Friday, June 27, 2008

Getting Ready for Elle

Tomorrow morning, we are all getting up at 5:30 am so that we can leave the house by 6:30 and drive about 2 1/2 hours up to the mountains to pick up Elle from camp. I can't wait. I've really missed her, and I know that Yulia is anxious to finally meet her American sister.

For the past two years, I have driven Elle to camp and have picked her up by myself...allowing the two of us to have some decompression/talking time, as a transition to get Elle ready to come back to the 'real' world. This year will be very different...not only is Yulia driving up with me, but so is Sport, Surya, and DH. I hope that the onslaught of people is a positive experience for Elle and not too overwhelming.

We plan to take a drive to the town near the camp and visit the lake that is there. We expect it to be a full days adventure. I'm thinking that Elle and the rest of the kids will fall asleep on the drive home. Tomorrow evening, we plan to go to a free concert at a nearby park. That is, if everyone is up for it.

This is the only weekend that we will have both students with us. Next weekend, Yulia will go (with the group) to San Diego, and the following weekend Yulia and Surya will both go to San Francisco. I wish that they were both coming camping with us instead:~(

Today Sport mentioned that it will be really hard when they go home. He's will be. Sport said that he hopes that the students that we get next year will be as nice as Surya and Yulia. What??????? Did he say next year??????? Yikes.....breathe in...breathe out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Russian has Landed!

Late, late last night (after 11pm), the bus carrying the Russian students, and most importantly (to us) Yulia, arrived at the designated pick-up point. Once the lights inside the bus came on, Sport picked out Yulia right away. She came off the bus looking so lost and exhausted, but as soon as she saw the sign we made for her, her face lite up:~) I gave her a big hug and she held onto me, almost for dear life, and hugged me right back.

I introduced her to Sport, Surya, and of course my DH. We brought her home and she got to meet my mother, Amber (the good doggie) and the two kitties. She said that she wanted to take a shower (even though it was almost midnight). Who can blame her, after sitting in an airplane breathing in airplane air for all of those hours, I can certainly understand her wanting to wash the grime away.

She opted to allow the kitties to sleep in Elle's room with her. (that's where they usually sleep). I can tell (probably because she told me) that she can't wait to meet Elle this coming Saturday, and is willing to wake up at 6am, on Saturday, so that we can be on the road by 6:30am.

This morning I helped Yulia send an email to her mother and father (using an on line Russian translator to put the words into the Russian alphabet) then Sport and I took Yulia and Surya to the bus stop so that they could go to school today. I felt like I was sending my kids off to kindergarten as the two of them got on the bus. Hopefully when I pick them up this afternoon, they will have stories to tell about their day.

We'll also be taking home a French boy this afternoon...but just for a few hours. His host family is going to the Dodger game this afternoon, and don't think that they will be back in time to pick him up... So I will take him home with me until they get back. Thank goodness all of the kids speak English otherwise we would need to resort to pantomime. sigh

At this moment, I am definitely feeling sleep deprived. I probably didn't get to sleep until about 1:30 (I wanted to make sure that Yulia was settled in...Surya and Sport fell asleep a little after midnight...and then I just couldn't fall asleep). I woke up at 5:30am. I am off to take a nap. Once I wake up we'll see what the day brings...that is until it's time to go to the bus stop.

I am missing Elle, and can't wait for her to come home. The house feels full, but it's a good full, and once Elle returns the family will be complete.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Indonesian has Landed!

Last night Surya, our Foreign exchange student from Indonesia, arrived! In the morning I told Sport that Surya was on the plane and on his way here. I couldn't believe how excited I felt. As the day progressed, the excitement continued to build. At some point during the day, we had to take Midnight to the vet so that she could get a shot to get rid of the tapeworm. However, even that trip to the vets couldn't dampen our spirits.

Surya was scheduled to arrive at the pick up location about 10pm, however approximately 6:30pm we got a phone call that said that the plane had landed early and that we should plan to pick him up between 8:30 and 9pm. Sport, DH, and I couldn't wait. I called my sister, Joan, to give her the update and she was excited too. It was strange, but once we decided to host Surya, he became ours. What I mean by 'ours' is that he became part of our family and all day, I found myself thinking about him and hoping that his flight was comfortable.

Around 7:00pm we received another phone call telling us to be at the pick up point at 8pm. When we arrived at the church parking lot there were lots of other families waiting for the buses to arrive. The excitement throughout the crowd was palpable. I can't really describe how I felt when the buses pulled into the parking lot. Watching these kids get off the buses, tired from their long trip and looking worried that their host family might not be there...well it was hard not to get somewhat emotional. Finally Surya got off the last bus...I recognized him right away from his picture. He recognized us by the sign we carried that had his name on it:~) He immediately hugged Sport and bowed and shook hands with DH, then bowed to me. Of course I whipped out my camera and captured that moment for posterity.

Surya seems like a nice boy. He and Sport really hit it off. Today Surya and Sport are spending the day at a sports camp. Classes for Surya don't start until tomorrow, and Sport was scheduled to attend the camp today. It will be interesting to hear what Surya has to say about his first American camp experience.

I wish that Elle could have been there with us. It saddens me that she missed out on the excitement and experience of watching Surya come off of the bus and be welcomed into our family, and that she will miss the experience of picking up Yulia tonight. Even though Elle will have her own "first contact" with both Surya and Yulia on Saturday, I still wish that she could have shared this experience with us.

Tonight we will drive back to the same pick-up parking lot this time with Surya, and we will all share in the experience of meeting Yulia for the first time. She's already on the plane...I can't wait.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Elle is gone for the week to a sleep-away camp, and the care of the kitties has fallen on moi. So the first night Elle was gone, I read a book in her room and let the kitties crawl all over problem...yet. Sunday, I also spent time in Elle's room hanging with the kitties and trying to help them not be upset by the change in their routine...namely Elle not being around. Once again, I laid (or is that lied) down on Elle's bed, read a book, and let the kitties crawl all over me. Only Sunday night, as I picked up Midnight, I noticed what appeared to be a small grain of rice stuck to her coat, on her back leg.

I used a tissue to remove it...thinking to myself at the time..."Um, this looks like either a grain of rice, or a maggot". (Don't even get me started on how I know what maggots look like). But being busy, trying to get my house somewhat ready for the foreign exchange students, I didn't give it another thought...that is until I found some more "grains of rice" on Midnights hind leg.

Of course she had been crawling all over me at the time...and this time, it was coming out of her tush...EWWWWWW! Of course the vet is closed until tomorrow, so I researched what it could be online, and have determined that what I saw was tapeworm... so now Midnight is in isolation, and quite unhappy about it. Twilight is upset that she can't be with Midnight, and I'm grossed out about the whole worm thingy.

I am off to vacuum the rugs and wash the comforters. Will need to get the kitty's to the vet tomorrow, after all, we have a foreign exchange student arriving tomorrow night, and another one arriving on Wednesday night. I certainly don't want to scare them away from America.

Can you just picture it..."Hello foreign exchange student. Welcome to America. Please make yourself at home. Just stay away from the kitties...and watch out for any stray pieces of rice you may find lying around". EWWWWWW.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Can You Say...Long-Winded?

Sometimes, time has a way of getting away from me. I can't believe that my last post was over four weeks ago. sigh. Evidently I've been really busy...distracted...or maybe just really lazy. Lots has gone on in these past four weeks.

Got two new computers...a desktop and a laptop. Will post Elles persuasive letter to my DH and I, which convinced us that we needed not one, but two computers in the next few days.

School is out for Elle and Sport...oh yeah, and for me too:~) I will be working summer school (for 4 weeks this summer). Elle is excited because she wants to come to work with me and help me out, serving as a "typical" role model for the students that I work for. Usually during the school year I work with secondary students (grades 6-12) and then during the summer, I get to work with elementary school students (preschool-5th grade). For some reason, this summer I will be working in both middle and high little ones for hoo.

On another note...I really need to learn to say "no". A friend of mine volunteers for a company that arranges for students from other countries to come and stay here in the U.S.A. for 3-4 weeks during the summer. While here, they live with a "host" family, and attend school to improve their English (or is that American?). My friend asked Elle and me (we were camping with 2,000 girl scouts at the time ) if we would like to be a host family. Elle thought that it would be a fabulous thing to do...discussed as a family, and decided that we would be willing to take one student.

We looked at some applications, and decided that we would host a 14 year old girl, from Russia. She will arrive here this coming Wednesday night...we can hardly wait. OH, but there's more...when Elle and I went to the informational meeting, they mentioned that there were still about 19 kids who wanted to come to the Los Angeles area who still hadn't been placed....I bet that you just know where this is going...

Yep...we decided to take another student. This one will be a 13 year old boy from Indonesia. He will be coming this Tuesday night...yikes. This house is sure to be crowded...let's see...3 adults, 4 kids, 2 kitties, and 1 dog. I better run out to Target and see if they have any wall-stretchers. lol

I need to get going...I am going to drop Elle off at a sleep-away camp this afternoon. She'll be gone for 1 week. The camp is located a few hours drive away from here...up in the mountains. When she returns, they'll be a new brother and a new sister here. The boy is sharing the room with Sport, and the girl will be sharing the room with Elle. It may be strange for Elle to come home to another person living in her room. It should be interesting. Hopefully this will be a positive experience for all of us, and hopefully all of the kids will connect and make life-long friends. That's my wish.