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!

At The Field Museum

Since Nadia is all about dinosaurs these days, we planned a visit to the Field Museum. Going there on Tuesday was a great idea – the first day of school was Monday, and the museum was almost empty. One thing neither Anna nor I could predict was how long our visit would last. We thought about 2- 2,5 hours, and we were even thinking about going to the Maggie Daley park afterward (since we didn’t go there on Saturday), but we ended up spending six hours in the museum! Nadia could not get enough of it! 

We started from watching a 3D movie about titanosaurus. Then, we saw the Pacific nations exhibit, then Evoving Earth, Jade, a gemstone exhibit, the Ancient China, Jane Goodall exhibit, the Underground adventure and I think I forgot something :). Nadia kept exploring

Biking With My Girls

Anna brought her cargo bike with her (she ended up driving a truck because of that), and although driving a truck in the city is not the most enjoyable activity, the presence of a cargo bike made a huge difference! We could go anywhere on bikes! Both Sunday and Monday mornings, we would head to the Lake Front Trail to explore the playgrounds – thank you, Chicago Park District!

We biked to the Edgewater Art Fair on Sunday evening (because Nadia really wanted to listen to some concert), and we biked to Andersonville on Monday to have lunch with Vlad and Dylon.

At the Edgewater Art Fair, Nadia danced for forty minutes straight while the band was playing, and Kira followed as much as she could:). Neither me nor Anna could expect it!

Only later we thought that we could plan more outings with the cargo bike, including going to the Lincoln Park Zoo and to Navy Pier – both are relatively close to where I live, but unfortunately do not have convenient public transportation. We will plan better next time!

At The Art Institute

We’ve been to two museums with my granddaughters, and both museum visits went surprisingly well.
On Saturday afternoon, Anna suggested that Boris and I would take Nadia to the Art Institute. The Rayan Educational Center in the Art Institute is still closed, and I thought that that would be the biggest attraction, but Nadia said she wanted to go anyway. I asked whether she also wanted to splash in the Crown fountain, but she said no. Well, having the Maggie Daley Park as our backup plan, we headed to the Loop. It was a long way on the Red Line, but Nadia enjoyed peering out of the window, looking at the people, streets, and cars from the elevation of the L.

We entered the Art Institute from the Modern Wing Entrance, and I decided to take a shot at viewing the contemporary art. We ended up looking at one or two artworks in each room, and I answered Nadia’s questions about them and told her what I feel looking at these pieces, and she told me how they felt for her. I think we both enjoyed that experience, and just at the moment I thought that that was enough for one visit Nadia said that that was enough:)

Some pictures which caught our attention:

We talked about why the bodies are painted with different colors
We talked about two faces on one face
Nadia surprised me by asking why the woman in the picture looks so angry – I didn’t even notice it before she mentioned!
Nadia liked this Mardi Gras picture
And she really liked all the Buddhas!

On the way back, we took the Brown Line and later switched to the Red Line. I think, Boris enjoyed it more than Nadia:), but I agree it was a great idea – seen the Loop from above!

At The Beach With My Girls

At some point, Anna expressed a concern that the beach’s proximity will alter her daughter’s priorities in Chicago and that instead of the “museum Baba” I will become a “beach Baba.” And indeed, the first request was about going to the beach. The girls arrived late on Friday, and Saturday morning, we headed to the beach straight after breakfast.

We spent about three hours at the beach, the girls mostly playing on the shore and in the shallow water. I was helping them to build the sandcastles and used the opportunity to go deeper into the water while there were no lifeguards on duty.

Also, we had snacks in Ropa Cabana (seen on the background), a new beach food stand run by one enthusiastic couple.

I thought it is going to be a beach every day, but after that, we took a deep dive into the cultural experience!

Family Time

My daughter and my granddaughters are my guests for the past three days, and today my son-in-law joined them.

it’s a very busy time, with lot’s of cooking and cleaning, and it’s the most wonderful time spending time together, talking, reading books and drawing pictures, sledding and having fun the snow. these day, I do ot have to do sledding in the wee hours of the morning, when nobody can see me. I am a grandma with my granddaughter, and we can go sledding as all other people with children.

People are making sledding trains out of multiple sleds, and most of the time theey would turn upside down, but everybody would have fun anyway 🙂

Today, Anna made scones for breakfast, as she always does. This time it was a new recipe, and it was super-delicious. Also, she made them with dry lingonberries, which I brought from Finland, and that made them even better 🙂

The Last Weekend Before Elections

It was another extremely busy weekend, mostly spent on the book writing plus trying to catch some nice weather on Saturday.
Regarding the book, we finally have a reviewer who’s suggestions are exceptionally helpful, but they require us to go back to almost every chapter and make some changes. And all changes have to be reviewed by all three of us :). As of yesterday, we had five different chapters in work: submitting one, drafting a plan for another, replying to the reviewer comments on the third, and waiting for re-review on the other two.
That was my busy Sunday, and I am so glad that it was a Sunday with an extra hour!
I had multiple blog posts in mind for this weekend, and I didn’t have time for any. But there is one thing I still want to write about today, before the election day.
Anna was doing phone banking and leaving literature by the doors over the weekend, and when I think about that, I want to cry. I do not have enough words to describe how proud I am of my daughter.
You know how it is commonplace that only young people and retirees are activists because others are busy working taking care of their families. And here is Anna, doing phone calls and walking the turf. When I expressed my admiration for what she is doing, she told me: I remember how I woke up on Wednesday four years ago, and this year, and now I want to make sure I did everything I could to prevent the same thing happening again.
I wish more people would understand that you can’t shield yourself away from politics “because you are busy taking care of your family.” The future of your family, the future of your children, depends on upcoming elections. There is hardly anything more important than that.
BTW, a couple of weeks ago, our HR sent out this message:

Which made our director of analytics anxiously ask me whether he needs to reschedule a by-weekly Sprint planning, and I told him I already voted:)

Anna messaged me a couple of pictures of Nadia, helping her to canvass. I think that many years later, Nadia would be proud of them. I know that some people would view it critically as “indoctrinating the young children.” But I think about it as teaching civic and being true to your moral values.

My Best Girls Ever

I had the best time ever with all three girls:). Kira is a miracle child: she is so happy all the time and so calm! Not like she does not have bad days and bad nights, but in comparison, not only with Nadia but with any child, I know close enough. Also, she is very advanced both physically and emotionally for her four and a half months. She tries to stand up all the time you hold her. she tries to crawl and sit, and I think she will be mobile in some way by the time she will be six months old. Just you wait:).
She also has an unbelievable emotional response to others, which is also way too early. She meets people’s gaze; she is upset when either Nadia or Anna is upset, and she ever reacts emotionally at the conversations which are not directed to her. And if you talk to her directly, she would always respond with the broadest smile.

Nadia speaks more and more complex sentences. She loves telling stories, and she likes it when Anna tells stories, imaginable, or real. She is very thoughtful and very compassionate, polite, and considerable of other people’s needs.

And all this is most definitely because of her parents. I do not think I ever had such a level of patience, as Anna demonstrates. And I can tell that her patience with Nadia fosters all these positive traits. Many everyday tasks take longer than they could because she lets Nadia do things by herself, to decide for herself, to do them her way. She always accepts Nadia’s help even when it makes things going three times slower :). And I am sure that John does the same; I just saw less of him this time :).

I am so looking forward to seeing these girls growing and doing great things!

Visiting With My Girls

As Anna put it, we had three visits in one. Anna and the girls came Friday evening. The girls went more or less straight to bed, and Anna and I talked till midnight (which was probably not the best idea, but we didn’t have one on one conversations for a really long time).

It was then a long morning at my house, and then we went to the market and picked pre-ordered bread, croissants and vegetables. Afterward, we visited my mom, and she was very happy to hold Kira and chat with all of us. Then we traveled to John and Anna’s house in Milwaukee, and I stayed there till midday Tuesday. Unfortunately, my situation at work is such that I could not take any additional time off, but we were still happy to stay under one roof for a couple of days.

The weather was not cooperating. It became sharply colder on Saturday, and I was completely unprepared. I was glad that I took a warmer coat, but frankly, I could take even a warmer one. We still went for several walks, but it would be better if the weather would be different.
I already posted some pictures from the Havenwoods State Park, and here are some pictures from the neighborhood – the Halloween decorations there are very elaborate 🙂

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