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
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.
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.