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
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 Verona resident Melissa Wardy 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.
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.