Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

After making it home, we scrambled costumes together for Halloween. Fortunately the girls have lots of princess dress-up clothes, and Tonito got the perfect pirate costume from my mom for his birthday. Here's Maya as Little Mermaid:

Vivi as pink Jasmine:
And Tonito as a "scary" pirate (notice the face)-

Tonio's last minute costume was pj's and mine was running clothes.

We got invited to a Halloween party in our neighborhood, and randomly, each of the kids knew one of the kids there from school! Vivi had her little friend Anna (the pink supergirl) there from preschool, and Tonito had Tyler (the green cucumber) from speech class.

They live on a culdesac that ends in a green belt, so the kids were safe and could run wild for dinner.

We carved pumpkins, had had dinner and dessert (because the candy wouldn't be enough:).

And at dusk we formed a huge parade consisting of a fireman, a banana, several princeses, a cucumber, a tomato, a policeman, a football player, pirate, and more. Our neighborhood doesn't have that many kids so the people handing out the candy were always pleasantly surprised at the huge group! It was a very fun party, and I am so glad it spontaneously worked out!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The looooooong drive home

We started the LOOOONG drive home on Wednesday the 28th. When I say "we," I mean me- by myself- accompanied by 3 little ones strapped in car seats. There are 2 kiddos that are happy with snacks, Disney music, (obviously) DVDs, and an occasional potty and running around break. There is one little one in particular who is quite demanding of the two hands that should be steering the wheel: "me das (can I have) crackers? cheese? play with mommy's hair? mommy hold my hand? my tray fall down!!!! otra musica, 'nother book, 'nother book, 'nother book, my shoe, my sock, cargame! (carry me), po-po, Maya color, abajo (down) mommy, and the ubiquitous "no see my window To-to!!!!" (ie don't look out my window)... I think the 2.5 years of me working and commuting with Vivi was the vital car-survival-training that Maya missed out on.
Anyway, I drove all the way to south-eastern Missouri to stay with our friends Kim and Scott (and Drew- Tonito's buddy from Urumqi). It was awesome. Not the drive- the getting there and letting the kids run around and be crazy with their friend. We had so much fun playing and having a "sleepover" with Drew! We went to the same Chinese restaurant that we had visited on the way down. Fan, the gracious owner, is from China, is one of Kim's friends, and has kids around the same age. The kids were wild already, and then she blew up a bunch of balloons and the true mayhem began: balloon volleyball over the tables and around customers, the occasional balloon popping and subsequent crying until another balloon of the same color and size could be provided to the victim, and just plain running and jumping and expelling of energy. After dinner we went back to Drew's house and the kids all played until well past bedtime- we miss you so much Drew!
Day two was supposed to be the "easy" day, but fate had other ideas. We left around 11, and I had supposedly 6 hours to get to Little Rock to pick up Tonio at the airport at 5. The trip was supposed to only take 4 hours, so I could check into the hotel and relax before picking up Tonio. Ha. Relax. That's funny. The radar on the weather channel was right- the line of thunderstorms and tornado producing weather fronts started exactly at our location and ran all the way to Houston. Not only did I have to drive through rains so hard my fastest wiper speed couldn't keep up, but this same storm system ended up delaying Tonio until 9pm.
Most of the drive from rural Missouri to Little Rock was on two lane farms roads, flanked on both sides by flooded rice paddies, or even one lane bridges, where you should wait for the only other lone car on miles of highway to cross. (this I did not know until I saw their headlights on the same little bridge as I was breaking and hydroplaning to avoid a head-on collision). Back to the paddies- did you even know that Arkansas grew rice!?? I didn't. Side note: they also grow a lot of cotton, and I pulled over and picked a pod bursting with white, fuzzy cotton (on an emergency bathroom break). Vivi and Tonito saw it and said "a cotton ball!" On the way up to Chicago I had explained how people use this cotton to make tshirts, and the kids demanded that Tonio make them a tshirt right there to show them.
So we finally made it to Little Rock and randomly found the Children's Museum, which was open for one more hour! I first had to take the dogs out (oh, you forgot I also had two 50 pound dogs in the car?). This was a little difficult since 1) forgot the leashes at Kim's, 2) it was pouring and Boo is terrified of storms, and 3) we were parked on a in the busy museum district. I had the kids stand next to a dumpster under this mini-roof, and opened the back door of the van and begged the dogs to do their business in the tiny patch of grass littered with garbage I found (right next tot he kids, don't worry). I guess holding their bladders for 6 hours made them hurry. Dogs locked up, we ran down the street to the museum and played there from 4-5. Whew.
Tonio called by now, and told me he had good news and bad news. The bad news was the plane delay, but the good news was that he was sitting next to RICK BAYLESS!!! I gave him a list of comments and questions and raving reviews to relay to Rick, and told him to call me back when he knew more details about his flight. The kids and I found the nearest restaurant, which happened to be fish, and took some great pictures while trying to waste a couple of hours:

Maya's favorite activity, twirling mommy's hair.

We waited another 2 hours in the Little Rock Airport parking lot, watching more DVD's. My dad kept us updated on the flight patterns and the red massive storm on the radar directly over Little Rock. Somehow Tonio landed, we drove the 45 minutes to the hotel (that's why I didn't check in! The only hotel that had rooms and accepted dogs was way out of town)...
At least someone had fun:)---
Day 3, Tonio drove the whole way from Little Rock to Houston. Aaaah, just in time for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dance Party

Our last night at Grandma and Grandpa's we had a little dance party! Everyime we would turn on this African children's music CD, Maya would imediately stop what she was doing and dance. It was so funny we had to tape it! Watch for Tonito's hilarious wiggle dance, and check out Vivi's amazing latin rhythm...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cousins! One last time...

One last playdate with our cousins!!! We miss you guys so much!!! It's so fun to see the boys grow up and get their little personalities- Sam as Mr. Active, so musical, and such a kind soul. Nate as Mr. Cuddler (as you can see in the picture!), who seems to be a ball of hugs and love. Sam reminds me a lot of curious Vivi and Nate of cuddly Maya. Happy-go-lucky Tonito plays with both!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Early Trick-or-Treating

There was an early trick-or-treating opportunity, and of course we took it! We had brought Maya's Mermaid costume because she wears it all the time, then Tia Didi randomly gave Vivi a Jasmine costume for her (pre) birthday, so we just had to scramble for something for Tonito (thank you so much Sue!!!). Sensei Tonito looked great and LOVED his karate master duds, even with the 6 inch cuffs at his wrists and ankles:).

The kids didn't really remember Halloween from last year, but they caught on VERy quickly: go up to the guy with the big bowl of candy, say trick-or-treat and smile, get candy. It is so weird that this holiday involves kids dressing up (in sometimes terribly bloody or age-inappropriate costumes) and then asking strangers for candy. But anytime my girls can dress as princesses with REAL make-up, combined with eating candy that they are never allowed to eat- well, how can they pass that up!?

Mermaid Maya, who uses the word "mermaid" to mean any princess.

Kung-fu Tonito, who doesn't exactly know what martial arts are yet, but loves the idea of them!

Princess Vivi, who was so excited to get this *pink* version of Jasmine!

The kids had a lot of fun with Grandma and Grandpa!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!

It is time to go outside, shake off the cabin fever, and jump in some leaves!

BUD, To-to, Zhu-Zhu

SQUIRTY, Vivs, Sweet Pea

BOOSIE, Punkin, Munchkin

It was a golden lit, crunchy leaved, cross country racing, fleece-wearing, cool and damp, trail running, branch shaking, sweet smelling, jewel-toned, dogs barking, wet-jeaned, tarp swinging, leaf jumping, worm-finding, heavy raking, fire burning, chilly handed, screaming, laughing, sunny day.