Week in Review 2 December 2012

Every week, I vow to get this thing pounded out earlier, and every week it’s the same sad story where I’m rushing through it to finally go to bed. Gah. Well, this week we’ll aim for less words, that should help to speed it up.

It was a busy week – we had visitors, I got my hair colored for the first time ever in my entire life (my stylist went easy on me with shades of chestnut and walnut, which is is way cooler-sounding than telling people my hair is ‘mouse brown’). We also had Pete’s first preschool parent/teacher conference. All is going splendidly, thankfully (I was really worried about the social angle, for some reason, but apparently he gets along great and chums around with Olivia and Alex as well as Zoey and Jules. Which kinda makes him sound like the chronic third wheel now that I think about it…).

This school, being a Montessori, has 3 to 5 year olds all in the same class, so there are certain learning sets that are mandatory for the older kids but the younger ones can still opt in if they show interest. Pete’s done a few of the Math skills and ‘Culture’ (social studies/geography, basically) but his teachers excitedly pointed out that he’s really excelling in the Language studies, and is proficient at most of the Language skill sets they have. And as a gal who also had that as a strength in school, that made me pretty happy I won’t lie. At least he’s got my genes somewhere in there…

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He’ll grasp those other valuable life lessons, like eating like a normal human being, soon enough I am sure.

After a busy week we took it pretty easy this weekend. We hit up the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning. They move it indoors, to Monona Terrace, in the winter.

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There was also a Holiday Fair going on while we were there, and assuming it was a lot like the one they had in Lawrence every year, we hit that up too. Welllll, it was kinda like the Lawrence one, although a lot more hippie (Lawrence tends to be a lot more locally made rather than Fair Trade), and the sweet granny caroling group sang political songs which is vaguely annoying (it’s the HOLIDAYS, stick with the program, LADIES), but there was still a lot of nice things to be had. I ended up finding a total score for my Muzzy for Christmas, snapped that gift right up. And as a bonus, the sewing/embroidery was done by rehabilitated El Salvadorian prostitutes, which will make for a nice conversation piece.

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After stocking up on veggies, bread, and presents, we headed to our favorite shopping area and knocked out some more Christmas shopping. Hilldale had a these animatronic gingerbread dudes, and of course an area with Santa (which Pete cautiously crept past like he was trying not to wake up a pit bull; not sure if we’ll do that Santa Visit this year…). They also had a carolers and a gingerbread-house contest going on. AND their own indoor Farmer’s Market. So there was a lot to keep us entertained, to say the least.

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After all our shopping we headed home for a bit. Later we drove over to Stoughton (population 12K-ish), to take in their Fire Truck parade. Pete didn’t nap (as is his norm on the weekends now) but he gave up the ghost on the 20-minute car ride there. Darn it. He was pretty much dead, too; our kid is a light sleeper but we carried him from the car through the downtown streets of Stoughton and laid him down in a booth at the Main Street Pour House, where he peacefully snoozed while we got settled and enjoyed a beer and put in a food order. Finally we poked him enough so he was awake, so he could see the darn fire truck parade that was starting in five minutes.

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PS that shot of Scott shows him demonstrating to me the different powers of the Angry Birds Star Wars characters. Ummmm nerd alert.

So anyway, after waking up the Doots, he and I ran outside the restaurant just in time to see the fire trucks come down the street. Several nearby fire stations send a decorated truck to take part in the parade. It ended up being maybe 30 minutes total, which is the perfect time for a parade as far as I’m concerned. Scott came out at about the half-way point and we switched off so I could go back inside. Not like it mattered that much: we had a rainy day that ushered in a warm front, so it was a nice 50 degrees or so that evening. Didn’t even need the winter coats we were wearing.

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By the time the parade was over, our homemade pub chips and wings were at our table ready for us to dig in. One thing I love about Wisconsin: you could walk into some really dive-y looking pubs, but they will still have a nice selection of craft beers as well as menu items that are freshly made in-house rather than coming from the Sysco truck.

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After we got home and Pete was snug in his bed, I worked on holiday cards and wrapping gifts and watching cheesy romantic comedy movies. Except I was exhausted by midnight, after a full week of work stress and hardcore workouts and staying up way too late, so I had to give up both projects and just hit the hay. Meh, I’ll finish them eventually, I’m sure.

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Sunday the boys woke up bright and early, but I was a total grump and refused to get out of bed. Around 9:30a I finally rolled out and groggly went downstairs, to find that the guys had prepared biscuits and gravy from scratch. So a big mug of coffee and a tummy full of food later, I was feeling vaguely more alive.

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Sunday we took Pete to Olbrich Gardens, to check out the Holiday Train exhibit. We told him about it earlier in the week, and he’s been dying to go ever since, talking about it every day like the weirdo train addict that he is.

Here’s where I finally admit that: yeah, I am homesick. Now, on any regular day Scott and I will both vehemently tell you that we love it here in Madison. The Farmer’s Market KILLS and so many local products are way superior to anything we’d find back in Kansas. The cheeses and meats and microbrews alone, omg. We can eat locally and organically much easier (and cheaper) than in the KC area. So many other things are way more convenient, Milwaukee and Chicago are a short trip away, summers are mild and lovely (holy hell, summers in Kansas are HORRIBLE), and the local landscape is just so so gorgeous. Living here is a no brainer. But.

But.

Holidays and birthdays get me. I was a mess on my birthday, which I wasn’t expecting. I miss my people, and I miss our annual traditions. So that being said: this time of year, at least this year, has been kinda sad for me so far. I miss running over to KC to do shopping at my favorite places, I miss Union Station, I miss the Lawrence holiday parade and running amok downtown and even the creepy Falmouth house and all that usual stuff. And Pete, he misses the fantastic (and FREE) model train exhibit they have at the beautiful Union Station every year. So, we talked up the one at Olbrich Gardens, even though we had no idea what it was like.

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So we get there, and it’s maybe one-tenth as awesome as Union Station, there are only 2 trains running at a time and on two very basic tracks (rather than the several trains constantly running on the elaborate set ups they have at KC). That didn’t matter to him in the least, however, he was In Love from the moment we stepped foot in the exhibit, and we stayed there for an hour and a half. No, really. He kept going up to the dude running the trains in there to ask questions, sidling up and nonchalantly saying “hey there, Engineer, so do you have any more diesel trains…”. Anyway, that totally put him on the guy’s good side, so when it came time to fire up another train on the track, the guy walked around until he found Pete and let him do the honors of starting up the train. He is still talking about it.

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After the trains we walked around the observatory and took in all the tropical plants, before going back to the trains for one last love affair.

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The only way to drag him back home was with the promise of hot chocolate. Which I make from scratch, with this recipe plus my SUPER SECRET INGREDIENT (and that would be: about a tablespoon of instant coffee granules). I made a ton, so we have some leftover for later in the week when the good holiday shows start airing. I usually make a batch for that, but am feeling rather lazy so might as well do it all at once.

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And that’s about all the excitement we have for the day. We did a ton of boring stuff like laundry, then headed out to see the local holiday display at the park before Pete went to bed. Literally, before bedtime, he was in his PJs and everything. It was pretty worth it though, the park here has a sweet display to drive through.

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Have a wonderful week, all!

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