Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Let's Make Dumplings! 我們來包水餃吧!

I'm not a natural city gal, but one thing I truly love about living in Taipei is the opportunities to meet people.  There are no backyards here, so everyone goes to the park to play.  We go to the same parks nearly every day, and so I get to meet other neighborhood moms often.  We usually only chat in five-minute segments punctuated by "No throwing rocks!" "Spit out that leaf!" "Stay where I can see you!"--but despite that, over the past few years we've gotten to know each other.  :)

Today one of those friends invited several of us "park moms" over to make dumplings. 


I've been wanting to try my hand at wrapping dumplings for a couple years now, and it was such a fun experience.  The kids loved it too--I think they ate their weight in dumplings and egg drop soup.

I'm so thankful for these mom friends, who are patient and speak slowly when I can't quite keep up with the conversation, who pretend not to notice when I accidentally wear the bathroom slippers out into the living room*, who help put my kids' shoes on when I'm having trouble wrangling them all out the door.  

I'm thankful for friends who make us feel welcome and at home here.  

*In Taiwan, everyone takes their shoes off before entering a home and puts on house slippers.  When you go to the bathroom you change slippers because the bathrooms are often wet (many don't have bathtubs or a separate shower area) and this prevents water from being tracked all over the house).

Monday, April 18, 2016

Four Dragons Waterfall 四龍瀑布

Last Saturday we did our first hike as a family of five.

The actually "hiking" part was not long--maybe 20 minutes up and 20 minutes down--just the right challenge for the little ones.

At the top we got to splash around a bit.  This would be a great place to cool off in the summer.

The locals use the waterfall as a massage jet.  We watched a man in his sixties do yoga-like moves underneath it for quite a while.  I could only stand the pressure for a minute before crawling back down!

Afterwards we walked down to the town of Shenkeng and had lunch on the Old Street.

It was so good to get out of the city!  

This is a great hike to try if you have small children but no car.  ;)  It took me a long time to find info on how to get there so I'll post it here in hopes it will help someone else...

Take the MRT to Taipei Zoo Station, then hop in a taxi (it's a 15-minute drive to the trail head).  Tell your driver to follow the 106 from Taipei towards Shenkeng (深坑).  Follow the signs for the Paozilun Trail (炮子崙步道).

Drive straight past the Formosa Gas Station (turning left leads to Shenkeng Old Street).  Then you'll see a second gas station; that's where you turn right and go up the mountain.

The beginning of the trail is really easy to miss.  Keep driving up the road, and you'll reach a sign that says "Paozilun Trail" pointing over a small bridge to the right.  DON'T TURN THERE; KEEP GOING!  Watch carefully for a small unmarked trail on the left.  It looks like a little dirt path with a few sandbags/tires someone put in to make it less slippery.  If you're unsure, check the telephone standing on the right of the trail...if it's number 44, you're at the right place!

When you're done hiking, you'll have to walk about 20-30 minutes back down that road toward Shenkeng to catch a bus or taxi back to the MRT.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Jude is 2!

Our sweet Jude turned two years old this week.  He is a fun-loving, talkative little boy who enjoys coloring, pretending to cook, belting out his favorite tunes while playing air guitar, running around at the park, and climbing up sofa "mountains" and jumping into pillow "rivers."  He is naturally compassionate--if big sister or little brother is crying, he'll comfort them with a favorite toy and say, "It's o-tay, it's o-tay."  While he loves being around people, he also appreciates being alone sometimes (when he needs a break he'll climb into my lap and put his blankie over his head).  Jude, we love you and watching you grow brings us so much joy.  Happy birthday, buddy!