Music Around Town

Right now in my head is a little jingle.  If I share a few words with you, it may get stuck in your head too.  “Wayfair, just what . . . .”    I bet you can finish it.  And if you ever lived in Chicagoland, as I did for most of my life, you know the phone number for Empire Carpeting, too..  It starts 5-8-8. . . . .

Everyday music is all around us. It may be in the background of a movie, a video game, or a commercial.  It serves a purpose there.  It may include vocals or just be instrumental. 

Music is an emotional language and as we connect with it, it can help us therapeutically identify and manage our own emotions.   It can soothe a troubled heart.  It can remind us of times past.  It can summon memories and feelings.

There are many places around town where we can interact with music for free, or at a minimal or reasonable cost.  I wish to point out a few, all of which can be appropriate for children. 

  1. Electronically at home.  Radios, CD’s, iPods, Alexa and Google provide easy access to any style of music or artist.  In December I asked Alexa to play various genres of Christmas music such as country, Christian and oldies.
  2. The local library. Many genres of music CD’s can be borrowed.
  3. At church.  Worship services usually involve music to be listened to and with which to engage vocally.
  4. Park concerts.   Often bands, various style groups, and even local orchestras will perform in parks.
  5. Community Festivals.  These may have a specific theme or ethnic flavor.
  6. Colleges and universities.  Most schools have an online schedule of students and professional artists offering a wide variety of performances from which to choose.
  7. Civic Center or library.  Again look online for a schedule or ask at the front desk.
  8. Your own television.  All movies, not just musicals, have music.  Practice listening to the emotion of the music and how it enhances the movie experience.  Learn to identify the climax or scary scene by the music.   The music often prepares the watcher for the scene.
  9. In Educational settings.   We learn more easily when information is set to music.  How did you learn the alphabet?   I have also heard jingles for multiplication facts and U.S. presidents. 
  10.  Own or borrow small musical instrument to experiment with at home.

Help your children embrace music.  This could lead them to desire learning to play an instrument or study voice.  Maybe they will develop a strong appreciation for musicians and performers.  Perhaps it will just enhance their own conversational skills as people do enjoy talking about their favorite music, style, and performers.  Possibly you and your child will learn to love a music style or venue that you have never before considered.   New worlds can be explored together.

There are many creative artists in every genre.  Some artists fill their songs with lyrics which do not benefit our children or us.  Pay attention to the words and teach your children to be discerning.  The words we listen to do impact us. 

Music Around Town is my fifth blog in my Around Town series. If you missed the others, you may find them in the Around Town category. Thanks for reading and sharing.



No one has ever labeled me an artist.  I do possess some creativity and love crafts.  I recall only one art project in school of which I was really proud.  It was a modeling clay crocodile made while studying Egypt. I was very sad when it lost a leg.

2018 July - Sept 036Despite my lack of artistic ability or skill I really enjoyed having the Picture Lady visit our classroom. The Picture Lady was probably the mom of a student in our elementary school.  She would bring a piece of framed art to our classroom and talk about it.  Then the piece was hung on the wall and left there until her next visit.

Years later when I was homeschooling our children, I tried to replicate what the Picture Lady did.  I borrowed framed art from our local library.  Often I did not know the artist, the name of the style, or even the title of the piece, but my children and I would discuss what we liked or disliked about the picture.  We would discuss what we thought about the colors the artist chose or perhaps how the picture made us feel. 2018 July - Sept 052

Like music, art is something to which we respond with thoughts and feelings.   Our responses are very personal and subjective.   Appreciation of art can be nurtured in almost every city and town.   Help your child explore and discover art where you live.   Art can be found in many forms and many places.  Here are a few places you may find art:

  1. On the corner of any street. I have seen electrical boxes and fire hydrants artistically and whimsically painted.
  2. In the downtown district. In some towns painted murals can be found on the sides of buildings and other locations.  Towns sometimes have competitions to promote community spirit with all the businesses painting the same figurine to creatively match their business.  I have seen statues of cows and dogs used in this way.   Window fronts of businesses often have seasonal decorations. I have seen these done by high school students during homecoming week.
  3. In parks and cemeteries. Monuments, memorials and sculptures are forms of art.
  4. In older, established neighborhoods. Some architectural styles of homes, such as Victoria, Queen Anne, Italianate, or Painted Ladies have artistic details.
  5. At colleges or universities. These often have art galleries with changing exhibits.
  6. At museums. Even small local historical societies may have art depicting an earlier era.
  7. In and on historic buildings. United States postal offices built in the 1930s and 1940s were elegant buildings and often contained impressive murals and paintings.   State capitols and other older government buildings also contain impressive art inside and outside.
  8. In libraries. Some libraries will exhibit local students’ art work.
  9. On water towers. Every town has at least one of these and it usually has the city logo on it.  Where else can you find the city logo?
  10. In hospitals, nursing homes, or rehab facilities. Art is used as therapy.  It may or may not be displayed.    It is therapeutic because it taps into our creativity and allows us to express emotions.

Have fun with your child exploring and discovering art.  Help them learn to appreciate the beauty of art as well as artistic skills. The mediums of art are nearly limitless and how and where they can be used is up to one’s imagination.  I hope you find the art form that resonates with your heart.   Who knows where this early exposure to art may lead your child someday.  Helping your child discover personal preferences and allowing them to be different from yours encourages their independence and personal development.

One caution:  Of course, anyone can explore art forms on the internet, but this is not a safe format for children alone.  Parents should prescreen and find acceptable websites to view with their children.   I really like the amazing street art by Tom Bob, NYC.

To the park, to the park

Perhaps you have a favorite park.   Think of all the reasons why it is your favorite.  For various reasons your child may choose a different park.   I am guessing there is at least one that you both love.   A park is more than a designated “green” space.   Every community needs and benefits from them.   Some towns may have only one small park and larger towns and cities may have a plethora of them.I and S at playground

In two previous posts I encouraged you to explore the library and the resale stores in your community. These posts can be seen at    and

In this third installment in my “Around Town” category, I want to encourage you to take advantage of your parks.  Many towns also have a park district, a governing board that manages and develops the physical parks and programs.   It’s time to explore the parks in your community for your sake and your child’s. The following are my best 10 discoveries regarding parks:

  1. Playgrounds of all kinds. Kids will have fun.  Two summers ago my daughter-in-law set a summer goal of visiting every playground in her community.   That was a summer goal her 5 kids loved.
  2. Rose gardens, herb gardens, Oriental gardens, botanical gardens, butterfly gardens, Conservatories. . . .    While your children are young teach them to identify flowers and plants.   Learn to appreciate nature and its beauty. Much later these sites can be awesome locations for free dates, and boys with plant knowledge will impress their dates.
  3. Pools/waterparks/splash pads.  Everyone can cool off and have fun.  Children can take swimming lessons. Swimming is a valuable life skill.
  4. Walking/Bike paths. Many communities have safe, off-road paths for walking and biking.  Just like driving an automobile, remember to stay to the right side and pass on the left side of the path.   (A great opportunity to practice left and ride).
  5. Dog Park. This is a great bonus for pet owners with a small yard or who live in an apartment.
  6. Frisbee Golf. A growing trend and usually free to play.
  7. Park District classes and lessons. Besides swimming many districts offer other sports such as tumbling, soccer, and little league baseball.   My children also enjoyed the following  district classes: Safety Town, Super Tots, Cooking and Me, and Fort Building.   There are also summer camps.
  8. Fitness Courses. We all need more movement.  Some parks have a fitness course.  It is a track with exercise stations and equipment to do the exercises.   Exercise is a de-stresser.
  9. Outdoor Locations. I have heard that almost everyone in North America is low on Vitamin D.   So go outside and get some in the purest and most natural form from the sun along with some fresh air.
  10. Also Park District Employment. With a work permit districts will hire even 14 and 15 year olds for part time seasonal work.   Our eldest son worked as a soccer referee.


Lilicia Park deer

Lilacia Park, Lombard, IL 1986.

Parks and playgrounds can be enjoyed in all but the most extreme weather.  Each season has a different view to offer.    If your town doesn’t have many parks, then head to the next town, and maybe even the one after that.   This is a great way to spend time with your children.

P.S. Pack a picnic lunch or snack and leave your cell phone in the car.

Upcoming: “Around Town” #4 – Art in your community



10 Things to Know About Resale Stores

I live in a city with a population of approximately 76,000. We have seven resale stores where I shop plus at least five more resale stores where I refuse to shop. Creepy, overcrowded, disorganized or unclean stores get moved to my refusal list. Furthermore, I do not know why most of the resales shops here close at 3 p.m., but it annoys me. Only 2 of the 7 where I shop are open until 4 p.m., which seems a more reasonable hour to close, but it is still an hour earlier than most businesses.


containers from a resale store, which I use for plants

I have bought a diversity of items from resale stores.  The dress I wore to my third son’s wedding came from a Good Will store.  Two weeks ago I paid .50 for an excellent John Grisham book to take on a vacation and then throw away rather than bring it back home.  Last Christmas I bought 80 individual Christmas cards at a penny a piece.  Other purchases have included planting pots, dishes, linens, fabric, wrapping paper, greeting cards, craft supplies, books, costumes, playtime dress-up clothes, adult and children’s clothing, coats, boots, candles, seasonal decorations, sports equipment, furniture, puzzles and toys, jewelry and even gifts for others.  Furniture is great to get second hand especially if you have children, are a young couple just starting out, move a lot, or just like unique pieces.  Refurbishing furniture is also very trendy right now.

tjwed 3

mother of the groom, standing next to the bride, wearing  full length, $10 formal dress from Good Will

I asked my smart and savvy #3 daughter-in-law, Jackie, (mother of 5) to share some of her thoughts on resale shopping.  The following are her 10 ideas:

  1. No one will ever know where you purchased your clothing from or how much you spent for it unless you are walking around with the tag on it. 🙂
  2. Thrift stores use to have more of a negative connotation years ago than they do today. Today it’s trendy to shop at one!
  3. Kids grow so fast that resale shopping can save a lot of money. If you are saving money on clothing, you could be spending it on other things; vacation, sports, groceries.
  4. Babies don’t care if they are wearing Baby Gap, Gymboree or Children’s Place clothing. A lot of older kids don’t care what brands they wear either.
  5. Here’s a fun experiment for your teen who only wants to shop at the mall. Give them $25 and tell them to go buy clothing at the mall. Give them another $25 and take them to a thrift store (even better go on a sale day) and let them see how much more they can buy!
  6. One of the best things to buy at thrift stores is books!! A board book for a child runs about $10 new. At a thrift store most books are under a dollar.
  7. Special occasion clothing and shoes are often worn once or twice by a child (or an adult). Buying these things second hand is often an excellent money saver.
  8. Check to see if your thrift store offers coupons or discount days for even more savings.
  9. Some thrift stores are better than others. If you go to one and are unimpressed, try another. Ask around for recommendations.
  10. Some people shop at thrift stores to make money. You can often find new, like new, antique or one of a kind items at a very high discount. These items can then be sold for two or three times what you paid on E-bay or a Facebook selling site. Before you head this route though, do your research to find out what will sell. If you purchase things and are not able to use or sell them, you are wasting money.


    Can you guess how many of these pieces were purchased at resale stores?

I like that many resale stores are fund raisers for charities in my community. Some of my favorite stores are supports for the local hospital, a Lutheran school, Catholic Charities and the crisis pregnancy center.   Shopping at these stores definitely benefits my community. All of them accept donations, which is a great place to donate your stuff if you are purging or decluttering and do not want to have your own garage sale.

I prefer resale stores over garage sales for the following reasons: 1. Weather is not a factor. 2. The season is not a factor. 3. Bigger selection of merchandise and better variety all in one location.

Resale stores help stretch a budget.  Buying slightly used at a deep discount off new items helps us be content with not having the latest and greatest.  Contentment is hard to find and keep in our culture.

Disclaimer #1.  Just because an item is offered at a low, low price does not mean we actually need it. This situation does provide an excellent teaching moment for your child to learn the difference between wants and needs.

Disclaimer #2.  If you purchase too many items, your home will soon look like one of those messy and creepy stores I mentioned in the first paragraph.  Shop wisely.

What’s the best thrift store deal you have found?

9 Things You Should Borrow

When did you last go to the library?  Why did you go there?  There are at least nine reasons to visit your library.

I have loved the library since at least first grade.  I was an early reader and borrowed books from our little classroom library.  One day our entire class walked to the city public library to explore it and receive our first library cards.  Over the years I discovered the library had much, much more to offer than just books.  Even though, books alone are a motivating attraction for me.  Every genre of magazine can also be found and borrowed from the library.

Yes, I love books. They can be found in every room of my house.  In the living room the end tables are usually covered in stacks of books. I also have a small table, which I call the library table.  Presently, it is where I store all my durable cardboard books for the youngest grandchildren.   In the past it is where I stored all the books we brought home from the public library.  Keeping them in one place prevented losing them in random places.

library tableMost libraries are part of a network allowing them to borrow for you from other libraries.  Even if your town has a small library, it may have access to larger libraries.  The majority of libraries are also online making searches and reservations very easy.

My second favorite thing to borrow from the library is audio books.  These are especially wonderful for car trips. We recently took a long trip with my parents.  We all thoroughly enjoyed listening to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark.   A favorite audio book that was listened to at least a dozen times by our youngest son was Who Was That Masked Man Anyway Audio books help even a reluctant reader to love books.

Some libraries have electronic books.  Games and learning manipulatives for young children are often available.  Computers, computer games and the internet are accessible which is very helpful when your home computer or internet is not functioning properly.  I have used library internet in other towns while traveling.

One year my daughter participated in a library program called Battle of the Books where she was on a school team that read and studied a huge list of books.  They competed against other teams with questions about details and comprehension of the books. 12509089_1210792845603492_6949928042686141160_n

My youngest son was not a strong reader but loved graphic novels (comics).  Even he learned to love the library.

There was a program in the grade school I attended called picture lady.  A mom brought into the class a large piece of framed art and led the class in a discussion of the piece.  Our library in Wheaton, IL had a large collection of framed art.  I was able to recreate that program with my children in our home.   My children enjoyed taking turns selecting the pieces which we hung over the fireplace mantle in the living room for four to eight weeks at a time.  We discussed the colors and mood of the piece even when we did not have knowledge of the artist or the style.

We have borrowed hundreds, maybe thousands, of movies from the library. We continue to do this.  These varied from Magic School Bus and other educational programs to black and white classics such as Fred MacMurray’s, Follow Me Boys, to current films.

Well, have I convinced you to go to your local library yet?

Cuddle time reading to your own babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and even independent readers is precious time.  It is a time for instilling security and love for stories.  It teaches pre-reading skills such as handling a book properly and progressing from left to right.  Reading expands the imagination, enlarges the vocabulary, develops the mind, and takes you to places all over the globe and beyond.  Read to your children.

One more thought: If you have a bookworm, encourage them to bicycle to the library for fresh air and exercise. My second son, a voracious reader, enjoyed doing both.