Back to Dayton {Raising My Family Where I Grew Up}

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I grew up in “the warm and cheerful.” And to be honest, I often found it boring. There wasn’t a lot to do. My friends and I took turns hanging out at other people’s houses, making the occasional canoe or hiking trip. After college, I moved to Lexington, before returning back to Dayton. My husband and I spent more than four years in the greater Cincinnati area, before making a very difficult decision to move back to be closer to family.

So once again, I’m back in Dayton, but things are different this time.

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It was hard to say goodbye to our life in Northern Kentucky, where my husband and I bought our first house, where we celebrated our first anniversary and where we brought our son home from the hospital. We could be downtown in less than 10 minutes. We could decide to go to the zoo or a Reds game last minute. We could walk our dog up the street and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. Not to mention the museums, parks, restaurants and multiple festivals every weekend. It was small-town living with a big city a quick trip away.

At first, it felt like we were a million miles away from the Queen City, not just a 40-minute drive down the highway. We didn’t find a house right away. We kept driving back to Cincinnati, instead of exploring what Dayton has to offer.

But things changed when we found our home here.

I wasn’t sure that I would like living in the neighborhood where I grew up, but now it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. Once we moved in, we made a pledge to truly settle into our new (old) city. And we’ve quickly realized there’s a reason Dayton is called the Gem City. It truly is a gem!

We’ve learned that the area’s parks are amazing. We not only explore parks within our own city but in the surrounding area as well. We’ve checked out nearly every place with a creek, pond or lake, thanks to my son’s love for all kinds of water. We’ve participated in numerous park programs and have loved every minute! We’re members of Carillon Historical Park and go several times a month. It is such a cool place to learn all about Dayton.

We still go to the Cincinnati Zoo, but we’ve also found some new places to check out around here. My son loves seeing the animals at the Boonshoft Museum. We go see farm animals at Young’s. We also found an amazing nature center up near Troy. Instead of the Cincinnati Museum Center, we go to the US Air Force Museum. We’ve traded the Cincinnati Reds for the Dayton Dragons.

We’ve found so many great places to go, restaurants to eat at and parks to explore. But we’ve also realized something else: we love the people in Dayton.

They’re a little friendlier, a little kinder and have really made an effort to be a part of our lives. We have wonderful neighbors who say “hello” and wave every time they walk or drive by. When we had our second son, neighbors and friends brought us dinner. People are always offering to help with projects or childcare. The people who sit near us in church give our kids gifts on special occasions.

Maybe that would have happened in Cincinnati, but we are truly blessed that we have so much support in this city. And while it may be smaller, there are so many more good things than I could have ever imagined.

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