Same Song, Second Verse

For the second time in the last three months, Renaissance Man and I shared a meal with our dear friends Grunt and Tuna after the death of one of their fathers.

Grunt’s dad died on the job, driving his semi off the road and into a field in the midst of a heart attack, thinking of others even as he faced his greatest personal crisis.

Tuna’s dad, a humble but amazingly talented designer of metal, succumbed to an aggressive form of dementia after slowly and agonizingly losing his memory.

Two different men with so much in common: love for family and friends,  pride in their work.  Both esteemed by community members.  Both missed tremendously by those who loved them.  I observe a widow, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, close friends and see that love exacts a high price even as it fills a home.

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Recent Quotations

So sometimes I don’t have time for a post, but I thought I’d add some awesome things I’ve heard people say recently.

“You are a geek!” said in a French accent by Canada yesterday to me in English class.  I found out later she was put up to it by Blondecat, our art teacher at school after Russia told Blondecat I called her a weirdo (see next comment).

“Go to bed, Weirdo!” typed by me to Russia the night before when we were communicating via Facebook chat while IN THE SAME HOUSE.  Peals of laughter in her upstairs bedroom answered me, so I followed that comment with “I can hear you laughing!”  Cue more laughter.


“Do you girls want to go work on the junior class homecoming float tonight?” I asked them Wednesday.

“Yes!” exclaimed Russia.

“No!” exclaimed Canada, which seemed odd to me.  “I will not do exam!” So somehow float equated to taking a test after hours.  Fortunately, we quickly cleared up the miscommunication and she decorated the float that night and brought a nice friend home for a while afterward.


“What do you call it when something cannot be bought by money?” Russia asked me today as we were leaving the homecoming parade where both girls rode the junior class float, which won the class decorating competition (I was a judge, but I assure you that they would’ve won even without my vote). 🙂

“Priceless,” I said.

“That’s what today is,” she said.

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“My father makes good soup.  But this soup is best!” Canada beamed as she microwaved her day 2 bowl of chicken/rice soup.

I have to say, the girls are good for my self esteem, cooking wise anyway.

Today I made nearly a dozen blueberry muffins (just from a store-bought mix).  As I write this, they are history.  Renaissance Man had one and I had two…you do the math.

Friday night we made s’mores in the fireplace–the girls’ friend Ukraine was our overnight guest–to resounding success.  Before that, I spent an ungodly amount at the grocery store on pure, unadulterated crap–popcorn, candy corn and peanuts, mini Kit Kats, almond fudge ice cream, etc.

Our fear is that we will send the girls back to their home countries weighing 30 pounds more, each.  And that their Russian and Canadian mamas will have us for lunch.

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So how awesome is it that Russia tipped a game-winning point over the net in her first volleyball match?  Granted our team was handily in the lead, but still.  Even more awesome was her fist-pumping bounce to the back of the court…and then her sprint to the top of the bleachers to give me a big hug.  This girl keeps nothing inside.

Meanwhile, Canada is doing her social magic in the bleachers with the newest exchange student to our school, Norway, who is terribly homesick and hasn’t even unpacked her bags yet, despite living with a super host family.  By the end of the match, they were giggling and eating lollipops they’d finagled from my classroom like old friends.

And Renaissance Man and I?  Well, we took photos, cheered, and generally tried to not be too uncool. (This last task could be a full-time job.)

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Chocolate Cake

One of my co-workers asked today if our grocery budget had doubled or more due to Canada and Russia’s presence.  It has–mostly because the girls love fresh fruit and vegetables.  So while checking out at the grocery store causes me to gulp occasionally, overall I feel like we’re all healthier for the added expense.

However, no one prepared me for the chocolate.  They like a little something sweet after every meal–thankfully, a Chips Ahoy will do.  Occasionally, though, nothing will satisfy like a big piece of chocolate cake.  After perusing the menu at IHOP last weekend, Russia ordered a stack of blueberry pancakes and a piece of chocolate cake…for BREAKFAST.  She proceeded to eat half the pancakes and all of the cake, along with her standard hot tea, without drifting into a sugar coma.

At lunch at a nice restaurant along the Missouri River later in the weekend, both girls saved room for dessert.  While Russia was happy with a piece of banana cheesecake, Canada ordered the Mile High Chocolate Cake.  When Renaissance Man explained this was 2 and 1/2 POUNDS of cake, she merely nodded and smiled.  When he mentioned this was 1 KILOGRAM of cake, her eyes nearly popped out of her head.  We quickly asked for 3 spoons and polished it off with a group effort.

I guess there are worse ways to bond.

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A Good Day

So tonight we celebrated my grandparents’ 65th anniversary.  In July my grandfather mentioned this momentous occasion, and he never volunteers this type of information, so I knew a gathering was in order.  We had a nice family dinner followed by lots of pictures and cake at my brother’s home.

Of course there was an undercurrent to the evening.  Every one of us watches Grandpa, who is undergoing chemotherapy at the age of 86, for any sign of overexertion.  We wonder if we’ve unwittingly exposed him to a cold or just overly tired him.  He and Grandma stood at the end of dinner and thanked us for all our preparations and attendance.  We noticed his pallor and hoarse voice.  He refuses help out to the car and believes he is not old enough to use the walker I brought him.

So we soak up every moment with them.  We hold hands with them and bring them cake.  We hope that this won’t be the last time there are this many of us in the photos.

And in the midst of all this, after less than three weeks as part of our family, Russia helps Renaissance Man get everyone’s attention for photos and Canada braids my niece’s hair.  A stranger observing the scene would think they’ve always been with us.  They fit right in.  I am amazed by how compassionate and flexible they are.  I am thankful to their families for raising them to be this way.

And I love them more every day.

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99 Bottles of Bodywash on the Wall…

So how many different fragrances of bodywash are there in WalMart?  I don’t know, but I believe Russia smelled them all at least twice today.  This behavior seemed obsessive to me, but then I realized all the college girls around us were doing exactly the same thing. Thank goodness for Nivea’s orange blossom and bamboo.

I believe we also came home with about 8 bottles of 99 cent nail polish.  Canada tried to put some magenta glitter polish on me tonight, but we got one nail done and both agreed that I was too old for that.  I went and got some of my more staid polish and she finished the job.

Good news on the interpersonal front:  the girls are thick-as-thieves.  I was getting a little concerned because yesterday morning was downright Arctic when the girls got up.  They ARE very different people.  However, by late afternoon, they were together on Canada’s bed with both laptops giggling at their new U.S. friends’ Facebook photos.  By the time we drove out to the rodeo, I was chauffeuring the prima donnas in the back seat.

By the way, I believe they have video of the ENTIRE rodeo, if you missed it.  Of course the video will stop every time a calf is roped–Russia found that to be quite abusive.



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