Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Miss the Haverkampfs!!!

Hi, I''m Kris, Katie's oldest sister. I just wanted to share some of the fun adventures I had with Katie and her family the second week of my visit with them. It's hard to believe that I've been home 2 weeks already!

Katie and I took day trips within the region while the girls were in school. I'm amazed at how much there is to see in Normandy, and all less than 2 hrs from their home.
Monday, Sept 7, Katie and I visited St. John's Church in Caen. This church was built prior to 1417. This chuch leans a little the left, which is very obvious when standing in the doorway. It has beautiful stain glass windows and an old pipe organ; a sight to see. We walked around Caen and then headed over to the school to pick up the girls. After we arrived at their apartment, the five of us colored and I listened to the girls sing to their favorite songs(including Katie) until dinner. That evening I took a walk around William the Conqueror's castle, which is just a minute or two from Katie's apartment.

On Tuesday, Sept 8, Katie and I met her friend at the jogging track. They had a nice run while I enjoyed a brisk walk. Later, Katie and I drove over to Bayeau to see the Bayeux Tapestry. This is an embroidered depiction of the Battle of Hastings in 1066; over 1000 years old! Before we saw the Tapestry, we toured the Bayeux Cathedral and had a nice lunch. Then it was a sprint back to Caen to pick the girls up from school. Katie is so good about giving her children fresh fruit and veggies for after-school snacks, but while Aunt Kris was there that didn't always happen. Here is a pic of Ella enjoying an ice cream treat after school that day.

The girls didn't have school on Wed., Sept 9, so Grace and I went to the grocery store and picked out goodies for our picnic lunch that day. We went to La Colline, a park that Katie has written about before. It was a little windy and chilly , but it was fun anyway. The flowers at the park were beautiful. After walking through different sections of this park full of different flower gardens, and having a nice lunch, we took the girls to the playground there. The girls had a chance to play and Katie and I were able to sit and relax. Before we left, the girls were able to ride on the Merry-Go-Round and ride in the Pokeman Bus.

On Thursday, Sept 10, the girls were back in school, so Katie and I visited a couple D-Day Beaches. The memorial to those who lost their lives there is hard to describe. It is peaceful, yet you can hear the rumble of the waves crashing onto the beach below. In between beaches, we stopped at Port-en-Bessen. This is a port town where we found a stretch of beach full of shells. We had never seen so many shells in one place before. After Andrew came home from work, Katie and I went out to eat. Deciding where to go was hard, but we ended up going to a place called Le Vendome. The owner was very friendly and remembered Katie from past visits (enough to tell her that he had noticed she hadn't been in for a while). While we were waiting for our salads, the owner brought out bread and a pate'. Katie thought it was tuna, but it tuned out to be a sardine spread; we didn't ask for seconds! The rest of the meal very good though.

Friday, Sept 11, we headed out to visit Chateau de Crevecoeur-en-Auge and Chateau de Vendeuvre. Both were unique, but Chateau de Vendeuvre really was the most interesting. It had paths on one side of it that lead to different ends; a scarry scare crow, a statue and fountain covered in shells and a flower garden with flowers I'd never seen before. On the other side of the house there were flower gardens armed with fountains that were triggered by the motions made when people walked by; they caught us off guard! We were also able to tour the furnished first floor and basement of this Chateau. It was a fun day and it was was pizza night for dinner, so no cooking for anyone when we returned home.

Saturday, Sept 12, Katie and I left at 7:30am to go to Mont-Saint-Michel early enough to beat the crowds .It was amazing. This is another place I know Katie had been to before, but I really wanted to see it. I'm glad she was willing to take this trip, again, with me so I could experience the walk from the bottom of the hill to the top. I was exhusted before we even got to the ticket office. You wouldn't believe the age of some of the people trying to make this walk, to just by a ticket for the tour! I read that you walk as many as 900 steps to reach the ticket office. We made it back in time for Andrew to take Ella to the birthday party, Katie entertained Mia and Grace and I took a 2 walk around Caen and bought food for Taco Night. Katie and Andrew left us about 6:30pm to attend an overnight birthday party. The girls and I had tacos for dinner. Mia was very helpful with getting the food ready, while Ella and Grance did crafts at the table. We had yummy tacos and a chocolate cookie and bananas for dessert. After dinner we watched a movie, Tinker Bell, and before we knew it, it was time for bed. Once everyone was in bed they slept until about 8:00 am on Sunday.

Sunday, Sept 13, was my last day in Caen. It was cold and looked like it was going to rain. When the girls woke up, we lounged a little and watched cartoon or two, had breakfast and got dressed with the intention of going to a park. We ended up staying inside and before long it was lunchtime already. I made grilled cheese sandwiches and they each had two. We tried reading together but there was always someone who couldn't see the pictures so that didn't last long. But after Katie and Andrew returned home, we all went for a walk to the Botanical Garden. The Botancial Garden had an petting zoo and 2 playgrounds. So many places in France, such as this, are very kid friendly. We stayed there for a while, had a little snack (Katie is always prepared), then left to eat dinner at the restaurant next door to their apartment. After we we returned to the apartment, the girls took a shower and I tucked them into bed and said "good night" ; it was hard for me not to cry.

On Monday, Sept 14,Andrew and I left the apartment at 4:45 am to catch a 5:10 train to Paris. Then from Paris we had to take two more trains to get to the airport. It was a long morning, but is helped to have a seasoned traveler with me. Andrew was actually flying out from the same gate area as I was. I had the pleasure of enjoying the Red Carpet Club for the first time; thanks Andrew. We both passed through customs without a problem and made our flights.

I hope now that when the girls see me or hear my name that they actually have a memory of me pop into their heads. I will remember laughing with Katie over silly stuff the girls did, while we talked about family memories, and even while we were stuck under a walnut tree during a random hail storm on our way to William's castle. I will remember Mia saying she wants to come live with Aunt Kris and her suggling up in my lap. I will remember Gracie's little hand in mine walking to/from school and watching her take such interest in flowers and butterflies. I will remember Ella enjoying speaking French, reading to the girls at bedtime and being fashionable. I will remember that Andrew shared his special beer with me, got me hooked on the tv show, Prison Break, and compromised with me about the journey to the airport.

I hope they all know how much it meant to me that they opened up their home and hearts to me for those two weeks. I love and miss them all.

(A special Thank You to everyone who made this trip possible; Katie, Tim, Nancy, Hank and Lou)

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