Amy Artisan

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Category: WI-Family (page 2 of 3)

Bucket List Birthday

Ten years ago, I celebrated a decade turning birthday in Chicago in lots of different ways – culminating with drinks and dinner at the top of the Hancock Building with dear girlfriends. Looking back on the last 10 years, I know that as we enjoyed the city and lake views with our celebration I didn’t have a glimpse into how the next 10 years would progress and indeed how I would celebrate the next decade turning birthday. While I don’t have a formal bucket list, per se, as I look at the last 10 years there have been some pretty incredible experiences that have filled my bucket. So, it seemed appropriate to celebrate this decade turning birthday in Wisconsin with a bucket list experience – it was finally to see a Packers game at Lambeau. And not just any game – the latest installment of the Packers vs. Bears rivalry in prime time. This time last weekend, I was in the midst of enjoying a fantastic birthday celebration weekend with dear ones back in Wisconsin.

As the sun was setting on Sunday afternoon, we loaded into the van to head towards the game. All week we had been watching the weather forecast and so we made sure that we had plenty of layer options to wear & carry in so that we wouldn’t be frozen fans – in the end, we didn’t even deploy all the layers we brought with us. In no time, we were parking about 5 blocks from the stadium and adding layers to our ensembles before walking to the stadium. Along the way, we passed a lot of tailgating and cheering fans in the neighborhood that surrounds the stadium. As we reached the stadium we were swept up into the throngs of fans as we worked our way around to the front entrances and the new Lambeau Leap statue. (Trivia: C & V were at the game where the 1st Lambeau Leap was experienced) After capturing the appropriate leap pictures, it was time to enter the stadium and find our seats.

We pushed through the crowds and climbed the steps to our seats. Before long we were settling into our seats in the end zone, near the Packers tunnel. The pre-game festivities were stirring – it seemed appropriate that we were there for a great show of military service appreciation. We all dutifully held up our blue cards for the Card Stunts. And then, it was time for the game to start. Before long, the Packers were in the end zone and we were jumping up and down screaming & high-fiving with those in the seats around us. Early in the game, it was evident that it was not going to be a good night to be a Bears fan – the 20-something Bears fans in the seats in front of us quickly realized they needed to just embrace the Lambeau experience. As the Packers continued to score, we joked that it would be great for them to at least score as many points as there were candles on my cake this year. Little did we know they would surpass that by halftime.

As the game continued into the second half, it was obvious that we were lucky enough to be witnessing an incredible game in this longstanding rivalry. Even as seats around us started to empty, we stayed to the very end. There were still plenty of opportunities to scream and holler and cheer as great play continued. I had started losing my voice on Saturday but that didn’t stop me from cheering with the best of them during the game. As we headed back to the van after the game we all were floating just a bit from the excitement of a great game and a great evening.

While the game on Sunday night was definitely the highlight of the weekend, it was an all around great time with dear ones. My flight path to WI included connecting through Atlanta so I “picked up” Rebecca to join the celebration. The WI family picked us up in Milwaukee and we had our “normal” road trip fun including lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and Kwik Trip stops. Saturday evening, the grown-ups enjoyed a very grown-up dinner of Concrete Mixers from Culvers. On Sunday morning we headed up to the land in the UP in the midst of a few snowflakes. Sunday supper happened at lunchtime & included cold weather grilling and a tasty birthday cake. On Monday, a pretty snowfall came down outside the living room picture window as we enjoyed hanging out before it was time for Rebecca to head back to GA. Monday lunch was at my favorite Blue Bike Burrito – it had been a while since I’d been there but it is always so fun to walk in & be greeted by name. On Tuesday, I was back in the office there as the snow started to stick more before it was time to fly back to PA.

And now, the decade has turned. Who knows what these next 10 years will hold. But based on the adventures the previous decades have held, I look forward to seeing what unfolds.

A Kwik Trip

This time last weekend, I was briefly in Wisconsin – yep, my 3rd visit to the WI family in 5 weeks. While each of the other trips was filled with planning & anticipation by all of us leading up to the weekend, this trip was a little different…only 1 person knew I was coming. Bre’s Confirmation was on Saturday afternoon and while we all wished I could join them for the weekend, with all the recent trips we assumed that wouldn’t happen…then, I found a good flight option and so a secret trip was planned.

A surprise Saturday morning journey

A surprise Saturday morning journey

I was on the 5:50 AM flight out of Philly on my way west. By 9:00 AM I was settling into my rental at the Milwaukee airport for the drive north. It was a beautiful Wisconsin Saturday for the drive that I have done so many times. Of course, a WI road trip included a stop at Kwik Trip – the new weekly Packers Player cup filled with diet Dew fueled the drive. The “never lost” GPS system from the car rental brought a chuckle – there was no need for it on a route that I know so well. Throughout the trek, I was staying in touch with my partner in crime with ETA updates & confirming if I was coming home or just showing up to the pizza party – the timing worked to come home before the lunchtime party.

Before long, I was home. I pulled into the driveway & walked into the garage & into the house just like I have done numerous times. Bre was in the doorway & the look on her face was priceless – she immediately asks her mom if the plan was that I was coming all along. Meanwhile, Vicki is around the corner & can’t yet see me. She quickly turns the corner & sees me – as her jaw drops. Surprise achieved! (Oh to have had the camera rolling) Hugs and laughter ensued as the boys came downstairs and saw I was there.

Celebrating Bre!

Celebrating Bre!

The afternoon was all about celebrating Bre! With Bre’s work schedule, the party was before the confirmation. Friends & family joined at a local restaurant for pizza and cake to celebrate. Late in the afternoon we all piled into the pews at church for her confirmation mass. After mass, a few pictures before Bre had to go to work.

After the confirmation festivities were over, we settled into our typical “time together” routine – it doesn’t take much to keep us entertained when we’re together. Saturday evening was just hanging out while watching some baseball and football and listening to a Mercer football game. Sunday was a lazy morning of deep conversation and then we headed to Green Bay for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings before I needed to leave – since the Packers had already played, it didn’t dawn on us that it was opening Sunday of the football season and so BWW was loud & crowded. Then 20 hours & 45 minutes after I walked in the door to surprise them, we were saying goodbyes in the restaurant parking lot and it was time to drive down to Milwaukee and fly back to PA…I arrived home late Sunday night for a quick 7 hours before my next journey…

Meet Me in Milwaukee

This last weekend was “Part 3” of summer fun with my Wisconsin family.

Part 1 & Part 2 were on the calendar from early in the year. Of course, both of them were originally meant to be longer adventures before life & work caused the plans to change. So…as Part 2 was being shortened by work requirements we quickly decided to add a Part 3. Our plans were to meet up in Milwaukee for a long weekend of baseball, museums, frozen custard and all around fun as a bit of a back to school blast. Once the dates were confirmed, points were used to grab hotel rooms for us and we began to add possible activities to our TripIt itinerary to fill our days with fun.

Miller Park Memories

Miller Park Memories

Baseball…Our only “definite” for the weekend was a Friday night Brewers baseball game. The giveaway for the game was a Brewers t-shirt sponsored by Kwik Trip – we all chuckled at the appropriateness of that for us. We got to the stadium early & had fun checking out the kids zone activities before settling into great seats along the right foul line. While we weren’t thrilled with the outcome of the game, we cheered heartily throughout.

Museum Moments

Museum Moments

Museums…On Friday we experienced the Milwaukee Public Museum – Ry’s excitement of being at a museum was palpable as we walked up the stairs towards exhibits. We wandered through exhibits of dinosaurs and butterflies and rain forests and scientists at work and old Milwaukee and so much more. On Saturday we headed towards the foggy lakefront and the Discovery World Museum – what an incredible collection of science and technology to explore. From interactive models of the Great Lakes to an aquarium that included “petting pools” to hand powered toys and machines to the techno jungle to a Les Paul’s House of Sound – each exhibit was designed for plenty of hands on interaction. Without a doubt, I think the adults had as much fun exploring as the kids in Discovery World.

The Great Milwaukee Frozen Custard Tour

The Great Milwaukee Frozen Custard Tour

Frozen Custard…As we were starting to plan for this weekend, I came across an article about the best frozen custard places in Milwaukee. I added the details into our TripIt itinerary and we joked that we would see how much custard we could enjoy. Turns out that we managed to make it to 3 of the 6 custard stands in the article – each day we did a late lunch at a stand – first burgers and then the custard. Our approach to evaluating each stand varied among the group – some went for hot fudge sundaes, malts, flavors of the days. A few of us went with a standard baseline – vanilla frozen custard in a waffle cone. On Friday, we started with the oldest stand, Gilles. It was a tasty start to the tour. The “first time visitor” packets they handed out where a fun introduction to their history. On Saturday, as we left Discovery World we headed for our second stand. In the “serendipity way” that sometimes transpires, as we were nearing our destination, Chris comments about how he used to go to a place called Oscar’s in this area when he was a kid…and just like that we were turning into the Oscar’s parking lot. I do believe that someone was transported back to happy childhood memories with the burger & custard. On Sunday, we concluded this portion of the tour with a stop at Kopp’s on the way to the airport. The outdoor eating area of benches by a huge water wall was a nice change-up from a “traditional” sit down area.

Family Fun Times

Family Fun Times

All Around Fun…Beyond the baseball, museums and custard we had plenty of fun, no matter what we were doing. Thursday kicked off with lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings – with Ry challenging me to the lunchtime trivia game. Our hotel was a great base camp – for R&R whether it was a good nap, pool time for the kids or lounge time for the grown ups. One evening we browsed through a local mall and enjoyed dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Another evening, we invited cousins over for an impromptu pool & pizza party at the hotel. Through it all, there were plenty of moments of fun just because we all were together.

On Sunday afternoon, it was time to say our goodbyes & “see you soon” and head back to the non-vacation life. But never fear, we are already talking about what our next “meet me in…” vacation may be – we all agree we need to do this again.

Birthdays and Baseball

This past weekend was a “quick trip” to Wisconsin for a family birthday celebration. While the time there was short we packed a whole lot of fun and more into the few days…

Friday was for an early morning flight into Milwaukee…which means a bit of a road trip to get home…When we road trip in Wisconsin, we stop at quite a few Kwik Trips – the kids roll their eyes as we pull into the parking lot – we try to explain that road trips are meant for stops like that…(and a huge thank you for the crew that came to pick me up – suggestions that I drive up there on my own were met with loud and emphatic no responses)

Ready for a Birthday Bash!

Ready for a Birthday Bash!

Saturday was for the Family Birthday Bash…since all 3 kids have birthdays within a couple of weeks of each other there is “1 big party” to celebrate them…the adults in the house were up early to get a jump start on the party prep – finishing some food prep, getting the outside area ready for the party – yard work and decorating were on tap…Grandpa arrived to setup for a Wisconsin fish boil (salmon and rainbow trout that he caught)…cakes were picked up…kids were excited…family arrived and a party was had…kids squealed with delight as gifts were opened…it was early to bed for all of us after a busy and fun day…

Take us out the T-Rats!

Take us out the T-Rats!

Sunday was for Baseball…if you do something two years in a row that must mean a tradition is forming….this year the baseball game was the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers down in Appleton…a bit of a road trip (including Kwik Trip stops)…standing in line for the gates to open and get a bobblehead…a beautiful day for a game…the fun of minor league stadium entertainment…Ry asking players for autographs on the program…meeting Bernie Brewer…just as the game was headed into extra innings, a heavy rainstorm opened up over the stadium…a mad dash to the covered concourse…then a mad dash to the van as the rain let up a bit…stopping at a local burger & custard stand for supper and sweets on the way home…a beautiful rainbow seen through the van windows as we drove through more summer storm weather to get home…

The original plan for this trip was for me to stay for another week – work for a couple of days and then a long weekend of additional summer adventures. A project at work changed those plans and so Monday was for flying back to PA…but in a couple of weeks we are meeting up in Milwaukee to “finally” enjoy the rest of the summer adventures we were planning…

Family Vacation Fun

This week, I was lucky enough to host my WI family for some “PA summer fun” family vacation time. This has been a trip a long time in the making – from the first possibilities of me moving to PA we talked of them coming to visit. This was one of the first things written on my fridge calendar back in January and as the months progressed we added possible fun times to our itinerary.

Last Friday, the kids had a half day of school to end their school year. Once school was out, they piled into the van and were off… Over the river into the UP – across the Mackinac Bridge – and through the Ohio & Pennsylvania Turnpikes to “Miss Amy’s House” they came.

Text messages and phone calls on Friday & Saturday provided a glimpse into the excited van as they made their way here. By the time the kids were pounding on my front door on Saturday evening we all were more than ready for days of fun, fun, fun!

Civil War on a Sunday afternoon

Civil War on a Sunday afternoon

Sunday is for Civil War! After brunch that included an introduction to Pork Roll & Scrapple, we headed to New Jersey for the afternoon. (Add another one to the visited states list, kids!) Our goal was to see an annual Civil War reenactment – we arrived just as the battle was starting. In addition to seeing the battle, we toured the encampment and learned quite a bit about the rifles and combat methods used during the war. To recharge from the hot and sunny outing, we stopped at a drive in for ice cream & floats. After a fun afternoon “out” we returned home for our “Sunday supper” routine that began during my Marinette days – after cooking many meals in their kitchen it was fun to cook with them in mine. Supper gave way to a lazy evening enjoying just being back together.

Kitchen Kettle Village fun

Kitchen Kettle Village fun

Monday is for Amish Country! Once we were all up & fed, it was time to load into the van and head west towards Lancaster County. It is definitely a favorite day trip spot for me – so of course we would go there. As we started sharing the road with buggies, the boys were responsible for keeping count of how many we saw throughout the day. Our day was filled with shopping both at Kitchen Kettle Village and other favorite stores; sampling many tasty jams, salsa, mustards & more; tasty family style lunch at Good & Plenty Restaurant; just exploring the countryside. As rain started to move in late in the afternoon we searched out 2 covered bridges in the area – one to drive through and one to walk around.

Discovering Covered Bridges

Discovering Covered Bridges

Tuesday is for Cheese Steaks, Coloring & Baseball! I went into the office for a few hours in the morning while the kids enjoyed some splash time at their hotel pool. At lunchtime, we headed out with an itinerary to take us a bit north. First up was another local taste – delicious cheese steaks. Then, a beautiful drive along the Delaware River took us to Easton, PA and the Crayola Experience.

Channeling our inner artist

Channeling our inner artist

The Crayola Experience was a hit with all of us – we could probably have spent twice as much time there. Each of the kids has a creative streak & this was a perfect place for all of us to channel our inner artist as we worked our way through the various art stations. We named our own crayons, made markers, created digital art, colored pictures, captured “family selfies” into coloring pages and all around had a fun time.

Take us out to the ball game

Take us out to the ball game

After a couple hours in color wonder, it was time to head a bit west to see some baseball. Our seats in “The Bacon Strip” in the far right outfield made for an excellent place to cheer on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in a minor league game. It was a beautiful night for baseball – we were lucky that rain in the area did not come to the ballpark & impact the game.

Wednesday ended up being for an unexpected early departure due to a family need back in WI. While we were all sad as they drove away from my place in the early morning hours, we were so thankful for the time that we had together here. From the fun adventures to the simple hangout times at my place and everything in between, we filled the days with many great memories!

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