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.

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Fridays with G and L: Snow, Spot, and Smiles

December 2, 2011

G, L, and I decided to spend most of our day in Davenport.  Immediately upon stepping outside, G noticed a patch of snow in the grass.  He was almost as excited about his second season of snow as he was with his first:

How fast that year came around again!

And G one year later – in 2011.

However, G wasn’t nearly as excited about his first trip to Antonella’s.

G decided to hide under a table, but Aunt Mel was there to catch him on camera when he finally re-emerged.

Our waitress was very nice and brought G some crayons, paper, and an Etch-A-Sketch.  Those things eventually lured him back to our table.

Lucy was super content in her carrier (obviously this was a few months ago before walking!):

Then we went to Aunt Mel’s place to play.

L loves Spot, the Target dog! Jag (the cat in the background) could really care less.
G calls the Target dogs “Mommy” and “Daddy” – of course.
G demanded I take a picture of this…..
…..and this.
The monkey jumping on my bed. (We have special rules at Aunt Mel’s place!)

What a fun day!  I think we all felt like L:

Downtown Davenport Adventures: Return of the Spiders

The spiders returned sometime back in March.  They are still friendly spiders strung across the outside of my high rise windows.  Fewer have shown up this time.  Whereas last year, two appeared in each window, this year each window so far only boasts one.  So, is this one George or Ethel, or neither?  I am in a naming conundrum.  Since I like to name things, I might as well just start over.  In my bedroom windows I have Thing One and Thing Two.  Kitchen: Barack in window one; Mitt in window two.  The living room’s two windows will be claimed by Lola and Ginger.

I mention the spiders to others and they get visibly creeped out.  However, I researched this spider phenomenon last year, and the spiders have remained outdoors.  Here’s to hoping we continue to co-exist peacefully!

March Recap

Since April is mostly gone, I suppose it would be past time to recap March.

1.  I joined BNI: power networking at its best.

2.  Enjoyed a First Friday at the Mississippi River Distilling Company in LeClaire. With the exception of real Kentucky bourbon at the NFRW convention a few months ago, their Cody Road is the smoothest ever.

3.  The Governor & Lieutenant Governor came to town.

4.  St. Patty’s Day in Downtown Davenport.  Stay tuned for the blog post.

5.  Return of spiders.  They are still friendly.  My only issue is deciding whether to rename them or not.  Are they the same ones as last year?  Can’t really tell.

6.  Met up with my red headed cousin Lena at my Grandpa Fosaaen’s old house in Ossian.

Cousin Lena is now my favorite. 🙂

7.  Began work on an office/bedroom in my Dad and stepmom’s farm house near Decorah.

8.  Weekly Mad Men viewings with Beth.  We watch on Mondays and with wine.  Simply fabulous.

9.  Final day of March was spent in my hometown of Fredericksburg.  Enjoyed a great SendOutCards training, as well as a stop at Englebrecht Family Winery.

Downtown Davenport Adventures: One Year

One year ago today, I moved into my apartment in Downtown Davenport.  The saying is very cliche but true: “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

While I have some Downtown Davenport Adventures yet to post from this past year (my blog has suffered as my life has become increasingly busier), I have quite a few posts that explore the range of experiences that come with living downtown in a small city.

I’ve endured an early morning fire alarm as well as a semi-disastrous impromptu walk along the river.  I’ve enjoyed River Roots Live and BixBrai 2011.  I’ve made comparisons between this home and my last home.

Aside from the collection of narratives, the thing that strikes me the most about living downtown is something that strikes me with all good changes I have made in my life thus far.  I feel as though I have been here for much longer than one year.  After the initial adrenaline rush, it feels comfortable.

I thrive on change, and every change is a little bit different, except for those really positive changes I make.  Moving to Downtown Davenport was one of those positive changes.  Others that rank right up there are choosing Simpson College, diving into my first paid political job, moving across the country and then back again, and giving a boy or two the boot when it was time to cut my losses.

Will I live in Downtown Davenport forever?  I am 90% sure I will not.  That’s the fun part of life: being open to change.  After all, change led me here.  I may be here another year or another ten years.  Regardless, I will have a lot more adventures to share.

September Recap

I had so much fun writing my August recap, so I thought I’d continue with September and make this a monthly post.  It’s also sure to help me with my Christmas letter content this year.

Mel’s Adventures in September:

1. Visited Backbone State Park for a Fosaaen family Labor Day picnic

2. Checked out the Beaux Arts Fair in Davenport

3. Rocked out to Michelle McCormick and Daphne Willis at the Redstone Room

4. First venture into yoga – Hot Yoga!

5. Watched my first roller derby in person. Go QC Rollers!

6. Toured the Haitian Art Exhibit at the Figge

7. Resumed monthly Red Cross Picnic on the River planning committee meetings

8. Attended my first NFRW Biennial Convention, this year in KC

9. Celebrated my blog’s 1 year birthday

10. Elected President of Scott County Republican Women for 2012 – 2013, will be sworn in December 12th

October is already shaping up to be an exciting month, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Fridays with G and L: The Town of Tipton

I am really missing G and L today, as I am in Kansas City for the National Federation of Republican Women Biennial Convention.

Last week we decided to head westward to the town of Tipton.

Buckling up in the back of Smurfette
Lucy loves going for a ride!

The plan was to go to the library and/or the park.  The on and off light rain kept us away from the park, but we had a lot of fun at the library.

After we had explored the library, we decided to go somewhere new for lunch.  So we checked out A Place To Land on Cedar Street.  A dragon greeted us at the door, and G promptly greeted him back with a “Raaaar!”

G found the dragon's tongue!

The owner was super nice, and the food was wonderful.  G had a grilled PB&J, carrots with ranch, and REAL lemonade.  He cleaned his plate completely!

And we had cake flavored gelato for dessert!

We will definitely be going back to A Place To Land.

I have to admit that I am a bit homesick for my niece and nephew right now.  I am constantly looking at the time and thinking of what we would be doing if I was in Bennett.  For today, Starbucks and the company of my Kansas City friends will have to suffice.

Downtown Davenport Adventures: BixBrai 2011

Very few things top living downtown during BixBrai 2011.  No traffic to fight.  Steady stream of people-watching entertainment.  A kybo 1/2 block from my apartment building entrance – just in case I can’t hold it until the 6th floor.

The kick-off to the festivities began that Friday evening with G at the Jr. Bix.  The jury is still out on whether he is permanently scarred from being crammed into a starting line with so many toddlers at one time.  G ran the very beginning and the very end, with daddy carrying him during most of the middle.  G loved the food and water at the end, and we all celebrated with some Happy Joe’s pizza afterward.

For the first time ever, my sister and I did the Bix together.  I slept in until 7:00 a.m. – very late considering the drive time I had to count in last year.  Somehow I still managed to not make time for a decent breakfast.  I downed a little bit of trail mix and water and thought I was good to go.  I know, why did I skip the coffee????  Insanity.

I appreciated Sarah starting way in the back with me, but I felt guilty for holding her back.  I ran most of the way up Brady Street hill.  This was tougher than Bix at 6!  Grrr.  No coffee in my system and it was morning.  Oh well.  I gave Sarah permission to leave me in the dust, so I would not allow myself to feel guilty.

But I couldn’t let myself down.  I needed an hour 20 or less.  And we were on pace to do that.  Until the 140 FOOT DOWNHILL SLIP N SLIDE!

Sarah and I looked at each other when we saw it at the turnaround, and detoured to the cement steps.  10 or 15 minutes later, we were drenched and cool.  I also had a nice smearing of straw all over me, as I managed to plow into the homemade buffer at the end of the slide.

Sarah became famous with her money shot on the Quad City Times website.

Perhaps the slip n slide relaxed me too much, perhaps the lack of coffee was screaming out inside of me, perhaps I was making excuses.  The second half of the race went a lot slower than the first half, and we crossed the line at about an hour 45.  The look of horror on Sarah’s face said it all.  That was SLOW.

But you know what?  It was the best Bix ever for both of us!  Quality sister time is priceless.

After sampling the vast array of snacks at the end of the race, we went to the mostly deserted farmers’ market.  Then Sarah and I parted ways.  I cleaned my apartment and attempted to nap.  Then I rallied to go out downtown that night.  Oh, Sunday was a tad bit painful.

I received one final Bix memory as I climbed into my car later Sunday morning.  The passenger door was ajar, and what little stuff I had in my center console was strewn about.  No important documents were stolen from my glove box, and I had left nothing of value in my seats or on the floor.  But the mischievous thief took two lighters – remnants of nights out back in the day when a friend or two would bring along smokey treats (the legal kind).  I’m hoping the thief found cigarettes to go with those lighters.

I pity the thief.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t have the awesome Bix experience I had.

Downtown Davenport Adventures: 5am Wake Up Call

It recently occurred to me to begin some downtown entries as a weekly part of my blog.

Even though Davenport is not a huge metropolis, I am always experiencing something new.  Case in point: crazy guy with fire sprinkler/alarm issues on Sunday, July 10, at 5:00 a.m.

I awoke to an intermittent buzzing sound, looked out my apartment peep hole, and discovered the fire alarm lights in the hallway were flashing.  I threw on some clothes and debated whether to drag out the carrier for Jag.  No, I’d have the firefighters rescue him if necessary.  I figured this was either a small contained fire or someone pulling a prank.

It took me a few minutes to find the staircase, since I always use the elevator.  Six flights down.

As I stood outside on the street, I was reminded of my days in the Kresge dorm at Simpson College.  We had a run of about six weeks when the fire alarm was a weekly part of our routine, thanks to drunk guys pulling alarms.  Funny how history seems to repeat itself.

But then as I saw fire truck number three pull up, I began to have doubts.  Maybe this was the real deal.  Then no one was running, and we weren’t herded to the opposite side of the street, so I knew it had to be under control.

The firefighters let us back in after about 20 minutes (who knows how long the alarm went off before I realized it and made my way out of the building), and while I was curious what happened, I didn’t stop to ask them.  Enough people were asking questions, and I overheard a sprinkler issue discussion.  Besides, I wanted to go back to bed and knew I’d hear all about it later. Climbed up six flights of stairs.  Tired.

A neighbor told me the entire story later that afternoon.  A crazy 40-something guy on the third floor thought the fire sprinklers in his room and alarms in the hallway were videotaping him, speaking to him, etc.  So, he decided to bust them up.  Nice.

All part of living downtown.

Weirdos Welcome

It never ceases to amaze me how much I keep changing.  Deep down, I’m the same old Mel in some ways.  But lots of things have been evolving over time, especially of late.  (See The (R)Evolution of Mel.)

Lately I get claustrophobic around things that seem too traditional, status quo, or perfect.  I have a growing distaste for prim and proper, cookie cutter areas.  While I still have OCD that creeps into my own personal space, I allow for more character in decor than I used to like.

So, what is my problem?  Maybe it’s the uniformity of some suburban houses and lawns, the keeping up with the Joneses attitude, sameness of dress, blandness of viewpoints, or simple lack of excitement found in normalcy.

I like seeing weirdos on the street, admiring some good graffiti, never knowing who will say hi to me, or discovering unchartered nooks and crannies.  I chuckle because when I saw American Beauty for the first time in 1999, I did not understand the guy video taping the plastic bag blowing in the wind.  And now I’m becoming the off kilter semi-artsy being who enjoys that stuff.

I find myself cringing at Northface jackets, a constant stream of suits and ties, fancy possessions.  While conforming may be necessary in some workplace settings and formal events, must we always chase after the same things?

I have nightmares about a 1984-ish world where we all wear the same black and gray uniform, day in and day out.  I want color and excitement!  I crave a smidgen of chaos to keep me on my toes.

In Jonathan Franzen’s most recent novel “Freedom”, I was drawn to the following exerpt:

Although he’d played in D.C. often enough over the years, its horizontality and vexing diagonal avenues never ceased to freak him out.  He felt like a rat in a governmental maze here.  For all he could tell from the back seat of his taxi, the driver was taking him not to Georgetown but to the Israeli embassy for enhanced interrogation.  The pedestrians in every neighborhood all seemed to have taken the same dowdiness pills.  As if individual style were a volatile substance that evaporated in the vacuity of D.C.’s imperative directed at Katz in his beat-up biker jacket.  Saying:  die.

Powerful stuff for me.  No doubt someone reading this is rolling his or her eyes, because unconventionalism itself has become a trend.  As with many cultural issues, Southpark hit the nail on the head with their episode about the goth kids who complained about conformists, yet were all conforming to a new normal for their group.  I’m not being different to be cool here.

Maybe uniqueness, dirtiness, and unpredictability comfort me because of their authenticity.  Nothing is covered up by a white picket fence.  It’s wide open for everyone to see.