Monday, September 21, 2009


Natalia was met at the airport on Friday night. It was BFF at first site. She is adorable and precious and we just may have to keep her. We've had a whirlwind weekend full of get acquainted activities and resting from her long trip. We've had very few language issues as she speaks much better English than we do Spanish and she is becoming more confident everyday.
Sunday we threw caution to the wind and invited both the 7th and 8th grade classes of girls to house for a party. There is another exchange student for Guatemala in our 8th grade class. The other exchange mom and I thought it would be fun to get the girls all together before our new girls started school on Monday. This way they would have some familiar faces on their first day.
We started by having each girl make a scrapbook page for each of the exchange girls; this got them talking and laughing and loosened things up quite a bit.
Food - the great unifier - and great conversation as to what things the girls should do and see while the are in Minnesota also brought the team together. Mall of America was voted the number one "must do" along with a pumpkin patch.
In preparation for their first school dance of the year this Friday, a little line dance lesson. Yes, it was the "Macarena"

And a trip to the playhouse. In case you're wondering, you can fit 17 girls and one mom in the playhouse. Not comfortably, but it can be done! Majo, (Maria Jose) third from the left, is the other exchange student, Nati, is second from the right. That's about as far away as she's gotten from Kathryn since Friday night.

And all of a sudden, I have two girls! And I love it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Big Reveal

We have made room in the closet . . .

. . . and emptied out the spare dresser drawer . . .

. . . and taken up more space in a small room to make more room . . .

. . . because on Friday night at 5:00 pm we go to the airport to pick up Natalia - Nati, for short - a 12 year-old girl from Guatemala who will be living with us for 12 weeks as an exchange student. She is blond-haired and blue-eyed; she speaks limited English but understands much more. She loves animals and basketball. She could be Kathryn's identical twin. They will go to school together and be sisters together for the next 12 weeks. Jon and I will be parents of two pre-teen aged daughters for 12 weeks. We are all insanely crazy excited over this idea. I am just a wee bit nervous.
But my hope is that this experience will give the blog a new lift as it will be a great way for me to keep the memories of the adventure alive! Stick around - see what happens!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A New Year

Seventh grade. A new year, a new attitude. On both our parts.

We wrote "new year" resolutions for ourselves, and each other, then sealed them in an envelope to open at the end of the school year. I'll share mine with you. I promised to try and give my girl more space. To grow, to try, to mess up (gasp!), to fly. I freely admit to hovering last year; to being "too there". But I did so for all the right (my) reasons. Her best friend had moved away, she had come off two years of school with bad "girl issues". I just couldn't stand by and watch the Middle School years start out on a bad note. So, I got involved - in everything I could. And then, I actually loved it. She and I made a deal that if it got to be too much, she'd tell me to back off. While she hasn't told me it's too much, I know it's time. She's ready to go it alone.

She came home from school yesterday as happy a girl as I have seen. The girls (the 8 remaining girls) in 7th grade got together at lunch. They all talked about how they need to make a much better 7th grade; they need to work at bringing their two cliques together and all getting along. She's on Student Council this year and is taking this responsibility seriously. I think she's turning into me....

So despite the sad faces on the two animals in the pictures - What? You can't see Tig trying to squeeze through the crack at the bottom of the screen door? - We are off to a great start this year. For the first time in ten "First Days of School" - I didn't cry!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Um - Hi!

Sorry. The break went a little bit longer than I anticipated. The blog and I were in a little bit of a disagreement as to which should come first - work or play. Ultimately I won. And while the blog thinks of herself as work (and at times, so do I) last week, it was all work for me. The blog thinks what I do is "volunteer" and thus, should not count as work. She thinks she should come first. It's an age-old battle between the blog and me. It makes me wonder how blog peeps with real jobs manage all this drama.

The blog and I will have to continue this battle as school starts tomorrow; I'm not quite ready for it this year as it's a full week ahead of schedule from years past. And while I realize that I am not going to school it does mean I'm really busy. Jon and I agreed once again chair the parish-wide Oktoberfest fund-raising event for the parish/school. And I continue in my capacity as hepard to the youth of the school in their fall sports endeavors. I love my volunteer jobs - well, you know the rest of that statement.

But I hope you'll stick with me here because there is a big change coming for the family. Some of you know it - don't give it away! The blog will take a slight detour while we undergo a little family detour; it'll be very exciting.

The last few weeks of summer had my family from San Diego here. It was delightful. A house full of girls is just a wonderful way to end your summer. Full of giggles and laughs and squeals. Every moment of it was lived to the fullest . . .

. . . from the beginning . . .

. . . . . to the end.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Time Away

My blue house is now . . .
. . . my brown house. And I'm ok with it because I got . . . . . . a red chair in the deal!
The California cousins (and their parents) return tonight from their 10 day scenic tour of Wisconsin. They paid a special visit to a certain mural (where my brother-in-law's mom was born!!) and I'm guaranteed my own personal slide show tonight! They also had smoothies at a local coffee shop in the same town that were "yummy"! I gotta visit there some time!
So, we're planning big things while they're here for the next 12 days. I'm taking a blog break until August 24 to enjoy the time with my sister and the three girls. It's hot and steamy here finally so we'll probably spend as much time as possible at the pool or inside the house - which is good. Then I won't have to look at the outside!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Product FAIL

Kathryn got it in her head that the cats might enjoy leashed walks outside. Sam passed on this idea immediately and for the first time in her kitty life, she actually cried. Tig's reaction was a bit more understated.
"I'm not moving a muscle, and no amount of jiggling that thing can make me move!"

"Not even if you get down on your four paws and act like a kitty. Not for kibble
or whatever else you have hiding in you pocket. This is stupid."

"Hey! Is that the catnip over there?"
I'm sure the packaging made it look like a lot more fun for everyone!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Party On!

Last Sunday (not yesterday, because it took a week to recover) was the annual "Let's all gather at Deb's to celebrate whatever there is to celebrate" event. Included in the list of celebratory events was Dad's 80th birthday, Mom's semi-retirement, brother Dave and his wife Ann's birthday, twin nephew and niece's 19th birthday, and the summer arrival of my sister Diane and her family from California. For Kathryn - that's reason enough to throw a huge party as this last item includes her cousins, Dana and Andie.

However, the real reason for the gathering was to celebrate an even bigger milestone. The previously mentioned niece and nephew were both graduated from Wayzata High School in June.

Kathryn, being a veteran of one graduation party already, knew the routine and quickly brought her cousins up to speed. And in no time, all six hand, and arms were busy preparing the caps!

In the requisite Blue and Gold! I know this as a 1976 WHS grad. Endy's (my maiden name) graduated from Wayzata in 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 84. And now '09.

Who knows what the next generation will bring?

Congratulations to Maari Elizabeth who will head to DePaul University for winter term after first spending some time in France. She'll enter DePaul with her fall term completed having earned 16 AP credits in high school (I'm her aunt - I can brag!).

Congratulations to Dutch (Daniel Gilbert IV) who leaves for
The University of Minnesota (his father's Alma mater) this fall. He also attained college credits through AP courses but because he's a nephew, and doesn't talk much, I can't remember how many. Dude - sorry! I do know that his biggest concern is this : housing on the St. Paul campus. Housing FAIL!

I am enormously proud of my niece and nephew. They are the oldest of the grandchildren and have led the way for the "little kids". They've grown into remarkable young adults who have their whole lives ahead of them. So yeah - proud and jealous.

Dutch and Maari:
Do well, be happy, shine like the sun. I love you more than you know.
Aunt Deb