Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010

Looking Back on 2009:God has been good to me—he's blessed me beyond what I ever expected or hoped for.
I started a new part time job this year. It’s so close to where I live I can walk to work! I love my job and the people I work for.
I've had a full house of international student renters this year and they are all very good kids!
A friend told me about a supplement called d-Lenolate and I started taking it 5 months ago. It has restored my energy and I’m feeling wonderfully normal again!

Looking Forward to 2010:
This year I will become a morning person! No more going to bed at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.
This year I will become organized!
This year I will start walking again and will lose these extra 40 pounds!
This year I will start accelerated payments on my mortgage so I can be debt free by 2014!

So, there you have it! These are my New Year's Resolutions and I'm stickin' to 'em!


TO ALL MY FRIENDS IN BLOGLAND...



Love,

Homestay Mama

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas...

...to all my current and former homestay students, my family in Oregon, Colorado and Hawaii, my friends, my church family, and all my cohorts in Blogland! I love you all!


As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us never lose sight of the real reason for Christmas--that night over two thousand years ago when God became man. Yes, Jesus was born in a little stable in Bethlehem, so that some thirty years later he could offer himself as the perfect "lamb" of God--that final sacrifice which takes away our sins and restores our personal relationship with God. That is God's Christmas gift to all who will accept it. I hope you have!

Love,

Homestay Mama

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reunion!

It's been more than a year since Ki-Bum (South Korea) left to attend Berklee School Of Music in Boston. You may remember reading about our guitar virtuoso in this post. Well, on his way home to Korea for the Christmas break this year, he took a two-day layover in Seattle and we had a wonderful mini-reunion this weekend!

So, who was the first person Ki-Bum asked about?

Why Teddy Bear, of course!
Teddy Bear loved hanging out with Ki-Bum and before that with his brother Hyun Wook. Teddy Bear thought he belonged to THEM!

"Do you remember me, Teddy Bear?"


"I really missed you!"


Ki-Bum, his friend Seok-Jin and I went to the local Thai food restaurant for dinner. I love Thai food--especially red curry with chicken, bamboo shoots and coconut milk.

Then we came home and had Sweet Potato Cake that Ki-Bum bought at the local Korean Bakery. I love their cakes because they are not sickeningly sweet like American desserts!

Lim, another friend of Ki-Bum's, joined us later in the evening.
We had a wonderful visit!


It warms a mother's heart when her kids come home for a visit. Seeing Ki-Bum was as good as opening a gift under the Christmas tree!

Love,
Homestay Mama

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Today I had a wonderful visit with Gramma2Many.



I've known Gramma2Many for a dozen years or more. We met back in the late 90's when one of my former homestay students started dating her youngest daughter.

Gramma2Many and I have a lot in common--our Christian faith, our political bent, and our love of interior decorating. But there are differences as well--I have a son, but she has a son and 5 lovely daughters. I have no grandchildren, but she has 19 beautiful (and smart!) grandsons and grandaughters! My marriage ended years ago but she is still married to her high school sweetheart! Yup! My hat's off to Gramma2Many. She is one classy lady and a very dear friend!

We used to see each other every Sunday when I started playing the piano for the little country church that she and her family attended. But after ten years of being pianist for that church, I gave up the long, 70 mile round trip and started attending a church closer to my home. So now Gramma2Many and I mostly keep in touch through our blogs and Facebook.

By the way, it's because of Gramma2Many's inspiring blog that I decided to take the plunge into Blogland myself! I'm glad I did for I have met some very talented, humorously funny and wonderfully supportive friends here in Blogland--including her youngerst daughter who ended up marrying my former homestay student. You can read about their life here. You can also read Gramma2Many's blogs here and here!

I had a wonderful visit today. Thank you, Gramma2Many!

Love,

Homestay Mama

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Multi-Talented Cousins

Last month I wrote about my cousin, Mumsie (who lives in Nova Scotia), and I showed pictures of a few of her many talents.
Here Mumsie and I are visiting my cousin, Beth, and her husband, Art. Beth makes beautiful quilts and I'll write about her in my next post. Today I want to introduce you to Art.

Art is notorious for his large repertoire of jokes. Frankly, I don't know how he remembers them all, but the jokes just keep coming. For example...
video


See all these violins? Art made them. He plays them, too. He's a multi-talented man.

Making a violin takes the right kind of wood...

...and skill and lots of time. Art has all three!

Here is the end result. Beautiful isn't it? Art made the guitar, too.
All of Art's instruments have a lifetime guarantee. If you want to know more, you can contact him in Centreville, Nova Scotia at 902-678-7423. Tell him I sent you, OK?

Love,

Homestay Mama

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm Back!

I had a wonderful and relaxing trip to Nova Scotia in Canada, staying with my cousin, June. Actually she feels more like a mom to me and I call her Mumsie. I also visited with many second cousins that I'll tell you about in later posts.

At Mumsie's home, she made sure I stuck to a regular schedule. We got up early, went for a walk, fed the goldfish...


...had our morning devotions and ate breakfast all before 8:00 a.m. We had our biggest meal of the day (dinner) at 11:45 a.m. and a small supper at 6:00 p.m. By 9:30 p.m. we were heading to bed. With Mumsie's help I didn't cheat on my diet, and actually lost a little weight while I was there--even had to buy a size smaller jeans!

In between meals we went shopping, visited places that held family memories (my grandfather was born in Nova Scotia), and...
...played games of Sequence and Hand and Foot.
The change of pace was therapeutic. It was a total contrast to the life I lead in busy Seattle!

It was a blessing to be totally relaxed. I played the piano a lot, and had time to read three novels! See all those dolls surrounding me? Mumsie made them all. See the picture of Jesus on her wall? She painted that. She is one very talented lady. In future posts I'll show you more of her talents.

But, as soon as my feet touched Seattle soil, I was back into the rat race. I got home at midnight and by 8:00 a.m. I was back at my job.

Never-the-less, I'm thankful for my extended family and the wonderful time I had in Nova Scotia.

Love,

Homestay Mama

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Leaving!


But only for 2 weeks! I'll be visiting extended family in Nova Scotia. I won't have access to a computer, so will have to wait and share pictures with you......if I have time........ after I get back on October 14th.

I'm sorry I haven't written in a long while--the blame lies squarely with my work schedule which has ramped up to more than 30 hours per week. I used to read and write blogs in the evening hours after cooking dinner for my Homestay students--after I'd finished cleaning up the kitchen. But now I've had to become a morning person, so no more staying up late! Then on weekends I play the catch-up-game. I can see all you working moms nodding your heads. Yessiree! You play that game too, don't you!

I've also become more involved at church--playing the piano for the morning service once a month, plus playing for the services at a local nursing home two Sundays per month. Then add in weekly Bible Study, Prayer Meeting and the Christmas program practice. Seems like I'm never home anymore!

So much for being retired!

But, I am missing all of you very much! So when I get back, I'll keep trying to find snatches of time when I can read your blogs, make comments and, if I'm lucky, write something in my own blog.

But right now I've got to get back to packing.

Love,

Homestay Mama

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Something Stupid!

I've used this contraption for many years! It works great. You put your briquets in the top section. You crumple and stuff newspaper in the bottom section. Then you strike a match and light the newspaper. Soon you'll have hot glowing coals. Ready for the steak that's been marinating in the fridge all day. Yum-yum!

Unless you do something stupid! Like being lazy and putting the contraption on the top rack of your grill. And then pounding a loose board back into place while you wait for the coals to get hot. And, making the whole deck vibrate in the process!

I swear I didn't pound that hard! But darned if that contraption didn't bounce right off the grill and flip upside down on the deck, spilling hot coals everywhere! It happened so fast!

We haven't had rain in a coon's age. Temperatures have been in the high 90's. The deck was tinder-dry and it took mere seconds to start burning!

I dashed down the stairs, grabbed the garden hose, dragged it back up and doused the hot coals--only to turn around and notice one stray briquet burning away behind me! Yikes!
So I doused the entire deck! Several times!

And I learned my lesson! Put the contiraption on the lower rack INSIDE the grill. Hang the hose next to the grill BEFORE lighting the briquets! And for crying out loud--save the deck repairs for LATER!

I shudder to think what could have happened.

Thankfully it didn't!

Love,

Homestay Mama

Saturday, July 18, 2009

TODAY IS HYUN WOOK's BIRTHDAY!

Hyun Wook is back in Korea now, but he has the distinction of being the homestay student who lived in my house the longest--6 years--from 2002 to 2008. He came to Washington, learned English at a local community college, went on to get his A.A. degree from that same college, then transferred to the University of Washington and finished his B.S. degree in computer science.

Here is a picture of him soon after he moved to my home.
Hyun Wook and Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear adored Hyun Wook and thought he belonged to him

Here is a picture taken the day I said goodbye to Hyun Wook at SeaTac Airport six years later. If you wonder why my smile is pained, my nose is red and my eyes are brimming with tears, well, quite frankly, I felt like I was losing my son!
Six years is a long time and I have so many pictures and so many memories, I can't even begin to share them all. However, the highlight was his parent's first visit in 2005. They stayed in my guest room and we had a wonderful time visiting and getting to know each other. They are among the best international parents I think I have ever met!
His mom enjoyed making Korean meals for her son, and Hyun Wook was as happy as a lark eating his mom's home cooking again. I quickly understood why. She was an awesome cook. Kim Chee? If his mom makes it, I'll eat it! Store-bought kim-chee absolutely pales in comparison to hers.
Here is a Korean meal Hyun Wook's mom made for us. I don't remember the names of the different dishes, but I do know it was all very delicious. Quite frankly, I enjoy eating food from other countries much more than I enjoy American food.
Hyun Wook was an amazing student. When he transferred to the University of Washington, they were turning away a lot of students who wanted into the computer science program. Only those with very high GPA's could get in.
Hyun Wook, his mom withthe University of Washington mascot--the Husky. (Go Huskies!)

Hyun Wook easily made the grade and was accepted without any problems. And, he graduated with honors!
We all still miss you very much, Hyun Wook. It just hasn't been the same here without you.
Hyun Wook and Athena.

We hope you are having a happy birthday in Korea this year.
Happy Birthday, Hyun Wook!
video

Love,

Homestay Mama

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What the...??

Who, what, where??
Oh, that's just Teddy Bear Scaredy Cat-- in the darkest, quietest place he can find!
(Downstairs in my office.)

He hates loud noises. They scare the 'spit' out of him.

Firecrackers are the worst.
Happens every 4th of July and New Year's Eve.

He's not a happy camper.
I'm sorry, Teddy Bear!

You can come out now.
It's midnight and all the noisemakers went home.





HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, UNCLE SAM!
(233 years today!)


LONG MAY YOU LIVE!


GOD BLESS AMERICA,
THE LAND OF THE FREE
AND
THE HOME OF THE BRAVE!

Monday, June 29, 2009

An Essay by My Iranian Friend


A supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi protests June 16, 2009 in Tehran, Iran. Getty Images

Fourteen years ago my friend from Iran sought religious asylum in the United States. Now he is attending college and working toward his degree. As the celebration of our Independence Day approaches, I want to share with you parts of my friend’s essay that he wrote for a recent assignment in his English class. May we never take our freedom for granted. May we be diligent in protecting it! Then may we be willing to help others gain their freedom as well.

The Election in Iran

The bus stopped in front of me. “Do you want to get in?” the driver asked. That’s when I realized I was finally free.

Three years earlier in 1979, the Shah of Iran was deposed and Khomeini rose to power. After that anyone suspected of anti-government viewpoints was arrested, thrown into jail, interrogated endlessly and tortured. I was one of the many young men and women who were arrested and thrown into Evin. It was the only political prison in Iran at that time. After Khomeini seized power, hundreds more political prisons like Evin were built. Anyone daring to express anti-Khomeini views was arrested and put into prison. Evin became a living hell that I endured for one entire year. But now I was free! Or was I?

My life would never be the same. For three months I suffered a deep depression. It took a long time to become a normal person. But it was a ‘new’ normal. I was no longer the free young man I had once been. In all my records I was a marked man—a criminal. A stain was against my name simply because I held a different viewpoint than the new government. Yes, I was free! But I soon realized that I was not really free! My new ‘prison walls’ were the borders of Iran and I couldn’t leave.

Because of the actions of Iran’s new government, all Iranians were labeled as terrorists by the rest of the world. We weren’t, but other countries were fearful and would no longer give Iranians a visa. Even though I could still walk freely between Iran’s borders, I was never-the-less a political prisoner within my own country.

In order to survive I had to learn self-censorship—not ‘seeing’ what I really saw; not ‘hearing’ what I really heard and crafting my words very carefully when I spoke to anyone. If only there was someone who could be my ‘voice’ to the rest of the world. Someone who could understand and help me and the millions of my fellow countrymen break the political chains that bound us.

Finally I was able to escape my ‘prison’ (my country) fourteen years ago and I came to the United States of America. Being accepted into the ‘land of the free’ and given the privilege of becoming a U.S. citizen gave me my first and sweetest taste of real freedom.

I am free now and this freedom is priceless! However, the recent political events taking place in Iran, remind me of my days of imprisonment. On June 12, 2009, over forty million Iranians cast their ballots to elect their tenth president. It was predicted that the current president, who for the past four years has harassed other nations, would lose to his main opponent—a reformer who wants and campaigned for change. Soon, this hope faded away and the government-run broadcasting agency announced the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the winner of the election with 63% of the votes. Then the ‘supreme leader,’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, confirmed at a Friday prayer and political meeting that Ahmadinejad was indeed the winner.

The Iranian people reacted with major protests and riots. Now the government is using batons, tear gas, and sniper shooting to quell and quiet the people. But the people are holding up signs saying, “Where is my vote?” and the protests are growing. At night the people with new boldness are crying out from their rooftops, “Allah O Akbar!” (God is great.) This is their way of declaring their unity with each other during their protest against the present dictator government.

The people want change. It is hard to believe that this election was done in a democratic way. Many believe this was an announcement of a ‘selection’ and not a true election. In the past several weeks, millions of people rallied in the streets in silence seeking justice and freedom from their prison within country-wide walls. At least eight individuals have been killed; four of whom were university students. University professors have resigned and joined the sit-in by students at Tehran University. They are standing in solidarity with the crowd who feels their votes and opinions were not considered legitimate.

The ‘supreme leader,’ Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has taken sides against the opposition groups by calling them “enemies” of Iran who deserve imprisonment! He says it is the “cruel” Western governments who are really behind the scene of the recent reactions to the election. He believes that the Western Media are agents of the Western Empires indoctrinating the world with false pictures of Islamic Iran.

Many international broadcasting agencies were invited to cover the presidential election. They were granted nine-day visas which would allow them to cover both the election and post election events. The day after the election, many cell phone recorded movies showed members of the revolutionary guard opening fire on people--killing several including a pregnant woman. This is not what Iran’s dictator government wants the world to see and the members in the international media were suddenly confined to their hotels until they left the country.

Now there are no international reporters to echo the voices of the voiceless Iranians to the world. But despite phones being controlled, and internet access being limited and filtered, many smart Iranian people are finding ways to allow the world to hear their cries. Even though a few international reporters were silenced, millions of amateur journalists have evolved to cover the events, but they are still bound by the chains of the present regime.

Just as the doors of a jail can only be opened from the outside, so too, must the doors of Iran be opened by the ‘outside world.’ Now that the world can hear and witness what’s happening in Iran, it is our turn to act on behalf of the seventy-two million ‘prisoners’ of that country. Iran’s citizens have found ways to project their voices against their oppressors, but they are powerless to open their own door to freedom. Now it is the responsibility of the free world to open it for them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

I've just received an award from Cee over at Cee Lew.
Thank you, Cee, for your kind words about me. (Blushing here)
I discovered Cee's blog by reading her comments on other's blogs. What she wrote was simply stated, yet so eloquent and I wanted to find out more about her. In reading her posts, I have found her to be full of wisdom and creativity and to have many talents--at a young age! A rare gem wrapped up in a beautiful package!

Cee won my first giveaway. We sent many e-mails back and forth and I found that the way she is on her blog, is the way she is in real life. It made me wish I could go to Australia just so I could meet her in person!

Now here are the rules that go with my accepting this award and then passing it on to others:
1) Say thanks and give a link to the presenter of the award.
2) Share "ten honest things" about myself.
3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.
4) Tell those 7 people that they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving it.

10 Honest Things About Me:
1. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord of my life. I can't imagine--don't even want to imagine--what my life would be without Him!
2. In God's eyes, I'm a 'diamond in the rough' and He is still grinding, faceting, and polishing off all my rough edges. Unfortunately, He still has a long ways to go!
3. Hospitality is my "gift". Not so much the cooking part (which I'm not very good at), but more the part of welcoming people from all around the world into my home. I love getting to know them and I have many, many wonderful international friends. I also love trying their foods--which directly ties into #3...
3. I need to lose weight!
4. I'm a late night person by nature, and though I make new resolves to go to bed with the chickens and get up with the roosters, I start slipping back into my old ways and find myself finally going to bed just as everyone else is waking up! It's a constant inward battle with me!
5. I enjoy playing the piano, although I'm just an amateur having had only a smattering of lessons from different teachers here and there (about 2 years total) when I was between the ages of 9-19.
6. I love to read just about anything. I used to read books, but now I find myself reading blogs much more often (maybe too often!).
7. I love to go hiking in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. (The mountains and lakes are why I love living in Washington State). But unfortunately, I haven't been hiking as much lately and that is a problem I need to correct real soon!
8. When I was much younger and living in Hawaii, I owned my own sewing school and taught ladies and teens how to sew. I enjoy sewing but don't sew as much as I used to (same reason as in #6!)
9. I have many friends who are politically liberal, but I tend to be politically conservative.
10. I try to be a good steward of the earth. I recycle, re-use and try not to waste. I don't use pesticides, herbacides, or insecticides. Hence, my lawn is full of moss but the fruit on my cherry and plum trees and blueberry bushes are all organic.

And now, in no particular order are the 7 People I have Chosen because their blogs are brilliant in content and/or design, or because they have encouraged me:
1. Candarbry Garden by Karyn Rosebrook-Morris! (For her cleverness, creativity and interesting posts)
2. The Old Dairy by Mandy (For being an inspiration in the way she lives and writes )
3. Tatersmama's Take on Things by Tatersmama (For keeping me in stitches with her humor)
4. Red Pine Mountain by Mountain Woman (For her interesting, thoughtful posts)
5. Gizzards and Calf Fries by The Wife (For her design and outstanding photography)
6. Yes They Are All Mine by Gramma2Many (For her political rants from a heart that really cares about our country)
7. Bridget Beaver is in Japan by Bridget Beaver (For her interesting photos and posts about Japan)

Passing the award on to greater bloggers than I.

Love,

Homestay Mama


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Block Party

I'm positive I live in the best neighborhood in the whole state of Washington. There is a mixture of senior citizens and young families with kids. There are singles, couples and families.

Some neighbors were born here, others have come from all around the world--Viet Nam, Korea, Bosnia, Bangladesh, El Salvador, Mexico, Ethopia, Etritea.

Ours is a safe neighborhood. Everyone is friendly. There is little, if any, bickering, complaining or bad feelings between neighbors.

The kids are well behaved and play well together. When people move to our block, they put down roots and stay for a long time. I have lived on this street for 31 years, and there are three families who have lived here even longer than that!

We used to have block parties every year--they took a lot of planning and work, but they were a lot of fun. Then life seemed to get very busy. Some of the key party planners moved away and the block parties fell by the wayside.

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time for us neighbors to reconnect. So on the spur of the moment, I invited all 33 families who live on my street for a backyard potluck.

Not everyone could come on such short notice, but the 11 families who came had an enjoyable time.

My wonderful next door neighbors helped me pass out invitations, set up the tables and clean up afterwards. They also shared their back yard. Since there is no fence between us, the party was able to spread out. The grown ups visited in one yard while keeping an eye on their kids playing in the other yard.

Everyone agreed that the potluck was a success and that we should have another get-together this summer.

Looking forward to our next block party.

Love,

Homestay Mama