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

wp-1490660191770.jpgwp-1490660191818.jpgwp-1490660191775.jpgwp-1490660191819.jpg

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.

wp-1490660984128.jpgwp-1490660984129.jpg

wp-1490660849359.jpgwp-1490660849336.jpgwp-1490660849321.jpgwp-1490660849324.jpg

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)

20161015_175605
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

2016 ChristSMITH

This holiday season came and went so super fast! (That seems to happen every year.) While there was lots of hustle and bustle of travel, gift buying, parties, and baking, we were able to find time for lots of simple moments with the boys. They really enjoyed listening to Christmas music (and haven’t stopped singing holidays songs yet), finding our Elf “Pixie” every day, and seeing what Advent Calendar activity we would do each day. We try to fill our calendar with a mix of fun moments for the boys and activities that will help them learn to enjoy the spirit of giving. Here are some of the highlights and special moments from this past month…

20161220_115136

Delivering presents to our trash collectors!

20161221_115106

Mommy/Brady day date

20161221_213240

Gato doesn’t understand the Elf on the Shelf craze either.

20161221_213244

#NotAmused

 

20161130_160052

We said goodbye to our sweet boy Albert on December 1. Christmas just wasn’t the same without him this year.

20161215_162029.jpg

Thank you to my sweet friend Lindsay for sending us this adorable ornament to help us honor our fur-baby.

 

20161201_174100

Shopping day to buy gifts for our teachers

 

20161222_145610

Decorating Christmas cookies at Aunt Claudia’s house

20161222_145617

 

 

20161219_122909.jpg

Nolan’s Christmas program at school. He was a big ol’ bundle of nerves but he conquered his stage fright and gave the cutest performance!

 

20161215_1534540.jpg

One of our boys’ favorite things to do during the holidays is put money in the Salvation Army bucket.

20161215_153450.jpg

20161214_162703.jpg

We always take turns taking each kiddo to buy presents for their brother and mommy and daddy. On this occasion Brady insisted on buying me this fancy red polish.

20161213_190211.jpg

Christmas movies! Our favorites this year were Elf on the Shelf and Rudolph.

20161213_190202.jpg

20161213_180952.jpg

Chris surprised us by buying an inflatable hot tub for our patio. We have all enjoyed it this month!

20161213_180242.jpg

20161209_182507.jpg

North Florida has perfect fire pit weather in December! Lots of S’Mores were eaten.

20161209_182249.jpg

20161208_0954180.jpg

Our Gator tree which Nolan claimed as his own.

20161207_104926.jpg

I got to volunteer in Brady’s class a lot recently and Chris even got to spend the afternoon doing Winter Crafts with his class one day.

20161203_213243.jpg

Date night checking out the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine. I am a SUCKER for Palm Trees with Christmas lights!

Christmas Eve…

img_12291.jpg

20161224_200459

20161224_200256

Sweet boys before the Christmas tree pose turned into a wrestling match

Christmas Day…

 

 

20161225_152335

Christmas day selfie with my big boy!

 

 

20161225_183801

Poor kiddo passed out before Christmas dinner and missed the whole thing.

 

 

img_12571.jpg

Intense Lego building with Grandpa on Christmas night.

Christmas vacation trip to LEGOLAND…

20161227_115252

Our boys surprise Christmas present- LEGOLAND Passes!

20161227_152211

Brady loved the Lego city- especially the space shuttle.

20161227_155923

With Brady on the Sky High ride.

20161228_094526

Nolan loved the Duplo train ride!

New Years Eve…

20161231_170707

Fishing in our neighbor’s backyard

20161231_180706-1

In awe of sparklers!

20161231_183820

Making homemade pasta with daddy!

20161231_200101

Saying goodbye to 2016 the right way!

20161231_195215

Toasting to the Netflix ball drop countdown.

 

I can’t imagine anything better than experiencing the holidays with a 3 and 5 year old. Seeing Christmas through their eyes was so special and nothing short of magical. We are certainly blessed in many ways and look forward to what adventures 2017 will bring our family. Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving!

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.

20161114_101705

Please note the little turkey in orange and blue who is blowing kisses to his mommy and daddy before his performance!

20161114_102601

20161121_112237

Look at that little Indian! Side note: Nolan put down an embarrassing amount of chicken nuggets at his school feast.

 

20161124_082552

Thank God he used the non-Fitbit arm. Ain’t nobody got time for a fitness tracker in their turkey.

20161123_193914

It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without Grandma Dot’s pumpkin bread.

20161124_182035-1

Me, Aunt Claudia and mom

20161122_222333

Brady all tuckered out after a day of food and fun. (Again, obsessed with sleeping pictures!)

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.)

img_09951.jpg

img_09881.jpg

The only Santa lap Nolan will be sitting on this year!

 

img_09931.jpgimg_09721.jpg

img_09671.jpg

So much to be thankful for, today and always!

 

 

 

 

Halloween!

This Halloween was one of my favorite with the boys. They got SO into it! Trick or treating was super enjoyable because the boys are finally at an age where they can walk on their own and go up to houses without our help. (We stood on the sidewalk sipping our adult beverages reminding them to say thank you.) We also got the benefit of having my mom nearby so she was able to participate in Nolan’s Trunk or Treat event at his school and hang out on Halloween night.

220161013_16185720161030_183024

20161031_092446

Our not-so-elaborately decorated trunk. We’ll step it up next year! (Maybe.)

20161031_104644

We loved spending the morning at Nolan’s school on Halloween. Little stinker.

20161031_18201220161031_183207

 

Spoiler alert: the boys have already been talking about their costumes for next year. Nolan wants to be a, wait for it, mosquito.

First Day of School- Kinder & PK3

This summer has been full of excitement and change for our little family. All in all our boys have been such troopers. Their whole lives have changed and they’ve really done great adjusting to all the newness (they are practically pros at it at this point.)

One of the biggest changes for any kid that moves is starting a new school. Brady was going to be starting a new school regardless with entering Kindergarten, but Nolan was quite happy at his old pre-school and not at all wanting to change what took months for him to become comfortable with. We were not sure how the first day of school would go for either kiddo, but they both did super well.

Brady has been excited about Kindergarten for months. He was all smiles and energy until the moment he walked into the classroom. He quickly turned around, ran back out and had tears in his eyes. He told me he “was a little bit worried.” A few hugs, kisses, and reassurances later, he walked back in and never looked back. He came home from school on the bus and reported that he had a great first day. He is loving it!

20160810_074522-120160810_08023720160810_080442(0)20160810_08044920160810_08133320160810_083053

20160810_145230

Patiently waiting for brother’s bus that was SUPER late!

20160810_160559

Big boy getting off the bus for the first time (bus driver carrying his lunchbox that he has forgotten every single day.)

 

Nolan’s first day was so much more nerve racking for me. He is so social and outgoing in some ways, and so painfully shy in others. Historically he does NOT like being away from me and took his sweet time getting used to preschool drop off last year. I was anticipating the worst. Thankfully, he was quite brave on his first day. There were a couple whiny moments of not wanting me to go, but ultimately after about 10 or 12 hug/kiss/fist bump/high five routines, he said good-bye to me and let me walk away (with no tears.) We survived! Now, I’m not getting cocky just yet. I know 2nd and 3rd days can often be way tougher, but we at least had a great start.

20160817_075110-1.jpg20160817_083701.jpg20160817_084159.jpg20160817_084802.jpg20160817_084735.jpg20160817_084522.jpg

20160817_130407.jpg

He was a hot, sweaty mess when I picked him up!

Overall, we are super proud of how these boys have handled so much change in their lives recently. We’re so excited to see how much they grow and learn this year!

Brady-boo is 5!

2

It’s hard to believe our little B-Man has been with us 5 years already. We’re so incredibly blessed that this is the boy God chose to be our introduction to parenthood. He’s sweet, funny, so smart, and just plain easy to parent.

4

1

We’re constantly amazed by Brady’s abilities to analyze situations, think about how the world works, and question everything. He loves to learn, build, and create. He’s even tempered and genuinely innocent at heart.

3

He loves to please and cares so deeply about others. We couldn’t have picked a better big brother for Nolan and are so thankful for his loving nature.

5

We did a little 4 year old exit interview for Brady and here’s how he answered:
How old are you going to be?
5
When is your birthday?
June 21
What’s your favorite color?
Red
What’s your favorite food?
Hot Dogs
What’s your favorite show?
P.J. Masks
What’s your favorite movie?
Firefighter Dusty (Planes Fire and Rescue)
What’s your favorite book?
“Rescue Vehicles”
What’s your favorite song?
“Cake by the Ocean” and “Bubble Toes”
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A police officer
Where is your favorite place to go?
La Cocina (Mexican restaurant by our house)
What’s your favorite animal?
Gato
What about Albert?
I love them both.
Who’s your best friend?
Sophie
What’s your favorite number?
5

6

We’re so proud of Brady and his unique little personality. While it’s bittersweet that our first born is becoming such a big boy, we can’t wait to see what big things are in his future!

7

Happy Birthday Brady! Thank you for making our job as your parents so fun and rewarding!

The End of the School Year 2016

20160524_0903160.jpg

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.

20160524_092236.jpg20160524_0924170.jpg

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!

20160524_0927120.jpg

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.

20160526_1136450.jpg

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!

DSC_0834

 

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!