Tag Archive: Willy

Where we were on this momentous day:

parents house for white chili and suet pudding and some pre-game relaxing/Top Gear watching

ME – in the bedroom checking up on hulu/reading. All of the pets are with me because they get scared when Dad yells at the large moving screen on the wall.

MATT – in the entertainment room yelling at the large moving screen on the wall.

WILLY – luckily, he’s not scared so he is joining in on the yelling at the large moving screen on the wall.

Matt can update you later on the score because I don’t know -oops Matt just told me that the Packers won. Go Packers!

When Willy first arrived, he introduced us to Top Gear and we are now hooked on it. We’ve even gotten Matt’s parents addicted to it! Definitely, some cultural exchange going on in our household. haha

I can’t believe it has been 5 months since William first came to live with us. He is such big part of our family, including our extended family. I just can’t bear to think that he will only be here for another 5 months. So, I will do what I do best – avoid thinking about it. :)

I’ve read some blog entries from some other host parents and I feel so incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful young man as my (our – sorry Matt!) son this year. He is respectful but funny and playful, thoughtful and just sarcastic enough to fit in with me and Matt. I could go on and on but I don’t want anyone to gag. :)

Seriously though, I worry that maybe we aren’t being good parents. I mean, we’ve only parented 4-legged kids. Willy is our first human I don’t want to screw him up too much for when he gets back to life in Italy.

So, is it wrong to let him go to a party where I know alcohol will probably be present but we’ve discussed all the usual “don’t ride with anyone who has been drinking, call me”, “if there are drugs at the party, call and we’ll pick you up…”? He hasn’t given me any reason to not trust him.

He has a phone and keeps both of us informed about where he is, will be, and with whom. The only time I’ve actually really worried is when he takes trips with school for soccer because I don’t find out where they’ll be staying, what time they’ll be back. But, I remind myself that I can reach people if needed so it will be fine.

I want him to experience our culture because that is in fact what he is here for and let’s face it, a lot of teen culture is hanging out with friends, sleep-overs, sports, trips to the mall, movies, dates, and yes, PARTIES.

I don’t know, just typing this out I feel silly, it has worked for us so far. So, until something changes I guess we’ll just keep at it the way we have been. Unless any of our wonderful followers have any wise words of wisdom to share? You know you want to! :)

So, I won’t delete this entry without posting because the point of this blog is to share my feelings and they are shared. Until next time!

If it wasn’t already clear when comparing Brandy’s first two posts and my first two posts, my role on this blog is to crack jokes and generally just be kind of silly. What I’m writing about today are a few unexpected bonuses we’ve–okay, I’ve–come to enjoy having Willy around the house. While this is largely “tongue-in-cheek”, I’m also 100% serious. Hopefully this won’t undermine any actual “parenting” we have to do down the road.

1. Perfect excuse to order the “Sports Package” on DirecTV.

Over the course of the last eight years or so I’ve gradually become more and more interested in Soccer. This past summer during the World Cup it naturally reached an all-time high. So high in fact that I seriously considered adding the “Sports Package” to my television service in order to watch soccer (primarily international competition and the German Bundesliga). Cooler heads managed to prevail though, and I realized I probably wouldn’t watch enough to make it worthwhile.

With Willy around to chip in some hours in front of the television watching primarily the Italian Serie A, as well as having someone in the house who already knows a majority of the players and teams… well lets just say I’ve been watching and paying attention to a lot of soccer the last few weeks.

2. Another person to play videogames with, particularly Rock Band.

Don’t get me wrong, Brandy enjoys a good round of gaming every now and then but marathon sessions of Rock Band aren’t exactly common-place. Well, they weren’t common-place.

3. The food.

You’ve probably already seen our last post. Enough said.

Willy cooked Brandy and me dinner for the first time tonight, Maccheroni Tricolore and a Frittata.  It was excellent, and you are all jealous.

Maccheroni Tricolore

Maccheroni Tricolore (apologies for the aggressive depth-of-field on the photo)



So, my last post was almost a month ago…I’m already off to a bad start. Blogging, that is.

What have we been up to you ask? Hmmm, where to start. I might as well go back 3 weeks but I’ll try to keep it short.

I picked Willy up from the airport on Wednesday afternoon, 9/1/10. I was able to meet him at the gate but it took longer than I expected to get a pass so I arrived at the gate minutes before his plane disembarked. I was worried I wouldn’t recognize him from his pictures and that we would miss each other but there were no problems.

segway fun

this picture is from about the time I freaked out, worried he'd get sent home after his second day here

Thursday , we met Matt for lunch downtown then went on a segway tour of downtown Austin. It was a lot of fun and I think Willy enjoyed it too. About 10 minutes before we the tour was over I kinda freaked out because I realized that he isn’t supposed to drive while he is here. I later found out that segway is ok!

Friday we were supposed to float on the Comal river, but it was rainy so we went to Natural Bridge Caverns instead.

Had friends over for a barbecue on Saturday; then tubin’ on Sunday. Monday is a blur; I think we had lunch at Matt’s parents. (This is obviously why I should update more often!)

Registered for school on Tuesday – it took more than 2 hours, was pouring down rain, his drink exploded in his bag and dripped all over the floor of the registrars office. Willy took it really well. I have to keep reminding myself that he is only 16 (soon to be 17) years old. He seems so wise and mature. I was definitely not that mature at 16.

I also did not expect to feel so awful leaving him there for his first day of school in America. I imagine it is similar to how parents feel when they drop their kindergartener off on the first day. I worried that no one would talk to him. Would the kids be nice? Would he have trouble finding his classes or have someone to eat with during lunch? I didn’t need to worry, the rest of the day (and week for that matter) went much more smoothly than the first 2 hours.

The next 2 weeks went by quickly and without explosions. AFS meeting, can’t remember what else except that when I got home from work on Saturday the guys told me they decided “we aren’t doing anything today”. That was ok by me! Sunday was a birthday lunch at Matt’s parents then to the UT campus for the last day of the  Our Body exhibit.

Willy is going to cook an Italian dinner for us this weekend. I am so excited to taste some yummy authentic Italian food.Tomorrow afternoon we are headed to New Braunfels to celebrate Matt’s birthday . I can’t believe tomorrow (or today ’cause now it’s after midnight – Happy Birthday Matt!) will be his 3 week anniversary for being with us.

Fun fact: Willy told us that in Italy, when you go out to eat for your birthday with friends, the birthday boy or girl pays for everyone’s meal! I think that is a really nice tradition.

I am so glad (and I know that Matt is too) to have decided to add Willy to our family. I love having him with us and I am already dreading June 28.

Well, I promised Matt I would wake up early to feed the 4-legged kids so he could sleep in a bit on his b-day so I’d better hit the hay. But I want to share 2 blog goals:

1. figure out how to post an audio file with Guglielmo’s (Willy) correct pronunciation (and actually do it!)

2. update after our Italian dinner and make everyone jealous! ;) maybe I’ll even take pictures


Brandy and I both share an interest in other countries and cultures. This being said, she was right about me being a bit more methodical in my decision-making process in opening our home to Willy. Even with my slower approach though, the thought of hosting an exchange student was pretty exciting.

While I don’t want to portray the United States in a negative light — because I really do think at the end of the day our country is pretty great — many of our citizens tend to have a fairly narrow world view and limited exposure to people from other countries. I like to think that in my adult life I’ve been pretty good about keeping my eyes, ears and mind open when hearing about other’s points of view, but beyond our honeymoon spent in Germany and the Netherlands, and a cruise to Mexico I personally haven’t ventured much outside of our comfortable borders. While this opportunity doesn’t do much to fix my traveling to a different destination, it will definitely be a big step towards providing a new perspective on things. Not only that, our friends, family and the students at his school will also benefit from this exposure, and hopefully Willy will to.

Heck, if Willy were a teenager from Parma, Ohio staying with us for a year it would probably alter my perspective on a lot of things. The fact that he is from Italy is almost icing on the cake.

Once details fell into place regarding our hosting I started to think about everything I know about Italy and Italian culture. Turns out, it really isn’t all that much! Sure, during my Fine Art studies in college we naturally spent a lot of time covering the art and architecture of Italy during Art History classes. And I watched the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy (although I was routing for France… whoops!). Finally there is what Eddie Izzard has to say about Italians.

I’m of course exaggerating a little bit regarding the above paragraph but what I am ultimately trying to say is that I can’t wait to learn so much more about the culture, and do so in a manner that isn’t from a book, documentary, movie, stand-up comedian or Wikipedia entry. Maybe all of this unbridled optimism is just too optimistic, but I’m really looking forward to finding out.

Similar to what Brandy said, this ‘blogging’ thing will probably be a bit uneven, and a bit of a struggle at first. With a little luck though we’ll start to get the hang of it, and will be able to share our experience with everyone in a clear and articulate fashion.

Welcome Willy

There are many things at which I excel, writing is not one of those things. However, I will attempt, with Matt’s help, to write a little bit every few days or so about our life over the next 11 months.

You see, we will soon have a new family member. No, I’m not pregnant! We are hosting an exchange student from Italy. He is 16 and from Parma. For now, we’ll call him Willy as I’m not sure if his parents would want me to use his real name.

How it all started.

Darcy, my youngest sister, was an exchange student with AFS in 2007 to Panama. About two weeks ago she called me and said there was an exchange student from Italy that needed a host family and asked if we would host him. Of course, I was immediately excited and would have said yes right away (without thinking things through) but I’m married now and have a voice of reason: Matt. I tend to be more of a “figure it out later” kind of girl. Whereas Matt likes to have all the information before he makes a decision (obviously the wiser of the two). So, after much googling and discussing we decided to go for it!

We called the contact on August 14 and she was excited that we wanted to host. We just had to get permission from the school Willy will be attending. After many calls and emails from several AFS volunteers with no response, I went to the school in person and got the necessary permission. Then the online application was filled out, background check submitted, online orientation done! Now we just had a home interview with an AFS volunteer.

We had the interview yesterday and I think it went well. The volunteer brought up a lot of questions we hadn’t thought about. Some of which are:

  • What do we do if Willy breaks curfew?
  • What will we do if he comes home drunk?
  • What if? What if? What if?

I suppose we thought we’d just deal with things as they came up or that we wouldn’t have those issues with “our Willy”. How naive!

The volunteer is a mom to a teenager and an experienced host-mom. She has an exchange student from Germany this year too. It’s comforting to know that there is someone experienced nearby that can help with any questions we might have and that there is another exchange student nearby that Willy can talk to. She has given us a lot to think about before Willy gets here.

Two of the things I like most about AFS is that the student is meant to become part of your family, and the vast support system they have in place. The organization expects the student to follow the same rules as the other members of the household, be assigned chores, and do well in school. We keep in touch with their AFS liaison monthly and have numerous group meetings throughout the year and are available if any of us have questions or concerns.

We got the okay to contact Willy yesterday but he emailed me before I could email him. He seems to be excited to stay with us and says he “loves animals” and knows about our “petting zoo”. I am especially delighted to hear this because I was concerned that with 3 cats and 2 dogs he would run screaming!

We don’t know an exact date to expect him yet but think it will be sometime after August 30. I can’t wait for everyone to meet him and to show him around Austin and New Braunfels. I hope he loves Texas as much as I do!