I live in Vernon Hills, but I commute to Milwaukee, where I’m a professor at Mount Mary University, a small women’s college. My husband works in Chicago, so we tried to find a place that’s somewhat in the middle of the two cities, with easy highway access.
I’m on the road a lot, and although it can be exhausting sometimes, the commute also gives me a chance to decompress and think. I often have some of my most innovative ideas for teaching or writing while I’m driving … creativity is often born of boredom! I just wish the car could drive itself so I could grade papers while I drive.
What would your kids say about you?
I think my kids would say that I’m creative, motivated and hyper-organized, sometimes to a fault. I like to make lists and spreadsheets for everything. I find is so satisfying to cross something off a list!
They would also probably say that I work too hard. I have a full-time job as an English professor and do freelance writing and design on the side. But I like to stay busy – I don’t like to be bored! I have summers off, so that’s my time to relax and explore the area with my kids.
Like many moms, I don’t take enough time to take care of myself. One luxury I can’t give up is swimming. I’m a member of the Libertyville Masters swim team; the practices are at night, after the kids are (usually) in bed, so if I’m not too exhausted by then, I’ll slip out for practice. Swimming clears my mind and energizes my body. Sometimes, practice is the only “me time” I get all week!
I also love to read. I’ll read anything – fiction, nonfiction, newspapers, cereal boxes. If I’m sitting still, I have to be reading something.
There is so much to do in Lake County! One of our favorite places is Independence Grove. In the summer, we’ll take the kids there to picnic on the lawn, and then we’ll play at the park or build sand castles on the beach. They love looking for turtles off the pier or walking along the twisty trails.
We also love trying out new playgrounds. This past summer, my kids and I made a pact to visit every playground in Vernon Hills, which is where we live. That alone took up a good chunk of the summer. There are so many fantastic play spaces in Lake County.
What is some of the best mothering advice you’ve been given?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I have a 17-year-old son whose room, like the rooms of a majority of 17-year-old boys, is a complete mess. I’ve learned to close the door. It’s his space, and as long as he gives it a good cleaning every now and then, it’s not going to kill him (or me) if he leaves his jeans crumpled in a ball on the floor. He’s a great kid, gets good grades and hasn’t gotten in any serious trouble. You have to let some things slide. If you are someone who likes to be neat and orderly, this can be a difficult task. But you have to allow your kids to be in control of some aspect of their personal territory, whether it’s their room or the goofy outfits they pick out or the crazy way they want to style their hair.
What are your favorite things to do in Lake County?
Two of my favorite places are Ravinia and the Chicago Botanic Garden. You can’t beat the concerts on the lawn at Ravinia, and the Botanic Garden is breathtaking any time of the year. My younger kids love the butterfly garden in the summer, and during the holiday season we’ll spend hours at the Wonderland Express, an indoor garden where miniature trains wind through replicas of famous Chicago landmarks while fake snow drifts through the air.