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: 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!

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. 🙂

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.