We said goodbye to Akie today, with tears in my eyes. Juliana called me a sap. I just loved having her with me and sharing this experience together and I miss her already.

It was such a joy to have her stay with our family. We all loved sharing stories and laughter and bonding together. She was absolutely delightful and we all enjoyed her company in different ways.

Our family bonded through this shared experience too. I admired how Juliana was a little mother to Akie, making sure she was happy and entertained and understood. She was patient and kind and loving and unselfish and I loved watching her be the best hostess, even giving up her room for her.

Charlie made welcome signs and presented her with a handmade goodbye card that he translated into Japanese and English, all on his own. He played kendamas and war with her and loved having her with us.

Christian always stopped by her room when he came home, greeting her and asking about her day. He joined us when he could and was warm and welcoming when he was busy.

Jeff had fun translating words into English, Dutch, German and Japanese, seeing the patterns and making connections. He was there to greet her when she arrived, took her to see San Francisco, the Redwoods and Santa Cruz, and was there to say goodbye at the end too.

We all had a special connection with her and for this I am grateful. I loved how she enjoyed small bowls of soup, rice with sprinkled toppings, and long bath rituals. She was polite, kind, friendly, curious, warm and genuinely happy. When she left, I asked if I could hug her and she reached out to give me a hug with a smile. I loved her!

Our family shared an awesome experience and shared our life with a stranger who became like a daughter and sister.

I highly recommend hosting a foreign exchange student. There are so many benefits to both the hosts and the student and it makes the world a little smaller, after all.

Life is good.

Friday Night Rituals

Do you have one? We’ve had several and I just started thinking about this again after having lunch with my BFF this week.

She told me that they celebrate the end of the week as a family every Friday night. They go out for dinner and rent a movie together. I love that they do this, and can imagine them all snuggled on the couch together!! I love dedicated family bonding time in the midst of daily chaos.

Jeff and I used to have a Family Night on Fridays too, although our routine is to not keep to a routine, even though we try.

We started out with pizza and a movie on Fridays when the kids were younger. Then we moved to Boy Scouts with Christian and they met on Friday nights. So our routine changed. This lasted for awhile, until we joined a Parents Night Out co-op with other families from our church on Friday nights. We would drop our kids off for two hours and have a date night, while other nights we would stay with another couple and watch all the kids. This worked for awhile until our kids kind of outgrew the need for sitters.

We spend an incredible amount of time together as a family, so I hadn’t really thought about a dedicated family night until I was planning dinner tonight. For the past three weeks in a row, we’ve been attending a BBQ at our swim club with other friends. The club provides the meat, condiments, and paper and plastic goods. The members bring a side dish to share along with their own drinks, and some members volunteer to run the BBQ and serve everyone. It’s a great setup and I guess this has become our new family routine. I hope it lasts!

TGIF – have a great weekend!!