So one thing that is new to us here in Maine is having both a February and April week off of school. I guess they assume all Mainers are ready for a break from the cold come February. And, let’s get honest, it’s still cold in April so many people need to get away again then! We did a big Florida road trip in February and had a nice stay-cation in April.
We made the 2 day journey down South with the kids and the dog. It was a loooong drive, but we did get to see Grandpa and Nana for a night before we made our way to Universal Studios. (Sailor spent her vacation with them!) During our trip we also got to visit with Aunt Kim, Uncle Esteban, Aunt Gift, Chloe, Grandma, Aunt Claudia, and our friends Darrah and Ryley.
The boys loved the hotel at Universal. One of their favorite things was the pool and restaurant! But, the biggest reason we were there was to finally see the Jurassic Park world and ride the Velocicoaster. Brady was SO excited. We also loved getting to see the Harry Potter World. It was ridiculously crowded but we packed a lot in. We even got to check out the new Volcano Bay water park. It was snowing back home while we were floating down a lazy river!
We kicked off April break by celebrating Easter just the 4 of us at home. Chris had to spend part of the break in Puerto Rico for work, so my dad flew up and spent the week with us. We did a fun stay-cation and did things like eat out at new restaurants, went to the trampoline park, went to the movies, and hit up a minor league baseball game. We even drove to Boston for the day and checked out their amazing science museum.
We are finally starting to see some signs of actual Spring. There are buds on trees, flowers blooming, and *slightly* warmer weather. We can’t wait for Summer!!!
Our littlest man is officially in his last year of single digits. We’ve had 9 years of laughing at his crazy antics, learning how to understand his big emotions, and being in awe of his never-forgets-anything smart brain.
This year brought big changes to Nolan’s life- new home, new school, new sports… and he has embraced it all. Which, is a tell tale sign that our once shy little boy is really starting to grow up.
Nolan does life large, loud, and intense. He feels all the feels, voices all his thoughts and opinions, and loves to “DOMINATE!” He plays hard and is a sweaty mess all year round. He goes full throttle until he drops. He is the only person I know who can pass out on the ground, in the middle of a concert, with thousands of people surrounding him, and sleep like the dead.
He’s big for his age. Looks more like a 12 year old than a 9 year old- which makes his borderline obsessive affection for stuffed animals and all things cozy, that much cuter. He’s rough and tough on the outside, and squishy and sweet on the inside.
Happy birthday, Bubba! You will always be our best and favorite surprise in life.
There is something about cold weather, snow, and winter activities that make Christmas time really feel special. Our first Christmas season in Maine did not disappoint when it came to those areas. We even were blessed with a white Christmas. We tried to take advantage of all that living up north has to offer during the holidays- ice skating, snowman making, sledding, and of course tons of yummy comfort food. The boys had such a great Christmas! Grandma was here for an extended visit, they got everything they asked for for Christmas, and they absolutely loved playing in the snow.
There is nothing like Fall in New England. This season did not disappoint! Gorgeous foliage, crisp air, cider doughnuts, apple orchards and all the flannel. We got lucky and had a mild October and November this year. The temps were cool enough to feel like real fall, but not so cold that you couldn’t enjoy being outside.
We tried to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and weather by taking short trips to Ogunquit, ME and Portsmouth, NH. We picked an abundance of apples and made so many desserts. We took gorgeous drives to take in the views.
One thing that will make next Fall even better- the ability to walk and hike! Because, frustratingly, I have been in a walking boot since Labor Day and had foot surgery at the end of October. I am thankful we were able to squeeze in as much Fall fun as we did, but I know next year will be even better when I can do a little more.
Well, we picked a good time of year to move to New England. Summertime is heavenly compared to the sweltering hot box of Florida. Not to say we didn’t have some super hot days up here (thanks a lot global warming!) that made us question our decision to buy a 121 year old house that lacks A.C., but I digress. Overall, we were loving our sweatshirts in the evenings with a side of fire pit. And, the cooler temperatures did not stop our boys from enjoying the backyard pool. It is the ultimate form of irony that we never had a house with a pool in all the years we lived in Florida.
We were pretty busy with unpacking and working on the house, but since the boys had a loooong extended summer break, we had lots of time to explore our new area. We also had several visits from friends and family. Most of our exploring was within a 15 minute radius of our house (there is so much to see here!!!) but we did squeeze in a quick trip to see Burlington, Vermont.
Most of the pictures from our first summer in Maine have a common theme- water and food! Can’t wait for summer to come back around to do some more exploring!
Remember when you turned ten and you thought it was so cool because you were double digits and you could tell everyone you were a decade old? I do. Remember when you were a new parent and you thought people with ten year old kids were kinda old? Ugh, I remember that too. But alas, here we are. Brady is ten and we are the parents of a decade old kid.
But, what an awesome decade it’s been. This ten year old kid of ours is better than anything I could have dreamed up. He is thoughtful and empathetic. He is an adventurer and a dreamer. He has the most positive attitude of anyone I know and always looks on the bright side of life. He is easy going and eager to please. He works hard and strives for success in all he does. He is willing to try new things, and he cheers on others always.
This year Brady excelled in Taekwondo and made it to a green belt. He got straight A’s all through 4th grade. He tried baseball for the first time. And, he continues to be his happiest when reading a good book.
This year we also threw a major curve ball into his life by moving him 10 states away from family and friends. He embraced this change with excitement and courage. He says he was born to live in Maine because it is full of new experiences and challenges. I just love him to pieces.
Happy birthday, Brady-boo. May your life always be an adventure!
In April we officially closed on our new house in Maine. While the boys and I stayed in Florida to finish up the school year, Chris moved half of our stuff up north and started working his New England territory. For two months we were a long distance family. I wrapped up teaching and packing while Chris was doing some major overhaul on the new (OLD!!) house.
By the time the boys and I had our last day of school, it was time to start our journey up to Maine. My dad offered to help with the drive so we stopped in Savannah to pick him up on the way. The boys got to drive through 11 states in a matter of 3 days- Florida>Georgia>South Carolina>North Carolina>Virginia>Maryland>Pennsylvania>New York>Massachusetts>New Hampshire>Maine. My dad drove my car with the boys, the dog, and the fish (in a Tervis Tumbler in the cupholder!) I rode with Chris in the bumpy moving truck. We made it to Maine on Sunday the 13th. We celebrated my birthday the next day by unloading a moving truck- yay! My mom sent flowers and treats to make it feel a little more special.
While the house is still not 100% done, we’ve made some great progress. Chris did an awesome job of getting it in shape before we arrived and now I’m having fun putting my touches on it. Our first Airbnb guests arrived the week after we moved in and it’s been going great. Now on to exploring Maine. So far, it is magical!
It’s that time of year again, where I struggle to grasp how my kids are as old as they are. Nolan is EIGHT-what?! I will always picture him as a chubby cheeked, messy faced, sweaty blur of blonde hair. In some ways Nolan has always been Nolan. A mix of exuberance, energy, and silliness. He has always been anxious in new situations and is his most comfortable self when competing to “win” something. In other ways, Nolan has grown and changed so much into his new big boy self. He is more confident, more independent, and more mature than I could have pictured him just a few years ago. He is learning to take his time with tasks (speed does not always equate to being the best) and is working so hard to accept that making mistakes is okay. He comes by that last struggle honestly! Nolan’s quick wit, attention to specific details, and sensitive heart make him a complete dreamboat to his mommy. The way he always asks to snuggle and adores “cozy town” (aka blankets, towels or pajamas that are fresh from the dryer), makes me swoon. His love for competing and anything sports related makes him his daddy’s total mini me. Time is passing too quickly with our little man, but we are savoring every minute. We love you lots, Nolie!
Gosh it’s been a while since I’ve written about our lives. I think 2020 did a real number on the creative/writing side of my brain. Perhaps it was the worldwide pandemic survival mode taking over, yes? Or maybe it was the new job, planning to move, raising 2 kids, country in turmoil and overall mental health hanging on by a thread that got in the way of my blogging? We may never know. Either way, seeing as how it is the end of February 2021 and I haven’t written anything since June of 2020, it’s fair to say I have some things to catch my dear reader up on. (Can you tell I just binged Bridgerton?)
So, we ended our extended 2020 Spring Break in September with both the boys and I going back to in person learning. We were nervous for several reasons. A) The raging out of control Covid-19 cases. B)School was going to look WAY different with Covid-19 safety protocols in place. And, C) New school years always freak us out! But, mostly we were excited to get back to the comfort and familiarity of our peers and classrooms. Brady is now in 4th grade and Nolan is in 2nd. I started a new gig at my work this year as the Transitional Kindergarten teacher. It is a new program at our school and I got to create my own curriculum, schedule, and have a limited class size. Pinch me! Dream teacher job, right there. But lots of nerves about starting something new, nonetheless.
Much to our surprise and relief, despite the pain in the butt of constant cleaning and mask wearing, it felt really good to be back to in person learning. The boys have both thrived this year and I am loving my new role at my job. I have total freedom of what and how I teach and have loved coming up with fun new ideas each week. (So maybe my creative brain hasn’t been turned off, it’s just been consumed with work related projects.) Since everything was going so swimmingly, it would make sense that we’d start considering a big change in the Fall of 2020, right? Why are we like this, Chris?!
Throughout the past year, Chris and I, while overall happy in our little corner of Florida, and lucky to be so near family, have felt an itch. And no, this itch was not a Covid-19 symptom; it was the itch for something different. We’ve felt this itch before. As we rounded the 4 year mark of living back in Florida, we just knew we were in need of a change. We thought about just changing houses. But, the more we looked in our current area, the more we knew we wanted a more drastic lifestyle change. We began to dream up ideas about moving someplace far away- New England, Canada, New Zealand. I mean, we were literally on the Canadian immigration website trying to figure out if teachers were considered an essential profession that they’d allow citizenship for. You guys, we had big plans for poutine and maple syrup.
While the itch never went away, we did start to walk ourselves off the Canadian refugee ledge a bit and try to think practically. We gave ourselves all the reasons why we should just stay put:
1.The kids seemed content here. (Although we counter argued that they’d love a new adventure.)
2. We had good jobs here. (But surely we could find jobs somewhere else? Although Chris knew he’d never get on with a company as good as the one he currently works for.)
3. We had so much family close by. (But surely if we lived somewhere cool they’d be visiting often and isn’t one of the perks of a teacher schedule that you can spend your summers back down South with family?)
Around the time that we had almost convinced ourselves that our dreams of adventures in a new place were completely absurd, Chris got wind of a new territory in his company that was opening up…in New England. What were the odds that one of the exact places we had just been scheming of ways to move to, would have an amazing job opportunity with the current company that Chris has loved being a part of?! Surely, this was a sign that we were to fully embrace our absurd idea of making a big move. If you’ve been following the Smith journey for any amount of time, you know we are big believers in waiting for a sign and then making an enormous decision. We went back and forth about the idea of going for the New England position for a few weeks before we decided that we absolutely had to. We knew people would think we were crazy, but we couldn’t not do it. Again, why are we like this, Chris?
Just before the holidays we found out that Chris got the position. The weeks and months since then have been a bit of a whirlwind. Telling our friends and family and co-workers, arranging to sell our house, scoping out areas to live in and hyping up our kids for their new lives. For the record, they are amped for the chance to live in a place that gets snow. We spent a few days in a snowy cabin in North Carolina over Christmas break and it quickly became obvious that our boys are going to thrive in a cold climate. It also became obvious that this mama is going to live on hot coffee and Cuddle Duds up north.
While it might not make sense to some (or most) people to agree to move to a place you’ve never been before, that’s exactly what we did. After going under contract to sell our Florida house, Chris and I made a trip up to Maine to scope out potential areas to live in and see in person just exactly we had signed up for. Just as many people had felt the need to remind us of when we announced our plans to move up north, turns out Maine does get cold. It’s also full of unspoiled nature, cute lighthouses, rocky cliffs, quaint small towns, endless breweries, amazing seafood, great schools, open-minded friendly people, and is just a days trip away from Boston, Canada and NYC. Ya know, if you like those sort of things. We do.
After a quick trip of exploring, we definitively knew where we wanted to live. A cute little area called Scarborough, which is about 6 miles south of Portland and full of charm and beaches. We met with a few realtors to get a feel for what inventory was like, and wouldn’t you know it, we fell in love with the first house we went to. She is an old farmhouse, circa 1900, that is 4 minutes from the beach. She is quirky and awkward and full of potential- my favorite combo. I mean, I love a new construction fancy build as much as the next person, but there is something about a house that has a ton of history and unique features, that I just completely fan girl over. This old gal has some stories. And no doubt she will give us some headaches. More to come on our Marla Hooch coastal farmhouse…
So as of April, Chris will be moving up to Maine to start working in his new territory. The boys and I will follow him after the school year is over. We are already making our Florida bucket list as we count down the weekends we have left down South, but are simultaneously planning out our first visits from family and friends up north. Chris’s honey do list is going to be long, and there are sure to be ups and downs as we make this huge transition, but I am going into it with a hopeful heart and feeling blessed to have yet another new adventure with our little family on the horizon.
Brady-boo is officially in his last year of single digits. We’ve made it to the halfway point of his childhood. What the what? How is that possible?
We sure did luck out with this kid. He is the coolest, quirkiest, funniest 9 year old you could ever imagine. He loves to create, build, and daydream. He loves to talk anyone’s ear off and is a friend to all. This year he has found a love for Tae-kwon-do, Harry Potter, and adventure seeking. He is always learning, and often gets in trouble for staying up too late reading. He is one of a kind and makes the world a better place.