Monday, April 30, 2012

Snoozing in the backpack carrier

It's time to give credit where credit is due - our girls have done an amazing job getting used to the work week schedule. (This post will probably change the current alignment of goodness, but...) The schedule has the potential to be rough for them. Each morning during the week, the Freeca needs to begin rolling towards Paradise by 6:40. This means that the girls are up, dressed, fed (for Xian this means a two to three course extravaganza) and buckled into the car seats. For the most part, they have been on the ball! They are so good at the schedule that they carry it right on through the weekend.

Hmmm, not quite what we were hoping for. Yep, this past weekend Xian even tried to earn a gold star for being ready by waking at 4 am. On Saturday! I tried to coax her back to sleep to no avail. Finally, I dropped her into the backpack carrier, woke Audrey up and went for a walk. Since she is now on my back I can't keep an eye on her but somewhere around the halfway point she got quite still. Asleep?

Getting home I slowly sat down on the couch and gently laid back. Unbuckling the carrier, I turned to see my sleeping beauty.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Conversations with Sage

Another seat at the table

Sage is closing the door on her 4th month of life and continues to fill out. Today, we gave her a try at the breakfast table and she seemed to enjoy the promotion. (Her former "kitchen seat" was a small recliner that put her at an eye-to-eye level with Audrey instead of her sister.)

Hey! Is this how you do it?
Lucas, is one of Sage's buddies. He is a rabbit from France that hangs out in our kitchen and shares a seat with Sage on most days. Here, Sage checks out his shoes as she appreciates the great toy tray that comes along with the big girl seat.

Xian, who has been sitting in a high chair for almost as long as Sage has been alive, shows Sage how to relax at the breakfast table.

Sitting up can be hard work!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Corner booth

It's the weekend!  The girls decide how to act at the breakfast spot.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Busted (again)!

While driving in Taiwan, it is easy to get the feeling that the big brother with the stick may be watching you at any moment. Cameras are everywhere though not at every intersection. In many instances, cars blaze through red lights without bothering to stop. A stop light is located at the end of our development. We typically give a good 5 second count before pulling out at a green light to give the scooters and cars that choose to run the light plenty of time. There must not be a camera here...

I'm good for 1-2 camera tickets a year. So far, I've collected two camera-trapped speeding tickets and one for running a red light that I contend I did not see. In my local area, I now know where the speed cameras are located and in what direction they operate so my speeding is no longer an issue and I have a pretty good feel for the red light cameras.

But, from time to time we venture out of town where Google Maps is our best friend. We follow the blue dot along streets with characters we cannot pronounce. Sometimes the search for the correct turn can be distracting and a camera-monitored intersection can pop up at the most in-opportune times.

I recently received this in the mail. The writing tells me to stop at the line when the light is red - good to know! Fortunately this ticket is small compared to some of the others...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bangkok Revisited

Even before we received our little bundles of joy, we were planning for the day when we would get the call that we were to be parents. There was a lot of preparation that began over a year before our first wee one was born. Packages arrived from the States filled with tiny little outfits, cloth diapers were researched and cribs were purchased. In addition, whenever we traveled throughout the year preceding the girls' arrival, babies were on our minds. It seemed as if everywhere we went had a slew of baby items ripe for the picking. So how could we resist when we saw these cute outfits on the streets of Bangkok? Khao San Road was filled with graphic T's and fisherman pants. There were just so many items to choose from. Darth Vador Ts,

 elephant butt pants complete with the tail. . .

impossible to turn down; and just how would we know that the OM shirt would be donned by our peaceful little Xian a year and a half later?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rockin the Tutu

I have just recently discovered the joys (and frustrations) of Photoshop. It truly is an amazing program that you can do just about anything with; however, I am completely and utterly in the dark when it comes to actually creating anything fabulous with it. My first (and only) project so far has been to create a thank you card. I believe it came out. . .OK. . .not spectacular. Which is why I was completely blown away when I received this photo. . .

Seriously, does this get any cuter? My friend, Allison, has been my mentor of sorts-giving me tips as she fights through the frustration that is Photoshop. Tutorials are shared, and the latest of her battles (which I'd say she won) was the photo above of Sage, rockin her hot pink tutu. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tic Toc

Here we are, cruising into the last week of April. Tic toc. This time of year is often accompanied by tired, yet smiling faces. The descent towards the end of the school year is on. Tic toc. Conversations stray from weekend plans to summer adventures. Books are flagged for the famous summer reading list. Dreams of outings under long summer days creep into the busiest of times.

tic toc

This year is different. Put the brakes on! The ticking repeats with an urgency. We need this time. It must slow. tic toc Bureaucracy tugs at our sleeves. Our two girls, constantly in our minds, have been with us for almost seven and four months. tic toc. Paperwork abounds. Rules - to keep everyone safer - form a tunnel with little light. June 11. tic toc On this day we hope to all board a plane for Portland. It has been almost two years since we left. The girls need passports. tic toc. The US government believes that it is in everyone's best interest to require a visa for them to enter the country. tic toc The Taiwanese government  demands registration of the girls. But, we can't do it. We're not Taiwanese. tic toc Time is going by too fast. Will we get on the plane? All of us? On June 11?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tutus for Two

One of the things that absolutely stumps me about my girls is any time they are dressed in super duper cute outfits and I'm all ready to get photos taken, they are as grumpy as all get out. Picture day is always ruined and I am left wondering why I tried in the first place. Today began like any other picture day. The girls were rockin their party clothes. The intention was we would get photos, then run along to a baby shower in our honor, as well as two other soon to be parents. Well the one thing I've learned in my short time as a parent is that I can make plans but the babies typically have their own agenda that have nothing to do with my plans. So, today was that day. Following a quite successful fun filled Saturday, XO woke grumpy and clingy. I couldn't put her down. As soon as her feet touched the ground, she would raise her arms and begin to cry as she lunged in my direction. With three cat naps before noon, I was dreading the afternoon. These are the days where I desperately miss our parents being here to help out.
One o'clock rolled around and both girls finally decided they were tired and would take more than the obligatory 30 minute nap. All was quiet on the home front. Problem was our shower began at 2. So, girls were woken, clothes were half-hazardly changed and we were off!
The shower turned out to be a huge success. Sugar and Spice and everything nice turned out to be EXACTLY what little girls are made of. The girls decided to put the morning behind them, and have a great time.
Party Time!!

The time was spent with their buddy, Tegan, new friend Mikayla finally made an appearance, and XO had a nice time being read to by Ella who was a bit overly zealous with her affections towards XO.
Ella and Jen

 What more could two babies ask for? And for the parents? Well, chocolate dipped cookie dough, croissants, and cookies were all up for grabs (grab them I did). Extra hands were available to help with the wee ones and Frank and I had a much needed break from holding babies. Oh and when asked, why the tutus, I answered: why not? It is a party isn't it and every girl needs a tutu. . . or 4
XO already has a love for reading

Sage LOVES being thrown in the air by Mommy!

Finally, family photo, Daddy has his hands full.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Early Bird for Breakfast

This morning we grabbed the girls, a bit of courage, food and diapers to head out for breakfast. We were early birds at the Early Bird - trying to get in before the weekend rush. The girls woke up a bit too early this morning and Xian decided to take a nap around 7:30 but we still got out of the door at a decent time, were awarded with princess parking in front of the diner and almost had the place to ourselves. The girls enjoyed the scenery and a late reward was the arrival of buddy Tegan to say hello.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Motion Machine

Like a wind-up toy, Sage is a ball of energy that goes, goes, goes until she crashes. She loves any type of motion and is rarely still. After weeks of trying, she finally managed to roll from her back to her belly. Oh is this house happy. The cries of frustration were almost painful as she pushed and pushed against an unwanted arm. I think she would have signed up to remove the arm at one point in order for her to complete the roll. Now, she is quite content rolling back and forth.

Yesterday was also a package day. Packages are always great but when living the expat life, packages are fantastic. Even when we know a package is one its way, the arrival date is unknown. Will it take two weeks to get here? 3 weeks? Months? Will customs stop it? So, when a package shows up we get super excited. This time, Grandma's package voyaged across the Pacific with awesome loot for us (chocolate) and fun things for the girls. Thanks! The current highlight is a jump-up. Sage went into it tonight and zipped around in circles between breaks to munch on the frame. She loved the motion and possibly the taste.

In the center frame, we watched Sage grab a floor blanket and begin rolling. We can't let this one out of our sight! In moments she wrapped herself up.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Girl is Ours. . .

Six months, 15 days ago we brought home our little angel. We were in a state of shock as we left the clinic where she was born, knowing that our hopes of becoming parents just came true. Today we celebrate an event that secures our place as Xian’s legal parents. No longer is Xian just a child of our heart, she is also our legal daughter.

That’s right, XO’s adoption is finally finalized!! 

No more fear of her birth mother changing her mind, no more fear of the courts saying they won’t let us keep her. It’s OVER, DONE, KAPOOT! Now, the process begins of getting Xian registered, a passport, then a Visa and ultimately, a summer time flight to the States to meet our extended family.

Just over six months ago, the first toast was made with the hope of finishing the adoption process in four to six months. It went the full distance but Xian is through the system. On to the second toast...

1 more to go.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


At this time last year conversations surrounding diapers were already quite common in our house. Diapers represented a future promise. The Velcro and snaps would fit snugly around a giggling baby. Awesome designs would be shown off as little girls crawled around the house.

Krista did an amazing job tracking down various types of diapers, weighing the pros and cons and collecting an assortment of colors and designs. Soon, the diapers began showing up in large boxes with her name attached. Babies were on the horizon!

Diaper Pile
Today, diapers remain a focal point of our household though most conversations revolve around additional loads of laundry. We do have two beautiful, giggling (before the diaper goes on) babies to fit into the diapers and the extra loads of laundry have almost become habit.

In addition to being well-washed, the diapers are becoming quite accustomed to traveling back and forth from school. A huge sack holds the supply for a few days and each day we return home ones needing a cleaning. This morning, we arrived at school to drop the girls off and Krista turned to me to ask if I had packed the diaper bag. Oops. I managed to carry it down the stairs but somewhere in the process of putting on my shoes I got sidetracked and forgot to put the bag into the car.

No diapers.

My gut reaction was to race back home (20 minutes away) and collect the bag though we barely had time to get to work. Fortunately, Krista's planning came to the rescue. A few disposables were stashed in the car to get the girls through the day. Saved!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Daily Report: a little cloudy...

Each day when we pick up the girls from school, we are given a report of the day.

We don't read Chinese. Yesterday, we were given the report and noticed that both girls had the circle indicating cloudy (top right) marked on their papers. Well, the weekend had been a rough one. Xian reacted to her latest round of shots and Sage is adjusting to time away from home. Neither girl slept well so a cloudy disposition seemed understandable for a Monday back to school.

Today's general conversation as we picked them up:
"How did the day go for the girls?"

"It was a good day."

"Were they upset and cried like yesterday?"

Surprised looks were given as the principal translated. "No," she replied, "the girls were fine. Why do you think they cried yesterday?"

"We looked on the report and the disposition of both girls was cloudy so we thought that they might have cried."

More confused looks...

"You know. On your form there is a sun shine, clouds and rain."

"Oh. That's just the weather. Yesterday was cloudy."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Co-sleeper no more

The sleeping arrangement above is retired! Several weeks ago, in an attempt to improve the quality of sleep of Krista and Sage, we pulled off one side of Sage's crib and pushed our bed flush against it to create a co-sleeper. Old kayaking straps were brought out of retirement to reinforce the structure and Sage began to peacefully sleep through the night (well, she slept better and Krista actually began to feel rested). With surprising speed, Sage settled into her crib and last night we put the fourth side of the crib back on.

The girls had their evening bath and Sage went directly to sleep in her own crib. Congratulations!
Deciding the fate of the duck

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday at the Park

In need of a relaxing weekend but thinking that the girls should not associate every car ride with school, we took a trip to the park this morning. With the effects from Xian's shots earlier in the week beginning to set in, we enjoyed a bit of calm as the day began.

Girls on a Blanket
Check out the mane on that dog!

Xian & Audrey

Wait a second - that's better!

Friday, April 13, 2012

First week down

We made it! Up and at 'em mornings, long days at school and rushed evenings to beat the sleep monster were the norm this week. The girls finished their first full week of going to "school" each day and it can be called a general success. Loaded into their double-long, they seemed ready for each day. Xian often smiled and giggled as we reached school though Sage is still somewhat indifferent. In the afternoons, we were often met by smiles as the girls were excited to see us, or so we believe!

Xian celebrated tonight by performing her first roll from her back to her stomach. We have never seen her try to do this but we watched her roll to her sister with little effort.

Krista & the girls

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rainbow Family Village

While my parents were visiting, we took the opportunity to check out the Rainbow Family Village in Taichung. The term village seems to be a bit of a misnomer but rainbow it is indeed. Once a few rows of military housing, colors now spring out in a beautiful and strange assortment of designs. A few photos...

a park is located adjacent to the village

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moving up the scale

This week continues to be a busy one. After picking the girls up from school, we continued on to the doctor's office. Yep, another month has passed by. This time, Xian drew the straw for the big-scary-needle-poke-me-in-the-leg. Not once but twice.

Both girls are putting on weight (yay!) and appear to be healthy. Xian, at over 1/2 of a year, tipped the scales at 16 lbs.

Our little peanut six months ago...

Despite her continued aptitude for spitting up her food, Sage is now up to 11 & 1/2 lbs.
Back when she was 4 -
days old

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dump Trucks & Passion Flowers

The school that we teach at is located on a tiny road that winds along a river into an area known as the Dakeng Scenic Area. At times, I think that some of the more dangerous driving situations we've come across in Taiwan happen along this road. It's narrow, has ditches and walls on its side and the locals drive up and down it as if in the Grand Prix. Today, we rounded a bend to find a dump truck barreling up hill. Driving rule of Taiwan: MIGHT is right. The guy was not slowing down as I quickly reversed, changed direction and headed up a narrow driveway. A horrible crunching sound accompanied the rumble of the truck as it continued on its path. Somehow, the Freeca managed to move two large rocks and successfully wedge one underneath the car (so much for clearance). Fortunately, some kind souls exist in the world and a few parents stopped to help out. A tire jack balanced on a stack of bricks raised the car enough to work the rock out. Thanks to our helpers!

We then raced to pick up the girls and get back home for our evening walk. Xian has now graduated to the back position of Krista's carrier. She seems to enjoy the new view.

Along one of our afternoon routes, we had noticed vines growing along a fence. Interesting looking blooms began to form and finally gorgeous flowers popped out.

Passion Flower - soon to be a yummy passion fruit?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Paradise Bound

Turning her head in our direction, Xian recognized that it was us walking into the room and melted our hearts with a beautiful smile, giggle and patented arm flap .She was lying down holding a toy above her head playing with her "teacher" while Sage peacefully slept beside them. Today was the first full day that Sage and Xian were away from home. The past three and a half months included visits by grandparents and our two week Spring Break. A different reality is setting in as we work out taking our girls to daycare/Chinese school.

Today began with a 4:30 am wake-up ring. I rolled out of bed, managed to find some running clothes and stumbled outside for a quick run with Audrey. Returning, I woke Krista and we were lucky to have a few moments together to enjoy a cup of coffee and quick breakfast before we had to start getting the girls moving. Diapers, bottles and clothes for both girls while Xian had a double breakfast of formula followed by oats. Whew! Finally we were ready to load up the car and take off towards town to Paradise, their new school.

the outside of Paradise - an art / music school
At the moment, the situation is pretty nice. Xian and Sage are the only two in the baby school and have a wonderful, caring teacher. She only speaks Chinese so they are getting exposed to the language. Xian seems to love going and has been happy each time we visit (we practiced short time periods last week) while Sage is adjusting.

Rolling into school

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I like my new bunny suit, when I wear it I look cute. . .

Happy Easter everyone!

**This bunny suit was Xian's Halloween costume when she was 3 weeks old. Now, almost six months later, it finally fits! WOOHOO, Xian is now the size of a 0-3 month old. . . cheeks aside. . . 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Triple long rocking horse

To our girls, this horse may currently seem like the Trojan Horse rolling up to the walls of the city. It's huge. Krista sits on it with both girls and there is room to spare. This horse is the kind of piece that will make us get a container to ship stuff next time we move!

A new furniture shop opened up near us that is pretty cool. Not knowing what was being constructed, we watched a huge open space take shape. We speculated multiple possibilities but not a furniture store like this one. The back section contains massive rough cut pieces of wood to be carved into pieces in the open studio on the west side of the building. Walking through the space provides much eye candy as the works are unique and beautiful.

The girls love their rocking horse. They stand and grab the handles and enjoy the ride as we rock away.

ps - Thanks Ole Far & Grandmere for the awesome gift

Friday, April 6, 2012

Qingming (Tomb Sweeping) Day

Wednesday was a holiday here known as Qingming, which is comprised of two parts: tomb sweeping/cleaning and a spring outing. A mixture of sadness, as one remembers those who have passed, and happiness in the joy of spring brings the day together.

We live near a cemetery and for the last few weeks the tombs have been cleaned of weed and other debris. Wednesday found many cars lining the road alongside the cemetery as people drove up to pay their respects. In Taiwan, the burning of paper money occurs on many instances. Last year, when Krista was in China, she found that the burning of the money was highly discouraged due to environmental reasons. No so here. Burn, money, burn.

We live on a tiny little street and it is common on festival days to have garages open and small burn barrels wheeled out. People build a fire and begin shoveling wads of paper money into the burner. It's great for the lungs.

The backdrop of a cleaned up tomb area.

In addition to burning paper money, the recently cleaned tombs are also adorned with lots and lots of paper. The yellow in the photo below is paper money held down by a rock or other object. As the wind begins to blow the sky fills with the paper as it scatters and eventually lodges in cracks or finds its way to the river.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garage tailgating

Going out to eat appears to be an event of the past; something that we remember fondly and think of the days in the future when we again find ourselves seated inside an eating establishment. For now, take out serves several purposes:
1. We don't have to cook.
2. We don't have to clean.
3. Picking up the food gives us the opportunity to have the all calming car ride.

On this occasion, we drove to Paleo's - the local pizzeria - which is a short ride away. The beginning of the ride  treated our ears to a stereo effect of multiple octaves. Car rides are fun but getting into car seats is a bummer. Krista escaped for a few moments as she picked up the pizzas but several moments into the return trip found both girls asleep. When we arrived at home, they were still snoozing away.

What to do? We didn't want to wake them up and leaving them in the garage is probably not the best idea (at least we've been told) so we tailgated. In fact, we almost got through the entire pizza before Sage decided to join the party.

the girls' heads peek over the seat as Krista tailgates on the Freeca in the garage