Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 7, 2012

"Kids" in the house

Two pairs of men's tennis shoes and a pair of men's flip flops are lined up next to the television. Two large bowls of fruit sit on the kitchen counter. The refrigerator and cupboards are fully stocked, and the shelves in the "guest" bathroom are lined with men's and women's toiletries, a blow dryer and a hair straightener.

We have "kids" in the house again, and I love it!

Nadja, our 2005-2006 German exchange student, and her boyfriend Tim have been visiting for a few weeks. Nadja recently completed her nursing degree and Tim finished his degree in aviation technology and they were looking for a break from their busy schedules in Berlin.

It was just a year ago that husband Art and I were trying to get used to a house without youngsters in it. Youngest daughter Katie had moved out as she prepared to begin classes at K-State, and oldest daughter Mariya has been on her own for several years. The quietness and relative order were disquieting at first. Then we became accustomed to having the house to ourselves.

But when Nadja and Tim said they wanted to visit us, I sprang into action. I washed windows and blinds, emptied dresser drawers, cleared out the closet and made up the bed in "their" bedroom. I cleaned "their" bathroom from top to bottom to make sure they would feel at home.

I was a little apprehensive at first because this time of year is one of our busiest with fall classes starting at K-State. But I needn't have worried. Nadja and Tim are more like family members than guests, and we settled into a nice routine that included typical family activities - shopping for groceries, figuring out car schedules, planning family meals, doing laundry, having a barbecue at Mom's, going to a K-State football game, and watching "Late Night with David Letterman." In addition, Nadja helped me clean and organize my office. Both chipped in to work on electronic units for Art. They also helped us move youngest niece Larisa into her dorm room at the University of Kansas.

Like most people their age, Nadja and Tim prefer to stay out late and then sleep in. So before Art and I went to work in the morning, I left notes on the counter - just as I had done when Mariya and Katie were home.

Some were reminders: "Close windows and turn on air conditioner. It's going to be HOT!"

Nadja frequently left us notes as well: "Honey melon is in the fridge!" or "Don't forget tomorrow is trash day!"

Other notes were just to let them know I was thinking of them:

"Hope you have a great morning ... I LOVE having you here. I hope you are enjoying yourselves!"

That note prompted the following response from Nadja: "Thanks for the nice note. We love to be here very much ... I'm looking forward to every new day being here with you!!! Tim too."

Before long, Nadja and Tim will be back in Germany and we'll have to adjust, once again, to the quiet. We'll miss our "kids" - who, of course are not kids any more. But we look forward to the next time they can return to their Kansas family.

Left, Tim, Nadja, Art, Mariya, daughter-in-law Lacey and Katie celebrating Art's birthday; right, Cookie, our cat, enjoys the company, even if Tim, reading the newspaper, and Nadja, studying statistics, aren't paying her any attention.

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