Entries from November 1, 2012 - November 30, 2012

Monday
Nov262012

1000 years of history, 3 countries, 2 days.. 

Are you ready for a whirlwind tour of all things war and European destruction? That's what you do when you've got 3 boys, ages 10 - 15 to entertain for a couple of days :)

Our good friends from Paris came for a couple of days at the beginning of our fall break. She's got 2 boys, ages 11 and 15, and her youngest is a war buff (as is my son), so we decided it would be good to hit a couple of key sites within 2 hours or less from Brussels.

First up was Waterloo. We've climbed the "Butte de Lion" but haven't watched the movies there or visited the museum in downtown Waterloo that we've passed dozens of times. The movies were really well done and helped us to better understand the Battle of Waterloo and it's key players. And after witnessing all that Napolean has destroyed in the last year all over Europe, I was happy to finally re-learn the history of this battle that was his ultimate defeat. Gold stars for the Bristish and Prussians!
The museum was less impressive. It was informative, but just not as interactive and "new" as some of our favorite museums that we've visited. It was fun creaking around in the actual house that Wellington stayed in though..


The next day, we'd planned a marathon route. First stop was Luxembourg where we toured the "casemates", which are tunnels in the original rock/wall which have been used in over 1000 years of the defense of the city. They close for the winter, so we'd missed them on our last trip. However, as you can tell, it was cold and rainy and we feel like we need to go ONE more time in the summer to really enjoy this little gem of a country.. so don't be surpised if you see Luxembourg one more time before we leave Europe!

Anyway.. the kids had a blast in the tunnels and could have stayed much longer.
All the while, I was taking in the fall view!

The bulk of the day, however, was spent in Verdun, France. Verdun was the site of a 10 month battle between the Germans and French in 1916 (WWI). Almost ONE MILLION were killed or wounded during those 10 months, more than twice the amount of US killed in all of WWII on all fronts. There were 116,000 unnamed soldiers whose bodies were buried or whose bones are under the monument (Which you can view thru small windows). It is very moving and overwhelming to say the least. We drove for miles around the battlefields and passed markers of villages that were decimated and never rebuilt. There are trenches, bunkers and bombed hills that still remain almost 100 years later. We visited the Verdun Memorial Museum, and it kept the kids interest, explaining and bringing together all that we'd seen outside that afternoon.

Our history-buff boys really enjoyed the day. And while my geeky history inner nerd was fascinated as well, I must say my mom instincts kick in when I see so many graves, so many young lives lost. Especially during WWI, there was a huge amount of nationalism and pride and these boys without a clue of the conditions that awaited them. And that is why we go. To remember and pay homage. And for our kids to see that it's not just fun holes to run around in, but vast graveyards scattered with the blood of someone's son, dad, brother.


Whew. So there you have it. 1000 years of history, 3 countries and 2 sobering days.
We enjoyed spending time with our Parisian friends and look forward to happier reunions in the future!
Speaking of happier.. 2 things.
1. someone is turning ELEVEN in my house tomorrow. His first birthday in Belgium and our first foray into having a tween in the house. Eek!
2. The whole family has decided that 2013 will be less touring of death and destruction and more European adventure, outdoors and culture, SO, stay tuned...   :)

Saturday
Nov242012

Looking back at Rocky Brook... 

A few more photos to share from our last days in Kingwood, TX. It's hard to believe it's been a year since we officially left our home (and then lived in limbo for another 3 weeks until our plane left).
So many fun memories on Rocky Brook!

I love that we girls are sporting our tans and sundresses in October. As I type this, I'm wearing fleece, a hat, wool socks and jeans! What a difference a year and another continent make! here's a few shots of the house that I took for the realtor.. kind of strange to see it again.

Thanks for looking back with me. Between these and the House Hunters, I think you've had quite the tour of the Wheatley living abodes! haha.. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog posts :) Up next: WW1 battlefields, a big birthday and "the bad the ugly". So check back when you can!

Wednesday
Nov212012

a very belated thank you :) 

on this Thanksgiving Eve, I am SO thankful for our family photos that were taken exactly a year ago on the eve of our transatlantic move. In all the hoopla, I don't think I ever posted them and got to truly thank Viviana of Heartspun Imagery, for capturing these in our home that I will treasure forever! As a photographer, I always enjoyed photographing clients "at home" but never had taken the time to get someone to take my own family in our home. When we first found out about the move, that was the FIRST thing that popped into my mind! It was gonna be MY turn! ;)

So please forgive me my insanely belated gratitude, Viviana! But maybe it's better that we've been gone almost a year, so I can truly reflect and tell you how precious these are to me and my family, now that we're so far from that home that we loved. It gives me goosebumps to see the spaces that held so many sweet memories for us as a family. And as she sees so many Chubbyfoot families this season, you'll see why I recommended her and trusted her with you all!

So, without further ado.. our "at home" session at Rocky Brook in Kingwood, Texas. Oct, 2011. Thanks again, Viv!