This is Meredith, and I'll be narrating this journey for the most part, while Clay is behind the scenes with plugs, cords, cameras and the computer, making it all look good and work well. What follows is a description of Clay, myself, and our three kids, Alayna, Nate and Benji as of July, 2007. Much will change in the next nine and a half months, consider this a snapshot in words.

Clay is my high school sweet heart, father of our three kids, and husband of 14 years. His working life has progressed from a McDonald's busboy at age 15 to include software developer, small business owner, and real estate investor by age 37. His varied resume goes to show that he isn't afraid to try new things. It takes a brave man to eat whale blubber on a business trip in Japan or to wear plaid pants and sideburns to his daughter's groovy 7th birthday party. Clay is also creative. He wrote and published a book with his business partner last year, and once mowed the grass into "dinosaur paths" for a birthday party for Benji. And they didn't call him "swivel-hips" on the football field for nothing. He's fast. He loves to run, from the Boston Marathon to a small town 5K with the kids. When you take a trip around the world with your family, it's good to be brave, creative, and fast. It's also good to have a partner, that's where I come in.

Some people call me Meredith. Three call me "Mooooooommmmmmmy." Other than a mother and a wife, I'm a writer, a voracious reader, and a not-so-competitive runner. I've also been an excellent princess, dinosaur, or car. I'm always trying new recipes, but until just recently was unable to deviate from the instructions on the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese box. IfItypedthewayItalkitmightlooklikethis, I talk too fast. This should make for some interesting conversations in foreign countries. One of my goals is to slow down. My speech, my thoughts, my life. My ability to entertain three kids in the car for long periods of time, to make dinner happen with whatever is on hand for five different palates, and to remember to pray, will serve me well the next nine and a half months.

Alayna is our oldest child and only daughter. She will turn twelve the first month of our trip and is very interested in where we'll be celebrating (somewhere in Denmark). She loves books, monkeys, and crafts. She makes tiny people out of clay, giant balls of foil, and habitats for lizards. She is not afraid of bugs, reptiles, or gooey things. In fact, she likes them. She also likes to "create" in the kitchen, but does not like to clean up. Alayna is easy-going, a friend to many, sweet enough to get up at 5AM to make Valentine's for her family (including her brothers), yet mischievous enough to put fake bugs under our pillows for April Fool's Day. She loves to laugh, loves to play, hates to shower. All of these things will make for a fine (albeit possibly untidy) traveling partner.

Nate is our middle child. He is eight years old, and he loves to run with his dad. He also loves to play legos, wield large plastic swords, jump on the trampoline, listen to books, and talk. From age two he has loved to talk. He tells us about his dreams, stories or jokes he's heard or made up, and he always tells us the truth. Even when it gets him in trouble. He's been known to knock teeth out (his own when he was two, his brother's this year, and Alayna had one that was awful loose after a collision with Nate). He likes basketball, football, chess, and running races. One of his favorite things to do is pick a spot and say "time me" while he runs as fast as he can there and back. I'm sure this pastime will come in handy during layovers at the airport, and other potentially mind-numbing places. He plays hard, he laughs often, he'll travel well.

Benji is the youngest, having turned six less than a month before the trip. He knows how to ride a bike with no training wheels and he's self-sufficient in the bathroom, two requirements we had for him before traveling the globe. When he ties his shoes he uses lots of knots and no bows, so we're doing Velcro for the traveling shoes. Benji loves dinosaurs, books, dinosaur books, legos, stuffed animals, and playing with Alayna and Nate. He can sit still and quiet for long periods of time, flipping through a book and studying the pictures, or just sitting and thinking. I'll watch him in the rear view mirror sometimes, staring out the window with his big eyes, and I wonder what's going on in that head. He'll pipe up and say, "five plus four is nine" or "what if a feather was as tall as a house?" Benji rarely passes a rock or stick he doesn't love. We will make many shipments home full of Benji's "treasures" from the trip. He is happy to be spending nine and a half months in close quarters with his family. He'll have everything he needs, he'll be happy.


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