Friday, September 28, 2012

Nickelback Backstage

Husband and I got to meet the guys from Nickelback!

Ballard Nature Center, Illinois III

For the third summer in a row, I took the kids to the Ballard Nature Center in Effingham and made them pose behind the trail sign. Just like last year. And the year before that.

And just like the years before the Midwest sun was super bright and they had a hard time looking towards the camera.

Once, daughter and I took Yoyo there in the rain. He very quickly understood the "frog" game: walk as quietly as you can towards the pond. The second you take that last step (or jump in daughter's case) hundreds of little frogs will jump from their hiding place into the pond. Fascinating!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Oak Park, Illinois

Images by me via Instagram:

                                                              Hemingway's childhood home

                                                              Lovely, old fashioned Oak Park

The Houses of Frank Lloyd Wright Or Oak Park, The Most Beautiful Suburb Of All

I didn't want to stay overnight in downtown Chicago for several reasons, the most important one, I had rented a car. And parking in Chicago is definitely not easy or cheap.
After arriving at the airport, I drove to Oak Park, a suburb on the Western side of Chicago. We stayed at "The Carleton of Oak Park", an historic hotel that has three parking sites surrounding the hotel. After parking the car we took the subway, walked or used bikes during our entire stay there. 

Coming from our day trip from downtown, we took the Green Line to Harlem (don't get out at the Oak Park stop!) where it was a few minutes walk to the hotel.

The Carleton is right in the middle of Oak Park, surrounded by little shops, ice cream parlors and an old fashioned movie theater. And Starbucks and Whole Foods. :) There are a few little parks where one can have picnics or play baseball. It is an incredibly charming place.

One of the things Oak Park is know for are the large amount of houses "larger than life" architect Frank  Lloyd Wright designed there. Having lived and worked in Oak Park for many, many years Wright's Prairie style houses can be find all over town. Figuring the kids would have fun doing a guided bicycle tour of Wright's houses we met with a tour guide and a few other Wright enthusiasts at "GreenlineWheels" right next to our hotel to pick a bike for the morning.

This house was one of the earliest houses Wright designed. Actually he was still a very young man, working for a company in Chicago, when he designed three houses, standing next to each other in Oak Park. The green one on top, we were told, is currently on the market for $1.3 million. If I had that much money I would buy it immediately. You can already see bits of his later designs in there plus I really wouldn't mind living in Oak Park.

 I do believe that the house on top is the house that Wright built for himself and his mistress, Martha Cheney, called "Mamah" whom he had met when designing a home for her and her husband. They had been introduced by Wright's wife Catherine, who, along with their six children, was living at the architect's home and studio close by.
Mamah and her two children by Cheney would later be brutally murdered in Taliesin, Wisconsin, another one of Wright's homes.

The Pedal Oak Park Tour (highly recommended by me!) can be booked through the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. It is only offered on weekends from June to August. 

Friday, September 21, 2012


After our time in Florida husband had to get back to work so on the day he was flying back to Germany, the kids and I hopped on a plane and flew to Chicago. To me one of the most beautiful cities in the world...

When I was 6 years old, my aunt took me on top of the John Hancock Building and I remember being just as impressed as daughter and son were now.

The John Hancock Building is only the second highest building in Chicago but it does have the most beautiful view.

Fantastic view of the John Hancock Building, which at one point, was the highest building in the world. It still has the fastest elevator in North America.

Another Chicago institution - the Loop.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

2 Weeks Of Sunshine

Looking back now on our 2 weeks in Forida, I can't believe how relaxing it was. The weather was perfect (hot!), we tried and liked new things (paddle boarding, jet skiing), enjoyed the company of family and friends and ate delicious food (ice cream, daily), which I will regret as soon as I have to put my uniform skirt back on! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

6 Mile Cypress, Ft. Myers

This was also one of those things I had to talk my family into. "We have been there before" and "I am sure not much has changed in the last two years" husband said...

...but they did come along and how can you not be amazed by this...(whatever it is)...

... a squirrel that seemed obsessed with our orange nail polish...

...turtles sunbathing...

I would walk along the trail weekly if I lived there!