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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

End of year/Susan’s birthday

Awesome Threesomes party tonight at the The Stutz Family’s Groovy Gecko Grill – good times despite the crazy times!

The Groovy Gecko is rockin' - don't bother knockin'!

White Elephant excellence

White Elephant party last night – I am now the proud owner of a set of bath salts and body lotions.

Recycle responsibly

Thanksgiving feast

Had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday – what a fantastic evening with a super group of people!

Cheers!

Pool Party

Breck decided to have a few of his friends over, for the (very sound) reason that “we haven’t gotten together for a while.” The evening was full of the delightful sound of video game carnage, Nerf gun shootouts, and Lego construction. They did get out of the house for a little bit, getting into a midnight game of pool tag. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Friday…

How much fun is this?!

Indonesian Rickshaws

The Stutz family in an Indian rickshaw!We used rickshaws all the time in India, as they were the quickest, most convenient, and cheapest ways to get around our side of Mumbai. We even dressed up in our Indian finest and had one of my favorite family pictures taken in a rickshaw there. It is still the cover photo of our website home page.

We haven’t really gotten into using them so much here in Jakarta, primarily because we have our own vehicle, but also because they are far less ubiquitous. Taxis – real cars – seem to be the more common modes of transport-for-hire, at least among the middle/upper classes. (There are, of course, other options available. Little, dangerous mini-buses called “Metro Minis” run routes around the cities, and motorcycles for hire, called “ojeks” are also available.

But there are rickshaws here in the city. They are called “bajaj” and, unlike Mumbai (but like most of the rest of India), they neither run on LPG nor do they have meters. The combination of these two attributes mean they are a smokey way of getting ripped off for a quick ride.

But, after an elementary school happy hour, Susan decided to take one home. Apparently the negotiations for the fare went well, because I got a call from her happily shouting, “I’m coming home in a rickshaw! Get the camera!”

And so, when she rolled up to the front gate, I was ready and waiting, and now we have photographic evidence of our first ride in an Indonesian rickshaw!!

Susan risking it all in an Indonesian bajaj

Greasy food party!

I regret not getting this posted sooner – it was such a fun time. We had a professional development day 2 weeks ago at school, and Susan wanted to hold a little happy hour at our place afterwards. She invited all the people who work at her campus, Dave invited all the people who work in the same building as he does, and the plans were set.

As happy hours go, it was pretty low key – drinks and snacks (yes, the hookah did make an appearance – of course – but it was not on the “schedule” of events). The really fun twist that we threw in was hiring a local street food vendor to come and serve up some of Indonesia’s famous fried munchies. He wheeled his cart right inside our yard and fried up tofu, tempe, sweet potato, and a tofu/vegetable ball mix.

Besides being a unique treat for our party-goers (I can’t believe no one had done this yet!), there was a double special bonus that I hadn’t even considered. As I am not now, have never been, and plan on never being a vegetarian, apparently this collection of veg food provided them a unique chance to really chow down at a party. So that’s an extra gold star we’ve earned in their books as well. Yay for us!

New Year Craziness

So our camera wasn’t used, but a few pictures do exist of our dinner party, fireworks show, and pool shenanigans. We had the Medina and Anderson families over, along with their kids visiting from college and jobs, and we rocked the house!

Following the festivities, we took a day to recover, and then we were off to Indonesia’s “Cultural Capital” of Yogyakarta!

Rain

We’ve been seeing clouds for the past few weeks, but yesterday the first drops fell. Monsoon is nowhere near officially starting, but Breck was able to “dance in the rain” (his words) for a few minutes at the end of the school day. After a crazy weekend filled with late nights /early mornings – coaches’ party and Quiz night – we might very well have seen the last of the outdoor parties. There are tons of things scheduled over our last 3 weeks in India, but it remains to be seen whether they can take place outside or inside!

(Just for the record, my prediction is for a heavy rainfall on the evening of the 8th grade ceremony – June 3rd – just as there has been every year that we’ve been in Bombay)

Quiz Night

The Fab Fours at Quiz NightSo Eddy put together another quiz night, and we threw another great party on the rooftop, and we ate way too much delicious barbecue, and drank way too many beverages, and stayed up way too late at night (or early in the morning), and took way too embarrassing pictures, and had basically way too good a time that we all spent Saturday recovering from.

Unfortunately, the Fab Fours – my team, who had been leading all the way through until the final 2 rounds – were not able to walk off with the winners’ t-shirts this year. We faltered badly in the “name the company whose logo you see” competition – guess we’re just not consumeristic enough.

There are some pictures up on Facebook – and many more which were judiciously left off! – but all in all it was another one for the record books. Maybe I’ll have to steal his supplies and get something going in Jakarta!

White Elephant

Breck with his puzzles, Alea's jewelry box, and Susan's 2 gobletsQuick wrap up from last night’s activities – it was a crazy stealing laughing drinking eating evening, and as always, most people went home happy. The poor guy who had the very first pick was stuck all night with a beautiful set of unmatched flower drawings and picture frames – but since he and his wife had the final 2 picks last year, my empathy is diminished somewhat! 🙂

Popular swaps included a bottle of lousy Indian wine, a mini hooka traveling kit, a soap/bangles/brass bowl combination, and two sets of fancy goblets (brought by two different people after each received them as Christmas gifts from the same student!). Susan ended the evening with one of the chalice sets, Dave got the hooka, Alea ended up with a fancy incense bowl or jewelry box (depending on your taste), and Breck got 2 Lost puzzles, a “Deal or No Deal” dvd game, and a mini Stonehenge set. Wow!!

School ended today (with only a half day), and we celebrate Christmas tomorrow and get on out of here to Oman. Winter break, here we come!

Bollywood Bigshots

Bollywoood/Hollywood glam coupleYeah, that’s us, baby. We got all dressed up for the PTA “Hollywood/Bollywood” dinner and dance last night, and Alea took this nice shot of us.

I actually went shopping yesterday and bought a glitzy Indian outfit so that I could look like the movie stars here – but it was really the accessories that made everything work. Throwing on the sunglasses and topping up with the Rajasthani wedding turban really brought out the haughty glamor.

The party itself was a blast – teachers and parents mingling and enjoying the evening with very little shop talk taking place. There were several dance performances, ranging from traditional Indian folk songs to Bollywood movie hits and hip hop mashups. After the open bar had a bit of business, the dance floor was filled up by members of the school community shaking their groove thangs.

And to top off the evening, the powers-that-be decided that I had the best Bollywood outfit, so now Susan and I get a dinner at the ritzy hotel just down the road from the school! Kind of a fun bonus to top off a great night.

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!

Happy Halloween from Mumbai

We are, indeed, a week or so late – but that’s ok! Because of the week without walls trip and Diwali break, our Halloween celebrations didn’t take place until yesterday, but we sure jumped into them whole heartedly!

We had bought some Indian pumpkins – green, not orange – before our break, and kept them in the refrigerator to keep. Unfortunately, some froze and were no good, so we ended up with only one to carve.

But, the kids were sure excited about designing and cutting the face. Alea drew out the eyes, Breck liked a square nose, and Dad tried some fancy teeth. Breck took a turn cutting for the first time, and did a super job pushing the knife through the thick skin.

The seeds and scum inside were really cold (having just come out of the fridge), so Alea and Breck took turns scooping everything out. We got quite the assembly line going, where they would pull out a handful and hand it to dad, who separated the seeds from the other stuff and set them aside to bake (of course!). Mom sat at the other end, giving advice and taking pictures. A true family effort!

By the end of all the work, we had a great looking pumpkin all ready to fire up and scare the trick or treaters!


The kids got into the spirit of things with their costumes. Breck decided to bypass the Yoda look he had worn to school and went as a “Mysterious Jedi,” complete with mask, hood, and two lightsabers! Alea and some friends all got together to be “Plastic Bag Princesses,” a take off the book “The Paper Bag Princess.” (obviously the ogre at the end went with a different theme for her costume!

We played scary music that echoed through the hallways, and the floodgates opened at 7. By my count, there were 22 kids running around and knocking on doors, looking for goodies. By 7:15, every apartment had been visited (sometimes even more than once by enterprising trick or treaters!), and people slowing began migrating down to the designated gathering place for candy swaps and treats for the adults (ahem). It actually turned into quite a good party, with conversation about politics and sports, kids trading huge piles of candy, pillow fights, and even the Thriller video!

With a surprise visit by the Great Pumpkin (disguised as a dog), the evening was complete. Dad had to drag Alea home at 11 (mom and Breck had left a bit earlier, as he is still getting over being sick), but the kids were already plotting what they were going to be next year. A super special scary evening, and a ton of fun for the start of the month.

And now – it is time to pull out the Christmas stuff!!!!!

Happy Halloween!

Stutz family at Halloween 2007So here it is, one day after our Diwali shindig, and we had the big Halloween get together. (You can bet the kids are just going nuts at school with all the parties, candy, days off, and break coming up.) We had a trick or treating night at our apartment building, and all staff kids were invited to go up and down the stairs, knocking on all the doors and getting tons of candy. There were even ‘adult treats’ being cracked open in one of the apartments.

A few more pictures of the evening are posted here.

Breck and Alea did pretty well, and held their own in the trading sessions that followed. I was pretty excited to see that someone had even gotten ahold of Reese’s somehow, and so I made sure to ‘encourage’ them to trade for those!!

Susan the pirate picked up the same cold that Breck and Alea had, and so she stayed for a bit as the pirate greeting the kids, but then she did make her way around to give holiday greetings to all. She was not feeling any better this morning, but still decided to come in to school, but was not sure if she would make it all day. (I find it amusing that our driver has the day off on Thursdays, and that is the day of the week that everyone in our family has been the sickest!) Hopefully she’ll be feeling better by this weekend!

Oktoberfest…

Oktoberfest 2007Was a blast! We had a great crew of people show up, and we ate, drank, and danced the night away. Breck and some buddies were the ‘no shirt club,’ keeping things under control in the apartment, and Alea and her friends were very excitedly dancing to all the songs. It will absolutely become a Bombay tradition as we go forward from here. I have to run this morning for a week in Matheran, but will post a picture of the yummy keg we were able to get. Auf wiedersehen…

Week’s end

Breck's Crazy Hair!!Whew. This week went out like a lion. It has been crazy, crazy, crazy around school as everyone in the middle and high school prepares for the “Week Without Walls” that kicks off next Monday. I’ll be traveling with the 6th graders to Matheran for 5 days of team- and class-building activities. They are super excited about going, and I’m getting more so by the day.

Unfortunately on the home front, Alea has had to stay home the past 2 days with the same yucky cough thing that Breck had last week. She’s really bummed, because today was Crazy Hair day at the Elementary School and she was part of the group that organized and designed the day. Luckily, Breck was there to pick up the Stutz family participatory slack!

But at least we all have Oktoberfest to look forward to. My list of things to do after school is pretty super long…

One of my colleagues told a little story about an occurrence in class, and it seems like a great way to end the week. Because kids read this, we’ll replace bad language with little stars!!

It is quite an experience to be teaching with a bunch of kids for whom the English language, in all its beauty and nuance, is not their mother tongue. (Keep in mind this event happened in a class full of innocent elementary school kids – not the high schoolers!) Apparently the teacher made a mistake and said, “Shoot!” in class. One little girl gasped and said, “That’s a bad word!” To which another boy replied, “No, Shoot is ok to say, but S**T is a bad word.” Some other kid perked up and goes, “My dad says that G**D****T is much worse than that.” And the sweet little angel across the room pipes up, “But my brother said that F**K was the worst word of all.” Poor teacher had to wait a few moments, hand over giggling mouth, before retaking control of the situation.

Just a little flavor of the week, from all of us to all of you.

Eid Mubarak

Eid celebrationWell the kids are in bed, but the fireworks are just starting to go off all over. It is Eid, the end of a month of fasting for Mulsims, and our neighbors downstairs are gearing up for a big party tonight. I wonder how that will compare with the Oktoberfest party we are planning for next Saturday? Many of the drivers at school are Muslim, and most have been fasting, so the afternoon rides home – when they’re feeling the effects of a full day with no food – have not been for the faint of heart!

It is pretty interesting to live in a place where all these different festivals coexist so well. The Ganesh season just wrapped up and there is another Hindu festival happening now too (with however many hundreds of god there are, it is no surprise that there always seems to be a party going on). And the Christians have… Halloween right around the corner!! (let’s see how many hackles get raised with that comment!)

Elementary soccer teamHad the big elementary school soccer tournament today – last day of coaching for me (yay!). We went 2-0-1, but the team we tied won on goal differential. Oh well, it was a fun day in the sun. The tough part about it was that Breck wanted to be on the team, but there were only 12 allowed (and 63 went out). Kind of a rough deal to have to make cuts in grades 1 through 3.

Anyways, after swimming with the kids, we all spent a quiet afternoon getting ready for Monday. We will be going to an Eid celebration tomorrow too, so will be interested in seeing how that goes.