Hide & Seek

Can you see it??

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Under the fern branch is a little mouse face looking back at you! I managed to capture this little one on of my walks!

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Spring Break, Week 2

We moved out of the dorm late on Saturday night and woke up in our own beds on Easter Sunday! We did go to church, but forgot to get a picture of all of us in our Easter “finery”! After our lunch (dinner?), we took the kids back to our favorite valley, so they too could experience the beauty of it!

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Audrey enjoying the beautiful view & the mostly-warm weather!

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My boy is getting SO close to my height!!

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Happy Easter!

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We decided that Eis Cafe was in order seeing as it was our “first day” of break!

On Monday, we made quick plans with friends to go to a “zoo” in a nearby town. We decided to go up earlier than them & walk around the town & get lunch! Ahem….5 guys…ahem!

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Except that the kids wanted McDonalds! It’s not nearly as good in my opinion, but it’s cheaper, so I was happy to oblige! Gotta love this McDonalds! Perhaps the classiest one around! Just to be clear it isn’t above the name, but to the right on the ground floor!

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The zoo didn’t have a ton of animals and a lot of them were “local” animals, but they were cool! I can’t say I’ve ever been closer to a pair of storchs in their nest!

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And who can resist baby bunnies?!?! This little one would have fit in the palm of my hand and was “SO FLUFFY!”

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The playgrounds were a huge hit with the kids!!

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Audrey was SO excited to get to pet a horse!

I think we must have been worn out from our week in the dorm, because we slept until almost 10:00 on Tuesday. Luckily I picked up my phone & saw that I had a dentist appointment at 10:30!! I made it, but only just barely! It’s fine though, who wants to anticipate a filling for much longer than 30 minutes!!

We didn’t do much on Tuesday, because the weather was cold & snowy. Germany certainly gives us quite the mix in April!

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The “snow” reminded me of the “Dippin’ Dots” ice cream they sell at stadiums!

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I love the juxtaposition of the white flowery tree against the stormy gray sky with the little bit of snow on the ground!

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The next morning we woke up to a wintery wonderland!

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The perfect day to do a puzzle!!

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On Thursday, we took a little adventure to Laufenburg. A town in Germany on the border with Switzerland. We didn’t cross the border as we didn’t have our passports & didn’t want to have to take a COVID test!

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Enjoying the sunshine in Laufenburg!

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What is it about water that draws kids to it?

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When exploring a new town, it’s important to try out the local bakery…or ice cream shop!

Friday, Micah went for a 30 km hike around our valley, while the kids & I stayed home! I think we each thought we got the better deal!!

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Saturday we went for another adventure starting in St. Blasen where they have a “Dom”

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Picnic lunch near the cathedral before exploring!

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Unlike a lot of cathedrals in Europe, this one was light, bright, & round!

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Don’t worry, St. Blasien has an ice cream shop!

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From St. Blasien, we drove to Menzenschwand & visited the waterfall!

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It was really beautiful!

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We ended at the Schluchtsee where the kids had fun throwing rocks into the water!

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On my Sunday walk with my friend, I was surprised to see the meadow covered in dandelions…looks like Spring might be truly here! Although, the weather still doesn’t seem to know that completely!

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Spring Break, Week 1

Spring Break is always two weeks long here at BFA to allow the dorm students to fly home. However, this year, it was decided that in order to avoid yet another 2 weeks of quarantine, the dorm students would stay here this year & they were given an extra week during Christmas break to spend with their families. What this meant was that the dorm staff wouldn’t be able to get a break from the students unless other people came in & staffed their dorm…and that is where we came in! We’ve been subbing every other Sunday evening at one of the dorms & when we heard that they would need staffing for a week, we volunteered to move in! We also recruited our friend who had been an RA at my old dorm & who we often subbed with! We figured we were “experienced” at this & already knew that we worked well together! The dorm is an integrated dorm, which means both boys & girls. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this when we first came back (as it was introduced while we were away), but I’ve come to really enjoy it as it allows these students to live like a true family with brothers & sisters. Plus, it allows siblings to live in the same dorm together even if they’re different genders!

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As I got out & packed my “weekend bag”, I realized that it had been over a year since I’d used it!

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This dorm, Maug, was built on top of another dorm the school owned & it is quite fresh & new seeing as it’s only about 10 years old! There are these massive windows in the living room that let in SO much light!

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Plus, it has the best view of Kandern!

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The dining room also has big windows!

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And an equally, if not better, view of the Black Forest hills! You can’t see it in this picture, but you can see a castle ruin on one of the hills!

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Audrey & I bunked together on the girls floor, which is alarmed each night at bedtime to make sure no one goes ‘wandering’ when they shouldn’t! The door isn’t locked, so the girls could get out in case of an emergency, but an alarm would go off letting the staff know that there was a problem!

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And yes, the students decided that I should be “Mama Powers”. Although, they were infinitely more excited about getting to call their principal “Papa Powers”!

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The first night we were there, it was March Madness & the Beavers were playing, so we had a whole group of students cheering for Oregon State! It was fun to see these kids from all over, cheering for “our” team! And even more fun when they won!

We moved in on Saturday morning & spent a lot of the day cooking meals & prepping food for Sunday. The students were home for the weekend, but then when Monday came around, the school had activities planned each day for the different grades. One day, they did “electives” at school (art, pottery, woodworking, cooking, financial planning, etc.). Another day they got to sleep in late, then have a “class party” with their fellow classmates. The third day they played games in the morning followed by lunch in the bigger town near us. I don’t think the students were super excited about having ‘structured’ activities for the first 3 days of their Spring Break, but it was super helpful for us in the dorm!

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In the afternoons & evenings, the students were able to do lots of relaxing things in the dorm, like play Risk!

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Or Squint! We took a lot of our games over & quite a few of them got played!

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Each day when the students got home from “school” we had a snack ready for them. Ezra was really wanting to share his love of Poutine with the dorm, so we did fries one day with different dipping options & the ingredients to make poutine. Several of the students had poutine, although they knew them as “cheese fries”!

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We were SO grateful that the central kitchen run by Sodexo stayed open during the week of “school”, so all we had to do was go in to the school & pick up our hot boxes with trays of food! It saved us a ton of time in the kitchens! The students were a little sad to have Sodexo on the break, so we sweetened the deal by making sure that there were fresh cookies or some type of dessert each evening! That certainly helped!

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Each student has a chore (or “gratis” as we call them..not sure why, but gratis means “free”, so maybe it’s free labor!), which meant that after each meal, the students would jump into action & leftovers were put away & dishes were washed! It was wonderful! Not that we, as staff, didn’t do a lot of dishes as well, because there isn’t anyone to clean up after snack or baking projects!

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Some evenings we kept open & just let the students do what they wanted, other evenings we had planned activities. Only two of them were mandatory. Sunday night, we introduced them to “Charades in a Bowl” & we laughed & laughed & laughed! It was such a fun time! The other mandatory evening was our worship night on Wednesday evening. It had been MONTHS since I’d been able to sing worship songs in a group & was SO wonderful!

I should also say at this point, that besides Micah & I and our friend, we almost always had another school staff member in the dorm with us, which was super helpful as they would help make a batch of cookies for dessert or play games with the students or just sit in the main common area (because it’s a mixed dorm we have to have an adult in the living area at all times). Two of them came & led our worship night, which was a huge blessing!

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Our friend was very good at making sure that the three of us got ‘down time’, because generally our days started around 8:00 a.m. and ended around 11:00 p.m. That’s 15-hour days and while you aren’t maybe doing ‘physical labor’ that entire time, you are still ‘on’ and that’s exhausting! This is a picture from a short walk that Micah & I went on one afternoon! The Spring weather was unbelievable!

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Another day we were able to go for a much longer hike & really enjoyed getting out to the next ‘valley’ over that is always stunning in the Springtime!

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I absolutely love when the fruit trees are in bloom!!

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We even found some cute cows on our walk!

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Seeing as we were there right up until the night before Easter, I decided we should off the students the chance to decorate easter cookies & then serve them for our dessert that night. It wasn’t as popular as I thought it might be, but several students did end up helping…

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…and the cookies all got decorated!

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Another activity that became a huge hit was an online game called “Geoguesser”. You get “dropped” into a google map somewhere in the world & can explore your surroundings a little bit. Then you have to use a map & zoom in and guess where you got dropped. You get points based on how close you were with your guess. It was fun to have students get excited & say “This is 100% ….. (insert their home country or where their parents work)”.

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On our last night, we had asked if one of our teachers who is Korean would come in & make an authentic Korean meal for the dorm (as there are several Korean students) & she agreed! There was a lot of work that went into the meal, but several students jumped in & helped with the prep

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…and the cooking!

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While a lot of work went into this meal (& very little of it by me), it meant SO much to our Korean students to be able to eat something familiar! I think they all went back for seconds! I know that I certainly enjoyed it!

It was a long, full 8 days, but the chance to get to know this group of students so much better was worth whatever free time we may have given up! Our kids had a blast and were not ready to leave when our time was up! (Ezra because he got SO much screen time and Audrey because the dorm parents stayed in their apartment & she had two built-in playmates practically around the clock!) For Micah & me this opportunity will certainly be a highlight from this school year!

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Middle School Drama Elective

The quarter is over & my first class is finished! It went pretty well. I had forgotten how much ‘energy’ middle schoolers have, but all in all, it was a good class. We ended up recording the two skits that we practiced & sending them out to the parents. Not nearly as fun as having a live audience, but at least the students got to have a project to work on!

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The first skit was about all the things that make up “Easter” & what’s really important (Jesus’ death on the cross)! So, we had Easter candy, Easter eggs, the Easter bunny, & even Peeps!

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The second skit was about an Easter Animal contest complete with a chicken, bunny, lizard, & lamb!

For both skits we kept costumes & props pretty minimal, but I think it got the point across & the students enjoyed it!

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Dessert Contest

The dorm we sub at had a dessert contest on Friday & I was invited to come as a ‘guest judge’! It was a ton of fun & I now understand how the judges on the Great British Bake-Off just eat one spoonful of the amazing food in front of them! There were four teams of desserts to judge:

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Pecan Pie Brownie (a brownie with pecan pie filling on top) – given that the brownie was still warm & very gooey, this was so delicious!

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Cinnamon Apple donuts – These were crispy on the outside & warm inside…who doesn’t love fried carbs!?!?

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A two-layer vanilla cake with caramel between the layers & meringue icing! The presentation was super impressive & the cake was super buttery!

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A no-bake cheesecake with a pecan crust! It was a wonderful mixture of salty & sweet!

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We took our voting very seriously! One of the judges even had an “out of 10” score system for herself in various areas!

It took a lot of deliberation, but ultimately the caramel cake was awarded best all-around!

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Some of the aftermath of creating four different desserts in the same kitchen! And this was even after some clean-up had already happened!

It was fun to get to be part of the evening & get to know the students a little bit better.

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