...Just a Reminder...This story builds FROM THE BOTTOM UP...so if you're joining late, be sure to catch up by reading from the beginning...Thanks.

In case you're interested, we invite you to read Kyle's Story and Dylan's Story

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ashley's First Year - October 11 - Happy Gotcha Day!

Hi All, C here,

So here I sit, at our big (as you already know) kitchen table, with the little ones safely tucked away, wondering just where the last year went.

One year ago today Ashley became a Lockhead.
What a DAY that was - and what a YEAR this has been.

Since our last posting (all the way back in July - sorry - life is in fast forward here....), Ashley continues to thrive as the firecracker of the family.  She has essentially taken over.  And now that she is able to speak English more clearly she has a much easier time ordering us around!

She has really begun to come into her own and has let us in on some of the secrets of her real personality.  Ashley truly loves her brothers and is very caring and considerate with them - showing a real sense of empathy when something isn't right with either of them. They adore her as well, looking out for her as only big brothers could.

We are so fortunate to have been blessed with such a beautiful and loving little girl.  We can't believe it's only been a year - sometimes it seems we can't recall what life was like B.A.

Here is a quick picture of her with Kyle & Dylan from this past weekend when we went to Cherry Creek Farm in Lancaster County to kick off the Fall (Hayrides, Pumpkins and all that stuff...)

Her hair is growing out and she looks quite a bit different that a year ago - scroll back in this blog to compare!

Her "condition" continues to be manageable but now that she's talking, she is much clearer about voicing her specific displeasure with Mom and I when we need to "help" her!!

She's doing really great at school, too.  She's moved into her 2nd classroom since starting last fall.  And she's made lots of friends there, too (Matt-Matt, Bella, Madeline, Sophia, Landon just to name a few).

Anyway, there have been lots of things to tell you all about since July, so please bear with us as we catch you up on:

Summer Daytrips, Dutch Wonderland, The Thundercat, Our Myrtle Beach Vacation, Our Most Unfortunate Nature Walk, the Zoos (Philly and Cape May), Birthday Parties...

You can also see more of our photos on our Facebook page.

I have to move along tonight but hope to be back soon with more stories pictures and updates.

But I didn't want this day to pass without visiting and saying how magical the last year (and the last 5 years - since Kyle is approaching his 5th year in our family!) has been.  We love ya baby!!

OK, just one more picture:

Look closely - that not eye shadow!  Ashley got a little bit of a black eye at the playground - a harmless accident - nothing to worry about.  But still, I told here that if anyone asks about her eye and how bad it looks, she should say "Oh yeah! You should see the OTHER little girl!"

On that note...Gotta run...Thanks for sharing our story.
Check back soon.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hi Again...More Catching Up...Florida Vacation

Hi there, C here again,

Happy Independence Day!

Before we get started, just a quick pic I took this week of Ashley enjoying a breakfast treat - DONUTS.
Chocolate frosted as you can plainly see!!

Firing up the computer after just coming off a trip tonight to Kiwi Yogurt. (It's a pull your own frozen yogurt place, pay be the ounce - or POUND, in Kyle's case!)  We had a nice visit and saw two other families with Chinese girls.  The last time we went there we also saw a family with a young Chinese daughter - she had just done a Dance Recital.  Anyway, we had a nice dinner at home and decided to go for a ride to kill off the rest of the day.

Ashley is doing really well and is attending the Goddard School Summer Camp, while our sons are attending the "Y" Camp at the "Y" near where I work.  She misses seeing them during the days but has fun dropping them off and picking them up in the afternoon.

Here is everyone on the first day of Camp.  They are proudly displaying the new backpacks and lunchboxes that Mom picked out for them.  Dylan got Transformers and Kyle got Lightning McQueen (KA-CHOW!)
The look on Ashley's face pretty much sums up her whole outlook on this new summer arrangement!

  This weekend has been busy already.  We went to see "Cars 2"on Saturday morning.  They boys really enjoyed it, while Ashley and I lasted about 40 minutes.  She was very displeased that we were forcing her to sit through the show, so we..
- Waited in the lobby...
-  Went back in & stood in the entry way...
-  Had to leave again for the lobby...
-  Got calmed down enough to try to re-take our seats...
-  Not so fast! - back to the lobby...
-  10 more minutes then try the entry way again - this time sitting on my lap near the door...
-  No more lobby for us - back out to the car!
-  Where we waited another 40 minutes for M,K&D (as expected Ashley fell asleep almost immediately after we got back to the car!

Nice relaxing time for me, too though - not an entirely bad thing!

After the movie, we returned home to THIS in our back yard!!!  A huge Bounce arena!

Our good friends and neighbors were having a graduation party for their son and they rented a bounce thing so the kids would have something to do.  Well, the whole gang bee-lined for this as soon as we got home from the movies (the fact that it was noon and the party did not start until 3PM was not important for our crew - Thanks to Dave & Sharon for letting the kids enjoy so much time bouncing!
The spent the better chunk of their party time bouncing - they ate some; drank more; and had an absolute blast.
(Just for the record, if you're keeping score at home,  they all slept 'til past 9AM!! - unheard of in our house.)

Back to catching up...

In the first week of May, we went on a week-long vacation in Florida.  This was really the first time we had been able to get away as a family since we returned from China (and had to put off our week of R&R in CA off to get Ashley back to Philly and right into CHOP - read all about it earlier in the story...).  Lisa did her usual excellent job of organizing our itinerary, flights and hotels - THANK YOU from all of us.

We spent the night before departure at the Airport Hotel and had a short shuttle ride to the terminal.  After dragging these same three little ones halfway around the world, the 2 hour flight to Tampa was a breeze. We got a nice car and were at our hotel within about two hours of touchdown.

One beef - Alamo car rental in Tampa made us carry all (3) kids car seats from the rental counter to our car - about a 150 yards - through what amounted to an obstacle course (around/through/over all of the other rental car customers who were lined up and waiting in their various lines - presumably so they could also drag THEIR car seats to THEIR cars).  But we made it - 3 kids, all our luggage, 3 car seats across a busy car rental pick-up parking lot.  We got to China and back - certainly we could do this!

We had a really nice week.  We shipped a set of "supplies" ahead in case we needed to "help" Ashley - but we never even had to do anything.  She ate well, got a ton of exercise, and got lots of good sleep - all important factors in keeping her on the low maintenance plan!  For this, we were all grateful.

We stayed in St. Pete Beach.  We went to the Tampa Zoo, WDW for a day, took a Pirate Ship Cruise in Clearwater Beach and all-in-all we had a really enjoyable week.  (Lisa was a bit disappointed with the accommodations, but the rest of us were good to go...she did put an awful lot of time into planning the trip, so I was sorry to see that the resort didn't meet her expectations.)

The Zoo ended up being a lot of fun, and we got to see the last day of a really cool DINOSAUR exhibit (on the very last day before it closed).

Here are some pictures...

Kyle bravely touching a ferocious sting-ray!

Cooling of in the sprinklers...

Mom feeding a parkeet in one of the exhibits. 

Every night that we could, we took an after-diner walk on the beach to watch the sunset. We took a lot

This is our new Facebook Profile Photo:

We also headed over to Disney World to visit the Magic Kingdom.  We had a great day - jam-packed with activities.  Lots of rides and shows and we capped the night off with a ride on the ferry across the lagoon just as the fireworks were starting - what a great view we had!
Kids slept all the way back to the hotel and Mom & I had some really nice quite time!

Just as we arrived...

 On Aladdin's Flying Carpets, thanks to Mom's photographic skills...

I'm pretty sure that there was nothing in the Disney Rental Stroller instruction book about how to arrange seating for THREE!!

We also went on a Pirate Cruise!  We drove up to Clearwater Beach one morning ( a very nice ride...) to catch a ride on a Pirate Ship.  The Boys loved it - Ashley not so much!  They had a lot of fun chasing that nefarious and notorious ne'er-do-well Pirate named PegLeg Pete.  She ended up crashing on my chest for about an hour during the second half of the trip.

Mom was very lucky to have had a moment to remove her stylish Pirate hat JUST before I snapped this!! (Ashly had just woken up and wasn't sure about Mom's new 'stache!)

Kyle showing his best "Pirattitude"

All in all we had a great week.  We ate at nice restaurants and the kids actually behaved really well, considering...

The rest of our days were spent pool hopping and at the beach.  The Kids had the chance to attend "Kids Klub" where they made some tie-dye shirts (which turned out really great - Ashley wore hers today as a matter of fact!), shark-tooth necklaces, and painted nightlights
Here's Mom helping to paint Ashley's night light...

We spent one morning at the pool, and Ashley was so tired, she fell asleep while riding around the pool ON MY BACK!!

Head down, eyes closed - she's outta here!!  I had Lisa scoop her out of the pool and she dropped her onto a pool lounge chair - she stayed down for another 25 minutes - not long enough.

Here's one of my favorite shots from the trip...this was as we were heading into dinner at Bob's Crab Shack

And this was inside Bob's...just after dinner - at the souvenir shop. 

We made lots of great memories and Kyle & Dylan still talk about some of the things we did.
I was very sorry (for them mostly) that we were unable to spend the week after China in southern California.  Mom had planned a very event-filled week there as well...
They said that they understood.  Mom & I said that we would get the chance to spend some time together to make up for it.  This was our try to do just that - hopefully they had a memorable time.
At least we have the pictures to jog their memories.

Getting late here in the East so I'm going to turn in.

Talk to you all soon.
Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Two Years to Dylan!!!

Hi again, C here - just a quick drive-by visit tonight...

Today marks TWO YEARS since Dylan joined our family!!!

Follow this link to learn more...

This picture is just a prelude to one of our next posts - about our Memorial Day trip to Michigan...much more to come.

Congratulations, Dylan!

Thanks - more soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Washington DC Trip

In February, we took a long weekend and visited Washington DC.  Mom was feeling a bit of cabin fever - we all were - so we decided to make the trip down 95 to visit the nation's capital.

Aunt Meg and her family were living there (they're actually moving from there to San Antonio, TX this weekend) while she did her fellowship.  So we decided to spend the weekend visiting the Smithsonian (Air & Space) on Saturday and seeing the Washington Zoo on Sunday.  We met up with Aunt Meg and her family on Sunday and had a lot of fun at the zoo - the kids really enjoyed spending the afternoon with their cousins.

We drove down on Friday night and the kids relaxed in the car with movies and video games.  But as soon as we got to the hotel, everyone got wound back up again!  We got a crib for the night but Ashley was having no parts of it... it was not pretty.  Lots of screaming (more Ashley than me!) and not a lot of sleeping.  Actually only about 2 -3 hours of sleep for each of us.  She did not want to settle down - in hindsight, she was probably more than a little spooked by the hotel, and she wasn't exactly sure what was going on.  Sleep in bed with Mom & Dad? Nope.  Try the crib again? Nah.  How about the couch in the other room?  Not what she had in mind.  Try the chair & ottoman? No, No  No.
You get the idea - many of you who are reading have been there. Be thankful that it was me and not you!

Anyway, the next morning we got up early to get a good start.  Things were going OK, and everyone seemed to want to get a good breakfast down in the buffet area.  But, unfortunately Ashley got sick at the table (now it all became clear as to why she had such a bad night!).  We got things back on track and caught a taxi for the short ride to the Air & Space Museum.  The rest of the day actually went pretty well.  The boys were really interested and engaged in all of the exhibits and things to see.

Here we are in front of one of the space capsules, touching the Moon Rock - right inside the front door  (I actually have VERY CLEAR memories of doing the exact same thing with my Dad when we visited there when we were kids back in 19??.) and checking out the U2 spy plane display.

The wide open floor plan was just what the boys needed to be able to run around a bit and stretch their legs.

The boys joined in a demonstration about paper airplanes.  They got a chance to make and fly their planes - and then participate in a contest to see whose plane flew best.  Dylan's flew a little better than Kyle's - I forget how we averted the impending meltdown - but Mom was able to keep a lid on things!

The blue line was more like a friendly suggestion than a hard and fast requirement!

We had lunch at the McDonald's inside the museum, and spent the afternoon seeing everything we could and visiting the gift shop.

Ashley was pretty sedate throughout - being so tired!

One of the cool planes we saw was a US Mail Plane.  I told the boys that their Pop-Pop used to be a Mailman a long time ago.  I think it was Kyle that asked if Pop-Pop flew a plane like that when he delivered his mail?... I went with it...and I told the boys that I think HE DID!  They were impressed.
They didn't push it so I didn't either!!

After we got done with the Museum, we had a really nice walk around the Mall.  The weather was nice (bright sun, cool but not too cold).  We had reservations for late afternoon at Legal Seafood, which was about a six block walk off the Mall.  This was a bit of a flier since everyone was tired from the museum and we weren't sure how the boys would be with hoofing it to dinner.  But they proved us wrong and walked strong & tall all the way!

Amazingly, we had one of those dinners that Lisa and I will remember for a long time.  The kids' behavior was excellent (all 3) - even after a long day of sightseeing!  They ate all their dinners, talked to us about their day and didn't get too rammy even as we had desert.  Ashley needed to sit on my lap after the meal, but that's not too unusual.  It was a really nice meal - excellent food and superb company! Thanks again everyone!

We ended up getting a good night's sleep on Saturday night.  We also had a reasonably good breakfast, and then we headed out to the Zoo.

Aunt Meg and her family (Uncle Curt, and cousins Malissa and Justin) met us at the Zoo.  Sunday did not disappoint either.  We enjoyed a really nice day, saw most of the animals, and recorded ZERO meltdowns!

The Kids at the Playground...

Justin & Ashley & Dylan:

Aunt Meg with Malissa and Kyle:

Justin, Malissa & the Boys

Ashley's much more interested in her snack than in smiling for the camera!

I'm not sure where they found the energy, but here are the boys on the way out to the car for the trip home!

Thanks to Aunt Meg, Uncle Curt, Malissa and Justin for the fun day!!
We'll miss you guys when you go to San Antonio!!
More stories and pictures soon...