Friday, October 23, 2009


As some of you already know from my Facebook page, I took a trip with the boys to Xi'an this week. Well, US...and four other mommies and their kids as well. We planned for the trip to be very short, but memorable. And as we all expected, the kids had a blast and the mommies were glad to be home! hahaha

We pulled our kids out of school a little early on Monday, grabbed some McDonald's and boarded an overnight train to Xi'an. There were a total of five mommies and seven kids. We had booked two compartments right next to each other and spent the approaching evening having fun with each other on the train. Many of the kids already knew each other from playgroups or school, so it turned out to be a really great group of BOTH kids and mommies! The kids ran from one compartment to another, playing with toys or making up games. Many of the kids in the group had never been on a train at all, much less intended to sleep on one! So, the air was buzzing with excitement!! In fact, that was part of the trip for the kids...the train. Many in the group were boys, who played with Thomas or other trains on a continual basis. So, it really was exciting for them. :-)

All of us mommies got to spend some girl time with each other...talking and drinking tea. It was soooo nice! The kids always let us know if there was a we just talked and chatted until one of them came to us with it.

Getting jammies on was a HUGE deal!! All the kids were so excited to show each other their PJ's! And, of course, there was more running around and game playing in their PJ's. Each of the mommies had brought a sleeping blanket and night toy for the kids, so when it was time to go to sleep, all of the kids were not only pooped, but content with their favorite night accessories. They all went to sleep fairly fast (for kids) and then the mommies got to chat even more...unhindered...until late.

My BIGGEST obstacle in travelling in China is the very stiff beds. So, it came as no surprise that I, personally, got a terrible night's sleep. It turns out the other mommies didn't sleep all that great as well...but for other reasons, ie, noise, lights, train stops, temperature, etc. So, when morning dawned and it was time to get ready for THE day in Xi'an...the mommies were a little grumpy and definitely tired! All the kids got a great night of sleep, so they were well rested and rearing to go!

We had arranged for a mini bus to take us from the train station to the Xi'an Warrior Mausoleum. The trip took about an hour. The kids set themselves up in a row in the back of the bus, all looking out of the big windows. They seemed to even have a good time doing that! haha

We arrived at the Mausoleum and proceeded to look around. I have to say...I was extremely sore by this point...having gotten very little sleep from BOTH the hard beds AND being pregnant on top of it! I really moved slowly. Luckily, there were other moms to corral the kids wherever we went.

When we entered the main building, that housed most of the unearthed was awesome! The kids were definitely in AWE and stood at the railing for several minutes taking it all in! They were pointing at one warrior or another and talking excitedly about them. All the boys in the group liked the headless warriors the best. The girls in the group were fond of the clay horses. ;-) But, it really surprised me that many of the kids pointed out details about each warrior and noted their differences. THAT was really cool! Even I learned things from their observations.

We traversed the perimeter of the building, taking our time along the way. We found that some of the pits had nothing in them while others had thousands! The back of the building had many damaged warriors and horses sectioned off for repairs. By the time we exited the buildings, the kids were still talking excitedly about the lines and lines of warriors.

We visited a couple of other buildings in the park, before heading to lunch. Other buildings housed pits still to be excavated and one even had some unearthed horses and chariots that had been found. There were also sections that described the history of the museums as well.

On our way out, we bought little boxes of clay warrior replicas for the kids and then ate at Subway. All in all, it was a good time! We then headed back to the city of Xi'an to explore the Wall around the City.

This wall had been built along the city's original boundaries. It resembled the Great Wall of China. Once on top, you could rent bicycles or even a golf cart to ride/drive around the entire perimeter of the city, along the wall. We were told it took about 70 minutes to complete the entire circuit. Bye this time of day, we didn't have much time, so we headed up to the top of the Wall for a quick look-see and some play time for the kids. We explored one of the many prayer buildings and the kids did lots of running around before having to get back on the train!

Once we were done at the Wall, we headed back to the train station and boarded a better train than the night before. This one stopped less frequently and was a newer train. Although...the beds were JUST as hard! However, THIS time...ALL of us mommies were more tired from not getting much sleep the night before AND spending the whole day with our very energetic youngsters! So, again, the kids played until bed time. Some of us kids and mommies went to experience the dining car...which was a lot of fun for the kids for some reason...and then the kiddos retired for the evening, all snug with their favorite PJ's and sleeping toys. Us bigger ladies couldn't resist another night of chatting over we stayed up pretty late doing some girl bonding time. We all LOVED it! Bye the time we all finally went to bed...we were sooooo tired! ;-)

By the next morning, we were once again in Shanghai! Some of the mommies went for breakfast with the kids before sending the kids to school. The kids had gotten a full nights rest - again. So, they were bursting with energy by the time we arrived back in Shanghai! They went to school and the mommies returned to their homes to shower and nap!

It was an excellent trip! The kids fairly got along most of the time. The mommies had a wonderful time getting to know each other better. And we all walked away with great images and memories!

After a day or two of recovering, some of us moms got together once again for a day of Halloween shopping and lunch at Bubba's. It was fantastic...lots of fun! We all feel so much closer to one another after sharing sleeping arrangements in such close quarters. haha I even get spontaneous hugs from the other women's kids now. Apparently, sleeping together on a train makes you more like family. hahaha

Well, the other women are now excitedly talking about more [similar] trips they would like to attempt in the future. This is a very big deal. Before, many of these women had never even experienced a girls' movie night...and taking a girl trip was definitely a questionable topic of one's sanity. NOW, they can not only talk about taking MORE trips together...but they have also mentioned that they WANT more movie nights as well!! hahaha And to take it a step further, three of us moms are combining our kids' b-day parties for the months of December and January! Not to mention ALL the Holiday parties they now want to have and celebrate...from Chinese New Year...and everything in between!

So, the rewards of taking such a short trip together have been immeasurable! Friendships have been formed and set in place among us adults and the kids are even better friends than before. It is wonderful to see these other women BLOSSOM with each and every activity that is planned. And they DEFINITELY are not shy about trying to thank those of us who have planned them.

The kids might be back in their routine, but they are still talking about the soldiers they saw and the train slumber party they had together! Those that were given clay warrior souvenirs, have brought them to school for show and tell. Brandon relayed to me, his entire conversations with his friends about the soldiers he saw in Xi'an! He even recited their ooohs and ahhhs. So funny!

Funny...I had shown the boys boxes of clay warriors in the markets several times before, here in Shanghai. They were not even remotely interested! However...NOW, they take their warriors out all the time to play with them...lining them up on the floor and using their imaginations in fake battles.

Before the trip, a couple of the moms voiced their reluctance in taking their kids out of school during the week. I had suggested going in the middle of the week to avoid heavier crowds. And being pregnant, handling both boys on my own, in a foreign city...I definitely wanted to try and avoid the crowds! Anyway, I knew I was going with or without a large group of other women. I definitely didn't put any pressure on any of them to go. I had only offered up an invitation. I remember telling some of the moms that I, personally, don't believe a child's education can only be accomplished in a classroom. So, I told them I had no problem taking my boys out of school for this trip. I'm SO glad to have been right in my assumption(s)! The boys' memories may not remain clear forever, but they definitely walked away from this trip with more than a classroom education about one subject or another.

This year, we are all lining the pockets of our memories with enriching experiences and friendships that won't be soon forgotten. Believe it or not, it might actually be hard to leave once the time comes...

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