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Douglas...

Douglas has a new address. The tears have been real today, folks.



Before he left this morning, his car filled with his belongings, he told me, "I like where I am in life right now." And that is all that really matters.

He is happy. We are so thankful for the man he is. We aren't worried that he isn't ready for this.

But I still can't reconcile it all in my mind.

I cried when he went to visit school the first time, the year before he actually started. I cried when he started school, his lunchbox carefully packed and a special bag I made for him to carry papers in clutched in his little hands.

I know we will get used to this. But today it hurts. Today I keep wondering how that adorable baby boy who made me a Mama almost 19 years ago can possibly be a grown man.

I'm Not Ready To Be Done

I wanted to write more while I was in Taiwan, but time and exhaustion being what they are I just didn't manage to do it. So even though I've been home for almost a week, I'm not ready to be finished with the Taiwan posts yet.

We couldn't all go in one gondola, so here is the rest of our group.



The day we went sightseeing ended up being gorgeous! We rode the Maokong gondola cable cars up the mountain to this adorable little village with breathtaking views. We went to a restaurant that one of the ladies from the orphanage recommended and we all loved the food! Sitting out on a veranda eating delicious food and sipping tea looking out over the mountains with Taipei 101 in the distance was an experience I would recommend to anyone.

These candied strawberries were amazing!




They added tea leaves to most of the dishes.

Dragon beard vegetables 



We ordered a pot of tea and then requested a refill. The man carrying the tea pots just came and replaced our tea pot with a full one. When Gongzhan asked him what kind was in the full pot he just waved his hand and said, "It is the same!" It wasn't, but he obviously did not think the stupid Americans would know the difference.




The gondola we took both up the mountain and back down had a glass floor. Weirdly it wasn't as scary as it sounds, though it could be a little bit concerning if you thought about it too much. Mostly it was just awesome to see everything from that vantage point.





On our way back down the mountain we stopped at the Taipei zoo. It cost about $2.50 USD to get in and was so beautiful! There were orchids growing on the trees everywhere. We didn't have a lot of time there, but did see a few animals, including pandas, so it everyone was satisfied.






From there we took the metro to an underground market. By then I was so exhausted I thought I couldn't keep going, but I found some cute little socks to bring home to Annika, so that was fun.

The metro was really crowded!
It was the most tiring day of the trip and I almost skipped going and stayed at the hotel because I thought it might be that way, but I would have missed out on so much if I had.

Taiwan

I wrote this and didn't get it posted on Wednesday. I'm going to post it now, so that I can post  at bout the rest of the week without it getting too long.

It is Wednesday morning here in Taiwan. We spent Monday and yesterday in one orphanage and we will be going to the next orphanage tomorrow and Friday, but we have the day off today. We are planning to do some sightseeing and get caught up on work that falls behind when we are gone all day. I want to back up all of the photos and videos I've taken so far and answer a few emails.



But first I want to tell you a little about our first 2 days here. The trip here was pretty uneventful. I had a last-minute panic at home when I almost didn't get my prescriptions re-filled in time, but that worked out OK thanks to a 24 hour Walgreens close to the Newark airport. I've learned how to actually sleep on flights, so that makes the long flight so much more bearable. We arrived at the hotel about 8:30 Sunday night and needed to be ready to leave for the orphanage by 8:30 Monday morning.

We have a really nice team this time, it always varies a bit, and it always works just fine, but it is always good to get into it and have everything working smoothly.



I decided to bring my little photo printer this time and print photos for the kids. I used to do this in China, but it had been a while since I brought it. And I am so glad I did! Some of my favorite moments so far have been printing photos and watching their little faces as they see their pictures printing.

The other thing I have absolutely loved is the little makeup kit and the "create your own headband" kit we brought. It is so fun to let the little girls choose their makeup and fingernail polish colors and help them apply it, help them decorate a headband, then take a picture and print it.



Yesterday one sweet boy, who wants a family very badly, came into the room and got so excited to see me. He gave me a huge hug and my heart just broke. He really wants to be chosen. He will be 10 soon, the same age as my sweet little Eliana and he doesn't understand why other children have been chosen by families and he has not. I don't understand it either. We will certainly do our best to see him in a family!



Last night the orphanage directors and some of the staff took us to a wonderful Hibachi restaurant. I had steak, rice, cabbage, soup, and several different side dishes. Then they brought out dessert, which was this pancake filled with a purple sweet potato filling. It was different, but pretty good. They gave us gifts of pineapple cakes and some other kind of cookie/cake thing (hey kids, I'm bringing home pineapple cake!). They are always very gracious and welcoming to our team.

So we are going to head out in about 30 minutes. I'll post more later as time permits.