Wednesday, September 23, 2009

25 Sept 2009- Lesson's Learned

Teen-agers! Really? Seriously? I know I did not act like the teens of today when I was 16. Okay that's a complete and total lie, but UNCLE! If I could change the future by going back into time, I'd go to the day where my mother cursed me by saying, "One day you will have children, and I hope they are just like you!" Right. I must admit at the time I thought it was a compliment, maybe I missed the subtle eye rolling or the sarcasm implied, I must have been pretty narcissistic. Sorry Mom! Or as my lovely 15yr old would say, SOOOREEEEE! (With a huge dramatic emphasis on the EEE.)

Furthermore I would like to tell my mother, that I did not have kids just like me, they are kind and helpful (sometimes they have to be compelled), but even with the great kids I was blessed with, and all of the good deeds I have done to make up for my adolescent reign of terror, my mojo was no match for mom's kung-fu, for Mom's have a powerful magic and her curse could not be thwarted. I got my "me" in the form of my foreign exchange student.

The first month was a breeze, but as we settle into life here at the Simmon's casa, I can certainly say that now I understand the adage "Guests and fish are a lot alike, after a couple of days?weeks, they stink." Don't get me wrong Pei is a wonderful, smart, funny, lovely girl. But she is still a teen-ager. Let me also say that I am to blame for most of my woes. If I had set down guidelines and rules and priorities from the very beginning, things would have been drastically different.

So I told you I called my lovely friend Elicia and her insanely smart hubby who rode in on their white horse (okay it was a gold mini van, but for dramatic purposes...) and saved the day! And how peace was restored?

But alas, it was short lived peace. Now that everyone had internet on their own computer and could use it until their eyes popped out, we began to see less and less of Pei until I had to go to her room to see if she was still living with us. We would get up and go to school and when we got home at 3:30 she would go straight to her room and we wouldn't see her until 5:30 the next morning, She quit eating dinner with us and would sneak down after we had gone to bed and eat,
she refused to clean up after herself and was barely speaking to us. I asked her repeatedly if she was okay, homesick etc, and she replied no, she was fine. Still, attitude.

I went to a friends over the weekend to watch their three oldest while they went out of town and when I got home Sunday night, I came home to an inch of water standing on the bathroom floor. How lovely. Something had to be done.

I contacted the CR from AYUSA and told her what was going on and what I had done to remedy the situation and she told me that Pei had been calling and complaining about her living conditions. Pei's biggest complaint is that we go to church too much. So I explained to the CR that when I made the decision to host a foreign exchange student and was looking at he applications from the students, my first concern was Religion, we are LDS, so church is the center of our lives and I didn't want to bring anyone who was uncomfortable around religion into a house that is immersed in the work of the Lord. Pei's application was clearly marked that she was okay with church. So when the CR told me what Pei had been telling her, I got a little upset, okay understatement of the year, I got alot upset. After talking to Cheryl (CR from AYUSA) I wrote out a list of family priorities at her insistence.

First on my list? Honesty...if something is bothering you let me know!
Second-No more internet in the bedroom, I had it disconnected from her laptop. It's supplied by the high school and we have a computer she may use if necessary. The point in this was that she was not getting anything out of the trip if she never left her room.
Third-you are responsible for cleaning up after yourself, dishes, bathroom, laundry, you mess it up, you clean it.
Fourth- you will have chores like everyone else in the house.
Fifth- You will follow the same rules and have the same consequences as my children.
Sixth-You will eat the food I prepare, I'm not cooking two separate meals a night, I can't afford to, if the food I make is unacceptable, you are welcome to buy your own.

Tuesday night Cheryl came over and after almost two hours of mediation, some tears and a lesson learned on my part, we have decided to try again and Pei promised me that if she is unhappy here she will let me know.

I forgot in my anger that Peiling is just a 16yr old girl, thousands of miles from home and in a strange land with very different customs. How scary must that be? I just take for granted that all families run similar to mine.

I have learned so much this week and I am grateful to Peiling for teaching me (inadvertantly) that if a family is to be successful you must have alot of love, alot of patience, a fair and defined set of rules and consequences, and alot of communication if we are to have any peaceful beautiful moments in this life.

Monday, September 14, 2009

14 September 2009- No rest for the weary

Have you ever heard the phrase "I'll sleep when I'm dead" ? I think that phrase fits last week to the proverbial "T". Although this weekend didn't include as much sleeping as I thought it should it was very good. I did sleep an hour later on Saturady morning than I ment to, which made me tardy to our church's Relief Society Super Saturday. Really at first I didn't even want to go, they cut out the crafts, but I took a financial planning class that was very moving, weird huh? Then I took a cooking class by this amazing lady who has written a cookbook that plans all of your meals with no repeats for a year, and factors in leftovers!The most amazing part was that in three hours we made enough food to feed 40+ people and it only costs $30.00 Now if I could just find a willing body to go do my grocery shopping.

Dannielle is up and on the river by 5:30 every morning and is preparing for her first meet on September 27 on against OSU. Of course I will be there in my WSU fan gear screaming like a mad woman from the shore. I need to reasearch the noble sport of rowing to find out what one yells from the sidelines. After years of soccer, track, and wrestling (Dan'l was a wrestling manager) I am uncertain as to what the appropriate rowing vernacular might be. Oh well if you're at a rowing event and you're standing next to some obnoxious lady dressed like a bumble bee (WSU's colors are yellow and black) screaming nonsense, please be patient and pull me to the side for some schooling, I wont mind, and Dan'l will be grateful! Go Dannielle! That sounds safe to yell? Right?

Josie started dance class with some of her friends Saturday and has found something that she loves more than golf. I understand her waltz needs some help, but for her first time ever in a dance class, I'm impressed, she wants to do competitions, oh well, so much for sleeping in on the weekends. She has had an amazing week, Tuesday September 15 she placed first in a school golf tournament. I was sitting in the kitchen talking to a friend when she called and told me about winning the tournament, it was hilarious, she was so excited that her voice hit this pitch that only dogs can hear and it took me a few tries to get her to bring it down enough octaves so that I could understand what she was telling me. She shot a 76 in 18! Way to go Josie!

This week has been just as crazy as the weekend. I decided to make the move from broadband internet to digital. Let's just say I could never be accused of being computer savvy. After getting the software to install Cox on our laptops, I realized (with the help of a friend) that I would need a wireless router for everyone to be able to get on the internet at the same time, so off to Wal-Mart. An hour later we return home with the instrument that is going to bring peace back into my life and I load up the software and manage to crash both computers. Ugh. I give. So for a few days we go on like this, thankfully the computers were okay, but for some strange reason every time one person logged in to the internet , the other person would get kicked off. We went on like this for a few days and let me tell you, I am sick, sick, sick, of the word internet, I now loathe computers and my patience with teenage girls is wearing dangerously thin. Luckily, my sweet friend Elicia and her seriously smart hubby Bryce came over. With Bryce's degree in engineering ( no clue how that relates to computers) and ability to dumb down his questions so that I could understand them, VOILA! Internet harmony! Now, maybe we can get back to our normal abnormal life...beautiful, huh?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9 September 2009- Seminary

You would think that after a month or so of getting out of bed 5 DAYS a week at 5AM that I'd get accustomed to being up so early. WRONG! The first alarm goes off at 4:30am so that Dannielle can get to practice by 5:25 (AM!!!) The second goes off at 5 (AM!!!!!) I pry myself out of bed and start trying to wake Josie and Peiling (who is probably re-thinking her choice to come live with this crazy family) and from there it's the morning routine, thank goodness we have two bathrooms. My idea of getting out of bed early is 8am, so in my personal opinion 5am is just plain rude. But the blessings it brings are inumerable. This morning was one of "those" mornings where I am up and alert and ready to go by 5:20 (Yay me!) and at 5:35 I am still trying to convince Josie and Pei that it really is time to get out of bed, and no, I'm not kidding!

I'm not one that wakes up bright eyed and bushy tailed and perky, I need silence and space to wander around and get coherent. I feel bad for Peiling, my kids know to stay out of my space until I've been awake for about 20 minutes, I'm not sure how they learned this but I'll bet it's because I dont look very friendly and inviting at that obscene time of the morning. Poor Pei just scurries past me as if she knows that at any moment I could snap. Eventhough I have seriously considered moving to Utah so that Josie would be able to attend seminary at school, I can't complain. Although I honestly believe that parents of children who attend early morning seminary should receive a gold star or in the very least an honorable mention at the end of the year. I am grateful to the teachers who get up at 5am everyday to be there by 6am and prepare daily to teach my children eternal principles and give them the spiritual start to their day that in this day and age they REALLY need.

I have to applaud Josie and Pei and the other teens who make the commitment to be there and learn, who get up even when they could sleep another hour, Seminary has truly made an impression on their lives that will last awesome is it when that I am learning true commitment from someone half my age? Life. Beautiful, confusing, amusing, life.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A beautiful life...

As a single mother with two amazing daughters and a full time job, life can get pretty hectic. However, even with crazy schedules, an intense work enviroment, one in college and one still in high school, the limited time we have to spend together and the millions of little ups and downs that make this crazy, mad, dreary, mixed up world that seem to pop up at every in-opportune moment I can honestly say that I wouldn't trade it for anything, because it really is a beautiful life.

5 Sept 2009 What a week!

It seems to me that when I plan things, everything that can go wrong, well you know the rest. This week my bestie Jessica and I were planning on taking Friday off and going down to Oklahoma City to go to the temple. This would have been the first time that I've been in almost four years! So it would be an understatement to say that I was excited. However, Jess's hubby Andy got sick last Saturday and by Wednesday was in the hospital with meningitis. Thursday morning one of their 3yr old twins Liz goes in with (yep you guessed it!) meningitis, now Jess who would rather suffer every pain in the world than to see her loved ones hurting, just had to sample some of this serious illness herself!

In the meantime my oldest, Dannielle, is off to the lake with her best friend of 7yrs Ash and our new family addition all the way from Beijing, Peiling. Peiling is a foreign exchange student who is AWESOME! She has adjusted so well to our lifestyle and religious beliefs that it's going to be extremely hard to say goodbye at the end of the school year. So, Dannielle and Peiling are off to Eureka. Enjoy girlies and stay safe!

My youngest Josie has discovered an amazing group of friends from the Rolling Hills ward and the Maize ward and since she has started hanging out with them I see her less and less on the weekends, but such is life.

So you would think that my weekend would have been pretty much void of activity, not so! Fortunately St. Joseph's hospital was kind enough to bring Jess's hubby over to St. Francis where Jess and Lizzie were, so with Lizzie on the peds floor and Jess and hubby on the fourth floor and in the same room (How cool is that?) I was able to have a very unusual Friday night, spent with the best kind of people, watching movies we grew up with, giggling like we did when we were young and careless. In one of the Harry Potter movies, the character Professor Dumbledore said "Even in the darkest of times, one can find happiness if they just remember to turn on the light." I can't believe that at first I was disappointed in the cancelling of the trip, which made me realize that I was being selfish, but in the end I'm just glad that my friends are well and with this life that tends to go by way to quickly that I was blessed to have spent a few hours with some of the people that make this life, beautiful.