Family

It’s finally here!!!

Tomorrow Nick and I will be flying back to America, back to home!!!  You know the old saying, Parting is such sweet sorrow?  Well I totally understand that now.  Going home is such a bittersweet thing for us.  We’re so excited, because “home” will always be home, no matter how far we travel, but we will be leaving a part of our hearts here in Taiwan.  The whole two years we’ve been living in Taiwan, we’ve been missing friends and family back in the US, but now, going back, we’ll have all of our new friends in Taiwan to miss.  I guess nothing is ever perfect.

We have enjoyed are time here immensely and our lives will forever be changed because of the two years we lived here.  We have gotten to experience new food, new people, new cultures, new languages, and a new way of life, and that can never be taken away. 🙂

On another note…no one ever tells you how much stuff you can acquire over two years.  We tried not to buy things, but it’s inevitable.  So, for the last few days we’ve been going through everything trying to decide what to keep and what to toss because it won’t all fit!!  Where’s a Mary Poppin’s bag when you need one?

Well, I guess it’s farewell for now.  Our next post will be brought to you from the United States of America!!

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Categories: Family, Friendship, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Three Years Running

Today marks three years of marriage for Nick and me, and what a fabulous three years it has been!  For the last two years of marriage, we’ve been living in Taiwan, and for this next year, we will venture forth into the unknown of doing this marriage thing as real adult in the US (our first year of marriage, we were still in college, so I don’t count that as real adulthood).  What will this next year (and the next 20+) bring?

Here are some things we definitely want to do during this next year…

1. Buy a house.  That is a big commitment, and if we just get this one done, I’ll be good!  Nick wants a fixer-upper, but I would be just fine with a ready-to-live-in house (but because I love him, we’ll probably go with the fixer-upper).

2. Celebrate Christmas in our own home with oodles of decorations (and cookies).  I’m a sucker for Christmas.  It’s hands down my favorite time of year (really the whole Fall/Winter holiday season), and this year, we have no reason not to go all out!!!  This includes dressing the dog up for Halloween… he’s going to love it. 😉

3.  Do some camping!!  Camping out under the big Texas sky is something we’ve been dreaming about ever since we left the Lone Star State.

4. Find a new church home and get involved!!!  This is something we recommend to all people of all ages. We shouldn’t just to go to church, but invest ourselves in others and make disciples.

5.  Spend lots of time with our family and friends that we’ve missed these last two years.  This is gonna be fun!!

And, because I’m feeling sentimental (and because you all like looking at us)…enjoy some random photos of us through the ages. 🙂

Categories: Bucket List, Family, Fun Stuff, FYI | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Merry Christmas y’all!

Christmas is my favorite time of year!  Everything about it puts me in a good mood.  The songs, the decorations, the cookies, the hot cocoa, the movies, but most importantly, the birth of our Savior!  It’s the most wonderful time of year!

Christmas in Taiwan isn’t the same as it is back home in Texas, but maybe that’s for the better.  Sometimes we can get a little caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating and entertaining and lose sight of what’s really important.  Love, joy, peace, family, Christ.  Those are the important things!  Being in Taiwan has reminded us of those things, and while we’re a long way from our family and friends, Christ’s love it with us every where we go!  He will never leave us, or forsake us.  His love is forever and can reach forever as well.  This Christmas, let’s all take the time to remember the important things, and thank God for everything He has given us.

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Categories: Family, Friendship, Taiwan | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Missing the Boat

This week I was supposed to go teach on a little island called Wang-An (read about my previous teaching adventures in Wang-An here).  I was all set for my week in isolation.  I had my iPad stocked with movies, my nook loaded with the new book I’ve been wanting to read, and my bag stacked with snacks to fill the lonely nights.  This may sound a little ridiculous, but ask any foreign teacher in Penghu who’s done their week of island teaching, and you’ll find out that there isn’t much to do.  Most of the islands don’t even have a 7-11 (that’s a cry for help right there :P)!  I arrived Tuesday morning all ready to set out.  I had given the dogs and Nick hearty goodbyes, and was setting out with my co-worker to catch the boat to Wang-An.

We arrived at the port and to my excitement disappointment, we were told the boat wasn’t running today because of the weather.  Living in Penghu, everyone knows that everything depends on the wind on that particular day, and I guess Tuesday’s wind was just too strong for the boat to brave. Darn! 😛  We returned to school with the sad thought that I would be staying in Magong all week. Shucks!  Unfortunately Fortunately, there was another boat that would make the journey in the afternoon.  Yippee!

After spending the morning being very unproductive productive, we set out again for the port.  When we arrived at the port, the boat was sailing away!  Boo!  Apparently no one told us that the boat sometimes leaves early, and sometimes leaves late, but hardly ever on time.  Who knew?!  So as we waved to the people on the boat, I settled into the sad happy reality that I would be staying in Magong with Nick and the pups all week!

If I had been in Wang-An, I wouldn't have this awesome cuddle time with Bai!  Everything happens for a reason. :)

If I had been in Wang-An, I wouldn’t have this awesome cuddle time with Bai! Everything happens for a reason. 🙂

Categories: Family, Humor, Island Teaching, Taiwan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Hualien 2.0

When Nick’s dad came to visit us at the end of August, I knew we would have to take him to Hualien.  The beautiful scenery and hiking trails of Taroko Gorge would be right down his ally.  Since we had been to Taroko before, we believed we would be the perfect tour guides (going once makes you an expert, right?).

After meeting Mike [that’s Nick’s dad’s name (lots of ‘s there)] in Taipei, we all got on the plane for the short ride to Hualien where I made Nick sit next to a stinky guy. 🙂  Once we arrived, we got a taxi to our hotel, which was conveniently located near the train station where we could rent scooters!  I was really excited because last time we toured Taroko Gorge, we took a taxi the first day, and the second day Nick drove us around on our scooter, but this time, I would be driving myself!!!  After convincing the lady at the scooter shop that I did in fact know how to drive a scooter, we were off!  After taking the Hualien off the beaten path tour, which was totally planned, 😉 we found on our way onto the highway that would take us to Taroko Gorge.  I just have to tell you again how beautiful Taroko Gorge is!  It’s one of those slap-in-the-face reminders that our Creator is an artist and has created this world to be a testament to who He is and for our enjoyment.

We really enjoyed seeing the Gorge and doing some hiking through a waterfall, but my real thrill was driving through Taroko on scooter.  I felt like someone in a spy movie  with all the twists and turns and ups and downs of the Gorge.  I could just imagine that I was on a chase while trying to stop a terrorist from ending the world as we know it.  Just call me 008! I know, I’m a nerd, but it can’t be helped. 😀  Life’s more fun that way!

Join us next time for Hualien 2.0 the final chapter: white water rafting!

Categories: Family, Nature, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Moon Festival 中秋節

Hey there folks!

It’s Moon Festival time here in Taiwan (and a lot of other countries as well), so I thought I would share some Chinese culture with you! Moon Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, is always on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar calendar, and which is always a full moon. That means that it can be in September or October depending upon the moon. I just want you to know that I am impressed that Taiwanese people can keep track of time using the Lunar calendar or the Gregorian calendar (that’s the “normal” calendar the rest of us simple folks use). It’s hard enough for me to keep my days straight using just one calendar!

The Moon Festival is very important to Taiwanese people. It is a time for families to come together and give thanks (kinda like Thanksgiving without the Turkey). Most Taiwanese families will Barbecue outside on these tiny grills and look at the beautiful full moon. Read more about our Taiwan bbq adventures here.

Another tradition during the Moon Festival is the giving of mooncakes. Every bakery we go to is overflowing with mooncakes! Moon cakes are round and filled with various fillings such as Taro, egg, mochi, or in more recent years jelly or even ice cream! Each Asian country has it’s own traditional moon cake. In Chinese culture the round shape symbolizes completeness or unity, so it is popular for families to give mooncakes to their family members to symbolize that the family is complete and whole. To read more about mooncakes, Wikipedia is a much better authority than I am! If you are interested in trying some mooncakes for yourself, I hear that you can buy mooncakes in the States. Check out myhongkonghusband for some more info about buying or making mooncakes in the states.

Happy Moon Festival!

Categories: Cooking, Family, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Stuffed Peppers

Hello Friends!

We know we’re not a foodie blog, but the stuffed peppers we made last week were epic, and they had an epic (at least for food) end as well, so we decided they were blog worthy.  Just sit back, relax, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the show!

Let’s set the scene.  

Now, if you’re new here or have memory problems, we live in Taiwan.  Penghu, Taiwan to be exact.  In Taiwan, specifically Penghu, Tex-Mex is hard to come by, and if we want it, we pretty much have to make it ourselves.  We’ve been craving Tex-Mex lately, so after scouring the internet, we decided to try our hand at Tex-Mex Stuffed Peppers.

Act One.

After  many busy days and nights, we had a quiet Thursday night in which to make and enjoy our stuffed peppers.  All day long we were looking forward to these tantalizing treats, and couldn’t wait to get home to start on them.  But when we got home, we were both exhausted (an ill-planned late-night cup of coffee left us wide awake most of Wednesday night), and decided to take a quick nap.  Given our track record with “quick naps” we should have known; this nap would not be a short as we hoped.  We woke up around 7:00 and hummed and hawed about whether we should go ahead and make the peppers or get something out.  We eventually decided we would make the peppers, and I am glad we did.

Act Two.

These peppers were delicious!  They totally satisfied our Tex-Mex craving and left us raving.  We normally don’t get this excited about food, but we couldn’t stop saying how delicious these puppies were.  I’m drooling just thinking about them.  Anyways, we were watching Psych (a great show, btw) while eating our delectable peppers, and all of a sudden we hear a CRASH!  We whip our heads around and see the second pan of peppers dumped all over the floor and the dog running for cover from the wrath he knows he’s about to receive.  I almost cried over the loss of the peppers; there was no way to save them, so I just had to trash the whole thing. 😦  Nick pulled the dog out of his hiding place (under the table), and made him sit in time out.

Closing Scene.

After several minutes of time out, Nick knelt next to the dog and calmly talked to him about what he did wrong and that it made “mommy” really upset.  He knows this doesn’t have any affect on the dog, but it made him feel better. 🙂  He’s gonna be a great dad!  Our evening ended well with some family time on the couch and no bitter feelings, just longings for left over stuffed peppers.

Moral of the Story: Put the left over food in the highest place possible when curious puppies are sniffing around.

Categories: Cooking, Family, Humor, Taiwan | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Happy Chinese New Year!

February 1oth was Lunar New Year, or more commonly, Chinese New Year.  I’m a little late posting this, but we’ve been seriously busy the past few weeks, so better late than never, right?  Without further ado, here is our first Chinese New Year experience.

Envision this: every store except 7-11 and McDonalds is closed, families travel miles to reunite, food is in abundance, red banners of blessing are on every door, families give red envelopes filled with money to one another, and fire crackers are exploding non-stop.  It is a very festive and long holiday in many Asian countries, the festivities last for almost one week.

We had the week off from work, and spent most of the time cocooned on the couch with books.  We are proud to say that our New Year’s goal of reading a book every week is being fulfilled, and then some!  We did take the occasional respite in order to walk the dog, feed ourselves, and go see the New Year’s festivities in town.

To kick off our New Year’s celebration, we were invited to have New Year’s Eve dinner with Anly and her family.  Her mother made some traditional foods, like fish, and we added some burritos to the feast!  Fish is a traditional food to eat on New Year because the Chinese word for fish 魚 can also mean abundance or more precisely “more than enough”, so people like to eat the fish to represent the hopes of an abundant year.  Tradition says you are not to eat the full fish to symbolize that you will have more than enough in the year to come.

Our small city, normally rather boring, was bustling with New Year’s festivities.  A small road in the heart of downtown was blocked off so that games and street vendors could line up to entertain and feed the crowd.  We went to the street on several occasions with different friends.  We played some games, ate Taiwanese snacks, and had a fun time!  My favorite part about this street was that a certain street vendor was selling corn dogs (my snack of choice)!!!!  In addition to the street, the cultural center in town hosted a performance group from China.  We went to see the last performance, and were really impressed.  The performance featured very talented dancers, jugglers, singers, amazing balancing acts, and so much more!

We came to Taiwan not knowing what to expect during Chinese New Year, but we enjoyed every minute of it!  Next year we hope to have just as much, if not more fun, celebrating Lunar New Year, we might even put up the red banners. 🙂

These are the infamous red banners.  Each one contains a prayer or blessing for the year to come.  These were up on every house!

These are the infamous red banners. Each one contains a prayer or blessing for the year to come. These were up on every house!

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One of the games set up for the holidays. You used bb guns to pop balloons!

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As I was walking down the street, this is what I saw! It is rare that we see this many people in one place in Penghu.

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This is a ring toss game.

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In the background they are selling chocolate covered marshmallows and tomatoes as well as sugar covered tomatoes and strawberries. In addition to games and food, some stands also sold clothing and other knick knacks.

-Liv

Categories: Family, Friendship, New Year's, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

All Aboard!

If you remember, Nick and I traveled to Tokyo a few weeks ago for our winter vacation.  We had a great time while we were there, but right now, I want to tell you about our experience with the trains.  Having been to Taipei several times, we felt like we could confidently navigate the train system in Tokyo just like we do in Taipei, and then we looked at the train map.

A little overwhelming, huh?

A little overwhelming, huh?

At first we were taken aback, but then decided that we were confident enough in our Nick’s navigating skills, that we could conquer it.

After arriving in Tokyo, we headed to the train station to start the journey to our hostel.  With map in hand, we got on the train, only to find out that the particular train we got on did not announce stops in English!  We freaked out for a moment, but then realized that we could look out of the windows and see which stop we were at, so that calmed us down. After riding for some time, we realized that the route the train was taking was different from what was on the map.  None of the stations were the same, and we I once again resorted to freak out mode.  Nick, however, kept his cool and figured out what was going on.  Soon enough he realized where we were and where the train was headed and successfully navigated us to the hostel with no more problems.  To our relief, as soon as we got on the newer trains inside the city, English announcements were made on every train.  After that, it was smooth sailing navigating the train system.

If you’ve never been to Tokyo, or a city with an expansive train system, you wouldn’t know how big the train stations are, but let me just tell you, most of them are the size of a large shopping mall, and a lot of them have a shopping mall inside of them, so you need to know your exits.  Train stations can have anywhere from 2 exits to 5, 6, 7, (a million?).  Thankfully, my master navigator thought of these tricky train traps ahead of time and planned ahead.  He found a very helpful website that gave a layout of each train station and surrounding and area pointed out what exit to take to get to certain attractions.  If you’re interested, you can view that website here.  Needless to say, that saved us tons of time and prevented us from getting lost for days inside a train station. 😉

One more thing, as Americans we are used to personal space, but on the trains in Tokyo, personal space is not a commodity.  There were so many people packed into some of those trains, that no one could move.  It was very overwhelming to me, but the native people didn’t seem to mind if they were practically leaning up against a complete stranger.  Some people would call this culture shock, but I prefer the term cultural experience.  I enjoy getting to learn about how people from different countries around the world interact and live, and riding the trains in Tokyo added to my cultural experience.

Nick said that he read that out of a city of roughly 35 million people, 20 million of them use the train system everyday.  That is a lot of people, and it makes me smile to think that for just a few days, there were 20,000,002 people riding those trains. 🙂

-Liv

Nick looking like a pro on the train.

Nick looking like a pro on the train.  I was tempted to take a picture of the really crowded train ride, but we didn’t want to be labeled the stupid tourists. 🙂

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Tokyo Station- this is one of the most beautiful train stations we saw during our time in Tokyo.

train station

Categories: Family, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Valentines Day, Taiwan Style

Did you know that Valentine’s Day was last Thursday?  We didn’t.

Valentine’s Day this year was quite a different experience than we are used to.  There were no giant teddy bears everywhere, flower shops were not boasting sales, card shops did not have shelves upon shelves filled with Valentine’s Day cards (in fact, I didn’t see one V-day card), and restaurants did not have hour-long waits.  Without the constant bombardment of romance, the day slipped by quietly.  We realized this the day after Valentine’s Day, and decided to make it special in our own way.

We went to our favorite restaurant, Camera Cuisine, and had a wonderful night filled with delicious food, wonderful conversation, and love.  We concluded the evening by watching a movie together and eating jiggle-pop (that’s the popcorn you have to cook over the stove, we don’t have a micro)!  We’ve never loved the crowds on Valentine’s Day, so this small celebration of our love was perfect!

We also spent this day reflecting on our life together and how much God has blessed us so far.  We are in a new country, seeing new things, and experiencing God in a whole new way.  Through this experience, God has brought us so much closer to Him and to each other, and that in itself is a huge blessing!  In case you didn’t know, we spend pretty much every second of every day together, the only time we aren’t together is if one of us is teaching or in the bathroom (hehe).  For some people, that may sound overwhelming, but for us, it is perfect!  We have come to understand each other better, communicate more effectively, enjoy each other’s company, pray together, and talk about God’s work in our lives.  This experience is one we wouldn’t trade for anything.

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Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23:6

 

Categories: Faith, Family | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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