March 11, 2009: Wednesday. Such a weird day for me! Honestly, Wednesday's are one of the oddest things to get used to here in France. Why? Well, as you may know, most children have the day off from school on Wednesdays. Now, I am sure this is because of some very important sports or hobbies that the kids have so they needed a dedicated day off from school. However, our newness here in Caen has left us without sport or hobby and without the ability to have a free-flowing conversation with other parents about what their kids do on Wednesdays. At first the girls were sick so no creative outing required then. Then the kids were outright obnoxious so no way I was taking them out then. Then the grandparents were in town and they took them on a trip. But today, today I had to deliver! Something creative, cultural and close.
Well, yesterday morning, Andrew picked up our "permanent" car in Paris. We had been renting a car until our new car was ready. When he arrived home I thought maybe the car hadn't been ready when he arrived so he had to get a ride home from an airport shuttle. But it turns out, our new car IS an airport shuttle. OK, it is true that Andrew and I thought it would be best to have lots of room. We wanted to take roadtrips across Europe and be able to pick up guests from the airport and go en masse to different destinations. But honestly, the pictures of the car we ordered on the internet did not even come close to the monstrosity that arrived at our house. We pictured more of a conversation van and this was more of a let's pile in and head to Student Council Camp in the High School Van van. MAJOR stuff. And stick shift...again. Anyway, the point is that we have tons of room for our family, your family and your family's family. And then still more room for Paris Hilton's luggage. And this car was what we were taking on our adventure today. So the trip had to be relatively close to ensure we were not stranded in the event of bad stick shift driving, stalling or wreckage.
Ultimately, I decided to take the girls to Gold Beach. Not only because it is only about 30 minutes drive from our apartment, but because I saw pictures on the internet and I was in awe instantly. Gold Beach is one of five beaches in Normandy used during the D-Day landings in June of 1944. The Gold Beach landings proved to be a great success. For the Haverkampf clan, it also proved to be a great success. We had a picnic on a big stone where I told them about World War II and the significance of this beach. Ella knew some already and Grace and Mia just wanted more bread. Then we hunted for and gathered seashells and beach glass for hours. In the distance you could see remnants of the temporary docks that had been built many years ago to prepare for D-Day. A man drove up and put his big fishing boat into the water with a tractor. Other random people drove up here and there. But really, we had the whole beach to ourselves. And lucky us, the weather was mild and slightly sunny today - just perfect. After a while, we left to head home and then saw a nice park on the way home. I stopped and let them play spaceship for a while which really made them so happy. Then we headed home in our little school bus where all three of the girls passed out immediately upon the trips start.
Today has taught me that little more than sand, a few shovels, some shells, decent weather and of course lollipops, are needed to keep the girls happy. All this time I have been stressing about what to do with them - swimming lessons? a sport? a park like Great America? A Zoo? And all they really need and want is a beach and some sand to dig. From now on, I will plan a trip each Wednesday to somewhere new, a new beach from D-Day probably for the next few weeks. And I will save the Calvados and Cheese tours for when my friends and family come - I hate to get the girls drunk at such an early our of the day ; )
Pictured above: The park and Gold Beach