Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daddy's Day!

What a great day with my amazing wife and two super-special girls! Old man weather held off on the yuck and treated us to a beautiful day out in Portland. We got it kicked off with a quick breakfast picnic on the SES playground. Why there? Have we mentioned the lack of good coffee in Taiwan? When Starbucks is considered tasty you're in trouble. Stumptown is located just on the corner of 34th and Belmont so we grabbed a couple of coffees and bagels (also an important food group missing from our Asian diet) and stretched out on the grass...

Sage keeps her eyes on things while Xian practices her new talent of teeth (there are 2!) brushing

We then headed across the Willamette River to check out the Saturday Market. The Pride Parade was taking place so the riverfront was bustling with people.

Xian helps Mom shop

Bishops' float in the parade

We walked back to the car along the river. Here, Krista and Xian pose with the Hawthorne (my favorite) Bridge in the background

With energy running low, we headed back to the east-side to another favorite spot for lunch. Por Que No! Xian quickly passed out, but Sage loudly voiced the need to try a little avocado. Her reasoning was sound. The translation to the boss (Mom) ran along the lines that it was sister's first food so she should be able to have some. Her petition for chips to go along with the taster fell flat.

It was quite the day and we eventually made it back out to Great-Grammy's house in time for dinner and bed. It was so wonderful to spend a day roaming around Portland.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


We have our favorite Portland stops. First up was Laughing Planet for a couple of burritos. This trip gave us opportunity to walk through the Sunnyside neighborhood of SE Portland. As it turns out, SES - my former school - was wrapping up the 8th grade promotion ceremony. It's a beautiful occasion that honors the students for their achievements as they pack up and head to high school. For me, simply being around the community and seeing the gardens of SES made me feel as if had truly come home. One of the things I miss the most while living in Taiwan is the strong sense of community that occurs when teachers, students, parents and neighbors work together for a common goal of making each person and our environment better.

Another night, we wandered over to Hopworks (or HUB), which is a brewpub. In addition to great brews, this place has a dining  section for small children. In the past, we groaned if placed in this area. Oh, the noise. Oh, the chaos. This time, we were excited to join the buzz.

Xian sitting at the table hoping to steal Mom's IPA

Monday, June 18, 2012

Country Living

Krista's grandmother lives a quick half-hour from Portland. Exiting I-84 takes you away from the Columbia River and into rolling hills. Small roads wind back on each other, dip into ravines and offer amazing views. Horses and cows graze, strawberry farms announce their seasonal crop and a multitude of nurseries offer trees of different heights. After a few turns, we finally make a left onto a tiny gravel road and make our way to Xian's and Sage's great-grandmother's house. Xian's eyes were wide as we traveled along the roads. So much more space exists in comparison to the dense foliage of Taiwan. Over the first few days, the girls were able to sit in lush grass on the edge of nurseries...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Radio Flyer

Sage decided one of her first "I-can-sit-all-by-myself" feats would be in style...

Airport Hospitality

Our trip to the States was the first with children and we were surprised from time to time with our treatment. In Japan, as soon as the girls on our backs were spotted, we were raced to the front of long lines and sent through special lines as we navigated security measures. It was quite nice as the girls get a wee bit impatient standing in line. This also gave us time to find the "play room" and let the girls crawl around.

Unfortunately, the tables turned upon arrival into the US. The small gestures provided to us in Taiwan and Japan were history as we waited in the back of the line to get our almost-melting girls through passport control. No big deal - we don't expect special treatment. But then, we got to passport control and 20 questions began. He didn't like some of our answers and definitely didn't like that the adoption papers were in Chinese. The freshly stamped US Visa in the girls' passports did little to help. How did he know if it all wasn't faked? Fortunately, his supervisor finally came over and allowed us to enter under the visa classification provided in their passports.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Class V Trip

Many outdoor sports have one thing in common: when you are committed, you are committed. This could mean that once your boat hits the water, you are on the water until you get through the rapids and reach the take-out. When hiking, if you get to the halfway point, there is only one way back. When climbing, once you're on the wall you better keep moving. Over the last few days we came across the parent equivalent of an adventure: airplane travel.

The car to take us to the airport arrived a bit on the early side at 3:30 Monday morning (Taiwan time). Xian and Sage were shuttled into their car seats for the 2-hour ride. Sage quickly snuggled into sleep while Xian sensed that an adventure was afoot. Her eyes popped open and remained. Our goal was to get to the airport early enough to get bassinet seats assigned to us for our flights to Portland. From Taiwan to Tokyo, we obtained bassinet seats only to find out that there were no bassinets on the plane (was it too short of a flight?). Unfortunately, we could not get the bassinet seats for the Tokyo-Portland flight. The layover in Tokyo was short but the girls got some time to roll around and play before we were back on the long, 9-hour flight. Sage must love the hum of the airplane's engines as she continued her pattern of eat-play for 20 minutes-sleep. Xian was in party mode. The people stimulated her. The lights, which never shut off on the plane, stimulated her. The beverage cart which zoomed by each time she calmed down, stimulated her. In short, everything stimulated her as she passed 5, 10, 15 hours without sleep. In hyper mode, she quickly began rotating between earsplitting shrieks of pleasure(?), crawls over her mom, hysterical screaming and short moments of zoning out. We were committed and there was no escape button.

We are now at great-grammy's house trying to get used to the time zone. Both girls developed their first colds of the year during the last week of school and are struggling with breathing as they decide to occasionally nap. Photos once we get adjusted...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The final toast

The checklist

  • Babies x2
  • Adoption x2
  • Passports x2
  • Visas x2
  • Plane Tickets x4
  • School year x1
  • Toasting bottle of Macvin
  • Black as Chocolate cake - it's mango season!
  • Babies asleep x2

Dancing & Cups

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happy 1 month

Tradition in Taiwan dictates that when one's baby turns one month old, the parents must present others with a gift. If the said infant is a girl, cookies/cakes are given; a boy, sticky rice. Two Taiwanese coworkers' baby boys just turned one month. This cause for celebration was announced in the form of a special meal. Sticky rice is commonly given during Chinese New Year, weddings, as well as the one month birthday of baby boys. The rice is cooked for 13+ hours and is considered quite a delicacy. We were lucky enough to receive not one, but two boxes of sticky rice to celebrate two of our coworkers' baby boys' one month birthdays. We say both "Congratulations" and "Thanks"!

An aspiring crawler

The bathing beauty pose...Xian stops mid-crawl attempt in her rest position. Does she believe herself to be sitting? Do the few moments in this pose recharge her batteries? Who knows but it is a common sight around our home. Xian just passed the 8 month mark and is working on all sorts of things. It might be said that she would be better off focusing on one item but she wouldn't listen. She is go-go-go. Each day, her version of crawling gets closer and closer to the real thing. She attempts to sit - an extension of the bathing beauty. She is a socialite - the principal of her school recently dubbed her Ms. Popular.

But, the increased activity comes with increased tumbles.

Xian is also beginning to cut her teeth. One of the front-bottoms is cut through and we hope she finishes the second by Monday's plane ride!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

5 months

On January 3, 2012, Krista stood in the birthing room as Sage was born. Five months later, she is legally adopted and ready to begin international travel. Time since January is blurry and separated by the time we had parents visiting (three months) and the past two months where we managed the two girls on our own. Sage is the youngest girl at school and is beginning to piece together parts of this world. She knows that her sister does not like being kicked - so she kicks her. She knows that Audrey likes to lick her if given the chance - so she opens her mouth whenever Audrey is near for a big kiss (?). She knows her parents hate having their clothes saturated by goat milk - so she spits up on us at each opportunity.

Sage is also keeping herself busy by

  • hanging out in push-up position. Her record is a two-book session without moving from this pose.
  • trying to sit up on her own 
  • making new sounds and she has the pipes to make herself heard
  • standing - she can hold onto a crib railing and balance by herself for a few moments. Yikes!
  • picking up objects though still lacking some coordination 
  • giggling 
  • toying with the idea of developing a social side. She now smiles and gets excited when we pick her up in the afternoon and is beginning to engage with others as well.