T-Rex Comes Alive in the Park!


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, May 12, 2016

 

When the water in the glass rippled, it sent a frightening message that something big was coming. Then, a thundering bass echoed and confirmed the approaching footsteps. Knowing that nothing small could possibly make such an impact on the earth’s surface, the frightened people realized it must be the footsteps of something huge … and terrifying. And if you listen closely, you can hear it approaching Prospect Park!

 

No, they didn’t harvest a dinosaur egg. And Steven Spielberg isn’t filming Jurassic Park 5 in Clarendon Hills. This is even better! The Park Foundation and Park District are bringing a Tyrannosaurus rex to the park (in the form of a three-dimensional art sculpture being made by Evens Metal Products, Elkhart, IN and painted by Fritz Brown of Downers) to live and make its home. What a creative idea!

 

A couple of years ago, I had a client who was looking to unload a lot of art that he had collected over the years. It wasn’t the regular, run-of-the-mill yard art that you see in some rural areas. You know what I’m talking about: the kind of art where the HGTV show American Pickers stops in to see what they can unclench from the hoarding owner’s fist. This was really big, great stuff — and whimsical too. There was a bridge that had been brought in from Nebraska; there was some “beef” around the property from the famed Chicago Cows on Parade; even a herd of elephants graced the property. (The property was over 10 acres, so the herd almost looked as if they belonged.) There was also a lot of commissioned work, much of it big, rusty, steel pieces that could be showcased and displayed in large areas. Sadly, these pieces got away from us and Clarendon Hills didn’t inherit any of it.

 

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the LOVE sculpture created by Robert Indiana at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I was just a kid, and seeing this wonderful piece made art approachable to me. I could touch it and climb it, and I’m sure my siblings and I played tag around it! Years later at Indiana University, I was excited to be the creator of a three-dimensional piece that actually ended up being on display outside our art buildings for about a year. Art gives children the confidence that they can create, too; I’m living proof!

 

With the the mission of Clarendon Hills Park Foundation — “to enhance the quality of life by seeking contributions of all types, including grants and donations, to be used by the park district” — this is a big statement to bring art to our parks (and our big spaces). We have such awesome parks and plenty of large spaces where we can showcase art. We as a community should be encouraged to partner to find more and more big, interesting, whimsical pieces that can be put on display. This is a call out to those of you who have connections in the art world. Bring it on!

 

On Friday, May 27 at 12:30 p.m., the T. rex will be officially dedicated and will stand next to the Prospect Park pond. It will be christened with a name, too; the children of Prospect School were challenged to come up with a name for our new resident. I can’t imagine a more appropriate way to name him (or her) than that. After all, art unleashes the creative side of us all.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

T-Rex Alive in the Park

What Needs to be Done – by Amy McCurry


 

From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 28, 2016

Upon entering the season of retirement, her life and time naturally aimed their focus on new projects such as volunteering at “The Triangle” in Riverside or caring for small children at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Painting old walls, staining a deck and hauling loads of her own dug-up flowers to help plant a fresh garden in a couple’s new home became part of her new rhythm — all the while, maintaining her own home projects. World travel lead to collecting discarded books from local libraries so that on her next trip to Africa, children would benefit. Why? Cindy’s eyes see a world through a lens that constantly asks, “What needs to be done?”

 

I was recently enlightened by a book titled “Spiritual Parenting,” written by Michelle Anthony. Among the 12 applicable and life-shaping principals, I took pause after reading one particular response to life’s situations. As a parent, I realized that topping the list of the most important concepts I could impart upon my children was this question: “What needs to be done?” As Anthony states, “To have them walk into any room, situation or relationship and ask this will change the way they see their world.”

 

I think we all want to teach our children to help out in the home and community while demonstrating polite manners. I personally struggle daily with cultivating this posture of automatically recognizing what needs to be done, but I am determined to set our children onto an intentional path that might guide their lives. Although difficult, once adopted, it’s hard to ignore.

 

I desire my children who live in our blessed community full of opportunity to enter their future experiences — whether they be a Village Hall meeting, a classroom, the local park, or a home — and see immediately what needs to be done. To look at a problem or situation and set the chairs out, refill the coffee, take on that project, make a certain family a meal, donate what is not needed. I so desire for them to take a part in the solution by simply asking this presented question.

 

As with any habit, exercising this concept has the power to transform the attitude of the heart. The benefits of a serving experience lead to an inner peace and a desire to do it again. When taught early, this principle can play out in circumstances for a lifetime. However, it is never too late to see through a new perspective. So, next time you wonder how our community can become be a better place, consider how you can serve in ways you might not have thought of naturally. Try to recognize the minuscule areas of need and ask yourself, “What needs to be done?” And if you feel you are able, do it! Your simple act of service will go farther than you’ll ever know. The collective result is for the greater good.

 

Picture another woman with her children at the checkout of a grocery store. Recognizing there is nobody currently able to attend to this particular aisle, she naturally begins to bag her own groceries and further engages in a genuine discussion with the clerk about the approaching holiday. Later her children randomly ask, “Mom, do you think that lady at the store went to Florida to see her family for Easter?” Something not only got done, but an authentic interest for a stranger developed.

 

That was the gift I learned from my own mom, Laura. After a lifetime of watching her interact in situations with genuine respect and kindness, I find it natural to do the same. And ever since my mother-in-law taught me how to plant my first garden, I have tried to be an active participant in what needs to be done. My hope and prayer is that my children will grow up and integrate these concepts, whether that takes the form of painting a fence, running for a cause or letting a complete stranger know they care. I am ever so grateful to have learned from my “mothers” what it means to engage with our world through this lens.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

What Needs to be Done

The Paparazzi Grandparents


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 14, 2016.

 

The musical started 45 minutes earlier and I was going to be lucky to catch the last two songs. My last appointment ran over but I managed to slip in the side door of Walker Elementary gym, just in time to try to catch my daughters eye. I saw the big grin on her face as I stood in the back of the room. She needed to see me there and I didn’t want to let her down. With just two songs remaining, the class sang “You are my Sunshine”. They sang all the songs so well that it’s obvious that the music teacher, Mrs Sciaccotta had worked with her students for weeks. It is an catchy song and even the grandparents were lip syncing the words. And when the final song was performed, it was announced that the paparazzi could step forward and take pictures. The sea of parents and grandparents then rushed to get the best spot to capture those Kodak moments.

 

This scene had reminded me of a popular and hilarious commercial about not being afraid to fight dirty to get the best picture of the kids on stage where finally the auditorium turns into a brawl except for two parents, who with their Nokia Lumina cameraphone, “have the best seats in the house”.

 

In this story, the people with the best seats in the house and the ones fighting for the best pictures are oftentimes the grandparents. They are passionate about their grandchildren and love to be involved. Have you ever noticed how many come to the children’s events? This column is a written as a “shout out” to all the wonderful grandparents!

 

It’s a healthy community when you see young and old living and supporting each other. If you think about it, we’re truly living in great times and are lucky to be a part of a multigenerational community. I think of Mary Brown as an example of a grandparent, who can be seen on any given day pulling a waggon around town with a couple of grandkids in tow or cleaning up Sloan’s Triangle in her spare time, just because it needs to be done. And then there is Uly Backas, an older distinguished man who has been a reader in our schools for so long that he has touched a few generations of children. He’s kind of a celebrity around town too. Whenever I see him walking around, children (young and old) shout out his name, high five him and give him hugs. He is living “the dream” and so are we, and so are our children.

 

It’s not a one way street either. The choir that Mrs. Sciaccotta teaches, routinely performs to the 95 residents at The Birches Assisted Living. The students bring a lot of energy along with their youthful voices that give a breath of fresh air to our neighbors on 55th Street and South Prospect Ave.

 

The tension and pressures of rising property taxes and housing cost sadly force a lot of our older adults to move out of town. But not everyone is leaving and not everyone downsizes. That is the wonderful part about living in Clarendon Hills and that so many older adults want to stay in or close to town so they can be near to family – where they have raised their their own children. We are grateful for that.

 

At the end of a piano recital we recently attended, my mom (Ra-Ra known by the children) found her way to the front of the pack and got just the shot of all shots. All 4 children were sitting on the piano bench grinning from ear to ear and posing for a very proud grandma. And their other grandmother (Nonnie), who hardly ever misses an event, gave them all hugs of approval.

 

Looking back at the musical where I squeaked in at the last moment, that grin I saw might just have been reserved for her grandparent seated in the second row.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Elizabeth and Mrs. Sciaccotta

                                           Elizabeth and Mrs. Sciaccotta

That perfect shot by RaRa

                                        That perfect shot by Ra-Ra

Digging in the Dirt


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 31st, 2016.

It was one of those perfect late-spring days in Clarendon Hills, when the air was cool and the sun was hot. My wife and oldest son were in the backyard gardening. She laid out a colorful Mexican blanket for our baby daughter to rest under the sugar maple, creating an idyllic Norman Rockwell family picture. It was an old tree — its branches were several feet thick and many spanned across the yard, the deck and in between our house and our neighbors’ home.

 

It wasn’t unusual to hear the maple crying out, especially with the harder spring winds. Today, Amy felt a parental tug in her gut to move the children to another lounging area, safe from the 150-year-old tree. She could sense the tree was laboring as the wind blew harder. After settling into the comfortable new spot, there was a loud crack. Two of the heaviest limbs crashed to the ground — right where the children had been just moments before.

 

When I got the call, I could tell from her voice that she was scared, so I rushed home without hesitation. Surveying the tree, the yard and the damage done to our landscaping, I was hugely grateful for the safety of my family. I walked around the damage and up to the deck and into our home. It wasn’t a second later that the rest of tree split, fell and destroyed the deck I had just walked across! Talk about an intense day!

 

Just the night before all of this drama happened, on that very deck, we had popped the cork on a bottle of champagne to mark the completion of landscape plans we had started several years earlier. It was a long journey of hard work that we were thrilled to have completed. But Mother Nature has a voice at the table … and as always, she has the final word.

 

—–

 

I recently spoke with two of our neighbors who know a lot about getting their hands dirty in the yard: Lorna and Robert Galandak. Many will know Lorna as the long-term Admin for CHMS (she recently moved over to HMS). This is a couple who always look happy cutting their grass twice a week and collecting leaves as they fall from the tree. To be honest, they keep their yard so tidy that we neighbors are a little intimidated; it always looks perfect.

 

I asked Lorna and Robert for the secrets for keeping a nice-looking yard. They told me to keep it simple. Grow plants that are easy to keep and need little water. Get out early and get the yard cleaned up, take out plants that died over the winter and use safe products that keep weed seeds from taking root. Robert actually has a secret potion for keeping bugs from eating his plants: dish soap and water. I have a similar home remedy for my vegetable garden: dish soap, boiled chewing tobacco and Listerine. You can almost see the bugs running away!

 

If your family likes digging in the dirt, have you heard about the Richmond Education Gardens and Apiary project? Just West of the police station and public works facility is a space owned by the villages of Westmont and Clarendon Hills (near Richmond Avenue). The gardens are designed to eOKducate our community about our environment and natural and organic gardening. There will be rain gardens, native vegetables, wildflowers, a butterfly garden — even a collection of beehives. This is an exciting project that will benefit our schools and our community.

 

You can support this community effort by inviting friends to attend the fundraiser at Aguamiel Restaurante on Earth Day, April 22. You can buy tickets at Aguamiel (30 S. Prospect Ave.), or call 630-537-1966. The tickets are $40.00 for adults, $8.00 for children. Tickets include a four-course dinner and one beverage of your choice.

 


After that Sugar Maple fell, we fixed the wood deck and put the paver bricks back where they belonged. We planted again, and we sowed more. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. After all, we enjoy our yard mostly because of the effort that we put into it.

 

Ricmond

It’s Never Too Late to Begin Running with a Cause


 

From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 17, 2016.

 

In 2013, Joy had decided that her 25th New York City Marathon would be her last. At 86 years old, she was the oldest competitor in the race. Her body was not what it used to be, her finish times had gone up over the years and her family was urging her to slow down and hang up the shoes. Deep down inside there was a drive to push on and run until she couldn’t run any more. A passionate woman, she always ran for what she believed in and always loved to talk — to meet people. Joy would often tell them that she would run until she dropped, and that she wanted to die one day in her tennis shoes.

 

Where do runners get their motivation? Around our town, a lot of people sure are motivated to run! As soon as the warmer weather turned it seemed as though our whole town was training for something. We see them running by our homes early in the morning and I often see them running by my office in downtown Clarendon Hills in the afternoon. There must be several nearby running clubs because I’ve noticed there are many packs of people running together. Why are all of these people running, and why would you ever want to run a 26.2-mile marathon?!

 

For me, I cycle because I love the friendship of my fellow cyclist buddies … but my deep-down motivation is that I can enjoy more food! Sure, I like to be healthy, but without the exercise I would be back at my football-playing weight in no time!

 

My wife, Amy, was recently motivated to sign up for the Chicago Marathon after learning about a charity you can help by running. She’s really not a long-distance runner, but when she heard of the impact that her running (and raising support) would make on others, she decided she could do it.

 

Running alongside Amy will be over 1,500 other marathon contestants, all serving a charitable organization called World Vision. Team World Vision has the largest number of people running in the Chicago marathon for charitable purposes. They provide clean water to communities in Kenya, Africa, where children need to walk an average of six miles to get water for their families. When wells and pipes are brought in, it helps to keep these children safe and close to home — and also keeps them in school.

 

You will most likely see Amy running by your home and around town, training to raise money to bring water to a child. So cheer her on! Maybe some of those packs of runners are running for a cause, too. If you would like to support Amy, go to her website @ Teamworldvision.com

 

Joy Johnson did finish her 25th New York City Marathon. On mile 20, however, she slipped and tumbled, and the rough pavement did some damage to her face. She got up, received some treatment from the medics and continued on to finish the race. The next day, after talking to Today Show host Al Roker, she went back to her hotel and laid down and never woke again. It’s been said that she still had her running shoes on. Her story is fascinating; after all, she only picked up running after she turned 59 years old, and she ran until the day she died.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

Running with a cause

Getting Inside of the Mask


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 3, 2016.

 

A handful of young men around high-school age sat around the circle while their teacher moderated a difficult issue: being true to themselves. In this exercise, they were each given a mask and asked to write words about how the world sees them on the outside of it. Then they were asked to write on the inside some things they were hiding from the world. The teacher pointed out that many had pain and anger written inside, while on the outside, they had written positive words like “funny” and “smart.”

 

This scene was being played out in a documentary movie called “The Mask You Live In” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Its viewing at Hinsdale Central was part of the Community Speaker Series presented by District 181 Foundation, The Community House and Hinsdale Township High School District 86. Sitting in the front row (and having two boys), I found myself intrigued to hear more about this mask and why our boys learn to keep their feelings inside it.

 

The film points out that boys often hear their role models and coaches using words and phrases that are initially confusing to them but quickly seem culturally commonplace. You’ve heard these phrases before: “Stop acting like a girl,” “mama’s boy,” “man up,” “boys don’t cry,” and of course, “be a man!” They feel the pressure to mask these feelings for fear of being rejected by their peer group, by their teammates and by other students. Boys sometimes turn to violence to prove themselves and become numb to their true selves. The movie depicted this, showing how the process of socialization sometimes goes off the rails.

 

I have often said that my third-grade son’s class has a boy code similar to the movie “Fight Club.” Torturing them wouldn’t reveal any secrets. They are jousting and pounding their way, figuring out the dynamics, the hierarchy, the alpha dogs and how they fit into it all. They run around town like a band of outlaws, playing sports, going to each other’s birthday parties — they are fairly raw and honest with each other at least for now, they haven’t put on the mask.

 

The movie explains, however, that some boys within the group dynamics fall into a false self role to survive — or they can be made to feel outcast for being different. As they get older, they tend to mask, medicate, stop communicating and disconnect from their emotions … and violence becomes the method for conflict resolution.

 

This film helped me reflect on on my upbringing, my values and my role as a dad and husband. Our involvement, especially in the early developing years of our children, makes a tremendous impact on them. We need to model and help them learn a healthy view of equality and differences between men and women. Our language should reflect a culture that values feelings and respect and care for each other. And we need to get underneath the mask and allow our children to be themselves and to thrive.

 

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 25 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

The Mask You Live In

A Lenten Devotional revisited


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 18, 2016.

 

A Lenten Devotional

The Christian church’s Lenten season starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. I wanted to take the time during Lent to offer a devotional to mark the journey.

I often pray over my children at night, and one of the prayers is that they will become the boy or girl that God has intended them to be — that they live the lives he has in mind for them. This blanket prayer makes me feel safe that God is in control and that he ultimately knows their God-given potential. Whatever hopes and dreams I have for them might be limited to my own mind, but God’s mind has no limits.

God certainly has high hopes for us, right? He knows how we are made, how we are wired and what great potential we have inside of us; especially since he created us in his own image. My thoughts quickly go to the hope that I am around to see these achievements in my children. I think of the old man, Simeon, to whom the Holy Spirit revealed that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah of God. My hope is that like Simeon, I can see the potential reached in my loved ones before I’m gone.

One core principle that my wife, Amy, and I agreed about when we got married was that we would raise our children to know God. Our most cherished verse that we shared together at our wedding over 15 years ago was from Deuteronomy 18, which says:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

We’ve learned over the years that the “teaching” doesn’t necessarily mean that we make our children memorize the Old Testament. The ways of the Lord are better learned by example. Life moves very quickly, especially when you are in the thick of raising your children. It seems like yesterday when my children grew out of the diapers stage and into the “homework every night” stage of life. With four children, from first grade to sixth grade, these are the years that I would like to bottle up and store as memories for a rainy day. We try so hard to teach our children in the morning and at bedtime and in between. But sometimes life gets a little too busy, and you just need to teach by example.

Our children watch how we interact with people and if and how we love others. My hope is that the example we lead is a good one to follow and by teaching, they become who they are supposed to be. My prayer is that as they watch and grow, they write the word of God on their hearts and minds.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 25 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

A Lenten Devotional

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