The Adventures of Ralphie

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We’ve had Ralphie for more than three years now! It seems like time has gone by so fast, in addition to all the joy and love he has brought us, he has also made us laugh … a lot.

The ad for Ralphie said, in part, “I’m Ralphie and I am the best EVER!! … All in all, I am a sweet and happy boy waiting for some friends to play with.”

He has truly lived up to that, and more. Michelle and I can attest, he is the best ever, and we are so lucky to be his friends.

Below are just a few of Ralphie’s funny, notable adventures. Continue reading

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Playboys at the Playhouse: A Winter Evening Downtown

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It was with the belief that a well-rounded man attends both sporting events and theater that initially prompted me to join my friend Matt in ordering season tickets to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, also known as The Rep.

I’ve certainly attended my fair share of sporting events, and in the last six seasons, I’ve come to really enjoy being a season ticket holder at The Rep. Now, five times a year, me and my group of friends–Matt dubbed us Playboys at the Playhouse–are drawn Downtown to be transported somewhere else entirely – sometimes 1960s America amid racial upheaval, sometimes its pre-Industrial Revolution England. Sometimes it’s to Green Bay to see the story of the Packers’ most legendary coach, other times it’s ancient Greece to hear a gladiator wax poetic about the Trojan War.

No matter where we’re going, I always look forward to it. Continue reading

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ABCs of Milwaukee Dining: A Conclusion

Late 2011 at Firefly Urban Grill + Bar, Wauwatosa

Late 2011 at Firefly Urban Grill + Bar, Wauwatosa

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“For a moment … we’re all immortal. Time stretches out forever. There’s a moment like that in every meal. If you pay attention it’s there … where oblivion is replaced with infinity … and then, the check comes.” -Aaron Wolfe from “Ruthy’s Dinner” at The Moth.

It has been eight months since our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining quest ended. Eight months where I’ve tried to figure how to sum up a two-year quest with my best friends. This is the best I could do.

Looking back, it is astounding to see all the things that have changed in the two years of our ABCs of Milwaukee Dining quest. Adam, Cindi, Shannon, TJ, Michelle and I have experienced two marriages and two babies. New houses. A new dog. New jobs. New friends. Vacations. And other things too. Continue reading

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Beaches, Boats and Beer: Finding Pure Michigan

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For months, a vacation destination that we could agree on eluded us.

Then it came to me … almost too close to have been previously considered …

Michigan.

Michelle had never been, but I didn’t have to convince her. Tim Allen had been working on it for years in those saccharine Pure Michigan commercials. The ones where he earnestly paints a picture of natural beauty, relaxation and fun that was impossible for Michelle to resist.

I’d been to Michigan on vacation when I was little, and several times for work, but I’d never explored the western side of the state or visited the state’s world class breweries. There was even a Pure Michigan commercial about Michigan’s craft beer scene. Continue reading

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My Year in Concerts: 2013 & 2014

Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady and rock 'n roll prophet, soaks in the love on July 3, 2014, at Summerfest.

Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady and rock ‘n roll prophet, soaks in the Summerfest love in 2014.

We saw some great concerts in 2011 and 2012! So only seeing five shows in 2013 was a let down.

Nevertheless, when I put the last two years together, we saw some great concerts and although I don’t get to shows as often as I used to, I can’t think of many places I’d rather be than amidst other music lovers, beer in my hand and the music of a band I love making a moment into magic. Continue reading

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We Kayaked the Milwaukee River: An Afternoon with Milwaukee Kayak Co.

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Shortly after Michelle and I met, while talking on the phone, we discovered we had the same birthday. At the time, this little fact seemed charmed–a reason to keep talking despite the distance between us and the longshot prospects for a relationship.

Ten years on, that charming fact–August 3 being our shared birthday, I’m three years older–seems like more like a burden to bear. We always struggle to determine where to go and what to do.

As this past birthday approached, I decided to be proactive. I wanted to do something fun and memorable. I’d seen images on social media of people kayaking the Milwaukee River and I thought, if we were able to stay upright, it would be the perfect way to spend our day and take in a unique view of our city. Continue reading

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Z is for Zaffiro’s Pizza

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In late October, we made a trip to a frequent location–Milwaukee’s East Side–for our final ABCs dinner. On a moderately chilly Monday night, we drove up and down the streets that make up the Brady Street neighborhood…

None of us had ever been to Zaffiro’s but we had certainly heard about it before–it was Michelle and Adam’s selection. Continue reading

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Reflections on Ralphie’s First Year

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“Animals should fit into your schedule,” I matter-of-factly told Michelle in the first week after we brought home Ralphie.

We were discussing whether she should walk him in the morning–if that would increase his comfort and tire him out for the 10 hours we’d be gone.

“When you love something, you make sacrifices,” Michelle retorted.

I’m not Michelle, so I had a lot to learn. Continue reading

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Y is for Yen Ching

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Whenever we select a restaurant I’ve never been to, I am eager to go online and see the reviews.

Thanks to Michelle’s winning entry of Yen Ching (Adam also picked it), I found mixed results of a curious, unsurprising variety. I saw claims that Yen Ching is the best Chinese in Milwaukee. I saw that Yen Ching was featured on Dirty Dining.

I was eager to form my own opinion, so on a sunny Friday evening in early June, we made the half-hour trek from Bay View to Brown Deer and pulled up in front of a restaurant festooned with life-size golden lions, red siding, green shingles and large Chinese characters.

The interior carried the theme further. The large dining space was decorated with items meant to evoke ancient China, and they looked like they had been in place for about as long. Adam said:

I loved the gold Buddha statue and paper-style lantern light fixtures.

The mostly windowless dining area was maybe a third full on a Friday night–no reservations necessary. Although, Cindi notes: “I noticed a lot of people picking up their take-out.” Continue reading

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We Went to Nomad in Milwaukee and saw America Beat Ghana in the World Cup

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Being a sports fan is a calculated risk. The highest highs are possible, but crushing lows are more likely.

I’m a novice soccer fan, I only watch every four years, during the World Cup. Soccer is not a sport we grow up with and not a sport our country excels in, but trust me on this … go to Nomad or Highbury or any other soccer bar before this Cup ends and watch the Americans.

The United States Men’s Soccer team is only certain to play two more matches in this year’s World Cup. What they do on Sunday and then next Thursday will determine if they move on.

If you’re lucky and this team has more magic in it, perhaps you’ll share the joy that millions of Americans–including Mike, Ryan, Adam and I–felt early Monday evening. Continue reading

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