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. Heck, the street repairs being done in my neighborhood alone are enough to make a person want to give up her car keys forever. I've learned the hard way, more than once, that when a sign says "Closed to Thru Traffic" what it really means is "Turn Back If You Want To Emerge With Your Undercarriage Intact."
But a video making the rounds last week reminded me that seasonal roadwork does have its ardent fans.
The 38-second clip of her two-year-old son going gaga over the mess on Highway 151 bought back a flood of memories from when my eldest was the same age. It was the summer of '99 and he in a stroller, and me on some very sore feet, would canvass the neighborhood in search of a sewer line being torn up or a major excavation project going on. Once we found one, I'd lay down a blanket on the sidewalk and break out the goldfish crackers and sippy cup; we were in for the duration.
Pretty much every construction worker in the neighborhood that summer knew us, not necessarily by name, but more as the slightly strange woman and her truck-crazy kid who stalked their every work site. We would follow their projects from location to location, oohing, ahhing and oogling every time they got the rigs up and running. In essence, we were heavy machinery groupies; there's nothing we wouldn't have done for a chance to just brush up against the side of anything sporting the name Caterpillar.
My son's love of construction vehicles ran so deep, it may have even bordered on fetish. Because after we got home from an afternoon of truck stalking, he'd whip out his impressive collection of vehicle books and videos. Picture books like Richard Scarry's Car and Trucks and Things that Go and Peter Sis' Trucks, Trucks, Trucks were always popular picks at night before bed. But truth be told, he probably liked the non-fiction even better. I think it was one of those Dorling Kindersley (DK) reference books with glossy photographic depictions of diggers and cherry pickers that he slept with under his pillow.
I guess I always assumed my kid would grow up to be an engineer or to go into one of the skilled trades. He was just so captivated by each and every truck and its specialty purpose. Cranes he knew were for lifting heavy objects up high and a bulldozer's responsibility was to push dirt around. Loaders were there to scoop. An excavator's job was to dig. Backhoes could do both.
It was an early lesson in the concept of division of labor. Come to think of it, maybe he'll end up an economist.
So next time I find myself getting frustrated by the construction chaos around the Capitol, I'll take a deep breath, channel my inner two year old and just re-imagine the detour as a different take on "Live on King Street."
This downtown summer outdoor concert series, though, isn't featuring rock bands. Instead it stars folks in fluorescent yellow vests making beautiful music (at least to some very small people) with the mammoth construction vehicles they maneuver and the jackhammers they wield.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.