Acadia National Park

After about a year of living in Maine, we finally got the opportunity to make a trip up to Acadia. Brady had been saving money in our family adventure fund since we moved up here in hopes of visiting Acadia. From where we live in Portland, it is about a 3 hour drive- perfectly doable for a nice weekend trip! We heard many people’s stories about how absolutely bonkers Acadia gets in the summer, so we lucked out by finding a time to go right before peak season started. Mid May was the perfect time to check it out. Beautiful weather without the crazy crowds of summer. And, we were able to book a beautiful resort in downtown Bar Harbor for a deeply discounted rate. We checked out Cadillac Mountain, Jordan’s Pond, Thunder Hole, Sandy Beach, Bass Harbor Lighthouse and lots of other cool spots in the park. We can’t wait to go back again!

Brady is 11!

It happened again- our boy is a year older. Brady is such a light in this sometimes very dark world. His curiosity, his always spinning wheels, and his even keeled nature make him such a one of a kind kid. At 11, he loves all things dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. He pours through books faster than I can keep up- we are constantly at the library stuffing our tote bag full for him. He is often distracted and in his own head thinking of new inventions and analyzing the way things work. He is fearless and has tried all kinds of new activities this year- baseball, skiing, trumpet… He is kind and gets along with everyone he meets. We couldn’t have asked for a better 11 year old. He is so excited for middle school and growing up. We secretly wish we could keep him this age forever. We love you Brady-boo!

Spring Break(s) 2022!

So one thing that is new to us here in Maine is having both a February and April week off of school. I guess they assume all Mainers are ready for a break from the cold come February. And, let’s get honest, it’s still cold in April so many people need to get away again then! We did a big Florida road trip in February and had a nice stay-cation in April.

We made the 2 day journey down South with the kids and the dog. It was a loooong drive, but we did get to see Grandpa and Nana for a night before we made our way to Universal Studios. (Sailor spent her vacation with them!) During our trip we also got to visit with Aunt Kim, Uncle Esteban, Aunt Gift, Chloe, Grandma, Aunt Claudia, and our friends Darrah and Ryley.

The boys loved the hotel at Universal. One of their favorite things was the pool and restaurant! But, the biggest reason we were there was to finally see the Jurassic Park world and ride the Velocicoaster. Brady was SO excited. We also loved getting to see the Harry Potter World. It was ridiculously crowded but we packed a lot in. We even got to check out the new Volcano Bay water park. It was snowing back home while we were floating down a lazy river!

We kicked off April break by celebrating Easter just the 4 of us at home. Chris had to spend part of the break in Puerto Rico for work, so my dad flew up and spent the week with us. We did a fun stay-cation and did things like eat out at new restaurants, went to the trampoline park, went to the movies, and hit up a minor league baseball game. We even drove to Boston for the day and checked out their amazing science museum.

We are finally starting to see some signs of actual Spring. There are buds on trees, flowers blooming, and *slightly* warmer weather. We can’t wait for Summer!!!

First Christmas in Maine!

There is something about cold weather, snow, and winter activities that make Christmas time really feel special. Our first Christmas season in Maine did not disappoint when it came to those areas. We even were blessed with a white Christmas. We tried to take advantage of all that living up north has to offer during the holidays- ice skating, snowman making, sledding, and of course tons of yummy comfort food. The boys had such a great Christmas! Grandma was here for an extended visit, they got everything they asked for for Christmas, and they absolutely loved playing in the snow.

First Fall in Maine

There is nothing like Fall in New England. This season did not disappoint! Gorgeous foliage, crisp air, cider doughnuts, apple orchards and all the flannel. We got lucky and had a mild October and November this year. The temps were cool enough to feel like real fall, but not so cold that you couldn’t enjoy being outside.

We tried to take advantage of the beautiful scenery and weather by taking short trips to Ogunquit, ME and Portsmouth, NH. We picked an abundance of apples and made so many desserts. We took gorgeous drives to take in the views.

One thing that will make next Fall even better- the ability to walk and hike! Because, frustratingly, I have been in a walking boot since Labor Day and had foot surgery at the end of October. I am thankful we were able to squeeze in as much Fall fun as we did, but I know next year will be even better when I can do a little more.

Here’s some of the Fall 2021 fun…

First Summer in Maine

Well, we picked a good time of year to move to New England. Summertime is heavenly compared to the sweltering hot box of Florida. Not to say we didn’t have some super hot days up here (thanks a lot global warming!) that made us question our decision to buy a 121 year old house that lacks A.C., but I digress. Overall, we were loving our sweatshirts in the evenings with a side of fire pit. And, the cooler temperatures did not stop our boys from enjoying the backyard pool. It is the ultimate form of irony that we never had a house with a pool in all the years we lived in Florida.

We were pretty busy with unpacking and working on the house, but since the boys had a loooong extended summer break, we had lots of time to explore our new area. We also had several visits from friends and family. Most of our exploring was within a 15 minute radius of our house (there is so much to see here!!!) but we did squeeze in a quick trip to see Burlington, Vermont.

Most of the pictures from our first summer in Maine have a common theme- water and food! Can’t wait for summer to come back around to do some more exploring!

Florida to Maine: Smith Family on the Move (Again!)

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.

What happens when you get to the hotel after being cooped up in a car for 14 hours…

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!

Smith Family Update…better late than never

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.

Brady-boo is 7!

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Look at that sweet face. I can’t believe that face is 7!

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This boy is full of curiosity and adventure. He is a believer in magic and “The Force.” His silliness and joyful heart are contagious. He makes friends everywhere he goes and will talk a stranger’s ear off.  He insists on fairness and following the rules.

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Even though the years are going by so fast, and he has matured in many ways, we are so blessed that Brady has maintained his innocent sweetness. He always looks for good in people. He reminds us of the bright side.

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This year Brady fell in love with reading and can often be found with his nose in a book. We find flashlights in his bed from his attempts to stay up late reading. This was also the year of STAR WARS for Brady. You can quiz him on any bit of Luke/Leia/Vader trivia and he will school you. He spends half his days practicing his light saber moves.

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Brady loves to work on projects. Our house is filled with his drawings, lists, design plans, and ideas. His “inventions” have cost me a small fortune in scotch tape, plastic cups, and toilet paper rolls.

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Brady is a perfectionist and can’t stand to make a mistake. His Lego structures are always symmetrical and he cannot walk away from them until they are complete. He is fearless and is always up to try new things. He is his brother’s protector and often takes on the role of the third parent for him.

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We are so blessed that Brady is ours. He reminds us of what is important in life. Here’s to lucky number SEVEN!

Happy birthday, Brady-boo! You are so, so loved. It’s a better place since you came along!

 

Nolan turns 5… Gulp!

 

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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.

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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.


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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!!!

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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.

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Here’s Nolan’s annual birthday interview. The last 45 seconds or so are my favorite. He’s a hoot!