Archive for August, 2014

  • Chapter 79- The Original Wailers at Shank Hall


    Thanks to my favorite radio station 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, I won free tickets to see The Original Wailers at Shank Hall last week.  When I called in, DJ Marcus Doucette and I talked briefly about my name, my birthday, my phone number (all are pretty unusual) and my knack for winning things.   I tend to be lucky with things like this and other small or insignificant things.  But after my conversation, I decided to buy a lottery ticket.  No luck though, I did not become a millionaire in the past week.


    Back to the show…I got my friend Margo to come with me, and we arrived late (I can actually blame it on lack of parking from construction.  Well that and we both had a bunch of kids to get down for bed before we could leave home) and grabbed a drink.   The music was great, a lot of Bob Marley songs and some original.   The lead singer, Chet Samuels, had a smooth voice, and didn’t sound to be imitating Bob Marley or anything.  He had his own mellow style.  Howard Smith was on drums, and though I know nothing about percussion, I thought his playing was tight and on point.


    Al Anderson was on lead guitar and during a small intermission, serenaded us all with some “noodling” (improv and continuous solo playing).


    I was really impressed with everyone, but in particular the bass player Rohan Reid (pictured above).  His solo was incredible!  It was clear that he branches out from doing Raggae and plays jazz and other styles of music.


    After a while of just hanging out in the back and watching, my friend turned to me and asked why we weren’t out on the floor dancing.   It was clear that much of the crowd was having a good time but felt self-conscious about dancing.  So we abandoned our drinks and made our way to the front of the crowd and danced like ladies I made fun of at one point in my life.


    Thanks Radio Milwaukee for the tickets!  It was a great chance to get out and see some of what the city has to offer.


    What about you?  Have you seen any good shows lately?  Are you coming to Quarters to see ROM (my friend’s band) with me on Sept 26?

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 78- Gilles Frozen Custard


    It was a day when Little T was on a Special Date with Theo, and I needed to get out of the house with the other kids.  I packed them up and we drove to Gilles Frozen Custard, a place I remember going to when I was a kid (keep in mind I grew up two hours north of Milwaukee).  You see, when you have a dad who loves ice cream as much as mine, you spend a bit of time at places like Gilles, Leon’s, Dairy Queen and anything in between.

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    We ordered burgers and grilled cheese, and scored a table outside.  The folks next to us had 7 children with them, and I felt the tables turned a little. It’s usually other people who are gawking at the huge number of young children I’ve taken out in public.  But this time, I did the gawking.  And offering kind eyes when the parents were frustrated with one of their kids who had requested vanilla custard after she’d already put in the order for and received her chocolate custard.


    Baby S looks like a muppet here.  Blame it on her first taste of grilled cheese.

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    The custard was a pretty big hit with the twins.

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    Not so much of a hit with the baby.  Her first taste of custard didn’t go so well (don’t tell my dad).

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    The twins couldn’t really fathom why I didn’t get any custard.  The words “I don’t really like ice cream that much” simply didn’t register.  Probably because they were already on their sugar high and starting to climb parking structures.  So we walked around the lot a little and took a few photos.

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    And then, because a parking lot is a terrible place to hang out with your two year old twins while they’re all hopped up on sugar, we found a playground near by.

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    And ran.  And ran.  And peed on a tree (anyone else in the midst of potty training?).  And ran.

    And if the pictures don’t do it, here’s a video: run

    Hope you’re enjoying the last bit of summer here, and good luck to all the kids (and parents) with families heading back to school!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 77- Doors Open Milwaukee (Volunteer Orientation)


    For the past few years, I’d hear about Doors Open Milwaukee as it was happening and wish I had coordinated my life so I could attend.  The idea of the event is to open up buildings in Milwaukee to the public, free of cost, for one weekend.  Check out their website for a list of over 150 buildings at which you could get a closer look.

    This year I decided to sign up to volunteer so I wouldn’t miss the weekend.  Volunteers hang out at one of the sites for a 4 hour shift and greet people entering the building.  And for just those 4 hours, you get to be a part of this cool event AND get a special volunteer badge which lets you enter some of the more popular sites through a separate “volunteer only” line.


    So this morning, after a night of food poisoning, I got myself together by stopping by Rocket Baby Bakery to grab a coffee and croissant, and then met up with other volunteers at the Central Library.

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    We met up in the Centennial Hall, and got a briefing on expectations and details.

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    Volunteer Coordinator Melinda Kallenberger gave us the run down, and also informed us that they’re still looking for over 100 volunteers for the event!  People, stop reading my blog right now and visit the site to get in touch with Melinda and let her know you’ll sign up for one 4 hour shift on Saturday September 20 or Sunday the 21st!


    Afterwards, we got our location assignments (I’ll be in the Milwaukee Public Museum’s Dome Theater), chatted with other volunteers, and fell in love with the new GLOW IN THE DARK t-shirts for sale:



    This is a family-friendly event, too.  A free kids’ passport is available to get your young ones involved in exploring their city.


    I’ll post more about the event after it happens, but I’m so excited to finally check this out.  I hope you can carve out 4 hours of your time to sit and greet people who are hoping to learn more about the city.  Stay tuned for my experience with the weekend, and I’d love to hear if you’ve volunteered or attended before.  Please share!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 76- Governor Dodge State Park and more (Travel Edition)


    You see the time on that clock?  It’s 6:45PM.  And that’s what time we finally left Milwaukee for the two hour drive to Governor Dodge State Park for a few nights of tent camping.  Just 6 hours and 45 minutes late.


    Because my husband is a genius, and because the above picture is of Little A passed out before we even left Milwaukee County, he suggested we stay in a hotel that night and ease our way into camping.  The kids were beyond excited once we arrived at some crappy Super 8, because “MOM!!! There’s a tiny coffee maker!!!!  And little soap and a tiny fridge and a COFFEE MAKER!  You want coffee?  Here you go.  Papa, you want coffee?”

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    I’d read recently some great ideas and tips on traveling with kids, and had visions of neatly packaged snacks and toys and car games.  But instead, we piled in the car with blankies and water bottles.  That’s pretty much it.  So when it came to bedtime, Theo happened to have Harry Potter in his bag (of all the books he was going to read while on vacation…yeah right) and that was their bedtime story.


    The next morning, we headed to our site at the park and set up camp.  Little T, Little A and J got one tent, while the rest of us got the other.

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    Accommodations were great, mosquitos were minimal, and shade was a plenty.

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    Our Eno hammock (highly recommend that to anyone in the market for one.  Just make sure to get the double so you can fit a million kids into it) fit nicely between some trees, and we all took turns relaxing (or roughhousing) in it.

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    My oldest went on a hike and brought me back a special rock and a clover.  It was pretty much the sweetest.


    I was sort of dreading sleeping in tents.  Not because I’d be uncomfortable, but because kids would be out of their element and potentially NOT sleep.  But for the most part, people slept when they should have.

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    Bagheera joined me on a few of the trips I took back up to the ranger station to do things like get firewood and inquire about ice.  He’s the best dog ever and I could go on and on about him, but that’s really all you need to know.

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    This peaceful moment was brought to you by a few mugs of wine and my husband who took the kids on a car ride (all were either approaching or already in meltdown mode).   He was gone for much longer than I anticipated, and everything was packed in the car with him (except said wine and mug), so I got a little weird.  I’d spent enough time in the hammock, stoked the fire, threw some rocks, and found the only logical next step to take pictures of myself jumping off things.  So here you go.

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    The next day, Uncle Wow (Will) and Auntie Brave (Rae) joined us and we went to the lake to swim, play games, and eat ice cream.

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    Little T picked up my camera to take some photos of us playing a game.  I have no idea what it’s called but it involves a frisbee and a drink in your hand.  I’ll just let her pictures explain.

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    We hung out at the beach and Little A proved she’s fearless.  She’ll be swimming soon, while her twin preferred to play in the “sandbox”.

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    Back at the campsite Uncle Wow broke out a huge red balloon and my kids had a blast with it for 5 minutes until they popped it.

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    At the end of the camping trip, we packed up and kept heading west to the Driftless area to visit some family for a few days.

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    Here are some wildflowers Little T picked for me.  She’s such a sweetheart.


    We camped out at the cabin that Theo built back when we moved back to WI from Seattle.  It’s a beautiful place up on a hill, surrounded by trails and flowers and ferns galore.  We’re excited to spend more time there, and make some memories for our kids.


    Oh, and not only can my husband make things like cabins, he makes a mean pudgie pie grilled cheese sandwich and cup of coffee for breakfast.


    The above picture is of Theo taking the big three to the Sound of Music hill, and treating them to some chocolate.  I have a feeling that Hershey’s bar was accompanied by some words of love and adoration.

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    Back at my sister in law’s house, we gathered with more family for some cousin time.  And let me tell you, that motorcycle pictured is a hit!

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    Our old neighbors and dear friends stopped by the cabin to eat some corn and try and keep kids out of trouble.  We were pretty successful at both endeavors (minus some mystery slivers).

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    It was a great week.  Not all parts were super relaxing or easy, but it was great to spend time outside and see some people we love.

    We’re now home trying to recover from a few cases of croup and ear infections.  But hey, at least it happened now instead of while camping!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 75- Wisconsin State Fair


    I came away with two things after visiting the Wisconsin State Fair today: I probably won’t eat meat anymore, and the advantage of having a screaming child is that you can keep track of them really easily in a sea of people.

    Oh yeah, and also I vow not to do this again next year.  So when I get all excited and say things like “It’ll be fine!  I’ll just go right when they open at 8am and prep my kids for no rides/prizes/games just animals and maybe some food.  We’ll be in and out and everyone will have fun”, direct me back to memories of numerous looks of annoyance and pity from folks walking past me.   And my circus of children screaming at me for things like flushing their pee down the potty instead of letting THEM do it.  Seriously.

    It wasn’t all bad, though.  Here are the highlights:

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    I love the giant slide, I really do.  If it were like $1 a ride, I’d be on it all day.  All the kids went down except for Baby S (I should add that my brother in law and his girlfriend came with me, so don’t worry, I didn’t leave the baby with a stranger while I went on rides).  And remember the “no rides” comment above?  Well I didn’t make it clear that I made an exception for myself (totally unfair, I know).  And it came back to sting me later when we couldn’t go on the bungee rides.


    After the slide, we went to see the pigs.


    And man, are they lazy.


    Next we went to the poultry and rabbit barn.

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    This dude was not please that I was taking his photo.  Either that or the fact that he was in a small cage.

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    This rooster caused some distress with Little T.  She was really worried that J was getting too close because the rooster “looked a little bit dangerous”.


    Little A liked the “tiny dinosaurs”.


    And we saw chicks hatching!!!!

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    We were hungry, and stopped in a shady spot to share a corn dog.

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    The delightful image that popped into my mind as my kids ravenously ate the hot dog and cornbread combo was from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.  It’s after Jen wakes up from being dehydrated, starving and exhausted from riding in the desert, and Lo hands her some sort of meat on a stick and she gnaws into the food, barely coming up for air.


    So naturally, we got cream puffs afterwards.

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    Then commenced the screaming because I committed the grave sin of wiping someone’s face when THEY wanted to do it.  So we packed up to go home and then everyone screamed because we were going home.  You guys get what kind of morning I’m talking about, right?

    And once home, we all napped.  HARD.

    Maybe in a few years it’ll be easier to navigate the fair with the kids.  But currently, with a 4 year old, 2 year old twins, and 9 month old, it’s not enjoyable enough to make it worth it.  How about you, did you make it to a fair this summer?  How was your experience?

    A. Storm