The Hub

I know some people who recently opened a restaurant in Hanover, PA.  The restaurant is called The Hub.  They serve burgers and wraps.

Unfortunately, they opened when the exchange students were here and we spent entirely too much money.  We didn’t want the students to get a bad impression of Americans.  There we were, feeding them tomatoes and corn (“Only poor people eat tomatoes and corn in China”), so we had to put on a good show and…turn on the lights.  Ugh!  There were, like, 4 light-fixtures on at the same time each evening.  For hours.  It was making me twitchy.

In fact, we often (often) use the light from our ipads to maneuver around the house at night, like carrying a candle in the olden days.  Did you know that it costs only $1.36 to charge an ipad…for a year?!  I’ll repeat it:  It costs a buck 36 to charge an ipad for a year!  A year, people!  I am not kidding.  Here’s the link.   Providing electricity for four blazing light fixtures costs way more than a buck 36.

And it wasn’t just the blazing lights–we had to feed the students food, take them laser tagging, take them to Li’s Buffet, buy them Nerf guns.  The list goes on and on.

So, we didn’t go to The Hub when it first opened.  We wanted to save up some money for a bit.

But I finally got to go tonight.  Remember my Soup friends?  I used to meet with a group of women every other week for lunch.  We always ate soup.  We don’t meet as much anymore–only every other month or so, so we missed two birthdays.  We arranged to meet this evening at The Hub to celebrate the birthdays we missed.

There we were at The Hub, being cackling 30/40 year-old women and talking entirely too loudly.  After we had dinner, it was time to sing Happy Birthday.  Now, as you all may recall, when my family sings Happy Birthday, they sound like those dying giraffes I’ve told you about.  But since there was no family around, I had a chance to sing it normally.  And loudly.  Oh, I wasn’t the only one.  They were all belting it out.  Nice and loud and…on key.  Yes!  On key!  And when we got to the last “Happy Birthday to you”  three of the women in my party broke into a perfect three-part harmony.  A three-part harmony!  I’m telling you, other patrons in the restaurant had to dab the tears from their eyes, it was just that beautiful.  That’s what happens when you sing Happy Birthday with three members of the church choir.  Choir people sing loud and proud, on key, and in harmony.  I’m hiring them to come to the next Lizard family birthday party.

And now, the food:  Oh yum–it was delicious.  They have some sort of seasoned fries with some of the seasoning at the bottom of the basket so you can roll your fries around in it.  Or, you could get chips instead.  I was imagining a bag of nasty old chips, which is why I went with the fries, but no.  No!  Not at The Hub.  At The Hub, you get homemade hand cooked chips.  Mmm.

And don’t forget the friendly service.  I got a few pictures of Joy.  Here’s one:

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I love her look.  I plan on going back to The Hub when there’s better light in the windows and taking more pictures of her.  While I eat chips.  Those were some good chips.  Joy was polite about me taking pictures of her.  I forget that people aren’t used to having their pictures taken with big ol’ cameras.  Cell phones, yes.  Big ol’ cameras, no.  But she managed to ring up my bill, even with all the whirring and clicking of the camera directed her way.  A true professional.

After eating, we hung about for a bit on the sidewalk saying our good-byes when a friend of ours passed by in his mini-van.  He rolled down a window to holler out a friendly insult.  I missed exactly what he said, but it was something about being hooligans on the street corners, or some such thing.  Now, that’s not a very exciting story to tell you, until you get to the part where one of my friends didn’t recognize him and was getting increasingly upset.  “Oh, that’s just disgusting!” “Oh, seriously?!”  “I just…splutter…splutter…!”   She was on the verge of hurling insults his way when the light changed and he drove off.

So, there you have it:  ipads are a cheap source of light, bring a choir with you when you sing Happy Birthday, the food at The Hub is yummy, and Tim was not trying to pick up a group of cackling women while driving around Hanover, PA in his minivan.

Lost in New York City

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Justin and Boy8.  Justin looooves cars. But he prefers new ones and not old ones.

So these 36 kids from China come to America for a 2 week vacation.  About half of them speak passable English but the other half barely speak a word.  They can say, “My name is …”, “How are you?” “A little,” and “Monique is at the library.”  No, wait.  That last bit was from my high school French class.

The kids range in age from 11 to 17.  Eleven!  Boy10 turns eleven in a month!  Granted, the 11-year-old from China (Zhon) was taller than me and possibly outweighed me, so maybe his parents forgot he was only eleven, but still–eleven!  I wondered how their parents felt about this trip.  Sure, they must have been ok with it enough to send them in the first place, but as John said after a phone call with his mother, “My mother worries.”  John is 13.  Of course his mother worries.  I have friends with 13 year olds and they’re only 40% grown.  At age 13, you’re still 60% kid.

For example, as much as Justin likes his ties and talks his politics, he still has a big dose of kid in him.  We were greeted every morning with a house-rattling THUMP as he leaped from the top bunk of the bed onto the floor.  When my parents visited and stayed in the bunks we were not greeted each morning with a magnificent THUMP as my mother leaped from its heights.  No.

So, these kids’ parents see them off at their local airport.  From the local airports, the kids fly to the Beijing airport, which is the second largest in the world.  I’ve been telling people it’s the largest, but I was wrong—the one in Atlanta is the largest.

Once they’re in the second largest airport in the world, these kids, including any eleven year olds, have to find their way, all by themselves, to the flight that’ll take them to America.  Remember—their parents are home in Fuzhou or Shangdon or wherever they’re from–hours and hours by plane away.

Then once they arrive in America, the students will be staying with strangers and being bussed to various major cities to go sight-seeing.  They will have one American and two Chinese chaperones.  For 36 kids, half of whom don’t speak English.

I wondered how the parents were feeling about their babies off in another country.  A good many of them must have missed their kids and been worried about them.  I know I was worried about them.  The responsibility for their safety weighed heavily on me.  For example, even though it’s not a law for the backseat, I require everyone to wear seatbelts no matter where they sit in my car.  No way do I want a 150 pound person in the backseat flying into the back of my neck, killing us both, if there’s an accident.  You stay in your seat, and I’ll stay in mine.

So, every time the kids rode in the car, I reminded them to wear their seatbelts.  I carpooled with Vince’s students a few times so sometimes I had 5 students in the car.  Every time I started the car, I would sing out, “Seatbelts!”  I told them, “I am not going to call your mother and say, ‘John died in America.’”  Justin translated it to the car and they all laughed and laughed, but it’s true.  I am not calling some worried Chinese mamma and telling her that her son died in America.  Sheesh.

On the day they were to visit New York City I carpooled the five kids to the meeting place at 8:00 in the morning and Vince was going to bring them home at 10:00 that night.

But at 10:00 Vince called and said, “They’re going to be late.  They told us something happened in New York and they’ll be an hour and a half late.  I don’t know what happened.”

Huh.  I wonder what happened.

At almost midnight, Vince dropped off our students.  They were happy to see us and were all smiles and bouncing around the house.  John forgot to take his money to New York and only had enough pocket money for a t-shirt.

Ha—pocket money!  I washed and dried some ‘pocket money’ by accident.  When I opened the dryer, there, sitting as nice as you please on top of the clothes, was a $100 bill.  Later in the week, we bought some skin cream for another kid’s mom and he paid us back with…a $100 bill.  And Zhon, the burly 11 year old, gave Vince’s seven-year-old a present—a $100 bill.  The seven year old held it for all of 3 seconds with wide happy eyes and a big grin while angels sang in the background before Vince said, “Nope!  Not gonna happen!” and yanked it out of his fingers and gave it back to Zhon.

So, John bought his $30 “I heart NY” t-shirt and Justin was bouncing around the living room because he had finally bought his ipad.  He had talked about it non-stop all week—about going to the Apple Store in NYC to buy the ipad.  He had wrestled with whether or not to buy a full sized one or a mini.  What a delicious decision to have to make.

And in the middle of them bouncing around the house and giving me their leftover packed lunch and showing us the ipad, Justin mentioned that he got lost in New York City.

Lost in New York City!

Really, really lost–as in, make the bus an hour and a half late because one of the kids is LOST IN NEW YORK CITY!!

I’ll tell the tale in Justin’s own words.  Read it with a lilting accent and a lot of expression, because that’s how he talked:

I am in the Apple store and I buy my new ipad.  Full sized.  My father tells me to buy full sized.

But I must find the bus.  But the bus!  It is on seventh avenue—so, so far from fifth avenue.  So far.  I do not know where it is.  Why so far?  And I am lost!  Fifth avenue is too crowded.  So many people.  So many.

I find an old man.  I ask the old man, “Where is the Apple Store?”  The old man say, “Close!”  and I am so happy.  So happy that it is close.  But when I get to the store, it is an…apple store.  (At this point, Justin mimes eating an apple.)  Not the Apple Store!  I am so lost!

I asked, “How did you find your way back?”

His answer:  I use google GPS to find the Apple Store.

Lesson learned: do not ask little old men about new technology.

But at the same time, I love this world our kids are growing up in now.  Technology is such a part of their lives that it’s science fiction come true.  When I watch Star Trek with my kids we see Picard using his touch screen ipad at his desk and Captain Archer Skype-ing with the people back on earth.

Justin seemed none the worse for his little adventure in the Big Apple.  But when the kids were offered an optional shopping trip on their last day in America, he told me with a big grin, “I will not go shopping.  Maybe be lost again!”

And that’s when we went laser tagging instead of shopping.  Ay yi yi.

But that’s a story for another day.

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John with Michael at church. Michael did not play the drums the day they visited. Such a disappointment.

Parenting, Young Teenagers, and Teen Literature

Hi all!  Today’s post is written by a guest writer, Jeff.  A little background:  Jeff is a calm and thoughtful man who has four children.  He works as a master in the circuit court hearing cases involving juvenile delinquents.

Here’s Jeff:

I love to read.  Histories, mysteries, biographies, adventure, espionage, crime, Dusty Lizard Blog – they’re all fun for me.  Once I discovered books on CD, I could even read while driving!  My wife loves to read, too.  In fact, she reads so voraciously that we tease her about only reading every third word on every other page.  My wife and I produced four young readers.  We constantly hear the happy refrain of “can you reserve the next book in my series at the library, please.”  No problem.  As parents, one of our great joys is to see our children curled up with books.

As our children age, however, we spend less and less time in the children’s section of the library.  This is the natural way of things and, despite a bit of nostalgic melancholy, we are grateful for their advancing reading skills, the new adventures they will encounter, and the opportunity to discuss books as peers.

Our son Peter’s school helped this process along by assigning a summer reading project.  He was to pick a book (1) appropriate to his reading level, (2) that he had not read before, (3) that had won or been a runner-up for a literary award, and (4) that had not been made into a movie.  The arrival of this assignment prompted one of those delicious parent moments when our son was alternately whining and venting his wrath while his mother and I smiled serenely.  Little did we know that it was to be us, not our son, who would encounter a brave new world: teen literature.

First, let me introduce you to book awards.  I was familiar with two, the Newberry Medal and the Caldecott Medal, both of which are given for children’s literature by the American Library Association (www.ala.org).  After some research I learned that the ALA is not alone in this endeavor.  Everybody gives out book awards.  Professor Google can introduce you to book award lists created by anyone from international literati to individual local libraries.

I decided to stick with what I knew and perused the Newberry and Caldecott winners and honor books for the last several years.  It quickly became apparent that my son’s reading level was beyond the books considered for those awards.  I kept looking and found the Printz Medal, which is awarded by the ALA for teen literature.  I also found the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, which is awarded by the National Book Foundation (www.nationalbook.org).  Given that both are awarded annually, I thought the past five years would provide a good-sized pool of books from which to fish.

I tried to separate the fish from the chum by eliminating all books dealing primarily with relationships, mysticism, horror, girls, and general teen angst.  I also shied away from non-fiction, just for the sake of keeping my son interested.  From the remaining books, I selected three: “Feed” by M.T. Anderson, “Jasper Jones” by Craig Silvey, and “Nation” by Terry Pratchett.

“Feed” (2002 National Book Award Finalist) is a futuristic story in which people are implanted with a device that feeds instant internet-type information directly into the brain.  The main character, who is implanted, meets another character, who is not implanted, and must face the consequences of this technological development.  Sounded like something my son would enjoy.  Unfortunately, in the first chapter the main character and his friends talk about going to the moon (a popular hang-out) to get drunk, pick up girls, and …  I didn’t read any further and I didn’t give it to my son.

“Jasper Jones” (2012 Printz Medal Honor Book) is a coming-of-age story set in Australia.  I enjoyed this book despite the nearly constant cussing.  The dialog is well-written, and the plot carries you along and leaves you anxious for the conclusion.  The author admits to being a fan of authors from the American south, and readers will recognize Huck Finn and Scout Finch among the pages of “Jasper Jones.”  Unfortunately, the reader will also find an explicit sex scene where the main character catches his mother in adultery as well as a key plot line involving parent-child sex abuse.  I let my son start this book, but thankfully I was reading ahead and made him stop before he encountered these heavy topics.

Worried that this process was not going well, I selected several more books including “Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi (2011 Printz Medal Winner; 2010 National Book Award Finalist).  This post-environmental apocalypse story is about an impoverished teen employed to strip valuable materials out of decrepit, beached transport ships, but who has big dreams and big challenges.  The story is raw, which effectively conveys the main character’s stark existence, but there are repeated scenes involving drinking and drug abuse, child abuse, and prostitution, including child prostitution.  Not sure he’s ready for that either.

I also tried “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to a Nation Volume 1: The Pox Party” (2007 Printz Medal Honor Book) which is also by M.T. Anderson.  This book met the school’s criteria, but I would’ve picked it up anyway because I’m a sucker for a unique title.  I didn’t finish it.  It’s weird.  I’m not sure that M.T. Anderson and I are going to get along.

I began to fear that “teen literature” was code for “teen characters dealing with adult issues.”  I admit that my journey through the world of teen literature has not been comprehensive. I have barely scraped the surface.  But as a parent, particularly a parent of avid young readers, I became concerned.  How was I to encourage more difficult reading if doing so accelerated the pace at which I wanted to introduce complex, mature topics and the manner in which I wanted to introduce them?

Before you reject me as a book-burner, rest assured I am not.  I oppose efforts to burn or ban books.  But I’m also a parent charged with nurturing and protecting my children.  Those tasks become more complicated when a book suddenly involves – SURPRISE! – a father molesting his daughter.  It’s hard to discover those tidbits in the blurbs on library websites, Amazon, or even the dust jackets of the books themselves.  Am I to spend my children’s teen years previewing their books?

Some of you are thinking, “welcome to parenting teens.”  I admit that part (maybe most) of my difficulty is the fear of releasing my kids to grow up, to experience the world, and to decide for themselves what is right and wrong.  They will eventually discover all of these issues, but until now I have been the dam holding back the great reservoir of worldliness and sin that seeks to drown and corrupt them.  I am reluctantly opening a few flood gates in a controlled release, but it’s frustrating to discover that another gate is wide open without my knowledge.  Maybe I’m naïve.  Maybe I’m silly.  Maybe I’m sentimental.  Maybe I’m just like every other parent struggling to raise good kids in a dark world.

So what do we do?  We parent and we persevere.  We do the very best we can to know what our children are reading, viewing and hearing.  We maintain an open a dialog, and we stop what we’re doing to answer questions and talk.  We teach them, we train them, and then we trust them.  We pray and pray some more and keep praying while we let them grow up.  And we allow ourselves some moments of nostalgic melancholy over their childhoods.

Lest you become book-burners yourselves, I did discover a few fish in that pool were worth keeping.

“Flesh and Blood So Cheap” by Albert Marrin (2011 National Book Award Finalist) is about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911.  This is a dramatized account of an historic event.  For those unfamiliar with the Triangle fire, it was a horrific tragedy so the book obviously contains some difficult passages.

“Dodger” by Terry Pratchett (2013 Printz Medal Honor Book) is a fun and interesting story.  Imagine if the Artful Dodger (of “Oliver Twist” fame) was a real person who met and befriended Charles Dickens on the streets of London and helped him solve a mystery.  There is some language, drunkenness, and fallen women.

“Nation” by Terry Pratchett (2009 Printz Medal Honor Book) is about a boy growing up on a Pacific island who, thanks to a freak tsunami, finds himself alone on the island with a shipwrecked English girl.  They must find a way to communicate, work together, find the best of their cultures, and face their bleak prospects while they rebuild a “nation.”

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak (2007 Printz Medal Honor Book) shot straight into my personal all-time favorite books list.  I loved this book and the unique style in which it is written.  The story takes place in Nazi Germany, so the holocaust is part of the story but in a tangential way.  The main character is a foster child who finds what the people in her life are really made of while they face the ongoing war.  This could be a good book to help introduce some difficult World War II topics, like the holocaust, to your child.

“When My Name was Keoko” by Linda Sue Park (unjustly denied a major book award) is about a Korean girl and her brother growing up during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 1900s.  You will laugh.  You will cry.  Your heart will break and then this wonderful author will mend it and give it back to you.  One of my all-time favorite books.

If your readers are a little younger, try “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick (2008 Caldecott Medal Winner) and “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park (2002 Newberry Medal Winner).

Overbearing Mom Person

In case you haven’t been following—we recently had two exchange students from China stay with us for two weeks.  They left this past Sunday.

There were 36 students in all.  When they got here, they were paired up and sent to live with host families during the evenings and weekends.  During the day, the group would meet at a local high school and either have classes or take trips to local tourist places.  They went to Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC and, uh…a goat farm.

On one afternoon the students were taken bowling.  The host families were invited to come along.

Ah!  Perfect!  The students were staying in my house in the evenings and Nephew14 was staying during the day.  For whatever reason Nephews don’t like to hang out all day cleaning houses, so I had to come up with something for him to do while he was here.  Bowling sounded great.

We got to the bowling alley early—Boy8, Boy10, Nephew14, and me.  The students weren’t there yet and we were the first host family to arrive.  We ordered some bowling alley pizza and waited for the other families to show up.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, the students were there…but no other host families.

Oh, rats.

My exchange students were going to be the only students with the wackadoodle host family that showed up at the bowling alley–the overbearing Mom with her kids tagging along.  What an embarrassment to them.  If it had been just me and my kids, I’d have slipped away before they saw us, but I didn’t think I could get Nephew14 out of there.  He was still eating his bowling alley pizza.

The students didn’t see us at first.  The bowling alley had pre-entered the students’ names onto the score boards and the chaperones were releasing the students off the bus lane by lane.  It was all very orderly.

Until all of the students were in their lanes.  And then…chaos.

Apparently, none of the students had ever bowled before.  And here they were—in America, wearing silly shoes, brightly colored bowling balls in hand with those upright pins mocking them at the end of the alley.  Down with the pins!

All at the same time, the students began rolling the balls down the alleys.  They had no concept of the rules.  No concept of “each person goes twice,” no concept of “wait for the pins to be cleared before rolling a second time.”  Just fling the balls down the alley one right after the other and try to knock over those taunting pins.

One ball got stuck in the gutter and Justin (of course it was Justin) took it upon himself to retrieve it.  He went past the line–past the line, people!–and slipped and slid his way down the alley until the guys who worked at the bowling alley had to come and shoo him away.

Throughout all this, I was holding back and considering our getaway as soon as Nephew14 was done eating his bowling alley pizza.  And that’s when John noticed us.

As soon as he saw us, his face brightened and he rushed over to greet us.  “Hello Miss Jackie!  Will you play with me?”  And then Justin noticed us, too.  He gave us a big grin and came to greet us as well.

They most certainly did not perceive us as the wackadoodle mom and kids who embarrassed them at the bowling alley.  Instead, they were happy we were there.  Awww.  And I’m glad to say, one other family finally showed up, which was a relief to me.

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They rarely gave big smiles for the camera. Not sure why not.

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Justin would say, “Smile!” and then…wouldn’t. He bought those sunglasses here for $100 and wore them everywhere–indoors and out.

Later in the week, after their trip to the goat farm, I picked up the students from the school.  Usually they were already in the building but this time they were still on the bus.  When they caught sight of me and my kids walking across the parking lot, they flung their arms out of the bus windows and hollered, “Hello, Miss Jackie!”  Big waves, big smiles.

As soon as they got off the bus, they rushed to us and showed us the ½ gallon of goat’s milk they had bought at the goat farm.  Justin said, “The man told me this was the best milk in the store.”  Of course he would want the best milk in the store.  Justin is a self-admitted perfectionist.  (MrPerfect is part of his email address.)  “We will all try the milk at home.”

And we did.  At first, it was ok, but then…yuck!  Aftertaste.  Darling Husband later told me it tasted like licking a goat.  I’m not sure whether or not John and Justin liked it because we were all being very polite about the milk.  We didn’t want to tell them how yucky it was and they told us everything was delicious.  Everything.  “Very good.  Delicious,” was said at every meal.

Darling Husband told our kids that they should learn from John and Justin and no matter what we give them they have to say, “Very good.  Delicious.”  My friend Bridgette pointed out, “See!  Proof that starving children in China are grateful for their food!”  Well, John and Justin were hardly starving, but it does make for a fun joke.  And it did teach my kids to be a bit more gracious about stuff they don’t like.

And what have I learned from Justin and John?  How to greet people.   In the book “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” the author advises the reader to be interested in people and show that you’re happy to see them.  John and Justin were perfect examples of that admonition.  You can’t help but respond in a positive way when someone is so clearly happy to see you, even if they make you drink gross goat milk.

My Homeschool is Lame

It’s official.  My homeschool is lame.  We study for 6.5 hours during the day, plus an hour for karate on Tues and Thurs, plus 20 minutes of Latin in the evening with Darling Husband and 30 minutes of mandatory reading at night.  This fall we’ll start watching CNN student current events during breakfast and old Bill Nye science shows on youtube during lunch.  Whatever seat work that doesn’t get done in the day gets done in the kids’ spare time.

But it’s still lame.

Justin, the 13 year old exchange student from China, attends school from 7:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night.  Then he comes home and does 3 hours of homework.  Thirteen and a half hours a day.  He became utterly serious and emphatic as he told us, “Marks are the most important thing in China.  Most important.  More than anything.”

So, as you can see, my homeschool is utterly lame.  And so is yours.  And your private school and public school as well.

His 13.5 hours a day sure are paying off.  That kid is razor sharp.  He sat with us and talked politics, history, and economics as if it were the most natural thing in the world for a 13 year old kid to do.  We learned a lot from him.

Here are some things we learned from Justin:

1.  It is cold on airplanes so you must dress warmly.

The first night they arrived, I noticed that Justin’s clothes fit him badly.  I wondered at the tailoring in China.  His clothes were lumpy and his legs were stuffed into the pants like sausages.  What do the Chinese girls think of the Chinese boys and their lumpy clothes?

But after that first day his clothes looked normal for the most part, except that he wore a striped tie with a plaid shirt.  (He loves ties.)

On the last day as he was getting ready to leave he said, “It is so cold on the plane.  They tell us to wear two pants and two shirts.”

Ah.  I see.  So, when he’s on the plane, he’s stuffed into two pairs of pants.  I’m not exactly sure who told Justin to wear two pairs of pants because John came downstairs wearing shorts and a t-shirt.  I’m guessing that John was cold on the ride home and Justin was toasty warm.

Well, he was toasty warm until he arrived in China.  And then he was miserably hot.  Ever since they’ve been back to China, I’ve been getting messages from them.  Here’s the one I got this morning from Justin:

Justin:  Temperature in Fuzhou is 45celsius.  As soon as I had arrived in China, I felt very hot

Me:  45 celsius?!  Hot!  It is 19 celsius here.

45c = 113f

19c = 66f

Now, 113 seems a bit high to me.  I mean, really—113 degrees Fahrenheit?   Then again maybe not.  I just looked up the forecast for Fuzhou and it’ll be 104 with 59% humidity on Thursday.  That’s pretty hot.

Anyway, the reason that “as soon as I had arrived in China, I felt very hot” might not have all been due to the weather.  It might have been in part because he was stuffed into 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants.

2.  Parents don’t understand.

When the students were here it was probably one of the best experiences my family has ever had together.  I’ve only lived in the mostly northern states of America, but I’ve heard of the graciousness of the American south.  The exchange students are from the south of China so perhaps there’s something about living in the boiling hot southern regions of a country that makes for good manners.

If a door needed to be opened, they opened it.  If something fell on the ground, they picked it up.  If someone was lifting something, they jumped to help.  They greeted us warmly each time we met (more on that later) and everything was please and thank you.

I’ve never met such gracious people.  Having them in my home was so easy.

But I’m smart enough to realize it was just for 2 weeks and very likely, after time, we’d have started getting on each other’s nerves.  Probably Justin’s first.

One night we were asking Justin questions about his home.  We asked what happens if he gets in trouble at home.  He said, “Very terrible!”  Then he went on to say that he is an impatient person and when his parents don’t understand him, he curses at them.

Parents don’t understand their kids?  That’s an old, old song Justin.

Literally, an old song.  Will Smith and Justin would get along great.  Parents just don’t understand.

3.  Tomatoes and corn are for poor people.

Justin talked about how after World War II China was poverty stricken.  Everyone was poor and everyone lived on tomatoes and corn.  But now, people like to eat a lot of beef.

Uh oh.  I love tomatoes and corn.  They’re my favorites.  One of my best memories growing up was when I ate 12 tomatoes in one sitting on the ride home from Harper’s Ferry.

In the picture below–dinner:  tomato based minestrone soup and corn on the cob.  Our students had to eat like poor people while they were in America.

John

John

Justin

Justin

Note the gobs of butter on Justin’s plate.  And that was just the beginning.  He added more.  They buttered everything like that.  The butter on their toast was thicker than the bread.

Later in the week I took them to Shannon’s house for a proper meat and potatoes American dinner so they wouldn’t think all Americans were poor, eating tomatoes and corn.

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Obviously, there’s much more to say but my lame homeschool starts in less than two weeks and I’m supposed to be lesson planning right now.

Later.