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 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.