Random things from Wisconsin

• I have a hard time buying national brands of cheese here in Wisconsin. It seems weird. Why buy a brand that I have no clue where it came from, when there's all those Wisconsin brands next to it? And I'm totally drawn to all the crazy cheeses in the giant cheese case like havarti with black olives. I'll bet that's some good cheese.

• I felt like the country mouse visiting the big city last night at the grocery store. I kept wanting to say things like, "Oh my stars would you look at that!" The variety! The new products! The prices! THE CHEESE! There's a sushi counter. A salad bar. There's a small post office. And they're adding an express care clinic & pharmacy. It's across the street from Panera.

• We have a lot of stuff. Still so much unpacking to do.

• I can't master the speed limits here. Streets that I'm used to being marked 40 are 25. It's hard to drive 25 sometimes. But I will learn, what with all the hiding cops.

• It's strange to move. You have to find all new things. For example, today I have to go find a post office. I'm still working on the best grocery store for me. At least gas station brand is easy. Apparently Kwik Trip is headquartered here. Kwik Trip here is like Starbucks in Seattle. One on every corner. It's taken me a while to locate the free wifi (which was the deciding factor on allegiance to Starbucks or Caribou - Starbucks, I may love your chai, but Caribou has tea fusion coolers and loves me back with the wifi).

• Wisconsin has done some funky things with road names. One road might be an alternate to I-90, one highway in one section, then a different highway farther north. The same road. And all the county roads are letters. County road JJ. Or County road OS.

• There's a beautiful stretch of highway leaving La Crosse that takes you past some Amish farms. Imagine Ella's surprise to hear that they CHOOSE to live without TV. It was beyond foreign to her.

• Just because we're living in a duplex now, it doesn't mean Ella has found her "inside voice." Natalie is still a homebody. And yet, they're also more adaptable than we've probably been.


The girls

One of the unforeseen perks of moving up & away from everything is I feel like my girls and I have gotten closer. We've spent more time together, and done some exploring. It seems I've had an extra measure of patience and compassion with them, which could only be a gift from God. They have been such troopers during this whole process, and have just been cracking me up.

When we first walked into our new place and it was completely empty, Natalie said, "This is refreshing." I thought that was fantastic, so lately everything has been "refreshing" or "delightful."

Ella yesterday decided she wanted to try the children's programming at the church we were visiting. "Because, Mama, then I can make new friends. Just like the song. {singing} 'Make new friends, but keep the old, the other's silver and the other's gold.' The new friends are silver, and your old friends are gold." No need to worry about that one.

Through some sort of quick and sneaky chain of events, we'll be attending the church's Vacation Bible School Monday to Thursday night this week. I will be a helper. At the church I don't know. With all the strangers. The girls saw they were doing Crocodile Dock which they'd been excited to go to at our home church. But they start at age 5, so Natalie couldn't go. Although they have a special preschool program for the kids of helpers. Just call me a gator guide, I guess.

Maybe I'll pick up some silver, who knows.


We're here!

I live in Wisconsin now. Instead of wild rice soups, it's beer cheese. Mmmmm... cheese...

I spent two weeks knocking myself out packing and not sleeping while Captain America started his job and got the lay of the land. Our rental is much smaller than our house, so the packing required an awful lot of piles for Goodwill.

Saturday our families and some friends from a small group at church came to load us up. After 1 1/2 hours the loading was done, and there was just cleaning left. And throwing cardamom and rice cereal (I think the shallow cupboards of our new place will be good for me). You can read more about that here. My dad hit the road with our truck, and Captain America and I followed a bit later in separate cars.

Sunday some friends and Captain America's cousin came over to help us unload. That was also pretty quick. Except for the dryer. I made 4 trips to Menards. My dad climbed over the washer and slid in behind the dryer more than once. He had to replace the cord because it was a 3 pronged cord and a 4 pronged receptacle. He had to try a few venting options to get the washer & dryer to fit in the closet and still be able to open the dryer door. Eventually, it was done. My mom brought the girls down and picked up dad and off they went.

It's been a busy week with work, and when I have a few minutes I try to locate our clothes. Or the box that has envelopes in it. Unpack some books. We're also trying our best to be tourists in our new town. But why wouldn't you when it looks like this.

It's still week one, so we're in the honeymoon phase with our new town. But I do love it. I'm sure things will come up that will be less than stellar. No place is perfect. But it just feels like where we're supposed to be right now.

I've spent a lot of time crying. We left a lot. Families. Friends. Church. Home. It was hard to leave. But it's also good to be here. If that makes sense. Sometimes you don't even know you need a fresh start until you're getting one. I like where this one is going.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped us here & there. Couldn't have done it without you!


What I've learned

I hate moving.


Brace yourselves...

I don't really care about Diet Dr. Pepper anymore. I don't know what happened. Out of nowhere I'm just more interested in plain old Diet Coke (or Coke Zero, preferably). Thus ending years of an obsession. I know. I don't know what to tell you. The end of an era.

Also, I'm becoming fragile under the stress. I was getting worried about Carly not having any parents, and living with Spencer. Was iCarly another show where the parents are mysteriously absent, or does she really not have parents? Today I caught the tail end of an episode the girls were watching where Carly is going to have to go live with Grandpa instead. Of course, in the end, Grandpa sees that Spencer is a good caregiver and Carly is allowed to live with him. And I got misty. Watching iCarly. On Nickelodeon.


I'm an accident waiting to happen.

I'm starting to feel like I attract accidents. There was the near accident with the school bus. And now the accidents have come out in full force.

This weekend we went down to our new place to scope it out. Great news! I only need to eliminate a basement-worth of stuff!! Anyway, I discovered I had boatloads of work to do on Sunday afternoon, so we hightailed it for home instead of staying til morning. Cue the longest trip ever. First off, with two small children a 4 1/2 hour drive is no longer 4 1/2 hours. We need potty breaks. Snacks. Dinner. And then, I came up on this. Some guy felt the need to u-turn through the median (you know, right in front of the sign that says not to), and clipped a tanker full of gasoline. Nine hours later I rolled through, and it was just opening up. I still had to sit and wait for over an hour to drive a mile.

I was totally with the people leaving comments on the article about how he should be cited and what an idiot, etc. Then I found out he was 87 and from Missouri. Now all I can think about is my great uncle. At one point when he was older he ended up going the wrong way on a freeway in the Twin Cities. He hopped the median to get back the right way, ended up on the shoulder and stopped his car. If I remember correctly, the police had to drive him home he was so shaken. And I think that was the last time he drove. Maybe this guy was an idiot -- I don't really know. And maybe he missed his exit and got so scared and flustered he had to turn around RIGHT NOW.

Today I was on my way to the bigger Lake Wobegon, and I witnessed a 3-car accident on the highway. Three cars were in front of me, and a car attempted to turn across our lane. While the first two cars were in it. As it started to turn I automatically took my foot off the gas because I could see it was going to be an accident and I would need to pull over. Glass flew, cars spun, plastic chunks of car scattered about the road. I called 911, but stayed in the car because I had Natalie with me and there were other people already stopping and helping. I stayed and waited til they had most of the people out, and I could catch the attention of a Sheriff's deputy near the edge to leave my name & number. Word on the street (small town -- I'm Facebook friends with the aunt of one of the drivers) is that everyone is okay.

I'm done with all these accidents and reminders of the brevity of life now, thank you.

And now I have some packing to do.


My house doesn't like me anymore.

We have lived in this house for 8 years. I think our house is trying to kick me out.

A few weeks ago I went to take a shower, and when I reached down to fix the bath mat I hit my head on the towel bar. So badly that I wonder if I had a mild concussion. I felt weird all day.

Yesterday I was moving some boxes for Goodwill out to the van and hit my hand on the door frame. I hit it in just the right spot close to my wrist and it literally felt like the bones in my hand separated and then popped back together.

Today I stepped into the shower (the shower which hadn't injured me in 8 years until a few weeks ago), and hit my shoulder on the soap holder thing. So hard my whole arm still hurts, two hours later. And I have a red puffy line across my shoulder.

This isn't really my house's fault, but this morning the city office called to let me know they're turning off the water for an undetermined amount of time while they fix a water main leak in our neighborhood.

I get it, House. And I'm working on it. But if you don't get your Housey act together, no one will buy you.