My husband and I had a 10 year plan. We would find jobs in Iowa (where we attended undergrad), stay for a couple years to gain work experience, and then move back to one of our home states before our first child turned 5. Pretty solid plan, right? Well, our son is almost 3 years old, we are on our second home in Cedar Rapids, and I’m itching to set down roots.
It’s not just about the stress of packing and moving with three kids in tow, but I really think I’m starting to like Iowa.
It is a different pace here from than where I’m from. My husband and I came from suburbs bursting at the seams. We were both at least 30-45 minutes away from major cities, and the malls have four wings and multiple levels. Every subdivision has an elementary school or middle school at its center and holds a high school at the end of the street. Both areas are fast paced and booming with families.
Iowa is a place where you can appreciate the sun setting above the farm fields as you drive down I-380 during your daily commute. It is a state that prides itself in locally-made and locally-sourced items. And Iowans love their farmers markets! Never have I ever done a farmer’s market version of the magnificent mile(s) until moving to Cedar Rapids. This town also offers a variety of family and kid friendly activities where we have been able to meet other kiddos and parents like us. An added bonus is that Iowa was named the the No. 1 state in the country thanks to its health care, education system and infrastructure. Bragging rights!
How I really know I want to put down roots here is when I find myself daydreaming of where our next play date will be, or when catching up with friends at local coffee shops, and seeing our little ones running in the backyard. There’s a sense of peace when I think about the next day. Whenever we go out of town, I can never wait to return home. There is no urge to want to move to our next adventure. I’m happy with just a visit.
There are still things our family is adjusting to.
We’re not sure when it’s Crunchberry day, Feed day or Sewage day, so it’s a scent roulette during the summer. We have been in Iowa for 5 years and still have not decided if we are Hawkeye fans or Cyclone fans. My heart is still set on the sweet and greasy Italian beefs of Portillo’s, and I dare not try another sandwich in fear I may abandon my one true foodie love. The promise of diversity is growing with festivals such as Asian Fest, which helps me feel like I’m back at home.
The hardest part is not being close to our families. We won’t have the ease of calling up grandparents to watch the kids for a few hours or if momma just needs to make a quick Target run. We are close enough to make a weekend trip, but far enough to miss each other. With all that said, we have a wonderful and supportive community within our workplace, church and neighborhoods. We’ve made incredible connections with our music class and daycare friends; we know if we are in a bind, someone will be there.
I’m ready to install that swing set out back and enjoy some locally sourced wine while snacking on some locally made bread and cheese from the glorious Artisan section at Hy-Vee.
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