A Fresh Start

So here it is, the last day of summer 2016. I go back to work on Monday and although I’m looking forward to the year ahead, I have my usual back to school nerves. Like most teachers, the dreams start the last few weeks before the start of school, and although I have just under a week before the first day with students…I’m already feeling the stress.

I’ve posted about all our summer adventures, but I haven’t mentioned how much change has happened in our daily lives this year as well. We aren’t starting at a new school or going to a new location, but this year is a fresh start. One that the whole Hale family has been anticipating for some time now.

One of these changes is that we moved into a new place here in Shekou. Our apartment in Garden City was the only home that Paul remembers us having, so it’s been a slow transition into loving our new home. We moved into a house that is bigger that we need, but the lease is going to be short, we’ll probably only get it for this school year, if not less. Donnie is already worried about having to relocate and we just settled in.

We spent the last week before we left packing and prepping for the move that would occur while we were out of the country. It was a blessing and a curse to not be present for the actual move. Our school staff ended up having to move our stuff into an interim space before it could be moved into our place. This made me nervous about lost and broken items. Fortunately nothing was lost, but we did lose a few items (mirrors and lamps) in our transition.

Like I mentioned before, we stopped in for a day between the US and Thailand. It was a blur trying to get unpacked, finding a place for all our things. We did what we could and left the rest to finish when we came home from Thailand. One positive is that it gave Donnie the chance to measure the space and order a few things for the house. He did some shopping on Taobao and bought some new couch covers (for 1/4 of the price) and a large carpet for the living room. We also ordered some new brewing equipment, which we used when Liann was here. It was all delivered while we were away, which ended up ok, but was a little crazy to coordinate.

The house we’ve moved into is a place that the school has had under a rental contract for many years. It’s a 4 bedroom, two-story house, located behind our Main campus (where Donnie works now). It’s very old, and has not been updated in terms of features and some of the aesthetics leave something to be desired. But like I said, we are grateful for the space and especially the location.

When we returned from Phuket, we picked up where we left off. I spent a good 8 hours just unpacking boxes, and Donnie helped when he wasn’t at work. On the Sunday before I left for HK, we made a family trip to IKEA to pick up items that were on our list for finishing out the place. It was chaotic as usual and a little more than we wanted to spend, but we ended up with pretty much all we need for now. It took us two taxis to get our stuff home, and because the street is in such horrible condition, we had to haul it all about 150 yards from where the taxi dropped us. The rest of Sunday was spent assembling and setting our new purchases.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I don’t have any before pics, but those of you who have seen it can see how different it turned out. I few people asked us why we wanted to move to this place to begin with, and my response was always, Donnie has a way of making spaces feel like home. And he’s done it again.

I’m not saying there aren’t issues. The sinks don’t drain very well, the washer makes a huge puddle of water outside the front door, the baseboards are terrible and we’re in the process of replacing curtains and window coverings. But for now, we live around those things and I feel home.

So now there’s lots of space for visitors, Liann gave Hotel Hale a glowing review. 😉 Our home is open to anybody who wants to visit! I didn’t take pics of the guest room because it’s still in progress…:)

We had the Varvels and Callie over for dinner last night. It felt good to be with friends who have known us through so many changes. The Varvels were our first friends when we moved to China and Callie and I have so much history. It was nice to spend time with them. I’m glad that they are here this year. I already feel the shift of not having our departed friends here.

So in addition to new digs, we’ve got new jobs to figure out this year too. Donnie as a Director of Instruction, and me as a Bio and Psych teacher. I’m pretty confident going in this year for Biology, but I’ll need a few months to get the full handle on Psych. I’m super excited for the challenge though. I like feeling busy and productive, and I think I’ll have plenty of opportunity for that this year. Donnie is adjusting well to his new role (he went back to work 2 weeks ago), and he seems to really like his new position. Paul will be in 5 year olds, which is Kindergarten. I feel like people make such a big deal of the first day of kinder in the States, but it will be his 4th year at QSI so it’s kind of just a natural progression. I hope he loves it, I can tell he’s apprehensive, but hopefully the transition back to school goes smoothly. 🙂

I can already tell it will be weird to start back to work though. Normally that first day back is spent checking in and chatting with all your friends you haven’t seen daily for two months. I won’t really be involved with that this year. Honey and Callie are at a different campuses, and everybody at my campus mostly sticks to their own. Makes my heart a little sick to think about, but maybe I’ll be more productive? Hard to say when because my floor is filled with new people and they have endless questions. I like helping, but it’s hard too.

Seems like I will be starting this year how I ended last school year, conflicted, but full of hope for what’s to come. I have grown to really love it here, and that won’t change. 🙂

Best of luck to all the teachers returning to school on Monday too! Love to all, J.

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