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Already Friday

It is already Friday. Sometimes time goes so slow and sometimes it just flies by. This week had a little of both. Let's jump backwards to Tuesday evening.

Tuesday evening I went to the Youth Group at church. It was nice to be able to talk about God for a bit (we read Mark). But we also sang some churchy songs (LOVE singing), and we eat and chat together in fellowship too, which is really cool. I have about 5-6 years on most of the young people in the group, and at least 5-6 years less than the group leaders, but I feel right at home because they are A: welcoming and B: my french isn't really good enough to comprehend a more somber group. Teenagers here are basically the only ones that speak with intonation and emotion, they use their hands, and they mostly talk about school and friends, so I know more of the vocabulary. I got to take home some of the apple tart (their version of apple pie, except it has no top, and they slice the apples in round bits first and lie them in a spiral), Ardennaise pie (tastes just like Easter bread, except there are no eggs in it, and it is shaped like a pie - it is named after the Ardennes, which is the region I live in), and some ham loaf (I love this stuff, because it has chunks of ham and green olives in it .... yum yum yum!).

Wednesday was teaching and observing in the morning, lunch with Anna (inside a restaurant this time because I forgot to put money on my lunch card and inside because it was raining), and then the afternoon with Alice. Alice is one of the Youth Group leaders, and the hostess from the place I went to dinner a week or so ago. She is fabulous, and we talked all afternoon. I am going with her and her family to a retreat during the Armistice long weekend in November. Singing, go-karting, more singing, eating, and then more singing really sounds like my idea of a good weekend. We also have exchanged music and stories and such, because she is really interested in America and vice versa. She and Hugues, her husband, recently moved into their new apartment, so there are boxes everywhere (feels like home after the past few years). But, the coolest thing about this, was that she now has a real oven, which she didn't have before. She had bought a small portable oven though, which she now had no place for and was going to have to put in storage, so instead she lent it to me to use for the year. This is fabulous, because I can use it as a toaster or an oven, and if I can find a bar that fits, there is even a way to rotisserie a chicken it in. I am very excited. And if I haven't mentioned it before, everyone here has been super nice.

After our long chat, we picked up Martin, the baby, from the nursery and she drove me home (it was difficult to walk carrying an oven). Anna and I attempted quesadillas in the oven, but they did not taste good because we had to use swiss cheese. However, I used enough salsa on mine to really drown out the flavor. The peppers helped too. Then I ran off to volleyball practice. I am not even going to begin to try to explain how bad their coach is, because she is generally a nice woman, but she is entirely clueless and can't actually do anything but serve. She told me I didn't set properly, but she can't back-set and more times than not the ball is spinning out of her hands. So, I promise not to go on about it except to say that I had a pretty good time, and the physical training we do to warm-up has been great (combination abs, dorsals, arms, speed, jumping, etc. but all rotated through on a 30 second or 1 minute basis. Loving it!). The other women are wonderful, and most of them love the game - even if you have no talent a little heart will take you a long way. The best part is getting to hang out with a different gropu of people and a whole new set of vocabulary.

Wednesday night required a shower and then Anna and I stayed up for ages talking. Thursday morning I got up late, and then we had breakfast. I did some internet research and taught my classes and then observed another. When I got back to my room, I talked to Alice on the phone and she wanted me to babysit for a bit, so Anna and I went over there. Alice and I have worked out a deal that for now, I'm going to babysit or cook dinner for her in exchange for being allowed to use the washer. Not that I wouldn't have done either of these things anyway, but I felt really bad about just using her washer. She said she hadn't had one when she was in college, so she completely understood, and wouldn't hear of me going to the laundromat. (Super nice!)

Side note: I say for now, because the Proviseur (like a headmaster) told me mast week that he has ordered a washing machine and two small TV's for the assistants. Anna and I are thirlled about being able to do laundry more frequently, and hopefully without as much dripping if the washer has a spin cycle! If you aren't up to date, we made a mess last time. Also, it should be noted that many people here do not have clothes dryers. They mostly hang things on the radiator and such - this includes underwear and the like. In some places, if you live in an apartment, your landlady will do your laundry and then hang out your undergarments on a line! (I've seen this more than once, and it recently happened to a fellow assistant!) I would be so embarassed!

Thursday evening was therefore spent running a load of wash and watching Martin with Anna. Martin is getting his third tooth, so although a generally congenial baby, he was trying to bite on anything he could to relieve the pain. After babysitting, Anna and I went home and I hung up the wet clothes on the lines in the bathroom and over the chair, and from some hangers on the radiator, and of course, on the radiator. With clothes everywhere, we went out. We grabbed some kebabs (I really am loving these things) and sat for a bit and ate dinner (it was after 8 and we were starving!). Then we went to the movies. We saw Les Noces Funebr├Ęs, or Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride. Anna fell asleep during the movie (not sleeping in days will do that to you), and so I had to explain it to her as we were walking home. The problem was, for those who haven't seen it, is that there are songs. They have translated the songs, or written new ones in French. Songs are really hard to understand generally, and in character voices, it was even more difficult, but luckily there were enough visual clues to help me out. It was definitely a good film, especially if you like jazz music. Danny Elfman, by the way, is brilliant. (Google him if you don't know who he is, or I'll tell you in my next entry .... a plot to keep you coming back!)

Bedtime came and after rearranging what was near the radiator, I hit the hay. I had some super strange dreams (due to having had a huge cup of citrus drink immediately before bed) and woke up at werid times. But alas, morning came, and I had a mini-baguette with Nutella and some Nesquick hot chocolate. Usually, I would have a different type of chocolate, but they really don't seem to have a huge variety here. (Plus, I tried the french kind two weeks ago and it doesn't actually taste like chocolate.)

I went down to lunch (after a little quality time with Harry Potter), did a quick internet search for my class, and then went to teach. However, there was a scheduling problem because of the parent-teacher conferences this afternoon, so I took the class to my room (because I cleaned it this morning), and we talked about our rooms, our holes, and our families. It was good, and I think they appreciated being able to see a little bit about my life (especially since I had just gotten the box Mom and Dad sent, and I had the stuff all spread out on the bed!)

Another note: After lunch, I picked up a box Mom and Dad sent me last week. It had all sorts of stuff from home, including pictures, more clothes, a stuffed monkey, Harry Potter candy, and towels. Hurray for stuff from home!

Tonight, I am going to Givet, which is a town an hour away by train. Anna and I are going to stay with our roommate from orientation, Joanna, and go to a jazz concert. We'll come back in the morning. For sure we are going to the laundromat to wash our sheets and towels (we have no place to hang stuff that big here, so we need the dryers) and then Anna's family is coming from England to visit her. I don't know what I am doing for the vacation, because I don't have work again until November 4th, but I am sure to figure something out. Even if I just take the 1€ train to all the different stops, one a day, and venture into the little towns that are near mine. Or, maybe I will call up Dad's friend in Germany and see if I can come and visit there for a bit. Or something. I am determined to think of something. I know I will keep myself incredibly occupied. Even if all I do is get rid of these sniffles and finish reading Harry Potter in french. Nah, I know I'll do more than that. Anyway, I am chatting with Travis on IM (finally got it working yesterday... yeah to Derek who was my first international IM friend from here), and so I must sign off. Leave a comment, send an email, etc. I love hearing form you all. Love always, ~Heather

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