Our Journey…

Today Timehop reminded me that exactly 5 years ago we announced that we were leaving our Florida life behind and heading to Pennsylvania to start a new adventure. I remember writing that post with such a mix of excitement and anxiousness. We were about to leave behind friends and family that we loved and jobs and a home that were familiar and comfortable. You couldn’t make a bigger transition than Clearwater, Florida to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But, we had no idea how much life would change!wp-1490660191843.jpgwp-1490660191832.jpg

Two weeks after arriving in our new town of Lititz that summer, we found out we were pregnant with Baby #2. Surprise! It was terribly inconvenient timing. We were learning our new surroundings, trying to adjust to a life where we knew NO ONE, and Chris had just started a new job where he traveled. Often. wp-1490660191846.jpg

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Our time in PA was a bit of a blur when I think about it. I remember being pregnant, having a newborn, going to playdates with my awesome mommy group I found (by the grace of God), snow, and Amish buggies. Looking back, we actually fit quite a bit into that not quite 2 years we were there. We took lots of trips and made the most of our crazy situation. (And loved the heck out of that surprise Pennsylvania souvenir baby!)25wp-1490660191788.jpgDSC_0419

Then Chris got wind of a position in what he described as his “dream territory” in North Carolina. We had had many talks in our marriage where Chris told me he pictured himself living in North Carolina. It seemed ridiculous to up and move again with a 2 year old and not quite 1 year old, but I guess I figured, what the heck?!  I made him promise, that was it. No more moving after that! (HA.)wpid-storageemulated0DCIMCamera2014-03-11-14.45.39.png.png

So, we fell in love with our new town of Raleigh. We knew for sure that’s where we pictured our family staying. We had the food of the South, proximity to mountains and beaches, and were slightly closer to family. It totally made sense to build our “forever home” and put down some roots. wp-1490660191820.jpgwp-1490660191712.jpg

Again, we made the most of those 2 and a half years.  We took road trips, visited the mountains, loved the change of seasons, and dreamed of buying a summer home in the Outer Banks one day.

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THEN, Chris heard of a position at a company that he described as his “dream company to work for.” This particular job was located in North Florida (2 hours from my dad & stepmom and an hour and a half from the rest of my family). It just so happened that we had had little talks where we mentioned that we could never see ourselves leaving Raleigh unless it was for a company like that in an area that would bring us close to family. Sooo…

And now, here we are. I never dreamed our journey would circle us back to Florida. Dude, life is full of surprises. Just when I think I have a grasp on what to expect or how to plan, God’s like, “You’re cute. I got this.”20161010_16012520161016_153554(0)

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So in case anyone is counting, our kids have visited at least 10 states and have lived in 3. We’ve created countless memories and never have to look back and wonder “what if” when it comes to new opportunities. I’m sure ours is a journey that many people might find overwhelming or possibly crazy, but it’s ours. Can’t wait to see where we’ll be in another 5 years! #OurBlessedAdventures

Hurricane Matthew

Our first few months back in Florida have been quite adventurous. Between the chaos of all that goes along with a move, starting new jobs, beginning new schools, throwing in a couple hurricanes really spiced things up! Thankfully our new home did not sustain damage during either of the hurricanes, but we did have lots of time together (without power!) and made some fun memories in spite of what was a scary situation.

 

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Look at all that fun Chris was having!

 

We spent a big chunk of our time off of school celebrating “Dinosaur Day!” All things dinosaurs took place on this day. From Dinosaur Cookies to seeing how far we could throw toy dinosaurs, we did it.

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Dinosaur day was quite exhausting. (I’m obsessed with sleeping pics of my kids.)

 

Once the roads were good enough to drive on, we got out of the house as much as we could (We were running low on food and were without power a few days.)

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God bless restaurant employees who fed us poor, stir-crazy, hungry people.

A few days after the storm the boys and I headed to the beach to check out the damage… Nothing like a hurricane to make you realize how small you are in the world and how powerful Mother Nature can be.

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The ocean was ANGRY that day. So much foam!

 

 

Back in Florida!

Remember when us Smiths moved to Raleigh, built our dream home, and decided we would stay forever? Yeaaaa, about that. We freakin’ loved North Carolina. In fact we were 99.9% sure we would never leave. We made great friends, loved the city and proximity to mountains and beaches, and really felt at home there. The only thing missing was family. And, that’s a big one. Chris and I always said we knew we would stay put in Raleigh unless something huge came along that could potentially bring us closer to family.

We always sort of half joked that it would take the perfect job in the perfect location to make us move again. We didn’t want to just move anywhere, we wanted to have family super close to make it worth our while. We said the perfect job would have to be in North Florida or South Georgia for it to make sense for Chris to leave his position at a company he’d been with for 11 years. So, when a company that Chris has admired for a long time came to him to let him know they had an opening in their North Florida/South Georgia territory, it completely caught us off guard. We didn’t think that kind of opportunity existed. We felt like he had to at least apply. We said if it was meant to be, it would happen.

As Chris got further and further into the interview process it began to sink in that this might actually be happening. Chris began to fall in love with the company and realized how much he really wanted the job. However, the idea of moving again seemed daunting and the reality that we may be leaving the life we had created in North Carolina was super bittersweet. By the time Chris found out he got the job, it was a surreal feeling of “YAY!” and “what did we just do?!” All along we just kept reminding ourselves that this was God’s plan. This job presented itself for a reason. Not only was Chris about to embark on an exciting new career opportunity that was such a perfect fit for him, the job was located right smack in the middle of my mom and dad. We are closer to Chris’s aunt and brother, my extended family, our old friends, and of course, Gator games!

Our journey back to Florida has been a whirlwind of selling our house, quickly buying a new one, saying good-bye to friends, packing, cleaning, staying in a hotel for a week (with the kids and pets), paperwork, phone calls, more cleaning, unpacking, starting a new job, and getting settled into our new life. In the short term, it’s hectic and crazy. In the long term, Chris is beyond happy with his new position, our kids get to spend time with family whenever we want, and our decision to move back to Florida is turning out to be so great.

I’m slowly starting to make my mark on our new house and it’s beginning to feel like home. We’re loving that we are super close to the beach and there is GATOR stuff everywhere!! The kids are enrolled in their new schools and I’m working on applying to be a substitute teacher for our county (side note: miraculously I still have 2 years left on my Florida teaching certificate so I can go back to teaching full time sometime soon!) I’m sure I’ll be posting more once we get the house finished, but in the meantime, here’s some pictures of the last month of moving fun.

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Nolan on the morning that the movers came to pack up our Raleigh house. He was all, “nope.”

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Thankfully Chris was able to perk him up with a quick apple bite.

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I snapped this pic from our neighbor’s house. I was in full panic mode looking over like, “what have we gotten ourselves into again?”

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Kissing NC goodbye!

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The definition of a bittersweet photo for me. The last picture of the boys on our front steps. So sad to leave, but ready for our next adventure.

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Our last night in Raleigh was in a hotel. Brady spent the evening writing “notes” to all his friends he was leaving behind. (Tear!!!)

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Rise and shine! Who’s ready to hit the road for Florida?!!! Guys?

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Our first night in Florida- had to get a flip flop cookie to commemorate it!

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Once we got to Florida we had a week in a hotel before we closed on our new house. We did a bunch of stalker drive by’s of the new house before we could get in.

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This is what a week of living in a hotel with 2 boys, a dog, and a cat, does to you.

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The boys went to stay with Grandma and Aunt Claudia for a couple days while Chris and I closed on the house and started the cleaning and unpacking process. Such a lifesaver! (and perk to being close to family again!!)

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Our final walk thru of our Florida home

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We were those people who brought their dog to closing. He sat like a statue in the corner for an hour and a half.

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We are moving pros by now. We know to have solo cups and screw top wine on hand for when you can’t find your wine opener. Now, where’s that coffee maker….

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A 3 and 5 year old boy are excellent unpacking helpers.

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Brady is officially going to start Kindergarten (again)!

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Coffee maker is found! Enjoying the new backyard view 🙂

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Oh hey, Florida. How I missed you!

We don’t quite feel like we are done with North Carolina. We are sure we will be vacationing there as much as possible and hopefully one day have a second home or retire there. That time in our life will always have such a special place in our hearts, but this new chapter in Florida is looking pretty good so far! Stay tuned…