Seester Sunday Returns

Welcome back to Seester Sunday! These are our recaps from Sunday, October 25, 2020.

Mel:

This morning began with prying myself out of my warm bed with my two personal space heaters:

I attended 10:30 a.m. mass at the Basilica of St. John and the monthly parish council meeting afterward. This was a bittersweet Sunday as I took in all of my surroundings, because it was my last Sunday as a parishioner there before I move to Davenport next week. I will deeply miss the basilica parish family.

After mass, I made my weekly grocery run. Trader Joe’s is my favorite grocery store, but I did not feel like driving out to West Des Moines, so I went to Hy-Vee on Fleur Drive instead. It was busier than a usual Sunday, and I realized while overhearing conversations at the check out that several people were stocking up for the pending snow storm. However, according to the forecast I saw, we are predicted to get only two inches of snow. Better safe than sorry, I guess!

Since I will be moving in ten days, I have lots of random stuff to do. Today I painted two pieces of office furniture – something I have been putting off for nearly a year! I guess it takes a move to get random things done. 🤷‍♀️

Aside from all of that, I spent a good chunk of time on my couch, snuggling with the pups. We are trying to soak in the final few days in our apartment before moving day, as we will be in Eastern Iowa for a few days later this week and early next week.

Chilly days equal snuggly pups.

Hope you all have a wonderful week! 

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Sarah:

My Sunday was similar to Mel’s, but add in getting puked on by the baby and forgetting to take any pictures!

We got up and were out the door, driving by 8:05am with extreme difficulty, mind you, and with 7 kids. I stayed up way too late the night before and Mary was up at 6…so I was tired to say the least. We attended Mass and Kateri threw a huge fit when we were in the front of the Communion line, so that was fun and I got to take her out of church after that. After Mass we ordered and picked up a breakfast pizza and went home to eat it, which didn’t take long with 6 kids eating!

I did some house chores and the kids were all just so crazy. What is it lately?! Is it just me?! I don’t know but my kids have been nuts. SO, we decided to mandate a 1 hour quiet time for everyone, not just the nappers. And can I say…..It. Was. Glorious. I read out of 2 separate books and cuddled Mary for a solid 1.5 hours. After that it was time to make dinner and do that whole routine. We ended the evening with watching part of a Lego documentary on Prime that was really good! Lego has an awesome story!!!! Now I’m about comatose and thinking about ice cream….we shall see. 

Have a great week!

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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!

Church Lady Reflections

Thursday was my final day as secretary at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Durant.  While I enjoyed calling myself the Church Lady, it was time to pass the torch to other able people.

Our council president asked me to write a reflections piece for the council to review at their next meeting.  He told me I have a unique insight into the congregation and where it is going.  Werner has no idea I have a blog, so it seemed a very out of the blue request.

I did not turn in a formal piece of paper with my reflections, because by the time they met on Thursday evening, it all seemed to be one big moot point.  I had offered my insight on various occasions, as I am a vocal – yet tactful and respectful – person.

I took on the church lady position in October 2010.  Controversy swirled from the moment I started, as I beat out the church organist for the job.  And we also had major communication issues.  Council members would ask me to relay information from one of them to another instead of contacting one another directly.  I took a deep breath and dug in.

Since I have worked in HR and politics, I was up for the church battles.  But I soon found one key difference that made the church job more difficult: I was a part time employee with no authority.  And the council wanted to treat me as a full time employee who was in charge when convenient.  Yes, I had my work cut out for me.

I have become better at saying no and setting boundaries during recent years.  So I said no when no needed to be said.  And I organized the office from top to bottom, both physically and procedurally.  The best organizations empower their individual members.  We had a top heavy system in place, which could not continue.  Our pastor was stretched thin, and with new medical issues, would be stretched even more during my time there.  And I was only a 20-hour-per-week employee.  Other people needed to take ownership.

And, the hugest factor: giving was and is declining, and the operating budget was nearly as slim as it could go.  It was time to propose a more significant cost savings.  I told the council we needed to transition into a volunteer team of secretaries.

I did all I could to make the transition smooth.  I helped to recruit three out of the five volunteers needed.  I wrote a manual.  I continued to streamline processes.  I looped the pastor and council in on the entire thing and asked for their help.  However, I couldn’t do it all on my own, and while pastor and I worked together on the recruiting front, the council did not.

The council is made up of volunteers also.  And you know the saying, you can’t fire volunteers.  But it’s disappointing when the leading volunteers do not take ownership and help to steer the ship in the right direction.

Instead of taking the five weeks to recruit and look at big picture items, some individual council members were more worried about who would print off their reports for the council meetings, and nonsense like that.  I offered that each member could print off their own items for meetings, either from home or the church office.  After all, the pastor did it.  And I received a dazed and confused response.

So I plugged along during those five weeks, praying the bigger picture would come to light for people in the congregation.  The office secretary job is not rocket science.  It only requires a few committed people to take ownership for a few hours a week.  Apparently that is a tough thing for others to accept.

I also grew annoyed with the little things during the final weeks.  People worrying about a specific bullet point on a home visitors guide, as opposed to realizing we have been visiting more people in the past month than we have in the past several months.  People concerned with a minor three line change to the bulletin, as opposed to inviting their friends and family to church on Sunday mornings.

My main take away from the church lady job is disappointment.  I know many good people go to Gloria Dei and volunteer there.  And I know most people have good intentions that get lost in the static.  But the overall culture of refusing to see the forest through the trees was suffocating at times.  Maybe that’s partly because I was a cog in the wheel rather than the driver of the vehicle for once.  Then again, if I as a cog could see it and care enough to attempt change, why couldn’t others?

This is what some people would call an “AFGO” (another ____ growth opportunity).  In some ways this job allowed me to be an outsider looking in on an organization facing tough choices.  Yes, I was in the middle of it, but I was relatively new to the congregation and did not have an emotional stake in the church.

The job wasn’t all negative.  I truly enjoyed the lasting friendship formed with my pastor.  I met some neat members who bring so many talents to the congregation.  And I learned that one person can only do so much – propose ideas, hold hands, provide a path – but it’s ultimately up to others whether they carry that forward after she has departed.

Back to the Daily Grind? Maybe not.

After three days off from everything – church lady, optical, my own business, and babysitting G – it was tough to get going this morning.  Back to the grind, I thought.

But maybe not.  Signs often become apparent after the fact. 

The first random anti-grind thing was a Facebook message with a request to ask me a personal question off the record – from an old surface acquaintance.  Since I like to push boundaries every now and then, I said “sure”.  Famous last words.

Halfway through brushing my teeth I noticed an emerald stud earring in the drain.  I rarely leave earrings within reach of my cat Jag, and now I know why.  The first earring was long gone, so I threw the other one in the trash.  They were a gift from an ex over 11 years ago.  He’s married and has a kiddo, so I have no reason to worry about the loss.  Except I liked the earrings! 

On my way through the apartment lobby, I spotted a cute blonde boy, likely in his mid-20s.  I smiled, and he gave me a nervous smirk.  Then he exited the first set of doors and let them slam in my face.  Hmmm.  As I followed him down the hallway, I noticed he was carrying a plastic bag and seemed a bit out of his element.  Walk of shame, perhaps?  Ahh, I understood then.  He also held the next door open for me, so he redeemed himself.  And even if he hadn’t, I would understand.  He probably had other things running through his head at the moment.

When I pulled up to the window at the Starbucks drive thru, the partner with my latte said the lady ahead of me got my drink.  I thought she meant that either the lady in front of me mistakenly received my order, so I would need to wait a minute while they made another; or the lady in front of me ordered the same thing.  When I handed her my card to pay, she explained further that the lady paid for my drink.  She said that happens every now and then – random acts of kindness from strangers.  How cool!

While I have the church lady and optical busy work to do today, I really can’t complain about the daily grind.  Each day is very unique.  We just have to take a minute and appreciate the special, seemingly little things that happen.

Yesterday’s Roller Coaster

Yesterday was a gloomy day when I woke up and looked out the window at the gray sky.  But then Jag licked my face and trotted out of bed ahead of me, and I smiled.

I was super tired from staying late at optical for inventory prep the night before.  But then I had a 24 oz. honey vanilla latte from Coffee Hound.  All was in equilibrium again.

As I drove to my church lady job, I thought about the funeral to be held at the church at Noon.  But then my best friend Jen called and we talked about happy things, like her new career move and our adventures in Miami and Chicago.

I began proofreading the funeral bulletin before printing it.  But then I found out Donald Trump (on my short list of people to meet someday) is coming to Iowa in June.

I went back to finalizing the funeral bulletin and began printing it, pondering the images of sad families whose funerals I have witnessed before today.  But then I exchanged emails with my sister, discussing my nephew and the arrival of the new baby in May.

The family walked in.  I felt the hurt in their hearts and my eyes began to water.  But then the funeral and burial were over, and the family shared happy memories over lunch in the church fellowship hall.

I was once again tired at 2:00 p.m. when I left the church for the day, and I wanted to take a nap.  But then I arrived at optical and the time flew by.

I was missing my friend Jen.  But then when I looked at my schedule for the upcoming weekend, I found I have time to make a trip to Kansas City to see her and catch up in person.

The wind was cold on the way home.  But then I cooked some spaghetti and opened a bottle of wine.

I knew I had to go through the monotony of working for the man again today.  But then I was back where I started the day, in my bed with Jag curled up by my side.  And I looked out at the pretty city lights.  Ending the day at the top is always a good thing.

Have a Little Faith

Yesterday seemed to be one of those days when all of my plans were flushed down the toilet.  

My church lady duties were all mangled up for the week.  Yet another funeral to complete bulletins for the day prior, random unexpected requests, you name it.  All in the day of a secretary, I suppose.  But with the annual meeting tasks piling up and the deadline quickly approaching, these hiccups were extra frustrating this week.

I am a woman of action, a woman of lists and getting things done.  I can be busier that a bee and will remain happy until I reach the point when things don’t get checked off my list.  Then watch out.

I was planning to go to a game night at friend Lexi’s house last night and had my Yellow Tail Shiraz and Scattergories all ready to go.  After receiving a call from a sick co-worker at Optical, I cancelled on game night and put on my red and khaki when the church lady duties were done (or done enough) for the day.

My two hours of down time in which I was going to cram in some Mel’s Cards, Red Goose Solutions, and Scott County Republican Women duties had vanished.  Sure, I still had Friday, but that’s my Gabriel day.  And I wouldn’t give that up for anything.  I often have an hour or so of nap time to do things, but by that point I want to nap too.

Then, as often happens, a phone conversation with my sister made me realize what was really happening.  I’m pretty sure she has no idea that our conversation helped me reach an inner peace – until she reads this.

I was calling to touch base about my babysitting start time while driving home from Optical last night.  When I asked her what time to be at her house, she paused, and then said, “Didn’t Jeremiah call you?”  Uh oh.  I got my brother in law in trouble.  I tried to cover it up with a “he-and-I-are-night-owls-and-the-night-is-young-enough-to-still-get-things-done” excuse, but she was still irritated.  He found out he had Friday off, so I didn’t need to babysit.

I was sad at first, but then I realized this would be the perfect opportunity to get all of my tasks completed by the end of this week.  And then I thought about all of the curves in the road earlier in the week.  They all worked out for the best too.

I was really looking forward to working at Target Optical on Monday night, but the weather interfered with my plans, as the doctor decided to stay home.  I was bummed because I had been off for over a week, with going to visit my grandma in the hospital and having taken off for an IFRW state meeting that never happened.  But then, even though it was a last minute addition, I had the opportunity to pick up extra hours last night.  And being a chance to help out a co-worker, it made sense to work.

My church tasks didn’t all get done, but changes arose in a couple of items that would have been even more frustrating had I already done all of the work.

Some church lady unwinding remedies:

My businesses were constantly placed on the back burner during everything else, but now I had a full day to focus on them.

I am a fairly religious person, but I don’t wear it on my sleeve.  I sometimes say a few silent prayers throughout the day to ask God to keep me grounded and give me perspective.  I also ask him for lots of things – and try to thank him for what I am blessed with.

Faith is a great thing.  Have a little bit of it, keep an open mind, and you’ll be surprised what happens.  Answers often do not come in the packages we expect, so we have to watch for them carefully.

Whatever your faith is in, hang onto it and be optimistic.  It usually works out, provided you take the steps necessary to accommodate change.

While this inner peace was all fine and dandy, I still wanted to see my nephew Gabriel on Friday.  When I hung up the phone at the end of my sister’s call, I had a text message from my brother in law.  Could I watch Gabriel from 3:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Friday?  Yes, I will!

Time to crack open the Yellow Tail Shiraz and watch some 30 Rock.