Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Catch-Up Blog

I know, I know, I have not written in so long! I am working on getting my Rome blogs together for you - but let me warn you that they are super long because I have so much I want to share with you! But, I figured that even though all of this will be out of order, I would catch you up with my Christmas and time back in Spain and then just have the Rome blogs make a late debut!

So, Erps-Kwerps Christmas in Belgium was great! We actually slept in, which is not something I do very often on Christmas - but seeing as that there are no toddlers or young kids, everyone got their beauty rest. When Owen (the baby) finally woke up we decided to eat a quick breakfast and then watch him open all his presents! Christmas is so much more fun when you have excited kids! Unfortunatley, Owen, who is only 14 months, didn't really understand the concept of presents. While he had about 20 presents under the tree, he was more interested in the wrapping paper haha! Natalie helped him open a little tractor that he could ride that made noise, and boy was that a mistake. First present opened was his last - he played with that thing all day! As a result, all of us adults got many more presents to open! I got Owen's cute clothes and his shopping cart to open- hooray hahaha - what I always wanted ha! In between riding his tractor around he would grace us with his presence and tear off a bit or two of the presents we were opening. I bought him an xylophone that looks like a caterpillar. I was pretty stoked about it - and he seemed to be too, for the 10 seconds he played with it before he went back to his tractor ha!

After presents we started the cooking! Natalie and I manned the kitchen while Beau worked on deep-frying the turkey outside. The dinner was delicious - but of course I missed my Grammy's dinner! Intermittently throughout the day, soilders showed up to have a plate of food. Beau is the police cheif for the Army Police in Brussels so he invited his guys over to have a proper Christmas dinner when they got thier breaks. It felt like a really full house and was great! Natalie and Beau's friends, Ryan and Kayla, also came over for dinner. They stayed after and that's when the fun began! We played Jenga and Taboo for hours! Oh it was a blast. I haven't played games like that in a long time and it was so competitive - boys against girls - so we had a great time! The pure concentration of Jenga and the shouting guesses of Taboo were enough to make anyone have a good time, but to top it off, we were all drinking beer from this huge BOOT they have. It is very popular in Germany to drink beer from a glass boot, and Natalie and Beau have the biggest one I have ever seen! Supposedly, the Germans came up with this idea in WWI when thier soldiers had nothing else to drink beer from before thier battles - and so came Das Boot. It was pretty funny considering the boot was about a third of my size!

Another funny part about the Belgium Christmas is the lack of Christmas lights. The cities put them up, but people never put them on thier houses because electricity is CRAZY expensive here. Instead, they hang these Santa Claus' out thier windows or from thier roofs to decorate. We saw these everywhere haha.

The day after Christmas, we were planning on going to Amsterdam but Natalie and I decided to stay home and just relax. We didn't even do anything - just watch movies, but after all of our trips around Belgium and then Christmas it was nice to relax. Natalie even took a nap - something she said as a mom she never gets to do! Sitting inside all day must have gotten me a bug though, because by nighttime I was feeling kind of sick and by the 27th in the morning I didn't even want to get out of bed. I missed the trip to Cologne, Germany and laid on the couch all day, trying to rest up for Rome the next day. Bless her heart - Natalie brought me home some cough drops, Dayquill and Kleenex! On the way to recovery!

Now, normally I would tell you all about Rome here - but it will be mulllllllltiple blogs, so I will skip right to when I came home!

The last day in Rome, we woke up early and headed to the airport. Upon arriving in the terminal, I was told my Alitalia flight had been cancelled and I needed a new ticket - CRAP! They ticket lady typed and typed for about ten minutes looking for a new flight for me and didn't say a word in the process. I noticed that in the US, when there is a problem, the customer service person is constantly reassuring you that everything will work out - not the case in Europe. I was going crazy, but she found a flight that was even quicker than my original! Hooray! I landed in Bilbao right on time and thought whew, I didn't even have to speak a lot of Spanish yet! After 2 and a half weeks of English, I wanted to ease back into my Spanish. That didn't turn out to work very well when the airline LOST my baggage BOOOO. They lost half the flight's luggage and as we were all standing there waiting for our bags, a little lady came out and said - oh thats all the bags - dang it! After the long line, I explained, in Spanish, what my suitcase looked like, my address yada yada. This mishap caused me to miss my bus to San Sebastian and I had to sit around the airport for another hour til the next bus. Needless, to say, I was not too excited to be back in Spain! Being back is nice but when I first arrived it was weird. When you go on a vacation and you think, oh I am going home now, you think you are going HOME - but when I got here, I realized, wow this is really my home now! Kinda weird.

I got home fine, got my suitcase the next day and had some treats waiting for me at the apartment! My friends, Gina and Crystal had sent me a Christmas box with goodies - the best being See's Scotchmallows - my FAVORITE! A whole box! Since I was already into my Spanish I spoke with my new roommates and organized my new room (pictures to come soon.) The day after I got home, guess what we had - SNOW! I had heard all about the snow in Washington and was super jealous, so as a treat I got a day of snow here! They haven't had snow here for about 5 years so you can imagine how excited everyone was. It was so crazy to see the beach covered with snow (crazy people still surfing in the ice cold water too), palm trees covered with snow, people riding thier bikes through the flurries and busses pulling over to defrost thier windows. The roads were fine, so I made it to work alright, but boy was the bus cold! A bunch of my kids didn't actually come to classes that day because thier parents knew this snow wouldn't last and let them miss school to play in it. As they suspected by the next day the snow was all but gone. I managed to eat quite a lot of snow before it all melted and was happy with the weather in San Sebastian for once!

Now it is back to the rain, no suprise. I am getting back into the swing of things now with my first full week. Everything seems to be going great. I started a book when leaving Rome called Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (the same guy who wrote the Da Vinci Code) by Tom's recommendation and as soon as I got back to Spain that was all I wanted to do - read read read. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a page-turner! After my fervor for reading I wanted to keep it going and bought the Da Vinci Code, read the whole thing in one day and then watched the movie from my work! By reading 2 huge books in one week my roommates are under the impression that I am very intelligent (muy inteligente) haha. I thought it was a great way to rest up and do something fun at the same time. The weekend brought a lot of reuniting with my old roommates and friends :D

Overall it has been a great time back - except for the fact I still dont have internet at my house! I think we will get it next week, so keep checking back. I have submitted to writing blogs at the locutorio (internet café) across the street. This will have to do for some time!


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