Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Grant's Farm

Yet another {great} St. Louis attraction:

Friendly little Clydesdale!  

Isn't that cool after seeing the real thing!  

What a great group of kiddos!  

Elizabeth, Aunty Sandy, Abby and Lilli checking out the animals!  

A rare creature... the guinea pig!  hahaha! 

Moooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... Loooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkk!  

They don't have Dip N Dots in China or Australia...
Sandy preferred this yummy snack to both Root beer and Dr. Pepper... she figures both of those taste just like medicine!  

Such a HOT day... the cool water felt so good... Can we do it again... and again... and again?  

Everybody joined in!  

Wet... yet so much cooler!  

Who needs to see an elephant after the whole Guinea Pig experience??? ; ) 

Monday, June 20, 2011

City Museum... AMAZING!!!

Another adventure that our Xi'an Group had was the City Museum in St. Louis.... and what an adventure it was!  This has to be the "coolest" place for kids that I have ever been!  Seriously... it is made out of junk.... in an old industrial building.  How can one man just come up with such a fascinating concept? ... and call me crazy (or a few other things) but,  I wonder what his insurance bill is???

Abby and Lilli are sure glad he did!

Aunty Sandy wins the prize for furthest traveled to the Xi'an Reunion.... all the way from China via Sydney!   
Where are the pretty primary colors?  

This is the slide - from the 10th floor to the 4th floor... Abby and Lilli and Elizabeth jumped right in...
Me... not so much!  It was much darker... I lightened up this picture so we could see what it looked like... the girls thought it was awesome... while I was looking for an elevator!  

Their favorite was the "skateless" skate park.... all the ramps with none of the wheels!  Look at Lilli's expression....she was hard at play!  

Abby taking a break for a picture!  Her and Lilli loved running and climbing and did it for hours!  


I even make industrial look cute!  

If I stay on 8 seconds do I win?  


What is this mom?  

Another slide... from the 4th floor to the 1st floor.... those colorful things are old shock absorbers!  

Can I go again?  Abby and Lilli went up and down this slide at least a dozen times!  

That is BRAVE Lilli climbing all by herself... on the roof of the 12 story industrial building.... NOT scared at all!  

Yet another slide... very straight angle!  

Oh yeah!  

Oh no....
Not really.... they went up and down this one many times while mom took a break and had a coffee!  

I told you it was cool!  ...and scary!  I should have found this place when I was a much younger mother and my bones and joints cooperated more fully!  

I was so slow... compared to my NOT scared and very fast children!   
My knight and damsel in distress!  
Thanks again Colleen for planning such an amazing day!  I am sure everyone had just as much fun as we did!

Magic House

I took a lot.... more like a ton... of photos at Lilli's recent Xi'an Reunion.  I am still trying to make my way through the pictures.

Until I get those all sorted, I will share a handful of photos from the Magic House - a really cool hands on kids' museum in St. Louis.  Lilli, Abby, and I had a lovely picnic with all the families and children that were in St. Louis for the reunion at lunchtime on Sunday and then we made our way to South Kirkwood Road for a little more fun!

The girls loved it... and even better - When I asked about a military discount... they had one - free!  You can't get better "bang for your buck" than that!


A Future Engineers' Mind at Work....

Ah.... Teamwork!  : )

Really Mom... I can touch the tv?  You are not worried about fingerprints?  

Hello, this is Colonel Lilli, Do you want to speak to General Abby?  What happened to being President???  Guess they would rather follow in their Daddy's footsteps!  

Abby read from a book of Presidential Speeches... she is such a great reader!  

Now if you could only learn how to do that for real... you could save this 4 car family a ton of money!  

They did not have anything like this when mommy was little!  

Time for a snack!  

Even the snack was hands on!  

... and delicious!  

Water - always fun!  

Mom, can I get one of these when I turn 16?

Can we keep him?  

Holly's 18th Birthday "Present"

Since moving so close Nashville( ok... not soooooo close, but close enough) , It has been Holly's desire to attend the Country Music Awards.  Well.... it took nearly 3 years, but for her 18th Birthday.... she got just what she wanted!  Holly and I attended the 2011 CMT Awards last week.... sweet!

We were entertained by so many singers/groups!  I LOVED R@scal Flatts!  Holly loved it all!  Holly has some varied (seriously varied) musical interests.... she was thrilled when J@son Aldean was joined on stage by Lud@cris!  Lucky for her... because I don't think I would have ever taken her to see his concert!  But that said... it was one of many great musical moments!  And the best part... Holly was in the same building as Justin Beib@r!!!  

Hope you had a blast Holly Girl!!!  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

For My Father and My Children's Father....

"The greatest gift I ever had
Came from God, and I call him Dad!"
~~Author Unknown.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Like They Were Never Apart...

During the process of adopting,  photos are occasionally received out of the blue.  Some of the photos would be  sent by families traveling while adopting their children - always mindful that a snapshot (however blurry) of a waiting little one in China was worth more than gold to the family who was also waiting across an ocean!  Other photos would come from a sweet expat volunteer that was helping prepare both the little ones and the families.  Even others came from the orphanage staff when they were able to get their hands on a camera and find a way to get the photos to the waiting families.

These were all the case while we were in the process of adopting Lilli.  The photos were our "connection" - and the photos are still to this day poured over and cherished very much!

It was evident - as we received many photos - that Lilli had an every present companion while in China.  Another little girl that was more than just her "best friend"... they were more like sisters - sharing the 4th floor at the orphanage and also moving to a smaller foster home together with just seven other children.

At the time, the British volunteers in Xi'an called the two Cheryl and Susannah.   They are now Elizabeth and Lilli.    They were always together.  In pictures where Lilli was alone - there seemed to always be a frown or a look of fright on her face - when she was with Elizabeth - a certain look of confidence took the place of the sadness.

One of the earliest photos I have from the orphanage - Susannah  is far left with the orange poof in her hair and Cheryl is to the right with the orange sleeveless coat on.  This photo was taken in early 2006.  

When Lilli and Elizabeth were both matched and waiting for their families - now living in the foster home and being cared for by Heidi (far right) and being checked on quite frequently by Aunty Sandy from Australia (blue coat).

Joe and I traveled to China first - and were lucky enough to pretty much "dive into" Lilli's life in China.  We visited the orphanage, foster home, and even Lilli's school - all that she shared with Elizabeth.  And... we met Elizabeth - and said goodbye to Elizabeth on February 28, 2008.  Little hands parting so slowly across the school table....

We now know that this was not goodbye... but see you later!

Fast forward to June 9, 2011 - and this is what happened when they said "Hello" again:

This was within a few seconds of seeing each other... Lilli whispered in my ear, "It is all coming back to me now mom"...


Remember Elizabeth.... no sad... just happy.... until we see you again!!!