Thursday, September 27, 2012

Soccer Tourney

Last weekend, I traveled with a bunch of high school girls and boys to the Kaohsiung American School (KAS). The day dawned early with a bus departure time just after six in the morning. There were two girls' volleyball teams and the high school soccer team that I coach on the bus. Groggy players plugged into music devices and tried to get some sleep during the ride that lasted a bit more than two hours. Kaohsiung, the second largest city in Taiwan, is located to the south of Taichung. This trip marked the first time that I have actually stopped here. Typically, we drive past on our way to Kenting, which is located on the southern tip of the island.

2011 Thanksgiving Trip to Kenting w/ Xian
KAS had a nice energy about it as volleyball and soccer games constantly played. My focus shifted to the soccer field located in the middle of a short track. The field was small and synthetic but made for a nice flat surface for the guys to play upon.

The day quickly heated up and players began to wilt a bit under the sun. Fortunately, short matches allowed students to get some water and rest throughout the day. Record wise we did not have that great of a showing but the players did well and began to pass the ball around a bit.

During lunch time, another coach and I took a little walk and stumbled upon this nice gate entrance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Are oats healthy?

The man from Quaker Oats definitely wants us to believe that his oats are good for us and
"can help reduce cholesterol" but it seems as if someone in the Taiwanese government (or Costco Taiwan) disagrees. Several trips to Costco over the past few years have found us staring at a pallet of mondo-Quaker Oat containers.

Each container is marked up like the one above.Each reference to a healthy heart or reducing cholesterol is marked out. What a job! I wonder what Quaker thinks...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kissing Mommy

Sage seems to be having a difficult time deciding whether or not to kiss Mom on the knee or clamp down hard. Shrieks of pain often echo though the stair well as Sage clamps down hard on Krista's knee. Xian, whose mouth may be too small to get a good bite in, surprises Mom in a different way. With a quick shift, Xian's cheek turns into a wet tongue. Yuck!

This photo captured a rare occasion as Xian moved out of this kissing phase rather quickly. She now wants to share whatever she is holding. Over and over and over...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Play Date

The past week flew by on the wings of Pegasus as soccer season rolled into high gear and the established weekly routine found us jumping through the process. As such, the exciting part of last weekend never found an outlet. On Sunday, we hosted our first babies-all-over-the-place play date. Two of XO's friends (born within three weeks of each other) and an new neighbor (3 months older than XO) joined Xian and Sage at our house for a few hours of play.

It took some time for the girls to get warmed up but after a while blocks scattered across the floor, balls rolled, flashed and made sounds and books were read.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Done with the Lottery

Taiwan has several different lottery systems, none of which I actually know anything about. However, I've paid attention to the all-around free lottery. Each time a receipt is provided at a store, a lottery number is printed at the top.
Here are three different receipts. We have lots and lots from 7-11. Just under the big 7-ELEVEN, is a number. That's the lottery number. Above the 7-ELEVEN, the month (03-04) is listed. These two pieces of information allow anyone with a receipt to potentially win a cash prize! Oh, what the lure.

I've seen somewhere that the reason for this lottery system is to keep stores honest. Customers want the chance to win so they expect a receipt. This way, the government feels more secure that cash flow is going through the register and into tax coffers instead of under tables and into pockets. (Don't quote me though...)

The system runs on a revolving two month check-in. In this case, both March and April join for possible winners. Winning numbers come out around the 25th of the month after the window closes (i.e. May) To check, I've gone to this TEALIT webpage.

There lies the problem. I still have mounds of March/April tickets lying around. I'm done with the clutter. I'm done with the lottery. Have I ever won? Nope. Did I mention that I'm done. Good luck to the rest of you!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers

Our journey to become parents was filled with ups and down. Joyous almosts, and devastating disappointments. Today we look back on the experience and can simply say, “We were lucky, we ARE lucky!” We have two beautiful baby girls who never cease to bring smiles to our faces, warm our hearts, and keep us constantly on our toes. Sleep?  Nah, that’s a thing of the past and something I gladly will relinquish to continue this beautiful experience that began 11.5 months ago.

In preparation for becoming parents, Frank and I decided we would purchase and save a bottle of wine we so dearly love. The summer before parenthood, we traveled to France and brought back with us a bottle of Mac Vin. If you have not tasted this little bit of yumminess, trust me when I say it is truly fabulous. So, bottle of wine in our bag (no Mr. Customs officer, we are not carrying alcohol) we returned to Taiwan.

When Xian was brought home, we opened our bottle of Mac Vin and shared a Skype toast with Frank’s parents in France. When Sage was brought home, we shared an in-person toast with my mother. Upon the conclusion of both girls’ adoptions-7 months later, we finished the bottle. Let’s just say we grew quite attached to the bottle. I didn’t want to throw it out and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Then, I found out some people compress bottles down and convert them into cheese trays. What a wonderful idea! I found a lady on etsy who was up for the task. Sherry at Collectivekayos said she could add a nice piece of writing to the label as well.


Finally, our bottle was returned to us. . but wait, it didn’t quite look the same. Sherry had taken our original bottle, with the original label and made us a wall hanging, in addition to the cheese tray that read McGowan 2012. 

Below you will see the note she enclosed. Now, we have a cheese tray AND a beautiful wall hanging to remember the moment when our family was finally complete. The kindness of Sherry at CollectiveKayos was unexpected and definitely appreciated. Thanks Sherry!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Steps

That’s right, she’s gone and done it! XO has officially taken her first steps. Frank and I were discussing our day as Xian stood next to me with her hand on my knee. All of a sudden, Frank and I realized that she had crossed a three foot section and was holding on to Frank’s knee. There was only one explanation for the sudden appearance of Xian, she had to have walked there. XO looked up at us, smiled her big cheesy grin and clapped. Then, she got down on her knees, crawled over to me, stood, released her hands from my knees, took a step forward and. . .slowly fell to her knees, only to repeat the motion a half a dozen more times (of course there was a remote control involved that she desperately wanted. Keep away is a great game for parents!) Each time she did so, Xian looked at us and made sure we were watching her take a step before she would calmly lower herself to her knees and repeat.

Now, Xian is not running around the house, nor is she lacking control as she navigates through this new found experience of walking. With typical Xian fashion, she just does. She moves a foot forward, slowly lowers herself to the ground and then does it again and again and again. The experience in and of itself is rewarding and appears to keep her quite entertained. Xian focuses, makes sure she has our attention, and goes along as if she is an old pro. The days of falling out of control are behind her. Smiles rule and a captive audience is all she appears to desire.

On another note, we have a sprinter in the house. Perhaps not so exciting, but definitely entertaining. Sage grabs ahold of anything with wheels, holds on and runs. She will run from one end of the room to another. With greatly speedy speed, she covers massive amounts of ground very quickly. Will we hear the pitter patter of four little feet soon? Only time will tell. . .

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Playing with blocks

Each day they play a bit more with each other. It is so exciting!

It is also fun to watch the new interest in placing objects instead of knocking everything over.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rocking the hair-do

In Xian's wee early days, we wondered what her hair would end up doing. A tuft of hair sprang out from her forehead but the rest lagged behind.

Fast forward a few months and she now rocks it straight out of bed in the morning.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Family Meals

At times during this roller coaster ride that we are on, one of us has lamented the fact that we ditched all of our belongings before leaving for Taiwan. That freedom from stuff, the leap into the unknown without things, hit reality as we realized that we need to live in Taiwan and started to again accumulate items necessary to live. Then, two amazing girls popped into our lives and a few more things appeared. Fear not, I try to ditch stuff every time Krista turns her back. We decided to slowly acquire certain items that are corner pieces to our adventure. What will we remember from Taiwan? The start of our family.

Before summer break, we purchased a table for our kitchen and are just getting to the point where we all sit down for meals. School nights are a mad rush but we are finding ways to set the foundation of family meals. 

The girls' range of food items is rapidly expanding so they can often eat the same as us. The small, square table is nice because we can get quite cozy as we eat and feed the girls. Audrey hangs out to pick up food that makes it her way. Though they are eating similar foods, the technique of the two girls is quite different...

Pouch-diving is becoming a popular end-of-the-meal sport as Xian fishes for any items that didn't quite make it down the hatch.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Heading over the hill

A little less than a year ago, I held a tiny little Xian and sent Krista out to the Feng Jia market to celebrate her birthday. She embarked on a market excursion to embrace Taiwanese fashion. A few weeks later Sage came along and we haven't headed out too much at all. For my birthday, Krista secretly arranged for babysitters (thanks Beth & Courtney!) to come over after we tucked the girls to sleep on Saturday night. They arrived to blood curdling screams from the baby room. The girls likely sensed a change in our nightly behavior and put on a show. They are usually as quiet as can be by 7:00 pm but not this night. Fortunately, they calmed down and we hopped on the scooter for a ride to town and the Feng Jia night market.

We opted for a mango treat instead of bloody cake.
The next morning, Krista treated me to extra sleep as Sage loudly welcomed in a new day. When her yelps finally succeeded in waking up the rest of the house she decided to go back to bed. After Xian followed suit, I took the opportunity to get back on the bike and headed out for a tour of the Dakeng Scenic area located behind our house. Then, we were off to breakfast at the Early Bird.

All in all a great day - thanks for the birthday wishes!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Who would have known that a hunk of plastic with wheels could be so much fun?

The pharmacy where we buy the girls' formula receives promo gifts from the formula company and the sweet, old lady who owns the place excitedly passes gifts on to us. It's often a time commitment as she heads into the mysterious back area to pull out the monthly treat. Saying no is not an option. This month, the box required both of Krista's arms as she exited the store. Will the girls like it? Oh yeah, and a bit more. This thing is a favorite and they crawl all over it until one of us decides to give them a proper train ride around the living room.

***Oh and Mom is completely tired of the darling little choo choo. Xian has discovered that the brightly colored buttons play a collage of all sorts of truly "fabulous" nursery rhymes. Intently Xian plays until a song stops. She ceases any and all activity until she calmly and collectedly finds the button and pushes it again. Only then is playing commenced. My evening was filled with "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" until Frank got home and the train was all but forgotten. I'm thinking some batteries need to be pulled. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bath time!

Evenings around our house are often a nice time as the kids wind down from the day. A typical weekday finds us getting home for a play session, which is followed by dinner. Meals slowly stretch out as the girls eat more and we often are able to clean up as the girls play in the kitchen. Then, upstairs to the playroom for another play session and reading before the bath.

Fun in the mirror

When the bath is ready, we let the girls know and they come running.

Finally, they are ready to hop in but just need a little help over the edge.

After the bath, a wrestling match to get the girls back into diapers and pjs takes place and then they are whisked upstairs for a final bottle and bed. Whew, a bit of down time for Mom & Dad...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

In a month, the big 1

Here we are at 11 months. Wow! This year has been an amazing one. Each day the girls get more fun to be around and we are enjoying simply spending time with them.

Wearing a tutu - the way Mommy likes it and the way Daddy thinks it should be worn.

Xian is enjoying life these days. She's happy most of the time and speaks more and more of her mind. We're eagerly waiting for definite words. Sharing has become a favorite activity as she smiles and gives one of us whatever she happens to be holding. She then laughs and laughs as we give it back.

Her appetite has grown considerably and vegetables hold the top spot. She can pack away carrots and pureed greens like crazy. Movement is also important and she is rarely in one place. Though not showing much desire to walk, she experiments with balance, especially when a song starts to play and she wants to dance!

Tonight, we celebrated with the girls by going out to eat before a "late" night doctor's appointment.
Xian's post dinner weigh-in was at 9 kg (~ 20 lbs).

Shabu Shabu

Monday, September 3, 2012

I want to walk! (says the 8-month old)

I want to walk!
I want to walk!
I want to walk!

That pretty much sums up Sage these days. Excitement rules her day as her abilities to get around rapidly increase.

A few days ago she began pulling up onto couches and tables and now she is walking around tables. Her gollum-like crawling technique is quite comical though it allows her the ability to quickly stand once she reaches a destination.

Her fine motor skills are also rapidly getting up to snuff and she is able to feed herself many items. She loves it and from time to time will not even take food from a spoon. This week she found out that bagels and chicken exist in the world and would like to feed her sister all of the greens so that she has room for more meat and carbs.

Not all is smiles though as she cuts teeth with the same speed she moves around play areas. It seems that she is lapping Xian and getting nos. 5 and 6 before big sister. A constant cold (or is it the teeth) brings a steady supply of yuck from her nose. Vocally, she is as loud as her personality. The walls ring...

Happy 8 Months - We love you!

Weigh-in Update: 7.3 kg (16 lbs) on 9/4

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We have a biter!

Sage's mouth is rapidly filling with teeth and she continues to seek new ways to use this new, razor sharp equipment. By far, the most common use is as a climbing aid. She clamps her mouth down on tables, chairs or other objects and tries to use this leverage to pull up. This technique is rarely successful.

After using teeth as a climbing device, the next best option has to be chewing on someone else. Toes are tasty but the biggest response came when she clamped down on Xian's arm.