Project 52, Week 36 – More Adventures in Europe!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 36!

2000_07_20 1 Me at Neuschwanstein

36 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 36 — June 14, 2000, to June 14, 2001. But I’ve gotten bogged down lately, with each year taking lots and lots of posts, so I’m going to try try try to summarize my 36th year in one post. We’ll see…

(And it turns out, I don’t have all of this film scanned. That will make it easier.)

Last time, I did manage to cover the last half of the year I was 35 in one post.

And that brings us to the summer of 2000. It was a crazy-busy one. I was still getting lots of headaches, still working half-time at the base library (and loving it), and still stressed about all I was trying to do. One nice new development was that Josh was “officially” (by base guidelines) at 12 years old, old enough to babysit Timmy when I was at work and Steve was out of town.

I say in my journal on June 17, “Today, Josh babysat Timmy for 4 hours while I was at work. They say that it went fine. I can’t believe that Josh is so old now.”

I was still working on my writing. And on June 24, I started reading my first children’s novel to my kids, before getting ready to send it out again. So that was a nice milestone.

On July 8, we purchased Harry Potter #4 and Steve started reading that to all of us at the kids’ bedtime. Just in time to bring it on vacation to Bavaria on July 15.

[And I just discovered that there are 6 rolls of film that I haven’t scanned. But I discovered this after I wrote out the description! Anyway, imagine beautiful pictures!]

That was another wonderful and memorable vacation. We stayed at a self-catering place (with a kitchen) in Bavaria, and we were close enough to the American base at Garmisch that we were able to buy food in the commissary there and buy gas at cheap American prices there. Plus, the dollar was super strong compared to the Deutschmark (This was before W. Bush was president), with the rate at better than 2 Deutschmarks to the dollar.

On Sunday, the 16th, we went to Schloß Linderhof, Castle #98, another of Mad King Ludwig’s lavish castles.

Then Monday we took a trip to the top of the Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany!

After we came down the mountain, we did some pedalboating on the Eibsee.

On Tuesday, July 18, we met my email writing buddy Kristin, whom I’d met the previous year in Paris, and her kids, in Innsbrück. Kristin was an American living in northern Italy, and this way we each only drove a couple hours. And our Castle Count passed 100! In Innsbrück, we touched Castle #99, the Goldener Daechl, Castle #100, Schloß Hofburg, and Castle #101, Ottoburg.

2000_07_18 1 Innsbruck

2000_07_18 Dolomites

After touching and touring some castles, our kids played their own version of Quidditch in a park while Kristin and I talked. Very fun!

And on Wednesday, we tried to go to the Passion Play at Oberammergau! You’ve probably heard of the Passion Play? It’s performed every 10 years, and people book tours way in advance and get packages that include a hotel in the city. Well, we’d heard that you can try for same-day tickets, and it’s far, far cheaper.

We did that — and there were no seats. But, we had an alternate plan, and traveled on to Munich, where we visited the Deutsches Museum!

2000_07_19 1 Deutsches Museum

2000_07_19 2 Deutsches Museum

Wednesday night, our reading of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire stopped at a dramatic place. The next morning, we all couldn’t stand it and we made a group decision to read one more chapter before we went out sight-seeing.

Well, one more chapter led to one more chapter — and we didn’t stop until we’d finished the book! But that wasn’t until the afternoon!

Fortunately, Thursday was the one day of the week that Schloß Neuschwanstein was open in the evening. So it worked out perfectly, and we went on a tour of Neuschwanstein.

This wasn’t our first time to Neuschwanstein, which was Castle #20. (Though I haven’t gone on about that visit because I didn’t have the film scanned yet.) But we knew that the best way to do it is take a ride up, then come back through the beautiful Pöllat Schlucht.

2000_07_20 2 Neuschwanstein

2000_07_20 3 Josh at Neuschwanstein

And on Friday, we really did get same-day tickets to the Oberammergau Passion Play!

2000_07_21 1 Passionspiele

They only cost 30 Deutchmarks — so less than 15 dollars each. (As opposed to thousands we could have spent on a packaged tour.) Of course, we soon found the catch — our seats were “obstructed,” with a big beam in front of them! However, there was no one behind us, so we could take turns standing to see better.

2000_07_21 2 Obstruction

The kids brought Game Boys, though we bought a photo book during the lunch break, and the kids actually followed along with the pictures part of the time.

2000_07_21 3 Binoculars

I was very pleased by how well I could follow the German. Of course, it was taken almost entirely from Scripture, which I’d memorized. And we had a program with all the words in German, so I could definitely tell what was going on.

The one thing I really didn’t like about it — They changed the ending! The best part of the story, and the reason I’m a Christian! Instead of following the gospel account that Jesus bodily rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples, they gave Jesus’ lines in the garden to an angel! Okay, that takes all the teeth out of it for me! They did show Jesus alive again, but as some kind of spirit. They were trying to leave it to the audience what you believe, but it really bothered me that they deviated so strongly from the account written in the Bible — in only that one area.

And a funny thing happened at lunchtime!

The Passion Play is 6 hours long. So they do 3 hours in the morning, take a long break for lunch, then go 3 hours in the afternoon. We were having lunch outdoors at a restaurant, along with lots of other people. I noticed the actors from the play eating at a table near us.

I said to Timmy, “Look! There’s Jesus!” (Forgive me, Lord.)

When the actor who played Jesus saw little Timmy staring at him, he smiled and stuck out his tongue. So Jesus stuck his tongue out at my child!

2000_07_21 4 Lunch

We went home the next day. And the next week, July 29, was Timmy’s 6th birthday!

2000_07_29 1 Birthday

2000_07_29 2 Birthday

2000_07_29 3 Birthday

Timmy’s 6th birthday felt very significant to me. Because Josh was 12, and I realized that once Josh lived as many more years as Timmy had already lived, they’d be 18 years old and ready to move out! And once Timmy had lived as many more years as Josh had already lived, he’d be 18 years old and ready to move out! Oh no! My little kids were growing up too quickly!

But I told Timmy before his birthday that when he turned six, his age plus his age would equal Josh’s age, and that his age times his age would equal my age.

He asked right away, “What’s ‘times’?”

I told him. I should also add that this was the time in Timmy’s life when we’d do math problems at bedtime. Timmy learned quickly that he could extend bedtime on and on and on with the magic words that were music to my ears, “Just one more math problem, Mommy, please!”

And one week after I told Timmy what “times” meant, Josh asked him, “What’s 16 times 4?” And Timmy figured it out in his head!

I was amazed. I never would have asked him such a hard one — but I did after that, and he continued to be impressive.

Then, August 3rd, our 7 weeks of visitors started. Stephanie and Bruce (Steve’s sister and her husband), were coming with their kids for 3 weeks. The day after they left, Steve’s parents arrived and stayed for four weeks! So we had guests from August 3 to September 20.

The reasoning was that they wouldn’t have to worry about where everyone would sleep if they didn’t come at the same time. But if they weren’t going to come at the same time, I really would have appreciated at least a week in between. But to be fair, both groups spent at least a week in the middle traveling on their own. So it wasn’t actually 7 solid weeks with guests in the house. And I couldn’t possibly take all 7 weeks off work, so I was working my 20 hours per week during their visits. It looks like that summer I was working two 8 hour days and one 4-hour day, so there were plenty of days free to go sight-seeing.

And despite how long we were hosting, we really did have some lovely times with all of them.

First stop was always Burg Falkenstein and dinner at Falkensteinerhof.

2000_08_03 1 Falkenstein

2000_08_03 2 Falkenstein

2000_08_03 3 Falkenstein

On August 8, we went back to Bitche Citadelle with the Stockhouses. This time it was open, and we did a complete audiotour about how the citadel was used during World War I.

2000_08_05 1 Bitche

2000_08_05 2 Bitche

2000_08_05 3 Bitche

2000_08_05 4 Bitche

2000_08_05 5 Bitche

I wanted to get myself a pink and flowery t-shirt with BITCHE across it, but they only had them in little girl sizes. For some reason, Stephanie didn’t want to get one for Karli!

Then on Monday the 7th, we went to Kurpfalzpark with them, an “Adventure Park.” Not so much rides, as things that get you somewhat active. We had a whole lot of fun.

2000_08_07 1 Kurpfalzpark

2000_08_07 2 Kurpfalzpark

2000_08_07 3 Kurpfalzpark

2000_08_07 4 Kurpfalzpark

2000_08_07 5 Kurpfalzpark

Then Stephanie and Bruce went to Rothenburg for a few days, and on August 11, we took them to the Rhein River and did a short cruise together. We managed to touch three new castles — Castle #102, Brömserburg, Castle #103, Adlerturm, and Castle #104 where we had dinner, Burg Lahneck.

2000_08_11 0a Adlerturm

2000_08_11 0b Cruise

2000_08_11 0c Cruise

2000_08_11 0d Bromserburg

And we went to one of our favorites, Burg Pfalzgrafenstein.

2000_08_11 1 Pfalzgrafenstein

2000_08_11 2 Pfalzgrafenstein

Timmy would gladly lower Josh into the dungeon!

2000_08_11 3 Dungeon

Here’s where we had dinner.

2000_08_11 4 Lahneck

2000_08_11 5 Lahneck

The next night, we went to a Fest where the Brass Quintet was playing.

2000_08_12 1 BQ

And the next day we caught the Medieval Fest in Kaiserslautern.

2000_08_13 1 Fest

2000_08_13 2 Fest

Then the Stockhouses headed to Berlin for a week. (See! It wasn’t really 7 weeks of visitors. Of course, Steve was gone at the same time, in Italy with the Band, so it wasn’t exactly relaxing for me. And in fact, I had a 3-day migraine.) When they got back, we took them to another favorite castle, Heidelberg.

2000_08_22 1 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 2 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 3 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 4 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 5 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 6 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 7 Heidelberg

2000_08_22 8 Heidelberg

August 22 was our last day with Stephanie & Bruce and their kids, and August 23 was the day Gram E and Gramp E arrived. To mix things up a little, we took them to Altenbaumburg Restaurant instead of Falkensteinerhof.

We met our friend Marie-Laurence and her family at a pow-wow in Kaiserslautern. (It was a tad surreal to go to an American Indian pow-wow in Germany.) We also visited the Landesgartenshau there. (And Steve was in England at the time.)

2000_08_26 1 Pow wow

2000_08_26 2 Pow wow

2000_08_26 3 Ktown

And August 28, 2000, was Josh’s first day of 7th grade and Timmy’s first day of first grade!

2000_08_28 1 School

We did eventually take Steve’s parents to Falkensteinerhof.

2000_09_14 Falkenstein

Gram E and Gramp E left on September 20. Then on Sunday afternoon, September 24, we did an outing to Luisen Park in Mannheim.

2000_09_24 1 Luisen Park

2000_09_24 2 Luisen Park

Oh, there’s so much more I’d like to talk about! But I really did want to finish talking about this year tonight.

So — let me deliberately try to mention only three more things.

We took a wonderful trip over Thanksgiving Break to Switzerland. Steve’s tuba had gotten damaged on a band trip, so he took it back to the factory where it was made, to be repaired. The owner gave us a tour!

2000_11_24 1 Tuba factory

And while we were there, we visited the CERN particle accelerator!

2000_11_25 1 CERN

2000_11_25 2 CERN

2000_11_25 3 CERN

And then the beautiful Chateau de Chillon, Castle #106, on Lake Geneva.

2000_11_25 4 Chillon

2000_11_25 5 Chillon

2000_11_25 6 Chillon

2000_11_25 7 Chillon

2000_11_25 8 Chillon

However, when we got home from vacation, we got terrible news — We had to move again!

Our landlords were selling the house. (I think it was another divorce.) So we had to move out. We found a place and moved in January. Alas! It wasn’t nearly as nice, though it was closer to the base. We got friends to help and moved to a new townhouse in Alsenborn.

It was brand-new, but since houses in Germany are mostly made of concrete, it was a bit extra damp. The odd thing about it was that it was on 6 levels. Sort of a half-floor on each level. It was a nice place — but we had been spoiled. We slept in the new place on December 29.

I’m going to gloss over the start of 2001. Moving in. I had the highest fever of my life — 104 degrees — when I had a kidney infection. The next week, Josh’s fever was just as high with a flu bug.

More pleasant, we went on a bus with a group from church to spend a day in Euro Disney in February.

And then we spent Spring Break in Paris. I have to post some of those pictures.

2000_04 1 Paris

We set Timmy the same challenge we’d given Josh in prior years. If he could get his head between the pyramids, he’d become super smart!

2000_04 2 Pyramids

He could!

2000_04 3 Pyramids

Castle #107 was the Palais Royale

2001_04_09 2 Palais Royale

2001_04_09 Palais Royale

2001_04_09 3 Palais Royale

Josh was happy to imitate this statue in the Louvre.

2001_04_09 4 Louvre

We got a wonderful view of the city from the Pompidou Centre.

2001_04_09 5 Pompidou Centre

We got to Notre Dame when it would storm for 10 minutes, then be sunny and beautiful for 10 minutes. I’m very happy with the April in Paris shots I got during some sunny interludes.

2001_04_10 1 Notre Dame

2001_04_10 2 Notre Dame

2001_04_10 3 Notre Dame

2001_04_10 4 Notre Dame

2001_04_10 5 Notre Dame

2001_04_10 6 Notre Dame

2001_04_10 7 Notre Dame

I had to pose again at Rue Lagrange!

2001_04_10 8 Rue Lagrange

And on the way home we stopped at the Science Museum, the Cité des Sciences et l’Industrie.

2001_04_11 1 Science

2001_04_11 2 Science

I love this one of the Timmys conferring!

2001_04_11 3 Science

Josh lost their head over this exhibit.

2001_04_11 4 Headless

And I actually got to Paris again in May. I went to another SCBWI conference May 11 to 13.

2001_05_12 1 Eiffel

So — I managed to cut out a lot, believe it or not! Here’s what I wrote at the end of the year I was 36:

I’m 37 years old today.

It’s been an excellent year — The boys had a good year at school. We went to Bavaria last summer. Steve’s sister and his parents visited. Timothy went from hesitant reading to voracious reading. We discovered he’s a Math Whiz. Josh took the SAT and did phenomenally. He was first place in the district in MathCounts. We spent a week in Paris in Spring Break, and I got to go to the SCBWI Conference. I had a breakthrough in my book and I’m really writing again. And we’re going to Ireland this summer.

So it was a good year. My boys are at such a nice age. Timmy’s still small and cuddly, but smart, too. And Josh is getting big and responsible.

This year, I will finish Unicorn Wings. Perhaps I’ll find a publisher! I like the shape of my life these days, with books and writing and working and being with my boys.

So now I can let this go for a few days! Next week — the greatest vacation of all our years in Europe — 3 weeks in Ireland!

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