• Chapter 110- An Epic Road Trip to Colorado

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    I’ll tell you a story about a woman who had cabin and then spring fever so bad that she decided to pack up her four kids under age 6 and drive to Colorado.

    So let me back up a bit…I realized two weeks before Little T’s spring break that well, she had a spring break (I’m still getting used to having a child in school).  And because my parents took us on long car trips to Montana as kids, I will always have a yearning to hit the road and head west even if it’s with my four children while my husband stays at home to work (thanks babe!).

    My parents were heading out to visit my sister, Angela, and her husband Bobby, so I tagged along with them and they graciously offered to take two of the kids in their car.  We made it to Lincoln, NE the first night with no major happenings.   Sort of boring, actually.  I mean, I thought I’d have more horror stories about the car ride!

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    After a night’s stay at a hotel, we ate some free breakfast and put on a very loud singing performance (which half of the staff/guests trying to eat breakfast loved, and the other half I’m sure hated) before hitting the road.

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    There was one small puking incident in my parent’s car right after we crossed the border into Colorado, but the above picture is of Little A 5 minutes afterwards.  She and her siblings were picking dandelions for me, and she seemed alright.

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    We arrived to Buena Vista, CO, a mere 1,200 miles from home.  We immediately set up shop on my sister’s front porch, and stayed there for pretty much the rest of the week.

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    The kids were either a little sick or adjusting to the altitude (BV is at about 8,000ft.) so we laid low and did such amazing things as ride bikes…

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    …practice opening and closing the front door…

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    …get spoiled by aunts and uncles who get their nieces and nephews hats and sunglasses and flip flops…

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    …and read books with my dear sister, Aunt Angela.

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    My amazing sister has a really cool shop called Made, and every time I go in, I say things like “Ang!  I love the feel in here.  It’s got such a great vibe AND some really awesome clothes.”  Anyway, Angela is working on an exciting project at the Jailhouse.  It’ll be an art space that’s open for classes, workshops, exhibits, and shows.  Here she is showing my dad the space.

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    I come from a family of artists, if you didn’t know.

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    Back to the kids- they cruised around BV, and got used to the parks.  No swings or slides, but lots of rocks to boulder on and ropes to climb.

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    Angela and Bobby have a great back yard, mostly because it’s enclosed and has a lot of garden space that’s yet to be planted for the season.  So the kids put on their pearls, got some spoons, and started digging.

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    We explored the city with Grandpa, and relaxed in the shade.

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    We also practiced our climbing.  Someone complained about walking LITERALLY BEHIND MY SISTER’S HOUSE to the park because it was too far away.   I may have replied, “You guys are soft.  We need to get out and exercise!”.  And we did.

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    This was the best shot I could get of me and the kids.  Better than nothing!

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    More front porch shenanigans.

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    And Blu, the kindest most mellow dog you’ll ever know.

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    Since Bobby is out on the river as many days as possible, he took the kids on some adventures to see the water.  We did a lot of throwing rocks.  I mean, A LOT.

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    And Little T started a pretty rad rock collection.

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    And oh my gosh!  She lost her first tooth!!!!

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    A few nights in, we decided to try out staying at a hotel in town.  My kids were all a little needy and insisted on sleeping in the same room (or bed, UGH) as me.  It wasn’t working at the house, but the hotel was perfect.  I only had to share a bed with one kid at a time!

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    They also got to watch cartoons they never get to watch at home and jump on beds.  I’m positive they enjoyed themselves.

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    We took a mini expedition to see some cool tunnels outside of town, and got out to see some bones we spotted.

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    When we got back to the house, the kids were thrilled to tell Grandma about the “reindeer” bones they saw (I thought it too cute to correct them).  Little T is particularly interested in natural science currently (yay!) and loved discovering the bones, trying to determine which part of the animal we were looking at.

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    Another amazing photo of me and the kids.

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    And after a week, we packed up and headed home.  This is obviously a VERY abbreviated version of the week, because I haven’t even told you about my finger.  Mandoline slicers are incredibly sharp, people.  Be careful.

    On the way home, all four kids requested to be in my car which was totally fine with me.  They were champs and I can’t even tell you how well they did.  Don’t get me wrong, they complained towards the end of both driving days.  A lot.  But without any technology besides the stereo, they did amazingly well.

    That said, I need to give a shout out to raisins in tiny boxes (because they’re basically the equivalent of putting treats inside a complicated dog toy, except for children), the public library for a slew of new books, and Fox and Branch.  I bought two of their CDs at the last Anodyne show, and THANK GOD for the album “Did You Hear That?”.  In particular, the song “Bling Blang” which my kids are still singing, and my personal favorite “Rock Island Line”.

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    This was at the same rest stop in which my dad cleaned up Little A’s puke on the way to Colorado.  This time we ate ice cream and looked at ants.  Right after I took this picture, I realized they were making friends with red biting ants.  Oops!

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    And they graciously posed for a final shot.  We made it back in one piece (well except for my finger) and were all exhausted but feeling fresh from breathing the cool mountain air.

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    Thanks for reading, guys.  I’ve been a little out of the loop with keeping up with the blog, so thanks for sticking with me.

    Hope somewhere out there, someone is enjoying warm, or even mild/not snowing weather!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 109- Organ Piper Pizza

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    After one failed attempt at Organ Piper Pizza (we showed up at 6:30pm and there was a 30 minute wait.  You can imagine that timing doesn’t work for a family with 4 kids under age 6), we headed back and arrived right when they opened.  I’d heard about this gem from my native Milwaukee friends, and had to check it out first hand.

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    The musician at the organ that night was really talented.  He played show tune upon show tune, and even played some requests.  The kids had fun dancing and well…all they did was jump.  “Dancing” to them is “jumping” to the rest of the world.

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    When our pizza a mozzarella sticks were ready, we made it back to the table to chow down.  The food was pretty good!

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    And then, the kids noticed the game area.  We’d tried to keep them from seeing it because it involved coins and prizes and lots of potential for meltdowns.

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    BUT, we used my favorite parenting technique of foreshadowing, and let them all go on one ride and get one treat.  And it worked!

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    Just because this sad clown was delightfully creepy.

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    And I’ll leave you with Little A’s inaugural bite into a giant gum ball.

    Happy eating, everyone!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 108- Mitchell Park Domes

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    A few weeks ago, my good friend Chai came up to visit us from Chicago.  Chai has two amazing girls, A & V, who have most definitely inherited their mother’s creative bone.  I’ll get to that at the end of this post.  Anyway, we met up on Monday morning at The Domes.  It was an incredibly busy day there, as it’s free for MKE county residents on Monday mornings AND it was a no school day.  So after waiting in a line outside, we made our way in and hit up the Desert Dome first.

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    No huge happenings in this dome, other than Baby S (I guess I could stop calling her a baby by now) was ENTHRALLED with the just-her-size railings.  She was interested in pretty much nothing else.

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    We showed our friends all the cacti, plants growing in boots (“whaaaaat?!?! that’s so silly!!”), and then headed to the show dome to see the trains.

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    After being told not to sit on the ledge, we snapped some pictures at the blue wall.

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    And then danced.

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    The kids found their way to the stage and showed Chai and me their best moves.  And as you can see, those moves were amazing.

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    Because it had been like 60 whole minutes since my kids had eaten, they were starving and insisted on eating lunch.  We headed to the lobby to find a table, but because of the huge crowd, we settled in on the floor for a makeshift picnic of hummus, veggies, fruit, muffins and cheese.

    Chai and I are friends from high school, who didn’t really spend much time together until I was pregnant with twins and freaking out.  I called her up because she had 2 year old twins at the time, and she seemed to have it together.  Chai was a huge support to ensuring me that we’d all be ok (and look, we are!).  So fast forward a few years to this trip, eating a picnic lunch, and trying to catch up with your friend while managing six kids.  We decided to wrap things up so we could head back to my house to get a little closer to finishing a conversation/thought/sentence.

    But first the kids needed to burn off some energy by leaping and jumping on the vents.  I’m sure the staff at the domes appreciated it.

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    So back at the house, we got out our arts and crafts supplies, and went crazy.  A & V made some amazing 3D structures of houses, lamps and more.  I could tell that my kids hadn’t ever thought to build UP from their paper, and it opened a new facet of art for them!

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    Did I mention that Chai is an artist?  She’s got some really unique and interesting  work, here and here!  In Milwaukee!  Bloom has art classes and workshops for kids and adults, and I’ve been meaning to get to one.  Look for that to come…

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    Once again, I’m so happy to have Mitchell Park Domes as a resource here, it’s a very laid back and mellow adventure that showed our out of town friends a little of the city.   And thanks to Chai for making the trip!

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 107- Free Ice Cream Today!

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    I heard through Metroparent’s Facebook page that Dairy Queen is offering free cones today.  So naturally, we got on our shoes after nap and walked to the closet location!

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    It’s a beautiful day, and my poor kids have been cooped up forever, so we thoroughly enjoyed walking in our neighbors’ lawns and finding birds nests.

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    Once we got there, I decided to splurge and spend the $.80 to get the cones dipped in chocolate (something they’ve never experienced before.  As you can tell from Little T’s expression, they liked it.  Well maybe you can’t tell.  But that’s her “oh my GOSH this is SO good!” face).

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    We made huge messes, then walked home and went straight to baths.

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    If you can get to a Dairy Queen tonight, take advantage of this nice offer!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 106- Washington DC

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    Hey there!  It’s been a while, and I have a lot to catch up on.  So I’ll start with my out of town adventure to see my dear friend Nancy, and meet her (then) 9 week old baby girl, Ingrid June.  She’s the cutest.  I was surprised how in love I fell with a baby other than my own!

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    I spent four days snuggling and staring into the bright blue eyes of Ingrid, and catching up with Nancy (who is by the way doing a pretty kick ass job at maintaining her sanity through the newborn stage).   For that matter, so is her husband Mark (of ROM, remember my post about his band?  I hear they’ll be on tour again this fall.  Come back to MKE guys!).

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    Besides snuggling a baby and catching up with the first friend I ever had, I drank delicious hot buttered rum that Nancy made me.

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    And I finally got some basic science worked out in my head, thanks to my BF/at-hand biologist.  Mark and I had been discussing Ingrid’s eye color the night before, and couldn’t remember how it all worked.  Nancy cleared it all up the next morning.

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    On my last day, we ventured out of the house to run some errands in Cleveland Park.  We ate lunch at Nam Viet and took turns eating delicious food..

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    …and rocking the baby…

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    Nancy had an errand to run solo, so I took a walk around the neighborhood, got my kids some souvenirs, grabbed coffee, and enjoyed the sunny sky.

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    Bread.

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    Nancy is a biologist at the Smithsonian National Zoo, so I have this silly daydream in my head.  This summer, I pack up my four kids and drive 13 hours to DC.  There, Nancy gives us behind the scenes tours of the zoo and other amazing places like the National Museum of Natural History.  It’ll be seamless and memorable.

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    But for now I’ll just look over this blurry picture of The Washington Monument, which I snapped in the car on the way to the airport.  This trip wasn’t for sight-seeing, though.  It was for seeing that amazing baby, making food for new parents, late night chats, early morning coffee and recapping the sleep everyone did or didn’t get, and connecting with people I love.

    MACS

     

     

  • Chapter 105- Fox & Branch at Anodyne Coffee

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    Last Sunday, Little T had a special at home date with Theo, and I took the other three kids to see Fox & Branch at Anodyne Coffee in Walker’s Point.  The band plays a free show at 11am about once a month, and I’d been meaning to get to one for a while.  And it was really fun!  If you like a million kids, good coffee, and good music.

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    The music is sort of a bluegrass version of kid-friendly favorites.  There’s a lot of silliness and banjo and washboard sounds, audience participation, and dancing of course.  At one point, Little A couldn’t figure out why Mr. Fox was so silly and kept singing the wrong words to the ABCs, which was ridiculously cute.

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    J got my camera and wanted to take a picture of me, Little A, Baby S dancing.  If you look closely, you can see our feet on the left side of the pic above.

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    Kids needed fuel at some point in the morning, so we munched on Rocket Baby Bakery danishes and fizzy water.  Yum!

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    Oh, and Baby S showed me that she can drink out of a regular cup.  Who knew!?

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    We danced some more and if I could figure out how to edit the video, I’d show you the partner dancing above that ended in a pile of kids on top of the adults sitting next to us.  Luckily everyone was totally cool with things getting a little crazy.

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    The guys of Fox & Branch gave us cool stickers, and we can’t wait to go again.  Thanks for a great show Anodyne and Fox & Branch!

    -A. Storm

  • Chapter 104- Studio Session at Radio Milwaukee with Bahamas

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    So you all know my trusty go-to radio station, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, right?  Well because I’m a member, I got invited to their Frostbite Series (a bunch of bands played studio sessions for the station).  I RSVP’d to go see Bahamas.  Not that I knew much about them besides this song, which you have definitely heard and loved I’m sure.

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    Anyway, I showed up, got myself a Louie’s Demise over at Stone Creek Coffee (because it was too late in the day for coffee, but not too early for a beer), and sat down in the front row.  While I looked around at the entire audience who was on their phones, I sipped my beer and wondered how awkward I’d look taking photos for the blog.  Lucikly, DJ Kallao was sneaking around taking shots so I wasn’t alone.

    And here’s the thing about live music…it’s the best.  Every time I see a show, I wonder why I don’t make it out to see more music (but then I remember how many young children I have).  After this studio session, and only four songs, I’m officially a Bahamas fan.  If you’re curious, Afie is the dude on guitar, and he is Bahamas.

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    After the show, I asked for a photo and said something really awkward as per usual.  I also tried to buy an LP but they only took cash and I was out of luck.  So AFIE, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, feel free to contact me for my home address where you can send a signed album.

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    After the show, I got a tour from the lovely Becca, Development & Market Coordinator, and a bunch of us listeners walked around admiring the building.

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    We even got a chance to step inside the recording booth where Marcus Doucette and Kallao were doing their thing.  I had to introduce myself to Marcus because I’ve won tickets from him twice in the past few years, which is pretty awesome.  Because, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Turner Hall in like 2011.  Anyone else witness that musical orgy?

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    Back to the tour.  It’s a pretty interesting building, with lots to admire.  Like records for days.

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    And bottle caps for backsplashes.

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    And old wood pallets for CD shelves.

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    And a rooftop for viewing the city and having parties and checking out the green space.

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    And having a nice gentleman take a new profile pic for me.  While on the tour, Producer Nate Imig walked past us and I missed an opportunity to give him some feedback and praise.  Because the community stories that he puts together at 88Nine are the reason I started listening to the station, and I get so many ideas for adventures from there.  I really appreciate the work 88Nine is doing, and the efforts to get people involved in their community.  So here’s my virtual handshake, Nate.  Thanks for passing on the stories of our city!

    Thanks Bahamas and Radio Milwaukee for a great afternoon!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 103- Asian Market Phongsavan

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    Today I was feeling adventurous, and met my friend Kate to get pho at Milwaukee’s Asian Market Phongsavan.  I say adventurous because it was sort of a hike to get there, we were in a serious time crunch with naps quickly approaching, and I had no idea if my kids would actually eat pho.

    I’m going to give you instructions, in case you want to check out this authentic spot.  Above is the view from the street, it’s just off of 76th near a CVS in a pretty much unmarked building.  Look for lots of cars parked in the parking lot and on the street.

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    Go in this door.  And shut it behind you.

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    Make your way down the main aisle, go through to the next section of the building, and when it ends, the pho restaurant will be on your right.

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    We ordered at the counter from a nice gentleman who asked if we wanted regular or special soup (he said the latter contains pork).  The menu was fairly basic and didn’t give options for different meats/meatless versions of the soup, so I just said “I’ll have what she’s having” and added an order of fried rice for the kids, because they had all declared on the drive to the restaurant that they don’t like soup.

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    And this was our lunch bunch (minus a picture of the beautiful Kate).  I spotted a counter opposite the restaurant’s counter, and went over to get some rice cake things and some bread for the kids.

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    When I got back to the table, our food was being served.  We quickly made up plates, because eating lunch with a 5 year old, a triplet of three year olds, and a one year old pretty much equals a race to eat as fast as possible before things get messy.  My soup was delicious.  Kate’s vote is that this is the best pho in town, but I’m going to reserve that title for my ranking.  In all honesty, I’m sort of freaked out by meat.  I really only eat vegetable/tofu pho (though I know the broth isn’t vegetarian), and was brave about but not a huge fan of the tripe (insert wide-eyed emoji).

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    All of my kids loved the fried rice, two of them liked the broth of my soup, and everyone liked the noodles I fished out of my soup for them.  Little A was very interested in the jalapeños, which I had stated were very spicy.  She then asked Kate, “do you like your…howtotrainyourdragons?”.  Hilarious that “jalapeño” was translated into a DreamWorks movie.  But if you say the pepper’s name in conjunction with the movie title, you’ll realize she wasn’t that far off.

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    Baby S enjoyed the noodles immensely, and when she ran out of them she filled her time by sticking a chopstick in my water.

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    Our friend A chose the much-coveted green sticky rice ball thing.  And you can imagine his disappointment when it dropped on the ground.  Poor guy.

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    But then this happened!

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    On our way out, we stopped to look at some of the produce.

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    Even though we didn’t speak the same language, the ladies behind the stand helped me discover the rambutan fruit.  I’d never seen or heard of it, and one woman opened one up for me and the twins to try.

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    Here’s a picture of the inside of the fruit.  You basically just peel off the spiny skin, and are left with a soft white fruit.  Its texture was similar to a pear, and the flavor was mild and sweet.

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    After sharing and then purchasing some rambutan, we headed to look at some of the clothing, jewelry, medicinal goods, and much much more.

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    It was nice to be in such an out-of-the-ordinary place (for me, anyway).  When I asked Little A what she thought, she said “it’s so…different!  I like it!”.

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    On our way out, a fellow toddler waved constantly and shouted “good bye!!!” in the sweetest way ever, and we made the mistake of looking at toys.  There are many, many toys for sale there.  And right after the display of toy guns and babies in strollers, we had a meltdown that we didn’t buy any toys.

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    We had a great lunch, and thanks for my lady Kate for introducing me to this gem.  We’ll be back for sure.  I know they have much more on the menu than pho and rice, so we’ll have to get more adventurous and give the various items a shot.

    Here are few more links with information about the spot, maybe we’ll see you there someday!

    A . Storm

     

     

     

  • Chapter 102- Mitchell Park Domes & Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

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    Last Friday, my dear friend came into town from Madison with her girls.  Since The Domes were a staple when my friend lived here, we didn’t even consider where else to meet!  Oh, and Little T, if you’re reading this in the future, I’m sorry you couldn’t come and see your friends.  Darn school!

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    Ok, back to the domes.  The kids chose to visit the desert dome first and proceeded to explore in the fastest setting.  It’s REALLY hard to keep 5 mobile kids from running.

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    There were lots of hugs and lots of hand-holding.

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    And posing for adorable pictures!

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    Next, we went to the tropical dome for some rainforest action.  And while we were throwing pennies in the pond and making wishes, Baby S got doused with some water.  An employee was watering the plants above us and didn’t see where the hose was pointed, resulting in a wet and slightly pissed baby.

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    We made a quick stop at the show dome to see the trains, because it was super crowded and the kids needed a snack.  We left shortly after, to pick up Little T from school and head to our SECOND ADVENTURE OF THE DAY!  My kids honestly spent a month inside our house this winter, watching cartoons and growing soft.  So even though it was fairly chilly and I forgot to bring snow pants, we headed to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center to eat lunch and take a hike.

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    Mystery Pond was frozen over (I know it was that day, but to be safe, PLEASE always check with staff inside the building) so we did some boot-skating and animal tracking.

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    And general exploring.  And finding snail shells.

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    We tried for a family photo and came up with these two.  Nobody looking at the camera in the first, and and extra kid in the second one.  He’s cute, though, so we’ll take him.

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    My friend Margo and her kids did a much better job of posting.

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    Little T and Little A had a great time smashing and moving and eating ice chunks.

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    The day was a success (well not in terms of how tired I was by dinner time), and even though we practically skipped nap, it was worth it.  The memberships to both The Domes and SANC are well worth it in my opinion, or you could always go to The Domes on Monday mornings, when it’s free for Milwaukee County residents.  But SANC has a ton of land to explore, even in the winter.  You can hike down to the lake to see the ice-canoes, check out the reptiles and rodents in the lobby, search for animals in the trees, enjoy the view from the observation tower, and more.

    Hope everyone has a great weekend coming up!

    A . Storm

  • Chapter 101- Play Date With Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum

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    Since we spent a month doing such exciting things as coloring on boxes, wearing finger puppets on our toes, and taking pictures of Rescue Bots, it’s been pretty quiet around here.

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    The Storm house was hit hard with the flu among other awesomeness, and there was literally a full week where we didn’t leave the house.  However, the girls got Frozen dresses which lightened the mood considerably as it facilitated some serious dancing.

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    But then…people got better!  We took our opportunity to adventure and it happened to be on a day that the MAM offered Play Date with Art.

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    Half the reason we went to the art museum was because it was a below zero day (no school for Little T) and they have a heated parking lot.  PLUS, members get to park for free during the month of January and May.  Check out the benefits you can take advantage of while the museum is under construction.  Anyway…we stopped at our favorite white wall to take a photo, then headed upstairs to the lobby for art and music!

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    The project was to create a landscape picture, and the kids jumped right in with their friends and started coloring, cutting and pasting.

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    And thanks to Sesame Street, this dude picked up a piece of paper and said “Mama, is this a hexagon?”.   Why yes it is!

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    Bigger kids in our group used oil pastels and glued frames on their pictures, while the littler kids dabbled in that project and ended up on the ground with crayons in some sort of twin coloring train.

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    After the kids showed off their artwork, we sat down for some music and marching.  We got to use instruments and sing and dance/march around the lobby.

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    And we also did some interpretive dance/mild wrestling, or whatever’s going on in the picture above.

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    My friend Margo snapped a shot of me and all my kids for posterity.  Because as you can tell, it’s pretty hard to get all of them together and looking at the camera smiling, so any shot where we’re all in the frame is amazing.

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    When the play date wrapped up, we set up shop in the cafe to eat our PB&Js, string cheese and fruit.  Lunch bunch, yo!

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    So from us to you, we hope you had a great holiday season.  And if you didn’t, we feel ya.  But whenever time and health are on your side, there’s always an adventure waiting to be had.

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 100- Drink & Ink at Bay View Printing Co.

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    More from adventures in letterpress!  After my trip up to Two Rivers, I discovered that right here in Milwaukee, there are folks here just as excited about letterpress.  Bay View Printing Company is a full-service print shop, with dedication to community workshops and spreading the love of this craft.  They offer Thursday night Drink & Ink classes, one of which I attended last night.

    And while I have your attention, I want to tell you how fun the class was.  How I met some great people, and how you should get involved.  If you can’t attend a class, watch this short video about Bay View Printing Co’s Indegogo campaign.  They’re raising funds to expand the workshops, update the building, make things more accessible, and share printing opportunities with community members and artists alike.  Donate if you can, and spread the love!

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    I called up my friend Shannon yesterday morning and asked if she could come with me.  She said yes, I picked up a 6 pack of beer (my friends over at Central Waters Brewing Co. make some delicious stout, y’all), and we made our way to Bay View.  Shannon hadn’t done any printing before, but came away with one killer poster.  Above, she’d already set and locked up the blocks, and was inking them in green and black.

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    Here, Shannon is rolling over the blocks with the help of the lovely Ashley Town.  Ashley is a super talented lady, who took on this great project of owning a print shop.  Ashely had been working as a designer with the previous owner, Jim Baker, and eventually learned all about the machines and processes of printing.  And only about 6 months ago, Jim retired and with nobody to take over the business, it would have closed for good.  But Ashely stepped in and took over, and how she’s dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the machines, preserving its history, as well as making the art form available for others to practice.

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    And now folks like Shannon get to make beautiful posters like this!

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    While Shannon and Scottie, the other attendee at the class, worked on their projects, I browsed around taking a few photos of the incredible machinery and tools.  Bay View Printing Co. even has a working Linotype machine!  One of less than a dozen in the Midwest.  Below is the scrap metal, just waiting to be melted into new type.

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    I’m not going to show you what I made, because I don’t want to blow a Christmas present surprise.  Which is REALLY hard for me.  You got a surprise for someone?  Well don’t tell me.  In what has become a fairly descriptive story about me as a child, I was telling my family what the first letter of their presents started with.  And because I was a kid, I asked “does purse start with a P?”.

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    Here, Scottie and Ashely are setting his poster, which turned out really well, too!

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    Upstairs, we got to chat about the night, view others’ work, and talk about how we’ll see each other again soon because it was such a good night.

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    Thanks to Ashley for offering such a fun and accessible way to print, and here’s hoping you reach the fundraising goal!  It ends in just a few days, so to everyone reading, don’t wait until the new year to watch the video and make a contribution.

    Enjoy the weekend, all.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 99- Colectivo’s Gospel Brunch (Plus a totally unrelated giveaway!)

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    Last month, I finally made it to the Colectivo on Farwell for their Gospel Brunch, which supports Progressive Community Health Centers.   I packed up my kids and met a friend, and the dancing immediately commenced.  It was a great way to spend our morning!

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    My kids made a new friend, ate some delicious baked goods, listened to gospel, and had a blast.

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    And we danced our way out of the building.  A pretty straight-forward “listen to beautiful music and move around” morning.  One I’m hoping to recreate at the next opportunity!

    Remember the totally unrelated giveaway I mentioned?  Well here it is.  I have a copy of A Mom’s Guide to Milwaukee by Calie Herbst of MiltownMoms.  It’s my Christmas present to you!  If you’re looking for a current list of things to do and places to go in Milwaukee, leave a comment below.  I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday December 16th.  To get another entry, make sure you subscribe (just enter your email address to the right in the “subscribe” box).

    Have a great weekend, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 98- Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (Travel Edition)

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    St. Nick brought a toy for the kids, and a Jack White LP for Theo, but I made out on top this year.  Yesterday, I drove up to Two Rivers and attended a workshop at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.  If you don’t read anything else in this post, just know that you should go there and get a tour of the museum.  My mind was blown by the history of print.  In a few words: the collection they have is expansive, the process was revolutionary in its day, machines were complex beyond my own comprehension, artists perform a deliberate craft, and the museum is doing an amazing job of preserving the history.

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    Assistant Director Stephanie Carpenter gave us a tour of the building, and imparted such an incredible amount of interesting knowledge to me and the other 8 workshop participants.  I can’t summarize all the information about how the wood type is made, but there are so many steps and machines which I’d never heard of before.  Read this to learn about the manufacturers, the pantograph (which people are still using in the facility!) the history, and more.  Also watch this short video to get a feel for the people and the passion at the museum.  They even have a few Linotype machines in the building.

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    The museum used to be in the Hamilton factory, just up the road, but re-opened in its current location just over a year ago.  The space is open and well-maintained, with a large amount of machines, wood type, and posters to view.  Also, the museum shop has LOTS Of beautiful prints, posters, cards, clothes and other gifts to browse.

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    Stephanie told us a story behind this poster of the Lushootseed alphabet.  I might botch it, but at one point in the state of Washington, the Tulalip Tribe only had two native speakers of their language.  In language camp, wood type was used to help people learn the language through a tactile way, hopefully enhancing the learning process.

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    Posters line lots of the walls, and this one reminded me of the John Prine song “Angel from Montgomery”.

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    Jim Moran, Museum Director, joined us in the workshop to show us the steps of printing.  I absolutely love the process.  It requires planning, paying attention, keeping your station neat, and being ok with making mistakes.  We had access to pieces of type that were over 100 years old, so we understood the importance of taking care of the equipment.

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    I had grand plans to make our holiday cards, but found posters much more inspiring and fun to create.  I messed up a whole lot, and didn’t have time to look through all the (millions of pieces of ) wood type, but came away with a greater knowledge AND desire to come back!

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    I also made a poster for my dear friend Nancy’s husband’s band, ROM.  There, Nan.  I blew the secret.  This should be in your mailbox soon!

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    A lovely lady named Carol did this poster pictured below.  You can see in the above photo where she’s locking up the stars to lay over the “joy” and “peace” she’d already printed.  A great end product!

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    The guys at ArcInt Architecture and I swapped posters, which was one of the highlights for me.  The setup of the workshop facilitated working on your own (which is awesome because even though I love being around people, I also love to be alone) with the opportunity to connect with other people with similar interests.  As it turns out, I’m neighbors with one of the architects, and their office is near the Menominee Valley Branch of the Urban Ecology Center, which I’ve been meaning to visit since it opened.

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    In all, it was a wonderful day.  Totally worth the drive from Milwaukee, and I’d recommend taking a trip to anyone.  I’d also suggest getting a tour, because the vast amount of history that the museum is preserving is simply fascinating.  It really makes me think about the change our world has seen, even in the past 100 years.

    And one of the best parts of my day…I got 3 hours in a car by myself.  Without the Frozen soundtrack playing, or kids fighting, or anyone screaming because their sock is on the wrong way/their pants won’t tuck into their boots correctly/their seatbelt JUST IS NOT COMFABLE.

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    Just me and my thoughts.  Oh, and the view in Two Rivers/Manitowoc is incredible.

    Peace to everyone,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 96- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

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    Because life happens to be particularly crazy right now, I’m finally getting to post about a trip to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center from about a month ago.  We’ll pretend I’m posting pictures of warmer weather on purpose, to get us through the next few days, ok?

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    I had been talking with a friend about October’s solar eclipse, and decided to get my kids out to the nature center to see it (no, we weren’t going to look at it, I had cardboard with holes cut out to make my kids’ names and everything).  Unfortunately, I had the date wrong, and we were there with all of our crap a day early.  BUT!  We still got to run around with a million other kids outside!  So no loss at all, really.

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    We met up with some new and some old friends, and the kids quickly made a pretend fire and passed out marshmallows (leaves).  Delicious.

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    And then they quickly jumped the fence and trotted around in poison ivy.  My friend Brooke came to their rescue.

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    I noticed that some of us take fashion pretty seriously, even for outdoor hikes.

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    Because it was an after-school-but-before-dinner adventure, we really only hung out for an hour or so.  It was enough time for the youngest of the bunch to ace her walking skills, eat some leaves, and for the bigger kids to play with sticks, and for the adults to start but never finish a conversation.  Which is pretty standard for any hangout with this many children.

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    Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a really awesome place to be.  I’ve written about it a lot before, because we have a great time every time we are there.  And weather doesn’t have to be balmy to visit.  Snap on some snowshoes and hit the trails this winter, or attend any of the indoor events throughout the cold weather.  There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of fun to be had!

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    Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  Peace to everyone,

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 95- First Aid Kit at Lakeland College

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    I’m still on could nine from Friday night, guys.  The stars aligned, and I got in to First Aid Kit‘s sold-out show at Lakeland College!  For those of you who don’t know, FAK is a sister duo from Sweden, and they play some damn fine folk/Americana music.

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    I let my husband be my +1, and late Friday afternoon, we drove up to Sheboygan to eat at The Duke of Devon (I highly recommend it).  We had AN HOUR of uninterrupted time to talk.  WHAT?!  I haven’t been able to finish a conversation with my husband in like 5 years without having to get someone another glass of milk/change a diaper/break up a fight/keep the baby from playing with the silverware in the dishwasher.  It was magical.

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    When we got to Lakeland College, I’m not going to lie…I wondered what First Aid Kit was doing in the middle of nowhere.  They’re pretty big.  I mean, they toured with Jack White!   And Plymouth seemed like an odd destination for their show.  But Lakeland had a beautiful campus (at least it appeared so in the dark) and the concert hall was great.  Plus the people that work there are awesome (shout out to David for getting Little T’s picture to the ladies of the band, more on that in a minute).

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    But some high points from the show:

    -Samantha Crain opened and she’s a really wonderful singer/songwriter.  Please check her out.

    -Johanna’s amazing hair flipping/head banging to The Lion’s Roar was a killer way to start out the show.

    -Klara and Johanna unplugged and sang Ghost Town without mics.  Because we were like 10 feet away from them, it felt like they were pouring their hearts out to share the beauty of song in a really a personal way.

    -They sang Jack White’s Love Interruption.  Like, whoa.

    -For the encore, Samantha Crain joined in and they sang Waiter at the Station.  I was moved by the sound of three women, singing their hearts out and giving my ears some delicious harmonies to eat up.

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    And also, a moment I saw.  First Aid Kit was singing Emmylou, one of their most popular songs.  I peeked over to the front row of the audience, and there I saw the most special love between a mother and daughter.  The daughter was maybe 13, and was singing every word out loud.  Mom was standing behind with her arms wrapped around her daughter, and every now and then she would stroke her daughter’s hair or give her a squeeze.  She couldn’t help it.  I know the feeling, when you’re just so in love with your amazing kid and you want to eat them up.  The mom and daughter were only a few feet away from Johanna and Klara, and I swear the moment was tangible.

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    Afterwards, we hung out in the lobby and ran into some friends, and got our pictured taken with the beautiful Samantha Crain!

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    So from me, Theo, and some dude behind us, thanks First Aid Kit and Lakeland College for a wonderful night.  Little T asked me to help her make a picture for the band, which you can see on their Instagram page.  The back of the card says such cute things as “maybe you could come over and sing for us, your guitars are pretty cool, and maybe I could show you my Dr. DooLittle record [which has been on heavy rotation on our record player for at least a year…ugh]”.

    And thanks to Uncle Wow and Auntie Brave for babysitting and letting this night happen!

    Peace,

    A. Storm

     

     

  • 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