Friday, December 16, 2011

Waiting for Christmas


My kids, like most children, are dying for Christmas to get here. Today they had a half day of school and "winter break" has begun. Because we will be spending Christmas on a wonderful tropical island and will NOT be hauling Christmas presents back and forth, it has been agreed that the children can each open 3 presents tonight. The excitement, coupled with a rather late night last night, has taken it's toll on Ethan.

I was doing some work on the computer and playing some soft background Christmas music. When I finished I turned around and found this:

So sweet. That dog is HYPER, but she will lay quietly with her boy when he wants to sleep.

Actually, both dogs are with him.

The second dog is not hyper, but she is silly. This is how she settles in for a nap!


Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Blog Surfing

From time to time I go blog surfing - I click "next blog" at the top of mine to see where Blogger brings me. It seems to categorize and lump blogs together, and I find it funny to see whose blogs are thought to belong in the same category as mine. I have found some that I love and now read regularly, some that bore me, and some that have frightened and/or shocked me. Today's find goes into a new category which I have titled "I'm so glad I didn't get invited to THEIR house for Thanksgiving!"

Here is how it began:

"This year _____ and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house and it was so much fun! We had green bean almondine, whole wheat couscous with cranberries and pecans, and wine..."

There were pictures and then more menu offerings, including fake turkey - I assume some vegetable mush smashed together to mimic turkey.

Yuck! I wonder what blogger thought I had in common with THAT woman!?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Longing for Home?

I spend a lot of time now longing for home, dreaming of restaurants and grocery stores and driving on uncrowded streets. But then I go to church, and almost every Sunday after church I think something along the lines of "maybe I want to stay in Taiwan". Our church here is very small and, I suppose because many of us are ex-pats, it feels like a family, only perhaps better.

Yesterday 6 people were baptized and I cried as each one of them gave their testimony. There was the 7 year old girl who decided to ask Jesus into her heart as she was walking down the hall in school - she recited John 3:16 from memory. There was our dear friend Ray who was raised in a Christian home (rare in Taiwan!) but didn't want to be baptized until he felt a passion. He says that passion recently came, not in the form of some huge spiritual feeling but through the relationships with church members. One of the Philipina ladies who accepted Jesus when she was 15 but then walked away and lived in all sorts of sin. She was recently convicted of how wrong she was living, rededicated her heart to Jesus and wanted to be baptized to show the world that she is starting over. And the Taiwanese husband of a friend; he has been depressed most of his life, wondering what the purpose was. He felt peace every time he listened to our pastor preach the words of Jesus, and so he has found peace through salvation. And a young Taiwanese woman who was touched by the love shown her by her life group hosts. And then the one that really got to me - the young man who looks so strong and tough. He was in the pastor's office late Saturday night talking. He knew a successful man who had died and, as he watched the man's sons fighting over the inheritance, he thought "I don't want to be like that" and there had to be more to life than that. So he was searching for the "something more" and he was asking the pastor questions. On Saturday night his questions were answered and he surrendered his life to Jesus. Sunday morning he was baptized. Wow! It is so amazing to watch peoples lives changed. It is such a privilege to be in this country with the pervasive dark spiritual forces wreaking havoc in the lives of so many people - and to see people walk out of that darkness into the light of Jesus. This is something I never witnessed in America.

And so I wonder if I will really want to leave when the time comes.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Field Day

Recently both of my kids had their annual "Field Day" at school. I'll share a few pictures, Academy Awards style.

BEST EFFORT


The highlight of every field day is the tug-of-war. This year neither of my kids were on a winning team. For Ethan's team, I think you can see why - the girls were just having too much fun!


Anna looked to be working pretty hard, but due to lack of technique or strength they still came up short.


(I learned a lesson about technique that day when I joined in for the parent/teacher tug-of-war. My team had several people who counted out loud: "1,2,3, PULL, 1,2,3, PULL. We won.)

FAVORITE PICTURE


Ethan is getting pretty big and solid.


Anna in action. (When I look closely at her face I still see the sweet face she had when she was 2.)


BEST PICTURE THE KIDS WILL HATE ME FOR POSTING

Anna's feet have always turned in but - !!! How does she do that?

What's wrong with this picture?
(Did you see it? Ethan has finished his swing but the ball is still on the tee! In case you haven't guessed, my kids don't play sports.)

FAVORITE PICTURE WITH FRIENDS

I love the look of intensity on the girls faces.

Ethan and his very best friend. The tallest kid in the class and the shortest. It cracks everyone up.

BEST "OOPS" PICTURE

A friend bumped me as I took this picture. I'm have no idea why that caused this effect, but I love the picture!
And this, I realize is blurry. However, I love the bright colors - red, green, yellow and blue - so for me it's a keeper.


That's it for excitement around here.

I find it hard to believe it is nearly Thanksgiving. I think the reason is the climate. Since it doesn't get cold and snowy it still feels like summer. Holidays feel very strange to me. Perhaps because we're in a foreign country, perhaps because I'm not with family, probably both. So I am just going about daily life with little or no thought given to the impending holidays. Do I need to think/plan/decorate?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Edits

Hi there. If you have read my post about our night on the town you may have noticed some glaring typographical errors. I cannot fix them due to technical difficulties. Sorry. I guess I had better proof read more closely in the future!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A (Family) Night on the Town

On a recent Friday night we hit the town -- family style.

First we went out for dinner at one of the few American restaurants in Taipei. I have been trying to take my camera everywhere to capture every day moments. The kids don't much like me taking their picture all the time, so I let them have a turn at it sometimes.

This is how Anna "drinks" lemonade:
Ethan, after eating ribs, in a rare moment of cooperating for a picture.
This was our waiter. He was crazy to the point of being annoying. He wrote our order on his arm. We wonder what that looks like at the end of a busy night? When we were almost ready to leave he came and asked if he could sing us a song that he wrote. Okay, sure. It was ridiculous and I think he had better keep his day job. Afterward he agreed to pose for a picture (no surprise really, he was not short on ego!) I wish I had taken it instead when he was singing, but I think I was too much in shock to reach for the camera.
(By the way, the waiter's glasses were fake. You see that a lot here. A LOT. People wear frames with no lenses. Sure, because it makes them look...? We don't get it.)

After dinner we went across the street to a mini night market. (For those who don't live in Taiwan, a night market is a common thing. Many neighborhoods have certain areas where vendors come out of the woodwork about 4:00 and set up booths selling all kinds of cheap junk. And always there is food. Stinky tofu and squid on a stick and such.
There were some bouncing things. My kids are ALMOST too old for that stuff, but not quite too old yet, and so we let them burn off some energy.

They climbed up loads of times.

They slid down in all sorts of positions.



This one I thought for sure was going to result in a broken neck. Thankfully the only injury was a "rug burn".


I snuck a few pictures of other people's kids because I thought they were so cute. This first little girl was really adorable as she toddled around. I had my camera aimed at her for awhile but either she had her back to me or someone would step in between us.
Another very sweet, slightly older, little girl.
When I got bored I took dozens of pictures of the Miramar Ferris Wheel, trying to capture all of the different light combinations.



Since none of us are brave enough for the street food, we headed back to the mall for dessert. This is one restaurant we will actually MISS when we move back to the States: Haagen Dazs. I am not much of an ice cream fan, but it is impossible not to love Haavc gen Dazs. Here in Taiwan they not only sell the scrumptious creations, they do so in fabulously beautiful restaurants.

The restaurants all have these luxurious lounge chairs:

They have beautiful light fixtures.

A cool, sweet ending to a sweaty, fun evening.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Little Details

This will be my last post about Bali. (At least until the next vacation!)

I took a lot of pictures of the little details. I am not sure if I was so entranced by Bali that even the little details seemed wonderful or if all of the wonderful little details were part of what entranced me, but either way I came away with the idea that Bali is the best place on the planet.

There was the tray of chocolate covered treats, along with a welcome note and a bottle of wine that was waiting for us in our room when we arrived.

We chose to enjoy the treats that evening in the outdoor living room.

The wine was chilling in a wooden bucket. I loved the bucket.
It became sort of a joke between Eric and I that I wanted to bring home everything from the villa. (I actually did purchase some of the bathroom accessories! After returning home I said I should have purchased the pillow because it was heavenly. Since returning home I have purchased THREE different pillows hoping to find something I like as well. Nothing I have tried yet compares to that pillow! I did NOT ask if I could purchase the wine bucket. Sometimes I regret that.)

Our first morning I woke obscenely early so got my camera and went outside. I captured this picture of our plunge pool. I love the colors.
Thatched roof detail.
Remember the outdoor shower that I loved so very much?
I am showing it again not because the memory of it causes me to melt (it does, and it is wonderful!) but by way of explaining the next picture. It is a close up of the shower wall.
I actually took SEVERAL pictures of the rock wall. Can you believe it? Truly I think Bali put me in an artistic state of mind. I contemplated the different colors in the stone, the abstract pattern in which it was laid and the slight variations in texture. I took pictures so that I could look at them and be inspired to... do what I am not sure! And no, I wasn't smoking anything funny. (Never have.)

For somewhat the same reasons, I took this close-up picture of the dining room buffet. Unless you get close you don't see the layers of finish, it just looks like a honey-colored wood. Only on close inspection did I see that there was some green underneath the stain. I suppose when next I refinish a piece of furniture I will incorporate this technique, which was the reason for the photograph. (Except I don't refinish furniture either.)
A very comfortable, weather-resistant living room chair.
The living room daybed...
...which was layered with beautiful pillows.
(I took photos of many of the pillows individually, but I don't want to bore anyone into a stupor.)

This was a garden light along the courtyard path. Isn't it cute and different?
This is the courtyard path, looking back to the entrance gate.
Here is our gate from the inside:
Just inside the gate is a light switch, set into a concrete stone! I didn't actually mean to photograph the light switch. I was interested in the fact that the wall sort of looked like it was crumbling. I imagine this was done on purpose to give the illusion of being in a grand old property. It works for me since I love OLD things.

Finally, remember I said in the past that I have a new love of doors and gates? Well, I think the doors into every villa were unique; just one more detail to enthrall me. And despite the fact that my kids complained about the number of photographs I took of DOORS, I feel like I did not begin to take enough.




(Yes, I know this last one is a repeat. One in daylight and one at night. I guess I thought it was particularly pretty. I do love the scroll design.
As we were preparing to leave Eric found a couple of postcards in the desk drawer - pictures from the resort. Guess what was pictured? The doors! It is just so amazing to me that this thing which I love was such a feature of the resort. We had no idea about that when we booked the place. We truly had no idea how spectacular the resort was. Yes, the pictures looked REALLY nice, but experience has told us that photographers are quite good at finding a sliver of "nice" and snapping it for the web designer to post on the property's website. Generally we get to a place and are disappointed by something. But this time Eric said the pictures didn't even begin to show how truly beautiful everything was. So true.