headermask image

roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

Alea’s high school graduation!

Alea finishes up her years at JIS with a beautiful evening of pomp!

Last day of school pictures together

Well, today is the day.

After 12 years, Breck and Alea drove with me to school this morning for the last time. Alea graduates on Saturday, leaves on Monday for the US, and enrolls at Montana State University in the fall. Breck, Susan, and I are in Jakarta for another 2 weeks before summer vacation in Minnesota/Montana and then a move to Warsaw. Life as we’ve known it is being shaken up.

As is our tradition, the kids took a picture together before heading off. It is certainly a bittersweet moment, as it is the final one of them together at the end of a school year. In the next post down, I’ve compiled all the pictures from when they started together in Belgrade, oh so many years ago.

Alea and Breck on their last day together in school, Jakarta 2015

Schoolpix through the years

We’ve had a tradition of taking a “first day of school” and “last day of school” picture of the kids through the years, and it has been really fun to watch them grow up. Here are the shots, taken in Serbia, the US, India, and Indonesia over the past 12 years:

 

Alea’s graduation pictures

Alea and I spent yesterday afternoon exploring the JIS campus and taking some pictures. We wanted something that could go in her graduation announcement, and had fun checking out some different places and poses.

Here are some of the pictures that will NOT be in her grad announcement – that one will be a surprise. There are just pictures that I like…

First day of (Alea’s last year of) school

Alea and Breck start off the school year – for the last time together! She’s a senior and he’s in 10th grade at JIS.

Alea and Breck - 2014

Last day of school, June 2014

And here they are: Breck and Alea finish off their freshman and junior year!

Breck and Alea bid adieu to grades 9 and 11

Band Bash!

The combined middle and high school bands put on quite the performance this afternoon!

Breck blaring away Alea's ready to roar!

Back in the saddle

School’s back in session, and what better way to get things going than with the kids? Here they are, grades 11 and 9 – both in high school this year!!

Alea and Breck before the first day of school, August 2013

Alea’s Band Award

At her final concert of the year tonight, Alea was presented with the Patrick S. Gimore award “for outstanding contributions to band.” Awesomely cool – we are so proud of all the hard work she puts in!

Cleaning up

Wow – what a week. Since the last post we’ve had parties, packing, projects, finals, food poisoning, giardia, and rubella (German measles). Susan and the kids blast out of Jakarta the evening of the last school day, while I have the responsibility of representing the Stutz family at the variety of farewell happy hours and parties that afternoon (darn).

As I was taking down the room today, I ran across some signs that have been hanging in various classes for the past few years that the kids made. Alea’s is from when she was in Pre-Kindergarten in Honduras, and Breck made his for me when we moved to India. I’ve had them in all my classes since they were created, and thought I needed to make sure I scanned and saved them!


From Alea, 4 years old - "Daddy I love you this much" with spread arms
Alea’s picture is about a meter wide and resembles where her arms would be if she were stretching for a hug. Her entire class made them for Father’s Day (which is celebrated in March in Honduras).

From Breck, 7 years old - "Don't use a calculator to cheat (use your brian)" Love the creative spelling!

Breck’s was a sign he made one afternoon in Mumbai, when he came in and we were talking about knowing math facts versus using a calculator. He decided my students needed a warning sign, so he created one for them (with a creative spelling of “brain.” Maybe that was a shout out to his uncle!)

Dancing Queen

Alea participated in the school’s dance production this week – Step Up 4 – and we had a great time going as a family. I got to see both productions (1 in the afternoon and 1 in the evening), while Breck and Susan just got to see the evening performance (Breck was actually at his very first tennis experience, which he apparently loved and is excited about continuing!).

Congratulations to Alea as she worked hard for a good cause, moving it on stage with her GK Club members!

 

First Day of School in Jakarta

Here we go again!!

Breck and Alea by the new morning glory we planted in front of our Jakarta homeNot too much to post, just the yearly picture of Alea and Breck heading off to their first day of school at JIS.

We’ve planted a morning glory in our front yard, and Susan’s big plan is to take a picture of it each year – let’s see how it grows!

And as always, our previous school photos can be seen over on the webpage

What a small world

Setting things up for the classroom the other day, my principal stopped by with a high school teacher (known here as “Speck”). He has been at JIS for many years, and was the driving force in getting the MS science building (at which I am teaching) all revamped and remodeled.

When I introduced myself, he paused for a minute and then responded, “I taught some kids named ‘Stutz’ a few years ago at my last school before JIS. Their names were Karla and Rob.” It turns out that he had been my sister and brother’s teacher, in Amman, Jordan, twenty-three years ago. He’s been here in Jakarta since, and he still remembered them by name!

When we got the schedules last night, guess who was listed as Alea’s science teacher this year…

Alea’s graduation and summer vacation

Alea’s class had a celebration marking the end of 8th grade and middle school. And, right on schedule, the first big rain of the season fell during the evening’s events (as I predicted would happen way back on May 17)!

It was a super evening of fun and tears, made doubly special by the fact that we (and many of our friends) are leaving Mumbai this summer. Thanks to the wonders of electronic communication, we’ll be able to keep in touch, but of course that’s not quite the same as really being there.

This post also marks the beginning of our summer hiatus. We possibly will update a time or two over the summer, but look for the lion’s share of new reporting to come out of Jakarta, Indonesia starting the last week of July. As we said in our goodby email to the ASB staff:

Namaste –
To the ASB community, and all with whom we’ve had the opportunity to work and play.
Shukriya –
A special shout out to all of you who have so positively touched the lives of our children.
Silahkan –
Our doors in Jakarta will always be open, and we hope many of you will pass through them.
Auf wiedersehen –
Until we meet again, please stay in touch.

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!

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

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!

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!