It happens about once a year. A household object breaks, in this case a lamp, and instead of immediately finding the nearest place to get it fixed and being done with it, I end up moving a replacement from a different part of the house into its place, thus setting off a whole-home redecorating/reorganization chain reaction.
And with this shift of furniture, throw rugs and tchotchkes, I am usually inspired to undertake a much-needed purge of all my accumulated crap. I try to be ruthless in my hunt through every drawer, storage box and basket, unceremoniously shedding years' worth of hardened Wite-Out, instructions for appliances I no longer own and age-specific birthday cards that went unsent. There's usually very little I feel guilty about tossing out, environmental guilt aside, with one ominous exception.
No matter how many twisted fuse bead amulets, shredded sponge dot self-portraits or shattered pinch pot change holders I find, it's always hard for me to let go of my kids' art projects.
Now, I'm not really sure why I feel so penitent getting rid of this stuff. None of it, to be frank, is particularly good. 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. And even if, by some unexpected twist of talent, dozens of years from now she becomes the Grandma Moses of her day, I don't think any collector will be dying for the large assortment of Rainbow Loom bracelets that she generated over winter break of 2013.
Besides, our relatively small home doesn't have the archival capacity of the Chazen. So with three kids, a dog, a cat and two adults vying for squatters' rights on every inch of unused storage space, I remind myself quietly that some of these "treasures" will just have to go.
But fortunately for us storage-challenged parents of petite, yet prolific, Picassos, this week in Madison offers some pretty awesome artistic opportunities that have a distinct added perk.
Nothing has to come home with you.
If you haven't yet visited the Art Cart this summer, Madison School Commmunity Recreation and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's free, traveling art program, now's the time to do it. This coming week, on both July 22 and 23, the Art Cart will be stationed in Vilas Park to help facilitate the re-painting of the iconic Shoe slide -- an unforgettable Madison childhood experience.
Just think about the dual benefits of taking part. First, your kid's creativity will be on display in a popular public location for the entire city to see. Second, the mess -- and the mural -- stays in the park.
Then, on July 24, the whole family can head over to Villager Mall on South Park to take part in this year's Eat Play Art festival. From 6-9 pm, the mall (which houses the Urban League and Goodman Public Library, among other organizations) parking lot will be transformed into a community art and recreation space, allowing attendees to showcase their culture, skills and abilities.
And although the activities will run the gamut, including a dance party with DJ Chill, a highlight will be most certainly be the chance to see The Art Brothas, a highly entertaining music and painting improvisation group, perform live.
But even if the Brothas' talented artist Brota Oroian asks if I want to take home his creation at the end of the session, I will politely decline. The only work of art I plan to welcome into the house come event's close, child rendered or otherwise, will be one of Nuria Moffat's, face-painting artist extraordinaire, skillfully executed -- yet highly removable -- masterpieces.comments powered by Disqus
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.
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.