This blog represents my opinions and my opinions alone, and certainly doesn't represent the collective thoughts of any of the Boards or organizations that I serve on. Unfortunately I make all sorts of miistakes, I'm a picky eater, I can't sing and I just recently found out I have been spelling certain words in my vocabulary wrong my entire life. That being said, I still continue to muddle ever onward. Welcome.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Board of Education Meeting This Wednesday, May 26th, and Other Hot Topics.

Normally I hate it when people complain about the weather, but for the love of everything good in this world, IT IS HOT OUT! This may be the year that I finally abandon my no-air-conditioning policy and join the twentieth century of climate controlled bliss. I know I can't be the last hold-out, who else out there is sizzling away with me? We never had central air when I was growing up and I never remember it being that big of a deal. Of course I was a skinny little girl then, and not a cranky middle-aged pregnant woman with a lawn to mow and dinner to cook. In fact, I fondly remember the nights that it was simply too hot to sleep indoors and the whole family moved outside for the evening. I remember waking up many a summer morning at dawn, covered with dew and industrial strength Deep Woods Off and the Popsicle stick of last night's last Popsicle stuck to my face. Who am I to deny these rites of passage to my own children? In those days we played on trapeze-height monkey bars suspended over the loving cushion of concrete, slept in the starry-ceilinged hatchback of my parents' Nova on cross-country trips and ran behind the city bug truck spraying the neighborhood park. How ironic that I've managed to live long enough to question the toxicity of rubberized mulch in our city's parks. Good old days...

The Monona Grove Board of Education will meet this Wednesday evening at 7pm in the Nichols District Office Board Room. Unfinished business includes the discussion and possible approval of new ninth grade Biology textbooks, department and building budgets and administrative contracts. We will also discuss and potentially approve the location of the Monona Grove Alternative High School. The Alt. School is currently housed in the Devenish Building on Monona Drive and will need to relocate to fulfill their plans for the expansion of their program as detailed by the grant that Rebecca Fox-Blair and Bill McDonald recently wrote for their new charter. The Board received a concise breakdown of the financial impact of moving the Alt. School to both the Nichols building as well as the lower level of Winnequah School. The initial investment at Nichols for the Alt. School to occupy about 5000 square feet of space is approximately $30,500, including the cost of a hallway vestibule ($10K), T1 Line ($3K) and concrete repair outside ($6K). Mark Scullion, Director of Facilities and Safety, also included the additional cost estimates of optionally adding a keyless entry system ($6K) and the inclusion of the cost associated with using the additional 3,000 square feet of space in the MPR ($4K). It is his recommendation to not add the keyless entry and to continue to minimally heat the MPR as the district does currently. The operation of the Alternative School at the Nichols facility would also incur an annual added cost of about $10k for increased heating and energy use. Scullion estimates that moving the Alternative School into roughly 8,000 square feet of space in the lower level of Winnequah would be about $57,000, including the cost of a hallway vestibule ($10K), the remodelling of a storeroom into two additional restrooms ($40k) and the addition of a keyless entry system ($6K). As I read his analysis, the inclusion of a keyless entry system and two additional bathrooms would not be optional costs at Winnequah School. My assumption is that these features would be necessary to avoid the mixing of Winnequah and Alt. School students. There would be no future increases in energy costs at Winnequah as the areas that would house the Alt. School are already being heated. While I am not inherently opposed to the concept of housing the Alternative High School at Winnequah, provided the separation of the two student bodies, and in fact, can see some potential positive opportunities and pluses with the arrangement, I don't plan to support moving the program to that building. I think that this decision needs to be more thoroughly examined with administrative and community input, and we simply have not had the time to do so. I am somewhat concerned with the initial expense of remodelling the Nichols site and the continuing energy cost (as we remember, Nichols School and Maywood Elementary were removed from the McKinstry Energy Contract) in light of the uncertain future of the Nichols building and in anticipation of our district's upcoming real estate holding analysis. My financial reservations aside, I think that Nichols School will prove to be a successful match right now for the Alternative High School program, come what may in the future.
The Board of Education will also receive updates on the district's diversity issues and district goals, as well as have the official appointment of standing committee citizen members. Susan Manning, Board Treasurer, will chair Business Services, Peter Sobol will chair the Curriculum Committee and Board Clerk Lionel Norton will serve as chair for the Policy Committee.

In other unrelated news, my community canning kitchen organizational meeting this past Sunday was a complete bust. I guess it's difficult to drum up interest for collectively standing over a boiling pot of stewed tomatoes in a sweltering kitchen on a freakishly tropical Sunday afternoon. Still, I haven't kicked the can entirely. A friend brought up the interesting idea last night of using the FACE room in Winnequah School- haven't thought out the logistics of that yet, but I've heard there is extra room in the building...

From an email that I have received from several folks: "Are your kids signed up yet? The Sawyer Crossen Annual Kids Triathlon is coming soon- on June 5th. There are some very hard working Monona community members who are getting this fabulous event off the ground in its first year- and you can help by signing up your kids to participate today! All the information can be found here: But here are a few Q and A's for you:

Who is Sawyer Crossen? Sawyer was the son of Molly and PJ Crossen- lifelong Monona residents who have 6 other children. Sawyer died 4 years ago, Molly and PJ are starting this kids triathlon to honor his memory and to raise money for programs in our schools and rec dept for kids who are the age Sawyer would have been.
How far do my kids have to bike, swim, and run? All distances are on the website, but please keep in mind that we know that this is a KIDS triathlon. Training wheels, noodles, walking, etc. --all fine. Just sign up and come have fun.
What else is happening at the event? The committee has worked very hard to secure food vendors there will be facepainting and music, Bucky Badger and Red Robin will be there, a bouncy house, etc. Just a fun morning for all families in the Monona area...... "

Finally, I want to add a few words about Monona Mayor Robb Kahl's eloquent send-off to Council President Kathy Thomas at last Wednesday evening's Monona City Volunteer Appreciation Reception. His heartfelt comments in honor of Kathy's long public service to the Monona community were reverent and touching. Robb is entirely right that Kathy is a real gem, but more importantly according to my children, she is the Queen of All Brownies, and that counts for a lot in my house. You're the best, Kathy Thomas!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Canning Kitchen Organizational Meeting This Sunday Afternoon, May 23rd at 2pm.

I will be holding an organizational meeting about starting a canning kitchen this Sunday afternoon at the Monona Public Library at 2pm. I will try to reserve one of the small conference rooms on the lower level, but in the event that there are no vacancies, plan to meet in the snack lounge instead.

Please bring your ideas, recipes and calendars!

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Second Week of the Month Time Again!

The Monona Park and Recreation Board will meet on Tuesday May 11th, 6pm in the Monona Community Center. We will continue our discussion of the Monona Parks and Open Spaces plan with reports on Oneida, Woodland, Three Meadows and Bridge Road Parks. The Board will also have discussion about the "Blue Park" Playground Equipment Replacement RFP. The Blue Park, as it is known by tons of Monona's kids, is slated to be removed and replaced this year. Jake Anderson is requesting $70K of capital improvement funds to cover new equipment that would be comparable to the existing structure, as well as the cost of replacing the sand ground covering with rubberized mulch. The rubberized mulch will cost an estimated $12K. I have been accused of being an old-fashioned old fogey before, mainly because I like to use what we already have. I'm not a Bigger!Brighter!Newer!=Better! type of person; there's a lot of value to using and improving what we have. I'm also not a fan of this cyclical replacement mentality; just because something has been around for 15 years doesn't mean that it's time to replace it with the latest and greatest trend. However, I have been grudgingly convinced that the Blue Park should be replaced, mainly because I have long since realized it will be replaced whether I like the idea or not. My last stronghold, though, is Director Anderson's plan to replace the sand around the play structure with that nasty rank rubberized mulch. It's a wonderment to me that I or any of my wild and woolly friends managed to survive our childhoods without the cushioning protection of chopped up used car tires. Is it just me, or does it strike anyone else as a little odd that we are now wholeheartedly convinced that our children will die on our playgrounds if they don't have a bunch of chemical-based synthetic junk to fall on? When did this idea take hold? I thought parents didn't even allow their children to fall down anymore.

From :

Research at Bucknell University has found that the leachate from ground tires can kill entire aquatic communities of algae, zooplankton, snails and fish. Even at low concentrations it can cause reproductive problems and precancerous lesions. Also, marine life from seaweeds to plankton is negatively affected.The toxic nature of the leachate from tire rubber is due at least in part to the chemicals usedin producing tires (cadmium, chromium, aluminum, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, sulfur, and zinc). Of these minerals, rubber tires may contain extremely high levels of zinc even up to 2% of the tire mass. Many plant species have been shown to accumulate zinc in their tissues to the point of death. USDA researchers who have studied the effects of metals in sewage sludge, biosolids and compost, have found that ground rubber should not be used on any agricultural or garden soil, potting media, or compost. Yes- some companies use tire chips and crumb rubber as a bulking agent for compost and we wonder why the compost does not work and is toxic to plants! Other rubber leachates have been found to cause problems from skin and eye irritation to major organ damage and even death. Long term exposure can lead to carcinogenesis and mutagenesis. For example, 2-mercaptobenzothiazole used in vulcanizing rubber is highly persistent in the environment and harmful to aquatic life. Ground rubber also contains a class of chemicals called Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that many studies have found extremely toxic to humans and the environment. Research has also found that the toxicity of leachate from the
rubber tire mulch increases over time as the rubber breaks down.

Read this article at http:// .

This is what we want to spend $12K on to dump right next to the Winnequah Lagoon? I would really like to see the Blue Park covered with adequate fall zone protection with whatever depth of sand is necessary. Not only is it cheaper, cleaner, less smelly and a whole lot more fun to play in, it won't leach into our ground water and kill off our aquatic wildlife. Call me an old fogey.

Also on tap for Park and Rec. Board: From Director Jake Anderson "Mayor Robb Kahl has requested that the existing soccer/football field at Ahuska Park be named Tom Metcalfe Field after former Mayor Tom Metcalfe. Kahl states that Tom Metcalfe was the Mayor of Monona at the time of the park being built and was instrumental in turning the site into a usable park. This would be the first step in any naming process. There would be a 30 day public input notice before the Park and Recreation Board could make a recommendation one way or another."

The Monona Grove Board of Education will meet this Wednesday evening at 7pm in the District Office Board Room in Nichols School. Unfinished business includes the discussion and possible approval of 2010-2011 Teacher Final Notices of Layoff and the possible approval of the location of the MG Alternative High School and general discussion of the Nichols Building. The two items of new business are the discussion and possible approval of district computer bids and the student fee schedule.

The Monona Family Attraction and Retention Committee will meet this Thursday in the Monona City Hall Conference Room at 6:30pm. Alderman Doud Wood will become our committee's new co-chair with Alderman Scott Munson serving as the new chairman. We plan on having a review of the Family Attraction Committee's charge and mission and a brainstorming session on future committee projects. We will also begin discussing this year's Fall Family Festival and hope to choose a date in the early fall. As always, we would welcome any volunteers to assist in the festival planning. The 2009 Festival was wonderful; we hope this year will bring another success!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Breakfast In My House: A Tragicomedy In One Act

Scene: My house. 7am. Breakfast.

Me: (trying to brush my son Avery's hair. He has been growing it out for over three years for Locks of Love. Despite that fact, he refuses to acknowledge the necessity of ever brushing his hair) Avery, I think it's time to get your hair cut. It's really getting long! I can barely get a brush through your hair.

Avery: Maybe it wouldn't hurt so much if you weren't the baddest mommy in the world.

Augustus: That's true. It wouldn't.

Avery: Yah, that IS true, that is why I said it.

Me: Avery, you need to get your hair cut.

Augustus: Yah, You don't want everyone to think you're dumb.

Avery: You're dumb.

Augustus: You're dumb.

Avery: No, you're dumb.

Dialogue ad finitum

Gerald: (making breakfast, quite possibly with both eyes closed) Mmmm, hmmmm.

Avery: Mommy, if I got my hair cut off, would I look like Daddy?

Me: Sure. You would look really nice. Let's get it cut after school today, okay?

Avery: (in abject horror) NNNNOOOOoooooooooo! NO WAY. I am NOT going to look like Daddy. He is too ugly. NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooo!

Gerald: Mmmm, hmmmm.

Augustus: (sympathetically) Dad is not ugly. Right, Dad? You're just fat. Right, Dad? Right, Dad?

Avery: No, Mommy's fat. Mommy is really fat. Mommy is the fattest person who lives here.

Gerald: Mmmm, hmmmm.

Augustus: Mom's not fat, she's pregnant. You're dumb.

Avery: No, you're dumb.

Augustus: You're dumb and fat.

Avery: You're dumb, fat and you look like a hobo.

Dialogue ad finitum

Avery: Mommy, where are you going? Mommy! I need you to cut my hair before I can go to school. I can't even see. You aren't supposed to let my hair get this long. Mommy?

Augustus: Mom, I left my violin outside yesterday.

Avery: Mommy?

Augustus: Mom?

Dialogue ad finitum

Gerald: Mmmmm, hmmmm.

Avery: Mommy, spell I cup. Out loud. Mommy!

Curtains fall, or rather, quilt is pulled up over my head as I attempt to go back to bed.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!