I apologize in advance if this post is a little less than well thought through. I'm exhausted from this past weekend, when, for the first time in almost three years, my entire extended family descended on the near west side of Madison -- in order to celebrate my younger son's Bar Mitzvah.
It was a wonderfully chaotic weekend. With a strong emphasis on the chaotic.
My mother, daughter and dog slept on the pull out couch in the living room, my sister-in-law in my daughter's room. My sister's house, just a mile away from mine, was overrun with more variations on a blow up mattress than are showcased in the latest issue of the Sky Mall catalogue. And I'm pretty sure a different constellation of nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles slept on a different one of those mattresses each and every night.
My dad and his wife, who value their privacy and the desire not to have to maneuver around a Lego obstacle course first thing in the morning, wisely rented a hotel room within walking distance from both my sister's and my home, While no one besides them slept in their little suite, it offered ample opportunity for daytime entertainment in the form of a full line-up of cable TV channels and a Keurig coffee maker. I am both thankful, and a little amazed, at how long both Nickelodeon reruns and the ability to make pod after pod of hot chocolate (in less than two minutes, no less) can keep two pre-kindergarteners, my nephews, entertained.
Some of my relatives drove to town. The parade of gray minivans parked out front of the house last Saturday afternoon closely resembled the used car lot at a Honda dealership. Other family members flew in; I have driven back and forth to the Dane County airport no less than 10 times in the past four days. I have sliced over six-dozen bagels and brewed at least 15 pots of coffee.
We played round after round of Quiddler, Uno and Go Fish. And acted out, three times, at the insistence of my five-year-old nephew, what felt like the entire plotline of some Star Wars movie I've never seen. I was always cast as General Grievous (a "very bad guy" my nephew tells me) and had to master some serious, and physically demanding, light-saber moves.
Next time I'm going to insist I'm Princess Leia.
My family laughed a lot, as we always do, and cried even more. Emotions can run dangerously high when you get all my "people" together. My brother, the only male sibling, is usually given a pass, but it just wouldn't be a Ratner family event without at least one major, as my husband likes to call it, "sister storm."
But the storm always blows over, and the next sets of tears are the very happiest kind -- the ones reserved for the people who matter most in the world.
Yes, this past weekend was a wonderfully chaotic. But come to think of it, no matter how exhausted I am, the heavy emphasis should definitely be on the wonderfully.comments powered by Disqus
Like many parents, I look at the wide world around my kids and do my best to prepare them for life. We talk about working hard, being kind and responsible, Internet safety, stranger danger, and the (gulp) birds and the bees. But what about a topic such as race?
If you're like me, looking around your house in the weeks before Christmas will probably have you convinced that the last thing your kids need to find underneath the tree is a pile of new toys.
I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about how lucky we are to have what we have. Though our house is tiny and our van is unequipped with automatic doors, we have all we could ever need, and a lot of what we want.
On the evening of Nov. 6, a throng of people gathered at Monona Terrace. They were there to attend an impressive anniversary shindig, but the real buzz of excitement centered on the event's guest of honor.
You may call them "play dates," but I like the term "mom dates," especially since my kids are still too young to really care that there's another small person to squabble over toys with.
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
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.