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.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

 

 

 

My Valentine

By Caryl Clem: (Wedding photo 70 years ago)

Sharing life with you carries no expiration date

To the contrary, time spent deepens how we relate

Your smile, your laugh, company and loving embrace

Bring me into a new realm, boundary free space

 

Life is a daily adventure to explore

With you, feeling stronger, secure

Ready to discover a rewarding future.

Beside you, positive feelings magnify

Enjoying life with you regains intensity

Rewarding moments too many to measure.

 

You listen when I need your silence

When I can’t speak, you’re my voice

In any weather, you’re my constant choice

To uncover with my lover, reasons to rejoice.

 

You’re a mix of mystery and stability

Companion, partner, we share cajolery

As we hold hands and shoot for the stars

Renewing zest for life by creating loving memoirs.

It is a wonderful school

“My whole life has been in education,”  I said in conversation with the principal at Elizabeth Ide School a few days ago. And so I begin to reminisce.

This all began over 50 years ago for me; babysitting, reading books, and playing with the neighborhood toddlers at the age of 12. Over 40 years ago, I began teaching high school for ten years and then began teaching junior high at a special education alternative school. I would have stayed, but the money wasn’t the best for putting two children through college.

For 10,000 dollars more, I was offered an administrative position at a for-profit college which I took. My children could take advantage of tuition reimbursement. But that school had a massive, corporate lay off which I was included. Like a car salesman being picked up at another dealership, I was picked up by another school. Finally, the school or should I say company, closed for good. Eventually, it was agreed upon in my family that applying for a teacher assistant or becoming a substitute would be the best choice.Those positions are always in demand.

So I subbed and assisted in one of the more highly-acclaimed and well-paid districts in Naperville. I saw some excellent teaching. I saw some very poor instruction of teachers  lecturing to a classroom; constantly glancing at their cell phone. I heard a teacher call a student a jerk.

I had applied to a variety of schools at the time and I always loved the kindergarten as well as the early, primary grades. The day after I had been hired at Elizabeth Ide School, grades kindergarten through second in Darien, it was God’s gift that one who knew my employment struggle and was a personal job reference revealed that his children went to the school. I had no idea.

“It is a wonderful school,”  he said. I also found out that another friend was employed for over 30 years within the same district…..Center Cass School District 66, though she was at another school that had closed. “The culture is so competent and caring there,  she said. At the time, I did not realize her school was part of the same district.

After assisting almost two years at the school, it truly is a wonderful school! I don’t think I have ever seen a teacher who is not totally focused on expressing learning opportunities for their students. They are constantly on in a positive light. They are engaged in their children’s needs from the time they arrive in the morning until they leave at night. They are brilliant at executing ideas to help students grow. They know exactly how to help build amazing futures for them.

Throughout the entire district, the teachers love their job, but most of all, they love their students with a passion unequal to most school environments that I have observed.  Administration,assistants and support staff also intensely work, side by side, to demonstrate their love and pride for the students.

Currently, the district teachers are fighting for a fair contract. They have been without a contract since August 2018. According to CCEA Inspires, if the Board accepts the teachers proposal, no new taxes will affect the community as well as no program cuts.

Then why????

Why aren’t we assuring that the best educators remain in the district? In the process, if teachers and staff are able to thrive, we are also guaranteeing that the value of our home and village is recognized as one of the most promising as far as education excellence. Our own children will want to raise their families here.

Even if present home owners taxes were increased, the advantages far outweigh the immediate circumstances. As a homeowner of over 30 years in a neighboring Downers Grove school district, I have voted yes to numerous referendums and supported teacher strikes while watching my property value almost double.

Maybe the Board just doesn’t realize how valuable their teachers really are. Maybe all I can do is try to share my experience and help them re-examine the teachers proposals.

Ultimately, you can help too. If you are a member of the community or just interested in supporting the teachers at Center Cass School District 66, the Board of Education is providing an Informational Session next week for parents and friends to learn more.

Please check out the Center Cass website. The teachers need your attention and time is running out.

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If you missed the Christmas Story

Decades ago, my wings were cockeyed and my Mom was not happy. Dad was coming to church that day to see me in the Christmas Pageant. Of course, I was an angel and my first time in the Christmas story. I didn’t have to say anything but just look pretty. Ms. Elaine, who was Mom’s best friend and my Sunday school teacher, adjusted my wings just perfectly. How I loved to perform for Dad. In later years, I played piano solos in the small sanctuary at St Lukes Church in Chicago’s south side. In The Bleak Mid Winter was Mom’s all-time favorite. Dad admired my courage to memorize the notes.

Somehow, it all came back to me as I watched the children perform the same story at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove. Joseph surprised me with such character and enthusiasm that you can tell he, actually in real life…. a girl named Ella, is a true, professional actor. Joseph’s brother, Cannon, showed amazing charisma as he sang the final song….a diversion from time and place…We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Mary had a beautiful presence and strong voice while the Christmas Star…a brilliant cloth covered star had a wonderful smile, which was about all I could see of the real person.

And the Angels…..they were dressed in a variety of gowns and white accessories looking their best in song for the hundreds of parishioners watching their performance. The Dads,Moms, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins; so excited to be a part of their lives. Or just friends like me who felt the expressive spirit of the true meaning of Christmas as they described the birth of the baby Jesus.

In later years for me, our church burned downed by arson and though some of us continued on to another church, I remember the blackened sanctuary that was damaged the most. But it could not destroy the memories of beautiful plays, piano recitals,  genuine pastoral sermons of such a close community and most of all, trusted friendships.

First Congregational United Church of Christ  is like that……united in faith, love, service and community. No matter who you are, or where you are in life’s journey, you are welcome. The church offers a wide variety of children’s programs, music opportunities and mission trips. Its a place where questions are answered and you can grow together in respect, trust and build those same family memories. If you can’t attend,check out their service online.

There is always a place there…….. for another angel!