Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lessons for Kiwi in American Life

After a nice sunny vacation from the real world in the Outer Banks, our family said our goodbyes and went our separate ways- Heather to her new home in Virginia- Joo, Kiwi, and I to our new home in Athens- and Mom and Dad back to their long empty nest in West Liberty. Of course, it was the closest our family has resided in over six years so it really didn't feel that far this time!
Kiwi returned with us, equipped with a rapidly growing base of colloquial English like "Clear my way!," "Liar, liar pants on fire," and "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring."

We had a rare and special treat of having John (and his parents for a couple days) working on our bathroom the entire time we were gone, so it was much improved by the time we arrived back (to Joo's deep relief!) While I had felt that our house in it's daily improving condition was like a castle, especially after some of the budget hotels we had crashed in on our South American journey together, Joo felt much more of a sense of urgency to have the house presentable for guests. So thanks to John, we took a giant leap forward when we saw all the work that had been done on the bathroom- the rusting window replaced, the drywall completed, the corroded sink and counter swelled from moisture damage removed, the tacky wall plastic ripped off, and the smelly linoleum tiles removed... all replaced with a beautiful tile floor and clean, new (or gently used) everything :) It still has a few steps to go so we'll save the before and after pictures, but I will say that in the first day after our return, Joo walked into the bathroom about every 30 minutes, turned on the lights, and screamed with delight!

With John back home, the three of us home repair rookies were forced to stumble through trial-and-error in a crash course of remodeling. The painting wasn't too bad of course (although apparently Korean kids aren't taught that you should never stick metal into a live electrical outlet and so Joo naively cleaned out some stray paint with a screwdriver...), but I learned just how hard it was to drill precise holes into ancient concrete without a hammer drill.

There were a few positive surprises too like when it came to patching potholes in our asphalt driveway which was actually much simpler than I thought it would be.

We slept well this past week- Kiwi and Joo especially since they were enrolled in intensive English classes. Joo found a second English class that was more for long-term immigrants and is even helping prepare her for the citizenship portion of her test she'll have to take in a couple years if she wants to become a U.S. citizen (which is good because I'm sure I don't know much of the material on the test!) She's also busy studying for her driver's license test which she'll take soon, although she still can't get why we stop for red lights in America, which I'm guessing might be a pretty key element on the driving portion of the test.

When we weren't doing home repairs, we did a lot of biking on the beautiful Hockhocking bike path, played disc golf on a couple courses, tennis and badminton, listened to some live music and introduced Kiwi to the lovely American opportunities of thrift stores, garage sales and freecycle. Speaking of freecycle (an internet website that allows people to donate items and services to each other), we needed to get rid of our sink, counter, and an old printer (hopefully without paying the $25 per item trash removal fee) and we also needed to somehow pick up a sofa we had bought at Big Lots (that had sat there for three weeks since we had no transport to carry it with). I posted it all on Freecycle and it just so happened that a girl named Jen who lived nearby needed a new sink, counter, and printer and had a huge Dodge Ram, so she met me at Big Lots, hauled our new couch back and I loaded her up with our stuff- what a win-win situation!!

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