Weekly Update

One Heck of a Ride

It’s 5:30 am. Avery is up eating breakfast, I am typing away at my laptop, all while Chad and Alice sleep. 

This life is one I didn’t envision eight years ago. Sure, I hoped to have kids, but like any childless parent, I didn’t understand the logistics of it, or how it would consume and overtake my life. 

And I sure didn’t consider how it would change my relationship with Chad. How our lazy Saturday mornings, sleeping in and walking over to the little French cafe near our downtown apartment for a leisurely brunch, would become a thing of the past. 

I’m writing in our dining room, which is currently full of bags and suitcases for a trip we are taking. The logistics of traveling with kids is complex, a battle plan. These are no longer the days of jetting off to Vancouver with a hastily packed suitcase, to wandering along the ocean after dark, hands clasped, talking about whatever our wine-infused brains wanted. I have contingency plans mapped in my brain: if x happens, we will do y. Puke bags and zofran are packed. Last night I dreamt we took the girls for a hike through snowy mountains and I forgot to have Alice wear pants. She trudged through the snow in a skirt. And then we ran into a delirious hiker who thought she brought water along for the hike, but instead was carrying mouthwash. 

If that dream has a message to tell, it’s that I’m the delirious, mouthwash-toting hiker. 

All this to say, these eight years of marriage have been eight years of exponential growth and change. We transitioned from our twenties, the years of trying what we thought we liked, trying to be who we thought we were, to our thirties.

For me, at least, the thirties have switched from a self-focused lens to more of a meaning-of-life lens. What is the purpose of life? What am I supposed to be doing in this world? Meanwhile, Chad ponders questions like, “What is the best golf course in a 30-mile radius of our house?”

We are very different, and this has brought many fruits to our marriage. Like how Avery and Alice will be good at math, unlike me. While Chad usually excels at getting the girls to bed in 5 minutes tops on his nights, I recently noticed it was taking him much longer than usual. And the girls were so quiet. Was he reading to them? 

I snuck upstairs and found him lying in bed with the girls and drilling them on addition and subtraction problems. Which explains why they now fall asleep so quickly on his nights. 

He forms alliances with the girls when it will be beneficial to his case. He taught them the chant, “What do we want? Ice cream! When do we want it? Now!” to accompany banging on the kitchen table after dinner. 

These days are whirlwinds. Sometimes, I feel like I am running on a hamster wheel. Sprinting. 

I fold endless stacks of laundry, while more stacks appear. I run to target for more dino nuggets, the kind with cauliflower and chickpeas blended in, only to return home and realize I forgot the dish soap, gosh darn it. The third target run I’ve gone on without getting dish soap.

There are RSVPs to be responded to, math homework to supervise, and meals to plan, oh the meals.

I hop off the hamster wheel occasionally, gulping in air, swigging water (or mouthwash), and wondering where I am trying to go, or what I am trying to achieve. 

Some days speed by, while others slug along. 

It is chaos. And organized. And everything in between. 

But there is a groundedness in this chaos of parenthood: I am not in this alone. Chad is working right alongside me to keep life running smoothly, or at least… running, puttering, and maybe stalling, but together. 

So this life? I didn’t imagine it would turn out the way it has. I imagined living out all of my days in Minnesota. I didn’t expect quite so many migraines. I thought I would have my life together by the time I was thirty. 

Instead, it has been one heck of a ride, with one heck of a guy. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Happy Anniversary, Chad!

Weekly Update

What Does an Actuary Actually Do?

Imagine a young version of me with post-breakup short hair. Like, boy short. I was newly graduated from college, had just finished a multiple month stint getting over mono (thanks, ex), and was working at THE Mayo Clinic.

It was a precarious stage of life. I was old enough to have a full time job that dealt heavily on the foggy line between life and death; yet, young enough where I was still trying to establish who I was and what was important. I spent many a day leaving work feeling totally incompetent.

But when I look back, it was the best of times. I lived in a quaint townhome, just a five minute walk from work. It was bright and airy in the spring and summer and warm and cozy in the winter months.

My roommate, Ally and I were close friends. Dinner was sometimes popcorn and sometimes hamburger helper. It wasn’t out of question to be in my pajamas about ready for bed only to be asked to join a group of friends at the strip of bars in downtown Rochester. Oh, the energy I had, back in the day.

Life was near perfect, but it was missing something. Or should I say, someone.

I was encouraged by a friend to create an online dating profile. I’m a rather risk adverse person. It seemed daring. Almost too daring. But, on the other hand, I was already single… so what did I have to lose?

In walks Chad.

I was drawn to his profile by his cute picture, specifically, his smile. He looked like a fun guy and I couldn’t hold it against him that he was from Iowa.

We started messaging.

Well, actually, I messaged him first. My first words to Chad were, “What does an actuary actually do?”

Because, side-note, I thought an actuary took care of birds.

First we messaged back and forth on the website (eHarmony). Then, he gave me his number, prefacing it with, “Well, you don’t seem like some crazy person…”

Such a romantic. Little did he know what he was getting into.

You know how they say you just know when you meet your future spouse? I’d have to agree.

Our first in-person date was at a coffee shop in Rochester, MN.

Being the cautious person I am, I planted an undercover friend at the table directly next to us.

It was a cloudy January afternoon. I shivered on my walk to the coffee shop, but not because it was cold. The nerves of a first date are the worst.

I stepped into the coffee shop, inhaled the smell of espresso and tried to exhale my nerves. My eyes darted around. First, they rested on undercover friend. Check; security covered.

Next, my gaze rested on Chad. His blue eyes were more piercing than I had noted in his dating profile pictures. His smile was just as reassuring.

Conversation was easy. Chad had a calming presence. It was clear he was extremely intelligent, but not in an overbearing or cocky way. Best of all, he was funny.

Our first date was supposed to just be coffee. But it transitioned to checking out a book sale, then, bowling, and finally dinner. As we said goodbye, I knew he was the one.

Chad drove down from Minneapolis to Rochester for a date EVERY WEEKEND. Eventually, I moved to Minneapolis to be closer to him (and my family).

When he proposed, I can’t say I was shocked (because I picked out a ring and told him he needed to propose by April so we could have a Fall wedding.) Also of note… I bought my wedding dress before he proposed. Maybe I’m the cocky one in our relationship.

Our wedding was amazing. When I think about it, I am bombarded with memory clips of a snowy day, walking down the aisle and thinking to myself, “This is the most beautiful scene”. I remember sitting on the altar, listening to one of the readings and tightly grasping Chad’s hand, trying to stop my own hand from shaking.

And I remember dancing. A lot of it. We danced so much that my calves were sore for a week. I literally LIMPED around for the first week of our honeymoon because of my unconditioned legs.

When the night was over, I felt a pang of sadness when I realized this iconic day in our life was done. (Which is why every year I ask Chad if we can do a vow renewal / wedding do over.)

Marrying Chad was easily the best decision I’ve made in life.

He is the most patient person I know; and thank goodness for that, in an estrogen saturated house full of girls and a wife who can get a little feisty and hangry at times.

He is a perfect partner: a great listener, hilarious, patient, and eats the broccoli soup I make despite growing up on a beef farm. He laughs at my jokes and gives the best hugs.

Like parenthood, we didn’t fully understand what we were getting into when we got married.

I am no expert on marriage, but in our 6 years together I have learned:

  • It is always easier to get along when we do fun things together. Furniture shopping, for example, IS NOT FUN. We try to balance out the not funs with funs.
  • Date night is a must, ESPECIALLY after kids.
  • Avoid going to bed mad at each other.
  • Choose humor in the tedious situations that could turn into arguments.

Ok, these are boring. Let me give you the real lessons I’ve learned:

  • It is better to ask the other person if they know how to swim (well) BEFORE you jump out of a boat into the Atlantic ocean. This piece of advice is both literally and figuratively. Sorry, Chad. I am glad you survived our honeymoon.
  • The question, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” sparks the most marital conflicts and should be avoided at all costs.
  • When you got your driver’s license, you thought you were done with the “behind the wheel” lessons. But then you got married and now you have a permanent instructor.
  • “Fine” needs to be re-defined in the dictionary. “A passive aggressive way of insinuating you are thoroughly NOT pleased with the current situation”
  • Do not ever wake a sleeping spouse unless there is blood or someone is actively dying.
  • How to start war: Drink the last refrigerated diet coke and don’t replace it.
  • Buy the remote finder. It will save you years of therapy.
  • Also, HIRE MOVERS.
  • Any question that begins with, “Do you know where my….” implies that you stole it and hid it out of spite. When in reality, it is exactly where they left it last. OR, it was moved it to its correct location. Disclaimer: “correct location” is subject to change. I will not be held responsible for any lost or damaged items.
  • Before marriage, if you watch the TV show “Snapped” you will think the killers are psychotic. 1 month after marriage, you will understand.

All kidding aside, the past 6 years have been the best years of my life. I’ve loved a lot, learned a lot, and hopefully have become a somewhat better person (thanks to my sweet spouse).

Happy Anniversary, Chad Michael. I love you cosmos.


PS- I still don’t understand what actuaries actually do. My basic understanding is this: spreadsheets.

Weekly Update

Reporting Live from: FL

Hi All,

Whenever I write these posts, I have to sift through the pictures from the last week to remind myself what we’ve been up to. Call it mom brain or dementia, but I have very short term memory. Avery asked me the other day, “Mom, why do you always forget things?” Uhhhh, probably because your list of demands is super long.

Ok, I’m not seeing anything too exciting in the pictures. It looks like we went to the beach to watch the sunset last Monday- that was a gorgeous night and the ocean was as calm as a lake. The waves lapped against the shore covered in sea shells, producing the most beautiful sound. Chad found a perfect sea shell and I was jealous. He wasn’t even looking & I’m always psycho Eagle Eyes walking around like a mad woman in search of the perfect shell.

Next, I see we went to the farmers market. It was a much cooler day than the last time we went, so we greatly appreciated that. I made the mistake of giving Alice a sugar cinnamon pretzel, which, kept her quiet the whole time, but resulted in a huge mess.

On further review of pictures, I note that one of the girls stole my phone and documented me, looking fine as wine, eating a cookie. Don’t judge the mess. Or my appearance. I have kids, okay?

Do you like my middle of day wardrobe choice? Bathrobe layered on top of sweats.
A glamorous shot of me telling the kid to put the phone down. I’m still not sure which kid but I’m guessing Avery.

Friday was our 5th wedding anniversary- woot woot! We celebrated with a family dinner followed by ice cream. We missed the sunset as it sets so early now 😦 But made up for it…

On Saturday we went to the beach and watched a stormy and beautiful sunset. We were a bit under-dressed as the wind whipped around and the waves gave us a show. When the sun peeked out for a minute, we had a beautiful view.

A Stormy Sunset

I spent a big chunk of the week working on an article for my Parenting and Travel blog on “Parental Burnout”. I felt pretty burned out from the article by the end, but thankfully posted it last night, so it is officially off my plate. You can read it here.

That’s about all I have to report. Chad’s parents are due to arrive in FL later this week and we could not be more excited!

Sending love,