Taroko Gorge (Taipei pt 2 of 3)

When we first planned this trip, Alexis mentioned Taroko Gorge.  I was skeptical–it was two hours away and seemed like it would really be cutting into my coffee shop time.  It didn’t take much to convince me:  she just said again that we should go, and I agreed.  Besides, the two hour train ride was a perfect time to get my little monster to sleep.

Since the taxis were cheap, we opted to take a cab.  The driver drove us to the train station instead and used Google Translate to tell us that it was much cheaper to take the train.  We tried to pay him for his two minute drive, and he refused.  Throughout our weekend, we were amazed by the hospitality and kindness we were shown.


Once arriving at the gorge, we immediately stopped for lunch (typical).  I had some of the juiciest salmon ever, and somehow the orange served as dessert totally hit the spot.  It was perfect hiking fuel!


Another thing about Taiwan: they LOVE babies!  The two hour hike was basically just a constant meet-and-greet between Teagan and her fan club.  People were taking her photo, grabbing her feet, melting into puddles when she smiled back.  For the most part, it was pretty flattering to have people love my baby that much.  Finally someone understood how I felt about this little babe.  I know she is basically more boogers than baby, but one smile from her can stop your heart.

The hike itself was easy, and apparently some trails are harder.  Ours was basically stroller/wheelchair friendly.


The gorge was incredible.  We never did find out what made that water so blue; we were too absorbed in our excellent highbrow conversation. (Example:“I think I’m growing up because I like prosciutto now.”)


I hiked and thought about finding God in all things.  When the view is this pretty, God is tangible and breathable and impossible to ignore.

We boarded the train home with sore muscles and full hearts.



Taipei (pt 1 of 3)


Lately, I have been incredibly busy and every spare second has been reserved for spending time with my sweet family.  One night shift has a way of seeping into the day before and day after; before I know it weeks have passed.  I missed my friends!  I’m lucky to have friends who understand the struggle and love me anyway.

I’d planned on going to Taiwan with my friend Alexis for months, and when it finally rolled around I was tempted to cancel.  I was so freaking tired, and the laundry wasn’t done, and blah, blah, blah.

Luckily, I rallied and made it.  We ran late, hit traffic, had issues with customs and had a knife in our carry-on.  Alexis joked that it had been a while since she’d had to run through the airport to make a flight, and a few minutes later we were doing just that, stinky baby in tow.

Somehow, we made it!  We were on our way to Taiwan!

Our flight was short, only 1 hour, and customs on arrival was easy–they pulled us into a baby carrying and/or disabled line.  We opted to take a taxi to our AirBnB because for 40 minutes it was only about $12.

We were immediately in love with Taipei.  It felt so modern and Westernized, but still exotic.  Our apartment was in a cool neighborhood I’d found by searching “hipster areas Taipei”.  Even though it was cloudy, we could see the famous Taipei 101 in the distance.


After a short break to set down our suitcases, we were off!  Our first stop was Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.  I meant to take my time in the museum and learn about the president memorialized here, but it soon became apparent that I wouldn’t be staying long.  Teagan had skipped her morning nap to make friends on the flight, and by afternoon she was getting LOUD.


We stayed just long enough to watch the changing of the guards and snap a few photos, then split up with Alexis to head home.


I watched Law & Order in the apartment while the booger queen rolled on the floor, then ordered the most delicious Dim Sum ever.  It was starting to really feel like vacation!


Weekend Update

I don’t want to brag, but I can make a great turkey.

This year, I worked Thanksgiving night in the ER.  We had a great turkey and all the sides.  These people I work with are amazing.  Being a part of a great team makes all the difference when you’re working a holiday or wishing you were home instead, and I was so thankful for them.  I admired every little babe that came through the ER and thought of my own little milk monster at home.

After my shifts, I snuck a quick nap and woke up to “Dada! Dada! Dadadadadada.”  Teagan had learned a new sound!  As much as I’d hoped her word would be “Mamamamamama”, this one is super convenient.  Who do you want to change your diaper? DADA.  Who gets to take out the trash, Teagan? DADA.

We got to work on our weekend family chores: grocery store, guitar time, Christmas movies, church, chillin’.  Is there anything better than the mundane tasks of a weekend off?


In other urgent news, I found out how to make any picture into a Paint by Numbers picture–you select each color individually, and it gives you a palette and a numbered outline.  So excited for late nights awake to pursue my random hobbies.

I love this sweet little life.



Currently listening to:

These are Their Stories


We were so sad to say bye to Grandma–Teagan loved all the attention and was so sad to see her go!  The timing worked out for a last minute weekend getaway so that we would all be at the airport at the same time, which just drew out the sad good-bye.  Instead of a good-bye, its a “see you later”.

Soon, we were on our way to our next adventure—Kyoto, here we come!  We are so acclimated to Okinawa’s tropical climate that the high of 62 degrees was rough on us.    Teagan doubled up on the layers and snuggled us tight!

We stopped at favorite Indian restaurant in Gion, then caught up on some much needed sleep.  In the morning, we got an early start for Nara.DSC01337

Nara is known for its many deer that take over Nara Park.  You can buy deer cookies anywhere around the park, and they love it!  Teagan was not so sure about the deer.DSC01348DSC01349 copy

Nara, you’re beautiful.

After a full day in Nara, we headed back to Kyoto for the night–the girls went to sleep, and Carl went for a hike/ramen feast.  Typical.  This trip was the first that naps were very important, but I was happy to use the babe as an excuse to catch up on some sleep.

For a few months, I’ve been burning the candle from both ends.  I’ve been taking on too much, committing to the wrong things and putting myself last.  The result is being able to do everything, but doing it all poorly and acting cranky the entire time.

Example: my schedule was recently switched so that I would now be working Thanksgiving night.  My response to the schedule change? “That’s okay, I’ll make a turkey!”  I walked away wondering how I had over-committed myself once again.

The thing about breastfeeding is that you can’t make milk if you don’t sleep.  You can’t make milk if you forget to drink water.  There were a few really scary days where I thought my body had given up on milk, and I was forced to slow down.

I’m learning to love it.  I’m getting all kinds of cuddles from this babe and having a great weekend off.

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Cheers to the super, super, incredibly slow life.

Thanksgiving Party II

Last year, Carl and I started a really fun tradition.  Because he was going to be gone for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, I decided we would celebrate a “Friendsgiving” feast a little early.  We picked a day in late October that I was off and he was around, and we had so much fun that we decided to repeat it.  Carl’s mom was in town, so we had an excuse to party!


DSC01258This year, our friends really came through with the food.  We provided the turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole and they brought the rest.  There was a huge spread–barbecue meatballs, garlic cauliflower, cranberry stuffing, and ALL. THE. PIE.


We’d been expecting a huge typhoon, so a lot of people cancelled last minute.  People asked if we were going to cancel, but we’d already defrosted the turkey–the show must go on.  As other people frantically shopped for typhoon prep groceries, we hunkered down and prepared a feast.  I figured whoever could make it would be there, and if nobody came, we’d still have the basics covered.


I love that in Okinawa, every party quickly becomes a baby party.  Teagan is currently super into touching everyone and everything, and luckily the other babies were on board.  When her babyfriend Sojourner showed up, the two sweet girls instantly grabbed each other’s faces–adorable!  They rolled around on the floor and inspected various price tags and pillows.


DSC01268When it was finally dinnertime, Carl made a sweet speech about being grateful for family.  We loved hanging out with our Okinawa family and having Laurelee here to party!

This year, I’m grateful for a sweet family and a warm home.happy reading


Weekend Update: Baby Party

Disclaimer: It’s 2AM and I’m attempting to stay awake to switch to night shift.  This post may be slightly loopy.

This week, we got sick of going out to eat and invited a bunch of my friends over for salads.  It was incredibly fun–five women and two babies doing nothing in particular.  For a while, we all were sitting on a corner of my bed staring at the babies and laughing. The other baby was younger than Teagan, and she was totally bullying him and loving it!

DSC01236.JPGI love these ladies!  Okinawa is such a unique place, and here your friends quickly become family.

We’ve also enjoyed taking Laurelee to some of our favorite places.  Today was a total girl’s day–pedicures, sushi, and shopping.

Does it get better than this?

Currently reading: Maranatha Road, Heather Bell Adams



We are having a blast with Carl’s mom in town–it’s so nice to have family around helping with little things.  Teagan loves getting to know her grandma, and we love showing her the island.

This weekend, we took her to one of our favorite cities–Osaka!  We got to work enjoying kuidaore (“eat until you fall down”) style food, Osaka’s speciality.  First up: okonomyaki.  Okonomyaki was invented post-WWII when food and supplies were scarce.  Some creative mama with a home full of hungry kids decided to invent a cabbage pancake filled with whatever’s in your kitchen.  Like all fried food, okonomyaki is best enjoyed with beer.DSC01047.JPGDSC01042DSC01044

We stayed in an adorable apartment that was completely Doraemon themed.  What is Doraemon, you ask?

Doraemon is a cat-like robot from the 22nd century of the future. His favorite food is dorayaki, a sweet bean paste filled bun, and his birthday is 2112-9-3 he is also know by the name “Ding-dong”. He weighs 129.3 kg, is 129.3 cm tall, can leap 129.3 cms in the air and can run 129.3 km per hour. He is afraid of mice and hates rats, his ears were eaten off by rats. He has a fourth-dimensional pocket on his abdomen from which he can take out many amazing TOOLS. Doraemon was sent back to the 20th century because Nobita’s grandson can’t bear to see his grandfather suffer. So he sent Doraemon to help out with Nobita’s troubles

EVERYTHING was Doraemon-themed.  The toaster, the toilet, the toothbrushes provided, the snacks were all on theme.  We were provided with Doraemon onesies, and when the owner found out that we had a baby with us, she brought a baby sized Doraemon outfit so we wouldn’t be left out.  I love Japan! So weird and great.


The next day, we headed to Universal Studios Japan to explore Hogsmeade.  We dressed up the baby for the occasion: her shirt says I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.DSC01060


We stayed all day and by evening, we were totally tired!  A restful night back in the Doraemon room, and we were back in Okinawa before we knew it.

I love Japan and this little family!


Weekend Update: Little Moments

It’s been busier than I thought, going back to work.  Sometimes it seems that every day off is just a prep day to go back.  Slowly, I am getting better at balancing and everything is getting easier.

This week, I found my camera charger, which obviously meant a baby photo shoot.  I’m so obsessed with this girl!  She is not a fan of the constant photography.


We headed to Cape Manzamo, a gorgeous viewpoint close to our home.  I took Teagan out for pancakes, and then walked out to look out at the beautiful view. DSC00933

It was perfect! It’s finally feeling like fall in Okinawa, still pretty hot but definitely bearable.  Not quite pumpkin spice weather, but if I turn up the air conditioning, I can pretend.


This little girl loves getting kisses from Carl and pulling chunks of fur from our poor cats.  She has TWO teeth coming in.  Every day, she’s more playful and fun–more human than baby blob.  I love it!

I am so in love with my island home and my crazy family.


Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Last summer, armed with some colorful pens, I sat down to make a very special list.  Carl and I had been talking about books that really influenced us, and I wanted to know that someday my kids would have their own list of influential books.

Growing up, I spent many hot summer days in my  local library–is it just me, or do all libraries have amazing air condish? And the best tasting icy cold water fountain water.  They must have a direct line from a secret mountain spring.  I can’t wait for this babe to love the library as much as we did.  I hope she loves the water there as much as her super weird, super nerdy parents.

This is the Carl-and-Hayley family list of books we’d want her to read someday.

Get workin’, T.
  1. Harry Potter (the entire series)

    …and preferably she could go back in time and wait in costume at midnight for each book release.


  2. The BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach  

    We were just talking about this! Why was James and the Giant Peach such a horrifying movie?  It definitely seemed too scary for kids.  The giant bugs were supposedly nice, but were SO creepy looking!bfg

  3. The Phantom Tollbooth51fWQBmjbVL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_

  4. The Hardy Boys series

    I never got into Nancy Drew but I loved these books!  I remember their chum Chet, described as a rotund boy driving a jalopy.  I used these words on the regular; I was probably the coolest kid in my fourth grade class.914d9xLbgrL.jpg

  5. Charlotte’s Webb


  6. The Hobbitphoto_5653_0-5

  7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe317500

  8. Little House on the Prairie51OMP91O3KL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

  9. Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer

    Carl’s must-read book.  I didn’t even read these until high school English.theadventuresofhuckleberryfinn

  10. The Invisible Man, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, and Dracula for kids

    Much Googling has taught me that this series was called the Great Illustrated Classics.  It seemed like everyone at my school was reading one of these at any given free reading session.  The really hardcore kids read Goosebumps, but that just wasn’t me. INVISIBLE_MAN-2

    What books do you love to this day?