Category Archives: Life Update

This is parenthood.

I have been unusually emotional these last few days.

Perpetually on the verge of tears, it feels like my heart is being tugged into my throat. Combine that with a sudden and acute awareness of my mortality and how short life is.

I know, heavy stuff.

My worry is that these feelings have set up shop in my life and don’t plan on leaving any time soon. In fact, if I’m totally honest, I’m preparing myself to live with these exact feelings for the rest of my life. This is what parenthood is…isn’t it.


Before Leo was born, life was just sort of happening around me. Sure we made plans and propelled our life forward, bought a house, made investments, went to the dentist. But I was waiting for something, for a baby and for our family to start, and so I just sort of went through the motions thinking that once we had our baby, then life would ‘really’ start.

Well, he’s here and it has started and now I’m in a panic of how quickly it’s all going to end. I lie awake at night wondering if we should live in Denver or somewhere else, stay in our house or move to the suburbs, breast feed until he’s five or consider 6 months a success. I wonder if earlier that day when I laid him down on his play mat and left him alone for 5 minutes I did irreparable emotional damage.

You know. Things like that.  : )

I realize a lot of this is completely normal and let me assure you not nearly as distressing as it sounds. It’s just that I can see so clearly into the future now that Leo is here, the problem is that there are many different futures. How do you choose what’s right?  It’s intense!

To make the things that Jon and I dream about possible (a place in the mountains, fun family vacations and experiences, a big ‘forever’ home) he has to work really, really hard. That will likely mean less time at home for him, more Leo duties for me, and more stress all around. The alternative is he pumps the breaks at work, probably doesn’t reach his full potential, and we make ourselves ok with the fact that we’ll never have a place in the mountains or give our kid(s) the experiences we hoped to. Maybe it doesn’t have to be one or the other, maybe we can have both?

Suddenly living in Denver isn’t as straightforward as it has been. Raising kids is going to look a lot different than I imagined not having my family nearby. I am constantly looking at flights home and then have to repeatedly remind myself that we live here. Not there. I can’t have one foot in one place and one in the other, as much as I’d like to. I’ve done that before and it’s torture, but you know what else is torture? Having a 3+ month old that my Mom and Dad have only seen once and that 3 out of 4 of my siblings have never met.

Moving back to Minnesota isn’t necessarily the answer either.  Jon would have to give up his career and never know ‘what could’ve been’.  We would have to give up living in a climate that we love and all the mountain activities that we enjoy.  Would it be worth it though, to raise Leo near close friends and family and give him a similar upbringing to what we had?


That’s the problem you guys.  I don’t know what the right answer is.  Hence the night time paralyzation.  The reality is that I’m only familiar with one upbringing, which is my own, and no matter how many options are in front of us, one that I know isn’t going to happen is us moving to Ada and raising Leo in my parents house in a time before the internet and cell phones.

So.  It’s going to be different from what I know no matter what.

I realize that he’ll likely be fine (probably more than fine) no matter what.  In all honesty, it’s more about Jon and I than anything else.  What can we live with?  What can we live without? What are our expectations for our own lives and do they have to change now that we have a child?

The truth is, Jon and I need to sit down and get real about what’s really important to us and how we make those things a reality. Honest to goodness I want to make a vision board (don’t tell Jon, I’m going to try and trick him into it) and hang it somewhere so that every day we have a visual reminder of what’s really important. It was tough to map all of that out pre-Leo because you never know how parenthood will change you. Now that he’s here, and we understand more clearly the love we have for him and our willingness to sacrifice for him, we can start coming up with a plan.

Meanwhile, I’ll have to adjust to living with my heart in my throat and do my best to soak up every second of my time with Leo, and be ok with the fact that I don’t have it all figured out just yet (and never will).

Wait, you thought I would actually write a post and not include any photos?

Do you not know me at all?!



“That glass coffee table is a mistake”, they all said.

“You’re going to regret that once you have kids.” they said.

Want to know how I got 30 uninterrupted minutes of laundry, kitchen cleaning and emails done?


How do you like me now?




Costa Rica – Papagayo Peninsula


Costa Rica.  What can I say?  We had an absolute blast.  It was easily the best vacation we’ve ever been on together, and given the chance, we would love to go back.  It’s a wonderful place and if you ever have the chance to visit…do it!

I’ve split the trip into two parts, the first being our arrival in Costa Rica (we flew into Liberia) and stay at Papagayo Peninsula, which is located in Northwestern Costa Rica.  We had the privilege to experience the exceptional Four Seasons resort for five glorious days thanks to Jon and his being a rockstar at work.  Marcus and Millichap brokers gathered from all over the country for a week of getting spoiled, rewarded, wined and dined.  It was amazing.  The yearly trip is called The National Achievement Awards and they took such over the top great care of us.  Also, it was pretty special for me to watch Jon get acknowledged for his hard work and accomplishments.  CostaRica-33 CostaRica-61 CostaRica-60 The resort itself was unbelievable.  The property where the resort is located is so unique and so spectacular.  The staff was absurdly nice (which is a well known fact about Costa Rican people) and that truly is what made our stay at the resort as fabulous as it was.  CostaRica-58 CostaRica-57 CostaRica-56 CostaRica-59Most of the brokers were lucky enough to get their own private bungalow located in the hills and bluffs surrounding the property.  This made it necessary to take a chauffeured golf cart back and forth (boo hoo), but the beauty and views from the bungalows was way worth it.CostaRica-12 CostaRica-13 CostaRica-11 CostaRica-7 This is right off our balcony.  Monkeys.  Monkeys for everyone!CostaRica-8 CostaRica-9 CostaRica-10One of the great features since the resort is located on a peninsula is the access to the ocean on both sides, mere steps away from the several pools.  So spoiled.  
CostaRica-1 CostaRica-2 CostaRica-49 CostaRica-48CostaRica-47What?  You’re tired of the sand and need to cool off?  Walk up some stairs and take a dip.CostaRica-5 CostaRica-6 CostaRica-3 CostaRica-50 CostaRica-46 CostaRica-52 CostaRica-45 CostaRica-51

Enough of all that pesky rest and relaxation.

Let the activities drinking begin!

CostaRica-62 The first big evening event was the welcome reception on the beach.  There was dancing, tequila, great food all while listening to the ocean roll in right beside us.  It was a pretty clear picture of what the rest of the week would look like.  More food and drink than any group (even our large group) of brokers could possible consume.  Although we did try.


CostaRica-90CostaRica-63Just like the photo above, things got a little blurry after that.  : )CostaRica-14 The next morning there was a first time attendee reception/brunch where we hobnobbed with other newbies, took prom-esque photos and looked like we were standing in front of a green screen.   Weird.  CostaRica-65 CostaRica-66After we busted outta there we signed up for a tour of the beautiful golf course and it’s wildlife.  It ended up being the place where one of the strangest things of all time happened to me (I’ll explain in a minute).

CostaRica-22 CostaRica-18 CostaRica-16 CostaRica-15 CostaRica-17 CostaRica-21 Jon had the choice to golf while we were there, but he chose not to because he wanted to spend all of his time with me.   Awwwwwwwwww…………. : )  As a reward I caught him this monkey.  CostaRica-19

In case you were wondering, yes those are monkey nuts and yes we find them hilarious around here.CostaRica-20 CostaRica-25 CostaRica-26 CostaRica-24

So on this day this happened…

CostaRica-27…lend me your ears while I explain how INSANE that photo is.

Jon and I signed up last minute for a tour of the beautiful golf course, so last minute in fact that they almost didn’t let us do it.  We got the OK so we climbed into an empty resort van that was going to take us over and we began to pull away.  Suddenly (it’s very exciting) a couple comes running out of the hotel and jumps in the van to head over with us, for they too had signed up for the tour.  We get to chatting in the van, Jon asks if they’re with Marcus and Millichap and they sigh heavily and say no, but that it’s kind of frustrating being two of only 13 other people at the resort that aren’t with the company (there were 300 of us overwhelming a mere 15 others).  I totally get their frustration because we were an obnoxious partying group.  Anyway, we start talking about the Superbowl game that was taking place later that day and ask if they’re a fan of the teams.  The man says no, I say we aren’t either and that we’re actually Vikings fans.  The man exclaims that he is as well, being from Minnesota and all.  Jon and I are in shock that the people that hopped in our van just happen to be from Minnesota just like us(just. you. wait.)!  They explain that they currently live outside of the Twin Cities, but then the man explains that he’s from a very small town that we’ve never heard of.

Jon: Oh really?  Where?

Man: Trust me, you’ve never heard of it.

Jon: Just try her (referencing me) she knows a lot of small towns.

Man: Alright.  Well I’m from a small town called Ada.

Ali (after her head spun around three times):  SHUT UP!  (I think I almost slapped him out of shock) I’m from Ada!

Man: Haha very funny. (I think he called me a liar)

Ali: No, seriously you aren’t from Ada.  That’s not possible because I’M from Ada and I don’t know you and I know everybody from Ada.

Man:  I grew up there!  Name somebody you know.

Ali: Uhhh Dr. Kinkade?  Bob Kinkade?  Mindy Kinkade?

Man:  You know Mindy?

Ali:  Ummm yes only so much as she’s my mom.

Man:  What?  Mindy is your MOM?!  I went to high school with her.  I know your mom.  We both know your mom.  And your Dad, and your relatives, and everybody else you can possibly list.

This went on and on and on and nobody could believe it.  I couldn’t stop looking at Jon and saying can you f#$*ing believe this???  Pardon my french.

Let me drive this home for you (bewilderingly nobody is as stunned by this as we all were).

We are in a different country.   On the same days out of the entire year.  We are at a remote resort.  We are with 300 other people.  They happen to be TWO of the only FIFTEEN other people at this resort.  They jumped in OUR van that we almost didn’t get on, we get to talking only to find that they and I ALL grew up in a tiny tiny town in Northern Minnesota of 1,700 people and we met each other for the FIRST time in Costa Rica.

W. T. F.

It was easily the strangest thing to ever happen to me and I’m still in complete shock when I think about it.  We had a few rounds of drinks and necessary Ada gossip with them, saw them again for breakfast before they left, and it was such a great addition to an already great vacation.

So bizarre.  SUCH a small world.

CostaRica-67We wrapped up with our insane run in and proceeded with the evening, which happened to be Super Bowl Sunday!  CostaRica-28 CostaRica-29 The company threw another great party for everyone, Jon gambled (weird) and won some money, and we all had a blast…again.CostaRica-30 CostaRica-31 CostaRica-53 CostaRica-54 CostaRica-68 CostaRica-69 CostaRica-70 CostaRica-71 CostaRica-72 CostaRica-73Bright and early the following morning we headed out for our group activity of choice…we chose SURFING!!  This was our third time trying it out and it’s pretty safe to say that neither of us have progressed much in our skill level.  Still, surfing is so fun and a great workout.
CostaRica-35 We went with our little group of 20 or so M & M people to Tamarindo, a bohemian little beach town south of the resort, for a full day of fun in the sun.CostaRica-34 CostaRica-36 CostaRica-76 I’m actually not horrible at surfing.  I feel no shame in bragging just a little because it’s the ONE athletic activity that I’m better than Jon at.  Maybe just barely, but it counts.  Jon will tell you it’s because I was teachers pet with our instructor, my side of the story is that I was willing to ask for help…unlike some people.  CostaRica-75 CostaRica-74 A lot of people quit early, but he and I were out there all afternoon.  We had so much fun.CostaRica-77 It just wouldn’t be fair if I forgot to point out my incredible instructor and his great abs smile front and center.  CostaRica-37 CostaRica-38 CostaRica-39 CostaRica-40 CostaRica-41 CostaRica-42A little lunch on the beach and then back to the Four Seasons.

Oh…you think our day ends after surfing for 10 hours?


We had the big awards dinner that night.  Heels to stuff our swollen feet into, dresses to cover up our sunburn with, and yet more food and alcohol to consume.  Hey, somebody’s gotta do it.  CostaRica-78 We cleaned up pretty nicely (Jon’s face was a little rosy) and spent the evening listening to some great speeches and watching some deserving people get big fat awards.CostaRica-55 It was way more than I imagined it would be (production wise) and I was pretty proud of Jon for being part of such a great and successful company.

I wanted to make sure I took no attention away from him that night, so I went with a bright neon fluorescent pink flowing dress.  NICE and subtle.  CostaRica-79 If you can’t wear it in Costa Rica, than really where can you.CostaRica-81 CostaRica-82 CostaRica-80After all the hoopla, applauding, music and dancing we ended up a little tipsy on the beach with some friends and champagne to celebrate.  CostaRica-43 This next one is for my critics that say I only post flattering photos of myself…CostaRica-44


CostaRica-89 I didn’t feel like giving an intro for the above photo.  Just wanted shock and awe.  Hahahaha.

Yep.  That happened.

I’ll admit, when I found out we were expected to show up at a costume party (for which I’d been told people go ALL out – and I mean all out hire makeup artists, fly in costumes etc.) I was NOT happy.  That meant packing MORE stuff that seemed unnecessary, plus I don’t like dressing up, especially not by force.  Long story short, I made Jon dress like a fool and I slapped on some wings and antenna.  The night ended up being really fun, again – way way way over the top as far as overall production – and Jon got up on stage for having one of the best costumes.  It was cool.
CostaRica-83 CostaRica-84 CostaRica-85 CostaRica-86 CostaRica-87 CostaRica-88After a long night of partying, we prepared to say goodbye to new friends, everything being free, and the incredible resort.

We got as much sleep as we could, packed up our suitcases and loaded ourselves into our rental car for the next leg of our adventure.  Little did we know, the adventure had barely begun.

A new challenge.

As some of you may know, I recently quit my job.


I immediately felt like I lost 20 pounds, all my muscles loosened for the first time in years, and I didn’t wake up to an instant feeling of anxiety and dread.

It was time.

Actually, the correct ‘time’ to quit passed longer ago than I’m willing to admit.  Better late than never I guess.

The job very much served its purpose for me and from it I gained relationships that I cannot imagine my life without.  That being said, it had become an absolutely toxic influence on my life, spreading negativity into every single available space.

It was time and since leaving I feel like I’ve got a new lease on life.

I’ve also got some time on my hands while I figure out my next move.

Enter Anna Karenina.

AnnaKarenina-1I have started this book approximately 14 times, usually get a good 80 pages in, and then I slowly quit.

Well, Keira Knightley is currently in starring in a movie adaptation of this book and it looks exactly like my favorite kind of film.  I can’t WAIT to see it.  I decided (after finding myself spending way to much time on pinterest lately) to spend an hour or so during my mornings alone attempting to finish this book.

My motivation?  I am not allowing myself to see the movie until I finish the book.

To get from here…


…to here…AnnaKarenina-4…takes reading this many pages.  Woof.AnnaKarenina-3Considering I want to see the film while it’s still in the theaters, I need to get my ass in gear.  Luckily for me I truly enjoy reading and have always been fast at it.  I just need to keep my interesest piqued in the slow moving, complicated, and epic storyline.  My books of choice lately have been embarrassingly easy reads (Twilight, Hunger Games, 50 Shades of Grey) that I just blow through in a few days, so this 800 pager will be a brain stimulating change of pace.

I’ll keep you updated (it really just keeps me accountable) and I’d love it if somebody would join me!  Otherwise, wish me luck.

P.S. Have any of you ever read this book cover to cover?  What did you think?



A Life Update…

With all of the events or ‘goings on’ in our life being documented on Midwest Mountainess the little things making up our day to day tend to fall by the wayside.  Our existence is not only made up of my insecurities, day dream shopping and vacations (I wish).

Making people believe that is not what I wanted this blog to be. Do I think every single move I make every single day of my life deserves your attention, valued time AND internet documentation?  Absolutely not.  I’m amazed that ANYbody reads ANYthing I say.

But I do  think the little things are important, both in blogging and in life.  I don’t believe in sweating the small stuff as they say, but rather I think the little things could offer my readers something of a context on which to better base all the other ‘fun stuff’.  And let’s face it, the day to day life is where all the big stuff really happens anyway.

So I’ve decided to start incorporating a Life Updates post here and there.  Maybe quarterly, or maybe when I feel things are changing and it’s necessary.  I really hope it can offer some insight (for those of you who don’t know us very well) into who we are, what we’re doing out here in the wild west, and the trajectory we hope our life to have.

Let’s do it.


I’m going to start with Marlo because if I’m being honest, she’s the most entertaining of the three of us.

Marlo continues to spend her days sleeping and her nights moonlighting as a dog. Chewing cords and shoelaces, scratching the shit out of anything she can find, running laps around our condo at surprisingly impressive speeds, meowing/howling at the edge of the bed to get our attention, staring out the window just DYING to chase some squirrels, drinking of out toilets, etc.  She TRULY believes she’s a dog.  Ask Ashley or Erin who house/catdog sit for us.  It’s bizarre.

I can’t lie however and have to admit that she has really mellowed.  There was a time I used to fantasize about leaving the window open by accident before I left for work.  Don’t judge me.  It was REALLY that bad.  We’ve been doing test runs with letting her out on our patio (which is 2 stories up) hoping she won’t try to jump.  I don’t think she will and she really loves being outside so I hope we can continue to let her out on supervised adventures.

This was circulating on Facebook awhile back and I think this is exactly what goes on in her mind so I thought I’d share.

The Dog’s Diary:

8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!

1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 pm – Dinner! My favorite thing!

7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


The Cat’s Diary:

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Jerks!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now.

I WOULD apologize for all that but I do note in the ‘about me’ page that I am currently somewhat of a crazy cat lady.  Girl Ryan if you’re reading, you’re not only welcome for all of that, but also, thank you for understanding me.  : )


Jon is SO busy at work he barely knows which end is up.  For those of you that don’t know, my husband sells commercial real estate for a company called Marcus and Millichap and he is an absolute rock star.  I have loved watching him work hard and succeed at his job and have been lucky to be by his side through the roller-coaster that a 100% commission job can bring.  Things have been on an upslope for the last 6 months and I know he doesn’t like me to brag, but he has been kickin’ ass and takin’ names.  I get to be proud due to the whole married thing.

Another tidbit to know about Jon is he is one of those ‘work out people’.  So annoying right?  He literally can not function as a normal human if he doesn’t work out and begins to turn into a toddler if he doesn’t.  For my 25th birthday (the one where I cried all day) he bought me a road bike in the hopes I would turn into a similar work out freak.  Hahahahahah.  Ha.  Silly man.  What came out of it was that HE wanted a road bike, bought himself a real beauty, and has since been a bit of an road bike savant.

In a little over a month he is a participant in something called “The Triple Bypass”.  No it’s not open heart surgery but as far as I’m concerned it might as flipping well be.  He (in one day) will race over 120 miles on his bike over three mountain passes.  He will incline over 10,000 feet over the entire day.  On. A. Bike.

I’ll let that absolute HELL sink into your brain.

Yes he wants to do it and yes he’s even looking forward to it.  I choose not to think about it for too long or I get sick to my stomach with nerves.  If you’ve never been to the mountains, a mountain pass isn’t scary for the incline, it’s scary for the impending decline at 40+ miles per hour on a skinny little bike with barely any clothes on.  40mph down a mountain highway on a bicycle.  He’s crazy.  He’s also in much better shape physically and mentally than me so maybe I could take a few cues.

So he and I are cutting down on the drinking (except wine) and picking up on the healthy eating (except chocolate) and working out (except on weekdays) over the next month in order to help prepare him as best we can.  Yay.

One of the positives to come out of this bike ride is it presented the perfect opportunity for me to finagle another Minnesota trip this summer!

Yes finagle is a word.  It means ‘to obtain by trickery’ which is exactly what I did.

So.  I reminded him how we “both” have always wanted to ride our bikes around the lake area and being the 4th of July is right before his race wouldn’t it just be the perfect time to go home and the perfect training for him?  Riding his bike at sea level on flat ground rather than at altitude with 10,000 ft of incline sounds like exactly the kind of training he needs to me! : )  Anywho – we’re planning on outfitting my brand new car with a brand new bike rack and taking her on her first road trip to Minnesota.  Obviously…I can’t wait.

My turn?

Deep breath.  Ok.


After today I will officially and legally be a Hendrickson.  I will sit at the DMV to complete the final step of changing my name on my license.  So there’s that.

I got my first ever brand new car about a month ago.  In my mind I still believe it’s just a rental car and that it’s not really mine.  I went from not having air conditioning to having a car that talks to me.  It’s pretty crazy, but I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t thrilled.  Getting a new car means getting rid of my old one which has been irrationally hard on me.  I haven’t done it yet.  Jon nags me every single day so it’s going to happen soon.  I’ll definitely write a post about it next week.

If it happens : )

I worked a shift at my job last night and made less than $30.  I was there for almost 6 hours and I happen to be really good at math so I can break that down to tell you I made $5 an hour.  Even though making that little is rare, it’s just not rare enough and definitely NOT worth a night away from my husband, friends and home.  My point is, I’m ready to move on and I’m in the stages of doing so.  It’s scary…change always kind of is for me.

Moving away from that job means moving towards another and this time it’s the one I’ve always dreamed of.  I really want to give the photography thing ‘a go’.  Saying that out creates a pit in my stomach that I can’t quite figure out (terror maybe) so I keep saying it quietly, and then a little louder, hoping the pit eventually goes away.

I have 4 (paid!) shoots  coming up in the next few weeks and have been doing daily confidence boosting exercises so that I don’t e-mail them all to cancel because I’m a wussy scaredy cat.  I spend a lot of time trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that scares the shit out of me.  I think a lot of it can be contributed to a pretty universal fear…I’m scared they won’t like me.

We’ll see.  I’m excited to just fricken DO IT ALREADY and stop talking about it.

Other than that our free time goes to keeping up and in touch with friends, enjoying the outstanding Denver summers, and just settling into our life.  We’re really really happily married, we’re figuring out all the ‘not fun’ stuff newly married people are supposed to like insurance, taxes, checking accounts etc.  We’ve begun to think about buying a house.  Aren’t quite ready to think about babies.

It’s all becoming pretty grown up around here (except for Marlo) and it’s turning out to be surprisingly awesome.  We love our neighborhood, Denver, and Colorado more and more every day and only become further convinced that this is where we’ll stay.  I’m excited about that.  I’m looking forward to what the future is going to bring us because I can honestly say I have every faith that it’s going to be really good.

There you have it – a Life Update for you.  Here’s to a busy summer full of my insecurities, lots and lots of day dream shopping, and hopefully a decent amount of vacations!