Tuesday, March 29, 2011

When in Rome ...

I finally did it -- I bought a mask!  The air here has seemed so so gross lately that it just seemed like the smart thing to do.  Especially since (on a very exciting note) I was able to buy a new bike earlier this month.  I now rock my new mask whenever I'm riding.  I have no idea if it actually helps keep some of the junk out, but it makes me think it could. 

And, another one of those things that you don't see everyday in Western cultures ...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Finding New Life

One of the bonuses to living in a place that feels bitterly cold for several months each year is how absolutely wonderful it is when Spring begins to arrive!  Ahhh!  I love it!  The contrast of the bright, new flowers to the ugly, dead, grey landscape is so cool!  Watching what appeared dead come to life so brilliantly is really inspiring.

We've needed some inspiration this week ... our most challenging student decided to sneak out of the dorm on Saturday night.  Luckily, we found out and we were able to get him back without too much hassle; but this week there has been a lot of back and forth with him, his parents and the co-principals at our school trying to find a reasonable consquence/solution.  He's two months from graduation, so wasn't really a smart move on his part.  I struggle the most with the fact that he left two doors unlocked in the middle of the night, endangering the safety of everyone else at the dorm.  I don't trust this person and I cannot resolve the fact I am responsible for the other children at the dorm while this person who cares nothing about them may be able to continue to live here and put them at risk...

And so, I am happy to find something beautiful to gaze upon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The pride of a parent

Last night, Jason and I got to go to our school's "Battle of the Bands" competition.  We were really excited to be able to go out at night, but mostly because one of our dorm students was entered in the competition.  It turned out to be an awesome event -- there are so many talented (& very brave) students at our school.  There were bands from each grade level, from 6th all the way up to 12th.  (And, the majority of the songs were ones I actually knew/liked so I didn't feel completely OLD)  Really cool! 

For the past year and a half I've been able to go to speech competitions, Christmas musicals & sports events to support our students and I've been amazed at the burst of pride I feel while watching them perform/compete. 

Our student, Frank, plays guitar and this was my first time to get to hear him play.  I have to say, his band totally rocked!  At the end of the night though, they did not walk away with the 'best band' award and I found myself genuinely surprised because I really felt like they'd been the best ... and then I had to wonder if this was a common syndrome with parents, always thinking their kid is the best???

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Images from Sunday Wanderings

First things first ... I'm sure many of you have already found ways to try to help support those in need in Japan, but if you haven't here are two organizations that seemed on the up-and-up to us:
- World Vision - providing for immediate relief needs and then specifically focusing on creating safe/fun places for children
- CRASH Japan - on-the-ground organization setting up six bases to bring blankets, bedding, first aid equipment, portable hospitals, and water purification systems ...

Back in Shanghai, we stumbled across this street full of "antique" dealers a few weeks ago which was fun (how dreary does Shanghai look in this photo?).  And a few of my inept attempts at trying to capture some of the cute kids here out with the grandparents (who are usually their primary caretakers in this culture).

Sunday, March 13, 2011


With the recent upheavals in the Middle East, Chinese officials have been getting anxious with the thought that China's citizens might get some crazy ideas about freedom into their heads.  One of the ways they combat these crazy ideas is to make it even harder to access websites beyond what they approve of.  Usually with the use of a paid VPN service, we're able to get around the "great firewall of China," but this week they had even brought our VPN down.  Grrr.  Thanks to some fancy footwork, our VPN seems to get us through again for the moment.

This weekend we have been watching the tragedy in Japan unfold.  My mind does not know how to fully comprehend the many gut-wrenching things that are happening across our world today.  It seems like it is just too much ... the "everyday" things of sickness, poverty, crime and accidents regularly leave me with tears in my eyes and a naseated feeling of helplessness.  I don't know what to do with these huge things - vast numbers of people fighting for their lives.  The thought of continuing on with my day, thinking about what I'll eat, getting discouraged over the clothes in my closet, exercising and making plans with friends all seems so trivial and completely cold-hearted.  What can I do for suffering people?  I know that prayer is the answer and my mind knows that this is so much more powerful than anything else I could ever offer, but why does it feel so futile?   Perhaps because it doesn't feel like I am really doing something and I like nothing if not to feel active and to see the results of my activity.  With that in mind, I will continue to talk to God, knowing that He is bigger than all of this.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sope Saturday

This week, I tried (for the first time) making my own beans.  It seems weird that I've never done this before, my mom makes them a lot, but buying canned has always seemed to work for me.  However, since one can of beans in Shanghai costs close to $3.00 and I could make 3 times as many for the same price, I gave it a try...I followed the directions on the package and they seemed to turn out.

At the same time I figured I might as well make some tortillas too (I do make these regularly - homemade are just way too tasty - and I have the added incentive that they cost $10 for a 10-12 pack!).

We had no kids at the dorm for most of the day today, so I decided it would be fun to have Sopes for lunch.  I absolutely love the sopes at La CabaƱita where I used to live in Montrose, California and tried to recreate them as best I could from China.  They turned out pretty good - I was using a flour tortilla recipe though and think they'd be better with a corn/maize recipe.  In any case, we had no trouble making them disappear.