Oh, my dear Alex. He is nine years old and sharp as a tack and ready for anything, any time, any place. He has endless energy and if he is sitting still it better be with a book in his hand. He is interested in a wide array of things, from Pokemon to swimming to snakes. His head is full of so many random facts that I have never heard and he teaches me so much. He has a tendency to be hard on himself and others but I am hoping I can find a little optimist hiding inside of him. I am so glad he is my oldest child because his siblings look up to him and he watches out for them like a loving big brother should.
In October or November 2017, Sam and I started tossing around the idea of going to Hong Kong for our 10 year wedding anniversary. At Thanksgiving, I approached Mom about watching our kids for us while we went and she said that she and Dad wanted to go to China as well, and it would be nice to do it with someone who can speak Chinese (Sam). We attempted to find another family member who would be willing to come to Houston to watch the kids but it was a big ask and we ultimately decided it would be too much. Then we realized we would be going to Utah in July for the Merkley family reunion. Although it did not correspond with the date of our anniversary, we talked to family members who live in Utah to see if they would be willing to watch our kids at their houses instead of traveling to Houston. Everyone was much more willing to do that and our trip started to come together. We bought flights in May and started planning the trip from there.
It was easy for Sam to request the days off of work but I had to find substitutes for all of my classes at the gyms where I work; I needed a total of 16 classes covered. In an attempt to not need one more sub, we stayed in town until after I taught my Saturday 10am Turbo Kick class. Sam dropped me off at the gym and then went home to lock up everything and make sure my laptop shut down correctly because it was getting really funky and has about three years of unbacked-up pictures. He picked me up after class at 11am and we were on the road by 11:17am. That meant I wore stinky gym clothes on the whole drive!
Mei did really well on the drive. But it is a long time for anyone to be strapped down and she was always happy when her small-bladdered brothers needed a break.
When we stopped for dinner we realized that our license plate had blown off somewhere. A piece of it is still attached to the frame, but the rest is ripped off and likely on the side of the road somewhere in Texas.
We arrived to a dumpy motel in Albuquerque around 12:40am and the kids were sound asleep.
Everyone was up early Sunday morning. Mei got some exercise in by running ladders at the motel.
Sam's brother (Seth) and Seth's girlfriend (Brittany) met us at our motel for breakfast. It is nice to see them whenever we pass through ABQ. We visited for one hour and then got on the road at 8:30am.
I spent a few hours of the drive writing instructions for the people who would be watching the kids. It is so hard to put into words the quirks and cares of four little people. I did my best and I hope that it helped at least a little.
This looks a lot like Taco Bell! Where's my Del Taco?!
We stopped to take a picture with the Utah state sign which is not something we usually do. We took a bunch of pictures for other strangers who were stopped and a stranger took pictures for us. Then Mei met a stranger's dog.
We arrived to Matthew and Laura's house at 6:45pm. Laura had prepared a delicious dinner and the kids jumped on the trampoline like crazy people.
After that it was bedtime for the kids, which was kind of an ordeal. They were hyper and in a new place. Eventually they all fell asleep and Sam and I chatted with Matthew and Laura and then prepared our suitcases for the main event of the trip. Sam was asleep before midnight. I was up much later but that's because I am a perfectionist and worrier.
On Monday, Edison and Declan woke up early and got a second goodbye in the morning before we left. We hurried out the door before Mei woke up because she would have struggled with seeing us walk away.
Matthew drove us to the airport. We checked in and made it through security with only one little hiccup: Sam tried to smuggle a tissue in his pocket through security. Busted! He had to be screened for that. But really he needs to be busted for walking around wearing this neck pillow.
We first flew to San Francisco. We had a two hour layover there. We enjoyed our lunch and then played on the moving sidewalks, which I will argue are the best thing about airports. We also got to talk to the kids before we boarded a long flight to Hong Kong.
When I was asked what I was most excited for about this trip, I answered the flight there. I love flying but I also could not see anything past that portion of the trip. I could not imagine Hong Kong. It was so much work getting ready to go that I was in tears and wondering how we could cancel. Four kids is a lot to put on other people and I was so extremely worried about their safety and the mental health of everyone involved. So the flight was as far as I could see. We boarded the plane for our flight bound for Hong Kong. Brittany had recommended a few stretches for my arms and legs on the plane and I also downloaded an app. I looked up when to sleep to combat jet lag. I was ready. Ish.
The flight went smoothly. I slept sporadically, watched multiple movies, read a lot of my book, and talked to Sam. For some reason my left knee was really hurting on the plane. I don't know if it was because I had been sitting still too long but it was unpleasant. We only stood up once on the entire flight.
I was very disoriented. I was trying to keep track of time as if I had already arrived in Hong Kong but it was bizarre to have such a drastic time change.
When we touched down in Hong Kong, twelve hours later plus a fourteen hour time change, we were happy to be on solid ground. We had left San Francisco on Monday afternoon and arrived to Hong Kong on Tuesday evening. We got off of the plane onto the tarmac and loaded onto a bus. Then we drove across the airport. It was official: Sam was back in Hong Kong, 18 years after he arrived there last time.
We waited for quite a while for my parents' flight to land. Then we met up with them and waited even longer for their luggage. They had decided to check their carry-on sized bags and then the airport really struggled getting everything to baggage claim.
Eventually we got everything, bought Octopus cards for the train, and headed toward our Airbnb. Walking out of the train station at night was such a cool experience. It was surreal, but probably because I was sleep deprived.
We made it to our Airbnb in Mong Kok at 8:50pm and I was asleep not much later than that.
Today we celebrate ten years of marriage. We met at church while living in Utah and attending BYU. Sam was 25. I was... not. I thought he was old. He thought I was young. We both felt it would be safe to do a little bit of flirting. We talked. We played cards. We chased each other around with permanent markers. We kissed. I laughed. Sam side-eyed me. We said, "I love you." We planned a wedding. Sam graduated. We were married in the Mesa Arizona Temple.
|2009 // ONE YEAR|
We moved to Colorado to work for the summer. Then moved back to Utah so Crazy (Sam called me Crazy so you would think he saw it coming) could graduate. After graduation, with Alex in the womb, we moved to Ohio. We slept in the back of the moving truck on the side of the highway in Wyoming. Baby Alex made us parents in Ohio, and we moved to New York 18 days later.
|2010 // TWO YEARS|
After nearly two years (minus a short internship in Pennsylvania), Baby Edison joined our family. Sam leveled up to Master.
|2011 // THREE YEARS|
Your friendly neighborhood HR professional got a job in Sugar Land, Texas. Our time there was short and sweet before moving to the frozen North (Dakota).
|2012 // FOUR YEARS|
North Dakota gave us a lot. Good friends. Freezing temperatures. An adorable Baby Declan.
|2013 // FIVE YEARS|
|2014 // SIX YEARS|
After a bittersweet goodbye, we moved to Houston, Texas.
|2015 // SEVEN YEARS|
|2016 // EIGHT YEARS|
A family of five became six as we welcomed Baby Mei.
|2017 // NINE YEARS|
|2018 // TEN YEARS|
This is true love.
How old is Declan? I have to really think about it because I could see him being ten, but I also feel like he was just born. I guess we should average that out and go with five. He plays an endless game of Keep Up with his brothers and the gap between them seems to be narrowing. I cannot deny it; Declan is growing up. We have had five years with this amazing kid. He is such a punk and brings so much joy to our lives. He is going to be an awesome five-year-old. He is cute, strong, happy, and scrappy (in the best sense of the word: determined). He is so loved.
Today is Edison's birthday! He is seven years old, which is totally believable to me. This kid acted older than six. Let's see how seven suits him. He is still such a cool kid. I am amazed by him regularly. He says things and I double-blink and think, "Where did he learn that?! He is a genius!" I described him as "a perpetual motion machine" on his first birthday and that is still completely true. I do not know where he finds his energy but he can also fall asleep within a couple of minutes. He is so easy-going and takes whatever is given to him. He solves his own problems. He is happy and sweet. We love him so much.
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