Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crazy Legs

15,000people...and one of them is me....

Once a year, for about 43 minutes, I become fanatically interested in the local university and its sports. That is when I run the annual Crazy Legs Race.

Normally, I could care less about the local sports scene. Living in a college town, that makes me a bit of an oddball. Madison is many other things than the university, but let's face most people here, life revolves around the Badgers.

But, for Crazy Legs, I become one of them. The people who think seeing "Bucky Badger" akin to running into a celebrity. The people who make their doorbell play the Wisconsin Fight song. The people who live and die by how the Badgers did during the latest (football/hockey/basketball) game.

It's a race to support UW athletics. It's not a big race - it's only 5 miles. But they pull out all the stops: the band, the athletes, the cheerleaders, and yes - Bucky Badger himself - all make an appearance.

It's fun. I went to a small-ish liberal arts university outside of Boston. I *think* we had sports, but I never actually saw any of them. So, this is all new to me. Even after 10 years of living here, the fixation on college sports still seems a bit strange.

Stranger yet, is the fact that my 4 year old son can recognize/name many of the Badger football/basketball players. He is going to think I'm *so* uncool in about 10 years.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

They are teaching them a bit too well...

I attempted to turn on the TV last night to watch the local cable access channel's live broadcast of the school board meeting.

Daughter D. was livid. "IT IS NATIONAL TURN OFF YOUR TV WEEK, MOTHER!" she shouted.

Now, this is a child who watches no TV during the week. Nothing, zippo, nada. We don't turn it on when the kids are awake during the week. They get a few shows or a movie on the weekend, but there's just no need during the week.

I tried to explain to her that:
a) Watching a school board meetings is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Excruciatingly boring TV just doesn't count. Local cable access doesn't count.

b) "Turn Off Your TV Week" is designed for people who watch 1-2 hours of TV a *day*...not those who watch 1-2 hours/week.

c) I needed to know what the school board decided for our PTA meeting, so I really did have to watch it. They have not yet started live-blogging the school board meetings.

She wasn't buying it. So I just recorded the meeting and watched it after she went to bed. What are they teaching those kids in that school?

I'm all for turning off the TV. But for a whole week? I don't really get it. Isn't it better to just dole it out in small doses and practice moderation? I really don't think that a few hours of TV a week is going to harm my kids. But I guess we won't get any this week. D. has spoken. (And let's face it, she's the one who runs the place...)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Perfect weekend

It was one of those perfect Madison weekends. The kind that makes you feel like you'd live through 7 months of winter to experience a weekend like this one. Oh, wait, I did live through seven months of winter before getting to experience a weekend like this one. Funny how that works...

It was glorious. We went to the first Farmers Market of the year and listened to every street musician and visited almost every booth. There's not much actual *food* at the first market of the year, it's more of an experience.

Daughter D. and I both got new bikes, and went on some fun family bike rides.

The kids started swimming lessons this weekend, and our eldest even signed up for the neighborhood swim team.

I took a panda and a leopard to the zoo.

I also got to ride on the carousel with the panda/leopard pair.

Son D. had his second soccer game. Even though they don't keep score, he keeps score all by himself and knows EXACTLY how many goals the other team made. He has calculated that his team has lost their first two games, but he doesn't seem too upset about it.

I managed to sneak in a 10 mile run, and I think I'm all set for next month's half marathon.

And finally, After 12 years of marriage, we finally bought our first set of grown-up furniture. (Instead of the usual hand-me-down or "Ikea-assemble-it-yourself" variety of stuff we've had in the past)

Life is good. Winter is gone and spring is here!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Earth Day

I spent the day with 400 elementary school students, planting a tree and picking up litter at a neighborhood park. It's my favorite school event of the year.

The mayor even came and the kids listened to a short speech about Gaylord Nelson. (In Wisconsin, we like to pat ourselves on the back on earth day. It was "invented" here, didn't ya know?)

Of course, at 4 pm yesterday...when the Principal called to let me know that traditionally, the PTA President brought 400 ice cream treats for the children to enjoy that point, it was decidedly NOT my favorite day of the year. (Just add another notch to my long belt of "ignorant-first-year-PTA-President" mishaps.)

But, the ice cream treats were successfully procured this morning, 15 minutes before the event, and all is well with the world.

Note to self: in the future, when shopping with two preschool boys, do not think "I'll try the new automated 'self-checkout' to buy my 400 ice cream treats since the regular check-out lines are so long." It will not work out the way you plan. And it will not be faster. Not at all.

But totally worth it, in the end. It was a fantastic day. If these kids are our future, we are in very good hands.

And next year...I'll get the ice cream treats ahead of time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A link to read

I liked this one. What amazing perspective for a college student. He's smarter than 99.9 percent of the national news commentators I've heard...

Our hearts go out to our friends and family in VA. What some of you are going through this week seems unbearable.

Monday, April 16, 2007

so sad

When we got home today at about 1:30, Son D. and I went to get the mail. My husband's VA Tech Alumni magazine was at the top of the pile, but I didn't think anything of it. I somehow had managed not to hear any news all day.

When we came inside, I saw the emails and immediately went to CNN's website to see what had happened. Many friends and family have passed through VA Tech. My sister. His brother. A good percentage of our Northern VA high school.

How tragic. How absolutely tragic. Those poor families.

I try to shield the kids from this type of news. But I snuck some NPR this afternoon. I didn't think they were listening. When D. met the kids and I at the park before dinner, the first thing his son said to him was, "Daddy, there was shooting at your engineering school today and lots of people are dead." I guess they really do hear everything.

This led to a bit of a discussion about "bad guys" and what to do if they ever see a gun.

My heart goes out to the parents and families of those students today. I can't even imagine. In my worst nightmare ever, I can't even imagine.

I mean, when we have the "what to do when you see a gun" talk with the kids, I don't actually think they will ever in their life really see a gun. It's all a bit 'never-gonna-happen-worst-case-scenario' for me. We don't even hunt. (In Wisconsin, that makes us a bit unusual.) I'm sure that the Tech parents never once imagined this, either.

So sad. So very sad.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I couldn't put this article down today:

He is so right. How can we win the "war on terror" when we are funding it? I especially liked the part in which he outlines the positive energy changes that Bush implemented when he was Governor. It gives one hope for the future. Although Friedman correctly points out that as President, Bush has been an utter disaster.

In my alternate life (the one in which I didn't manage to get married, have two wonderful children, and move from DC to Wisconsin), I imagine that I'd be an international economist working on this very issue with Thomas Friedman.

But in this actual life of mine, I just read this article over and over and think "I'd better start my composting project soon, and maybe we can start riding our bikes to the farmer's market instead of driving."

Daughter D. got her report card on Friday. Forgive me if I lapse into annoying parent bragging mode (but if you are reading this, there is a 90% chance you are related to me, which makes bragging allowed, no?) She's in first grade, and according to the report card, she is reading at a 5th grade level. So, even though math and science are what make her tick, she is picking up a bit of my love for reading.

Maybe we can just sneak her into middle school next year, and get her on a fast track to solving the world's energy problems. It doesn't look like our generation of leaders is taking this seriously. We may have to put all our hopes on D. and her classmates to get us out of this mess.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


So far, the best commentary I've read on the whole Don Imus mess was written by my neighbor:

If there was ever anyone to be described as an would be him. What was he thinking?

About 6 years ago, I was walking through the zoo with my previous "little sister" (who is also, ironically enough, a "D" initial.) As we passed, A little boy of about 9-10 years of age turned to his mother, pointed at D., and yelled, "Look Mama, there's a N*gger."

He was immediately pulled aside by his mother, and I gave that mother the most evil of my evil-eye glares. But I didn't say anything. I just grabbed D's hand a little tighter and hurried past. That moment has haunted me ever since. Why didn't I say anything? Why didn't I defend her?

On March 1, I started with a new little sister. Conveniently, her name does NOT begin with a D. She's an A. I'd forgotten how challenging this first year of a match is - how hard it is to bridge the gap between her life and mine. But I'd also forgotten how much I am taught by children. And I'd forgotten how quickly I fall madly in love with a child in need.

I hope to god that I never experience a racial slur with A. But if I do, next time I promise I won't be silent. I'll march right up to that idiot and let it be known that there is no place in our world for such rudeness.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


I think I shall just sleep through tomorrow. They are predicting somewhere between 3 and 8 inches of snow. I am sure they must have that horribly wrong and it will just be flurries and we shall go on with our spring as scheduled. I will not, can not, dig out the snowpants and snow boots now. It is spring. No snowpants allowed.

We had a lovely trip to DC/MD/VA....although there was some snow there too. (it follows us, I see.)

I've decided that traveling with Daughter D. is the way to go. She aptly maneuvered us through the security lines - taking off both her and her brother's shoes and coats (and getting them back on afterwards). She found our gate assignments on the departure monitor, as I was cluelessly scanning the arrivals. And when I started getting frustrated with her brother's constant need to use the commuter jet's miniscule toilet (3 times on a 90 minute flight), she offered to take him. (I declined that one.)

Finally, when we'd made it back home and were all ready to collapse, but instead had to head back to the airport to pick up their father (on a different flight, long story)....while her brother had a tantrum because I was making him *wear shoes*.....and I was about to lose it entirely, she turned to me and said, "Settle down, mother. He'll calm down if you stay calm."

She's 7. And seemingly, some days she is the one who is keeping us all together and sane.

(But she didn't have to spend half the flight in the miniscule bathroom with a 4 year old boy. That would have pushed even her over the edge, I swear. Do you know how small the bathrooms are on a commuter jet?)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Play Ball....

I'm something of a sports chameleon. That is, I take on the enthusiasm of the favorite sport of the closest sports fanatic to me. On my own, really, I'd care nothing for sports. I wouldn't even notice them.

As a child, the nearest sports fanatic was my dad and the sport was baseball. Growing up in New England in the 1970s - that meant being a Boston Red Sox fan. It served me well in life. I ended up going to college in Boston and the fact that I could name every single player in the 1978 Red Sox line-up got me major brownie-points at the Boston bar scene or random fraternity party.

As a married adult, so far it's been soccer and cycling. (Funny, those are the two sports my husband is passionate about.) I haven't watched a baseball game in years. But I caught nearly every one of the World Cup games this summer.

As a parent, the pendulum seems to be swinging back to baseball. Son D is obsessed with soccer (of course) but also, more recently, with baseball. Instead of asking me to wash his German Soccer Jersey to wear for tomorrow's trip home, he asked me to wash his Milwaukee Brewers T-shirt. This is a very new development. The German Soccer Jersey has been worn so many times, it hardly has any shape left.

On Monday, it was 60 degrees and sunny, so we walked over to the park. About 15 other kids had the same idea and we started the most fun game ever of pick-up baseball. We had a bat and a ball. Another kid brought bases. And another brought some gloves. I had so much fun. I'd forgotten how fun baseball is.

(The trend to over-schedule children hasn't quite hit the mid-west yet, so we regularly get large groups of neighborhood children who just "show up" at the park and start some sort of game.)

And how 'bout them Red Sox? Only 1 game out of first place, when I checked the paper this morning. (Yes, I know that their record was 0-1 this morning...but maybe they will win tonight.)

Off to wash the Brewer's T-shirt....