Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Week at Grandma & Grandpa Reynolds' House

Over the weekend, Preston and Shaling headed home with Grandma and Grandpa Reynolds to spend a week at their Lake Shafer (Monticello, Indiana) home. They will go boating, watch movies, and generally be spoiled rotten. Yesterday's activities included shopping for Legos, tubing, baking chocolate chip cookies, swimming, going down a water slide, and jumping off of a double-decker dock (that last one was Preston only).

Today, they wore their new shirts supporting "Aunt Joanna". Joanna is my cousin I've mentioned in previous blogs that is fighting mouth cancer (for the 4th time in 3 1/2 years). Yesterday, she began 7 weeks of radiation, along with 3 days of chemotherapy.

The day before leaving, Shaling literally begged me to take her to get her haircut. I think she became tired of having to maintain longer hair. I really think it turned out cute. Her she is with our neighbor's dog, Max:

While they've been gone, I've gone shopping for school supplies, organized said supplies, and created an answer key for a Pre-Algebra packet Preston needs to complete before the first day of school. Brock and I went out to eat last night and enjoyed the relaxation of not arguing with the kids over what and how much they had to eat. Later, I enjoyed an evening out with a friend of mine that I don't see often enough, even though she's local. It's shaping up to be a good week for all of us.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Canoe Trip 2012

We spent the past 4 days/3 nights at Ozark Outdoors campground near Leasburg, Missouri. Monday, which was Preston's 12th birthday, we spent canoeing on the Meramec River. We joined our friends Barry & Nikki, their 6 kids, Nikki's parents, some friends of Nikki's parents, Nikki's aunt & uncle, and some of Nikki's cousins. It is always a joyously fun group.

Tent camping is NOT my thing, but I do this because Nikki does such a fabulous job organizing this trip each year, because my kids get a chance to have a vacation with other kids (not just boring old Mom & Dad), because the food is always super, and because the personalities of the attendees are so great. As you'll be able to see by the pictures below, the scenery isn't so bad either!

Brock proudly stands in front of his masterpiece. He put up the tent with NO help from me.

The inside of our humble abode: our bed on the left; the kid's on the right.

Shaling enjoyed some baseball.

Shaling enjoyed some baseball.

Preston chose board games.

We toured Onondaga Cave.

The kids look at "the twins".

Black bear bones were found in the cave, but it is thought that a previous owner may have placed them there.

This was right before the tour guide turned off ALL lights, including his flashlight, so we could experience pitch dark.

Yes, those are bats in the right corner.

The kids stand by a water mark from a 2008 flood.

Shaling is a superstar.

To the left is a small opening above the water. This was the first discovered entrance to the cave. Two men in a boat laid flat and used their hands to push against the ceiling to enter the cave.

We begin our float down the Meramec River.

Preston is enjoying his birthday.

Shaling is in the front.

This egret led the way for us for awhile.

Preston Rope Swings from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo. On his 12th birthday, Preston bravely became the only kid (and one of only three people total) on the float trip to try the rope swing across the Meramec River. The first time took several minutes and a lot of encouragement, but after that he kept going back for more. This was his 3rd time. We discovered that Shaling has a fear of heights, as she climbed up, but after nearly 10 minutes, climbed back down without swinging.

Meramec River - Swim Stop from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo. During our float, we stopped several times to go swimming and cool off.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shaling & Francine

Back in China, Shaling had an older foster sister at the orphanage. Yu Bei seemed to be very maternal, taking care of Shaling and several of the other younger girls. It was apparent that Shaling cared a lot for Yu Bei, because she safeguarded a letter that Yu Bei gave her to bring to America with her. We were able to meet her on December 31st, 2010, when we were allowed to tour the orphanage and the "foster home" (really just an extension of the orphanage) where several of the school-aged kids lived.

We were able to convey to Shaling that Yu Bei would be coming to America too, but we didn't know when. In November 2011, Yu Bei became Francine and came to the state of Illinois, specifically the town of Mendota. She has three Chinese sisters, one older and two younger. The family came to Springfield yesterday and is staying through tomorrow in order to tour some of the Lincoln sites. Francine's mom, Cathy, let me know they'd be in town so we could arrange a reunion of sorts.

Yesterday afternoon, we met them at their hotel and let all of the kids swim for a couple of hours. Then, we took them to Dublin Pub for some local fare. The girls seemed so happy to see each other again that we then invited Francine to spend the night with us, which she did, and Brock took her back to the hotel on his way to work this morning. It was so great to hear them giggling and happy.

Here is a brief video of all of the kids swimming:

Shaling & Yu Bei Reunite from Amy Reynolds on Vimeo.