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.


Just Another December Weekend

I tell you what. We’re a month in Madison and really starting to enjoy the little groove we’ve found here. Apartment living is… tight (and certainly less than ideal) but we’re learning to turn it to our advantage. As Michelle pointed out: there’s no pressure to do home improvement projects during your downtime.

So, then, fun it is!

Saturday morning, we made our favorite Christmas cookies, spritz! This was an experience with no flour sifter, stand mixer (or hand mixer, for that matter) and only one cookie sheet. The cookie sheet thing had to be rectified. (Hello $1 sheets from Walmart!) A colander makes a nice stand-in for a flour sifter too. :) The metal tablespoon I had to use to stir that stiff dough though is officially FOR THE BIRDS.


Andy showed Graham the fine art of cookie decorating. He is a natural!

Baby Reid helped too! (To be fair, those bananas don’t just eat themselves you know!)

Speaking of helping helpfulness, Baby Reid has really bloomed into quite a little assistant! His favorite chore is unloading the washer for us.

Of course, you have to catch the laundry before it hits the floor! (Especially because it’s a bathroom floor!)

He is very thorough at his job. Takes it very seriously.

We haven’t lost any socks in days!

After the weighty chores of baking cookies and laundry was finished on Saturday, we had Sunday to play the day away! Uncle Brian and Auntie M got the boys (but really, the whole family) a membership to the Madison Children’s museum. How cool is that? The place is about a 10-minute drive from the apartment, and that’s only because there are quite a few stoplights. 

Andy and Graham took their maiden voyage to scout it out on their day together Tuesday, so Sunday Baby Reid and I got the grand tour. :)

Including the coin donation funnel. I donated a dollar to something. Hope it was a good cause!

We built, we painted.

He’s a good little builder.

He’s not too bad either. :)

G climbed quite a bit too. And yes, that *is* as steep as it looks!

This structure was made out of old ocean buoys. Huge! In fact, that is a theme of this whole place. Tons of recovered and repurposed materials.

Yep, that’s my firstborn about 2 stories in the air. :S

Meanwhile, safe on solid ground, Baby Reid pursued his lifelong (hee.) passion of CARS CARS CARS.

How cute IS HE?!? AGH.

So yes, we had a lovely weekend. We stayed at the children’s museum that morning until the snow started, then we headed home, ate lunch and took some awesome naps while the snow blanketed the ground. Later in the afternoon, we pulled on all our warm snow gear and went out and played and played and played in the sparkly stuff.

The weather is cold, but life is good. We are thankful.


Let me turn the page, dear readers, and ask for a favor, if I may. In your prayers – at dinner, at bedtime, at church, whenever – would you please send up Andy’s mom, Susan? He’ll know what it’s in regards to. And that’s all we need right now.

Thanks. :)

Baby, It’s $*&%*!#@ Cold Outside

Let’s bookmark this post and have me read it in late February. That should be a hoot.* These temps will surely feel like a heat wave by that point.

*Add “a hoot” to the dictionary of colloquial phrases here in Wisconsin. Ranks up there with “bless your heart” in the south.

It’s getting cold, guys. Like, pretty darn cold. While we were still in Dallas, I was told unequivocally that we should wait to get coats until we actually got to Wisconsin. They make them differently here.

And they do! Kind of. Humorously – and I am 100% as guilty of this as everyone else who gave me this advice – we, as a people, are still thinking in the brick-and-mortar store mindset. I totally could have hopped on and down in DFW as easily as I could have when I waited to get here to Madison. Ohhh well.

So, preparation! I bought the boys’ coats first. They had nothing in their respective wardrobes to battle the cold. After a couple of frustrating size mix-ups on Lands End’s behalf, we got snowsuits and coats for the boys!

First up, Graham. This fella is SUPER stoked about his whole outfit. Loves the hat. Loves the coat. Loves the pants. Loves the boots. Even loves the gloves that don’t fit and have to go back.

graham snowsuit

Then comes Reid, who is not stoked about this entire experience. In fact, he’s rather paralyzed by it all.

reid snowsuit 2

In the spirit of swinging too hard in the other direction and causing HYPERthermia, we stripped off a layer.

reid snowsuit 1

THIS is doable.

Also, how cute is he?! How cute are they both?! #mommygoggles

Yep, just hashtagged right in the middle of a blog post. Not sure how I expect to trend on a self-hosted blog that gets under 100 readers, but eh. Details.

I also got a coat for me. :) Thanks Eddie Bauer!


So excited was I to show this coat to you that I classily took a selfie in the women’s restroom this morning on its maiden voyage. This may not display, how do we say, executive maturity.

Thankfully for everyone, I am not an executive.


Think how excited I was that we – minus Andy, who has a coat on his Christmas list – are ready for bitterly cold winter weather!

And guess what? Wisconsin – you delivered!!

mad weather

My Minneapolis family is in tears laughing at this piteous display of “cold” weather, because they had temps of 2° this morning.

mad forecast

Looks like it’s not going to warm up anytime soon either.

And somehow, in a bizarre twist of fate, DALLAS got socked upside the head with a wicked ice storm last night. Meanwhile, it’s cold – but beautiful – here. But cold.

Also, as I mentioned in the beginning of this entry, please direct my attention to this post in late February when all four of Madison’s lakes are frozen solid, and I haven’t seen the ground in a good 2 months. We’ll see how “cold” I think this really is and how well all our coats really work.


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.

Round Here

We have been keeping busy around here! Let’s review the last week or so.

Last weekend, I sent Andy to Dallas to catch the Pearl Jam show, and my parents came up for a visit and to help with the kiddos. That also meant that we got to be together for my mom’s birthday!

Saturday of that weekend, even though it was cold and rainy, we made our way to Stoughton, where my grandparents lived for many years during the 90’s. It’s a great little Norwegian outpost of a town. We stopped into the Nordic Nook so Reid could explore his Viking roots.

Graham found a sword that he couldn’t live without, so we spent the rest of the morning wrapped in assurance that we were safe and in good hands. 

Entertaining his recent (well okay… for the last year or so) obsession with gloves, we stopped into a corner drug store downtown to let him buy a whole box of rubber gloves. I know. It’s so strange, but he loves them. 

Of course, the drug store requires a weapon to be holstered… (can you spot the hilt of the sword?)

Later that evening we celebrated with delicious chocolate eclair cake and presents.

Mom and Dad left Sunday and made their way through the infamous tornado-riddled storm to get home. Andy, meanwhile, flew back up from Dallas too. All made it to their destinations safe and sound.

The rest of the week, we’ve pretty much been hanging out. Keeping each other company. Trying not to do too much damage to each other in such small quarters. :)

Graham and Andy share a guitar video on YouTube. 

THIS ONE looks sweet, but he is thisclose to being put on Santa’s naughty list. Somehow since we’ve been in the apartment, Reid has been waking up at 5:00 a.m. Yes. It didn’t take us too long to move him out of Graham’s room and into ours, because we were desperately trying to maximize sleep for at least one member of the family. Of course, Graham is waking up early now too and, since we’re all awake, it seems mean to send him back to bed.

Basically, we’re fairly tired and crabby.

Forts (or, as Graham calls them, “sports”) are becoming quite a big deal around here. We build one about every other day.

It’s fun for a kiddo to have a little space of his own. Also, Andy? WAY better at building forts than I am. 

Graham and Reid started part-time daycare this week to keep them in a school groove and give Andy some dedicated time to look for a job. Things appear to be going well. Reid has taken to it easily. Babies are so nice and simple in that way. Graham likes his teacher too. We had a mixed report from her on Friday, so it’ll be interesting to see how this week goes.

And this week brings Thanksgiving! We’re traveling down to see mom and dad and the rest of the Illinois bunch. Should be a good time. At least we don’t have to make a 15-hour drive – so already, this trip is amazing

A little info on the house front:

We closed on our TX house on Friday! Finally!! As much as I’ve been looking forward to having that process finished, it is really something to not own that house anymore.

As for the new house, we have our inspection tomorrow morning. I actually grabbed a bit of time out of work for that, so I’ll get to be there. I’ll be taking some additional pics of the place (stay tuned!) and spending most of my time figuring out where our furniture is going to go and starting a to-do list for the house! Getting excited for that!

As for my work, everything is going really well as far as I’m concerned. I learned a TON this week, and still have lots to go! Increasingly glad that this is a short week!

Hope your weekends were good and that you’re looking forward to the holiday like we are!