Matt is still active duty with the Army, he is still stationed in Fort McCoy in Wisconsin where he help National Guard and Reserve Units to get ready before deployment. In August he finished his school requirement for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and he hope to be promoted in 1 or 2 years. He was send to Arkansas in the beginning of October on temporary duty and from there he will go to Mississippi just after the Christmas break. He will return to Wisconsin by the end of March (or so it is the plan, but it can always change) He has been asked to extend for a 5th years. We'll see what happen next.
I do believe it was the main disagreement we had this year, so, so far so good! :-) We were lucky with his job; Matt has been able to come home often during this past year. He comes home every weekend or every other weekend. It does help with the feeling of him never being home. So we are very thankful!
Anne news: Well same old, same old. I got myself in big trouble at the beginning of the year by starting scrapbooking, since you know me; I have loads and loads of pictures. I thought it would be a good idea to put them in albums. What I didn't realize was that in Scrapbooking it take hours to do two pages and it would have been time saving for me to just put them in regular albums. But then I guess I wouldn't have the challenges to create.
I took Morgane for a few of my scrapbooking meeting and got a group started so we always meet and scrap together or at least once a month.
I went on a weekend with some of the group members and Kristin my sister in law and one of her friend Jenny joined us. It was in Galena (IL) very cute little town on the Mississippi river. We stayed a total of 2 days and 2 nights in a house in the middle of the wood and scrapped the days and nights away. It was a nice little break from the children and with women that share the same interest.
In November I went and visited a local Massage Therapy school, and I am planning to start the next class of 2008 in late Feb 08. Matt is ecstatic and can't wait for the free massage. So we'll see how it go, I should be done by Sept/Oct if everything go smoothly.
In mid May I took the kids and our neighbor’s son Cody, out of school. We flew to Spain got a car and drove to Perpignan where one of my aunt live. We met my mother there and the day after, we drove to Carcassonne where we stayed in a rented cottage for a week.
We visited the area. Kids loved it and we saw castles from the Templar knight time, fortified city dating before the roman. Cave, prehistoric man (yes there is still some in the south of France):-) and the beautiful scenery of the Pyrenees.
After a week discovering the region we headed north and stopped at the "Lascaux" cave and also Castelnaud. Kids were very impress with the Castle of Castelnaud, with the medieval weaponry overlooking the Dordogne.
http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/ We were glad to be able to visit the cave of "Lascaux" with a very cool and funny guide who spoke English and knew what he was talking about. It was great to see the face of those kids when they realized the age of the painting on the walls of the cave. Unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside. If you ever go to the area. Do stop by and visit this. It is just AMAZING.
We also stopped and tour the "Lacave" cave, with beautiful specimen of Stalactite and Stalagmite.
Then we drove to Auray, my hometown where we suffered rainy days or should I say weeks. I do believe that the weather didn't help but we still took time to go see the ocean and dig in the sand to find little crab monster. Or make Castles and tunnel. Even had a chance to get wet a little, in between two clouds.
Cote Sauvage, Quiberon
My mother took the kids to Carnac where they help put some of those "Megaliths" back up! http://www.megalithia.com/brittany/carnac/
She also took the older kids (Cody, Damien and Morgane) to visit "Gavrinis" another "prehistoric" site but on an island. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gavrinis
They also went to visit the summer castle of the Duc of Brittany, Suscinio ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Suscinio )
© J.P Gerard
I took the two boys (the oldest) to visit Omaha Beach, I thought it would be interesting and important for them to see where so many men gave their life to save my country from Nazi Germany. They were pretty impress. I took them to Omaha Beach because of Matt being from NE and Cody can relate having his Grandparent from Nebraska as well.
Then we went for a day trip to Paris, where I couldn't let Cody come in France and not see the "Eiffel Tower" or the "Notre Dame" cathedral. It was a very short time spend in Paris, and unfortunatly we didn't have a lot of time to visit museum and other big monuments. However we did have the chance to visit the "Arc de Triomphe" and took a tour around the "tourist" area of the center of Paris. We had fun and lucky not to have a drop of rain fall on us in Paris. After we left it is another story, but we were all very happy to come home to Auray.
A few days later we went to Milan in Italy where we took the plane to Chicago. Needless to say we had a lot and lot of miles on the rental car. We were all happy to come home at the end of June, Matt was glad to see us, we enjoyed it too, and John Cody's dad was very very happy to see him as well. I don't think he missed us that much! ;-)
Summer went by very very fast, and now that it is winter, and cold and just plain not nice, I wish it was a little warmer, but then it will be Christmas time soon enough again right?
So here is the news for the kids:
Damien: He still play guitar it will be his 5th year pretty soon. He is in 6th Grade, like it so far and is doing much better. Love writing stories about Dragons and Knight and Castles of course. Since it seems to be a "generation" things he is also taped to his Xbox and PC. He picked up on Archery over the summer and is really good at it, it seem that the European blood of Robin Hood got one of our kids! ;-) He can't wait to be a teen, and of course to have his learning permit (that's because his friend Cody who turned 14 in Nov has his) and then you know by next year he will want to have
his own car and motorcycle or something! They grow up so fast. Basketball practice will start in January, he can't wait until then.
Morgane: : If you can picture her mother at 9, then you have a picture of Morgane. She is a pretty stubborn little girl, who doesn't like to be pushed and will not do anything if you do push her. She is Miss Drama, but I think it is because of her brothers always picking on her (you know, we have to find a reason for that) the last Parent/Teacher conference he best grade was in:"Art"!! (Hmmm I wonder who she got that from?) ;-) She still is like a 9 year old and so far not going on 15 years old. So no teen clothing or lifestyle change so far (so good for us!)
She is a junior Girl Scout, so if you have a need of cookies send us your order, we'll ship to family and friends. Here is a picture of Matt and her before the "sweetheart" Dance of Valentine day. She has been asking to play a musical instrument for 2 years now, same instrument (I was hoping she would change her mind but...) The instrument in question is "Harp", so she started the Orchestra School in Cedar Rapids in September in Harp lesson. She can be so persistent when she wants to, hopefully she will stick with it, so far she can play "twinkle star", and she will start the group lesson in January. She also tried soccer this spring before our trip to France and didn't really "Dig" it! :-/
Rafael: We retained him in Preschool because of his language, it seem that all of our kids are having difficulty starting talking and pronunciation. He is going to start with the special education teacher of the IC Public school, so we are happy with that, , at least he will start soon and maybe will be not have too much difficulty in the elementary curriculum.
He is a happy little boy, but tends to have his sister's temper sometimes, especially when she bugs him. He love going on his papa motorcycle "trickie" that the name of the bike for him. He doesn't like to go "far away" especially to his "Mutti" (French grandmother) because it is too far from our far away house. But then he doesn't like to go far away to Grandma's mountain house. But of course as soon as we arrive at either one grandma's house, he is a happy camper! ;-) (And he really loves to take the plane, as you can imagine!) He is like his big brother, like Lego (especially when Damien built stuff and play with him) and the of course Xbox with is favorite game "Lego Star wars" which he love. He want to play guitar, like Damien, probably because his big brother is his Hero (when he isn't the meanest "Dude" ever) ;-)
So here you got all of our news, or most of it. Oh... well we did get a new addition to our family. Zima came in July and is a very happy and cute Maltese Dog. Morgane love her to death and always have to kiss her. Damien love to make her bark and Rafael always try to run away from her in the morning. Go wonder.
I guess we are blessed to have a happy and healthy family. Wishing all of you the best for the year 2008 and the years to come. Good health, fortune and happiness. Hope to hear from you soon.