Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cooking & Baking

Last night I made homemade mushroom buckwheat soup (it was supposed to be barley but the lady at Hieber's gave me buckwheat instead...and I even asked in German for barley! augh!) along with homemade gluten free carrot and raisin muffins. Both turned out really good, even if I do say so myself! I think I'm going to enjoy cooking and baking and experimenting with new healthy recipes!

Here's the finished products!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Silly Me featuring JC

Today began like any other day in Choir, except that I had forgotten to put up a Fun Music Fact of the Day on the board. So, because there was no time to look one up, I resorted to a fact that probably not many of my kiddos were aware and wrote:

Before he was a megastar, Justin Timberlake was in a boy band called Nsync 
Extra Bonus Points/Extra Bounty Bar if you can name one of Nsync's songs

JD raised his hand and said, "I can't name a song, but I can name another member. Does that count?"

I told him it did.

What he said next immediately turned me into a 13-year-old watching the Mickey Mouse Club or the 20-year-old at an Nsync concert:

"JC Chasez but the only reason I know that is because me and my parents have been to his house."

I was speechless.

"You'vebeentojcchasezshouse?!" (it literally came out in one run-on sentence just like that).

"Yeah, my parents know his parents,"

EY raised her hand and said, "Miss Stroud, your face is turning red."

Of course it was! 

And then... then I heard myself say, "Oh my gosh could you get me his autograph?!"

The entire class burst into laughter watching their teacher act like a moron.

I apologized for being a weirdo. To which SB said, "Don't worry, Miss Stroud. We're all a little weird at BFA. You fit right in."

Well, there you go.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Fourth Week of School nearly finished. Crazy how fast time has flown.

I'm in love with my job. I can honestly say that my heart has not been so content and at peace doing anything else.

Yes, there are days that are hard. That will come with any job in any place. To act as though everyday was perfect here would be a lie. But I love it. Every blessed moment here, even the ones that hurt, are ordained by none other than God himself.

My heart is happy. My soul is refreshed. And I'm clinging to Him, who always brings joy in all things.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Recipe or Two

Yesterday, I made homemade Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies. I'm discovering that I really enjoy cooking and baking again. Having lived in a dorm for the last 2 years, cooking has been something of a lost art for me. But yesterday I found this specific recipe (thank you, Pinterest!) and decided to give it a go.

Here's how they turned out:

I've also started to follow two healthy bloggers for other recipes:

On Saturday, I'll be trying my hand at this soup and these gluten free muffins!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Weekend of Festivals

Fall has arrived in Germany/Switzerland and I LOVE it!

Yesterday, a few of us met up at the Pottery Festival here in Kandern. I ended up purchasing 3 mugs for coffee and tea purposes.

Last night was our church's annual Harvest Supper. It was a great time to be with my lovely family at ACB!

Today, Amy & Rachel & I headed over to Bottmingen for the Kurbis (Pumpkin) Festival. This is something that Anne and I did when we were roomies back in Weil years ago. We waited in line for over an hour for some yummy pumpkin soup & pumpkin cake.

Then, we walked around taking in the sights from the festival. Obviously, there were lots of pumpkins, but beautiful flowers and scenery to match

All in all, I loved this weekend :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Storch Nights

Last night, I got to go to Storch Dorm and hang out with some pretty awesome girls. Every other Thursday I will be a dorm sub there and I am SUPER excited about this opportunity. I get to work alongside my dear friend Marit and assist Melissa and Callie with their girls. Here are a few pics from last night. As you can see, we only had a little bit of fun ;)

Storch girls posing for a pic


sweet smiles


Melissa and I starting a dance party

and getting students to join in!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Small Groups & Spiritual Emphasis Week

In the midst of the "yuck", God always provides a huge light at the end of the tunnel. This week has been difficult, but at the same time so rewarding. For one, it's Spiritual Emphasis Week. We begin each day with chapel and our speaker and singer have been great! The kids have really gotten into the songs. I love watching them sing and worship!

Last night also began our Small Groups with the high schoolers. Elizabeth and I have 7 sophomores and they are awesome! I love our girls and the joy they brought to my apartment last night. I can already tell it's going to be a great year with each of them. This morning as I walked to school, I ran into two of them and was greeted by a big hug. I love it!! What a way to start off a new day :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Transition, You Stink

Transitioning has never been the easiest thing for me to do, no matter how many times I've lived in Europe. Cultural transition this time has been easier, because I knew what to expect living in Germany and this part of the world. But finding my place has been a little rougher. I love the community here, but because I'm a "newbie" it's a little more difficult to find where I go in that community.

TeachBeyond has been fantastic about their Member Care mentoring program and yesterday I was able to meet with my mentor for 2 hours over tea on my couch! It was so refreshing to know that what I'm feeling is not out of the ordinary, nor am I crazy or anything like that. The feelings that I'm feeling are normal and what most people go through when they are in a new community like this.

I do have to say it has been so much easier this time around communicating across the globe! 10 years ago when I was an au pair, Skype didn't exist, there was no such thing as social networking, and the cheap rates you can get now with telephone companies were unheard of. It's been great being able to Skype, FaceTime, FB, and even TEXT with friends and family back home and not have to worry about costs. That does make it a little easier.

Please pray for me if you think of it. I am having fun. I love what I do. But transitioning is exhausting and tiring and lonely at times. It's just the hump right now.

The honeymoon stage is over. Life is being lived.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Bike Ride...

They called it the "Slow Up Basel." They said it was a bike ride through Basel. They lied....well, sort of.

It was a bike ride through Basel. It was also a total of 20 kilometers (13 miles) through Germany and France as well. I came dressed for a leisurely bike ride through the city. No, no. You'd think by now after my 3rd time living here, I'd know that when Europeans say "go for a walk" they mean "go for a hike" and when they say "bike ride" that just means "a mini Tour de France."

But I'm glad I didn't give into my instincts at first, which was to go find a coffee somewhere!

We started off (me and fellow members of ACB) from the church and for the first ten minutes or so, I was pretty wary of everything. We hadn't gotten to the path to follow yet and so there were cars and people and we were in the middle of the city. Then the path became easier and although there were a few hiccups (getting yelled at in Swiss German because I stopped suddenly) and parts of the ride that were barely rideable (the footbridge leading into France), I ended up loving it. Riding past the Rhein and getting to see gorgeous scenery throughout Switzerland, France, & Germany was like nothing else I've ever experienced on a bicycle!

In true British fashion, we met back at the church for tea and cakes!!!

I forgot my camera, but really, having to keep up with the pace provided no time to stop and take pictures, anyway.

I ended up loving today. A lot.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Friday!

...and now you might have that annoying song in your head, right? Haha!

As I sit at my desk typing this, music is blaring downstairs between the school buildings. Kids are talking exuberantly. Loudly. They're ready for the weekend, too!

It's been a great week. But I'm ready for
this weekend:

...having friends over for macaroni & cheese & some fun tonight
...venturing into Basel on Saturday
...Slow Up Basel Bike ride on Sunday
...Downton Abbey marathon Saturday night
...sleeping in
...worshiping at ACB
...enjoying the weather

Enjoy yourself & Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Regrouping and Randomness

Today was MUCH better. I started off the morning reading this passage from 1 Corinthians:

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, tobring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

I got to school on time today and was able to relax a bit before heading to Choir. My kiddos sounded awesome today. I love what I do.

Today was my 2nd time with Middle School Choir and since I didn't have an accompanist, we instead went over the syllabus and a Get to Know You sheet. I'm still learning how to adjust to teaching Middle Schoolers, though today was easier. They're a sweet little bunch.

Then back to school for High School Play practice, which lasted an hour and a half. We're doing the play Quiet Summer and I'm loving being back in the world of the stage for sure!

After everything was finished, Jill drove me to Lörrach so that I could buy a phone (phone and internet get hooked up on THURSDAY! YAY!) and then over to the Reads' so I could get my boxes that Brie mailed over the summer. It was a bit of an adventure coming back. Neither of us was familiar with the route back to Kandern and so we ended up driving over to Rheinfelden. We joked that at least we didn't end up in another country. That's always a good thing when you live on the border of 2 of them!

To end the night, I went to a New Staff Gathering to debrief about what we've been learning in the last few weeks over here. I finally got back to my apartment, had a small unpacking party and got excited at things I hadn't seen for a long time (since leaving Boston), and now I'm listening to the rain pound against the roof as I type this.

Yes, today was a much better day. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sometimes, it's just one of those days

One thing I vowed to myself not to do once I got over here was to make life here seem like nothing ever went wrong or that everyday was perfect. Trust me, as much fun as I am having, as much as I am enjoying the life God has granted me here, I still have plenty of days where I get weary and live completely in the flesh. Today was one of those days.

I woke up late because instead of hitting snooze, I turned my alarm off thinking I would get up in a few minutes. An hour later I woke up and it all started from there. I had a headache most of the day. I couldn't stop sweating once I got to school. And I couldn't stop believing the lies I was being fed. I wasn't good enough, no one really liked me, and what the heck was I trying to do, teaching choir? I felt pouty most of the morning and although I made it through Choir with a smile, I wanted to go back to my desk and cry. Looking back, I was exhausted and if I'm completely honest, I was in such a rush I didn't have time to do a good devo before I left for school. I don't know about you, but those morning devotions and time with God make a huge difference.

Of course He showed up like He always does. I had just mentioned to a friend that I was feeling kind of crappy today and then literally moments after I returned to my desk,  one of my students came into my office and gave this to me:

Her favorite class is Choir. She really likes me. She put on the envelope that she loved the fact that I did devotions with them before class.

And God knew I needed this exactly at the time it was received.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Staff Retreat in Adelboden

I love my job. This goes without saying, especially if you have seen the pictures I've posted on here and on Facebook. The first full week of school flew by and I am so in love with teaching Choir I don't know what to do! I love my kids and am blessed everyday by them. I didn't realize how much I missed teaching until this week.

Friday, the faculty packed up and headed out to the Alps in Adelboden, just outside of Bern. We stayed at the Janz Team Chalet here:

The weekend was filled with a lot of fun, more laughter than I have had in a long time, and moments of discussion with our Dean of Faculty and Staff, Laird Leavitt. It was quite fun to watch him interact on his iPad and look at all of our blogs the first night!
On Saturday, a few of us went into the town of Adelboden and then to hike down a gorge in the middle of the Alps. As most of you know, nature and me are not really great friends, however, with views like this, how in the world could you possibly not want to be friends??

All in all, it was a great weekend. I'm beyond blessed to be here. I cannot say it enough:  God. Is. Good.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Few Thoughts From the First Week

It's Thursday and I've now officially been in Germany over 4 weeks now. It still feels somewhat new in some aspects, but in others I feel like I never left.

Tuesday was the first official day of school and as you saw in the pictures from my last post, we have what's called Opening Ceremonies at BFA. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever been a part of. The staff and faculty walk in to cheers and applause from the students. I was definitely tearing up and crying by the time I saw down! Then the seniors line up and are given flags from the country they are either from, have lived in, or have passports in. 52 countries represent our school now! There is a country roll call where each student stands up when their country is called out. After the ceremony has ended, students go outside to say goodbye to their parents. I watched as parents prayed with their children, hugged them goodbye, and then left. It was almost gut wrenching, but humbling all at the same time.

I'm going to be pretty busy this semester, but I'm super excited about all of it. I will be co-leading a Small Girls group with Elizabeth on Wednesday nights, subbing in Storchenblick (Storch) Dorm every other Thursday, and as of yesterday, am a Freshmen Class sponsor! And then of course there is my beautiful, awesome, amazing, wonderful, extremely talented choir. I have 25 kids!!! 11 of those 25 are GUYS!!! We started working on a song today and they sound like angels. Really and truly. I am blessed.

I'm still reveling in the fact that I'm here. I love it. I love my friends, I love the community, and I thank God everyday for the ways He continues to remind me just how sovereign He is.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The First Day of School

Not feeling well today, so here is a roll of pictures with descriptions below. More to follow tomorrow!

Heather, Me, & Brittany before Opening Ceremonies

Me and Jessica, RA at Blauen!

52 countries represented at our amazing school

Opening Ceremonies order

Mr. Jones giving his Charge

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Little Day Trip to the Baths

Brittany's birthday was yesterday and so a few of us went on a little day trip over to Konstanz, Germany to go to Hillsong Church and the thermal baths. We left at 7:30 in the morning and drove through Switzerland to get back into Germany and to the church. The service was in German and so I picked up a few points and sang in German as well! Afterwards, we headed towards the middle of the city and stopped at the memorial to Jan Hus, who was martyred in Konstanz. I had briefly studied him in my Reformation class but it was really neat to hear some more of his story from Katrina, who did a paper on him in college!

It was then time to go to the baths, which was super relaxing! Katrina, Megan, Justina, and I fell asleep for about 2 hours in the lounge chairs! We also went down an amazingly fun water slide numerous times and took about a 2.5 second dip in (freezing cold) Lake Konstanz. There was also much relaxing and swimming in the warm baths until we left.

All in all, it was a great day!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

End of All Staff Conference & A Birthday

Since arriving in Germany, I've been in meetings almost everyday and getting acquainted with the new and returning staff. It's been great but also a little tiring, especially for those of us who started off with the crash course in German 3 weeks ago! However, yesterday, we had our last meeting and then had a sweet time of Communion, where we stood around the BFA auditorium together in one big circle. It was amazing to see just how many of us represent Black Forest Academy! The whole time I kept thinking, "It's here. I'm really working at BFA and it's all come down to this moment in time." God is good.

Last night, a few of us went to celebrate Brittany's birthday at Funfschilling, a restaurant I became familiar with when I lived in Weil 4 years ago. It's locally owned and HUGE, especially by German standards. Their soup of the day (Tagessuppe in German!) was Pumpkin soup, which is my all-time favorite. It was nice to sit back and relax with new friends and enjoy a bowl of amazingly awesome Pumpkin goodness, especially after a long and intensive three weeks.