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
"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.
For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
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.