Monday, July 30, 2012

Backyard Photos

I wanted to create a "Welcome Home" announcement for Lily and realized I hadn't taken any photos of Lily since we have been home...other than a few on my iPhone. So, for the last couple of days I have had a mini photo session in my backyard. My photography instructor said taking photos of children was hard work and a good workout...she wasn't kidding! My next photography purchase will be a tripod and a remote. It is very difficult to jump around like a crazy person to keep the kids smiling and hold a camera!

I have to admit my most cooperative subject was Lucy. She really loves attention...even when there is a camera involved...and will do anything for a treat. I used her to help get the lighting accurate before I brought my kids outside.
Lily did really well having her photo taken, but like Bennie, she has her own ideas. She loves to smile with her tongue sticking out.
Each session lasted for about 10 minutes and out of about 60 photos taken, only a few were good enough to post.
Then I got a crazy idea and thought it would be fun to have a picture of all the kids together. Talk about an insane ten minutes! I don't think I have ever worked so hard in my life. Jackson was so good, but Lily and Bennie didn't really want to cooperate. I should have kept the outtakes...they were really funny!
The Jayhawk Trio

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summertime Fun in the Backyard

I know I have mentioned this before...Benjamin LOVES water. Yesterday, we decided to use the turtle sprinkler and play in the backyard to beat the heat. Honestly, it's hot...but not as hot as China.

Running through the sprinklers started off innocent...
...then Jackson decided to pick up the sprinkler and spray Benjamin with water...
and the war began.

Lily and I stayed out of the water fight and rested in the shade...although I have a feeling she will be able to hold her own in future water fights with her brothers.

The Birthday Boy

Benjamin has officially turned four! We were going to have a big party for his fourth birthday, but with jet lag and a new baby it just didn't work out...not that he really cared. All he wanted for his birthday was Spider Man decorations and cupcakes with sprinkles.
Hoping All His Wishes Come True!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Travel Group and HK Disney

We have been home three days and we're still jet-lagged...wonder when we will finally be back to normal? Benjamin was so tired the second night we were home, he literally fell over into his toys and passed out.
Our travel group consisted of 10 families from all over the United several grandparents. Everyone was wonderful and I hope we are all able to keep in touch. Jackson became very smitten with the beautiful young lady in purple standing next to him on the front row. She was so sweet and charged Jackson's DSi the entire time we were in Guangzhou...he fried his charger in Beijing by plugging it directly into the wall.

After leaving Guangzhou, we traveled to Hong Kong and stayed one extra day to go to HK Disney. HK Disney has to be the hottest place on earth...seriously! It was fun, but not as big as Disneyland and had a lot less rides. I was a little disappointed in the limited amount of rides for young children, but Bennie and Jackson didn't seem to mind.
Bennie and I on "Dumbo the Flying Elephant"

Everyone rode "It's a Small World"...even Nana and Papa...because it was air-conditioned.
Lily napping at HK Disney

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lillian's Birthday Dress

Today is Lillian's first birthday! We are so happy to be able to share it with her.

We are on our way to Hong Kong and will spend a day at Disney HK tomorrow before heading home to US.

Fliss~I have been getting your comments, but can't reply to them. We are with GWCA and Nicole is in our travel group. She and William are wonderful parents and their daughter is so precious. Kelly has been our guide for ten days and she is fabulous. She has made our time in GZ so much fun. We went to the Island, but I'm sad to report Jordan's Store is no longer there. Since the White Swan closed and US Consulate/Medical moved off the Island, several stores have had to close due to less foot traffic. Very sad!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wonderful Park and Street Market

After being in China for 12 days, I can honestly say I will not miss...the traffic and crazy drivers...the umbrellas...squatty potties...people constantly brushing up against me...the staring...having strangers take photos with my kids...and the HEAT. Outside of those few things, I think I would like living in China...the food is to die for!

Today we ventured out on our own to a local park. This park is one of two near our hotel and nicely tucked back away from the street noise. It had a huge lake where you could rent boats, play ping pong, use exercise equipment, and it also had the cutest little amusement park.

We also walked through a local neighborhood and street market. The street market was amazing. The fruits and vegetables were huge and looked delicious! There was also some very interesting animals for sale...frogs, turtles, snakes, sting rays...that the Chinese butchered right there on the street for all to see.

We also ate at the most delicious street cafe. Their pot stickers and noodle dishes were so awesome...I can't stop eating there. Nobody in the cafe speaks English, so Tris has to point to pictures on the wall. I will miss the street cafe food the most!

Tomorrow is our US Consulate appointment and oath ceremony then off to the Island for a little shopping!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pearl and Jade Market

Yesterday Kelly took us to the Pearl and Jade Market where you can buy pearls and jade at wholesale prices. I was so excited. I have always wanted a jade bangle and had even planned on getting my sisters and sisters-in-law jade bangles as well. Tris, Jackson, and Bennie stayed at the hotel to swim...and it was a good thing. This place was huge and full of jewelry. I think it was seven stories high. The photo below was one end of the market.

Our guide took us to several well know dealers known for quality. Their merchandise was all beautiful and high quality...we think. Unfortunately for my sisters, jade was much more expensive than I thought. I picked out a simple jade bracelet and the price was $475 US. I will admit I was tempted to get it, but settled for something much cheaper. Needless to say, my sisters are not getting jade bracelets...sorry girls! We are hoping to come back to China in 8 years. Maybe by then I can afford a few more bracelets.

Nana and Papa Vic at one of the pearl shops.

Orphanage Visit

Several days ago we went to visit Lillian's orphanage in Southern China. It was a 3 1/2 hour bus ride one way, but totally worth the long ride. Lillian comes from a very poor orphanage. There are actually four orphanages in this small town of 500,000 people in an area the size of West Wichita...lots of people and not a lot of space. Her town is 30 minutes from the China Sea so the main income for families is fishing. We ate at a local restaurant, where we quickly became celebrates and had our pictures taken often. The food was awesome! I'm not even sure what I was eating, but sometimes it's better not to ask.

Below are a few pictures of Lily with a some of her nannies. The nannies work in three shifts throughout the day so my guess is there are about 6 nannies that rotate throughout the day two at a time. Their salaries are paid by the government.

Jackson in front of the orphanage
Lily with the Assistant Director and our wonderful guide Kelly
Lily with the Director of the Orphanage. The Director told our guide that they run their orphanage strictly off of government money, but are trying to find a corporate sponsor or foundation to help them out and make much needed improvements. They have applied for Half Sky Moon grants, but we're turned down because the orphanage was too small. They know they could do better with early childhood intervention, but lack knowledge and funds.
This is one of Lillian's nannies. She came right up to me as soon as we walked in and snatched Lily up. I could tell she really carried about Lily and wanted one more snuggle.
This is the orphanage accountant
Another nanny that wanted one more snuggle from Lily. She is also holding another waiting child. She was abandoned when she was one year old. She was very sweet. I hope this photo finds her waiting parents someday. Notice Lily's bow went from the side of her head to the front...that's where the nannies thought I should put it. Haha! The nannies also thought Lily was a good match for our family because Lily and I look alike. Hmmm
After leaving the orphanage, we went to Lily's finding spot...the place her mother left her. She was found at the entrance to an upper end neighborhood at the west gate. The neighborhood is called Star Garden.

Kelly, our guide, said our daughter has a strong Cantonese look about her and thinks her mother is probably a local girl from another part of town. Her mother probably left her at this gate because it was a safe neighborhood and there is a grocery store and street market right next door so there would be heavy foot traffic early in the morning so someone would find her right away.

Street market next to Star Garden.

I have to say, I was a little worried that Lillian would fuss when we left the orphanage and would want to stay, but outside a few nanny snuggles, she preferred me to hold her while at the orphanage. And as we left to get on the bus...she never looked back.


Friday, July 6, 2012

A Few Photos from Yeaterday

The boys swimming in the hotel pool and Lily all decked out in pink. Check out her cute leg warmers!