Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 2 – Exploring WWI History in Belgium


(read about Day 1 here)

After gathering eggs and feeding the animals, of course, we headed to Flanders Field American Cemetery about 45 minutes from the farm.  It was a wonderful thing to see the American flag flying!  I think you don’t realize how much you miss it until you see it.  The grounds of the cemetery were so beautiful.  They really don’t show up in my pictures.  (I need some practice on my outside camera settings!)  The grass was so green and the sky was so blue. 

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I flipped back through the guest book quite a few years and was so excited to find Travis’ name from almost exactly three years prior.  It was so strange to think that we were standing in the same room in a tiny American cemetery in the country of Belgium.  I may or may not have cried … I blame pregnant hormones!


The kids were very excited to get to sign their own names in the book.  Mathis must have been in a hurry to get outside!  It felt strange to put England as our home address so I defaulted to Linthicum :)



The rows of crosses have such a strong impact!  We’ve decided wherever our travels take us to always make a point to visit the American cemeteries. 

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Kate picked flowers and left some from her bouquet amongst the others in the chapel.

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The ceiling of the chapel in the center of the cemetery. 


Another guest book to sign in the chapel.

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About 30 minutes away we drove through the town of Ypers.   The city was almost completely destroyed during World War I.  We were surprised to see the amazing architecture of this building and wondered how it could have escaped the destruction.


Later at a museum we saw this picture.  It was taken from a different angle, but you can see the impact of the devastation.  You can read about the destruction and rebuilding of the city here.


The kids were all asleep so we didn’t get out of the car, but we stopped in the town center and took a few pictures.  I thought the dormers on this building were pretty wild.


Next we were headed to a indoor/outdoor museum that had preserved trenches from the fighting during WWI, but first a stop for lunch. 

Peanut Butter and Jelly on Croissants … yum!IMG_3584

This outdoor Canadian memorial was next to our destination and was a great find. Bard’s grandfather was Canadian and fought in Europe in WWI.  He was wounded in a battle and left for dead only to be found later by an American ambulance, after the soldiers noticed he was still breathing.  Boy, am I thankful!!

We had brought along some of the boys guns and helmets and they took full advantage of using them.  The maple leaf in the wall is actually a little door that opened to reveal the guest book …. pretty clever, I thought! 



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IMG_3594Emerson pouting because they were only two guns and helmets.  Oh, waiting is so hard!













Kate preferred to spend her time picking bouquets of daffodils.





This lovely photo shoot went downhill when she discovered ants crawling out of the daffodils.  She managed to salvage some that seemed to be ant-free.  Emerson also decided to make the best of his waiting time and found some sticks to act as guns.

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The kids listening to Bard talk about his grandfather.

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IMG_3624We spent the afternoon at Sanctuary Wood Museum and it was one of the highlights of our trip.  These trenches are original to WWI.  After the fighting was over the farmer who owned this land came back to his property and chose not to fill in the craters and trenches he found.  There have been reinforcements made since then, of course, but the trench layout is original.  It included a very interesting museum put together in an old house.  Many of the artifacts were discovered as the owner resumed farming.  The museum is currently run by the grandson of the farmer. 


We were only able to make it through about half of the trenches because of the water, but it was interesting to see what the soldiers were faced with when they lived in the trenches.IMG_3636


There was much battle reenacting with Emerson the self proclaimed General :)   Here he’s giving the boys the go ahead to attack.



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Mathis retrieving the wounded …

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Even Generals get tired …




Heading home …

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I thought for sure that I had some video of the kids here.  I’ll add it later if I find it :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Week 2 with Sweet Eliza*

*written last week

Life with a newborn …. ahhh.  It’s been a lovely week here in our tiny village.  I’ve been so blessed to spend so much time with Eliza during these first few weeks.  These newborn days pass so quickly and we understand that much more now that we have four older children.  We all spend every minute we can admiring Eliza.   There has been a bit of contention between Bard and Kate as to who gets to hold Eliza when I’m willing to give her up :)




Bard is still home from work and has been keeping us all happy with amazing meals.  I’m a little afraid to get back in the kitchen for fear that my cooking skills are too rusty!  

cookie 2I did venture in yesterday to make this amazing skillet cookie.  If you eat weird food like us, you’ll love it :)   Even if you don’t, you should give it a try, it’s just soooo good!

This entire pregnancy, I was never able to shake that nauseous feeling when it came to food, and I wasn’t eating much.  Thankfully, Eliza’s arrival brought an end to that, and I feel like I’ve eaten more in the past two weeks than I have in months!  It feels very good :) 


We’ve had some sweet friends bring us some lovely meals and we’ve received the cutest gifts for Eliza.  She even has her first raincoat … perfect!  We’re so grateful to have wonderful friends here in England! 

Kate and the boys were the recipients of some gifts also.  A lady at our church hand painted this bag for Kate.  Kate said today, “I just love being a big sister.  I could sit here all day and look at her!”  The boys got the neatest book of airplanes to construct.  They had the best time making and flying them.  There was even a pink one that they gave to Kate. 


Jackson was sure to tell Eliza all about the airplane book :) IMG_5193


















Jackson loves to hold his sister.  On Tuesday he came down with a fever and was throwing up.  We were expecting all of the other kids to get sick also and had to quarantine Eliza to our bedroom.  After 24 hours (and a long night for Bard and Jackson) Jackson started improving and we were so thankful none of the other kids got sick.  It was very hard for them to not be able to hold or kiss Eliza and they were excited that they were cleared by Mama today!


Eliza’s first bath.  We could probably count on two hands the number of times Eliza has cried.  When she was first born she gave out a healthy cry and since then we’ve barely heard a peep out of her.  When she gets upset she wiggles and squirms and grunts.  If she lets out a little squeak, we know she’s really serious!   We expected her to fuss or cry a bit when we took her out of the bath, but nary a peep.  I can deal with that!