With the exception of attending an occasional Badger game when the temperature is just right (I'm quite literally a "fair weather fan"), I haven't historically had much interest in football. I may never understand what a down is, and to my uneducated eyes, every play looks like roughing the passer or holding of some sort. Being totally robbed of the college football experience certainly hasn't helped matters. Just this past weekend the New York Times ran a piece on my alma mater's long standing tradition of pigskin mediocrity, highlighting our ever-popular "Thucydides" cheer. Who needs a dance team, mascots, or the even the ability to run the ball, when you have The History of the Peloponnesian War on your side?
But my husband is from Oklahoma and worships all things Sooner; he plans each and every fall Saturday around OU's sacred schedule. So I wasn’t the least bit surprised when earlier this summer he suggested we adopt Friday Night Lights, the recently-wrapped NBC series about the trials and tribulations of a fictional high school football team in Texas, as our new "show". Sure, I might have preferred to keep up with the Kardashians, or at least with Khloe and Lamar, but I agreed to watch despite my lackof interest in anything gridiron. The attractive cast in the Netflix teaser coaxed out my inner Mrs. Robinson, and expecting little more than eye candy encased in shoulder pads and jerseys, I settled in to the first episode.
I won't spoil any plotlines for the uninitiated, but suffice it to say if you've watched even one episode (actually, much like Lay's Potato Chips, it's impossible that anyone can stop at one) you understand why I have fallen completely at this mercy of this 43-minutes-without-commercial interruption drama. Forget my children, forget work, forget the fourth night of dirty dinner dishes overgrowing the sink --I need my fix every evening. Sometimes I need two or three episodes in a row to reach my FNL high.
I've seen every episode of Friends at least three times, yet I've never wanted to spend the better part of my days hanging out in a coffee shop. I genuinely admired Six Feet Under but never thought for an instant about opening a funeral home. But there is something so intensely personal about Friday Night Lights that it has caused a sea change in my personal life. The folks of the make-believe town of Dillon feel like genuine friends. And football, high school football that is, is poised to become my new favorite sport.
My oldest son started at Madison West this year, but he's not, and probably never will be on the team. Any dreams had of touchdown glory were dashed during his participation in a 5th grade youth league where he discovered that in football you don't just get to hit, but that you must like getting hit as well. But the fact that I don't actually know anybody on the West High team won't deter me from attending this Friday night's sure-to-be-epic game against cross-town rival East. No, I have no idea what a Regent, much less a Purgolder, is, but I'll be totally disappointed if the excitement of this game doesn't live up to the hype surrounding the "Clash of the Cats" (the East Dillon vs. West Dillon showdown) in the Season 4 finale. Sure, it will probably feel weird to celebrate West's Homecoming at Madison Memorial's field (this would never fly in Dillon), but I plan, just like FNL's well-heeled boosters, to be swept away by the pageantry and emotion, even if it is set across the street from West Towne Mall as opposed to in the heart of West Texas.
My son is a bit embarrassed (ok, maybe horrified) that I am planning on going to the game. He's worried that I'll be "that Mom", the one that can't seem to separate her own high school experience from that of her child. Just wait till he finds out it's not my own glory days I'm trying to relive, but that of fictional characters from the Lone Star State. He's already requested that I sit far away from him and his friends, and perhaps that's for the best. I certainly don't want him to catch wind of my disappointment when I learn that the West High coach doesn't speak with a southern drawl or look a bit like Coach Taylor.
And he'd probably prefer that no one knows I'm his mother when I take to the locker room during halftime to deliver the "Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose" pep talk.?
But regardless of whether or the Regents win or lose, I have the yet-still-unwatched Season 5 waiting for me at my "homecoming". Perched on the living room couch, I will plan to savor each of these final 13 episodes. Because unlike my own high school years, Friday Night Lights is an experience that I wish would never end.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.