Sunday, February 26, 2012

a special interview

I talk about my family a lot. :) I'm a very proud daughter and older sister. But, I ask you, how can I help it, when they are such cool and unique people!?! 

The other day, while I was skyping with Shorty, I decided to ask her a few questions about life for her these days, and thought I'd share them with you. She's of course, given her lovely and willing consent. :)  (My questions are in red!

This is she. My youngest sister. She's in her second year of nursing school in Kansas and in my unbiased opinion, the best nurse in training. 

What is the most exciting thing you've recently learned in nursing?
Hmmm. Probably that sudden infant death syndrome is most common in the second and fourth month of life. It’s really sad! AND the correct terminology for “goose bumps” is “arrector pili”. 

Can you use it in a sentence? 
When Erika walked outside without a jacket, her arrector pili were engaged at 90 degrees.

What is your most boring class? 
Pharmacology. It’s all about different drugs and they all kind of run together… and it’s not very interesting.
(I hope my teacher doesn’t read your blog!)

What are you  most looking forward to this week?
Going to the perk to get my last “very vanilla latte with whipped cream” before I give up coffee for lent. So I’m very much going to enjoy that cup of coffee.

What were your 2 exams in this week?
Nursing and Pharmacology

Hmm… isn’t nursing what you’re studying? Can you be a little more specific?
Cardiovascular disorders, respiratory disorders in children and health promotion in children and families.

Is it interesting?

What are the books you’re reading right now?
Eric Liddell’s biography
Nursing textbooks

If you could eat with ANYONE dead or alive, what would you eat?
Rice and sauce, plantain, and African coke. Then have a rhubarb mulberry pie for dessert. Oh! And French baguette!

Did you make your bed this morning? :)

What are you most looking forward to in the month of May?
Seeing Melissa’s pretty face in real life. :) That’s a manipulative question.

What is something that is uniquely “Erika”?
I’m very symmetrical. If you would split me in half, I’d be exactly the same. I have matching freckles on both of my eyelids and on the front of both of my legs.

What’s your biggest fear in becoming a nurse?
Giving a patient the wrong medication.

What does it feel like to have your family live on 3 different continents?
Lonely at times, an excuse to travel, and having the privilege of telling people why we are on 3 different continents.

What is the most exciting thing you've done the past 2 days?
Angela and I ran in a thunderstorm and we almost got struck by lightning, but it was really thrilling and we’re both still alive!!!

If you could create an army out of any animal, what animal would you choose?

What are your plans after next year?
I have one of 3 options: 
1.  Get my bachelor’s in nursing
2. Take a year and live with Mom and Dad and do nursing in Niger
3.  Get a job and start getting work experience.

Which one are you leaning more towards now?
NO idea! But I figure “no option is a bad option”

Give me one of your favorite Dad quotes.
“Remember T-mobile” (when Dad ("T" = Tom) was reassuring me that he'd always be available to come back to KS if I needed him or Mom; regardless of how far away they lived)
Top 5 current favorite songs:
1.       Rain in Us (Starfield)
2.       Beautiful (Phil Wickham)
3.       Yiruma
4.       Just the way you are (Bruno Mars)
5.       Love like woe (Ready Set)

Thank you for letting me interview you Shorty! I love you much much and can't wait to see you in 2 months and a few days! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

piano + cello

One of my friends, Josephine, plays the cello beautifully. We thought it would be great fun to learn a piano / cello duet, just for the fun of playing together and having the challenge of learning a new piece. 

We picked "The Swan" by the French composer Camille Saint-Saens -- you can listen to it here. Isn't it so beautiful? I really love this piece.

Saturday night we had our first practice of playing it together. It was... fun, funny, sometimes beautiful, but mostly really cool to just play together. Neither of us have practiced enough for it to sound like the youtube version, but it was so neat to play together, and definitely motivated us to continue practicing. It was, after all,  only our first time playing together! 

We had to get creative with how to hold up our sheet music, as I have no music stands in my apartment. Clothespins on the drying rack worked quite well. 

The lighting in my office is really bad, and not only was it hard to see our music, but for picture taking, it's not ideal, to say the least.  

A year or so ago, one of the students that was involved in Agape moved to Canada, and left me her keyboard -- SO generous and kind of her! It's definitely a keyboard -- not full size and no weighted keys, but it's much better than nothing, and I'm so thankful to have something to play on! 

Maybe one day when we've mastered the piece, we'll put up our own video on youtube. Ha. :)

Monday, February 20, 2012


I met Bekah in Colorado in 2006. We were both getting ready to come to Western Europe (Spain for her, France for me) for a 1 year internship with Agape. We became buddies. We tried to communicate only in French and Spanish -- she'd speak French, I'd speak Spanish. We didn't get very far. :)

Then for a whole year, we were at all of the same conferences, new staff training, seminars, etc. and just kept making memory after memory. She's SO much fun and is such a neat person.

One of my favorite times with her was in 2008 on the Camino. I think this was also a favorite time for HER as she met her future husband. We all knew they liked each other; they didn't know for sure. :)

I took these pictures one day -- before they were dating. Aren't they so cute and gangsta !?

And it was in Ligonde that she got her awesome name -- Rrrrrrrebekah. We had two awesome Latvian students with us that summer and they rolled their R's and also put a big emphasis on the first syllable -- "RAY-bay-kah". I love it. It's what I call her now.

She and Sam have been married for a year and a half and are having a baby boy in July! It was such a blessing to see her in Spain and to see her little baby bump. What a blessing to have close friends! Even though they live in different countries, and that you don't see except for once every couple of years, but then that you can pick up with and talk with as if you'd seem them just yesterday. She's pretty awesome. Sam too! :)

You're un huevo de cool Rrrrrebekah! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

"A stranger has big eyes but sees nothing" -- African Proverb

I have only lived in France for a short time (just nearing 5 years) and there are many cultural things that I am still learning.

Before moving to Rennes, I went through a really great 6-week training, full of insightful and practical ways of how to be a learner of the new culture I was going to make home. One of my favorite sessions was learning how to go from merely observing things that are different from those in your home culture to figuring out how these observations can better help me understand the culture and thrive in it. Make sense?

To do this, there is a simple 4-step process:
1. Observation (can be specific or general)
2. Assumption (we do this naturally; however, without verifying the assumptions, we can get completely off track)
3. Validation (validate your assumption -- for example, by asking a native of the country if what you assumed was correct)
4. Application (how does this help me better understand the culture and affect my life)

There are so many things that happen in one single day that seem counter-culture to me, and it's fun to mentally process these things as I learn more about Rennes and French people.

Yesterday, I had such an occasion. And I want YOU to play along and see how French you truly are!?! :)

Obvservation: Halle and I were waiting at the bus stop, when all of a sudden, on the opposite side of the street, we witnessed a small white van rear-end a car. It made a loud crashing noise, and though no one was injured, both cars were bent in. The cars pulled over to the side of the road and the drivers got out and walked toward each other to survey the damage. The girl (the one in the car) was visibly irritated and let out a "c'mon on!!" to the guy with loud gestures that matched her irritation. The van driver (the one at fault) looked like he was starting to explain something to her, when much to my (and Halle's!) shock, they leaned in and gave each other the bise! The bise -- remember what the bise is? It's the way French people greet each other; by giving a kiss on each cheek.

What had just happened!? Halle and I looked at each other with a "what was that!?!?!" look and then decided it was a GREAT example of needing to put into practice what we learned at our training.

So! Here we go: These are a few of the assumptions that we could potentially conclude from what we saw on the street:

1. Every time you have an accident in France, it is culturally appropriate to "bise" the other party as an apology for what happened.

2. In France, when there is an accident, the involved parties have two choices; 1) To file claims with their insurance or 2) to "bise" the other person as an "I forgive you and don't need your legal documents" gesture.

3. The "bise" is commonly used when greeting one's friends, thus these people knew each other.

4. French people are overly friendly with one another and are always smoochin', so who knows.

So what do you think?? Which assumption do you vote for, before we validate what is true?

Monday, February 13, 2012

the no heat curls

It's Monday!!!!! I'm very excited for a new week. Really truly! I skyped with my Mom for over an hour last night and it did my heart so much good. She's such a special person to me and I don't know what I'd do without her!

Last week, I saw on Meg's whatever blog, that she had a link for "no heat curls". I thought it looked like such an easy and fun way to get curly hair, and was bound and determined to try it. And it just so happened that I was staying all week-end at the Kellum's house, as the parents were out of town. How perfect, to have Mallory there, who eagerly wanted to join in on the fun and see if these no heat curls really worked.

She is such a beautiful young lady! The before picture

During... haha. We had to creatively secure the headband in place with other clips to keep it from sliding off. She walked around the house like this for a couple of hours. :)

It almost looks like a fancy updo, doesn't it?

And the after!

Loose, bouncy curls!

She was a fan, I was a fan. It turned out really cute! It was so fun to have a little model and someone who's hair I could play with! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

the past 10 days.

I've been gone for the past 10 days for various conferences -- 2 days in Paris for meetings and then a week in southern Spain with people from all over Europe who are also working with Agape. It was a great and refreshing week, and a much needed break after a BUSY past 6 months. Our conference ended on a Friday, but I decided to stay the week-end in Granada to visit Sophie and Sam and Bekah.
I met Bekah when I first came to France in 2006 and hadn't seen her since 2008, so it was GREAT to catch up again. And now she and Sam are expecting their first baby!!!! 

Anybody recognize the yellow arrows? :)

 They have dunkin' donuts in Granada!! GOOD coffee!

Seeing Sophie was awesome! I miss her in Rennes!!

It was so cool to see around her study abroad city and to see what her life is like there.

She lives in the center of town, right by a place that caravan's of camels would come to and stop for a drink at the well. Or something like that. :)

This is the view from her kitchen window. Hmmm, GORGEOUS. The Sierra Nevada mountains.

Awesome streets. Different from the cobblestone ones in Rennes.

She had exams the Monday after I left, so while she studied and sipped her coffee at Dunkin' Coffee, I read The House on Mango Street and took her picture. Great book!

It was great to get back to Rennes, and it's been a great week so far. Looking forward to a busy week-end!