what I did on my summer vacation

almost every summer, it seems I take a [usually unintentional] break from blogging. being married to a teacher means that my life and my calendar revolve around the school year. we are lucky to have short breaks throughout the year, but summer is the time when we travel the most.

and when I'm in Tokyo -- I'd rather spend my time exploring adorable alleys and stunning shrines than sitting in front of a computer screen. when I am with my family and friends -- I want to soak up every conversation, every glass of wine, every trip to the beach or board game or whatever activity we have planned.

so the memories pile up over the months. and when I come home to Taiwan, I unpack them along with the instant photos and the new can opener, a gluten free pretzel stash and that little bit of Lake Michigan sand you can never get out of the bottom of your bag.

here's what I did on my summer vacation...

I played host to my sister-in-law and twin nephews. they came to visit us in Taipei, and we had a great time showing them around. it's always nice to have family visit and give them a chance to see what our life is like here. the boys had never traveled internationally before and they were amazing in dealing with all the culture shock.

as a bonus to their visit, we all flew up to Tokyo for a week. we spent 3 days at Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea [amazing!] and the rest exploring the city. we had a few mishaps along the way -- but our guests were troopers. most of our time was spent wandering through the alleys of Asakusa, exploring the Senso-ji Temple and Imado Shrine [which was full of cats!] and of course we had to nerd out at the Pokémon Center.

when our visitors flew back to Chicago... I got on the flight with them. originally I had planned to stay in Taiwan for the summer. but my Dad concocted a plan to get me home, and I was able to [by a very roundabout route] meet up with my parents and surprise my sister and nephews when they arrived.

I spent a week with my family on the west coast of Michigan. we hiked at the state park, looked for petosky stones on the beach, shopped at farmers markets and went to local concerts. on 4th of July there is a huge parade in town. we watched from my Aunt's house and then stayed up late to see the fireworks over the lake. we even managed to squeeze in a trip over to my family's cabin to visit our extended family, and the lake where I spent my childhood.

then I drove with my parents back over to the east side of the state. we took a mini road trip up through the "thumb" of Michigan [because if you didn't realize, it's shaped like a hand] to scope out some lighthouses. in the few days before and after, I tried to squeeze in seeing some of my closest friends and eating some tacos. then I hopped the early morning Amtrak to Chicago.

I was able to stay a few days with my cousin, and her husband and newborn daughter. we spent a lot of time in cute coffee shops or wandering her adorable neighborhood, and met up with our other cousin who is also living in Chicago. I also got my fill of cousin/niece snuggles.

before I knew it, though, I was back on a flight to Taipei.

no offense to everyone else, but... my favorite thing about this summer was spending time with my nephews. I was able to see 4 out of 5 of them. being an Aunt is truly an awesome thing. and while my newest nephew [who was 5 weeks old when we met] probably won't remember my visit, I'm hoping the others will treasure our Pokemon discussions, jumping in the pool, photo-taking and game playing as much as I will.

since coming back to Taiwan, it's been a flurry of jetlag and reuniting with old freinds. hopefully, I'll be making some new ones too as this summer's batch of expats arrives. we are working on settling into a schedule as the school year starts back up, getting our routine of cooking and cleaning and gym time and working and fun all organized.

I am planning for that to include a lot more writing and blogging than was accomplished this summer -- as soon as I find a space to put all these photos I brought home 😉
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