Monday, August 29, 2011

Bustling Beijing

So many people thought we were crazy for taking the girls on such a long flight, (you should have known already that me and Brad ARE crazy). For some reason I wasn't really worried about the flights and they turned out just fine- the girls liked being held pretty much the whole time, sometimes they hung out in the bassinet and it was all rather uneventful. (in a good way)
Brad thought this flight to China would be different for him since it wasn't him and his guy friends flirting with Asian stewardesses and getting hooked up with goodies on the flight (I can only imagine, I did see Brad once mildly "flirt" with a nordstrom rack employee who proceeded to give me her employee discount on my shoes! Who negotiates deals in US department stores?!) We were pleasantly surprised to discover they liked June and Lyla even more than him and his friends. They were going gaga over the girls and kept offering to babysit for us. :)
P.S. Is it just me or does the American working woman always dress like a janitor? (nurses, flight attendants...) I think we had it right in the 60's and the rest of the world has it right now- how darling are the Chinese flight attendants? Professional & feminine, love that.
Anyways...The flight was pretty much like this:
video
And arriving in china was kind of like this:
video
After landing we took a short taxi ride to the Beijing Hotel, even though we were going budget on this trip I was so happy to discover it was really, really nice. We fed the girls then took to the streets.  It was a pretty cool first night in China. We weren't sure how the girls would be received since they aren't the foreigner's favorite blond & blue eyed Americans, but they were a huge hit. Crowds of people swarmed round the babies to take pictures, it didn't bother me, it was pretty fun to hold the little Asian rock stars. :)
We got noodles and dumplings off the street. I dropped my chopsticks and tried to eat noodles with a spoon and with a baby strapped to me. Yup, I was that ridiculous American tourist. Maybe some of the people snapping pictures of the girls were also trying to get pictures of how ridiculous I looked eating noodles with a teeny tiny spoon. I definitely had to work on my chops skills since the only time I ever saw forks was on the plane.
The girls were up by 3 ready for the day and we took off at 4:30 AM to visit the great wall. Yes, the great wall. It was cool seeing some of the country as we drove. For breakfast we got some fried bread off the street that you dip in warm sweet soy milk- it was yummy.
The gondola opened a little later than we'd thought so we decided to hike it so we could still beat the crowds. I wanted to die, I don't think I've exercised since I hiked Timp last year and also wanted to die. The steps just kept going and going...although I was only carrying one baby for my annual hike, she was bigger than a peanut this time. :) By the time we got to the top we were dripping with sweat, so much for a great family photo I thought... After sitting down and cooling off I was finally able to enjoy the view. (and dry off a bit) It was so beautiful and a bit foggy which made it look mystical and enchanting, just how I'd imagine it. It was truly amazing. I have no idea how they carried all those stones up there, I had a new appreciation for the work it must have took to build!
It is seriously a GREAT wall, it lived up to and exceeded my expectations, definitely a highlight of the trip! For the last half of a year I haven't thought too much beyond my little world of taking care of babies, it was so refreshing to remember there is a whole world out there, so much bigger than me and my little family, and it's full of other great people and great things. Even a great wall!  Inside my house I forgot how great walls can be. :)
I fed the girls and we took some adorable pictures of them. We took some family pictures, by then the girls were getting a little tired. We rode the gondola back down which was so much easier than walking. :) Brad and I headed to a huge, outdoor "dirt" market (we took an electric rick-shaw- big no no!) where people come with goods from all over china to sell to vendors, obviously tourists can buy there too! There were rows and rows of wood carvings, jewelry, jade, silver, everything really. It was overwhelming, but we bought a couple little things before the girls started freaking out too much.


After another feeding we headed to yet another gigantic shopping center. This one full of knock-off clothes, shoes, purses, make-up, etc. It was almost too overwhelming to shop, so we got some 30 min foot massages for 5 bucks while I fed the girls. It was fun, Brad spoke in Chinese with the ladies and they loved playing with our girls. We were completely exhausted by the time we got the girls back on the metro, to the hotel, and got everyone cleaned up and ready for bed. The whole trip the girls woke up for the day around 4-5 AM because they were going to sleep around 5-6 PM, somehow they quickly adjusted to Hawaii time and stuck with it.
Brad went out and got us some yummy breakfast including baozas (sp?), they were these little bread dumplings with a delicious, sweet pork filling. I could have ate them all day long. Instead, we headed over to the forbidden city and Tienanmen square, after all, we were in China and these historical landmarks were a short walk away from our hotel. There were TONS of people there, almost entirely Chinese people. It was very cool, but we ended up not going all the way through the forbidden city because we were already so tired and knew we had a full day of shopping ahead of us. Back to the market we went for jeans and pearls and more foot massages.  I'm so glad I had Brad speaking the language and not taking no for an answer- the negotiations were tough. I'm used to negotiating in NYC for a knock-off purse from $40 down to $30. In Beijing they were much more ambitious, trying to start around $200, and acting like you're crazy offering $20. At first I thought we'd never buy anything, but eventually we'd get things down to affordable prices. :)
Most of the trip's shopping was accomplished (or so we thought...) so we treated ourselves to another feeding/foot massage and a taxi ride home.

The Forbidden City
Tienanmen Square
We wandered down a little ally behind the hotel that Brad was fond of before calling it a night. It started to rain so we bought an umbrella, it was a magical Chinese evening wandering the streets under our little umbrella marvelling over the oddities of scorpions on a stick, eating far more normal street food, and enjoying the quaint scenery.
We visited a big candy store, a delicious bread store, and Brad was disappointed to learn Dairy Queen had closed right before we headed over to grab some ice cream. With that, we headed to bed and said good bye to Beijing, after one more yummy baoza breakfast of course.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

P.S. 6 months old

BTW the girls also just turned 6 months old! Just thought I'd throw that out there before I get deep into the heart of China posts. It's been a busy month, I hope June and Lyla aren't offended if I write them a combined note just this once?
Dear Lyla and June,
You are already 6 months old, it was half a year ago that you were born! That is crazy to me. You aren't the tiny babies you once were, and are quickly catching back up it the size department. You've both been pretty advanced in all the new skills you're learning. Before our trip to China this month miss June, you started dragging/army crawling all over the place, I'll have to post a video. On the trip you started getting high up on her hands and feet and almost doing the real-deal crawling. Lyla, you are always just a short step away, now rolling with ease all over the place and beginning to get the dragging of the body thing going. Even though you don't move quite as much as June, you still figure out some way to get what you want, even if it's aross the room- you roll and turn and get what you want eventually! All this mobility made sleeping arrangements on the trip pretty difficult! Only one place we stayed had little cribs for the two of you. Can you believe we took you to such a far away land when you were so tiny? You girls did great on the trip, the people there couldn't get enough of you. We weren't sure how you'd go over there since you aren't blond & blue eyed, but your extreme cuteness and doubleness made you mega-celebrities. Everyone had to touch you and take pictures of you. Don't be surprised if you're traveling through Asia one day and see a picture of you as a baby in some random person's house there. 
You both have turned into such movers, you aren't sitting up on your own yet and I can't really imagine you willing to because you don't like to be in the same place for a minute. (unless you're being held) It really was so fun traveling with you. It's also kind of nice to be home where you can move all over relativly clean carpet to your heart's content and I have no fear of over heating or dehydration. You both make the cutest faces and noises all the time. You like to babble and blow bubbles. I'm not much of a morning person, and don't like being woken up, but you are irresistably cute in the morning. You smile at me so sweetly and grab at my face (in a cute way). You've tried a lot of new foods now and pretty much love all of them. It is so funny when I feed you both because after you've had a bite and I go to give your sister one you both will kind of yell and get very impatient that you have to take turns. It's a good lesson to learn though. :) By necessity you both have to be good at taking turns and sharing. You are both really happy babies and you love to look at people. You are little mama's girls, but you love your daddy too and give him big smiles when he comes home from work.  People always comment how happy you are! In church today we almost had to take you out of sacrament because a little girl was making you laugh so hard- it was so loud the entire congregation was turning around to see what was going on. I'm the luckiest mommy in the world, I'm so glad you're mine.
love,
mama

here is a video that again, is probably more enjoyable if you put it on mute and save yourself from my annoying baby voice!



here is a little video (from last month) that isn't the most impressive demonstration of june's crawling skills, but I love it because when she goes all crazy with her legs it looks just like when bambi was learning to walk.
video

for some reason the unsuccessful videos are funny to me. Lyla is such a talker- she makes so many noises. Of course, when I try to video this, she just moves her mouth in silence as if the video is on mute. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

China?!

Ancient culture in a modern world. Shopping paradise. Seas of people. Breathtaking skylines. Majestic scenery. Delicious food. Incredible skyscrapers. Wonders of the world seen first hand. Crying babies. Poop. Breastfeeding. Lots of breastfeeding.
At first you might not see the beauty of a trip to china with infant twins, but a closer view reveals a beautiful harmony. A sort of harmony...
Sure it would have been about a thousand times easier to do before the girls and we probably could have done and seen even more, but it really doesn't make up for the incredible experience it turned out to be. Plus, Lyla and June would never be asking to see pictures of just Brad and I in China over and over again. I  know they're going to love seeing these pictures one day.  It's comparable to how getting married automatically made everything in life fuller and better, having kids makes everything more complete and in turn gave us an even better vacation. :)
We travelled with Brad's longtime friend Cam, wife Brittny, and baby McKenna. We had good times and also a few trying times. Their family would probably like to not see me or the babies for a couple years ;), but we were able to laugh through it all- pretending we were the parents on home alone or national lampoons, creating the memories and dealing with the chaos of the new concept of "family vacation".
One could see the whole thing as a cruel way to torture our babies- dragging them all over a hot, humid land to see things they could care less about. But on the other hand, our girls were kind of treated like infant royalty- carried everywhere, constantly being entertained and stimulated by new sights and sounds- views from taxi windows and hundreds of Asians cooing and snapping pictures of them. They were fed on demand at anytime (they could dehydrate so easily in the humidity and it didn't seem fair since their schedules were so thrown off). In a sense the vacation was a baby paradise of sorts, they really seemed to enjoy it and I think they're going to be pretty bored here at home with me from now on. Wondering where their hundreds of new fans have gone, and their other parent to hold them all day... Sorry girls, it's just me again, bummer for you.
On the trip there may have been a minor bump or two, a mother's hysterical breakdown along the way, but all in all the trip was a huge success. We did basically everything we set out to do on our ambitious itinerary, we had fun doing it, and we all live to tell the tale. Success!
The aftermath is another story. The girls are used to being held all the time, sleeping in bed with us, and think it's night-night time in the middle of the day. I wrote this post at 4 AM night before last, why not when I'm stuck with wide awake babies when I'd like to be sleeping? May as well make use of the time!
I think I'll do a post for each leg of the trip (if the babies allow it, they really call the shots around here). Our trip can easily be divided into 4 mini vacations combined in one- Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The posts will most likely be overly wordy and adorned with way too many pictures- be warned & enjoy if you're into that sort of thing. :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

yearly parties

China is also kind of a big party, we celebrated my birthday this week and are having our second anniversary. Yes, second. Two years ago I was a single girl getting ready to be married. I never would have guessed 2 years later I'd have TWO kids! Phew, I think we'll be slowing down our kid producing pace in the years to come. :) Life has changed SO much, but it is SO much better. I'm so glad to be married to Brad, he's given me 2 of my favorite years!
This year I turned 26, which I realized wasn't a big deal since it is so easily rounded down to 25. Very prime years. Next year will be another story though...27. Why does that sound so much older than 26? It's practically 30 and makes me glad I already have a couple kids under my belt. :) Seriously though, is there any better way to spend your birthday than having your sweet little babies share it with you? I think not.

I had lunch with the Lewis girls, Brad did some thoughtful things, and we ate a delicious dinner- just the two of us. What more could a girl ask for? (A trip to China? Check!) ;) I am pretty spoiled.

It was a perfect birthday. And the best part is...we can use the candles again when I turn 62!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

our little china dolls

It's not everyday you take twin babies to china, but for us, that day is Friday. Whoa.
It is Wednesday which means tomorrow is our last day to get ready and pack, commence hyperventilation. Although lists have been made, not one thing has been gathered or placed in a bag. There's a lot to do today, babies + other countries last minute packing. So excited, so nervous. This trip would have been easier w/o the babies, but the incredible opportunity arose and the adventures must go on! Luckily Brad is our guide who knows his way around and speaks the language, I can't wait to visit where he served his mission. Traveling to china won't get any easier anytime soon- wait till the girls are mobile? Till we have to pay airfare for four? Till we have >2 kids? Who knows if and when we'll ever make it back there.
I am a little paranoid with the girls anyways (I feel like people want to steal them when I visit the state health department in SLC), I think my paranoia will help keep them safe in China. Of course I worry, but we've made every preparation possible to ensure their health and safety. Once I finish packing and we're on that plane I must sit back, roll with the punches, laugh through the baby cries, and make my best effort to muster up energy for this trip. I want to enjoy it, turns out it costs a small fortune to visit china, so it will be enjoyed- the trip of a lifetime!

*If you are the praying type, I'd appreciate all the well wishes for June and Lyla's success on this trip. :) Gracias. (I don't even know how to say thanks in Chinese...brad has only taught me "that's too expensive") I will be the master shopper-negotiator!

All that being said- goodbye car seats, goodbye chocolate, goodbye breast pump, goodbye cribs, goodbye fridge, goodbye mom...

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