Monday, January 13, 2014

All Quiet on the Home Front

I haven't been around much lately.  Partly because I'm not sure what I want to write about these days, but mostly because I've been focusing my attention on these three guys:


Blogging and writing will always be there, but these short days with my 3 favorite little boys?  Yeah, they will be gone before I know it.  I only have a few more months with N at home all day, and I'm trying to soak up the time with him while I have it. I'll be back, but the posts will be sporadic for awhile.  Thanks for understanding!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Beautiful Taiwan

Even after five years, I never cease to be amazed at how incredibly beautiful this place is.  Before we moved to Taiwan, I envisioned a country of factories and big, polluted cities.  There is some of that, of course.  But there is so much more to it than that. 

Confucius Temple, Taichung




Sun Moon Lake


Mike's brother-in-law was just here for 2 weeks, and we got to spend some time revisiting our favorite places around the island with him.

A and L reading on our balcony in Kenting, overlooking the Luzon Strait

Seriously.  This place is amazing.

Fields outside Hualian


Southeast coast near Jialeshui




River near Taidong on the east coast



Finding treasures at a tide pool near Kenting




Lighthouse at Taiwan's southernmost point, Eluanbi


Sunset at Howard Beach in Kenting


Hiking at 7 Falls in Pingtung County



Ruins of a Shinto Temple near Jiufen

Waterfall near Jinguashi
Taipei from 101

Taipei 101

 Come see Taiwan and see why we love it so.  But not everyone at once.  Notice the lack of crowds in all of the pics?  Let's keep this amazing place on the down-low.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

L's Birthday Interview

1. L, how old are you today?  SIX!





2. How does it feel to be 6?  Fun. Good. 
3. Why?  Because I get to do more things, like learn how to do the monkey bars and how to snorkel and swim better.
4. I think you will like being 6, don't you?  Yes!
5. What do you think are the most important things you’ve learned in life so far?  Discovering things about nature and learning how things like airplanes and robots work.
6. How do you think you’re different from a year ago?  Bigger and I can do more hard things, like climbing trees.   
7. What’s your favorite thing about having a birthday?  Presents!  And playing games!  And cake!  I love my Lego cake!  You know what would be terrible?  If you forgot to make me a Lego cake and accidentally made me a Barbie cake instead.  




8. What are your nicknames?  People can just call me any name that starts with an L.  Like Lollipop, or Loop-de-Loop, or Luke Skywalker. 
9. What do you think of your school?  It's good, because it's fun.  Miss F is nice, and I love PE and Art and Library.  I want to live at school because it's so fun!  Then I could creep around school at night--creep, creep, creep--and read books in the library and play on the playground and peek into the principal's office.




10. What do you like learning about?  Science.  Stuff like the five senses, and animals.
11. What's your favorite Bible story?  Moses.
12. Who's your favorite person in the Bible?  Jesus. 
13. What do you want to be when you grow up?  A spy.  A really tough one.  I think I'm going to just have one eye, and a big tattoo with real ink down my leg, and walk around without a shirt, or maybe with just a swim shirt. Then I'll be a super scary spy and no one will mess with me. (Er...what?!)  




I also want to be a scuba diver.  Can you get me a tuxedo so I can swim underwater better?  A tuxedo?  Yeah, you know, one of those tight suits people wear underwater.  Um, do you mean a wetsuit?  Yeah!  That's almost the same word, right? 
14. Tell me about our family.  Mommy and Daddy are in it, and I love them.  And I have one hundred brothers!  Well, I really only have two.  
15.  What do you like about having brothers?  They're fun.  And I love them.  And I want to hug them right now.





16. What is something Mommy always says to you?  Go make your bed.
17. And Daddy?  Go brush your teeth!
18. What is your favorite toy?  Legos.
19. What is your favorite place to go?  The beach.  I love snorkeling.  I love to go far out and look at all of the fishies and one time I saw a striped fish, and once I saw a polka-dotted fish.  I think that's the rarest kind.  
20. What do you love to do?  Swim.  Go to the zoo and ride the little train.
21. What's your favorite book?  On the Moon.
22. What would be the best thing someone could give you?  A pigeon.  I love pigeons.
23. If you had a whole day to do anything you wanted, what would you do?  Go to the beach and snorkel.  And then I would climb up to the docks and jump onto a boat that is pulling out, and ride on it until it gets close to a beautiful beach, and then I would jump off and swim there.  I love clear water and coral reefs and fish.




24. Do you think you’ll ever get married?  No.  Because it's too disgusting.  Kissing on the lips is just too gross.
25. How old do you think you’ll be if you do get married?  Um, 100.  I hope no one falls in love with me until I'm old enough to be in a nursing home.
26. What’s your favorite food?  Dumplings.  Fried ones.  And hamburgers.  
27. Anything you’re scared of?  I'm scared of dangerous stuff.  Like what?  Like fires and tornadoes and earthquakes.
28. What makes you happy?  Getting presents, being with my family or friends, going to school.
29. Anything else you’d like to say?  I love to hug mommy.  And I think she's so beautiful.  (Sweet L!)  I love my family.  That's all.



30. Can you think of any questions I should have asked but didn’t?  You should have asked me about my favorite animals.  Like killer whales.

Thanks for the interview, L! 
You're welcome!  Now it's your turn, Mom!  What's your favorite animal?
Mmmm, probably an otter.  For the other questions we have to wait for my birthday!  See you here again next year when you turn 7. 
Oh, okay!  Bye!



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Blink of an Eye

Yesterday, my middle baby started kindergarten.








We moved to Taipei 5 years ago this month.  A was barely 4; L was just an infant.  I was in the middle of the mother-of-preschooler years and was feeling quite overwhelmed with it all.  The boys both seemed busier than the average child (it was not unusual to find my 10-month-old baby perched on top of the dining table or piano, or my 4-year-old on top of the 9-foot courtyard walls; ER visits were a matter of course for us) and they kept me running all day.  The sun rises early in Taipei (by 5 in the summer), and so the boys did too, leaving me perpetually sleepy.  Mike had just started a new position and was traveling up to 3 months a year, often leaving me and the boys to fend for ourselves in a new city where the culture was different, the language largely unfamiliar, the days long and hot and hard to fill.

We had only been in Taipei a few weeks when Mike had to travel to meetings in Thailand.  During his absence, I unpacked in our new apartment and weathered both a large earthquake and a typhoon that made a direct hit on our island, all while chasing two very small, very active boys.  School started that week, and I looked a bit longingly at my neighbors who were sending their elementary-aged children off to school.  A had just a year left at home before he would start kindergarten, but L, because of when his birthday fell, had 5 more years.  5 more years! I thought to myself.  How will I ever survive this season?  Each day was so long, so full, so exhausting.  So rewarding as well, it goes without saying, but this mama was tired, and the long season of long days seemed to stretch on forever in that moment.

But then yesterday came. Yesterday, I rose early, and packed 2 school lunches, and 2 sets of mornings snacks, and 2 backpacks.  I laid out 2 sets of school clothes, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of socks.  I sat in my office, watched the brilliant sun begin to peek over the high-rise apartment building opposite ours, and reflected in the brief moment between daybreak and the sound of little voices waking.  In the blink of an eye, we went from having a household of tiny children to having 2 out of 3 boys in school all day.



How did that happen?

Just my 2-year-old remains at home with me, and I now know his at-home days will slip away through my fingers, one by one by one without my even realizing it, until one early morning I rise to get all 3 children off to school for the first time. And just like that, my days as a mom-of-preschoolers will be over.




Every single day of the last 5 years was long.

But I never knew just how short the years would be.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Sunday in Taipei

We're back in Taiwan and I hope to get back into posting here as our life resettles into a familiar routine. If you've stuck around during my hiatus, thanks for your patience; if you're new, welcome!

A little photo-journal of a day in our Taipei life...

6:45 am
The view from our rooftop: Taipei wakes up under a brilliant tropical sun.


7:00 am
A retiree does a little early morning raking for exercise at Daan Park. Felled tree branches--a result of Typhoon Soulik which hit Taipei last week--are piled around him.













7:10 am
Dozens of ladies in matching red and white exercise outfits take part in an early morning dance class at Daan Park.












8:35 am
Three happy faces on their way to church.

























10:38 am
Post-service fellowship at Grace Church, Tienmu.





11:45 am
Lunch at the food court at Takashimaya department store. For me: Japanese tempura.


For the boys: Thai curry and pineapple fried rice.

12:30 pm
Meeting a giant kiwi fruit at the grocery store.






































2:30 pm
An afternoon chat over freshly brewed, locally grown oolong tea.




3:00 pm
Watching a friend's band play at a local park.


3:30 pm
Sampling zongzi (a traditional snack made of glutinous rice stuffed with various fillings and steamed inside leaves or bamboo) at the Taipei Farmers' Market.
5:00 pm
A modern art installation in Central Taipei.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A's 9th Birthday Interview



1. A, how old are you today?  Nine.
2. How does it feel to be 9?  Great!
3. Why?  Because I'm older.
4. I think you will like being nine, don't you?  Of course! Because I'm older and I have more abilities and it's awesome being able to start a whole new year.
5. What do you think are the most important things you’ve learned in life so far?  To trust in God. And how to be whatever age I am--I mean, I just need to focus on being really good at being the age I am at the time. And...what else...oh, that everyone is created equal.
6. How do you think you’re different from a year ago?  I'm 365 days older. I'm taller, stronger, tougher. And the number of injuries I've had has grown for sure. 
7. What’s your favorite thing about having a birthday?  Cake and presents and cards.
8. What are your nicknames?  Dan. And Fire, because that's what "A" means.
9. What do you think of your school?  It's like any other school, except it's international and my best friends are there.
10. What do you like learning about?  Animals. Biology. Herpetology. Where words come from.
11. What's your favorite Bible story?  When Jesus made the animals. (Me: You mean when God did? A: Mom, it's the Trinity. Jesus was there too. Me: Oh. Right.)
12. Who's your favorite person in the Bible?  Jesus. 
13. What do you want to be when you grow up?  A biologist, because I love animals.
14. Tell me about our family.  We live in Taiwan, we're a group of five, I have a mom and a dad and two little brothers, my mom's a writer and takes care of us, and daddy helps people. Our family is epic.
15. What do you like about having brothers?  Well, sometimes they help me. And I always have company. Sometimes they give me too much company, but at least I'm never lonely.
16. What is something Mommy always says to you?  I love you.
17. And Daddy?  Same thing.
18. What is your favorite toy?  Legos.
19. What is your favorite place to go?  Taiwan. All my friends are there and I miss it.
20. What do you love to do?  Climb, swim to the bottom of the pool, go on nature walks, read.
21. What's your favorite book?  How to Be a Pirate.
22. What would be the best thing someone could give you?  Magical powers. I would give myself the ability to talk to any animal, or to turn into animals.
23. If you had a whole day to do anything you wanted, what would you do?  Go to Six Flags!
24. Do you think you’ll ever get married?  No! Because it's gross and you have to kiss. It's disgusting. 
25. How old do you think you’ll be if you do get married?  Close to dead.
26. What’s your favorite food?  Chinese food, like jiaozi (dumplings).
27. Anything you’re scared of?  The dark. Clowns. Falling in love, because then I might have to get married someday.
28. What makes you happy?  Being 9! Legos. My family.
29. Anything else you’d like to say?  No! 
30. Can you think of any questions I should have asked but didn’t?  What's my favorite animal! It's a meerkat. It's been that for about 4 years now.

Thanks for the interview, A! 
You're welcome!
See you here again next year when you turn ten. 
Okay. Can I get a pocketknife then?
We'll see.
Okay. Bye for now!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Little Joys

The boys have so been enjoying grandma's neighborhood. This guy usually finds at least one lizard or snake a day...




N can play for hours with a little pile of leaves.







Who knew laying in a pile of leaves could be so relaxing?




L prefers sweeping up the leaves for the neighbors...



...and climbing trees (a recently acquired skill).



We're thankful for the simple pleasures of life in my mom's quiet north Dallas neighborhood...and we're also so appreciative of the almost daily sunny, dry weather (a rarity in rainy Taipei) that allows us to spend a large part of each day outside climbing trees, chasing lizards, and playing in leaves.