Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Four Brothers

My best friend from high school (Rebecca in my friend's list)
lives just outside of Nashville with her husband, Eric, and their posse of boys: Jacob, Caleb, Michael and Jared.So, on our recent vacation, since we were already going to St. Louis (and TN looked really close on the map-ha!)--we were able to work out a trip to see their family as well. It had been over 8 years since we had all been together, and over 7 since Rebecca and I had seen each other. Of course, there are many more of "us" between the two families now :)

I attempted to brief my children on the boys before we arrived at their house; describing them from oldest to youngest...even showing them their pictures, attempting to have them learn their names before we arrived...all to no avail.

On the drive from St. Louis to Nashville, they became known as 'the four brothers'. And they were a hot topic of discussion. What were 'the four brothers' like? What were 'the four brothers' ages? How much longer until we were at 'the four brothers' house?

And at last we were at 'the four brother's' house. And a more perfect scene could not be found, for there, sitting all in a row, on 'the four brother's' front stoop, WAS...the four brothers!

It was the perfect greeting, and provided us all with a wonderful beginning to a fun-filled week with...Jacob, Caleb, Michael, and Jared! (and their mommy and daddy, of course!)

Our first outing with them was a hike to a beautiful stream with many waterfalls. The weather was so nice for us. Not humid at all. (very unlike the regular July TN weather we discovered)

Evie walks hand in hand with Eric. hmmm...maybe warming up to the idea of a daughter?

this is my delighted husband. he passed the wiener mobile on the drive back to their house. is it any wonder I am in love with this man?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tom Sawyer's

All American Kiddos: Evie, Gabby and Ian

(it was so humid outside, I was having a hard time keeping my lense from fogging.)

Before our vacation, the most 'live' exposure I had had to Tom Sawyer was the island at Disneyland dedicated to the fictional boy created by Mark Twain.
But now I have been to the REAL Hannibal, MO. The town that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) grew up in and based most of Tom's adventures around.
Of course, like any self-respecting American town with any shred of historical connection...Hannibal has seized on this entrepreneurial opportunity and built a living shrine to the characters of Tom and Becky. There is even an annual Tom and Becky contest and the winners are chosen to represent the town in festivals and parades throughout the year as the couple.

Backing up just a bit (ok--quite a bit)...Jeff visited Hannibal with his family when he was a child (hey--I warned you it was quite a bit!) and the part that he remembered the most, was touring "Injun Joe's Cave". Of course, it is not called that anymore. very un-PC. But it was unchanged other than the name. An incredible, underground expanse of rock formations and caverns.
At just over an hour, the tour was a bit long for the little ones, but they were troopers, and definitely enjoyed it overall. We had read the book, Tom Sawyer, as a family. in preparation for the trip to the town, so they had a deeper appreciation for all of the sights.

Gabby demonstrates how narrow some of the passages are.

This is titled "Jesse James Hideout". They have evidence to support the belief that Jesse and his gang stayed here for a while. Jesse signed his name in the cave!

a very tired Evie, fortunately nearing the end of the tour...

Our tour guide through the cave was very good at weaving the story into his tour, and we were glad that the kids had the knowledge of the book to pull from when he referenced it. At one point in the tour, he shut off all of the lights to show us just how dark it was in the cave without electricity, and why Tom and Becky were so scared when they were lost in the cave with no lights. and plenty of bats (ew).

We ate ice cream at a small parlor that also boasted a wide array of Mark Twain's books. My goodness that man was prolific! I realized just how little of his writings I have actually read. Did you know he is known as the first American celebrity? He is definitely one of the most quoted. I will leave you with one of my favorites.
"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

meet me in st. louis

the spicy girls and their mommys. together again :)

Giggly Girls! Evie and Sage.

Sage and Evie check out a picture of themselves at 9 months

Ian, enjoying the hula-hooping at the Reunion Picnic.

Gabby having her face painted.

Evie gets her face painted, also. (she actually sat still!)

Beautiful Princess!

Evie inspects Sage's face painting.

Malaine quickly became one of Evie's favorite people.

Evie and Malaine peek out of the play structure at the picnic.

So here it long last...the first of the vacation posts!

Of course, it has now been over a month since we traveled, but better late then never, right?!...

Ever since the Children's Hope Int. (our adoption agency) Reunion Picnic last year, we have been planning to attend the one this summer. It was just not feasible last year, and we figured that Evie might remember it/appreciate it more this year anyway. We flew into Nashville, TN because I looked at the "distance" on the map and decided it was not very far from St. Louis, MO and since we have friends in the Nashville area--we could fit a visit with them in as well!--so we rented a van and drove the 5 hours (oops!) to St. Louis. travel agent I am not. As it turned out, we were the only family from our China travel group that traveled to the picnic this year. Fortunately, our closest friends from the group, Mark and Shannon Laxton, live just outside of St. Louis and do not need to travel to attend--so they were there! (they were actually our main reason for attending the picnic, as Evie and Sage were roommates and we have tried to keep the girls updated on each other with pictures)

And, while we certainly would have LOVED to see all of the others from our travel group (not so subtle hint, hint!) our time with the Laxtons was amazing! Evie and Sage were so precious together, and all of the rest of the kiddos (theirs and ours) blended so well. We were treated to a home-cooked meal at their house--oh my! Shannon is an awesome cook! I still have to get the recipe for those delicious ham and cheese melty thingys...:)

We were able to do some sightseeing with them, as well...traveling up to the top of the St. Louis Arch. oh my, what a trip! (best said by Khalil, the caterpillar/worm from Veggie Tales' Jonah) The "pods" that you cram into (and, as a family of 5 --we were minus Shell this vacation--I mean CRAM into) are small, futuristic-if-we-were-living-in-the-60's, egg-shaped, creaking, swaying, elevator cars.

(that smile on my face is to hide the fear.)

the look on Ian's face stayed the whole ride to the top. he was as excited as mommy to ride.

Let's see...cramped? check, creaky? check, elevator? check, heights? check OH MY! four of my least favorite things all in one ride!! yay! and yet, it was--surprisingly--well worth it! an, undeniably, iconic piece of American sighseeing history. very cool. and, knowing that all those creaks and bumps were just part of the charm, the ride down was much more enjoyable.

some 'bums' enjoying the view (couldn't resist!)

the view from the top.

Ah! some of the kiddos from the front.

(l-r) Evie, Malaine, Gabby, Sawyer, Ian, Makenna, Sage.

ride down--much happier!

yes, even a happier mommy.

seriously? you are looking for a caption here? well, it's the arch...

We also ate at a really fun diner that had the largest root beer floats I had ever seen--let alone eaten! But eat (and drink) I did! The whole thing! and so did all of the kids...yes, we actually wasted money on meals for them, as well. silly parents.

and, as I am less than half way through our vacation photos and adventures, I shall have to make this a two (or three) part blog...(hopefully I will be back soon--or at least sooner than last time!)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Company Picnic

Jeff's company threw a western-themed bbq for everyone at the company and their families today. It was held at a private park called Hornings Hideout. It had small lakes for fishing and paddleboats.
Peacocks were everywhere on the grounds.

Gabby, Ian and Evie enjoying the tire swing, and their popcicles.

Daddy and Ian on one of the paddleboats.

my favorite. a white peacock.