Jet lagged student and Day 3 of SOJTBN

More Wii fun!

Playing Wii with Yuko

Today was probably jet lag catch up day for Yuko. She has been getting to sleep close to midnight - maybe later - up at 6AM. Being Japanese and very polite, she is reluctant to head to bed before her hosts retire. We are night owls here, so Yuko is on the one hand a night owl teenager herself, but on the other hand a jet lagged guest whose eye lids were getting mighty droopy at 10:00PM when Hannah suggested they start an air hockey tournament. Yuko, like all our students, will cheerfully agree to play even if she is literally walking into doorframes from fatigue. So I sent them all to bed at 10:00PM. Yuko (as did all our students) appears to leave her lights on all night. No clue how you sleep with the room light on. But they do! As is typical, there was a huge neighborhood kickball game in the cul de sac and as usual she joined in. So fun to see 30 little kids and Yuko out there - plus a few of the die hard kids at heart Dads. This is why we enjoy hosting so much - the students are just a ray of sunshine in our lives. It's also great for my kids to learn about Japan and I feel that on a teeny weeny level it makes the world a happier place because it builds a bridge between two families - continents apart - that now are bound together forever.
As for day 3 of SOJTBN nothing terribly heroic yesterday - we took trash bags with us on a nightly walk through the city parks and picked up trash. But - it did beautify the walkways and it did demonstrate to the kids that it takes so very little to make things nicer. And it made for some interesting conversations with folks that lived near the parks as to the idea we were just doing this - just to be nice. Got lots of smiles from that exchange!

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Donut Fryer and Drive Thru Difference – SOJTBN Day 2

Doing homework at night with Yuko - Japanese teenagers love to make the PEACE sign in every picture

Today was an interesting day, to say the least. I am currently between jobs (I have four essentially – three part time and the still elusive ideal full time job). Today I added a 4th part time job…. DONUT FRYER at the local grocery store. Why did this appeal to me? Well because the hours were 5AM till 1PM which worked nicely with my schedule as I teach dance part time some nights, and I write when I get jobs. I also help a friend clean houses, but that too is when jobs come up. Sooo, mostly I am here lately. :) Now I love my local grocery store and I love donuts which apparently is all it took for me to land this bad boy. It was a refreshing change from the past month, where I had ferociously pursued two jobs in IT at a Fortune 500 Company. Several interviews later – I was close, but alas no cigar. These jobs would have allowed ME a budget for a cleaning lady – but close is not “welcome aboard” so I will keep up my juggling of part time jobs while I look for that “perfect fit” full time job. I am actually curious WHAT a donut fryer (and I will be frosting them too – wonders!) does but it’s “fast paced” and “never boring” they assure me. I’m ready for the adventure. Apparently I get a regulation white baker’s outfit too. Now I’m in the big time.
As for the Serving Others Just To Be Nice act of the day – was a “Drive Thru Difference” moment at Macs. Our local Christian radio station – KTIS – which I listen to almost exclusively when I’m not listening to NPR (news), encourages listeners to occasionally just go wild and crazy and pay for the person in line behind them. Now they don’t mean at the furniture store, or the car dealership – but McDonalds or Caribou Coffee or perhaps even the grocery store. There is a letter you can pass on but I just paid for the silver sedan behind me and told them it was from a “listener of KTIS wishing them a great day!” :) It came to an extra $11.47 so a small amount paid for hopefully a big smile. Some days maybe we’ll save a life for the good deed – today we bought a burger and fries for an unsuspecting car behind us. All good! :)

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Our Exchange Student YUKO arrives and DAY ONE of SOJTBN

Yuko shares her gifts with us - poor thing now awake almost 28 hours at this point!

The neighbor kids swarm onto Yuko!

Yuko brings gifts from her parents to all of us for hosting her

Japanese students teach the host family kids their own games

At the welcome picnic - Becca gets a new friend AND pop - wow what a day!

Today was the awesome day that YUKO joined us. She’s our 4th Japanese summer exchange student. She’s part of a home stay program through a local college. The students come for three weeks and live with American families. Our job is simply to “bring them along” on our day to day jaunts…nothing heroic required…they just want to see what we “do” here in America. So baseball practice, a trip to the grocery store, an oil change – it’s all good and all new to them!
As all our students were – she is helpful and joyful and funny and sweet. Her English is quite basic so we smile, bow and nod a lot right now but we’ll hit our stride soon – especially if she has one of those handy pocket translators the other students owned.
Tonight was one of my favorite parts about the visit – the gifts. NO not becasue we are getting a big stash of very cool Japanese gifts – but because no matter HOW tired these students are – they come right down as soon as they get their suitcase opened. They gather the family to hand out gifts. These gifts were lovingly chosen by the student’s parents – several hand picked for each member of our family. Cookies, Miso soup, paper toys, Japanese candies, hand towels and PIKACHU are big themes! You can feel the love the Mommas put into wrapping each and every gift as a thank you to that family across the ocean that is hosting their daughter – sight unseen – for a month!
Poor thing was up about 30 hours when she finally got to bed here. She was ABOUT to climb into bed when Simba (our buff colored kitty) decided to crawl up INTO the underside of her antique bed frame. I can only imagine the email home forming in HER head as Hannah laid on the floor on one side of the bed shoving a broom underneath it and I laid on the other shaking a dish of cat food. Fabo! Luckily Yuko was darn near coma stage with sleep deprivation so she sweetly smiled and thanked us over and over – although she loves cats and probably would have enjoyed a purring kitty on her bed. There was a welcome picnic tonight as well – put on by the program. The Japanese students taught calligraphy, Japanese dance, origami and taught some songs in Japanese. It’s a hit every year and half it’s purpose is to keep the jet lagged kids awake. Yuko slept with all the lights on again (all our students do this???) but DID appear to get UNDER the covers (none of our students ever did that!
So my nice deed for the day (and I’ll only count this once) was hosting an exchange student for a month….although the pleasure is all ours!

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Daddy the flier deliver boy…

Daddy does the paper boy thing

Mitch had to deliver fliers to residents in a neighborhood about 4 miles away. We organize the St. Michael Inline Half Marathon every year which requires us to close off about a 7 mile stretch of road for about 2 hours (racers loop it to equal 13.1 miles). Residents can leave – but will need police escort. Each year, we stuff newspaper boxes with fliers reminding the residents of the 2 hour window of the race, telling them how to get an escort out and encouraging them to consider grabbing a cup of Joe, hanging on their front lawn and cheering on the racers! These racers are world pros – right on down to our local neighbors. :) So this morning, to stuff the boxes of an additional neighborhood we are looping this year, Daddy took off on his bike with his little messenger bag, and I just had to snap a shot.

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Becca’s nursery and exchange student prep work!

The twins

Becca's nursery

Today is all about last minute prep for the exchange student who arrives tomorrow MONDAY! Her name is Yuko and she is a 21 year old Japanese student coming to live with us for a few weeks in August. It's part of a larger program from her university in Tokoyo. They study American culture and life - then the semester ends with a 3 week "home stay" with some families in Minnesota. They do realize we are not New York City and truly what they want - and what we are to do - are simply to bring them into our life for 3 weeks. Nothing heroic - just take them where we go...Luke's hockey, Becca's dance, the grocery store, etc. We have done it for about 5 summers and we simply love it. More on Yuko later!
The above pictures were Becca's nursery she designed in the family room. She took excellent care of her plastic babies and when she could get a hold of Simba the kitty - she buckled him in a few car seats and high chairs and as usual, he obediently complied. No wild barn cat gene in him - he's alllll about the petting and the naps. :)

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Kitty didn’t get the memo….

Dude, I'm in the middle of a nap - drop the blanket!

When's dinner?

He’s a cat…not a doll. :) One of our 4+ pets is a sweet, cheerio colored humane society kitty (almost cat) that the kids named Simba. However we just call him, “Puffy Tail” because every time he comes up against oh say – a housefly – his tail gets puffy, his teeny teeth are bared – and it’s kitty versus wild. You can expect the same response if someone drops a spoon, there is thunder or our giant boxers get loose and go bezerk in the house (okay he has a right to a puffy tail then!) Since the day we brought him home, he’s spent more time in baby strollers, infant car seats and on pillow towers, than he has in cat carriers or even laying on the floor. He truly did not get the memo…but I’m glad he did not – it’s always worth a smile to see where “Puffy Tail” is chilling out.

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The little tree that could…or maybe not

Lukey and our little half dead tree....

So on Arbor Day or something – the school sends home little slips of teeny but nice trees. This one was planted in my annuals last year and grew to almost 5 feet in 12 months! So to avoid a ginormous tree growing out of my porch planters – we gave it a new home in the backyard, where it can grow up and shade the sandbox and playfort. BUT, on one particularly scorcher day right after it was transplanted, a daily watering was skipping and the poor tree nearly died. We have him in Arbor ICU but right now he’s still on life support. Poor little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Luke and I thought we’d take a “before” shot and hopefully the “after” will not be in the garbage can. Here’s rooting for our little tree (get it???? :) )

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Everything Old is New Again…

Becca's attempt at curls - sleeping with braids!

Straight hair day

Spongy Roller Results - age 11!

Age 4 with spongy roller curls

So Hannah found some old spongy rollers in the back of the bathroom cabinet. Now back in the day – if straight hair’ed girls wanted curls – they had to go with spongy rollers. Later, hot rollers came on the scene but those were not for anyone still wearing Care Bear pajamas. I purchased these spongy rollers back when Hannah was 4 and in her first dance recital. Her show was in the evening, but she had preschool that day. Yes, I sent my daughter to preschool WITH spongy rollers in and I’m sure I looked like a Hilly Billy Mom but it got the job done. Today – Mom’s simply purchase a clip on hair piece that has exactly the hair style they wish.
Now years and a spiral perm that’s fading later – Hannah wanted to go curly for the day. She patiently wet her hair and rolled it all up in spongies –then went to sleep. This morning – VOILA! CURLS!!! She was a perfect representation of Shirley Temple and The Good Ship Lollipop when she first took them out, then she brushed them out and was left with a nice heads of ringlets that don’t naturally grow out of anyone’s head that lives in this poker straight hair house. Here are two shots from her two experiences with spongy rollrs….one at 4 and one at 11. :)

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Zack to Tomahawk today…

Zack on the 40 foot high rope course COPE

We caravaned from St. Michael to Birchwood WI to take all our boys to Tomahawk Scout Camp for the week. 28 boys going – a great turn out! What a week they will have earning merit badges for all the typical Scout camp fun – wilderness survival, life saving, canoeing, camping, fly fishing, archery, etc. Zack always acts a little non plussed but the idea he’ll have so many new experiences does appeal to him I know. I enjoyed the ride up – 5 TALL guys in my van. Normally I can see straight out the back window but not today. Just a mass of heads. :) If it were not for the job search/interview process – I would be up there with him in a HEARTBEAT. Next year – for sure. Now I wait and wonder all week how he is doing…but I do believe he did pack his cell phone so maybe I will get a late night text update. Here’s hoping…

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Quiet Weekend (read lonely) without the kiddos…

I just love how the kids get to spend so much time on their grandparents farm in the summer. Awesome awesome stuff. But I sure miss them. Grandma and Grandpa have a 200 acre farm that is mostly just woods, a few crops a nearby farmer grows but just enough to spice up the landscape. Out there, my kids usually help them mow (8 hours on the rider just to do the windbreak), help them weed (Grandma has stunning flower gardens), help them fix duck boxes and whatnot in the way back (this is Lukey’s favorite job) and the eat lots of pancakes, sausage and Schwann’s pizza. :) But I miss them.
Hannah finished up her week at Camp Serve. Thursday they painted lines on the church parking lot and Friday they worked at a homeless shelter. She made friends, got her appetite for service whetted (said she WOULD do this again), had some fun and discovered how God fits in your life every day – not just on Sundays.
Hubby and I ran, rollerbladed, grilled some steak, he worked on the sprinkler system (leaking somewhere I guess) and I worked through my eye level of ironing pile (not gonna say where the pile started but I will say it was not on a high table). Soon the kiddos will be home and we’ll enjoy all their dirty feet, funny stories and camp fire smelling hair.

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