Scott Walker and I have a few of things in common. We both sported very bad haircuts in our high school yearbook photos. and I also clearly share a love of the Eagles, although the dark underbelly of 'Hotel California' might better describe my time in 12th grade. But our most striking similarity? According to numerous interviews and addresses the Governor has given over past three weeks, he sees himself as president of the "eternal optimist" club. I am proud to say that I am a card-carrying member, as well.
But Governor, you've made it a quite a bit harder to remain upbeat these days. I am a Mom, so it is my duty to figure out how to make lemonade out of lemons. I'd like to think I am even Pollyanna-enough to try to make lemonade out of horseradish. But I am hard-pressed to figure out how to make something palatable out of arsenic--the only ingredient your scorched earth method of balancing the budget has left folks to work with. I'm finding it difficult to find a silver lining, or even bronze, in your budget -- only a lead-based one.
And now, this erosion of my "eternal optimism" is starting to infiltrate other aspects of my life.
For instance, I wasn't nearly as pumped as I should have been this past weekend as my family and I headed out of town to cheer on my son's hockey team in their bid for the Bantam B state championship. I was disappointed to be missing Michael Moore at the Capitol and was not looking forward to cramming the whole family into a small hotel room for the night. But mostly, I just wasn't all that excited for the games.
Yes, our team had delivered a good, solid season, but it wasn't stellar. I was having a hard time mustering up the optimism a good hockey mom (you know, like Sarah Palin) should have before a big tournament. I just wasn't feeling that success at the state championship was in the cards.
As expected, the guys won their first game against host team Fond du Lac. Our team played solidly, but certainly not great--they'd really need to step it up and then some for the semi-final match that evening. We were playing Appleton, a powerhouse team, both in skill and size. Trust me, eighth graders from the Fox River Valley grow a whole lot bigger than in Madison. The height differential was impressive and left me doubtful our boys could pull this off.
But fortunately, my brief bout with pessimism wasn't contagious. Many members of our team hadn't had the chance to play in a state title game before; they wanted this chance and they wanted it bad. It was a white-knuckle game from beginning to end, but the whole team skated furiously and deftly handled the puck. Our goalie had the game of his life; save after remarkable save after unbelievable save. Appleton never gave up, but this one went our way with a 3-2 victory. A David vs. Goliath moment delivered by 14 tough middle school kids who just had determination.
We parents, almost as elated as the kids, waited at the locker room door dispensing high fives all around. It was a major upset -" momentum seemed to be on our side. I half-seriously offered to gather up the teams' uniforms and drive them cross state lines to Illinois--the Fab 14 could use a little boost and a change of clothes. But once I got a whiff of my son's jersey I realized this was probably not a smart or sanitary option. The smell of his alone, never mind the thirteen others, would have done me in miles before I reached the border.
I wish I could say that it was a full Cinderella story for the West Madison Polar Caps. No such luck in the Championship game"we were definitely outplayed by a well-organized Ozaukee club, losing 6-2. Lightning doesn't always strike twice.
But that semi-final game was magnificent. Our moment. And it restored my optimism that it is possible for 14 valiant people to stage an upset. Just skate hard and protect the net. After all, they can't win if they can't score--or have a quorum.comments powered by Disqus
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.