Friday, April 11, 2014

Fam in pictures Part II

Babu had strange magical powers. Anytime Lenore needed to go down for a nap, Sara would hand her over to Dad. It usually took five..maybe ten minutes for him to get her to sleep.

Laura left no drawer untouched.

I wish this picture would show Babu's ingenious hinges that he made for the gate; simply three nails bent into a "u" shape.

Just tonight, we ate those vegetables that Bibi planted as sprouts. (the ones between her and Anna)

They love their Laura Ayi, who solves all problems, and rights all wrongs.

At first, Lenore wasn't sure about this sliding business, but on the way down, she changed her mind. I think she actually cried, because she wasn't being taken back up fast enough for another go.

The slide above, and this little reading room below, are right beside each other. We love coming here on our errand/ballet class day. Every Thursday. A lot of English books.

We were going for a walk after church on the last Sunday before Laura and Sara would be returning to the States. We almost forgot to capture a family photo.

Lenore and Mommy #2.

Poor Sara had no vacation. She had to do multiple surgeries here within these four walls. I think she was removing something. Appendix? At one point, she tried to hunt Joseph down to do some brain surgery. If it were to succeed, it would make him perfectly obedient. I think he managed to escape.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The fam in pictures part I

Young ladies on a stroll. I think their chant went something like, "WE are the princesESS!" again and again.

Many happy moments were spent on this swing that Ken put up.

Ballet class.

First memory game.

These dresses were gifts from Babu and Bibi that they bought in Hawaii.

Lenore was probably pointing to a "dah", a dog.

Bibi and I got special salon treatment.

Ken and Joseph took Babu to the book room, where kids go after school to do homework. Babu made a bunch of friends right away.

The camera caught a little of the excitement of morning greetings. Sara and Lenore had just arrived from the house up the hill.

Making fire.

to be continued...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The fam

Well, my parents, sisters and nieces have come and gone. I don't know how to put all the memories into words. It all came together so fast. God prepared every detail (living accommodations, itineraries, transportation) perfectly.

They came and rebooted our lives. Laura and Sara first reconfigured my computer to English mode, then tackled the house with unrelenting determination. Their goal: turn us into minimalists. I want to be one desperately. They almost succeeded. They re-arranged things, emptied surfaces, basically magically made things look clean and cozy. I was stuck in a rutt; they pulled me out. I just need to take it to the end.

Dad and Mom turned our lumps of dirt with limp, dying vegetation into a beautiful, well nourished, fenced in paradise, full of thriving plants from which we are already enjoying a great harvest. Almost every day they toiled in the garden - mom, softening up the dirt and adding a cocktail of compost, potting soil, manure and rice husks to her perfectly shaped rows, and dad erecting the fence that has proven to withstand every creature that roams our yard. They often would work together, removing huge boulders with a pickax and hoe. How can senior citizens have more energy and endurance that their offspring? I felt a little embarrassed.

The cousins got along so well! They moved seamlessly through the overly polite stage, to the relaxed enjoyment stage, to the minor tiffs stage, and finally to the comfortable co-existence stage. Lydia and Evelyn bounced back and forth between the tiff and comfy co stage a lot. Anna loved Lenore with all he heart and soul. She held her hand and walked with her for long stretches of time. After their cousins left, Anna wandered around in a gloomy silence. There wasn't much more to do in life now that there was no small, living creature to take care of. (Ken and I have decided to let her get a kitten all for herself. She as a deep urge to nurture)

We had a ladies day to the city one Thursday. We went to my favorite coffee shop. Anna, Lydia and Evelyn behaved very well, while Mom, Laura Sara and I got to sit back, drink good coffee, eat good food and talk. Heaven.

Evelyn joined two of Anna and Lydia's ballet classes. A beautiful sight to behold - four cute curly haired girls floating around in pink confections. It was a dream come true, watching them enjoying each other so much.

Sara started telling the kids a story off the top of her head to keep them entertained. It turned into a ten part saga about two monsters constantly breaking out of the zoo, and getting caught every time. They started transcribing it towards the end.

The first Sunday we worshiped at home. Dad and Joseph took turns reading through Hebrews 11, the faith chapter. One of Dad's favorites. That image will stay in my memory forever.

Driving home from city visits, Mom, Laura, Sara and I would sing together. Only during these once a year (or two) reunions can I enjoy such harmony with such familiar hymns and voices.

Every morning, Joseph, Anna and Lydia would keep on asking when they were coming down (from Ken's friend's house up the road where they were staying. Our house is too small). Then, inevitably, we would hear a deep "Hellooo" from Babu, or a bright little "Hi Joji, hi Anna, hi Lydia!" from Evelyn, or some other cheerful voice coming from up the road. Then a whole new day of fun would begin.

Oh what good times we had!

Thank you family, for all you put into this trip - cost of travel, shared expenses, gifts galore, blood sweat and tears giving our life an overhaul. Thank you. Our lives have been enriched in the deepest sense of the word by your coming.

Pictures to come.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cursive gone right

Joseph deserved those chocolate chips. 

In an effort to make cursive more interesting, I found a short detective story for his writing practice. That wasn't enough. So he thought up a little math game to go along with his writing. For every line that he wrote on twice, for example "t" (up, then down), he counts one. Then he adds that total with the total amount of letters in the word. So, "chocolate" would be 15 (I think).  Since he loves math, this helped him conquer the tedium. After a while, I started hearing him say, "10! Yes!"  Ten had become the lucky number. I just couldn't resist; I just had to throw in an incentive. He was trying so hard, after all.

So, for every "10" word that he got, he got a mini chocolate chip. In record time, his work for that day and the next was completed. I think he got a total of 14 mini chips.

All you teachers out there, this is one way to do cursive. You can always substitute kale chips for chocolate chips. By the way, I use Really handy.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rice paddies

Today Ken took the kids to help a friend plant her rice field. He said they were thrilled with the whole experience. I'm so glad they finally got a taste of what ought to be a prerequisite to long-term living in Taiwan. This is how it was done for years before machinery eased some of the pain. Backbreaking work. This happy morning cannot come even close to the hardships farmers in Taiwan faced (and still face), but at least they came a step closer to understanding the lives of so many unsung heroes. 

Thank you, Wendy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Calvin and Hobbes

was not supposed to be a part of Joseph's curriculum, but last year in the States, he started reading them at my parents' house. I don't think he understood much at that time, but he was engrossed. Just a few days ago, he was given the opportunity to borrow one from friends who kindly took care of our kids while we went out on our anniversary date. All I have been hearing these days have been snippets of C&H dialogue with a lot of laughing and between, and cute mispronunciations sprinkled here and there. What to do? I really do think it's a little too early for Joseph to be able to handle Calvin as a role-model. But I can understand the pain of having tasted and then being deprived. We three sisters laughed our way through every single Bill Watterson book. Nevertheless, I'm going quietly try to return it without him realizing it. Highly unlikely. But miracles can happen. Here's a sampling of how much Joseph likes C&H:

....hmmm....why can't I upload a video? It says there was an error....

Well, here's a picture:

Friday, January 31, 2014

flip flops

This is a regular occurrence.
I don't know how Lydia does it. She consistently loses her flip flops. It's almost like she hasn't lived each day to the fullest until one or both flip flops are missing by bedtime. Well, today we were rushing go to our neighbor's (who kindly invited us for a Chinese New Year feast for the second year in a row) house on time, when we discovered that Lydia's flip flops were lost once again. Fine, go barefoot, was my immediate response. Anna's immediate response was to take off one of hers, and give it to Lydia. The problem was solved, and off they went, both happy and content. 
I need to be more like Anna. 
Her heart has always been very big and very soft. She loves to take care of Lydia. Maybe God hides Lydia's flip flops just to give these two sisters a chance to share a sweet memory.