Sunday, August 26, 2012

Marvelous Madison

[Written a few weeks ago, forgot to publish. Nothing much has changed. Tim owns a bike now.]

This post is hard to write, because I don't want to make all my Utah friends jealous, but HELLO, Madison is awesome. Please, move here. Everyone. Immediately.

Maybe we are still in a honeymoon phase, but let's start out by talking about the bikeable-ness of this city. Every road has a bike lane, there are miles and miles and miles of off-road paths connecting all of Madison with all of its outlying towns and suburbs. And there are a million cyclists, everywhere, riding to work, riding for fun, family bike rides, students riding to campus. There are also tons of runners, out at all times of day. Tim even joined a group at the UW Arboretum a few nights ago for a couple miles. The biking-running scene, as far as we've seen it, is awesome. Now... just to get bikes... but that will have to wait until our first paycheck, sadly.

The weather has been mostly pleasant, though Madison is having one of the hottest summers in the last 20 years or so. The first week was mostly really hot, and seeing as how we have no A/C, it was a tad uncomfortable, so we spent a lot of time out exploring and lounging around in the nude. Now, things have cooled down and our windows are always open and we spend 90% of the time outdoors. Even in the rain, which has not really been accompanied by thunder and lightning so we have enjoyed walking and playing in it. Atticus loves the fact there is a "park" in front of our apartment, and we love the fact there is a discreet fence in the woods in front of our house so he can't wander too far. There is a nice big shade tree to the side, so I can sit and nurse baby sister while he plays for hours. And not only do we have this area to play in, our apartment complex has no less than a million playgrounds, sandboxes, swings, etc. We have yet to discover them all, they are everywhere. We are also located in a nature preserve, so we walk a few blocks and are on a well-kept nature path that leads down to the lake one way and to campus the other way. We actually still haven't taken the kids out to the lake, which we really need to do, but Tim has run down there and swears it is great. I have walked a ways on the path with the kids in the stroller, but the Maclaren isn't really designed for outdoor walking on paths, so we usually turn back pretty soon. I kind of am wishing now we had a BOB, though I do like our Maclaren, it's just not very rugged [update, we bought a BOB and have since gone down the lake, swam, relaxed, run.... it was utterly marvelous]. The downside to our apartment complex is the hills. We are kind of isolated near the bottom, which is great because it's close to the main road, but not so great because to go to any of the other playgrounds or the Community Center, we have to walk up a really steep hill. Let's talk about how firm my butt and thighs are going to be pushing two kids up a hill in a stroller. Or on second thought, let's not.

I went to a garage sale yesterday, and got an awesome Stokke crib for really cheap plus cute clothes, AND I networked with a super cool feminist history professor and made like 10 new friends. They say that every second person you meet in Madison you really want to be friends with, and I'm definitely finding it to be true. When I go to someone's house to pick something up on Craigslist, I want to stay for a few hours and hang out with them. Madison is much more international city too; I knew our housing would be (I have yet to meet an American family on the playground) but so far I've met women from Germany, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. And I've only bought three things on Craigslist.

The Farmer's Markets are great, and we only have been to the small one [we went to the downtown one last week, it was splendid]! It was the size of the big one in Provo, so I can only imagine how the downtown one is going to be. And they all take food stamps and you get money from WIC to buy only locally-grown, seasonal fruits and veggies. How awesome is that? There was locally-tapped maple syrup and eggs and cheeses and all sorts of delicious offerings. Madison is surrounded by rural farms, just a few miles outside of the city, so there is plenty to go around.

And as much as we like our ward here (we do... kind of), the Unitarian church is in.cred.ible. It's designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (!!) and is airy and spacious (and actually, the part we were in was added onto, not the original, but still cool) and beautiful. The nursery was HUGE and there were tons of clean, well-kept climbing structures and wooden toys and mega blocks and all sorts of things, and you get a pager when you drop your kid off so they can just page you if your kid needs you (also: they change diapers for you. Even cloth ones). The room had huge windows and lots of natural light, and was by far the best room I've ever seen for kids at a church. The meeting room was the same, just beautiful high ceilings and lots of natural light, and while Tim stayed in there, I sat in the "Baby Haven" with Lu when she started to fuss a little. Seriously guys, the Mormon church needs to come and take some lessons from the Unitarians. The Baby Haven was a separate room from the rest of the congregation, but enclosed in glass and soundproof so no one is disturbed by your babies, but you are essentially in the service without being secluded in a dark, shadowy mother's lounge that smells of dirty diapers. There were comfy, new gliders and footstools (not the old, falling apart 80s maroon recliners found in most mother's lounges I've been in), board books for reading, other small baby toys. The other mom in there was openly breastfeeding, no cover-ups and there were a few men in there as well. Tallulah and I just rocked and then she fell asleep while I listened to the message. It was so comfortable and nice. Tim even said he saw that they had pre-made quiet toy packages that you could take in with you to the meeting with little games and books if you chose to take your kids with you to the service (kids were welcome, but there was also the nursery and primary-type classes for older ones). It's easy to feel lost with such a big congregation, and it seems like there isn't a big emphasis on the close-knittedness of the congregation like at a Mormon church, which we kind of like. They do have small gatherings, potlucks and the like, that we may attend in the future and meet other families but we still plan on attending our ward as well (for now). You can't get enough spiritual practice, am I right?

We are looking forward to many more years of Madison. We love it here.


  1. Madison sounds wonderful. We should have lived in student housing in Cville; it sounds similar. And I'm so glad I'm done with the maroon recliner phase. How many people are in the Unitarian congregation? I do love how Mormons have wards. It really feels like a family and makes it easy to make friends and give (and receive) service.

  2. Man, I want to go see this Frank Lloyd Wright Unitarian church! Wish the newer LDS churches had more architectural integrity. We're currently meeting in one of those Viking-ship roofed ones which is pretty cool as far as LDS chapels go. Madison sounds awesome for sooo many reasons, not the least of which is your new Stokke crib!!! I'm so jealous! Well, the bike lanes/biker-friendliness may tie with the crib in awesomeness.

  3. If you like unitarian, you might like the Krishnas (sp). They share many of our beliefs and they like to dance. Bonus: They believe in more than 1 heaven, the highest one is called Golobo. Interesting.