Tofu, Villas & Hubby Returns

Did you know that I am a Disney Bride? Sure am! My husband and I were married right here fourteen and a half years ago. It was the happiest day of my life and I still feel so blessed to be married to this amazing man.

On this trip, we are staying at the Grand Floridian in a 3 bedroom villa, and we can see the Wedding Chapel from our balcony. The girls had never seen it and I loved showing them where we said “I do”. Seems like forever ago that we started life together.

But I would be doing you all a serious injustice NOT to show you our villa… because you defiantly want to stay here some day! It’s over 2,800 square feet which means that Brian and I are not sleeping in the same room as the kids! I found a video made by Disney to show you where we are. It’s… unforgettable.

We had dinner at Narcoossee’s (at our resort) because the kids were tired from traveling and we all were hungry. I decided to try a vegetarian tofu masalaa and I was so so good. Brian wasn’t here from dinner because he had to fly in from Arizona today. He should be here in an hour or so and we’ll have to go find food for him. Can’t wait to see my hubby as it’s been two weeks since we parted ways at Space Camp.

••• and this is where the post abruptly ended because Brian arrived and we lived happily ever after 😉

Goodbye Chicago

Yesterday we picked up Kayana from O’Hare and today we are all flying out together. But I wanted to write one more post before we move along to Florida …

I always feel like our trips disappear into memory so fast. What is it about life that passes? How does anticipation become history with hardly a moment given to now? I don’t know if it’s my age or if time really is passing by faster these days, but it reminds me to be purposeful and grateful. Along that theme I want to list 20 things about our time in Chicago that made my life more blessed:

  • good health – All stayed fairly healthy! We have been gone over 2 weeks and are still traveling. Yes we’ve had a few tummy aches and need an antibiotic but nothing major.
  • good friends – Seeing the Carey family during our annual summers in Chicago is such a treat! So glad we can stay close (and our kiddos too).
  • my parents – They always generously put us us at their house while we’re in town. This allows us to spend so much more time together with family.
  • pets – Okay. My parents have stinkin’ cute pets! I love watching them grow and giving them all the hugs while we’re in town.
  • the color green – Everything here is SO green!!! I love living in Arizona but the color shift is really quite awesome.
  • time – The fact that I have time to travel with the kids over the summer is such a blessing and I don’t take it for granted.
  • cell phones – Staying in touch with Daddy (he couldn’t come to the Chicago portion of our trip) was wonderful and keeping up with AZ friends made my heart happy too.
  • feeling loved – There is something about going “home” that makes you feel loved, and appreciated. At least I feel that way and I enjoy it so much.
  • grocery stores – Can we talk about all the grocery stores in Chicago? The options are endless. Since I love to cook I really enjoy poking around and discovering new things.
  • internet connection – I know some people like to disappear on a desert island when they go away, but I love my internet access and the ability to watch my favorite shows, map out new places to go and put the kids to be with headspace.
  • coffee – Do I even need to explain this? I mean, I love coffee all the time but I don’t always get a full 8 hours when we travel. So coffee tastes even better.
  • memories – Being with family is so much about reliving memories with other people who were there. You feel understood, validated and sometimes learn about things you never knew happened… to add to your memories.
  • blogging – I have love love loved blogging this vacation. It’s actually amazing to look back so far and see all the things I’ve forgotten. Not amazing in a good way… but mom brain is not always a reliable working brain. So I’m super grateful for this blog.
  • super comfy bed – The bed in the room I stay in at my parents is like a cloud. I always look forward to sleeping there, and cuddling with all the kitty’s who visit me on the bed.
  • access to a car – my parents always let me use one of their cars when we visit. It is so gracious of them and I admit to loving to pop out once in a while.
  • cozymels restaurant – when we lived here Cozymels was my favorite Mexican restaurants. It hold so many happy memories of dinners with friends & family, important conversations and banana pudding.
  • family recipes – one of my very favorite things about going to my parents’ house is raising my mom’s cookbook stash to copy out some childhood favorites. I’ll post some for you soon.
  • our three girls – so grateful for our three girls who are the best little travelers. I honestly could not travel nearly as much if they didn’t obey and make good choices.
  • travel – It is such a blessing to travel. To be able to visit family. To visit friends. Space Camp. Now Disney. I have so much gratitude for that.
  • personal freedom – Last but not least I do not take for granted my personal freedom. I can go where I want. But what I want. Return when I please. Life was not always like this while we were in school for the first 15 years of our marriage, and I don’t take this blessing for granted.

So thanks Chicago, until next time! We have enjoyed our stay and look forward to returning (probably in the winter).

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


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!!!


  • 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


  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.