The past two weeks have been full of holiday activities. The gray skies and constant flurries of snow have added to the excitement of the last couple weeks of school. Two weekends ago, Wittlingen dorm hosted an open house. The girls dressed like movie stars and enjoyed a Hollywood themed night. This past Tuesday, the dorm celebrated American Thanksgiving, complete with turkey, stuffing and pies. It was great to have a family celebration as a dorm. This past Saturday the girls attended their formal Christmas banquet. It was a Masque ball theme, so there was some serious make-up and hair preparation all day on Saturday. The girls looked beautiful!
On Sunday one of our girls came home from the hospital after a successful knee surgery. She is recovering well and just doing good all around. We are so glad to have her back in the dorm! Also, basketball season started! Our one basketball player has been working hard, and we are looking forward to cheering her on this Friday, at the first home game! On Tuesday after school, the girls came home and decorated our Christmas tree and made cut out frosted sugar cookies. They are enjoying all of the holiday activities, and are looking forward to Christmas break as well.
We are preparing the girls for beginning the study process this week for their semester exams. For some, this is a brand new endeavor and we are walking through it with them to adequately prepare them for the next two weeks. ! The last thing the girls want to do right now is study more than they already are, but at BFA these exams weigh heavily 10-20% of their overall semester grade.
The snow in Kandern has helped lift everyones spirits. We've had impromptu sledding sessions and snowball fights. This Saturday we're planning on driving up the hill to a higher sledding spot and having hot chocolate afterwards. Everyone is ready for Christmas break and for studying to be over, we are trying our best to get through the next few weeks with as much joy as possible!
A spirit day where the girls dressed up like little kids
Trying to get the birthday girl in the van so they can dunk her in a fountain!
Cupcakes on a shopping day over the weekend- the first cupcake shop I've seen in Germany!
Typical look from Luke as he puts up with crazy girls on a daily basis
Yet another week has come and gone. This was one of the more eventful weeks due to the fact that our seniors left for their class trips to Rome on Thursdays and our juniors left for Normandy as well. It was a weekend with our 11 sophomores and freshmen which was a welcomed time to connect one on one and in small groups with them. Here is the week at a glance:
Tuesday we started our tradition of a senior snack in the dorm parent apartment. We wanted to touch base with them before they left for a week and it was a needed break in their night of papers, studying for tests and packing for their trip.
Wednesday we brought McFlurries from McDonald's to their lunch for room check rewards. Their rooms get checked off 3 times a week and we had 11 out of 20 girls get the reward this time. I think it was good incentive for those who didn't get it this time!
Seniors and juniors left with goody bags in hand Thursday night. Last year we had only 2 girls here after they left, so this year it was wonderful to have 11 girls stay behind for the weekend.
On Friday we invited the middle school dorm over for dinner, a digital scavenger hunt and a movie on the big screen. The girls were amazing with their "little brothers and sisters" for the night. The scavenger hunt was a hit, which Bonnie created. They had to run around Kandern and take photos of specific things like a group member and a cow or three people next to a garden gnome. We judged the pictures and handed out prizes. After that they watched the Emperor's New Groove and called it a night. Our girls slept in the hallway as is the tradition passed down to them by their upperclassmen for the first night of them being gone.
Saturday we had waffles and cartoons. We gave them a free pass on cleaning their rooms since they are covering for all the upperclassmen's gratis' while they are gone. In the afternoon we took two vans to Lorrach and went shopping and walking around. It was unseasonably warm this weekend (finally!) so they enjoyed being outside and getting out of the dorm. For dinner we all made pizzas together and everyone got their own half. At night the freshman were invited to a cafe masquerade at a sister dorm and our sophomores went on a late night "torch" walk with some friends and a couple staff. Corey from upstairs spent all night making homemade torches for it and they really enjoyed it.
Today has been a wonderfully peaceful day. We started having a family style breakfast on Sunday mornings which has been a welcomed addition to the weekend. We make a yummy breakfast and all the girls come to the set table dressed and ready for church at 9am. We have a family sit down meal with name tags and the whole deal. It puts us all in a better frame of mind for the morning and going to church. Nobody is racing around frantically trying to get dressed. We all walked there together in the morning sunshine and back. In the afternoon the girls worked on getting their homework done so they could hang out. The sophomores all went to HBR, a brother dorm. They played soccer, volleyball and football and I have not seen the girls have that much fun with another dorm ever! It was a great day for it and a release of energy! Tonight for dorm fellowship we made encouragement cards. We're listening to jazz and being creative. It has been a great feel of a day going into the week.
Tomorrow the freshman and sophomores have a field trip for the day. The juniors get back around 10:30am and we'll make them sleep for as long as they can!
Making sure the guys know not to come down in their robes
Showing off the flags of France and South Korea
Last week started out for our staff with the yearly traditional prank pulled on us by our lovely girls. We woke up Wednesday morning to a dorm full of 22 boys and no breakfast to feed them! We had made Egg McMuffins the night before with the intention of giving the girls the morning to sleep in and have breakfast on the go. Well....they decided to take their breakfast to go and leave the boys with no food. Last year was the first year that Luke and I experienced this prank tradition where our dorm swaps in the middle of the night with HBR (a boys dorm about a 30 minute walk away). They take separate paths and walk as an entire dorm to surprise each others staff. The girls got the better end of the deal since they got Egg McMuffins AND pancakes. Smart they are. We had our first hot lunch this past Friday. Every other Friday we bring a hot meal to school during the girls lunch time to relieve them of their regular sandwich and veggies. We made a yummy Thai dish that Luke learned from his mom and the girls loved it. Friday evening most of the girls went out to a campfire and cooked S'mores while talking. 6 of them camped outside and woke up to a wonderful morning mist. I took our seniors (minus one who was at volleyball) to HBR Saturday morning and we redeemed our Palmgarten name by making them biscuits and gravy. It was a hit and another memory for the year. On Sunday we had a picnic and then a more relaxed afternoon. For dorm fellowship we talked a lot about treating each other as sisters in this new found tight knit community of the dorm. I talked with them about the need for extra grace, forgiveness and proper conflict resolution. We all come from different countries, families, different parents, different siblings, and we're bound to not all be best friends, but we are a family here- home away from home. For the returners, they understand the need for a positive and loving dorm environment that is accepting of who you are and walks towards growth with you. I felt like it went well. Afterwards we served sundaes and watched the new Alive and Wonderland. This week I can already tell that girls are tired and getting sick. We're dropping like flies, me included! It's a natural fact of life as 23 people come together and share germs. It gets better, and the girls develop better food sharing habits and things will calm down. I've been pedaling vitamin C and telling them to wash their hands all the time =) Play tryouts were the last two days and we have 4 girls who made the play! This weekend will be a much more relaxing weekend full of sleeping in and lazy days so the girls can get some rest! Luke and I have our first weekend off starting on Thursday. I'm running the Basel Marathon on Sunday so I'm trying to get some rest and get over this cold to be healthy in time for Sunday.
Luke and I just arrived back in beautiful Kandern, Germany. We spent a wonderful 7 weeks in the states visiting family, churches and supporters. It went by a little too fast, but as we were flying into Basel we realized how excited we were to be back for a third year at BFA. This is the first year of our marriage that we haven't moved or changed jobs and THAT feels really great! On Sunday we started up with our resident life orientation. We were able to meet most of the new staff that will be working in the dorms and it is such a great group of people. We won't know who our new RA will be for quite a few more days so if you are reading this, you can pray for wisdom in that decision. Hopefully in the next few days we will find out how many girls and who we will have as well. There are a lot of unknowns, but we feel more confident going into our second year. The summer was such a good time for feeling all the support and prayers of all our friends and families back home. Thank you to everyone who made us feel so loved and cared for!
A few highlights from the week and weekend: - This past week was the 2010 Music Festival. The week is filled with nervous musicians who have practiced countless hours and perform by memory in front of a judge. In Palmgarten alone we had 4 piano performers, 2 strings performances and 2 vocal performances. Out of the 8 performances, Julia, Krista and Rachel were chosen to perform in the Honors Recital which took place on Friday evening.
- The juniors turned in their final poetry project this week. It was an intense art studio in the dining area with the girls working on the creative element to their projects.
- Soccer tryouts concluded this week and we have 7 girls who made the soccer team, 2 who are going to be managers, and one videographer! Yes, that means 10 girls gone on away games. This weekend was their first game of the season against Bamberg and they won 4 to 0! Palmgarten's own Rachel scored one of the goals.
- Track practices started up as well. We have two girls competing this season and one who is helping manage three days a week. Track did not compete this weekend, but will start up with a home match when we get back from spring break.
- For the 9 girls left in the dorm, we tried to plan an eventful weekend. Friday was gorgeous outside, a nice break from the rain and snow. A few girls went to support the Honors Recital and then we had a campfire cookout with our dorm and Maugenhard. Saturday was a low key morning with waffles, eggs and sausages! A few girls went to the thermal baths with Lizzy and a few girls went with me to a volleyball championship. A teacher volunteered her home for students to watch Sherlock Holmes, so most of the girls went to see that to end the Saturday night. Sunday we are planning on dying eggs for Easter and having an Easter Egg Hunt later on in the evening.
Polishing off a strawberry pie from the birthday girl
The girls after our Valentine's Dinner
Cooking LOTS of pasta
Sadie Hawkins dance: teaching the students a few Scottish dances in pairs
Happy ladies after buying chocolate in Brussels
Emily and Katey working the pancake breakfast fundraiser for Haiti
Our one basketball player at her last senior game with her parents
Students getting ready to usher in the varsity basketball team
Sledding on the golf course behind our dorm
For those of you who receive our newsletter, you know that the past two months have been filled with activity! These are just a few of the pictures from the past two months. We just had a weekend off in Brussels with two good friends. It was very refreshing, and we had a great time driving up there. The girls are at High School Retreat right now, they will arrive back tomorrow evening. We're hoping that they've had a great weekend with a new speaker, skiing and late nights!