Renee Sommer

Editorial - Managing Editor - Chippewa Valley Family

Managing Editor, Chippewa Valley Family

Content By This Contributor:

Fri. May. 6th, 2016

Learn to Spot 4 Poisonous Plants Before You Hike

by Renee Sommer

The Chippewa Valley is full of parks, hiking trails, rolling fields, and enchanting forests, so it’s no wonder that we love to get out there and play. But not everything in our picturesque landscape is our friend ...

Thu. May. 5th, 2016

5 Fantastic Outdoor Art Projects!

by Renee Sommer, photos by Renee Sommer

It’s a fact: Art, especially with kids, is messy. But the warmth of summer gives us the opportunity to get outside, get a little dirty, and still get in a ton of creative, art-fueled play without all the stress of trying to get paint out of the carpet. So grab the kids, head outside, and let them go crazy with making art in the sunshine ...

Thu. May. 5th, 2016

Summer Theater Programs Can Spark Kids' Creativity

by Renee Sommer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

There’s something magical about playing pretend. And there’s something especially remarkable about it when it happens in a collaborative group with a vision, a stage, and a little theatrical lighting. According to Kevin Grady, associate director of the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, participating in theater ...

Thu. May. 5th, 2016

5 Easy Tips for Making Your Family More Eco-Friendly

by Renee Sommer

You could melt polar ice caps with all the heat the topic of going green gets online. Between conflicting scientific opinions and the humorous (albeit completely false) drudgery of anonymous Internet trolls, it’s difficult for us normal, everyday folk to figure out just how we’re supposed to single-handedly save the polar bears, the bees, and the whole planet ...

Tue. May. 3rd, 2016

Jason Lin juggles Improv and Ivy League Offers

by Renee Sommer

While Jason Lin doesn’t specifically mention juggling as being one of his skills, it’s pretty apparent that – at least metaphorically – he’s pretty adept at keeping multiple balls in the air. Boasting an impressive 4.0 GPA and a laundry list of accomplishments, this Memorial High School senior knows a thing or two about multitasking ...

Tue. May. 3rd, 2016

As School Ends, Remember to Thank a Teacher

by Renee Sommer

It’s the end of the school year and summer is barreling down on us like a freight train full of sunshine and ice cream. As the school bell tolls for the final time this year, kids (and parents) are going to be running away as fast as possible from the building and into the bliss of vacation. But it’s really, really important that we don’t forget the people ...

Wed. Apr. 20th, 2016

Stemming the Gap

by Renee Sommer, photos by Renee Sommer

EC kids get hands-on science experience

Tue. Apr. 12th, 2016

25 Delicious (and Kinda Crazy) S'More Recipes

by Renee Sommer

If you’re looking to broaden your s’more horizons, check out this list of 25 different s’more recipes – including those of the savory variety!

Fri. Apr. 8th, 2016

UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Beginnings Reaches Into Local Schools

by Renee Sommer

A partnership between the Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation, Xcel Energy, and UW-Eau Claire’s Blugold Beginnings has produced a high energy, high learning program at Roosevelt Elementary in Eau Claire ...

Thu. Apr. 7th, 2016

Wizards on Wheels

by Renee Sommer, photos by Luong Huynh

CV Roller Girls’ latest bout has Harry Potter theme

Wed. Apr. 6th, 2016

DIY Printable: "I'm Bored!" Jar

by Renee Sommer

The arrival of summer often means that kid’s have awful lot of free time on their hands and sometimes, they don’t always know what to do with it. To combat the inevitable “I’m bored!” whine session ...

Wed. Mar. 23rd, 2016

Nano-Scale Marvels

by Renee Sommer

NanoDays 2016 at the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire

Tue. Mar. 22nd, 2016

Prom Guide 2016 a list of every tux rental, florist ...

by Renee Sommer

Attending prom can be one of the most magical experiences in a high school student’s career. From dresses to limos, we’ve pulled together everything you’ll need to make your dream of the perfect prom night come true!

Thu. Mar. 17th, 2016

NanoDays 2016 at the Children's Museum

by Renee Sommer

On Tuesday, March 29 from 6:30-8:00pm, the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire will host celebrate NanoDays 2016. NanoDays takes place nationally March 26–April 3, 2016. It is the largest community-based public outreach effort in nanoscale science education, involving museums, research centers and universities from Puerto Rico to Alaska.

Wed. Mar. 9th, 2016

Craft Time: Magic Egg Experiment

by Renee Sommer

When you tire of our rubber egg experiment (or you break it) you can move on to experimenting with those hardboiled Easter eggs that may be sitting in your refrigerator long after the bunny has hopped along ...

Wed. Mar. 9th, 2016

Craft Time: 2 Eggs-ellent Experiments

by Renee Sommer

This time of year whenever anyone hears “eggs” they automatically throw “Easter” in front of it. But for at home mad scientists in the Valley, we add “periment” to the end of it. Get it? Eggs-periment ...

Wed. Mar. 9th, 2016

Craft Time: Volcano Egg Painting

by Renee Sommer

There’s just something about the reaction between baking soda and vinegar that can keep kids entertained for hours. And considering how cheap the two ingredients are (you can buy them right at the dollar store) it’s a frugal family’s dream ...

Thu. Mar. 3rd, 2016

Finding the Right Activity Balance

by Renee Sommer, design by Serena Wagner

According to a report by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, effective after-school programs can improve classroom behavior, school attendance, and academic aspirations ...

Thu. Mar. 3rd, 2016

Special Angels Soar With Adaptive Music

by Renee Sommer, photos by Kristen Cooley

‘It’s all her,” Isaac Knopf, an adaptive music student at North High School and a performer in the Special Angels Show Choir, says as the teacher, Linda Johnson, hushes everyone. “She makes it all happen for us.” The fifth-hour adaptive music class starts out with a solo performance by one of the students, and on this day it was Ryan Smith’s turn ...

Thu. Mar. 3rd, 2016

Connecting Community With Education

by Renee Sommer, photos by Tina Buhrow

Like the old adage says, it takes a village to raise a child. According to Sara Denrue, principal of Southview Elementary School in Chippewa Falls, “Connections to the community ...

Thu. Mar. 3rd, 2016

5 Spring Cleaning Tips

by Renee Sommer

Spring-cleaning can feel like a daunting task, especially if you haven’t done any deep cleaning in awhile. But according to UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families, having a well-organized ...

Wed. Mar. 2nd, 2016

Creating Ripples of Kindness in the Valley

by Renee Sommer

I’ve had the opportunity over the last few months to meet with some exceptional people in our schools and communities. These people are warriors in the fight to build a strong Chippewa Valley ...

Tue. Mar. 1st, 2016

Stepparenting is Making the Choice to Love

by Renee Sommer

Everyone always says that being a parent is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs on the planet. You create this little creature that steals your heart from the moment it announces its existence. You spend the next 18 years giving your all to raise a well-rounded adult ...

Tue. Mar. 1st, 2016

Jumping Off a Cliff and Into Grace

by Renee Sommer

It all started with a tarot card reading by a teenage girl in a ridiculous costume. As she laid the colorful cards out in front of me and began to explain each one, you could say I was slightly skeptical ...

Fri. Feb. 26th, 2016

Happy, Mindful Employees

by Renee Sommer

local companies factor mindfulness into normal business practices

Fri. Feb. 5th, 2016

Make Your Own Clothespin Valentine

by Renee Sommer, photos by Renee Sommer

Clothespin hidden messages make fun (and super cheap!) Valentines.

Fri. Feb. 5th, 2016

Make Your Own Love Bug Valentine

by Renee Sommer, photos by Renee Sommer

Love Bug Valentine’s are easy for kids to put together themselves and all the supplies can be at the dollar store.

Wed. Jan. 20th, 2016

Asking the Wedding Experts

by Renee Sommer, photos by Randy Lee

talking to local photographers, florists, and more about all the crazy weddings they’ve attended

Wed. Jan. 20th, 2016

‘I’m Right There With You’

by Renee Sommer, photos by Randy Lee

as she prepares for her fast-approaching wedding, Renee gives new brides tips for minimum stress

Thu. Jan. 14th, 2016

So Much More Than Just a Crossing Guard

by Renee Sommer

Rosie Hartung probably doesn’t consider herself a hero, but there are a whole lot of people in the Chippewa Valley who would disagree. Rosie started out as a playground supervisor in the Eau Claire School District but eventually moved to being a crossing guard ...

Tue. Jan. 12th, 2016

“I Don’t Like the Chippewa Valley”

by Renee Sommer

I don’t like the Chippewa Valley. I mean that wholeheartedly. I think I’ve always sort of had this feeling, but just recently it hit me in the gut with the strength of an 800-pound gorilla. I don’t like the Chippewa Valley ...

Thu. Jan. 7th, 2016

Haunted Hustle Brings $8,500 to YMCA

by Renee Sommer

Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire raised over $8,500 for the Eau Claire YMCA’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) initiative at the 3rd Annual Haunted Hustle 5K Run/Walk in Owen Park in Eau Claire in fall of 2015. Over 300 people registered to take part in the race.

Wed. Jan. 6th, 2016

6 Spots for Indoor Birthday Gatherings that won’t bust your budget

by Renee Sommer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

If the thought of 10-plus kids ravaging the inside of your home during a wintertime birthday party leaves you feeling a little queasy, take a deep breath – we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of six local venues that’ll do the clean-up for you. 1. Eau Claire YMCA 700 Graham Ave., Eau Claire • (715) 836-8460 •eauclaireymca.org ...

Tue. Jan. 5th, 2016

Winter Safety Day at Pinehurst Park

by Renee Sommer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Nothing says winter like a brisk trip down a steep, snowy hill on a sled. But an injury, no matter how severe, can bring a rapid stop to winter fun. Safety is top of mind for Pinehurst Park organizers and they’ll be hosting a winter safety day on January 9, 2016 ...

Tue. Jan. 5th, 2016

How to Make Cloud Dough: a recipe for sensory play

by Renee Sommer, photos by Janae Breunig

Learning with a sensory table – or in our house, a good ol’ box – can be much more than just a fun time-filler. Sensory play allows children to explore the world around them by physically touching and manipulating materials. This investigative free play helps to develop ...

Mon. Jan. 4th, 2016

100 Acts of Kindness: jump-start the new year with good vibes

by Renee Sommer

The underbelly of winter can leave even the best of us with a humdrum feeling of melancholy. But what would happen if each of us spread a little kindness each day to the members of our larger family – the Chippewa Valley?

Mon. Jan. 4th, 2016

5 Easy-to-do Winter Science Experiments

by Renee Sommer

From erupting volcanoes to water vapor behavior, we’ve got your family covered when it comes to easy, at home science experiments ...

Mon. Jan. 4th, 2016

4 Family Goals you can actually stick with in 2016

by Renee Sommer

With the dawn of every New Year, people make resolutions to change themselves, and sometimes the world, for the better. But all too often, the goals are too lofty and the noble intent falls by the wayside ...

Mon. Jan. 4th, 2016

Valley Families Don’t Have to Stress over heating bills this winter

by Renee Sommer, illustrated by Serena Wagner

For some families in the Chippewa Valley, turning up the thermostat isn’t as easy as punching a few buttons. It comes with a choice. A choice between affording the heating bill that comes along with it or putting food on the table and purchasing much needed medications ...

Wed. Dec. 30th, 2015

Helping Homeless Families find shelter from the cold

by Renee Sommer, photos by Renee Sommer

For many of us, home is more than a building – it’s a feeling. Home is where our memories are made. It’s where we mark our child’s height on a doorframe with each passing year. It’s the place where we snuggle in tight with those we love ...

Wed. Dec. 23rd, 2015

Ringing a Bell and doing the most good

by Renee Sommer, photos by Renee Sommer, Andrea Paulseth

Memorial High School’s special education students teamed up to spread some holiday cheer – and rake in the donations. Nine students rang ...

Wed. Dec. 23rd, 2015

Have a Happy Noon Year!

by Renee Sommer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Children’s Museum open for mid-day year-end celebration

Wed. Dec. 23rd, 2015

City Survey Asks Why You Love Eau Claire

by Renee Sommer

Electronic Eau Claire Conversation, also known as E2C2, is an online public forum used by city officials to collect input on important topics that impact our community. And while most of the time the overall vibe of the forum is about fixing what’s broken, there’s a new discussion about loving what’s right ...

Wed. Dec. 23rd, 2015

Ruder Ware Donation Puts Confluence Close to Goal

by Renee Sommer

The Ruder Ware law firm and its attorneys banded together to put up a collective gift of $150,000 towards the Confluence Project. The total amount incorporates individual commitments from several attorneys in the firm, as well as a discount in the legal services Ruder Ware been providing to the project since 2011 ...