moving to Bloomington-Normal, need LOTS of advice! (Chicago, Peoria: apartment, for rent)
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moving to Bloomington-Normal, need LOTS of advice!
We are a family of 4 (mom, dad, dd9, ds4) and we need tons of advice from you who know!
Housing: we'd like to rent a house. DH will be working at State Farm, and we dislike a long commute. Any areas to stay away from - I mean really dangerous places, places you don't even want to walk around much during the day? Any areas that stand out in terms of parks, trails, walkability (we are a 1-car family)? And is our target rent range of $700-1000 reasonable for a 3 bedroom house? We would really like to keep gardening, which will be impossible in an apartment.
Crunchability: are there natural food stores, herb stores, organic stuff, farmers markets, etc? A Trader Joes? Food coops?
Homeschooling: we homeschool in two languages. Are there homeschool coops in the area? Is the HS community large?
Church: Good recommendations for a family that is Wesleyan, and not stodgy? We like lively worship, sound theology, good teaching, and decent children's programs? We are not pentecostal but not uncomfortable with charismatic services.
Doctors: recommendations for Doctors that will not accuse me of killing my children because they are not vaccinated. We have our reasons, I don't need a doctor to agree with me, I just need one that will respect my right to make the choice to not vaccinate and not treat me like an imbecile.
Let me see if I can answer some of your questions. I am far more familiar with Peoria. My goal is to give you an overall view of what is available.
1. There is a Wesley United Church on Front Street in Bloominton. There is also a Wesleyan College in Bloomington. There is a hundred or more churches between Bloomington-Normal and Peoria of every type and kind.
2. Coop? Chicago has the most homeschool groups, projects, etc.. However I did find groups in Decatur, Peoria and Springfield. B-N is approximately 65 miles NE of Springfield and 35 miles SE of Peoria. I am not sure what the distance is between B-N and Decatur. Peoria Area Homeschoolers is on this list along with Decatur and Springfield groups. Illinois - Homeschooling Support Groups & Co-ops | Homeschool | Home EDucators Resource Directory | HERD
3. Trader Joe's? No. B-N is midway between Chicago and St. Louis. The Brentwood TJ's in St. Louis, in my opinion, is the easiest location to get in/out with the least traffic on Sunday morning. It is open at 9am. Brentwood is the largest store.
4. Natural Foods? Yes. Naturally Yours in Peoria and B-N; it is pricey compared to TJ's. You'll also find a fish market, a new Fresh Market store, and a permanent seasonal Farmers Market in the Metro Center in Peoria.
5. When my children were enrolled in Illinois schools a long time ago, vaccinations were required. I do not know what the rules are today.
6. ZOO: Bloomington, Decatur, Peoria, and Springfield each have a zoo. Peoria has the largest park system in Illinois. Free family movies on Saturday night at Glen Oak Park. There is also a Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria with overnight accommodations.
7. Medical care. Normal and Bloomington both have hospitals and doctors. The only hospital that treats nice children than Children's Hospital in Illinois at Peoria is in Chicago. It is level 1 tertiary care critical unit for children in Central Illinois. The other options are Children's at Chicago and St. Louis.
Since you mentioned hiking. Starved Rock State Park at Utica is excellent. The surprise though is Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort very nearby. It offers a year round indoor water park that is free and only for guests. Most units include a full kitchen with washer and dryer.
School; University High School is a 1000 student college prep high school owned but ISU at Normal. There is a 2-year waiting list or longer. Children living in Normal are chosen first. Then Bloomington, and lastly the balance of the state. If you want your child in this school you need to live in Normal and the child needs good grades. There are a 1000 different ways to enrich your child's education in central Illinois. Here are a couple of ideas: fish hatchery. Eagle Watch Day, Native America museum, the largest inland wetland's refuge in America. It's all within 50 miles of B-N
The tri-city area of Peoria. B-N and Springfield probably has a total of nearly 300 restaurant, 7 malls, two dozen or more shopping centers (also called strip malls), and 18 grocery stores. Peoria is the largest area. Of the three it is the only city without a Amtrak that goes to Chicago or St. Louis. Bloomington - Normal share a street and a border. There is a city bus that stops at ISU and State Farm too as well as the hospitals, malls, etc. Riders say it is pretty good. B-N is not a sprawling area, but rather a contained grid. You should be able to go from end to end in 30 minutes under normal conditions. Normal is smaller and a little less expensive. Both are conservative.
Housing: From what you've described, you'd want to be near Constitution Trail. I think it might be able to be done, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a 3bdr house here for rent for under $1000. You could do an apartment or townhome if you take part in the community garden program and rent a plot through the city. They are available first-come-first-serve and located near Hershey and Ireland Grove, so you'd probably want to start your property search near that area.
Crunchability: Naturally Yours has a pretty good selection. They also have a Farmer's Market in their parking lot during the summer, and there is a Downtown Bloomington Farmers Market Saturdays from April-November.
Homeschooling: Crossroads Area Homeschool Association is the biggest network for homeschoolers here. The Children's Museum in Normal also offers homeschool programs that would be great for your kids (right age).
Church: Can't help you here.
Doctors: We do vaccinate, but only what's required for school, not flu shots. We go to Dr. Boe with Bloomington Pediatrics and Allergy, and he has never made me feel judged for decisions I make as a mother. He is super mellow, and my kids love him. He'll say what the recommendation is, but leaves the major choices to you.
Hi Rebecca. I just came across your post because I recently moved to Bloomington, IL and am not having very good luck with finding a pediatrician.
Like you I have chosen not to vaccinate my 8 year old son and so far I have been rejected by Dr. Treynor's group and Dr. Farina's group. I have a call into Dr. Marshall's group which includes Dr. Boe to see if they will take us. Did you successfully find someone?
The school is saying that if I don't have a physical at least scheduled by Monday that they will not allow my son to remain in school. This am I found that I can take him to get the physical at Family Quick Care in Meyer's Grocery on Monday for the physical so that will be taken care of, but I will need a doctor going forward for other matters that arise.
IL law requires children to have certain vaccinations before they can attend public school primarily because it is a state with a fifth largest population in the nation. The rules have certainly changed in the last 50 years. If you do not fare well in Bloomington or Normal you may have to look elsewhere for medical care. Peoria has a much larger medical community, plus a holistic community.
The Children's Hospital of Illinois is located on the OSF campus in the Medical District. It is the only children's (pre-birth to age 18) critical care tertiary unit outside of Chicago. OSF has nearly 1000 physician affiliates. There are three hospitals in addition to Children's: Methodist, Proctor and OSF. There are four other hospitals with 25 miles of Peoria.
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