Monday, August 30, 2010

On the Shelf

Well, here is the update from last week. J went to his ortho consult on Thursday. With the way the scaphoid is broken, he was put on the shelf from all sporting activities for four weeks. There was a debate on whether to let him kick for the football team. He is wearing a regular cast, and they could pad around it. The trouble lies in the fact that J is probably the best kicker these parts have seen in a long time. In fact, I have already heard talk about him in the store. The concern becam, the first time he kicked a long field goal, there would be someone gunning for him during the ensuing kickoff. The thing with the bone he injured is that it is one of the worst to break and if it gets any more compromised the fix just isn't putting in a few pins. It is bone grafting and a long recovery time. It was decided, that in J's best interest, he couldn't play. This upset him, but sometimes parenting isn't easy. The following day, it was explained to him what could happen and what the fix would be. He didn't think sitting out for four weeks was so bad .

Friday, we went to meet my family. We had a nice time. My Pap discussed his time in the Army which included a stint in Germany. We went out to lunch. It was interesting trying to explain what mayonnaise was to J. I finally just said you like having it on turkey sandwiches at home, so he told the waitress he waned it on his sub. My father was impressed with the amount of food J can eat. He was the only one to finish off his lunch. We came home, and L took J to the school for an open house. J got his schedule and then, went up to the football scrimmage. His schedule isn't bad. It will be interesting to see how challenging it is for him. He had had most of the classes that the school offers, so the counselor did the best she could to get him a schedule. He also got a personal tour of the school from some girls. For those who have actually seen J, that should not be a surprise. He came with a few phone numbers.

On Saturday, we all went to meet L's parents and family friends of theirs at a fiddle competition. This was being held at an farm where everything is still done the old way. T liked running around and seeing the animals there. The fiddle competition was nice. Although, I think the judging was rigged or something because the person that was best by far didn't even place. We did get to see a couple nickelharpas. These are Swedish instruments. I learned from the Viking in SC's host mom that they are related to the hurdy gurdy. We thought it would be fun just to say we went to hurdy gurdy concert.

Yesterday, my sisters, borther-in-law, mom, and niece came to visit us. We had many laughs. J had my sister believing that he didn't have electricity at his home in Germany. He also fit right in by making fun of everybody. Last night we just relaxed as J starts school today. This morning I dropped him off since the bus owner never called me back to tell me what time J gets picked up. It should be interesting to see how his first day of class went.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some People Will Do Anything to Get Out of Housework.

Well, seven days ten minutes after landing in the US, J managed to break his wrist. His US soccer career has been probably cut short. He went to tackle the soccer ball and fell. He landed on his outstretched arm and that was that. I was not impressed how the soccer coach handled the situation. He basically found out about it towards the end of practice. Instead of calling for the athletic trainer, he sent J to football practice. Luckily, the football players realized that swelling twice the size of the other arm wasn't a good thing. These boys went and found the AT, and he looked at it. He figured that there was a fracture and he was correct. Needless to say, I wasn't happy learning about this hours later, and from J who told me that he needed x-rays. My afternoon was spent running around trying to obtain insurance papers from the school which I won't have until tomorrow because they couldn't be found. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the ER. We had to wait extra because no one realized J was a year long exchange student. They thought he was one of the kids from a local camp that foreign children attend. As much as I was happy that they thought, I was a young 20 something camp counselor, I would rather have not had to watch those who came in after us come and go. It wasn't until being there 3 1/2 hours that it came out that J had a real home, and that I wasn't getting paid overtime to be sitting there doing nothing. Good thing L could come home from work to watch T although I am sure we would have been in and out if T had been there. This week will be spent going to see an orthopedist and for J to get a real cast. Now, ER don't do real casting. The claim was due to swelling. Truth, as I know from people who work in ERs, physician assistants see the majority of the cases, and they aren't qualified to make casting decisions. I am okay with that because I would prefer an ortho guy to do it. The good news is that it doesn't seemed to be displaced, so he should only be in a cast for six weeks. This also opens up that possibility that he can still be the place kicker for the football team which was his main concern.

Yesterday, we went to the zoo. J got to see some new animals. That was a joy for him. T was more interested in picking up sticks and rocks. The funny thing happened when T was in the turtle petting area, and he grabbed a turtle's head thinking it was a rock. Last night, we just relaxed and watched the Phillies game and the Sprint Cup race. Hopefully, this week doesn't turn to be too busy, and we can get to relax even more.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Busy Few Days

Things have definitely gotten busy the past few days. J started football practice. His first day was a little rough. He was thrown right into a position. They made him a cornerback to start. This surprised me because I was sure that he would kick the ball around a little and that be that. I didn't expect them to try to play him anywhere else other than place kicker. He wasn't a big fan of corner. He did manage an interception, but wasn't sure if he had done something right or wrong at first. The other problem became that some boys were throwing a party Saturday that was going to involve some activities that weren't exactly legal for people of their age. This completely threw J for a loop because he was told kids here can't drink alcohol. It was either not explained or lost in translation that some do. J wasn't invited to the party, but overheard it. He was going to quick the team over this, and just join another team. We had to explain to him that it was most like going to happen no matter what team he joined. There were kids in every group that did this. He did find some nice boys on the team, and we gave him tips to try an avoid the other boys. The next day he did go back to football practice made friends with more of the good kids and was fine. He still didn't think football was his sport though. This, is when things became really interesting. See, J kicked on day two. This football team doesn't have one kid on the regular team that can kick the ball. J, not only can kick the ball, but from what I hear can kick it real far. He outkicked the area the have pre-measured to check distance. They never told him how far he was kicking, but one coach did exclaim "Holy Macaroni" after he kicked the first one. The coaches weren't about to let the only kid who may score them some points walk. J gets in the car after practice and tells us that he is now the football kicker, and on the soccer team. The state does allow for this. Now, he is a starter for the soccer team, and the football team's PK. He mainly practices with the soccer team, but does run up after soccer practice and kick's a few balls with the football guys. Both coaches are keeping an eye on his for fatigue, so he is being watched carefully. I would like to think it is because they are concerned about his welfare, but this is small town America. These sports makes legends out of not only the teams, but the players and coaches as well. I know they are keeping an eye to make sure he can do his job efficently on both teams. They aren't about to let their star player go down. J also got his first taste of American style soccer yesterday. Let's just say he learned the teaching lags considerably behind their European counterparts. First, he is so good that he finally gets his chance to play striker on a team. He is a defenseman in Germany. Two, he also got to see that even in high school, these kids still chase the ball around like little kids. There is no real position play here yet. He actually asked one of his defensive guys what they were doing during practice yesterday. He hopes that with a little guidance, he can get them to understand the importance of playing their position. This was also followed by no wonder US soccer has taken so long to get anywhere on the international scene. J couldn't believe what he was seeing on the field. I told him he will see it with the other teams as well. He thinks this is just crazy. Tomorrow, is his first football game. I will post with how well things went.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When in America

We knew before he came over here that J would most likely play a sport. Over in Germany, he plays club soccer and tennis. He is very athletic. Well, when the time came for him to choose one, he didn't go with soccer. He went with football. He wanted the chance to play a sport he probably would never play again. L called the coach last night, and he had already gotten wind of the athletic German kid who could kick a soccer far. See, the kicker here graduated, and they had no one on the team that could kick. Also, J is much taller than most of the kids on the team. I forsee him learning another position also while on the team. Now, of course, I am in my glory that he is playing. See, when naming T, one of my concerns was how good it would sound over a sport PA system. SJ's name on the other hand can and will be butchered. If pronounced American English style, it becomes a girl's name. J is aware of this, and has a good sense of humor about. He picked classes today and went to practice after he did that. He seemed very excited watching the other boys practice. I hope that the excitement is still there after he gets knocked around a little. I can't wait for him to get home and hear what he thinks about. Oh, and his only football experience is watching the last two Super Bowls. This should prove interesting, but hey, it is what these kids come over to experience.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

J is Here!

Yesterday, was the big day. We were up late Friday night. Not because of J's arrival the following day, but because L's cousin is here finishing our solar hot water system, and we were visiting with him. The following morning came quick to say the least. I had everything done for J's arrival, but there was running around to get ourselves ready to go. We had a long drive to pick up J, who was at the University of Delaware. We left our house about noon and was on our way.

The drive to the University wasn't bad. There was traffic outside of Philly, but that was headed in the other direction. We made it there in a little over three hours which we thought was good. The only glitch came in that we weren't told where on campus they were. I figured they must be putting out signs if they have told us, and that University must be on the smaller side. Shouldn't be hard to find them. Well, for my NJ readers, the campus is like Rutgers. Here we are on a large campus and have no idea where to go. Luckily, we thought to bring our rep's cell number, and he led us to the location.

Once we got there, T needed to be changed. Since we were going into a common dorm area, I figured it would be best to change T in the car. I was pretty sure that they were going to be changing tables in the restroom, and it turns out my hunch was correct. We went into the recreation room where the kids were, and I spotted J in the back staring at the door. He was waiting for us to walk into the room. We got there and got our picture taken in front of the German flag. Spoke to a couple of AFS volunteers, and then, we had the nice ride home. We stopped at Friday's to get something to eat. J commented about the portion size in American restaurants because you get small portions in Germany. During the drive home, we learned that there are no billboards in Germany, so that it was interesting to him to see them on the highways here. We also just shared family stories, and got to know one another better. When we got home, L's cousin was here finishing up our hot water heater, and he also spent the night. It was nice visiting with him.

Today, there isn't much to report because our small chance of rain has turned into an all day rain event. J unpacked his things, and also gave us some very nice gifts. I now have a very nice German cookbook that has many recipes that I will try. L got a huge beer stein. T got a stuffed giraffe that he loves. J also bought him a wonderful utensil set for when T gets a little older. So far, we are having a wonderful time with J, and I really think that it will be a great year. Once we get some more pictures, I will post a few.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

He's Getting Ready to Leave

Just spoke to J and his Mom on Skype. It was a very nice and fun conversation. His mother reminded me very much of my mother. I know that the next few hours ahead are going to rough for her. She is sending her youngest son across the Atlantic to people who are virtually strangers. Even though we have e-mailed each other and gotten to know one another it will still be a hard goodbye for her. I also thinking that it will be hard for his brother B. They are always doing things together and are extremely close, so I think it will be a big adjustment for him as well. J has another brother F who he is also very close. Even though the older boys are in college they still live at home. That just makes me realize that this will be the first child to leave the nest for any length of time. Yes, this is going to be hard day for him mom. He is all packed. I think that is more thanks to his mother than to his ambition. He was very nonchalant about it yesterday when he wasn't packed, so I think his mother stepping in to help got him all set. He did say that he is 6kg over, and is just going to pay the extra weight fee because he can't take anything more out of the suitcase. He needs what he has left in there. He seemed very excited to be leaving. I was glad that we got the chance to talk to his mother before he left in more personal level. I think this was much better than an e-mail. We could answer a few of her question and put her mind at ease a little bit. I got most everything done that was left on the to-do list. I just have to dust and mop the kitchen floor. Decided to save the floor for tomorrow since it rained all day, and I knew the dogs would be leaving prints on it. I am also going grocery shopping tomorrow. That way I don't have to worry about food for the first few days he is here. It is hard to believe that we will be picking him up in less than 48 hours. It should be an interesting time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hopes and Dreams

One of J's favorite phrases is hopes and dreams. It was even in his host family letter. He is always telling us that he hopes he lives up to our hopes and dreams. Well, that is an easy task for him. See, I learned along time ago you don't put expectations on this experience. It was one of the pieces of advice that my grandfather gave me for this endeavor. He said to just let things evolve. They never went into it expecting anything because he felt with each individual being so different they would just set the placement up to fail if they expected things. Of course, there were some things unstated that were expected such as rule following and those kind of things, but other than that it was just to let the relationship evolve and see how it developed. Now, some who know the man might think I would be crazy to listen to him. After all, these two were borderline certifiable. Yes, I do love my grandparents, but picture Frank and Marie Barone and you can get the idea of what these kids lived with every day. Not only did they live with them, but they loved these two nutjobs to the point that many kept contact with them. There has to be something said for that. This also got me thinking. I hope that we live up to J's hopes and dreams. Here he is coming to live with a toddler and two people who have never lived through the teen years, or I should say the teen years from the parent perspective. The best part of blogging is that you get to meet other people in the cyberworld. I can say that I now don't feel alone going through this. I am following other blogs where the people involved are in the same situation. We can all go through this together, and hopefully help each other if the need arises. I am feeling like this now, and I still have a few days until the whole reality of the situation hits. Others have that reality sooner. I think I like being in my spot better. Earlier, while reading other blogs, I was a little jealous that others had their kids on their way. Then, it dawned on me. I get to read how that first day goes before I have my first day. Might pick up some pointers. See sometimes having to wait does have it benefits. It does make me glad that I have found others to follow, and I can watch everyones relationship grow and hopefully see hopes and dreams met.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cultural Name Game

One of the things learned in orientation is that there will be times when communicating does become an issue because of different terminology in cultures. You figure this type of thing will happen when your host son or daughter are here. What you don't expect is for it to happen before they arrive? Last night I received a very nice e-mail from J's mom. In it was a question. Would L help J buy and American handy? She thought this would be more up L's alley. Here's the thing. L would be more than happy to help J purchase one if L knew what an American handy is. Numerous internet searches came up unsuccessful in trying to figure it out. L has German relatives, but by the time I got the e-mail it was way past their bedtimes. We tried to figure it out ourselves and thought it might be an electric razor. Heck, sounds good doesn't it? A razor is a handheld device. His wouldn't work over here with our outlets. That must have been it. Well, today I figure I probably should find out for sure. Went on Facebook to see if there was one of the numerous Germans I have as friends on at the same time. Luckily, B, J's oldest brother was. I asked him if a handy was a razor. Then, I had to explain what a razor was. After B stopped laughing, he proceeded to tell me that an American handy was an American cell phone. In Germany, a handy is a cell phone. So today, I spent the day checking out what will be the best pre-paid plan on a cell phone for a teenager. This is when having friends with teens comes in handy(no pun intended). Thinking along the lines of texting use I think I have come up with the best/least expensive option for J. I had to do a ton of research because we have one cell phone. It is pre-paid and 1000 minutes will last us a year. We don't use cell phones. I know that is sad in this day and age, but it is the way it is folks. Ours is just for emergency or when we travel. Like I said I think I know what will work best now, and he won't be trying to use a razor to talk to his friends.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting Ready for Arrival.

J arrives on Saturday. Actually, he comes on Friday, but has an orientation on Saturday. Since he will be having his orientation at the University of Delaware which is a three hour plus drive from here, I am trying to get as much done during the beginning of the week. We will be driving down there and picking him up on Saturday afternoon. We did joke with him that it was too far to drive, so he was going to have to take a taxi up here. He, fitting right in, has asked for the taxi schedule numerous times knowing darn well we are coming to get him. For those of you who have said about out far drive. I understand the dynamics of how they pick the sites. Yes, we would like the pick up point to be closer, but with many things living up here, we are just going to have to do the drive. Besides, our part of all this is really easier than J's. Think about it. He is flying into New York. Then, he is being bussed to Delaware, and then, has to ride all the way up here. Our part is easy. I am sure though with all the years that AFS has been doing this that his part will actually be easier than it sounds. Things on paper sometimes look worse than they are. I have been working on getting things in order. I read another blog today that talked about nesting. That author was correct. It really is a good way to describe it. You want to get the house in order as much as possible. I did tell J that there was only so much that I can do. I do have a toddler in the house, and I am under no illusion that the T Tornado will go through most likely last minute. What are you going to do? I am also getting him some things to welcome him here. I will not list them just in case he decides to read this. This week will be very exciting. It will be one of those weeks that seem to drag on, and then all of sudden pick up speed. Saturday still can't get here quick enough in my opinion.

Wonders of Communication

You don't realize how far communication has come until you get to use the new technology. This statement is coming from a communication major. I have been out of college now approaching 15 years. The internet was just starting to take off during that time. It was more used along the lines for research at that time. You really didn't use it to communicate with the exception of the occasional e-mail. Boy did I never realize how it was going to explode. When Mem and Pap hosted, they may hear once from their exchange student before they arrived. Many times there was no communication before the students arrived. On Father's Day this year, we received an e-mail. The subject was titled "I am so excited." We had our first communication with J. He had gotten permission to contact us before we had permission to contact him. He did what most people do now. He sent an e-mail. He then did the next step in communication today. He added us as friends on Facebook. We talked to him on there later that day. He left for a class trip the following day. He would be gone for a week. We heard from his Mother and oldest brother during that time. I talked to his brother more than him that first week. Well, what transpired was what a consider a good start to what is becoming a good friendship between the two families. We were able to respond to questions and put their minds at ease on many things. I can truly say that I have enjoyed talking to them. We even joke around many times like we have known each other for a long time. Just think back before the internet. There was no way to do this kind of thing prior to it really. With the cost of international calls, you wouldn't have called people much. Sending snail mail took forever in many parts, so their was much more of a blind sending of your child into the unknown. At least now, you can have plenty of contact between families if you get your student early enough. You can erase some fears. That wasn't possible before now. Even better is the new Skype technology. We have talked to J on Skype a few times. It was interesting to see his room, and actually talk face to face. Not to mention we were talking to someone in Germany for free. That was probably the coolest thing that has come along. We loved it. All of this is going to make our transition easier.

How Did We Come to This

We are K, L, and T. We live in the northeast part of PA. As many know, we are hosting a German boy this year. Many have asked us why. For those who don't know the story yet. My grandparents hosted 32 exchange students over the years. Yes, you are reading that number correctly. I grew up around exchange students. I was a few years old when they started and well into my 20's when they stopped. They doubled up quite a bit, so that makes it easier to get to the higher number of students. With this day and age of internet, I am still in contact with a few of them. My grandparents indirectly led us on this path. See, my grandmother passed away the end of 2008. My grandfather lived with my parents for a bit. When we took him back to his place, there were numerous messages from some of their exchange students. He forgot to let them know that she had passed away. That job fell on me. Well, I decided the best bet was to contact a couple central people. Their exchange student, Jose, worked for the exchange program that they used. He knew almost all of their exchange students. I knew that contacting him would lead to getting the word out a lot easier, and minimize my searching of Brazil. As a side note here, most of my grandparents' exchange students are Brazilian. I ran into a snag when my grandfather had no idea what the name of the program was that they used. I then decided to contact every program that I could find to see if Jose worked for their Brazilian counterparts. I heard back from an AFS rep. He checked and Jose didn't work for them. We talked a little bit, and that was that. Well, that's what I thought anyways. Fast forward to March of this year. I received and e-mail from the same rep. He didn't know if we wanted to do it, but if we wanted to host, he thought he had the perfect kid for us from some of what we had talked about. At first, I thought this was a crazy idea. Our son is 1 1/2 years. Did we want to jump into having a toddler and a teen in the house? I talked it over with my husband. We decided that pros outweighed the cons, and so we decided to do it. It should be an interesting time.