Dear Family and Friends,
May your Christmas and New Year be blessed.
The Braykos continue life in Hong Kong, now in our fourth year there and our eighth year abroad. Adam is now a sophomore and 16. Alec is 13 and in 8th grade. Brenda continues teaching juniors and seniors English at 80%, working with Forensics and Theater clubs. Brent continues as Associate Principal of Teaching and Learning and working on school accreditation teams. We all travel with school events occasionally (more on that shortly). Our dog Rigby, a fluffy rescue that resembles a bear, is now 8. And our cat Jigs is 7. Hong Kong has been good to us. We love the beauty and quiet of the South side of Hong Kong island which resembles the French Riviera. It’s just a half hour to get to the cityscape of Hong Kong, with its Time Square high end shopping and plethora of international restaurant choices and view of Victoria Harbor.
Travel this year took us hither and yon - Alec to Thailand, Brent to Morocco, Brenda to China, the whole family to Cancun, Mexico. In the summer we headed back to the US where Adam went to Art Camp for the first time and worked with ceramics; Alec went to a more traditional camp with a friend from the Madison area, and we all spent a week in Minoqua at a lake cabin with Brent’s brothers and family.
The summer was busy with visits to family and friends, as usual. We always count our blessings when we are welcomed home by loved ones. This summer we knew it was time to reorganize our “stuff” which was stored in pods and loved ones basements. We knew this would mean garage sales. We didn’t know it would mean three garage sales and the purchase of a house in Green Bay! But that is what happened. When a house comes to you after seven years of living nomadic summers, you take it. We closed on our three bedroom home near Lambeau field the end of September! And we are in the process of moving in now as we are back in Wisconsin for the holidays. The house is small and perfect for our needs. It has been “like Christmas” opening boxes of our possessions that have been in storage for more than seven years. Ah, memories!
Personal highlights includes the conclusion of Brenda’s “Year of Brenda” as she declared it - a time to reset her mental, spiritual, and physical Self for her next 50 years. It was a phenomenal year of learning and growth. Part of the growth took place at a three day Spiritual retreat at a retreat center in Hong Kong which both Brenda and Brent attended. (I would recommend Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward for anyone wanting to explore their spirituality at a new level.)
Adam continues to embrace veganism, running, and the creative arts and has added writing short stories for public viewing to this list of achievements. One of his stories online has surpassed 1300 views! He also plays guitar. By far, Adam’s biggest news is the furthering of his transition from female to male with top surgery, which took place just a few weeks ago in Madison, WI. Recovery is going quite well but it will be months before we know the final results after healing. After living through many ups and downs, Adam now finds himself counseling others through their own difficult paths. We are proud of him.
Alec continues to enjoy gaming (especially Minecraft) and speaking in interesting accents (Russian, British, Aussie), but has also made clear strides in vocal music. He has built confidence this past year, singing in the leadership team at church with his parents for example. This has led to a fabulous debut at the recent choir concert singing in an acapella quartet (a Pentatonix song) and taking a lead role in the Christmas musical at church. He also is taking a leadership role in the Pick the Lock club at school (a math-related club). He is a level-headed young man who makes friends easily and knows how to maintain them. We are proud of him.
Brent continues being a phenomenal leader at HKIS and is enjoying working with our new high school principal. He works with a personal trainer to stay in shape. He loves a good massage and good friends and food. He keeps the family organized and is a great husband and father.
Christmas letters are good at providing the highlights of life (much like social media) and not so good at expressing the ups and downs that come with living the life of a human being. But we’ve had our share of those too. We welcome more intimate conversations with you anytime, those that invite not only smiles but tears as well.
May you be well. May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be loved.