Categories
parenting

Straight from the Mouth of a 4 Year Old

I thought about writing a flowery post for Alice’s birthday, but that would do us all a disservice. Instead, I invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy Alice’s best quotes of the year:

Alice Advice

“Dad, it’s a little foggy out, so do your best” – to Chad while driving through rain

__________________________

“Drive slow, but be a little fast”

Alice Compliments

These Dino nuggets taste great! Last time you made them, they tasted like markers.

__________________________

After zooming in on a picture of my face “I have hair in my nose too, mom.”

__________________________

Why I have body image issues: “You have a hot dog booty and a pig face and pig legs”

Alice Logic

Alice saw me looking at a picture of newborn babies on Facebook. And she said, “are you gonna buy a baby or adopt a baby?”

__________________________

To her friend: did you know the sun could explode and everyone on earth would die?

__________________________

Me: Mommy is probably a little more grumpy than daddy.

Alice: more like a lot more. 

__________________________

Chad: hey girls, what does that cotton candy look like?

Alice: uh, moms hair?

__________________________

Avery: What’s better than cookies?

Alice: Grandma!

Avery: what’s better than grandma?

Alice: nothing!

__________________________

“If I was going to play hockey, I would go and sit on that spot where they rest (the bench) for the whole game.”

__________________________

“You can never have too much stuff!” 

__________________________

I have two friends named Gracie. One is named Gracie and one is named Gracie.

__________________________

Does anyone know which way your hands are supposed to go?

*Flips hands back and forth.

I like this way (palms down)- it’s my useful hand way.

__________________________

It’s hard to take care of 2 girls without a husband, right mom? (When Chad traveled for 2 days)

__________________________

“Everyone who comes to my birthday has to dress up as a star nose” 

Me: What’s a star nose?

“A kind of mole. And I will dress up as Wonder Woman”

__________________________

“I’m just an ordinary girl” (when explaining why she couldn’t try clam chowder)

__________________________

I can eat when I’m baking because I can eat with one hand and bake with the other. (MY GIRL!)

__________________________

I only have a few cries left, but they are really loud ones

__________________________

Mom! My left eye can’t fall asleep!

__________________________

“I thought it was markers, but now I know it’s my veins” (on the blue vein lines on her arms)

__________________________

An overheard bathroom conversation: “Maybe some of your alveoli dripped into your poop.”

__________________________

Alice: Siri is part of God

Me: No, Siri is not part of god. Why do you think that?

Alice: Because, Siri is always telling us where to go. 

__________________________

Me: Why don’t you put noses on the people you draw?

“Because, I like them that way and they look happier. “

Alice Weirdness

After blowing her nose: “did you see the smoke come out?”

__________________________

“It looks like a dead elephant squirting out his last water.” (Re: what a cloud looked like)

__________________________

“I have a video of her dying in the lava”- about the dead Barbie sister

Alice Anger

Get out of my room before I get to zero! *Speed counts from ten to zero

__________________________ 

“You’re not doing good as a mom if you are making us cry.”

__________________________

I have a case of the mean wiggles. I need someone or something to be mean to!

__________________________

Mad at Chad.

Me: should we put him in jail?

Alice: no! I want to put him in a cage!

__________________________

Go! Get out of here! Never return a-gain!

__________________________

I don’t forget treats. (After I ate her fruit roll-up, thinking she forgot about it)

__________________________

You wasted my time. The teacher said I had to eat all my healthy food before I could eat my cookies. There was too much healthy food!

Alice Learns

Avery: are they teaching you numbers in school?

Alice: no, they just teach us letters and how to use knives.

__________________________

“They are teaching me Spanish at preschool. “Gracias” means hello, and “see you later alligator” means goodbye “

__________________________

When telling me that they didn’t get to play on the playground today: “I wonder if the termites are back.”

__________________________

“China is real?!”

__________________________

“Mom, do people get sick from other people?”

Me: Yes

“Then what made the first person sick?”

__________________________

Church singer: the hand of the Lord will feed you

Alice: the ANT of the Lord??

Alice Cuteness

“When you get to heaven, can you ask God if he can send you back to earth for me?”

__________________________

“Thank you for this beautiful world.” @bedtime prayers 

__________________________

We gotta wait until it smells just like Grandmeres tomatoes (on when to pick a tomato) 

__________________________

Me: do you want French toast?

Alice: only with syrup, I declare 

__________________________

At whiskey tasting before every shot- whispered into my ear: “You’re going to wuv it”

__________________________

What are you doing Alice?

“Causing a ruckus!” 

__________________________

“I’m drawing a picture of our family. Aves, what color human do you want to be?”

__________________________

“Will you still be my mudder when I’m 10?”

__________________________

I’m fast, mom. I’m not a slowpoke junior 

__________________________

Happy Birthday, Alice Jane! We sure love you.

Mama

Categories
Weekly Update

Mountain

I stepped out of the car, inhaled the fresh mountain air, and experienced the tingly joy of the crisp molecules filling each tiny alveoli in my lungs. I surveyed the autumn colors on the trees surrounding the cabin and I heard the unexpectedly loud roar of the water from the creek behind the cabin.

In this moment, despite the global pandemic, a tense election, and depressing news each night, all was right in the world.

When we first drove down to Florida last year, we were surprised and inspired by the beauty of the Appalachian mountains running through Tennessee. I vowed we would return with the girls.

We found a breathtaking spot in the mountains of Northern Georgia; a little town by the name of Helen. This trip was a risk. We decided to make the drive with the girls, which was 10 hours from Florida with good traffic.

I’ve learned from parenting to go into things, especially vacations, with really low expectations. There will be whining. Someone will get carsick and puke. Despite perfect planning, someone won’t be pleased with our choice of activity for the day. And it’s a guaranteed fact that despite being labeled a vacation, it will not be relaxing.

But for some reason, the stars aligned and the girls traveled perfectly. I guess I packed enough stickers. And Benadryl.


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a love for road tripping. Which is always surprising to me, probably because when we were younger, 3 hour car rides felt like an eternal hell.

Road trips carry with them a serenity that the hustle and bustle of the airport does not. When you fly, you are literally catapulted through the air at 500 mph and come to a screeching halt when you reach your destination. Driving on the other hand is much slower, but allows you to take in the views and stop when you feel inspired. It has a calming, almost meditative impact.

My breathing slowed as I took in the giant loblolly pine trees lining the road, occasionally dotted by bright red sumacs. We drove through cotton fields which were stunningly beautiful, and I wondered, if that land could talk, what it would say.


The town of Helen, Georgia is quaint. There are no fast food places or chain stores. The internet sucks. I was delighted to find myself free from the pull of my phone, the news, and social media happenings.

We stayed at a little cabin about 5 minutes from downtown Helen. It was everything we needed for the trip. It had a fireplace, at which, I taught the girls the Minnesotan skill of sitting close to warm your back. There were bunk beds: an extremely exciting fact for Avery and Alice. Out back, there was a fire pit overlooking the river.

Coming from a gated community of perfectly manicured lawns, this cabin was a great reminder that things don’t need to be perfect to bring joy. Unruly bushes, un-raked leaves, dirty windows, moss covered deck; none took away from the charm, or the breath of fresh air that this cabin held.

We drank endless cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows, warmed ourselves by the fireplace, had bonfires, struggled to get thumbs into mittens, explored, ate s’mores, got marshmallow stuck in our hair (Chad didn’t have this problem), and took in the vast beauty of the mountains.

We let our guards down and giggled as a family as picky eater, Alice, shocked us all and ate a dried cricket that I had purchased for my Dad as a gag gift. She then went on to eat two more, as Chad stared at me in horror, wondering what sort of mother would let her child eat crickets. They are a great source of protein, okay?

Not as addicting as Sour Cream & Onion Chips

I faced my fear of heights and went on the “Mountain Coaster”, that took Avery and I screaming down the side of the mountain. For Avery, the screams were of pure joy. For me; pure terror as I saw my life flash before my eyes.


On the last night of our trip, I dreamed I was a high school senior, coming to terms with the fact that I had to leave my cross country team. “But all that I know and love is over. How can my life move on?” I asked, with tears in my eyes.

It was a familiar scene that comes into play at most major life changes. Most recently, I commiserated to Chad that life couldn’t get better than holding a fresh baby in my arms. I wouldn’t be able to top it. I was going to get old, become a grandparent, and die. The best parts of life were over, I concluded.

Little did I know what was ahead.


Appalachian Mountains

As Chad reminded me as we drove through the mountains to visit a nearby town, “You gotta drive up the mountain to get the good views.”

And I think this perfectly summarizes life.

Mountain driving is terrifying, especially if you have a fear of heights. There are plenty of places you could easily die. There are some stretches of road that you have to pray your car up, and other stretches that you too easily careen down, giving your car’s brakes the workout of a lifetime.

2020 certainly hasn’t been easy. The pandemic has changed a whole lot. We know a couple people who died of COVID. We know many people who lost a family member during COVID times and were unable to say goodbye, or attend a funeral for closure.

The holidays are going to be different this year. It feels weird and uncomfortable; sad and strange.

And yet, time will continue to pass. Eventually there will be a vaccine that comes out. Hopefully it will be effective, and life will go back to some semblance of normal.

For now, we just need to focus on getting up the mountain. And while the view on the journey up can’t compete with that of the top, there is plenty of surrounding beauty.

So wherever you are on your mountain, stop for a second to take in the view. To soak in the great miracle that is life. Things aren’t perfect, but as the cabin reminded us: things don’t need to be perfect to bring joy.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving,

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

What I Didn’t Know

When I was pregnant with Avery, I was bombarded with information from other parents, wanna be parents, and non-parents who believed they were experts anyway.

About half of what I heard was horror stories of labor and delivery gone wrong. The other half was parenting advice and warnings that my life was going to change forever.

The horror stories and warnings always wrapped up with the final sentence, “But it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you.” No one really elaborated further on this point.


Most of the things I was told and warned about were and are very true.

Labor is not for the weak of heart… the unfortunate news is that if you are weak of heart (like me), once you are pregnant, the baby has to come out some way.

Sleep deprivation can cause your entire world to crash down; and, it’s something you don’t fully understand until you are hallucinating that you are holding your crying baby only to be shaken awake by your husband to find yourself rocking a pillow.

And yeah, you go from being a fun, youthful person who loves to stay up late at classy parties (or on bar roofs), who has a successful career, and a flourishing social life to a pathetic old person who gets excited about going to bed at 8pm, any sleep stretch longer than 2 hours, and a $20 dollar off coupon on diapers. DIAPERS. Your life boils down to sleep and excitement over diapers, the vessel you pay a lot of money for that contains your childs bodily fluids and is promptly tossed in the trash.

All of the warnings were true. And to be honest, despite the 24/7 advice and warnings I was receiving, they left out some important details.

For example, why didn’t anyone tell me about how you go from having a nice car to a car that literally contains probably 3 pounds of crushed up goldfish packing every crevice. Melted fruit snacks are scattered throughout your now junky form of transportation and act as a traveling lint roller… becoming covered in dirt, grime, and goldfish crumbs in their journey around your car.

Or that some babies go through a phase where literally no diaper known to man will contain their explosive poops. This phase lasts months. And you panic, thinking something is horribly wrong with your child’s GI tract. But in fact, this is normal.

Repeat after me: “Explosive poop is my new normal.”

I’m still disappointed that kids don’t have some sort of warning that goes off before they puke. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve caught kid puke. IN MY BARE HANDS. Actually, I can tell you because it was very traumatic and I have it burned in my memory. Three. Once on an airplane, once in a restaurant, and once in a car.

And no one thought to mention how weird kids are.

Examples from our household:

-Well first of all, kids hate sleep and have to be prodded to eat. If that isn’t weird, I don’t know what is.

-Alice informed us she will only eat cucumbers on Saturdays. (I take advantage of the fact that she never knows what day it is)

-This conversation was overheard at the dinner table:

Child: “You gotta kill pigs so we can eat bacon.”

Parent: “Don’t you feel bad about that?”

Child: “Yummy yummy in my tummy”

-One of our children, I won’t name names, conned the other child into wiping her butt after she pooped.

-Alice thinks the word “lit” means sick and uses it frequently to describe people who are ill.

-Every month or so, I find my children playing the game, “Our mom is dead”. It is rather morbid, but at least they seem happy without me.

-One child, after admiring her poop (in the toilet, thank goodness), announced “it’s my lucky day!” and walked away. I’m still wondering what exactly she was pleased about. The poop? Getting it in the toilet?


Of all the loads of advice I heard, no one was able to accurately capture and communicate the magic that kids bring to life. No one really elaborated on the, “But it’s the best thing that will ever happen to you”

Kids are an invitation to pause and consider why we don’t dance more or sing at the top of our lungs. They ask genuinely deep questions that make us rethink how we live.

They give us an opportunity to dig into our deepest places. To find out how patient we really are. How we act during sleep deprived, stressful situations.

My favorite part about kids though, is how brave and resilient they are.

It starts early. When they learn to walk, they literally face plant and get back up to keep walking. MULTIPLE TIMES.

Have you face planted recently? It hurts.


If I were to go back and give myself one piece of advice about parenthood, it would be: “You have very little control. Stop fighting that and embrace it.”

From day one, Avery persistently taught us that she would do things in her own time. The first time she taught us this is when she arrived NINE DAYS LATE. I’m still pissed.

Then we were concerned that she wasn’t crawling when most babies were. So we got her evaluated, only to be told, “There’s nothing wrong with her. Find what motivates her and she should start crawling soon.” The next day I set a bowl of puffs on the floor across the room from her. She crawled across the room as if she knew how to do it earlier and simply chose not to.

Out of the caution that only a firstborn child (of an actuary) can have, she walked around on her knees for a few months before she got on her feet and started walking like a normal kid.

Most recently, she went from refusing to put her head in the water to deciding to start swimming. Like, swimming across the pool on her back with very little coaching.


Here’s the thing. Kids do terrifying things on a daily basis. They trust us when we say that putting your head underwater won’t kill you. They pet dogs that are larger than them. They go off to school, leaving the people who have kept them alive and figure out how to navigate.

As I watched Avery swim across the pool on her back, with a big smile on her face that she maintained even when her head dipped under water, I thought to myself, “Dang, that’s pretty brave.”

I watched as she attempted to show off her swimming tricks and got endless nosefuls of water (the worst). And yet, she exuded such joy. She was so proud of getting over her fear of swimming… and she loved it.

Kids do things like this on a daily basis. Their days are full of opportunities to try new things. Sure, opportunities for failure, but also, brimming with opportunities for success.

Adults come no where near to the amount of new experiences that kids have per day. In part, this is because we are seasoned. We’ve lived a little longer. We know how to walk and talk.

But have you ever considered…

When did you stop trying new foods or foods that you thought you didn’t like? And why? Is it because now you just know everything about what you like and hate?

And when was the last time you tried a new activity? Or went out of your comfort zone and talked to someone new?

Just because we are adults, doesn’t mean we have to stop learning, trying, and being open to failure.

Yeah, kids are a lot of work. Life changing. Weird. Sometimes annoying.

But without a doubt, they are the best thing that has happened to me. They’ve infused my days with new ways of looking at life. They are funny. They remind me what it means to be human, and have taught me a heck of a lot more than I will ever teach them.

With that, I’ll leave you with a question that they left with me:

When’s the last time you did something scary?

Cheers,

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

Avery Marie 5.0

I remember snippets. It was a cold day. I think there was snow. I hadn’t been feeling quite right. I figured I was fatigued or had a bug. But just to be sure, I stopped at a CVS to pick up a pregnancy test. It was three weeks after Chad and I married and barely a week since we had returned from our honeymoon.

“This will probably be something I laugh about after I take it and it comes back negative,” I thought as I waited in line for the cashier to ring me up.

The next snippet in my brain flashes to watching the pregnancy test turn positive in our apartment bathroom in downtown Minneapolis. I shouted to Chad, “uh… you better come here.”

Instead of thinking, “wow, I’m pregnant,” I thought, “Dang, I must have a brain tumor” (a very rare reason pregnancy tests are positive when in fact the woman is not). Chad of course believed that the pregnancy test couldn’t possibly be right, so we stopped at Target to pick up five pregnancy tests and red Gatorade.

Five positive pregnancy tests and half a Gatorade later, the statistics were clear enough for Chad to be convinced that I was pregnant, and a state of shock set in.

Avery’s pregnancy was not an easy one. It was full of nausea, vomiting, and fainting spells. I lost 10 pounds in the first trimester. I fainted in the heart transplant meeting at work (yes, it is super embarrassing to faint in front of a group of cardiologists).

I fainted on the bathroom floor in front of a very concerned Chad. I insisted I hadn’t fully passed out as he hurried me to the Emergency Department. “Well do you remember when I slapped your face?,” he asked.

I was incredulous. “No. Why would you do that?”

“To wake you up.” This is what happens when you put an actuary in a medical situation.

Needless to say, I was anxious to give birth by my due date. But consistent with her feisty and stubborn personality, Avery arrived nine days late.


As I lay laboring in the hospital bed, I wondered out loud, “I don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready to be a mom. What if the baby hates me?” My midwife looked down and smiled, “You will be a great mom. Your baby will love you and you will love her, just wait and see.”

I had assumed that once Avery popped out, I would be filled with eternal joy and everything would make sense, and we would live happily ever after. I expected her birth would be peaceful. There would be soft lighting, classical music and tears of joy.

Instead, I lay writhing on a hospital bed, buck naked, while a team of 2 doctors, a midwife, the entire c-section team, neonatologist, and NICU team watched, aided by very fluorescent lights for their optimal viewing pleasure.

I added to the zen by glaring directly at the doctors and loudly asking, “Why is there a finger up my butt hole?” To which the doctor apologized, “Sorry ma’am, I’m trying to prevent you from tearing.” What a chivalrous guy. Classical music and soft lighting my a**.

I was told that the baby was in trouble and I had one last shot to push her out before they were going to rush me to c-section. I somehow mustered enough strength and was soon greeted by a very blue creature.

In my nurse brain, I classified the situation as bad. I watched as they attempted to intubate her three times, with her sats dropping into the 50’s. Fourth time was the charm, and they sped her out of the room with Chad following closely behind.

After I was stitched up, the room cleared. It was just me and my postpartum belly which was disappointingly not flat at all. A timid aide poked her head in the door to ask if she could get me some toast.

I was pretty sure I was a mom now, but I didn’t see a cute, cuddly baby anywhere in sight. Toast in this moment didn’t make sense. I wanted my baby, not toast. So I declined.


Two hours later I was wheeled to the special care unit to meet Avery. Luckily her intubation was short lived and she was able to breath on her own once they suctioned a mucus plug out of her lungs.

They wheeled me up to an incubator and informed me that this was my baby. I peered inside. I saw a chunky, beat-up baby, with adorable fuzzy hair.

Cute, but blonde. Couldn’t be my kid.

The kind NICU nurse tried to teach me how to breastfeed. But, Avery just wanted to sleep and so did I. After an hour of futile latching attempts, Chad wheeled me back to our room, leaving fuzzy blondie behind. “See you in 2 hours!,” the NICU nurse called behind us. What a joke, I thought as I shook my head, I push out a baby and I don’t even get to sleep to recover?


Parenthood wasn’t what I expected. For me, there wasn’t an immediate joy or love.

It was around 3 months when Avery started smiling and interacting more, when my heart melted and I fell in love.

She patiently taught me that kids are resilient. That I don’t need to be a perfectionist to be a good parent. That formula isn’t the devil, and in fact worked just fine.

She taught me that peek-a-boo is hilarious (because the adult looks like an idiot), and to giggle like a maniac. She reminded me that it’s okay to cry when you’re sad, and to scream in delight with excitement.

The emotions of kids haven’t been dulled by societal norms. In fact, nothing about kids is really bound by norms. They march to the beat of their own drums. And that, is admirable.


We are coming up on Avery’s FIFTH birthday. She starts preschool on Monday.

She is no longer a pot-bellied toddler. Her legs are long and browned by the sun. Her sentences are no longer 3 words strung together, she speaks in rivers of words, effortlessly constructing stories (or bossing us around). Thank goodness she has maintained the same deep and infectious giggle of babyhood.

She has definitely acquired the first child personality. She stands with her hand on her hip and bosses us all around, while carrying on a conversation over her play cell phone.

She is sweet and gorgeous, courageous and cautious. She can negotiate like a terrorist. She’s firey. She’s stubborn in the best and worst way. The girl will go places, mark my words.

The midwife was right. I love Avery and she loves me. Maybe we followed a non-traditional path to get there. She patiently and stubbornly taught me who she is, and in learning who she is, I fell deep in love.

Happy Birthday, Aves!

Love,

Mama

Categories
Weekly Update

From the Middle

I recently finished reading Empty, by Susan Burton, who wrote about her life-long struggles with eating disorders; mainly, fluctuating between binging and anorexia.

Her story isn’t unique. Plenty of people have disordered thoughts and actions related to eating, on a wide spectrum of severity.

What is unique about the book is that the author wrote it from the middle of her struggle. She is not recovered and looking back with new-found wisdom. She bravely chose to tell her story “as is”, from a spot of struggle, not clarity.


What I’ve come to appreciate through blogging is that writing is a medium of art. The same story can be told from billions of different perspectives. It can be spun into different webs; it can be interpreted in completely different lights. The same event can make one person laugh and another person cry.

Stories are easiest to tell retrospectively, when you finally have a chance to look back. It is easiest to find the meaning; and certainly, have a clearer perspective once you are out of the heat of the moment.

But what about the middle? It makes up most of our life. We spend a much higher percentage of time in “middle moments” than in “end moments”.


Since our return to Florida, I’ve been trying to embrace the pea- soup- thick humidity that has descended upon us. Last week, I (stupidly) slept in one morning and wasn’t able to sneak out for a run until Chad was able to watch the girls… at 1pm.

The heat was disgusting. Even “easy pace” felt difficult. As I was slogging along, encapsulated in 114 degree heat, and in a pretty negative mindset about how horrible this was, I was passed by a landscaping golf cart.

Immediately the golf cart fumes and scent of freshly cut grass transported me back in time to the days of high school cross country. It’s funny how a smell can do that.

Whenever I think of high school cross country, I get a slightly nauseated, slightly anxious, nostalgic feeling that spreads through my body. Sounds weird, but I’m guessing most people who have participated in a pain inducing sport can relate.

This scent trigger brought my mind back to a day we were on the track, running repeat 300’s. 300 meters is a gross distance. It’s short enough where you should be able to sprint, but long enough that you feel like you want to die.

Our coach at that time was Mr. Rod. Mr. Rod was tall, funny, and innately understood the pain that running could induce. As we struggled through the workout, he gathered us up for a pep talk.

I’m sure we all had looks of hatred on our faces- he wrote the workout after all. There was no need for him to acknowledge the pain we were in; that was baseline knowledge, punctuated by someone puking in the background.

He simply said, “Break it down. Run the first 100 fast, float in the middle, and sprint the last 100.” Some angsty teenager asked with attitude that only a teenager can have, “What do you mean float?” To which Mr. Rod replied with a smile, “Just pretend you’re floating.”

Sounded pretty stupid to me.

But, given that I was on deaths door, I tried the floating idea.

The crazy thing was, when I envisioned myself floating in the middle of the last couple 300’s, it felt a hundred times easier, and yet somehow I was still running just as fast.


And just like then, I find myself in the middle. Given the large number of new COVID cases in Florida, we are back to quarantine, in the house, with young kids.

I keep wishing to find myself at the end of this COVID story- to be able to look back, smile, and find some inspirational meaning.

But for now, I find myself in the middle and to be blatantly honest, I’m not floating. The days are filled with tantrums (by the kids and me) and messes. I’m covering the positions of line cook, maid, therapist, anger management coach, teacher, friend, enemy, mother, and wife.

My story from the middle isn’t inspirational, I would say it’s more of a “what not to” story. Making a necklace would be cute but beads bounce all over the house and look suspiciously like candy. Running in 114 degree heat after eating tacos NEVER ENDS WELL. 3 year olds CANNOT BE REASONED WITH. Crafts that are found on Pinterest rarely turn out as well as the promising pictures <liars>.

My story from the middle is messy. (Literally and figuratively, ok?) It’s not something that people will read and say, “I really want to try that! Sounds like she has her life figured out!”

So for now, I’m going to break it down into 100’s and try to float.

Off to Target to buy floaties… and wine. Lots of wine.

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

“You’re doing good”

We walked out of the clinic into the bright sunlight. By “walked”, I mean, Avery and Alice ran like maniacs while I power walked behind them with my mom-ly muffin top jiggling, yelling things like “Red light!” or “slow down” or “don’t let a car squish you!”

All of a sudden, the girls came to a halt. I knew it couldn’t be that they were actually listening to my pleads from behind, so I looked ahead.

There it was, the golf cart. You see, in Florida, not only do we have PLENTY of parking, which is a stark contrast to my Minneapolis upbringing, but Florida is gloriously set up for old people. And so, despite the fact that we only parked about 20 steps from the clinic doors, they have a golf cart shuttle that brings you from the front door to your car.

Yes, I know. It’s fantastic. The potential for laziness here is incredible. It’s why I have a muffin top.

The girls always insist we take a golf cart ride to our car, so we push all the old people with walkers and wheelchairs out of the way, and climb aboard.

Just kidding, we don’t do that. I mean, we don’t do the pushing the old people part. We do ride the golf cart though.

The golf cart is always driven by a 60+ year old, typically wearing a golf shirt and visor. I’m not sure if you needed to know this, but I’m just sharing the deets.

This particular ride was a good one. It wasn’t your typical boring ride. It started with the golf cart guy leaning back and whispering to the girls, “it’s my first day on the job, sorry if the ride is crazy.” He preceded to swerve through the parking lot while the girls giggled up a storm.

Was it an act? Or was it truly his first day, and had he indulged in a few cocktails prior? I will never know. Either way, it was brilliant of him.

As he screeched to a stop in front of our car approximately 15 seconds later, the girls hopped out and thanked him after I reminded them to say thank you. (I’ve noticed that 85% of my sentences as a parent are, “Say thank you!”, with forced cheeriness.)

As I mentally prepared for the arduous task of buckling two kids into car seats (car seats are the worst), golf cart man drove off, turning back to yell, “You’re doing good, mom!” And my heart melted.

I truly believe these are some of the kindest and best words a parent can hear, even better if they come from a total stranger. Best, if they are spoken after a totally ordinary moment, not when I’m being a show-off parent and drilling my kid on the ABC’s in the grocery store line.

We were at the doctor because I was pretty sure Alice had an ear infection. Sure enough, she did. And for bonus points, she also had the flu.

The flu was a surprising diagnosis because she wasn’t really acting sick enough to have the flu. The resilience of kids is mind boggling. When I have the flu, I am on deaths door.

Being the good citizen that I am, I cancelled all of our plans for the next few days and quarantined the kids.

But quarantine is boring and we were recently stuck inside after Avery’s ear surgery, so the thought of spending all my time inside with the kids was daunting.

In one of my brightest moments of all parenting time, I made the decision to combine flu quarantine with potty training for Alice. Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?

Right.

The method of potty training we chose is called “The Naked Method”: you let your kid run around naked from waist down and pray for the best. I like to call it the “Naked and Afraid Method” .

Golf cart man’s kind words echoed in my head as I cleaned up pee off the floor the first two times and I nodded. “Yes, I am doing good,” I agreed, pleased with myself.

The third time I was cleaning pee off the floor, his words once again echoed in my head, and I thought to myself, “I really am a good mom, look at me, not losing it after cleaning pee up all day!”

After this thought crossed my brain, a child who shall not be named knocked a bowl of soggy wheaties off the table, then got up and tracked the soggy wheaties across our entire living space.

It was then that I lost it and decided that I must not be a good mom after all. It’s funny how things can turn so quickly.

The great news is that after peeing on the floor 6 times in one day, Alice woke up the next morning and was basically potty trained. By “basically” I mean, she hasn’t had any accidents except for the one time she peed while she was in the shower, but some people do that on purpose, so… I cannot judge her intentions. Maybe it wasn’t an accident.

In other news, we celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday on 2/17.

Approximately 2 days after I mailed out Christmas cards this year, I received a call from my father-in-law, Doug at 9pm. He wanted to discuss the Christmas card I had sent out.

Yes, he liked the pictures, but he was distraught that I hadn’t included in our note on that back of the card that we are able to spend endless time with Doug and Nancy given that our FL home is 7 minutes from their Florida home.

And so, given that this is his Birthday Month, I’d like to spell out my gratitude for Doug Onstot, especially now that we live so close to each other.

When I first met Doug, I was a nervous girlfriend, trying my best to impress Chad’s parents. I was a city girl, through and through.

Doug, being Doug, decided to welcome me to Iowa (and the family) by taking Chad and I for a ride in his new ranger.

As he whipped up and down ditches and across empty cornfields, I saw my life flash before my eyes. I was sandwiched between Doug and Chad and there wasn’t a whole lot of room.

Doug was clearly pleased with his new ranger and his driving abilities, as he calmly smiled and kept glancing over at Chad and I, probably enjoying the look of pure terror in our eyes. My terror was rooted in my hate for speed, Chad’s terror was likely rooted in the fact that he knew exactly what his father was capable of (and didn’t want to lose such a catch of a girlfriend).

On first impression, I gathered that Doug liked going fast, he was loud and the life of the party, and everyone in Indianola, Iowa knew him.

After 5 years of marriage into the Onstot family, I can attest that all of the above first impressions are true. But I will also say that over time, my understanding of Doug has evolved.

When Avery was born, I got to experience the Papa in him. I watched as this loud man with big hands held my sweet girls when they were babies, rocking them to sleep in his recliner.

Doug watches Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with the girls on Saturday mornings. He teaches them about combines and tractors, but has also acquired a knowledge of Disney Princesses and the Paw Patrol.

What I’m trying to say here is that underneath his tough facade, he has the sweetest soft spot for his grandkids.

The other thing I like about Doug? I never have to guess what he’s thinking. He is filter free, generally speaking… and in this politically correct culture that shies away from offending anybody, I find it refreshing.

“Remember how big your ass got when you were pregnant?” Yes, Doug, I remember.

I think I will end my post on those words. Sending love to all back home,

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

Oh, the Magic

Hi all,

You may notice that my blog posts are fewer and farther between. I’ve noticed too. You see, we are slipping into a lovely new normal. Our days aren’t filled with as many “firsts”, our weeks have begun to develop routine, and our new world doesn’t feel quite so foreign.

And with this, I feel like I have less to write about… less to report. There are less moments bookmarked as “blog worthy” in my brain, yet our days are equally enjoyable.

Our days aren’t filled with as many new experiences, but we’ve continued our adventure.

Blog worthy bookmark: Kayaking Date with Chad

Shells from our date

Chad and I ventured out on a tandem kayak to explore the channels off of the ocean. We paddled through tunnels of mangrove trees, checked out an island only accessible by boat and found some great shells, and enjoyed a beautiful sunny evening on the water.

Like any good date, it involved adventure and teamwork. I insisted on sitting in front of the kayak so I got the best view, but this provided Chad with the unfair advantage of being able to stop paddling and mooch off of my hard work unbeknownst to me.

We quickly learned that tandem kayaks work best when you paddle together and are on the same page about where you want to head (much like life, in general). So we paddled “Left, right, left, TREE CHAD, TREE!” together while discussing what we would do if a python dropped from a mangrove tree or a gator arose from the water.

I told Chad that if an alligator attacked us, I would become frozen in fear. “Sorry,” he said with a sheepish smile, “but if we get attacked by an alligator, I’m running and leaving you behind.” I wasn’t surprised… 5 years of marriage has us communicating on a much more honest and unfiltered level.

Blog worthy bookmark: Disney

The magic.

Like any All-American family, we had Disney on our bucket list to check out. We wanted the girls to experience a magical moment, and what better than Disney World.

Growing up, I heard about all of my friends’ family trips to Disney. I jealously wondered why our family (filled with 8 kids) never went.

My sister was in Orlando for a conference and brought her daughter along, so we decided to check out Disney together and give our kids a magical experience. And boy, was it ever.

Admission cost $400 for one day for the three of us (Alice is under 3 so we didn’t have to pay for her). Lines for experiences were 1+ hours. The introvert in me cringed in a park packed with touristy, stroller pushing (me included), whiny kid wielding (also me included), selfie taking, hoards of people.

Alice had been telling us in the weeks leading up to our trip that she was going to see Mickey, Minnie and Pluto and Mickey was going to let her pet Pluto.

And much to Alice’s chagrin, Minnie, Mickey and Pluto were not walking around the park to interact with the kids. Oh, no. If you wanted to see Minnie and Mickey (no Pluto) , you had to wait in line… for an hour.

We left the park with the understanding that magical moments do not occur in over-priced amusement parks. We realized what we knew all along, the magical moments occur while watching the sunset, or during bedtime prayers, and in the unexpected and oh so welcome hugs and slobbery kisses from the kids.

Magical moments cannot be bought or for that matter, planned, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Blog-worthy Bookmark: Kid Updates

Alice continues to live a great life full of attitude and spunk. While she is generally an easy kid to parent, our days are becoming peppered with a few tantrums that only a 2 year old could throw. After today’s tantrum, she informed me, “I’m forgiven” rather than saying “I’m sorry”. Girl gets to the point.

The other night after she’d been tucked in, she shouted to me to bring a kleenex because she had a booger. When I arrived to her room, kleenex in hand, she said, “Oh sorry, Mom. I put it on my blankie. Let me get you another one.”

I still can’t believe Avery is 4. She inherited the introverted side of my personality, but is slowly coming out of her shell with her cute group of friends who we spend time with on a weekly basis.

In November, Avery blew a hole in her ear when she had a bad ear infection. Unfortunately, the hole did not heal on its own and we learned that she will require surgery to repair the hole.

My mama heart was not prepared for the news. I think sometimes I expect that I will act like a nurse instead of like a parent when I learn medical news about our kids…but there is a hard line in the sand. Mama emotions always overrule the logical nurse in me.

Luckily, the surgery will only take about 30 minutes and there is an 80% chance of success. If it fails, we have other options. But… we are putting our energy toward the positive. When I asked the surgeon if it would be hard or painful for her, he replied, “It will be for you, but not for her”. Oh so true. Her surgery is on February 4th- keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

That’s all for now, friends. Sending love and prayers to all back home.

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

A Floridian Thanksgiving & Christmas Preparations

Hi all,

I know it has been a little while since my last post. I have been a bit busy managing the new blog and I was waiting for a more blog- worthy stories to happen before I posted again.

I will be cutting back on these update posts to once every 2 weeks now that we are settled into FL and don’t have exciting stories on a weekly basis. (Hopefully that statement doesn’t jinx us.)

Since I last wrote…

We had our first Thanksgiving in Florida. Given that I was a bit emotional over Halloween, I assumed Thanksgiving would be rough. But in all honesty, it was a really enjoyable, non-emotional day. The day started with a 5k with one of my mom friends. As there were over 4,000 people who ran it, we were forced able to run at a leisurely pace.

We spent the rest of the day cooking, enjoyed a visit with Grandma Helen & Grandpa Chet and had Thanksgiving. dinner with Chad’s parents. I taught Avery and Alice how to knead bread dough, which brought back childhood memories of making homemade bread with my Dad on cold winter mornings.

This past week we went to a cute little Christmas festival that our town puts on. They had a snow machine so all the Floridian kids who had never experienced snow in real life could make a snowball and play in the snow. The Minnesotan in me got a big kick out of that.

We got the obligatory picture with Santa. I envisioned a cute picture of just the girls and Santa with smiles all around. What we got was a picture of a terrified Alice who didn’t let me leave and an unsure Avery.

This past weekend we had a visit from my future sister in law, Shelby, and my good friend from high school, Jill. It was so fun to see familiar faces and bring them to our favorite spots.

We built our best sand castle yet with Jill. By some miracle, the girls didn’t destroy it until after the picture was taken.

We finally put up a Charlie-Brown style Christmas tree: much smaller than usual and without any of our ornaments from home, which are all in storage. It’s beginning to look a lot like feel like Christmas, despite the lack of cold weather.

If you are interested in checking out the new blog I write, here are a few of my favorite posts from the last month or so:

And for All of These Things, I am Thankful: An unfiltered list of things I am thankful for, contributing to my survival as a parent. (Funny)

Parental Burnout: What it is, why it happens, how to prevent it and how to make it stop.

All American Stay at Home Mom: A journey through the history, cultural norms and pressures facing today’s modern stay at home moms.

Plan on my next post in two weeks!

Sending lots of love to all back home,

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

Halloween in Florida

Hi All,

We are finally starting to settle into a normal routine after returning from Minnesota. All of the sudden, Alice seems older, and I found myself staring at the girls thinking to myself, “Oh my goodness. I don’t have a baby anymore.”

It’s funny how unless you tell your brain otherwise, you will continue to see your kid as a baby even when they are far past that stage. The progression from baby to toddler to kid is so gradual, and when you see their cute face each and every day, it is harder to notice the change.

That tangent aside, we are all doing well! This past week was full of Halloween fun and for the first time, I really missed home. Holidays aside, Florida just feels like a big vacation- a never ending summer. But celebrating a holiday without my traditions from back home- crunching in the fall leaves, drinking hot apple cider, knowing the neighbors as we trick or treated- felt foreign.

We did a trick or treating event at a Farmers Market the day before Halloween with a group of mom friends and their kids, after which we cooled down at a splash pad. A sweet group of mom friends with similarly aged kids has been so welcoming and inclusive- which has made all the difference in adjusting to Florida… and stay at home mom life. I was not expecting to find friends this easily and quickly, but I am so grateful I have.

Trick or Treating at the Farmers Market

I never thought I would say this, but I missed having a chilly Halloween. Our Halloween was muggy and in the 90’s. I was hopeful that the fan inside of my inflatable dinosaur costume would keep me cool, but the costume acted as an oven and the fan did absolutely nothing to cool me down. The girls were dressed in costumes that, in retrospect, would have been much more appropriate for MN weather and were not at all appropriate for the hot temps here.

Florida trick or treating is hit or miss- given the fact that there are many older communities without kids, you have to find a neighborhood that has kids to go trick or treating in. Our neighborhood doesn’t do trick or treating so we went to a “Trunk or Treat”- it was a very efficient way to go. The girl’s buckets were full within 10 minutes, and as we were drenched in sweat, we booked it out of there.

Halloween

We have insane amounts of sugar in our house right now. In addition to the Halloween candy, Chad’s Grandma made him a whole peanut butter pie on Halloween and also sent us home with amazing pumpkin pie cookies. And prior to all of these sweets entering our home, I made the very bad mistake of grocery shopping hungry. So in our fridge also sits 3 mini pies. If anyone wants to come eat sugar with us….you’re all invited.

We had our first real experience with red tide yesterday. For all you non-Florida people, here is my scientific understanding of red tide: Red tide is caused by an algae bloom in the ocean. It does not refer to the red seaweed that washes up on the Florida shoreline (although I was convinced it did until some nice local man explained it to me).

It is caused by multiple environmental factors but interestingly is not related to pollution. It kills a lot of fish, leaving them to stink up the shoreline and the red tide can cause respiratory distress in humans.

Yesterday the beach was covered in dead fish- including a puffed up blowfish- and water snake looking things. It was quite gross. We definitely noticed the respiratory effects- mainly junky coughs and congestion while at the beach. Luckily it resolved when we left. So, no plans for the beach until that dies down.

Alice quotes from this week that made me laugh:

“I’m going to choose blue ice cream so I can have blue poop!”

On trick or treating: “My fingers were melty”

And a funny Avery story: Avery likes it when we take turns telling “spooky stories” on car rides. These generally consist of stories about a ghost, alligator, or King Kong eating whiney girls- gotta incorporate life lessons and use parenting scare tactics. Anyway, she told a story that went like this: “One day, Amy got hit by a car.” (1) I don’t know who Amy is. 2) Congrats, Avery on actually telling a scary story). She continued, “And they put a band aid on and she was all better.” Very anticlimactic ending.

As promised, I launched my professional blog on November 1st. You can check it out here: www.parentingandtravel.com !

Sending love to all back home! And seriously, if you want sugar, come visit us. Otherwise, plan on me being 20 lbs heavier then next time you see me.

Xo,

Laura

Categories
Weekly Update

“Recovery” Week

We are just about at the 2 month mark of our Florida adventures. This upcoming week we will be heading to Minnesota (again) for my friend Jill’s wedding. Jill and I have been friends since high school and I am so excited for her to tie the knot with George!

This past week has mainly been a recovery week for the Onstot clan. As included in last week’s report, I came down with a cold when we returned home from Minnesota, so I’ve been trying to get some extra rest. The girls went through their usual “return from travel” adjustments, which include a few extra meltdowns per day along with increased clinginess. They adjusted much faster this time around. Yay!

Chad’s grandparents are now in Florida for the winter and we are loving having them nearby. Avery and Alice played shuffleboard for the first time, surprisingly not resulting in any injuries of themselves or others.

The mall near our house has a farmers market every Thursday. I took the girls for the first time this week. I thought it would be a really fun experience but the girls were pissed that it was not air conditioned. “That’s the thing,” I tried to tell them, “the fun thing about a farmers market is that it is outside!” They gave me a look that I only envisioned they would give me when they turned into teenagers. So…. we will check that one off the bucket list.

We made it to three beach sunsets this week, which were gorgeous and left us all feeling calm at the end of the day. We saw two washed up jellyfish- we aren’t sure if it was related to red tide, or simply a random occurrence. Avery and Alice received the “Do not touch the jellyfish” education, and actually followed the advice.

A tropical storm blew across us yesterday and experienced our first almost full day of rain. The gloomy weather was welcome as it gave me a chance to catch up on housework and prepare for the week ahead. Coming from Minnesota, I have this mindset that we MUST BE OUTSIDE when the weather is nice. But since the weather is nice every day, we spend a lot of time outside… and sometimes it is lovely to have a day where I don’t feel guilty about being inside.

We still found a rain-free window to get to the pool. As expected, it was empty so we enjoyed the pool to ourselves. We ended our evening on the perfect note with a game of Dominoes with Chad’s Grandparents. We played boys against girls. Helen and I let the boys win so we didn’t have to listen to them whine for the week.

I regret teaching Alice the phrase, “Today, Junior!” as she yelled it in church today while waiting for people to finish going through the communion line. “Today, guys!” She had important two year old things to do I guess.

The girls and I spent this afternoon at the beach while Chad golfed. There were huge waves (result of tropical storm) which washed up some neat shells. Our plans to watch the sunset were dashed by a rain storm and a diaper blow out. At the same time.

As I am reading through this post to check for typo’s, I realize this was not a “recovery week”. We packed in a lot, in keeping with the Onstot pace.

I have some exciting news to share! All of the positive support I’ve received from readers of this blog has inspired me to start a legit blog that will cover the topics of parenting & travel. I’ve been working on setting it up for the past 6 weeks and am excited to announce that my planned launch date is November 1st. I will give you more info next week! This blog will remain intact because it is perfect for giving more family/ friend geared updates.

Xo,

Laura