|One of the many lake beaches in Evanston|
......so far so good. We're really enjoying Chicago and love living in our leafy suburb outside of Chicago. It reminds me a little of home - lots of playgrounds/parks for the kids, good Pre-schools, schools, grocery shops etc and lots of activities going on, and a bonus is we have the beach too 1 mile away - well it's a lake side beach, but then Lake Michigan is 58,000 square km in size so it does look like the ocean, but a bonus is it is freshwater not salt water.
|Our favourite park - nicknamed the Butterfly Park|
|The girls enjoying a tandem swing|
I've been very surprised by the weather too, I imaged the summers here would be like an English summer - hit and miss, but so far it's been perfect and reminds me of a Sydney summer but with less rain, not a lot of mozzies or cockroaches it's been great. 4 months of gorgeous summer weather one can't complain, and now Autumn is upon us, it is beautiful seeing all the lovely Autumn colours through the trees, Halloween is just around the corner and Thanksgiving too.
And what are the Americans like? Well my first impression is they are so friendly, I thought Aussies were friendly but these guys are so so friendly it's wonderful, they are friendly, kind and helpful, everyone has been wonderful to us. They are very patriotic too, lots of large American flags on display, and they like to do everything big, big cars, big houses, big schools, big freeways, big malls, big coffees, big servings etc,
|At full mast as it was Sept 11th|
Clothes/shoes/goods/food are all so cheap here - food I can shop for 4 people for about $120-$150 a week here, in Oz I was spending at least $250, and I make most meals from scratch too, I make my own pasta, bread etc as we rarely buy convenience food, organic food is so cheap here, it makes it easier to choose better food too. But if I do get a craving for Tim Tams we have a local World Market shop I can buy them from.
Eating out is cheap too and very child friendly, there are always colouring in sheets and crayons on hand and one Italian we visit even gave the girls pizza dough to play with, then they baked it - how cool. We really do enjoy going out for breakfast on the weekend, it's cheap and the girls love it, they love getting pancakes.
They still measure in Imperial here rather than metric - yards, pounds & ounces so now I'm having to get use to converting back from metric to imperial lucky I do have a handy converter on my iphone, which I am always using at my local fabric shop.
What's America like? or should I say the Midwest, so far I find it strangely similar to Australia, big houses, lots of greenery, lots of close by playgrounds for kids, great shopping centers, they are very outdoorsy people and make the most of the gorgeous summer weather, and living by the water is a bonus too. It's such a diverse country, our little road trip showed us some of the diversity but we still have so many more places to explore.
Another great advantage we have discovered, are free museum days - In Chicago we have some brilliant museums - The Science & Industry Museum (think Powerhouse Museum but bigger and better) The Field Museum, The Aquarium, Planetarium, Peggy Notebaert to name a few and they do free museum days throughout the year - we've already taken advantage of the Science, Aquarium, Field and Planetarium - and all have been fantastic days out.
|Penguin fun at the Aquarium|
One of the best museums for kids is the Chicago Children's museum it's a fantastic day out for the kids, with so much to do, from free art sessions to water play to building and much much more. It's situated in Navy Pier, another great area for families, we easily can spend the whole day there, my girls love it.
|Our favourite museum - lots of fun here|
But one of the best free things to do is the Lincoln Park Zoo - a zoo free all year round and it's a great zoo too - the girls love spending time there.
|Riding The Animal Carousel at Lincoln Park Zoo|
The one thing which constantly surprises me is how much I am enjoying living in America, a country I never thought I'd ever live in, but so grateful for this opportunity, maybe it's the MidWest in general, maybe because it reminds me of home, maybe it's just a good fit but we are loving it and that helps.
We are all enjoying our time here. Ruby loves school and has made some lovely friends, Tilly is enjoying pre-school and all her little friends. Mr C is enjoying his work, he's been jetsetting around the country, I'm enjoying being a stay at home mum, making friends, crafting, baking and exploring our new city and life.
We have Halloween to look forward to this month and next month Thanksgiving - both are big, huge events here - Ruby's school is even doing a Halloween parade and I can't wait for it, we've already got the costumes picked, bat wings for Ruby which I will make and a Unicorn outfit for Tilly. We've already seen some ace gardens all decorated for Halloween, which I will share soon.
It's not a bad life really.