In many ways, the most important skill necessary for motherhood is the ability to execute a good plan. I plan summer activities, lunchbox surprises (not all are good), and carpool schedules. I used to plan play dates, although I think my kids would prefer to call it "hanging out" with a friend now. I have plans for the past (finally downloading last summer's photos off my phone) as well as for the future (college savings).
But this week my planning skills are firmly rooted in the present, as this weekend is my daughter's 10th birthday party. And she does not take planning this "major milestone" event lightly. It's her first double-digit birthday she has reminded me multiple times. This one has to be good.
For some reason, planning my sons' parties was never been much of a big deal. They were both huge laser tag fans. Most years we honored the days they were born by letting them shoot at their friends at Ultrazone. A couple pizzas and a store-bought sheet cake later, they were happily ready to take on their successive age.
But my daughter has never made it easy on me. She wants all her parties at home. Charming and quaint, I know. And a lot harder than it sounds.
We've gone the dress-as-your-favorite-animal route with cupcakes decorated like cats. Pin-the-tail-on-the-doggie and zoo-themed charades definitely worked in those early elementary school years. One year we attempted a classic (she was going for classy) tea party. Unfortunately her brother and his friends made it feel much more like the Boston Tea Party though when they came barreling through the door acting like junkies in search of a sugar fix during cake cutting.
A couple years back she wanted to try a slumber party, and I, in a moment of weakness, said yes. My daughter has now learned the hard way there are two kinds of sleepover participants in the world. She is in the minority type -- those who intend (and actually need) to sleep. Unfortunately, most of her friends fall into the overwhelming (and not-so-silent) majority -- those who come with the declared intention of staying up giggling all night.
After the sleepover disaster of 2009, a variation we affectionately refer to as a "sleep under" was tried. My daughter's buddies once again came to the party armed with sleeping bags and slippers. But after the games were played, the presents were opened and the movie was watched, parents were instructed to pick up their pajama-clad girls no later than 9:30 p.m. The party was a huge success: I'm thinking of claiming the concept as intellectual property.
This Saturday night though, no one will be wearing nightwear. We are going for a "10" theme instead to mark this transition to her next decade. She has invited ten guests and will be playing a trivia game that has involves ten questions. We are still searching for a good movie to watch that has "ten" in the title. And it can't involve Bo Derek in a swimsuit or Charlton Heston ascending Mount Sinai. We will even supply ten options for toppings at the "make your own sundae" bar my daughter has requested in lieu of a cake. I'm not yet sure where we'll be putting the ten candles.
But one thing's for sure; I will have very few plans for Sunday when it is over. Except, of course, to rest. Because I'm sure come Monday she'll already be making plans for her eleventh.
And I'll be planning right along with her.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.