empty nesters

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wow. this summer has truly kept me busy. i have literally not been able to squeeze in blogging like i normally do. i mean, i suppose i could have blogged in the middle of the night, but i am not a night owl, so that wouldn’t have worked. but, now our visitors are gone, the apartment is quiet (too quiet),  and lina and i are all alone again. i suppose i have plenty of time to blog now. yep. life is returning to normal, which it hasn’t been since the beginning of may! and that’s just craaaaazy. but, so freaking amazing.

yesterday, our niece and lina’s cousin left us to return to sweden after spending 2 weeks here. if you’ll recall, they flew with us to the states when we returned in the end of july. it was an amazing and whirlwind of a two-week visit with them. we did the beach (which you can read about here), and then we spent time at our home in the mountains. there were tons of adventures, tons of laughter, tons of shopping (what do you expect with 2 teenage girls let loose in american malls?! – ok, they weren’t let loose, but you get what i mean) and tons of memories that none of us will soon forget. take a peek at just a few of them…

headed home (to the mountains) from the beachIMG_5827

 

hanging out at homeIMG_5828 IMG_5837 IMG_5880 IMG_5908 IMG_5909 IMG_5842 IMG_6014

 

an overnight trip to pigeon forge, tennessee and dollywood (dolly patron’s amusement park)!
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up high in the mountains (and in the clouds) to ride on the blue ridge parkway & visit my parents who were camping nearby – we had s’mores & everything!IMG_6065 IMG_6057 IMG_6059 IMG_6068 IMG_6070 IMG_6071

fun times in asheville: a baseball game that was almost rained out & a day of catching the downtown vibesIMG_6131 IMG_6082 IMG_6083 IMG_6094 IMG_6139

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our last, long night of coziness togetherIMG_6150

 

hanging out together by the gate at the airport – the airlines let lina and i go through security and be with the girls until they boarded the plane. so cool!

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so, lina and i are empty nesters now. it’s just the two of us again. and life will be returning to the “normal” life that we lead. it feels pretty good. but, it has been an incredible summer – out of this world incredible. i cannot even begin to express how grateful and lucky i am to have seen, done, experienced, and loved throughout the past 3 and a half months. needless to say, i am overwhelmingly amazed.

the girls made it home safely (eventually – plane delays & such), and it was a complete joy having them here. exhausting, in the most wonderful way. and i am super impressed with their english, their adventurous spirit, and how they worked all year last year to make this dream of theirs come true! you go, girls! we love you and miss you!

as for us: well, it’s time to get crazy!

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the sochi effect

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9e95b9c5460c816b632aab3d6c605c73 it’s time for the olympics. the winter ones, of course. and i’m semi-excited. ok. i’m not really excited at all. but, i know me. and as soon as news networks and twitter and Facebook friends begin posting stuff about the olympics, i will climb on board the olympic excitement train and get all caught up in curling (who knew that existed before the previous olympics?), figure skating, snowboarding, speed skating, and other events. and, as i do every olympics, the opening ceremonies will cause a tear to fall down my cheek. that is always a great moment of global unity, in my opinion.

but, this year, there is much, much more on my mind as well. and, maybe i will not climb on the olympic spirit train…

i suppose you could say that it’s hesitation. and concern. now, i’ve never been to russia so i know nothing about it first-hand. and i try not to judge a country i have not visited because they can be so completely different than expected – in good and bad ways. at least that’s what i’ve experienced. but, i must admit it, i am worried. scared, even. and, of course, i am angry.

right now all of the news seems to be about whether sochi is ready to host the olympics or not. can they handle the crowds? will there be violence or terrorism? on the news today there were reports that the accommodations for athletes are not up to par. the photos they showed were of fairly bare rooms, with toilets that you cannot put toilet paper in. instead, you use the trash can for the paper.

my first reaction to the “sub-par” conditions at hotels and such is this: suck it up. you are in another country and things will not be like they are at home. that’s what happens in different countries. and it is one of the beauties of travel – experiencing different cultures and ways of life, seeing how other people live, discovering and exploring. but, you must do this with an open mind. and with the expectation that things will not be the same. this is an adventure, and you will have stories galore to tell. not to mention, you will learn so much about yourself.

now, there is another issue that hits much more closely to home for me and you all have heard about it, i’m sure: LGBT rights. in russia, it is now illegal to be gay. and, from what i have read and seen, it is completely acceptable to bully, attack, and beat up any gay person or ally. it’s just horrible. ridiculous. and sickening.

and so, i am having a hard time reconciling the olympics (a global, unifying event) being in  this country where not all people are accepted. i could go on and on, but instead, i am going to leave you with a video. a very, very, very disturbing video. it is very graphic, so if you are sensitive, do not watch it. instead, read this article from gq:

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but, if you think you can handle it, here is the video. it is so important for us to be aware. warning! graphic & disturbing!

peace, love, and equality. xx

disney world: animal kingdom!

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it’s safari time! and finally the weather was not chilly or cold. in fact, we even took off our jackets a few times (yay!)… only to have to put on ponchos later in the afternoon. but you know what? that did not stop our fun one bit. we were silly, happy girls even in the rain. i mean, doesn’t rain make everything more adventurous? i always say that i want to soak up the moments… and this day, i did just that. literally.

we noticed that it had rained during the night, but we remained optimistic! after entering the park and being overwhelmed by the beauty of the natural surroundings (that had been planted, mind you) and greenery everywhere, we made our way to have some breakfast. it was a big, stick to your ribs kinda breakfast, perfect for this day. then, we got right to it.

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first up, the finding nemo musical performance! but, we had a little time to kill, so we wandered around dino-land and took in the sights. then, it was time for the show! as we waited, there was a kid sitting directly behind us. he was kicking my seat continuously and was too smart for his own good. he talked, chattered, and made a comment on everything constantly without ever taking a breath. it was exhausting just sitting behind him. and i found myself worrying that i’d never make it. if this continued through the show, i was gonna have to say something to the parents. luckily, as soon as the show – the amaaaaazing show – began, he quieted right down. i even forgot he was there. whew.DSC_0227 DSC_0651 DSC_0654 IMG_7897 IMG_7903 IMG_7912

after the show, we did some rides (i won’t say i freaked out, but i did a little. when did i become so wussy?), which turned out to be so much fun and then headed over to the asia part of the park to explore the animals and the sights…DSC_0667 IMG_7920

we walked through a jungle area and one thing became very, very clear to me. i have to go to india, indonesia, and asia. i mean, i’ve know that my wanderlust tendencies extend to that continent, but i felt so connected – even in a disney world created asia. the prayer flags, the trees and thick vegetation. it was all so peaceful. so spiritual. i truly have to go.

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then, it was off to africa and our safari! first, a quick bite for lunch, though. some african, curry something under a thatched roof, where birds and rain were still enjoying our meal with us. though, the food was not great (the one & only time we had not so great food), we entertained each other (and everyone else probably) tremendously as we caught a case of the giggles and could not settle down. when we decided to move on, it was raining properly, so i had to buy a poncho with a big ass mickey on it. lina had hers with her. mine was in the hotel room. typical me.DSC_0693

but, it was time for the safari! rain or no rain. we did not care. bring it on! you know, if i’m honest, sometimes it’s fun to have a day when you just get wet and don’t care. you just let the rain pour down on you, step in all the puddles, and know that the water will not kill you. and then, then it becomes fun!IMG_7934 DSC_0697 DSC_0716 DSC_0726 DSC_0734 DSC_0744IMG_7956

that’s it folks! our hotel, all four disney world parks, downtown disney, a luau, and lots and lots of laughs. memories and fun that we won’t soon forget. thanks for traveling with us through my blog posts. of course, i highly recommend disney world – for anyone who likes magic, laughter, surprises, imagination, and time with family.

now, let’s see… where to next? hmmm… perhaps a trip to new orleans is in the very beginning stages of planning. mouahhahaha.

peace and love. and wanderlust! xx