Thursday, February 28, 2013

A "playful" nip

Reminders constantly surface regarding the differences between our two girls. The latest relates to their interactions with a parrot at their school. As we left school last week, the parrot also happened to be heading out. With the cage on the ground, our girls quickly gathered around as birds currently top their list of awesome, amazing beings (after their mother, of course).

(Sorry for the low quality photo - the phone is barely hanging on. 4 more months...)

Xian respectfully looked at the green bird from a distance. She waved and clapped her hands. Sage relentlessly attacked the cage. She wanted the bird. At one point both Krista and another person were redirecting her flying fingers. After multiple requests for her to keep her hands away, Sage was finally left to her own devices. People really don't learn by being told, do they? Within moments her little fingers were in the cage and NIP, the bird clamped down on a finger a little blood surfaced. Ouch! Sage yelped for a few seconds and got a mommy-cuddle but she wanted back down. Did she learn? People don't always learn the first time, do they? Within moments her fingers were wandering back towards the cage. That was our cue to head home for the day...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lantern Festival

Officially, this party marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations and takes place on the first full moon of the new year. After grabbing the girls from school and a quick dinner out, we headed to the Wenxin Forest Park to see the lanterns. The area was crowded though not impossible and we strolled through the park enjoying the beautiful "lanterns".

The big show with the all-so-important full moon hanging in the sky

It's the Year of the Snake!

Beautiful Fans

Sunday, February 24, 2013

House Elf running wild

Our little Dobby loves to wreak havoc on her Mom and Dad and her motto is the earlier the better. Typically, she wakes up somewhere between 4 and 5:00 in the morning. During the week this is not that big of a deal since I get up early to walk Audrey. If Sage is awake, she comes along and watches the moon set and the day begin. However, she has not yet grasped the importance of sleeping in on the weekends.

Our house elf who has absconded with her sister's Tigger.
This morning was no different from most weekends. We wanted to sleep. Sage wanted to get up. At 5:00 pm. The weekend sleep plan went into effect. I quickly grabbed the little monkey before her increasing sounds woke Thing 1 and the rest of the neighborhood, but instead of heading downstairs I brought her back to our room. Sage explores while we try to get a few more moments of low quality sleep. She enjoys this activity and manages to get herself into all sorts of trouble. This morning, she snuck into the bathroom - the door closes but not well enough for her mischievous ways - and then got really quiet. Quiet is usually a good indicator that we are in trouble but poor quality sleep called our names louder than her silence.

Sage eventually exited the bathroom and began making all sorts of noise in the main room. Krista smelled a strong odor of...soap. As it turns out, she found the brand new bottle of baby soap and managed to unscrew the top. She then emptied the entire bottle into the tub. The first bottle took a year to get through and the second, 24 hours. Thanks Sage!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Summer come early...

The weather this past weekend in Taichung was quite remarkable. Cool mornings with blue skies heated to comfortable temperatures that brought a whole bunch of people outside. Xian's birth mother visited and we got out to a few places.

Of course, the park was a must visit. The girls dash to the entrance once they are let out of the car. It's fun to see how comfortable they have become with the repeat trips.

Xian charging up the climbing arch
Street performers were aplenty and this group caught lots of attention. Chinese yo-yos and spinning tops with a high degree of athleticism drew a crowd.

We were downtown on the newly named Calligraphy Greenway. Despite being in the center of Taichung, it typically feels quite calm here. The girls had plenty of room to explore,

debate, and

cool off their toes.

On the opposite side of the greenway, an outdoor art exhibit continually rotates different themes depending on the time of year. The girls were not too interested in the New Year's theme but the mirrors of the permanent buildings caught their attention.

A definite crowd pleaser - two babies loving their reflections

Given that the day felt like summer time, we felt it important to indoctrinate the girls on a summer time must - ice cream...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

High chairs

Dear High Chairs,
For months you graced our kitchen and provided Sage and I with a safe place to eat. We felt secure in your solid, wooden frame as we slowly built the muscles that let us sit up.

I remember the insert that kept me snug as I began reading books in my chair and sat at the dinner table. Soon, Sage also joined us at the table. She made a big mess. Hmm, she still makes big messes.

Black and red, we sat side-by-side. For the longest time, we both existed on separate planes. Sage did her thing and I did mine. The funny thing is that we we eventually began noticing each other and interacting. High chairs, thanks to you, I really love my sister today.

Great times - banana through a mesh. Yum!
Each day we took a rest with you and refueled for more awesome activity. And we learned. We learned and we learned in our days with you. Here is a shot from my ET-stage as I became more social.

Do you notice that I'm feeding myself?
Sage became goofier and goofier but Mom and Dad had the hardest time getting any evidence. Every time that camera came out she became somber. They got lucky and caught her this time with a great smile.

So, High Chairs, I guess you can tell why I'm writing. Sage and I are growing up. It was nice to have a comfy place in the kitchen to sit but you were beginning to cramp our style. And that tray! Don't even get me started about the pain caused when my little finger got caught between the chair and that tray. Ouch! (Ok, ok, Sage I'll put in something about the belt.) The belt is cruelty at its finest. Just when a little girl thinks that she can stand up in her chair that belt tightens around the waist and we're stuck. Blah. I don't care for it at all. Our ride with you is over. We may not yet meet the height requirement for the next ride but we sneaked on.

Check this out - I'm sitting all by myself and using two utensils at once. Who's the big girl now? Oh yeah, did you notice that I spoon food without the help of Mom or Dad?

Sage struggles a bit with keeping her little diaper in the seat for an entire meal but she is also doing a super job. Just look at her feet swinging away and tell me that ain't happiness.

Here we are - two girls that are growing up fast. High Chairs, we wish you the best but are glad that some space has been cleared out of our kitchen.


Friday, February 15, 2013

Painting Toes

Mom's rules: When babies turn 1, they are allowed to get their toes painted. Does this mean that when babies turn 1 they will get their toes painted? Seems so...

Sage, you're up!

In the end, all three had a fresh coat of color on their nails.

Awesome Blankets

Recently, our girls received a beautiful gift from a kind person who has not even met them. A coworker's mother made two blankets for Xian and Sage and shipped them to Taiwan. Here are a few photos of the girls on their blankets. Many, many thanks!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Conversation heart cookies creation was in full effect today as the girls celebrated St. Valentine's Day. The activity began in the kitchen with mixing bowls and a happy little helper.

Little sister was napping at the moment but she joined us later in the process...

The loud mixer was a bit scary but the big wooden spoon contained the right amount of fun and challenge. Audrey looks on in the hope that a few special treats were in store for her.

alas...Xian learned one of the best parts about being a cook - taste tests!

Sage finally woke up and provided some interesting pointers that were necessary to get the cookies colors just right.

In a joint effort, the girls then rolled out the dough and stamped out hearts (ok, ok, Mom helped a bit.)

The cookies went into the oven and were decorated once cooled.

Finally, the cooks gorged themselves on conversation hearts. Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Double slide

Heading into the park

The local park is fast becoming a hang-out place for us. A few months ago, Krista and I got a good workout running up and down the stairs and through the tube of the play structure.

Now, the girls cruise up the stairs by themselves,

get into the tube without assistance,

and they don't want any help with the slide.

he he he - Xian slid down earlier and found a wet spot. That slowed her down on this race with Sage. Xian even had the head start!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baking Bread

Many of my childhood memories come from time spent in the kitchen. We had an open kitchen with a large island in the middle. The island was great for three boys to run around though it seems as if we picked up some cooking tips along the way. A few years ago during a summer program, I was asked to write about the heart of my home when growing up. I wrote about our kitchen. Currently, our kitchen is located on an isolated floor though the new play kitchen brings the girls down a bit more. Here's to hoping that our future home has a central kitchen to share stories, laugh and figure out the world as we cook, bake and eat.

With some free time during this Chinese New Year break, I finally got around to baking the NY Times No Knead Bread (the spin-off I tried) recipe. There's a lot of waiting time - the dough sat overnight - though not much of my time was taken. As named, no kneading is required but the dough does get folded a few times. Xian was a bit tentative in touching the dough. She got a well floured piece since a sticky one would likely have been too much for her and enjoyed poking holes into the dough. Sage isn't quite ready to play with dough as we aren't quite ready to deal with the aftermath as she eats it.

We're a bit short on pots so I tucked the dough our one-handled (thanks Sage!) stainless pot.

Just out of the oven
The house smelled great and the bread tasted amazing. We're enjoying that the girls are beginning to interact more and more with their environment. They want to do what we are doing and it is fun to watch them experience new textures, tastes and actions.

Typically, Xian does not eat bread. She doesn't like it and begins shaking her head "No" as soon as she sees it. This time, she took a taste and wanted more, more, more.

Monday, February 11, 2013

DIY Play Kitchen

I began looking on websites, Toys R Us, Amazon, Ebay and ended with Pinterest and a trip to the local hardware store. Xian's imaginative play kicked off a few months back and she has become more and more interested with pretending to cook, eat and feed any one willing to be fed. It was decided the girls needed a play kitchen. Initially I had high hopes and was quite positive with the choices I found online. 

Plan A: A fabulous espresso kitchen, complete with stainless steel appliances and an automatic cappuccino maker made the top of the list. Upon ordering, it was discovered that anyone who would ship clear to Taiwan was sold out. 

Enter Plan B: I began to look locally. Plastic after plastic kitchen was found and the expense was staggering. Scratch Plan B. 

Welcome to Plan C: a DIY kitchen made from some cabinets we had laying around. After hours, days spent on Pinterest researching, I finally had a plan in place. Frank’s dad was set to arrive from France in a month and I was anxious to enlist his help to get this project going.

It all began with three cabinets. One would become the sink cabinet, one the oven and the one below 
the refrigerator/freezer.

The project was moved to our garage. (Side note: this resulted in an unknown neighborhood feud as our car could no longer fit in the garage and we had to park in the street. The Freeca needs its space.) Pieces slowly began fitting together to give new purpose to the cabinets.

Ole Far was mighty pleased about the rounded off counter.

Doors were replaced, silver paint was sprayed and the kitchen began to take shape. A stove top was quickly and easily put together with spray painted CDs to serve as the burners and kitchen knobs (yes they turn) to serve as the stove and oven controls.

The only item Frank requested was that the oven contain real grates, so thanks to my ingenious father in law, the girls now have oven racks that slide in and out. (They now spend more time on the floor being stood on than actually in the oven, but they do get the most use).

The oven also has turnable knobs and even a faux clock set to the birth month of each of the girls, October and January 10:01.

The kitchen moved from its garage location into our downstairs' kitchen. The finished set ready for the girls to play.

Sage acts as the maintenance team. Her first project was to inspect all of the hinges and bolts used to fasten the kitchen together.

Xian is the cook. She slowly mixes her masterpieces, samples to make sure that her high standard is met and then treats everyone to a taster.

In all, it was a complete success! Hours and hours have already been spent opening and closing doors. The girls LOVE it! Thanks Ole Far!