• Chapter 152- Lion’s Den Gorge

    Day off of school?  In our house, that means a family hike!  Even though we do this pretty often, I still get complaints at first when I mention it.  “But I don’t even liiiiiiike hiking!” and “It’s too boring!” are common responses.  While I understand that a 3mi hike is a lot for those little legs, THEY LOVE IT EVERY TIME.

    So on our most recent no-school day, we got out my current favorite book (Kevin Revolinski’s Best Hikes Near Milwaukee).  I had a vote to hike near water, and the kids wanted a loop that was less than three miles.  Oh, and of course not more than an hour away.  Because I’m old school and don’t have anything electronic for my kids in the car, they’re stuck with books and art supplies for long trips.  Luckily, Lion’s Den Gorge made all the requirements.

    The trip started out with an end-of-the-world itchy glove issue (see above for clues), but the disaster quickly remedied itself with the distraction of nature and siblings.  Which, come to think of it, remedies most things in life.

    *a quick note that erosion is present and bluffs are steep, so please review with your family the necessity for staying on the trails.

    The kids decided to take the Bluff Trail down to the beach, which is when I regretted not bringing my other new favorite book, Stan Tekiela’s Trees of Wisconsin Field Guide.  I’m sure we passed through birch trees, but there were many others that I haven’t yet learned to identify.  Games of tag and zombies and collecting shiny ice vs “blocky” ice (whatever that means) kept everyone pretty busy, and we suddenly found ourselves at the top of the steps down to the beach.  Heads up that there are a lot of steps.

    We spent close to an hour at the beach, throwing rocks in the water and exploring the rapidly receding ice shelf.  And getting our winter boots soaked with water, of course.  We talked about how the waves were slowly melting the ice, and noted the small creek flowing into Lake Michigan.  Little T made use of her monocular (thanks Aunt Jamie and Uncle Rick!) and spotted some ducks out on the water for viewing.

    When our snacks were about to run out (I think we went through a bag of carrots and celery, four granola bars, a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, and string cheese for all…people were HUNGRY on this hike!), we made our way up the stairs.  The kids drew a map in the dirt and decided to take the Bluff Trail back because it was shady and they had such a good time on the way down.

    My youngest found some birch, and she told her siblings that’s what people wrote on before paper was invented.

    An added bonus of the trip was that two out of four kids mastered the use of a compass!

    Everyone loved the long boardwalk at the marsh, near the end of the hike.  The kids brought back the nature-exploring technique they learned in preschool of lying on your belly to look off of a dock or pier.  It’s a safe way to get close to the water!

    Success.  Another day, another hike, another reminder of how lucky we are to have so many unique places to explore.



  • Chapter 151- Retzer Nature Center

    Happy New Year! It’s been a busy time here in the Storm house, so I’m catching up from one of our best hikes from before the holidays…Retzer Nature Center!  I knew it was a great place to go with kids, but for some reason didn’t make the 25 min drive from MKE to Waukesha.  I’m so glad my kids had off and we could finally go!

    We parked and headed in to the Nature Center to check in, and were delighted to find out that admission is free!  What a great resource.  I noticed the planetarium, well hold on.  My oldest who is a big fan of space, was drawn to the solar system models and exhibits, and we ended up peeking in the planetarium.  When we opened the door, a I heard a voice say “Hello?  Come on in!”.  AND THAT’S WHEN THE MAGIC HAPPENED.  The gentleman working in the planetarium gave us our own mini viewing of a Sesame Street’s One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure!  This isn’t a typical occurrence I’m sure, so check out this link for times and admission prices.

    Shortly after the viewing ended, we put our mittens back on and headed outside.  The kids and I decided to head west, and we quickly started the hunt for walking sticks and other treasures.  Our family is learning to read trail maps, so when the kids found the Nature Trail marked in red, they were pretty proud.

    Little T found a Wooly Bear and we all adored its cuteness and gently put it in the grass off of the trail.

    After hooking up with the Outer Hiking Trail and walking through the pine trees, we stopped for a snack in the sun.

    We stayed on the Outer Hiking Trail for the remainder of the hike, and found a beautiful hill to run around on!  I think I heard some “The hills are alive…with the sound of music” coming from my kids’ mouths.

    We followed the trail back to the pine plantation, and read all about the age of the forest, and learned why these trees are all in a row.

    I had a few dollars in my pocket, so I asked the kids if they were feeling big enough to go inside and make a donation.  Of course they said yes!  So I waited on a bench outside and gazed at the beauty around me.  When they didn’t come out for more than 5 minutes, I figured I should check on them.

    And inside, I found my four year old adding her name to the list that contained her siblings’ first names.  Apparently they wanted to somehow document the donation, which is adorable.

    The exhibits in the lobby are perfect for anyone, with lots of hands-on models, furs, skulls and more.

    We even got to see turtles and frogs mating!  For anyone who’s wondering, my response was super simple: the male animal is joining his sperm with the female’s egg.

    We’re definitely excited to head back to Retzer.  I was so grateful to find a free place for my kids and I to explore outside and refuel in nature!

    A big thanks to Waukesha County and the Friends of Retzer for this resource!  Check out their links to find ways to support their efforts.



  • Chapter 150- Ways to get outside in winter!

    Hi friends!  On The Morning Blend, I’ll be talking about ways to get your family outside in Wisconsin winters.  There’s never enough time on air to give specifics, so here’s a list of our favorite ways to take advantage of the midwest’s greatest treasure….WINTER!

    Also, ok.  I know some of you probably hate winter, or at least like to complain about it because that’s what we do here in Wisco.  But I vote for changing the idea of lamenting the cold in the winter, and the heat in the summer.  Let’s embrace our seasons!  One of my kids was complaining about the end of last winter, and when I was trying to console her, I realized the beauty of Wisconsin.  We’re so lucky that we have the opportunity to practice patience and resilience and gratitude.  In order to not be miserable in the hot summers, we have to be thankful that it’s not winter all year long.  And in order to not scowl all winter, we can be thankful it’s not 90° with 80% humidity.

    That said, my best advice for enjoying this weather is to make sure your people are in good outdoor gear.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be warm/waterproof.  Check out your local neighborhood Facebook buy/sell/trade pages, look at used kids clothing stores, and keep tabs on what you need for end-of-season sales at REI, Land’s End and more.  Also, keep your adventures short.  Use hot chocolate as a motivator.  And know that it’s going to be messy/wet so bring extra clothes.

    Aside from low-key, and no-planning adventures like building snow forts and playing in snow mounds at schools, I have a few favorite organizations that embrace getting outside.

    Urban Ecology Center

    • Winter Equipment Lending.  It’s free with a very reasonably priced membership, and includes things like snowshoes, cross-country skis, poles, sleds, ice skates and camping gear.
    • The 2017 Candlelight Walk is happening this Saturday night!  Check UEC’s page to register for a guided and beautiful walk in the woods.
    • Saturday Animal Feedings.  Kids and families can meet with UEC staff and volunteers, and get a close up look at reptiles, birds, fish and more.

    Wehr Nature Center

    • Winter Walk at Wehr on December 31st is a great way to take a guided walk followed by hot chocolate next to the fireplace.  Not a bad New Years Eve, I’d say!
    • Christmas Bird Count, a free and easy way to contribute to the worldwide count of birds!  Plus there’s a potluck.
    • This weekend you can attend Owl Prowls, a chance to learn through exhibits and instruction, followed by a walk in the woods to look and listen for real live owls.

    Milwaukee County Parks

    • Slice of Ice!  Check out ice skating at Red Arrow Park all winter long, weather permitting.  Skating is free if you bring your own skates, otherwise rent them for $7-8 a pair.
    • Winter Sports at Whitnall Park…just click the link for LOTS of ways to enjoy the snow, from sledding the cross-country skiing to DOG SLED RIDES.  Need I say more?

    I hope to see you out on some winter hikes (which reminds me, I’ve started referring to hikes as “playing in the woods” because it seems to go over better with my crew) or sledding hills or skating rinks!

    Also, for more ideas join me on over on Instagram which is where I waste most of my time 🙂



  • Chapter 149- Volunteering in Milwaukee

    Volunteering and getting to know your neighbors is such an important value to teach your kids, especially in the wake of tragedies that are all too frequent.  I don’t have the one answer to our national community finding its way back to humanity and decency and kindness, but I do know that reaching out and giving can only help.

    On The Morning Blend, I’ll mention a few of my family’s favorite ways to donate our time, money and energy.  But there are so many ways to get involved that I’ve created a list with some tips for the blog.

    A few things to cover first:

    • It can be difficult to find organizations that accept young kids as volunteers, so get creative and volunteer from home!
    • Talk to you kids about why it’s important to care for others.  Explain that there are neighbors who don’t have enough money to buy food, clothing or gifts.  But those are real people like you and me, who could use some help.
    • You don’t have to spend money to donate.
    • Model charitable acts for your kids.  They aren’t going to be inclined to donate some of their allowance if they don’t see you making effort and sacrifice for others.

    Last spring, I logged on to our neighborhood’s Nextdoor page, and asked if anyone’s Little Free Library needed filling.  I had lots of responses of things like “Yes!  On the corner of __ & __, our library gets a lot of kid traffic and goes empty so quickly!”  People were so appreciative and excited.  I then asked my kids to gather up all the books we don’t read anymore, and we filled a few grocery bags full and piled in the car.  While I stayed in the car, I sent out my kids to fill each library and they always came back with smiles.


    Milwaukee Riverkeeper has an annual Spring Cleanup!  It’s an easy and family-friendly option to get outside and make a difference.  There’s even a map that predicts the amount of trash to be cleaned up, so you can plan accordingly.  They provide gloves and trash bags, you provide the boots on the ground.  And at the end of the cleanup?  Cookies!!

    Community Projects for Seniors has a unique way to volunteer from home.  The organization provides over 4,000 meals to elderly folks in our community over the holidays, and with that they deliver cheerful placemats on which to enjoy the meal.  You and your family can make placemats by decorating paper with positive messages and pictures.  Then send or bring them into CPS’s office.  Done!  Call beforehand to make sure someone is in the office, and click here for specifics about the project and other ways to join the cause.


    Another option is to bring old stuffed toys, paper towels, dog/cat food, and many other wish list items to the Humane Society.  Call your closest location to see what requirements they have about donating certain items, and get your kids involved in gathering supplies.  Then, when you bring it to the shelter, have the kids be a part of the process of handing over the items so they can be thanked by the other volunteers.  Donating = caring!

    Write letters of encouragement for veterans!  Mail Call is a way for you to make a card, and have it delivered and read to a veteran on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.  There are lots of ways to send messages either online or via snail mail, and just takes a quick search online to find the opportunity that fits for you.

    Schools and many other organizations hold winter coat and food drives, which are great ways for kids to make a difference.  Last year for our school’s food drive, my kids each decided how much money from their piggy banks they’d donate (I supplemented with a few dollars).  We then took that money to the grocery store and picked out the healthiest and best options for donating.  We learned about the value of certain types of food vs. others, and when my kids brought their items to school, I could see how proud they were.

    A few other organizations we’re hoping to be a part of soon:

    • Victory Garden Initiative.  Join in on one of their BLITZ weekends and help move soil, install raised garden beds, prep soil for trees, and more.  This is best suited for older kids, but families can find ways to be involved by contacting VGI.  They also have an urban farm in the Harambee neighborhood, where you can find volunteers planting, harvesting, weeding and more.  Kids should be 8 years and older.  There is also a great AT HOME option of starting seedings in your home in January and February, which will then be planted through VGI’s Youth Education Program.
    • Riverwest Food Pantry has lots of locations and times to help get food to hungry people.
    • Toddlers & Kids on a Mission provides meals and events, and families with very young kids can get involved!  We’ve baked cookies to be served at meals in the past, which was a super easy way to help out.
    • Feeding America invites kids 10+ to join their parents in sorting and inspecting food to the hundreds and thousands of people they serve.  Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin distributes to hundreds of thousands of children, families, and seniors across 36 counties in eastern Wisconsin. Anyone interested in group or individual volunteer opportunities for kids should visit Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, and contact the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator to schedule an opportunity.
    • Core ElCentro is an amazing resource for people to get healthy!  Each volunteer opportunity has a slightly different schedule of day and time that it is available. Volunteers who volunteer 4 hours per month also receive free access to our holistic exercises (like yoga, zumba) and children are welcome to participate in class with their parents as well. Volunteering and exercising together is a wonderful way for families to spend time together, build community with others, and engage in other healthy classes and other wellness opportunities too!

    So however you can make a difference, let this be the nudge that says DO IT!  You’ll feel better, too!  If you’ve got suggestions, please let me know through comments, or on my Instagram account.  I’d love to hear what else is going on in the world of charitable giving in the Milwaukee area!




  • Chapter 148- Milwaukee Music

    Need one more reason to love this city?  Look no farther than the music scene!  I’ve found a ton of opportunities to take my kids to see some live and GOOD music here in town, and I wanted to share some of them with you.

    Let me first say why I think music is important to kids and families.  We have a vibrant scene here in Milwaukee, and by taking your kids to attend events/listen to their neighbors making music, you’re supporting your community.  And making it stronger.  The other reason I value music so much is because like all art, it’s a form of self expression.  We all (kids included!) have emotions and ideas inside, and music is just one way to get those feelings out.  When your kids see adults, teenagers, and even kids performing, it can be an encouraging way to tell your kids “Hey you’re important!” and that by expressing yourself you might even help other people get their feelings out.

    We spend quite a few nights over the summer at our amazing Milwaukee County Parks for Concerts in the Parks.  Almost every day of the week, you can find some free and family-friendly music around town.  Most parks are busy with families and picnic dinners, kids running around, dancing, and adults sharing a drink.  Check out MKE County Parks’ website for schedules (though I’m sure next summer’s lineups aren’t out quite yet).

    88Nine Radio Milwaukee is constantly offering ways to see music, with kids and without.  This summer they held a block party to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, and we were able to attend this fun free event!  My kids had been hearing the band Reyna on the radio, so I did some Instagram stalking to introduce myself.  After we saw this sister duo perform, we then got to say hi in person and snag a photo!

    88Nine also offers 414 Music Live, one of my favorite perks of the radio station.  At these sessions, you can watch musicians perform and chat with radio hosts.  We’ve been lucky enough to see and meet Sonny Knight & The Lakers, Siren, Lex Allen, WebsterX, Grace Weber, Kaleo, The Bahamas, Sister Strings and Jack Garrett.  Most of those performers are local…what a great way to support your community!  Check their schedule here.

    I don’t have any photos, but check out Free Space at the Jazz Gallery in Riverwest, and DJ Bizzon’s Scratch Sessions.  Free Space is a community event held the third Wednesday of every month, and opens up its doors to youth who want to explore music.  The Scratch Sessions offer free lessons on turntables for youth ages 12-19.

    Anodyne Coffee Roasters has some interesting and free and family-friendly events as well!  Last year I took the kids to see a jazz bass player and it was a really new and unique experience for them.  They were a little out of their element, looking around with wide eyes as if to ask “is this music, Mom?”  But I feel very strongly that exposure to new and different things creates appreciation for the arts.  As much as I hated being dragged to classical music performances as a kid, I’m so happy to have that as a foundation in my life.  Thanks Mom!


    Colectivo hosts Gospel Sundays, MSO Mondays and more chances to see some great music.  Check out the schedules and get yourself to one of the events, if just to say you tried it once.

    And then there’s the Festival city Symphony’s Pajama Jamborees.  If your kids can hang a little later in the evening, get them in their pjs and head to see some lovely music.  It’s a free event held a few times a year, and the concerts typically surround a theme like holidays or classic stories.

    Fox and Branch know how to bring down the house.   They’re a local duo who play bluegrass when they’re not entertaining kids.  Check out their schedule for chances to see them (like at Anodyne Coffee and this event at the Washington Park Library).

    I commend the Milwaukee Public Library for offering such a fun and out-of-the-ordinary event…Library Out Loud Days!  It’s a fun way to explore our libraries, by being loud.  They’ve hosted shows (we saw New Age Narcissism this past summer, where adults got to drink a beer while kids danced and played and explored), and this month they have what looks like a really fun event.  Haunted Central will be alive with “haunted-themed” events and activities for two days this weekend.  Check it out!

    The Milwaukee Art Museum has free days (first Thursday of every month) and great weekend events, many of which offer music.  Kids under age 12 are always free at the museum, so if you get a chance to attend one of the special events, please take advantage of it!

    And my last tip for introducing your kids to music is to have some instruments lying around your house.  Ours are all second hand from rummage sales, and the microphone we have doesn’t even work.  But kids get curious and want to explore things hands-on, so when they have the chance to pick/pluck/strike/sing, I say let them.  I’ve also enjoyed seeing my kids be able to play some music, whether on our Fisher Price cassette player from the 80’s, or putting on their favorite album on the record player.

    Thanks for stopping by and reading!  If you have suggestions for other ways to get your family involved in live and or local music, please drop a line!

  • Chapter 147- First Stage Theater (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

    While growing up in my family, Thanksgiving meant a 3-5 day celebration with aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends.  Wednesday was an all-night pizza party that ran right into Thursday morning turkey baking.  After our meal on Thursday, we’d play and nap and the kids would invariably get into some sort of trouble before movie time began.

    We’d watch classics like Swiss Family Robinson, E.T., Mary Poppins, and one of my favorites, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  It’s a tale of imagination and perseverance, and has a flying car in it so OF COURSE kids like it.  And I got the opportunity to see this magical movie come to life in a First Stage performance!

    If you’re not familiar with First Stage, it’s an incredible children’s theater here in Milwaukee that began in 1987.  First Stage offers professional theater productions like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, an academy for theater training and classes, and educational programs in schools and our communities.

    And on this past Sunday, I took my oldest and youngest daughters on a special date to see the play, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  My two kindergarteners actually get to see it with school later this month, so it was a really nice treat for the other two to get to see the production!

    (above photo credit Paul Ruffolo Photography: Jackson Evans, Malkia Stampley, Jack Trettin and Paige Landrum in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG)

    And I have to tell you, it was nothing short of an incredible experience.  My 8 year old and almost 4 year old both loved the performance equally.  The theater is set up so there’s not a bad seat in the house, and the stage is recessed so everyone has a great view of the people and props on stage.

    (above photo credit Paul Ruffolo Photography)

    When the opening number began, I noticed the wide age range of actors.  We got to see some very young kids (the youngest appeared to be about 5 years old), adolescents, adults and even a “grandpa-aged” adult as my daughter said.  Some of these actors were entering and exiting through the audience, a great way for kids to see people and costumes up close!   I was also impressed with the use of stage…actors were standing on boxes and tables, getting close to the audience.  The pianist was pretty much in the audience which contributed to the almost hands-on feel of the show.

    (above photo credit Paul Ruffolo Photography: Rick Pendzich, Jackson Evans and young performer cast in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG)

    As for the actual story and performance, it was so creative!  The props were used in such a way that I think encourages ingenuity and creativeness.  For example, when the car was to be floating on water, stagehands crawled under the car and “inflated” some floatation devices, waving them gently.

    (above photo credit Paul Ruffolo Photography)

    At one point in the movie, a blimp is flying through the air with a small hut hanging below.  The actors carried a miniature blimp and hut in the air, with their voices sounding far off, and gave the clear impression that they were in the air.  Even if some dialogue was lost for younger audience members, the action/set/singing/dancing carried them through without confusion.

    This interpretation of the movie really emphasized the message of adventure and persistence.  The family didn’t give up on rescuing their grandfather AND helping the children of Vulgaria (you’ll just have to see the play to know what I’m talking about).  I was moved by the song “The Roses of Success”, where Grandpa Potts was given the impossible talk of making the Baron’s car fly.  We’re told “…up from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success…”.  In the next number, the rest of the Potts family is trying to save the children of the city and they sing “…we’re all together, a team can weather any storm they may go through, cause teamwork can make a dream work, if you’re not afraid to fight!”

    (above photo credit Paul Ruffolo Photography)

    Now perhaps I was inspired by these messages of hope, unity, grit and determination because of current affairs in our county (and ahem, worldwide).  I’m uneasy about our volatile political climate and worried about the future.  But spending a Sunday afternoon listening to reminders that we can work together for justice and a better life eased my mind.  And it offered the same lessons to my kids.

    We loved the Q&A (or talkback) session after the last scene.  The cast stayed on stage and took questions from the audience.  The actors took turns answering the questions, which was a neat way for my kids to see that the people on stage were regular people, too!

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is playing through November 5th, and I really hope you get a chance to see it.  Thank you First Stage for the wonderful experience!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 146- Pope Farm Conservancy

    In my effort to cram everything in to the last few weeks of summer, we headed to Madison to see Pope Farm Conservancy’s sunflower farm!  I’d been seeing some beautiful photos on Instagram since last summer, so this adventure has been in the back of my mind for quite some time.  As a bonus, I happen to meet up with a bunch of my amazing friends and their kids that day!

    As chance would have it, one of my friends spotted me on highway 94 near Johnson Creek, and another said she was on her way there when I called to check in.  All 4 moms plus our 12 combined children met in the parking lot and hugged, being amazed that we ended up there together!

    At the parking lot, there was one port-a-potty which had a line.  So after playing on some big rocks while waiting, we walked up a big hill to the large sunflower crop.

    There were lots of people taking photos and standing on picnic benches, and we waited our turn to snap a few pix.  It was quite hot and sunny that day, so the kids were antsy to get moving and/or retreat to the shade.

    We made our way clockwise around the flowers, and came upon a small woods with more rocks.  And honestly, this is where we spent most of our time.  The shade was oh-so important and the kids really just wanted to play with each other, anyway.   Adults talked as kids played with sticks and rocks, smashing acorns open and tasting the dry and bitter nuts inside.

    When it was time for naps/lunch/saving kids from meltdown, we headed back the same way we came.  That’s it, people!

    This trip was a bit of a letdown…I really wanted to grab some cute photos for holiday cards but people weren’t really able to put on cute holiday card faces (understandable).  The kids were underwhelmed with the flowers, because there wasn’t a path to walk through them or anything.  Having hot, thirsty, and bored kids didn’t make for a successful adventure.

    However, I learned that weather makes a huge difference, so maybe next year during the peak blooming week we could try again.  AND I got to see friends (which didn’t really happen at all this summer) so it wasn’t a big loss.  Also, the conservancy does some amazing work with land conservation and education.  There are plenty of opportunities to learn about stewardship and even volunteer, so we’ll make sure to keep this place in mind for future adventures!

    And here’s my advice:

    • -Check the farm’s Facebook page for updates on weather and peak blooming, both are super important.
    • -Bring water and snacks!  They had bottles of water for sale but not much else.
    • -Head to the farm early or late in the day.  Midday sun isn’t ideal for getting people to smile and look at a camera with eyes open.
    • -Pair this adventure with others in Madison.  It doesn’t fill up a whole day, and there are so many other fun places to explore in Madison.
    • -Call you friends to see if they all happen to be on their way to the farm at the same time on the same day.

    Here’s a quick list of some of my fave Madison spots:

    Thanks for making the trip fun, Kady, Kate and Margo!

    Good luck with school staring, everyone…

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 145- Tamarack Loop Trail at Mauthe Lake

    On our way back from a trip to see my folks in Appleton, I took the back roads to the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest to check out the Mauthe Lake Recreation Area.  We’d been researching hikes in my new favorite book, Best Hikes Near Milwaukee by Kevin Revolinski, and narrowed it down to two hikes in the Northern Kettles.  The kids decided they’d be up for a flat 2-mile hike!

    When we arrived, the kids lamented that we weren’t camping and begged me to come back and stay SEVENTY nights at Mauthe Lake.  There’s a beach on the lake, a playground, and even a teepee to reserve.  The camping sites looked fairly small and close together near the lake, but we didn’t have a chance to see all of the loops.

    We did, however, ignore the sign that said flooding was present on the trail and started out going counterclockwise on the Tamarack Loop Trail.  I prepped the kids for a wet hike, and everyone said they were up for soggy shoes.

    We crossed a few puddles and found Queen Anne’s Lace and other pretty flowers.  We sang songs and took turns holding the backpack.

    At a small log crossing, we noticed some really interesting designs in the wood.  We talked about invasive species and the kids guessed that perhaps it was the box elder bug that made these marks.  However, I can’t identify trees yet so I couldn’t confirm that we were looking at an elder.  I’d really like to start learning about tree/plant/flower identification in Wisconsin, so if you have any tips please let me know!

    We made it through the white cedar forest when people started to get irritable.  It was around 11am so it was very hot, sunny, and humid.  The buzzing flies didn’t help.  The first wooden bridge over the Milwaukee River wasn’t too far ahead, but people were starting to fade.

    And so it was after this giant puddle that we had a board meeting to discuss the pros and cons of this hike.  It was a unanimous decision to head back to the car.

    We walked (ran) a little bit through the campground to avoid the same flooded spots we’d already navigated, and eyed up the teepee we plan on staying at next summer.

    The fishing pier provided us with a great view of the lake, and also the beach.  My people were DYING to go swim, but since I didn’t have swim suits or towels, I promised them with the deliciousness of cold ice cream on the way home.

    We peeled off our shoes and socks, and headed out with the intention of hiking the loop in early fall when it’s more dry.

    Like 100ft after exiting the recreation area, we came across Parkview General Store with a big “ICE CREAM” sign!  My kids tried bubble gum, rum cherry, chocolate and bee-nilla ice cream.  All gave an enthusiastic thumbs up!

    We’ll be back to explore when it’s dry, or when we bring rainboots.  The trail was really nice and flat, so I’m bummed to have not experienced it in entirety.  But this adventure served as a teaser for an even more enjoyable hike!

    Hope you’re taking advantage of summer, and if you have suggestions for hikes/other adventures, I’m all ears.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 144- Discovery World (New Exhibit!)

    We recently decided to check out Discovery World’s newest exhibit, Zoo in You — The Human Microbiome.  Little T got a family membership last year, so we can come and go as we please without worrying about getting our money’s worth at each visit.  Which is awesome.  Because some days we stay for HOURS upon hours, and some we can only adventure for 45 minutes before people melt.

    When we entered, we went right to the new exhibit.  It is contained in one room, and has about 10-15 stations where kids can interact with the hands-on models and displays.

    The first stop we made was to a cool DNA puzzle, which challenges kids to connect nucleobases to create nucleotides.  Brought me right back to high school biology class.  Except way more fun!

    We learned how to build viruses and bacteria, and what they do.  Not all bacteria are bad, of course, and in fact we need some to digest food and create a balance inside our bodies.

    Little T had loved the microscope, which was easy for kids to manipulate.  She also loved the green screen where she got to pretend to be a newscaster reporting on the microorganisms in our bodies.

    Little A and I had a serious competition with the pinball-like game where we learned about places that humans can pick up microorganisms.

    I think the most eye-opening station for me was the interactive video, where we got to zoom in on a single cold virus.  We started out looking at objects like a penny, a grain of salt, a yeast cell, a skin cell, and a mold spore.  I made my kids watch that about a hundred times because I was astounded at how small that cold virus was!

    After spending about 30 minutes in the exhibit, we went to see the Challenger boat and snag a photo.

    And then, because it’s summer, we climbed trees and ran around in the grass outside of Discovery World.

    I’ll be back with more hikes and adventures soon…it’s been a hectic summer with a few setbacks, but we’ll keep exploring our city, parks, museums and trails!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 143- Gibraltar Rock / Merrimac Ferry / Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron

    I believe that fieldtrips are very important to a kids’ education.  And while our school is really amazing, they aren’t able to take my children on ALL the kinds of fieldtrips they need.  Those kind would be hikes in the woods.

    So when a friend I met on Instagram (weird, I know.  I feel conflicted about social media and virtual friendships, but I’ve made quite a few real friends through the internet so I can’t say it’s all bad) said she was hiking Gibraltar Rock on a Friday, I knew this was a fieldtrip worth missing school for!

    Leading up to the trip, I talked with my kids about the Ice Age Trail.  We learned that it follows the border of the last continental glacier in Wisconsin.  The giant sheets of ice pushed boulders and land into new formations 12,000 years ago, and now we get to see coulees, drumlins, bogs, kettles and moraines.  The Ice Age Trail Alliance has a great website with lots of information about the trail and ways that YOU can volunteer!  We’ll be hiking lots of different sections of the trail this summer, too.

    We met Kelly in the parking lot near Lodi, and put our boots and hats on for good measure.  The kids took turns carrying the backpack full of their water, and we decided that we’ll be asking for four of these when birthdays roll around next.

    The trail was easy to maneuver, and nobody got lost in their dashes ahead of me and Kelly.  There was a lot of yelling in excitement and finding sticks and using pine needles as brooms and whining that we were going either too fast or too slow.  You know, the usual.

    Kelly knows a lot more about plants/flowers/trees than I, so she educated us on jack-in-the-pulpits, trilliums and skunk cabbage.  Stay away from the latter.

    The hike from the parking lot to the top was less than a mile which was nice.  It definitely gets a little unnerving for mothers of four near the top, so if you go make sure your kids understand the necessity to stay on the trail.  It is a very long way down.  And we of course want to be safe and not add to erosion, but also keep the plants and flowers from getting trampled.

    Once we got to the lookout, we had snacks of apples and cookies and the kids did their best to give me a heart attack.  We grilled Kelly about her life because it was the first time we’d hung out, so thanks Kelly for fielding our million questions.  And for sharing about your hiking history!

    We saw quite a few large birds flying overhead, and read a bit about red-tailed hawks and other birds of prey who fly the thermals created by the tall cliffs (JSOnline has a good article about the hike).  I can’t say for certain what we saw, but I’m pretty sure J’s guess of Peregrin Falcons was a bit off.  Good guess, though!

    After our butts were sufficiently cold from sitting on chilly rocks, we decided to head back down.  Kelly grabbed this next pic of us right before we found the brightest bug ever!

    This little spider was about the size of a pinhead, and was a vibrant red from head to toe.  Half of my kids were scared and the other half wanted to take it home.

    On the way back down, Kelly got a good dose of whining that “this view is terrible!” and “I can’t walk any farther” and “I want to go home”.   I’m getting pretty good at just ignoring the ridiculousness of such statements and getting them excited about the next big thing.

    Which was finishing the hike and heading to the Merrimac Ferry!  After we said our thank yous and goodbyes to Kelly, and promising to do it again sometime soon, I took her directions to just keep heading north on 113 and find the ferry which carries cars across the Wisconsin River.  It’s free and runs around the clock from April to November.

    We were first in line and had to wait only about 3 minutes for the ferry to return from the other side.  When the gate opened, I drove on and put my car in park, hoping that’s all I needed to do.  At first there was some hesitation with getting out of the car.  For a 5 year old, it was a little unnerving to be floating across water where he thought sharks were just waiting to eat us alive.  After going over saltwater vs. freshwater, we all exited the car and took in the sights.

    And by the time we got outside, it was time to hustle back into the car.  It took about 5 minutes to cross the river, and when we arrived at the other side, we just turned around and got back in line to go back.

    Once back, I decided to try and find Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron.  I’ve been meaning to take the kids for a while, and since we were in no hurry to get anywhere, I headed southeast.  I didn’t have a map in the car, and wasn’t getting any reception on my phone to look at GPS, so I tapped into my innate navigational skills and hoped for the best.

    We ended up finding hwy 12 and that’s when I found service, so we knew to head north.  I’m pretty sure there used to be giant metal sculptures on the side of the highway to mark the spot, but I didn’t see them this time.  It took a tiny bit of backtracking, but we eventually found the entrance, just south of  Delaney’s Surplus.

    And when we got there, any trace of whining and complaining ended.  All four of my kids were entranced by the enormous machines and creations.  They all split up and walked around in amazement, imagining what the sculptures could do if they were functioning.

    There are very few pieces that you can actually sit/stand on, so if you go remember a few things:

    • This is about art, so be respectful of the work and take time to imagine what it might take to build and create these pieces.
    • There are no bathrooms here, but there is a gas station just north of the park.
    • Hours are posted online, and there is a box for donations.  There’s no entrance fee, so be generous with your dollars.
    • This fascinating place is run by the family of Dr. Evermor.  If you get the chance to speak with Lady Eleanor, whose office is in the park, please do so.   Her husband is Dr. Evermor and she’s knowledgable about the entire park and process.

    Speaking of Lady Eleanor, here she is.  She was kind enough to let me take her photo after we talked for a while about the history and future of the park.  She shared with me Dr. Evermor’s inspiration, a bit about her family, and the timeframe in which pieces were constructed.

    Near the end of our visit, my dude J took me on a tour of all of the bird-looking creatures.  I wish you all could have seen it.  Though it was starting to sprinkle, he pointed to almost every single creature and had names like “three-headed chicken lizard” and “electric cat king” and “fire-breathing trooper”.   He was in his element!

    When the rain turned into a drizzle, we packed up and headed to Madison.  Our friends hosted us for an overnight stay (which was the best, I love you Kady!) and then we hurried back to Milwaukee for a Saturday morning soccer game.

    It was a pretty epic trip in all.  We learned a lot about geological history in Wisconsin, we met a new friend, went on our first car ferry, filled our imaginations with art, and saw some old friends.  When we got home, I had grand plans to have the kids write/draw about the Ice Age Trail and present it to their teachers.  However, that didn’t pan out so my kids just ended up talking about all the adventures they had, throwing out terms like “glacier” and “driftless”.  Good enough!

    Hope this week is treating you well, all.  Be on the lookout for some pieces I’ll be contributing to Metroparent Magazine in the next few months, and I hope to see you adventuring soon!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 143- Kettle Moraine State Forest- Pike Lake Unit

    A few weeks ago (ok, it was mid-March.  I’m a little behind here) I desperately needed to walk in the woods.  I’m finding a direct link between my emotional state and exercise/exposure to the outdoors, and on a Sunday that my husband was coaching soccer, I packed up some snacks and winter gear and headed north on highway 45.

    The kids asked for a place with an observation tower, so a quick search turned up Pike Lake.  The drive was only about 40 min from Milwaukee, and was super easy find.

    We parked near the playground on the beach, and headed north on the hiking trail.  Before we even started, though, two of my kids got super muddy and started crying.  Luckily I’m good at deescalating (ignoring) things like that and we made it to the beach to find shells and lots of fun ice formations.

    We had left the car about 20 minutes prior, and made it only 30 feet into the trail, so I tried to get the kids moving.  Eventually they gave in, followed me, and then ran ahead leaving me in the dust.  We found a little fort and Little T took notes while the other girls discussed some very serious business.

    We stopped at the next lake access and threw stones.  Because it wouldn’t be an adventure without throwing rocks in water!

    About 1/2 mile (and about 45 minutes) later, we stopped on a bench for snacks.  The terrain had turned to a prairie with a much different view and we sat and talked about how different the trail was at this point.

    This was one of the first hikes that I actually brought a physical map to, so we spent lots of time learning how to read a map.  We were on the lookout for trail markers, and decided that since this was one of the slowest hikes we’d been on, we should take the green trail as a shortcut.  That trail cut down into very beautiful and muddy valley, and the kids did a great job learning to read maps/signs.


    We found some pine trees and the kids listened to me go on and on about how beautiful the small forest was.

    The kids spotted an uprooted tree and speculated how old it was, if we could get it to live again by tipping it back up, and what it could provide for animals/plants now that it was on the ground.  And we poked it with sticks.  Cause that’s pretty much childhood, right?  Poking things with sticks.


    Close to the end of our two mile and TWO HOUR hike, S was feeling a little tired and whiney so J took her hand.  It was a pretty sweet moment because it was completely unprompted and served as a good reminder that they do indeed care for each other.

    When we crossed the road back to the parking lot, after slipping and sliding down a muddy hill, the kids cheered for their accomplishment.  It wasn’t all THAT far, but those little legs carried them for a long time.

    They of course still had energy for a playground, so we played for a few minutes, and then cried when it was time to leave.  Which is how many of our adventures end.  Yay!

    We didn’t make the observation tower, but it’ll be on our summer adventure list.  There are lots of other trails we’d like to try, so we’ve got plenty of reasons to head back.  Plus it’s so close to Milwaukee!

    Thanks for your patience in my posts…I’m trying to get caught up.  But who knows, maybe it’ll be June and you’ll still be seeing posts of hikes in snow 🙂

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 142- Point Beach State Park & John Michael Kohler Arts Center

    On one of the Fridays off my kids had in March (there were a ton, though I’m not complaining because it means we get to go adventure!), I convinced my friend Margo to caravan up to Point Beach State Park with me.  Remember that I’m a “wing it” kind of woman?  Well I grossly underestimated the distance and sort of just got in the car and headed north, and it took us almost two hours to reach our destination.  Granted, a trip to Culver’s for ice cream may have added a few minutes to our travel time.

    But it was worth the drive.  Once Margo, our combined 7 children, and I arrived, we briefly looked at the trail map.  It was a little confusing because not everything was open and snow was covering most of the ground.  So we migrated towards the beach and the kids immediately waded in the icy cold water.  Luckily, our boots were waterproof enough to keep toes mostly dry.

    We then decided to just head to the woods and play in the snow.  A campground was across from the beach, so we made our way there.

    The kids got right to eating and throwing snow, dragging sticks, and searching for frozen puddles and ponds.  We hadn’t had much snow in Milwaukee, so it was a great surprise to play in lots of wet but fluffy white stuff!  Margo and I watched our kids make up imaginary games, discover new “nature treasures” as my kids say, and trek over small hills and through trees.

    After more than an hour of playing and walking not very far but having a blast, kids started to get a little chilly.

    We decided it was a good time to head back south and try to visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan on our way back home.  So after one last stop at the beach to get our boots thoroughly wet, we piled in the car and shoved some snacks in our faces.

    We were dry and somewhat rested by the time we arrived in Sheboygan, but my lack of planning gave us less than an hour to visit the museum.  The Arts Center has an amazing kids studio, called the ARTery which is open these hours.  The arts center is always free which is incredible.

    We made small booklets from magazines and folded paper, and worked on those fine motor skills to balance out the day.

    There was also a table with clay.  The kids were encouraged to check out the museum and a particular exhibit which had small figurines.  They came back to the ARTery and created their own little creatures.  Little T has a real strong affinity to cats, so she of course made a teeny tiny little kitty.

    Our time at the Arts Center was way too short, so we’ll definitely be back.  Sheboygan is only an hour north of Milwaukee, and we hope to combine it with the Children’s Museum and a trip back to Bookwork Gardens in the summer.

    On the way home, the sunset was incredible.  My oldest took the camera to capture the beautiful lines the clouds were making, so I’ll leave you with her shot.  A little blurry, but I think it does the sky and our day justice.

    Hope you all had a good weekend, and got outside to celebrate Earth Day!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 141- Discovery World


    On a sunny Saturday morning in February, the kids and I headed to Discovery World to check out one of their weekend events, Love Your Great Lakes.  It was a day filled with projects, games and learning opportunities led by local organizations and non-profits.

    We first took a stroll through the promenade, where we chatted with volunteers and staff who care about the Great Lakes.  We saw the Mequon Nature Preserve, River Revitalization Foundation, and even James Steeno with his local artwork.  When I was Outreach Specialist at REI back in the day, I got to work with many of these non-profits and learned all about some serious conservation and community efforts.  I was really happy to see their involvement at the event!

    All of the kids touched turtles and asked questions about salamanders, and Little A even got to hold a snake!  MPM and MAM also had stations set up for families to create and learn.  It was lovely to see all these museums coming together in the name of community and water preservation!


    Our first stop in the museum was the Kohl’s Design It! Lab.  I’d never been before, because it seemed complicated or like it was geared towards older kids.  Now, there’s no real reason I thought that other than the fact that we typically head to museums during the week, when hours are more limited.  But let me tell you….I WAS WRONG.

    We were greeted by friendly staff who sat us down at a table, gave us menus, and asked which projects we’d like to try.  We ended up on planetary headbands and cardboard helmets.


    Look at my 3 year old jumping right in!  We traced templates on foam paper, and decorated it with lots of fun embellishments.  I manned the hot glue gun, but besides that they were all pretty self-sufficient.


    This lab space really is incredible.  Discovery World has so many different classes and workshops, and even makes a concerted effort to reuse materials.  Check out that wall on the right…there are 5 gallon buckets mounted on a wall, filled with materials for kids to use for projects.  So awesome.

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    As my people finished up, they headed to the Kids Corner, a space with building blocks, markers, crayons, and kid-sized furniture.  A great space for open play.


    After the Design It! Lab, we went to see the Challenger ship, and walk around while trying not to run.  Exploring that and the water exhibit next door is always a highlight of our time at Discovery World.  And on this day, we spent over THREE HOURS at the museum and didn’t even see all of the exhibits.  Another reason that asking for memberships to local museums takes precedent over toys in our house.


    Afterwards, we hit up the Sportsology special exhibit, where we threw, jumped, cycled and tested our physical capabilities.  J spent most of the time at the pitching station, while Little T worked on her pull ups for quite a while.  It was a really good hands-on experience for my brood!

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    On the way out, we stopped by the photo op in the promenade, and tried out our best silly faces.


    Special thanks to Discovery World for hosting us…there were SO many things for my young kids to do and explore, and there wasn’t a dull moment from the time we stepped in to the time we stepped out.  We’re also very excited for the efforts to have new experiences every week, so there’s no chance we’ll get bored 🙂

    We’ll be back!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 140- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center


    Contrary to what my kids’ faces say in this photo, we had a really nice hike at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center over winter break.  We met up with some friends and took to the trails to adventure and get really wet and a little chilly.  This post is a little short on words, so browse through the “General Outdoor Adventures” category on the right for many more adventures to SANC.


    We headed out on the Norman C. Huth trail, and made our way to Teal pond, which was frozen through.  So of course, we went “boot skating”!  After slipping and sliding around, the group decided to keep going towards the North Prairie trail.


    About halfway through, we had requests to take a break at the tall evergreens.  We stopped on some benches in the tall evergreens and ate some granola bars.

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    The kids were pretty beat after the hike, so after stopping on the rocking chairs on the porch, we went inside for snacks and hot chocolate.  In the main hall, you can grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and leave a donation in thanks.  We also looked at the resident rodents and turtles while warming up.  Schlitz Audubon has SO many opportunities to learn and explore, you just have to make the trip there to see all the options.


    I’ll leave you with this picture of Little A and S reading trail maps in kid-sized rocking chairs.  Because there’s nothing cuter than when kids cross their legs as if they’re reading the Sunday paper.

    Hope you’re all doing well this spring, and getting outside!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 139- Urban Ecology Center and Bayview Printing Co.



    Back in January, on a cold but not snowy day, we went to the Urban Ecology Center’s Winterfest.  It was held at the Washington Park branch, and was great free community event.

    Outside, families were roasting s’mores and the Door County Sled Dogs were hanging out just waiting to be pet.  The volunteers were happy to answer the million questions my kids had about the dogs, and were really happy to have the kids getting a hands-on experience with the dogs.  We learned about their daily schedules, workloads, needs, AND weekly dog sled rides at Whitnall park.  Next winter (if we have enough snow!), my family will be the first in line on a Sunday morning to experience a ride.



    When our toes and fingers started to get tingly, we headed inside for face-painting.  Volunteers were kind and very patient in the decision-making process for a few of my kids (thank you).  They also informed us that there was music and free lunch in the next room, so we checked it out.


    We ate chili and pie and watched some awesome interpretive/flash mob style dance where old and young folks alike were channeling some cross-country skiing.  It was amazing.  Inspiring, actually.  Because….


    …then of course my kids got on stage, which prompted a group of other kids to get up and take over.


    Afterwards, we met up with some friends who were dropping off paper at Bayview Printing Company.  Lucas, like owner Ashley, is a wonderful addition to the BVP experience.  He was kind enough to give us a live demonstration of printing postcards at the shop.  He even let us get involved!

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    And as a bonus, we later got to see those postcards in action at Friday Night Action, a gathering of folks who needed some way to channel their political dissent.


    The day was cold and busy, but it was the perfect way to get out and connect with our communities.  The Urban Ecology Center has so many free events, amazing classes/camps/programs, and is genuinely making a difference in the lives of their participants.

    Thanks to Bayview Printing Co. for having us, too!

    A. Storm

  • 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 137- Trails near Hoyt Pool in Wauwatosa


    We’re trying to build in more family hikes to our schedules, so on Sunday we rallied to head out and breathe some fresh air!  Since snow was in the forecast, we kept it local and just went to the trails at Hoyt Park.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the trail system is actually called.  Because east of 92nd, it’s apparently called the Forked Aster Hiking Trail according to one map, but other than that I can’t seem to find any information on it.  And west of 92nd, there’s a trail system that goes all the way north of Capitol, but I can’t find a map or name for that.  I know the trails have lots of mountain bikers on them, but that’s all I have.  Please comment below if you have links to maps or names for these trails!


    Anyway, back to the hike.  We arrived and headed into the woods at the west end of Hoyt Pool’s parking lot, right along the railroad tracks.  It was just starting to snow…big fat wet flakes.



    The kids started out REAL slow, picking up every stick and log (seriously) they could find.  The loop is just over 2 miles and it was a bit chilly, so Theo and I tried to keep people moving at a steady pace.  But there was so much to see! The Menomonee River, mallards swimming and searching for food, rocks with interesting patterns, a dusting of snow to eat, and lots more.


    The kids asked me to take a photo of what the sky looks like when we were considering just how far snowflakes have to fall to reach the ground.


    When the snow picked up, Little A plopped herself in the middle of the trail to catch snowflakes and roll around.  Any dog owners out there?  It was a little like watching your puppy roll in the snow for the first time.


    S of course insisted on hiking in a dress and tights, with her piggy, blankie, and pacifier.  We’re losing the battle on that last one.  Ugh.  I totally get how youngest children get spoiled.  You just don’t have it in you to fight the battle with some things.

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    There are some small mountain biking jumps, which we used as slides.  And then we immediately regretted not wearing snowpants!

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    By the time we made the loop, the snow was really coming down.  We made snowballs and threw them in the water.  And at each other 😉

    Portrait time:

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    Just as we were heading back to the parking lot (making sure to hike on the trail NOT next to the playground, because I don’t know about you but if my kids see a playground, it’s really difficult to keep them from it!), a train came by.


    And just like that, we were back at our car.  We snagged a 6-person selfie, took off our wet gear and headed home for hot chocolate and baths.

    It’s amazing how much nature soothes my soul.  And I don’t think I’m alone in this.  I’m so busy with getting places and fulfilling duties and making sure people are safe and loved, that I rarely get to gaze at a sunset long enough to feel its rays enter my being.  I rarely get to see mountains in the distance and feel just how small we are, and how in my own head I’ve been.  In the summer we get to the beach or maybe go camping and gaze at the stars, but waiting for nice weather/school to be out is not enough for me.

    So doing things like this means the world to me.  And we benefit as a family, too.  We’re not complaining about getting a new Lego set/watching the tv/sharing a toy.  We’re learning about the world around us and completing a challenge together.  Granted, a quick hike in the city is a small challenge at this point (they don’t know about my plans to backpack through a National Park someday soon), but it’s something.

    I’d like to give a shout out to Milwaukee County Parks for giving our family the opportunity to connect and be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

    Wishing peace to all,


  • Chapter 136- Seven Bridges


    Today, in an effort to switch up our routine of staying in pjs all day, we took a hike at Seven Bridges Park.


    It was pretty chilly, so we got on our hats and mittens (and leg warmers where applicable), and drove just south of the city.


    We started out on the trails on top of the bluff, and explored interesting pieces of wood, leaves, holes in logs, and other “nature treasures” as my kids started saying.


    The path we were on led to some steps, which led to beautiful Lake Michigan.  Even though it was cold, the kids got busy right away with exploring the edge of the beach and finding rocks.  We found endless patterns and designs in the rocks, and worked on our rock-skipping techniques.  Ted happens to be pretty much a champion when it comes to things like juggling, catching M&Ms in his mouth from very high distances, and skipping rocks.  So even with the waves, the kids got to see some serious skill.

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    Little A rolled around in the rocks and seemed to think she was making snow angels.  I swear I could see her absorbing the damp air into her soul.


    Ted and I played as adults play.  He practiced his long jump while he thought nobody was looking, and I showed my kids how I got the school record at discus.

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    S was a sight to see, just tromping along in her leg warmers, pacifier, blankie, and wet shoes from trying to imitate her papa jumping over the water.

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    The big kids went up and down some stairs that S deemed too steep, so she greeted them with open arms at the bottom.


    Ted and J crossed a log bridge, and I have no idea what my son is doing in the photo.  Something awesome, no doubt!


    Oh!  And I caught this moment on camera…Little A slid down to the creek and had a hard time getting up.  Her big sis handed her the walking stick and pulled her up.  Man, that was heartwarming.

    I’ll leave you with some of the treasures we found.  We’ve been doing a lot of doodling with shapes and forms at home, so we are storing some of the patterns in our brains for the next art session.

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    Thanks for reading, all.  Lots of love and peace to everyone out there.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 135- Lapham Peak


    Remember me?  I’m Amber and once was blogging weekly.  But then 3/4 of my kids went to school and our schedules changed and our most exciting adventures included piano lessons and grocery shopping.

    Well, that’s not entirely true.  We still had an amazing summer, spending half the time on awesome adventures and half watching cartoons in underwear.  We still get out to do fun things, but it’s been difficult for me to keep up with blogging.  Instagram has proven to be a somewhat easier method for me to share about our adventures.

    But what I’m getting at is that I have a new blog post for you!

    Yesterday, in hopes of catching some of the fall beauty that Wisconsin has to offer, I packed up some peanut butter and nutella sandwiches and the kids and went to Lapham Peak.  I did a trail marathon this summer (The Grand Island one, it was an INCREDIBLE experience!) and ran the brutal hills at Lapham in preparation.  The kids knew that I did some of my runs out there, and I wanted to show them the landscape.

    We parked at the Homestead parking lot, and headed out on the Plantation Path, a 1.8mi paved path.  Pardon the large amount of photos, but the kids requested that we take pictures of about everything so that we could remember the colors once the browns and greys of winter arrive.

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    The prairie was our first stop…the golden grasses were so pretty!  We read about invasive and native plants and how they travel.

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    After the prairie, we headed into the pine forest.  We noted that some needles turned brown and fell to the ground, creating a soft cushion for our feet.  The kids found leaves of all colors (I’m just realizing now that many of those leaves are in the pockets of their jackets that are currently in the washing machine), and insisted I take photos of them all.

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    Making observations, and guessing which kind of trees squirrels build their nests in.


    We all loved the bright orange fungus growing on this log.


    And since it had rained the night before, we rescued a few worms from the path.

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    We also took some portraits because the background was gorgeous AND everyone was happy!

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    Then wee cut off the Plantation Path and headed to the observation tower.  After climbing the 45-foot tower, we set up shop on top and got out some pencils and paper to start some nature drawing.

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    We made our way back down, hopped on the Kettle View Trail for a bit, and eventually made our way to the parking lot.


    Right before our hike ended, we found our first woolly bear caterpillar!  The kids took turns holding it trying out names (such as “fuzzy” or “harry”…very original) before setting it down near the picnic tables.


    We ate our sandwiches and apples, and talked about the beautiful colors around us.

    In all, we hiked almost three miles and all four of my kids were CHAMPS.  We were all tired and grounded and happy afterwards, and it was such a great way to reset before the week started.

    Anyway, I hope you’ve all been well.  Hopefully I’ll get back to this more often than I have in the past few months!


  • Chapter 134- Cloud 9 Workshop: Feeling Crafty Night


    On Thursday, I finally attended on of Cloud 9’s Feeling Crafty nights!  And it was so fun!  Kelcey Kalumbula is the creator and owner of this incredible organization, and she offers a wide variety of classes and workshops for kids and adults.  My friend Margo and I had been wanting to attend a Feeling Crafty night for quite some time, and I’m so glad it finally happened.

    We arrived at the well-organized, comforting, and adorable space in the front of Bloom Creative Ground, and Kelcey quickly welcomed us to the class.  She gave us an overview of the three craft stations (at one table we made earrings from recycled materials, at another we made cards, and the most popular project of the night was making eco-sandwich wraps) and we quickly got to work.

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    I haven’t sewn in a long time, which worked out just fine because Kelcey was available the entire class for additional instruction.  We used sturdy machines which made it easy, and the project itself wasn’t too complicated.  Well, I made a few mistakes as did most of the class, but that’s really all part of the experienc.  But this night has inspired me to finally take my brand new sewing machine out of its box and get back to sewing!  Which is funny, because after I told Kelcey that, she noted how at least one person per class says the same.

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    While we were waiting for sewing machines to be available, we kept busy chatting with other participants, sipping our wine/margaritas, and dabbling in jewelry and card making.  It was really nice to meet some new people and relax in such a creative setting!


    We had such beautiful fabric to choose from, and I was drawn to the patterns and colors that Kelcey brought back with her from a trip to Congo.  My sandwich wraps are the two on the left, and Margo’s are on the right.


    What a great night, honestly.  I wish I’d done more during the school year, but Feeling Crafty nights will start up again in the fall.  In the mean time, Cloud 9 offers Summer Eco Art Camp, private events, After School Art Club and more!  Please check out the website for more information.


    We’ve already gotten great use out of our sandwich wraps both in school lunches and on our picnic today.  They are machine washable, and my kids love them.  Now I just need to make more!

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    Thanks to Cloud 9 Workshop for a great night, and for some very useful take away projects!  I’ll definitely be back for more, and I’m hoping to get my kids involved as well.

    Hope you’re all enjoying this beautiful weather in Milwaukee!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 133 – Half Price Books & The Humane Society


    Somehow, I’d never been to a Half Price Books store until a few weeks ago.  We were on the hunt for cassette tapes because my stupid radio is dead in my car, which is a true test of dealing with uncomfortable emotions.

    To explain, I have to deal with CONSTANT chatter that sounds a lot like this: “MOM?! What’s that?  How many cars are on the road, Mom?  MOM, Was that a sharp turn or a soft turn?  What about that one?  And that?  Mom, why is it raining?  Mom, what does that sign mean?  Mom, can we go to a bouncy house? Mom, can I have snack?  Mom, I poked myself in the eye!  Mom, I dropped my blankie!”

    Needless to say, it would be nice to put on some music and switch up the dialogue in the car.  But I haven’t gotten around to figuring out how to afford/install/coordinate a new radio, so we’re using Little A’s Fisher Price cassette player from my childhood.  It’s working out fairly well.

    Anyway, at Half Price Books, we found some sweet tapes (Greatest Hits of Chopin and The California Raisins are on heavy rotation), comic books, and classic chapter books.  A great haul!


    Then, we went to the Humane Society to donate some dog food and treats.


    After dropping off our donations, we looked around at the animals with very explicit foreshadowing that we aren’t getting any animals at this point.  The kids agreed (Little T said “ok mom, I might be a little sad that we aren’t getting a pet but I won’t cry about it”) and we set off to see the cats first.  We oohed and ahhhed, and S declared “I don’t like cats.  I scared.  I don’t like them” which is true, poor girl is terrified of cats!  Which I can understand, not being a cat person and all.

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    We said hi to the bunnies and dogs and eventually hit the road.

    So this illustrates the extreme adventures we’ve been on lately.  I can feel a shift in our schedule and unfortunately, it doesn’t include much adventuring.  With preschool and an afternoon napper, we have such little time to get together with friends and explore the city.  So to all the people in my life, that’s why I haven’t been able to hang out and blog.

    Here’s hoping summer affords us more time to take advantage of the city!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 132- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center


    On a fairly mild but rainy day a few weeks ago, I took the kids out to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center to hike around.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the nature center, it’s 15 min north of the city and worth the short drive.  You can get annual memberships, or pay by the day to hike the trails, climb the observation tower, learn about see animals in the building, walk down to the lake, and more.


    After checking in inside the building, we geared up and took a short trek over to the wigwam.

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    Even though it was drizzling, the kids didn’t want to stay inside.  They were more excited about boot skating on the frozen puddles!

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    We looked for animal tracks and signs of wildlife, and saw a bunch of turkeys hanging out farther away in the woods.

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    We stopped off for a quick play session at one of the Nature School’s play spaces, and had a blast playing peek-a-boo and jumping in more puddles.  If you do use the play spaces, please be considerate and leave it in the same shape you found it, as preschoolers use the space every weekday.

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    We got goofy and super wet and had a blast!

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    Some of us also took “a shower” under the gutters.


    We walked through the woods a bit more, and decided to call it a day because we were soaked through.  After some hot chocolate at home, the kids wanted to head back!

    This is totally an annual membership worth getting for our family.  You can hike down to Lake Michigan, up the observation tower to get one of the best views, to any of the ponds to look for snails and turtles, and so much more.  Inside the building, there are lots of interactive learning spaces and a few animals to view.  You can even check out backpacks filled with tools for exploring (magnifying glasses, scavenger hunt items, etc).

    Hope everyone’s enjoying the snow!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 131- Cranky Al’s with new friends!


    Last month, I met up with a few friend and ate sweets, drank coffee, watched our kids take over the place, and had some really good conversation.  Ellia, of GreenBeanBaby, and I met at Elm Grove Art a few months ago, and have been meaning to meet up over donuts since.  We finally made it happen at Cranky Al’s!


    Ellia’s kids are so wonderful, and they entertained my kids for the entire time we were there (almost 3 hours!  You know the conversation’s good if you sit down for breakfast at 8:30am and realize it’s practically lunch time when you leave).

    Little A and Ellia’s daughter, Isabella, were queens of dance that morning.  I’m very certain the gentlemen sitting next to their impromptu dance floor loved the sounds of Little A’s cowgirl boots stomping.


    I’ll point out here that every photo after the one above (and the 237 on my camera) was taken either by Isabella, Little A, or Diego.  So the remainder of the post will be from their perspective!  Ellia and I stayed in the same spot, more or less, talking about motherhood, Milwaukee, challenges, art, and you know…life.

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    This one is hilarious and she’s going to hate me in like 10 years if any of her friends find this gem.

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    And somehow, the kids changed the settings to black and white and snapped this pic of Ellia.  They’re so smart, I’ve never taken a B&W photo on my camera!


    While we were there, Ellia gave me such a thoughtful gift!  Did I mention that she’s a cut paper freelance illustrator who makes amazing things like the ornament above (complete with yellow glasses!), and also does infographics?  She brought us a bottle of sequins and a stack of beautiful paper, too.

    And when we got home, we broke out our new art supplies and went right to making masterpieces.  Thank you Ellia!

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    Here’s to more adventures with Ellia and crew, and to sweets galore.

    Thanks for your patience in my slow-down of posting, everyone.  This is the first winter where I really feel like we’ve been hibernating!  Hopefully we can get out of our house and explore more than we’ve done the past few months!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 130- A Month in Review

    I haven’t posted in such a long time, for a few reasons.  The first is that we haven’t gotten out much.  The second is that I’m too overwhelmed to go through and individually post the adventures we DID take.  The third is that sometimes you just need a break.

    So because I have a slew of photos waiting to be posted, and that slew is causing me some anxiety, I’m just going to throw it all in this one glorious “recap” post and start fresh afterwards.

    Please be warned there are a million photos of my kids doing art projects in their pajamas.  Here’s the past month in photos:


    Oil pastel lessons from Grandpa.


    Fine-tuning her craft of making “loopty loops”.


    A “big dog bone”.  My kids have each been planning their big dog bone for months.  Maybe even a year for Little T.  My husband and I have been baffled at what this whole thing means, because nobody’s ever done anything except collect pieces of paper and recyclables.  But one day, after collecting a million scraps of paper, Little A declared that “today’s the day for my big dog bone!”.  She mapped it out and then created her masterpiece.  I’ll let you know when the others are having their dog bone.  It might even be a party.


    Took pretend naps on the kitchen floor while I was trying to make dinner.  Very helpful.


    Made it to the Tosa Tree Lighting ceremony.  It was crowded and fun and hectic and we were glad to do it.  And glad to leave.


    Went to the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Like 10 times.

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    We dragged each other across the floor with blankets.


    Drank lots of hot chocolate.

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    Got dressed up in Halloween costumes to help Uncle Wow with a shoot for his film.


    We drew more loopty loops.


    And drew aliens, robots, and super heroes.


    And decorated cookies.  I thoroughly enjoyed saying “screw it”, and letting them just get at it.  I didn’t supervise one bit.  I put all the decorations out, walked away, and only came back for this photo.  They made a huge mess and had a blast.

    IMG_0783 IMG_0787 Little A, Little T and I went to The Nutcracker with my mother-in-law for the third year in a row.  It was amazing, as always!


    Cranky Al’s saw our faces quite a few times.


    We went back to the art museum.

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    And made these AWESOME accordion books filled with slides of famous artwork!  The kids art studio was open EVERY DAY of winter break.  That place is the best.

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    We had another impromptu cookie-decorating session, this time with TEN kids.  Most were under age 6.


    Sat on boxes eating treats.


    Played with glow-in-the-dark Hot Wheels tracks.  And got numerous “movies” put on by Little T and her new planetarium projector.


    Took my dad to the hospital on Christmas Day.  He’s ok, back home now and recovering well after a 6 day stay for an inner ear issue.  Merry Christmas!


    Played outside in the snow.


    Took a family photo.


    Went back to the art museum.

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    Made crowns and took photos.


    Attempted that ever-elusive 6 person selfie.


    We said goodbye to the world’s best dog, Bagheera.  He gave us 14 beautiful years of love and wisdom.  I’m still grieving something big and heavy.


    My beautiful sister and her hubby drove up from Colorado to hang out with our crazy crew.  They even took us out to lunch at Pho 124, which is really great by the way.  And my kids discovered bubble tea!  There’s no going back.


    We went to Gospel Brunch at Collectivo, only to discover that it was cancelled (or the calendar was just incorrect online).  However, we drank more hot chocolate and smoothie, and ran into an Instagram friend.  So not a total bust.


    We did more art projects at home.  In pajamas of course.


    And we got bunk beds, which gave opportunity to some super dangerous but really fun mattress-jumping.

    A big shout out to the Milwaukee Art Museum for being so totally rad and giving us endless opportunities to create and absorb art so frequently.  To cookies and hot chocolate and donuts for pumping my kids full of sugar.  To Froedtert hospital for taking care of my dad.  To the Milwaukee Ballet for another year of tradition.  And to the good people who I call friends and family.

    And here’s to the year ahead.  May it be filled with more places to explore, friends to share experiences with, love to be radiated, and peace to be found.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 129- Drink & Ink at Bay View Printing


    Another Drink & Ink?  Why yes, yes indeed.

    I don’t know how I forgot to post this, but a few months ago, I attended a Drink & Ink at Bay View Printing Co.  I rounded up a group of bad ass women, and we headed to Bay View with our drinks and snacks.


    Since I’ve posted about this amazing outing before, I’ll be brief with words.  The gist is that the amazing Ashley (owner of BVP) gave us an overview of how to use the printing press, where to find the type, and how to assemble our design.  We then went to work crafting our posters (mostly various quotes), chatting, drinking, and snacking.  A pretty ideal combination, as it turns out.

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    Because I had zero plans for the poster, I made this.  A bunch of letters with “STORM” hidden in it.


    My friend Sarah made this…


    …Shannon made this…


    …and this ghost picture has Margo and Kayte’s posters.  Ha!

    Now for the good stuff: Bay View Printing is offering memberships!  A one time fee gets you access to a bunch of awesome stuff, and you can go to open studio sessions.  AWESOME!  Please check out Bay View Printing Co.  Ashley is pretty much the best, and it’s exciting to see the business being opened up to artists and makers in the community.


    A. Storm

  • Chapter 128- Milwaukee Art Museum


    So the twins turned 4 this past week, and instead of having a party or something else that would take up energy and not be that enjoyable for me, we let J & Little A choose a special date.  And my heart swelled when Little A said she wanted to go to the Milwaukee Art Museum with JUST MAMA.


    This morning, we got dressed up (because she requested “Mama, will you make your hair fancy and wear a dress?”) and hit the road to the museum.  Our membership lapsed back in April, and I didn’t renew because the museum was under construction.  But now construction is finished and YES WE’RE BACK!!!


    It’s so beautiful.  We saw like 15% of the collection, and it was incredible.  I think there are something like 1,000 new pieces, and they’re big and colorful and thought-provoking and refreshing.  We took a few pictures of our favorites.

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    And after taking a pit stop to look at Lake Michigan, we headed to the Open Studio to create some magic.  We saw our friend Shannon, who has seen my kids create and make huge messes for the past few years, and she walked us through the different materials and techniques of the day.

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    Little A is an artist at heart, and went right to it, using stencils, watercolors, oil pastels and more.  When I asked her how she felt while painting, she replied “proud!”.

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    Afterwards, we checked out the new Haitian exhibit and then made our way back down to the main hallways.

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    And to our surprise, we got to see live music!  Painted Caves were playing some super calming and interesting music, and we sat in the front row to get the best view.


    Little A was deep in musical meditation, and didn’t want to leave.  It was also past lunch time and she was basically melting into my lap.  I suggested we go get noodle soup (pho), which she loves, but she couldn’t bare to leave the museum and we ended up in the cafe downstairs.


    A kind and funny and silly woman offered to take our picture.  Little A joked with her and smiled and asked why she was so silly (I highly-regarded trait in our house).  After our dishes were cleared, we found that our new photographer/silly friend had paid for our lunch as a happy birthday present.  That’s never happened to me before, and wow…that was just about the kindest thing I could imagine.  She saw the special one-on-one time we were having, and made it even more so.


    Next, Little A asked for ice cream.  I asked if she preferred frozen yogurt with toppings, or some delicious and SUPER YUMMY ice cream from Purple Door.  Luckily, she took my bait and we ended up at the latter.  She had chocolate and I had salted caramel.


    We spotted a nice wall across the street, which had rich brown colored leaves and interesting vines, and decided to take a few pictures there.  When we got close, we even saw small blue berries on the vines…such fun color-hunting with this one.


    It was just as special for me as it was for her, I’m sure.  I rarely get to spend one-on-one time with my kids, so it’s a real treat to devote my full attention to them.  And as a bonus, we got to do all the stuff I really like doing.  Making art, taking in beautiful works of art by all kinds of artists, listening to live music, and eating good food.

    So in the name of Thanksgiving, I’m really grateful for this day!  I’ll leave you with my favorite shots of the day.

    A. Storm


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    (Yes she carried around a notepad all day, taking “notes”.  When I asked her what her notes meant, she said “they’re all about my day, of course!”)

  • Chapter 127- 414 Music Live at Radio Milwaukee with New Age Narcissism


    Another reason I love this city?  Music.

    I’ve heard New Age Narcissism (a group of local musicians including Lex Allen, Siren, Webster X, Lorde Freddee, Bo Triples, Chris G., Jay Anderson and Q the Sun) on the radio for the past year or so, and been meaning to get to see them.

    So when I heard that they’d be on 414 Music Live at Radio Milwaukee, AND THAT IT WAS EARLY IN THE EVENING AND I COULD BRING MY KIDS, I jumped on it!  We’ve had plenty of dance parties to “This Is Our Year” at home, and the kids were stoked to have a public dance party.


    I knew it was going to be a great night when while we were parking, I saw Lex Allen frolicking across Pittsburg Ave while The Weekend’s “Can’t Feel My Face” on the radio.  I got there with enough time to purchase a dinner of champions from Stone Creek: cashews, almonds, a cookie and hot chocolate.


    First up was Siren, who serenaded us to no other song than the one we had just heard on the radio!  She slayed “Can’t Feel My Face” and my kids were enthralled.  At one point, when she was belting it out, I looked over at Little T who was plastered to her chair with the widest eyes I’ve ever seen, just taking it in.  I don’t know that she had ever experienced live music so deeply (being in the front row helped heighten the intensity too!).  Her parents were there, and even said hi to us after the show…it was heartwarming to see such support.

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    Next up was the fabulous Lex Allen who sang “Earned It”, also by The Weekend.  It was steamy and sultry and marvelous.  You know, as I’m writing this, I’m remembering that the first time I heard Lex was on 414 Music Live a while ago.  His mom was in the studio audience, and he was real and authentic and charming.  How cool to see him still going strong (ahem, stronger even) on the same stage.


    And then Webster X took the stage with Bo Triples and performed “Kid X” off of his new EP for us.  It was one hell of a song…included dancing and audience participation.  Can’t really go wrong with that.  In the interview with Ken Sumka afterwards, Webster X mentioned that his father recently said how proud of his son he is, and that was the highest approval Web could ever ask for.  It was really heartwarming to see the family ties among the artists!

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    Lex came back on stage to perform his new single “Cream and Sugar” and DAMN it was good!  Be on the lookout for it, and get yourself ready.

    After the radio program ended, we were treated to a bonus performance of “This Is Our Year”, to which my kids jammed out hard.

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    Thanks to the NAN crew, Radio Milwaukee, and Stone Creek Coffee for a really fun evening.  In particular, thanks for letting my kids experience live and local music in such a great setting!  And if you have 26 minutes, check out the session for yourself, and get a more accurate recap.

    Happy Thanksgiving, All!

    -A. Storm

  • Chapter 126- Urban Ecology Center



    In our desperate attempt to take in fall before it’s over, we went out to the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park for a hike last week.  Have you ever read the book Frederick?  It’s about a mouse who’s seemingly shirking his duties of storing food and preparing for the upcoming winter.  But his family finds deep in the cold and grey of winter, that he had been spending his time storing up beautiful words and memories of colors and sounds to get them through the season.


    So we decided to be Frederick and go collect some memories for the upcoming winter.


    Little A spotted two monarchs, and noted their bright orange and black colors.


    J found acorns and stones that were smooth and hard.  He told me how they come from Oak trees and that squirrels hide them in the ground.


    Little T noticed that some of the flowers and plants were prickly and some were soft.


    We saw and heard geese flying south for the winter.

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    We felt the warm sun and breeze on our skin.


    We watched a snake slither across the path right in front of us.


    And we made our way down to the river to watch.  The water was calm and flowing south, and the breeze was blowing leaves into the water.

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    J showed me some big tree roots that were on the path.


    S and Papa snuggled and talked about all the sounds she heard.

    “That sound, Papa??”

    “That’s a bird in the tree”

    “Oh, birdie?  Birdie singing?”

    “Yep, baby.  Birdie singing”


    So from our family to yours, happy fall!  Hopefully you’re soaking up some warmth and sunshine these last few warm fall days.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 125- Apple Picking at Barthel Fruit Farm


    Today, I made a break from our routine.  I normally head to the gym with S while the twins are in preschool, but instead, we went apple picking!  We had enough time to drive to Barthel’s and man, was it a good decision.  I’m going to officially say that you should get out there soon before it gets cold, and pick some DELICIOUS honeycrip apples!

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    They also have pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks and various fall decorations.  I’ll get back to things other than apples in a minute.  But first…honeycrisps.


    I grabbed the $20 bag to fill, and found the correct aisle.  S and I walked around and looked through to find some really great apples.  Apparently, there was some hail damage this season, so the crop isn’t as perfect as normal, but every single apple we got was really great.  Some have a few small marks, but they’re so tasty just as well.

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    After filling up our bag, we went back to the barn and I noticed there were some plants and herbs on sale.  S and I walked around and discovered new colors and smells.  I ended up getting some thyme and apple mint.  There was a small chocolate mint plant which was super yummy (I may or may not have nipped a tiny leaf to try), but my planter at home can’t fit it.

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    After strolling around, having some great conversation (I swear this kid can talk like no other.  She’s not two quite yet but is speaking in full sentences and has A LOT to say.  I guess that’s the product of being a fourth kid!), we saddled up to the apple barn to pay.  And for $24, I got an enormous bag of apples and two herb plants.  Not a bad deal!

    But like I said, colder weather is coming, so head out soon.

    I hope everyone’s soaking up the last bits of nice fall weather…more to come on a trip I took yesterday in search of autumn colors!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 124- Elm Grove Art


    My friend Keila (of Mommy In Milwaukee) and I attended a Momma’s Night Out at Elm Grove Art last weekend, and I have to tell you that it was so fun!  I was a little nervous about leading the discussion about motherhood (Keila and I were hosting the night, as Mom Bloggers).  I don’t actually feel like a “Mom Blogger” because this is such a hobby for me, and also because in no way am I qualified to give anyone advice.


    BUT…when we arrived, we were welcomed by two of the most genuine, funny, and kind ladies I’ve met.  Katy Oberst and Danielle Heckenkamp are co-owners, who have created a super fun and casual space for people to socialize and make some art.  We were greeted with beautiful flowers that Danielle arranged, as well as some delicious chocolate.  Oh, and they serve wine and beer.  So um, yeah.  Can’t really go wrong.


    We sat down with nine other moms in the party room, gathered around a table, and shared stories about motherhood and what we’ve learned.  It was such a nice opportunity to hear from some other women who are interested in helping create a community of support, who give themselves a break, and who try and move through this role in life with grace.

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    Then, we grabbed some complimentary candy and headed to the easels.  Miss Katy led us through making a painting of a cherry blossom tree, which included some jokes, some instructions, some questions, and lots of laughs.  It was perfect for people with lots of experience in art, as well as folks who’d never painted before.


    Katy and Danielle have only been open for about four months, and already have so many different ways to make art.  They host birthday parties, rent out the space, have holiday celebrations and more.  They are going to add in a “craft” night as an option.  Have you ever seen a DIY project on Pinterest, but not wanted to gather all the materials and clean up the mess?  Well, keep an eye out for those!  Also, join in at the next Momma’s Night Out!  You can come and hang out, socialize, and make something amazing to bring home.


    And here’s the pretty kick ass bunch of ladies (minus Danielle and Katy) that I got to hang out with.  It was so great to meet everyone, and I hope we can meet up again!


    When my kids saw the painting I made, they were ASTOUNDED that I could do such a thing and asked to have it up in their room.  Win!


    And as an additional bonus, we are still enjoying the beautiful flowers from Danielle!

    For the record, this is NOT what my dining room table looks like normally.  Currently there are about 50 pieces of paper, 100 colored pencils, some books and pieces of broken toys taking up most of the tabletop.

    Check out Elm Grove Art’s website for a calendar of events, and I’ll hopefully see you November 21st at the next Momma’s Night Out!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 123- Green Meadows Petting Farm


    Greetings!  Back to school season…I’m learning that it’s not hard just for kids to get on a new schedule, it’s hard for me too!  I’m trying to catch up on the end of summer here, and realized I haven’t yet posted about the amazing Green Meadows Petting Farm.

    I had a Living Social coupon to use (and it was such a $$ saver!) and went to the farm a few weeks ago with my sister in law and her son.  It was such an epic day, because the farm is HUGE and there’s a ton to explore!


    We first rode the horses, and my youngest was not quite sure about.


    We cruised around the lawn on trikes and bounced on horses and slid down slides.

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    And then we made it to the chicken coop!  Everyone loved holding the chickens and being brave.  Those things occur simultaneously for my kids.

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    And we pet baby ducks!


    And baby cows!


    And baby cats!

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    And we ended our day with a hayride.  It was glorious.  We’ll be back next year for sure!

    Hope everyone’s start to school is going well!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 122- Holey Moley Donuts and Gordon Park


    Last week I saw a picture of donuts from Holey Moley, and decided to pack up the kids and take a trip for a mid-morning snack.


    We pranced our way into the sort of odd location (the lobby area connected to Coquette Cafe and a few other businesses), smashed our faces against the glass, and chose donuts.  Little T and J opted for the Boston Cream, Little A got the Red Velvet, and S got the Sugar Babies (I didn’t realize we’d get two).  Oh, and I got the Coffee Cake Old Fashioned donut…I may be thinking about it right now wishing it were in my mouth.  It was SO good.


    Turns out the pair of Sugar Babies came in handy, because after Little A licked off the frosting of her Red Velvet, she decided she didn’t like it.  Luckily we had a spare!

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    Just because there was a lot of twin love that day.

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    There was also a lot of hair flipping and squeezing and singing.

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    So then, after the donuts, the kids requested a park.  I agreed it would be a good idea, and asked if they wanted to go to a park we know, or just drive around until we found one.  They chose the latter, and we ended up at Gordon Park.


    It was almost deserted, because it was almost lunchtime, and the sky was threatening to rain at any minute.  We took our chances!

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    And there’s a woman, Amanda Magee, who has some beautiful things to say about life and parenting.  And she often says yes when she wants to say no (in terms of things like pulling over to swim in a lake with her daughters).  And when I saw the enormous sandbox, I was temped to request that the kids stay out of it.  Because who in their right mind likes dealing with sand in hair and eyes and shoes and anywhere else you can think of?


    But I thought of Amanda, and I said yes.  And the fun we had was worth the sand in my car.

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    I had spotted a big wall across a soccer field, so we took off our shoes and ran across to find out what was behind the wall.  Turns out, it’s a building with some graffiti which makes a great backdrop for photos.

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    And that was that.  A really enjoyable morning and totally worth it all!


    A. Storm



  • Chapter 121- Cushing Park


    A few weeks ago, before summer was not ALMOST OVER OH MY GOSH, we made the trek out to Cushing Park. It was super easy to find and was well contained.  I like those qualities in a park.


    The play structure was wooden, and had a fence around with only one entrance/exit.  Perfect for people with multiple heads to count.


    The sandbox was a hit, as was just general exploring and running around with our cousin!


    After we snacked on some sandwiches from The Picnic Basket, we headed to the stream to play in the water.  More friends met up with us, and we tromped through the water searching for tadpoles and more.

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    We even caught and released some tiny catfish!

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    We had a blast.  We caught fish, jumped and splashed, played, and definitely found a leach on one of us.  Eeek!


    All in all, it was a really fun day.  The play structure was big, there was a lot of shade, and who can complain about water to splash around in?

    Hope you guys are enjoying the last bit of summer!

    A. Storm


  • 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:


    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:


    Playing naked karate in front of a soccer game.


    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.


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


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


    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 120- Barthel Fruit Farm: Strawberry and Pea Picking


    Let me just start by saying of course this post, like most, could be better timed.  If things were different in my life and blogging were actually my job, I’d have posted this right before strawberry and pea picking, rather than after.  Then I’d give you a list of farms around Milwaukee, complete with some sort of family-friendly rating system.


    But…I’m not that organized.  So here’s my recap of an amazing day a few weeks ago!  I met my friend Margo and her three boys at Barthel’s, which is in Mequon.  I’d never been strawberry picking before, because I imagined it being a total fail of a day.  I had no idea how I’d possibly wrangle four young kids and keep them safe and engaged.


    But for some reason, it worked out perfectly.  It was a fairly cool and overcast day, so we didn’t have to contend with complaints about heat.  We were assigned a row of strawberries, took a few flats, and got to picking (eating).


    There were lots of other families there, some with younger or more kids than I have!!  Ok, nobody with more than four kids, but I did see a woman who had what looked like almost 2 year old twins.  And I admired her.  She was very calmly watching over her only partially happy kids, while carrying on a semi coherent conversation with her friend.

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    After we finished our row of strawberries, we headed over to the peas to start picking.  And man, those peas were delicious!

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    After we had our fill of peas and berries, we packed up to head out.  I think I paid like $8 for the big bag of peas and few pounds of strawberries.  Woot!   barthels16 barthels19

    I had plans to make freezer jam with all the leftover berries we’d inevitably have, but within 24 hours, ALL the berries and peas were gone.  Amazing snacks!!

    Even though strawberry picking season is over, apple season is right around the corner.  Hope you’re having a great second half of your summer, all!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 119- Tosa Tonight at Hart Park


    I’d like to dedicate this post to the big blanket I carry in my trunk, thanks to my Grandpa Cy!.  Because a few weeks ago, I did NOT feel like making dinner (which is pretty much every night this summer) and decided to take the kids to Gilles to get burgers to take to a park.  And on the way to Gilles, I drove past Hart Park and read the sign that said “Music Tonight“.   And since I had a blanket in my trunk for such spontaneous picnics, we got our burgers and custard and brought them back to the park.


    We dined on some fine hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, got more custard on our clothes than in our mouths, and it was perfect.  Things were just getting set up (the first performer started at 6pm) so we had some time to play with some bug finger puppets that the folks of Firefly Real Estate gave us, then headed to the playground.

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    And I’m usually really good at keeping track of my four kids on a playground, but when 50 other kids are on it for a special occasion, it’s MUCH harder.


    My youngest wandered off in the crowd at one point and it was the first time I’ve been a little nervous about not finding a kid.  Usually, I know generally where they are, and I find them 5 seconds later.  I’m constantly doing a headcount (so if you see me out someday, and wonder why I’m distracted, it’s because I’m counting to four).  But the little miss took off while I was talking to the big kids, and I had no idea where she went.  Luckily, some nice older folks behind me gave me clear directions as to where she went, and I found her wandering among blankets and families not far from me.  Whew!


    Immediately after deciding she didn’t need to stay near us in a crowd of people, she climbed up this ladder all by herself.  Then continued to climb it for like 20 minutes straight.  Let me remind you here that she’s a year and a half.  Someone guessed her age this past weekend, and thought she was THREE.  Nope.  Just tall and independent.


    And then Macyn Taylor took the stage.  And we danced.  Macyn is an incredible musician, and I loved her slide guitar and folk music and heart felt lyrics.  The kids liked it too!


    And now I’ll tell the rest of the story in photos.

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    We weren’t able to stay for the main act, but it was such a fun and spontaneous evening.  Hope you’re taking advantage of all the free music around the city this summer.  Here’s a link to Milwaukee County Parks’ schedule, as a place to start.

    Happy summer, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 118- Ingebrigt Håker Flaten at Anodyne Coffee


    A few weeks ago, I saw a notification on my Facebook page that Anodyne Coffee was hosting a free performance by Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, a jazz bassist from Norway who was in town for the OKKA Fest.  Since I knew nothing about Ingebrigt or the jazz fest, I thought it would be a perfect event for my four kids!


    We got to Anodyne a few minutes later than I hoped (for some reason Bay View is the Bermuda Triangle for me.  I can NEVER find a decent route there, and since I’m a “just wing it” kind of gal, I don’t bother looking at a map or getting GPS).

    But when we arrived, we had to share a table with four other people.  One of my kids was feeling particularly shy and obstinate that day, so we almost had to call it off due to table sharing.  Luckily, two super nice folks saw what was about to happen and offered up their table, saving the day.


    We sat down to munch on our cookies and juice (soda? whatever you want to call San Pellegrino) and it was awesome.


    Awesome because the music was nothing like my kids had ever heard.  It was also out of my typical listening genres.  It was disjointed, confusing, interesting, and involved lots of plucking/striking/squealing.  Of course, because I’m out of my element, I’m using non technical terms.  But it was SO interesting to hear and see.


    It was a quiet crowd, as you had to be in order to hear some of the music.  Not something many (ahem, any) people would take their kids to.  The twins and Little T did a good job of listening and letting other people enjoy the performance, but my 1.5 year old didn’t really understand why she had to eat a cookie in silence for 20 minutes.  There were a few “MAMA!” shouts, but other than that, they were all pretty good.  Actually, three people came up to me afterwards and complimented the kids.  High five, team!


    We played on the sidewalk for a few minutes, before deciding we need to run off some sugar.


    So we headed to Humboldt Park!  It was a busy and beautiful day, and I spent most of the time pushing kids on the swings.  Any other parents out there avoid parks with swings?  I do.  It’s nearly impossible to find four swings in a row (at least two have to be big kids swings, at least one has to be a little kid swing).  So I spend my time trying to keep an eye on many people in many different parts of a playground.  But it works out.

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    It was really fun to do something out of our element, followed up by running around outside at a beautiful park.

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 117- Milwaukee Public Museum with new friends!


    A few weeks ago, I met up with Keila of Mommy In Milwaukee, and her two adorable boys, at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Keila is such a kind and positive woman, and I feel so happy to have met her.  We’d connected on Instagram, and decided we should probably adventure together at some point.


    When we arrived, it was decided unanimously that we should see the dinosaurs first.  And I think my kids are officially not afraid of the T. Rex exhibit!  It’s always been a huge draw, but the loud sounds and dark lights were pretty intimidating.  Not anymore though, we’re officially brave.


    At the end of the exhibit, there was a museum volunteer with LOADS of information about dinosaurs.  He let us hold real bones, and helped the kids determine which bones were real and which were replicas.


    The above picture is of one of my favorite spots in the museum.  I love the feeling of being underwater and back in history simultaneously.  Oh, and the kids liked it too.


    After trying to corral five kids under age four, we headed back to the lobby to have some lunch and regroup.  We shared snacks and Keila and I finally had a chance to chat.  Turns out we both have a passion for our city, and want to find ways to get people connected.  Now comes the task of figuring out how to do that!


    Little T was still in school, so I wasn’t able to stay too long.  We hung out in the lobby for a bit longer, and talked of wolly mammoths and other awesome natural science.

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    We also found some stairs behind the wolly mammoth.  Which created an amazing loop for the kids to run around.  And around and around and around.


    Eventually we had to part.  It was a short but super sweet adventure, and I’m sure we’ll hang with Keila’s crew again this summer.


    And on our way out, S had a pretty epic temper tantrum over the stupid sucker she happened to find in the diaper bag (I love everything about our pediatrician except the fact that they have suckers in the lobby.  One accidentally found its way into my bag).  Her older siblings were kind enough to sit next to her (totally unprompted) and wait it out.

    Thanks to Keila for the great company, and to the museum for allowing me to bring some guests!

    Hope summer’s treating everyone well,

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 116- Orange Gallery

    Hey all!  If you’re free tonight, check out Orange Gallery’s Grand Opening!


    I was lucky enough to attend the soft opening in February, and wanted to share about this cool new shop.  Ngoc is a fabulous lady (pictured below, left) who has put together the collection of artwork, jewelry, clothing and general awesomeness in the gallery.  Lacquer Nail Salon shares the space, and provides some seriously good looking nail services by a lovely and hilarious woman, Lynna.

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    When I arrived, there were lots of folks strolling around talking to artists, shopping, munching on delicious food and doing some general mingling.


    I liked a ton of the work, and got to meet the women from Artery Ink, Mara and Gloria.  They’ve put together health/wellness with art, to create a really unique art form.  I really appreciate the combination, and the fact that they honestly care about people.  And their message is worth getting behind.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of their work, so hit up their online stuff if you haven’t seen them around town.

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    There seemed to be something for everyone here.  The range of style and price was fit for a wide variety of shoppers.


    And the general vibe of the night was right up my alley.  People were interesting, welcoming, easy going.  I sometimes feel out of my league at art events, but not here!


    I met Leah Delaney of ExFabula (CHECK. THAT. OUT.) and got excited about what she’s doing.  I later attended an ExFabula event and had a wonderful evening, where I almost got up the guts to share a story in front of a large crowd.


    I even said hi to Mr. John Dye of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge (he was apparently feeling a bit photo shy).  Remember the post I did about Doors Open and the in depth tour I got?  It’s a cool place with rich history.


    I spent most of the evening meeting artists, learning about Milwaukee, and generally having fun talking with people.  Which brings me to the fact that I took only a few of these photos…

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    A big shout out to my friend and photographer Kate for making this post possible!  Most of these pics are hers.  Well except the one above that I snapped while she was avoiding being in front of the camera.

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    The food was delicious (catered by Classic Slice and Cedar Teeth), the company was top notch, and the art work was really great.  I’m sure the Grand Opening tonight will be a blast!


    Check out Orange Gallery tonight (I hear there’s a DJ!) or any other time, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    Thanks for reading and have a great weekend,

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 115- Milwaukee Ballet’s Cinderella


    My mom treated me, Little T and Little A to the ballet!  And because it was Cinderella, the girls took another opportunity to wear some sweet dress up dresses I found at Goodwill last year (because the attire is pretty standard on regular days at home, too).


    And Little T was extremely lucky…as one of the cellists was walking into the building, she spotted Little T and gave her the super fancy crown pictured above.  Thank you MSO!

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    And thankfully, Little T is great at sharing and let her little sister have a turn with the crown.


    It was a beautiful performance.  I’ve been to a handful or two of Milwaukee Ballet’s performances, and I’m never let down.  The company does amazing work, and I feel honored any time I get to attend.  This show had three acts, which was a little long for my kids (granted, I took a 3 and a 5 year old to the ballet).  They were a little less antsy watching the Nutcracker because it was shorter and had lots of action.  Cinderella was a beautiful show, though.  It was interesting to see how they adapted the story to the stage, and made some slight changes to the more well-known versions.


    During the second intermission, Little A and I bolted up to the snack bar because the kids were getting really tired.  We stood in line (or twirled next to it) for about 10 minutes and got some snacks to mow down in the hallway before the third act began.  It was just perfect to perk up the kids!


    Special shout out to my Mom for taking us on such a fun adventure!  And thanks to the Milwaukee Ballet for providing our city with some beautiful and meaningful art.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 114- Kaleo at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

    Alright, this is going to be a pretty quick post for a few reasons.  One is that I didn’t take many photos (I took some videos but cannot for the life of me format them correctly so you can view them…boo!) and the other is that I have a  queue of posts just waiting to be published.  So watch out, I might do something crazy and post more than once today!


    But a few weeks ago, I took the girls down to 88Nine Radio Milwaukee to see the band Kaleo.  Which happened to coincide with DJ Kallao’s last day at the radio station.  Crazy, right?

    I’d only heard the band’s one song, All The Pretty Girls, and liked it.  That’s enough to get me down to the studio!


    J was on a special date with his cousin, so it was just me and the girls.  We got some water and cookies from Stone Creek and found seats.  And snuggled while waiting for the band.


    And I have to say, I’m a fan of the band now.  It was a great show…I was surprised that the music had a definite blues and good ol’ rock and roll feel.  We heard “I Can’t Go On Without You” and “Broken Bones” which I loved.


    I thought this was a cool guitar.  (Hey Dad, can the next one you build look like this?)


    The kids danced, clapped along, and we all left feeling like we got a super special treat.  A chance to see a band from Iceland perform in our city.  They stuck around to talk to the audience after, but nap time called so we departed before saying thanks.


    So thanks Kaleo and 88Nine for the entertainment!  I wish I should share with you the videos from the performance, just to give you a more accurate feel for the music, and the vibe of 88Nine’s studio performances.  They’re a really fun and free (and quite family friendly for being live on the radio!) way to get involved.

    Till next time,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 113- Cuban Day Street Celebration


    Thanks to Miltown Moms, I heard about Saturday’s Cuban Day Street Celebration.  The weather was cooperating, so I packed up the kids and headed downtown to Milwaukee St. in front of Cubanitas restaurant.

    The celebration included a stage with some wonderful live music, space for dancing, tables and chairs, a small booth or two, and a very large inflatable slide.  Because I have four kids, we made a dash for the slide.  Since the celebration was still starting, we had it all to ourselves!

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    Soon after, a few other families came in and the kids took turns going two by two through the maze/slide.

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    And then my sister-in-law and her son showed up!  My kids were beyond excited that they got to go down a giant inflatable slide AND see their cousin (they often literally squeal with delight when they see him!).


    After some convincing, we decided to leave the inflatable and head to the food.  Little T insisted on pushing the stroller which was a very independent and big kid thing to do.


    When I went inside Cubanitas to check out the food situation, I read the sign that said “$13 per adult, $6.50 for kids ages 5-11 and free for kids under age 5”.  I bet they didn’t think of my family when making those prices!  The food was delicious.  We ate some rice and beans, fried plantains, plantain chips with guacamole, delicious roasted pork and more.  The kids mostly focused on the white rice, chips and guacamole, but I’d say 75% of them tried 50% of the food.


    The tables were all full so we set up shop on this doorstep, which made for a nice backdrop.

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    I’ve been letting the kids use my camera periodically, and the above portrait and below family shots were done by my three year old nephew.  Pretty good, I’d say!

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    And this one just because Little T looks like she’s hitchhiking.


    Oh!  And then we realized that Indulge was part of the celebration, and stopped in for some free cotton candy.  The woman making the treat was nice enough to make really small ones for my kids, because I was already tempting fate by getting the kids all hopped up on sugar right before departing.


    Little T scarfed down her treat and promptly made herself into a unicorn.

    Which happens to be a fantastic parting shot.

    Thanks to Cubanitas for hosting such a fun adventure.  I can’t wait to head back to the restaurant for a date night with my husband.  I’ll get to do that someday, right?  Have a night out without a headache of planning and paying a sitter?  Yeah, it’ll come.

    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 111- Milwaukee Public Museum

    Today, Little T went on a special date with her aunt and cousin, so I took the other three kiddos to the Public Museum.  We’ve been doing a lot of around-the-house playing lately, without much adventuring.  But today I had requests to see dinosaurs and butterflies, so we headed to the MPM for a visit.


    We first stopped in the lobby to eat some oat/maple/banana bread (recipe from Thug Kitchen’s new book) and admire the wooly mammoth.  And because members now get free admission to the dome theater, we went in to see the show “Wisconsin Stargazing“.  I had never taken J and Little A to a theater before, and certainly not S, so I was a little nervous.  BUT, my fears subsided as we headed in, and my three kids under age 4 sat down and had no idea what was going on so they were still and quiet.


    We got to see the sky in the evening, and then later at night after the moon arose.

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    We got to see where Jupiter lies in our sky, which is really cool because two nights ago I saw it in person.  In my backyard.  You see, I got Theo a telescope for Christmas and we’ve been getting really good use out of it.  Little T is really interested in natural sciences and astronomy currently, so we’ve had lots of moon/Jupiter/Venus viewing sessions in our back yard as of late.  And two nights ago, I saw Jupiter (even the two red lines!) and four of its moons.  Very cool.

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    After the short planetarium show, the twins chose to see dinosaurs first.  The above photo is approximately 2 seconds after I asked Little A to keep her feet on the ground.

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    Next we headed to the butterfly garden.  You can’t really see (well maybe if you know her really well), but above, S is thrilled to point out the butterfly above.  Her eyebrows are raised and she was squealing.

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    Little A played photographer for a bit, after we saw the insects.

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    The kids were starving (like always) so we went to the lobby to eat our lunch of pita, hummus, veggies and spicy pretzels (my friend Brooke shared the recipe with me a year ago and it’s a staple snack in our house).


    And after lunch and just a few exhibits, we had to head home for nap time.

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    We held hands through the parking garage, loaded up, and made it home.  Thankfully we have a membership so we can take lots more time to see the rest of the museum.  There’s a new permanent exhibit which looks great, so that’s on the top of the list for next time.

    Hope everyone has a great week!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 110- An Epic Road Trip to Colorado


    I’ll tell you a story about a woman who had cabin and then spring fever so bad that she decided to pack up her four kids under age 6 and drive to Colorado.

    So let me back up a bit…I realized two weeks before Little T’s spring break that well, she had a spring break (I’m still getting used to having a child in school).  And because my parents took us on long car trips to Montana as kids, I will always have a yearning to hit the road and head west even if it’s with my four children while my husband stays at home to work (thanks babe!).

    My parents were heading out to visit my sister, Angela, and her husband Bobby, so I tagged along with them and they graciously offered to take two of the kids in their car.  We made it to Lincoln, NE the first night with no major happenings.   Sort of boring, actually.  I mean, I thought I’d have more horror stories about the car ride!


    After a night’s stay at a hotel, we ate some free breakfast and put on a very loud singing performance (which half of the staff/guests trying to eat breakfast loved, and the other half I’m sure hated) before hitting the road.


    There was one small puking incident in my parent’s car right after we crossed the border into Colorado, but the above picture is of Little A 5 minutes afterwards.  She and her siblings were picking dandelions for me, and she seemed alright.


    We arrived to Buena Vista, CO, a mere 1,200 miles from home.  We immediately set up shop on my sister’s front porch, and stayed there for pretty much the rest of the week.


    The kids were either a little sick or adjusting to the altitude (BV is at about 8,000ft.) so we laid low and did such amazing things as ride bikes…


    …practice opening and closing the front door…


    …get spoiled by aunts and uncles who get their nieces and nephews hats and sunglasses and flip flops…


    …and read books with my dear sister, Aunt Angela.


    My amazing sister has a really cool shop called Made, and every time I go in, I say things like “Ang!  I love the feel in here.  It’s got such a great vibe AND some really awesome clothes.”  Anyway, Angela is working on an exciting project at the Jailhouse.  It’ll be an art space that’s open for classes, workshops, exhibits, and shows.  Here she is showing my dad the space.

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    I come from a family of artists, if you didn’t know.


    Back to the kids- they cruised around BV, and got used to the parks.  No swings or slides, but lots of rocks to boulder on and ropes to climb.

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    Angela and Bobby have a great back yard, mostly because it’s enclosed and has a lot of garden space that’s yet to be planted for the season.  So the kids put on their pearls, got some spoons, and started digging.

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    We explored the city with Grandpa, and relaxed in the shade.


    We also practiced our climbing.  Someone complained about walking LITERALLY BEHIND MY SISTER’S HOUSE to the park because it was too far away.   I may have replied, “You guys are soft.  We need to get out and exercise!”.  And we did.

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    This was the best shot I could get of me and the kids.  Better than nothing!


    More front porch shenanigans.


    And Blu, the kindest most mellow dog you’ll ever know.


    Since Bobby is out on the river as many days as possible, he took the kids on some adventures to see the water.  We did a lot of throwing rocks.  I mean, A LOT.

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    And Little T started a pretty rad rock collection.


    And oh my gosh!  She lost her first tooth!!!!


    A few nights in, we decided to try out staying at a hotel in town.  My kids were all a little needy and insisted on sleeping in the same room (or bed, UGH) as me.  It wasn’t working at the house, but the hotel was perfect.  I only had to share a bed with one kid at a time!


    They also got to watch cartoons they never get to watch at home and jump on beds.  I’m positive they enjoyed themselves.


    We took a mini expedition to see some cool tunnels outside of town, and got out to see some bones we spotted.


    When we got back to the house, the kids were thrilled to tell Grandma about the “reindeer” bones they saw (I thought it too cute to correct them).  Little T is particularly interested in natural science currently (yay!) and loved discovering the bones, trying to determine which part of the animal we were looking at.

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    Another amazing photo of me and the kids.


    And after a week, we packed up and headed home.  This is obviously a VERY abbreviated version of the week, because I haven’t even told you about my finger.  Mandoline slicers are incredibly sharp, people.  Be careful.

    On the way home, all four kids requested to be in my car which was totally fine with me.  They were champs and I can’t even tell you how well they did.  Don’t get me wrong, they complained towards the end of both driving days.  A lot.  But without any technology besides the stereo, they did amazingly well.

    That said, I need to give a shout out to raisins in tiny boxes (because they’re basically the equivalent of putting treats inside a complicated dog toy, except for children), the public library for a slew of new books, and Fox and Branch.  I bought two of their CDs at the last Anodyne show, and THANK GOD for the album “Did You Hear That?”.  In particular, the song “Bling Blang” which my kids are still singing, and my personal favorite “Rock Island Line”.


    This was at the same rest stop in which my dad cleaned up Little A’s puke on the way to Colorado.  This time we ate ice cream and looked at ants.  Right after I took this picture, I realized they were making friends with red biting ants.  Oops!


    And they graciously posed for a final shot.  We made it back in one piece (well except for my finger) and were all exhausted but feeling fresh from breathing the cool mountain air.


    Thanks for reading, guys.  I’ve been a little out of the loop with keeping up with the blog, so thanks for sticking with me.

    Hope somewhere out there, someone is enjoying warm, or even mild/not snowing weather!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 109- Organ Piper Pizza


    After one failed attempt at Organ Piper Pizza (we showed up at 6:30pm and there was a 30 minute wait.  You can imagine that timing doesn’t work for a family with 4 kids under age 6), we headed back and arrived right when they opened.  I’d heard about this gem from my native Milwaukee friends, and had to check it out first hand.


    The musician at the organ that night was really talented.  He played show tune upon show tune, and even played some requests.  The kids had fun dancing and well…all they did was jump.  “Dancing” to them is “jumping” to the rest of the world.

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    When our pizza a mozzarella sticks were ready, we made it back to the table to chow down.  The food was pretty good!


    And then, the kids noticed the game area.  We’d tried to keep them from seeing it because it involved coins and prizes and lots of potential for meltdowns.


    BUT, we used my favorite parenting technique of foreshadowing, and let them all go on one ride and get one treat.  And it worked!

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    Just because this sad clown was delightfully creepy.

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    And I’ll leave you with Little A’s inaugural bite into a giant gum ball.

    Happy eating, everyone!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 108- Mitchell Park Domes


    A few weeks ago, my good friend Chai came up to visit us from Chicago.  Chai has two amazing girls, A & V, who have most definitely inherited their mother’s creative bone.  I’ll get to that at the end of this post.  Anyway, we met up on Monday morning at The Domes.  It was an incredibly busy day there, as it’s free for MKE county residents on Monday mornings AND it was a no school day.  So after waiting in a line outside, we made our way in and hit up the Desert Dome first.


    No huge happenings in this dome, other than Baby S (I guess I could stop calling her a baby by now) was ENTHRALLED with the just-her-size railings.  She was interested in pretty much nothing else.


    We showed our friends all the cacti, plants growing in boots (“whaaaaat?!?! that’s so silly!!”), and then headed to the show dome to see the trains.


    After being told not to sit on the ledge, we snapped some pictures at the blue wall.

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    And then danced.


    The kids found their way to the stage and showed Chai and me their best moves.  And as you can see, those moves were amazing.


    Because it had been like 60 whole minutes since my kids had eaten, they were starving and insisted on eating lunch.  We headed to the lobby to find a table, but because of the huge crowd, we settled in on the floor for a makeshift picnic of hummus, veggies, fruit, muffins and cheese.

    Chai and I are friends from high school, who didn’t really spend much time together until I was pregnant with twins and freaking out.  I called her up because she had 2 year old twins at the time, and she seemed to have it together.  Chai was a huge support to ensuring me that we’d all be ok (and look, we are!).  So fast forward a few years to this trip, eating a picnic lunch, and trying to catch up with your friend while managing six kids.  We decided to wrap things up so we could head back to my house to get a little closer to finishing a conversation/thought/sentence.

    But first the kids needed to burn off some energy by leaping and jumping on the vents.  I’m sure the staff at the domes appreciated it.

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    So back at the house, we got out our arts and crafts supplies, and went crazy.  A & V made some amazing 3D structures of houses, lamps and more.  I could tell that my kids hadn’t ever thought to build UP from their paper, and it opened a new facet of art for them!


    Did I mention that Chai is an artist?  She’s got some really unique and interesting  work, here and here!  In Milwaukee!  Bloom has art classes and workshops for kids and adults, and I’ve been meaning to get to one.  Look for that to come…


    Once again, I’m so happy to have Mitchell Park Domes as a resource here, it’s a very laid back and mellow adventure that showed our out of town friends a little of the city.   And thanks to Chai for making the trip!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 107- Free Ice Cream Today!


    I heard through Metroparent’s Facebook page that Dairy Queen is offering free cones today.  So naturally, we got on our shoes after nap and walked to the closet location!


    It’s a beautiful day, and my poor kids have been cooped up forever, so we thoroughly enjoyed walking in our neighbors’ lawns and finding birds nests.

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    Once we got there, I decided to splurge and spend the $.80 to get the cones dipped in chocolate (something they’ve never experienced before.  As you can tell from Little T’s expression, they liked it.  Well maybe you can’t tell.  But that’s her “oh my GOSH this is SO good!” face).

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    We made huge messes, then walked home and went straight to baths.

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    If you can get to a Dairy Queen tonight, take advantage of this nice offer!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 106- Washington DC


    Hey there!  It’s been a while, and I have a lot to catch up on.  So I’ll start with my out of town adventure to see my dear friend Nancy, and meet her (then) 9 week old baby girl, Ingrid June.  She’s the cutest.  I was surprised how in love I fell with a baby other than my own!


    I spent four days snuggling and staring into the bright blue eyes of Ingrid, and catching up with Nancy (who is by the way doing a pretty kick ass job at maintaining her sanity through the newborn stage).   For that matter, so is her husband Mark (of ROM, remember my post about his band?  I hear they’ll be on tour again this fall.  Come back to MKE guys!).


    Besides snuggling a baby and catching up with the first friend I ever had, I drank delicious hot buttered rum that Nancy made me.


    And I finally got some basic science worked out in my head, thanks to my BF/at-hand biologist.  Mark and I had been discussing Ingrid’s eye color the night before, and couldn’t remember how it all worked.  Nancy cleared it all up the next morning.


    On my last day, we ventured out of the house to run some errands in Cleveland Park.  We ate lunch at Nam Viet and took turns eating delicious food..


    …and rocking the baby…


    Nancy had an errand to run solo, so I took a walk around the neighborhood, got my kids some souvenirs, grabbed coffee, and enjoyed the sunny sky.



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    Nancy is a biologist at the Smithsonian National Zoo, so I have this silly daydream in my head.  This summer, I pack up my four kids and drive 13 hours to DC.  There, Nancy gives us behind the scenes tours of the zoo and other amazing places like the National Museum of Natural History.  It’ll be seamless and memorable.


    But for now I’ll just look over this blurry picture of The Washington Monument, which I snapped in the car on the way to the airport.  This trip wasn’t for sight-seeing, though.  It was for seeing that amazing baby, making food for new parents, late night chats, early morning coffee and recapping the sleep everyone did or didn’t get, and connecting with people I love.




  • Chapter 105- Fox & Branch at Anodyne Coffee


    Last Sunday, Little T had a special at home date with Theo, and I took the other three kids to see Fox & Branch at Anodyne Coffee in Walker’s Point.  The band plays a free show at 11am about once a month, and I’d been meaning to get to one for a while.  And it was really fun!  If you like a million kids, good coffee, and good music.


    The music is sort of a bluegrass version of kid-friendly favorites.  There’s a lot of silliness and banjo and washboard sounds, audience participation, and dancing of course.  At one point, Little A couldn’t figure out why Mr. Fox was so silly and kept singing the wrong words to the ABCs, which was ridiculously cute.


    J got my camera and wanted to take a picture of me, Little A, Baby S dancing.  If you look closely, you can see our feet on the left side of the pic above.


    Kids needed fuel at some point in the morning, so we munched on Rocket Baby Bakery danishes and fizzy water.  Yum!


    Oh, and Baby S showed me that she can drink out of a regular cup.  Who knew!?


    We danced some more and if I could figure out how to edit the video, I’d show you the partner dancing above that ended in a pile of kids on top of the adults sitting next to us.  Luckily everyone was totally cool with things getting a little crazy.


    The guys of Fox & Branch gave us cool stickers, and we can’t wait to go again.  Thanks for a great show Anodyne and Fox & Branch!

    -A. Storm

  • Chapter 104- Studio Session at Radio Milwaukee with Bahamas


    So you all know my trusty go-to radio station, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, right?  Well because I’m a member, I got invited to their Frostbite Series (a bunch of bands played studio sessions for the station).  I RSVP’d to go see Bahamas.  Not that I knew much about them besides this song, which you have definitely heard and loved I’m sure.


    Anyway, I showed up, got myself a Louie’s Demise over at Stone Creek Coffee (because it was too late in the day for coffee, but not too early for a beer), and sat down in the front row.  While I looked around at the entire audience who was on their phones, I sipped my beer and wondered how awkward I’d look taking photos for the blog.  Lucikly, DJ Kallao was sneaking around taking shots so I wasn’t alone.

    And here’s the thing about live music…it’s the best.  Every time I see a show, I wonder why I don’t make it out to see more music (but then I remember how many young children I have).  After this studio session, and only four songs, I’m officially a Bahamas fan.  If you’re curious, Afie is the dude on guitar, and he is Bahamas.

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    After the show, I asked for a photo and said something really awkward as per usual.  I also tried to buy an LP but they only took cash and I was out of luck.  So AFIE, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, feel free to contact me for my home address where you can send a signed album.


    After the show, I got a tour from the lovely Becca, Development & Market Coordinator, and a bunch of us listeners walked around admiring the building.

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    We even got a chance to step inside the recording booth where Marcus Doucette and Kallao were doing their thing.  I had to introduce myself to Marcus because I’ve won tickets from him twice in the past few years, which is pretty awesome.  Because, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at Turner Hall in like 2011.  Anyone else witness that musical orgy?


    Back to the tour.  It’s a pretty interesting building, with lots to admire.  Like records for days.


    And bottle caps for backsplashes.


    And old wood pallets for CD shelves.


    And a rooftop for viewing the city and having parties and checking out the green space.


    And having a nice gentleman take a new profile pic for me.  While on the tour, Producer Nate Imig walked past us and I missed an opportunity to give him some feedback and praise.  Because the community stories that he puts together at 88Nine are the reason I started listening to the station, and I get so many ideas for adventures from there.  I really appreciate the work 88Nine is doing, and the efforts to get people involved in their community.  So here’s my virtual handshake, Nate.  Thanks for passing on the stories of our city!

    Thanks Bahamas and Radio Milwaukee for a great afternoon!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 103- Asian Market Phongsavan


    Today I was feeling adventurous, and met my friend Kate to get pho at Milwaukee’s Asian Market Phongsavan.  I say adventurous because it was sort of a hike to get there, we were in a serious time crunch with naps quickly approaching, and I had no idea if my kids would actually eat pho.

    I’m going to give you instructions, in case you want to check out this authentic spot.  Above is the view from the street, it’s just off of 76th near a CVS in a pretty much unmarked building.  Look for lots of cars parked in the parking lot and on the street.


    Go in this door.  And shut it behind you.


    Make your way down the main aisle, go through to the next section of the building, and when it ends, the pho restaurant will be on your right.


    We ordered at the counter from a nice gentleman who asked if we wanted regular or special soup (he said the latter contains pork).  The menu was fairly basic and didn’t give options for different meats/meatless versions of the soup, so I just said “I’ll have what she’s having” and added an order of fried rice for the kids, because they had all declared on the drive to the restaurant that they don’t like soup.


    And this was our lunch bunch (minus a picture of the beautiful Kate).  I spotted a counter opposite the restaurant’s counter, and went over to get some rice cake things and some bread for the kids.


    When I got back to the table, our food was being served.  We quickly made up plates, because eating lunch with a 5 year old, a triplet of three year olds, and a one year old pretty much equals a race to eat as fast as possible before things get messy.  My soup was delicious.  Kate’s vote is that this is the best pho in town, but I’m going to reserve that title for my ranking.  In all honesty, I’m sort of freaked out by meat.  I really only eat vegetable/tofu pho (though I know the broth isn’t vegetarian), and was brave about but not a huge fan of the tripe (insert wide-eyed emoji).


    All of my kids loved the fried rice, two of them liked the broth of my soup, and everyone liked the noodles I fished out of my soup for them.  Little A was very interested in the jalapeños, which I had stated were very spicy.  She then asked Kate, “do you like your…howtotrainyourdragons?”.  Hilarious that “jalapeño” was translated into a DreamWorks movie.  But if you say the pepper’s name in conjunction with the movie title, you’ll realize she wasn’t that far off.


    Baby S enjoyed the noodles immensely, and when she ran out of them she filled her time by sticking a chopstick in my water.


    Our friend A chose the much-coveted green sticky rice ball thing.  And you can imagine his disappointment when it dropped on the ground.  Poor guy.


    But then this happened!

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    On our way out, we stopped to look at some of the produce.


    Even though we didn’t speak the same language, the ladies behind the stand helped me discover the rambutan fruit.  I’d never seen or heard of it, and one woman opened one up for me and the twins to try.


    Here’s a picture of the inside of the fruit.  You basically just peel off the spiny skin, and are left with a soft white fruit.  Its texture was similar to a pear, and the flavor was mild and sweet.

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    After sharing and then purchasing some rambutan, we headed to look at some of the clothing, jewelry, medicinal goods, and much much more.

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    It was nice to be in such an out-of-the-ordinary place (for me, anyway).  When I asked Little A what she thought, she said “it’s so…different!  I like it!”.

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    On our way out, a fellow toddler waved constantly and shouted “good bye!!!” in the sweetest way ever, and we made the mistake of looking at toys.  There are many, many toys for sale there.  And right after the display of toy guns and babies in strollers, we had a meltdown that we didn’t buy any toys.


    We had a great lunch, and thanks for my lady Kate for introducing me to this gem.  We’ll be back for sure.  I know they have much more on the menu than pho and rice, so we’ll have to get more adventurous and give the various items a shot.

    Here are few more links with information about the spot, maybe we’ll see you there someday!

    A . Storm




  • Chapter 102- Mitchell Park Domes & Schlitz Audubon Nature Center


    Last Friday, my dear friend came into town from Madison with her girls.  Since The Domes were a staple when my friend lived here, we didn’t even consider where else to meet!  Oh, and Little T, if you’re reading this in the future, I’m sorry you couldn’t come and see your friends.  Darn school!


    Ok, back to the domes.  The kids chose to visit the desert dome first and proceeded to explore in the fastest setting.  It’s REALLY hard to keep 5 mobile kids from running.

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    There were lots of hugs and lots of hand-holding.

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    And posing for adorable pictures!


    Next, we went to the tropical dome for some rainforest action.  And while we were throwing pennies in the pond and making wishes, Baby S got doused with some water.  An employee was watering the plants above us and didn’t see where the hose was pointed, resulting in a wet and slightly pissed baby.

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    We made a quick stop at the show dome to see the trains, because it was super crowded and the kids needed a snack.  We left shortly after, to pick up Little T from school and head to our SECOND ADVENTURE OF THE DAY!  My kids honestly spent a month inside our house this winter, watching cartoons and growing soft.  So even though it was fairly chilly and I forgot to bring snow pants, we headed to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center to eat lunch and take a hike.


    Mystery Pond was frozen over (I know it was that day, but to be safe, PLEASE always check with staff inside the building) so we did some boot-skating and animal tracking.

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    And general exploring.  And finding snail shells.

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    We tried for a family photo and came up with these two.  Nobody looking at the camera in the first, and and extra kid in the second one.  He’s cute, though, so we’ll take him.

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    My friend Margo and her kids did a much better job of posting.


    Little T and Little A had a great time smashing and moving and eating ice chunks.

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    The day was a success (well not in terms of how tired I was by dinner time), and even though we practically skipped nap, it was worth it.  The memberships to both The Domes and SANC are well worth it in my opinion, or you could always go to The Domes on Monday mornings, when it’s free for Milwaukee County residents.  But SANC has a ton of land to explore, even in the winter.  You can hike down to the lake to see the ice-canoes, check out the reptiles and rodents in the lobby, search for animals in the trees, enjoy the view from the observation tower, and more.

    Hope everyone has a great weekend coming up!

    A . Storm

  • Chapter 101- Play Date With Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum


    Since we spent a month doing such exciting things as coloring on boxes, wearing finger puppets on our toes, and taking pictures of Rescue Bots, it’s been pretty quiet around here.

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    The Storm house was hit hard with the flu among other awesomeness, and there was literally a full week where we didn’t leave the house.  However, the girls got Frozen dresses which lightened the mood considerably as it facilitated some serious dancing.


    But then…people got better!  We took our opportunity to adventure and it happened to be on a day that the MAM offered Play Date with Art.


    Half the reason we went to the art museum was because it was a below zero day (no school for Little T) and they have a heated parking lot.  PLUS, members get to park for free during the month of January and May.  Check out the benefits you can take advantage of while the museum is under construction.  Anyway…we stopped at our favorite white wall to take a photo, then headed upstairs to the lobby for art and music!


    The project was to create a landscape picture, and the kids jumped right in with their friends and started coloring, cutting and pasting.


    And thanks to Sesame Street, this dude picked up a piece of paper and said “Mama, is this a hexagon?”.   Why yes it is!


    Bigger kids in our group used oil pastels and glued frames on their pictures, while the littler kids dabbled in that project and ended up on the ground with crayons in some sort of twin coloring train.

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    After the kids showed off their artwork, we sat down for some music and marching.  We got to use instruments and sing and dance/march around the lobby.

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    And we also did some interpretive dance/mild wrestling, or whatever’s going on in the picture above.


    My friend Margo snapped a shot of me and all my kids for posterity.  Because as you can tell, it’s pretty hard to get all of them together and looking at the camera smiling, so any shot where we’re all in the frame is amazing.


    When the play date wrapped up, we set up shop in the cafe to eat our PB&Js, string cheese and fruit.  Lunch bunch, yo!


    So from us to you, we hope you had a great holiday season.  And if you didn’t, we feel ya.  But whenever time and health are on your side, there’s always an adventure waiting to be had.

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 100- Drink & Ink at Bay View Printing Co.


    More from adventures in letterpress!  After my trip up to Two Rivers, I discovered that right here in Milwaukee, there are folks here just as excited about letterpress.  Bay View Printing Company is a full-service print shop, with dedication to community workshops and spreading the love of this craft.  They offer Thursday night Drink & Ink classes, one of which I attended last night.

    And while I have your attention, I want to tell you how fun the class was.  How I met some great people, and how you should get involved.  If you can’t attend a class, watch this short video about Bay View Printing Co’s Indegogo campaign.  They’re raising funds to expand the workshops, update the building, make things more accessible, and share printing opportunities with community members and artists alike.  Donate if you can, and spread the love!


    I called up my friend Shannon yesterday morning and asked if she could come with me.  She said yes, I picked up a 6 pack of beer (my friends over at Central Waters Brewing Co. make some delicious stout, y’all), and we made our way to Bay View.  Shannon hadn’t done any printing before, but came away with one killer poster.  Above, she’d already set and locked up the blocks, and was inking them in green and black.


    Here, Shannon is rolling over the blocks with the help of the lovely Ashley Town.  Ashley is a super talented lady, who took on this great project of owning a print shop.  Ashely had been working as a designer with the previous owner, Jim Baker, and eventually learned all about the machines and processes of printing.  And only about 6 months ago, Jim retired and with nobody to take over the business, it would have closed for good.  But Ashely stepped in and took over, and how she’s dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the machines, preserving its history, as well as making the art form available for others to practice.


    And now folks like Shannon get to make beautiful posters like this!

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    While Shannon and Scottie, the other attendee at the class, worked on their projects, I browsed around taking a few photos of the incredible machinery and tools.  Bay View Printing Co. even has a working Linotype machine!  One of less than a dozen in the Midwest.  Below is the scrap metal, just waiting to be melted into new type.

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    I’m not going to show you what I made, because I don’t want to blow a Christmas present surprise.  Which is REALLY hard for me.  You got a surprise for someone?  Well don’t tell me.  In what has become a fairly descriptive story about me as a child, I was telling my family what the first letter of their presents started with.  And because I was a kid, I asked “does purse start with a P?”.


    Here, Scottie and Ashely are setting his poster, which turned out really well, too!

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    Upstairs, we got to chat about the night, view others’ work, and talk about how we’ll see each other again soon because it was such a good night.


    Thanks to Ashley for offering such a fun and accessible way to print, and here’s hoping you reach the fundraising goal!  It ends in just a few days, so to everyone reading, don’t wait until the new year to watch the video and make a contribution.

    Enjoy the weekend, all.

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 99- Colectivo’s Gospel Brunch (Plus a totally unrelated giveaway!)


    Last month, I finally made it to the Colectivo on Farwell for their Gospel Brunch, which supports Progressive Community Health Centers.   I packed up my kids and met a friend, and the dancing immediately commenced.  It was a great way to spend our morning!

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    My kids made a new friend, ate some delicious baked goods, listened to gospel, and had a blast.

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    And we danced our way out of the building.  A pretty straight-forward “listen to beautiful music and move around” morning.  One I’m hoping to recreate at the next opportunity!

    Remember the totally unrelated giveaway I mentioned?  Well here it is.  I have a copy of A Mom’s Guide to Milwaukee by Calie Herbst of MiltownMoms.  It’s my Christmas present to you!  If you’re looking for a current list of things to do and places to go in Milwaukee, leave a comment below.  I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday December 16th.  To get another entry, make sure you subscribe (just enter your email address to the right in the “subscribe” box).

    Have a great weekend, all!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 98- Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (Travel Edition)


    St. Nick brought a toy for the kids, and a Jack White LP for Theo, but I made out on top this year.  Yesterday, I drove up to Two Rivers and attended a workshop at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.  If you don’t read anything else in this post, just know that you should go there and get a tour of the museum.  My mind was blown by the history of print.  In a few words: the collection they have is expansive, the process was revolutionary in its day, machines were complex beyond my own comprehension, artists perform a deliberate craft, and the museum is doing an amazing job of preserving the history.

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    Assistant Director Stephanie Carpenter gave us a tour of the building, and imparted such an incredible amount of interesting knowledge to me and the other 8 workshop participants.  I can’t summarize all the information about how the wood type is made, but there are so many steps and machines which I’d never heard of before.  Read this to learn about the manufacturers, the pantograph (which people are still using in the facility!) the history, and more.  Also watch this short video to get a feel for the people and the passion at the museum.  They even have a few Linotype machines in the building.


    The museum used to be in the Hamilton factory, just up the road, but re-opened in its current location just over a year ago.  The space is open and well-maintained, with a large amount of machines, wood type, and posters to view.  Also, the museum shop has LOTS Of beautiful prints, posters, cards, clothes and other gifts to browse.

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    Stephanie told us a story behind this poster of the Lushootseed alphabet.  I might botch it, but at one point in the state of Washington, the Tulalip Tribe only had two native speakers of their language.  In language camp, wood type was used to help people learn the language through a tactile way, hopefully enhancing the learning process.

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    Posters line lots of the walls, and this one reminded me of the John Prine song “Angel from Montgomery”.

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    Jim Moran, Museum Director, joined us in the workshop to show us the steps of printing.  I absolutely love the process.  It requires planning, paying attention, keeping your station neat, and being ok with making mistakes.  We had access to pieces of type that were over 100 years old, so we understood the importance of taking care of the equipment.


    I had grand plans to make our holiday cards, but found posters much more inspiring and fun to create.  I messed up a whole lot, and didn’t have time to look through all the (millions of pieces of ) wood type, but came away with a greater knowledge AND desire to come back!



    I also made a poster for my dear friend Nancy’s husband’s band, ROM.  There, Nan.  I blew the secret.  This should be in your mailbox soon!



    A lovely lady named Carol did this poster pictured below.  You can see in the above photo where she’s locking up the stars to lay over the “joy” and “peace” she’d already printed.  A great end product!



    The guys at ArcInt Architecture and I swapped posters, which was one of the highlights for me.  The setup of the workshop facilitated working on your own (which is awesome because even though I love being around people, I also love to be alone) with the opportunity to connect with other people with similar interests.  As it turns out, I’m neighbors with one of the architects, and their office is near the Menominee Valley Branch of the Urban Ecology Center, which I’ve been meaning to visit since it opened.


    In all, it was a wonderful day.  Totally worth the drive from Milwaukee, and I’d recommend taking a trip to anyone.  I’d also suggest getting a tour, because the vast amount of history that the museum is preserving is simply fascinating.  It really makes me think about the change our world has seen, even in the past 100 years.

    And one of the best parts of my day…I got 3 hours in a car by myself.  Without the Frozen soundtrack playing, or kids fighting, or anyone screaming because their sock is on the wrong way/their pants won’t tuck into their boots correctly/their seatbelt JUST IS NOT COMFABLE.


    Just me and my thoughts.  Oh, and the view in Two Rivers/Manitowoc is incredible.

    Peace to everyone,

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 96- Schlitz Audubon Nature Center


    Because life happens to be particularly crazy right now, I’m finally getting to post about a trip to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center from about a month ago.  We’ll pretend I’m posting pictures of warmer weather on purpose, to get us through the next few days, ok?


    I had been talking with a friend about October’s solar eclipse, and decided to get my kids out to the nature center to see it (no, we weren’t going to look at it, I had cardboard with holes cut out to make my kids’ names and everything).  Unfortunately, I had the date wrong, and we were there with all of our crap a day early.  BUT!  We still got to run around with a million other kids outside!  So no loss at all, really.


    We met up with some new and some old friends, and the kids quickly made a pretend fire and passed out marshmallows (leaves).  Delicious.


    And then they quickly jumped the fence and trotted around in poison ivy.  My friend Brooke came to their rescue.


    I noticed that some of us take fashion pretty seriously, even for outdoor hikes.


    Because it was an after-school-but-before-dinner adventure, we really only hung out for an hour or so.  It was enough time for the youngest of the bunch to ace her walking skills, eat some leaves, and for the bigger kids to play with sticks, and for the adults to start but never finish a conversation.  Which is pretty standard for any hangout with this many children.


    Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is a really awesome place to be.  I’ve written about it a lot before, because we have a great time every time we are there.  And weather doesn’t have to be balmy to visit.  Snap on some snowshoes and hit the trails this winter, or attend any of the indoor events throughout the cold weather.  There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of fun to be had!

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    Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  Peace to everyone,

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 95- First Aid Kit at Lakeland College


    I’m still on could nine from Friday night, guys.  The stars aligned, and I got in to First Aid Kit‘s sold-out show at Lakeland College!  For those of you who don’t know, FAK is a sister duo from Sweden, and they play some damn fine folk/Americana music.


    I let my husband be my +1, and late Friday afternoon, we drove up to Sheboygan to eat at The Duke of Devon (I highly recommend it).  We had AN HOUR of uninterrupted time to talk.  WHAT?!  I haven’t been able to finish a conversation with my husband in like 5 years without having to get someone another glass of milk/change a diaper/break up a fight/keep the baby from playing with the silverware in the dishwasher.  It was magical.


    When we got to Lakeland College, I’m not going to lie…I wondered what First Aid Kit was doing in the middle of nowhere.  They’re pretty big.  I mean, they toured with Jack White!   And Plymouth seemed like an odd destination for their show.  But Lakeland had a beautiful campus (at least it appeared so in the dark) and the concert hall was great.  Plus the people that work there are awesome (shout out to David for getting Little T’s picture to the ladies of the band, more on that in a minute).


    But some high points from the show:

    -Samantha Crain opened and she’s a really wonderful singer/songwriter.  Please check her out.

    -Johanna’s amazing hair flipping/head banging to The Lion’s Roar was a killer way to start out the show.

    -Klara and Johanna unplugged and sang Ghost Town without mics.  Because we were like 10 feet away from them, it felt like they were pouring their hearts out to share the beauty of song in a really a personal way.

    -They sang Jack White’s Love Interruption.  Like, whoa.

    -For the encore, Samantha Crain joined in and they sang Waiter at the Station.  I was moved by the sound of three women, singing their hearts out and giving my ears some delicious harmonies to eat up.


    And also, a moment I saw.  First Aid Kit was singing Emmylou, one of their most popular songs.  I peeked over to the front row of the audience, and there I saw the most special love between a mother and daughter.  The daughter was maybe 13, and was singing every word out loud.  Mom was standing behind with her arms wrapped around her daughter, and every now and then she would stroke her daughter’s hair or give her a squeeze.  She couldn’t help it.  I know the feeling, when you’re just so in love with your amazing kid and you want to eat them up.  The mom and daughter were only a few feet away from Johanna and Klara, and I swear the moment was tangible.


    Afterwards, we hung out in the lobby and ran into some friends, and got our pictured taken with the beautiful Samantha Crain!

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    So from me, Theo, and some dude behind us, thanks First Aid Kit and Lakeland College for a wonderful night.  Little T asked me to help her make a picture for the band, which you can see on their Instagram page.  The back of the card says such cute things as “maybe you could come over and sing for us, your guitars are pretty cool, and maybe I could show you my Dr. DooLittle record [which has been on heavy rotation on our record player for at least a year…ugh]”.

    And thanks to Uncle Wow and Auntie Brave for babysitting and letting this night happen!


    A. Storm



  • Chapter 94 – Dia de los Muertos Parade


    A few weeks ago, on a cold Saturday, I took the kids to see the Dia de los Muertos Parade at Walker’s Square Park.  I had forgotten that last year, Theo took the twins and Little T to it, while I stayed home with baby S who was just a few days old.  From what I gather, it was just as cold this year, but less rainy than last.


    We arrived after the parade had wrapped up, but I heard from friends who were on an opposite schedule that the parade was great.  By the time the Storm clan got there, a drum circle had formed with a huge crowd around it.  My kids were totally enthralled by the face paint, woman on stilts, and loud music.  Soon after, the Mexica/Aztec Danzas came out and the crowd made room in the center.


    I had the stroller with me, so we had a hard time getting a good spot to watch, but luckily Little T was super brave and independent and took her younger sister to the front row (sort of within my sight).  Little T LOVED it all, but Little A was wary about the costumes and face paint.

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    After the dancing, there was a vigil for peace.  Community members got up to speak about uniting our community, supporting each other, and standing up for peace.  It was really meaningful to see so many different people get up and talk about the same message.  Unfortunately the kids were freezing and didn’t really understand everything, so their request for the playground guided our next move.


    Here’s a pic of all four.  J had hit his limit and crashed in the stroller while we headed to the playground.  It was packed!  Lots of big and little kids climbing, running, sliding, and helping the littler kids out.

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    We snacked on some fries from a food truck, warmed our hands by a portable fire pit, and headed home.  I had meant to have the conversation about what Dia de los Muertos celebrates, but it was really difficult while managing four little kids.  I’m already looking forward to next year, and helping the kids understand the holiday…oh, and getting to this event in time for the parade.

    Hope you’re all staying warm out there!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 93- Milwaukee Art Museum’s Playdate with Art


    Milwaukee Art Museum‘s Playdates with Art are back on the calendar, and we met up with our new friends of Ana & Zelli last month.


    Little T’s school schedule got in the way, so we only got to hang out for an hour at the museum.  And as it turns out, an hour is not enough time to get to know a new person, guide your twin two-year-olds through an art project, and keep your baby from putting scissors in her mouth and bonking her head on the marble floor.


    To add to the business of the morning, I happened to run into two friends and two MAM employees who we really enjoy.  Our MAM friend Jim chatted with us about the summer (Play Dates with Art don’t happen during the summer, and we didn’t make it to the museum much when it was nice out) and how big the kids have gotten since we last saw each other.  And Shannon, who works specifically with the Education/Kids/Family programs, told us about the new and exciting changes (the art studio is now open during the week AND has moved near the lobby!  Stop by the studio behind the Chihuly piece).

    And while we’re on the topic, you should know that the museum is under some major construction/renovation/remodeling.   Click here to see what’s still open and what’s closed until next year.

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    The project was really cool, and I was surprised how eagerly Little A wanted to roll ink on to her roller and make the feather print all by herself.   Now that I write that, though, I have no idea why I was surprised she wanted to do something ALL BY HERSELF.  We made prints of feathers on some fabric, and then cut our the feathers and attached them to elastic to create wings.  Because of the limited time and large quantity of small children in my group, I more or less assembled the wings for the twins before we heard the guitar beckoning our names.


    Music time started and we made our way to grab some instruments, sing some songs, and dance around.

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    And before I knew it, we had to leave to get Little T from school.


    We’re looking forward to coming back for more MAM events, and seeing more friends while we meet new ones.  Our trips to the MAM will change a bit while it’s under construction, but there’s still plenty for us to do while we wait.

    Stay warm, folks!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 92- Pajama Jamboree with Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony


    Are you familiar with free symphony concerts for families?  Well you should be, because they’re awesome.  Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony has Pajama Jamborees, which are amazing opportunities to get your pjs on, grab blankies, and listen to some great music and hear stories and learn about instruments.


    I took the big kids on a feshil mama date, and they were stoked to do something only “big” kids could do (because yeah, a 2 year old is a big kid).  We arrived just as the concert was starting and still found a small space in the back to set up shop.

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    We were introduced to the night’s program of Peter and the Wolf, but stood to sing the national anthem first.  And a little secret about me…I get choked up singing it.  I’m not an overly patriotic person, but something about a group of people singing together makes my heart swell.  And as I had my hand across my heart, I looked down at my kids who were in awe with the communal song, I had to fight to hold in a few tears.


    I composed myself, and by that time a few of our friends arrived.  We spent the next hour enthralled with music, narration, and high school actors playing out the story of Peter and the Wolf.

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    Afterwards, we hung out for just a minute and gave hugs and climbed on things were probably not supposed to climb, and then made our way to the parking ramp.

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    And the skywalk was a huge hit among my three kids in footed pjs and no shoes.


    On the way home, Little T was holding my camera, and I gave her the ok to snap some photos.  Here are my favorites from the evening:

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    There’s another concert scheduled for December 10th, and then another in the spring.  Check out this really wonderful offering if you can!

    A. Storm

  • Chapter 91- Estabrook Beer Garden for a Birthday Party!


    For this little lady’s birthday, we did absolutely zero planning and had a blast.  Here were the ingredients: friends and family, pizza, a playground, beer, and my mother-in-law’s carrot cake recipe.


    Because a place where you can drink a beer while pushing your kids on the swing is alright with us, we met at Estabrook Beer Garden.  The weather was agreeable (in Wisconsin terms anyway) and there was enough light for us to stuff our faces with pizza before the sun went down.

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    It was a weekday night with cold weather, and dark by the time we ate food, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  We did rotations between the playground and beer garden, generally keeping track of everyone.  Not that there was any reason for kids to wander…they had pizza and friends and cousins and adults and a playground all within feet.  The kids played in the rocks and we had foot races.  The pictures below are evidence (blurry spots are people whizzing by).

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    We sang happy birthday to Baby S (and Uncle Wow, who shares a birthday!) and passed out the cake.  And also, I didn’t think through the fact that the baby hadn’t really had sugar before, and bedtime for her was NOT awesome.

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    We rounded out the evening with clinking glasses and rounding up kids who were nearing bedtime.  Little T, clad in her new favorite princess dress, wiped up her own tears from falling on the concrete and helped her baby sister walk to the car.  It was a perfect night.

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 90- Doyne Park Cyclocross Race


    You’ve seen my posts about Cyclocross before, so I’ll refrain from explaining the sport again and just go straight to the good stuff.


    I headed out with Little T to watch my brother and some of his buddies (all donning new Stone Creek Coffee gear) at Doyne park.  I’d never been to the park before, because it’s tucked away off of Wells St. in Wauwatosa, fairly hidden from main roads.  There was a soccer field, playground, basketball court, and golf course, all along the Oak Leaf Trail for easy bike access.


    Racers made their way throughout the park, up a fairly steep hill, over some fences, and through some wet/muddy grass.

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    I didn’t get any shots of folks taking spills, because I felt like that would be kind of bad etiquette.  Although, after a spectator yelled at a racer who had just fallen off his bike “come on Dave!  Get off the ground, man!  You’re supposed to stay ON your bike!  “, the guy turned to me and noted how great of an atmosphere Cyclocross creates for heckling.

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    After the race, everyone hung out and caught up with their families, talked about the next race, and washed off their bikes.

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    Little T enjoyed seeing her uncle race, and running through wet grass and cheering on racers.  There’s still time left in the season if you want to watch one of these races.   Check out the schedule, bundle up and head to the course.  Park yourself near an obstacle or on a hill where you’ll see racers pass by a few times, and bring obnoxious bells or horns to cheer them on.

    Hope you’re all enjoying this nice mild weather in Wisconsin!

    A. Storm


  • Chapter 89- Hubbard Park Beer Garden (in two parts)


    Last week, we went to Hubbard Park twice and had a blast both times.   On our first adventure, we met some friends and friends of friends on a weekday and threw rocks in the water, played in mud, and watched the salmon swim up stream.


    Since it’s the end of the beer garden season, we went on a day that no beer was being served.  No matter, though, because we kept ourselves very busy with new and old friends.


    And mud.  Did I mention mud?

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    The biggest kid in our group was brave (and tall) enough to wade out to the middle of the river to check out the mysterious things we saw jumping and floundering in the river.  Our initial guesses were: a duck trapped by a rock, an otter, a beaver, and finally it was confirmed that it was just a GIANT fish swimming up stream.

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    And speaking of fish going upstream, after our weekday adventure, we came back on Saturday for the Fish & Feather Festival.


    There was live music, beer a plenty, and tables, activities and booths by The Urban Ecology Center, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Riveredge Nature Center, Trout Unlimited, and music by Sigmond Snopek (some of the most unique music I’ve heard in a while).

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    Baby S enjoyed the celery that came with my bloody mary (I didn’t know I could get one at a beer garden!  I tried one, and then switched to an Oktoberfest beer, which suited the afternoon much better).


    The kids got a pretty much hands-on viewing of a turtle from Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, and had lots to say about the turtle’s diet of worms (which they got to see in action).

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    We all had a pretty good time horsing around and rolling down hills and painting pumpkins and snacking on pretzels.


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    And while uploading these photos, I realized I could dedicate a specific space to Baby S making this smiling face.

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    The river was a great source of fun for the kids, and we did a great job of getting as wet and dirty as possible.

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    Kayakers were on the river, and the kids were exited to say hi and wave to such a fun sight!

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    We had cuddles in spades that day.

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    In all, we had two wonderful trips to Hubbard Park.  The folks at the beer garden were friendly, we got to be outside and play, and now that fish fry season is coming up, we’ll have another reason to head back to Hubbard Lodge.

    Hope you’re all enjoying the fall weather, and a beer to go with it 😉

    A. Storm





  • Chapter 88- NEWaukee Night Market


    What are you doing tonight night, people?  You should work in NEWaukee’s Night Market (open from 5-10pm, and final of the season!).  Last month I went to September’s market, and had a great time.  Here’s my recap:


    My friend Kate and I arrived like 30 minutes before it shut down for the evening, but quickly ran into people we knew.  I stopped to talk with Christina Ward of Kick Out The Jams (also a contributor to Edible Milwaukee) left with a jar of grape pie filling.  What is grape pie filling, you ask?  Wait till the bottom of this post to find out.

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    Kate and friends and I walked around a little and met Michael and Laurie from Hometown Established: A General Store.  They have a newer business in the Third Ward, and sell some really delicious/hip/local/pretty/good-smelling products.  Check them out here and here!

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    We found our way to the Cedar Teeth booth, where we sampled some delicious pizza and chatted with Hannah Roland (owner and pizza maker extrodinaire).  We tasted a smashed potato pizza as well as a delicious sweet apple one.  Read Molly Snyder’s review for a professional’s point of view.  And if you can, check out their food, which you can find at Beans & Barley, Groppi’s and a few other locations around town.


    And because there’s a dancer inside of me that wants someday to get out, I quickly scarfed down my pizza in order to get to the dance party a few booths away.  And because of said need to dance, I enlisted a (very awesome) woman I had just met to join me in the middle of the dance mob.  Two DJs were spinning and I heard the likes of Lauryn Hill and Notorious B.I.G.  For a moment I didn’t feel 34 with four children at home.


    Soon after, the market closed up shop and Kate took me to the butcher shop pictured below.


    Then we walked around back to this alley.


    And made our way into a bar behind that butcher shop.  And that’s all I’ll say about the rest of the night!


    Ok, back to the grape pie filling.  Christina’s instructions included a package of Nutter Butters and an oven.  I did my best, but you guys, I’m NOT a baker.  While the color was incredible, the end product wasn’t quite as pretty.


    I didn’t bake it long enough, but pulled it out of the oven because I had to leave the house.  And then the next day when I was going to serve it to my family, I put it back in the oven because the filling was still jiggly.  I’m told that’s not traditionally how you bake a pie…baking it, then cooling it in the fridge overnight, then baking it again.  It’s no wonder that my family was politely uninterested in my creation.


    Next time I’ll do your creations justice, Christina, next time.  Or I’ll just stick to one of the many options that require no preparation other than putting it on a cracker.

    So anyway, check out Christina at a market near you.  And head to the Night Market tonight.  And keep exploring!

    A. Storm



  • Chapter 87- Mitchell Boulevard Park & Story Hill BKC


    Because life is busy and I can’t manage to get my kids out of the house as often as I’d like, I made myself fit in a park/picnic date yesterday.  We found ourselves at the Mitchell Boulevard Park with hummus and cheese sandwiches on a sunny and breezy day.  The picture above is for my mother-in-law, as she pointed out to me recently that in most photos of Little A, neither of her feet are touching the ground.

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    The kids ate lunch and practiced the art of hopping on one foot while eating yogurt and holding hands.  I must say they got pretty good at it!

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    They had enough open swings for everyone who wanted to swing (rarely happens with four kids) and we promptly got everyone going as high as they could go.  I should mention that the building behind the kids is Central Greens, a place I’ve been wanting to check out for a while.  Has anyone out there done so yet?

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    Because nobody fought or peed in their pants or threw a temper tantrum, we got a special treat.  We walked across the street to Story Hill BKC to get some hot chocolate.


    (And stopped to roll down a hill on the way of course)

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    Once we got to the restaurant, I chatted with the girl behind the counter about hot chocolate prices.  She was gracious enough to work out splitting up one drink into three cups, because all I had was the change in my car.  What?  Me forget my wallet?  Never.

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    We walked back to the park to sit in the grass and enjoy (spill) our drinks.


    And then back to the playground!  Little T was perfecting her big sister skillz by taking Baby S down the slide.  I’m pretty sure they enjoyed it.  And yes, if it were my first (or second or third) kid, I probably wouldn’t have been all “sure, take the baby down a slide and I won’t even catch you guys at the bottom, I’ll just take pictures and assume you’ll be ok”.   And they were.

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    J made me some pickles and hot dogs and charged me $100.  I refused to pay $100 so we settled on $5.


    And while I was eating my imaginary pickles, Baby S decided she’s over being a baby and tried to climb up the play structure.

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    It was a great park with lots of open space to run.  Bathrooms were open and clean, and it’s proximity to hot chocolate will probably keep my kids asking to go back.

    And as a side, I’m eating breakfast at Story Hill BKC right now.  And yes I’m paying a babysitter to watch my kids while I go out for breakfast.  I had some delicious egg and green chili meal, and am enjoying the coffee I gave up for good last week.  Anyway, the food is good AND you can buy growlers of beer to go.  So yeah, pretty much a great place.

    A. Storm