Archive for April, 2014

  • Chapter 54- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

    Spring break brought colds and fevers, but the day we all felt better we headed to SANC to hike with some friends.  Upon entering the nature center, we met this handsome dude courting some lady turkeys on the road.

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    We met up with my friend Margo and her three boys, ate a quick packed lunch inside the building, and made it to the nature preschool’s play space.  We turned over logs and dug in the dirt.  We found a few worms and roly poly bugs, said hi to them, and put them back.

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    We hit up a second play space with a little log cabin, and had a grand time poking our heads out of the windows.  If you use the school’s play spaces, it’s important to remember that kids will be using the space in a few days, so take care and be respectful.

    On our walk to the second play space, a nice woman stopped me and said “Milwaukee By Storm?!”.  I was so stunned that someone recognized me, and kept waiting for her to introduce herself as a daughter of my mom’s friend or something.  Because my mom is sort of my biggest advertiser.

    But this lovely reader, Jennifer, had stumbled upon the blog and had some nice things to say.  I chatted with her and met her two adorable kids, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying being outside.  What a nice addition to a great adventure!

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    The kids were busy making a large batch of mud soup.  Then they started throwing it and we all got some practice in refraining from tossing it in each other’s faces.

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    This was supposed to be a picture of me and all four of my kids.  But two out of four ain’t bad!

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    Next, we took to the trails and looked for the screech owl, found walking sticks, and played in the mud (well those of us with rain boots did).

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    Some puddles are just too big for two year olds.  Luckily super mama Margo helped out the boys.

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    Evidence of a good time!  We headed back to the parking lot, decided it was a great morning to explore nature, and stuffed our faces with the remainders of our lunches.

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    The next day I found the twins some rain boots so they could enjoy the mud on our next adventure.  It’s been almost a week and they’ve worn the rain boots almost non-stop.

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    Here’s to getting outside, and the twins being old enough to (mostly) stay on trails and not do extremely dangerous things!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 53- Discovery World’s Lawn, Milwaukee Art Museum, and Wauwatosa Public Library

    For the second time in my life, I was early for something.  We showed up to the Milwaukee Art Museum 30 minutes before they opened, so we parked and walked over to Discovery World’s lawn to hang out.

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    We found our way to the dock and climbed on the wooded steps and talked about how deep Lake Michigan is and how many fish live in the water.

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    At 10am, we headed to the museum, stood against some white walls for photos, then headed to the Play Date With Art.

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    First, we made patchwork “quilts”, and talked with our friend Jim (who works at the entrance ushering people into the museum and shares his general light and energy with folks).

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    Then we sat on colored squares and sang songs, played instruments, and played games.  Afterwards, my brother, who works a block away from the museum, met us in the cafe for a quick lunch.

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    Then, because everyone was being super awesome and naps don’t happen every day these days, we headed to the Wauwatosa Public Library to check out some books.  We’re doing the 1001 books before kindergarten challenge, so expect to see a lot of library adventures this summer!

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    Have a great weekend, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 52- Aldo Leopold Nature Center (Travel Edition)

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    We made the trip to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Madison last week, and had a blast!

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    The lobby was home to some great interactive games, stations, and activities.  We hung out there while we waited for our friends to meet us.  And yes that’s the first time we’ve arrived early for anything.  Ever.

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    We played with puppets and frog figurines and planted flowers.  All for free!  The lobby and trails don’t require tickets, but the special exhibits do.  We didn’t make it to the exhibits because we didn’t have enough time, but they seem quite impressive.

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    We headed outside to the trails, which were pretty interesting because they had just done their annual burning of the grasses.  The landscape was mostly charred, and gave us a good topic to discuss with the kids.

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    We unpacked our lunches in one of the open spaces, and set up shop on the log stumps.  Pictured above is the frantic scramble for grapes that had fallen on the ground.  A little dirt never hurt anyone, right?

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    We spent the rest of the time running, jumping, playing and of course trying to get all of the kids to pose for a photo.

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    We stopped back in the lobby to regroup and change diapers and check out the gift shop, and slowly made our way to the cars.  None of us wanted to leave because it was such a great morning.  Old and new friends combined with fresh air and play equals peace.

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    What are your favorite places to explore outdoors?  We’re always up for something new, so if you have any suggestions or want to share stories of your outdoor adventures, please leave a comment!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 51- Urban Ecology Center

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    Pancake breakfast at The Urban Ecology Center?  Count me in.  We piled everyone up in the car and made the short trip to The UEC’s Washington Park location for a morning of maple syrup and nature walks.  Pictured above is where the delicious maple syrup was made.  We learned the easy steps to making maple syrup.  Tap the trees surrounding the building, collect and boil for hours.  Strain and serve.

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    After we had our fill of pancakes, we looked around at the wildlife exhibits indoors.  Fish, snakes, turtles and salamanders kept the kids intrigued for a solid 20 minutes.

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    Did you know that members of the UEC can rent equipment like fishing poles, kayaks, canoes, skis, snowshoes and more?  All for free!

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    After burning off some energy running and discovering lots of geese and squirrels, we headed to the band shell.

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    Many Milwaukee parks offer free concerts, and Washington Park is included (sorry I can’t find a better link to help you locate the schedule for concerts.  But I know they exist!)  Head on over to this park on Wednesday nights during the summer, and you can find something more entertaining that what we provided….me and my kids singing “Edelweiss”.

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    Here’s to good weather and getting outside!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 50- Dinosaur Discovery Museum

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    A family friend recommended the Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha, and since I mistakenly thought Kenosha was 20 minutes south, I decided to make a last minute trip.  The museum doesn’t open until noon, so at 11am I packed up the kids, stopped at Rocket Baby Bakery for some monkey bread, turned up Katy Perry’s “Roar” and cruised down to Kenosha.  My son thought the ride was the main event, because we saw a million different kinds of trucks and construction machines which basically blew his mind.

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    We got there with enough time to eat some lunch in the car, and run around the lawn before we hit the dinos (and yes, Little T dressed herself).

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    We headed in to the free museum, and since I did no research before we went, I was a little surprised to find out that it was more or less one room.  Don’t get me wrong, it was great, just a smaller than I was expecting.  But we went in and saw dinosaur bones, including a T. Rex!  When my kids are older and I’m able to do more than just keep them safe, we’ll incorporate some lessons about fossils to supplement their Dinosaur Train knowledge.

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    Then we went downstairs and saw a paleontologist working and played with crayons and books.

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    After about 45 minutes in the museum, we headed outside to run on the grass and wait for…

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    …the next street car to arrive!  I randomly saw it stop, so we jumped on.  It cost me a whopping dollar to take us all on it, and was well worth the extra dollar I gave the driver as a donation.  Initially, Little T & Little A had to help their brother be brave.  Because as awesome as machines and vehicles are, they can be a little intimidating to a 2 year old.  Once we got on and huddled in Mama’s lap, all was well.

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    The ride was about 10 minutes and went a few blocks, giving us views of the water and a lighthouse and the police station.

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    And as it turns out it’s really hard to take a picture of yourself and four kids with a large camera.  Little A is behind J, you can see her hand.  Just to document that we did this.  We did this!  On the fly, and coming off of colds, without any planning.

    Here’s to getting out of the house,

    A. Storm