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!
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!!!
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…
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.
Last summer, Chris and I were given the opportunity to plan an epic kid-free vacation. My dad and step-mom offered to take our boys for a week where they would go to a Summer Camp and spend some time with their grandparents. We decided to use this week to go on an adventure to someplace new.
After weeks of Pinterest research and Googling fun destinations, we finally decided to book a trip to Nova Scotia. Neither of us had ever even dreamed of going there, and we didn’t know anyone else who had gone, but everything we saw online looked like a dream. My impression from what I gathered online was that it was going to be like Maine, on steroids. And since we had always talked about a New England trip, but wanted something even more unique, we settled upon Nova Scotia- otherwise known as Canada’s Ocean Playground.
We quickly realized that we could easily spend a month exploring all that Nova Scotia has to offer. We had to be choosy and try to fit in as much as possible in our one week. We decided to focus on the capital city of Halifax (and nearby day trips surrounding Halifax) and then a road trip up to Cape Breton to explore the world famous Cabot Trail.
We started our trip by spending two nights in Halifax. We stayed at the Hilton Double Tree Halifax hotel and loved being right in the heart of downtown. We explored Irish pubs and yummy coffee shops. Cabin Coffee was the most adorable/delicious place to start our first day.
On day one we drove 50 minutes from Halifax to Peggy’s Cove. Every blog I read before planning our trip, said Peggy’s Cove was a must see. Yes, it is a very popular tourist attraction, but this small town was everything I hoped it would be. From fresh lobster rolls, to a local bagpiper greeting us with music, it was more quaint and colorful than I could have dreamed up.
After Peggy’s Cove and all the amazingness, we set out on the hour and 15 minute drive to Lunenburg. The drive itself was gorgeous, but the destination was well worth the trip!
The next day we left for the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Island. There is much debate online whether you should do the trail clockwise or counterclock wise. We decided to do it clockwise with our first stop being in Cheticamp, NS. Again, even the drive there (about 4 hours) was entertaining and beautiful.
We stayed at Air BnB’s while visiting Cape Breton. Our first one was a log cabin in Cheticamp. Our hosts were so sweet and we had our own private space. They cooked an amazing breakfast for us and filled us in on all sorts of Canadian/Nova Scotia info.
After checking in we set out to explore the Gypsum Mines. This was another spot that I had seen so many gorgeous pictures of on Instagram and knew we needed to check out. It was a fairly easy hike, but I had to conquer a fear of heights to get the best view. In the summer this is a popular swimming hole and in the winter it is often used for ice skating. When we were there (late June), temperatures were in the 40’s and people were swimming!
It happened to be our anniversary, so we decided to splurge for a nice dinner out. The Harbour Restaurant in Cheticamp harbor was the perfect place to celebrate 13 years of marriage.
The next day we hit the Cabot Trail. We parked and hiked the Skyline Trail in Cabot Trail HIghlands National park. We took in spectacular views and even saw a moose!
As we continued our journey clockwise around the Cabot Trail, we discovered waterfalls and beautiful scenery.
Our trip took us to our next Air Bnb in Ingonish Beach. We had a wonderful host who was a professional chef and made us the most delicious breakfast of our lives! The beach at the Air BnB was full of sea glass.
The next day we set out to finish the Cabot Trail. We stopped for more hiking at the Smokey Trail and saw some whales in the distance. I chickened out halfway through one of our hikes thanks to all of the danger/warning signs! We also stopped at the most delicious restaurant, Clucking Hen Cafe & Bakery. The blueberry pie…omg!
Our 3rd night in Cape Breton was supposed to be at another Air Bnb that was described as a cute farmhouse. The reviews of the property and host were great. We…were not impressed. Picture driving to the middle of no where, down a dirt road, and being greeted by this horror show. Thankfully no one came out to greet us and so we peaced out without ever checking in. We made a quick decision to cut our losses on this reservation and head back to the city of Halifax- where our chances of being murdered were less. If you are interested in nightmares, I can give you the deets for this place!
I was more than happy to return to Halifax. There is so much to explore there! From the amazing food/brewery scene, to their commitment to eco friendly causes, to their rich history and architecture…I was smitten. Here are some of the highlights of the end of our trip in Halifax.
And I would be remiss if I did not mention two of my favorite things about Canada… Tim Horton’s and a healthy sense of humor about their neighbor to the south’s president!
We love love loved Nova Scotia! It was more beautiful than we could have dreamed and the people were the kindest I have ever encountered. I would go back in a heartbeat because there is still so much more to explore. Thanks for the memories, Canada! Can’t wait to see you again.
Seeing as how both boys have started school, I guess summer break is officially over. Not gonna lie, I’m going to miss our lazy days of sleeping in and doing whatever we feel like doing. We packed so much adventure and fun into summer this year. Here’s a recap of some of the highlights.
This was the summer of American Ninja Warrior for us. We watched it all the time and we made SO many obstacle courses throughout the house.
Our summers are always full of birthdays and celebrations (3 out of the 4 of us were born in June or July.) This summer Brady turned 6 and Chris and I celebrated 11 years of marriage.
11 years, 3 states, 2 kids, lots of wine and dancing!
Lots of kiddie pool and popsicle time!
A few beach days here and there…
Fun at the library…
An attempt to do some school work…
A trip to Seaworld- the kids and teachers get in free. Hello cheap theme park day!
A visit with Aunt Claudia- always a fun time!
Swim lessons- so much progress made!
Celebrating my birthday with my favorites.
Visiting all the splash pads… if you build it, we will come!
Our big vacation was to Key Largo. It was the best trip ever! We had so much fun swimming, eating, boating, paddle boarding, fishing, and lounging.
A visit from the Hootens. Taylor and Nolan are 2 peas in a pod with their mad dancing skills.
A visit from Chris and Auntie Jill… who brought the boys bathtub slime.
A visit to a lake house in South Carolina with our friends the Easters. This was our Griswold portion of the summer. So many travel issues!!
We put our zoo passes to good use. Animals and another splash pad, you can’t go wrong.
The boys had their first lemonade stand.
We adopted our sweet girl, Sailor. She’s been such a fun addition to our family!
The Alligator Farm blew the boys minds. They were seriously excited!
Food trucks and bounce houses in the neighborhood.
I’m already missing all my time with my boys. They drove me nuts, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Now back to packing lunch boxes and setting alarms. Until next year, Summer!
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!
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.
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!)
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.)
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.
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.
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.”
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
For our first Thanksgiving back in Florida, we decided to host dinner at our new home. We had my Aunt, cousin, his girlfriend, my mom, and Chris’s brother and his family join us. It was a very relaxing day full of food, football (Thank you Jesus for letting the Cowboys win for Chris) and fun. The kids played outside in the bounce house while we got to have adult beverages and play corn hole and enjoy the perfect weather.
Here are some pictures from not only Thanksgiving day, but also a few from the Thanksgiving celebrations at the kids’ schools.
The day after Thanksgiving we went to Savannah to spend time with my dad and Pat. We got to hang out downtown, see Santa, go to our annual Christmas light event at the Botanical Gardens, and watch the Gators get destroyed by FSU (boo.)
So much to be thankful for, today and always!