Monday, October 27

Discipline and Budgeting...

Today begins week three of my journey to being a runner. This morning at 8:30 I began and was able to successfully run 5 minutes, walk 1, run 5, ... for thirty minutes... which means I ran 25 minutes and walked 5 total. That's something eh? December 6th I will reach my goal of running for 30 minutes straight. I'm pretty excited about this and can already feel the benefits... although I was also feeling side stiches and some shin pain this morning too! Going to the park earlier also meant that I was able to see more people exercising - there was a huge group of women (maybe 30) doing aerobic dance in the park and then another large group of women doing what seemed to be ballroom dance practice. It was so funny, especially when they pulled out their Chinese umbrellas. I really need to take the video camera into the park. I also watched a few people doing Tai Chi. I have always been told that exercising gives you energy. I don't know why then that from 1-3pm I always feel super sleepy - especially on days that I exercise. Hmmm?

Mondays are busy for me. I run, come back, eat breakfast, shower, review my meal plan, go to the grocery and then bring back all of the goods on the scooter. It's quite the adventure. Then I have some down time before making dinner, then cleaning up..a bit more down time and then.... it's off to work. Today we had French Bread and home made Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It's note quite Panera, and it probably didn't help that I used skim milk.... :) But it was good all the same. (scroll down for the recipe... I also want to try her Chicken Taco Soup).

Since I am hoping to hear back soon from the University of Missouri about whether or not I am accepted into their Masters of Education program, Nic and I are trying our best to save as much money as we can so that we can pay off my Master's degree without any debt. We have made a budget that we are working hard to stick to, and are using the "Envelope System" to help us stick to it. (You can read a little about the envelope system here: and It's basic but keeps us from being tempted to dip into our savings. In a world where the economy is unpredictable and many newly weds start out trying to imitate the lifestyles that their parents have achieved after 20 years of hard work... Nic and I are doing our best to be smart, work hard, live simply and to think about the future!

I must admit that I am pretty excited about this coming weekend. We have a special birthday in the family, (Nic will be 28!) and we have saved our "recreation/ going out" cash for this event - so we should be able to really enjoy it! Dessert... here I come!

I am thankful for this time now when we are in a country where we don't have easy access to the conveniences of life so that we can learn to be wise with our earnings and to grow in self-discipline! So far, so good!

Tuesday, October 21

Cultivating a Thankful Spirit...

There are days in Taiwan when it would be very easy to be unthankful about things that are inconvenient.

-My "kitchen" is a table and there's not much room for food prep!
-I have no oven.
-Things like to burn and stick on the hot plate...
-It's hard to find known ingredients at the grocery.
-Known ingredients are hard to pick due to the fact that it's all written in Chinese. (Do I want tun with Japanese sauce or a tuna spread?) grr...
- I teach on Friday nights and on Saturday mornings now (I was just assigned a Saturday morning class from 10:30-12:30)

But when I have days when I want to complain or be unthankful, I remember how blessed I am to have running water. How blessed I am to have transportation to the grocery store, how blessed I am to have a job to be able to buy groceries. I want to have a heart that's thankful; the turns to God in the moments when I am tempted to complain and that thanks Him for his blessings in my life. I know that there is always something in life that I will be tempted to complain about - and I don't want to be "a complainer." My hope is that this amazing experience of living in Taiwan will help me to become a thankful person!

Updates on goals: I have been following this running program.

I am currently on Week 2 of this program. I ran 3 minutes and walked one minutes repeatedly today repeatedly. It's slow moving but if I'm dedicated I'm hoping it will pay off! I think some of the people like to watch me run - the foreigner running in the park. I would probably seem more normal if I were stretching on the monkey bars or slapping my body and stretching. ;) On another funny note - in the grocery store people look at my cart a lot! They slowly stop and try to see what the foreigner is buying. You just have to smile and keep going! :)

Ok - today we have Taco Potatoes for lunch. I'm trying to decide whether to boil and put the taco stuff on the boiled potato or if I should boil and mash and then put the stuff on the mashed potatoes. Hmmmm... How I look forward to my toaster oven.. that's our next purchase... which will happen before next Friday. :)

Wednesday, October 15

Update ... Goals... and Every Day Taiwan

Thanks for praying for my Grandma. She did have a heart-attack. This is her third heart-attack, but she is the most amazing lady I know, so she is a trooper and from what I hear is resting and is well-taken care of. Praise God! It's hard being away from family when things like this happen because I want so badly to stay in the loop!

This year I have set quite a few goals for myself. They are mainly physical goals that I have set in order to use my free time effectively. Since I don't have to work until 4pm most days of the week (the exception is Wednesday when we leave around 1pm) I have quite a bit of time on my hands and I want to use it wisely. We have decided not to have a TV this year, however, I will admit that we were addicted to LOST online and do plan on watching it once the new season comes out in January, however, that will be 40 minutes once a week. So, in the scheme of things, we will not have much "television" time this year and I want to make good use of that time.

Here are my goals.

I want to enjoy running. Right now I have a 10 week plan set that moves me from run/walking to running 2 miles straight. For some people, this goal might be laughable, but I really do want to be able to go for runs and enjoy them. I want to be healthy when I am old. I want to be like the elderly here that do stretches in the park for hours and walk and shake their hips as they stretch - and oh, did I mention, they also hike mountains and play tennis. Talk about a wake up call.

I want to speak Basic Mandarin. At least. I figure, you can't move to a place like Taiwan, live in the culture, and not learn to speak it. I enjoy languages. I think that getting basic Mandarin under my belt would better me as an individual and it will certainly keep my brain active. It will also help me to navigate this land and I will feel better in attempting to communicate; at least I will be making an effort to speak their language rather than expecting and hoping that they can speak mine!

I want to learn more about photography. This will be more of a free-time reading and practicing hobby. I have been to some pretty amazing places in the past few months, I know that I will be to more in the months to come, and I want to be able to have great pictures to look back on!

So those are my "free-time" goals for this year. Of course, there are the deeper, more important goals of growing in my faith and relationship with Christ, learning to be a better friend and helper to my husband and of blessing and ministering in a local church. Those were always set. These are new goals that I have recently decided upon.

Every-Day Taiwan

Here are more fun tid-bits about life in Taiwan.
*Random people like to ask you personal questions. The ladies at the tea shop by my job (where I buy my Passion Fruit Green Tea, almost daily,) have a new question for me each time they see me. How old are you? How long have you been here? Where are you from? I have never felt like such a fascinating person before. They make me smile. Oh, and then there's the random people at red lights who try to ask you questions in Chinese until they realize you don't speak it. Sad.

*A "yummy" snack was offered to me yesterday at work. Shrimp flavored "cookies" - it was more like pork rinds... but didn't taste bad. I'm trying to broaden my horizons in the gastronomical area, slowly but surely.

*Strangers will tell you that you're "beautiful." It's encouraging.

*People on scooters wear their jackets backwards. I don't know why - we hear it's to stop the wind, but I'm not 100% sure that's the answer.

*If you're trying to buy fruit or something at a little market, the seller really tries hard to get you to buy other stuff too. Right now the fact that we don't speak Chinese helps to ward off this problem.

*Sometimes people want to take pictures with you - just because you're a foreigner. Sometimes it's fun - sometimes it's just awkward.

*In the 7-11s, that are on every street corner, they have eggs boiling in tea. They are a snack here. They smell awful and make me dread walking into the 7-11, although, I think I'm becoming accustomed to the smell now as it doesn't bother me like it used to. 7-11 also offers bill-paying services, faxing, photo-copying and printing services. You can also pay your speeding tickets there (so we hear... don't panic. :)

And that's all I can think of for now. My brain is shutting down so I'm going to go get some sweet sleep.

Tuesday, October 14

Grandma and Our Road Trip

If you are reading this, you could say a prayer for my grandmother. She is the most amazing woman I know, has had 2 heart attacks, open heart surgery and has survived breast cancer and we think she may have had another heart attack. She is currently being monitored and hospitalized. It's hard being away from family and friends at times like this, but I am at peace knowing that God is in control and that He loves her a whole lot more than I do.

In other news, Nic and I had an amazing time this past weekend on a road trip through up, over and through mountains of Toroko National Park. It was beautiful though and we were actually above the clouds at some points. We drove through the clouds (actually got wet because of them) and it was so cold but the views were breathtaking! On the way over it was a 10 hour scooter ride and on the way back it took about 8 hours. We stayed in Hualien, a beautiful tropical city on the east coast of Taiwan. It was really relaxing and then on Saturday we went to a black sand cobblestone beach. I have posted all of my pictures at the following link, but am hoping to get more that friends took soon.

We are now getting back into a routine. I must say - it is nice to be back at our place and not be using hostel bathrooms! We are also trying to wake up earlier in the morning in order to get full use of day before we have to leave for work around 3:45 daily. Today I ran at the park that's three minutes from our apartment. It was great. Not as beautiful as running on the beach in Bermuda or along Bermuda's south shore, but it is so nice to have the park so close so that I can get a good workout. Today a bunch of little kindergarten aged kids saw me - I waved and said hello, and they were so excited. They waved and laughed and said hello.

I also took wedding pictures into classes today for the kids to have a look at. In my second class an 11 year old boy innocently said "Teacher, you are so beautiful." Hahaha... it was just precious.

Well, that's all of my ramblings for now. If you don't know my Grandma's name, it's Olive Correia. Please keep her in your prayers.

Thursday, October 9

On Being A Wife ... and other ramblings...

I am so appreciative of my mother. I have only been a wife for three months and my appreciation for my mother has increased so much over the past few months. Don't get me wrong, I love being a wife. I love cooking, I don't mind cleaning, and I love learning more about how to be a better wife. I never realized though how busy being a wife can keep you! Also, I must say that I am truly blessed with a helpful husband. If Nic sees me doing something he will pitch right in and help - and he also has taken it upon himself to be the "dishwasher" in our family. So, as you can see -I am completely blessed. Beyond that, we also don't have a washer or dryer in our apartment and therefore use a service that is provided right next to our apartment building. They wash, dry and fold our clothes. All I have to do in that department is put my clothes away, as Nic takes the laundry down for me and puts his clothes away. So I don't do that much, but thinking about planning meals, sweeping the floor, cleaning of the kitchen counter, cleaning the glass, deep cleaning the fridge, cleaning the bathroom, etc etc.. it all takes up so much time! This morning I woke up around 8:30. I read my Bible, and another book for a little while, made coffee and oatmeal for Nic and I and then began my work. I wasn't finished until 1pm. Well, I need to let you know that my "dishwasher" is officially out of commission for the next few days as he tore up his hands on equipment at the park yesterday. I'll post a picture of that for you soon. But yes, he had really bad blisters that all burst on his hands, and I'll leave it there. I also cleaned the bathroom and mopped today, but it just takes so long! Of course, making lunch (which needs to be a full meal for us since we work until 9pm at night) took up time too. The fact that this takes up so much time just makes my mind reel because I am not even a mother! It's just Nic and I!

All that to say, Mom, I love you so much and appreciate all that you and Dad did for me. My mother and grandmother have been my inspiration in my desire to take this "wife" thing seriously.. and to do a good job of it.

I read quite a bit of blogs by some women and have found some great ideas about meal-planning. This website: is a place where a ton of women post their weekly meal plans on Mondays. It's great to get some ideas from them! I also found this website: - here you can search recipes by ingredient - which is very helpful if you want to use up items you have around the house.

In other news, Nic and I will be road-tripping this weekend. Tomorrow (Friday) is 10/10 - a national holiday here in Taiwan to comemorate an uprising . We are going to go with some other foreigners on a scooter trip east and then south. We will stay two nights in a hostel, hopefully see a lot of cool things along the way and of course will take a lot of photos that you can look forward to come Sunday. We are taking a backpack each and are going "snack" shopping tonight for this excursion. We are pretty excited about it.

The water just boiled, I'm going to go make myself a cup of tea. :)

Sunday, October 5

3 months of marriage and a month in Taichung

We have now been living in Taichung for a month. We are settling into a routine and are enjoying our little apartment. We now have a plant which we are loving.

We also were blessed by a delivery from Taipei that was full of things like towels, cutlery, dishes, and Christmas decor. This was left behind from when my (Mel's) college roommate, Katie Cole, lived in Taipei. It was like Christmas for us! We are so thankful for this!

Last night we went on a date out to TGI Fridays ... it was such a special treat! We both ordered an appetizer each, and a meal (we were so stuffed and felt like gluttons, but it was so nice to taste good Western food!) and then we proceeded to order one dessert to share between us. It was a three layer brownie with ice-cream, chocolate sauce, and carmel sauce on it. It was delicious! So much fun. This special date night was in celebration of our three month anniversary. We also spent the afternoon in the park, chatting about life and eating cheese and crackers - so it was wonderful to have a rain-free Saturday to enjoy Taiwan!

Today we went back to our church (which was cancelled last week to the Super Typhoon) and were so blessed. A lady was baptized which was cool to see, and then, I know that I (Mel) am just in awe of the passion that the locals here have in their worship. I think it's due to the fact that they are free from tradition, free from bondage and fear- and they are not complacent - they didn't grow up in a Christian culture - they truly celebrate Christ and know that He is powerful to change lives.

This afternoon we went to the Home Group for foreigners in the church. It was really encouraging to be with those believers. They prayed for us as we shared our desire to serve God here but are unsure how that will work out as we have the language barrier. We were encouraged and blessed by their fellowship, love and prayers. We know that God has us here for a reason and we hope to find a way to serve Him and His Church here in Taiwan.

Here are some cool things the church does:

*Free kids English classes (used for outreach)
*A Parenting class for parents of kids in the English classes (many moms stay and a lot have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior due to this outreach)
*An English adults intro to Bible class (It's a class to teach people God's word, held in English - (many adults come merely for the English - but have come to Christ through this too.)

It's also an amazing experience to worship God in both Chinese and English - I hope that I can really learn some songs and commit the Chinese worship to memory.

We are also blessed looking back at how God has worked in our lives to bring us here. We don't think that we really knew what God had in store - but this has truly been a wonderful bonding time for us in our marriage - as we seek to learn more about our God, more about each other and about ourselves.

We love you all, we miss you all and we so appreciate your continued prayers. Please feel free to comment and let us know of any prayer requests you might have. We love to stay updated on what's going on in our homes and how we can pray for those we love so dearly.

Just for the fun of it, here are some of our favorite things so far in Taiwan:

*The mountains
*Passionate Christians.
*Teas - Mel's favorite = Passion Fruit Green Tea (on Ice) YUM!
*The fried rice at the night market - a five minute walk from our building.
*The work hours. We get a whole day before we have to leave for work.
*The kids are really stinking cute!
*People are really sweet to us, even though we can be completely ignorant regarding their culture and language.
*Oreo's from the convenience store
*Did we say.... fried rice?
*Really cheap local meals - although I (Mel) am still learning which ones my taste buds like.

And our desires/ goals/ free time pursuits... when we're not spreading English to the masses:

-We both want to learn more Chinese
-I (Mel) have applied for a Master's Program (Master's of Education in Curriculum and Instruction - focus in Literacy), so if I
get accepted that will take up some of my free time.
-Nic is loving reading Christian books (right now he's working on Mere Discipleship)
-We both want to exercise more... I think the park nearby will be a good way to do that.
-Nic is thinking about learning guitar
-I am reading more about being a wife (i.e. making healthy, economical meals, etc.... I've found some great blogs I spend a bit of time perusing.)
-and of course, involvement in the church and exploring more of Taiwan!