Monday, July 30, 2012 the Windy City!

I still feel breathless and giddy as I sit to write this post.  We just returned from our Taiwan R.O.C.ks event in Chicago and let me tell you ~ we had the most amazing time!

If you were there, well then you totally know of all the emotions and excitement and joy that I am feeling.  Those that missed this year, you were in our thoughts and I can't wait until next year to see even more families!
But for those of you asking just what R.O.C.ks was a Taiwanese adoptive family gathering attended by folks from all over the US (even as far out as Hawaii) for three fun filled days!  We had close to 50 families there and so many kiddos, it was truly wonderful!  I took quite a few photos so here we go....

Here's the one of the group photo shots we got.  I doubt everyone is in it, it was impossible to keep all the kids still at once!

But to back track to the beginning of the weekend.....
We decided to drive to Chicago, a nice little 9+ hour drive.  It went well, we are seasoned travelers by now, and the coolest part was driving through Indiana and seeing "the windmills"!  It was so pretty and just fun to see!
 Soon we were in the hustle and bustle of the big city.  I learned this weekend I am surely a "country mouse", although I can appreciate the beauty of the windy city.
 Checking in at the hotel
 We did some site seeing our second day before the big gathering.

 There was a children's fair in Millennium park so a group of families headed there to let the kids play and explore.  Simone found the hoola hoops right away!
 And Sammy twirled plates.  He took this very seriously I may add.
But building with sticks was another story!  That made lots of giggles come out of him!
 And smiles from Simone!
 Cuddles for Mama!
 The city is big with a lot of water around and through it!

And then on to the big event! We had a banquet lunch, which was right up Sammy Wei's ally!

There was a fundraising raffle too and Simone won a cool doll that looks just like her!  She was THRILLED!
And now for one of the best parts of the banquet (besides all the people of course!).....  one of our families contacted the local TECO (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office) just to let them know that we were having our reunion.  Not only were they excited to hear, but they sent some representatives and the TECO director to join our banquet lunch! He gave a beautiful speech that left many of us Mama's (and maybe a few Dad's) with wet eyes.  We also got entertained by a dragon dance and presented with some wonderful goodies for the kids!

Here's another group shot...see Sammy in the middle hugging a new friend!  They were all so precious!
 After the gathering we headed over to the Navy Pier where we walked around, had ice cream and rode the huge Ferris Wheel that, as Sammy said, went really really slow but very very high!

To cap off an already busy and amazing day the ladies met for "Mama's & Margaritas" once the kids were (mostly) tucked in bed!  This was such fun, getting to chat live with women I've "known" for years through blogs, yahoo groups and Facebook!  There was one Mama I was especially looking forward to meeting, one of my favorite blog buddies!  Lisa and I have been pals since I started the process and she has been such a source of support and a true friend....meeting her was such a joy!
As if all this wasn't enough....we spent a good part of Sunday in Chinatown with some of our Taiwan pals. This really was such fun, we got to take the subway train there which the kids just loved and then we got to explore this neat little area, shopping and eating our way from one end to the other!

We found statues with our Chinese zodiac signs....

And found a yummy bakery with all kinds of treats to share with friends newly made! 
 And silly times with friends we've had....
Simone and Miss L....finally a picture of these two beauties together!  Next year they will surely rekindle their friendship!
And Sammy and sweet T!  These two are Taiwan cuties for sure!

Both my dumplings left feeling they made connections with other families formed through adoption, Simone of course more so which is really cool in itself!  She cannot wait until our next gathering and felt so at ease with all of the fantastic folks that we shared our weekend with.   Sammy enjoyed running around the hotel with other "Taiwan tornadoes" just like himself!  And for me....well it was surreal, meeting all these parents (and kids) that I went through the adoption process with and become such good friends without ever really meeting!  And then I got to meet many others I hadn't known yet.  I am so grateful to our organizers for putting together such an incredible and important event to reunite our Taiwan babes and create the friendships they'll hopefully keep into thier adulthood!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Final days of our adventures

 So after "The canoe incident" we planned on a more relaxing end to our New England vacation.

We finished it up by visiting New Hampshire, where Adam's parents have a house.  It was a few days of fun times swimming at the lake and enjoying some family activities!

These two did not waste a moment before getting in the water.
My little dumpling Sammy's foot print.  Gosh it looks sooo big...I think he's growing way too fast!

Trying to catch those ever elusive and way too fast minnows. This exercise would be repeated throughout our time there....
Simone impressed me very much this trip.  In order to swim out to the raft you have to pass "the life guard test".  It consist of swimming back and forth from rope to rope 4 times and the treading water for 90 seconds.  Well, my dear fish passed and was allowed to swim to the raft with an adult!  Needless to say, the two of us went out there a lot every day!
We had a blast catching tadpoles too!  They were much easier to catch than those minnows.  Oh, sure I had nothing to do with actually catching these things, I mean....eeewwww!  But I've heard that they were easy to catch!
Adam's uncle visited as well.  He brought all the fixings for a clam boil, so my dear daughter was in heaven!  Thanks Uncle Chris, for spending such fun time with us and making Simone's trip complete with those steamers!
We took a few boat rides with Grampie.  This was Sammy Wei's little heaven....a motor boat ride (and this time not to be rescued...)!
And another fan favorite....jumping off the dock into the water.  We saw this at least 10 dozen times!

The life guard stand was a great place to climb after hours.  And I am so excited, as a Mama, to finally be able to have a few pictures with both my sweeties in it!

Of course we visited the local playground for an hour of running, sliding and playing!
But it was right back to the lake for some more swimming and boating!

We rode out to Blueberry Island on one of our trips which was a fun little treat.  Simone picked soooo many blueberries.  Mmmmmm Mmmmmmm -nothing like fresh berries off the plant!

Adam and I even had a date night while we were there!
We also got to run in a 5k!  The whole family did it, Sammy in the jogging stroller and Simone walking with her Nonna. 
Here's Grampie and I in motion.............
Simone and Nonna finishing up!
The kids letting loose and goofing around!

It was a really fun vacation and we were all sad to have it end.  Can't wait to do it all again next year!