How to change the world, a kid at a time.

As a lot of you know, I volunteer and host with Youth for Understanding, a non-profit, volunteer based, cultural exchange organization for high school students. YFU means a lot to me. My parents hosted when I was young and now my husband and I are involved. YFU is a unique opportunity to help change the world. There are so many misconceptions about the United States, and hosting a student is a way to share our country, our traditions, our culture and our incredible diversity with young people from around the world so that they can take that new perspective home with them and share it with their family and friends.

YFU is not only for young people wanting to come here to America, but also for our young American teens to have the opportunity to study abroad. Our children can go to Europe, Asia, South America and more, live with a family from that country and learn more about another culture than they ever could in a classroom. Immerse themselves in another language, get to know people from another part of the world and their traditions and bring that knowledge home with them to share.

Robert and I hope that Conor chooses to go on an exchange when he’s old enough. In fact, we plan to encourage it. We just hope that when it’s his turn, there will be a family willing to open their home and their hearts.

I realize that hosting isn’t for everyone. It’s a big commitment, I won’t lie. But done right, it’s a life changing experience for everyone involved. And if hosting a student doesn’t sound like it’s for you, that’s fine. We are always looking for volunteers to help mentor students coming here, or going abroad. Even just telling others about our program is fantastic and incredibly helpful.

I would never want to pressure anyone (at least not a lot *wink wink*)into hosting a student, nor would I want to offend anyone by giving the impression that if they don’t want to host then they’re wrong, or whatever. I just want to tell people about a wonderful organization and how it has expanded my family in ways I never could have imagined.  Our children, to coin a phrase, are our future……wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were able to see past cultural differences and get to what really matters?

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Bloody Hell!!

Okay, now I’m irritated. I took Conor to the park today with a schoolmate of his and froze my ass off!! Literally. Then Dad called from the casino that he was just about out of money and ready to go home. I hurry from the park, (which in all honesty I was not sad to leave since I was FREEZING) drop Conor off,  pick Dad up.  I have to run to the store to pick some things up for this dinner that Robert saw Rachael Ray cook and now absolutely MUST make it immediately, if not sooner, and a few things for Conor’s lunch.  Dad is with me and he tells me that he is just going to sit in a chair right there by the front. That is perfect!

Three minutes later, Dad calls me wanting to know where I am. I am at the Deli, I see him looking for me, as he stops to pick up a pie on his way. When he gets to me I say that I thought he was going to just sit and wait while I get this little bit of shopping done really quick.

“I can only sit for so long Siobhan,” he says querulously, “And you’re taking so long. You always take too much time shopping.”

I’ve been in there THREE minutes!!  Okay, I give the deli guy my order while dad is standing there, and tell him to stay with the cart and I’ll run and get the rest of the stuff while the deli guy is slicing my ham and gouda. The gouda is for the dinner that Robert saw on Rachael Ray and absolutely HAD to make tonight.

I grab everything as fast as I can loading my arms up and race back to the deli counter to find that dad has moved down to a man handing out free samples of a new sushi product. As soon as he sees me, he grabs the cart and heads for the checkout. Luckily, I was able to at least get a sample. We get home and unload everything only to find out that Dad never got the ham or the gouda. Robert says well, his stomach is now bothering him for some reason so he’ll make the dinner that he HAD to make tonight, tomorrow.

Sorry, is that steam actually coming out of my ears??? I could’ve gone to the store tomorrow. There is no school tomorrow for Martin Luther King day. I didn’t need to actually race through the store tonight with a cantakerous old man! Is he kidding me??? I could’ve just cooked the freaking chicken myself!!

MEN!!!

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Getting to the church on time…Not!

I thought that I would go to Mass today (Saturday) since I have a lot going on tomorrow.  I don’t usually attend Saturday service , Robert feels that it’s not really church since it’s not Sunday.  But with March Madness happening I figured he wasn’t planning on going tomorrow.  I planned to meet Francine there with her family at 5pm. 

When I got there, albeit a little late, I saw that people were pulling out of the parking lot, which was curious.  At first I thought that maybe there had been something going on in the Parish Center.  I park and start walking to the church and notice that people are leaving.  So I thought that maybe there had been a baptism before Mass and some of those people were heading out.  I walk in and hear the hymns and people are defintely leaving.  Carolyn is sitting off to the side selling raffle tickets and she looks at me a little funny.  During all this, it never once occured to me that maybe I got the time wrong.

“Why are people leaving?” I ask, like the idiot I am.  “Doesn’t Mass start at 5:00?”

“No, 4:00.” says Carolyn.  “It starts at 5 on Sundays.”

At this point I mutter a certain four letter word that is shockingly inappropriate in church.  I see Fran and she is laughing.  She had gotten there before me and had escorted her family to the front row before she realized I had the time wrong.  And it was my fault because I’m the idiot that told her five without checking.  Last week I went to the 5pm Sunday Mass and just assumed that it was at 5pm on Saturday as well.  And you know what they say about the word ‘assume’!

So not only did I not get to the church on time, thanks to me, neither did my friend.

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To tell the truth…

Tonight I told Conor to go and get ready for bed.  When I went on back to see if any actual progress in this direction had been made, (there hadn’t) he tells me that he had already brushed his teeth, so I didn’t need to worry about that.  Really now?  Not that I’m suspicious or anything….but I check his toothbrush, and it’s dry, not bone dry, to be fair, but not recently used either. 

“Are you sure you brushed your teeth?” I ask.  “Your toothbrush isn’t wet.”

“Yes, mama.”  It’s amazing how innocent they can look when they’re lying through their dirty, unbrushed teeth, isn’t it?

“You’re positive?” 

“Of course!” he says and heads for his bed.

“I hope you’re not telling me a fib. Because God is watching and it makes him unhappy if you fib.  That’s breaking one of the ten commandments.”

He makes an about face.

“Oh, I forgot, I didn’t.  I brushed them this morning with Daddy.  That’s what I was remembering!”

Catholic guilt….works everytime!

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Conor and Dr. Seuss.

Conor is hooked on Dr. Seuss books.  He has to take a test on 2 library books a week and he always picks Dr. Seuss ones.  I actually try to steer him towards other books because the good doctor can be a little difficult with all his made up words for things, but Conor is nothing if not stubborn.

Right now he has 3 books by Dr. Seuss from the school library.  He was reading the back of one and saw that Dr. Seuss had passed away in 1966.  He said Wow, that was a long time ago.  Well, maybe to a 6 year old, but seeing as how I was a baby at the time, lets not get carried away! 

So, first Conor asks me how old was he when Dr. Seuss died.  Umm, you weren’t born kiddo.  Mommy was just a baby at the time.

“Did you know him?” he asks.

“No honey, I was just a baby.”

“Did I know him?”

“No, honey, you weren’t born yet, remember?”

“I wish I’d known him!”

He is just so utterly adorable at times.  I love the way his mind works.

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There are angels among us.

I have a very dear friend named Michelle.  She is an angel here on earth.  She is one of the most selfless, generous souls in the world.  I call her my dear friend, but the fact is, everyone calls her that.  Her gift  is to make anyone she meets feel like they’re  best friends within moments.   This is a woman who will take six children to Chuck E Cheese by herself to help out friends when the kids have a half day and parents have to work.  When my car was in the shop, she picked Conor up from school and brought him home for me, even though I live in the opposite direction from her.  That’s just who she is.  She does for others and you never feel afterwards that you “owe her one”, and should you suggest such a thing she will just laugh and brush it off.  She’s an angel.  A living, breathing angel.

And now this angel is in the hospital, in a coma.  It’s incomprehensible that such a thing could happen to such a pure spirit.  We don’t know what happened, or why.  All we do know is that our wonderful friend is in need of prayers.  So I ask anyone who reads this to please say a prayer.  Pray that our lovely lady finds her way back to us.  Pray for her husband and 2 young children.  Pray that God grants us a miracle.

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you.

Deep peace of the light of the world to you.

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The same thing happens every night.

I have to admit it, sometimes I question my son’s intelligence.  Well maybe not his IQ, but his common sense.  I realize that most 6 yr old boys really are not blessed with common sense, or rational thought.  I also realize that this condition does not improve appreciably with age.  Exhibit A:  My husband.  Exhibit B:  My father………and the list goes on.  But you would think that when the same behaviour gets you into trouble time and time again, when mommy ends up mad almost every night, one would think that even a stubborn, muleheaded 6 yr old boy would start to think I’m not doing myself any favors here. Maybe if I stop doing this, mama won’t take away my cars.  But NO, that never happens does it?  I have friends with daughters and they don’t describe this frustration to me.

It starts as soon as I say it’s time to get ready for bed.  Conor had a soccer game earlier today so  a shower was defintely in order.  I had been telling him all day that he was going to take a shower tonight.  He helped make pancakes for dinner and while we were cooking I told him that he had to take a shower tonight.  While he ate his dinner I told him that he had to take a shower tonight.  A shower tonight was not news!  Once he was done I said okay, now lets get into the shower.  His reply?  why??

His first move is to drop to the floor and pretend to be asleep, or in a coma, I don’t know.   All I know is that I can feel my blood pressure rising.  I try not to go straight to pissed off so I play along for a second, and then I say okay, enough is enough, let’s get going.  Does he get the hint??  Of course not.  For some reason in his mind, this is funny.  I finally get him down the hall to my bedroom, he lays on the bed as I try to get his clothes off.  He thinks its funny to clench his legs up to make getting his shorts off as difficult as possible.  Now, I am getting pissed.  I ask him please, can we have one night where you go to bed without me getting angry?  Apparently not.  

What is this kid thinking?  This happens almost every night!  When I call him to come brush his teeth I have to do it 5 times.  When I finally get to the point that I snap and raise my voice to him he says to me one of two things.  He’ll either say that I’m not being very nice to him, or that I’m scaring him because I raised my voice.  If I had tried this with my mother,…well I have to admit she wouldn’t have raised her voice.  She would have been too busy raising her hand to swat my butt. 

Is it like Bill Cosby says in his 1983 standup “Himself”?  That all children are brain damaged?  Or is it just boys?  I keep hoping that he will outgrow this complete and utter lack of self preservation that he seems to have but I’m not holding out a lot of hope.  As I’m typing this, my husband, who is buzzed from watching football all day, has just walked down the hall to our son, who is finally in bed.  He jumps into the room and yells “HIKE”.   I hear the delighted squeals of Conor and I can hear them playing football in the bedroom.

So if everyone will excuse me…………I need to go kill my husband!!!

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