Saturday, March 31, 2012

shortaaaaay's birthday!!! whaaaaat!


My baby sister is an oldie now. 20. As in, no more teens. So grown up!! :) 

All 4 of us kids (and Mom and Dad too, of course) wanted to make her feel extra special on her big day. Andrew, being the awesome and thoughtful brother that he is, prepared a 2-day scavenger hunt for her, yesterday and today. 

He set the bar high. 

Last year, I had a ton of people write "happy birthday" to her on a whiteboard and then take their picture with it -- how could you NOT feel loved with something like that!?! And a couple weeks ago, I was talking to Erika about her birthday and I said, "remember the cool thing I did for you last year on your birthday???"  And she was like, 'Hmmm, no..." And so I reminded her of the blog and she goes, "oooh. yeah. Yeah, you can just send me a gift this year!" Hahahahaha. 

But though you may have other things in mind, Lindsay and I also had a brilliant beyond brilliant idea.

We decided to interview each other about YOU. So we did. You can find my answers on Linds' blog. :) And this is what went down in Linds' and my conversation. 

Me: what is something that cracks you up every time you think of Erika?
Linds: when I think of her fluttering her eyelids at my sentimentality

Me: if could buy Erika any pet, what would you buy her? And why?
Linds: I’d give her a pet giraffe. Why? To remind her of her African roots and to have someone she can always look up to.

Me: Hahaha. You're so funny, Linds! But...that doesn't sound very practical.
Linds: She needs something to hang all of her scarves on!!
Me: oooooh. Good point. Good answer then.

Me: Do you feel like it’s due to your encouragement that today, she loves reading?
Linds: Yes. I feel that at a young age, I helped her discover the joys of reading. And it was through my reading The Happy Hollisters out loud to her that she has since become an avid reader. If it hadn’t been for my input into her literature life, she wouldn’t be reading and therefore she wouldn’t be in nursing school. Basically thanks to me, she has a career. (She’s going to flutter her eyelids at this one) 

Me: Which Jane Austen character would you like to set Shorty up with?
Linds: Captain Wentworth from Persuasion
Me: Why?
Linds: He has the kindest heart and the purest soul. And he’s in the military.
Me: oooh, here's a good quote from the book that we can add for her: "A man does not recover from such a devotion of the heart to such a woman! He ought not; He does not." 

Me: What is something about Erika that you would like to emulate?
Linds: Her confidence and level-headedness

Me: Would you go to her for your nursing needs?
Linds: For most of them. But not all.

Me: Can you describe the nursing assement she gave you at Christmas?
Linds: No, I cannot.
Me: Was she confident of what she was doing?
Linds: VERY confident.
Me: Were you an easy patient to work with?
Linds: The easiest and the best and the most willing.
Me: Didn’t you grab hold of her leg in an emotional frenzy yelling “HELP ME!!” at one point?
Linds: Did I??? That’s SO weird!!! Ooooooh yeah, I remember now! I was good!! I was testing her! And she passed! 

Me: If you could get her a plane ticket to travel anywhere, where would it be?
Linds: To Niger so she could come spend time with me. Awwww.

True or False: Erika gets the most tan out of all three of us.
Linds: FALSE. A big false.

Me: What’s one thing you’re looking forward to doing with her this summer in Kansas?
Linds: Eating a cinnamon crunch bagel at Panera, while sipping on some coffee before going shopping – for her sake. I don’t like shopping. Unless it’s for books. 

Me: You and Shorty both have a unique nickname: "ouali Bangui un" and "ouali Bangui deux". Can you explain what they mean?
Linds: It’s sango – a language in Central African Republic. “Ouali Bangui” means "woman of Bangui" and then "one" and "two". So I was the first one born in Bangui, so I was “woman of Bangui one” and Erika, also born in Bangui, was “woman of Bangui two”.

(At this point, my Mom walked into the room, so I asked her the last question) 

Me: What is one of the things you miss most about living in Kansas with Shorty?
Mom: Her talkativeness and her telling me EVERYTHING that’s going on in her life. And... everyone elses’ life! :) 

Have a REALLY great birthday, Shorty!!! You are LOVED! 

Oh, and there's an "actual" present coming in the mail too... :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Before I came to France, whenever I heard someone talk about "badminton", my thoughts immediately went to memories of playing with my family in our backyard in Bangui. Lightly hitting the birdie back and forth over the net, and enjoying a calm and low-energy required "activity".


Then I met Joel and Jeremie. These guys are best friends, and incredible badminton players.


After first seeing them and others play, I was quickly convinced that badminton was indeed a real sport and actually did require much physical fitness, agility and skill. 


Word on the street has it that badminton players move more in one game then a tennis player in a tennis match. It's probably true as they are running in all directions all the time.  It makes it fun to watch!

And when they do "smashes" -- they hit it so hard. The world record is like 421 km/hour (261 miles/hour)!!! I'm sure Jerem and Joel do at least that much when they play. 

Needless to say, it's impressive to watch.

So last night, Joanna, Jeremie and I went to see Joel's doubles tournament. It had been a looooong time since I'd been at one of their games, and so fun to see it again!
With the camera that I had, and the lighting that there was, it was hard to capture clear movement pictures, but they will still give you an idea of how awesome badminton is! :)

Unfortunately Jerem didn't play last night, but he was there with us, encouraging Joel and giving him pep talks when he could. Good friend he is!

It goes so fast -- I couldn't even see where the birdie was half the time :)

As I was writing this, I remembered how like 3 years ago, Sarah, Joanna, Pauline and I all went to one of their games. I wanted to see those pictures again, and as I was clicking through them, I saw this: 

Hahaha. Sarah and I practicing our skills, using a wall of mattresses as a net (which we couldn't see over...) We are sooooo cool. But Jerem, look -- "hold it like a flowerrrrr!" ^^

I am so proud to be friends with such skilled badminton players. I still give them a hard time (of course!!) about it not being a "real sport", but after you watch their games... it's obvious that they are skilled athletes. 

Aaiiiiiight guys!!! :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

a new appreciation

It can be so easy for me to get used to living in Rennes, that I fail to see the beauty and charm of this old and historic city. And Rennes IS a really beautiful city. And though I wish it weren't so, it seems somewhat inevitable, what with the busyness and fullness of life, that its beauty and charm that is at first so awe-inspiring, can quickly go unnoticed.

But last week was different. I realized that I hadn't been taking as many pictures as usual, and decided to have my camera on me more often. And I'm so glad I did, as it  led to a "I can't believe I LIVE here" week! I don't know if you anyone else ever has those moments? Aunt Terry, on the farm? :)

And while I know you have often seen pictures of my city, or have seen it in real life (!!!!), or live here and walk on these streets every day... I thought maybe we could all appreciate the charming little city of Rennes. :)

I love the cobblestone streets that are everywhere!

I do sometimes find it a bit eerie when the carousels go round and round with music playing and no children on it... kind of Ray Bradbury-esk.

I loooooove the colors of these buildings! And if you look closely, you can see Dan walking (red bag) down the street!

Does it make you want to come visit?? We even had 3 days of sunshine and warmer weather this week! Now it's raining and cloudy again. Hmmm. Maybe next week will be sunny weather again!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Int'l women's day!!

March 8th was International Women's Day. Did you Kansans know that? I don't think it's a very celebrated holiday in Kansas. But it's really cool. Want to know how I celebrated?? The Stade Rennais sold soccer tickets for only 5 euros ($7) for all women AND not just any tickets, but the BEST SEATS IN THE HOUSE tickets; literally called "the presidential seats". They can go up to like fifty bucks on a normal game day for an average joe. 

So of course I was all over that deal -- seeing the team I love so much right up close in person, and for cheap?!? YES please!! There were 6 of us girls total; happily seated front and center. 

Oh, and of course being in the best seats in the house meant that we had a great view of the players -- including my favorite -- Pitroipa (or "Pit") who is from Burkina! He's number 7. Before heading to the game and while I took a power nap, Joel, Jeremie and Joanna made me a paper Burkina flag to wave around. Often after games, players will walk over to the "presidentially seated" fans and shake their hands, thank them for coming, etc. I was hoping that Pit would see his country's flag and come bounding over, but alas, he went straight to the locker room. Boo.

But now the flag is hanging in my office! Naomi, aren't you proud of your daughter's coloring skills? :)
And yes, one corner is a little less green -- I had to finish coloring at the game. :) 

This is the "crazy fan" section -- where we normally sit!  Notice it's like all guys. No discount for them! 

There he is! Burkina Faso represennnnnt! (The bald guy behind him is Renne's coach)
This is my second favorite player -- he's a true Breton (from this region). 



This is Kembo. I met him last year, but no one really knew who he was then. 

And the goalie... he's a good player. :)

I'm so sorry if soccer posts are boring to some of you... if you come and visit me I'll take you to a game and you'll see how much fun they are in person!! Right Shorty and Linds? STADE RENNAIS!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

discovering a new "city"

This past Saturday, my friend Cecile was going to be performing in a dance recital in a city about an hour from Rennes. She is an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G dancer and I went to a lot of her shows when I lived in Nantes, and a few in the past years. So when I heard she was performing not too far from Rennes, I was overjoyed at the chance of seeing her again. She said the city was called "Ploermel", so I bought a TRAIN ticket (emphasis on the word train) from Rennes to Ploermel for Saturday evening.

Well, upon arriving at the train station, but 6 minutes before my departure, I saw on the board that the "train" going to Ploermel was leaving by bus from the bus station. What?!

It's not abnormal to take buses to other cities -- France has a really awesome transportation system, so you can get about anywhere either by bus or train. But typically, it's written on your train ticket, or even when you're buying your ticket online that it's a bus. My ticket said nothing.

But that's alright. I had 6 minutes until the bus left, and thankfully, the bus station is right next to the train station, so it all worked out splendidly. The only problem was that I had told my friends (who were coming by car from Nantes) that they could pick me up at the train station, which, was obviously not going to be the case anymore. But I figured I could find a different meet up point when I arrived in the city.

After about an hour and 15 minutes on the bus, the city named "Ploermel" flashed on the computer screen, announcing our arrival. I quickly put my book back in my bag, hopped out of the bus and watched it zoom on its way. And then I looked around me. There was one long road stretching behind and in front of me. Some houses on one side, a bakery on the other, and a small parking lot. Where in the world was I!?! But what could I do, but walk in the same direction of the bus, and hope to find something more like a city ahead of me. And that is what I did.

After walking for a few minutes, I came to this plaza with this beautiful cathedral

a cute little cafe / restaurant / bar / pizzeria / creperie

and a little newspaper stand. I was looking for the center of town, so I thought I'd ask the nice lady at the newspaper stand.

Me: Bonjour! Sorry to bother you, but could you please tell me where the center of town is?
Lady at Newspaper Stand (LaNS): the center of town?
Me: Yes. You see, I'm not from around here, and I'm supposed to be meeting some friends near the center...
LaNS: You ARE in the center of town. Have a nice day.

:) Hmmm. Come to find out later, that apparently the cathedral is always in the center of town? I did not know that.

Having a couple hours to kill, I walked around the center several times, and took a few pictures of what there was to take a picture of.

I then went and sat myself down in the little "cafe de la tour" (Tower Cafe), which I joyfully discovered was decorated like an old medieval Tower.

Nothing like a yummy coffee, and reading Les Miserables in an old cafe in a small village in the middle of France. I was a happy camper.

There were TONS of old books! They were so cool!

The way to the bathrooms!

I REALLY liked the books!

I was able to meet up with my friends -- it was quite easy, as the road from Nantes came right into the "big city center". After a crepe for dinner, we went to see our friend Cecile perform.

They were by far the best performance there. Their piece was 18 minutes long! Cecile is in blue! :)

What fun adventures can be had in France! And believe it or not, I have a LOT of pictures to blog about... so there should be new posts coming soon!