Featured Family

Hi there! We’re the Schneiders. Our family includes Niels, who at three is the youngest and most blonde of our crew, Mieke, who’s nearly five and our resident expert on most subjects (just ask her), Vanessa, who birthed the aforementioned children and who keeps the group calm, and Rodee, who can typically be found doing various dad things.
We’ve been in our Sunset Village home for over three years, and adore it. The trees, the access to great biking and running trails, nature, the UW and cultural amenities…it’s the best. Prior to that, we lived in Appleton (where Mieke was born), Madison (for grad school) and Washington D.C (where Vanessa and Rodee met while traveling on the C-SPAN Bus.)
The kids started at Learning Gardens this June and are loving it. Their parents especially love buying the occasional meal from Chef Alex’s leftovers. Delicious, reasonably-priced salmon and polenta that we don’t have to cook? Yes, please!
Vanessa Fun Facts: Vanessa is a Blue Hen-loving, sales tax-shunning, real, live Delawarean, born and raised. After being charmed by Wisconsin’s natural beauty, friendly faces, bevy of cheese products and relatively reasonable housing prices, she’s on her way to becoming a full-fledged Wisconsinite. Just don’t remind her about that whole winter thing that’s coming up…
Rodee works in marketing and communications for UW-Madison, and Vanessa is a product manager in probiotics for DuPont. Neither of the kids have paying jobs yet. On the weekends and in our downtime, we try to get outside and stay as active as possible. We take hikes, hit the beach, bike trails and community festivals. We have a Thule Chariot bike trailer/jogging stroller that’s been particularly helpful for getting out and about. It’s probably been our best kid investment ever, and has seen a few thousand sanity-saving miles over the years. We also go camping every year and just got back from a trip to Devil’s Lake. It was mostly super fun and only minimally traumatic for everyone.
Niels Fun Facts: We think Niels is destined to be a rock and roll star. One of his favorite bands is the Doors, and if you ever want to get crazy, just put on the song L.A. Woman and prepare for nearly eight minutes of extended, free flowing dancing. Just don’t judge us, please. 

If your child is in Niels or Mieke’s class, they’ll definitely hear them talk about going up to Door County, which we frequent throughout the year. Rodee’s folks have a place in Fish Creek (they also live in Madison), so it’s kind of our home away from home. This summer, more than twenty family members and cousins were up for the Fourth of July, which meant no shortages of adventures, or laundry.
Mieke Fun Facts: Mieke may have ‘Arts and Culture Critic’ on her resume in 2038. When the playing is done, Mieke is all about the arts. Painting, drawing, writing, reading, visiting museums: she can really focus on the things she loves, which makes her mom and dad proud. She’s also a leftie, one of three in our house.
For the last few years during the dead of winter, our family has taken a trip to Sanibel Island in Southwest Florida. We swim and bike around, pick seashells, look at birds, eat copious amounts of ice cream and reflect on what retirement would feel like. It’s laid-back, naturally beautiful, and quickly becoming one of our favorite yearly getaways.
Rodee Fun Facts: One need only look at the size of Rodee’s arms to know he probably doesn’t do excessive manual labor and is likely a runner. Both observations would be accurate! He’s a native of the small Wisconsin town of Slinger, which is how he successfully lured Vanessa to the state. When not acting as a human surfboard for Niels and Mieke, he’s likely doing yard work, just like he always dreamed…
Our family is so excited to be part of the wonderful Learning Gardens community, and we hope to see you at the terrace, on the square or at the park!

-Vanessa, Rodee, Niels and Mieke

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