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
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.