Christmas Time – a book review and giveaway!

I received an email offering to let me review a new Christmas book titled Christmas Time – It’s All About Jesus!. Since my daughter is newly home from Taiwan, I thought it would be fun to have a children’s book about Christmas to read to her.

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My favorite part about this book is the illustrations. The cover is beautiful and each page is colorful and cute. It’s definitely a warm feeling book. The little mouse on each page was a cute touch! The story is simple while still covering all of the basics. The angel’s visit to Mary. Mary visiting Elizabeth. Joseph’s dream. Travel to Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth. The shepherds hearing the angels’ song and visiting baby Jesus.

My daughter seemed slightly interested in the story. When the book arrived, she pointed at the cover and said “Jesus.” She’s not a Christian and recognized that this is a story about the birth of Christ. She listened as I read and followed along. The word choice was too complex for her, though, as she is still learning English. Miracle, wonder, engaged, greeting – all words too hard for her. She was more interested in the illustrations than the actual story.

I wish the publisher had chosen a simpler font for the text on each page. It’s kind of hard to read. The R’s and N’s look very similar and a couple times I had to pause to make sure I was reading the text properly.

I will try rereading this book to my daughter closer to Christmas, as I’m sure her English will improve between now and then. Maybe she’ll enjoy it more once she can understand more of the story.

Aneko Press was kind enough to provide me with an extra copy to give away! Just leave me a comment and I will draw a winner on Tuesday, November 17th.

“Not fair!”

It fascinates me that as much as I have read and listened to other parents and mentors talk about the Why behind my child’s behavior, knowing doesn’t easily combat the whining.

These days we are having complaints about fairness. She doesn’t know the word “fair” in English, but her complaints basically amount to “it’s not fair!”

I keep wondering why she is acting out this particular way. Does she worry that if she didn’t get exactly the same amount of ice cream as me or play video games the exact same amount of time, that she’s not loved? Does she worry that if she doesn’t max out whatever activity or food that she will never get it again?

And how do you address this? Does it go away in time when she learns to trust us? Do you teach her that life is not fair? Seems she should already know that lesson from all the time she’s spent living in an orphanage. Maybe this is her attempt at making sure that life is fair again.

Church, finally!

On Sabbath I went to church for the first time since we got home from Taiwan. I was so happy to finally attend! It felt like a breath of fresh air.

On Friday afternoon, I printed a schedule for the weekend that includes church listed as an activity on Sabbath morning. When I put it on the fridge, DoubleShot immediately came to read it. When she saw the word church in Chinese, she let out a huge, “no! I no like!” I tried to figure out what she didn’t like it and if she’s even been to church before. I didn’t learn anything.

She kept following me around the house. “You go. I go here.” I had to clarify… “I go and you stay here?” “Yes! You go and I stay here. No like.” My husband and I had agreed that if she refuses to go, one of us will stay home with her and the other will attend church. We decided that I will go in hopes that she will want to be with me instead of stuck at home with baba. No offense to baba, just that mama is the preferred parent these days…

On Sabbath morning, she tried a different tactic. “No! Why?? You stay here!” She held on to me tightly and pouted. I told her that I’m going and that I will definitely come back. I’ll be gone for two hours. “What?? Hen jiu!!” (Long time!)

We made several intentional decisions about church to help her want to go, hopefully soon. I wore jeans to church, first time ever. My church is on the more casual side and I fit right in but it felt so wrong! I made this decision because my daughter hates anything that looks girly. Skirts and dresses are a complete joke to her. If I wore a skirt to church like usual, she would think that she has to dress up to attend and that would put a roadblock in front of her.

I also decided that I would be back home exactly at the two hour mark so that she would feel reassured that I keep my word. This meant I might have to leave early, but thankfully this week church was finished on time.

While at church, I took a photo with a couple who had come over to our house for hotpot. I wanted to show DoubleShot that there are familiar faces at church! I also talked to the pastor about getting a video clip of our music service to show that church is fun, not stodgy.

When I arrived home, my daughter came tearing out of the house, yanked the car door open, and dove onto my lap. I saw a huge grin on her face as she came running at me and it felt good to be wanted. She told me that I was gone for a long time!! I showed her the time and reminded her that I promised I would be back in two hours and here I was.

My husband said that while I was gone, she took a long bath. She tends to do this as a regulation tool so I’m glad that she was able to keep herself calm. Toward the end of my absence, I sent a text message that I was on my way home. Jeff said she kept jumping up to check the front window, even as he was telling her that it will be another 20 minutes until I get home.

I don’t know how long it will take before she will agree to come to church with me. I will continue to go and invite her to come with me. She sees me read my Bible and pray so hopefully she understands that I mean my faith. And hopefully someday soon all three of us will be at church together.

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I don’t know how parents blog and parent. It seems like there is no time to do both! I used to get up before DoubleShot but she’s gotten very clingy. She senses if I am no longer in bed. Maybe 15 minutes after I get up, she comes dragging her blanket up the stairs and curls up on my lap to fall asleep again.

So my husband installed a WordPress app on my phone so that I can try writing shorter posts on the fly. We shall see if that will work until life settles down a bit more.

If anyone is still reading my blog, have a great weekend!

Mama’s thoughts

I was going to write a post tonight about our fourth day in Taiwan as we traveled from Taipei to Tainan. But that’s not really what’s on my heart tonight. We meet our daughter in only 13 hours. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts, what’s on my heart this last night of being a family of two. Tomorrow we start life as a family of three.

This trip to Taiwan has been eye-opening. I am falling in love with the country. Life here is so different than life in Bellevue, Washington and yet there are similarities. I’ve been watching the people here. They love and laugh and cry just as I do. And yet there are things that are very different. The pace of life is different here, though I can’t really put my finger on the difference. People are curious about Jeff and I as we walk down the street but are either too shy or reserved to say anything. We stand out. My daughter blends in.

Getting used to the traffic has been an adventure, but I love the way that people are confident about where they need to go and know that they can get there. Pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters, and drivers alike know where they want to go and don’t hesitate to jump out there. And yet it’s organized chaos.

I love the street life here. There are so many little family shops and stalls and food carts. Walking down the street, you see so many different types of foods and clothes and and more food for sale. You can get to everything on foot or take a cheap taxi ride. It’s just so alive.

And we’re taking our daughter away from all of this. Yes, I know we’re giving her a family and I do believe that family is more important than culture. But she’s losing Taiwan and its language and its culture. Her life in America is going to be drastically different than her life would be like in Taiwan. She chose to join our family, she said yes to the judge when asked, but I really wonder if she knew what she was saying yes to. Before we arrived in Taiwan, I didn’t realize just how much we were asking for her to leave behind.

Tomorrow we meet for the first time and I am both excited and terrified. I am excited for the possibilities of our life together. I am excited at the life and security and love that we are offering her. I am excited to get to know our daughter and learn what she’s good at, what she’s afraid of, what her dreams are, what makes her cry, what makes her laugh. I’m excited to watch our first movie together, to play basketball together, to go clothes shopping together, and to eat our first meal together.

And I am also terrified. We’ve been working toward adoption for over two years. We’ve been reading and researching older child adoption, culture loss, grief, trauma, transitions, and a host of other issues and challenges for so long. We’ve embraced the principle of “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” And so we are getting ready to meet our daughter with our eyes wide open of how hard life could be. She’s had a hard life and she’s going to have emotional scars from that. The question is how deep is her pain and how much will it impact all three of us.

I wish that I could embrace adoption as a lovely gift that’s full of joy. But I know that adoption comes from loss. Our daughter already lost both of her parents. Now she’s losing her friends, her caretakers, her culture. She’s gaining parents, security, love, and hope. Our transition could be really hard or it could be really easy or anywhere in between. Both Jeff and I want to adopt again; we have been praying and hoping for an “easy” first adoption so that we will have the courage to adopt again, to say yes to another long and emotional adoption journey.

I pray that my daughter is at peace tonight. I pray that she will have courage to face all of the changes that are coming her way. I pray that she will allow us to love her.

Taipei – Day 3

Note – I started writing this post yesterday but didn’t quite finish. It’s written from Sabbath’s perspective, even though today is Sunday.

Since today was Sabbath, we spent most of the day resting at the hotel. We were so ready for a break! I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. After breakfast, I rested awhile and had fun on Facebook before crashing back into bed at 9:30. I guess we aren’t quite adjusted to Taiwan’s timezone after all!

Yesterday, we visited a Family Mart and bought a basket full of groceries. We ate some last night and the rest today. Both breakfast and lunch were a random mix of foods but it was fun trying a bunch of new things.

Fruit sandwich! One half was peaches and one half was kiwi. I loved the peaches half. I might have to try making a peach sandwich at home.

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Vegetable and fruit yogurt. Really? Really! The yogurt tasted like peach yogurt.

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But the chunks at the bottom were corn. I never would have guessed that someone would put corn in yogurt but it was actually really good! I guess we learn something new every day if we’re willing to venture out of our comfort zone…

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I had to post this photo on Facebook and ask about the white seeded fruit. I’d never eaten it before. The consensus was Dragonfruit! How fun! Dragonfruit is on my list of foods to try and I ended up eating it before I even realized that’s what it was. I thought it was a bit bland but still good. I would definitely eat it again.

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We also got this pineapple bread.

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Yum, yum, yum. I want to eat this again too!

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Honey milk – not something I would choose to drink straight but I think it would be really good in coffee.

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The apple bread was part of our lunch. Also a really amazing tasting pastry! I’m not usually a pastry person but we’ve had some amazing Taiwanese pastries.

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Chinese Sprite. Not as sweet as what you’d find in America.

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After sundown, we headed back out on to the streets in search of dinner. We stumbled across a bustling street with tons of street vendors. I wish we could have stayed and eaten dinner there but we already had a plan in mind.

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First, we located the Hello Kitty Cafe. We are hoping to take our daughter here when we come back to Taipei next week.

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Then we ate dinner at Macho Taco, a place that claims to have authentic Mexican food. I would say it’s about as authentic as what you would get at a semi-authentic Mexican restaurant in America. It’s about half there but still delicious.

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There were several protein options available for the food. I wanted nachos and my husband ordered a burrito. Both of us chose tofu as the additional source of protein. I don’t know how they prepared this tofu but it was FANTASTIC.

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After dinner, we walked to Taipei 101 because I wanted to go inside and see what causes all the buzz about the shopping. Outside the building, they have a beautiful fountain that the kids can play in. I took a minute long video of the fountain display but will have to wait until we’re back home to load it on YouTube.

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Lots of escalators! That was my favorite part of the mall.

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A view from the top floor looking down. It was a bit dizzying.

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And the Taipei 101 mascot out front.

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Quite honestly, I don’t really see the appeal. Most of the stores were familiar to us and available at our mall at home. There were a few new-to-us stores but everything looked expensive. We power walked around each floor just to say we’ve been there but were happy to check it off our list.

We may go back with our daughter just to see the observatory. Maybe. My husband hates heights with a passion and doesn’t want to go up. I think it would be fun but it’s not on my must-do list.

After Taipei 101, we were planning to get ice cream before heading back to the hotel. However, both of us were worn out and just wanted to go to bed. We spent about three hours exploring Taipei’s Saturday nightlife and I loved how busy and vibrant it all was. I really want to come back to Taiwan and spend more time living like the locals.

Once back at the hotel, we stayed up a little bit longer just so that we could sleep all night and then crashed into bed. It was a good day!

Taipei – Day 2

Friday was our second full day in Taiwan. We had a pretty good night of sleep Thursday night and woke up ravenous. I discovered that I should have done some more pre-planning, as we had no idea where to go for breakfast. We did not include the buffet breakfasts in our hotel plan because we wanted to save money. That was our first mistake. If I wasn’t going to plan where to go each day, we should have planned on staying at the hotel. Barely awake hungry people are not the best at finding where to go for breakfast where we will be able to communicate.

After some internet searching, we discovered a little cafe within walking distance. The cafe’s website had some English so we thought it would be a good choice. We set out on foot and reached the cafe just in time to find that they were about to stop serving breakfast. When we went inside, I asked the cashier a question and got a deer in the headlights look. These girls knew about as much English as I do Chinese. After much pointing and repeating ourselves (both them and myself!), we finally ordered bagels and coffee to go. They toasted the bagels for us, packed up coffee, and sent us out the door. The bagels came with what I think was cream cheese but they didn’t give us a knife so we ate them dry on the way back to the hotel. Whoops!

So, lessons learned… don’t assume that the staff speak English simply because there is English on the website. Make sure to check what time breakfast stops, not just what time breakfast starts. And, I desperately need to gain confidence to try out my Chinese. I am shy and an introvert and have had very little speaking practice. I can understand much more than I can speak but I need to TRY. I’m not going to get any better if I don’t start trying.

We walked back to the hotel and ended up drenched in sweat. I don’t think we’re going to get used to the heat or humidity before we leave Taiwan. We’ve discussed moving to another country for awhile to experience life outside of America. Taiwan is on the short list of places to live and we would have to accept and adjust to the heat. It’s brutal!

On the way to the cafe, I noticed this picture menu hanging outside another restaurant. French fries with peanut butter and chocolate syrup. I’m intrigued!

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Once back to the hotel, we took showers and rested a bit before deciding to head back out. We needed to get more Taiwanese currency so headed to the lobby to ask my best friend the concierge how to exchange funds. He said that the front desk would do it for us! Marvelous! We traded in the last of our smaller English bills for lots of Taiwanese dollars. The exchange rate is somewhere around 1 US dollar to 30 NTD. Once that was accomplished, we asked the concierge how we catch a taxi. He asked where we wanted to go, took us outside, and showed us how to stand in a specific spot in front of the hotel so that the taxi drivers will pull up for you. He told the taxi driver where we wanted to go, gave us a hotel card to show the taxi driver on the way back, and off we went!

I’ve read numerous stories of how scary the driving is around Taiwan. Yup, yup, and yup. I won’t be driving here anytime soon and I am in awe of how everyone else manages without getting into an accident. It’s worth coming to Taiwan just to watch all of the traffic!

Twenty or so minutes later, we arrived at the National Palace Museum. While in the taxi, I discovered that I had left my cell phone at the hotel so wouldn’t be able to take pictures unless I borrowed Jeff’s cell phone. Pictures are not allowed inside the museum, so I didn’t miss too many photo opportunities. The admissions lines were long and the lobby was packed. I have never seen so many people inside a building before. I read a number of reviews that talked about the crowds, but until you see it for yourself, you’ll never believe how many people you can cram into a museum. Buying admission was very simple and we weaved around all of the tour groups to head inside.

Since breakfast was a bagel and coffee, both Jeff and I were hungry. We agreed that we would visit the teahouse first and eat lunch before exploring the museum. It took a bit of work to find the single elevator that went to the fourth floor, but once there, we were seated immediately. There was a long queue outside the door but there is an advantage to being a party of two! We didn’t have to wait for a table! Thankfully, pictures were allowed inside the restaurant so we had fun with the photos.

Both of us ordered set meal #2, which is the vegetarian option with tea. We also added an order of 蔬菜水餃, or vegetable dumplings.

Lotus stamen root tea

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Another type of tea I have never heard of, but was fantastic!

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I loved this tea set and would like to buy one for home.

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The first dish was some type of mushroom soup. There was a unique taste to the soup which I’ve never had before and would love to eat again.

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Jeff with his lunch set.

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Our order of 蔬菜水餃. Yum!!

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My whole meal minus the vegetable dumplings, since I forgot to take a picture of everything together before we devoured the dumplings.

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Dessert – not sure what type of cookie this is, but Jeff said the flavor reminded him of pistachio pudding. The cookie melted in your mouth.

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I don’t have pictures of the inside of the museum, but we had fun wandering around. I’m still amazed at the crowds of people, how busy it was. Most of those who were not in the tour groups had headphones on with a portable recorded tour. We just wandered around and enjoyed that all of the signs were in Chinese, Japanese, and English. My favorite exhibit was the paintings done on scrolls. Those are beautiful!!

After a couple hours, we decided that we should probably head back to the hotel. Both of us were getting pretty tired and we still needed to find a convenience store to buy food for Sabbath. We stopped in front of the palace and took a couple pictures on the way out.

The obligatory selfie in front of the National Palace Museum.

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We easily located the taxi circle, showed our hotel card to the gentleman standing there, and he found us a taxi and told the driver where to go. I wonder if he enjoys his job, talking with all of the people who need taxis, opening the car doors, and telling drivers where the passengers wish to go. At least it doesn’t require much English. “Where? Wait here. Ok!”

Once back at the hotel, we grabbed a reusable bag (shops charge for bags here) and headed right back out. We found a Family Mart not too far from our hotel, grabbed a hand basket, and started filling it with goodies. Finally! My Chinese studies paid off. I was able to sort of read a lot of the labels so that we knew what we were buying. We only made one mistake – the rice balls contain meat. I didn’t catch the character for meat until we were putting everything in the fridge at the hotel.

And, I found something I had been secretly hoping I would be able to try while in Taiwan. Steaming hot sweet potatoes!!

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YUM!! I want to go back and buy another before we leave Taipei. Or maybe once we come back to Taipei with our daughter. Either way, I want another hot sweet potato before we go home!

Back at the hotel, we unloaded all of the groceries and wondered why we hadn’t stopped at a convenience store earlier. They have lots of fresh food, convenient to eat and buy, and it was easy to check out with the cashier (who spoke no English!). Thankfully I could understand what he was saying and asking in Chinese and we were able to communicate. And paying here is really easy. The coins are a bit trickier but overall, Taiwanese currency is easy to use.

We turned on the television briefly just to see what was available. We were surprised by the personalized welcome message!

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A couple coffees later…

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Now this is a bagel!

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Blueberry bagel with blueberry shmear inside. Yum! We may have to buy another of these as well…

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We decided to be stereotypical Americans and buy the pizza flavored Pringles. Just because. Surprisingly, they are vegetarian! I’m not too concerned with dairy on this trip, but I am trying to avoid meat. Pizza flavored Pringles are not that great but still have that addictive Pringle quality. Blech. Haha.

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We stayed up as long as possible last night but finally crashed about 9:30. We were exhausted. All in all, it was a great day. But yes, I definitely need to learn more Chinese and start being brave enough to actually use what I know.

Taipei – Day 1 Part 2

Our first full day in Taiwan was a bit of a challenge. We were tired from having intermittent sleep on the plane and then being daytime when our bodies are used to nighttime. We were so lucky that our hotel let us check in at 7AM, even though check in isn’t until 3PM. We crashed on the bed and took a 30 minute nap, just to get a quick recharge for the rest of the day.

I have to say… being here in Taiwan gives me a new appreciation for what our daughter is about to go through. Being in a foreign country is tough! I am in love with the country but it’s hard not being able to communicate when needed. It’s hard being in another climate; it’s so hot and humid here! It’s hard to flip night and day. It’s hard not to know anyone. (Though after a couple interactions, the concierge is my new best friend!). What makes it easier for us is that we know that we get to go home in a week. For our daughter, our home is her new home. It’s a permanent change for her. It’s going to be rough and I hope I can remember how the last two days have felt as she struggles with all of the changes.

We were able to exchange some American cash into Taiwanese currency while we were still in Washington. I took a picture to share how pretty the money is here!

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I love that they have a bill with baseball players on it. It’s so fun!

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The street our hotel is located on is just gorgeous. There are trees in the center of the road and the shade is very welcome!

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People have said there are tons and tons of scooters here and they weren’t kidding! They are parked all up and down the street. We’ve only seen a few other Caucasians here and my husband and I attract a lot of attention. It’s a bit intimidating walking across the crosswalk in front of 20 people on scooters waiting to cross the intersection. I’m self-conscious because I know that I keep getting stared at.

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We weren’t sure what to eat for breakfast so we set out on foot to see what we could find. A friend had told us about a famous traffic circle where there is an ice cream shop. We stumbled across the circle and low and behold, there was the ice cream shop! We decided to eat breakfast there, as we knew the menu would be in English.

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I’m not sure what kind of tea I drank but it was fantastic! My husband thinks it was chrysanthemum tea.

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My meal was American but with a Taiwanese twist. The pancakes tasted like they came out of a Bisquick box. The scrambled eggs were pretty good. I took a bite of the mashed potatoes before realizing they had bacon in them. Whoops! The salad was the Taiwanese twist. I’ve never had salad for breakfast, but this was amazing! Very fresh lettuce and tomatoes and raisins and sprouts and some sort of vinaigrette. Yum!

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After breakfast, we decided that our first mission was to find the places we need to go next week once we come back to Taipei with our daughter. We have a Wednesday appointment at AIT to apply for our daughter’s visa. So we walked and located where the AIT office is so that we will later be able to find it without any trouble. Once there, we headed a bit further and found Da’An Park, which has been recommended by a lot of adoptive parents. We hope to take our daughter there once the visa appointment is done.

When we started walking the other direction, we suddenly noticed Taipei’s biggest icon – Taipei 101. I knew it wasn’t too far from our hotel but we hadn’t seen it yet. It was a surprise to turn around and realize it was just down the street!

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Before we left Washington, we had decided that we would visit a Starbucks in Taiwan, just to say we’ve been. Sure enough, we’ve already found three and visited one. This Starbucks was three stories tall, with the counter on the ground floor and tables and seating on the other two floors. We spent some time on the third floor, resting and enjoying our drink. I took a picture of the slogan they had displayed on the third floor wall as I think it’s rather funny. “One person, one cafe, one neighborhood at a time.” Yup, seems that they plan to take over the world!

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This Taipei Starbucks has a frappuccino that needs to be available in the US – honeycomb mocha. This is the best frappuccino I have ever had. I’m going to suggest to my local coffee shop that they offer a flavor similar to this one. I am in love! I would rather visit local coffee shops, but I may have to visit Starbucks once more just to get this drink.

Honeycomb mocha

After our refreshing Starbucks visit, we were back on the streets to find Eslite, a 24 hour bookstore. It took a bit of searching but it’s well worth the effort. I could spend hours in this store and I completely understand why the place was packed. There were people reading all over the store!

I found a Mandarin version of the Anne of Green Gables movie. I was so tempted to buy it but I wasn’t sure my daughter would like it and I couldn’t justify the price. Once I get an idea of what genre of books and movies she enjoys, I may have to buy it.

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I did, however, buy this lovely book for myself! I’m hoping that it will help motivate me to keep working on my Mandarin studies. I really want to be fluent in Chinese and have so much more to learn.

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We spent some time at the hotel in the afternoon, resting from all of the walking we had done in the morning. Once we started getting hungry again, we set out for Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant. I believe that years ago, we visiting a Loving Hut location in the US and weren’t very impressed. However, the Taipei location was wonderful!

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Both Jeff and I ordered Sichuanese hot pot. It wasn’t as spicy as some hot pot I’ve had but it was very yummy. There were a couple vegetables that I have never eaten before and have no idea what they were.

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The sauce in the bottom left of this photo was amazing. They have a self-serve bar with all of the ingredients to make a custom dipping sauce and the waitress asked if I knew how to make it. I admitted that I don’t, so she offered to make one for us. Amazing! I wish I knew what she put in it so that I can make it at home.

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After dinner we wandered around until we found a coffee shop. On the way there, I found the biggest toad I have ever seen. I couldn’t get a good photo of him before he hopped into the bushes, but I was impressed at his size.

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Ordering coffee was fun! The barista wasn’t confident in his English skills, though I thought he was doing a fantastic job. He was having a bit of trouble understanding what size drink I wanted, even though I pointed and nodded when he confirmed. I was so close to trying out my Chinese knowledge when he grasped what I was saying. I don’t know how to say “mocha” in Chinese, but I know how to say “two cups of coffee” and “size small.”

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Taipei 101 is gorgeous at night!

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We walked all the way to the base of it but it was getting late so we decided to head back to the hotel. I wish we could have stayed but we were getting tired and still needed to walk all the way back. When I totaled up all of our walking for the day, I discovered that we had covered eight miles. That’s the furthest I’ve walked in years so I’m happy with all of the exercise even though my feet are a tad sore!

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On the way back to the hotel, we crossed one of the overpasses we’ve seen on the Taiwanese television shows. It was fun getting to see all of the traffic passing underneath.

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After what felt like another 20 miles, we were back at the hotel. We stayed up for another hour or so just to try to acclimate to Taiwanese time and then crashed into bed. It was a busy, busy day and an enjoyable one! I really do like Taipei and wish we had more time to explore.

Taipei – Day 0 and 1

On Tuesday night, we finished packing up our bags and our friend Seth drove us to the Seattle airport. I was rather proud of my packing attempt, as this is our first international trip and we were packing for three people.

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Seth dropped us off at the terminal at 9:30 and our flight didn’t board until 1:30AM. The ticket agent was really nice and we had no problems getting our boarding passes printed and our bags checked. I was a bit worried our big suitcase was too heavy but it came in under the weight limit. Whew!

We sat around for a few hours, mainly just people watching. We were at the airport so late that we couldn’t order anything to eat or drink and finally had to get water out of a vending machine. What a ripoff! $1.50 for a little bottle of water. But we were thirsty and didn’t really have a choice.

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Boarding went smoothly and we were thrilled to discover that the flight was not completely full. We had no seat mate so had three seats between the two of us. The seats were comfy and we each had our own little display.

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The goal was to stay awake through the first meal and then try to sleep as much as possible. Our adoption coordinator suggested that we sleep on the flight and then stay awake all day long to try to shift our bodies to Taiwan’s timezone. It was hard staying awake until the first meal but we were hungry!

Dinner was fantastic! It was an interesting mix of American and Chinese food and all of it (except dessert) was delicious. I have no idea what the dessert was but my husband joked that it tasted like hardened jello flavored with cornstarch. Poor dessert!

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I had fun watching the flight progress on my video screen. Surprisingly, I didn’t watch any movies. Toward the end of the flight, Jeff and I watched a half hour episode on great Taipei eats. That made us hungry again. Haha.

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It was fun seeing that we flew over Japan. When I looked out the window, I saw a couple of lights below and waved to the tiny town we were flying over. Someday we’ll actually visit!

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Breakfast was congee, a Chinese savory rice dish. I’ve never had congee, but if this was authentic, I want to learn how to make it. It was fantastic!!

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We landed in Taipei to a beautiful sunrise. I was so excited to finally be in the same country as my daughter.

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Immigration went pretty well, though I did not realize there was a form I was supposed to fill out before talking to the immigration officer. He kicked me out of line and told me to come back with the completed form. He was nice enough about it but I was a bit embarrassed. Five minutes later, we ended up with a different immigration officer who asked how long I was staying and another question I’ve already forgotten. Thankfully I was able to answer satisfactorily and she waved me through! While talking with the officer, she took our photo and scanned our fingerprints. I had a bit of trouble with the fingerprinting machine but the third time’s the charm.

Baggage claim was easy and we found our hotel driver quickly. 40 minutes later and we were at our hotel! We are staying at the Howard Hotel and I would completely recommend it to other adoptive families. The front desk staff are extremely kind and the concierge has been invaluable. The room is pretty nice, though we’ve yet to sleep on the bed. It’s not as soft as our bed at home but the pillows are fluffy.

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I am in love with the bath tub in our room! And I have to include a picture of the toilet, simply because it’s a novelty to us as westerners. I have yet to figure out any of the advanced functions but the heated seat would be wonderful in the middle of Seattle’s winter!

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We are on the seventh floor and the view from our hotel is marvelous!

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This post is really long so I’m going to end here and write another about our day. I am so excited to finally be in Taiwan!

Break my heart, Lord, for what breaks Yours

Awhile ago, I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His. That’s a very dangerous prayer. If you can honestly pray that prayer, you have no idea what God will do. He has broken my heart again and again. When my heart was first opened toward adoption and orphan care, I had no idea where God was going to take me. But over the past two years, He has shown me story after story after story of children who desperately need a family. Children who desperately need to understand what unconditional love is. Children who need to know that they are loved. Valuable. Priceless.

I recently came across a description for the book titled Ghost Boy (Martin Pistorius, Nelson Books). I thought it would be an interesting book to read and review but had no idea it would move me to tears repeatedly.

In January of 1988, Martin Pistorius came home from school complaining of a sore throat. He never went back. Within a year, Martin had degenerated into a mute quadriplegic. By his fourteenth birthday he was a hollow shell, unseeing and unknowing; he spent his days at a care center, sitting blankly in front of the television while his family waited for him to die.

And then his mind came up for air.

For an unimaginable ten years, Martin would be completely conscious while trapped inside his unresponsive body, secretly aware of everything happening around him and utterly powerless to communicate it.

Ghost Boy is a memoir written by Martin after he learned how to communicate again. His story is absolutely heartbreaking. It is terrifying to hear the things that people will say or do to someone they can overpower. Because Martin didn’t have control of his body and was unresponsive when talked to, people believed he was brain dead. So they abused him both verbally and sexually.

It was an incredibly hard story to read because it happened. It’s reality. Martin is now safe from such abuse but these atrocities still happen every day to people like Martin. To children and adults who are unable to defend themselves. These events tell the victims that they are worthless, that they don’t matter. And yet they do matter. They are human beings, someone’s son or daughter or mother or father. And they are children of God.

There’s a song by Hillsong called Hosannah. The lyrics say:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me

Break my heart from what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause

I know that God called us to adopt Cin-Ru, to make her part of our family. We have many hopes and dreams for her but one of them is to give her a haven. She’s an orphan no longer and will always have our protection. Be careful when you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His. He’s broken my heart and I have no idea where He’s calling us next.