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Foreign Exchange Student

Viva La France

Many people know that our adventure into parenthood started with an email from a friend asking if we would be interested in hosting an exchange student from France.  We thought it was just about crazy enough to be fun and about two weeks later we instantly became parents to a teenager.

It was an exciting year, and this past summer we were even more fortunate to be able to take our family adventures overseas and visit Axelle and meet her family for an amazing week in France.  It was an amazing trip and they were amazing hosts. Continue reading “Viva La France”

Stepping Onward

So before Nolin entered our lives, Jenn & I started unconsciously planning for our family.  It started off with a neighborhood stray cat that we began taking care of, moved on to a stranded dog that we took in, then opening our home to an amazing foreign exchange student for a year, and also working with foster children through Stepping Onward an organization that we were part of.

On the weekends, we would meet with several foster children in the Boys Town program and run with them.  While probably only a few of the children enjoyed the actual running part, I think all of them enjoyed the attention and the opportunity to have someone take interest in them.  It was a fun time in our lives and a great learning experience for our future.  As our lives changed and the children and foster parents moved in & out of the program it became a little more difficult to keep the program up.

Stepping Onward’s motto is Every Journey Begins With The First Step…so it was only fitting that Nolin’s first road race  was the fun run at the Candy Cane 5K benefiting our friends at Boys Town. Continue reading “Stepping Onward”

Axelle Is In The Hizzie (pt. three)

We made our way back to Axelle’s home and headed over to her aunt’s new house as she was making dinner for us that night.  Axelle would be heading out to a big birthday event for two of her friends, so this night we would be left on our own to figure out any translation issues…but it would not prove to be a big deal.

It was easy because as I had mentioned earlier, Axelle’s aunt and uncle both spoke pretty good English.  In addition, we met another of Habiba’s sisters and her boyfriend who also spoke very good English.

We got a tour of the new house to discover a funny French obsession with America.  Her aunt had indicated that the upstairs had New York everywhere, and she wasn’t kidding.  In several rooms there were picture scenes from New York, and in their 13-year-old son’s room there was a mural of New York on one wall and his bed spread had different American images including President Obama saying Yes We Can…Jenn and I couldn’t help but laugh. Continue reading “Axelle Is In The Hizzie (pt. three)”

Brian est dans la cuisine (pt. deux)

We took a three-hour train ride from Paris to Chambery where we were greeted by Axelle and her parents (Habiba and Oliver aka Tye).  I shook Oliver’s hand and then went to give Habiba a hug when I realized that in France an introduction starts with a kiss on both cheeks.  I awkwardly went the same direction, but we finally figured it out.  By the end of the trip I would be a cheek kissing fool.

Her parents could not have been any nicer and Axelle instantly began the task of translating all of our conversations.  I was amazed at how easily she bounced back and forth between the two languages.

Shortly after we arrived at her house, several members of her family came over (again I was awkward with the kiss greeting).  Axelle’s aunt also spoke English and her husband spoke a little bit of English and you could tell he was very excited to try it out.  As we sat down with Axelle’s family, it was neat that we were now seeing this side of someone who was such a big part of our lives for a year.  Dinner lasted until about 11, and then exhausted from a day and a half of traveling we went to bed. Continue reading “Brian est dans la cuisine (pt. deux)”

Brian Is In The Kitchen (part one)

In high school I took German for four years.  Besides a few basic phrases, a few bad words, and then a few more that we made up, I really don’t remember much. There is one thing though that you can ask any U.S. student who took German and they will know…Kennst du Ingo? Nein Ingo ist mein fruend. This was the universal chapter one dialogue that you learned.

Well apparently the same holds true for the French. They all know that Brian is in the kitchen with his sister (or girlfriend depending on who you ask) Jennifer…and with that dynamic sentence the English language is introduced…just like Jenn and I as we arrived in France.

Besides the fact that I would affectionately be known as Brian on this trip, I quickly learned a few other certainties about the French: Continue reading “Brian Is In The Kitchen (part one)”

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