Adventures living as expats.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tane Family Visit

Last weekend Yan and Tane, who live in Hong Kong, came to visit with their two beautiful daughters and we had such a wonderful time hosting them.  Hux loved playing with the energetic girls and thrived with all the extra attention and snuggles from them.  Their visit passed way to quickly, but luckily we were able to squeeze in a great mix of activities and delicious meals.  We're already looking forward to our next reunion, hopefully in Hong Kong or Macau.

On the first day we headed to the National Art Musuem which is always impressive and amazingly FREE to everyone.  We checked out the main floor exhibits while Ariana and Hux napped in their strollers.  Next we had a fantastic lunch including bubble tea at the famous tea house, Chun Shui Tang.  After some confusion around the queuing system at the children's play area of the museum, we determined that it was a long wait and opted to head to a nearby park instead so the kids could blow off some steam.
First trip to the play ground
Anaiyah shows Hux the ropes while Arianna runs laps
Hux really wants to join the fun!
Almost had all three of them looking at the camera
The following day (Monday) Jeff had to go into work so Hux and I had a relaxing day while the Tane family explored around our neighborhood.  They kept the kids entertained with art classes, parks, shopping, and lunch at our favorite vegetarian friendly resto.  That evening we went out for a fantastic hot pot dinner coached along by Yan who kindly customized dipping sauces for each of us and not surprisingly picked the best broth of the night - miso milk.
Say hot pot!
On our last day together we headed out for brunch at Next Door Cafe so that everyone could have a break from my chia seed breakfast pudding experiments.  Afterwards we loaded up the mini van and headed to the Nike employee store where we certainly did some damage and Tane won the award for best new gear.  Afterwards we stuffed ourselves full of xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung and then headed back to the apartment for naps all around.   For the finale that evening Yan spoiled us with a delicious and healthy home cooked meal that far surpassed anything that has come out of our kitchen to date.
Brunch crew
Six dishes including chicken, fish, and lots of veggies
Ready to dig in - where is Anaiyah???

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Weekend Getaway to Yangmingshan

Jeff had a 4 day weekend so we loaded up the van and headed out on our first road trip with baby Hux.  Yangmingshan is a national park in the Northeast of Taiwan with beautiful forests and mountain peaks.  We booked a "family friendly" hotel close to the park that had onsite hot springs and a few restaurants to make evenings more convenient.  Jeff saved the weekend by remembering the crib as we were about to leave the parking garage and ran back to our apartment to grab it.  The drive went smoothly and Hux managed to sleep almost the entire way.  On our first night we relaxed, walked around the hotel grounds, and took a dip in the hot springs - our first time in Taiwan!

Thank you Hux for napping nearby while Mom and Dad soaked in the springs
Beautiful sunset and cherry blossoms from the deck at the hotel
Loved the robes the hotel provided! 
View from our hotel room
The next day we stuffed ourselves to capacity at the breakfast buffet - so many choices and of course we had to try them all.   We then headed into the park where we opted for a stroller friendly walk with beautiful views and lots of greenery for Hux to look at along the way.  
Views along the Erzihping Trail
Picnic area at the end of Erzihping Trail 
So happy to find a stroller friendly path
By the time we were done with our walk, we were starving so Jeff found us a local eatery where we managed to order enough food to feed a large family.  It was worth the wait and holiday traffic as the food was delicious!  We observed some regulars expertly bagging up a huge pot of soup in what looked like supermarket fruit bags hanging on the wall.  Afterwards we followed suit with our leftovers and had a lovely picnic for dinner later on.
Anxiously waiting for our smoked chicken and pork belly
Chicken foot 
Part of our spread 
Bag your own!
After our outing, we excitedly headed to the indoor swimming pool for Hux's first swim lesson.  He's turning into such a water baby and loved splashing around in the pool.
Is it possible to love this little cutie any more?
Everyone (even bald babies) must wear swim caps in Taiwan
On our way out of town the next morning we stopped at Yehliu Geopark which hosts unique geological formations.  It was a quick but fun stop and Jeff hit another dining home run on the way out with a local restaurant where we ordered a fish cooked in sea salt and seasoned with lots of garlic, ginger, and Chinese black beans.  It reminded me of my Dad's famous steamed fish which has very similar flavors.  
Tired but loving our getaway
Yehliu Geopark 
Handsome Gagatko boys
My best hairdo EVER!
Our trip finale was a stop at Fi and Dan's in Taipei.  They are always amazing hosts and spoiled us with French cheese, Australian BBQ, Fi-gronis, bubbles, wine, and lots of baby soothing for little Hux who caught a cold and was uncharacteristically cranky.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

5 months

This month you had your first babysitter and it went great for both Mom (who opted for a massage) and you (who had a personal nap assistant to rock you each time you stirred).  You haven't developed any fear of strangers yet so it was easy for you to warm up to Jasmine and you were such a good boy for her.  You are standing with support now and love to stand on the counter with Dad holding you while I'm making dinner.   Much to our joy, you love the outdoors and can spend an hour digging your feet in the grass and looking around at the trees and plants.  

  • Size: You weigh 18 ½ pounds and at 5 months we've started buying clothes for 9 months since you've been growing out of onesies and pjs faster than we can buy them.
  • Eating: You've been loving solid foods and have been eating a small "meal" for breakfast and dinner.  Breastmilk is still most of your nutrition, but it sure has been fun having you at the table with us.  You like to cluster feed in the late afternoon/evenings so introducing solids has given me a window to enjoy dinner with Dad.  So far you've tried rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes (your favorite so far), squash, pumpkin, avocados, bananas, and green beans.  
  • Sleep: You are sleeping so much better at night which coincided with starting solids.  You usually sleep around 8 hours straight and wake-up for one feed at around 3 or 4 AM.  I can typically get you back down for a few hours without too much effort.  Nap times are still much more difficult and we're trying to get into more of a schedule with 3 naps per day which are typically short ~30-45 minutes.  
  • Play: You've taken a big interest in Oolong and love to pet her and pull on her and grab onto her beard hair.  She is so sweet and gentle with you and makes sure to be nearby whenever you sit in Bumbo.  We also started a music group this month and you can usually make it through about 30 minutes before the excitement wears you out and you fall asleep in my lap enjoying all the noise.  
  • Bath:  You still love your baths and a massage afterwards.  Unfortunately your neck float is getting a little snug so we'll need to switch it up soon and move you to sitting baths.

First bites

Best buds

Dad thought this shot looked like a baby boudoir photo
Solids can be a messy endeavor
One of our favorite family activities is a picnic in the park and the weather lately has been so nice for it
Feeding the sheep at Happy Cow Ranch
Like father like son, your second pair of matching shoes
Favorite activity - standing with dad
Showing off your wheels
Our weekly brunch at Juggler, our favorite local cafe
Rainy day antics

Sunday, March 5, 2017

4 Months

This month was full of many firsts - first plane ride, first time to see America, first passport stamp, first time meeting all your relatives, first jet lag, first cold, and first snow sighting.  You traveled like a champ and we are super excited to take a few more trips in the upcoming months.  You've been slowly losing your hair and are almost completely bald on top with another bald spot starting to appear in the back.  Your eyes are still baby blue and this is often the first thing that strangers comment on, especially here in Taiwan.  I love taking you to the park because there are so many people that want to say hi to you and you seem to adore all the attention.  

  • Size: You weigh 16 ½ pounds and are about 25 ½" tall.  Your 3-6 month clothes are getting really snug and I can't help being a little sad about retiring these adorable outfits.
  • Eating: You are so much faster now but becoming more and more easily distracted while nursing.  You often look up at me to get my attention for an extra smile and chat.  You are also mesmerized with anything I'm eating or drinking and can't take your eyes off it.  Our pediatrician gave you the green light to slowly start on the solids which we've been really excited for!
  • Sleep: We all struggled big time with the sleep this month likely caused by a combination of jet lag, teething, a cold, and being overstimulated by all the new activities.  Your nap and bedtime schedule were all over the map during our 3 weeks in America so its not surprising that most nights you woke 2-4 times and also had trouble getting a good nap.   
  • Play: You've begun getting tired of the same toys day in and day out and are sure to let me know when you need to mix things up a bit.  You've also taken a much bigger interest in feeling and exploring different textures and have a few books that are great for this.  We've been going to play group for a few weeks and you love charming the other moms in the group or sleeping through all of the commotion.  
  • Bath:  We've mostly stopped using the baby bath tub and now use your float ring and put you in the big bath tub.  You love to kick around somedays and other days just enjoy relaxing and floating.  

Dad is working hard on the walking practice

First snow sighting!
One of my favorite outfits
First time in a high chair at Grandma and PapPap's house
Happy Hux!
Story time with Elmo and Dad
I LOVE this sleepy face
Baby jet lag is so sad.  We had to try to keep you up during the day so you would be able to sleep at night.
A little bit of Mt Hood love from Tav and Jenny
Stylish outfit for Maya's birthday party
Goof ball

Friday, March 3, 2017

Huxley Meets the Family

Our first trip home to introduce Huxley to the family surpassed all expectations.  Jeff and I hadn't been home in over a year and a half so we were excited for a dose of America and of course overjoyed to show off our amazing baby.  We knew that the 20+ hours of travel with a baby would be tough so we buckled up for anything that would come our way and had bags and bags of diapers, wipes, burp bibs, toys, extra outfits, etc.  Before our flight from Taipei to SFO, we didn't even think to buy extra waters and wow breastfeeding on an airplane for 12 hours can really dehydrate a rookie mom.  Jeff and I took turns sneaking back to the kitchen area to grab the extra 8 oz water bottles.  We won't make that mistake again!  We focused so much on the flights that we didn't think much about baby jet lag and how big of a challenge that would be.  Luckily all of Hux's lost sleep was made up for in extra love and cuddles from family.

Leaving Taichung
Gone are the days of traveling with just a carry on.  On the way back we had 2 additional bags!
Hux is ready for his first plane ride
He managed to sleep a few hours in the bassinet, seems miraculous that he didn't feel claustrophobic
Hux was excited to meet everyone and managed to push past his exhaustion in order to charm his new admirers.  We recruited my parents to baby sit one night and Jeff and I hit the town for our first date in several months.  We arrived home in time to witness the little man polish off the last of 15 ounces of breast milk that we left with Grandma and Pap Pap.  This number doesn't mean much to most people, but it is a LOT for a 3 month baby to eat in just 2 hours.  We were hoping it would translate to a full nights sleep but the jet lag still got the better of us.  While we were in Carson, we also managed to take a trip up to Lake Tahoe and didn't take even a single picture.  I give you my word that it was beautiful.
Meeting Desta and the cousins
Nap time with Cousin Morgan
Cuddles with Great Grandma
Bundled up for the snowy weather
Snow strollin'
First time facing forward in the carrier, Hux was thrilled to take in the view
For our short time in Portland, Jeff found us a great BnB with 2 bedrooms so we could stay together with Grandma G.  She checked out every single children's library book in Salem and took on story time.  He's going to be reading in no time!  We caught up with our friends one night at the delicious Mexican restaurant Xico - yummmm.  We also made it to the employee store where Grammy bought Hux his first pair of air maxes.   They are adorable but getting shoes on a baby requires a lot of patience and is often followed by one falling off within the first 10 minutes.  Jeff also took us all on an outing to eat at some food carts and walk around the park under St. John's bridge.  What a beautiful neighborhood and such a nice ending to our 3 week trip that flew by.  We arrived home exhausted but so glad we made the trip and very happy to be reunited with Oolong.
Reading with Grandma G
Showing off his new kicks
Family outing to St John's bridge
Exhausted but having a blast
Sunrise on our flight out of PDX