Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yunnan Water Project

Some images from Caleb's interim trip, helping to install a water system in a remote village in the Yunnan province. Below is the room where the boys slept all week!
Village children- the students took balloons and stickers, etc to share with the kids.
Sweeping harvested and dried rice into a pile
Students helping to remove corn from the cobs
Village rooftop view

Digging the trench for water line across the road
A wedding lunch the students were included in
This is where all the cooking for the week was done... the villagers cooked all the meals for the Concordia students.

Muddy shoes from lots of digging!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cue the Color!

I'm loving the colorful blossoms on the cosmos the last few days! They are an end-of-summer gift. :-)
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Work Week

After two flights and a four hour bus ride yesterday, today Caleb and nineteen other Concordia HS students were heading into a remote village on the south western border of China and Myanmar. They will spend the next week there helping to complete the installation of a water system for the village that up until now has had no running water. Most of their time will be spent digging trenches and laying PVC pipe for the water lines to homes. The villagers, who have started this water project with the help of a charity, will be showing the students how to use the tools and directing their work, along with cooking all the meals for them. The students will also visit the local school and possibly hike to the water source.

A real cross-cultural experience. Don't think we will be hearing from Caleb this week, but I'm hoping that he's taking lots of pictures that he can share here later. :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two Necessities

We found it funny, to have Snickers and Energizer batteries packaged together. Interesting marketing, don't you think?
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cosmos: Color Coming!

Hurray! I am happy to announce that the cosmo seeds I planted on August 9th, six weeks ago, are just about to bloom. :-)

I'm so pleased.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mooncakes in Mid-Autumn

Mid-Autumn Festival is coming up this week. Feels kind of funny to call it "mid-autumn" when it's still as hot as blazes in Shanghai most days in September. Mooncakes are the traditional food enjoyed during this holiday, and Carrefour has been displaying these pretty little round pastries for weeks. On Friday when the girls and I were in the store, they wanted to choose some... not because they are very tasty, but because they're so cute! Traditionally, they are filled with a lard based paste flavored with a variety of different ingredients, such as egg, bean paste, coconut, etc. Last year we got some from Starbucks that had chocolate and hazelnut fillings. Yumm.
This giant mooncake has been displayed in Carrefour for quite a while... I'm sure it's thoroughly stale, but it's size is certainly impressive.
One more note abought the holiday... Mid-Autumn Festival is a one day holiday and this year it falls on Wednesday (it's based on the full moon) of this coming week. In order to get three days in a row off, most local Chinese companies have their employees work both Saturday and Sunday this weekend so after the holiday on Wednesday, everyone can have Thursday and Friday off too. Seems a little goofy to us, but they like it this way!

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's One or the Other

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Scene on the Street

Came across this little girl washing her hair at the curb. Her basin of water and bottle of shampoo are on the chair next to her. :-)
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pink and Green

I discovered a new place to walk earlier this week when a friend took me into the office park a block from our house. There is a lovely lake in the middle of all the buildings, with paths all the way around it. I went back by myself this morning and found this beautiful water lily blooming. I took this picture with my phone... didn't it turn out so well?
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In the Air

Caleb is playing on a varsity team for the first time! Right now it's volleyball season, and even though it's not his favorite sport, he's enjoying the great coaching and the playing time he is getting. The conference tournament in October will mean five days in Hong Kong for him, so that's a big bonus of playing at the varsity level.

The same friend who took the amazing photos of Caleb's basketball team last year is photographing volleyball this season. This awesome action shot is courtesy of him. :-)
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rugby, Anyone?

Seth is giving rugby a try this month in an instructional league for 6th-8th graders at Concordia. It's co-ed, touch rugby, so not the full-on, British version of the game, but they are getting a chance to learn the basics. They do have some matches against other schools, and Scott took these pictures at the match against Shanghai American School last Thursday. I love Seth's intensity in these shots!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Group Effort, Minus Mom

Gwen has been working on learning how to blow a bubble with gum all summer. Caleb was a most patient coach at the outset... I found it nearly impossible to explain how to do it, so I was happy to have him as her instructor. She got the basic idea a while ago, but couldn't produce much of a bubble. The last few weeks it has finally come together. I spent several frustrated minutes last week trying to snap a photo of her bubble before it popped... in the end, Madelyn got this shot on her first try. :-)
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Driving and Rain

Most of the time I don't mind the fact that we have a driver and one car. The driver part is pretty nice, and we've learned to juggle one car among our six family members pretty well. Because of where we live, bike riding when someone else in the family is using the car is pretty convenient. When it rains, it is less convenient. In this photo Madelyn is modeling the lovely Chinese biking ponchos that we have resorted to using on occasion, and that she and I wore yesterday on our way to pick Gwen up from a friend's house.

Our driver, Mr. Wu, has Sundays off. He drives our car home with him on Saturday night and doesn't return with it until Monday morning, so we have to rely completely on our bikes for transportation on Sundays. This morning Scott and I rode to Carrefour to get a couple of things for our big Sunday breakfast. We made our way through the throngs of shoppers buying mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival with our bacon, juice, and various items for this week's school lunches, and emerged from the store to find it was a complete downpour outside. It was dry when we left our house, so of course we didn't have ponchos with us (actually, I am quite sure Scott has never worn one of those ponchos anyway). Scott had most of our purchases in a backpack, and I carried the rest in a plastic grocery bag, which I tied shut before we emerged into the rain. Had to find our bikes in the line up of hundreds of others, undo the combination locks, weave through the taxi line, and ride the three blocks home in driving rain. We didn't race home, we just rode at a regular pace. We were drenched to the skin by the time we got home and had to call in the front door for Seth to bring us towels. No big deal, with a hot shower and yummy breakfast at the end. Made me feel like a kid.

It was kind of fun, as I think about it. Kind of an OIC (only in China) moment. Of course I could be caught in the rain on my bike anywhere in the world, I know. But today it happened in Shanghai, and we didn't have a car to use if we'd wanted to. And we don't drive in China. OIC, Baby. :-)

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Night Question

Caleb's friend called a little while ago and asked, "Do you have girls or food at your house?"

Caleb's answer was, "Yes, but I'm not telling you which one."

His friend was at our front door five minutes later.

Boys. :-)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

An Incident

A guest post by Caleb

So last week I had to babysit Gwen and Madelyn, I have to do this pretty much about once every week because my parents feel its necessary to have foot massages every Sunday night, and then about once during the week. So this babysitting started off pretty much the same as any other night, I had to get the two sisters to eat. This started off well, we ate some soup with meatballs, and bread with Nutella, because that’s just how we roll. So after Madelyn ate a large piece of Nutella covered bread, she decided she didn’t like her soup, to be more precise, she decided that she didn’t like half of her soup.

So this brings us to about 3 minutes later as Seth ran out the door to go to one of his meetings for one of the trinjilion things he’s involved in. Madelyn has a bowl of soup without any meatballs because she has eaten all of them because that was the only part she liked. On the other had Gwen has eaten everything but the meatballs, because that was the only part SHE liked. So I’m still eating right, I’m enjoying my meal. I have now finished my meal, and would like to go watch “The Office” in my room, but being the redoubtable babysitter that I am, I wasn’t going to just leave these two eating (or refusing to eat) at the table. So I told them to quickly finish up so they could go play. The both bluntly refused, stating that they did not like their meals. So I, being the punctilious babysitter that I am, told them that they both had five minutes to finish their meals, or they could make their way to bed. So I got out my phone, and set the stopwatch for five minutes.

Gwen and Madelyn, not your average crass young girls, quickly realized that they both had disliked the portion of their meals that the other one had liked, and proceeded to try and quickly switch bowls and finish off their partners’ meal (Gwen eating Madelyn’s non-meatball portion, and Madelyn eating Gwen’s meatballs) So I promptly moved Gwen to the other side of the table, too far away from Madelyn to switch bowls with her. This all happened within 20 seconds or so, so they still had plenty of time to eat half a bowl of soup each. So I encouraged both girls to eat quickly so they could go play, but both girls straight up refused to eat their food, resolving that they would just take the punishment of going to bed. I saw their wit in this instantly, and stated that “going to bed” did not mean lock yourself in your room for the night and just play in there, but that you were in bed with the lights out. This was little motivation for either. After telling Gwen about four times that she liked meatballs, she tried one, and after realizing that it was actually quite good, proceeded to gobble up the remainder of what was left in the bowl. Madelyn was not so easily swayed. She sat in silence for the rest the five minutes, irrevocable in her decision to not touch her food, and take the punishment. So, at the end of the five minutes, I sent her off to bed, and cranked up some music while I did the dishes in the kitchen with Gwen tagging along behind.

While in the kitchen, Gwen, (always trying to look better to me than her older sister), announced that even if mom makes meals she doesn’t like, she eats them anyway, because she wants to get strong. I, being her athletic trainer, agreed, “I do the same thing! How do you think I got these muscles?”, to which she responded, “Yea but its not fair because you drink protein.” This statement made my night. Imagine a six year old Asian girl, drinking protein shakes to try to gain muscle… seriously imagine it. Right now. I’ll wait…. Okay good.

Now back to our story. Loud sobbing could clearly be heard from Madelyn’s bedroom. But I, being the austere babysitter that I was, ignored it, because Madelyn had made her decision, and I was not going to let her off easy. After about ten minutes, Gwen, being the loyal younger sister that she was, reported to me that Madelyn was out in the dining room on the computer. So I calmly walked out into the dining room, and reproved Madelyn for coming out of her bedroom, reminding her (still calmly) that by not finishing her dinner, that she had made the decision to go to bed for the night. This dialogue continued for a good ten minutes, Madelyn started sobbing while she was arguing, told me that she did not like me at all, and some other things which I took as drivel, and things transgressed quite quickly, until it was to the point were I was quite pissed off. I had sternly told Madelyn, “Go to your room right now” and had her response be a flat, “No”. For any of you parents out there I’m sure you know better than I how frustrating it can be to have your authority be ignored. Side note: I have been trying quite hard over the past few years not to yell at my sisters, (primarily Madelyn) while I am babysitting, because this type of situation has happened before. But anyway now that you know this, and if you have been paying attention to the last 790 words at all, you will know that I have not yelled, or even raised my voice up to this point. But at the current state, and the tension between us, I was so ready to yell at her. But, I decided to take a different route. I asked her in a semi-raised voice, (after being told that she did not have to listen to me again) “Do you want me to yell at you?!” and to my surprise, the answer was, “Yes!!!” this was not the answer I was looking for. And it surprised me so much, that I, being the equitable babysitter that I am, kept my sangfroid, and replied, “well I’m not going to” and walked back into the kitchen.

This is pretty much the end of my not very climactic story. But the night is not yet over, my mom has not returned home yet. So now your going to sit there and read what happened the rest of the night. Madelyn went back into her bedroom after a little more arguing in which I kept my aplomb, and did not raise my voice. Then after a little while ventured back out into the dining room and said that she would finish her soup. After trying to fill a sippie cup with soup and get off easy, I informed her that I had put her half empty, meatball-less bowl in the fridge, knowing that she would probably come out and eat it later on. So she warmed it back up and ate part of it, then went back into her room, called for me, asked me for some pencil lead, to which I replied, “If you finish your soup I’ll give you some”. So I went to my room, retrieved her lead, and traded it to her, for her empty bowl of soup.

I apologize for the terribly long sentences, misused punctuation, excessive use of commas,,, lack of a solid plot line, and use of big vocabulary words (which I took straight from my vocabulary book to sound more sophisticated, I’m sure it sounded bombastic to most of you).

If you like my writing, please tell my mom, and maybe I can work out a deal to get paid for a monthly blog post or something. Thanks –Caleb Liptak

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Cosmo Update

The cosmos are thriving! I have been so pleased that they have made it past the fragile, seedling stage and are able to make it more than a day without watering. The plants with the lacier foliage, which produce pink and purple blooms, were slower to grow at first, but are rapidly catching up with their sturdier looking counterparts, which will produce orange and yellow flowers.
The one attacker I've had to battle with these young plants is snails. I've lost probably a dozen plants to their feasting. You wouldn't think snails could be much of a threat, but they seem to thrive in the humidity here, and look at the shape this poor little seedling is in as a result of their midnight snacking:
Fortunately, most of the plants seems to have avoided the snails' munching. These plants look like they will have buds on them any day now!Here's a look at our funky front yard, and the raised round bed that I have the cosmos growing in. Hopefully soon there will be some color peeking above the bushes around the outside of the circle.I'm enjoying putting together these posts about my little garden. Again, thanks for indulging me. Mark, I hope you've gotten to read these posts... and I'm watching for updates from your backyard as well! :-)