Sophie's a Dancing Queen! // 4-Year Old Dance Recitals

3 to 4 year old dance recitals are kind of hilarious. They're precious but hilarious. Earlier this year Sophie had her Dance Adventures recital and we all went. Parents, grandparents & some siblings, too. She's blessed with a HUGE group of people that freaking adore her. How could we not? See below. ;) We packed in to a small room with about 40 other parents and friends of her class, to watch her small dance class of 8 perform their dances from the semester!
Sophie had dance class once a week for the fall semester and I'm pretty sure the recital was reminisce of her weekly dance classes. (Mostly, kids jumping around doing their own thing to music.) Haha. There were some kids chatting with each other (instead of following the dance teacher). Some doing their own dance, some dutifully trying to follow the dance teacher but getting frustrated when their friends were dancing in their area. Some were just staring at the ground wishing they weren't in front of a huge group of people or running back and forth to their parents, completely oblivious that they were supposed to be putting on a dance show. It was quite a show. But not necessarily because of the dancing. hehe.
(I love her pouty face^) Sophie was full of funny faces and eye rubs (poor girl! Something was going on with her eye that night!) but mostly, she tried to stay focused on dancing. She loves dancing! She'd also occasionally get fixated on one move and keep doing it as the teacher had moved on, which was my favorite. It must be a 4 year old thing as many of the kids did this! It was ridiculously adorable. 

Poor baby! Must have been allergies. The allergens in Texas were terrible this year!

She LOVES the little boy in her dance class. They're good friends and have tons of fun together.

Pure 4-year old bliss! Cheesing it up while dancing. LOVE her!
Aren't their little outfits cute?! The parents provided the leotards, tights and shoes while the dance company tied ribbons in their hair, gave them cute little arm bands & matching tu-tus.

We love you Sophie and are so proud of you and your awesome dance moves! We're beyond thankful to be apart of the little & big moments of your life and praise God for you!

Here's a little video for your viewing delight;

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Olvera Street, Downtown Los Angeles // Mexican Market

While in L.A. we stopped by the famous Phillipe's for their raved about french dipped sandwiches. They're sandwiches are named the "best french dipped sandwiches in L.A." I don't know if there's a huge amount of competition for that title, but I will say that they didn't disappoint. They were delicious. The shop is also in a perfect location for exploring the Mexican market in downtown L.A.. After we had our sandwiches we were able to walk across the street and wander our way down to Olvera Street. The street is in the oldest part of downtown L.A. and is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. While it's mostly a tourist attraction now, we did appreciate the history & architecture of the street, and the added artisan crafts & little quaint shops. 



 We also timed it perfectly, by luck, that we arrived just before many of the shops were closing soon. This meant that they were open long enough that we could peek in or wander through, but that it was late enough that there wasn't much of a crowd. This helped make the place feel even more beautiful & gave us time and space to appreciate our surroundings. We walked around to the main entrance so we could start from the beginning and had a peek at the plaza that the street was off of. I loved this little, quiet plaza. I especially loved the cobblestone streets and the huge tree in the middle that's probably as old, if not older than,  Olvera Street.
At the entrance of the street, there's a giant cross that almost welcomes you to the market.
 Many of the inside shops had adorable step down store fronts that added to the historical ambiance of the place.
Chara, of course, enjoyed walking through the market & stopping for pets from passerby.  
We stopped in to buy a churro from Mr. Churros. Because we're suckers. And I read somewhere online that they had "amazing churros." Also, when you're at a Mexican market there's something in your head, well maybe not yours or Zachary's, but something in my head, that says, "Hey, you should be super cultural & get the whole experience. Obviously, that means get a churro." So we went on a hunt to find this Mr. Churro's I had read about. After much searching, we finally found it & got our caramel filled churro. While it was good, it wasn't the best thing I've ever tasted and I guess, I didn't know what the big deal was. But that's not the point though, is it? The point is that I had a churro at the Mexican market and that I'm very cultured. ;)
And just in case you think that they don't even have churros in Mexico, (I questioned it myself after writing the above paragraph. I thought,  'Have I been hoodwinked to believing churros are Mexican? Like fortune cookies to China and pizza to America?" Well, upon a little searchy, search I discovered that they do in fact have churros in Mexico, though the paragraph that comes up first from Wikipedia would make you believe otherwise.
After our churros, we headed back outside to the plaza for some beautiful lights & a serene, perfect night. We walked around a bit enjoying the weather before we made our way a few streets over to China Town. China Town had less to offer as all the shops were closed & my pictures came out blurry, but we still walked through.  
We had a lovely evening at the market. I wouldn't say it's a "must see" in L.A. but if you're there for a leisurely trip, like we were, have an evening to kill,  or just want to walk off your Phillipe's sandwich, I would recommend it. 
Have you gone to Olvera Street? What'd you think of it? post signature


The Great Wall of China

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I wish I could say that we took the time & camera to take amazing, breathtaking photos of The Great Wall while we visited but we didn't. We just enjoyed our walk along the wall, relatively people free. We hiked, climbed into windows, scurried up and down stairs, and laughed. We just enjoyed our time. It was good.
We spent a weekend in Beijing exploring the Hutongs, Lotus Lake & took a day trip out to the Great Wall. I made sure to do my research & picked a section of the wall that was less popular with Chinese tourists, therefore way less crowded. We chose to go to the Mutianyu section of the wall which is still one of the most popular sections among foreign tourists but if planned right, you can go at a time of year & day where you'll still have a lovely, crowd free time. I don't think this will be true for long, though. When we pulled up to the parking lots, where you start your hike to catch the lift, they were in the process of building a big tourist trap outdoor mall with a Pizza Hut and Burger King included. Thankfully, it was still in the process of being built, so we could enjoy our time w/ only a small crowd. 
If you've seen the pictures of the more popular spots, filled with people, you'll understand why it's worth doing your research & finding a less popular section or waking up super early to go.
Below are the shots we did manage to capture. Enjoy! :)
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The Great Wall stretches an amazing 13,170.7 miles long, is more than 2,300 years old & crosses over 9 Chinese provinces and municipalities. In December 1987, just a year after my birth, it was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.
We packed some snacks for our hike & enjoyed climbing in to the huge "window sills" to sit & enjoy our snacks. I couldn't help but think back to all of those years ago when they were first built & about all the years that have passed & feet that have trod over it since. 

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Have you been to the Great Wall? What did you think? Let me know below!post signature
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