Wednesday, August 22, 2012

 This is the beach in our village.  We hadn't been all summer long so one afternoon we made our way down the bluff and played in the sand for a while.  

Summer is going fast and we're making the most of what's left.  We're heading to the beach again today with a picnic lunch.  It has been a wonderful summer and the kids have been SO much fun!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

 We had our family reunion here in town this year.  One day we traveled to an inland lake, another day we went to a museum downtown, but most of the time we spent time at my parent's pool.   It was a  super fun time catching up with everyone and seeing the cousins together!
 Then we celebrated our 5th Family Day.   I took the kids out for doughnuts and the park.  Magnolia's neighbor and friend, Bryn, came over with a gift and they played together.  It was such a beautiful evening that we chose a restaurant where we could sit outside.  We gave Magnolia an agate bracelet we bought in China.  Next we took them to our local toy shop were they picked out some candy.  Then we went to our nearby mall and took our photos in a photo booth. They played there and we all went home satisfied with a very happy day!

 This past weekend George convinced asked me to go to the Wisconsin State Fair.  It is something I would never jump at the chance to do but oh my word, it was SO much fun!  Just seeing the kids scream and jump with excitement was enough for me.  They loved it, how could I not?

Here we are just arriving, the kids are besides themselves with excitement.

 They went on every ride without any fear.  We are definitely ready for Disney World!
 My favorite was seeing the animals.  
 We loved this big cow and talked to her owner.  He was showing her that night.
 Of course our Hot Dog Eating Champ needed a hot dog for lunch.  Magnolia and I shared cheese fries.
Here we are having the famous Wisconsin Cream Puff.   They were delicious, so much better than we imagined!

 On a roll of having lots of fun, we decided to go into Chicago the next morning.  We arrived close to lunch time so we decided to eat at Rick Bayless' little churro cafe next to his restaurant.
It was closed but just beyond it we noticed the Chicago Fire Department with firefighters standing outside.  We walked over and they told us to come on in and walk around.  Just as we were rounding the back of one of the fire engines, we heard a call.  I couldn't believe what we were going to witness!  Everything we read and sing about, everything fire station!  We rushed to the side of the station and watched two fire trucks take off, sirens blaring, lights flashing.  
 I looked down at George and he was in complete and utter shock.  Mouth wide open, eyes huge, and jumping up and down, no words escaping his mouth.  He was in complete disbelief.  Dream come true for this little guy and we weren't sure how we were going to beat that for the rest of the day!
 Our goal was to see Millennium Park.  Here they are at the bean.  All morning I was trying to explain that we were going to see a huge bean.  Not a green bean but like a bean in their soup.  When they saw it they said, "like a jelly bean!"  Of course.  Why didn't I think of that.  :)
 Here's a family portrait in the reflection of the bean.

 It is such an amazing piece of art.  I just love how to see how everyone interacts with it.
 There was a wonderful tent for children.
 Nani, you would have loved this!  They had HUGE containers filled with Citi blocs and people of all ages sat together and built and built and built.

 It was not intentional for these two to coordinate on this day.  Both kids came out of their rooms at the same time dressed for the day.  Georgie very proudly dressed himself.  Shirt inside out and backwards.  We didn't mention it and it stayed like that all day.  I have to say how nice it was to have them coordinate, it was so easy to keep track of them!

The kids are so much fun to travel with these days.  We had such a great time!  We are going to make it a monthly routine to head into the big city for a day.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Last week we headed to Nashville for our annual Chinese Reunion.  I look forward to this reunion every year.  We decided to break the trip up and stop in Louisville for a night.  The kids were so excited that we were going to stay in three different hotels.  We dropped off our bags as soon as we checked in and headed to the Louisville Slugger Museum on foot.  What a cute little city and we LOVED this museum!

Afterwards we walked to a restaurant I had read about called Hillbilly Tea.  Lots of iced tea and delicious farm to table kind of food.  The kids devoured the food then we headed back to the pool for some swimming!

The next morning we headed over to Churchill Downs for a walking tour.  
We all found this fascinating and learned so much about the Kentucky Derby.

We got to see the two resident horses who stayed in their little house trying to stay cool.
The museum inside was equally fun.  They had real starting gates in there and Magnolia loved pretending to be a horse ready for the race.  It was pretty cute to see!
Next we head to Wagner's Pharmacy for lunch.  This place is a Churchill Downs institution that's been around for years.  It has been and still is a place for jockeys and trainers to hang out, have lunch at the old fashioned soda fountain, and pick up a special ointment for their horses.  We had Derby sandwiches and cold cokes then hit the road for Nashville.
We arrived to a pool party where all of the girls were reunited!
I just love all of these girls.  I can remember each one being placed in their parent's arms.
The next morning we headed to an indoor playground where the girls and their siblings got to run around like crazy and be silly.
That night we head out to dinner before going to the Grand Ole Opry all wearing their Chinese Reunion t-shirts.  We had a great dinner at a restaurant that had a lot of history from the Opry and  Karoke where some of the employees came up to sing country songs while we ate.  The girls loved that part.
All of the girls sat together at a table and ate and chatted.  It was wonderful, they were so good!
Afterwards in the gift shop, we all bought them red Grand Ole Opry hats!
Then we headed over to see the show!
The three girls in the back, Lily, Natalie, and Jenny are getting so big.  They were seven when we were in China and really remember that day as well.  They are such sweet girls and Georgie took to them in no time!  He said Natalie is "really butiful!"
And here we go!  Bags of Kettle corn in hand, we headed in!
While I don't know that much country music I do know Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees and it was super fun to see and hear him!  Oh, what a voice.  Magnolia is still swooning over him.  We youtube it a lot!  :)  Georgie meanwhile declared him a "bad guy."  Maybe it was the long grey hair and dark mustache???  I don't know but he was in such rare form driving back to the hotel that night.  We were reminiscing about China and George, who hates to hear stories when he wasn't born yet, asked if he was there in China.  We said no, you weren't born yet.  Without any inflection in his voice or any emotion in his body language, he sat back in his car seat and said "I will (s)mack your bottom if you say that one more time."  I have never laughed so hard, I'm still laughing about it.  We have never (s)macked his bottom or ever said we would.  I have no idea where he came up with it but it was just out of nowhere and makes me laugh so hard every time I think of it.
The next day we all got on a huge tour bus and had a private tour of Nashville.  One of the first stops was 2nd street where I learned the definition of Honkey Tonk!  And, of course we had to find a boot store where Magnolia could get some cowgirl boots!

Boot Country it was.  Magnolia was in heaven.  Both she and George got a pair.

Later that night she dressed for the party working around her boots.  When she was all dressed she looked in the mirror and said to herself "See! Even China girls can wear cowgirl boots!"  We laughed and told her she can wear whatever she wants whether she's Chinese or not!
We headed over to Anna Grace's family church in beautiful Franklin/Brentwood.  Since her family was hosting this reunion they treated us all to a catered dinner from the Loveless Cafe and lots of sweet tea!
The older girls organized a mini Olympics.  We headed outside to watch the races.  George wore his cowboy boots and drank lots of sweet tea!

This is Emma, Olyvia's little sister.

Here's Elise.
Anna Grace
One of the Olympic races.  This looked pretty tricky!
Back inside to cut a Gotcha Day cake for our upcoming Gotcha Days!
Lots of hugs knowing this was the last time together until next year.  
It was hard to say goodbye.  We all had such a good time.  We all share such a special bond and it's so nice to see all of the girls together again and watch them pick right back up where they left off last year.  Even our super shy George who clings when his cousins come around is extremely comfortable around this group of Chinese girls.  This was the second year in a row where we saw him fit right in with no reservations and no shyness.  And it was so relaxing for us to have a lot of adult conversation while the kids played without coming to us for hours at a time.  I should also say that our kids were excellent travelers and our newly potty trained George didn't have one accident, even on the long drives.  They were so good we decided that maybe we can really start traveling again!

Next year it will be Chicago.  We already have a lot of fun stuff in store!