Shoe Slide , which gets a fresh coat of paint each summer courtesy of the Art Cart, the free, traveling art program co-sponsored by MSCR and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, is among my favorite works of public art in the city. Not that Camp Randall's "Nails' Tales" really gives it much competition.">
Next Tuesday and Wednesday (July 17 and 18), many of Madison's littlest graffiti artists will converge on Vilas Park to give a Little Old Lady's dwelling an extreme, and colorful, home makeover.
There is little question that the Shoe Slide , which gets a fresh coat of paint each summer courtesy of the Art Cart, the free, traveling art program co-sponsored by MSCR and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, is among my favorite works of public art in the city. Not that Camp Randall's "Nails' Tales" really gives it much competition.
Yet, I always get a bit wistful watching the annual play structure/footwear transformation. When my kids were younger we spent hours at the Vilas playground; sliding down the shoe was always a highlight. I still remember when my oldest -- he was probably no more than five at the time -- asked me if he'd ever get the chance to help out with the painting. And I said sure, I'd look into it. I told him we'd try to do it some day.
But as always I got busy, distracted, or just plain lazy, and some day never came. And now, at age 15, my son is probably too old to take part in the project. And this got me thinking, wouldn't it be great if some sort of catalogue of all the youthful experiences every Madison-area kid should have was handed out to new parents at area birthing centers along with the formula samples (do they still do that?) and cord care info? You know, a kind of bucket list of "What to Do Before Your Kid Hits 13."
Here are a few things I'd start with, in no particular order. Most of these are obvious -- kind of like painting the Shoe Slide. But they are the kinds of things that might just slip through your fingers if you aren't careful.
Riding the Merry-Go-Round at Ella's Deli. According to Ella's website there are only 75 original carousels in the country, and one of them is at this East Washington institution. Just think about it, where else in the world can a kid eat matzo ball soup, an ice cream sundae and take a ride on a painted pony all in the span of an hour?
A run on the "Hamster Wheel" at the Madison Children's Museum. Yes, it's kind of ridiculous. But it's also ridiculously fun. Who knew imitating a rodent could offer such pleasure for kids and adults alike?
Attend a Kevin Henkes Reading. A couple of times each year Madison's beloved Caldecott-winner gives a public reading somewhere in town. Yes, his mice are a miracle all on their own. But for a child to get the chance to hear straight from the author/illustrator's mouth how Lilly, Wemberley and Penny came to be is an absolutely priceless experience.
Go To a Ken Lonnquist Show. I was never much one for kids' music when my guys were little. No Raffi, no Barney, no Wiggles. But Lonnquist is a singer-songwriter of a different color. His stuff is original, thoughtful and mostly hysterical. Yes, my kids are older now, but they still regularly call me "Hurricane Mom," inspired by one of his classics.
First Ice Cream Cone at the Memorial Union. It was here, on a warm summer's day, that I first discovered my mild mannered second son was not so mild mannered after all. For a toddler, he was an excellent sharer -- especially when it came to toys. But not, as it turns out, for Blue Moon ice cream cones. He would not give me a single bite. And I didn't blame him.
Ride the Drive A kid can ride in the street without getting yelled at. Enough said.
Mac and Cheese Pizza at Ian's. Kids can ingest their two favorite foods in one slice, in one meal. Enough said, again.
No, this list is by no means exhaustive. I'd love if you left your own "must do" suggestions in the comments.
And in the meantime, I'll get started on a list for teens and tweens.
Any chance the university would consider letting my son and his friends paint "Nails' Tales"? I kind of owe it to him.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.