I realized today that we have been living in Madison for over a month now and I haven't written anything about it. How terrible is that. I have to start by saying that I LOVE it here. Madison is unlike any place I have ever lived before and I have fallen in love with it in a very short amount of time. I was very hesitant about moving out to Wisconsin initially. When we came out to visit in April to see the campus and get to know the program there was more that one occasion where I told McKay that I did not want to live here. On the very last day that we were here visiting, he drove me out to the country, and I decided that maybe I could live outside of Madison in the country, maybe.
McKay lived here for 2 years on his mission and would tell me all about it and would frequently tell me that some day he wanted to take me to Appleton, Sturgeon Bay, Stevens Point, Prairie Du Chien, etc. Whenever he would get nostalgic for his days in Wisconsin he would tell me about another place in Wisconsin that he wanted to take me. Well, we have now been to more than one of those places because WE LIVE HERE NOW! That seriously is so crazy to me. We are living in the place of McKay's happy memories. I never, ever thought we would live in Wisconsin. What is funny, is that back in the day when we were finishing up our bachelors degrees McKay was flown out for a job interview with a company called Epic, that is located about 5 miles from where we live now. We ended up going to China instead but here we are three years later in Madison Wisconsin. There are so many times that I feel like we were brought here by divine intervention for a reason. I have NO idea what that reason is, but the Lord has a purpose for us here in Wisconsin.
It took me almost 2 1/2 months of online apartment hunting to finally find the place that we are living now. While we were in Madison in April we talked to a lot of other students and a couple of other LDS people living in the area and got their input on where the best areas to live in were. We were so lucky to come in to contact with the Day family. They had us over to their house for dinner and invited a bunch of other business students over as well. They stayed in contact with us after we went back to Utah, and even looked at some apartments for us. They were so key in helping us make our move. What is funny to me is that with all of the apartment searching I did across Madison we ended up just about 4 blocks away from them, and in the same complex that another LDS family is living in as well. How crazy is that?! We are also less than two miles away from our church building, just down the street from the Library, Adjacent to a city park and there are 5 more parks within a mile of us. We also have amazing access to shopping and dining all while living in a really nice neighborhood with paved walkways wandering through the neighborhood and a duck pond about 2 blocks away, and a lot of really nice people. Have I mentioned that I have fallen in love?
So since moving here we have done a lot of fun things, and a lot of boring nothing. We purposely moved out here earlier than we needed to so that McKay could show us around his old mission stomping grounds and so that we could get somewhat unpacked and settled in before McKay had to start School. McKay's parents were wonderful and made the drive across the country with us and helped us move in. I have to make a quick shout out to all of the amazing and wonderful people who helped us move out. We have the best family and friends! You guys are so great. Thank you! We were able to get the entire apartment packed into the moving van in less than 3 hours. Also, you special people who hung around after and helped us clean the apartment, you are extra amazing.
Anyway, back on topic. McKay's parents drove the moving truck with one of our cars attached to the back, while we drove our other car. The drive out took longer than expected. We underestimated how fast the moving truck would be able to drive. We were doing really well if we could get it to go 60, so that seriously slowed us down. We visited McKay's aunt Ilse and his Sisters Sasha and Cecily and their families on the way out. We still need to make a trip to visit his cousin Dekan who is only 4 hours away! Also, Madelynn was NOT a fan of being in the car for 4 days. She would cry and cry and cry and cry. You would think she would wear herself out but she can cry for over an hour with out tiring out. That girl has some serious stamina. So we were bad parents and occasionally let her out of her car seat and let her sit on our laps or crawl around in the car. I know it's unsafe, but it helped all of us keep our sanity. Once we got to Madison and got the truck unpacked McKay's parents were able to stay with us for 3 extra days, so we played tourist when we needed a break from unpacking.
We spent one day on a trip to Prarie Du Chien. This was one of McKay's favorite spots on his mission. It is on the border of Wisconsin and Iowa on the Mississippi river. We had so much fun listening to his stories and seeing the places where he lived, and tracted and seeing other places he had memories of. We even tried to recreate a picture he took and sent home on his mission. One of the things we did while we were there was have lunch at the pizza hut buffet. He used to go there and have eating contests with his companion while he lived there and it was a lot of fun to go back there with him.
The next day we went down to a city called Monroe. While we were down there we went to the Alp and Dell cheese factory. We were able to take a tour of the factory and were told about the cheese making process by the owner. He was a little old Swiss man with a thick accent and curly mustache. He made the tour worth while. Listening to him talk about making the Swiss style cheeses in his Swiss accent was a blast. We were able to try a whole bunch of different cheeses and since moving to Wisconsin we have a couple of new favorite cheeses. We have found that we really like an aged Gouda called Marieke Golden, Applewood smoked Gouda, a Swiss cheese called Butterkase, and a Spanish style cheese called Gran Queso. We also love the cheese curds. Some are definitely better than others, but they are all good. While we were at the cheese factory we purchased a bunch of different cheese and had cheese and crackers for lunch later that day. On our way home we stopped in New Glarus Wisconsin and bought a bunch of pastries from a Swiss bake shop. They were amazing. I am thoroughly enjoying the Swiss influence out here in Southwest Wisconsin.
After McKay's parents flew back home we had one week as a family to do whatever we wanted before school started, so we did a lot of unpacking, cleaning and organizing and took some more mission memory trips. This time we went to Stevens Point and Appleton Wisconsin. We also drove around the country side quite a bit. Wisconsin has some of the most Beautiful and picturesque countryside and farmland I have ever seen. Sorry Cecily, Wisconsin is sooooo much prettier than Illinois. While we were in Steven's Point we once again had to eat at one of McKay's happy memory eateries. This time we went to the Chinese buffet that they have there. The name has changed, which made McKay hesitant at first, but he was happy to walk inside and see that it looked exactly the same. Once again I got the pleasure of listening to McKay reminisce. I love to hear him tell stories about his mission. Even more so now that we live here.
Once McKay started school on August 21st things got quiet for me and Madelynn, but things got really busy for McKay. There have been so many social events for the MBA's, one of which was a cruise on lake Mendota, that was pretty fun. But only a small handful of the events are open to significant other and there has only been one that miss Madelynn was allowed to attend. Not too surprisingly, very very few of the MBA students are married, and even fewer of them have kids. Also, not too surprisingly, about 90% of the MBA's who have children are LDS. People who are not Mormon and don't know that we are call it the BYU club. Funny funny funny! The "BYU club" was able to get together over labor day and we all had a picnic together. It ended up being a blast and a half and I hope we can make something like that happen again soon.
Since moving here we have started taking a whole lot more family walks, playing at various parks, eating a much larger variety of super yummy cheese, enjoying the huge year round Dane County Farmers Market and McKay has started using public transit. Life is definitely different right now but we are loving it.
P.S. we have an air mattress, a huge couch and tons of extra room here, so if anyone is ever in the area, or decides to take a trip out here, let us know. We would love to have visitors!
Now here are pictures of a bunch of things I just wrote about!