Vlog Response to Jenny. I don’t have an accent, y’all.

So.. it is very late at night on a very fun but long day and I got to hang out with Jenny for a good chunk of it.  I figured I would go check out her most recent Vlog because I just can get enough of the funny girl. You totally know what I’m talking about, you feel the same way don’t you?

So here’s the link to Jenny’s Vlog about the whether or not one might have an accent as determined by saying aloud certain words.  Some catchy ones:

Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught

And then there’s the list of questions you must answer:

What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you use to change the TV channel?

Now.. remember I said I was tired. And my hair is a bit fuzzed out.  But I’m too tired to give a rip about vanity, so here’s how it went for me:

Again.. was very late and very fuzzy!

Lessons from Louisa May Alcott

My daughter and I selected Little Women by Louisa May Alcott as her ‘Summer Read’ for school. The idea was that we could get through the lengthy book together and have nice mother-daughter bonding time.

Time. Time is the issue here. I do not have 777 pages worth of time to read. I have about 250 to read, 300 for laundry, 150 for dishes and 77 for picking up after everyone else. Or something like that.

Tonight we took turns reading. Rhianna (sweet teen staying with us for the summer) read one chapter, Ruby the next, and then it was my turn. I didn’t listen to their reading because I was doing dishes, prepping dinner for tomorrow and shuffling loads of laundry. Serves me right. I got chapter eight. Jo Meets Apollyon.

Apollyon? Who is that? I don’t remember any characters by that name in this book! Oy, people. Apollyon is: the destroyer; the angel of the bottomless pit. Revelation 9:11. Yes. 9:11, that alone makes my bones cold.

If I had a clue that I was reading THAT chapter where Jo faces her inner demon I might have just yawned and said.. oh tomorrow.. everyone off to bed now. But I read. It was my turn.

I can really relate to Jo. She has a hot temper, a wicked tongue, can stay angry for an eternity, and knows she’s an ass. Me and Jo. So much. Especially lately. I’ve been fuming all summer about a certain situation in my community AND I’ve been pissed as hell at all the idiots around here acting like it is nothing. This is one angry story I will post at another time when I can link to a news article about the eventual arrest. I am hopeful. And without any compassion. Can you tell?

The point being…. I have anger issues. And a hate that wells up in me something fierce. A demon. Apollyon. Just like Jo.

In chapter 8, Jo blows off her little sister Amy for an outing. Amy gets her revenge by burning Jo’s manuscript of fairy tales she’s been working on for years. Un-freaking-forgivable. I could feel my face get red hot as I sympathized with the 18th century me. Jo loses her shit on Amy, naturally, and swears never to forgive. Few days later, Amy tags along on an ice skating date. Jo knows the danger, but out of spite says nada. Crack, splash, little sister goes through the ice and Jo and Laurie manage to save her.

If you are married, have children, have siblings, shoot people, unless you are a full on hermit you have heard this quote:

“My dear, don’t let the sun go down upon your anger; forgive each other, help each other, and begin again tomorrow.”

So says Jo’s mom. And Jo and I both know that we can be an ass. So we ask for help. Jo’s mom tells her that she too has had to struggle to control her temper for 40 years. Jo is begging to know the secret… and as her mom tells it, I am floored. I can’t swallow. Ruby can see my face change, my voice break as I am completely humbled.

“…..I must try to practice all the virtues I would have my little girls possess, for I was their example. It was easier to try for your sakes than for my own; a startled or surprised look from one of you, when I spoke sharply, rebuked me more than any words could have done; and the love, respect, and confidence of my children was the sweetest reward I could ever receive for my efforts to be the woman I would have them copy.”

BAM! I flash through all the ugly, hateful words, dirty looks and angry energy I have been carrying around lately, in front of my sweet children. What a horrible example I have been. Horrible. So every time I feel that anger start to take over because of this community issue, or ANY issue.. I will squelch it if I’m around my kids. It is going to take a lot of work. Tons.

But don’t think for one minute that I will show an ounce of compassion for the dirty creeps around. My kids will NOT see that from their mother. I want them to have good virtues, but not be fools.

Your Mama Wears Phat Pants!

Ok….. if you are new to my site here’s the disclaimer:

I host international students.

For amusement.

And of course there’s the whole enriching our lives thing, and global experience for my kids, and the fact that I just generally love kids and that is why I work at a school. So there.

But they crack me up, as I suppose any teenagers do.

Fred and I are chatting on FB, miss him so much. He’s coming back to live with us another year and we are counting the days until we pick him up at the airport. Back to the chatting…..He’s been searching for Melbourne Shuffle Pants. OMG. All day.

*I flash back to my Hammer Pants days*

Thanks to Simplicity you can make your own Hammer Pants.I know. Those were the days. I totally saw him in concert. Covet my life.

Now Fred….. he is madeofawesome because not only has he learned how to do the Melbourne Shuffle, he opened a club in China in a hotel WHERE THEY TEACH IT! And he’s 17. Opened. A. Club. He is so cool it is a wonder that he is not from my gene pool. But alas, he is Chinese, full on.

So I’m thinking I’m gonna help the boy out and see if we can get these pants stateside right? I do a little research on them and discover that they are also called…..wait for it……

PHAT PANTS.

So I said, in our nice little FB chat….

The chat is still open and he hasn’t responded.

I’m going to go laugh myself to sleep and dream of these Phat Pants with Phlames. *snort*

Dude! Your Phat Pants are on Phire!

Pretending to be my dog….

It has been quite crazy these last two weeks. I needed it to be so much less crazy. My coping skills are nearly broken… and my patience left mid week.  It has been a roller coaster ride, that spat me out finally in my front yard, on my back, staring into the sky next to my dog.  But to just review this recent ride:

Week before last was the end of the school year for  West Sound Academy. Students taking final exams, international students saying good bye, and then graduation for the class of 2011.  I’m so proud of those wonderful young people.

And then I start to plummet down. My own kids had their last week of school. When I wanted to celebrate with them I couldn’t. I wanted to just relax, and couldn’t. I was racing to get report cards edited, complete the final transcripts, so much work to do! My two international students were packing to go back to their families. I wanted to hang out with them, and couldn’t. Philipp’s mom even came to stay with us for a few days. What little time I could squeeze in to be with her left us both wishing we had MORE TIME. And then yesterday they were gone. Fred left for China this morning. I’ve been cheated out of the moments that were supposed to be filled with joy and reflection of the last year.

I’ve hit the bottom and I’m exhausted.

I noticed my old dog lying in the front yard.  There are tufts of her fur everywhere because she is constantly shedding. I start to walk around her, and pick up the fur.

She’s awake, but has her eyes closed, just chilling out. I want THAT. So I lie on the ground next to her. She checks me out and gives me a few kisses. I try to imagine what she might be thinking, and it occurs to me that she is probably not thinking at all. She’s just blinking.

I think, “I’m gonna try this.”  On my back staring up through the branches of a tree and into the sky beyond.  It’s cloudy. Quiet. All I can hear is bird chatter and my son sweeping his hand through his bin of Legos in his room. I can hear an airplane. That’s all. Birds, Legos, and an airplane. I blink.. like my dog,  totally wishing I was really a dog and this was the extent of my existence.

My old girl Leica… she will be 15 in August. that is 105! I look over at her, blinking, shedding, chilling.  Shedding. That’s what I was doing…. picking up fur in the front yard.  So.. I give up the sweet fantasy and decide to finish the task, and resume peopleish type things.

But I can’t get off the ground. Seriously. My back seizes up as I try to just roll over. It’s awkward.. I’m wincing in pain, trying to get on all fours so I can somehow pull myself to my feet.  She’s blinking… still, at 105.  I’m 40, slowly trying to stand up and hoping none of my neighbors chose this moment for an evening stroll.

So… I totally enjoyed pretending to be her. But my body is not used to being still, and not on the ground.. so it looks like I’m stuck in peoplehood for now.  Here is a darling video my husband put together of our old girl last summer.. doing her doggy chill out thing.  What  a life.

dog dayz from gman on Vimeo.

Once upon a time, in 1981….

I was not really a girlie girl when I was little.  Tom boy really. When princesses were all the rage with friends I was all about Peter Pan.  But then along came this ONE princess:

And I was 10 years old.

She was the real deal.. well, once she married that Prince Charles guy, whom I thought was kind of icky. I was 10 remember, and boys were still fairly gross.  But yeah.. Charles? Not so much.  I watched the whole wedding on TV with my sister and it just was amazing.  That dress…merciful 1980’s puffy sleeve lacey wonderment dress! She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. We fell in love, along with the rest of the world.

As I grew up I always kept her in my sights and continued to be amazed by her. She wore jeans. She held HIV babies.  She hung out with Mother Teresa AND Michael Jackson.  Bryan Adams wrote a song about her. She was without a doubt  the coolest woman on the planet.

Then we saw her vulnerable side with the eating disorder, young motherhood, and that bloke she was married to. My gosh I was so glad when she was free of him.  I still liked to keep up on stories of her banning land mines and having a boyfriend or two.  She was still such an amazing woman, with the royals behind her.  She seemed unstoppable!

But then, that damn car crash. Crap, I have a lump in my throat right now.  I remember hearing about it on the way to a party at a friend’s in Seattle and I prayed and prayed that she would be fine. I really thought she WOULD BE FINE. Totally.  So Mark and I carried on with the party and wound up staying the night.

The next morning we left and got in line for the ferry back home. I caught the headline on a newspaper in the car in front of us.  I can’t even write the words. Can’t.  I will tell you I completely lost my shit. I wanted to call my mom and my sister. I can’t write about this part very well. Stuck on this paragraph for 15 minutes now.  It hurt to lose her, I’d loved her since I was 10. There.

My sister and I watched the funeral together, just as the wedding, only via the phone and across the country from each other. We cried and cried. She was gone.

So it makes sense that this year’s Royal Wedding means so much to me.

My daughter Ruby is 10. How about that?  Not a girlie girl either.  I’m looking forward to watching Prince William and Kate’s wedding with her. I will probably cry, and probably have my sister on the phone for part of it.  There is so much of Diana in William, so I’m hoping Ruby and I and my sister can carry whatever this crazy Diana love thing is forward and celebrate William and Kate.

White on Rice

One thing I need to warn tell you about my international family is that we are in NO WAY politically correct. We are a more like a cultural phenomenon:

One Korean born dude with a German last name who grew up in the midwest and speaks no Korean. Read: Twinkie

One white girl from the PNW in complete denial of her ancestral redneckedness who USED to say worsh, not wash, and often ended sentences in prepositions. Gasp. See: Where would you like to meet at?

Two little half and half spawn from Twinkie and Redneckdenialgirl that are incredibly beautiful, and no one believes they are from my womb.

One Chinese son who goes by the name Fred because, he wanted an American name this year.

One German son who goes by Philipp, because that is the name his parents gave him.

One daughter, by international exchange, who is back in Serbia but still in our hearts. Every. Day.

And finally one and a half dogs.  Because my old dog has a goiter the size of a puppy on her neck.  We named the goiter/puppy Lance (the verb). I know, gross huh? So.. one and a half dogs.

The fact that we are all so different and under one roof is a test to our sanity every day.  So we laugh a lot. Have great dinner discussions, and embrace our diversity with racist humor.

One evening over a dinner of steamed veggies, baked chicken, and rice, our beloved Chinese Fred says:

“Mom, I’d like to take some rice and veggies for lunch sometime. Will you teach me how to make rice?”

You could have heard a pin drop. Even the 9 year old was shocked. Then my husband, the twinkie, turns to him, slugs him in the arm and says, “Dammit Fred! You can’t make rice?! You are a disgrace to our people!”

When I finally found my voice, I said, “Really Fred? You don’t know how to make rice? You never did… YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IN CHINA? Ok, I’ll teach you how to use the rice cooker. It’s quite simple.”

Philipp, our German, God love him, perks up, “Fred, I would be happy to show you how to make rice. I know how!”

I wish you could hear the accents.. it adds so much to this story.

I sat back in my chair and said, “Well isn’t that something? I’ll have to shoot video of this and call it White on Rice.”

Twinkie laughed.

Volim te………..B.

The  real reason, the REAL REAL reason I have not written in so long is this one story that is so hard to write. But………………here  goes.

In November of 2009 a 16 year old Serbian girl moved in with my family. Random, right?  Not so much in my world. I work at a school, she was an exchange student, and her original host family situation went SOUTH, so much. So my boss was all.. Lisa, you have a  guest cottage, a huge heart, and you can’t say no ( as he heard from my college days).

I couldn’t say no, even though our cottage was really a workout room/storage room/hubby’s office. I couldn’t say no, even though we were already living paycheck to paycheck.  I couldn’t say no because she was 16, on the other side of the world from her mom, and crying. “Just until we figure out a new permanent host family,” says my boss.  “Probably just the weekend.” Well, Bojana was hardly with us 24 hours before we all decided WE were going to be her permanent host family.

I’ll never forget her first night with us and listening to her tearful and passionate skype conversation with her parents back home in Serbia.  We couldn’t understand a word, but it was very intense.  She was pissed, defeated, sad, homesick, and like I said, we couldn’t understand any words.

So, I’ve thought so much for too long about what I would write about our ‘B.’  I could do this as a timeline of her stay. What Christmas was like, the winter, spring, blah blah.  Screw that.  That’s what I had. I want to tell you about what I HAVE now:

A daughter, on the other side of the world from her mom. Yeah. That.

Lots of people host international students, and love it.  Friends for life, cultural experiences shared, and that is pretty much what Mark and I thought we were in for. But B was so fluent in English, people could rarely detect an accent.  Culturally, she was just like any typical American teenage girl.  She danced in her room, loved online fashion sites, had crushes on boys, and hated homework. But there is something more that I find so hard to describe.

See?  This is why I haven’t written in months!  How do I describe this relationship, give  its depth justice, and not come off sounding creepy?

My whole family fell in love with Bojana.  Oh, I could say, who wouldn’t?!  She is fun, loving, adorable, goofy, and so beautiful she makes you gasp sometimes. She loved my children so much, and still does. But, I think it was mostly B and I that fell for each other.  If we were the same age we would with out a doubt be the best of friends, but I had the role of ‘host mom’ which brought some challenges to our friendship.  I had to say:

There is no way you are leaving the house in a skirt that short.

Get your homework done or you can not go out with your friends this weekend.

Come out of your room.

Clean your room.

Be home by 11:00 pm.

Be good.

And sometimes I had to say:

Don’t give up. I’ll help you. Please don’t cry. You can do this. Don’t  sell yourself short.  You ARE smart. I am always here for you. How can I cheer you up?

I love you.

Now, here’s the thing: I said this to her a year ago, and I said this to her last week.  We are still that close, and both agree we will always be.  Always.  We skype a few times a month and FaceBook weekly.  She’s hit a rough patch with schoolwork and things back home. I swear I could feel it thousands of miles away.  And so, we are both really missing each other.  She has a wonderful, loving family,  and that is comforting. But I want to hug her.

So much more than an international connection.  So much more than sharing your home with someone for a year. So much more than a friendship.

Not many moms can say they discovered that they had a teenage daughter on the other side of the world but that’s what I have now.

Love you B.