quick getaway

I took the kids for an overnight visit with my friend Stephanie, who currently lives in a very rural town in southwest Wisconsin. It's a lovely part of the country; in fact, here's a view from the side window of their house:

We left yesterday and returned this afternoon. Driving there is no picnic - lots of little county roads in places that aren't marked very well - so we met her partway in the small town of Blanchardville when she was done with work. Blanchardville is small enough not to have any stoplights but big enough for a café and public library. We went to Rivery Valley Trading Co, a little eclectic shop full of all kinds of fun stuff, the sort of shop that can only exist in a town like this. There was an antique sewing machine, shelves of used books, handmade pottery and hand knit hats, organic groceries (including a bucketful of Jerusalem artichokes which look like clods of dirt), and yarn (oh!) made from the fleece of sheep who happily graze on an organic farm just a few miles out of Blanchardville (this one). In fact, that sheep's owner, a tiny vivacious woman named Linda, was more than happy to share all kinds of information and stories about her sheep and how they take care of them. Unfortunately, the kids were getting bored, so I missed out on a lot of that conversation while I ran to get them snacks and keep them entertained while we looked around.

Once we got to Stephanie's place, the kids were in seventh heaven. She's staying at her parents' house for the time being, and it is just the sort of house you expect a retired couple with lots of grandchildren (there are 11, I think) to live in. They are kind, generous people who love having visitors, especially young visitors, and we felt at home right away. There are cats to watch and play peekaboo with. There are plenty of books to read. Also, there is a whole attic closet full of toys. I'm not sure what was more exciting for Daniel: the toys themselves or the fact that he could go in that closet, close the door, turn on the light, and go exploring all on his own. Blocks, trucks, marbles, games, stuffed animals, and the big hit of the evening: a plastic apparatus with balls to pound through holes in the top and run on a track to a tray on the bottom. Daniel took this picture of Anya playing with it:

Before coming back to Madison today, we visited Stephanie's cousin on her farm. P raises a few different breeds of sheep plus a wide variety of poultry. I was hoping the kids would enjoy watching the animals, but by the time we got there they were getting tired and ready to go home. We visited for a little bit, took some pictures, and headed back home.

Oh, I'm sorry...did you want to see some pictures of Daniel and Anya? Here are a few:

I really am grateful that I can take the time to make these trips with Daniel and Anya. Since I don't have a paying job outside the home (I refuse to say "I'm not working"), and since they are not in school full-time yet, I have the luxury of time, and I'm trying take advantage. On bad days, I call it "staving off boredom one day at a time." On better days, I simply consider this part of their early education: seeing different parts of the country, visiting different kinds of farms, and bonding with the people who are important in my life and interested their learning and development.


Deborah said…
You're doing a great job of enjoying time with your kids. You do so many fun things -- wish I could tag along! But, with two in college, I guess I should focus on bringing home a paycheck!

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