Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Favorites | Our 5th Week in China

We have a three day weekend looming which we are pretty excited about (minus the car - long story, but the lack of being able to drive ourselves around has been one of the hardest things to get used too!).  I am going to kick off this round of Friday Favorites with another picture that I 'discovered' when Wes recently downloaded some older pictures from our camera.  These two are my favorite little girls and the best part about it is that I get to be their mama!!

Emma and Everly walking into Stone Elephant Lake has to be one of my favorite moments of the week :).  Emma will get on kicks where she likes to act like Everly's mommy, well you can see below how Everly normally feels about that ;).  A little bit skeptical and who can blame her??!!??

Really, though, these two are pretty cute together!

Frolicking with 'lollies (that she now calls elephants) was definitely a favorite for Everly.

My favorite field of flowers at Stone Elephant Lake- the rainbow field!

I had so much fun watching the girls run through the fields of flowers with flowers in their hair exploring together and with me and Wes.

I don't want to give too much away from my actual post that will have all of our Stone Elephant Lake pictures, but the boat ride that we took was my favorite part of our visit.

This girly enjoyed it too :).

We found a new favorite food to eat that is within walking distance (which I alluded to in my What's Up Wednesday post), but these sweet ladies behind the counter are actually hand making all of their dumplings when you order- it is a fun to watch while you wait for your food!

We also get to dine al fresco which we love for children who don't want to eat (they will not be named or pictured ;)) or sit still while the rest of us eat :).

One of my favorite parts of the week was watching Wes do magic tricks for Emma!

The expression on her face every.single.time. he would pull out the stick from her ear was priceless.

It is always my favorite when Wes sends me pictures of the girls while I am at work, this week I got two of Evsie's.  When you don't take a nap before it is time to pick your sister up from the bus stop- sometimes, you just fall asleep on the five minute walk home :).

Looks like she was pretty happy to have stumbled upon muffins from the bakery :).

Hope you have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday | April 2016

It's the last Wednesday of the month and I am excited to once again be linking up with Shay, Sheaffer and Mel for April's installment of What's Up Wednesday (we had just relocated to China in March so I skipped that month!).

1.What we’re eating this week…
A lot of Chinese food ;).  Honestly though, we are still struggling with what we can make to eat here.  Back at home, we had a list of 10 – 15 favorites that we would rotate through and when we got bored, we would try out new recipes to keep it interesting.  Nothing was very elaborate, but we always had access to the ingredients on our list.  Here we look at a recipe and are not able to get several things making it more challenging for us.  Wes has done a great job though at coming up with things for us- this week we had taco seasoned chicken nachos (yes, we were able to find tortilla chips!), bar-b-que drumsticks and breakfast for dinner.

On the weekends, we like to eat out- especially on Friday and we have found a homemade dumpling place that has quickly become a favorite.  Even for one of the littlest members of our family J.

In case you are wondering, we pack dinner for our littlest family member ;).

2.What I’m reminiscing about…
Life in the states.  Sunday night was the first night that I was hit with a strong longing for our life back home.  I am still incredibly grateful for this experience and we really are doing well, but I know that when my family gets together and we are not there to celebrate with them (most recently, my niece’s Baptism)- I am always going to have a longing for being at home and for that normalcy.

3.What I’m loving…
The quality time the four of us are getting together.  Our house in China is much bigger than the four of us need, there are three bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms downstairs (along with a bedroom for a live-in ay-yi(sp?)).  Because our stairs are quite steep, we have decided to all live downstairs which means that the girls have been sharing the front bedroom and then Wes and I are in the bedroom right behind them.  We also share just one living room (different than at home when we had two living rooms, both downstairs).  All of that being said, we are together all.of.the.time. and I love love love it! I definitely subscribe to the saying that ‘your kids are only little once’ and we are both really soaking them up.  We take nightly walks to the playground, eat all of our dinners together, hang out on the porch together and explore our new city on the weekends.

4.What we’ve been up to…
We are trying to do one day of exploring our city each weekend especially before it gets too hot and uncomfortable to get out and about.  Two weekends ago, we visited the panda’s at the Chengdu Panda Research Base and then last weekend we visited Stone Elephant Lake.  We really look forward to Saturday’s each week J.

5.What I’m dreading…
I have my first work trip coming up next month- I am headed to the Philippines for a week.  It will be a good work trip, but I am going to miss my babies and my husband like crazy.  I really try to keep business travel to a minimum because days away from those three are the worst.

6.What I’m working on…
Potty training Everly.  Well, Wes and I really are half-heartedly working on this.  She knows what to do, just won’t do it and it is incredibly frustrating.  Because we have been alternating between diapers and panties, she will often ask us, ‘is me wearing my diaper?’ every time she needs to use the restroom.

7.What I’m excited about…
Planning out our travel for the rest of the year.  We are looking to possibly spend a week in Borneo this summer and then spend Thanksgiving in Thailand as our two big trips this year (what can I say, we are definitely beach people through and through).   But, we also want to plan some smaller trips around China to fit in between- Beijing, X’ian and Shanghai are definitely on our list!! 

8.What I’m watching/reading…
YAY! We have figured out how to watch most of the shows that we love back in the States! We are all caught up on Big Bang Theory, Survivor and Shark Tank and we are trying to get caught up on Amazing Race and Real Housewives of Dallas (because, duh! for  me, not Wes, I should add).  Although, I just watched my first episode last night and I am so far removed from the charity scene in Dallas that seems to be the focal point so I don’t know how much I am going to love it…

9.What I’m listening to…
Chinese radio stations J.  No, seriously, though, our driver downloaded some songs for us on a UBS stick and plays the songs at random times- she included ‘Let It Go’ for the girls so of course they are elated and sing at the top of their lungs whenever it comes on.  It is safe to say that we do not have a future American Idol contestant in either one of the girls ;).

10.What I’m wearing…
Dresses, dresses and more dresses.  I have done quite a bit of shopping since Everly was born and my plan is to not do any shopping for myself over the next couple of years.  I don’t know if this is an impossible task, but I feel like I am pretty well stocked on clothes.  It is fun to read some of my favorite fashion blogs and not be tempted to ‘add to cart’ since it is so expensive to order something to China.  The one thing I am hoping to add to my clothes is the baby blardigan and this Madewell tote.  I think I would get a lot of use out of both as we plan to travel all over :).  Besides just being a travel tote, I think it would be a great laptop bag- much more stylish than my backpack I am currently carrying ;).

11.What I’m doing this weekend…
We are going to have a little bit more laid back weekend this weekend.  On Saturday, we are going to hit up a park (hoping that a Starbucks is close by!) and then eat lunch at our favorite pizza place.

12.What I’m looking forward to next month…
Our first family vacation in China!! We are headed to southern China (Yangshuo to be specific) for the karst landscape and we are super excited.  The girls have been troopers exploring so far and I have no doubt that they are going to love to get away for a few days.  Bonus, after an 18 hour plane ride to get to China, Wes and I are not worried about a 1.5 hour plan ride at all!!

We are staying at the Phoenix Pagoda Fonglou Retreat and can't wait to share our vacation with you :).

13.What else is new…
We found the most delicious Hong Kong pancakes in our neighborhood.  The first time we stopped in there, we bought one to share (to make sure that we liked it) and then after playing on the playground, we went back and ordered three more (mommy did not want to share ;)).  They are seriously delicious!!

Hope you have a great week :).

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sister Weekend | Part 3

I bet you had many sleepless nights wondering how sister weekend was going to end up :).  In case you missed it, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here and we will finally wrap this up today.  On Sunday morning, we all headed to Mass and then met over at my parents house for a lunchtime cookout :).

Evsie's was pretty happy when this baby showed up!

Ally and Theo!

The original 6 plus 4/5 of the grandchildren (including the one in Ally's belly! minus Helena who had gone back to sleep in her car seat).  See the end of the post for some bloopers- this picture makes it look like this was easy to get!

And one more of 'the originals'.

We spent the morning with lots of hang out time outside enjoying the weather, the outdoor fire and each other.

Oh, and marshmallows again! It looks like Ev's got even more cautious of the fire, just look where she is standing to roast her marshmallow!!

We encouraged her to get a little closer (you will have to blow up the picture, the marshmallow that you are immediately drawn to is the one Craig is roasting) as she kept saying 'it's really toasty'.

After all that toasting, it was time to devour.

Definitely her favorite part :).

Go for it girly!!! After a truly insane amount of these (I think 4 or 5 if I am remembering correctly, we had to put the bag away and say no more!).

While we were hanging out, I realized that I had forgotten to get a picture of the four of us so back in front of the camera it was :).  Don't worry- I sent all of my sisters an email a week before letting them know that one of my requests was going to be for family pictures - pictures are definitely one of my love languages ;).

While Travis was snapping our picture, this girly was standing behind him encouraging us to smile :).

Which gave way to some bunny ears :).

Emma and Nonni having a special moment!

These two just love and adore each other and I think these pictures capture that feeling perfectly :).

Over the last four years (ok, maybe three since Emma couldn't really 'help' before she turned one), I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the girls participate in activities with my dad.

Watering the plants is no exception.

Now that they are both able to 'help', we have to get a little bit creative when there is only one task to do.  Luckily, Ev's is still at the point where she is happy to do anything! And look at that belly!!

I know I say this all of the time, but she is the sweetest!!

We ate a delicious lunch of brats (sidenote: I could totally go for a brat right about now!).

Happy girl :).

And then it was time for the hard part, saying goodbye.  Ally was the first to leave to head back to Houston.

Kisses for her Godmother :).  I love how even though they somehow missed each other on the kiss, their facial expression is exactly the same!

Austin and Craig left about the same time we did (but we knew that we would get to see them again so no elaborate kissy pictures bye bye) so kisses for Adge on our way out - this might be one of my favorite pictures of Adge and Ev's to date.

And then kisses bye bye for Nonni.  We definitely knew that we would see Nonni and Papa George again, but Emma still got really sad at this point.  It was as if she finally got it that we would be moving to China.  It broke my heart to see her sad about moving.

And because bloopers are my favorite, here are a few of us getting ready for the family picture.  Please note, not a single one of the kiddos is actually looking at the camera ;).

And, then we got one kiddo to look (go Emma!), but hardly any adults!

Don't worry, Theo, I agree with you that this clan of girls you are stuck with can be crazy at times!

But it is always that crazy beautiful love that binds us all together.  I truly cherish the time that we all get to spend together and this weekend was no exception.