rita & michael

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west coast tour continues

we left idaho and headed to san francisco for friends, good eats, half moon bay, and excessive trolley rides.

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our three-week escape from texas, the hottest place on earth, culminated at the happiest place on earth, disneyland.

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10 kids, 1 roof

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there is a special bond among old friends. the girls who pledged together, stayed up late-night swapping stories about crushes when you ought to have been studying for physics exams together, the ones who taught you how to bake proper cookies (and eat raw dough), the girls who knew you before marriage and kids, and the ones you call with news about first pregnancies and questions about toddler discipline. in august, two moms from dallas trekked with five kids under five to idaho to escape the heat and visit a dear friend. we were met with breathtaking sunsets, watermelon, gifts, and the kind of charming conversation that is unmistakably an old friend. we hiked coeur d’alene, ate dessert every night, and still stayed up late swapping stories.
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here comes the bride… along the beach

my dear friend, monica, married the man of her dreams, tony, in puerto rico. she was lovely and he was dashing, and the amount of happiness could’ve been measured by the grains of sand. we brought along cousin helen to entertain the boys for an evening during the magical wedding ceremony. win, win. it’s quickly becoming an annual tradition to vacation with “aunt mailee.”
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weeks before our departure, london insisted upon a suitcase of his very own. in this family, we consider luggage with the seriousness other families reserve for more honorable matters.
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i’m quite certain big brother/little brother swim trunks is how god levels the playing field for boy moms. take that, ruffles and bloomers.
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a matador and his bull

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reason #587 why siblings are great: duo costumes at halloween. when my search for baby bull costumes failed, i resorted to a handmade DIY costume. ah, the things we do for love. as an annual tradition, we headed to lakewood, pretended to belong, and took to the streets in costumes, wagons, and (with) roadies in tow as a matter of course.
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like a giant manhattan lit up like vegas

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traveling with babies/toddlers is certainly not a leisure sport. it’s heavy, risky, unpredictable, and unforgettable. international travel, plus a 14-hour time difference with tots is all of these things to the nth power, but for every one tick mark in the challenging category, we tallied 10 in the joyful category. with a nursing baby and almost 2 y/o in tow, we trekked to beijing, a first for all of us. aunt helen came along, and we joined up with the crapuchettes clan in hong kong. hk1
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highlights:
every night london raced through the hotel lobby and yelled, “i can’t wait, i can’t wait!”
the delight in the children’s eyes at ocean park, particularly london’s affections for the older kids.
chocolate afternoon tea with helen.
discovering bubble tea in its motherland.
shameless haggling at stanley market.
selecting fabrics for mister’s custom clothes.
apparently easterners have little regard for personal space. london, sensing his mom’s germophobic nature, warned over-eager strangers reaching into roman’s stroller, “no, no, no, don’t touch my baby!”
nightly lights show.
the best peking duck and dim sum of our lives.
late-night glass of wine with elise in the hotel bar (highest bar in the world) overlooking the hong kong skyline.
on our last night, we returned to our hotel room to find an in-room party orchestrated by the hotel hostess – nearly one hundred balloons, banners, chocolate cake, and crowns for the boys.
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lowlights:
two strollers, two tots hiking up the great wall of china.
starbucks’ late morning opening.

we’ve traveled aplenty, and by the final day, no matter how wonderful the time, we’ve always been ready to sleep in our own beds. this place was different. no one wanted to say farewell.
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after two weeks, upon returning home, night had become day and day had become night. it required three full weeks (read: almost a month?!) for the boys to rebound from the 14-hour time change. we often awakened at 2am or 3am to start the day. lots of coffee. strong. we made memories together as a family. even though roman was too young to remember it, i’ll always have these photographs to share with him when he’s a bit older. and he’ll know that spirit of adventure was bred in him since infancy.


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all aboard the party train!

for the first (of endless) shared birthday parties, a life-sized train huffed and puffed up and down our street. leading up to the big day, we walked painstakingly door to door to obtain signatures in order to legally shut down our street for the occasion. the engineer didn’t mind traffic rules and spun figure-8s and puffed smoke and let the birthday boys take the lead. seeing london’s face the morning of the big day made it all worth it. it was a big, fat, happy, swinging-from-the-chandelier kind of birthday.
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homemade birthday cakes rounded out the occasion.
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chocolate on chocolate, for the purists.
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and german chocolate cake.
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chug a chug a choo choo. happy birthday to you and you.