Girl Power

Greetings from a perfect Saturday afternoon…..

I woke up this morning with a spring in my step and was driven to complete one of our many many yard projects.

You know it is going to be an interesting day when by 10 am I had already been to the hardware store three times……Sigh…..

The hubby has a big big cooking class that he is getting ready for so I knew I had to tap into the kiddo resources to get the project done.  The boy was off doing his own thing so it was time for some GIRL POWER.

I called the girl at least 72 times before I got home so she could have all of the tools out and waiting and finally we got started.

We have wanted to fence in our garden a bit differently as our current setup, while very effective at keeping out the chickens, made weeding/planting absolute back breaking work.


The girl was an awesome partner. We broke out the maul, some power tools and donned our new leather work gloves.

By lunchtime…we were done!

nadia fence

And now we can garden a bit easier…..

fenceLet the garden season begin already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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It’s Pronounced Sewarro

Greetings as the Wolowikranch has returned from what can only be called the most needed and wonderful vacation we have had in a long time. Poor hubby had to remain in WI to cook food for the people….ah but 3/4 of us flew the coop to the land of sunshine and warmth…otherwise know as lovely Arizona.

Go get a cup of coffee (or a beer….no judgement here) and join me for an epic post with lots and lots of pictures.

Travel days are now known as ‘hurry up and wait days’. The poor boy was so darn excited to get there and would just get so deflated when he realized how much time is takes to actually arriving into Arizona.



However, once we did finally get there…oh truly don’t disappoint. It has been so long since we have seen the sun and felt it’s warmth on our faces that we just wanted to run around in it a bit.

My parents (southern WI G&G) now call themselves snowbirds and as soon as the cars pull out from Christmas, they are packing their bags for sunny AZ. They reside in a lovely community called Fountain Hills, so of course  our first stop was to the famous fountain.


It is truly beautiful….but all of us were really really really wanting to hop in the pool.


The boy would quite possibly swim every day of his life if he could manage it.

The next morning we went out for a nice relaxing breakfast before a full day of pool floating.

This was our view from our outdoors table at breakfast.

In case it is hard to tell….those are mountains and Saguaro (yes, pronounced Sawarro) cactus. We don’t see many of those in WI and I just can’t tell you how incredibly lovely the views are wherever you go in AZ. I just never got tired of seeing those huge cactus…they are just so very cool!


And then back to the pool…where this is all you see while floating……

Ahhhhh Arizona


Wednesday we took a bit of a drive up to Sedona. Before we had left on the trip, when I mentioned that we were headed to AZ almost everyone I spoke with asked me if we were going to Sedona. After the 4th time, I began to ask why they wanted us to go there. “Oh Sedona is just beautiful, you will love it.” Oh my, were they ever right.

The drive from Phoenix to Sedona takes you through quite a change in scenery. You start at 1,100 feet and climb to 4,500 feet in a 2 hour drive. Somewhere along the way, the plant life shifts and the mountains start to look different.

This is at a rest stop about half way there



The Saguaros do not grow in high elevation and the air temps start to go down. We left 90 degree Phoenix and arrived in sunny 75 degree Sedona…



OMG just look at that picture. It is my favorite…just so glorious!

After a quick lunch we headed over to the famous Pink Jeep tours.


Oh my, what an experience. We all cannot express how incredibly bumpy the ride was.

Bumpy in a very very fun way….


The size rocks we went over was just amazing and boy did we laugh. (OK most everyone laughed at me since I was in the bumpiest spot and apparently resembled a lifesized bobble head)

Oh but the views…the views were just so spectacular

Ahhh Arizona……..


It was really a unbelievable way to spend an afternoon.

We returned that evening exhausted but oh so thrilled with our day.

After a good night’s rest it was time for the kiddos to try their hand at horse back riding…a first for both (if you don’t count the kind that go round and round and the zoo…which we don’t)


Here is the view of where they got to ride the trails:

Ahhhh Arizona……


I mean come on…what an experience!



These cowboys were the real deal and they didn’t take any guff from no city slickers. (One did tell the boy to ride ‘er like you stole ‘er)

Upon return the boy hopped off his horse and declared he was coming back again the next day. Needless to say…they both loved every minute of it.

The 90 minutes they were gone gave Papa and me enough time to go fishing in one of his favorite spots. (lots of fishing….zero catching….but gosh the view is lovely)


And once we picked up the kids we brought them back so they could do some swimming.

I mean when do you get to swim next to a cactus in WI?


And then we had a lovely picnic


And then we rounded out the day by returning to the pool. Yes…time for relaxation was the name of the game!


The next day we had a fairly lazy morning and then we went out to a place for what I can only describe as one of the coolest places I have been.

It felt like it was kind of an after thought…like “oh, we’re going here to dinner so let’s stop at the bell place.” “The bell place” doesn’t even begin to describe how awesome this place is.

The studio is called Soleri and you can read all about the artist Paolo here. (Seriously…read about him…he is amazing) In a nutshell the man was a true visionary. Not only with his craft of making bells, but with his ideas pertaining to society and community. Needless to say, Arcosanti is on the top of the list for our next trip.











There is not a good way to describe this place other than Soleri built all of these structures on a plot of land nestled right in a neighborhood. Art students come up to learn the metal and ceramic techniques that Soleri devised and his bells hand everywhere for you to seek and find your favorite. The boy picked out ours and it hangs now on our beloved deck as a reminder of this great place.

That night we headed into Old Scottsdale for some yummy authentic mexican and then we went bumming


Our final weekend can be described in 2 words…cousins and swimming!

The California cousins drove in (well..their parents too) and we spent the weekend swimming and enjoying Easter.


Palm trees sure offer some great hiding places


And at 9 and 11…the thrill of the hunt has not diminished even a tiny bit



Ahhhhh Arizona….how we love thee. Thanks for showing us all your glory…and for leaving still plenty to do next time!

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Our 15 Minutes

So last year I did a post about our family’s involvement volunteering with Meals on Wheels..and little did I know that would be our most popular blog post.

So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I received a call from Independent Living asking if our family would be interested in sharing our experience on a radio program.

Wow! Were we interested!

The kiddos and I headed over to Midwest Family Broadcast Station where we met with the Independent Living volunteer coordinator as well as the host of the radio program, Carol Koby. The focus of the show was on senior nutrition and Meals on Wheels March for Meals campaign.


We had a great time and the kids really stole the show.

In case you missed us on All About Living on AM 1550 last week Saturday, click here to the program, and then click on the skinny gray box below the picture of the two chefs. Our segment starts about 30 minutes in.


Thanks to Carol for being the most gracious and lovely host. What a wonderful experience!

Stay tuned as we take the Wolowikranch on the road…next week we report from a much warmer climate!

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Things that make a childhood

I think every family has one month a year that seems to house the most birthdays. Our family’s is March. While no one on the Ranch has a bday in March, our extended family has taken over the month and one must try and stay one step ahead with getting gifts and cards in the mail.

This past weekend we tried something a bit different. We hosted just one of our nephews, E, who turned the big 7 last week. We decided that maybe if we channel all our energy into just one kiddo, perhaps we will fair better…and not be soooo exhausted on Sunday.

Well, we got 50% of that at least…..we were all exhaustamundo last night…but what a fantastic weekend we had!

Our kiddos and E had no school on Friday so we picked him up a day early to get the party started. The hubby took first shift and he and the boys tried to go ice fishing, but alas it was a pretty big jump from shore to ice as the edges are all thawed. So…off they went to the playground and the library.

That night was special bday dinner number one followed by a movie selected by E. (Night at the Museum 3….was just ok…but we did get to see the return of Matthew Crowley from Downton…as Sir Lancelot…which was weird…and unsettling…that this was the movie he made a debut it)

Saturday was another lovely day so off the boys went in search of ice fishing….

….and home they came empty handed…though at least they did get out on the ice and give it a valiant effort.

Then it was Auntie’s turn…so off we went to downtown Madison where there was lots going on. (Can you tell I am the one that remembers to take the pictures??)

We had to park and walk and I really had the kiddos guessing where we were headed. Upon realizing it was the Children’s Museum, I thought the boy was going to have a coronary. He was whooping and shouting and just so darn excited. He then proceeded to tell his cousin that the Children’s Museum is one of the ‘greatest things that made up his childhood’. Oh man, I had no idea so I was glad I picked the jackpot of places to go.

I did explain to E that we had taken he and his brother several years ago and did he remember? He replied, ‘No Auntie, I don’t have a very good memory from when I was little’. Oh they were just so funny.

Here are the 3 kiddos in 2011:


And here they are in 2015:


Apparently we need to stop feeding these kids….


Oh we had a good time indeed. Then we decided to walk up to the square to see what fun things we could find. Upon hitting the corner, the boy declared that he knew exactly where we were and could we go to the Veteran’s Museum which was just a short walk away. “Mom, it’s free and it is sooooo cool!” (He had just been on a field trip with school). Far be it from me to say no so off we went.


Here is what I can tell you….the boy remembers EVERY SINGLE THING the tour guide told them on the trip. EVERY-SINGLE-THING! So boy did WE get quite the tour from him. I cannot explain how excited he was…particularly that everything he showed us was “REAL!!!”  MOM……that cannon over there…It’s REAL! (He would EXCLAIM!)


Nothing, however, could prepare us for his ‘absolute favorite room…I mean mom this is why I love Madison….you just can’t believe what is in here!’ (At which point a few strangers also followed us to see what all the hubub was about) It was this:


To quote the boy “Mom, that’s a REAL chopper from Vietnam”. I have also now learned that to a 7 year old and 9 year old boy…..a museum dedicated to Veterans is truly the coolest thing EVER!

The last stop was to the downtown Madison library. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the newly re-done library….get on down there. It is just lovely and has so many great things to check out.

I actually got to go check out the garden section while the kids busied themselves with art projects.


Some of us may have contemplated our previous decision that we did not require a nap.


Oh it was a perfect weekend for us to enjoy with a 7 year boy indeed!

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The Buzz

Can you hear it?? That lovely buzz of spring?

We feel it at the Ranch….and it is hard to contain all our ideas without exploding.

The hubby equated it to feeling like we have just woken up from hibernation and I can’t agree more. It has been a long winter but we are realizing surviving winter only helps us appreciate our love of spring. And the boost of energy that comes from seeing that glowing orb in the sky on a regular basis….along with temps higher that 2 are pretty awesome as well. That being said, we have also hit the season of mud. Oh glorious sink your feet 4 inches into the ground mud. I mean our yard is M-U-D-D-Y!!!!!!!!!!!!

This past weekend the girl and I started over 200 seeds. I started conservatively ordering seeds this winter (and boy, is that hard to keep under control) and limited our supply from mainly Seed Savers and Fedco. Both are treasure troves of interesting and enticing heirloom and organic varieties, and they kept this gal’s spirit up during the darkness of winter. Oh the possibilities….

We haven’t started many seeds at the ranch as we just don’t have a good place to do it. Our basement is CHILLY and we would have to invest in some warming pads, but then there is also this very inquisitive cat to contain.

So what got me excited was I brought some geranium plants to winter at my work and they have just done so beautifully…that all of a sudden it hit me! I can start seeds at work!

I pulled in my favorite facilities dude and implored could I please put in a few grow lamps and he was happy to oblige (side note…we seriously have the greatest facilities dude EVER at my work!).

Here is what we look like 5 days in:





It gonna be a GREAT spring!

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These things happen in 3’s

So here is the thing about knitting that is both strange, upsetting, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time.

Knitting is an entire leap of faith.

You have be very trusting as a knitter as well as remain entirely open to the distinct possibility that your time and materials may completely backfire on you….

You have to allow yourself to swear like a sailor ever so often. However when things get out of hand you must heed your mother’s advice and walk away from said project…or put it in the naughty corner for awhile…until the swearing is curbed….and you decide you want to look at that project again.

This leads me to projects 1, 2, and 3….all of which have been very very naughty.

Project #1 started well over a year ago when I found this yarn that I just loved. The color was right, the weight was just perfect for the pattern… off I went happily knitting a sweater for myself.

The project went well, and everything seemed great….until I tried it on….and I was swimming in knitted horribleness. It was WAAAAAAAAY too big in the weirdest spot….under my armpits (hmmmmm that isn’t really where I need extra space thank goodness).

So I put the sweater in the blankety blank naughty corner for all of the summer so I could think about what to do.

Then I ripped it all out and started a different sweater……

And about 1/4 of the way in I realized I hated it….

Blankety Blank

So out we ripped again….

Then I started magic number 3….which as luck would have it is my most favorite thing I have knitted this winter and I wear it all the time!


Project number 2 has to deal with felting.

Felting, as a general rule, is not something knitters hope to achieve as many times it happens accidentally….like your favorite sweater  tossed haphazardly into a hot washer and comes out as Barbie wear.

California sissy put in a request for a new pair of slippers for her birthday. I had knit her a pair several years ago which she wore with wild abandon and had happily worn them out. (Believe it or not, this makes knitters very very happy. To hear someone has used something so much until it plum wore out is a sign of love and affection.)

So off I started on these slippers, which are now referred to as those “blasted blankety blank %^$# slippers”.

The premise is you knit these gargantuan slippers and then you wash them in hot water until they magically felt to the correct size.


What actually happened is I used some blankety blank yarn that I received from a co-worker and the top of the slipper felted at a completely different rate than the bottom. The bottom resembled a hotdog, the top was large enough for a yeti.

Blankety blank….

So I started over again

And I proceeded to knit the wrong blankety blank size…so they were still too big. (on the plus side I do now have one slipper done for myself….the down side is I would have to knit another one of these blankety blank slippers and right now I never want to see them again)



I finally knit the right size (kind of…one felted up slightly larger than the other) and handed them off to my sissy. Hopefully it is many many years before I need to re-visit that project again.

So this brings me to project #3…..otherwise known as the blankety blank monstrosity of a prayer shawl.

So first it started with this blanket that I knit for my parents last year. I ran out of blankety blank yarn when I was knitting it, so I had to order more. Then when I was done, I had a ton leftover.

So I decided it was the perfect yarn to knit a prayer shawl as it is very soft and squishy as well as very very washable.

And then I decided I was a pattern writer extraordinaire and threw caution to the wind and casted on my project.

In retrospect this was a very very very bad idea.

I decided I wanted to knit the long ways from end to end for a little something different so I casted on 300 stitches….which was about 150 stitches too many…though I didn’t realize that until yesterday.

When it took me over an hour to get one row done, I should have known this was going to be a mistake of epic proportions.

But alas I just kept at it. Then I changed directions to try and make it better….it just directionally shifted the blankety blankness of it all.

This project has stewed in the naughty corner off and on since July. I finally decided enough was enough I just needed to finish it for our shawl meeting later this month.

And then I ran out of blankety blank yarn AGAIN! So I had to order MORE!

This horrible horrible project came off my needles yesterday and the hubby and I had a good laugh over it…as it is just so weird and long we can’t even believe it. The girl said she liked and and could she have it…but alas it is destined for someone at a shelter. (Please note I have creatively edited the picture so you cannot see why this is so weird, but let’s just say one end of this sucker looks like an arrow with a point…when it should be square)

IMG_0942The law and physics of knitting continue to confound and amaze me.

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Love, Auntie and Uncle

Greetings to all from what can only be called a jam packed weekend.  I slid into Monday grasping the largest cup of coffee the world could find me.

I have lots to report on but first I need to have a public service announcement. This is something that I think every blogger posts about at some point and I think it is my turn.

Through the magic of blogging one can create a life that appears from outside to be pretty darn wonderful.  One that may leave a reader rolling their eyes and thinking, ‘cripes, doesn’t anything ever go wrong?’

I can assure you with all the confidence I can muster that things do indeed go very very wrong at the ole Wolowik ranch. Appliances break, kids fight, parents lose their cool, dusting is but a memory and the cat box mostly goes un-scooped. We found ourselves in a rut only remembering the bad things that happened to us that we forgot the good. And that dear reader is when the blog was born. It is so great that we are able to share our family’s doings with a wide audience (and by wide, I mean like 5 of you), but really the true reason behind it was so that we as a family could focus on the good…cause there is a lot more of that than the bad (well, most days at least).

Now….that commences our public service announcement.

And now through the magic of blogging, let me tell you about our 98% perfect weekend.

Here’s the thing. The hubby and I LOVE being an auntie and a uncle. So much so, that it honestly caught us a bit by surprise. We have our own kids and we love them to pieces, but we were completely overwhelmed with the love we feel to my sissy’s kiddos.

When California sissy had her boys, it came at a time when our kids had moved onto ‘big kiddo’ status as they were already potty trained and into pre-school/kindergarten. We had decided two was more than enough for us, but that didn’t stop the love of caring for a bambino. What? A diaper needs to be changed? I’m on it! Bath time you say? You got it! They don’t want to be put down….No problem! Those two baby boys were some of the cutest and most fun babies to be around and we just love them to pieces.

Then Yoga sissy brought us two more nephews and as a bonus- they live much closer to us, and our hearts just melted the first time we met them. They too filled the hole of little kid snuggles and really exciting bathtimes! Then she added the most adorable niece EVER and we were just done for…all of us…absolutely at her beckon call…done

As an added bonus, we really try to have the boys out to our house for their ‘birthday weekend of fun’. It all starts with a phone call. The boys get to decide the menu, the cake as well as what we are doing that weekend. Sometimes things are kept simple (Auntie, can we just stay home and play?) and sometimes things are a bit more specific (Auntie, I would like sausage AND bacon AND pancakes for dinner)

So here in a nutshell are all the activities we crammed into 28 hours:

First up, sledding! We just got a bunch of snow dumped on us and Saturday was remarkably warm. This equated to a perfect afternoon to sled on our favorite local hill.

13Next up, two boys played for HOURS in the backyard creating a one of a kind fort.

11Perhaps a nap was was taken al fresco (just kidding)


Little guy and myself decided we were cold, so a marathon of Scooby Doo was up next.


Then Uncle declared it was time to make dinner, so in the bday boy went to assist in the preparation. Yup….we needed to make sausage AND bacon (and pancakes of course)





photo 1Uncle declared him a great assistant and bday boy declared it the perfect dinner!

photo 2

Did I mention bacon AND sausage AND pancakes were mandated?

Then of course a round of singing followed by trick candles (hi-lar-i-ous!)

IMG_0916Then it is now tradition to take out every sleeping bag in the house so we can all watch a movie together. Then we tumbled into bed and not a peep was heard…….

….yeah…ummmmm…until 5 AM the next day…..sigh….the extra bonus of little boys is their inability to sleep in. There is just too much excitement to possibly roll over and go back to sleep!

So by 7:30, they were out the door on their way to catching some fish and perhaps some more sledding.


Birthday boy caught the first fish. Uncle was so darn proud as he caught it ALL by himself. Uncle no sooner walked away and when he turned around this guy had just flopped the fish onto the ice. Definitely a keeper too!

6Then his brother followed with one all on his own as well.  All in all about a dozen fish came home and we had what can only be called the best breakfast EVER. Blue gills and fresh eggs!  I mean come on! Is there anything better?

What you don't see in this pic is the fish are still flopping around on the table and uncle is asking the boys to smile..and the boys are FREAKING out!

What you don’t see in this pic is the fish are still flopping around on the table and uncle is asking the boys to smile..and the boys are FREAKING out!

Now, at this point one might think enough activities had been accomplished. Really a full day and then some had been put in….but someone promised ice skating…so off to the pond we went. (In retrospect…this was a very very bad decision)

IMG_0920The ice skating part was great. The kiddos all had a great time and loads of fun were had.

Then we all returned home just a tad bit tired….one might even say we were all a bit OVER tired… might even take it a step further to say we were all WAY OVER TIRED!

From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump away from tears and frustration and our lovely weekend ended on a bit of a sour note.  Sigh……

Lessons learned…..

* Packing 1,000,0000 things into one day is probably not the best choice.

* The strong conviction of a newly turned 6 year boy is nothing to toy with

* A good night’s sleep cures just about everything

* An Auntie and Uncles love is unequivocally forever…bad days and all

Love you boys,

Auntie and Uncle


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