Things About International Relations

Somebody decided it would be a good idea to volunteer to host an exchange student.

So, here we are, almost 5 months in, and turns out, for once, Somebody was right. It WAS a good idea. Not because the timing was perfect and life is smooth sailing. Not because we lacked drama and intrigue. But because we got When.

Fortune saw fit to smile upon us and send us a quiet little Vietnamese girl named Uyen. Pronounced, and also spelled by my very culturally sensitive sister, "When".

She is little. Older than Natalee, but also smaller. Aspen likes to compare her size to the girl that she calls YooEn. Which is, obviously, the phonetical pronunciation for her name.

She is also, in no small convenient coincidence, funny as all heck. She talks very little. Which, in this house, could be the reason that I love her the most. But when she does finally open her mouth, it's as if she saved her world class sense of humor for a weekly one liner.

When has establish FIRMLY that Wednesday is actually When's-day, and a weekly celebration of, well, her.

She has also adopted my nephews and nieces. Which is something, if you've ever met them. Not that they're not adoptable. But they're not for the faint of heart. And her heart is anything but faint. She even loves the dogs. All of them. Truck is particularly enamored of her, he sleeps in her bed most days and talks to her with great emotion every night for awhile. We haven't figured out whether he thinks she's the newest, biggest sucker and might play with him, or what, but he tries really hard to boss her around. It's fine with me, because this time in the evening is traditionally reserved for the spilling and breakage of wine glasses by his tail, scars on my legs from his toenails and lots of awkward situations when he tries to position himself as a lap dog on top of, say, Aspen, or Dagny or someone. When can take it for awhile.

As The Holidays overtake us with unbelievable speed this year, little "When" has been riding the 10-hour-road-trip-with-5-kids-and-four-dogs-20-lbs-of-apples-and-a-partridge-in-a-pear-tree roller coaster like a champ. In fact, this has been going on pretty much since she set foot on Washington pavement. She emerged from the mountains of emotional confetti that were my brother's summer wedding, which reasonably doubled as a rare-ish WHOLE DARN FAMILY AND FRIENDS reunion and was as much of an ultimate crash course in Stecker family ridiculousity as one, or When, if you will, could ask for.

Introducing her to our family Holiday traditions has been not only a delight, but also a kick in the pants. Rallying through a number of terrible Hallmark Movies, she has decided that the only prerequisite for a true "Christmas Movie" is the inclusion of snow. Therefore, we have been able to justify such rousing successes as Snowpiercer, a post-apocalyptic action thriller with a little more blood than snow. And also I can enjoy all the seasons of Once Upon a Time (which When is the resident expert on) and even much of Arrow, since almost all of those episodes have snow. Or at least frosty breath. In case you didn't notice.

When has definitely revolutionized the holidays for me (I will quit using quotations around her name now). I am excited to see what happens with the Christmas Tree and Gingerbread Houses, which, by the way, she says our house looks like. I guess that happens when you turn Natalee and Aiden loose on a mixed assortment of outdoor holiday lights. We're calling it a "Bohemian Gingerbread House", because the wanton trail of mismatched lights strung haphazardly across random walls of the house is nothing less than gypsy festivity. Not a day goes by that I don't thank the Lord that I am a rigid imperfectionist. And not a day goes by that I am not thankful for my When.

I hope Vietnam isn't permanently damaged from the Steckerization she may carry home with her. :)

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