Loving dioramas

Last week, the second graders carried them carefully from the bus or car, through the main door, to their classes, so proud of their accomplishments. I watched in the main hallway with anticipation and truly as much excitement as their enthusiasm. I remember I was about their age when I built my first diorama.

During the early 1960’s, I was sitting quietly at the dinette table rolling tiny papers and painting them brown. It was a log cabin in a shoe box and the tiny rolls were logs for the fireplace. It took a long time, with little interruption to roll the logs and paint. In fact, the entire room was an effort because I was not good at art. No one in my family was good at art. But I loved making this log cabin. Maybe, because it was so much like setting up a doll house.

In the early 1990’s, I remember helping my own children; one was about actually building a tepee for an Indian habitat.  This was also during the days when the Pocahontas movie made it big in 1995. Actually, we had a Pocahontas birthday party for my daughter where they made their own cardboard paper dolls with markers, felt, glitter, beads, feathers; almost as big as each guest that came. But now, I am truly reminiscing off track.

Dioramas for school projects allow a great deal of creativity, inspiration and the materials available today are overwhelming. You can actually look at YouTube videos on how to make one out of a shoe box or display box. You can use needle nose pliers, any type of glue or masking tape though one student told me her family showed her how to use a hot glue gun, just for her diorama. She was scared but she did it without injury.

Most students used markers, crayons and some used paint to create their backdrop. Some cut up photographs or printed out photos online to add to their design. Some actually purchased craft trees of all types and one used blue marbles to show a water stream. Many used miniature animals and birds to highlight their scene. The birds actually flew, attached with string from the top of the inside of the box, not falling while the students walked down the hallways.

After seeing the children and dioramas arrive at school, I couldn’t wait to take pictures of some of them. I just had to see them again and again. I had to have something to remember. And I had to share with you!

I really do love dioramas. Maybe someone, someday, next year in school perhaps, will ask if I could help them build…..

 

Nostalgic bunny ears tales

By Caryl Clem:

Outdoor egg hunts, bunny baskets brimming with treats

The thrill of rummaging for hidden treasure sweets

Easter traditions bringing squeals of pleasure and laughter

Surprises planned for children by lovers of adventure.

Growing up in the 1950’s, I had a magical Easter bunny visitor

He hopped through the house leaving signs of his travels

His silhouette of big feet and crooked ears, unmistakable.

Numbered One clue, bunny ears sticking out of drawer

Verse tells me, “Bunny jumped from my bedroom floor

Looking for a place to spend the night inside a drawer.”

The quest turns up paper sticking out of a sock, Clue Two

Rhymed verse tells me he has left something for me to chew

Bunny ears are edging out from a living room chair seat

Clue Three heavy with taped gum, displays his feet

In the piano bench between a classical music sheet.

From room to room, the clever bunny hopped to hide candy

Humor obvious while uncovering the latest bunny ear mystery.

An empty Easter basket waited at the end, as he bids adieu

To be filled with discovered candy and my bunny ear clues .

This magical bunny has traveled within the family clan

Smiles, surprises, laughter, reborn at Easter, a legend

As children hunt down where the bunny could land.

Grand travel trends taking off

ANAHEIM, Calif. (March 26, 2019) – It’s no surprise that Millennials love to “do it for the ‘gram.” But when it comes to travel buddies, it’s Millennials’ desire to travel with Grandpa and Grandma that may surprise you.

According to a new survey from Visit Anaheim, the official destination organization for Anaheim, multi generational vacations are top-of-mind with travelers when it comes to reliving memories, while also creating new ones, with the next generation. The survey, conducted by OnePoll for Visit Anaheim, polled a sample of 1,000 Americans and found that Millennial respondents (aged 25-34) lead the category when it comes to wanting more multi generational trips, coming in at a whopping 83 percent.

“While Visit Anaheim knew that families loved reliving childhood experiences by having grandparents tag along on vacation, we were surprised by the enthusiasm that the Millennial survey respondents had for this ‘Grand travel’ trend,” said Jay Burress, president & CEO of Visit Anaheim. “Millennials often have a close relationship with their parents and are now becoming parents themselves. The Baby Boomer grandparents are incredibly active, so they can easily keep up with the grand kids. Additionally, as many smart parents have figured out, having Grandpa and Grandma around means Mom and Dad can escape to check out the local nightlife or less kid-friendly attractions, knowing the kids are in great hands.”

In fact, two thirds (66 percent) of respondents have traveled with three or more generations of their family, making vacations with grandparents, their adult children, and grandchildren, a travel trend with no signs of slowing down. In fact, the majority plan on taking more extended family trips.

Nostalgia is one of the main reasons the trend keeps growing. Many parents and grandparents love reliving memories. The majority (56 percent) “strongly agree” that multi generational trips are more special when visiting somewhere their parents or grandparents have been before and 53 percent report being “very happy” when they take trips to places they’ve previously been with their parents or children.

VISIT ANAHEIM’S GRAND TRAVEL CONTEST

With Spring vacation around the corner and Summer vacation planning in the works, Visit Anaheim is kicking off their first-ever Grand travel contest. One lucky family of six will win an Anaheim vacation, including accommodations at Great Wolf Lodge and tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm – perfect for a family of four, plus two grandparents. Contest starts Tuesday, March 26, 2019 and ends Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Enter to win here. Find rules and regulations available here.

Actress, activist and mom to four kids, Holly Robinson Peete, is helping to kick-off the contest by encouraging families to take Grandma and Grandpa along for the vacation fun.

“Anyone who watches us on ‘Meet the Peetes’ knows that my mom is a big part of our lives – and that includes vacation time,” said Robinson Peete. “Whether it’s a girls weekend in New York City visiting my daughter, Ryan, or escaping for a quick staycation to somewhere fun like Anaheim, having grandma along for the journey is something the entire family looks forward to every chance we get.”

Additional Survey Highlights

Other noteworthy Visit Anaheim survey results include:

  • LET’S HIT THE ROAD – Multi generational trips are most likely to be either a road trip

(69 percent), traveling to see family (67 percent), or a flight to a major destination (48 percent)

  • PARENTAL PLANNERS – When planning a multi generational (grandparents, parents, kids) trip, parents are most likely to choose the flights (46 percent), set the dates (38 percent), pick the hotels/lodging (44 percent) and pay for the trip (41 percent)
  • GRANDPARENT TRAVEL PERKS – Top benefits of traveling with three generations are:
    • Allows bonding time/memories to be built between grandparents and grandchildren (67 percent)
    • Spending more quality time together (65 percent)

Though packing up the minivan with three generations can be fun, over half of the respondents              (51 percent) have taken a trip where Grandpa and Grandma took the grand kids on vacation – sans their adult children. Many wanted one-on-one time with their grandchild(ren)/grandparent(s) (48 percent), others celebrated a special event or milestone (45 percent), and some believed it created a different dynamic when parents are not there (41 percent).

“Getting to spend time with your grand kids is always special, but being able to vacation with them is truly a treat,” said Dolores Robinson, Holly Robinson Peete’s mom. “My grand kids affectionately call me everything from ‘Gorgeous’ to ‘G-Money.’ It’s because we’ve carved out time to create memories that we have such a close bond. Visit Anaheim’s survey is proof that families love to travel with grandparents. And I love that they’re giving a family a chance to win a vacation to Anaheim – including spots for Grandma and Grandpa. How fun!”

Fans can watch Holly, grandma Dolores, Holly’s husband – NFL veteran quarterback Rodney Peete, and their four kids, embark on their newest adventures on season two of “Meet the Peetes,” which debuted on the Hallmark Channel in late February and airs Monday at 10 p.m./9 Central.

For more information on Anaheim and to begin planning a memorable family-friendly vacation, please visit: visitanaheim.org.

About Visit Anaheim 
Founded in 1961, Visit Anaheim is a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit destination marketing organization. Visit Anaheim’s mission is to develop, promote, market and sell the destination as a premier visitor destination benefiting the economic vitality of the local community. To learn more about Visit Anaheim, visit: visitanaheim.org and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.

Remembering your first pet: National Pet Day-April 11

By Caryl Clem:

My constant companion as a child in the 1950’s was not a doll or stuffed animal, it was a petite, soft furry black cocker spaniel named Candy.  She was difficult to hold because she would be licking you furiously while wagging her tail. A spinning top was easier to grip. She followed me no matter where I went, listened to my stories and never told anyone my secrets. She turned me into a dog lover.  After Candy passed away, Mother and Father said, “No more dogs”. I felt inspired after watching Disney movies, a pet could be any willing animal.

Next door to my house was an unsightly lot full of abandoned vehicles, commonly termed a “junk yard”. Naturally, my parents had forbidden me to travel there. During a morning stroll pass the junk yard, I could distinctly hear a dog whimpering.  My heart jumped snapping my body into rescue mode. I broke house rules, I had to find that dog!  I found more than a dog, a starving mongrel mother and puppies. I ran home to plead mercy for them.  A compromise was made between me and my parents, I could cautiously assist animals but I was not allowed to bring them home. I met with the owner of the junk yard and he agreed I could feed approved animals if I told him where they were. I did not realize I was the reason many animals went missing.  I found a variety of critters including several snakes and a snapping turtle during those years.

According to the 2017-18 statistics, over 68% of American households own pets. Dog owners are more prevalent than cats. The pet industry has tripled in the last 15 years.  Pet ownership trends in pet ownership show more seniors are adopting pets (Pets for seniors), most pet owners purchase insurance, diets focus on nutritionally balanced and organic food supplies. Pet spas are offering grooming, massage and exercise with T.V. socialization. There is even a Dog Persons Dating App. Restaurants that advertise “bring your dog to dine”  are opening.

Pets and their owners share a bond that creates a chemical in the brain that lowers blood pressure, fights depression, and lowers chance of strokes. Owning pets can reduce allergies in children according to several medical studies.  Parents debating the value of a pet should check out an excellent review of 22 studies of the impact of companion animals on child development.

The charm of animals can be enjoyed in a variety of movies. Grab some snacks and watch a few of my favorites : Finding Dory (2016), Zootopia ( 2016), Eight Below (2006), Happy Feet (2006)Finding Nemo (2003), War Horse (2001), My Dog Skip (2000),Babe(1995),Free Willy (1993)Homeward Bound, The Incredible Journey ( 1993) Adventures of Milo and Otis ( 1986) and Benji( 1974).

Getting chicken pox, measles or mumps during the 1960’s

Now, when you look up information about chicken pox, the first word that pops up is rare. The chicken pox vaccine was added to the immunization schedule in 1995.  My eyes followed more information about chicken pox gravitating on the disease description of shingles, the same virus as chicken pox’s. Shingles is not so rare for me and those over 60. Studies suggest over 95 percent of people age 40 and older have had chicken pox and it is advised to get the vaccine for shingles that originated a few years ago.

For me, it was in 1963, I  was annihilated with the pox’s. Everywhere I looked, I was marked for life. To this day, I still see one on my nose. And they itched. Nothing much took care of that back in my day….calamine lotion maybe and I was out of school for almost two weeks. I remember sitting in the den, mittens on my hands since my parents had to stop the scratching somehow.  Dad and I watched the Real McCoys on Saturday night TV in Chicago.  I remember going back to school at Kate Stugis Buckingham the first day and my teacher, Mrs Lannon, as well as classmates, were so concerned about my illness, offering me special breaks throughout the first week.  And two years later, I experienced a mild case of the mumps but not with the same kind of attention.

The recommended vaccines were developed early in the 20th century. These included vaccines that protect against pertussis (1914), diphtheria (1926), and tetanus (1938). These three vaccines were combined in 1948 and given as the DTP vaccine. Smallpox,Diphtheria,Tetanus, Pertussis, which I remember as well as the famous polio vaccine. When the polio vaccine was licensed in 1955, the country celebrated and Jonas Salk, its inventor, became an overnight hero.

In 1963 the measles vaccine was developed, and by the late 1960s, vaccines were also available to protect against mumps (1967) and rubella (1969). These three vaccines were combined into the MMR vaccine in 1971.

Now, we are protected by vaccines that include Hepatitis A and B, Pneumococcal, Influenza Rotavirus, HPV. The pneumonia vaccine is recommended for people over 65. Just last month I had the flu after taking the flu shot and experienced pneumonia at the same time and still under the age of 65. And, once again, I was off of school for over a week. I missed Valentine’s day but the kindergartners did not forget me; bringing chocolate for the holiday and making handmade headbands when I returned.

Though I was with family, not hospitalized, in my favorite bed and so grateful for classroom gifts, there is nothing like being sick with your Dad in front of vintage TV. My Dad passed away right after my attack with the mumps. Though Facebook and Twitter can be fun with the opportunity of immediate sharing one’s thought,there is nothing like returning to school without social media giving everyone a heads up. Eyes wide that you didn’t die. And big smiles on your best friends faces. Yes, there was the phone but it was just different.

Thankfully, today, I am finished with medications and x-rays. I feel great and I am not going to get shingles but after all these years, I still miss my Dad.

 

 

 

 

 

Walking turns back time

By Caryl Clem:

The cosmetic business thrives on the illusion of “looking good” and “looking younger”.  All the major retailers feature an array of make-up products and skin enhancers close to the front of the store within sight of cash registers. Heart research offers another way to look and feel better, walking.  In an article written by the Mayo Clinic about health benefits from walking, your life expectancy increases by two hours for every one hour spent walking.  In shopping jargon, spend one hour for a double return, better than buy one, get one free.  Since 2007, The Heart Association declared the first Wednesday in April as National Walking Day.

Who needs to walk? Anyone with a heart, type 2 diabetes, joint issues, high blood pressure, who wants to improve bone and muscle tone while increasing balance and coordination and reducing body fat.  Doctors recommend physical activity for kids daily is 60 minutes as a minimum; adults should do 30 minutes daily. Time management to allow time for walking may take some compromises such as 10 or 15 minute walking intervals. Walking in spurts is still better than the alternative…gravitational opposite of sitting or reclining.

Walking is not boring when you have props in place to make the time enjoyable.  I manage to walk 5 to 6 days every week at a park district facility near my home. Talking to a walking partner is the best option for making the time goes faster. The ability to listen to music or the news is done by the majority of single walkers I see with various ear bud equipment. Deepening a friendship you have or meeting new friends happens when you walk on a regular basis.

Every walker has their own story to share; overcoming a challenge in life with determination and a plan approved by a doctor. I have Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that has mandated regulating my diet and exercise. I had a massive attack when I was 38. I returned to full time employment 9 years later to retire from that career choice 21 years later. My neurosurgeon made me promise to never stop exercising and I have been able to honor that promise. I have an in-law in my family who exercises to control and manage her MS along with monitoring her diet. We are both drug free and enjoying life’s activities in spite of MS.

Soon the weather will allow my favorite form of walking, exploring the outdoors. Chicago land area has so many places to go sightseeing; I can hardly wait for a weather report predicting sun and comfortable temperatures.

Kids on wheels can thank a Chicago entrepreneur

By Caryl Clem:

Chicago hosted the World’s Fair in 1933 where businessmen showcased their products hoping for worldwide approval. A young Italian immigrant had first designed a wagon in 1917 named Liberty Coaster to honor his first impression of landing in New York. He came to Chicago hoping to own his own business, working his way up in the world by various jobs that including washing celery to sell.  By the 1930’s in Elmwood, his manufacturing firm was expanding producing his renamed wagon, The Radio Flyer.

Antonio bravely risked most of his money to grow his business as he made plans for the Chicago World’s Fair. He and another immigrant friend constructed a giant boy and his wagon for his exhibit. Antonio Pasin passed out toy wagons for 25 cents each to future customers interested in his product.  After this business venture, he became famous and firmly established his company’s image to be part of every child’s future.

Through the decades, this wagon worked its way into parents and kids worlds mixing fantasy and reality. Radio Flyers had featured specials from Disney star specials to the 1950’s model I used, “Town and Country.” I delivered papers, transported flower pots and found countless uses for my wagon. I even trained my dog to take rides as I pulled the wagon.  Antonio had a flair for appealing to his customer base by clever advertising. I recall a slogan in the 1950’s , “The only wagon to outsell the Ford station wagon”.The product line kept evolving adding scooters, tricycles, and plastic replaces metal by 1994.

The current CEO is a grandson of the Pasin founder who turned a sagging business in the late 1990’s into a powerhouse that still rocks with success selling in the 100 million dollar range.  Robert Pasin enacted product development as the main focus, researching how the product was used by the consumer. In 2011, a Play Lab with a test tract was installed in the Chicago main office. “Radio Flyer offers nice perks: flex time, parties for employees and their families, a wellness reimbursement program, an exercise room, and a garden with a walking path at Chicago headquarters.

Last year, Crain’s Business Chicago ranked the company the seventh-best place to work in the city, calling out its employee incentives and philanthropic efforts. Radio Flyer donates thousands of wagons to local and national charities.

I don’t think you can outgrow the love of a wagon ride so as Spring Days are rapidly approaching, it is time to get your Radio Flyer Wagons out of hibernation.

Chicago’s Art Institute

For me as a child in the 1960’s, it was the Thorne rooms first that truly excited me to see what was inside of the building with the huge lions. I loved dollhouses and anything miniature to collect and play.  And I also liked to visit them again during the Christmas holidays catching glimpses of holiday decorations in the rooms.

My children loved the Thorne rooms too in the 1990’s and to this day, somehow we head to them first. The rooms were elaborate and different from our own homes; a wonderful learning experience of the past where we could view a Pennsylvania kitchen in 1752 or an English cottage during the Queen Ann period.

The 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms enable one to glimpse elements of European interiors from the late 13th century to the 1930s and American furnishings from the 17th century to the 1930s. Painstakingly constructed on a scale of one inch to one foot, these fascinating models were conceived by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago and constructed between 1932 and 1940 by master craftsmen according to her specifications. Her work shows the upper class homes in England and Frances as well. Hours can be spent visiting the Thorne room exhibit and examining the precise details behind the glass in cased rooms.

From here, it was important to see the Georges Seurat painting  A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and we were interested in counting the dots. The Art Institute has one such sketch and two drawings. We also had to see the most popular American Gothic by Grant Wood. This familiar image was exhibited publicly for the first time at the Art Institute, winning a three-hundred-dollar prize and instant fame for Grant Wood. The image contained the farmer with his pitch fork and daughter in front of their house.

And then it was on to the gift shop and being a true lover of all books, this was one of my favorite shops. Though not a good painter or sculpture by any means, the shop had wonderful art books, postcards, colored pencils, special paper, and reproductions such as Monet’s Water Lilies. And today, they offer fashion items and jewelry. You can created an account and order online.

Today, there are a variety of dining options at the Art Institute that includes a fine dining restaurant called Terzo Piano. There is the Museum Cafe that provides great choices for kids and the Balcony Cafe that provides a snacks and desserts.

 

Tribute to single parents on March 21st

By Caryl Clem:

On March 21st, a shout out and special THANK YOU to single parents for meeting the challenges of raising children solo. Praise for the over 19 million single parents facing all the duties parenting involves with dedication and devotion.

Factors that lead to single parenting are diverse in today’s culture. Parenting magazine covers a wide range of possibilities from a war veteran returning to Vietnam to take his child back to the United States to a never married, over 40 years old woman, internationally adopting a child.  The 1960’s research to uncover why single parenting occurred pointed to lack of birth control and poor education. In the broad spectrum of single parents today, only 13% are the result of teen pregnancy.  The frequency of divorce has had a much larger impact. According to recent statistics, over 44% of single mothers were married. The image of an “average” single mother today is changing from past perceptions. She is older, educated, has full time employment, and participates in a network of community support while raising more than one child.

Over 3 million men are the sole parent, shouldering the double parenting roles on their own. Today’s single parents represent an exceptionally talented and skillful group who are able to navigate the seas of child rearing successfully. Moving forward, children of single parents are able to be just as successful as children from two parent homes.

The “to do” list for raising emotionally stable children applies to everyone.  Current research is documenting that positive single parent kids have these advantages:  1) closer communication bonds with their parent and involved family caretakers 2) ability to respond to situations sharing responsibility 3) are friendly and cooperative working with others. (Nicole Lyn Pesce, “Research shows single moms are raising kick-ass kids” March 20, 2018.)  As single parents increase their support systems, the premise, it takes a village, pays off for their children. New York Post quote, “The children of many single-parent families have the same success as those with married parents”.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to share shaping a child’s dreams into a future reality understands the mix of magic and challenges. Today, single parenting has resources from support groups and community organizations. Since 1957 the agency, Parents without Partners, has been offering a spectrum of services to address the needs single parenting presents. The birthday of this group is March 21, a fitting day to declare a tribute to single parents!  In recognition that family is the most important factor in our lives; praise for the single parents in our communities!

Are leprechauns real?

For me, it was the Lucky Charms cereal created in the 1960s that first talked of magic and leprechauns. Lucky the leprechaun( he actually smoked a pipe) debuted in 1964 with an expensive marketing approach featuring colored ads and comic books. It worked and the cereal still is magically delicious.

Usually bearded, little old men; leprechauns like to get into trouble. If captured by humans, they are often granted three wishes. Others say that they have to tell you where the pot of gold is. When my son was four now 31, I was traveling on a business trip out of the state but arrived home on St Patrick’s day. It was then that my son’s room was totally destroyed trying to catch a leprechaun in a special shoe box designed for that purpose.  The box was intricately built with string that stretched from box to window but no leprechaun. Even after trying to clean his room together; hoping to convince him that we would eventually find the leprechaun. We did end up with a clean room, better than ever, but no luck with catching this creature.

Now as an assistant in kindergarten last week, there is still Lucky the leprechaun. I have not seen him yet. Last week, he began visiting, secretly watching and left two messages for the teacher concerning the children s behavior which had not been the best. Lucky usually leaves treats at this time but the classroom teacher has said that Lucky has not been real happy with students speaking without raising their hand and not cleaning up after recess.

But last week on a Thursday night, Lucky appeared; making a mess of the room, writing on the board and leaving treats at the children’s tables since behavior had improved the day before. I did not see him which many asked if I had. The children told me that I had to look for a little guy with a hat. If he didn’t have a hat, he was not a leprechaun.

This week, the activities with Lucky continue. We spent one day writing individual designs of traps to catch Lucky and the day after, build traps with tooth picks and marshmallows. From what I have heard, they have not caught Lucky or any leprechaun in the past but remnants of leprechaun life were left behind.

On Thursday, 21 traps of marshmallows and tooth picks have been built with fake gold coins in the traps. And on Friday, Lucky left footprints and walked over the traps because he thought it was a playground. He also left special treats.

Now is it really Lucky or the teacher? After packing my bag today in an empty room at dismissal, I thought I heard someone laughing at me. No one was in the room. I turned to walk out and heard the tee hee again. And I checked the corners…..nothing. I practically ran to the parking lot!

One more week until spring break!