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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yingga

This was a really fun trip-we took a train to Yingga, a nice little town that is the pottery capital of Taiwan! The streets are lined with shop after shop that sell every kind of pottery from tea sets to marble statues. You can even make your own pottery right on the street.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yangmingshan hike

This is at the top of Yangmingshan Mountain. We hiked it the easy way-take a taxi to the top and walk down. (nice matching smiles, boys!)



going down...


We were walking along and these huge monkeys came down right on the trail with us! They were almost as big as Evan, and this is the closest shot I got before my camera died!

Only in Taiwan...

Just around the corner from our house, we always pass this sink and toilet-all hooked up to the plumbing-right there outside the building. We have always wondered who put it there, and if it really works. So yesterday as the kids and I were walking past, I pulled out my camera and told Evan to go see if it would flush. He grabbed the camera and said "No way! YOU go!" Well, I had to satisfy my curiosity, and no, it didn't work.





It's quite common to find stray animals lounging around amongst the items for sale here...never dig down into the bin... you just never know!

Chinese people really seem to be afraid of the sun. You see people like this everywhere-they look like mummies. And I don't know if you can tell, but she's even wearing sunglasses. It doesn't matter how hot it is in summer, they mumify themselves to protect against the sun. Kinda scares the kids, though.



The other day, I was walking through a store and I walked past these 2 sales clerks standing there talking. Without any warning, one of them reached out and took a big double handful of my hair, kind of took me by surprise, and then she just smiled at me as I walked away rather quickly.



Yesterday, Nate was home, and he went out to our favorite noodle place to get some lunch. I go there all the time, and the guy who runs the place always knows just how I like my noodles, so when Nate went there yesterday, he didn't realize Nate spoke chinese, so he used broken english to say "I know your wife! She is very dericious!" We think he was trying to say "She thinks the noodles are delicious." ...We think.

"I saw a wiggle behind the shampoo!"

The other night Evan went in to take a shower, and he came running out yelling "Cockroach! Cockroach! Mom, there's a cockroach in the bathtub!" He said as he was getting in, he saw 'a wiggle' behind the shampoo bottle. Now this is only the second one I've seen in our apartment, and I was really amazed and grossed out at the size of the thing, so I grabbed my camera just to prove to you how big they are. It is kind of hard to tell just how big it is from the picture, and neither one of the kids would get in the picture with it, so you'll just have to trust me. The worst part was that Nate wasn't home, so it was up to me to do the dirty work! That's right, I had to grit my teeth and...run downstairs to get the security guard to come up and kill the cockroach! Even though he was laughing, I could tell he felt quite chivalrous, he kept saying "Do not worry! Do not worry!" as all 3 of us did the cootie dance while he squished it in a tissue. Everyone says "If there's one, there are always more." and I know this; the thing you have to understand is that this is Taiwan--cockroach capital of the world! They are EVERYWHERE! You see them hanging out on the streets! I know they are there, I just don't want to see them!

Taiwan orphanage

A few days before christmas, I took the kids to an orphanage for kids who have HIV to pass out some presents and diapers. We played with the kids for several hours, and I fell in love with this little baby girl, her name is 'quay quay' she is 5 months old. Ashton loved to rub her head, which I must admit was very soft. The orphanage seemed to be run really well. We had a great time, and I think the kids really got into the spirit of giving.

more pageant footage

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This is my favorite picture-EVERYONE got makeup!



It's funny to look at the pictures and think about what Nate and I were sitting there talking about as the pageant went on around us-we talked about all kinds of things; I remember asking him if he had re-applied his lipstick before the show.

That's Evan-the only one NOT singing!

These are my young women who played the angels-LOVE IT, GIRLS!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The best Christmas pageant EVER!

Every year here in Taiwan the english ward puts on a nativity pageant at a local sportspark. This year, Nathan and I got to be Mary and Joseph. It turned out to be quite a production; there was even an article in the 'Taiwan Times' the next day. It is amazing to me that a lot of people there hadn't ever heard the story of the Nativity.


I have to admit that there was a moment or two when I thought "what did I get us into?" I had been told there were no speaking parts, so I though all we had to do was sit there and stare at a baby doll...but it turned out to be a little bit of 'silent acting' for Nathan mostly, and I did my own stunt work on the horse--riding sideways on a saddle that wasn't as secure as one would want it when doing her own stuntwork! As Nate lifted me off the horse for the 4th and final show, I heaved an inward sigh of relief! But overall, we had a great time, it was a really good experience for all of us, and it did help boost our Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where are you Christmas??

Here we are in the middle of December, and it doesn't feel like Christmas at all! Maybe it's because it's 80 degrees outside, maybe it's because there is no Christmas music or Christmas decorations in the stores, or on the radio. Maybe it's because I missed the 4am - day after Thanksgiving shopping spree, or maybe it's because I'm missing those obnoxious bell ringers in front of Target; I just can't quite put my finger on it. I need some suggestions on how to get into the Christmas spirit! Tomorrow, our ward is putting on the nativity pageant. Hopefully that will help!

Taiwan living...

This is a paragraph I copied (with her permission) from my friend's blog. This is exactly how I feel, and I really can't say it any better:

'when B was in the states I had him pick up a few things for me and last night as he was unpacking I marveled at what he'd done. He drove a car to an all-purpose store- parked in a parking spot very close to the store. Walked in the store perhaps got a shopping cart w/o having to insert money - maybe even a shopping cart with a child basket and straps then he browsed the wide, well lit, organized aisles for the things he needed. He didn't even have to go up any escalators and when he couldn't find what he needed, he simply asked someone in English and the associate helped him. Then he checked out w/o having to pay for a bag to place his items in and walked casually out to his car or perhaps and even better pushed his cart out to his car, placed his items in and left w/o having to pay for parking! Amazing. I'm sorry I was almost flabbergasted at this thought when it hit me last night how easy it must have been for him. Don't get me wrong I am grateful for the chance we've had to live here and experience Taiwan and its nuances but it makes me grateful for America and really how easy our lives were there..."

Let me just add that since I don't have a car here, my shopping trips also include waiting for a cab on the street with all my purchases and a 200 pound 2 year old in my arms, then doing my best not to vomit from the stench inside the cab on the way home (usually garlic and pickles, but sometimes severe body odor and grease with an undertone of urine) and then having my purchases unloaded at the gate of our apartment, and having to carry them up a flight of stairs in several trips.

The wide open parking lots and shopping isles of the states is like a distant dream to me...

Monday, December 1, 2008

THE TERROR OF...THE DRAIN!

Just the other day, I was telling my friend how much Ashton LOVES baths. Well, our drains here are open with no sort of filter in them, and bathtime used to be Ashton's favorite thing, until the day he lost half a bar of soap down the drain. Now he is terrified that anything that gets near the tub will go down, including himself. I have shown him that the toys he plays with in the tub don't fit down, and when he's safe outside the tub he's able to think a bit more rationally. He'll sit there and say to himself. "I not go down-I too big. Toys not go down-it's too big." But when he gets in the water face to face with the drain that swallowed up a bar of soap, the panic sets in. He cries "I go down! I go down!" and if anything gets in the water, he will save it's life by throwing it out, including the washcloth that I'm trying to wash him with-he will grab it out of my hand and throw it to safety- and the cup I use to wash his hair. The second it touches the water he grabs it crying "This go down! This go down!" Needless to say this has made bathtime a little bit harder on all of us. Even when there's no water in the tub, if something ends up in the tub, he panics. The other day his friend Lizzy was here playing and I was in the bathroom hanging up a shower curtain. Lizzy climbed in the tub to watch me, and Ashton fell to pieces! "Wizzy go down! get out Wizzy! Hurry! Come on Wizzy! You go down!" I don't know how long this phase will last-it was kind of funny at first, but now I just hope this doesn't scar him for life!

DANCE BABY DANCE!



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Ashton is a kid who really 'feels the music'. He loves to sing and dance whenever he gets the chance. He sometimes walks around the house holding open a book with one hand, leading an imaginary chior with the other hand, singing at the top of his lungs. He does the same thing in church; when we sing he feels that he needs to be just a little louder than everyone else, and the fact that he doesn't know the words doesn't matter at all. He just sings whatever comes out. My favorite is when a commercial with music comes on the t.v. - he will drop whatever he's doing and rock out for a minute.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Joke of the year

Last week, Evan's class took a field trip to the fire station. They have a museum there with all kinds of pictures, including this one of the Grand Hotel on fire back in 1995. Well, I just couldn't resist! I took a picture of the picture, and went home and showed it to Nate, and told him that I took the picture out of the bus window, and that the Grand Hotel had really been on fire. At first, I didn't really expect him to believe me, since you can clearly see fluorescent lighting glare on the picture, not to mention the label on the bottom of the picture. But I must say in his defense that he was only looking at the tiny screen on the camera. I was also afraid that he would put 2 and 2 together, with the field trip being to the FIRE STATION, and all. But no, for 2 days he went around asking everyone if they had heard about the fire, and since no one had heard about it, and he couldn't find anything about it on the news or online, he started thinking maybe it was all a big 'cover-up' or something. He finally figured it out when we had the missionaries over for dinner. He told them about it, and when he showed them the picture, they pointed out all the flaws I mentioned above....He was pretty embarrassed, and who can blame him?.....But he is speaking to me again finally.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Beach Day in November!





We took a trip North to the beach with our friends the Robinsons. It rained a little, and we didn't see the sun all day, but the weather was really warm. It was the most fun we've had since we got to Taiwan, and the kids slept great that night! Too bad the Robinson's will never invite us again after Ashton threw up in their car on the way home (sorry guys!)

On the way home, we stopped at a Texas Bar-B-Q restaurant. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the sign. I thought it's too good to be true! We went in and met the owner, who is a genuine Texican; hat, boots, wranglers, the whole 9 yards. I thought for sure we had hit the jackpot. Then we tried the food. I should have known there's no way Chinese people would ever eat real Texas Barbecue! If you want to try it, all you have to do is mix a bucket of chili powder with a small serving of pork and slap it on a bun.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

We had a busy night; first we trick-or-treated in our apartment complex, then we went to a ward Halloween party, then we came back and went to a party at our neighbors house. Whew! Since Taiwan doesn't celebrate Halloween, everyone kinda stared at us walking down the street in our costumes. It was a regular 'Grimley family parade' with everyone honking and yelling, and we even had some people take our picture. I think some of them actually thought Nate was the pope. He walked around with his arms up 'blessing' people all night. I know some of the non-members that came to the ward party thought Nate was our church leader. (Yes, we know he is going to HE*@!)


pumpkin carving!!


Our traditional Halloween night dinner...meal in a pumpkin, mmmm...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The cockroach

We had our first cockroach sighting in the apartment. Luckily, it was on Columbus Day, so Nate was home from work. I walked into the kitchen to re-fill Ashton's sippy cup, and the thing was just strolling across the kitchen floor. I dropped everything and ran screaming for Nate to kill it. I didn't think about the emotional trauma this would have on Ashton, who was right behind me, and followed my example of running and screaming. But Nate saved the day with a shoe while Ashton and I hugged each other on the kitchen table. It all happened so fast, I didn't think to take a picture for the blog, so I know no one will even believe me when I say how huge it was.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of things that freak me out, tonight on the bus I saw a lady who had six fingers on each hand. Once again, I was without my camera, so I have no proof, but I counted several times, and I am POSITIVE!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

family update

We moved into our new apartment in September, and we really like our new place. it's a smaller building with only 8 floors, and all of the families work for the state department in some capacity. There are lots of other kids around Evan's age, so he has lots of friends to play with. We live in Tianmu now, which is right at the bottom of Yang Ming Shan, the huge mountain that Nate rides his bike up every morning to get to work. He's really enjoying his job, as well as the biking. Just to give you an idea of how steep the hill is, it takes him an hour and a half to get up and 15 minutes to get down. My friend says her car has to stop and rest halfway up. He gets to see all kinds of Taiwan wildlife of the way; snakes that have been squished by cars, spiders the size of his head, and sometimes the monkeys throw tree branches at him. All in a day's work for Nate. Did I mention before that we ran into his old mission companion here on the first day of church? His name is Josh Lee, and he is married to a chinese girl names chiu-yi (who is my only counsellor in young womens), and they live in Danshuei.

Also, Nate had the opportunity to translate for our stake conference this weekend. He did this with a few other chinese speakers in our ward. This was an interesting meeting. The chinese people talk about things that people don't normally bring up to other people, ever. One lady started by saying she had a story about a toilet. So she went on about how the toilet was really clogged, which was odd to hear in church, but then she went on about how she was sitting there on the toilet, and how she was really sick, and she had to brush her teeth on the floor, and all the english people were laughing so hard, but then Nate said afterwards, that the person translating was very tactful to leave out the details of her bowel movements that she was sharing with everyone. And none of the chinese people even cracked a smile! For some reason, I didn't really get a spiritual message out of her talk.

The kids seem to be adjusting well. Evan loves school; he has a mandarin class, so he is learning a little bit of chinese. He can count really well (he sometimes has to help me remember the numbers when we are shopping, and the shopkeepers are telling us the prices) and he can write a few characters. He spends lots of time with his friends that live in our building. He also loves going to night markets and playing the kid's games, especially the game where he shoots balloons with a b.b. gun. because when he misses, the game guy reaches over and pops the balloon for him, so he wins a prize every time. Who wouldn't love a game like that?

Ashton is in full '2 year old' mode. His most recent hobbies include seeing how long he can hold a bite of food in his mouth (he once held a piece of sacrament bread in his mouth until after the closing prayer. I think that's the record-except the chocolate chip cookies we had for dessert tonight. He finally swallowed that one when I went to brush his teeth before bed), pulling the chairs around and using them to climb on everything, copying everything Evan does, copying everything I say, and sneaking out of bed at night.

I am enjoying my calling as young womens president. It is a very different calling here than in the states, that's for sure. I'm going to start a 'survival chinese' class next week, which I am very excited for. Nate says my chinese cooking is improving. I volunteered to be the room mom for Evan's first grade class, and Ashton keeps me busy during the day. We go to play group every week, and I've gone shopping a lot with my friends. There's a lot to do here, and I'm really lucky to have good friends who know their way around, and speak chinese. I also let my friend Chiu-yi talk me into going to get acupuncture with her a few times. yes, it hurts. I don't care how little those needles are, some of those babies really hurt! And I'm still running at 5am every morning, except I've slept in a lot the last few weeks because Evan has had some days off of school. I was going to run the Toroco Gorge half marathon, and I was halfway through my training schedule when my friend and I went to register for it, only to find out it had filled up the day before, so we didn't get in. Oh well, now we are talking about going to China to run a race on the Great Wall.

Danshui on double-ten day



Oct. 10th (or double-ten day) is Taiwan's national independence day, so we took a trip with some friends to Danshui, which is the northern port city of Taiwan. Since it was a national holiday, everyone else had the day off as well, and it seemed they also decided to go to Danshui. It was very crowded, and poured rain most of the day, but we had all kinds of fun with our friends, and even found a fabulous mexican restaraunt (a dream come true!)



Evan got to ride on a scooter with Josh Lee, Nathan's old mission companion, who now lives in Danshui. Riding a scooter in Taiwan is taking your life into your hands (or in this case, putting your son's life into Josh's hands) and it's a good thing they only went a few blocks. I now have a few more gray hairs!


We went with our friends James and Lydia and thier son Mason. We took a ferry ride and the kids loved it.



Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Grand Hotel

This is The Grand Hotel of Taiwan. It was designed by Chiang Kai-Shek's wife for visiting dignitaries.

This is the front lobby

There are dragons everywhere throughout the hotel, all of them symbolize different things. This is the famous golden dragon that has been saved since the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.



This is a part of The Grand Hotel that not many people have seen. This is a secret underground tunnel that was Chiang Kai-Shek's emergency escape route.

We took a tour of the hotel with some of Nate's co-workers and they showed us the tunnel, not realizing that we would all jump on it and ride down. Later, they told us that only about 30-35 people have ever seen the tunnel, and only 3 or 4 people have ever actually gone on the slide.