The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: Friends (Page 1 of 7)


I LOVE community theater!

Because of my commitment to Bells on Temple Square and family and church callings, I can only usually do one show per year, with some years that I don’t get to do any shows at all. This year, I REALLY wanted to do a show. Since retiring from Bells was such a loss, I needed something to help fill that void. But which show?

Last year I did my first show with Lehi Arts. Seussical was so much fun, and I loved the experience. I heard them mention that next year they would be doing The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Wow, I thought. That’s could be fun. Fast forward to spring of this year. I kept an eye on the audition announcements and there were several shows I wanted to try for. Alpine was going to be doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor dream coat, and I LOVE that show, so that was #1 on my list, even though I knew that I would only be a chorus member of villager. My summer schedule was still pretty full, as I had a bells concert in June, then a trip to New Mexico also in June, and we are going on a cruise in August. So, whatever show I did had to fit within those parameters. That narrowed it down a lot, and I was planning on auditioning for Joseph. However, I saw on the Lehi Arts website that the dates for the Hunchback show were being changed to earlier in July, and auditions would be in April. It now fit into my timeline, and I sent in an audition video (because auditions were nights I already had rehearsal).

I was not called back, but when I looked at the call back list, I was BLOWN AWAY. So many names of so many amazingly talented people! I knew so many of them from other shows and was instantly impressed with the quality of the cast. I was kind of shocked when I read my name on the cast list, but there it was as a member of the choir. At our first cast meeting, I met the directors and the cast, and was impressed. I hated to turn in my paper of the dates I needed off in May and June, and hoped they wouldn’t just boot me out for lack of availability. But they did mention that they understood if we had a few conflicts, but in July, they would OWN our lives. Good. In July I was available. While at that first cast meeting that night, my sweet grandbaby was born. So maybe that’s a good sign.

We started out learning the music, which is VERY difficult, with tons of part divisions, AND it’s mostly in Latin. And there is SO much of it for the ensemble to sing. Sweet. I bought the soundtrack and started listening to it ALL the time, trying to learn these hard songs. And did I mention extremely high? I chose to sing alto because the soprano part was so dang high, and they needed altos.

June came, and my last concert with Bells was wonderful, and terrible. Wonderful because it’s probably the best concert we’ve done to date, and terrible because it was my last. We had a retirement “party” where they presented me my plaque for serving for 10 years, and I got lots of pictures, and cried. At the concert, my dear friends were there offering hugs and commiserations that they would miss me, and I just couldn’t even talk about it, because I knew I would be crying, and it’s hard to play effectively with tears running down the face. But the world did not stop turning, and I’m trudging forward. About that time, I got a message from the director asking me if I’d like to play a saint in the show, because several people had dropped out. Absolutely, I would! I didn’t really know what the saints would be doing, but I knew they were the statues that are around, and that they sing. I had just been learning my ensemble blocking for Topsy Turvey, but I would gladly trade that part to be a saint.

In this show, the saints do a lot of standing really still. And then sing–while standing still. There is NO dancing, hardly any blocking, a lot of standing. SWEET! I learned that standing perfectly still is a lot harder than it sounds. But learning the new songs and a few lines was awesome, and the show was coming along.

In July, we moved the rehearsals from inside the air conditioned arts center to the hot parking lot. Yes, we rehearse in a parking lot. Because that’s where there is space to build the amazing set.

We also participated in the Lehi parades to create interest in coming to the show.

The cast was coming together! The saints were all told to choose an actual saint that is really on the cathedral at Notre Dame. Since most of the saints had already chosen their people, I choose St. Clotilde.

24 Dec 2009 — Sainte Clotilde statue in Sainte Clotilde church, Paris — Image by © Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis

I liked her long braids, and it’s been fun to try to emulate her.

But this show, this story, has meant so much more to me than just a play. The message of acceptance has been taken to heart by ALL the cast. There are no divas (even though these people are CRAZY AMAZING TALENTED), no drama, no exclusions. It’s beautiful. Quasimodo is someone I’ve come to love and care for, and I am heartbroken over his sadness. It’s been a way to heal my broken parts, and remind me that life goes on. I’m so thankful for everyone involved in this show. They have poured their whole hearts and energy into making this a project to be proud of.

Our Director, Colleen, said it perfectly.
“It is in fact, the most beautiful show we’ve ever produced. The cast is perfection in every way. They have all changed me in some way or another. There were more than a few times I was uncertain of our vision, preparedness, and felt very out of shape directorial wise. We had a handful of core players who believed in us and actively worked to keep the cast confident in us. To our cast, thank you for trusting us.
I love this story. It is more dramatic than the cartoon, but completely relevant to our day. Sometimes our exactness in a belief system creates harshness, piety, and an inability to truly hear and see others who do not share our beliefs. Feeling as though you are an outcast can be the loneliest feeling there is. Seeing people for who they are and loving them perfectly is the most important lesson from this show, and the greatest lesson ever taught by Christ. I am grateful to have been trusted with sharing it in our community. It has changed me. I hope you can see it, it will change you too.”

Thank you, my hunchback friends.


It was so great to see our former exchange student, Larissa, in Germany. It was a bit out of the way, but since we were traveling from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf anyway, we just took a train to Osnabruck where she lives first.

She came to the train station and picked us up, and it was wonderful to give her a great big hug! She took us around town to show us some things, and we walked through the square.

It was very cold and we were getting hungry, so Ryan and I ordered a hamburger from this stand. Larissa is eating vegan, so she didn’t want any.

We looked at and went in 2 amazing churches. It seems every block there’s a HUGE magnificent church.

We even asked a stranger to take a picture of the 3 of us, not just do a selfie.

And I wanted a picture with these fine people, as well. They also gave me candy.

Then she took us to the house where she lives with a bunch of other college students.

It’s a group of buildings on a little farm.

All too soon our time was up and she brought us back to the train station to catch a train to Dusseldorf. It was wonderful to see her and bring her some love from her American Family.

Rock Star!

cupcakesA friend of mine was telling us at book club about how she gets to guest lecture at BYU once a semester. She’s an author of several books, and one of her books is on their reading schedule for middle grade fiction. She talks about possible lessons and extensions that could be done with the book, and generally talks about writing. The students have all read the book and they are so excited to meet her, have her sign their book, and talk to her. I remember when Rosemary Wells came to my children’s literature class and I got to have her sign one of her books for me. So cool! She says she feels like a Rock Star.

Everyone needs to feel like a rock star every once in a while.

I remember the first time I took students to Lone Peak High school to play the National Anthem on chimes, and the after they had played the last part of the song, “And the home of the brave”, the student section broke out in a loud chant of “USA! USA! USA!” It was full gym, everyone was standing, and they were all clapping and cheering. It was great, and the kids felt like Rock Stars. I take my students every year to do 2 basketball games, and it’s the highlight of the semester for these kids.

In thinking about my life, I’ve had a few times that I have had that Rock Star feeling. I loved playing Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof. Even though I was only in one scene on those nights, it was awesome. Fruma Sarah steals the show. When I walked out after the show to meet and greet, little kids were frightened and grown ups told me how they much they loved my scene. It was awesome.


When I was in Pinkalicious, I got to play a few different parts. My main role was Dr. Wink, but when I went out afterwards to meet and greet the audience (mostly little girls wearing pink), they weren’t very interested in having their picture taken with me. But when I went out in the cupcake or the butterfly costume, they all wanted to give me a hug or have a picture taken.

Because who wants to take a picture of a doctor? They’d much rather take a picture with a GIANT butterfly.

Playing bells is amazing, but I don’t often get recognized as a member of the Bells on Temple Square. Except for a few years ago, when there was a bell convention in Salt Lake City. A few of us from our choir attended the convention and rang bells all day with a guest clinician, went to classes, and had a blast. Part of the convention was that all the attendees were to come to the tabernacle to see our spring concert.
w-June22.2012.BoTSConcert.DRG 095

To play for so many bell ringers, who understood how technical and difficult the music was, was amazing. When we went back to the convention the next day, so many people came up to us to tell us how amazing the concert was, and many expressed interest. One lady asked how she could join our group. Well, first of all, you need to be a member of the LDS church. We certainly felt like rock stars that day.

When a child comes up to me in the hall and says “Hi, Mrs. E!” or gives me a hug, I feel like a rock star.

Even when I make a dinner that everyone likes and eats and they maybe say how delicious it is, I feel like a rock star a little bit.

Everyone needs to feel like a rock star at some point in their lives. When are you a rock star?

Ohayo Gozaimasu

hikeWe have a Japanese boy with us for a couple more days. It was a busy weekend anyway, but we’re trying to be that “fun” family and make sure our boy has a good time. It’s quite exhausting to be that fun. I looked it up, and this is our 5th Japanese boy. Our first was in 2009. Since then we have hosted 6 girls from China for two weeks(2 at a time), 3 Taiwanese girls for 2 1/2 weeks (also at the same time), one French girl for a month, 2 Brazilian boys for a month (we all remember that wonderful experience, don’t we?) and Larissa, our German daughter, for one school year.

One of my friends asked how we can host, isn’t it awkward? Yes, it is awkward. We mostly don’t explain a whole lot of things and just say, “Come, it’s time to go.” Yesterday we took Nozomu to church with us, and he had no idea where we were going, but when he saw that we were dressed up, he was a little worried that he was in a t-shirt. “That’s fine,” I said, trying to ease his worries. It was a very emotional sacrament meeting, as we got a new bishopric, and I felt the spirit there very strongly. But he was trying to stay awake. When it was over, we stood up and he said, “Finished?” I felt like a wretch as I said, “There’s another meeting, still. John will take you.” Poor boy. But he made it through 3 long hours of church, which must be pure torturous boring for him. Yes, it is awkward, and I always feel like I should be connecting more with these kids. I should be LOVING them more. I should be more of a good mother. But we got a little burned with those boys in January, so I think I still have my guard up a little bit. And it’s hard to not compare ourselves to others in the group when we see pictures of what the other host families are doing. One family took their boy flying over timp. Flying? Really? There’s always some family that takes the kids to Moab or St. George over the weekend and it always looks like they are having more fun than we are. Oh, well. We do our best.

I’ve been a little worried about him not eating much. We went out to Mexican when he first got here, and it was too spicy for me, so I didn’t like it. He didn’t eat much of his, either. For breakfasts, he has had toast, a little yogurt and a banana. Even when we made pancakes and offered him some, he is sticking with the toast and banana. That reminds me, I’ve got to go the the store today and get some more yogurt and bananas. I don’t know what they are feeding them for lunches, but when he’s here, we got out some japanese ramen (left from a previous guest) and he liked that. When we had pizza, he took one slice. I don’t think they like cheese. Well, last night for dinner we finally had time to do dinner right. We had grilled chicken and rice, warm rolls, and cooked vegetables (I even cooked broccoli, which I hate). He ATE and ATE. I think he took 3 rolls, had a bunch of rice, and a LOT of chicken. I was surprised when there were no leftovers, since it was a whole package of chicken we had grilled up. Wow. Either he really liked the food, or he was just really hungry from not eating much the rest of the day, but I was glad he was finally eating. Now, what to cook for tonight?

On Saturday we had our busiest day. I had a rehearsal at the Tabernacle, so I invited the family to come up to temple square and meet me there. They got there for the last 1/2 hour of rehearsal and got to listen in. Maybe that’s a cool thing to see. I don’t know if he’s impressed or not.
As we were walking through temple square back to the car, we had a lot of people say Konichiwa to us. Two sisters talked to us for a minute while one of the kids used the bathroom.
temple square We aren’t allowed to proselyte or give them literature, but the sister was friendly and talked to him in Japanese for a bit. After a quick lunch I took the kids to Cornbelly’s.
cornbellyWe have never been before, so we really didn’t know what to expect, but it was a fun activity. We golfed, rode the little cow train, some of the kids did some nerf type shooting, Natalie and Nozomu rode the zipline. It was fabulous weather, too. I took off my sweater and was enjoying the 67 degree day. Too crowded and confusing for me (so imagine how it must have been to him!), but it was all fun stuff. There was so much we could have done, but we were getting tired, and wanted to get ready for trick-or-treating.
trick or treat
I sent him trick-or-treating with John and a friend. He had a cape. That’s enough of a costume, right? I don’t know what he thought of the whole trick-or-treating thing, but he was willing to go along with it. They were out for two hours. In fact, I was a little worried about them and glad that John answered his phone when I called to ask where they were. The instructions had been to go around our neighborhood and then come home, and I would drive them somewhere else if they wanted. They expanded the boundary a bit, but Ryan went and got them.

On Sunday, after church, we decided to go into the canyon for a drive. See some leaves, take some pictures. However, when we got to the pay station in American Fork Canyon, the guy said, “I’m going to have to ask you to turn around. There’s some police activity and we aren’t letting anyone up the canyon.” Wow. Never heard that before. So, we turned around, and went to Pleasant Grove. We decided to hike the Battlecreek Falls hike. Can you believe I’ve never done that before? The kids were NOT excited about a hike, even though Ryan said it was really a 2 mile walk. Ha. Not flat. For out of shape people, it was a climb. But we did it, and even had fun.

Today they go to a local school, and I’ll pick three of them up from the Junior High so they can hang out here for a while. We need to do our required activity of Bowling, and we’ll probably still go to Thanksgiving point. Busy, yes. Fun busy, though.

Our Japanese student

When I posted that we were hosting a Japanese student, I got a lot of comments, some shocked that we would host again after our less than optimal experience in January. I realized then that I must have really been complaining a lot about those boys. To be fair, it wasn’t ALL their fault. But they did not help the situation any. But, yes, we got over that and hosted again. Back to Asians, who are polite, and we know the coordinators and the program.

Rika is a sweet 15 year old from Japan. We try to be mellow the first couple of days and not totally overwhelm them with our boisterousness. I didn’t even meet her until the next morning as Natalie and I had rehearsal the night Ryan picked her up. She brought us a few gifts and was nice, but quiet.

We have a tradition in our family to always take the exchange students bowling. They usually beat us. It’s a fun activity and we all can loosen up a bit and make some fun memories.
Plus, we all love bowling, even if we suck at it.

Robin and family came to visit us for the 24th of July weekend. I knew that we would have Rika here then, too, but I wouldn’t want to turn Robin away when she was feeling up to a visit, so we just made room.

Robin’s daughter, Sarah, is so friendly and makes everyone feel at ease.

On Sunday, Robin and family took the kids up the canyon to Bridal Veil Falls while Ryan and I cooked a big dinner for everyone.

Rika even wanted to cook for us a traditional Japanese dish. I bought pork and cabbage and she had brought ingredients from home.

John does not look too thrilled to try it, but he did eat a few bites and was not rude, even though it was strange.

Near the end of the stay, the school hosted a family closing social, where the Japanese students told us about their school, taught us some games, and we ate dinner.

On Saturday, her last day with us, it was our city celebration, the Highland Fling. She came with us to the breakfast, watched the parade, and then came back to the park for entertainment and fireworks.

(none of the girls were really excited to meet this princess, but I dragged them over and made them take a picture. Because that’s what moms do).

This experience was SO different from the last one. To make it extra wonderful, I had a carpool, and since their school was in Provo, Cole even did my share of the carpool driving on his way too and from work. I didn’t have to drive ONCE! On Sunday morning, Ryan drove her to school the last time. She had to be there by 5 am. Since I had a meeting before church and was teaching the lesson in Relief Society that day, I really appreciated him doing that drive so I didn’t have to.

Rika was a delightful girl and I hope we keep in touch with her. So, yes. We WILL host again.

First Funeral

Saturday we had a funeral. Our first as a RS presidency. Thankfully, we have Kristen, an amazing lady who is our compassionate service funeral team leader. She was so organized, so it made the day go quite smoothly.

I got a call on Friday from the daughter, who was helping coordinate the funeral for her dad. She said they wanted to have donuts to pass out after the funeral. Her dad lived on Coke and donuts, and all the grandkids knew that if they stayed over with their Grandparents, they would have coke and donuts for breakfast.


So, on Saturday, one of the brothers brought in about 400 donuts from Lehi bakery.


Once the funeral started, we set these up on both sides of the chapel, so that people could pick up a donut on the way out. It was just a fun reminder of Gary, a way of remembering a great man.


And boy were they yummy donuts! I didn’t eat a donut, but I did in fact have several donut holes.

I’m thankful that things went smoothly that day. It was a long day, and hard work, but we were happy to serve.

Arizona Roadtrip

Megan and I took off on a roadtrip on Friday to Arizona.

She has spring break this week, and I really wanted to go and see my dear friend Robin. So, it was just the two of us.


Megan had a nice camera from school again, so she was the designated photographer, but I don’t have her pictures uploaded yet, so we’ll have to make do with pictures from my not so nice camera. We stopped in Kanab for the night, which is a cute little town. We even ate at the Three Bear’s Cafe, which my mom recommended.


It was nice that Megan could drive some of the way, since this was my first trip driving without Ryan.


We used our phone GPS, and sometimes they gave us differing directions, but we made it there ok. Well, most of the time. I had to call Robin twice because I was seriously like 3 blocks away from the destination, but had gotten lost. Darn Arizona neighborhoods–everything looks the same and I can’t really tell what direction I’m going.


Robin was one of my roommates at BYU.
DSCN0497 We roomed together for 3 of my 4 years there. And she’s come to visit us in Utah a lot, even staying with us for 6 weeks one summer to attend BYU (or was it 8 weeks? There’s some confusion about that). So, when I found out she has breast cancer, I knew I had to go and visit and help out if I could.

Saturday night we met up with Jenny, who was also a roommate of ours my sophomore year. Jenny was kind enough to offer her house for us to stay this trip.


She has a beautiful house and a lovely family and it was so great to meet them all. Unfortunately, all the pictures of Jenny are on MEGAN’s camera, so I don’t have one right now, but you can read all about her and her family’s adventures on her blog.

My favorite thing about Jenny’s house is the huge ice maker. Fill up those water bottles with ice, and you don’t even have to worry that you are taking all of the ice in the house.


Sunday we went to church with my brother and his family, and had dinner with them. They even taught me how to index names for genealogy!

On Monday, I really wanted to make some meals for Robin and her family. So, we went shopping and picked up all the ingredients for 6 meals that they can just throw in the crockpot, and then there’s dinner. I got the recipes from here,, and it was very easy. I’m going to do some of these for my family. Robin also wanted some of my wheat bread, so while at Jenny’s house, we made a batch of bread. Unfortunately, her wheat grinder was funky and spewed forth flour all over the kitchen. Sorry! She was so nice to let me make a mess in her kitchen to prepare food! Don’t worry, I helped clean up.

While there, we also went to see Cinderella with Robin and her family.

We looked at wigs, went shopping for super comfy clothes that Robin can wear to chemo appointments, and debated about what to do with her hair. I think she should color it some funky bold color, and then if she doesn’t like it, she can cut it all off!
Sadly, our trip ended so soon. We had to leave on Tuesday, but not before a nice brunch with Robin and Sarah. Sarah is like a cousin to Megan. They have known each other since they were tiny, and even though they only see each other once or twice a year, they really are great friends.

And so cute!

Of course we couldn’t leave without citrus. We picked grapefruits from Scott’s house and lemons from Robin’s house.

Quick trip, but a great one. Good friends, some sunny weather, and lots of time in the car to talk with my girl.
There may have even been some singing into that tiny microphone.

Opening Night

We have finally arrived at Opening Night for Fiddler on the Roof.

I am so lucky that I get to play Fruma Sarah in this show. It really is the best part, even if I’m only in one scene of the whole show (I do get to play a village woman as well, in half of the shows). I LOVE this part.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to play a dead first wife who only exists in Tevye’s mind? There are no rules and I can be as over the top as I want. I have come to love my double cast buddy, Celeste. I think she looks creepier than I do, but I just couldn’t do the contacts.

There have been major obstacles and challenges with this show. The logistics of staging a play in a new location have been enormous. The theater is an old theater, but it’s been unused for years, so it has to be refurbished for us to use it. Painted on the wall by the stage, it says Saturday’s Warrior 1999,and My turn on Earth I heard from a friend that they filmed the My turn on Earth production at this stage. With new carpet, new lights, new sound equipment, there have been boxes everywhere, and things weren’t ready for us.

Our set designer, set construction team, music director, and stage managers are all new. The sets have had huge set backs and haven’t been ready, most of them, until last night. When we should have been rehearsing, they were assembling set pieces on the stage. Set pieces that don’t really fit in the wings, and the stage crew hasn’t learned when and where they go.

In addition, we’ve suffered injuries and other afflictions. Our assistant director sliced her hand open on a work day and had to get stitches. One of our stage managers has kidney stones. Two nights ago our other stage manager dropped a 40 pound block of dry ice on her foot while getting it out of the car and broke her toe. Our costume director wasn’t there for our final dress rehearsals (and won’t be there for the next week) because her brother died suddenly, and she needs to go and be with her family.

There is no greenroom and hardly any backstage area, so the cast sets up chairs outside.

There’s supposed to be a big tent for us to congregate around and under, but the wind often comes up quickly and threatens to whip our tent away, so we’ve just had the tent frames up for a couple of nights.


Last night was our last dress rehearsal. Amid sudden rain, everyone pulled their chairs back into the theater and we congregated mostly in the back foyer or in the theater.


Among these challenges, our Tevye has been amazing! He wrote today,
Tonight is opening night of Fiddler On The Roof. We have witnessed miracles in how fast things have come together. There have been significant challenges for this production. It is as if someone doesn’t want this musical to happen. That tells me it really needs to happen.

I have really loved performing as Tevye. I do hope you will take the time an come see it – not because I am in it, but because the message of this production is profound. The message of tolerance and love is needed today more than ever. Hold your families close.

When you think of Fiddler on the Roof, do you think, “Oh, yeah, we did that play in high school. Fun!” like I did? Or do you think, “That old thing? Why are they doing a show about Russian Jews in 1905?” Maybe. But Fiddler on the roof is about keeping your family and your beliefs, even when among strong opposition. The story centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters—each one’s choice of husband moves further away from the customs of his faith—and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village. Does this relate to our lives today? Absolutely it does.

We need to have tolerance and acceptance for others, but at the same time, we can not let go of our own values. In a devotional address delivered on September 11, 2011, Dallin H. Oaks said, “Our tolerance and respect for others and their beliefs does not cause us to abandon our commitment to the truths we understand and the covenants we have made. That is a third absolute truth. We are cast as combatants in the war between truth and error. There is no middle ground. We must stand up for truth, even while we practice tolerance and respect for beliefs and ideas different from our own and for the people who hold them.”

While I always discourage people from coming to a show on opening night, I do hope we have an audience tonight (and every night). I hope we can properly convey the importance of family and religion and hope that we can touch some hearts with this show.

Zoo day and more!

On Saturday we took the family plus our guests to Hogel Zoo. It’s been several years since we have been to the zoo.
I guess it just got too expensive, too crowded, too far away? I don’t know. But since we had 8 people, we just bought an annual pass, so we can go again a few times this year.


First we found Taiwan on the rotating water earth ball.

We loved seeing all the animals. At each animal, we would ask the girls how to say the name of that animal in Chinese, and we would practice trying to make our mouths say those sounds. For example, elephant is dà xiàng. But we of course say every one wrong, so the girls got a good laugh out of our trying.

My favorite animal is the giraffe, which in Chinese, is cháng j?ng lù. But you have to make your inflection go up and down or else it’s some other word. There’s a reason I don’t speak Chinese.

The one animal name we WILL be able to remember without looking it up is the tortoise. Oogway. Yep. Like in Kung Fu Panda.

See the resemblance?


Look harder.


Even though it was colder than we would have liked,
(Brrr when the wind was blowing)
we had a fun time.

The kids were mostly not whiny.



We even rode the $2 per ride Carousel, which I have never let my kids ride. I know. When we have exchange students we splurge, since we are getting paid to host them, we use that money to do fun things as a family.



When we left, John really wanted to go to the This is the Place Heritage Park. Since we bought an annual pass for that one last spring, we only had to pay $3 for an extra guest, so we took the girls over there, too. There isn’t much open until the spring season starts in April, but we still enjoyed our visit.

I don’t know if the girls understand much about the pioneer history here, but we explained some. And the train conductor’s tour was interesting (this driver went slower and told us more about the different locations) He even took our picture to put on the Pioneer Park Facebook page.

On the way home, the girls were pretty tired.

We were all pretty tired, and even a little sunburned. So we had a couple of hours at home before we loaded everyone up and went to dinner at the girls choice for their last evening out in America–In and Out Burgers. I don’t know why this place is such a big deal, but everyone seems to love it.

We had a fun time.

Sunday morning the girls got loaded up nice and early as we had to get them to their meeting place at 8 am. Off they go back home. We had a great experience hosting this time, and we hope the girls remember fondly their time in Utah. So we say
zài jiàn

to our Taiwanese girls. We hope to meet again.

Guests from all over

It started in 2009. A lady from the ward asked if we would like to host a Japanese student for a week. They were going to host, and it’s always easier if you have another family to share the driving, so she recruited me. We talked it over as a family and thought that sounded like a fun experience. That family actually backed out and didn’t host, but I guess I should be thankful to her for introducing us to this hosting thing.

We were sent Urichiro (Yes, I probably spelled that wrong), a quiet, shy boy from Japan. We remember that he was a slow eater, tiny bites, and he was worried that he would have to eat huge amounts of food. We did not make him eat huge amounts of food. We tried to take him some fun places and do some fun things with him. We had a great experience.

That same company also does a program with Chinese girls in the summer, and the coordinator called in 2010 and asked if we would be willing to host 2 girls for two weeks. We said we would, and Daisy and Vivian came to stay with us. I guess they are given American names, or they chose their own, when they start English class.

I remember the coordinator told us that she was going to place these two girls with us, that they were special. One was beautiful and the other was from an important family, they were both from a private school. Can you tell which one was which?

Since then, we have hosted several more students.
There was Kodai. He’s the one who brought us our favorite frisbee called the “Dojeebee”.

He was here for our wettest, most miserable Halloween ever. Poor boy had no idea what trick-or-treating was or why we were making him dress up and go around the neighborhood in the POURING rain.

In 2011 we hosted Chinese girls again. Phoebe and Coco were their names. They were a little younger, just as shy. I think this year was the most frustrating because I couldn’t find a decent carpool, and had to drive the girls and my kids, who were buddies, back and forth to Provo so many times.
But it was still a fun experience, We went to a cast party for the play we were in, Thanksgiving Point farm and dino museum, bowling, out to eat.

I think the kids like hosting because for once, we go and do fun things almost every day. We do get paid to host the girls, but with a big family like we have, that money only goes so far. One trip to Park City for the Alpine Slide takes about a big chunk, but we have fun while they are here. Sadly, our conversational Japanese and Chinese has not improved.

That fall we hosted Kazuki from Japan.

We took him to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Hermanos, along with our ward Halloween party.

And bowling. There always must be a bowling activity.

Lest you think we ONLY go bowling when we have exchange students, I must point out that is false. We do go bowling at other times, when the kids beg and plead enough. They really love to bowl. I wish it were cheaper or there were a bowling ally closer to us, we would go more.

In 2012, I was tired of the whole DRIVE to Provo thing, so we decided to go with a different program, and hosted Marie from France.

Marie just came and stayed. No school, no schedule. It was a little different, but still fun.
She was here longer than the others, too. Three weeks. She was a good sport, and lots of fun to have around.

Of course, we can blame our acquiring a cat on Marie. Ryan was out of town, and this cat started to show up. Marie said we had to feed it. So we did. And she is now our cat.

We even took her camping. Worst camping trip. Rain, rain, rain. But she wanted to fish, and thankfully my uncle Keith took her out to the lake and she caught a fish.

Right after Marie left, we got a call from another coordinator to let us know that our year long exchange student had been approved, and we would be getting a girl from Germany in August. We had no idea what we were in for, but all the other experiences had been good, so we got rooms ready and Larissa came just before school started.

It’s a different experience welcoming an exchange student for the whole year. They are here for the chores, the meals, the homework and school and boring stuff, not just the fun stuff. But Larissa is such a cute girl, she made everything fun. We were quite blessed to have her with us that year. Cole left for college, so with her, we still had five at home.
She immediately made friends, even had dates.

It was fun to have her in our family, and I think she will be a good friend for ever. It was very hard to say goodbye when she left, and we are looking forward to having her come visit again this summer.

While she was here, we skipped on hosting a Japanese student, but we did host Chinese girls again in the summer of 2013.

Xio and Yiou didn’t take American names like the other girls had, but they were fun.
It was a bit different to go from a member of the family to “hosting” again, but we got used to it. This time none of the girls did the buddy program, and I did have a carpool (thank goodness!) and they moved the host school to Orem, so it was a shorter drive.

We took them to Temple Square to a concert, bowling (of course), to ice cream, even hiking.

It was a bit of a difficult time to have exchange students because I was in the thick of a play at the Scera theater. We brought the girls along to a dress rehearsal. Next time we host, remember not to do it at the same time as a play.

2014. I read in the Lone Peak email that they were looking for host families to host girls from Taiwan for a short stay. I called about that to find out more information, and it sounded like something we could do. We only have to transport the girls to Lone Peak. Their group has taken them places and done all the fun things that we would normally do with them. They have gone cross country skiing (the girls did NOT like that one), shopping, temple square, Music and the Spoken word, they even had a square dance last night.

We ended up with three girls this time. Everyone else has two, but I told them we could take three if we needed to. I cleaned out two rooms for them, but they are all together in our guest room/Cole’s room. There’s a queen bed and a twin in there, so I guess they just felt happier all together. They are Jessica, Cindy, and Cathy. And I can tell them apart now. We have taken them out to dinner, to a movie, to Thanksgiving Point, and we had a game night with another family in our ward who the parents both speak Chinese.

Yesterday after school we made sugar cookies and they had a blast cutting out cookies and then frosting them. I don’t know if they get to cook much at home, but they thought it was fun.

Then they had an activity with their group at night where they were square dancing. Today they went to school at Lone Peak, and after school they are going to eat the world’s first KFC and then go to the Jazz game. I love that they are doing fun things with their group so we don’t have to feel responsible for ALL the fun stuff, especially right now while school is in and we are busy. I think tomorrow night will be bowling, then Saturday we have the whole day with them before they leave on Sunday.

So,unless I have forgotten someone, in five years we have hosted….

3 Japanese boys
6 Chinese girls
1 French girl
1 German girl
3 Taiwanese girls

for a total of 14 exchange students. We have learned from them, and have enjoyed welcoming them into our family. Hopefully we show them a good picture of what it’s like to be an American, and they go home with fond memories of us. Someone asked me why we do this hosting thing. To give my kids experiences. I can’t afford to take my family all over the world, but that doesn’t stop us from meeting people and possibly making friends with people from all over. There is SO much that we can learn from hosting students from other cultures. I want to teach my kids tolerance, how to be nice to people they might not know so well, how to control their rude behavior at home when there are guests around, and that it’s ok to be different. And if we get to have a bunch of fun in the process, then that’s even better.

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