S: Kyle Cai in America August 28, 2010 - June 12, 2011
BC: Grand Rapids, Michigan
FC: Kyle Cai in America August 28, 2010 - June 12, 2011
1: Kyle, this book is a chronicle of the nine months you spent in America and with our family during your Junior year of High School. I hope, as you read the words and look at the photographs, that the memories associated with these people, events and places are pleasant and that you enjoyed living and going to school here as much as we enjoyed hosting you.
2: Months before landing on U.S. soil, Kyle began the arduous application process to become an exchange student in America. But while Kyle was planning on spending a year abroad, our family hadn't thought too much about hosting an exchange student at all. However, once we agreed to host Kyle, and after a whirlwind application and approval process, we anxiously awaited his arrival at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids on Saturday, August 28, 2011. The kids had balloons and a homemade sign for Kyle.
3: Kyle arrived in Michigan during one of the hottest weeks of the year, and he arrived bearing lovely gifts from his family in China! | He quickly bonded with Katie and Ella over cartoons on his computer!
4: Visit to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park | Joe's girlfriend, Roxanne, and her parents were visiting us the weekend Kyle arrived, so we all went over to our local botanical gardens for the day. Kyle was impressed by the huge DaVinci's horse statue - one of only 2 in the world.
5: Dale Chihuly: A New Eden Exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park April 30 - October 31, 2010 | Glass artist Dale Chihuly had a large exhibit at Frederik Meijer Gardens. His work is amazing! There were indoor and outdoor glass pieces -- they were very beautiful.
6: Kyle adapted quickly to the time change, the slower pace of American life AND our big, noisy family. We took him to a local Chinese restaurant one night early in his stay and he was delighted to find two people he could talk to in his native Cantonese. We told him he wasn't supposed to speak much Chinese while he is here (he came to concentrate on English), but this will be a treat for him occasionally. We had repeatedly warned him that American Chinese food isn't at all like what he's used to in Guangzhou and his verdict (after eating) was "it's good, but doesn't taste like food at home."
7: We spent Labor Day Weekend at our cottage on beautiful Crystal Lake. Kyle got to see a different, more energetic side of our old dog, Rudy, on this trip because Rudy's favorite place in the world is at the lake. Kyle also watched our boys show off while tubing behind our boat, saw beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the water and explored the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and Lake Michigan with his new American family! | Labor Day Weekend
8: Crystal Lake
9: Rudy was nearly 15 years old in this photo. This was his 13th summer at the cottage.
10: Over Labor Day weekend it was extremely windy and chilly one day. We took Kyle to the beaches of Lake Michigan at both Frankfort and Point Betsie, home of our favorite lighthouse. Kyle was brave enough to swim because the water was warmer than the air! | Frankfort &Point Betsie
11: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
12: The "big dune" at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is 450 feet above Lake Michigan. | It's fun to walk, run or jump down the huge sand dune and then walk along the shoreline to the much smaller North Bar Lake. | Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
13: As Labor Day weekend drew to a close, we headed back home to get ready for school. | Kyle enjoyed riding in the boat, but he decided against riding on the tubes!
14: Kyle met a really nice group of friends at an end of summer pool party for the junior class. Peter and Andrew became two of Kyle's best friends during the year, though Kyle made many good friends this year!
15: First Day of School! September 7, 2010 Kyle began his junior year at Northpointe Christian, while Toby and Kegan began their sophomore and senior years, respectively, at Forest Hills Eastern High School.
16: Kyle played on Northpointe's Varsity and JV football teams, sacked the quarterback many times and earned the nickname "Kung Fu Panda"!
17: In September we celebrated Kelly's birthday -- the first of many family birthday celebrations. When Kyle wasn't studying, he often did puzzles with Ella or showed the girls cartoons on his computer. | We also had to say a final goodbye to our beloved Rudy.
18: Grand Rapids is home to a wonderful artistic competition called ArtPrize. We enjoyed seeing many of the 1700 entries in the 2010 competition! | The life sized pencil drawing called "Cavalry" won 1st prize, and the mosaic "Svetlana" earned 2nd place.
19: Classmate Katie DeLong had a "Murder Mystery" Birthday party for her 17th birthday. Each of the guests/participants were assigned roles to play and had to work together to solve the mystery. Kyle's role was a retired school teacher named "Peter."
20: Autum (or "Fall") in Michigan is lovely. The trees turn vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow, and even purple, before the leaves drop to the ground. It's also a busy time and we spent a lot of time watching the kids participate in their chosen activities: marching band, football, soccer & rowing.
21: Halloween is a fun holiday where kids dress up and receive candy from neighbors as they "Trick or Treat" | Kegan and Kyle got a LOT of candy!
22: The month of November brought us Ella's 4th birthday and the arrival of two kittens. We named them Mirage and Atari. On Thanksgiving day, Kyle learned the finer points of making homemade gravy as the turkey was being carved and the rest of the food was put out to serve. Our guests for Thanksgiving dinner included Uncle Ken, Aunt Shelley and her mom, Mrs. Ulberg, cousin Justin and Alicia and their young sons, Aunt Jane and Roxanne.
23: In early December we went to Chicago. The kids had fun throwing snowballs at each other during the first snowfall of the season. We ate deep dish pizza, visited Chinatown and the Museum of Science and Industry.
24: December brought Katie's 5th birthday and Kyle's first Christmas. From picking out the tree on a cold, snowy evening, to decorating the tree and shopping (not to mention studying for final exams!), December was a busy month for Kyle.
25: Christmas morning we opened our stockings and enjoyed seeing what each person gave and received. A big box from Kyle's family was especially fun to open and we all were very happy to have been given a MahJong set!
26: More Christmas day and evening photos. Kyle helped decorate gingerbread cookies so the girls could put some out for Santa Claus. Extended family came for dinner.
27: Winter Fun | Michigan winters can be very long (and cold, and snowy!) so getting outside and playing in the snow is important. Playing games inside is fun, too!
28: The Chinese Association of Western Michigan hosts a Chinese New Year gala each year. There were crafts for the kids and a program featuring costumes, dance, music, martial arts and the Lion Dance! Kyle wrote the girls' Chinese names for them in calligraphy. | February 3, 2011 ushered in the Year of the Rabbit!
29: Local adoptive families got together to celebrate Chinese New Year and made hand print dragons at our house (the Year of the Rabbit calendar was a Christmas gift from Kyle's parents!) and we also did a dragon puppets craft in Katie's preschool classroom.
30: Kyle enjoyed an active social life at Northpointe Christian. It seemed there was always a party or an event that he wanted to attend (even if it was only for a few minutes!), all of which allowed him to fully enjoy his Junior year.
31: Kyle asked Katie DeLong to the Homecoming Banquet (which happened to be on the same day as the Chinese New Year party we attended). Immediately after the CNY party, we met up with Katie, Nate and Kaeleigh to take photos before the kids went to the restaurant for dinner.
32: Eric, Kyle, Kegan and Toby flew to California and spent time in San Francisco and Monterrey, as well as Muir Woods, Yosemite & Sequoia National Parks. They also visited Alcatraz Island, and the campuses of UC Berkley and Stanford. April 1 - 10, 2011 | California
35: The guys' Spring Break trip was exhausting. They visited several National Parks, saw the biggest and tallest trees on the planet (sequoias and giant redwoods), visited two college campuses and a former federal prison. They rode streetcars, saw sea lions sunbathing and had a wonderful dinner in Chinatown with friends of Kyle's family. Eric, Kegan and Toby rode bikes across the Golden Gate bridge while Kyle took the ACT test, and the boys found plenty of time to sleep or listen to their iPods and text their friends back home.
38: Easter ~ We attended Church, followed by an egg hunt, dinner with family and a basketball game!
39: Spring! | The school year was winding down, Eric, Joe, Kegan,Toby and cousin Kyle all celebrated birthdays, Kegan graduated from High school and Grandma and Roxanne were here to help celebrate Kegan's big day. Kyle received Northpointe Christian School's permission to return for his Senior year, and began studying in earnest for his final exams and the ACT.
40: Junior Senior Banquet May 7, 2011 at the B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids | Kyle's date was Kayla Dekoske
42: Nestled between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan on the Straits of Mackinac sits Mackinac Island. Once a military fort, it is now a quaint retreat from city life and a destination for tens of thousands of visitors each year. No motor vehicles are allowed on the island. Visitors get around by walking, riding in horse drawn carriages or buggies, or biking. The majestic 109 year old Grand Hotel with it's 609 foot front porch, sits on a bluff overlooking the harbor and the Mackinaw Bridge. On May 21-22, 2011, Kyle visited the island with Eric, Joe, Katie and Ella.
43: MACKINAC ISLAND
46: Kyle joined the Drum Line during his 2nd semester at Northpointe. They performed for families and students at school wide Chili Dinner on May 26. Only 8 students performed as the Seniors were on their Senior trip, yet the Drum Line sounded really good!
47: Memorial Day Weekend | The 9 of us headed to the lake for Memorial Day weekend. We didn't get to go out on the water, but played games, built a picnic table and enjoyed yummy s'mores!
48: Several times during his stay, Kyle treated the entire family to dinner out. Just before leaving for the summer, he treated us to a fantastic dinner at the Ichiban Steakhouse, where the chef prepared dinner at our table and put on a show at the same time!
49: We took Kyle down to the 42nd Annual Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids, listened to some bands, enjoyed an "elephant ear" pastry and some ice cream, met up with cousins Kyle and Justin and Justin's wife and sons, and even saw some people we know in the big crowds, including Kyle's friend, Andrew and his family!
50: Our Church home: Ada Bible Church (& ABC North Campus at Cornerstone University | Red Hot Inn and Ming Ten (favorite places to eat with friends) | Cornerstone University's Miller Library (favorite place to study) | Celebration Village (home of movie theater, Panera Bread & Buffalo Wild Wings!) | Ice cream sandwiches, big donuts Coke & Jones Creme Soda (favorite snacks) | Favorite Places & Things