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.

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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!

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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.

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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.”)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

Nara

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.
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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Osaka

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.

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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

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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

When I was on maternity leave I [halfheartedly] considered going back to work early for a practice day just to work with nothing on the line.  I didn’t want the pressure of being short-staffed with a full waiting room, but I was never worried enough to come back early.  That sweet baby took up every second, and before I knew it I was back at work for real.

I can’t believe how lucky I was! I worked with two great nurses and we had a nice shift (“slow” is a swear word in the E.R.)  For twelve hours, I barely spoke of babies or breastfeeding.  I’d forgotten how much I liked the people I work with–they are such go-getters.  They do crossfit, they take Japanese lessons, they collect exotic sea creatures from secret beach locations.  I love hearing about their adventures.  Meanwhile, my sweet husband had volunteered to take the baby for the day so the transition was that much easier.  No dropping her off with strangers–instead I got text updates and dad got a run for his money.

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I got my practice day after all.

After just the one shift, it was back to the weekend!  Carl and I met up with another family of go-getters who were brave enough to take their six day old to the beach. We loaded up the fans and shade creating devices to keep that baby cool while the boys and I took turns snorkeling.  We joked that the bravest one was the mama who showed off in a bathing suit just six days after having a baby.  What a champ!

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This snuggle sesh didn’t last long–my chunky babe was cuddling little Teddy a little too hard!

Can you believe those baby blues?  The water was perfectly warm, and filled with colorful fish–a snorkeler’s paradise.  Our afternoon was capped off with Matthew spearing what we think was a parrot fish.  We had such a great day with this little family!35406160414_b99850d67e_o (1).jpg

Today is what we call a “rest and regroup” day.  Groceries, cleaning, Neflix.  I have absolutely no faith that this next week will be as smooth as the last, but I am so grateful.

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Things I Did on Maternity Leave

This week, I have to go back to work.  Womp, womp.

I always knew I’d want to work while raising kids.  Stay-at-home moms are superheroes, and I respect the hell out of them, but that’s just not me.  Going back to work feels like eating my veggies–it’s something that I want to do, but also really, really don’t because my baby is the best baby in the world (sorry, other babies) and I love her and I’m pretty sure that I will have a meltdown every five seconds that I’m at work.

When I was first getting used to having a plethora of time and a dearth of free hands, I frantically googled “things to do on maternity leave”, “what to do while breastfeeding”, and “how to work out with baby”.  The search turnout was less than satisfying, and I quickly found my own answers (respectively: whatever you want, Netflix, and stationary bike).  I’d like to think this list might help some busybody mom like me, but if nothing else I will have a list of my teeny accomplishments.

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WHAT I DID DURING MATERNITY LEAVE

(in order of least to most significant)

  1. Watched all of The Office, Riverdale, and Friends
  2. Went to brunch a LOT
  3. Drank a lot of delicious coffee
  4. Savored the occasional afternoon nap
  5. Cleaned my house.  Thanks, Roomba!
  6. Took the babe on numerous stroller walks to the beach and the convenience store
  7. Pumped enough breastmilk to fill my freezer
  8. Figured out how to accomplish everyday tasks with one or no hands
  9. Explored Okinawa again
  10. Survived our first mini-deployment
  11. Travelled to California and Tokyo
  12. Attempted to get back in shape, not an easy task as a temporarily single mom
  13. Caught up with so many old friends
  14. Introduced T to her grandparents, her aunt, great-grandma, great-uncle
  15. Cuddled this babe for approximately 12 weeks straight.  Loved her more than I ever knew was possible.

 

Weekend Update–Dad’s here!

It’s been nonstop family time for this baby.

This week, my dad is visiting from San Diego.  T is having a blast getting to know her family, and I am taking full advantage of the situation.  Oh, you want to hold her? Mind if I use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap?  With an extra person around to help, at times I feel like I have restless arms–they’re used to attempting to do it all.

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The only downside to visiting Okinawa this time of year is the debilitating heat.  If you’re outside for more than fifteen minutes, you start to melt like a human candle.  It feels like drowning inside a microwaveable steam bag of veggies.  It feels horrible.

I read something called “Mommy Milestones”; similar to baby milestones (I can hold my head up! I can roll over! I can sleep through the night!), Mommy milestones are a way to celebrate your new abilities a mom.  During all of the visiting, I’ve been able to hit so many milestones.  First gym visit without baby, first gym visit with baby, first successful car ride without a screaming baby, first international travel.

With my dad here, I’m exploring parts of the island and doing all kinds of things I wouldn’t normally do alone.  More on our adventures soon! Right now I have to take advantage of the fact that my kid is sleeping.  Time to use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap.

Hope your weekend is half as fun as ours has been so far, and half as hot!

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Oh, Sweet Summertime

I’ve been lucky enough to travel home pretty frequently while living overseas.  I love being able to take Teagan to meet my family and close friends that I’ve known for years.

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More on the trip later–right now I’m busy soaking it all in.

happy reading