It's Been Real, USA


Bye Bye Beach

I'm winding down now.  It's almost time for Swedie to start pressuring me about packing my bags to go to the airport even though we don't leave for seven hours.  It's that time for reflection on a great trip.  This has been my best trip home since leaving home for the Air Force back in 2000.  There was a different element to this trip since we had Bash with us.  I know he won't remember this trip, but I enjoyed trying to pass on as much to him as possible about my home and family.  I wanted him to want to be held by family members (he didn't, of course).  I wanted him to enjoy Busch Gardens (he slept through the Sesame Street part).  Oh well. 

This trip was good on so many levels.  I'm so glad we didn't do an east coast marathon like we did last year.  There was so little stress this time around.  Tampa and Miami and that's it.  Perfect!  We had the perfect hosts here on the South Florida portion.  We stayed with a friend of mine from high school (and forever) and her husband for most of the time.  There's no way better hosts exist!  They began the hosting before the trip, telling us not to bring anything other than diapers and formula and clothes for Bash.  They had car seat, stroller, bottles, etc.  What?!  They also provided a room for Swedie's sister and kept alcohol readily available.  I mean, ya can't beat that!

Sweet Cuz and Bash
On Thanksgiving week we stayed with my amazing cousin in the city.  She's actually my second cousin twice removed or something like that, but Bash will call her Auntie.  Regardless, she was so nice to us.  Her son and I were very close growing up, so it was good to catch up with her while I was here.  I even got to see her son as well... AND his kids.  I hadn't met my little cousin before and it was like a blast in the past.  He looked just like his father did back then!  It made me think about when I used to run around as a kid. 

Favorite Aunt, Bash and Mom



Thanksgiving was at Favorite Uncle's house.  Mom did a lot of the cooking and there were contributions from a few other people including Favorite Uncle.  It was so nice.  Football and good food and Spades (not real Spades though).  You can't beat that.    

All of this wonderful hospitality made me want to return the favor.  I really want some of my family and friends to come to Sweden and check us out.  We're good hosts too.  It's unfortunate that I don't think many of my family members will make that trip.  The most frustrating part is they are scared of the flight over.  I just can't relate to that.  You agree that it is a good time hanging out.  And that it would be nice to see another part of the world.  But you won't go because the flight is too long?  Come on, family!  Order some drinks and take a nap and the flight will be over in no time.  I know that's easier said than done, but I just want to spread the love Sweden style.  

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Busch Gardens was awesome!  That has to be the best theme park in the country.  Apart from my gripe with Disney World (greed, greed, greed), Busch Gardens is just a better place.  The rides are better, the price is better and they have an awesome collection of wildlife. They have a ride called Cheetah Hunt that I hadn't been on before.  It's the best roller coaster I've ever been on.  Not the fastest or tallest, but the absolute best!  We (Sister-in-law and I) got on it three times. It was also cool to see the primates and take the train ride through the animals in the open field.  They have zebras, antelopes, lions, cheetahs, giraffes (that walked in front of the train causing us to stop), rhinos and many more animals.  They even have African penguins!  Of course, Bash was more entertained by people sitting on the train than any of the wildlife.  It was still fun having him there as we enjoyed ourselves.  He brings joy on his own anyway.  I had been to Busch Gardens a million times as a kid, but this was my first time really experiencing the park like this.  It's the best.
Part of that Tampa trip was letting Bash meet his grandfather.  My dad.  I hadn't talked to my dad in years (2009).  That was a conscious decision that I made to basically prevent from further disappointment in him.  I won't go any deeper into it, but there was much potential for an awkward situation.  It wasn't awkward at all.  We met at a restaurant and it all seemed natural.  Three generations at the table.  Bash looked at him in an odd way.  It was like he knew that he should know this guy... but he didn't.  So bizarre.  We spent a few hours together and yet another portion of this trip was a success.  



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Bash was quite the star in public.  He already knows how to charm people.  Women would swoon over him as he smiled and waved his arms at them.  I don't think we went anywhere without someone complimenting us on our cute and happy baby.  Makes a father proud.  I gave the most modest "thank you"s that I could but I really wanted to scream, "I know, right!" whenever they told me about my son's awesomeness.  

I think he's really close to walking as well.  He's at that stage where he stands for a few seconds on his own before falling to his butt.  My family members say he should be walking in no time.  I hope they're right.  That boy is heavy!

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Being around my family with Bash made me realize the main differences between my family and Swedie's family.  First, VOLUME!  The women in my family SHOUT.  Bash kept a look of surprise on his face whenever my mom and her sister "talked" to each other.  It's almost like it's a competition.  The men in my family don't really talk so loud unless they're commanding attention to tell a story of some sort.  And I don't know where we get it from, but my family is gifted at storytelling.  I realized that when Mom's other brother told a story.  He had everyone hanging on his words and then ended on a punchline that resulted in everyone erupting in laughter.  It's remarkable.  He's not even the one that's known for telling funny stories.  Everyone can tell a story.  Especially a funny story.  That goes for grandmother as well.  Looking around the room, I could see where I got it from.  It was such good, fun energy.

I got the laughs I expected on this trip.  I had the unexpected smooth reunion with my father.  I wish Bash would have warmed up to his family a bit sooner.  He finally got comfortable with Grandmother and Favorite Aunt holding him on our last visits with them.  I know it's natural, but I felt bad for them.  We're only here for so long, so I felt like each second counted.  I look forward to coming back and watching the interaction next year.  I loved being home.  I can't wait to return.  But I missed Sweden.  It's time to go back home from home.  It'll all make sense one day.  Let me get these bags packed before Swedie grows horns.  Until next time...


I'm gonna miss Grandmother's fish and grits breakfasts...

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