Hosting An Exchange Student

Hosting an exchange student can be very rewarding. You learn about another culture and get to share your family traditions and American holidays. If you’re really lucky, you get to enjoy delicious food (for example, homemade tortellini and tiramisu.) Seeing your student experience the bounty of an American Thanksgiving, or walking into a Costco for the first time can be eye opening. 

But the main thing to understand about hosting an exchange student is that you are welcoming a teenager into your home. And teenagers can be great – they’re smart, often quite witty, and usually a lot of fun. Teenagers can also be…challenging. 

They can be moody. And stubborn. And they don’t always like to follow the rules. They think they are smarter than adults. They think they are adults. It can be quite frustrating. 

We have had a few “teenager” type challenges with Linda. Luckily the organization we used, YFU, has been tremendously supportive and helpful. That makes a world of difference – for the host family as well as the student. And, that’s important. Because conflicts will arise. It’s inevitable. Having a support network, and someone to discuss issues with and help to resolve any conflicts that arise can really be key to a happy hosting experience. 

The bottom line is that we are a family, and she is now a part of our family. Our family is not perfect…no family is. But we work together, laugh together, and support each other. 

This week we are supporting Linda as she experiences an American high school’s homecoming. She’s ready! Today was “dynamic duo” day, and she created two awesome tshirts for her and her friend to wear!

Tomorrow is “tacky tourist” day and you can be sure I’ll be taking pictures and sharing them!

She did it! (also, the countdown for the move is ON😳)

Friday was Paige’s baccalaureate service…


And then, Saturday was the big day. Graduation. 

It’s hard for me to believe that 12 years have passed so quickly. I still think of her as that little first grader…

The graduation ceremony was lovely and Paige looked beautiful. 



Afterwards, she attended “Project Graduation” (sponsored by the school) and won a microwave! Yay! Unfortunately, she only got about 3 hours of sleep that night and had to get up early the next morning to attend a self-defense course which mean old mom and dad were forcing her to take before leaving for college. 

Apparently, in spite of the lack of sleep – or perhaps due to the copious amounts of caffeine she ingested – she rocked the class. In fact, she was even a little scary during the simulations…attacking with a smile on her face the whole time. Ha!

We officially move in 4 more days and have started taking some smaller, fragile items out to the new house. We are all quite anxious to get moved in. I can’t wait to leave Orange Park and become a beach bum!


A quick update (and a bad pun)

Life seems to have taken on a frenetic, frenzied pace around here. Just as soon as P finished with her exams at school, we headed off to Tallahassee for an exhausting few days of Orientation at FSU. It was informative, fun…and slightly grueling as well. They pack a LOT into just a few days. P is more excited than ever about college, although slightly frustrated with the registration process – every class she wants/needs is either already full or not offered. She did make a couple of new friends though and knows her way around the beautiful campus a bit better than when we arrived. 



In between all that, I’ve been trying to pack. I know that I AM making progress…but it doesn’t seem like it! I’m getting a bit overwhelmed. 

C comes home for a few days today before leaving to be a camp counselor at summer camp next week. Tomorrow is P’s baccalaureate and then Saturday is graduation. A week from tomorrow is moving day….

We took a day off last week before leaving for Tallahassee to soak up some vitamin D…



Clay really had a chip on his shoulder that day. 


Come on. That was funny!

Happiness and sadness

It’s that time of year where time seems to speed up and life becomes a whirlwind of activities as we head into the final few days of the school year. This year seems even more hectic than usual since our youngest will be graduating high school in (gasp!) a little over a week and shortly after that we will be moving. This past week was especially busy. 

P had her Senior Prom, and I realize that I’m quite biased but I thought she looked beautiful. 


The summer C turned 10, he wanted a pet of his very own. He got Buddy that summer and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Buddy was fearless – he dominated every pet we ever had and talked smack to the Eagles and Ospreys whenever they were flying around (safely from inside his cage of course. Buddy was no dummy.) 


Buddy was a pretty bird. He told everyone he was a pretty bird (“Buddy is a pretty bird!”) all day, every day. Over and over again. Of course, he was also very good for an old, overweight, mom’s self-esteem since he also knew how -and when- to wolf whistle. Which, obviously, was whenever I walked past his cage. Have I mentioned how much I loved that silly bird?


But Buddy was C’s constant companion. If C was home, Buddy was on his shoulder, chirping and talking into his ear. He watched old war movies with “his” boy and learned how to make machine gun sounds. He listened to Eminem and Taylor Swift and he could dance like a crazy fool. 


Buddy was C’s best friend, his buddy. He was just…always there. And then, he wasn’t. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Buddy this week. It was difficult for all of us because that silly little bird had wiggled his way into our hearts, but it was heartbreaking for C. 

Buddy was a faithful, brave, cheerful companion. We loved him. And we will miss him. Rest in peace, sweet little bird. 

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, β€” and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of β€” wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew β€”
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

β€” John Gillespie Magee, Jr



I’ve been remiss in my blogging. At first it was because there were some family issues going on, and then Jack, our Chinese exchange student, needed to be placed with another family and I really didn’t want to talk about that. But then other things kept happening and it kept getting busier and busier, and I got a new iPad and forgot the password for the blog (because the old iPad had it set up automatically) and we were traveling and I just got busy and I forgot! I’m sorry!

And so now it’s the end of the year and SO much has happened this year, and since this blog is primarily a chronicle of our family, I feel obligated to try to resurrect my rusty blogging skills, such as they were, and try to report a few of the events (as succinctly as possible!) of the past few months. 

As I mentioned, Jack’s stay with us lasted only 6 weeks. Unfortunately, there were some family issues going on in another state and we were just not able to be full-time caregivers to another child who needed a LOT of attention. P and I made a couple of trips up to Virginia for college tours, interviews, and scholarship interviews…


We had a fabulous family Christmas adventure, visiting Washington D.C. And then Belgium (which was perfectly magical…albeit a bit chilly!)



C has had an amazing year this year! He is loving college now that he is living off campus and is finally getting into his major classes more. He worked on an independent research project this semester, started an environmental fishing club, and has been catching and tagging sharks for NOAA. He also found a bunny at work the day before Easter – so he now has Buddy (the bird), a tank of fish, and Roger Rabbit. 


Let’s see, what else have I missed? Oh yeah – P finally picked a college! After all the trips to Virginia and touring and interviews, she decided on….


FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY! She’s going to be a Seminole!

Which means that WE will be staying in Florida…and these soon to be empty-nesters are heading out to the beach for a change of lifestyle. 

Here’s a few more random photos from the past few months…