Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The eagles have landed

Well, it's 2:45am, and jet lag never rests. So I bring you RV post #1. not sure how to post a photo from this iPhone, but I assure you, she's a real beaut. Drives a bit rough, but hey, this is the wild west.
So far, the boys are loving it and tonight will be our first night sleeping in it. We have seen some friends already, and have lots more to meet up with before Legoland.

In other news, the winner of the lightning contest is Nate Oetting. He wins...huh...First prize! I'll post his winning entry soon, right after I figure out what prize I can send to Ethiopia.
Happy shopping and
Peace out

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How hot IS lightning?

A contest for you faithful readers.

Send us the best one-sentence evaluation of Desi's claim that "Lightning is the hottest thing in the world." You could win an autographed DVD containing both old-school TV specials: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Contest ends Friday December 17 at 11:50 pm EST.

Watch Desi make the claim in his class' video project. His part starts at the 5:30 mark.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Go Ducks, Go boys, and Going Home soon

So the Ducks are in the national championship game. That's the good news. The bad news is that the BCS is so lame that the game is on during a Tuesday morning here. WHat to do....will keep you posted.

Both boys got awards 1 week ago, at an assembly. Video of E below. As for D, he generally hammed it up and could not stand still or be serius for even 3 seconds straight. Therefore, no video of him shall be posted here.

Lastly, it's t-minus a week til we are heading to LA. Seeing many friends and families, looking forward to burritos and sushi and Janet and Steve's new house and Vegas and Legoland and maybe the Grand Canyon and babies we have never met and goodness, it will be happenin'. And, of course, all of it in a house that you can drive around.

Expect video of that.

All's well here, high school final exams are now. Mine were both today, so next week, it's all about the grading. Also, I am now in a portable (aka "trailer") classroom til August. My old bldg. is being torn down to make room for a taller, nicer one. I think the old one was all of 6 years old. That's the way we roll in this town.

Tomorrow is Teacher Prom (aka the SAS Winter Ball) so we are excited to get fancy and hit the town. I got a suit made. Photos will be taken.

Hope all's well where you are. Peace out, as in (Nobel) Peace (news black-)out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2nd grade Moon Mission

Life zooms ahead toward the Dawn of the RV era. T minus a couple weeks.

Until then, many parties and cups of hot cocoa will ensue.

Later this month, video blogging of RV trip will happen. In the meantime, no promises. You see, I am taking 2 online classes right now. Busy guy.

For now, here is what Grade 2 is up to. Learning about space.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

La Vida Loca, you dig?

Not the Ricky Martin kind. Our kind of vida loca is all about work and reading Harry Potter with Desi and drawing with Emmett and, at least for the last 7 days, NOT using the TV or computer. In honor of TV Turnoff Week, natch.

Anyway, this blogger is back from the dead, digitally at least. Still buried in papers to grade, so this will be brief.

RV was paid for today. So any lingering doubters, hear this: We "R"V-ing. Get it, "are RVing" but it's all rolled into one, there?

Some photos of recent cuteness, then i go bed...

This place was closed but we got some enjoyment out of it anyway. Note Jeff's finger.

This sets the context a bit for the madness that is the Halloween Parade. Oh What a Knight! indeed.

Sunday, after tiring ourselves out ordering some bookcases at the furniture market, we headed to Din Tai Fung. Desi loves his greens and noodles.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Eric Hall was here, plus Halloween


If you know Eric, then you can appreciate how sweet it is that he was in my apartment the other day. In town for his MBA program, BTW. We'll see him and his wife again soon, in Phoenix at Xmas.


NOTE: As of this morning's ride, biking is now officially "easy" (that's a quote from D) so I filmed E instead:

Here was us on Friday, out for an early trick or treat.

Last but not least, what happens at the end of a play that starts at 7pm:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

still here, Sorry So Slack

"My bad" on the serious lacuna in posting. (look it up) I am taking an online class, it tends to eat up all my time-wastin' time.

Saw a great play last night at SAS. Musical called "Into the Woods" about fairy tales. Also some "adult" morals of the story. Fun times, great show, kids both asleep on our laps by the end.

For those who know him, this will be interesting: Had brunch with Eric Hall and his wife today. He's great, just finishing his MBA. His wife is great, they live in San Fran. Will likely see them again at Christmastime in Phoenix. Reason #612 we are excited for that whole trip.

Boys are great, Desi keeps beating me at backgammon, E can read like way more than a kid his age should be able to. (Listen to me--"My kids are so smart!") Well, dammit, they are.

Super psyched my Oregon Dux are #1. West coast, baby! Also psyched the evil Yankees lost (A-Roid on a called 3rd strike to end it! Yes! Justice! The poetic kind, my favorite!) World Series should be fun to watch. Too bad I will be at work.

Colder weather arrives in 2 days. Trick or treating is Friday, so let's hope it's nice enough for that.

Photos, hmmm. no post complete without 'em. let's see what we got ready.

Here's the dudes primped for a night at the theatuh.

And here's Cinderella, asking how our noodles are. Actress is fantastic, one of the best students/all-around people I know.

PEACE OUT. May the Simpsons Halloween special be better than last year's.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Class blogs for the kids

Here's Desi's class blog. Lots of new photos up.

UPDATE! Desi is now blogging, with a partner from class named Wesley. CHECK IT FREQUENTLY.

Here's Emmett's. Photos are up now! Including a cute one of E reading in a giant box.

my son can ride a bike

it's true. Saturday he stuck with it, through the falls and bumps and he did it. we are proud of him and excited to go on rides around our compound. But the city streets will have to wait.

PS the bike has only 2 wheels. this is why it's noteworthy. he is awesome. and his bro is super safe on 4 wheels.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rocktober Break, Days 3 and 4

More tennis, of course.
Also some swimming, believe it or not. Pool was cold but kids don't care. Hot tub was nice.
Sarah went downtown to meet with a colleague from the other campus, and Desi went out to play with our upstairs neighbor, so Emmett and I played "Doghouse" on the patio. As his owner, I had some time to read Factory Girls in between giving him commands. Then I helped him write "This is a doghouse." That kid wants to read and write, like yesterday already!

BBQ at the Motts' house. Beautiful day, so we sat on the patio. Actually, maybe the most beautiful stretch of weather we have had in our 2 years here. Looking forward to more outdoors time today. Who knows what fun we'll have?

Here are some recent pics, including one of Emmett reprising Desi's school pic from when HE was 4.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Rocktober Break: Day 2

Tennis at 8, natch.
Just the 2 of us, so we actually got to work on our game. Sarah says we both suck, but I think I suck less. Male ego is a monster, I tell ya.

Then cruised downtown with the Dungans. They rented a van and we hit Xintiandi for breakfast at Kabb. Then Wen Ding Lu to look at paintings. We bought a big one (brownish, nature theme) for 40 bucks. Will go on the bedroom wall.

After all that art shopping, we needed some Indian food. Hit Bukhara and had a nice long chat about life, then cruised home to hang with the kids. Watch a couple episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender (thanks for the recommendation, Hawk and Selaam) then put the kids to bed.

Reserved some more court times, now it's time for oral hygiene and Season 5 of The Wire (SUCH a great show).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Rocktober Break

Long live the PRC. Today reminded me that life is fun. What I mean is, the whole point of all of this is to go out and do fun stuff with people you like to be around. Lucky for me, my family likes to be around me. To wit, an itinerary:

8:30-9:30 tennis indoors at SRC. emmett was ball boy, the other 3 of us butchered the ball every which way possible, plus a few I didn't think were.

10:30-2:00 Kid birthday party at SAS pool. Nice warm water, fun games. Pizza, cake, pin~ata. Kick ass all around.

2:30-5:00 Wiffle ball and (soft) baseball on the big grassy field at SRC. Little kids on the playground, parents kickin it.

5:01-9:30 Our patio and house, impromptu get-together with neighbors. Salmon on the grill, Ice cream floats, staying up late cuz it's ... ROCKTOBER brEAK!

tennis at 8 tomorrow. maybe Sarah and I will let Lyn watch te kids so we can actually focus on upping our game. we both suck, and Kathryn has been talking smack cuz they took lessons last year. Pride is on the line...

Go Ducks!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

our trip to Pudong campus

with apologies for the Blair Witch quality of the filming...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"I Hate School" and other lies kids tell

So the school year is in full swing, and we are now less than 48 hours from the start of October break. Good timing, too, as the boys and the adults in this house need a break. Especially Emmett. Of late he has been grousing about the following:
teachers tell him what to do

they haven't even taught him how to read and write yet

he has to go swimming during PE

he has to eat home lunch instead of school lunch

Ignore for a moment the contradiction between the first two gripes. Focus instead on the fact he loves to swim. Or that home lunch is classic stuff like PB&J and school lunch is usually some variant of chicken in brown sauce with rice.

Enough with the whining. Both boys clearly love their teachers and what they are learning so far this year. Desi is doing subtraction and urban planning (I'm not kidding). E can count to 39 (he thinks 50 is next) and knows all his letters and numbers and sings in Chinese.

Break will start early as the Shanghai govt. just announced road closures that force SAS buses to get on the road sooner. So 2:30 tomorrow, we are homeward bound. No work til some meetings next Thursday. Kids no school til a week from Monday. God Bless the People's Republic of China (and its vanilla suburbs)!

In other news, JV baseball is over. FInished the season with a tournament last weekend, full of drama. Friday game vs. Beijing ended 6-6 when our runner was thrown out at home trying to score on a wild pitch. After that, it was too dark to continue (JV field has no lights). Beat our cross-town rival Sat. morning, no shock there. Then had a comeback against Hong Kong fizzle out when Jason hit a bases-loaded smash that the 3rd baseman snared. He stepped on 3rd for the double play and that was that. Sunday was rained out, and now he long wait begins. Next season is more than 6 months away. Oh well, at least we have Ken Burns to tide us over.

Books I've been reading: Angels and Demons (kept me up for a couple nights). Factory Girls (gotta re-read whatever I am teaching in Anthro--my memory is terrible). Up next, some Nick Hornby.

Sarah has been reading Drive, Philip Roth's American Pastoral, and our hero Martin Seligman's Learned Optimism.

And even though it seems that the proper place for this is our facebook status update, we just started watching True Blood. Vampires make for great TV. We will finish the last handful of episodes of The Wire over break, after a hiatus of several months. (It got too intense to watch at bedtime, and really, when else can parents watch TV for a solid hour?)

Surely the blogging will be more frequent over break. Pics soon of our latest shenanigans. In the meantime, here are pictures of our friends.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a shopping spree well done

Sunday we hit the furniture stores. pretty hard. 2 hours, get in, get stuff, get out, get it delivered.

here it is:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Another year of fun with JV baseball

Well, fall has arrived in Shanghai and that means it's baseball season. Why play for months and months in the hot summer like major leaguers when you can just dive right in to the pennant race and the playoffs?

I chose to be assistant coach, what with my new class I am teaching (going great, thanks for asking). A new teacher, Luke, is head coach. (No, I haven't made any Star Wars jokes about his name). After a competitive tryout, we have 11 guys: six returning players from last year's 1-win squad, and five raw rookies. I am happy to report that in our first weekend of competition, we surpassed last year's win total, beating our sister campus' team 19-3 and eeking out a win against local team The Fingers (don't ask), see score below.

In our final at-bat, Kevin's 2-out single knocked in the winning run. Unfortunately for Kevin, the next week he was at bat at the end of the game and things didn't end so magically. We had been down 11-0 in the 1st inning, and 18-12 going into the final at-bat. Kevin stepped up with the score 18-17, runner or 1st. Soon the runner had made it to 3rd, and Kevin had 2 strikes on him. And the pitch...Kevin swings and hits a soft liner toward short.

Aww, I don't need to finish. Needless to say, we are now 2-1. Big rematch on Saturday at our sister campus. They will be hungry for revenge and hoping to impress the home crowd there for their big campus BBQ. Expect their dreams to be crushed when the (other) Eagles swoop down on them like they were field mice. Caw!! Caw!!

In other news, just bought some furniture, including an opium bed. Our first drug paraphernalia! Pics soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

more fun with statues, minus the rudeness

notice emmy's hips in this next 1:

and here he is, impersonating a school psych:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


sort of.

A typhoon is on its way to Shanghai, so school is cancelled today. Desi greeted the news with a mixture of disbelief and joy. Emmett, though, must have been excited for school lunch. When he heard, he crossed his arms, frowned and hissed "No fish sticks."

So Skype us, call us. We will be here, hanging out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


while i am at it, here's what our cicadas sound like:

boys room tour

i am on a roll. 2 vlogs in a row. yes, i used the word vlog

here is D hard at work, tracing a bunny. (not the best shot of him in the youtube still photo. really shows off his mosquito bites. damn things drive me crazy. i spend 30 minutes a night hunting those buggers, and for what?)

then a brief room tour.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


hey y'all. week 2 of school is smoother than last week, i am happy to report. kids liking their teachers and classmates, and Sarah and I right back in the busy swing of things. I am assistant JV baseball coach, and the crew's first practice today gave me a good feeling. we are already way better than last year. no games lined up yet, but will let you know how we do when they happen.

over the weekend, i shot a video of our "strip," such as it is. you'll need to turn your head. (think of it as office yoga)

here's a couple pics. one from Portland, as we wrapped up our summer of vegetating. Can you guess what these 3 are looking at? Hint: not a fishtank. (though we are in the market for one here)

and here is Mr. School Guy showing off his kneewarmer socks

more video later after the camera battery finishes charging. sleepy time 4 me!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

1st week of school: High highs and oh, the lows

Much excitement around here this week. After months of hearing about it, Emmett got to join SAS for real on Tuesday. Half-hour before the bus came by, he had his shoes on Velcro'd tight. Socks pulled up all the way. Further, actually. All was well until lunch, when he looked around and saw that he was the only one with home lunch. All the other kids had school lunch. Now, first, let me say what a compliment that is to our cafeteria. (I miss their food when we're gone, I swear.) So his teacher saw the tears and handled it quite well, got him a school lunch. He ate a lot of school fish sticks and (I hope) felt like he fit in. Problem is, it happened again today. Sarah and I don't want to shell out the rather high price for it, but we might lose this battle. Updates soon.

The big kid also had some snafus. Nothing big, just went to the wrong place once and missed 5 minutes of recess as a result. He is very psyched to have his old buddy/neighbor Benjamin in his class.

In other news, typhoons are a real pain in the butt. Don't know if Tuesday's storm qualified as a typhoon, but if not, I don't ever want to be in real one. Flooding and general craziness. Another loud storm today but nothing like Tuesday. Prolly 3 or 4 inches in 80 minutes. Ridiculous. Forecast says sun for the foreseeable future. Including baseball tryouts for the next 3 days. woo hoo!

No choice pics, sorry. Here's one of D in class.

Bed now. Pics of apartment (which is quite set up, just gotta hang pictures) soon.

stay cool, world

Monday, August 9, 2010

1st day of work. how do all you people DO this year round?

you amaze me. even you retired blog readers out there, you used to work. how y'all do/did it 12 months out of the year is beyond me. i mean, 1 day and i am tiiiii--yerd. 'course, that could be the jet lag. still not quite right on the sleep. seems to be something special about 4 am. 3 days running--up at 4.

a shower and dinner call me, but first, here are details on Desi's camp this week. he is gonna love it, i bet. and for what I'm paying, he better.

life is grand here, cicadas humming and bats flying low at night to gobble the many mosquitoes. TEEMing with life, this place is.

Lyn says the chicken is ready. ain't gotta tell me 2ce


Saturday, August 7, 2010

birthday edition

So the boys woke me at 4 am to show me some Duplo creations they made me. a giant walkie-talkie and a pirate boat. they had been up since 2. so i was gracious in my confused haze. they are asleep now after swimming a lot today in one of the 5 or 6 pools here in the compound.

had a surprise champagne brunch thrown for me this AM (thanks Bear--planning began in June). then a 3 hour nap after swimming. made grilled cheese sandwiches and walked to Coldstone for ice cream tonight. Cardinals won for me too, yay-er!

bed now. pics tomorrow. beautiful here. warm but not nasty hot. blue skies. saw stars tonight, even. apartment is sweet, painter did a fab job.

thanks for all the birthday wishes. it is nice to know the distance means nothing sometimes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

can i post to the blog at my new apartmnt?

let's see.

landed safely. tired but all is well.

here goes nothin'...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

parting shots, last 1 this time I mean it

we'll also miss grandparents...

and places like the Children's Museum, where one can glue junk...

and take good care of stuffed animals:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

summer babes, plus more

among the things we will begin to miss when the taxi comes in an hour...

porch wine with sisters:

long walks with pretty views and friends from near and far:

and getting pumped to go see Weird Al (Shanghai is, as you might guess, not on his tour list):

a few last US posts

Here's a pic that's long overdue. Waiting for a table at sushi place. Beyond that, no context for this shot.

Yesterday, walking home from the park, E proved his love for the greatest indie band ever from Stockton, CA: Pavement.

Friday, July 30, 2010

summer fun

In no order at all, some stuff we have been doing (besides not blogging for almost 2 weeks. "SAAAAAAA-weeeeee!"

1. eating at Burgerville

This satisfied customer looked out the window and noticed a bus stop sign. He got excited and said "If we move back to Portland, we won't need a car. The bus comes right to Burgerville!"

2. visiting friends

3. going to the science museum in Portland and St. Louis and the zoo in Chicago

4. seeing family in Portland, Salem and St. Louis

5. seeing tall things, including the Sears Tower. did you know it is no longer called that? google it if you don't believe me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

overcompensating, i know, but hey! Free WiFi

emmett and i are at the portland airport. there is free wifi, a kids' play area, a Powell's bookstore that charges the same prices the regular stores do, and drinking fountains with free water. WHY DID I EVER MOVE?

sometimes i wonder about myself.

here is a pic of emmett and i as we set off on our adventure, tentatively titled "Sweatin' with the Volzes"

check back for updates soon. this blogger is re-energized! RWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

Portland summer 2010 photo blitz #1

notice the summer freckles

cousins rule!

Vietnam Trip, part one

Here's some shots from Vietnam. Steve's camera has lots more, so I will get my hands on those and post some.

For now, here is me at the War Crimes Museum in Saigon. After years of searching, I found what every historian seeks.

In Ha Long Bay, we had been on the boat all of 8 minutes before they handed us the wheel. (not kidding)

In Hanoi, I found the hotel where I spent 2 months, back in '97. Looks great, they've added a travel agency desk in the lobby, removed the TV on which the "security guard" watched pro wrestling with me, but otherwise, same ol' hotel.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

fun in Portland

beautiful weather. many friends and family members. fresh strawberries. perfect beer.

Such has been our summer in Portland, so far.

Desi is camping in a cabin in eastern Oregon, with his cousins. Emmett is about to go to Chicago and St. Louis with me, for a week. Sarah has 3 days to herself. Look out, P-Town!!

Beach pics soon, once I stop eating berries long enough to blog more. For now, a shot from Katie's iPhone...

Monday, June 28, 2010

home at last

we are in Portland. loving life. weather in the 70s, been to the park twice in 2 days. seen some folks, will see many more this week. then the beach for July 4th.

Gary was in Vietnam for 10 days and had fun with Steve. Did some relaxing on the beach and on a boat in Ha Long Bay (see below). Also some war tourism at museums and plane crash sites in Hanoi.

In Hoi An (on the beach), Steve couldn't resist making a fashion statement. (That's the Pacific in the background)

While the guys were doing that, Sarah and the boys were in Vegas with Erica and Janet and Grandpa Gary. Lots of swimming in the blow-up pool, and a circus and a jousting show and some watching PBS Kids and they even got to check out 5 books at the Vegas library. also i won them some stuffed dogs at Circus Circus. Special thanks to Auntie E for being such a good host.

Pics to follow soon. For now, it's time for lunch from our favorite grocery store (New Seasons) and then Gary is off to a massage from our friend Chris. Yes, she's that good, that I live in China (the land of cheap and good massage) and I look forward to summer so I can get one from her.

Tonight we see Nawwal, our former babysitter. woo hoo!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Time flies

Today is the last (half-)day of first grade and pre-pre-K. Tomorrow is teachers' last half-day. I fly to Viet Nam with Steve tomorrow night. Sarah and Janet and the boys head to Vegas Saturday. I will blog as much as I can from within the not-so-great firewall of Viet Nam. Make up for lost time, maybe even do a photo retrospective of the last few months. For now, here is D showing off his publication at his Celebration of Learning.

gotta run. time to wave to the departing buses 1 last time. annual tradition. lots of squirt guns and silliness!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Birthday pics

Class party for the big day, last Friday

Here is what 7-year-old excitement looks like

And here is what awesome parenting looks like

Sunday in the Park with...Charlie