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.

No TV Day 12

I have made it over one third of the way through this no TV month! Some days are still easier than others. And I am totally planning to binge on Netflix after this is all over.

A few more awesome things that have come about since I last posted:

Balcony Bliss
I am loving the warmer weather and spent most of last Wednesday out on my balcony. Since I cannot make up my mind about which patio furniture to purchase, I just hauled my living room chair out onto my balcony. This is the first time I have had a balcony in several years! Thus, the multiple mundane balcony photos.

Jag was so excited to be outdoors too. He prefers to show his excitement through lounging and napping. He loved the spot right under the makeshift patio chair.

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Reading Like Crazy
I have been reading The Wall Street Journal, Time, Vogue, and my book of the month nearly every single day – all of them! No distractions, except for…

Free Fall
This Frozen Free Fall game is addictive. My goodness. The saving grace is with the limit of lives during a given time span. Of course one can purchase more lives, but I am not that hooked. Whew!

Quiet Time
Instead of waking up to the Today Show, I am waking up to the sunlight and letting my mind wind up for the day that way. Of course, I have my limits and eventually brew a pot of coffee to really start my day. Mornings can be so peaceful though!

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Only 19 more days to go!

Where Am I?

Registering Smurfette, my 2004 blue Cavalier, to drive in Polk County was one of the few remaining moving items I was continually putting off until the next day. I just needed the renewal tags, so I technically could have gone through Scott County online, but I want everything to be up to date and moving headaches over.

And I waited until the last possible moment, as my renewal enforcement deadline is April 1st. My initial plan was to do it this morning bright and early. Yeah, that turned into arriving at the Polk County admin building at around 1:00 p.m. However, I was double ready, as I had my screwdriver ready to put on new license plates. Time to shed the Cedar County plates of old.

My number was called within 10 minutes! Amazing! The lady whose name I did not catch then had trouble finding my new address. “I am east of I-35,” I thought, “so this should not be difficult.” (Note to those not familiar with Des Moines area geography: West of I-35 is the more newly developed part of Polk County, and Polk County quickly runs into Dallas County on the west end.)

The Polk County treasurer’s office lady then told me that I actually live in Dallas County. “Are you sure?” I very politely asked. “Yes, you need to go to Adel to get your car registered in Dallas County,” she said. To her credit, she was nice about it and told me it does get confusing to determine which county one is in when residing in certain areas of West Des Moines.

So I trekked westward 30 minutes to Adel, Iowa. This is pronounced ay-DELL. Siri preferred to pronounce it ADD-uhl. At least I found a little humor in that. I sure felt silly, not even knowing my own county of residence. Good thing this happened before Election Day, so I would not be confused my my ballot. And speaking of politics, this would be a useful county to be in because we are trying to get a Dallas County Republican Women group going. If I lived in Dallas County, I could be a charter member! Also, I liked the thought of having license plates that said “Dallas,” one of my favorite television shows growing up.

I felt a bit deflated after checking online for the address (no easy feat to begin with), finding the address to be the court house, and then having to go across the street to the new location of the Dallas County treasurer’s office. (Update your websites people!) On the up side, I met a friendly person while walking down the street and told her my amusing story. My sister was the only other person who knew of my Polk County error at this point, and she swiftly pointed out to me that the ordeal would make for a great blog post. Little did she know……

I gave my information to a friendly face in the Dallas County treasurer’s office, and she laughed a bit. Well, that was not a very good sign. She told me I did live in Polk County, had me verify my location of residence in a map, and then sweetly explained that she would be happy to renew my registration then and there and just switch it over to Polk County after I paid. Now I really wished I lived in Dallas County. Polk County government workers can’t even figure out who lives in Polk County! I wanted this lady to be my person forever. She was awesome. Maybe I should recruit her to come work at optical.

So, I did not get my new license plates. And now I do not want license plates that say “Polk” on them. I think I will order some signature Simpson College license plates instead. I was also contemplating updating my drivers’ license before it is due, just to get the address and everything updated. I doubt if the photo can get any worse, but you never know. After all of the vehicle registration drama, I was over it though. That will have to wait for another day.

So I called my sister again, as she refers to ever-so-nicely in her own blog post. Good thing this was her day at home with the kiddos so I had someone to give an instant play-by-play to. 😉 And Sarah is a great listener and cheerleader for me. I think she may have even been more annoyed by the situation than I was. Haha.

At the end of the day, I learned you really have to prepare yourself for anything at any time. You just never know when you will be sent on a mini road trip to discover where you live.

Moving to the 50266

I survived yet another move!

The process of moving can be quite deceptive with moments of “this is going to be easy,” to “oh my God, what am I doing,” to “no looking back now!” I can honestly say I made the right decision with moving to West Des Moines. And I can honestly say I went through all of these moments repeatedly.

When I decided to transfer from the Davenport Target Optical store to the Urbandale and Des Moines area Target Optical stores, my new boss and old boss (the stores are in different regions, of course!) made our initial conversations very painless. “this is going to be easy”

Then, while I had my store staffed and my replacement identified and recommended, the process seemed to take forever to finalize. “no looking back now!”

Upon departing Urbandale after my day of apartment shopping with my mom, I encountered the worst driving conditions of the season and was shocked to hear AM radio declare that an ex boyfriend decided to run for Congress in the area I was planning to move to. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Side Note: No ex drama, wish him the best. These things just make one pause and look upward to the skies and say, “What are you trying to tell me?” Same with the blizzard. Why during that day at that time? Lord only knows.

My family jumped on board immediately to offer help with packing, loading, unloading, etc. “this is going to be easy”

Multiple Quad Citians showed their love toward me. They say everyone loves you when you are leaving. 😉 Seriously, I do appreciate their sincerity. “no looking back now!”

The money crunch of moving always stresses one out. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Navigated the roads of Polk County like a pro (and west of I-35 like a semi-pro). “this is going to be easy”

Felt like a complete newbie as I adapted to various stores’ unique processes. “too late to look back now!”

Upon a return trip to my parents’ place in Durant, unsuccessfully attempted to bring back four of my five plants. I guess that two hour stop and leaving them to freeze in my car in sub zero temps did it. “oh my God, what am I doing?!”

Transferred my Junior League membership to Des Moines. Feeling like a nerdy junior high girl as I prepare to attend my first event here. “no looking back now!”

Felt at home in my new place as soon as I moved in. “this is going to be easy”

If you want to test your will, patience, and self confidence, I suggest picking up and moving to a new area. Nothing builds character like a good move.

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. 😉

Downtown Davenport Adventures: People – City’s Nature

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During my two years and almost six months of living in Downtown Davenport, I have witnessed a lot of change in this small city. Most recently, this change has involved looking out my windows at night and seeing – gasp! – neighbors right at my sixth floor level across the street in nearly every direction.

Two sets of neighbors have rooftop patios, which I really want. They are small patios sans pools or gardens, as my dream patio would include. Yet they are still pretty cool. One even has tiki torches. And then at night time, I realize all of the downtown construction has yielded people in higher level lofts whose televisions I can see. Hmmm….if I can see them, they can see me. I am not a super risqué gal, and yet I should probably close the blinds during certain points of the evening and early morning.

Today I was reading the May issue of Vogue – love the magazine yet am perpetually two months behind with reading it – and one of the columnists stated that people are city’s nature. So true!

When I first moved to the downtown of “my small city,” as I like to call it, I was refreshed by a few weirdos here and there. I love walking around during the day time and especially on Saturdays. However, during weekday evenings and on Sundays, my small city can sometimes feel a bit deserted. So I welcome the new apartments and businesses with open arms. I need more action and somewhat crazy people, even if it does mean feeling obligated to close my blinds once in a while.

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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. 🙂