headermask image

roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

category archive listing Category Archives: Alea

Last (full) day of school in Mumbai

The sun is setting on another school year, and things are crazy all over. Because this is our “moving” year, we have to make sure all the little details of leaving and going are taken care of, in addition to the normal hecticness of this time of year.

Today is our last full day of school, and as is tradition I talked the kids into a picture. Here they are with the Gandhi picture in the hallway, looking all ready for the world!
Breck and Alea (with Gandhi) on the last day of school, June 2011

If you’re of a mind, it is always fun to check out their school pictures from years past on our webpage as well…

Festival of Nations

American FamilyWell, India pulled it off last night, and so Saturday is the big final match between them and Sri Lanka: in Mumbai – whoo hoo! For better or for worse, we will not be around, as our spring break starts Friday, and the Stutz family is off on our fourth (4th!!) trip to Rajasthan.

As is the norm, our last day before break is our school’s celebration of all the nationalities and cultures that make us a community – our Festival of Nations. And, as is the norm, we came decked out in our USA best. Here’s our picture of the day from our family, and we’ll be back blogging after the break. Adios!

 

Swingin’ with the Stutzes

Alea and Breck with their instrumentsSo here they are, at the (maybe) last band concert of the year – Alea and Breck with their instruments in tow!

All the bands played great, and it was a super way to end a Wednesday. There’s big pressure on now to buy instruments for them this summer; we’ll have to see what the break brings.

Their band director is a fun guy from Minnesota (he actually taught at the same middle school the kids would attend if we lived in the apartment in Lakeville!), and you can see a goofy picture of him by clicking on the existing shot!

Christmas morning!

Presents under the tree!Breck decided, based on a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon he read, to let us sleep in “until quarter to six this year.” Actually, he was very responsible, getting up quietly, looking around, and getting into his stocking (Santa neglected to put up a sheet this year; obviously the beer ‘n cookies bribe worked). The rest of us – with the girls both fighting colds – rolled out of bed around 7:30.

We got the tunes going and the lights on, and busted into the goodies. By the time all was said and done, there were some definite trends in the gifts received. Breck had an “all flying” year, with Star Wars legos, 2 model airplanes, a dart set, and a Wii fighter pilot game. Many of Alea’s gifts were construction-based, with jewelry making, rock tumbling, and dollhouse furniture putting together all making an appearance in her pile. Dave had a heavy metal Christmas, with a set of steel plates and bowls for the cabin, a Ganesh bell set, and a pair of silver candle holders. Susan was picturing the perfect year, with a shot of her and Dave at the PTA gala and an Omani trip.

What a great Christmas morning – now I’ve got to go play Wii with Breck!!

Susan and Alea reading the instructionsBreck making LegosSusan and Dave at the gala

Christmas Concert


The Middle and High School bands and choirs held their Christmas Concert this evening, and we had kids playing twice tonight! Breck’s 6th grade band got things going with an especially rousing rendition of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th! See him in the back row on his trombone with the other low brass?

Alea demonstrated beautiful embrasure as her band rocked out to “Legends of the Ghost Dance.” OK, while not really a Christmasy song, it was still pretty cool, with all the thumping percussion and swinging saxophones!

Both kids have worked really hard this year and made huge growth as musicians. Maybe we’ll have to invest in instruments for the family this summer!


And what kind of concert would end without a Stutz wave to the audience? 

2010 school photos

Well here they are – the official portraits of this school year. You can enjoy them all here and pop over to the webpage for a look back at all the kids’ (and parents’) school shots over the years.

Alea the xylophonist

and there’s another word I never really expected to use. Those little red squiggly lines didn’t appear under ‘xylophonist,’ so I guess that is the correct spelling.

Our school had its annual “Embracing India” celebration, an evening of showcasing culture and raising money for worthy causes. What had started as an effort to help get relief aid to flood-ravaged Bihar has transformed this year into support for the One Laptop Per Child initiative, focused on a village close to Mumbai.

Alea is part of the “World Music Ensemble,” and they welcomed guests to the event. It is pretty cool to see her grow as a musician, stretching out from the saxophone to this percussion instrument as well. If you’re interested, there are a few other pictures of faculty and staff performers over on facebook.

Alea playing the xylophone at Embracing India 2010Alea playing the xylophone at Embracing India 2010

Pumpkins and orange cookies

Orange Cookies - mmmm!We busted out the pumpkins tonight, and carved ’em all up to a soundtrack of Ghostbusters, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Time Warp, the Halo video game background music, the Devil Went Down to Georgia, and everything in between (we even fit in a little TLC along the way).

Kevin and Elizabeth joined us from downstairs, so we all munched on some orange cookies that Alea had made yesterday and crunched on some tasted pumpkin seeds which were roasted up as we worked. Zip on over to the webpage for some pictures of all the efforts!

Back in the saddle again

Alea and Breck get ready to head out to middle school at the American School of BombayAnd we’re electronically connected to the world! Starting up our fourth year in Mumbai and settling in after a fantastic summer vacation full of family, relaxation, travel, and ‘recharging the batteries,’ it is good to have a moment to drop a little note here.

Nothing too spectacular at this point – we don’t have THAT much time! – but our traditional first day of school photo of the kids. Alea and Breck are both in middle school this year, although Dave doesn’t have either of them in his classes. They are seeming to make the transition to seeing each other around fairly well, even though it has only been one day, and hopefully that’ll continue throughout the year.

I’m thinking that we’ll post some pictures and stories from the summer here as our schedules settle out, so don’t be surprised to see some ‘old news’ from time to time. Heck, we still have 2 sets of travel pictures from the spring yet to post!

Breck’s graduation – and the last day of school!

Breck and Susan at his 5th grade graduationIt is official! Breck finished elementary school and is no longer (sniff) a little kid – he is a Middle Schooler! That means both Stutz kids will be in the ASB middle school next year (although neither of them will have their father for a teacher!)

Breck’s graduation ceremony went awesome, with the teachers saying little blurbs about each student. The word that he said describe our boy was “Enthusiasm,” which Breck exemplified by his enthusiastic walk across the stage afterwards.

And now today is our last day. People are busy signing yearbooks, saying goodbye, and getting ready for summer travel plans. As is tradition, we took an “end of school” picture – which I had to bark at the kids to pose for – and add it here so all can see what great young people Alea and Breck are. (To see them in other years, check out our “school pix” archive!) Have a great summer one and all – we are off to the USA tomorrow night for family, fun, and fishing!

Alea and Breck on the last day of school, June 2010

Alea’s award

Alea and the award for "Enhancing the Lives of Others"Our school mission here in Mumbai is as follows:

We inspire all of our students to continuous inquiry, empowering them with the skills, courage, optimism, and integrity to pursue their dreams and enhance the lives of others.

As part of the celebration and promotion of these ideals, teachers nominate students who they feel exemplify one or more of the parts of that statement. Describing the reasons behind their nominations, they submit those student names to the faculty for further discussion and approval. Of course, this being a tech school, all this ‘conversation’ takes place electronically via Google docs!

The faculty votes on the student nominations, and the awards were announced at an assembly this afternoon. Alea had been nominated and recognized for her outstanding ‘giving’ and for “Enhancing the lives of others.”

Of special note was her selfless attitude during all our community service activities, her caring for those in the community around her, and the strong, supportive bonds she helps create and maintain among students here: these qualities were recognized by the faculty and she was one of the award recipients for this year!

We are so proud of her great work this year, but even more excited about the mature “thinking of others” traits that she exhibits. Way to go, Alea!!

Mangroves, trash, and our fantastic daughter

Alea and Dave had another Community, Service, and Responsibility day at school today, and we again headed up to some local mangroves. We have sort of ‘adopted’ one stretch of lakeshore, and so we were curious what we would find after our cleanup in November.

Sadly, there was all sorts of new plastic strewn about, but most of the kids rolled up their sleeves and got right to work. We were joined by some guys from a group called Sprouts, a local NGO dedicated to attacking various environmental problems around Bombay while educating people about these issues. They were extraordinarily enthusiastic and a lot of fun to clean up garbage with!

The most incredible “teaching moment” came, however, at the tail end of all our efforts. We were wrapping up, discussing as a group the day’s events, in front of 35 dripping bags full of stinky plastic and garbage pulled from the lake, when a motorcycle roared up behind us. A man, woman, and little girl got off, walked around us, went to the lake, took out a plastic bag full of garbage, and dumped it in.

The kids were horrified and the adults were livid. The guys from Sprouts read the man the riot act, my cooperating teacher told him that apparently she loved his country more than he did, and the students simply looked on in shock. He mumbled something about ‘returning nature to nature,’ but when we pointed out that the plastic didn’t belong there at all, he sheepishly shrugged his shoulders and bobbled his head. But at least he did pick up his trash and put it in the nearby bin.

What a poignant reminder of just how big the job is here in India. People talk about ‘the white man’s burden,’ but in this case I really have a tough time understanding any other way to get the point across other than by throttling the population here and shouting, “Stopping throwing all this crap all over your own country!!”

Phew.

But on a more positive note, I do have to say that I am so incredibly proud of Alea. She was the single most hardest working person out there, getting all muddy and sweaty, leading by example, and really just making my heart swell with love and pride. Her efforts were commented on by her peers as well as the adults, and it was just a joy to see her out there, working so hard for the sheer pleasure of doing good.

So on the way home, I bought her a Baskin Robbins Oreo shake!!

Free Verse Friday – Ode to the varieties of Indian stomach ailments

I have been neglectful in Free Verse Friday lately, so in honor of this week’s Caf-ASB, here is my ode to various regional stomach ailments:

Here in Mumbai, we sometimes get food sick
From restaurant, kitchen, or picnic.
The belly distends
Kicks out waste from both ends
Accompanied by internal music.

This year’s not been really all too rough
We’ve only had one round of that stuff
But with watery stomachs
And quivery buttocks
I swear once is more than enough.

The first hint is often quite bitter
A bubbling that shouts out “Don’t fritter!
You’ve no time to wait
You’d better go straight
And plop yourself down on the… toilet!”

But one thing we’ve noticed in three years
Is a pattern that constantly reappears:
The BMs reflect
The vacations they’ve wrecked
Like a matched set of runny brown souvenirs.

Our first trip, in a hotel so smelly
Alea’s tummy got sick from some jelly
In India’s heart
Ruined trip from the start:
An authentic case of real Delhi Belly.

The second time, as you will soon see-a
Was based on the self same idea
Poor Breck took the throne
In our very own home:
Struck down by Mubaiarrhea.

Dave’s ill was not like his daughter’s
But still was a set of the trotters.
Eating Cochinese shrimp
On his trip, put a crimp:
He sailed down the Kerala Backwaters.

Our last trip involved the ole poop pots
When we went to see Indian hot spots
In the desert a-cruisin’
The ailment caught Susan
And she got the Jodhpur Camel Trots

We’ve suffered on hikes, boats, and car rides
Strange stuff coming out of our backsides:
From Goan Groanin’ sick
To Jaipur Diaper ick
To colossal Himalayan Mudslides.

Pondicherry Derri-airy, Bangalore Blasts
Hyderabad Hot Squirts, Taj Mahal Gas
The Rajasthan Runs
Of course, Mysore Bum
The Calcutta Quick Step and Amritsar Ass.

Now, don’t think our stories pure unkind
We’ve usually had a real good time.
We remember our trips
Not by what we take with
Butt rather, what we’ve left behind!

ASB Unplugged 2010

Our honkin’ huge ASB Unplugged conference finished this evening, and we are ready to take a deep breath and relax. Things wrapped up after a nutso period of preparation and a crazy few days of people in and out and about and around and under and over and between and beyond and every other preposition your 7th grade teacher made you memorize. The number I heard this afternoon was that we had over 300 people from 64 countries visiting; I suppose you could peg it as a pretty darn successful event.

Susan and I presented a workshop about creating and posting videos online which was well received, we both opened up our classrooms to visitors to come in and interact with the kids,we each hosted a job alike for our respective fields,  and we both set up “student showcases” involving them demonstrating and explaining the tech that we use on a daily basis (Alea was part of the demonstration crew for DyKnow), so I’d say the Stutz family was pretty darn well represented!

Add in social events on each night of the conference and a full few days of (usually) inspiring workshops, and we are wiped out. Luckily, Monday is the holiday of Holi, so we end up having 2 days off anyways. Playdates for the kids tomorrow and colored water the next day: prime elements of a rock and roll weekend!

Weekend update – Alea’s play and the family fun day

Whew. Susan is off on her girls’ night chick flick thing, Alea is at the play cast party, Breck and dad just finished up a Star Wars movie: a pretty typical Saturday night – welcome to parenthood! We’ve had a pretty cool couple of days recently, and there are a few pictures posted from the events. Not many, but enough to pop on over and see briefly. Check out Alea’s play production and our school Family Fun Day pages on the website. Happy last week of school before winter break, too!!!

Free verse Friday – Take your child to snow day

Alea on Winter Day
There is no snow in Bombay
I know this much is true
But for spirit week, which is this week
Alea’s clothes had wintry hue.

All dressed in icicle-y silver and blue
With Santa’s elves on her ears
Wrapped in a scarf of fine white mesh
She’s pretty beyond her years.

Breck "Take your child to work" DayAnd speaking today of growing up
Breck shadowed dad and mom
As grade 5’s “Take your child to work day”
At long last was finally on.

He got to see mom teaching,
Little faces bright with glee
But since dad had no classes then
We just went and got coffee.

So much fun, on a warm Friday
Before a big weekend –
The play tonight, the fair next morn
Welcome to the festive season!

Tis the season

Alea on the sax - winter 2009We have a slow moving family this morning, as we all nurse the excesses from this ‘start of the holiday season’ weekend. The events began on Wednesday, with Alea’s band concert, and things will just get ever more crazy from that point on.

This weekend is chock a block with doings: Friday night was an impromptu rooftop gathering in celebration of a colleague’s new job in Bucharest, Saturday night was the school’s Christmas party at Aurus, a swanky beachside club (open bar and all, thus the quiet music and dim lights this morning), today is an art show followed by holiday sing-a-long, and Monday is the Grand Hyatt’s tree-lighting ceremony showcasing the ASB elementary schoolers and also including copious amounts of first-class food and drink (unfortunately on a school night!).

Alea’s play practices – the show is called “Online – An Internet Fantasy” – are revving up in intensity, as her performances are Friday afternoon and evening, Susan has a chick-flick movie night organized on Saturday, our White Elephant party is Thursday evening, and then we are outta here for Bali. Whew. I’m glad we got our tree up as early as we did, ’cause there’s no time to do it now!

Not quite clear on the concept (plus a few other things)

Actual quote from a story in today’s Bombay Times:

Jai Ho choreographer Longinus Fernandes…has been invited to Miami to perform at the 2010 Orange Bowl Games of America. “This is a convention of various colleges playing football where they have a half-time in between the games which is taken over by entertainment performances….This is the first time an Indian’s performing at this convention so it is a proud moment for me.”

Enjoy that convention there at the Games of America, with various colleges in attendance!

And speaking of football – oh hey, my fantasy football team has now won 6 straight games, thank you very much!

Alea in the mangrovesAnd speaking of cleaning up, Alea and dad had a very productive day in the mangroves. We had a bit of an informative tour and then proceeded to get all dirty and muddy cleaning up some trash! Alea was going gangbusters in finding all sorts of living creatures (snails, bugs, slimy things), picking up garbage, and then thoughtfully reflecting on the day’s activities.

And speaking of living and dead creatures, out Thanksgiving festivities will be pretty low-key. Breck and Alea have playdates Thursday after school, Friday is a day off, so we are going to the dentist (!), and at some point during the weekend we’ll break out that box of Stove Top Stuffing that we brought back with us this summer just for this occasion! As I told my dear Aunt Susan over on Facebook the other day, tandoori chicken and minced goat meat is how the sub-continent Pilgrims roll, baby!

Band concert

ASB MS Band

Alea warming up on the saxophone

Alea playingAlea’s band played for the school last week, and did a bang up job. It is so fun to hear her grow as a musician (and a little scary how fast she is doing it!).

She has gotten herself involved in the on-going middle school drama production, and is spending lots of time after school practicing with that club. She is growing into such a mature young lady!!

Plus she’s doing ok in her math class, but I think that’s because she’s got a great teacher!

Teaching your own child – part 1

We finally got back to school after the swine flu scare, and Alea is in one of my math classes – poor kid. As is typical, one of the first day’s activities is handing out textbooks, and our school is lucky enough to have plenty – each student gets a ‘take-home’ book for homework. That text goes to the house, and stays there until the end of the year.

So I’m passing out books to a different class, and one of the students says, “Mr. Stutz, someone left their take-home book here.” And of course I jump right into the teacher lecture on responsibility, diligence, and respect of school materials. Picture (if you can picture a sound) the teacher voice from Peanuts – in case you need help, I added a link to the sound.

Several blah blah blahs later, I ask the 64,000 dollar question: “Whose book is it?” The girl opens it, reads the front cover, and starts laughing.

Yep, it was Alea’s.

She’s probably thinking that 7th grade is gonna be a looooong year…

Free verse Friday – Last day of school

Alea and Breck on the last day of schoolThe books are all stacked
The laptops all packed
The posters are down from the walls
The lockers unlocked
The grad balloons popped
No kids running round through the halls

Goodbyes have been said
And tears have been shed
With hugs hard enough to heart ache
The yearbooks are signed
Money in for book fines
As people depart for the break

We’ll head out from Mumbai
To homes far and wide
Keep in touch with Facebook emails
Some’ll be back in the fall
Some – never at all
So til next time we meet: happy trails!

The last day of school also marks the start of the blog’s summer hiatus. We are flying out for the USA tomorrow, ready to spend the vacation meeting with family, hanging at the cabin, and (probably) buying a townhome. Since our internet connection will be spotty at best, don’t expect a whole lot of updates until August.

Have a great summer!!

Free verse Friday – Sixth grade band concert

Alea on the saxaphoneTrombones toot two tuneful tones
The flute’s fine fifer’s fair
A clarinet’s call cools all crowds
Drums ding dong debonair.

With ogling oboe ooh la la’s
And trembling tuba toots,
Pianos pick a plaintive piece
While silk-like smooth sax scoots.

Our Alea has made such strides
Her band was great Wednesday!
We’re proud of her, and hope she’ll let
Her old man with her play (someday?)

Free verse Friday – Alea and the stray dogs

Alea and the CSR catAlea’s class went to care for stray dogs
at a shelter in downtown Mumbai.
Kids fed them and cleaned them and petted them all
to help them they really did try.

But Alea is truly a Stutz kid at heart
the reason I know this is that:
in the middle of a barking stray dog home
she tracked down and played with a cat!

Mutts and Mangroves

ASB in the mangrovesToday is our Community and Social Responsibility (CSR) day in the middle school, and all the classes are off doing service projects around Mumbai. Alea’s sixth grade is working with a group called Welfare of Stray Dogs, while Dave’s seventh grade advisory is off to clean up mangroves. We had an earlier experience at both these places last fall, and so this is the follow-up to those visits.

We are looking forward to an engaging and interesting experience – hopefully filled with lots of dog hair and mud! I’ll see if there are any pictures to post this afternoon…

UPDATE: A super full day – not as muddy as we’d thought, but hotter and stinkier. We’re trying to put together a ning about what we’re learning (a ning is a social-network type site), so you can check out how we’re doing and see a few pictures!

NCAA Champ 2009!And oh yes – I almost forgot to show off my second-year-in-a-row NCAA bracket championship! I won with my other bracket, the one I didn’t post here. Go figure…

Free verse Friday – Good news/bad news

The kids are busy growing up
Its hard to realize that
Where once they played with dolls and balls
Now its games and skype-based chat.

Double digit ages loom
They once were far off goals:
“You can use an ow-ey knife then,
watch unedited Disney shows.”

But time moves on, and kids grow up
The thought that leaves me cold:
Because they are no longer young
It means we are getting old!

Sigh