Our Last Day Without Kids!

posted by Andrea | 08/29/2011

Today will most likely be Dave and my very last day without kids… for the rest of our lives!

No, our baby girl isn’t scheduled to arrive for another 10 weeks; but later today, we will be welcoming two high school International Students into our home for the entire school year!

Now, for those of you who are thinking, “they must be crazy to host high school students just a few weeks before they have their first baby,” let me reassure you that we agreed to host these students MANY months before we knew I was pregnant. And even though having a baby wasn’t really OUR plan for this school year, there isn’t anything we can do about that now :)

So starting tonight, we will be parents! Yikes!

Dave is really calm about the whole thing {that’s totally his personality} but I’m starting to freak out just a little bit.

We’re as physically ready as we can be though:

  • their bedrooms are ready
  • their bathroom is spotless
  • the laundry is done
  • the fridge, freezer, and pantry are stuffed full {seriously, I’ve never had so much food in my house!}
  • my menu plan for this week and next week is fully prepared and I have all the ingredients in the house
  • school supplies are purchased
  • our house projects are finished {for the most part!}
  • the house is clean — really, really clean

We’ve done everything we can think of to get ready for their arrival… but I’m still nervous!

  • will they like my cooking?
  • will they like our house?
  • will they like their rooms?
  • will we be able to understand each other? {one girl is Korean, the other is Vietnamese}
  • will they get along with us… and with each other?
  • will they fit in at school? {they will both be high school students at Calvin Christian, where Dave teaches}
  • will I be able to handle having two extra people around ALL the time?
  • will I still be able to work as much as I’m working now?
  • will they be messy?
  • will they be too shy — or overly talkative?
  • will they get homesick and want to go back “home”?

So many questions… all completely unknown {and let’s face it, we all know how much I dislike the unknown!!}

However, even though reality is starting to sink in and I know everyone will be just a bit nervous these first few days, Dave and I are very excited to enter this “new chapter” in life. Hosting international students is something we’ve wanted to do for a few years now — we were just waiting until we had an appropriate house. And honestly, our house is perfect!

The girls will each have their own large bedroom upstairs with a very large bathroom {also upstairs} that they will share. Each room has a desk area, a reading nook with comfy chair, a sleeping area, a nice size closet, extra dressers, etc. Plus, we have a den on the second floor that they can use to watch TV, hang out, or just relax if they don’t want to be in the main living room with us. There is a large extra storage closet up there too, so all their belongings will have a place to go.

Dave and I are optimistic that the transition will go smoothly, that these two girls will be open to trying and learning new things, and that we will be able to handle parenting high school students and a new baby at the same time. However, we relish any thoughts and prayers you would like to send our way — especially these first couple of weeks when everyone will need lots of patience and there will be lots of adjustments {for the girls and for us}.

Also, I’d love to hear any POSITIVE experiences  from those of you who have hosted international students before — or simply general words of encouragement!

Wish us luck, and keep us in your thoughts and prayers…

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21 comments

  1. Teri

    08/29/2011

    I think that is AWESOME!! Having a new baby is hard, but there is a learning curve and lots of people usually willing to help. From experience, getting older kids whom you have not been part of their development and growing up was a a lot harder (we “inherited” two elementary aged kids from a friend that died). It will take a little time to adjust to each other and the custom differences of your home versus their own homes. After a few weeks I am sure you will develop a routine and things will feel “normal”, just in time to get stirred up by the new baby and start over on building a routine. :O)

    Hopefully the students will be excited to be “big sisters” and will help out. I wish I had an extra set of hands those first months to entertain the baby while I cooked or tried to pay bills. Not that you would require them to, but I assume they will want to; especially because you will be building the excitement being still pregnant when they arrive.

    It sounds like you will be a great mother (to both age groups). Good luck!!

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  2. Nuria

    08/29/2011

    I wish you the best!
    I’m on the other side.My daughter is landing on Washington right now!
    And we are so sad but hoping she’d be fine but i know the first days will be hard for her!
    Thanks to people like you our children can live this amazing experience…
    With your amazing organization all would be perfect!!!
    Good luck!

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  3. heidi

    08/29/2011

    best wishes to you! :)

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  4. cassie

    08/29/2011

    I think it is completely normal to be nervous right now! But I fully believe that You and your hubby will be able to handle it all. You are amazingly good at juggling and organizing and staying on top of things. Don’t doubt yourself, I fully believe in you!!! You may not be able to work as much, but still often enough. But enjoy it, enjoy being “parents” to two high schoolers and enjoy being parents to your baby girl when she is born!

    I wish you prays and much luck on this new chapter! You got this! =D

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  5. Maria

    08/29/2011

    My husband and I hosted a student for a school year, though she was not international. We had a very good experience. We did have the advantage of knowing her a little before she moved in.

    Talk about details. All of you need to be upfront about your needs and expectations. At what time in the evening should the girls be upstairs? When the baby comes, are there times when the baby should be left alone? Do you prefer your room is always off-limits? Should you knock or call up the stairs if you’re going up? (Sounds pathetic, but with our boarder we used cell phones to communicate on quick questions or to say when dinner was ready. That way I didn’t have to go downstairs or holler to let her know.) Who does laundry when? What should be done if someone leaves their laundry in the washer or dryer? (Personally, I don’t like anyone else messing with my laundry. If it’s wet, plop it in a basket and leave it alone. But some people have tried to be helpful and have messed up clothes for me.) This may seem unimportant, but It is little things like this that make it hard to live with someone else.

    I wish you well and will pray for an easy transition.

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  6. Megan Camp

    08/29/2011

    I think you’ll have an awesome year! Thankfully, you’ll have time to adjust to them living in your house and their schedule before the baby comes. That way, when the baby comes, you’re already in a routine with the other scheduled things. I think exchange students will be a great experience for all of you.
    When I taught 5th grade, I had a couple Korean students and one thing that I had to help them with was social skills/interacting with friends. Due to the culture, many of the Korean children are only children. They also push the extracurricular activities after school and recess was usually individual sports etc. My Korean students had a hard time interacting appropriately with friends so there tended to be lots of drama. I LOVED both of my Korean students but it was helpful for me to help them work through their situations by better understanding their backgrounds. They were both such sweet kids with hard work ethics and a desire to please. I’m sure you’ll have a WONDERFUL year as a family of 5 soon!

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  7. Kelsey

    08/29/2011

    How fun! I’m a high school ESL teacher, and the main reason I love my job is that I love being with the students. A word of encouragement about them understanding each other–my students seem to have an uncanny ability to understand each other. One of the closest groups of friends I’ve ever observed was a Spanish speaker, a French speaker, and a Vietnamese speaker who were all VERY low level English speakers. I couldn’t understand their English, but they could somehow understand each other’s English! Praying that the transition into “parenthood” and into parenthood goes smoothly!

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  8. Kelly Braman

    08/29/2011

    Awe…this will be a new experience and how great that these girls get to stay with you! Take many pics and I will definitely pray for the transition to go smoothly:))

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  9. mandi

    08/29/2011

    How awesome of you guys!! I know I haven’t been around “blog world” much this past year, but I immediately thought – “wow! That pregnancy went by super fast”!!

    Best of luck … I’m sure you’ll be a blessing in their lives!

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  10. Katie

    08/29/2011

    Such an awesome opportunity for those girls and for the two of you. I am sure you will be fantastic parents to all three of your ladies;) Prayers for you!

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  11. Tammy

    08/29/2011

    I have no experience hosting exchange students but have lived overseas and have to say GOOD LUCK! They will probably feel blessed by having such great spaces to live, work and hang out. Plus, you will have a bonus of extra hands around the first few weeks of your little girl’s life. Sounds like it will be a great year.

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  12. Jeanine

    08/29/2011

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a few months now, and have gotten lots of good ideas from you, so first off, I wanted to say thank you! I think it’s so great that you are hosting two international students! Yes, I think you’re a little crazy, but in a good way. I can totally relate, because we adopted a daughter from Vietnam when our three sons were 17, 14, and 11, so as you can see, we’re a little crazy too! Believe me, though, the blessings have far, far outweighed the sacrifices, and I predict this will be the case for you too. Also, we just had an international student move in with us a month ago. She is actually a college student who will probably be here for several years, and she is going to teach our daughter to speak Vietnamese, so we are very excited about that! I do know what you mean about being nervous about the upcoming changes, but I believe and hope that everything will work out for your good and God’s glory!

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  13. Erika

    08/29/2011

    So exciting!!! I can so see how God will use this as blessing both for them and you! Excited to read about how it’s going!

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  14. Krissa

    08/29/2011

    Good luck! I’m sure it will go well…I’ve never hosted international students myself, but growing up we had lots of exchange students stay with us over the years. I think it’s great that there are two of them–that will help!

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  15. Janet

    08/29/2011

    We hosted several high school exchange students over the course of several years. It has been about 35 years ago. While we do not keep in touch with all of them we do with several who have become extended family. Our first student was 16 when he lived with us and our 2 sons were 2 & 4. They placed him with us because he was an only child and they thought he would do better without other teens in the home. We had a positive experience with a few ups and downs which I am sure is normal. I now have found a home for his younger son for next school year. He will be near us but since we are now officially senior citizens thought he should have a younger family. Some of our students did very well and a few had a hard time adjusting. I hope the program that you went through (we went through YFU) has someone to stay in contact with for both you and the students. YFU also had some booklets about adjusting to the student/family sitituations that were helpful. We had students way before the internet, now you could probably pull up any questions that may arise. I am sure you will enjoy the girls. It is always hard at first with the language but it will come. The students were always so surprised when they dreamed in English. The son of our 1st student, I mentioned knows English but was afraid to speak when they visited. On the way to the airport as they were leaving a motorcycle went past us and in clear English he said “It’s a chopper!”. Get ready for lots of fun and funny things/sayings. We will say a prayer for you but I know you will do fine.

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  16. The Chatty Mommy

    08/29/2011

    I am so excited for you!

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  17. Zolane

    08/30/2011

    My husband and I work at a college where one of his responsibilities is to see to the needs of our international students and where both of us share a passion for supporting, caring and serving all of our students. It is a rare opportunity and gift to share in their lives and watch as they experience a new culture with all the questions and wonder of a child.

    It’s wonderful that you and Dave are willing to open up your home and your lives. What a great ministry and a huge blessing to the students you will be hosting. I can imagine how excited they will be to be part of a family with a new baby arriving. I am so happy for all of you and pray that the transition will be smooth and that each day will bring much joy and peace.

    God bless!

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  18. Elvie Look

    08/30/2011

    Wow, you are really organized. When we took in students who were attending our local College, they were boys and so low maintenance. But what was really neat was how super organized one student was. I folded his clothes ONCE from the dryer… but didn’t do that again. He refolded everything! LOL Looking forward to your posts and see how it goes, but I already know that answer, you will be a great mom!

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  19. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    08/31/2011

    Oh, how exciting! Good job at getting your ducks in a row. I wouldn’t expect anything less from you! :-) You’re going to be amazing! You already are… I’m praying for smooth transitions!

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  20. Ann

    08/31/2011

    We’ve had several exchange students and here are some of my suggestions:
    At first, ALWAYS say their name first when you are speaking to them. This clues them in to listen instead of letting the language just go over their head. Remember that it is work for them to listen and to understand and they will not do it all the time. We were always surprised when the exchange kids had no idea about some plans we had even though we had discussed it at dinner the night before. Since we didn’t cue them in to actually listen to the conversation, they did not really pay attention, thinking it didn’t pertain to them.

    Discuss everything. (Where to put towels after using them, where to put dirty clothes, how long and how often they may/must shower, when they may help themselves to food and what food they may have, etc.) and be willing to repeat these things without frustration. So much is thrown at them the first few days in a foreign language that much of it is bound to not stick.

    My exchange kids all chose to have me do their laundry. I gave them the option of doing their own when I was not using the machines (and I told them when I usually do laundry) or of just tossing it down the chute and I’d do it with mine. I folded it into piles and they had to pick it up from the laundry room. If they had any special instructions (like do not put this shirt in the dryer) they were to put it in a plastic bag first. Any pre-treating was their responsibility.

    We had to show our students how to sleep between sheets. They all slept on both sheets and used the comforter as a cover. I told them that I washed sheets every Tuesday morning and it was their job to take them off when they got up and toss them down the chute.

    Our exchange kids were required to do anything that our own kids had to do. (This will be different for you because you don’t have older kids.) They helped out with family jobs like mowing the lawn, raking, shoveling, dishes, and they cleaned their own bathroom (after I showed them how.)

    It is very helpful to have a second set of ears at school. For us it was our own children, for you it will be your husband. Exchange students often miss announcements about meetings, sporting activities, volunteer opportunities, play tryouts, etc. Another set of ears to clue them in is very helpful! (Also make sure you read the daily announcements. Are they online? That will help you feel more in control.)

    We encouraged our exchange kids to have kids over. That was hard for them. We first invited other exchange kids, then kids from teams or extra curricular activities that they are involved in, then kids we heard them talking about. They would come over on a Friday or Saturday night to play games, watch movies, etc. I always told the kids that they needed permission from us first but that they were welcome to make plans and not wait for others to invite them over. We had bikes they could use and we showed them how to ride to the library, the park, the tennis courts, etc. This gave them some independence.

    At first, use as few words as possible to communicate your message. I tend to ramble on (Can you tell?) and they’d get a glazed look. Then I’d sum up what I was saying in a few words. “We’re leaving in 10 minutes.” “Supper will be ready soon. Please no snacks now.”

    Do you have a computer they will have access to? Will they have their own? Rules need to be set about both. We have a strong filter on our computer. We set the rule that if they wanted to go to a site that was banned, they could talk to dad. He would look at the site with them and discuss why the filter may have banned it and if it was something they thought they still needed or could live without. Often, they decided they could do without. Sometimes we adjusted the filter. What time of day/night may they be on computers? (Whether yours or theirs.) May computers be in bedrooms? It is very easy for exchange students to spend all their time on social networks and email with friends back home and not really give this opportunity a good chance. That should be discouraged. We were able to get our home computer to run on their native languages when they were logged on. This helped them communicate with their families and also helped them translate some things they didn’t understand. Do you have a skype account? We pay about $3/month for a skype account for the phone. They were able to call home with this at no additional charge. We also set up a web cam so their families could see them. Their moms almost always cried the first time they could actually see them. (And you!)

    I hope this is a blessing for you! We enjoyed it when we did it. We have no kids in school anymore so have opted to be done due to transportation issues, etc.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow…thanks Amy! So many good tips!!
    These first few days will probably be a little rough because they really don’t have anything to do for school yet and now we have the long holiday weekend to get through so hopefully we can find a few things to keep them occupied!

    I will definitely be taking lots of your advice. Thanks again!

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