Almost three years after Anna’s family moved to Milwaukee, we finally had our first day in Milwaukee Downtown!
The reason for my travel was Nadia’s first recital, but the whole day was amazing!
I used the Milwaukee streetcar for the first time. These streetcars look a lot like trams in Helsinki; even the buttons which open the doors look the same!

They are nice and clean, and they are free!

Robert Burns monument


I liked the recital; it reminded me of the ones Anna’s piano teacher had, where the students of all different skill levels had a chance to participate. Nadia did great, and I think listening to more advanced students perform inspired her.

Milwaukee Conservatory

And then, I finally visited the Milwaukee Art museum. Many people toladme how awesome this museum is. My neighbor sometimes goes to Milwaukee just to see a new exhibit.

FInally, I made it there! The building architecture is breathtaking! Lots of interesting exhibits, and they have an educational center, too!

Thaitian Art
Still need to figure this out – see description below
leaving the Art Museum after closing

While we were at the Art Museum, I received a notification on my Amtrak app, that my train was canceled “due to equipment problems,” so I had to rebook for two hours later. On the bright side, we had dinner together 9and the girls seriously discussed the idea to go to Chicago with me :))

A Family Weekend

My girls were here over the weekend, and this time, nobody got sick (although somebody was coughing), and we did so many things together! We went to the Art Institute, did many art projects at home, drew with colored chalk in the courtyard, and biked!

Nadia stunned me by riding her bike for more than nine miles total! From my house to the Lakefront Trail, almost two more miles to the playground, and then back. I am telling you – an amazing kid!

Anna learned about refugees from me, and she managed to help them in so many ways that I can’t even describe, As I already mentioned, I do not want to talk a lot about this to protect people’s privacy, but just let me tell you – it has become a family project!

I am very sleep-deprived, but I won’t change anything about these past several days!

In Milwaukee

I didn’t miss the train and spent a day with my girls in Milwaukee. We went to the forest where Nadia had her Forest Camp and spent more than two hours walking around while Nadia showed us all the places where they’ve been. I was very happy to be in the forest – I do not have anything like this close to me anymore, and also it was a joy to listen to Nadia talking about her summer experience and to observe how she interacts with Kira.

Continue reading “In Milwaukee”

My Girls In Chicago

On Sunday, we had a short visit with our girls. Boris didn’t see them last time he was in Chicago, and before that, it was a very short visit, so I think he didn’t see them since December. It was good that they could make it.

I suggested that they go to the Crown Fountain first – It would be the first time for Kira, and Nadia didn’t go there since she was one year old. The girls loved it so much that if Anna would let them, they would splash there for the whole five hours they had :).

As I mentioned before, it was challenging to navigate the Loop on Sunday because it was the last day of Lollapolooza, but after a couple of unsuccessful trials, we found a place to have lunch with no line hanging outside the doors.

After lunch, we went to the Art Institute, and we even visited the Sezanne exhibit (although very briefly). I know Nadia would spend way more time there, but she won’t stay without Kira, and Kira has a way shorter attention span :). The rest of the time was spent in the Ryan Educational Center. This time, they offered several weaving projects, and Nadia stayed focused for the entire time and finished her piece.

A staff member helps to finish the weaving project

In Milwaukee

This weekend was a birthday weekend for my granddaughters. Since I had Friday off, I thought that I would go there for a long weekend, possibly leaving on Thursday evening. It was only later that I realized that that was the same weekend I had to leave for Europe (and early enough to work on Monday). Fortunately, due to the very convenient scheduling of the direct flight, I could still accommodate the whole project; I just had to leave Milwaukee on Saturday night instead of Sunday.

On Friday, I took the first Metra train from Rogers Park (at 5 AM) to take the first train to Milwaukee at 6 AM. It felt insane to get up that early, but it was the best decision – I had the whole Friday!

First Metra Train of the day

So Kira is now two, and Nadia is five, and I do not even know which of this more unbelievable! Or maybe it’s the fact that Anna is a mother of two:). Nadia and Kira are such different personalities, and both are just absolutely amazing. It feels wonderful to see them growing and their stories unfolding. Looking forward to many many years of this journey!

Some weekend pictures:

Breakfast with Anna upon arrival
Visiting Mitchel Park Domes
Visiting Mitchel Park Domes
Visiting Mitchel Park Domes
Walking along the river
Getting ready to the party


There was one more thing which Anna and I did on Saturday. Vlad made a reservation for us for a Hanami experience in his bar. I had no idea what it was, so I came completely mentally unprepared. Since the whole idea was to come to DC for the cherry blossom season, Vlad wanted us to have a complete experience. As you can see from the pictures, the bar was decorated to look like a cherry orchard.

We were presented with picnic baskets with traditional Japanese treats.

We were also offered several other drinks and later an ice cream and some oyster-like jelly sweets.

Later, Vlad explained to us that the music was purposefully set loud enough so that people could not talk to each other and would immerse themselves in the experience.

And here is an article which describes the whole experience in detail.

A Weekend With My Girls

On Saturday, we had another Chicago Adventures day. Anna, Nadia, and Kira came to Chicago for a day. I bought two tickets for “Peter and the Wolf” in CSO, and this time, I went with Nadia, and Anna and Kira explored the Art Institute while waiting for us.

The day started a little bit catastrophic. The CSO requires all unvaccinated patrons to show a recent COVID test. For PCR, it can be a day old, and for antigen, it has to be three hours before the show. Anna took Nadia for the test the day before, but the results were not ready by the evening (and neither did they come Saturday morning). Anna called the CSO guest service, and they assured her that there are several pharmacies very close to CSO, where they could get a COVID test right before the show. I was a bit skeptical, knowing that many places in the Loop are closed during the weekend, but there was not that much choice.

The train arrived on time, so we had an hour and a half before the show, and we started walking in the direction of the CSO. We didn’t see any opened pharmacies on the way, so we headed to the Walgreens closest to CSO. It was open, but we saw that the pharmacy itself was closed for the weekend when we came inside. That was concerning, but we still had both time and hope. I asked an associate where the closest Walgreens is to get a COVID test, and he said: two blocks North. It was in the opposite direction to the CSO, but at least we thought we would get it done. Nadia was doing great walking with almost no complaints.

When we reached this other Walgreens, it turned out that… yes, their pharmacy window was closed, too! We had no time to go anywhere else, so Anna bought an at-home test from Abbot’s Lab, installed the app on her phone, and we opened it right there on the pharmacy floor :). Anna swabbed Nadia’s nose and started the test. We didn’t have time to wait for the required fifteen minutes, so we started walking towards the CSO, and I was trying to hold the test horizontally :).
The test was ready just when we reached the CSO. It was not so easy to show the test results on the phone while the phone had to stay with Anna :), but we managed.

There was one very tall person in front of us, and we was leaning left to his three children – all the time!
Continue reading “A Weekend With My Girls”

In Milwaukee With Anna & Family

I spent most of the last weekend with Anna & family in Milwaukee. There was no special occasion, not big plans – we just wanted to get together. 

Also, after a long wait and anticipation, I was finally able to take Amtrak to Milwaukee. It’s tons better than it used to be taking the Van Galder bus to Madison! The ride is about 1.5 hours and very comfortable, with WiFi and electric plugs by every seat 🙂

The thing I enjoyed most was the water quality monitoring. Anna is involved with the Milwaukee Riverkeeper project, and she asked me whether I would like to go with her and Nadia to do the measurements. 

It was so interesting! She has a whole case of scientific instruments and chemical reagents and the instruction book from the program. The monitoring includes measuring the water temperature, transparency, oxygen level, and more. 

I enjoyed this experience on many levels: 1) it is super cool that volunteers can participate in a real scientific project, 2) it is so important for the environment 3) I enjoyed doing something important together with Anna and Nadia 4) I was in a forest preserve, which I really miss!

I need to figure out how to get out to nature even when I am in the city!

August 29, 2021

Everybody asks me about details of Vlad’s engagement, but I do not know what else I can say except for the pictures. Vlad told us a while ago that he will come back to Chicago at the end of August to celebrate his and Anna’s 30th birthday. The date for the party was set in July, and when I told Boris, he said that he would try to come to be here for that milestone birthday. Between the European conferences he had to attend and his dental work, he ended up having only three days. First, I told him it is not worth coming, especially because the girls will be here all the time. He said something to the effect: it’s important for the kids, and I thought: who am I to forbid him from attending his children’s birthday?!

So he flew in Friday evening, just a couple of hours before the girls arrived, and yes, it was a little bit chaotic but very happy. Vlad and Dylon stayed with their friends in Oak Park, so it was quite a journey to attend the party!

Now, about the engagement. Several days before the party, Vlad called me: Mom, I wanted to let you know that I am going to propose to Dylon before the party. And also, his family will be there, so you will get to meet everybody.

To say I was happy would be not enough. I was over the moon. And how awesome it was that Boris was going to be there! Their friends’ house is gorgeous, and they could not find a better place for both the party and the proposal:)