Archive for February, 2014

  • Chapter 45- Bucks Game at the Bradley Center

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    My dad won tickets to a Bucks game, and brought me, Little T, and my brother to enjoy the night.  The tickets included a behind the scenes entrance and court side seats to watch warm ups.

    I’m going to stop here and say that if you’re looking for an account of the actual game, or the players, you’re in the wrong spot.  This trip was purely about showing my daughter a professional sporting event, spending time with my family, and drinking expensive beer.

    And watching an amazing pre-game performance by these lovely folks:

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    They perfected such moves at the Soulja Boy, the stanky legg, and twerking.  No joke.

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    Before the game started, Little T was starving so we headed to grab some food.  While she licked the pickle relish off her hot dog bun, I had a Blue Moon beer.  I’m not usually cool with paying like $8 for a middle-of-the-road beer, but it was a special occasion and totally worth it.

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    As we were heading in to our seats, these performers were on the floor.  I was immediately brought back to 8th grade when we won a cheerleading competition and got to perform at halftime of a Bucks game.  Big time stuff for a 14 year old!

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    The soda and spectating would have been enough for Little T, especially for a Thursday night.  I actually had a great time watching the big screen as it displayed fans who were unknowingly on camera.  Seeing their reaction once they noticed their faces was priceless.

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    I misread this sign, so I thought Coolio was performing at halftime that night.  Much to my and my brother’s dismay (my dad and Little T were oblivious to his celebrity (although a bit outdated) status), it wasn’t happening until the Saturday game.

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    The above photo is the first time that I payed attention to the game.  Until that point I had just been watching my daughter soak it all in, and doing some very entertaining people watching.

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    For halftime, we saw about 999 Jazzercise women and 1 Jazzercise man perform some fun and energetic moves.  They looked like they were having a blast!

    Unfortunately we didn’t stay for the second half.  Bedtime for a 4 year old comes early, and the minute we got in the car she fell asleep.  The city has some great night time scenes, none of which I was able to capture very well.  But these last two shots were just for fun.

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    While the Bucks aren’t having a great run, it was still an enjoyable evening.  My daughter had a great time and I got to catch up with my family.  Not a bad night!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 44- Travel Edition: National Railroad Museum

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    We went to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay this week.  This place was so fun!

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    We bought tickets in the gift shop, and the kids went straight to the train table.  Then, in the first gallery of the museum, there was an exhibit on graffiti on trains.  I wish I could have stayed to check it out but the kids had zero interest.  So we went straight past the gallery of train tail signs to the Lenfesty Center.  That large space is home to some well-preserved and beautiful trains.

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    One of my kids in particular was totally stoked about the trains.

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    After the initial amazement and excitement wore off, the kids were actually a little intimidated by the enormity of the trains.

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    There were benches in makeshift sit-and-nurse-your-baby area.  Because they were bored, I tried to keep the kids all in the same area by playing “Who can find the….red wheel?”.  Which went quickly to “Who can find the silver plate?  No, not a dinner plate, like a metal plate, like a hubcap.  With bolts in it.  Wait, you’re two, you don’t know what that means.  Screw it, go have a dance party on that stage over there”.

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    Breakdancing was the dance style of choice, and the other family that was there really enjoyed my a cappella version of Bruno Mars’ “Treasure”, I’m sure.

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    Next we went to the outdoor exhibit but we didn’t last long because someone insisted on taking her jacket off and running around like crazy in the cold.

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    So we had a race to the next stop, which was the children’s section where we wrapped up our tour the same way we started.  By playing with a train table.

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    Starting in May, they offer train rides.  Like on a real train.  It costs extra for that but I can only imagine it’s totally worth it.  They also have some special events, and I’ve heard about the Polar Express evening.  I can’t find information online about it, but it sounds like the event includes pjs, hot chocolate, a reading of the book by an actor, a train ride, and Santa.  Awesome.

    Looking forward to going back in the summer so we can play on the playground and eat lunch in the grass after our train ride.

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter 43- South Shore Park/Stone Creek Coffee/Winter Farmer’s Market

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    For Valentines Day this year, Theo gave me the wonderful gift of a morning to myself.  Very romantic, I know.  But the opportunity to hit the refresh button is essential to being a happy wife/mother/friend/sister/person.

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    So I bring you to Saturday morning at South Shore Park.  I arrived just as the sun was rising, parked the truck and headed down the path along the lake.  I was bundled up, but not quite enough to be comfortable.  As you can imagine the beach was pretty quiet.  I only ran into two nice folks walking their dogs.

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    From this park, you can get a great view of the city.  It’s right in Bay View, so it’s not a far drive from downtown at all.

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    And on my way back up to the truck, I heard the sound of birds chirping from the trees.  You know that feeling when it’s been winter for years, and the light in your soul is set to “dim”?  And then you hear the glorious sound of birds when you’re least expecting it, which means that SPRING IS COMING!  And it doesn’t even matter if it’s another 6 or 8 or 12 weeks away.  You’re reminded that another season is on its way, and with it will bring a renewed sense of life and adventure.

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    And to put into perspective how cold it was, check out the Allen Bradley Clock Tower.

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    After taking photos, I needed desperately to warm up so I went to Stone Creek Coffee.  I was greeted by T. Ben, a genuine guy who is enthusiastic about the art of coffee.   I was the only customer at 7am, so I got a one-on-one lesson about the different methods of pouring coffee, and the company (did you know they have their own bakery?), and Radio Milwaukee (they share space in the building).  I also got to have a conversation with an adult, which was very refreshing!

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    If you’re coming to this manual-pour coffee shop, be prepared to enjoy and savor your coffee.  The different methods give a different flavor to the coffee, and because it’s poured with such care, it gives you more reason to sit and relax.

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    If I were still in college, this would be a great place to bring my books and pretend to study.  Because that’s basically what I did in college (sorry Mom and Dad).

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    They take their coffee seriously here.  Not in a pretentious way, don’t worry.

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    Glad to see they take drinking booze seriously, too.

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    So we all know that Radio Milwaukee moved locations this past fall, right?  And this Stone Creek cafe is in their new building.  I’m going to try and tour the new digs and let you all know about it.  For now, this is what you get.  A sort of blurry photo of the floor, because I had had so much caffeine that I couldn’t steady my camera.

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    Next I headed to the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer’s Market, located at the Mitchell Park Domes.  It was super crowded and there’s no way I could tell you about many vendors without this turning into a novel.  So I’ll highlight just a few.   I’ll also add that I had to park behind the domes, where I didn’t even know a parking lot existed.  I was SO thankful I didn’t have my kids with me because they certainly would have frozen to the pavement on the long walk in.  However, I’m glad it was a hike because I may or may not have had a ridiculously huge hot ham sandwich from Blue’s Egg while browsing inside.

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    Ted Ballweg from Savory Accents introduced me to his world of chili pepper products.  I sampled some spicy jams, which were delicious.  My favorite was the Chipotle Cranberry Chutney.

    Now if you would have asked me to try this even a year ago, I’d have said no.  Because for most of my life I’ve disliked the mixing of things sweet and salty, and this would have fallen into that description.  But once I gave in and had a Monte Cristo recently, my mouth rejoiced in the wondrous mix of flavors.

    Back to the chutney, though.  It was amazing.  Spicy and tart,  not too sweet but sweet enough.  It was great just on a cracker, but can be used as a spread for sandwiches, or straight up for your Thanksgiving meal.  And Ted was so great about sharing the story behind their farm (yes they grow all the peppers they use) and the local food movement in Wisconsin.  He invited me to check out the farm next time I’m in the Verona area, and consider it done.

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    Do you remember last year when I met Christina Ward of Kick out the Jams?  She’s a really cool lady who makes such delicious jellies as Brandy Old Fashioned, Blackberry Vanilla, Tomato Spice, and Ginger.  I tried the orange-vanilla jelly, which was like a calm and subdued version of a dreamsicle.  It was great.  Not candy-like, or too sweet,  but just enough flavor to make you pause and ponder what’s happening in your mouth.

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    Christina also writes for Edible Milwaukee Magazine, which has some beautiful photos and really great information in it.  Read all about some local folks who are taking food to heart, and spreading the joy of all things food.

    This adventure got me thinking about food, and how I could get involved with experiencing locally sourced products.  I’m also interested in getting the kids to know more about where their food comes from.   Edible Milwaukee and meeting such great folks like Christina, Ted and T. Ben are a good way to start.

    As always, it’s a pleasure to have you read and join me in discovering our city.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 42- Lynden Sculpture Garden

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    On Saturday, we were crazy people and took our kids out in single digit weather.  We headed out to Lynden Sculpture Garden for their Winter Carnival, and it was totally worth the trip.

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    We arrived and paid $9 for Theo and myself each (free parking), and headed outside to see the sights.  We also immediately regretted letting the girls pick out their clothes for the day, as they were both wearing dresses.  Luckily, Little T was smart and chose to wear three pair of undies and socks each, with leg and arm warmers of course.

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    The first station we visited was making some frozen art.  We were helped by a very helpful and friendly gardener in making art on frozen canvases, by putting flowers and greens on ice and pouring a bit of water over to set the arrangement.

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    Next we headed to the outdoor cinema where we shared a handmade snow cone.  Quite mesmerizing to watch the guy scrape the ice block for each customer!

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    Little A got to ride on her Papa’s shoulders for most of the trip.  It brought her closer to the sky, which is sort of perfect for this soaring-spirit kind of girl.

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    Stopping along the way for some photo ops…

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    We made our way to the fort building station next, where some folks were mixing water with snow and packing molds…much like building a sandcastle.  Plans for building were drawn out on a table so kids could see the steps for construction, which took place inside this small structure.

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    Baby S really enjoying the day.

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    Scattered throughout the garden were some performers, doing such things as mopping snow and grilling hot dogs while wearing red jackets and blonde wigs.

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    A couple of Davey Tree Experts gave a tree climbing demonstration which was really cool.  Unfortunately the kids were frozen solid by this time so they watched from inside the main building.

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    To warm up, we had hot chocolate and a delicious cheese and tomato panini from the Simmer Truck.  If I had been ordering for myself I’d have gotten the Reuben, but I didn’t think that would go over too well with the kids.  I’ll have to track down the Simmer Truck again sometime because Reubens are sort of the best.

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    Little T got Mickey Mouse painted on her face, so Little A felt brave enough to get her face painted too.  And asked for Mickey Mouse just like her big sis.  And couldn’t help picking her nose when I asked to take a photo.  

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    While we were inside warming up, we set up shop next to Bill and Nick of All Hands Boatworks.  They were super friendly and interesting and it was great to see the passion the bring to the pursuit of their craft.  They provide classes and workshops for kids and adults alike, and seem to really value passing on their knowledge.  Check out their Facebook page for more details and information.

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    I tried to take a photo of Little A next to the handmade boat, but things don’t always turn out as planned, right?

    Although we left in a mess of tears and snotty noses and one black eye, it was a great morning.  I’m very much looking forward to coming back in warmer weather.  They have monthly outings for parents of young kids, and I know my kids would love the green space to explore (respectfully, of course) and adventure.  There is a lot of space and some really beautiful art, and all the staff we came in contact with were welcoming.

    Hope you’re all staying warm!  Thanks for reading,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 41- Up Up & Play

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    This is me taking deep breaths.  Our car rides have been pretty epic as of late.  I’m getting better at getting four kids ready in the morning, but by the time we’re all dressed and full of breakfast, the window of going out on a morning adventure is rapidly closing.  So getting boots and jackets on and seat belts clicked is kind of, well, hectic.

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    Anyway, on Friday morning we met my sister-in-law and her son at Up Up & Play, an indoor play space.

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    It’s on Kinnickinnic just south of the main stretch in Bay View, above The Down & Over Pub.  Sort of surprising to pull up to a bar and unload your kids, but obviously the crowds are on different schedules.  And the peace signs point you in the right direction, so no worries about actually taking your kids to a bar 🙂

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    The stairs from the sidewalk to the walkway are under construction so be careful if it’s snowy.  And be prepared to walk up lots of stairs to the top floor of the building (it’s not stroller accessible).

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    Admission is $5 per kid (babies get in free) for the whole day.  Hours are 10am-5pm M, W, F and 8am-5pm T/Th.  I met the owner, Shannon, who was friendly and warm.  I got the scoop on how long they’ve been open (since last summer), and felt very welcomed.  The facility is full of second hand toys, with lots of room to run and ride tricycles.

    Snacks and coffee are available for purchase in the front room.  Bathrooms with changing tables are in the front as well (bathrooms could have used a cleaning that day).  We unloaded jackets and bags and immediately started playing with EVERYTHING.

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    My kids loved it.  Lots of toys to ride and make believe with.  The space is large with lots of room to explore.

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    So many things to climb and ride!

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    There are lots of different stations: books, dress up, trains, blocks, and more.

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    There’s a play structure in the middle, and our kids got plenty of use out of the slide!

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    We took a lunch break and headed to the front room.  The kids stuffed their faces with PB&Js and grapes, and talked about such important things as hiding under the table.

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    When we arrived just after 10am, we were the only folks there.  But quickly a handful of other families came, and I’d say there were 20 kids at most.  By the time we finished lunch, the place had pretty much cleared out except for a few children.  After our full morning of running and playing, we headed back home for naps.  Everyone got to burn lots of energy at Up Up & Play, which is always a plus!

    Peace,

    A. Storm