I had a wonderful holiday with my family in Illinois!
We were already on our way to a White Christmas, but the snow started falling in huge clumps on Christmas Eve morning and didn’t stop. I had gone out for breakfast with two of my best friends from home, and, in the couple of hours we were in the coffee shop, my car was covered in thick snow. The snow was beautiful, but, unfortunately, it prevented my uncle, aunt, and cousins from joining us on Christmas Eve.
Although we were disappointed, we enjoyed our Christmas Eve. My mom had made a really nice dinner of chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with dried cherries, her famous buttermilk rolls … and a homemade apple pie for dessert! We took a walk through the freshly fallen, glittery snow, and then we played board games all night, starting with Wits & Wagers and moving on to Fireball Island (which was much more complicated than any of us remembered!) before finally playing (my personal favorite) Clue: The Great Museum Caper.
Christmas Day was nice as well. My family did a great job picking out presents for me, and I think they liked the presents that I gave them (at least, I hope they did!). We had another nice dinner (steak this time), and spent some time as a family.
the Christmas dog
I headed up to Chicago on Monday afternoon in order to catch my Tuesday morning flight, and Ashley and Tyler graciously hosted me again. I’m glad that I was able to make it home in the blizzard, but I miss my family already!
It was a beautiful day in central Illinois yesterday, so my mom and I got in the car and headed to Wildlife Prairie State Park. The park was conceived in the 1960s as a location for the Brookfield Zoo to raise exotic endangered animals. This idea was abandoned in the planning stages, but the general concept stuck, and the land owners re-imagined the space as an Illinois-centric animal park. It opened in 1978 and was privately-owned until 2000, when it became a state park.
I don’t think I had been to the park since I was a small child, and we had such a good time!
That cougar may have looked calm and laid-back, but he (she?) and his friend were the most active animals we saw. When we approached the enclosure, one of them spotted us and walked deliberately across their area towards us. They then proceeded to pace, while growling, under the bridge we were standing on. When we checked back on them later, they sat there and stared at us.
Other animals seen not pictured include wolves, foxes, badgers, eagles, hawks, bison, bears, and other farm animals (goats, horses, donkeys, chickens). I don’t have my pictures on Flickr yet, but Wildlife Prairie State Park has its own Flickr pool.
I am now back in New York after spending a lovely week in my home (and favorite) state of Illinois! I spent the weekend in Chicago, where some of my law school friends gathered from near and far (Chicago, New York, Colorado, Virginia) for our annual bash. A core group of us started the weekend off with a traditional and raucous dinner at pingpong on Friday night.
Four of us crashed with our gracious friend Laurie, and it was the most amazing slumber party all weekend long. We gathered a few more old friends for the main event on Saturday night. It was quite the affair: there were matching t-shirts, a seating chart, and a number of items of whimsy.
A number of us stayed all day on Sunday, too, so we closed out the weekend with a bottomless mimosa brunch at Deleece, $1 drinks at Cocktail, and a dance party at Hector’s.
I hopped on the Amtrak early Monday morning to visit my folks downstate. It was, as always, lovely to be home. It’s nice to visit with parents, sleep in my old bed (even though my old bed is now located in my brother’s old room), and torment my dog.
Abby is not amused.
While I was at home, I learned the very exciting news that I passed the New York bar! Hooray! My parents and I celebrated with champagne and dinner at my favorite restaurant at home.
I had another small triumph while at home: I learned that I can still drive a car! I drove up to Moline one day (to visit the zoo, which we learned was closed when we got there) and to Monticello another day.
The trip to Monticello was to visit one of my all-time favorite places, Allerton Park. The park, which is owned by the University of Illinois, is a vast expanse of land that includes trails, prairie, floodplains, and forests, but my favorite part has always been the formal gardens. As a child, the statues in the gardens always inspired my imagination. My favorites are the twenty-two shiny blue fu dogs standing at attention.
click through to see more pictures of the park!
Friends, family, and fun … it was a great week at home.
My brother called this story from our hometown newspaper to my attention. In short, the story reports that students who elected to buy their tickets to the Homecoming dance at the door were issued detention for their failure to plan ahead and buy them ahead of time. Seriously. They were given detention for deciding to attend a school-sponsored event. Not cool enough to get a date until just before the dance? No problem … if you don’t mind detention. One would think that the administration should be drumming up ways to encourage students to engage with the school instead of handing out punishment for punishment’s sake.
This story was just too ridiculous not to share.