Push and pull

I’m writing this post now because I’m still feeling so raw and despite feeling so raw. Last night I asked my husband, “should I write a blog post about what happened today?” His response was that it’s part of older child adoption and may help another family someday. Even if it’s raw, write about it. So here goes…

DoubleShot, like many girls who have lost their birth mother and then been adopted, struggles with having a new mother. I can only guess at the massive emotions going on inside of her, but I am sure that she is scared to death of being abandoned again. She is probably angry at her parents for everything that happened in her earlier years, though she may not yet be able to identify her own emotions. Now that I have stepped into the “mother” position in her life, I am dealing with all of her feelings toward her birth mother.

Yesterday, DoubleShot was not displaying any unusual or challenging behaviors beyond the ones we deal with on a daily basis. However, I was having a really rough day. My window of stress tolerance was very small and I was having a really hard time not letting her behavior affect me. Normally I can laugh or at least dismiss her behavior as an outward sign of what’s going on inside her heart. But yesterday it felt personal. This was my fault, not hers.

In the afternoon, the three of us went downstairs to brush our teeth. DoubleShot was hanging out on our bed and Jeff and I were standing in front of the bathroom sink. I was telling him how badly I was struggling and how hard it is for DoubleShot to want me and then not want me. She wants physical contact and then she doesn’t want to be touched. She wants to spend time with me and then doesn’t want anything to do with me. She’s confused and afraid and I sometimes feel like I have whiplash from her ever changing emotions.

I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve and my emotions splayed across my face. I know that my daughter could not hear me because I was talking very quietly and the dryer was running out in the hallway. However, I know she saw my face and my arms moving and I know she picked up on my emotional aura. She completely shut down. She laid on the bed with her arms over her head and would not respond. We reassured her that she was safe and that she is loved but she had completely shut us out.

I felt horrible!! My frustration overwhelmed my child and made her hide from us. I don’t know if she was afraid we were going to punish her or beat her or if my frustration and anxiety just completely scared her. I laid on the bed with her for quite some time. I was praying, telling God that I was so sorry that I had done this to my daughter and asking for guidance on what to do to help her. He told me just to stay with her and be quiet. So I did. I tried reaching out a couple of times to rub her back, as she’ll let me rub her back in the mornings when I’m waking her up. Nope, she pulled away. Any time she shifted and accidentally touched me, she pulled away.

Eventually I had to use the bathroom and got up. When I came back, she had moved to her own bed. At that point, I wasn’t sure what to do so I went upstairs to talk with my husband. He suggested that he go sit with her for awhile so he took a book downstairs and sat on the floor next to her bed, just offering a regulating, calm presence. After awhile, I could hear them interacting and a bit of laughter from DoubleShot. When I heard that, I sat on the couch and bawled.

I want so badly to be a good mother, someone who can roll with the punches and still be loving. Some of DoubleShot’s push and pull triggers me because I still have rejection and abandonment issues from my childhood. I know that it’s not her fault. I know it’s not personal. I cognitively understand her fear of becoming emotionally close to a new mother. But yesterday, it was too much. I couldn’t handle it, she sensed it, and then she closed herself off. I cried because my husband could reach her and I couldn’t. I want to be able to comfort her but she and I are just not there yet. I am not yet a comforting presence in her life. She wants to spend time with me, she wants physical contact with me, but when she starts feeling vulnerable, she lashes out.

I am amazed at DoubleShot’s resilience, her ability to again reach out for connection even after we’ve had challenges. When my husband and DoubleShot came back upstairs, they played Mario for a bit. She was laughing at how both of them died on the levels and was sitting close beside Jeff. After awhile, when I felt calm enough to finally join them, I walked over and sat down on the other side of the couch. DoubleShot immediately shifted from Jeff’s end of the couch to mine. She laid down on the couch and put her head on my lap, the very first time she’s done that. I melted, though part of me was still raw from earlier. The rest of the time we were playing, she alternated between laying her head on my lap and laying her head on my shoulder. Even though I caused her earlier shutdown, she was still willing to reach out for connection.

Last night, my husband invited her to come in to our room and read with us. We do this every night, part of our wind down routine before bed. She very reluctantly joined us, though she sat on the end of the bed reading. Normally she lays beside me with her legs draped over me. After she finished reading her first book, she shifted and laid beside me and sighed. Jeff handed me a Curious George book and I read aloud. This was the third book I’ve read to her. The first two times, she giggled throughout the reading and kept telling me to whisper. This time, she actually listened for the first half of the story and pointed to something in the drawings. After the book was done, I let her play Angry Birds on my phone until we were ready for bed. She giggled when we tucked her in.

This morning I am still feeling raw. I started crying again as I wrote this blog post. Adoption is beautiful but it’s painful for everyone involved. As parents, we deal with the grief of missing so much of DoubleShot’s earlier life. We deal with the emotional repercussions of DoubleShot’s past and how that manifests in her behavior. DoubleShot, while she now has a family, has to learn to accept us. She has to learn that we love her and that we want her to be happy and emotionally safe in our family. All three of us have to learn our new roles, how to interact with each other, and how to deal with our own issues without hurting the other members of the family. We have beautiful moments and we have incredibly painful ones. Yesterday contained a lot of both.

Three weeks home

I really can’t believe we’ve already been home for three weeks. This week has flown by! I looked up and realized it’s already Thursday.

This week has seen a slight shift in DoubleShot’s bonding. Yesterday she actually came and got me when something was wrong. The MP5 resurrected itself but the audio wasn’t working. DoubleShot came into the bedroom and gestured for me to follow her and then showed me that she couldn’t get the player to work. This is huge. Before yesterday, she’s never sought me out when something is wrong. I wonder if she’s finally starting to understand that we are available to help her whenever she needs it. We’ve told her that she can ask us for anything. That she can wake us up at night if she needs something. But until last night, she’s never voluntarily sought out my assistance.

The biggest challenge for me as a parent and as an emotionally sensitive person is the constant push and pull of our relationship. DoubleShot wants to be close to me but I sense that she is afraid. She is probably afraid that I will disappear at some point. Maybe that I will abandon her eventually. Maybe that I will hurt her, either physically or emotionally. She will snuggle up to me at times, hang all over me at other times, reach out for physical contact. But at other times, she is completely pushing me away, calling me names in Chinese or not wanting to be near me.

I was very aware of the possibility of this issue from my adoption and parenting training. But being aware and understanding the meaning behind the behavior does not protect my heart. I completely melt when DoubleShot wants to cuddle. Then it hurts my feelings when she rejects my offer to help her with something or calls me a pig. And yet throughout it all, I need to be loving and warm and bond-able. She needs to learn that I am reliable and that I will love her regardless of her behavior. I do love her regardless but it’s hard to act on that love when you’ve just been shoved and called a pig.

I made a massive parenting mistake earlier this week. DoubleShot is addicted to electronics, like most children. I have a love/hate relationship with electronics. I prefer that they be used primarily as a tool and used sparingly as entertainment. DoubleShot is still gaining confidence with our home and still seems hesitant to get out toys or games without being prompted or demonstrated. When I pull out a new toy and start playing with it, she’ll usually join in. But she doesn’t initiate much playing on her own. One day this week, DoubleShot had already spent several hours playing games on my computer. I told her to find something to do besides electronics. We have books (in Mandarin and English), games, toys, etc. available to her. She moved to the couch and started playing with her handheld Tetris game. We took it away from her and repeated that she needed to find something to do that wasn’t an electronic.

That resulted in two hours of her sitting on the couch doing nothing. I came over and sat with her for awhile, reading my book. I asked her if she was ok. She nodded. I offered to do something with her and made suggestions. She said no to each of my suggestions. I later realized that she probably didn’t understand my instructions and that it felt arbitrary and punitive when we took away her Tetris game. Whoops! I’m not sure what shook her out of the lethargy, but all of a sudden she got up and got involved in what I was doing. She was back to her giggling self. I wish I knew what triggered the change. I also learned I need to spend more time with the translator to help her understand my instructions! I felt so bad about the misunderstanding.

This week seems to have been more about my growth than about DoubleShot’s. She’s made progress in her bonding and is becoming a bit more communicative in both English and Chinese, though we’ve yet to hold a conversation. But this week it felt like I was learning more about how to be a mom than she’s learned about how to be a daughter. Her growth is sometimes hard to see because I have no idea what’s going on inside her head!

Back in the language saddle

On Sunday morning, I sat down to write a blog post. It’s still only half finished. DoubleShot got up earlier than expected both Sunday and Monday so I didn’t have time to finish. So I decided to write something else for now.

With all of the last minute stresses and packing and rush of paperwork gathering before leaving for Taiwan, I studied very little Chinese in July. My flashcards are a very sad reflection of how little I have studied in the past six weeks.

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The desktop app does not display exactly how many cards are due, just that there are over 1,000 of them. The phone app, however, tells me exactly how far I am behind – 1,258 cards due in just the vocabulary deck alone. I believe this number was originally over 1,400 but I spent some time yesterday and the day before reviewing cards.

To be honest, I am not sure that studying Chinese helped us in Taiwan or the past several weeks home. Yes, I can use survival phrases to talk to my daughter. I can ask if she’s hungry or needs to use the bathroom or if she’s tired. I can tell her what’s for dinner and where we are going. I cannot however ask if she is sad or if she misses her friends or what she thinks about any number of things. My writing skills are advanced enough for that but my speaking and listening skills are not. Maybe if I had joined a Chinese conversation class and actually practiced dialogue I would be able to do so. But I refuse to look back and regret the time I spent studying and what I should have done differently.

Learning more Chinese now may or may not be beneficial in my relationship with DoubleShot. She is adding new words and phrases to her speaking repertoire every day. Just yesterday she blurted out “all done!” when we finished our Candy Crush level. She knows a fair amount of English from her tutoring at the orphanage but is still gaining confidence to try speaking English with us.

So why bother? I want to be bilingual. I was planning to learn Japanese and had studied it for two years. Then we decided to adopt and I switched languages. I have learned much more Chinese in 1.5 years than I learned while studying Japanese because I learned HOW to study a language. Now that I’ve invested so much time in Chinese, I want to keep going. I want to go back to Taiwan and walk away from a cafe with more than a bagel. We are encouraging DoubleShot to retain her Chinese language skills and I want to be able to have a conversation with her in Chinese someday. We want to adopt again and maybe next time my Chinese will actually help in country and the first few weeks home.

I’ve read a number of blog and Facebook posts about how encouraging a child to retain their first language will slow down their acquisition of a second. That may be true. My husband is left out of a lot of the short exchanges between DoubleShot and I because he does not understand what is being said. But my daughter is already 13 years old and deserves to retain ties to her birth country if she wishes to do so. We are buying her books in Chinese and watch Taiwanese television shows. Just as I want to be bilingual, I want her to be bilingual. When she decides that she wants to be fluent in English, she’ll be more motivated than if I tried to force her.

Plus, DoubleShot so far has enjoyed sitting next to me and watching me study my flashcards. She laughs when I butcher the tones and prompts me when I can’t read a specific hanzi. And hopefully she’ll be able to see what vocabulary I do know and use that vocabulary when trying to tell me something.

I don’t know if there have been any relationship or psychological benefits due to my attempts at speaking Chinese with my daughter. Does it help our relationship in some way? Does it give her confidence to try speaking English? Does she feel loved because I have made an effort to bridge the language barrier? These are questions I won’t know the answer to for months or maybe even ever. There may be as of yet unseen benefits to all of the time and energy I’ve invested in studying Chinese.

Someday I want to be able to say that I can speak English and Chinese. Although I know how to say that sentence in Chinese, it’s not yet factual! Back to the studying I go!

Two weeks home

I can’t believe we’ve already been home for two weeks!! It seems like such a short amount of time and yet it feels like DoubleShot has been with us for much longer. We’re slowly finding our way and working toward being a family. This week, even though my husband has gone back to work, we’ve been creating lots of bonding opportunities. Jeff works from home so is always around, even if DoubleShot and I are keeping ourselves busy.

DoubleShot and I both enjoy Candy Crush. I downloaded a desktop version so that she can play her own game while I have mine on the Facebook app. We sit side by side and first use up all of her lives and then use up all of mine.

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We’ve been playing lots of games! In Taiwan, we played hours and hours of Uno. I like Uno but I prefer the Euro style board games. We’ve discovered DoubleShot enjoys them as well!

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Carcassonne

This week we tried our hand at hotpot. DoubleShot was so excited to see us gathering all of the ingredients! She took this photo of us while we were waiting for the broth to be ready.

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Unfortunately, the hotpot broth was way too spicy for her and she could only eat a little bit. The past couple days have been too hot for us to try again but today is overcast. We’ll make hotpot again tonight with just a simple broth and lots of veggies, jiaozi, and noodles. I can’t wait!

Yesterday I took DoubleShot to the library. We took her last week but it was still too early. She wasn’t feeling comfortable enough yet to ask for anything, so had just followed us around wide-eyed. But yesterday she picked out some of her own books. When we headed to the checkout counter, she grabbed my arm and gestured back toward the children’s department. I asked if she wanted more books so we headed back that way.

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She picked out a ton! Between the two of us borrowing books, our library bag was overflowing. We will need to get DoubleShot her own library card and library bag for future use. The library is my favorite place in the world and I am thrilled that DoubleShot is enjoying it as well!

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We’ve had a few challenges as well. When DoubleShot started warming up to me, she started getting aggressive. She’s very exuberant and energetic. When she wants my attention, she yells “hey!” and will grab my arm or punch me in the shoulder. She would shove me in the back or try to push me while we’re walking. I don’t believe it’s malicious. I think she’s crying out for attention in the only way she knows. We’ve been reminding her to be more gentle and redirecting her hands but that was only partially successful.

Finally, I sat down and wrote out the TBRI rules from the teen video (more on that later). I labeled them as our family rules and tried to translate them into Chinese. God sent me a gift and I was contacted by another homeschooling family who speaks Chinese and offered to communicate with DoubleShot if necessary. It was perfect timing! I emailed her the rules I had translated and she corrected my Chinese.

Our family rules:
1 – No hurts. Baba and Mama will not hurt you. You will not hurt Baba and Mama.
2 – We all stick together. We work together. We play together.
3 – We all have fun.

We showed them to DoubleShot and then put them on the fridge. Now whenever she gets physically aggressive, we can point to the family rules. So far it has helped!

Our other challenge was mentioned in my week one post, trying to balance DoubleShot’s emotional reliance on her MP5 player with her need for more sleep. We made the decision to allow DoubleShot to continue using the MP5 player at night and that we would curtail usage once we had reached the one month home milestone. Hopefully, by that time, DoubleShot will be bonded with us enough that the loss of her MP5 player would be a blip in the road instead of creating a major meltdown.

Well, yesterday that issue was resolved for us. The MP5 player was well loved but cheaply made. The power button on it broke off and Baba could not fix it. He made a genuine effort, showing DoubleShot that we care about her and want her to be taken care of. However, he was unable to repair the player and it has now been retired.

We spent extra time with DoubleShot last night before bed. We read a picture book aloud (she giggled through the whole thing), gave her a snack, and just spent time laying on our bed hanging out. She calmly went to bed. I passed out and didn’t wake up until 6 this morning but we never heard her moving around or crying. I’m headed downstairs in 15 minutes to wake her up for the day and we’ll see how she does today.

Overall things are still going really well and we love having her here! We’ve had challenging moments and moments of pure joy. My favorite moment this week was Tuesday night when DoubleShot and I lay on my bed while chatting with a friend on FaceBook. DoubleShot likes to send a bunch of stickers in the chat window and my friend is so awesome that she spent time sending a bunch of stickers back. DoubleShot got a huge kick out of that, especially when I let her take and send my friend several pictures. DoubleShot tried to get me to take a selfie but I insisted that she be in the photo as well. Here’s the resulting photo.

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This is the first photo of DoubleShot and I where she is smiling without being prompted by the photographer. Genuine laughter!! It completely made my day.

My little sonar

A couple days ago, DoubleShot started doing something interesting. Quite frequently, she calls out to us. “Hey!” Sometimes it’s loud, sometimes quiet. It’s frequent. “Hey!” We respond back with another “hey!” Back and forth, back and forth. We’ve turned it into a game. I’ll raise or lower my pitch, sing the responses, “hey, ho, hi, hehehe.” She’ll respond back the same.

My husband jokes that she’s turned into our little sonar. Ping. Ping. Ping. “Are you still there? Are you available? Are you paying attention? Do you hear me? Am I visible? Now? What about now?”

Yes, dearie. We hear you! We are here for you! Yup, still here!

It doesn’t matter if we’re at home or out. She does the exact same thing. I am so grateful that I’ve been praying for patience. Before DoubleShot, this kind of behavior would have driven me up the wall. But God has given me a gift and I am able to respond with kindness.

On our walk on Sabbath, Jeff and I even started voicing the meaning behind the behavior when she pinged us. “Yes, DoubleShot, we hear you.” “Yes, we are still here for you.” “Yes, we care about you.” I’m not sure how much she understands, but hopefully some of our affirmations are getting through.

One week home

We have officially survived the first week home!! It’s been an adventure with both ups and downs, though overall I’d say things are going well.

We are still not on a regular sleep schedule, though we are working toward that. DoubleShot is either still on Taiwan time or is forcing herself to remain on Taiwan time. She owns an MP5 player that she uses late into the night. We’ve debated taking it away from her or restricting use but at this point we’ve decided to let her keep it. She’s definitely using it to comfort herself with all of the other changes going on.

We are slowly moving up both bedtime and waking. When we first came home from Taiwan, we were going to bed around one or two in the morning and waking up at one or two in the afternoon. Now we are in bed with lights out by 11:15. Jeff and I wake up about nine in the morning but DoubleShot has to be dragged out of bed. Yesterday I woke her up at 11:30. Today I’ll wake her up at 11. We are hoping that getting her out of bed earlier will force her to fall asleep earlier. If she doesn’t start getting more sleep, we’ll have to reevaluate her MP5 nighttime usage.

At this point, everything is about bonding. When we did all of our pre-adoption training and research, Jeff and I decided that we would focus on bonding first and foremost. A lot of “issues” will work themselves out once we have that bond to draw from. Without it, we are just caretakers. So far, DoubleShot does not know how to ask for anything. She may not trust us to meet her needs or she may not have the confidence to ask. I am not sure of the root cause, but I have noticed she asks for nothing. With connection, we will earn her trust and give her the confidence she needs to know that she is important to us. Her opinions and thoughts and dreams matter.

I’ve had another thought floating around the past couple of days – I now completely understand why parents post on adoption boards and are panicked about English acquisition and schooling. At one week home, our communication is limited to grunts, a few simple English words (mostly interjections), and very little Chinese. One day earlier this week, DoubleShot and I were having some short back and forth dialogs in Chinese but she’s since clammed up. I can see why parents panic about both English and schooling. “Why isn’t my child trying to speak English yet? How in the world am I going to educate her by the time she’s 18? There isn’t enough time!!”

I have had to stop and remind myself that we’ve been home a week. No, she’s not speaking English yet. At this point, I’m trying to get her to speak at all. But we’ve only been home a week. I know conversation will come. We plan to homeschool DoubleShot. Again, at this point, homeschooling is not really an option. We have to build DoubleShot’s confidence levels so that she will start communicating with us on some level before I can teach her math and science and other life skills.

Bonding, bonding, bonding. It’s all about the bonding.

Emerging English?

Our daughter has been mostly quiet for the past couple of days. By “quiet,” I mean she’s not using her words very often. She makes plenty of noise! But yesterday we received a voluntary Chinese sentence – “不要!” This was in response to telling her we’re going to the park – “Don’t want!” I’m glad she felt comfortable enough to tell us that she didn’t want to go but that didn’t stop the outing.

We’ve also heard a couple new English phrases:
“oh no”
“hurry up”
“hey”
“oh my…”

Apparently I was taking too long with my turn at the game so she was urging me to “hurry up.” So amusing. As a side note, she does know some English; she had English tutoring at her orphanage before adoption. I’ve never told her to hurry up! I’m not sure how much English she knows, but assume that she’s like my Chinese skills in that her receptive skills are much better than expressive. I’m also assuming that she doesn’t want to use English yet until she’s confident that she’ll be understood.

It’s interesting to recognize that my own feelings mirror that of so many other parents. We’ve only been a family for eight days; we’ve only been home for five. And yet it feels longer than that. We’re slowly finding a routine, even knowing that baba goes back to work on Monday.

DoubleShot is still sleeping. We’re waking her up earlier each day, trying to nudge her toward a normal wake/sleep schedule. Yesterday I woke her up at 12:45. Today the goal is to have her out of bed by 12:15. I’m hoping to make it to church this weekend, which starts at 11:15. I’m not sure if that is within reach or not!

First few days – a photo post

I understand now why bloggers disappear right after picking up their child. It has been a whirlwind! DoubleShot has been with us for six days and today is day three at home. For now, I’m just going to post some photos and will hopefully be able to write a real blog post soon.

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First photo with all three of us

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Later on day one – in front of the orphanage

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Day two – Tainan Confucius temple

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Day two – Baba and DoubleShot on the bullet train back to Taipei

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Day three – Hello Kitty Cafe – she wasn’t really a fan!

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Day four – Visiting Taipei 101

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Day four – Dinner at Swensen’s

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Day four – Headed home

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Day five – Jenga, a huge hit!

Overall, things are going really well! We are so blessed to have her in our lives!

Mama’s thoughts

I was going to write a post tonight about our fourth day in Taiwan as we traveled from Taipei to Tainan. But that’s not really what’s on my heart tonight. We meet our daughter in only 13 hours. I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts, what’s on my heart this last night of being a family of two. Tomorrow we start life as a family of three.

This trip to Taiwan has been eye-opening. I am falling in love with the country. Life here is so different than life in Bellevue, Washington and yet there are similarities. I’ve been watching the people here. They love and laugh and cry just as I do. And yet there are things that are very different. The pace of life is different here, though I can’t really put my finger on the difference. People are curious about Jeff and I as we walk down the street but are either too shy or reserved to say anything. We stand out. My daughter blends in.

Getting used to the traffic has been an adventure, but I love the way that people are confident about where they need to go and know that they can get there. Pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters, and drivers alike know where they want to go and don’t hesitate to jump out there. And yet it’s organized chaos.

I love the street life here. There are so many little family shops and stalls and food carts. Walking down the street, you see so many different types of foods and clothes and and more food for sale. You can get to everything on foot or take a cheap taxi ride. It’s just so alive.

And we’re taking our daughter away from all of this. Yes, I know we’re giving her a family and I do believe that family is more important than culture. But she’s losing Taiwan and its language and its culture. Her life in America is going to be drastically different than her life would be like in Taiwan. She chose to join our family, she said yes to the judge when asked, but I really wonder if she knew what she was saying yes to. Before we arrived in Taiwan, I didn’t realize just how much we were asking for her to leave behind.

Tomorrow we meet for the first time and I am both excited and terrified. I am excited for the possibilities of our life together. I am excited at the life and security and love that we are offering her. I am excited to get to know our daughter and learn what she’s good at, what she’s afraid of, what her dreams are, what makes her cry, what makes her laugh. I’m excited to watch our first movie together, to play basketball together, to go clothes shopping together, and to eat our first meal together.

And I am also terrified. We’ve been working toward adoption for over two years. We’ve been reading and researching older child adoption, culture loss, grief, trauma, transitions, and a host of other issues and challenges for so long. We’ve embraced the principle of “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” And so we are getting ready to meet our daughter with our eyes wide open of how hard life could be. She’s had a hard life and she’s going to have emotional scars from that. The question is how deep is her pain and how much will it impact all three of us.

I wish that I could embrace adoption as a lovely gift that’s full of joy. But I know that adoption comes from loss. Our daughter already lost both of her parents. Now she’s losing her friends, her caretakers, her culture. She’s gaining parents, security, love, and hope. Our transition could be really hard or it could be really easy or anywhere in between. Both Jeff and I want to adopt again; we have been praying and hoping for an “easy” first adoption so that we will have the courage to adopt again, to say yes to another long and emotional adoption journey.

I pray that my daughter is at peace tonight. I pray that she will have courage to face all of the changes that are coming her way. I pray that she will allow us to love her.

Taipei – Day 3

Note – I started writing this post yesterday but didn’t quite finish. It’s written from Sabbath’s perspective, even though today is Sunday.

Since today was Sabbath, we spent most of the day resting at the hotel. We were so ready for a break! I woke up at 4:30 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. After breakfast, I rested awhile and had fun on Facebook before crashing back into bed at 9:30. I guess we aren’t quite adjusted to Taiwan’s timezone after all!

Yesterday, we visited a Family Mart and bought a basket full of groceries. We ate some last night and the rest today. Both breakfast and lunch were a random mix of foods but it was fun trying a bunch of new things.

Fruit sandwich! One half was peaches and one half was kiwi. I loved the peaches half. I might have to try making a peach sandwich at home.

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Vegetable and fruit yogurt. Really? Really! The yogurt tasted like peach yogurt.

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But the chunks at the bottom were corn. I never would have guessed that someone would put corn in yogurt but it was actually really good! I guess we learn something new every day if we’re willing to venture out of our comfort zone…

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I had to post this photo on Facebook and ask about the white seeded fruit. I’d never eaten it before. The consensus was Dragonfruit! How fun! Dragonfruit is on my list of foods to try and I ended up eating it before I even realized that’s what it was. I thought it was a bit bland but still good. I would definitely eat it again.

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We also got this pineapple bread.

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Yum, yum, yum. I want to eat this again too!

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Honey milk – not something I would choose to drink straight but I think it would be really good in coffee.

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The apple bread was part of our lunch. Also a really amazing tasting pastry! I’m not usually a pastry person but we’ve had some amazing Taiwanese pastries.

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Chinese Sprite. Not as sweet as what you’d find in America.

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After sundown, we headed back out on to the streets in search of dinner. We stumbled across a bustling street with tons of street vendors. I wish we could have stayed and eaten dinner there but we already had a plan in mind.

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First, we located the Hello Kitty Cafe. We are hoping to take our daughter here when we come back to Taipei next week.

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Then we ate dinner at Macho Taco, a place that claims to have authentic Mexican food. I would say it’s about as authentic as what you would get at a semi-authentic Mexican restaurant in America. It’s about half there but still delicious.

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There were several protein options available for the food. I wanted nachos and my husband ordered a burrito. Both of us chose tofu as the additional source of protein. I don’t know how they prepared this tofu but it was FANTASTIC.

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After dinner, we walked to Taipei 101 because I wanted to go inside and see what causes all the buzz about the shopping. Outside the building, they have a beautiful fountain that the kids can play in. I took a minute long video of the fountain display but will have to wait until we’re back home to load it on YouTube.

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Lots of escalators! That was my favorite part of the mall.

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A view from the top floor looking down. It was a bit dizzying.

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And the Taipei 101 mascot out front.

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Quite honestly, I don’t really see the appeal. Most of the stores were familiar to us and available at our mall at home. There were a few new-to-us stores but everything looked expensive. We power walked around each floor just to say we’ve been there but were happy to check it off our list.

We may go back with our daughter just to see the observatory. Maybe. My husband hates heights with a passion and doesn’t want to go up. I think it would be fun but it’s not on my must-do list.

After Taipei 101, we were planning to get ice cream before heading back to the hotel. However, both of us were worn out and just wanted to go to bed. We spent about three hours exploring Taipei’s Saturday nightlife and I loved how busy and vibrant it all was. I really want to come back to Taiwan and spend more time living like the locals.

Once back at the hotel, we stayed up a little bit longer just so that we could sleep all night and then crashed into bed. It was a good day!