Friday, December 31, 2010

We want to be the first to wish you a...


(and we love the perks of teaching children... free noisemakers!)

More to come on New Year's in Taipei...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a Bambini Christmas, in photos.

This past weekend, my school hosted a Christmas party for our students and their families. We enjoyed sharing about baby Jesus, singing Christmas songs, watching a Charlie Brown Christmas, playing games, and handing out homemade Christmas cards from each student to their parents. I could elaborate, but honestly, wouldn't you rather just look anyway?














We had so much fun! I again feel so thrilled to be a part of the lives of these kids and their families... and am continually blessed by the love I recieve in return.

Then again, I don't often post on the days when I want to strangle each of them. You know how it goes, right?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

our bistmas twee

On my way home from a friend's house a couple of nights ago, I noticed a little boy walking with his father, and heard this in a perfect child-like voice:

Oooooh bistmas twee, ooooh bistmas twee
Ba ba ba boo boo bwanches
Ooooh bistmas twee, ooooh bistmas twee
Ba ba ba boo boo bwanches
Ba ba ba boooo...
(you get the idea)

I laughed out loud... so loud in fact that the father turned to look at me. He wasn't smiling, maybe finding the tune a bit old, and cursing those darn English teachers who fill his son's mind with such songs. Ah well.

It did motivate me, however, to show you our Christmas tree, and share a bit about what Christmas looks like for us this year.


our flat, very cozy and perfect for us


our tree, thanks to my sweet mom!
(yes, complete with a tree skirt and nativity)


our stockings
(grand total of $.60)


All in all, Christmas is very simple this year. Many of the typical indulgences and favorites of this time of year are absent for us, and being away from our families adds an extra measure of difficulty. Without the usual distractions, however, we're encouraged to spend a bit more time reflecting on Christ.
For this, I am so thankful.
And, come on, it's not everyday that I get to hear
ooooh bistmas twee...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Picture of Us for Posterity

A couple weekends ago we went to a small, coastal town known as Danshui. There are numbers of small eateries, little shows, lots of junk for the tourists, and artists. We happened upon one of these artists and this was the result...

local artist

in Danshui

What do you think? Does it look like us?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

today's top 5

It is safe to say that there is never a dull moment when teaching kindergarteners. I thought I'd share a few quick stories about my younguns, and so here are the top five recently:

5. My kids have a ton of energy, and that's fine... most kids do. However, they really get no time to run, jump, and simply blow off steam. They are frequently bouncing off the walls. To remedy this problem, I have regularly been taking them downstairs to the school gym and having them run laps. I remember hating this when I was in sports, but these kids LOVE IT! Just call me coach. ;)

4. Whenever you have 16 five year olds in a room together, there will undoubtedly be some... tension. You just can't put that many little kids together and expect them to get along. They deal with their frustrations in a number of ways: first they whine, then they tattle, then they resort to assault, and finally... if none of that works, they pull out the big guns:"(insert name) YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND!" Ahhh...the adorable little sinners.

3. I was chatting with three of my little students one morning and one of them, being the "ego-boosting", admiring student that she is, says, "My daddy's muscles are bigger than yours, Teacher Ben!" Her friend, not to be outdone, states, "My daddy's muscles are as big as a mountain!" The final student, a little boy, then pipes up with, "My daddy knows how to make coffee." Definitely the winner.

2. Today I walked past the bathroom and heard one of my little boys yelling for my co-teacher. I poked my head in and asked what he needed. "I need teacher Jessica to wipe my bum bum." I replied with a bit of amusement, "Why can't you wipe your own bum bum?" He paused for a second before stating the obvious, "I can't see my own bum bum." There you have it, folks. You can't argue with that.

1. And to top the list, today we had our weekly cooking class. Last week, my co-teacher approached me about what we should make in class, especially since it was a special day. You see, my school decided that we need a promotional video to show to parents of prospective students. As a result, a dude with a camera took footage of the many classes during the day. One of the classes he filmed of us was cooking. We could choose a dish that had already been made in class, such as fruit salad, sandwiches, fried floor drink (don't ask), or french toast. Feeling inspired, I wanted to push the envelope and go where no class had gone before. And so... I settled on party mix. Since they couldn't find pretzels (a rarity here), we were provided with peanuts, raisins, and M&M's. I remembered how so often (at least with the chex-mix kind of party mix) you put it in the oven and let it get warm and toasty. Ovens are quite rare here, so I figured that it would be okay to modify and use a hot plate instead. We poured all the peanuts, raisins, and M&M's into a big pot. Before long, it began to smoke and smelled burnt. Needless to say, the peanuts were well done. It wasn't exactly the kids' favorite. I cannot understand why with the kind of stuff they get fed for snacks. To boost my ego just a bit more, the other Chinese teachers kept poking in their heads, wrinkling their noses, and asking what was burnt. They did not really care for my party mix. Even the school cook, who really should appreciate foreign cuisine, seemed skeptical. All I can say about this is that, next time, we will be doing fruit salad.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Man vs. Food: Season II

This past Sunday, Beth and I had a chance to go to a traditional night market.

a night market

Think... a street with a myriad of vendors selling everything from food,
to clothes, to....who knows.

night market food

Think...a claustrophobic's nightmare. There are so many people around you that you can't really walk but simply shuffle from one place to another.


Think...your smelly socks hanging 5 inches from your nose (due primarily to a local favorite: stinky tofu). That is about what a night market it like. And...we had a great time. We went with our Chinese teacher, along with a couple friends and classmates. We were able to try numerous different foods. Below are pictures of the many delicacies that graced our palate.

chicken foot

[chicken's foot]

[This critic gives it a thumb to the middle... that means it was "okay".] 

duck's head

[duck's head]

[Let's just say... it wasn't my favorite.]

[candied peanut shavings with several flavored ice creams on a thin tortilla = delicious]

[ice cream "pancake" in hand = also delicious]

All in all, it was a great experience. We thoroughly enjoyed using our limited Chinese to sample these many foreign treats, and look forward to going back for a dinner again soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just want to wish all of you a very
Happy Thanksgiving!
We are thankful for you.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

learning G

Some days, I really love my job. Recently, I had the privilege of teaching my 2 and 1/2 year old student, Winston, the letter 'G'. I pulled out my sunglasses for him... g-g-g-glasses. I think he got it.


learning G... g-g-g-glasses

I try not to have favorites, but I sure do love him. Without shame.

P.S. So we're a little slow. But for those of you who are interested, we've finally added our 'followers' link to the bottom of the page... feel free to become one!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

no way to climb

When we lived in our apartment in the States, it was not uncommon for us to lock ourselves our of our place. I have always been a rather forgetful person. Due to this forgetfulness, Beth and I have constantly talked of our need to get a key made that we can hide somewhere here. We knew that eventually we would lock ourselves out. This eventuality turned into reality this past Saturday. As the story goes, we live on the second floor. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. In the States, we lived on the second floor as well. All I had to do was hoist myself up to our second story balcony and open the patio door. Unfortunately for our breaking-in strategies, here in Taiwan there are bars blocking all windows, doors, etc (yes, we are very safe). Still no problem, all we have to do is go to a local keymaker. They have little shops all over the neighborhood. Except... they aren't open at 10:00 at night. We wandered around for awhile wondering what to do. Eventually, we found a key shop that said 24 H (we guessed that meant 24 hour service). YEAH!!!! Except... our cell phones were back in our locked apartment. Thankfully, a nice lady and her daughter were walking by and helped us to call the keyman. They even waited around with us, along with her husband, until the keyman arrived and unlocked our door.
People here really are so helpful!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

meet Ivan

So I've come to a realization. We often post about our trips, our grand adventures, and our latest disasters, but rarely to we post about our life... the randomness of certain experiences, the funniest things our students say, the bizarre diversity of culture, or the way we're making life work in a completely different country. Maybe you don't care. And really, that's okay. :) But if you do, we'll make a point to keep you updated a bit more often... about the daily adventures and flops of life in Taiwan.

With that said, I thought I'd introduce you to Ivan, one the students I tutor on the side (in addition to my regular teaching job where I have several classes full of lovely students). He's five, and his English is perhaps the best of any student I teach. And he's a hoot (that's a bonus). After class recently, he gave me this note with firm instructions: "Don't open it until you get home, okay? OKAY??" Alright, Ivan.

from Ivan

It made my day. What a brown-noser. And he's got to learn how to spell my name. That's next week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a weekend in the gorge

On the positive side, there are so many interesting things to see here in Taiwan. On the negative side, there is so little time to see it all. This past weekend, Beth and I decided to get out of the city and see a bit more of Taiwan. Saturday morning, we hopped on a train and rode about 2 1/2 hours southeast to Taroko National Park. Incredible is the word that comes to mind. Pictures don't do it justice. We were only able to spare a day and half to see Taroko Gorge, and it wasn't nearly enough time to see all there is to see.

I know how boring it can be when blogs are too wordy. Therefore, I'm going to give you our weekend in bullet points (then you can look at Beth's pictures).

- Got there and a marathon was going on
- Hiked a trail still inhabited by indigenious people
- Felt like we were walking through the set of Lost
- Got stranded, as the marathon shut down the free shuttle bus
- Found our camping site and had it all to ourselves
- Slept to the sounds of a rushing river for 12 (!) hours
- Walked up the highway to a little town
- Discovered a Buddhist resort thing on the side of the mountain
- Climbed the Buddhist tower
- Found a little Presbyterian Church
- Had trouble finding a trail that was open (rotten rockslides)
- Thought we were starring in Jurassic Park
- Hiked as it started to rain
- Wore hardhats through a cave
- Met a German guy who tagged along with us
- Got stranded again
- Met some great Taiwanese folks who gave us a ride to the train station
- Made it home safe and sound


...we didn't linger.




This is the closest we've seen to autumn colors this year... a happy sight.

Ben chatting with our German friend

We felt so much safer...


Ben made it! Only to quickly descend after discovering and aggravating a nest of killer bees.

our campsite


It was a refreshing and restful weekend for us... as we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation, we felt overwhelmed by His majesty.


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