Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer is done

The travels are finished. The summer crushes put away with hopes of future reunions.

The girls returned to school this morning. It was a half-day for them but we did a run through of the morning routine and all went well. The last week has made us wish that summer would just extend forever. It has been incredibly fun with the girls. Bring on the jet-lag! Whether due to time changes or other circumstances, the girls' sleep schedule has been spot on. Long nights and naps makes for happy, playful girls. We spent the last week chasing Xian around, cheering on Sage as she pushes up to sitting from her tummy, and laughing at meal times. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Blueberry Pancakes

Krista flipped some pancakes at us for breakfast the other morning and the girls loved them. Xian gets a mound of pieces in front of her as she is quite adept at feeding herself. Sage is still working on getting food to her mouth so was getting pieces one by one. Often, when eating, Sage can get quite distracted and her sister is often a good source of entertainment.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hovander Park (7.12.12)

Today, I sit in the shade of a beautiful, old tree settled in the grass of Hovander Park. The girls are with me though Krista is off running errands with Grandma. The girls are content. Each has a long-stemmed leaf culled from the grassy floor that they are covering in a thick layer of saliva. Wind rustles the leaves overhead while tractors rumble in the distance.

Fields of Hovander

Our calmness has lured a group of chattering, tiny black birds into our area. The girls stare in amazement as if processing this new language. Xian bounces up and down; Sage begins to eat a leaf.

Grassy lawns are rare in Taiwan and we purposefully left the picnic blanket in the car so that we could sit directly in the grass. The birds flit by a little closer. Xian stares intently at a pair of men sitting on a nearby picnic bench. They speak another language. Russian?

A turkey at the farm animal area

The girls face east where Mt. Baker rises majestically in the distance. Do they see this mountain? What do they make of the scenery, which is so different from Taiwan?

After 30 minutes of content sitting and sliming leaves, Xian finally decides to begin moving. My notebook is her object of interest but she is easily distracted by others in the distance. Sage, who now sits for long periods, blows bubbles until a froth pours down her chin. She gets upset as I pull a leaf out of her mouth. She finally topples but takes the opportunity to begin her yoga routine. Popping up on all fours, she quickly moves through a series of cat-cows before working on her plank and downward dog. Should a baby do this before crawling?

Enjoying leaves

Xian ventures over to my discarded running shoes and socks. The jog when we arrived at the park left them sweaty, and according to the look on her face and quick loss of interest, quite stinky.

Finally, it's time for a snack before we return to meet Mom. Sweet potato puffs are brought out for the girls' enjoyment. Their eating fashions are quite different. Xian employs a precise thumb and fore finger method to quickly get as many into her mouth as possible. Sage eagerly waits for the next step in depth perception to click into place. In the meantime, she goes for the monster grab approach. Hands wide, she attacks the blanket hoping to pick up as many as possible. She then slams her hand against her mouth hoping to deposit a few goodies into her mouth. Her success rate is quite low so Dad often needs to help guide the treats home.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jim Bob!

The Farmers' Market of Hood River swarmed with them. Big wheels switched between asphalt and grass with ease. Suspension systems kept babies sleeping. The "dualies" transported two kiddos at the same time. Certain ones could even turn on a dime. The only remaining question was whether or not we would join the BOB-pushing contingency. We stewed on the idea and it slowly garnered support. By the time we reached Bellingham, via a several day detour on the Hood Canal, Krista bargained a lifetime of running if BOB joined our quiver of baby carriers. How could I resist? When in America...

Xian gives us an OK after the safety check and we're good to go!

Krista cruises as the girls rest in their comfy seats.
We quickly went through one model. Our original purpose was the jogging model which comes with a hand brake which held the allure of safely navigating Taiwan's steep hills. However, the front wheel is fixed on this model. After a few struggles with the fixed front wheel, Billy Bob (as this one was dubbed) was traded in for Jim Bob; this model allows the front wheel to fully rotate though does not have a hand brake. A few runs back in Taichung with Jim Bob have already been enjoyable.

Teeth & Mobility (Xian turns 9 months)

**ok, ok, this one is a bit late
Fireworks exploded across the sky marking Xian's 9-month old day. This has been an exciting month for her and punctuated by growing teeth and lots of crawling. 

At the eight month mark, her teeth began cutting their way through her gums (what a process!) and she toyed with the concept of crawling. The bathing beauty pose was her halfway house to sitting on her own and provided a rest from hard core military crawling. Confident that the military crawl defined Xian's style, we prepared for lots of long days. Fortunately, several of the stops on our Pacific Northwest trip featured homes with hard wood floors. She spun out, lost traction and was forced to improve technique.

She learned to push up from sitting when in crawling position.

Grass proved to be a great place to practice.

Finally, she got the kinks out and is now a cruiser.

(She's a bit frustrated as she began near the high grass.)

Sage sits on six

Stability in the sitting position recently entered Sage's life. She is much more comfortable sitting up and rarely topples.

This new found ability has increased Sage's overall happiness and she often appears to be working on figuring out how to get back into a sitting position from her stomach. In addition to sitting, month six found her firmly taking a place behind the bib. Our initial concerns with Xian regarding food were tossed out the window and Sage gulps whatever is placed near her. Sometimes, her iron grip grasps hold of the spoon but she typically turns and attacks the spoon with her mouth only, a la snapping turtle.

She continues to work our regularly though is still stuck in reverse mode. Two of her favorite poses are shown below:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Double swing

Back in Taiwan

The embrace of humid air greeted us as we stepped out of the airport. A car had been scheduled to pick us up and a few moments before our eyes scanned the throngs of people at the exit of customs. Krista spied the sign - "Mr. Frank & Ms. Krista" The driver's eyes bugged out as he saw the girls and our accompanying baggage. As it turns out, the spacious van that brought us to the airport almost six weeks earlier was not used and a car pulled up to the curb. Hmmm...We crammed it all in and soon were on our way south to Taichung.

A photograph just before our departure.
 Two years ago, a photo from the same location...My oh my how things can change. The photo below showed all of our possessions at that time.

Slowly, slowly, we are settling back in to our home. The return trip was a pleasant (especially in comparison with the trip to Portland) experience that included empty flights and sleeping girls. We'll try to get a few more stories up...