Archive for June 2016

It’s All About Lincoln

June 30, 2016

Last weekend, the Stefanec siblings did a fly and road trip to the town in which we grew up. Brother and sisters came together from California, New Hampshire, Florida, and Wisconsin for a three-day weekend. Our brother had his high school reunion, and the rest of us decided it was a perfect time for a get-together in our hometown.

Going home again can be both a nostalgic and an eye-opening experience. Besides all the belly laughs we shared, we revisited the nooks and crannies of the town that were a very important part of our formative years. “Humor Me” as I share what we saw.

Welcome to Lincoln, Illinois!

It was the first town to be named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous. On August 27, 1853, Lincoln christened the town with watermelon juice. Sweet!

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Postville Courthouse


This replica of the original Postville Courthouse can be found on Fifth Street in Lincoln. It’s the place where Lincoln tried cases while he traveled the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Central Illinois.

Across the street from the courthouse is the well which was used by Lincoln when court was in session. Well, isn’t that refreshing!


Near the grade school, all of the Stefanecs attended is this plaque that commemorates a Stephen A. Douglas Speech.


Statues of Lincoln can be found all around the town.


At Lincoln College


At the Lincoln Heritage Museum

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At the Town Square with my sister


Along Historic Route 66


Did you know Lincoln split rails and the local high school nickname is the Lincoln Railers?IMG_0953

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Quirky Lincoln


Notice the telephone booth on top of City Hall. It was placed there before new weather technology came along. When there was threatening weather, a spotter was sent up there to watch for tornadoes and call downstairs for someone to activate the siren. That just blows me away!

A Little Nostalgia for the Stefanecs


Our House


Our Church


Our Grade School


Our Favorite Pizza Place


The Old Lincoln Theater – the only one in town!


The Logan County Courthouse and Town Square

The nostalgic part of our trip was being with our family, seeing old friends, and reminiscing. The eye-opening part, which was heartbreaking to see, was realizing the once thriving community we used to live in was not the same as it once was. Streets were devoid of cars and people. Stores were shuttered, and jobs are harder to find.  Many of the people we grew up with have left. It’s a sad but true sign of the times for some small towns. Lincoln will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m happy to have lived there when I did!

If your family is interested in learning more about Abraham Lincoln, check out this site for The 10 Best Children’s Books on Abraham Lincoln.


Summer Reading

June 23, 2016

Summer reading. Share the adventure!



Check out these websites for some great summer reading choices for kids.

Summer Reading Guide 2016 Ages 0-12

Science is for Girls:  25 Books About Female Scientists  

The New York Times® Bestsellers:  Children’s Picture Books 

ALSC Summer Reading Lists

Summer Reading Lists for Kids Ages 6-14

100 Best Books Every Boy (and Girl) Should Read 





Dream the Impossible

June 16, 2016

I love the theater – especially musical theater. On Sunday, I watched the Tony Awards. I look forward to seeing what’s new in the theater and which stars are on the rise.

I grew up listening to all types of musical genres, but the stage and screen musicals were the ones I enjoyed the most. I listened to those albums over and over. I memorized the lyrics and sang my heart out. I choreographed my own dances. My secret dream was to be a Broadway star. When I was in eighth grade, I tried out for the lead in our school musical. I was told I had a sweet little voice and was given a small non-singing part. It was a nice way of saying, “Honey, you can’t sing.” Who knew? I sure didn’t! I loved musicals so much it was never an issue for me to be a background cast member where my voice was masked by the better singers.

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One of my favorite songs is “The Impossible Dream” from “Man of La Mancha.” When I first heard the lyrics, it was during those tough adolescent years. It became my theme song. It’s about doing the right thing even though others may disagree with you. It’s about having goals and overcoming obstacles to achieve your dreams. Musicals  have always been an important part of my life. Whenever possible, you can find me at the theater or enjoying a screen version of a musical. The musical “Hamilton” is on my must-see list.

I’m never going to be a Broadway star, but I still dance and sing to my favorites. I’m at the stage in my life where I don’t care who sees or hears me. I also have my secret dreams. Some of them may seem unattainable, but I charge on because I know I will eventually “reach the unreachable star.”

Dream your impossible dream!




The Cow Stops Here

June 9, 2016

June is National Dairy Month. Since our recent move to New Hampshire, I’m missing Wisconsin and all of its delicious dairy products. I’m particularly missing the Farmers’ Market around the Capital Square in Madison. They do a bang-up job of celebrating Dairy Month. Since I couldn’t be there this year, I’m reposting one of the last times I strolled around the State Capital, taking in all the delectable sights.


Mo-o-o-ve over! June is National Dairy Month, and Saturday the cows were out – Cows on the Wisconsin State Capital Concourse, of course, of course. Cows flaunted their “Dairy aire.” Got Milk? You betcha! White milk, chocolate milk, and strawberry milk were on the menu. There were hunka hunks of cheese and mounds of squeaking cheese curds. If you missed breakfast or lunch, grilled cheese sandwiches were making the rounds. For dessert or an anytime treat, I scream, you scream we all scream for ice cream and don’t forget the overstuffed cream puffs. The cows were doing their best to please. It was a dairy day overload. Follow me and see.

First stop — cows. I had a hard time getting close to the mooers. Those little kiddos wouldn’t let me in.


A Close-Up Look


That’s Big


Milk mustaches were en vogue. Got Milk?


There were all kinds of dairy treats – good for your teeth and bones.


Say Cheese!


Give the Man a Cream Puff!

It was an “udderly” satisfying day. So don’t forget to celebrate National Dairy Month. Drink a glass of milk today!

Want to know more about cows and dairy products? Check these out.

The Milk Makers by Gail Gibbons (Aladdin, 1987), Cows (Animals Animals)by Renee C. Rebman (Benchmark Books, 2009), Farm Animals Cows by Cecilia Minden (Cherry Lake Pub., 2009), Cows (Animals That Live on the Farm) by JoAnn Early Macken (Weekly Reader Early Learning Library, 2009), Ice Cream:  The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, 2008)

For Fun:  A Big Cheese for the White House:  The True Tale of a Tremendous Cheddar by Candice Fleming (Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) 2004)


A Book for Dinosaur Lovers

June 2, 2016

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?


When my daughter was small, she was captivated by dinosaurs. She had a huge collection of dinosaurs along with dinosaur cards, books, and stamps. She even had those eggs that dissolved in the bathtub to reveal a sponge dinosaur. My daughter’s prehistoric creatures could be found in almost every part of our house. Her interest in nonfiction books came about because of them. The collection is now stored in our basement. I’m eagerly waiting for our adorable twin granddaughters to be old enough to take the collection home and create their own dinosaur land.


During the Ogren-house dinosaur era, nonfiction picture book biographies were not as plentiful as they are today. I recently picked up Barnum’s Bones in our local library. My daughter would have loved this book when she was into her dinosaur phase. Author Tracey Fern tells the story of Barnum Brown and how he discovered the most famous dinosaur in the world.

Barnum Brown was born in 1873. From the time he could walk, he loved collecting things that his father unearthed as he plowed the farm fields. His collection grew and so did his fascination of dinosaur fossils and bones. While studying paleontology at the University of Kansas, Barnum’s professor invited him to go on a fossil hunt. Barnum had a nose for finding bones. His name came to the attention of a professor at Columbia University who was also an administrator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The professor from Columbia wanted his museum to have the best dinosaur collection in the world. He hired Barnum and sent him to different parts of the United States and South America. Barnum returned with loads of bones, but not that unique one. Undaunted, Barnum continued his quest. With his uncanny sense for finding bones, his persistence, and his knowledge, Barnum’s search proved successful when he found “a perfect, four-foot-long T. rex skull” in the badlands. T. rex was the pride and joy of the American Museum of Natural History. Visitors and scientists came from all over the world to see it and study it. Tracey Fern’s engaging text and Boris Kulikov’s expressive watercolor illustrations done in earth tones make this biography a clever account of dinosaur information and an entertaining read. Dinosaur lovers will want to make this book a keeper.

Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, Margaret Ferguson Books Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012.




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