As my bucket list includes making it to Macy's on Thanksgiving at least once in this lifetime, it is safe to say I love a parade. And parade opportunities, while not quite Herald Square, thankfully abound in Madison: Memorial Day in Monona, St. Patrick's Day on the Square, and just this past Friday night, one of my favorites, the UW-Madison Homecoming Parade. It is special in many ways; the most unique being that it is at night. This provides some pretty distinct advantages if you have older kids. First, they can have a taste of college life-lite, grooving along with sorority girls, the dance team and Miley Cyrus--numerous floats were blasting Party in the USA.
The "tween-ness" of the evening could have easily inspired a Disney Channel take on collegiate life -- perhaps The Frat Life of Zach and Cody? Nighttime also provides cover to the ten-year-old kid who jumps in front of pre-schoolers to score yet another lime flavored Tootsie Roll (for his mother; they are delicious). And this year, the parade was made even younger kid-friendly with the addition of a fourth-grade Grand Marshall. The first grade Bucky coloring contest winner followed close behind in her own red convertible.
But UW Madison Homecoming festivities will always have a special place in my heart for reasons more sublime. I go back twelve years. We have just moved to Madison with our infant son and I am settling into a new city and new routine. My friendly neighbor knocks on the door and asks if we want to join her family in parade watching. I am hesitant; we are not Badger Fans, so to speak. You can take my husband out of the state "where the wind comes rushing down the plain", but he will always root for the Sooners . And I went to school where I am pretty sure I weighed more than the average offensive lineman -- the freshman 15 knows no conference. I just wasn't sure, as lovely as the invitation sounded, that we could muster up the requisite Wisconsin reverence.
But feeling like it would be an insult if we said no; off to State Street we went in the name of college football tolerance. And it probably took no more than three floats and four bars of On Wisconsin for me to get it -- the sanctity of Big Ten football, the 100+-year-old traditions, the bond between the UW and the city of Madison. Even though I will probably never sing "Varsity", my son high fived Bucky and I made a BFF. I realized I didn't need to have a UW diploma to call myself a Badger, at least in that moment. It may not have technically been my "Homecoming", but I was undoubtedly home.
And that, Badger fan or not, is definitely a reason to Jump Around.comments powered by Disqus
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.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.