Kitchen Spruce Up!

While we are loving our new house here in Florida (and it really is a great house!) it’s no secret that I reeeeeally loved the one we built in Raleigh. We picked out every little detail and put so much work into it, especially the kitchen. It was my favorite kitchen ever. Unfortunately, the kitchen in our new home was the one area that did not make me happy when we initially saw the house. We knew when we purchased the home that we’d be putting in a little T.L.C. (money) to make it what we wanted.

Recently, we replaced the older black appliances that came with the house, put up some fun beadboard, replaced the under cabinet lights, got some new furniture, and had a contractor help us re-do our backsplash. The result is so much more “us” and overall lighter and brighter!

Here’s some before pics…

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Not terrible. Just a little dark and sad. And that backsplash though…

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Not only was this tile a dreary geometrical nightmare to look at, it was so stuck on it would have survived a nuclear bomb. It took our contractor so long to rip it all down and all the walls came down with it!

Now on to the after pictures!

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Nothing a little stainless steel and white subways can’t fix!

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This kitchen is definitely more our style now and is a place I’m excited to cook in. I’m still looking to replace our drawer pulls with something more of a cup style since these are a little too modern for my taste, but we’re on our way to making this my favorite house yet!

 

First Day of School- Kinder & PK3

This summer has been full of excitement and change for our little family. All in all our boys have been such troopers. Their whole lives have changed and they’ve really done great adjusting to all the newness (they are practically pros at it at this point.)

One of the biggest changes for any kid that moves is starting a new school. Brady was going to be starting a new school regardless with entering Kindergarten, but Nolan was quite happy at his old pre-school and not at all wanting to change what took months for him to become comfortable with. We were not sure how the first day of school would go for either kiddo, but they both did super well.

Brady has been excited about Kindergarten for months. He was all smiles and energy until the moment he walked into the classroom. He quickly turned around, ran back out and had tears in his eyes. He told me he “was a little bit worried.” A few hugs, kisses, and reassurances later, he walked back in and never looked back. He came home from school on the bus and reported that he had a great first day. He is loving it!

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Patiently waiting for brother’s bus that was SUPER late!

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Big boy getting off the bus for the first time (bus driver carrying his lunchbox that he has forgotten every single day.)

 

Nolan’s first day was so much more nerve racking for me. He is so social and outgoing in some ways, and so painfully shy in others. Historically he does NOT like being away from me and took his sweet time getting used to preschool drop off last year. I was anticipating the worst. Thankfully, he was quite brave on his first day. There were a couple whiny moments of not wanting me to go, but ultimately after about 10 or 12 hug/kiss/fist bump/high five routines, he said good-bye to me and let me walk away (with no tears.) We survived! Now, I’m not getting cocky just yet. I know 2nd and 3rd days can often be way tougher, but we at least had a great start.

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He was a hot, sweaty mess when I picked him up!

Overall, we are super proud of how these boys have handled so much change in their lives recently. We’re so excited to see how much they grow and learn this year!

Back in Florida!

Remember when us Smiths moved to Raleigh, built our dream home, and decided we would stay forever? Yeaaaa, about that. We freakin’ loved North Carolina. In fact we were 99.9% sure we would never leave. We made great friends, loved the city and proximity to mountains and beaches, and really felt at home there. The only thing missing was family. And, that’s a big one. Chris and I always said we knew we would stay put in Raleigh unless something huge came along that could potentially bring us closer to family.

We always sort of half joked that it would take the perfect job in the perfect location to make us move again. We didn’t want to just move anywhere, we wanted to have family super close to make it worth our while. We said the perfect job would have to be in North Florida or South Georgia for it to make sense for Chris to leave his position at a company he’d been with for 11 years. So, when a company that Chris has admired for a long time came to him to let him know they had an opening in their North Florida/South Georgia territory, it completely caught us off guard. We didn’t think that kind of opportunity existed. We felt like he had to at least apply. We said if it was meant to be, it would happen.

As Chris got further and further into the interview process it began to sink in that this might actually be happening. Chris began to fall in love with the company and realized how much he really wanted the job. However, the idea of moving again seemed daunting and the reality that we may be leaving the life we had created in North Carolina was super bittersweet. By the time Chris found out he got the job, it was a surreal feeling of “YAY!” and “what did we just do?!” All along we just kept reminding ourselves that this was God’s plan. This job presented itself for a reason. Not only was Chris about to embark on an exciting new career opportunity that was such a perfect fit for him, the job was located right smack in the middle of my mom and dad. We are closer to Chris’s aunt and brother, my extended family, our old friends, and of course, Gator games!

Our journey back to Florida has been a whirlwind of selling our house, quickly buying a new one, saying good-bye to friends, packing, cleaning, staying in a hotel for a week (with the kids and pets), paperwork, phone calls, more cleaning, unpacking, starting a new job, and getting settled into our new life. In the short term, it’s hectic and crazy. In the long term, Chris is beyond happy with his new position, our kids get to spend time with family whenever we want, and our decision to move back to Florida is turning out to be so great.

I’m slowly starting to make my mark on our new house and it’s beginning to feel like home. We’re loving that we are super close to the beach and there is GATOR stuff everywhere!! The kids are enrolled in their new schools and I’m working on applying to be a substitute teacher for our county (side note: miraculously I still have 2 years left on my Florida teaching certificate so I can go back to teaching full time sometime soon!) I’m sure I’ll be posting more once we get the house finished, but in the meantime, here’s some pictures of the last month of moving fun.

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Nolan on the morning that the movers came to pack up our Raleigh house. He was all, “nope.”

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Thankfully Chris was able to perk him up with a quick apple bite.

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I snapped this pic from our neighbor’s house. I was in full panic mode looking over like, “what have we gotten ourselves into again?”

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Kissing NC goodbye!

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The definition of a bittersweet photo for me. The last picture of the boys on our front steps. So sad to leave, but ready for our next adventure.

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Our last night in Raleigh was in a hotel. Brady spent the evening writing “notes” to all his friends he was leaving behind. (Tear!!!)

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Rise and shine! Who’s ready to hit the road for Florida?!!! Guys?

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Our first night in Florida- had to get a flip flop cookie to commemorate it!

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Once we got to Florida we had a week in a hotel before we closed on our new house. We did a bunch of stalker drive by’s of the new house before we could get in.

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This is what a week of living in a hotel with 2 boys, a dog, and a cat, does to you.

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The boys went to stay with Grandma and Aunt Claudia for a couple days while Chris and I closed on the house and started the cleaning and unpacking process. Such a lifesaver! (and perk to being close to family again!!)

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Our final walk thru of our Florida home

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We were those people who brought their dog to closing. He sat like a statue in the corner for an hour and a half.

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We are moving pros by now. We know to have solo cups and screw top wine on hand for when you can’t find your wine opener. Now, where’s that coffee maker….

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A 3 and 5 year old boy are excellent unpacking helpers.

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Brady is officially going to start Kindergarten (again)!

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Coffee maker is found! Enjoying the new backyard view🙂

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Oh hey, Florida. How I missed you!

We don’t quite feel like we are done with North Carolina. We are sure we will be vacationing there as much as possible and hopefully one day have a second home or retire there. That time in our life will always have such a special place in our hearts, but this new chapter in Florida is looking pretty good so far! Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

10 Year Anniversary

.Dear Chris,

Can you believe it’s been 10 years since we got married? Also, can you believe that we were practically babies when we got married?!

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In some ways it feels like more than 10 years- we’ve certainly packed a lot into that decade! Between job changes, countless moves, Gator games, trips, concerts, pets, loss of loved ones, births of children, and more bottles of wine than I care to mention…it’s been an adventure to say the least.

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Honeymoon in St. Lucia

 

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Horseback riding in St. Lucia

 Thanks for going along with every “Hey, you know what sounds fun?” idea I come up with. Thanks for thinking something sounds insane, but still going for it.  Thank you for making every moment of these last 10 years count. Thank you for always finding ways to make our life together meaningful and memorable. In short, thank you for a life that’s never boring.

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San Antonio,TX

 

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“Still wearing jerseys even though they middle-aged.”

 

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Boston, MA

 

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Just a couple of bad asses…”Every thug needs a lady.”

 

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World Series: Bucket List Accomplishment!

 

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1 of thousands of sunsets selfied together…

 

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Tampa, FL (Gasparilla)

 Thank you for being the world’s best teammate. Whether it’s splitting another bottle of wine or helping me untangle yet another necklace or earbud situation, I can always count on you. Thank you for never making me choose between the fried chicken sandwich or fish tacos because you always get one or the other and go halvesies. And thanks for always being up for a song, dance, game, or anything we can “win” at.

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Countless drunken karaoke nights…”Don’t Stop Believin'”

 

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At one of many concerts together…Jimmy Buffett

Thank you for never wanting “another shot-gun rider beside you, singing to the radio.” Thanks for knowing that “when the kids are old enough, we’re gonna teach them to fly.” And, thanks for getting all those references…because “I love you more than songs can say.”

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Gatlinburg, TN

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Red Rock Canyon, NV

 

 

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Key West, FL

 

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San Francisco, CA

 Thanks for being the best person to raise kiddos with. You make this journey of parenthood so special. You treasure moments with our boys and work diligently to ensure their future will be amazing. You also do a pretty fantastic job of showing them how to treat their future wives.

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Baby Brady in the belly!

 

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Baby ’bout to come out!

 

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We made ourselves a friend!

 

 

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Philadelphia, PA

 

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Lititz, PA

 

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New York, NY

 

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Pittsburgh, PA

 

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Niagara Falls (AKA coldest moment of my life)

 

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Virginia Beach, VA

 

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Boone, NC

 

 

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Grandfather Mountain, NC

 

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Thank you God for letting me marry a Gator!

 

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Outer Banks, NC

If this is what 10 years together looks like, I can’t wait to see what we’ve accomplished at 25, 50 or 70 years married. I’ll continue to give you a hard time about all the gray hairs you’ve earned, and you will go on making fun of my inability to make a pot of coffee. We’ll live life laughing at stupid jokes no one else gets and making decisions other people think are crazy or irresponsible. I’ll always be in awe of your ability to charm everyone you meet and you will continue to make me feel like the most loveable girl in the world. Thank you for this life, Chris. It is so much more than I could have ever hoped for or dreamed of.

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“A thousand miles seems pretty far, but they’ve got planes and trains and cars. I’d walk to you if I had no other way. Our friends would all make fun of us, and we’d just laugh along because we’d know that none of them have felt this way…I can promise you that by the time that we get through, the world will never ever be the same.”

Happy 10 Year Anniversary- Cheers to us!

Brady-boo is 5!

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It’s hard to believe our little B-Man has been with us 5 years already. We’re so incredibly blessed that this is the boy God chose to be our introduction to parenthood. He’s sweet, funny, so smart, and just plain easy to parent.

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We’re constantly amazed by Brady’s abilities to analyze situations, think about how the world works, and question everything. He loves to learn, build, and create. He’s even tempered and genuinely innocent at heart.

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He loves to please and cares so deeply about others. We couldn’t have picked a better big brother for Nolan and are so thankful for his loving nature.

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We did a little 4 year old exit interview for Brady and here’s how he answered:
How old are you going to be?
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When is your birthday?
June 21
What’s your favorite color?
Red
What’s your favorite food?
Hot Dogs
What’s your favorite show?
P.J. Masks
What’s your favorite movie?
Firefighter Dusty (Planes Fire and Rescue)
What’s your favorite book?
“Rescue Vehicles”
What’s your favorite song?
“Cake by the Ocean” and “Bubble Toes”
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A police officer
Where is your favorite place to go?
La Cocina (Mexican restaurant by our house)
What’s your favorite animal?
Gato
What about Albert?
I love them both.
Who’s your best friend?
Sophie
What’s your favorite number?
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We’re so proud of Brady and his unique little personality. While it’s bittersweet that our first born is becoming such a big boy, we can’t wait to see what big things are in his future!

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Happy Birthday Brady! Thank you for making our job as your parents so fun and rewarding!

The End of the School Year 2016

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Recently the Smith family made the big decision to move back to Florida for a new job opportunity and to be closer to family (more on all that soon!). While we are excited for this new adventure, unfortunately it means saying good-bye to many of the things we love about North Carolina. One of the harder things for us to leave is the boy’s pre-school. For the last 2 years it has been such a wonderful, safe, and loving place that our boys have grown and learned so much from. While Brady will be starting Kindergarten in a new school either way, I was still looking forward to two more years of Nolan attending First Baptist Pre-School. While we’re confident we will love the new schools in Florida, the end of the school year here in North Carolina was very bittersweet.

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I can’t say enough fantastic things about Nolan’s teacher this year. This was his first experience in school and Miss Beverley made it so memorable. He was not an easy kid to transition into school (a whole lot of separation anxiety in the beginning!) but her patience and loving nature was life changing for all of us. I am forever grateful for all that Miss Beverley taught Nolan and I even gained a little knowledge myself on how to handle pre-schoolers! By the end of the year, Nolan had so much confidence and grew to love school!

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Brady has absolutely loved school this year! The 4 year old class was so much more like “big kid school” and he thrived. I am so pleased with how his pre-reading and math skills have come along. He also had a teacher who encouraged his love of building structures and engaged him with open ended science activities. It was so fun to see how Brady’s little personality developed this year as he began to foster new friendships and become more outgoing.

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Brady’s graduation ceremony was a perfect example of how much his confidence has grown as he was chosen to be one of the flag holders during the pledge of allegiance and stand in front of all his peers. I wouldn’t have ever imagined he’d have been that brave before!

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We’re so proud of both boys and how far they’ve come this year. While we are sad to say good-bye to First Baptist Church of Garner Pre-school, we are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for our little men!

Here’s a little beginning to end comparison!

 

 

Rainbow Rice…Kids Cook Monday

Hello KCM friends! We’ve been a little inconsistent with our Monday posts, but the folks at Curious Chef sent us some amazing products that completely inspired us to get back in the kitchen! Brady was SO excited to get his Fruit and Veggie Prep Kit and made it very clear to all of us that they were all his…(much to the dismay of his little brother.) We decided to make a fun rice dish using our tools that incorporated lots of colorful veggies.

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Here are the ingredients we used to make Rainbow Rice:
2 Cups Brown Rice
2 Cups Water (or Vegetable Broth) to cook rice
1 Red pepper
1 Yellow Squash
1 Cup Frozen Peas and Carrots
1 Purple Onion
1 Clove of Garlic
2 Tbs. Butter
1 Tbs. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sesame Oil

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Here is how Brady and I cooked up our rainbow rice:

  1. First, Brady used his new vegetable scrubber to clean the pepper and the squash.
  2. Next, we began chopping up our vegetables with Brady’s new super safe knife he got from Curious Chef. It was the perfect size for his little hands, but gave him all the power of cutting up the produce. He was so proud that he could do it himself!
  3. While we were chopping our produce, the rice was boiling away on the stove. (Just follow package directions) You can cook the rice in Vegetable broth if you want it to have a little more flavor.
  4. Once we were finished chopping, we began cooking our vegetables in Olive Oil. We started with the onion and garlic, then added the peppers and squash and sprinkled a little salt and pepper on everything.
  5. When the vegetables became tender, we added the frozen peas and carrots.
  6. Then, we added the cooked rice into our pot.
  7. We seasoned the whole pot with the Sesame Oil, butter and Soy Sauce.
  8. We gave everything a final stir and let it sit for about 5 minutes so all of the flavors could blend together.

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Not only was this dish fun and easy to prepare, it turned out beautiful and my sweet, veggie loving oldest boy, LOVED it!

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We’re so excited to get back in the kitchen and use the rest of our new tools!