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    Kim’s Blog combines home front experiences with informative updates on area events, unique opportunities and of course, dynamic deals!  For daily updates, Get Social and Follow SpringfieldMoms on your preferred Social Network for event reminders, coupon links, reader favorites and lots of helpful tips and laughs.

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    As we unveil our new logo and celebrate our bright future caring for kids and families in central Illinois, we’re asking the voting public of Springfield, central Illinois and beyond to vote in the 2017 HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital Mascot Election! The public election runs from April 20-April 28, 11:59 p.m., CST. Voting is only available online at sjchildrens.org. One vote is allowed per electronic device over the course of the election. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, May 3, 2017.

     

    This public election comes after an internal primary election advanced two of the four mascot candidates; the primary was only open to Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) employees, board members and patients. The two final candidates were unveiled at a press conference on Thursday. The candidates are C.J. and Joey, kangaroos who are the current mascots for the children’s hospital and the challengers are a father/daughter fox duo, Felix and Felicia. The two candidates who didn’t advance are Goldie the dog and Milo the monkey. Learn more about the candidates at sjchildrens.org!

     

    “Our colleagues had a lot of fun selecting the top two candidates, but now we need the public’s help in ultimately choosing our mascot,” said Vernessa Glover, executive director of HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital. “The mascot plays such an important role in our hospital—cheering up kids dealing with tough medical situations and serving as a representative for our hospital at community events where we often promote preventative health care messages.” 

     

    Since St. John’s Children’s Hospital was designated in 1998, we’ve provided care to thousands of children and families in central Illinois. We are committed to a strong future in caring for kids. Our new logo helps celebrate and renew our commitment to care within the region. This is also evident with our recent announcement of a $48 million medical facility we are building in partnership with SIU Healthcare that will focus on caring for women and children. It’s expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

     

    “We have a strong partnership that will enable us to care for many generations of families in the Springfield area,” said Douglas Carlson, MD, medical director of HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital and chair of SIU Department of Pediatrics. 

    My 13 year-old daughter Vanessa joined me to volunteer at the Central Illinois Food Bank recently, and as any Mom who has a blog would do…I delegated the writing of our experience to her!  🙂

    It’s harder to find volunteer opportunities for teenagers, and this was a great one!

    Here’s what she had to say.  

    The Food Bank is very massive and has lots of food, but still needs more food because, they send out food to local shelters, churches, and other organizations that provide food to those in need, etc. The food bank helps so many people it is amazing!  When you volunteer you can do different things like physically helping out, or donating food, or doing both. I chose the physically helping out way. I volunteered for about two hours on a Saturday morning in the freezer sorting and organizing food items that were then packaged up for the organizations to distribute. The food bank receives damaged or extra food that a food company has. The food bank throw’s away anything where the food was exposed or cannot be used.  Working In the freezer it was very cold, so it’s important to come with a jacket and gloves and bundle up. There are other places you can share your volunteer time.  You can also help by working at the warehouse, helping clean up the food bank, etc. (for more information about volunteering go to: https://www.centralilfoodbank.org/news/Volunteer.aspx

    Volunteering was truly a great experience and even by doing the little things like giving up two hours of your day, or donating ten cans can really change a persons life because it is the little things in that you do in your life that can make a big impact in another’s life.

    Join Illinois’ Longest Running Earth Day Celebration as the City of Springfield’s 25th Annual Earth Awareness Fair will be held on Saturday, April 22nd from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the grounds of the Old State Capitol located in downtown Springfield at 1 Old State Capitol Plaza. This FREE, all-ages, and family friendly event will feature 40+ exhibitors with information on environmental topics such as recycling, reuse, energy efficiency, alternative energy, native plants/ habitat, local/organic foods, and water conservation.

    One of our readers will win a basket with 2 t-shirts, select gift cards, 2 reusable cups and a frisbee!  Enter by commenting here on a simple way you do your part to preserve our Earth or post on our facebook promo. Must post your comment by Wednesday April 19th at 10:00pm.

     

    The afternoon will also feature live music, hands-on activities, games, crafts, activities and programs from organizations including the Henson Robinson Zoo, a special bee presentation by Arvin Pierce, and the Springfield Bicycle Club’s Bicycle Rodeo for Kids aged 5-12. Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Bring your family and friends for an afternoon of fun, learning, and celebration.

     

     For a current listing of scheduled events and exhibitors, visit the City of Springfield website at www.springfield.il.us or the city’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cityofspringfieldil/. Listings will be updated weekly.

    Any questions, please contact Adena Rivas, Community Programs Coordinator for the City of Springfield, at 217-789-2255 or Adena.Rivas@Springfield.il.us

    The YMCA Strong Kids Scholarship Fund has an invaluable impact on families by offering summer camp and programming to underprivileged youth and their families. We also subsidize memberships and special needs programming. We believe everyone should have access to a healthier life. No one is turned away from the Y for their inability to pay.

    Hannah builds skills and makes friends at the Y’s Saturday Strikers Special Needs Bowling Program.

    Whether it be a low-income child becoming involved in a sports league for the first time or a young special needs swimmer working towards Special Olympics competition, the Y creates opportunity for all members of our community.

    One such opportunity was a very special summer for the Springfield Matthew kids:

    The saying “It takes a village to raise a child” certainly is true when it comes to Springfield’s homeless children. The Matthew project provides clothing, food, tutoring, mentoring and life skills classes to District 186 homeless children. Each school year, District 186 identifies the homeless children in the district and chooses a school to partner with the Matthew Project.

    Throughout the school year, the Matthew Project provides one-on-one mentoring and tutoring for the kids. The Matthew House was purchased in 2012 by Ann Libri, Executive Director for the Matthew Project and her husband, Tony. Their vision was to provide a comfortable, welcoming and worry-free place where kids could come once a week, get a hot meal, and study.
    So, every Thursday night they are bussed by the Springfield Urban League to the Matthew House. It is here that they spend time on homework or school projects and eat dinner provided by the Dominican Sisters at Sacred Heart-Griffin. At the end of the evening, the children get to spend “Matthew Dollars.” Matthew dollars are earned at school for anything from good grades to good behavior. In the house, there is a fifteen-foot of donated items like underwear, socks, pencils, and alarm clocks. They can “purchase” an item they may want or need with Matthew Dollars. This is their favorite part of the night.

    The program is effective but stops at the end of the school year. “Where most kids look forward to summer, our Matthew kids look at summer with great anxiety,” says Ann. Matthew kids are at their greatest risk during summer. She continues, “They have little to no supervision, academics is not a priority, and often, they do not know when their next meal will come.”

    To solve this dilemma, the Matthew Project partnered with the YMCA to provide the Matthew kids with a healthy, happy summer. The first hour of every day at YMCA summer camp is spent with District 186 teachers who ensure the kids do not lose the achievement gains they made during the previous year. Then, the kids experience all the great things that summer camp provides! The camp offers crafts, canoeing, trail hiking, archery, and games like tag and Red Rover.

    Since the children are homeless, where they are picked up in the morning is not necessarily where they will stay that same night. So, the program provides transportation to and from the YMCA so that mobility is not a barrier to participation.

    One of the greatest gifts of summer camp is the food program. A grant awarded by the Central Illinois Food bank provides breakfast and lunch to summer campers at the YMCA. Can you imagine the impact this has with the Matthew kids? The stress of not knowing where their next meal will come from is eliminated. They know each day they will have a good, healthy, hot breakfast and lunch. Many times, extra food is packaged and sent with the kids to further ensure food security.

    Mackenzie is a nine-year-old boy that participated in the Matthew Project last summer. He and his sister Adrianna loved being part of the summer camp experience. When you ask Mackenzie what he likes about the YMCA summer camp, he quickly says, “Swimming! That’s my favorite.” The kids are given twice-weekly water safety and swim lessons. Most drownings are suffered by low-income children and are 100% preventable. Many of these kids have never been exposed to a pool. Summer camp offers them exposure to and confidence around water.

    The first year these two agencies partnered, fifteen Matthew kids were sent to YMCA summer camp. Last year, we had fourteen kids. In 2017, we are projecting about sixteen children who will participate in summer camp. The program is fully funded by generous donors to the YMCA Strong Kids Scholarship Fund.

    Mackenzie and his older sister have transitioned out of the homeless program. They are currently living with their father in permanent housing. Makenzie and Adrianna are both members of the YMCA and are Strong Kids scholarship recipients. We love seeing them both YMCA branch locations. We know they are having fun and making lasting friendships. Ann expresses her gratitude. “The kids would be lost without the YMCA Summer Camp. We are so very grateful such a great opportunity is being provided to these kids. After all, every kid deserves a memorable summer.”
    Last year, the YMCA put over $520,000 back into our kids, families, and community. Learn more about how the YMCA Strong Kids Scholarship Fund works in our community at www.springfieldymca.org/strongkids.

    Thank you to Ethan Whelpley for testing and reviewing cursive apps for children!

    In school districts all around, the teaching of cursive is fading away faster than ever. Luckily there are apps that want to change that and teach kids how to learn cursive–for free!cursive screenshot

    The first app I tried out was called “Handwriting Worksheets for Children.”  First, if you have your child use this app, I recommend that an adult download it onto the child’s device. The first time I opened the app there was a pop-up add that said “app of the day”. After I hit cancel the same add popped right back up, and after I hit the cancel button for the second time it left for good, but then a new app appeared, this time advertising for a medieval game. The ad showed a lot of cleavage, and I know I wouldn’t want my young child to see (if I had one). After that I started to play the game. The way it “teaches” cursive is that it has you trace over the cursive letters with your finger, which I found very difficult. I would give this app 2 1/2 stars because it doesn’t teach cursive. However, it is a really cool drawing app that I would use to draw, but that would be the only reason I would use it and probably the only reason your child would use it. Some ways that it could’ve improved was if it had no ads on it and if it was more interactive and fun to play instead of something that I would feel forced to use. itunes.apple.com/us/app/handwriting-worksheets-for

    Another app that I tried out is called “Cursive Writing.” It’s simple. All you do is you trace right over cursive letters just like the other app, and it was also a better layout and it felt more welcoming to the user. It also was easier to use because it didn’t feel so tight on my fingers because the letters were only on one screen at a time. I also think it could have been more interactive to make the app more entertaining for the user. But overall I think it’s the better app to download so your kid/kids can learn cursiveitunes.apple.com/us/app/cursive-writing

    cursive writing screenshot
    The next app I tried is called “ABC Cursive.” Turn down the sound because it’s loud and distracting with music and voices. If your child does not mind the sound, this app is more interactive than the first two apps, but the free edition only offers uppercase letters, so you don’t get a full learning experience. itunes.apple.com/us/app/abc-cursive-writing-free-lite
    Finally, I tried the app “Cursive Words.” I like this one because it feels good on my fingers. There is a lot of space on the screen so you are not as cramped up as other apps. It’s pretty fun, You get the feeling of how the cursive letters join together to make simple words. The more you use it, the longer the words get. The app is free so there are ads, but they were not offensive and seem to be well-positioned (not distracting) age-appropriate for children. itunes.apple.com/us/app/cursive-words
     
    Overall, here are keys to the cursive tutorial apps that I tried:
    • Use a tablet, not a phone. I started trying apps on my iPhone and the screen is smaller. I think most kids would prefer using the apps on an iPad or other tablet.abc cursive screenshot
    • I didn’t find any apps that checked my work. I could have just been scribbling and not trying, and on every app, I could still move on to the next step whether I’d learned or not.
    • I’m not sure that learning cursive is necessary anymore, but I don’t think you should rely on these apps to teach a child cursive.
    Submitted by Ethan Whelpley when he was an 8th grader at Glenwood Middle School in Chatham. He’s still working on learning cursive. You can find him online on his Ethan Whelpley YouTube channel.

    We’ve gathered everything you need for Easter food, fun and crafts!  From traditional egg hunts and Easter Bunny sitings to cooking classes and crafts, start here!

    Egg Hunts and Meetings with the Easter Bunny

    Our Favorite Easter Books

    Our Pinterest Pages:

    The Illinois Symphony Guild of Springfield is offering music scholarships for area students in sixth through twelfth grades as part of their annual Scholarship Auditions program. Area students are invited to participate in this audition process on Sunday, April 30, 2017, 1:00 PM at Sacred Heart Griffin High School in Springfield, Illinois. The Illinois Symphony Guild of Springfield will award the following:

    • Orchestral Students: For strings, woodwinds, brass, or percussion players in Grades 6-12. One $300 scholarship and one $200 scholarship.
    • Senior Piano Students: For piano students in Grades 10-12. One $300 scholarship.
    • Intermediate Piano Students: For piano students in Grades 6-9. One $200 scholarship.
    • Vocal Students: For vocal students in Grades 8-12. One $300 scholarship.

    The Scholarship audition program is open to all students in Sangamon and surrounding counties.

    Students auditioning should prepare to play one selection of music of their own choosing that is up to five minutes in length. Piano and vocal solos must be memorized. Instrumental and vocal students must provide their own accompanist, if necessary.

    Winners of the scholarship auditions will be invited to perform at the Central Illinois Young Musicians’ Annual Concert scheduled for Sunday, May 7, 2017, 4:00 PM at First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois.

    How to register?

    Students interested in participating are asked to submit an entry application form by Sunday, April 23, 2017. The entry form is available www.ilsymphony.org. Entry applications may be submitted to Guild Contact Dee Dee Gain by emailing it to deedee.gain@gmail.com or by mailing to 2053 Cardinal Drive, Springfield, Illinois 62704. 

    The Illinois Symphony Guild of Springfield supports the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and serves to assist in assuring the future of live symphonic music in central Illinois. They achieve this by promoting the activities of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra; assist in raising funds for its progress; and furthering the cultivation of the art of music through educational projects. The Illinois Symphony Guild of Springfield invites any person desiring to assist in the support of the orchestra to join the guild. For information on how you can become a member of the Guild, please go to www.ilsymphony.org.

     


    We’re continually updating our outdoor directories so you can plan quality time outside with your friends and family!  We all need to disconnect more often from our phones and laptops, and participating in any of these activities will force you to do so.  Enjoy your downtown and share your favorites with us.  As always, we welcome your pictures out and about!  Email to springfieldmoms.org@gmail.com.

    Area Parks Directory

    Bike Trails

    Dog Parks

     


    Our Springfield Moms staff is full of busy area Moms, and we’re excited to celebrate now that Lauren Coleman’s family just expanded! Welcome to Hudson who is little brother to two very proud big sisters, Isabelle (age 8) & Ireland (age 5).  Look at the precious moments between this sibling trio. Apparently, his sisters are showering him with love and kisses so much so, that he broke out on his forehead last week…LOL. Big sisters help Mom with whatever they can, and his nickname is Huds or Huddy Buddy.  

    I LOVE to look at pictures of our reader’s families as they expand.  Siblings are such a wonderful gift and lifelong friend! I’m the youngest of three in my family as well, and I’m so grateful I received the love, support and learned how to hold my ground during those formative childhood years!  

    Cheers and much love to the Coleman Family as they enjoy their new addition!

     

    Thankfully Lauren keeps our Baby Corner and Toddler Resources updated as she’s in the middle of all of this….every day!

     

    We’re so excited about the newest exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.  Step inside the historic rivalry between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Visit the Illinois Gallery to see gloves, jerseys and bats used by legends of the game. Find out whether your community leans Cardinals or Cubs. Test your knowledge of the teams and take some swings in a home-run derby game. Join us throughout 2017 for special events that explore this legendary rivalry and its unique place in Illinois culture. Mascot Day, Evening with the Creators, Youth and Family Activities, All-American Picnic/Movie in the Park, ESPN Baseball Analyst Tim Kurkjian, Author and Historian Talmage Boston, and more!  These 7th Inning Stretch Activities will be featured on our calendar: First one is April 8th.

    For now, head to the exhibit, Save $1 per person with your friends and family!  

      $1 Off Admission

    Show this coupon on your smartphone or print to receive $1 off regular-priced admission for everyone in your group to Cubs Vs. Cardinals: The Rivalry Exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. Plan your visit at www.PresidentLincoln.Illinois.gov

    Valid until Dec. 31, 2017

    Not valid with any other offer, promotion, or discount. Offer has no cash value.  Other restrictions may apply.  

    Promo: Mom