Saturday, December 20

Life with Aeryn

Oh, my friends! If only I could share it all with you - the joy, the wonder, the laughter, the contemplations...
May these picture go their meager way to approach a representation of a life with Aeryn.

That said, going through my life in Martinique and in the US has been fascinating: my parents shipped all of my stuff here to Shanghai when they moved here in the summer, and I've been very slowly going through it. How shall I incorporate all of the learning of my life into cohesive action both





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Friday, November 21

The family is reunited now, the five of us having moved into a 3-bedroom apartment. At the same time that Lillian and Aeryn came back home and the move, I changed jobs, now a classroom teacher in kindergarten for a bilingual class. I'm teaching half the week in English, partner teaching in French.

With my family here, the order of the universe is restored.

Tuesday, October 14

Still Struggling

I'm having a horrible time away from my wife and baby. Actually, every day is a beautiful gift, and many things are going great, with progress on almost every front, including with Aeryn and Lillian, as we navigate the new sea we have attained together. It's just so torturous to rise to face the day without laying my eyes on the most precious gifts I have.
I pray for strength and peace, which God alone in Her grace and bounty can provide. She truly can turn night into day, and a gnat like myself into an eagle. Through Her assistance, I can continue to be a support and resource to Aeryn and Lillian, as we continue to talk every day, encouraging each other and planning our promising future. I also continue to sing prayers to Aeryn every day on Lillian's speaker-phone.

Thanks again to the friends who have sent emails (I'm way backed up again), SMS messages, phone calls and gifts. They are always appreciated.

These pictures are from when Aeryn's first few days (the last was taken a day or two before). I broke down in tears today when writing in an email, "Aeryn is coming up on her first month in this world", thinking at how I haven't been physically with her for most of it. Our souls are forever connected, though, and she fills my heart with joy, even from afar. We will be reunited on November 2 or 3, and I will cling to her with all my energies, praying to be made channel for God's infinite and all-encompassing love.
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Sunday, September 21

I'm back in Shanghai bis

I'm back in Shanghai, alone :(But my heart is filled with the joy and excitement of Aeryn's birth. Her coming to this world, nine months in the making, is the greatest and most significant event of my life, and I'm trying my best to fully appreciate it and step up to the responsibility that is now mine of becoming a better and better husband and dad.

The stats:Aeryn Leigh / 李思齐Born at 20:04September 17, 2008,or the 18th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar,or the 10th day of 'Izzat (Might), 165 of the Badi calendarweighing 3kg and measuring 50cm
Our growing family sends all our loves to our family and friends, who have been so supportive.
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Monday, September 1

I'm Back in Shanghai!

Sorry, friends, for the long delay since my last post...

Today is my birthday!

My parents and I have been in Shanghai for a little over a week now, and we're settling in pretty well. My mom starts class today. She's teaching the English portion of a bilingual French-English kindergarten class. I have another two weeks before English classes start, and this year I'm only teaching grade 1, instead of K-5.

The most important, of course, is Aeryn! Lillian's doctor said the baby is basically ready, and labor could start any day!

More later.

Thanks again to all our friends who have sent the encouraging messages, and don't hesitate to call either (ask for my number in your next email to me).

Tuesday, July 22


Here are some Google products I use and that I would strongly recommend!

* Google Search: obviously

* Gmail: I have tested more than 40 different free web-based email services, and while I found that was better than all the rest, Gmail far surpasses even the latter!

* Picasa: an excellent picture editor I used to keep the visual records of my life organized. User-friendly, posts albums to the internet, etc.

* Google Reader: my trick to keeping up with all my friends' weblos! I can read all their new entries just as I would read an email, plus I can take it offline!

* Google Earth: The best way to explore the Earth. The number of features recently added to Shanghai is great - go visit my current home!

* Google Talk: my favorite instant messaging service

* Google Documents: I've used this at work to coordinate student lists with the English teachers team. You can put text documents, spreadsheets, etc. online, and people you invite can edit it.

* Google Calendar: There a Chinese holidays calendar, my work calendar, my activities calendar, my theatre group's calendar, all of which can be turned on or off for ease of reference and quick browsing.

* Google Sketch-Up: a 3D modeling software I'm using to design the interior of the condo we recently bought. I've put up all the walls, doors, balcony, and have started to put in some furniture.

* Google Sets: works like a search engine - you put in a few words and it creates a longer list. I used once, for instance, when trying to buy healthy, good quality shoes. I knew the names of a few good brands, plugged them in, and Google Sets expanded the list so I could look up others on the web. I used it once for teaching English. My theme was the ranch, so I put some ranch-related words, and it gave me a bunch more!

* Hello: only used it a couple of times, but really fun - you can use it to have a dialog exchange of photos with a friend.

Yay! Google updater is cool too, and I used Google Desktop for a while, but it slowed down my computer too much. When we get a new one in a couple years I might use it again.

Tuesday, July 15

My Family & Friends

I'm so moved right now because of the immense loved I have received from my family and friends in Korla. Here, by marrying Lillian, I have been included in a circle of love and unity that I could never have imagined. I was expressing that to my parents-in-law today, and through my perspective, they gained new insight into the beauty of their friendships here.

My mother-in-law July, has three younger sisters.
* One of them who comes over every day is always bringing things for us, like a humidifying/cooling unit, her juicer, almonds, etc.
* Another treated us to the best lamb kabob! (some of you may not yet know that I've been less strict about my vegetarianism: I eat fish and sometimes lamb, mostly because it's a local specialty, and criminal to pass up on, not to mention it's free-roaming!)
* The other aunt who lives here (the second eldest lives in Shanghai) opened her home and her fridge to us anytime we want to use the internet (I've mostly been coming to this internet cafe with a privet room for 3RMB/min)
* Our cousin on my father-in-law's side offered to pick up my folks from the airport as soon as he learned of their coming (most of the family has no car)
* The midwife and caretaker for our baby, and head of the maternity dpt at the hospital is a friend of the family, and is following Lillian's progress closely (we're not really supposed to know if the baby's a boy or a girl, actually...)
* Her husband is teaching me the basics of Chinese medicine - I'm visiting him for a few hours at his doctor's office three times a week
* Another common friend just offered to give me a wooden human bust with holes at the acupoints for me to practice acupuncture's!
* The head of the boxing company my parents-in-law work with (they kind of freelance as Xinjiang fruit distributors around China) took us out to lunch

and we've only been here for two weeks!

Our baby is a girl! 我们的宝贝是一个女的!

We just found out today, so I thought I'd let you know!
我们今天才知道, 就想告诉你们!

I didn't realize how much find out would bring me joy!

We're focusing on Lillian and the growing life within.

Sunday, July 6


It's been great getting opportunities for leadership:

- Coordinator for the primary school English teacher team
- At the forefront of theatrical activities for the German and French Schools of Shanghai and their collaboration
- Meeting with the Director of the French school to further the progress of the school, its internal workings and relationships with partner schools
- And I might be offering a teacher training at a local school here in Korla this summer!

Below are some pictures from a theatre workshop I lead during the Rencontres Theatrales d'Asie:

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Friday, July 4


Starting our seventh month of pregnancy. Everything is all about the baby - for now, and forever!

We've been in Korla, Xinjiang for a few days,

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and I'll be here until the end of August. Lillian will stay until the delivery some time around the end of September, at which point I will be back here to be with the family again. In the meantime, I will have started my second year teaching English at the French School of Shanghai, which has been absolutely fabulous so far. My mom will also start teaching there this Fall, so my parents will both move in with me/us.

My spiritual brother Robbie's getting married in September.

so I'm really excited about that too.

Sunday, May 11

Happy Mother's Day

Fun stuff:

And this is from NewBeat, where I used to teach - Shout out to Jackie, Christina and Jessy (one of my old students!):

Wednesday, May 7

Eminem, Britney Spears, Integrity and Dignity

So I just want to say I love Eminem and Britney Spears (among others) for their strength and courage in facing the masses of self-righteous backbiters and slanderers. (I just heard "Piece of Me" - thanks cousin for putting the track on your MySpace profile!) I don't know who came up with the idea that disagreement with someone's music is best expressed through slander... Have you noticed it boosts their popularity? I would totally sit with either or both of them for a drink of white tea... I need a refill on this cup.


Not the first time I post about mommies...

So Lillian is almost half-way through her pregnancy, and it's so exciting and so amazing. The intensity of having life born of love growing in this beautiful sanctuary of the womb is shockingly delightful! Prayers appreciated.

My own mommy just went through knee replacement surgery. It was successful. It's been a most intense year for her. Lots of challenges, more downs than ups... I really hope she gets the job she's applying for at my school so we can hang out and so she can be around for her grandbaby. Prayers appreciated.

Lillian's mom, Zhu Li Li, has been living with us for almost two months, taking care of us by keeping us company, cooking and looking after our affairs in the traditional Chinese family way. I love having her around, and her cooking is fantastic!

Stephanie Dornbrook has been a motherly figure in my life since my 1997 move to the US, and her recent passing has brought us closer. I always try to live so that my appreciation of this world trumps the saying "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone", but it's a work in progress. I've spent more time with her from a world apart than I had recently when we were both in this one. She's always been so good to me...

Lillian and I have really loved seeing babies in our friends lives - particularly pictures! Thanks a million to Liza for all the weblo posts and pics. Shout out to Jerome and Demie who are expecting, Liesel who's in her last months, Mara and Liam, Joleen recent mother, and many others... So many beautiful mothers! And wishing for Javad and Li An's July marriage to be quickly followed by baby production so our kids can visit each other in their gorgeous home towns of Lijiang and Guilin!!!


PS: Listening to Stereophonics. A band I like is Song of Water


Lillian, her mother and I spent ten days of relentless efforts to find a beautiful home for our family - and we found one!

Friday, April 18

Trip to Tonglu

I traveled with a class to Tonglu. Click link for more pictures

Thursday, April 3

My friends will be happy

to know that Lillian, her mom and I have started watching the TV show Firefly, which said friends have been recommending to me for years...

Monday, March 31

Grover, Grouch, Green Eggs and Ham

It's amazing what parts of me I've been able to trace back to books I read early in my childhood:

Reading about Grover's visit to the museum, I learned that you cannot easily categorize any object, and that nomenclature has its limits in defining things. Is a carrot a vegetable or a fruit? I also learned that life gets overwhelming, that there is much to learn about how to get through an experience, that we learn from past mistakes, and that the world is the most amazing of all museums.

Reading about the life of Oscar the Grouch, I learned that just because everybody else dislikes somethings doesn't mean I should dislike it too. In fact, it can be fun and identity-defining to like things that others don't - is it because of the Grouch that I have always loved rainy days?

Dr. Seuss has taught me much. What more simple and life-long serving lesson could you find than a willingness to try something new, however unappealing it may seem, especially when suggested by a friend? Interesting how I learned this without necessarily learning to give in to insistence - which would be a very bad thing. I guess the balance and completion of these lessons came in the virtues and qualities with which my parents inculcated me (note here the use of "inculcate" without its negative connotations).

Monday, March 24

I Love Shanghai

I've been really feeling these last few days the glory of living in Shanghai.

What a mythical place to call home for a few years!

How many the thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams, opinions and hopes associated with it!

And here I am, just living my life in the middle of it...

We've got Chinese names for a son or a daughter, and still thinking of English names.

On my mind:
  • My baby!
  • My magical married life
  • Our many goals and dreams for today, this week, this year, this life, this generation, this world.
  • The condominium we're going to buy in one month
  • The pleasure and challenges of my English classes
  • My sister's current family challenges
  • My friends
  • Stephanie Dornbrook, who recently passed away
  • Liam, Brent and Liza's new baby
  • Javad and Lily's upcoming marriage
  • Our goal to get a master each in the US within the next few years
  • Radiohead's album, "In Rainbows"

Wednesday, March 5

Out of Sight Out of Mind

My computer has been down for a couple of weeks :(
Lillian is close to hitting the three-month mark with our child, so her symptoms are multiple and intense, and the organs and limbs are almost complete... I think - then after that he mostly grows bigger.

So I've fallen behind in my emails again, and I'm so sorry for the souls that inspire me, who have received no worldly communications from me. But know that my thoughts and prayers are always with you.

My friends Liza and Brent have recently had a baby, so congratulations to them!

A couple of friends' marriages have been going through a hard time, so that's been trying.

Lillian's mom arrives by train tomorrow. She'll be living with us until the birth of our baby, and for some time after as well. She retired last September, so she's going to be a huge help!

Many many more things... I am always thinking of my friends, who have given me love and strength over the years, and though we may not hear from each other, we are always together.



Friday, February 8

New Life

What's the best news I could possibly give you?
Well that's the news.
All is full of love.

Tuesday, January 29


Life is good.
It's beautiful and snowy in Shanghai.
My life in China is a world of wonder and mystery surrounding me, and it's morphing me into almost unrecognizable shapes.

Some more pics from the family gathering in Xinjiang in December

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Friday, January 11

Family Gathering

The Habeggers came to Xinjiang and met the 李 and 朱 families. Lillian and I are inviting our families to build a bridge between the East and West.

One World, One Dream

It's so great to see how rich the culture here is, and how China has been orienting itself towards a world-embracing vision. The Olympic Games theme, "One World, One Dream" is being broad casted everywhere, and the message of peace echoes through the air. For the last few years, the principal word accompanying goals and statements has been harmony.

I've been hearing some public advertising, sneaking, even slaloming in between cosmetics and cars, encouraging "small improvements, day by day." In one of these ads, a mom talks about her son coming home worried from school, because he's not as good as some of the other kids for some reason or another. This mom explains how she encourages him to only worry about his own improvement, day by day, in stead of comparing himself to others. There are other cool ads with this theme.

On the train, as people sit for hours on end (in our case 44 between Shanghai and Urumqi), there's an audio program throughout the day. At times, they describe the history, population or economy of a city on its trajectory, at others, they encourage the passengers to take advantage of this time together to chat together and make new friends. In the morning, a very enthusiastic clerk may walk through and urge everyone to get up and follow the motions of the broad casted exercise routines - "Get up people! GET UP and move around! MOVE MOVE!"

There was a radio program this evening about a new law coming into effect in June, requiring stores to charge money for every single plastic bag! Ikea has been doing that in Shanghai since they opened here, and I love it!

The warm diplomatic relationships with other countries; the focus on a harmonious society; the research done about other countries, cultures and religions; the efforts made to tackle environmental problems - all of these are so encouraging to me! There are of course many areas with great shortcomings (like the Darfur controversy), but my prayers are with China and the Chinese people, and I'm so happy and proud to be here right now. Plus Lillian and I can proudly say that we've already been saving plastic bags by bring our own cloth bag when we go shopping. Most people have never witnessed this before, actually. Oh the stares! (We also bike to the market, only turn on the heat for 2-3 hours at night, take short showers together, recycle, etc. - habits that are very very new to most Chinese people! - although being resourceful and saving resources is something most have got down packed already)

One World, One Dream

Tuesday, January 1


I think I can say I have had the best vacation, maybe the best time of my life. There's nothing like being in the middle of two families, one from the US, one from China, coming together in unity and joy to learn about each other and plan for a shared harmonious future.

Lillian and I are getting on the train tonight from Urumqi to Shanghai. Pictures soon to come.