Monday, August 1, 2011

Guangzhou Travel Group Reunion

Okay, let me preface this post with the fact that I am fully aware it has been almost 10 months since my last post. In my defense, I have been working my b*** off getting a degree in Medical Technology. I finished my last class on Thursday and start 5 months of clinical rotations mid-August. Soooo, there might not be too many posts in the near future either :) But, I could not pass up the opportunity to share about our trip to meet up with several families that we traveled to China with 3 years ago!
Mandy Rose and I took off on Thursday afternoon and drove 500 miles to meet up with 5 other families at a beautiful bed and breakfast just north of Colorado Springs. Thursday was our actual 3 year anniversary of "Gotcha" Day! Unfortunately, Daddy had to stay behind because he was scheduled to work. Mandy Rose was in tears as we took off (which made Daddy sad...but also helped him know that she does LOVE him! Sometimes he thinks she believes he is just a potted plant....who pays the bills!)
Our first day in Colorado included a trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It was beautiful and blessedly cool compared to the near 110 degree weather we have been having in Kansas! Lots of neat animals....and a good workout for Momma since it was mostly hills and stairs :) Mandy Rose appropriated the map and "supervised" our path through the zoo. She likes being in control and I have NO idea who she gets that from (heehee!)
There was something about the mountain air (or maybe all the hard playing) that had Mandy Rose sleeping in! I loved it! I took this picture of her not wanting to get up....just imagine a tiny voice saying "Nooooo!" That is until I told her the other girls were up and ready to play!
Beautiful girl!
One evening, they lit a fire and made s'mores for the girls! Such fun....and mega doses of sugar before bed!
One thing that all of us parents were amazed by is how these little girls, who had not seen each other in 3 years, were instant fast friends! They played together, without any fusses or fights, every hour they were awake! We had the bed and breakfast to ourselves almost the whole time and the girls just treated it like home. They moved from room to room playing with each other's toys...and occasionally checking in with the parental units! Mandy Rose really connected with little Miss Elizabeth!
Mandy Rose, Elizabeth, and Hannah enjoying their s'mores! Such precious girls!
Did I mention how much she liked her s'more?
There was a large volleyball court in the back yard at the B&B....otherwise known as a Mac Daddy sandbox! The grounds also included a playset and a two story playhouse with a complete kitchen! The Hideaway was the perfect place for our group to gather!
Having such a great time!
Goofy picture of my girl....she is definitely not easy to get to smile normally!
Goodbye Colorado!
Being goofy during a break in the drive back home!
All in all, we could not have asked for a better reunion! The girls had a blast! The parents got some great visiting in! We cried watching a video that one of our group made that included pictures from China, video of our actual "Gotcha" moments, and "Now" pictures of the girls from this weekend. We laughed, ate great food, shared stories....I just can't put in words how special the weekend was. We all met 3 years ago in China, but we truly got to know each other this weekend. Adoptive parents are just amazing human beings! I am so blessed!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Riding a Horse for the First Time!!

To round out Jamen's birthday weekend, we took the kids for horseback rides on Sunday!
The little ones rode a pony named Zeus! Although, he seemed a bit tame and tired for that particular moniker! They were both pumped about riding!
All loaded up complete with helmets! Mandy Rose chose the blue helmet and Jamen chose the pink one with flowers! Heehee! They are so itty bitty that they could ride together which made it a little less scary of an adventure. Once they were up, they rode for a solid hour!
We got our exercise by walking around and around and around the arena!! But, it was worth it.
Cousin Lyndi got her own horse so she could join in the fun as well! She was as stoked as the little ones were!!!

Celebrating Cousin Jamen's Birthday!!

Jamen turned four on the 23rd of October and we were able to be there to help him celebrate! My sister, Mandy, made this great fire truck cake! Then she let the kids have at it anyway they wanted! By the end of the weekend, the wheels, lights, and hoses were gone....and the frosting was smeared by little fingers! Not much actual cake was eaten, but Mandy Rose and Jamen were in heaven! Covered in red icing!
My sister, Mandy, and I! She is a best friend to me and an awesome mom!
Let the present opening begin! We got Jamen a piano just like the Mandy Rose has. He always enjoys playing with hers when he comes to visit.
More presents!
And then, of course, the work of getting the presents out of the boxes!
Why does it always require a screwdriver? Sheesh!
Happy Birthday, Jamen! We love you!

Pumpkin Patch Time!!

In mid-October, we made our annual pilgrimage to the Applejack Pumpkin Patch! We were joined again this year by the Dresher clan! It was also a gathering of the local Families with Children from China, so there were lots of beautiful black-haired, black-eyed beauties taking in all the festivities!
My little punkin! Waiting for her turn on the barrel train ride! And, trying to "smile" for Momma!
Each year, I get another picture of Mandy Rose at the "Look How I'm Growing" sign! She is growing up so fast....maybe a bit too fast for Momma! I love the big girl she is becoming each day, but it goes soooo fast.
These are the pumpkins we picked! Mandy Rose says the littler one is for Daddy :) We also picked up a whole bag of funky shaped gourds for decorating the house for the holidays!

Riding the Midland Train!!

At the end of September, on a visit to KC, we took the kids for a train ride! It is just a small old-fashioned train with passenger cars. The depot is in Baldwin City about an hour south of KC. The train takes you out into the countryside for a few miles and then back. It was chilly, but we had so much fun!
Jamen and Mandy Rose were almost beside themselves with excitement at the prospect of a train ride! These two are the best of friends!
The Midland Train!
This is grand fun, Momma!
Enjoying the ride with my favorite girl!
She was mesmerized!
I managed to catch this pic! Nowhere, Kansas!
It is so cool to be able to give and share these experiences with our children!

Country Wedding!!

My brother Matt got married on September 11th! Mandy Rose was asked to be one of the flower girls! Actually there were four...and two of them were Chinese! My new sister-in-law, Reanna, has two adopted Chinese cousins. Their mom is actually a friend of mine from high school! Who would have thought all those years ago that two small town girls from Harper County would travel half way around the world to bring home our daughters! Amazing!
Mandy Rose was so pumped about being a flower girl! The wedding was held on Matt & Reanna's farm on a beautiful Saturday evening! It was the perfect setting for them! My brother Matt! He was so handsome! But, we had to tease him about the pliers holder on his belt! What a country boy!
Mandy Rose was very meticulous and focused on doing her job!! Isn't she adorable!
Exchanging their vows...Reanna was absolutely gorgeous! Notice the really cool backdrop! Reanna's dad found old barn wood and made two backdrops. One for the wedding and one for behind the cake table. It was so country and so fitting!
The very happily married couple!
They were even very nice to each other about the cake!
What country wedding would be complete without a stock tank full of beer and ice? Jamen and Mandy Rose thought it was there for their entertainment! At one point, we had to warn those coming for beer that they might want to dig to the bottom for the unshaken ones!!!! LOL!
Enjoying a wedding cupcake! At least the frosting anyway!
We had a wonderful time celebrating Matt & Reanna's wedding! Our whole family was gathered together...which doesn't happen too often anymore! They had a dance afterwards and Jamen and Mandy Rose boogied their little butts off! Mandy Rose even had me out doing the "Electric Slide"!! What fun!

Camping at Council Grove Lake!!

Each year we have a summer gathering with Gary's old college gang! This year we decided to camp at Council Grove Lake. Mandy Rose had never been camping before and she was so excited about the prospect!
We loaded everything in the car....with barely enough room for the kiddo in the back seat!! First order of business was putting up the tent! Mandy Rose was right in the middle of it "helping"!! It was quite windy, so getting the tent set up was a bit challenging!
We borrowed this tent from our friends, the Dresher's. It is huge! But, really nice!
We were camped right on the water. Mandy Rose spent hours pitching rocks into the lake! Hard to believe there were any left when the weekend was over!
Home away from home! We might be camping, but Momma and Daddy have old bones and require air mattresses now!!
More rock play!
One of our gang, Miss Linda, brought this puppy with to snuggle with. She lovingly gave it to Mandy Rose to play with for the weekend...and then sent it home with her! His name is Buckley and Mandy Rose was thrilled!
Miss Linda also brought her hammock! She and Mandy Rose made great use of it all weekend!
As I said before, it was very windy all weekend. In fact, it just got progressively windier as the weekend passed. It made it hard to have a camp fire, but we didn't let it deter our enjoyment!
Enjoying the campfire with her buddies, Buckley and Valentino! I think Mandy Rose would like to do a whole lot more camping in the future!
We had a terrific weekend with the gang! Laughing, visiting, eating great food, drinking campfire coffee. The main reason we went to Council Grove was to have a chance to see our friend Joe, who lived there and had just started chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. We are so thankful that we did for it proved to be our last visit with him. He was an awesome man and a great friend. He will be missed terribly, but we know he is in a better place and no longer hurting.