I always get a little wistful upon hearing that a favorite retailer or brand is going out of business. When I learned of the shuttering of all Borders last year, I felt nothing but sympathy for the future generation of neighborhood parents. Where, if not the children's section and coffee shop of the near west side location, would they while away the pre-pre-school hours, as I so often did, on a freezing February day?
And the liquidation of Filene's Basement outlets last month marked the end of an era for this markdown maven. It was the place, after all, "Where Bargains Were Born." Perhaps the one bit of bright side to the discounter's demise was my son's ability to score a mannequin for twenty-five bucks on the store's last day of operation in downtown Chicago. His dad and I had no idea he'd always dreamed of owning a department store fixture.
But there was something about the announcement of the Kodak Company's potential bankruptcy last week that got me feeling particularly nostalgic.
It was a reminder that my parents had recorded just about every memory of my youth on Kodak paper. Those photos, chronicling every birthday, holiday and my big theatrical break playing "Sweet Besty From Pike" in the 4th grade musical are still stored in cookie tins in my mom's apartment. And while yellowing a bit, they are just waiting to be touched, organized, and sifted through whenever my kids and I go to visit her. Trust me, there is nothing more entertaining for children than seeing their mother at age 9, sporting a 70s shag and looking horribly uncomfortable in pioneer attire.
But I am clearly part of the problem that led to the film giant's demise. Because those few "Kodak" moments I do have of my kids' childhoods are stored on my computer or phone. I don't think I've actually printed a photo since 2008. I don't even own a real camera. And this makes me wonder how my middle-school son might explain, for instance, the ubiquitous "Beiber" haircut of his youth to his kids someday, if not through tactile photographic proof?
Sure, I have a few albums stored in the attic that display my baby's first smiles, steps and forays into solids, but other than that, Facebook is my historian. And yes, Facebook's timeline is a lot easier to master than the fine art of scrapbooking, not to mention clutter-friendly in a small home. But I can't help but feel that it's a bit wrong for a social media site and "cloud" somewhere to be fully taking the place of printed memories.
So if nothing else, the impending loss of the Kodak brand reminds me that it might be worth getting a few images of my children's childhood committed to paper. Because it's one thing to post on Twitter about my son's joy in walking down Michigan Avenue carrying a nude plastic torso--unquestionably his highlight of Winter Break 2011. But it's fully another to honor the moment in Filene's Basement where they first met through an actual 4 X 6 photograph.
And with that, I am off to Photo Express.
So, RIP Filene's and Kodak; you will be missed. But I thank you for the memories...and Manny, the mannequin.comments powered by Disqus
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.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
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 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.