Weekly Update

Tour de Midwest

We spent the month of July in the Midwest- 3 weeks in Minnesota, and 10 days in Iowa & Missouri. While we traveled, I worked on an article for a parenting website entitled, “How to travel with kids- don’t”.

Post 3 hour flight to Minneapolis

We have traveled with the girls since they were born- pretty regularly, I might add. And while some trips are magical, most are not. Each time we pack up for another trip, I feel like I am playing a form of Russian Roulette: will this trip be magical or miserable?

Maybe it’s how my brain works- to categorize a memory as great or horrible, when in reality, it falls somewhere in the middle. Traveling with kids can take you to some of the highest highs- experiencing beautiful moments together. And it can also bring you to the lowest of lows- food poisoning induced projectile vomiting at the same time as explosive diarrhea, on the nasty floor of a hotel bathroom. But mostly, travel with kids brings you to a lot of ordinary, meh, moments.

The kind where kids ask how much longer at the beginning of a 10-hour road trip, the monotony of foraging for the apple pie Larabars in foreign grocery stores, the grumpiness that ensues over the course of adjusting to a time change.

How Alice really felt

All this to say, while I could write about our travels out of the magical lens, I can assure you they were not.

We spent a lot of time “traveling” on this trip, despite flying to Minnesota to reduce travel time. I think as a mom, I spend an inordinate amount of time planning and worrying about the transitions- the logistics of moving a months worth of luggage into the car, out of the car, into the airport, getting the family through security, going potty enough times before boarding the plane, getting off the plane, getting to the baggage claim without losing a child, retrieving a large amount of luggage, acquiring a rental car, moving luggage and children to the rental car, driving to VRBO, moving the luggage (AGAIN)….. blah, blah, blah.


We were able to see our families, and the girls got a lot of good quality time with people they otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to see. They camped with the Uppgaard grandparents, visited aunts & uncles, played with cousins, and spent a week at a cabin up in northern Minnesota.

We celebrated my Dad’s retirement at a truly magical surprise party. Fireflies made their appearance as the sky darkened and toasts were made. All the more magical? We got a babysitter for the kids that night.

On our last day in Minnesota, we learned Alice had COVID. And then I tested positive. And then Avery got it. Chad somehow remained immune.

Luckily, my in-laws had an exposure prior to our arrival… so we all holed up at their cabin in Missouri. We tubed, went on boat rides, and fished. I love running the hills in Missouri, but unfortunately, COVID dashed my running dreams.

In Iowa, we went to the county fair, watched the hot air balloons, visited the cows, looked at soybean plants up close (have you ever?), and played in the sprawling yard.

Iowa beauty

Throughout the trip, I read Jane Eyre. And a quote that struck me was, “There is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow-creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to their comfort.”

And I think that quote perfectly sums up how I felt about spending a month with family. It was a month of being loved by people we don’t see nearly enough. It was a cram session of memories, a hustle to see all the people we love, it was lying on the couch late at night re-living childhood memories with my siblings, countless times of yelling, “Reel, reel!” as I watched Alice’s bobber slip beneath the surface.

It was a drinking from the fire-hose kind of trip. It was listening to four Nancy Drew audiobooks on car rides, it was Chad vowing he would never listen to another Nancy Drew. By the end of the trip, we were bleary-eyed and so ready to be in our own beds.

5am airport, bleary-eyed, and ready to be home

Or as I told Chad, I was so ready to be home so I could be grumpy, and let down my “on-personality mask.”

We have been home for three weeks. I got my grumpy out (sorry Chad), and have never loved my bed quite so much.

I will leave you with a poem I wrote on a dock in Minnesota:


The loon calls

As the last rays of sun stretch through the sky

Creating contrast, definition



The trees with their leaves

Now black, against the horizon

Clouds above 

Waves lapping below


A bird trills

And a fisher casts his rod

Line, whooshing 

Horseflies dive bomb 


I am minute 

in this wild world


The sky is pink, 

Clouds purple

Horizon still pierced by rays


The colors are pastel,

The air is matte

Ducks swim home through the reeds


I am contributing nothing to this moment

But my attention

And for a moment,

All is right

MN Sunset
Weekly Update

The Healthy Vacation

Three years ago, for Chad’s 30th birthday, I surprised him with a trip to Hilton Head, SC- just the two of us. This was back when we lived in MN, and the warm weather was so welcome. It didn’t hurt that they have great golf courses.

We went for a long weekend. The trip was amazing and we vowed to return.

Realizing that we only live 8 hours away now, it got put on the bucket list for 2021. Now living in FL, we visited for the cooler weather. Chad did his usual thorough research and found a reasonably priced condo on the ocean. Despite my concerns that there might not be enough to do, we booked for a week.

Given the length of this trip, I righteously appointed it as a, “healthy vacation,” vowing to eat well and continue exercising. I packed my running shoes, carrots and apples. I also packed a family size bag of peanut butter m&m’s. I will let you judge what my actual intentions were.

Each morning, I stepped outside in my running shoes to witness as the world quietly woke up. The sand of Hilton Head beach is firmly packed, providing solid ground for running. It took a minute to fall into the rhythm of the run- waiting for my jagged breath to sync up with the rhythm of the waves whooshing in, shortening and lengthening my strides to avoid stepping on jellyfish, all in the pinky purple morning light.

The sun rose as a big ball, hazy. Murky air surrounded it, giving the sky a pastel effect. Endorphins collided with beauty and peace; the best sort of outcome you can have with a run.

I ended each run by taking off my shoes and wading into the ocean, cool salt water enveloping my legs.

It was a heavy on nature kind of trip. We watched in awe as hundreds of tiny crabs emerged from holes in the salt marshes, waving their arms, and skittering back to their holes whenever they detected a threat. We caught, out of the corners of our eyes, jumping mullet, in the otherwise calm pond waters. We watched from our deck as a large pod of dolphins swam by, catching their dinner and occasionally stopping to play.

One day, we came upon a beach of horseshoe crabs mating. The female crab was buried under the sand, while multiple male horseshoe crabs attempted to attach to her so they could fertilize the eggs once they were laid. *

I explained to Avery and Alice what was happening. Chad shot me a look. It’s the same look that he gives me when I let the girls jump from a spot that is a little too high for his actuarial risk calculations, or when I pick up a millipede and ask if they want to hold it.

“Do you really want to use horseshoe crabs for your explanation of the birds and the bees? Five males on top of one female?” he asked, good protective father that he is.

“Fine,” I replied, “maybe you are right. I just thought it would be funny if the girls look back on life and remember that I tried to teach them about the birds and the bees with horseshoe crabs.”

It was the kind of vacation that left tan lines and chipped toenail polish. It was the towels out to dry over chairs, sand in our sheets, swimsuits count as underwear kind of vacation. The type where days meld together, sunrises becoming sunsets, days less governed by clocks, and more governed by whims. The kind of vacation where nothing was perfect and that is why everything was perfect.

By the end of the trip, my brain had also taken on the pastel effect; a little murky, but with beautiful subdued thoughts. I watched as Chad typed, “Stock Market” into his phone and wondered what sort of food they served at this market. When I saw the financial graphs and arrows appear, when I realized he was still existing in the non-vacation world, at least partially. And I was fully submerged: only concerned about my next meal, wondering about the food at the elusive restaurant, “Stock Market.”

We left relaxed. A week had been the perfect amount of time- long enough for our brains to fall into the lull of the ocean waves, long enough for endless bouts of family giggles, long enough.

When it was time to go home, we sleepily piled into the truck at 5am with sun kissed skin, a trunk that was packed to the brim, and memories for a lifetime.

And if I’m going to be honest, by the time we pulled into our driveway 9 hours later, we were exhausted. Already in need of another vacation.

But I think that is just how it goes when you travel with kids.

* Horseshoe crabs have been around, relatively unchanged for 445 million years- yes, they were here prior to the dinosaurs. They actually are not part of the crab family and are more closely related to spiders. Most importantly, in my subjective opinion, they are one of the ugliest creatures to inhabit the earth. You’re welcome, for yet another nerdy fact.

Weekly Update


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,


Weekly Update


We just returned from a 10 day trip to Iowa and Missouri to spend time with Chad’s family.

The trip was motivated by 1) our love for our family and 2) an urgent need to escape the confines of our condo and go somewhere that the girls could run free for awhile.

The trip was exactly what we needed.

We were greeted by cool weather by our standards… the kind of weather that doesn’t induce sweating within your first minute outside. The air felt crisp to us Floridians, and we enjoyed humidity free sunshine.

Chad’s family has a cabin on a lake in Missouri, about 2 hours from their farm in Iowa. We spent most of our trip at the cabin, logging many hours cruising around the lake in the pontoon, swimming in the water (without fear of alligators), and fishing.

We soaked in family time. Our days didn’t adhere to the schedule that normally dictates our lives. We spent long hours on the water, pausing to eat when we got hungry and rest when we were tired.

I took advantage of the beautiful cool weather and explored Missouri on my morning runs. For those unfamiliar with the geography of Florida, it’s about as flat as it gets. Missouri on the other hand? Rolling hills. Never. Ending. Massive. Huge. Painful. Mountain-like, hills.

I have a weird love for running hills. I love how running hills is so painful that you can’t think about your whole run at once- otherwise you’d die just at the thought of it.

I don’t even try to take it one hill at a time… I break up each hill: “To the next mail box” and then, “to that clump of yellow flowers” next, “to the shadow of that tree”.

Hills require intense focus. Your mind doesn’t can’t wander to think about the long list of “to-do’s” or rewind to replay an argument you recently had, or ruminate on the latest issue that requires solving.

No, your brain is stuck in the moment. It is stuck on the next tiny chunk of road that requires focus. Your legs burn, and your lungs feel like they are about to explode. And right when you feel like you are on the doorstep of death, the road slowly flattens, your heart keeps beating, and your legs carry on.

The focus that hills require becomes almost meditative. With the chatter of the brain quieted by the hill induced exhaustion, you find yourself present; available to face any passing thoughts without judgement.


We spent our final night of the trip in Iowa so the girls could spend some time on the farm the following morning. Chad and I had a couple of errands to run to move around some of our things in storage.

We were driving at dusk, bumping over dirt roads and soaking in the views of mist covered fields with dark purple clouds billowing above.

I was transfixed by the quiet beauty of Iowa when Chad asked, “Do you see them?”

“See what?” I asked.


I blinked and shifted my focus toward the fields. Sure enough, I watched as tiny twinkling lights arose from the fields in the thousands. I’ve never seen that many fireflies at one time.

“It’s magical” I whispered, not wanting the moment to end.

“They kind of stink,” he said, with a smirk.

“WHAT?” I asked, hoping I didn’t hear him right.

“Every time they pass gas, they light up,” he said with a wide smile.

The moment was officially ruined.


Traveling during a pandemic is about what we expected. People were not required to wear masks in the airport or on the airplane- if I had to guess, I’d say around 50% of people wore masks.

Surprisingly, the flight attendants were not required to wear masks. The ones who did wear them would take them off when they talked. I wanted to yell, “YOU’RE DEFEATING THE ENTIRE PURPOSE”… but I didn’t… because Alice had pulled down her own mask to eat a lollipop, and then lick her sticky fingers.

We tried to be as careful as possible, but… kids will be kids. Alice was intrigued by the plastic toilet seat cover in the airport. So intrigued, in fact, that I caught her stroking the crinkly toilet seat cover. Meanwhile, Avery found her joy by using the powerful hand dryers to get a professional grade blow out.

Don’t worry though, we had lots of “Hamitizer” (hand sanitizer), and we used it.

And that, my friends, is our update. We are back in FL and re-adjusting to life post vacation. COVID is rampant here, so we are doing our best to remain safe.

Love to all,


Weekly Update

Weddings on Weddings

I love weddings. It is so fun to meet all the family and friends who have formed the couple into who they are today. I love putting faces to names. I love watching the groom watch the bride as she walks down the aisle, the glowiness of the new couple, and the joyful anticipation of the happy years ahead. I love listening to the vows and remembering my shaky voice as I took my own vows. And obviously I love a good reception full of happy people, cake & dancing.

And so, I was not disappointed to celebrate a second wedding (in 2 weeks) back home in Minnesota. In my head I called it “the nerd wedding” because it was full of pharmacists and other medical professionals as both Jill and George are pharmacists. If you needed to code, this would have been the place to do it. (Luckily no one did.)

Jill and I met back in high school when we ran cross country and track together. There’s something about running that innately bonds people; I think it has to do with the pain that running can induce. When you are in pain at the same time as someone else, it connects your hearts. You don’t need to talk to understand that the other person is also suffering. A side glance will do to communicate, “I am with you. We’ve got this.”

And so, ever since high school, Jill and I have been close friends despite different life paths. After we both went to college in Winona, MN (Jill at St. Mary’s University and me at Winona State University), she went on to graduate school to become a pharmacist while I worked as a nurse and got married. I had my first child. She graduated from pharmacy school and went on to residency. She met her now husband during residency. I had my second child. She finished residency. I moved to Florida. And then she got married.

I think it is special that we’ve been able to maintain our friendship. It can be really tough to maintain friendships long term, especially when you are at completely different life stages. She has remained a tried and true friend as I went through the ups and downs of motherhood, despite having no children of her own (yet).

So anyway, the moral of this sappy portion of the post is that I couldn’t be happier for Jill and George.

The girls traveled okay. After their rock star traveling last trip I was hopeful it was an indication that things were changing for the better. Alice is exploring the terrible two’s and her new favorite way to express unhappiness is banging her head on things. I’m terribly sorry to the man sitting behind her on the airplane whose tray table was rocked by Alice earthquakes every 20 minutes. We ate dinner at a classy restaurant in Minneapolis while Alice threw a tantrum under the table…at least she was contained and hidden.

But while the travel was not smooth, it definitely wouldn’t classify in the “top 3 worst trips” (if you’re curious what would, think on the level of projectile vomiting and explosive diarrhea at the same time in a hotel bathroom. TMI? Sorry)

Highlights from the trip aside from the wedding include: seeing my parents and their chocolate lab puppy, “Bear”, visiting some old coworkers at Minneapolis Heart Institute for lunch, and visiting my cousin who works at Perkins prior to our flight back to FL.

Chad flew to Canada for an Actuarial conference (BOOOOOORING) while the girls and I flew back to Florida. The girls were pretty good travelers once the plane took off & we made it home intact and still loving each other. We are lying low today. The girls are happy to be back to their toys and I am happy to be back to my bed.

Quote of the week:

A plumber came by to fix a leaking pipe. When I told Avery not to use that toilet since the water is shut off, she asked “What happened, Mom? Did someone go potty too hard?” Uhhhhhh….I guess that is a possibility.

Sending love from FL,