• Chapter 74- Buena Vista, Colorado (Travel Edition, obviously)

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    Pardon the long break, everyone!  It’s been a busy few weeks, and this post explains a big chunk of that.  Get ready for a week in (a million) pictures…  I took Little A and Baby S to visit my sister in Colorado last week, and had a blast.  How did I end up taking just half of my crew, you ask?  Well, it was going to be a trip by myself, but Baby S is still pretty much attached to me and can fly for free, so she was a shoe in.  And because Little A was in need of some attention (she was battling a nighttime fear of excavators when I booked the flights), I chose her to join.  The plane rides were somewhere in between perfectly fine and incredibly uncomfortable for everyone on board.  People kept saying to me in the airports “oh my gosh, you’re so brave!”.  But I had decided before I left that it would be no big deal and sort of made that idea become true.  Plus, it was only HALF of my children.

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    We talked about grand plans of going to hot springs, and hiking once we arrived in Buena Vista.  But really, all that happened was as follows:

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    We splashed in puddles and enjoyed the views,

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    rode bikes,

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    ate amazing food at The Asian Palate (that’s my dear sister Angela and her husband Bobby),

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    had a fine beverage with my sister at Deerhammer while my brother-in-law drove around in the car with the kids (what?!),

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    and visited my sister’s boutique, Made On Main.  It’s a unique shop with beautiful clothing, art, jewelry and more inside.  The Grand Opening is this weekend if you can make it!  I’m lucky enough to have a sister who can provide fashion advice and outfit me with basically a new wardrobe. Thanks, Angela!

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    Recognize this?  It’s by Jamie Heiden!

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    Original artwork by Angela.

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    And then we crossed the street to her new endeavor, Petal & Flour, the go-to place for wedding consulting in Buena Vista.

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    The week was filled with dogs and bikes and water.  And surfing on the river.  CKS is the place to go to get started with that, but I’ll get to surfing in a minute…

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    Did I mention bikes?

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    And rocks.

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    And pacies and blankies because when you’re out of your element, you need some comfort.  Even if you’re coming up on three years old and have already given up diapers.

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    Eddyline serves a paddle of beer, and I felt it a must to partake.  Unfortunately, I’m more of an Ale, Amber, and Stout kind of gal.  So the line of IPAs and other hoppy beers was better suited to someone like my husband.

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    My sister and I took the girls out for breakfast at The Evergreen Cafe, and trashed the place (sorry Barb!).  But also had killer smoothies and a sweet potato breakfast complete with balsamic vinegar, black beans and cilantro.  Barb, the owner, was kind enough to share the recipe with me.

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    The deer in peoples’ front yards look a little different in Colorado.

    bv30 And so do the playgrounds.

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    Back to river surfing.  Here’s how you do it:

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    Easy, right?  Well if you’re interested in the sport, BV is a great place to go.  The Arkansas river offers some premiere whitewater rafting and surfing experiences, with a long stretch of navigable water.  At pretty much any time of day, you can see people getting ready to put in or boats floating past.

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    We took a trip to the pond to meet up with neighbors and cousins and get the kids out on the water.  For all the two year olds out there, here’s how you rock some new sunglasses.

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    Little A had a blast, clearly.  She got to mess around and be with big kids and run the show.  Not that that’s all that different than at home, ahem.

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    I’m thinking she can be a poster child for Badfish stand up paddleboards, yeah?

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    After the trip to the pond, we went back to the river to watch these ladies, Liz and Alex.  They had come in from out of town and were happy to see us and join in on the fun.

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    It was great week.  I got to see my one and only sister, spend time outside, pet some dogs, throw rocks in the river, pawn my kids off on my brother in law (who happily obliged), give Little A some one-on-one, and gaze upwards at the western sky.

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    I’ll leave you with a few parting shots of Bobby and Earl Richmond (the latter who practically invented the sport) taking a nighttime surf.

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    Special shout out to my parents for helping with Little T and J, to my sister and brother in law for hosting, and to the people of United Airlines for attempting to help.  Well wait…I take that last part back.  No thanks to United’s tiny plane with NO changing table in the bathroom.  Because sitting on the toilet seat and changing your baby’s diaper on your lap while the bathroom door is open because there’s no room otherwise sucks.  But thanks to the lady sitting a foot away from said open bathroom door for not minding, and even keeping Little A entertained while it all took place.

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    Hope the summer’s treating you well, everyone.  Tell me about your latest adventure, in OR out of state!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 73- Possibility Playground

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    A change of scenery is always welcome, so when the opportunity to meet up with some family at Possibility Playground in Port Washington came up, we jumped at it.  The playground is “universally accessible” so kids with all abilities can enjoy the fun.  And as a bonus, it has a fence around the playground and only one entrance/exit.  So if you have a circus of children, it’s easier to keep track of everyone.

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    The drive up to Port Washington wasn’t bad, I think it was 30 miles from door to destination.  Once we found the park, we made a stop at the (clean, yay!) bathrooms because the twins decided last week that they’re done with diapers.  Well, Little A did and J was all “uh, ok.  I guess I’ll be done too”.  In the two hours that we spent at the park, I schlepped all four kids into the family bathroom 5 times.

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    The playground was great!  There was a ton for them all to do (except Baby S, she spent the entire time strapped to my person because the ground was too hot for her to crawl around on).

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    A nice little girl even helped J get his shoes off for the sandbox.  And he proceeded to spend a solid 30 minutes in there not caring what else was going on around him.

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    I spoke with Dennis, a very nice gentleman who volunteers his time with the playground.  He stops by most days to sweep up sand and keep things looking good and safe.  He filled me in on the history of the playground and some insight into the community.  I was really happy to talk with such a genuine guy who cared deeply for kids, wanting them to have a safe and fun place to play.

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    Between trips to the bathroom, we set up shop for some lunch.  It was a pretty warm day in the sun, so the shaded picnic table was great.

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    My kids doted over their new baby cousin, munched on blueberries, and begged to get back to the playground.

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    Hats.  It was super sunny.

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    In our post-lunch round at the playground, we discovered the slide and climbing wall.

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    And then attempted another family photo.  I love it.  Who cares if you can see all of our faces, if other kids are in the shot, or if we’re giggling and trying to run away.  I like being able to vouch that we were all there, together.

    I love the idea of this playground.  It’s great to see people coming together to make sure kids of all abilities have a place to play.  And I appreciate that anyone is welcome to join in the fun.  Everyone I spoke with that day was willing to chat and share a smile, which made the trip even more worth it.

    We’ll be back for more adventures, and next time I’d like to explore some of the lighthouses that Barbara Ali mentioned in her blog.  Maybe even take some time to grab a bite to eat in the cute historic part of Port Washington, too!

    Hope the summer’s treating you all well.  As usual, I’d love to hear suggestions for place you frequent, want to check out, or have even just heard of.  Comment below and let me know your ideas!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 72- Sharehouse Goods, McBob’s Pub & Grill, and Fathead Jerky

    Now that The World Cup is over, I can post about a game we watched at McBob’s Pub and Grill!  First off, though, I stopped by Sharehouse Goods, because I had driven past it the week before and wondered what it’s all about.  Check out their Facebook page for more, but the basic gist is that they receive goods and sell them, creating jobs for folks who need them.  They also serve Stone Creek Coffee, and are next to Fathead Jerky (McBob’s newest endeavor…a store selling a wide variety of jerky, jellies, jams and bacon flavored popcorn).

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    The inside of Sharehouse is vibrant and filled with a great selection of gifts, household goods, and toys.

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    McBob’s is known for their Reuben sandwich, and has a well-deserved reputation for one of the best in town.  I’ve had a lot of food on the menu, and my only recommendation is to dine in.  Sandwiches such as theirs always taste best right upon completion.  We arrived at about 3pm, just in time for the USA v. Belgium soccer game.  It was the perfect place to watch…we got a spot right at the bar, and had delicious food and drinks while we cheered on our home team.

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    Please pardon the terrible picture above.  It does NO justice to the deliciousness of the Celtic Combo (a Scotch egg and Irish spring roll- the latter being an egg roll with a reuben inside).  We couldn’t keep ourselves from devouring the food, and by the time I snapped a shot it was all messy.  I believe Theo arranged the food and narrated “it’s fine, now you can tell that someone really wanted it”.

    The food was great and our drinks were tasty, and Earl the bartender took great care of us.  If only he could have rigged the game in our favor.

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    What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?

    Till next time!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 71- Summerfest

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    A friend suggested we see Ray LaMontagne at opening night of Summerfest, and I happened to win free tickets from Miltown Moms (which is a great resource for moms, and you should definitely check out) the day before.  I can’t tell you the last time I was at Summerfest, but I can assure you it was more than a decade ago!  We parked in some free parking downtown, then paid $1 and hopped on one of the busses heading to Summerfest.

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    Now don’t get me wrong, I love Ray LaMontagne (my dear friend Jessamy even sang one of his songs at our wedding), but it was somehow too mellow.  Maybe it was because I haven’t listened to too much of his music since his second album, and I was surprised at how psychedelic it sounded.  We stayed for a few songs, but ended up leaving that stage and walking around.  I should add that it was way colder than any of us dressed for, so part of the motivation was to keep warm.

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    Because I’m apparently an old lady, I basically just gawked at drunk folks and how short teenage girls’ shorts were.   My friends and I stopped at one stage that had country music, and then ended up upon Trombone Shorty.

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    This was definitely the musical highlight for me.  I let go of feeling embarrassed about dancing, and got my groove on to some seriously good music.  The crowd was having a blast, myself included.   I’d go back to see Trombone Shorty ANY day!

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    Next we stopped to see Neon something or other, a band which my friends had heard of.  Mostly in the context of “my niece loves this song!” or “yeah I think this is on the radio”.  They were doing a Pixies cover, and I’m pretty sure much of the audience didn’t know it was a cover.  But the next few songs were alright and then we realized it was almost midnight.

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    We made it back to the bus with a million other people, and got dropped off near the car.  It was pretty easy to get to/from the grounds, and worth it to go.  There are of course a ton of bands I’d like to see, but this night will probably be my only attendance at Summerfest for this year.

    Any of you been to Summerfest this year?  Who did/do you want to see?

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 70- S/V Denis Sullivan, Sail & Fireworks

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    Happy Fourth of July, everyone!  Hope you’re celebrating and relaxing.  I wanted to tell you that last night, Theo and I met some friends at the Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan for a 2 hour sail on Lake Michigan.  It’s been approximately four years since we’ve seen fireworks, so this was a much awaited adventure.

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    When we boarded, we met with the ship’s captain, Carlos.  He gave us an amusing but serious set of instructions and expectations for the sail.  As it turns out, he’s a really interesting guy who was incredibly easy to talk to.

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    One of the crew members brought her dog Brody on the trip, and he was a busy guy, checking out everything and everyone on and near the ship.

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    We made our way out of the harbor surrounding Discovery World, and set sail on the fairly calm water.

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    This picture of Theo relaxing pretty much sums up the feeling of the sail.  A nice breeze kept us moving calmly, and I felt like we were in a hammock.

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    We had some great conversations with the captain and crew members.  I was surprised to know that most of the crew live on the ship and spend the winters maintaining the boat.  Everyone we talked to was kind and genuine, and willing to share their experience with us…

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    …even if they didn’t want to be photographed…

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    We were served Purple Door Ice Cream, as a 4th of July bonus.  Have you had their salted caramel?  Do it.  It’s amazing.  That’s really all I need to tell you.

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    When we headed back into the harbor, there were a million other boats getting set up to watch the fireworks.  Carlos navigated the path and we docked right were se started.  At first, I thought the view of fireworks would be obstructed by the masts, but the minute they started I shut my mouth.  It was a great view!

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    After the show ended, we made our way through the sea of people leaving downtown.  For the future, I’ll never drive or walk to see fireworks at the lakefront again.  Biking would be the only tolerable way to leave.

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    What about you, what are you doing to celebrate this weekend?  I’d love to hear.

    So happy holiday, all.  Enjoy!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 69- Tosa Farmers Market

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    While Little T was at her cousins’ house for a sleepover (click here for a post about her adventure), I took the other three kids to the Tosa Farmers Market.  It’s amazing how having one less child to watch after changes the vibe!

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    After running into our neighbors and chatting near the railroad tracks, we headed in to take a look at the goods.  We marveled at the green lettuce, drooled over the real strawberries (not those giant barely-red ones that are abundant in the grocery store), and purchased some fresh eggs.

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    After taking a lap to see all the vendors, we stopped to listen to some delightful music.

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    Claire Kelly was the musician that day, and my favorite was her version of “Toxic” by Brittany Spears.  I actually ended up meeting Claire at the Radio Milwaukee Studio Session a few days after this trip, and she’s a really lovely person.  We chatted about her internship at the radio station, and she hooked up my kids with stickers and buttons.

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    Since it was time for “second breakfast” (anyone else’s kids hungry like an hour after breakfast?), we stopped at the Blue’s Egg stand and got an order of pancakes for the twins to share.  And since I was too busy feeding kids their first breakfast and forgot to feed myself, I got the polenta business. complete with an egg and creole sauce on top.  I’m sure the dish has an actual name, but that’s the best I can do.  It was amazing by the way.   We heard a train passing by and J couldn’t contain himself, yelling “CHOO CHOO!!!!!”.

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    After making another lap, we took my good friend Kate’s advice (because she has young kids and basically knows everything about this city, a great combo) and went down to the river to throw rocks in the water and wave at trains.  The pictures below are the only evidence of J and Little A having any special “twin connection” that people always ask me about, as their waving hands are in sync.

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    J and Little A had a blast throwing rocks.  We spent probably 20 minutes talking about trains and seeing how far they could toss stones.  And we also just hung out in silence, because being a two year old takes a lot of concentration.  It was a great morning, and I think we all enjoyed switching up the family dynamic a bit.  Little T got some special time with her cousins, and the twins got a bit more attention from me.  And of course Baby S is the most chill and happy baby ever, so she isn’t complaining.

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    Do you guys have any suggestions for other farmers markets in the Milwaukee area?  I’ve been meaning to hit up the West Allist market forever, but I’m sure there are many more worth checking out.  I’d love to hear your favorites.

    Thanks for reading,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 68- Sonny Knight & The Lakers at Stonefly Brewery

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    As a follow up to Friday’s post about seeing Sonny Knight and The Lakers at Radio Milwaukee, here are a few photos from the show at Stonefly Brewery that night.

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    First up was DJ Andy Noble…

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    Next on stage was Kid Millions & The Sounds of Time.  You’ve probably heard this on Radio Milwaukee, but here’s their newest single, In The Graveyard.  It was upbeat and solid dancing (or at least head bobbing for those not willing to break it down on the dance floor) music, and you KNOW I love a good hook, so I was a fan.

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    Sonny Knight was next up, after a nice hype up session by The Lakers.  The set was non-stop, one song led directly into another.  Sonny sang his heart out on stage and everyone was grooving to the tunes.If you don’t know his story, he recorded his first song at the age of 17.  He then served in Vietnam, got back into music in the 70′s with the band Haze, then made his living as a truck driver, then back to music with The Valdrons, and eventually met Eric Foss and started his own band.  Whew!  His new album “I’m Still Here” just released and is worth picking up.

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    Afterwards, the band stuck around to say hi and sign records.  Sonny was gracious and genuine, and complimented my husband on having a precious bunch of kids.  The band is on tour and seems to be a great group of guys.  I was tempted to bring them homemade cookies and chili because they were so nice and I know their schedule is pretty full with performances.

    Best wishes on tour, boys.  And thanks for a great show!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 67- Sonny Knight & The Lakers Studio Session at Radio Milwaukee

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    This just happened, like an hour ago.  I won entrance to Radio Milwaukee’s Studio Session with Sonny Knight and The Lakers, but couldn’t find a sitter.  So I took the kids with me!  The lovely folks at Radio Milwaukee were totally fine with me bringing my four kids to a live recording.

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    We stopped at Stone Creek to get a special treat of lemonade and a chocolate chip cookie.  Because it was nap time and there’s nothing smarter than pumping your kids full of sugar right before a radio show.

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    The intro was full of soul and horns, and eventually Mr. Sonny Knight came on stage to give us all he had.

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    And we danced!  Check out this video of the girls.

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    I ran into Claire Kelly, who we saw at the Tosa Farmers Market last weekend.  Check back in a few days for a post on that.

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    The kids had a blast, didn’t cause a scene, and are now sporting some sweet Radio Milwaukee buttons!  We’ll happily be their new poster child(ren).

    The show was so fun that my husband and I are heading to the show at Stonefly Brewing tonight.  So all you Milwaukee people, get your babysitters in line and we’ll see you in Riverwest tonight!!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 66- Northpoint Custard & The Lakefront

    Welcome my first guest blogger!  Meet my sister-in-law Lisa Slama.  She, my brother, and their two young boys live on Milwaukee’s northern shore.  They are a family who loves to be outside, ride bikes, enjoy the city’s fine beer culture, work hard, and spend time with neighbors and friends.  This past weekend, they helped me out by having Little T over at their place (my husband’s currently working around the clock so I can use all the help I can get).  Keep an eye out for more guest blogging from this family of mine.

    Schools out for summer!  It’s time for extended bedtime, lots of outdoor play, and cousin sleepovers.  And nothing, and I mean nothing, beats summer in Milwaukee.  Friday we invited little cousin T over for a sleepover.  She’s a big commodity in our house with my two boys, and after some “discussion” of whose bed she would sleep in, we decided everyone would go to the guest bed.  Worked like a charm. 

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    Saturday seemed the perfect day to get down to the lakefront, grab some burgers, and enjoy the view.  So, I packed up her and my two boys (all ages 4-5) to check out Northpoint.  We arrived early, like 11:15 early, so finding parking and a lunch spot wasn’t too hard. All kids enjoyed their cheeseburgers and tots and we decided to try our hand at feeding the ducks.

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    My neighbor had recommended this outing, but I failed to ask where to go for optimal duck feeding.  Turns out I had the wrong spot (FYI, apparently good duck feeding is at/near the Milwaukee Yacht Club).  We navigated down some big rocks and set up shop near, but near enough, the ducks.  We tried our hardest to throw the bread far, but at the end of the day these ducks were just not motivated to come near us.

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    Kids lost interest so we packed up.  Who knew that the rock climbing back up would be the highlight of the trip?  These kids were pretty proud of getting up “rock mountain” all by themselves.

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    We explore North Point a bit, stopping to play on some non-playground structure things, and enjoying the views.

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    The kids did great and a quick stop for ice cream seemed in the cards.  All is ok with the world when you got ice cream, hot fudge, and sprinkles….and pretty awesome cousins.

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    We are newer to Milwaukee and haven’t explored too much of the lakefront.  Next time we’ll pack up the bikes and check out more of the scene.  My goal is to hit some of the outdoor movies at Veterans Park (probably sans kids), various fairs and festivals, and taking in some kite flying.

    Keep up the great work, Amber.  What a great resource for us all!

    -Lisa

  • Chapter 65- Milwaukee County Zoo

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    Remember how when I was on The Morning Blend (round two), I was all “we do a lot of foreshadowing and it helps our adventures to be successful”?  Yeah well I didn’t do that before our trip to the zoo last week.

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    We met a group of friends (we were four moms with ten kids total) and joined every other child in the Milwaukee area at the zoo.  None of my friends or I realized that it was the last day of school and every field trip would be to our same destination.  It took one of my friends 30 minutes of sitting in line to enter the parking lot!

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    We explored the Learning Zone for the first time.  It’s right behind the flamingos and is a small building where you can actually see veterinarians doing exams and procedures on animals.  WOW!

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    That day, some bats were getting eye exams.

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    We saw monkeys, giraffes, elephants, a badger, polar bears and something that screeched really loudly.

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    The big kids talked us into letting them do the pony rides.  Of course they had the time of their lives and wanted only to do other rides and get souvenirs and ride the carousel a million times.  More on that later…  But the two year olds of the bunch did a great job watching and not fussing about just watching.

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    Hello peacock!

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    We found a random picnic table somewhere near the farm section and unpacked lunches.  I’d say 50% of us nibbled on food while the other 50% spent time running with sticks and having general foot races.

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    I got a snapshot with my oldest and youngest girls.

    And then the exit.  One of my friends bailed before we even got to the carousel because her kids were melting.  I should have seen it as a sign.

    I went back and forth about letting them take a ride because it was close to nap and I was hot and flustered and I knew they’d never want to stop.  But as a personality test I recently took described me, I “never want to miss out on fun”, so I said “sure!”.  I ushered all my kids on during the busy loading up process, and was too late.  Every animal was taken except for one, and Little A threw the biggest stink so she got to ride on a horsey (yes I know that sucks for Little T and J who were easy going about it all).  Little T and J were actually super happy to sit on the swan bench.  I tried to manage spotting Little A while keeping an eye on the other two.  Baby S was a champ as per usual, and did just find strapped to my sweating body.

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    The picture above show us all smilng, which was very representative of the ride.  However, once it stopped and they realized we’d have to go, madness ensued.  I calmly walked out with a parade of screaming children.  It persisted the entire way until we got into the car.  There were so many kind parents who looked at me with “I feel your pain, lady” eyes, and some who even encouraged me to stay strong.

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    We loaded ourselves into the car and this is what I got to look at, with cries of “but I wanted another ride!” and “waaaaaaahhhhh!”

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    But a minute later we were all calm and talking about how we’d try it again next time.  And Little A was asleep before we even left the parking lot, J followed soon after.

    I described the morning as awesome and terrible to my husband.  And later that day while we were on a walk, I realized that that’s pretty much every adventure/trip out of the house.  Parts are amazing and fun, and the kids surprise every person they encounter with their good behavior.  And parts are awful and loud and ridiculous and incredibly frustrating (for us all).  But that’s sort of the game, isn’t it?  One trip is terrible/amazing.  Others are straight up fun and successful.  And others are overwhelming disasters.  But it evens out.

    A special shout out to my friends who I love, who help me with my kids on these adventures.  You know who you are and I thank you for chasing after my kids and distracting them when my hands are full and not making me feel bad about it.  I’ll do the same for you when I can.

    A. Storm