The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Walkability and extracurricular activities

Well, I have been living in Normal for three weeks and working at my new job for two weeks. First, I have to say that I never realized how big an impact commuting had on my life in California. Our house was only 25 minutes from UCR, but carpooling together, it took an extra hour in the morning to drop the kids off at their schools and an extra hour every evening to pick everyone up. There was always a big rush to get dinner on the table and the kids to bed on time every day. In Normal, I live a half mile from ISU, Sam only has to walk to the corner to catch the schoolbus, Joseph's school is less than a mile from the house, and Danny works at home. My friend Don clued me in Google's walkability index at Google estimates how easy it is to walk to basic goods and services. Our new house in Normal has a score of 80/100. Our cute little house in Riverside scored a 22/100, which explains why errands and pretty much everything was such a pain on a daily basis. Evenings in Normal are much more relaxed. I have a full hour to cook dinner, rather than 20 minutes. I have started doing random time-consuming cooking like making pizza dough from scratch and roasting peppers. Hopefully, when my research projects get up to speed, I will stop attempting to be Martha Stewart. Before grad school and kids, I used to spend a lot of time and effort decorating my house in a unique and tasteful way, but that ship has sailed. Currently, I aim to just have an efficient and clean home.

One of my roasted peppers; satin bowerbird--the Martha Stewart of the bird world

However, with my recent surplus of time, I am starting to have more sympathy for the "competitive mommy squad." (In every school that my kids have been enrolled, there are always some moms who will make you feel like a selfish loser because you aren't devoting 3-4 hours per day to extracurricular activities: sports, scheduled playdates, music, foreign languages, etc.) I guess that if I were permanently as underoccupied as I am now, I would probably try to keep myself busy and engaged in meaningful activity like "enriching" my kids with extracurriculars. Sam and Joseph enjoy reading, drawing and building things. They like to play at home and at the park with each other and with the neighborhood kids. It is unclear to me that they would benefit from being dragged from one scheduled activity to another. I think that it is probably a good thing for all concerned that I devote my excess energy to work, rather than the educational development of the kids.

I love this picture of a fakey mom and her nervously compliant kid; a rare picture of Sam with his real smile; family picture in Bloomington storefront window


JPGoldberg said...

Thanks for that pointer to

We've moved from a walk score of 18 in Riverside to 48 in Plano. Timea's school is just 0.6 miles from the house. For the past two years we've walked, but now we bicycle (especially since dogs are no longer allowed on school grounds.)

Anonymous said...

I envy the normality of your new life. I have begun to commute from LBC to Pasadena daily. It just about kills me. You look and sound happy. That makes me happy.

Jessica Malisch said...

So our walkscore was a 68, I thought it would be higher. Anyhow I found it very funny that under "book store" it listed Le Sexx Shoppe!! ha ha ha. We had a yard sale today and thought of you! We invited Kim but she didn't come, or call us back, what a B____! Just kidding kimmie:)

Beth said...

They claim my walking score in Riverside was a 51, apparently they don't know what it feels like to walk 2 miles in 110 degree heat to see a movie at the UV. Our score here is a 78 but that cannot be right. I can walk everywhere.

I love your parenting style. Matt and I have said that if we ever have kids we want to do it like you guys do.

Love that family picture!

Beth said...

I just checked my old address in Milwaukee - it was a 95! I miss the midwest.

Anonymous said...

My walk score is 35. That’s not so bad I should say. This service can be rather useful especially for those who are going to buy a house or just want to estimate their present location. So as it turned out my neighborhood is quite walk able. I have also tried one more service at It is called Drive Score. With the help of it you can see how close establishments are by car. My result is 50. Drive Score calculates your score based on the number of places within a convenient driving distance. The greater the number of businesses nearby the higher the drive score.

Susan said...

Thanks for the tip about Drive Score mystery commentator!