Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Moving Home: Balancing my “Big Family”, my “Little Family”, and the Space Between

A new chapter.

I have been MIA for a while, but for good reason: Jason and I moved back to Wisconsin. We decided after several frustrating conversations, that neither of us were happy. He wasn’t happy with his graduate work since it was far from what he actually wants to do, and I wasn’t happy working as a receptionist. I am a writer. I am a teacher. There is no creativity in doing menial bitch-work for 5 business owners. Neither of us felt like ourselves and we didn’t feel much like the “us” that we want to be.


So much has happened lately that I can’t seem to keep up. After a year away from my friends and family, I feel overwhelmed. My first week home I felt like I was trying to make everyone happy and cram a year’s worth of quality time into a few days. I missed Jason and our cats – my Little Family. My Big Family, my friends and family of origin, wanted to spend as much time with me as possible; which is great, and I want to spend time with them, but it was difficult to take in all of the invitations and events without turning others down. I was glad for Jason to come home at the beginning of the next week.


I am from Oshkosh. My Big Family is in Oshkosh. Jason is from South Milwaukee. Right now, my Little Family is living in South Milwaukee. I love my Big Family, but it is nice to have an hour and a half of highway between us while my Little Family figures out where we want to be and how we fit back into Wisconsin.

mlk to osh


Return from the Wedding Rabbit Hole

Jason and I have finally emerged from our wedding rabbit hole as husband and wife. Somehow we managed to pull off a beautiful Wisconsin wedding in two months of planning abroad with a tiny budget.


The ceremony, that took so much time to plan, happened in an instant; and though I was stifling tears before I walked down the aisle with my father, I ended up smiling and laughing through much of the ceremony. Our readings were light-hearted and at one point our five year old ring-bearer scratched his nuts (luckily I didn’t see this until viewing the video of the ceremony). Jason’s vows were beautiful and descriptive even though he had been struggling for weeks to write them. I looked out on our friends and family while I stood under the arch my father built and felt the warmth in that room. Though it was secular and officiated by our friend, we were complimented several times by our religious relations on the simplicity and beauty of our ceremony (I could finally breathe since I thought the lack of God in our vows would stir the Catholic/Lutheran/Etc. mindsets that looked on).


Our bridal party entered the reception to Gangnam Style, but was shown up by our ring-bearer doing a maniac version of the running man that nobody could have planned, but everybody loved. Though we were surrounded by our closest friends and family, Jason and I were thankful to have our own small table to ourselves while our bridal party sat with their families. In between clicking glasses and expected kisses, Jason and I enjoyed the first real meal either of us had had all day. We circulated to thank everyone for coming and, at my father’s request, asked if everyone had had enough to eat. We danced our asses off until midnight for the New Year’s countdown and toasted 2013 as husband and wife.

Things were not perfect, but I would not have wanted them any different than they were. 

Planning a Wisconsin wedding is difficult to do when you live in Canada!

I am currently attempting to plan our December 31 wedding FOR THIS YEAR that will take place in my hometown; however, I live in Saskawtchwan! We want to get married this year because we are going home and do not know when we will be able to afford going back to Wisconsin. When I Skyped home to tell my dad and step-mom, she figured that I would want to have the wedding before the end of the year (she knows me so well!).

Originally, we wanted a small wedding of about 50 people – just close friends and immediate family at the beautiful house that my dad built, covered in snow and candles for an intimate New Year’s wedding get together. Now, a week after our engagement, we will be inviting about 120 people (give or take a few cousins – my dad still has to get me the final list). My dad and sister have been running around like crazy booking venues, caterers, and hotel suites. I have not left my computer for more than a couple of hours when I have to sleep since Jason proposed!

Everyone is working so hard, but I feel like Oracle (Batgirl after she was shot in the spine by the Joker and bound to her wheelchair). All I can do to help plan my wedding is sit in front of my computer and tell other people what to do.

Photo: I feel like Oracle (Batgirl after she was shot in the spine by the Joker and bound to her wheelchair). All I can do to help plan my wedding is sit in front of my computer and tell other people what to do.
Yesterday, Jason and I finally had enough money to start buying small things for the wedding. Since I am crafty, I want to make as much of the wedding decor as possible. Since I make fabric flower hair accessories and jewelry, we will not need a florist. I cannot see the point in spending hundreds of dollars on flowers that will wilt soon after the wedding when I can make fabric flowers that will last a lifetime and are meaningful to me since they are hand crafted and took time and effort to create.
Today, the DIY wedding toppers I ordered last week arrived! They are little wooden peg people that can be made to look like the bride and groom. I decided on these after looking at several cake toppers that are all skinny blonde women and superman shaped tall men, that it wouldn’t make sense. I am curvy and brunette and Jason is lanky and on the shorter side. We both wear glasses and none of them come premade with glasses. So these will become us and will adorn our cake (which my lovely sister Megan will be making at the bakery where she works). However, I have to wait until we get Jason’s wedding attire and until my wedding dress arrives.
I didn’t want the cookie cutter invitations either, so these are the ones I made up:
They are loosely based on the invitations a friend of mine sent out last summer for her wedding. I loved the idea of having a short timeline of our relationship on the back. These will be printed front to back and guests will RSVP by phone or on our wedding website to save time and postage.
After one week of wedding planning, things are coming together like crazy! I can’t believe it! I ordered my dress and shoes:
I had to get the Sex and the City shoes, but I had to get them in flats so I can actually walk and dance (and so I don’t tower over Jason) – the original pumps are 4 inches tall!

The House on Oak Street

With the seasons changing so rapidly here in Canada, I start thinking about the holidays and back home. Here is a fairly nostalgic poem about my childhood home.


The House on Oak Street

Mindy M. Wara


Spring awakens Mom’s sunny tulip cups

along-side the white house, mint

in 1991, when Dad first drew out the “For Sale” sign

as if he were Arthur pulling the sword from the stone.

My sister and I can never resist the urge to pluck

the tulip heads from their stalks, mashing them

into potions along with poison berries.

We were warned never ever to eat them,

but I made her try one once. She was fine.


As the last puddles of spring evaporate,

I drag the storm-blown birch stick

through my dad’s left-over rainbowed gasoline spots

on the driveway. The iridescent spectrum swirls in on itself.

I discover I am an artist, not a mechanic,

as my father had anticipated,

though the grease stained coolots and jumpers

in the hamper suggest otherwise.


Dead geraniums allude to autumn,

hanging their weary wilting heads

in the planter below the mailbox.

The cheapest pumpkins

we could find at Fernau’s stand guard,

etched with the scariest faces Dad’s knife can carve,

the orange mucus, guts, and seeds

our fingers squish around in

is left crusted to the table for Mom to clean up.


Peering out the living room window,

I see blue snow under streetlamps.

It takes over the yard, the jungle gym,

the windows as I lick and stick the snowflake window clings,

readying the house for reindeer and grandparents,

offering Christmas warmth from the muted world.

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What vivid memories do you associate with your childhood? Please comment and share!

Moving from Wisconsin to Canada

I have lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin my entire life. This past spring my boyfriend, Jason, was accepted into the graduate studies program at the University of Saskatchewan. After several long discussions and many tearful outbursts about missing my family and long distance relationships never working, I decided to help Jason pack up the car, and our cat Barney, and spend two long days driving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

By making this decision, I left the only friends I have ever known and their beautiful children and my amazing family back in Wisconsin and moved to a new country where I don’t know anyone. Most of my things are packed in boxes and totes in my dad’s shed attic, waiting for me to move back in three years after Jason’s schooling. My crappy furniture, the majority of my clothes, and all of the holiday decorations I have accumulated in the first five years of what I thought was my adult life – not to mention the boxes and boxes and boxes of books I have horded for years.

Jason drove the majority of the trip up here since he didn’t bring anything to do in the car. I knitted, crafted some headbands, and colored a picture in the over-sized Spiderman coloring book that my sister gave me in the travel bag she made up for me to take in the car. She is so thoughtful and is the person I miss more than anyone else. We watched the lush Wisconsin landscape of trees and hills turn into the flat North Dakota nothing into the blurb of a city that is Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

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We found a “roommate” housing situation on kijiji.com before leaving Wisconsin and upon arrival were welcomed into the basement suite of a woman’s home whom we had merely exchanged a few e-mails with. She did not want to draft a lease since we would be “roommates”, which entailed sharing her upstairs kitchen and had to enter the house through her front door and living room.

Let me paint you a word picture of what came to be known as The Hole: When you open the narrow door on the right side of the refrigerator, you will walk down several steep stairs to a brown living room with painted black concrete floors. Because there are no windows, you will never know what time of day or night it is in this lovely suite. This “fully furnished” room consists of a bare wood shelving unit, a small TV, and a futon I could not have comfortably passed out on after my 21st birthday. You will also see an over-sized desk that takes up most of the room, but does not have a chair or any outlets near it for a computer. From here, you will walk into the bedroom, which is furnished with an inflatable mattress and a dresser that is missing several of its nobs. When you sleep on the bed, you will quickly notice in the morning that it deflates and that you must pump it up nightly because there are several duct-taped holes on the under side of the mattress which your “roommate” neglected to tell you about. In the kitchen you will find a small refrigerator, a microwave, a small glass table from the 1970s, and a pantry cabinet. The chairs surrounding the table will not be sturdy enough to sit in, the table will never be clean no matter how many times you wash it, and ants will take over the room no matter how many times you Raid the perimeter. In the bathroom you will find a washer and dryer that your “roommate” will come downstairs to use whenever she feels like it, a sink with no vanity, and a shower that really should not be considered a shower. Your feet will hurt from standing on the bumpy mat that acts as a shower floor and you will not ever feel clean after using it. This apartment will give your cat allergies.

Needless to say, we stayed in this suite for about two months before I couldn’t handle it anymore. Jason agreed that between the lack of sunlight, the ants, and our fifty-something year old roommate who has two large dogs, two dying cats, and an iguana not to mention pet-sits other peoples yippie dogs and has strangers house-sit her home while she is at outdoor music festivals all the time, we needed to move.

We now live on the “good” side of town in a building built in the 1960s. I had permission to paint the living room a sunny yellow and have a small balcony that Barney stares out of most of the day. We have a spacious kitchen all to ourselves and, living on the second floor of the building, we don’t have to worry about ants. There is some built in shelving and our furniture is a mash up of a kitchen table we borrowed from the woman I worked for over the summer, a couch and a love-seat that we were given by the woman across the hall who was getting rid of them, a comfy queen size bed that we treated ourselves to, and end tables, shelves, and a desk from Wal-Mart. With a few crafty touches, the place feels like we have finally arrived, and we are home. Jason’s uncle brought up the huge TV Jason needed to buy last year on Black Friday and after we were settled in we got Barney a baby sister, Penny.