Whew. We made it through January. It has felt as though January has lasted an eternity, and usually I wouldn’t complain, but it’s been cold and dreary lately and I had hopes that February would be different. It’s not really, it’s still cold and dreary, but at least we have a break this month!
We’ve had some good times this January though, starting with Donnie’s 50th birthday! I had made some plans for him and I to have a romantic getaway to Hong Kong, but they slowly and tortuously fell apart the week before. His actual birthday was a Tuesday, so we had a TAPS happy hour and invited some friends for the festivities. It was a nice mix of people who came out to celebrate, our school friends and beer friends, and it was low key, but still fun.
As I said, our plans for the weekend slowly fell apart. I had booked some brewery tours and a nice steak dinner to celebrate, but Amy (our ayi) told us she wouldn’t be available to watch Paul. And both Donnie and Paul were both feeling under the weather. We decided to make it a family adventure, and planned a fun family day. Paul woke up with a fever, but after some rest and ibprofen, we were ready to tackle the day (we’d already pre-purchased all our events). First we went to see The Last Jedi again, in 3D at our local Imax here in Shekou. Then we basically ran out of there to catch an afternoon ferry over to Hong Kong. We made it with time to spare, but Paul was starting to feel worn out. We hoped a stop at Marks and Spencer’s would perk him up, and it did, but only enough to make it to Toy’s R Us to pick out a toy to keep him occupied for the day. From there, we went shopping at the department store Marks and Spencer’s and Paul finally hit his limit. From there we traveled to our hotel for the night where Paul played and Donnie and I tried to make the best of it. We had some snacks and wine and watched some Nat Geo before falling asleep. The next morning everybody felt a little better, so we attempted some of the errands we couldn’t get to the day before. Unfortunately, Donnie lost his phone in the taxi cab, so we were delayed by 90 min while we waited for the cab to come back with it. Luckily, he did! So we resumed our day by heading up to HK Brewcraft for some brewing supplies. While they were milling our grain, we opted to have lunch at our favorite TX BBQ craft beer spot, and from there headed back down to pick up our beer stuff. Unfortunately, time was not in our favor and even though we rushed to catch the ferry, we missed it by minutes. It worked out fine though, gave us time to do some grocery shopping at the M&S and have some ramen before we headed home. Not quite the weekend I had planned, but it was pretty fun nonetheless. (I think I still owe Donnie a proper celebration sometime).
The next weekend was our annual QSI winter party. It’s in between Chinese New Year and Christmas to accommodate the two cultures in our school community. This year the seating was a little funny, but we ended up at a table with one of Donnie’s friends and her boyfriend. It was a blast, and Donnie made us participate in the goofy games (including dancing with a balloon between our foreheads) that were being played. But to keep the streak up, I won nothing. Sigh. After the party, we took a crew out to Bionic. It wasn’t too cold and the beer delish and company was fun so we hung out until past midnight before coming home. We also munched on my favorite Chinese BBQ treat- tofu skin with spring onions inside. YUM.
The rest of these weeks have been a blur of cold weather, running, hanging out as a family, eating, drinking and generally laying low and keeping warm. These past few weeks haven’t seen temps over 10-12 degrees Celsius and it’s torture to be out in it. Lately it’s been raining and windy too. Not my favorite. Paul and I have been combating the cabin fever by baking. Last weekend we made ‘magic’ cupcakes with a hidden center of white chocolate and peanut butter frosting. It was delicious. We’ve also been working on his school projects and he got to go on an awesome ice skating field trip. He helped his friend stay skating, and Callie sent me the sweetest pic of them. I’ve also introduced him to the best tv show ever: The X-files.
These days feel long and hard, especially being cold ALL DAY LONG. It’s exhausting, but I know they won’t last forever. I’ve been trying to focus and get my work done, but there are increasing mistakes I find and I’m struggling to manage it all. It’s the busiest season, with testing coming up and so much to manage in terms of teachers and students, but I know this too shall pass. I’ve been combating the blues with taking Italian lessons online 1x per week and surfing apartments in Brindisi online. We’ve made our summer plans, which aren’t exactly what we wanted to do, but will be fine just the same. We’ll head back to SA for a few weeks, have a week in Seattle for training and then straight to Italy on July 14. I’m so excited! I want to soak up these days in Shekou, but when it’s cold and windy and miserable, it’s hard.
I just realized that this weekend is the 5 year mark of when we accepted these jobs with QSI. We’ve grown so much and I’ve learned so much about a piece of the world I never though I’d ever see. There will be things to miss about Shekou and things we will gladly leave behind, but I will always marvel at our time here.
In 1 short week, Andie and Ben will be arriving! I’m looking forward to hanging out and showing them around. It’s our first CNY to stay in Shenzhen, and I’m curious how it will play out. I’ve made a calendar of events for us, and even if we just have a lot of down time, I’m looking forward to being with them. 🙂
Much love to all. J