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
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.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.