Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our JennEric 2012

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope this letter finds you all healthy and happy during this season of joy.  2012 has been a wonderful year for us. We have settled into our lives in Penang and have been fortunate to see the world in ways that we never dreamed.   In case you missed what we’ve been up to here is a quick catch up on our lives. 

December marks our 17th month living in Malaysia.  Eric continues enjoying working at National Instruments Penang where he is an Analog Tech Lead and is invested in mentoring and growing the local team of engineers.  October marked the opening of NI’s new permanent site in Penang, Eric will forever be a part of the building as all founding hands were cast in stone.  Jenn has settled into her duties as a “housewife”.  She spends her days walking in the botanical gardens, going to lunch or coffee with her friends, playing with Coco, and is the head swim coach at Dalat, the International American school.  She is currently coaching 48 kids ages 7-18.  Jenn and Eric continue to explore Penang and spend time with the large group of friends they have made from all over the world.

Travel – This year we have literally flown around the world, more than once!   It has been a busy year traveling. We have utilized the 18 public holidays that Eric gets working on Malaysia.  We rang in 2012, in Perth, Australia, where we explored the Western Australian outback and snorkeled the beautiful and untouched Ningaloo Reef.  Our friends, Dave & Emily were our first visitors in Penang and stayed for a few days during their two month South East Asia honeymoon.  Dave & Emily joined us at our private villa in Bali and met up with us in Hanoi, Vietnam.  The four of us took a 3 day cruise of majestic Halong Bay, where we kayaked and enjoyed the cool weather. Our next visitors, Christie and Jason came to Penang for two weeks in February where we explored Penang and our favorite neighboring island, Langkawi.  In March, we met back up with Dave and Emily in Emerald Lake, British Columbia, Canada to celebrate Robin & Eli’s wedding.  We enjoyed cross country skiing on scenic Lake Louise, warm fires, hot tubs, the company of good friends, cheese, and good Canadian beer. 

In April, we decided to scale back our travels and took a road trip with our friends to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.  We spent the weekend eating delicious food, shopping, visiting the American grocery store and filling our cooler with pork products. In May, we returned to our favorite island to the north, Langkawi, with Nikki & Leon and Louise, Eric & Mya.  We all enjoyed a relaxing weekend on the beach.  In June, Eric and I spent a long weekend in Bangkok where we visited the famous Wat Arun and Reclining Buddha temples. 

July brought more visitors to our home.  Jenn’s Aunt Joann and cousin Alasdair spent four weeks in Malaysia, where they partook in daily activities such as going to the market, drinking fresh juice and visiting the samosa man.  We also visited the Perhentian Islands off of Eastern Malaysia, where the snorkeling and diving is amazing and reef sharks and schools of fish abound.  A few days after we returned to Penang, the four of us hopped on a plane and flew to Siem Reap, Cambodia to explore the ancient temples of Angkor, the largest religious site in the world.  We had an amazing time learning about the temples and we were lucky enough to be the last tourists at Angkor Wat one evening, very magical.  In August, Eric and I returned to Vietnam.  We visited Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi.  In Hanoi, we took advantage of their wonderful tailors and had clothes and shoes custom made. We also spent each day under a cabana enjoying the gorgeous South China Sea.

In September, Eric and I returned to the States for a fast 20 day visit, where we made stops in Michigan, Texas and New York.  We attended Aunt Vikki and Gordon’s wedding in Michigan and Chris and Sarah’s wedding in Rochester, NY.  We made a quick 4 day stop in Texas and were able to catch up with our friends in Austin and spend time with our dog and horse at Jamie and Brian’s new home in Bryan.  We also caught a Michigan Football game with Christie and Jason and spent time catching up with family in Michigan.  It was a very busy trip.  We returned in late September and “took a break” from traveling.  For Jenn, that lasted 28 days before she flew to Singapore with Nikki for a girls’ trip.  We are planning on spending Christmas in Koh Samui, Thailand and ringing in 2013 in Penang. 

Big Milestones in 2012 – Both of us celebrated our 30th Birthdays this year and were surrounded by friends from all over the world.  Eric and I also celebrated our 10 year anniversary and 5 year wedding anniversary.  The biggest news came shortly after our return from the States.  Eric and I are expecting our first child due May 30, 2013.  We are very excited and are looking forward to being parents.  With the growth of our family, Eric and I are working on extending our time in Malaysia for an additional 18 months. We are enjoying our second home very much and think this will be a wonderful place to start raising our family.  We hope that you will come and visit or at least give us a call on Skype.  Don’t forget to check our blog for more updates:

We wish you all a peaceful and joyful new year!  Come and visit us in Penang!

Jenn and Eric and Coco

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fall Recap

Now that our "secret" is out, I hope I will be excused for not blogging too much these last three months.  Honestly for the first two months of this pregnancy, I felt nauseous looking at the computer and did not want to spend anytime on it, so I didn't.  We've been keeping a pretty low profile since our return from the US but are slowly emerging back to real life. 

For those of you who want a quick recap of what we've been up to here it is:

Luscious Ladies in Pink
Me and my favorite Kiwi Ladies
For the second year, I've attended Luscious Ladies in Pink, a fundraiser for breast cancer in Penang.  This is one of my favorite events of the year!  The grand ballroom of the Eastern & Oriental hotel is filled with ladies dressed in pink, yummy food is served and there is a fashion show.  It's a fun event and a great way to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer.

3 Days in Singapore
After our US trip, I swore off traveling, at least "for awhile."  That lasted all of 28 days before I took a quick trip down to Singapore with Nikki.  This was a great get-a-way that helped me feel a bit better and partake in some of Singapore's modern and amazing activities.  Highlights of this trip include, eating a real American beef burger at the American military Terror Club, exploring the amazing Gardens by the Bay, visiting the Night Safari, shopping at the PEX (where I stocked up on Kashi cereal,  American candy and Dos XX beer for Eric), and learning about Singapore's WWII history. 
The Gardens By the Bay --HIGHLY Recommended!
Waterfall Bio dome - a great way to cool off in the Singapore heat
Singapore at night
Nikki's Baby Shower
Shami & I hosted Nikki's baby shower in early November.  We had a fun afternoon lunch with bubbles.  The mum to be was showered with gifts and we can't wait to meet the Fox's new baby girl.  Only a few more weeks!
The ladies
Back to Coaching
Swim season started back in October.  This year I have 48 swimmers ages 7-18 on my team.  We are practicing 3 days per week and it's keeping me super busy.  Last week we hosted a swim meet with 3 other schools.  It was a very successful meet! 

Our favorite American holiday has come and gone.  We celebrated on Thanksgiving and made a traditional spread of ham, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans and pumpkin pie.  It was, hands down, the best tasting Thanksgiving I have ever made.   We also joined 60 other expats at Jeanmarie and Scott's for a potluck style feast.  Thanksgiving in Penang did not disappoint!

What about Eric?
Well Eric has been around, although it may not appear that way in any of the above mentioned sections.  He has been busy working and hosting work guests from Austin.  He is wrapping up a 10 week Analog Design Best Practice course that he has been teaching and coordinating.  We've been doing a lot of shopping and hanging out on the weekends, nothing too exciting, just living the good life in Penang.

What's next?
Now that I'm feeling more human, the travel is about to ramp back up.  We are headed to Koh Saumi, Thailand for Christmas and Chiang Mai, Thailand for 10 days in January.  Our friend Billy is coming to visit for 2 weeks in December.  We are looking forward to our travels and visitors and I'm sure there will be more to come on the blog!