Monday, October 17, 2016

Rain, Smiles, and Markets

We have now been here in Taipei for about 3 1/2 months.  It is definitely starting to feel more comfortable, but I still feel like the language barrier keeps me connecting to things the way I would like to.  I guess it takes time.  However, we feel SO blessed to have so many great friends from our ward here and are enjoying keeping busy with church and school activities--in addition to exploring our wonderful city!  I think we are really going to enjoy living here.

(Some of these photos may be duplicates from Instagram or FB posts--sorry.)

Edith and I get special time together on T/Th while the other girls are at school.  

At the park near(ish) our house.
Treating ourselves to a little fro-yo!
When I'm with Edith we love to go to the wet market.  Well, I love it.  Not sure how much she does.

I guess you can buy hammerhead shark here.  If you have any good recipes for it, let me know :)
Market day spoils.  (I really shouldn't be allowed to go there.)
Green kiwi gelatin from the market!  (Another Utah tribute)
Recently, the ladies in our ward got together for a little cooking demo put on by a woman from China in our ward.  She makes the most amazing Chinese hand-pulled noodles!  I went with hope to be able to make them, but I think it's going to take lots and lots of practice for me to make them!

This is what she makes!!!!  (Taken from her FB page.)  Isn't that AMAZING?!
Mabel, Edith and I wandered to the market closest to the American School recently.  It's not huge, but it has enough to make it worth going to. And there is this great flower vendor!

I can't get over how much this looks like Cora!  After much debating, we decided on the lilies .  I even got the lady to bring the price down a little--with my limited Chinese!
The next day, my friend Jennie Merchant came over and we tried making the noodles dough that our friend, Xiaoyu, taught us to make us the day before.  Jennie had to go before the dough was ready to pull, so I pulled them myself when she left.  Let's just say I attempted unsuccessfully.  But!  I'm going to keep practicing and I'm not leaving Taiwan until I figure out to make those noodles!

Jennie and Mabel making noodles
Cora was cracking us up the other night making potty jokes.  We were reading a (horribly written) book about potty training and the main character's name is Prudence.  Cora started calling her "Poo-dence" and I couldn't stop laughing.  Nice one, Cora.

We've been trying to make a conscious effort to go on mommy-daughter and daddy-daughter dates.  Here's some photos of my afternoon with Cora Lou.

Ready for our mommy-daughter date to the Night Market!
All she wanted to do was ride the bus.  She had been asking for weeks!

Pure joy, right?

At a random All a Dollar-like store in the area of the market

Sooooooo many coin purses!  (Because she probably needs another one.  This girl loves a purse!  I told her to pick one out for her sisters, too.)
I came across this vendor and can't wait to come back and get a million dishes and bowls from this place!  The bowls were about $1 a piece!

Taking a little snack break at the market.
Last week Sterling's cousin, Sherrie, came to visit us for a few days!  Unfortunately, the weather was HORRIBLE and rained, like, all day, everyday.  A lot.  We brought extra clothes and umbrellas everywhere and ended up soaked more than once, but it was so great to see her and explore Taiwan.

On Friday we went to Yuhliu Geopark.  It's like a little Bryce Canyon on the coast with little cartoon character statues everywhere.  No place in Taiwan is complete without some kitchy cartoon character.

Channeling her inner Taiwanese!
Yehliu Geopark
If we can't actually visit Utah, we can atleast go to places that look like it!
Look kids:  You're parents are, like, way fun and take you cool places.  Never forget  that, okay?

This girl was probably the most adventurous, climbing rocks and jumping into water.  She scared me to death, though, when she stepped into a water-filled crevasse up to her armpits!  Eeek!

Pretty soon after we got there, it started pouring and blowing like crazy.  Our shoes were puddles and everyone was soaked to their underwear.  Poor Edith ended up in Sterling's shirt and Mabel ended up in Sherrie's shirt.  Bad planning on our part.  We had to cut our adventure a bit short, but we had fun!

Once we got back to the car, we all had to change clothes and pack up our soggy diaper bag.  After driving around for a bit, we found a little restaurant near the coast.  It turned out being delicious and the owners chatted with Sterling for awhile.  When people realize he speaks Chinese, they love to chat :)  

Beachside restaurant post-crazy rain storm!  That's why Edith is in Sterling's shirt :)
"Seafood!" Mabel was adventurous and ate some octopus and hot pink pressed fish product (because it looked like a flower).  Sterling told her the octopus was chewy like a fruit snack so she went for it.  I think she worked on this bite for a good 10 minutes!

Cora announced that she needed to use the bathroom after we ate, so Sterling asked the owners if we could use theirs.  Now this was not the kind of place that has a public bathroom, by any means.  This was a tiny, hole-in-the-wall beach town establishment.  They agreed and Cora started dashing through the kitchen, pass the open flames and pans full of boiling oil, dodging the unexpecting cook and jumping over all of the JUNK everywhere!  The bathroom was like a house bathroom, in that it had a bathtub.  Now this bathtub was almost filled to the ceiling with boxes and buckets.  Just a few feet in front of the toilet was a huge crate of eggs!  Now, I don't know that much about safety and food regulations, but I IMAGINE that you can't store food within splashing distance of the toilet.  Am I totally off base???

One morning we took Sherrie to the Flower Market downtown.  We all got sucked into the mini cacti and succulent arrangements adorned with little plastic characters!

I've decided that Taiwan is a little girl's paradise.  Here's why: Kitties are on everything from bathroom tiles to shoes and water bottles.   Stickers are EVERYWHERE and priced to sell!  You are never too old to have a Minnie Mouse t-shirt.  You can also get plastic shaped into a myriad of miniature animals and characters for a fraction of a dollar.  It's like heaven.

A horrible photo of the Flower Market
??? (I think these are supposed to go into you flower pots.)

Making very important decisions.

Mabel really was excited about her little cactus.  

We tried going to the world famous Din Tian Fung for lunch, but the wait was crazy long.  I still want to go there, but this dumpling place was great and we had nice lunch with Cousin Sherrie.  
This is what our weekend looked like.  SOOOOOOO much rain.  Not my fave, but what do you do?
Get some mango bingsha!  This is our favorite Taiwanese treat:  shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk, mango, mango syrup, and mango sorbet!  Yum!

Sweet Mabel.  Being two years old is hard and includes a good amount of pouting, I'm learning.  Even when you have shaved ice in front of you!

That night we got a babysitter so Sterling, Sherrie and I could go to the Shilin Night Market.  It was totally rainy, but we enjoyed looking at weird cell phone cases, eating street food, and shopping for kids' clothes.

Totally not what I expected, but really good, actually.  Tempura shrimp with mayo and sprinkles.  Uh, okay?

At Shilin Night Market at the underground food court.

This is the place to get your BBQ squid, oyster pancakes, and stinky tofu.  (We didn't get any of those things, however.)

Everytime we go to the market, Sterling HAS to get his gigantic chicken nugget thing :)

Sterling and his cousin Sherrie hiked the Elephant Trail one morning and I stayed home with the girls.  Apparently, the view of the city from the trail is amazing so I look forward to doing it in the future!

While they were gone hiking, the girls and I watched some of the LDS General Conference.

Lest ye be deceived, this only lasted about 10 minutes--tops. But isn't it nice? 
That night Sherrie, Sterling and I stayed up way too late watching really important youtube clips.  If you haven't seen the one with Ellen Degeneres taking Michelle Obama to CVS to teach her how to be normal again, I totally recommend it!

On October 10th It was Double Ten Day here in Taiwan!  We went to the Chaing Kai Shek Memorial to commemorate this national holiday and were not dissappointed.  I had no idea what it was, but Sterling did.  He said if we didn't go it's like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower.  I need to brush up on my Chinese/Taiwanese history, obviously...

The girls were most interested in this couple getting wedding photos taken.  The literally ran with them from one photo spot to the next!
Happiness is sitting on dad's shoulders.

Cora insists on doing what she sees other people doing!

Tiny Edith
Mabel has entered the stage where she dresses herself.  Rock it, Mabel.

So many photos!
Cora and Mabel were eating up all of the attention!

After the memorial we found this amazing Japanese ramen place.

Unfortunately, after lunch things kind of went downhill.  We had these great plans to go to Jiufen to see something like this:

(Courtesy:  Lonely Planet)

Instead, we ended up seeing this:

Jiufen in a crazy storm.  Meh.
Oh, it was so stormy and foggy.  We drove over an hour there and realized that we would have to walk on these busy, tiny mountain roads with our double stroller and umbrella stroller, fighting sideways rain and crowds.  We decided to turn back because the weather was sooooo bad, but we plan on going again sometime.  

That night we spent hours (really, HOURS) trying to get to the Eslite bookstore (which is really more of a artsy department store).  I'll spare you all of the details, but it included several meltdowns and tantrums, getting lost in Taipei Main Station, and Sherrie having to taxi home by herself late at night. 

And for the grandparents, here are a few more random photos!

Waiting for the school carpool.

The joy that is the stationary/everything store called Red Apple!
 I told them to organize my spices.  Thanks, girls!
I'm loving being able to get things like fresh shrimp at the local market!

One Saturday, the Taipei American School had a huge flea market.


With Sterling in the Bishopric, we find ourselves chilling' in the Primary room after church for a good amount of time.  Cora decided to be the teacher and lead us in a game.  She is quite the teacher.

Remember those bead that you make a pattern with then melt with an iron?  The stationary stores are filled with  stuff like that.  Sterling got pretty into this little project...

Mabel in a nutshell.

We had some friends over one afternoon and they had a hey-day in our apartment's downstairs playroom,  

Cora took this one night and I had a good laugh.  Why do I look so, stinking' tired???  (Oh, I think I know.)
My tiredness may have something to do with stuff like this... 

Cora was the Star Student a few weeks ago, so she got to fill out a poster her teacher gave her and bring it back to school. 

Gymnastics at TYPA

Dress as a Teacher Day!

Cora with Ms. Maria