Adventures living as expats.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alishan

We recently received the bittersweet news that we'll be moving home soon.   We've always known this day would come, but our initial reaction was that it felt just a bit too soon for us.  For the past 5 years we've lived the life of expats where we've travelled the world, experienced countless wonderful cultures, met lifelong friends, learned and forgotten 2 languages, enjoyed a multitude of new tastes and flavors, and most importantly grown from a couple to a family of 4.  Throughout the numerous trials and tribulations of settling into our new homes away from Oregon, we've become a stronger family since we needed to rely on each other for our support system.  After taking a step back we're both happy to admit that we've had a extraordinary go of it and can move home with only a single regret - that we didn't forgo our cheap ways and spring for a few nights in a 5 star ritzy resort in Bali while we lived in Indonesia.

I was so glad we booked a trip to Alishan a few weeks back because this was one sight I really wanted to see before we left.  We weren't enthusiastic enough to wake up at 4am to take the train up the mountain for the famous Alishan sunrise, so we settled for a more baby friendly after breakfast departure time.  After a near sleepless night with Hux likely keeping our entire floor awake, we made it out the door before 9am while trying to pretend we didn't notice the looks from other families at the breakfast buffet.  Despite the holiday weekend crowds, we managed to secure parking and find our way to the train station with very few hiccups.   The scenery was pretty fogged in so we missed the famous views but were able to enjoy a walk through the ancient red cypress forest.   We ended up heading home a night early as we all needed a good night sleep, but regardless had a wonderful time getting out of the city for a few days.

Alishan Forest Train in the background
Unclear if this was the Elephant Trunk tree or if we needed to keep hiking further
Hux is clearly catching up on all the missed sleep
Hux is very happy to be snug in the carrier
Alishan Temple
Really going to miss Taiwanese hot pot

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

7 months

You have a bottom front tooth!  This month you've also started getting into crawling position but haven't quite figured out how to propel yourself.  You rock back and forth trying to scoot forward so likely it won't be long before we need to figure out how to install the baby gates.  You often push your chest up while you're on your belly and slide backwards.  You get further and further from your toys and sometimes end up stuck in the corner of your play area which ends in grunts and howls of frustration.   This month you've really started protesting diaper changes or being left alone while I'm changing over the laundry or running to the restroom.  
  • Size: You weigh 21 pounds and can barely fit into medium diapers which breaks my heart just a little bit.  
  • Eating: We've started giving you much thicker purees with soft chunks and you are getting the hang of chewing or maybe I should say gumming.  We've tried a mesh feeder which you enjoy but don't seem interested in holding it yourself so we'll try again in a few weeks.  
  • Sleep: You are fully transitioned to your flat crib which wasn't nearly as hard as we'd dreaded it would be.  With all the travel, teething, and new skills you've been learning we've gone through a bit of a sleep regression where about half the time you sleep through the night and half the time you wake to nurse at some point.  Luckily you usually go back to sleep on your own after these feeds.
  • Play: You are very into active play and have started rocking around in your new (to you) Jumparoo and love "walking" around while we hold your hands.  Between our apartment pool opening and our Cebu vacation, you have really gotten a lot of time in the water and enjoy kicking around and playing shark with Mom and Dad. 
  • Bath:  You take a bath while Mom takes a shower in the morning.  I put your little tub right next to me so you can play and chat while I'm watching you.  


Loads of enthusiasm for your first cart ride
All smiles despite the chilly water
Beware shark spotted
Your favorite activity at the Art Museum Children's area - knocking down the foam blocks
Painting with your good pals Ralphie and Lizzie
Clearly proud of your work
Highchair painting at home
Almost ready to crawl
You saw the big kids playing on this rocker and really wanted to give it a whirl

Monday, May 29, 2017

Cebu

With Jeff's contract in Taiwan expiring in early July, we finally pulled the trigger on a trip to the Philippines which we've always wanted to visit but the timing just never seemed to work out.  Traveling with a baby has been a learning process for us thus far and we opted to try staying put in a resort and avoiding the hassle of installing the car seat in taxis or doing stroller diaper changes on the go.  We booked 5 nights at a beautiful resort with several restaurants, pools, lagoons, a beach, and a kids play area.   We were undoubtedly nervous that we would get bored, but on the contrary found that playing in the water with Hux was quite entertaining.   I fully admit though that I absolutely looked forward to our sunset wine each evening so we could have a little adult focussed time.
Sunset over the lagoon as we tried to keep the mozzies at bay
Waterfall antics 
Clearly we're not bored 
Hux is almost ready for the 400 IM
We're working on drinking from a cup
Dad cut him off at 1 bottle
Hux's first dip in the ocean
I predict a LOT of this in the near future
Hawaiian luau in the Philippines?  Why not?  
These ladies wanted to devour little Hux 
Hammock naps for the boys
Wine time, my favorite part of the day
On our final morning, Jeff offered to take some photos of Hux and I.   I couldn't have been happier with the results and especially his bargain rates.   Hux is in such a cuddly stage right now and I want to remember him as my snuggly little boy forever.




Ready for some scuba!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road covers a ~150 mile stretch of road that hugs the coast just a few hours southwest of Melbourne and offers amazing views and cute beach towns.  A few of our friends claimed that you can see it in 1 day so considering our 6 month passenger, we opted to make it into a 3 day road trip.  This ended up feeling pretty rushed and a bit too much driving each day for our restless boy and we wished for more time in several of the towns that we passed through.

On our first day we drove to Port Fairy and checked into a well loved and historical B&B that reminded us how wonderful it is to stay in small boutique hotels.  The room, common areas, staff, and especially breakfast surpassed all expectations and our 1 night stay felt very restful and pampering.  It was ANZAC day so dinner options were a bit limited and we ended up at a fine dining restaurant with a cranky baby.  The staff was so kind and eased our embarrassment by telling a story of their 4 year old son coming down from the upstairs apartment in his underwear to help himself to the drinks cooler during dinner service.
Hux is happiest when he's standing and has Dad's attention
Stretching our legs and soaking in the incredibly fresh air
Such a yummy breakfast spread with homemade jams, bread, granola, fresh squeezed juice, and made to order omelettes
The following day we started our drive along the GOR and took in the stunning views while Hux slept through all the excitement.  We arrived to Apollo Bay, settled into our AirBnB, and discovered that there was no wifi and wow what a blessing in disguise!  We had to talk to each other, and play with the baby, and had to choose restaurants without reading reviews!  Seriously unplugging for 2 days was such a great finish to the trip.
Bay of Islands
Twelve Apostles
Postcard views
The next day we backtracked a short distance from Apollo Bay and visited the Cape Otway lighthouse which is the oldest working lighthouse in Australia and claims to be the most important.  We got stuck in a sudden rain storm and dropped into the cafe for some tea while the storm passed by as quickly as it came.  We rounded out the day with some wine tasting and a delicious and casual seafood dinner.
Little man sleeping through the action again!
Brings back memories of our first trip to Australia where we stayed for a few nights in the Hunter Valley wine region
Our final day started a bit rough as we had no plan and were all coming down with a cold.  It certainly improved once we got to Lorne and had a coffee, bought some adorable clothes and swimmers for Hux, grabbed a top notch burger, and relaxed on a knoll overlooking the ocean.  Not too bad ehh?  We capped off the trip with dinner at Mountain Goat Brewery in Melbourne and a frenzied search for a gas station by the airport as I refused to pay the exorbitant gas prices charged by the rental car company.   
Already missing the Land Down Undah

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Melbourne

As we were driving to the airport for our trip to Melbourne, Jeff and I realized that in the last 5 years since we moved overseas we've been to Australia more times than America.  It certainly feels like a second home for us!  Our flights to Melbourne couldn't have gone any smoother, Hux slept the whole way and only woke up to nurse once.  We must have used up all of our good flight karma though because the way home was a tortuous combination of 2 sick parents, a feverish baby that needed continuous soothing, baby Tylenol sadly in the checked bag, and a very unhappy toddler next to us that kept waking Hux when he did manage to get to sleep.  Needless to say we were very happy once we arrived back home!
Ready for take-off
Our #1 learning point of the trip was that we packed too much stuff and vowed to condense our packing for the next trip
Bede, Susie, and Edgar flew in for the weekend and Hux got to meet Edgar, who is 6 weeks older than him, for the first time.   If only we had audio for these pictures as the grunting back and forth between the two babies was hilarious.


The main event was the following day so we took it easy in the morning, just walking around a bit and exploring the park before dressing up and heading to the ceremony at a beautiful church close to the river.   The reception was cleverly held at the Melbourne Zoo so we got to see a tiger, elephants, orangutans, and giraffes before the party began.  Hux was the perfect wedding guest and managed to squeeze in eating, napping, dancing, and flirting with a few of the ladies.  We had a bit of a meltdown in the taxi back to our BnB, but a good friend and fellow mom informs me that it doesn't count if only 1 stranger witnesses it.  
Hux wasn't all that thrilled initially about his outfit, but he warmed up to it once we told him how handsome he looked.
The beautiful couple, Mike and Mary
Hux was mostly interested in chewing on his lip rather than seeing the elephants
Two hotties!
Jeff managed to sneak an extra piece of cake from one of the kind servers.
Quoting Jeff: Hux looking like a classic gentleman in bowtie and suspenders
Dance floor moves
The following day we woke up to a beautifully sunny day and a fantastic view of hot air balloons from our balcony.  We met Edgar and family for a late brunch, walk around the city, diaper blow out, and finished the day off with our first footy game.
I could get used to a view like this
Even with 2 experts to explain the rules, I had a bit of trouble following but apparently the home team won
On our final day, we enjoyed coffees at a highly recommended coffee shop and loved the Portland vibe without the hipster attitude.   We met up again with the Edgar clan and devoured a picnic lunch on the bank of the Yarra River where we pondered and judged a group of 20-somethings perfecting their razor scooter grinds and spins.   We capped off the day with drinks on a barge bar and brainstormed ways to get rich.  Our final goodbyes were a bit sad but fingers crossed we'll get a chance to meet again soon.
St Ali coffee shop
Cool mural close to the coffee shop
Thankfully parenthood hasn't subdued these two champs