Monday, April 30, 2012

Making Others' Memories

I know, I’ll be the first to admit it. I have cute kids. Even when I try to look through the unbiased lens of someone who did not carry them around in her womb for nine months, I continually come to the conclusion that they are pretty stinking adorable. Exhibit A:


 A certain smile, a giggle, a new trick, or cuddles with her sister and I am over the moon once again, lost in their unbelievable adorability.  So, I am not surprised when other people stop to take a gander at our little beauties. I mean, come on, there are two of them, right? 

Here is what I don’t get. Why do swarms of people line up to take their picture or, better yet, have their own photo taken while holding the foreign baby? Wherever we go, iPhones come out and pictures are taken of the girls. If we are at a public park or other location where we are stationary for some period of time, crowds gather and queues form as if they were red carpet-bound starlets.   
Unless we are in a hurry to get somewhere or they make my baby cry, I honestly don’t mind it too much. (I do worry that our girls will grow up with pathologically inflated egos and severe narcissism but I suppose we can cross that bridge when we come to it.) I just don’t understand the desire to photograph other people’s children. I often see cute ankle-biters around wearing little tutus or overalls and I let out a contented sigh and an adoring smile. But I don’t stop to take their picture. I mean, how does that conversation happen?

Hey, honey, how was your day?
Oh not bad, but guess what I saw during my lunch break?
What, dear?
A foreign baby!
No, I don’t believe it!
Why yes! Here is the photographic evidence!
Wow, that baby sure is foreign!

Or maybe it goes a little something like this:
Hey, do you want to see my pictures from my vacation to beautiful South Korea?
Okay, here we are at the palace, and here we are with the cherry blossoms. Here we are at Seoul tower. And HERE we are with foreign babies!
Oh wow, you saw foreign babies? Incredible! Now I want to go to Seoul!

I’m really not sure. I genuinely would like to hear how those photos are explained. To be honest, my goal when taking pictures is to have as few strangers in them as possible. We stand at certain angles, aim the camera in a certain direction and all of a sudden we transform a crowded park into a secluded family scene. That’s what I’m after but apparently we don’t see eye to eye on the subject. Maybe when we are in the States this summer and I come upon a cute Korean baby, I’ll have you take my picture holding him/her. Then I’ll show the picture to my family and friends and figure out just how to have that conversation. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

From Generation to Generation

Some things that you need to know about our family: Chris loves sports. I mean, really loves sports. Quite possibly the number one thing he misses about being in America is ESPN. When I was pregnant, the idea that our girls might pick up on my tragically un-athletic gene was a horror that was left unspoken for nine months. Happily, Lily and Lucy were able to put their old man’s mind at ease at their doljabi celebration where they each confirmed their propensity for sports by choosing soccer and basketball respectively. Coming from a family whose giftings are… elsewhere, shall we say, I sometimes chuckle about the high priority that sports hold in our daughters’ futures.

After a more thorough examination, however, I have to count myself guilty of a similar desire. It is entirely possible that I love food as much as Chris loves sports. I quite literally plan our vacations around countries known for their cuisine. We went to Vietnam a few years ago with the lone goal of drinking the coffee and eating the soup. And it was awesome. So in the same way that Chris wants our dear daughters to share in his love of athletics, I want them to love being in the kitchen and tantalizing their taste buds.

I shared earlier that this year was the one where I came into my own in the kitchen. I relearned my way around and started joyfully filling our bellies once again. Recently, I came to the conclusion that satisfying my and Chris’ culinary wanderlust wasn’t enough. I wanted my daughters to learn to appreciate new flavors and to eventually enjoy eating like I do. (Selfishly, I really just want someone to get as excited as I do when the local grocery store starts carrying nutmeg and then start scouring the internet for as many recipes as I can find that call for it.)

So, since the girls’ tiny palates are still in my hands, I decided to try some new recipes. A good friend of mine offered a toddler cookbook and I was off. Hummus, roasted red peppers, falafel, corn fritters, sautéed tofu, you name it and I was going to try it. I was amazed at how willing the girls were to try my new concoctions. Some recipes I put on the table fully expecting them to turn their noses up at (or projectile spit across the room). But, these little troopers have put their mouths to the task and have given most recipes a big BOGO thumbs up (or a “more” sign gesture, same thing pretty much).

So, for anyone who is interested, this is what we have discovered concerning the girls’ preferences so far:

Hummus: love it

Falafel: can’t get it in the mouth fast enough

Roasted red pepper pasta with tofu: hands down their favorite meal

Strawberries: won’t touch them

Olives: Lily, not so much; Lucy, loves them

Raw red pepper: Lily, definitely; Lucy, no

Kiwi: absolutely not

Sautéed tofu: usually the protein of choice

Salted seaweed (aka “kim” in Korean): by far their favorite snack

And so, there you have it. I never would have guessed that a small child would prefer seaweed to strawberries but I stand corrected. Wish us luck as we try to pass down our passions to our children and I wish you luck in the same endeavor. Here’s hoping our girls order something other than chicken fingers at restaurants and can actually learn to do a lay-up.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back to Taiwan

Now, I know what you all are thinking. Christmas was so long ago, isn't it about time for the Simpsons to go on vacation again? I know, it has been a long three months for us too. But, fear not! This last week was our long-anticipated spring break and we were able to pack everyone up to meet Mama C and Granddad in our beloved Taipei.

Here are a few mementos from the trip:

Our expert travelers making their entertainment selection

Lily eating from Granddad's chopsticks at one of our favorite restaurants

Lucy and Mama C

Lucy riding the subway

The glass-bottomed gondola

The playground with Mama C and Granddad

The Fam at Big Tom's Ice Cream at Sun Yat Sen

We are now accepting applications for teaching abroad.