Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chinese Easter

[I wrote this post nearly three weeks ago but kept intending to put video up of some of my kids cool toys from China that make noise and light up...oh well]

Surely we have all heard of Chinese New Year, but this year our family experienced a little of China on our Easter break.  My Dad and Josh recently returned from a two week trip through China---a last hurrah of sorts---and boy did they bring a lot back with them to share with us!  My personal favorites were the musical spinning tops that were brought back for the grandsons.  Also cool were the cyclists that ride around, light up, and play music...though I am grateful I know how to remove the batteries!  All of my kids (except Bracken who was too big apparently) got silk pajama-esque outfits that are adorable.  Tate doesn't seem to love his but that doesn't matter because he looks soooo darling in them that I am going to make him wear them anyway.

By the time Easter day actually came we were on to true Easter things but I did notice in my pictures that the kids Chinese hats (complete with long braid down the back) were in the entryway by the bunnies, so I thought the China trip was deserving of a shout-out.  The day before Easter we had planned to have a cousins Easter egg hunt at my Dad's but the weather was awful so we postponed until the following day and had the hunt after Sunday dinner.  The kids had a great time and almost everyone got A LOT of eggs.  We had been concerned that the hunt wouldn't happen at all because I had waited until getting back to VA to purchase all of the plastic eggs, etc. because I hadn't wanted to try and pack a lot of extra stuff but when Jessie and I went from store to store we began to panic as all we could see were rows of empty shelves.  Finally CVS saved the day and the kids were totally content with their loot.

Abbie and Tate had already gotten to participate in an Easter egg hunt with Abbie's preschool class.  We all met at a park near the school the Tuesday before Easter and watched the kids scramble for the eggs that were all laid out in a colorful sheet across the grass.  We had decided that actually hiding them may have become to frustrating for a large group of 3-year-olds.  It was tons of fun but Abbie developed an attitude somewhere down the line because I suggested she share some of her eggs with Tate since she had gathered way more than he had.  She was not a fan of the idea.

We all had a very special time just being together.  We were so grateful to be able to spend one last holiday with all of the cousins and siblings together before Josh's departure.  My only regret was not getting a picture of all of the kids together in their Easter clothes.  Grandpa had purchased matching seer sucker outfits for all of the grandkids.  The girls had smocked dresses and the boys all had matching shorts.  I guess I didn't think it was essential to get a picture with my camera because we were having professional family photos taken later in the week, however, I obviously don't have access to putting those on my blog.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ariel visits the museum

Having grown up in a suburb of Washington DC, and then having lived in another one for nearly four years with my children, I was shocked to find out that Bracken had told his preschool teacher that he had never been downtown to see the White House or the Capitol. He has, of course, been down to see the sights several times but apparently none of that ever sunk in. Justin and I vowed that this trip back home would not pass us by without a trip to the national mall. Unfortunately for us the weather did not cooperate on the chosen day. We headed down to Washington last Wednesday and it was a cold and rainy day, I think it was only around 40 degrees and it wasn't just drizzling it was pouring down Abbie came appropriately dressed for the copious amounts of rain in her newly-acquired Ariel costume that used to be her Aunt Kelly's.

It actually was fun once we found a parking space (which literally took one full hour of circling), we finally decided to exercise a little faith and pray that a parking space would open up and one did IMMEDIATELY after I said Amen. It was a great teaching lesson for my kids, although now I'm sure they will start praying for all kinds of things and expect instant gratification. We did have to run through the rain for about a block but once the kids were inside the Natural History Museum it was all worth it. Our brothers, who found a parking space nearly 40 minutes earlier than we did, were so much fun to be with and made the trip a lot more fun for the kids. My younger brother Josh and Justin's younger brother Spencer have been good friends since Justin and I began dating twelve years ago, they were 7 and 8 years old at the time. Spencer just returned from serving a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in London, and Josh is entering the Missionary Training Center tomorrow to begin his mission in San Bernadino, CA. It was a great reunion for us all because we hadn't seen Spencer in two years before this trip and we know we won't see Josh for the next two years. We love them both and are grateful for the example they set for our children.

We had planned on hitting multiple museums and several more sights but because of the bad weather we settled for just the one museum followed by a drive through Adams Morgan for pizza. Jessie and Taylor have experienced the joys of Pizza Mart with us on another trip (we went to the zoo that time) but this time we thought that Spencer would get a kick out of the 24" slices. The pizza is good, especially when you are famished from a day downtown, but we go more for the novelty and experience of going to such a dive and ordering a slice of pizza taller than some of our children.

The gang in front of the iconic giant elephant

Two scary kids

Tate is fascinated by the T-Rex skull

My little dinosaurs

The boys touching the rock "like Ms. Sarah has at school"

Abbie's turn to touch the rock

Uncle Josh viewing the rocks with the kids

Abbie having the time of her life

Bracken making a typical Bracken face

Bracken, Abbie, and Tate trying to grab the 3-D molecules in the precious gems section

Mermaid Abbie outside the butterfly house

Bracken asking me if they had to kill that butterfly...unfortunately, yes

Tate really trying to see what was living in that bubble

they are really checking out what's going on in there

The kids crawling through a bug house at the bottom of a faux tree

the whole gang (except me) sitting in front of a window overlooking Washington

Spencer and the kids looking down at the giant elephant

Abbie with a blue tongue from her lollipop

Bracken imitating the orangutan

Abbie looking like a zombie

These boots were made for walkin'

Before Bracken was born, or perhaps shortly thereafter, my in-laws were on a trip and saw these darling red cowboy boots and purchased them so that they could have a picture taken of each of their little grandkids wearing them.  Justin is the only married child so we are the only ones with kids and thus ours are the only children to have sported the boots.  We've learned a few lessons over the years about taking these pictures, perhaps the most important lesson we have learned is that even though the boots are a size 6 we have to take the pictures when my kids feet are a size 4 because their legs are too fat to fit the calves in after that point.  The problem is that my children can't walk or really even stand when they have size 4 feet so the pictures aren't as great.  Anyway, while we were back in Virginia this past week we tried to get a few pictures of Miss Ruby Jane wearing the boots but she just would NOT hold still.  She was sick of being trapped and wanted to roam free.  All of her siblings have had their boots pictures taken professionally and have studio backgrounds but little Ruby didn't have that opportunity since our trip was so backed with activities.

These pictures were all taken on the day we flew in.  We had gotten up at 5 AM and my kids had already endured security, a 3 hour flight, and a 1 hour drive from the airport to grandma's.  Needless to say they were not thrilled about family photo time.  Oh well.  After all of the kids shots we took some extended family shots including Justin's siblings and Dad and stepmom, I haven't seen those yet but there are sure to be some gems.  I tried to include shots above of kids picking their noses, crying, and pulling hair.  If you look closely in the some of the pictures you can see some pretty funny things, like when there appear to be only three children in the wagon but then you see Tate's little green sneakers sticking out and realize he is indeed squished in there between the girls.

We had so much fun in Virginia and did so many things that I think I will post each event separately because there is just way too much to try and roll it all into one!