Saturday, February 28, 2009

Name Meme


I have been tagged by Gramma 2 Many in a game of Name Meme. Now here are the instructions for this meme so pay attention in case I 'tag' you at the end!
Directions:
1. Copy the questions from my post and paste them in a new post on your blog. Then type over my answers with yours.
2. Use the first letter of your first name to answer ALL of the following questions.
3. If the first letter of your name is the same as mine, use your middle or last name.
4. You CANNOT use any word twice, and you CANNOT use your own name for the boy/girl questions.
5. After you are done, tag 5 people.......

So, here we go:

1. What is your name?: Sue (Well, it's really Susan, but I prefer my nickname.)
2. A four-letter word: sing (Ha! You thought I was going to say sh**, didn't you!)
3. A boy's name: Sam
4. A girl's name: Samantha
5. An occupation: surgeon
6. A color: scarlet
7. Something you wear: scarf
8. A Food: salmon (yummy!)
9. Something found in the bathroom: scales (my worst enemy right now!)
10. A place: Seattle, of course!
11. A reason for being late: snow
(OK, here in the greater Seattle area, snow sends us into a tizzy!
Every time!
It happened again this week when we woke up to about 1 1/2 inches of the powdery white stuff! I know it sounds crazy, but we Northwesterners just don't cope well with snow. The buses were running late, schools started 2 hours late, the traffic was in snarls and people got to work late! And, of course, the snow was all gone by that afternoon! Yeah, I know--we deserve to be laughed at by people in the Mid-West and Northeastern states!)

12. Something you shout: S.O.S.!!
13. A movie title: Sound of Music (my all-time favorite!)
14. Something you drink: Seltzer water
15. An animal: stallion
16. A song title: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
17. A verb: (how about two?) scrimp and save

The five people I'm going to tag are:
The wife at Gizzards and Calf Fries
Libby at Neas Nuttiness
Robynn at Robynn's Ravings
Tatersmama at Tatersmama's Take on Things
Marlo at The Hafts Happenings

Just having a little fun.

Love,

Homestay Mama

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yesterday (February 21st) was Ali's birthday, so I pulled out the photo albums and reminisced about my homestay student from Turkey. He was 16 and 17 in these pictures--full of life and laughter! He was also full of action and, just like the energizer bunny, he kept going, and going and.....

Here are my favorite memories of Ali from 1994 and 1995.

Making shish kabobs for the barbecue.

Roller blading on our quiet street.


Suited up for ice hockey.

Practicing at the ice rink.

Challenging Takashi (Japan) to a game of tennis.


Dwarfed by a Clydesdale at the county fair.

Lifting weights with my son and me!


Ali's just waiting--aaeeiiii--Mama's going down!

Ali and my son, Allen--both excellent cooks!


And here he is today! Still cooking--the famous Chef Ali!

With his wife and son. What a beautiful family!

Happy 31st Birthday, my dear 'son' from Turkey. You've done very well and your American 'Mom' is downright proud of you!

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Wake-Up Call



I was still asleep when my 'Mumsie' called. Actually, she's my 83-year-old cousin, but she loves me and talks to me like a mom would.

"Did I wake you up?"

"Um, yeah. But that's OK. I should be getting up now, anyway."

"It's 9:00 a.m.! How come you're still in bed?"

"I was blogging until 3:30 this morning."

"Girl, I'm worried about you! Why are you adding even more to your plate? You're trying to do too much. You're taking care of everyone else first and not yourself! Are you eating, sleeping and exercising on a regular schedule yet?"

"Um, well...."

"Nothing I said last time sank in, did it!"

"I know. I know you're right, Mumsie."

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I didn't tell her this, but I've been having heart palpitations lately.

When I finally crawled into bed that evening I was exhausted to the core. And then I heard God's quiet whisper. "If you want to come 'home' prematurely, keep doing what you're doing! But know that's not what I had planned for you!"

I think this was a wake-up call.

Maybe I'd better listen this time.

Love,

Homestay Mama

It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest. Psalms 127:2 (Living Bible)

You made my body, Lord; now give me sense to heed your laws. Psalms 119:73 (Living Bible)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chapter 5: Two Valuable Lessons













From Amazing Journey, Amazing Grace

Not for one minute do I believe it was mere chance that brought those two ladies I didn't know to my door that Saturday afternoon. From the minute they asked if I'd be willing to host a Japanese student in my home, I knew it was a 'God thing.' But what puzzled me about that turn of events was this: If all along it had been God's plan for me to host international students, why hadn't He let my home be accepted by one of the university homestay programs where I'd applied? Why had He waited until I had all but given up on the idea of hosting and then brought strangers to my door to offer exactly that?

Looking back now I realize that God had been teaching me two valuable lessons.

Lesson One: It's not about me!
God didn't want me to rely on my own efforts and then pat myself on the back after every success. He wanted me to remember that He's in control; that everything I have--my house, my job, my health, even my homestay students--all are gifts from Him. Therefore, HE deserves the credit, HE deserves the praise, not me.

Lesson Two: Let go and let God!
Letting go means depending on God, not on myself. It means remaining calm about my circumstances, not panicking about my finances, not grasping for a solution, not running ahead of God's timetable. It means orderliness. It means learning to be patient while He works out the details. It means waiting for His timing.

I have trouble being patient. I don't like to wait. One of my dear friends knows this about me, but loves me anyway, and often reminds me of these Bible verses about God's plans and His timing:

“I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 (Living Bible).

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!” Habakkuk 2:3 (Living Bible):

Just. Be. Patient. (Sigh)

I fail so often!

Two failures immediately come to mind, but before I write about them, I want to share a love story with you--although it's not your ordinary love story!

To be continued.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lemonade Award

The Lemonade Award.
What a nice surprise to find I had an award (my first!) waiting for me over at my friend's blog! (That was so nice of you Tatersmama!) How wonderful to have a friend you've never met! One who lives in the other hemisphere and says 'chesterfield' instead of 'sofa.' But, who bares her soul and makes you laugh and cry as she takes you along on her journey of life. Who also helps you navigate the technical mysteries of blogland and sends e-mails of encouragement and appreciation when you need it most. A friend who doesn't judge you, but let's you be who you really are and accepts you anyway. A friend who gives you such glowing compliments that you don't recognize yourself and look behind you to find the person she must really be talking about. Thank you, Tatersmama. You are a real gem and if you hadn't already just received this award, you'd be the first to receive it from me!

Now I'm supposed to pass this on to 10 people whose blogs show great Gratitude and/or Attitude. So, in alphabetical order here are the blogs I've picked for the Lemonade Award:

1. A Handful of Life written by a young mother of 5 beautiful kids, who comes from a large family herself, who's not afraid to tell it like she sees it and who's also very talented and creative.

2. Bridget Beaver (dot) com written by a college graduate from Pennsylvania who writes most interesting and insightful posts about being a homestay student in Japan.

3. Gizzards and Calf Fries written by a Texas gal who writes about ranch life and says a lot in a few words (wish I had her talent!), who posts neat pictures and whose blog I find every bit as entertaining as PW! (I really mean that!)

4. It's my crazy life and I love it written by a sister to blogger #1 who's also not afraid to be honest and real in her posts, and who also beautified my blog's background and taught me a few other tricks about blogging. (Thanks Trish!)

5. Knit By God's Hand written by a gal from Indiana whose blog I've just started to read and whose gratitude and view of God is similar to mine.

6. Nees Nuttiness written by a mother of ten (!) whose humor keeps me laughing, who is a genuinely caring person (you can tell from her comments on others' blogs), and who is so organized it puts me to shame! Plus I like listening to her music every time I visit her blog. (I've gotta learn how to add music!)

7. Right From Left written by a California man who clearly has a keen sense of world events and politics! I may not understand or agree with everything he says, but I find his take on most of it refreshing! I'm not sure that men are 'into' awards, but he deserves one anyway for his brave candidness.

8. Robynn's Ravings written by a California gal who's a real wordsmith and writes not only a humorous/fun blog to read, but she also writes the wittiest, and kindest comments on other's blogs. Not only am I a fan of her writings, I also enjoy the spiritual insights she includes.

9. What's Next written by another sister to #'s 1 and 4. She hasn't written a lot, but ever so often she writes a post that is so poignant, it blows you away!

10. Yes, They Are All Mine written by my good friend, Gramma 2 Many, who is my inspiration for starting my own blog. She's not afraid to speak her mind, but oh, does she have a heart of gold(!) and a real passion for helping the most deserving refugees in Africa. She's also the mother of #'s 1, 4 and 9 above, and I do enjoy the banter between them when they comment on each other's blogs. Gramma 2 Many has 3 more grown children and 19 grandchildren! A unique numbering system helps all of us keep straight who belongs to whom.

OK, I think you all know what to do with your awards, but if you don't, go here. Tatersmama's directions are so easy to follow!

Blessings to All of You!

Love,

Homestay Mama

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Say What?




Why do we say that our feet smell and our nose runs?

And take the word, ‘up.’ Talk about confusing! What’s up with that word, anyway? It’s just a little two-letter word but it’s used as a noun, an adjective, a verb with an object, a verb without an object, an adverb and a preposition, not to mention it’s multiple meanings as an idiom! Are you keeping up with me here?

Once international students land on our shores, they feel confused from the get-go. It’s mind-boggling—nothing like the textbook English they learned in their country! And, if that weren’t confusing enough, we Americans are all talking a mile a minute! I think these students deserve a round of applause for staying here and toughing it out! I mean, if it were me, I’d be on the next plane outta here!

There are lots of things about our language that are confusing even to me. For example, if the plural of mouse is mice, why isn’t the plural of house, hice? And here’s another puzzler: Why do we drive on a parkway, but park on a drive way?

Once in awhile the tables are turned and I’m the one scratching my head for a minute when, for example, my homestay students ask if they can ‘open’ or ‘close’ the lights.

Tonight at the dinner table my homestay students and I were talking about idioms. They hear a lot of them at school and in the movies. So, I (foolish me) asked if they recalled any idioms they didn’t understand. “Yeah,” one of them asked, “What does ‘shove it up your a**’ mean?”

Gasp. Sputter. Choke. Ahem. Oh my!…… just how does a ‘mama’ explain that one?!

Yup, my homestay students have a lotta pluck (as in courage)! If I were trying to learn English as my second language, I’d be a basket case by now! ‘Basket case.’ Now that’s an interesting idiom! Where in the world did that one originate? Darned if I know!

Wondering if I’m up for this,

Love,

Homestay Mama

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guitar Virtuoso

video

We miss Ki-Bum. And, we miss his music--a lot!

You know how listening to your kid practicing the piano can start grating on your nerves after awhile? But you don't say anything, because you know that practice makes perfect? Well, we NEVER felt that way about Ki-Bum's guitar practicing! Ever! There was just something about his music that was relaxing and enjoyable. Always. Even when we'd heard the same song over and over again. I think it's because he's a virtuoso. One of the best. And, I really do mean that!

Ki-Bum was a student at a local college here (studying English) for one year, and then he applied and was accepted into the well-known, tough-to-get-into, Berklee College of Music in Boston! They sent a team all the way to Seattle to interview him and listen to him perform before he was even considered as a candidate for admission. I feel as proud of him as though he were my own flesh and blood son! So you can imagine his Korean parents are that proud of him too, and more!

After he finishes his degree, Ki-Bum plans to go back to South Korea and teach music and guitar in a college in Seoul. I have no doubts he'll be successful! He's a virtuoso, after all.

Missing the music, missing the man,
Love,
Homestay Mama
This video was taken in August, 2008, when Ki-Bum gave us our own personal concert before leaving for Berklee. Even the neighbors came out and stood on their decks to listen.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Terrific Trio

I am a homestay mama to 38 international ‘sons’ and 1 ‘daughter’ who are now living all around the world. In the future I will feature many of my former ‘kids,’ but today I want to introduce you to my current trio of terrific homestay students.

The eldest of the current trio is Toshi from Japan, age 19. Toshi is attending a local community college and is majoring in architecture. I am a fairly tall woman, so I normally look no higher than eyeball to eyeball with my Asian students. However, with Toshi, I have to look up—way up! I believe he is the tallest of all my Japanese students. So, you will understand then when I tell you that Toshi loves basketball and was a star player on his high school team. What I like about Toshi are his many admirable qualities—he is smart, considerate, helpful and lots of fun. I really like his chuckle—it is both endearing and contagious!


The next oldest is Taewoong from South Korea, age 17. Taewoong is attending a local private high school and after graduating, he plans to return and pursue a college degree with a major in Economics and a minor in Philosophy. Taewoong is a fast learner with excellent English skills. He is also tall—about an inch taller than Toshi, so that makes two students that I have to look up to! But unlike Toshi, Taewoong prefers hiking over basketball. What I like about Taewoong is his love of conversation, and eating healthy foods including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ah, a ‘son’ after my own heart, for I am also passionate about hiking and healthy food!


The youngest is Ezra from Indonesia, who just turned 17 the day President Obama was sworn into office. Ezra is an American citizen having been born when his parents were here attending graduate school. Ezra is also fluent in English and is in the running start program at a local community college which means he is finishing high school and taking college courses at the same time. His major is economics and business. Ezra is a champion tennis player and just won first place in a local tournament. What I like about Ezra is his level of maturity at such a young age. He is very capable, disciplined and organized—a very good testament to the way his parents raised him.


When my ‘kids’ don’t have homework to do, we play games. I like to think it helps them with their English, but if truth be told, it’s really just keeping this old brain of mine from turning into mush!

Happily ‘mothering’ my terrific trio,

Love,

Homestay Mama