Family Lake Cottages…An option afforded of many in this area by ownership or friendship

Recently, I completed a whirlwind week that included trips to two different summer homes in two different states.  It all started with a weekend at my parents’ beach house in New Buffalo, Michigan and concluded with a great night with friends in Delavan, Wisconsin in a beautiful home on the lake…two totally different settings, each only about ninety minutes from home, and both beautiful.

new buffalo

The biggest thing they had in common? I FEEL LIKE I AM ON VACATION.  The stress of everyday life melts away with one cup of coffee or one glass of wine overlooking the lake.  The kids stay up later and try new sports that are not available to them ten months out of the year.  My family tries to get away several times in the summer for mini-vacations (2-3 nights) and all of the great vacation spots in the area provide many options.

I feel lucky to have family and friends with such nice places to visit and relax with such ease.  I wish all families had the opportunity to experience the joy of a few nights away from home in a cottage on a lake.  It really can bond a family, even if everyone still checks their phones and iPads a bit.  Let’s be real….it’s unrealistic to think you can just turn off a phone anymore.

Luckily, I have one last trip to Michigan before school starts with the family and we plan on spending four nights this time.  So get ready Stray Dog and Oinks, here we come.

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daisy dashAround 7:45am a few Sundays ago on Father’s Day, residents and friends from the area gathered in the quaint downtown of Clarendon Hills.  Since 2007, a local group of volunteers have been hosting the Clarendon Hills Daisy Dash 5k and kids’ 1/2mile races.  While it’s only been in existence for 7 years, the Daisy Dash has grown annually in size and importance to the community.

This year 722 people raced in the 5k and 292 children participated in the ½ mile run; meaning that the Daisy Dash Race broke the 1000 participant threshold for the first time.  For a town of less than 9,000 residents, that is pretty impressive.  The race is special in many ways and you can see it in the way that just about every runner orders and wears the tee-shirt for that year.  I actually own every color tee-shirt that has ever been issued for the race (except year 1).  Not just on race day will you see the shirts, as people wear them year round.  In fact, this past winter, we were in line for a ride at Disney World when we spotted a race shirt from several years back and new it was a friendly face from Clarendon Hills.

Finally, the Daisy Dash volunteers also have managed to raise race proceeds and to donate them to select foundations and charities.  One special donation from the proceeds was a new Police Message Board that is now available to the Village to announce road closures or special events.

So if you haven’t been to the Daisy Dash, please come join the fun on June 15, 2014 (Father’s Day).  The most common question about the race is what color next year’s race shirt will be.  I vote for tie-dye.

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This past Monday, Clarendon Hills had its annual garbage amnesty pick up. It’s the one week of the year where residents are allowed to throw away as much as they want (within certain limits on some items). Starting early on Sunday, the “garbage” began to collect along the roadway shoulders. By noon, the pickers descended onto Clarendon Hills to pick up items that can be reused or resold. This lasted until dusk and beyond providing for the heaviest traffic day of the year in town.


Fact is that garbage pickers provide a positive ecological impact by “re-using” items that residents have deemed to be of no use to them. Re-use is better than recycling and is only eclipsed by reducing. So a hearty thumbs up to the garbage pickers that pick up at least 50% of what is placed at the street on Garbage Amnesty Day. Many of these pickers aggregate all of the items found and resell them at garage sales in other neighborhoods or at resale shops.

I have also wondered whether this day is just a service that is provided by the Village as a part of the contract with Republic Waste or if it’s a subliminal way of getting people to de-clutter their homes. I think it is both a convenience and a safety item. For many people, throwing things out can be difficult, except when it’s free to do so. Items that cluttered up attics, basements and garages have been removed. Ultimately, while I believe there are safety advantages associated with de-cluttering, the Garbage Amnesty Day is really just a negotiated perk for residents.
The following communities have/had Garbage Amnesty Days with Republic Waste in 2013:

Village/City Date (2013)
La Grange Park March 21
La Grange April 8 – 11
Elmhurst April 24 – 26
Western Springs May 4
Clarendon Hills May 20 – 22
Downers Grove September 30

I really think there is value in the Garbage Amnesty Day in many ways: for the Homeowner, the Pickers, the Village and the Planet. I can’t wait till next year already!!!!

Comment back on what was the craziest thing you saw on the street this past Sunday.

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Every summer several west suburban communities host vintage car cruise nights. These events include vintage cars from the depression era to the muscle cars of the 1950’s and 1960’s to newer vehicles. Cruise nights are not just for gear heads; rather they are community events centered on a vintage car theme. Everyone from toddlers to grandparents will find fun at these all-ages events. Each town puts their own spin on their car themed events such as having a true cruise down Main Street or offering an area in which owners display their cars to you to admire up close. Regardless of the setup, these events foster community spirit and offer a chance for neighbors to connect on a social level.

The following three west suburban communities offer Car/Cruise Nights:

    Riverside Cruise Nights

Dates: June 13, July 11 and August 8
Where: Burlington Park
Time 5:00 – 10:00

    Westmont Cruise Nights

Dates: June through August on Thursday Evenings
Where: Cass Avenue
Time 6:00 – 9:00

    Downers Grove Summer Nights Car Show

Dates: May 17 through August 30th on Friday Evenings
Where: Main Street
Time 6:00 – 9:00

So vroom-vroom and head on over to one of these fun filled nights in your local neighborhood.

I’ve attended the Riverside and Westmont events and they are a really great time. You will really be amazed at the variety and condition of the cars that have been lovingly restored and maintained by their owners.

I tend to favor the cars from before the 1950s. What’s your favorite?

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I recently created a list of the things I’d like to enjoy this spring such as a picnic at the Morton Arboretum and a Cubs game with my daughters. While private family bonding events are at the top of my list, my mind kept veering toward the neighborhood gatherings that shape our lives in Clarendon Hills.

When the leaves fell off the trees last autumn, we were all forced to move indoors and turn a little inward. Sure, it’s a great time to watch movies with the family or do some fixer-upper projects inside the house. But as the ground thaws and the days get longer, spring beckons us again with its daffodils, forsythia, and redbuds as the children begin to play in the streets and yards of our community once more.

My favorite part of this spring awakening is rediscovering my neighbors as we ride bikes down the street, take a stroll, and work in our front yard. We trade stories of our winter adventures and meet new babies. In just a few weeks, the impromptu happy hours on the front porches of my street will begin again in earnest and we’ll watch as the kids congregate in our driveways to play. This is our time.

The new residents who moved in the fall, winter, or early spring finally get the chance to bump into their neighbors, and soon these relative newcomers will become part of the neighborhood fabric.
So, here’s to my favorite part of spring: the unofficial annual community kick-off of the neighborhood gathering season. Next time you move, hopefully spring is right around the corner to provide that perfect opportunity to get out there, mingle, and meet your neighbors.

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