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!
Well, it wasn’t the birthday Nolan had planned for, but it was still pretty special. Our littlest man turned 7 right in the middle of a world wide pandemic. He had great dreams of celebrating this day with friends and family at Top Golf and showing off his driving skills to everyone. Instead, he had a virtual Zoom birthday party with family singing and watching him open presents. The whole neighborhood got together and did a drive by parade in his honor. He even got to pick his favorite foods to eat all day- tacos, grilled cheese and pancakes, of course.
It is so hard for me to believe it has been 7 years since that Spring day that Nolan was born in the middle of Amish country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In some ways it seems like just yesterday, and in other ways, it seems life 2 different lifetimes ago. Afterall, he has now lived in 3 states, 4 homes and gone to 3 different schools.
Nolan has always brought us so much laughter and “OMG, imagine what he’ll be like in college” moments. He pushes us to our breaking points on most days, but totally redeems himself with his quick wit and tender heart. His favorite thing in the world is to play any kind of ball with his daddy. He loves to compete, win, and is still working on being a good sport. He cannot wait for this Coronavirus to be over so he can get back to playing soccer and having sports on T.V.
He melts his mommy with his perfectly timed “do you want to snuggle?” moments. His bed is full of his “puppets” and blankies and he is very particular about which ones go where. He is a perfectionist and overachiever. He strives to the be the best at school, sports, and anything we can turn into a competition. If he can put that drive to good use, he’ll go very far in life.
He is such a good boy and stinker all at once. This one is full of charm. We love you SO much Bubba! Our lives are more fun with you in it.
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…
Now time to enjoy summer!!!
Just wanted to do a quick recap of all the ways we celebrated our Bubba turning 5. He is so loved and was celebrated by so many. He had a class party, a special family and friends day on his actual birthday, and a big American Ninja Warrior party with some of our favorite people. He loved every minute of it!
Celebrating with his sweet Pre-K class…
Last night of being 4…
Special lunch with just mommy and daddy…
At his favorite place, Rebounderz, with some of his friends…
Picking out his birthday present…new golf clubs!
Partying with friends and family, Ninja Warrior style!
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!!!
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!
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.
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…
Here is how the boys’ room looks now!
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!
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!
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…
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’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!
Here’s hoping for a great school year where the boys will continue to grow and learn!
Our sweet Bubba is 4. As always, this doesn’t seem possible. I loved 3 year old Nolie!! How did that go by so fast??
Over the last year, Nolan has grown so much- physically (he’s still our big boy!), emotionally (he still experiences all emotions at about a 10 every day) and academically (little man now knows his whole alphabet and is rocking pre-school!)
It’s no secret that Nolan gives us a run for our money. If he can find an opportunity to challenge us or argue with us about something, he will take it. He’s mischievous and gets a certain joy out of driving us a little bonkers.
Nolan has the most extreme range of emotions I’ve ever seen. He is either over the top excited and crazy, or dramatically sad and devastated. The in between times are rare, but at least he’s living life with full gusto.
Nolan is obsessed with trains, music, food, his blankie, and anything with sprinkles. He dictates what songs we listen to on the radio and insists on being “the singer” of the car. He loves to break it down and is always up for a dance party…especially when it comes to anything by Jack Johnson or Jimmy Buffett. (Cheeseburger in Paradise is his current jam.)
Despite all his energy and enthusiasm, he is surprisingly shy and full of anxiety in new situations. He relies heavily on the his big brother for courage and pep talks.
Nolie is one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met. His one liners and ability to make you laugh (especially when you are mad at him or scolding him) is so impressive. His charm will take him far in life.
We can’t wait to see what kind of big kid Nolan will be. He constantly amazes us with how smart and thoughtful he can be. His memory and attention to details surprises us all the time.
Happy birthday sweet boy. You are so loved and a blessing to us all!
Nolan’s Exit Interview…
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!
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.
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!
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!