Weekly Update

Curdled Milk

A few weeks ago, as I was suffering from a case of writers block, I prayed, “Dear God, please help me find things to write about.” And high in heaven, God laughed. I imagine Him shaking His head and saying, “I’ve got you covered.”

For those who are squeamish, consider yourselves forewarned, this update contains bodily fluids.

I love watching the sun set over the beach. It is so peaceful, calm, and everyone on the beach sits in awe. It doesn’t matter if it’s the couple who has lived here for 50 years or the international tourists. As the sun sets and the last few rays disappear, everyone watches, soaking the moment in.

The sunset provides beautiful lighting- and everything looks magical with the orangey glow reflecting off the dark blue water. Awhile back, we watched a sunset at the beach after dinner. We sat on the pavilion to avoid sandy feet, but I was so inspired to bring the family back for a picnic dinner and then a swim during a sunset. In my head, it sounded so lovely. So picture perfect. So calm and peaceful.

And so, Chad and I decided to make the magic happen. Last Saturday we packed up what felt like all of our belongings, wrangled the girls into their swimsuits and brought them to Fort Myers beach. We had just survived the stomach flu and we were excited that the girls were healthy and we could finally get out of the house and do something fun.

Things were going well. I was feeling good about our dreamy sunset swim after a relaxing dinner.

After swimming for a while, we realized the girls would need dinner prior to sunset so we decided to go to a restaurant on the ocean where we could watch the sunset from our table. It was not the swimming during sunset I had conjured in my mind, but it would do. “No problem,” I thought to myself, “I’m a parent… I’m used to these compromises.”

We were seated at a nice table at a restaurant with a beautiful view of the pending sunset. The girls were whiney but such is life. As we waited for our food, I ordered the girls milk to drink. Because I’m a good mom who is going to prevent osteoporosis in her children by feeding them tons of calcium. The girls drank their milk (and whined) while Chad and I tried to carry a civilized conversation. It felt like the food took forever, but it finally arrived.

I attempted to move Alice, who was sitting on my lap, to her own chair. But she kept whining and being clingy. Then she uttered a phrase that made me freeze dead in my tracks, “I have to pee.” If you read last week’s post you will know exactly what is being referenced here. My brain went into a combination of denial and trying to make calculations as only a mom brain can: should I rush her to the bathroom? Should I just catch it in an empty water glass on the table? Or maybe just with a napkin? All those thoughts crossed my mind in the 0.00025 seconds before she projectile vomited curdled milk EVERYWHERE.

My jaw dropped. Everything started moving in slow motion. Our sweet waiter had just arrived to check on our food and witnessed the whole event. “I am so sorry,” I gasped as I picked my puke cover child up and placed her on a chair in attempt to clean up what I could. Our waitress was so kind and said, “Oh don’t worry about it. The milk she drank probably curdled. That’s why I don’t like to give kids milk at outdoor restaurants. My daughter does the same thing.” “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy didn’t you warn us?” I wanted to ask. But there was no time to continue the conversation, because Mount Alice erupted again, covering a whole new trajectory with curdled milk vomit.

Chad watched in horror. “Get her out of here!” he whispered in a panicked voice. And so I did what any parent would do. I picked up my puke covered child and ran out of the restaurant, unsure when the volcano would erupt next, leaving Chad to deal with the puke, our waiter, and Avery.

Luckily she only puked twice. This is now Avery’s favorite story to tell anyone who will listen: “My stitster (can’t pronounce sister) PUKED at the restaurant.” Everyone who hears the story takes 10 steps back until I’ve reassured them that the stomach bug is long gone… we think.

Aside from this traumatic event, it has been a pretty quiet week. Next week’s update will be a little late since we will be in MN at Amelia’s wedding through Sunday.

Sending love to all,


Weekly Update

Week 5 update: Frogs & Vomit

It is hard to believe we are over a month into this Florida stay. When talking to my Mom on the phone the other night, she asked, “Does it feel like home yet?”

We are at the “we feel comfortable and can relax here” stage of adjusting to our new place but it doesn’t feel homey quite yet. I created an infographic to show where we are in the process. I’d say we are right between stage 2 and stage 3.

This week was spent readjusting to being back in our Estero place after spending last week in Palm Beach, FL. As we were settling in, Avery and Alice were playing with their blocks. Avery came over and reported, “Mom, there is a frog in our block box.” She tends to be a bit over dramatic and anytime she sees a black piece of fuzz, she freaks out and tells me we have an ant in the house. With this, I never take any insect/animal reports from her too seriously.

Anyway, I went to check out the situation because I am a good mom. Initially, it looked like a turd on the block box lid. And I was about to ask who pooped in the block box when I noticed that the turd had beady eyes that were staring at me. What happened next can best be described as chaos as Chad and the girls panicked that the frog was going to escape the box and live in our house forever. Due to my training in emergency situations, I was able to calmly carry the lid outside and thankfully the frog did not hop off until we were outside.

the frog/toad….looking guilty

We went to the Children’s Museum in Naples, FL. The museum was incredible. It was built off of a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) thought process and incorporated a lot of science and creative thinking activities. The girls favorite part was a fake orchard/ garden they had, where they could transport the picked food to the grocery store, where they could pretend to buy the food and take it over to the restaurant where they could cook and serve it. We spent a whopping FOUR HOURS there. I would highly recommend it to anyone in the Naples area with kids.

We played our weekly round of mini golf. I’d like to report that I got a hole in one (accidental) and at one point in the round I was beating Chad (on the 2nd hole). There was a fake gorilla on the course that Alice was terrified of and refused to pose for a picture with it. After our game, we went to the beach on a whim to watch the sunset. It was beautiful.

Sunset at the Beach

A few days later, Alice caught a stomach bug similar to one Avery had 2 weeks ago. It was the dreaded middle of the night wakeup, where I found Alice sitting in bed, covered in vomit, reporting “I peed”. Because, hey- if you’ve ever puked before it kind of is like peeing… out of your mouth…with chunks. So I spent the night in Alice’s room, bolting out of bed every time she uttered the words “I need to pee in the bucket.” I’ve never been so terrified of pee.

I’m experiencing a bit of cabin fever after spending 2 days inside with the sick kid. Today we ventured to target, which was glorious. The girls are obsessed with the large red balls outside Target. Every time we get there, they yell, “Mom, can we touch two balls?” And then I internally laugh. Last time we were there, one of the girls said, “Mom, these balls are so HOT!”

I’ll end on that note.



Parenting Simulation Activities

So, you’re pregnant. Congrats! Now what? Here is a comprehensive list of activities you can do to practice parenting skills:

  1. Get up every two hours at night. Pull your boob out of your shirt or mix a bottle of formula. Watch horrible TV for 20 minutes while feeding your imaginary baby. Put baby back to bed. 3 minutes later, get out of bed. Try to sooth imaginary baby. Repeat x 20.   
  2. Rub melted chocolate into half of your baby outfits. Attempt to get the stain out. *In this simulation you are not allowed to eat the chocolate off of the outfit. That would be a fatal mistake in the real parenting world.
  3. Practice feeding baby food to a rock. Or a rabid dog. Both would be similar to what you will experience.
  4. Have someone scatter goldfish across your floor every day. Make sure they put them all over the house and in obscure locations. Then step on them or rub them into the carpet.
  5. When you go grocery shopping, throw one item out of your cart every 30 seconds. Pick it up. Put it back in cart. Repeat.
  6. Take $1,500 and throw it in the garbage. That’s to simulate paying for diapers.
  7. While eating dinner, wait 5 minutes between every bite of food you take. Sometimes for fun you can take 1 bite, pause for 30 minutes, and then return to your meal. At this point you can take 5 bites. But then your imaginary baby will wake up. Throw the rest of your meal away.
  8. Take a class on negotiating with terrorists.
  9. Have someone ask you the same question over and over for one hour straight.
  10. Before you leave the house, run up and down your stairs 10 times. Spend 10 minutes searching for a “lost” item. Put a coat on your cat. Try to herd the cat into the car. Once cat is in car, attempt to buckle into the car seat.
  11. Do laundry for your entire neighborhood.
  12. Bring a puppy to a restaurant. Make it sit in the high chair for the entire meal.
  13. Have someone interrupt every sentence you speak for the next 5 years.
  14. Sit in a rocking chair and rock for 24 hours straight. This will simulate length of time it takes to get baby to sleep and keep them asleep.
  15. Stop using half of your dishwasher to simulate amount of space required for baby bottles and baby things.
  16. Have hide 50 pacifiers throughout the house. Set an alarm for 3am. When it goes off, you must find one of the pacifiers in the dark. Alarms should also be set for 4am, 4:20am, 5am, and 6am. You must find a different pacifier at each of these time points.
  17. Every time you take a picture (of a person, place or thing), say “smile!” (while obnoxiously smiling yourself) at least 15 times before each picture. Take at least 100 pictures to try to capture one where your desired object is smiling.
  18. Shake a whole box of lucky charms into your car- make sure to get in the crevices.
  19. Sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” every time you are in the car for the whole car ride.
  20. Have someone respond “No” to you every time you ask them a question.  

I’d love to hear your own ideas!



The Psychological Impact of Spending Too Much Time with Illogical Humans

Stay at Home Parenting, Part 1: Psychological impact of spending too much time with illogical humans

As a working mom, I had the utmost respect for stay at home moms because as I liked to put it, “I think I would go psychotic.” I have to give my working self kudos, because I hit the nail on the head. Two months into this gig, I’m about psychotic.

Stay at home parenting is funny, because it doesn’t fully hit you until months (or years?) until you’re into it. It has a building effect. 1st week of stay at home parenting: “Look how cute they are listening to stories.” 4th week of stay at home parenting: “There is too much crime in this paw patrol city. Mayor Goodway needs to up her game.” 5th week of stay at home parenting: “Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy does Paw Patrol exist?”

First week of staying at home, I gushed to Chad, “It’s so easy. Now I don’t have to cram cleaning the house and giving the kids attention into 3 hours of a day, after a full day of work.” And certainly, I had a point there. The house is cleaner; and, I have endless time to spend with the children.

The difference between being a working mom and a stay at home mom is more of an emotional/psychological difference than anything else. You have both the benefit and the disadvantage of a full day to spend with your children.

When I worked, I had a built in group of friends/ adults who I got to interact with 8 hours a day, 4 days a week. I was able to use my brain to think about complex topics and problem solve on a high level. I was thanked for my work. We had adult conversations! I didn’t have to run around at lunch time, negotiating a meal that would satisfy the cheese stick only child, picking up food off the floor and wiping messy hands. Most importantly, I got to drink my coffee in peace and didn’t have to talk to anyone until I had consumed a full mug.

Now I interact with extremely emotional children who are completely illogical. My brain cells are now used to calculate avoidance of tantrums. My creativity is used to devise a plan to put a diaper on a running 2 year old as she yells, “Naked baby!” I serve as a referee between illogical arguments:

Child 1: “She’s my mommy!”
Child 2: “Nooooo! She’s my mommy”
Me: “I’m not sure how to explain this without going into too much detail, but it is possible for a female to mother two children. She has plenty of eggs.”
Child 1: “Can we have eggs for breakfast?”  
Me: thinks to self, “argument averted, self high five!”

I answer endless why questions:

Child: “Mom, why won’t the bug in the pool hurt me?”
Me: “Because it’s dead”
Child: “But why is it dead?”
Me: “Because bugs can’t survive in the water”
Child terrorist (chanting): “Bugs can’t survive in water. Bugs can’t survive in water. Bugs can’t survive in water!”

Then child sees a water bug. All hell breaks loose because BUGS CAN’T SURVIVE IN WATER. Or can they?

My initial goal as a stay at home mom was to raise well-adjusted children who don’t need to see a therapist in their adult years due to poor parenting. I wanted them to be smart, have good manners, and treat others kindly and with respect.

My goals now: Maintain sanity. Survival of self and children.

In spending such vast amounts of time with these young children, their illogical behavior has begun to rub off on me. I’ve changed my parenting tactics and they are aimed at survival only. Favorite lies I’ve told my children to encourage good behavior:

  1. “If you don’t brush your teeth, they will fall out. Then you won’t have any teeth. Then you won’t be able to eat.” This has backfired a few times when the kids were exhausted, needed to go to bed immediately and I tried to skip teeth brushing. It triggered a full blown meltdown: “But I don’t want my teeth to fall outttttttttt!!!”
  2. “If a car runs over you, you will be squished like a pancake and I will have to eat you.” (got this gem from my Dad, works wonders in parking lots)
  3. “Alligators can hear whiny children and they will come eat you. You better stop whining so they can’t find you.” They are legit terrified by this one. It is especially great if the doorbell rings when they are whining because then I can say, “Uh oh, I think the alligator is here.” It shuts down the whining real quick.

Certainly, being a working mom had its own set of difficulties, and that could be an entirely different blog post. So often, “working mom” vs. “stay at home mom” are compared as if one is better than the other. Having lived both realities, I’m learning that one is not superior to the other. Each has its own difficulties. Each has its own joys. But maybe more importantly, in each reality, the kids will turn out okay. And maybe I will too.




Out of Place

It was my turn to pick out a dinner spot. I did my due diligence and yelped the heck out of our options. I picked a French restaurant that was very well reviewed and off we headed.

Chad and I have very different styles of making decisions. I spend about 2 minutes in total researching different options and then I go with my best educated guess. Chad spends weeks, months, if not YEARS, researching different options, reading extensive reviews, talking to people, and trying things out. We noticed this difference very quickly when we renovated our first home together, just months into our marriage. On the record, I will not say that one style is better than the other. But off the record, I would concede and say that Chad’s style always ends in better results. I’m just too lazy to do the full amount of work that he puts into decision making.

The first sign that my restaurant choice may not have been the best is when the host asked “Can I help you?” Well obviously, we came for dinner. My eyes darted around the restaurant. Oh no. White tablecloths. Candles. Wine glasses already on tables. The restaurant was full, but it was so….how do I best put this? QUIET. My gaze returned to our motley crew. Chad per usual was in golf attire, I was in my obnoxiously pink leggings and a running top, and best of all, Avery was wearing her T-shirt that has a puppy and kitty wearing sun glasses. (Alice actually looked decent).

The host sullenly led us to a table. After we were seated, Chad shot me “the look”. He had a crazy look in his eyes and his mouth twitched as he tried to suppress a smile. This is the same look he gave me when I set up an interview for a nanny potential at our home; shortly after she arrived we learned that she was homeless. My bad.

It was a stressful meal. Of course there was no kids menu at this classy place, and definitely no crayons and paper. Alice took off her diaper so casually that I didn’t figure it out until I saw a wet diaper sitting next to me. She contributed to conversation with, “ ‘Scuse me, I burped” and “WHY IS THERE A SPIDER IN HERE?” in her yelling voice. The waiter wondered if the (super nice) water glasses would be appropriate for the girls? I confirmed that unless he liked cleaning up broken glass, this would be a bad idea. The girls feasted on a caprese salad (the closest thing to a kid friendly meal they had). And by feasted, I mean, they ate all the tomatoes and decided they didn’t like the rest. I supplemented the rest of the meal with the orange tic tacs I keep in my bag for emergency situations such as these.

If you’ve ever moved, changed jobs, or experienced a first day at a new school, you have probably experienced a similar moment. It’s that feeling of, “I am so out of place here”. It is never a fun feeling to experience, but I’ve found that it usually means I am on the right track to adjusting. To feel “in place” or like “these are my people” we have to jump out of our comfort zones and try new things. It may not immediately lead us to a feeling of belonging, but it will bring us a step closer.

Here is to trying new things, stepping out of your comfort zone, and finding your spot. May you find your people and your places. May you have the humor to laugh off the awkward moments and the grace to be kind to others when they might be experiencing such a moment.

And for now, we will be dining at McDonalds- the ones with a happy place.




Run, Forrest!

I went on my first run in Florida. My motivation to head out the door was the exact same as in our MN days. The girls were grumpy and I needed a break. I laced up my shoes and snuck out of the house, leaving Chad in charge of our children who I lovingly refer to as “the terrorists”.

Before I continue my story, I’d like to clarify that I did let Chad know that I would be going on a run. I didn’t sneak out without informing him. That would be unkind, although I have strongly considered it on many occasions.

I was expecting the heat to be unbearable and the run to feel miserable due to my lack of consistent exercise in the month leading up to our move. As I slowly but surely began the first leg of my run, my mind flashed back to my last Minnesota run. I remembered soaking up the views of pine trees and enjoying the characteristically cool weather that I knew I wouldn’t have in Florida. I remember the pit in my stomach as I wondered whether this (moving) was a really stupid idea. But as I finished that last Minnesota run, I remember feeling peace. Or maybe acceptance. Or maybe I was just too dang tired to feel anything else but okay with what we were doing.

And just like then, I felt okay now. I soaked in the tropical beauty of Florida. I enjoyed the sunny weather. The sweat. The endorphins. And the knowledge that I could eat double dessert tonight without feeling guilty. I warily eyed the ponds I ran next to, expecting an alligator to jump out at any minute. I thought about what I would do if I was attacked by an alligator. If he got one leg, should I tourniquet it and hop off on my remaining leg? Nah, I was too tired. I would just let the gator win and finally rest in peace for the first time since having kids.

Our time in Florida is off to a good start! The girls are needing some time to adjust- they’ve been pretty grumpy and are requiring more sleep since getting here. We have made it to either the beach or pool every day (minus one when Avery had a fever) and are starting to meet the people in our gated community. We are by far the youngest people- but everyone is very sweet and seem to be enjoying having some cute (terrorist) kids around.

Hurricane Dorian hasn’t really impacted where we are living. A few businesses boarded up, but the only thing we’ve noticed is a bit more rain. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the Bahamas who got pummeled by the storm.

Sending love to all back home,



Blog Post #1

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

I’d like to preface this post with a huge thank you to all the family and friends who pitched in to help us make this move a reality. We could not have done it without you. You reminded us just how loved we are (and how sad we are to be moving away).

It simultaneously feels like just a few weeks ago and years ago that we made the decision to move. We packed a lot of things into a short space of time- prepping the house for sale, listing, packing and moving. In retrospect, what we did was slightly crazy. But at the same time, maybe we are moving at the same pace we always have. 

I smile when I think of the memory of agreeing to marry almost forcing strongly encouraging Chad to propose after a little over a year of dating.  Planning a wedding in 7 months. Finding out we were pregnant a week after returning from our honeymoon, on the same day we finalized an offer on our first home. Welcoming Alice Jane less than 2 years after welcoming Avery Marie.  Maybe this is just our pace. 

I’d like to report that we safely made it to our new home in Estero, FL. Chad and I drove our cars from MN to FL over 3 days while Chad’s parents graciously watched Avery and Alice. I was surprised to learn that I love road trips (without children). The drive had a very calming effect, especially after our harried last days of cleaning the MN house and preparing for closing. 

Florida greeted us with its heat and humidity (felt like 101 degrees with 71% humidity on day of arrival) and my hair responded appropriately.  Endless frizz. After arriving in FL on Monday, I boarded a plane back to Iowa on Tuesday to pick up the girls. I was tired, but at least I wasn’t driving. I spent a quick night in Iowa and then flew back to Florida with girls in tow on Wednesday morning (imagine, 6am flight with 2 and 4 year old). 

I expected that the flight with the girls would be painful. 1) They’ve had a boatload of change over the last month, but especially within the last week. 2) We had to get up at 3:30am. 3) I was traveling solo with them (no Chad backup).  The flight involved some bribery with gummies and tablets. We experienced a few tantrums, with one per usual being on the airport bathroom floor (by the regular culprit). Alice developed a fever while on the plane. But all in all, it was much smoother than expected. 

We made it to the beach on Wednesday night after a seafood dinner. As the sun began to set we watched the girls splash around & our hearts felt full. We brought two sandy, sleepy girls home and tucked them into their new beds. 

More to come soon,


PS. Yes, we’ve filled our gas tanks, stocked up on water and canned food.  Crossing our fingers that hurricane Dorian disappears. Or something like that.