A Christmas (kind of) vacation

For Christmas, my brother got me two great gifts. The first was that he would plan a weekend for Sara and I, including a hotel room and entertainment. The second, and more important gift, was that he would watch the kids during that time.

This was elaborate planning. There were reservations and tickets and printed maps. In fact, there were too many things to do and we ended up missing out on some of them! I guess we’ll just have to do it again sometime.

First we went to the farmer’s market. The Madison farmer’s market is not for the faint of heart. It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 BILLION times bigger than our farmer’s market. We got scones at their favorite scone place, and bought some honey, flowers, and pickled garlic scapes. Ollie would have prefered to stay at the pickle place all day long eating samples. He mowed through everything in turn, including some habanero pickles. Some lady tried one next, figuring if some little kid was fine with them, what did she have to fear? Unfortunately, her face caught on fire and burned off. Never mess with Ollie when it comes to spicy things.

Next we had a tour of the capitol, which is sort of old hat for my brother. Still we got up on the roof walk, peeked in the senate chamber, and walked around in the rotunda.

By the time the kids were getting pretty hungry (forgetting, naturally, that we had already eaten breakfast AND scones), so we went out to brunch. We ate at Graze, and I must say, it was quite awesome. This was definitely the best meal we had in Madison (more on that later).

Next up we went out to the Sassy Cow Creamery for a tour. They were having some kind of family day, which included ice cream taste tests, games, tours, and did I mention taste tests? Nathan got a little…turned around on the way there (how else to describe the fact that it took us 50 minutes to get there and only 15 to get home?), but it all came out okay.

Better than okay, in fact, because we saw the craziest thing ever.

We were standing in the main barn watching cows eat and pretending like it didn’t smell like we were actually standing inside a cow’s butt, when the tour guide casually mentioned one of the cows was giving birth. Sure enough, one of the cows was just lying on its side, heaving and pushing. They didn’t have it in a separate area or anything; even the other cows weren’t bothering to give it any extra room.

“Whelp,” said the tour guide, “looks like I better give ‘er a tug.”

He casually walks over and grabs some kind of crazy chain thing, reaches inside the cow, attaches the chains to the baby’s legs and PULLS OUT A BABY COW. Simple as that. “I guess we’re all honorary Wisconsinites now,” said Sara.


After that, it was time to split up. Nathan and Amanda took the kids to Cave of the Mounds, and Sara and I went to check into our hotel. We were supposed to go kayaking next, but we couldn’t make it. We had early dinner reservations in order to make the comedy show later, so we only had an hour or so before dinner. Therefore we decided to just walk around and do some shopping. However, we also realized that there was NO WAY we could eat dinner at 6. Between breakfast, scones, lunch, and ice cream, we just didn’t have any room left over. So we had to cancel our reservations. It looked like a lovely restaurant, but we stopped for a coffee instead.

Finally, we ended the night with an improv show at Monkey Business. The room was small and hot, but the improv was actually pretty good. I don’t attend many improv shows, but I have been to a few, and the games they played were different than I have seen before. We ended up getting some pizza, and it was pretty good too (ham, blue cheese and walnuts!).

The next morning we met back up with the kids and Nate and Amanda made us pancakes (beet pancakes no less! That’s a first for me.) On a whim, on the way home we stopped off at my Grandma’s house and took her out to lunch, since we clearly hadn’t eaten enough in the past few days. My Uncle from Madison had the same idea, so we all ended up going together (ironic that we spent the weekend in Madison, but didn’t run into him until we left!)

All in all a very nice weekend, and a Christmas present I would recommend to anyone who has kids. Believe me, a night without the kids is always a very, very good bet for a present, even without the hotel room! Heck, even an HOUR without the kids…

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