Sunday, August 30, 2015

Orientation and Flag ceremony

This Saturday the exchange students had an all day orientation followed by some family activities and then more orientation.  Bright and early we headed to Springfield where we picked up two additional girls being hosted by the same family.  These three girls are each from a different continent-Asia, Europe, and Africa.
After we dropped the kids off in Lebanon Jerry and I did some shopping and had lunch in Osage Beach.  The kids (10 so far, two more will be coming in the next few weeks) spend the day with our local coordinator going over the rules, requirements, and activities associated with the program.  I was assured this was fun, even though it doesn't sound like it!

At 3;00 or so the parents and families returned to set up for the potluck.  But first was the exchange of flags ceremony where we all got to be introduced as a host family and then have our student introduced.  The families got to tell a bit about themselves and their previous students (I think we were the only first time parents) many of whom they are still in regular contact with.  It was also really neat to see where all the students were from and a little about their home life and how they feel about being in America with their host families.  During the ceremony each student gave their host mom a card and flowers and their dad the flag of their country.  Joyce-the coordinator gave each student an American flag.

After this there was a potluck dinner and time to visit and take photos.

Kids got to eat first...just this once!~
 Nadin and a young lady from Spain
 New friend from Indonesia

 The whole group! They hail from Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Indonesia, Senegal, Ghana, Spain, and Egypt.

In other exchange news I have had to explain over the counter, horseplay, and dog tags -the military kind.  She has also commented on how well people here obey the traffic rules and seemed surprised at how many people wave as they drive, walk or run by.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Just a few pics

As promised the on-line newspaper had our photo in their faces in the crowd gallery this morning.

And when we are not out doing fun stuff Lyric is getting extra snuggle time. 

And finally Twix in a rare moment of sitting still and looking sweet. 

Today we went to the state fair, which was ok. We had phenomenal weather for August but the fair was winding down since today is the last day. There was not a lot of really cool stuff going on but we had a nice time. And some good food. 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Family tradition

Nadin did her first 5K road race today.  Last weekend when I asked her if she wanted to try it, she didn't realize how intense her gym class would be, but like a trooper, she got up early on the weekend, headed out in the cool morning and light rain and ran through her soreness.  Not bad for a first timer!

Jerry even came along to watch and cheer and take race pictures for us!

The before picture...

 Racing to the finish...I totally beat that guy by the way.

 Finishing with a smile-I call that a win!

The after picture...while talking to the newspaper photographer.
I ran a respectable 25:45, not as fast as last month but this course was hillier.  Sadly though we all waited around to see if we placed in the age groups (Cheri, Linda, and Grace also ran) but they only gave out first overall awards.  Had we known we would have left sooner and gotten a jump start on our post-race napping!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Week one

Our lives have changed a lot in a week! Not that long ago it was just the two of us, but it's amazing how quickly you can adjust to a teenager from another country moving in with you!

It's going pretty well I think. After the initial flurry of excitement and getting her moved in and settled, and the sort of tragic first day of school we are somewhat settling into a routine. We go to work, she goes to school, in the evening there is family dinner, homework, exercise, TV or internet time. Or wal-mart. There's always wal-mart!

Other good news-she has enjoyed pretty much all the American foods and restaurants we have tried so far. Last night was her first meatloaf-which was another hit. Although to be fair, pretty much everyone likes Jerry's meatloaf. 

She also got to see rain and a pretty impressive thunder and lightning show-rarities in her home country. 

Less exiting though, math homework. 

Tomorrow will be the end of the first full week of school and then we have a busy weekend planned! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to school

Yesterday was Nadin's first day of school. I'd like to say that it went well but thanks again to the school system, not so much. First off they gave us the wrong pick up and drop off times for the bus. We should have been suspicious of this for two reasons. First-they told us pick up at 6:35 but the bus came at 7:05 during the practice run.  But since they told us 6:35, we went out and waited. Until 7:05 when the bus came. They also told us that drop off would be at 3:20. Which is never gonna happen unless the kids are on the bus out of the parking lot and headed directly to our house right at three. 

Next, no one told us that the bus also serves the junior high and stops there first. So she got off at the junior high and ultimately had to be directed up the hill to the senior high school. After this all seemed good until I got a call at 4:20 saying they had also told us the wrong bus number and could I give directions to the driver so she could get home. Finally got it all straightened out and today was somewhat smoother. Hopefully things continue to improve as the year goes on. 

We did get the requisite first day photo at least!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

More weekend activities

Saturday we did a bit of sight-seeing around Branson.  She got to see "the strip" and then we drove down to Table Rock Lake and over the dam. We even stopped to take our first family selfie overlooking the water.
Then we headed off to hit some of the usual shopping spots.  Didn't buy much, but there is always next time!

This morning we all got in  our choice of work-out, then some relaxation before taking Nadin on her first Ozarks hike!  We just went and did a few easy miles at Busiek-but it gave her a good taste of nature.

Legend of course had a lovely time.

 Can you spot the border collie in this one?

Ok, so things got a little more intense than I had expected...

But everyone survived and had a good time!

 And also, here is a pic from Friday night's trip to Wal-mart.  Because everyone's first trip to Wal-mart should be memorialized.

And finally a few fun pics of some of the other kids.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Very busy day today! But successfully got everything accomplished we set out to do. 

First up was getting registered for classes, taking a tour of the school and getting bus times confirmed. We were pleased with the help we got from the counselor today-I had been a little frustrated with the school up to this point but today was better. They do a weird thing though-they code all exchange students as seniors regardless of their age. This allows them to participate in things like prom and graduation if they want. But since she is only 15 she will actually be in sophomore classes and may or may not really get to know any seniors. 

Next up was getting a booster shot at the health department. It was free but took an inordinate amount of time. 

On to the bank where we set her up with a checking account so she can cash and deposit her stipend checks and fund a debit card. 

AT&T was next so we could get her an American phone line. Surprisingly, this ended up being the easiest stop of the day. 

Our last important errand was her first trip to Wal-mart for a few school supplies and groceries. Then we relaxed at home for a bit and took care of some paperwork before heading out for a Mexican dinner. 

On the home front all the dogs and Sundae have happily accepted their new sibling. Twix is slowly coming around. Now time to rest up and enjoy a few days before school starts. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Welcome home!

Today we joined two other host families and our local coordinator at the airport where we met three very travel weary teenagers from around the globe. But it was a happy and exciting occasion for all!
Because we knew she would be tired we tried to keep today simple. We were two for two on trying new foods-both Andy's frozen custard and Domino's Pepperoni pizza were a hit. She also learned how to use a seat belt-apparently seat belt use is not common in Egypt. 

Overall the day went pretty smoothly. Bad news though-she is already cold! This winter will be a real adjustment for her!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Twelve months ago the idea of hosting an exchange student was presented to me.  I read about the program.  I spend some time talking with the coordinator, asking questions like would we be too boring with no other kids and are we  really qualified with no parenting experience.  Jerry and I discussed it with each other and ultimately decided it would be a unique opportunity and nice thing to do.  We advised the coordinator to let us know when we needed to fill out the application.

Then we waited.  Over the winter months I had lots of time to thing about what we were really getting in to.  Sure, it sounded great, but what would the reality be like with someone else living in our house?  This wasn't just a weekend commitment-this was 10 months!  I knew we could still back out if we wanted to, that we could just continue living like we always do, watching TV in our PJs, staying up till midnight and sharing a bottle of wine or making plans whenever we wanted on a moment's notice.  But then I thought about the experiences we would miss out on, and those that our student would miss out on.  We have our whole lives to do whatever we want and 10 months is not really that long, maybe it won't even be long enough.

So early this spring we filled out the application, we underwent the background checks, and the home visit.  Then we waited for the student profiles to arrive.  It felt strange, "picking out" a child, comparing grades, English skills, hobbies and personality, looking for the right one, trying to choose a family member based off two sheets of paper.  But "Nadin from Egypt" seemed like a good fit and when the rest of her information was forwarded to us, we felt confident that this was the one.  And so we were committed.  It was an odd feeling, that somewhere halfway around the world, is a teenager we had never met that would become a part of our family.

And then we waited some more.  It's protocol to wait until the home country notifies the student of their placement and allow them to contact you.  In this case it took about four weeks before we got official word and were contacted by a very excited young lady seven time zones away.  During that time we answered a lot of questions from friends and family members who probably thought we had gone crazy.

But we had no time to worry about everyone else as we were now in contact with our future child and had so much to discover! We have spent the last four months getting to know her via the internet and learning about Egyptian and Islamic culture, her favorite colors, foods, and interests, talking about our local area and the things we will get the chance to see and do during her stay.  We have become a happy little virtual family.

But tomorrow, everything becomes real.  Tomorrow a plane lands in Springfield that will bring us a 15 year old girl whom we will take home and raise as our own for 10 months.  It's the beginning of an epic adventure for all of us and we can't wait to share our stories.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Around here

Things have stayed pretty busy around here.  I have had my regular work, plus filling a few additional places and even working a Saturday this weekend.

It's also time to start getting more serious about my running again as we have a half-marathon in a few months.  My miles, although based on race times have been pretty good quality have not been much in number.  This whole summer it has either been hot or rainy.  I feel like we are always under some kind of warning-flash flood, heat, thunderstorm...anyway, puts in a kink in my running plans.  But our grass is way greener than it usually is in August.

Polly was adopted by a client at the clinic and he seems quite happy with her.

We are making our final preparations for Nadin's arrival because as Jerry said "they're really going to let us do this." We have a few things left to do to get her room 100% ready.  I have been taking care of the school paperwork and hoping to get a call from the counselor soon to set up an appointment for Friday to pick classes.  Also waiting to hear back from the nurse to make sure she doesn't need any more vaccines and we have set up our official Parent Portal via the school website and are getting frequent emails about things like lunches and online registration forms. And tonight we attend the orientation so we can take notes on the important things she needs to know.

Legend got her confirmation for her NADAC champs entry for the fall.  And the week after that she will make another attempt at getting her NW1, as well as an interior element specialty title.

Lyric takes over full time therapy dog duties next month.

Zodiac sleeps a lot and doesn't always get around good but otherwise seems ok.

Twix refuses to grow up.

Sundae needs to be in your lap at all times.

Touchdown, who had a dental cleaning and many teeth pulled earlier this summer, continues to do well-she feels much better, is gaining weight, and is able to eat more comfortably.

Jimmy Dean is obese.

Socks and Squirt and happy to not be bullied anymore and are enjoying the late summer grass that we don't usually have here.

Summer is mostly lazy and a little bit fat.

The barn cats are wishing it wasn't so hot but do enjoy bringing home fast food leftovers from the neighbor's trash.

Monday, August 10, 2015


The last two weeks I had a vet student working with me at the spay/neuter clinic where I work 2 days a week.  When I started this job I suggested we advertise at the vet school for students who want more surgery practice to come down and work with us.  Finally this summer, our first students came!  The first one I didn't get to meet because she came while I was out of town and she worked only with our other doctor.  But the next one got to spend time with both of us.

It was really nice to be able to give them a chance to practice and to teach them some tips and tricks that you don't pick up in school.  It was also great to see the confidence and skill level improve over the two weeks.  Not only did they get to practice surgeries, they were also able to induce anesthesia, place endotracheal tubes and draw blood.  Overall they were super pleased with their experience and will be telling all their friends.

On the flip side, nothing has made me more thankful for my years of experience than watching them struggle through every step of every surgery.  I know we were all at that same place at one point but I'm so glad those days are behind me now!

The added benefit of this is we get a chance to show the students that just because we are low cost does not mean low quality.  They get to see the kinds of people that utilize our services as well as the endless supply of feral cats that need to be spayed and neutered.  So it's a good way to help make peace among the low-cost non-profit places and private practices.  Since I actively work in both realms I see the pros and cons and the arguments on both sides, but I also know there is not a simple answer and that everyone just needs to focus on the animals and learn to get along.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Well deserved

The day Zodiac came to our house, he got out of the car, walked over to me-a perfect stranger-and leaned against my leg to get petted.  And my new pet therapy dog stood before me.  Within the year he became officially certified with TDI and began making visits.  The next year when we moved he became certified with the local Pet Therapy of the Ozarks group and for a decade has been making visits for them.

Over 11 years he has been involved in group performances, obedience demonstrations, visited schools, nursing homes, churches, libraries, hospitals, the young, old, disabled, ill and everyone in between.  For the last several years he and Corgi Ella have visited the Pediatric unit at the hospital, lifting the spirits of sick children, their families, and caretakers.  Tonight both Zodiac (age 14.5) and Ella (age 12) made their last visit and will be enjoying a well deserved retirement.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Record breaking

It's been awhile since I posted in concert photos of various quality, so here you go...

This weekend Linda and I trekked to KC for the Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean concert at Arrowhead.  The crowd set a record for the largest concert ever at Arrowhead with 57,368 attendees!

The day was hot, and we basically sweltered through the first two opening acts of Cole Swindell and Brantley Gilbert.  Neither of whom I was too excited about.  By the time Jason came on the sun was setting and a pleasant breeze was keeping everyone comfortable.  He had some cool graphics and lots of fireworks as part of his set but otherwise his performance just kind of mediocre.  Kenny was great, as expected and he hit a lot of my favorite songs.  Then he and Jason did a four song encore together which was fun.

We had floor seats this year-which was nice because it gave us a chance to sit some, especially between acts, as well as leave to get a drink or use the restroom and still have a place to come back to.  They were towards the back though which makes it hard for me to see the actual stage.  There were definite pros and cons to being on the floor vs the pit, now sure which was better!  I also wish I had wanted to see the opening acts more this year-if you are going to be somewhere for 6 hours it's nice to want to see more than one of the performers!  But, here are the photos.