Saturday, January 30, 2016

A new year in Hong Kong

2016 has started in this new country and we are still discovering it. John Henry went with friends to see the fireworks in the harbor and it was spectacular. The rest of us rang in the new year quietly...or rather sleeping! Steve had just come home from a trip, was exhausted, and I'm just not a night owl anymore. On January 2nd, we had friends over for supper. A young couple who came from Atlanta to Hong Kong. She is a teacher and he is an artist and musician. They brought instruments and we played and sang and played some more. It was soooo much fun. They have an almost 5 year old daughter and she and Lizzy enjoyed some girl only time up in the Cinderella attic that is Lizzy's room.

We spent the next week getting ready for Lizzy birthday party. She planned it again this year and it was a smashing success. She made invitations, created a scavenger hunt, chose the location(the local park) chose the food(a picnic) and kept me me daily lists of to do items. I believe she has more fun planning parties than anyone I know!

After Lizzy's party, we turned our attention to John Henry and Sam's birthday party planning. We have been meeting regularly with a group of homeschooled teens to play music and this session, the teens have been coming to Discovery Bay. These teens and families have become our good friends and so we invited them to come have lunch and desserts with us. I cooked all the requested foods the boys wanted, so it was basically a repeat of Christmas. We all enjoyed the meal and our Singaporean and Chinese friends discovered they like southern cuisine!

The rest of January has been spent getting back into the school grind after Christmas holidays. We have done a couple really cool things this month, too. We met with an author, Shannon Young, here in Hong Kong who is the daughter of a homeschooling friend of mine. I met Shannon's mothers Julie long ago when I started using the Five In A Row curriculum. This curriculum has a unique online group supporting those who use it. I have met several of the moms in real life now and all are wonderful people. When I told them I was moving to Hong Kong, Julie sent me a message reminding me her daughter was in Hong Kong. So, I've been conspiring to meet with Shannon ever since we arrived. Shannon came to Hong Kong five years ago because she fell in love. She met her husband in England while they were both studying abroad. He had accepted a position as an attorney here and she decided to move here and teach English. She worked for three years as a teacher and began writing in her off time. She has now published five books and is making a full time living writing.

Homeschoolers listening to author Shannon Young, aka Jordan Rivet.
Lizzy and Shannon discussing life with lots of siblings.

Some of the kids and Shannon. She spoke to us in the rain and the kids asked tons of questions and enjoyed her so much. Several of them left saying she had inspired them to write. Look for her latest writings, The SeaBound Chronicles by Jordan Rivet available on Amazon.

Scout trip...and winter finally arrives in Hong Kong!!!

Paul and Sam had the opportunity to work a checkpoint for a large trail race here in town, the Hong Kong 100. This is a 100K race raising money for charities. The scouts from all over Hong Kong island help work the checkpoints for the runners. The checkpoints provide drinks, snacks, light meals (pasta and soup) and this year warming stations. Hong Kong doesn't normally have ice, sleet, and snow. But of course....we can't do anything easily so our boys camped out on the coldest days in Hong Kong in 57 years. Our boys were prepared, though. They have camped in colder conditions. The challenge is that scouts here have to pack in all their car camping in Hong Kong! So, it is hard for a 65 pound kid to pack in enough gear to keep him warm in freezing weather. But they layered clothing, sleeping bags, liners, and light blankets and did well till Sunday morning. It was sleeting while they were packing up and they got wet, the wind was blowing 30-40 mph and so they got quite chilled waiting on transport out. They were so glad to be home and I was glad to have them home.

Paul and Sam and fellow scouts loading up for their adventure

Now a moment about Hong Kong houses! Hong Kong houses don't have heat. Yep, you heard me, no heat. They use space heaters. The windows leach cold air when the wind blows...and it blows a LOT. We got seriously cold for a week and were walking around in our jackets and layered clothing INSIDE! Now this week has been rainy and cool, but we have a reprieve from the serious cold thankfully.

Trip to Hong Kong Wetlands Park

Everything begins with, was bus to MTR to light rail, then walk for 10 minutes.

Light rail is above ground trains on a track with electric lines above. Modern day trams.
End of the walk...we found it. It's always an adventure!
Beautiful overcast day, not too cold and the rain let up.
Shenzhen, China, the town that is over the border in mainland China, can be seen from the park.
Nice boardwalk trails through the whole park
Nearest in the background...wetland boardwalk in the foreground.

Hong Kong is a stopover for migrating birds. They were everywhere. My phone doesn't take good photos in the distance, but there were birds everywhere.

That same night, Steve took Paul, John, and Sam to hear holocaust survivors speak for Holocaust Remembrance Day. It impressed them all deeply.

Mr. Dov Landau, a polish born Jew, who was taken into a concentration camp at age 13 and liberated at 16. He lost his entire family, parents, four young brothers, and all his extended family.

Sam was especially moved.

This gentleman was also a child of the holocaust who was given to a Catholic woman and she raised him and four other little ones as he own for the duration of the war, hiding them in plain sight. Many ordinary people did extraordinary things to save others.

Sam just needed to hug him. He told me later he was so sad for them, so he wanted to help him feel better.

We've been able to speak to many of our friends and family this month, too. We have talked via Skype to our Trussville pastor, Mark Lacey, Girl Scout Troop 679, Wednesday Children at Trussville UMC, in addition to our regular FaceTime chats with family. I love technology. It surely helps to keep in touch with everyone.

Whew...sorry this is so long. I thought monthly updates would be good. Then as I wrote, I realized had an eventful month and three birthdays. Hopefully February will be a little easier on us!