It hasn't really felt much like spring lately, which is probably the reason I've been in complete denial that next week is spring break. And religious observances aside, my family has absolutely no plans to fill the no-school-for-six-days-in-a-row void. I'm cutting myself some slack on this one. It is pretty hard, after all, to find the time (not to mention money) to book airline tickets and hotel rooms in warm and exotic locales when all you've done for the month of March is alternate shoveling snow off sidewalks with bailing water out of a flooded basement.
Yes, Spring Break 2013 will definitely be a staycation for the Judge family. But this, my children, doesn't necessarily mean it has to be a painful week filled only with household chores and the opportunity to watch your parents do taxes.
Instead, I assure you, that while not quite Panama City Beach, Florida, the self-proclaimed "Spring Break Capital of the World," there are some definite good times to be had just a hop, skip and a jump away from our near-west Madison home.
First stop on our "It Doesn't Really Feel Like Spring"-Break tour will most likely be a trans-isthmus adventure to the east side. We haven't been to Olbrich Gardens for quite some time. If still cold, there is the inside dome. And if this cold snap lets up even a little, it should be a terrific time of year to check out Olbrich's 16 acres of outdoor display gardens including the gorgeous Thai Pavilion -- the only one in the continental United States.
I'm sure the kids will understand that if we can't actually be on the beaches of Phuket, this is a pretty close facsimile. Especially if I promise we'll go out for Pad Lad Nar at Bahn Thai afterwards.
And on another one of our days off we can give the north side a whirl, and grab a bite at Pat O'Malley's Jet Room, the family-friendly restaurant located in the Wisconsin Aviation building at the Dane County Regional Airport. Because even if my kids and I aren't leaving on a jet plane, we can attempt to live vicariously through the sight of the fortunate travelers milling about us, proudly flaunting their carry-on bags filled with sunscreen.
Maybe at the end of the week we can head south on Park Street and pop in to Family Fun Night: Juegos, Adivinanzas y Trabalenguas (Games, Riddle and Wordplay) on March 29 at the Madison Public Library's Goodman South Madison Branch. Because both my older kids are taking Spanish in school this year, and this bilingual event might help me to find out if their vocabularies have expanded beyond the ability to count to "diez" and order effectively at a Tex-Mex restaurant.
It likely won't measure up to an actual trip to Cancun, I am sure. But at least we won't have to worry about the hassle of passports.
And if we are feeling really adventurous, maybe I'll muster up the courage for a road trip. But given that I don't love driving and my oldest hasn't been behind the wheel since the week he got his learner's permit, we'll probably be better off picking somewhere close. Fortunately, the excellent site Road Trips for Families has many great travel ideas within a reasonable drive from Dane County. And if we really want to get our Lewis and Clark on, we can dare to cross the border into Iowa -- I've heard some pretty awesome things about the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque.
Because in the end, it's not just the destination, but also the journey, that makes family vacations so special, right?
Even when the journey is very, very short.
And taking place with snow tires still on the car.comments powered by Disqus
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
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.