Empty Nest Shenanigans

Big Adventures

We went on many long vacations with the kids during our family adventures. We ate lobster and went whale watching in Maine and Nova Scotia and we went snorkeling in Pennekamp State Park in the Florida Keys. We saw the glaciers in Canada and we tried surfing on Huntington Beach in California. We had tons of fun and tried to give our kids as many experiences as we could. We tried to take one big vacation each year to utilize the time and as they say, the time flies by so I am glad we were fortunate enough to enjoy all of those family years.

My husband and I have also tried to take advantage of our time as a couple. We were married in 1986 and as any couple have had our good and bad times, but have survived it all. We had gone to Hawaii for our honeymoon. Our philosophy is that couples should not just celebrate their marriage, but the continuing commitment to each other as each anniversary is celebrated. We have celebrated each anniversary and when the kids were home they were always a part of that, but as they got older it was more about us.

We celebrated our 20th anniversary with a two week trip to Alaska without the kids along. We ate blueberry pancakes and ate Reindeer sausage and hiked in Denali National Park and caught Halibut, fishing off of the Kenai Peninsula.   It was fun from the airplane ride over. The stewardess had to tell us all to sit down a couple of times because even though it was a morning flight we were drinking beer in the back of the plane with the fisherman going to Alaska. The stewardess finally told us that this joan_vacationwas a first for her that they ran out of beer on the morning flight. She was probably lying to get us to quiet down but it is those little moments that made it memorable.

We celebrated our 25th anniversary with a trip to Europe. We flew to Iceland and sat in the Blue Lagoon and then off to Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and France. We had a short train ride but we drove most of it. We stayed in a castle one night in Germany, we stayed on a working farm in Austria, and in some amazing but mostly modest hotels. This vacation was very affordable. We ate at smaller local restaurants and saw some of the most amazing historical sites. We practically wore out our shoes walking in Rome and in the European cities, but we were on an adventure together. We had worked together to plan the vacation and we had to work together to read maps and understand our GPS and we had each other to look to and share each new experience. We sometimes drove the wrong way down roads and we laughed and ate the best pizza ever in Italy. We swam in the Mediterranean and we watched the sunset in the Austrian Alps with a glass of wine. It was a shared experience that brought us even closer together. We had worked to keep it affordable and doable within our budget and we have priceless memories that we share.


Now that we are empty-nesters we can engage in adventures and empty nest shenanigans together. When you have kids it is all about them almost all of the time. Once they are gone, it is all about us. We can do what we want, when we want, and we know how to have fun. We do big things but mainly small things every week to celebrate our time together. We have projects around the house that we do together that involves everything from simple painting projects to fixing things and shopping, and when done, we sometimes try the local restaurants or cook together.joan_cabatoba

We stay in contact with friends and family with boating, dinners and biking and enjoy each others company in the simple pleasures of a walk after dinner, or dragging the boat to the Canadian border and navigating the big waters of Kabatogama. We put our adventure pants on and try to be brave in trying new things. We planned that adventure together and worked to ensure we were not lost forever with our novice navigation skills, in the almost uninhabited islands and lakes of Northern Minnesota.

Last Spring we went, as a couple, to Costa Rica – a very affordable, fun vacation spot. We drank costa ricavolcano drinks (a tall fancy glass of pinacolada with a red rim of Grenadine to look like a volcano) while sitting in the hot springs at Arenal volcano. We went on the hanging bridges tours in the rain and cloud forests and saw the monkeys and exotic birds and we went sailing up the Guanacaste coast to go snorkeling and fishing. They make their own Rums in Costa Rica, so need I say more there.

We strive to utilize our time well and keep life fun and light. We cannot afford the big adventures all of the time, but we can engage in Fun Living activities on weeknights, weekends and every year. We have camping reservations for the summer and are planning our BFC (Best friend Couple) weekends. Now that our kids are gone we have made a decision to sell our larger family home and we have moved to a lake home around the Twin City area to take advantage of our love for boating, kayaking, fishing and swimming. Even though we are not yet ready to retire, we can practice ourjoan_lake Fun Living each day, even on weekdays.

We make sure we take time to celebrate. Celebrate life and friends and family. Having a positive attitude and striving for fun in all aspects of our life is the practice of Fun Living. Making each day and life itself fun, takes some planning and shenanigans.  This has been our road-map for Fun Living, but we know we do not have all the answers and would love to hear other ideas and suggestions to further the Fun Living movement!!


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