Kohl Children’s Museum and My Family: Still Growing Together

My children and the Kohl Children’s Museum grew up together. The museum opened in 1985 in Wilmette on Green Bay Road, next to the Walker Bros. Pancake House, about the same time that the second of our six children was born and we moved to the North Shore.

We quickly discovered that a morning spent at the museum followed by a maple syrupy Walker Brothers lunch was the perfect family outing. I toddled my way through 4 more pregnancies and about two decades of such merriment.

Kohl Children's Museum

Image courtesy of Kohl Children’s Museum

What I didn’t appreciate then was that my family was enjoying the labors of a visionary educator who also was bringing educational best practices to under-resourced kids too: Dolores Kohl. Through her education foundation, Kohl opened teaching centers, supported arts and education programs around the world, and launched a traveling literacy program called StoryBus.

“Children are the messages we send to generations that we will never see,” Kohl declared during my 2011 interview with her as explanation for her determined efforts, her blue eyes twinkling. Kohl is pretty brilliant. She’s brilliantly pretty, too.

The museum grew from one of the original teaching centers. The messages my kids absorbed there through interactive exhibits helped them learn to think critically, develop confidence, and become life-long readers and learners. The message that the world absorbed was that the museum was such a valuable resource it needed to grow. So Kohl stepped aside from her daily activities at the museum and hired strategic and persuasive Sheridan Turner as the next President and CEO. Turner had previously led a highly successful Museum of Science and Industry expansion.

In 2005, Kohl Museum moved to a new and much larger facility in Glenview. Turner gives substantial credit for this accomplishment to Rick Waddell, who served as Chairman of the museum’s board of trustees during the expansion. “We simply couldn’t have accomplished all of this without Rick’s extraordinary leadership,” Turner declares proudly.

Kohl Children’s Museum celebrates its 30th Anniversary this coming school year with a plethora of activities—starting with a September kick-off party at the stunning Burdeen’s Jewelry in Buffalo Grove, a not to be missed October 17 gala, and a Make It Better Shop For Good partnership just in time for holiday shopping.

Kohl Museum now serves over 330,000 visitors annually, provides extensive outreach programs in Chicagoland and beyond, consistently ranks as one of the top 10 children’s museums in the country, and is about to launch a pioneering program for veterans and their families.

Dolores Kohl’s vision has already touched an extraordinary number of children and families. The ripple effect to future generations will be a substantial gift to the world. And the museum is still growing.

Fortunately for me, our family is still growing too. The next generation was born in time to share in the 30th celebration too. I’m excited to take my grandson to the museum soon. I’ll miss having Walker Brothers right next door for a mighty dose of maple syrup though.

Make It Better is proud to be the media sponsor of the entire year of 30th Anniversary celebration activities. If the museum has touched your family too, we hope you will share the good news about this, and join us at one of the events, too.

Thank you.

The Best Burger: Organic, Locally Sourced & At a Locally-Owned Restaurant

The best burger ever –no hyperbole–is within strolling distance of our home at Nick’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill in Wilmette.

It’s also made from locally-sourced, organically-fed beef. The leftovers are composted and given to local school gardens too.  So you don’t have to feel bad if you can’t finish your meal, since nothing from their kitchens will go to waste.

Perhaps best of all, it’s named after my handsome husband.

That’s 6 wins – for taste, location, health, ownership, giving back and name.


KickIt – Kickball To Fight Children’s Cancer


Reese Dekker and Emmett Burnside – sponsors of the Highcrest Middle School Kick-It fundraiser

One hundred fifty kids in 5th and 6th grade in Wilmette will be playing kickball to raise funds for pediatric cancer on June 12th.

“Play Kickball” means “Cure Children’s Cancer.” This is a winning idea and competition for sure!

Kick-It was founded by a 10-year-old boy with cancer who turned his favorite sport into a way to fight his own illness and help kids in the future.

Me too – Sandy Hook School Shootings in Newtown, Connecticut

I feel just like Lillian Bittman – a former chairwoman of the Newtown Board of Education, whose three children attended Sandy Hook.

“It’s a place [the school] that feels like my house, a place that feels like my home,’’ Bittman said. “It’s as if he walked into my house and did this. I’m not alone in feeling this. Everyone I talked to feels that way. When people left Sandy Hook, when they aged out, they were sad. They were sad their kids wouldn’t be part of that community.”

That’s how parents feel about the K-grade 4 Wilmette schools too. As a former member of the New Trier Board Of Education, I understand Bittman’s greater sense of responsibility too.

My heart aches for the Sandy Hill community. My prayers are for all hurt by this travesty and for better gun control soon. Very soon.

Shop M’lee and Friends at 1818 on 12/12

Shop local to find unique presents, fab food and new friends. Win/win/win on 12/12/12 at 1818 Wilmette Avenue in Wilmette.

M’lee Holiday Show
 is finally here.
all new designs and great gift ideas
noon to eight
1818 wilmette ave
introducing two new artist erez and debbie
and welcoming back
Ann deVouno
and her millinery creations
jody, paula and laura are all returning
Meet the Artists
Original and one of a kind jewelry designs. 
New styles for the 2012 holiday season. 
Custom fittings.
Guaranteed  workmanship
Gift wrapping
Gift certificates


facebook page


deVuono Hats
Back from Seattle for this show only.
Ann deVuono’s exquisite, beautiful, handmade hats are distinguished by their precision construction, unparalled craftsmanship and unique custom designs.
Erez Ron Wood Work
Bring the natural beauty of wood into your contemporay home.
Multi-talented and gifted in wood working, Erez comes to this show  with his latest works.
Jody O’Connor Photography
“Where the Soul meets the Eye”
My friend and constant presence at these shows. Jody has dedicated countless days and hours to the homeless of Chicago.
Each year she hands out cameras to many of them. Working tirelessly she edits and prints their work and then holds a reception showcasing their best.
All proceeds are donated back to the shelters.
Debbie’s Recycled Designs
Debbie uses a lot of cashmere
 and wool in desiging her
specialty scaves, hats and
Debbie hand picks from used
and discarded sweaters to come up with the best of the rest.
Her designs are fun and
carefree and sell quickly at her shows.
An easy gift of wearable art at very affordable prices.
Laura’s Hand Painted Stemware
Laura has been painting glasses for years and is  recently expanding on her art.
She has designed and painted stemware especially for this show.
Her art is cheerful and pleasing.
Each piece is hand signed.
Mix and blend for a truly delightful look.
This might be the best show to date.
 At least it will be the most fun. Come and enjoy refreshments and conversation. Stop by for a quick look or linger. Bring a friend or come alone but don’t miss this one. New artists, new designs, new ideas.  Lots of gift ideas.
Paula will be back with her line of Arbonne products. The company’s line of personal care products include anti-aging products, acne treatment and a range of skin care products, not only for women, but also for men and children. The company also carries bath and massage oils, candles, soaps and different body lotions. Arbonne also has a complete heath program.
Paula always has great gift ideas.
Holiday Open House
This is Where:   1818 wilmette ave
                                     (just east of ridge on the north side)
This is When: 12/12/12 at Twelve
         Gratitude savings. Please enjoy 10% off on M’lee at the show.
Bring this coupon or mention the ad
Credit cards now accepted

Proud of These Friends. Please Support Them Too

Two women whom I very much admire are opening new businesses in our community.

Wendy Serrino is helping the Glencoe Women’s Library Club launch the North Shore Exchange – a nonprofit designer & home accessory resale shop.

Cece Ricketts is about to open Village Dermatology at 4th and Linden in Wilmette.

100% Renewable & Less Expensive = Better Electricity

Thanks to Cheryl Smith for spreading the word about this opportunity to make life, environment & pocketbook better in Wilmette and Kenilworth by encouraging the town governments to choose PowerPurchasing Program electricity.

As she recommends below, you can add your support to this with a simple click & send.

To Make It Better:

I want to tell your readers about an opportunity for residents and small business owners in Kenilworth and Wilmette to both save on their electricity bills and improve our environment at the same time. We can do this by choosing 100% renewable energy for the joint PowerPurchasing Program for our villages.

The American Lung Association’s 2012 annual State of the Air Report gave Cook County an “F” for Ozone and Particulates. If we choose Renewable Energy suppliers, we can improve the wellbeing of our communities.

All households and small businesses will save money under the proposed Program. We will each save just a little less if we choose renewable energy – between $0.83 and $3.00 per month: to put this in perspective, that is, roughly, one cup of coffee ($2.89) at a local restaurant, per household, per month.

Please join me in asking our Village Boards to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities by negotiating for 100% renewable energy. The time is now.

Send a brief email to:

• Kathleen Gargano, Assistant Village Manager in Wilmette at garganok
• Fred Steingraber, Village President of the Board of Directors in Kenilworth at info

These individuals will see that all letters are collected and given to the Village Trustees prior to their open meetings on the aggregation issue on May 21st (Kenilworth Village Board Room, 7:30 pm) and May 22nd (Wilmette Village Hall Council Room, 7:30 pm).

This is our opportunity to lead by example, please take a minute to send an e-mail.

Thank you,

Cheryl Smith
1121 Chestnut Ave