Monday, February 25, 2008

Flossenburg Concentration Camp

Several weeks ago, we took a family trip to a concentration camp in Flossenberg, which is only about an hour from where we live. Although it was sunny when we left our house, the weather was cool and cloudy when we arrived at the camp and added to the somber atmosphere.

The above photo shows the Flossenburg castle ruins, the castle was built nearly 900 years ago. The town has a large granite quarry, many of the prisoners in the concentration camp worked at the quarry.
The above photo shows the "Valley of Death". It sits outside the concentration camp gate. The crematorium can be seen. Those who stayed at this camp included foreign prisoners of war, Jews, asocials, and Resistance prisoners. Nearly 96,000 prisoners passed through this camp and around 30,000 people died there.

The sign above refers to the mound (Pyramid Of Ashes) which can be seen behind me in the photo below. In the later part of the war, the crematorium could not keep up, so mass-burnings were done. This was done less than 70 years ago.
Below, there is a sign which reads "Prisoners were shot in mass here". It is hard to imagine that such inhumane things were done to so many people.

This ramp (seen above and below) led from the hole in the prison fence down to the crematorium. A cart on rails was used on this ramp to get bodies down to the crematoruim easier and faster. Many people died via mass shootings, hangings, sickness, and malnutrition.

The photo below shows three watchtowers and a chapel. The chapel was built following the end of the war.The photo below is inside the prison fence. The building represents part of a prison barracks where resistance prisoners were kept and tortured. Prisoners were executed in the courtyard where my kids are now playing. The european-looking woman is my wife.

I know this is not a fun post. This was not a fun place to visit, especially when you consider the sufferings, fear, and pain that people experienced here. However, both Emily and I were glad that we could visit this camp. I gained a better understanding of the heinous and abhorrent acts which were committed here not that long ago. Reading about concentration camps has helped me learn about what happened there, but actually walking on the ground has helped me feel a little bit of just how horrible things were. We certainly have a better appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Transportation

Recently, Emily and I bought ourselves bikes and a pull-behind bike trailer for the kids. The hopes are that this will be good family fun, something that Emily and I can become passionate about, and a way to burn off some of the German chocolate and calories that don't seem to want to leave despite sitting in a chair while doing fillings all day.

As can be seen, Ayla was not a huge fan of the trailer at first. Having her teasing sister strapped in so close didn't give her a great first impression.

The trailer is by no means spacious, but once the kids realized they basically had the next Lance Armstrong pulling them around Europe, they were ready for the Tour de France.

We decided against climbing the Alps on our first family bike outing. Instead our long bike ride took us down hill about 1/4 mile from our house to a small church. I'm not sure if Emily's helmet is on correctly, but at least she is in style.

(Keanna doing her best Rocky IV impression while in Cinderella dress as Ayla looks on)

Lesson Learned

About 2 weeks after we moved in, a young German gentleman came to my door. He spoke some English and I spoke about 3 words of German. He wanted me to buy a coloring book for my children, it would only be 4 Euro. It was also going to help some impoverished individuals. I thought I could spare 4 Euro to help someone out. He said the coloring book would be here in December and I could pay the 4 Euro then. I didn't think much of it.

Time passed I started getting a German womens magazine. I didn't know where it was coming from and continued to give it to my German neighbor.

In January I received a bill in my German mailbox. I actually thought it was my water bill. We asked our neighbor Max and much to my dismay I had signed a 2 year contract to buy this magazine! How could I be so naive!!!

I am learning a little about German law. Its illegal to enforce a contract with an indivdual who never understood the contract. The law is on my side. I am hoping that I will soon be out of this mess.
Go figure, there are creepy door to door salesman in Germany.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Tonight we decided to have a little wholesome family fun and play UNO. It was so much fun watching Keanna handle her cards and figure out the rules of the game.

Is this how Keanna keeps winning SHES LOOKING AT MY CARDS! Daddy must have taught her that one.

Keanna is already an expert card player
I think Daddy got an UNO

Who has the better "poker face" Daddy or Ma Ma
Poor Ayla has been sick today. Her nose and eyes have wept all day long. We put her to bed early, due to her grumpy state. However, I think she heard us all having fun downstairs and wanted to be part of the family fun.

Ayla decided to join in the fun despite feeling sick

Family Fun!

Here are some cute pictures of our girls before we went to the swimming pool!!

We have come to love swimming as a family. The swimming pools here are AMAZING. At first Ayla did not like swimming and she would cry when we would put her swimming suit on. However, this last time we went she cried when we left the swimming pool. She and Keanna LOVE to go down the long slide (as long as we go slow). I am just happy that both my girls are enjoying playing in the water.

Above is a picture of Daddy and Ayla playing "super man." I love Ayla's "sahhs (socks)"

Friday, February 15, 2008


Here is Andrew and Katherine! They are probably getting married as I write this. I am so sad I didn't make it to their wedding. For those of you who have wondered Yes I did cry!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Andrew is getting married

Tommorrow Feb 15th my little brother is getting married in Utah. On Wed I drove out to Ramstein Air Base to catch a flight. This morning I was at the airport eagerly awaiting to see my family. 3 flights were scheduled to leave today and for some reason 2 of them were rescheduled, not for today. This left only one more flight. Very sadly there were only 26 seats available and I was about 10 seats short of making this flight. I checked some quick flights to the states and the price was a whopping 1800 dollars.
Much to my dismay I will miss Andrew and Katherine's wedding. I am sure tommorrow will be a beautiful day filled with memories and love. I wish the best to the happy couple!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pictures from the Stuttgart Trip

Here are some pictures from our Stuttgart trip. Its always so hard for me to choose which pictures to post.
You see I wasn't lying, we really did go to Ludwigsburg Castle! Cynthia, Emily, Keanna and Ayla standing amongst the statues. Its too bad I don't know more about Greek Mythology.
The girls playing by the statue. I love courtyards, I don't have to worry about cars!
We had a great tour guide. He let the girls and I go behind the rope line and take a picture in the queens bedroom.
This amazing chandler could go up into the ceiling.
The idea of the wealthy having there own home theatre is not a new concept. Its just been downsized a little.
Mariah was a little nervous about these stautes. I guess they were a little creepy

Kristine, Kade, Mariah and Ayla
The view from the castles couryard. Gorgeous!
Cynthia, Ayla, Mariah, Kristine and Kade at the top of the castle walls. This really scarred me. I hate being on top of tall things.
This will probably be the most spiritual diaper changing experience we will ever have.

Kristen and Kade, Ayla and Cynthia wating in the cold wind. Cynthia was so nice to hold Ayla for me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Our short adventure

On Tuesday my girls, myself, my friend Cynthia and her daughter Mariah (sp?) began our little journey to Stuttgart. Cynthia and I had a meeting there and decided to make a fun trip out of it. We began by taking a tour at the Ludwigsburg castle. I was very impressed by the intricate needlework done throughout this castle on tapestries, chairs and other items. It was intresting to know that one of the queens did much of the needlework herself. That night Mariah watched my girls while Cynthia and I made it to our meeting, thanks Mariah! The next day we met up with my good friend Kristine and we all went to the Hohenzollern Castle.It was rainy and cold and we were all drenched as we walked up the long spiral entrance. The dreary weather just added to the enchantment of it all. I believe this castle was rebuilt 3 times the first staring in the 1100's! We had a really fun time!
Obviously the above pictures were not taken by us. Cynthia took a lot of pictures these were a few I found off of the internet. As soon as I get our pictures I will post them.
This was a super fun trip getting to know Cynthia better and also exerting myself and traveling without Justin. Keanna also had a fun time saying that she wished we would have stayed longer.