Some Florida fun before we go…

The clock is ticking and we are down to our last 2 weeks in South Florida!! We have been up to our eyeballs with stress these last few months; dealing with selling the house, coordinating a move, starting a new job…all amidst having a new baby and a toddler who, let’s be honest, demands attention like no other. But even though we have a lot on our plate right now, we wanted to make sure we tried to enjoy these last few weeks in Florida as much as possible. Since we moved here 4 years ago, we’ve been talking about taking a weekend trip over to the west coast of Florida to spend some time on Sanibel Island. It’s almost happened a few times…once for Brett’s birthday and once for our anniversary, but every time the idea crossed our mind, something else happened which made us put the trip off once more.

So, once our move was decided, I looked at how few weekends we had left and I was afraid that our dreamed about trip was never going to happen. But low and behold, Brett chose a weekend and off we set! I had been to Sanibel as a kid, but Brett had never been, so I was excited to see how much I could remember and spend one more relaxing Florida beach weekend on the gulf before the packing craziness began.

The awesome thing about Sanibel is that it’s kept its quaint island feel over the years. There are no major hotels and resorts on the island, just beach front inns, bed and breakfasts, and rental cottages. We stayed at Captiva Island Inn and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the island! We had a great, huge room, with a patio overlooking the pool and a full size family room and kitchen right outside the room, which was shared with 2 other rooms on the floor. (Which made me think how fun it would be for a few friends to reserve the whole floor and have all that great space to use together!) The inn was just steps from the beach and we spent the weekend hanging out at the pool and the beach and eating a great meal (and left over cake!) at The Bubble Room, which is a fun, crazy decorated restaurant that me and my sisters LOVED when we were kids.

It truly was the perfect weekend to bring our time in Florida to an end. As Brett and I relaxed on the beach we talked about how blessed we were to live in this gorgeous place for 4 years, but how excited we were to see what adventures come next. One thing is for sure though, Florida will always hold a very special place in both our hearts! Some pictures from our little getaway weekend….

^I have a picture of me and my sisters sitting right here when I was about 10 so I just had to get one of the girls as well!!

^This orange crunch cake (not actually orange flavored) is The Bubble Room’s famous cake. It is a moist, buttery, delicious cake with brown sugar and almond crunch between the layers and a light, amazing cream cheese frosting. I told Brett we had to order it and he was all “Eh…I’ll probably just eat a bite or two…” And then we ordered it and he inhaled half the slice. It’s just that good.

^The outside of our B&B. They also had a few cottages across the street.


^Next time we come, I’m totally renting this house! Cute, huge front porch, and about 10 steps from the beach….Perfect.

^The beach on the gulf is so much different than ours! The sand is full of crushed pieces of shells and is not that smooth, silky softness that we are used to on our side. The water is also so much calmer with barely any waves. Leah liked it MUCH better, since the waves still freak her out a little.

^On my Sunday early morning run, I just had to stop and take these pictures. Nothing makes a run more enjoyable than watching the sunrise and then running along side the beach for 3 miles….

^Got back from my run and this little girl with an endless pit of a stomach couldn’t even wait for me to rinse off so it was right off to breakfast for this sweaty mommy….

^This cracked me and Brett up, so I just HAD to take a picture. Since it is March, there were a LOT of college spring breakers and Leah particularly had her eye on this group of girls and guys who were playing with a soccer ball (Leah is obsessed with soccer balls-much to my soccer playing husband’s joy…) So she was watching the guys kick the ball back and forth and she kept turning to me and Brett and asking, “Can I go play with those guys!?” and we said “Sure!” thinking there was no way in heck our little 2 year old girl would have the guts to approach the college kids and ask to play. Low and behold, this girl started inching up to the group slowly but surely, until she was standing right next to them. Then, as soon as they turned their backs for a second, she snatched up their ball. One of the girls turned and noticed her and started playing a little game of kick the soccer ball back and forth, until she realized that playing with a 2 year old was not as fun as flirting with boys, and she left our daughter broken hearted and returned to her group. And then we had to convince Leah that she really DID have to give the boys their soccer ball back….But Brett and I got a good laugh at how brazen this little girl of ours is! She goes after what she wants!!

And, with that, we loaded our sandy bodies back in the car and drove the 2.5 hours back home. Perfect weekend for a farewell to Florida trip!

 

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..) withΒ  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. πŸ™‚ 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…

A trip to the zoo

As we get closer and closer to baby’s due date, Brett and I have been talking about things we should do with Leah to celebrate her last few weeks as an only child. One thing we definitely wanted to do with her was take her to the Miami Zoo, which is one of the largest zoos in the country! Although it’s only 45 minutes away, we have never been there and we figured that Leah was now at the age where she would love seeing all the animals so last weekend, once the weather finally started to “cool down” (at least by Miami standards!) we set off in the morning to explore the zoo. Our plan was to get there right around opening time to beat both the crowds and the hot weather and it worked out perfectly! We were there until about 1:30 pm, leaving right when it was just starting to get hot and crowded.

Leah had an absolute blast the entire time. She would run over to look at an animal, yell hello to whatever it was “hello zebra! hello!” before running down the path yelling, “what else are we gonna see?!” We brought the umbrella stroller because the zoo is over 3 miles around and I didn’t think she would ever be able to make it around, walking the whole way. Well, this child of ours never slowed down. A couple of times I would ask her “Leah, do you want to take a rest and ride a bit?” and she would always answer, “no mommy, I walk!” And walk (and run!) she did. We continued walking around the entire zoo and Leah quickly made her favorites known (the gorillas, or as she called them, the monkeys, were her hands down favorite). Finally, after 3 hours and 2 1/2 miles, this 8 month pregnant woman was ready to be done. So we stuck Leah in the stroller to get through the last 1/2 mile a little faster, which was NOT a popular decision with the walking queen. I was so shocked (and proud!) that she was being such a good walker, but it was getting hot and I was hungry and we just needed to get back to the car already. πŸ˜›

On the way home we stopped at Trader Joes to stock up on some of our favorite items (which, side note, never go into TJ’s when you are hungry and 8 months pregnant. You will end up buying everything in sight, to the alarm and dismay of your husband…) and this picture cracks me up:

Leah INSISTED on carrying the animal crackers and the chocolate peanut butter cups. Obviously she knows what’s important and she wasn’t about to let those tasty treats out of her sight!

Overall, we had a blast at the Miami Zoo and I am so glad that we were able to take Leah before her baby sister arrives. As excited as I am for the new baby, I am trying to soak up these last few weeks with Leah as an only child. She is such a good girl, and my very best little buddy, and I want to enjoy all these precious remaining moments with just her before it’s too late!

Girl’s Weekend: Island Style

I’m lucky (very lucky!) that I get to work with some AWESOME child life girls at my hospital. 6 of us have gotten very close and we have been wanting to do a girls weekend for a long time now. With 3 of us pregnant, and with babies and maternity leaves right around the corner, we decided that it was now or never!! Lucky for us, my awesome in-laws said we could use the condo for the weekend so with that, we all packed our weekend bags and headed up to one of my favorite places in the world: our island!

We had the brilliant idea to each be in charge of a meal for the weekend. It was super fun to, not only see what everyone picked, but also get to pig out on SO MUCH food for the entire weekend! Everyone made some really amazing and delicious meals and desserts and we all, of course, brought along a huge selection of beach and pool snacks. It would be so funny because after enjoying an awesome and huge breakfast made by one of the girls, we would all turn to whoever was in charge of lunch and say “We are so excited for your lunch plan!” So basically we ate all. weekend. long. Which was wonderful. πŸ™‚ Add in long conversations, perfect beach weather, late nights, funny chick flicks, and a hilarious game of HedBanz (which is actually now downloadable onto your Iphone!!) on the way home, and it was all in all an awesome and relaxing weekend! Some lovely Iphone pics of our time:

^^The world’s most relaxing balcony view. I think I have 1 million Iphone photos that look EXACTLY like this, but for some reason I feel the need to snap this same pic every time we visit and I step out on the balcony for the first time.

^^The whole crew on the beach!

^^Mandatory condo bump shot. I take this picture every time we visit (while pregnant, of course….)

^^Bumps in order of size from left to right: 21 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks! I cannot believe how fast everyone’s pregnancy is going! Shannon and I (the one in the black suit) are having girls and Katie is having a little boy!

^^The beach belly relaxing with a good book!

^^Kitchen meal prep

^^So on the second day Shannon and I had a good laugh when we walked out of our rooms with pretty much the exact same one piece on, only in different colors. Gotta love the mom skirted suit!! πŸ™‚

^^So blessed to have these wonderful girls in my life!!

It was such a fun weekend, although I did miss Leah and Brett terribly! Saturday night Brett FaceTimed me with Leah before she went to bed and I teared up hearing her little voice tell me about her day with daddy! ALSO! Of course on Friday night I missed Leah’s first ever poo in the potty!!! It sounds so silly (and like such a mom thing) but I was seriously SO UPSET that I missed it!! Brett texted me with the whole story, complete with a proud picture of Leah eating her ice cream reward and I wanted to cry. As silly as it sounds, every milestone (poops and all!) are so special and it kills me to miss even one. However, I am WELL aware that I will be here for so many more potty poops and I’m willing to bet that it will lose it’s charm quick. πŸ˜‰ But, even still, I am so proud of our big girl!!

Sunday, I came home to a clean house complete with a freshly painted back patio, so of course Brett was a super dad/husband over the weekend. It was so sweet of him to give me a relaxing weekend with the girls AND take care of everything at home that needed to be done! Such an awesome weekend and a fun way to celebrate these 3 new babies that will soon be making their way into the world! πŸ™‚

Date Night

So Brett and I don’t get out on many date nights. At all. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I could count how many dates we’ve been out on since Leah was born TWO YEARS AGO on both hands. That’s pretty sad. It may have something to do with the fact that I’m a bit neurotic when it comes to finding a babysitter for Leah. Which can be seen as a bit ironic since I started babysitting at the age of 12 and obviously saw myself as the most mature, competent babysitter in the world. But sadly I cannot hire younger me. Therefore, the only times we have left Leah is with family members or good friends of mine…And this post is starting to sound like I need an intervention on my babysitting trust issues….

But, moving on!! A few months ago Brett and I opened up our home to a wonderful young lady who was completing her child life internship at the hospital where I work. And just recently she applied (and got accepted!) for a child life position we had open in our ER and she made the big move down to South FL to start her new career. We were lucky enough to have her stay with us again for a few days while she waited for her apartment to be ready and she generously offered to watch Leah so we could go out on an actual date! And since we just recently went out on a date in New York we felt like we were being spoiled! 2 date nights in one month!? Look at us crazy kids!!

Brett and I were actually on a date at PF Changs when I told him I was pregnant so we decided to head on back there for dinner because we don’t like change we were feeling sentimental.Β  And mostly because I’ve been craving their tofu lettuce wraps something fierce. So off we set at the senior citizen hour of 5:15 because we wanted to get there before happy hour ended at 6. (You can call us cheap, we don’t mind..) So there we were at 5:30 pm, scarfing down our lettuce wraps and spring rolls and dumplings and then we were done. And it was 6:15 pm. Which is a very embarrassing time to end a date night. Unless you are 80. I suggested a movie, but Brett had the better (and more romantic!) idea of setting out on a dessert adventure in South Beach, Miami. So off we drove, down the ocean lining A1A, while I quickly attempted to Google the best dessert place in Miami.

We decided (well really, my pregnancy cravings decided) on The Icebox Cafe mainly because Oprah claimed that they had the best cake in Miami. We are trusting you Oprah!! I also liked it because, although they were a full service restaurant, they offered a “cake bar” where you could order a piece to go, which was awesome since they were right across the street from the marina. So we get there and Brett had a moment of doubt because the place looked “too trendy” but I was determined to trust Oprah and her cake loving knowledge. Brett knew right away that he wanted the strawberry shortcake (his favorite) but I waffled back and forth between the coconut with butter cream frosting and the Oreo fudge cake. But, life is full of tough decisions, and I finally settled on coconut. I’m sneaky like that because I know Brett hates coconut so this ensured that I would get to eat my entire piece as well as some of his. I never admitted to being considerate when it comes to my dessert decision making.

^^It was a good decision because this cake was AH-MAZING. I liked it better than Brett’s strawberry shortcake that he deemed “Good, but nothing special.”

^^Baby loves cake.

We look our cake across the street and sat on a bench overlooking the bay (and the many million dollar yachts) and watched the sunset. It was fun and romantic and simple and totally perfect.

After cake we walked along the marina, picking out which yacht we would choose once we make our millions. Which could happen, you know. I’m not a HUGE fan of South Beach and it’s crazy party energy, but this part; the gorgeous palm trees and the picture perfect pink sunsets over the bay, is right up my alley.

^^Crappy quality Iphone picture to show our happiness and date night love.
After our walk we headed back home, up A1A, so we could oogle at all the beach front mansions. And then we got home at 9:30 pm, which is a much more respectable end time to a date night, right?? Or maybe I really am just a grandma. All in all, it was a PERFECT date night and I’m so glad I got to spend a wonderful night with this amazing husband of mine!!

Father’s Day Weekend

We headed up to the island last weekend to celebrate Father’s Day with the whole Becker clan.. It was funny because a few months ago Brett’s sister Lauren texted us and asked if she and her fiance, Jessup, could come down to FL for the weekend to visit. We, of course, said “sure!” and were excited to have a weekend to get to know the (soon to be!) new member of the Becker family. Well, then Brett’s father and brother realized that they could plan a FL business trip for the week following Father’s Day, so they, along with Brett’s mom and Brett’s brother’s wife, decided to all head down to FL for a fun family filled weekend at one of our favorite destinations! My sister-in-law and her husband are also expecting a new baby, just one month before us! It was fun getting to see them and having some good pregnant/baby talk with my sister-in-law. πŸ™‚

The weather started off iffy. The beginning of summer in South Florida brings rain and thunderstorms everyday and, looking at the weather forecast for the weekend, I was a bit worried that we would be losing our beach weekend, but the weather turned out fine! Sunny and warm, with a great breeze, during the day and amazing thunderstorms in the evening/night. Saturday night we all sat on the back patio and watched one of the most intense thunderstorms I have EVER seen! It’s insane to watch storms right on the beach because you can look out over the ocean and see the rain coming down in sheets. The storm brought some crazy lightning and some of the loudest thunder I have ever heard. We even witnessed lightning strike the sand right in front of the condo! Surprisingly, Leah sat on my lap through most of the storm, content as long as I was there to give her a snuggle, but at some point the thunder got crazy loud (which resulted in a few involuntary screams) and she finally decided that she had had enough storm watching.

We brought Lucy with us and she had a blast seeing everyone! My brother and sister-in-law are the ones who gave us Lucy to begin with (they have 2 goldens who had 9 puppies!) and it was like a family reunion with them! We brought her to the beach on Saturday and it was so much fun watching her run around the beach and play in the sand. She liked the water, but wasn’t too sure about the loud waves so we had to carry her past the wake and then let her swim in. Some pictures from our time on the beach:

15 weeks!

Leah reading with Lucy once we got back inside. These two have the sweetest relationship!!

Sunday we went out to lunch to celebrate Father’s Day. Although I missed my own father on this special day, it was great being able to celebrate with my amazing husband and father-in-law! After lunch we had a fun little family photo shoot with the couples (Although we seem to have missed taking a picture of Lauren and her fiance Jessup!)

Hope everyone had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend! We are off to North Carolina on Thursday to see (almost) my entire family and I am so excited (and I’ll be honest, I may be MOST excited to hug my squishy niece, Milly!) I will be back with, I’m sure, a ton of pictures!