Brother Mitch is HOME!

Brother Mitch is HOME!

Unless you never read a thing that I post on Facebook and Twitter, by now you know that my brother Mitch is back in Iowa after being deployed with the U.S. Navy. I went ten months without seeing my baby brother. And I was not alone. His friends and our family, as well as his girlfriend, endured the same length of time without seeing Mitch in person.

baby4A lot can happen in ten months:

  1. My sister Sarah became pregnant with baby number four.
  2. Our dad retired from his sales and marketing job of 19 years.
  3. I crossed off a bucket list item when I appeared on the Today Show on Caucus Day.
  4. Nephew Gabriel and Niece Lucy completed another year of school.
  5. Gabriel, Lucy, and and Niece Amelia all grew a ton. I feel like they grow too much when I haven’t seen them in a couple of weeks. I can’t imagine how different they are after ten months!
  6. Numerous terror attacks took place across the globe.
  7. Iranians fired missiles at my brother’s carrier.
  8. My brother’s carrier was featured on CNN for setting a record number of bombs launched against ISIS.
  9. Mitch’s deployment was extended by one month.
  10. As if I wasn’t emotional enough in my normal state, I now get teary eyed around anything patriotic, having to do with the armed forces, etc.

Mitch Navy ProfileMitch shared some amazing photos and videos with us during this past week. The views were breath taking, and the sleeping quarters were insanely small. They provided a unique glimpse into my brother’s new life as a sailor.

Hannah MitchWe only have a few more days with brother Mitch before he goes back to base. This time he is taking a piece of home with him though – girlfriend Hannah. So, while this big sister is fighting back tears, I will be so excited for the new adventure ahead for the two of them together.

troopsThank you SO MUCH to everyone who has offered words of encouragement, given hugs, and simply let me babble (happy babble, interchanged with the-world-is-going-to-end babble) on and on and on and on. We know there will be another deployment, and I will always need my tribe to talk me off the ledge and then hand me a glass of wine.

Mel, G and L: Overfed Ducks and Missing Diapers

On the final Thursday of September 2013 – September 26th, to be exact – I watched G and L for the full day, as my mom “Nana” was on a mini-vacation with my stepdad. I was so excited to have a full day with my favorite little people!
I met brother-in-law Jeremiah at his school to pick up the kids. Jeremiah informed me the kiddos were way excited to spend the day with me and even had a brief meltdown when they did not go straight to my place and had to make another stop on their way to Davenport that morning. I do not want to wish toddler and four-year-old meltdowns on anyone, and yet that makes me smile. 🙂
We traded cars to prevent the agonizing feat of installing two car seats into my Smurfette, so I had fun driving Mary Todd, the Lincoln Zephyr, for the day.
Upon walking up to my apartment entrance, I realized we were missing something: the diaper bag. We went back to the car and looked inside. No diaper bag. As a prepared aunt, I have a lot of child necessities at the ready. The only thing I did not have was diapers for Lucy. (And of course she became potty trained only a month or so after this!) So this aunt had to corale the kids back into the car to make a quick trip to Walgreens. Play-doh had to wait another 20 minutes. I resisted multiple pleas to buy random junk at Walgreens, and we left with one pack of diapers. As we left Walgreens, I realized this was my first ever time having to purchase diapers for either one of them. Crazy!
At last we made it back to my apartment, and the real fun began: Play-doh, window markers, Sophia movie, princess tent, lots of artwork.

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G and L with their Target One Spot water bottles 🙂
Then it was time for lunch. The hot dog stand guy was out that day. Yea!

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We took a walk down to the river to feed the ducks. Of course G and L had to check out the fountain on the way.

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As we approached the river, I noticed all of the ducks were swimming. And two people – both adults – were feeding them oodles of bread and other stuff. Grrrr. I had even remembered the bread for once! I used the situation as an opportunity to teach G and L not to over feed animals. Of course they did not really care about that and still wanted to feed the ducks. Alas the ducks were full and were not interested in us.
So, we found some other ways to have fun. I attempted to get a cute photo of G and L with Centennial Bridge in the background.

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Then we walked down to the Freight House playground.

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After that, we trekked back to my place for puzzle time.

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Of course we had to swing through the Starbucks drive thru on our way back to Bennett for late nap time. G and L received kid drinks while I ordered a venti caramel latte. I needed more energy after all of this! L delighted me by saying “frappucino” for the very first time. The force is strong with Miss Lucy, my friends.

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Once we reached our destination, I carried L to her bed and G to the couch (because he likes to half wake up and wants to watch TV). As I kicked back and savored my latte, I realized I had never checked Mary Todd’s (the Lincoln Zephyr’s) trunk for the diaper bag. Ugh. I refused to ruin my sense of accomplishment with that discovery just yet. So when sister Sarah arrived home, I had her check the trunk. Sure enough, there was the diaper bag, with diapers. Nothing like a self created crisis to keep an aunt humble. 😉

Mel, G and L: Happy Birthdays

G and L officially have the birthday thing figured out. First was my stepdad’s birthday on February 21st, then mine on February 27th, and my brother Mitch’s on March 12th.

When we celebrated Papa’s birthday on February 24th, G and L gave their best birthday singing performance to date:

During my birthday celebration on March 3rd, it was all about “cake time!” and dancing to Aerosmith, of course.

And poor Mitch didn’t get enough recognition during his “happy birthday party” on March 17th. G decided it was Toby the Tank’s birthday instead.

Now G and L are looking forward to their birthdays. L is first up on April 26th, with G next on June 18th. G has already told me numerous times about everything he wants for his “happy birthday.” Yes, he adds the “happy” in front of “birthday” every time. I suppose it makes sense since birthdays should be happy, right?

Mel, G and L: Slumber Party

I love babysitting G and L. When my sister asked me to watch them on Saturday, March 9, I was disappointed that I had already scheduled myself to close at Target Optical that night. The earliest I would be able to arrive at Bennett would be 6:30 p.m., and that was IF everything went perfectly with getting out of work for the night. (Ha ha.) Alas, Uncle Mitch came to the rescue and kicked off the evening for me so my sister and her hubby could get to their evening plans on time.
Every once in a while I allow myself to go into the children’s areas at Target and shop for G and L. That week I spotted cute pajamas for each of them, and when I later decided I would be staying overnight in Bennett so I could attend mass with them the next morning, I realized that the pajamas were the perfect addition to our slumber party. I also brought along sugar-filled snacks for them and wine for me.
I really didn’t expect G and L to go crazy over their pajamas, but they insisted on putting them on right away and had to act their parts of “Princess” and “Bat Guy”.

We had a fabulous evening. After we all played for a while and watched the Smurfs movie, I rocked and read books with Lucy (we managed to only read three without too much protesting) and asleep she went.
G was a different story. That boy is a night owl and a serious negotiator. I wanted to watch a non-animated movie and tried to deter him from the Scooby-Doo movie by explaining the monsters would give him nightmares. G was ready. He said the monsters are not real, and I could put my head under the blanket if I was scared. OK, G. You win.
I also tried to tell G that I would get in trouble if I let him stay up too late. His reply, “No, it’s OK Mel.” G – 2, Aunt Mel – 0.
And G was watching me as closely as I was watching him. On a couple of occasions my eyes became droopy. That is, until G would exclaim, “Wake up, Aunt Mel!”
So, G and I were still watching his movie when his parents arrived home.
The next morning we all went to mass together, me following behind their car in Smurfette. And might I add, you have not experienced mass until you have attended alongside the extended Costello clan at St. Ann’s in rural Long Grove, Iowa. 🙂

Top 12 of 2012

12.  Bestie Jen’s pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding festivities

This is first listed because it consumed most of my year – so fun!

Dress shopping, Creston bridal shower, Kansas City bridal shower, Chicago bachelorette weekend, the main event in Loose Park in Kansas City, reception and dance at Boulevard Brewery.  Of course we jammed out at the dance.  😉

11.  Bestie Lexi’s first baby – Charlotte (Charley)

Another bestie moment.  I love my friends like family – just ask the Andersons back in the Burg.  🙂  I only wish we all would see each other more often.

10.  G and L

I continue to spend as much time as possible with my favorite little people, my nephew Gabriel and niece Lucy.  I like to brag about them here in my G and L series.

9.  Social Media

My love affair with social media continues.  Where else can you have Ivanka Trump, John Rich, Kate Snow, and NBC’s Rock Center retweet and/or reply to you?  Twitter is my favorite!

8.  M-A-D-O-N-N-A!

Jen and I made it onto the big screen in the Sprint Center when were were dancing it up during the opening show (of course).  Madonna had the #1 best selling tour in 2012.  I know why – simply amazing.

7.  Denver with cousins

Lots of good eats and drinks, along with cousin bonding time.  And I didn’t go to bed that much earlier than my 20-something cousins each morning.  😉

6.  Career moves

When I left Target Optical at the end of 2011, my regional manager told me I’d be back.  I laughed then, but he is laughing now.  While I enjoyed my time as a Business Development Associate for Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning in Davenport, the bullseye pulled me back.  I became Optical Team Leader of the Davenport store in August.

5.  Jagger Q

Jag the cat turned 10 years old in August.

4.  Political nerd forever

Still actively involved in political stuff and enjoyed five minutes of fame when Romney came to town in June.  A few people told me I need to smile when on national TV.  Noted.  (In my defense, I was trying not to make a funny face and it was HOT that day.)

3.  iLove

Best book I read last year was Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  And I finally bought an iPad.  Best investment since my iPhone and Dyson purchases during previous years.

2.  Melify

My sister coined this term, and I embrace it.  I am always keeping busy with one project or another, whether it’s with SendOutCards or organizing random stuff.

1.  Holiday spirit

After a long day of work and post-work shopping on December 19th, I returned to Smurfette to find a card on her window.

Fridays with G and L: The Chapter Ends

I felt like a bad aunt.  I had talked to G and L about the possibility of a new job since November.  And my gut told me after the first interview that I had a very good chance of landing this new job.  It was a great opportunity for me.  However, it would mean no more Fridays with G and L.  I’d just have to make a little more effort to carve out time for G and L after the first of the year.

It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about MY day with G, and then both G and L, over the course of the year and couple of months between October 2010 and December 2011.  When each of those kiddos was born, I vowed to be an aunt whom they would know well and be able to come to for anything.  I am very fortunate to live only 30 miles away from them, so it’s not like I was never going to see them again.  But yet it would be different.

Then I thought of all of the milestones yet to come, and how I needed to brace myself for those.  I could continue be a strong presence in their lives without my own day.  While I felt selfish at the moment, the tables will turn soon enough when they are older and making decisions in their own lives.

I thought about all of the families who are living hundreds or thousands miles apart.  And I thought about those who I am close to whom I don’t see all of the time.  It’s about the effort and quality time.

And it was time to start a new chapter, as painful as it might be.  I needed to find my career path again, as I felt I had been floating around since I left Victory Enterprises in early 2010.

My sister and brother-in-law have endlessly thanked me for babysitting their kids.  I always tell them I enjoy it, and even that is an understatement.  I learned so much from my Fridays with G and L.  They inspired me to start blogging about them.  They reminded me how trivial my problems were when I saw their faces light up.  While I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would when I drove home that night, I dreaded bringing this chapter of my blog to a close.  So I procrastinated with these final posts.  I didn’t want to type and cry at the same time.

Then I realized I had all of this new material for a new chapter: “Mel, G, and L”.  A NEW CHAPTER.  When one door closes, another opens.

Fridays with G and L: Final Friday

December 30, 2011

My final Friday with G and L; also the final Friday of 2011.

It was a bittersweet day, but of course G and L kept my mind off the finality of everything.

We started the day by creating blanket tents.  G and L’s dad hung out with us for a little bit before he went off to work.

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Kentucky Fried Chicken was our Final Friday lunch spot.  Lucy loved it, but G was being a little crabby.

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G’s mood improved when we went to get a cupcake.

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Then we had to jump on the bed.

And we needed to add an ornament to the tree.

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One must not forget that ribbon is an awesome toy.

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Once back in Bennett, G and L showed me how to properly play with their race track.

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And that’s a wrap!  What a fabulous year and two months spending nearly every Friday with G and then with L also after her arrival!  This series all began with my first “G” post on 10-10-10.  Time flies with my nephew and niece.  Love them to pieces.