It has taken me longer than I’d hoped to get back to share this final installment about our trip out east (feel free to go back and check out parts one and two if you missed them earlier!). The last big part of our trip was spent with Matt’s side of the family in upstate New York. We don’t get to see them very often, but we always enjoy the time we have together!
We stayed with Matt’s sister Denya and her husband Tim and their two daughters, Cassi and Elisabeth. Miranda and Madeleine CaiQun settled right in with them 🙂
We all very much enjoyed swimming in their pool that week!
The girls always love helping Denya cook…
…and Elisabeth was kind enough to help them and their cousin Averie make and decorate Frozen-themed cookies one afternoon!
They also enjoyed coloring with their cousins and Matt’s sister Stacey 🙂
Meanwhile, Atticus continued to cultivate his love of dogs.
And everyone got in some good snuggling time 🙂
We really enjoyed our times just hanging out at the house with family, but we also had some fun outings. One day we went to the zoo with Stacey and Averie, which everyone enjoyed!
We even got to see a little baby elephant!
And of course the girls are always excited about penguins, since they are Sharon’s favorite animal 🙂
Averie is about 6 months younger than CaiQun, so all 3 girls are at a great age to play together and enjoy each other. Miranda and Averie – being firstborns – had to spend some time working through each of their desire to be in charge at all times, but really they all did pretty well together 🙂
Another fun outing was our evening bowling. Elisabeth and her boyfriend Michael are part of a bowling league, and they made sure we were all set for a fun night out!
Then the next morning, Madeleine CaiQun’s birthday, Michael came over early, and they made a special pancake and waffle breakfast for us!
Our little mei mei was so excited to spend her birthday with family, and the day did not disappoint 🙂
Matt’s older brother brought over a bounce house, which the kiddos loved!
I did let Atticus crawl around in it a bit but only when things were very tame, so for much of the time he enjoyed some snuggles while the girls bounced 🙂
And of course mei mei got some fun gifts! One present we got for her this year was a photo book with pictures from when she was in China up until now. She loved looking through it.
She also loved getting gifts from her grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.
So much fun with cousin Averie 🙂
Our little puzzle-lover was gifted several puzzles this year for her birthday, and she loved getting to do some of them with family on our trip!
We were also able to visit the museum at Matt’s alma mater, Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute, which has an awesome children’s area. Our kids loved it, so they hung out there with me while Matt walked around the museum with a former student of his. I actually can’t say enough good things about our experience there. CaiQun left a Frozen ring, which she’d just received for her birthday, in the children’s area, and, when I called about it, the staff went back and found it and mailed it to us at home in Missouri – so sweet.
Atticus was particularly taken with Matt’s step-father, Papa Dan, and especially Papa Dan’s cane, which he spent much time trying to grab!
On our last night in town, there was a sweet cousin-and-uncle game of Uno 🙂 You know you’ve got a good group of high schoolers when they’re willing to spend their evening teaching 5-year-olds how to play a card game!
And as much as we enjoyed our time in NY, it was over quickly and time for all of us to head home. The kids really did pretty well with all of the driving, but the highlight of the trip home was definitely our stop in Ohio mid-way through our drive.
In the orphanage at which Madeleine CaiQun lived until we adopted her, the toddlers shared cribs, usually 2 (but sometimes 3) to a crib. Her cribmate and friend was adopted about a month before she was. Her mom was kind enough to send us some photos of CaiQun when they traveled to adopt Lily, and we were able to reunite the girls and meet as families 2 years ago on our way home from New York. On the way home from this trip we were able to stop and have dinner with them again!
It was such a joy to spend an evening with them and reflect on how these two girls, 2.5 years after being adopted, have settled into their families. As they are only 4 and 5 years old, there is obviously not a great depth in their interactions right now, but we are thankful that they have this connection and can maintain it as they get older as they choose – and for now, they can enjoy playing together!
After our visit with Lily and her family, we drove on to Cincinnati, where we spent the night with my brother David, who graciously put up our family of 5 in his 1-bedroom apartment! It was nice to get another couple hours with him, but then we were up early and on the road again the next morning. And after 16 days away, as wonderful as they were, it was very nice to be home 🙂