Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It Is That Time Again

Can't believe 13 days have passed! Really?  It was only 8 days ago when Gabby and Smile wet their feet at the Santa Monica shores, experienced a Chinatown away from home and had a taste of its cuisine, visited a museum where they saw relics of their ancestor's belongings and walked under the "Rock Star"  (remember the levitation rock from Riverside)? and stretched dough for their very own pizza.
My, my, was that a fun weekend or what!!!

Because they don't want to go out most of the time, it gave us more time to exchange stories, and as Gabby calls it.... practice her English.  It was so nice to listen to them talk about their childhood memories with their parents - their trip to the mountains and other cities, considering the very few days they spend time together.  One evening hubby and I noticed that they seemed to be enjoying whatever they were watching on their iPads.  So the following morning I asked them why they were screaming the night before.  That afternoon they introduced  us to their version of our "telenovelas".  Actors were quite good that, simply from their actions, we couldn't hold our laughter even if we didn't understand what they were saying.

Two days ago I noticed they touched their breakfast barely.  Concerned that they might get hungry, I asked why.  They were tactful enough to say that while they enjoy the American food we serve them and appreciate our efforts to feed them, they somehow miss what they are used to eat... noodles and vegetables. So after the spaghetti for dinner,  I prepared noodles with meat and plenty of veggies for breakfast.  They were very happy..... and we were happy (chuckle)!

Smile wanted to buy 2 bottles of sunscreen branded as Water Baby.  She said her mom has been using it in China and believes it costs cheaper if bought here.  Not knowing any better,  we took her to a high end store that sells body beautifying products only to be told that we could buy it in Target instead!  Every time I itch (because of sunburn), Smile would say I needed  Water Baby.  Honestly, this is the first time I've heard of this product and I will surely try it.  A good learning experience, I'd say.  Then we went to a Mall in Chino Hills hoping she would find the bag that her mom wanted her to buy.  No store sells the brand so we ended in another department store where Gabby tried on dresses.  She looked at the tag - Made in China... she didn't buy that one, instead she chose the one that said "made in USA".  Patriotic, eh? (I was surprised to see a RTW dress that is still made here!)

The bag, oh, the bag.  I had to request one of my sons to drive us to South Coast Plaza so we could be sure of getting the special  bag.  From SAE and with his sons in tow, we went.  After they had been waited on, hubby and I told them we would be waiting on the bench outside the store.  Almost an hour-and-a-half passed. Hubby told me I better take a peek at store.  Gabby and Smile were not there!  Oh, don't panic.  Maybe they just went to the nearby specialty store.  15 minutes passed.  Still no sign of them.  Relax, I told myself.  Then after another 15 minutes, Smile came out of the store and gave us a sign that they were inside.  Aaaaah, now I can relax.  When they finally came out, they told hubby and me that because of the prize, the salesgirl, a Chinese lady,  entertained them in a special room and gave Smile some advice on how to bring it to China.  When we got home, she asked if we had a small lock.... to keep the bag safe, no doubt.
I wonder if they even slept last night.
This morning, we saw them off.

Oh, God.  please keep the girl and her bag safe until they have touched down in China and have given the special present to her mom, please!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Homestay Parenting - the 2nd time around .....

These two girls seem to be  different from the  last  two girls selected to stay with us.  I at once noticed that they are more formal and reserved.  When I asked them if we could hug them they said "of course" and hugged us back ever so lightly.  I could still feel the hesitance, or shyness, or maybe uncertainty of how   to do it.
We went home and went through the routine of showing them their room, the bathroom, etc.  I thought a hot soup would be good so I took them to  Pho noodle place.  They loved what they chose.  We exchanged stories and went home.

Their names are Gabriella and Smile.  We decided to shorten Gabriella's to Gabby.  She didn't complain and even thought it was cool.  Gabby is conversant in English and helps Smile with hers.  She said she spent 15 days in London last year, just like this US tour.  Her family often took her on vacations in the United Kingdom, because her parents thought that was the fastest way for her to learn the language. Both Gabby and Smile's parents are in business. I told them their life is so enviable.  They smiled.  (I think they already know).

I would say they chose their wardrobe differently, too-  from the backpack to their jeans.  If these two are
Country, my first two are more of the Rock-and-Roll. While Nancy and Erin love McDonald, Gabby and Smile prefer KFC.  My first can do without pasta and pizza, the new duo requested me to prepare pizza (after they agreed to help me with the preparation)  and indicated they are used to eating spaghetti, too. While the former would eat anything, the latter are quite choosy.   Gabby and Smile  don't like shopping so much,  Nancy and Erin can shop non-stop! Quite a stark difference, huh?

So, this afternoon, we are all staying at home! 

BTW, would you like to know how they spent their first weekend?  Tune in, lol.

a.l.o.p.a.d. XIV

Edible Bear!!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Homestay Parenting - a learning experience ....

For so many years now hubby and I have been on our own.  All our children  are grown with families and nests of their own. For the last 2 years we've been spending our 24 hours of the day together with occasional interruptions from our grandkids.  Life have been very quiet for us - hubby with his TV shows and little vegetable garden, and I with everything I can put my mind and hands on.  Then came this offer of  homestay parenting. At first we were apprehensive.  Can we do it? We asked ourselves.  Oh, yes, we can!

We found out that we can still take care of early teen-agers  (13-15).  We can still wake up earlier than usual and we can still relate to the young. Oh, BTW,  we can take care of girls, too,  after rearing three boys and now being blessed with four  grandsons!  lol.....

Didn't know that most Chinese children attend boarding schools from age 7.  They see their parents only on weekends.  I still remember the first time I waved bye-bye to my father to stay in a dormitory. That was when I  attended college.   I felt awful.  I felt so alone.  I cried.  Wonder how they must have felt on their first night away from home.
But I learned how to take care of myself and be independent  as these girls do. Longing for one's parent is so universal. The first thing they did when they first arrived was to call home. I remember  our own children doing the same.

Geographical differences exist even among countrymen.  Just ask a girl from Hunan or Xian or any other place.  She will tell you.
No two individuals are the same (how many times have I heard that)! For our first pair, one loves rice porridge to the bones, as they say, while the other just nibbles at her bowl.  But the nibbler loves watermelon as if it is the only fruit on earth, thus the nickname Watermelon King,  while the other doesn't care what fruit is on the table.... and many more.

And....they are very quiet in every way, which hubby and I find very interesting.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Homestay Parenting - highlights...

Concerned that maybe the girls are getting homesick for their own cuisine, one of my daughters-in-law suggested we treat them to a last dinner out.  She selected a restaurant where she noticed waiters and waitresses speak very little English.  As soon as we are seated, the girls are told that tonight they will interpret the menu to us and do the ordering.  They are very excited!  While waiting for the food ( which took a while), DIL engages them in conversation.  She shows them pictures of her favorite Chinese leading men.  I almost thought something serious happened because they both jump out of their seat.  It so happens that that he is also their favorite!  They talk of so many other things, well, you know,  girl talk! lol

Two days ago, the girls asked me if they could open the refrigerator.  "Of course you can.  Go ahead!"  after which they showed me a piece of paper with a list of ingredients.  They told hubby and me that they would cook dinner for us.  We crossed out the ingredients that were available from the list and I bought those that weren't.
They didn't want us to see what they were cooking.  All that we could hear was the clanging of the pans as they chatter away.  They seemed to be enjoying whatever it is they were busy with.  They even set the table, using varied dinnerware.  Finally they called us.  With a big grin, each of them presented their recipes:  Egg Soup, Sauted Vegetables, Noodles with Meat Balls Chinese style, and Sliced Watermelon.  Did I miss two kinds of rice?  Steamed and Fried with all the works.  We all thought it was very very good!

At breakfast this morning, I asked the girls what they will remember most about America.  They agreed that they learned English, for one, and that Mom cook good but Dad cook gooder.   (which I corrected later)..
aawwww, I pretended to be hurt.  
Didn't you tell us, you teach and Dad cooks?
I was appeased!

Oh, Erin and the ice cream!
It was already their third day when we had the time to go for Erin's ice cream! She was so delighted when she saw the array of colors and flavors before her.  She took pictures of all the trimmings and the flavors that one customer couldn't hold her amusement and engaged her in ice-cream talk.  When I told her they spoke little English and that they're here to learn the English language and American culture, she got excited too.  Her son is currently in China  learning the Chinese language.  What a coincidence.  She added that I brought them to the right place.  What could be more American than licking ice cream from a cone on a hot summer afternoon!

On the fly, I prepared arroz caldo  (congee, filipino style) as soup.  To my surprise, Nancy couldn't stop taking seconds, thirds, even fourths!  She kept saying "I like this!  It is delicious!"  Remember that word? lol

Hubby and I wanted to take them to other places but Nancy  wanted to go shopping almost all the time.  "I love shopping" was her mantra every time we pick them up from school.  How can you say no to a girl who spends more time looking for gifts for her family than for herself?

It is sad to see them go.  But glad that they will explore more in their adventure to see the world outside their own.

I console myself in the thought that starting tonight I will be going on another adventure with two new lovable kids from China!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Homestay parenting, still...

It was their first day of school.
Got up at 6:30, breakfast @ 7:00, off to school by 7:50.
Picked them up at 3:30.

How was your day?
Did you have fun?
We had fun.
What did you do.
I played the drum.
How about you, Erin?
Did you have lunch?
What did you have?
Pizza and vegetables.
Did you like it?
Uhm... i ... like.... my pizza.   Nancy.... she .... didn't like her.... pizza.
Uh-oh... then you must be very hungry!

It was a very very hot day.  I can just imagine how hungry they must feel so instead of going home we went straight to the closest eatery that came to mind. Lucky us.  A combo of burger steak and a bucket of fried chicken was  their special for that day.

Poor Nancy. She literally dove into her rice bowl, mixed it with the beef sauce and voila....taste of  heaven!  They both enjoyed the Salisbury steak so much they forgot about the chicken!  (of course we brought it home  for dinner).  When it was time to go, they were laughing because they were so full they said they could sleep there til the morrow lol.
When asked if they wanted to go somewhere, maybe the mall, they emphatically shook their heads:  NO. But added that they had fun.  
It was a good day, I told myself.

Later, when called for dinner, they asked to be excused.  They slept through the night skipping dinner!

Before I forget:  Erin told us that her favorite food was ice cream so I told her we would go to the nearby ice cream parlor after lunch.  But she was so filled up she begged to have it some other time. And that is another story..... lol.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homestay Parenting (con't.)

When we got home, hubby and I showed the girls their bedroom.  We also showed them  how to turn the lampshades on... (the knobs could make a trick sometimes, lol), and the bathroom. Then we left them to themselves and we retreated to the kitchen.  After a few minutes they came out with their gifts to us from their parents. Hubby and I thought it was very sweet of them to do that!  While we were having small talks, I noticed that Nancy can converse in English much better than Erin.  She often translates for, or urges, Erin to speak for herself.  Oftentimes we would run into a word that neither of us could translate and we would end up laughing all together.  (after all, we Pinoys are also English learners, in a way, aren't we?)
We went through the motion of how to use the knobs for hot and cold water, which I noticed  they were silently playing in their minds, before they got ready for their first shower in America!
Before retreating for bed, they said:
"Mom, Dad, thank you and good night."
"Good night, Sweet dreams."

While seated at the breakfast table, we asked them how the breakfast we prepared looked to them.  They chorused:  "Delicious!"  I guess delicious is their favorite term to use when something edible appeals to them lol.   BTW, for their first breakfast we served them:  scrambled eggs,  pan fried spam,  fried rice and OJ.    Oh, if I could only record the look on their faces when they saw the fried rice with corn, peas and carrots!
(For dessert, they can always have mangoes and strawberries and whatever fruit is available)
In the middle of our breakfast, Nancy started laughing.  I asked her why but she couldn't control her laughter.   I told her when she's ready she must  share with us whatever it was.  When she stopped, she said:

"Because, mom, this morning, when Erin woke up she said she ....dreamed of ....plenty of ....watermelons and she .....ate..... a lot."
"Really?" I said, standing from the table to the refrigerator.
"Here.  Take as much as you want.," as I shoved a bowlful of cubed watermelon towards her. "You're lucky because Dad thought of cutting this last night."  (We were really thinking of serving it for dinner.)

 "Please, Lord.  Let there be no tummy accident today!"  I was praying silently as I watched them  took not only one...., two...., three.... but oh,  so much I lost track of counting watermelon cubes!

Introduction to Homestay Parenting ...

When a friend asked me if I should consider taking care of two girls for a week, I readily said,  "Sure, why not!"
So, I filled up an application form, prepared our house for inspection and after a week of waiting we had our two adopted "daughters".... all to ourselves for a week.
The bus finally arrived.  One by one they alighted from the bus. Oh, they were all very young... my guess is no more than 15 years old.... and considering the country they came from, they could even be younger.  I can just imagine what were in their minds as they looked at us, their prospective "parents" for a week!   We were given two lovely girls, aged 13 and 14. They smiled. We smiled and tried to give each a hug but noticed they stiffened when we did so, so off we went in our van that often  had boys only for passengers.
While in the car, we introduced ourselves.  They did, too, and even gave us their American names, Nancy and Erin, and they told us about their families in halting English.
Then ......
Us:  "You must be hungry"
Both:  "Yes.  We are very hungry"
Us:  "What would you like to eat?"
Nancy:  "Uhm... do you have rice?"
Us:  "Yes we do, but because it is a little late now, we will just have some hamburgers.  Would you like hamburgers?"
Both:  "Yes. Yes. We like hamburgers."
An so we went to Macdonalds where they ordered mcnuggets, or should I say, we all ordered mcnuggets!
While eating, we had more questions and answers.  They even took pictures of our "meal." When asked if they enjoyed their "meal" they both agreed it was delicious!
And thus ended  their introduction to their first American dinnertime! lol

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thursday, July 05, 2012

a.l.o.p.a.d. IX

Hi, I am Jiggs!!!

I was loved.
I was fed and bathed, clothed and hugged
and I was kissed.
I was talked to
and played with,
sang to and
put to bed.
I am Jiggs!