Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back Home

Well, never fear -- the Cline family of four has finally made it home safely! Landed here in Charlotte around 6:15 PM on Monday evening, and we are all still extremely tired. Pierson fell asleep while drawing at the kitchen table tonight, and Maylin was out by the time the credits rolled for her Chinese version of Dora.

All of us are doing pretty well, except that each of us has some combination of bug, cold, sinus infection, etc. Please keep us in your prayers for a quick recovery from sickness and jet lag, especially Traci -- the trip home really took its toll on her, but she has begun to perk up today.

We want to post more about our Taiwan journey soon, since we are WAY behind. As I think I mentioned, our hands were so full that we didn't have much downtime to get online. Same has been true since we got home, but things are beginning to slow down and the kids are getting adjusted to their new home. So please stay tuned, and we'll get some more stories and pictures up soon.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a shot from one of our last nights in Taipei, when we returned to the Shihlin Night Market, but this time with the kids. We had a great time, as evidenced by this shot. They are truly brother and sister -- with all the rivalries and competition that you would expect from any siblings. But there are moments like this that tell you what you really need to know about these two...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Heading Out!!!

Well it is 10:38 and the kids are "cooking and serving" us food while we try to pack around them! So needless to say I am not going to get many photo's up but I will leave you with these few from the top of Taipei 101 (Taipei's version of the Empire State building)
My hat is off to my sister who keeps her blog updated so well... I am trying.
We leave the hotel at 7:00 am in the morning! :0 Much to so little time.
I'll catch up when we get back on the other side of the world!
Love you all!

PS Maylin's first breakdown was here. It lasted about 4 minutes seeming like 4 hours. She screamed, flailed and cried. I am pretty sure she was saying you aren't my mommy and I hate you... but one can't be sure when it is screaming Mandarin and I only understand English! Oh well we made it through and now we are settling in as a family of four... not to say there haven't been more tears, but nothing to that extent! Praise GOD!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hello Kitty Resturant

If you don't say these are the cutest Tiawanese kids you have ever seen I don't believe you!

This is the entry way to the Hello Kitty Sweets resturant which had the best burger we have had in Taiwan! The kids eyes were wide open when we walked in the door. To your right as you walked in was the bakery with beautiful cakes and desserts. Of course that was the first thing they saw and stood and looked longingly into the display case. It was adorable!

This is to the left of the entry way. My two silly heads wouldn't take this picture seriously for anything! I thought it was pretty funny though.

Maylin was amazed that everything had Hello Kitty on it! She was so proud of her napkin.

Pierson (who had a stomach bug when we picked him up had only eaten white rice and bread for 4-5 days) was so happy to eat something with flavor! Apparently all of our meals were served with pumkin soup first, and it was VERY good. And Pierson was thrilled! I wasn't sure if he would really appreciate all of the Hello Kittyness, but he seemed to enjoy it as well. Mostly for the design of all of the food if nothing else.

Mama and Baba's hamburger and fries!!! We were soooo happy!
Pierson had a chicken sandwich which looked exactly like our burgers. Maylin insisted that she wanted a noodle dish, but as you can see below she at mostly from everyone elses plates! :) I couldn't blame her.

Seriously it is hard to say no to her. Don't worry we are learning quickly how to say no in Mandarin. The spelling is unusual but it sounds like 'boo yow'! :)

The waitresses were dressed all in pink Hello Kitty. Even the chandalier had a little stuffed Hello Kitty sitting on it.

Pierson thought it was hilarious to show me his jello. It too was shapped like a Hello Kitty face of course!

One of the many cakes in the display case

Random shots. This is Pierson's deep in thought look. This is a common look for him. He likes to process every little thing.

This is Maylin's "who, me?" face. We see a lot of this! She typically follows this up with a very fake "hahaha" with a little chicken neck to go along with it. It is hard not to laugh at her!
Well the natives are restless and we must leave the room before we tear it apart! Two more sleeps until we head for home! Yippie! It will be easier to wrestle these two on our own turf! :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Taipei Zoo Trip

Both kids were amazed by the MRT

Wednesday we needed to get out and let the kids run themselves tired. They were up half the night the night before. Not crying or anything just fidgeting blowing noses, going potty, getting drinks, anything to help them not sleep. So we packed up the stroller and headed for the Taipei Zoo.

We have two clowns!

The first exhibit we came to was the pandas, which the kids were very excited to see. Pierson would walk up to a statue acting as if he didn't see it, then all of the sudden he would gasp and jump back as if it were real and were coming after him... he did this over and over. It was quite funny! They wanted to climb on everything that stood still.

Pierson and Daddy looking at some deer-ish things. He would look all day if we left him to. Maylin -- not-so-much -- she was quickly ready to see what was next, or get back in the stroller. The zoo was pretty nice all around. Not quite the Ashboro Zoo as far as the animals captivity, but very nice in cleanliness and presentation.

Wrangling the hippo's! Giddy up HIPPO!

Maylin was not very impressed by the smell of most of the animals.
Anytime there was a slight smell of poop this was the face we got! She is definitely FULL of personality! I think she will give her cousin Caleb a run for his money! Pierson on the other hand is more laidback although he has his moments of wildness too!

Another funny! The zoo was very proud to display how they recycle all the poop! I thought this picture was quite hilarious! If you can't see it well enough it is a pig pooping (in the potty) while drying his hair with a hair dryer that is obviously powered by his droppings. LOL

Daddy with his little ones. They were looking at white rhinoceroses. Pierson often looks to see what other people's reactions are and then reacts accordingly. Maylin on the other hand is more concerned with her stuffed panda -- at least in this picture.

This was the best picture we got of the two of them together. I am feeling my sister's pain just trying to get both of them to stand still and look at the camera is hard!

Mommy and Pierson waving to the Elephant's.
This was Pierson's highlight of the day! He loves elephants! We saved the best exhibit for last. By this point Maylin was done and wouldn't get out of the stroller. I am not sure she could even see them but she wouldn't budge!

Maylin posing in what we think was supposed to be a pile of poop, which was next to the toilets on the way out. Kind of funny. The kids thought it was the best thing since sliced bread!

Pierson was very proud of his discovery of the pile of poo! HAHA
That is it for now. We'll post more about the Hello Kitty resturant and the the visit to Taipei 101 with our first meltdown on top of the world! :)
Love everyone and can't wait to see you guys!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 23, Gotcha Day pictures

As you may have guessed, when you go to zero to two kids, it becomes more difficult to do some of the stuff you used to do. Like watching Lost (we're now two episodes behind!) and blogging. Sorry we haven't been able to post much lately. We hope to soon though, and some things we may need to save until we get back to the States and have a chance to rest. (We figure it's most important to spend time with our children right now than to blog about it.)

Nevertheless, we'll continue to try to at least get pictures up because we know that's what the masses are waiting for! So here's some from March 23, "Gotcha Day," the day we got Pierson and Maylin.

Here's the Cline family of four...

Here we are with the ChungYi staff. Jane is the one in the front row with the black shirt.
Our children demonstrating some sign language that will hopefully help us overcome the language barrier. Can you tell what they are trying to say?
Back at the hotel room, mommy helping Maylin with a new fairy princess dress...
And Pierson getting dressed up too...

Monday, March 22, 2010

March 22, Part 1 - The Trip to Nantou

Spoiler Alert: This post does NOT contain pictures of Pierson and Maylin. More to come, though!

Okay, now here's the story of how we met Pierson and Maylin. It's a long one, so we'll probably break this into separate posts. So from here on out, things could be a little out of order as we catch up.

Several have asked if we were able to sleep the night before meeting Pierson and Maylin, and the answer is yeah, pretty well! We went to bed very excited, but also VERY tired, so that helped. When we got up, though, we were anxious to go, got ready, rushed through the The Howard's breakfast buffet, and hopped into a cab. (Quick aside: Taipei just seems to get bigger and bigger everytime we travel by cab or MRT. Many beautiful sights to see, large and small)

Before leaving Taiwan, our adoption agency sent us a photo, which they said would be our meeting place to meet up with our ChungYi social worker. Here is the photo:

We were a bit worried at first that all that lay between us and our children was a non-English-speaking cab driver's interpretation of this JPEG file. As it turns out though, trying to find the Shin Kong Life Tower is like trying to find the Bank of America building in downtown Charlotte -- EVERYONE knows where it is.

Once there, we met Jane, who is our social worker at ChungYi Social Welfare Foundation, the agency that handles the Taiwan side of things (as opposed to our stateside agency, ASIA). Jane is the one translated for our Skype visits with the kids, so it was great to finally meet and thank her in person. She has been super-nice to us and extremely patient. More on her later.

We walked from the Shin Kong Life Tower to a nearby station to catch our 8:00 AM bus to Nantou. Most of the places we have been have been user-friendly for English speakers, but here was a place with no written English at all, so it was good Jane was there. Hopped on the bus and settled in for a 3-hour tour. A 3-hour tour.

It was nice to see more of rural Taiwan outside the city (sorry we don't zero photos -- we were trying to conserve flash card space -- we'll have video later though). Saw a lot of rice fields, rivers, dried-up rivers, and little hamlets. Industry is everywhere, though, even in smaller cities and towns. But still, it's a beautiful island, as the Portugese observed.

Nantou County is a very interesting place. Still what I consider a city, but on a much smaller scale than Taipei. In terms of size, I would guess that Winston-Salem is to Charlotte what Nantou is to Taipei (percentage-wise, that is). Some parts of Nantou actually felt third-world village-ish. Some seemed very developed. Others poverty-stricken. Others just quaint and pastoral. An interesting mix.

We also began to notice several betel nut stands, which is an interesting phenomenon and a sad, but true part to our children's story. For lack of better terminology, a betel nut stand is sort like a small, truck stop, where betel nuts and cigarettes are sold by women in very revealing clothing. There are also signs out front advertising as much. The sad and sobering truth is... at least at one point in time, our children's birthmother was a betel nut girl, according to the documentation we've received. The birthparents probably deserve their own post at some point, but for now I'll simply say that our hearts and prayers are with them wherever they are. If they were ever to read this, we would want her to know that we pray for them to find hope and love. (Since I had begun working on this post a few days ago, we now have a little positive news about the birthmother. More later.)

We finally arrived at a park and playground in Nantou City. We soon discovered that this would be where we would meet Pierson and Maylin. It is a large and beautiful park (the pictures you've seen are it), and it was all very surreal as we waited for what seemed like hours but really was about five minutes.

A Few More Pictures...

...then it's off to bed for us!

Meeting Pierson and Maylin

We are (almost) a family of four! We met Pierson Yong-Sheng and Maylin Yu-Fong in Nantou today (Monday), and we will get them tomorrow. Will post more soon, but here's a little teaser...

(By the way, Pierson has a cold right now -- hence the masks. His is so he won't spread it; hers is so she won't catch it. These masks are very common in Taiwan and other Asia countries.)

Can you tell that it was a good day?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Updates to Come

It's 10:00 PM on Sunday, March 21, Taiwan time, and we're about to turn in. We had a nice today and are settled in to our new place, The Howard Plaza, and it is SWANKY! We really enjoyed Dong Wu for a few nights and would do it all over again, but The Howard is just plain sweet and a nice change of pace. We toured the nearby Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall and Taipei 101 this afternoon and evening. In the interest of time and because we need our sleep, we'll blog about those adventures later. Tomorrow's a big day!

We leave for Nantou County around 8:00 AM tomorrow morning to meet our children! We estimate it is about a 3-hour bus ride. So say a prayer for us before you go to sleep tomorrow night (er...tonight, Sunday night, since you're probably reading this on Sunday in the USA). We will of course be in touch soon to share our pictures and tales of meeting Pierson Yong-Sheng and Maylin Yu-Fong in person!

Love y'all!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Longshan Temple

Our day at Yangmingshan Temple was very rewarding and very tiring, as evidenced by this picture of us at the top of a bridge (which as far as we could tell, was the highest point in the park). We've been seeing a lot of urban Taipei, so it was nice to have the change of pace to see more of the rural side. Taiwan is a BEAUTIFUL sub-tropical country -- truly a treasure of the Pacific.

We left the park about 4, so we still had some daylight left and pondered where to go. We decided on Longshan Temple (or Dragon Mountain Temple), which is one of Taiwan's oldest and most important temples. Every book and website has said this isone of Taipei's must-see's, so we decided we must see it.

The R5 bus dropped us off near the Shihlin Night Market and MRT Station again, but this time, we noticed a separate set of vendors and carnival-type booths just beside the Night Market which had not been there the night before, unless we just missed it. We are the kind of travelers that, if we see something interesting, we just have to discover what it is, and don't worry so much about whatever plans we had.
Here's just a few samples of this mini-market:

Probably spent an hour or so here, (getting some
souvineer shopping done) then jumped back on the MRT to Longshan Temple. In so doing, we rode the Bannan Line (which runs east-west instead of north-south) for the first time at Taipei
Picture one is us buying umbrellas. The sky looked like it was about to open up on us! It never did though. And I am pretty sure the one we got for Traci is actually a sun sheild (aka not waterproof) Picture two is the shop where we got souvineers. Picture three is a man making little glass figurines. We watched him make a tiger. It was quite impressive and interesting.
Main Station. This station reminded Traci of Grand Central or Times Square in NYC, except that here, there were far more people per square inch. If you haven't figured it out, TAIPEI IS CROWDED! We're getting used to it, though.

By the time we arrived at the temple, it was already dark, and we decided that this is actually a place more gorgeous to see at night. Chinese-style lanterns (there's probably a name for these, but I don't know what it is) lined the outside front entrance, and the smell of incense was already thick. Several monk-vendors were outside the temple selling various things, most noticeably, lotus flowers. People well thronging to the temple in droves, and we soon discovered why.

Inside was a mixture of about 5% sight-seers, and 95% worshippers. It was quite a sight to behold. People praying, lighting incense, lighting candles, laying down offerings (i.e. the lotus flowers, all kinds of food, etc.), reading scriptures, prostrating before idols, and other signs of devotion to their gods and goddesses. We were hypnotized by this scene. In reading our guidebook later, I found that the main hall is dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Guanyin, but there are also Taoist influences as evidenced by Mazu, the Taoist goddess of the sea. Apparently, other altars can be set up with "lesser deities" from other religions. The temple is absolutely stunning in its beauty and ornateness. Apparently it's pretty resilient too -- built in 1738, hit by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1815, and damaged by a typhoon in 1867.

Being Christians ourselves, we were obviously way out of our element at Longshan, and felt a strange combination of appreciation, sadness, joy, commonality, and diversity with the people we saw. I found myself in awe of their intense devotion and desire to connect with the divine, but just as strongly, wanted them each to know the Jesus I've come to know. I also saw such intense displays of worship that would shame many Christians (like me) for not offering as eagerly and intensely praise to our Creator and Lord.

Anyway, I think Longhshan helped us continue to gain an appreciation for what we've set out to do for these first few days -- the homeland of our children, with all its culture, history, religious diversity, etc.

In the pictures you can see people praying to the golden statue of Budha and a woman laying down her offering to the Gods.