This week my mind finally began to relax as I had convinced myself that there were no more absurdly large spiders in living in my bedroom. For a month I have been jumping out of my skin at every corner, haunted by creepy-crawly nightmares, and grinding my teeth to the bone. A cute little gecko moved in, and seeing him around made me feel confident that he was our only guest.


There are two way to achieve a nubby smile: 1) Eating grass 2) Grinding your teeth because you’re an arachnophobe sleeping in a spider-infested room.

Last night I noticed that my gecko’s tail had fallen off–a defense mechanism when they feel threatened. Chris and I nervously joked that our little roommate probably saw a spider twice his size and his tail detached as he was sprinting away.

We went to bed and all was well until I made my way back from the bathroom at 2 am. There, standing in the doorway to my bedroom was “the beast.” Reincarnated or resurrected. Who can say?

I grabbed the designated spider-killing flip flop, and stood there rooted to the spot… too afraid to move… too afraid to kill it. All I could do was to stare, despite the fact that I didn’t want to, at his grape-sized abdomen and long, jointed legs. I would have called for Chris, but he doesn’t respond well to being woken up in the middle of the night. It’s kind of like poking a bear after it just cozied in to hibernate for the winter.

You may recall that we had a similar situation in China:

Eventually Kinley got hungry and started crying. I was still frozen in the hall while the spider held his ground in the doorway. My maternal instincts (apparently lacking) weren’t strong enough for me to jump over the spider and run to my crying baby.

Kinely’s continued crying eventually woke Chris and the bear within. His anger proved to be productive since he channeled it in to killing the spider so he could go back in to hibernation mode. This morning he admitted that he would be too terrified to get remotely near the beast it if he were his usual self.

Although the spider was dead, I nearly had a complete metal breakdown. I had to force myself to sit down and feed my hysterical baby although I was trembling like like I had come within an inch of my life. Kinley likes to lightly skim her fingers up my neck and across my face while she’s nursing. Last night it nearly threw me in to hysterics. There were so many times I almost dumped her on the bed and ran away from her little fingers as they made spider trails up my neck and back.

I eventually went upstairs and sat in the middle of the floor. I was too afraid to be downstairs, too afraid to sit on the sofa in case there were spiders in the cushions, and too afraid to be near a wall for fear they would crawl across it and land on me. I literally think I might be going a little bit crazy. In my defense, all of my childhood nightmares were about spiders, and things seem much scarier when it’s the middle of the night. The grogginess is disorienting and suddenly your very calm, sleepy heart rate gets an unfair shot of adrenaline.

When I did eventually navigate my way back downstairs, I stepped on something soft (the ear of a stuffed animal) and literally dove into bed where I broke in to tears. Chris had assumed his usual teddy bear personality and joked with me until I could settle down enough to go to sleep.

The moral of the story is: I’m going to need some serious dental and mental work when I get home.


While this is not “the” spider, I feel it’s an accurate depiction so perhaps you can begin to understand the source of my anxiety.


One Hand Shy And One Watermelon Too Many

I’ve decided that it isn’t fair for moms to only have 2 arms. As they are grow a baby, they should grow an extra arm. It would be a small task compared to creating a human from two cells.

Today I went grocery shopping on my first outing and not only did it take 3 hours, but ended poorly. I had Kinley strapped to me and my little grandma cart in tow (it’s a bag on wheels that grandmas and shameless Americans use), and was feeling pretty optimistic about the trip. Grocery shopping was fine, but getting home was the impossible part.

Kinley got the ball rolling with a massive, ugly meltdown as I was leaving the store. While dragging my stupidly heavy cart full of groceries (including a watermelon) behind me, it started raining. The bus took ages to come (still standing outside in the rain), and when it did, it took three people to shove me, Kinley, and my heavy, off balance cart inside. Kinley’s screaming continued.

I had to transfer buses, and the second bus took just as long to arrive. When it finally did, the bus doors opened and I nearly cried. I had to climb 4 incredibly steep steps to get inside, and everyone on board was elderly and in no shape to assist me. Taiwan usually has a very quick and efficient bus system, but not with me in town.

I threw my jumbo pack of diapers inside the door and somehow managed to drag (literally drag on my hands and knees) myself, Kinley, and my impossibly heavy grandma cart up the stairs. Damn watermelon. While doing so, I smacked Kinley’s head on a pole. My greatest accomplishment today was not having a meltdown myself.

I’m sure the elderly Taiwanese were amused to watch this frazzled, frizzy-haired foreigner juggling her screaming baby and groceries, and think to them selves, “It’s nice to have my two hands back.”


Grocery shopping… when we were both still smiling.

Ding Dong The Beast Is Dead!

Which old beast? The beasty beast. Ding, dong the beasty beast is deaddddddd!

Last night while getting Kinley ready for bed, I saw a “little” spider scurry across the floor and decided to avenge my injured foot by killing it. I was feeling pretty proud of myself so I called down Carrie’s sons to see my good work. As they were praising me for my bravery, one of them said, “Woah, that’s a big spider!” I assumed he was trying to humor me by referring to the one I had just killed. Nope, the beast was hanging on the wall right behind Kinley.

Don’t be fooled by this picture, Chris played no part in demolishing the spider. We were all too scared to get within 10 feet of it, so Fearless Carrie came down and killed that spider dead.


While the beast’s death has brought me some me some peace of mind, I still worry that the spider we killed and the spider in our bathroom are not the same. What if there are more we don’t know about? Chris said that last night he woke up because I was standing in the middle of the room screaming. I tend to be a pretty heavy sleep talker/walker, so I don’t remember any of this, but it’s apparent that I’m still very disturbed subconsciously about the whole ordeal.


Return of “The Beast”

Last night in a groggy haze, I got up to feed Kinley and go to the bathroom. Mind you, I haven’t had a full night of sleep in 7 months so my spider detection skills aren’t their sharpest at 4 am. You know the scene in scary movies when the victim looks in the bathroom mirror and sees something terrifying behind them?


Yes, that scene. Last night, I was the innocent victim and the beast was the terrible reflection that I somehow managed to see without my glasses on.

I don’t think you can fully appreciate how large this spider is until I convince you of my astonishingly poor eyesight. For those of you who wear corrective eye ware, mine falls between a -8 and a -9. My eye doctor explained it to me like this: most people see the big “E” from 20 feet away and therefore have 20/20 vision or something close to it. For me to see an “E” clearly from 20 feet away, it would be so large that the average person would be able to see it with equal clarity from 1,000 feet away. So basically I have really, really bad eyesight and with my bad eyesight I was still able to see this ginormous spider on the wall behind me.

Blinded by terror, I managed to trip while bolting for the door. I bruised the bone in my foot and literally skidded across the floor. I’ve been pathetically hobbling around all day feeling defeated by a spider that still continues to evade and haunt me.



We’re baaaaaaack!


After three years, we are back in Taiwan! Kinley did reasonably well on the flight (it’s misery regardless of your age), but she is having a difficult time adjusting to the new 15 hour time change. I was DEAD TIRED the night we arrived (only having had 4 hours of sleep in the previous 2 days), so I was planning on hitting the hay for the best sleep of my life. Kinley had different plans and decided to play with her toys until 4:30 am.

I believe this is a fairly accurate portrayal of how I looked.


Since Kinley’s delicate schedule has been uprooted, she has become a pile of emotional wreckage and tears. This is very unlike her, so I think this move has ruined her happy demeanor.

We are staying with Chris’ boss, Ross, and his wife Carrie. Their beautiful house in Yang Ming Shan overlooks Taipei. On the down side, we are more removed from the city so I’m learning to juggle a baby, groceries, and public transportation.

ImageChris and I are living in the basement and we have had a few unexpected roommates since we moved in.

Our first morning in Formosa, 2 inch spider scurried across the floor. Chris grabbed the designated spider-killing flip flop and smashed it. Now, 2″ in not a small spider by my standards, but it is small by Taiwanese standards. Literally a minute after we killed the “little guy”, Chris opened a cupboard in our room and unleashed a behemoth (or in Chris’ words, “a big a** spider”). Both are understatements. “The Beast,” as I shall call him, is roughly the size of a coaster and is still rooming with us. We were too scared to smash him on sight (it would have taken more than a flip flop to kill that monster) so now he is hiding somewhere among our things. Probably in my clothes. Or my bed.

The trauma of having a giant spider living in my room is upsetting my psychological stability. I’m constantly scanning the walls, checking my bed before I get in, and shaking out my clothes before I put them on. Not only is it emotionally exhausting, but the stress is turning me into a very jumpy person which further upsets my sensitive baby.

As for Chris’ internship—he loves it! Like absolutely, positively loves it. The company he is working for deals with manufacturing and exporting. Currently Chris is designing the front end of a new website and software which he finds interesting and educational (unlike his last internship in China where he would sit in on meetings just to make the company look international).

Chris had work off on Wednesday so he could help me get my bearings. All of the bus and street signage is in Chinese characters. Since I don’t have a cell phone or GPS I get around based off memory. With the day to ourselves, we put Kinley in the stroller and introduced her to all of our favorite restaurants.

Chris loves Taiwanese breakfast, which he expected to be equally good in China. Since it wasn’t, he had to suffer with the disappointment for nine months, so our first errand with Taipei under foot was to order dan bing (basically a savory crepe filled with ham and cheese).


Once all was well in Chris’ world, we satisfied my craving with beef noodle soup for lunch at our favorite restaurant. I’m going to sell you on this for a second: picture beef broth with stewed tomatoes, pieces of beef, and thick, chewy hand-cut noodles. I was hot and sticky from walking miles in the sun and humidity, but I would eat a bowl of steaming niu rou mian in any weather. Kinley even loved it!


When we lived here before, a news crew interviewed Chris while we were eating lunch at the same restaurant. (There’s not a lot of crime for the news stations to cover, so they usually feature local restaurants and Youtube clips of cute animals.) Because they remembered us, the owner wants to use Kinley in an advertisement for his restaurant. I’m glad to see that we’re still maintaing our fame. 🙂


Following lunch we got a mountain of shaved ice topped with mangoes, cream, and mango sorbet. Kinley had a major meltdown halfway through dessert so we had to abandon our mango bing. I would consider it a true sign of a parent’s love for their child.


Speaking of Kinley, the little pipsqueak has won over everyone’s heart (just as we expected). She’s quite a novelty with her blue eyes and light hair. Although she may be 3,000 miles away from her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and playmates, Kinley has plenty of sweet hearted Taiwanese strangers who are eager to fill the role.