Friday, July 22, 2016

Phase one complete!

Last night I went to my last college class and finished my last assignments and the year long program I was doing is officially over. I did it! And with straight A's! Yay me! :)

I originally signed up for this program mostly because if I completed it the college would reduce my tuition for the rest of my degree. Thanks to this program I'm going to be getting my bachelors degree for really cheap, which I really needed if I'm going to afford to get through grad school.

But honestly, I wasn't really that excited about the program. Two online classes a semester for three semesters and we had to meet as a class for two hours every Thursday night. I really wasn't excited about the Thursday night meetings. When I found out that it was going to be a lot of group participation and taking turns teaching the class I almost dropped out. I'm such an introvert. Group participation isn't my thing.

But over the year I really grew to love my classmates and I learned that I can teach a class and participate in group discussions and last night, sitting in a circle with all these people I've grown to love and practically think of as family, I realized how profoundly changed I have been by this experience. We all had a hard time leaving for the last time last night. We've been through a lot together. We've tutored each other, cheered each other on, listened to each other complain when it got hard and celebrated each other's successes. It's going to be weird not going there every Thursday night anymore. I went there for the promise of cheap tuition and I left with a group of friends I truly love.

So now I'm done with school for a bit, and done with this program. Now that this program is over I'm just a regular college student in regular college making my own schedule. I'll be taking 12 credits online starting the second week in September. It was weird this morning knowing I don't have any homework to do. That program lasted 40 weeks. It's been a while since I've had a big stretch of time  without homework to do.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my time now. I've got some projects to get done before school starts, so it's time to work on those.

The first project is Matthews bedroom. When our kids turn 13 we have a tradition of redoing their bedroom. Teenagers need a teenage bedroom. So we're completely redoing Matthews bedroom. He has a small bedroom so when he was little we bought him a loft bed to maximize the floor space for toys and things. But a loft bed isn't working as well for an almost 13 year old as it did for a 6 year old, so we're getting rid of that bed and buying him new bedroom furniture. We're also panting, giving him a little reading corner and searching for cool room decor. We're just starting, but we have some fun ideas that incorporate his love of books and music.

This summer has been weird because the boys have been gone so much. Josh was in France for two weeks, then he came home and Matthew left for a week for scout camp and when Matthew got home, Josh left again for three days to go to a church event. And now that Josh is finally home, he's working full time as a pharmacy tech at Shawn's pharmacy, so hes still not really home much. It's been a busy time around here. We've been trying to find some time to take a little family trip, but with everyone so busy I don't think it's going to happen.

OH! Here's something cool going on next week! Our local TV news station finally got wind of Josh's France trip and they want him to come on the little local talk show type program they do. Next Friday morning he and his teacher are filming a segment for the show about the silent hero project they did in France. It will air next Sunday. I'll post the link for it once they have it on their website. He's really excited about that!

So school is done for now, but we've got a lot to keep us busy. As usual, time is flying by and I'm just trying to keep up! :)


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Red

I got my hair done the other day. I think the red is definitely here to stay for a while. I love it!

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Friday, July 1, 2016

Home

After three weeks, two countries, four hotels, one dorm room, six airplanes and one incredible adventure, my sweet boy is home, and I could not be more thrilled to have him back. 


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Paris

No big deal, just hanging ' out by the Eiffel Tower like it's a random Wednesday. :)

Josh is in Paris today getting ready to fly back to DC tomorrow. Friday afternoon he flies home and I finally get my baby back. This trip has truly been life changing for him. The little I have been able to talk to him, it just sounds like every minute of it has been truly special.

This is their last night as a group before they all go their separate ways in DC tomorrow and he said the kids were all staying up late at the hotel to enjoy their last night together. Two weeks ago he had never met these kids and now they feel like friends for life. I'm so happy for all of this. Life is an incredible adventure. You never know where it's going to take you.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Honored


Technician Fourth Grade Ray O. Coffey, you have not been forgotten. ❤️



Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bonjour France

Josh arrived in France a few days ago and is having the time of his life. This has been such an amazing experience for him. We have gotten to FaceTime with him every afternoon and he always has a bunch of fun stories to tell. And I'm just sitting here hanging on every word and soaking up every photo, because I can't believe he's on such a cool adventure! I miss him like crazy, but I'm SO happy for him. He's really learning a lot and getting to see some amazing things.

They're staying in a town called Bayeux, which is next to Normandy. From the pictures I've seen it's the most beautiful Frence village. I've never been to Europe, but after seeing his photos, now I'm dying to go! It looks amazing. 

They have spent the last six months doing a really intense, extensive study of all aspects of D-Day, and this week they're finally getting to see all the things they have studied and researched. After spending so much time studying it, it's such a meaningful, special experience to see it. It's more than just a sightseeing tour of random historical sites, they've really spent a lot of time learning about all the places they're seeing. He told me about walking across a bridge the soldiers marched on, and how you can still see damage in it from bullets. He said it gave him chills to know he was walking in their footsteps. It has really been an eye opening, perspective broadening experience for him that he is never going to forget.

I keep getting all these great pictures from him. Josh sitting in a French village eating baguettes, stained glass on centuries old churches, neat statues and WWII artifacts. He ate escargot today! This is a kid who barely eats anything that doesn't come with fries, and he ate snails?!  AND he said they were good. I'm still skeptical. lol I'm loving all of it, because he's loving all of it. Every time I talk to him and he is very animatedly telling me all the amazing things he's seeing he just keeps saying "THIS IS SO COOL!!". I love all of this.


So here are a few photo highlights of his trip: 








Seriously...SNAILS!! 😳


Best adventure ever. 









Thursday, June 23, 2016

France, here he comes!

I just Facetimed Josh to say goodbye. After a week of living in the dorms on the University of Maryland campus, he is getting on a plane this afternoon and heading to France. We have literally been talking about the possibility of this trip since October. I can't believe that the day has finally arrived!

I don't remember how much I have written about the specifics of his trip. One of the main purposes of the trip is something called a Silent Hero project. Every kid who was chosen to go on the trip was assigned a soldier from their state who died during D-Day in Normandy and is buried at the American cemetery there, and that have spent the past six months researching them. The purpose is to honor the forgotten. We remember the generals and the well known heroes and those who came home, but so many people went there and sacrificed their lives and were never really talked about again.

Josh was assigned a man named Ray O. Coffey. He was a soldier from Idaho who died 17 days after D-Day on the beach in Normandy. In fact, today is the 72nd anniversary of his death. The purpose of the project was to learn everything they can about his life, find photos, letters, put together a life history, and then Josh will stand at his grave above Omaha beach in Normandy and give a eulogy to honor his life.

The good news is that someone who was forgotten is going to be honored at his gravesite in a few days. The bad news is that he truly was forgotten and they had a very hard time finding information about him. Josh and his teacher have spent months scouring ancestory records, high school yearbooks from the 1930's, trying to contact family members, digging through military records, and they have come up with very little. They even told the story on Boise public radio in hopes that someone would come forward who had more information. No luck. They were hopeful that while they were at the national archives in Washington DC this week they would be able to uncover more information, but after hours of searching, even that failed.

When Ray died in France, the Red Cross contacted his family in Idaho and they didn't want his body back. He is buried in France because his family didn't want to bring him back to Idaho and bury him next to his parents. He was in his late 30's when he died and was never married and had no kids, and both of his parents were already dead, so he left very little behind and there are few who remember him. His name is not on our state war memorials and he has truly been forgotten over time.

But Josh has enough information about his family, what he was doing in the war, the battalion he was in and the circumstances of his death that he wrote a beautiful eulogy that he will read at his grave when they arrive in France. After all these years, someone is going to stand at his grave and give him the thanks he deserves. Josh is dissapointed that after all this research he has still never even seen a picture of Ray Coffey, but I keep reminding him that that is even more of a reason to make sure he is remembered. He gave his life for our freedom and no one remembered his name. So this week when Josh stands at his grave, he will finally get his recognition. And I like to think that somewhere, Ray is aware of that. I hope he's looking down and knows that he's being remembered.

I wanted to share the Facebook message Josh wrote this morning.


I'm incredibly proud of Josh for taking this journey. It wasn't just a free trip to France. It's been six months of hard work and research to honor a man who deserves to be thanked for his service. When I talked to Josh this morning I could tell that he's completely emotionally and physically exhausted. He's been going nonstop for two weeks and he has another week to go. He's nervous about taking his first international flight and I'm nervous to let him go, but this experience has been life changing for him and I'm incredibly grateful he was given the opportunity. 

So keep him in your thoughts today while he travels. And me, because I'm a nervous wreck, lol. I love that kid.