Bike expo fun

Spring starts to feel like it just might be around the corner when the Iowa Bike Expo rolls around. Especially on a more than 50-degree January day!

Joe was working the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation booth as part of his new job, and Emmett and I met him down there to explore a bit. INHF was launching the Android version of their Iowa By Trail app, which is pretty cool. Thus, the crazy eyes.

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Iowa By Trail allows users to geolocate their position, find points of interest, share their adventure, track stats and more. Right now, they’re mostly central Iowa trails, but the goal is to add the whole state, with hiking, biking and even water trails. Joe’s always coming home with sweet biking swag these days. Crushing hard on the high trestle bridge jersey.

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If RAGBRAI isn’t in my near future, I left inspired to do a Wabash Trace overnight bike trip with Joe sometime. His parents live in Council Bluffs, so we could use that as a launch point for a trip down to Imogene where you can camp next to the town watering hole and shower in a converted grain bin!

 

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Filed under I love Des Moines, Iowa adventures

Now in print: DSM Jan/Feb Issue

I have a feature in this month’s issue of DSM Magazine! “Setbacks and Silver Linings” (p.91-97) profiles three individuals (athlete/administrator, artist and entrepreneur) for whom adversity served as a crucible for their character and career.

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I truly enjoyed interviewing Sandy Hatfield Clubb, the Drake Athletics Director. I’d been around her on campus, but from a distance and hadn’t heard the story of her growing up and it was a privilege to put her experience into words.  I love writing for DSM because it keeps me meeting fascinating community leaders.

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You can read the full issue online here. Also: Put a DSM unveiling party on your local event bucket list. This past one was hosted at the Des Moines Playhouse and was bananas busy. I mostly hung out with Mike Wagner (read about him in my story) and stuffed my face with delicious appetizers.

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I also ran into my friend Lesley, whose ultra-globetrotting life (she lives in Osceola but regularly attends events like the People’s Choice Awards) I can normally just follow on Instagram. Gotta love Iowans who seize every opportunity for glitz and adventure!

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Behind the curtain

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. I had the flu (a gift from my sweet child), went to a musical (Book of Mormon!), hosted a mini-conference that 75+ people took part in, and it turns out I was named a finalist for a local young professional award (thanks to a thoughtful nomination from a friend).

I’m not writing about it to #humblebrag; I could list dozens of people in our community whose work I admire and who are way more deserving of recognition. It was exhausting and exhilarating and it left me feeling like I need to explain.

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Recognition is really nice, although not completely comfortable. The stories that highlight nominees for these kinds of awards don’t necessarily explain how they do what they do. Inevitably, there’s a big team behind the curtain.

Luckily, every single job and boss I’ve held in this city has allowed me to be a master of my own destiny. They’ve given me the flexibility (and encouragement!) to take random meetings, to flex my schedule when need be (I worked 32 hours a week the first six months of Emmett’s life), afforded me great vacation/sick time (yay journalist furlough and higher ed jobs!), and space to explore possibilities. This is so important. If employers want to attract and retain creative, engaged people, you need to give them a leash long enough that they can pursue their passions in concert with their work.

Luckily, I have been able to navigate the delicate tightrope of quality childcare support. My sister-in-law is a saint to whom I owe a huge piece of my sanity. She’s incredibly flexible, patient and I trust she loves Emmett every day while I’m at work like she does her own girls. She’s never going to receive any big public recognition for what she does, but caring for small people is the hardest job. Hands down. (I’m also happy to have joined a great babysitting co-op to fill in for date nights and whatnot, because when you don’t have grandparents in your city, you really need a tribe.)

Luckily, I have a spouse who always encourages me to do what I want. This isn’t just limited to career pursuits, but the soul-recharge that comes with my Friday night book club, or getting away for a bit to take a sewing class or go for a run. And when I’m done doing my thing, he most likely has made some ridiculously delicious dinner, so I don’t have to think about that. Mostly we scratch our heads at how people who are parents ever leave their homes, and then we decide instead of ever cleaning our house, we’ll attempt a family hike. Without this guy, I would spend way, way too much time in my own head. Mostly worrying or feeling guilty about something I’m doing or not doing.

Whether or not I “win” the YP award in February, the fact the I get to go to work in a job I love and live in a community that lets me pursue and explore so many ideas (and embraces me when all I want is to hang out in my sweatpants), is a huge reward in itself.

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Motherhood: 18 months in

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This isn’t the right analogy in a lot of ways, because I’ve always loved my son. But early on he often felt like this really cute but exhausting roommate who did a lot of puking on me at the just the wrong times and turned my nights and days unpredictable and my body unfamiliar. Early motherhood kind of strung me out, living with this demanding relative stranger who was my own flesh and blood.

Parenting a toddler is pretty challenging, too, but I’m finding the experience enjoyable and rewarding. Suddenly, that darling mystery is turning into a charming friend. (Don’t get me wrong, because there are tantrums. Full-on, face down on the floor screaming and kicking tantrums so ridiculously textbook that I have to stifle my laughter.) I think it’s his grasp of language, and imagination. Personality. Sometimes, a taste of my own sassitude bounced back at me.

I’ve learned that days go most smoothly when I don’t expect Emmett to be occupied by a toy, but try to engage him in an activity. Sometimes this means we can work on parallel projects and sometimes it means I’ve become a boat and he’s riding my legs down the river, or we’re making soup together. The whole world has clicked for him and he wants to be a part of it. And, as parents, we’re re-discovering the world and words, too. (Of course, I felt less starry-eyed about this stage a few weeks ago, during an epic sleep regression that meant Joe and I would take turns falling asleep with Emmett on his floor at 3 a.m.) Daily life.

The joy of hearing his litany of two-word phrases: up high! another one! bless you! help you (for help me)! go outside! close door! His little inside jokes (which might be hilarious to just Joe and me) and the way he tickles my back and his obsession with trucks and cooking and books and bubbles and babies. The way he voice-over-narrates his every activity: Running! Pooping! Falling! His malapropisms: waffles = awfuls.

I’m in love. And, with babyhood in the rearview mirror, I think – I hope! – if and when we get on that crazy train to number two – I’ll embrace the early weeks and months a little more.

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Plus, a few favorite parenting links lately:

I heard this Fresh Air interview of the author of Overwhelmed when it first came out, and it was on when I turned on the radio to run a friend to an errand this morning. Totally what I needed to hear. Again. (I just went back and noticed I linked to it in my post about motherhood, 9 months in!)

A friend who is a new mom linked to Our ‘Mommy’ Problem awhile back and I kept thinking ‘YES!’// I love being part of a book club where it’s about being a woman and a reader (and wine-drinker/pizza-eater) and not necessarily about being a mom.

Catching up on ‘How we Montessori’ blog posts for some simple activities Emmett and I can do together. I read this when I was pregnant/he was tiny and it seemed like it would take forever before he could actually do any of the work, but I suddenly realized he’s ready for some of these concepts. He moved his learning tower over to help wash dishes last night and loves putting away and getting out his own plates and bowls I put in a bottom drawer.

We watched “The Gruffalo” and then “The Gruffalo’s Child,” two delightful short movie adaptations of children’s books that are streaming on Netflix. Joe and I loved it just as much as Emmett, who was calling out the names of all of the animals. In snowy scenes in the sequel, he was feeling empathetic about the Gruffalo child being out in the cold. Needless to say, we’ll be getting these books!

I wish I’d known about The Longest Shortest Time when I was in those early months. It’s still pretty great at this point. And the spinoff tumblr, It’s Like They Know Us.

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Filed under At home, Baby, Life lessons

Christmas memories

I hope you had a lovely holiday season! We were lucky enough to spend this Christmas break making memories with both Joe’s family in Council Bluffs and my family outside Chicago. I love days when you can stay in your pajamas as late as you like. (Because sleeping in isn’t really an option these days, with a toddler who wakes up before dawn.)

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Here are a few favorites from 2015: 

Seeing the stocking I finally sewed for Emmett hanging from the fireplace. I bought the Christmas fabric forever ago (October 2011?) at a shop in Dubuque but didn’t have my DIY act together together in time for his first Christmas. I pieced and quilted it over Thanksgiving with my mom, and used this free pattern and tutorial to base the shape.

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Cooking a Polish family favorite with my father-in-law. Joe’s family feasts typically feature golumpki, a dish of ground beef and pork and onions and rice rolled in a steamed cabbage leaf. This year, Joe’s mom had to work and Joe was hung over resting all morning, so it was up to me and Stevo to fire up the stove. I really enjoyed making these! I didn’t take photos because, well, my hands were covered in raw meat, but you can watch Martha Stewart make them with her mom in this video.

Playing  Suspend at both family parties. My niece Mia got Suspend for Christmas and brought it over in the morning. Such a fun multi-generational family game! You have to figure out how to hang and dangle the metal pieces without them falling. Kind of like Jenga.
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Reading for pleasure. There are few things more relaxing for me than getting lost in a good book. I downloaded Station Eleven, my next book club book on the Kindle app this time, so I could read in the car during the nighttime drives. The interwoven story lines are gripping.
Handmaking gifts is always a favorite, although unfortunately I didn’t do very much this year. (I did sew new pillowcases for my mom using the APQ sewathon roll-up pattern.) Emmett got lucky in this department, though. My brother made him the IKEA-hack learning tower so he can be a kitchen helper. And my mom and aunt made a way-awesome “quiet book” together! I can appreciate the hours and hours they spent on it:

I have a few days off and a to-do list a mile long, so blogging is the perfect procrastination. I’m hoping to put down words about motherhood at 18 months, because everything feels different as we’ve hit new developmental milestones.

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Filed under At home, Baby, Books, Cooking, Getting crafty

Two cutie homes in the Beav

Just a quick post because I’m blogging between cookie batches, but I wanted to share two charming Beaverdale-area homes my friends are selling. Maybe you’re in the market or just curious how reasonable real estate in Iowa can be. You should up-and-move here! 00S0S_kBmfV2yI5ag_600x450 4107 Forest Ave.  – A  Three-bedroom near Snookie’s Malt Shop, with closet space! Check it out. ISdkwmz3k839k31000000000 3407 50th St. –  This cute home features a fabulous finished basement and gigantic backyard (complete with hops growing on the deck!). Check it out. Both homes owned by great families who care about their communities, so they have excellent house vibes. Now, back to my batches of caramel chai spice cookies. I’m headed to a cookie exchange this afternoon! IMG_20141214_123249

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NON-CON is in one month

I’m so excited! YNPN Des Moines is hosting our first mini conference and after party on Jan. 8, 2015 to celebrate our second programming year. We’ll be exploring topics in nonprofit management through the lens of art, a theme that was inspired by our hosts, the Des Moines Social Club, and a desire to have a Powerpoint-free conference.  NON-CON attendees will creatively address challenges in the nonprofit sector and enjoy a space to meet and learn from potential collaborators.

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Who’s it for? The event is open to professionals of all ages and experience levels. Whether you currently work at a charitable organization or have goals to be a change-maker in our community, you will come away excited and energized to fulfill your mission. It’s FREE for YNPN Des Moines members or $45 for the general public. (I’ll let you in on a secret – the membership is a steal!) Get tickets here.

The best thing about planning this is working with a team of our up-and coming leadership, and pulling in amazing artists and nonprofit pros to facilitate.

Laura of XO-LP will bring her nonprofit pro background and super illustrator skills together as part of a team going inside the mind of fundraising.

Emily, a nonprofit pro by day and yoga instructor by early morning/evening will drop some burnout prevention tactics.

Kristopher and Emily of RUN DSM will be there with all of their characteristic energetic reciprocity.

Nick Renkoski, a man of many talents, will facilitate an unconventional opening session.

I had to get out of my comfort zone to recruit sponsors and am so thankful to the companies who stepped up to support this event! We’re splitting our sponsor dollars with the Social Club, so it was cool to find a way to contribute to an organization I’ve appreciated for a long time. Please join us Jan. 8!

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