Originally Posted by heatherdeg
You're right. The thing is, once I decide what I really want, it looks like there's a million places to get it. And I can compromise--making it harder.
Ideally? Really active HMN chapter, 30 mins or less to Whole Foods, kick-ass library system (like a great collection, great kids stuff--maybe even activities like they have here, able to reserve online from within the system to pick up at local branch), SOMEthing cool for the kids REALLY close (like here we have a small nature museum for the kids on a "reservation" and they also run very low-cost but awesome classes for the kids and family events, etc.) and then access to the really great stuff that might be further away like the big museums, planetarium, etc. YMCA with well-rounded offerings ideal (I was stunned that Rockford's had so much more than Belvidere).
Homeschool activities (seriously--a weekly park/play gathering is enough for me) would be ideal.
Foreign language classes and music lessons would be nice, but not critical. We had an arts class here, too. But these are definitely things I would live without.
My husband has co-workers in Lakemoor, Tinley Park and Plainfield. Everyone, of course, is lobbying for their areas.
It's really frustrating.
I live in McHenry County which offers much of what you are speaking of, although unfortunately the North Suburban Library System is coming to an end, which will effect all the libraries in the system. You will still be able to reserve online and pick up at different locations but the delivery service between libraries will be ending unless some new funding comes through.
Where I live, Whole Foods is about 45 min away, but we have lots of buying clubs/co-ops/CSA's in the area that eliminate the need to go there. We do have a Trader Joe's about 15 min from my town (Crystal Lake).
The Mchenry County Conservation District www.MCCDistrict.org
offers close-by cheap/free nature programs and camps, and tons of trails and conservation areas. The Trail of History they put on in fall is really amazing. Most towns have a park district, and in CL the park district is well established with several awesome parks and a beach which hosts free concerts and movies in the summer. There is a YMCA here, which I know has a homeschool PE class, but I have not used it in years.
I think there is a HMN since I have heard of it, but I never joined and do not know if it's active. We have 2 HOUSE groups in the county, but I am more involved in the unschooling group. We are planning beach/park days for the summer, will be having a mom's book club and parent support meetings. There are lots of opportunities for homeschoolers, but we are more spread out here than you might be closer to the city.
Several of the towns out here are along the Metra line into the city, but we are a ways off the tollway. It's at least an hour to downtown....
I love it out here because we are still a Chicago suburb, yet we are bordering on farm country and there are still wide-open spaces. The interlibrary loan coming to an end is a huge bummer, but then again there are already people at work trying to change that.
Good luck on your search! You've had soooo much good info. in this thread!