July 25, 2007

Chinapalooza 2007 - Our travel group reunion.

This weekend we had our travel group reunion here in Chicago. Ten familes were able to come and it was really a great weekend. It was so fun to see how much the girls have grown. It was also great to spend so much time with families we know well and to reconnect with those families we haven't seen since we were in China.

The weekend started with a BBQ at Chris and Ileana's home on Friday evening. Eleven little girls, and their brothers and sisters, played in the backyard and in Sophie's playroom while the grownups ate and chatted and supervised the mayhem. It was a great start to the weekend.

On Saturday morning we all headed to Chinatown for dim sum at the oldest restaurant in Chinatown. The girls were all remarkably well behaved and many of them weilded chopsticks like pros! On Saturday afternoon everyone came to our house. The kids rode tricycles, blowed bubbles, colored with chalk, played on the swing set and jumped in the inflatable carousel. We ate dinner and really just enjoyed being together. Toward the end of the evening, when we were down to just the local families, Jen, Regina and I decided it was our turn to jump in the carousel. (The safety instructions said you could have four jumpers up to 200 lbs. each so we were well within safety limits!) The girls quickly figured out we were in there and came in too. Now I get why kids like those things so much!

We finished off the weekend back at Chris and Ileana's house on Sunday morning with a very yummy brunch prepared by Fran and Bob.

There is something so unique about traveling to China with a group of virtual strangers and coming home knowing you've met people who will likely be lifetime friends. We are incredibly fortunate that we had a wonderful travel group, some of whom live in Chicago and have become close friends, and others who we keep in touch with via e-mail and our Yahoo group. I really believe that there is a unique bond between people in a shared travel group. Maybe it's because you know that your daughters knew one another before they knew you or because they celebrate your child's success with as much enthusiasm as you do. Or maybe it's simply because you shared one of the most initmate moments in your life with them.

Our travel group was actually split into two because our referrals came from two different provinces but I still feel a unique connection to the families whose daughters were in Jiangxi Province.

To all the families that weren't able to make it . . . we missed you! We're looking forward to seeing you at Chinapalooza 2008.

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