While my higher-minded friends were busy devouring classics like Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, I was the kid more likely to be hunkered down with a couple hours worth of "Two-Minute Mysteries." Attention span has never really been my strength. And despite a sincere crush on Pa in the TV series, I could never fully relate to the rest of the Ingalls family in any of the "Little House" books. It didn't matter whether they were "In the Big Woods", "On the Banks of Plum Creek" or even "On The Prairie," homesteading just didn't do it for me. I was more into The Outsidersanything Judy Blume and Tiger Beat. I guess I wanted my heroes, heroines and teenybopper crushes to have come of age after 1950 (this would include Michael Landon, right?).
Sure, I may have read quite a bit, but I never really considered myself "literary". Books and magazines were pure entertainment, not something, I thought, to celebrate or revere. It never once occurred to me to go---or for my parents to take me--- to a book festival. To be fair, they never took me to a musical festival or film festival, either. I guess you could say we were equal opportunity non-festival goers.
Perhaps we didn't go to these things because they didn't exist in the 1970s. Or maybe, because growing up in up a large city, these kinds of events seemed daunting and chaotic, especially for people like my Mom and Dad who would have had to escort four, not always perfectly behaved, children.
But I don't really have the same excuses in Madison, WI in 2012. Getting downtown is quite manageable. And I only have three kids, all well past the tantrum age. So I will plan to hit the Wisconsin Book Festival this week. Because if you have kids, regardless of their ages or passions, the free, five-day program dedicated to all things "word," will definitely have something of interest for them.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, for instance, you can take your animal lover to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum to hear Maria Goodavage , author of Soldier Dogs, tell the story of the role service dogs have played throughout military history. And all day on the 9th has been dubbed High School Friday with tons of programming just for teens. From published authors, to writing workshops, to a First Wave spoken word evening event that will bring "page poets" and "stage poets" together at the Overture Center, it's chock full of first-rate programming. Saturday brings a highlight with Milwaukee's renowned children's theater, First Stage, presenting a 45-minute story/drama workshop based on the beloved Lois Ehlert's Mole's Hill, to be followed by a book signing with the Caldecott-winning author and illustrator. And to top it all off, your own child can become a "published" author on Sunday by attending a hands-on pop-up bookmaking workshop at Anthology on State Street.
This year's Book Fest theme is "Lost and Found" -- and it seems apropos. Because while I may have lost out on getting introduced to these kinds of events when I was a kid, I am hopeful I can find my "literary" mojo -- and begin to instill some in my kids -- this coming weekend.comments powered by Disqus
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.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.