Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year - Family Adventure

Happy New Year!  We did not make it past midnight, we are just that entertaining that we can't even stay awake till midnight.  We also were dealing with Little M having a temperature and just not feeling good.  Thankfully his fever broke and we decided that it would be fun for the boys to take the train downtown Hsinchu.  We live probably a 5 minute drive away from downtown and we go into the downtown every day to bring Little N to school but we really don't make a habit of going down there to explore.  For one John really isn't a fan of the crowds and for two the kids get a little anxious when there are crowds of people because they get touched and people want to take pictures of them.  But we are making it our goal to make some changes in our life - one of them is getting out to see where we live and make sure the kids get used to crowds.  We live in Taiwan and crowds are a part of life.

We have a train station that is about a 5 minute walk (depending on the lights) away from us and we always talk about taking the train more but we never follow through.  With Little N having a day off from school, which I absolutely love, it made sense for us to take the train downtown.  The boys absolutely love taking the train for them there is something magical and they love watching as the buildings go by as the train moves to the next stop.
It was a very quiet day downtown because of it being a holiday so while there were people walking around there weren't as many as there could have been.  So we went into a couple of stores, walked around to see what there was and then went to an open market.  It still shocks me to see people butchering and selling meat out on the street.  They are set up on tables or carts so it's not like the meat is on the floor but just takes some getting used to.  I am very confident that I will never get used to it. John and I always talk about how we should take pictures of various things we see that are just different than what we grew up with and again this is another thing we have decided we are just going to step out of our comfort zone and ask if we can take a picture or just take the picture instead of just staying we will take it another day. The butchers were fine with me taking pictures and just kept on working like I wasn't taking their picture.
We then walked to one of the malls because Caristy wanted to check and see if one of the stores had Mountain Dew (one of the things that I miss) and when we got to the mall we saw that one of the aboriginal tribes was giving a musical performance.  The kids were fascinated by the music that they were playing.  It was really neat to listen and see.   We went to the store and found out that nope they aren't selling Mountain Dew anymore and because Little M was starting to not feel good we decided to cut our trip short and go home, we took a bus back to the train and went home where we spent the afternoon taking a nap, watching some kids movies and playing wii.  It was a nice New Year Day!

Huilai Hot Spring

We went with friends to Huilai Hot Springs.  It is a really nice area that you can go to and pay to sit in hot tubs outside.  It was a little chilly out but it was perfect for sitting in the hot water.  There were a variety of different pools - lukewarm pools, freezing cold pools and hot tubs.  Now that we know what to expect when we go there we will be better prepared - make sure to bring longer towels for the kids so that when we can take a break from the water the kids stay plenty warm and make sure to bring toys for the kids to play with in the water.   We had a blast there with our friends and it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon....I only wish that Little M was feeling better because he wasn't feeling the best....he really enjoyed the water but was just very snuggley and just wasn't his usual self.  I can't wait to go back again.
 When you get to the place you need to shower and wear a swim cap -- I need to buy a new swim cap because the plastic cap gives me a headache after wearing it for a long time.  I love Little N's and Little M's swim caps they are so cute!
 Snuggles with two of my kids.  This was towards the end of our time and I could tell that we needed to get going because Little M was just fading fast with not feeling good. Poor kiddo.  Little H was just super snuggley because of the water and she was ready for her nap.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

VEF - Baptisms

One of the things that I have enjoyed about Victory English Fellowship is trying to figure out how best to help the people attending the service.  I've loved watching the toddler Sunday School class grow and change.  I have enjoyed watching John give children's messages and just involving kids in the church service. (I have a whole post percolating on that)  What I have also appreciated is other people wanting to be involved in the church service and giving a Children's message. Thank you to everyone who works with kids sharing the Gospel to them. 
Another thing I love about this church is that it's so different from my previous churches.  While we have been at VEF there have been a lot of students, adults and parents of infants who have made the decision to be baptized   I've enjoyed watching and listening to everyone's story about how they came to Christ and made the decision to be baptized. Praying for those who have been recently baptized and to those who are still deciding if they want to take the step of being baptized and following Christ.  What has your Christian journey been?  Have you always been a Christian and can't pinpoint when you accepted Jesus as your savior or do you remember when exactly God was pulling on your heartstrings, knocking at the door asking to be let in?  So thankful to be a part of the body of Christ and it doesn't matter if what denomination we belong to once we accept Jesus as our savior, we are all part of the family of God.  What a wonderful thing! 

Playing at the park

John decided that he wanted to go hiking and I promised the boys that we could go to the park.  Thankfully the kids did a great job listening to me and we enjoyed the gorgeous weather outside.  I absolutely love this playground for the quietness of it, for the ability to watch the trains go by.  It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday. 
 Little N telling me that he had just woken up from a nap on the slide.
 Little H watching her brothers play. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Fun Family Adventure

Probably our smartest move was to take both Christmas Day and the day after Christmas off for Little N's school.  He was supposed to go to school both on Christmas Day and today but we just made the decision that we wanted to be able to relax, spend time as a family and talk to our family today.  It was such a great day because the kids could talk to family, they could play with their new stuff and we could be together as a family.

We also went on a walk and a little adventure around our neighborhood.  We have started the kids on an allowance. John wanted to teach them the importance of tithing, saving and spending.   It's worked out very well - every Sunday morning the kids make sure that I take their money for God and they give it to God during Chinese Sunday School.  We have a couple different things that we are saving for one is long term and we aren't letting them touch that till they are 18 years old and then we have another container for saving for something special, which John hopes will teach them delayed gratification and the importance of saving for something that we really want and the final one is money that they can spend at 7-11.  Each week they have enough money to buy a candy and a yogurt drink at 7-11.  It's super cute to watch them figure out what to buy, give the cashier their money and then take their receipt, they are so proud of themselves. Hopefully we can keep this up because I think it's teaching them some important skills about money.
After our trip to 7-11 we took the kids to the park and let them play on the playground equipment.  Little H has really taken off on her walking and is excited to just toddle along whenever she is able to.  She also so badly wants to keep up with her brothers and I'm sure that this will be the case for the rest of her life.
All right so I had some fun on the playground equipment too. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The twenty fifth day of Advent - Christmas Day

Merry Christmas!  This morning we awoke to Cat in the Hat wearing some of the boys Christmas presents.  The kids didn't mind that the cat in the hat was wearing their new inside shoes they were just excited to have shoes to wear inside again.
Merry Christmas again!  Christmas morning reminds me of the Christmas memories I have as a child.  The excitement of waking up in the morning and realizing that the Christmas stockings were filled and that there were all sorts of Christmas presents under the tree that we could open up....however we couldn't open any of the presents until we did our Christmas program and listened to the Christmas story - Luke 2.  I used to dislike strongly the preparations of reading our poems, playing our Christmas songs and performing but looking back and watching how ridiculous we were as kids, those times are some of my favorite memories.  Listening to the Christmas message and each of us as family members praying...listening to those prayers - just fill my heart with joy.  So sad that we can't celebrate with family this year.

However we woke up to the wonderful child like excitement that our kids had knowing that Christmas morning had finally come and enjoyed torturing our kids making them wait to open up their presents (just like my parents did).  We got breakfast ready - caramel rolls (I think that might be a yummy tradition), then we listened to Daddy read the story of Jesus birth (our final Advent activity) and prayed in thankfulness for the wonderful gift that we have that Jesus was born and we could celebrate his birthday on this day.  Then we let the kids open their stockings and after that close their eyes as we brought out all the presents that we had from grandparents, and loved ones.  The boys were so excited to open their gifts and everything was met with the exciting exclamation -- "This is my favorite present!" I love this age.
After we opened our gifts and played with them, we went over to a friend's house for a Christmas party.  We had lots of fun and we were able to see how our friends have their own Christmas traditions and foods that they eat during Christmas.  So thankful for our dear friends who are willing to spend time with us and help us feel like we are a part of a family even though our own families are so far away.
We had pinata's to crack open, we had a Finnish Elf Song & Dance, and so many yummy foods to enjoy.  So thankful for the chance to experience how other's celebrate Christmas.

Our Scripture verse for today was actually our family memory verse for the 25 days of Advent. What beautiful news! -- Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

The twenty fourth day of Advent

Cat in the Hat was jealous that the boys got to eat candy canes last night so he went into the box and got as many candy canes as he could so he could eat them also.  The boys liked waking up in the morning and also having another candy cane because the cat in the Hat hadn't eaten them all so they could eat another one that morning.
 It seems strange to me that over here in Taiwan today is just a normal day.  Christmas over in Taiwan isn't a holiday, most businesses are open and so are the schools.  Little N went to school today on Christmas Eve because we don't really have a tradition of doing anything during the day as a family in preparation for Christmas.  We mostly do stuff in the evening time on Christmas Eve.  However we did decide that we were pulling him out of school on Christmas day and the next day so we could spend time together as a family. Today was definitely a tough day for me because I was remembering all my holiday traditions that I did with my family.  My dad would go shopping on Christmas Eve and find his gifts then bring them to me so that I could wrap them up and place them under the tree for my mom.  Then on Christmas Eve night we would get together with all of my dad's family to hang out as a family - playing games, eating, doing a white elephant gift.  It was always a time of fun and I always looked forward to that time.  My grandma would make rice cream and we would eat it.  So I've tried to take some of my favorite traditions and bring them into my family traditions.

After picking up Little N from school we went to Big City (a mall) so that the kids could pick up some Christmas presents for one another and for their dad.  I also wanted to get some stuff for the kids to fill their stockings.  It was kind of a nod to my dad shopping the day before Christmas however it was hard because the boys wanted to buy stuff for themselves and not for others.  Still got to work on that.  Stephanie gave the boys and Little H a present that they could open on Christmas Eve so the boys were very excited to open up their present.  Little H got her first little shopping cart perfect for walking all over the place with, Little M got an ambulance and Little N got a building set.  Perfect gifts for all the kids.
We got home and we had to get ready for the Christmas Eve Candle Light Service.  This is one of my favorite traditions as a family and was actually our activity for today.  Getting together as a community of believers to sing songs and read scripture. This year I let Little N hold his candle and be responsible for it.  I was a little nervous but he was very careful and good the whole time.  Little M had his candle and then got antsy so we blew his out.  I kept mine for a little bit before Little H decided that it was time for her to try and touch the pretty light, which was when we blew out my candle.  It was a beautiful was to prepare for the birth of Jesus on Christmas day.
When we got home from Church we got the kids ready for bed and then I set out to make my rice pudding so that I could enjoy my hot rice pudding on Christmas eve and my rice cream on Christmas Day.  Yummy! Wrapping Christmas presents and eating rice pudding was the perfect way to end my day.
Our Scripture verse for today was - Luke 2:6 & 7 – While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.                     

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The twenty third day of Advent

We found Cat in the hat in the boys tent.  We had just set it up for the kids to play in yesterday and the Cat thought that this looked like a cozy place to take a nap.  Little N thought that today was the only day where the Cat in the Hat had behaved himself.  
 We are now getting into our busy time of the Christmas season where you are doing so many activities and you could lose sight of the true meaning and the reason why we celebrate Christmas.
 The fourth Sunday of of Advent.  
 We had all the Sunday School kids sing Christmas songs during the VEF service. Little N & Little M's class sang two songs - Away in a Manger and Are you ready? They were so cute and singing and doing all the motions.  I loved watching all the kids perform.  We also had the older Sunday School kids sing and then had a gospel choir sing songs also. It was so inspiring to just watch everyone sing and be involved in sharing the gospel and telling the good news that Jesus was born.
 After our English service we brought the kids up to Chinese Sunday School where they got ready for their Christmas program.  Both Little N & Little M were asked to be Sheep they practiced their song during the SUnday School time and then we picked them up and had McDonald's then sent them down so that they could get their hats on and get ready for the performance.  They did such a good job, they went up with their group, singing and dancing.  Little M just stood there and played with his hat but you could tell the difference in Little N (what a year does) because he was singing the songs and doing the motions with the rest of the little kids.  It was SO much fun to watch my kids share the Christmas message and just be salt and light.  I was so very proud of them.  
Here are my Christmas cuties.  All dressed up for Christmas.  Little N dressed himself and was very proud of his Christmas tie.  Little H just looked adorable in her little Christmas dress from Great Grandma. 
 We had a little bit of a break in the afternoon until 7 pm.  We were asked to do a Christmas program in our community.  We had no idea what to expect but we had asked for help from people from VEF - we had people who helped make cookies, who found and put together the candy gift that we gave to the kids and then we had people who came to help sing and talk with people.  We had lots of fun.  We sang Christmas songs, John was able to give a Christmas message about why we celebrate Christmas. Then we had some from our church dressed up as Santa Claus and posed with the kids so parents could get pictures.  We weren't sure how many people to expect and it was a very chilly night but we probably were able to share with 150 to 200 people.  It was pretty amazing.
 The boys were very excited to see Santa Claus. They also got their candy cane which they of course ate right away which was our activity for the 23rd day of Advent. 
 Our amazing volunteers who helped sing songs and visit with people.  So thankful for them taking the time to share the wonderful Christmas message.

Our Scripture verse for today was found in Matthew 1:21 – She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Little H is a little walker

Little H has been cruising around furniture, crawling around super fast and getting more daring with taking more steps.  However this week she has decided that crawling is for the worms and would much rather attempt to walk where ever she is able to.  She walks almost everywhere and is very proud of herself as you can see from these pictures.  I can't believe that my baby is walking at 11 months.  She needs to slow down and not try to be such a big girl. 
 Yes I realize now that it was probably mean for me to not get her dressed and force her to walk in her sleep sack but this just proves how good of a walker she is if she is walking around in a sleep sack.
 Walking to her daddy or actually walking to the snowman rattle.  My little big girl! 
Welcome to our blog! We try to keep this current for family and friends. We moved to Taiwan in February 2011 and are trying to keep in contact with loved ones through this blog. We love comments and will respond back if you have questions or comments!! Thanks for checking us out!!


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