The Mini Man Cave

For the last couple of months, the boys have been asking to share a room. They were sleeping in each other’s room for some time after the most recent hurricane, and decided they liked that better than staying in their own rooms. We weighed out the pro’s and cons of moving them in together- they do get along really well, Nolan’s room was plenty big enough for 2 kids, we could have a designated guest room and Chris could have his office to himself. So, we decided to go ahead and make the transition. And, in true Smith fashion, we took this project on riiiiiight before Christmas. Because there’s not enough going on that time of year!

Here’s what the boys’ rooms looked like before the big change…

This was Nolan’s room when it was still “Nolan’s room.” It is a nice sized room so it made sense that they would go into that space.



Ok, this was during the transition. It’s not usually quite this much of a hot mess.

Here was Brady’s room, which has turned into our guest room.


We decided to stick with the boys’ full sized mattresses that were not that old, and got the boys a full over full bunk bed. They LOVE it. We are using Brady’s old dresser and bookshelf and Nolan’s old dresser is now in the guest room. There was a lot of re-arranging during this process figuring out what would fit where. We also painted both spaces and added a cool feature wall in the boys’ room. Here’s the work in progress pics…


Feature wall in progress…


We first started painting the room that light blue color you see, but realized it was too baby-ish for our big boys. *tear* So we ended up re-painting it a darker “denim blue.”

Here is how the boys’ room looks now!

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I love how this wall turned out! For now we have Nolan’s big old train table taking over this space, but eventually I hope to put in some sort of desk or maybe Lego building station.

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Brady is on the top bunk because OMG Nolan can’t be trusted up there.

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That little train print was purchased at the Strasburg Railroad during our time in Pennsylvania and it always makes me smile. The boys will have this in their room FOREVER if for nothing else because the custom framing was ridiculously pricy and I’m getting my moneys worth whether they like it or not!

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Love their little rockers that my Grandma bought them!

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Hello toy storage under that bottom bunk!

So far the boys are really loving sharing a room. I get such a kick out of hearing their little conversations at night…pretending to be Star Wars characters, acting out football games, and recounting the day’s events. Who knows how long they’ll love living together, but for now, it’s adorable!

And, Chris is loving having an office to himself. He just purchased a new desk and is planning to install hardwood floors and make it his own man cave. (Little known fact, Chris HATES the phrase “man cave.” So naturally I call his office a man cave every chance I get.) Enjoy your new man cave, honey!

We also did a quick paint job on Brady’s old room and turned it into a guest space. Btw, so sorry to our guests we had over Christmas who were surely breathing in brand new paint fumes as we finished painting it 2 days before Christmas. Aaaahh!


Can we talk about how sweet this little yellow chair is in the guest room nook? Shout out to my neighbor Cynthia who was giving it away. I love the pop of color!




This was taken right after we finished painting (before I got the cool yellow chair and moved this gray one back where it originally belonged!) Notice the window open desperately trying to get rid of the fumes. 🙂



Brady’s room is now the guest room-


And Nolan’s room is now the mini man cave-


Stay tuned to see how long the boys want to share a room. Lord willing, I will not be spending next Christmas break putting it all back how it was!

First Day of 1st Grade & VPK

Another school year has begun! I’m so thrilled with how the boys have adjusted to their new teachers and classes. It helps that they are both returning to a familiar school. For Brady, his first grade classroom is just down the hall from his Kindergarten room. For Nolan, he is the big man on campus as a big VPK-er in his final year at Promisetown Preschool. Here are some pictures from their first days of school…

It’s oh so hard getting used to early wake ups again. We are not morning people!

Brady is thoroughly enjoying 1st grade. He is such a “school kid” and thrives in that structured environment. I can’t believe that he’s in the grade that I was teaching when I was pregnant with him!

Nolan only goes to school on M,W,F so we still have Tues/Thurs for “Mommy Nolie days”. When Brady was at school I took Nolan to his favorite place- Taco Bell! 🙂

Nolan’s first day of school went better than I expected. Historically he does not do well with separation from us. He was surprisingly brave heading into school this year. While he did have a meltdown when we left the classroom on the first day, we’ve been tear free and happy ever since. Whew!

End of school day exhaustion!

VPK is just too much!

Here’s hoping for a great school year where the boys will continue to grow and learn!

Brady-boo turns 6!

It’s been 6 years since we first met our precious B-Man.


We had lots of thoughts about what our little guy would be like, but I could have never imagined he’d be so tender hearted, crazy smart, and happy-go-lucky. Every day he is questioning, learning, and building. You can see his wheels turning all the time. His cheerful heart always sees the bright side in life. He loves to encourage his friends and brother. He’s funny without even trying to be. I could literally eat.him.up.

DSC_0190 Brady’s favorite things to do almost always include a building project or science related activity. He loves to learn about dinosaurs and animals. He thinks it’s fun to “investigate” and “discover.” He asked for a fish for his birthday and checked out a book about Pet Fish from the library just in case he got one. So stinkin’ cute!!!DSC_0192 Brady is a stickler for rules. He insists on things being fair. If you are doing something wrong, you better believe he will call you out on it. Do not even think about speeding near one of those speed limit radar signs. He will not let 37 MPH fly in a 35 zone.DSC_0195 Brady is the friendliest little guy. He will talk to anyone and is quite chatty. Whenever we pick him up at the car line at school he’s always deep in conversation with anyone around him (if he’s not twirling or dancing.)DSC_0208 We always tell B that he has an engineer mind. He has been analyzing people and situations since birth. He prefers order and structure and will even call his teacher out if she is off schedule. His happy place is a new box of Legos and a lengthy instruction booklet.DSC_0209DSC_0218 Brady has the most innocent heart. He still loves sweet shows like Mickey Mouse and Curious George. He has dance parties with his little brother to Disney music. He backs out of the room if there is any kind of a villain in a cartoon. I wish I could keep him in his precious bubble forever. DSC_0223DSC_0226

We love this sweet boy so much! The world is such a better place with him in it!


Here’s Brady’s Exit Interview this year…

One more thing…Brady is the best big brother ever. We couldn’t have picked a better role model for Nolan. (Who by the way did not want to miss out on B’s birthday photo shoot.)


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!



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


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.



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!

Brady-boo is 5!


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.



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.


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.


We did a little 4 year old exit interview for Brady and here’s how he answered:
How old are you going to be?
When is your birthday?
June 21
What’s your favorite color?
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?
What about Albert?
I love them both.
Who’s your best friend?
What’s your favorite number?


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!


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

The End of the School Year 2016


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.


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!


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.


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!



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!



First Day of School (2&4)

 The boys (both!) started pre-school this week. This is Brady’s 3rd year of school so he’s an old pro by now, but it was Nolan’s first time (really, ever) doing anything without me. Both boys were so excited for the idea of school- new backpacks, packing a lunch, cool shoes, we just weren’t sure how Nolan would do with the reality of school being away from Mommy, Daddy and Brady. This year Brady will go 4 mornings a week and Nolan will go 2. That’s right, that means I will get a whole 8 hours to myself each week. Woot! Time to move the pile of laundry off my treadmill and actually use it! But I digress…

Brady started school on Monday, but Nolan didn’t have his first day until Tuesday. That was slightly confusing for poor Nolie as he was just sure he was supposed to go to school too.


Brady was a superstar on the first day. He was so excited to get into his classroom and get his learn on!                                                                                                                                                             2 3 1

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We were totally “those parents” taking hundreds of pictures in the classroom and even Brady’s teacher made a comment about how we really seemed into “taking it all in.” Ahem. Brady made up for his crazy parents by giving his teachers a sweet 1st day of school present.


Hey, I was a teacher. I know it doesn’t hurt to suck up juuuust a little. I’m not above it.

From the sounds of it, Brady had a great 1st day. When we came to pick him up he said, “Why are you here already?” He’s all warm and fuzzy just like his momma.

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Now onto littlest man’s 1st day of school. He was so stoked. He posed perfectly and everything. That never happens!

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We even got a couple shots with big brother (who was clearly an expert at this picture thing by now.)

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Happy, happy, happy heading into school.

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Oh, look! There’s my name! Happy, happy, happy.

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First kid in the class- get the firetruck all to myself. Happy, happy, happy!

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And then I left to take Brady to his class…


Sweet little Brady just working away, completely un-caring that I’m leaving the room. He’s so cool.

Apparently that’s when things got a little less “happy.” When Chris left the classroom, Nolan got a little panicky but was quickly calmed by his trusty blankie that we brought for this exact reason. We both made a quick get away and prayed that things would go well and we wouldn’t get a phone call mid-morning to come retrieve our traumatized child.


In true Chris and Karen fashion, I was all “Woohoo! Kids are both in school!” and he was all “Boohoo! They’re growing up so fast!” Love my big, emotional man.

Turns out we did not get any phone calls from the school. (Yay!) We actually got to take advantage of a rare kid-free, Chris not traveling, morning, and went out to lunch downtown.


I guess pork and grits can help ease anyone’s stress…

When we picked up Nolan he was playing happily! His teacher reported that he had a good day, although he did NOT want his diaper changed at all (guess we need to work on that potty training thing) and he would NOT leave his blankie in the classroom during playground time (we’ll work on that too.) One of my favorite parts of the day was seeing how interested Brady was in Nolan’s day. “Did you have fun, Nolan? See, mommy and daddy always come BACK!” Ahh, melted my heart.

We’ll see how day 2 goes for N-Dawg, sometimes that’s even harder than the 1st day, but at least we all survived day 1! Brady is loving school and Nolan is off to a decent start. Here’s a quick video of him breaking it down on the way home from school. Clearly he wasn’t too traumatized!