Call for Reviews – Doctors

We’ve had a number of people request that we do a review of area doctors, and we at RM want to hear from you as well (I really should get Milena to a dentist sometime soon), so if you have an area doctor that you and your children love, please e-mail us a review at:

We want to hear about pediatricians, family practice, dentists, and specialists!

We’ll compile your reviews into a post, which will go up late December/early January.

Thanks, everyone! Please keep your post suggestions coming!


Kids in the Rotunda – November 27

Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda is a series of free artistic programs designed for children and families which runs from the last weekend in September through April. This popular performing arts series on the Rotunda Stage offers a relaxed, kid-friendly environment in which to enjoy a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, storytellers, jugglers, theater troupes, magicians and dancers. The programs run every Saturday at 9:30 am, 11 am and 1 pm (each performance lasts around 45 minutes). The 1 pm performances are sign language interpreted.

This week’s performer is Daniel Barash (Shadow Puppetry)

“Experience the bold shapes, vivid colors, and dramatic movement of shadow puppetry, an ancient performance art in which the shadows of rod puppets are cast upon a lit screen to other-worldly effect. After introducing traditional shadow puppets from Southeast Asia, Daniel Barash will bring tales from near and far ‘to life’ using shadow puppetry. Employing audience participation throughout the puppetry retellings (children will be called upon to help handle the shadow puppets behind the screen), Daniel will introduce you to this most unique performance art. See you in the land of shadows!”

Local Family Photographers

It’s so nice to have someone capture those memorable moments in your life. And it takes a special someone to capture those moments when they involve little ones who don’t sit still and say “cheese.” We asked you, our RM readers, to tell us about your favorite local family photographers. Thanks to everyone who sent something to us and for sharing your adorable photos!

The reviews below are personal to the people who shared them. We realize that you may have hired/met with the photographers listed below and had a completely different experience. If that’s the case, please feel free to leave your own review in the comments or e-mail Raising Madison and we’ll put it on the blog!

John Kuehl was recommended by RM reader Kathy:

“I really like John’s way of photographing our kids. He doesn’t use any props or directs them how to sit/stand/walk, etc. He let’s them be who they are – kids. I also like how he uses natural light for his shots.

John also really interacts with our kids to get them comfortable with him and to get some great pictures – he’ll crawl under a bush to ‘hide’ with my son or ‘chase’ him in the grass, all while shooting pictures.”

Lea Wolf was recommended by several different RM readers! 

Britt says:
“I wanted to be sure that Lea Wolf was featured in your upcoming review of local photographers. She came to our house when our daughter Gemma was four days old to take pictures. Lea is patient, sweet, knows babies and families, and has a talented eye for color and composition. I’ve attached one of my favorites she took of our daughter. The best thing about Lea is her willingness to “wait for it” – she doesn’t force anything. Her candid shots are amazing!! She captures all the normal moments – the babe is nursing, or maybe even tearful – and makes them art. In my opinion, she’s the best in Madison.”

Wendy adds:

“I would like to tell you about our friend and family photographer Lea Wolf, with Lea Wolf Photography. She had taken our family photo for Christmas 2009 and during this past summer, 1 month after my son Lucas was born. She arrived in the late afternoon to capture the setting sunlight, and asked me of whom she should make sure to take photos. We did an indoor and an outdoor photo sessions. I have included two photos of this past summer’s session. Her website is new this year, and she’s included many sample shots.”

Courtney said:

“We rely solely on Lea Wolf to capture our family as we grow.  For over four years, she has captured our wild and organic family with an artist’s eye.  With humor, patience, and kindness, she makes the sessions pure play.  Every year, I find moments she’s captured that bring tears to my eye – the spark of independence in our five-year-old’s eye; the pure love of a two-year-old for her parents; and the private connections that the adult partners so rarely have.

We know our children will grow up too fast – and so we are grateful to Lea for her unerring ability to translate our family’s spirit and lifestyle into images we treasure.

Check out her work – bet you’ll love it as much as we do!”

Jills adds:
“When I was seven months pregnant, my mom somehow talked me into recording the moment with professional photos. I was hesitant at first – I usually hate having my picture taken AND I was huge – but I finally caved and booked a maternity/newborn shoot. I chose Lea Wolf because of her background as a doula, thinking “If this woman attends births on a regular basis, she’s seen it all.” Indeed, she has. The first session felt like hanging out with my husband and an old friend… in fact, I got so wrapped up in talking about my pregnancy and upcoming birth with her that I completely forgot about the camera.

We were so thrilled with her maternity and newborn shoots that we arranged a family shoot later that summer; once again, Lea’s natural playfulness and obvious love of her art immediately put me and my (equally camera-shy) husband and stepsons at ease. As a result, we got some gorgeous photos that really capture our personalities – especially the kids’ silliness, which we love! We couldn’t be happier with this passionate and talented photographer’s work.”

Casey Bower is a RM reader and a photographer herself! 
I’d describe my style as modern, clean and fresh. I’ve been told that

my images have a sense of warmth and familiarity about them. I strive
to have my photos tell stories about the child and family I photograph.
I also aim for pure images that can be enlarged as art

pieces for the home. To me, there is nothing more comforting than a
home filled with photographs of the people who live there.

Mallory Powers from Fitzgerald Photography shares:
I want your family session to capture your family being real.  I don’t seek out the perfect picture; you know the “dress all in the same colored shirts, pose awkwardly, and say cheese!” shot.  By learning your child’s favorite Backyardigan character and by running and playing hide and go seek, I engage with children and help draw out their personalities.  With over ten years of childcare experience and a goofy sense of humor, my portrait sessions are more like a playdate, rather than a traditional “sit here and smile nice” session.  What I do by connecting with your child is build a collection of fun and candid images that is a “portrait” of your family.  I love to capture your family laughing together, a tickle session between siblings, your son flying around the room with his favorite blanket cape or your daughter’s face in a big tantrum complete with crocodile tears.  Because, as a mother, I know that everything in childhood is fleeting and everything in childhood is beautiful in its own way.  I would love to talk more with you!”

Donna Boucher was recommended by RM reader Monica

“I can’t say enough good things about Donna Boucher. She took my son’s 2 year photos last year at a park in Waunakee and was such a wonderful person to work with. She is very sweet and has a great sense of humor (which is important when working with crazy toddlers who keep running away from the camera). It was a sunny but COLD autumn day and she happily ran all over the park with my kiddo. At one point during our shoot, she was flat on her belly at the bottom of a playground slide, waiting to capture a perfect moment.  You gotta love that!

I found her rates to be very reasonable and the quality of her prints was quite good. She’s based in Verona but will do location shoots all over the greater Madison area.”

Maureen Cassidy recommended by Kathleen:

“Our families favorite photographer has become Maureen Cassidy. I met her at a free pregnancy shoot she was conducting for pregnant women this Spring. I have returned to her to have infant photos done, and more recently family Fall Fun pictures. Maureen is calm and fun, encouraging and creative, artistic yet simple. She uses only natural light photography so there is minimal equipment as distractors for the kids, and she is better able to move around and capture the impromptu shots that really show who we are. She has two young children and understands the frequently changing needs of babies, toddlers and young children.  My only regret of her is that I didn’t know her when I got married!”

Maddy adds:
“I saw your request to hear about local photographers, and I wanted to tell you about my experiences with Maureen Cassidy. I cannot say enough great things about Maureen! She took my maternity shots as well as newborn shots of our twins. She was so fun and lighthearted, it really made the sessions fun. She interacted so well with my two-year old daughter and had lots of patience to get just the right shots. I cannot tell you how many compliments I get on the photos she took! People told me they were “breathtaking” and “unbearably cute.” I couldn’t agree more! We keep going back for more… Next week, we’re having our third session in six months! I attached a few of my favorite shots here.”

Sochi shares:

“My experience with local photographer Maureen Cassidy was so wonderful, I wanted to share it!  She is a total pro who put me at ease and made me laugh. The infant photos that she took will be with my daughter and I for the rest of our lives.

Her photos are beautiful and sweet. I think her talent for portraits and especially children is very rare.She seems to be able to translate a person’s essence straight from their eyes to the page.

Looking for a photographer? Danielle Bradley from First Moments Photography (the same lady who took our lovely Raising Madison photos) is holding an Open House! The Open House is Saturday, Dec. 11 from 11-2 pm at the new First Moments Photography Studio. There will be kid-friendly activities, photo incentives, refreshments, as well as a drawing for a free photo session.   This is a great opportunity to meet the photographer and check out some of her work. First Moments Studio is located at 4700 McFarland Court in McFarland.

Gingerbread Casas for CASA

Join the holiday fun and support Madison-area children on Saturday, November 20, from 11 am – 4 pm, during the second annual Gingerbread Casas for CASA event at the Hilldale Mall.

The event is sponsored by Dane County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an organization that works to ensure every child has a safe place to live.

– Local companies are invited to participate in a gingerbread house decorating competition in stations located down the middle of the mall hallways.

– Families visiting the mall will be encouraged to vote for their favorite house and decorate their own gingerbread cookies in the Rayovac & Remington Gingerbread Cookie Factory.

– Local celebrities will judge the entries and awards will be presented during a late afternoon reception.

– The event will be capped off with the unveiling of the World’s Tallest Gingerbread Man at 26 ft!

The gingerbread houses and the World’s Tallest Gingerbread Man will be displayed in the mall through the end of December for the holidays.

Bambino-Palooza – Nov. 20

There’s no Kids in the Rotunda this weekend due to the 40th Annual Holiday Art Fair at Overture Center. But don’t worry, because there’s always Bambino-Palooza!

This Saturday, November 20th, join Happy Bambino co-owner and blues singer, Carolynn Black, for ‘Singing Storytime’ featuring “The Best of Boynton.”

“I’ve been a fan of Sandra Boynton’s work from that first “hippo birdie two ewes” card I got as a kid. When my son Zeke was born, my mother sent us “Philadelphia Chickens” and I was re-hooked! Her kooky cartoons have been transformed into sweetly kooky songs that just get me singing along.”

Interactive performances at 10:15 and 11 am. No registration required, just show up. See ewe there!!

Happy Bambino is located at 4116 Monona Drive, Madison.

Harvest: Date Night Restaurant Review

When I first started doing restaurant reviews I promised I would include some date night choices. Well we haven’t had a “date” since March! Till last week for Dee’s birthday. Once Bebe B was fed, bathed and playing happily with her aunt we headed out from some grown-up time…and what better way then a fancy schmansy place that doesn’t have food on the floor!! We both have been wanting to try Harvest for some time now. Between the glowing reviews and the fabulous concept…we had to check it out. The Harvest Philosophy (as per their website) “Our inspiration is drawn from French and American cuisines, spotlighting locally grown, organic ingredients.”

They have an evolving seasonal menu that truly takes advantage of some of the local treasures in the area. First off you will not be disappointed by the atmosphere. It fully fit the upscale profile…our coats were taken at the door and the low lighting gave a soft and cozy glow to the restaurant (although it didn’t help my attempt to snap some shots for you with my phone). The view was great, right on the square. Our server was friendly, professional and knowledgable. The food was excellent. The wine selection was fabulous! Our server even (no questions asked) exchanged our bottle of wine after there was a slight mix-up between what we ordered and received. Before our entrees arrived our server even brought out a little complimentary taste of an AMAZING, WISH YOU HAD MORE potato and leek soup. I managed to snap a shot of the cute little soup cup (above) but I had already slurped all the soup down. For the first course I had an amazing butternut squash soup. It was creamy, rich and melted in your mouth.

Dee had the grilled marinated squid, which he adored…me not so much but I’m not huge squid fan to start with. For our main course Dee had the wild Alaskan cod and I had the roasted breast of chicken with wild rice, squash, pumpkin seeds and parsley oil. WON-DER-FUL!! For dessert Dee had the special , a corn pudding that is hard to describe but was so delicious. I had the chocolate cake. Oh so good!

Over all one amazing meal! I hadn’t even realized how much Dee had enjoyed it until we were leaving and the host asked us how everything had been, to which Dee replied “Wonderful, I have recently eaten in some very nice places in NYC and Las Vegas and you guys blew them all away” (Dee travels for work often). The prices are that of an upscale gourmet restaurant so it’s not the type of place most of us with little ones go very often but if your like us and don’t get too many chances for “date nights” I say go for it…because it is worth it. Plus you can feel good about the food and knowing where it came from. Wishing you all happy date nights!

Footnote: This is a completely unbiased review, I received no compensation for this review. We paid for our meals ourselves.

Harvest is located at 21 N Pickney Street.

Be sure to visit local mama Tara Verma’s Bebe Meals website for more restaurant reviews, Bebe Meals blog, and recipes!

Kids in the Rotunda – November 13

Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda is a series of free artistic programs designed for children and families which runs from the last weekend in September through April. This popular performing arts series on the Rotunda Stage offers a relaxed, kid-friendly environment in which to enjoy a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, storytellers, jugglers, theater troupes, magicians and dancers. The programs run every Saturday at 9:30 am, 11 am and 1 pm (each performance lasts around 45 minutes). The 1 pm performances are sign language interpreted.

This week’s performer is The Handphibians (Brazilian rhythms & songs)

“The Handphibians lay out samba-style rhythms in live performances that are guaranteed to get the whole family moving to the beat. Led by Robert Schoville, this Madison-based percussion group is a favorite at festivals and parades. Handphibian percussion is modeled on Brazilian baterias and based primarily on the Escolas de Samba, the Samba Schools of Brazil. Come experience the exhilaration of this musical form with the Handphibians!”

There will be no Kids in the Rotunda next weekend, Saturday, November 20th.