Monday, May 30, 2011

Thoughts on Normandy

This Memorial Day I am thinking about our trip last June to Normandy. I am jumping ahead a little bit in my journal-ing of our vacation to bring you some photos of this spectacular place.

Never have I been so moved and humbled by a location before. The sites we visited were truly awe inspiring. To see first hand those beaches in which our brave soldiers fought so gallantly was amazing and eerie. To think how horrible those landings were and to see how far and long the beaches were at low tide and then the cliffs they had to climb once they reached the shore was unbelievable. World War II movies come close to capturing the horror, but it is all too much to take in when standing there thinking of what it must have been like. Rows and rows of brave dead men and you can't help but be moved and feel patriotic. I found this section of France particularly to be very welcoming to Americans. The French get a bad rep in the eyes of many Americans, but those in this region remember well, first hand or through stories, what the Americans did for them. There are just as many American flags flying in this region as French. I highly recommend any American tourist to travel to this location and spend a few days, if not a week or so, seeing all the sights. A special place to remember this Memorial Day weekend.

Iron Mike - a memorial just outside of St. Mere-Eglise

This is just one of the many bridges that our troops fought to keep control of. Amazing how small it is and yet how important. The paratroopers (from the story Band of Brothers) were the ones to land here.

The church in St. Mere-Eglise. If you look closely you can see the fake para-trooper hanging from the troop. This is a memorial to a solider for whom this actually happened to. He hung up there while fighting commenced all around him. After 2 hours he was cut down by the Germans and taken prisoner. He was later released to the Americans. You can read the story HERE.

Stained glass windows in the church with para-troopers surrounding the Virgin Mary.

The girls at the Airborne Museum in St. Mere-Elgise

The writing on the wall at the American cemetery in Normandy. Such powerful words.

This place was sad, beautiful, moving, haunting, and all around amazing. This was the American cemetery in Normandy. Just out past the graves you see the beaches of Omaha Beach. Go HERE to read more about this awe-inspiring place.

The memorial at Omaha Beach.

We went to go walk the beach and were greeted by hundreds of these little jellies. IF the war wasn't bad enough, to be greeted by a beach full of these babies would have just added to the struggle of the day.

Point du Hoc
This location lends itself to another story of valor and bravery. Read about it HERE.

Entrance to one of the artillery bunkers

Us next to one of the bomb craters.

Utah Beach in the morning low tide. Look how far it is to the water.

Utah Beach at sunset. Look how much farther still to the water... So scary to think about all those brave men so exposed for so long when getting off those boats. How brave they must have been.

I have many more pictures from this area. This was just the tip of the iceberg. I was never a big World War II buff and certainly didn't know (and still don't know) all the stories, but there is so much to learn here about some many brave men. You can just be driving down the side of the road and see a monument to a hero that died doing something that helped his battalion or group get to where they needed to be. We hear so many times about specific main battles and main heroes, that we forget all the ones that go un-mentioned. This place memorializes them all. Well all they know about. Truly a patriotic place and one we as Americans can be very proud of.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our house on Whittier Lane

Tomorrow, May 27th, we close on our house on Whittier Lane. In many ways I am excited because in this market I was worried it would take forever and a day for it to sell, and I am ready to be a permanent CA resident. On the other hand, it was a great house and I will miss it. Going through all my photos from the past 6 years, I admit I am sitting here tearing up writing this post. We have had a great 6 years there. Aside from the loss of some loved ones that took place during those 6 years, it was a wonderful, happy, perfect time in our lives.

We moved into the house on Whittier Lane in April of 2005. We built and designed this house from the ground up. We chose the lot and everything in between. Right down to the knobs on every drawer. It was our baby.

Our 1st Christmas in the house.

Speaking of babies, when we moved in Sarah had just turned 15 months. We loved raising her in this beautiful home with a lovely nursery and lots of room for her to crawl around in (although we had her caged in most of the time!). It is also the home we brought Lauren home to from the hospital in 2007.

The girls have enjoyed so many happy times in this house.
From birthday parties...

(Yes, we had a pinata in the foyer)

Halloween costume pictures in the front yard...

to camping in the back yard...

to helping me in the kitchen....

random silliness....

everyday life.....

to cheering on our Horned Frogs to a Rose Bowl victory!

Our house was so beautiful anytime of year. My favorite was spring because that as when everything was in bloom. Including my beloved hydrangeas.

If I could have brought them with me I would have. I will have them growing here in no time though. The climate here actually suits them better!

It was also gorgeous in the winter when we had our snows. I will NEVER forget the magical Christmas Eve in 2009 when it snowed all day. The warmth and love and coziness I felt that day was palpable and unforgettable.

I also will never forget the day it snowed 13 inches and we were caught in a full on snowpocalypse.

We had many great times at our house celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, 4th of July pool parties, my 30th birthday and my husband's 40th birthday. We also had a bridal shower there, many many play dates, and watched countless Cowboy losses throughout the years.
My family gatherings were my favorite and that is the number one thing we miss most about moving.

We also miss having our friends over....

and their kids.

I will always have a special place in my heart for our house on Whittier Lane. What happy, happy times we had there. In some ways I think how could I ever move from OUR home where we made so many memories....but I have to always remember that home is the family and not just the shell of a house. We will have a happy home and create happy memories where ever we are.

And what a beautiful place we find ourselves in now to start that next chapter!

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