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These ladies and their families were some of our very first friends when we moved to Quito. We met through Gymboree and haven't let the friendships wane since long after our Gymboree days have ended. We've watched our first babies grow from crawlers to Kindergarteners, we've added siblings to some of our families. We've made different choices in schooling and work since those early stay-at-home mom days that have led to it being much more difficult to get together but that hasn't stopped us from...

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Just after Thanksgiving we decided to put up our tree since we had a free morning. We made our way to our traditional Christmas tree lot and brought home this small beauty. As is often the case, it was sunny and 80 degrees when we brought our tree home and it took us ten minutes to get the price from $80 to $35. But what would it be without all the regular traditions, right? This year we got smart and asked for more of the base cut off at the lot. And we carried it in on a blanket, eliminating a...

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We had such a treat for Thanksgiving this year: FAMILY!! It was our first time celebrating this holiday with family since we moved to Quito. Kora, Mark and the girls opted to fly through Quito for a quick, three day trip on their way back from a conference in Cancun and we were delighted to have them. They are about the easiest guests to have and we would have kept them another week if they'd had the time! Lu played so well with Canaan and Eden and the three roamed the house with imaginations bu...

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In the wee morning hours of Halloween day we loaded the kids into our already packed car (SO nice to be all packed up the night before), met up with the Passmores and Christy and headed for the beach! The traffic was light, the air was festive, and the books on tape were abundant. Though waking up at 5am is never my strong suit I loved being at the beach before lunch. It was so worth it and I bet we will do it that way often now. We stayed at the Shedd's condo at Playa Almendro and loved the var...

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We did our traditional squash carving a few weeks before Halloween. The kids each had a mini squash to decorate and per usual Nate handled the big one. I did my usual job ... separating the seeds from the guts and making pepitas to snack on! This year our Halloween looked a little different. No party at our house and we didn't do the Campo Alegre trick-or-treating. This was because we would be at the BEACH for actual Halloween. Nate had signed up for a triathlon at CasaBlanca and so a crew of us...

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After Boise and San Francisco we headed back to Chicago for the final leg of our tour. Our first night Nate went off to a champion's league soccer game at Soldier Field ... a belated bday present that he loved. We spent two weeks living with the Snooks in their gorgeous house again. They were gracious and kind but it's always hard for me to have kids in a kid-less house. We also felt so badly as the wife's father was deathly ill (and ultimately ended up dying the night we left.) We enjoyed celeb...

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We had such a great time on Day 4 and a good mix of activities. Nate, Eric, and I (the early risers) picked up donuts at a place in The Mission District and brought them back to the house. After our donut experiences I have to say San Francisco doesn't hold a candle to Chicago specialty donuts. We hopped in our "wreck" and headed over to The Painted Ladies, a row of houses with Landmark status. From there it was off for a quick stop at The Full House house, with coordinating iphone theme music t...

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Day 3 was dedicated to Napa. On the drive out from the city we stopped off in Oakland, the working man's town, for breakfast from Donut Savant. From there we headed to Berkeley to get a feel for the city that Parenthood was filmed in. The girls stopped off at a Thrift Store, where I inadvertently bought a useless pair of converse for Canaan with one shoe being a size 9 and the other a 10. (I'm a terrible thrifter). The guys toured Cal-Berkeley and then we got serious about getting to Napa. The l...

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The guys started the day early in order to take public transit to pick up a Rent-a-Wreck. That ride just the three of them ended up a favorite for all three though we don't know why. The choice to rent that car ended up a favorite of all of us. It gave us fantastic mobility, was much cheaper than a regular rental and was in great shape. Bill was an amazing driver, never getting stressed about wrong turns, steep hills or back seat drivers and always willing to circle for parking. While the guys w...

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