Monthly Archives: March, 2013

Passports Are Mandatory!? Who Knew?

So it’s been a while.  But I’m back and more committed than ever.  Until I fall off the wagon anyway… 

I’m going to spare you all a lengthy post about what we have been doing for these past few months. Just know it’s been punctuated with really awesome stuff.  Like the flu, gobs and gobs of snow, wonderful visitors, a few black eyes (all Sully), Christmas, and an assortment of other rad events.  I know.  Jealous, much?

Moving on…  we just rolled in from a big road trip to Belgium and France! 

And it both started off and ended with a bang. 

Did Jay make us reservations on the most exciting overnight ferry ever?  Why yes.  Yes, he did.  Had we built up this ferry trip to monumental proportions to the boys?  Of course.  Did we drive two hours to catch it?  Check.  Did we pull up to the entry of the ferry only to be questioned by the customs official about whether we had our passports?  Word.

Then things got a little dicey. 

Ooooohhhh…  so we have to have our passports, eh?  Oops.

Commence complicated u-turn at the customs gate as well as massive crying from the backseat (stifled tears from the front seat as well).

Long story short – we headed home, grabbed the passports and then arranged for a completely different way to get across the English channel that involved many additional hours of driving (SO fun!).  Good news – we eventually made it. 

First stop – Brussels.  Not only did we get to see an ancient and beautiful city, but we also visited some wonderful friends/old neighbors.  The kind of friends whose kids have spent so much time with ours that they are almost like siblings.  It was fun to see them pick up exactly where they left off last year.  No one missed a beat.

About Belgium.  Listen.  All these years you have been ordering a Belgium waffle from Bob Evans or wherever you order them from – they are crap.  I know… you’re thinking “no they aren’t!”  But they are.  I didn’t know just how bad the American ones were until I had a Belgium one.  From a janky little hole-in-the-wall waffle shop of all places. 

It was like a waffle rainbow of goodness exploded in my mouth. 

Had no one been looking, I would have stood outside a shop and scarfed down 20 of those suckers.  Maybe even more. 

The kids dug theirs too.

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Also fun?  A visit to Manneken Pis (read that again).  I think he is a bit like the city’s mascot?  He is just this little statue that pees water into a fountain – and he has a massive cult following.  On the day we visited, we fought through the throngs to find him being unveiled in his St. Patrick’s day finest. 

It’s a good thing kids don’t think a statue peeing is funny…  Oh wait…

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Imposters. 

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Ava & Knox managing to pose nicely for a picture despite the fact a little peeing man is above them.  They are maturing!

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The city itself is grand and just stunning.  Just look at the architecture!

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Apparently frits (fries) originated in Belgium, so of course we had to partake. 

(Oh yeah – that’s right… still eating! We were in-it-to-win-it.)

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The rest of our visit was full of noise and mayhem – the good kind.  We took walks, hit a barn (where nice horses and vicious, leg-attacking geese reside), ate a TON (more) and just hung out. 

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Connor and Jay walking and talking about life.

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And don’t sleep on Connor’s size.  He will straight jack you up. 

Here is Sul post-(literal) run-in with his little buddy.  Connor’s head fared a touch better…

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Speaking of Sul…  His favorite past-time by far is playing dress-up.  Anything goes.  Firemen, ninjas, clones, turtles, my dad (one of his faves), etc… 

Then we visited his friends who are girls and a whole new world opened up to him.

Purple tights to play war?  Perfect.

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Cinderella dress for dinner?  Absolutely.

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And here he is saying goodbye… Because you know that is the last time for a long while that he is going to see such attire. 

Yes, Sul.  You once again prove that ankle socks do go with anything.

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Mmmmkay – brace your face for an abrupt change.

After we left Belgium, we drove south to France so that Jay could see just how far all of that college level French could take him.  (Pretty far for those wondering!) 

We were able to spend a few days soaking all the Normandy region has to offer and get Sully back on track with lots of talk about war.

Watching the boys run around and explore the many craters from WWII bombs at Pointe du Hoc was both moving and mind-blowing for us. 

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Checking out a German bunker.  Over the past year or so, Knox has developed a love for military history (shocker!).  Watching him process what he has read/heard about versus actually standing in those historical places was just awesome.  His mind was buzzing.  And so was his mouth.  Smile

(Note his refusal to smile in anything related to the Germans…  His resolve lasted until Sully said “poop” or something else inappropriate.)

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From there, we moved onto Omaha beach.

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Shelling was at a premium.  We now have a ridiculous amount of “special” shells and rocks in the house. 

(I am currently plotting how I can covertly winnow down the collection, but I’m sure I won’t be able to as I’m the worst at covert operations like these.  They always see whatever I am trying to toss.  So annoying.  For both parties involved.) 

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After hitting a few other places, we concluded our trip with a visit to the American cemetery.  I spent the entire time stifling back tears – especially as we listened to Knox read some of the headstones aloud. 

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All of this was a poignant reminder of the bravery and sacrifice that took place on behalf of our freedom. It is not to be taken for granted and we are working hard to instill that in our kids.

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Afterwards, everyone took a breather by the fire before we hit the road the next day. 

Perhaps we would have enjoyed the evening a bit more had we known that our travel day home would be almost as much fun as our trip across the channel!

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Trip home… real fast. 

So we couldn’t hit the overnight ferry on the way home b/c 1)  it was SUPER far away and 2) would take too long as Jay had to hit the road for a work trip immediately upon our arrival home. 

No problem.  I just whipped out the iPad and made us a reservation on a high speed ferry that docked just a few hours from where we were staying!  Perfect.

We hit the road early and pulled into port with plenty of time to spare.  However, things did look a tad odd to us as we were the only car in the line.  Not typical, but whatevs. 

Then we realize no one is in the customs/ticket booth.  Starting to get concerned… 

Finally someone asks us what the heck we are doing (b/c clearly we were not supposed to be there) and we hesitantly told the gentleman we had reservations.  He then tells us that is impossible as the high speed ferry doesn’t leave from that port until MAY. 

WHA—-!??!?!?!?!

I quickly checked my phone to see that indeed, we DID have reservations on the ferry – in May.

This.  Cannot.  Be.  Happening.  AGAIN.

But it was.  And it did.

Our poor kids. 

Another long story short – we drove several more hours, took a much longer ferry across the channel (boys loved it!), drove even more and finally got home.

End of story.

Sure… this is a cautionary tale.  But on the upside is we now know every single way to get across the English channel.  Also – we are idiots. 

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