When I was a kid, all the parents in my neighborhood seemed to have mighty plans for New Years Eve. I remember my mom dressing up -- satin, pantyhose, and wicked high heels -- to go somewhere special. I'm not sure I ever actually knew where she and my dad were going, but it was clear you couldn't get there without perfume and shiny lipstick. And every year they landed my siblings' and my favorite baby sitter for the occasion. Her name was Diane and she was the embodiment of everything cool about the early 70s. She had stick-straight Marcia Brady hair parted down the middle, wore puka beads, and brought America's debut album tucked under her arm each time she came over. I still can't help but think of her whenever "The Horse with No Name" comes on the radio.
Once I got to middle school, my parent's NYE social life died down to stay home with my younger siblings, allowing me to become the early 80s version of Diane. Every year I looked forward to earning at least double pay (I think I cleared almost 50 bucks once) to watch the neighbor kids while their parents hit the middle-age party circuit. It is my sincere hope the three Michnick children, now all at least 40, remember me every time they accidentally encounter "Bette Davis Eyes" or "The Pina Colada Song."
But I've never once gotten a babysitter for my own kids on New Year's Eve. My husband and I moved to Madison when our oldest was 10 months old and settled, blissfully so, into a very child-friendly neighborhood. So child-friendly in fact, that for years the 'hood had a tradition of rotating New Year's Eve parties that you bought your kids to. If Auld Lang Syne was sung at any of these events, it was definitely done before the clock struck nine.
Eventually the number of kids in our four-block radius made it impossible for anyone to host these gatherings at their home without needing to call in a professional cleaning crew the next day. And with that, the party jumped the shark and moved to the basement of the neighborhood church. As you might imagine, it's a little hard to let loose New Year's style with so many statues of saints looking on. The all-neighborhood party tradition ended a year or two later.
On the NYE's that followed we tried outdoor ice-skating, at-home fondue and family trips downtown for US Bank Eve to check out the Rick Wilcox magic show. But the only person I've actually seen dressed to the nines on December 31 these past 14 years has been the magician's lovely assistant Susan, who sported at least three wardrobe changes, all involving sequins, at last year's performance.
I'm sure I haven't really missed much on the 31st since becoming a parent, but there is a piece of me that thinks it might be fun to do something grown-up this year. The holiday falls on a Saturday night, after all. But I'll be honest; I have no idea what to do. A four-course dinner at a downtown restaurant? Live music at a club?
Do any of you parents out there actually go out for New Year's Eve in the traditional "champagne popping, ball drops at midnight, I have something better to do than watch the weirdly intriguing pair of Justin Beiber and Carlos Santana on Dick Clark" kind of way?
If so, do share.
Because I'd be happy to share a sitter--I'm pretty sure my 14 year old is available.
And 30 years from now your kids can hear "Sexy and I Know It" and think fondly of him.comments powered by Disqus
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition. It was my husband who had originally signed up to chaperone the event, thinking that spending a few days with his 11-year-old daughter and her compatriots would serve as an excellent anthropological experience. But when an unexpected work obligation made it impossible for him to attend, it was me left holding the bag
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
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.