March Madness is intoxicating, even for people like me who have absolutely no interest in basketball. I love hearing my husband and kids talk about brackets and busting. And it's also an excellent way to begin discussing the concept of a college search. All three of my children were eager to know where schools like Murray State, St. Bonaventure and Belmont were located. Thanks to my friends at Google I now know the answers are Kentucky, New York and Tennessee, respectively.
But "Madness" doesn't begin to touch the way I was feeling heading onto campus for a meeting last Friday morning. As I do every year, I'd forgotten about the traffic insanity caused by thousands of high school basketball players and their families descending upon the isthmus in hopes of a Wisconsin state hoops championship. I could have cart wheeled onto campus faster than it took me to drive from my front door to the appropriately named parking lot under the "Lucky" building ---I may just have snagged the very last parking place in the Library Mall vicinity.
But the twenty-minute standstill I encountered turning left off Johnson onto Lake allowed me time to reflect on what's so darn cool about having this tournament in town. Yes, it's inspiring for kids to get to play on the same floor as their beloved Wisconsin Badgers. And based on the overflow crowd at every State Street restaurant, the economic benefits of being the host city are pretty clear.
But as I sat stagnant, I thought about the fact that this tournament began just two days after I chaperoned my daughter's fourth grade class on a fabulous field trip to the state Capitol. We had perfect weather, an outrageously knowledgeable tour guide, and the chance to sit in the Senate chambers. The trip culminated with a private lunch in a marble-walled meeting room with Representative Leon Young of Milwaukee's 16th district---a classmate's mom is his legislative aide.
You'd think the kids would be impressed, right? But while they were polite and appreciative, especially of the corn chips given to us by the members of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association who we met in the hall, this was a group of kids that the Capitol is old hat for. Probably full two thirds of them had dutifully joined their parents for a few rounds s of "What's Disgusting? Union Busting" at the height of protests last winter. I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of them had even participated in rotunda sleepovers. And when the tour guide asked this particular group of fourth graders who did the Capitol belong to, they didn't miss a beat. "It's our house," they all chimed in.
But it's possible many of the kids coming in for the state basketball tournament had never set foot in Madison before, much less seen the glorious granite Capitol building up close and personal. Sure, for many the hallowed halls of the Kohl Center might have had more meaning in the heat of tournament action. But hopefully they all got a sense that Madison is more than just the home of the Badgers and a chance to eat at Dotty Dumplings or State Street Brats. I hope being in the capital city served as a reminder that regardless of their or their parent's political persuasions, they should be proud to be from, not just to play in, the state of Wisconsin.
There have been many discussions surrounding the potential movement of the tournament from Madison. For me, it's not just a question of whether Green Bay says football instead of basketball. Or if their parking and hotels are more affordable.
Because Green Bay certainly does have a lot to offer---the iconic Lambeau Field, an interesting meat packing history and the National Railroad Museum.
But these students are playing for the Wisconsin State Championship. And Madison has their house.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.