I did not notice the poison ivy I bumped elbows with. I paid dearly for that mistake.
I think our biggest project while there, was to paint the kid’s playroom. Grace and I spent days moving furniture and toys, taping the room off, putting down plastic, and painting the room. Of course, this time could also be described as a Pistol Annie’s karaoke party. I’m sure everyone in range thoroughly enjoyed the acoustics.
Overall, it was a good experience and we are excited to pack up and travel to our next host on a horse farm in Belgium.