11 Favorite moments from my 2016 caucus

A Buzzfeedy listicle of 11 reasons my caucus experience rocked:

  1. Pre-partying at the DMSC Give a Damn fashion show. Drank a free beer, got funky with a patriotic eagle, saw models strut it, got a silly caricature drawn and banished my FOMO on caucus-related fun. Oh, and hung out with Nate Boulton who is running for Iowa Senate and is a great guy.

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2. Getting up before the sun to hear NPR Morning Edition broadcast from our local coffee shop. I was there from 4:30-6:30 a.m., which was really too early to hear anything, but it was packed and buzzing with excitement. Eileen slept through it.

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3. Walking to our Roosevelt HS caucus site with my little family. Our caucus site was a little bit of a haul with a stroller and babywearing, but totally walkable in the nice weather.

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4. Selfie with Iowa legend Dr. Deborah Turner in line. I was in the Drake Alumni Executive Roundtable with Dr. Turner last year and have a little bit of a girl crush. The line to caucus was out the door and Joe and I were split up because we have different last names, so I enjoyed chilling with Dr. Turner.

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5. Getting a text from my mom that she was watching our precinct on C-SPAN. Turns out she was probably watching precinct 43 in the Roosevelt cafeteria and I was precinct 44 in the auditorium, but C-SPAN was there! Hi, Mom!

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6. When person #420 got big laughs from everyone in our precinct. Because we are mature, adult citizens. I was 497 of 516! Last time we caucused, we broke into smaller rooms, so I wasn’t really expecting this huge crowd.

7. Taking this #babiesforBernie photo with my neighbor-friend-fellow-mom, Amy. Babywearing for the win! We tried to convince some O’Malley folks to side with Sanders together.

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8. Exposing our kids to this unique political process. Even though Emmett mostly just watched Toy Story on the iPad, he was a champ. We didn’t get home until 9:45 p.m.!

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9. Hearing the stump speeches for each candidate from precinct captains. The Sanders guy was so sweet. “I’ve never spoken in front of a crowd this big!” And the O’Malley guy was funny and warm and eventually came to our side, I think.

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10. Meeting new neighbors who live just down the way and have a daughter a few weeks older than Eileen. The element of meeting and talking with people who live on your street is pretty wonderful. It’s like a block party without the food or booze. (Although I heard about one Des Moines caucus that got moved to a bar!)

11. Watching all of the results come in and validating the heck out of anyone’s experience on social media. So. Many. Beautiful. Iowa. Crowds. Also, sticker guy and hilarious tweets.

What a nail-biter! Our Caucus ended up sending 6 delegates for Sanders and 5 for Clinton. The process was disorganized, but I guess as they say — you can’t complain if you didn’t volunteer!

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What I’m into: Caucus week edition

Totally nerding out in my corner of America because it’s CAUCUS EVE.

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Free caucus download via xo-lp.com

As an Iowan By Choice, I take the privilege of our first in the nation caucus seriously — especially now that we don’t work at the paper and can participate. I gleefully take all of the pollster calls (most recently in the midst of a carwash) and am so excited and a little nervous to head to the Roosevelt auditorium with my family and neighbors and engage in civil political discourse. I know many of my thoughtful neighbors and there seems to be strong support for Hillary, although I plan to caucus for Bernie Sanders.

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While I would absolutely love to see a woman in the white house, for me, Bernie represents the social justice candidate. I’m not disillusioned with Obama and don’t think a “political revolution” happens with a single candidate. This article does a pretty good job of capturing my feelings.

We went to see him at a rally this summer, and every time Sanders’ voice comes on NPR, Emmett recognizes it! Speaking of NPR, I think I’m going to get up early (because, let’s be frank, I’m typically up feeding a baby at 4 a.m.) and head to Smokey Row for live Morning Edition before work:

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Descending the soapbox now! Entering the kitchen!

I’ve been back to work for about a month, and the biggest stress has been trying to figure out how to get dinner made and served without everyone in the house having a meltdown. This past week we nailed it, repurposing leftovers and utilizing our groceries wisely.

Our latest go-to is variations of tamale pie, which is one-skillet and allows for lots of improvisation. In a cast-iron skillet, sweat veggies like zucchini, pepper and onion in chili powder, add meat (we’ve used ground turkey and most recently leftover pulled pork from a crockpot meal) and top with wet cornbread mix, then bake. (Something like this recipe.) It comes together quickly from scratch and is great for lunch the next day.

We’ve also been eating fresh drop biscuits with soup because mixing them up with pantry staples is a great activity to keep a toddler busy while we get everything together.

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An evening on the town

Date nights are few and far between. It felt so, so good to enjoy a night out together.

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Joe got us tickets to see one of my favorite bands, The David Wax Museum, play the Temple Theater as a Christmas gift, and I’ve been excitedly counting down.

We started the evening with tapas, churros and a bottle of red wine at Lurra Cocina, with a view of the Sculpture Park.

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{ENSALADA REMOLACHA – roasted beets, farro, fresh goat cheese, shallots, sunflower seeds, and a sherry-sunflower oil vinaigrette}

The Temple is honestly not my favorite venue, because I like to be up and dancing, but Des Moines Performing Arts obviously treated the band well, which is important. I love the sincerity in The David Wax Museum’s music and (maybe it was the wine and hormones), but I teared up once or twice.

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Total DSM Moment – we were seated right next to Jay Byers, the CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. We geeked out over the fabulous POLITICO article “How America’s Dullest City Got Cool” that just came out.

I got Suze’s new lullaby album (they take their 2-year-old daughter on tour with them!) at the merch table and was a total fangirl and asked for a photo.

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We left our kids with his sister and brother-in-law, and they were so worn out from playing with cousins that they mercifully slept in. Tonight we’re swapping and watching the cousins overnight. There will be five under the age of six. Wish us luck!

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Playroom refresh + indoor toddler fun

We used some of our time off over the holidays to tackle our extra bedroom and convert it into a brighter space that works better for living with two kids in a 1.5-story, nearly 100-year-old home.

I didn’t think to snap “before” photos, so use your imagination. The guest room was formerly painted a dark indigo with a queen bed, chair and cedar chest taking up the majority of the space, and a Blues Brothers poster on the wall from Joe’s bachelor days. Here it is now:

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The art on the west wall is a piece by Joe’s Uncle Mike LaVelle that we received as a wedding gift. It gives me a happy, peaceful feeling and Eileen loves staring at it.

To turn the space into a playroom/guestroom, we painted the walls Prairie Sky by Behr and swapped out the queen for an IKEA Hemnes daybed that expands into a king for when we have company, and conveniently hides a traffic-jam full of plastic vehicles as well as bedding.

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(We donated our queen to the USCRI refugee resettlement program. Learn more about that here.) Joe updated the ceiling fan with more contemporary glass sconces and a coat of white spray paint. We added toy storage on either side of the bed, and brought in the easel and little desk and chair.

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On the east wall, we hung the chicken wire bulletin board Joe made for me awhile back. I think it’s perfect for tacking up birth announcements and kid art. And on the north wall, we hung the embroidered alphabet blanket my Aunt Mary Lee made for Eileen. Her stitching is so impressive!

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I unearthed and hung curtains I sewed for our upstairs that we had swapped out awhile ago, and the (slightly uneven thanks to an unfortunate trip in the dryer) sheers were already in the room. Now we’re just missing a rug and some throw pillows, which I’ll probably D.I.Y. later, maybe once I get my hands on some Roam collection fabric.

We’re definitely loving the extra room to snuggle and play.

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Speaking of, I’ve included a few of our favorite indoor activities lately after the jump…

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2016 Goals for Brain and Body

It’s only the second week of the year, so I’m trying to set some goals that will keep me happy and healthy.

Body Goal: I’m not going to set a number, but I did decide to take a challenge. DMU (where I work) is involved in the ALA “Fight for Air” Climb on April 10, and I signed up to do stairs on 87 floors in four of Des Moines’ tallest buildings as part of the event. I just found out I’m moving offices to the fifth floor, so I’ll have lots of opportunity to train if I take the stairs!

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Brain Goal: I saw this 2016 Reading Challenge image floating around on social media, and I thought the checklist might be a good goal for reading:

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I’m obsessed right now with downloading books through the library on Overdrive (just because I can get them quickly and read hands-free while I feed a baby), and loving being part of a book club. I did finish Fates & Furies at the beginning of last week, although I’m not going to recommend it because – despite some lovely writing, the dialogue and characters irked me. It’s gotten other good reviews, though!

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Lastly, I have another side project happening next Friday: NON-CON 2016. I’m excited/nervous and if you’re in Des Moines and interested in advocacy at all, it should be a cool event!

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Mini Adventure: Union Pacific Museum

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It’s not often we play tourist in our own hometowns, but after the New Year holiday we were able to squeeze in a trip to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs with Joe’s parents. I highly recommend visiting the museum if you’re in the CB area or headed to Omaha. (It’s open Thursday-Saturday.)

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The UPRR Museum gives a lovely Carnegie Library new life, and the exhibits are a terrific blend of interesting artifacts, beautiful graphics and dioramas and engaging, hands-on components. Plus, it’s free!

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Did you know the US. time zones were created to accommodate cross-country train travel/schedules?

There’s plenty for the adults to read, and for toddlers to explore. You can learn about the creation of the transcontinental railroad, its place in American history, the role of passenger rail, how trains work and more.

{And if you’re looking for a good local restaurant nearby, Dixie Quicks in downtown CB has a solid brunch.}

We did quite a bit of travel for the holidays — two trips to Chicagoland for Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas, overnight at Christmas in Algona, Iowa and then New Year’s weekend in Council Bluffs with Joe’s parents. Considering we have a toddler and 10-week old, it was a bit of a frenzy (more than 1,500 miles!) and we’re ending it all with nasty colds/ flu.

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What I’m into: Holidaze

You know it’s the Christmas season when the kitchen table is covered in fabric and I’m trying not to step on straight pins!

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I have my sewing machine out to finish up Eileen’s stocking, which involves quilting Moda Winterberry charms in a coordinating design to hang alongside her brother’s. (Pattern is a riff on this one from Prudent Baby).

The majority of my Instagram feed is either babies, dogs or fabric designers, and when I came across a festive tablesetting project on the fatquartershop feed, I was inspired to make it for my forever friend, Regina:

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(I made my own template, but you can purchase them here.)

Regina and I got to meet up at my hometown Breakfast with Santa this past weekend and had to get a special photo with our baby girls.

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My mom’s side of the family also celebrated, and this snap captures the feels from our family party:

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Emmett’s wearing a Super Why cape my mom sewed for him. Super Why is a PBS superhero with The Power…To..Read! – obviously my favorite super power of all time.

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Joe and I brought this New York Times chocolate whiskey cake, which features a half a cup of Irish whiskey and a bunch of coffee and pinch of pepper/clove. It was intoxicating.

I still have some last-minute crafting, so I’m going to cross my fingers the kids keep napping and put MAIDS’ new holiday song, “All About Xmas” on repeat. Softly.

P.S. I’m obsessed with all things Aziz Ansari right now. Joe and I listened to “Modern Romance” on our drive to/from Chicago and we’ve bingewatched “Master of None” and I laughed out loud watching his Madison Square Garden special on Netflix. He’s got this refreshing sincerity and feminism going on in the midst of all that funny.

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