Day 298: Freedom Isn’t Free

War. Evil. Tyranny. Hate.

Nobody likes it, but it exists.

Yin and Yang.

My generation really felt it on 9-11 and we felt it again at the Boston marathon, just recently. Jeff’s grandad felt it and lived it in 1944, and survived WWII. He is a hero.

To visit the war sites around Normandy leaves you wondering and thinking and imagining what it could have been like for the soldiers and their families. The sense of fear and loss is unimaginable, even when you see it. History is not my passion yet I know I need to understand and learn more and continue to make the connections. I also like to focus on the positive, but I’m not naive. There are bad people and we cannot allow evil to be stronger than the good.

“For no one is to forget the heroism of those men who defied the impossible for our freedom.”

Freedom isn’t free. We have so much to learn from those who serve in our military. These men and women can teach us what it means to be selfless, to sacrifice, to keep moving forward despite the struggles, to be disciplined and compassionate, focused and respectful. The people that fought for our freedom gave up their freedom, the comforts of their homes and families, to serve others. And so many gave up their lives.

We can be advocates of goodwill. We can create peace in our time by following their examples. We can and should serve others and show compassion and be a little less self centered. By giving of our time and resources, we can help create peace in our time, right now.

How can we be of service? I think when we chose to serve others we actually create joy and peace for ourselves as well. We have nothing to lose.

Today we visited Grandcamp Maisy, Ranger Museum, Maisy Battery, Utah Beach, and St. Mere Eglise. We also saw Brecourt Manor. Here are a few pictures from these historical sites.







Wishing you peace and love.

Goodnight, from Mont Saint-Michel.

Day 297: Normandy, France

20130518-230002.jpgWe made it to Normandy this afternoon. The sun was finally shining again, which helped to improve my mood. I’ve been grouchy for several reasons. I am homesick and sick and a bit tired. Kimmy’s graduation is today and I want to be there and not where I am. My volleyball girls had a weekend getaway and I missed it! I feel torn today and down, and it’s taken me longer than usual to snap out of it.

I have to really practice being present today and its been a struggle. Just keeping it real. I helped myself by thinking of Jeff’s granddad and the other soldiers who were probably so uncomfortable day after day, fighting the Germans, and all the sacrifices they had to make. Seriously, I have nothing to complain about and my discomfort is kinda stupid. I’m over myself… Just like that. Thanks for listening. 🙂

We started our day at Omaha beach, after a long drive from Lisse. We landed and walked on the beach, imagining the hell that others experienced there and not quite comprehending it all.


After Omaha Beach, we drove to see the American Cemetery on the bluffs above Omaha Beach. That takes your breath away. Seeing all the headstones makes the numbers of casualties pop out at you and you can feel the sheer magnitude of loss and the human sacrifices that were made to fight evil.


We walked through the entire field of headstones, noticing when people died, what state they were from and what their names where. We noticed how many more Christians than Jews were buried there.


And we imagined PopPop fighting with the allies through Europe and are so thankful he survived the battle. We looked at the wall maps and Jeff pointed out the areas where PopPop landed and traveled with the 3rd army through France and Germany. Thank you PopPop for your years of service and thank you MamMam for keeping the family strong and together.


While there, we ran into our friends and enjoyed sharing stories and our experiences so far. I was so happy to see them and can’t believe we were at the same place at the same time. We made plans to meet up for dinner afterwards in Bayeux.
But before we got to Bayeux, we checked into our hotel and went to see Pointe Du Hoc.


This is where the US Army rangers scaled the cliffs and seized the German gun emplacements. The kids loved this area because it was on the edge of the ocean and was filled with craters and bunkers that they could run around in and on top of.

It’s crazy to think that the craters were created by bombs and naval gunfire.


I finally snapped out of my funk at PDH. The kids were happy to be running around and exploring the craters and bunkers and I enjoyed watching them play. I think being near the ocean helps too! The views were gorgeous and calming.

We drove 30 minutes to Bayeux and met up with Bob and Greg for a late dinner. Bayeux is a magical town, and we arrived in time to catch some love entertainment both before and after dinner. I’ll leave you with a few pictures from the end to a great, long day.

Happy graduation day, Kimmy!




Goodnight, from France.

Day 296: Traveling the Hard Way

We are learning the hard way today.

We are tired and have been traveling quite a bit, and we aren’t quite done yet. In Holland, they have these four day weekends twice during the month of May and we want to take advantage of the extra days off to explore Europe while we can.

But the trouble is we’ve been playing hard since April and the kids are burned out and I’ve been sick. So what would you do? I know the logical thing to do would be to stop traveling but that doesn’t feel right either.

So we pushed through all the complaints and reasons not to go and decided to go anyway. But then once we got on the highway, our engine light and TCS light turned on before we even got to Abcoude. Luckily the Honda Dealer was just around the corner and I called to tell them we were on our way and could they please see us right away!! The good news is that it was 4:30 pm and they were still open. The bad news is we have a problem with our transmission and our minivan has to stay overnight for several days!!

The Honda dealer doesn’t sell or rent minivans or anything close to as big, and ours was loaded down with five suitcases, snacks, DVDs, pillows, blankets and personal backpacks for everyone. How were we going to get out of there? Luckily they were able to get the biggest possible car from an outside agency and we were able to cram everything in, kids too.


Right before this all happened, I learned that the four or five hour drive I was expecting tonight was really a 7+ hour drive. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy already. Now we were hugely delayed! What to do?

We drove back home, ate the sandwiches we had packed and reloaded the car dropping off extra stuff so we’d be more comfy in our now cozier vehicle packed side by side! We worked hard through a family struggle to decide whether to go or not go and when to go, tonight or tomorrow. It wasn’t easy, but we decided to cancel our reservation for tonight and made a new reservation half way closer.

We decided we couldn’t give up the fight to get there to see and experience Normandy, despite the struggles.

Normandy, here we come.