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Love and Rhythms During Tricky Times

August 06, 2018

We recently left our 4,000 sq ft home in Tampa for an (adorable) 1,200 sq ft beach condo in Pensacola. We're renting for two months while our forever home is being finished here. We moved early so the kids can start school. Luckily the place we're in is furnished, and our buyers in Tampa are wonderful and allowed us to "rent back" for two months to store our stuff. Oh, the logistics of moving. :)

While Bryan is handling the tactical parts of starting services, stopping services, working remotely for his Tampa company, and coordinating with the movers and our builder, I'm spearheading... the trickier side of things... the day to day of loving three little hearts through a cross-state move. Though we always knew we'd move home to Pensacola one day, the day we officially made the decision that it was time... I knew this would be the trickiest, most important part of things. Our kids were born in Tampa and, even though we travelled back and forth to Pensacola 6-8 times every year (yes, I've nursed in every Starbucks parking lot down I10, discovered every safe rest stop along the way, and memorized every oak tree up Hwy 19 -- seriously, my next book should be all about road trips, ha!), this change is still well, a big change. New friends. New home(s). New places. New faces. New everything.

If you've read A Simplified Life you know that rhythms and routines are the structure around which we shape our daily lives. Let me start this conversation with this caveat though: FLEXIBILITY is key. Flexible routines that can be scrapped, changed, or flipped on their heads at any given moment are important. Sometimes we scrap routines just to teach our kids to "roll with it" and "go with the flow" when life happens.

I started making notes about the little routines, cadences, traditions, and special "objects" that comfort my kids, make them feel safe, and give them that sense that "everything is as it should be" (even if "everything" looks different). Now that we've been here in Pensacola for a handful of days, I'm noticing what's working and what doesn't really matter too much. Personally, I'm noticing some of the "objects" that I'm really glad we brought. These are "things" that make me feel... like I'm at home. Just as its important to nurture their little hearts, it's important to nurture Bryan's and my own... as we are in a big time of transition as well. 

Off the cuff, here are a few things I'm really glad we did before we left:

  • We made time to hug a lot of friends. I'm really glad we did this. Like, I moved meetings and re-scheduled play dates, and cleared my plate where possible so that I could drive 20 minutes away to show up at a friends door just for a hug. Those were special.
  • We tied up loose ends around town. We left reviews for favorite service providers and shops (see my list here). We made sure to visit our favorite spots one last time.
  • We packed only the bare necessities. Obviously we're in a smaller place. But there's something quite awesome about the fact that it takes me 15 minutes to clean this condo from top to bottom. My old house took hours, easily.
  • We packed things like my blue and white jewelry tray that sits on my bathroom sink (a gift from Shay Cochrane), our favorite coffee mugs, the melamine plates we use every day, the cutting board I use multiple times a day, and our favorite dry erase calendars / lists (of course) to hang on the fridge. I asked Brady what "things" made our house feel like a home and he said "pineapples." That made me cry and laugh at the same time. Here are some of our favorites 1 | 2 | 3.
  • We are committed to our Friday pizza nights. It may be a new brand of pizza, or it may be pizza cooked in the oven at home (we're excited to try this brand this upcoming weekend), but Friday pizza nights live on!
  • Bedtime routines stay the same. Bath, brush teeth, stories (or funny tales told by Daddy), prayers, and bed. All three kids are in the same room right now. We're still figuring that out... 
  • I've also kept everything for the move in my Simplified Planner (yes, shameless plug because it just REALLY works for us). I have the kids school forms, information on ballet classes, paint swatches, gate and key codes galore, and so much more. Keeping our ever changing schedule (and -- now that my team is split down the middle Central / Eastern time zone -- it's a whole other layer of complication to simplify). Giving all the info a home really helps keep my brain on track.
  • I also know that more than any "thing" or any routine, my kids feel most at home when they are with Bryan and I. People, more than stuff or traditions, are what they need the most. The book Simplicity Parenting is my favorite parenting book I've ever read. In it, the author talks about getting kids through "tricky" times -- and about "soul fires" that accompany those times. I've already seen a few with my kiddos, but knowing to expect them helps fuel me with extra grace and patience. Basically a soul fire is when things just become too much and they need some down time (love, blankets, movies, cheetos -- whatever your kids love languages are, haha) to soothe and smooth things out.

I've been realizing a couple of things the past few days. Though I've tried to manage the heck out of this transition, my kids really are so much more resilient than I anticipated. Also, the Gulf of Mexico is right outside our door right now so they're like, "whatever, we're good, mom!!" I'm looking forward to school starting soon so they can dive into that "new-ness" and we can get into the swing of things for the year. So many fun things on the horizon!

We're Coming Home

July 31, 2018

More than ten years ago, Bryan asked me to be his wife. To say it was a dream come true would be an understatement. Before we’d even gone on our first date, I was practicing my first name with his last. :) He was handsome and funny and such a leader. I think that’s what I loved most about him… he led. See, I’m a little type-a (ahem, nice to meet you, I make planners for a living)… and to find someone who will confidently and gracefully lead a “type-a’er” like me… is, well, amazing. So when he suggested we live in Tampa (he was currently living in Tampa, we dated long distance for a while) when we got married, I was excited and ready for the adventure. We both knew we’d move home to Pensacola before we had children.

Ten years, two houses, and three kids later, here we are. Leaving Tampa to move home to Pensacola. But trusting this husband of mine who knew, before I did, what I needed... was one of the best decisions I've ever made. My time in Tampa started a bit rocky. I was so homesick it was palpable. My family is very, very close and I missed them with all of me. But little by little, Bryan and I became a family. And, even though I fought it at first, I grew to love Tampa. We learned to be a family all our own... and we learned to depend on each other. We started a business together. We created a home together. We found our community. But it wasn't easy at first.

In my book, Grace, Not Perfection, I talk a lot about community in the last third of the content. Much of those thoughts and feelings came from living in a city that wasn’t home. It wasn’t my city. I wasn’t raised here. My lifelong friends weren’t here. I didn’t have memories here. Having children and starting my own family, creating my own traditions, and making my own friends and memories… changed everything. We began to find “our spots,” “our people,” and “our community.” We found a wonderful church. We made friends who I refused to say goodbye to because they’ve all promised to come visit us in Pensacola like… next week (you hear that, guys!?). ;) 

I like to compare the timing of much of our lives with the decision to separate my twins into different rooms at home. I was convinced I’d have them share a room as long as humanly possible. But one day, I woke up, and just knew it was time to give them their own spaces. Moving home to Pensacola was always the plan for us, but we knew that we’d have to wait until the time was right. And one day, after a trip home to Pensacola, we just knew… the time was right. It’s like that gut-feeling, ya-just-know, Holy-Spirit-speaking-to-you kind of thing. 

I thought I’d be elated to leave Tampa behind, but I’m a big ball of feelings spanning every inch of the emotional spectrum today. We’re so excited for our new adventure in our hometown — raising our children around loads of family. We’ve been building our forever home for a while now and, though we’ll be renting (the cutest two bedroom beach house) for a bit while construction is completed, we have so much hopeful anticipation for our new lives there with so much family just miles away. I’m also so very sad. Real, true-blue friends are so hard to come by. But I also know that those special friendships stand the test of time and distance. 

Tonight, the biggest blessing came to us. The family purchasing our home came to visit -- with fresh baked goodies, the cutest pineapple hand towel, and pool floats for our two month "beach adventure." I may have been all teary eyed talking to the sweet mom who'd be raising her children in this home. It's clear our paths crossed over this home for a reason. Talking to her, I realized all the pieces were falling into place. My office will become a dining room and I'm so excited about that for them. I always thought this space would be beautiful utilized in that way.

Now, after tucking my kids in bed for the last time in this place, I realize that I'm grieving this space a bit. I will miss it so much. We have so many special memories here. But I'm so excited to know it will be well loved once we leave. And I know we have so much excitement on the horizon realizing a dream we've had for ten years in Pensacola.

So... see ya later home we built a family in. See ya later favorite pediatrician (who single handedly got us through “the early years” with so much patience). See ya later favorite grocery store and neighborhood coffee shop and perfectly shaded park just two minutes away. See ya later beautiful neighborhood. See ya later office that held so much growth and so many memories. See ya later great big city skyline. See ya later best airport in the USA. See ya later favorite preschool and elementary school. See ya later best friends of both the grown up and little people kind. See ya later Chipotle, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes 😩😂.

These adorable hats are from Aviate.

I’ve learned over the past few months that home is truly where the heart is. And sometimes, that’s in multiple spots on the map. We are so grateful to have had ten amazing, trying, growth-filled, fun years in Tampa. And we are so excited to be headed back to a city that has grown infinitely since 2008. It’s grown with new people and new buildings, but mostly Pensacola has grown in spirit — while still maintaining that small-town, Southern culture. We are so excited to be back in the city that never let go of our hearts. And we are SO excited to be surrounded by so much family. We can't wait to be Pensacolians once again!!

--

Favorite Tampa recommendations:

Amazing pediatrician's office

Wonderful functional medicine doc

Incredible church

Favorite Starbucks

Best trainer around

Favorite dinner spots (takeout, date night, brunch spot)

Great small wine bar

Favorite nail salon

Favorite hair stylists (Whitney, Lauren, and Cortney)

Favorite local photographers: Laura Foote and Tiffany Mcclure

 

* Thank you, Tiffany, for these incredible, priceless photos of our family!!!

 

copyright 2018 emily ley