Photo Credit: Bella Nicole Photography

 

Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?

 

I am originally from Wilmette, Illinois, but my husband, Jim, grew up here in Libertyville. We both lived in Chicago for about 10 years before moving here when we were pregnant with our second daughter. We love it!

 

Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)

 

We have two daughters, Della (5) and Ivy (3), with a third one on the way! Della just finished her first year of preschool at A Village Green Montessori in the Yellow Room, and her sister will start there next year. We love VGM!

 

What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?

 

We live within walking distance to downtown Libertyville, which we take advantage of as often as possible (when the weather cooperates)! We love getting a babysitter and heading out to Milwalky Taco or Main Street Social. With the kids we like to walk to the library or go to Lunch in the Park. We pretty much lived at Lake Minear last summer and plan to do the same this summer. And we never miss Libertyville Days. There’s just so much to do right here in town!  We do try to venture down to Wrigley Field a couple times a summer so the girls can visit their dad at work. Go Cubs!

 


Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world? Please share!

 

While my full-time job is clerking for an Illinois Appellate Court justice downtown, I devote a substantial amount of my free time to keeping our kids as safe as possible at school and at home. About a year ago, I became involved in the Be Smart program, a program developed to bring together parents and all adults concerned about kids, guns, and safety. This program highlights the importance of safe gun storage in reducing unintentional shootings of children, as well as in reducing school shootings. In incidents of gunfire on school grounds, 78% of shooters obtained the gun(s) from their home or the homes of relatives or friends – just imagine if those guns had been properly stored. Safe gun storage also has an impact on child and teen suicide, as 40% of child suicides involve a gun.

 

I’ve given presentations at PTA meetings, preschools, and even in people’s homes, where I not only highlight safe storage methods, but also give tips on how to ask other parents about safe gun storage before sending your children on playdates or out to babysit in other people’s homes. I also encourage parents to ask about safe gun storage before going to other peoples’ houses even if you as the parent will be present (family parties, dinner at a family friend’s house, etc.), as children tend to wander upstairs or down to a basement without parent supervision. There is such a stigma surrounding this topic, and there just shouldn’t be. With guns being the second leading cause of death among children in the United States, we have no excuse for ignoring this subject matter. We owe it to our children to do better, and I truly believe it starts with us as parents.

 

How has this community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?

 

I really did not know much about Libertyville when we moved here, and I just feel SO lucky to have landed in such a wonderful community. There are countless neighbors and friends that I know I can depend on, and I truly feel that I’ve chosen the perfect village to help raise my children.

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom?

 

This is a tough one. There’s nothing I want more in life than to see my children grow up happy and healthy. I often talk with my own mother about raising my children and how to handle certain situations, and she always reminds me to not dwell on the parenting mistakes I think I’m making. Just because I think I handled something poorly in a day doesn’t negate all of other things I did right that day. We are so quick to criticize ourselves, but if our children grow up in a loving household, that is what they’ll remember.

 

What is next for you?

 

My oldest daughter will be starting kindergarten at Rockland Elementary School, so I look forward to meeting new parents there in the fall! I also plan to continue working to keep our children safe in schools and at home by spreading the Be Smart message. If anyone is interested in hearing more about the Be Smart campaign, I would love to connect with you. I am happy to give a presentation to other moms at your home, school, or other organization. Please reach out anytime! You can check out Be Smart at http://besmartforkids.org/, or email me directly at ajconnley@gmail.com

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