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!

 

 

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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

June Adventures

June might be my favorite month of the year. For our family it’s full of celebrations, travel, and enjoying summer to the fullest. This year, in addition to celebrating lots of birthdays, our anniversary, and Father’s Day, we also threw in a 12 day road trip to Florida. We were able to visit with lots of friends and family and hit up some of our favorite spots along the way (and only came back with 1 broken bone!) Here’s our recap of the month of June and our big road trip!

We started the month with a visit from my mom. She was able to come stay for a week and we got to hang out, eat lots of food, and she was a big help at Brady’s birthday party.

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We celebrated Brady’s birthday early in the month because we knew we’d be busy traveling on his actual birthday. He had lots of friends from school and our neighborhood come help him celebrate.

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In the middle of June we set off on a trip to visit with our family in Georgia and Florida. We stopped for a night in Savannah and stayed with my dad and step-mom (Albert stayed with them for over a week while we traveled.)

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The boys shared a bed for the first time during the trip and we were nervous about how it would go, but they did surprisingly well. (Much better than when we tried it in Charleston and Brady threw up all over Nolan in the middle of the night…)

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We then set off for Clearwater, but had to stop in Gainesville along the way to get lunch and show the boys where their mommy and daddy met!

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Brady helped us find the Smith Family brick on UF’s campus.

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Nolan was a BIG fan of “pizza by the slice.” (aka the pizza consumed by many a Gator student after a night of partying on University Ave.) Here’s his best “GO GATORS!” with a mouthful of pizza.

We then spent a few days in Clearwater. We spent our first evening visiting with Chris’s family. They loved hanging out with their Aunt Kim and playing in her pool. Then, we spent the weekend at the beach visiting with friends and celebrating my birthday.

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Yay for Auntie Jill time!

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Super happy that I finally got to meet baby Bennett!

From Clearwater we headed to Daytona to visit with my family. I was so excited I got to spend my birthday with so much of my family. We spent about 4 days there and got in lots of beach, pool, and boat time. Chris and I even managed to get a night to ourselves at the beach. We loved spending so much time with my mom and Aunt Claudia too.

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Probably one of my favorite pictures ever! See the dolphin I’m pointing out to the boys?! Ahhh, an amazing day!

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After we left Daytona, we headed back to Savannah. We took the scenic route and drove up A1A (beach front avenue!) and stopped in St. Augustine for a quick lunch/site seeing.

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We spent our last weekend in Savannah visiting with Grandpa and Nana. We had fun eating, shopping, and celebrating mine and Brady’s birthday.

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Check out the sweet yellow jackets Grandpa got the boys!

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Somehow Chris and I were still smiling at the end of a 12 day trip. It was ambitious of us, but so fun! Leave it to us to dare to take a trip that long with a 2 and 4 year old.

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After we got home from our trip, Brady had his 4 year check up. He had a slight limp from where he tripped over a mat at Monkey Joes when we were celebrating his birthday in Savannah. I didn’t think much of it, but the doctor had us get x-rays just to make sure it was ok. I should mention that Brady does not do a good job of communicating when he’s in pain or something is wrong. He was actually in a really good mood and the doctor was quite surprised to see that he had fractured the base of his big toe bone! So, June brought us our first cast.

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Funny story- every time the x-ray tech would take an image, Brady would turn to us, pose, and smile. I’m not sure what kind of pictures he thought we were trying to get, but the tech said she felt like it was a magazine shoot!

Brady was excited about getting a RED cast. He asked about 12,000 questions during the process. The PA who did his cast was quite, um, “entertained” (annoyed) by him! I thought he was a champ during the whole thing.

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On June 24th, Chris and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. I have to brag about the thoughtful gift he got me. I have always LOVED crème brulee and wished I could make it at home. For our anniversary, Chris surprised me with a cookbook from a restaurant I had visited on a girls weekend in Greenville, SC. I thought that was pretty thoughtful, and then I saw the rest of the gift. He pointed out a crème brulee recipe in the cookbook and gave me the ramekins, and a torch to make my own. He had also gone to the store to buy all the ingredients. He knows me so well! I think I will keep him.

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We ended the month with a special Brady/Mommy date day. We spent the afternoon at the Science Museum and saw a 3D Dinosaur movie together and had lunch downtown. He was the perfect date!

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Hopefully the rest of the summer will continue to be a perfect mix of travel & adventure and family time & lazy days.

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Thank goodness for waterproof casts!

 

 

 

Brady-Boo is 4!

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Our sweet Brady is turning 4. It’s amazing how much he has seen and accomplished in his short life. He’s lived in 3 different states and visited at least 10! He’s gone from a shy, momma’s boy-baby, to a funny, adventurous little man.

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He loves exploring, analyzing and building. He takes everything literally and holds you to every promise you make. He’s a stickler for “following the rules” (especially if he notices his little brother breaking them.)

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Brady dislikes too much attention, thunder, and friends who don’t share or “act grumpy.” It should be mentioned that he himself can be quite the grump when he doesn’t get enough sleep! He’s also a perfectionist and hates to make mistakes.

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His favorite days are spent in water and he’s pretty fearless around it. He loves to play with Nolan and can be quite the bossy big brother when he needs to be.

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When I did a little interview with Brady, here’s how he answered…
Q:What’s your favorite food?
A: Hot Dogs!
Q: Who’s your best friend?
A: Ava (from preschool)
Q: What’s your favorite show?
A: Paw Patrol (sang the theme song)
Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: Dusty! (Planes Fire and Rescue)
Q: What’s your favorite animal?
A: A T-Rex. (Naturally)
Q: What’s your favorite color?
A: Red. (Tells us that about 10 times a day)
Q: What’s your favorite sport?
A: Golf! (Daddy’s heart melted)
Q:What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Um, a firefighter AND a paleontologist.

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We love Brady’s innocent nature and wish we could keep him this age forever. His love of books, space, airplanes, dinosaurs, and trains make him just about the cutest 4 year old ever.
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Happy birthday B-Man! We love you to the moon and back, sweet boy!

RAWR! Brady turns 4!

We had a fabulous time celebrating Brady today! While he doesn’t officially turn 4 until June 21st, we decided to have his party a little early because we are doing a lot of traveling later in the month. Our little dino-lover had a dinosaur theme complete with a (Publix!) dinosaur cake, a triceratops piñata, and lots of dinosaur presents from his friends. It was a perfect day spent with friends and family-Brady is so blessed to have so many people who love him! Here are some of my favorite pictures from the party.

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Good friends, perfect weather, water balloons, slip-n-slide, pool, and candy- being 4 is pretty awesome!

Brady’s First Day of Pre-School

Today was Brady’s first day of 3 year old Pre-School. This year he will go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 9:15-1:15. He was so excited about playing with new friends and seeing his teacher, “Miss Cwad-yah” (Miss Claudia.) He specifically requested a special lunch for his lunch box…a bologna sandwich, grapes, and a muffin (a cupcake.) He couldn’t wait to wear his new Gator backpack and his “Vroom Vroom” shirt. I love that he was so brave and ready to take on a new school year!

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Breakfast with Nolan on the 1st day of school

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A little first day gift for “Miss Cwad-yah.”

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His first lunch box!!

I couldn’t help but think how cool it was that over 11 years ago Chris and I met at UF and now, here we are with a 3 year old going to school with his Gator backpack and an Orange and Blue cupcake in his lunchbox!!!

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Nolan fit right in…and couldn’t quite understand why he couldn’t stay and play!

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Had to sneak one picture after we walked away!

Yay for our big boy!

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B-Man is Three!

Our big man, my first love, is 3. Three is the beginning of “big boy” world- no more diapers, constantly asking “why?”, off to real pre-school, and so much more. I just wanted to take the time to write down some memories of my sweet lil’ guy so I’ll always remember him at this age.

Brady loves all things golf. Putting around at Dick’s Sporting Goods with daddy is about the best thing in the world.

His favorite foods are hot dogs, popcorn, and fruit (all of which he requested for his birthday party.)

He loves Disney Junior and would watch Mickey Mouse all hours of the day…if I let him.

He’s fearless around water. Since he was a baby he has always wanted to dunk his head under and doesn’t understand why we won’t let him go to the deep end of a pool.

He loves music. From singing nursery rhymes, to jamming out to Disney songs, to our nightly dance parties with the “Happy” song, the kid just loves music.

He always wants to do things himself. He’s stubborn, short tempered, and easily frustrated, and always refuses help when trying to accomplish a task. (Gets those traits from daddy.)

He’s checked out almost every book about trains that the library has. Airplanes and tractors are pretty cool too, but trains are where it’s at.

He’s totally daddy’s sidekick. When it’s time to mow the yard, he’s got his bubble mower right there. When Chris has to fix something, Brady has his tools too. If daddy gets the motorcycle out, he’s right there waiting to honk the horn.

He loves his little brother so much. They are absolutely best friends. {Melts this momma’s heart.}

He pronounces his own name as Brady Chri-a-pher Miff (Brady Christopher Smith)

He still snuggles with mommy- gives hugs, plays with my hair, and asks for kisses on his “boo boos.”

Brady has such a sweet, soulful disposition. He studies people and is always thinking. He’s tender hearted and a little praise goes a long way. One of my favorite things he says is, “I make you happy!” when he does something that makes us smile.

Happy Birthday Brady-Boo. You make us so, so, happy.

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