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…..

 

Pitching in on Earth Day April 22

By Caryl Clem:

Upon hearing the word “Earth”, I envision lofty mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, and majestic examples of earth’s geography.  I feel filled with a mixture of awe and gratitude for our planet. In 1970 on April 22, a movement led by a Harvard Law School student, brought 20 million people together to show support for protecting the environment, the first Earth Day. I am reminded that viewing the earth is only part of the big picture. My actions influence how the earth will continue to appear and function as a life giving resource.

While listening to television, I am encouraged to support 4ocean, a  company founded by 2 surfers that has removed over 4 million pounds of plastic trash from the ocean since 2017.  All these efforts were funded by selling  products made from recycled trash.   Explaining how the company improves the environment is covered in these four pillars: Optimizing Technology, Creating Jobs, Education & Awareness and New Global Economies.  A bracelet titled, Earth Day, is among the selection of various styles.

About 2 years ago,  I decided to cut out plastic grocery bags.  The sturdy cloth bags that were used to haul my books were converted to food transport. I was inspired by standing behind a lady insisting groceries to be placed in bags she supplied. The food industry is starting to respond from pressure to reform packaging.  Trader Joe’s is taking steps to eliminate plastic after a Greenpeace petition with 91,000 signatures demonstrated consumer concern about plastic. McDonald’s has announced plans to eliminate harmful food packaging .  Two American companies are providing safer packaging https://begreenpackaging.com/, and https://worldcentric.com.   Begreenpackaging states the products are 100% tree free constructed from plant fiber.

American ingenuity is evident in finding ways to reduce pollution. Stay informed by using this link www.goodnet.org  to discover advances to protect our planet such as Dow company building polymer asphalt roads in Texas, and Dykes Paving using pins to stabilize roads made from soda bottles. Maryland is the first state to take steps with bill-HB109 to ban polystyrene containers.  A technique to use plastic bags to power Smartphones was published in February at Good News 

Since 65% of our drinking water comes from rivers, clean river water is vital. Our citizens are pitching in using“the National River Cleanup Program™, more than one million people have removed 13 million pounds of litter from rivers across America.” Deciding to take action can lead to positive changes.

Millions of consumers demanding environmentally safe products will impact the quality of air and water. As nine countries make plans to eliminate gasoline fuel emissions, electric cars will dominate the market.  Our lifestyles determine pollution control. Every step counts, it’s up to us to care.  To a future of thinking and doing GREEN for our precious earth.

Want some tips for cutting plastic out of your life? Start here.

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).

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.

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!

Dr. Seuss

Sally and her brother watch the rain pour outdoors while Mother is away. They have nothing to do. They have no massive TV, cell phone, computer, iPad and they can’t wait for The Cat In the Hat to step through the door in 1957, written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss and published on March 12. As an early reader myself when the book was brand new, I was terrified that the kids, the cat, Thing One and Two, would not clean the house in time for when Mother would come home. I also was so amazed at the massive machine the Cat came up with to clean the home.

As kindergarten students are introduced to The Cat in the Hat today, celebrating Dr. Seuss week, I noticed that the machine isn’t as entrancing as it was for us since households probably have all sorts of vacuums, carpet cleaners and electronic robots to take over the house work just like the Cat.

Geisel created the book in response to a debate in the United first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2016, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide. Discussions were established about literacy in early childhood and the ineffectiveness of traditional primers such as those featuring Dick and Jane.

It was One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish that I can’t forget because Dr Seuss truly had a gift with the 1960s rhyming book.  You may not remember the story but always the title. Though I think the kindergarten class today liked the adventures of Jay and Kay. As of 2001, over 6 million copies were sold and in 2007, it was named one of the top books for children .

The next day in the class the teacher read Green Eggs and Ham. I forgot to wear green and I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, Sam I am! I kept whispering throughout the story that he was not going to eat those moldy eggs and ham. The children kept telling me that he was because this wasn’t about bad food, it was about friendship. I was quite amazed at their realization. Green Eggs and Ham was first published on August 12, 1960. As of 2016, the book has sold 8 million copies worldwide.

It was Wacky Wednesday. That is what we read and the children came in wearing all sorts of wacky clothes and shoes. I had forgotten about dressing up since I am just wacky anyway  so one student showed me how he had turned his shirt around and I did the same with my sweatshirt. He was pleased. Wacky Wednesday was originally published in 1974, one of my own children’s favorites.

Actually, Dr. Seuss’s birthday is today, March 2nd, 1904 and his second wife just passed away in December. Probably one of my favorite quotes “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
― Dr. Seuss, Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to you too, Dr. Seuss!

Hula hoops and jump ropes

I sit and watch the kindergarten boys and girls compete to see how long they can keep those plastic circles twirling around their waist. Two can go almost a minute without dropping the hoops. And it takes intense practice outside of P.E class to become accomplished at hula hoop proficiency. I never could hula hoop. I never understood why people wanted to hula hoop. It still ceases to amaze me but I will most certainly cheer on the little ones as they try.

The modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr, but children and adults around the world have played with hoops throughout history. And the hula hoops for children are smaller in size.The hula hoop craze swept the world, dying out again in the 1980s, but not in China and Russia, where hula hooping and hoop manipulation were adopted by traditional circuses and rhythmic gymnasts. There has been a re-emergence of hula hooping, generally referred to as either “hoopdance” or simply “hooping” to distinguish it from the children’s play form and of course, have become popular in school gyms as a form of fitness exercise.

Another form of fitness exercise in school gyms across America is jump roping.  As a child I enjoyed, jumping on two feet, skip jumping, or even double dutch. The P.E teacher gives his students different options to learn how to jump rope; learning how to jump in place, skip in place and swinging the rope from front to back. He knows exactly the correct verbage to help them succeed. And they practice and practice and practice. It is hard to jump continuously….they are not there yet. Maybe, some can get five jumps in a row! However, if it is only one skip, Mr. K generously praises, guiding them on to keep trying.

There are multiple subsets of skipping/jump rope including: single freestyle, single speed, pairs, three person speed (double dutch), and three person freestyle. There are hundreds of competitive teams all around the world but schools rarely have jump rope teams.

I loved to jump rope, by myself or with friends when I was a child. But with back issues, I am afraid to JUMP. However, with hope, courage and admiration for the children who keep going,  I found a student who was having a rough time. I actually did one skip jump for her and she followed with the same.

For me, a small tinge of back pain and personal development happened. I dropped the rope to the floor while moving on….not getting too carried away with myself.

My work here was done!