Friday, February 17, 2012

San Diego's been a while since I've posted....sorry!

We headed to San Diego for a long weekend to see Bill's parents who winter in Yuma, AZ (about 3 hours from San Diego). The weather was great - mid 70's, blue skies, bright and sunny. SanDiego is quite beautiful with a small-town feel to a bigger city. The first full day there, we drove through the mountains to get to Bill's parents place. They were the most arid, rocky mountains I have ever seen.

The next day, we headed to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Not only is it one of the top zoo's in the world, it is also a registered botanical garden. It was absolutely beautiful and someplace that should everyone should see at least once. They are also one of 4 zoo's in the world that house the Giant Pandas from China, and have also been successful in breeding them.
Here are also some random pictures from our short stay. Our hotel overlooked Coronado Island, and every day we could see the Pacific Fleet go by, cruise ships depart and various yachts and fishing boats floating by.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Costa Rica

We decided to escape the snow and cold (-21 with the wind chill when we left). We spent last week in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. It was wonderfully warm...low 90's and not a cloud in the sky. The kids loved being able to swim every day. We did a few excursions: 4-wheeling in the country, zip-lining through the rainforest, mud baths and hot springs at the volcano basin, and deep sea-fishing.

The whole group from Wisconsin.

Ian and Ella zip-lining. One of the guides hooked Ella to his harness.

Yes, we cheered on the Packers in our swimsuits. All the commentary was in Spanish!

The swim-up bar was a hit!

Bill was always first to volunteer to give Ella a nap!

The beach was dark, volcanic sand. A nice beach, but I think we prefer the white sand beaches. The dark sand stained everything!

The guys took Ian fishing. 3 hours and 45 minutes of boredom, but the last 15 minutes were worth it. They caught a Rooster fish that was as tall and weighed as much as Ian! Unfortunately Rooster fish aren't good eating, so they didn't bring it back for the resort kitchen to cook for us.

The mud pits and hot springs near the volcano.

We were woken to Howler Monkeys in the trees each morning. There is a reason why they are called Howler Monkeys...they were loud!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ella Turns 3!

Ella's third birthday was this weekend. We had a party with family and friends. The big hit was the pop-up-tent with 300 balls! She absolutely loved it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend with Friends

We spent the weekend in Stillwater, MN with Jen, Jason and Addison. Ella and Addison were orphanage sisters back in China. It was great spending time with their wonderful family. We caught up on each others' lives, did some early Christmas shopping and went to the Science Museum and the aquarium at Mall of America. The guys went to the Packer/Viking game on Sunday. We stayed at a beautifully restored farmette owned by a cousin of Jen's. It was a wonderful weekend and it makes me wish we lived closer to each other. We have made some life-long friends with their family!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fall 2010

It's been a while since I posted some pictures. We've been extremely busy with Ian in 3rd grade. He turned 9 in October. And Ella will be 3 the end of this month. She'll start "big girl school" after she turns 3. They are both growing up so fast!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

China 'Sisters' Reunion

In July, we drove to Memphis, TN for a reunion with the 5 other families that adopted in our group. It was wonderful seeing how the girls have all changed. And it was great reconnecting with the families. I really wish we all lived closer together so we could meet more frequently. Even though the girls all had similar upbringings for their first year of life, they truly all are different people. Some are shy, others social. Some are climbers while others a still tentative walkers. But all were extremely beautiful, happy girls. And I think the mom's and dad's were a bit less stressed than the last time we all saw each other too!!!

March 2009 from left to right:
Addison, Carmen, Ella, Jaidyn, Emma and Kaleigh

July 2010 from left to right:
Emma, Addison, Kaleigh, Ella, Carmen and Jaidyn

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back to China

Our good friends - Cathy, Dave, Collin, Brennan & Maeve - are living in Shanghai for 3 years for Dave's job. We decided to take advantage of having built-in accommodations and tour guides, and headed to China for the 2nd time. This time we took the kids. They did wonderfully on the 14-hour flight. Ella didn't squawk at all, and Ian told me he was just "too prepared" (I wonder where he gets that from?!) with a whole backpack full of snacks and time-consuming games.

Our friends' house was like an oasis in the big city of Shanghai. The neighborhood was quiet, lawns manicured, and goldfish lazily swimming in the canals behind the houses.

After a couple of days getting over jet-lag, both families (5 kids age 11 to 2 and 4 adults) flew to Guilin in Guangxi Province, which it the province that Ella is from. We drove about an hour south of Guilin to the town of Yangshuo and stayed at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

The hotel was beautifully located along the Li River. The scenery was breathtaking. Even though it was the rainy season, quite hot and humid and very overcast, we hiked through the local villages. We had planned on rafting on a bamboo raft down the lazy river, but with all the rain, the river wasn't as 'lazy' as we'd hoped, and they cancelled all rafting trips. The next day we had planned on biking through the rice paddy country, but again it was raining, so we just hired a van who drove us around the countryside, through the rice paddies, and to a town with the 600 year-old Dragon Bridge. Yangshou was definately one of the highlights of our trip to was so beautiful and gave us all great memories of the province where Ella is from.

Back in Shanghai for a few days, we toured the city...the World Financial Center (tallest building in China with a glass viewing floor), the Bund (area along the river where the British settled), the markets. The highlight of this part of the trip was a personal tour of the French Concession by a Chinese friend of Cathy's. She took us in a lilong, which is a old-style Shanghaiese neighboorhood. It is basically an alley with walk-up apartments on either side. The children play in the alley, and all neighbors take care of one another. We went into the house of a 78 year-old woman and her husband. The main living area was about 10 feet square, and she raised 3 kids there. Every square inch of space was used.

If you would like to view more pictures from our trip, click on the More Pictures link at the top right of this page. Then click on the China June 2010 folder.