I don’t like heights, large crowds or tight spaces. A visit to the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri was sure to be pure torture. Our two oldest boys really wanted to see the Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, AND take the 630 feet trip to the top for a look over Saint Louis. I started researching the arch and quickly realized I was going to need a lot of prayers and possibly medication to keep me... [Read More]Read more
Today is the cleanest my bathrooms will be all year. Every nook and cranny has been scrubbed and disinfected. The rest of the house will follow suit in the next few hours. We have a house guest to pick up this evening. We’ll welcome a stranger into our home for a week-long visit.
It’s the sixth year at least one of our kiddos has participated in a Challenger Sports British soccer camp. The coaches for the program are college-aged people from the United Kingdom who travel around different regions of the United States for three months staying in a new town with a new host family each week. I believe the art of hospitality is important to instill in our children. I want them to see us freely sharing our resources and time with others. The best way to teach anything is by example.
Five years ago, I was enormously pregnant with our youngest and chasing around three young boys. We signed our 5-year-old (our oldest then) up for camp and paused at the box concerning whether or not we’d like to host a coach. I’m always up for adventure, but the unknown of bringing a stranger into our home seemed risky. I did research into Challenger, prayed over the decision and dove in. Those coaches are someone’s child. If my child was across the ocean, I’d want someone to watch over them in my place.
That first year hosting was not my best effort. I was waddling around, tired and not sure what this hosting gig should look like. I was a little guarded, wanting to paint our family, country and state in a positive light. It wasn’t until year three of hosting that I finally felt comfortable just being who we are, for better or worse. We threw ourselves into the role of tour guide and haven’t looked back.
I’m always nervous before we pick up our coach for the week. I like to plan and research, know what’s coming, as much as possible. The unknown worries me. It takes a great deal of trust to welcome a stranger into your life. We pray the coach will be a good fit with our family and be open to explore our county. By the end of the week the coach is an honorary “big brother” to our kiddos. He’ll be thought of as family, talked about and prayed over for years to come.
We’ve learned much about our allies across the pond. Our kids attempt to perfect their accents during the week and have a working knowledge of the language differences. It’s a cultural exchange. One of my favorite memories is watching the Summer Olympics hosted in London with two British soccer coaches sitting on my couch. The UK is at the top of our list of international locations to visit.
I’ve cried each time we’ve said goodbye. The chances of seeing the coaches again is slim, even if they choose to come back with Challenger the next year. We could request coaches back to our town, but I want them to see as much of our country as possible. We hosted one coach two years in a row, which firmly rooted him in our hearts. We feel like we know his family, and we’ve never even met. That second summer we weren’t nervous. We were welcoming home family.
I’ll spend the majority of today cleaning, grocery shopping and preparing to welcome someone else’s son. My stomach will tie in knots. I’ll wonder multiple times if this is a good idea, if he’ll like us, if we’ll like him, if we’ll be fun, if he’ll hate my cooking. It’s always turned out wonderful. By Sunday I’ll be teary-eyed, wondering where the week went and adding one more person to our family.
I pulled into our garage, shut off the engine and started to climb out of my vehicle. Then I heard it. That sound that’s distinctly MY home. The sound is part saxophone, part recorder, part pan flute, part drum, part guitar mixed with baby stroller wheels rolling on the wood floors combined with periodic whining and the constant sounds of LEGOs being sorted. My house is loud: filled with people, music and life. Our home has always been filled with... [Read More]Read more
Growing up landlocked in Wyoming with parents who weren’t travelers meant the only thing I knew about beaches came from books and movies. We were mountain people. I traveled to Mexico in high school and realized I couldn’t be pigeonholed into loving one geographical feature. The beach had a magical hold of me. Unfortunately, the hold isn’t so strong that I find myself living anywhere near a coast. A beach with ocean views is at least a 16 hour drive... [Read More]Read more
Two days ago I would have said the days my children look forward to without fail are their birthdays and Christmas. Alas, I was wrong (again). I had not lived through the pandemonium surrounding the release of Minecraft Pocket Edition 0.9.0…better known as “the biggest update ever.” I was completely unaware of how life altering a game update could be for young people. Thursday may as well have had a red circle marking the importance of the date. I’ve listened... [Read More]Read more
I survived one of my least favorite parenting tasks this week…the county fair parade. I have a high tolerance for all things kid-related, but the county fair parade has me actively attempting to bribe my children out of the whole affair. It’s hot. We’re never there early enough to be in the shade. No matter how early I attempt to secure a shady spot, I fail…every year. People and chairs start showing up on sidewalks a full three hours before the parade... [Read More]Read more
I was pulling on running shoes at 5 a.m. today and well into an over 4-mile hike by 5:30…in the morning. I am a night owl, more accustomed to moon watching than sunrises. My second wind, more like third wind, for the day hits around 10 p.m. I take care of little things I didn’t get to during the day, open a book I don’t have to read out loud or enjoy the quiet of the house with my husband. Most... [Read More]Read more
If there’s one thing I like more than the act of making a list, it’s crossing items off the list. We’ve purchased an annual U.S. National Park Service pass for several years in a row now and have steadily crossed places off the list by collecting “passport” stamps at places visited. This weekend we visited our sixth and final location in Wyoming and our 46th place overall in the National Park Service system. Our final Wyoming destination was Fossil Butte National... [Read More]Read more
I used to play on a rickety merry-go-round trying to avoid splinters while I held on. I was biding my time while the sun dipped farther into the horizon, just waiting for that moment when the movie screen would come alive with dancing concession stand goodies. I’d run back to the car, weaving between vehicles and posts with speakers stretched toward windows. The drive-in theatre is a highlight from my childhood memory reel. We don’t live close enough to a... [Read More]Read more
We found ourselves at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science Sunday morning, and it was completely our children’s choice. We were in the Denver area for the weekend with no plans for Sunday before heading back to Wyoming. Sitting in the hotel room after breakfast, we let the kiddos decide what we would do that day. They’ve been to Denver multiple times and know what the metro area contains. After throwing around various arcade-type options, they collectively decided on... [Read More]Read more