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

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…

 

 

 

 

The End of the School Year 2016

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

 

Winter Get-Aways

This winter has been surprisingly manageable. We’ve only had one weekend that gave us some cabin fever, but thankfully most of that crazy blizzard missed us (with the exception of a little snow and quite a bit of ice.) While we haven’t had to deal with extreme snowfall, it still gets a little dreary and boring in the winter. We find ourselves missing being able to play outside every day and let’s face it, wearing socks all the time isn’t this Florida girl’s cup of tea.

Thankfully we were able to break up some of the winter blah by taking two quick trips out of town. One was a tag-long work trip for Chris to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte and the other was a weekend get away to see the mountains in Boone.

Great Wolf Lodge was a much needed chance to get our bathing suits on and play without fear of freeeezing! The kids loved the arcade, bowling alley, and water park. They also had a blast in their own little wolf den, complete with bunk beds and their own T.V. (I’m telling you, these kids have got it so rough.) On this trip we learned that Brady is ridiculously fearless when it comes to really high water slides and Nolan is just cool with the really shallow kiddie pool area.

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My water baby in his glory.

 

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Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Boone. We wanted the boys to be able to play in the snow and check out the mountains in the winter. (And secretly we just wanted to go eat at some of our favorite restaurants.) The Boone/Blowing Rock area is quickly becoming one of our family’s favorite vacation spots and it’s awesome that the boys are becoming familiar with the area and making so many memories there.

Our first (and most important) stop when we got to town…Come Back Shack. Holy milkshakes!

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Traveling…I’m in it for the food.

Next stop, Grandfather Mountain.

 

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Cute lil’ mountain climbers!

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Family selfie before crossing the mile high swinging bridge.

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Brady was once again fearless on the mountain. He always wants to climb higher!

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Whatever you do, don’t look down. (MILE high!)

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first of all, he’s ridiculously handsome. second, he threw a snowball at my camera.

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Snowball fight!

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Sit on the side of this mountain. Don’t move. Don’t fall. Now, smile!

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The otters on the mountain really liked the boys!

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Ahhh those views. North Carolina rocks.

We also spent some time in Downtown Blowing Rock. One of the cutest little towns ever!

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More snowball fights!

 

 

 

 

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And, more eating. Like I said, we mostly travel for the food.

And Brady’s favorite part of the trip…the Jacuzzi tub in the hotel suite. Livin’ the life.

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I love our adventures, big and small. Anytime I can combine travel, food, and my sweet boys, I’m a happy girl. No winter blues here!

Fall in NC!

Oh hey, blog. Nice to see you again. No seriously, it’s been forever since I’ve written a post. Time to get back at it!

I thought I’d do a quick re-cap of some of our Fall shenanigans. There’s been lots of football watching, leaf gawking, travel, and enjoying cooler temps.

We try to get in the Fall spirit with a little bit of decorating. Some pumpkins, leaves, and of course a Gator shrine help us enjoy the season a little more.

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Grandma Dot’s Pumpkin Bread recipe is my favorite Fall decoration!

We’ve also been busy with school and soccer the last couple of months. Brady has loved school from day one, where Nolan took some getting used to. He liked the idea of school, but did NOT like mommy leaving. He has finally come around to the idea and now looks forward to it as much as Brady.

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A happy, post school, selfie!

Brady had his first school field trip this Fall- a trip to a pumpkin patch complete with a hayride, goats, and a bounce house.

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Brady’s Soccer Team…

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Go Lions! Brady is so darn cute out there and tries SO hard!

We recently took a trip to Blowing Rock, NC with my Aunt Claudia. She got the best condo for all of us right in Downtown. We were walking distance from restaurants, bars, shops, and a park. The leaves were spectacular along the parkway, the boys enjoyed going back to Tweetsie Railroad, and we had fun exploring Downtown Boone. We even got to check out some cool views of Appalachian State and are highly considering brainwashing our boys to make that their back up school (if they don’t get into UF of course!)

Downtown Blowing Rock…

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway…

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Exploring Downtown Boone and App State…

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One of the Boone Firefighters invited Brady into the station as we were walking past and let him get into all the trucks- so exciting for him!

Tweetsie Railroad…

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Halloween was super fun this year. Both boys really got into it and were pretty much the cutest dinosaurs ever. They got to trick or treat twice. Once at the park near our house and then again in our neighborhood. They enjoyed the candy, but really liked just hanging out in our driveway with a fire pit and our neighbors. (And the T.V. Chris set up so we could watch college football, of course.)

Pumpkin Decorating…Can you guess which is Nolan’s and which is Brady’s?

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All about the costumes…

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Trick-or-treat the Trail at White Deer Park…

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Halloween night at our house…

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Nolan demonstrating how Triceratops walked on 4 legs.

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He had the best time running up and “scaring” people with is ROAR!

 

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Brady teaching our neighbor Sophie how to pose like a T-Rex.

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So that’s our Fall so far. We’re looking forward to our first Thanksgiving in our new home and enjoying the last little bit of color on the trees. The days of playing outside without sweating or needing puffy jackets are numbered so we are trying to make the most of them! Happy Fall, y’all!

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August Adventures

Summer is coming to an end. We’ve wrapped up the last of our family travels and the boys’ backpacks are all set out on the table to start school next week. While I am looking forward to the structure and routine that school provides our day to day life, I’ll miss our carefree days of summer. We were lucky enough to get to tag along with Chris on several work trips, visit family, and have visits from lots of our friends. Most of all, I’ll miss spending the whole day with my little guys. I know I’m beyond blessed to have the opportunity to spend every day with them, and I’ve especially loved getting to see new places and go on “adventures” with them over the last few months.

Some of my favorite times with my boys were the small, silly moments when they were just all boy-sweet, innocent, and loving life! They wore super hero jammies to the mall, rode their toy dinosaurs around the house, and made me laugh all the time!

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The boys were super excited to have a visit from their Auntie Jill (my best friend!) We showed her around downtown Raleigh, all our favorite parks and took a day trip to Chapel Hill…where we had the best BLT’s of our lives! Brady gave it a big ol’ thumbs up- or is that a Donald Trump impression? Either way…

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One of Brady’s favorite trips was when we went to Hickory, NC for Chris’ work. Not only did the museum there have an aquarium (Nolan’s favorite!) but they had a remote controlled dinosaur exhibit (Brady’s favorite!)

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The boys also got their back to school haircuts. Have I mentioned how much Nolan HATES haircuts? It’s torture for all of us. But, we got it over with. These are the best pictures I got of their new do’s. Nolan is covered in a chocolate ice cream sample and Brady wanted me to get a picture “like this” so he could see what he looked like with his eyes closed. Sigh.

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We had a fun day at Wrightsville Beach as a family this month. It’s about 2 hours from the house (our closest beach). I just love how much our boys have become little water babies this summer!

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We also had a visit from our friends the Richards. It was awesome catching up with them and the boys loved hanging with their cute kiddos, Lynlee and Bennett!

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We made another trip down to Savannah this month as well. This time we toured Fort Pulaski with Grandpa and Nana. The boys loved hearing the big cannon firing demos. Nolan wasn’t quite sure if it was fireworks or what.

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It’s always fun when you’re taking a selfie on the second story of a big fort and you happen to see on the phone screen, in the background, one of your kiddos climbing over the super high wall of said fort. We were all, “cheeeese- AHHH!”

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From Savannah we headed to Charleston for a few days. We ate yummy food, walked around downtown, hit up some cool parks, and checked out the South Carolina Aquarium.

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Me and my love in Charleston!

I had to capture the boys on the way home from our last trip. We came home later in the evening and Brady slept the entire way. Nolan slept about half and then spent the rest of the time watching Pharrell sing “Happy” on repeat. So typical.

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The boys and I spent one of our last days of summer at one of our favorite places, Pullen Park. It’s right by downtown and we had fun riding the train, playing on the playground, and we can never leave without getting a Loco Pop.

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This has been a great summer. It was full of celebrations, travel, friends and family. We had big adventures and small moments that I’ll always treasure. The boys will never be 2 and 4 again, so I tried to soak up as much of their sweetness as possible. Boo for summer being over, but yay for Fall adventures to come!

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Sweet, lazy days of summer!

July Adventures

Is July seriously over? That went fast! It’s hard to believe we’re onto our last month of summer before the boys head back to pre-school. We had a fun month- it was a mix of relaxed summer days, travel, and visits from friends and family. Oh, and it was also the month of the big red cast.

Not that it slowed us down at all!

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It was also the month that Nolan showed us that yes, he is indeed in his Terrible 2’s. That delightful mix of sweet and crazy.

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We had a very All-American 4th of July weekend. We had sparklers, cookouts, fire pits, S’mores, time with neighbors, adult beverages, and of course, fireworks over the golf course.

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Chris had meetings in Virginia Beach, so we decided to keep him company and tag along. I’m always surprised at how much I love that area. The boys were obsessed with all the fighter jets going over the beach, and we enjoyed some awesome seafood and great views.

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And yea, that cast was very full of sand by the time it came off.

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We had a fun visit from our friends, the Hootens. It’s so cute to see our kiddos growing up and getting to know each other.

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Me and my sweet Goddaughter, Taylor!

After 3 weeks, Brady got his cast off. The bone did not heal completely, so he had another 2 weeks of wearing a boot, but he sure was excited to get that cast off. Although, I have to say, he really did not complain about it at all. He’s our lil’ trooper.

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One of our favorite parts of the summer, has got to be our trip to the Outer Banks. Again, Chris has customers out there that he had to visit, so we tagged along. (The perks/trade off for having a husband who travels a lot)

Our first night, Nags Head greeted us with an amaaaazing dinner with the best view I could imagine. Right away, we knew we’d be coming back to Outer Banks as much as possible!

 

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Cornhole and drinks on the water? Yes please!

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While Chris was at work, the boys and I explored the beach at Kitty Hawk. Holy waves. It was truly the prettiest beach we’ve been to. (Sorry Daytona & Clearwater! We still love you!)

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Nicholas Sparks, I so get why you love North Carolina.

After Chris was done working, we were able to explore more of the area/ plan our next vacation!

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One of our most memorable parts of the Outer Banks was exploring the Sand Dunes at Kill Devil Hills. They were…breathtaking. Such a cool experience. So obviously, it goes wihout saying that pictures do not do them justice. There’s no way to properly capture the magnitude of how big and expansive those sandy hills are! If you look closely in each picture you may be able to see tiny dots in the background (people in the distance) that give you an idea of how far they stretched out. Oh, and props to Chris for carrying B up those hills with his big booted foot kicking him in the face. Poor kid. Poor daddy.

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As soon as we got home from the Outer Banks, Grandpa and Nana came up for a long weekend and we celebrated Chris’s birthday. They kids had a blast planning his little family party. I let them loose in Party City and they picked out the best decorations!

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This month also marked Nolan’s first time going to a movie. He did surprisingly well. For Nolan. We’ve been going to $1 movies they show for kids in the mornings, but we even went to see the Minion movie with Grandpa and Nana one afternoon. He mostly loves the popcorn.

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We also had lots of ordinary, every day moments, that helped pass the lazy days of summer and remind us just how precious this time is with our sweet boys.

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July…memory making at it’s finest!