Monday, August 27, 2012

Farewell to Tembin

Tembin seems to be finishing up its tour of Taiwan. Thanks to WeatherUnderground, here is its path over the last week or so. Beginning off the coast of the Philippines, it looped northward towards Taiwan before bending and crossing over the southern tip of the island. Not content with a single pass, it made a nice loop and is returning. This forecast shows it to recross the southern tip and then zoom up the eastern coast.

Dragon Eye

The area surrounding our neighborhood is full of fruit trees. Mango, papaya, lychee and longan, which is translated as dragon eye. Last year, dragon eyes popped up everywhere. The trees were laden with them and it was hard to complete a walk without picking a pocketful of the juicy treats. As it turns out, these fruits are fickle. Some years the trees bear lots of fruit and other years are essentially barren. This year is one of the latter. The trees that provided us with snacks hold only a few lone eyeballs...

Getting to the fruit -

... and the seed remains to hopefully bring a new tree into the world

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Baby proofing

The return to our home in Taiwan with two movers-n-shakers brought some changes to our multitiered dwelling. We live in a row home with seven (1-2-3-4-5-6-7) stories. Each living space is on a different floor so we are often hoofing it up and down the stairs. This is not a good scenario when two free-range crawlers zip around. The stair wells are essentially open and our first attempt of installing a gate at the top of a stair did not seem safe. Teetering at the top of a flight of stairs, only three of the four connecting points found purchase. The image of a girl pushing the gate over and bumping down the stairs had potential.

Plan B was hatched. We bought a modular baby pen and it stretches nicely across the living room. Both the flight of stairs leading up and down are kept from the wee ones.

The fan also found its way to the outside of play zone. Sage in particular enjoyed the challenge of getting her tiny fingers in between the spaces of wire. A hidden bonus of this set-up is that it gives the girls a good set of bars to practice standing up on. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012


"Yeah right, your kids are going to school. They are like what...1 year old."

We've heard the above countless times and the girls are not even one yet. What do they do during the day when we are off teaching? They go to school. From this school, we hope to give them the gift of language. After a summer in the States, they seem to have readjusted to full days of Mandarin. But how do we know that they are in school. Homework! They get more homework than I assign and Krista has to sign off on pages to verify that it has been done. he he he Sometimes the girls are into it and other times, they're not.

The weekend packet - It's awesome that they have a special carrying case

Inside the packet...

yep, the books are in Chinese. Krista is becoming a great look-at-the-picture storyteller. The string-it game. This one is definitely a bit old for the girls. It's a good thing that these pages haven't yet been stamped with a signature. I don't think Xian could fake it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The best kind of "typhoon day"

Typhoon Tembin continued its erratic path by hooking southward and cruising over the southern part of the island. Reports have indicated flooding and damage in the south and I hope that people can quickly recover. Up to 3000 people across parts of Taiwan were evacuated in anticipation of the storm. It is still forecasted to make a loop and return north but on the eastern side of the island. At our home in Taichung, not even a drop of rain made it to the ground. This made last night's decision by the City of Taichung quite nice - all offices and schools were closed today! In preparation for the storm, we got out early this morning for a walk...

Dressed and ready to go!

Even without threatening typhoons, lots and lots of rain has recently fallen. Each day seems to bring a torrential downpour (I got good and soaked on the scooter as I returned home earlier in the week). Farmers are struggling with harvests as the rains continue and the predominant color is green. Few plants on the walk are flowering but this red caught stood out.

A view across the overgrown cemetery and towards the eastern hills

Rains from an earlier tropical storm scoured out the creek. When we first returned from the States, it was chock full of plants.

A distant car ride

A sure sign that the girls are growing up is in the car. Sure, we get the occasional meltdown but what was the norm (below) rarely happens now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Typhoon Tembin

Our little corner of the Pacific is rockin' and rollin'. It seems as if every day brings new storms to the horizons. Growing up on the east coast, I was accustomed to the slow traverse of the Atlantic Ocean that hurricanes would take. Tracking maps would be brought out and best guesses made as to the landing point (I'm still amazed that my mom had a better success rate than the weather forecasters.)

It's different here. The run-out is nonexistent as a storm can form and threaten land within days. This week, two storms have caught our attention: Typhoon Tembin and Typhoon Bolaven.

[Image removed - as Tembin ran north, the image did too. Where oh where did Tembin go...]

Tembin is the storm ready to swallow Taiwan and Bolaven lurks behind. The interesting dynamic is that Tembin's original course was plotted to move between Taiwan and Japan but Bolaven gave it a big push. The question that remains is whether or not we will have school tomorrow...

In other news, we've been slackers
Kids are sick
Krista is sick
Who knows what I'm doing...
but, things are happening and we'll post soon. 
Take care!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

and another year begins...

On Wednesday, the buses rolled up the hill, taxis lined up and we opened our doors to students; some students we knew while others are just beginning at our school. A few students who are continuing their education in the States also showed up to say hello. Enjoying the after-Labor Day-start, these kiddos are still in the midst of summer break. (We reap the benefit of an early beginning the second semester with breaks for Chinese New Year and an extended spring break). This year, I've decided to turn over a new leaf and write about my teaching. The craziness of the last few years has pushed the reflective process aside a bit so I'm trying tap back in.

The girls are back to school in full swing. They've been quite tired as expected. Long days of only Chinese language take their toll. They've also been working on new teeth - Xian on #5 and Sage one of her top fronts. A call from school on Tuesday resulted in Krista racing Xian off to the doctor for a supply of fever medications. That night Sage, who loves to spazz out while sitting missed connecting her hand with the ground so her face gladly obliged. Screams, oh the screams. Blood everywhere. Fortunately, the bleeding stopped and she could enjoy dinner with a fat lip. They both rounded out the week by developing colds.

Sage sporting the overalls
Goodies are always in the pouch.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

8/8/2012 Baba's Day!

In Chinese, the number 8 is said "ba." So, the 8th day of the 8th month is "baba" and baba in Chinese is dad. So here it is, Frank's very first Baba's Day, a day for me to brag to the world about how amazing of a father my darling husband truly is. Every morning at 4:30 am Frank gets up to walk the dog so I can sleep in. Then, he wakes me up, takes the girls and feeds them while I get ready. I take over while he makes me coffee and my day truly begins. Once the girls are home from school, Frank doesn't stop. He cooks us dinner, does the dishes and plays with our little angels until bed time. He is always positive and has an amazing amount of patience with our wee ones.  People have asked how we could adopt two babies, three months apart. . . my answer. .  . my husband is amazing. He is a fantastic father and husband and I wouldn't know what I'd do without him. Today, Frank's very first Baba's Day--Happy Daddy's Day, we love you so much!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lots of debris

I've seen Taiwan referred to as a geologist's playground. Hmmm, maybe not the best place for the normal resident as a good geologist's playground is equipped with earth shakers, steep slopes, and landslides. The typhoon that rolled across the island this past week dumped lots and lots of rain. At our house, it dumped for over 24 hours straight. Leaks formed in random places such as a light fixture in the middle of a stairwell without any signs of water above.

On Friday, we left for school and the roads were a mess. Trees were down. Dump truck loads of silt had found its way onto roads. In many places, concrete is used to hold back steep banks (in and out of rivers) and slides came pouring over the walls.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Double digit months for Xian

The big 10! Standing up on this. Pull up on that. Kiss Sage. Race over here. Chase Audrey there. Reach higher. Reach a bit higher the next time. Give it a tug. Kiss Sage. Pat Sage on the head. Take Sage's book. Walk around furniture. Flop down on my diaper butt. Kiss Sage. Grow in my two front teeth. Pull up on something else. Pet Audrey. Kiss Sage. Whew, what a month!

Playing in the curtains

Each day brings increased interaction between Sage and Xian. Tonight, after we put the girls to bed, the sound of laughter drifted down the stairs. What were the girls doing? The day had been a lot of fun as they romped around the house.

7 months for Sage

Wow! What an ending to month 7 for this little one. Since our return to Taiwan, Sage has pulled out all sorts of new abilities. She began summer vacation sitting on her own and now she can get into the sitting position by herself.

She has also left the revving behind and took off from the starting line. Unlike big sister's painful military crawl, Sage uses an upper body pull and an occasional froggy jump to move around.

Turning over a new leaf, Sage is also becoming a sleeper. The big move when we returned was putting her into the same room as Xian for night time. It's been great! They barely bug each other (for the time being!) and quickly fall asleep. Sage will wake up at some point to eat but often goes right back to sleep. Aah, the wonders sleep can do for parents... She is also beginning to extend her naps. Instead of the 30 minute snooze she now logs in hours at a time. Here she is crashed out in the pack-n-play with her lovey

Sage is also becoming much more social. Ba-ba-ba. Ma-ma-ma. These sounds roll out with ease. She engages constantly with her sister and even acknowledges Mom & Dad from time to time! Not forgotten, she maintains her love of Audrey.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Typhoon Thursday

The following announcement from the City of Taichung kept us home today:

"It is hereby announced that offices and classes are closed on August 2, 2012 due to the latest tropical storm."

The school year is rapidly approaching and we had hoped to get a bit of work done, but c'est la vie. Instead, we get another day with Thing 1 & Thing 2. Yay! The rain is coming down in buckets. Audrey crosses all four paws instead of braving the torrent of water. Long naps are in order as the dark of the day appears like dusk and the pounding rain soothes the wee ones. But, once up, these girls are movers and shakers. Gone are the days of sitting...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Typhoon Saola - preparations

Models predict that this typhoon will finish skirting the northeast tip of Taiwan by midday tomorrow (8/2). On Wednesday night, the rain has set in and the wind is definitely picking up. To get ready, we headed for the kitchen.

As my back was turned one day over the summer, Krista quickly stuffed a cake pop machine into a bag. Out it came this evening and tasty banana-bread-doughnut-hole-ish concoctions were soon popping out of the machine.

Meanwhile, I started slicing up a mondo-mango to create a new breakfast item we've been enjoying. Last weekend, Krista crock potted up a batch of yogurt (so tasty!) which has been used in a no cook oat delight.

Ingredients (+ a healthy serving of honey):

Mix them all up in a container and let sit overnight. When we wake up, breakfast is already made!

We will soon call it quits for the evening and hope that the weather does not worsen too much over night and through the next day. Seriously, we can't have a typhoon day before the school year starts, right?