My mother always warned against discussing religion and politics in polite conversation. But, while I hate the idea of ignoring her advice, I tend to talk about both publicly quite a bit. I guess happily navigating an interfaith marriage (and working for a UW-Madison religious studies institute is just too big a part of my life to ignore"even with strangers. And avoid discussing politics in Madison, especially this year? Come on, Mom. Even you've got to cut me a little slack on that one.
And besides, I am not the least bit interested in the only mother-approved cocktail party small talk out there"the weather. I know nothing about atmospheric shifts or super cells. I've never been a fan of Al Roker and couldn't tell you who the weather guy is these days on Good Morning America. And, to be honest, my hair looks better wet.
Normally, a rainy day, even on a Monday, doesn't get me down.
But this April has been a different story.
Everyone dreams of a White Christmas; snow in December is not just allowable, but preferred. A White Thanksgiving, while perhaps a bit premature, certainly falls within the acceptable range. But a White Passover? You've got to be kidding me. Last week pretty much felt like an eleventh plague of biblical proportions was being visited upon Madison. Was this some sort of divine retribution for our current political situation in Wisconsin?
I might have preferred Lake Mendota turning to blood. Fortunately, we were spared a white Easter. Although I guess colored eggs would really pop in the snow.
And it seems particularly cruel that the cold, snowy, dankness had to fall on Madison's schools' spring (or should I say winter?) break. There was just no respite for the desperate Moms trapped inside all day with kids suffering from acute spring fever. This is the time of year where I depend on the opportunity to kick the kids to the park. But no, the closest we got to an outdoor activity was in the form of video games. I kid you not; my kids all developed Wii tennis elbow over the course of the week.
And even when rain, snow or hail is not falling from the sky, the ground is a complete mess. I have tried to convince my kids to consider playing indoor soccer year round, if for no other reason than to spare my floors and furniture. There are muddy cleats in my living room, wet uniforms in the dining room and filthy jackets in the kitchen. I realize I can't really blame my kids inability to put their stuff away on the weather (or the Regent Soccer folks), for that matter) but I am just furious enough at this particular spring to direct all my festering frustration toward Mother Nature. Can't she sympathize? I am pleading--from one mother to another.
How did you cope with the winter that would never end? Any tips for survival while waiting for May flowers?comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.