Wednesday, January 20, 2016


1.20.16: Surgery day... after a couple of years living with this mass in my wrist, I finally got rid of it today! The whole experience was so easy and the doctor and nurses were phenomenal. Now on to recovery! I will be back to doing barbell cleans in no time... but until then, I'm going to enjoy a nice drug-induced sleep. A special thanks to our Aunt Mimi for being here to help Mitch and me with the girls. The girls want you to stay forever :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


1.19.16: The only photo I took today... Zola's basketball practice after a long, crazy and hectic day in Iowa. Wishing we were with my mom, celebrating her birthday in person. Happy Birthday, Tutu!

Monday, January 18, 2016


1.18.16: Seven. The number of water jars found in the girls' sleeping room on the day of the big house-pickup-before-the-bimonthly-house-cleaning. The "clean before the clean" as Mitch calls it. Whatever it's called, I get to return home to the smell of lavender and basil and zero evidence of small people living with me :)

Sunday, January 17, 2016


1.17.16: Poor Jiung... he's trying to study with a friend downstairs and my girls, by instinct, pulled out their spy kit. I'm sure when they hear "coefficient matrix" and "Pythagorean theorem" they will move on to more interesting conversations... maybe :)

Friday, January 15, 2016


1.15.16: It has been a long, long day at Chez Gross, and we are ending the night watching Mrs. Doubtfire... "Ever since my children were born, the moment I looked at them, I was crazy about them. Once I held them, I was hooked. I'm addicted to my children, sir. I love them with all my heart." - Robin Williams. ❤️

Thursday, January 14, 2016


1.14.16: The only proper way to celebrate this Iowa heat wave! #46degrees

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


1.13.16: I never really intended to share this photo today, or really, ever. Sometime in October, I had a mini-meltdown to Mitch about how I go from 5am-9pm without even one minute of silence. I wake up to my alarm (BEEP, BEEP, BEEP), go to the gym (loud music "lose yourself in the music the moment you own it you better never let it go"), get girls ready for school (loud talking "why do I have to brush my hair if she gets to wear a pony tail?"), listen to a conference call while driving to work ("we need to identify the risk and document our proposed solution"), work all day (more risk/solution talk), pick up kids from school (more loud talking "I know way more about sea animals than my teacher and don't even know why I have to go to school"), administer homework ("I don't get math"), and then dinner and activities until I crash into bed. Not one minute of quiet time to myself. Some days I can't even think clearly because there is so much noise in my brain. I lost my ability to fully relax. I'm on GO mode 100% of the time, never anything less. After much reflection and conversation about how to tame my mind, it has been my goal to carve out 30 minutes of silent time for all of us. No one can talk. No phones. No computer. No music. No noise. I need 30 minutes of hearing NOTHING. So I put a reminder in my phone. Every day. It doesn't always happen, that coveted 30 minutes of silence... but usually the reminder alone is enough to make me take a deep breath, appreciate the noise around me, acknowledge my own need for quiet, and have a brief moment of reflection in peace and quiet. I might not get a full 30 minutes, but there are days I'm thrilled with 30 seconds. Deep breath. Quiet. Deep breath again. And then I'm ready to hear all about sea animals and how math just doesn't make sense.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


1.12.16: A throwback to a couple of months ago, but timely because President Bill Clinton will be visiting Coralville this Friday night at Northwest Junior high school. I teased Sarah that you know you are from Iowa when you pick up your daughter from basketball practice and think nothing of running into the President's advance team.

Click here to RSVP and see more details → http://hrc.io/1SKeAHW

Monday, January 11, 2016


1.11.16: If only this photo could produce sound...

Sunday, January 10, 2016


1.10.16: Tonight I found Mitch trying to give Jiung a lesson in laundry... I have no further comment. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016


1.9.16: No better words could have appeared in my chocolate wrapper tonight. My "Sex and the City" girlfriend group has been together for well over a decade, and our time together is always just what my soul needs. Tonight we laughed about the labeling of household items before inheritance is claimed, we nodded heads in unison over our frustrating political climate, and we hugged after the gifting of memorial Christmas ornaments for a sweet baby no longer with us. Friendship really is the greatest gift. 

Friday, January 8, 2016


1.8.16: The travel goddesses were on our side. There were many flight interruptions and delays nationwide today, but after only having to spend a few extra hours in the airport (bar), we made it back to Iowa. Home. Spending time with some outstanding coworkers and old friends is always incredibly enjoyable, but returning to my family is something that will never be topped. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016


1.7.16: I could live in this city and walk by this house every day, and I'd never tire from it. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


1.6.16: You know that moment when you connect with friends from college and all of a sudden you feel like you are 20 years old? Well. That happened tonight. All it takes is one night in DC to remind me that I'm here for ACTUAL WORK and that I could go on for hours and hours with friends and I'd still have an 8am meeting. I could not be more grateful for these friendships... spanning decades but feeling like so much less. Wasn't it just last week that we were at 2925 Rutland? So much love and not enough hours in the evening... until next time :) 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


1.5.16: Eleven. Time seems to disappear into thin air some days. One minute I'm navigating through diapers and naps and the umpteenth clothing change, the next minute I'm planning for a taekwondo black belt test and the first of 8 basketball tournament weekends in a row. Except that between those minutes is now eleven years. My Zola... the older you get, the more I see you shine in the most beautiful way. I can't go anywhere without someone saying, "Oh, you are Zola's mom!" like it is a label that stands on its own. I will proudly wear that label...  every personality trait you posses gives me such pride and confidence that you will grow into a superb young adult. Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I know you think we shouldn't celebrate until 9:12pm, but I've been celebrating you for 11 years, so a few minutes early tonight isn't going to make much of a difference ;)

Monday, January 4, 2016



1.4.16: The time has come to part ways with our scale. Permanently. And not because of the reason I'm guessing you are thinking. We had to throw it away because I BROKE IT. I am not kidding. This morning was the last straw... it had been acting up lately, but today? I stepped on and instead of jumping between no less than 47 different numbers before finally settling on one I don't like, it just said... "ERR". Not ERR like, "error", but more like ERR like "errrrrgggh". I think it might have even groaned. Only 17 choice words were screamed before I tossed it into the garbage. Good riddance, you #%*^+&@ piece of $&#*.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


1.3.16: Celebrating the last night of our holiday break AND our newest house guest. Jiung's parents were both offered jobs in North Carolina, and he desperately wanted to finish his junior year of high school in Iowa City. So he moved in yesterday and is going to stay with us until summer. The girls are ecstatic and have bombarded him with constant chatter. He has already beat all of them in Mario Cart, which Zola considered "quite impressive, given how much we've played during break." Elsie continues to remind him that she knows how to count to 10 in Korean, and MD was shocked when he slept until 11:40 this morning - "That's nearly our lunch time at school!" We are all very excited and so happy to spend the next few months with Jiung. If only the girls don't scare him off before then...

Saturday, January 2, 2016


1.2.16: It isn't every day that you can sit alongside with one of your husband's bosses and his fiancee and enjoy a drink (or two or three). In the real world, a director of human resources and a co-president of the teacher's union would never have formed a friendship. But they did. And on our friend's last night in town, before moving on to a new job in a new city, we celebrated his time here and our friendship together. Some things are bigger than any job or any position. Today we celebrate you, Chace. Can't wait to cross paths again soon... in Iowa, DC, Kansas or Maui. Best of wishes to you and Adleigh :)

Friday, January 1, 2016


1.1.16: I've been calling 2015 The Year of Melanie. For the last ten-ish years, I've either been pregnant, breastfeeding, carrying toddlers or holding three sets of hands anytime we were outside of our home. As much as I wouldn't trade those years for anything (ok, maybe a few things), it was time to move on and work on myself. During this last year, I became physically stronger and fitter than I ever imagined possible, and had daily reflections on how I could be a better mom, wife, friend, etc. After this last meditative year, I'm naming 2016 The Year of Family. Nothing in the world is more important than these four people. While Iowa might be down 35-0 in the Rose Bowl game at halftime, I look at their faces and have genuine happiness and contentment. This football game might not be going where we want it to, but my family is moving the exact direction I'd choose. For the next 366 days (thank you, leap year), I'm returning to the photo project, posting one photo each day. I missed out on a lot last year by focusing on myself. As much as I believe that year was a crucial and necessary one, I'm excited to give undivided attention on those family and friends most important to me. #2016

Friday, April 24, 2015


4.24.15: The defcon level 1 family drama continues... and resulted in a frozen yogurt "Table for One, Please" stop.

With the arrival of warmer weather and my work schedule seeming less crazy, we've been stopping at our neighborhood frozen yogurt shop on the way home from school on Friday afternoons.

It is a big treat, celebrating a usually-successful end of the week.

Well, the girls didn't finish the chores I asked them to do last night (even after my "Shut. UP!") so I parked in front of the fro-yo store, made the girls walk home, and I headed in and self-served myself a heaping bowl of Life Lessons and Consequences 101.

You don't help out at home, and you act like a jerk? You don't get to participate in the fun.

Ironically, I didn't even want the stupid frozen yogurt (I don't even really like it!).

I made sure when I got home that I "accidentally" had a little hot fudge smudged on my lip. "Oh, that? Shoot - thought I got it all. Mmmm... that was good!"

I'm willing to bet that next time they get their chores done :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015


4.23.15: Elsie fell asleep after school pick-up, and MD thought she looked funny enough to take a photo.

And then proceeded to text it to my family.

These kids aren't getting their own phones for a looooong time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


4.22.15: You would think, on this Earth Day 2015, that we'd be able to celebrate by running outdoors without wearing multiple layers.

But, no. Fleece, coat, hat, scarf, gloves, tights, sweats.

C'mon, SPRING!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


4.21.15: Our toothless wonder...

Monday, April 20, 2015


4.20.15: Two kids, two totally different outfits, SAME SEASONAL CLIMATE. How did I not notice this is how they left the house this morning?

Sunday, April 19, 2015


4.19.15: Since my Saturday evening didn't turn out as productive as planned (SO WEIRD, right?!?), I spent most of the day Sunday prepping meals for the week.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


4.18.15: Not one second of hesitation from me when Mitch asked, "Do you want me to take the girls to see the high school production of Cinderella tonight?"

Sure thing, dear. I'll just be home, meal planning and preparing for the week. Don't mind me.

Friday, April 17, 2015


4.17.15: Pinocchio! Puppets! Puppeteers! Another wonderful local play, and this time, both Elsie and MD performed. Elsie was a puppet (Pepperoni!) and MD a puppeteer.

We practiced lines at home (*gasp* "STOLE HIM?") and even Zola helped with the reading of scripts.

As much as I loved it, I think we're all happy to get some of our evenings back to ourselves :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015


4.16.15: So much action this week in the woods behind our house... We're all proud new owners of a non-broken sewer line! (Luckily, I don't think we'll lose all of our trees.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


4.15.15: Hillbilly Elsie is showing off her pearly whites, and she's patiently waiting for the top (snaggle)tooth to finally come out. She's lost 2 other teeth in the last week - why not make it three?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


4.14.15: The BEST night at Brownies ever... our troop leader brought the most coveted treasure. The parachute was an instant hit with these 2nd graders. #thankyouspring

Monday, April 13, 2015


4.13.15: Happy Birthday, lady. Not a day goes by when I don't think about you and miss our crazy times together.

Don't worry, like any good friend... I'll drink yours.

Cheers, Cheryl.