Monday, May 27, 2013

Charlie's 3rd Birthday!

I know its cliche but, where has the time gone?  It's hard believe that my baby is already 3! We had a wonderful weekend, starting with a family bike ride on Saturday morning and some final prep work for Sunday's big party.  Sunday just flew by!  Thank God for Ayi, with her cleaning up breakfast and making beds, I was able to focus on getting everything set up for Charlie's Thomas the Tank Engine themed party.  It seemed like I had trains everywhere, coloring pages, books, decorations, toys, balloons, and of course Thomas on the TV!  Charlie seemed to be in his element!  He was very much aware that it was his birthday, and his friends coming over to play.
We kept it short and sweet, just two hours.  I don't think I could handle 7 toddlers much longer than that... Charlie and his friends bounced back and forth between his room and the family room with a pit stop for train shaped ham and cheese sandwiches, fruit, and even some train shaped macaroni salad, with Thomas cupcakes and train shaped cookies for dessert.  He ripped into his presents before I could even get the camera, and I've gotta say, he got some really great gifts.  From mommy and daddy he got a balance bike and a couple of books, and big sister Lily, got him Belle, and really useful engine!  There were other gifts from family, and Charlie says thank you very much.  Being a mom is amazing, and by far the best thing I've done besides marrying my best friend.  Charlie is such an amazing little boy, funny, sweet, and so smart.  I could not ask for more, just watching my kids grow up and learn about the world is amazing, and I'm thankful that I get to be here with them everyday!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hong Kong

We finally made it to Hong Kong, well, Lucas has been several times, but for Mom, the kids and I, it was a new and exciting trip!  We got in around lunch time, and after a quick bite to eat at McDonalds, which we seem to eat at a lot more when traveling, we got settled in at our hotel and relaxed for a bit before our evening tour.  To start off our HK trip we took a guided tour that brought us to the famous Temple Street night market for some souvenir shopping, and drove us around on a open-top bus to see the hustle and bustle, not to mention the many shopping opportunities HK has to offer.  Then it was off to a harbor tour on the Bauhinia with a dinner buffet and dancing.  We were also supposed to see the Symphony of Lights show, which is in the Guinness World Records, from the boat, but the weather did not cooperate.  The kids really loved the harbor tour, especially the music and dancing.  It was not easy to pull Lily off the dance floor once she decided to get her groove thang on!

Day two in HK started with another guided tour which took us up Victoria Peak on the Peak Tram, which is over 100 years old!  It was pretty obvious as we climbed that we weren't going to get much of a view with all the clouds and fog.  Our mantra for the trip was, "at least it's not raining!"  After saying goodbye to the clouds we headed to the Aberdeen fishing village, which turned out to be a bit of a misnomer.  The "village" was a collection of fishing boats tied together, and while many do live on the boats, it was not exactly the village we had expected.  Still, it was a nice boat ride, and the kids loved it.  Next we headed to the Tse Sui Luen Jewelry factory, but with it being the weekend we mostly saw empty work stations.  Still, the tour did end in a huge shop, big surprise there!  Mom found a gorgeous ruby and diamond ring and with some persuasion on my part and a few back and forth texts with Dad she bought herself the ring to celebrate her upcoming 40th wedding anniversary.  I figure I saved Dad from having to go shopping!  I too came away with some bling, a Chinese zodiac charm, which is something I've been wanting to get.  Our final stop on the tour was the Stanley Market, which is a lot like the markets in Shanghai, we didn't expect to find much, after all, if I can get it in Shanghai for less money, why would I buy it in HK?  While we didn't buy souvenirs at the market I did find and fall in love with a painting of a HK street scene, we actually ended up getting two.  A large on that will eventually go over our fireplace in NJ, and a smaller one for our bedroom.  We paid just over $100 for both and had them both framed here in Shanghai for about $60.  Finally back at the hotel, the adults relaxed while the kids napped.  Mom and I took the kids to the pool for about 30 minutes after the nap, it was an outdoor pool, and although heated, it was NOT warm!  Lucas and I ended the day with dinner and Iron Man 3, thank you mom for watching the kids!

Day 3 we headed out to see an old and much loved friend, Mickey!  The kids were super excited to see Disney and I have to admit, so were we.  We took the metro, which goes straight to the park.  You get off at the end of the line and transfer to a Disney train which brings you to the park's very own train station.  We got lucky with the weather, it was overcast and not too hot, and since it was a Monday, the park wasn't too crowded either.  Since we only had the one day at the park we decided to pass on meeting characters and the shows and head straight for the rides.  It was fun to see many of our favorites and compare notes on the differences. In HK, they have Tarzan's tree house instead of the Swiss Family Robinson's, the Jungle Boat is the Jungle River Cruise and is offered in 3 languages.  Fantasyland had the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups, Dumbo, Cinderella's Carousel, Winnie the Pooh, and of course It's a Small World.  I loved It's a Small World in HK.  First, the boats were bigger and much more comfortable to sit in, and second, they had Disney characters placed throughout the ride.  It became a game to see how many we could find.  We all had such a good time, even the "mainlanders" couldn't ruin it with their line cutting and out right gawking and picture taking of the the kids.  Disney has and always will be a "magical" place for us.  I am so glad we went.

Our final day in HK we headed to the Po Lin Monastery which is home to the world's largest outdoor bronze Buddha.  Unfortunately, the fog and clouds made seeing the Buddha a bit like a game of peek-a-boo.  We only got a few glimpses of the giant Buddha and with poor weather we decided it wouldn't be worth climbing to the top to say "hi".  Instead we grabbed a bus and headed back down the mountain to catch our flight home.  Little did I know that our flight was going to be delayed endlessly due to weather.  Our original flight arrival in Shanghai was 9:00pm.  Our actual flight arrival was 2:00am.  And, just to make it more fun, we got to go through security twice when we changed to an "earlier" flight and sit on the plane at the gate for two and a half hours.  Thank you China Eastern, you suck!  The worst part is, the employees all speak English, I use that phrase very loosely, but always look at me like I have two heads whenever I ask a question.  So frustrating when you have two tired kids and three tires adults who just want to get home!  It was not exactly the way I wanted to end our trip, but, it didn't rain, and we did make it home in one piece.