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. There is nothing like living less than a mile away from Camp Randall to convert even the coldest sports-heart to fervent Buckyism. Quite usefully, I have never had a hard time finding a ridiculously overqualified babysitter. I am still in awe of the number of eager freshmen, multilingual international students and even Ph.D. candidates who, for years, were more than willing to change my kids' diapers for payment.
There are though, some drawbacks, too. For example, the moth eaten couches and broken-legged chairs that decorate the terraces in front of student rentals near my home do not, in my mind, represent tasteful "exterior" decorating. And the traffic on Monroe Street on football Saturdays sucks.
But I think the biggest downside to living in a college town may be the havoc it wrecks on my family's sense of timing, especially this time of year. You see, when you live in the shadow of the UW-Madison campus, this marks the week when you'll find yourself surrounded by college students taking the last of their final exams before packing up and taking off for break. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the strains of Alice Cooper's "School's out for Summer" seeping from their every pore. And everyone in my house, including me, feels we should be breaking free of our school routine, as well.
But unfortunately, I am not yet free from waking the kids up at 6:15 a.m., packing lunches and making sure no one misses the bus. And my offspring still have end-of-year ceremonies to attend, papers to write and medieval castles to build before the school-centricity can let up.
So this week begins my daily lectures about how longer days and wearing shorts and flip-flops to class does not translate in to a maternal stoppage of bedtime and homework nagging. And I will, on a nightly basis, need to remind my daughter that she cannot have a sleepover on a Monday, even if there's "just" a field trip the next day. I realize the whole family is longing to bike to the Memorial Union at 8:30 p.m. to get a Babcock ice cream cone. But that won't be happening today, or for any of the next 28 days.
This coming weekend when my kids hear the sound of the graduating class of 2014 "Jump(ing) Around" at Camp Randall through our (hopefully) open windows, I will take a deep breath and remind them that our time to jump for joy is coming.
But it won't be here for another four, long weeks. Perhaps the longest four weeks of the year when you live in a college town.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.