Sunday, December 14, 2014


Today is Anya's seventh birthday. Sometimes I think it's hard to believe it's really been seven whole years since she was born - time flies and all that - but at the same time, we've all grown and matured so much it makes perfect sense after all.

At seven, Anya is so much more confident and self-assured than when she turned six. She takes things in stride that would have crushed her before. She is not outgoing and never will be, but she knows herself and I think other people (like kids in her class) can see and respect her for who she is. She loves learning and soaks up new information like a sponge, especially math. (She is all about math these days.) She loves music. She is exceptionally kind. And she can run with persistence and endurance. I look into her big bright eyes and though I don't know what the future holds for her, I know there are great things in store.

Monday, December 08, 2014

a holiday lullaby

I got a last minute request to play a couple of Brahms songs on a recital this week. Despite my crazy schedule, I had to say yes because the singer is wonderful and besides, how can I resist the opportunity to play something so sublimely beautiful?

Saturday, December 06, 2014

has it really been a month since my last post?

I feel like any number of posts lately could have that title. I'm suffering from a little bit of bloggy writers' block here on MadtownMama - partly because I'm busier these days, partly because I'm not so sure I have that much that's interesting to say, and also in part because as my kids get older I have to be more careful about their privacy. Long gone are the days when I could bitch about them never napping and would they ever use the toilet. Now the focus of parenting has shifted to school work and helping them navigate their social lives and most of that just seems too private to write about here. I'm also working more, and as much as I'd love to share some stories and anecdotes about that, it would be unprofessional.

I'll figure it out, though, because I know a few people are still reading and want to keep up with my life! I'll do my best to post a little more often with interesting tidbits from my daily life.

Here's one thing coming up: we're going to a wedding in a few weeks. One of my very close friends from school is getting married in a warm, sunny location in the southern U.S., and we're all flying down for it. I'm playing in the wedding and we're making the rest of the weekend a mini-vacation for our family of four before heading to see Stuart's family for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to this trip, in part because the temperature should be above freezing most of the time! I also realized a few days ago that I'm quite sure the kids don't have anything to wear to this wedding, nothing remotely resembling appropriate dress for a fancy event in a tropical climate. (I know my friend would say, "Susan, don't worry about it! Your kids will be just fine in whatever they wear!!" but honey, sweatpants and a t-shirt with the school mascot just ain't gonna cut it.) So on top of all the holiday shopping and travel prep and end-of-the-semester craziness I have to find acceptable warm-weather dress clothes for my two very opinionated children. Anya will absolutely refuse to wear a dress, which is fine by me (I don't much like wearing dresses, either) but that doesn't leave many options.

Sunday, November 09, 2014


Have you ever had one of those weekends where you can't seem to get anything done? Yeah, me too.

Yesterday my good friend R called me and asked if I wanted to see the symphony with her. Violinist Sarah Chang was in town to play the Sibelius concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra. I thought about all the work I have to do, so I hemmed and hawed and said maybe and even up to lunchtime today I wasn't sure if I wanted to go. But after an entire morning trying to work and instead getting interrupted every five minutes with phone calls and needy kids, I decided I just needed to go out.

So I called R back and said I'd pick her up at 1:45. When I got to her house, her son bounced up to me at the end of the driveway, and said, grinning, "My mom said I have to play outside for a while," and indeed when she got in the car, I could tell her morning had been a lot like mine. "It's not that I don't love being around my children..." she began, and I knew exactly what she meant. Somebody always needs something, whether it's a snack or a hug or praise for a scribbled drawing or help finding the scotch tape or an answer to a math question, and it's not as though we aren't willing to give these things but sometimes you so badly want an uninterrupted hour so badly you could just curl up in a ball and cry.

We went to the concert and had a fabulous time. The opening orchestral number was nice, Sarah Chang was stunning, and the final piece, a symphony by Carl Nielsson, was incredible. I was actually on the edge of my seat, it was that good. R felt the same way.

Then I came home and spent two hours cooking dinner, feeling guilty for having left my family for most of the day (Stuart ran the kids for a good part of the morning so I could work, then the whole afternoon while I was at the concert, so he deserves a lot of credit here.) There was a huge mess to clean up afterwards and when I saw their dirty clothes on the floor, a pile of books in the middle of the living room and their rooms in no better state than the beginning of the weekend, I just about lost it again. This is why moms have the reputation of being nags, I said, because nobody else seems to care if we live in squalor.

I shouldn't have said it. I know I hurt feelings, and I feel bad about it. I guess if I'm going to do something with my time other than the housewife stuff, I should just learn to lower my standards, what?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

election day

It's a sad day.  I voted, and I'm disappointed by results all around. Four more years of Scott Walker running this state is bound to be disaster.

Think globally, act locally. I think that's the way to hold onto hope.



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ode to a Beautiful Forest

By: Daniel

you walk a little, then you notice a beautiful point where you look through the trees and multi-colored leaves and see a beautiful portrait of clear blue sky, leaves and trees and the sound of a woodpecker just might blend into the whistle of a soft breeze and a bird tweeting a little song. the golden leaves are special. they come only once a year. only when the magical time comes that this special wipe of the forest can you see this real beauty of nature.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The other day I went to the mall. I hate the mall. Hate. It. Even on a Monday at high noon the parking lot was packed and there were people everywhere - shoppers, high school kids having lunch at the food court. It stresses me out.

The worst part of the mall, actually, is the endless hawking of useless expensive junk. As I passed one salon-type place, a particularly aggressive salesman practically accosted me and convinced me to come in his store "just for one minute" to show me a "great product." I walked in and he started curling my hair with a flat iron and fired off compliments of my looks so fast I figured he must have memorized a handbook, and in an accent so thick I had to ask him to repeat himself several times. Then he tried to sell me the iron for $150. When I said no thank you his voice dropped to a whisper and he offered it to me for $120, like it was our special secret. When I said NO THANK YOU he got in my face and asked "What's the problem?!" and I said I just didn't want it and got the hell out of there. 

I spent the rest of the day with and icky feeling and three perfectly curled ringlets on the right side of my face. God, I hate the mall.

It was such a contrast to earlier that morning. I went running and looped through the neighborhood, ending up in a park with a prairie restoration area that had recently been burned. As I ran by the blackened vegetation I saw movement. Four wild turkeys were pecking in the burnt grass, foraging for whatever it is turkeys eat on a burned prairie. Their feathers were so black they blended right in. They were utterly nonplussed by my presence, those turkeys. They just calmly picked through the grass as I ran by. 

Sometimes I like nature better than humans.