All posts in Architecture

  • Chapter 138- Madison for New Years!


    Well it’s been a while, and it’s time to catch up.  For New Years, we spent the night at our dear friends’ house.  Kady and Laduma hosted our crew and threw an amazing shindig filled with glow-in-the dark balloons and a countdown at 8pm.  Shhh, don’t tell the kids!


    After we woke up the next morning (not late enough for my liking), my husband drove back to Milwaukee to do a polar plunge with some friends and family.  The kids and I took our time leaving Madison, and I decided to take them through campus and show them my old university.

    Most everything was closed, so we ended up at the boathouse.  I told them all about how I rowed in High School with a club team, and then joined the crew team at UW Madison.  We also looked out at picnic point, thinking back to my framed drawing of it that we have back home.  My kids unenthusiastically agreed that it looks just like the real thing.


    Since pretty much the whole city was closed on New Years Day, we ended up at the capitol building.  There were lots of people inside, and a large holiday display that the kids loved.


    We walked around, noting the shapes and colors of the building, talking about our government and political leaders, and hoped to come back again when the rooftop access is open.


    It was a pleasant albeit brief visit to Madison, a city that will always a certain amount of charm for me.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 112- Performing Arts in the Park

    I found out through the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s Facebook page that the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) put on a cool and free event to bring arts to families.  There were events at Humboldt, Lincoln, Gordon, Mitchell, Lafollette parks and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.  We chose the latter location because First Stage was there, and my kids wanted to see some acting.


    Me and the brood, plus a sweet little girl in pink whose mom took our photo.


    We were welcomed inside and the folks from First Stage greeted us and invited the kids on stage!  My kids were excited to head on up, and only one got shy periodically.


    The kids got to join in on warm ups, using their imaginations, and offering suggestions for the storyline.

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    My youngest even joined in 🙂 She spent the rest of the time walking up and down the stairs to the stage.  And fell on her face twice.

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    The kids got to be on stage for like 45 minutes, and were FULLY engaged the entire time.  They thought it was a morning of playing, basically.  There were no specific acting methods and no rigid instructions.  Instead, they got a general outline for how to tell a story on stage and an opportunity to share ideas about the story.

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    We even won a free book from First Stage, and Little T has been reading (looking at) it since!


    After the event was finished, we walked around the community center a bit, admiring the architecture, the fish…

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    …and even got to watch some kids doing gymnastics!

    Thanks UPAF, First Stage, and Milwaukee County Parks for a fun morning.  I only wish the performances throughout the city were staggered so we could have attended more!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 84- Doors Open Milwaukee (Part III)


    Welcome to your third and final installment of the Doors Open Milwaukee weekend!  After an easy and really enjoyable time volunteering, and an in-depth tour of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, I took Sunday to explore.


    Remember how in my first post, I told you that when I volunteered I got to meet great people, get a sneak peak at the projection room at the Public Museum, and generally have a great morning?  Well another perk of volunteering is that you get a special badge that lets you in a separate line for busy locations (see photo above).  You just have to pass by all the people waiting in the rain respectfully, and tell them that they can skip ahead next year if they volunteer too!

    Anyway, first stop was a Frank Lloyd Wright model home, and it was amazing.   The house was under 900 sq. feet, and felt much bigger.  We learned all about the lines and light and useable space.  I couldn’t take any photos of the home inside, so you’ll just have to check it out yourself to see.


    Next, we headed to the Modjeska Theater.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t open because it didn’t look like much from outside, but I was wrong.  We headed in and gave the nice volunteer our zip codes, and made our way into the theater.



    A nice gentleman was telling us all about the renovation efforts, and it was fun to imagine the potential of this community theater.  A lot of work still needs to be done, but even with paint peeling and chairs broken, you can feel the rich history and opportunity for something great.

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    Next came some poor planning, and we went to St. Stanislaus church.  We didn’t read the guide to realize that the church wasn’t open until 1pm, so we took a few photos of the outside and kept on our way…

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    …to The Milwaukee Ballet!  We got a great and thorough guided tour and learned all about the building and company.  Did you know that the floor pictured above is moveable?  The company takes it (or a replica) with them to keep their dancers’ joints safe.  I’d love to see what moving and installing a huge floor looks like!


    We were granted access to the costume room.  The costumes were amazing, people.  To see racks and racks (some hanging from the ceiling) of incredible workmanship was really great.  They rent both to and from other companies, and some of the costumes have lasted upwards of 20 years.  Not THAT’S some quality craftsmanship.

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    After the ballet, we headed to the US Bank Observation deck.  I was surprised that there was no line, so we entered the building and headed right up to the freight elevator.  After a minute of being whoosed up to the 41st floor, we headed through some sort of mechanical room to the deck.

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    I was a little surprised that most of the deck was covered by the huge US Bank signs on the outside of the building, but obviously we still got a great view of the city I call home.

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    And finally, we found our way to the Best Place at Pabst Brewery.  Parking was sort of a mess, but I swear, everyone participating in Doors Open was friendly and happy to be exploring their city so it didn’t matter.  I think at one point, my husband actually said “Wow, I’m so inspired to get involved in our city”. Way to go Doors Open/Historic Milwaukee.  I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point of the event.

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    Next year I’ll do some better planning (well any planning..I didn’t plan out a single thing until we got in the car).  There were so many sites I wanted to explore, like churches, but didn’t get a chance to.  It’s worth noting that some places are open only on Saturday or Sunday of the event.  The in-depth tour was great and I wish I could have gone to see the free presentation by John Gurda at St. Josaphat’s Basilica.  So I guess what I’m saying is that next year I’ll pack in more.  And do it efficiently.

    There were a lot of people who went with their kids, and it would be great to take them to some sites.  However, I was really happy that I didn’t have my four young kids with me that day.  If I’d gone to different sites, I might not feel the same.  I met a woman recently who said she took her kids to see a graphic waterfall.  Tucked in an alley.  And the guy programming the waterfall even put her kids’ names in it.  Rad, right?

    So my last thanks to Doors Open Milwaukee, I’ll see you next year.  And I’ll recruit more volunteers (ahem, I mean YOU) and explore more of the city.

    Thanks for joining in on the adventure, everyone!

    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 55- Milwaukee Art Museum and O’Donnell Park

    Because last time we went to the Milwaukee Art Museum and didn’t have enough time after the Play Date with Art to visit the Kohl’s Art Generation Gallery, we made a special trip to the MAM last week.  We picked up Uncle Will and Auntie Rae and headed out the door.


    We had to make a stop in a random hallway of course, to test out some awesome poses.  We headed upstairs and found our friend Jim, who works in the lobby a few mornings per week.  He was nice enough to let us crash his coffee break in the cafe.


    Then made our way to the kids’ gallery.  We made stories on the giant felt canvases and made some stop animation videos, you can watch them here and here and here.  We chatted with Jess, one of the super awesome employees in the Education Dept, and had lots of tears about wanting to be held.  Anyone else out there going through that stage with a 2 year old?

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    This was Little T’s favorite drawing.


    Because the meltdowns just kept coming (though you wouldn’t guess it from the dreamy pictures, right?), we called it quits inside and headed to the lawn to eat some pickles and sandwiches and apples.  It was the first time I’ve ever seen the Burke Brise Soliel (wings) open and close, pretty cool!!

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    We then walked across the bridge that crosses Lincoln Memorial Drive, which I’ve NEVER done before.  What?!  How have I made it this long without checking it out?  It was a great view of the city.  And I love taking the kids downtown, exposing them to the city.  Makes for lots of opportunities to talk about little things like…how the world works.



    When we made it across the bridge, we were at O’Donnell Park.  It’s a small grassy area by the Children’s Museum.  We played and ran up and down the tiny hill and jumped off of concrete benches.

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    And someone was particularly grumpy the entire day and refused to get in the Storm family photo, so this is the best we could do to prove that we were all there.

    Here’s to less grumpy and less fever-ridden days….

    A. Storm