Seester Sunday: Flashback to February

This Seester Sunday occurred on February 23, 2020. I am writing this post in the midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic and realizing just how much I took for granted just two months ago. My seester Sarah has been super busy homeschooling four of her five kids, while also caring for the fifth and getting ready to give birth to a sixth child in July! I am posting this without her, as she may or may not add her piece later. 😉

Mel:

I enjoyed this last pre-quarantine, in person Seester Sunday surrounded by family. I stayed overnight with Mom and Dad in Durant, since we celebrated Dad’s birthday on that Saturday night.

We kids were also surprised with a set of DVDs for each of us with old family movies on them! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Dad cooked me an awesome ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for breakfast. So good.

Then I attended mass with my sister and her family at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wilton. This was a special Sunday, as it was nephew Gabriel’s first time as altar server. Of course this godmother had to take a few pictures. 😉

We stuck around for donuts after mass while the kids had Sunday School. Niece Amelia also took a few photos for me.

And Kateri was on the move during the entire time. This girl is growing so fast!

After the pups and I went back to Durant and lounged with my parents for a bit, we were off to Bennett to take my nephew Gabriel and two oldest nieces Lucy and Amelia to a birthday party in Tipton.

Once the birthday party was over, we dropped the kiddos back at home in Bennett and then headed home ourselves.

Such a fun day!

Seester Sunday: Chili, Books, and Rest!

This edition of Seester Sunday occurred on February 9, 2020. Sarah posted it on time; alas, I did not (per usual).

Mel:

Today was truly a Sunday Funday! I was busy with a few awesome activities today.

After mass, I attended our Basilica’s Knights of Columbus 10th Annual Chili Cook Off. I had a blast trying four out of the seven chilis. I would have tried more, but I was stuffed and did not want to be miserable for the rest of the day.

Today I wore one of my “winterized ensembles.” This full outfit is from Target. I started with a sundress, and then added a cami, cardigan, tights, and boots. I was careful with the color selections for each of my additions, as I did not want to over power the floral print with too much black, and I also did not want to look out of place and washed out with too much white.

I really enjoy pulling colors out of prints to complete an outfit. I wore my favorite blue Silpada earrings that I wore last week. And this week I added my necklace with Saint Agnes (my confirmation patron saint) and Miraculous medals.


After all of that chili eating, I was ready to relax with the pups. The only thing better than reading books is reading books while snuggling with dogs. It’s simply the best.

I finished my day with an evening shift working at Barnes and Noble. I made a few book recommendations tonight and splurged on some cheesecake during my break.

Hope you have a great week!

Sarah:

Well my Sunday was much less exciting than Mel’s, but still good!

We have been battling the plague for the entire past week 6 weeks at our house. Jeremiah was hit HARD on Mon/Tues and really didn’t emerge from the trenches until Friday evening. Gabriel was home from school for 3 days this week. By Sunday morning, Jeremiah still wasn’t feeling great, and offered to stay home with Kateri. I jumped on that idea, because ‘Me/4 kids in Mass alone’ sounds a lot better than ‘Me/5 kids in Mass alone’!

I quickly got myself ready while the older 4 got dressed and we were off. Ruth was naughty during church (what’s new?) but everyone else was fine and well behaved. I shared with Jeremiah awhile ago that I know one of the specific reasons God gave me Ruth was to keep me HUMBLE. And that she does, very well, almost daily. After Mass, the kids ate doughnuts while I chatted with a friend, then we all went to our respective Sunday School classes. Gabriel’s class played Bible Jeopardy for part of their session, how fun! My 1st grade class talked about Baptism and Sacraments.

My outfit was an oldie, but a goodie. My shirt was thrifted a long time ago and is super long. I like to tie it in a little knot to give it a little something and so it’s not shapeless. This shirt is so wonderful because I have worn it when I am trying to hide a post-baby pudgey belly, when I’m not pregnant, AND when I am pregnant, and I think it looks decent in all situations and is very forgiving–my favorite types of clothes!! My leggings are maternity from Old Navy and I basically live in them when they’re not in the washer. I wore tall boots and forgot to put earrings in. I did nothing with my hair other than a ponytail because that’s how I roll a lot of days and Kateri pulls on it all day anyways. 😉 This pic was taken right before bed, so yes, I look a bit tired and my glasses are on. haha!

Photo cred to Ruth(?)

After that we all headed home on icy roads and had lunch. The rest of the day consisted of me getting 100 pages into a new book (“A Woman is No Man” by Etaf Rum–VERY GOOD), watching an episode of “Flip Wars” on Prime, helping Gabriel with a pile of makeup homework (–see couch), making all people take a nap (they all were quiet for 2 hours!!! WIN!), planning our week in my planner, keeping Kateri from climbing on me too much, doing laundry, watching the kids go crazy (anyone else’s people have cabin fever?!) and ordering dinner in from the bar/grille in town. A good, restful Sunday, but I am happy to see and feel the sun today!!

Seester Sunday: Groundhog Day

Melissa:

Well, so much for posting again “next week.” Ha ha. (See our last post from A MONTH ago!) Life happens, I guess. 

This Sunday is a big day for a lot of people. Not only is it Super Bowl Sunday, but in Iowa, it is Caucus Eve!

I worked at Barnes and Noble during the day today and afterward took Percy and Gemma for a nice, long walk around Gray’s Lake.

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Then we stayed in and watched the Super Bowl. I can’t remember the last time we had a night in. With holding a final 50-50 in 2020 three day candidate training for women running for office, wrapping up the 50-50 in 2020 organization as a whole, lining up new clients to begin work for on February 1st and after, attending caucus events, and dating (Yes, the first date at Centro has turned into several dates now!) during the past three weeks, this lady has been on the go a lot. 

Today I wore a sweater, tank, and Pixie pants from Old Navy. This was the perfect outfit for today: practical and comfortable for work, and something I could keep on for the rest of the day at the lake and at home. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it a million times yet or not, but I like to get dressed once for the day and call it good. 

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I accessorized with my main thing: earrings. These I bought from a Lia Sophia consultant eons ago:

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I wore my tall brown boots to Barnes and Noble and then switched to my waterproof ankle boots for lake time. Both pairs of boots are from – you guessed it – Target! 

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While life has been crazy lately, I have continued to stock up on books for the slower days ahead. Today’s Barnes and Noble purchase:

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Hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl, and if you live in Iowa, please caucus tomorrow! I recommend caucusing for Amy Klobuchar. 🙂

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Sarah:

Happy Candelmas/Feast of the Presentation, Eve of Jeremiah’s birthday, Superbowl Sunday, Groundhog Day, National Tator Tot Day, and the first global palindrome day in 909 years. How’s that for a great setup for the day?!

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Today’s outfit consisted of a white maternity tshirt, jean jacket and thrifted black maxi skirt with black Old Navy leggings underneath. I wore boots as well. I also, like my sister, like to get dressed ONCE for the day, and I hate changing during the day, so this is what I wore for everything! My legs were warm and I like having the option to remove my jacket as I tend to get quite *warm* these days! I wore this outfit for church, brunch, walking to the library, folding laundry, making food, soothing a fussy toddler, photographing handstands, delegating jobs, loading the dishwasher, overeating Superbowl food and visiting at my parent’s house. Gabriel was a gift bearer at church today and Lucy read half of the prayers of the faithful as it was 3rd and 4th grade Mass ministries today. It was a good day!

We will hopefully be back again soon with another installment of Seester Sunday!

Seester Sunday: Happy New Year!

I am continuing to catch up with posting our Seester Sunday updates. This post should finally bring us up to date. 😉

Sarah:

After a bit of an absence with Seester Sunday, we’ve decided to (try) to get back into the habit. This week followed a snowy Saturday that left us cooped up in the house most of the day. The kids were a bit antsy and honestly we didn’t do much. I spent a good majority of the day on the couch and J even cooked dinner (spaghetti-his trademark 😉  ).

All that to say we were slow getting up and about on Sunday morning and were LATE to church after de-icing the van and driving on slick roads. Kateri was the only one who got her hair fixed and Ruth wore her snow boots. We were even short one kid as Lucy was at a sleepover. We walked in and Ruth took off in Ruth-fashion running up the center aisle to where we usually sit…..except we weren’t sitting there because, as I mentioned, we were LATE and had to sit elsewhere. Ahem. Anyways, here’s what I wore:

 Who’s that handsome teenager standing next to me? Oh, that’s only my man-child, Gabriel. I somehow convinced him to get in a pic with me. In case you’re interested, he now can wear man-sized jeans, I buy his shoes from the men’s section and he no longer needs a booster in the car. {tears**}

My dress/tunic/long shirt thing is thrifted and old and some brand I’ve never heard of. I love it. It’s comfy and forgiving. It’s short enough that I don’t wear it in the summer but feel comfortable putting it with leggings. I can bend over and wrangle Ruth kids without my hiney showing. My leggings are run-of-the-mill from Old Navy and are much warmer than they look! Boots are my favorite grey ones from Famous Footwear that I’ve had for 2 years.   And that’s that!

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Melissa:

So, the reason this Seester Sunday post is a day late is because yours truly did not get her act together in time for a Sunday post. While I do not ANY human children, nor do I have a husband, my life seems to keep me busy with other things.

I spent my snowy Saturday working at Barnes and Noble. What began as a part time seasonal job has become a permanent part time job that I absolutely LOVE. Hopefully I can continue to balance my bookselling job with everything else going on in my increasingly crazy life!

On Saturday night, I had an amazing first date at Centro, my favorite restaurant in downtown Des Moines. Then, I was invited to join this great guy for a second breakfast date on Sunday morning before mass. While I was home by 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night, I barely slept! Glad I still woke up early on Sunday though, because breakfast was awesome.

After breakfast on Sunday, I attended 10:30 a.m. mass at the Basilica of St. John. Then I came home for some office time. My client 50-50 in 2020, whom I currently serve as Executive Director for, has A LOT going on during these next two weeks! By mid-afternoon, I was off to Barnes and Noble for the rest of the day and evening.

I also wore a thrift store gem during this past Sunday. I found this dress at Phase 2 Consignments in Grinnell, just over a year ago. This photo is not from Sunday, because, as we have established previously, I did not have my act together this week:

This photo is from the Women Lead Change Dubuque Conference in November 2019, where I exhibited on behalf of 50-50 in 2020. Paired with my dress then and this Sunday were Silpada earrings, and brown tights and boots from Target. I do not wear a lot of jewelry, and earrings are my go-to accessory – in addition to my glasses!

Another note on my dress: I love cowl necks and things that flow openly. Nothing is worse than a form-fitting dress when you are having a day when you feel bloated or fat. Yes, we must be self confident, but we all have those days because we are human.

We look forward to posting together again next week!

Seester Sunday: Happy Halloween!

This “Seester Sunday” article is being posted a full three months after the fact, as I have been busy with all things 50-50 in 2020 and caucus related! Thanks for your patience as I catch up on posts!

Sarah:

Happy Halloween! This week’s Seester Sunday is a little different as we were together all weekend! YAY! Mel arrived to our house Thursday evening and we got to do all kinds of fun things together until Sunday night! We had close to 6 inches of snow on Halloween so our trick or treating was postponed until Sunday evening, which ended up being a beautiful day. It worked out well. We got to go shopping, paint pumpkins, watch movies, celebrate a birthday, rake leaves, hike, eat a lot of yummy food, go to Mass (twice!) and trick or treat! Mel is a much better historian than me, so I’m sure she can fill in the details of the rest of the weekend in pictures, if she wishes 😉 . We got to go to Mass together on Sunday morning, and here we are afterwards, ready to eat brunch!

I got dressed before I got Lucy out of bed, and she decided we needed to be twins after she got up. I do enjoy this, as I’m pretty sure she won’t want to match me so much in a few short years! So I’m wearing a navy/white dress **with pockets** from HERE.  I also put on fleece lined tights from Target (so cozy!), a thrifted jean jacket and brown boots that I’ve had forever. Lucy’s entire outfit is thrifted, all from Once Upon a Child consignment stores (striped dress, jean jacket and boots), tights are from Walmart. Lucy’s always so adorable. The pic turned out good, but our first take looked like this:

Classic. Aunt and Mom fussing over Lucy’s hair to get it out of her face. Lucy’s cute regardless!

Brunch at our house was not complete today without Sunday Mimosas! Kateri was eyeing these pretty hard!

Later that night we went trick or treating. We had quite the crew!

Costume contest winners Snoopy with Charlie Brown and Sally; Anna from Frozen; a mermaid; a blue man; Tinkerbell; Waldo; a strawberry; Snow White. We now have way more candy than any family should ever own! 

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Melissa:

Yes, Happy Halloween! I have been thrilled to be able to dress up with my favorite little people and trick or treat with them for the past six years! This weekend marked year seven. You can check out our previous costumes at https://melissagesing.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/halloween-costume-history/.

In addition to our Halloween tradition, I try to attend mass with my sister’s family a few times a year outside of holidays. As a godparent to all of her kids, I think it’s important to partake in the sacraments with them, visit their parish, and try to be a spiritual role model – or at least a sounding board – as they get older. 

This Sunday I wore a new sweater and skirt outfit by A New Day at Target. My tights and boots are also from Target – surprise, I know! 😉 

Spending time with my sister’s family is truly a blessing. Here are a few more photos from our HalloWeekend:

Lunch with Amelia at Chick-fil-A!

 

Gabriel reading and snuggling with my pups. ❤️

Lucy painting her pumpkin.

Playing in the leaves with Ruth!

Finding Kateri playing in a box.

Happy Sunday Funday, everyone!

Halloween Costume History

Six years ago today – October 31, 2013 – I put on a Halloween costume for the first time in several years. I was inspired by my then four-year-old nephew Gabriel and two-year-old niece Lucy to find a fun costume and trick or treat with them. In 2012 I had trick or treated with them and decided then that the next year I was finally going to get into this costume thing.

I was never the kid who really got into costumes. Finding a costume was a task I had to do in order to get to the fun of parties and trick or treating. I had a couple of moments of costume brilliance in my 20s, such as when I dressed up as a devil:

I tried Wilma Flintstone once, but that doesn’t count because I botched that costume by not having the right dress with the right neckline due to very last minute shopping in between a Hawkeye football game and the Halloween party for which I was purchasing said costume:

So when I decided to go all in during 2013, I wanted to get it right. Gabriel was dressing up as Iron Man, and Lucy was going as Belle. I wanted to tie into one of those. As a real life godmother, I thought being a fairy godmother would be fun. However, I did not want to be the elderly godmother from Cinderella. I wanted to put a Lucy spin on it. I came up with what I thought Lucy would love her fairy godmother to look like:

Yes – lots of pink! 🙂 We had a blast on Halloween night, and now I was hooked.

By the time Halloween 2014 rolled around, I had adopted Percy the puggle. Since Percy was a part of the family and went everywhere with me, I knew he and I had to be a duo on Halloween night. I cut it close with the online shopping, but our costumes managed to arrive just in time:

Catwoman and Batman!

In 2015, I had to engage my artistic side and free hand a Starbucks logo:

Starbucks Barista and Pugkin Latte!

I was tempted to go with food costumes in 2016 but then found a classic costume that also seemed to be a fun tribute to my brother Mitch who was serving in the Navy at the time:

Sailor Girl and Sailor Dog!

By the time the fall of 2017 rolled around, I was wondering how on earth I could top the last few years. It always came together at the last minute, and this year was no exception:

Princess Leia and Chewbacca!

Last year I had a new challenge: One more dog to coordinate!

The Incredibles!

Now I was REALLY getting into this Halloween thing. We participated in our first Spooky Paws Parade, in addition to going on our annual trick or treating night with our favorite little people.

So that brings me to this year. I had it down to two themes well over a month out from Halloween – planning ahead for the first time ever! – and ended up choosing the Peanuts theme. I bought a human 3T t-shirt for Percy and managed to find a dress for Gemma. And my costume is proving to be perfect for the especially cold weather:

Charlie Brown, Sally Brown, and Snoopy!

We participated in our second Spooky Paws Parade last Sunday and will be dressing up to go trick or treating in Bennett tonight. Stay tuned for more photos!

We also entered our very first online costume contest this year. Percy and Gemma’s doggy daycare, The Barking Lot, is announcing the winner later today. Thank you to everyone who liked, loved, shared, and commented on our photo! We had a blast during the process, so win or lose, we will definitely compete again next year.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Seester Sunday: Keeping It Real

Welcome back to Seester Sunday! Today I had every intention of wearing a cute outfit to Mass and documenting our day. Instead…..I woke up at 4am to Lucy announcing she had been sick in her bed and it was all in her hair….I digress, you don’t want to read about that. The point is that I didn’t get to go to Mass today due to having sick kids. I also didn’t get to go to Mass last weekend because I was on day 3 of a terrific fever, body aches, headache and general I-feel-like-crap virus that never ended. I ALSO didn’t get to go to the weekday Mass I’ve been attending due to a sick child. *sigh* We have had sick kids for 3 weeks. They’ve shared viruses and all have taken their very own days to get through the illness, instead of all just doing it at once (my preference, but no one asked me)!

Anyways, today I took a shower right after J left with the ‘well kids’ for Mass and this is what I wore the rest of the day with 3 girls at home with me. Real life right here, folks. Adidas pants that are just about my favorite and a tshirt that we tie-dyed as a family a few years ago. At least I’m clean! I did change later in the day to do some painting. So this is as good as it gets. Kateri either wants me to hold her 24/7 or she’s climbing on me like a jungle gym, literally, OR shes unrolling all the toilet paper. If you’re wondering why there’s a pile of blankets behind me, it’s because there has been a kid on our floor almost every night for 3 weeks. They rotate, depending on who’s sick. It’s quite a trip…

Maybe next week I’ll have a decent What I Wore Sunday post. Until then, I hope we can get well and STAY well!

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Thankfully we have no flu virus at our place, but I did have to refill Percy the Puggle’s allergy meds last week. He was getting itchy again, and this time I caught it before we had full blown hot spots and all of that mess. The vet said that this has been a crazy season for pet allergies.

Rather than post my going-to-mass outfit today, I’ll keep it real like my sister and post another option: my Snoopy costume!

Percy, Gemma, and I participated in the Spooky Paws Parade in the East Village of Des Moines on Sunday afternoon. The weather was a bit chilly, but I was plenty warm in this year’s costume. I had the idea for Charlie Brown, Sally Brown, and Snoopy a month or so ago, and the theme came together nicely. I ended up buying a child’s size 3T shirt for Percy and then found an actual dog dress for Gemma. While we did not win a prize for our costumes, we did win a random drawing for a $25 gift card to Jett & Monkey’s pet store. So cool!

We have entered this photo into our doggy daycare’s Halloween costume contest, so Percy and Gemma will win a huge gift basket full of awesomeness if we get the most loves/likes on the photo. If you click here and love or like the photo, we would appreciate it!

Wishing better health to sister Sarah and her family! Stay tuned for a Halloween post on my blog Mel’s Musings later this week!

Seester Sunday: Happy Fall!

Seester Sunday: Happy Fall!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Seester Sunday – also referred to as What We Wore Sunday! These posts will be co-authored by my sister Sarah and yours truly. We both enjoy getting dressed up for church on Sundays and thought this may be a fun way to showcase that! We both have various things happening on Sundays, so we will give you a glimpse into our weekend activities too. According to my sister, I have great taste in fashion. She also manages to wear everything well and prides herself on finding a good bargain. Yes, we are quite the pair! We hope you enjoy following us in our common faith and routines, as well as our very different lives as a small town mom of five and a single city dweller with two fur kids. 😉 Check out my sister’s blog here.

Sarah:

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So today it was pretty chilly when I woke up. It was 36 degrees! I knew it was a sweater kind of day! I had just gotten a new sweater this past week, so I was excited to wear it. And it’s super cozy! It caught my eye at Walmart of all places. I love the mustardy/tan color and I think it screams fall. Jeremiah told me it reminded him of Velma from Scooby Doo when it was on the hanger *ahem*–not the look I was going for–…..but then he told me it looked good when I put it on. Whatevs. I like it. My pants are black skinny jeans from Target, the A New Day brand. I bought them specifically for work but I actually really like them otherwise and find myself reaching for them a lot. Confession–the last time I wore black jeans was probably 4th grade so it was really weird to put them on at first! Boots are from Famous Footwear I believe, and I wear them ALOT. Some Sundays I dress up more than others, it just depends on what I’m feeling and the weather!!

I didn’t get a pic of the kids dressed up, but may try to do that sometimes. Lucy had several instances of high drama with her clothing choices (Mom! I have no long sleeves! Why are all my cardigans so itchy?! Why don’t I have any winter dresses like Amelia?! Blah blah blah) but settled on a cute outfit. Amelia complained the whole Mass about how itchy her tights were. (Maybe my kids all need some lotion?!) Ruth rocked a pair of sparkly pack boots with a dress I had originally made for Lucy when she was 3 or 4. Yep. Regardless, we made it to Mass before 8:30am, always a win!

The kids did pretty well during Mass. After Mass we always have coffee and doughnuts while the kids go to Sunday School. It was my week off of teaching so I got to sit around and visit too. All the kids go to Sunday school this year except for Kateri, so it’s kind of quiet, which is nice. After that we go to brunch at the in-laws and it’s a good time and good food!

Today we came home around 12:15 to change clothes and leave again for an outdoor work day at the preschool playground. Let’s just say things went well for awhile and then all of a sudden it was apparent that the 3 youngest girls definitely needed a nap! So, home I went. The rest of the day we were at home resting, doing things around the house, getting ready for the week and preparing food: the usual!

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Melissa:

When Sarah asked me about doing a joint blog post on Sundays, I did not hesitate to say yes. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I love going to 10:30 a.m. mass at the Basilica of St. John in Des Moines. I love usually being able to take a full day for myself. I truly try to put the “Funday” into “Sunday Funday.”

This morning was one of those crisp, fall mornings that I long for during the dog days of summer. I knew it was going to be a boots and tights day, and I welcome that. I bought a new Prologue dress at Target a few weeks ago, and today was my second day wearing it. I love this dress because it is one of those throw on and go items that is super comfy and practical for mass, as well as my day full of activities. Oddly enough, I too had someone give me a hard time about my wardrobe choice. When I wore this outfit for the first time a couple of weeks ago, an elderly man outside of the Urbandale Public Library asked me what I was dressed up as, and then said, “a pilgrim?” I replied with, “No, this is just my outfit for today!” – with a big smile on my face.

I get dressed once for the day, and that’s what I wear all day, so versatility is key for me. Lately I like to get up earlier than needed in the morning so I can drink coffee, read my morning devotion, and snuggle with the pups on the couch. Sometimes I get partly ready for the day, pause for this, and then resume with makeup and hair, etc. Other days I stay in my pajamas for way longer than I should and then find myself in a mad dash to get out the door on time. Fortunately, today was one of the former.

Sunday mass is my reset button for the week. I sit on the “Joseph side” of the Basilica, in a small pew. While I do not sit directly beside anyone, I have people all around me. I enjoy fellowship during the sharing of the peace and after mass, but otherwise, I am a solo worshipper. I really try to be present and often find myself tearing up during certain hymns or right before and/or after the Eucharist. I have accepted that I am a weepy girl, and I feel so blessed to be so touched by something that it stirs up such an emotion in me.

Our parish has coffee, juice, and donuts on Sunday mornings, so I sometimes stay afterward for that. Today we had a raffle drawing, and while I did not win anything, it was fun to be a part of the fundraising project for the Basilica.

After mass, I took the fur kids to the dog park. At a balmy 51 degrees, it was a nice fall day, but it did require a coat and scarf for this girl who is almost always cold. Percy and Gemma love the dog park for the socialization with other pups, as well as the wide open space to run, sniff, and roll in disgusting things. I love the fresh air and quiet time to recharge.

Today we also swung by the Starbucks Drive Thru on the way home: Pumpkin Spice Latte for me, and pup cups for them. Once home, I settled in with my PSL and my current read while they snoozed.

This evening was our annual Basilica Foundation Autumn Wine and Cheese Fundraiser. The Basilica Foundation exists to provide funding for the upkeep of our beautiful building. I first attended this event last year, when I was brand new to the parish and just beginning RCIA classes.

How fast this past year flew by! I enjoyed a few glasses of tasty wine, some amazing cheese and chocolate, and great conversations with fellow parishioners. I love my Basilica family!

I get a C grade at best for capturing a full length photo of my outfit this week. After all, this dress HAS POCKETS! I was just having too much fun enjoying the day to worry about it (but yet I managed to take a ton of other photos!). Oh well! There’s always next week. 😉

For All of the Dads Who Chose Their Daughters

This Fathers’ Day is bittersweet for me. As a girl with two dads – one biological and one stepdad – Fathers’ Day has often been a balancing act. Whenever it became difficult, I reminded myself that I was fortunate to have the problem of two dads to honor.

My relationship with my biological father has often been strained, with long periods of time not speaking with him. While my parents divorced when I was a young three year old girl, and thus I have few memories of that time, the negative fallout over the years has been a struggle. As I have grown older and pieced more things together, I have realized that my mom had incredible courage to leave my biological dad and forge a better path ahead for us both.

I have strived to find a healthy way to have my biological father in my life during my adult years, and through many ups and downs – trying to figure out frequency of contact that would keep things positive and not destructive, celebrating when I thought I had a successful visit with my dad, apologizing for things I should not have apologized for, calling my father on Christmas Eve/Day to wish him a Merry Christmas during the past two years and then crying because he berated me on the phone, sitting silently by while he spoke ill of my family, trekking up to far Northeast Iowa multiple years to visit him when he never once left his farm to visit me or even meet me anywhere as an adult – I have determined that in an emotionally abusive relationship, there is no healthy balance. And so, with the turn of the calendar to 2019, I was done. I could no longer carry all of this on my shoulders.

Of course I will always love my biological father. That goes without saying, even if I cannot have a healthy relationship with him. He has good traits that were passed on to me, and I wish it was possible to have him in my life. At this point, it is not.

But wait, I led with the sad part of the story. The happy part is on its way!

After my mom divorced my biological dad, she met a wonderful guy named Dave and married him. At that point, Dave was my dad too. He never treated me as anything less than his daughter. Same with his family: I was their niece, granddaughter, cousin, etc. My stepdad even attempted to adopt me, but my biological father said that would never happen. So rather than go through a big battle, my last name remained Gesing. But to my stepdad’s family, I was a Schulz anyway. I didn’t need a document saying it.

As I have grown older, I have come to appreciate just how much strength and love it took for my stepdad – whom I call Dad – Dave to not only accept me, but to love me wholeheartedly, as part of a package deal when he married my mom. And when they had two kids, Sarah and Mitch, they were immediately my full sister and brother. We are all close, and I love it.

Dave was the dad who was there for it all: my first day of kindergarten, when I lost my first tooth, reassuring me when I was terrified to start driving (Crazy, right?! It’s true!), rebuilding my first car – a sweet red 1990 Plymouth Sundance with a sunroof, smiling proudly when I was named valedictorian at my high school graduation, helping me through the process of buying my first new car, patiently listening to my political rants, giving me a hard time so I laugh when perhaps I am taking things a little too seriously, and the list goes on.

So, on this Fathers’ Day, I say thank you to my dad Dave and all of the dads who chose their daughters and sons. Your positive impact in our lives cannot be measured.

This Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day

I am pretty accustomed to being single on Valentine’s Day. Most years I don’t really think much about being single. And then during other Valentine’s Days past I had:

A few years when I was casually seeing someone, found myself to be “miraculously” on my own when Valentine’s Day rolled around, and then became a hot item again a few days later. Remember that book “He’s Just Not That Into You”? Yep. Here’s your sign.

A few bitter years.

A few lonely years.

A few years where I was the “coupled up” girl and received flowers from great guys.

Valentine’s Day 2019 comes after a personally brutal January 2019. It’s been tough to process, let alone put into words.

My brutal month involved removing a few toxic people from my life whom I still love but had to separate myself from for my own mental health and self respect.

Simply reaching these decisions was messy, as I had to come to these conclusions on my own. And I am the person who often has to push the envelope one more time, test my boundaries one more time, to get to that point of saying, “enough.” This naturally had a ripple effect on others outside of the situations.

Thankfully my friends and family who know me best and love me unconditionally were able to give me enough rope, stand just within reach, and trust that I would find my internal strength to do what needed to be done. For that I am eternally grateful.

We often think of Valentine’s Day and love in romantic terms, but I challenge all of us to think of it a little differently. We should also see it in terms of all of those who mean the most to us and stand beside us during thick and thin.

My best friends are my valentines.

My mom and stepdad are my valentines.

My siblings are my valentines.

And my nephew and nieces are most certainly my valentines.

Today my dogs are also my valentines.

This Valentine’s Day, I raise a glass to everyone in love, recovering from heartbreak, navigating through some tough stuff, finding peace in solitude, or anything in between.

You are loved. Happy Valentine’s Day!