I guess you can call me the "Mom Who Cried Potluck." Just three short months ago, this blog waxed poetic on how ridiculously crazy the end of the school year was. It seemed impossible to me at the time that any month would dare to be busier than June.
But failing memory is just one more unpleasant by-product of advancing age; I had completely forgotten how nutty September, in all its back-to-school glory, can be. I just pray that I am asked to bring the paper products to this week's "All School Welcome Picnic"; I don't think I have another pasta salad in me.
Over the next week or so, I will have the privilege of attending no fewer than four different back-to-school nights. To be honest, I am not sure how this happened. I only have three children and I'm pretty sure each attends only one school. And fall sports and afterschool activities are back with a vengeance. My electronic calendar now looks like a Rubik's Cube with its constantly shifting matrix of color-coded calendars, one for each family member. And much like when wrestling with the annoying 3-D puzzle, I don't dare shift any activity off Wednesday, the day currently wreaking havoc on my carpool schedule, out of fear of what that one change will mean for the other six days of the week.
While I'm not much one to romanticize the past, this flurry of activity makes me a little nostalgic for the time when my kids were much younger and our lives seemed simpler. I vividly remember, not so many years ago, when I was dying for a reason to get out of the house instead of dying for a night when we could all just stay home. Some of my fondest parenting memories are of fall, when my toddler son and I would head up every afternoon to the fields behind the Natatorium to watch the UW Marching Band practice. We could while away the "witching hour"-- the dreaded stretch from naptime until dinner-- listening to the strains of "On Wisconsin" and "Roll Out the Barrel."
Neighborhood construction was another welcome "what to do when you have nothing to do" time-passer. My oldest son, passionate about heavy machinery from the day he was born, could distinguish a front loader from a backhoe long before he could walk. I think he may have said cherry picker before he said Mama. Man, would he have loved to attend Madison's inaugural "Big Rig Gig" , a showcase of city construction equipment big, loud and dirty, at the Goodman Pool parking lot. If I could force myself to find the time, maybe he and I can bring my three-year-old nephew down this Saturday and relive the days of when "Here Comes a Dump Truck" was the preferred tape in the VCR. I wonder if my son can even remember that time, long before Netflix streaming, when we actually owned a VCR.
I'm writing this post at 6 a.m. Saturday. My son is up as well. We were both awakened by the sounds of the UW Marching band's crack-of-dawn practice before their first Saturday morning game. It is a gentle, if not ungodly early, reminder of that time not so long ago when he and I made plans vs. felt so planned out. And it isn't like we don't need to be up anyway. We have a soccer game at eight. It's on the calendar, in yellow.comments powered by Disqus
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
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.