Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saying goodbye

Some unpublished thoughts about leaving Madison, from a month or so ago:

I had a meeting with our graduate chair today. It was something I was glad to get over with, going over the logistics and figuring out a plan for the future. It was also something that made me sad and depressed in a way I had not anticipated. I may have even cried when I walked out of North Hall for the very last time. This bleak, old building with its endless staircases and overpowering heating system has become my second home for the past two years. I spent so many hours giggling at inappropriate things with Jose Luis in the computer lab and going on feminist rants with Camila in the hallways and complaining about the workload of 856 with... well, everyone. I made friends with my cohort and with my professors and the staff. I felt supported and befriended even though I was this weird anomaly with two kids. While I did not enjoy every waking moment of grad school here (who does? I'd like to meet her) I felt like my time here was well spent and a huge growing experience. I have never been more of a leftist socialist feminist anarchist in my whole life! (yay, gender studies department)

It also doesn't help that the weather in Madison has been a balmy 75 degrees and sunny, sunny, sunny for the past month. Our bushes are overflowing with red raspberries and we are biking more than ever before... to lakes, playgrounds, friends' houses, Trader Joe's. We are living in a lovely bungalow that's not unlike the future home we hope to own, and spending our evenings cuddling on the couch watching top-quality Danish TV shows. Even though I am excited for our next adventure, I am more than a little sad to be leaving this one. We had high expectations for our lives here in Madison, and they were met or exceeded. We love the midwestern friendliness, the international flavor, and the homey vibe of this city. Now we only have two or three more weeks to soak it all in and see as much of it as humanly possible ...


We live! In Texas!

Welcome back to our awfully neglected blog. I kind of missed blogging, but have felt rather uninspired. Does anyone care to hear about our loooooong drive through Kansas? Our night at the Motel 8? The traffic in Dallas/Ft. Worth that we sat in for several hours? How we really, really, really miss Madison but are sure we may come to like Austin too? Probably not. Here are some photo highlights for you, though:

Saying "hej-hej!" to many of our Madison friends at Rennebohm Park.

On our way out of Madison, in the pouring rain. Apparently this is the only picture we took on the whole trip?

We all came down with a terrible cold the first days here in Austin. Tim's director of student affairs took pity on us and put us up in their guest rooms for the weekend until we could sort everything out with appliances and furniture.

Asian ice cream food truck. Tallulah calls them "trains!"

I came in to the student lounge while Lu was watching TV. It was PBS Kids, until the Newshour came on. I asked her what she was watching and this is the face she gave me. 

We're slowly replenishing our toy bins. Girl is into trains now!

Ah, to have a library close by!

The kids' room. I found this bed on Craigslist, and nice Texas man drove an hour to deliver them AND assembled them for us. HUMANS CAN BE SO AWESOME SOMETIMES! THANK YOU, DUWAYNE!

She loves her soccer shirt, and her tiny babies.

She also loves giving me black eyes, as evidenced here.

We are mostly settled in now... 
And happy to be in Texas while Tim embarks on his new life, and we are along for the ride.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Devil's Lake, finally

Although Devil's Lake is only an hour away from us by car, we have never made an effort to go. I knew we needed to before we left Madison, so when we received an invitation from our dear friend/doula/soul mate Analiesa for her wedding reception in August, we found our perfect opportunity. Since we were heading down on a Sunday, we stopped by a UU church in Sauk City, the Free Congregation of Sauk County. It was (and kind of still is) a German Free Society, which was a society that was persecuted in Germany and so the members came to the US for religious freedom. It was a thriving community until the world wars when German persecution became rampant and members were distancing themselves from all things Deutsch. Membership declined dramatically, and the Free Congregation partnered with the UUA in order to stay afloat. It was a pleasant little old building with super kind (mostly old) people.

The kids swam and swam, played in the sand, and then the wedding reception happened. Unfortunately the root beer keg was broken... and a bunch of Mormons couldn't figure out how to fix it. But we stuffed ourselves on brats and vanilla ice cream, and then we made a night of it camping with more old BYU-Berkeley friends, Adriana and Alex and their incredibly adorable baby Oscar.

The selfie of looooooove.

Atticus with a Lego Star Wars dictionary. He is so obsessed with Soren's, we had to find one at the library that he could take everywhere so he didn't ruin the other one.

Blurry, but all I have of Alex and Oscar, walking around, which they did a lot.

We have a future pyromaniac on our hands. He was SO upset when we put the fire out.

This tree cracked and fell RIGHT next to where our tent was when we were packing up and leaving. Scary.

The next day we made breakfast, and we even went on a few hikes. Atticus was SO upset to be "hiking" when in reality it was climbing on rocks and he loves that more than anything. He was wearing his Salt Water sandals, which, for future reference, are not appropriate to climbing over slippery rocks. He barefooted it the rest of the way and had a grand time going up. The going down part... well, let's try to forget about that. We made it, no major injuries, and then spent the rest of the time at the lake and in Parfrey's Glen. We ended our trip at Hubbard's after a frantic search for food in backwoods Wisconsin (must feed kids before they fall asleep at 6 pm!) and a brief stop at a bar promising hot pizza and sandwiches and where our kids couldn't go in (not 21...). But that meatloaf after a day of hiking... wow. Just wow.

He is constantly running around shooting things with his blaster, playing Star Wars.

Waiting in line at the Merrimac Ferry!

My deepest fears expressed through a Danish TV drama

PEOPLE. If you haven't watched Borgen, and you think you want to, don't read this post because it contains SPOILERS. If you have watched it, or don't think you yourself will become obsessed with a Danish television drama, please, read ahead:

Over the past few weeks, we have finished the first season of the Danish TV drama Borgen -- which translates something like government or castle, depending on whether you are asking the subtitles of the show or Google translate. The government is housed in a castle, so maybe that is the confusion. It follows the story of a woman (wife, mother, moderate politician) who becomes prime minister, a post she herself never actually wanted but somehow fell into her lap. I was hooked from the start -- I loved her politics, and her personality, and most of all her relationship with her husband. It was like me and Tim ten years from now. They talked, they had great sex, and he supported her 100%. At first. But then, even though he encouraged her to take the job and told her her would pick up the slack at home, he gets lonely. She is busy, for obvious reasons (as she finally reminds him later: "I just made statsminister!"), and she becomes distant and distracted (because, you know, she's running a COUNTRY). He wants to be a CEO, and instead he's stuck teaching 22-yr-olds at a community college about international finance. He becomes bitter. He has an affair. And ultimately their marriage falls apart.

I KNOW, I KNOW, this is a TV show, right? I have been strangely devastated by this turn of events. I think because from the beginning, Philip reminded me so much of Tim, and I like to think I have a little Birgitte in me too. And sometimes I can see Tim getting bored and restless spending so much time with the kids while I am being wildly successful in grad school (well, while I was). And not like I'm saying Tim is the cheating kind (in fact, I have never once actively worried about this even though my husband has long Facebook conversations with a lot of women), but I think I must have some subconscious fear of infidelity that is surfacing now watching this show. Or at least fear that my ambition will lead to the dissolution of my marriage. And it's not like it's the first show I've watched where a husband cheats on his wife, but I could relate to them and their marriage so much. They were doing the "five-year plan" like how we've talked about -- trading off careers/childcare... you on for five years, me on for five years. He is kind of broody and quiet and good-natured... like Tim. She is smart and talkative and a perfectionist and a tad controlling. I was rooting for this show to be the example of the feminist family! Now, instead I'm disappointed and wondering whether this can even be a reality. Not like I will ever be a Scandinavian statsminister, but I think one day I may go into politics, and even if I go into academia, I will be busy and distracted many days and won't be able to focus my attention on my kids and husband. And maybe he or they will resent that... and I will be too busy and distracted to take the time to figure out what is wrong or how to fix it. Or maybe we will make our own Danish television drama one day, and the couple will stay together and it will garner fantastic ratings.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Last week: August 3

We've settled into something of a pattern in our temporary house. We are house sitting for our friends the Allen's while they are in Hawaii until we leave for Texas (whenever that is, I have to be there by the 27th but Cait is thinking about waiting). We're really grateful for all our friends that have let us stay in their homes this summer. Pretty much we hang out around the house, play in the back yard and take turns going to yoga. I have been doing my free lance writing and doing some prep work for divinity school, for which I am quite excited. I forgot how much fun it is to put all your classes on a clear calendar.


Swimming lessons for the kids this morning and every morning through Thursday. Cait isn't a big fan of how slow they bring the kids along here in the city rec program, but I remind her that this is Wisconsin, not South Carolina. You don't grow up with every other neighbor having a pool here. The kids had a mostly positive experience I think. Lulah clung to Cait for her first few lessons, but did a lot better with me and really enjoyed trying to swim on her tummy and Atticus really liked his teachers, even if getting him to put his head under the water is worse than pulling teeth. Or at least almost as bad as pulling teeth.

Atticus got video game time for good swimming behavior.


Cait went to her pottery class in the afternoon and I took the kids to a little concert at Sequoya Library, which we are very happy to live close to.

Frisbee night was rained out. Or at least it was for me. Sorry the 5 people who showed up, one short of a full game.


Who knows. Cait says she took the kids to swimming lessons, Target, the Farmer's Market, Metcalf's and the park alone. I have no recollection of this. Take photos if you want credit. Actually, I remember going to yoga, running, a taco place and working. So maybe this happened.


We had corn for lunch. I know, right?

I had a eye doctor appointment, but the walk was a lot longer than I though it was going to be, so I ended up being too late and had to reschedule. So I joined Cait and the kids at the central library, where they were also late to a party celebrating Harry Potter's birthday. That's okay, they love Central Library.

Potions class

We got dinner at a vegan restaurant on the East Side and then went to a Mallards game.

This restaurant. Apparently.
Atticus was obsessed with this sign, especially the reverse side which was a no smoking sign, but with that cute owl smoking. Mixed messages Green Owl.

Apparently we were all exhausted already. The food was good.

At the game we sat out in the big grassy area behind left field, but we were too far from home plate for the kids to be interested. We eventually drifted over to the kids area, that had a playground and a sandbox and some bouncy houses ($1 for a few minutes of jumping) where we could also see most of the game. The Mallards lost and then they had to stand for an hour on the field handing out candy (the game had a Halloween theme for some reason) and signing autographs. The kids loved it. We got some Brats and, for some reason, bacon cheeseburgers on a halved glazed donut. Deliciously awful and obviously totally cancels out our vegan dinner.

The kids love wrestling each other, but obviously, it gets out of hand almost always

Victorious Lulah shakes her rear at a fallen Atticus.

Rolling down the hill

The team had both male and female mascots. Millie digging with Lulah.

Millie gets a hug. Neither of the kids wanted to get close to the male mascot. 
Friday: We cleaned the house and Cait took the kids shopping in preparation for our first Pizza Night in months.

Returning with Trader Joe's spoils.

Pizza night was a great success, at least to our mind. It was great to have some extra space for guests, as well as a nice porch. We got some new people to come out and had some delicious pizzas. Also, dishwasher!

I think everyone's face is sufficiently blurry to post this
Lulah's best friend Samie.

Saturday: We went to a beach on Lake Mendota and Samie, one of the childcare teens from FUS and the summer camp I chaperoned, and all around Carroll-Browning best friend joined us. Unfortunately, a rain storm the night before had pulled up a lot of sea weed and left the beach a mess. We still had fun.

No pictures apparently.

Sunday: It was Service Sunday at FUS, which is a chance for FUS members to connect with a bunch of different volunteer opportunities both at FUS and in the broader community. I set up a training run by the folks at the Road Home, which is the traveling homeless shelter I help coordinate volunteers for. I recruited some new chairs for the committee, so this was my last hurrah, which feels nice, although I do feel like I was just kind of getting started. But unfinished business will abound from our time here in Madison, for better or for worse. Cait and Atticus helped prepare signs for FUS to carry at the gay pride parade next weekend, which we will miss as we are heading up to Baraboo and Devil's Lake for a wedding reception.

Cait's reaction to "Hey you, no naked shoulders at church!"
We had lunch after service Sunday and then came home in varying states of exhaustion and whiled away the afternoon.