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.
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!
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.
Look at that sweet face. I can’t believe that face is 7!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Not everyone is a fan of Valentine’s Day. I get it. It’s cheesy and overly marketed. If you’re single, it’s just plain annoying. If you’re married, it can seem like a chore. Lots of people just prefer to pretend Valentine’s Day doesn’t exist.
I am not one of those people.
I’m a lover of all things shiny, fuzzy, sugary, flowery, and mushy. This holiday is totally in my wheelhouse. Gaudy decorations and cards? Check! An excuse to eat high calorie foods? Check! A reason to wear matching pink and red outfits with my kids? Check! Girly, corny, big fat love fest? I’m here for all of it.
Even when I was single, my girlfriends and I used Valentine’s Day as a day to get together, eat, drink, and commiserate about stupid guys. And I did it all while wearing a ridiculous red LOVE shirt.
So here’s how we spent our Valentine’s day as a family…
I don’t need a gift on Valentine’s Day, but doughnuts and flowers are a requirement. Also, I’m not above buying them for myself.
Extra bonus points if the doughnuts are heart shaped.
Our chalk wall next to the boy’s room. All the corniness!
I may have a sink full of dirty dishes most of the time, but darn it if my kids aren’t getting a special Valentine’s day breakfast every year! I can’t be good at everything! 😉
You guys I actually attempted to form these cinnamon rolls into hearts. I failed. Just like I did last year. Maybe next year!
Mine and Chris’s Valentines for each other. We’re ridiculous.
Every year Chris and I pass a book back and forth taking turns writing a top 10 list for reasons we love the other person. I know, so cheesy. This was his #2 for me this year. It’s not NOT true.
Nolan is obsessed with football this year. These were his Valentines for his class.
Ready to taste test.
Brady is currently obsessed with Star Wars so his cards included a mini lightsabre and Star Wars gummies.
Of course Brady and to check and re-check his cards before distribution.
Gah! My loves!
I got to have a quick Starbucks date with Chris once we dropped the kids off at school. Of course I ordered the featured Valentine’s drink. Duh.
Brady’s sweet Valentine writing. I love his heart!
Even if you’re not a Valentine’s person, hopefully the day brought you some love and time with the ones you care about the most. And if nothing else, hope you got a heart shaped doughnut.
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!
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.
Brady is on the top bunk because OMG Nolan can’t be trusted up there.
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!
Love their little rockers that my Grandma bought them!
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!
The holidays with a 4 and 6 year old boy have got to be just about the sweetest thing ever. Yes, life is busy and chaotic, but there’s something about a child fully believing in the magic of Christmas that makes you want to slow down and enjoy every little moment. I love all the traditions that we’ve created with the boys that they now have begun to remember and look forward to. I love that we are now closer to extended family so we can share these moments with them. I even have started to love that freakin’ Elf on the Shelf. (Well, I love how much my kids love it!) Here are some pictures from the last month of all our festivities and adventures.
Decorating- this took forever this year…especially with the kids “helping.”
Chris’s handiwork on the fireplace looked so pretty with Christmas decorations.
My aunt gave me this hutch this year and it was my favorite spot during the holidays because of how pretty the Nativity looked on it!
Under the Christmas tree- any cat’s favorite spot.
Watching Rudolph, decorating the tree, reading Christmas books- all the holiday magic at once.
Putting up our Gator ornaments in the dining room. Look how nicely I ironed our table cloth. Ha!
That’s it. Stare at the T.V. while putting on ornaments. No big deal…I’m going to re-arrange them all when you go to bed anyways!
The Elf…man, did my kids love looking for her every morning.
Picking out our Christmas tree at our church tree lot.
Nolan’s first time on a horse at our neighborhood’s annual Winter Fest.
Neighborhood’s Winter Fest…Brady’s face! lol
Our family’s Christmas party at my Aunt Claudia’s beach condo.
Brady hard at work helping to build a sandman.
Nolan focusing so hard to paint our thank you cards for our annual St. Jude fundraiser.
Making Christmas cards for classmates. This was the first year Nolan could write his name on all the cards!
It’s almost the end of November. What a perfect time to blog about Halloween. Oops, better late than never.
This year was an extra fun time for celebrating Halloween. The kids really get it, they enjoy dressing up, and they have no fear of going up to strangers and begging for candy. I am enjoying these last few years of the cutesy, crafty, sweet moments of pre-school and early Elementary school. Nolan had a Trunk or Treat event at his school and Brady’s grade did fun “Fall Crafts” that I got to help out with. Both kids had opportunities to wear costumes several times- at school, our neighborhood Fall Fest, and trick or treating. We went to a Pumpkin Patch/crop maze, painted pumpkins, and had friends over on Halloween night for a little party. Here’s some pictures from our favorite moments this October…
At our neighborhood costume contest.
Our trunk for Nolan’s Trunk or Treat event at pre-school.