while many people think the idea of relocating for 4 months is crazy, it will forever be one of our favorite things we've done as a family. definitely not the easiest, but the most worthwhile. not only has it provided financially for our family (and a whole lot of tuition!) but as we've left family and nearly all of our belongings behind, we've learned to fully rely on each other. we've learned that we can live anywhere, no matter the condition of the apartment, or the weather, as long as we're all together, anything is doable. we've experienced different cultures, environments and fell in love with every different part of the country. there have been memories that will forever be remembered and each destination holds a special place in my heart. starting with the most recent and working back, here are a few highlights of our previous summer destinations with a few instagram pictures...
nashville is first up! the girls and i got lost coming home from target on our first day there. we drove for 45 minutes completely turned around, i couldn't remember what the apartment complex looked like, what street we lived off of, and the gps system only got me more turned around. when we finally made it home, the girls climbed in the front seat with me and we sent a very tired, but deliriously happy picture to matthew. i still remember giggling in the front seat about the "crazy navigation lady that always gets us lost!" (the girls are young, therefore i can blame my mishaps on the navigation lady). and then there was the time we decided we'd have a cookout at the apartment pool. 5 minutes into roasting hotdogs a monsoon started. i have never seen rain like that! we stood under the overhang trying to figure out how in the world to make the walk home in torrential downpour. when we finally made it home we cooked s'mores over the stovetop and watched the lightening from the porch. there was the sunday evening we spent nearly two hours catching a whole jar of lightening bugs only to have gracie accidentally open the jar and let every single one out. my mom came to visit and watched the girls one night so we could go on a date. we aren't able to have date nights during the summer with matthew's work schedule, and those few hours together were one of my favorites of the whole summer. we drove through franklin and i turned to matthew and said, "i could retire here, after a life in a big city. this is where i picture us getting old."
portland was a summer to remember. it was chilly the entire time we were there, but was by far, one of the most beautiful places we've ever been. our tiny apartment was where i let maddie have at it with a plate of spaghetti. she was covered from head to toe. it was the first time that we relocated and gracie missed home. i will never forget matthew driving us all over portland until he found a carousel to take gracie on (her favorite thing to do in utah was ride a carousel). i can't talk (or write) about it without tearing up. i snapped a quick picture on my phone of her holding that ticket for a ride and i couldn't be more grateful for capturing that moment, because it was so much more than a carousel ride. francie the fly (gracie's imaginary pet) was born there, and looking back, it's the last time i remember her really being a toddler. we spent a very chilly, magical day at cannon beach where i remember gracie and i playing tag with matthew and maddie. the girls and i spent a lot of afternoons wandering target (it seriously rained a lot, and there were only so many museums to visit) buying supplies for crafts and way too many lunchables. when it wasn't raining, we walked down to the park every single night before bedtime. that's where rock collecting really took off, i'd carry a basket with me on our walks and by the end of the summer it weighed nearly 20 pounds. maddie solidified herself as the happiest baby there ever was. i watched the girl's little relationship form there, it made me so happy!
austin will always be a bittersweet memory. it was my hardest summer, and the time i've struggled the most as a mom and wife. after a winter in manhattan, we came home just in time to have maddie baby. it was a tough pregnancy with some tough complications (read more about that here) and i was ready for some calm. the week that maddie was born matthew came to me and said he felt like he should take the summer off school to go work in austin. i was adamantly against it. we had just gotten home from new york, we would be adjusting to life as a family of 4, and we weren't sure if maddie would require medical attention. i remember being angry that he wanted to uproot us after less than a month of being home. i hesitantly relented and watched him leave when maddie was 3 weeks old. i stayed back to make sure maddie was cleared at her 8 week appointment. life at home with a newborn and a very, very wild 19 month old left me feeling overwhelmed, and even that feels like an understatement. between my hormones and the anxiety of maddie, it was a lot to swallow. after nearly 7 weeks of being separated, i headed to texas to endure their hottest summer on record. however, after my hesitation with the whole thing, our summer turned out to be one of intense growth, not just for our family, but especially matthew and i. we learned to rely on each other in new ways, learned to communicate better than we ever had, and learned to trust that while we aren't always on the same page, and that we are totally different than one another, that we are absolutely on the same team. i learned how much i really, really love him, and no matter where we were living, i am the happiest when we are all together. with that said, it was where gracie learned to eat bbq, where maddie became the world's cutest and chubbiest baby and where we spent every morning at the pool. we lived in a one bedroom apartment with a barely working air conditioner in a state that never cooled down. we had a newborn waking up in the middle of the night and a not yet two year old adjusting to sleeping in a bed. our nights seemed like musical beds- gracie would get in bed with me, matthew would get up with maddie then get back in gracie's bed, gracie would switch back to her bed, i'd pull maddie in bed with me and so on. as soon as one of us woke up, we were all up. i still remember matthew and i making a bottle in the kitchen sometime in the middle of the night and looking at each other and laughing. we were exhausted, but it was where we discovered the joy of being a family of 4. looking back, i loved what that summer taught us more than anything else.
new york city felt like home, and it may have only taken a couple days to feel like that. in our tiny less than 500 square foot, nearly condemned apartment, a 16 month old gracie, a very pregnant me and a big accounting firm matthew conquered manhattan. the first picture we text our family was of gracie and i in our winter coats bundled up asleep on a mattress on the floor after a red eye flight- our heater wasn't working and the apartment was a little drab, but we loved it, every single part. we rode the subway, made friends with the doorman, walked everywhere and spent a small fortune in cereal for matthew (cereal is at least 3 times as expensive in new york). it helped that my sister and her husband were there (in a much nicer apartment that we could escape to) and were our personal tour guides. we met matthew for lunch, went sledding in central park and visited every single museum. gracie loved touring the met and i remember feeling so lucky to have her experience such incredible culture. we took a music class from a very tattooed guy that will forever hold the title of most amazing, overqualified musician to ever teach toddlers. we slushed around in our rainboots for the snowiest winter on record and discovered that new yorkers are quite possibly the friendliest people we've ever met. whether or not because i was very pregnant with a toddler, or just because they're great, they carried the stroller down stairs, offered seats on a subway, entertained gracie in restaurants and made us feel at home. people stopped to let gracie pet their dogs and we compared notes on parenthood (people there treat their dogs like children, and i fully understand that). we spent a snowy valentine's night in the tiny diner across the street from our apartment. it wasn't romantic or the least bit glamorous, but we were in new york and we didn't care at all. matthew left with a job offer and for a long while we assumed it was where we'd end up as soon as he finished his masters. after deciding on law school in utah, it was a tough thing to let go of.
california was by far, the easiest place we've lived. we were lucky enough to live with my parents for two summers. after matthew stopped playing basketball, he decided he'd go to work for his brother down in california. it was our first experience with his job and a total change from his basketball days. it was where we spent our first wedding anniversary and where i went from 6 months pregnant to ready to pop. my mom endured hours on end helping me pick out every single thing i possibly thought a newborn would need, as well as the endless shopping for crib bedding before offering to just make it if i'd finally pick something out. i was so nervous about becoming a mom, but for some reason, being under my parents roof helped calm those nerves. i remember one sunday watching "third trimester for dummies" on the discovery channel. as they showed women in labor, matthew and my dad both teared up talking about how amazing the whole process was. i sat with my head in-between me legs, absolutely terrified. after my mom started getting nervous about us not making it back to utah for my due date, we packed up and headed home, only to have gracie 2 days later. i wasn't even unpacked from the summer!
we spent the following summer at my parents house. my sisters rotated down to visit, it seemed someone was always there to help me through some of gracie's biggest milestones. it was where she learned to walk, where she had her first real meal and where her personality started to shine. we had her big first birthday party, where i was just sure i had come down with the flu. it was there that i found out, the very next day, that it wasn't as much the flu as much as me being pregnant with maddie!
so, with all of that, our plans for this summer are finalized! the first part of our summer will be spent here in utah, for the first time since we've been married! matthew received an incredible opportunity with a great firm in salt lake. we were initially a little torn about not relocating for the whole summer, but we couldn't pass up the offer and are so excited about all the activities we can do! between the hiking, swimming, the fourth of july, we can't wait! especially knowing this will be the first summer matthew will have saturdays off, and better yet, even holidays! (ps- this is the mountain range we look at from our house...matthew's mom lives right on the edge of the mountain, it's pretty amazing here!)
the second part of our summer will be spent in washington, dc. it will be a great educational experience for matthew to see the contrast between the two firms and also our life here in utah versus a big city. luckily, my aunt and uncle live there and are helping us find an apartment to sublet. i'm making a list of places to visit with the girls and would love any recommendations of things to do and places to eat! i cannot wait to explore the smithsonian, take the girls to the white house (they're hoping to spot bo and sunny, president obama's dogs, so they can take a picture to bring back to lucy), the monuments, the museums- i imagine i'll be trying to cram as much culture and experience as possible into our short time there!