Saturday, August 15, 2009

Somebody is Four Years Old

Happy Birthday, Mimsy Lou!
I should have made you a princess cake to go with your new purple phone, but here's the cold, hard, facts: Grandma is not much of a cook. You were lucky to get a chocolate cake that looked like a plowed prairie rather than a dank swamp or a bulging mountain range. Thanks for being delighted anyway. Someday you'll turn persnickety about what you want and just how you want it to look. Right now I'm enjoying the innocence.

Love you, Dear.

Grandma Lilibeth

Back to School Picnic

I know, I know, that's supposed to be "end of school" but we actually have two of these at our school. The Student Council plans these things as a time when the students can be together and talk. This first one is good for meeting new friends and re-connecting and actually seeing all the old friends you only communicated with on facebook and through texting all summer long. The last one is for saying goodbye for the summer.

Yesterday, the high was ninety five degrees, but there was plenty of shade and some breeze to boot. The park had assured our STUCO that they were open from 10:00 until 8:00 every day until Labor Day. Everybody was ready to play on the water slide, go miniature golfing, ride the paddle boats and other rides, drive go carts, and just do cool activities all day. Unfortunately, the amusement employees had decided to take the morning off since their numbers had dwindled over the last two days. They didn't show up until 1:00. (And then it was only the water slide) Since we were scheduled to leave at 1:30, that left precious little time for getting cool before the hot bus ride home. About half of the kids jumped in there anyway. (Mostly the younger ones who were riding the old yellow bus). I dangled my feet in the water...if that counts. My face was red and puffy from the sun and the heat, and I'm sure I looked like I'd spent all day on a desert island without an umbrella or coconut palm.

Still, I didn't hear much complaining. The students participated in a scavenger hunt, then walked around in little groups or sat and talked in the shade. They were self-controlled, not blaming Moses for leading them to the wilderness. I was proud of them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Foreign Exchange

Flora visited us at school today, all the way from Hong Kong...and that's amazing.

She looks beautiful, ten years older and all so very grown-up. I remember when she lived with us that year. Counting our ninth-grader, our tenth-grader, and our foster child senior, Turtle and I had four teen-agers in a little house with one bathroom. Life was hectic and hassled, but, looking back, I'm glad I lived it that way. A foreign exchange student brings something to your family that you can't really duplicate by chatting online. They live with you and really share your life, be it crowded or lonely. They learn your idioms and idiosyncrasies--and thus make you more aware of them. They are brave souls in a strange world. . . so very different and so very alike and both are equally surprising.

One night Flora made Chinese food. We ate it at nine-thirty, due to things just taking longer in America, but it tasted wonderful. She loved school, especially math. Every evening, she did calculus homework at the kitchen table while I cooked supper. I'd like to say I helped her, but that would be a total lie. I didn't understand the numbers anymore than I understood the Cantonese she spoke on the phone late at night to her family. Elijah played bratty "little brother". One day we found "Flora is a wiener" poems posted all over the house. Of course, it became a running gag. The girls were into wild fingernail polish and talking about boys; he was into nunchucks and football and playing the piano as if it were the opposing team being pummeled up and down the line of scrimmage. We banned television until weekends, cut off the internet so they would sleep at night, and never had a moment of quiet in the house. They played games, gossiped, and argued over deep philosophical issues. I heard a door slam occasionally, but I also heard a lot of laughter.

Flora, you were good for us.
Now you've brought a friend to school...all the way from Hong Kong. Does he play mah jong? do calculus? like poetry? Will we love him like we learned to love you? I think so.