I can hardly believe a whole year has gone by since we said goodbye to Los Angeles and moved to Columbus. It went by so fast, even with what felt like the longest winter in the history of winters. I have had quite a few readers tell me they were thinking of making a similar move and wondered how it went for us, whether we’re glad we did it, and what the best and hardest parts were in our transition. So I thought I would share a little update on the one year mark since we moved and look back at our first year in Ohio.
Those first few months were exciting, new, and there was a lot of novelty that kept us going through the harder transitions. The boys loved how green everything was, how we had birds and squirrels and bunnies in our yard and could watch them through the window. They were obsessed with all of the new bugs and critters Ohio has to offer 🙂 And fall was magical. Starting a new school was hard for my sensitive and anxiety-prone son and we’re still working through that. If you asked him if he has made any new friends here he would say no. But I think he is really afraid of rejection and gets the sense that he is different (in that he moved here from California and also because he is more of an emotional, artistic type and not a sporty, game playing type of boy). Things are defined much more along gender lines here (or maybe it is also the age that coincided with our move here). I understand how hard it can be to make new friends — I’m doing it right along side him. We all are. I’ve met a couple of sweet moms through school events and have found a neighborhood group to do occasional girls’ nights with. And I’m lucky to have my college best friend and her husband and kids who we love on the other side of town. We’ve made progress — we don’t feel as “fish out of water” as we did in the beginning. But have we found our village here yet? Not quite, but we’re working on it.
Well, winter is the obvious one right? And it was hard. Really REALLY hard. At first it was exciting, especially for the kids. And watching them light up at seeing snow was magical. But by mid-January we were kind of over it, and we had two more months of snow. Our health also went through a transition period being exposed to new germs in a new climate. We were all sick for weeks and weeks — I think we passed around a stomach bug several times over and had respiratory stuff the entire winter. We needed a break from germs so we stopped taking the kids to the child watch at our YMCA, stopped going to our local indoor playground, and basically became shut-ins. Between all of the viruses, cabin fever, and seasonal affective disorder we started to seriously doubt our decision to move. It was definitely a hard period. On top of it my husband went back to LA for work from late January to mid-March, so I was on my own with three small children in the dead of winter while my husband was somewhere warm.
My oldest son has also struggled. While he was happy and excited about the move and loved our new home, he closed himself off from the new kids and didn’t make friends easily. He’s a worrier and he’s super smart and his little brain basically told him kids can’t reject him if he chooses not to make friends with them. He would play alone at recess and didn’t want to do playdates. We also had a hard time with the new school curriculum. Ohio schools do state standardized testing starting in kindergarten and the school where we were in LA was more progressive and didn’t start testing until third grade (which is the national standard). The pressure on Charlie’s teacher to prepare the kids for testing and to test 25 students while also trying to teach 25 students (with no full time assistant to help her) was hard. Charlie was a little behind, especially in reading, and there was so much more homework than we were used to. Combine that with the new social setting and a sensitive/emotional kiddo and you’ve got a tricky situation to navigate. He cried everyday on the walk to school for months and still gets anxious before going to school or camp or birthday parties. He has asked me to homeschool him. But I will not enable him to retreat from his anxiety and live his life avoiding hard things. Also, I’m so not a homeschool mom. I just know my limits and that is definitely not in my wheelhouse. We did find another boy in his class who is more artistic than athletic and into dinosaurs and Minecraft and drawing like Charlie is. And his mom and I have become friends. We just need to keep working on Charlie’s confidence and worries.
The job search was (and still is) stressful. My husband is working on his second novel for Audible (you can find his first here and if you like crime fiction I highly recommend it from a totally non-biased perspective 😉 ), but that and my blog work isn’t enough to keep us afloat and he is looking for work outside of his writing as well. We turned down his returning to LA for his old job (he worked on a seasonal show that films in the summer and is on hiatus 7 months of the year) because he would have had to be gone from June through October and we decided it was just too long for our family to do again. But that was our main source of income and would have gone a long way here in Ohio. And there isn’t much work here in Columbus that fits his entertainment industry experience (maybe Atlanta would have been a better choice than Columbus for job purposes…) He took a sales job but we can tell it isn’t sustainable and we’re giving it a chance through the fall as he finishes his novel and then we will reevaluate. I wasn’t prepared to return to work outside of the home quite yet, and I don’t have a license to practice law here in Ohio nor do I have the brain capacity to take a bar exam at this stage in my life. So we’re just keeping the faith that he’ll find a job that fits with his background and experience or that my blog will continue to grow and the income it generates will too. I would like to use my legal knowledge in some capacity that isn’t practicing law (teaching, consulting, finally launching Blogger Law — my dream of the last four years that combines my legal experience with my blogging experience and advises my fellow bloggers and creatives on the legal and ethical aspects of blogging and influencer micro marketing. It’s hard to chase dreams and be an adult at the same time, but I firmly believe that quality of life makes it worth it in the long run.
Oh man, there were so many. Some of our favorite highlights from this year: real seasons, more time with grandparents, getting real time with my best friend for the first time in five years, buying a home, having a backyard, taking steps to get out of debt that comes with being a regular person who lives in Los Angeles, being able to be at my nephew’s birthday party for the first time, getting a trampoline, adopting kitties, suburban conveniences, catching lightning bugs, planting our first garden, styling and decorating a home that was finally MINE, walking to school, no traffic, teaching Charlie to ride a bike, exploring an awesome new city, and living a simpler life. And those are just a few off the top of my head. As hard as our first year has been, the highlights have outnumbered the challenges tenfold. Only in the dead of winter in the middle of a really sick season did we ask ourselves “did we make a mistake?” But we know it was the right choice for us. And we know like all things worthwhile, it takes time for things to feel like home and to make friends and to feel settled.
Oh, and more dates with my husband was a big highlight! Now that we are in a less expensive city and things are simpler we have found it easier to prioritize our marriage, to book a sitter and go on dates, and to explore a new city together. I mean, when your sitter is $12/hr for all three of your kids instead of $15/hr for only one it is easier to prioritize those dates. Plus, sometimes we get free babysitting when my mom comes to visit since she is only two hours away. And when Calvin had a health scare and had to spend a few days in the hospital, having her that close made a scary situation far less stressful.
Don’t think for a second that we don’t miss LA and that it won’t always be a second home to us in our hearts, but this move has been life-giving. It has also been exhausting and draining and challenging and scary and sad and overwhelming. But we know that the payoff as time goes on will only grow bigger and bigger. It was right for us. So if you are thinking of a similar move and aren’t sure if it is the right choice or if you are having a hard time taking the leap, let me leave you with this: if you are thinking about it and it scares you, there’s a reason. Take the leap! You can always move back if it doesn’t work out 😉
I’ll be doing a Q&A session on my IG stories and saving them in my highlights. So head over there and DM me some questions about moving or whatever else you are wondering about! Anyone need moving tips or have questions about relocating cross country or Columbus specific questions I can answer? Or maybe a nugget of wisdom to share? I’d love to hear and I’m sure other readers would too.
PS- You can find our 6 month update here, our home tour so far here and on IG under #casafredrick, and you can shop many of the things we have in our home or plan to add eventually here and here. And if you are interested in future updates on Blogger Law sign up for my newsletter! And if you are a lawyer or former lawyer with good work-from-home or part-time ideas for using my law degree, I’m all ears 🙂