It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day. I don't hike or camp unless it's absolutely necessary (which as far as I'm concerned is never). And I've rarely used the phrase, "Just let nature take its course," not even in parenting.
During the birth of my oldest son nearly seventeen years ago, I briefly considered going epidural-free. But when the very sweet and perceptive labor and delivery nurse told me the closest thing she'd ever witnessed to natural childbirth at the downtown Chicago hospital was a mom-to-be without a pedicure, I blissfully caved to the spinal block. I'm pretty sure she had noticed my bright pink toenails before putting in the pro-medication plug.
And while I went unintentionally went drug-free during my daughter's very speedy delivery in Madison five years later, I would be lying if I didn't say I wouldn't have minded a little bit (okay a lot) of something to ease the pain. Even another outrageously long needle in my back.
Sure, I nursed my kids. But mostly because it was convenient and cheap. I fully embraced the use of disposable diapers. And despite owning just about every small kitchen appliance known to mom-kind (I was a very early adopter of the George Foreman grill), I never owned a baby food grinder.
But I can't say my avoidance of the natural parenting movement has had any particular benefit for my family. My kids, and just as importantly maybe I, might have really benefited from deliberate baby-wearing, the willingness to explore more herbal remedies and a little more time outside (with a non-chemical sunscreen, of course). I just never really took the time to explore more thoughtful, and natural, parenting options when my kids were little.
But for those of you who still have the time to check out the latest in going "au natural," I'd recommend heading downtown this coming Sunday, March 23, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Monona Terrace to check out the Madison area's second annual Natural Parenting Expo . As part of the event, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center will be giving a demonstration on how to connect your "Knee-high Naturalist with the Natural World." And there will be a panel discussion on alternative school approaches, as well as a session on homeschooling.
For those interested in learning more about natural childbirth options, there is both a screening of the film "The Business of Being Born" as well as a presentation by Dr. Leila Midelfort on "Strategies for a Natural Birth in the Hospital."
And because we all know laughter is the best (natural) medicine, don't miss your chance to see stay-at-home humorist Ann Imig, creator of the nationally renowned "Listen to Your Mother" show, perform live on the IsthmusParents.com stage. Her reading, entitled The Children Ate My Gratitude, is sure to increase your endorphins (or whatever it is that's released when you laugh). Ann is one of the most naturally funny writers I know.
No, I guess it really is never too late to become a more natural parent. Even for me. But still, I'm still kind of glad the Expo is taking place inside Monona Terrace's Exhibition Hall. You know, indoors.comments powered by Disqus
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.
The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.
Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.
If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.
There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.
My passion for the talent show clearly runs deep, but I'm more than just a fangirl. This year marked my second as one of the "Ziegfelds" of the Follies, Hamilton's annual showcase for singers, musicians, dancers and other varied forms of entertainment. Trust me, when you are part of the spectacle's "producing/directing" team you get a new-found appreciation for how hard the kids worked to get up on stage.
My daughter, who turned twelve just this past week, is not legally "of age" when it comes to social media. But I guess, in many respects, especially in those that involve screens, I am a permissive pushover. I've allowed her join some networks.
What adults love about camping -- sleeping under the stars, getting away from it all, the sounds of nature -- can be scary for children. It's dark in a tent. Nothing is familiar. Of course, camping with kids is more work for adults, too. Stay cool, live in the moment. Forget about that lost fork. Making s'mores, spotting wildlife, that's what kids will remember.
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.