Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to Rent Your Home When Traveling

Traveling with kids is WAY more comfortable when you have separate bedrooms, a real kitchen and a living room. I am amazed that people even attempt to book hotel rooms for more than 2 nights. Yuck!

I have been traveling internationally for almost 30 years now. At one point, I sold timeshare. And I met the people who LOVED it. Each family member had their own bedroom and together they had a beautiful living room in which  to gather during the evenings. Plus, a refrigerator full of snacks, drinks, easy breakfasts for sleeping in and more!

I also met people who told me they would never buy timeshare because they could easily rent someone else’s property online – for cheap! That grabbed my attention.

So when my husband and I started traveling together I started searching for such luxurious accommodations. It wasn’t hard to find. Besides timeshares for rent, I also stumbled upon vacation homes for rent by owners and such. We spent our honeymoon in Mexico at a beautiful apartment with a jacuzzi on the beach for less than $80/night. I was hooked.

When we started traveling with 3+ children, a hotel did not sound like a vacation!

Our first big challenge was to complete a 6 week road trip through New Zealand with kids! Every step of the way, we stayed in homes! And as a bonus, we met fantastic people in the process!

We now also rent our home when we travel.

Sound scary? Not at all.

In fact, it helps pay for our vacations!

It all began when we moved to Costa Rica. We put our home up for rent for the year.

In preparation, we did the following:

  1. We renovated our attic so that it now has drop-down stairs, a solid floor for storage and automatic ventilation/fans to prevent mold.
  2. We put additional closets in our garage for winter jackets and sports items to create more free storage space in the house for our renters.
  3. We calculated roughly how much electricity and water would cost in our absence and included this in the rental fee to keep things simple.
  4. We downloaded a rental agreement with which we felt confident.
  5. We created a House Manual to describe everything about our home, town, neighbors, etc.
  6. We determined who we wanted to rent our home and then we searched for them.

Really, it was just a matter of making space by moving our personal items to storage.

We were very fortunate to find a family to rent our home. This meant that we could leave all the toys, games, books, potties, high chairs, etc. out for their convenience and use. For us this meant less packing! Win-win!

Many students wanted to rent our home. However, we did not want to sign multiple contracts, manage various people coming and going, or rely on one student to do this over an entire year. Plus, we did not want to have to pack away more stuff…books, toys, games, potties, high chairs, etc….

We advertised online with the local eBay and Craig’s list. We had a response very quickly as we included photos we uploaded on a website.

If you would like to rent your home, I recommend you check out the following websites:

It is easy to open an account, upload photos, manage the calendar and write your own descriptions. These are simply the online tools to help you find a renter.  Yes, they take a cut for this service. But it is definitely worth it!

Now, we are doing short-term rentals for when we travel during school vacations, ski holidays, summer break, winter holidays and more. After all, that is when other families are also traveling. So it is a fantastic opportunity to help cover our own expenses.

 

 

 

 

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Life in a whirlwind…

ming-mask

Ming – the boy behind the mask

Today we had a home study follow-up report about how our adoption is going. It is conducted by the local government and is important documentation.

So they got a REAL insight to our world, because we FORGOT. Oops.

Yep, the house was in top chaos form, the kitchen was overloaded, the doors were hanging open, Jonas had taken Astrid to the doctor with Ming following along, and I was laying on the couch with a bag of frozen peas on a twisted ankle from the front yard when…

Ding-dong. I didn’t even recognize her.

Then I did. OH. NO.

Quick call to Jonas at the doctor’s office who promptly hangs up on me saying that they are just going in now. (Drop-in hours…how fun.)

So after washing my dining room table and pushing some chairs back up while hobbling around and offering something to drink, we started the interview. Of course, she wanted to see Ming’s room…which was also in prime form.

Jonas and the kids came 35 minutes later. And Ming…

Well, he was an absolute gentleman who shook our social worker’s hand. Wow!

So I guess we survived.

And in the end, it was simply hilarious.

Ming’s Birthday, Blessing & Chinese New Year Party!

Happy to share this little guy’s 3rd birthday with family, friends and the world!

Check out the video here.

Big brother Gunnar sang during the Blessing Ceremony in our church. Ming could not stay still…so joins Gunnar on-stage. Lovely.

The Ming Dynasty has begun…

Joy! He is beautiful, kind, sharing, and fun to play with. Today is wonderful. Our new son joined our family.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

The Great Wall of China

A bright and sunny day spent on some seriously steep steps! Wow! Sometimes we were actually climbing the wall instead of walking.
Fortunately, we took the tram up and a toboggan down – luge-style! In between, we were traipsing up and down these walls of history. Beyond our point, you could see the unused portions of the wall where it is completely overgrown and probably falling to pieces.
Afterwards, we had our driver take us to the Chaoyang Theater to watch the most amazing acrobatic show ever! From contortionists to 8 motorcycles in a cage to balancing acts and more. It was truly amazing.
Tonight we packed. Tomorrow we leave at 5am to catch the bullet train across China. Finally, we head to Nanning. All day I have been a nervous wreck. Soon we will meet little Mingling…

Beijing Adventures

3 days to Nanning…
Small steps towards the adoption as we come closer and closer. It is a state of confusion as there are simply too many emotions to process.
We spend our days here I Beijing as tourists. This city is huge and modern. The subway is clean and orderly. The people are fashionable and friendly. It feels ridiculous to spend our time here when our focus is on Guangxi. And yet we know that this is probably our first of many trips to China so we try to go with the flow. We take it all in stride as best as we can.
Upon our arrival Saturday, we discovered that due to confusion, our apartment booking was lost in translation. Our first night was at a nice hotel packed in like sardines. I really hate hotels.
But we are world travelers and not easily phased by such minor bumps as not having a place to stay. After checking in, we headed out to meet an old friend from Orlando Toastmasters for dinner. Late that night I jumped back online to make a new apartment booking which suits us quite well.
Sunday we were met by our apartment host’s father and we then indulged in the Pearl Market downtown. I just loved being screamed at by this wild Chinese woman who kept telling me to “close the sale.” Those of you who know me well know that I did truly enjoy that encounter and am not being sarcastic at all. It was really fun!
Next stop was Wangfujing Street. There Jonas and Gunnar ate scorpions fried on a stick while Astrid was chased by a huge Chinese paparazzi with cell phones. It was a true cultural indulgence.
Add on top that every meal is its own adventure. We now only select restaurants with picture menus and budget for the extra 1-2 items that we don’t recognize and are pretty sure we didn’t order. All in all, it is interesting to see how Gunnar’s hunger outweighs his food choices. He eats it all now.
Monday was a take-it-easy day with a late sleep in. We managed to find a local restaurant with no pictures on the menu and had a very interesting brunch of fish (best ever!), mystery meat, congee, white mush with hot sauce, etc. It was pouring down rain which made the smog much, much better. So we then spent some time at this crazy plastic children’s place in a nearby shopping mall. Astrid was in heaven and really enjoyed driving the toy tank.
Dinner included cartilage skewered on sticks, random meats on sticks, duck necks, tasteless black and white dough balls, batidos (mango and watermelon just like Costa Rica), fantastic shrimps and more. Stopped for some ice cream on the way home – cranberries with green cream around the outside or red beans frozen on a stick were chosen by Jonas and me.
Tuesday we journeyed to The Forbidden City. The lines were unbelievable as we are traveling in the peak of peak season here. Squishing in with every camera-toting tourist to get pics of thrones, beds, etc used by the emperors. Not to mention the throngs of cameras on selfie-sticks that surrounded poor Astrid and Gunnar (the white giant) as people crammed in to take photos with them.
We created our own scene when getting photos taken as the emperor and family. Astrid was manhandled too much finally during the session. Heads adjusting and much screaming in Chinese when she tried to choose her own outfit. No no no. All resulting in a meltdown and do-over, thanks to the help ofan English-speaking man who informed the angry women that Astrid wanted to be the emperor NOT the empress. So we now have a fantastic picture of my very confident and strong daughter in the beautiful yellow dragon outfit and carrying a real sword. Boy was she proud! (and me too!)
We also finally met with the representative for their adoption agency here and made all the final details for our trip to Nanning.
Suddenly things got real.
And today was another play day. We spent it at the Olympics Cube – a Waterpark. Great fun followed by dinner at the Hutongs downtown.
So here we are. No Google or Facebook access. Sending this on my phone in hopes it will post. Wish us luck and stay tuned. I’ll try to upload photos somehow later.

Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

Sending a gift to China…

Adoption giftTwo days after our approval for adoption, I learned to crochet. Ironically, I have watched my grandmother do this for at least 35 years of my life. And not once have I learned how to do this.

So now it is time!

And wouldn’t you know – that of all the crazy things in the world – I am actually very good at it. I learned the basics quickly and was learning a new pattern by my 3rd meeting.

Yep, a little blanket completed in less than 2 weeks. Amazing! Especially as I am not crafty. Not. At. All.

So we placed this little blanket with a soft rabbit toy, a wooden car and a photo album of us into a box and shipped it to Ming.

I truly hope that he receives it soon and that it brings some comfort and familiarity to him during this upcoming time of transition. It breaks my heart how much he will have to lose before he can gain his new family.

But we are a family that understands loss, grief, healing and love. It all takes time. That’s what we are planning – to simply be parents for the rest of our lives. To walk through this and much, much more.

It’s a very exciting and overwhelming time here. We are taking many small steps to prepare. Steps to towards hope and discovery. It’s been a very long road. And now the journey truly begins…

Mamma_crocheting

Changing direction!

Project FlaMINGo So the door to adopt from Kenya is closed.

Thanksgiving Day 2014 the President announces a moratorium on all international adoptions. Wow.

Just like that.

Amazing, isn’t it? How life just suddenly changes, stops, or surprises us…

Our adoption application to the National Adoption Committee was “next” so we were standing just outside the door.

So after some time (not much) and hopefully a bit of perspective, we decided to NOT give up… Not yet.

The adoption game is not over. We have until November 2015 to get a “referral” to adopt as Swedes. So we have decided to stay on our journey and not stop until our time is up.

However, we are changing our destination.

Next stop – China!

First, we fly back to Costa Rica for a bit more relaxation as our paperwork is processed for adoption from China. I need to surf a bit more and just escape.

Wish us luck. We need it.

Meanwhile, we begin this next chapter in life. Our family is now starting Project FlaMINGo.

Curious?

We’ll keep you posted.

Hejdå Kenya!

Nín hǎo China!

The Waiting Place…

SeussSo the NAC meeting was cancelled in November. Oh joy.

And how we have longed for some good news.

For a better chapter.

For a new beginning…

But this week marks 2 years since our world changed through tragedy and carelessness.

Life changes in the blink of an eye.

You simply never know when, where or how.

And you pray that it will be for something good…

 

 

Oh, The Places You’ll Go

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

Meanwhile, we are practicing Pura Vida… We are trying to stay in the moment.

Tranquilo.

Y espero…

And we are in a good physical location for that. But the mind and heart wanders…

and wonders…

and waits.

Pura Vida Costa Rica

Living the “Pura Vida” in Costa Rica now.

We have a tropical garden, listen to the ocean waves, pick bananas from the garden, and hear howler monkeys daily (not to mention a new little rooster nearby – ahum!)

Astrid is in a fantastic new school called La Paz and making new friends. Her English is growing phenomenally and she gets a bit of Spanish too!

We are also part of La Paz’s community and hope to meet many new families also in the many play dates to come.

It’s rainy season so there are very few tourists. Little commotion. Lots of mosquitoes.

Gunnar is in Nairobi having the adventure of a lifetime! We are proud beyond words and listen for all small details. His safari, camping adventure, school lessons and more info on why there are 3 girls to every boy there… It is a good year for him. He deserves this chance to be himself. To grow and live life to the fullest.

Ragna is soon on her way here. Astrid is talking about her constantly and planning to share her bed. Soon Ragna will start her big adventure volunteering around the world. How fantastic! What a great step of independence for her! We are so excited and proud to watch this new adventure. Again, we are proud.

Sigrid is just landing again from her whirlwind tour of Europe with some girlfriends from her Australia travels. She continues to travel and explore while contemplating life, her world, where she is and who she is becoming. It is amazing (and sometimes exhausting) to see all of her ongoing energy. We simply nod our heads in approval and admiration. And more pride here also.

Meanwhile, we are working and tweaking the business. Expanding and such.

I am fighting plantar fasciitis and focusing on me, my feet, my heart and my place in life. Attempting to look inwards. Never an easy feat. Thus, I take small steps in all areas… Careful to tread lightly and consciously in both my physical and spiritual awareness.

Jonas is taking Spanish and learning quickly. He’s also trying to dance salsa. Give him encouragement as he discovers his hips and such. It’s fun to both dance and watch!

And adoption…

Oh yeah. We are still waiting.

And waiting…

Nothing has happened.

Nothing.

We sent our papers in March to the adoption organization with the expectation of them delivering them to the National Adoption Committee in 30 days (as written in the protocol…) But, well, that didn’t happen. They have been backed up since last September. In July they asked for some additional info before transferring our application (we truly hope) to NAC in August.

We are just one of MANY families in a hold pattern. Truly there is nothing we can do.

Wait or quit. Those are our options.

Instead we choose option 3 – Pura Vida.

We will focus on the here. The now. The family we are. The family we are becoming. The family that continues to grow and love and strengthen with each day.

All of this in hopes that we will someday be blessed to join another small being’s family. To come to their world, their life and their culture. To join them.

Meanwhile, we are learning to adapt here. It is a beautiful life. One must simply keep their eyes open.

Love to all! Call us! Email! Stop by!

JoeTheRat

A rat's quest to see the world - the environmentally friendly way

Life's Handbook

Nomad Family Travels

HOPING KENYA

Sibling Adoption

Joy Embraced

personal blog of a foster and adoptive family

SIGRID NORDSTRÖM

Nomad Family Travels

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