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. 😉


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).


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!


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. 😉


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!



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!

Fridays with G and L: G’s Observations

G was eating breakfast on Friday and kept looking for “Ry-Ry” under the table.  G missed her, but Ryder was outside airing out from visiting a neighboring hog lot earlier that morning.

I decided to bring something from Aunt Mel’s this time.  I had G peak into my bag, where he found the Cars movie.  G pulled the DVD of my bag, gave a loud “vroom!”, and launched into his hop/skip toward the DVD player.

Since the beginning of my Bix training a couple months ago, G has made a habit of checking on my owies on the back of my feet.  They are getting smaller, to G’s delight.

I was updating the Scott County Republicans’ Facebook and Twitter sites while we were watching Cars (L, still sleeping), and G likes to peak over at my netbook.  He pointed to the Google Chrome icon: “ball!”  I guess it does look like a ball.

G has found 101 ways to be entertained with vacuum cleaner attachments.  Did you know they can be used as a microphone, pounding tool, floor scrubber, building toy, and so much more?

Then G wanted to say hi to Talking Tom on my iPhone.  Once they chatted for a while, G put Tom in the back of his toy 4×4 truck and drove him around the house.

G assisted with L’s feeding and burping.  He even fetched a bottle when hers was getting low.

Outside, G turns his head toward the highway with every loud truck noise, waits for it to be in sight, and then waves and yells hi.

G noticed the plants and flowers outside were dry.  So we watered them.  And we filled up a spray bottle and washed Aunt Mel’s car, amongst spraying other things.

G gave a kiss to Lucy, and then also kissed his semi (cab AND trailer) before nap time.

Aunt Mel observed L in her big girl baby bed and realized she is growing like a weed.

Aunt Mel also got L to laugh!

L watching G closely while he takes her picture

L continues to watch her brother closely.  Oh, the things he is teaching her!

Fridays with G: Fun at VanderVeer Park

G and I had a short and shared time together last Friday.  We met at VanderVeer Park in Davenport, along with Sarah and Lucy.  The last time I remember walking around VanderVeer was during a family photo shoot back in September 2006.  And the time before that was for Sarah and Jeremiah’s wedding pictures in July 2006.  I drive past the park all of the time.

Like it is with many things, I continued to tell myself, “Tomorrow I will stop and check it out.”  And before you know it, several hundred tomorrows have passed.  Last Friday was that “tomorrow”.  Maybe I was meant to put this off until I had a niece and nephew, along with my sister, to share it with.

I beat the trio to the park so sat and read my two-month-old Time magazine for a few minutes.  (Reading old magazines cover to cover will be addressed in a separate post.)  As I walked up to the car, G was hiding his eyes behind his hands.  Must be a new game.  I helped him out of his car seat.  I keep wondering when he’s going to just bust out of that thing himself.  Probably on a day when I am watching him.

G immediately went to check out the pond.  Then he reached for the Wheat Thins his mom had packed.  G might like Wheat Things even more than I do.  It’s a toss up.  We sat down to eat a picnic lunch, and G was entertained by the super tame squirrel who refused bread but loved Wheat Thins.

Then it was off to the playground, where G semi-successfully flirted with a couple of girls.  They were both at least a year older than him.  G was super smooth, opting to go on the double side-by-side slides where he could chat with them more.

G seemed to enjoy the large fountain the most.

G at VanderVeer Park

During the loop back to the car, G walked very quietly toward the ducks chilling in the shade.  He pointed and giggled.  I smiled.  This was a great tomorrow.

Fridays with G: Wednesday Improv

33 days since my last post about G and our play date in the park.

40 days since my last full day with just G and me in Davenport.

We were long overdue when I met G, his mom, and his now one-month-old sister Lucy at Babies R Us last Wednesday.  I missed the little guy.  Sure, I’ve seen him here and there: at his house, at his grandparents’ house, out running errands.  But that’s not the same as spending one on one time together.

I had not been into the Babies R Us in quite some time, so all four of us shopped a bit before G and I departed in Smurfette.  G melted my heart with his Camaro enthusiasm:

G driving the Camaro

After exploring nearly every toy in the store, we said goodbye to Lucy and Mommy, and went on our way.

Lucy at Babies R Us

We swung by McManus (Rocket) Park in Bettendorf on the way to my place.  I was sure G would be climbing on everything.  However – partly due to the newness of it, and maybe partly due to the plethora of kids – G wanted to just run around, scope it out, and see how the kids played on the neat contraptions.  The park visit was pretty short, but G seemed happy.

Even though 40 days had passed, when G got out of the car in my apartment parking lot and walked down the street, his mission had not changed.  He beelined straight to the door into Cupcakes, Muffins and More.  G walked in like he owned the place and sat at his usual table.  Then I reminded him he needed to pick his treat.  He hopped down off his chair and trotted to the glass case, picking out a peanut butter cookie.  He didn’t try to open the case from the front like he had so many times before, so G must have remembered the attempt would be worthless as always.

G and Smoothie

Then we went up to my place to say hi to Jag.  G announced his arrival by promptly pulling Jag’s tail.  And Jag responded with his own hello.

We hit Mojo’s for lunch, and G was thrilled to see the lunch hour entertainment singing and playing the piano when we walked in.  He promptly pulled up a chair and sat like an angel for close to ten minutes, totally enthralled with the music.  I didn’t dare pull out the camera and chance that he would notice it and lose his focus.

G wouldn’t eat his grilled cheese because the waiter declared it hot when he brought it, and G needs more time than I do to let things cool down.  So we took it to go in a container with a paper bag as big as G.  Then he told everyone bye and headed to the side door.  He knew it was walking time.

G and I have taken a lot of walks, but never right along the river.  I had a playground destination in mind, sure that he would bore of the river after a few minutes.  I was wrong.  He loved it.  We saw ducks and other large birds (geese?).  A few fish even jumped out of the water to say hi!

Then G hopped up on a random bench and dug his grilled cheese out of the bag.  It was finally cool enough to eat.

G on the Mississippi

G didn’t eat the entire grilled cheese right away though.  We continued our walk to the band shell, and took the trail back to the skybridge.  G must have been practicing for the Junior Bix (he is registered, can’t wait!) because he sprinted most of the way back.

After the skybridge, we walked past Mojo’s again, and G located a table outside, climbed up on a chair, and finished his grilled cheese.  He flirted with a couple of 20-something girls who walked by.  And he proceeded to grunt at the trucks driving by.

G and Mojo's

And yes, G was wearing a Ford cap on Wednesday.  Even though I’m a Chevy girl, I respect his parents’ wishes and bought him the properly branded cap last year.

After the grilled cheese was gone, we walked the rest of the way back to my place for some Cars and play time.  Then we ended the day in Bennett with Mommy and Lucy.

I have learned that while I can plan a few general things to do during my days with G, nothing will ever happen entirely as planned.  I have to adjust as needed, and sometimes I adjust even though I wouldn’t have to adjust.  Example: visiting the cupcake shop mid-morning instead of later in the day.  But Aunt Mel is sometimes a pushover and likes her own sweets too.

And this reminds me that any day is open for a little improvisation.  We just have to be open to it.

Fridays with G: Silly Stuff

I love G’s sense of humor, mostly because he often does silly stuff naturally without even knowing it is funny.

G did a silly little sitting happy dance in his car seat when I met his Dad for the hand off on Friday morning.  I’d like to think it’s all because he can’t wait to hang out with me for a full day, but I know at least part of the happy dance is because he gets to sit sans car seat in my car for a few minutes while his dad installs the car seat in my car.  Then I bribe him into his car seat with some Gumby on the iPhone.

As I mentioned last week, G gets creative with toys and other random objects in my apartment.  He took it to a new level with this set up:

creative toddlers

At first I thought the wine corks were pillows, but the positioning with the panda didn’t look like the cork was intended as a pillow.  Maybe they partied and are hungover?  Who knows.  I had a good laugh.

G also likes to show off for the apartment staff by jumping down the hallway.  It’s his new motor skill.

The boy has also figured out how to make any picture silly (reminds me of his dad):

G at starbucks

And the grand finale of the day’s silliness was our 3D glasses photo at the IMAX:

imax fun

And yes, my hair is all messed up.  G decided to give me a new hair style while we were somewhat patiently waiting in line for 15 minutes.

Fridays with G: Personality in Progress

G is nearly two years old, and his personality is beginning to shine.  I thought he had a great personality since day one when he arrived, but now others are able to see it too.

Gabriel Day One
I knew hours after Gabriel was born that he has a neat personality!

G is an explorer.  This may be partly his age along with personality.  But I have known kids his age to be much more timid.  As long as I am within arm’s length, G is happy to walk around the corner and see what is there.

G is a social butterfly.  I am so proud!  He smiles and waves to nearly everyone, and if he recognizes you, you might even get a hug.  G likes to win new people over.  When we were eating our weekly cupcakes at Cupcakes, Muffins and More this past Friday, he even melted a city worker’s heart.  G was really into his truck pulled up to the curb, but he made time to acknowledge the worker, give him a high five, and then wave bye and smile at him from inside the window when he left.  The guy said G made his day.  Too cute.

G is a negotiator.  About half of the time, G wants to do something different than what I want to do.  This difference in opinion can be as simple as the door we need to use to go outside.  Most recently, I was at the back apartment lobby door, and G was at the front.  He stood at his door responding with a “no, no, no” when I said to come to the other door.  Then he spoke in his very own language, likely saying something like, “But Aunt Mel, I want to go out this door because there’s a big truck across the street.  And it’s not much further to go around the entire building outside.”  I broke this by using my super excited voice to exclaim what we were going to do next if we went out the back door.

I sometimes give in to G’s opposing ideas, but not all of the time.  I want him to learn that he can’t always get his way with Aunt Mel.  Most of the time, yes.

Overall, G is pretty easy going.  He will make the simplest things fun.  He found a drinking fountain in my apartment lounge and nearly took a bath in it.

Fridays with G

He also finds entertainment in putting Panda and Lion in fun spots in my apartment.

G's imagination

I can’t wait to see what new personality traits come to surface as G gets older.  I have a feeling he may be slightly Type A like his Aunt Mel, as he is often seen lining up his tractors, machinery, and farm animals in a perfect row before leaving them to go to bed.

Fridays with G: Enjoying the Moment

Routine activities become so much better when G is a part of them.  He forces me to slow down and notice things as I attempt to take him in the direction I want to go.

Scenario #1: Starbucks

G and I made our first non-drive thru visit to Starbucks together this past Friday, and he loved it.  He walked through the store, taking in the smells, products, decorations, and people.  We bought him some fruit snacks and oatmeal and found a table near the window.  Soon he was admiring the big comfy chair, perusing the Wall Street Journal, and smiling at the cars going through the drive thru.  He also enjoyed flirting with the baristas, who thought he was the cutest thing ever.

Scenario #2: Target

G and I have been to Target many times.  And since I work there, I often don’t pay attention to much when I am shopping.  G always points out the cool signs hanging from the ceiling and finds a One Spot toy to purchase.  And he will pick out his favorite foods from a mile away: Wheat Thins, cookies, and bananas.

Scenario #3: Mojo’s

I love the RME building in downtown Davenport and appreciate being close to free live music, especially after having lived in a small town for nearly four years.  But this isn’t something I’d necessarily expect G to appreciate.  G might like it as much as I do though.  My 20-month-old nephew can sit still for nearly an hour listening to the local musician play during the lunch hour, and he even does a little jig while sitting in his seat and munching on his sandwich.  He points out the guitar pictures on the wall, gazes up at the open ceiling, and keeps an eye on the traffic outside the big windows.  This past week, he even found interest in the floor.

Scenario #4: Cupcakes, Muffins and More

Of course G appreciates the cupcake shop.  He also plays with the big stuffed bear in the window and attempts to find a way to open the front of the glass display case that holds all of the goodies.  And once again, he really listens to the music, often jazz, in the background.  When G hears music he likes, he gets a very sweet smile on his face and does a bit of head bopping.

Scenario #5: Rides in the Car

G points to lots of stuff as we drive by in my car.  I find myself commenting on the things we see, and he talks back in his own baby language.  He rarely fusses in the car, but instead enjoys the scenery and even takes a nap every now and then.

Scenario #6: Walking Outside

G notices every vehicle and person when walking down the street.  He likes to point and laugh at bicyclists, maybe because they look humorous in their helmets and gear.  He adds sound effects to the big trucks, busses, and emergency vehicles.  And he will get sidetracked by a flower or a weed.  It’s amazing.  If there’s an animal in sight, hang on tight, because G will go for it.

G really pays attention to things around him.  He soaks it all in and has fun with it.  His carefree nature and inquisitiveness can wear me out, but it’s good for me nonetheless.

As you plod through your workday today, try to take a lesson from G and tune into the things around you while following this simple message:

Fridays with G: Baby Networking

G was actually still sleeping when I arrived at his house on Friday morning.  But by the time his dad left for work at 7:30 a.m., he was awake.  There was no mistaking it, as he was making siren noises from his crib.  He visited a Davenport fire station the week before and has a new obsession with fire trucks.

G also has a new room now, to make room for Baby #2, ETA May 18th.  I flipped on the light, said good morning, and he smiled and bounced up and down.  Then I received the biggest hug as I picked him up out of his crib.  And he snuggled for about 20 minutes.  After that, he was ready for breakfast and ready to take a ride in Smurfette.  He even put my shoes on for me!

putting on flip flops

G ready to go
Come on, Aunt Mel! I'm waiting!

This week’s new adventure was toddler story time at the Fairmount branch of the Davenport Public Library.  We arrived early and had time to play first.  I was so proud of myself – until I saw we had a leaking diaper, and of course I left the diaper bag in the car.  So we rushed to get changed and made it back just in time for story time.

story time
Kicking back with the Wells Fargo horse after story time. The name tag is still on!

Just take a moment now to imagine 20 toddlers with their parents and a few siblings, all together in a big room.  It would have been even more entertaining had I not been responsible for keeping one of them in line.  G actually did pretty well.  He kept the sticker name tag on his shirt.  He was just a bit clingy and wanted to take this session to observe before he just jumped in.  We had all sorts of toddlers there – from G’s age of not quite two years old, to four year olds who still haven’t mastered how to behave better than a toddler.  Not judging, just saying….

You had the immaculate kids with their prissy parents, the kids who obviously dressed themselves, the kids whose parents must obviously want them to be nerds their entire lives, and then the seemingly average kids.

I felt the other parents pass judgment on me as soon as the song time began and G didn’t want to stand up.  After song time was story time, and that’s when the real fun began.  A few of the kids had to wander, and the one kid who has to sit as close as possible to the reader was present and accounted for.  We also had the two brothers fighting over whether one could sit next to the other.

When the two stories were done, it was open play time, and the librarian opened up a cabinet of toys.  Of course G went for the Melissa & Doug buildable trucks toy – not only because of his fascination with trucks, but also because Aunt Mel couldn’t figure out what pieces went where.  (By the way, they have directions on the bottom of the truck bases – good to know.)

G befriended a boy named Jacob, whose dad seemed to be somewhat judgmental of me, given his looks in my direction.  I finally told him I was the aunt and this was our first story time.  That helped, a little bit.

Then we played with toddler Matilda and her grandmother, who insisted on calling Gabriel “Gabe”.  His name tag clearly stated Gabriel, and my sister secretly wants to deck anyone who calls him anything else.  This desire was building up in me also.  The grandmother continued to call Gabriel “Gabe” and me “Gabe’s mommy”.  I had corrected enough people on my relation to Gabriel by that point, and it would be tough to correct her on the mommy thing and not the Gabe thing.  So I let it all slide.  After all, Gabriel does call me Mommy.  We are diligently working on saying Aunt Mel.

I walked away from toddler story time feeling pretty good about our baby networking.  I was annoyed by the presence of politics in baby activities – there were definite status structures and relationships built there – but politics is everywhere, they say.  And I was proud of G for being open to something outside of his comfort zone.  He never ran away, screamed, or misbehaved.  He even shared toys with others.

We rewarded ourselves with some Culver’s fish, fries, and chocolate frozen custard.

Culver's frozen custard

Later that afternoon it appeared I had used up G’s allotment of behaving for the day.  He laid in his crib for over 30 minutes without taking a nap.  I’ll give you one guess what sound I heard during that entire time.