Lest we forget – My visit to Vimy Ridge and how it brought me closer to history and home.

I guess technically I was geographically closer to home than I am here in Belgium. I’m not sure why I didn’t get my act together and post this sooner (story of my life), but it seems fitting that I post it today. I didn’t plan it like this I just thought since I hadn’t posted it already that it would be a good day to do it. Please forgive in advance any glaring historical errors. I will gladly correct any that are pointed out to me. So here we go…

Tuesday, October 18, 2011:

I remember Lucie and I had to drop Sylvain off that morning. We stopped at the bakery first  – I wanted to take Lucie before she left and then we also had a snack for on the road – and after dropping him off realized I didn’t have the address and the monument wasn’t listed as such on my GPS. So we went back home and I turned on my computer before thinking it might just be faster checking on my iPod. It was. It was difficult to find because the address does have a number, only the postal code. I eventually just selected a road near the town (Canadian Way) and hoped for the best. My ‘final destination’ was a little before we actually entered the 107-hectare site that was France’s gift to Canada, but we ended up finding it no problem. It was a little frustrating that there’s no actual website, but we managed. I was a little worried for time because Google Maps said it would take around 3 hours to get there. In reality it only took 2. So even though we left half an hour later than planned, we still got there before we thought we would.

The drive wasn’t bad. It rained a little off and on and was pretty cloudy the entire time. I think Vimy is only about 30-45 minutes from the France/Belgium border. Under an hour anyway. When we actually entered the site it was really neat. It’s been reforested to prevent erosion and in among all the trees is the bumpy terrain from artillery. It felt like we were in a large park. The roads inside are still main roads that connect the surrounding towns, but it didn’t feel that way to me. And then we saw all the danger/warning signs and the Government of Canada signs and we started to get excited. For me it was a little like a homecoming. It’s been a while and I’m missing my homeland. Being surrounded by familiar symbols and flag made me feel all giddy despite the sombre mood of the day and the history of the place. The memorial is actually the Vimy Ridge National Historic Site of Canada and is one of only 2 Canadian national historic sites outside of Canada.

I'm not sure if this was made from above or below... Either way it's huge!

As we walked up to the Welcome Centre we noticed there was a large school group and we got a little nervous. We didn’t really want to be in a tour with them. Small tour groups are always better if you can manage it. Fortunately they have separate public tours. We arrived just before noon, but the next available tour was at two so we chatted a bit with the girl who was stuck working by herself while the rest were on their lunch break and took a look around inside at the information, and pictures and things. We were curious about how you could get a job working there. I guess you have to be a current student who plans on going back to school after your term in France. You also have to be bilingual. All the guides are Canadian which made it really neat because we were able to talk about home with them.

We also watched a video of the restoration which took place from 2005-2007. Unfortunately for us that group of students came back in from finishing their tour and were really noisy. A bunch were sitting ‘watching’ and I was happy that I could read a bit of French (the subtitles) because until they left we couldn’t hear a thing. After that we went to visit the Canadian cemeteries. First was the Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery which contains the graves of 111 soldiers. The Canadian Cemetery No. 2 holds only 693 Canadians, but over 2000 British and other soldiers. We signed the registry books that were in each, reading where our fellow Canadians were all coming from and when. Of course it’s not just Canadians who come, but there were a lot who signed the register. In the 2nd cemetery there are many, many graves with the nationality of the soldier, but no name, just ‘Known unto God’. On some they don’t even know what country. I find that to be one of the saddest things of all. For the families to not know. I guess they would have an idea of where a soldier had died because they would have known where he was fighting, but to want to come and visit the grave, but not know which one…I can’t imagine.

Row after row of simple headstones mark the country in which many laid down their lives fighting an enemy who would have preferred to be their friend.

By the time we walked back to the Centre we had just enough time to eat out lunches and for me to take more pictures before meeting up for our tour. I think there were about 8 of us – all Canadians actually – most from Ontario, but a couple from Saskatchewan. Lucie and I were the youngest one’s there by far. This time of year it’s mostly British and French school groups. It’s busier in the summer. The monument itself is actually accessible 24/7, it’s just the Welcome Centre that isn’t.

After 50 years of being our own country we were finally recognized as such. Unfortunate that this recognition cost so much.

Canada officially became the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. It wasn’t until 50 years later – April 1917 – that we were finally being recognized globally as a separate entity from the British. Up until Vimy Ridge Canadian victories were celebrated as British conquests. We had managed a feat that neither the British nor the French had been able to accomplish. Of course, this was just one battle. It just happened to be an important area. Up until this battle very few people actually knew any battle plans. The general Private was kept in the dark. They just marched and fired when they were told to. This makes sense in case of capture. Vimy was different. It was so crucial for the plan to work exactly as laid out that everyone knew what was supposed to happen. Soldiers studied maps of the area, aerial photos, plans. They practised for months in between digging the tunnels that would bring them close to the enemy. So close in fact that they had to be careful because the German’s would be able to hear digging and conversation from their own tunnels.

The attack happened on April 9th. They had considerable firepower but only showed about half of it on March 20. On April 2 they started bombing in earnest. Thus began what the German’s called ‘the week of suffering’. After the targets were destroyed, the bombardment was slowed down before the actual attack. If I remember correctly what normally happened after an artillery strike was an immediate charge. I guess by slowing this down, they were able to confuse the enemy. This was the first time all 4 Canadian division were fighting together. They had to advance 700 meters over a 7km front to reach German trenches. Hill 145 was the main goal and is where the monument now sits. It was captured on April 10th. By April 12th the entire ridge had been taken. One tactic that was used was the ‘creeping barrage’. This is where the artillery would strike and behind them would come the soldiers. After the first set they would bomb again and then more soldiers. Things had to be timed down to the second or your own men would get hit from shells falling in front of or behind them. And when the artillery is coming from 10km away….timing was everything. I believe they didn’t start bombing the German’s right away, they started a littler further back thus enabling the men on foot to remain hidden and have that element of surprise. I can’t remember exactly how long it was, but before the attack the men who were to rush out of the tunnels first had to first wait inside them. They had to stand, as silent as possible, with their 30kg packs and rations for 12 hours. For some reason they had to wait for longer, maybe twice as long before they actually attacked. How they managed it I have no idea.

One tactic employed was digging smaller side tunnels deeper and closer to the enemy tunnels/trenches. They would then place explosives at the end which when detonated would create huge craters. Then as the smoke was clearing they would charge the enemy. It didn’t always work very well because the enemy knew that after that happened they would be under attack. And all they had to do during an artillery strike was stay hunkered down in their fortified tunnels and wait it out, no lives lost. This is why it was so important to confuse them when it came to artillery.

The upgraded version of one of the tunnels.

On the tour we were asked what we thought they used down there to see. They actually used electricity. You don’t want to have open flames in a tunnel for a number of reasons. They turned off the main lights and said that the emergency lights they have now would have been very similar to the lighting in  1917 – basically non-existent. Then again, stay down there long enough and your eyes will adjust. The entrances/exists were very basic, just muddy openings and slopes. The soldiers packs weighed 30kg (60+ lbs) and they had to run out and up these slopes without falling and do it relatively quickly. I couldn’t do that without a pack let alone with one that heavy on my back.

Also preserved are a length of both Canadian and German trenches. This part I really do forget, but it was an anniversary or something and there were a bunch of veterans there and they filled sand bags with cement to create realistic looking and long-lasting trench walls. The effect is really cool. For those of you who don’t know the trenches were never straight, they were always curvy. This was important because if artillery blasted in a trench the shrapnel would go further and kill so many more men if the trench was one long straight line. Also if the enemy managed to breach a trench they would just have to walk along and fire and no one could hide. The curved, zigzagging shape allows for some protection from both those things. It’s amazing to see how close the trenches of the two sides were in some places. I’m no good with distances, but I would say a few hundred feet or so. Not far at all. You had to be super careful when you were on the lookout.

This is the German trench. That big cement slab covers an entrance to their tunnels.

That cement ladder looking thing on the ground is meant to be a more sturdy replica of the wooden duckboards that were used during the war. And now enough with the iffy history lesson. On to the actual monument.

That's me on the steps. Seriously. It's me.

We were fortunate enough that the sun came out for a little while. I was so glad that I had Lucie with me. It was great for the both of us because it meant we were able to get pictures of us that we wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise. I’m glad I didn’t go alone. There is a paved lane that goes tight around the monument, but also wider around and it seems like the people who live near by just use it for walks and such.

This is what the pathway originally looked like. I'm not sure why they changed it during the restoration.

It’s hard to describe what I was feeling at being there. This is a place that I’d grown up hearing about in history classes. A place that we were told we should really try to see someday. In grade 12 I read the book The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart. At one point one of her characters (a women) comes to the monument as it’s being built. It took 11 years to build and was inaugurated in 1936. The woman knows how to carve stone, but isn’t one of the carvers (I’m pretty sure she disguises herself as a man). She ends up getting close to one of the men who carves the names and he lets her help him carve the name of her fist lover who died somewhere in France. It was the closes look I had at the memorial until now. It’s such an important moment in our nation’s history and it was a little overwhelming to realize I actually made it. It was one of those places that I always said ‘well, if I ever get to Europe I would really like to go’, but never actually thought I would get the opportunity. That I did it on my own (no parents) is also something.

"This sorrowing figure of a women represents Canada - a young nation mourning her dead."

By the time we actually got up there and were taking it all in it was just the two of us. There were others that came before we left, but for the most part we were able to look and take pictures is peace. Makes me really glad I didn’t go this summer. On the inside of one of the walls this is carved: “The Canadian Corps on 9th April 1917 with four divisions in line on a front of four miles attacked and captured this ridge.” I feel like this is something that all Canadians can take pride in and at the same time I feel guilty. I can’t take any personal pride in it obviously. I don’t even personally know anyone who fought in any war let alone at Vimy. This monument stands as a sign of change in our history. With this battle the Canadians earned respect as well as a combined pride in our country both on the front and at home. It brought them together. For me, I feel like everybody loves ‘Canadians’, everybody knows we’re so polite and nice – this stands as a reminder that we’re not simple-minded doormats that you can walk all over just because we say sorry all the time. We may be a country that prefers to keep peace, but we have the strength and character to do what is needed when called upon. Some of that might be my reaction to an episode of ‘How I Met Your Mother’, the one where Barney finds out he’s 1/4 Canadian. Heck, I don’t even get some of the Canadian references Robin makes and usually I’m pretty easy-going about Canadian stereotypes. I usually find them really funny. I think that episode took it too far. For me at this time anyway. I love my country and I want everyone else to – is that too unrealistic? Oh probably. Not everybody will love everything.

As we were preparing to leave this group from France started talking to me. I managed to have an entire conversation with complete strangers. And I translated for Lucie as well. It allowed me to see how far I’ve come in regards to French, but also how far I still have to go. It was a little difficult at times because they were talking fast and I didn’t catch everything. Maybe I convinced them that I knew more than I actually do, I don’t know. But it was a neat experience.

Once back in the car we went to Arras which was about 15-20 minutes away. Lucie was taking the train from there to Paris. We got there earlier than expected and she wanted to try to take the earlier train if possible. Again I played translator. Arras is small enough that it’s not a guarantee people will speak a little English. After saying goodbye and watching her get on the train I stopped somewhere for supper and headed back to the monument. I wanted to see it at night with the lights. There was a couple of people leaving just as I got there and again, I was the only one there. Between taking pictures and just reflecting I was there for about another hour. I felt so fortunate to be able to be there, taking my time, and enjoying the silence around me. I tried – and failed – to imagine what they went through, both sides. At one point I was almost moved to tears thinking that as lovely as this monument is how unnecessary it all was. All that death and destruction. War may be a part of history, present, and future, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I have a strange fascination with the two World Wars. I have an interest in history that isn’t as intense as some people, but the interest is there. Maybe part of my desire to visit war memorials is because I miss home and some of the memorials are a way to connect with home if only in name. Sometimes when I think of being on the ridge I don’t believe it was real. I feel that maybe if there would have been a whole lot of people there (or at least a few others) that it would have seemed like I was actually there at the real monument. As it was it kind of felt like a dream. Especially when I went back that evening. I have this strong desire to go back. I think it’s more the lure of the Welcome Centre and my fellow Canucks than the monument itself. But with it comes this little bit of fear that my car will break down again even though I’m always going to be so careful when it comes to putting in gas.

Well, we all know my camera isn't the greatest, but here's my only shot of the full front of the monument.


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Bruges, Ypres, and the Last Post.

Wow. I’m finally getting around to writing this. Almost 3 weeks later! Well, at least it’s 3 weeks rather than almost 3 months late (Amsterdam). This post is dedicated to iamjoe over at the blog Dynamic Flux who asked me for a post on chocolate. While it may not be exactly what you were looking for, this along with the rest of the pics on Facebook do give quite a bit of information!

Sunday, October 16 2011.

Lucie and I are up, have breakfasted, and are out the door by…oh, it must have already been around 9am. The drive there was nice. Not too much traffic. I’d never driven in Northern Belgium before. I mean, I’d been up there, but it wasn’t me who drove ;). I missed the entrance to the parking garage the first time round, somehow that always happens. So I just drove around the square, took the round-a-bout again and this time we were golden. When we walked up from the garage, it was to find that the square we were in was mostly deserted. Then again, Sunday morning isn’t the busiest time of the week and from what I could gather this wasn’t a super busy area. There was a large fountain at the one end that we took a bunch of pictures of before moving on. We had a map, but didn’t really know which direction to go in. Finally we looked up and scanned the skyline. We saw a few peaks of buildings and decided to head in their directions.

Holy moly I'm actually here!

The biggest thing we saw was the Belfry in the Markt. Good thing to because that’s where we were originally headed. Again, the Markt wasn’t that busy. It was pretty full when we returned later in the day. There were some people in line for horse-drawn carriage rides, that could have been fun. There were also canal rides we could have gone on, but the line for those was super long and we had a schedule to keep to. So after hanging around in the Markt to take pictures we chose a side street at random and started walking. One of the first shops we encountered was a lace shop. Belgium is also famous for this lace so we had to go in. The women working there was very nice, let us take pictures, – they had an example of how the lace is made on display – and thankfully spoke English. Although, that’s not really a surprise because Bruges is a tourist town. Of course, up there they speak Flemish. Lucie and I both walked away with a purchase and I feel that the items were quite reasonably priced for homemade lace. For me I got a key chain with a lace H in side – a little tacky, I know, but it’s something I can use – and I got two other things, but they’re for gifts and in case the recipients are reading I don’t want them to know ;).

Such beauty and art. And all by hand.

Right beside the lace shop was a chocolate shop. Then another, and another, and oh my goodness it seemed like every second shop held chocolate and/or candy. We had been forewarned by Adeline, but even then I wasn’t expecting so many. I couldn’t help but take pictures of the yummy window displays. And on we walked. Every street and sidewalk was paved with cobblestones. This is a Medieval city after all. In fact because of its closeness to the sea and channels it became quite the trading hub. Between the 11th and 13th centuries it enjoyed considerable economic development thanks to its location at the ‘crossroads of Europe’. With the sanding over of the Zwin (a large channel used for the transportation of goods)  and the competition with the port of Antwerp, after the 15th century things slowed down in Bruges. It wasn’t until the 19th century with restoration and tourism management that Bruges once again became an important city and is now granted UNESCO world heritage status.*

Dude you want what? There's so much to choose from. What do I do? What do I do!!

I didn't know this was City Hall when I took the picture. Huh. It was built in 1376 and is situated in the burg (a square).

This is the burg with City Hall on the left and at back-left (attached to City Hall) is the Basilica of Saint Sang(the dark building with gold).The lower chapel was built in 1139 and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

As we walked we took many pictures – of the architecture, the waterways, the statues. We even got someone to take a picture of us together! We walked through a small tunnel and into another square and – quite by accident – located the City Hall and the Basilica of Saint Sang. I didn’t know it that day, I only just realized what those buildings were today as I was looking through my one guide-book. I remember taking a picture of what I now know to be the Basilica because it was so dark, ominous, and old-looking – truly Medieval (the lower chapel was built in 1139). We found a bench to sit on and proceeded to eat lunch. After lunch we continued on our way. Our goal was the Chocolate Museum. Yes, there is a chocolate museum. They even have free samples they give out. The things you didn’t know about chocolate! Okay, I’m sure some of you already knew these things, but I didn’t. I did know that in South American cocoa beans were a big deal. The first way that cocoa was consumed was in drink form. Hot, spicy, smooth. It wasn’t until Cortez and the Spanish came though that sugar was added. I know it’s commonly known that sugar comes from sugar cane, but did you know it also comes from sugar beets? I only found that out once I got here. This area of Belgium grows a whole lot of sugar beets. Now that they’ve been harvested you’ll pass by fields and see a long, high pile of sugar beets close the road waiting to get picked up and transported to the nearest factory. There’s one about 15 minutes from us. Holy sugar beets. Did you know that 10 cocoa beans would buy you a rabbit, and 100 beans would buy you a slave? They also had special cups for the drink – some even had a special tube you could blow in to create froth. They loved them some frothy cocoa drink. They also had this special ‘stir stick’  that would create froth. Cocoa was also used for medicinal purposes. And not just in South American either.Do you like froth in your hot chocolate?

Chocolate can do what?!

Napoleon was noted as saying that chocolate is good for one’s health and in the next turn he denied it all. It was a drink the wealthy partook of often, creating their own special mugs and saucers just for their chocolate drink.

Well if Napoleon said it's healthy, who am I to disagree?

Belgium is famous for its pralines. In 1912 after inheriting his father’s chocolate business Jean Neuhaus – an expensive, but oh so good chocolate store – created the Belgian praline. First it was a hazelnut coated in chocolate and then a little filled chocolate cup. Leonidas is also a chocolate shop you see around in Belgium. Leonidas Kestekidès was a Greek who lived in the United States and then fell in love with a Belgian women before settling in Belgium and opening up a tearoom and the Leonidas company.

Even the jungle animals are crazy for coca beans! By the way...before this I didn't know that cocoa beans were found in those pods. And someone in this museum must really love LEGO because there were little models EVERYWHERE!

There were many plaques like this one including the answers to the questions 'does chocolate make you fat?' or 'does chocolate give you cavities?' See them all in the full FB album!

At the end we entered into an area that was full of statues made entirely from chocolate. There was even one of Barack Obama. At the end of this area was a chocolate demonstration and then you were finished – but not before walking through the shop part of the museum.

Yes. Those are entirely made/carved of chocolate. Eat your heart out. ^_^

Then it was on to the French Fry museum! Again, potatoes come from South America before making their way to North America and Europe. Potatoes, like chocolate, are also known for their healing effects. For example raw potato juice is incredibly soothing (said a plaque, it wasn’t me). Also, you can eat as many potatoes as you want – they don’t make you fat, it’s all the sauce and gravy you eat with them ;).

Why French Fries are called French Fries. Now you know.

Have you ever wondered why the fries in Belgium are so yummy? Well, you might if you were here eating them :P. I will tell you why. There are a combination of reasons – the appropriate variety of potato is cooked with the appropriate variety of cooking fat, they are often freshly peeled and cut, they are cooked in unrefined beef tallow and sometimes mixed with horse fat (ummm…), and the fries are cooked in two separate phases. I’ve noticed that. When you go to a Fritterie you will see a pile of fries sitting on a ledge above the cooking area. I was curious about that until going to this museum. They are cooked for a little while and then placed up here. Then when there’s an order they take the appropriate amount and toss them back in the cooking fat to finish them off. This makes them tastier and cuts down on customer wait times. Clever huh?

When we finished up there we set out again, intending to head back to the Markt, but we ended up going tin the wrong direction and were going out of the city centre – the old part. So we got set straight and found our way back to a chocolate shop so Lucie could buy some chocolates. Then it was on our way to Ypres, the In Flanders Fields Museum, and the playing of the Last Post. The cloth industry was a the main contributing factor in the rapid growth of Ypres in the 12th Century. The cloth halls were built in 1260 (the IFFM is located here). They were destroyed in WWI, but rebuilt in the old style. The large Menin Gate is a monument to the 54,896 British soldiers who died in combat.* Their names are carved on the walls. Canada was still considered to be British during this time. Although, after the battle of Vimy Ridge it started to gain recognition as its own country. More on that in my post on Vimy Ridge.

The In Flanders Fields Museum takes you through some history behind Ypres, detailed information about the war itself and why Ypres, what the German’s objectives were, and so much more. You also get a card at the beginning that you put into information stations and it gives you info on a specific person involved in the war at Ypres. I got an American nurse. I missed the last info station because the museum was closing. So we kind of had to rush through the end, but at least we got to see it. The museum is actually closing November 31 to expand. It’s quite the place already. In one area they had a raised platform with clear plastic columns. In these columns were different gas masks. The lights would be off and there was a reading of the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. Then there was a reading of a letter written by a soldier (I’m pretty sure) and as he described the war zone and the gas attacks the columns would light up and you could see the gas. It was very eerie. There was also a section dedicated to the telling of how on Christmas 1915 or ’16 (I’m so sorry I can’t remember!) there was an unofficial truce between enemies. How both sides travelled into No Man’s Land to shake hands, wish the other a Merry Christmas, and share things like sausages. The conditions the men had to face here are unbelievable. Belgium usually gets a lot of rain, but during these battles there was more than normal and a lot of things went missing in the mud (including horses). And the psychological damage…it’s a wonder anyone managed to come back and lead normal lives.

Unfortunately we didn't think to take a picture before it got dark so it's not the best quality.

Here are the rebuilt Cloth Halls now home to the In Flanders Fields Museum.

This is either Ypres of Passendale. Can you imagine? I certainly can't.

At 8pm every single night there is a gathering of people at the Menin Gate. They place flowers, read something to those gathered, play the Last Post, and have a moment of silence. I can’t remember what they recited because I couldn’t hear it (I’m pretty sure it was in English though). There was never a moment of real silence which bugged me. Even as packed as the area was it was definitely possible. There was a school group from the UK there. Teenagers. Unfortunately the one’s near us were quite disrespectful. Not all (I don’t want to generalize), but a lot. And pushy too. The kept wanting to see. Well, there wasn’t much to see as it was dark and I think the point is more about listening. Lucie and I were right up against the chain you have to stay behind and we were both being pushed so much we almost fell over. If I wouldn’t have had boots on I think I would have had bruised shins. So that was a little frustrating and disappointing, but I’m glad we got to experience it.

I have to mention this even though I forgot earlier. For supper that night I had fish and chips. I haven’t had fish and chips in ages! I’m really picky when it comes to this dish because I don’t like it when there’s too much batter on the fish because it ends up being all gooey instead of crispy. Plus I’ve only started to like fish in the last few years. My favourite place to eat fish and chips back home is a restaurant called Joey’s Only. So good. And in Ypres, oh my goodness, I was very happy with my choice. Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum ^_^.

So all in all it was quite the busy day! 3 museums, 2 cities, and really good company. I’m just sorry it took me so long to post about it.

*taken from my book The Best of Belgium.

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Grand Promenade

Today made me think of history class. All the mud. Think WWI, Passendale and Ypres. If my research is right this village and city are in the West Flanders province in the north (Flemmish) part of Belgium. Let me back up a bit. This morning Adeline, Bastien, Sylvain, and I went for a walk. A long walk. Adeline has this booklet made of routes we could walk…some are from the house, others aren’t. They range from a couple of kilometers to several! The one we did today was about 3 I think? I’ll have to check with Adeline tomorrow, but I think it was between 2 and 3. We walked along back roads so there wasn’t much traffic (which was really nice, because at home I don’t really have that option – meaning they may be back roads, but they’re gravel so not as nice, and there’s more traffic). To make the trek shorter, we used this dirt (mud) road through 2 fields…a tractor road. It wasn’t bad walking in the center where there was grass, but as it was Bastien had to walk because I wouldn’t have been able to push the stroller with him in it! We got to this section that was all mud and we had to carry the strollers one at a time through it. This was part of what made me think of WWI. Kind of a downer, but really I was just in the mindset that I’m in a country that has so much more history than mine. Of course WWI wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things, but still, in general Belgium has much more recorded history than Canada. I may not be a history buff (like some of my friends ^_^), but I still find it interesting on occasion :D. 

It felt really good to be out walking. It wasn’t too cold while walking, but there was this chill wind that forced me to put my hood up even though I looked really silly. Then again, there was no one to see me! Also, by the time we neared the end of our journey (at the end of the mud road), we ran into a farm with donkeys. Bastien is quite  adept at imitating them. Then again, he’s good at making a lot of noises! I like his car, motorcycle, and bird noises (‘chirp, chirp’ ‘chirp, chirp’)

Today was also the day of French class #2. We talked more about the calendar and we talked about writing a C.V. (a résumé and I have to write one for next class). We also went through each month and what veggies and fruits were in season. The calendars she gave us were from a grocery store. Did you know there was such a thing as white asparagus? I didn’t. But my teacher said they are special to Belgium and you can only get them in May. Or something like that. But I guess you can get them in jars anywhere. I also was able to give 3 of my classmates a ride home. That way they could stay for the whole class and not have to take the bus! 

Today is a good day to have a baby. Adeline’s brother and his wife, and friends of Adeline and Greg both had their babies today! That being said, I love babies. Even though Sylvain cries a lot, he is very adorable. He’s starting to make the cutest noises and you just know he’s having a conversation with you (if only we could speak their language…). Also, he’s playing around with facial expressions, and his smiles are very welcome. Basically, I feel like sunshine and rainbows when he coos and smiles. I know its super cheesy, but it’s true, you can’t help but feel amazing when a baby smiles at you!

Ta, ta for now.

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