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
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.
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.