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It’s been 2 months since we moved into our new house. Two months of unpacking and slowly settling in; learning all the creaks and noises that come with living in an old house. When we moved to Asheville 4 months ago, I never imagined how stressful it would be to find a home for our family. Before we moved from Florida I would lie in bed at night and imagine what our house in North Carolina would look like. I imagined beautiful old, creaky hardwood floors and charming character throughout the house. After living in an eternal summer for the past 4 years, I imagined a roaring fire in a wood burning fire place and pumpkins sitting on our front porch. Basically, I imagined a house that was filled with the warmth and love of a home. And then, when we moved here and experienced first hand how tight the housing market was, my “dream house” slowly slipped away and I realized that I would happily settle for A house! Just any house that I could make a home for my family. But then, just when I had given up hope and had whined to Brett that “it looks like we will be living with my parents forever!” we found a house. And not just any house, but rather my dream house! A house with beautiful, sloping hardwood floors and glass doorhandles. A house with a large front porch; perfect for fall pumpkins, and a master bath with a big, claw foot tub. When we walked into the house for the first time I knew that we had found our home. The home where we will witness Claire walking for the first time, the front porch where I will take Leah’s first day of school pictures, the home where our family belongs.

When we were up visiting Brett’s family in New York a few weeks ago we had a lot of relatives ask to see pictures of the house, so here are a few!

^^Side note, this is the very first house that we moved into that Leah’s room was NOT set up as a nursery, rather it went right into being a big girl’s room. Even though we were slowly in the process of transitioning her nursery in Florida into a big girl room, most of the decor was from when she was born. When we moved in, Brett and I went out and bought her new dresser and bed frame and I am slowly trying to find some big girl wall hangings and decor for her room!

I’ll tell you what…God is good. Right after we fond our house Brett and I were browsing at an antique shop and I found a wall hanging that said “Thank you God for blessing me far more than I deserve.” Without a second thought, I picked it up and told Brett “We’re buying this” and it now hangs right by our front door as a daily reminder. We both feel so blessed to be living in a beautiful home, in a beautiful neighborhood, and in a beautiful city. We both felt, from the beginning, that God led us to Asheville and I continue to see evidence of that on a daily basis! Yes, moving has had it’s ups and downs and daily struggles, but overall we are LOVING Asheville and I am so incredibly thankful that we took this leap of faith and made the move!

We have a house!

So…whoops…life’s been a bit busy these past few months and this poor blog has been sadly neglected. But things are finally starting to settle down thanks in big part to the fact that we (finally) found a house!!! We had NO idea how stressful it would be to find a rental here in Asheville. When we first moved (at the beginning of April) we figured that we would stay with my parents for a few weeks while we searched; imaging that we would be in our new home (easily) by May 1st. My parents warned us about the “hot rental market” but we kind of just nodded along thinking “yeah, yeah, how hard could it really be, I mean this is a big city!”

And then we got here. And oh boy, saying that Asheville has a “hot rental market” is an understatement. We quickly learned that there is something crazy like a 1% vacancy rate here in town for rentals (why are all these darn people moving here?! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and that we would be competing with a million other people to get a house. (Okay so a million may be a bit exaggerated, but it sure felt like it at times!!) Stalking Zillow and other rental websites became my full time job and I would call/email/text a property as soon as it hit the market. And then Brett and I would go see it and there would be like 10 other people viewing it at the same time; everyone eyeing each other up to see who their biggest competition would be to snatch the house up first. Let’s just say it was EXHAUSTING. Thank God we had my parents (who have been enjoying their time with the grandkids and were not pushing us out in the least) but with 2 kids and a big dog let’s just say that we have seriously taken over their house these past 2 months. Long story short (and seriously, it is a long story) we finally found a house!!

Leah sitting on the front steps on move in day!

We are still settling in (We just moved in Sunday) but we are so, so excited to finally start growing some roots here in our new city.

I am in love with our new bathroom. Also, this is the first time in our married life that Brett and I have a double sink in the master bath, which is thrilling. I’m sure more pics of the house will soon follow, once it isn’t a mess of boxes and furniture…

So, while we searched and waited for a house, I decided to just jump in and potty train Leah. We had put it off for a LONG time, but with so many recent changes (a new baby, and then a big move) I felt weird throwing too much at her at once so we waited and waited some more. But with her 3rd birthday around the corner, I knew she was more than ready! I will write a whole post about it (promise!) hopefully soon, but it’s been an exciting time for her!

I will just say that she has done SO well and we are extremely proud of how she has handled the big change! But more details about our “potty plan” will follow. (I know, I know, you’re all just on the edge of your seats!)

Besides that, Claire turned the big 6 monthsย  (how has it already been half a year?!) And I haven’t done her monthly letter since 4 months. #secondchild. This girl is sweet and chubby and delicious and basically just the world’s cutest baby. A full 6 month update will come soon…

So there you have it. A bit of a life update (have we done more these past 2 months than house hunt and potty train?? I’m not really sure) and a promise to (hopefully) get back in the blogging game soon.

The big move update

So I didn’t intend to go all quiet on the blog this past month or so, but let’s just say that it’s been quite the whirlwind with packing and moving and starting to get acclimated with our new town. But to back it up a little….

Packing a house is no fun. Packing a house with 2 small children…well that’s a form of torture. Although, if you asked Leah, she would tell you that packing and moving is the absolute best because it means you get to watch Frozen at least once a day and all the episodes of Daniel Tiger that you could ever dream of. I guess you could say that we are somewhat strict with “screen time” with Leah. We don’t have an Ipad she plays on, we don’t let her watch much TV (and when she does, it’s only PBS-mainly Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger) and the only movie she can sit through is Frozen….but when you are trying to pack a whole house by yourself, all your rules and cares go out with window. Want to sit on the couch with an entire bag of goldfish and watch Frozen 5 times in a row? Go for it, just let mommy pack.

Even though Brett was getting a moving allowance with his new job, professional movers are EXPENSIVE so we decided to do the move ourselves. We rented the largest Budget truck (and man oh man was this thing huge. Which, side note, I find amusing/troublesome that just anyone can rent this huge truck. Brett drove this gigantic truck, with a car trailer attached to pull one of our cars, which basically made it as long as an 18 wheeler, which people need a special license to drive. But apparently it’s totally fine to rent a truck and trailer the exact same size…) and filled it up. We were so lucky to have help from both our parents. Brett’s parents came down on Wednesday and helped us wrap all the furniture and load the truck. Brett and his dad were amazing. Even though the truck was huge, I was apprehensive that we could fit everything from our house into one truck. But Brett was determined (mostly because he didn’t want to pay for a second truck) and they packed that thing like a puzzle. Every once and awhile they would stop, step back, survey the furniture, and decide what piece would fit into the exact shape spaces they were filling. They did well and we filled that truck to the brim with every last box and piece of furniture we owned. Then my parents flew down from North Carolina, helped us clean the (empty!) house on Thursday, and then drove up with us to North Carolina on Friday morning. My dad and Brett drove together in the truck (with Lucy, their trusty truck dog!) and my mom and I drove up in our SUV with the kids.

I was worried how Leah would do on the long car ride because she has NEVER been in the car for that long, but she did awesome!!! I was way prepared with all her favorite toys and books, plus 3 downloaded movies on our tablet, tons of snacks, and a bag full of wrapped presents I got from the Dollar Store the day before. I gave her about one present every hour and she LOVED it! Who knew Dollar Store baby dolls and coloring books could be so exciting! She did awesome the whole drive and only watched one movie (we tried Finding Nemo for the first time and it was a HUGE hit) because the rest of the time she was totallyย  content playing with all her new toys! (the winning Dollar Store toys were a small plastic baby doll-which she named Pinkalicious, and a small magnadoodle). Claire was an angel baby, beside the few times she decided that she needed to nurse NOW and we were still trying to find a good exit to get off. The chubster is still nursing every 2-2.5 hours and I was trying to push her at least 3 during the ride, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. But stopping every 3 or so hours helped Leah as well because it gave her a chance to stretch her legs and run around a bit.

The drive, however, was pretty awful. It was perfect up until Savannah, but then after that we hit accidents and traffic jams the whole rest of the way. It was a 15.5 hour ride total (when it should have taken 10) and by the time we pulled into my parent’s driveway we were all starting to go a bit crazy. We are staying with my parents for the month or so while we try and find a rental. We went back and forth about whether we wanted to rent or buy right away, but ultimately decided that renting would make more sense so we could feel out the area and neighborhoods and decide where we want to buy next year. So that’s where we are now. Although Leah is having so much fun with grandma and grandpa and their dog Cooper and kitty Reuben that she is in no hurry to leave!

So, in the week we’ve been here we have….

Celebrated Easter:

This was the first year Leah “got” Easter and she had a blast finding her Easter basket in the morning and going on an Easter egg hunt on the gorgeous lawn of the Biltmore Estate after church. I was a little worried how she would do IN church, since she usually attends Sunday School during services, but we sat in the balcony (due to leaving 5 minutes “late” for church-sorry, dad) which was probably a good thing because Leah highly enjoyed sitting up there, gazing down at everyone the entire service while snacking on animal crackers.

Started exploring this awesome new city:

Brett started his job today so all last week we were in vacation mode, walking around downtown and exploring new parks and playgrounds for Leah. Asheville is such an awesome city, with so much to do and explore, so I think we will be kept busy for quite some time! The weather has been gorgeous, low 70’s and sunny, and we are LOVING the break from the South Florida heat and humidity!

A lot, lot, LOT of good eating:

Before we moved Brett read some statistic that, in Asheville, there is one restaurant for every 100 people, or something crazy like that. Let’s just say that there are plenty of amazing restaurants in this city and it’s going to take us a lot of good eating to try them all. ๐Ÿ™‚

And just enjoying some good old relaxing:

After a month of packing and stressing and moving, it feels good to just relax a bit and not have to worry about anything! Yes, we still need to find a rental, but we are totally content mooching staying with my parents for a bit longer while we get acclimated with the city. Plus, we are enjoying this brief time of having very little financial responsibilities. Selling the house has allowed us to pay off the rest of my grad school loans (woohooo!) and it’s a crazy feeling to be 100% debt free. Until we buy a new house, of course. But for now we will relax in our financial freedom. ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, life in Asheville is good and we are slowly settling in! And hopefully I’ll soon be able to share news of finding the perfect new home. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cousin love

Back at the beginning of the month my sister and her family came to visit for a week and we had so much fun. Even now, weeks after they left, Leah is still asking “Hey, can we go to the pool (or beach, or playground..) withย  Millie!?” And when I tell her (yet again) “Honey, Millie went back to her house!” She gets sad all over again and grumpily responds, “But I don’t WANT Millie to go bye-bye!!” Me neither kid. Me neither. We fit a lot into their 5 day stay and we had a blast. Since they were escaping the cold, snowy, Vermont weather, we made sure to fit in plenty of beach and pool trips and just spent a lot of time outside in the sunshine. It’s crazy to think that last March when they were here, Millie was Claire’s age and Claire was just a thought and a hope and now, one year later, we had 2 toddlers and 1 little babe playing on the beach. ๐Ÿ™‚ Leah absolutely LOVED playing with her cousin Millie and it made me excited (yet again) for when Claire is old enough to play because I just know they are going to be the sweetest little friends!! Some pictures from our visit with cousin Millie and family…

^There was lots of cute hand holding between Leah and Millie (although some of it may have been just a bit forced on Leah’s end…) and it melted my heart!

 


We had so much fun with Aunt Lauren, Uncle Evan, and cousin Millie!! One of the most exciting aspects of our move north is that, because we will live right by my parents, we will get to see all my siblings and the cousins every time they come into town to visit grandma and grandpa. See that guys, we are saving you money so you don’t have to make two separate trips to see us and the grandparents, so now you can do even MORE trips to see us both!! Although I think they may be a bit bummed to lose their Florida spring break trip every year….
One thing’s for sure, we sure can’t wait to see them all again soon!!

Good-bye South Florida…

Before Brett and I got married we were living right outside Washington, D.C. Although we had some great friends in the area, we were looking for a change and Brett suggested moving to South Florida. I was originally pretty iffy about the idea (I think, as Brett laughingly put it last night, I said it was full of “bugs, humidity and old people” which really is all true…) but after getting a job offer at a great Children’s Hospital in South Florida, I warmed up to the idea and we made the move down in March 2011, 4 years ago this month. We LOVED living in Florida; being close to the beach, the perfect “winters,” an excuse to eat ice cream year around, what wasn’t to love?! But then a few years passed and we started a family with our two gorgeous daughters. And suddenly, even though all those perks of South Florida living were still there, some of the cons (such as being so far from family) started to outweigh the good.

About 2 months before Claire was born, Brett received a great job opportunity in North Carolina. But we would have had to sell the house, pack and move, and start a new job all within a week or so of Claire’s birth and it was just way too overwhelming. So we passed on the offer and decided to keep praying and asking God to lead us to where our family should be. However, the potential offer gave us the moving itch so we decided to go ahead and put our house on the market anyways, just to see what happened. We figured we would take our time and wait for the best offer and, should we sell before we had another potential job and/or move lined up, we would just rent for a bit until we figured out what our next step should be. And that’s when things got crazy.

Within a few weeks we received our first offer on the house. It was an okay offer, and although we tried to negotiate the price up a bit, we couldn’t get the buyers to meet us in the middle so we decided to walk away from the offer. Again, we weren’t in any hurry and we thought “Why accept a just okay offer when we could hold out for a potentially better one?!”

The day before my birthday, I resigned from my job, after deciding that being a stay at home mom was what was best for our family at this time. That night Brett and I went out to dinner with the girls and he joked about all the things I had accomplished by the age of 29: grad school, marriage, buying a house, giving birth to 2 kids, a great career, retirement from said great career (haha) and he joked, “Too bad you can’t say you sold your first house by 29 as well!” And then, on the morning of my 29th birthday, we received our second offer on the house. A solid offer that we would have accepted, but hey, why not try to negotiate them up a few thousand dollars to our “dream selling price”?! And low and behold, they accepted.

And then the next day we casually found out that the job opportunity from all those months ago was back on the table. And that the president of the company just so happened to be in Orlando for a convention the same weekend we were going to be there and would love to meet with Brett. And suddenly we were all, “Okay God, we hear you” because we knew there was NO way that this was all just coincidence.

Fast forward another week and Brett officially received an offer for an amazing position based out of Asheville, North Carolina, the same town that my parents live in. The same town I fell in love with the first time I visited over a year ago. We had been praying and praying for God to lead us to where our family was meant to be and we felt like God was basically shouting; “Here it is! I LITERALLY could not make this any clearer!”

So, we decided to listen. The sale on our house is almost complete (it’s been a smooth process through inspection and appraisal and we close in the beginning of April) and we are packing up the house and making the 11 hour trek north to our new home in Asheville, NC (well, we still need to find an actual home, but luckily we can always crash with my parents for a bit while we search!) We are going to really miss South Florida; our first home, our friends, the awesome weather…(although I’ll be honest, I am thrilled to pieces to experience SEASONS again, although I might change my tune after that first winter back in the cold…) but we really feel like this is the BEST decision for our family and I am so excited to raise my girls near family and in such an awesome family friendly area.

You’ve been good to us, South Florida, but now it’s time to move on to our next great adventure…

Motherhood

When I was young I played a game called “Family” with my younger sister Caitlin. Basically, the game entailed making a list of all your children-names and ages, discussing how many girls vs. boys you want, how many years apart each child would be, how many multiples you want (possibly 2 sets of twins and 1 set of triplets??) etc. This game could last well over an hour, as we intently discussed exactly what our future families were going to look like. And apparently at age 9 I thought it was totally feasible to have 20 children, 10 of which were multiples (twins and triplets fascinated me), but the point of the matter, the fact that I couldn’t imagine my life without being a MOM, has remained true. I feel like I’ve been in serious “mom training” since I was 14. I babysat constantly, worked at day cares, became a full time nanny….all while working on developing my own methods of childcare that I knew would serve me well once I finally became a mom myself. But I also had a second dream, right there along side my dream to be a mom, and that was to become a child life specialist. And I trained just as hard for that dream as well. I studied, I volunteered, I observed, I completed a grad school program, all to obtain this dream job of working with hospitalized children. I knew that these two dreams; to become a mother and a child life specialist, could happen simultaneously, but I also knew that eventually one dream would take over my heart, leaving little room for the other.

After I gave birth to Leah I had been working as a child life specialist for a little over 2 years. I loved what I was doing, and I loved the hospital where I was working. Although holding that baby in my arms made me ache to stay home with her full time, I also didn’t feel as though it was time yet to leave my work as a child life specialist. So, I did the next best thing, I took an extended maternity leave and returned to work after 4 1/2 months, dropping down to part time hours. And it worked for me. Leah thrived at “school” and I continued to fall more in love with my career. But then 2 more years passed and I became pregnant again. And suddenly thoughts of returning to work made me feel sick to my stomach. I still loved my job, but I knew I would soon have 2 sweet little ones at home. And I wanted to be there, nurturing them 24/7, more than I wanted anything else in the world. So Brett and I started having a conversation. Could this work? Would we be okay financially? What would this look like for our family? We went back and forth over many, many details for months. Claire was born and we still hadn’t come to a clear, concise decision. But then one night, as we were lying in bed yet again discussing our options (as my 12 week maternity leave is quickly coming to an end), Brett looked at me and said, “You know what? I think God just wants us to jump.”

So jump we will. I made it official with my boss just earlier this week (which was a crazy story in itself; involving the scheduled conversation happening 30 mins before planned, while I was still in Target, trying to chase Leah through the aisles and frantically checking out, getting home, and realizing that Leah had stolen a ball….) and it’s now official. I will not be returning to work. For now, I am saying good bye to child life and hello to being a stay at home mom. And my heart couldn’t feel happier. I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I resigned; would I feel liberated? Sad? Would I cry? It’s an odd feeling-walking away from this job I have invested my heart into for the past 5 years, and the job I have been dreaming about since I was 14. But you know what? This dream of being a stay at home mom, this dream of being with my girls every day; watching them play and learn and grow, that’s a dream of mine that’s older than any other. Back to childhood and playing “family” with my sister, back to watching my own mom who stayed home to raise her 4 girls and knowing that I wanted to be just like her, a dream that I feel excited and giddy to finally make a reality. And I feel so incredibly blessed that my family is in a position to make this dream possible. I’m so thankful for a loving, supportive husband, who wanted this dream to become a reality just as much as I did. I’ve absolutely LOVED my time as a child life specialist, and I’m not convinced that I am done with that career forever, but for now I am embarking on a new chapter of my life; staying home with my two little ladies. Our family is entering into a new season, full of a LOT of changes, but I am so excited to take this leap and see what comes next.

Life

Sorry it’s been so quiet lately here on the blog. Turns out, 2 kids is a lot more work than 1. Who knew?! ๐Ÿ˜›

So, after almost an entire month of having family visiting on and off, I’m officially on my own with both kids. As intimidating as it was the first few days, we’ve seemed to have seamlessly slipped into a routine that works well. Since Leah was used to going to school every day when I worked, the girl craves structure. She likes to have planned activities and she likes to know what’s coming next. At bedtime, as I say goodnight, we talk about what we are going to do the next day. We talk about reading books, going for a walk, the playground, the store, etc and, when she wakes up the next morning, she will repeat the day’s schedule back to me. And, as a planner myself, it has made the days much more enjoyable! We have time for reading books, time for playing outside, time for snack, and time for (mommy’s new favorite!) a nap. I told Brett the other day that I have been shocked to find that the days are flying by! Running around with two kids makes my days go way faster than they used to when I was working! And, even though there have been fits here and there, it really has been a blast. Leah is such a joy to hang out with and I am LOVING watching her grow and change every single day. (As well as hearing all the new, funny expressions that come out of her mouth; my current favorites being “Okie dokie artichokie” and “Oh, sorry about that!”) Being a mom to these two sweet little girls makes me feel like the luckiest person alive. Here’s a little of what we have been up to ever day:

1. Splash park playing. I have to say, we’ve had a fabulous winter so far this year in Florida. And by “winter” I mean that it hasn’t been 90 degrees with 100% humidity every single day. We’ve had some “cold” days in the 50’s and 60’s and a lot of perfect sunny days in the mid-70’s. Leah LOVES the splash park (which is funny since, just a few months ago, the girl would barely touch the splash pad with one toe) and will happily play in there for hours. And mommy likes it because she is able to just sit and relax while Leah has a blast.

^^I call this look Leah’s “J-Lo booty” AKA a diaper full of water….

2. Ice cream eating. Because, obviously this is needed when the weather is nice.

3. Walks, walks and more walks. I haven’t been doing a ton of exercising yet, but I have been trying to do daily walks. As much as I LOVE my new double stroller, it definitely took me awhile to get used to pushing this heavy, “stretch limo” as I affectionately call it, around. I am so used to the BOB, which is super smooth and easy to push, but a double stroller is a different story. I swear my arms are getting quite the workout on our long walks. I’ve also finally mastered the double stroller PLUS puppy walk, which I’m quite impressed with. (It’s the little achievements, right!?)

4. Playground playing. Almost every night, if I ask Leah what she wants to do tomorrow, she will answer with “Go to the playground!” (That or, “Watch Frozen!” but, you know, the playground request gets approved a lot more than the Frozen watching, much to Leah’s chagrin). We have a lot of playgrounds around our neighborhood so we walk or drive to new ones daily. We are just getting to the stage where playground playing is more relaxing for me, now that Leah is more independent and I don’t feel the need to follow her up and down and all around the playground. Which comes in handy when you have an infant strapped to your chest.

5. Outside playing. Again, with the awesome weather, we are full on taking advantage of playing outside as much as possible. Leah’s current favorite outdoor activities include drawing with chalk on the driveway (in her Elsa nightgown, obviously) and pushing her baby (usually her Elsa baby) around the block in her new double stroller.

6. Reading. Leah LOVES books and she will read for hours (or, really, have me read for hours) if I let her. She gets into a rut where she wants to read the same book over and over again for weeks on end. So much fun. Brett and I will keep trying to introduce a new book, “Hey, how about this one!?” but she will inevitably shoot down our suggestion and instead go with her current fave. Luckily, she always tends to move on to a new one after a few weeks. Her most recent fave was a book “A Fly Went By” about a bunch of animals chasing each other for no apparent reason and, let me tell you, it goes on just a bit too long if you ask me. Not one of mommy’s favorites. And, sadly, once you read it correctly once you can’t change up the story or skip a little because our kid has a memory like a vault and she remembers every single word and will totally call you out if you try and skip a page or two.

7. Entertaining myself, which, inevitably, ticks Leah off. Maybe I’m a mean mom, but I get a kick out of putting Claire in Leah’s toy stroller and toy pack and play…unfortunately Leah does NOT share my sense of humor…..

8. Enjoying this new little chub of a cherub that has joined our family. Leah LOVES holding baby Claire and, coincidentally, baby Claire LOVES being held (maybe not so much by Leah…) Having 2 kids makes me even more thankful for baby wraps/carriers because I don’t know what moms do without them. Claire seems to be under the impression that being put down is a form of torture, so she tends to be in my arms 24/7. And when I actually NEED my arms, she’s strapped to my chest.

And that’s life around here these days. That, and many, many trips to Trader Joe’s because I’m just a bit obsessed with their food (okay, let’s be honest, I’m mostly obsessed with their snacks). Now excuse me while I go snack on some Cowboy Bark and take advantage of nap time to catch up on some reading. ๐Ÿ™‚