A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming. No one in our family was particularly well known for their grace, athleticism or their ability to hold their breath for extended periods of time. And I'm pretty sure she'd never seen an Esther Williams movie.
It didn't take long, though, for me to realize the revue's requirment of wearing a bedazzled bathing suit, matching headpiece and the parent-approved chance to wear garish eye shadow in public probably had a whole lot to do with it.But she adored her twice-weekly practices and the camaraderie of the girls in her routine. So when a fellow pool mom asked if I'd like to take part in the parent act she was organizing for the show, I decided it might be nice to show my daughter a little "synchro" solidarity. It would be a great excuse, I figured, to spring for a new tube of waterproof mascara. And maybe I'd even get to sport one of those cute, 40s-style swimsuits I'd been coveting. Sure, I'd need to commit to a couple of rehearsals. But really, how hard could water ballet possibly be?
As it turns out, it's very hard. What Esther had always managed to make look so effortless in those post-World War II movies, actually takes a tremendous amount of strength and coordination. Not to mention the willingness to endure gallons of water up your nose. There were distinct moves I struggled to learn like the Clamshell, the Eiffel Tower and the Back Dolphin. And said moves needed to be performed at the exact same time as the mom to both my left and to my right. Suffice it to say, the "synchronized" part did not come naturally. And neither, frankly, did the swimming part, as the toughest thing for me was attempting to master the "pretty swim" -- a kind of artistic doggie paddle. It's the backbone of the sport, but I could never keep my head far enough above water while doing it. Nope, nothing I did in any of our practices even vaguely resembled "pretty."
So while I'd certainly given my kids the "finish what you start" and "quitters never win" lecture dozens of times before, this hydraulically-challenged hypocrite threw in, or should I say on, the towel after only two physically demanding practices. Yes, I am a water ballet dropout. And it's not something I'm proud of.
But for those of you who don't want to see your child suffer the same fate, or better yet, are in search of some of the best exercise your daughter can get either in or out of the water, you're in luck. This Saturday, September 28th, Mad City Aqua Stars (http://www.madcityaquastars.com) , Dane County's only competitive synchronized swim team is holding an Open House from 9:30 to noon at the Middleton High School pool. And all mermaid wannabes, ages 8 to a18, are invited to try their hand (and leg, and back and neck -- trust me it's a full body workout) at executing both the technical and artistic moves. If your daughter takes to it like, you know, a fish to water, she's welcome to join the no-cut team. And for those who might enjoy the sport, but may not want the commitment of competing, this year the club is offering a first-time-ever recreational program.
Parents are encouraged to learn more about the sport at the noon informational session that will be held poolside. I am pretty sure neither the need to wear a flashy swimsuit or the ability to hold your breath is required.But if the Aqua Stars ever consider opening a senior division, they should definitely let me know. I'd love a chance to redeem myself. And to have an excuse to wear one of those adorable, retro flowered bathing caps. comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.