We've now been living in Minnesota for just over a year. A full cycle through the seasons, and we've each turned a year older here now. Life in Minnesota just fits us. Sure, the settling in phase was rocky at times and it's been a learning experience to be a full time stay-at-home-mom. There was a particularly dark time around the holidays last year...we were on our own for Thanksgiving and Christmas and it felt pretty darn lonely at that time. Couple that with an unexpectedly early winter that we'd been in serious denial about and it wasn't really the best holiday season ever.
BUT. That period aside, we've been happier here than we could ever have imagined. The lifestyle suits us, the people are so friendly and having only one parent working outside the home is absolutely what works for us. Staying home has been more fulfilling than I expected. I definitely have days where I struggle with feeling as though I'm accomplishing anything, and I have to be pretty self-motivated and keep myself on task but I haven't missed working even a single day. I think back to the stress of managing it all, and for me the occasional day of boredom or being thoroughly annoyed by both my small people is so worth it in the big picture. I never, ever pictured myself staying home with the kids and in fact, was completely terrified to make the adjustment. I really resisted the idea for a long time but I think it was really important that I came to it myself, rather than feeling forced into it even the smallest bit. I know people (moms) love to debate what's harder, staying home with kids or working outside the home. Having experienced both I can weigh in - I absolutely found it harder to be a working mom.
Things I miss in California
1. My sister and her family
2. A few close friends (most had also moved away before we did)
3. My cousins and their kids
4. In N Out
5. The month of February
6. The kid-friendly wine bar we could walk to
7. Fresh & Easy
Things I don't miss about California
1. My job
2. The hot, usually smoky month of August
3. The traffic
4. The house prices
5. The house we'd outgrown
6. The public school situation in the Pasadena area
One of the worst things about our move has actually led to one of the best things. My sister and her husband FINALLY got on board with having kids just as we started considering leaving California. I came out to Minnesota one time to look at houses with Chris before we moved, and she went into labor with my nephew as I was on the plane. It was crushingly disappointing, although it turned out to be a pretty long, drawn-out process so they needed a few days to recoup before visitors anyway. We moved when Dylan was about six weeks old. Since I quit my job a few weeks before we left I did get to spend a pretty good amount of time with him as a newbie. Since then, however, he's become an energetic and robust toddler and I've missed most of it. I grew up with my cousins and I HATE that our kids won't have the same privilege.
However, moving across the country from my sister has actually allowed us to develop a much closer relationship than I think we've ever had. When she went back to work she was pumping and so had several periods of dead time a day that she usually used to call me. I could commiserate 100% with the stresses of going back to work after baby (although I'd quit breastfeeding by that time with both my kids). I was actually really bummed when it was time to wean Dylan because we didn't get that built-in chat time every day. Even still, though, it's rare that a day goes by where we don't chat or text or email. When we lived 5 miles from each other we often went a week without talking. I definitely wish we were raising our kids together (ditto for my other nephew, but there's no way moving back to Alaska is in the cards...sorry Koda :) but I feel like I've gained something pretty great in exchange.
Abridged version of the above: moving was the best decision we ever made.