Sunday, March 27, 2011

Let's take a walk...

A walk down memory lane.  Let's walk back six years. Six years from today.

Picture this...........
A quiet hotel room amidst a bustling city along the Ganjiang River. A woman quietly folds and refolds tiny clothes, not quite sure how to put things back, how to arrange these unfamiliar articles. A man paces the room, looking often at the view of the if seeking for something he'll not find.  Not out there at least.

The phone rings, breaking the silence. The couple turns and stares at it, unable to quite fathom what it truly means.

The voice on the line tells them to hurry to the elevator, that the moment has come.

They have arrived.

The couple wait - excited, scared, thrilled and terrified all at once. How will these next moments change their lives forever? The woman starts to cry, unexpected tears full of emotions too hard to put to words. The man comforts her, says it will be alright.

As the elevator doors open a line of women exit, carrying small bundled objects. Eight sweet babies, some with red faces full of tears, some staring silently as if wondering what would come next, all about to embark on the next part of the journey of their lives.

Names are called, matches are made. The couple wait, ever so anxious, scared, so excited and....

They hear their name called, they are asked some basic info and then. And then.

I became a Mom.

Six years ago today, I became a Mom.

Those intense feelings that had been in my heart for ages were finally becoming a reality. The dream of actually seeing her in person, of holding her, of being Mom were now fully real. The love I'd felt for a photo of a small chubby baby now had a smell, a feel and a weight.

She had a voice as well, and boy oh boy did she use it. What a bittersweet moment becoming a parent to an older infant can be. All those months preparing for this very moment, but never being fully prepared.

Now let's picture the days to follow.

Bus rides were peaceful as well as late night. In between was hard, for my sweet QingLu - it was a new beginning she'd never asked for. Her world was with another "Mama" and parting from her was so painful. But as days went by she grew to like us, more and more. Until we became all she knew, all she needed.   I started to really feel like a Mom too, the more she allowed me in, allowed me to care for her and love her, the stronger those bonds became.  I remember the day she first smiled at me, the warmth of that beautiful grin produced just for me.

We still do talk of her "other mother", the one who fostered her. We speak of the obvious care and love she gave to that baby girl, and of the gratitude I'll always feel for giving her such a positive start in life.

And of course we talk about the most important "others". The ones she will never again know, only knew for a brief moment. Today probably means nothing to them, yet I seem to think of them so much on this day, more so than any other day really.  I feel a pain for them, for never knowing what a joy, what a gift and what an amazing being they brought into this world. What I would give to just let them know....share with them my gratitude. 

But honestly I can't dwell, because on this day I celebrate the awesome blessing I received six years ago.   I celebrate this child, my child, so full of sparkle and depth and joy. 
My sometimes quiet and reserved child, the one who wants to know the rules so she is sure not to break them.  My sweet girl who is always full of laughter - that deep warm laugh that radiates through and through.  My dumpling who is good at singing and dancing, but even better at making up new lyrics.  Her creativity is wonderful and she makes up songs to calm her brother, to let me know what she wants for dessert and sometimes just to amuse herself.   My artist, she has such an ability to create drawings that pop with life and that are so very detailed it amazes me on a regular basis!  My little girl who is growing into such a young lady who is gaining such self confidence and poise.
My Simone QingLu, my daughter.
I love you all the way to Pluto and around the universe.  And back..... Happy Family Day my love.
The day she first smiled at me...on the bus ride from the park to the hotel.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Final days of Spring Break

Just a few photos to wrap up our Spring Break!  We spent most of our final days poolside since the weather was warm and the kids just loved all the swimming and slides!

Me and my silly guy.
Not asleep...just resting.  He seriously popped up within moments and was off and running.  He just loves his Daddy...a lot!
I have never seen a pool get fuller faster than at this hotel.  By 10AM it was jam packed with kids and adults and you had to be resourceful to get a poolside seat!  But we had so much fun and my two were little fishes!

And we had to bid farewell to our pals. that a kiss she's sneaking?   Oh my my my.....
And the famous "hair wrap"!  She begged the entire trip to get this and finally on the last day we let her.  She was thrilled!
Pretty cool, huh?
So we headed home...the long 10 hour drive back to our home town.
The kids did really great on the way home as well but by the time we passed the TN border we were all more than ready to get home.  

And now we're all back to reality and back on schedules ---- but with the memories of our super fun Spring Break still lingering!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On we Sea World!

Tuesday brought us to SeaWorld (wow, was it really a full week ago?) and all of the excitement that such a park can bring!  Simone chose Sea World and we thought that it would be a bit easier than the other big parks with Sammy.  There sure was plenty to see and all of the kids had a great time, as well as the adults!  It was a long tiring day but it really was a wonderful time.

Here's Sammy and P at the start of the day.  We were lucky to have him around to help watch Sammy!  And I tell you what, he did a great job of chasing him and keeping him close for us.  And Sammy...well he just adores P!
Now if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you'll know already how my two just love aquariums.  They both could spends hours amongst the fish tanks.  Sammy was awed by the sting rays and having them swimming all around him and Simone just loved pointing out any of the species she knew the name of.
Photo below taken by Ms. Simone.....I see photography in her future!

And our favorite parts of the day were seeing the shows!  The dolphin show was so amazing and the kids just loved every moment!  There were a lot of "ooohs" & "aaaws" from them! 
Check out Simone's face.....!  Love it.
After that we hit the play area where the kids headed right for the splash pad. (Cause there wasn't enough water back at the hotel?)  We did manage a few rides and attractions along the way.  I even got to ride on Kraken (the roller coaster) with my Mama friend J!  It's been, ummmm, years since I've been on a big ride and let me tell ya.... it was AWESOME!

Below is Sammy splashin it up!
This was so cool...these fellows on stilts doing all these crazy flips while the musicians were playing wild drum music. 

Our very own dancing queens!  Go dance dance!
And my ultra napper, once again taking a break from all the activity.  He actually fell asleep in the midst of the very loud music show!

It was hard to drag the kids away from there- but we were able to with the promise of seeing these amazing creatures....

Think the girls are a bit tired?  They didn't actually sleep on J but certainly rested while waiting for the show to start!
Not Sammy.  Since having his little power nap he was all sorts of excited about seeing these Orca's jump through the air and water!  He said "wow" about 150 times through the show!  Very adorable.
They really put on an incredible show!

We rounded out the day with dinner with the sharks.  The tank full of sharks and other sea critters was right next to our table.  Though the girls were a bit nervous about eating with sharks so close the boys just loved it!  No photos though...I just couldn't get my brain and camera to work together and all the photos came out terrible.

So that was our day at Sea World.  We all went back to the hotel and slept like babes....
I have a few last photos I'll post later of our last days there--- and special pics of Simone's hair wrap!

Monday, March 21, 2011

And off to Orlando

Yes, the adventure continues.  Next stop.....Orlando, Florida!!!
We met up with some friends from back home for a few days excursion at the Nick hotel.

Where we got to hang out with...........

Think the kids are a wee bit excited about our stay?  She was jumping up and down and he was dancing a little jig!
Literally within seconds of checking in Simone has found the lagoon pool- and her pal.  And there they stayed, for many many hours....
While the little guy caught up on his zzzz's poolside!
But soon enough we dried off to check out the hotel room. 
And boy was it cool!  We had a sponge bob themed room with cool bunk beds and bikini bottom walls!

The top bunk was a perfect spot for snack & tv time....
And the walls were begging the kids to do a funky dance....

But soon our tummies were grumbling and we headed out to Rainforest Cafe for some yummy grub!  Sammy & pal P made friends with the elephant.
Pretty girls!  It was great Simone had a best friend built into vacation, it kept her entertained and Adam and I had some other adults to help chase Sammy Wei to hang out with.
Sammy was amazed with the restaurant and all the activity.  Every time there was a rain shower he climbed into the nearest lap and pretended to shake.  I think he really loved it....
Oh my handsome fellow!  It looks like he was trying to read the signs to find the ice cream shop.....

So that was our first day in Orlando.  It was a good start to a fun couple of days!
More exciting memories to come......

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Part 2...the fun continues

Did I mention how much we squeezed into a week....?
Well, believe me when I say that it was a lot of fun stuff.  We were lucky to make it to a park on the water for some morning play before nap time...and before more family arrived to visit!  The kids had a blast playing and I was thrilled to be able to get together with one of my dearest pals and her family!

And have I ever mentioned how Sammy has NO fear and runs any playground like he's been playing there for years?  Well, that's my Sammy Wei...taking over playgrounds near and far.
Thankfully Simone is around to keep him from tumbling too far.  And to rescue him from dinosaurs....
But who is this darling?  Well that's Ms. A and her sassy pigtails!  Sammy seemed to like her and they played around each other quite a bit while seeming to keep their distance.  Very cute!
Ms. A and her wonderful Mama! 
Ummm...rocking out to AC/DC?  Or smiling...?
 Either one, it's a typical Sammy face.
And a typical Simone face....lovely!
Still playing "together". 
And Simone's busy doing her thing.
 And then....
She spotted this. 
Which became a crab hunt with a group of other kids!
While these two just kept playing!

What a super fun morning it was!  I am so glad the kids got to see the gulf and play in the sand and water. 

Then the surprise visit from another favorite Uncle!  Yes...and Yay..... it's Uncle Fred!!!!
Both kids were so happy to see him again and had such a great afternoon playing with him.
And Aunt Annie came for a bit again.  Sammy was very happy and gave a lot of hugs and pats.

And since we had built in babysitters...Adam and I got a date night! 
We had a nice dinner and some quiet time together!  Trust me, this is a rare occurrence and we totally enjoyed it!  (Thanks Ma & Pop for this treat!)
And we got to watch the sunset over Dunedin Beach while enjoying a nice glass of vino.

But alas, our time in Clearweater ended very quickly so we could continue our vacation in Orlando!
One last photo with the grandparents and we were on the road again....
But the fun still continues....