dinner Conversations at home

Mom: “Ewwwww, he dropped it!!”

Dad: “Nobody Move!!! — I dropped me brain!”

Joseph: “Quit messing around & just eat it bro!”

:::chomp chomp chomp:::

Tryston: “Oh no, he needs a napkin – he’s gonna spit it out!”

Wesley: “Ugh… It had a SKULL!”squid plate

Mom: “Hmmm, look – it’s crunchy…”

Dad: “That’s not a skull, it’s a BEAK!”

Mom: “Cool, let’s dissect it.”

Joseph: “Yeah, take it apart & THEN eat it.”

Tryston: “Here, give me the chopsticks & a knife.”

Joseph: “There, NOW eat it… & the eyeballs too.”

:::chomp chomp chomp – GULP:::

Mom: “Wow. Your son just ate his first BRAIN!”

Tryston: “Well, he already wolfed down the tentacles…”

Dad: “Yup, that’s my boy!”

Joseph: “What did the eyeballs taste like??!!”

Wesley: “Pretty good for a SQUID BRAIN!”

This is the conversation that was had while we tested out the ‘Pun Choy’ meal that will be served at our January event where we invite poor & elderly neighbors to a big banquet in the city. Such is the ‘normal’ discussion among this family of TCKs! We have many more fun & strange food related moments living here in Hong Kong, we call it “Eating Ministry”. — As it turns out, it was NOT brain, this time, but the tissue surrounding the squid’s beak. Today I found a little interesting info about this piece of the animal that I never thought of before…

squid beakCulture Tips:

What to do with Squid-scraps after cleaning & cutting them up? – Fried Squid Beaks of course! – In Japan, the squid’s mouth parts – which are most definitely thrown away in Western cooking – are salted and fried up into an interesting little appetizer. The beak itself is inedible, but the surrounding flesh is firm and crunchy and actually quite tasty.

So, now we know. 🙂



full of Love & duck ~ a HK thanksgiving Pt.1

Peking Duck 北京烤鴨 (pronounced “Buck-ing Duck”, which is Beijing Duck) with the Team, all folks a good 20yrs older than Mark & I with no kids (or PIE!) in sight… was NOT exactly the Thanksgiving tradition we’re used to. Neither was the train ride home among hundreds of Hong Kong locals, or stopping for something resembling dessert at a mall, only to find ourselves running to catch the last shuttle bus home as it left ahead of schedule! But it WAS all an adventure we shared together as a family, everyone behaved themselves (although I had my doubts while we were getting ready, THAT was the same as every other year!), everyone got plenty to eat, we prayed a prayer of thanks with friends & loved ones, & we blessed each other in the name of the Lord! Sooo, in the most important ways, it turned out to be a familiar kind of Thanksgiving after all.

On Sunday, we got to ‘be there in spirit’ for our family Turkey Day in the States. It was Saturday in California when Grandpa called the boys to ‘skype them in’ after the big meal at Great Grandma’s house! What fun! Just a new way for the Kwong boys to try & stay center stage at every family gathering, even from across the world! Ha!! Although I (Joy) was feeling pretty sick & stayed clear of the camera, & Tryston was off at drama practice… everyone else got to say Hi & even “oohed & ahhed” over little Kyen, the newest family baby that was born just over a month ago. (Brings back sweet memories of another “Thanksgiving Baby”!) We are so thankful for technology! The boys are already talking about putting together a video for the family to play at the Christmas gathering next month… always a new adventure in the Kwong house!

The next stop on our journey is the ‘real’ Thanksgiving Day in a couple days. – Today however, was spent researching some tidbits about the first REAL Thanksgiving… We tend to dig a little deeper than the average school with our homeschoolers, so we found a few websites that give a bit more history to the ‘history story’ if you know what I mean. Here’s a link on just one that got us thinking, in case you’re into digging up the past as well. (The REAL Story of Thanksgiving). – Now, as for this Thursday, we may post-pone until next week. Scheduling a big day of cooking & feasting doesn’t really fit in when you’re living in a country that doesn’t declare it a holiday! LOL Which means we have a lot going on including drama, dance & work – all getting ready for a HUGE city-wide multicultural festival (1P1C – One People, One City) being organized by ICAHK. We’re ALL going to be helping all day for both days this weekend, PLUS we have a houseguest arriving for a week-long stay on Sunday too! – So look for another post on what we end up finding available to cook for our first Turkey Day w/o a Turkey!

No, Thanksgiving isn’t really the same w/ rice & noodles. Sure, we’ll miss Grandma’s snickerdoodles & cousin Kim’s berry pies… all my guys will be missing the sports & hanging out in Grandpa’s man-cave, I’ll miss being busy in the kitchen with all the girls & the annual “Fall Leaf Walk”… No, we can’t have all the food this year, we can’t have football or golf or a backyard game of anything up on the 51st floor… we can’t even have the people (except through skype) – but we have the most important thing, the LOVE! That’s what we are thankful for every day of every year! It’s enough to know that we are right where we are meant to be & doing exactly what we were called to do! We love our family & friends – we love the people of Hong Kong – love is what it’s all about – & LOVE knows no distance! If there is love in your heart, you WILL be thankful! Be thankful to God from whom all love is from, for HE IS LOVE! ♥

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” -1 Thess 5:18

*Culture Tips from Mark: A note on Peking Duck – 北京烤鴨 (Buck-ing Duck)

“We don’t actually call it that, although it IS named that after Beijing where it came from… Even the menu won’t say that. Instead it says 片皮鴨 (Pin Paay Naap) which literally translates to “Sliced Skin Duck” because that’s all it is, very little meat is served IN the dish. The actual meat is used for the stir-fry that comes later as a side dish.” -MK

Check out this site for a more detailed description: Peking Roast Duck

manners please, boys & Girl!

So I’ve been MIA for a while on here, but for good reason. We’ve been busy getting things ready & then yesterday we got a daughter! … ok, we BORROWED her, but she’s ours for a whole month! So we are officially Mom & Dad to four amazing kids, at least for August 2012!

Stephani came with Hot Cheetos for all!

With having another female in the house, all four of my boys (Dad included) have been in a state of confusion for the last 24hrs! Along with the joys of living with a ‘sister’, there are the challenges too. What do you do when a GIRL is using your shower & has locked the bathroom?? How do you play video games with a new sister sleeping on the couch?? But Dad always laughs when I burp & fart all loud like, why doesn’t Stephani think it’s hilarious?? Many adjustments are under way, manners are improving & one day soon, we may even get them to leave the toilet seat down. All thanks to having a female house guest for a month! Every family of all male children should try this, what better way to train a household of men to be better husbands & fathers one day!?!

We’re so glad for the break in routine & the visit time with Steph, & yes, glad to have a ‘daughter’ in the house for a month. Looking forward to the new adventures & showing her around town & what it is we do here in Hong Kong! She’s excited to be on the other side of the globe & is ready for anything we throw at her! Oh, to be 19 & taking on the world! – Of course, the challenges are not only for the boys, being 19 & raised in a home w/o brothers… well she has a whole new world welcoming her! In fact, it’s only day 2 now, & she’s already encountered spit flying onto her (accidentally) & a full on ambush during the nerf dart wars… Wonder what will be next, wet willies or couch jumping 6am wake up “snuggles/tickles”???

Stephani’s first day (yesterday) was chock full of activities. Mostly to keep her awake in order to help with the jet lag… After her 17hrs of travel from San Fransisco, Steph arrived in HK right at 8:30am. Of course, once she found us at the airport, we had to help her get back into the secure area to find her luggage… Thankfully, Mark has a way of speaking Cantonese at just the right moments. Love Him! Then it was off to our flat to get her settled & drop off luggage. Next, we found a bus that took us up to the tourist ‘lookout’ spot called The Peak. Must repeat that one on a clear & sunny day – but the adventure was fun even with foggy views. After returning to the city, we introduced Steph to our homeless friends in the North Point area, she was thrilled to dive right in on her first day! Looking forward to her getting more involved in the weeks to come… Last, we took her to a Hot Pot dinner where a big pot sits on a stove built into your table & raw food is thrown in the bowling soup & everyone takes their pick from the pot!

All FOUR of our kids at The Peak, Hong Kong.

Amazing how much busier life can be with only one added person. Hopefully between helping with jet-lag, culture shock & manners review, I’ll still get around to posting here. Then again, I just might be too busy having fun with my new partner in crime… There’s only so much time for blogging when you have another girl around, what with the shopping & coffee trips & all…

For more tid-bits on Stephani’s side of things, check out her blog about her first day: Plane Rides, Little Brothers and Yu-don


how the [ Other Half ] live

“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him,

how does God’s love abide in him?” -1 John 3:17


Many new & often strange food surrounds me in this land. From steamed chicken feet to cubed pig’s blood & of course, the bird’s nest soup! That last one definitely fell in the category of “Eating Ministry” adventures… Every now & then you take a risk that pays off, as I did with the Parma Ham with Melon a few weeks ago. Of course, this is not a big risk, unless you’re an avid ham avoider like myself… Turns out to be my new favorite fancy Italian dish & I’m sure I will find a way to make it for Thanksgiving! I am so grateful to our new friends for introducing me to it over a lovely meal at the beautiful Italian Restaurant, it was great to relax with them & enjoy the view of the city…

Parma Ham with Melon @ the Regal Hotel in HK.

Our friends happen to Manage the hotel where we ate with them. Many of our new friends & co-workers here seem to live in a different world – ‘On the other side’ as my grandfather might say… At first we didn’t quite know how we would fit or where, among people who clearly did not live like us. Didn’t we expect that? you ask… Sure, we expected to serve the poor & homeless, we hadn’t thought much about ‘the other half’… God is teaching us new things every day. – How can a housewife from California relate to a working mom who employs a live-in Nanny/Maid?? Well, I try to be real & genuine in everything I do & say. When I’m asked how can I possibly cook, clean AND homeschool my kids each day – I tell them the simple truth, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” I even share my failures, the times I lose my cool & yell at a kid… but I tell them how I’ve learned to ask for forgiveness from my boys as well. Sometimes we take for granted that an educated or wealthy person already has everything they need.

Our view from the Regal Hotel in Causeway Bay.

Lamborghinis parked in front of ‘box collectors’ (local elderly often recycle cardboard to pay their rent), church secretaries with their own private drivers; meanwhile, just down the street, Mark & I brought a box of flea collars to a man in a ‘cage home’. This city is one of contradiction & hypocrisy. Poor & wealthy share the same sidewalk without a glance at the other. The poor are often eager to hear our stories of Hope & Redemption… the rich are not as interested… So how DO you offer that which cannot be bought to someone who truly thinks they CAN buy happiness?? I don’t have the answers, but God does… I live my life unto Him. I trust that He will guide my relationships. Many of the people I come across cannot imagine simple daily tasks without paying someone to do it, they cannot fathom raising their own kids or making sacrifices in order to BE with their kids… I find it isn’t always just because they CAN, but sometimes because it’s the only way they know HOW to live. Those that are already grounded in a firm faith in Christ, like our friends at the hotel, they know the truth of God’s generosity & the purpose for their blessings… they give it away & they serve with their time in prayer & with their hands to heal & help others in the name of Jesus.

Boxes collected & waiting in North Point, HK.

The other day in our home group, one friend was sharing with another about how spending time doing devotions with her kids has brought them closer together. The other mother smiled politely & said she was sure it had, but she wouldn’t know how to begin. The first friend told her, “Well I learned from watching Joy with her kids – she will help you too & we can all do it together!” Thank you Lord, for showing me why you placed me here among people who don’t ‘look’ like they need anything I have to give. Thank you for humbling me everyday & reminding me how you work in the very simple & mundane tasks of washing dishes & sweeping floors – which is when I do devotions with my kids. So these ladies don’t have to wash, but they see the need for teaching their babies about Jesus. For that I am so grateful.

May my heart be tender & my ears open to the Holy Spirit every day I spend with my new friends. May I continue to trust Him more, serve Him better & walk humbly among both rich & poor – wherever He may lead me.