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
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.