I took up running four months after the birth of my second child. I'd learned the hard way with baby number one that breastfeeding alone, while an awesome calorie-burner, will not undo the damage of nine straight months of nightly Ben and Jerry's. And at a time in my life when convenience was key, no activity seemed more efficient for getting back into shape than lacing up running shoes, plopping my infant and toddler sons in the Baby Jogger and heading out the door. I'm proud to say that, even though both the single and double running strollers (I was a total baby-gear junkie) were retired years ago, I've kept up my exercise commitment. I dare say I've even come to enjoy it.
But don't ask me to consider running any further than the just-shy-of-three-miles loop I currently embrace, regardless of weather, four times a week. I have no desire to push my luck and train for a 10K, or even attempt a 5. And I certainly don't plan to add either competitive biking or swimming to my repertoire any time soon. I get anxious riding fast, especially in crowds, and hate getting my hair wet (yes, I've become my mother).
Sure, I have a healthy amount of respect for the men and women who will be competing in the Ironman Wisconsin this weekend. But there is no chance of even a sprint distance, much less a triathlon on steroids (probably not the best choice of words) in my future.
My salient childrearing philosophy, though, has come to be "Do as I say, not as I do." And I wouldn’t mind my kids getting a little more cross-training action. Multi-sports have such a nice Jack-of-all-trades appeal to them. If it was winter, and we were gun owners, I might look into the biathlon; there is something delightfully fringe about it. But utilizing sneakers, bikes and swimsuits, things readily at my disposal, is probably a more practical choice.
And there is a great opportunity for kids to try a "tri" this coming Saturday, Sept. 10, when the Madison Area Sports Commission, along with sponsor Hy-Vee, hosts the inaugural IronKids Madison Triathlon at Middleton High School. The event, a part of the national IronKids circuit, is open to kids 6-15 years old who wish to compete in age-appropriate distances with an emphasis on fitness, fun and safety. I think my 9-year-old daughter could probably complete the swim, bike and run required of her age group. But I'm a little less sure of my older kids' motivation and stamina -- maybe I kept them in the running stroller just a little too long.
I'm positive, though, even they would find inspiration in meeting 2011 IronKid ambassador Winter Vinecki, who has been in town all week promoting Saturday's event. This remarkable Salem, Ore., 12-year-old is not only an elite triathlete on the national circuit, but she has grand plans to run seven different marathons next year, each on a different continent. Her hope, by undertaking this incredible feat, is to help raise global awareness of prostate cancer, the disease that took her father's life when she was only 9. Winter is out there racing to prove that one can take personal loss and turn it into a source of hope for millions of men who've battled prostate cancer. She runs marathons to help motivate other kid athletes to compete for a cause that is meaningful for them. It's not just about fitness for her; it's about her father's memory.
"When I'm out there [racing], I know my dad is watching over me," Winter has said. "When I cross the finish line, he's there waiting".
When I think about her story I am reminded that my kids, as well as I, can always push just a little bit harder. Maybe I do have a 5K in me, especially for a cause as important as Winter's.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.