Be the best

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credit -

I’ve decided that the Older Mexican way of life – where they stop all activities, go home and take a nap in the middle of the day, and then get up and go back to their day- is a good style for me, particularly since we’re now getting up at 6:00 a.m. 5 days a week as the proper parents of Vivian, our wonderful foreign exchange student.

The day is MUCH longer when one gets up in the middle of the night. So far today, I have

  • leaped out of bed, then made it
  • thrown on clothes and gotten ready for the day
  • arranged breakfast and made coffee
  • sat with Viv at the bottom of the driveway to record when the school bus arrived
  • took clippers and got the mimosa trees and other small weeds cut off at the bottom of the driveway while waiting for the bus
  • painted the first coat on the front side of Pepe le Pew which will be a mailbox decoration next month
  • done a load of wash that’s folded and ready to go upstairs
  • paid bills online
  • filed paperwork that was all over my computer area
  • made notes about Viv’s school schedule and calendar
  • exercised on the elliptical trainer for 15 minutes (killing two wasps and doing away with their nest)
  • made plans to go to the county fair Friday
  • written some blogs and answered email

Now we’ll head out for errands and I’ll fix lunch.  THEN —- SIESTA TIME!  And the second half of the day will begin.

I’m listing all this because sometimes my goals outweigh my time and energy. I’m concentrating on not feeling weighed down and simply being the best that I can be.

I hope you’re trying to be realistic about what is desirable vs what is reasonable, too.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Exercise, Housekeeping?, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Opportunities!, Quality of Life

Painting a skunk

We’re in the middle of creating another metal decoration for our mailbox. Right now we have Calvin & Hobbes -




We got this one, of Pepe le Pew, ready to start when our foreign exchange student, Vivian, arrived, just in case she would like to see a project from start to finish.

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credit -

Here’s what we’re trying to do.

We started by showing Viv the image on the computer. Then we showed her a bit of what my husband has to do to create the G-code that transforms the image into something the computer-guided torch can understand. We then cut out the piece from a sheet of metal, using our CNC machine and torch.

My husband is really good now at making a ‘stand’ for the piece that allows us to connect it to the mailbox securely. If the piece needs a bit of stiffening or added support, he welds this on at the same time.

We then wipe down the whole piece with PRE, a chemical that removes anything that will keep primer paint from sticking, such as oil, fingerprints, rust, etc. We paint the whole piece with rust preventing paint.

Then, if needed, we use a light projector so that we can mark the metal with lines that will help us draw the inside of the piece, front and back with magic marker.

We use a laptop computer now with images so that we can refer to the original image to see what to paint what color.

Viv and I painted the back of Pepe le Pew together. We had lots of fun, laughing and talking as we painted. Now that she’s started school, she’s much too busy (and tired), so I’m headed out to the shop now to work on it.

I’ll show you the finished piece when he’s up on the mailbox at the beginning of September!

Have a wonderful day.


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Filed under Being a Host Family, Favorite Things, Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations

Sale on Watermelon!

credit - Bill Lites

credit -
Bill Lites

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Filed under Favorite Things, Funny Signs, Grin for the Day, Humor, Lifting Your Spirits

“But you shoulda….”

source unknown

source unknown

This is DAY THREE of doing 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer as I promised Vivian, our new foreign exchange student daughter, I would do.

I was slower today, trying to deal with some sore muscles, but I felt good that I was there, doing the best I could.

Our elliptical trainer is in the garage, so I’m trying to get my 15 minutes a day in while it’s ONLY 76 degrees (the humidity is 91%).  I was a bit late today, having taken time to cut off the small mimosa trees in our ditches at the bottom of the driveway while waiting for the bus with Viv.

Today I noticed that there was a small wasp’s nest on the inside of the fan that my husband hung on the wall to help keep me in one piece while exercising. I made a mental note to knock it down as soon as I finished.

Suddenly, a wasp was flying around my head and then trying to get into the nest on the fan!

THAT really got my heart rate up!!!

I managed to get off the elliptical without falling on my head, grabbed a fly swatter and hit the wasp as it was trying to land on the fan. I got it! I stomped on it, finishing its demise, then hit the fan to knock the nest down, stomping on that, too.

I got back up on the trainer and finished my 15 minutes, but I kept my eyes open, looking for more wasps.

As I finished, another one showed up. I dispatched it, as well, and then came inside, breathing hard. I told my husband, telling him that even though I was walking more slowly today, I thought I should get points for killing the wasps and knocking down the nest.

He replied, “That’s good, but you shoulda sprayed the fan with bug killer.”


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Filed under Exercise, Quality of Life, The Joys of Geezerhood

New Creative Artworks Blog Header August 19, 2014



Printed-Note-Cards-Set-of-8 – ID # 11114 by Ines Miller

Each note card includes a delicate vellum-parchment paper lining for a beautiful presentation. Inside card is left blank for your special message. Size is approx. 4.25″ x 5 .5″. Please indicate your choice of “Cocker Spaniel” or “Friends – Plumeria” in the special comments section of the order form. Please allow approximately one week for delivery.

See all the work of Ines Miller on Creative Artworks HERE

  • Personalized Dog Signs
  • Teddy Bear & Candy Cane Sign
  • Key or Leach Holder Rack
  • Printed Note Cards
  • Ornaments
  • People & Pet Portraits
  • Prints of Original Artwork
  • Stained Glass and Leaded Glass Panel
  • Pet Portrait Hand-Painted Purse




GIFT BOX – “Sunflower with Gold Butterfly” – ID # 16125 by Charlene Bodero

Handmade gift box that can be used for any occasion. 4-1/4″ in circumference, 1-1/4″ tall. Made of heavy cardboard. Stunning sunflower with pink and white flowers surrounding it are the setting for a frosted white and gold accented sparkly butterfly! A beautiful presentation for a gift any time of the year! Please allow one week for delivery.

See all the work of Charlene Bodero HERE

  • Handcrafted Gift Boxes
  • “Dreams” Journal
  • All Occasion – Handmade Greeting Cards
  • Bottle Cap Pins
  • Felt Handmade Pins
  • Ornaments & Stocking Stuffers
  • Dress Tube Party Favors
  • Novelty Holiday Purses and Pocketbooks




20 CARDS – “A New Day” – Signature Note Cards – ID # 15498 by DiVoran Lites

For the many people who would like to have one note card design to call their own – and plenty of them – DiVoran Lites has created a line of note cards called, “Signature Cards!” The size, 4.25″ x 5″, is just right for an invitation, a thank you, or a quick note. You will receive 20 note cards printed in this design with envelopes included. Don’t miss the listings for 50 cards and 100 cards for added savings! “Signature Cards!” What a great idea!

See all of DiVoran Lites’ work on Creative Artworks HERE

  • Signature Note Cards from Original Artwork in packages of 20, 50, and 100
  • Original Paintings – watercolors and “Bling Blots” at super-affordable prices

Ines Miller, Charlene Bodero, DiVoran Lites – three of the talented artists on Creative Artworks! Come visit and find something wonderful for yourself, or gifts for family, friends, and co-workers.

CREATIVE ARTWORKS – Handcrafted – Hand-Painted – Unique -AHHHH!

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Filed under Creative Artworks Headers, Decorating Ideas, Holiday Gift Ideas, Holiday Goodies, Making Your Life Easier

Some photos need no captions – Take 5


Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran

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Filed under Favorite Photographs, Lifting Your Spirits, Some Photos Need No Captions

Waiting for the School Bus

Today was the first time in YEARS I’ve waited for a school bus. Since this is the first day that our foreign exchange student daughter, Viv, would take the bus to school, I drove her down to the bottom of the driveway and waited with her. We thought it would pick her up around 7 am, but we weren’t sure.

As we waited, we visited about the people Viv has been meeting at school, her first impression of her teachers, if the lunch she packed was okay yesterday, etc.

One bus came from the east at 7:04. It didn’t stop! We looked at each other, and then decided not to worry yet. At 7:06 another bus was coming – this one from the west. It DID stop. It has the number 14 on it and a picture of an octopus, and “Greenwood Schools” on the side. Viv got in, both she and the lady bus driver waved, and they were gone.

I sat there a minute, remembering my own time of riding a bus. All ages rode that bus, and I remember that we – secretly I hope – had labeled one high school aged girl who was picked up at a cemetery each day “Connie Cow.” The bus driver seemed a gazillion years old. He loved his job and never minded if we were loud. We would come to a steep hill and he would yell, “Fast or slow?” We would always answer, “FAST!!!!!!!!!” He would roar down the hill as we squealed in delight, hands in the air. (I now think that he was probably going to retire after that year and so didn’t care if he was reported or not to the school.) We loved him.

When our son was taking the bus to school many years ago, he was about 8. He insisted on wearing a black chauffeur’s type hat. All the kids around here either wore no hat, cowboy hats, or baseball hats with the brim turned any way but in front. Our son paid for his determination almost every day. There was a big, mean high school boy who rode the bus. No matter where my son sat, the boy would make someone else get up so he could sit behind our son. He would then hit him in the head so his hat sailed off onto the floor.

I got really angry when my son told me about it. I complained to the bus driver, who held his hands up, saying he couldn’t do anything. I complained to his teachers and the principal, who basically shrugged and said, ‘boys will be boys.’ I finally got permission to be seated in the bus when the kids were being taken home from school one day. I saw my son get on the bus. I waved him away and he sat toward the front of the bus behind the driver. I saw the big kid get on, saunter down the aisle and take a seat behind my son. He looked at me before he sat down, but was unimpressed. When the bus started moving, I quietly moved up a few seats. The other students figured out what was going on and moved so that I could get right behind the big kid!  When he raised his hand to hit my son, I grabbed his hand. He turned, angry and ready to hit whoever was stopping him and his mouth dropped open when he saw who held his hand. We glared at each other for a minute or two. Then he decided it was funny. He stopped hitting my son, and put his fingers to the side of his head in a sort of salute whenever we would see each other after that.

I’ll wait with Viv each morning this week to get a good average on when the bus will come so she doesn’t have to wait down there a long time.

When I increase my daily steps to 10,000 and am able to do the 15 minutes or so of the elliptical trainer in the morning without breathing hard and needing to rest awhile, I’ll start meeting her after school at the bottom of the driveway and will try to walk up the driveway with her….


Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes, Exercise, Memories

Keeping promises!

This is a pedometer like I’m carrying, but the total shown is NOT mine. I WISH, but not so. I promised my son I would walk more. Yesterday I had my best total so far – 9,266 steps! It looks like with work, I MAY be able to get to the 10,000 mark! I’m still walking today, so I’ll share my total in another post.

My second promise was to Viv, our foreign exchange student daughter – that I would get on the elliptical trainer after I took her to school this morning.

source unknown

source unknown

I did 15 minutes, which was 1-3/4 laps, almost half a mile. I have to tell you it felt that I was on there forever. Part of the problem was that my MP3 Player needed to be charged. I’ll be able to listen to some of my favorite music tomorrow, so that will help a lot.

I feel good that my word was good today. My motivation is strong to do this again tomorrow.

Have a wonderful evening!

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, DIET!, Exercise, Healthy Eating, Quality of Life

First Day of School

Everyone gets butterflies the first day of school. Now, imagine yourself in a foreign country, still a bit ‘new’ to your new family, going to the first day of school that will be conducted totally in a foreign language!

This is what 13 courageous students did in Greenwood, Arkansas today!

Credit - Mona Derks Jones

Credit -
Mona Derks Jones

All the students apparently had a good first day of school. In this photo by Mona Derks Jones, you can see 10 of the 13 students.  Each was asked to speak in front of the rest of the school – frightening, yes – but a good way to introduce them to the rest of the school so that the other students can reach out to these students during the school year.

I had the chance to meet many of these fine young men and women at a party at the local coordinator’s home on Saturday. I introduced myself to a table of girls and all were very nice. Our daughter for the year, Vivian, is from Germany. She said the first day was “Good, but tiring.” She ate something when we got home and then took a nap to regroup.

I would imagine this week will be difficult for these students, but I hope that they will feel more and more comfortable each day. Hopefully, the kids at Greenwood High School will absorb these good people into the group and they’ll all enjoy learning about each other.

Today was unusual, in that we had quite a thunderstorm just as school was letting out. Lots of lightning, really dark sky, and impressive winds whipping around. Things are finally beginning to lighten up now.  I picked Viv up at school for the first day, but a lot of the students were trying to find the proper bus to take them home. It’s a good thing none of us is water-soluble! Tomorrow Viv will join the bus riding group. :0)

There is already a football opening event and our daughter has been invited to go with another student.  I couldn’t be happier for her.

May all the exchange students have the happiest, most exciting year ever!

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Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes, Opportunities!, Our Diverse Culture, Quality of Life

A wonderful, tiring day

Today Viv and I shopped ’til “I” dropped. We went to ALL the ‘good’ stores in the mall for teen-aged stuff, plus Bed, Bath & Body, plus got ice cream – my first ever chocolate with cherries blizzard.

Yesterday we realized that much of Viv’s clothing was not acceptable at school. The coordinators of the foreign exchange program made a big deal of it at the party yesterday, so today we shopped, determined to find things that met the code but weren’t ‘awful.’ We did a good job of it!

We came home with ‘jeggings’ a cross between jeans and leggings, pretty blouses, a dress (this wouldn’t mean the code but was so pretty Viv HAD to have it). We then stopped at Walgreens for other items and finally came home, 4-1/2 hours later. Viv went up to put her new things away and I crawled under a throw in my recliner and zzzz’d out for an hour before getting back up to fix dinner.

Lunch for tomorrow was a surprise. Viv made a tossed salad sandwich with Ranch Dressing, chose mandarin oranges and  a box of raisins. She’ll also take a bottle of water.

We’re up at 6 and out the door at 7 tomorrow. I’m driving her and picking her up the first day.

I have no idea if we’ll repeat the shopping tomorrow afternoon or not, but she met her teachers, visited her classes and got lists of needed school supplies that we’ve already purchased. We’ll see if we need to add to that.

In my promise to my son, I walked 9029 steps today.

I start my promise to Viv tomorrow – when I get home from taking her to school, I’m trying for 15 minutes on the elliptical trainer…

Hope you had a happy day, too!


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Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes, Family, Opportunities!, Our Diverse Culture, Quality of Life

Old life ——> New Life!

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credit -

Today is the last day of our ‘old life.’  (It is wonderful in many, many ways, and I’ll miss it for the next 10 months.)  Our ‘new life,’ is MUCH richer, though, as the host family of a teen-aged girl from Germany, who is our host daughter until some time in June of 2015.

We have thrown our old life into the air to embrace our new one, filled with gathering school supplies, back packs, clothes, etc. to start school tomorrow, orientation at the high school, foreign exchange student party at the home of the local coordinator, and first day of school tomorrow. I’ll drive Vivian the first day, and I’ll wait with her at the bottom of the driveway for the school bus tomorrow.

We’ll enjoy sleeping late on the weekends now, rather than EVERY day. Most days we’ll be up at 6 am, stumbling around half asleep, trying to get functional asap. Tonight we’ll pack a lunch, check backpack for supplies, figure out clothes for the first day, etc.

We discovered that the dress code for the school is much more conservative than we had appreciated, so today we’re on the hunt for clothing that will meet the dress requirement. Our new daughter’s clothes are very nice, but show a bit more skin than the school likes. “T-Shirt and Jeans” will be the uniform of the week for the rest of her time here, or leggings with very long tops.  We’ll get some things today that will allow her time to see what the other girls are wearing the first week of school. Then we’ll shop again.

We also didn’t find out until Vivian was here that another shot is required for the school. We have filled out a new patient form at our doctor’s office. Hopefully, this will be accepted by our doctor and she can get the initial visit and shot locally asap.

The coming week is the beginning of a school year filled with opportunities and fun for the three of us. Along with the first week of school, there is a county fair in Greenwood. We’ll choose an evening and happily attend. :0)

Our school year will be filled with school and school events, homework, hearing about what happened each day at school, helping Vivian solve any problems, and concentrating on helping her have the best school year ever!

We’ve decided that it’s definitely a good thing to play fruit-basket-upset with your life every now and then. You get a fresh perspective, a whole new set of challenges, a new idea of ‘what’s important,’ and – best of all – the chance to share your lives with a wonderful teenager from another country with whom you can share hugs, joy, and laughter on a daily basis!


Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes, Family

Playing with your food – Take 70


credit – krystyn chong via ariaa jaeger




credit – Bill Lites



credit – Bill Lites

I love these ideas. However, I’m afraid if my mom had been creative like this, it would have backfired. I wouldn’t have wanted to ‘spoil’ the art!


Filed under Childlike Fun, Creativity, DIET!, Favorite Photographs, Healthy Eating

As soon as I saw you

Credit - A.A. Milne_Saturday Designs

Credit -
A.A. Milne_Saturday Designs

As I stood waiting in the airport for Vivian, our foreign exchange student from Germany, to arrive, I was filled with emotions: excitement, anticipation, and yes – some anxiety. Signing up to be the parents of a stranger – especially a teenager – from a foreign country for 10 months is a big decision – a life-changing one.

It’s essentially a roll of the dice. Either you get someone you can live with or you don’t. Even if you like them, it might not work both ways. The student might decide they’ve made a huge mistake and want to go home. He or she might be happy and YOU decide you’ve bitten off more than you can chew…

Happily, we won the lottery in foreign exchange students with Vivian. I hope the other host families feel the same way.

Starting August 7th, our lives have been thrown up in the air, not to return to what is ‘normal’ for us until sometime in June 2015.

We couldn’t be happier. Vivian is a beautiful young woman. She’s smart, speaks English amazingly well, and is easy to live with. She has a wonderful attitude of being willing to help with anything we’re doing. That’s really good – and quite helpful – since one thing we were doing together was repairing our barbed wire fence in horrible heat!

The biggest surprise is how much we laugh together. We TEASE and joke with each other – something I really didn’t expect to enjoy this soon, if at all.

I’m enjoying cooking with Vivian – though neither of us particularly likes to cook. :0)  We’re teaching each other new techniques, ideas, opinions. Since we put up the basketball goal, we’re enjoying shooting baskets. We’ve been to the library, stores, restaurants, parks, and more, and we look forward to things we don’t usually do, such as go to the Sebastian County Fair next week. We learn things from each other even while changing the sheets on her bed!

The minute I saw Vivian in the airport, I knew our lives would be changed for the better. And it’s only just begun….



Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes, Family, It's a Wonderful World!, Our Diverse Culture, Quality of Life

Foreign Exchange Student Party

We attended a party at the home of the local foreign exchange student coordinator this afternoon. I met many of the students, plus some host parents. The coordinator gave us some guidelines as host families and assured us that we could call her any time we had a question. This gives all of us a lot of confidence about the coming year.

The home of the coordinator is beautiful. There is a swimming pool at the back of the house where we gathered, ate some snack food, drank cool drinks and visited. Small children enjoyed the pool while the rest us tried to stay as cool as possible in the 90+ degree heat – no small feat.

I met several of the girl exchange students and saw several of the boys. We were told that it was THOUGHT we would have 7 exchange students at Greenwood High School this year. It actually turns out we’ll have 13!

I think we may be the only first-time host parents this year. We met a lot of really nice people, all excited about a year being host parents. I’m delighted that the kids had time to get to know one another at least a bit before school starts this coming Monday.

I’m using the Facebook page that the local coordinator set up to introduce you to a few of our students -

Baileigh_New Zealand

Baileigh_New Zealand

“Hi everyone! My name is baileigh, I’m 17 years old and I’m from New Zealand. Like all of you guys seem to be, I am quite sporty also, although the sport I play is netball, and while it is big in New Zealand and Australia, it’s not so big in America. Hopefully that means I can give another sport a go  i am also really interested in the arts, in particular drama! It is one of my biggest passions. During this experience, even though it will only last 5 months, I am hoping to meet a lot of new people and just be exposed to a new culture with which I hope to bring back to my country.”




“Hi I’m Giovanni and I am from Italy in a place next to the mountains. I’m 16 and I love playing basketball indeed I hope I will play it there. I also like other sports like soccer or climbing but I’d like to try new sports. I will do this experience because I would like to live another life far from home, not only for the distance. —”




“Hello, my name is Marianne, and I am a 16 (soon 17) years old girl from Norway. I like to cuddle with my three polar bear. Just kidding, we don´t have polar bear where I live. But I love horses, and my main hobby is to ride. I am a busy girl, because I have up to four working days a week at the local pizza bakery, beside horseback riding once a week, school, family and friends. 24 hours is not enough. I am sure that my stay in Greenwood, Arkansas will change my life in many ways, and I am really looking forward to arrive in mid-August. I hope that at the end of my year, I will look back at every thing I hopefully have achieved and that I don´t regret that there were chances I didn´t take. — “




“Hi! My name is Mimmi and I am a 15 year old girl from Sweden. I like to play soccer aswell as doing outside activities like hiking, biking and running. On my sparetime I play a lot of soccer and I hang out with my friends and family. We usually hang out at the mall and just talk. For my exchange year in Greenwood, I am really looking forward to get to know a lot of new people, aswell as being a part of a new culture and country, also I hope to make a lot of unforgettable memories together with everyone in Greenwood. —”





“Hi guys!
I’m Pyrt and I’m 17 years old.
I come from Finland and I cant wait to meet you all
I am a hudge sport fan and I play basketball here, as well as in Greenwood. I’m also a big soccer fan! I am waiting to experience the American culture and school system and off course I want to meet new people from different countries. Again, I am really looking forward to meet you all when the school starts! —”




“Hello!! My name is Santi and I’m from Barcelona (spain). I’m 16 years old and I’m going to do 11th grade. I like all sports, specially soccer and I want to play in Greenwood to. I want to learn all the things of the american culture and be another american boy. Probably I do some mistakes, sorry but my English is not very well. —”




“Hi everyone
My name is Vivian, I’m 15 years old and I’m from Germany. I just graduated school here, so I have a lot of free time. I love to hang out with friends, take pictures, hear music, something like that.

For my exchange year I’m looking forward to meet new people with another cultural backround, make new friends and have a lot of fun in school, at sports in the afternoon and with my host family. And of course: to feel the american school-spirit. And, as mimmi said, make some memories I’ll never forget in my life and have a lot of fun in Greenwood.”


Isn’t this a wonderful group of young men and young women? I admire their courage in coming to a foreign country to live with a family they’ve never met, go to a strange school, all in a different language and culture. I haven’t had the opportunity to meet all of the exchange students yet. We hope that our Vivian will invite them, plus other new friends, to our house soon.

May these brave people have a wonderful experience in Greenwood, Arkansas this school year. I hope they meet a lot of people they’ll remember the rest of their lives.

Now we have begun!



Filed under Arkansas, Being a Host Family, Greenwood, Opportunities!, Quality of Life

Watch out!

My favorite part is the ‘also….’

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Filed under Funny Signs, Grin for the Day, Humor

Some photos need no captions – Take 4


Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran

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Filed under Creativity, Favorite Photographs, Some Photos Need No Captions

A beautiful exchange




After our new ‘daughter’ arrived (our 15-year-old German foreign exchange student, Vivian), my husband asked her if she would like to have a basketball goal so that she could practice at our home. (She has basketball as the last class each day at the school.) She said, “Yes,” so we bought a goal and a basketball, and my husband worked a couple of days designing a sturdy way to attach everything to the roof.

Yesterday, when the sun went down a bit, we got out two ladders and got started putting the goal up. It took us about 2-1/2 hours with my husband doing most of the work and Vivian and I watching and helping when we could, but we finally got it up with enough light left to throw a few baskets.  It seems to be really sturdy, and we measured to be sure the measurement from the rim of the basket to the ground is 10 feet.

I mainly scrambled around chasing the ball as I threw and missed, but I DID manage to make a few baskets. Vivian threw and made many more than I did, but wasn’t perfect – a nice thing as far as I was concerned. My husband threw and missed 3 baskets. :0) We’re all ready to have some fun with this, plus get some really good exercise.

Vivian hugged my husband and me for the goal. Today she said a special ‘thank you,’ baking an apple pie from scratch. We got all the ingredients when we were out and Viv and I worked about two hours to get the pie into the oven. Now it’s cooling and it looks good. She baked it because she knows my husband LOVES pie. She doesn’t enjoy cooking, but helps me every day with the food preparation and we laughed about neither of us knowing much about making pies while we prepared it, listening to German pop music on her computer -and then her phone  – while we worked.




It doesn’t matter if the pie is wonderful or not. The fact that she figured out a wonderful way to thank my husband and cared enough to work like this to make it is more thanks than we would ever need.

The exchange is a beautiful start to what we hope will be a really fun year for Vivian.

(As I type my husband put “Grand Theft Auto” on the PlayStation 3 in the living room. My husband just came in and said, “She has real talent. She just rammed a police car! :0) )

We have a good friend coming in a few minutes and then it’s steaks on the grill and baked potatoes this evening.

Hope your day is at least HALF as good as ours has been!


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Filed under Being a Host Family, Family, Quality of Life

Playing with your food – Take 69


credit – Bill Lites

Okay. The assignment is “cut up a watermelon. “I” respond with several bowls full of bite-sized pieces. My husband cuts it up into wedges on a plate with a fork. THESE creative folks make a work of art. Even if I would think of doing this, I have NO clue as to how it is done. This takes expertise and lots of practice, plus patience. Isn’t it incredible?



credit – Bill Lites


Another wonderful entry in the ‘cut up a watermelon’ contest. A fantastic under water ocean scene – even with the tail of the fish outside the boundaries of the melon!




credit – Bill Lites

I would STILL enjoy eating my veggies more if it were served as creatively as this! What a happy looking train!!




credit – Bill Lites

Awwwww! Who would think of using a watermelon as a sweet canvas for this kitty… I love it.

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Filed under Arts and Crafts - Teaching, Challenges, Childlike Fun, Creativity, DIET!, Favorite Pictures, Healthy Eating, I'm Glad I Found...., Quality of Life


I promised our son that I would carry a pedometer and TRY to start walking more. A reasonable number of steps per day is approximately 10,000, according to SOMEONE.

MY normal is about 1500. I know. Sedentary lifestyle…

I really HAVE been trying, and I’m up to about 6 or 7,000 steps each day the past week or so. This is really a substantial change for me. I wish I could say I feel better for it, have lost a gazillion pounds, or something wonderful like that, but no such luck. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to go back on my promise to our son. I will try to get to the 10,000 a day if I don’t kick the bucket first. :0)

Since we were lucky enough to ‘win the lottery’ with our foreign exchange student daughter, Vivian, I’ve now made ANOTHER promise – she starts school this Monday. I’m driving her the first day. As soon as I get home from that, I’m getting on the elliptical trainer. I’ll try for 15 minutes. I’m hoping that I can keep this up. We’re now getting up essentially in the middle of the night – at 6:00 a.m., and it IS cooler then. Our elliptical trainer is in the garage, and heat and cold are large factors in my exercising. I have promised Vivian that I’ll do 15 minutes a day during the school week.

I’ve also made a third promise – this one to myself.  Starting Monday, as soon as I finish the elliptical trainer, I’m going to get started cleaning up my art room once again.

This is a huge project. It was already stuffed with wonderful things. I added another 100% when I cleaned most of my art stuff out of what would become Vivian’s room. I just brought stacks in and stashed them wherever I could find a spot. The room is truly terrible and fits the description of ‘obstacle course’ above. I showed it to Vivian. I cleaned the rest of the house before she arrived because I wanted her to learn what a terrible housekeeper I am gradually, rather than being shocked on arrival. In the interest of truth, however, I showed her the room and made the promise to myself that I would work each day, doing a bit at a time until it’s back to reasonable. The only time it’s NEAT is if I’m not creating anything…

Other promises I’ve made to myself  ‘down the road,’ – assuming that I can keep the three promises above – include getting on the Wii Fit and doing stretching exercises on alternate days during the school week. That’s a lot of assuming, but goals are good.

One promise is being kept so far. Monday starts another chapter.

Please wish me luck?

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, DIET!, Exercise, Healthy Eating, Opportunities!, Quality of Life

Some photos need no captions – Take 3

Credit - Carolyn Cochran

Credit -
Carolyn Cochran


Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran

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Almost ready!

We’ve had a wonderful week and are almost ready for Vivian to start school. The high school has participated in the foreign exchange student program for several years now. They’ve learned that it’s best to put all exchange students into the school as juniors. We have 7 exchange students at the school this year.

There was an orientation at the school on the 11th where the all the high school kids met in the Performing Arts Center to hear the principal speak and then they received their class schedules. They went around to their classes, met their teachers, received the list of supplies they needed to get, etc. This took about 3 hours, and then a lot of them went to Geno’s Pizza By the Slice in Greenwood. This was a great chance for Vivian to meet more people and actually get to know them a bit outside of school.

Saturday we’re invited to a party at the home of the local coordinator of the foreign exchange students. The kids will get to know each other better, the host parents will get a chance to meet, sign paperwork, ask questions, etc. We’ll have a tour of the school, as well. We’re looking forward to meeting the other exchange students. I’m eager to find someone who has been a host parent before so I can do the best job possible with our wonderful new daughter.

Today is exchanging euros for U.S. money and tying up some loose ends. Mostly we can relax.

We got a basketball goal and basketball for Viv yesterday. My husband is welding together a support structure so we can install the backboard on the roof. We’re painting the metal today and hope to have the goal up by the weekend so that Viv can practice – since basketball is her last class of the day, plus we’re looking forward to geezer basketball. :0)

The only thing we don’t like about the host family experience so far is getting up at 6:00 in the morning. I much prefer seeing sunsets to sunrises. This is a good character-building exercise, though, and we now look forward to the weekend, where we can all sleep in!

We’ve played fruit-basket-upset with our former lives and are very happy for it!



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An Apple a Day…

We’re trying to get ready for school around here, with orientation a couple of nights ago at the school, trying to find school supplies, planners, etc. We’re making good progress and are making another run today.

Vivian told me that she needed to find a charger for her Apple laptop, since the one she had didn’t seem to be working. I told her that we would have my husband look at it when we got home and see what we needed to do.

He looked at the adapter and worked with it a bit in our office. He decided he needed more tools, so we all went out to the shop. Vivian and I sat and watched as he patiently looked hard at the adapter to figure out what needed to be done. He modified one of the parts over and over again, measuring with a caliper and using an air-powered file and other tools until two parts finally fit together as they were supposed to. He checked it with the meter to see if power was going through it and then we went back to the house for the ultimate test – plugging it into the Mac. It worked like a charm! Hooray!!!

Today we look for a backpack for school, plus a wallet, since U.S. paper money is much larger than Euros. They are trying to get caught in the zipper of her present wallet.

Getting Vivian ready for school has been a joy so far. The orientation she attended allowed her to start making friends, meet her teachers, get a list of supplies needed for each class, meet some of the other foreign exchange students who will be attending the school with her, plus go out for pizza afterwards with the exchange student coordinator’s daughters and some other friends.

We’ll be attending a special foreign exchange student get-together at the coordinator’s home on Saturday, and then the first day of school is Monday.

This week we’ve been getting up at 6:00 a.m. to try to get used to the new schedule. We’re a bit bleary-eyed, but we’re on our hind legs and reasonably functional, although I wonder if we’re breaking any laws by operating our bodies without working brains…

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Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes, Family, It's a Wonderful World!, Quality of Life

Nice Garden Harvest!



Look at this!  Our new daughter, Vivian, from Germany and I went out to the garden to see if anything was interesting yesterday.

We not only found some nice tomatoes, but also found these two green bell peppers! They’re small, but they’re the first I’ve ever grown. I’m beyond excited!!!!

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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Childlike Fun, DIET!, Encouragement, Favorite Things, Gardening, Quality of Life, The Joys of Geezerhood

Tribute to Robin Williams

Our son sent me an email, plus a link this morning.

Our son said,

"He was not exactly on my humor wavelength. But I always recognized him
as a giant in that field. It's very sad for me to consider that he was
one of the few people to make the world better in a major way, but
struggled with a pain so horrible and relentless that even being
universally loved and admired wasn't enough to make it alright. :( "


I replied -
He made me laugh like few others and was one
of my all-time favorites. We have "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Good Morning,
Vietnam," "Patch Adams," "Dead Poet's Society," and "Good Will Hunting"
here. He could take a subject and instantly start a monologue that made
me hurt I laughed so much. He made me hold my breath, trying not to
laugh so I wouldn't miss the next things he said.

Like another favorite, Jonathan Winters, I think he was
manic-depressive, though they aren't labeling either one as such. They
were either very high on life or at the depths of depression and fought
with alcoholism. It's very sad that such vibrant, full-of-life people so
often take their own lives or die of drug overdoses, like Philip Seymour
Hoffman. I guess the lesson we learn is to enjoy people fully for as
long as we can and then hold them in our hearts when they're gone.

I especially loved watching the very careful way he treated children.
Truly sad. At least his family will know how much people loved him. That would be a little comfort in the long run.

Then our son supplied this link, and Norm MacDonald was spot on -

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Creativity, Favorite People, Humor, Quality of Life

Some Photos Need No Captions – Take 2

credit - Carolyn Cochran

credit -
Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran




Credit – Carolyn Cochran

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Happiness is a work in progress

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credit -

And YOU are responsible for that happiness.

Things will happen around you, but it’s what is inside you that matters.

YOUR REACTION to each thing that happens determines how you feel.

If you’re not happy, look inside yourself. Assess your feelings. Change things for the better.

Each day is a brand new chance to shape your life.

Bad things happen, of course; and things will get you down for a bit, but deep inside there is a strong core that can bring you through it.

What can you do today to change yourself for the better?

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Attitude, Challenges, Changes, Encouragement, Making Your Life Easier, Opinion, Opportunities!, Philosophy, Quality of Life

Okay! Got it!

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Some Photos Need No Captions – Take 1


credit – Carolyn Cochran email


credit – Carolyn Cochran email


credit – Carolyn Cochran email


credit – Carolyn Cochran email

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New Creative Artworks Blog Header 2014/08/11


“Landing Hawk” original pastel painting by Nora Ruth

Nora Ruth specializes in original pastel paintings. She also does some beautiful oil paintings. All will take your breath away.  Custom pastel portraits of pets or people are out of this world.

See all of Nora’s work on Creative Artworks HERE



11×14 Pencil Portrait, Two Subjects, by Kim Burford


Kim Burford is a wizard with a pencil. As you can see here, he can capture the image and personality of his subjects to make portraits people will treasure.

See portrait sizes, number of subjects and pricing here, as well as pet and home portraits!



“Sailboats at Night” 11×14 print by Derek McCrea

Derek McCrea does beautiful watercolors, pen and ink, landscapes, seascapes, still life, and more! He offers very affordable prints so that you can buy several in the same theme, frame them, and put them on a wall in your home or office to create a fabulous focal point! Great as gifts, too!

See all of Derek McCrea’s work on Creative Artworks HERE

I love creating blog headers when I can choose from the work of such talented people. I hope you’ll visit us at Creative Artworks and find something wonderful.

CREATIVE ARTWORKS – Handcrafted – Hand-Painted – Unique -AHHHH!

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Good morning!

I can’t tell you how much we’re enjoying our ‘new lives’ as host parents of Vivian, from Velbert, Germany. She arrived Thursday afternoon, and we’ve had a blast ever since.

This morning was the first day of getting up at 6:00 a.m. to see if we could get ready, eat breakfast, and be down at the bottom of the driveway for the school bus by 7:00. We would have made it, but Vivian decided that she would start getting up at 5:45 to give herself just a bit more time.


My husband and I are treating getting up in the middle of the night as a character-building exercise. Part of the joy of retirement is being able to get up whenever you’re ready, not having to leap up and get to work as we have all our lives. Though I’m typing with bleary vision, gulping coffee to try to wake up, I can tell you that it’s a small price to pay for the joy of being Vivian’s parents for 10 months. We’re already feeling like a family.

Vivian’s great about helping us with things, and it’s fun to cook together, show her things, talk, and laugh.

This morning we had a lesson in the value (or lack of value) of our U.S. coins. I loaned her my son’s piggy bank to keep her extra coins until it’s full. Then we’ll take them to the bank to be exchanged for paper money.

Tonight Vivian has an orientation meeting at the school. The local coordinator’s daughters will go with Vivian, since ‘parents don’t attend this meeting.’ I have no idea what she’ll learn from the meeting, but she’ll be able to start making friends – always a good thing.

I can see a nap in my future this afternoon. The sunrise was pretty, but I was having to concentrate on cutting up a nectarine to put on our cereal, making coffee, feeding pets, etc. I definitely prefer the sunSET, but will keep options open for now.

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Filed under Being a Host Family, Challenges, Changes

The “Space Chicken” Lives Again!


Vivian helped me refurbish my poor ‘peacock’ yard art piece the other day. (My husband calls him the “Space Chicken.”) The poor thing had lost all his beads, so his eyes were big, empty washers with glue around the inside edge where the bead had fallen off. We’ve been collected the beads from the river rocks for about a year now, but I decided that we really needed to pull the rest of the beads off, grind off the glue and fix him up again, using a glue we hope won’t lose its grip in the sun, wind, rain, etc.

We decided on blue and yellow beads to adorn his chest, and then dark blue beads on his long feathers and clear white ones for the shorter feathers.  We repainted the washers white, and then changed his eyes from large beads to googly eyes.




Here he’s back in place on the river rock at the front of the house, just outside the garage door. His friend, the ‘box turtle’ stands nearby and the hugely heavy mailbox made by my husband’s father – and brought here in a truck – stands beside the box turtle.

Vivian and I had a good time making the peacock (or space chicken) look happy and proud again.

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Filed under Arts and Crafts - Teaching, Being a Host Family, Lewis Art