Archive for June, 2014

  • Chapter 69- Tosa Farmers Market

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    While Little T was at her cousins’ house for a sleepover (click here for a post about her adventure), I took the other three kids to the Tosa Farmers Market.  It’s amazing how having one less child to watch after changes the vibe!

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    After running into our neighbors and chatting near the railroad tracks, we headed in to take a look at the goods.  We marveled at the green lettuce, drooled over the real strawberries (not those giant barely-red ones that are abundant in the grocery store), and purchased some fresh eggs.

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    After taking a lap to see all the vendors, we stopped to listen to some delightful music.

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    Claire Kelly was the musician that day, and my favorite was her version of “Toxic” by Brittany Spears.  I actually ended up meeting Claire at the Radio Milwaukee Studio Session a few days after this trip, and she’s a really lovely person.  We chatted about her internship at the radio station, and she hooked up my kids with stickers and buttons.

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    Since it was time for “second breakfast” (anyone else’s kids hungry like an hour after breakfast?), we stopped at the Blue’s Egg stand and got an order of pancakes for the twins to share.  And since I was too busy feeding kids their first breakfast and forgot to feed myself, I got the polenta business. complete with an egg and creole sauce on top.  I’m sure the dish has an actual name, but that’s the best I can do.  It was amazing by the way.   We heard a train passing by and J couldn’t contain himself, yelling “CHOO CHOO!!!!!”.

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    After making another lap, we took my good friend Kate’s advice (because she has young kids and basically knows everything about this city, a great combo) and went down to the river to throw rocks in the water and wave at trains.  The pictures below are the only evidence of J and Little A having any special “twin connection” that people always ask me about, as their waving hands are in sync.

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    J and Little A had a blast throwing rocks.  We spent probably 20 minutes talking about trains and seeing how far they could toss stones.  And we also just hung out in silence, because being a two year old takes a lot of concentration.  It was a great morning, and I think we all enjoyed switching up the family dynamic a bit.  Little T got some special time with her cousins, and the twins got a bit more attention from me.  And of course Baby S is the most chill and happy baby ever, so she isn’t complaining.

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    Do you guys have any suggestions for other farmers markets in the Milwaukee area?  I’ve been meaning to hit up the West Allist market forever, but I’m sure there are many more worth checking out.  I’d love to hear your favorites.

    Thanks for reading,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 68- Sonny Knight & The Lakers at Stonefly Brewery

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    As a follow up to Friday’s post about seeing Sonny Knight and The Lakers at Radio Milwaukee, here are a few photos from the show at Stonefly Brewery that night.

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    First up was DJ Andy Noble…

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    Next on stage was Kid Millions & The Sounds of Time.  You’ve probably heard this on Radio Milwaukee, but here’s their newest single, In The Graveyard.  It was upbeat and solid dancing (or at least head bobbing for those not willing to break it down on the dance floor) music, and you KNOW I love a good hook, so I was a fan.

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    Sonny Knight was next up, after a nice hype up session by The Lakers.  The set was non-stop, one song led directly into another.  Sonny sang his heart out on stage and everyone was grooving to the tunes.If you don’t know his story, he recorded his first song at the age of 17.  He then served in Vietnam, got back into music in the 70’s with the band Haze, then made his living as a truck driver, then back to music with The Valdrons, and eventually met Eric Foss and started his own band.  Whew!  His new album “I’m Still Here” just released and is worth picking up.

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    Afterwards, the band stuck around to say hi and sign records.  Sonny was gracious and genuine, and complimented my husband on having a precious bunch of kids.  The band is on tour and seems to be a great group of guys.  I was tempted to bring them homemade cookies and chili because they were so nice and I know their schedule is pretty full with performances.

    Best wishes on tour, boys.  And thanks for a great show!

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 67- Sonny Knight & The Lakers Studio Session at Radio Milwaukee

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    This just happened, like an hour ago.  I won entrance to Radio Milwaukee’s Studio Session with Sonny Knight and The Lakers, but couldn’t find a sitter.  So I took the kids with me!  The lovely folks at Radio Milwaukee were totally fine with me bringing my four kids to a live recording.

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    We stopped at Stone Creek to get a special treat of lemonade and a chocolate chip cookie.  Because it was nap time and there’s nothing smarter than pumping your kids full of sugar right before a radio show.

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    The intro was full of soul and horns, and eventually Mr. Sonny Knight came on stage to give us all he had.

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    And we danced!  Check out this video of the girls.

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    I ran into Claire Kelly, who we saw at the Tosa Farmers Market last weekend.  Check back in a few days for a post on that.

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    The kids had a blast, didn’t cause a scene, and are now sporting some sweet Radio Milwaukee buttons!  We’ll happily be their new poster child(ren).

    The show was so fun that my husband and I are heading to the show at Stonefly Brewing tonight.  So all you Milwaukee people, get your babysitters in line and we’ll see you in Riverwest tonight!!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 66- Northpoint Custard & The Lakefront

    Welcome my first guest blogger!  Meet my sister-in-law Lisa Slama.  She, my brother, and their two young boys live on Milwaukee’s northern shore.  They are a family who loves to be outside, ride bikes, enjoy the city’s fine beer culture, work hard, and spend time with neighbors and friends.  This past weekend, they helped me out by having Little T over at their place (my husband’s currently working around the clock so I can use all the help I can get).  Keep an eye out for more guest blogging from this family of mine.

    Schools out for summer!  It’s time for extended bedtime, lots of outdoor play, and cousin sleepovers.  And nothing, and I mean nothing, beats summer in Milwaukee.  Friday we invited little cousin T over for a sleepover.  She’s a big commodity in our house with my two boys, and after some “discussion” of whose bed she would sleep in, we decided everyone would go to the guest bed.  Worked like a charm. 

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    Saturday seemed the perfect day to get down to the lakefront, grab some burgers, and enjoy the view.  So, I packed up her and my two boys (all ages 4-5) to check out Northpoint.  We arrived early, like 11:15 early, so finding parking and a lunch spot wasn’t too hard. All kids enjoyed their cheeseburgers and tots and we decided to try our hand at feeding the ducks.

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    My neighbor had recommended this outing, but I failed to ask where to go for optimal duck feeding.  Turns out I had the wrong spot (FYI, apparently good duck feeding is at/near the Milwaukee Yacht Club).  We navigated down some big rocks and set up shop near, but near enough, the ducks.  We tried our hardest to throw the bread far, but at the end of the day these ducks were just not motivated to come near us.

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    Kids lost interest so we packed up.  Who knew that the rock climbing back up would be the highlight of the trip?  These kids were pretty proud of getting up “rock mountain” all by themselves.

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    We explore North Point a bit, stopping to play on some non-playground structure things, and enjoying the views.

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    The kids did great and a quick stop for ice cream seemed in the cards.  All is ok with the world when you got ice cream, hot fudge, and sprinkles….and pretty awesome cousins.

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    We are newer to Milwaukee and haven’t explored too much of the lakefront.  Next time we’ll pack up the bikes and check out more of the scene.  My goal is to hit some of the outdoor movies at Veterans Park (probably sans kids), various fairs and festivals, and taking in some kite flying.

    Keep up the great work, Amber.  What a great resource for us all!

    -Lisa

  • Chapter 65- Milwaukee County Zoo

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    Remember how when I was on The Morning Blend (round two), I was all “we do a lot of foreshadowing and it helps our adventures to be successful”?  Yeah well I didn’t do that before our trip to the zoo last week.

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    We met a group of friends (we were four moms with ten kids total) and joined every other child in the Milwaukee area at the zoo.  None of my friends or I realized that it was the last day of school and every field trip would be to our same destination.  It took one of my friends 30 minutes of sitting in line to enter the parking lot!

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    We explored the Learning Zone for the first time.  It’s right behind the flamingos and is a small building where you can actually see veterinarians doing exams and procedures on animals.  WOW!

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    That day, some bats were getting eye exams.

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    We saw monkeys, giraffes, elephants, a badger, polar bears and something that screeched really loudly.

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    The big kids talked us into letting them do the pony rides.  Of course they had the time of their lives and wanted only to do other rides and get souvenirs and ride the carousel a million times.  More on that later…  But the two year olds of the bunch did a great job watching and not fussing about just watching.

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    Hello peacock!

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    We found a random picnic table somewhere near the farm section and unpacked lunches.  I’d say 50% of us nibbled on food while the other 50% spent time running with sticks and having general foot races.

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    I got a snapshot with my oldest and youngest girls.

    And then the exit.  One of my friends bailed before we even got to the carousel because her kids were melting.  I should have seen it as a sign.

    I went back and forth about letting them take a ride because it was close to nap and I was hot and flustered and I knew they’d never want to stop.  But as a personality test I recently took described me, I “never want to miss out on fun”, so I said “sure!”.  I ushered all my kids on during the busy loading up process, and was too late.  Every animal was taken except for one, and Little A threw the biggest stink so she got to ride on a horsey (yes I know that sucks for Little T and J who were easy going about it all).  Little T and J were actually super happy to sit on the swan bench.  I tried to manage spotting Little A while keeping an eye on the other two.  Baby S was a champ as per usual, and did just find strapped to my sweating body.

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    The picture above show us all smilng, which was very representative of the ride.  However, once it stopped and they realized we’d have to go, madness ensued.  I calmly walked out with a parade of screaming children.  It persisted the entire way until we got into the car.  There were so many kind parents who looked at me with “I feel your pain, lady” eyes, and some who even encouraged me to stay strong.

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    We loaded ourselves into the car and this is what I got to look at, with cries of “but I wanted another ride!” and “waaaaaaahhhhh!”

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    But a minute later we were all calm and talking about how we’d try it again next time.  And Little A was asleep before we even left the parking lot, J followed soon after.

    I described the morning as awesome and terrible to my husband.  And later that day while we were on a walk, I realized that that’s pretty much every adventure/trip out of the house.  Parts are amazing and fun, and the kids surprise every person they encounter with their good behavior.  And parts are awful and loud and ridiculous and incredibly frustrating (for us all).  But that’s sort of the game, isn’t it?  One trip is terrible/amazing.  Others are straight up fun and successful.  And others are overwhelming disasters.  But it evens out.

    A special shout out to my friends who I love, who help me with my kids on these adventures.  You know who you are and I thank you for chasing after my kids and distracting them when my hands are full and not making me feel bad about it.  I’ll do the same for you when I can.

    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 64- Hawthorn Glen

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    Hawthorn Glen was calling our name again.  We packed up sandwiches (instead of their normal Jif peanut butter and Smucker’s jam, I substituted homemade almond butter and purple carrot/blueberry puree.  They were not fooled) and headed out to Hawthorn Glen.  Unfortunately, construction of the parking lot is still underway, so we parked on State Street and made the walk to the entrance.  The good thing about it, is that it forced us to walk on the trails, which we’ve never done much before.

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    And MAN are those trails gorgeous!  Maybe it was my new prescription sunglasses (how was I living without these before?!), but the beauty of the green was striking.  Chipmunks were scampering beneath our feet, birds were singing above us, and the leaves provided some nice shade.

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    We headed to the playground and waited for some friends to arrive.

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    And yes he has a big black eye.  Ask his twin how he got it.

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    And once our friends joined, the fun continued.  Little A thought she was a big kid and stood on the tire swing.

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    Our buddy Big O took care of keeping the swing going while his mom and I sat on the blanket to chat.

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    And this one made some serious gains on learning to crawl!

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    A deer was spotted and we all ran to the field to view it…

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    And then, the hill.  We spent the next half hour rolling down and running up the hill.

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    My friend Margo and I joined in the fun!  When was the last time you rolled down a hill?  We asked each other that question and decided that was the day to end our hiatus from such an enjoyable thing.   And it’s amazing how dizzy we were after the first turn.

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    After the hill, we took a short walk through the woods and found lots of bugs to investigate.

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    Little T wasn’t a fan of holding the bugs, but I was able to snap an unprompted shot at it.  Afterwards, she said in a sort of flustered way that she didn’t like it.  And I told her that’s what being brave feels like.  Way to go Little T.

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    After bugs and running along paths, we headed back to our cars (who am I kidding?  MINIVANS.  There, I said it.) and big kids got to help little kids into their carseats.

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    As I’ve said before, I’m a huge fan of this park.  It’s got trails, a giant field, two play structures, a nature center, and no swings (except for the one tire swing).  If we’re around swings, I’m stuck pushing one kid, while trying to keep track of the others.  Or other random parents end up pushing my kid on the swing because I’m busy chasing after any other number of children.

    So Hawthorn Glen has my vote for that and many other reasons.

    Hope the summer’s treating you all well!  Are there any other spots in Milwaukee we should check out?

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 63- Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (On the Road- Cathedral Square)

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    The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra gave a free concert in Cathedral Square, and since it was one of the most beautiful days in a while, we packed up a picnic and headed out.

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    We arrived just after 5:30pm, and met up with my brother and his family.  We brought blankets, food, beverages, and one chair.  Because as we were leaving our driveway, I figured that one camping chair for the six of us is better than none.  Right?

    There was a fairly substantial crowd of younger and older folks by the time we got there.  Most everyone was enjoying themselves, talking with friends, having a drink, snacking, or playing with kids on the playground.

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    While we waited for the music to start, the kids did some serious foot-racing up and down the sidewalk.

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    The music started and we sat down to eat some snacks.  We were a little unsure if everyone around us was appalled and or irritated by the seven children we had under age six.  In my humble opinion, we maintained pretty well.  Until we didn’t.  So we hit up the playground and took it over.  I’m bummed that I didn’t get to hear much that the conductor had to say, or even really pay attention to the music.  Because classical music holds a special spot in my heart, as I grew up playing it on both cello and piano.  But the duty of helping kids up ladders and keeping other kids from throwing sand in my kids’ eyes called.

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    My kids got the luxury of being outside, eating a picnic with their family, and playing (wrestling) with cousins and friends in the sand.

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    There are a ton of free concerts throughout Milwaukee during the summer.  Click here to get a list of parks in your neighborhood (and in new neighborhoods) that offer free music.  Three cheers for Milwaukee County Parks System!

    Are you enjoying the beginning of your summer?  Has it started for you yet?  I’d love to hear how you’re spending your days, and what you have planned for the next few months.

    Peace!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 62- Urban Ecology Center & Love Handle

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    On Saturday I took the kids to the Urban Ecology Center’s Plant Sale.  We looked at the plants and flowers for a quick bit, then headed inside to check things out.

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    We stopped at the Native Wisconsin Animal Room, and checked out the reptiles.

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    The nice guy working even took out a snake for us to touch.

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    Baby S needed to eat, so we parked it in the lobby and the big kids (yes, the twins are now officially “big”) played with toys and the table with magnets.  AND THEN…..

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    We spent a solid 20 minutes on the “secret slide”.  Because I couldn’t slide down with a baby on my person, I trusted the kids to stay together and go out the building to the exterior slide entrance.  Luckily Little T was the only one strong enough to open the doors, so her little siblings couldn’t leave without her.

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    The volunteer working reception, Laura, was so helpful and ok with us hanging out in the building for most of the morning.

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    Next we headed up the observation tower for a view.

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    Little A faced her fear of the see-through stairs, and we all went steadily up the tower.

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    And they were thrilled about getting our photo taken once we got to the top.

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    But the view!  The view, kids!  We talked about downtown, and the tall buildings.  And the blue sky and the construction, of course.  After we headed back down, we went to the small pond to look at lily pads and tadpoles.

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    The sun was hot, so we walked under the observation tower to look at the bike path.

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    And then spent another 20 minutes yelling “HI BICYCLES!  HI WALKERS!  HI RUNNERS!!!” to the folks using the Oak Leaf Trail.

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    And then we stuffed our faces with bananas and headed to the car.

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    I had plans to make this new pork recipe for dinner, and thought it would taste delicious in a tortilla with something crunchy and pickled on top.  And the only place I could think of to get such crunchy and pickled items was Love Handle.  I’ve never been, but seen the menu, so we went.

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    Jim was super nice and helpful, and suggested a few things.  I ended up saying yes to all because there’s pretty much nothing I like better than sour and pickled foods.

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    Little T was my helper and carried our bag.

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    The twins were no help at all but kept themselves entertained by tickling each other.

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    And Baby S helped by carrying (eating) my keys.

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    I had the kids solo because my husband works really hard, and a lot.  So weekends aren’t the typical everyone-is-home-and-just-hanging-out weekends in our house.  But our Saturday without Papa was totally successful.  And there were no prolonged meltdowns, I ran into an old friend, the kids burned up some energy, we helped support a great organization, and we got outside.  Life’s alright, people.

    Oh, and the pickled onions and carrot/jalepeño business was amazing on the make-shift tacos.  I highly recommend it all.

    Happy summer, everyone!

    A. Storm