Do you have kids? Finding childcare and schools in Bloomington

Once I was admitted to IU, there seemed to be an endless list of tasks that needed attending to before my family and I made the physical transition to Bloomington, such as arranging housing, setting up utilities, finding the grocery store and opening a bank account. For me, one of the foremost tasks on my list was arranging for childcare and school for my daughter and son, respectively.

When we moved here, my daughter was only 2 years old. As I quickly learned, finding childcare in Bloomington for an infant or toddler can be a challenge. This is not unlike many cities were infant care is in short supply, but if you have a young child, you should be warned that you will probably end up on several very long lists with other parents who are also looking for care for their young children.  As a result, I ended up looking for alternative sources of care for my daughter. As a grad student I could not afford an in-home nanny, but I was able to find an in-home group care setting for her. To do this, I used the following website to help me with my initial search for reputable, licensed daycare providers: This website allows you to search by zip code and also find out what violations of state regulations, if any, a licensed provider has had in the recent past.

When my daughter turned 3 (and was potty trained), we enrolled her in the local school district’s preschool program called Ready, Set, Grow. She really thrived there. The teachers were terrific, many of which were certified in early childhood education. The program has a curricula that includes academic and social skills development. My daughter not only learned the alphabet, but also built relationships with other children with whom she attends school today.

When we moved here, I also had to enroll my son in elementary school. The local school district, Monroe County Community School Corporation (or MCCSC for short), provides lots of information on their website, including how to register your child in a school: You will need to determine which school covers the neighborhood in which you live using the District Boundary Map and then go to that particular school to enroll your child. Although it depends on who you ask, the public schools in the area are good quality, and I have found the teachers and administrators to be very caring  and interested in the welfare of students.

In sum, if you have children, get started early arranging for their day care. Although Bloomington has many wonderful options, it takes a while to find the right place for them.


As you begin your graduate program, and as you fully grasp your reality of being in Bloomington for a while–expect a minimum of five years–you will have to determine what it means for you to make a home in this small—but lively—Midwestern town. For some this means buying a home, for others it means planting a garden, but for some it means adopting a companion animal. Considering bringing a dog or cat into your family is a complicated issue; graduate school for most comes with financial strain, and getting a graduate degree almost guarantees a few years of instability after graduation. On the other hand, an animal’s companionship can help to offset the isolation of advanced studies. What to do?

I should note that I have consulted a cat-loving friend of mine to help think through the pros and cons of adopting a pet as a graduate student. We came up with a few tips that, as always, are based on a limited set of perspectives. Feel free to add your own pearls of wisdom in the comments section! More than anything, it is important to remember that adopting impulsively puts your own and your pet’s quality of life at risk. Here are some things you may think about.

  1. Consider finances. Would a pet fit into your budget for this year, next year, and the next five (or longer)?
  2. Consider travel and pet care. Are you planning on spending a year or two overseas for research? If you anticipate attending conferences, do you know two or three people who could provide quality pet care within your means? I knew from the beginning of graduate school that pets were out of the question due to my doctoral research.
  3. Consider time. Do you have the space in your schedule to give a companion animal attention? Remember that they will not only need food, but also play time!
  4. Finally, weigh the benefits with the losses (financial and other). My friend-turned-consultant feels that although her cats have added to her financial strain, they offset the isolation of a research and writing lifestyle. For her, then, the benefits far outweighed the costs (or at least that’s the story she’s sticking to)…

Pets can provide much needed companionship to many young scholars, but we encourage you to think carefully about what you have to give to an animal. And remember: even if you can’t adopt, you can always volunteer at a local shelter!

(here’s a fun picture of one of her (two) cats…)

Holiday Family Fun

Happy holidays to everyone! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I have been back in the wonderful state of Texas for a couple of weeks now, and I am feeling energized and refreshed. I just wanted to share our new family photos with you, my faithful blog readers. Thank you for your support!


PS – You know I couldn’t leave you with out the FREE TIP OF THE DAY. Today’s tip is appreciate your family, because at the end of the day. They are all you got. Also check out the making of our family photos by clicking here.

Atypical Weekend

This past weekend was a combination of amazing experiences that I needed. My parents drove 10 hours to spend half the week with me. As an only child, I often miss my family back home. Yet, to see how proud they are of me in pursuing my doctorate to drive so far, really confirmed to me that I have a great support system. While here, my mother cooked lunch for my coworkers and then hosted a huge, soul-food dinner for me and roughly 20 of my friends. This was by far the most amazing meal I have had in 2011! My friends also enjoyed the time that we shared together playing Taboo and Apples to Apples for hours. Throughout this semester, I have had difficulty successfully balancing my academic and personal life. This weekend was a great transition away from that imbalance and hopefully the rest of the semester will be equally enjoyable.

However, a personal triumph this weekend was my acting debut! The IU School of Education, the Office Multicultural Initiatives, the Department of Theatre and Drama, and the Arts in Education Club presented the play: “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.” Twilight, Los Angeles, 1992 is a groundbreaking piece of “documentary theatre” that explores the consequences of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, sparked in part by the acquittal of police officers charged with the beating of Rodney King. With its immensely diverse cast of characters, drawn from interviews with real people who experienced the riots, the play presents a balanced, 360 degree look at racial tension in The United States. The New York Times called it “an expression of the eternal search for order in an anarchic world” when the play made its debut, and following nearly unanimous critical praise, the play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

My character was Gina Rae a Los Angeles community Activist. I thoroughly enjoyed practicing for this play and interacting with different people on campus from undergraduate students to staff members throughout this semester. The best part was to have my parents in town to witness the excitement.

Spring Break: Conferencing and more–Part 2

My family drove up from Bloomington, Indiana to visit me at my conference center in Cincinnati, Ohio and to spend some quality time together.

Today we visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have visited several museums in the past, but this one really impacted me. The scope of coverage; the quality of the exhibits; and the use of technology, are some of the features of this museum that made the overall experience great!

Although we spent almost three hours in this museum, we are certain that we will return!

Useful Link:

Amor y Pasión

I used to be a Valentines Day fanatic, giving in to the pressures of consumerism and purchasing high cost candy, teddy bears, and flowers for the loved ones. I’ve sort of grown out of this, but still, during the month of February I can’t help but to spend moments thinking about all the things that I love. A lot of them are typical things, like my family, my partner, and my puppy (thats her in the picture), but I am also a little bit of a nerd and I love to play trumpet (see my next blog), and I have LOTS of love for the work that I do, particularly sitting down in front of excel sheets and playing with numbers, managing the small group of undergraduate students that help me conduct my research, presenting (mostly null) results in front of fellow graduate students and faculty, and sitting around and thinking critically about scientific problems. I also love that I love what I do.. because I have done work that I don’t particularly like and I know how it feels to get up in the morning and have to drag myself to my job. So, really, (I can’t believe I am saying this) I actually love being a gra… wait.. maybe I shouldn’t say it. Or maybe I will.. ok, here it goes…I actually love being a graduate student (disclaimer: the degree of truth to the last statement will vary depending on the time of the semester, and how many deadlines I have to meet).

Events in Bloomington: I.U. Auditorium

The Bloomington, Indiana community gets so many opportunities to experience the world’s best, brightest, most creative minds. From high quality operas performed by the I.U. Opera Theater, to various musical events sponsored by the Jacobs School of Music, to the countless local artistes, who perform regularly perform at community events, Bloomingtonians are innundated by a plethora of activities from which to choose.

On February 2, 2011, my family and I had the privilege of attending a Blue man Group concert, which was held at the I.U. Auditorium. At first, I was not too thrilled about leaving my home, since we had recently experienced ice storms; however, once I saw I.U. auditorium’s brightly lit billboard, with the announcement and images of the Blue Man Group I quickly got over those blues!

The concert was awesome. The Blue Man Group performed a series of musical, artistic, and dramatic pieces and kept the audience engaged from beginning to end. After the concert my sons had the opportunity to pose for pictures with the three members of the Blue Man Group. Pretty awesome!

(Photo above taken from I.U. Auditorium’s website)

Helpful links:
I.U. Auditorium:
Jacobs School of Music:

Winter Break at "sunny" Puerto Rico

This past semester was quite intense and tiresome, so I was really looking forward to getting some time-off to go home for a much needed vacation. I am from Puerto Rico, so going home during the Winter break enables me to escape Bloomington’s cold weather and jump into Caribbean’s sunny and hot winter weather! (or so I thought). My plan was to visit my family and friends, as well as the beaches in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the entire time I was home, the sun never showed up! Additionally, I spent most of the time working, even though, I did manage to spend some time with my family and friends, sleep 10 hours a day, and eat all those delicious home-cooked meals that I have missed so much.

Anyway, the highlight of my stay at home was being able to celebrate my birthday with my loved ones. Overall, my winter break, although short, was great and a wonderful way to recharge for 2011!!

Reminiscing about winter break

Sitting here trying to do some work (a few readings that I have to have done by tomorrow), my mind wandered off a little bit to think about my winter break, and how relaxing and good it felt to be in a warm place, with friends and family, and celebrating some very fun holidays. One of the life changing events that happened to me over winter break was the new addition to our family, a beautiful baby that has made me a proud aunt for the very first time, and marks the beginning of a new generation. The cake in the picture was given to the proud mother a couple of days after giving birth. She definitely needed all the pampering she could get, especially after all that work!

I also did very little work, and spent most of my time eating a lot, hanging out with the family, and helping care for the little one. Of course, I am now paying for the fact that I did so little work, but all in all, I don’t regret it, because it was one of the best winter breaks that I have had 🙂
Now.. about those readings…

The Project School in Bloomington

The Project School in Bloomington

I am writing about this school because I have children enrolled there; and their experiences with the school are remarkably different from those of other minority children attending some schools in town. I have met many graduate students of color who are not satisfied with the learning experiences of their children in their current schools. I can relate to their complaints because I had to deal with similar issues in a school where my children first enrolled when we relocated to Bloomington three years ago.

The school is K-8 and will be K-9 next year. It is a charter school; located downtown. Pedagogy in the school is predicated on experiential learning and project-based inquiry. Children become very independent and proficient in their reading and writing skills at a very early age.

The teachers are very respectful of all kids irrespective of their racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. No child is ever turned away because his/her parents cannot contribute for an activity or field trip. The following languages are taught there during after school programs: German, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, and Mongolian.

If you are a parent who is concerned about inclusive principles in your child’s current school, then you should consider this alternative. The demand for the school is very high and as result, admissions are only through lottery.