Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easter Dinner

Steve and Joseph can complain all they want about having to live with eleven girls, but give them the chance to do something like create a table center piece and they are all over it.




For Easter Sunday, I cut some kiwi to look like little Easter baskets and decided it would be fun to make a table center piece for Easter dinner. I jokingly told Steve to go find some flowers. Five minutes later the boy turns up with a bouquet of flowers he picked outside. Hello! I hired him on the spot!




Then I enlisted Joseph's help in constructing a bunny out of a hard-boiled egg.

The egg was still a little raw inside so, Joseph had to deal with some bunny leakage on his hand, but he pulled through it.



My proteges hard at work.



Look at that attention to detail!




Steve even came up with the idea to use some bed sheets for the table cloth (we're in Taiwan...we have to improvise).











A good time was had by all...























Oh and a shout out goes to my mom and dad for sending me a fabulous Easter package.
They don't celebrate Easter here but our school had planned a big Easter party for the kids. I realized an hour before the party that I needed to fill up 120 water balloons for the balloon toss. Fact: One out of every 3 Taiwanese balloons has a hole in it or completely malfunctions. But amazingly, my Easter package filled with 'Made in America' candy was delivered just in time for the party. Oh and they also sent me a TON of gum! Yay! The gum here lasts about two seconds and for some strange reason, a lot of the gum is cough drop flavored. Anyway, the balloon toss was fun but I forgot my camera so all I have is a picture of me and my gum.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sun Moon Lake

Saturday we went on a branch trip to Sun Moon Lake. Our first stop was a tour of the Chung Tai Chan Monastery.




We saw some amazing statues and monks and nuns with shaved heads and long robes.












This was our nun tour guide.
































This is the first Patriarch of Chinese Chan Buddhism, Bodhidharma
















At the end of the tour, they gave us flowers to make an offering to this Buddha that represents "the transformation Buddha."





























We stopped at the Wenwu Temple overlooking Sun Moon Lake.
This is a picture of the Year of Steps at Wenwu Temple. There are 366 steps representing each day of the year. You can buy a wind chime at the temple where the temple workers pass it through incense and then you can write your wishes on it and hang it next to your birthday.













My birthday!!!










Joseph goofing off on the top of the Wenwu Temple.
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Tzuen Pagoda








































Walking up the spiral staircase inside the pagoda.
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View from the top of the pagoda.
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drumming




















Later, we ate at this restaurant and Tammy is my new hero for being gutsy enough to eat a fish eyeball.
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Friday, March 14, 2008

I miss my I-Pod

I lost my I-Pod. I am very sad. I left it on a bus on my way to Taichung. Very sad. I miss it everyday and hope it comes back to me. Just wanted to put that out there.


Anyway, moving on. Here's a hodge-podge of stuff I've been up to lately:
I have a fourth grader whose parents own a restaurant and invited the teachers who teach their four children to eat dinner there. Tammy's parents are here visiting from Logan, Utah and they came too.
Our table was filled with special dishes that are typically eaten on holidays. I tried everything even though I have a strict policy against mystery meat. On the left, I'm actually about to suck the meat out of a little clam shell...something I would never do under normal circumstances. I even tried some of the eel...not a fan. There were these little fishes that were battered and deep fried whole (I could still see their beady black eyes)...I couldn't do the head and tail but I ate the body. I loved the deep fried shrimp and the veggie dishes that they served us.

















The next day, we visited this temple in Chung Wa. There was a huge Buddha statue and a fountain show set to music.
















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Thursday night, we went to see a performing arts group in Taichung. I just have to give props to Whitney and myself for driving all the way to Taichung by ourselves with only a map and crazy Taiwanese street signs to guide us. Whit drove and I navigated. When we were stopped at red lights, we would try to ask other drivers next to us which way to the University by pointing to our map. We had to pick alternate routes when things like a cement barricade or forks in the road that weren't on our map came along, but we made it. Very few street signs are in English so it's disorienting when you can't always figure out where you are until you match the symbols on the streets signs with the symbols on the map. I would ask Whitney to help me look for symbols that looked like a battle ax or whatever else I could associate a symbol with. But as always, people here are very friendly and helpful. One guy even let us follow him on his scooter to find a parking spot and then helped us by lifting and moving other scooters over so we could squeeze ours into a spot.

The performance was great. I should write more but you can click here if you want to see a little bit more. Afterwards, there were Taiwanese reporters asking what we thought of the show. Whitney and I felt a little ridiculous answering questions, when really the only qualification we have is being American. They took our pictures and our names so we just might be quoted in some Taiwanese paper.



Here's a picture from Bunny's birthday.


We brought her a card and some cookies. (Bunny is one of the secretaries...she's in charge of getting us our requests for things like science experiments or kitchen activities.)

My little pizza makers.























4th grade science experiment










Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wulai






Our trip to Wulai was definitely one of my favorites so far.








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At the top of this gondola ride is a resort with a gorgeous koi pond where we rode around in row boats.



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There was a mountain training ropes course that was soooo much fun.












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After our long day, we decided to find a hot spring resort and soak in a hot tub. Because of the language barrier, we didn't ask questions and found out after changing, that swimsuits were not allowed.

So here's the refund we got back.

The women there probably thought we were crazy because we refused to go "skinny dipping" in the hot tub. It was pretty funny.


Hot chocolate at Starbucks in Taipei, waiting for the train.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This Is Why I'm Here (Warning: Viewers may experience toxic levels of cuteness.)

We had only been teaching kindergarten for three weeks when we found out some government paperwork restrictions would require us to temporarily change our schedules. We all thought it was pretty funny that Steve and Joseph had to switch over to teaching the 3 and 4 year old morning kindergarten classes until the paperwork issues were resolved.

After several weeks, I thought it was time to go and assess the damage, half expecting to see kindergarteners bouncing off the walls, hanging from the ceiling...mass chaos. Instead, what I found was a bunch of little lemmings hanging all over these guys with looks of complete adoration on their little faces...where is the loyalty?
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Kid dominoes!
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Really, is there anything cuter than little kids bouncing? video


I kinda' miss these little stinkers.
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Stanley told me one once that he didn't want to sit by me... I asked him to recreate the moment on film, however, due to a lack of theatrical training, he was unable to deliver his lines with the level of emotion given in his original performance.
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Kindergarten Feeding
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There is some serious snack-time discussion going on here...I had no idea 3 year olds were so interested in quantum physics.









Here are some of my pipsqueaks...they are a lot of fun...















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We had fun making kites and flying them around.




Right now, we're working on decorating these "crab shells" made from playdough. We read A House For Hermit Crab by Eric Carle about a crab who decorates his house with the sea creatures he finds on the ocean floor.


So, in case you're thinking it's all play and no work here...you're right. It's all play...and I'm loving every minute of it.