Adventures of Team Lewis: Michael, Crystal, Aedan and Emma

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China Day 3 – The Great Wall and Olympic Village

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I know you had almost give up on my blog. Its been almost a year since Team Lewis went to China, and my last blog was about day two. Yep, no excuses, but we now have Europe at our finger tips and I’ve been re-motivated to finish what I started, and take it even further down the road. So without further ado, here is day three of the Wonders of China!!

I have to say, what better way to come back than with The Great Wall of China.  I know its been while, and details have escaped my mind, but hopefully the pictures tell a pretty good story.  Day three started the same, with breakfast in the hotel, Sarah’s favorite meal of the day!  The kids probably had their usual of cherrioes and fruit, while we enjoyed some eggs.  The driver and David picked us up and we headed out of the city. 

The most memorable part of this drive, Emma’s potty break!  She was potty trained before this trip, but any one who travels with toddlers knows that when they have to go, they have to go now!!  Of course we are driving down the highway, pretty much in the middle of no where when she started in.  The driver pulled over, but the guide said there was no restroom.  So we attempted to have her squat on the side of the road and pee.  This was a painful process, and ended with daddy carrying her down the hill and behind some tress.  We think she may have squeezed a tinkle out, but this would have been a great time for one of those travel infalatable potty chairs!

As you can see from our pictures, the section of The Great Wall that was near Beijing, was pretty much all stairs.  Yep, with a three year old and a five year old we were still excited to be climbing The Great Wall.  Of course David had done this tour enough, he didn’t need the exercise, so he waited below.  Aedan did so fanstastic!  He climbed pretty much the entire way up.  Emma did some on her own, but daddy had to carry her alot.  If you can notice in some of the pictures, the height of the stairs came up to her waist in some areas.  Talk about a leg work out!  It got pretty crowded, and in the narrow areas you had no choice but to stand and wait for those in front of you to rest.  And most of the time it was a welcomed rest anyways.  We all made it up a few towers before I knew the kids and I had to head back down with Sarah.  So Michael continued to climb with Pat and Helen up quite a bit more.  I carried Emma most of the way down, and we made it safe and sound.  The next morning getting outta bed, I sure felt the burn!

Once back to the bottom, we had fun trying to spot Michael and Pat coming down.  As you can see, they chose this day to wear their matching shirts.  The fact that they had the same shirt was an accident, but wearing them the say day, totally planned!  They found a shop along the way that engraved a little medal with the kids names and the date, as you can see them proudly displaying.  This was probably my favorite souvenir of the entire trip, because honestly this was the most memorable day.  The kids may not remember much else about going to China when they were so young, maybe the giant pandas, but they remember climbing The Great Wall of China!  Its kinda fun to hear them tell people this, completly out of the blue of course.  Adults always think they are making it up, but I am proud to nod in agreement.  I’m sure this will stick with them always.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blurr.  I know we stoped with all the large tour buses at a large cafeteria style resturante.  Then our next stop before getting back into the city was a temple where we were told some of the emporers were burried, tho we don’t get any where near the actual grounds.  There was a museum type area and a short tour, then we were headed back to the city. Any of the rest of you remember where this was?

Next David took us to the Beijing Olympic Stadium where the summer 2008 Olymics were held.  The “Birds Nest” was a pretty amazing view, even from a distance.  The grounds around this area were vast and I can’t imagine being int he middle of all those people during the actual olympics.  David explained all the things the Chinese Government had built for this major tourist event.  Entire aparment complexes for the atheletes, new hotles, the swimming pool.  Its amazing how it could all get done.

The wind was blowing like crazy, and they were selling these little kites everywhere.  Of course, you know how kids are Aedan was dying for a kite.  By this point, he and David were pretty good buddies and David helped him attempt to fly this kite.  It was sweet.  I wonder if David remembers foundly about the little boy who held his hand every where?  We could tell that he liked kids, but that he didn’t have too many on his tours.

The end of the third day was the famous Peking Duck dinner.  As I mentioned before, the food has all been amazing up to this point, but this meal is one of a kind.  They showed us how to take small peices of the duck and wrap it in won ton skin and drizzle with sauce.  It was fantastic!  I’m sure if Michael could figure out how to make that sauce, he would.  We were all so very tired by this point, and the kids might have had a rough time with manners at this meal.  But what I’ll always remember about this day is climbing The Great Wall and eating a delishious Peking Duck wrap.

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Team Lewis Heads to China: Korean Airlines and Inchon Airport get and A+

Let me just start off by saying, I was prepared for the “worst” at the begining of our trip. Getting my kids up at midnight and traveling for 10 plus hours sounded like a nightmare. I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I will say up front that having Grandma Helen and Grandpa Pat, and my best friend Sarah Hill with us of course made all the difference. But here are the two other reasons this trip got off to such a great start, Korean Airlines and Inchon Airport in Korea.

The United States airline companies could learn a lesson or two, or three or four, from Korean Airlines. WOW!! I wasn’t expecting much from them, I was totally wrong.  The customer services was like non I have ever had on any flight. It all begain at the check in counter in Guam and didn’t stop till we got home.  Everyone was very friendly and helpful, smiling all the while.  The seats on the flight had more leg room then I remember ever having.  And each seat had their own TV screen where you could select your own movies, games, and music.  As well as a special category for kids with their own selection of all of the above.  They had several of each to choose from.  And it was all FREE, to include the head phones!!  They even have a USB charger.  And to top it all off, on each flight the very sweet flight attendents gave all the kids a gift.  It wasn’t just a coloring book or something cheap, the kids got really nice things.  On the first flgiht they recieved one of those water cloring cardboard books that you paint with water.  It disapears and they can do it again. My kids used this the entire trip.  Another nice gift was a stuff airplane key chain they both put on their back packs.  The food, even though it was Korean, was really good.  They even gave us a full meal on the flight that was just over 2 hours.  On the 4 and half hour flight, they feed us a breakfeast which had egg, fruit, and yogurt as well as other stuff.  Their blankets were really nice as well.  Emma was able to stretch out on the long flight and sleep for a few hours, and the entertainment system kept Aedan busy every flight.  I have never had such good little travelers before!

Now for Inchon Airport in Korea.  If every aiport in the US was like this, traveling with kids would be a breeze!  The terminal is really new, and modern.  On the second level they have a new Transit Lounge which includes lounge chairs for sleeping,showers, free wi fi, free computers, free movie pods, kid zone and nursing room.  Up here you can also find the Korean traditional Crafworks Gallery, the message place, and several snack bars.  Our kids spent at least 3 of our 5 hour lay over in the kid zone.  Its small, but they had a blast there.  When we left to get dinner, they requested to go back. Their are several play areas throughout the this airport as well.

Sarah and I were able to dress up in the traditional Korean dresses on the way back home and get our picture taken for free.

They have at least one food court area, and a few resturantes as well as some duty free shopping if you have expensive taste, or just like to browse.  Everything is very clean and modern, and even relaxing up here in the lounge.  This is hands down the best air port I have even be in during my 11 years of military life.  Sorry USA, but the Koreans really have you beat in air travel!


Kid Travel Kits: Keeping busy during flights

May 18, 2011

So I have done my research about traveling with small children, and we’ve done it a time or two ourselves.  I already know that the best thing you can do for yourself is to keep those little hands busy.  I found some ready made kits at www.familytravelkits.com  which have a wide range of activity kits for both the car and the plane ranging in price from $16 for the “My Busy Kit” to almost $200 for the full kits to include everything you could imagine needing!  Having two little ones, buying two small kits seemed reasonable enough.  I placed my order, but was concerned that they might not make it here before we left for our vacation to China.  So I did my research and decided that I could just as easily make my own!  And that’s exactly what I did.  My Facebook friends were all curious about what I had found on island, so I wanted to share what I put together for my kiddos, where I found it, and what it cost me.
 I found some great printable activities online at http://www.nickjr.com.  These were free except for the paper and the ink used to print them.  I found some paper dolls from The Backyardigans which have background scenes and “dress up” items for the dolls.  I printed some origami directions, and paper airplane patterns.(paper airplane sounds like a good use of the 2.5 hour lay over) And I used card stock and printed out some simple Dora and Diego puzzles, cut them out, and put them each in a little zip lock bag.  The idea here is something cheap, so if it gets lost, no big deal!  I also printed 2 for each kid, one for the way there, and a one for the way back. (I did this with several items, so we aren’t empty handed going home)
One of the cutest things I found for this trip specifically was the Nihao Kailan Passport to China!  Very cute.  I just printed the pages and stapled them like a book.  Then you cut out a bunch of little pictures of things the kids might so, do, eat, ride, etc while in China.  (airplane, dragon, panda bear)  This will be an ongoing hotel activity for them to do each day.  I’ll pack a glue stick in my bag.  But on the plane, they can put their name on it, and add the airplane picture to one of the pages.  There are some extra pages so the kids can draw, or we can write a little story about what they saw.  This will be great for show and tell when they get back!  I also printed  a memory game from their show Nihao Kilian on card stock.
Here are the things I found at K-mart.  Yes the little dude is from the machine by the front door.  .50 cents each.  Some times its the simplest things that willkeep my kids entertained.  I was excited to find the Crayola set with dry erase crayons!  It has some pictures inside they can color and then wipe away, including a tic tac toe sheet.  (includes towel to wipe away) These were around $10 each. I also picked them each up a simple tablet to draw, color, scribble, what ever. Around $3 each. I found these foam stickers in shapes like different little creatures, frog, butterfly, ladybug, etc. I bagged up some into little zip locks for each to have their own.  $8 for the box.
Here are some of the things I found at Rainbows End which are perfect for our travel kits!  (this is the teacher/home school store by the tri-intersection behind the airport)  The locktagons were about $16 for the package of 100, which I divided into 4 little bags and still have some left over.  The beads n’ baubles are little foam shapes with holes to string them.  This bag was also about $16 and I divided them up the same.  But there are only 4 strings in this bag.  They have alot of different things there, lots of coloring books and work books, and other craft items.  Its a good place to stop and take a look.
A few other things I found around at the BX, a package of bendaroos, disposable camera, and old fashioned pipe cleaners.  We also have some Highlights High 5, and National Geographic Kids magainzes which I put one of each in each of their back packs.  High 5 is for the pre-school age group and has cute short stories and activities, this is a great addition!
Each of my kids had a little lunch box type thing which I packed a few of their own snacks, crackers with cheese, koolaid drink mix, and of course fruit snacks!  Eating is always a great way to keep kids busy, but just don’t expect them to eat their dinner.
So the end result, I probably spent around $70, but I made 2 kits, with extra’s for the return, and still home items left over.  In the long run, the www.familytravelkits.com would have been well worth the money!  But I think it was fun to make these for the kids, and I did find some great things to include.  I hope this will make our trip a little more enjoyable as we fly and drive from place to place by keeping the kids from getting board and driving us crazy!  The final kit doesn’t take up too much space which is really nice!  Emma only has a small little back pack, and I was able to fit everything in it.  So have you found some creative ways to keep the kids busy when traveling?  What worked best for you?  And what was a total flop?  I’d love to hear your suggetions!!  And check back next week, as we leave for China in the morning….

Team Lewis Takes on Mt Lam Lam

April 23, 2011

Ok if your new to Guam, or never been, you may not know what a boonie stomp is.  Really its just a hike in the jungle!  There are dozen of boonie stomps around the island, which range from super easy, to difficult and challenging. They range from a few hours long, so up to 7 hours long!  Having two small children, we really have not had the chance to do much bonnie stompin in our 3 plus years.  (only 1 before this the month we got on island, 4 months pregnant I tackled Pagat Caves)  So now that the kids are older, and we have less and less time here, I really really really want to mark some of these great adventures off my to do list!

A few months back I was given the best boonie stomp advice ever!!  One of the soccer moms told me the best time to climb Mt. Lam Lam, especially with the kids, was right after Easter.  She said the path was beaten down and easier for the kids.  So was so amazingly correct!!  Thank you Heather Rodrigues for our first sucessful Team Lewis Boonie Stomp!

First things first.  What should you bring along with you?  We had been given great advice here too.  If you are not going at Easter, you want to wear some tall socks, and maybe even some gloves.  When the razor grass is on the trail, you will be sure to get some cuts if your not covered.  Bring both sun screen and bug spray!  Most of the trail is in the sun, but there are a few “jungle” type shade areas and the misquitos are pretty bad in those areas.  You want to wear some good tennis shoes, especially if it rains at all.  The trail can get slick.  But if it rains alot, you may have to trek through the mud., be ready to clean up when you get back to the bottom.  Bring water drink on the way up and maybe a little snack for the top.  And of course your camera!!  But be sure to take a water resistant bag for your camera, just in case you get a shower from mother nature!

As you can see here above, we were totally (over) prepared for the razor grass!! I bought some crazy tall socks for the kids at “The Dungeon” party store and Mt Lam Lam Signjust cut them in half.  I put one half to cover their legs, and the other to cover their arms.  The good thing about this, its easy to take off if they get hot and there happens to be no razor grass.  And of course, we look totally cool!!  Alot of “boonie stompers” will recommend that you wear some gloves on your hands as well.  Its natural instinct to grab for the surrounding vegitation when your falling, but I’ve heard some stories about getting pretty cut up doing that.

Now getting there.  Its really easy to find the start of the trail, just drive south on Rt 1 Marine Corp drive, and go left before you hit the Big Navy front gate.  Follow that road all the way past Agat.  You will stay on this road until you see on the right hand side a small parking area and a paviolion for a look out area. Its pretty obvious, and you may see Japanese tourist buses there too. Park here, and of course be sure to hide all valuables and lock your doors.  (common sense I know) Then on the left side of the street you’ll see a small green sign at the bottom of the trail that says “Mt. Lam Lam.”

The trail was pretty clear for us, as you can see in the pictures, it was well beaten down and wider than what we expected.  Again going shortly after Easter was the BEST IDEA EVER!!!  Nothing was too terribly steep for the kids to climb up. Our plan was to take it slow and steady with the kids.  We wanted them to enjoy it, and have a little freedom, but keep them safe.  There are some drop off areas next to the trail, and a bit of light climbing going up. But our 4 year old, Aedan was able to do the entire trail, only holding my hand at times.

Our 2 year old got carried a little here and there, but enjoyed her bit of climbing.  They both had a great time,.  Aedan caught me by surprize when he asked if we were going to see the crosses that Jesus died on.  Mommy was not really ready for those questions!  I explained that Jesus didn’t die on these crosses, but that these crosses were put there so that we could all remember the sacrafice that He made for us.  Aedan amazes me with how advanced he thinks some times!  I may need to get my Master’s degree just to get him through grade school?  Aedan also told me that maybe next time we should climb a shorter moutain.

There are small white crosses with roman numerials on them as you go up, so you can feel confident that your on the right track.  I tried to explain to the kids that they weren’t V, X, and I but I’m not too certian that either of them got the idea of that.

Once you get toward the top you can see water in both directions, the way you came from and the other side of the island.  Its quite an amazing view.  My photos just dont do it justice!

Then at the last little bit of the trail, you can see the crosses in front of you.  The kids got pretty excited and we had to keep asking them to slow down and watch their steps!  It is so beautiful up there, and the crosses just make you feel like you have really gotten some where.  You have done it!!

Once we got to the top, the kids of course sat for a little snack while mommy ventured around and played with the camera try to figure out how to take landscape pictures. (still need practice)

We didn’t stay long because I noticed the rain was headed our way!  So we packed it up and headed back down after about 20 minuets.  We got a few sprinkles on the way down, but oh boy that little bit of moisture made it a bit slick.

Unfortunetly, I had on my oldest pair for shoes and kept loosing my footing.  But daddy had on his brand new trails shoes and didn’t slip once.  He ended up with both kids on the way down.  But again, Aedan walked the whole way.

I highly recommend this boonie stomp for families, or those who aren’t in for a hard long hike.  We didn’t time ourselves, but from the time we parked to the time we drove off, it was around 2 and a half hours, including the sun screen and bug spray process!

We are hoping to discover a few more kid friendly hikes to do before we leave.  If you have any suggestions or pointers, please let us know!!  And look back here for our next adventure….expect a blog on just the travel kits I made for the kiddos, as well as day by day journey as Team Lewis goes to China!!


Team Lewis Goes Treasure Hunting: Geocaching in Guam

March 5, 2011 (This is a repost from the old blog site)

My sister Lisa in Indiana was telling me about geocaching a few weeks ago.  I finally sat down to look at the website to see what it was all about.  Basically its a high tech treasure hunt, where people hid little containers in significant locations.  And of course they have an app for that!  So I paid the $10 for the iPhone app and I found that there are two with in a few miles of our house, so of course I wanted to check it out with Team Lewis!  I explained to the kids that we are going on a Treasure hunt, its the only thing I could think of explain it to them.

World War II aircraft at geocashing siteWe all piled in the car, including Jax the four legged mascot, and headed about .6 miles from the house.  We figured out pretty quickly that the location was the aircraft deisplayed at Arc Light park (Andersen AFB).  But once we got there, we looked for propably 10 minuets with not luck.  The hint still doesn’t make sense to me.  The kids were really disapointed that they couldn’t find the treasure, and I was a bit frustrated at our failed attempt.  Aedan was sure to tell us “your not very good pirates if you can’t find the treasure!”  So we headed to the next cach about half a mile away.  I was hoping we could redeme ourselves, after all who wants their kids to think they aren’t good pirates?

This time we were led to the old B-52 wreckage.  Again, the kids were soo excited to find the treasure and weren’t really giving us time to think about the hint.  Go to “Mars and turn 90 degrees to the left.”  We were thinking that the plane was the sun?  I ended up in the car with the kids, masiquitos were getting them.  We weren’t too prepared for that. We ended up leaving, kinda frustrated.  Aedan was sure to tell us we weren’t very good pirates cause we couldn’t find the treasure. Discussing the hint on the way home, a light bulb finally came on.  Mars is the 3rd planet, and we circled around and headed back.

This time it only took a few minuets to find the cach.  Hopefully we aren’t spoiling this for any others on Guam, but Mars was the circles on the wing of Michael and Aedan with the cachcourse!  How obvious it was once we figured it out.  Michael found it first, then once we were sure where it was, we got the kids back out and helped Aedan find it.  Aedan was pretty excited, we took a few pictures.  He took out a little army man with a parachute and we left an Australian dollar.  Next time we will remember to take 2 things, one for each kid to leave, so they can each take something from the cach.  There’s a little note book in there and of course we signed it as Team Lewis!

So ended up being pretty fun mini adventure and we plan to go back to arc light to look for that one again at some point.  There are over 600 caches around Guam, several of them say they are easy to find and close to the main roads, so hopefully we can take the kids to treasure hunt a few more times.  Michael and I would like to look for more of them as we start getting in some “boonie stomps”  (jungle hikes)  before leaving the island in December of 2011.

Emma reaching for cachI guess we are pretty good pirates after all.  Another adventure for Team Lewis, more lessons learned!


Team Lewis Starting Line Up

Hello world and welcome to our family page!  If your here, you probably already know us.  But just in case you don’t, so here is some of the history of Team Lewis, and a little bit about each of our player.

Mr. and Mrs. LewisThe start of a new team – Team Lewis all began back in 2005 when I meet fellow team mate, Michael Lewis and I began negotiations to form a new team togeather.  Negotations didn’t last long,as we both seemed to have the same goals for the team. We both wanted a bigger team, and were ready to commit to each other for the long run. The team contract was offically signed on November 6, 2005 at a beautiful ceremony on the beach in Carmel, California.  The Team quickly set up shop in Vacaville, California outside Travis AFB Califonia where we both were working our full time Air Force jobs in Air Transportation.  By 2007, Team Lewis moved their headquarters to Andersen AFB, Guam.

Michael continues to bring home the bacon and is currently the Capability Forcaster for the 734th Air Mobility Squadron at Andersen AFB, Guam.  He has worked hard here, and has actually seen the benefits of his hard work thanks to some great leaders in the squadron over the last year or so.  Michael recieved his Associate Degree in May of 2010, and has been working diligently toward his Bachelors.  He’s expecting to be finished in the next year and a half.  Michael was also the assitant coach for the Lil Bomber Soccer Club.  He currenlty has just over 10 years of active duty service, so about 10 more till retirement!  We are waiting for word on our next assignment, hopefully some where overseas.

It wasn’t long before I realized that both of us being active duty Air Force was going to take sacrafices for the team, that we just weren’t willing to make.  The decision for me to get out of the Air Force was easier to make when it really came down to it.  It was important to us, as we brought new players on this team, that one of us was able to be there with them as they were learning the ropes of Team Lewis.  My 6 years of active duty were over on June 27th, 2006.  during the next few years, I stayed home with the new team members while I worked on my degree.  I graudated in May 2010 with a Bachelors in Human Resource Management.  I’m currently employed as a Senior Administrative Assistant at HNTB Corporation.

After very short team discusssion back in 2005, the first team addition happened without delay.  Aedan Allen Lewis was added to the team on June 17, 2006 as he was Handsome Aedanborn at born at David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB California.  This little guy has grown so much over the past few years and has become an invaluable part of the team.  Aedan is the sweetest little man,  with the best smile in the whole world!  He is very smart for his age, he knows what he wants without a doubt and pays attention to everything. He is already asking questions about life and the things around him, I never realzied a 4 year old would think about.  He is a bit sensative and shy when the spot light is on him.   His teachers have convienced him that he is “shy” but I’m not sure that’s 100% true.  Though he some times needs to be reminded that we wouldn’t last as a team if we don’t all work togeather and do our part, he has turned out to be a great example for the younger team member, and even teaches the vetran players a thing or two on occasion.  He is currently in Pre-School at Andersen AFB, Guam and goes to the Child Development Center in the afternoons.  Aedan is also a member of the Lil Bombers Soccer Club.  He enjoys being with his team, and especially having daddy on the field with him.  We wouldn’t trade him for any other players in the world.

Emma smiles and frecklesThe forth player joined the team on May 25th, 2008 when she was born at Naval Hospital, Guam.  Emma May Lewis is a very nurturing little girl who has a laugh that you can’t help but smile when you hear.  She loves to help out the other little kids in her class, and I can already tell she likes to be in charge of things a bit.  Give her the opportunity to hand out the snacks and see how she lights up when the kids gather around her.    Emma really looks up to her big brother, the two of them play togeather pretty well for their age.  From an early age, you could see the concern on her face if Aedan was crying.  She has even been known to willingly give her toy to Aedan so he would stop crying.  She can talk your ear off as well, with a vocabulary beyond her age! Emma can hold her own pretty well, I’m not too worried about her getting pushed around.  But even if she is tough, she has a sensative side.  She knows when your mad, and I think she may have already mastered the art of crying, with that quivering lip of her’s she seems to get out of trouble a little bit.  She will begin her first ballet classes in a few weeks, look for updates on that!  Again, she has been a great addition to Team Lewis and we are so very thankful for her!

Now that last team member, we’ll lets just say he hasn’t always had the smoothest transistion to the team.  And I could gurantee that he wont be traded outJax the mascot in the future if he doesn’t get his act together.  The final addition to the Team is Jax, a shitzu and our four legged mascot. We added this little guy after seeing him at Little Wangs Pet Shop last summer. Thankfully he is potty trained now, but he still likes to get into alot of mischeif, climbing on the table, chewing up toys, nipping when he’s playing, bolting out the door if he has the chance, you know the usual.  But we keep hoping he will get with the program so he can stick around.  I posted his cutest picture so maybe you can see why we have tolerated his bad puppy behavior for the last 9 months!  He just turned a year old, and we have learned a few training techniques so we are hoping that he starts to settle into a little more.

So that is the basics you need to know about Team Lewis.  As we only have about 7 months left on this tropical island of Guam, we have a long list of adventures we hope to squeeze in before we go.  From “boonie stomping” to geocaching to family vacations, come back for more pictures and stories!

Team Lewis group shot