It just isn't easy. It never is. But this year... maybe the toughest re-entry yet. Why? Many emotions are tied up in knots.
- Relief. I have returned the kiddies home safe and sound. No lost passports. No picked pockets. No broken bones. Or broken hearts. Actually, I am not at all sure about that last one...
- Sadness. I miss them. I miss eating breakfast and dinner with them. One of the girls started calling our meals "family dinners." I miss their random hugs. I have never been photographed so many times with individual kiddies. I miss their excitement and eagerness to try new foods and see new sights. And their laughter. I miss France. In spite of air traffic controller strikes.
- Regret. Did I take enough photos? Did I show them everything I meant to? Why did I lose my patience with one or two more than once? Did I send home emails to parents conveying how much I truly enjoyed spending 12 days with this group?
- Joy. I was back in France-- with my students who have endured two years of my stories about this amazing country. I spent time with almost all of my Favorite Frenchies. I was surrounded by this beautiful language that I have spent most of my life trying to master. I wandered the streets of Arles once again.
- Hunger #1. The chance to eat my favorite foods once again... Foie gras. Duck. Bread. Cheese. Pain aux raisins. Gratin. Aïoli. Sandwich au jambon, fromage, et beurre. Pierre Hermé macarons.
- Hunger #2. To see more and more and more. To really see details. To really look at people. To be mindful and live in the moment.
- Satisfaction. I think that the kiddies enjoyed the activities I planned. It all fell into place almost as if by magic. Wreath-laying ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery. Macaron-making at Atelier des Gâteaux. Paris Levallois vs Monaco basketball game. Meeting Tatiana de Rosnay in the park outside of Bon Marché and sharing poems written about Sarah's Key with her. The most perfect weather we could hope for during the month of March.
- Exhaustion. I fell into bed every night bone-tired. We probably averaged 9 miles of walking a day. I laugh just thinking about trying to keep my eyes open so that I could compose an email every night to parents and sound at least partially sane.
- Gratitude. This is my on-going project, with the help of Pretend Daughter #2. I do not have the words to thank this group of kiddies, my co-chaperone Mr. P, our families, and my school administration. For trusting me in the face of daily worries about terrorism and all of the what-ifs that keep some people buttoned up and locked down in their homes. I will never be one of those people.
There is so much to say. So much that I will leave unsaid for now, but save for later posts. I will look at my 1500+ photos and relive this trip for a long time to come.
Merci à toutes et à tous!
One of the girlies pointed me in the direction of an Eiffel Tower cake mold while we were roaming around in La Grande Épicerie at Bon Marché department store. I decided to make a chocolate cake in it this morning.
I cannot believe that I forgot to add sprinkles until the very last part of the first cake. And I completely forgot to add them to the mold on the second one. Oh well. Next time, n'est-ce pas?
Gâteau au Chocolat à la Tour Eiffel
recipe adapted from Taste of Home
2/3 c. butter, softened
1-2/3 c. sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. baking cocoa
1-1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1-1/3 c. buttermilk
Confectioners' sugar or your favorite frosting
In bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt until combined.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with milk, beating until smooth after each addition.
Pour batter into greased and floured pan. (The recipe calls for a 13x9-in pan. I used my new mold, buttering and dusting with cocoa powder. The recipe made two of these cakes. Cupcakes are always a good idea.)
Bake at 350˚F 35-40 minutes or until cake tests done (less for cupcakes). Cool on wire rack. When cake is cool, dust with confectioners' sugar or frost, if desired.
Bon appétit to all my 8th graders! Je vous aime! May you always be so enthusiastic and may you travel to wonderful places during your lifetime.