Can it really be that a week ago already we were celebrating Penny’s birthday? I can’t even believe it! This past week has been full of new experiences for our girl and interesting discussions and just general life.
Penny joined the choir at school as one of her elective classes. She is very much enjoying it, although she says she cannot sing. This is not deterring her, however, from at least auditioning for the special select choir, and I’m proud of her for trying. I’ll be doubly proud if she makes it! However, the choir is a bit intense. Not only does she have to sing, but she has entered the great American enterprise known as fundraising. They sent her home last week with an order form for pies and flower bulbs. I put a status on Facebook and called several family members, who agreed to buy pies, but we did feel Penny needed to sell some pies. She all but begged us not to make her ask our neighbor, but when he came over to get some chairs, I called him into the house and told him Penny had a question for him. She was ready to kill us, but just as sweet as she could be, she said to him, “I am looking for customers to buy my pies.”
I just about died. I thought that was the most adorable way to put it. And apparently so did he, because he bought a pie. She has since sold several more pies, although she finds the whole thing quite strange and she hates doing it. Still, I like the idea that in addition to all the other boundaries she’s pushed on her exchange, she also has to push this one, and it involves communication and persuasion of total strangers. She tried that old “But I don’t know these people” routine with me, but I pointed out that she’s living in an entire country of people she doesn’t know, and what a great way to get to know them!
The pie sales also sparked a personal interest in pie in Penny, who has never eaten a pie. While we were shopping yesterday, she asked if we could make pie, so I agreed and headed for the produce department to pick up apples. But she didn’t want apple pie, she wanted pecan pie. Mmmmm-kay. Firstly, I have never made a pecan pie. Secondly, neither the Chief nor I likes pecan pie. But, if that’s what she wanted, that’s what she’d get (and I got apples anyway!). We went to the baking aisle and I had to ponder what goes into a pecan pie. For some reason, Karo syrup popped into my head, and thankfully, there was a recipe for pecan pie on the back of the Karo syrup container, so we were able to get everything we needed. I did, however, tell Penny that we were using a frozen pie crust. Love her though I do, I was not up for making a homemade crust!
Penny plunged in with both feet and took the lead in pie making. I more or less read directions and held the bowl so she could scoop in the filling. I agreed to try a bite of her pie and so did The Chief. And she had good reason to be proud of it—it came out beautifully, even for a pecan pie!
Penny said she really liked it, although it was very different from anything she’d ever eaten before. I’m happy to hear it, because she has a lot of pie to eat! The Chief and I ate our obligatory pieces of pie and we are done :-)
Penny also decided to help out making dinner yesterday. She informed me that she hates me because I always make such good food and she wants to eat all of it, the entire pan. Yesterday was no exception. We made stuffed shells from a recipe a neighbor gave me. Penny wanted to stuff the shells, as she had never seen jumbo shell pasta before and thought it was a lot of fun. Again, she does not want to use more of anything than she absolutely has to, so I had to tell her to put the entire jar of tomato sauce over the shells, but other than that, she did just fine. (what I was going to do with a quarter jar of tomato sauce, I don’t know!)
I told her that if nothing else, her training to be a housewife will be complete by the time she heads back to Thailand. She says she doesn’t mind learning to be a housewife, so either she really hates school or else I am just a shining example of what a glamorous profession it can be. Either way, I expect she will follow her dream of becoming a psychologist, but she will be an excellent caretaker of her future family either way.
Saturday, Penny had AFS orientation all day. She really enjoyed her time there. There was one other Thai student in attendance, and she was excited for the chance to meet her and also to see all the other students. Apparently, they are all in something of the same boat when it comes to their year so far—they all love their host families but are having a hard time making friends. They got the same advice from their AFS chapter leaders as they do from their host parents: give it time. But it’s hard to be patient. Penny said to me the other day, “I love to talk to my parents, but I want to talk to people my own age.”
To that end, we have encouraged her to list her real name on her Facebook page and to start posting in English, both of which she has done now. I explained that Facebook is an excellent tool for connecting with her peers but that they cannot connect with her if she is only writing in Thai. She said she gives people her name at school to add to their Facebook, but no one ever does. I told her that she should instead ask, “Would you write your name down for me, so I can look you up on Facebook and add you as my friend?” This lets her take an active role in pursuing friendships and finding people to add as friends, rather than sitting back and waiting for things to happen. She was invited in passing to the first home football game for her high school on Friday night this week, so I hope she pursues the invitation and tries to make a go of it. I think she will.
School continues to be an on-and-off struggle. She is in advanced placement English and they are reading Beowulf. Consequently, I am now reading Beowulf and badgering my father with questions about it when Penny and I both get stumped. I enjoy her history and government homework the most. The other day, she came home with an extra credit question to ask her parents who was president when they were a senior in high school and what they remembered about him. I’m sure I was in the minority when I answered the first George Bush, I would guess most of her classmates’ parents would have answered Reagan. And what I remembered was that he hated broccoli and he barfed on the prime minister of Japan (I also remember Dana Carvey’s parody of him saying “No new taxes” and whatnot, but there was limited space!). I hope I get to see her teacher’s comments on her worksheet about those responses after she gets her paper back!
The Chief and I got to spend a small amount of quality time with just Penny this weekend. Saturday, I sent Leah off to my friend Melissa’s for the day and night, which somewhat outraged Penny who didn’t really understand how we could need a break from the “little angel”. I explained that I am exhausted most of the time and that a little time away from us is good for Leah gaining some independence. She was not happy that her “best friend” was gone for the night, but it was fun for me and The Chief to be able to spend time with Penny Saturday evening and not worry about being interrupted or having to keep quiet while we were playing Yahtzee. (The fact that the Chief beat Penny twice in a row by only 3 points did not go down well with her!) It’s strange, but we really do have to divide our time between the two girls, so it’s nice to have time with each one of them individually. Friday, The Chief had taken off work for an appointment that fell through, so we took Leah down to the Children’s Museum of Richmond for the day and it was nice for the three of us to spend some quality time together as well, especially in safe place where Leah could go crazy and run around and make messes.
So here we are another week into our exchange. I hope to take Penny to the Virginia State Fair this week, but the weather is lousy, so I’m not sure we’ll be able to go. Fingers crossed, though! At the end of the week I will buy our plane tickets to Florida so that we are ready to roll to Disney World and my mom’s 60th birthday party at the end of October. It’s hard to imagine that it’s only 3 weeks from now that we’ll be heading down there!!! It’s hard to imagine that my mom is turning 60, that I’m 35, and that Leah is almost 18 months old. Sheesh! TIME FLIES!
Oh, and do you want to be a pie or flower customer? Drop me an email, private message on Facebook, or leave a comment here! :-D SHS Choir and Penny thank you!