Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Loving summer

A few nights ago we had a tornado warning. Eric was taking call from home and got paged at about 9 p.m.  He braved the storm and headed out, only to get a flat tire halfway to the hospital. ("It looks like a dinosaur talon took a swipe at my sidewall," he said.) So he gets out in the pouring rain and changes his tire, which only makes him slightly later than expected. What makes him slightly more later than expected is that he takes an underground tunnel to walk to the ER before he realizes that the hospital side of the tunnel locks at night. And of course the side he came in locks after he gets in. So the poor guy is drenched, stuck in a tunnel, and wondering where this is all leading his career. He eventually finds an ancient call box and tells security that he's going to exit using an obscure, alarmed emergency door. The  door leads him to an even more obscure atrium, which has a fire escape staircase, which leads him outside the hospital. He goes into the ER, finds his patient, treats him, and returns home at three in the morning. 
     Some of Eric's residency stories make my job seem like a birthday party! I guess it kind-of is like a birthday party: it's not the kind where you rent out Jump-o-Rama and they bring the pizza and cake and decorations and clean up when you're done--it's more like a homemade one where you're working the entire time, but it's still plenty fun and something that you would do again. This is what the party looked like this week.   

A friend brought us to a delightful splash pad, where the kids spent a happy couple hours:
We were also kindly introduced to an indoor gymnastics center filled with kid-friendly equipment:
We've been digging the (heated!) pool near our home, plus the library programs and parks. We've played baseball in the backyard and rode bikes/wagons/police cars around the neighborhood:
And of course there are the normal things like mixing "potions" and trapping brothers in laundry baskets and writing letters to baseball players:
I guess that "birthday party" is a poor analogy--it looks more like a summer camp. I should think of a funny camp name for myself and puff paint it on a khaki hat.

Even better than all that was a magical Friday night with Eric, where we went to the Dane County Fair!
(Unfortunately the turkey legs tasted like salty ham, but the delish cotton candy, funnel cakes, and fresh lemonade made up for it. Eric was proud of me for not stressing about the cost of all these things, which, by the way, is absolutely criminal. I guess it's just once a year, right?)
Notice how the kids' smiles in the first ferris wheel picture (taken before the ride) look a little plastic, but the bottom pictures (taken after the rides) are all authentic. They really had a good time.

In general, we're all having a good time. Even Eric is, despite being overworked and a little bewildered. And even I am, despite the same reasons.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here we are

We're in Wisconsin now. Wisconsin! The neighbors, the Relief Society, and the mosquitoes came to meet us with immediate enthusiasm. If I feel a burst of energy sometime, I will backdate and tell about the adventuresome last month in transition here. But for now, just know that we're loving the home, the neighborhood, and the city. Some unexpected benefits to life in Madison:

1. There is a grocery store here called Woodman's, and it is every discerning shopper's dream. Think of any grocery item you like, and they have it--in every variety imaginable. I went there to get some brats for the Fourth of July and there were no less than thirty different choices. Six aisles of sandwich bread! A forty-foot–long aisle of yogurts! It is wonderful and cheap (and slightly ghetto) and five minutes away.
2. Our master bedroom has a view of the wooded green hills surrounding our neighborhood. We drive past a dozen corn fields on the way to church. I go running around fields of wildflowers and forested areas. And ever since finding two wild turkeys in our yard, the kids and I have been "turkey hunting" every evening. We ride bikes to the roosting spots and make turkey calls and throw bread near the birds until they run away.
3. The second day we were here we bought a mattress. Three teenage guys went out of their way to help us secure it on the van. When it blew off a half mile down the road, two men stopped and helped us reorganize. Dozens of other experiences could exemplify the friendliness here. Wisconsinites are just pleasant, nice people.
4. I was a little worried that we would have trouble finding things to do in Madison. But cultural and community events here are varied, quality, and often free. Just today we attended the best children's theater production I've ever seen: Z Puppets Rosenchronz presented "A La Carte: In a Fool's Kitchen" with such warmth, humor, and creative genius that it impressed attendees of all ages. It was free, at the public library. 
5. Speaking of attractions, have you ever heard of Wisconsin Dells? The central-Wisconsin city is a conglomerate of super-sized water parks, theme parks, theme hotels, and roadside animal statues, right in the middle of nowhere. We went there yesterday and knocked ourselves out at Mount Olympus, "a land of myth" with "156 acres of adventure." Here are some photos:

In this last picture is a new friend, who invited me and the kids to go up to the Dells with her and two other families. The women offered generous help with the children, including little snacks and the photos. The next time I want to do something good, I will invite someone new to come somewhere fun with me. There is nothing as relieving as a friend!

In summary, we are glad to be here and feel optimistic about Wisconsin life. Eric is taking his residency on like a champ, although it's certainly stretching for him (and for all of us, of course). But life is good and we have much to be grateful for.