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!

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™‚

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…

Gone to Carolina in my mind….

Oh my goodness, I have SO many pictures from our time in North Carolina (sadly, 90% of them are crappy Iphone pictures…) and yet, I feel like the photos only represent about 1/3 of our entire trip. We did SO much over the course of our 5 day vacation that it was impossible to catch every moment. But, with that being said, I’ll still bore you with the 50 odd random photos that I did manage to take. I’ll warn you, most of them are of my sister’s baby Amelia, because she seriously is the cutest little squish that I have ever seen!

As silly as it sounds, one of the things that I was MOST excited about with this trip was getting Leah and Milly in the tub together. I love, love, LOVE having a daughter together with my older sister and I take any opportunity possible to have them do things together (including bathing). Lets be honest, there is just something adorable about two chubby babes in the tub together and I was excited that Milly was finally old enough to sit up on her own and splash around with Leah. Leah was pretty thrilled at having a tub mate and I think she is going to greatly enjoy her little sister/brother once they are old enough to play with!

One of the best parts of the trip was our hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My sister and her husband had a hiking back pack for Milly, but since we did not have anything for Leah, sadly she and Brett had to miss out on the hike. They drove with us to the base of the trail and then stayed back, letting Leah run around the base and the visitors center, while the rest of us hiked to the top. It was funny because it was 80 degrees out when we left, but once we got up the mountain to the trail, it had dropped over 20 degrees!! My sister Caitlin and I were freezing our butts off, but luckily our brother-in-law came to the rescue with 2 long sleeve t-shirts that he happened to have in his backpack. Unfortunetely is was a super cloudy/foggy day (which did make the trail look pretty cool!) but it made it so we didn’t have the best views at the top. Still a great hike, none the less. My parents have hiked all over North Carolina, but this trail is one of their favorites. They named the hike “Prayer Mountain” due to the great ledge at the top where they sat and prayed a LOT over the year whenever there was a need. I’ll tell you what, there is something about sitting up there, admiring God’s amazing creation, that does fill you with the desire to pray!

And the BEST part was after the hike, when my parents took us to this A-MAZING bakery that sold these pastries called Mountain Eclairs. They were delicious and tough to finish, even when splitting them, because they were SO incredibly huge and filled with so much amazing cream! It definitely was the perfect ending to a hard hike! Leah greatly enjoyed reaping the benefits of the hard hike, without putting in any of the work…

Some pictures from our time out and about my parents gorgeous town of Asheville…..

Also during our visit….
We celebrated some birthdays (both of my sisters had birthdays at the end of May)

Leah waiting for her cake. It was funny, because after having 2 birthday celebrations in a row, every time we sat down to dinner Leah said “Happy B’rday!! Cake!!”

Leah enjoyed walking my parent’s dog, Cooper, and she pretty much insisted on taking Cooper for a walk around the block every day.

These two girlies were so, so cute together. I’ve been worried at how Leah will react with the new baby, but I really think she will be a great big sister. She LOVED playing with Milly, giving her huge hugs around the neck, petting her head, and exclaiming “oh no! Meme no cry!” whenever Milly got upset. It was so much fun getting to watch them interact and it made me even more excited to add number 2 into the mix!

On our last night in town we went to a local minor league baseball game. My brother-in-law is a huge baseball fan and it was adorable to watch him hold Leah on his lap and try to teach her about the game. I thought Leah wouldn’t last long (the game started at 7 and we were there past 9) but she LOVED every minute of “Bay-ball!” and she was happy and content to be passed from lap to lap and watch the game all evening.

I think this picture is deceiving. When I take pictures my bump still looks super small, but I swear it’s there!!! I think I look bigger in person than in pictures, but I know there still isn’t much there, even at 17 weeks. Oh the joys of being tall.

Such a great time and I cannot wait to go back! Asheville is such a hip town, very trendy and artsy with tons of cool shops and restaurants, and yet it also sits surrounded by gorgeous mountains and countryside. I think I would move there in a heartbeat, but I would have to convince this husband of mine. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My wonderful parents just made the visit too much fun, I didn’t want it to end!! Until next time, North Carolina!

Gone to Carolina in my mind….

We had a blast in Asheville, NC for Thanksgiving this year. This was actually the first time we had ever been there since my parents recently moved there at the beginning of the summer. There’s just something about Asheville….even way down here in South Florida, whenever I mentioned that we were traveling to Asheville for Thanksgiving EVERYONE I spoke to seemed to know something about the city and would always remark on how gorgeous the city and surrounding area was. I started to think that I must be the only person alive who had never heard of this magical place up until my parents moved there!! So, after months and months of hearing only fabulous things about Asheville; from friends, strangers, and my parents alike, I had some pretty high expectations about this place and I can honestly say that the town did not disappoint.
My parents packed a lot into our short 4 day stay; trips to tour the Biltmore Estates and Grove Park Inn, exploring the downtown area with it’s many shops, and eating at all their favorite restaurants and bakeries. I think in order to do and see everything they wanted to show us we would have had to be there for 2 weeks! I was sold on the town in a second when we drove past a Trader Joe’s and Greenlife (Whole Foods Market) within a block of each other and within minutes to their home. I would seriously kill to have a Trader Joe’s close by so that alone pretty much convinced me to pack up and move north.
But seriously, this town? Amazing. It’s like a mini New York city except cleaner….and with more hippies. The downtown area has an artsy, urban feel to it, and yet, just outside town are villages with gorgeous historic homes and the awe-inspiring Biltmore Estate. We (along with a hundred other people with the same idea) decided to tour the Biltmore Estate on Friday and I couldn’t help imagining that I was in Downton Abbey the entire time. It’s so crazy because on the 2 hour tour you only get to see about 1/4 of the entire house. Seriously that place, with it’s 250 rooms, would take you an entire day to tour the whole house. My sister and I kept laughing as we imagined being guests in that house, back in it’s prime, and wandering around lost as you tried to make your way back to your room at night after dinner. That place seriously had stair cases up and down and all over.
Saturday my parents took us to explore Grove Park Inn and Brett and I went around trying to find some good locations for our Christmas card photos. I think we got a lot of cute ones to choose from, although little Miss Drama didn’t want to smile or hold still for most of them. Of course when we took her pictures alone, she posed and proudly said “cheeeeeeseee!!” for every one. She’s not one to shy away from the spot light.
The only negative part of our entire trip was the drive back on Sunday. Yes, we drove. Since my parents moved into a much smaller house than they had in Pennsylvania, they had a lot of wonderful furniture to give us that they no longer needed (including a dining room table and a complete wicker furniture set for our back porch!) Now, I’m not one to say no to free furniture, especially free expensive furniture, so it was a very easy decision to drive so we could rent a trailer for the way back. The drive there on Wednesday was quick and easy, even if it was 10 hours long. The ride home on Sunday, however, with all the Thanksgiving travelers, was a mess and it took us 14 1/2 hours to get home!! Leah did AMAZING though. I told Brett that I seriously think we have a magical baby, as I do not know many 15 month olds who could sit in the car for 14 1/2 hours and not lose their cool. We were way prepared though and I will definitely be writing a blog post on what worked for me when it came to traveling long distance with a toddler!
So Asheville….we loved it and I can see why everyone else seems to as well! We are so excited to go back in the spring or summer when we can hike those gorgeous mountains! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!