Rollercoaster 🎢 of Love 💕

We’ve had such an exciting 3 years! What a difference it makes when you are with a person you are compatible with and enjoy spending time with. Mark and I have traveled more together in the 2.5 years we’ve been together (1.5 years was during the peak of a pandemic) than I had in my previous 13 year relationship.

We started our traveling journey going to take a hike with the kids and my brother in the Poconos. It was such a nice time, getting out and enjoying the fresh air. This was when I found out that Mark was adventurous …meaning liking to go down unbeaten paths that may or may not be dangerous. It still makes me nervous but like he says he hasn’t gone anywhere that put himself in danger yet

Hiking 2020

We spent most of 2020 either in the wilderness or at the beach! Both things I thoroughly enjoy because I love nature. There’s just something about being near running water or in the woods that restores my weary soul.

Our first beach trip together was at seaside heights at the Jersey shore. It was our first time going away and we had such a great week. We spent the first few days by ourselves and then we picked up the kids and brought them for the rest of the week. Everyday that week we did yoga in the morning and it’s something Mark enjoys doing till this day.

Mark is a literal fish and will spend as much time as humanly possible in the water at the beach. Now both my kids know how to swim and it’s all thanks to him. Before meeting Mark Sofia wouldn’t go anywhere near the ocean. She didn’t even really like going into our friend’s pool. I think because he’s so patient, kind and motivating, the kids seeing him and his love of the water gave them the confidence to go in too.

Seaside Heights, NJ 2020

Our first holiday season together we went totally overboard with food for just the four of us, my dad, brother and my girlfriend and her son. So much wasted food. I always seem to make enough food for a football team when it’s totally unnecessary. Maybe that’s just my southern upbringing, better to have too much than not enough. I have the same issue during Christmas. I say I’m going to stay at a certain limit and as we get closer to the day I think there’s not enough and overspend.

Thanksgiving Day 2020

When 2021 rolled in we hit the ground running, going to Kalahari indoor water park (2x) for my birthday in February and Mark’s birthday in April. We absolutely love going to Kalahari. They have a huge water park with a lazy river, tons of water slides and a huge area for little kids. They also have a gigantic arcade where Ky loves to hang out. Unfortunately because of Mark’s migraines he cannot stay in there too often. They also have a few nice restaurants, cafe, ice cream shop, spa and decent rooms to stay overnight. Due to my anxiety I rarely went on water slides. I had a bad experience when I was probably 10 where we were on a tube going down the waterside and once it got to the bottom it capsized and because I don’t swim I just knew I was drowning…but all I had to do was stand up 👀😅. Needless to say it took a while before I ever went on another waterside, and when I say a while, I mean probably 30 years 😂. I decided to try my luck with Mark, probably because I know he will never let anything bad happen to me, and I had a great time!

Kalahari 2021

We also visited amusement parks, gardens, stayed at the beach (it’s our second home), had major surgeries, and spend a romantic weekend in Bucks County. We only live about an hour away from three great towns in Bucks county, Doylestown, New Hope and Newtown. Only 2 months after our transplant surgery and we were off on our next adventure. We left the kids at my girlfriend’s house overnight and headed to New Hope were we went on a train ride, strolled downtown to get some yummy Peruvian food and ice cream.

We then made our way to a winery in Newtown and tasted some wine along with a charcuterie board. After that we headed to the Plumstead Inn for dinner and stayed overnight in their historic Victorian room. The next day we made our way to a crazy castle in Doylestown. It was filled with all kinds of tiles and looked like a maze and something out of a book like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland. After the tour we walked downtown and found a great Italian restaurant where we ate some really good food along with another even bigger charcuterie board (Mark loves🍦ice cream, meats and cheese 🧀 )

Castles and Charcuterie

Two weeks after our romantic getaway, we drove down to Florida, which was 1,082 miles. It could have been a disaster but we made sure to bring snacks, chargers, headphones, iPads and anything we could think of to keep the kids entertained. I love planning adventures (which is why I’m a travel agent 😂) planned our whole trip, making sure to leave room for anything magical.

We stayed overnight somewhere in VA and the next day drove down to Savannah and hung out there for a few hours. We got to Cape Canaveral with just enough time to see the rocket launch (it was about 4am). We stayed and found a nice beach area and watched the sunrise! It was the most unexpected and magical part of the trip.

Waiting to see the sunrise on the beach

After that amazing day we celebrated my son’s 10th birthday by going to Kennedy Space Center, Disney and Universal. Our rental house had a pool and this is where Sofia learned how to swim. We packed so much food on our drive down thinking we were going to make all these great dinners and much of it we brought back home with us. It was funny (looking back) but when we got to the house I guess I never locked the door or really knew how to open it so we were going in and out thinking it was locked till one time I actually locked it and ended up locking ourselves out. We tried to call the property management but they didn’t get back to us in time and we had to stay in a rundown hotel overnight. Luckily Airbb reimbursed us for that hotel. It’s such a funny story now but I was not laughing at the time.

That holiday season we didn’t go totally overboard with the food but I felt like we still had too much lol. That Christmas season the kids wanted expensive electronics, of course they did because they are at that age now. Again my goal was to not go overboard but again a week or two before Christmas I felt like they “didn’t have enough” and I went overboard

This year started off with us finally being able to plan our wedding! Mark had been separated for 7.5 years but his divorce wasn’t finalized until January. I spent the last 9 months planning this beautiful wedding. If you read my post called Cry Baby Cry you read about the amount of stress and overwhelm I dealt with planning our wedding. It ended up being beyond beautiful, a perfect day (even in the midst of a hurricane) and THE BEST WEDDING EVER as all my friends kept telling us afterwards. Besides planning our wedding, we also had an amazing honeymoon in Portugal that I also planned. Two weeks exploring the country from Lisboa to Peniche to Tavira. We walked over 100 miles in those two weeks and made memories that will last a lifetime! One of the great things we got to do was watch the sunset on a private beach at our hotel. It wasn’t only special because it was in Portugal on our honeymoon but because we saw the sunrise in Florida the year before.

Watching the sunset in Portugal

Portugal was life changing, it was after we got back from our two week trip that we knew we wanted to move abroad and have our kids experience different cultures and to expand their horizons. We had been talking about moving somewhere outside of the United States since we met but taking that trip together solidified our desire and we were determined to make it a reality. But after the honeymoon, the only thing on my mind was planning the wedding!

We hardly went on any trips this year other than the beach. Our kids did compete in the tough mudder which was such an amazing experience. Our son Ky brought three of his friends but Sofia wasn’t able to convince any of her friends to go. The funny thing was Ky and two of his friends weren’t into it but Sofia, who was super nervous and unsure, had a great time! Mark was unable to participate because he hurt his shoulder earlier in the year but he and Ky’s friend Ethan are going to do the adult course in May 2023! Sofia will be participating in the mighty mudder next year.

Kids participate in the mini and mighty mudder

With the year winding down, we decided we were going to end the year creating great memories instead of just buying a bunch of presents (famous last words, seeing my inability to stay on budget). Our thanksgiving this year was again just the 6 of us (Mark and I, the kids, and my dad and brother). Mark and I divided and conquered the kitchen like we have the last three holidays. This year I had two infections within a three week period. I thought I was up for the task but the minute I stopped cooking and it was time to eat, I felt so bad I couldn’t eat a thing and spent the rest of the night on the couch recuperating.

My plate that stayed full till the next day

For Christmas, since our goal is to move abroad, we felt like buying a bunch of “stuff” didn’t make much sense. Instead we decided to spend our money on taking the kids to see cirque de Musica, go to the Lehigh Valley Zoo and take a mini vacation at our favorite place, Kalahari! We saw the performance last Sunday and it was amazing! Ky was super cranky and insisted he never wanted to go, even though I asked them both before buying the tickets. But once he got there he was in awe and was so kind he gave Markie the play by play since he was unable to watch any of it because the lights would trigger a migraine. I had to take Sofia to the bathroom twice, we changed seats at least 4x because Ky didn’t want to sit next to strangers, Sofia didn’t want to sit next to Ky and she couldn’t sit in my seat because there were tall people in front of me. I’m sure many parents can relate. Luckily the couple next to me were super friendly and understood being empty nesters they were well aware of my drama 😅

At the theater waiting for the show to start

I love this time of year because you get to reflect on your experiences the past 12 months and having some distance get to look at the situations that cause great stress in a better light. I also get to be grateful for all the wonderful things we got to participate inwith friends and loved ones while also making plans on how I want to see the next year develop. I’m always in awe when I see just how much we’ve accomplished in a year but I truly believe it’s because we make a plan, set goals and work together to achieve those goals. Even if it’s as little as taking a trip to the beach or planning a destination wedding, if you “fail to plan” then you “plan to fail”. We have two weeks before Christmas and I’m making a plan to not overspend on 🎄 🎁. I’ll let you know in the next episode how well I do 😅

Christmas lights at the LV Zoo

One response to “Rollercoaster 🎢 of Love 💕”

  1. Great blog! I loved the story—very descriptive. I could picture in my mind all the moments.

    Love the ending, about being grateful and perspective!

    One question: why the “weary soul” you mentioned?

    Keep them coming! Very interesting…👍👊


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