My schedule

This is a post on what I do daily and the times I do them. This is my schedule only, not Sarah’s, mom’s, or dad’s.

8:30 a.m. – wake up.
9:00 a.m. – eat breakfast.
9:25 a.m. – get dressed.
9:30 a.m. – start school work.
1:00 p.m. – make lunch.
1:30 p.m. – eat lunch.
2:00 p.m. – read or write a post.
2:30 p.m. – play on the computer or iPad.
3:00 p.m. – watch T.V. or juggle.
4:00 p.m. – play at the park.
5:00 p.m. – make supper.
6:00 p.m. – eat supper.
6:30 p.m. – play at the park with Rose and Ellen.
8:00 p.m. – come back.
8:30 p.m. – watch a Top Gear or IT Crowd.
9:00 p.m. – get ready for bed.
9:30 p.m. – go to bed.

These times are not exact. School work is normally math, spelling, and history. We have finished other subjects like Anne Frank, chess, French, and so on. We are still doing a little bit of French. We should be doing more. When I said “make lunch” and “make supper” it’s because I help cook as a subject of school (Home Economics). This schedule does not count for weekends or days we do something out of the ordinary, like today. Today we are having a guest over for supper.

Having New Friends in Enniscrone

Robin and I went to the park one day and there were two sisters there. Their names are Rose and Ellen and they have a dog named Arthur. We played with them and we all had a good time. They go to the National school here in Enniscrone. National school is what they call primary/elementary school in Ireland. We played in the playground at Waterpoint and we took shelter underneath the play structures when it was raining. It rains here all everyday, many times! Rose is in year 4 and Ellen is in year 5. They don’t use grades here, they use years.

Ellen and Rose live near the post office because their dad is the postmaster here. We usually play with them when they are done school and their home work is all done.

We finished Anne’s diary yesterday. It ends with “Anne’s Diary Ends Here” because they were found on the morning of August 4, 1944. It was a really good book telling about all the problems they had in hiding.

Anne Frank’s Diary

For a while we have been reading Anne Frank’s diary. Her diary is much better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be telling about what happened during the concentration camps. She died at the second camp she was at.

Anne’s diary talks about when her family and another family were in hiding from the Nazis. I know about the Nazis from The Sound of Music because they were trying to force Captain Von Trapp to join the Nazis and that is why the von Trapp family had to escape from Austria. I think that The Sound of Music is an amazing story telling. We have a new copy of the movie that has a sing-a-long option and I choose it a lot! The of my family sometimes think I am crazy!

Anne Frank Tree has Fallen

I just heard that Anne Frank’s tree fell over yesterday. The large gust blew over the tree and it broke and toppled. I feel extremely fortunate that I got to see the tree briefly less than a week ago. It was an old chestnut tree that was in very bad shape. It was not much different in looks from any other chestnut tree and would not be special except that it was outside of the back window of The Annex where Anne Frank lived. Because she wrote about it and it gave her comfort, it became special to those who knew Anne Frank’s story.

And the church bells softly chiming

As hard as it may be to imagine, I am going to miss the ringing of the bells of the Westerkerk down the road. The church rings it’s bells every fifteen minutes. Really, every fifteen minutes we hear church bells. When they ring on the hour there is a bit of a preamble followed by a number of chimes equal to the hour. Ringing on the half and quarter hour marks are not as elaborate.

In Anne Frank’s diary, Anne remarks that the bells are like a companion. I find them very comforting and I looked forward to the time between noon and 1:00pm when the carillon would play. It is very beautiful.

I remember when we were told that the bells would ring four times an hour all day and night and I thought that it would drive me insane. It is quite the opposite. The lady that told me said I would get used to it very quickly; and I did. I no longer notice them unless I make the effort to listen.

We only have two more nights here in Amsterdam and we are in the midst of Sail 2010, a festival of tall ships that happens every five years. There are concerts on the canals and parties all over the city. These obscure the bells a bit so I have to listen a bit more carefully on these last couple of evenings. I am just about to drop off to sleep at the moment and The concert on Prinsengracht canal nearest to us has just ended and I can hear the bells again.

Visiting the Anne Frank House

We were a little worried that we would miss visiting the Anne Frank House. Every time we have gone to the museum the queue has been very long. Even when we visited last night the queue was to the end of the block. And, it is hard to miss the sign that mentions that the last people to be admitted would be at 9:30pm. Today we woke early, had breakfast, and walked over to the museum to wait for it to open. We arrived at about 8:35am, twenty-five minutes before 9:00pm (opening time) and the queue was already blocking the side street and was heading down the block. In comparison to previous visit, we were very close to the entrance. It was raining a bit–that may have kept the crowd down as well. Google Street View (below) will give you an idea of a typical lineup.


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It was entirely worth the wait. If anybody ever wanted an example of the importance and power of words and storytelling, the Anne Frank House provides it. Similarly, as a means of expressing the state of Jews in Amsterdam in the Second World War (and, by extension, in the rest of the Nazi occupied countries) complete with fear, horror, and sadness of their situation, Anne Frank’s words provide an incredibly strong voice. The Secret Annex in the back of her father’s store on Prinsengracht is a small space that held eight people until they were betrayed.

The museum works hard to start people thinking and talking about racism, anti-semitism, and other forms of discrimination. One of our favorite displays was the Free2Choose area where a group of people watched films and were asked philosophical questions regarding freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and similar topics. The questions were absolutely not easy. They were complex enough to divide the audience, who were able to vote on the yes or no questions in real time. Some questions showed strong majority opinion and others were split almost evenly.

When we stopped in the cafeteria for coffee and hot chocolate we sat around and talked about some of the questions. Even Janet and I disagreed (or at least had a hard time formulating a strong opinion) on some of the answers and what is “right.” I promise that the questions were not simple. I have started looking for learning materials for children on moral philosophy.

The museum obscures the windows to the outside of the Annex and one of the things we had wanted to see was unavailable (and no photography was allowed in the museum). We were unable to see the chestnut tree that Anne looked out at and wrote about. This was a disappointment as we had wanted to see it and were were asked to take a photograph of it for friends. The tree is entirely surrounded by buildings and is not visible from any street so we were quite sure we were out of luck.

However, because the museum staff were exceptionally kind, I figured it would be worth asking if I could get a photograph of the tree. I had to wait a few minutes but a young lady guided me through the back areas of the museum and into a small garden at the back. From there I was able to photograph the top portion of the tree (the tree is actually in the neighbour’s garden that is obscured by a hedge). The tree is not going to live much longer and needs to be supported by metal beams. The view was very restricted and the green pictures below were the best I could do to capture the garden and the tree in the backyard.

Oh, and the picture of the girls was just as we left the museum and the queue in the background has grown to a common (long) length.

Lunch at the library

We went to the Anne Frank house today and the line was the longest we have seen thus far. We decided not to wait as it appeared to be at least two hours worth of a lineup. We chose to walk to the public library by way of Dam Square and the Himalaya Tea House. Both of these places have been recounted previously by Janet but I had not been to either. Both were excellent, if not a little hectic in the light rain, which, for some inexplicable reason, seemed to cause people to fill stores, queue for hours, and wander through the streets.

We decided to head to the library to get some late lunch that turned into an early supper.

I would never have thought of visiting a public library for food. We only went because we had been told that the top floor of the library had a restaurant that provided an excellent view of the city. In fact, we were told this by the boat captain on our canal cruise and by the lady who owned the bed and breakfast where we stayed on our return to Amsterdam. Two recommendations were enough.

I was awestruck when we entered the building. It is beautiful (even one writer who is not a fan of the architect admits its beauty: “this is joy”; and there are lots of good pictures). It turns out that the library

We were told that it would make sense to get a library membership when we arrived and I now feel like a complete fool for not doing so. It seemed rather silly to get a membership to a public library as a part of our vacation. However, having seen what the library offers, it makes perfect sense. There is an enormous collection of video and audio. The magazine floor is equally huge. The environment inside the library is comfortable and the lighting is beyond anything I have seen before. There are computers everywhere and, unlike most libraries, there are enough computers to ensure availability. There was no need for signup sheets because there was no need for lineups. It was that big and there were that many computers.

The video below will introduce you to the library (English subtitles).

Because our plan was to go to the Anne Frank house, neither Janet nor I brought a camera. We have no photos of the library. So, the photos you see here have been taken from various sights where people have been equally infatuated with the library.

We did wander over to the NEMO science centre after our supper at the library but we found it closed. The shape of the NEMO is such that a person can climb up the slope of the building exterior to the top of the building (on the outside). The large top area is a series of concrete stairs that extend across the width of the building. It is called the BovenNEMO. In the centre there is a waterfall that travels down the centre of the stairs (looking something like a fish ladder). There were areas for games (checkers, connect-4, etc.) and places to look over the city–we were quite high up. There was also a small snack bar in an enclosed area. The best part of the snack bar was the elevator that (I thought) would take us straight down instead of walking down the rather long stairs. It turns out that it does take people straight down. Unfortunately, it takes people straight down into the darkened and empty (of people) museum.

We felt decidedly awkward looking at the darkened exhibits that were devoid of any people. Neither Jan nor I thought it was particularly smart to get out of the elevator and wander around a closed museum–it was plenty creepy just looking out of the elevator doors. We did try a couple of floors before being sure it was fully closed before returning to the top floor where we were now quite happy to walk down the many stairs to ground level.

Our plan was to return to the Anne Frank house around 7:00pm as we had been told that this was a good time to visit because the crowds were gone by then. The line was longer than it was in the afternoon so we came home. We will have to try the lineup very early in the morning. It is very high on our list to visit but it appears that we will be spending alt of time queueing up for the privilege. We have plans for tomorrow so I am not sure if we will queue tomorrow morning. I do want to visit The Annex before we leave.

I will leave you with a photoset from “The Shifted Librarian” of the Amsterdam public library.

Going to the Anne Frank House

Before we leave, we will go to the Anne Frank museum because it is an important part of Amsterdam history. Because Anne Frank and her family hid in Amsterdam for 2 years before Anne and her family were found. So, before we leave Amsterdam, we will be going to the building where they and another family were hiding. It would be really terrifying to live in Amsterdam with all those people coming to take you and your family away from your friends and your family.

I am a little nervous and excited to go to the museum. It will be exciting to see where Anne and the dentist (I forget the dentist’s name) were sleeping when they were in the Annex. I just feel a little nervous inside.

We might get to see the attic where Anne went to be alone. I do not know if they have that blocked off or not. While I am writing this I am listening to the bells that Anne was listening to. The bells sound beautiful. I do not know what song they are playing. It sounds a little like the songs from The Sound Of Music. I can understand how Anne found them comforting because she would not have had many friends to play with.

Click here for a large image.

Anne named her diary “Kitty” and told her evereything that was going on in the Annex, like she would if she had a best friend. She told her things that only a best friend would know. I forget how old Anne was when she died. She was only a teenager; I know that much for sure.

When I finished this post, my father and I looked up how old Anne was when she went into hiding. Anne was only 13, the same age I am now. She died when she was 15. That’s only two years older than I am.

Also, Fritz Pfeffer was the dentist in the secret annex. He is called Mr. Dussel in Anne’s diary. Dussel means “twit“, “nincompoop”, or “boob“. Anne didn’t like the dentist very much.

The bells at the Westerkerk go off every 15 minutes to say what time it is and the carillon (set of 50 tuned bells) plays every Tuesday from 12 noon to 1 p.m. That was right now when I was writing this post.

Preparing for the Anne Frank House Museum

Yesterday the girls and I finished reading Anne Frank’s Story by Carol Ann Lee. It is a very sad but important story. Though we were prepared for the ending, everyone still cried. I had selected this biography hoping that it would be a bit easier for the girls as it was written for children. I am not certain that it was, as it went into details that Anne’s diary never would have. It followed Anne’s life from start to sad end at Bergen-Belsen just weeks before the concentration camp was liberated by the British Army.

I have a copy of the Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl, the 60th anniversary edition edited by Anne’s father, Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler of the Anne Frank Foundation in Switzerland. I believe that I will read this copy with the girls as well, but I won’t make them write about it. That proved to be pretty overwhelming for them. I believe that the diary itself is a much more hopeful book, even though Anne’s life ends in tragedy.

We plan to visit the Anne Frank Museum this week. We have walked by many times and witnessed the long lines and discussed the importance of visiting. Though you are not here to go to the museum with us, I have found a link to a virtual tour of the house that you may wish to go through for yourself. I am overwhelmed at the content of this site. There are stories from Anne’s diary, photos, an interview with her father, Otto, a virtual world where you can explore the annex where the eight hid for 2 years.

Anne Frank’s story – the final chapters

Today we finished the last three chapters of the book. Anne’s family and four others hid in the annex from July 6, 1942 until they were caught by the Nazis on August 4, 1944. No one knows who told the Nazis about their hiding spot but there are some strong cases against a new employee who started to work at factory where they were hiding. While they were hiding the children did a lot of school work. Anne did a lot of reading and writing. In addition to her diary, Anne also wrote stories. She decided she wanted to be a writer. She rewrote her diary, but she left the original alone.

The second last chapter was very sad because that was the chapter where Anne Frank dies. She died at a concentration camp called Bergen-Belsen in southern Germany. She died from a disease called typhus and her sister Margo also died just before Anne from typhus too. Her mother died at Auschwitz from hunger and distress after her daughters were sent from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen without her. Anne died two or three weeks before Germany lost the war and the concentration camps were shut down.

Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was the only one from the annex to survive. His friends were overjoyed that he had survived. They let him be in charge of his companies again. He knew right off that his wife was dead, but he had hoped that his daughters were ok. He spent every free moment of his time asking people if they were alive, when would they be coming back. A few months later he got news, but not the news he was hoping for. There was only one upside to this and that is, he was able to move on. He did not let what happened destroy the rest of his life. He also was given Anne’s diary and her rewrites. He was happy about this. He took Anne’s original diary and her rewrites and put them together to make the Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl that we know today.