Monday, December 31, 2012


So in Thailand my friend Lisa mentioned a book she wanted to read by Beth Moore called Believing God. I love Beth Moore's books so jumped in with enthusiasm! I have a Kindle my sister gave me for my birthday but when I tried to set it up I ended up goofing it up with the wrong account. I never really touched it since I was in Kansas just because of all the other things in my life that I am trying to figure out! Well, happy to say I am now a Kindle user not just owner and I am afraid my
friends that I may abuse your patience with some of the nuggets I dig out of that particular book so be forewarned and a big thank you to my sweet thoughtful sis Patsy who thought books might be difficult to get here. They are just like everything else I do here!


Just drank my Bifido! Not really sure what it is. I am hoping it is yogurt with live cultures in it. Tastes like fruit flavored milk, not bad just really sweet! I can't even read the nutrition label. 0% is all besides the name! I might need to ask for a translation!

1st Sunrise of 2013

Good morning! Happy New Year! I saw the sun rise this morning. It's amazing to get up and see the sun rise every day. I must confess that my feelings do not come from gratitude about being alive, although I am happy about that. However, the real reason I see the sun rise every day is because the wall in my bedroom is all window and the other walls are cement so I still have no curtains! It is amazing to wake- up with the sun rise in your face though. No complaints! I will nap later!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Food has become an issue for me.  What to make consumes way too much time.  I need to figure out how to order frozen meat and canned goods without going to the store.  Today I just cannot figure out what to cook for dinner.  I know I will be in trouble when the troop comes home.  Tim took them hiking and the quiet is amazing.  I do not think I have been by myself in months!  I really need to put together the Ikea while it is quiet.  We splurged for Christmas and bought a bed frame!  The movers ran over one of the rails of the one we brought.  So, Tim and I sleep lopsided.  Somehow a folded up bath mat does not quite make my side level and you should see it after the kids come bouncing in for stories!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fun Street scenes

Walking around

The View

Christmas Letter 2012

This year’s Christmas letter hails from Southeast Asia.  In September, we made the voyage – 20+ hours flight time and a dozen bags of luggage – to Hong Kong to settle a new home.  We’ve found the city to be beautiful, friendly, shocking, crowded, busy, enlightening and intimidating.  The climate is tropical, space is small, all things are expensive and the pace is fast.  As expat rookies, the learning curve is steep.  The simple is hard.  The routine is exotic.
We began our time in Hong Kong in a small 31st floor service apartment in Kennedy Town, a densely populated district on the northwest part of Hong Kong Island.  The streets are lined with restaurants that proudly hang their freshly roasted goose (without troubling to separate its head) and ‘wet markets’ where fresh produce is sold along side freshly butchered meat (i.e., butchered on the spot).  Alas, Hong Kong is cosmopolitan and internationalize enough to have such Western amenities such as a grocery store – albeit a grocery store where everything is small and expensive.  A bag of corn chips is US$9 and a half-gallon of ice cream is US$15.  Except ice cream isn’t sold in such a big carton.  A box of four popsicles was actually labeled a “Family Pack”.  Sort of the antithesis of Costco where two or three gallon-size jars of mayonnaise are bundled together for a value package. 

We imported our own brand of novelty – a family of six complete with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 3-year-old.  From the time we landed with 12 pieces of checked luggage to our arrival at a restaurant asking for two or three tables to be combined so we can sit together, we received curious looks that conveyed both bewilderment and gleeful anticipation of the monetary prize the patronage of such a large group will bring.  And the fair-haired little boy?  Stranger Danger seminars have not reached this far east.  Complete strangers embrace Jason, doting and indulging him beyond repair.  Our shy, clingy mama’s boy seems to find the attention liberating; unhealthily I think.

We are finding some stability in our permanent flat.  We live in a high-rise apartment building, but we are down on the fourth floor.  The sea is a short walk away and Jason discovered that the rocky beach is fertile hunting grounds for snails.  Buses, trains and taxis are our mode of transportation now.  After learning the system, we are getting fairly proficient at getting around.  The kids find public transportation to be a source of freedom.  They can’t drive, but they can ride the train or hail a taxi.  We don’t miss driving much – the traffic is hectic, in part because they drive on the wrong side of the road – because we can sit back and read or relax until arriving.  That’s not to say the day Tim bought a 40” TV wasn’t challenging.  Two taxis pulled away once they saw that he was lugging a big TV box.  That day he missed his pickup truck.

People often ask how we are adjusting.  The simple answer is that we just are.  We haven’t adjusted, but we are adjusting.  We are grateful for a chance to see the world from the other side and sorely miss home at the same time. It is stretching and challenging, but a rich experience at the same time.  Some days are hard and some days are amazingly fun.  But they are all new experiences that are far away that we never would have been able to have without stepping across our Rubicon.  You can’t buy that at Wal-Mart.

The Christmas “feeling” is of course different here.  There are the Christmas decorations around the city, shops promising special deals, etc.  We play our favorite Sinatra Christmas album, but there is still a missing feeling.  Maybe it’s the lack of crispness in the air from winter pushing its way in.  No it’s more than that.  It’s the separation from friends and family that are never cherished properly until they feel out of reach.  No platter of Christmas goodies from the neighbors.  No driving around the neighborhood admiring the Christmas lights – and commenting on who really went over the top this year.  No preparing for the explanation of why Grandpa refuses to come over Christmas morning before 9am to start the opening of presents.  No get togethers with friends; sometimes catching up on life, sometimes just doing life together.

This Christmas we are thankful for God’s blessing and more than ever thankful for our friends and family.  Merry Christmas from 8,000 miles afar!

With love,
Tim, Shelley, Devon, Alexis, Emma and Jason

Monday, December 17, 2012

When Boxes Come. . .

JP sporting some new socks out of the box!

A big thank-you to Aunt Patsy, Grandma and Grandpa Cowan, Grandma and Grandpa Hale and Great Grandma Barbara!!

I think the post man is scared of us!  The doorbell rings and said door gets ripped off the hinges!  A box, a box.  Noisy kids race to the door and grab the package and cannot wait for the postman to leave before digging in.  I do not think he speaks much English.  Just from the post man's perspective to have giant kids rushing you all wrestling to get to the box first in their Hale storm manner must be quite intimidating!

Thank-you Mr. Postman--Merry Christmas!

Amazing Science

Ever play with mirrors and see your family become a riot? How about the headless friend photo?  Sleep on a bed of nails?  The Science Museum here is so amazing!  We have been there 4 times but never seen the entire thing.  It is a skyskraper that is filled with exhibits.  Each time we learn new things and the funny thing is that we see things that go along with our Science lessons.  We have enjoyed this museum more than any of the others.  One of these days we will see it all in the meantime we will hang out and enjoy each exhibit one by one.  The electricity that lights up when we all hold hands will always be a freaky favorite!

The Felix

Amazing, wow!  Tim and I went on this amazing date.  Tim was invited to a party with some people from work at this fancy restaurant.  One of the partners came to him and said the place was known for it's bathrooms--only that is not exactly how she said it! (When i googled it there was an article about the men's bathroom.)  The view over the harbour is amazing!  The urinals in the men's room might be in the window!  We were wowed by the food, the view and the company.  I really enjoyed getting to know some of Tim's fellow workers.  We watched the light show against the buildings in Hong Kong Island.  The kid's were totally spoiled because the partner sent them cookies and leftover macaroons!  I almost did not give it to them except they found them--doggoneit!  We shut down the MTR that day!  Wowzers! Tim said happy birthday to me before anyone!  He's so hot!  What a great date!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Nutcracker Ballet

What a fun afternoon matinee with the Hong Kong Ballet! Emma's first ever! How did I not notice she is the perfect age?! She was a little worried about not having words but soon was enraptured by the ballet and music. It was an excellent performance and the music was outstanding! I was disappointed that they changed the story and shortened the sugar plum fairy part but the kids did not remember seeing it before so they all loved it. Of course Jp loved the rats. They had glowing eyes. Afterward we met up with two other families we knew. One we did not even know was going!! No photos sorry!

Ice Skating

Emma, Jp and I went to a birthday party at Mega Box. It took over an hour to get there. The kids skated and then had chicken nuggets and chocolate cupcakes. I ate a Mos burger but was disappointed that they were out of pumpkin fritters. I am not sure what they are really. It is Japanese. Mine had stir fried mushrooms-real ones. They love fungus here! Jason is getting better at skating. He does not do as much"bum" skating as he says! After we stopped by Toys r Us. I love that place! Next the rush home balancing tired Jason and the packages of wrapped gifts I managed to sneak while the kids looked with their friends! Also, we managed to catch the Pacific View bus for the first time from Chai Wan which means the door man helped me with sleepy Jason, packages and doors! How great is that?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Birthday Party

We are rocketing along on a mini bus from our apartment to the MTR. 3 trains and we will be at the ice rink for a birthday party!

Revisiting Sailing

JP found sailing to be a peaceful type of recreation!

The older 3 were taking lessons in individual boats.  According to Emma if you run into another boat you must do pushups.  According to Alexis--Emma's pushups looked great!  The older two felt a bit cramped in their boats.  Something about their long legs being longer than the inside of the boat.  Alexis was told she was a natural.  She thought it was lots of fun to try but did not use enough muscle.  She would like to try sailboarding and be the boat!  The wet suits we bought are partial length.  (Short sleeves and shorts)  Very happening outfits that everyone wears on this side of the island but a little cold for staying out an extended length of time particularly if you are sitting in water.

I was a little disappointed not to see the kids.  We got our wires crossed a bit.  Arnie went to the island and saw them and took some great photos.  However, the instructor seemed to think that we would not have anywear to sit on the small island so we would be better off in town.  In retrospect I wish we had gone to the island!  We did get a trip out to Jade with Cam.  Their sailboat is a  very peaceful place.  Also, we spent a few hours exploring Sai Kung but might have gotten hung up on a playground catching bubbles!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sailing Workshop today

Today we went to Pak Sha Wan and the older 3 went sailing with a coach from the Hebe Harbor Yacht Club. It was lots of fun. They came home wet, cold, tired and hungary which means it was a great day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Contemplating Sweet Potato Pie and Guacamole!

How do these two go together?  I am not sure but the avacados are ripe and we want some pumpkin pie so we are improvising!  Same, same but different!