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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 17.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Daily

ISTHMUS PARENTS

Kids gifts go back to basics, with a few twists

If the theme for this year's holiday giving for many families will be "make do," then there's one company that definitely has a leg up. Makedo sells kits with a variety of reusable nylon fasteners and hinges (and a plastic cutter called a safe saw) that encourage kids to transform cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, packaging or anything discarded into feats of imagination, from robots to dollhouses to cars to full-size playhouses. >More
 Mama Madison: Handing over holiday kitchen duties to the teens

Remember that scene in Tom Sawyer where Tom, as a punishment for skipping school, is made to whitewash an entire fence alone? Initially bummed, Tom soon figures out that by feigning his love for the project, he can get his buddies to pay him for the "privilege" of partaking in the chore.

Welcome to Thanksgivings-past at my place.

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 Mama Madison: Lessons for kids from the Penn State debacle

As my son watched the unpleasant situation at Penn State unfold on ESPN last week, it was clear to me that there was a key lesson for him, now 14, in all that was happening at State College. This was the perfect opportunity for my husband and I to let him know that regardless of what laws were technically broken and by whom, just about every person who knew of Jerry Sandusky's alleged actions and didn't call the police broke the "laws" of decency and compassion for children. >More
 Mama Madison: Watching celebrity culture

Every parent has his or her "something"; that secret, little vice that gives them a welcome diversion from everyday life. Fortunately, my break from reality is legal, involves "reality TV," and is surreptitiously smuggled home in a grocery bag. I am hopeless gossip magazine addict. To me Star and US Weekly are a whole lot more than just OK!; I think they're pretty darn fabulous. While some might say this hobby is the epitome of lowbrow, I prefer to think of it as putting an "Enquiring" mind to work. Just last month the University of Chicago hosted an academic conference on Jersey Shore; I guess I'm not the only one who's heard of a Homer beyond Simpson that finds celebrity culture engaging. >More
 Mama Madison: Reflections on aunthood

While watching game six of last week's World Series, my attention fluctuated between the hyped-up commentary of the TV sportscasters and that of my Facebook feed. At the top of the 11th inning, an old friend, who hailed from neither the Show Me or Lone Star State, posted a status update that rung incredibly true. "It's way more fun to watch a ball game," she wrote, "when you don't really care who wins." >More
 What Madison restaurants are doing to help parents with food issues

When dining out crosses the line into dangerous, it's a game-changer. That's the situation for many families whose children have serious food allergies. The number of children with clinical allergies to certain foods has been trending upward. The Centers for Disease Control reports that it increased 18% between 1997 and 2007. >More
 Mama Madison: The agony of the Halloween costume

Earlier this month my 11 year-old told me was too old to join his younger sister and me for Downtown Madison's Trick or Treat this Friday afternoon. Sprinting from door to door, under dark of night on the actual 31st in pursuit of full-size candy bars (he's so over the fun size) is one thing. But evidently being out in public, in broad daylight, dressed up as a '70s cop (I'm not sure whether he's thinking Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch or the Village People) just isn't okay if your age is in the double digits. >More
 Mama Madison: Take time to learn

It's not often I read something that punches me in straight in the gut and completely alters my understanding of what it truly means to be a parent. This changed last Sunday with a recommended New York Times link on a friend's Facebook page. I almost didn't click through"I felt I'd hit my parenting prose limit for the week. >More
 Mama Madison: Fear of music

My oldest son loved the adulation he received when his elementary school band totally rocked "Blitzkrieg Bop" at the 5th grade talent show. He was relishing in pre-pubescent punk; I thought he'd found his bliss. But early last year, at the beginning of 8th grade, my budding Ramone told me he was ready to quit bass guitar lessons. A bit surprised, I asked him why. He told me that while he liked the camaraderie of being in a band, and really liked going shopping at the St. Vincent DePaul resale shop for gig-worthy attire, he just wasn't that into music. >More
 Mama Madison: I Want Progressive Kid TV

Glenn Beck doesn't actually host Liberty Treehouse, the new kid show that debuted on his Internet channel, GBTV earlier this week. Instead, the "hipper" Raj Nair (of ESPN Road Trip fame) anchors the hour-long program that aims to give tween Tea Partiers a chance to experience American history and politics through the lens of the former FOX news commentator. And for those middle-school conservatives looking for a dose of good-old-fashioned wholesome entertainment after school, Liberty Treehouse will regularly air excerpts of mid-century classics like Ozzie and Harriet, Flash Gordon and Popeye cartoons. >More
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