Home Is Wherever I’m with You


Home is a fluid term.

It has meant so many different things to us over the years.

Whenever I smell salt air or hear seagulls, I feel at home. Those are some of my earliest memories from a childhood spent in a tiny coastal Florida town.

Home also meant Tallahassee. And for at least a decade, it meant the little blue house with the red front door. The place where we learned to adult and brought babies home and navigated some of the most brutal and some of the most beautiful times of our lives.

But then we moved and before we knew it, Atlanta felt like home. Our growing family bonded over a shared adventure. Parents and kids alike were on equal footing as we all faced new routines, new places, making new friends.

Home was our little rental house where Abby took her first steps and the big kids learned to ride bikes. Where I learned how far I could push my sleep-deprived body and where I also learned how to ask for help. Finally.

Home is the “unicorn house” we found together. Our answered prayer, a house that checked off so many boxes for an incredible bargain courtesy of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

home is wherever i'm with you


The one thing connecting all these places?

My people.

The grubby hands. The smiling eyes. The fussing and the laughing and the singing from the next room.

The smell of freshly washed toddler hair. The bear hugs from arms that are somewhere between man and boy. The gentle tugs of my hair while little fingers practice new braiding techniques.


This is what home will always be.

And this is what we take with us. It is not limited to buildings or towns. And that’s a good thing. Because we are about to blow out the traditional limits of what home means.

In just three weeks, we will pack up a summer’s worth of daily life and begin a thousand-mile drive. Jake accepted a 13-week assignment as a travel nurse for Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in Connecticut.


Our inner gypsies are thrilled. We cannot wait to see and explore and do. We are already planning adventures in New York City, Boston, Plymouth, Montreal, Philadelphia, Washington, and so many places in between!

The inner Type A control freak is completely overwhelmed. Our calendar is insanely full before we leave.

Oh. And we don’t actually technically really have a place to live just yet. Cue absolute stress meltdown.

Remember that bit up there about me learning how to ask for help?

Well, friends, this is me asking for help.

Know anyone in the New Haven area who’d like to bring in some summer income on a garage apartment or an attic or a basement or a camper or a boat or a van down by the river? We’re nonsmokers. No pets with us. (April will be at summer camp with Nana and PopPop.)

We’re friendly people. I mean–we’re absolutely crazy–but we’re sweet. =)

Comment or email with any leads! If your tip leads to us finding a place to live, I’ll give you a handpainted wooden sign of your choice from my Etsy shop, Haven Creek!

home is wherever i'm with youSo, friends? We’re really doing this! We’re taking this show on the road. If you’re in the New England area, let me know. If you know of any awesome roadside stops between Atlanta and Connecticut, let me know that, too.

If you would like to follow along on our adventure, be sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram. I cannot even begin to imagine the ups and downs this summer will bring us.

I hope you’ll join us on our journey!

The 4 Paws Adventure Begins – Road Trip!

*This post is part of a series originally posted on my former blog, Stinker Babies. I’m reposting here for families who are interested in learning more about the process of being matched with a service dog for their children. This series was written during March of 2013.*

They say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I say, “A journey of a thousand miles (or 785 to be exact) begins with a portable DVD player.”

We started our adventure yesterday afternoon with a rented Chevy Traverse crammed full of everything we might even remotely find possibly necessary for the next couple of weeks.  There is even a Crock Pot and a toaster oven somewhere in the pile.

We made it out of Florida before someone had to stop and go potty.  Before you are too impressed, let me admit that we only live about 10 miles from the state line.

Our goal was to make it to Chattanooga, TN before finding a place to stop for the night.  Our kids will not fall asleep in the car so driving all night was definitely not a good idea.  For anyone.  We found a Holiday Inn Express just off the interstate that worked perfectly for us.  There is something to be said about just walking in with no reservation.  If you get a smart employee, they will usually give you a bit of a discount.    And put you on the top floor.  At the end of the hallway.  With the stairwell between your family and the nearest neighbor.  Our kids who were so sleepy when we stopped were miraculously energized by riding the elevator.  It was a long night.

When the sun rose the next morning, we looked out over the beautiful Tennessee hills and couldn’t wait to get back on the road.  After breakfast downstairs, we hopped back into the rental car (that I am totally in love with and wish I could keep) and tried to get a good start before the rain caught us.

To keep the kids entertained, I had a proud mommy moment when I came up with a fun game.  We named all the colors we could think of and wrote them on a score card.  Each time we saw a semi truck, we would put a tick mark next to the matching color.  We called it our research project and planned to find the most popular color for semi trucks.

I did not think this thing through.  Do you have any idea how many semi trucks are on the interstate on a Monday?  Combine the hundreds of trucks out and about with the obsessive tendencies of my sweet son (who would be an incredibly thorough research assistant, by the way) and you have a game that was forbidden to leave the state.  The most popular color (by far) is white.  You know.  Just in case it ever comes up.  Like at a dinner party.  At a truck stop.  Or Jeopardy.  Who knows?

We made it to Kentucky just in time for lunch.  We were pretty tired of sandwich-type meals, so Jake suggested KFC.  I knew they had stuff besides fried chicken these days, so I agreed.  When we got settled in at our booth in the window that looked out over the misty foothills while Alison Krauss played on the radio, I started giggling.  The fact that we were eating at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kentucky just entertained me way more than it should.  That’s when I knew delirium had set in.

A few (hundred) hours later, we didn’t think we would ever see Ohio.  Then we rounded a curve on I-75 and there was Cincinnati just across the river.  It was beautiful!  And terrifying.  We timed it just right to see what rush hour is like.  But it didn’t matter!  We had made it to Ohio!!!

After making it through bumper to bumper traffic and then immediately getting us lost in more bumper to bumper traffic, we finally rolled into our Home Sweet Homewood Suites.

Just in time for the free supper (with wine!) and to meet fellow blogger and 4 Paws classmate, Nicole, from Modified Mamas.

We got all unpacked in our comfy room and settled in and now I cannot sleep.  I am so excited and nervous and happy and scared all at the same time.  In the morning, we will meet April.  I hope everything works out beautifully.  I will try to blog at least a short update every day.  I know there are a lot of parents who are considering a service dog for their family, so I want to give you an honest insider’s look into the good, the bad, and the amazing during this experience.

For those of you who are headed to 4 Paws in the future, I just have to say we’ve been really pleased with Homewood Suites (the recommended hotel).  They have been very accommodating during the reservation process and check-in.  The free nightly meals are pretty decent, too!  Here are a few pictures of the room for any of you in upcoming classes who want a good look!  We have the one bedroom suite with two double beds.

*I may have lost the pictures from this post. I’m working on finding copies and will update if I do!*