Monday, August 22, 2016

The Birthday Bust

Salut, mes amis!

I am home again! Unfortunately, I left Hodel's house a bit earlier than expected, but it was so good to see ma famille again. It is difficult to be without them during the summer months because Juliette and I celebrate our birthdays in the summer. Juliette just turned 13 on June 9th . . . and as you probably know, my birthday is on August 9th. Joyeux Anniversaire à moi!

This year, we didn't really do anything special. My best friend Maëlys was out on holiday with her parents. Juliette's friend Élodie was back home in Toulouse. Mes parents even seemed distracted on the day, rushing back and forth mysteriously. It was all very . . . suspicious.

I was about to have to take them for check-ups when they brought home Chinese takeout and Frappucinos for dinner. They've been on a major health kick lately. They will only cook anything firmly on the Paleo diet. That means no sugar and no noodles, so when they brought home takeout, I could only stare in wonderment. When I inquired, they simply brushed it off by saying that these were birthday treats and that they had to run. They had somewhere to be. "Somewhere to be" on my birthday? D'accord, je comprends.

Juliette and I started and finished dinner alone. I will admit that it was sort of nice without the parents around. For once, Juliette felt she could really open up at dinner. She's usually too shy to speak up with our parents around. By the time we'd drank the last of our Frappuccinos, I was stuffed beyond belief and relieved that there wasn't a birthday cake to follow.

As it was already quite late, we decided to start opening presents. The first present was from Papa! He had graciously refurbished the old Wii for me to use. Yay! He'd gotten a Wii U for himself and had promised a while ago that I would get the Wii. Isn't it awesome?

As I was admiring my new "baby",  Juliette simply rolled her eyes and handed me the next present. She doesn't understand video games at all, which is why I was surprised to unwrap . . .

. . . a brand new Wiimote and three new games, picked out and purchased by Juliette herself! She'd gotten me Super Mario Bros., Animal Crossing, and Mario Party 8!

The last gift was from Maman. I knew it wouldn't be video game-related because Maman barely approves of Papa's gaming habit, so what could it be?

It was my own iPad! My mom even got me a pink case to go with it. Now I can watch movies on long trips without having to lug my laptop everywhere. I feel so tech-savvy having a tablet, haha!

Just as I was downloading apps for my new iPad, I heard the apartment door open. My parents were home . . . and I'd already opened all of the presents! Zut alors! I was in for it now. I tried to stuff the presents back into the original gift bags, but I was too late. I heard someone come into my bedroom. Was Maman going to take my new iPad away already?

Looking up from my somewhat cowering position on the floor, I noticed that it was not Maman at the door at all. It was . . .  it was Nathalie! Nathalie Thibodeau was my best friend from my old American boarding school, Fair Hollow. But it couldn't be, could it? Nathalie lived all the way in Montréal, Québec. It wasn't possible for her to be in Paris, France right now, was it? She hadn't told me . . .

"What are you staring at, silly goose?" Nathalie interrupted my reverie, "Don't you recognize me? I know my hair is a little longer than it was the last time you saw me, but I promise that I don't bite!"

I blinked, making sure the redheaded girl in front of me wasn't an illusion. Luckily for me and my psyche, she wasn't. I got up and raced to Nathalie's side, "What are you doing here? You didn't tell me. . . " I stopped in mid-sentence, at a loss for words.

Nathalie laughed, "Haven't you heard of a summer holiday? I've been wanting to visit Paris, and I've been wanting to see you again, so my parents surprised me with plane tickets . . . and here I am! I would've told you, but your parents thought it would be a nice surprise, you know for your birthday and all. That's why they were acting so strangely earlier, or so they told me. "

"It was a nice surprise," I muttered, before turning closer to Nathalie and giving her a hug, "I can't believe you're really here. I've missed you so much! You remember my sister Juliette, don't you?" Juliette had come up beside us and was shyly looking on.

"Bien sûr, of course I do! In fact, Juliette was in on the surprise . . . weren't you, Juliette?"

Juliette reddened, not liking being the center of attention, "Well, y-y-yes, I d-d-did know a little bit . . ."

Nathalie jumped in, "We hope you're not mad about this surprise because we have another surprise, or I have another surprise anyway. Um, do you remember my older sister Anne-Marie? Well, she's at university for the summer, but there's one more person I'd like you to meet . . . "

Before Nathalie could finish her sentence, another redheaded girl wearing sunglasses strolled into the room. "Salut, tout le monde! Je m'appelle Nadia!" she smiled, taking her sunglasses off and extending her hand.

"Yes, this is my twin sister, Nadia! Nadia, this is my best friend, Sophie, and that is her younger sister, Juliette. I am glad you guys can finally meet. Nadia's insistent in staying in Montréal, hence why she's never enrolled at Fair Hollow, but she couldn't very well stay home by herself while we went on holiday," Nathalie smiled.

"Bienvenue à Paris, Nadia!" I greeted her warmly, before turning to Nathalie, "I knew you had sisters, but somehow I never knew that you were a twin. How funny! At least I can tell you two apart."

"Yeah, we are actually identical, but Nathalie here doesn't like short hair and refuses to try contacts out," Nadia laughed, poking her sister, "Anyway, we're both so glad to be here. Nathalie has been obsessed with the idea of visiting Paris for months . . . and when I say obsessed, I mean OBSESSED! It's all she's talked about. She's even forgotten to attend some skating practices because she was dreaming about Paris, I'm telling you . . ."

Nathalie reddened, ". . . I HAVE NOT! Sisters, they really exaggerate, don't they, Sophie?

"Les filles, I think . . . we are going to have a lot of fun together, oui?" Juliette piped up.

"We sure will," I nodded, and we all laughed. My birthday wasn't such a bust after all!

Before Nathalie and Nadia went back to their hotel with their parents, we took a few group pictures. Here's one of us all together. From left to right, we have Nadia, Nathalie, me, and Juliette! Don't you just love Nathalie's green hair?

Here are just the twins. Nadia is on the left, Nathalie is on the right.

Did you celebrate your birthday already this year? What did you do to celebrate? Do you have friends who live faraway? Have they ever come to visit you? 

Ton amie,

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Very Punny Galentine's Day

Salut mes amies,

Can you believe it's already March?! Time flies when you're having fun. I am sorry for the lack of updates, but between bad weather and school, Hodel and I haven't had much time for adventures. I am very much looking forward to spring and warmer weather!

Anyway, did you have a good Valentine's Day? Hodel and I spent the holiday (we like to call it Galentine's Day, since neither of us has a sweetheart, haha) making cards for our best friends and sisters.

Hodel came up with some terrific puns for our valentines, although she had to explain most of them to me. Puns don't always translate well across languages. While I learned about why it rains cats and dogs in America, I taught Hodel a few French puns.

Here is one of my favorites:

C’est l’histoire de deux pommes de terre.
Une d’elles se fait écraser et l’autre s’écrie :
– Oh purée !

And its English translation:

Here is the story of two potatoes.
One of them is ran over, and the other says:
– Oh purée! [It’s a pun, meaning both “Oh my goodness!” and “Oh, mashed potatoes!”]

You can find more French jokes and puns at this website, if you're interested. 

 How do you like our Valentine's Day outfits? After making our cards, we spent the rest of the day indulging in leftover chocolate from Hanukkah and talking about cute boys. 

I'm sure you are all curious about whether or not I have a crush, but je suis désolée, I can't tell you that! What I can tell you is that I am thirteen, and most girls at that age have crushes. Haha! 

Hodel's mom asked us to take a goofy picture, but I'm afraid that this is about as goofy as it gets. Maybe we're just too pretty to look goofy? I don't know, but we decided to make the trees our valentines since we had such nice weather on Valentine's Day. 

How did you spend Valentine's Day this year? Did you make or buy your cards?

Ton amie,

Thursday, January 21, 2016

New Years and New . . . Injuries?

Salut mes amis!

Bonne Année 2016! Can you believe that it's 2016 already? It's hard for me to remember to write a new date on my school assignments. Does that ever happen to anyone else? Once, I was so mortified because I accidentally wrote 2006 instead of 2016. Eek!

On New Year's Eve, Hodel's parents let us stay up to watch the ball drop. We poured sparkling white grape juice into fancy champagne flutes, toasting to each other's health and happiness when the clock struck midnight in the Ukraine (Hodel's home country), France, and finally in the eastern timezone of the United States. By the time the ball dropped in Times Square, we were exhausted and ready for bed! 

Hodel's parents took this photo of us celebrating the new year. Isn't my sparkly hat cute?
Since the first few days of January were relatively warm, Hodel and I decided to have some outdoor playtime. After grabbing my jacket and a pail of sidewalk chalk, we spent hours drawing an elaborate game of hopscotch on Hodel's driveway. But it wasn't just regular old hopscotch, either. We made up our own twist on the game by combining it with Simon Says and Twister.

After a while, we decided to mix things up by adding in roller skates and a ball into the rules of the game. Unfortunately, we got a little carried away. I was skating really fast, and as Hodel was struggling to catch up with me, she tripped and fell! Ouch.

I kicked off my skates and ran to get Hodel's parents, who then drove her to urgent care. The doctors told her that she had a concussion and would have to be on bed rest for the next few days. I felt really guilty and wished it was me who had tripped instead of Hodel. Hodel reassured me that it wasn't entirely my fault and that we both should have known better. And, besides, a few days playing card games and watching movies inside isn't so bad. I would also have fun playing doctor to my "patient".

When Hodel recovers, we plan to take a trip to the zoo - I can't wait! I wonder what kind of animals we'll see? Will there be red pandas? Foxes? Snakes (eek!)?

How do YOU keep yourself occupied inside when you're sick and/or injured in bed? 

Ton amie,

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Surprises

Salut mes amis!

Joyeux Noël!  Merry Christmas! Hodel and I had a fabulous holiday together. On Christmas Eve, we decided to write letters to Père Noël asking for donations to charities instead of toys. Per usual, Hodel asked for a donation to an animal rescue. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to ask for in my letter, eventually deciding on donations for needy children in France.

When we finished our letters, we cuddled with our Uglydolls underneath the sapin de Noël and looked for a Christmas movie to watch.

We were able to watch the first of many A Christmas Story viewings on TNT - hooray! Somehow it doesn't quite seem like Christmas unless you share it with Ralphie.

Hodel's parents made us go to bed when the movie finished, but shhh! We actually ended up giggling for hours. I don't think we got much sleep at all. We were much too excited about the day ahead of us!

Sleep or no sleep, we still managed to wake up early on Christmas morning. We showered and dressed quickly, anxious to open our presents. Even though we'd asked Santa not to give us presents, Hodel's parents had given us a few things to open.

Don't we look nice? We tried to look pretty and cool, considering it was 60 degrees outside! I think Hodel was smart not to wear stockings.

Since Hodel and I got all of the same presents, we decided to unwrap everything at the same time. What did we get?

We received mystery Playmobil figurines (I got a cute old lady, while Hodel got a smart-looking flight attendant) and Disney squinkies . . .

. . . but our favorite presents by far were the baby dinosaur toys nestled in plastic eggs! We pretended to be world-famous paleontologists for hours! In a few days, we are going to see The Good Dinosaur, which we are both so excited for.

Did you have a nice holiday season? What did you do? Who did you celebrate with? What presents did you receive?

Ton amie,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sophie: Live from Cincinnati!

Salut mes amis!

I'm sorry that it has been so long since my last update. There's really no good excuse. Lately, depression and anxiety have hit me hard, and between that and keeping up with my schoolwork, I've neglected my blog. There have been many days where I've not wanted to get dressed, let alone go out for adventures.

In early December, things started looking up. My classes were finishing for the semester, and who isn't thrilled about that? I'd also received an email from my friend Hodel, asking me if I'd like to visit. Hodel and I have been pen-pals for a long time, but we've never formally met! She was actually the last traveling guest my old school in America hosted, but I was out on travel adventures of my own at the time. So, of course, I said YES! I would be happy to visit. It didn't take me long to pack a few belongings in my bag and reserve a plane ticket. I think Juliette was a little sad that I was leaving again, especially since it meant that we wouldn't be celebrating our special Polish-French Christmas together. However, I was itching to be rid of this foggy, depressive stupor I'd been in for the past few months, so I really couldn't consider my sister's feelings at the moment. I had to take care of myself. I had to go see the world, meet new people, and have an adventure . . . because that is what Sophie does best!

My anxiety kicked in on the plane ride and wouldn't go away even as I was knocking on my friend's front door. I hadn't traveled solo since 2011, when I went on a cruise to Alaska with my friend Marsali. Four years have passed, and a lot has happened. When I got home from Alaska, I wasn't sure I wanted to travel ever again. I certainly didn't want to travel for two years without coming home in between. That was fun while it lasted, but was way too much hassle in the process. But as I heard the familiar scuffling of feet rushing to open the door, all of my anxiety turned into excitement! I was finally going to meet another long-time friend, and what could be scary about that?

The door opened, and Hodel stood before me. "Salut!" I waved excitedly. Stepping inside of the house, I immediately ran up and gave my friend a hug. If I was nervous before, I certainly wasn't now!

We sat down and talked about some of our favorite things and pastimes. We talked about Hodel's love of acting and all of our favorite shows. I'm no actress, but I love watching a good performance! Hodel also loves anthropology, dinosaurs, and most importantly, traveling! She had just gotten home from a trip to Disney World, so of course I had to ask if she'd gotten to meet Queen Elsa and Princess Anna!

Since Hodel is Jewish, I wanted to bring her a little gift for Hanukkah. Unfortunately, I arrived after Hanukkah was over, but it's the thought that counts . . . right?

I think she liked what I picked out for her. I helped her name the little duck "Fransisco", a name we found too funny not to laugh at! I also gave her two of my favorite card games: UNO and Apples to Apples. Hodel saw these and dared to ask whether I'd played Cards Against Humanity. I blushed, but admitted that I hadn't! I have, however, played Fantastic Storytelling, a new game along the lines of Cards Against Humanity. I suggest you check it out if you like that sort of thing. Mike Jeavons will thank you. It's fun, addicting, and you get to create unique laugh-out-loud stories!

Anyway, it's late . . . and already Christmas Eve! I better get to bed. Although Hodel is Jewish, her family is interfaith, meaning that they will make an extra effort to celebrate Christmas with me this year. So . . . we have a lot of plans, which I can't wait to share with you! Stay tuned!

If I don't write an entry beforehand, Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas! What are your plans for Christmas this year? If you don't celebrate Christmas, what do you celebrate instead?

Ton amie,

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ma fête d'anniversaire avec ma famille!

Salut mes amis!

Le 9 août a été mon anniversaire! Je suis 14 ans maintenant. Cette journée, Juliette a eu une surprise pour moi: elle a préparé ma nourriture préférée! Elle a invité ma meilleure amie, Maëlys, à partager cette fête avec nous  . . .

It was my 14th birthday on August 9th! Juliette surprised me with a special feast full of my favorite treats. And, if that wasn't enough of a present, she invited ma meilleure amie, my very best friend, to join us! Now, I know what you're thinking. Doesn't Nathalie Thibodeau have the honor of being my best friend? Sure, she is . . . en Amérique! Nathalie and I have had the pleasure of knowing each other since I first started studying abroad, but there is one girl who has known me my entire life. That is Maëlys Marie Lefèvre!

Like me and Juliette, Maëlys (pronounced "MY-elise") lives right here in Montmartre. She attends our school, Collège Antoine Coysevox, and has been in many of my classes since only the beginning of time. Isn't she gorgeous? Her mother immigrated from Haiti to study in Paris, only to meet and fall in love with a very handsome Frenchman. After opening une boulangerie-pâtisserie, a bakery/pastry shop, together, they had Maëlys and lived happily ever after. Maëlys likes to bake with her parents and produces the best macarons I've ever tasted, sure, but baking is a mere hobby for her. Her real passion is music. She's a devoted cellist and is determined to pursue a professional career in music one day. She's enamored with the idea of attending The Juilliard School in New York City and the idea of visiting America in general. She's like I was several years ago - she's never stepped out of France and has a natural curiosity for the world. I'm sure she will go far in life, but for now, I'm just happy goofing off with her as I celebrate my birthday!

After Maëlys and I greeted each other, we sat down to enjoy the meal that Juliette had worked so hard to prepare. We sampled fresh bread and cheese, candied fruit, fruit tarts, and chocolate-covered strawberries. There was a bottle of sparkling water to wash everything down with - yum! For dessert, Maman had ordered a chocolate truffle cake, which smelled wonderful. I couldn't wait to try a bite.

I felt like a queen sitting at the head of the table. I certainly looked the part! Juliette had dressed me in one of my finest dresses: a blue frilly frock loaded with sequins! Juliette chose a coordinating dress in pink for herself.

Here's a close up of our food. Doesn't everything look delectable?

Maëlys really enjoyed the chocolate-covered strawberries! 

When we'd finished our main course, Maëlys and Juliette sang "Happy Birthday" to me. I made the best wish I could think of and proceeded to blow the candles out. Er, right. I pretended to blow the candles out. In her haste, Juliette had neglected to put candles on the cake, but I turned a blind eye. She'd gone through so much trouble to arrange this little fête that candles didn't really matter at all!

Once our bellies were full from the chocolaty deliciousness, we decided to open presents. Maëlys eagerly pushed hers forward first. It wasn't wrapped, but I didn't care. She had given me a whole box of macarons!


I couldn't wait! I untied the ribbon and pushed my way through the delicate wrapping paper, trying to pick a flavor to try first. I knew I couldn't go wrong with pistachio, my favorite. I savored each dainty bite, trying to make the macaron last as long as possible. If there's one thing that I dislike about macarons, it's that they aren't big enough! At least I had a whole box to myself . . .

Before I could devour another macaron, Juliette pushed her present towards me. She'd wrapped it in a shiny silver box adorned with a gold bow. What had she given me?

When I took off the lid of the box, I found the contents as shiny as the wrapping. Of course! My sister always outdoes herself when it comes to presents. She'd given me a gorgeous pair of gold and crystal earrings. How elegant! She said that they were swarowski crystals and that the earrings had been custom made just for me. Won't I be the belle of the ball when I wear these? 

She also gave me a matching earring and bracelet set, made with dainty pink and white beads:

The next present was sent all the way from Canada! Nathalie would never forget my birthday, but I think that she and Juliette were in cahoots when it came to selecting my presents. She sent me another pair of earrings! These were silver and in the shape of the Eiffel Tower.  I smiled, remembering how much I'd complained to Nathalie about Grace Thomas' exclusive earring set and how much I wanted them for myself. She is so thoughtful!

There were two more presents left, one from my American host sister and one from my parents. I decided to open the one from my host sister, Maura.  She'd packaged it in a huge gift bag filled with white tissue paper. What could it be? Reaching deep inside the bag, I pulled out a thick booklet of stationary. Cool! Merci beaucoup, Maura! I'll take this as a hint that I need to write a letter to you, right?

Maman, who had been hovering nearby with camera in hand, handed me the present from her and my father. It was wrapped in a familiar-looking burgundy bag, which meant that I had been saving the best present for last. I had dropped several hints about what I wanted throughout the summer. Were they listening?

Yes! My parents bought me Grace's City Outfit from American Girl! Hooray! I have been wanting this red sweater since it debuted in January, and the shorts are really cute, too. I can't wait to wear this outfit to school this year. Merci, Maman et Papa! 

So, here's my entire present haul. I think I made out pretty well this year! I got a new outfit, a stationary set, three pairs of earrings, a bracelet, and a whole box of macarons

 We concluded the birthday fête with a few more photos. First, here's one of me with both Juliette and Maëlys:

Then we took individual portraits: 

 Finally, Maëlys and I took a photo together:

Thanks for celebrating my birthday with me! Tell me, what was your birthday like this year? What presents did you get? If your birthday hasn't come yet, what do you want to do to celebrate?

Ton amie,


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