Mosquito Bites & Russian Blues

If you are a native of the desert, you may be completely unfamiliar with the small creature who lives in humid hot regions and drinks human blood – leaving behind an itchy, swollen welt. But I assure you they do exist. These villains are often referred to as mosquitos but they really deserve a far worse name. I’m including a photo of my foot so you can see my swollen ankle, which was bitten by one of these dreadful mosquitos. They also bit my wrist, calf and finger and I was only outside for an hour in the middle of the day. Makes you appreciate the desert!

Oh and yes, we are still away from home in Chicago although our visit here is almost over. 😭 It has been so much fun seeing family and watching the girls play with cousins. I am grateful we can come visit and do life together often enough that everyone is good friends. I always felt that family helped me feel grounded, as we shared stories from the past. But that sense of security is also the strongest bridge to the future as we make choices and grow. We are better together. Always.

It’s 12:55 am so “technically” today is Friday, although it still feels like Thursday night. Reepicheep, my parents Russian Blue kitty is curled up on my bed purring away like a motor boat. He’s looking at me like “go to bed crazy human” so I probably should. I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and sleep 8 hours a night (but maybe this part of my summer travels isn’t the time for resolutions). Here’s my bed buddy…

Tomorrow our nanny is flying into town to help me take the kiddos to Florida for a week. I’m SUPER excited to see her and the kids are too. They think of her as a big sister and we all love her lots. Until later!


Where Did Today Even Go?

I was FULLY intending to tell you about something brilliant tonight, but instead I’m admitting to being just another exhausted mom. Why?

  • Last night I was woken up around 1 by Claudia because she wanted to sleep with me. About 2 she woke me up again to tell me she was going back to her bed.
  • Madeline climbed into my bed about 3 because she saw a long flying bug and wondered if it would sting her. (I think she dreamed it.) She then poked me every 15 minutes or so to see if I was asleep. I always was. About 4:30 she went back to bed.
  • At 9 I had the kids ready to go to breakfast with my parents, brother & his family (but they canceled due to being up all night). I totally understood that one! But since we were ready, we went to breakfast anyway.
  • About 11 we went to look for new sneakers for Beatrice who now needed to wear women’s size EIGHT! We wear the same size shoe. Found two pairs on a BOGO sale at Famous Footwear.
  • Took Madeline over to TJMax to use the potty and then got suckered into staying there until 1 looking at things like sleep masks for the girls. Honestly, I’m for anything that might keep them in beds.
  • Then home for lunch, stopping to get Diet Coke along the way because – caffeine!
  • Made lunch for kiddos from leftovers and relaxed for a few minutes (really, just a few minutes).
  • It was now 2:30 ish and my parents cleaning lady arrived so I quickly cleared off the bed & closed suitcases in my room and checked the girls room as well.
  • Took Kimber (my parents Akita) to the vet together with my mom. Kimber needed a cytopoint injection for allergies. (The girls stayed home with grandpa while we did this.)
  • Got home about 4 and we needed to meet my brother & his family for taco Tuesday since we had missed breakfast with them. Planned to meet at 5 so we had about 30 minutes. I genuinely have no recollection of what I did during that time. None.
  • Got in the car and headed to Cozymels. After being there for about 15 minutes Claudia said she was sick. Then she started crying. I took a look at her and she had a fever. Ugh. She was begging to go home. My mom took her out and I got a mango & strawberry frozen margarita.
  • As we were finishing dinner at about 6:30 Claudia and my mom returned. Claudia said she was feeling better. She wanted dinner. So we got dessert and she got dinner. We were driving home about 7:30.
  • While driving home (I was in my dad’s car with Madeline & Claudia) Mom called and asked if they could go out looking for earrings for Beatrice. She said she needed some. No. Just no. I didn’t think tonight was a good night for an earring emergency.
  • About 8 we all got home and by 9 the girls were snug in their beds asleep after stories and songs. Well, kinda. Claudia begged to sleep with me since she actually wasn’t feeling very well. I really really wanted to say no, but I said sure and gave her a hug.

By 10 pm I very much hope to be in my bed SNORING, but honestly I also want to watch a little bit of a show and pretend I’m an adult with at least a tiny life of my own. Not sure which one will win out. Hugs mommas! Our job is far from easy and I’m cheering you on!!!


2 Adults / 4 Children

This morning we went to breakfast with my parents at Egg Harbor Cafe. Dad and I arrived with Beatrice, Madeline and Claudia. Mom was going to meet us there. When we walked inside we were greeted by a receptionist.

How many?” asked the woman.
We have one more coming” said my Dad.
So two adults and four kids?” She asked.
I’m an adult!” I protested raising my hand.
At least you kind of look like one” she said with that smile adults give children when they think they know better, and she turned to lead us to our table. 🙄

I will be THIRTY-NINE in a few weeks!!! I don’t even think I can count the number of times I get handed children’s menus, cards to write letters to Santa or the chance to get my picture taken with the Easter bunny. People always say I’ll like it when I get older but how much older do I need to get? I’ll be the youngest looking old lady in the retirement home. I’ve even had cashiers remind me that having a fake ID is a crime. 😑 #oldipromise


Framily

Do you have framily? The Carey family are those people in our lives because we have lived SO much of it together. When I was 1 or 2 years old my family moved to Rochester, Minnesota… a few houses down from the Knutson family. Before long their 2nd daughter Jill became our steady babysitter. Here is a picture of me (blonde bob), my sister (green hat) and Jill (brunette).

Jill moved with our family when we went to New York. And my parents flew her to us when we needed a sitter. Jill also joined us when we traveled internationally. We ended up calling her Aunt Jill by the time we were teenagers because you couldn’t really be that old and still need a nanny.

When my boyfriend Brian went to Minnesota to attend graduate school he lived with the Knutson family. He was part of their family for 3 years and when I would come to Minnesota to visit Brian I stayed with Beth Knutson – their 3rd daughter, who had her own place. When Brian and I got married the whole Knutson family flew to Florida to be there. Brian and I both attended Beth’s wedding to Brent Carey as well.

About 2 months after we had our first baby Beth and Brent had their first baby. We were staying with the Carey family taking pictures of our new babies together when I got the call that my Dad had suffered a massive heart attack. (Don’t worry… it was scary for awhile but he’s fine now.) We had our second babies months apart as well, and by that time we were living in Minnesota too! We even enrolled our firstborns in preschool together. Then our second kiddos went to preschool together too. For the next 5 years we enjoyed doing life together. Below are some pictures of our kiddos growing up together.

When we moved an hour away after fellowship year, they were the first friends to come visit us. When we moved to Arizona, they were the first friends to visit us. And even though we are so far away we try to get together every 6 months or so. This time we met up at the Dells in Wisconsin. We rented a condo at a water park and did life together for 3 days. The kids had so much fun talking and splashing and laughing and screaming and playing and talking and talking and talking. And I was just as excited to be able to continue being “framily” with Beth and Brent (although being a tired mom there wasn’t as much running around and scary tall water slide action to show for it).

Before going our separate ways both moms made the kids stand for a picture so we could have a photo to cherish until our next visit. Below is the absolute gem we got. A framer for sure!

Now we are back in Chicago at my parents house. Kids are all tucked into bed and sleeping like ROCKS after so much activity. I better crawl in myself. Goodnight!


Chicken Broccoli Casserole

This dish is my middle daughter’s favorite food in the WHOLE world. She giggles when she eats it. I make it all the time at home and made it for my family when we got together Summer 2019. It’s always a crowd pleaser (especially when served with rice). You will wish you had more leftover!!!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 packages of broccoli spears
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • ¾ cup grated cheddar cheese, for topping

PREPARATION

  1. Cut chicken breasts into small pieces and cook until almost done.
  2. Mix lemon juice, sour cream, both soups and yogurt in large bowl.
  3. Stir in broccoli and cooked chicken.
  4. Spoon into large baking dish and sprinkle with cheese.
  5. Bake at 450° for 25-30 minutes.


Independence Day & Blue Curaçao

Since I missed telling you about our 4th of July celebration yesterday, I though I would start by telling you I’m no longer in Chicago. I am now sitting in a hot, humid, noisy indoor waterpark in Wisconsin… loving every minute. We met up with our best friends from Minnesota and our kiddos are having a positive blast. I am playing chaperone which for the moment means holding towels, keeping track of flip flops and figuring out what in the world is Blue Curaçao. I mean… do you know? 🍹 #adulting

Don’t worry – I googled it for you. So Blue Curaçao is actually made on Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island. Although the poulation is mostly Afro-Caribbean, there is a significant Jewish influance as well. Two such jewish families, Senior and Chumaceiro, created the only company in the world that has always produced its Curaçao liqueur using the dried peels of the Laraha orange. And while I was poking around looking for information on my delicious frosty beverage I have now decided that visiting Curaçao is going on my bucket list (well, I first need a bucket list… and then this needs to go on it).

Now as for yesterday. I love holidays, celebrations, play dates and all excuses to plan a party. If I were a pony I would be Pinkie – Pie. But life with young kiddos doesn’t always lend itself to that. There are at least 7,684,321 mom blogs out there for a reason. We have a need to know that our crazy is being experienced in houses just like ours all over the world. And in case you don’t have time to check all those sites I’ll tell you the main point of them. Raising kids is loud, messy, painful and spontaneous all wrapped in genuine love, character building, grace and discipline. Okay? You are now alone. See the video below for a real life example:

There you see my family plus my siblings’ families at my parents house as we celebrated Independence Day. We were almost ready to sit down to the BBQ my dad had prepared. But clearly we had waiting a few moments too long and the youngsters had… expired. From this point on nothing actually got “better” but we enjoyed each other, made memories and got those kiddos to bed.

After the kids were asleep my mom and I laid in her bed and watched a Murder She Wrote together. Seriously, after chaos there is nothing like watching Angela Lansbury calmly connect all the dots without breaking a sweat. She reminds me what problem solving abilities women are capable of. (I’m a huge fan obviously.) Yes I’ve even seen Bedknobs and Broomsticks, have you? 🧹

But back to today, here in Wisconsin with the Carey family. The kids are warming up in the giant hot tub in the living room after late night swimming. Madeline (the sensible middle child 😉) is already in bed, aka not pictured below. So goodnight friends. Who thinks I’ll get to bed before midnight? Anyone?! Anyone?!


All Happy Families are Alike…

… each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This is known as the Anna Karenina Principle. By which Tolstoy meant: in order to be happy, a family must be successful with respect to every one of a range of criteria (religion, unity, monitary concerns, in-laws, and so many more). Failure on only one of these counts leads to unhappiness. So clearly there are more ways for a family to be unhappy than happy.

Today my sister and her kiddos came to my parents house to sleepover with us. She arrived at suppertime and my brother and his family joined in too. Of course that meant I had to get a picture because were not usually together these days. I’m so grateful for this picture of US… each captured perfectly imperfectly. I’m truly blessed that we don’t measure each other by criteria, instead love each other through the fun and messy parts of life. There may be lots of ways to be unhappy, but we try to ignore them!

My sister and her husband live in downtown Chicago. My brother and his family live in the western suburbs of Chicago; my parents do as well. And as you know we live in Arizona. And it’s not just physical distance that separates us, life just gets more complicated as you grow older. More responsibilities. More personal goals and interests. Children. But my brother and sister will always be so important to my heart, because siblings are the people we first practice on. They teach us about kindness and compassion and working together and being fair… quite often the hard way. But I am who I am today largely because of what we learned together growing up. And so I love going back “home” to reconnect and learn more about this thing called life. Together.

Also I should note that this morning I headed to the spa to get a mani-pedi. It had been tooooooo long. Plus, I was still sporting my bright red/orange from spring season and I needed to change to white. I don’t know what it is about white nailpolish this year but it is basically an updated, trendier version of the French manicure. And I am certainly NOT the one who told you this, but the Urban Dictionary has an interesting definition of white nail polish as well. 🤫 Or most likely these days the white nail polish women are actually joining together in #solidarity. Against what, I do not know. But who cares ladies, get in white nail formation.

I also FINALLY did laundry (as in washed, folded and put away – big deal right?!) since we have been out of town for seven whole days. The kids will be so happy in the morning when they say “mom, where are my clean undies” and I actually know! 😉