Wednesday, August 29, 2012

little S C O T T I E dog

This might possibly be the sweetest story I've heard in a while. Dad, it might bring a tear to your eye.

My friend, Alesia sent me all of these pictures. What would I do without her? I don't want to even imagine.

She's gotten me through this first month of Justin being in Kansas with daily emails, messages and phone calls.

Sunday, Justin told us about this little guy. Meet Scottie dog. The boys named him Timothy (?) but, I think Scottie makes more sense since it is their school mascot.

Timothy? Where did that come from?

A stray dog, he somehow found the boys and has been hanging around campus and the football players since school started.

Skinny and obviously lost {or abandoned}, they said he's super sweet and super smart. I think they even said he sits, rolls over, stays and actually listens.

It's against the rules to have a dog in their apartment, but somehow he managed to find his way to their third-story porch day after day.

Not only that, Justin said he followed them everywhere.
When they went to practice, he followed and waited outside for them.
He waited while they were in classes.
He hung out at the gym waiting for them to finish.

Saturday during their first game, little guy decided to go out on the field and parked it (laid down) on the 40-yard line. They couldn't get him off the field- the trainer had to go pick him up and carry him off so they could resume playing.

Fines for breaking the rules are a big thing at HCC, so they had to be careful not to get caught feeding him.

Alesia and Ken decided to bring him home after the game Saturday. They've got him settled at their house and are going to get him checked out at the vet. No doubt, he'll be spoiled.
They've already fallen in love with him and said he's such a good dog. I'm sure we would have done the same even being a big dog with lots of hair. How sweet are those little paws? Alesia said they have a dog house for him and even a pillow, but he prefers this cozy spot on the swing.

As soon as Justin told me what was going on, I kept thinking of how he managed to find our boys. Two big boys {Justin and Payton} who both really are missing their dogs at home. It will be fun to see if he recognizes the boys when they have a break and head down to Haysville.

I can't help but think they helped each other out a little through this last tough month.

Yes, it's been one month.
Seems longer than that. Doesn't it?

Monday, August 27, 2012

H O T cookies after school

I've got warm cookies straight out of the oven ready for these little guys to get home from their first day of school!
Chocolate chip chunk.
Chocolate chip, oatmeal.
White chocolate, cranberries & macadamia nut.


Oh happy day!

I might possibly been the one who enjoyed back to school the most.

Can't wait to hear what they thought.

Justin took a picture of himself (for me) last week on his first day of school.
As soon as I get it, I'm sure I'll have to share.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Justin's first C O L L E G E game

Here is the link for the live stream of Justin's football game tonight. They have him playing on offense as a Tight End- his jersey is #82.

Highland is playing Ft. Scott. Kick-off is at 7pm Kansas time, 2am here in Central Europe. I was told they will start their live broadcast around 6:30 (CST). The radio guy supposedly likes to talk.

It's a rebuilding year for HCC with a new coaching staff working to turn things around. The head coach has an impressive resume of turning programs and they were able to bring a lot of recruits in.

We'll see what happens!

Tonight's game is their season opener and an important conference game.
I'm nervous already.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

6'4" & 210 pounds

He made the roster!
With 125 kids for camp and try-outs, Justin made the game roster of 55 kids.
We are SO proud!

82 Justin Dickey TE 6'4 210 Haysville, KS FR

Looks like he'll be #82 this season. He worked hard for that jersey and his slot. SO proud!!

First game is this Saturday night, August 25 at Highland.

They are streaming games live: the link is below. The game starts at 7pm Kansas time which means 2am in Germany. I'd like to think we'll go to bed Saturday night, set the alarm and get up to listen.

Something tells me I'm going to be so excited, I might not be sleeping before hand.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

M I S E A U pool

It's been a heat wave here in Deutschland this week.
We know it's been a HOT summer all over the US this year- we're getting a little of it now as well.

In our little Mackenbach grocery store the other day, the headline on a newspaper said, "Deutschland Sahara."

They must think it's hot, too.

My little Oma across the road yesterday told me, "This is German summer." I think it lasts a total of about two weeks.

The only difference is there is NO air conditioning in Germany.


Ty and Chantelle
I love it (of course) because I can spend most days at the pool. Jim and anyone else who has to work in an office is miserable. They're so hot.
We've found a couple beautiful outdoor pools here- Miseau being my absolute favorite pool and something I've never seen in the US.

This means- stop taking my picture, let me swim! The swirly is behind him... so much fun!
The three pools that we like are all similar and all within 20 minutes of our house.

We have been rotating between the three.

It seems in the US, most pools we've been to are either a simple pool and maybe a diving board or simple slide, or a full-blown water park which costs a pretty penny.

Like everything else German, it's super clean- bathrooms included which is huge.

This pool is stainless steel- the entire thing. Another thing I've never seen.

I told Jim when (haha) we put a pool behind our dream house, I want it done this way.

He said the maintenance is low, but probably a little expensive.

Looks really good.

Here at Miseau they have laps lanes, a baby area totally separate, a slide with a shallow non-swimmer area, a super cool swirly round thing with jets that push you around (super fun), bubble massage chairs in the water, a jetted area, and diving boards with a deep end.

That's just the pool area.

Around the pool is tons of grass and tons of shade on the outer edge to camp out. There is also a soccer area (of course, we're in Europe), playground equipment, food, showers- indoor and out, dressing rooms, and a whole playground area with equipment. 

We don't leave the pool area- it's too hot not to stay in the water.

All of this for less than $2 each for the whole day. Plus, Caden's free. I can't go anywhere that cheap! We pack our cooler with sandwich stuff, snacks and drinks- we're set for the day.

You can always take any of your own food in anywhere even when they sell food at the Imbiss here. Very, very nice.
Last week of vacation for these boys- we're trying to soak up the sun! Our lazy days are almost over.

Monday, August 20, 2012

road-side A R T

This round-a-bout decor made me laugh every single time we drove by! Southern France, baby!

Friday, August 17, 2012

N A K E D really is the norm

I don't think this falls into the negative or positive category as far as our experiences in France. It's the culture. No big deal.

I spent quite a bit of time researching the beaches of southern France.
Knowing this would be our focus, it was difficult with so many to choose from. Before we left, I found a guide to the beaches of the area we were visiting- Languedoc.
With more than forty to choose from right in our immediate area, we had quite the variety.
The review I had rated each beach as excellent, good, ok and bad. I'm still not sure I believe there is such thing as a bad beach.
We managed to hit four beaches in the area.
All were different.
All were fun.
All were wonderful and memories were created.
Not bad for a week-long trip.
First up, we hit the beach closest to our house. Marseillan Plage was a quick 20-minute drive and first up on our agenda.
The review said, "The beach at Marseillan Plage looks and feels very much like Cap D'Agde's- except that its bathers aren't nude." Remember my posting about Cap D'Agde- I told you we were right next to it.
The sand was fine, it was close and wasn't a naturist beach so we decided to go for it.
In my mind, I thought that not being listed as a naturist beach, everyone would have a suit on. Boy, was I wrong. It's hard to go anywhere here without boobs hanging out.
All kinds of boobs at that hanging at all different levels. 
our happy Coleman swimming in th ecrystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea
The beach was beautiful- boys were happy. Sun was shining and warm, but the water was freezing. We were in the Mediterranean Sea after all.

My friend Stacey and I decided to go for a walk down the beach. Into our conversation, I looked up and noticed a completely nude couple getting out of the water.
Then, we gazed across the sand to see that everyone else was completely nude at the same time we noticed the sign saying we were leaving Marseillan Plage and now on the naturalist side.
We turned around knowing we wouldn't be welcome with our suits on.
Taking ours  off wasn't really an option either.
The funny thing is, after day one, we didn't really care if they were listed as naturist or not.
We hit both and saw all types. I don't think any of the boys were really shocked at seeing anything.
After about the first hour, I'm not sure they even noticed as a set of exposed boobs walked by.
They were too busy playing in the sand, swimming and collecting treasures.
At least the little boys that is.
Marseillan Plage was only listed as ok.
The other three beaches we would visit were all rated excellent.
Oh, I love an excellent beach.
Oh, I love a good one, too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

D R I V E R S are horrendous

The drivers in France, specifically the French are horrendous. Or, as Jim says- French drivers are something else really, really bad. It didn't help on our last trip the bulk of it was in France.
somewhere in France... I think near Lyon or Dijon
What was supposed to be an 8 1/2 hr drive (all but less than one hour in France) ended up being about eleven {11} hours driving home with staus, toll clusters and just the fact we were in France. 
We've grown quite fond of the Autobahn.
Not just being able to literally drive 100 miles per hour, but this is another area that we think the Germans definitely do well.
Don't get me wrong, I like the 100 mph too! I think I might have been born for the Autobahn.
Aah... back in Germany with the fast lane for passing and the FAST cars
The fast lane is for going fast. Super fast, and they do. Once they cruise by- they move over.
 It's a fine system of common sense and head's up driving.
We like it a lot.
In France, or at least the parts we visited- they have no common sense. I think we're safe to make that generalization after twenty-one hours just getting there and coming home along with the day trips and other time spent driving for this trip.
At least ten times (maybe twenty), we saw cars changing lanes with the wrong blinker on.
Justin's great at adding entertainment while stuck in traffic...his dad looks thrilled, agree?
After noticing it several times, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt thinking it must be something else they do.
Jim's since convinced me they just don't pay attention. It was more than a little irritating.
For example, they would turn their left blinker on, then cut to the right lane. Then, they leave it on until they remember to turn it off.
What frustrated Jim more than anything was when everyone would putz in the fast lane with two other slower lanes wide open.
I don't know how many times Jim had to switch to the middle lane to pass someone. 
France with the fast lane clogged up... this is the norm

I could have taken a dozen pictures like the one above with two slow lanes wide open and the fast lane clogged up.
The gold SUV here happens to be our friends who were going fast and on a mission to get back to Germany but stuck behind slow pokes.
It was the most horrible drive hands down for him as his blood pressure was definitely elevated.  That was highway driving as well.
Driving in town is way worse. I don't think we'll be going back to France any time soon.
At least that's what Jim says. I think he might be serious. Dead serious.

Monday, August 13, 2012

a kid's L I F E

While sipping his bedtime tea with warm blankets having just finished reading bedtime stories, Coleman announced just moments ago,

"Dad, just to tell you. A kid's life is much harder than an adult's."

Did he really just say that?
This kid?
I'm thinking maybe once he gets to college, he'll think differently. Maybe.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

F R E S H is fabulous

Justin's now on two-a-days practicing in the triple-digit heat of Kansas. He was prepared to work hard, but I'm not sure he was prepared for the competition. They're definitely in a pressure cooker.

Yesterday, he messaged that there are 55 spots for the game roster and 125 kids trying out. He also said, "Thanks for the support cause I really need it right now."

Our messages back have been to sleep, eat, DRINK, DRINK, DRINK and stay strong.
I'm trying to stay calm. Feels like I'm at camp too- it's been an exhausting week.

I thought today I'd switch my thinking and focus back to our trip to southern France.

Markets are popular in Europe.

France is no exception.

In our week there, we were able to catch a couple of them. 
The fresh farmer's market was amazing- perhaps our favorite. You had your pick of fresh meats, fish, fruits and vegetables all on one square.
As a port village, seafood is especially popular specifically the mussels and oysters. If we knew how to cook them, we would have bought them.
Instead, we focused on the amazing fruits and vegetables. We were not disappointed.  We first hit found the cantaloupe and artichoke guy.
 He tossed the melons to pick the best. His baby artichokes were 10 for 1 euro, or about $1.25. Delicious.
With stands all around, Jim happened upon a small corner inside with an old farmer and his produce. He bought a couple nectarines and a huge tomato.
Jim made the comment the old man knew how to garden- his stuff would be good.
We ran home, sliced open one of his white nectarines and are convinced it will likely be the best nectarine we will ever eat.
our favorite old man in France with the best fruit- hand's down
I don't think I've ever tasted a more perfect fruit. Love at first bite.
Of course, we ran back down before he closed up to grab up some more. He smiled when he saw us. Jim picked out another bag of nectarines and we tried our best to let him know how fabulous they were.
Merci, Merci, Merci is about all I know how to say.
As we paid our one or two dollars {or whatever insanely low price it was}, Jim told him {with hand-signal mixed with English, or course} to keep the change.
The change amounting to maybe 40 or 50 cents- very, very little.

The old man didn't know what to do as he tried to hand it back to Jim and Jim tried to let him know to keep it. In a little scurry, he reached over and grabbed two more peaches and handed them to us. It was very sweet. 
As we were leaving Marseillan, the market was open once again so we had to peek in and visit our favorite grower.
His eyes lit up as he saw Jim and he reached over to shake his hand, then mine.
We let him pick out a bag of peaches for us, then he showed Jim how to pick the sweetest cantaloupes.

As others had fancy registers and a little more modern technology, he had none of that.
With only his scale and a broken-off piece of chalk, he wrote out and added up the amounts of our purchase on the corner of his little plywood stand.
Shaking, his hands were huge and fingers almost as wide as two of Jim's showing a life of hard manual labor.
This time, as Jim paid- he looked around for someone to find with change. Jim let him know to keep it. Only a few dollars, he was obviously touched. Best money we spent all week.
With a complete language barrier- not understanding a word of what he said, I mostly watched the old man's eyes as he worked with Jim.
As he accepted our payment, his eyes filled up to the brim with tears.  

As Jim spoke in English and the old man in French, they seemed to understand each other. 

Sounds silly as we were just buying fruit, but for some reason- it was a little more than that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

downtown H I G H L A N D

He had options.
Choosing a school was a grueling choice for Justin.

On his whirlwind trip to Kansas looking at schools in January {with Jim}, he had a chance to meet coaches, look at dorms and check out financial packages that were put out on the table.

downtown Highland
Of the five schools he visited, Highland was the first he was ready to eliminate.

The private schools were very impressive with beautiful campuses and updated everything.

One school {Friends} had newer dorms which were more like luxury hotel room.

He was also impressed with the coaches and it helped that they threw it out there that he could likely play whatever position he wanted.

They were quite convincing making his decision that much harder.

At Highland, the Wellness Center was about the only thing he was impressed with. His time was limited with less than an hour to even to even talk with the coaches- most of the recruiting process took place over the phone.
their apartment building
Having his friend, Payton as the first to take the plunge and commit to Highland- Justin put them back in the running ultimately committing as well.

Justin's goal has always been to play Division 1 football. Getting noticed by coaches while living here is next to impossible.

He also knew if he signed with one of the four-year private colleges in Kansas, he would feel obligated to play there his whole four years.

That left him with the best option of playing at a junior college. It's a two-year program in which they focus on getting them ready to jump up to another school.

Highland is at bottom of the rankings {7th out of 8} in the Jayhawk league with a new coaching staff working to turn things around. Justin is a part of their first recruiting class. His head coach has an impressive resume and history of turning programs around and has stated several times they are going to do things the right way.
HCC field
We've only talked to Justin once this week. He was exhausted. They have them working out on the field and in the weight room with a maxed out schedule leaving very little free time.

He's been up early {5:30 the other day} and to bed late.

When I asked him what he needed he said, "A break."

Their apartment doesn't look super nice, but that's ok. Simple is sometimes good. There is nex tto nothing in Highland with a population of around 1,000.

Luckily, there is a Walmart in the next town.

Looking at pictures, the field looks mediocre at best. Thinking about it- that's all he really needs right now.

That being said, he smiled just about the whole twenty-minute conversation we had with him. He hasn't complained about a thing.

I know he hasn't even been there a week, but feel this is the first step to big things ahead. No distractions should make it easier for him to focus on school and football.

With his work ethic and drive, I can't wait to see what he does next.

We're so proud.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I think they're going to be ok. I knew they would be.
They're getting settled in their room and already started their work outs.
One of the first things they received was a schedule of events for this few weeks of camp.
With their first home game on the 25th, they have to work hard and fast.

It's kind of tough being seven hours ahead of Kansas. When we're getting ready to go to bed, things are just starting to happen there.
I've moved the laptop to our room and changed the settings so it doesn't automatically shut down. It's a new kind of waiting up to make sure he's ok.

Justin has sent quick messages home.
Last night he wrote, "...dont really have much time to talk in between all the things on the schedule. love you guys."
We know he's busy and still likely jet lagged and worn down.
He weighed in at 205 pounds which made him very happy. We've been working on that for six months.
Can't wait to see how much weight they can put on him.
Being the mom who take a million pictures of the silliest things, how lucky am I to have friends taking pictures for me? They know what I need to see!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

he's H E R E

He's here!!!!!!

It was the sweetest message I received all day. I felt a calm come over my entire body. My heart is so full right now.

I knew things would be ok. My appreciation for Facebook, Skype and modern technology jumped by leaps and bounds and has helped me through these last two and a half LONG days.

My appreciation for our friends and family has grown at the same time. I am truly humbled and feel blessed beyond words to have the friends and family we have. Without them this week, I'm not sure how I would have survived.

It was more than late flights, cancelled flights and hours spent on the runway not going anywhere. Justin left Germany sick and got more sick along the way.

Unable to keep anything down with a bundle of nerves is what worried me the most.

To be able to connect with each of them at a time of stress and crisis is something I will never forget.

* Becca in DC picked Justin up and took him home for three hours to sleep before taking him back to the airport. She had a Ginger Ale for him. She made sure his laptop was plugged in to charge. After more than an hour of looking for him, she sent me the message, "Found him!" which brought a huge sigh of relief. After filling me in on what was going on she wrote, "No problem, I know you guys would do the same for me :]"

* Jon in Chicago was on stand-by waiting and willing to do anything and everything he could to help if Justin got stuck there. When I let him know Justin might miss his connection this is the response I immediately received, "No problem. Just let me know and I will do what I can :)".

*Tay at KU was ready to jump in a heartbeat to get Justin's lost luggage and drive the 1 1/2 hr to HCC to deliver it if needed. After letting me know she would help in any way she could she wrote, "I have all the time in the world, do not worry about it :) it's about an hour and a half away, and I have a team ready to road trip if necessary :)".

* Messaging Justin's girlfriend Josie to let her know what was going on she was so calm and positive saying, "He'll be fine, he just has to get there!" One of her last sweet messages was, "Love you! And everything will be fine!!"

I love these kids.

Our friends Leslie & BJ also went way above and beyond to help. Les is a nurse and after I let her know I was worried about Justin, not sure what shape he would be in when he landed, she and BJ both jumped immediately to help.

She was working and still had time for me to call her. She told me which ER to send them to then called her friends there- filled them in on a sick Justin and assured me he would be well taken care of. As soon as they mentioned Leslie's name- they were taken right in with no wait and the best care.

I also got messages hours later from them checking to see how Justin was doing. Priceless.

Today, Justin moves into his new dorm room at college. He is rooming with Payton- a friend and teammate of his from Mulvane.

We became friends with his parents, Ken & Alesia soon after they moved to Mulvane. I think the boys were sophomores.

Life was always busy, but we enjoyed catching up and chatting at basketball, football and track meets.
I immediately clicked with Alesia and really enjoyed getting to know her. Little did I know at that time what paths our lives would take and how much she would end up doing for myself, Justin and our family. Even before this week, she had done so much including grocery shopping, taking a week off work and getting ready to take them to college.

We were told we had to fly Justin to Kansas City since it was the closest airport to his school. They agreed to pick him up without hesitation and drove three hours to get him. After hours and hours of waiting, they learned his flight was cancelled. They were able to get help from a manager, and let me know what was going on.

Alesia, Ken & Payton stayed in constant communication with both Justin and I throughout this this whole ordeal. I felt the reassurance from both Ken and Alesia that things would be just fine if he could just get there. They would do anything and everything he needed to take care of him. And they have done more.

Willing to do anything to help, they filed his bag claim then took him straight to the ER. Alesia stayed on her phone giving me constant updates of everything going on- even sending me the above picture of the boys. They filled his prescription.

She said his color was good. His spirits were high. He smiled big. They hugged him.
Things a mom needs to hear when she can't hold her son.

"Whatever he needs," she said.

I woke up to yet another message this morning letting me know he ate some BBQ chicken pizza and was doing well. Today, they'll take them up to school- should be a piece of cake after what he's been through.

For all of the blessing we received at this super tough time along with the Skype calls with family and email message of love from friends- I will be forever grateful.

It has to get easier. I know it will. This sending-a-kid-to-college gig is about killing me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

D E L A Y S in dc

Knowing Justin landed in Washington DC and checking online until about 2am to make sure he was ok, I fell asleep last night thinking he was on his way to Kansas City.

Justin's flights didn't quite go as planned.

I know he's exhausted.

From what I've gathered from talking to my friend and messages on facebook... they lost one suitcase somewhere between Frankfurt and Washington DC.

I'll never understand how this happens as he was on a straight shot between the two cities.

With weather in DC, they loaded the plane waited for who knows how long on the flight line, then cancelled the flight after multiple delays. Those flights are the worst. Hot. Sweaty. Screaming babies.

With friends waiting to pick him up in Kansas City {they drove three hours north from Wichita just to get him} they were finally told all flights were cancelled. Working with the manager in Kansas City, they got notes put in his reservation and were told we could book him straight to Wichita.

My baby boy- stuck in DC alone.

It was hard enough saying good-bye. Knowing he was stranded made my heart drop. I quickly discovered he made contact with a friend at the airport at that time looking for Justin to take him home.

What a blessing.

With the convenience of modern technology including facebook, iphones and texting- she was able to finally find him and get him home.

She even found a Ginger Ale for him as he left sick and isn't feeling any better.
More than anything, she was able to re-assure me that he was ok.
Over the phone, I was able to re-book him tomorrow to fly through Chicago to Wichita rather than Kansas City. We tried to initially fly him straight to Wichita and the military wouldn't do it.

As difficult as this last 24 hours has been and as worried as I am right now knowing his trip isn't over, I'm most grateful for wonderful friends both in DC and in KS without which I wouldn't know what to do.

He now has neither of his suitcases, but he has a bed to sleep on for a few hours and a new itinerary for tomorrow. It has to go better than today did for him.

It's a helpless feeling being across the ocean.

I'm pretty sure he won't ever forget being sent off to college for his first year.