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
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.
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.