Not quite yet

We are not quite set yet but, we are both getting anxious. We have quite a group traveling with us. I (Denise) am taking 3 of my older kids (Trey, Alex, and Lizzy) with me. Janel will be rooming with my mom (Sandy) and her oldest daughter Ashley. We will leave on Thursday morning and arriving in Taiwan on Friday evening.

Tomorrow, I will run some last minute errands and try and figure out the best way to exchange money. Janel has already done this and I thought she got ripped off. Well, I think she may have been the smart one. Maybe, I will just use her money.

I said that I would take notes for those of you traveling after us. The first note is to check out money exchange rates before you travel. It pays to plan ahead.

Keep reading to see how it all turns out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What a difference 2 months makes

What a difference 2 months makes! Both of our families had their 1st post placement visits today so, it is a good time for reflection. It is amazing what strides the kids have made in 2 short months. The process has not been without is difficulties but, the think Janel would agree with me when I say that sometimes you just have to be in awe of how the kids have handled the transition into our family.

Dawson is settled in and prefers to keep on a scheduled routine. He has went from not wanting to lay down to sleep to going to bed peacefully after a bedtime story. he thing that I am amazed at is that his little cheeks have filled out so much. Janel reports that he eats constantly. It is clear that he is very bright and he has the cutest little personality. Janel's best friend Wanda watches him during the day while Janel is at work and Janel is thrilled that this works out so well. I do not think that she would have been comfortable returning to work without having Wanda there to be with him. Once again, it is amazing to see how all the kids take him in without skipping a beat.

Katie is doing just as well. She is still not totally thrilled by school but, loves gymnastics and soccer. Her language skills are exploding and it is nice to finally have an easier time conversing with her. Her soccer coach tells me that he can not wait until he can really talk to her because he thinks she will be a phenomenal soccer player. I think he is right.

Lizzy and Katie have had a few run ins but, they are decreasing in frequency. It has been hard for Lizzy to understand why Katie is not held accountable for everything that she is. They are starting to really play together and they seem to enjoy the same things.

All and all I have to say that we are really blessed. The kids have came to our family and have embraced us and it is almost hard to put into words the way you feel when you know a child comes from half way away the world from circumstances less than ideal and still has the strength to trust you with their love. Jim and I constantly say that despite our obstacles, Katie has made it easy for us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I know everyone has been waiting for an update about how we are doing and how the school year is going. Actually, things could not be going much better. I am constantly amazed at how Katie is adjusting as, well as the other kids. Both Jim and I say that we are blessed. That is not to say that we haven't had any stresses but, the level of frustration is not any higher than what we would expect in everyday life (especially with eight kids.)

School has been our biggest obstacle but, that was to be expected. Katie does not love it but, I feel that right now it is the best place for her. Her teacher is nice and so are her classmates and I think if we give it a month or so she will enjoy it a lot more. She did refuse to get dressed one morning but, we got past it and later that night I explained that if she gave me a hard time again in the morning that she would not be able to go to soccer or gymnastics. Yes, she is in soccer and gymnastics and she loves it. If you are wondering how I "explained it", I acted it out. So, for the last few mornings, I have woke to "Morning mommy." Katie can do about 75% of her school work which amazes me. She does not speak much English but, she recognizes her alphabet and she is starting to understand more conversation. She also seems to be a strong Math student so, like the rest of my kids she likes Math and really does not care for English.

The only melt downs she has had was over going to school and not being able to start gymnastics on the first day. Lizzy has taken gymnastics for over a year so, I wanted to show Katie what it was. She immediately wanted to go out there and broke into tears when I told her she had to wait until next time. So, so far so good. We will enjoy it while it lasts.

Now, everyone wants to know if she is speaking English. Well.......the truth is no, not much but, she can sing the songs in HighSchool Musical and HairSpray. She also likes Annie. So, we are forgetting about language tapes and watching musicals. It is amazing, how quickly she learned the words to those songs. Oh, and the theatrics that go with them.

She still does not seem to want anything to do with anyone who speaks Mandarin and I am hoping that I can change her mind about that but, we will let it go for now. From talking to others it seems to be part of the process. She has no problem speaking to me in Mandarin although I am confident that she understands that I do not understand. Although, I am starting to.

So, like I said....things could not be going much better. Now that I have my camera back I will try and post some more updates soon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

My Camera is Broke

Yes, my new camera is broke. I told you that I had trouble with it at the orphanage. I thought that I had wore out the battery but, now it will not take pictures but you can still hear the motor, it just does not focus. So, I paid all this money to have a nice camera instead I have something else to deal with. So......I will just have to give a report and not add pictures until I figure something else out. Katie and Lizzy went to the doctor today and all is well. They weigh exactly the same and Lizzy is only taller by a 1/2 of an inch. I guess so much for being the "Big Sister."

Also, I discovered that Katie can count to 11 without any problem, she knows her colors in English, and she can put the alphabet in order using cards (even though she has not said them for us.) She does not say many words in English and yet she can sing all the songs in High School Musical. School starts Monday and though I wish I had another week, I think everything will be okay.

If anyone has had any trouble it is Lizzy, I think her feelings are hurt a little. I have been trying hard to show her some good attention but, I guess it is just hard. Katie can be kind of strong about what she wants and she is clingy and I do not think that Lizzy is used to either one of those things. I think it will be fine, given a little time. It has only been 1 week so far. It amazes me that Katie has been through so many changes in a week. I guess I need to remember so has Lizzy. Ben and Noah seem unaffected and I guess they still assume the world revolved around them. Noah starts kindergarten next week and I can hardly believe it. He is so cute and he is doing great with his alphabet, Thanks to Big Mama for helping. Well, the next week will be a busy one. Wish us luck.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Finally Home

After a long flight, we are finally home. So, far so good. Katie has had a little bit of an attitude since we left from the hotel. I do not blame her at all, she has been through alot in the last couple of days and for the most part she has done real well. There are quite a few of us to get used to. The boys are home from school and we are looking to spending some time together. I thought everyone might enjoy seeing a few more pictures of our trip.

Jaclyn brought Becka to see Katie and it did not go like we expected. Becka is really sweet but, Katie would not pay any attention to her. I hope that she just had a bad day and that she will be happier to see her next time. It was nice that Jaclyn brought her kids over though. In the long run I think it will be nice that they can be friends. I just have to remember that my goals need to be focused on the long run.

Katie really wants to get her ears pierced. It is surprising how well she can communicate something when she wants to. So, the next couple weeks will be really busy with things like school starting and doctors appointments. I am anxious to see how well she fairs with all the change. School starts in 10 days so I will keep up the blog so everyone can see how we are all doing. Please say a prayer for us that all goes well.

Time to Fly

The typhoon came through over night and did not have much impact on us. We got up in the morning and went to our AIT appt. Janel and I went and left the rest of them in the room. It took longer than we expected but, everything went smoothly. We even met a very nice couple there that was from Utah. They were also staying at the Howard Plaza. I had met the guy the day before in the lobby because he brought a letter back from the orphanage for Katie. Jaclyn’s daughter had written her. When we got back to the hotel we decided to head off to the zoo even though it was sprinkling. Katie had written to me before we picked her up and requested that I take her to the zoo and I did not want to let her down. It was a bust, we did manage to eat at McDonald’s but, it was just too wet to be at the zoo. We did not see a lot of animals but there were a lot of beautiful plants. After a brief stay there we decided to head back to the room.

Later we decided to have one more adventure and chose Snake Alley and the Lungshan Temple. We also decided to try the MRT again. Well the MRT is not bad during slower hours but it was now 6:30 and rush hour. We voted afterwards that it was a toss between which was worse the taxis or the MRT. We were glad that we had chosen to see the temple. It was beautiful. Then we were off to the market across the street Snake Alley. I have to say it was an interesting location for a seedy market.
The kids enjoyed seeing the bizarre things like the snakes in cages(and on the ground.) There were vendors selling all sorts of interesting snake parts. The kids had scrolls made with their names on it and we bought a few gifts. I tried the pearl milk tea again and I like the one from the Shilin Night Market much better.
After that it was time to head back to our rooms for our last time. We had the calmest taxi ride back (a big relief.)

The next morning we woke and prepared to leave. Katie was tired and a little sad. I have to admit that I was a little sad for her. Again, you can have such a range of emotions and things just do not seem clear sometimes but, after breakfast we both felt better and ready to head off to the airport.

Dawson had slept better and seemed to be in good spirits before the flight. Janel had arranged to have drivers come and pick us up to take us the airport. People had recommended Nick and Janel really enjoyed the drive with him. He answered some questions and said that she could email him anytime if she had a question. She got a kick out of the fact that he said that he wanted to be a cowboy when he retired.

We had all dreaded the airplane ride but, it turned out to be quite nice. Dawson was perfect the entire flight and never complained once. Katie seemed to really enjoy the flight also and her and Lizzy sat by each other. It was a long flight and no one likes sitting for that long but, the kids gave us no reason to complain.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

the typhoon

Yes, I said typhoon. Now this may not be as ironic to everyone but, we are from Florida. It is not as big a deal as I might have imagined though. At first, I thought it was a joke when Jackie posted to me about it because we have not been able to find any mention of it on the computer. They have now posted signs in the lobby. It is supposed to hit way south of us but, still a typhoon is still not what I wanted. We are hoping to go to the zoo today. So, I am praying that it clears up just a little. Also, we are hoping that AIT is open today so, that we can get Katie and Dawson's Visas. We had also planned to see Snake Alley. I guess we will just have to see. We are feeling a little more rested here. I am not sure what kind of night Janel had though as I have not gotten a report yet.

Dawson is doing much better though. He is active but, is generous too. He loves to share. We have bought some movies and have been watching them at night. All of the kids have been watching them. My kids may all come home speaking Mandarin. I still have no clue but, not speaking English here has not been an issue.

What is an issue is the desserts and food in general. I have never seen so many desserts or pastry shops in my life. Though I have read the reviews I would have to disagree with them because most of what I have eaten (as far as desserts go) have been really good. No, we have to discuss the other food seriously. I think I could write a couple more episodes to the Bizarre Foods of Taiwan show that was just on. Lets start with my fried octopus balls. Let us just say that it was interesting. Yes, I ate octopus balls which in itself was not the interesting part. What was is the fact that the little shavings looking stuff on top moved (see picture.) Lets just say that the food has been on of the most entertaining parts of our trips. By the way, DON"T EAT STUFF THAT MOVES WHEN YOU COME TO TAIWAN! We will leave it at that.

Another issue is how busy everyone is. Oh my goodness, there are not words to describe. I am not sure of the sense of that is exaggerated by the fact of how many people are here but, I am a small town girl and I think that I would like to keep it that way. It has been an amazing trip and I have found the people in Taiwan to be very warm and friendly. Taxi's are another issue and I am thinking I much prefer the fact that I can transport my children around in my suburban. It is not to say that the drivers have not been nice but they can almost make you dizzy at times. One of ours even had a tv in the front of his taxi, even the kids did not think that was a good idea.

Back to the food. I know, food again. It really gets me how cheap it is to eat at the night markets or even the malls but, the hotel is entirely different circumstance. For convience we have eaten at the buffet a couple of times and any money we saved was spent there. If I lived here there would be no need to eat at the hotel because there are so many choices.

I hope I have given everyone a sense of our trip. I have always enjoyed reading other blog's and I hope my family has gotten a good idea of what is going on with us. It has truly been a trip of a lifetime.

More Pictures

That wall at Chung Yi is now very special to me because my daughter's pictures are all over it!