Thursday, August 26, 2010

Japan Meets America

This last week we had the opportunity to host a young Japanese student in our home. Her name is Riho. She's 14 years old, and comes from Yaostu, Japan. She and 19 other students her age toured New York City for a couple of days, then came to stay with host families here in Woodbridge. On Saturday, Natalie and I took her shopping at Tyson's corner. When we got home, I asked her what she'd like to do, and she said, "play piano". I found some music on her level, and she kept busy playing for over and hour. Skip cooked her a steak dinner in the evening. On Sunday, after going to church with us, we went with some of the other students and host families to the temple visitor's center. They saw "Testaments" in Japanese, and had their questions answered by a missionary assigned to the D.C. North mission, who happens to be Japanese. They toured in D.C. on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, they toured a typical? American high school - Gar-Field. They had time to shop at Potomac Mills, then went to Occoquan for a different kind of shopping. After that, we dropped the students off at our chapel, where they decorated and practiced for a dinner/program in the evening. At 6:00 all the students and host families had a pizza party. After eating, they taught us some Origami, played a Japanese game, and performed a dance for us. Riho was very sweet and eager to learn about and experience life in our home. Her English was pretty good, and we tried hard to learn about her life as well. We learned some of her favorite foods are pizza, spaghetti, and chocolate. She loved Skip's special popcorn too - sweetened with a little corn syrup. This morning before she left, I made her waffles. That was a hit as well. For a going away gift, Natalie made her a CD of American music. I gave her a piano book and some other small gifts for her family. It's nice now that we have a pen pal in Japan. I'm sure we'll continue to keep in touch with her.

Temple visitor's center, Riho on the right

Pizza party!

Teaching Origami:

Trying Origami:

Finished Origami:

Riho announcing the dance:

A scene from the dance, Riho in the middle:

PIctures with the family:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It seems like I've been on the road forever! I'm finally back after about three and a half weeks. So here's what the Bairds have been up to during the last month and a half:

PART ONE - I tagged along with my Mom and Dad, driving across the country from Virginia to Idaho. We had a fun stop in historic Nauvoo, Illinois, where we took in the pageant and a couple of other shows, in addition to attending a temple session there.

Mom and Dad by the Mississippi River:

We ended our cross country trip in Idaho, stopping in Twin Falls for a few days to get ready for our Condie family camping weekend. Besides shopping, we were able to spend some time visiting with Mom and Dad's former mission president and his wife, who are soon to be the new Twin Falls temple president and matron. We also got to go to the Twin Falls temple.

Twin Falls' namesake:

Twin Falls temple:

PART TWO - The Condie Family Reunion

We camped at the incomparable Biscuit Canyon campground and pavilion, with deluxe outhouse and shower. Seven of my brothers and sisters were able to come. After a day of helping get camp set up, I was reunited with Skip and Natalie, who had flown into Utah and spent a couple of days there before renting a 15 passenger van to drive Laura's family, and camping gear up to Idaho. Beth and Mike came in their truck and brought Kara and Andy with them.

Here's the Baird family minus Ryan and Dara who were busy in Virginia finishing school and getting ready to move:

Here I am on the top of Monument Peak, the highest point of the MACLAIC property:

View of Carey from the top of Monument Peak:

We went to the Carey rodeo:

We visited Craters of the Moon National Park:

We enjoyed being with Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. We ate, played games, hiked, visited, and enjoyed time around the campfire. Some of us got to do some shooting, thanks to Eric and Mike who had brought some serious weaponry with him. The ATVs got a lot of use, and were fun to drive or ride on, but Natalie had a little trouble with some barbed wire, and so one of our adventures was seeing the Carey EMTs who decided we should take her to the emergency room in Ketchum, about an hour away. On Sunday we had a sacrament meeting together before packing up to head back to civilization and further adventures.

PART THREE - Back in Utah, we had lots more family fun. Skip and I stayed with Laura and Kart, and Natalie stayed with Kara. Beth was able to stay a couple more days, even though Mike had to drive back to Vegas. We shared some yummy meals and treats together. Here are Aiden and Emma at Coney's:

Kara and Natalie:

We went to the park one day. Laura and Beth crocheted while I watched the kids on the playground:

Aiden and Emma with their babies:

Here I am with my four beautiful daughters:

With their Dad:

Skip and Natalie flew back to Virgina on Friday, the 30th. Before leaving, Skip was able to take Aiden and Emma fishing. They had a really good time, even though they didn't catch anything. Now they have fishing poles so they can try it again sometime. After Skip and Natalie left, I stayed a few more days to enjoy Laura and family. We went to the zoo one day:

We loved the Hogle zoo! It's not too big, and we were able to see almost all of our favorite animals. We especially liked the baby elephant and the penguins:

The little humans I was with were pretty cute too! They enjoyed their afternoon, and at the end got to ride the merry-go-round. Emma chose to ride a zebra - a logical mount, but Aiden chose to ride a giant Praying Mantis - just a little creepy!:

Before leaving Utah, I got to spend a day with Kara. I helped her move some of her things out of her house into a new apartment, did a little cleaning and shopping with her. On Sunday I went with her to her ward - the largest singles ward I've ever seen! After church we went for a brief visit to the Lincolns - Uncle Ivan, Aunt Luann, Stephanie, Blythe and Amy. It was really good to see them. We were glad we stopped by. After that, we drove down to Springville and had a fabulous meal with Kart's family, the Barnetts. After dinner we got to see his sister Linea's beautiful new house. I had so much fun in Utah, it was hard to leave, but there was one more part to my vacation.

PART FOUR - Las Vegas

I was able to fly from Utah to Las Vegas to see Beth and Mike. I had a fun three days at their little house. I think it looks like they live in an Italian village. Maybe it would look more Italian if there was a Vespa in their driveway instead of a big truck, though:

I had fun helping Beth with some projects. I helped her learn a little more about her sewing machine, and got her started on cross stitching and embroidery. I also loved helping her a little with her flower bed in the backyard. Playing with Roxy, the Rottie pup was fun. It was hilarious wathing Roxy "fly" down the last four steps! Beth's a great cook, and she made some yummy meals, but we enjoyed going out a couple of times as well. I took Beth and Mike out to eat to celebrate their birthdays - late on Mike's and early for Beth's. We all went to the wax museum at the Venetian as well. Unfortunately the pictures I took there got deleted before I could save them. Now I won't be able to prove I played a duet with Stevie Wonder :{

PART FIVE - Home at last in Virginia, the fun hasn't stopped. Skip helped Natalie finish her application for the Aveda Cosmetology school, I helped Ryan and Dara move to Charlottesville, Natalie had a friend come from CA to stay with her, and we got the guest room ready for a Japanese exchange student to stay with us for a few days. More to come......