Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Our New Addition

It's a Girl...at least for now!  Our kitty's name is Coconut, but we call her Coco.  The vet can't tell if it's a boy so for now Coco is a girl. 

Eric and I "rescued" Coco from the local market where someone dropped her and her siblings at the side of the road to fend for themselves.  A vendor there found her and took care of her until we adopted her.  We carried her home from the market in an orange box and welcomed her to her new palace, fit with litter box, toys and all the food she can eat.  A true rags to riches story.

Coco is 8 weeks old and weighs 1kg or 2.2 lbs!  She thinks I'm her mom and enjoys making "biscuits" on me and trying to suck on my finger.  She loves to play with anything that has feathers!  And for the most part has been a good little kitty.  She even has her own room!  Everyday she settles in more and get's more playful.  She is turning into a crazy kitty now that she is more comfortable.  She loves to play and run and bite.  She has even shown us a few of her crazy good Malaysian soccer skills, La Liga watch out!  Luckily she is not climbing the curtains yet...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November Happenings

This has been a very busy month for us.  I feel like I can hardly get my feet underneath me before I'm off to the next thing.  Busy is good, but busy is exhausting.  I've thought of several things to blog about and the list has gotten so long that the only way for me to get them all done is to do a few quick updates:

Jet Legged...Not the Hartners
Eric and I seem to have the perfect remedy for jet leg.  For the time being, we've mastered the right amount of sleep/food/alcohol/melatonin for our 14 hour long-haul flights so that our sleep isn't crazy for the days and weeks to come 

All Stocked Up
We stocked up on our trip back to Austin.  Our carry on suitcase became a 40lb checked back on the way home.  It was stocked full of cheese, coffee, granola bars and peperoni.  Our other 4 suitcases were filled with clothes, shoes, a few new purses, tequila and port...all the essentials, don't ya know.

Loy Krathong
We participated in the Loy Krathong festival again this year.  This festival took place during our "look-see" trip last year and now it's become a tradition.  This year, Manual, Tania and their girls joined us as we launched our lotus flower lanterns into the ocean off of Gurney Drive.  This festival is celebrated throughout SE Asia but it is primarily a Thai Buddist festival where it is believed that during the full moon, our bad luck from the current year will "float away" and the Goddess of Water will grant our wishes for the upcoming year.  

Dalat's First Swim Meet

This month I also organized Dalat's first ever home swim meet.  It was a large feat.  We had 81 swimmers and 40 events!  In typical Jenn Hartner fashion, I spent tons of time organizing, planning, and utilizing volunteers to help run the event.  It was a huge success!  From my prospective it was AWESOME!  The kids swam hard and had fun.  I worked hard and had fun.  I even got to coach.  I love this part of my life here!  I'm trying to figure out how I can keep coaching after the season ends....  I've got a few tricks up my sleeve! 

Tour de Mainland 
Last weekend a few of Eric's colleagues organized a trip and tour with the expats to the mainland.   We visited a local seafood restaurant for lunch and then made our way in our caravan of Toyotas and minivans to a treetop walk.  The walk was a 1 km track in the canopy of the rainforest.  The views were beautiful and we were able to see several different flowers, butterflies and monkeys. 

 After our hike, we headed back into Butterworth, the large town across the bridge, to visit the historic St. Anne's Catholic Church, one of the largest Catholic Churches in Malaysia.  We had to dodge the rain and hundreds of mosquitos, but nonetheless a good quick visit.  Our last stop before heading home was a fantastic Thai restaurant with hands down, the best Tom Yum we have ever had!  On our way back to our tropical island, we rode the ferry for the first time!  There was a cool breeze and a beautiful thunderstorm in the distance as we sailed back home. 

The NI crew after a fun day on the mainland!

Heading Home on the Ferry

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jamie and Brian's Wedding

The real reason for our first trip back to Austin was for Jamie and Brian's nuptials on October, 29th.  Jamie and Brian were married outdoors at the beautiful Lotus Ranch in Wimberly, Texas.  One of the best parts of the wedding weekend was the use of the ranch from Friday until Sunday!  With so many guests traveling from out of state or from other places in Texas, we were able to all sleep and party at the ranch!  It was great.  Jamie was by far the most relaxed and easy going bride I have ever witnessed!  Sometimes I wonder how we are related.  Unlike her older sister (AKA me) Jamie was calm and not stressed about anything.  The weather was beautiful, the bride was gorgeous and fun was had by all!  Here are a few pictures:

Waiting on the Bride to make her entrance:

Eric and Grandma walking Jamie down the aisle

God lights during the prayer..I know who was watching

Almost Husband and Wife

The wedding party

Matron of Honor and Brother of the Bride..we are still looking good!!

The Fam -- Grandma and (super cute) Charlie, Aunt Vicki and Gordon,
Aunt Jo and (big surprise) cousin Eric

Ok, time to get this party started...Dos XX anyone?

Mr & Mrs Boiles

Time to smash the cake in your face!

Love how Jamie is hydrating in the photo
Brother Sister Dance...

Officially Hitched!  Time for the Honeymoon

Monday, November 7, 2011

Adjust your time to Penang

To all our peeps back in the US that "Fell Back" this weekend you need to adjust your time to Penang.

If you live in the Eastern Time Zone we are now 13 hours ahead of you.

Texas and the rest of the Central Peeps, think 14 hours

and last but not least -- y'all on the West Coast we are 16 hours ahead!! 

Adjust your skype times accordingly :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dress by Candlelight 2011

When I found out that Dress by Candlelight was a week before Jamie's wedding I knew I would be there!  After a short 30 hours, I arrived in Austin less than 24 hours before the big event.  I had tried to keep my attendance a surprise, only telling Harriett and Karen and hoping that word didn't travel too far!  Misty was my date for the event, since Eric was still in Penang working!  I know that I surprised a few of my favorite peeps and it was great to learn about the growth the ranch is experiencing sine I left in June. 


The night was a huge success and we raised more money than in 2010!  I am so glad that I flew half way around the world for this night.  It solidified for me that Candlelight Ranch is the best nonprofit in the world, with the best people caring for it and the children we serve!  I love being a part of this place even if I am 7,000 miles away! 

Luxurious Langkawi

The weekend before we headed back to the ATX, Eric and I joined Kurt, one of Eric's work colleagues from Austin who was in Penang for two weeks, in Langkawi.  A short 20 minute flight from Penang, Langkawi is a cluster of 99 islands located just north of Penang and south of Thailand. These islands feel like a world away from the hustle, bustle and pollution of Penang.  In Langkawi, we found crystal blue waters, white sand beaches surrounded by virgin rainforests with a very relaxed island atmosphere!  Just what we all needed after a very busy few weeks!   

We were super fortunate that Kurt has family connections in the hotel industry and we scored a two night stay at the super posh and exclusive resort, The Andaman.  All I can say is this was super swanky and NICE! We had our own private beach where we watched the sun set and were able to snorkel right off the beach. Our resort was Eco Friendly and was surrounded by rainforest.  During our stay we saw monkeys, flying squirrels, bats and great horn bills.   Here are a few pics.

Living the Dream!
The Luxurious Andaman Resort!


On Saturday we hired a driver to take us around the island.  We stopped at a local waterfall, rode a cable car to the highest point in Langkawi and stopped by the duty free zone to stock up! 
Riding up to the top of the island!
It was a long way back down!  
The view from the Sky Bridge! 

We spent Sunday hanging out at the resort and alternated between snorkeling, napping, watching the Michigan game and eating!  Before we left our new-found piece of paradise, we bought a sea bass from a local fisherman who brought his daily catch to our resort.  The hotel staff happily prepared it for us!  A great ending to a wonderful weekend!  

 Not sure it gets much fresher than that!

We will definitely be back to Langkawi!  It was a wonderful weekend adventure!

Our First Chinese Wedding Dinner

Eric and I were invited to attend one of his colleague's, Chee Fai's, wedding dinner celebration this month!  This was our first official invite to a formal celebration in Penang.  Before going, I did some research on the dos and don't for Chinese Wedding Dinners, like you should not where black or white because they are funeral colors, and the appropriate gift is money and it should be given in a red envelope in even sums, but not in fours, because the Chinese word for death sounds similar to the word for four.  We were advised to show up "fashionably late" and that we would be served an 8 course meal to celebrate the union.  Eight is a good number because it looks like infinity. 

We headed to the wedding celebration dinner with fellow expats, Manuel and Tania.  The official wedding ceremony was held earlier that day and was for close family only.   Upon entering the dinner, we were greeted by the Bride and Groom, had our pictures taken with them and then escorted into a large ballroom.  We were conveniently sat up front in the "boss/work" section, right next to family and very close to the head table.  After a few introductions and speeches, the wedding meal began.  Course after course was brought to the table with little down time for digestion.  Just 2 straight hours of eating!    Here are a few pictures from the celebration.

The bride wore a hot pink dress to the reception!
The Bride and Grooms' families toasting the new couple!
One of the toasts (loosely translated) was may they not have to work so much or work late into the night, so that they may have time to enjoy the finer things in life, like making babies.

Some of the NI Penang crew at "el jefe" table

We were entertained by the Malaysian version of Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer. Toward the end of the meal, Eric was suckered into singing some karaoke!
One of the most notably different aspects of this wedding celebration to American wedding receptions was the lack of dancing and lingering all night to drink the bar dry.  It is expected that after you finish your last course, you stand up and leave, immediately.  So we followed suit and headed back across the bridge to our home, stuffed and happy!