Thanksgiving!

For our first Thanksgiving back in Florida, we decided to host dinner at our new home. We had my Aunt, cousin, his girlfriend, my mom, and Chris’s brother and his family join us. It was a very relaxing day full of food, football (Thank you Jesus for letting the Cowboys win for Chris) and fun. The kids played outside in the bounce house while we got to have adult beverages and play corn hole and enjoy the perfect weather.

Here are some pictures from not only Thanksgiving day, but also a few from the Thanksgiving celebrations at the kids’ schools.

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Please note the little turkey in orange and blue who is blowing kisses to his mommy and daddy before his performance!

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Look at that little Indian! Side note: Nolan put down an embarrassing amount of chicken nuggets at his school feast.

 

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Thank God he used the non-Fitbit arm. Ain’t nobody got time for a fitness tracker in their turkey.

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It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without Grandma Dot’s pumpkin bread.

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Me, Aunt Claudia and mom

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Brady all tuckered out after a day of food and fun. (Again, obsessed with sleeping pictures!)

The day after Thanksgiving we went to Savannah to spend time with my dad and Pat. We got to hang out downtown, see Santa, go to our annual Christmas light event at the Botanical Gardens, and watch the Gators get destroyed by FSU (boo.)

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The only Santa lap Nolan will be sitting on this year!

 

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So much to be thankful for, today and always!

 

 

 

 

Halloween!

This Halloween was one of my favorite with the boys. They got SO into it! Trick or treating was super enjoyable because the boys are finally at an age where they can walk on their own and go up to houses without our help. (We stood on the sidewalk sipping our adult beverages reminding them to say thank you.) We also got the benefit of having my mom nearby so she was able to participate in Nolan’s Trunk or Treat event at his school and hang out on Halloween night.

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Our not-so-elaborately decorated trunk. We’ll step it up next year! (Maybe.)

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We loved spending the morning at Nolan’s school on Halloween. Little stinker.

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Spoiler alert: the boys have already been talking about their costumes for next year. Nolan wants to be a, wait for it, mosquito.

Hurricane Matthew

Our first few months back in Florida have been quite adventurous. Between the chaos of all that goes along with a move, starting new jobs, beginning new schools, throwing in a couple hurricanes really spiced things up! Thankfully our new home did not sustain damage during either of the hurricanes, but we did have lots of time together (without power!) and made some fun memories in spite of what was a scary situation.

 

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Look at all that fun Chris was having!

 

We spent a big chunk of our time off of school celebrating “Dinosaur Day!” All things dinosaurs took place on this day. From Dinosaur Cookies to seeing how far we could throw toy dinosaurs, we did it.

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Dinosaur day was quite exhausting. (I’m obsessed with sleeping pics of my kids.)

 

Once the roads were good enough to drive on, we got out of the house as much as we could (We were running low on food and were without power a few days.)

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God bless restaurant employees who fed us poor, stir-crazy, hungry people.

A few days after the storm the boys and I headed to the beach to check out the damage… Nothing like a hurricane to make you realize how small you are in the world and how powerful Mother Nature can be.

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The ocean was ANGRY that day. So much foam!

 

 

Vanilla Milkshakes- Kids Cook Monday

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It’s no secret that Nolan has a sweet tooth. He begs for treats all the time and recently he was asking for a “banilla” milkshake. We came up with a somewhat healthier version of one of his favorite desserts. Here’s what my little helper and I whipped up for an afternoon snack…

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Ingredients

5 scoops low fat frozen yogurt
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

We simply threw all our ingredients in the blender and blended it until it was smooth. It turned out nice and creamy with a very “banilla-y” flavor. You could easily switch up the flavor by adding strawberries, bananas, or even peanut butter. This recipe made enough for either one very large milkshake or 2 small kid-sized shakes.

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This sweet treat has a surprisingly nice amount of protein thanks to the skim milk and is quite tasty with a handful of pretzels (obviously I had to partake in this snack as well.) And best of all, Nolan approved!

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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…