We aren't much more than a week in to summer vacation and already my kids have broken every "screen time" rule I've laid down, have eaten popsicles -- just popsicles, mind you -- for dinner, and have mastered 101 creative ways to let me know just how bored they are. I totally sympathize with Phineas and Ferb's older sister; we all need a little more structure to our days.
But all whining aside, both theirs and mine, there's a lot to be said for June, July and August in Madison. No snow (let's hope), Mallards' games, Farmers' Market and the return of Babcock Union Utopia-flavored evenings on the Terrace. But perhaps one of my favorite things about summer in and around town is the plethora of festivals the weekends bring. A couple weeks back it was the chance to do some 11 a.m. dancing to Bonobo Secret Handshake's rousing cover of "Groove Is In The Heart" at the Marquette Waterfront Festival. And last Saturday brought even more lakeside booty shaking, this time at Wingra Park's Jazz in the Park.
This weekend is no exception, with even more fabulous family-friendly festivities. And what I like best in particular about a couple of these offerings is how they honor two distinct cultures in our area. One pays homage to a community's Swiss heritage; New Glarus is whole lot more than a brewery. The second is a celebration of all things Latin American, but conveniently located on Madison's south side.
As my daughter learned in social studies this past school year, northern Europeans settled much of the Dairy State--- a hearty stock well represented by the characters of Heidi , Johanna Spyri's classic Swiss children's story. And the pre-Katniss heroine in braids gets her moment in the sun this coming weekend at New Glarus' annual Heidi Festival. The event gets off to a yummy start on Saturday with the Taste of New Glarus. And there is a craft fair in the village park both weekend days.
But the festival highlight is a chance to take in one of four performances of the famed Alps orphan's tale in the air-conditioned auditorium of New Glarus High School. The play is staged by local actors and features both live goats and kittens; it's hard to go wrong with cute furry animals.
On Saturday, June 23 only, a little closer to home (my home at least), Nuesta Fiesta 2012, formerly Fiesta Hispana, will be taking place at Centro Hispano on West Badger Road. The celebration is Dane County's premier salute to Latin American culture and will play host to big musical performances from Quinto Imperio (a cumbia band from Chicago), Bompleneras, an all female bomba/plena group (from the Windy City, as well), and Francisco Gonzalez, one of the founders of Los Lobos. Fiesta Hispana will also feature a low rider car show, lots of kids' activities and, of course, delicious food. I am hoping to sample some tamales de huitlacoche, the delicacy I miss most from the years I lived in Mexico.
So this summer, when I hear the first strains of a "What are we going to do today?" complaint, I'll remind the kids that the weekend, and some festival fun, isn't too far away.
And that neither is school in September. Thank goodness.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.