Sunday, November 28, 2010

Life in the Midwest

So, a question that I get asked frequently is, "it's a lot different here compared to Washington, isn't it?" On an every day level, it's really similar to living in the most rural part of Washington that I can imagine (Badger Pocket comes to mind, but I haven't actually been there). There are, however, a few key differences. These things don't come up in every day life, but always strike me a strange when I am reminded of it.

  • Drinking. Wisconsin has one of the highest drinking rates in the nation, and as such, they seem pretty   relaxed about it. Washington has some strict liquor laws, so it's a whole different world out here! On our first night out for dinner, we called around for the best prices on Fish Fry Friday (more on that later) and asked if we could bring Sora to the place we chose. We walked in, and by Washington standards, we were in a straight up bar. Where kids under 21 would NEVER be allowed. Apparently, there is no such law here. Any one of any age can be in any type of bar. I'm not sure that you even have to be accompanied by someone of age. Also, if you bring your kid to a bar, they can DRINK with you!! I think they have to be 18, but I'm pretty sure the 18 year old age limit is relatively new (before that, it was any age). Crazy!
  • Fish Fry Friday. Washington isn't a very religious state as a whole, and Seattle specifically is not very religious. In fact, it seemed strange to meet people my age that actually went to church. Here in Wisconsin, especially in the "northwoods", church is much more common. Every eating establishment around has a Fish Fry Friday special, and many also have a Broasted (or Roasted) Chicken on Saturday or Sunday. You don't have to be religious to partake, and we've really liked the one we went to.
  • Diners. Now, obviously things are more expensive in Seattle, but I've never been to diners that are so cheap! We went to breakfast this morning, and I ordered breakfast for myself and Sora (two separate meals) for $4.15. Kyle had the most expensive breakfast at $5.50. With 2 coffees, our total was less than $13! That is so crazy cheap!
  • Milk. Now, Kyle and I have never been milk people, but I feel like it was relatively rare to meet adults back home who actually drank milk on a regular occasion. Milk is for coffee and cereal and baking. Not just drinking! Here, we are the super weird ones for not drinking (or having Sora drink) milk. We literally use 1/2 gallon per week, and we've met others who use 10 gallons per week (with a 5 person family, but still!).
Those are the biggest things we've noticed. There are some minor lexicon differences (bubbler for water fountain, and supper for lunch), but nothing major. There are some things that are crazy cheap here (like real estate), but overall the cost of living isn't ridiculously lower. It's fun to discover the nuances that make up the mid west! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our winter neighborhood!

Well with the snow that just fell I thought a would share a look at the beauty of Camp U-Nah-Li-Ya in the winter. This place just keeps getting cooler and cooler. Literally it is freaking cold. 
 That is frozen water although this day it was beginning to thaw. As I post this it is completely frozen solid.

 One of the classrooms we teach winter classes in.

Sora is a huge fan of snow balls all though her mittens do not actually allow her to make them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

AD: the one

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A meal fit for a King

It is very freeing to only have to cook for two adults and a toddler. For one I know what we like and don't have to worry about making things someone will not want. So I got to cook this thanksgiving meal with a bit of adventure mixed in with tradition. It came out amazingly. I really hit a home run for Sora with sweet potato biscuits and a turkey roulade (pictured above before it was carved) stuffed with sausage and sage and home made bread.  She loved everything and was a great eater.
Here is the whole amazing feast all together on our kitchen bar. We had sausage stuffing, sweet potato biscuits, bacon and caramelized onion green beans, cranberry sauce and gravy with our turkey. Mmmmm!
Rolling a turkey breast around the stuffing was fun new technique. It cooked perfectly and fast compared to a whole turkey.

For dessert we had a pumpkin cake roll. The filling was a cream cheese filling and wow it was wonderful. 

First Annual Thanksgiving Walk

I have been waiting and waiting for snow, and I finally got to introduce Sora to it this morning on our first annual thanksgiving day walk! Kyle and I are excited to start some of our own family traditions now that we're so far from family and now that Sora's old enough to kind of participate in things.

We went on a walk around camp this morning to see the slushy lake and to see all the snow.

Kyle and I took turns pulling Sora around on the sled and she loved it! We had a hard time getting her to come inside after we got too cold. We also were on the look out for the perfect Christmas tree. The evergreens at camp are a little on the Charlie Brown side, but I'm too cheap to buy one, so there will just be fewer needles to sweep up!

More on our other Thanksgiving Day traditions later!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Rainy Sunday

We are patiently waiting for the snow to fall. Today, we spent the day inside while it rained instead. We practiced keeping busy indoors, which will be a huge necessity for us this winter.

Sora is demanding "daulk" a lot lately. Kyle painted her table with chalk paint, but only recently have we actually bought chalk and used it. She loves it! She likes to have us draw food on it which she pretends to eat. She also likes to "lean" it with a wet cloth when we're all done. She demands it's "mommy's turn" to clean, and I get the stuff she leaves behind. Yes, she is super demanding lately. It's been exhausting, but very fun to see her personality blossom.
She also loves cooking! Here we are making "super cookies" from the book Feed Me, I'm Yours that my mom used when I was a baby. They're healthy-ish, so aren't as delicious as what I'm used to, but Sora doesn't know better and thinks they're "yum yum" and wants them "again".
Finally, to help unwind after a long day inside, here Kyle and Sora are reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish in front of the raging fire.
Overall, it was a good day indoors. Now if only we could get her to sleep better at night and get rid of this obnoxious noise coming from the basement, we'll all be well rested and have even more fun tomorrow!
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We had the first official snow of the season earlier this week. It was gone by morning, and didn't really pile up more than this:
 The lack of snow is really putting a cramp in my style! I want to ski and skate and sled and drink hot cocoa by my fire. Okay, I know I will have plenty of time for all of that, and it all probably sounds a lot more fun than it really will be.  What I really want is to get a good picture of Sora in the snow so I could finish my Christmas cards and other various Christmas gifts! I wanted to be done with all of the presents by Thanksgiving!  It looks like I will need to wait a while. I should be grateful, because once it finally comes, I hear it will stay for a VERY long time. I already have big plans of setting up an oasis in the basement, complete with a Hawaiian themed lounge area and a race track for Sora's toys.

Speaking of Sora, here's what she's been up to lately:

Yes, her doll is driving the car. It seems a little dangerous, but she likes to live life on the edge. She's been a TON of fun lately, as always. Her "needs" (mostly wants) are getting more important to her and we are having a lot of ups and downs throughout the day dealing with mini-tantrums and exiting times. My mom gave her a book for her stickers and now she is obsessed with putting stickers every where! She is also a huge fan of helping me bake. She is saying a new word literally every day, and she understands almost everything we say! For example, if we ask her to go in her room and get a bib or pants or coat or socks, she almost always comes back with the right thing. And when I say it's time to cook, she tries to drag over her cooking stool. She is a funny little girl with a lot of personality. I'm lucky that I get to see so much of it.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Ad: Shutterfly Promo

This year, with our new Wisconsin-sized budget, I was contemplating cutting down our Christmas Card list. Luckily for most of our readers, I am an avid fan of Four Ring Circus, and found out about a great deal on Shutterfly cards, so the list is back on!

I had already decided on giving some gifts from Shutterfly this year, but don't want to give away my entire secretive plan. I'll just say that I am still loving the calendar I got last year from my in-laws with funny pictures of Sora. We also bought a personalized photo mug before we left WA for Mimi, the woman who watched Sora while we were at work, and she comments on it every time we talk to her!

But, back to the cards! Thanks to Jeanette (who is definitely staying on my Christmas card list!) and Shutterfly, not only will I be able to send out cards this year, I will get to spend hours picking the perfect picture and design. My mom always sent out a lengthy letter each year and spent hours perfecting each line. Although I don't have that much time, and with one kid, there isn't quite that much to say, I do love to send a good Christmas card. I've always loved a year in review type card, and this year we have a lot to review! This is an example, but it will take a while to find the perfect one!

Look forward to seeing what we chose (and seeing if one of the Shutterfly gifts is for you!) later this holiday season.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Moby

At the suggestion of one of our fans, I created a Moby wrap for Sora to wear her baby doll in. I actually had this piece of camo just laying around. You might remember this as the sash from Kyle's Baby K'Tan, featured in this post. Kyle hasn't used it in over a year, but the sash was the perfect length for Sora's first babywearing experience!

Now she can multitask like any experienced babywearer! Here she is practicing her snow shoveling:

And playing with her favorite "toy" in the back yard. Oh, the treasures of Sora's that you would find in this stump...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nature Girl Part 4

Sora has really embraced being a girl of the woods. She loves trees and sticks and rocks. We have been having really great weather as the Fall seems not willing to end. It has given us a chance to explore the woods around our home. Enjoy these highlights. 

On a side note the crew at Team McPherson would like to say Dave Niehaus you will be missed. The Seattle sports world will never be the same without you. I am truly sad that Sora will not be able to grow up listening to the amazing summer voice os Seattle. RIP Dave. 


It's a good thing it was free...

Kyle had a training in the "big city" yesterday, so Sora and I thought it would be a great idea to explore the zoo. It's super cheap, but it happens to be free on Wednesday afternoons, which was even better! 

We started off with the monkeys, which were a big hit. After very little coaxing, Sora happily sat down mesmerized by the monkeys. I think she related to them.

That was about as exciting as it got. Next, we went to the giraffes. There was a platform where you could actually pet the giraffes' heads! Their heads are huge, which terrified Sora. So, I had to forgo what may have been my one and only chance to pet a giraffe.

Sora did tolerate the lions, even though they roared loudly (it may have been the thick glass separating them), and also enjoyed all the birds and the armadillo. Predictably, the giant tortoise and the petting zoo full of sheep, llamas, goats, and reindeer were also frightening.

She, of course, enjoyed the playground.
I'm not sure why there is a dinosaur on the playground instead of a more current animal...

The zoo experience ended with a massive hunger-induced tantrum which involved laying on the ground kicking and screaming (of course, as far as possible from the exit of the zoo). There was a no-food policy which I ignored (I wasn't going all the way back to the car to put back Sora's cheese stick!). I promised myself to keep it in the diaper bag. All was fine until Sora started exploring the bag and found her treats. Being told no, especially when she was already hungry, did not go over well. Lesson learned.

Thanks zoo. We'll be back for another free lesson on animal love (which felt like torture for Sora... hopefully next time she'll be less afraid of at least 1 animal!) on another free Wednesday afternoon.