Excessive consumption of information, but also too much photography??

Sad story today out of the New York Times.  Someone was pushed off of the platform into an oncoming subway in Midtown.  Fellow strap hangers took pictures of the event, rather than helping the victim, or capturing the attacker. 

What's wrong with this picture?  Lack of safety glass to protect people on the platform (like they have here in Shanghai), people with criminal history and mental illness roaming the platforms with free will, or technology interrupting us from reality?  Perhaps the victim was texting, and didn't see his attacker coming.  Perhaps other strap hangers were playing Angry Birds, and didn't look up when someone cried out for help.  Perhaps we are oblivious to our surroundings, and need to be more alert at all times.

This reader commented in a way that I've felt time and time again.  

I really wish we would all go back to a 24-shot disposable camera, that couldn't be wasted;  you had to capture only the best moments.  We need to stop taking so many useless pictures and be aware of what is happening around us!  We need to return to capturing moments with our minds, hearts and spirits. 

Granted, this may sound a bit hypocritical, coming from someone reflecting via blog, yet I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the officials of Shanghai for having safety glass on the platforms of the metro system here.  Otherwise, I would be toast.  There's already enough moving things to avoid in this city.  I'm very thankful tonight that subways aren't on that list.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family, along with the people who witnessed this tragedy. 

<3 paz. amor. felicidad siempre

FItness Testing for quarter two

Photos of 5th and 6th grade star students, running the mile in under 8:00 minutes!
Way to go! Excellent job!

Doggies, dancing and dashing through the.. crowds!

My "Dog Walkers Club" met up for our second meeting early Saturday morning. We had no traffic getting to the shelter and we knew exactly where to go this time, so we had a full two hours to help out.  Most of the dogs were a bit hard to walk, since they had little experience on leashes.  One in fact, shimmied her way out of her harness not once, but three times and took off sprinting without hesitating for a second.  That certainly provided the students with plenty of extra exercise, as they chased after the loose dog.  Overall, the students were extremely attentive and dedicated to making sure as many dogs could get walked as possible.  I had ten students helping this time, which made me very pleased, to see our club growing and more students becoming involved in a great cause!

Immediately after working at the shelter, I headed back to school, ate my lunch as fast as possible, then helped my co-coach run the dress rehearsal for the December Dance Gala performance.  This was our second year hosting a dance gala, showcasing the pieces that we had been working on as a dance team since August.  The gala began at 3:30, and lighting and sound went off without a hitch!  I am especially happy that our smoke machine worked properly for our "Through the Veil" piece, and no one lost a hat during our Santa Claus piece--yay!  I was working backstage, so I didn't get pictures of the performance, but I will post the videos and photos once I receive them.

We then had an "after party" for the dancers, complete with treats and lots of dancin' in the studio after. The theme seemed to be vanilla cupcakes.  I made the "North Pole" cupcakes, which came out pretty well, considering I improvised on the frosting.  I ended up using raspberry jam (from Spain that I brought back with me from my summer travels--"La Vieja Fabrica"--yummy!) and coated the tops with coconut "snow".  The poles are candy canes and I made the little signs by writing with a white out pen on red construction paper. I taped the paper to the cane (still wrapped in the plastic).

I love this idea of wrapping a plain box in decorative paper to transport holiday treats!

Some of my dancers modeling the T-shirt I gifted them for Christmas/end of the season.  They were all really excited to receive them, as we didn't make shirts to wear to APAC festival, and I know some were a bit disappointed about that.  The saying on the shirt is especially meaningful, since the girls have practiced being better performers, always ensuring that the "show will go on"!

My co-coach Leslie vDB and me, coach Fitz.  Two years and going strong!

Candid shots are the best! ;) 

This is me arriving to the tree lighting ceremony at Hongqiao Hilton on the waaaaaaay other side of Shanghai.  To the tune of a 112rmb cab ride!! whoops! and after all that time and effort to get there, the gift bazaar was a total bust. A lot of kids stuff, overpriced items that are sold a lot cheaper in the underground market, and random stuff like beaded jewelry made by battered women in India.  I appreciate the idea of their project, but I think it's a little depressing that their personal, detailed stories were listed on the back of the package.  Nothing says Christmas like reading about how some lady gets beat by her husband.  There was also a HUGE CROWD of people doing the typical pushing and shoving; it's like Black Friday everyday here!  

Needless to say, I walked out of there empty-handed and my cab fare back to Jinqiao was 79rmb. 
I was dozing on the way there, so the cabbie must have given me the scenic route to Honqiao.  
At least the guy back was a bit more honest!  

                      The gift section was terrible, but the tree lighting and singing were beautiful!  

                       They even had a sweet gingerbread house I couldn't resist posing in front of!

 Once I got home, I pretty much went straight to bed.  In the morning, I snapped these shots of the beautiful flowers my dancers bought to thank me for a great season.  I've never had so many bouquets at one time!  I hope my black thumb doesn't kill them too fast.  
They brighten my day every time I see and smell them!  Thank you girls!  

I hope you are enjoying the first few days of the Christmas season and have an opportunity to enjoy your neighborhood tree lighting ceremonies and seasonal dance performances staged by local schools.  Don't forget to support your local businesses during your shopping travels.  If you're in the NYC area, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park markets are the perfect places to shop and experience the charm of winter in NY. Until next time....

<3 paz. amor. felicidad siempre

Phoenix Cheer first game vs SAS PD

It wasn't easy to find all of the ingredients, but after visiting three different supermarkets, I was finally able to make these cute Thanksgiving treats for my cheer girls to enjoy before the game.

We have grown from a team of ten girls, to sixteen!! 

                                  The veterans led the sideline cheers in the first line for this game.
                                 They were great leaders, and the "newbies" quickly followed suit.

                                                     The Phoenix boys put up a good fight!

                                     They won the game right at the buzzer!  GO PHOENIX!

       I'm blessed to coach such a wonderful team of girls, who are so dedicated to their sport!
                                                                    Thank you ladies!

Thanksgiving weekend in Shanghai

Me and my baby Christmas tree in my apartment in Shanghai.  This year I placed it by the window on top of an upside down planter to make it look more prestigious.  I also placed poinsettia plants around it to make it appear more full.  At the very minimum, my dog can't chew on the branches, so I feel better about that!

Some of my students (who are also coworkers' children) enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner hosted at the lovely home of my colleague Holly.  She is the queen of crafts and yummy food.  I have a lot to learn from her!

         My coworkers from Concordia... what a fun group!  :)  Lots of laughs quoting Will Ferrell jokes!

I'm not a huge fan of Thanksgiving, given that it is a day devoted to killing and eating innocent turkeys, but there were plenty of veggie dishes to enjoy.  No tofurky this year, but the expat supermarkets came in handy, providing us with lots of comfort food; even pumpkin pie for dessert!  Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, wherever you were in this beautiful world.

                                                           <3 paz.amor.felicidad siempre

12 days of fitness Christmas warm up

This is the instant activity I designed to celebrate the 12 days leading up to our Christmas break.

From today, December 3rd until December 18th, we will continue adding exercises until the final day, when we perform all 12 exercises in a row.

We'll be using festive music during the rest of our warm ups.  Songs like "Run Run Rudolph" and "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" are always student favorites.

Hope you find this idea useful!