Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Waiting and Watching

The flight path into the airport is right over our house.
Somedays that's a little tough. Somedays it's not noticable at all.
But when we're expecting visitors, let's say, people who's names start with "grand"
then the flight path becomes an entire different issue.
Shouting out with each overhead pass an assurance "that's them!"
"I saw them waving at me!"
"We have to get to the airport- they are going to beat us!"
"Was that their flight?"
"How many more planes until they land?"
"What day do we pick them up?"
"How many more minutes?"
We're all looking forward to the visit with grandma and grandpa Hill.
Cousin Kelsey is making the trip this time as well.
Grandma, Grandpa, Cousin Kelsey- we'll see you when you get here,
or a few moments before. Looking forward to it.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Round 2

Getting this bugger to his 21st birthday is gonna be some kinda challenge...
Less than 2 weeks after the stitches were removed from the last fiasco, (a gash at 3am above the right eye)
Arleigh was headed right back to the ER again.
This time, he fell down a heating duct in our house.
This curious cat picked up the metal grate which covers the vent,
and fell head first down the hole.
It was not pretty, and this time, mommy didn't stop to take a photo, as he had clear signs of a concussion.
In fact, he was diagnosed with a concussion at the hospital. He had stitches added to the top of his forhead and steri strips placed on a smaller cut too. They also gave him a sedative to calm him, and aid in amnesia, so he wouldn't "remember the trauma."
The doc said inducing a bit of amnesia would help "so that next time he had to come to the ER for stitches, it won't be so scary".
Does anyone else see the irony in that?
Let's hope that he at least remembers not to do that again.
We're frequenting the ER waaaay too much!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paintings for Sale on Stella's Blog

So, she did it. She asked for a blog. She asked for supplies. She hopes for a little income (which she'll need to continue restock her painting supplies).
We love that she's trying to be resourceful, use her talents, and is actually working for it.
Here's her first lot of paintings for sale, which she has completed on her own. There are more, drying on top of my freezer, and others which she intends to complete soon. Watching her work in both oil and acrylic is tricky. Mostly because we have to keep Arleigh occupied while she works. He's curious. It's dangerous business, not to mention difficult. Like most moms, I want to store all the glorious works of art my kids produce, from squiggles in crayon to canvases packed with paint representing work and sometimes a few tears.
I hope, for the sake of encouragement, that this goes well enough for her. (and well enough for me, that Arleigh doesn't break into the oil paints.) If not, certainly there will be lessons to learn all around.
In the meantime, here's her blog..

Monday, July 11, 2011

We camped at a Castle ~Le Brevedent

For our latest adventure, we set out into France. Specifically Normandy and Brittany regions to tour and simply relax. ...Well, as relaxing as it can get with 4 rowdy kids in tow.
We 'base camped' at a castle called Le Brevedent, nestled among winding back roads in Normandy near Liseaux.  Really, the castle seemed more of a large French chateau, yet the grounds were pleasant and accommodating.

Madame Gurry is said to come downstairs in the castle to visit the campers on Sunday nights, during which time she tells a curious and slightly tall tale of how the castle and eventual campground came to be. Stella and I waited with other campers to hear her tell us a story, but she cancelled her appearance that night and we never got to hear what she had to say. I'd loved to have seen her- can you imagine having campers live in your back yard all summer long?

An entire range of camping at castles exists here and with this experience being so pleasant, we may just try to venture to another castle camping ground on our next trip.

D-Day history in France, Omaha Beach, US cemetery, Caen, Pointe du Hoc

Matt wanted to make a trip to Normandy to visit WW II places since we arrived in Europe. This summer seemed the logical time to go ahead and plan that Normandy trip. I openly admit, I was not exactly looking forward to this visit, and definitely didn't want the kids to be exposed to "World War". Yes, it happened.  Yes it's history. But I didn't know what we might come upon and  prefer to have the opportunity to pick and choose what they encounter regarding military, militia, weapons, holocaust etc. We're planning a visit to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam though, so a general explanation and careful introduction to the World War history would help segway things a bit.

(Omaha Beach at sunset)
The visit turned out to be quite moving. It's a surreal experience to stand on the beaches where war took place. (This was the case in Guam as well.)   Especially hard to grasp because life is so incredibly peaceful in those places now. If those men had known their fate, they should have also known the peace, playfulness, and laughter from children on places like Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, and Caen today.

Omaha Beach- D Day landings took place here and on nearby beaches all around. A long and open beautiful beach today. We actually camped one night just above the beach on an overlook.  The kids found seashells and played in the pools of seawater left behind by the tide.

Does anyone know what this seashell is called? We found several, in delicate yet perfect condition. Arleigh though, crushed them. Addie cried....

On to the US cemetery, where Christian and Jewish gravestones marked endless lives. The stones stretched from the ocean where they landed all the way into the forest behind. Each marked with the date of death, hometown, and name. Or they were marked for unknown soldiers.

We asked the kids to be sure to mind the signs for "silence and respect". As we were leaving though, I caught a glimpse of this....

I have to believe that if those soldiers could look up from their tombstones, they'd have chuckled too.
(and FYI we did stop to pull those short up to a more respectable level).

Caen had a moving museum, with free childcare for kids. They said at the entrance that it was not appropriate for kids to go through the museum and I'm glad we heeded their advice. Cold, black and white images of hangings, the horror of Holocaust, and starving women and children were located throughout. Matt and I perused the museum a bit, but missed having the kids with us. At lunchtime, we decided to pull them from the childcare and move on to something the entire family could do.

We found a museum that, although not so sophisticated, seemed to meet our needs and was safe for the kids viewing.

Pointe du Hoc was well worth the venture beyond Omaha beach. It lies just a few miles to the west of Omaha Beach and was the point where US Rangers scaled tall cliffs to take possession of the area.
 The kids were able to climb into and out of holes left by bombs. This kinda thing puts D-Day, what the soldiers faced, and the cost of American lives into perspective...

St Malo, Etretat, Honfleur, & Deauville, France

Ok, so how awesome is that? Need a chocolate? We deliver! (and note that front rack- they can deliver a whole lotta chocolates!)

The style of arcitechture in northern France, all over Normandy was just beautiful.
 Lunch in Honfleur- galettes for everyone and bowls of farm cider for mom and dad.... Bon Apetitie!
If it wasn't crepes or galettes, then it was moules and frittes- so yummy!

 In Honfleur, we stumbled upon a weekend market meandering around an old church. I could have spent all day preusing the market.
 This was one of my favorite finds- (I didn't buy it, as it would have been a little much on top of the car with all the camping gear eh? This chair just oozed with character though. The patina, it's worn look- even the stuffing coming out of the cushion screamed "take me home and love me!" It would fit right in around home...even look like the 4 kids have gotten to it already.

 Etretat, where we kicked off our shoes and played on the rocky beach for a few hours. We'd hoped the tide would go out far enough for us to walk under the natural arches, but we didn't make it. Perhaps next time?

The above photo is the view from the church in the photo below...

 This scooter in St. Malo was just too cute not to photograph. Loved the color too!
A castle in St Malo, which rises up from the sand as if it's the town sand castle on display. In fact it is now a museum, which we skipped so that we could play outside in the rocks instead.

 Funny to me how kids can just be comfortable anywhere. Seriously. Anywhere. Here, Arleigh had an ice cream cone and just plunked himself right down in the middle of a street to eat it. Then, Emory plunked down beside him to help with any drips from that cone!?!? We're so lucky that it was largely a pedestrian area and cars were fairly sparse.
 At least the girls got to the curb before they tuckered out for a break.
Everything in St Malo is built from stone because the town once burned almost completely in a fire. After the fire a law was made that everything within the city walls would be built from stone. Sounds cold right? Actually it was quite lovely- Addie's favorite city so far.
We exited St Malo with walk upon the ramparts of the town, offering beautiful views over the tidal bay.
The tides had such an influence on everything costal. Watching boats get "beached" by the outgoing tide took a little getting used to, but we watched it occur daily over the course of the trip through France.

Le Mont Saint Michel

Le Mont Saint Michel, a tidal island in northern France, has history dating back to the 5th century. Once an abbey, then a prison, and now a national historical monument and UNESCO site, this little commune island was well worth the trip.

A church choir group from the US, also must have felt it well worth the trip.
They traveled across the ocean to come here to preform for strangers.
We were lucky to enjoy a few minutes of their music as well.

These biscuit tins were just so darn fancy schmancy that I was drooling over them..not for the biscuits inside at all, but for the fun of having such a cool tin. We passed off though- at 20 euro a tin, I had to sadly, begrudgingly,  decided to remember them via a photo instead.