Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What to do on a Sunday in Germany??

Sundays are truly a day of rest for Germans. There is NO shopping going on....no groceries, no clothing, no nothing! The only thing open for a portion of the day are gas stations. These are not the mega stations like in the states. Instead, these are tiny stations that are few and far between. Oh...there is NO pay at the pump. This took a bit of getting used to when we moved, but now we are Germanized:)

Anyway, this weekend there was a Medieval Fest at the Burg Lichtenburg castle which is about 10 minutes from our house. This castle is in ruins, but is REALLY cool for the kids! There is a rather nice restaurant in an old room of the castle (not one we would take the kids) and a youth hostile for overnight stays. This year's bridging ceremony for Girl Scouts was held here and it was wonderful!!

Everyone climbed to the top of this tower.

Here is the beautiful view from the top.

Must have been REALLY short! Check out this doorway.

The girls each made a bracelet.

Here are a few things that were on sale!

There were some glass pens for the kids to use!

And of course there was good food, music, and costumes galore!

Soooo comfy!

This is one of our favorite foods to get at festivals...flammkuchen

As we were leaving Colton was asked to go move a lamb that had escaped into the horse area. Here he is as he was just about to put it on the ground. All he could say afterwards was how "cushy" they are with all of that wool!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Remembering Anne

Anne Frank ~ May 1942
On July 6, 1942 Anne Frank moved with her family to the rear annex of the house at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. They lived in hiding here for 2 years with another family and a dentist...total 8 people. On August 4, 1944 the house was raided by the Gestapo thanks to tip from an unknown person. Everyone was arrested and taken to several different concentration camps.

We had the opportunity to visit the annex when we visited Amsterdam. We read a few books to give the kids a little background on Anne, her diary, and the treatment of Jewish people during this time period so they would have a little more appreciation for our visit. We read aloud Who Was Anne Frank? and DK readers: The Story of Anne Frank because they were fairly short yet contained enough background into who she was. The girls have since read these books several times on their own because they are so interested in Anne's story.

We purchased our tickets online before our trip which I HIGHLY recommend if you plan to visit. The lines are quite long so this will avoid ALL lines because you will have a scheduled tour time. The tour is self guided and takes about 1 hour. We paid 24 Euro for our entire family.

What we didn't expect was just how much of an effect this tour would have on everyone. It is a memorable tour that must be experienced. The tour begins with a walk through the offices of Otto Frank's herb and spices business. All of this walk contains displays and quotes from the diary. Then we came to THE hinged bookcase. We walked through the secret door located behind the bookcase into the rear annex where the small rooms were located.

I think Anne's room had the most impact on the kids because it then seemed that this girl we had read about was "real". The pictures that she had glued to her walls are still there. All of the windows were covered with black material so that no one would see them in their hiding place. We talked about how they were afraid to move around or talk during the day because of they feared being discovered by workers below. It was like a light bulb was turned on and they were in disbelief that this had happened to people...a girl in their mind.

We were able to see her diary which was quite exciting for the kids. They also saw a few of the actual stars that had to be worn by the Jews and documents for the concentration camps. There were also videos from inside the camps which we did let them watch....some wouldn't agree with this. We wanted them to see that this was real and not just actors in a movie. They focused on how thin the people were and how unhappy they looked. It is incomprehensible that 6 million people lost their lives during WWII because they were Jewish.

Picture from scanned postcard

Otto Frank is the only survivor from his family. He returned to Amsterdam in 1945 to discover that his family had perished. His wife in Auschwitz and daughters in Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. Miep Gies, family helper while in hiding, kept Anne's diary and gave it to Otto when he returned. We watched a video of Otto talking about her diary and why he finally had it published in 1947.

Our kids begged us to purchase a copy of her diary which has a replica cover of Anne's diary. It is only available at the Anne Frank house and we gave in. This version has dated comments that Anne added later to improve what she had written or to give updates. This will be our read aloud for a while.

This tour was the highlight of our day in Amsterdam. I think the kids learned so much more than they could have if they had only read a book. We also purchased The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank by Willy Lindwer at the museum store. This book was written from the transcripts of six in-depth interviews with women who survived the Holocaust that was then used to create a documentary film. They all spent time with her during the last seven months of her life. "These women survived the concentration camps and their fears of death by having courage and by remembering that they too were people who deserved to live."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What's with these faces??

It has become almost impossible to get pictures of Jacque smiling "nicely"....I guess because he is 2 1/2 and making faces seems like A LOT of fun! We went to Burg Nanstein yesterday and this was my attempt to get a picture of Jacque. Trust me, all of the other pictures turned out the same exact way!

Here are some pretty flowers at the castle.

I wish this picture had not come out blurry!
Ian was clapping for himself...really cute.

What a beautiful view!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our museum day came to an end!

We walked around the museum exploring all of the little houses and shops all day. We had a wonderful time even though we were exhausted by the time we drove back to Volendam. Here are some random pictures from today.

I love this picture of Jacque

Cheese anyone?

He is so happy!

Dutch Dreamcatcher???

What are these?

These lime kilns were used to burn shells that were dredged from the sea bed.
The quicklime produced was used as an ingredient in mortar.

Another picture that my husband took.
I love how the light is shining on this flower.

School house lessons

A snail that Lauren & Sarah found.....they are obsessed with snails lately!

Beautiful harbor

We went the opposite direction for our adventures tomorrow which took us to another interesting city that is MUCH different to say the least! More to come....


I have to admit that I've done a lot of complaining about laundry since we moved to Germany. Why??? Well, not only are the washers and dryers half the size of American models, but it takes 2 hours to wash and at least 2 hours to dry....min 4 hours for one load!! Take a family of 7 and that equals non stop washing. I also have to empty a long heavy tray filled with water after each load is dried because the dryer sucks the water out instead of evaporating it!

However, 4 hours and a little water dumping seems piddly compared to this village's washing facilities. As we continued down the trail we came across the laundry house.

The machines are run from this....

...which is burned in this oven located in a room next to the machines
The cool thing about this museum is everything is actually running the same way it did back in the day. They are burning the coals which heats the water and runs the machines. You could see the steam rising off the water that was running through the washers!
Look closely and you can see it.

You could hear the huge belts spinning to keep the machines running.....very loud in there!

The clothes were hung upstairs to dry. There was a track that went around the perimeter of the room that helped dry the clothes a little quicker.

The steps going upstairs were STEEP and were extremely narrow! It was kind of scary getting back down so the kids went down on their bottoms until they were about half way down. The picture doesn't really do them justice. Can't imagine going down carrying a basket of clothes!
I guess 4 hours isn't so bad after all!....This is one of the few things I won't miss when we move back to the US!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We actually tried it!

Proud Mom was correct! Our next journey began at the Zuiderzeemuseum with a ferry ride over to the Buitenmuseum (outdoor) in the old town of Enkhuizen! This was about 40 minutes north of where we stayed in Volendam and was well worth the drive.

The economy in the town of Enkhuizen went downhill when access to the North Sea was blocked in 1932 by the construction of a dam. This town is now the location of the museum and depicts seven centuries of history.

We got off and began hiking on a trail leading to an old fisherman's house.

It was a nice walk to the end where we saw these fish hanging out to dry.

It smelled really good down here because of the wood chips burning in here.

Herring was being smoked in this little smoke house.

So, we all shared one. Here is our beauty!

All we had to do was pick out the meat and lots of these!

A little went to the ducks.
Another food that is very popular in this area is smoked eel so we had to try one too! It was surprisingly pretty good. We had to ask how to eat it though....we were told, "Tear the head off and peel the skin and then eat it like corn on the cob." So we did!

After all of this eating we had to wash our hands. Very sanitary wouldn't you say???

There was a very small house here where the fisherman lived with his 7 children. It was a tight squeeze for sure! Inside the house were these:

Which they put into the nets to catch fish.

Stay tuned.....