Teachers make the first day a success


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

 

For the new kindergartner, going to school for the first time was very scary. He didn’t know a single child, and he only met his teachers for the first time that first day of class. There were so many new things to learn. He had to remember the location and number of his big new locker, which was down a long hallway, and far from his homeroom.

To say it was frightening is an understatement. The idea of navigating a new school (and potentially getting lost) was so overwhelming to this 5 year-old child that there were tears and a brief tearing away from mom. She had tears too. Her child was growing up and it was the first time they had been separated for an entire morning.

If you are like most school age parents, you are ready for the children to go back to the classroom. The bickering and fighting around the house reaches full throttle by this point in the summer. On the other hand, It might be a little scary for the parents sending a child off to school for the first time.  Not knowing what to expect can certainly be a little intimidating.

If you are a seasoned veteran, you have come to understand what goes into the preparation of getting them back to school. Shopping for new clothes and a new backpack come easy for you. Getting the extra shoes for gym – no problem. It’s the extra admission fee that heats you up. Does anyone (besides me) wonder why our taxes are not enough to cover it all?

From the teacher’s perspective, they’ve been anticipating and preparing for this day for quite some time now. They’ve been busy meeting with administrators, new families and have been getting their classrooms ready for the pupils. They are working on seat assignments and practicing pronouncing the names of their students. They are cleaning, filling up supplies, organizing bulletin boards, prepping lesson plans, and getting new first-aid kits (hopefully not used on the first day). There are calendars to be filled, and PowerPoint presentations to be made. Many might be rehearsing their first day speeches so an excellent first impression can be made.

Our experience with the beginning of the school year has been flawless – well, except for last year, when my youngest (with a few other children) were stung by bees while walking to close to a buzzing hive nestled in a tree along the path to school!

Our children have always felt welcome and known by their teachers at Walker and Clarendon Hills Middle School. There appears to be something magical to little ears when they hear their names called out by the teacher as they enter the classroom.

The CHMS principal, Griffin Sonntag recently told me that the teachers were going through a four-day professional development series prior to school starting, including a half-day dedicated to learning about the children attending this year.

We recently had our orientation at CHMS and we could tell that the staff had prepared for us. The school looked great, there were some new lockers and the floor shined like it was brand new.

As for that frightened kindergartner, the first day turned out well after all. The teacher asked one of the more confident boys to let me play with a wooden dumpster-truck at recess. The truck became a cherished toy by the boys in my class, and by the middle of the year, the teachers found a way to turn it into a reward for good behavior.
Carousing through a yard sale several years ago, I found a wooden truck just like it on sale for just a few dollars. I would have paid a fortune for it.

After all, it meant so much to me and helped make my first day of school a success.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; 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

 

Teachers make first day a success

Different Autos for Different Seasons


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, July 21, 2016

The car salesman in his effort to show off the fancy new parking sensors instructed me to back up towards the car behind us, just to see what happens.  Being new to the car market (and not having ever experienced the beeping parking sensor), I thought he meant that the truck would stop itself.

So I put it in reverse and hit the gas!

The salesman soon realized that if he didn’t stop me, we were going to crash into the side of a new Cadillac.  Luckily for my cat-like reaction-time, at the last second I hit the brake, nearly ruining my shopping experience, and most likely causing my passenger to get fired.

I read recently on Bloomberg News that new car buyers hang onto their vehicles for an average of almost six years, or 71.4 months.

With all of the shiny new vehicles we see around town, that average seems a bit high. There are many reasons we buy big new vehicles.

For one reason around here, you can’t get into a carpool if you own a four passenger car! Many people purchase minivans or SUV’s even when they have only one or two children for this reason. You simply need a bigger vehicle when you’re carting around 5-6 children to a ballgame!

I was thinking lately about the evolution of my car ownership and what affected my buying decisions over the years.

I purchased my first car for college.

I paid $2000 for that yellow 1979 Mazda GLC (“Great Little Car”). It lasted all through my college experience and for a few years afterwards. It was It was a sad day when that Mazda finally died. It truly was a great little car.

The second car was my bachelor car – a tricked-out black Riviera.

It was a coupe with only two doors, and had a sound system that would pump out the beats.  When I sold the Riviera, it brought in more than I paid for it because there were plenty of guys like me who wanted who appreciated a sweet ride.

As I got into business, I needed to “look the part,” so I had a series of fat Caddys, my favorite of which was the Cadillac Concours DeVille. It was the higher-performance car in the Cadillac line, and had more of a road feel than a traditional cushy ride.

After getting married and we began to have children, we graduated into the minivan. Yes, it happens folks. We needed a vehicle that is made for transferring car seats seamlessly. The first thing we did was go see our buddy Mark Rediehs at the firehouse to help install them.

We haven’t graduated from that minivan yet but Amy would like to.

My last vehicle that I purchased is a permanent fixture around town. Some people might think that I’ll even be buried in it. Yes, the Cadillac Escalade truck is older than my first child (thirteen years) and has beat the average age of ownership for sure.
I’m sure the dealership caries new vehicles that have many more fancy gadgets today than when I last purchased.  I wouldn’t mind having a back up camera to take the place of my parking sensors. I heard cars might even park themselves one day and save you from accidents. As for our minivan and the truck, maybe I’ll wait to buy a new one when they do.

 

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

 

1979 Mazda GLC

1979 Mazda GLC

The Man Cave – Yes, I tell the story about ManLand!


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, June 23, 2016

The Man Cave

Chicago Bears receiver, Zach Miller made a brilliant one-handed catch thrown from Jay Cutler with just over 3 minutes to go in the game. The touchdown sent a frenzy of cheers that could be heard all along Walker Ave. This late fall game turned out to a real nail-biter, and drew over 100 men in the backyard of our former home.

The men certainly enjoyed the victory but most came to say goodbye to the Man Cave.

HGTV actually filmed it for the show called ManLand. The show was designed to find a friction point between the men and ladies and why the men desire to have a place of their own.

They filmed Amy and me in the beginning of the show, standing with our backs together, with armed crossed and with no smiles. They dug around until they exposed all the things inside of our house that Amy loves, like flowers, pictures of flowers, floral bedspreads and ballet shoes hanging from our bedroom wall.

The end result was that a case was made that I need a place to get away from all of that is girly.

I built my man cave because I had a lot of music (mostly vinyl and compact discs), sport memorabilia and odds and ins that didn’t really fit the decor inside of our home. My old football helmet just did not look good with Pottery Barn.

The stuff men put into these man caves would otherwise be shoved to the crawl space, garage or basement. It houses the belongings that are not allowed inside the home anymore now that we’re all grown up.

As an example, my father in law brought his old reel-to-reel player along with all of his tapes he recorded while being an Army officer stationed in Vietnam. These relics were stranded in his crawl space for years. Once set up, he would stop by the man cave, listen to some tapes and leave 20 years younger, and with a fresh new step.

These spaces are made for us to relax and be youthful.

We had a lot of big events in my man cave, like the Bears games – but mostly it was mainly used for small intimate gatherings.

What the HGTV host, George Grey realized after interviewing some of my friends was that the man cave actually helped men get closer to their wives. I know it sounds crazy, but besides a place to blow off steam, we hosted a lot of men’s Christian small groups where guys could talk about real issues.

George kept saying “how do you get closer to your wives being 70 feet away from your house?” I think he finally got it.

It’s interesting to me how many men around the area have a getaway spot built in or outside of their homes. Guys really do need to burn off steam.

One of my neighbors to our new home has a place in his backyard where he can watch a multitude of NFL games – all at once.

Another friend built his own brewery in his basement bringing a whole new understanding to tinkering and sampling!

Now that we’ve sold our old home, I’m working on my next man space.

We have a pool in the backyard, so this one will need to be subterranean – in my basement. I won’t be able to host 100 guys like I use to but hopefully we will watch a few touchdowns passes by Cutler and experience what it is like being real men.

As far as my stuff, it will be the perfect place for the trophies, helmets and even a sign that says ManLand.

 

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

 

Memorial Day – A monument in the center of town


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, May 26, 2016

 

While walking by Village Hall recently, I stopped at the corner of Prospect Avenue and Burlington Avenue to wait for the cars to go by.

I couldn’t help but to notice a stone memorial planted firmly in the north east corner of those two streets, located on the village’s property. It must have been an important structure for the townspeople some time ago to erect such a massive structure at the epicenter of town. The brass plaque in the center reads: Clarendon Hills Honor Roll World War II.

With this upcoming holiday, I looked up Memorial Day on Wikipedia. Like many people, I oftentimes confuse Memorial and Veterans Day.

Memorial Day (always on the last Monday in May) is a day of remembering the women and men who died while serving in the military and Veterans Day (November 11th) is a day we celebrate and thank our military veterans for their service.

Unlike some of the Hallmark holidays that have popped up in my lifetime like: “Sweetest Day”, “Bosses Day” and “Administrative Professionals Day”, I think we would agree that Memorial day should be distinguished as carrying greater weight.

My family will join the Memorial Day parade in Hinsdale with my wife’s parents (Her dad, David Antrim is a Vietnam veteran).

It usually begins at Bronswood Cemetery in Oak Brook around 7 a.m. and includes the playing of “Taps” and a rifle salute.

We enjoy sitting afterwards on the lawn of the Hinsdale memorial building listening to a program during which the names of Hinsdale residents who died in service are read along with the poem, “In Flanders Fields”.

Our 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison, said the following about Memorial Day (which was then styled Decoration Day): “I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.”

There are 184 names inscribed on that memorial on the corner of Prospect and Burlington. That number seemed high, given that in 1940, there were just under 1300 people living in Clarendon Hills. This is a town, however, where people have always sacrificed a lot for others.

Six of the names on the plague are highlighted with a star: Paul Ederle, Frank Nobal, Danny J. Frydle, William F Washburn, William J. Kipp and Robert Young. After researching these men, I found that they died in service to our country.

Like the well placed memorial at Village Hall, we should put front and center this day of remembering. After all, the people we are remembering died for you and for me.

 

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

 

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

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

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