Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Favorites | Happy Birthday Everly Edition

Sorry for the radio silence this week - we got back from vacation on Wednesday morning at 2am and I headed to work just a few hours later.  That was followed by an entire day of our power being out on Thursday and it didn't come back on until 10:30pm last night.  Anyways, I just wanted to pop in real quick to wish our sweet baby, Everly, a happy 3rd birthday!!! She really is the sweetest and we just love and adore the funny, easy-going, adorable caboose to our family train :).

We are all set to celebrate her tomorrow with a pool party and cookout at our house and I will be back next week with a whole slew of posts celebrating our girl! Including my love letter - definitely my favorite post of the year to write and reflect back on.  We love you sweet girl!!! Couldn't imagine my life without you in it :).

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Favorites | Our 17th Week in China (and Hong Kong and Borneo!)

Hellooooo Friday!! You might have figured out by now, but we are actually on vacation this week (hopefully relaxing at the pool or beach but more likely chasing our two hooligans around the pool or beach) and have a few blissful days left :).  More snippets of vacation pictures next week, but I wanted to go ahead share some of our favorite moments from China this past week.

On Friday afternoon, I took a peak at my photostream and saw Emma riding her bike!! She has made so much progress in just a week - we are so proud of her!

Friday afternoon, Wes and the girls were at the swimming pool with Emma's bestie and her dad! And they were surprised when I showed up there too :).  Love kicking off our weekend right away!!

We headed to dinner with these three crazy girls.

And told them it was a contest to see who could eat all their food first - I have never seen Emma scarf down food so fast; these two were both into some friendly competition ;).

As we were walking home, we stopped off at the night market and while we were picking up our favorite Hong Kong style waffles, we ran into this sweet clown who made the girls a flower balloon!

On Saturday morning, we stopped at Bux and then headed to an ancient town.  A note to my future self- you don't ever want to go to an ancient town on a weekend.  And if you decide to do it again, skip Starbucks and go to the town before it gets crazy.  It was beyond crowded to get there and once we got there it was crazy crowded.  After walking what seemed like forever - we settled down into a spot in the river where there was shade and it 'seemed' less crowded.

We bought the girls water guns and Emma went to town - Ev's couldn't quite get used to all the people there and never really felt comfortable (and mostly stuck to this rock).  At one point I got in with Emma and ended up getting soaked.  And at another point she got me good with her water gun - little stinker.

This picture does not even begin to accurately reflect the crowds - it was N.U.T.S.

We had our driver with us the entire time so we took the opportunity to try a few things that we wouldn't normally try- this was jello like consistency with some sort of sweet glaze and sesame seeds.

After we made it through the town and to the boats - Everly fell asleep and because we only had our umbrella strollers and I was worried about her banging her head, I gave the stroller to our driver and I carried her through the crowds. It was such an oxymoron to have this sweet little thing asleep in my arms through all the hustle and bustle of this Chinese town.

On the way in, we had told Emma that she could get cotton candy on our way out and we lived up to our promise.  As I told her there was the cotton candy, Everly woke up - figures ;).  Tippy toes watching her cotton candy be made :).

Look at the size of that cotton candy - have you ever seen anything so ginormous??!!

Ev's wanted green :). I think it was bigger than her!

Overall, the ancient town was an experience, a good cultural experience - but I am not sure I would recommend it to visitors.

On Sunday, we spent the morning packing, took naps and then headed to the pool for a swim in honor of Austin's birthday ;).

Hope you have a great weekend! See you back here next week :).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chengdu | Paradise Island Water Park

As I mentioned last Friday, a couple of weeks ago we headed to Paradise Island Water Park located in the 'boat' otherwise known as the Global Center and the girls L-O-V-E-D it, like genuinely obsessed with this place. 

There is a ginormous wave pool (with lots of shallow water perfect for little kiddos!), a medium sized kids area, a small kids area (this was the girls favorite part!!), a lazy river (you have to ride in a boat on it??) and a few big slides (we didn't ride any of these since we were with the girls).  For the first hour or so, we hung out in the wave pool (obviously the waves were not splashing the entire time) and the girls, especially Emma had so much fun!

Can you spot me and Everly?

They had a giant video screen where they were showing the people in the wave pool - do you see Wes holding up his phone for a picture?).

This girl was just beside herself with excitement :).

And how in the world did my baby turn into a long legged toddler??

Before too long, we had to get baby (complete with her own swim diaper) to join in on the fun!

These two were the best of pals all day which of course made Wes and I extremely happy.

I guess all that swimming was wearing on our girl and she needed some relaxation time ;).

A nap in the pool??!!??

And back awake for some more swimming with baby (who we affectionately call papa George baby - since Everly remembers that he gave it to her for her birthday).

We went back and forth between this wave pool and the kiddo slides all day - I love that there are so many shallow places for the girls to play.  I read a review before we left that mentioned this waterpark was not meant for little kids, but I would whole heartedly disagree.

At one point, poor papa George baby was being chunked in the air so Emma could swim out and 'rescue' her.

She provided hours of entertainment.

Love this guy :) and love that he is up for anything - especially if it makes the girls happy!

By early afternoon, the park had gotten pretty crowded.

The other area that we hung out in what the slides! Papa George baby included ;).

Everly is typically much more timid and we were so proud of her for going on every single slide that Emma rode!

I think she surprised herself with how much fun she had :).

There were 4 - 5 slides that the girls were able to comfortably ride.

And ride they did - for more than two hours, I am sure!

One time Evsie's got slightly turned around which Emma thought was hilarious and attempted to copy several times thereafter.

All of these pictures were taken with Wes's iPhone -he has a waterproof case!, just in case you were wondering. We really had one of the best days and we finished up the day by eating a hamburger while the girls got strawberry sundaes :).

We will definitely come back here again!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Come On In | Our China House

Hello and welcome to our house in China also known as 'the castle' if you talk to Emma or Everly!  I am linking up with Andrea today for Show and Tell Tuesday where we share our homes and I am so excited to show you bits and pieces of our house.  Now let me just start with this disclaimer, we realize this house is ridiculous and way more than we actually need.  We actually all live downstairs in just two bedrooms and the upstairs is completely empty.  Nonni - come visit us already ;).  They just don't make three bedroom houses in the various international communities in Chengdu.  They are all large and in charge!  

When we first moved here, and were dealing with the car and driver situation (if you are brand new here, we are not allowed to drive), we honestly thought we made a huge, horrible mistake by living in a house that is south of the city and not just a little south a whole lotta bit south.  There is no easy access for those moments when we don't have our driver and we want to go somewhere and not speaking the language inhibits our ability to use public transportation.  Anyways whining aside, four months in and we have adapted to our new lifestyle.  We have come to relish the nights where we meet Emma's bestie (who also lives in our neighborhood) at the playground or for dinner.  We love being able to walk everywhere.  And I love that I don't have to stress about keeping the girls safe in the city -in case you haven't heard, pedestrians do not get the right of way #wearentintexasanymore. So we don't have a clue right now whether we will end up staying here for the duration of our time in Chengdu or if we will eventually move to the city.

Well, that was quite the introduction - come on in!

The girls wanted to welcome you too ;).

We actually have a long driveway to get to our house which has become ample playing room for the girls - it is a sloping hill and Everly loves to start her scooter on the top and see how fast it can go down (without her on it!).

Once you enter through the gate, this is your view.

And if you walk on the path (and stand in the grass) this is your view.

And standing in the far corner of our yard, you can see our patio and just beyond that is the golf course.  If you look up on top of our downstairs patio, you will see the second patio which is right off the master.  I had dreams of us waking up slowly in the morning and have a leisurely cup of coffee out here, but our reality is more like being jarred awake by the girls demanding to eat something right away while Wes makes coffee and I slurp it down as fast as possible - maybe one day, right??

I am going to take you upstairs first.  In case you are wondering why we don't live up here (there is plenty of room!) is because the stairs are a spiral staircase and are super steep. After just a few days up here, Wes and I made the executive decision to move everyone downstairs and an effort to avoid falls/slips/trips/unnecessary trips to the doctor.

Because we have moved downstairs, we have given up a few luxuries - hello more space and a master closet!  This is where the girls slept the first few nights that we were in China.

This room actually still houses all of their hanging clothes and the 'extras' of their folded clothes.  Another one of the downsides of moving downstairs is that the girls don't have a hanging bar in their closet.

And my favorite part - their closets -duh! This is Everly's.

And this is Emma's closet.  Her long sleeve dresses are separated from her short sleeve dresses so she can easily make her selection.

And this is the master bedroom - the landlord chose a neon mint green for all the paint choices upstairs (downstairs the bedrooms are light pink).

And this is looking outside from the entrance to the master.

And up a little bit closer - you will see that there are french doors...

That lead out to the patio where we should be drinking said coffee ;).

This is our master bathroom and the only bathroom with a tub, so we do make it up here to give the girls baths.

Also, there are two toilets in the bathroom - I am not sure if this is normal here or not, but I still can't figure out the need for this??

Moving back downstairs, this is the room where we spend the majority of our time - it houses the couches, a coffee table, two chairs for the girls (they are from Ikea and turned upside down in this picture) and the girls play kitchens.  Their toys are stored right next to the staircase by the ay-yi's room (no, we don't have one) in bins and they get them out no less than 4 times a day to destroy the living room ;).

And if you look up, you are met with the biggest seashell you ever did see!

And here is a picture of our kitchen.  It is teeny tiny (compared to what we are coming from).  We have two burners and a tiny oven, but it works for us.

Our dining room is probably one of the best parts, but it has suitcases sprawled in it currently so I will come back and update this post with a picture of it! Bottom line - we feel blessed to have this house.  It is way more than we need, although we just live in a portion of it.  It makes us thankful for our house back home - I have truly fallen more in love with 'our old house' as Ev's affectionately refers to it and for right now, I am so glad we haven't sold it.