So this is the day, the day when our kids take the first step towards learning english. It's scary enough for us parents to leave our kids alone in a classroom where there is no one that understands them, and I can't even imagine how it must have felt for our kids!
But first let me tell you about our preparations.

Starting school in a Miami was a whole lot more work compared to starting school back home. Much of it is of course due to the fact that we need to get the kids in to a new "government" system, which we don't need to back home because they have been slowly emerged in to the system since the day they were borne. First of, we needed a physical examination of the kids plus all the vaccines they needed (even if they have all the shots needed it has to be put in to the computer system), and it needed to be done this week! I thought that this would be an easy thing, and I was half right!
The procedure was easy, finding the "right" hospital was not. There was no answer when calling phone number we got from the school for booking vaccinations for the kids. So I called the state hospital to try and get some help, but the answer I got from them was to just keep on trying the first number I got. After 50 attempts over 3 h with no answer I gave up! Luckily we had just got enrolled to a health insurance plan via Evas job so I figured that if I could only get hold of a hospital connected to that insurance plan then they should be able to help us. We had all the papers from people first, sweet this should be a piece of cake! 2 h later I realized that It's not!
As it turned out peoples first is not a provider of the actual insurances, which wasn't really clear for an outsider. Our insurance was through Florida Blue, but I hadn't yet got any numbers from them so I couldn't log in to there page to find what hospitals that are connected to the insurance. Gaaaaa!!!
Instead I had to navigate automated help desks like a ninja to finally get to an actual human being that could help me find a hospital! Great I have a hospital to call! Wohooo!
We were able to booked a time for the kids the same week. Sweet! Once at the hospital everything went really smooth. We had all the journals from Sweden with all the vaccines the kid have. The physical was no problem but when we found out that My needed 2 vaccine shots and Petter 3, the kids started to get a little anxious. The nurse was however great and fast so it was all over before the kids really knew what happened. 2 h after we arrived to the hospital we were done!

We now had all the documents needed so the next day after the vaccination we were hanging on the door to school to enroll. The documents needed was,
- Mys complete school history, since shes the only one who's been in school
- Passports for the whole family
- One electrical bill to the address in the Hammocks
- The lease for the apartment
- The physical exam from the doctor
- The vaccination papers from the doctor
- The 6 documents/kid we got from the school to fill in!

Since we had all the documents the enrollment went pretty fast! My was to start the third grade, she was simply put with kids her own age. Petter was put in Kindergarten despite that in the American system, age vise, he should have been in first grade. This was due to the fact that we had no documents that he had past kindergarten (which he hadn't) and since kindergarten is mandatory to pass in Miami he was put there. It was no big deal for us, or him, since it will probably be the best place for him to learn English anyway.

So we're done, can the kids start school now! Well yes, you just have to open your wallet first!

Oliver Hoover has, like many other schools in America, a school uniform. They have to wear a school polo on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. A school t-shirt on Wednesday and a yellow school t-shirt on field trips, and then there was a bunch of regulations on the pants, shorts and skirts to be worn. We ended up with 3 polos/kid, 2 t-shirts/kid and 4 bottoms/kid. So are we done? NO!
Now it was time for the school supplies, all the disposable material each kid needs for the whole year in Miami they have to buy and bring them self. And that was no short list! And then there was a list for donations to each school!
Before we knew it we had spent $400 on school material! There wasn't any use whining about it since we didn't really have an option if we wanted to put the kids in school, but I must say that it was an bigger expense than we had anticipated!

Finally we where ready for school and the kids had their first day today! They both took it really well even though they didn't like being left alone in a classroom with no one whom could understand them. It's going to be a tough first week with a lot of tears and hard work for the kids. All me and Eva can do now is to give them all the love and support we can so that they have the energy and curragh needed to get through this and also start enjoying it!

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After one month at the Flamingo, exploring south beach, we have now entered the second face of our adventure. While south beach was nice it all felt more like a holiday resort than a place where people actually live (yes I know that some normal people also live there, but you know what I mean). We wanted a more quiet area where we didn't have to be worried that the kids would be run over by a car or get lost. We also a place where "normal" people live so that we might be able to be a part of the American society and get a feel of what thats really like.
After some googling and talking to people our choice fell on the Hammocks, or more precise Cascades at the Hammocks. It seems like a good area with a good school and we got a ok price on a 2 bed room/ 2 bathroom apartment at ground level near the community pool, which is what we wanted.
Hammocks is located in West Kendall which has a LOT of hispanics which made us hesitate at first because we think that learning two languages might be to much for the kids. But after talking to people and now lived here for a couples of days we have learned that all kids speak both English and Spanish, and that English really is the preferred language among the local kids. The grownups is a different story but since that won't really effect our kids we don't see it as a problem.

We have now lived here at the Hammocks for almost a week and we just love it! We have a pool, a walkway around the lake and it's close to the supermarket! Life is good right now! 🏊 β˜€οΈπŸ˜ŽπŸ€˜πŸ»

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X-treme rock climbing is not what you go to miami for. But since Eva is still an active climber and we both still enjoy the lifestyle we just had to pay a visit to the local climbing gym. Judging by the size of the gym climbing is not big in miami, and thats not so strange since is crazy hot and totally flat! But still, climbing is a good way of working out and indoor climbing has really evolved to it's own beast with amazing indoor gyms popping up here and there. And here we are, in a city that is swarming with hipsters, surfers, tree huggers and crazy well trained people whom throw them self at the first best reason to take there top of and almost none of them has realized that indoor climbing is there sole purpose in life. Strange!
Never the less, they have a climbing gym. And it's ok! Compared to having no gym it's in fact amazing!
They have ~10 m high rope walls with different amounts of over hang and the ability to lead. They have a boulder area and they have a "gym" area. Basically all you need to become a really good climber or if you just want to stay fit and enjoy your self.

The gym was not super easy to find since they didn't have the biggest sign, but just turning in to the parking lot we knew we where at the right place. Because just as certain as you can be that there is a guy with a guitar and a wooden neckless if you go to a surfer place, you can always find a climbing mobile at a climbing place. If you're a climber you know what I'm talking about, that cheep old car macgyverd into some kind of mobile home. It's always a dead giveaway that there is climbers in the area!🀘🏻

The gym had really friendly people running it and since Eva and the kids enjoyed it, we will most definitively be back for some more climbing!

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Time for another adventure! This time we went to the miami seaquarium to see some dolphins and killer whales!
The miami seaquarium is located on beautiful island of Virginia key, just driving over there was worth it because of the beautiful view of the ocean and Miamis costal line.
Once at the seaquarium we bought yet another annual pass because we thought this was a place we would want to visit again, and as it turned out we where right about that. The place was awesome and the kids loved it!
When entering the complex you get a map and a schedule for the day. The shows are ok with a lot of great information about the animals and how to help protect and preserve them. Animals in captivity is of course never the ideal situation, but here they at least seems to genuinely care about the animals and are working to make the world a better place which we gladly would like to support!
The shows are scheduled so that you have time to eat, drink or se some other animals in between shows.
We where there when they opened and that was a smart move because there was not that much visitors at that time so it wasn't that crowded. At 2 pm when we where ready to go home the place was really crowded, which made it harder for the kids to see all the animals. And we got great seats for all the shows we attended. We got to see manatees, stingrays, sharks, penguins, sea lions, seals, dolphins defying the laws of gravity and of course the killer whale to name a few. The killer whale being the most awesome one to see, it's truly an amazing animal!

One thing we didn't do was to swim with the dolphins which is just a must while we are here in miami, so we will definitely return ant that time with our swimming clothes!

If your ever in miami and want to see some great animals, this is a must to visit! You won't regret it! ❀️

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If you like street art then this is definitely the place to go! Is basically a place where the worlds best street artists have gone bananas, it's a truly amazing place to stroll around in! Visit thewynwoodwalls.com/overview for more in depth information.

Trends is a really mysterious thing. The difference between whats hot and whats not can some times be so small that really hard to tell them apart. Wynwood walls is a true testament to that! It's an isolated area in the middle of a "ghetto" area where the line between filthy rich hipsters and homeless people are razor sharp. Sure you have that on other places also, but here it doesn't really show on the buildings. Instead you see it on the street art when you drive in and out, suddenly it starts going from your normal "tags" and graffiti to fully painted buildings where the artists haven't had to do the work it in the cover of darkness. But the buildings still look kinda the same on the outside but I'm guessing that very few "normal" people would afford to live within the Wynwood wall area and on the other side of the street very few people would want to live. It really goes from Bugatti cars to people living in shopping carts in just a few meters! The trend is apparently to live ghettoish. Ghetto living with only filthy rich neighbors with top notch apartments and a fancy cars, close to expensive restaurants and exclusive night clubs. I'm guessing its the same people that climb mountains in helicopters with mini bars! πŸ€”πŸ˜‰

Newer the less Wynwood walls is definitely one of those "must visit" places if you're ever in Miami!

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One of the places begging to be visited if you live on south beach here in Miami is Jungle Island! Easy to get to, and it seems to have lots to look at. So of we went!

When arriving we were faced with the decision of paying a one day pass for the family for ~$140 or an annual pass for the whole family for ~$220. We eventually chose the later because it might be a nice activity for the days to come since its so close to where we live.

Once in the park we were impressed by the junglie feeling the park had. There were lots of green, wild animals and parrots, all together a nice environment.

A lot of the animals seem to have a good time living on Jungle Island, especially the really wild ones. Unfortunately the bigger the animal got the worse they seems to have it, there just wasn't enough room in the cages. As a viewer you got a really good view of all animals, because they simply didn't have anywhere to go. It was indeed mixed feelings seeing the mighty lion, cheetah, alligators and big monkeys. It was awesome seeing them but we didn't really feel the joy we had hoped for when seeing the small cages these impressive animals have to live out there final days in...

Don't thing well be back even though we unfortunately got an annual pass.

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I have heard that "getting around in Miami is not an easy task if you don't have a car", and now having tried it i must say that its only partly true. There are great public transportations for a good price, the only thing is that it takes forever! A 30 min car ride can easily be 2,5 h with the buss. So if you have the time and are really low on cash you can still get around, but if you don't have the time or don't want to spend your days on the buss then its time to open up the wallet and get a car!

And how do you do that as a American wannabe?

The first thing you need if you want to buy a car is a Florida drivers license, for me that meant that I hade to go to the nearest DMV office. Once at the DMV a was placed in line nr. 1. At the end of that line I had to show them my Passport and Visa, my visa application, my drivers license(Swedish), my rental agreement (as a proof of address).
After that was done it was time for line nr. 2. Here I got my picture taken and I hade to do my signature for the license. I then got assigned to a computer to do the written exam, it was a multiple choice test with 50 questions in one hour and I had to have 40 correct answers to pass. I really hope I got an easy test because I already had a Swedish license and that new drivers get tested more thoroughly, because this was really really basic. Once that was completed it was of to line nr. 3 to get the test confirmed. Once confirmed I was assigned to line nr. 4 to do the driving test. Once again I was amazed by how little driving knowledge I was tested on. It was basically a drive around the parking lot were I got to park and do a three point turn followed by a drive around the closest neighborhood. It was all over in 5 min. Then of to line nr. 6 to get it confirmed so that I could get a number and stand line nr. 7 where I payed the $48 for all the days activities and received my temporary drivers license. The real one would be posted to me, and it would take up to 60 days. Wohoo, I made it!!!

So to summarize the drivers license experience:
- A lot of standing in line
- Despite the never ending standing in lines thing, quite convenient that you could get it all done unannounced in just one day.
- Cheap, $48 for a drivers license is really good.

Now it was time for some car shopping! If you want to buy a car from a private person theres a lot of paper work you need to know about, I found that DMV.com was a grate resources of information and tips. To make it easy for us we went to Carmax, which was recommended to us by many people because the risk of buying a "bad" car is really low there. They had nice cars but they were really expensive! We was looking for a cheap car to get us from A--> B for a year so spending $10k felt a little hefty, especially after learning that on top of the price for the car there is a dealers fee (~$1000), a tag fee (~$500), and titel transfer fee and sales tax.
So we ended up scouting craigs list instead, which was a pain as well. In the price range we were looking, $2000-$3000, there was more scams than real cars for sale. Since we were in America we (I) thought that we must drive an American car. I have always liked the look of a PT cruiser and the size was just about right for our needs this year so I narrowed our search for that type of car. We finally found the next best thing, a Chevrolet HHR! Luckily for us the person was a car dealer that didn't charge the dealer fee, so we got help with all the paperwork which was really nice. He was asking $2600 for the car and after the tag and title fees we landed on $3240 which felt ok!
What didn't feel ok was the insurance I had to pay for the car. I contacted Infinity insurance and the cost for one year, with almost only the basics, landed on $2500!!! That's insane! Apparently a big factor is that i just received my license, even though I've been driving for 22 years in Sweden. Eva has some benefits through here job and there are some other insurance company's to contact so this is something we will have to look in to once Eva starts working.

In the mean time we just have to accept the fact that we chose time over money, and be happy that we had the ability to do so. Now when this adventure is over we will have memories of more than the insides of buses! 😊

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We have now been exploring south Miami beach, it's a really beautiful place with much to see. Unfortunately for us it's really hot outside, so the kids don't have the energy to walk long distances. Luckily there is an easy solution, hoverboards!

With this awesome contraptions our kids have no problems keeping up with us and we have been able to enjoy long strolls without the constant nag of "are we there yet?". :-)

We can strongly recommend Lincon Rd.

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The day started at 04:15, the reason was that we now lived in Husum instead of UmeΓ₯ so that the house would be clean for the new tenants. Just transporting all the luggage was a pain cause it wouldn't fit in just one car. Luckily my wonderful parents got up in that early hour and gave us a lift to the airport. We were able to check in all the luggage directly from umeΓ₯ to Fort Lauderdale, a great advantage when using the same company for both flights.

We arrived at Arlanda at 09:15 and our connecting flight to fort Lauderdale wasn't until 14:55 so we had some time to kill. When we planed the trip it felt ok because we would have to walk from the domestic terminal to the international terminal and pass yet another security point and we figured that would take at least one hour. Then doing some window shopping, eating, and passing the last two security points would take up all the remaining time.
However, when we landed at Arlanda the plane was directed to a gate on the international terminal. That way we saved the hassle of passing one security point, the downside was that we had to entertain the kids for one more hour but that felt like a good trade off.

The flight to Miami was our first 10 h flight as a family, and we had no idea how the children would react to being constrained to a seat for that long(more or less). The kids was amazing during the trip, much thanks to the entertainment center on each seat where they had games and movies. The only thing I regret not bringing was more "healthy" snacks for the kids as a backup, because you never know what they will think of the food served and most of the snacks you can by on the plane is basically just sugar.

We landed at 19:00 local time in Miami. It then took us two hours to get through customs!!! INSANE!
Finally in the country we had to decide on transportation to the Flamingo. Since we had to look at some neighborhoods, so we could decide where to live for the rest of the year, and Eva had to go to FIU on Monday, we decided on renting a car for a week. We then faced the same problem as we had going to the airport, how would we fit all the luggage and people in one car? Once again lucky, Evas new boss Sara could meet us at the airport and give Eva and the kids a ride to the flamingo in here car while I took all the luggage in our rental car. The time was now 22:00 local time.
I jumped in my rental and drove out from the airport, thinking like the redneck that I am that I could just pull over to the side of the road and wait for Saras car to pass me and tail here to the Flamingo. Big mistake!!! I was thrown out on the freeway with no idea where I was going and no possibility to stop. Once I found a place to stop I was far from the airport and totally lost. I managed to call Eva and tell her I was lost and that I would meet them at the Flamingo, I just had to google my way there. Google maps came through and delivered me safely to the Flamingo! The rest of my family arrived at the same time with Saras car and 26 h after getting out of bed that morning we were final able to put our heads on the pillow once more, only this time in Miami, Florida! Awesome!!!

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