We arrived at the Sands Dude Ranch, and barkeep Jim (Joe's middle brother) served up some delicious beverages. The kids were in bed, after a brief round of "pink belly" that Uncle Joe Joe had to play with Connor per his request, we talked and drank dirty martinis or mudslides, dissected the real estate market, the elder Sands boys argued and generally gave each other crap as they have for the last thirty years, and then the party wound down, we went to bed and Jim headed out to pick up the youngest Sands boy and the final addition to our party, from the bus station.
Saturday morning involved coffee, donuts and sleeping in past 7:30. All good things. And then some showering, some spinning around of an almost three year old, some feeding of a one year old, and then because I told the one year old that he could not throw pancakes, the baby cried. His face shriveled up, his mouth got all smushed and he angrily cried, adorable. And he didn't really stop while he ate his yogurt. Must be nap time.
Since the Sands boys are all together it must mean sushi and possibly a trip or two to Marshalls for some deep discount shopping. So we did those two things after much finagling with nap times and logistics. Sushi for lunch! The sushi was delivered on a wooden boat, not the biggest boat but still a substantial vessel. It was tasty. Though we could have used another California roll, Jackson agreed.
After sushi, Jim and Katy headed back to the house with little Sands boys for afternoon naps and Joe, Jon and I went on a caffeine seeking mission. Not only did we find some great coffee beverages at Tuvalu, we did a little browsing in their free trade gift shop, we snacked and sipped and talked shit. It was a fully authentic hippy coffee house complete with delicious drinks, patchouli, a barista in serious need of a shower and some non crystal deodorant, and tiny free range long haired toddlers wandering around the premises.
After the required caffeine infusion, we drove out to Jackson's first birthday party. The party was held up a Katy's parents' weekend house, the Hill, which I've raved about here before. But instead of heading straight to the Hill for party time, we took a leisurely detour to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's estate and home in Spring Green. Joe is a huge fan. We took the four hour walking tour here a couple of years ago, but Jon had never seen it. And Joe wanted to share. So we drove around, and since the gates were wide open, we drove on through private property. It felt wrong, and illicit and slightly dangerous, just flaunting the rules, something that I'm sure Frank Lloyd Wright would approve of. We didn't get kicked off the property, but we didn't linger either. It was a perfect day to break the rules, sunny and cool, Taliesin glowed up on that hill. Then we meandered over to the gift shop, took some photos and headed out to the Hill for the real party.
Jackson's party was great. Katy's warm and friendly family, lots of blond laughing kids and Jim and Katy's friends, frolicking all over the Hill property, eating delicious tacos, cupcakes and the most delicious quinoa salad that I've ever eaten (thanks for the recipe Mary Jo and Katy.)
Joe took a ton of photos, we enjoyed the brisk weather, I actually got to put on a jacket for the first time in months while drinking a pumpkin beer. Pretty much a perfect early fall evening. We headed back to Madison, after Jackson, with great gusto, devoured his 1st birthday cupcake. And then we decided to go see a movie. Katy crashed at home with the kids, and the boys and I headed out for a little George Clooney assassin action. Yet there wasn't really any action. I wanted to like it. It was beautifully shot. The acting was great, the little tiny bits of action were good, but in general it was slow and just lacking something, oh, plot, back story, any substantial story. I simply didn't care about the characters and that's the death knell for my enjoyment of a movie. And there was a lot of Clooney driving. Just driving between small European towns. And there was a prostitute with a heart of gold. Because, you know, why not. Or as Jon said, "You can't spell housewife without ho."
Sunday was also jam packed with goodness and fine people. In the morning, our friends Kristen and Sean and their son Aedan came over to Jim and Katy's.
Sean's family lives in the same town that Jim and Katy live in outside of Madison, so we coordinated our trips this time, and squeezed in a little play time for Aedan and Connor, who are about a year and a half apart, and a little brunch for the adults. The boys raked and picked tomatoes, swung on the swings and ran around in the wet grass.
Then we all headed out for some tasty brunch. Pancakes, an Orangina, some quiche and a salad, a Balzac sandwich or two, some meatball subs and a couple of delicious cookies and we were all set. We had fun and it was just relaxing to spend time with everyone all together, rare and nice.
We parted ways with our friends. Jim and Joe and the little guys headed back to the house for afternoon naps. Katy, Jon and I headed out for some more shopping, and my first pumpkin latte of the season. And Jon visited London, you know, just outside of the suburban Madison Target.
After our DSW, Old Navy, weird book store, Target, running store run, we headed back to the house, loaded up the kids and made our way to the Taste of Madison, a downtown food festival and people watching extravaganza. I gorged on both a little bit. Let's start with the people first.
The people. It was a heady mix of homemade tattoos and Packers jerseys, all natural fiber wearing, free boobing mamas, preppy college students, colorfully dressed old people causing pedestrian traffic jams, lots of stripper heels and fake boobs, and so many fashion choices that should have been seriously reconsidered, Lisa Loeb, seriously, and some dude from American Idol too.
My initial favorite person was the man holding up his infant son so they could take a photo of him under the Rising Sun bar sign. And as we walked by them, Katy heard the proud father say, "That's where you were conceived, son." Awesome. But here's my true favorite. Two little presents for you, wrapped in a bow.
Yes, those are real tattoos. Yes, they are pink ribbons and so recently done that they look a little raw.
The food was also a heady mix, greasy, fattening, ridiculous, but delicious. Rows and rows of food booths with everything from the traditional brats and cheese curds, to delicious Asian dumplings, West African peanut stew, gelato, fondue, Thai, pretzels, Southern style catfish and for dessert a cookie dough eggroll, essentially a scoop of cookie dough wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried. Just gooey, sweet, deliciousness. Who came up with this idea?
After some browsing on State Street, walking Jon Sands two miles to the bus station on campus, eating our weight in tasty street food, and smearing chocolate all over our faces, we went home and crashed.
It was a busy weekend, and other than my slight confusion about our viewing choices that night, Lien on Me versus Lean on Me, Mike Holmes versus Crazy Joe Clark, I want both of those guys on my team by the way (we watched Lien on Me) and we wrapped up a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Minus any thigh tattoos.
Thanks for hosting us, guys. We had a super fantastic time, and I think I gained five pounds. Always the sign of a good weekend.
(I would prefer to ignore Monday. Monday I had an hour and a half of dental work, free, excellent dental work, but dental work all the same. My mouth and tongue were numb for a good two hours of our road trip home. So other than thanking my fabulous brother-in-law, Dr. Jim Sands of Associated Dentists, for the fine work, if you live anywhere near Madison, I highly recommend making an appointment to get those chompers looked at. He does great work, and plays decent tunes when you're in the chair. But other than that I'm going to forget about Monday. Driving and dental work, nuff said.)