Monday, July 7, 2008

Bienvenue Clelia!

Greetings friends and readers alike. Several months ago we received an email from (now follow closely) my aunt who got an email from her friend who is friends with the cousin of a Frenchmen. This gentleman had a daughter who was finishing her first year of university (freshman in college) and wanted to come stay with a family in the US to work on her English. She was hoping to spend the month of July with a family for room and board and do some childcare for this family. When we first got the email I immediately thought of two different families who live in NW DC who have more children then us who were looking or desiring some relief. However, both of those families were in housing transitions and this summer was not the best fit. After nearly emailing back, sorry we couldn't find anyone, we thought.."wait a minute, this is exactly why we spent the time and money to finish out our basement." We wanted to be able to have a space to serve others, specifically a housing need. Now I was not looking for childcare per se but it doesn't hurt! After an exchange of several emails it was a done deal, we were going to meet Clelia at the Dullus Airport on June 23rd.

The afternoon of June 23rd, Tom sends me an email with Clelia's flight information, I told him we would go into the airport and meet her outside Customs. I would be the one with a red stroller and kids, I should not be hard to miss, just in case we made her a sign. Her flight was supposed to land at 2ish and I figured if I was there around that time we should intercept one another. However, Tom and I did not factor in an international flight and Customs. The girls were both asleep in the car and I had planned on being at the airport around 40 minutes, max.

After I woke up two very unhappy ladies, we loaded the stroller and headed to the international baggage claim. Please note Ellie's enthusiasm in this process of welcoming our new friend. Tom and I did not communicate well on the details of her flight info so after several heated text messages I got her flight number, it was delayed! At this point we've been there forty minutes and the girls do not want to be in the stroller anymore, so I let them roam. And roam they did. Now Ellie as bold as she is, has some comfortable fear, and will get nervous and come back. "the one with red hair" as Ellie lovingly refers to her sister can be quite the pill and seems totally fine with running in the opposite direction of mom.

People were wondering who the kids belonged to as they would snap their heads around after one of them cut them off while they were rolling their suitcases or butting into a wonderful reunion of lovers. Let me tell you trying to communicate sorry and excuse me while two folks who apparently have not seen each other in a LONG TIME (get a room) and who do not speak English leaves everyone involved a little vulnerable. Now two hours into this project, Ansley Mills in desperate need of a diaper change, kids screaming that their hungry, licking the floor and asking strangers if they have a "nack," I finally ask about her flight. She is in customs which can take up to two hours, I am thinking, dumb Americans, of course she is not just going to walk off her flight. Then we see her, I recognize her from a picture she sent weeks before, I get Ellie to hold up the sign and we are united at last. Nearly four hours of Dullus Airport and we've met Clelia. A dear sweet girl clearly jet lagged and has no clue what she has gotten herself into this summer with our family!

One of the first things we did with Clelia once she had a few days to acclimate was go to "The Mall." She speaks fairly good English and I realize how poorly I speak English when I am around her. We use far more slang and expressions then we realize. So she wanted to get a blueberry muffin (very American she says) and we decide to picnic under the Capitol. I am so often reminded how much I love living here and the very simple experience feels so extraordinary.

Another fun experience we have been able to share was a Cincinnati versus Washington Nationals baseball game. We were in Cincy for a family reunion and my cousin was able to get us some pretty darn sweet tickets behind home plate (yeah that was us on TV). We had a waiter who came to our seats to get us anything we wanted. Now I don't have to tell you Tom was in heaven. After the game, Nat's blew it in the 8Th, there was a fireworks display that lasted nearly 40 minutes. It was an incredible time. Clelia is such a gift, a real sweet girl with a gentle spirit. The girls adore her and she seems to like them too. We love her company and her help. It is a gift to our family to have this time with her. We are going to be very sad when she leaves and only hope this could be a fun yearly tradition.


Townes said...

Yall ever thought about getting an au pair? Might be worth checking into.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you had a great time in the "Queen City". Grandma Den H.