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Front page revisited

Well, it is official. Everyone in my family is certifiably photogenic except me. Our school has a rotating image front page to the website, and Alea graced the cover a few months ago. This weekend, while doing homework, we saw that the image set had been redone, and now both Susan and Breck get their shot at ASB stardom:

Susan on ASB's front page

Breck on ASB's front page

Way to go, my famous family!!

At least there were no leg warmers

Chaperoning Alea’s middle school dance yesterday, I was struck by how old I had become.

No, not just because I really am old.

And not just because I didn’t recognize three-quarters of the songs.

No, it was because the other 25% of the music and dancing were all out of MY junior high days – obviously so long ago that they were too old to be anything other than retro-cool.

Seriously, between the “Beat It,” “YMCA,” and “Thriller” that were played, the breakdancing that was performed, and the Vans that were worn, I could have sworn we were back in the 80s.

But at least there were no leg warmers. Or skinny ties. Or parachute pants.

Or mullets.

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…

First Day of School = Cancelled!

Swine flu reared its ugly head in India, as the city government of Mumbai closes all schools for seven days.

We got back in town late last week after a super summer vacation: we’ll certainly write more about it here. How surprised were we to hit the airport and find all sorts of medical checks established at the border! We had to fill in forms, have our temperature taken by a ‘thermal scanner,’ and have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor (or at least some guy wearing a white lab coat) before being allowed to enter the country. But even this craziness was nothing compared to the panic that we’ve felt over the past few days.

As one of our coworkers noted, “I wish people had a grasp of basic statistics.” In a city of 25 million people, there have been 2 confirmed deaths from swine flu! 5 times as many people die every day falling off trains here! In all of India, there have been 18 fatalities – how many are there from starvation, polluted water, car wrecks, etc I wonder? In other words, the realistic threat of swine flu is really, really low.

But, as tends to be the case, hysteria often overrides reality, and so all Mumbai schools have to close. Which brings us to the current curious situation. Instead of meeting friends and jumping back into the swing of a school year, our students will be spending Monday through Wednesday of next week staring at computer screens. All teachers are preparing on-line lessons, so that the missed days are not really ‘missed’ in terms of learning lessons.

Of course, some classes adapt easier to this new format than others. My math lessons, for example, are probably easier to do electronically than Susan’s first grade “welcome to school” activities. Our drama teacher was lamenting his lot in life, but at the same time not unhappy at all that he was not the PE instructor who has to help kids learn to swim via the internet!

Alea and Breck have adapted to the change in plans with amazing resilience. They are looking forward to seeing their friends, of course, but understand that there is not much we can do (since they experienced the medical check at the airport and have seen the new “thermal scanner” in place at school). They get to take their on-line courses at the school itself (lucky them!) starting Monday: much faster internet, the fact that they get to hang out with other kids and have care provided, and their teachers get to keep an eye on how effective those lessons are! We’ll keep you posted as to how things go…

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!!

Downtown visit and the Dhobi Ghats

Math group at the Gateway of IndiaWinding up the school year, one of my ‘chores’ is emptying everything off the computer. It is kind of like cleaning out the attic at times; you never know what you’ll come across.

In any case, as I was moving pictures and such over to my backup drive, I found some pictures that I had meant to post but had never gotten around to. No, not the Egypt trip. Those pictures are done, but we are having severe laggage in getting the travelogue part actually written. (the pictures and page navigation are here, but are still in a very disorganized and incomplete state).

These are actually from our Mathcounts competition back in Februray. As part of the weekend’s events, we took the participants downtown to see some sights and find some Mumbai math. It was a great afternoon, and we did get to take some fun pictures on the way down, so they are now posted as another view of our life here.

But the truly unique visit that we made that afternoon was to the Dhobi Ghats – the sprawling area of town where dirty clothes from all over the city are brought in to be slathered in soap and slapped against the concrete walls of hundreds of open-air laundry stalls. Quite the sight, and an iconic Mumbai landmark.

And while we’re on the topic of last-minute webpage updating and all, I just realized that – while the pages have been up for quite some time – I’d never made a blog blurb about adding them. So, in case you hadn’t noticed, the Alibag trip page is posted as well!

Free verse Friday – Math awards poem

We had our subject area awards ceremony this week, and I presented the math department awards. While the entire event started off with a very somber intonation in praise of the importance of academics, I just couldn’t keep everything in that serious a mode.

My speech was well received, getting some good chuckles and even a round of applause from the parents. I’ve had a few students, parents, and even the superintendent ask for a copy of the speech. Math dork that I am, I have transcribed it into a poem. Not a perfect rhymer, but close enough to the spirit for the last full Friday of the school year:

Good afternoon. To more fully explain the thoughts going into the choice of students, I’ll have to rely on using some difficult mathematical terms, if you all can bear with me.

While math award choices were tougher than pi
The teachers’ opinions had no great divide.

With no subtraction at all from achievements of others,
the absolute value of the winners discovered:

  • Constants in class – high above the mean grade
  • Factors in positive growth every day
  • Multiplied the learning of large fractions of others
  • And square rooted in math fundamentals we covered.

Many variables were considered, but the greatest common factor
of the recognized students is really quite rational:
the integral role that hard work has played
in beating the curve, and getting good grades.

(and if interested, the actual speech given is here.)

(and if interested, my take on this same award last year is in this post)

Life in a Mumbai garbage dump

Life at a Mumbai garbage dumpYeah – not really an enticing title there, I know. But this is one of those “real life” situations that I actually feel was a true opportunity to see something unique.

In a nutshell, we took a student group out for a day of community service cleaning mangroves, and at the end of our work we headed over to a garbage dump – and were shocked by what we saw.

The kids had never expected to see more than garbage trucks dropping off refuse, and were astounded to find that people made their living by sorting through the trash for things they could sell. It was certainly something that I’d only read about and had never expected to experience.

More pictures and descriptions at the main webpage – but suffice to say that it was quite a way to take stock of just how vastly different life is for some people, and just how lucky we are to have the life that we do.

Be the best that you can be

Razor Sharp SignOr at least be 13th best!

We pass this local college every day coming home from school, and I just had to get a shot of this sign (BTW – billboards are called “hoardings” here, in case anyone ever asks you). They’d had the same ad last year, and I never took a picture, but it is back for another round, and I got my shot this time.

I suppose there is a very specific demographic to which this university is appealing – MBA students who want to attend a college in not just any part of Asia (it has to be South Asia) and have a school that is good but not too good.

I do wonder how they decided to advertise as the “13th best” as opposed to “One of the Best” or even “in the Top 15.” Of course, 13 doesn’t have the bad luck connotations as it does in the West, but that designator is still somewhat funny.

Oh well. Seeing this reminded me that I have a ton of pictures from this past year that have not yet been posted (yes, including the Egypt trip, but that is moving really slowly right now). These last few weeks are killer, what with end of the year hoopla, goodbye parties, report cards, packing, buying a house (surprise!!), etc, etc,etc. I’m not sure how much of anything I’ll get to, but I did put together another “Life in India” photo montage for the webpage, so enjoy the photos!

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?)

Volleyball wrap up

Serving...Our girls (and boys, but as I was coaching the girls I paid more attention to them) did a fantastic job this past weekend. We had split our squad into two even teams, so it was really fun for us to watch them go after each other on Saturday morning.

...receive...Overall they did very well, taking second and third as well as the sportsmanship trophy. We had super support from the student body as well, with loads of people showing up to cheer on the Eagles. I was extremely proud of the way they conducted themselves both on and off the court, and will miss their spirit next year!

...and passing!I grabbed a few pictures from the school photographer, and you can see me hovering around in the background of them. It was kind of fun afterwards, when the coaches got in a game against the referees. I’m not going to win any awards, but at least I didn’t embarrass myself playing!

Who's that?!

Swine Flu

Obviously there has been a lot of concern lately about the flu strain going around. Things seem to be calming down a bit, but there is still a fair amount of awareness (and hysteria) to be found. Last month, India “issued a travel advisory, asking Indians to restrict visits to Mexico, US, Canada, New Zealand and France.” The first cases here were reported a few days ago, and authorities are still pretty vigilant about screening passengers coming in.

Since we work at a school, it is only natural that there was action taken on setting up emergency steps in case of an outbreak. It was humorous (to me, at least) to note that our sequence of actions was called a “rubric,” which is a very school-ish way to term what I would call a series of procedures. I also appreciated that the information sheet we received was entitled One Flew In From the Pig Sty. Great stuff!

Of course, not everyone takes this as seriously, and the following image – entitled “Swine Flu” – was circulated to mixed hilarity and disgust…

Swine Flu

Breck’s day in the pool

Breck in the poolFriday was the elementary school’s aquatics craziness day (that wasn’t the official name, but that sure sums up the goings on). The huge pool play stuff that Alea had used has been set up at the school, and our PE department was determined to get the most use possible out of it!

Breck’s class was part of the festivities, and so he was splashing around with the best of them. Susan made it down and apparently took hundreds of pictures – she printed out several great action series – but we left all the photo stuff at the school (and I forgot to pick it up after volleyball practice yesterday morning).

Breck's pool tongueSo here are a couple of pictures that were emailed to us by a proud mom, shots that she took of her son (one of Breck’s good buddies) that caught Breck in action. We’ll definitely add more to his webpage once we get our act together (and there’s even a rumor that he’s going to write an entry about it on his blog!)

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…

Festival of Nations 2009

What a colorful wonderful musical ending to our term: the annual Festival of Nations took place today at ASB. We spent the morning watching groups perform, and the afternoon marching around in our national costumes. Check out our webpage for complete coverage of this fun event!

We leave tonight for Cairo and the NESA Conference; we don’t anticipate blogging much, although there are a couple of  ‘scheduled’ Free Verse Friday poems already on the docket. See you in about 10 days!

Free verse Friday: Technology

In ancient times it was “the web”
it crawled at speeds so slow
a class website with webquest links
was as far as you could go.

But times have changed and now we’ve found
tech expectations grow
now its no longer good enough
a powerpoint to show.

A class must have a daily blog
among so many things
like social network buddy lists
and teacher-student nings.

Forget a course description?
just check out the school wiki
and if there are errors, we’ll sure fix ’em –
with Google docs, real quickly!

Can’t come to school? Just Skype or tweet
(coolspeak for using Twitter)
If you post your status on Facebook
no pictures ’til you’re better!

Laptop’s down? No internet?
Blackberry to the rescue.
No peace of mind, no extra time
Just check your email, won’t you?!

Jing, Wink, ALEKS, GoGo Frog
Schooldude, DyKnow, VC
Scratch and Atlas, Portal, Pivot
Please, please, please stop the insanity!

Happy Pi Day!

Nothing else – that’s all! Alea claims to know 33 digits; we’ll see at the school “pi digit recitation” contest Monday at lunchtime…

Other notes about stuff: Chocolate chip pancakes and waffles for breakfast today,  Breck spent some of his modeling money at Crossword on a computer game, big ASB gala dance tonight (but Susan is really sick, so we’re not sure how plans will turn out), no pigeon babies yet.

Have a great weekend (and enjoy 300 digits of Pi)!

Slumdog million neighbors

Obviously the movie Slumdog Millionaire has been creating quite a stir, with Oscar buzz and all sorts of awards already in the bag. It has been the center of some controversy here in India as well.

There have been protests centering around its name (people holding signs that cry “I Am Not A Dog”) and angry editorials about how it does nothing more than perpetuate the stereotype of India as a dirty, poor, perpetually-stuck-in-the-third-world country (sometimes called “Poverty Porn”).

Others have railed against the movie being termed an Indian film, as all of the people eligible for and winning awards are members of the British production crew rather than the Indian cast.

Street HomesPopular response in India itself has been rather tepid, with the common explanation running along the lines of “We live here and know what things are like. We go to movies to escape all of that for a few hours with some silly love, conflict, songs, and dances. Why would we spend our time revisiting that which we see every day? That’s not how we want to spend our hard-earned rupees.”

But all that hullabaloo is not what I’m writing about – nor is it the fact that here in Mumbai we are actually neighbors to millions of people like those portrayed in the movie: rich, destitute, and everywhere in between. No, this entry is about an actual cast member of the Slumdog Millionaire family: Opera Singer #2 in fact.

There is a scene where the stars of the film are running around during an opera in Agra, stealing from the audience members. What I’ve gleaned from the internet is that the opera itself is a recording from “Orphée et Eurydice” by Gluck called “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice” and sung by the Swedish tenor, Nicolai Gedda. The interesting part is that the person lip-syncing it in the movie is actually our across-the-hall neighbor: Tom Lehmkuhl!

Tom LehmkuhlHe and his wife lived in Delhi for 4 years and just moved to Mumbai this summer. They have the cutest little baby that Breck loves to entertain, and they often bring her with them to the Kiara rooftop to enjoy the sunset and a cold beverage or two. The parents are both employed at the school, where Tom is the choir teacher (of course).

Apparently he was approached to be in the film in Delhi, but the director wanted to use a specific recording of the music and just wanted someone – who really knew how to sing – to be a stand-in for the voice. The music department of an international school seemed a pretty obvious place to start, so Tom got the job, is in the film, and now has his own little place on IMDb.

Pretty cool, huh? I think now that I know he’s such a big movie star, I’m going to make sure to bum even more beers off of him!

(Credit has to be given where credit is due. Yesterday I noticed that our neighbor Elizabeth was writing an entry for her blog about Tom, so I told her right then and there that I was going to copy her idea. And I did).

Alea in concert

The security situation here has resulted in an awful lot of events (that an awful lot of people were looking forward to) being canceled: community tree lighting and concert and buffet, Family Fun Day, the middle and high school winter social, the evening theater performance – even the soccer teams were not allowed to travel because of concern about airport safety. It is kind of a bummer for all the kids who have worked so hard preparing teams and songs and activities, but they are – for the most part – very understanding of the issues at stake and the reasons behind the caution.

Luckily for us, however, the band and choir were still able to hold their concert on Wednesday afternoon, and it was sure a lot of fun to see all the kids dressed up and letting the beautiful music flow. Of course we were ‘most proudest’ of Alea, who played a selection of songs with the 6th grade band. Great stuff, and she even got to pick dinner afterwards (she chose to test out KFC’s new delivery service).

Her band teacher requires students to record and submit assignments to his ‘blog,’ where he can listen to and grade them. Alea’s address is http://asbband0664.tumblr.com, so you can go there and listen to her brief song. Enjoy some music for the weekend!

It is all over

But at the same time, things are just beginning. It was confirmed last night that two school parents were killed in the attacks downtown. They have three children in our school, one in Breck’s grade and another whom I’ve taught for both years that we’ve been here. We have an all-staff meeting tomorrow to discuss what structures are going to be put in place to help us help them, but the tears have already started flowing here.

We appreciate that we are truly blessed in that our immediate families and the students themselves are all safe; there are many people in Mumbai and around the world who are mourning their losses. At the same time, the deaths of two people who were so energetic, full of life, and all around pleasant people to be with – and who leave behind 3 parentless children – because of the innocuous decision to go out for dinner one night strikes at one’s heart and gut. There is an empty spot in our community, and it hurts.

Mangrove mania

As part of our school mission, ASB is in the process of developing relationships with various non-governmental agencies (NGOs) in Mumbai. There are certainly many areas where we have the opportunity to “enhance the lives of others” in this sprawling city, and in the middle school we’ve targeted three sectors for the different grade levels: 6th grade focuses on animal welfare, 7th grade on the environment, and 8th grade on education.

This past Friday was our first full day of working with the various groups, and both Dave and Alea had the chance to go ‘into the field’ to get some hands on experience. Alea’s group went to an animal shelter affiliated with the one we visited in Udaipur at the end of October (sigh – those pages are still not created or posted. Patience, patience) where they got a crash course in some of the issues and treatment options for city animals at risk. (Rumor has it that she also fell in love with a beautiful black kitten, which Susan will not let her bring home.)

Dave’s 7th grade class went to visit a patch of mangroves on the eastern side of the city. Mangroves are trees that grow in brackish water, where outflowing rivers and streams meet the sea and get ‘backflooded’ when the tides rise. Providing shelter for many types of sea and land life, protecting coastlines from erosion, and scrubbing a disproportionate amount of carbon dioxide out of the air, these important coastal features are threatened by development. Most of the original groves around Mumbai have been destroyed, and construction by both the fabulously wealthy (who want seaside views and golf courses) and the desperately poor (who want shantytown shelter in any place they can find it) continues to this day.

There are a number of organizations dedicated to working to halt the encroachment of population centers on the mangroves, and our school has partnered with the Mangrove Society of India, which works in Mumbai to explore the issue. With Rishi Aggarwaal as our guide and mentor, we headed to the mangrove sanctuary sponsored by Godrej, a manufacturing company that has set aside a huge swath of land outside their factories.

Lionfish with kids in the backgroundThe kids spent some time learning about the mangroves and their importance, seeing some of the different fish that make their home or spawn there (including the cool-looking but deadly lionfish), and going to a local school that runs a mangrove awareness program. It was quite an experience (despite getting devoured by mosquitoes!) that we look forward to building on when we return later in the year. We’ll probably get more engaged in “doing” things in the mangroves – this trip was more of a getting acquainted with the issues visit.

Of course, ask any of the kids for the highlight of the day, and getting into the mud would be your hands (or feet) down winner! The kids schlopped and schlepped through the thick goo, and anyone who did not have shoes that went over the ankle became a prime candidate for being a shoe-loser. Few things in life are more fun than a school day that includes playing in the mud!!

Back from one, off on another

Alea and Dave got back from our Week Without Walls trips on Thursday and Friday respectively, and now we are all packing up for our week long trip to Udaipur. Mom and Breck had some quality alone time, including day of canceled school! There had been some political unrest with a nationalistic party (the same group that had been causing problems earlier), and the police arrested the leader on Tuesday. Because of the possibility of trouble at the courthouse – just down the road from ASB – school was cancelled Wednesday. This, of course, had no bearing on us since we were out of the city, but it gave Susan and Breck some ‘at home’ time. (Some teachers took the opportunity to go shopping and get their nails done, as apparently there was no issue in our part of town, but the Stutz’s decided to stay home)

In any case, our trips were great – exhausting and physically demanding, but very satisfying overall. Both trips did some hiking, rappelling, outdoors cooking, as well as exploring India’s flora and fauna. Alea went to Matheran with the 6th grade, and did many of the same activities that Dave’s kids did last year. She found a scorpion, however – something that none of us ever saw! Talk about a fantastic find on her part!

The 7th grade trip to Durshet was centered around developing some teamwork, mountaineering, and orienteering skills that would allow the kids to track down and capture Veerappan, an infamous Indian bandit. The conclusion of the trip was them capturing him and throwing him in the pool – that’s where the picture is from. We made village visits and climbed to Buddhist caves – all of which will get written about in due time.

For now, however, we are off to Rajasthan for a week. When we get back, I will make efforts to get the pages from the last few weeks up and running. According to my count, I will be behind by 5 pages: Goa, Life in India 6, Week Without Walls, Village Life, and Udaipur. Of course, we also have a Halloween parade that first week back (it is being held November 8 here, since everyone is on vacation during the real date), we get back to teaching, soccer practices start on Wednesdays and Mathcounts on Thursdays, so those might be a bit slow coming out.

Who knows – we’ll figure it all out! Have a great Halloween!

Weekend before the hiatus

The next two weeks will be quiet ones on the blog front. Alea and Dave will both be gone for Week Without Walls trips, and then the entire family heads out to Udaipur for a week. We spent a lot of Saturday getting our packing and shopping done for the trips, and are looking forward to a quiet Sunday.

It is an interesting deal, though, dealing with the time changes. I am sitting here watching the ALCS baseball game (Boston just beat Tampa Bay 4-2), lounging in my pajamas sipping a cup of coffee. The presidential debates were fun to watch at 7 in the morning too, just as we were getting ready to go to school! Too bad the Cubbies didn’t make the playoffs – watching them play would be fun on a weekend morning (or then again, because it is the Cubs, maybe it won’t be too fun!).

There was a little get-together on Friday night -called Caf-ASB (like a cafe, get it?) – that was an artsy fartsy deal. People sang songs and read poetry, that sort of things. I wrote a quick song that I performed about life in Bombay. Hum in your mind to the tune of Home on the Range:


Cows and garbage (and even some crows behind her). Everything the song is about!

Cows and garbage (and even some crows behind her). Everything the song is about!

Oh give me a home 

Where the wild rickshaws roam

And the cows and the alley dogs play

Where seldom is heard

But for crows, not a bird

And the skies are not visible all day


Home, home in Bombay

Where the cows and the alley dogs play

Where seldom is heard

But for crows, not a bird

And there’s fireworks blasting each day


Travel through all the crowds

In a rickshaw so loud

With walls that are flimsy and thin

Bounce over the ruts

Drivers take the shortcuts

While betel juice drips down their chin


Home, home in Bombay

Where the cows and the alley dogs play

Where seldom is heard

But for crows, not a bird

And the roads are not empty all day


Here out near the shore

You can always find more

Proud and famous Bollywood rich

But hand in hand

With the superstars’ fans

Comes the oceanside smell of dried fish


Home, home in Bombay

Where the cows and the alley dogs play

Where seldom is heard

But for crows, not a bird

(Since they clean up the place, that’s ok)


When daylight grows frail

And folks hit the trail

To heat up their evening curry

There’s no other place

In this vast urban space

That can beat here: at Caf-ASB


Home, home in Bombay

Where the cows and the alley dogs play

Where seldom is heard

But for crows, not a bird

And our rooftop’s the best place to stay!

Happy Teachers’ Day

Today is Teachers’ Day in India, and we were all welcomed with flower garlands (mala in Hindi) and little boxes of sweets as we entered the school grounds. Alea took a fun picture of Dave and Susan before the school day started!

The date for the holiday is actually derived from the birthday of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the second president of India. When he was approached for permission to celebrate his the date as a holiday, he reportedly responded that he would be more privileged if it was remembered instead as Teachers’ Day.

It has been a fun day – as the thunder rolls and rain pours outside, we have been treated to some food and drinks by the PTA as well as the occasional gift from a student. A perfect end to the work week, going into a full weekend. Breck has a sleepover planned, Alea is going swimming with a friend, and we are all going to Elephanta Island on Sunday. Fun!

Alea on the saxophone

Alea with her new saxophone!

Alea with her new saxophone!

At ASB, kids get to start band in 6th grade. Since Alea is starting 6th grade (and middle school(!)), she got to pick an instrument to play. Any bets on what she chose?

I’d like to think it was because I played sax in school, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it was more due to the fact that her cousin Nathan started playing it this year.

Of course, she’ll also have lots of help around the apartment. The first day that she brought it home, dad helped her get the reed all set in place (she’d already practiced putting the rest of the instrument together in school) and then regaled her with a squeaky, out of tune, belabored full-of-a-father’s love version of “When the Saints Come Marching In.” Then mom gave it a whirl; I think she’ll need more practice too.

And even funnier, when I stopped in at our new neighbors’ apartment downstairs to apologize for the noise, they replied that A) they hadn’t heard anything, and B) they both played sax as well! Sounds like we’ll have to get the Kiara band going!