On Friday night we were at Joss and Tobes' school presentation night. Toby played in the band (drums for the song Crazy) and orchestra (keyboard for a piratey piece of music), and he got a history award. Joss was announcing the year nine awards (the last person she announced was Toby!), she received a drama award and was announced as House Captain. The whole night was great, I barely even looked at my book.
Twenty five years ago I came back from ten months in Japan, on exchange. While I absolutely loved the experience, I have never been keen on having an exchange student stay with us. I am sad about my lost Japanese and just feel awkward about having a strange teenager in the house, unable to speak English. Joss was so very desperate to have one, though, and Andrew was on her side, so I agreed, and Mao came to stay for ten days.
She was completely delightful! As soon as she arrived, we dropped off her bag and headed in to town to buy Christmas decorations. I have been hoping to have a colour co-ordinated, aesthetically pleasing tree for a number of years, rather than one covered in pre-school produced decorations and Celtic baubles. I went for blue and silver, and though there are some other coloured items that could not be parted with, they are mostly around the back, and it looks great. I think Mao really enjoyed it.
Mao ate everything I cooked, especially loving the pasta. She is the gentlest, sweetest girl, and she and Joss had such a great time together. Joss took her all over town, and to the licorice factory with friends. She was especially easy after school as she just slept! Being in another culture is exhausting!
I pulled out my old yukata (summer kimono) and put it on Bethany. Mao ran to get hers so they were both dressed up.
It had to be done. Mao knew she wasn't going to like it, but she bravely tasted the Vegemite.
The pavlova went down a bit easier! We played Rummikub together and went out to see the Christmas lights. As one of the teachers said, we found out that teenagers everywhere love their mobile phones, eating and sleeping!
Japanese girls also love the Snow app, which gave us all ears, whiskers, huge pupils, pink lips and glowing skin. Sometimes it even gave us paws. There does not seem to be a situation where whiskers and ears aren't required.
|The farewell dinner - no ears for Toby|
I'll confess, there were tears when we said goodbye. Joss, Beth, Mao and I all cried! Mao was just lovely and we miss her. I don't think I'll have another exchange student because this experience was just right and I don't want to mess with it.
Continuing my backwards story, the day we picked Mao up, we had just arrived home from Sydney. We went to see Aladdin; a treat booked by Andrew months ago.
It was a great show, and the kids also enjoyed the train ride (!) and a wander around town. Joss and I shopped for makeup (OK, I read my book in the corner of Sephora) and Toby, Bethany and Andrew went up whatever Centrepoint is called now. We stayed with Mal, Marlee, Alannah and Jordy for two nights, which was really lovely.
|The cousins in age order|
|The cousins in height order|
My super highlight was meeting Jennifer Byrne. I gushed a little bit and told her that when I interview authors for One Book One Wagga, I pretend I'm her. She was very lovely and very tiny.
Before the conference, the big event was our women's Christmas event at church. Over tea, coffee and dessert we made necklaces and heard a Christmas talk. I made three cheesecakes, three blueberry crumble cakes and oversaw the kitchen on the night. I was rather relived that the friends I invited couldn't come, because I wouldn't have seen much of them!
Hmmm, I think that's about it. We can start going forwards again, now. Two weeks to Christmas! I'll just leave you with another couple of photos.....