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)

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

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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)

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

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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.

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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…..one 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

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Posted in Around the House, Family Time | Leave a comment

Bracing for the storm

Greetings from the winter wonderland that is Southeastern WI. We received a good walloping yesterday and are still somewhat in ‘dig out’ mode. We can’t really complain as it was Feb 1 and it was our first real snowstorm of the year but how quickly one is reminded of how fun shoveling horrible shoveling is….sigh…..

Since we knew we weren’t going to get out much on Sunday, we spent Saturday morning out and about in the fresh air.  We got skunked the week before and the hubby was pretty insistent that we give the ole ice fishin rods another crack to try and stock pile up some more fish in the freezer.

Let me be absolutely clear about something if you are not from north of the mason-dixon line…..if it is January…and the day is bright, sunny and clear….you can be darn sure it is frickin freezing outside.

Enter in exhibit A:

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I will not be so crass as to compare the day to a portion of a witch’s anatomy….but trust me…the sentiment was there.

That being said, never has a cup of hot chocolate been more welcomed…or functional as a hand warmer!

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We added something new to the ice fishing trip…which included tip ups. The kiddos have never seen them in action, so they received a course in baiting and rigging them up.

Of course the most exciting part is fishing the minnow out of the bucket.

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And really that is where the excitement ended as the tip ups never actually went up…or off…or whatever the right terminology is.

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The boy and I were the only ones to actually catch something that day. It ended up the boy-8; mama-4….which it turns out is just enough for superbowl ice fishin sliders…

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IMG_2231Did I mention it was cold? Thank goodness for balaclavas!

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Sunday we woke up to snow…though not a ton.  But then it just kept snowing and snowing and snowing…all day long in fact.

So we hunkered in….and as it turns out….it was the perfect day to………….

SPIN!

All afternoon long in fact.

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Oh what a lovely weekend….

Stay tuned…next weekend it is a birthday celebration with our WI nephews…..a wild rumpus is sure to take place at the ole’ ranch…..

Posted in Family Time, Spin me baby | Leave a comment

Can opened…worms everywhere

Greetings to you on this fine winter day. I am so excited for Spring this year that I have become rather obsessive in my garden planning. Oh new boxes are going to go in, and seeds will be started soon (oh yay! I just can’t wait to actually PLANT something!!!) Have I mentioned my new love of seed catalogs? Oh my the possibilities….the good news is I started with A LOT of seeds I wanted to order but pared it down to a much more manageable amount. And now I swoon at the sight of the packages…..hot diggity I just can’t wait!

All this planning got me really thinking about fertilizer. I do a ton of container gardening and it become abundantly clear last summer that everything needed a bit of fertilizer. I hate hate hate putting any sort of chemicals in our garden (and we don’t) but we were fresh out of ‘black gold’ compost and the chicken poop is too hot to put right on anything. So I broke down and….eeeeeeekkkkkkk…bought the bad stuff from the store. And of course it worked in spades on my flowers and everything continued on just fine really. But deep down I vowed not to do that again.

The hubby and I have watched show after show about this really great guy in Milwaukee and his awesome compost. (I vow to visit his operation this summer!!!) Anyhoo, as I considered ordering his worm compost to brew my own fertilizer ‘tea’ it got me thinking…why the heck can’t I set up my own worm composter?

And boy….if you google that….the can of worms pops right on open…and you are off to the worm races.

And what I found out is…it is really really easy to do this…and it costs very little.

(And no mom, our basement is not going to smell like worms…or garbage……..I knew I needed to address that right away)

First up…get two opaque plastic bins (cause worms don’t really like light).

Guess what? Every store has them clearanced right now…SCORE!

These are a lovely green color…though they are a bit more translucent than they probably should have been. Luckily our basement is pretty dark anyways so I think we are fine.

IMG_0872Next up…bedding. Apparently worms really like paper and cardboard. Good thing we seem to have that kinda stuff laying around our house all the time.

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We had a huge amount of paper in a recent shipment…Into the container it went along with some water to soak it all down. (Worms like a ‘damp’ environment don’t cha know)

IMG_0876Yup…get it really wet.

Then squeeze out as much water as you possibly can and fluff it back up.

IMG_0878Oooh, that is some lovely fluffy wet paper isn’t it?

Then I put in a couple layers of damp cardboard for fun…along with….get this…..

DIRT!

Yup just sprinkled some dirt right on in there. Worms are a lot like chickens as they also have a gizzard and need some roughage to grind up their food…so in went the dirt.

Then I added some organic material for them to chomp on…..coffee grounds and tea bags are much loved by these little squirmie wormys…as well as vegetable and fruit stuffs.

The last part was to add the little guys to their happy new home.

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And in a few months, I will have my own worm casting (that’s a nice word for poop) tea for my lovely plants.

Oh and….we will never have to buy bait ever again! Brilliant I say!

Posted in Around the House | 2 Comments

Back in the Saddle Again

Hi there and Happy New Year! Our apologies on the radio silence from ranch the past few months. Between the holidays, the darkness, the cold…finding the ambition to blog has been a struggle. But we are BACK! And we did it in grand fashion this weekend as we decided…if we can’t beat winter…well then we better join it!

So off we went to our very first ice fishing competition.

We were actually pretty lucky as it was not ‘that cold’ ( I think it was 10 degrees…balmy by WI standards) and there was little to no wind.

First up, we were greeted by a friendly group of fishin dudes who wanted to know if the kids were fishing. We declared ‘of course’ and the kids were immediately gifted new ice fishing rod kits. As you can see…they were surprised and amazed……

IMG_2154 Then we walked about 100000000 miles (ok maybe a half mile….but seriously when you are wearing all that cold weather gear plus winter boots that weight about 50 lbs a piece…it felt like MUCH longer) until we found the ‘right’ fishing spot.

Then, it is every man, woman and child for themselves. Everyone gears up their own rods and scoops their own hole (no whining allowed either).

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The good news is we do have our very own professional ‘hole driller’…however he is very willing to turn over the task to the boy any day now. (28 cranks=about 14″ of ice….it was plenty thick)

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Then the excitement began……….and we all stood around our holes and caught a gazillion fish


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Scratch that….we actually froze our a$$es off and declared it too cold after not catching ANYTHING

BUT! We came back in at just the right time…..and there were TONS of games for the kiddos to play…and win

First up…transport popcorn from one end to the other.

On your mark, get set….go!

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Then it was walk like a crab with a bobber between your knees

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The boy won and walked away with a really really really nice ice rod.

Then they dumped a TON on change into a pile of sawdust and the kids got to go crazy.

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At this point of the day, the winds had picked up and it was darn cold. So cold, the girl’s hands were frozen into a claw…..but she kept pickin.

So cold in fact the hubby gave me his hat and scarf…yes, I am wearing 2 hats I am so cold.

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All in all we had the most fantastic day together. The hubby and I got to warm up with spicy bloody mary’s and the kiddos made lots of new friends. We all commented that night how we all had smiles plastered on our faces all afternoon long.

And that dear friend is the mark of a perfect day.

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For the Love of June, part 2

Only once before have I ever been so excited to share a blog post. In January 2013 our extended family officially welcomed two boys to my sissy’s home.

Today dear reader, my sissy and hubby add a third, and I am just so excited to introduce you to Junie.

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It is a wonder that this little girl’s feet ever touch the ground with how much she is doted and loved on. She is the most agreeable and happy child and just goes from one activity to another with not so much as a fuss.

IMG_1804She has the teeniest, tiniest nose that she loves to do ‘dragon breath’. This may be my screen saver at work…..

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The boy and girl have been smitten since day one. The girl and I have had some very serious conversations on who has been holding Junie too long and whose turn it is and to stop hogging the baby.

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Everyone truly loves this little girl to pieces, so it is with great excitement we welcome her to this crazy family. We love you dear Junie.

Posted in Family Time | 2 Comments

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Years and years ago…many many apartments ago…in a time when I had leisurely daily engagements with Martha Stewart…I was instructed on the best recipe for roast chicken. Due to the butter content and the fact that I rarely cook large dinners, it does not make an appearance often…but when it does…oh the family rejoices.

I have made a few modest modifications so here goes:

IMG_0740Should you find yourself with a nice bowl of garlic garden castaways, this is a great way to use them up.  Chop up a bunch of cloves and then zest a lemon while your at it. Dump that into a bowl of room temperature butter.  (I used 4 Tbsp…because I had a really big chicken NO JUDGEMENT!) Then chop up whatever fresh herbs you have lying around….I used rosemary but you can easily use thyme, oregano, basil, etc.

Then, using your greatest swedish chef voice, massage the chicky bok bok with that magic potion.

Pierce the remaining lemon many many times and then ceremoniously shove that lemon right on up in there.

IMG_0744A chicken of this size took about 2 hours at 350 degrees. (What size is that chicken you ask? I have no idea…I forgot to look at the package but if I had to guess I would say 3 lbs)

And in a very unblogworthy brain cramp, I forgot to take a picture of the done bird. (Crap) But know this, it crisps up and is without a doubt one of the best ways to enjoy roast chicken. Coupled with mash potatoes and some delightful garden squash it was a real crowd pleaser. (In an even worse unblogginess of it all, I made giblet gravy for the first time……and it was so fantastic…and I didn’t take pictures of any of it.  But know this…you can make chicken gravy with RED wine and it still turns out spectacular….I mean slather it on everything…want to make lipgloss out of it SPECTACULAR!)

Posted in Yum Yums | 1 Comment

Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self circa May 2015,

Every year you say you are going to do this, but you never do.  It is seriously maybe 15 minutes of work  yet every year you forget what plants comes up where, what needs to be thinned and where to focus your efforts. For once would you please just take some notes so you are organized next year? So you can channel all that delightful Spring energy where it will really count?

Here are all your 2014 random ideas for your gardens next year…..mostly steeped in reality…and a few…well….

Plant more lettuce! June and July was great eating...but we could have used much much more!

Plant more lettuce! June and July was great eating…but we could have used much much more! Remember Sept lettuce=bitter horrible russian roulette of lettuce eating…eat all of the lettuce before August. However, should you forget this…chickens apparently love horribly bitter lettuce greens….

Plant WAY more kale. Can't believe all the things you can sneak it into, and we loved it! Buy more 'kale plugs' at Monona farmer's market

Plant WAY more kale. Can’t believe all the things you can sneak it into, and we loved it! Buy more ‘kale plugs’ at Monona farmer’s market and don’t forget there are garlic heads at that end of the box. Don’t plant anything else there! Hope that lemon thyme comes back…boy that is good…

Create LARGE garden for all things viney at back of yard. To include squash and pumpkins.

Create LARGE garden for all things viney at back of yard. To include squash and pumpkins. Should be great soil since compost piles were there for years.

Don't co-mingle squash with anything other than pumpkins...it takes over everything! This is ONE squash plant that took over an entire 4' box and went out of the box in every direction.

Don’t co-mingle squash with anything other than pumpkins…it takes over everything! This is ONE squash plant that took over an entire 4′ box and went out of the box in every direction. Remember…it killed the kale?!?!

Immature butternut squashes are phenomenal in tempura and pan fried....just sayin...don't forget this next year

Immature butternut squashes are phenomenal in tempura and pan fried….just sayin…don’t forget this next year.

Plant more zinnias and try sunflowers already! Remember how great it was to have fresh cut flowers? That patch gets great sunlight! Remember to extend down the fencing too so the poor hostas that the chickens decimated may have a chance.

Plant more zinnias and try sunflowers already! Remember how great it was to have fresh cut flowers? That patch gets great sunlight! Remember to extend down the fencing too so the poor hostas that the chickens decimated may have a chance.

Think about fencing in a nice shady hosta garden in this spot of deadness.  Would need a lot of dirt...and some sort of containment device for said dirt...and some sort of keepy outy device for chickens who want nothing more than yto kill your ever lovin hostas

Think about fencing in a nice shady hosta garden in this spot of deadness. Would need a lot of dirt…and some sort of containment device for said dirt…and some sort of keepy outy device for chickens who want nothing more than to kill your ever lovin hostas. And for the love of all that is good, paint this furniture already!

Hey! Remember this? It used to be the only garden on the ranch. Now it sits mostly unloved. Clean it up already so you can thoughtfully forget about for a few more years.

Hey! Remember this? It used to be the only garden on the ranch. Now it sits mostly unloved. Clean it up already so you can thoughtfully forget about for a few more years.

Um, yeah every year you wonder if this hosta bed needs to be thinned out. Yes, yes it does. Get at it in the spring before they become this unyielding mess.

Um, yeah every year you wonder if this hosta bed needs to be thinned out. Yes, yes it does. Get at it in the spring before they become this unyielding thicket.

Yes, those tiny little hostas aren't getting any bigger....perhaps move them (yet again) to someplace they can be seen??

Yes, those tiny little hostas aren’t getting any bigger….perhaps move them (yet again) to someplace they can be seen??

There is nothing pressing to do in this box so leave it alone. Walk away and go work on that hosta mess will you?

There is nothing pressing to do in this box so leave it alone. Walk away and go work on that hosta mess will you?

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