Where to start? I'm not sure...
Remember our caterpillar project? I found a tank for sale on craigslist and bought it to raise our butterflies in. Soon after they all died. We had bought a potted herb from Publix that I'm afraid may have been sprayed with an insecticide. All 27 died. I'm sure glad we didn't eat it! The frogs eggs never hatched so we dumped them in the pond. The fishies were happy for the snack. And now we have a giant empty fish tank sitting on the floor in my dining room.out
In the beginning of July I received a phone call from an organization called Education First. The representative was calling because a neighbor of mine had listed me as a reference on her application to host a foreign exchange student. She also asked if our family would be interested in hosting. After discussing it that evening, Joshua and I decided that we would.
The company that Joshua has worked for during the past 2+ years has another location outside of Nashville. On July 3rd, he learned that their finance guy was leaving.
We had our first North Fort Myers Independence Day. Quite an experience, I must say! And I left my camera at my brother-in-laws house. Whoops! I left its USB cable in the draw in the desk though. Apparently Lydia found it one day, got it tangled around one of the legs of the computer chair and then someone (we still are not sure which one) tried to "tow" the chair around the den. I found my USB cord in two pieces. So even if I had my camera...I have no way of getting the pictures out of it.
On July 5th, one of Josh's co-workers encouraged him to apply for the Nashville position. He did.
Monday, July 8th was the day that Joshua turned in his "final" final exam. Hooray!!! He now has completed his education and finished his masters program! The kids and I worked really hard while he was at work to get the house extra, super clean and tidy PLUS decorated for a surprise graduation party! His school colors are blue and green...just in case you were not sure.
When we heard the car pull into the garage we all put our party hats on and jumped behind the couch to ambush Daddy. As soon as he walked in, Lydia ran out and yelled, "Hi!". The rest of us took that as our cue and jumped up shouting, "Surprise!" and then broke into a very sorry rendition of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow". But what we lacked in pitch we made up for in gusto!
We had made him a construction paper graduation hat, complete with lime, green ribbon "tassel". We also made a big sign that read, "Congrats, Daddy! You make us proud!" James suggested we use Christmas lights to make it really festive. How could I argue? I made a fancy, schmancy dinner that was, if I may say so myself, amazingly delicious!! I even had some chilled sparkling grape juice!
Josh's favorite meal is roasted pork with mashed potatoes and gravy. In my family, whenever we had a roast and mashed potatoes we always had carrots too. I found this incredibly easy recipe for the pork that we just fell in love with. I found it at www.food.com. It's called Stove Top Pork Pot Roast and it was super simple. I am pretty sure that this is how I will always make roast pork from now on. This produced a very moist roast and the gravy was so savory and perfect! Did I mention how easy it was? The carrots are my classic, steamed and then coated in butter, honey and parsley with a little bit of salt to bring out all of the flavors. Nutritious and yummy. The kids gobbled them up.
I had trimmed my rosemary bushes the day before and Josh asked me to make him a wreath with the clippings. So I did. It smelled wonderful, even if it did look a little primitive.
He took it to his office the next day...along with the banner and hat we had made him!
One week later, Joshua received a phone call around noon on Friday, July 12th saying that they were going to fly Josh and I up to take a look at the area and the job. Oh...and we had to be there by Monday! The Lord knew this, and providentially organized our trip to coincide with my in-laws vacation. At the very moment Joshua got that phone call, his parents were heading up towards Pigeon Forge, TN for some rest and relaxation!
Blokus, and laughed and laughed! (It's a game that is great for teaching little ones strategy and James if pretty good at it already!) Then we had some fun times with the rocking horse...which somehow led to wheelbarrow rides. I was astonished to think that we have never done that with our kids before! What on earth have we been doing these past 5 years??
So at 7 A.M. on Saturday, July 13th we rented a mini-van and drop up to Tennessee. Everyone had a case of the giggles soon into the ride. It was so fun! And then everyone was very quickly wiped out. James fell asleep reading a book in the very back seat, JoyAnna looked like we had run her over with the van, and Lydia was happy as a clam. Until she became unhappy.
We played the License Plate game too. Listen to the states we found (most of them were found before we had even gotten out of Florida!):
Virginia Georgia Florida North Carolina Ohio Michigan Texas Mississippi
Pennsylvania Massachusetts Arkansas Washington Tennessee Illinois Kansas
Wisonsin Maryland New Mexico Oregon Connecticut Vermont Iowa Missouri
Kentucky Indiana Maine Arizona South Carolina Louisiana Oklahoma Alabama
New York Nebraska New Jersey Minnesota California
We arrived late that night and got a little mixed up by following our GPS rather than common sense while trying to find the hotel in Brentwood. But we immediately fell in love with the area and were so excited about this possible life change. Josh's parents very graciously volunteered to meet us in Nashville to watch the kids for us while Josh and I went to shop around for a place to live. But after his two interviews, it was looking like it would not be a wise decision to leave his current job for this one. On our way home we stopped at Cumberland Caverns and had such a good time! If you're ever near McMinnville, Tennessee you should visit. They even host something called "Bluegrass Underground", which is a bluegrass concert INSIDE the caverns! Now THAT is MY kind of shindig!
Unfortunately, I have very few photos to share from those adventures because my camera is STILL in North Fort Myers. I had to use Josh's phone to take pictures, and I often forgot because I am so used to having my camera around my neck. (Hey, Erpa! If you're reading this, maybe you can share some pictures so I can add them to my blog?)
The evening of July 17th found us back at our home in Southwest Florida, minus James and JoyAnna. They went on to spend the rest of the week with Erma and Erpa in Tennessee and Georgia. They visited Stone Mountain for the first time and had such a blast!! We missed them so much. It's amazing how different the house seems without them. And not in a good way. On a happier note, our fist home-grown pineapple was ripe when we arrived home!
|Isn't it cute?|
We are moving to Tennessee!!
We picked up our exchange student on Friday, July 19th. All of the host families prepared welcome signs and gathered at McGregor Baptist Church to greet their students. We lined up outside in the parking lot and waited for the 5 or so buses pull up, all the while cheering and madly waving our signs and banners. Each student was taken off the bus, one at a time, and his or her family was called forward to claim them. It was really exciting!
|Sam's Chinese name is Yang|
We were the last host family to sign up, just as Sam was the last student to sign up. We call that Divine Providence. He fits into our family so perfectly. We absolutely love him. He is funny and kind, he is very helpful and hardworking. He enjoys James, JoyAnna and Lydia and is a very gracious guest.
His Chinese name is Yang, however when he arrived he asked us to call him by his English name, "Sam". Yang is the short version of the Chinese word for "sunshine". I don't know how to spell it. It sounds like "Gee-Yahng". He is 15 and comes from Shanghai, China. He has an older sister who works for Education First, the exchange program he is here with. Sam wants to be a farmer when he grows up. He wants to raise pigs and crops. For now he just has a turtle. You have to start somewhere, right?
|Sam's first time playing baseball|
He likes chocolate and despises roast beef. He's very good at playing baseball, but he thinks watching it is boring. He is very good at jigsaw puzzles and board games! Josh taught him how to play chess and he picked it up so very quickly. I am convinced that he is a prodigy. Seriously. It is quite humbling to watch this boy play such a complicated game so very well after he only learned it less than a week ago! He also beat Josh V E R Y badly at Monopoly. I laughed and laughed. I have NEVER in my LIFE seen ANYONE beat Josh at Monopoly. It was a beautiful moment.
|Notice the look of total shock on his face? Sam was very carefully counting all of his loot.|
He has never mowed a lawn before. So when Josh mowed on Monday night, Sam insisted that he help. It was a hot day. The poor boy had no idea what he had gotten himself into! He worked very hard. I was so proud of him. He came in for a drink and to cool off while Josh went around to do the backyard. When he saw Josh moving the potted plants so he could mow the last few feet of the yard, Sam said, "Oh! I must go help Mr. Eads." And he was out of the door before I could say anything!
|James is usually Daddy's mowing buddy, but he was just as happy to follow behind Sam this time.|
We were invited to return to Tennessee during the week of August 11th so that Joshua can learn his new position and we can find a place to live. Then we plan to make the big move beginning on August 31st, during Labor Day weekend. So we will be there to see the fall colors, and feel the last few sighs of summer as the fresh new autumn breezes bring cooler weather. Ahh...just the idea of cooler weather! And maybe we'll see the bear and deer getting fat for winter. Joshua promised his children that they would see snow this year. I cried at the thought of my children finally seeing snow.
My children have never lived anywhere else. They have never experienced seasons. It's exciting to think of the new experiences we will have. But it's bittersweet. We have a lot of family here. Almost all of Josh's immediate family lives here. My grandparents, two aunts and an uncle and some cousins of mine live here. Also, we have been a part of a very small home church over the past year and a half. In some ways we are closer to them than our biological family members. We also have a family that lives down the street from us that we are close to. It breaks my heart to think of leaving all of these dear people.
So...if you are reading this, and you happen to be one of those people...please remember that as long as we are there, you will always have a place in Tennessee to hang your hat.