Memories and moments

Poetry by CARYL CLEM:

At last, your time-RETIREMENT

Relax, sit back and reflect:

Mrs. G. wonders, how can a school year be over?

Doesn’t learning demand a 24/7 time slot endeavor?

Her mind keeps spinning, imploring, exploring,

By the end of summer, she’s back, invigorated,

Ready to try unique ways to keep students motivated.

Your creativity evident in themed bulletin board presentations,

As personally designed 1960’s car dot roads across states.

Spurred by curiosity, students research famous landmark information.

“Road Trip” signs symbolize travel, visually stimulate.

In your class, students imagination traveled outside the pages

Sympathizing with characters going through various stages.

 

During English, students write about their heroes and champions,

Colorfully portrayed in pamphlets with explanations,

Absorbing  the art of vocabulary, conquering meaningful inquiry,

Evolving as an author in a diary,

Experiencing reading and writing coordination.

 

Native American Indian history, redefined along new lines,

Students build Indian lodging, following environmental designs.

Reporters appear to interview student experiences and perceptions,

Becoming a featured newspaper article full of student illustrations.

In “ Brain Strategies” class , subject of Chicago Tribune coverage

Students discuss understanding the brain as an advantage.

You were ever finding a new angle

Laying a sound education foundation

While increasing student performance and morale.

 

Through the years, constant character building and molding,

Every student hears from you,” You will always be under my consideration.”

Alongside History, English, and Reading skill forming curriculum.

As students gained confidence, a learning model unfolding,

Knowledge bases scaffolding resulting in a diploma,

Students overcoming drop-out of high school stigma.

You encouraged dreaming, to become what you are perceiving.

Students learned first -hand the power of positive affirmations.

 

No more challenges of moving stuff in a room to a different location

Or the countdown to  the completion of pages of documentation.

 

May laughter and smiles crowd your days

As you express yourself in new meaningful ways.

Taking our ministry to the streets

I don’t remember mission trips in my early childhood church life. Though at one point in time, I wanted to join the Peace Corp and so did my daughter…not really sure where that came from but many of us thought that was the road to take….especially if we were going to run away from home.

However, I do remember my own children helping and giving to charities through church and school here in Downers Grove but never in the same capacity as a mission trip out of the state or country.

Mission trips help to promote generations of strong disciples connected to churches while leading with God. I wish that I would have started a tradition in my own family. Though it is never too late; parents or even grandparents can can set an example and travel with their children growing closer together in God’s love.

First Congregational United Church of Christ of Downers Grove traveled over 1,000 miles to Houston Texas last month to help people in need and returned with a message never to ignore any of God’s people. We have the power to build A Beautiful City, a song by Hunter Parrish, presented by Dena Provenzano, Director of Youth Ministries at the Sunday service describing the trip.  Other mission workers were eager to share a summary of their participation in Texas.

Many of the youth that have attended mission trips in the past found this trip to be the most impactful; finding that just simple loving conversations with the underprivileged was how they could help the most.

Madison talked about one homeless lady who wanted a certain bag of chips and Gatorade so they went to buy her the food. Madison said that when they came back to give the lady the food, she could not believe that they did come back probably one of Madison’s most memorable experiences.

Luke enjoyed working at the food bank and was amazed at the number of meals they made which totaled about 5,000.

Faith sat next to a woman at Crosswords and despite all the women’s problems she asked Faith questions about her life, what she did and really listened to Faith’s answers.

Erin talks about Crosswords also for the homeless and she talks about one guy who was having a bad day. She was able to calm him down and it truly opened her eyes to what others go through. Erin is so fortunate for what she has and will never forget that experience.

Joe said just giving homeless people food was one of the most positive events in his life.

George talks about how anyone can be homeless at one time or another such as a linebacker he met who had played in the Rose Bowl. Vinny talks about how grateful  people were at the time for the little help that they could give. No matter what happens in life  …Madison says…… God will be there, no matter what.

Mady talks about bringing sack lunches to Rainbow house and it really opened her eyes on how she had food when so many children did not.

Pastor Scott Oberle, who also attended the trip, was amazed at the fantastic group of young adults that were like shining stars in the darkness and was proud that he could serve with this group.

After sharing this story with a friend who lives in the northern suburbs today, a guest speaker at her church; a young teen just returned from a mission trip in Houston, Texas. Imagine….he said the he never felt more embraced by the love of Christ and how Christ changes lives.

For more information about the music, arts, teaching, worship and mission programs you may want to experience, please click on First Congregational United Church of Christ in Downers Grove.

What are your children doing this summer?

As a child, with the exception of weekend trips, summer vacation was not always fun for me. Reading alone was difficult and I did receive help when in school but I envied those that enjoyed sitting down on a rainy afternoon with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. I also missed my best friend who went to summer day camp. It wasn’t fair and to this day, I am not sure why I couldn’t go with her. Sadly, I would wait on the sidewalk for the bus to drop her off. Some days were long….very long for me, my dolls and my swing set.

When my own children were growing up, many summers I worked, but I always tried to make every vacation or field trip a true learning opportunity. We always visited museums and trips would focus on their interests. For example, my son loved trains so there was always visits, to unique train shops, museums, and of course, rides on the Chicago Metra. My daughter loved photography and she spent a few days with a photographer to learn more about the working world of that profession; exposing her to possible career choices in the future.

Dr. Pam Roggeman is a proven academic leader familiar with and passionate about technology in progressive education and has extensive experience designing curriculum; preparing teachers in a university setting. She currently serves as the Academic Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix. Below, she provides wonderful suggestions for a summer filled with fun, learning, self-improvement skills and essential family time.

Create a “matching agreement.” For every hour spent in front of a screen entertaining themselves, have your child match that time in with a learning activity. Most book stores or a quick online search will have workbooks for math, reading and writing to practice skills. Have your kids do work like this to “earn and accumulate” time they can bank for screen time.

Set “learning self-improvement goals” such as a number of books read, minutes of math tutorials a day, or pages written and then agree on a fun reward for goals attained. Make it more meaningful to your kids by allowing them to decide what they’d like to learn and study. Make it even more meaningful by creating rewards for attaining the goals. These rewards don’t have to cost you anything – maybe they can earn sleepovers with friends, breakfast in bed or “owning” the TV remote for a night.

Summer reading can be essential for students to maintain and continue building their reading skills. This summer, help your children find books that will make the child think on a much larger level. Together, explore your child’s interests and find books that feed those interests.

Encourage your children to keep a journal to regularly document their activities throughout the summer. This is key because kids will start to see their accomplishments on paper. This can be a conversation starter at the dinner table, “what did you do today that will make it into your journal?” When they go back to school and the teacher asks, “What did you do all summer?” they will have the best answer in class!

Look for educational camps and structured social activitiesthat parents can in participate with their children. Make every vacation an opportunity to have the whole family grow and learn together. Maybe visit a different museum in a town nearby that would make a great day trip, or when you take that drive to the local national or state park, take the time to read the information about its origin and why it was established. Be the parent who researches and does the leg work to find the fun, educational activities at your local community center and invite your child’s best friend to attend.

Use the summer to do the kind of learning you don’t have time to do during the school year.

Capture

By CARYL CLEM

Never too late to capture a dream

Rekindle hopes, aspirations redeem

No limits, ahead an endless stream

Emotions on fire, bright as a diamond’s gleam.

A day lost in time with no tomorrow

Love, generosity, absolutely no sorrow

Nothing regretted, nothing reserved

Momentum builds as does nerve

Finally free from the past

Roles, rewards newly cast

Soul’s freedom of expression

Uncovers thirst for exploration

Just ahead out of view

An adventure is waiting for you

Holding on is letting go

Faith tempering ego

Jump forward, risk it all

Possession is perception’s recall.

 

Wisconsin Dells Sunday dinner

 

“Put on you gloves,” Mom said. And she wasn’t referring to my woolly mittens during winter’s blast. They were dainty white gloves that ended at the wrist, tapered fingers, usually with a pearl closure. It was summer at our favorite vacation spot, the Wisconsin Dells, and we were going to a grand place for Sunday dinner.

Living on the south side of Chicago, we could drive in our Vista Cruiser since airline tickets were expensive in the 1960’s. Though we switched up motels several times on various trips, we never stopped visiting the Tommy Barlett Water Show and we never stopped dressing in our best for dinner. White gloves, a small grown up white clutch purse and, of course, a neatly styled dress; nothing less was expected for the occasion.

Just minutes from Wisconsin Dells located in Mirror Lake State park, you wind through the beautiful woods to the Hoffman Brothers restaurant built in 1953, situated right on the shore of Mirror Lake, Ishnala. My father loved the restaurant built into nature where giant Norway pines grow through the roof. Though only a child under 12, our first stop at the restaurant with my parents was the Arrowhead Bar built in the shape of an arrowhead with a breathtaking view of the bluffs.  Here is where we waited for our seat in the dining room and I could actually sit at the bar in those days. Served like an adult, I graciously sipped the famous kiddy cocktail with maraschino cherries, loaded with sugar, before being seated for dinner.

The house specialty was prime rib but I always got to choose a steak, medium rare, regardless of the cost. The rustic but elegant surroundings in red offered that reverent experience of unbroken time with my parents so long ago. Both now both have passed; not able to tell their daughter how proud they are of her well-practiced manners, always reminding her how she will grow into a lovely woman someday.

But to carry on tradition, I took my own children to this supper club that boosted over 50 years of popularity.  My son and daughter, pre-teen in age at the time, fought as usual, not quite as enamored as I was and were more content with a grilled cheese sandwich and fries then prime rib. Their unpracticed manners or should I say complete rudeness did not go unnoticed. And no, white gloves, were not a part of their Sunday apparel. The thought of professional class and style, ties, sports jackets and a dress could only be described in my warped imagination. Needless to say, I was disappointed at the outcome of our visit.

However, years later we found a picture together of what I thought, a failed excursion that I had quickly snapped for posterity, gobbling their Ishnala food. It was remembered fondly that this was the restaurant where their grandparents, had rekindled their love for family. Imagine that, they had paid attention to the intent after all; an unexpected response to the trip that I thought a waste of time and money.

As a result, they are trying to save their pennies for their own Sunday dinner that offers timeless beauty and what will hopefully be for them,  another excursion of cherished family memories.

Look to see if that favorite restaurant, park, even movie house is still thriving and insist on taking them for a visit. Though popcorn may be the only immediate source of your children or even grandchildren’s concern, they may surprise you in the long run.

Where do you go for ice cream in Chicago?

As summer begins to blossom in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs, so do trips with family to the ice cream parlors and there is nothing like a step back in time with some of the old-time ice cream shops that are unchanged from decades earlier.  Offering superb ice cream homemade creations. During the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, ice cream saloons began to spring up known as ladies cafes  with lavish gaslight, mirrors and gilded chairs. Today, the best parlors also boost homemade cones, unique sauces and sundae toppings that offer fresh fruit and nuts to the already sumptuous ice cream special.

Petersens

Hans Petersen trained as Confectioner in his native land and more than 90 years ago opened his first ice cream shop in Oak Park. Creamy homemade ice cream includes such flavors Mackinac Island Fudge with rich fudge chunks in vanilla ice cream and excellent hot fudge sundaes. Distributing products throughout the US, Petersen’s offers old fashioned ambience and outdoor seating during the summer. basis.

The Brown Cow

Only a short distance from Petersens, The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor in Forest Park was recently featured on the Cooking Channel and Sinful Sweets. The parlor’s ice cream is homemade and they also serve freshly baked pies and cakes. Drinks feature homemade brown cow root beer  and several ice cream flavors that include bubble gum . Brown Cow will also host your next event and decorate as well.

Tates

Old fashioned ice cream in LaGrange, IL  offers walls filled with history and great opportunity for little ones to host a tea party with their favorite dessert. Family owned Tates has been making their own ice cream for over 24 years and offers a wonderful banana split, chocolate malted milk and raspberry truffle. Tates offers special days that include loving Friday Treats and the occasional special guest like Snow White.

Plush Horse

For over 75 years the Plush Horse in Palos Park offers a nostalgic atmosphere with an overwhelming selection of homemade ice cream flavors such as egg nog  for the holidays.  Plush Horse offers a variety of ice cream with out sugar added as well as sorbet that includes a Sangria flavor and a  popular caramel sea salt gelato. Parties are available in a private room of vintage charm .

Bobtail

On Broadway in Chicago, another quality ice cream parlor with cozy decor that represents the 1950’s ice cream adventure. Featuring special sundaes such a their s’more combination and  a vanilla milkshake with double espresso. Besides ice cream originals, Bobtail offers an amazing German chocolate cake and carrot cake They also sell at wholesale prices to cafes and ice cream shops looking to scoop super-premium homemade ice cream for cones, cups, sundaes and shakes

Rainbow

On the southwest side of Chicago, the original 90 year old Rainbow cone shop was  a legendary Chicago favorite. It still offers the cone that is packed with five ice cream flavors including chocolate, strawberry, Palmer House which is a New York Vanilla with cherries and walnuts, pistachio and finally orange sherbet to finish the top of the cone. Just recently, the ice cream shop will have a small kiosk on Navy Pier’s South Dock.

Finnigan’s Ice Cream Parlor

Inside the Museum of Science and Industry, Finnigan’s ice cream offers tiffany lighting and  antique servicing pieces still used to represent the turn of the century. Finnigan’s is based on a real Hyde Park ice cream parlor that opened in 1917. Ice cream including their banana split is excellent with massive scoops for servings. Finnigan’s is located on the second floor of the museum behind the coal mine

Homers Gourmet Ice Cream

Homemade gourmet ice cream was produced in 1935 and some say that gangster Al Capone was a frequent visitor for  a thick, creamy ice cream treat at Homers located in Wilmette, Il.  Still using the original recipe from Guy Poulos in 1935, Homers offers some unique flavors such as burgandy cherry, green tea and kona Hawaiian coffee ice cream. They also offer a wide variety of fruit sherberts and frozen yogurts.

Capannari Ice Cream

A quaint little shop located in Mount Prospect, IL, Capannari old fashioned ice cream is another great stop on your ice cream journey famous for their black forest licorice flavor and madagascar vanilla. Capannari hosts a multitude of free, family events including their signature Mooo-vie Night and Concert -In-The-Park Series, also supporting local schools. Others have also raved over the cherry Bordeaux and chocolate peanut butter crunch.

 

Clif Pro Team Athlete, Hannah Rae Finchamp talks about biking safety

We still have the old movies. I watched them today. My father couldn’t wait to film me riding my first blue and white bike with hand brakes; one of my favorites sports during childhood. Always smiling with excitement, as I watch the now converted movies from 8 millimeter to DVD, trying to wave at the camera as I flew by, faster and faster.

When my two children were young, I remember my neighbor buying beautiful bikes for them that I could not afford at the time. How they loved their bikes and neighbor who has passed away. And all of us still ride today. Choosing special days, especially this month, to ride for local errands instead of driving a car. Though sometimes I need reminders on how I can prepare for the best quality ride as I age or mature for a better word!

May is National Bike Month. Throughout the Chicago area, riders encourage a car-free commute, experiencing the joys and benefits of bicycling to work and school. One wholesaler, Clif Bar and Company, provides nothing but organic food and drink that inspire energy while celebrating this month.

At Clif, they are truly passionate about food that creates healthy adventure when hiking or cycling. Clip helps to support an adventurous community of athletes including Clif Pro Team Athlete, Hannah Rae Finchamp. Part of the Pro Team’s youth movement, Hannah Rae came to the squad in 2013 through the sport of XTERRA where she is a two-time amateur world champion (winning these titles – overall, not age group – at ages 16 and 17(!) respectively)

Hannah offers some great suggestions to improve everyone’s personal bike ride:

1. There is never a bad time to start. Cycling is what we like to call a “life sport” meaning you can do it at any time and in all phases of life. While many college athletes are forced to hang up their equipment after school, many people are purchasing bikes later in life as a way to commute and to exercise. Start small and plan it out.The less experience you have on two wheels the more time you should spend planning, mapping, and researching. There is no better way to ruin a ride than to end up lost and without water 20 miles away. At the beginning, leave yourself wanting more and as you become more and more comfortable allow yourself to experience the freedom that cycling can bring.

2. I think the biggest pain point of riding to work has to do with preparedness. Find a small and comfortable bag that you can pack all your essentials in. Camelbak has some perfect options. Make a plan as to where to store your bike during the work day. Does your office have a space where you can store it? If not, purchase a light weight and strong bike lock that you can travel with wherever you go. Finally, during the winter months, make sure you have lights that you can turn on for the commute home.

3. Always wear a helmet. That is rule number 1, and frankly there is never an excuse to break it. The helmet isn’t necessarily because you will crash, it’s there to protect you from everyone else.

See attached flow chart for riding on the road suggestions.

4. The biggest suggestion I can make for the road is to purchase some high quality bike lights.There is no price to be put on safety. I spent many days during my college career riding at 5:30 am and my bike lights were the only thing that gave me peace of mind that I was safe. I would recommend a 700 lumen front light and a red, blinking rear taillight.

5. Nutrition and hydration are key. The longer the ride the more fuel you will need. Make sure you have a bottle cage on your bike and a bottle that you can drink out of while riding. Especially if you are new to exercise you’ll find yourself hungrier than usual. Don’t give into the vending machine at work, pack yourself some sort of quality snack for after your ride. A Clif Builder Protein Bar would be perfect to give you the nutrients you need and to keep you satiated until lunch time.

Parents are highly encouraged to participate in their child’s digital play

As a recess first grade monitor, children’s first choice is outside on the playground or playing soccer though some that may be shy will sit on a bench with me until someone offers them a swing or slide. Indoor recess when the weather is poor is always in the classrooms playing in groups without technology. Those choices usually includes building Lego,Jenga mountains or cooking with silly putty in small groups.

They love traditional play times and will work hard not to lose any recess minutes. All the children have an I pad and our given breaks to play educational digital games. Both types of play are generally exciting to the boys and girls. But is one better than the other?

The Genius of Play  is a national movement to raise awareness of play’s vital role in child development, spearheaded by the Toy Association. Deeply rooted in research and facts, The Genius of Play is a leading resource on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional benefits of play that serve children throughout their lives.

They released a new panel report that included child development and digital media experts convened by The Genius of Play during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January of this year.

“Kids learn and develop crucial skills through all types of play – structured and unstructured, as well as traditional and digital play,” said Ken Seiter, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of marketing communications and the panel’s moderator. “It’s important that parents understand that screen-based or online playdoes not have to be an all or nothing experience. Our panel of experts was extremely knowledgeable and shared best practices for appropriately fostering kids’ development through digital play.”

The panel, which included Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS Kids Digital, Dr. Jodi Sherman LeVos, director of child development & learning at Mattel, and emotional dynamics expert Dr. Erik Fisher, explored the evolving nature of play in today’s world and sought to provide parents with guidance on how to incorporate all types ofplay into a child’s daily routine. The experts’ consensus: when it comes to digital play, experiences that have a clear learning intent combined with parental engagement are paramount.

INSIGHTS FROM THE PANEL:

Play exists in a variety of arenas and forms. Opportunities for play are everywhere: at home, in school, in stores, at amusement parks, etc. Kids get the most benefit when traditional and digital play exist simultaneously, in a balanced environment.

The best kind of digital play is high-quality content that’s designed with clear learning objectives. These objectives should include: improving cognitive thinking; building language skills; encouraging social skills; and/or promoting creativity.

Technology gives kids a variety of perspectives on the world. Technology supports traditional play by reinforcing key values and adding another dimension to the play experience. For instance, apps and game play can bring unique worlds to life and allow children to explore these worlds in a new way.

Technology can also help drive the benefits of play by emphasizing personalized and adaptive learning. The best kind of high-tech play involves quality engagement in short bursts that engages kids while extending their knowledge in other areas. For instance, if a system can detect a child struggling with a particular concept, offering tutorials or prompts is an area where technology can really help kids learn.

Parents are highly encouraged to participate in their child’s digital play and ask questions. Implementing this type of interaction at an early age builds on communication skills between parent and child, develops trust, and prepares children for more serious talks about internet safety as they grow.

“Why Play is the Secret Sauce for Raising the Next Generation of Digital Innovators, A Special Report by The Genius of Play”​ can be downloaded at TheGeniusOfPlay.org.

To all graduates

I love to go to graduation ceremonies

For it is one of the few events where you observe unrequited joy

And happiness

You can see it on everyone’s face

They walk taller

They step more lively

And this is all seasoned with a little tension as if to say

“Am I really going to get this?  “Am I really finished?”

Supporters reveal a vision of pride and accomplishment

And a sense of joy that only camaraderie can produce in helping others

It is one of those very few extraordinary events

Regardless of whether graduation is from pre-school, grade school, junior high, high school, college or advanced degrees

For most that receive that simple moment of congratulations

The little flame of academic confidence begins

We are so proud of you from family and friends

That beautiful bouquet of flowers is a surprise confirmation of our love

Pictures,tributes and videos on Facebook shared

Always to be a cherished memory

No matter the detours or the road blocks, you made it

And you can do it again

For that moment, hour or day you truly believe in yourself and your purpose

So do those that surround you

Some may choose to forget in time

But if we take a few minutes to remember

As the days pass

That you must hold on to your talents

And abilities in the highest regard

Without a doubt in your heart

The next mountain will beckon you

And as you move on to the next challenge

Unexpected success will be at your side

Whether it be graduating with a degree or just moving on to the next academic level,

Happy graduation to all those experiencing this wonderful day

She still smiles

Even in the end, she would smile as I played Clair de Lune though she could not dance in the arms of my Dad now. Everyone at the nursing home was quiet; contemplating their own personal memories of  love in the moonlight that Claude Debussy’s classic piece offered.

In return, it was Moms high compliments to me and my talent. Perfecting this song over the years for her in every avenue; piano contests, recitals, recordings, restaurants and finally her final home before the everlasting journey. I am sure she would take the classical rendition with her as a  reminder. A reminder that I loved her. If there was ever a compliment from a somewhat subdued mother, it was for my piano mastery of Clair De Lune.

My father had passed away when I was twelve, Mom sold the company business that was almost bankrupt, and went to work as a secretary for 35 years; a single mother with a substantial savings and healthy 401 K.

Mom passed away before the last recession fall-out and she would never understand that today, the average number of years in one position was four years. 4.5 to be exact. During my first layoff, she was still alive and felt that it was my fault. I just didn’t produce and pursue enough. If one job didn’t pay the bills, why not three? She did not understand the world of corporate layoffs. Not her generation. I think about that far too often when I think of Mom.

As I slowly poured my coffee, it was the first Sunday I wanted to stay in bed rather than go to church. It was a the beginning of fall, still warm as the trees began their dramatic demonstration of magnificent color. My favorite time of year. I had volunteered to help record the broadcast service today and really couldn’t call in sick. It was church.

As I watched  from First Congregational United Church of Christ  classroom 504 where I could view the service in full regalia and play with the audio, the pastors message caught me off guard. Since my first visit  to this church two years ago, divine guidance was displayed through his messages. That’s how God works in all of us. But this was too good to be true

Bombarded by his divine Guidance….

His words made me sit up and take notice. And, of course,he talked about what I needed to hear; breaking the dreaded cycle of the treadmill; needing more in money, goods and not trusting that we have all that we need. The old tapes of Mom…clashing for a  moment…but quickly subsiding with a sigh of relief.  The pastors closing comment Let the Jones Win ended for me with tears beginning to surface. He did it again! Exactly what I needed.

But then something else happened.  Following the message was the offertory and music  by a guest pianist who played a beautiful arrangement. Almost in a state of physical shutdown as I recognized the song….Clair De Lune.

And now the tears tumbled into sobs as I immediately recognized that this was not a message from the pastor but my Mom who confirmed his message of hope. Mom knowing that I was living the life that God wanted for me; clearly sharing her enthusiasm.

It is not about an entire career at one company. Sometimes we develop right along with the company; forming a special bond though rare today.  How many workplaces we have visited to put food on the table is not really important.  But that we have done it!

Most, important, regardless of THE PLACE, we have the opportunity to share our faith with others; how we affect their lives is our greatest accomplishment and our reward.

I know I have done my best. Now, I just have to remember.