Monday, August 30, 2004

Can't Sleep

It is Monday night and for some reason I can't sleep. While I am wondering what Anna Rae is doing I can't say that I am worrying. I think it must be all the 'to do' lists zipping around in my head as prepare for school to start. But since my a.m. post got zapped off the computer I thought I would try a second time. I wonder, is the cellist girl the one from N.Y. that you were corresponding with before you left home? She sounds quite interesting; I imagine her as the kind of person who never fades into a crowd. Am I right? Anna Rae, it must be very humbling to be literally 'at a loss for words' for you who is such a chatter box. By the way...following up on Sunday's phone call; I did put the agreed upon amount into your account. As to calling card use; I think it best that we always call you because that is cheapest (unless of course something is wrong and then of course you call). Use whatever calling card you get to call friends here in the U.S. occasionally. I hope the cell phone situation works out. That was so nice of Benoit to get you one from his work. Oh, and taking tennis sounds great. Just let us know the cost. Also, do you need to pay for school lunches or do you go home for lunch? Have you been 'clubbing' yet? Be sure to read Chloe's and her mom's blogs. They have been busy writing and A is here! Well, I am sleepier now so I will head back to bed. tomorrow I have meetings all day then the staff is invited to Mr. and Mrs. T's new condo on Alki for dinner. Thanks for making comments on my blog. You're my one and only fan!

Sunday, August 29, 2004

My Day

Well, Anna Rae gets all her 'news' from reading my blog since she isn't getting email at the moment. Therefore, a little bit about my rather boring day (Anna Rae's phone call set aside)... We read the newspaper and drank lots of coffee. I very nearly have finished painting the underside of our deck and the the posts that hold it up. Chris helped me do a little of it today but this has been 95% my job. It looks so neat and bright! I do have to touch up the 'holidays' and put a second coat of yellow on the beam and posts tomorrow when I make yet another trip to McLendons for paint. I vacuumed and dusted all by myself; your room too, AR. I talked to my sister Lynn in Wisconsin TWICE about teacher related stuff. She will be teaching in a middle school for the first time and she probably has as many jitters as Anna Rae. I went to church (someone behind me was way off key in his singing so that took my mind off of AR not being there), came home and fixed dinner (I sit in your spot at the table now, Anna Rae) did dishes, Chris folded laundry and then fell asleep in front of the TV. So now, here I sit. AR, I will deposit moolah in your account tomorrow afternoon, ok?

An Hour On The Phone

This morning at 10:15 we got our weekly phone call from Anna Rae. Her voice was 'music to my ears'! She's a bit congested but didn't sound too sick to me. The hour just flew by! The connection was great, unlike last week when Chris and I heard our own voices echo like we were talking into a tin can. If you looked at her blog you know that she and Marion babysat a 5 year old who is trilingual on Sat. night. Also, she is really frustrated with the computer situation. She can't even read the comments on her blog; but that does not mean we shouldn't stop making them because eventually she will have a better computer situation. There is so much she told us that it would take hours to put everything into sentences so I will just do a stream of consciousness list of phrases: they have dessert at every meal; cheese or yogurt that comes in glass containers with foil lids, she can't use microwave popcorn; they got rid of the microwave (causes cancer), all the girls are skinny, her host mom is petite, she can see a teensy bit of castle if she walks out into the street, she has visited 2 castles so far, she can't find a hair straightener (YIKES!), today was cloudy and a little rainy, she has not been to the beach yet, HAD planned to do so today but then the weather turned grey, Marion has 2 more days of work at the bank, Marion says her job is boring, Zara (Australian girl) lives with another family, goes to a different school & is very nice, bells ring every hour on the hour every day, Sunday is for families to be together, Anna Rae arrived to Annecy and all her text books were already purchased and on her desk! She ate all her Luna bars and fruit leather (I think she was hinting that she wants more) Benoit, her host dad has a phone he can give to her she just has to pay for activation and minutes (how fortunate for her if this does work)! The dog's name is Canel, is 5 years old. He is affectionate and mild mannered; not a jump all over you kind of dog. She has to go to school on M.T.Th.and Fri. from 8:00 to 4:30 with a 2 hour lunch. Wed. and Sat. she goes just in the morning! She is thinking about taking tennis after school. She misses us very much, can't wait to show us so much! Starting school is 'scary' (Don't worry, Honey. Take it one day at a time. You're sure to make friends quickly.) We miss you too.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Our Anniversary

I spent much of today in my classroom, putting up the calendar and organizing my desk. I also took time to clean out the cabinet that stores books on tape. A lot of the books and tapes were not matched and stored in ziploc bags; that will be remedied before school starts Sept. 8. I also went to the Children's Bookstore to buy nameplates and nametags. Do you know how long it takes just to label everything that a child uses in the classroom; more than and hour I can tell you that! I have 29 kids on my class list thus far. 28 is supposed to be the limit. Administration says there is a 7% 'no show' rate. We shall see.
Today is our anniversary, thank goodness I am a low maintenance woman or we would not be celebrating #22. Most couples go for a dinner out, I opt for a skate along Alki Beach. The weather was rather cloudy but that was actually ok since it cut down the crowds. I like to skate fast but I am NOT 'grace on wheels' so the lighter the pedestrian traffic, the better.
Well, I talked to Anna Rae's counselor at VHS and she helped solve the quandary of how to get Anna Rae to complete the correspondence course she took in Lit. from BYU. They sent the final test here to USA as AR had requested but it arrived AFTER she had left for France. SO now AR's counselor needs to send the test back to BYU unopened. Now Anna Rae must find a new proctor in France (must be a teacher, librarian, counselor, or administrator), the proctor has an online application to complete and AR must request the test be sent to her French proctor. So many hoops to jump through for a realatively easy course.
And AR tells me she has a cold! How I wish I were there fix a cup of tea for her at night, and tell her to take (or not take) Sudafed in the morning. I hope this cold is short lived.
This is the last weekend of the Olympics so I will end my post here so I can enjoy tonight's events with Chris.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

She Called

Well, I did have a nice long post about Anna Rae's phone call from France and everything she told me about her flight and her first impressions of Annecy (she must've said beautiful 4 times) but I lost the post. She sounded happy and really alert in spite of the grueling 24 hours of travel. She learned how to play Poker with other Rotary students and she seems to think she has a talent for the game. However no money was kept; she made that clear to me. She had a few difficulties; her luggage was not checked all the way to Geneva as thought; fortunately she did realize this in Paris and collected her baggage there. Air France wanted to charge her extra for her over the shoulder style backpack; they considered it an extra carry on. They did allow her to empty it and stuff everything into one of her checked bags but it was not easy.
Figuring out where to meet her host family in the Geneva airport was challenging and she ended up having to carry 3 pieces of luggage up lots of stairs (she was not the only exchange student in this predicament).But when she called she was eating chips and guacamole with her host family and she said she loved her room. She says it has doors that open onto the lawn and the woodwork is all light colored, "very pretty" and "modern". While it is a bit smaller than her room at home I can tell she is very happy with her new quarters. And since I am tired and tomorrow I have to face the reality of my 'teacher lifestyle' kicking in I am going to call an end to this post. I have Literacy workshop to attend at 9:00. We will all have to watch Anna Rae's journal for an update as her year in Annecy begins!

Monday, August 23, 2004

At the Airport

At the Airport
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Truly Gone

She's in the air, bound for France. But let me back up, it has been awhile since I have posted an entry. So far, the most difficult time of all was the week before she left. We went to Colman Pool in Lincoln Park on Friday for a relaxing and refreshing end of the summer swim. That evening I taught her how to clean, roast, and carve a chicken for dinner. Not the best of ideas on a hot evening but it is her intention to fix a turkey for Thanksgiving while in France (I am trying to dissuade her). Fixing a chicken at least gave her a basic introduction to poultry preparation. All weekend she was saying good bye over and over to friends and relatives. Making list upon list and crossing off items as they are purchased or packed. Copying everything twice, once for her and once for us: the Guarantee Form which gives info on her host family and school, immunization forms and insurance policy, the visa and passport, the visa application (in case, God forbid!) she loses the actual visa. I made 2 trips to Staples and made a dozen plus copies each time. Packing, measuring and weighing the luggage, doing laundry and packing some more and weighing again. For those of you who are traveling on NW airlines the weight of the luggage is looked at more closely than the measurements. Each of the 2 pieces should be 70 pounds or less. Anna Rae did very well in that area as neither piece weighed more than 55 pounds. She got a hair cut on Sat. from our friend Megan who works at a very nice salon downtown but she cuts ours for a fraction of the cost right here at home, can't beat that. On Sunday morning we were all acutely aware that it was our last day together. Everyone from grandparents and aunts to friends from school and church and even families that she babysat for, were calling to say good bye. She went to McDonalds for one last taste of American fast food and then for dinner I fixed grilled salmon and pasta, a favorite for all of us. Sunday evening she and I went to church together. I think I will miss her most this year when I go to church because that is something we almost always do together and I love to hear her singing with me. There were some tears at one or two points during the day and I can't recall what brought them on, but I almost welcomed them. The emotional release was needed; the stress and exhaustion needed a release.
Last night none of us slept very sound. Anna Rae told us she woke up exactly a minute before her alarm went off at 5:30. She ate her oatmeal and watched a bit of the Olympics and before we knew it we were out the door and off to the airport. Once
in line to check luggage we saw 4 other Rotary students, all girls, also checking baggage for the flight to France. It was reassuring to talk with other people going through the same experience. The baggage line took about 40 minutes and then off to Security where we hugged and hugged, and took a couple last pictures and then we watched her zig zag through that line. After she went through Security with no problems we saw her wave her arms over her head and blow us kisses good bye before she connected with a fellow Rotary Student. All in all the time at the airport was only an hour.
Then Chris heads downtown to work and I scour Anna Rae's room for a couple things she forgot: her Rotary name tag and a watch that tells world time. As I am packing a box with these few things the phone rings. It is Marion, Anna Rae's host sister in France!! She had the times confused and thought she was calling in time to tell AR to have a safe trip and to reassure her that her family would be waiting in Geneva to pick AR up. Too bad for AR but I was THRILLED to talk with Marion! She is delightful. She said that she misses Seattle SO much (Marion was an exchange student at Ballard HS last year).
Tonight I think Chris and I will sleep better but I am not so sure about Anna Rae. The flying and airport lay over time run a total of 24 hours! No matter how tired she is I hope she remembers to call us. I can't wait to hear her voice.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Friends at the Party

Friends at the party
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Bon Voyage!

Bon Voyage!
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Bon Voyage

With 25 people the house felt sufficiently lively for a going away party. Anna Rae and her friends stayed downstairs on the patio and in the yard. I heard lots of laughter and loud voices so I took that to be good sign. The adults stuck mostly to the deck and dining room, visiting and not quite as boisterous. At cake time everyone was more or less upstairs. Anna Rae was really surprised to receive gifts and I felt the same way. I was just happy that most of the people invited, could come, and those few that had scheduling conflicts at least stopped by to give their best wishes. The gifts were so thoughtful too; a stuffed turtle from Chloe to use as a pillow on the plane and it is also intended as a good luck charm (maybe now she won't pack PeiPei, her stuffed Panda), a phone card to be used on New Year's Eve to connect her with Christine (a friend with whom she has spent every New Year's Eve since 2nd grade), a notebook creatively decorated with pictures of her friends, a clay ornament that everyone signed, and cards loaded with best wishes and personal messages for only her to read.
Even our new neighbors came with a journal for her. She has some wonderful friends that span her grade school years up to now, Vashon High School.
This week she is trying to touch base with just about everyone, one last time. She is anticipating and dreading the approaching departure all at the same time.
Today she and I went to the Long's Drugs and picked up some lotions and creams to keep her stocked for at least the first 3 months. Both she and I with our dry skin, we are finicky about what we use to moisturize. Then we went to REI and picked out a gift for Marion, her older host sister. Then the last (I swear it) trip to Barnes and Nobles to buy a book about Seattle for her host parents and a good French dictionary and of course two books just for fun. On top of that she went to the library to pick up 4 books she had on hold. She insists that she will be done with all of them except the French history book by the weekend.
Has the packing begun? Barely; she packed shirts today then announced that was enough for today.
I am trying to remember what the forms look like for declaring goods when she goes into airports. If I made her a list of sorts what would be the most helpful way to categorize things?

Friday, August 13, 2004

It's Here!

At last! Anna Rae's visa arrived at 2:30 by Fed Ex. We didn't have a single glitch; she has a visa through July 15'05 and she also received her airline tickets. What a relief. Time to go run some of those errands.

Pumpkin in August

Pumpkin in August
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Waiting for Fed Ex

Well, yesterday Fed Ex came and we were not here so today they will make their second attempt and I am staying 'put' until that envelope is in our hands! Anna Rae is off at a friend's garage sale and here sits her 'worrywart mom'. I did enjoy two hours of yard work, pruning bushes, weeding and watering. My one BIG pumpkin is already turning orange. Not like there isn't other stuff to be done; I have grocery shopping for AnnaRae's Bon Voyage Party to be held on Sunday. This party will be mostly neighbors and close friends of AR. She and I both want to get to a bookstore too so that she can get a French dictionary and a coffee table book of Seattle to give to her host family. Also need to make a run for some toiletries. Yesterday I got a new piece of luggage for AR. Now she has 2 BIG pieces,each being 26 inches high. I read the NW airlines luggage requirements and that seems to be ok as long as they stay under 70 pounds each and no more than 62 linear inches which means LxHxW. Hopefully my next posting will tell of the successful arrival of her visa!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Outbounds exchange students

Outbounds exchange students
Originally uploaded by mtnester.
Here are five of the outbound foreign exchange students from Vashon Island H.S. From left to right, students and destinations: Chloe: Spain, Anna Rae: France, Ben: Argentina, Mallory: Brazil and Andy: Italy

Still No Visa

Didn't sleep much last night. Partly cuz it was so darn hot and then I start to thinking about Anna Rae's Visa; where is it, when will it come, what if it gets here late and on and on. Pointless to worry, how does one stop it? However, Chloe's family does have a nightmare. Check out her mom's (Donna) blog A Whole Year if you want the whole horrid history. Anyway, today the word is that Chloe and her mom and a few other exchange students from around the state have to go to SAN FRANCISCO in person to pick up their visas!! Wow, is this a Rotary and 'The World Is Your Oyster' Travel screw up, or is it indicative about how the Spanish government feels about the USA? Tonight my nightmare will probably be Anna Rae and are are traveling from consulate to consulate in major cities searching for her Visa. All afternoon I have been playing with my photos online and maybe eventually I will understand how to post photos on my blog.

Friday, August 06, 2004

17 Days to Departure

Last Sunday we had a lot of fun at a dinner hosted by the parents of one of the other Vashon Island exchange students, Andy. The food was great as was the company. The weather was perfect for picnicking and as I gazed out over the trees and Puget Sound towards the layers of Olympic mountains I for one, couldn't imagine wanting to be anywhere else. Everybody is a little worried about one thing or another and all the kids (5 were there) are so excited and seem ready, emotionally at least, to be gone. Andy's host family (in Italy) had sent him digital pictures of themselves. Everyone crowded around to see what they looked like (they are younger than his real parents). Like a lot of the families that host, they have a son who will be gone while they have Andy living with them. He will have a younger 'host brother' who is the adopted son of his host parents. This younger brother was originally from Alabama but they must have adopted him as a very young child because he speaks no English. Two of the AFS students left for their countries (Argentina and Brazil) on Tuesday. The boy going to Argentina did not have an assigned host family yet! A third AFS student has mono and will be delayed in going to Argentina for 6 weeks. That is certainly a major disappointment for him. Chloe's mom is concerned about getting through the gate at the airport to say final good-byes. She told us that minors are allowed one person to go to the gate with them. I am hoping that AR does not think I am callous but I would rather say good-bye once than go through the gate and get all weepy a second time.
Tues. Wed. and Thurs. we went to Vancouver CA. That is such a beautiful city with so much to do. On the 'spur of the moment' we decided to join a tour of the UBC campus which we liked a lot. While it is huge (43,000 students I think) it is well planned with everything within reasonable distance. If a student has a passion for swimming this would be the place to go; it has both an outdoor and indoor Olympic sized pool that are beautiful. This marks campus #6 that Anna Rae has visited. We also saw some astounding fireworks on English Bay Wed. night, put on by the country of Spain.
Every year fireworks companies have a competition in Vancouver. This is the first time we saw one. The newspaper said about 125,000 people came to see the display and I can believe it. I was glad the hotel was within walking distance.
Today I dropped off a checklist/form for AnnaRae's Dr. to complete so that she can participate in crew while in France if she wants.
Now I just wish she would start packing so we can see what needs to be weeded out or sent later.