One of the many skills mother's have in common is the ability to smell an excuse a mile away. No, my dear son, being unable to tear yourself away from the end of an Olympic fencing match, even a finals, is not a good reason for neglecting to mow the lawn in a timely fashion. And it seems fishy to me that my darling daughter can memorize an entire season's worth of iCarly dialogue but can't seem to remember to unpack the dishwasher a mere ten minutes after I've made the request. I have my children's hearing tested every year at their physicals; they pass with flying colors. So sorry guys, but "I didn't hear you ask" just isn't going to fly as justification for why the beds still aren't made at noon.
But in all fairness, the kids aren't the only ones in the house floating clichéd excuses for avoiding domestic chores. I have a million of them. Especially when it comes to making dinner. From "I didn't have time to get to the store" to "It's way too hot to turn on the oven" to "The dog ate the recipe" (or the ingredients, depending on the night), I can always come up with a "good" reason for avoiding the kitchen.But now I finally have a terrific excuse for not cooking. Next week, August 13th-18th, is Dane County CASA's inaugural "Caring for Kids Week"(PDF). During this time period, participating area restaurants will donate a percentage of their day's proceeds to CASA, a Madison-based organization that provides community advocates to abused and neglected kids.
For those of you unfamiliar with CASA, the acronym stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. The mission of the organization is to provide an independent voice for children who are under the legal protection of the Dane County Court System. CASA does this by training, supporting and supervising volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected kids in both the community and the courts. These volunteers are the "eyes and ears" of "the system," helping the courts to make informed decisions about these kids with the hopes of placing them in safe, permanent homes as soon as possible.
So any opportunity to support this great organization, while simultaneously avoiding the dishes, is just too good for me to pass up. Perhaps my husband and I can plan to hit A Pig in a Fur Coat on Monday. Who says, after all, that date night has to be a weekend? And Tuesday the whole family can do Flat Top Grill. Because creating your own stir-fry is kind of like cooking, right? Then, on Wednesday we'll take on the Nitty Gritty (Middleton), even when it's nobody's birthday. And these are just a few of the restaurants that are involved.
And for those wanting a dining experience that will allow them to learn even more about CASA programs and opportunities for volunteering, the not-for-profit will be hosting two very special luncheons during "Caring for Kids Week". Both (at Samba on Wednesday, 8/15, and Brocach Capitol Square Thursday, 8/16) will feature an educational simulation of a child's journey through the court system.
So I guess you could say next week will be a week filled with excuses. Excuses for not cooking, starting my diet, or for one too many margaritas (Pasqual's at Hilldale is in on the action).
But at least I won't have an excuse for not helping out a very worthwhile organization.
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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.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.