There are times when figuring out what to write about doesn't come easily. Weeks with no obvious holiday tie-in, no top-of-mind funny kid story, or no crisis in the parenting world are always a bit of a challenge.
And then you have a week like last week. The blog-post-idea heavens opened up and didn't just sprinkle or drip. It was a complete and total downpour.
As of last Tuesday I was sure this week's piece would be a tribute to Maurice Sendak. I didn't grow up in a house with a ton of children's picture books. My dad was a visual artist and a bit of an illustration snob. Lots of kids' fare drove him nuts. But not Sendak's. My siblings and I went to bed every night with Little Bear and Where The Wild Things Are images dancing through our heads. And I'm pretty sure my life long aversion to cooking can still be attributed to seeing Mickey swim around the "morning cake" batter of In the Night Kitchen.
But then came Wednesday and President Obama's long-awaited affirmation that same-sex couples should be able to get married . How could I not use my 500 or so words for the week to attempt to wax eloquent on how his public support must feel to two mom and two dad households. My life changed forever the day I got married. For me it didn't feel like the continuation of living together or a small step forward; everything was immediately different. There was something about the ceremony, coupled with the legality, that emotionally hinged my now husband and I together. So I wanted to write about how amazing it is to have a president who supports a gay couple's right to feel the same way.
And then came Thursday and the outrageously sensational Time magazine cover. No better way to charge up Mother's Day celebrations nationwide than to throw down the parenting gauntlet with a loaded question like "Are You Mom Enough?" accompanied by a picture of an extremely attractive young mother breastfeeding a child clearly old enough to drink from a cup. The ideas were spinning around in my head. Should I write a post on extended breastfeeding perhaps? I did it with two out of three. Or maybe a few words on attachment parenting (what the article is actually about)? Or perhaps just save my comments for this coming December when that mom, or that kid, is inevitably named Time Magazine Person of the Year for making the newsweekly so relevant again?
But all this got pushed aside on Friday when the Mitt Romney the bully story broke. I've always struggled to find the best way to deal with bullying in the blog. Do I share a personal story? Write about the movie? Talk to an expert? And now we find out the likely Republican Party presidential nominee was an absolute jerk beyond measure during high school. And the fact that he refers to the forcible shearing of a fellow classmate, which he claims not to remember, as "hijinks and pranks"? This was no crank call, Mr. Romney; it sounded more like an assault. Do I think people can change from who they were in high school? Of course. But even so, this was an incredibly disturbing thing to hear about a man who'd like to be the leader of the free world.
So I guess what I've ended up with for this week is a bit of a hodgepodge; a sprinkling of half-posts instead of anything in-depth. And for this I apologize.
But I guess sprinkles are what you end up with when its pouring ideas.
I could probably use a bit of a dry spell.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.