A Place to Remember

IMG_9486 2When my daughter asked me if I could take the kids somewhere “educational” this week, I thought of a few places, but centered in on the Illinois Holocaust Museum, I had been there once before, but I knew the kids hadn’t been.

The museum is located in Skokie, a Chicago suburb, where at one time, the population was half Jewish. (That figure is from the 90s, not sure what it is today.) Precisely because of that demographic, the development of the museum had a lot of support from townspeople who had been through the holocaust or had family who had been through it.

The new museum (it use to be located in a storefront) opened in 2009.

You can take pictures in many areas inside, but I didn’t. So much to read and look at and we shared the space with a limitless amount of middle and high school kids on field trips. (Might not have been the best time of year to go.)

Although all the museum is interesting, the highlight of the trip was the Take a Stand exhibit – considered to be one of the top twelve museum exhibits in the world.

To design the exhibit, the museum took several Holocaust survivors out to L.A., where they sat in a green room and were asked questions for five or six hours a day over a period of a several days. Their answers were videoed. The producers then edited the video down to 28 answers to the most common questions and the entire project was made into a hologram.

So, as you sit in the auditorium, a man or women sits up front and tells his or her story. IMG_9491Then the audience can ask questions. Because of the hologram effect, it seems as if you are talking to a real person, but in actuality it’s a picture. In fact, the man we listened to died two weeks ago. As time goes on and the number of survivors decreases, I’m sure exhibits like this will become even more valuable.

I would highly recommend a visit.

Here are some tips.

*Knowing about the Holocaust before you visit is a good thing. That helped me grasp the meaning of some of the exhibits. Although, even if you know nothing, the museum clearly gives a timeline of the events. Both munchkins had studied the Holocaust and had a good understanding of what they were seeing.

*Give yourself a lot of time. We missed quite a bit of it because of time constraint.                           The Take a Stand exhibit is an hour itself. In other words, don’t expect to run in and out in a half hour.

*Consider the ages of your kids. I asked the munchkins how old they thought someone should be before visiting and they agreed with me – middle school and up. If you do take a  younger child, a lot will need to be explained. Pictures are also disturbing (for older teens and adults, too, but we are more understanding of the reality of what happened). And I did not see one child among the hundreds of people who were visiting on the day we were there.

IMG_9485*Beware that this time of year is when field trips happen. The place was packed with teens to the extent that we were often stuck behind them and had to wait to get to the next room.

*Know you will need to go through security to get in.

Would I recommend it? Yes! And I would recommend you bring your teens there, too. As we get further and further away from World War II, less people will be around to tell their stories and memories blur.

Yet, we must NOT forget.


Leaning Tower of Niles

IMG_9495.jpgEven though I grew up in the area, I had not heard of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, located in Niles, Illinois, until last week when I was looking for something to do near the museum we visited. Not sure how I  missed it growing up, or maybe I did see it as a kid, I just don’t remember it.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa in Niles is half the size of the real one in Italy. Robert Ilg built the structure back in 1934 as part of a park for his hot air electric ventilating company.

Since then the tower has gone through several renovations and a couple years ago, the city of Niles bought it from the YMCA for $10.00 and renovated it once again.

Not much to do, but walk around – still if you’re going that way, it’s worth a stop.

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A Fun Lunch at a New Place

I got the text close to midnight. “Can you take Carter and me somewhere for lunch tomorrow? Everyone else has something to do.”

So I decided that if this was happening, we would go somewhere different, not just run up the road for the same old, same old.

Carter likes Texas Roadhouse, but they don’t open for lunch. So I’m thinking steak for Carter. Mallory likes lemonade. (I don’t think she’s ever had an entire glass of soda – just doesn’t like it. Never did.)

And after some hunting I found a place – no steak, but lots of barbecue and their speciality was hand-squeezed lemonade. Perfect.

And none of us  had been there before.

None of us had heard of it before.

Carter was a little hesitant. He had had barbecue once and didn’t really like it, but Mallory was ready for an adventure so the ladies won.

As we walked up to the door, the smell of barbecue wafted in the air – reminding me of long ago camping trips. As Mallory said, “Good marketing.”


The place reminded me of barbecue restaurants out west. Where you order at a counter and then find a seat. One thing different from some bbq places is you order the meat by ounce – though they do have pulled pork/chicken sandwiches, too. Sides are extra.

We got our food and found a place to sit. Here’s Mallory loving her lemonade. She said it was the best lemonade she had ever had.  Even Carter who doesn’t like lemonade, thought it was good.IMG_9266

As was the pulled pork, the french fries, the mac and cheese, the broccoli salad AND my pulled pork sandwich. The meat was beyond tender. Carter had been concerned about the sauce – but you add that yourself, so it wasn’t a problem. Not only did he like the meat, he finished my sandwich. We were all much impressed.

You also get a complementary ice cream cone.


Here they are figuring out the machine.




Here I am in front of the Pig Up and Go Sign.IMG_9270

I highly recommend this place – some say it is the best or at least second best bbq place around. But I’ll warn you – it is expensive so be prepared. But the food is delicious and  the staff very patiently answered our questions and were quite friendly.

I’m sure the place gets busy Friday nights or over the weekend – and even though it was just semi-busy when we were there, a parking place was difficult to find. The restaurant is in a strip mall, next to many other restaurants and was extremely crowded.

And totally not sure where the dinosaur came from. He just sort of wobbled down the street, not advertising anything, so we weren’t sure what this was all about, but hey, it added to the fun.