To Build a Fire

The snow is gone, and the temperature is consistently up over freezing. Well over, in fact. This week, our high temps were in the 50s and 60s, so last night – we declared firepit season OPEN!

First off, what is it about men and fire-building?


Everyone knows the trick to starting a beautiful roaring blaze is to put as many male pairs of eyes on the situation as possible.


And poke it with a stick every so often.


Once in awhile, one of the men should avert his fire-gaze temporarily to assess the firewood supply.



Now that we’re fairly confident we’ve had a log catch and as Reid applauds victory (see background), I – the lone female – try and entice one of the men to pose in front of our first fire. One complies temporarily.


Now onto the marshmallow roasting! Thanks to Brian and Michelle, we had roasting sticks at the ready.


The boys load up the sticks…


… with the only marshmallows we had on hand.


Poor little bunnies.

Poor little delicious bunnies.


Home, Sweet Home.


Ohhh we DID it! We bought the house! It closed and we have keys in hand! We could not wipe the smiles off our faces this morning.



A semi-terrible picture of the both of us, but I wanted to capture the moment. You can tell that I’m a Millennial on the cusp. I somehow have the compulsion to take selfies at times, but I totally suck at them!

Oh well, this is us sitting in the driveway at 7:47 in the morning waiting for our realtor to show up for our 8:00 a.m. final walk-through prior to closing.


If you listen closely, you can hear angels singing!

I spent the morning squeeze-hugging Andy at random intervals and squealing at nothing and everything in particular.

Closing went off without a hitch. Where our McKinney house closing was just us two and a closing agent, this closing had us, closing agent, our realtor, the sellers’ realtor and our mortgage broker. The broker was a real character – very likable guy. Brought us (both realtors and us) each a bottle of wine. It felt like a party.

At the end of it, Andy and I celebrated by going to a local diner for [an A-MAZING] breakfast and then to the house to really figure out what we want to do prior to moving in and where our furniture will go.

Finally, since I only scheduled myself out for a half day, we drove back to the apartment to drop Andy off and so I could pick up my computer bag before going back to the office.

It took us about 5 minutes to realize that I had left my phone IN THE DARN HOUSE. (What is UP with me leaving my phone everywhere?) So, okay, the new house is the opposite direction from what I normally take to work, but it was about the same distance all said and done. I just ended up driving to work over the lake instead of under the lake.

Except… when I was about a mile from work I realized that I’d forgotten my work shoes (I was wearing snow boots) at home. I decided it was no big deal, except they had been sitting right next to… OH MY GOD WHERE IS MY COMPUTER?!?!  :::dials Andy on the phone::: “Is my computer sitting by the door of the apartment?!?!”

Oh yes. It was.

Literally, I drove all the way around Lake Mendota today.

View Larger Map

That was fun.

(And after that, it was a *little* easier to wipe the smile off my face.)

Rest assured, it went back to perma-grin when we took the boys over there for the first time ever after daycare today. Both are *so* excited for our new place. We are too.

I can’t believe we have a house here now. The move to Wisconsin is feeling more permanent in so many ways. I’m excited to see what life has in store for us here – knowing this house is going to be the stage for so many memories. And I can’t wait to get started. :)

Wisconsin House Inspection

Why, good morning, Wisconsin!


We had our first, totally official snowfall. Now, yes. It did snow on my first day of work, but nothing stuck around for more than a half day or so, so this I count as the first snow. I slid around on the road. I had to wear snow boots. The works.

Speak of the devil, my Columbia snow boots. I bought them right before I went on a ski vacation with the Fischers during Christmas break of my freshman year in college. Some 13 years ago.


I wore them throughout college. Not bad to have a pair of snow/hiking boots around when you go to college in Illinois. My roommates and labmates have even indicated that they remember them, which is either a reallyreally good thing or a reallyreally bad thing.

Then they went on a shelf when we moved to Texas, where I spent the next 7 years repeatedly convincing myself that I still needed them.

Then ah-ha, victory! We decided to move to Wisconsin!


Michelle warned me that this was tempting fate. Her Columbia boots dry-rotted straight off her feet on a ski trip not too long ago. So, this morning, before I put them on, I inspected them meticulously.

ZERO signs of stress. No cracks, no discoloration, nothing.

And yet, after dropping the boys at daycare, I looked down while enjoying a pre-inspection cup of coffee at the McDonald’s with Andy and WHAT IN THE SAM HILL.


I cannot stress enough how perfect these boots were when I left the house. And how necrotic they looked not even 1 hour later.

Mercifully, I had a pair of red pumps with me to wear at work, but I had to wear these nasty boots for the house inspection. Well. At least from the walk between the car and the house, because it was snowing after all. We took our shoes off in the foyer for the duration of the inspection itself.

So the inspection? I took about 600 pictures of the interior of the house. How many of the outside? Zero. Ha. So, okay, you saw a little picture of it in an earlier post. You’ll have to wait until moving day to see pics of the rest, I guess.

Before I get to the house pictures, the inspection went great. There was absolutely nothing wrong or anything that needed to be fixed. So basically, Andy and I got a chance to marinate in the glow of pre-homeownership for a few hours. It was glorious.

How do I love this house? Let me count the ways.

***DISCLAIMER: I’m going totally self-indulgent here. It’s shallow, it’s selfish, it’s basically gag-inducing. If you have no interest in this, which – who could blame you – feel free to close the post now. Or skim through the pics if you’re curious and then close. I’ll be back to normal next post. But to not act excited about this house would be disingenous. So, here we are. :)


The dining room is, indeed a basic box-of-a-room [off to the right of the front door] with questionable color (lavender was never my thing) and dicey window dressings. But there’s room for grandma’s dining room table and chairs. And a walk through (from that back corner door) past a walk-in pantry to the kitchen.


Lots of nice light in here!


There is an office off to the left of the front door. It’s a big office. There are a pair of pocket glass doors on the opposite wall that close it off from the family room. There is also an ethernet cable jack in here. Andy is in love. Also, the piano might go in here. Plenty of space for it, anyway. It’s a possibility


Walking down the hallway from the front door and off to the left is the main floor living area or family room. (Or, if you walk through the office pocket doors, you’d be standing in this room too.) That fireplace has a MANTLE people! I am so excited to finally have one!! The fireplace is gas and operated with a wallswitch.


Turn 180 degrees from that last picture and you’re staring into the kitchen! Lots of space in here. I’m looking for a place to put our big buffet that we had in the old house and am not seeing it, so it’ll have to move to an adjoining room. Argh. I love that piece. Upgrades from our last house? Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. New last year.


5 burners on this stove.


I am basically weeping right now.


And now I’m awestruck and speechless. Never would I ever have imagined I would have such appliances in any house I owned. And that water dispenser? It has a child lock.

Aww silky silky now.

I couldn’t get a good shot of the main floor bedroom suite. If you scroll up and look at that picture where Andy is standing in the kitchen, you can see down the hallway past the fridge on the right. As you walk down that hallway, the laundry room is off to your left. Then a full bathroom with a tub/shower. Then you walk into a bedroom (which is connected but can be shut off from the bathroom) and, if you walk through the bedroom, you ultimately end in an anteroom that they finished out to be a hobby room of sorts. There they have an extra fridge, a desk, and a craft table. In that room is also an access to the exterior. A perfect mother-in-law’s suite (that’s what they used to call them in Texas, anyway).  A main floor guest suite for any of you who want to come visit!

Off the kitchen again is the access to the basement…


… which is where I feel like I’m Alice and have fallen into the rabbit hole. They’ve renovated an entire side of this basement as a full-on movie theater. This picture [above] is the view coming down the stairs and is actually a view of a pair of closet doors. Just simple storage. There is another set of doors that look like the closet doors on the left but that open into…


… the movie theater. Seats six. The chairs recline. The lights dim. The setup pulls no punches. I never wanted a theater room. I’m sort of mixed on it now, but rest assured, Andy LOVES it. Graham is pretty much going to die.

Basically, we are going to need family therapy in about 5 years because the boys will be entrenched down here while I’m upstairs glowing in my kitchen and we will never see each other.


Or maybe….


… maybe I’ll pop down once in awhile. 😉


Off to the left of the stairs (the theater room was off to the right) is a family room space. Rest assured, this *will* become Kid-topia.


Past the playroom is a no-holds-barred workout room. Complete with rubber flooring. I was like, “Man – these people are SERIOUS about their fitness!” but then we realized that the husband is an Olympic volleyball player. So yeah. Pretty serious.

This will be the guitar room, by the way.


Past the fitness/guitar room is our unfinished storage area. Again, we weep tears of joy. There are no basements in Texas. Let the crap accumulation BEGIN.

The upstairs is an upstairs. The master bedroom is up there. I was going to show a picture of it, but it’s really just a room with other people’s furniture in it. Imagine a box. With some closets. :) It will be sooo nice to be on the same floor as the kids. We were logging MAJOR steps when the boys were itty bitty babies and learning how to sleep through the night!


The boys’ bathroom is a dual-sink dealie. Above is one sink – the other is on the opposite wall. There’s a bathtub and toilet in here too.


Here is one of the two other (non-master) bedrooms upstairs. I imagine this will be Graham’s room. Bet he’ll pick it just because of the color. 😉

So that’s basically it! I can’t wait to move in! It will be sometime in January. We know we want to paint the walls, just to give things a fresh look and bring the color scheme closer to our decorating palette. It would be nice to do that before moving in. We shall see.

The great thing is, there is no buyer’s remorse. We spent more time in the house, and we are exponentially more excited about it.

OH. And maybe the best part? I clocked my drive to work from the house. In the snow…

15 minutes. BAM.

First Week at the New Job

What a WEEK it has been here! What a week!

I just spent the last five days feeling like a new kid at school. (Down to the new shoes I wore!) I’m learning lots and lots. The new place is amazingly similar to my old job and strikingly different all at the same time.


Wouldn’t you know it? It snowed my first day! Madison’s first snow, as it would turn out. (The picture above, I snapped on the morning of Day 2.)

Let’s cut to the chase – the people are so amazingly nice. Welcomes have been warm. My team is really great. There’s a lot of talent here and folks are just as sweet as they can be. Case in point: On Thursday, I asked my team where I could get a great cake or dessert for my mom’s birthday this weekend, and our technician said, “Sounds like you need me to make you my chocolate eclair cake tonight and bring it in tomorrow!”

WHAT?!? I swear you only read about people this nice! Because guess what I have sitting in my icebox? A completely magnificent piece of homemade pastry that I had no hand in making.

We have also been enjoying expanding our brand loyalty outside of our original terrain. :)

weinermobile bank

This picture sets me in a fit of giggles EVERY. TIME. (This is a bank, actually. It was a part of my welcome basket that was sitting on my desk my first day.)

The only damper in the week is that I’ve been taken down sick with some sort of bronchitis/sinus thing. I prayed for this thing to be mild, but no dice. I think I’m getting better, but it was stressful to be meeting tons of people and trying not to alienate them with my grossness.


Andy has been rocking it at Mr. Mom this week. He arranged for daycare (the boys start part time next week) and otherwise generally kept our two boys cared-for and happy.

photo 1

They’ve been making a habit of getting out and about at least once a day. We’re not letting a little cold weather cloister us in the apartment. When you’ve got two boys, you have to give them room to run!


You also need to get them matching HATS!



zach morris

Also Baby Reid needs a haircut. This angle doesn’t look so bad,  but it’s all party-in-the-back, ifyouknowwhatimean.

Can you believe this little chubby angel is turning 1 in TWO WEEKS?!?!??!?!?!?! This year has gone lightning fast. Where did my baby go?

And also? Minor detail…

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE TOO. Haha. It’s in a great area of town that, quite frankly, we were pretty resigned to the idea that we wouldn’t be able to find a house there.

Then… there it was.


I don’t have my own pics of it – just what’s on the MLS listing. Just rest assured, it’s perfect. It’s basically my dream house. Room for us, the boys, guests, guitars and old Hugo.

Basically, we’re all settling in here just fine. We close on our old house in McKinney next Wednesday, and then our exodus from Texas will be complete. I can’t really believe all this has happened so fast. Keep Andy in your prayers as he looks for jobs. Things are starting to take shape there too! Keep you posted!

Day 3: Getting Better, I Think

I was all pumped to write a light-hearted post tonight. Today was better! Much better! Breaths of relief, sunshine, downtime, progress… the whole nine yards!

But Andy and I had words while I was putting Graham to bed, and now he’s out running errands so… no resolution. We all know how great *that* feels.

No need to air the laundry, of course. The tiff was just that… a tiny thing. Built of stresses pent up from appliances that aren’t great, an apartment that’s just a liiiittle too small and things that are just generally out of order with no ease of established process. We don’t have the steps to the dance of keeping a household down here yet. Every so often we bicker like newlyweds. 😉

I’m going to unhealthily compartmentalize that for a second so I can update you on Day 3. :)

Today, we took heaping gulps of hope for a more comfortable future here, in the form of starting to look at child care options, putting together a list of houses to start viewing [tomorrow!!!] and getting pre-approval for a mortgage.

And also, it stopped raining and the sun shone brightly this afternoon. It was like living in a book, it was that perfect.

More on the two items: daycare and houses.

Daycare is going to be a bit different from what we’re used to in Dallas. Apparently most folks do in-home daycares here. It’s going to be far different from the highly-structured, big-classroom settings that Graham has dealt with. Part of me loves the idea of the kids being in a more intimate, homey setting. The other part of me worries about Graham’s school-readiness. (Mostly because I knew we had that box checked and double-checked with the program he was in back in Texas.) Either way, for Andy to get to a place where he can interview for jobs, we need some sort of childcare set up for part time. We’ve got a call in to two different in-home daycares and a visit scheduled with a center-based daycare tomorrow morning at 9:30.

Houses. Oh, houses! We’ve learned a bit more since we last toured homes in September, so we sent our realtor a few revisions – mostly to area & school requirements – to our search criteria, and he sent us a large list to scan through. The revised list of homes on the market that he sent back had a bunch that were doable and a handful that we’re actually excited about. Tomorrow, one of us (cue a heated game of rock/paper/scissors), is going to preview 12 homes to see if they’re worthy of calling Home.

Also had a talk with a mortgage broker, one that our local realtor highly recommended. He gave us two thumbs-up on the loan pre-approval, so we should be ready to make some offers if/when we see something! He also offered to get Andy in touch with local businesses and circulate his resume a bit. Normally I’d be a little “yeah, yeah…” at this, but the guy’s office is located on the Capitol square downtown, so I feel like he must have some sort of street cred to back that up.

Not much else is new. Hugo’s still refining the art of sullying the common greenspaces on command, so send him – uh – urgent(?) thoughts if you have a moment. We also made it out of the house in a semi-big way this afternoon. We walked the mall this afternoon and ate dinner out at a brewhouse. Not too shabby. Felt GREAT to be out!

Will keep you posted on progress tomorrow! Wish us luck!