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!
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.
Welp. Spring Break wasn’t exactly as planned. Nothing, anywhere, is as planned these days. We had planned to tag along with Chris, for his work trip to Hilton Head, like we’ve done the past two years. We had a cute Airbnb rented with a hot tub and fenced in yard for the kids and dog. We planned on bringing our bikes and riding to the beach every day and eating She Crab Soup at our favorite restaurants. Instead…we sheltered in place! Once the news of the Coronavirus became more and more serious, Chris’s company halted all travel. We canceled our trip and made the most of our time together at home. In fact, we are still trying to make the most of our time together at home and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Here’s how we passed the time…keep in mind this was technically “Spring Break” so no homeschooling of any kind took place! Also, this was before we all really got serious about staying away from all other people so at the beginning of break we still had some normalcy of seeing friends, family and going to regular activities. That quickly changed, didn’t it? Ah, the good old days!
The first Sunday of break we went to Daytona to see my cousin’s band play and have lunch with my family. We were shocked how packed the beach was.
I love how nature is still doing it’s thing. Things are blooming and growing and carrying on as usual. I love Spring.
After watching many episodes of Lego Masters the boys were inspired to create Lego building competitions of their own.
We busted out the kinetic sand for more building activities.
Before everything got too crazy, we got in a visit to the new Duck Donuts by us. Definitely a highlight of Spring Break for me!
Before his Dojo shut down, Brady got to test for his first yellow stripe in Taekwondo. He did awesome and was so proud to finally go up a level. I’m glad he got the chance to do that before the studio shut down for COVID-19.
We also got one chilly visit to the neighborhood pool before it was shut down.
One trip to the beach before they shut down public parking…
One of the most exciting parts of break was throwing Nolan’s stuffed animal, Fin, a birthday party. It was random, but a welcomed distraction.
Lots of arts and crafts these days…
And lots of time outside…
Overall, we feel very lucky to be healthy and together during these weird times. Hopefully by this time next year, we can look back on this Spring Break as a distant, strange memory and we are able to head back to Hilton Head like we had planned.
We had a heck of a summer break this year. One of the best perks of my job as a teacher is getting to have summers off to spend with our boys. The school year is so structured and busy, so the lazy days of summer are so refreshing. This summer we had a nice balance of days spent relaxing and playing around the house and travel days on the go.
We started the summer with a Memorial Day weekend in Georgia. The boys got to visit with their great-grandparents and see their new baby horse. Brady was beyond smitten!
We then headed to Savannah for a quick visit on our way home.
We are always busy celebrating birthdays every summer. This year we celebrated Brady’s with a trip to Disney to live out his Star Wars dreams. We also had a family party at Aunt Claudia’s.
Chris and I both celebrated birthdays this summer as well. We never have a shortage of food on our birthdays!
We had lots of days that consisted of making giant messes in the house or going to the pool/beach/splash park/movies.
In July we had our annual Christmas in July day. We didn’t tell the kids we were planning it, so it was fun to see their reaction in the morning when they woke up to a Christmas tree in the dining room in the middle of summer!
The boys got to do a few camp weeks during summer as well. They did Vacation Bible School, an Art STEM class, and sports camp when they were staying with Grandpa and Nana.
They had a nice visit with Grandpa and Nana while Chris and I went to Nova Scotia (blog post on that soon!)
We did our yearly trip to Aunt Claudia’s in Daytona while Chris was at his sales meeting in Seattle. We always have fun at the beach and visiting the Marine Science center.
One of our other fun trips was a stay in Merritt Island with our college friends. The boys had a blast visiting with the other kids and Brady checked off one of his bucket list items by going to Kennedy Space Center.
While I am usually happy to get back to the structure of work and school, it is always sad to see summer end. I so love this time with my boys…until next summer!
We have lived back in Florida for about 3 years now and our kids have yet to go to Disney. The last time we had gone was when they were 4 and 2 so they barely even remembered it. We decided that instead of big birthday parties this year, we would buy a 3 day Disney pass. The fun part was that we didn’t tell them! We got up super early one morning and put the boys in the car, still in their jammies. We told them that we were going to a surprise place. As we approached Orlando, one of them guessed, “Are we in Michigan?!”
Um, no. But they finally got it as we started seeing more signs!
For our first day of our passes, for Nolan’s birthday, we went to Magic Kingdom. Chris’s Aunt and Uncle joined us as well. The boys were not sure what to think of Disney. It was a lot to take in! We ended up having so much fun and realized what a roller coaster junkie Brady is. He loved Space Mountain! Nolan loved the more low key rides like Pirates of the Caribbean. He also loved all of the snacks and goodies all around the park.
For our next two days of our passes, for Brady’s birthday, we went to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. It was SO hot and SO crowed (hello June!), but we made the most of it. I really liked the animals at Animal Kingdom and Brady really liked riding Everest. One of the coolest parts was the Dino Dig area. I got completely soaked on the Rapids ride so that helped keep me cool in the afternoon!
Cooling towels and fans were our saviors!
We went to Hollywood Studios to let Brady live out his dream of doing Jedi Training. It was so cute to see how seriously he took it! And the best part was when Darth Vader told Brady that he could tell the force was strong in him!
Disney was the perfect place to celebrate the boys’ birthdays this year- and more fun for me than planning a party! Maybe we’ll convince them to do this again next year!
Another school year has flown by. Nolan completed his first year of Elementary School and Brady finished his last year of primary grades. Next year Nolie will be a big 1st grader and Brady will be entering a new world of Standardized tests and real letter grades in 3rd. Both boys had a positive school year and came more out of their shells. Brady really embraced his love for reading and writing (swoon!) and Nolan became obsessed with all things math. They developed sweet friendships and grew in confidence. And, as evidenced by these pictures, they both grew like weeds!
Brady said his favorite part of second grade was “Market Day” and art class and Nolan said his favorite part of Kindergarten was P.E. and recess (shocker!) Here are some special moments from the school year…
First day riding the school bus!
Brady received the “Leader of the Pack” award for the 3rd year in a row. This year his classmates voted for him.
We have made our way through a dreary and cool (albeit not compared to the North!) January. Valentine’s Day is always a fun day to look forward to because it is full of everything pink and sparkly and sweet. I love any excuse to have a celebration and themed activities, so I hope my kids look back on these little moments fondly. Here are some pictures from our Valentine’s Day!
We worked hard on our Valentine cards and boxes for school. Nolan went with sports themed cards and Brady did Star Wars (again!)
I made a big batch of strawberry play-doh for my class Valentine party but the boys got to have some too. They played with this for a long time!
Brady got the cutest Valentine from a sweet girl that he plays with at the playground every day. I love how she made it so perfect for him!
I tried so hard to get a cute picture of the boys on Valentine’s Day and this was the best I could do. Notice Nolan sticking his finger into Brady’s throat!
Another classic Nolan picture moment!
I was so lucky to have off work on Valentine’s Day and be able to surprise the kids at school at lunchtime. Not sure if they were happy to see me or the smoothies I brought them!
Nothing says love like a heart shaped ham sandwich in a lunchbox.
You haven’t lived life until you’ve eaten lunch at the Kindergarten table. It’s always fun to see my sweet boys at school.
We decided to do a family dinner out for Valentine’s day this year. The kids were happy because they got pizza.
I love Brady’s mouthful of food in this picture!
Not sure why Nolan insisted on this pose, but I went with it!
My funny Valentine. But really, is there a more real life picture of Valentine’s Day on year #16 that you’ve been celebrating together? In our P.J.’s by 7:30 and waiting for the kids to wind down so we can drink champagne…
Flowers, pretty alcohol and fluffy animal cards- Chris knows how to keep me happy on Valentine’s Day.
He also surprised me with Elton John concert tickets!!! Music is my love language!
Cheers to the cheesiest Hallmark holiday! I’m here for all of it! (well maybe not the dirty socks in the background!)
This Christmas season was busier than ever. Between school functions, church performances, work events, and celebrating the holidays with family, Christmastime flew by. I managed to get some photographs to help us remember all of the fun and craziness!
Fun times at the Donuts with Santa event put on by the St. Augustine Moms Blog.
This was my first picture ever with both boys smiling on Santa’s lap!!! (Nolan is finally not afraid!) They asked him for Star Wars Legos and a Nerf football.
We love Aunt Claudia’s annual Christmas party at the beach!
We always love to make it down to downtown St. Augustine to check out the Christmas lights!
We somehow managed to fit in Christmas cookie decorating!
Brady was SO excited to get a letter in the mail from Santa!
We did a quick trip to Savannah before Christmas and had so much fun going to see the Christmas performance at the Savannah theater downtown with Grandpa and Nana. We also did our annual visit to the Botanical gardens to check out the beautiful Christmas lights.
Our Christmas Eve and Christmas were relaxing. We went to to church and ordered pizzas with my mom and Aunt Claudia. We stayed in our jammies all Christmas day. It was so fun to see the kids soaking up the Christmas magic!
After Christmas we went on a road trip to the Atlanta area to visit Chris’s grandparents.
Brady (and Sailor!) loved Grandaddy’s horses.
The boys and their Great Granny (and her 3 puppies!)
Brady fully embraced his great grandparents country cowboy vibe. We had to buy him boots and a cowboy hat and he wouldn’t take them off!
We had a great Christmas season and are looking forward to a fun new year!
We love Fall around here. It signifies the start of the holiday season and if we’re lucky, we get a break from the crazy Florida heat. Plus, the boys are at the age where they LOVE Halloween! This year we did some new Fall crafts and celebrated with some of our favorite traditions. And of course, embraced The Force!
Nolan got to use his old Police costume for the Kindergarten Community Helper Parade. He was so cute!
We tried the blow dryer crayon method for our white pumpkins.
The kids were so excited about this Haunted House from Trader Joes!
Every year the kids want to carve a pumpkin, and every year they make Chris do all the work! Brady did agree to draw on a design idea.
That time I convinced Chris to dress as Princess Leia… Brady was not a fan!
The boys were allowed to wear costumes to school so Brady chose to go as Darth Vader and Nolan went as an American Ninja Warrior contestant.
Brady helping mommy make our annual spider sandwiches.
Ms. Carrie and I dressed for Trunk or Treat at work.
Our sweet little Bubba is 5. This birthday is a tough one. In my eyes he is still my squishy little baby who grunts and shakes his bassinet like a velociraptor, manages to get food in every crevice during meal time, and sucks his thumb while holding onto a strand of my hair. It’s hard to believe he’s now as big as his older brother and beginning to read! In some ways he’s that same Rolie Nolie from years ago- he is still loud and still crazy and still lights up the whole room with his smile. I hate that my baby is growing up so fast, but gosh he’s a joy to watch change and blossom.
This year was such a time of growth for Nolan. He’s grown in confidence and become his own little interesting person. He has conquered fears and tried new things. He loves school (this is a huge area of change!) and playing sports. He’s fiercely competitive and wants to win at everything! He obsessively memorizes every song on the Top 40 list on the radio. He’s surprisingly sensitive and affectionate. He is not above asking his mommy if she “wants to snuggle?” the minute he senses she may be frustrated with him. His charm and humor continue to get him by in life.
Nolan is beyond entertaining. The kid named his giant stuffed duckie “Finesse.” Who does that?! Each day he surprises us with his comedic timing, energy level, dramatic responses, and attention to details. He remembers everything and calls us out all the time. My favorite recent Nolan story…
Chris: You’re doing so great at golf, buddy!
Nolan: But I haven’t gotten a hole in one yet!
Chris: I bet you will soon. I bet by the time you’re 10 you’ll get one.
Nolan: But you haven’t gotten one and you’re THIRTY-SEVEN!!!
The kid is savage with a burn.
While it is bittersweet to watch Nolan grow up so quickly, we are so lucky to have such a cool little guy in our family. He’s the silliest little brother Brady could ask for. He gives Chris tons of new grey hairs, but is the best sports watching buddy. And, he is the perfect “forever baby” for me. Happy 5th birthday, little man! We love you so much and can’t wait to see how you rock your next trip around the sun.
Here’s Nolan’s annual birthday interview. The last 45 seconds or so are my favorite. He’s a hoot!