• Chapter 83- Cross The Rock (Cyclocross Bike Race)

    In cyclocross, bikers race through laps of rough terrain, steep hills, and obstacles in a timed event.  Races generally last between 30-60 minutes depending on the course, and the season runs fall through winter (making weather a huge factor in the difficulty of the event…check out last winter’s post about some below zero action!).  I think the sport started as a way for road racers to train in the off season, and has taken off in the US as an exciting and somehow extreme AND relaxed sport.  I say that because the vibe is all-out athleticism combined with an air of casual fun.  Some racers train intensely, while others are more laid-back in their approach.

    cc10

    Now that you’ve got the background…In the upcoming article for Metroparent Magazine (coming out in October), I mention attending a sport as a fun thing to do with your kids this fall.  And this is our version.  On a day with “scattered thunderstorms”, I packed up my four kids and headed to watch a Cyclocross bike race at The Rock in Franklin.

    cc6

    After cheering on my brother as he tagged off to his relay partner, we walked around the sports complex and course a little, watching the other racers and asking questions about why the bikers were going so fast and up hills and getting off their bikes.  But mostly, we played with rocks.

    cc7

    And cheered on uncle Chris!

    cc9

    And found more rocks.

    cc11

    About half way through the race, the wind picked up.  Like, really picked up.

    cc8 cc2

    And before we knew it, it was downpouring.  We ran to our car and huddled inside and tried to dry off with a teeny tiny towel I just happen to have in my sweet ride.  It’s times like this I’m glad we have a minivan to more or less play in while the weather sucks.  I should mention that people KEPT RACING in this weather.  Remember the hard-core parts I described above?

    cc3

    Though we didn’t tough it out to watch the rest of my brother’s race, we caught up with him afterwards.  The kids yelled things like “good job!” and “I’m cold!” and “why is it so wet outside?” to him as we drove away (to Kopp’s, because my kids were champs and deserved some custard).

    XC0

    There are lots of free upcoming races that anyone is welcome to attend.  Find a spot near some obstacles so you can see the racers either master or fail the hurdles, sand/mud pits, stairs, and wood chips.  Because both falling and being extremely agile aren’t uncommon.

    And if you’re looking for a few other ideas of things to do this fall, get your hands on Metroparent’s October issue to read my article.  OR, tune in to The Morning Blend tomorrow morning at 9am to see me chat with the ladies about the article.  Wish me luck, all!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 82- East Troy Electric Railroad

    rr

    This picture is was taken after a frantic car-unloading session and mad dash to the train that was waiting on us.  I was late to meet my friends at The Elegant Farmer to catch the East Troy electric train.  You see, there’s a Bermuda Triangle that exists for me.  It’s the highway system just south of Milwaukee.  I’m generally on top of things when it comes to navigation.  Ask any of my friends, they’ll confirm that I’d be a pretty good taxi driver. But I don’t travel on 894 very often, and when I do, I apparently drive around the entire city to get to East Troy.

    rr13

    But back to the adventure.  I met four friends with their seven children (that makes 5 adults and 11 children total) and we hopped on the train.  It started down the track and my kids sat wide-eyed because it was such a whirlwind getting boarded, that they didn’t really know what was happening.  I spent the 15 minutes or so that it took to get to the East Troy Depot talking with my friend Kate who I hadn’t really seen all summer (how did it fly by so quickly?!).

    rr23

    When we got to the depot, we unloaded and set up shop outside on the lawn and ate each other’s packed lunches and ran around.

    rr1   rr5 rr6 rr7 rr8

    We ate cheese curds and ran some more.  We had grand plans of touring the depot, but the kids preferred to run up and down the giant grassy hills.  So unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything about the depot.  Before we knew it, the train was heading back to The Elegant Farmer and we needed to try and snap a pic of all the kids.

    rr10

    Good effort, at least.

    rr14

    All sixteen of us got back on the train, after some confusion about purchasing tickets inside the depot while part of our crew snuck onto the train.  I’ll say that it was much more expensive than I thought it would be, but luckily for me I had most of my kids under age three which made a difference.  I guess the saving factor in the ticket price is that you can get unlimited rides all day.  We didn’t have the luxury of having much time before naps/meltdowns, so it was just the one roundtrip ride for us.

    rr11

    I don’t have too many photos from the actual train ride because it was pretty hectic, as you can imagine with that many kids sharing like two seats.  rr25 rr12 rr16

    A nice gentleman attempted to bestow some knowledge upon us about the rich history and landscape, but 11 kids don’t really facilitate a good listening situation.

    rr18

    When we got back to the Elegant Farmer, we decided to splurge and get a treat for the kids because they were so awesome and it was summer.  I went inside to get a few cookies while the kids played with sticks and looked for bugs and followed around the big kid of the group.

    rr17 rr19

    While I was inside, I drooled over these pies baked in a paper bag.  If you get the chance, these pies are amazing.  And their GIANT cookies aren’t bad either!

    rr20 rr21

    After saying goodbye to the next departing train, we studied some more bugs, had some serious face-to-face conversations (see second pic below) and hung out as long as we could before kids started to lose it.

    rr22 rr26

    The railroad has regularly schedule weekend trips through November 2, and offers special dining and holiday train rides as well.  We’ll pair it up with an apple or pumpkin picking adventure at the Elegant Farmer next time, and skip naps so we can spend all day riding the train.  I’m sure the conductors are looking forward to our return.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 81- Hunger Task Force Farm

    htf24

    (My friend Raina Johnson wrote a piece for Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service about this adventure, as she’s a freelance writer and fellow Metroparent blogger.  It’s also been picked up by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    I was invited by Metroparent Magazine to have a tour and volunteer session at The Hunger Task Force Farm a few weeks ago.  After I asked “you know I have four kids under age five, right?” and still got the ok, I packed up my kids and drove to Franklin for some fun in the dirt.

    htf22 htf1

    Amy Wallner and Dana Hartenstein welcomed us, and gave us a quick run down of the farm.  I’ll just tell you that Hunger Task Force serves over 50,000 meals per month, helps over 35,000 people at their food pantries per month, and delivers Stockboxes to 9,000 seniors each month.  Last year they delivered over 10.3 MILLION pounds of food to local pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

    Volunteering at the farm is for kids ages 16 and up, but since this was a special group outing, my young kids got to help out and got assigned to picking swiss chard and kale.  Little T and Little A took it upon themselves to carry a bin to our raised garden bed of greens, and we started out by identifying which are good and bad leaves.

    htf htf2htf3

    For anyone who is wondering, bad kale leaves have small holes in them and have lost the purplish color to the stems.

    htf4

    Here’s an opportunity for me to tell you how amazing this farm is.  The Hunger Task Force got into the farming business because they were presented with a unique opportunity to lease the 200 acres from Milwaukee County.  They employ 5 full-time farm employees and have created a successful farm with the help from community volunteers.

    Dana Hartenstein, Communications Manager form Hunger Task Force gave me the scoop: “We researched fruits and vegetables that would grow during a Wisconsin summer and were able to come up with a variety of over 20 different options. Seeds are planted in our greenhouse in spring and transplanted into the fields when they’re ready. We have a schedule that leads to a long harvest season so we are able to deliver fresh produce longer. The fresh fruits and vegetables replace canned options at our soup kitchens, food pantries and senior centers which creates a win all the way around. Our clients enjoy greater variety in their diet, healthier options than canned and we are able to reserve non-perishable canned fruits and vegetables to use during winter months when fresh is no longer available.”

    Pretty good stuff, eh?

    htf5 htf7

    Tomatoes are Little T’s favorite veggie, so she joined the crew over there and sampled some of the delicious cherry tomatoes.

    htf8 htf9 htf10

    Some of the haul we harvested.

    htf6 htf11

    Dana and Amy  took us around the farm a bit, and we proceeded to run up and down hills because that’s pretty much all my kids want to do.

    htf12 htf15

    And then we saw the goats!  The goats help keep invasive species at bay, and keep the grasses “mowed”, while providing some decent entertainment to kids as well.

    htf14 htf16

    Three out of five looking at the camera…not bad!

    htf17 htf18 htf19

    Little T wanted her turn at holding the camera, and took the above photo of her baby sister, who she adores like no other.

    htf13

    People often ask how I manage to take four young kids out on adventures.  And here’s my secret: I am lucky to have people like Dana, who help me along the way.  Above, she’s showing the kids a toad she spotted.  And below, she’s escorting Little A back to our group after falling behind.

    htf20 htf21

    And she helped lift Little A up so she could see the fish, a task I couldn’t perform because I had one kid on my back and was pushing a stroller.

    htf23

    The experience was really refreshing.  We got to play in dirt, walk outside, see animals, and learn about a community organization.  I’m always looking for ways to get my kids thinking about people and the world outside of our home, and this was a great way to do so.  I hope you’ve learned a little more about Hunger Task Force along side of me, and can find a way to stay connected and help out such a great effort.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 80- Skyline Music Series

    skyline

    If you can access a calendar and read my blog, you will get a sense of my timeline currently.  That said, a few weeks ago was the last in the Skyline Music Series.  I’d been wanting to go to more free concerts this summer, and with it being the last chance to see one at Kadish Park, I packed up a picnic dinner and headed out with the kids.

    skyline15 skyline1

    The COA Youth and Family Centers puts on this awesome series, and provided some wonderful and  handouts (Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and other books, finger puppets, and more) to the kids.  If you’re not familiar with the COA, please check them out and find ways to support the organization.  They do some amazing things for the community!

    skyline16

    Now I can’t honestly tell you much about the above picture.  I can tell you that Shannon from the Milwaukee Art Museum was there doing her thing…getting kids involved in art and assisting in kids projects.  At the time of this photo I was either wrangling two year olds to the potty or sweating my butt off pushing a stroller up a hill.  I don’t know, but I remember just passing by and saying hi to Shannon and saying “I’ll see you this fall!” for the MAM Play Dates with Art.

    skyline3

    Anyway, J chose our spot to set up camp and we unloaded our dinner of pesto quesadillas (we eat this like 4x/week), refried beans, chips and raspberries.  Everyone proceeded to munch on food before the music started.

    skyline4 skyline5

    And once the The Urban Empress and the Urbanites took stage, the dancing began!

    skyline6 skyline7

    The kids definitely approve of reggae music (good thing, because it’s often on our record player at home), and felt free to dance in the lawn/on the sidewalk/anywhere they could find space.  We made friends with a very nice woman names Stacey and her two kids, and danced some more.

    skyline8 skyline9 skyline10 skyline14

    Most of the kids at the concert spent a good portion of the evening going up and down these steps.  Because I had a baby strapped to my body, and was busy dancing and working up a sweat, I kept thinking “please don’t fall and smack your face on those steps” over and over in my head.   And nobody did!

    skyline11 skyline12 skyline13

    I’m so glad I made it to one concert, and am definitely looking forward to more next summer.  This was a really family-friendly event, and included so much of what I value: free outside fun, dancing, community, meeting new people, and feel good music.  See you next year Skyline, see you next year.

    Anyone else out there have a free concert or series they recommend?  I’m starting my bucket list for next year already…

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 79- The Original Wailers at Shank Hall

    wailers

    Thanks to my favorite radio station 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, I won free tickets to see The Original Wailers at Shank Hall last week.  When I called in, DJ Marcus Doucette and I talked briefly about my name, my birthday, my phone number (all are pretty unusual) and my knack for winning things.   I tend to be lucky with things like this and other small or insignificant things.  But after my conversation, I decided to buy a lottery ticket.  No luck though, I did not become a millionaire in the past week.

    wailers2

    Back to the show…I got my friend Margo to come with me, and we arrived late (I can actually blame it on lack of parking from construction.  Well that and we both had a bunch of kids to get down for bed before we could leave home) and grabbed a drink.   The music was great, a lot of Bob Marley songs and some original.   The lead singer, Chet Samuels, had a smooth voice, and didn’t sound to be imitating Bob Marley or anything.  He had his own mellow style.  Howard Smith was on drums, and though I know nothing about percussion, I thought his playing was tight and on point.

    wailers4

    Al Anderson was on lead guitar and during a small intermission, serenaded us all with some “noodling” (improv and continuous solo playing).

    IMG_2287

    I was really impressed with everyone, but in particular the bass player Rohan Reid (pictured above).  His solo was incredible!  It was clear that he branches out from doing Raggae and plays jazz and other styles of music.

    wailers3

    After a while of just hanging out in the back and watching, my friend turned to me and asked why we weren’t out on the floor dancing.   It was clear that much of the crowd was having a good time but felt self-conscious about dancing.  So we abandoned our drinks and made our way to the front of the crowd and danced like ladies I made fun of at one point in my life.

    wailers5

    Thanks Radio Milwaukee for the tickets!  It was a great chance to get out and see some of what the city has to offer.

    wailers6

    What about you?  Have you seen any good shows lately?  Are you coming to Quarters to see ROM (my friend’s band) with me on Sept 26?

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 78- Gilles Frozen Custard

    gilles4

    It was a day when Little T was on a Special Date with Theo, and I needed to get out of the house with the other kids.  I packed them up and we drove to Gilles Frozen Custard, a place I remember going to when I was a kid (keep in mind I grew up two hours north of Milwaukee).  You see, when you have a dad who loves ice cream as much as mine, you spend a bit of time at places like Gilles, Leon’s, Dairy Queen and anything in between.

    gilles21 gilles23

    We ordered burgers and grilled cheese, and scored a table outside.  The folks next to us had 7 children with them, and I felt the tables turned a little. It’s usually other people who are gawking at the huge number of young children I’ve taken out in public.  But this time, I did the gawking.  And offering kind eyes when the parents were frustrated with one of their kids who had requested vanilla custard after she’d already put in the order for and received her chocolate custard.

    gilles22

    Baby S looks like a muppet here.  Blame it on her first taste of grilled cheese.

    gilles20 gilles7

    The custard was a pretty big hit with the twins.

    gilles6 gilles19

    Not so much of a hit with the baby.  Her first taste of custard didn’t go so well (don’t tell my dad).

    gilles17 gilles18 gilles8

    The twins couldn’t really fathom why I didn’t get any custard.  The words “I don’t really like ice cream that much” simply didn’t register.  Probably because they were already on their sugar high and starting to climb parking structures.  So we walked around the lot a little and took a few photos.

    gilles11 gilles10gilles13 gilles14 gilles9 gilles15 gilles16 gilles12

    And then, because a parking lot is a terrible place to hang out with your two year old twins while they’re all hopped up on sugar, we found a playground near by.

    gilles gilles1 gilles2

    And ran.  And ran.  And peed on a tree (anyone else in the midst of potty training?).  And ran.

    And if the pictures don’t do it, here’s a video: run

    Hope you’re enjoying the last bit of summer here, and good luck to all the kids (and parents) with families heading back to school!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 77- Doors Open Milwaukee (Volunteer Orientation)

    do10

    For the past few years, I’d hear about Doors Open Milwaukee as it was happening and wish I had coordinated my life so I could attend.  The idea of the event is to open up buildings in Milwaukee to the public, free of cost, for one weekend.  Check out their website for a list of over 150 buildings at which you could get a closer look.

    This year I decided to sign up to volunteer so I wouldn’t miss the weekend.  Volunteers hang out at one of the sites for a 4 hour shift and greet people entering the building.  And for just those 4 hours, you get to be a part of this cool event AND get a special volunteer badge which lets you enter some of the more popular sites through a separate “volunteer only” line.

    do9

    So this morning, after a night of food poisoning, I got myself together by stopping by Rocket Baby Bakery to grab a coffee and croissant, and then met up with other volunteers at the Central Library.

    do8 do1

    We met up in the Centennial Hall, and got a briefing on expectations and details.

    do2 do3

    Volunteer Coordinator Melinda Kallenberger gave us the run down, and also informed us that they’re still looking for over 100 volunteers for the event!  People, stop reading my blog right now and visit the site to get in touch with Melinda and let her know you’ll sign up for one 4 hour shift on Saturday September 20 or Sunday the 21st!

    do4

    Afterwards, we got our location assignments (I’ll be in the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Dome Theater), chatted with other volunteers, and fell in love with the new GLOW IN THE DARK t-shirts for sale:

    do11

    do5

    This is a family-friendly event, too.  A free kids’ passport is available to get your young ones involved in exploring their city.

    do7

    I’ll post more about the event after it happens, but I’m so excited to finally check this out.  I hope you can carve out 4 hours of your time to sit and greet people who are hoping to learn more about the city.  Stay tuned for my experience with the weekend, and I’d love to hear if you’ve volunteered or attended before.  Please share!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 76- Governor Dodge State Park and more (Travel Edition)

    IMG_4941

    You see the time on that clock?  It’s 6:45PM.  And that’s what time we finally left Milwaukee for the two hour drive to Governor Dodge State Park for a few nights of tent camping.  Just 6 hours and 45 minutes late.

    IMG_4939

    Because my husband is a genius, and because the above picture is of Little A passed out before we even left Milwaukee County, he suggested we stay in a hotel that night and ease our way into camping.  The kids were beyond excited once we arrived at some crappy Super 8, because “MOM!!! There’s a tiny coffee maker!!!!  And little soap and a tiny fridge and a COFFEE MAKER!  You want coffee?  Here you go.  Papa, you want coffee?”

    DSC02623 DSC02626 IMG_4949

    I’d read recently some great ideas and tips on traveling with kids, and had visions of neatly packaged snacks and toys and car games.  But instead, we piled in the car with blankies and water bottles.  That’s pretty much it.  So when it came to bedtime, Theo happened to have Harry Potter in his bag (of all the books he was going to read while on vacation…yeah right) and that was their bedtime story.

    camp

    The next morning, we headed to our site at the park and set up camp.  Little T, Little A and J got one tent, while the rest of us got the other.

    camp5 camp6 camp2 camp1

    Accommodations were great, mosquitos were minimal, and shade was a plenty.

    camp12 camp8 camp9

    Our Eno hammock (highly recommend that to anyone in the market for one.  Just make sure to get the double so you can fit a million kids into it) fit nicely between some trees, and we all took turns relaxing (or roughhousing) in it.

    camp10 camp21

    My oldest went on a hike and brought me back a special rock and a clover.  It was pretty much the sweetest.

    camp13

    I was sort of dreading sleeping in tents.  Not because I’d be uncomfortable, but because kids would be out of their element and potentially NOT sleep.  But for the most part, people slept when they should have.

    camp11 camp14

    Bagheera joined me on a few of the trips I took back up to the ranger station to do things like get firewood and inquire about ice.  He’s the best dog ever and I could go on and on about him, but that’s really all you need to know.

    camp15 camp16 camp20

    This peaceful moment was brought to you by a few mugs of wine and my husband who took the kids on a car ride (all were either approaching or already in meltdown mode).   He was gone for much longer than I anticipated, and everything was packed in the car with him (except said wine and mug), so I got a little weird.  I’d spent enough time in the hammock, stoked the fire, threw some rocks, and found the only logical next step to take pictures of myself jumping off things.  So here you go.

    camp17 camp19 camp18 camp22

    The next day, Uncle Wow (Will) and Auntie Brave (Rae) joined us and we went to the lake to swim, play games, and eat ice cream.

    camp23 camp24 camp25 camp26 camp38

    Little T picked up my camera to take some photos of us playing a game.  I have no idea what it’s called but it involves a frisbee and a drink in your hand.  I’ll just let her pictures explain.

    camp36 camp27 camp40 camp35 camp39 camp41 camp37 camp28

    We hung out at the beach and Little A proved she’s fearless.  She’ll be swimming soon, while her twin preferred to play in the “sandbox”.

    camp29 camp31

    Back at the campsite Uncle Wow broke out a huge red balloon and my kids had a blast with it for 5 minutes until they popped it.

    camp32 camp33 camp30 camp34 camp42

    At the end of the camping trip, we packed up and kept heading west to the Driftless area to visit some family for a few days.

    camp48 camp54

    Here are some wildflowers Little T picked for me.  She’s such a sweetheart.

    camp44

    We camped out at the cabin that Theo built back when we moved back to WI from Seattle.  It’s a beautiful place up on a hill, surrounded by trails and flowers and ferns galore.  We’re excited to spend more time there, and make some memories for our kids.

    camp43

    Oh, and not only can my husband make things like cabins, he makes a mean pudgie pie grilled cheese sandwich and cup of coffee for breakfast.

    camp46

    The above picture is of Theo taking the big three to the Sound of Music hill, and treating them to some chocolate.  I have a feeling that Hershey’s bar was accompanied by some words of love and adoration.

    camp47 camp50

    Back at my sister in law’s house, we gathered with more family for some cousin time.  And let me tell you, that motorcycle pictured is a hit!

    camp51 camp52 camp53 camp55

    Our old neighbors and dear friends stopped by the cabin to eat some corn and try and keep kids out of trouble.  We were pretty successful at both endeavors (minus some mystery slivers).

    camp56 camp57 camp58 camp59 camp60

    It was a great week.  Not all parts were super relaxing or easy, but it was great to spend time outside and see some people we love.

    We’re now home trying to recover from a few cases of croup and ear infections.  But hey, at least it happened now instead of while camping!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 75- Wisconsin State Fair

    sf22

    I came away with two things after visiting the Wisconsin State Fair today: I probably won’t eat meat anymore, and the advantage of having a screaming child is that you can keep track of them really easily in a sea of people.

    Oh yeah, and also I vow not to do this again next year.  So when I get all excited and say things like “It’ll be fine!  I’ll just go right when they open at 8am and prep my kids for no rides/prizes/games just animals and maybe some food.  We’ll be in and out and everyone will have fun”, direct me back to memories of numerous looks of annoyance and pity from folks walking past me.   And my circus of children screaming at me for things like flushing their pee down the potty instead of letting THEM do it.  Seriously.

    It wasn’t all bad, though.  Here are the highlights:

    sf sf1 sf3 sf5 sf6

    I love the giant slide, I really do.  If it were like $1 a ride, I’d be on it all day.  All the kids went down except for Baby S (I should add that my brother in law and his girlfriend came with me, so don’t worry, I didn’t leave the baby with a stranger while I went on rides).  And remember the “no rides” comment above?  Well I didn’t make it clear that I made an exception for myself (totally unfair, I know).  And it came back to sting me later when we couldn’t go on the bungee rides.

    sf4

    After the slide, we went to see the pigs.

    sf7

    And man, are they lazy.

    sf8

    Next we went to the poultry and rabbit barn.

    sf9 sf10 sf11

    This dude was not please that I was taking his photo.  Either that or the fact that he was in a small cage.

    sf12 sf13

    This rooster caused some distress with Little T.  She was really worried that J was getting too close because the rooster “looked a little bit dangerous”.

    sf14

    Little A liked the “tiny dinosaurs”.

    sf15

    And we saw chicks hatching!!!!

    chicks sf16 sf24

    We were hungry, and stopped in a shady spot to share a corn dog.

    sf26 sf17 sf25

    The delightful image that popped into my mind as my kids ravenously ate the hot dog and cornbread combo was from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  It’s after Jen wakes up from being dehydrated, starving and exhausted from riding in the desert, and Lo hands her some sort of meat on a stick and she gnaws into the food, barely coming up for air.

    sf18

    So naturally, we got cream puffs afterwards.

    sf19 sf20 sf21

    Then commenced the screaming because I committed the grave sin of wiping someone’s face when THEY wanted to do it.  So we packed up to go home and then everyone screamed because we were going home.  You guys get what kind of morning I’m talking about, right?

    And once home, we all napped.  HARD.

    Maybe in a few years it’ll be easier to navigate the fair with the kids.  But currently, with a 4 year old, 2 year old twins, and 9 month old, it’s not enjoyable enough to make it worth it.  How about you, did you make it to a fair this summer?  How was your experience?

    A. Storm

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

    bv

    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.

    bv1

    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:

    bv8

    We splashed in puddles and enjoyed the views,

    bv10 bv11

    rode bikes,

    bv3

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

    bv22

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

    bv23 bv4

    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!

    bv19 bv17 bv15 bv16

    Recognize this?  It’s by Jamie Heiden!

    bv18

    Original artwork by Angela.

    bv5

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

    bv6 bv9 bv14

    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…

    bv12 bv13

    Did I mention bikes?

    bv26

    And rocks.

    bv50 bv27

    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.

    bv31

    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.

    bv24 bv25

    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.

    bv20 bv29 bv21

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

    bv30 And so do the playgrounds.

    bv32

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

    bv33

    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.

    bv34 bv35 bv36

    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.

    bv37 bv39 bv40 bv38 bv41 bv42

    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.

    bv44

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

    bv45 bv52

    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.

    bv53 bv54 bv55

    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.

    bv51 bv56 bv28

    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.

    bv46 bv47 bv49

    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.

    bv57

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

    A. Storm