Walking home from soccer practice the other day, my 8-year-old daughter wondered out loud why there were so many signs in our neighborhood 'advertising' Feingold. She was very upset. Her sense of outrage, though, had nothing to do with the economy or the war in Afghanistan. No, she was annoyed that everyone in Ms. Feingold's third grade class (Russ' first wife teaches at Randall Elementary) had gotten a sign with their teacher's name on it for their yard and no one in her class had. This was when I realized I have probably not done the best job of schooling my kids in the American political process.
I think some of my ambivalence regarding heavy-duty political discussions with the kids stems from my own upbringing. While I went to grade school in suburban D.C. with the offspring of both Democratic and Republican senators and congressional representatives, my parents were entrenched in the arts. They never once mentioned elections at home; I am guessing they voted, but I couldn't have told you for whom.
My only childhood political experience was going to vote in the 1972 presidential election with my Brooklyn-born grandfather. I went into the booth with him and asked him how the voting process worked. He said, "Sari, you just press this lever -- it's for the straight Democratic ticket". Enough said. And so I went, all through college and young adulthood, voting party line, without engagement. I am sure I voted for Rod Blagojevich at some point. I lived in Chicago, I probably voted for him twice-- in the same election.
It wasn't until I moved to Madison, where campaign involvement was more common, that I started to get more invested. It is one of the many beauties of a smaller city: the feeling that your vote really matters. I made a point to know my alders and school board members
And my husband and I got so caught up in "The Change You Can Believe In" that we took off to D.C. for the Obama inauguration. The kids came along as well, but were probably more inspired by the "Yes We Can" cookies they scrounged in Herb Kohl's office than they were by actually meeting their senator.
I think things will be a little bit different when I enter my polling place this coming Tuesday to cast my vote. First, I will make sure that all three kids are right there with me in the booth. Getting them there shouldn't be hard. I'm sure there will be brownies for sale, once again underscoring the clear relationship between democracy and baked goods.
I will show them the name of each candidate running and let them know why I made the choices I did. I will probably even let my 8- year-old wield the pen when I cast my vote for Feingold -- the Senator, not the teacher.
I want them to know that while I often tire of hearing them yell in the house, when they reach 18, the polling place will be an excellent place to have their voices heard.comments powered by Disqus
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.
"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.