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We took another day trip to Mindo, the cloud forest about two hours from Quito. Once there we checked in with a tourism center and booked some horseback riding for later. We then headed on the little gondola across the trees and did a short hike to a waterfall. The kids attempted to get butterflies of all colors to land on them and then spent time wading into the waterfall and skipping rocks. We headed back across on the gondola in order to make our horse appointment. Unfortunately, as is common...

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We dedicated a day to shopping in Otavalo. It was a BEAUTIFUL day with all of the volcanos out and shimmering in all their snow-capped glory. Every angle of the drive was beautiful. We did about an hour of shopping, haggling with vendors and discussing the merits of all the beautiful blankets before settling on a choice few. We ate lunch out of the back of our car and then went in with a renewed determination for round 2 of shopping. Canaan bought his first poncho and hasn't ceased to wear it si...

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Mother's Day 2019 was perfectly simple and meaningful. Nate and the kids made me crepes on demand and then we headed to church. Post church and lunch I packed a small bag and went over to Christine's house where Aaron had arranged for us to get massages. I took a book and read, napped and listened to music and then swapped with Christine for my massage. After, fully relaxed, we watched the final episode of Handmaid's Tale while the husbands and kids cooked dinner for us upstairs. There were card...

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We camped a day early this year because I had to fly off to Cusco, Peru with 17 students on Easter Sunday. We packed up the cars after a half day of school and headed for El Refugio. We have the routine down now and kids all helped haul bags and set up sleeping bags. We opted for no tents this year for an easier pack up and no one complained.  I actually slept better this year than I ever have camping so I call that a win! There was a bit of rain but nothing too tragic. There were pita pizz...

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For New Years' Eve this year a group got together and rented a Chiva bus. This is super typical here, though they don't usually start during daylight hours! Of course during the day the streets were full of the men dressed as viudas looking for money. We laid low as the kids don't really enjoy that experience and get a bit nervous. The Chiva was a great idea though! The middle was full of people dancing and then others lined the sides of the bus and enjoyed the view of the Floresta neighborhood ...

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We had a short school break and wanted to spend time with friends, but nobody wanted to have to travel far. Because 3 of the 4 of us travel quite a bit for work, sometimes it's nice to not travel. We decided to book an airbnb in the Guapalo neighborhood of Quito for some quality family/friend time. It was a relaxing time. We spent a morning at Guapalo park, where Canaan joined a family day playing soccer and tug of war with a friendly Ecuadorian family. We ate caprese pasta salad while swatting ...

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We spent our last two nights in Chicago as the Runyans' first guests to try out their new airbnb basement redesign. The redo is beautiful and we always have fun sleeping in our old queen bed that we gave to them when we moved to Quito! (It's a whole lot nicer than our used mattress here.) It was sweet of them to set that time aside. I love how graciously Ella and Edie invite our kids into their lives and rooms and toys and more. We started out with a trip to the River Forest Pool where everyone ...

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I have a really nice husband who likes me a lot. We decided to try this experiment of the fastest Home Assignment ever. We took a regular 12-week trip and pared it down to just 4 short weeks. We didn't know if it was a good idea but we agreed we were both willing to try it and assess later whether it was a win or a fail. But in all of that planning and looking closely at days and realizing how few we had, I let Nate know that my dream day that we had missed out on last visit to the US would be t...

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For Mother's Day Nate booked Christine and I a room at Swissotel. We played our traditional volleyball on Saturday afternoon and then headed out with the whole family. We spent a few hours in the pool, splashing with our families before the guys headed off with the kids and we got some alone time. We walked up and down, looking for a new restaurant to try and landed at OM Lounge, that had fusion asian. We were happily surprised with our experience there and had a relaxing dinner. After we headed...

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Another four year tradition is being at the El Refugio cross on Easter morning for a simple worship service. We focus on the resurrection as we look at the crude cross and the beautiful mountains beyond. Most come from home and have their matching Sunday outfits and hot brunch items ready. We come from two days of camping and look a bit more bedraggled. After the service we head down the mountain together for a communal brunch. Afterward we send the kids off into the prayer garden for a chaotic ...

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