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.

The Martyrs Shrine

Hey look, we ran into Lex at his part-time job as a securty guard for the Republic of China.

Omigosh, there's Lex again. He was on duty, so he couldn't really talk...

Actually, this is the changing of the guards at the Martyrs Shrine. It's a tribute to Taiwan military men killed in action. They have 2 guards at the entryway and 2 more at the shrine. They can't move a muscle for an hour, then they march around and twirl their guns and change guards. We decided they walk like this to get the feeling back into their legs after standing for so long.

Longshan Temple

We visited the Longshan Temple, which is the oldest and biggest Buddhist temple in Taiwan.

People burn incense, and give other offerings, such as food, flowers, and money to the Gods within the temple and pray to the statues.
You would think the temple was on fire, but no, don't be alarmed, the people hold sticks of incense while they pray, thinking that the smoke carries their prayers up to the Gods. When they are done praying, they stick the incense into one of those huge pots that is filled with sand. Very smoky.

This is inside the courtyard of the temple. A very busy place!