• Chapter 94 – Dia de los Muertos Parade

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    A few weeks ago, on a cold Saturday, I took the kids to see the Dia de los Muertos Parade at Walker’s Square Park.  I had forgotten that last year, Theo took the twins and Little T to it, while I stayed home with baby S who was just a few days old.  From what I gather, it was just as cold this year, but less rainy than last.

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    We arrived after the parade had wrapped up, but I heard from friends who were on an opposite schedule that the parade was great.  By the time the Storm clan got there, a drum circle had formed with a huge crowd around it.  My kids were totally enthralled by the face paint, woman on stilts, and loud music.  Soon after, the Mexica/Aztec Danzas came out and the crowd made room in the center.

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    I had the stroller with me, so we had a hard time getting a good spot to watch, but luckily Little T was super brave and independent and took her younger sister to the front row (sort of within my sight).  Little T LOVED it all, but Little A was wary about the costumes and face paint.

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    After the dancing, there was a vigil for peace.  Community members got up to speak about uniting our community, supporting each other, and standing up for peace.  It was really meaningful to see so many different people get up and talk about the same message.  Unfortunately the kids were freezing and didn’t really understand everything, so their request for the playground guided our next move.

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    Here’s a pic of all four.  J had hit his limit and crashed in the stroller while we headed to the playground.  It was packed!  Lots of big and little kids climbing, running, sliding, and helping the littler kids out.

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    We snacked on some fries from a food truck, warmed our hands by a portable fire pit, and headed home.  I had meant to have the conversation about what Dia de los Muertos celebrates, but it was really difficult while managing four little kids.  I’m already looking forward to next year, and helping the kids understand the holiday…oh, and getting to this event in time for the parade.

    Hope you’re all staying warm out there!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 93- Milwaukee Art Museum’s Playdate with Art

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    Milwaukee Art Museum‘s Playdates with Art are back on the calendar, and we met up with our new friends of Ana & Zelli last month.

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    Little T’s school schedule got in the way, so we only got to hang out for an hour at the museum.  And as it turns out, an hour is not enough time to get to know a new person, guide your twin two-year-olds through an art project, and keep your baby from putting scissors in her mouth and bonking her head on the marble floor.

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    To add to the business of the morning, I happened to run into two friends and two MAM employees who we really enjoy.  Our MAM friend Jim chatted with us about the summer (Play Dates with Art don’t happen during the summer, and we didn’t make it to the museum much when it was nice out) and how big the kids have gotten since we last saw each other.  And Shannon, who works specifically with the Education/Kids/Family programs, told us about the new and exciting changes (the art studio is now open during the week AND has moved near the lobby!  Stop by the studio behind the Chihuly piece).

    And while we’re on the topic, you should know that the museum is under some major construction/renovation/remodeling.   Click here to see what’s still open and what’s closed until next year.

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    The project was really cool, and I was surprised how eagerly Little A wanted to roll ink on to her roller and make the feather print all by herself.   Now that I write that, though, I have no idea why I was surprised she wanted to do something ALL BY HERSELF.  We made prints of feathers on some fabric, and then cut our the feathers and attached them to elastic to create wings.  Because of the limited time and large quantity of small children in my group, I more or less assembled the wings for the twins before we heard the guitar beckoning our names.

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    Music time started and we made our way to grab some instruments, sing some songs, and dance around.

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    And before I knew it, we had to leave to get Little T from school.

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    We’re looking forward to coming back for more MAM events, and seeing more friends while we meet new ones.  Our trips to the MAM will change a bit while it’s under construction, but there’s still plenty for us to do while we wait.

    Stay warm, folks!

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 92- Pajama Jamboree with Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony

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    Are you familiar with free symphony concerts for families?  Well you should be, because they’re awesome.  Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony has Pajama Jamborees, which are amazing opportunities to get your pjs on, grab blankies, and listen to some great music and hear stories and learn about instruments.

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    I took the big kids on a feshil mama date, and they were stoked to do something only “big” kids could do (because yeah, a 2 year old is a big kid).  We arrived just as the concert was starting and still found a small space in the back to set up shop.

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    We were introduced to the night’s program of Peter and the Wolf, but stood to sing the national anthem first.  And a little secret about me…I get choked up singing it.  I’m not an overly patriotic person, but something about a group of people singing together makes my heart swell.  And as I had my hand across my heart, I looked down at my kids who were in awe with the communal song, I had to fight to hold in a few tears.

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    I composed myself, and by that time a few of our friends arrived.  We spent the next hour enthralled with music, narration, and high school actors playing out the story of Peter and the Wolf.

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    Afterwards, we hung out for just a minute and gave hugs and climbed on things were probably not supposed to climb, and then made our way to the parking ramp.

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    And the skywalk was a huge hit among my three kids in footed pjs and no shoes.

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    On the way home, Little T was holding my camera, and I gave her the ok to snap some photos.  Here are my favorites from the evening:

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    There’s another concert scheduled for December 10th, and then another in the spring.  Check out this really wonderful offering if you can!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 91- Estabrook Beer Garden for a Birthday Party!

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    For this little lady’s birthday, we did absolutely zero planning and had a blast.  Here were the ingredients: friends and family, pizza, a playground, beer, and my mother-in-law’s carrot cake recipe.

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    Because a place where you can drink a beer while pushing your kids on the swing is alright with us, we met at Estabrook Beer Garden.  The weather was agreeable (in Wisconsin terms anyway) and there was enough light for us to stuff our faces with pizza before the sun went down.

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    It was a weekday night with cold weather, and dark by the time we ate food, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  We did rotations between the playground and beer garden, generally keeping track of everyone.  Not that there was any reason for kids to wander…they had pizza and friends and cousins and adults and a playground all within feet.  The kids played in the rocks and we had foot races.  The pictures below are evidence (blurry spots are people whizzing by).

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    We sang happy birthday to Baby S (and Uncle Wow, who shares a birthday!) and passed out the cake.  And also, I didn’t think through the fact that the baby hadn’t really had sugar before, and bedtime for her was NOT awesome.

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    We rounded out the evening with clinking glasses and rounding up kids who were nearing bedtime.  Little T, clad in her new favorite princess dress, wiped up her own tears from falling on the concrete and helped her baby sister walk to the car.  It was a perfect night.

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 90- Doyne Park Cyclocross Race

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    You’ve seen my posts about Cyclocross before, so I’ll refrain from explaining the sport again and just go straight to the good stuff.

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    I headed out with Little T to watch my brother and some of his buddies (all donning new Stone Creek Coffee gear) at Doyne park.  I’d never been to the park before, because it’s tucked away off of Wells St. in Wauwatosa, fairly hidden from main roads.  There was a soccer field, playground, basketball court, and golf course, all along the Oak Leaf Trail for easy bike access.

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    Racers made their way throughout the park, up a fairly steep hill, over some fences, and through some wet/muddy grass.

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    I didn’t get any shots of folks taking spills, because I felt like that would be kind of bad etiquette.  Although, after a spectator yelled at a racer who had just fallen off his bike “come on Dave!  Get off the ground, man!  You’re supposed to stay ON your bike!  “, the guy turned to me and noted how great of an atmosphere Cyclocross creates for heckling.

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    After the race, everyone hung out and caught up with their families, talked about the next race, and washed off their bikes.

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    Little T enjoyed seeing her uncle race, and running through wet grass and cheering on racers.  There’s still time left in the season if you want to watch one of these races.   Check out the schedule, bundle up and head to the course.  Park yourself near an obstacle or on a hill where you’ll see racers pass by a few times, and bring obnoxious bells or horns to cheer them on.

    Hope you’re all enjoying this nice mild weather in Wisconsin!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 89- Hubbard Park Beer Garden (in two parts)

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    Last week, we went to Hubbard Park twice and had a blast both times.   On our first adventure, we met some friends and friends of friends on a weekday and threw rocks in the water, played in mud, and watched the salmon swim up stream.

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    Since it’s the end of the beer garden season, we went on a day that no beer was being served.  No matter, though, because we kept ourselves very busy with new and old friends.

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    And mud.  Did I mention mud?

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    The biggest kid in our group was brave (and tall) enough to wade out to the middle of the river to check out the mysterious things we saw jumping and floundering in the river.  Our initial guesses were: a duck trapped by a rock, an otter, a beaver, and finally it was confirmed that it was just a GIANT fish swimming up stream.

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    And speaking of fish going upstream, after our weekday adventure, we came back on Saturday for the Fish & Feather Festival.

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    There was live music, beer a plenty, and tables, activities and booths by The Urban Ecology Center, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Riveredge Nature Center, Trout Unlimited, and music by Sigmond Snopek (some of the most unique music I’ve heard in a while).

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    Baby S enjoyed the celery that came with my bloody mary (I didn’t know I could get one at a beer garden!  I tried one, and then switched to an Oktoberfest beer, which suited the afternoon much better).

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    The kids got a pretty much hands-on viewing of a turtle from Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and had lots to say about the turtle’s diet of worms (which they got to see in action).

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    We all had a pretty good time horsing around and rolling down hills and painting pumpkins and snacking on pretzels.

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    And while uploading these photos, I realized I could dedicate a specific space to Baby S making this smiling face.

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    The river was a great source of fun for the kids, and we did a great job of getting as wet and dirty as possible.

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    Kayakers were on the river, and the kids were exited to say hi and wave to such a fun sight!

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    We had cuddles in spades that day.

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    In all, we had two wonderful trips to Hubbard Park.  The folks at the beer garden were friendly, we got to be outside and play, and now that fish fry season is coming up, we’ll have another reason to head back to Hubbard Lodge.

    Hope you’re all enjoying the fall weather, and a beer to go with it ;)

    A. Storm

     

     

     

     

  • Chapter 88- NEWaukee Night Market

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    What are you doing tonight night, people?  You should work in NEWaukee’s Night Market (open from 5-10pm, and final of the season!).  Last month I went to September’s market, and had a great time.  Here’s my recap:

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    My friend Kate and I arrived like 30 minutes before it shut down for the evening, but quickly ran into people we knew.  I stopped to talk with Christina Ward of Kick Out The Jams (also a contributor to Edible Milwaukee) left with a jar of grape pie filling.  What is grape pie filling, you ask?  Wait till the bottom of this post to find out.

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    Kate and friends and I walked around a little and met Michael and Laurie from Hometown Established: A General Store.  They have a newer business in the Third Ward, and sell some really delicious/hip/local/pretty/good-smelling products.  Check them out here and here!

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    We found our way to the Cedar Teeth booth, where we sampled some delicious pizza and chatted with Hannah Roland (owner and pizza maker extrodinaire).  We tasted a smashed potato pizza as well as a delicious sweet apple one.  Read Molly Snyder’s review for a professional’s point of view.  And if you can, check out their food, which you can find at Beans & Barley, Groppi’s and a few other locations around town.

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    And because there’s a dancer inside of me that wants someday to get out, I quickly scarfed down my pizza in order to get to the dance party a few booths away.  And because of said need to dance, I enlisted a (very awesome) woman I had just met to join me in the middle of the dance mob.  Two DJs were spinning and I heard the likes of Lauryn Hill and Notorious B.I.G.  For a moment I didn’t feel 34 with four children at home.

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    Soon after, the market closed up shop and Kate took me to the butcher shop pictured below.

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    Then we walked around back to this alley.

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    And made our way into a bar behind that butcher shop.  And that’s all I’ll say about the rest of the night!

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    Ok, back to the grape pie filling.  Christina’s instructions included a package of Nutter Butters and an oven.  I did my best, but you guys, I’m NOT a baker.  While the color was incredible, the end product wasn’t quite as pretty.

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    I didn’t bake it long enough, but pulled it out of the oven because I had to leave the house.  And then the next day when I was going to serve it to my family, I put it back in the oven because the filling was still jiggly.  I’m told that’s not traditionally how you bake a pie…baking it, then cooling it in the fridge overnight, then baking it again.  It’s no wonder that my family was politely uninterested in my creation.

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    Next time I’ll do your creations justice, Christina, next time.  Or I’ll just stick to one of the many options that require no preparation other than putting it on a cracker.

    So anyway, check out Christina at a market near you.  And head to the Night Market tonight.  And keep exploring!

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 87- Mitchell Boulevard Park & Story Hill BKC

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    Because life is busy and I can’t manage to get my kids out of the house as often as I’d like, I made myself fit in a park/picnic date yesterday.  We found ourselves at the Mitchell Boulevard Park with hummus and cheese sandwiches on a sunny and breezy day.  The picture above is for my mother-in-law, as she pointed out to me recently that in most photos of Little A, neither of her feet are touching the ground.

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    The kids ate lunch and practiced the art of hopping on one foot while eating yogurt and holding hands.  I must say they got pretty good at it!

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    They had enough open swings for everyone who wanted to swing (rarely happens with four kids) and we promptly got everyone going as high as they could go.  I should mention that the building behind the kids is Central Greens, a place I’ve been wanting to check out for a while.  Has anyone out there done so yet?

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    Because nobody fought or peed in their pants or threw a temper tantrum, we got a special treat.  We walked across the street to Story Hill BKC to get some hot chocolate.

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    (And stopped to roll down a hill on the way of course)

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    Once we got to the restaurant, I chatted with the girl behind the counter about hot chocolate prices.  She was gracious enough to work out splitting up one drink into three cups, because all I had was the change in my car.  What?  Me forget my wallet?  Never.

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    We walked back to the park to sit in the grass and enjoy (spill) our drinks.

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    And then back to the playground!  Little T was perfecting her big sister skillz by taking Baby S down the slide.  I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it.  And yes, if it were my first (or second or third) kid, I probably wouldn’t have been all “sure, take the baby down a slide and I won’t even catch you guys at the bottom, I’ll just take pictures and assume you’ll be ok”.   And they were.

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    J made me some pickles and hot dogs and charged me $100.  I refused to pay $100 so we settled on $5.

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    And while I was eating my imaginary pickles, Baby S decided she’s over being a baby and tried to climb up the play structure.

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    It was a great park with lots of open space to run.  Bathrooms were open and clean, and it’s proximity to hot chocolate will probably keep my kids asking to go back.

    And as a side, I’m eating breakfast at Story Hill BKC right now.  And yes I’m paying a babysitter to watch my kids while I go out for breakfast.  I had some delicious egg and green chili meal, and am enjoying the coffee I gave up for good last week.  Anyway, the food is good AND you can buy growlers of beer to go.  So yeah, pretty much a great place.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 86- The Landing (Tosa’s Beer Garden)

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    This post is to remind you that the beer gardens in the Milwaukee County Parks are still open!  Raise your steins and let your kids play in the dirt/grass/rocks, and dance a bit if you time it right.

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    We headed to The Landing at Hoyt Park a few weeks ago, and promptly set up shop playing in the rocks.  Theo and I got some delicious beer, and the kids ate some basic food of hot dogs and popcorn (dinner of champions, I know).  Soon after eating, The Minor Five started playing and the kids made their own dance floor.

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    After dancing, we moved over to the large grassy area to climb over Uncle Wow and catch popcorn in our mouths.

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    After getting our fill of popcorn, my kids followed the many other kids playing in the trees.  It brought me back…ducking under the branches to get to the trunk of a tree…feeling like you’re in a teepee.

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    I looked up to find this.  There were at least three kids climbing this tree!

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    The sun set and mosquitos came out, so we made our way back to our gear by the band.  They were still going strong, and had the audience enjoying the beautiful night.

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    By the end, we were tired and full and happy.

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    Most of the beer gardens are open through the month of October, so check out the Milwaukee County Parks website to plan out your next adventure.

    Cheers!

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 85- ROM at Anodyne Coffee Roasters & Quarters

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    Alright, get ready for a slew of pictures of my kids dancing.  I took them to Anodyne Coffee Roasters to see the band ROM from Washington DC last week, and the kids were incredibly excited to see some music by the band…and to dance.  The girls really wanted to wear dresses (and arm warmers for Little T) to enhance the awesomeness of the experience.  Or really to facilitate twirling and jumping.

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    We got to Anodyne and hung out in the entrance for a while, because the music was super loud.  And here’s where the dancing (jumping) began.

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    While the twins were warming up to the idea of entering the building, Little A found a lady bug and J stood outside and pretended to talk on his pretend cell phone.  As a side note, the dude lighting his cigarette behind J leaned in to tell me that I was a “cool mom” for taking my kids to a show.  Ha!

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    ROM played out their hearts and even dedicated a song to Little T.  She was more than impressed.  Someone who knows something about music wrote this review, if you’d like to get a better idea of the band.

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    We saddled up to the bar and the kids shared a fizzy juice and we proceeded to spill THREE times.  Luckily the staff at Anodyne were really gracious and not too bothered by the huge mess we made.  Thanks folks!

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    And this might be my new favorite picture of the kids.

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    To document that I was actually there…

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    Dancing turned into break-dancing of course, and because I’ve pretty much given up on any sense of keeping things (kids) clean, I gave the ok to dance/lie/drag their bodies across/swim on the floor.

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    More dancing, more jumping.

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    And we got a picture with the band!  Now when ROM is famous and touring across the world, we can prove that we knew them from the beginning.

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    And because Anodyne is such a cool venue, we took some band shots.

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    And THEN!  Later that night I headed to Quarters bar in Riverwest to see them jam out again.

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    I’m no music critic, as I’ve stated before.  But when I heard ROM’s second performance of the day, I decided their music would fit really well on a soundtrack to a movie.  A movie about regular people and the heartache they experience.

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    I stayed for just a few songs of the next band, Literature, which I liked as well.  And it was then that I decided I’m going to try and start my own garage band.  Because the idea of practicing something with other people on a regular basis is something I crave.

    It was a jam-packed day and my ears were ringing with punk tunes by the end of the night.  Thanks for coming to Milwaukee, guys.

    A. Storm