Kids in Strong Families Thrive, Families Well-Connected to their Communities Stay Strong

Jordan Friedman knows about strong families and good communities. He is the Executive Director of the Family Network of Highland Park, which is part of the Family Focus network. Learn more in the video above.

Back in the day – soon after we moved to the North Shore – I took our two young sons to Family Focus on Green Bay Road in Evanston. We met Sheila Nielsen and her two daughters, who were exactly the same age as my sons. That connection was like a giant hug! And their friendship continues to strengthen us to this day.

Thank you Family Focus.

One Fun Step For League Members = One Giant Leap For Needy New Mothers

The largest new member class in the history of the Junior League of North Shore Evanston (JLNSE) is about to provide a giant leap forward in life for 15 needy new mothers struggling with difficult issues like domestic abuse or depression.

This JLNSE group worked, played and fund-raised for the last six months to create the “Baby Steps” Luncheon being held for the 4th consecutive year at North Shore University Health System’s Evanston Hospital.

The new mothers will receive new nursery and layette items, including the paintings made at one of the fundraisers, and advice from North Shore University Health System’s experts at the Luncheon.

Learn more here.

The diverse and fun-loving JLNSE new member group, holding murals that will hang in the “Baby Steps” nurseries. They group painted them as one of their fundraising events.

Love This Zen This Season (and next)

the zen of slow cooking

mindful. nourishing. relevant. simple. delicious

North Shore native Meg Barnhart and Chicago transplant Jane McKay publish The Zen of Slow Cooking: to “help you create success in the kitchen by simple, straightforward, whole food recipes prepared in 20 minutes or less” but also to encourage you to take time to enjoy – yourself, your family, creation and your family dinner table.

I particularly like their post on setting a nice table for family dinners. Anything to get my family to settle in and enjoy each other’s company works for me – but something beautiful is better!

The Best Gifts For Your Preschooler

Some truths are eternal.

Unstructured time to just play, family dinner, and plenty of your loving attention (including you reading to them) are still the best gifts that you can give your child, according to the leading experts listed below, who offered sage advice at the Make It Better Preschool Advisory Council:

Nan Barrett Bright Beginnings Preschool
Susie Blau Extraordinary Kids
Sally Bullard Lake Forest Country Day
Blakely Bundy The Alliance for Early Childhood
Joan Duffy Rose Hall Montessori School
Erika Gray Kohl Children’s Museum
Lisa Kampwirth Baker Demonstration School
Leanne Nathan Jewish Community Center
Kerry Russell Wilmette Community Nursery School
Kathy Smart Advocate Children’s Hospital

Issues of concern include:

How best to develop executive functions through play? Those skills are predictors of later success.

How much is too much academics in preschool?

How are younger siblings affected if they constantly are schlepped along to the extracurricular activities of highly scheduled older siblings? And really, is it good for those older siblings to be so highly scheduled?

How to destress parents? Relax and enjoy your child!!

What are the best resources for early detection and intervention of developmental delays?

Twins & Multiples – a growing issue in the northern suburbs because of our demographics – when to separate?

Tammy McCann – Wow! Welcome to the North Shore

Tammy McCann – a phenomenal talent – is the new Music Institute of Chicago Jazz Vocalist in Resident. We heard her sing and watched her light up the room with her personality tonight. Win for MIC. Win for the the North Shore. Win for us.

How Much Is Too Much?

The North Shore is blessed with resources to help with every problem a family can face – and maybe some that are a wee bit over the top. Might consulting on how to navigate sorority rush or charging $100/hour to help a family deal with lice be a tad excessive?

Inquiring minds want to know – How Much Is Too Much?

Breakthrough Urban Ministries

Volunteers and guests receiving services at Breakthrough with Arloa Sutter and Kimi Ottaviano (in the green patterned shirts) in the recently renovated Women’s Lounge.

Many thanks to Kimi Ottaviano for taking me to learn about Breakthrough and spend time with Breakthrough’s inspiring Founder, Arloa Sutter, whose big heart and determination to help as much as possible has grown programs with measurable success for youth within a 64 block radius of their buildings.

Thanks also to the North Shore groups which helped renovate the Lounge and Library in the Women’s and Youth Shelter Buildings and to Toms Price for donating furniture. Thanks also to the Chicago Bulls for the exercise room!