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  • In case you had the wrong idea about me…

    I feel like I need to clear up something.  An old friend of mine and I were texting the other day.  She asked what I was up to, and I said “not really anything…just sort of, you know…waiting till kids’ bedtime”.  Here’s what followed:

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    Because here’s the thing.  I’ve had some people tell me that my life looks “perfect” from the blog, that I always do such amazing things with my kids all the time, that they could never do what I do even with less kids.  Or my favorite, that I seem so organized and together.

    So I’m here to set the record straight.  There are approximately 56 hours in a week which I could take my kids out adventuring (8 hours a day, 7 days a week).  Each blog entry covers about 2-3 hours of our week.  That means that the remaining 53 hours are spent doing things like:

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    Playing naked karate in front of a soccer game.

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    Going to the doctor’s office because if someone gets sick, that means that someone else will get sick two days later.  And someone else two days after that.  And the someone else two days after that.  And maybe I’m lucky to not get sick, but chances are I will and we’ll have another day at home doing exactly nothing.

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    Building “A Big Dog Bone” out of wood, paper cups, and garbage they found in our tiny back yard.  Which is dangerous.

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    Eating pizza on the couch.  In nothing but a diaper.

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    Piling up all the crap from my four kids’ shared bedroom, into one bed.

    I swear a lot.  My kids eat fast food.  Our neighbors can hear yelling if our windows are open, I’m sure.  We watch too much TV.  I make mistakes with my kids, my husband, my family, and my friends on a regular basis.

    The definition of perfect (as described by dictionary.com) follows:

    1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type
    2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement
    3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose
    4. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings
    5. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail
    6. thorough; complete; utter
    7. pure or unmixed
    I’m not unanimously, correct, thorough, excellent beyond improvement, or without flaws.  For example, I can’t figure out how to get this post to format correctly with spacing, and I’m too lazy to do any research/problem solving.
    But I’m doing the best I can.  And if I don’t take pictures of the meltdowns, the yelling, the sitting at home doing nothing, just please know that they exist.  Because that stuff just isn’t as fun to look at.  And since my mom is my biggest fan, I’d like to post cute pictures of her grandkids and make her proud of me actually getting my crew out of the house.
    Now that you have the full (well almost 😉 ) picture of me, let’s keep adventuring.
    Thanks for reading,
    A. Storm

     

  • Chapter 46- Supermercado El Rey

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    I’d heard on Radio Milwaukee about the El Rey grocery store, and that you can get lunch within the market.  So while running some errands sort of near 16th and National, I made my way to the Nuevo Mercado El Rey.

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    There are a few different locations of El Rey, but this market has a deli, meat counter, produce section, bakery, dry goods section and restaurant.  I browsed around and looked at pinatas, then found my way to Taco Loco to get some lunch.

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    I wasn’t quite sure how to order, so I caught the eye of a woman behind the counter to ask if I should just sit at the counter.  She motioned “yes” and I took a seat.  She handed me a menu over the divider, and I decided on the tamale plate and a horchata to drink, just because I’d never had it.  A minute later the woman handed me some salsa (pico and hot) and chips, by reaching over the plexiglass divider.  Both salsas tasted fresh and bright.

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    A nice gentleman sat next to me at the counter, and we struck up conversation about the food.  Gil was familiar with El Rey, and we talked about the authenticity of the market and how it’s the right place to go for the best Mexican food in town.  I learned a little about him (he works for La Nueva Ritmo, a Spanish radio station), a lot about local food, and he was nice enough to pose for a picture with me.

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    Another few minutes and a waitress came by with my tamale plate and horchata.  Both were great.  The horchata was a rice water, flavored with cinnamon and other spices, and served over crushed ice.  The pollo tamales were soft and flavorful, and were just what I wanted.

    Gil and I continued to talk about other Mexican restaurants in town, and how Cempazuchi is known for their Oaxacan influence.  I learned that Oaxaca is famous for their seven moles, all different colors and made by different methods of cooking the peppers and adding spices.  When Gil comes to El Rey, he simply takes a look at what’s cooking that day and orders what’s freshest and most appetizing.

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    It was a really enjoyable and quick lunch, which combined fresh and delicious food, visiting a new community, and chatting with a stranger.

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    A. Storm

  • Chapter Thirty Two- Not much

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    I went on a date with baby S to Stone Creek coffee.

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    The twins got shirts with capes.  And wore them for 72 hours straight.

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    Little T got her fingernails painted by Grandma.

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    We went to the doctor’s office.  No pertussis, don’t worry.

    And pushed each other around in boxes.

    And walked around in Uncle Will’s jacket.

     

  • Chapter Thirty One- Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital

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    Proof that even with your fourth kid, you still don’t look like you know what you’re doing 🙂

    This past week, I took an adventure to Columbia St. Mary’s hospital on the east side.  Theo and I woke up at 4am to make our pre-dawn appointment for an ECV (where the doc tries to turn a breech baby by placing her hands on your belly and spinning).  But, baby girl had already turned around (the fourth time in one week going from breech to vertex, highly unusual for a baby to do that in the last week of pregnancy) and contractions were regular so we got things going with some pitocin and were off to the races.  We chose this hospital because it’s where my amazing OB delivers, though I got a tour of Authentic Birth Center just last week.  And had I gotten that tour earlier in the pregnancy, I would have chosen to have my baby there because it’s BEAUTIFUL and I went without an epidural which would have been perfect.  BUT…my experience in the hospital was just how I wanted it to be.  And we got a beautiful babe out of it!

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    Little miss was born at 2:50pm, and I can’t tell you her birth weight because we don’t know.  She was measured at 7lbs 14 oz, but by midnight that night was up to 8lb 11oz so it’s likely that the initial reading was incorrect.  Either way, she’s a champ.

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    It was a really foggy day and this was our view from the recovery room.  We had a tiny view of the lake which was nice.

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    Little T, Little A, and J came to visit the next day and immediately jumped up on the bed and shouted “BABY!!!!!”.  They’ve been so wonderful with their new little sister, and we’re all so happy she’s here.  The first few days home have been tiring but good.  I’m a little nervous for how I’m possibly going to handle this when Theo goes back to work, and preparing real food hasn’t really happened.  I won’t tell you what we ate for dinner tonight because it involves things I swore I’d never feed my kids or let myself eat.  Which brings me to the topic of asking for help.

    Are you good at it?  I’m not.  It actually seems overwhelming to even plan what to ask for and when.  Would just be easier to do it myself, right?  I’m learning that it’s not.  My friend convinced me to let her set up a calendar on WhatFriendsDo.com, so I’m still navigating that and hesitating on pulling the trigger, allowing friends and family to bring us food or help with the kids.

    What a strange thing.  Evaluating your own life and teetering between “life is GOOD, I’m super lucky and have so many blessings” and “holy crap this is hard I cannot do it alone”.

    Thanks to everyone who’s already helped out, congratulated us, and sent their love.  We’re so appreciative of the love in our lives.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter Twenty Two- Atwater Beach

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    First, rent a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) or two, and head to Atwater Beach in Shorewood.  We rented the boards from Laacke & Joys.  When you get to Atwater, be prepared to walk down a large and steep bluff.  There are stairs and a paved path, so if you have a stroller you can definitely make it to the sand via a smooth surface. Bathrooms are at the top of the walkway, and there is even a playground IN the sand at the bottom (also a playground at the park up top).

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    Next, make sure your amazing sister has flown in from Colorado.  She will get everyone settled with life jackets and instructions.  It’s preferable that she works in the outdoor industry as co-owner of CKS, so she knows a lot about paddling and safety. Watch this and this for some clips of some way more technical Stand Up Paddling.

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    Then, have your beautiful sister take Little T out on the fairly choppy water for her first surfing experience.  Be prepared for your daughter to be super brave and love it and never want to stop.

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    Meanwhile, play in the sand with your other kids.  Be prepared for them to eat copious amounts of sand and run around like crazy people.

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    When your very adventurous twin wants to go surfing, take her out on the water.  Even though she looks like she’s pouting, she’s continually asking “MORE?!?” so you keep going out and back, riding the waves in.

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    When your just-a-litte-bit-less-adventurous twin wants to go in, get him set up with a life jacket, too.

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    Watch from the beach with your three year old as your sister and husband take the twins out on the water.  Enjoy life.

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    Make sure that all adults who feel like getting on a board (and who are ok with getting wet) get the chance to paddle on their own while you play in the sand.

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    And finally, attempt a family photo.

    Head home and be amazed at the amount of sand in your kids’ diapers, and watch them drift off to sleep because their bodies are exhausted.

    See you next week!

    A. Storm

     

     

  • Chapter Sixteen- Epic Date: MAM, Braise Restaurant, Honeypie Cafe and South Shore Park/Oak Leaf Trail

    On Saturday, Theo and I celebrated 6 years ago when we chose to travel life together.  We ditched the kids (ok, our amazing babysitter came over to give our kids a super fun Saturday afternoon/night) and went to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

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    We couldn’t figure out why it was so crowded for a late afternoon, but realized when we entered that it was a free day.  Yay!  Free art for anyone!  The exhibit 30 Americans was open, crafts were happening in the lobby, and easels were available in the hall for drop-in art.

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    After seeing 30 Americans, we stopped by the Veterans Book Project: Objects for Deployment.  I wasn’t prepared for such a powerful experience, yet could have spent a whole day reading through the books, notes and comments.  While it’s a difficult and politically-charged subject, please stop by and take part in this experience. We’re all affected by the wars our country has fought/is fighting in, and more education and knowledge about first hand experience can only give us a greater understanding.

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    We headed upstairs to some standard Storm family photos.

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    We had some time to kill before our early bird reservations at Braise Restaurant, so we walked over to The Harbor House for a quick drink.  I can’t comment on much other than the soda, which was as is should be.  The view, however, was great.  It was nice to see the skyline and art museum from an ever so slightly different view.

    Now, here is the part where I need to wow you with my descriptive writing.  Braise Restaurant.  I took no photos because I wasn’t planning on it being part of my blog, didn’t ask for a table by the window (so the photos of food would be better, of course), and didn’t want to ruin the mood of our date by documenting every aspect.   I can, however, tell you that by the time I took my second bite of food, I blurted out to Theo “I CAN’T WAIT TO COME BACK ALREADY!”.  Staff was genuine and good at their jobs, the decor was a great mix of industrial, country and modern, all with a warm and natural feel to it.  Price was as I’d expect for amazing local and well-prepared food.

    We ordered three small plates and one large, because we splurged.  The crispy scallion cracker, lamb kefka, and soba noodle dish were incredible.  I got the distinct impression that whoever put these plates together knew EXACTLY what they were doing.  Everything was the perfect balance of delicate and rich.  I want each dish in front of me right now, in fact.

    We also ordered the crispy pork shoulder as a large plate.  My favorite part of it was the bed of greens it came on.  They were earthy but tender, and drizzled in ramp jam (a strange clear gel/liquid) and stinging nettle sauce.  Both the ramps and nettles were foraged by the Chef/Owner, and made at the restaurant.  YUM.  I wanted to soak up every last bit of those two sauces on the greens.

    Chef/Owner Dave Swanson was stationed at the Chef’s Counter where he supervised every plate leaving the kitchen.  He seems very involved in the process and I think he’s doing something right.  You can read more about Braise on their website, but the gist is this: it started out as a link between local farmers and local restaurants.  They have an RSA program (Restaurant Supported Agriculture), culinary school, home delivery program, and restaurant.   Braise seems to breathe community and intention.  The entire experience was amazing and I’m looking for an excuse to go back.

    Next we headed to Honeypie Cafe for some pie and coffee, cause you know, we didn’t splurge enough at dinner.  I had (part of) a giant piece of cookies and cream pie, and Theo had apple pie.  Luckily they had to-go containers.

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    You can imagine one might need to take a walk after such a dining experience, so we drove to South Shore Park.  We parked the car, and walked along the Oak Leaf Trail both down by the water, and up on the residential streets.  We got an incredible view of the city and daydreamed about living on S. Shore Drive.

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    The chance to get out and enjoy our city was so appreciated.  Kids are great, of course.  But it’s also great to be an adult and walk along a beach without chasing after toddlers and wiping sand out of mouths.  There are so many neighborhoods with charm and character in this city.  There is culture and art and diversity and life.  I feel refreshed having been reminded of this.  We made a pact that we should do this every few months.  It’s totally worth getting a sitter and spending the money on food.

    Thanks for reading, and I’d love to connect with any of you readers.  If you have suggestions for spots to visit with or without kids, I’m all ears.  In fact, if you submit a comment with a suggestion, you’ll get a postcard!!  Last time I offered this, two lucky women received HAND WRITTEN correspondence!  How rare is that these days?  Make sure to email me your address if we’re not already friends….milwaukeebystorm [at] gmail [dot] com

    Also, a special shout out to my mom….Happy Birthday MP!  We love you lots!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter Fifteen- Milwaukee RiverWalk (better late than never)

    On a rainy day last week, we took a mini walk on the Milwaukee RiverWalk.  We searched for ducks and turtles, waved to the Police boat, then ate corndogs at the Public Market.

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  • Chapter Fourteen- The Eschweiler Buildings

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    Located on Watertown Plank Rd. in Wauwatosa, these vacant buildings hold a lot of wonder.  It’s hard to find concrete records on what exactly they were used for after their original purpose, and rumors say the campus was anything from a TB sanitarium to an insane asylum.  But here’s what I do know: Alexander C. Eschweiler designed five buildings in 1912 to be the county’s School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy.  The school’s enrollment was good for a year or two, but dwindled down and eventually the school closed in 1928.  Since that time, it’s reported that it served as The Milwaukee Home for Dependent Children, Milwaukee County Children’s Home, A DNR Headquarters, a space for SWAT training (perhaps adding to the apparent vandalism?), and also as the Milwaukee County University Extension Office.  It appears that some of the buildings have been occupied and some not throughout the years.

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    At any rate, there is and effort to Save the Eschweilers and the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, as well as interest by the Mandel Group, Inc. to demo at least some of the buildings and construct new apartment complexes.  There is also an effort and plan for a Forest Exploration Center, serving grades 6-12 (more here).  I haven’t done enough research to say my piece on any of these plans besides my initial thoughts…it would take an insane amount of money and time to update/repair these buildings, but the thought of more huge and unimaginative apartment complexes makes me want to vomit.  And the butterflies?!  We all know how important insects are, right?

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    I put filters on the above photos to create a creepy feel, which is what I had imagined this post looking like.  However, I have to admit that the campus was beautiful and the nature surrounding was peaceful.  There were a few trails with signs about treading lightly because of the butterfly habitat.  Huge trees shaded nice lawns, flowers were blooming, and I even saw a deer in the trees.  This really was a nice place to walk around, and it was cool to view the buildings from outside.

    All of the windows are boarded up, and there is a serious amount of vandalism in the buildings.  I had zero desire to enter the structures because the one broken window I looked in had a COLD and WET and MOLDY WIND bellowing out of it.  Not a “damp draft”.  Cold and constant wind that gave me the shivers.  Plus it appears the buildings have had such serious neglect and damage, I wouldn’t want to dishonor them any more by treading on them.

    I’ll participate by walking around, taking photos on a foggy day, doing research into the future of the grounds, and imagining what this place could be.  For now, it’s a neat place to see some wildlife and feel like I’ve gone just a bit back in time.

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    I hope whoever ends up taking care of these grounds has community (including the animals and insects that are a part of it) into consideration.  Cause that’s sort of my thing.

    See you next week!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter Thirteen- Estabrook Beer Garden

    Imagine this: a nice spring afternoon, friends sitting on a bench drinking delicious German beer, kids running around on the playground, stories being told and smiles on faces.

    You have to imagine it because I was going to open with that exact photo but someone, who shall remain nameless, erased all the photos on my camera half way through the day.  Luckily, my good friend Laduma, for SugarFreePhotography, offered to send me a few that he captured from the day, and has contributed the first four photos below.

    Arriving at the Estabrook Beer Garden, I saw a ton of frisbee golfers and people grilling out for the Memorial Day holiday.  Parking was super easy and we headed straight for the playground.  Unloading some of the kids, my husband then headed to the concession area/actual beer garden.  Right now it’s under construction, so the menu was limited to beer and bottled water (brats and the like will be available when remodeling is complete).  Make sure to bring a bunch of cash because that’s all that’s accepted and you have to put down a deposit for the glasses.

    Live music at the beer garden kept everyone entertained, and the atmosphere was very friendly.  Dogs on leashes, kids dancing to polka music, steins of beer, lots of people arriving on bicycles (it’s right on the Oak Leaf Trail), landscape for kids to explore, and good friends were a plenty.

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  • Chapter Twelve- Milwaukee Art Museum

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    I went to see the Color Rush exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum with my friend Shannon, and did a tiny bit of wandering afterwards.

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    We headed to the second floor for some good backlit photo ops, and were pretty close to being asked to leave I’m sure.

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    Then we headed outside for snacks.  I was hoping to have a nice picnic on some lush green grass, but this patio was much more accessible.  I quickly decided that this mostly-enclosed patio was necessary for my brood who WENT CRAZY RUNNING AROUND like they’d never been outside before.  It was a delightful lunch of fruit and running and falling.

    Short description this week…hope to be feeling (and writing) better next week.

    -Amber