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. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

College Girl

Well, it's official, I'm registered for college as a full time student! Today I spent practically the entire day trying to get my college classes all figured out. It was a big of a mess, but I'm pretty sure I've gotten it sorted out.

I'm back at the same college I went to when I left high school at 18.  I thought that would make it easy, because all my old credits are there, but it was actually incredibly complicated. When I went there it was a two year junior college, but several years ago they turned it into a 4 year university and changed a lot of things. The general courses that I had to take back then were all different than the requirements they have now. Plus I have the credits that I have earned over this past year, that are sort of complicated because they're from a program that is associated with that college but not exactly that college. It's complicated. So I wasn't sure how the credits I had from before were all going to transfer over. I was really overwhelmed by it this morning.

So I started making phone calls to see if I could get it straightened out. My file is confusing for several reasons. It's all under my maiden name, because it was from before I was married, but the credits I've been taking over the past year, which are associated with that college, are under my other name, and every time I go onto the university website there are things under both names and it's all weird. So I got that straightened out.

Then here is the thing I really hate to admit. When I left college after one year when I was 18, I was on academic probation. For several reasons that year of college was really awful for me. It was just a really crappy time in my life. I'm not even going to make excuses, but let's just say my GPA was dismal and embarrassing. So for over 20 years I have been on academic probation with this university. So I can register for classes, but I can't actually earn any more credits until I pass their little mini course on being a successful student. So I spent my afternoon taking that. I had to read all these things about how not to suck at college and take some quizzes on what I learned.

It was actually sort of an interesting experience, being 41 years old and answering to the mistakes of my 18 year old self. When I left college that year, I didn't think I'd be back. I didn't care that I was on academic probation because I had given up on school. But now here I am, righting the wrong. It's sort of amusing to me that I still have to deal with this over 20 years later, but it actually feels kind of good. I'm fixing mistakes that have really weighed on me. Eighteen year old Wendy would be proud of 41 year old Wendy. It might have taken me over 20 years, but I finally pulled myself together. :)

So I am now off of probation and can move on with a clean slate, but unfortunately my embarrassing GPA will follow me. I'm going to be trying to get into grad school when this is done, and my ugly GPA from 20 years ago is going to factor into my current GPA, which means that I'm going to have to work my behind off to get really high grades to make up for my one bad year. This year long program I'm just finishing does factor in, and I've gotten straight A's all year, so that helps. But I'm really going to have to work hard to raise my cumulative GPA so it's strong enough to get into grad school. It feels like a bit of an uphill battle, but I can do it. My poor grades from before had nothing to do with my ability to learn, they were more a motivation issue and a reflection of what was going on in my life at the time. Things are different now.

So I registered for classes. I had 29 credits from my one year at college and 15 from this program I've been doing this year, so I only need 18 more to get my associates degree. I spent a lot of time on the phone with someone at the college today and they were great about figuring out how to use some of my old credits to count for the new requirements the college has now. I got lucky, really. They were very accommodating. Like, I took an earth science class that year that they don't even offer anymore and now there is a different life science class everyone is required to take, but they accepted the old credit in its place so I don't have to take it. They did that for a few different classes. It really helped.

But I do still have to take an English class, another math class (eek!) an American history class and some religion classes because it's a religious university.

What it all boils down to is that I registered for five classes (actually four and a half, because one is a one credit half semester class) for a total of 12 credits. That only leaves me with 6 more credits that I'll take the next semester and I'll have my associates degree in April! Then I can really start focusing on my bachelors degree.

To tell you the truth, I'm pretty terrified about going full time. Can I handle it? I'm only taking 5 credits now and it's super easy, but what is 12 going to feel like? What if the classes are hard? It feels really overwhelming right now.

But it also feels really exciting. After all this time a college degree actually seems within reach. As scared and unsure of myself as I am, I'm also ridiculously proud of myself for taking the plunge. This is so far outside my comfort zone, and I'm a girl who really enjoys her comfort zone. It's taking a lot for me to do this. The last time I went to college, I failed. I'm scared of failing again. But I'm also really excited about the thought of succeeding. I might actually pull this off!

And the great thing is that after I finish all these random generals classes, I'll get to focus on my majors courses, and they're all subjects I love. I get to take psychology classes and parenting classes and things like conflict resolution and family dynamics. Those are the things I'm passionate about. Those are subjects I can talk about and learn about all day long. It's the associates level generals classes that are stressing me out. I don't really want to take another math class. I could take or leave an American history class. But get me past this part and I think I'll love the bachelors program. I'm ready to dive into that.

So things are good. I'm getting this college thing figured out. I'm actually still finishing up an English and religion class for another month, and then I get one glorious school free month in August before I start up full time in September. In the interest of getting this done as quickly as possible, I'm planning to go year round. They offer a summer semester, so at least until I finish my bachelors, I'm going to push through it year round. The clock is ticking, it's time for me to get to work! :)





Monday, June 20, 2016

Planes Trains and Automobiles

The White's have returned from Washington DC! Well, two of us have returned, anyway. Josh is currently residing in the dorms on the University of Maryland campus before he flies out to France in a few days.

So here is my trip recap. Have a seat, it's a long one. :) 

We flew out last Saturday afternoon. As we all know, I hate airplanes, so that is always an ordeal. The crappy thing about living in Boise is that the airport isn't big and it doesn't fly to that many places, so unless you're vacationing in somewhere like Denver or Minneapolis, you're gonna have a layover. Which means I have to get on two airplanes. Which is twice the ordeal. But I survived it. Josh was with us and this is the first flight he's taken since he was little and I didn't want to make a big deal about how much I hate it, because I don't want him to hate it, so I mostly tried to keep my hatred of airplanes to myself, lol. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. Maybe I exaggerate how awful airplanes are. Just a tiny bit though. They're still kind of awful. 

Here we are at the airport. Look at us all fresh and happy and ready for an adventure! :) 






We got to DC at 11:00 at night and we were actually staying at a hotel in College Park, Maryland, because National History Day is held on the University of Maryland campus in College Park. So we had to figure out how to get from the airport in DC to College Park at night, and it's like a 30 minute drive. So we got brave and learned how to Uber. Boise has Uber, but everyone here has a car and public transportation isn't really much of a thing here, so I don't think it's a big thing here. I've never used it. It sounded scary! But we were brave and we figured it out and it's actually super easy and so convenient. We ended up using it several times on our trip. I'm glad I learned how to use it. It's kind of cool, actually. We felt like city people, lol. 

Three thousand kids and their parents descend on the University of Maryland campus every June for National History Day. All the hotels in the area are totally booked and it's a bit of a madhouse. But it's fun seeing all the kids from different states all so excited about their history projects. 

One of the funnest things they do is pin trading. Every kid that comes to NHD brings pins or buttons from their state and they trade them all week long. The goal is to get a pin from every state by the end of the week. It's a great ice breaker activity and really gets all the kids talking to each other. It was really fun to see kids in the lobby of the hotel or even at the events in downtown DC or on the subway and have them run up and ask what state you're from so they can trade pins. Pin trading is serious business at NHD! Josh had a blast with that. 

Here he is doing some pin trading:





We stayed in a hotel a couple of miles away from campus, so there was a lot of going back and forth from the hotel to campus all week. One of my least favorite parts of the week was transportation. We didn't rent a car, so getting around was tricky. There was a shuttle that went back and forth from the hotel to the campus all week, since pretty much everyone at the entire hotel were NHD families. But it was a bit of a pain to catch the shuttle at the right time, so we did a lot of waiting for that. If we wanted to go into DC, which we did several times, we had to catch the shuttle from the hotel to the campus, take a bus from campus to the metro stop, and then take the subway downtown, which could take up to an hour depending on where we were going, and usually required a subway transfer. We spent a lot of time waiting for transportation that week. Waiting for busses, waiting for subways, waiting for shuttles, waiting for Uber. Lots of waiting. We pretty much used every form of transportation I can think of besides boats on our trip! We totally should have taken a boat tour. :) 

We got really good at the DC metro system! We have very little experience with subway systems, but we were pretty proud of ourselves by the end of the week. Shawn especially is an expert at getting us on the right trains. Who knew he had that hidden talent, lol. 

Here we are on our first subway ride! Such a tourist thing to take a picture of! 



The University of Maryland campus is really nice. We got quite familiar with it during the week, especially the student union. We walked all over that campus all week.

To give you a rundown of our week, Sunday we started out at the National Zoo. We wanted to see the famous giant pandas. We saw them. It was really really hot and I wasn't all that impressed with that zoo. I love zoos in general, but that one was sort of a bust. It was my least favorite activity of the week. 

Monday we got the opportunity to do something really cool. NHD set up a private tour of the Holocaust museum in DC. We had to sign up in advance, and we were glad we chose to do it, because it was pretty neat. Next years NHD theme is Taking A Stand In History, so we got to attend some lectures and a private tour based on that theme. They showed us some exhibits at the museum about people who took a stand during the holocaust, and then we got to attend some lectures and great discussions on that topic, followed by a reception with some yummy food. It was a neat experience and we really learned a lot. After the museum we walked over to the Washington Monument, which is gigantic and cool to see, and then we decided to catch an Uber to the White House. 

I actually went to DC 20 years ago when traffic actually went in front of the White House and you could go stand in front of the fence. There is a lot more security these days and you can't get quite as close, but it's still early cool to see the White House in person. And of course we took a selfie. :)




Tuesday was a big day, it was the day Josh got to present his documentary for judging. He got dressed up and looked all handsome and professional. 


He would want me to tell you that I made him do this pose. But it's hilarious and awesome. 


Presenting his documentary was INTENSE. Holy crap, the judges were scary. I was incredibly proud of him because that was really high pressure situation and he handed it like a champ. He played his documentary for three judges in a classroom on campus and then they asked him questions. But they weren't sweet nice smiley people who asked him softball questions, it was like he was up there defending a masters thesis or something. They asked him ridiculously hard questions about the gold rush. Like, what percentage of gold miners were married and supporting families vs. how many were single men? Explain hard rock mining to us. Uhhhh....? And they had very stern faces like they were not playing around. I would have crumbled under the pressure. But one thing Josh has going for him is that he competes on his school's Academic Decathlon team and he has a lot of practice and experience with this sort of thing. He has been trained to present things, handle interviews, etc. So he handled the questions like a champ. He knows exactly how to answer a question he doesn't really know the answer to. I was really impressed with him. 

Unfortunately he didn't advance to the finals and didn't win, but I could not have been prouder of him. He worked so hard on that documentary and he really did his best. He learned a lot this year that he will use when he starts next years project. And yes, he's already planning his project for next year!

After the pressure of competing, we headed off on the adventure I was most nervous about. Some of the other people from the Idaho group decided they wanted to do a three hour sunset bike tour of downtown DC. Now, we all know how much I love bikes. But three hours? Downtown? In the heat? I am so out of shape. I was imagining all the worst case scenarios where I wouldn't be able to do it and someone would have to carry me and my bike back to the bike shop, lol. I was really really nervous about it. 

We got to the bike shop at 6pm. There were about 10 or so of us signed up for the guided tour. Our tour guides were awesome. We got our bikes picked out, put our helmets on, and we were off, riding on the streets in downtown DC traffic. It was scary for a few minutes, but our guides knew exactly where to go and what they were doing and then it was pretty much the coolest thing ever! The weather totally cooperated. It was in the high 70's with a breeze. Perfect. And miraculously, I could actually do it and keep up! It was honestly one of the coolest things I have ever done. We spent three hours riding around DC and to all the memorials. It wasn't three hours on the bikes, we got off frequently to check out the memorials. We rode past the White House, we rode to the Washington Monument, we rode to the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR memorial, the MLK Memorial and then as the sun was setting we rode to the reflecting pool, the war memorials and the Lincoln Memorial. An absolutely gorgeous evening, beautiful views, amazing memorials, just the best night ever. I loved every second of it. I will never forget that night. It was the best part of the whole trip. If you ever go to DC, you absolutely must do it. Capital City Bike Tours. Look them up and go do it. Even if you're out of shape and think three hours on a bike sounds like it might kill you. It won't, go do it. 

Here we are having the best night ever!








Did I mention that it was the best night EVER? I loved it. 


The bike tour ended at 9pm. We still had to make the hour subway trip back to College Park. They are currently working on the subway system in DC, especially at night, so the subways are occasionally backed up, crowded and slow. We were SO hot and tired after the bike trip and the journey back to our hotel was both hilarious and ridiculous. The subways were absolutely packed, twice they stopped and kicked us all off and said they were done for the night and we had to wait for another train to come along, and it was just a long, silly, weird, crowded adventure. 

Here were are crammed on a subway. I can't explain to you why this is funny. It just is. You had to be there. Everything is funnier and dumber when you're tired. That's just all I have to say about that, lol. 



OH! And here's a story that Josh won't want me to tell but I'm going to tell anyway because it's adorable! Sorry Josh. :) We happened to be on the subway that night with some other NHD kids who were trying to get back to College Park. While we were all crammed like sardines on the train, there was an absolutely adorable NHD girl who kept giving Josh the look. You know the look, lol. They finally struck up a very flirty conversation and Shawn and I and the girls dad all chuckled and tried to pretend that we weren't there. He got her number, took a picture with her and texted her the rest of the trip. She was adorable. He's adorable. The whole thing was adorable. He actually met up with her again at the Smithsonian later in the week for a few minutes. Adorable. 

Wednesday we headed back out to DC to visit the National Art Gallery. This was one of Josh's bucket list items, so it was a big deal. Ever since Josh was five years old, he has loved Vincent Van Gogh. Josh was not a typical five year old, lol. We spent months when he was five pouring over books on Van Gogh. The only thing he wanted for Christmas that year was a framed print of Van Gogh's Langlois Bridge At Arles. It was the most expensive gift I bought anyone that year! It still hangs in his room to this day. He loves Van Gogh. And Wednesday was the day he was going to see a Van Gogh in person for the very first time. He went into that museum like most kids walk into Disney World. He was SO excited! We asked the front desk guy to point us in the direction of Van Gogh and we made a beeline for it. 

I wish you all could have been there to witness it. We walked into the room with the Van Gogh's and it was magical. Josh got teary, I got teary, we stood in front of his self portrait like a bunch of crying weirdos. There it was, a real Van Gogh. Josh couldn't stop staring at it. He examined it from every angle. We marveled at the brush strokes, we couldn't believe we were seeing it. The guard finally had to come over and tell us to back up because I think we were making him nervous, lol. We weren't going to touch it, of course, but I think the guard wasn't quite sure, lol. It was a really cool moment. A really really REALLY cool moment. A picture can't begin to convey what a cool moment that was. 


After we composed ourselves and left the Van Gogh room, we walked around the museum and saw so many other cool things! We saw Monets water lilies! Which by the way, was good timing, because Josh is visiting Monet's garden on his trip to France. Lucky. We went to the modern art section and saw a Jackson Pollock's Lilac Mist!! It was a really really great day. 

Except for one thing. My feet. My feet had been bothering me somewhat through the whole trip, and by Wednesday I was in a lot of pain and my feet were swollen up like balloons. By the end of the art museum I could barely walk. We still had a bunch of things planned, but I was starting to become concerned about the state of my feet. So after much discussion and deliberation, I decided to leave the boys in DC and I took an Uber back to College Park. I spent the rest of the day with my feet on ice. 





The boys spent that evening at the American History Museum. I'm bummed that I missed it, but they had a great time.

Thursday was the awards ceremony for NHD. Josh didn't win and I stayed at the hotel with my feet up, but they had a good time at the ceremony anyway. 

Thursday afternoon was the day I had been dreading. It was time to transfer Josh over to the dorm he would be staying in for the France trip. The France trip is done by the NHD people, so they plan it to start right when NHD ends. The group spends several days in the dorms in the UofM campus before going to France. There are 15 kids and 15 teachers on the trip. The dorm they're staying in is actually brand new, it was just built last year, I think. So as far as college dorms go, it's really nice. I was impressed. Plus, it's empty except for them, so they get the whole nice thing to themselves. So we went over there and got him checked in. We were one of the first ones to arrive. I helped him make his bed, we hung up his clothes, we found the bathroom and the laundry room. Then I told him to sit on the bed so I could take his picture. He sat down on the dorm bed, I took one look at him and burst into tears. Ugh. So many mom emotions. We had just spent this absolutely amazing week with him and now we were saying goodbye, and seeing my baby sitting in a dorm room was just a little too real. He's so grown up and independent and all of a sudden I realized that my baby isn't a baby anymore. But I'm apparently a big baby because I stood there and cried in a dorm room like I was sending my kid off to war or something. It's only two weeks. I know it's only two weeks. But, ugh. I'm a mom. I'm entitled to the occasional my-baby-is-growing-up-too-fast meltdown.




So Thursday evening we said our goodbyes and left him in the dorms. I went back to the hotel room and cried some more. 

Friday morning we got up bright and early and headed home. Two more airplanes. I survived. 

Unfortunately my feet haven't survived so well. We've been home for two days and I still can't walk. I'm actually a little concerned that I might have a stress fracture in my left foot. It's fine as long as I'm sitting, but I can't walk on it. If it doesn't feel better in the next day or two I'm going to go have it x-rayed. 


Josh is still on campus in Maryland, having a great time. We text pretty frequently, so I'm getting the play by play. Saturday night they got to go to a really fancy dinner at the Decatur house, across from the White House, that was put on by the White House historical society. It was a super fancy suit and tie dinner. Josh has never been to anything that fancy, but he said it was really cool. He was excited because they gave all the kids boxes of White House Jelly Belly's. :) 

Yesterday they visited the war memorials and they have attended several lectures on WWII. At the fancy dinner they actually got to meet a WWII vet who gave a speech. So cool!

For the next few days there will be more lectures, a visit to Arlington Cemetery, and then they're going to be doing research at the National Archives. On Thursday they fly to France! He's going to have such an amazing time. I'm so excited for him that he has this opportunity. He's never going to forget it. I miss him like crazy, but this is a great experience for him. 

So there you go. The very long version of our awesome trip to DC! We really had an amazing time. I'm grateful that we had the opportunity to do it. Taking a trip with just one kid was actually really special, and it has made me realize that I want to do that with Matthew and Clarissa when they're in high school. The one on one time with Josh was really great. This is a trip none of us will ever forget. 

And now that I'm home, I'm moving on to something else exciting! While we were in DC I got my official college acceptance letter. I'm officially a full time college student! This week I'm figuring out what classes I need and getting registered for the fall semester. I'm really nervous about going full time, but ready to get started. Life is exciting around here lately!! :) 



Friday, June 3, 2016

All about Matthew

Warning, it's mom brag time! I realized that with all the stuff we've had going on with Josh lately, I have failed to mention all the cool things that Matthew has going on and I wanted to make sure I write it all down, because he's really been working hard lately and I want to document all the cool things he's been doing!

First all, he had his spring piano recital a couple of weeks ago! Last fall we found the coolest Legend Of Zelda theme song medley on YouTube and Matthew was immediately determined to learn to play it. Matthew is pretty obsessed with the Legend Of Zelda games, so to find sheet music for the theme songs was pretty awesome for him. But the song we found was over seven minutes long and insanely difficult for his skill level, and I didn't think he was realistically going to be able to learn it any time soon.

But I should know better than to underestimate Matthew, lol. When he puts his mind to something, he figures out how to get it done. He has spent months practicing it. He took it to his piano teacher and she helped him cut a few parts out of it to make it a little more manageable. It's still over 5 minutes long, but with the changes they made, it was doable. This is by far the hardest song he has ever played and it has really required him to push himself, but he was up for the challenge.

After months of hard work he was ready to perform it for the spring recital. We always get so excited for the recitals because they do them at recital venue that has a super fancy grand piano and his songs always sound so so great on a grand piano. He loves playing that piano. They also record it for us and send us an MP3, which is fun.

I always take a video his recitals, but this time my camera died halfway through his song, so I don't have video of this one. But we have the audio, so I made a YouTube video anyway. You just get to stare at his cute face for five minutes. :)




He had the chance to perform the song again today at his school's end of the year talent show. He tried out for the talent show a few weeks ago and got in, so he got to perform for the whole school today. He did an awesome job! I never get tired of watching him perform.

So that is what Matthew has been doing with his piano talent lately.

In the meantime he also applied to be on the yearbook staff for next year and got accepted, which he's really excited about!

He also applied for acceptance into the National Junior Honor Society and was accepted. He had his induction ceremony last month.

And today after the school talent show they had an end of the year awards ceremony and he received the Excellence in Writing award from the English department. Matthew really loves to write, so he was especially excited to receive that award.

So Matthew has been excelling all over the place lately! I'm really proud of how hard he's working and all that he is accomplishing. This summer he's looking forward to going to scout camp in July and he gets to go to yearbook camp in August.

Matthew also turns 13 this summer and the rule in our house is that when you turn 13 you get to redo your bedroom. You might remember that we did that with Josh a few years ago. The photos of that project are on my blog somewhere. So he's really looking forward to that. When I get back from DC, that's my next project to focus on. Matthews room is in desperate need of a teenage upgrade, so we have some work to do. He's going to be getting new bedroom furniture, new paint and new decor. His hobbies are piano and reading, so we're going to somehow incorporate both of those things into his room. We're excited to get started on that project!

I'm really proud of Matthew. he's an amazing kid!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Trip planning

Like is feeling a little chaotic right now! We're getting close to our trip to DC and I'm getting more nervous about it every day. It's fine, I'm sure it will be fun, this is just a going to be a super busy, hectic trip. Not the relaxing vacation I generally prefer!! 

The tricky part of this is that we've been coordinating it with other people. There are a group of people who are going from Josh's school, which is headed by the teacher he's going to France with, so some of the activities we'll be doing will be with the group. So there has been a lot of planning and coordinating going on. They put me in charge of setting up a Capitol tour and a meet and greet with one of our congressmen, so I've been dealing with that. We're doing all sorts of fun things, like a three hour night time bike tour of the DC memorials. Which will be fun, but I'm super nervous about my fitness ability on a three hour bike tour. It's going to be hot and humid and I'm out of shape asthma girl. So...pray I don't die, OK? The whole week is just going to be nonstop activity. I don't think we'll have a free second to rest while we're there. Between all the competition activities and touring DC, we're going to be running nonstop. I'm a little nervous about that. I'm a hammock in the shade with a book sort of girl. 

And the airplane. Ugh, the airplane. I have to fly, you guys. Why do I hate it so much??! 

Also, we'll be topping off our week with a goodbye, when we leave Josh in the hands of his teacher and leave DC without him so that he can go to France. This is the first time I've ever sent one of my kids off like this. I'm not going to lie, I'm freaking out about it just a little. His teacher is amazing, the group he's going with is safe, and Josh is responsible and intelligent and everything is going to be just fine. But I'm sending my kid overseas without me! I might not breathe until he gets home. 

I'm a bit anxious about a lot of things right now!

And between all the trip planning and stressing, this is the boys last week of school, we're doing all the end of the year projects, performances, etc. Clarissa just had a dance recital, Matthew had his spring piano recital, Josh had two choir performances, everyone is studying for finals and making summer plans. Throw my school in the middle of it and basically I'm a little frazzled. 

At this point I'm just keeping my eye on July. Once all of this world traveling is done, the rest of our summer is hopefully going to be pretty uneventful. I'm looking forward to things moving a little slower this summer. We don't have any more vacation plans, I have the entire month of August off school, and I'm looking forward to some hammock in the shade book reading. That's what I'll be envisioning while I'm hurtling through the sky on an airplane next week. 😬😬😬

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sixteen!!

Today is Josh's 16th birthday! SIXTEEN! I still can't believe my little boy is that old. That was the fastest sixteen years ever. 

Josh is an amazing kid and I am so lucky to be his mom. Josh is my type A child. A list maker since he was a toddler, he's the most organized, driven person I know. When Josh sets his mind to something, he sees it through. Shawn and I have often said that we didn't really raise Josh, we simply got out of his way, lol. He's always got a plan and a project and a goal and a pile of checklists to help him get there.

Josh is funny and kind and sweet. When I'm having a bad day, he's the first one to ask how he can help. 

One thing Josh especially loves is chocolate, so in honor of his sixteenth birthday, I gave him a chocolate themed day, which was topped off with this cake. I made it while he was at school today and couldn't wait for him to get home and see it. His reaction didn't disappoint! He was more excited about this cake than I think I've ever seen him about anything in his life, lol. If you want to win Josh over forever, chocolate is the way to do it. :)

So happy birthday to my sweet boy. He may be almost six feet tall, but he's always going to be my little boy. I love him so much!