Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 308 - Flowers Take Water, Sunlight and Fertilizer to grow

I read in one of my magazines over the Thanksgiving vacation an article written by a woman who believes that everyone should at some point be one with nature.  Whether it be (forgive my boldness here) peeing out in the woods, gardening, birdwatching, making things from wood, or skinny dipping in the lake.  She feels that without that singular sensation of getting in touch with our animalistic side, we miss the beauty in nature and thus the natural beauty within ourselves.  I knew what she meant.  Over that same holiday, I was able to walk up around the pond, pick crab apples off the ground and from the tree and take them over to feed the goats.  I saved a piece of old weather-worn, chipped painted piece of wood from the fire wood pile and made it into a centerpiece.  This same centerpiece contained abandoned blue robin eggs, the nest they were laid in and pine cones that I had gathered.  

There is just something good that comes from this whole process.  Returning to home, as the Rascal Flatts wrote a song about, we all just need "A Little Bit of Home."  We  return to the same food we ate as children, the same room we slept in as a child and speak of memories of the way things were.  Only to be refueled or recharged to leave the nest once again to continue living our own lives.

For my current time as a parent, my boys have left and are discovering both the reality of life and finding their own lives in that process.  Returning home is not as important as they have just left.  I long for the days that they return and bring new family members.  I long for the days that we will all sit as one family at one big long table and break bread that is made from scratch only to retire to the fire burning in a fireplace or a bonfire outside.  Either way fire is always part of this process too.  Fire destroys and then rebirth takes place.  It is a cycle.  This is what I learn the most over and over again, that just as it is said in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything, a season for everything.  The process of life and learning and love and trust are ever evolving.  

Being one with nature, remembering that seeds are distributed all over the ground and it is God who decides which one grows and which ones don't. God and parents water the seeds, put fertilizer on them and around them, encourage them with sunshine and somehow these seeds crack, open up, stretch in darkness through dirt and rock and grow.  We wash our hands from the toil and dirt and know that we have labored. Sometimes we get to see the blossoms and sometimes we don't.  We only can know that we had a hand in part of the process.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 307 - Election Day Ten Days Too Early

After 2 billion dollars have been raised and spent, the TV executives, print company owners and Radio Station owners are richer.  The American people are deaf from all the ads and tired from the battle.  I only wish Election day was ten more days after today.  This is when the movie Lincoln comes out.  Lincoln is the reason why I'm a Republican.  Having personally stood on the Sacred Ground of Gettysburg and stood where Lincoln gave the infamous Gettysburg Address and also stood in the Lincoln Memorial and read his reasoning for not allowing the South to succeed from the union, one gets a true sense of what Lincoln, the man stood for.

People forget that he was a Republican, by today's standards he committed a liberal act because he freed the slaves.  An act associated by today's critics as a "liberal" move.  Lib-er-al as defined as an ADJECTIVE, not a noun, by the Oxford English Dictionary: Willing to respect or accept behavior different than our own.  This is where I think today's typical Republican gets it wrong and what angers me the most about my own party.  I as a woman by the American Constitution and God Given Right have the choice to make decisions about my own body.  I don't agree with abortions for myself, with that being said, having been pregnant three times and given birth twice to two wonderful sons of American freedom, don't impose this view upon other women.  How can Republicans scream and shout for freedom FROM government when it is these SAME MEN in Congress who make these rules telling me what I can and what I can't do with my OWN body?  It was a woman who gave them birth, just let God give ONE man the opportunity to have a "teachable moment" by allowing him to get pregnant, carry the fetus, and give birth to life with a head bigger than the original opening! I'm sure their opinion would be "willing to respect or accept behavior different than their own"  What you say?  The exact meaning of a Liberal which is what they want all Republicans to fear most.

Lincoln got it right and lead the Republican Congress in 1863 to pass via the democratic procedure.  We are a Republic with a democratic system.  Democracy defined by Webster; Liberal: of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.  Lincoln got this right too...from the Gettysburg address, "...a government by the people, for the people and of the people, shall not perish from this earth."  Lincoln also said in that same address, we would not remember what he said there.  On the contrary, we can never forget it, particularly the statement about our devotion to remember it: It is for us the living, rather to be dedicated here, to the unfinished work, for they who fought here have thus far have nobly advanced. It is rather for us here to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us-- that from these honored dead we take increased  devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.--that this nation under God, shall have a new birth of freedom....

In my opinion the basis of a conservative Republican...being free from big government and fiscally responsible.  We can't leave our children and grandchildren and other descendants with a mess we created in the first place.  We as parents are supposed to always give a hand UP to our children, not a hand out.  And when we can't, it is nice for us as a MORAL PEOPLE to help others when we can and ask for help when we need it.  If we as an American people did more of this for our own (other Americans) than we wouldn't need governmental services.  We as a people without resolve have let our brothers and sisters flounder like fish out of water.  How many of us have knocked on the door of our neighbor and invited them for dinner knowing they have been out of work for over two years?  How many of us with jobs have told our employer when an opening has come open that we know someone who would be great at that job?

I've been told by a friend of twenty years who looking back I guess really doesn't "know" me that she is not interested in reading my blog.  She says shes not "that philosophical."  I don't see how you can read and understand our American history and not be philosophical.  However that is her right and I respect it.  Just like not agreeing with abortion for myself but unwilling to tell another person what they can and cannot do.  If you know me I'm not sanctimonious enough to believe that what is right for me is right for you.  Just call me a liberal...willing to respect or accept behavior different than my own.  If I come across that way, please understand I'm not telling people in the blog what "should be" I'm stating my opinion of what "could be"  I strive to see our full potential as humans, as people, as women, as men, as students, as workers, as mothers, as fathers, as business owners, as Americans.

In Gettysburg there is the monument that was dedicated with an Eternal Light Peace Memorial to the 1800 living Civil War heroes who gathered from both the North and the South seventy-five years after the war.
The memorial was dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt on July 3rd, 1938, the 75th anniversary of the battle. One Union and one Confederate veteran unveiled the 47 1/2 foot tall shaft. Roosevelt compared the task of the men of the 1860's with the men of his day: "All of them we honor, not asking under which Flag they fought then - thankful that they stand together under one Flag now." 

When we travel outside of the USA, internationally people don't care if we are Republican or Democrat, we are Americans.  And although they call us American Pigs, they silently wished they could be an American because you see, we are really two sides of the same coin....a shiny new penny with Lincoln on it.

Lincoln comes out November 16th, please go watch it.

Whoever you voted for, reach across the aisle and accept and respect the behavior that is different than  your own.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 306 - So you want to be a host parent? Have No Regrets

Every time I say, "I'm never going to do this again." in response to having a foreign alien in my home commonly known as a teenager.  Cupboard doors left open, beds not made, forgetting to lock the door, or forgetting their purse, or just plain forgetting! We set out in the beginning to open our home to someone's daughter or son from across the globe with hopes of making a difference.  I feel that giving a host daughter or host son from another country not only expands my views but completely changes theirs.  The honeymoon begins when they enter your world via the airport.  Simple things amaze me that they don't know.  We all as Americans know that since 9/11, we can't meet you at the gate, we meet in baggage claim.  This is a little detail with huge importance.  Their phones don't work in America when they get here so how else will we find them.  Parents love their children sooo much they don't think to pay the additional $25 to have them escorted to meet the host parents who must show their ID.

They don't know how to unload the dishwasher, clean, cook, address a postcard, how much a stamp costs (they know the price of shoes!), how to catch a frog, plant a flower, or what kind of birds are native to their country and region. They don't know we don't speak British and are constantly having a problem with the past perfect tense of verbs.  "They taught us that way" they say! We've also been called American Pigs by Australian relatives (young and ignorant relatives, not the wiser and older relatives)

This time, when meeting our Australian daughter, her parents did just that, they paid to have her meet with me and I was escorted to her.  The time prior to that I was trying to find out where my host son from Germany was.  Nobody would give me any information because his German parents who are a doctor and heathcare sales rep respectively didn't pay the nominal fee to secure his arrival.  Despite their ignorance, I found him. The parents sign a waiver that they will not contact their son or daughter while in America.  They must abide by the American host parents rules. In theory this is "nice" but in reality they do whatever they want.  And as a result this causes many American parents real problems.  And thus my statement, "I'm never going to do this again."

I know this is tough on ANY parent so personally I allow emails as often as you'd like and skyping once a month home to share all the exciting things we do in America.  We candidly let the Birth parents know that we do however institute a 30-day moratorium of no contact what-so-ever particularly for the non-English speaking students. This assures their total absorption of the English language and forces them to learn quickly.  With our Australian daughter, it was the American culture we wanted her to absorb.  We as host parents make sure the kids maximize their stay in our lives and in America by teaching them and showing them as much as we can.  Places that most Americans have never been cumulatively in a lifetime, they will visit in six to ten months. 

Sam and Steve in Pennsylvania Monument built to honor the highest number of Civil War Casualties
It has been a learning experience for us as we didn't understand the attitude that would come with already knowing English.  Our host daughter thinks that just because she speaks the language she knows how to live in America and insists on doing things HER way.  And I always smack myself in the head and think, why do these kids even come to America when they don't want to broaden their horizons and learn as much as they can while they are here? "That's not the way WE do it!" as she metaphorically slaps us in the face. They would rather get on the internet and tell all their friends back home for hours on the internet instead of spending time with their host parents who have been kind enough to invite them into our homes, stop our lives and revolve around our new "son" or "daughter, like the earth revolves around it's sun.

They test our boundaries, misplace things, break things,etc. just like our own American birth sons and daughters and are typical teenagers.  But do they really get it?  I've heard many times from other American Host parents that we feel like they treat us as their "hotel."  They don't pay rent so maybe we should start charging?  It is so rude in our culture to come into our homes and not want to talk to you.  Closing their bedroom door and staying in there for hours.    Only to tell their friends at home what a great time they are having. 

I learned from the German son that technology has put other limitations on what parents can do.  With the iPhone once they have your code for your wireless internet, you have no control.  They do whatever they want, talk to whomever they want whenever they want.  I stopped this with the next host daughter and didn't give the access code.  I now monitor the wireless to ensure that the kids don't get sucked into this black hole of Facebook and Facetime and Instant Chat instead of talking to us.  It is amazing to me that they will come home and answer the question of "How was your day?" with "OK, normal, etc" only to overhear them tell a friend about a fight that broke out in school and this is Spirit Week, Homecoming, etc. That is NOT a NORMAL, OK Day!  The parents back home want to hear all about it but don't realize this interferes with the bonding process with the parents who are kind enough to take them in.  It is better for parents to talk to parents during this time.  Google Translator and Skype provide this segway and technology is great for this.

Sam and BJ at Gettysburg above Devil's Den

Sam in NY Monument to 2nd most Civil War Soldiers Killed
So we try to be the guiding force and gently prod them to do new things and think the way we know ALL parents want (with the exception of the German Parents who told their son he didn't have to listen to our rules!) and that is to learn kindness, critical thinking skills and open their minds to what can be instead of what they think the world already is. We hear many times from the parents upon our host daughters and host sons return, that they left a girl or boy and returned a young woman or man!  What a compliment, just a few words that let us know that we did the right thing and have no regrets.  Good parents are good parents around the world in every language and country.  Our common bond.  The old adage is true.  If you let something go and it comes back to you, it was yours all along.  We can't be ready for the next step until we let go of something or someone.  Thankfully for the host daughters and sons, their parents loved them enough to let them go and grow.  They always come back, and this short time in America will but only be a memory.  Parents who really let go temporarily and give their children space, ultimately give their children memories of a better and more lasting kind.