A new home

A reflection of our normal day-to-day.  (This picture was taken by Francis and Louise at the end of our family shoot - meaning we got a little nutso.)
Family life in 2016.  It can be complex.  Does the dad work?  Does the mom work?  Do both have to work to make ends meet?  What about childcare?  The cost?  Do we live around loved ones who would be willing to watch our kids for a lower rate?  What about student loan debt?  Do we want to pay the minimum payments for 10 years or do we want to budget our butts off to pay them off in 5? How does that effect saving for and buying a house?  And then there's considering what the couple, kids, and the family as a whole need to be happy and to thrive.

These questions have been dictating our lifestyle since we've been married.  Every situation we've been in, we've re-evaluated how our current circumstances are working for us as a couple and as a family and the conversation usually begins with what can we do better or what can we change to reach our goals?  And as burdensome as these questions have often been, I love that Tim and I ask ourselves these questions, that we're goal-oriented, and that being comfortable with floating has never been an option for us.  We work hard to try and tackle life from the offensive line, not the defensive.

We recently had this familiar conversation once again when our lease was coming to an end.   And the conversation ended with moving to Michigan it is.  For a hundred different reasons, some private and others more obvious like life is pretty cheap there.  We love the Pacific Northwest, and I'm happy we had to opportunity to live here for a brief while.  To say Washington State is beautiful is to not do it justice; the purple mountain skyline provides a calmness to the land that I know I'll never find anywhere else.  And that makes me sad.  But we need more.  As a young and new family of 4, we need more.  We need friends, a community, and the ability to save for the future.

Maybe it would be different if it were just Tim and I.  We'd have our jobs, we'd have our date nights, and where we lived probably wouldn't matter much.  But when staying connected with your spouse involves finding and budgeting for a babysitter, the statement it takes a village begins to ring true. Maybe we'll live here again one day, when we've outgrown our just-getting-by-as-newlyweds phase and the kids are older, the student loans are lesser.  Or maybe we'll one day end up in South Dakota. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised as I've learned a lesson of true flexibility and the whole never say never thing in our first few years of marriage.

But for now, back to the 313 (or more accurately, 248) we go.  And I'm excited.  For those who know me, this isn't a surprise.  I have a burning, one-of-a-kind love for my home state of Michigan and I'm excited to share it with my family.  I'm excited to take my kids to the beloved cider mills, I'm excited to share my kids with my best friends who I consider my sisters, and I'm excited to be able to make date nights with my husband a part of our regular schedule.

I've never appreciated that place, those people more than I do now.  Being away for 7 years has been wonderful and challenging, and I'm happy I had the chance to once leave the nest.  It gave me perspective and exposed me to more than my comfortable bubble of what I knew. I'm happy Tim and I started our family where and when we did.  It wasn't the least bit easy but it drew us closer as a couple (#TeamLochner) and, not clouded by others opinions, we figured out who we are and who we want to be as a family.  These past years have yielded so much joy and even more growth but I was served a hard hand of just how lonely and grueling life can be when you're not a part of a community. So while many may see moving back to your hometown a failure or a setback, I see it as a huge success and a goal reached.  A step in the right direction for our family, I'm eager to see what the next few years will bring - hopefully a whole lot of Blue Moon ice cream, Wings and Tigers games, and Sanders hot fudge.

We're comin' back at you, Detroit.  And I can't wait to be back.

(Find our post on moving to Washington, here.)


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