Do The Domes!
Do The Domes!

The Milwaukee County Winter Farmers' Market is the most family-friendly of them

Apparently I'm the last to know. Based on the crowd Saturday morning at the Milwaukee County Winter's Farmers' Market at the Mitchell Park Domes, I may be the only person left who hasn't already fallen in love with this free, weekly family-friendly event. But just in case you haven't experienced it yet, either, you can read on for all the highlights and check it out for yourself next week. 

First, plan to go hungry so that you can take advantage of all the delectable local products for sale. I enjoyed a cherry chocolate scone from Amaranth Bakery and a perfect cup of coffee from Valentine Coffee Roasters.

I found both in the Show Dome, but in order to reach them, you'll have to walk past dozens of other local vendors and family farms in the main atrium selling fresh produce, herbal soaps, jams and jellies, and all-natural, grass-fed meat.

Once you're in the Show Dome, your kids will love the Gas Lamp Express Garden Train Show, running daily through Sunday, March 30. It features Thomas the Train and other choo-choo trains weaving their way along 600 feet of tracks through beautifully landscaped Victorian Gardens. Kids of all ages were lined up around the perimeter watching the show in a trance. Younger kids will also love the story times offered at 9:30 and 11:00.

Since admission is free, this is a good time to take a stroll through the other two domes, which both offer a welcome reprieve from this frigid winter. The Tropical Dome in particular feels like a mini-vacation, where you can spend some time on the foot bridge overlooking the koi pond and waterfall. For a bit of a scavenger hunt, see if you can find the plant growing out of a boot in the Desert Dome.

The Market is held every Saturday until April 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Mitchell Park Domes. Parking and admission are completely free. Expect crowds and be prepared to bundle up and walk a little bit. Find out more here


Check out "Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home."
Check out "Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home."

Smokey Bear exhibit at Betty Brinn brings the outdoors inside

It's been a rough winter, even for hardened Wisconsinites like us. If the frigid temperatures have kept you and your kids inside, you may want to check out the latest green-built exhibit at the Betty Brinn's Children's Museum for a taste of the outdoors. 

The "Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home" exhibit aims to help children learn about and appreciate natural resources, but I learned a few things myself. I never knew, for example, that the Smokey Bear icon was named after an actual cub who was badly burned from a New Mexico forest fire in 1950. Thankfully, he was rescued, and his image sparked the well-known nationwide campaign for outdoor enthusiasts to be more responsible.

Kids as young as two and as old as eight or nine will love exploring realistic woodland settings like the Ranger Station, where they can dress up as park rangers, work the radio and learn about natural resources through an interactive video kiosk.

Young visitors will learn the importance of protecting the environment through a variety of hands-on activities. They can practice using a rain barrel, sorting recycling and conserving electricity with a light-up generator in the playhouse. They can even visit a campsite, where they can snooze in a tent, build a fire, fish in a rowboat and roast marshmallows.

For kids who just need to burn off some energy, the exhibit is lined with tree trunk tunnels, balance beams and a mini rock wall. There's also a nature-inspired pinball machine that kept some children occupied for quite some time. Others will enjoy working with quiet activities like the large 3D nature puzzle, tree trunk building blocks and wind machine.

The exhibit runs through Sunday, May 4, and is included in the price of admission to the museum. You can find out more here.

Blaze is a chain worth trying.
Blaze is a chain worth trying.

Blaze Pizza is quick, nutritious and seriously delicious

I officially have a new favorite family friendly restaurant in the area. It's modern, yet cozy and welcoming. It's packed with kids and families, but not obnoxious or sticky (you know what I mean).

Its ingredients are fresh and local, yet the place is affordable. And the pizza is everything a family needs ‚Äď totally delicious, completely customizable and even nutritious.

It's Blaze Pizza in Brookfield, recently opened in November, and I highly suggest you go try it.

We were greeted Saturday night by a row of smiling employees ready to build our individual 11-inch pizza just the way we wanted it. You can choose from the standard simple pie (100 calories per slice), build your own pizza, or go for one of their signature pizzas. The service was friendly, fun and quick.

I opted for the signature Veg Out, packed with zucchini, mushrooms, red onions, mozzarella, Gorgonzola and generous dollops of red sauce. You can ask for more or less of any ingredient, or forgo something you're not crazy about. 

My husband tried the signature BBQ chicken, with chicken, mozzarella, red onion, banana peppers, Gorgonzola and a drizzle of barbecue sauce. He didn't know it then, but this indulgence was actually not as guilt-ridden as he thought, at just 140 calories per slice.

While we paid, both of our made-to-order dinners were fired up in their 800 degree open-hearth oven, and came out a few minutes later bubbly hot and perfectly crispy.  

We are pizza people, and I was weary of a national chain (there are ten locations so far nationwide, and more locations are popping up everywhere). But this pizza was truly impressive from the first bite.

The gorgonzola, sea salt and oregano (all optional, but highly recommended) take the flavor up a notch, and the ingredients are fresh and local from Greco and Sons in Waukesha. 

We walked out of there with a bill around $20 for two pizzas, one drink and two s'mores pies for dessert. I consider this a great price for a mouth-watering dinner…

How about talking to pregnant women like talking to non-pregnant women?
How about talking to pregnant women like talking to non-pregnant women? (Photo:

Guidelines for talking to a pregnant woman

OK, people. I get it. There is something about the sight of a pregnant woman's belly that causes us to smile inside, hold open the door and strike up a friendly conversation. I love to chat with people about how far along I am, if the nursery is complete and if we've thought about names. (OK, I don't love the last one, but I can deal with it.)

However, like many other pregnant women, I don't enjoy listening to all of the unsolicited comments about my changing and growing body. In the presence of a pregnant belly, it's as if all social norms become obsolete.

Throughout my last two pregnancies, I have received many well-intentioned comments about my body, both positive and negative. 

  • "Wow, you're really showing now."
  • "You don't even look pregnant!"
  • "All of the sudden, you look really pregnant."
  • "From behind I can't even tell."
  • "It must be time to deliver soon!"
  • "You must be really uncomfortable."
  • "You look tired."
  • "Are you pregnant?"

Much like when a woman is not pregnant, there are some simple rules of etiquette to follow when it comes to sharing your thoughts on her body.

Here are three simple steps to follow when deciding whether of not to comment on a pregnant woman's body. Read on if you don't want to be the jerk who offends or annoys an innocent expectant mother:

  1. First, ask yourself if you are a man. If you are a man, don't comment on the pregnant woman's body. 
  2. Next, ask yourself if you are a good friend of the pregnant woman. If you are not, don't comment on the pregnant woman's body.
  3. If you are a woman, and you are a good friend of the pregnant woman, you may proceed with commenting on the pregnant woman's body.

Here are some appropriate comments to choose from:

  • "You look amazing."
  • "You're glowing."
  • "You look so healthy."
  • "You're gorgeous."
  • "You are the most beautiful pregnant woman I've ever seen in my whole life."
Get the idea?

If any other thoughts or judgments enter your mind that aren't wildly positive and supportive,…