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 :))

The First Christmas Concert

I got tickets for the “Merry Chicago” concert in the CSO for Nadia and me on December 16. It was a little bit of a stretch because they could not leave until Nadia’s school was over, but it ended up being not a little bit but a lot of a stretch. To be precise, Nadia was dropped off in front of the CSO a minute before the concert. But we were not late, and we had terrific seats in the second row on the aisle.

It’s hard to believe, but Nadia sat through the whole 1 hour 50 min concert completely focused on the music! Even during the intermission, after we walked around for a little while, she insisted on returning to our seats and anticipated the concert’s second part.

And nowadays, the Christmas concert is very different from when my kids were kids – there is no story, no dances, so it is pretty much music all the time – shorter pieces, for sure, but still!

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

A Weekend With My Girls

My girls visited over the weekend, and we had tons of plans. The plans got almost canceled because Nadia started to get sick on Thursday night, and both Anna and Nadia arrived partially sick. Then we didn’t go anywhere on Saturday because Nadia was getting sicker and sicker, and Anna was about to go home right away. 

We finally decided to wait till Sunday morning, and to my surprise, Nadia woke up mostly normal and ready for adventure.

We went to the Field Museum as we originally planned to do on Saturday. This weekend was marked by the opening of the new Native American Galleries. The whole exhibit space was completely re-imaged; both the content and the presentation became more meaningful. There were several activities related to the new exhibit. One was the native storytelling with Karen Ann Hoffman. All I can tell – she was amazing, and I am not going to try to retell the stories. We all sat on the floor and listened for half an hour.

Another great activity was basket weaving. We looked at the demonstration, and later, we could stop by, and get our share of materials and instructions. We came back for the next two strings, and then the last time to finish the project. All of us (except probably Kira) enjoyed this activity a lot – we worked together and ant the end, we had this cute basket!

Finishing touches to our family basket

Once again, we spent almost the whole day in the museum and came home with barely any time left to have leftovers dinner before the girls went home.

My Little Biker

I had my girls over for Easter Saturday. They took a train from Milwaukee on Friday evening, but not just that; they also brought Nadia’s bike with them and a bike seat for Kira. With all this equipment, walking from the Union Station to the CTA was a challenge. To minimize the walk, we decided to take the Brown line and then switch to the Red Line, and with all the waits, it took us 1 hour 40 minutes to reach my house(instead of one hour!). We made it and thus proved our dedication to reducing the carbon footprint, but it was a major project.

On Saturday, we could not figure out how to attach a bike seat to one of my bikes, and I thought that if all of this was for nothing, and we won’t be able to go on the bike ride, it would be a major disappointment. Fortunately, after multiple tries, Anna figured out how to attach the seat to another bike :), and we left – an hour later than planned.

Nadia was a champion – we biked all the way from my house to the start of the Lakefront Trail – it’s 2.7 miles one way! And it was pretty cold, especially closer to the lake. And Nadia fell off the bike several times, hurting different parts of her body, but afterward, she would get back on her bike and keep going. Amazing kid!

On the way back to the train station, Igor helped us to carry things, and it was tons easier! That way, we actually made it in one hour!

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!