The toughest part about having my family spread out across the States are the holidays, especially when 3 out of 4 members of the family are celebrating together. Most often, my bachelor brother and my parents are together as their schedule is a bit more flexible than ours and because airfare for me, Scott and the 2 kids are just simply outrageous during the holidays.

If we’re going to spend $1,500 on travel, you bet we’re gonna stay for more than a just a long weekend. Of course, the school district frowns upon the kids missing school – I’ve already gotten my hand slapped a few times for that.

Last week, I was chatting with my brother and asked him what his plans for Easter were. Mom and Dad were at his house and they were just going to have a quiet dinner with just the three of them. Our plans were the same, Easter sort of tip toed in and snuck up on us, we didn’t have any plans at all, other than a hunk of ham sitting in the refrigerator.

We hung up and I just sat there on the couch, feeling a sharp ting of sadness, guilt and sorrow all rolled together. Talk about stacking some sad emotions! Well, I always say that when consumed with bad feelings, you’ve gotta do something drastic to change the situation.

So I let my fingers do the walking….errrr…tapping and checked prices for airfare on my phone. Surely, tickets would be outrageous given Spring Break, Easter and last minute buying. Normal prices are around $400 per person and I had reasoned with myself that I’d be willing to go up to $500 for each ticket, imagining the time the kids would get to spend with Gong Gong and Po Po would make such magical memories.

Tap-tap-tap and a few seconds later….score! Tickets were $250 each! Bingo! The trip was booked, I texted my bro and told him to keep hush about our visit. I wanted to surprise my parents.

My brother and I have never done such a thing before. My parents have always lived by qualities of practicality and frugality. They’ve tried to teach us well, my brother being a good example of their upbringing (um, except for that recent BMW purchase, which was neither practical nor frugal) and I think I just failed on all counts. Though I do start with good intentions, but almost always thwarted by shiny, new, pretty and….uh…hunger.

We did a great job keeping the secret. Even as the wheels touched down at the Wichita airport, my phone rang and it was my Mom telling me thanks for the ham we sent and that she missed us.

Were they surprised? Well, let’s just say that I was ready to catch my Mom if she fainted. We were crying,  laughing, hugging so loud (yes, we hug loud) that the neighbors came out to see what all the commotion was about – you know an abundance of high pitched squealing that could be mistaken for trouble in the neighborhood was certainly curious.

We filled the 6 days with LOTS of eating. Crawfish was sent in from Louisiana.

Twenty pounds of crawfish, corn, potatoes, sausage, cole slaw, salad, cheesecake, home made vanilla gelato, chocolate brownies, 8 bottles of wine. I think we can call this a feast.

Kansas BBQ at Hog Wild BBQ (amazing!) – the pulled pork sandwich smothered in their signature barbeque sauce, tender beefy brisket and ribs so smoky you swear the restaurant was piping in smoke through the vents.

Two thumbs up for Hog Wild.

Mom made my favorite home-cooked meals – Chinese porridge with Thousand Year Old Egg and Fried Sticky Rice Cake Noodles (nian gao) <- recipe! from my Dad’s hometown in China, LingBo. Normally, it’s served during Chinese New Year and it means “every year you rise higher and higher.”

On Easter, this cutie-patootie girl came to help me make Cheesy Poofy Puffs (Pate a Choux)

Can’t wait to eat!

The next day, she taught her Mom how to make them at home! Look at her puffs!

A peek into the garage and guess what arrived?!!!!

Other than eating, we played. The kids taught Gong Gong how to play Go-Go’s Crazy Bones, a game where you flick your plastic figurines and try to knock down someone else’s characters.

It’s a game that originated from ancient Greece and Rome – but instead of funky plastic, they were made from sheep’s knuckle bones, which personally I think would be more fun!

We played Bananagrams, a gift from Uncle Larry:

Nathan, who’s just starting to learn how to form words, spelled “FUNKA” and I asked him want that meant. He looked at me like I was nuts, jerkily swang his shoulders back and forth, snapped his fingers and said, “Funk-kay”

Okay, he got the points for that.

Uncle Larry (top left photo), a friend so close my kids call him Uncle, also gave them a book on Cat’s Cradle. I had totally forgotten how to play it, but Mom and Dad remembered and taught the boys.

Uncle Wayne spent quite a bit of time with the kids, so they returned the favor and made sure Uncle Wayne fit some weightlifting in the schedule.

In between play, we worked a little bit. Welllll….my lovely husband worked a bit (I photographed) and did some odd jobs around the house, like fix the door locks.

My brother isn’t the most handy person around – he’s a cardiologist who works with delicate tools.

His toolbox:

The screwdriver:

Chip (we call him Chip-Chip) is the newest member of the family. He’s a Pointer, highly curious and loves to run around in circles. He’s my brother’s best friend.

Not only does he love to play ball with the boys….

He loves to eat too, which makes him my favorite.

I think it’s safe to say that this was the best Easter ever, certainly one filled with magical moments.