Monday, April 29, 2013

Hiking in 景美 (Jingmei)

Although Taipei is a city of several million, it has many easily-accessed nature trails.  Last weekend we went hiking around Jingmei (景美), just several subway stops away from our neighborhood.  Once you exit the station, there are clear maps and signs that lead you to the trail head.

Picnic lunch break...sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples.  Yum.
This is a short and easy hike.  The guide book says it's good for elderly people.  It's also good if you're carrying a baby or are hiking with small children.  :)

It was Keira's first time riding on my back.  She loved it.  
Side note: I made these teething pads for our Ergo last week using an old T-shirt, burp cloth, and some Velcro.  They worked great--now instead of washing our baby carrier all the time, I can just throw these in the washing machine with our clothes.  There is a free pattern with instructions here.

Fellow adventurers at a scenic rest stop.  
The trail has several scenic overlooks with picnic benches.  

Keira fell sound asleep on the way home.  
There are several intersecting trails around Jingmei; we chose one that came out on Muzha Road and took a short bus ride back to the subway.

We're looking forward to exploring more of Taipei's trails as a family in the months ahead!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

No One Knows Whose Nose

Proof that beauty is culturally defined...

The other day as I was walking down the street, two elderly Taiwanese neighbors stopped to comment on how cute Keira is.

"She has blue eyes--just like her Dad!" one exclaimed in English.

The other one responded in Chinese. "What I don't understand is why her nose is so small.  Her dad has a big, handsome nose; her mom has a beautiful, big nose; but her nose is so little!"

In Chinese, I said, "You're right, we're not sure where she gets her small nose from."

Shocked and apparently embarrassed that I had understood her comment, she hurriedly assured me, "Don't worry, dear, I'm sure her nose will be nice and large when she grows up, just like yours."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cooking with Kalan

Baking is not very common in Taiwan.  Few apartments come equipped with an oven, though you can buy small ones (about the size of a microwave).  Also, baking ingredients are not always easy to find.  So while baking in the U.S. is a normal, everyday occurrence, baking in Taiwan is more of a special, extraordinary event.

Our friend's aunt and uncle (who we met during Chinese New Year) asked us to teach them how to bake.  So, last Saturday Kalan held an informal baking lesson for them.  They made simple chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cake.  Our friend's uncle video-recorded the entire process on his phone and took pictures of each ingredient. 

We enjoyed hanging out with them again, and baking was the perfect activity for a rainy spring afternoon.  Next time, I hope our friend's aunt can teach me how to make some Chinese dishes.  Then I'll be the one taking pictures and notes.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Eggs With a Side of Repentance

Monday.  7:30 AM.

"Kalan, I'm running down to the market to get some eggs.  Want anything?"

"Milk, please.  For coffee."

"Well, to get milk I'll need to go to the store" (which is not actually true since 7-11 is a 3-minute-walk from where I buy eggs).  I frown slightly--just enough to show him what an inconvenience this is, but not so much that I feel guilty for being a mean wife. 

Sighing (audibly, in case he isn't appreciating all the trouble I'm going through for him), I grab the food-budget envelope and head out the door, returning from my arduous, fifteen-minute, round-trip walk with the eggs and a small carton of milk.

The thing is, if I had been wanting the milk, I would not have thought twice about walking an extra three minutes to the store.  I was more concerned with my own convenience than loving my husband.  Even worse, I disguised my selfishness with a facade of self-sacrifice to make myself feel okay about it.

My frowning and sighing were not in step with the truth of the gospel.  "In humility count others more significant than yourselves," the Apostle Paul tells us.  "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" because Jesus--God Himself!--became human in order to die for us.  At great personal cost, He chose to love us.*

Thank you, Jesus!  He loves me so much that He died for me...

But I'm not even willing to walk an extra three minutes to the store for my husband, after I asked if I could get anything for him?  The light of the gospel illuminates the insanity of my sin.  It's silly, yet serious.  Each mundane moment of running errands, folding diapers, chopping onions, and giving medicine to a fussy baby matters.  These are the moments in which I live out the gospel or not.  I can respond to Jesus with thankfulness and love, or with boredom and selfishness.

It's not easy.  Progress is slow.  Later that evening, after the Holy Spirit had grabbed hold of my heart and showed me my milk-scenario sin, I confessed my bad attitude to Kalan and and asked him to forgive me.  (We had a good laugh about it, too.)  We also asked Jesus to help me.  

More repentance.  That's what I need.

And maybe a few pointers on breakfast-planning.

*Galatians 2:14, Romans 12:10, Philippians 2:3-4

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Not Everything is Smaller in Taiwan

Taiwan is a small country, about the size of the state of Maryland.  Many things made on this tiny island nation are smaller than their American counterparts.

Apartments (ours is 250 sq. ft.)
Coffee cups (holds 6-8 oz)
Grocery stores (some have only one checkout line)
Washing machines (hold 3 days' worth of clothes)
Restaurant meal portions (remember Cup O' Noodles?)

It even has the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan, dedicated to miniature...everything. Kalan and his class get to take a field trip there on Thursday.

This week, however, we learned learned that  not everything is smaller in Taiwan.

"What is that?" you ask?  It's a 6-pound beef liver.  This is what the butcher gave me after I told him I wanted enough liver for three people.  Not bad for $3 US.

Kalan loves liver. Liver is good for babies since it's high in iron. It only took Kalan an hour to cut it, cook it, blend it and freeze it.  What a guy.

Speaking of things that are bigger in Taiwan, Keira has hit the 19-pound mark.  Hello 12/18-month clothes.  

"C'mon mom; liver is great!"

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Keira: 6 Months Old

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grandpa Mark and Nini Visit Taiwan

We had an awesome visit with my parents last week.

Grandpa Mark met Keira for the first time.
We didn't do much sightseeing because the main attraction was right in our apartment.

We went for a lot of walks and enjoyed visiting with neighbor-friends.

We're so thankful they could come visit us and get to know Keira.  We miss them and are looking forward to visiting Wisconsin in August!