I hope everyone is getting all set for the big day tomorrow! It is so hard to believe that this is my second Christmas away from home. The Christmas season this time around feels different than it did last year. I think that last December, I was so sad to be away from home for it that I tried my best to ignore the fact that it was Christmastime. I would say that last December, I was pretty down overall for the whole month. This year, I had a pretty good month of December, and enjoyed decorating with friends and listening to Christmas music. I noticed the subtle Christms decorations around Cotonou and even a few in my village. It has been an enjoyable month, save for the one night after a bad day at school, when I was sweating in my house and listening to Christmas music, and one song just triggered something in my brain and I got overwhelmingly homesick and called my parents, asking for them to share some Christmas memories with me. I have just returned from Cotonou after spending solid week and a half at post, and it was really nice. Honestly, I don't think I have spent a chunk of time that long at post since July, so I really enjoyed all of the reading, relaxing, playing with my cats, and catching up with my friends in village. School finished up well. I was pretty happy with the grades that all of my students got on their midterms (MUCH better than last year), although my quatrieme classes bombed their make-up quizzes which they begged me for after failing their last ones. I even told tham EXACTLY what would be on it, so it was evident that they simply didn't study. It is really frustrating the way students view English as opposed to their other classes. The last day of school was interesting: first, I taught my students how to sing "We Wish you a Merry Christmas"- enjoy the videos! Second, my director scolded the teachers after having many parents complain to him about male professors sleeping with/trying to sleep with female students. Really, really, sad... though I'm glad the director had the courage to say something. I also helped another English teacher at my school write some of the national exam students must pass to go on to University and recieve their high school degree, so that was pretty neat. For as comfortable as he is in English, it was filled with errors and odd sentences such as "Ms. Yomba is jealous of her sister's dense breasts." What does that even mean?! Last bit of exciting news from Lobogo- Belle had her kittens!!! She had two, a grey one and a white one with brown spots. She even did it in the lined box I had set up for her! Awful timing though... she had them while I was at school, the day I was leaving to come down to Cotonou. So, I saw them for a grand total of about ten minutes. They are literally the size of mice right now, can't even walk or open their eyes. I think that Belle is a little lost as to how to deal with them. She ran up to me when I called her name, and the poor things were still clamped on mer nipples, dangling from her belly! I put up a few pictures of Belle from a few days before she had the kittens, to show you her cute bloated belly :) However, here is why I'm incredibly nervous: Catherine's cat had kittens about a week before mine, while Catherine was in Cotonou for a few days. Several people went into her house while she was gone to feed Scout, and apparently they all saw her with the kittens. Well, when Catherine returned home, all of the kittens were gone, and Scout was clinging to Catherine, obviously not taking care of them... she had eaten them! Apparently, this is a quasi-common phenomenon when cats have their first litter, especially if they are feeling stressed and/or if humans have touched the kittens or gotten too close. Needless to say, I am really nervous about this, so I kept my distance from all three of them, though Belle seemed to trust me enough to let me get close. After much debate, I decided to leave Baby, Belle, and the kittens in my house for these four days, with tons of food and water. I know it will probably be stressful to Belle not to be able to go out, but hopefully she will want to stay close to the kittens. I figured that was safer than trying to move them outside. So, keep your fingers crossed that Saturday when I return to my post, there will still be two little kitties there! I will take pictures of them soon, once again didn't want to stress Belle out. It will be really hard for me if there aren't, especially since I got to see them when they were first born. So, I guess you're wondering why I'm not off in Mali right now, far away from any computer... Well, about a week before we were supposed to leave, Catherine was hit by a moto in Cotonou. For the THIRD time. That girl has the worst luck in the world. She was about to get on a zemidjan, when another moto came from behind, not paying attention, and ran over her foot, sending her sprawling accross the busy road. Luckily nothing was broken, but she did have awful cuts and bruising, resulting in stitches. The doctor told her that she could not travel, and she's not too keen on travel right now after all of the bad luck she has had on Beninese roads. So, we had to scramble and change all of our Christmas plans. Our Mali group ended up splitting up between some other groups that were going, and I decided to cancel my trip altogether and spend Christmas with Catherine here in Cotonou. She is one of my best friends in country and I couldn't let her spend it alone. We have managed to make it pretty jazzy, though- brie and apples and sausage and wine last night, listening to Christmas music and watching movies, decorating gingerbread cookies, a nice Christmas dinner tomorrow... all in all a nice and laid-back (and air-conditioned!) Christmas. Not to mention I am saving a ton of money by not going to Mali! One last thing: my Camp GLOW proposal is finally on the Peace Corps website-hooray! Please see my earlier blog post on how to donate (really easy, just go to www..peacecorps.gov and click on "Donations", then search my name). It is a great Christmas present to give to someone! The proposal has only been up for six days, and we have already raised about $500! I will head back to post the day after Christmas, and then come back down to Cotonou for a few days around New Years. I was planning on staying the whole time, but I want to go back and check on my kitties! I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, and I can't tell you how happy I am that I will be there for it next year. My group starts leaving Benin in just over 7 months, unbelieveable.