Sunday, July 4, 2010

Idar Oberstein July 1, 2010

Idar Oberstein ~ Home of the "church in the rock"

We left by 9, and invited Father Mike to tag along. It's always nice to have a religious person with us...for a few and moral support, andan extra adult for myself to have some adult conversation, and to help watch the kiddos.

Idar Oberstein is only about 45 minutes away from home. As soon as you drive into the town, you can see the church in the mountain, so you know you are there. We parked in a parking garage across the street. Anyone who has parked in a parking garage in Europe will understand the hardship that I went through. This was the first time I parked in one...Thom always did the driving, or I parked on the street.

The kids counted the steps to the top of the was 220!! Most of which were outside, until you come to the mountain part, which was a lot cooler inside, and a welcome to the heat outside. Once inside we paid to look around, we were shocked to see the inside. From the outside it
looked much bigger. The picture was taken from the back of the church. They have services here (Evangelical) once a month from May to October b/c church goers have to climb the stairs to get there, and it is not safe or easy to doing the winter time. We only spent about 15 minutes there.

Some of us wanted to do some more exploring, and saw a sign for the Schloss and Burg (castle and castle ruins). Father stayed behind with Feliciti and Emilee. I think they got the better end of that deal...sitting in the cool shade. I had no idea what a trek we had in front of us!! The sign said 0.3 and 0.4 km to each of them. What the sign failed to mention was the steep and steady incline the entire way up. I had Matthew on one hip, and Dominick's hand with my other hand. At one point we were given a chose...left to the schloss (0.2 km) or the burg to the right (0.1 km). In our house we have a democracy..and the vote was 2 to 1, with Matthew and I not voting. So the decision was to go to the Schloss...another 0.2 km uphill!!! If I would have known that we were not allowed to explore in the Schloss, and they turned half of it into a restaurant we would have opted for the Burg!!! But on the positive side, we found a cute little souvenir shop and the kids all picked out a gem. Idar Oberstein is also known for the gem mines..woo-hoo!!

So once we met up with Father, Feliciti and Emilee (this time the walk was much easier, going down), we started for the bottom of the hill. I made a lunch, so we found some tables, ordered some cold drinks and ate our lunch there...yeh, I asked if we could sit there before we got too comfortable. Maybe she felt sorry for us, because we were all sweaty and I had 6 kids, so she let us eat our lunch there and just pay for the drinks we ordered. I found an info brochure from a small shop next to the cafe we ate it. The brochure gave us an address for the mines...or so we thought.

After lunch, we headed for the mines. Father stayed in the car with Matthew, b/c he fell asleep. I took the kids to the gem museum and asked them how to get to the mines. They said it was a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute drive up the mountain. I also asked them (from reading the brochure) where the activity for the kids is...gem hunting. They told me they do it there, but we needed an appointment. I must have looked disappointed b/c she then proceeded to see if they could "squeeze" us in. She probably also saw that I had 5 kids with me, and that is their typical group size...see it pays to have a lot of kids. So instead of going to the mines, we stayed there, and let the kids "dig" for their own gems. Good thing...b/c I might have found my own treasure in the mines..... hint-hint babe!! The kids had a great time digging for their own gemstones. Everything they found, they were able to keep. After about an hour of looking, we decided to finally call it quits. The kids ended up finding about 80 pieces!! At the end, the part of the fun was the kids were able to pick out a least thats what the kids thought it was. They thanks a lot (sarcastic)!! But then the man took their rocks they picked out, put it in a big "plier" looking tool, and cut it in half...and then they got some great looking crystals!!
I found a neat looking jar at the Homberg flea market yesterday so the kids can display their finds!!

We had a great time in Idar Oberstein. There are still a few things we would like to do...if we get the chance (mines). Till next time!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Luxembourg ~ our first solo trip

Luxembourg for Memorial Day

So this was my first solo trip without any other adults...just me and the kiddos!!! We decided to go to Luxembourg. We planned on leaving the house at 9, and actually left at 9:15...fantastic team cohesion!!! Lunches made, everyone dressed, potty breaks, activities to entertain them while in the car, and diaper bag!! It was 1 1/2 hour drive and it was easy!! (NO stau's)

Our first stop was the American Cemetary. We got there about 11 and looked around. We found General Patton's burial spot.

We looked at lot of headstones, but not all 5,076 of them. There are 2 Medal of Honor headstones, and the kids found them. I am thankful we didn't have to search through all the headstones, but rather just about half of them before we "stumbled" upon them.

We also got a lesson from a PFC and SGT on how the cannons worked. The kids even asked a few questions, but couldn't get passed the "rotten egg" sulfur smell from the practice rounds.

Emilee and Dominick tried playing in the fountains before I stopped them. We saw some of the girl scouts and boy scouts cleaning the headstones. Feliciti and Gabi could have helped, since they are girl scouts, but since they didn't camp out the night before, they weren't "allowed." Everyone was preparing for the ceremony that was going to start at 4pm. Instead of hanging around for 4 more hours, we decided to go to Luxembourg City and then come back. It was only a 10 minute drive!!

I forgot our Europe "guide" book at home, so I had to wing it and depend on our GPS to get us into the city by picking an address!! ha-ha!! We got there, and once we entered, we knew we had made it to the city!! We were surrounded by huge buildings, traffic, taxis, and tour buses..not something we have seen very much of since living here in Germany. Parking was interesting (another city "issue") I circled around 2-3 times before I found a spot, but we could only park for 2 1/2 hours. I knew I wanted to see the cathedral. And a friend told us about the Viaducts and a huge park.

Our first stop was the Cathedral of Notre Dame. You would think that once you see one Catholic church, you've seen them all....NOT! This one was just as beautiful, and I could never get enough of
seeing the architecture, paintings, tapestries and just the pure "awe" of any church. The pictures say it all!!! (see facebook profile for more pics)

We had about an hour before our parking expired, so we went exploring. We never found the Viaducts. We never really found any other "touristy" sites, so we went window shopping. The kids wanted icee's and shared 2 of them. We then had to go bacvk to the car before they were going to tow it. There were "rent-a-cops" literally watching their watches and walking around the parking lot. We got there just in time. As the kids loaded themselves in the car, I nursed Matthew and then we were off.

We had 2 hours before the cermony started, so we went on a mission to find the park. We drove around for a little while, and found it!! But the silly part of this part of the story is, the park was literally across the street from where we parked. Just behind some trees and down a path..nto something we could see from the parking area. I luckily found another parking spot, bought our parking ticket, which gave us 1 1/2 hours, just enough time to let the kids burn some energy off. This park is awesome!!! The kids loved it. I even let down my guard and let them play in the water ~ but not too much since we didn't have a change of clothes and a ceremony still to go to. And anyone who knows me well enough, knows this is a huge step for me to let the kids play in water ~ UNPREPARED!! After the kids went down the huge slide, played pirates on the ship adn play in the water it was time to go.

We, again, raced to the car in hopes it wouldn't get towed away. We only had a 10 minute drive back to the cemetary Once we got there, the parkig lot was filled, and the street was lined up with cars on both sides of the street, for probably a mile. We parked the car, and ran up the hill (thank goodness for the double stroller) to the ceremony. We were about 10 minutes late, but didn't miss much. Some distinguished guests were speaking ~ the Prince of Luxembourg, an Air Force 3 star General (sorry, didn't catch his name), General (R) Chenseky, Luxembourg's mayor and others. They laid wreaths of flowers. And then other guests and the Girl and Boy Scouts laid smaller bouquets on the first row of headstones. It was very nice. The kids started getting fussy, so we started heading back. While the kids were in the bathroom, they did the 21 gun salute with the was very loud, and the first boom scared the kiddos, but then by #3 they were use to it. I thought they were going to do 21 rounds between the 3 Howitzers (therefore only sounding like it would be 7 shots), but they did all 21 separately. They also played Taps, and then Luxembourg's anthem and then our anthem. I held it together till our anthem, and then started crying because I missed Thom so much!!! Overall the ceremony was beautiful, and the kids appreciated it as well. It was definitely worth it despite being 10 minutes late, and having to run a mile to get there!!!

We got in the car and had an easy drive back home. The 3 little ones fell asleep. We stopped for some Doner's and ate them at home. Overall it was a good day. I proved to myself that I could handle small trips, and the kids proved to themselves (and me) that they could behave. They earned another trip :o)

Till next time!!

P.S. Sorry I couldn't get more pics on here, like I usually do. I am still learning how to use our month old Mac...I don't know how to adjust the picture sizes or move them around easily on the blog page...hopefully by the next entry I'll have it down!! See my facebook profile if you would like to see more pictures!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rottenberg Germany April 13-14, 2010

It has truly been a while since we have taken any trips anywhere. As most of you know, Thom is deployed. We found out before Christmas. Between the cold, rainy and yucky weather, and Thom's preparing for his year deployment, the trips have come to a screeching halt. I have decided that I can either sit around and wait for the year to be done, or I can venture out some and make the time pass quicker with taking small little trips with the kids. Even though after this first trip, I realized it is not as much fun without Thom, it made this week go by very fast. I have some more day trips planned for us for the summer. I don't think I am brave enough to do anything extravagent...and besides we need to save those trips for's only fair...and it's not as much fun without him.

So this first "solo" trip was to Rottenberg. Many of our friends have raved about this is a Medieval town with a lot of shopping. It was 2 1/2 hours away. I have a friend, Kitty who's husband is also deployed and she has 2 boys. We decided that we would go together (she was a huge help). We also invited Father Mike on this adventure. Because it was 2 1/2 hours away, and we thought there was going to be a lot to do, we ended up making hotel reservations at Gasthof Butz (highly recommended by us). Here are pictures from our hotel...Matthew was rather impressed~ can't you tell?

Our Gasthaus was on the inside of the town. Rottenberg is surrounded by a wall, and we were lucky enough to have our hotel inside...saving time and money on parking. Here are some pictures of the town and wall.

Our first stop (after eatting a packed lunch of brotchen and pretzel sticks) was Saint Jacob's church. It is a protestant church, and very big. It is one of the biggest and oldest in Rottenberg. We were suprised that we had to pay in order to come in and take a look. As a matter of fact we had to pay for every church that we we only visited one. At Saint Jacob's there is a relic of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We were told that Rottenberg use to be a big pilgrimage site. I was amazed that a protestant chuch actually had the blood of Christ displayed...I thought only us Catholics who displayed relics. Correct me if I am wrong..and this is not intended to put any of my protestant friends down.

After we left the church, we headed for the Rathaus (court house) and checked on the times and price of the Nightwatchman tour. It was going to be at 8pm, and we were told that we definitely had to go and check it out. So we decided to walk around the town some and see what other touristy sites we could find. We stopped by a shop and I got some Rottenberg pottery coffee cups that say Mama and Papa on it...pretty cute. We also got our magnet and postcards. There were 3 Kathie Wolfhart Christmas stores in this small town...right across the street from each funny!! We didn't even go inside, b/c it is not a kid friendly store, and neither Kitty or I really needed anything in there. There wasn't much else to shop for, so we continued on looking around. We roamed the streets and browsed. We came to the town gardens, and it was big and beautiful..and had a great view.

We were told that while in Rottenberg you have to try a Schneeball. Some of our friends said it was good, others said it was bad...but either way you have to try one. A Schneeball is a fried ball covered in powdered sugar...sounds good enough. But boy oh is not that good at all. But that is a checkmark on our list of tourist things to do!!

We found in the tour guide that there was a criminal museum...we thought we would check it out. It was starting to rain, so it was perfect timing to get inside. It was interesting, and the kids had a lot of questions. We went to the criminal museum in Amsterdam, so the kids knew about some of the "devices" already..but it is still interesting to see how intrigued the kids were.

After that adventure, we thought it would be a good idea to go back to the hotel, and try to rest a bit, since we were going to be out "late" on the tour...late for the kids!! But yeh, that nap didn't happen...what was I thinking??
This is a picture of Saint George's fountain!!

Here are some random pictures of Father Mike and Kitty and the kids!! Emilee really enjoyed holding Father Mike's hand...probably since I was busy pushing the stroller most of the time. Even though I have a picture of Father Mike pushing the stroller one time, since I was feeding Matthew!! What a great man..and such a big help. Thanks Kitty for all your help too!!

We had dinner in our hotel. I had Sauerbraten (German pot roast) and the kids all had bratwurst and french fries. We also all had dessert, since everyone behaved fairly well.

It was finally time to do the tour. I was able to get a picture with the tour guide before I had to leave. Unfortunately it started raining harder, and the 3 little ones were getting really fussy. Kitty graciously volunteered to go on the tour with the 3 older ones, and her kiddos. I took the 3 little ones back to the hotel and put them to bed. I was told that the tour was "cute" and gave some good info about life during medieval times. I head a little bit of the tour before I left, and it definitely seemed to be geared toward kids (for some reason).

The next day was not too filled with things to do. After a typical german breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. We ended up walking the perimeter of the wall. Initially I took the double stroller up the windy steep stairs, but had to end that adventure and come back down because the walkway was too narrow. BUt Kitty took the older kids up top, while I walked along the wall below them with Father Mike.

After eatting lunch, we thought it was time to start heading home. It was my turn to drive with Father Mike...and we had a great conversation...I learned a lot about predertermination, prevenial grace, actual grace and supernatural grace...if anyone want to know!!! It was a nice time...we were able to get out and see more of Germany. We are thankful to be able to go out and travel.
I'll try and post our next trip as soon as I can. This is rather time consuming..and putting pictures on here takes forever!! Thanks again Kitty and Father Mike for "chaperoning"!!!