If you celebrate Christmas, whether in a secular or religious way, and even if you don't, it's hard to deny there's a lot of beauty to appreciate in the season. I kind of wish malls decorated their interiors all year long; boughs of holly certainly go a long way in warming up the dull, windowless interior of West Towne.
And I'll never cease to be impressed by the yuletide creativity of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Nothing says Happy Holidays quite as brightly as the lit-up Packer and Badger helmets at Fantasy in Lights in Olin Park. I enjoy hearing carols playing in the dentist's office and seeing trees tied precariously to the tops of cars on their way to prominent living room displays. But, perhaps because I am a mother, my favorite sensory display of the season has always been the nativity scene.
Because feel as you may about the dueling creches at the State Capitol, they always remind me that the Christmas story is essentially a birth story. And everyone loves a good birth story.
I have three of my own and they are all different. The first took place in a busy downtown Chicago hospital and was aided by modern medication. While my birth plan had been somewhat non-specific on the whole drug thing, the nurse on duty that night told me the closest thing they got to natural childbirth at Northwestern Hospital was a mom without a pedicure. The pushing was long and hard, but the prize well worth it"healthy son number one.
The second was my first Madison birth. I remember being extremely impressed by the plush birthing suite at Meriter, as well as with the attentive nurses who tried (unsuccessfully) to convince me I didn't need an epidural. I felt a bit bad letting them down, but enjoyed the controlled, calm delivery. Calm, that is, until my second son appeared with the cord wrapped three times around his neck. He's been good for surprises ever since.
My final delivery was more closely akin to a short story than a novel. I went to the hospital bright and early on a Monday a.m., evidently fully dilated. Within 20 minutes I had a little girl. I still prize my daughter's efficiency, even though I felt a little gypped there wasn't time during labor for the lower back massage the midwives had promised.
My stories, quite abbreviated here, all took place at hospitals. There were no mangers, no sheep, and no angels, unless of course you count the resident who administered the epidurals. And while I would have loved to have three, or even more, wise men come bearing gifts, I settled for just one, my husband, bearing a milk shake instead of myrrh, the only thing I craved, except snuggling my baby, in the hours immediately following delivery.
But a seeing a nativity scene will always make me smile. Because whether made of painted tin, or whittled wood, or even brightly colored plastic with a removable camel saddle like the Playmobil version, they all celebrate something beautiful"the welcoming of a child.
And even when the night leading up to the birth isn't silent, these stories are holy to someone. And always worthy of being told.comments powered by Disqus
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
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.