Weekly Update

Talking to Dolphins & Feeding the Fish

“Happy Birthday, self,” I thought as I watched beautiful tropical fish swarm the top of the turquoise blue water, feasting on my vomit.

Let me back up.

Since I am now filled with 30 years of wisdom, I told Chad what I wanted for my birthday, rather than making his poor soul guess. I informed him that I wanted a surprise trip.

“Is it really a surprise if you know it’s coming?” he asked, his blue eyes sparkling as if he thought I hadn’t already considered this conundrum. Men. I told him as long as I didn’t know location, it would be a good enough surprise.

In the days leading up to the trip, I couldn’t contain my excitement or my nosiness. Thus, I insisted that we add a new rule- Chad would provide one clue per day on where we would be going.

And so, Chad, the most patient person I know, continued to play the game by my rules, doling out a clue per day.

But if you know me, you know that I am extremely geographically challenged AND impatient. Rules were quickly amended so that Chad could provide multiple clues per day.

2 days before the trip, rules were overthrown and I demanded that he tell me where we were going.

Chad had planned a trip to Marathon, FL, which is one of the islands on the chain of islands leading up to Key West.

We dropped the kids off with my (amazing) in-laws and road tripped of to our final destination, which was about 4 hours away, taking us through Miami (yes, on Superbowl weekend), through a chunk of the Everglades, and finally, across multiple islands linked together by bridges.

Marathon, FL won me over with it’s southern architecture, rocky beaches, and lighthouses. There was an uncharacteristic to Florida chill in the air that reminded me of Duluth.

Despite the fact that Chad isn’t a huge fan of ocean swimming, he put on his “husband of the year” swim trunks and ventured out snorkeling with me.

That is exactly how I found myself jumping into the choppy waters of the Atlantic ocean. If I had to rank nature experiences I’ve had in my life, this was by far, one of the coolest.

The turquoise waters are beautiful on surface level, but a whole new world opened up the moment we jumped into the water.

We were surrounded by schools of brightly colored fish, underwater mountains of coral, and forests of purple sea fans dancing in the surge of waves. We watched in silent terror and glee as a massive green eel stuck his creepy head out of a crevice below.

Being submerged in this underwater world was fascinating. And yet, despite the magic of the moment, after an hour of being pushed and pulled by the crashing waves, my stomach was not impressed. The salt water tasted too salty, and my stomach alerted me that it was time to puke.

I crawled out water and hoisted myself back up onto the boat. The captain took one look at me and said, “Why don’t you go talk to the dolphins?” while pointing his thumb toward the back of the boat.

And that is precisely how I found myself hurling into the beautiful waters, only to realize that the tropical fish loved my regurgitated sub sandwich. (TMI? Sorry.) The islander sitting next to me flashed a toothless smile as he watched the fish feast on my puke and sighed, “Nothing goes to waste here, does it?”

While the snorkeling trip involved bodily fluid, it was a weird but fitting way to mark the start of my 30’s.

Life, I’ve learned, rarely has 100% perfect moments. And if I wait only for those, I wouldn’t have much to celebrate. But A LOT of life has not quite perfect moments that are full of mistakes or bodily fluids or tough spots.

I’ve realized that embracing the not quite so perfect moments makes life became a hell of a lot more enjoyable.

So here’s to embracing the imperfect moments our lives are weaved together by. Here’s to talking to dolphins, feeding the fish, and finding joy in the experience.

Wishing you all the best,


PS- For all who are wondering, Avery’s surgery went very smoothly. Thank you for the thoughts and prayers!

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.