Madison Farmer’s Market

Day 3: Saturday 6/18/16
Madison Farmer’s Market

Naked bike ride!

This is one of the highest rated farmer’s markets in the US. So we’ve heard anyway. It was just incredible. A mass of humanity surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol building. Traffic only went one way: to the right. Fresh produce galore, incredible breads (Spicy Cheesy bread), political protesters, proselytizers, a naked bike ride (for real), and lots of green lawn just away from the action.

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I decided to take this opportunity to interview more people for a side project I’m working on. It is really nerve wracking¬†just walking up to strangers and asking them a fairly benign question. “Who are we the people? And what does that mean to you?” I try and find someone not on their phone, not in the middle of a bite, not talking to someone else. I want a diverse group demographically. And then, there’s the nerves. I interviewed about 8 people over the course of 30 minutes and called it quits.

Madison has a lot of cool shops and the capitol building is just beautiful and open to the public. We strolled down toward the University of Wisconsin and enjoyed the many establishments for brats and beer. We too decided to partake.

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Back in Mount Horeb, I went with Charity and the kids to get a Father’s Day present for Michael (who was out of town in Buffalo). The 2 adult to 4 kid ratio is actually quite difficult. One kid always seems to wander away (Max) and is doing something nice like holding the door open for all of the strangers. There was some discussion as to who had to hold whose hand, but in the end we got what we were looking for and picked up Indian food for dinner.

[ed: Nathan writing here…] Once the kids were in bed, Charity headed out by herself to get¬†some much needed grocery shopping (and kid-free time) done, leaving Amy and I to babysit. Which should have been really easy because the kids were in bed. Amy went upstairs to take a shower, and I sat down to read. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes later, Claire started crying. Immediately the rest of the kids are up and out of bed, checking on her. I go in to pick her up and try and comfort her, and tell the other kids to go back to bed, I’ll take care of her. But I really don’t know what I’m doing. And on top of that, Claire is apparently afraid of dudes. Well at least this dude. She settles down in my arms after a few minutes but then rears back and looks up and realizes that I’m holding her, and starts wailing again. This cycle continues for a bit, with me trying various things to get her to calm down, and the kids getting up again and trying to help out, especially Emily, who has a very nurturing spirit. I was just about to try and put her back down when Amy got downstairs and (thankfully) took over. I was worried about the older kids being up; Amy was relaxed about the rules and let them try and help calm Claire down. That tells you something about our personalities. Eventually the older kids went to sleep and Claire calmed down a bit, though she didn’t really settle down and go back to sleep until Charity got back. Trying to get 4 kids to go to sleep = impossible?

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[ed: back to Amy] Charity and I stayed up for another late night. It was fantastic.


Day 4: Sunday 6/19/16

We left Mount Horeb after breakfast, stopping at a few places along the cute main street on our way out from Charity’s to Kyle and Margo’s in Rockford, IL. A beautiful drive through rolling hills with fields of corn, farmhouses, barns, and occasional cute towns.

At the Stedman’s house we chilled out. We didn’t have any set plans: we played games, read books, napped, laughed a lot, tried fun sodas, and Nathan and Kyle waited on Margo and I hand and foot. More about our time with the Stedmans in the next post!

Mount Horeb with the McCarthy’s

Day 2: Friday 6/17/16
Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

I’m sitting 20 miles outside of Madison, Wisconsin. With my cousin’s beautiful family. Four vibrant and hearty kids. There was a vigil for Orlando in their little town tonight. Far away from Orlando, but this small gesture means a lot right now.

It’s good to be away. Mount Horeb is about an hour and a half from Rockford through picturesque farm country. We arrived last night shortly before dinner to much fanfair: welcome signs and a ton of excitement.

Today, Nate and I went on a nice bike ride with Jacob and Emily. Fun 10 year old twins. They have a really cool trail called the Military Ridge State Trail very close to their house. Climb up the hills from their neighborhood until you’re winded and then you’re just about on the gravel trail. We rode for about 20 minutes before turning around, through rolling hills and corn fields and views that looked like the default Microsoft Windows XP desktop background. The kids told us that was further than they had gone before. We turned back and made our way to The Grumpy Troll for lunch – fish fry Friday (a Wisconsin tradition) and cheese curds – then back to the house for naps. Well, naps for Amy and 10-month-old Claire.


A relaxing afternoon followed, and then we packed up a picnic lunch and headed to Governor Dodge State Park.

We had a nice hike down to the falls. It sure is a lot of work to keep up with 4 kids in the woods, even with a 3-adult to 4-kid ratio, and one of those kids strapped to Charity (Clarie). Jacob, and Max (who just turned 6), headed up a trail with a nice rock hangout. But it did look a little precarious; however, the boys made it down just fine. Some coaxing and reassuring were provided too.


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There is just something about being in nature and the woods in particular. Restful and yet so alive. Unfortunately, it is also alive with ticks. The next day one dropped off Max; he didn’t seem to mind though.

All of these kids have a ton of character and are just fun to be around.

Charity lived with my family when I was 10 and she was starting at the University of Minnesota at 17. She was one of the only people both Joel and I got along with and she also taught us the art of sarcasm. She was a really amazing big sister to us and would take Joel and I out for bagels and sometimes to a movie. So of course we stayed up late just talking about life. This time as grown ups. But my 10 year old self also was in heaven.