All the girls in my summer camp cabin knew every song on Carole King's "Tapestry" by heart. It was the mid-1970s and that album, along with a little John Denver and the "Free to Be, You and Me" soundtrack were mainstays on our counselor's 8-track tape player. But I always kind of doubted I would ever get my chance to "(Feel Like) A Natural Woman," the final song on King's record. Given my borderline abuse of both Sun-In and Coppertone sunless tanner that summer, no one would dare use the word "natural" to describe anything about me -- especially my brassy orange hair and matching skin color.
While I've fortunately grown out of my Oompa Loompa phase, I still can't make the claim of being all natural, at least when it comes to personal grooming. With gray-obscuring highlights in my hair and fancy face creams with ingredients I cannot pronounce in my medicine cabinet, I am using the best modern chemistry has to offer to ward off the inevitable signs of aging.
To be honest, I'd probably never qualify as a poster child for natural parenting, either. Years ago, when I was three centimeters dilated with my oldest son and painfully pondering whether or not to have an epidural, my labor and delivery nurse told me that the closest thing she'd ever witnessed to natural childbirth at the downtown Chicago hospital was a mom-to-be sans pedicure. Not wanting to break with tradition, I leaned over, stared at my bright pink toenails and welcomed the needle in my back.
I happily went the spinal block route for son number two, as well. And while there was no opportunity for anything even resembling pain relief during my daughter's speedy delivery, I wouldn't have minded a little bit of something--even a glass of wine, perhaps--if time had permitted.
I did nurse all three kids, though, the two younger ones well in to their toddler years. But it wasn't just health or attachment concerns that caused me to unhook my bra every couple hours for the better part of my thirties. No, I was an extended breast feeder for the same reasons many people eat at fast food restaurants--it was quick, cheap and didn't involve me washing dishes (or in this case, bottles).
I think if I had to do babyhood all over again, I might look in to more of the hallmarks of holistic parenting. Cloth diapers? I love the idea of a service that comes to my house, picks up at least some part of my dirty laundry, and then brings back a fresh batch clean. And babywearing? As a woman looking for any excuse to indulge in a new accessory, I think I would have reveled in having an entire wardrobe of one-of-a-kind slings made out of gorgeous, breathable fabrics.
But for those of you who still have time to fully embrace the natural parenting trend, definitely plan on heading down to Monona Terrace this coming Sunday, March 10, for the city's first-ever Natural Parenting Expo . The organizers of the event recognize that the phrase natural parenting means different things to different people, and with over 39,000 square feet of exhibitors, entertainment and educational opportunities, there is sure to be something for everyone.
From a kid-friendly "Make Your Own Pizza Garden" demonstration, to presentations on GMOs, herbicides and hormones in food, to an interactive tween yoga class, you and your whole family are sure to come away inspired. Me? I'm most likely to try to hit the babywearing fashion show at noon, where I fully expect the models to sashay down the runway to the strains of "A Natural Woman."
And I'll be envious. Because they'll actually be able to mean it.comments powered by Disqus
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.