Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!!!

These two just wanted to pop in and say 'Happy Halloween'!! We hope you have a day full of costumes, hugs and candy!

My little giraffe was on point during our impromptu photo shoot :).

My favorite!

I love how you can see her little nose peeking out!

Emma was to busy being a 'princess fairy that does magic' to smile for a picture ;).

Our pictures were done when smiling for the camera turned into chasing the giraffe's tail :).

And some sister loving!

And a few of me with my girls!

Happy Halloween! We hope you have a great day celebrating :).

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Some Randomness for your Saturday

I wanted to pop in today and share a few random things that are going on with us right now.  This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the post, but is one of my favorites from our recent vacation - the Great Wall was a phenomenal experience for us and surpassed all of our expectations :), if you can - find a way to get yourself there.

... our computer charger stopped working.  We got home from vacation and our Mac wouldn't charge. My husband is a great researcher and he was able to watch a YouTube video and re-wire our Mac charger and now it is working again - his skliz amaze me, I wouldn't even know where to start with fixing that problem.  Needless to say, we have been a bit slower to download our vacation pictures this go around :).

... our neighborhood is decked out in Halloween decorations.  I am so excited that my kiddos will get to experience a semi-normal Halloween.  We kicked off Halloween today with a neighborhood party complete with games, crafts and pumpkin hats.  And on Monday, the girls will have a school parade, Halloween parties and then a neighborhood party just for foreigners.  It still feels absolutely crazy every time I refer to myself as a foreigner.  Also, after four straight years of Emma being some sort of animal (a monkey, a elephant, a cow and a giraffe), she opted to be a princess this year.  I feel completely torn up about this :/.

... to keep the holiday randomness going, we are going to Thailand for Thanksgiving.  When it came right down to it, I just had this nagging feeling that we needed to spend Thanksgiving at a beach (we have spent the last five years in Port Aransas with my family for Thanksgiving)! I know I will be all sorts of sad when I see pictures of my family together popping up on Instagram, so hopefully this will ease the pain a little bit.  It will be a quick trip, but we are excited to soak in lots of family time and talk about what we are each thankful for :).

... the girls mention at least one time a day how they miss Nonni, Papa George, Grandma and Grandpa; we have officially started the countdown over here - 48 days to go!!!  We are pumped that we get to see all of our favorite people!

... I am still thinking about the steak that we ate at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in Shanghai! We don't eat a lot of red meat in general in China, so that fact combined with the steak being cooked perfectly (medium-rare) was quite a memorable experience! And I could totally go for a another one ;).

... I got my first real haircut in probably close to two years!  I have just had Wes give me trims for the last two years, well we found out the place in our neighborhood gives head massages and hair cuts and speaks a tiny bit of English - so one hour and 80 RMB (about $12) later, I was feeling like a new person.  I tried to convince Emma to go with me to get her hair cut - just a trim, but when it came right down to it, she was a little bit too nervous.  4.5 years old and still no hair cut yet :).

... we are heading back to our favorite playground tomorrow. The girls adore that playground and it sounds like a perfect low-key activity after 8 days of go-go-go on vacation followed by four days of go-go-go school/work routine.

... I mentioned this briefly in my last post, but our stroller got stolen at Shanghai Disney.  It was close to the end of the day, about 5ish and we were walking to ride the Hunny Pot ride when we spotted Rapunzel at the princess station.  Rapunzel is one of Emma's favorites, so we hurried over to see if we could get in line to find out that they were closed.  I told a broken-hearted Emma that we would just have to wave hi, because the line was closed for the day.  Emma waved hi! and Rapunzel and Emma started chatting with each other in between other visitors and so I asked Rapunzel if she would stay so we could get in line and she said yes!! So we hurried over just leaving our stroller right where we were.  Well, by the time we got out of line (we were the last) our stroller was nowhere to be found.  A couple of Disney security and checks around the park, they couldn't find it and we were on our way strollerless.  The price of the stroller is no big deal, the big deal - we were on our 2nd day of an 8 day mostly-walking/exploring vacation... ay yay yay.  At least I had brought the Ergo with us.  For the next 6 days, I toted 35 pound Emma around in the baby carrier.  My back is still recovering.

... I have become obsessed with dried mango's. I just thought you might like to know that :).

Hope you have a great rest of your weekend! See you back here next week!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We're Home!

Whew! We are back in Chengdu.  It has been a whirlwind 8 days and my brain is still trying to comprehend all of the amazing things we got to do during our vacation.  How blessed are we that we got to visit Shanghai Disney (unfortunately, our stroller did get stolen here), eat at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant overlooking the animation/fireworks show, hold a baby tiger at the Shanghai Wildlife Animal Park, ride a bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing, visit the Forbidden City, Tienanman Square (sp?), the Olympic Park, the Temple of Heaven and get to climb the Great Wall and subsequently ride the slide down not once, but twice (the girls just loved it so much)!!! To top it all off, our weather was nearly perfect, we hit the tour guide jackpot and we got to be together just the four of us for almost 8 days straight (I had to work just a few days while we were in Shanghai).  Ahhh, when I think back on this trip - I really have to stop and think, is this even real life?? We feel so lucky, blessed and abundantly grateful for this adventure we are on together :).  More soon, but I just wanted to check in and let you know we are back :).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Day In The Life | October 8th

After my brief blogging hiatus, I didn't think I would record our day in the life for the 4Q go around, but that all changed on Saturday - we were having a fabulous day together and I realized around 1pm I had snapped dozens of pictures already and so here we are - day in the life, October 8th!

If you are new here you might wonder how we ended up in China! We are a family from the Dallas, Texas area originally and we relocated to China about six months ago for my job.  We have two daughters - Emma (4.5) and Everly (3) and they are enjoying our adventure thus far.  I answered some frequently asked questions about our expat assignment here and I recently blogged about what we are loving and a few of our challenges six months in

A little background on why this weekend needed to be a good one.  The girls had been out of school for 9 days due to the China National Holiday.  I had to work all week for quarter end close and we didn't have our car and driver because of the holiday so I was commuting on the metro on the way home (about twoish hours a day) so needless to say getting home much later than normal.  We were all worn down, we hadn't really done anything super fun in more than 9 days and we were determined to have a great weekend (we finally had our car back!).

7:00 - the girls are awake! I wonder to myself are my children ever going to learn the art of sleeping in, I am pretty sure the answer is no, so I don't spend too long muling over that.  I check my phone and I have the nicest text from my sister, Ally.  I won't go into too many specifics, but she was thanking me for some advice I had given her and I am glad she was touched by it (sometimes we feel like we are all failing at this parenting gig so it is always nice to receive words of encouragement!).  We start to get ready for the day- coffee, breakfast, getting dressed, packing backpacks, etc.

9:00- our driver is on time! The girls run out to tell our driver that we want to go to Starbucks - it is pretty funny for me to hear them say that, but they know there is usually a treat involved for them so they are game! We pull up at the closest Starbucks to us (probably 25 minutes away) and find out that it is closed for remodel... womp womp womp.  That does not discourage us though, we just ask her to find another one and we stumbled on one about five minutes later. Much to Ev's delight there were these balloon sculptures out front.

Wes and I ordered our drinks (white chocolate mocha's have kind of made it to Chengdu! - it is a cranberry white chocolate mocha and I had them omit the cranberry and it almost tasted like home ;)) and the girls got a muffin and cinnamon roll to share.  And two cups of water.  They thought they were a big deal with their own coffee cups ;).

I just love this girls smile! Wes was checking the radar because it had been sprinkling on us during our drive and we had outdoor plans. Since it looked like the rain wouldn't clear for about an hour, we were in no hurry and enjoyed our treats and being silly.

10:30- we left Starbucks and decided to go to the playground, we told ourselves we could just leave if it started raining.  Our car dropped us off at the entrance and we had to cross a street to run inside and pick up the tickets for the playground that we wanted to go too - the girls holding hands to cross the street is always my favorite.

11:15 - We got our tickets to go to our most favorite playground in China! We thought it was only open in May, but we found out for people that live in one of these four specific communities (we live in one of them!) - it is open year round! The girls were pumped - they love this place!! There is so much for them to do and we lucked out - we were the only people there until 2:15. The girls jumped.

Emma rode on the pulley system - this is always one of her favorites and the other time we were here there got to be a big line so she was pretty delighted to have it all to herself.

Can you see Evsie's back there in the center left?? She loves to ride that 'lollie!

Just look at how big my girl is getting!!

We were last here in May and Ev's didn't want to try the rope climb, but this time she was game - I love watching my timid child try new things, the look on her face when she accomplishes something is the best!

All the girls :).

Ev's didn't try out the swing the last time we came (too many people), but this time - she was all over it! We are constantly surprised by how nice parks and playgrounds are in China, but it seems like one thing they are lacking is swings.

Emma wanted her picture on the rainbow bench.

We took a break to put her leggings on because of all the sand that was getting everywhere - this girl is obsessed with swinging, I swung her no less than twenty minutes straight!  Pure heaven in her eyes.

We would periodically take snack breaks (my number one tip to people coming to China with children would be to pack a ton of snacks, like more than you think you would ever need) and then it was back to play, play, playing or in Ev's case jump, jump jumping.


Can you believe how empty it was?

I adore her big grin :).

Balance beam walking!

Can you spot the girls in the upper left?

The playground is truly incredible, right??

Big sis leading little sis up to the slides!

Emma would do the big slides by herself this time! It looks like she also had a dress change in there (she kept tripping over her longer dress) - we are pretty smitten with her smile too ;).

It really is the best feeling watching your kiddos have so much fun!

I feel like I keep saying this over and over again - but once again, Ev's worked up the courage to ride on the slides this go around! We were so proud of her :).

The view from the top.

Everly had another outfit change (I brought lots of clothes as backups because I knew we would be out for a long time and I wasn't sure what the weather was going to be like!) and the girls played in the sand - they attempted to build a sand castle, but in the end they sprinkled the sand on the flowers as fairy dust.

Here she goes!

As we told the girls we were wrapping up - it was nearly 3 at this point, they of course wanted to do everything one last time!

Literally on our way out, the girls found the more Chinese style gym and of course had to have a go - Emma was quite good and has a lot of upper body strength for a 4 year old!

Ev's wanted to join too, but wasn't quite feeling it ;).

Selfie of Wes and I when I officially decided at 3 to record a day in the life - these are all approximate times based off of my iPhone camera since I wasn't recording anything up to this point.

Go, Evsie's go.  While Emma finished up on the gym equipment, Evsie's climbed up this hill a few more times.

Day in the life family selfie - maybe one quarter we will actually all be looking/smiling at the camera?  This is as we were walking back to our car around 3:30 (who would have ever thought we could spend four and a half hours at one playground!).  The girls would have stayed longer if we let them, but Wes and I were starving (and didn't want to eat the snacks - ha!) and wanted to head to lunch/dinner at this point so we wrapped it up with promises to the girls that we will be back.

3:30- head to Peter's Tex Mex (the nice people that we had given our crib too gave us a gift card), we ended up arriving about 4.  We were starving and so were the girls! Thankfully their watermelon juice came first, but the mac and cheese that they wanted came last - at least there was a play area to keep them happy!

I inhaled my taco salad, I was starving.  The only bummer thing that happened here was that the girls did not fancy their mac and cheese at all - it was the fancier variety with a crust and they just looked at it and decided they were not going to eat it.  Emma ended up sharing my salad with me and Ev's had eaten two PB sandwiches at the park so she was set for the moment.

5:00(ish)- head to Ikea!! We had found some frozen waffles there and I wanted to pick up more (of all things, I know??), plus they have the best 2RMB (translates into about 30 cents) ice cream! So it is a win for everyone ;).

Since she skipped out on dinner, she was happy to pick up her favorite treat from Ikea - sausage on a stick!

And Emma and I were happy to pick up our favorite treat from Ikea - ice cream!

Happy girls!!

The girls had such a good day, that we finally let them go over to the candy section and pick out a little bag of candy to take home.

Two happy girls with their bags of candy and a promise of a movie when we got home.

6:30- finally home! The girls hopped into the two downstairs showers - how in the world are they big enough to take showers??!!?? (they still take baths most nights, but requested showers this night).  We brushed their teeth and they got ready for a movie.

They picked out Finding Nemo and settled down with one final snack (man, they eat a lot of snacks).  Emma is my decision maker, she wanted her PB sandwich as an open faced circle.  Ev's on the other hand, laid out all of the cookie cutters and hemmed and hawed and said 'not that one' at least 15 times before finally deciding on a gingerbread man that she never ate.

7:15 - It was Wes's night to put the girls to sleep (we trade off nights) so once they were all settled down, I headed off on my walk.  I tried to get you an artsy picture of my shadow. ha! we see how well that turned out.

So I took a picture of my feet!  I started taking walks on Wes's night about a month and a half ago and I have really come to look forward to this time every other night. I go for about 35 minutes right now, but I think I would like to start going about 45 minutes - an hour.

I made it home a little before 8 and Wes was already putting Everly to sleep while Emma finished up the movie.  Emma and I got some snuggle time in while we finished Nemo and then I took her to bed.  I believe that Wes and I watched a few shows after this and probably turned in about 10:00, but I can't remember exactly.

The next morning, I whipped myself up a homemade pumpkin spice latte (Wes had found pumpkin!) and it tasted like fall in a cup - I was one happy girl :).

Emma also whipped up some not-so-great-tasting pumpkin scones.  However, she nailed her ;baking outfit'.

After she tried to like her pumpkin scones - we threw in the towel and went for bike rides.  I told the girls to wait in our driveway and I would be there in a minute; when I came out I found them like this.  Emma was leading Everly in some stretching 'just like Nonni'. And yes, now she is wearing her bike riding uniform and adamantly requests her size three jeans before every bike ride ;).

And off we went, ready to start another day!

Whew - if you made it all the way to the end you should go reward yourself with a cookie pumpkin spice latte and think of me :).