Family Camping 101

Alternate Title: What my Preschooler and (almost) One Year Old Taught Me About Camping

baby's eye view of campsite

I took a brief “camping trip” once in college. A friend of mine called up out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go. Being young and fancy free, I said yes and he picked me up later that evening. Camping basically entailed briefly setting up a tent (which I remember absolutely nothing about – I’m guessing it was a small pop up tent or something) and attempting but ultimately failing to set a fire (but almost setting the tent on fire!). We got breakfast the next morning in Woodstock which I thought was pretty great.

Fast forward several years to a married Jen with a four year old son, a nearly one year old daughter and a husband who has been itching to take his family camping since the four year old was an infant. Add in a poor economy where the cost of a hotel room is cringe worthy and we decided it was time to take the plunge and explore the great outdoors together. Visions of nature hikes, roasting marshmallows and becoming one with nature danced through my head for the weeks or months or whatever leading up to our first trip.

Being the control freak that I am, I attempted to plan for everything I possibly could, wanting to make this the best camping trip ever. I made lists and menu plans and read tips on every website I could find. We shopped around for a good deal on the right tent, got a great queen sized air mattress and even added a few extra inches of fabric to our daughter’s old fleece “baby in a bag” outfit from infancy so she could use it as a faux sleeping bag at night.

I pestered my husband at great length about what clothes to pack for the kids that would protect them from ticks and mosquitoes and cold weather and hot weather. I made sure we had a flashlight and a first aid kit and a cooler that was big enough but not too big. And then I planned a few more things just to be on the safe side. Finally, the big day arrived and it was time to go.

We were lucky to find a great, inexpensive campground 30 minutes from our apartment. We arrived to find the entrance seemingly under construction but quickly found our campsite and set up. The kids sat in the car impatiently as we set up the tent and a tarp over the picnic table before letting them out. After we unpacked our things, we stood back and said, “Now what?”

being outdoorsy

I hadn’t really brought any toys for the kids apart from a bedtime story and a stuffed animal for our four year old at night. I figured they’d be busy exploring the great outdoors and doing nature stuff. So I plopped them down in the dirt, cringed when my baby girl became instantly covered in any dirt she didn’t put directly in her mouth and then picked her back up again, dusted her off (getting dirt all over myself in the process) and asked my husband what we should do now.

We decided to explore the area a bit. We knew there were two playgrounds and a pool at the campground. We quickly found the first one, which turned out to be little more than a slide, a basketball hoop and a slightly gross looking sandbox with no toys. Like basically it was just like the rest of the dirt on the ground but in a box. Okay.

Plan For Next Time #01: “Next time, we should bring some of our sand toys for the kids to play with. And other toys, too – our kids aren’t old enough to be entertained by nature for the entire vacation. And neither am I.”

After quickly peeking into the very rustic bathrooms we eventually found a map of the campground and saw that the other playground and pool were only like 4 little dots away in that direction so we headed off to explore some more. Four little dots turned out to be pretty freaking far away. We walked for at least a half a mile in wooded terrain that went mostly uphill and finally found a clearing with picnic tables, another box of dirt with no toys and a swing set. The other playground of course.

My four year old declared that this playground was his favorite and I agreed because it had LOTS of benches and tables to sit at. We also noticed that there was a small parking lot next to it for campers and non-campers alike to park at (state park).

PFNT #02: “From now on, we’re driving here – and anywhere else further than a three minute walk away – I’ve had enough hiking this summer.”

After swinging for awhile we continued checking out the area and found a really beautiful vista and a cool tower that the boys climbed for what was probably an even more beautiful view.

beautiful view taken by my cell phone boys on tall tower

After the boys finished climbing the tower, we walked back to the camp site and decided to drive into “town” to visit the general store. We had forgotten mustard for our dinner of brats and hot dogs that night and wanted to see if they had any coffee. We were very thrilled to find that this was the mother of all general stores – complete with anything you could think of forgetting.

Mustard now in possession, we headed back to the campground and made dinner. Having nothing better to let them do, I put the baby back in the dirt and let the kids play. They actually thought this was pretty great and with only a few tantrums (most of which were from me) dinner was eventually served and delicious. Unfortunately lady luck was not with us when we attempted to start a fire to make s’mores and after awhile we tried putting the kids to bed.

a not sleeping baby

While it was smart of us to bring the pack and play which luckily enough fit inside our tent along with all of us, the baby only liked it for brief moments of “playing” – when we tried to use it for sleeping she began to shriek and howl and holler at the loudest volume she possesses. BB, by the way, only sleeps through the night because she decided at some point she wanted to. It clearly has nothing to do with us, because after probably five minutes (that felt like five hours) we decided to attempt a slumber cruise.

Driving through town we discovered that the next town over was basically awesome. It reminded us of some of the towns in New England that we used to visit on vacations mixed with a sort of German vibe which was no accident, as it’s a very Scandinavian town, celebratorily so. Trolls are the big thing here – with wooden sculptures at the entrance of many stores (like Trollway Liquor) and there are tiny pictures of trolls on all the street signs. Seriously.

historic Main Street driveby

PFNT #03: “Let’s stop thinking of the campground as an all inclusive resort and start thinking of it as a cheap motel. As in, we don’t have to spend the entire day here when there are really cool places nearby to explore.”

After driving through their historic district and deciding we had to come back to check it out on foot the next day, we found ourselves in the more residential part of town which was equally stunning. After a brief “nap”, the baby was cruelly awake so we stopped in at a Culvers for ice cream to make up for the total lack of s’mores after dinner and then eventually headed back to the campground where the baby was still awake.

My memory is blank now and I can’t remember what happened next but at some point we tried going to sleep again and BB threw a seemingly BIGGER tantrum and Dan took her for another, this time successful, slumber cruise and we somehow managed to sneak her back into the tent where we all passed out.

(feel free to take a quick bathroom break or get a snack – I’ll wait… Okay, ready? As I was saying…)

The next morning…

After waking up way, way too early, Dan set about making pancakes from the little shake and pour bottle we got at the grocery store. Being cheap, we bought the generic brand and I think we got what we paid for, but they were edible and life moved on…

After breakfast we decided to head into town. We checked out all the entrances and gift shops for the overpriced museums and attractions in town, taking pictures of course, to make it look like we actually did the whole thing.

look kids, it's science!

if you buy a bag of dirty rocks, they let you wash them here for free

We also took this picture of BB driving the car:

future menace of the roads

After doing the touristy jig, we went to the local library and pretended to be locals. The town had a beautiful library, a lot like the really nice one near us, but with different toys so that was exciting for the kids. We used their free wifi to check our email and be boring grown ups and it was glorious.

After our excursion into town, we headed back to the campground and had cold pizza and chips at the picnic tables near the swings and let MM play outside for awhile. This was probably his favorite part of the day. He made friends with cute girls and got to eat potato chips and drink a juice box so basically it was heaven.

Not wanting to look at our tent again yet, we headed back into town to look at the historic section, perusing fun bookstores and looking at troll-y things. Eventually it got late enough to head back to camp for dinner where we had chili dogs and finally managed to get a fire going to make s’mores!

hurray for chocolate and cooked marshmallows!

PFNT #04 : After making traditional s’mores, Dan humored me and put some marshmallows in between two soft chocolate chip cookies. Surprisingly, we all agreed they were possibly better than the s’mores and infinitely easier to both travel with and assemble.

MM trying the cookie faux smore

I also learned that BB can sit in MM’s small folding chair and that taking pictures of her doing so is pretty fun.

my little big girl

cute little dirty toes

PFNT #05 : Buy BB some shoes

After our s’more success we decided to be smart and jump straight for the slumber cruise before attempting another screaming match with the baby. We drove around for awhile, MM slept but BB didn’t, got gas and then headed back to the swing set playground when MM woke up so he could play for awhile.

There was a little concert going on across the path at the amphitheater so we stopped by that. The kids loved the acoustic, family friendly music and although I thought they were playing way too loud for such a small space, it was a lot of fun. They played some songs we knew and some we didn’t and one that truly touched my heart. It’s called “Turn Around.” The Internet tells me it was a hit in 1964 for Dick & Dee Dee, and was also recorded by Harry Belafonte (who co-wrote it), Perry Como, The Kingston Trio, The Brothers Four, Charlie Louvin, and Rosemary Clooney. Here’s a snippet of the lyrics:

Where are you going
My little one, little one
Where are you going
My baby, my own

Turn around and you’re two
Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Turn around, turn around
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Where are you going
My little one, little one
Little pigtails and petticoats
Where have they gone

Turn around and you’re tiny
Turn around and you’re grown
Turn around and you’re a young wife
With babes of your own

Listening to this while holding little BB who is growing at literally the speed of light, definitely brought a tear to my eye and had me thinking about my father who I’m sure feels the same way about me. It definitely left me with a feeling that time is precious.

After that sweet moment we headed back to our campground where BB was still wide awake and after a few minutes of attempting to nurse her to sleep but failing and then trying to initiate bedtime anyway, but failing, and suddenly feeling sleep deprived and exhausted and grumpy and not in any way in the mood for another “slumber cruise” and so forth, I recommended that we pack up and just head home instead and Dan agreed. Our vacation had worn out it’s welcome and we were ready to go home.

So we packed the kids up in the car where they cried a little and hollered but eventually fell asleep as we packed up the car, took down the tent and the tarp, made everything fit and forgot nothing – in pitch dark with only that small flashlight to help us. Another thirty minutes later and we were home.

So, does the fact that you left early mean you didn’t have a good time? Are you going to go camping again?

Thank you for asking, imaginary co-blogger. No, we didn’t have a bad time. I won’t say we had a great time but enough moments were great enough. Let’s be honest, there is no perfect vacation that involves traveling with kids, especially young kids. It’s about enjoying the good moments and getting through the bad ones, and taking notes and more importantly letting go. And that whole going home early bit? It was kind of the best part – it was a moment where we said, “You know what? We’re the parents, we’re in charge – this is our vacation and we can go home early if we want to.” So we did. We’ll definitely go again – this time with more things for the kids to do, less expectations and mustard.

I Couldn’t Possibly Make This Wordless

You might have realized by my semi lack of posting that we went on vacation last week. It was a fast, fantastic, hectic, amazing, sweet, hurried, silly, busy, incredible week that has left us mostly wiped out. As I work my way through laundry and unpacking and naptimes and “Oh lord, we don’t have anything to eat,” I thought I’d post some pictures. You don’t mind, do you?

looking for planes

I got this sweet shot in the airport last Wednesday morning as we waited for our plane after a quick airport breakfast. After I took this shot, I realized I was in manual mode from another photo shoot and so the quality technically wasn’t great but I actually really liked how this one came out. I also got some cute ones like this:

utter delight

Then we boarded the plane – the kids’ first flights ever. The first leg of the flight, the baby basically slept the whole way and I kept MM busy reading the emergency guidelines which he seemed to think was our “itinerary” like “First we’ll use these silly oxygen masks, then we’ll set the plane on fire, then we’ll use the seat cushions for flotation devices.” That would have been an interesting flight, but luckily ours was more boring.

The second flight I sat next to BB. Since she’d already napped she decided to spend this flight being a maniac and nursing around the clock, but I did get this cute picture of her strapped into her car seat on the plane, which was a brief moment for sure! She spent very little time in the car seat on that flight.

briefly entertained with a juice bottle

After arriving in Massachusetts and getting a ride to my parents’ house from Dan’s parents (and BB showing her auntie that she can roll her tongue JUST like said auntie and lots of laughter and some screaming (from the baby, not us) we finally passed out from sheer exhaustion and then suddenly it was Thursday.

graduation day That night we went to Dan’s little brother’s high school graduation ceremony. It was a typical graduation, aka long and sort of boring, but not without a little excitement and some obligatory “graduate” pictures. I snapped this one of Dan, his brother and Tongue Rolling Auntie (TRA) on my cell phone, hence the poor quality of the picture.

After the ceremony we drove around town, got lost a little bit and had dessert with friends and family at a strange Dessert Bar Thing next to a biker hang out. It was truly bizarre but there was dessert and more fun times and then we went back to my parents’ house where I should have woken the baby up regardless of the hour but instead to decided to let her sleep and had a restless uncomfortable “should have nursed the baby before bed” night. But eventually morning came and all was well.

Friday we went to a couple of family parties at Dan’s parents’ house and then later his cousin’s house. It was a kind of Happy Graduation and Birthday and Wedding Party kind of day because everything seemed to happen all at once this weekend. Dan’s father turned 50, his brother graduated and his cousin got married all in the same week – and tons of people finally got to meet BB for the first time!

proud aunties

The weather was beautiful, the baby was adorable and we had a great time. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an ice cream truck pulled into the driveway. Apparently the brother of the bride who was hosting the party hired an ice cream truck to come to the party for all the kids (and kids at heart). TRA’s boyfriend got so excited that he spilled a water bottle all over MM – so to make up for that, he took him over to get an ice cream cone which pretty much made MM forget about the whole thing, except for when we told everyone about it repeatedly.

a sweet treat

Saturday afternoon some of the girls came to visit with their kiddos. It’s been a year since MM has seen these friends but the second they saw each other, it was like no time had passed. Very sweet.

buddies

Sunday was the wedding. It was really just a beautiful wedding which I could talk about at length. At the reception I got pictures of all of Dan’s siblings with their significant others. Everyone seems to be pretty happily paired off and Dan and I both just adore all of them which is pretty nice. We had a lot of fun joking about BB’s future pirate / luau wedding which I won’t go into because that would take too long and make me sound kind of strange, but trust me it was awesome.

coupled up

Monday morning we had breakfast with another of my besties and I got this adorable shot of MM with her two girls. Check out his future sister in law and wife because seriously.

silly and sweet

Afterwards we went to a Memorial Day cookout at my grandmothers and I fell off the picture taking bandwagon so I unfortunately have no pictures to show you of that but it was a blast apart from me getting sunscreen in my eye. Everyone oohed and ahhed over BB and the weather was just perfect.

Suddenly it was Tuesday morning and our bags were repacked and we were heading back to the airport for our flight home which was much like the flight there. Before we left I managed to get a picture of the kids and their meme.

grandparent cuddles are the best

A great trip that went by too fast but still left us exhausted and happy to be home. And now I suppose I should feed my children lunch, assuming I can find enough food.

I’m slowly making my way through my RSS feed but needless to say I’m quite behind. How is everyone? Anything major happen while I was away that I should know about? I promise to come by your blogs soon and get caught up!

Where I've Been, Why I'm Back PLUS Pictures!

I have fantastic news for anyone who’s been lamenting as of late about my seriously scarce presence here in bloggy land. Anyone saying, “Geez, Jen, are you sure you blog alot, because you didn’t post anything between Wednesday and Monday. Also – if you are taking pictures everyday, how come your daybook was ALL TEXT? LAME.”

As you might be aware, my computer and I have been having a bit of a … nuclear war, you could say. Mostly regarding the internet but really so much more complicated than that. And we thought we’d figured it allllll out – we’re running Linux instead of OS X which has Dan doing happy dances around the living room and I’m using wired Internet instead of wireless which meant rearranging furniture for three hours but happily ending up with a layout that is so much much better than I would have guessed.

Except it still didn’t work. For a couple days, nothing really seemed resolved and everything was effected. Picasa was slowly losing it’s marbles and I’d long since given up hope of finding mine. I was researching the cost of a new computer. And then this morning Dan ran some new diagnostic doo dad and found out… IT WAS HIS FAULT. At least the last two days or so were. The wireless DID need to go bye bye and OS X wouldn’t have fared any better – it was just a small mistake in setting up the IP addresses – and once he fixed it. Everything magically transformed into awesome.

So now everything is working perfectly and I could technically maybe move back to OS X but I am so tired of moving files around and readjusting and unpacking and installing – it’s almost as exhausting as moving halfway across the country and you know what? Everything works. Why mess with that? So for now, I’m staying put on my little hacked out Linux running iMac and I’m just thrilled. So thrilled that I’m now going to end this terribly long ramble with several pictures of our recent day trip to Milwaukee because. I. can.

doing man stuff

This was the first display that he saw at the Children’s museum – all gears and motorcycle stuff and man grunting. One of many really awesome things he got to do there. The Milwaukee Children’s Museum is in a word terrific.

doing baby stuff

They even had a little “pre-walkers” area where BB was able to get out of her stroller and crawl about.

she is very pleased with herself

Which of course she loved.

one of these kids is not like the others

Outside the museum, MM decided to inspect this statue up close. From there we headed to our last destination, The Safe House. This place is just too cool. It’s a popular spy-theme restaurant that provides “Crafty Concoctions and Incredible Edibles to hungry agents on R & R.” The whole experience of getting into The Safe House, the meal, the ambiance – it’s just so terrific. If you are ever in Milwaukee, you really have to eat here.

agents : do not look here

This little spy hole just begs little agents (and bigger ones) to take a peek. But all you’re going to see is…

you might be horrified by what (fat) you see

Which would be useful if someone snuck up behind you.

and with one last sip our mission was complete

And my artsy shot of the day. So much fun. The next time we stop by, I might be tempted to wear a trench coat and sunglasses.

Aloha Friday: Road Tripping

It’s time for another Aloha Friday, the day that you take it easy and look forward to the weekend, in Hawaii and blog land anyway. As you should know by now, over at An Island Life, Kailani decided that on Fridays she would take it easy on posting and ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link at An Island Life’s blog. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Our latest little dream right now is to take a 3-4 week RV road trip down Highway 51 (it’s a big thing apparently) in about 5 years when the kids are older and my husband will be up for a 5 week sabbatical from work (that 5 weeks of paid time off is a pretty sweet perk). It runs from Wisconsin (us) to Louisiana (them?) and the nerd in me is drooling in anticipation. But we figure in the meantime we should probably do a few practice trips where the destination is less important than the trip. You know we want the trip to be a good time and not something out of an awful road trip of horrors movie. So…

I’m looking for your best road trip tips, suggestions or stories.

Any RV experience? Anyone here that’s traveled the illustrious Highway 51?

Everything About Wisconsin You Never Asked

When Dan first got an email from Dream Company’s recruiter, asking him to apply for the job he’ll be starting tomorrow morning, we were both kind of like, “That’s cool but why would we want to move to Wisconsin?” We were hesitant at the idea of moving far away (to be honest, I wasn’t even sure where Wisconsin was at this point) especially for a company we knew very little about. Still, in this job market it would be foolish not to look into any opportunity so Dan began researching Dream Company and just fell in love – the benefits this company offers are terrific and it’s a very fast-paced competitive environment, which is actually perfect for Dan. And they were interested enough to recruit him – more than we can say for anyone else – even now that we’ve arrived in Wisconsin, we’ve still really only heard from a very small handful of the many companies Dan applied to.

So we started researching Wisconsin after deciding that Dream Company was worth relocating for. First off, we figured out where the heck it was! As Wikipedia will tell you:

“Wisconsin (En-us-Wisconsin.ogg /wɪˈskɒnsɨn/ (help·info)) (French: Ouisconsin) is one of the fifty states in the United States of America, located in the north central part of the United States. It borders two of the five Great Lakes and four U.S. states (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota). Wisconsin’s capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee.”

Here it is on a map for my fellow geographically challenged readers:

Anyway, being the big huge nerd that I am, I wanted to share with you any little interesting thing I could find about Wisconsin, after a brief browse through it’s Wikipedia page. I’ve found a lot of random WI connections since this whole thing began – it’s amazing how you can go your whole life hearing next to nothing about something until it’s relevant, and then it’s everywhere. And then it’s your whole life. Okay, I’m rambling again – onto the probably boring to everyone else facts!

  • Now that I live here, you can all start calling me a Wisconsinite. I doubt if I’ll ever have an accent that will make you say, “Oh she’s probably from Wisconsin.” First because despite having lived on the West Coast, the East Coast and the South I’ve never had an accent to speak of – second, according to the man at the Budget rental dealer we went to for Dan’s interview a month back, Wisconsin is one of those states that seems largely void of accents – although you will hear a bit of a Canadian / Minnesota accent occasionally.
  • “The word Wisconsin has its origins in the name given to the Wisconsin River by one of the Algonquian speaking American Indian groups living in the region at the time of European contact. French explorer Jacques Marquette was the first European to reach the Wisconsin River and record its name, arriving in 1673 and calling the river Meskousing in his journal.This spelling was later corrupted to Ouisconsin by other French explorers, and over time this version became the French name for both the Wisconsin River and the surrounding lands. English speakers anglicized the spelling to its modern form when they began to arrive in greater numbers during the early 19th Century. The current spelling was made official by the legislature of Wisconsin Territory in 1845.”
  • Wisconsin is in the Central time zone. We moved here from the East Coast so it’s kind of weird, having been used to the Eastern Time Zone for the larger part of my life to suddenly be living an hour earlier. You know when you watch a tv show and it says it airs at 8pm / 7pm central – suddenly this applies to me. A lot of our shows now start at 7pm instead of 8pm and our last shows of the evening will end at 9pm instead of 10pm. I’m actually a big fan of this whole Central Time Zone thing because it’s given me an extra hour at night to read!
  • “In 1624, the Frenchman Jean Nicolet became the first European to explore what was to become Wisconsin. He founded the Green Bay colony. During the next 150 years, the area was settled primarily by French fur traders. France then transferred the territory to Britain in 1763. The United States acquired the Wisconsin territory after the Revolution in 1783, but it remained under de facto British control until the War of 1812. The nineteenth century saw settlement by “Yankees” (New Englanders and people from upstate New York), Cornish miners, and German, Scandinavian and Swiss settlers.”
  • “Wisconsin’s economy was originally based on farming, mining, and lumbering. Wisconsin’s topography of rolling glacial hills with rich (but rocky) soil coupled with unpredictable seasons favored dairy farming. Industrial centers sprung up along Lake Michigan and in the Fox Valley where there was easy access to raw materials (lumber, iron ore) and shipping ports, most notably at Milwaukee. After WWI Wisconsin became a major exporter of durable goods, with Milwaukee being known as the “tool box of the world.””
  • “In recent decades, service industries, especially medicine and education, have become dominant as heavy industry declined. Wisconsin is also noted for having a stable economy compared to most other states. This may be attributed to a diversified economy as well as a low net population growth.”
  • “The economy of Wisconsin is driven by manufacturing, agriculture, and health care. Although manufacturing accounts for a far greater part of the state’s income than farming, Wisconsin is often perceived as a farming state.”
  • “The varied landscape of Wisconsin makes the state a popular vacation destination for outdoor recreation. Winter events include skiing, ice fishing and snowmobile derbies. Wisconsin has many lakes of varied size; in fact Wisconsin contains 11,188 square miles of water, more than all but three other states (Alaska, Michigan and Florida). The distinctive Door Peninsula, which extends off the eastern coast of the state, contains one of the state’s most beautiful tourist destinations, Door County.”
  • “The highest temperature ever recorded in Wisconsin was in the Wisconsin Dells, on July 13, 1936, where it reached 114 °F (46 °C). The lowest temperature ever recorded in Wisconsin was in the village of Couderay, where it reached –55 °F (-48 °C) on both February 2 and February 4, 1996.” Overall Wisconsin’s weather is fairly similar to where we are from in Massachusetts – but it seems that when it gets hot, it gets a little bit hotter, and when it gets cold, it gets a little bit colder. At least, that’s what I gather from what I’ve heard and read. I’ll get back to you on the climate once I’ve lived in more than one week of it.
  • Wisconsin produces more dairy products than any other state in the United States except California, and leads the nation in cheese production. Wisconsin ranks second behind California in overall production of milk and butter, and it ranks third in per-capita milk production, behind Idaho and Vermont. Wisconsin ranks first in the production of corn for silage, cranberries, ginseng, and snap beans for processing.”
  • Seriously, no joke, the cheese in Wisconsin is amazingly delicious – I am a huge cheese lover so that is kind of like heaven for me. Even the generic store brand string cheeses in Wisconsin taste amazing because I’m pretty sure it’s made from Wisconsin cheese – or else I’m imagining it, but if so then my imagination is delicious and that’s also pretty cool.
  • “Some well-known food brands produced in Wisconsin include Oscar Mayer, Tombstone frozen pizza, Johnsonville brats, and Usinger’s sausage. Kraft Foods alone employs over 5,000 people in the state. Milwaukee is a major producer of beer and the site of the headquarters of Miller Brewing Company, the nation’s second-largest brewer. At one time, Schlitz, Blatz, and Pabst were cornerstone breweries in Milwaukee. Today, Milwaukee’s economy is more diverse with an emphasis on health care. In 2004, four of the city’s ten largest employers (including the top two) were part of the health care industry.”
  • There are no toll roads in Wisconsin; highway and road construction and maintenance is funded by motor fuel tax revenues.
  • “Wisconsin’s self-promotion as “America’s Dairyland” sometimes leads to a mistaken impression that it is an exclusively rural state. However, Wisconsin contains cities and towns of all sizes. Over 68% of Wisconsin residents live in urban areas, with the Greater Milwaukee area home to roughly one-third of the state’s population. With over 602,000 residents Milwaukee proper is the 22nd-largest city in the country. The string of cities along the western edge of Lake Michigan is generally considered to be an example of a megalopolis. Madison’s dual identity as state capital and college town gives it a cultural richness unusual in a city its size. With a population of around 220,000, Madison is also a very fast-growing city. Madison’s suburb, Middleton, was also ranked the “Best Place to Live in America” in 2007 by Money Magazine.”
  • “Public education in Wisconsin includes both the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System, headquartered in Madison, and the 16-campus Wisconsin Technical College System which coordinates with the University of Wisconsin. Notable private colleges and universities include Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Medical College of Wisconsin, Concordia University Wisconsin, Edgewood College, Beloit College, and Lawrence University, among others.”
  • “Wisconsin has more country music festivals than any other state,[citation needed] including Miller Lite Presents Country Fest, Bud Light Presents Country Jam USA, the Coors Hodag Country Festival, Porterfield Country Music Festival, Country Thunder USA in Twin Lakes, and the ever-popular Ford Presents Country USA. The state’s largest city, Milwaukee, also hosts “The World’s Largest Music Festival,” Summerfest, every year. This festival is held at the lake front Henry Maier Festival Park just south of downtown.”
  • “Wisconsin is represented by major league teams in three sports: football, baseball, and basketball. Lambeau Field, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin is home to the National Football League‘s Green Bay Packers. The Green Bay Packers are one of the most successful small-market professional sports franchises in the world and have won 12 NFL championships, including the first two AFL-NFL Championship games (Super Bowls I and II) and Super Bowl XXXI. The Milwaukee Brewers, the state’s major league baseball team, play in Miller Park in Milwaukee, the successor to Milwaukee County Stadium since 2001. In 1982, the Brewers won the American League Championship, marking their most successful season. The Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association play home games at the Bradley Center. The Bucks won the NBA Championship in 1971.”

Okay, I’ll stop. Have a great night!

Moving Diary (Days 3 and 4 – May 21st & 22nd)

Missed the first installment? Click here!

Day Three: Good Bye Brutal Traffic, Hello Wisconsin

We left Ohio at 9am Thursday morning, planning to have a nice easy day on the road and arrive in Wisconsin nice and early. For the most part, all that happened, but we were very happy we’d left so early when we got to Chicago, IL and their brutal traffic. I have no idea if the traffic we endured was normal or if there was a special event or accident happening, but it was pretty much stand still for what at least felt like hours. Luckily we also had the switch from Eastern to Central time to save us another hour off the trip.

That morning my dad and Dan switched cars, as one car has no AC and it was getting pretty hot – so I spent Thursday traveling with MM and my dad instead of Dan and MM – it was nice being able to spend a little quality time with my dad during the trip. We drove through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois that day before arriving in Wisconsin at a little after 4pm central time (5pm eastern).

We decided to drive to the apartment and fill out our paperwork / get our keys that night, rather than waiting for the morning. We got to go and see the actual apartment for the first time that night, which was pretty cool – it has a beautiful kitchen, at least compared to our old apartment and we were pretty pleased with what we saw, except for the rather musty smelling storage units in the basement. After checking out our new home, we got pizza at a little place right across from the apartment complex, which was delicious. There is also a chinese restaurant right next door to the pizza place, which is nice – having both things so close by and in easy walking distance. I also love that the apartment is right on a little suburban street, it makes taking family walks much easier having fairly slow streets with plenty of sidewalk and lots of area to explore. Right up the street is a hub of grocery stores, more restaurants, banks, preschools and more. I love how close by everything is.

We spent the night in a hotel paid for by Dream Company before meeting the moving company at the new apartment the next morning.

Day Four: Moving In

After having leftover pizza for breakfast, we headed to the new apartment to meet the moving company.

Dan picked up milk and donuts at the local grocery store (Copps – anybody heard of them?) to snack on during the move in. There is no Dunkin Donuts in Madison which is very strange, but not necessarily a bad thing – I couldn’t find any other similar “donut places” either. But there are plenty of coffee shops nearby and the donuts from Copps were delicious so on the few rare occasions where we might want them, we will be fine. Honestly we just don’t eat donuts very often.

Moving in seemed to take just as long as moving out – the movers worked for about four hours getting everything off the truck and inside – I was amazed at how much stuff we had, yet again – and got a little worried that everything wouldn’t fit, but our new place has lots of closet storage, etc. to make up for slightly smaller rooms and in the end, things fit perfectly fine. We had lunch at the pizza place again, ordering subs this time, which were fine but nowhere near as good as their pizza. That night we raided our dry food supply in the pantry and made spaghetti with a jar of bruschetta topping to stand in for spaghetti sauce. Definitely interesting. We definitely needed to go grocery shopping.

to be continued…

*update*

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