Friday, January 28, 2011

Next week Taiwan celebrates Chinese New Year. Our kids have the week off of school. Public schools have already been closed for at least a week - they get 2 or 3 weeks for the holiday. Businesses close for a week. It's a BIG deal.

Each year the 4th graders at TAS hold a flea market. All of the money they collect goes into "Red Envelopes" which are given to children living at St. Anne's Home for disabled children. Red Envelopes are a gift traditionally given for Chinese New Year. TAS chooses 2 children from each 4th grade class to accompany the administrator who is delivering the gift.
Anna told me last week that she hoped she would not be chosen because she is uncomfortable around disabled children. But then on Wednesday night, at the end of devotions, when I asked if anyone had prayer requests Anna said she would like to ask God to help her be chosen as one of the accompanying children. A surprising change of heart! So we prayed about that.
Yesterday her teacher sent me an e-mail saying that Anna was one of the children chosen! Today is the day they will deliver the gifts.
The event is not so important to me. The fact that my daughter has seen, again, that God hears her prayers and answers is HUGE.
Thank you God. Again.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Boy and His (Wonder) Dog

Last Sunday I walked into the living room and found this:


I love it. I am of the opinion that a boy should have a dog. Ethan was thrilled to get his very own dog. There have been many less than thrilling times since, as this dog has a penchant for biting. Still, she is a very loving dog and I was thrilled to see her cuddled with Ethan, who was asleep.

A dog trainer is coming to our house today to meet the dogs, "interview them" my contact said! I cannot say that (or type it) with a straight face. Will he ask the dogs questions? Will he understand when they answer in dog-speak? For the record, I am told he will train them in English. A definite bonus for us!

This dog definitely needs a trainer. She is very smart but I do not have any idea how to train her so it's time for a professional. I am convinced she will be worth it. Jasper will be trained at the same time, but I don't know how well she will do. She is a very cute little fur ball and much loved by Anna but, smart? Not so much. Nevertheless I think things will work out because Jasper follows Jade like a shadow so if Jade behaves I am convinced Jasper will too.

One more thing about Jade: I think she is part Asian Palm Civet. She climbs trees! Evidence:



She did this 2 days this week while the kids were waiting for the school bus. She is looking over a 6 foot wall at us! Because I am not entirely sure that she is smart enough not to try to jump over, I am now making sure she is in the house when we go to catch the bus. Wouldn't want the boy to lose his dog.

And about the underlined text - sorry. I cannot figure out where the code is that made that happen; hence, I cannot remove it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Taipei Flora Festival

While Eric was on vacation we went to the Taipei Flora Festival. I was hoping for the best and expecting the worst. I think what I found was somewhere in between.

Upon entering we joined a long line of people waiting for we knew not what. We entered a stadium type venue and saw this:

It wasn't my worst fear. My worst fear was that the festival would consist of cartoon characters shaped from flowers. But at the same time I was disappointed. I hoped for fields of flowers which I could walk through. However since we had just entered there was hope that things would be better. So we quickly exited the stadium and walked toward the next area, where we found this:

The flowers on the walls were pretty but I was still disappointed in the presentation.

On a side note: notice the outfit on the girl in the next picture. It seems to be rather typical of how girls in their late teens / early twenties dress here and I think it is kind of funny. Shorts, tights and winter boots!

Things got better once we moved past the wall display. There seemed to be acres of rolling floral displays in red and white. At first the red flowers were begonias, not my favorite, and the white were Sweet William. Just a little further along the path the red turned to poinsettias and things were looking better.

This view from a bridge gives a little idea of the scale of things.

I have to confess, we didn't take full advantage of the festival. We had an appointment we had to get to so we missed much. But we did find a house that I would live in if I could.

The house was my style, old and "cottagy". Better than the house were the gardens around it. There was a sign saying they have been working on these gardens for 7 years.




At the back of the house was this beautiful solarium.


This is pretty much all I saw of the festival. There is much more but I was not impressed enough to want to go back.







Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm trying something new...

Please be patient while I try to redesign this blog. It took me 2 hours to get the new header. I'm trying to redo the whole thing but it's not going so well!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bintan Resort - Fun at the Pool (s)

Finally I am getting around to sharing some vacation photos!

Our resort had 2 fabulous pools. This one had a swim up bar which I never visited. I have never done that, and I always want to! Just never felt like it when we were there. But isn't this pool lovely?


The other pool was more kid-friendly. It had nice, gentle slides...



and giant beach balls that you got inside of and then you could "walk on the water".






And the natives were friendly...


...or not! This was a monitor lizard that wandered into the pool. Every time it tried to get out some dork would squirt it with a water gun or otherwise harass the thing, so it stayed in the pool for about 30 minutes. One time it's proposed exit site was very near me so I got to observe it fairly close. It kept sticking it's tongue out - and it was forked. Eerie! Tip to tail it was about 5 feet long!


Next to the pool there were 4 trampolines and 2 of them were set up for "bungee bouncing". The kids both tried it. Other peoples kids did somersaults and flips whilst bouncing, but mine aren't terribly brave. (I cannot imagine why not!!!)
Anna liked it, but she didn't love it and she didn't want to go much higher than this.









Ethan of course had to be better than his sister, so he got awfully high.




I wasn't even interested in being strapped in. This entertainment was more my speed:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Memorable Moments of 2010

In the past year I have taken more than 1000 pictures. I decided to try to choose 1 from each month to represent my year. To my great surprise, I have no pictures from the months of January or February, so I will cheat and include a couple of extras from other months.

My 2010 memories:

January: Mom told me she hoped 2010 would be a better year for me than 2009 had been. (It wasn't. It was probably worse.)

February: Though it didn't seem particularly significant at the time, it would be my Mom's last birthday.

March: We had my Taiwanese friend Gloria and her son Jason to our house for dinner. Little did we know we would soon be in Taiwan ourselves!
April: This month was full beyond belief! I entertained my mother-in-law and her best friend. Eric saw them for 1 day before he had to leave for Taiwan!
The kids and I joined Eric for 4 months in Taiwan. Here the kids and Eric are pictured with Susan, our realtor, who was this day giving us a sightseeing tour but would soon play a more significant role in our lives.

At the end of the month I flew back to Boise where I saw my Mom for the last time in person. (I am so grateful for Skype. It allowed me to see Mom many more times via computer.)

Children and grandchildren flew in from all over. Here I am with my brother and our niece, Sara.

The last picture of me with my Mom.
May: We celebrated my Dad's 80th birthday.


June: We decided to stay in Taiwan for 2 years, and Susan helped us find a house with our very own swimming pool.
July: We celebrated Anna's birthday - Eric via Skype.
August: The cousins moved in as we moved out!
September: We said good-bye to my Mom. The lasting memory everyone has of Mom is "I am Blessed."
October: After the craziness of the preceding months it was inexplicably comforting to spend an evening with friends, talking and drinking wine on the patio of our new home in Taiwan. Landon Jensen and Chris Murphy were visiting from Boise and I think this is one of my best memories of the year!
November: Two new puppies in one day. I guess life wasn't crazy enough!
December: The kids got to participate in a play at church. This scene mirrored real-life, as Ethan (aka Michael) teased Anna (aka Jane).
Best Wishes for a better year...
Love in Christ,
Laura