Nearly three years ago, my first Mama Madison post answered the question (for my family, at least) of whether or not you could take kids to see Shakespeare at American Players Theatre. My children, 13, 10 and eight at the time, were itching to see the original works that had inspired parodies on some of their favorite Simpsons episodes, and we decided to take the all-family plunge with an afternoon performance of As You Like It.
And they did, like it that is. So we ended up building on our Bard experience the next summer with viewings of both The Taming of the Shrew and The Tempest, followed by Twelfth Night last year. And after each performance the kids tried to get us to promise we'd bring them back again the next year.
But if there's one thing I've learned in parenting, it's never to make a promise.
And it's a good thing, too, because early this spring, way before I think I'd even gotten the APT schedule in the mail, a friend emailed to ask if I would like to join her and her spouse in Spring Green for an early season performance of Somerset Maugham's Too Many Husbands.
With just our husbands. No kids.
At first I couldn't imagine using our likely one and only (for time, energy and financial reasons)summer trek up the hill for a real live double date. APT, for us, had really become quite the family affair. But after about five minutes of consideration, I sent back an affirmative reply. With three kids in three different sets of activities, as well as other work, family and life obligations, my husband and I don't get the chance to go out alone as much as we'd like. This seemed like a ready-made opportunity for the grown up time we were both desperately craving.
I was, I'll admit, a little nervous as we headed out late that afternoon to meet our friends for the obligatory pre-performance picnic. My kids are old enough to stay alone without a baby sitter, but APT was kind of far away. And my experience has always been that cell phones don't seem to work in the outdoor amphitheater. But I played brave, pre-ordered their pizza, and made a very long list of every neighbor's phone number on the block to call in case of an emergency (real emergencies, I reminded my daughter -- the kind that involve broken limbs, fevers and blood. Not the kind that emerge when you and your brother can't agree on which episode of "Cake Boss" to watch).
Now, I really can't tell you whether or not I enjoyed the play -- we were rained (and thundered and lightninged) out after act one. But we had a fantastic time up until the deluge, enjoying wine, cheese and bread (mostly the wine) in the company of only adults. The four of us chatted and giggled in the way that can only happen when a fidgety offspring isn't asking how much longer until the play starts, complaining about mosquitoes or whining that her sibling spilled the only tangerine Izzy.
The very best part of the evening though may have been the 45-minute ride home with my husband -- me with mascara running down my face, my husband shirtless from getting completely soaked during our mad clamor down the hill. We listened to oldies and had the kind of inane but pleasurable discussions that we had far more regularly before we had kids. Things like, was the "Mony, Mony" we remembered from college the original or a remake? Or if anyone really knows what The Kingsmen are saying in "Louie, Louie"?
And when a medley of Styx songs came on the radio we realized that we had both slow danced many times to "Come Sail Away" during high school. But we'd never danced to it with each other.
No, we didn't pull over and dance in the rain on the side of the road. That kind of stuff only happens in movies and in the lyrics of the type of love songs that seem to populate oldies stations on Saturday nights. But we did hold hands and felt fortunate to be reminded of why we married each other in the first place.
And the best part of all, due to APT's rainout policy, we'll get the opportunity to head back up to Spring Green later this summer, hopefully in better weather this time, to finish up Too Many Husbands.
Which will give me another chance to be thankful for spending time with my just my one.
And don't worry about the kids. They got their summer Shakespeare in last weekend when we went to see Joss Whedon's film Much Ado About Nothing. They thought it was okay. But not nearly as good as The Avengers. And definitely not as good as seeing it live, under the stars, on the outdoor stage.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.
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.