Every end of August, I have a day or so of full-blown panic that takes me back 25-plus years. Flashback - it's March and I am a high-school senior dashing home from class to check what the mailbox has in store. A big manila envelope meant college acceptance; I was in, life was fine, I would get a worthwhile job some day. A dinky business-type envelope meant no go, applications up 40% this year, best of luck at your second choice, lady. For years my heart hadn't raced in quite that same way, but it does every year now -- on registration day for the Madison Metropolitan School District.
I am not sure how I got so caught up in the drama of who my kids' teachers would be, but there is no question I am playing a staring role. I am pretty tuned in to neighborhood "news" (I'd never call it gossip), and I know full well who are the "have-to-have" teachers and who are the "I'd rather not" folks. And of course the fact that all the kids have their hearts set on someone in particular (pretty much based on whether or not they give out candy on the first day) doesn't help ease my stress.
So I take a deep breath, walk up to receive my anticipated/dreaded folder and tentatively look inside. If the news is "good" there is a sigh of relief, a feeling of pride, as if my kid deserved this placement the way I had deserved a spot at Harvard (full disclosure, small envelope). I'd have the right answers when the "Who'd you get?" questions came rushing in.
But if that name is not "the one," or worse, the "one you don't want to get," decisions need to be made quick. Do I march down to the principal's office and ask for a move stat? Do I just live with it and hope for the best, or at least not the worst? Do I look for ways to convince myself it will be great for my child to experience a not-so-great year in a Blessings of a Skinned Knee kind of way?
I've gotten both types of folders on a warm August morning. And for the most part I can say that the teachers with the stellar reputations have pretty much lived up to the hype. But some good things have happened on the off years as well. Maybe it was my son getting to learn U.S. history from a dramatically different perspective (albeit in questionable chronological order). Maybe it was getting to meet his best friend while avoiding being stuffed in a trashcan. Maybe it was discovering there are things you can teach yourself, even when the teacher can't.
And perhaps most importantly, it was my realizing that this year alone will not dictate the type of envelope he (okay, we) will be waiting for come March of senior year.comments powered by Disqus
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.