Category Archives: Lifestyle

Home is Minnesconsin

In several of my recent blog posts, I’ve talked about living in “Minnesconsin”. I just popped it in there on my blog posts since we moved back to Wisconsin from the Denver metro. No real explanation at all.

So this is a blog post to explain it. It’s important to me to share with you all the love I have for living where I do. Because “Minnesconsin” is my favorite place to live. My happy place.

I think people should know about this beautiful area of the U.S. and all that it has to offer.

Do you love where you are live like I do?

From the time we got engaged and moved in together (1989), until 2022, Hubs and I (and our kids many of these times), have moved 10 times. We have lived in 5 states in that span of time: Minnesota, Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

This fall, my BFF and her husband came for a visit. This was the first time they had seen our house. Their visit reinforced for me why it was such a good decision for us to settle in this area: our friends only had to drive a bit over 2 hours to get here. We haven’t lived this close to these dear friends of ours since I was pregnant with my second kid and we all lived in the Twin Cities metro. Many, many moons ago.

Minnesconsin is a very particular geographic location in Wisconsin (or Minnesota for that matter) that is a mere 35 to 60 minute drive to Minnesota (or Wisconsin). It’s like the best of both worlds to me.

If you’re interested, you can click here for the urban dictionary’s definition of Minnesconsin. It provides a bit more detail.

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have my heart. You see, I was born and raised in Minnesota but spent many years of my adult life living in Wisconsin. Minnesconsin is where I was supposed to land all this time. Hubs feels the same way; that’s why we’re so happy here. It feels good and right.

Before we left Wisconsin for Colorado (2016), my friend Stacey (also from Minnesota originally), gave me a framed piece of art with the shape of the state of Wisconsin on it with the word “home” written on it. When I first saw it, I said “oh, cool, that’s the state of Colorado” (got a big old D in college geography, folks), then we all had a big laugh. At the time, I wasn’t thinking that we’d end up back in the state, at least not any time soon. I was hyper-focused on moving to and living in Colorado at the time.

Now we’re Minnesota Vikings fans in Cheesehead Country. We’re Wisconsin Supper Club fans from “way up in da northland”. We’re people from the “land of 10,000 lakes” who love the country/lake life in Sconny.

Our house is just a hair over an hour drive to the Minneapolis airport. Just over two hours to Duluth, near where I was born and raised. Yet, in Wisconsin near my in-laws, and now my daughter and grandson.

Minnesconsin is also a great place to visit, especially in the summer. There are small town festivals going on most weekends. Lots of lakes to boat and fish on and places to rent boats and other water toys. Beautiful trails to hike on and great little hole-in-the-wall bar/restaurants as well as the aforementioned supper clubs to dine in.

If you like snow and are not adverse to very cold temps, Minnesconsin is a fun spot to visit in the winter. About 20 minutes from our house, there’s a skiing and snow-tubing place. There are snow and ice-sculpting festivals happening on the weekends in the winter months around these parts. And, of course, opportunities for ice fishing on many of our lakes.

I’m looking forward to exploring more of Minnesconsin as time goes on as well as sharing tales on my exploits with you!

***Header image courtesy of https://untappd.com/b/hop-and-barrel-brewing-minnesconsin-lager/2402108 and Hop and Barrel Brewing

Simple Snapshots

With the new life I’m living now, I embrace the acronym K.I.S.S. It’s quite the versatile “mantronym” for me personally as I mentioned long ago, but these days it really is just “Keep It Simple Sister”.

So, this post is an example of that for me. A simple blog post where I share pictures I’ve taken since our big move to Minnesconsin last summer. Ones I haven’t shared in this space before.

2022 Christmas window display
Cardinal perched on a tree on my Mom’s Birthday 2022
“My Toy!” Radar Christmastime 2022
Little flower garden Summer 2022
Mr. Pig at the County Fair snoozing away Summer 2022
Grandson doing his favorite thing Summer 2022
Taxidermied Critters Display Small town Wisconsin Bar Summer 2022
Selfie taken at Hotel Boulderado March 2022
Art in a drawer at a Rocky Mountain cabin Feb of 2022

8 of Many

It is just incredible to me that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day. Time has just been chugging along, hasn’t it?

Just to catch you up, because I know lately I’ve been so hit and miss with this blogging thing: I’ve been watching my 8 year old grandson at my house Mon-Fri for several weeks now. Yes, he is not in school and yes, he should be. And yes he will be, eventually.

It’s a long and complicated story that I have shared small bits of on this platform. Bottom line, my grandson has behavioral issues that thus far the school faculty have not been able to successfully manage. Kiddo is now enrolled in a specialized day program for kids like him. While soon he’ll be attending in person (with the goal of him attending regular school in the near future), for now he is doing 3 hours each morning of virtual learning and treatment through this program.

And I am the enforcer. Maybe hall monitor is a better way to put it.

Anyway, I feel like I needed to just get that out there because it’s my current situation; an unexpected challenge. I need no sympathy here. I’m focused on the good, because, simply put, that is what’s helpful to me. To all of us-don’t you think?

What is good for you all right now? What, or who, is it that immediately comes to mind when you read that question? That for what you have geniune gratitude?

Here’s 8 (of many) things I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving:

  1. The time I’m getting to spend in the company of my grandson. Time I didn’t see coming. Listening to him tell jokes and try out different accents. Watching him sled down the little hill in our yard after a recent snowfall.
  2. My dear and thoughtful Hubs, who thoroughly cleaned the refrigerator last weekend without being asked while I was out of town bonding with my sister and 6 of our badass female cousins.
  3. Bonus kids: my daughter’s kind and loving boyfriend and his 3 year old cutie pie.
  4. Our awesome house here in Minnesconsin. The layout, the vibe, the possibilities. The feeling that we will live here for the rest of our lives.
  5. My kids. The maturity I’m seeing as they make their way out of their 20’s. The bonds we’ve developed over time with each other.
  6. Being unemployed. The free time that gives me to shower this house with some love and holiday cheer.
  7. Friendships: the ones we have in our new neighborhood and our dear old friends who we now live closer to and thus get to spend time with more frequently.
  8. Being able to host Thanksgiving at our new house for the in-laws and our daughter, grandson, and bonus kids.

With that, I wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and/or friends and stuffing yourselves with all your favorite foods.

To Do Lists and the Kid

What do you all think about “to do” lists? Do you swear by them? Does the thought of making one stress you out?

I think these are interesting questions. I imagine answers being very subjective; dependant on how you were raised, how you’re wired, the generation you’re in, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I have been making them for as long as I can remember, at work and at home. Lately, I’ve been making “to do” lists for the entire week vs. daily. Having all the tasks written out in black and white knowing I have the whole week to get it all done makes it easier to manage. And I’m not a big procrastinator, so that helps.

Back when we were in Colorado and our daughter and grandson were living with us, one day the kid decided to create himself a “to doo” list.

Of course I kept it and may even frame it someday. I feel like that’s the kind of Grandma I am. Here it is:

Now, some of what he wrote is figure-outable. Some of it, not so much. He’s 8, folks.

So, there’s 9 tasks on his list. Let me translate it for you:

  1. Make You Tube video (the kid loves to do this, though “hates” having his picture taken. Go figure.).
  2. Watch news (I think he put this down because Hubs and I always turn on MSNBC for Ari Melber weeknights at 5 p.m.).
  3. Do something to get money (I appreciate his industrious intentions).
  4. Play with Radar (awwww…).
Radar is living his best life here in Minnesconsin Sept. of 22

5. Sit and talk (love that he put this in there).

6. Eat dinner (his favorite then was chicken nuggets and mac ‘n cheese, now he’s more of a grilled cheese kinda guy).

7. Get ready for bed (so soon? there was usually some horsing around the house between 6 and 7).

8. Cuddle Radar (again…awww…yes I will be framing this).

9. Go to bed.

The most important thing on my “to do” list today is to attend an IEP meeting for him with my daughter at his new school. It’s a long and complicated story, but suffice it to say the kid is struggling, emotionally and socially. He’s been through some major changes in his young life and as a neurodivergent, sensitive, and inquisitive kid it’s been hard for him. For all of us here who love him as well.

I’m praying that between our combined love for the kid and my social work background, there will be a good outcome from this meeting.

As Whitney Houston sang in “The Greatest Love of All”: “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”.

***Header image courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson and https://www.momtastic.com/parenting/541137-40-amazing-quotes-parenthood/

It’s Wednesday and I’m in Love

Hubs and I are in the new house and mostly settled, at long last.

This is me, coming up for air.

This is also me, who has made a self-promise to not overthink the writing of this post.

So.

I am in love with our new house. I’m deeply into the “nesting” stage of this process and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

I’m going to avoid the temptation to regale you with the saga that was working with our moving company, and the relocation services company that I overpaid to hire them. I say this not only because I’m more dedicated than ever to find and celebrate the good, but this saga began at the end of April and ended, thankfully, at the end of August. And I’m so over it.

Let me just tell you about the “nesting” process I am currently basking in.

It’s reminiscent of 30 odd years ago when I was about to give birth to my first baby. It’s this burst of energy coupled with hopes for the future and it compels me to organize, decorate, and bake.

I’ve been shopping a lot on Wayfair and Etsy, in search of just the right things to craft this joint into our dream home. To get the aesthetic right. It’s fun to get packages most every day; it’s like Christmas for me!

I feel so fricking blessed, lucky, and deep-in-my-bones happy right now.

In the spirit of efficiency with your time and mine, here’s a few pics of the house at the moment. I’m determined to keep things simple these days. Plus, I have zucchini muffins to make using the zucchinis in our garden today.

The Space I’m In

It’s Sunday morning and I’m in the camper (aka our current home) with Hubs and Radar.

Radar is sitting across from me at the dinette, thoroughly engrossed in licking his nether regions. He’s on the bench seat that I keep covered in a beach towel for his comfort each night.

The summer is almost over.

The summer of 2022 has been a little wild for me. Certainly strange. There’s been some surprises (of which I am generally a fan), good and bad in unequal measure.

What’s your take on life’s surprises?

This summer has also been invigorating: the fresh and clean breezes, frequent deer sightings, the birdsongs. Stimulating but also grounding for me. Radar making new friends.

Radar with the neighborhood pooch, Maya

It’s been a memorable season of our married life for sure. Living in a 21 foot camper for more than 2 months has been interesting, to say the least. We’ve joked that moving about the camper simultaneously is like playing “Twister”.

This upending of our lives to move back to Wisconsin has made me more acutely aware of a slew of things; namely the things, ideals, and people I will die on a hill for. It’s solidified my priorities. Given me more clarity.

I can now see more clearly how I want to live. I’m devoted to learning and growing, from my creative writing habit to gardening to grandparenting. My MIL has offered to teach me how to can, using the vegetables in our new-to-us garden. And I’m eager to get back to learning how to play my ukelele.

I think I just seriously aged myself in that last paragraph.

Whatever.

Maybe I will learn how to play and sing along to this lovely medley:

Isn’t this fantastic?

We are now less than 2 weeks out from moving into our sweet new house.

I’m aiming to do more of the enjoying of the present than wishing the time away.

But. It’s. Hard.

Because my head is swimming with ideas about what furniture is going to go where in the new house. The color schemes in each room. Where that beautiful new art piece with the lillies is going to be hung.

I’m missing our youngest, who has remained in Colorado. Though I am a bit less worried now about how they are going to fare without us a half hour drive away than I was when we arrived in Minnesconsin land in June. They now work at a place where they get to provide direct support to a very marginalized population. I am incredibly proud of them and hopeful they will persist, as I’m certain that workplace is better with them in their presence. And vice-versa.

While his mom’s at work, I’m taking care of our 8 year old grandson for several days between now and when we move into our house. 3rd grade in a new school starts right after we move in.

I think it’s fair to say that as a grandma, I’m a work in progress. I continue to learn as I go. But I’m up for it. The kid is so worth it. He’s been through a lot. So many changes in a short period of time.

My grandson is very bright, but also quite oppositional and reactionary. He’s also very funny, but sometimes gets carried away with it physically and ends up accidentally hurting himself or wrecking something. Suffice it to say, he requires a lot of energy from me.

Note to self: schedule a massage, STAT!

As you can see, I’m also a work in progress when it comes to self-compassion. I suspect many of you are too.

I have probably said this before in one of my blog posts, but I know for sure that writing these personal essays and getting them out there in the world is, for me, part of my self-compassion practice.

Anyone else feel this way about blogging?

Let me leave you, dear patient readers, with this creative rendition of a classic, feel-good Beatles song. Because life goes on. And as a tik-toker I came upon recently said “we’re not here for a long time, but we’re here for a good time”.

Isn’t this kid something else?

House number 8

The afternoon of the day we toured what was our eighth (and final) home, I was watching my 8 year old grandson. And the kid was pouncing on my last nerve. I was at my wit’s end, between his shenanigans and the wounds I was still nursing after losing out on house number 7. The least annoying thing the kid did that afternoon, if you can believe it, was to repeat “are we there yet” over and over in a sing-songy voice in the backseat for no less than 15 minutes while I was driving to meet up with Hubs to check out this house.

I actually got to such a frazzled state that day that I barked to Hubs on our way to house number 8 something to the effect of “let’s just go back to Colorado”. A ridiculous thing to say, indeed. But we all say ridiculous things when we are at the end of our mental ropes, right?

The house has deeded access to a lake. It’s own dock. A beautiful flower garden out front that attracts butterflies. A patch of blueberries and strawberries. 3 larger vegetable gardens. Then there’s a small deck, a cozy sun room and beautiful flooring. There’s both an attached and a detached garage (aka man cave/party room). Hubs and I are thrilled that our offer was accepted.

It was just what we were looking for this whole time. Well-priced, easy access to water for pontooning and fishing, not too far away from the in laws and our daughter and grandson. And not a fixer upper (unlike the previous house we bid on).

The current owners of House number 8 offered to sell us much of the furniture. We, of course, were not looking at the furniture when we first saw the house. So, the owners allowed us to come over one night last week to take a look at all they were trying to unload so we could make some decisions.

On the dining room table was a note from them to us. In this note, they congratulated us on our new home and said they think we will love it. They also said they had picked veggies from the garden for us and we could just grab them from the fridge. They signed the note and supplied us with their personal cell phone numbers, stating to give them a call with any questions re: the house.

As Hubs has a green thumb and I’m eager to learn his ways, we were so appreciative that the owners also included a hand-written diagram of the gardens.

Wow, right? So thoughtful and kind. We came home with green beans, zucchini, kale, and cucumbers; as well as a damn good feeling about moving to this house.

I’m so glad we moved here, to “Minnesconsin”, (we are a very short drive to Minnesota, which delights me no end).

Thanks for your well wishes on us finding “the one”, friends.

Time for a Musical Interlude

The following was written by me on 7/18/22.

Hubs and I put an offer in on a house. It’s a fixer upper but it’s on a river. Waterfront, baby!

The offer hasn’t been accepted yet, and I’m all kinds of anxious about it. I need to slow my roll. Be patient and not get ahead of myself by imagining how we’re going to fix the place up.

Because for all I know, it won’t end up being “the one”. House-hunting is a strange experience in this life. While I appreciate the fact that Hubs and I have the ability to be homeowners in this country, it requires some serious grit. It’s torturous.

This is why, my friends, you are getting a post about the wonderful distraction of music from me today. I need to focus on something other than this house hunting bullshit. If you’re a regular reading of my ramblings who appreciates music even half as much as me, you might like a break such as this too.

Update: Still 7/18, just much later on. Some other dope offered cash to the seller. I imagine one of those wealthy investors. They must have seen all the potential that we did in that house. Back to it, I guess.

Now back to the point of this post: which is A) introducing you all to a unique and talented artist, B) musing about the earworms in my head, and C) sharing song related anecdotes.

The one musical group on a loop in my head since this summer began is ABBA. It’s probably on account of us having the 70’s channel on Sirius XM on regular rotation while we are tooling around Wisconsin in the Tacoma.

“Knowing me, Knowing You” is especially embedded in my brain.

Something I realized listening to the 70’s channel and regular old radio this summer is just how many simply gorgeous songs came from that era and beyond. Like “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean, “Sail On” by the Commodores, and “Oh Girl” by the “Chi-Lites”. Just sweet, lovely songs that get forgotten over time.

In other music-in-my-head news, the song “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by that corny crooner (“cornoner”?) Michael Buble, is a major earworm for me these days.

Clearly, this song is in reference to our house-hunting journey. Maybe the song will get out of my head once we actually close on the home we purchase here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin.

There is a fantastic radio station, The Current, which is owned by MPR and based out of the Twin Cities. Hubs and I had sort of forgotten about this station when we were still in Colorado, despite being able to stream it. We were listening to it in our camper the other night and a song came on that really caught my attention. It’s by an artist I don’t think I’d ever heard of: Orville Peck.

Of course I had to google him out of curiosity and learned he is an artist like “Sia”, as he keeps his face covered when in public . I think it’s sort of odd, but yet cool. The mystery of it intrigues me, though his voice intrigues me much more.

I think the song “Unconditional (Look Out Kid)” by Arcade Fire is awesome. It feels to me like a love song from Gen X to Millenials and Gen Z. I would love to be in the audience at one of their concerts, singing along with the “Do do do do do do do do do do do” part. They are playing in Minneapolist this fall, so maybe I’ll get that chance.

Our daughter and grandson recently moved to a nearby town where the writer of Daughter’s “go to” Karaoke song grew up. I love “coincidences” like that, don’t you? Below is a video of that song.

The biggest item on our wish list, besides a place to live that isn’t mobile, is a pontoon. I’m not much of a country music fan (especially the newer stuff), but sometimes there’s just a song that I love despite myself. We all have those, right?

Please tell me: what are yours? Or how about your current playlist and/or earworm in your head these days?

House Hunting Amidst the Chaos

I think we Americans are at the very start of a revolution.

All of us are pissed about something. And rightfully so.

I’m beyond pissed that Roe v. Wade is now part of our past. I’m pissed that a woman in a black robe agreed it should be. And that the rest of them that agreed with her are all men. I’m pissed that SCOTUS has devolved into an entity that we can no longer trust.

Others are mad pissed about the price of gas or increased inflation. It’s all they can talk about to anyone who they think might listen.

Some are pissed that Trump isn’t behind bars already where he fucking belongs.

I am looking forward to a beautiful blue tsunami in November.

Amidst all of this, life carries on for all of us.

Me and mine are in a good place, here in Wisconsin in the summertime.

Hubs and I, along with our furry pal Radar, are living in our camper in his parents yard, while we are house-hunting here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin. Our daughter and grandson are bunking inside the house, until they move into their new apartment next week.

It’s been interesting, living in such a small space. I’m thankful that it’s temporary, but having less stuff is kinda nice. It’s simple. Less to clean. Less to manage. I actually appreciate the challenge of having to organize things in this space. It really brings out my resourcefulness. It turns out that the shower in our camper can double as a closet, thanks to a simple, inexpensive shower rod (and the ability we have to use the shower indoors).

I regret all that time I spent on my computer, househunting, in the months leading up to this period of time. As if even one of the houses that piqued my interest was still going to be for sale once we got here, sorted ourselves out, and actually had the time, energy, and resources to begin the bona fide hunt.

It’s not as much fun as I remembered it being, this house hunting. It’s aggravating. It’s frought with disappointment. Like what we thought was the absolute perfect house on the Apple River, which turned out to be too rural for high speed internet (a must for Hubs to work from home). Like the house on a lake that looked spectacular online but had the weirdest layout I’ve ever seen (kitchen and dining room in the basement and oddly shaped unused space on the main level).

Hubs and I are grateful, however, to be here. We are grateful that our townhome in Colorado sold quickly and for more than the listing price. And we are determined to find our next house here. We’ve agreed that our backup plan, should we not find the right house by the end of the summer, will be to purchase a less expensive home in town, not on the waterfront, to live in for a couple of years while we work and save to buy a piece of waterfront property and build the house we really want.

Hopefully we won’t have to go that route. I mean, who wants to tack on another move after this big move? Not me. But we’ll do it if it means not spending the winter living in our camper.

We just gotta take things in stride.

Ch Ch Ch Changes, Part Two

My first ever post on this blog was entitled “Ch Ch Ch Changes”.

I wrote it as a way to introduce myself. To share the major life transitions that led me to where I was in that particular moment of my life: unemployed and living the “empty-nester” life with Hubs in a new state.

As of April 1st of this year I again am unemployed (by choice). Because of all the things that need to be done. Addressed. Thrown out or given away. Packed.

Our move back to Wisconsin is slated for late May/early June. Between now and then, my mental and physical energy will be split between reviewing the past, savoring the present, and planning for the future.

I, along with my family, are in the throes of transition. I am a bit freaked out and searching for the balance in all of this.

Reviewing the past will include playing the “should it stay or should it go” game with all of our worldly possessions and the reminiscing this will bring about. There are countless pictures and assorted memorabilia to go through. You can no doubt expect blog posts to come out of this.

This is a good thing, because I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve all but ignored my blog for the last couple of months. Case in point: my 5 year blogging anniversary came and went with zero fanfare.

The present: practicing self-compassion and actual mindfulness, which I now realize I’m only beginning to grasp after using it as a buzzword willy nilly in the recent past. Making memories with my daughter and grandson, as these two will not be living with us indefinitely. Come summer 2022, they will most likely be living in their own place again. Spending quality time with Kid #2, who intends to remain in Colorado while the rest of us are moving to Wisconsin.

The future: staying on top of the housing market in the area of Wisconsin we plan to settle in. Finding the house that will suit us best. One on the waterfront, large enough to host friends and family on the regular. Familiarizing myself, via the internet, with the area and getting a feel for the job market there.

Time is of the essence for me right now. I aim to use it wisely so I can avoid being overwhelmed.