Thursday, April 30, 2009

'Signs' of Spring in Seattle

Sign # 1 Mama is out with her teenager.
Sign # 2 The rhododendrons are blooming!
Sign # 3 My cherry tree is ready for the bees.  
Sign # 4 The weeds are growing like, uh, weeds!
Sign # 5 My tools are ready!
Three guesses what I'll be doing this weekend! 

Love,

Homestay Mama

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Athena

My Mommy sure spends a lot of time on her computer! Sometimes I have to get right in front of her to get her attention!


Well, that didn't work very well. Guess I'll try a different tactic!


She's telling me I'd better behave. Ho Hum. I'm a cat. I'll do what I please!

Well, this is getting boring. What else can I do? I wish she'd leave so I could have MY chair back.

Ahhh, this is more like it!


Gotta catch me another cat nap now.

See ya later, dude.

Athena

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Birthday Celebration Continues...

I am so blessed!

My good friends, Mitra and Esmaeil with two of their sons came over tonight after dinner to bring me a birthday present.

Mitra is tremendous cook and a wonderful hostess! I can't even begin to hold a candle to her cooking! I've had their family over for meals several times. Most of the dinners would have ended up a disaster if Mitra hadn't come to my rescue!

So I see she has finally taken pity on me--she has given me a warming/serving dish for my birthday. It is just like the one she uses when we go to her house for meals. She is the best hostess. Her meals are always perfect. Always! I keep hoping that maybe someday her talent will rub off on me!
In this picture: Daniel, Mitra, Jonathan, Ezra, Sue, Tae Woong (hiding), Toshi, Esmaeil

My very good friend, Jean, also came over tonight with a birthday gift--a pot of flowering pens that she made for me. Aren't they just the greatest? Jean and her husband, Greg, are my dear friends from many years ago. Jean is just the most bubbly, vivacious, person I have ever known, and I love her to pieces.And, here is the perfect place for my cheerful bouquet--right beside the phone and message pad.



Thank you, my dear friends. I am so blessed by having all of you in my life!

Love,


Homestay Mama

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Milestone

Yesterday when I was planning this post, I thought I'd title it 'Medicare.' And, then to match the negative funk I was in, I thought I'd throw in a collection of "you know you're old when..." jokes.

But this morning when I opened my Bible to read the next chapter, I sensed God chiding me for thinking so negatively about my age. If Abraham could become a father at age 100, then I certainly wasn't too old to be a homestay mama at 65!

God also reminded me that I should be thankful for everthing I have--my health, my home, an enjoyable part time job, a steady income, wonderful family, faithful friends and of course, terrific homestay students! So, why was I moaning about my age, my imperfections and other negative things?
God was right, of course!

When I opened my mail this afternoon, I was greeted with birthday cards from friends, near and far. And, when I opened Facebook this evening, birthday wishes came tumbling out from all around the world! THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!

video
Tonight after dinner, my students and my neighbor surprised me with a birthday celebration. They had picked out chocolate mousse cake (to die for!) and rocky road ice cream (my favorite!)
Note that 6 candles around the edge and a shorter (1/2) candle in the middle equals 65!
So here's a big THANK YOU to my family, all my friends, my neighbor and my homestay students--Toshi, Ezra, and Tae Woong--for making my 65th a most memorable birthday!

And, to God, THANK YOU for loving me and blessing me with another wonderful year!

Getting older, but wiser, and (I hope) learning to age more gracefully...

Love,

Homestay Mama






Wednesday, April 15, 2009

WE HAVE A WINNER! (finally)

Why is it that nothing goes according to plans? Has that ever happened to you? Well, this post is way past the 10:00 p.m. deadline I promised you, but I'll spare you all the 'Murphy' details, and hopefully you'll forgive me for the lateness of this post!

I tried to make it as scientific as possible using less than scientific means. I printed all your comments on the exact, same-size, slips of paper.

Then I folded each slip of paper into the exact same size and put them into this basket.

Next, Toshi and Ezra helped me by drawing out three names! Yes, three--I decided to add a little twist to the suspense! And a surprise!
At this point we still had not opened any of the slips of paper so we didn't know whose names had been selected. Then we put the three slips of paper back into the basket. (Woops, I forgot to take the price tag off the basket! How embarassing!)

Then my very efficient helpers drew out one slip of paper at a time.

The first slip of paper they drew is the second runner up. The winner is: Jane. Congratulations, Jane. Send me an e-mail with your address and I'll get your prize right out to you--an exciting pedicure set from my favorite health & vitamin store (Super Supplements). Then relax your pampered feet on the sofa while you sip a soothing cup of tea!

The second slip of paper they drew is the first runner up. The winner is: Aunt Clyo. Congratulations, Aunt Clyo! Hey, I know you! But you can send me an e-mail anyway, and I'll send this book to you, written by my favorite author, Jan Karon. I'll include some tea also, because there's nothing better than sipping a cup of tea while reading a wonderful book!

OK, everyone, did you like that little surprising twist? I thought it was fun, and I just might do it again at my next giveaway!

And now...

Drum roll please.......

The last slip of paper is the First Prize Winner of Homestay Mama's First Ever Giveaway.
(This is so fun! I just love giveaways, don't you?)

And the winner for the $25.00 gift card is...

another drum roll, please...

Congratulations Cee! Send me an e-mail with your address, and tell me your choice of stores. Hmmmm, since you live in Australia, $25.00 in American dollars, should be about $34 in Australian dollars, right? Anyway, you are such a creative woman, I think you will have no trouble deciding what to buy!

My humble thanks to all the rest of you for participating in my first giveaway. I wish I could have given prizes to all of you for being such wonderful participants!

Happy April 15th!

Love,

Homestay Mama

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tomorrow!


Tomorrow is the BIG day! Tomorrow I'm having a giveaway to offset the take-away the IRS usually does on April 15th here in the USA!

Tomorrow we'll put all the entrants' names in a basket. Then my homestay students will draw one lucky person's name for my first-ever giveaway--a $25.00 gift certificate to Amazon, Staples, Office Max or Office Depot--winner's choice.

So, did you leave me a comment here? If so, you just might become tomorrow's lucky winner. If you didn't leave me a comment, what are you waiting for? Go here now! Hurry! Tomorrow is almost here!

The giveaway closes at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow (April 15th). I will post the winner's name by 10:00 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow.

So don't let the IRS or those taxes get you down! Tomorrow will be a better day. Lately it's been grey and cold here in Seattle, but the sun is coming out tomorrow. I hope the sun comes out tomorrow where you are, too!

And, I hope you'll be the lucky winner!

Tomorrow!

Love,

Homestay Mama

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Strong Men!

Iranian men exercise using carved blocks of wood, called a mil, in a Zurkhaneh "House of Strength" in Karaj 45 km west of Tehran August 20, 2007. Reuters Pictures

Recently Tae Woong and I visited an Iranian family who came to America many years ago and who are now among my dearest of friends. Esmaeil had just finished making himself a pair of 'mils' out of some scrap wood that was leftover from a building project he'd completed for one of his neighbors. Here is a close-up showing the layers of wood he glued together to form a mil. (Esmaeil is the most ingenious man I've ever met. I am always amazed at what he creates out of discards!)<
Mils are not lightweight by any definition--one mil can weigh anywhere from 20 lbs and up! Notice the mils are resting on my shoulders. I could not lift them. I'm a real weakling!

But Tae Woong has got some impressive muscles!

Now here's Esmaeil showing us the correct way to exercise with these mils! When he's at his prime, he can do 1,000 revolutions with a pair of mils. I took a video of Esmaeil in action, but unfortunately I can't get it to load to the blog, so this picture will have to do for now.

Not only is Esmaeil strong, but he's also one of the nicest men I've met! And his wife cooks Persian food to die for--my favorite is ghormeh sabzi--but that will have to be a future post!


In the meantime I'd better start exercising my flabby, wimpish arms!

Love,

Homestay Mama

P.S.
Don't forget--my first giveaway next week--April 15th. If you haven't already done so, go here and leave me a comment.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Rest of the Story

If you read my previous post, you know that one of my homestay students and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and did some sightseeing on Sunday.

Well now, here is the 'rest of the story.'

We had been traveling north on I-5 for about 20 minutes when the car in front of us swerved suddenly to avoid hitting some metal junk on the freeway. I tried to miss it too, but, "wham, bang!"

Ouch!

Hoping it hadn't damaged my gas tank, I kept glancing in the rear view mirror to see if there was a trail of liquid on the pavement.

Nothing. It appeared everything was OK. So I relaxed.

We put a lot of miles on the car that day and didn't get home until 10:00 p.m.

On Monday afternoon I got into my car to go to the grocery store. Something felt very wrong as I backed out of my driveway, so I pulled back in.

Uh-oh. A flat tire!

I pulled the spare tire out of the trunk and found the wrench. But, I felt pretty helpless. I have never changed a tire in my entire life! (Amazing, but true!)

About a minute or two later, my neighbor came home from work, saw my dilemna and, bless his heart, took off the flat tire and put on the spare for me.

Today I took the flat tire to Les Schwaab Tire Center. They discovered a broken piece of metal imbedded deep into the tire--and they fixed it for free!

You may be thinking, "That was lucky!" But I say, it wasn't luck at all! It was God protecting my student and me on Sunday. And it was God providing help when I needed it yesterday through the kindness of my neighbor, and today through the folks at Les Schwaab.

Thank you God!
Thank you, neighbor!
Thank you Les Schwaab people!


Praising God for all his goodness,

Love,

Homestay Mama

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Break

My homestay students have been on spring break this past week. Toshi headed south to California; Ezra headed East to Lake Chelan. Tae Woong stayed home and studied for his PSAT test that he has to take next month.

It's been grey skies, drizzling rain and shivering cold all week. But today it seemed as if some magical fairy dust had been sprinkled over everything during the night because, we awoke to a beautiful, sunny, cloudless sky.

A day like this is not to be wasted, so Tae Woong and I set out to do some exploring. We headed north on I-5 and then exited off to Chuckanut Drive--a road built in the late 1800's--that winds along the forested hills next to the Puget Sound.














Tae Woong at one of the lookouts along Chuckanut Drive.














Our destination was Fairhaven--a quaint but thriving town near Bellingham, Washington.














There were many sailboats out in Bellingham Bay...














...and people in Marine Park.














The afternoon sun danced in silver sparkles on the water.














We ate our picnic lunch at the park.














Then we took our time heading back home. We stopped at RoozenGaarde in Mt. Vernon, Washington. They are famous for their tulips and daffodils. Today the daffodils were in bloom. The tulips will be blooming in another week.















The RoozenGaarde windmill.





















There is nothing more beautiful than acres of gold shimmering in the sun.














They have many varieties of daffodils. I think this one is my favorite.














But I like this one, too.















Enjoying our break from the rain, the warmth of the sun and God's beautiful handiwork,

Love,

Homestay Mama

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Socialism

We interupt our regular posts for this important lesson:

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but, had once failed an entire class. The students in that class had insisted that socialism worked--that under socialism no one would be poor and no one would be rich--that socialsm is a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so that no one will fail and no one will receive an A."

After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

But, as the second test rolled around, the students who'd studied little had studied even less and the ones who'd studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too, so they studied little. The average for the second test was a D.
No one was happy!

When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F!

The scores never increased because bickering, blame and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and, no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, all the students failed. The professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great. But, when the government takes all the honestly-earned rewards away, no one will want or try to succeed.

There could not be any simpler explanation of socialism versus capitalism than this!

OK, back to our regular post writing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Giveaway Reminder




Don't forget my giveaway ($25 gift card of your choice) on April 15th. If you haven't already done so, go read this post and leave me a comment. That will automatically enter you as a contestant. I hope you win!