It's here!

We have been without kitchen countertops since we moved in, and today they arrived! What a treat to come home to. Along with the countertop came the sink, the cooktop, and we can finally use the dishwasher. A fully functioning kitchen – woohoo! Time to clean it up, put things away and start cooking! Good thing I have a three-day weekend ahead of me...


Christmas weekend

We had a very, merry holiday weekend. We spent a lot of time at my mom's house, baking cookies and stuffing ourselves with Christmas ham. Walter watched movies with Grandpa and Uncle Eddie. Nate showed off his new beard – this lack of bathroom sinks has caused him to stop shaving. I think it's looks nice on him. And since he's been chopping tons of wood to keep our fire nice and hot, all the lumberjack jokes are kind of fitting. :) Walter continued his Christmas tradition of wearing a sweater, knit by his great-great Auntie for Nate some 30 years ago. It was nice to relax and spend some time with family. We hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend too!
Making cookies
Watching movies
Christmas day


Christmas Eve Eve

We're a little behind on our countdown, but the tree is up, the stockings are hung, and Santa was notified of the change of address. This house is ready for Christmas!


We're home!

It has been a long, complicated move, but we are finally in! We battled a snow storm, steep, icy driveways and nasty head colds. We had a refrigerator that didn’t fit into it’s designated spot and a water heater that broke down the first time we tried to use it. But we got through it all and, though the house still isn’t quite finished, it’s in a livable state and we’re happy to be here. Walter loves his new room and his big new bed. He’s adjusting to the new place just fine – way better than I had expected. Nate and I are adjusting fine, too. We are getting things unpacked and organized as much as we can while we wait for countertops to be delivered and bathroom sinks to be installed. It’s still a huge mess, so I don’t have any house photos to share yet. But I’ll give you a tiny peek at our kitchen, behind this adorable boy, slurping up his cereal milk.
Slurping the cereal milk
We could never have gotten anything done without the help of our wonderful families. We leaned on them for food, shelter, strength, babysitting, and hot showers. We can’t thank you enough for helping us with this move!


Snow and traditions

We had the first snow of the season last weekend! Walter and I spent most of our time inside, snuggling and watching the snow fall, but Nate got us outside to play for a little while. It wasn't good snow for snowman making, but Walter loved it anyway. 
Inside on a snow day
First snow 2010
Also, click here to read about a sweet holiday tradition that I think we just might start doing this year. (And check out Ashley's blog, Under the Sycamore – a very nice family/photography/craft blog.) I'd love to hear about other holiday traditions. Leave a comment and tell me yours!

The posts here will be few and far between for a week or two. The new house is almost ready and we're hoping to be moving this weekend! I hope my computer won't be boxed up for too long...


December 1st

The countdown to Christmas has begun! We are counting down with this adorable Advent calendar – a gift from Gramma. 
Advent calendar
The cute little knit bags are stuffed with Walter's extra Halloween candy. (It was the only thing that kept me from eating it all!) Since we are packing everything up for the move, this is the only holiday decoration we have up. It's a cheery thing to see next to all the bare shelves and moving boxes. I think I've got the perfect spot to hang it in the new house, too!


Walter was here

I love finding evidence of Walter's play around the house, so I've decided to start a little collection of things I find that make me smile. I'll share them as I find them.
Ducks in a row
Kitchen circus


All aboard!

After stuffing ourselves with turkey on Thanksgiving, (Thanks, Mom. It was really yummy!) we headed up to Green Bay to take a ride on The Polar Express. The National Railroad Museum hosts the event, which is a reading of the story and a train ride to the North Pole (wink, wink) to see Santa. Walter had been waiting for this for weeks and he was not disappointed. He got to talk to conductors and drink hot chocolate. He squirmed through the story, waiting to hear the "All aboard!" that would let him on the train. Then he snuggled into his grandparents' laps for the ride to the North Pole. The conductors passed out chocolates and bells to all the kids. The story tells us that if you can hear the bell, that means you believe in Santa. Every one of us heard that bell ring. 
Polar Express
Polar Express
Polar Express
Polar Express



We've reached the why phase. Everything we say to Walter gets the response, "Why?" It's cute - for a while. I quickly resort to, "Because." And sometimes even, "Because I said so." But I think we might be able to put this why phase to work for us. For instance, the next time we are on the phone with a certain home improvement store's customer service department and they are telling us they forgot to order our bathroom cabinets, I think we'll put Walter on the phone to ask them, "Why?" Over, and over, and over again. 


Mission impossible?

The goal: to paint the entire interior of our house in two days.
An ambitious goal, but I was optimistic. We had assembled a team of painters and a pile of supplies. We were ready! And I'm confident we could have done it! But, the house wasn't quite ready for us. There were a few rooms that needed some work before we could paint, and tracking down the people we needed to do that work was a challenge. We did what we could and we got most of the interior of the house painted. What we got done looks great and there's only a small amount left to do. Mission almost accomplished!
Thanks, team, for all your help. We could not have done it without you! 
Jim paints
Erin paints
Rick paints


On a roll

We've been at this for 2 days. 
Soft denim
Full report by the end of the weekend. Maybe...


That soup

On a night that's filled with grocery shopping, picking out paint colors, and a Badger basketball game, this soup is perfect for dinner. It's fast, it's easy, it's thick and hearty, and it warms you up for the cold walk to the Kohl Center. I pulled this recipe from a magazine a couple of years ago, quickly committed it to memory and tossed it away. I have no idea what it's called, so I'm going to call it "That Soup."
That Soup
1 lb bulk sausage, any variety
1 package frozen squash, thawed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar salsa, any variety
Cook sausage until brown and crumbly. Add squash, beans and salsa. Heat through.
You can play with the flavors of sausage and salsa to suit your tastes.
See? It's that easy. It even leaves you enough time to write a blog post.


Windows, walls and work

Just a quick house update today. Is there anything else? It seems as though all we talk about or think about is the house. But we're getting closer to finished and moving in is only a month away!
We now have windows and walls. We'll be painting by the end of the week. Here are two photos – the same two views you've seen before
During - the walls are up!
During - the walls are up!
Now I can really imagine what the finished house will look like. I can't wait to get some paint on those walls. Nate and I spent today installing tile in Walter's bathroom. I'm exhausted, but it felt great for me to finally be able to get in and do some work – and add a little decoration to the dusty construction mess. One step closer to finished! And now I'm going to collapse into bed.


Bucky's house

We had a nice little break from house stuff tonight. We took Walter to a Badger men's basketball game at the Kohl Center – or "Bucky's house," as Walter appropriately calls it. We only stayed for the first half, since we were already cutting into bedtime, but we got to see plenty of Bucky, cheerleaders, the dance team, the band... Oh, and there were basketball players too. The Badgers had a huge lead when we left. I think it's safe to say they won. And I'm happy to report that Walter still thinks the giant W stands for Walter


Our new outside

The visits to the new house are getting more frequent. And so are the visits to the home improvement stores. (We should get some sort of prize for the most trips to Menards ever!) We are all looking forward to the end of this project and to settling in to our new home. We're already getting more familiar with the outdoor spaces. Walter loves to walk on the paths through the woods – "patheses," he calls them. Molly is even more excited about all the new places to explore. Every visit makes me fall more in love with the place. All the hassle of these couple of months will be so worth it!
Midmorning frost
Molly likes the new house too


That was fast!

Just a few days ago the outbuilding was torn down. And now, from an impossibly tiny pile of materials, this new outbuilding is already built!
New outbuilding
I'm completely shocked at how fast that happened. Who knew an entire building could be built so quickly? This building will be used as a workshop and as storage. The part I'm excited about is this:
Garden plans
We will be taking parts of the kitchen we tore out of the house and using them for a canning kitchen right there next to the garden! It will keep all that dirt and canning mess out of the house. I can't wait to use it. 
And, since photos of a building really aren't very exciting, here are a few more shots from my last visit to the property.
Walter and Grampa
Front gate


Halloween recap

Oh wow! Trick-or-treating is the most fun thing ever! This was Walter's first year collecting candy and we had a blast. Our first stops were at the grandparents' houses for treats and photos. We bumped into Walter's fairy-princess cousins who kindly posed for pictures. 
Halloween 2010
Then it was off to the Lee's neighborhood. Kyla is a pro at trick-or-treating and was happy to show Walter and Finn how it was done.
Halloween 2010
Halloween 2010
It was so fun seeing Walter's cow ears flopping in the wind as he ran from house to house. We were all exhausted by the end of the night and Walter's bucket was too heavy for him to carry. How are we ever going to get through all that candy? I'm sure we'll find a way...
Halloween 2010
Click on any photo to see a few more on Flickr.



Big changes are happening at the new house these days. The inside still looks pretty much the same, but a tremendous amount of work has been done. Walls are framed, heating and electric are all in place, and the siding has started to go up. Here are photos from today. Just a few visible changes from what I posted before
The really big change today is that this old, critter-infested, falling-down, out building:
Outbuilding before
Now looks like this:
Outbuilding - gone!
A new out building will be going up in it's place – the construction of that starts on Monday.
Walter was thrilled with today's work. Not only did he get to watch diggers working right there in his yard, but he got to sit in one too! For a two-year-old boy, this was the BEST DAY EVER!
Watching the big trucks from a big truck


Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Nate decided to turn our pumpkin carving into a contest and he let Walter be the judge. I won! Woohoo! Mine's the one on the right. I think I won him over with the eyebrows (which he requested).
I would have photographed them outside, but the candles would never have stood up to this wind! It's even too much for our wind-loving boy. It knocked him right over on the way to the mailbox yesterday!


More sewing

All that costume sewing made me want to spend a little more time in my sewing room. It's one of my favorite rooms in this house. It's got great, natural light and plenty of space to store all my stuff. And, boy-oh-boy, do I have a lot of stuff! I started packing it up and, well, let's just say I shouldn't need to buy fabric anytime soon. While we are still living in this house, I might as well use my nice space and try to make a dent in my fabric stash. New pajamas for Walter seemed like a good place to start. Flannel monsters on the bottom and a colorful 90 minute shirt on top. Cozy for sleeping and comfy for dancing in the kitchen the next morning.
Pajama Dancing
Pajama Dancing
Pajama Dancing


Halloween preview

The Fitchburg Community Center had a Halloween party last night, so we gave Walter's costume a trial run. He told us for weeks and weeks that he wanted to be a pig for Halloween. I took him to the fabric store and we were picking out the perfect shade of pink when he spotted the cow fabric. His mind changed instantly. I checked and double checked and triple checked – did he really want to be a cow? Yes! So, a cow he is. Although he was often mistaken for a dalmatian and one weird old guy thought he was a princess. (Huh?) The horns and his mooing set them all straight. I think he's ready for the real deal.
Cute little cow


A pumpkin-y weekend

Grandma Bredel took us to pick pumpkins on Saturday. Kyla, Finn and Jeremy joined us too. It was really windy.
But we had a great time. There was even a tractor to play on! I think that tractor was even more exciting than last weekend's fire trucks.
In other pumpkin news, I cut a nice orange one from the garden today. We roasted it, pureed it and it will soon be turned into pumpkin pie and other pumpkin goodies. And a little bonus that I had forgotten about – toasted pumpkin seeds! Perfect for munching on while writing a pumpkin-themed post...



In case you didn't know, little boys like to touch everything they see. This makes a trip to Target especially difficult, now that Walter refuses to sit in a shopping cart. Nate's solution is to give our little monkey 2 bananas (one for each hand) as soon as we walk in the door. By the end of the shopping trip, we get to buy 2 very bruised bananas which sit on the counter until they are overripe, because no one wants to eat a very bruised banana. But this isn't a bad thing! This gives us an excuse to make banana bread, using my Grandma Martens' recipe. Nope, it's not a bad thing at all.
Gram's banana bread
Gram's Banana Bread
1/3 cup shortening (I use butter instead. It's just as good.)
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mashed bananas (2-3)
Beat shortening until creamy and glossy, or 2 minutes at medium speed. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until thick and pale yellow in color. Sift dry ingredients; add alternately with bananas, blending thoroughly after each addition. Grease bottom only of loaf pan. Turn batter into pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let bread cool 20-30 minutes in pan, then turn onto rack.