Saturday, November 28, 2015

¡Bienvenida Marta!

Several weeks ago Annah finally was able to have her birthday gathering with friends to "officially" celebrate her 16th birthday. She wanted to go ice skating and invited three foreign exchange students from her school - Marta from Spain, Nutcha from Thailand, Linda from the Netherlands and one friend, Hannah, from another local high school. 

 Left to right: Marta, Annah, Hannah, Nutcha,and Linda

Soon after arriving they left their shoes and hit the ice!

Marta and Annah

 Nutcha, Linda, Marta, Annah

After skating they came off the ice to have some birthday donuts. First we sang Happy Birthday to Annah and all the other people around us clapped for Annah when we were done! 

While the girls returned their skates Tim and I saw their pile of phones and decided that we would take a selfie with each one and leave it as a surprise on their phones. We weren't sure if they would think we were goofy or cool but we didn't really care! It did make them smile. :)

It was such a fun evening talking to the girls and learning about them and their far away homes. That night Tim and I talked about the possibility of hosting an exchange student sometime, thinking it would be a fun thing to do. What we didn't know several weeks ago was that the opportunity would come to us sooner than we thought.

Just this past Monday I received a text message from Annah asking if we could be the host family for Marta. It was not a good fit for her to be with the host family she was living with and she needed another place to go. Not knowing anything about hosting an exchange student, Annah got a phone number for me for the local coordinator (who Linda and Nutcha live with) and Monday night I called her to find out more. 

My conversation began, "April, my name is Loretta Valenta and you don't know me but my daughter is Annah Valenta and we took Marta and the other exchange girls ice skating a few weeks ago."  

She replied, "I DO know you!" 

"You do?"

She continued, "I used to work at Dr. Huffman's office (that is the orthodontist that we went to for years!) and I remember you and your kids!"  

I was so surprised and said, "You are the blond haired April?"  She said she was! What a small world! 

Over the course of the next 5 days we filled out all the paperwork and applied for background checks and a week ago Marta (and all her things!) came to stay! 

We are thrilled to have her here with us and to be able to offer her a home while she is here. She is a cheerful and spunky 15 year old who makes everyone laugh.

Marta is active in sports and she is currently on the high school bowling team. We attended one of her home games a few days before she arrived at our house.   

This is Linda, Marta and Annah at the bowling alley!
Thanksgiving Day began with Marta wanting some of the cocoa that her mother had sent her from Spain. It was in a gallon size bag (and not closed all the way!) and when Marta went to reach way up to put it back on the shelf in the pantry it came spilling out all over her!!!  We have since given her a shelf that is lower down since she is a little thing! :D

At about 9 o'clock on Thanksgiving night we headed out to let Marta experience Black Friday shopping! We only made it to Target and to the Mall but it turned out to be enough. They were tired and were ready to go home at about 1:00 am. :)

The happy shoppers with their treasures

Thanksgiving this year has brought us something more to be thankful for. Having Marta here is wonderful and we are so happy to have her as part of our family for the remainder of the school year! Annah has never been a big sister, she's always been the little sister. Wait until Abigail gets home from college on Christmas Eve and Marta then has TWO big sisters! :D

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Annah Is Sweet 16!

Say it isn't so.....Annah just turned 16!  
I don't know how it happened but in what seemed like overnight Annah has grown up into a lovely young woman. Oh how I wish people who told me how quickly kids grow up didn't turn out to be right.

Annah hasn't officially had a celebration for her birthday yet but that is coming this weekend. She wants to go ice skating with some friends so that is the plan for Saturday. In the meantime I had fun reminiscing about Annah growing up over the past 16 years.  

Here she is.....  

Annah 6 months old, Abigail 2 1/2 years

She ate blueberry yogurt...sort of.

This is the way we empty the dishwasher...

As Jordan says, "We didn't chose the thug life. The thug life chose us"! Hahaha


This picture speaks volumes of the closeness of these girls that still exists today.

Pony ride....

Real Easter bunnies!

Annah and her dad

Drama Queen :)

Lovely Annah

Love this picture...hahaha

Hahaha...Annah's going to kill me!

Annah with her brother, Tim, on our recent trip to Arizona.

Holding sweet baby August
(This has got to be my most favorite picture of August and his Auntie Annah!)

On Friday Annah went to get her permit. 
Here she is waiting for the place to open....


And pass!

It has been a lot of years from here.... here
But look out world, here she comes!

And many more. :)