New England is for Home Owners

When my husband and I moved to Rhode Island, we sold the home where our marriage began in Southern Alabama and drove miles and miles to a whole new world in the Northeast. Since his new job covers a fairly large area, we decided it would be wise to rent for a while in Rhode Island while we explored the area and decided where it would be best to settle down.

That time came sooner rather than later and we are excited to now be two weeks in our lovely new abode. One caveat: we bought a house in...wait for it... Massachusetts!

(Hence the blog name change! This Southern Belle's road continued on a few miles over state lines.)

Thanks in huge part to Kristy Oliveira of Remax for helping
 us get into our meant-to-be home!

We are so excited to settle into this beautiful home and create many wonderful memories over the next several years.

Naturally, we traded our southern chalet for a beautifully classic New England Colonial and we couldn't feel more blessed and right at home!



It wasn't the easiest journey getting here but everything fell into place perfectly in the end. While we looked at many houses, this one immediately felt like ours. The only problem: the day we were shown the house for the first time (just a few days fresh on the market) there was already another offer on the table. The always-thoughtful and rational Reillys then made one of their only "rash" decisions and put an offer in that night (along with a letter to the owners- if you know me at all, you aren't surprised!). Our offer wasn't accepted; however, something inside me told me it wasn't over. A week later, our realtor-turned-friend, Kristy, gave me the call I somehow knew, or at least hoped, was coming: the other offer fell through and we could put another offer in. It truly was meant to be, perfectly orchestrated every step of the way.

Stay tuned as we make memories, decorate, get festive, and continue my journey of learning (and learning to love) the New England way of life.

See also: southern belle fighting to hang on to the "y'all" and reject the "yous guys" and "wicked pissah."

New England is for Runners

Last year, I uncharacteristically decided to sign up for a half marathon through Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I had previously never run more than 2 or 3 miles and hadn't a clue how to enjoy it- let alone not die from 13.1 miles of it- but the idea of doing it for an amazing cause and having people invested in my progress was the push I needed. My best friend Mallory has a very personal tie to LLS and has worked for them for many years so with her help and encouragement, I signed up for the Rock n Roll half marathon in New Orleans, which was just four months away at the time.

After I crossed that finish line with my fellow purple-wearing teammates, I vowed to let my legs have a little break but I would definitely be signing up for another race.

There is just something so liberating and joyous about pushing yourself through each mile, some feeling euphoric and some feeling laborious, but finally crossing the finish line VICTORIOUS! (It sounds wicked- New England lingo- cheesy, but it is true).

On the day of my half marathon in New Orleans, my sweet in-loves said that they were signing up for another go at the Finish at the 50 5k at Patriots Place in Foxborough, MA on July 3. Instead of the 5k again though, they decided on the 10k! How awesome is that? It had become an annual tradition for them and they were taking it up a notch in 2016. We gushed over how nice it would be if Shane and I lived close enough to do the race with them...

Lo and behold, just a few months later, we were close enough! We moved just in time to participate in the Finish at the 50 (I ran, Shane cheered) and it felt so wonderful and right to be near our family, doing something so seemingly normal together.





Everything about our life in New England felt so right- so right at home. It didn't take long for us to feel settled and secure that we were where we belonged. Doing things like this with family only confirmed that. Mix that feeling with all the endorphins running through my veins and I was one very happy chica!

It didn't take long after that to get into a running groove and looking forward to future races where I could not only enjoy the route, but also see new corners of our new beautiful home. I have become involved in the local yoga studio and quickly met some beautiful souls who became instant friends, and bonus! They also loved to run. Early morning runs became a much anticipated part of my weeks! 

My beautiful yogi runners- Rachael and Emelye!


As we watched the sunrise over our little slice of paradise a few mornings a week, we realized that there were probably other yogis who would be interested in running together. Why not create a club?  What would you call such a club, though?

running + yoga = ROGA!

Pretty soon, we had our inaugural Roga run on Labor Day. While I was once self conscious of running and afraid to run with others who may be stronger, better, or faster, sharing the common bond of loving both running and yoga was more than enough to bond a group together and make an early morning holiday 5-mile run enjoyably challenging.




Growing up, I never participated in team sports- or sports in general. I dabbled in dance and theater
but never knew what it felt like to be a part of a team and enjoy the benefits of breaking a good sweat. It may sound silly, but growing to love something that physically challenges me has been a fairly new endevour but one I have welcomed wholeheartedly. To have two things now (running and yoga)  that feel like mine, that challenge me, connect me to others, and grow me mentally and physically- well, I consider that to be a great gift.

Emelye and I at the Run to the Rock 10k in Plymouth, MA!
Each day of life in Rhode Island has been confirmation that Shane and I are exactly where we belong. God knew what He was doing opening this door and I am truly blessed to belong to this unbelievable community.


Rhode Island is for [Ice Cream] Lovers

If you've known Shane and me for any amount of time, you know that we both nurse a pretty gnarly sweet tooth. We will make any excuse for desert or a treat any day of the week- especially when we are out of our normal routine on vacation or with visitors- or, in this case- moving from Alabama to Rhode Island and wanting to do as the locals do!

Before we moved to Tiverton, I scoured Yelp for local hot spots and local's favorite restaurants
(bonus for those with an expansive gluten free selection!). One common thread on reviews around Tiverton was ice cream. Being that I recently traded my dairy-free lifestyle for a gluten-free one (among 19 other things that my body despises. Long story for another post if you're really interested), I was excited to be in a position to try out all this famous ice cream touted by Tivertonians (I may have just made that up).

One thing was evident: people in Tiverton had very strong alliances to either Gray's or Helger's ice cream. One review I read went so far to say that a man lied to his wife about taking their daughter to the ice cream shop opposite of his wife's favorite. If she found out, there would be hell to pay for that poor husband. Is there such thing as irrevocable ice cream differences?

One thing seemed very obvious to Shane and me: we had to try both!


While they were both delicious for different reasons, there was one caveat- No one mentioned a third contender! 

Much closer to our home than either Gray's or Helger's (too close, one might say), was the Moose Cafe. 


Having reintroduced dairy and having three delicious ice cream options at our fingertips was definitely feeding our sweet teeth. While not good for diets, it was definitely good for date nights!



Thank you for the very sweet welcome, Tiverton! We would gladly support local businesses by trying, and retrying the local ice cream establishments (as a business owner myself, I am also a supporter of local businesses #shoplocal). While the Reilly jury is still out on which one is the best, the Moose definitely gets a few extra points for their ABUNDANCE of flavor choices and the fact that they carry a gluten-free cone. Shane loved the homemade waffle cone at Helgers and we both loved the coffee chip flavor at Grey's. When it comes to ice cream, it's hard for us to leave anyone out. 


For the first (several) trips to get ice cream, Shane always ordered the same thing, a soft-serve twist in a waffle cone, add chocolate jimmies (yes, they're called jimmies in the Northeast, not sprinkles as I have been accustomed to for my 27 years as a Southern Belle). They say opposites attract, my dear husband and I much like a chocolate and vanilla twist, so I had to try a new flavor each time. So far, there hasn't been one I didn't like. 

While my taste buds are happy in Tiverton, my waistline is waving the flag of caution. We've now established an "ice cream only on weekends" rule but that has already been broken once or twice. As I write this, Shane has texted me to ask me out on a weeknight ice cream date. What respectable wife would turn that down!? Surely not I- I am a Southern Belle deeply rooted in chivalry, old-fashioned traditions, and respectable gender roles after all. 

So far, Rhode Island has agreed with me across the board, the ice cream just being the icing on the cake. 

Seeing 4th of July History in Bristol, Rhode Island

Before moving to Rhode Island, I scoured the internet for every list and blog that spelled out what local Rhode Islanders did for fun, ate as staples, and went for coffee (Dunkin, obviously, but there are other great choices too! Coming soon to the blog.)

One of the  events I kept seeing pop up on lists about how great Rhode Island is was the Bristol 4th of July Celebration.


Now that I live in one of the 13 original colonies, I am surrounded by so much amazing American history! The very first 4th of July parade strolled down the streets of Bristol, Rhode Island in 1785! That's 231 years of patriotic parading... I just knew I had to be there.

Shane and I arrived in Bristol an hour or so before the parade was to start. As soon as we pulled off the highway, streets were covered in parked cars and peppered with pedestrians donning their red, white, and blue.

After a little walk, we found a great spectating spot near the water and passed the time until the parade was to start with our favorite pastime: people watching.

One thing this Southern Belle has learned in the few weeks of being a New England resident is this: people here are actually really nice they are just also in a really big hurry and will probably not be the first one to talk to a stranger; however; if said stranger (eh hem! Southern girl who can't help but talk to strangers over here!) initiates a nice hello/good morning/happy Fourth of July, they will be more than pleased to respond in kind. I can accept that!

Another thing I've learned so far: it actually does get hot in the Northeast. Don't let this smile fool you- there were sweat down my back and a sunburn brewing on my nose and knees.

Once the parade began, I kept finding myself a little emotional! It was so neat to see all of the floats and fellow patriots who came out to experience 231 years of history. I felt honored to witness it.



I waved enthusiastically at the parade-walkers, exchanged "Happy Fourth!" sentiments (albeit my 'r' was the only one pronounced), and chatted with Shane about each piece of history that passed us. There were memorial floats, replicas of air crafts and memorabilia, real muskets, and authentic garb galore.

       



The floats weren't strictly from Bristol either! Many were from surrounding communities but others were from Minnesota, Texas, even the Bahamas. You certainly don't have to be from the town that established the first 4th of July parade to celebrate with them.

  

I kept desperately wanting to know who all these people who were walking in and watching the parade were. Did they live in Bristol or come in from a nearby city, like we did? Had this been their family tradition for as long as they could remember or did this day mark the beginning of a new tradition-like I hope it would for Shane and me? Did they find themselves overwhelmed with emotions and American pride or was it just something to do on their day off from work? Was the parade the highlight of their day or were they heading to another celebration afterwards?



As floats passed and people waved, I also began to do some homework. These were businesses and causes I wanted to learn more about and support. Were some of my future friends on these floats? Would I be able to hop on one next year? I took notes of a few organizations that I may like to join and told Shane that my goal was to indeed participate in the parade in the future. I want to embrace everything I can about being a new Rhode Islander and seeing this parade seemed like the perfect initiation!

I have been told that Bristol, Rhode Island is a great place to visit on the other 364 days of the year, as well. If the gorgeous streets we walked down to and from the parade are any indication, I would say that that's probably right! I am looking forward to our next drive to Bristol to experience everything else the historically beautiful town has to offer.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite sights of the day. Parading is tiring work for a wee little patriot!








The Literal Road to Rhode Island

If you didn't yet read how we came to move to Rhode Island, check out my previous post here!

Wednesday June 15 came quickly. We previously sold quite a few belongings and packed up a moving truck that was on the smaller side and a real gamble as to whether or not all of our stuff would fit. We cleaned our home, ready for the next family who would make precious memories there, and shed a few tears. Okay that's a lie, we shed a LOT of tears.

So, on that Wednesday, with all too fitting weather (torrential downpour for days), we put our last few things in the back of the truck, drove one car up the trailer behind the moving truck, and got our furbabies settled in the SUV. That's right- Shane drove one vehicle and I drove another. We would be embarking on this 23 hour drive as a caravan. This would be interesting!



I experienced quite a flood of miscombulated emotions. I wept for the home that I now saw in the rear-view mirror but glowed at the life that was still before us. I also was experiencing that daily anxiety over thinking I forgot something- turning off my flat iron, closing the garage door, leaving my wallet on the counter. Of course, this was all impossible- our precious house was completely empty and we wouldn't be returning there after a trip.

Day 1

Driving with our two precious, quiet, and well-behaved (where's that crying laughing emoji when I need it) for an extended period of time proved to be pretty interesting. They had never been in the car for longer than the hop, skip, and jump to the groomer or vet so the first hour of our car ride was filled with lots of anxious and curious puppy emotions. After we had that under our belts, they (and their mother) began to calm down. Bathroom stops should be smooth then, right?

WRONG!

The first time we stopped, about four hours in, was terrible! They were jumping over me to get to Shane, who they could see standing near the car, there were so many new cars, smells, and people to check out, and they were way too excited to do their business. Ugh. Getting back into the car was even worse (think smushed papillion, disrupted mirror, and a yellow lab who wedged herself between the crate and the glove compartment to get one more good look at dear ol' dad). This was all a learning experience and we had three days to figure it out.

After a blown tire, a two-hour wait in the epitome of small town Alabama, and finding a system that worked for pit stops for a family of 4, we made it about four hours shy of where we had hoped to get. Exhausted and ready to get on track, we found a dog-friendly hotel and hit the hay around Chattanooga.

Day 2

Since we didn't get as far as we hoped on day 1, we vowed to make day 2 a long day to keep day 3 nice and easy. Take it from me, anytime you look at travel estimates and you're traveling with a moving van caravan including two dogs, do yourself a favor and tack on a few extra hours of travel time. Day 2 ended up being 14 total hours... phew! Thank goodness for podcasts or I would have lost. my. mind.

We stopped for the night just past New York City and fell asleep in the last temporary spot we would see before seeing our new house for the first time!

my view for the 23 hours we spent on the road 


Day 3

The day had finally arrived! We would drive another 3-4 hours and finally arrive in Tiverton, Rhode Island! Neither of us had previously seen the house we were renting- thankfully, Shane's sister, who lives about an hour away, offered to walk through houses on our behalf and FaceTime a tour. So when we arrived on June 18, it was the very first time either of us had driven down those streets and oh, how exciting it was!



We piled in the caravan around 7 that morning, stopped for a very large iced coffee (that we were carefully sipping so as not to make any bathroom stops!) and nerves, jitters, and excitement were running rampant. When we finally crossed the border into Rhode Island I had to keep reminding myself, "this is your new home! This isn't vacation. You aren't go back. This is where your next chapter begins."

Behind the moving van, I turned down the cutest little street marked with a white picket fence to the place that will hold our next year of memories.

Before even stepping foot in the house, Shane and I took a walk down to the water. Our house is situated on the best pond and has an unbelievable view that is best seen, we found out later, right from our living room.

Was this real life? Do we actually now live in Rhode Island, on the water, experiencing this perfect weather AND are just a hop, skip, and jump away from family who is willing to come help us unload that moving truck we just carted up the the east coast? Pinch yourselves, Reillys. This is real and it's just now begun.

Stay tuned for life as it unfolds in Rhode Island for this Southern gal. Teaser: our house doesn't have air conditioning, I had to pull out my slippers from my "winter clothes" box, people don't know who "y'all" is around here, and I experienced my first 4th of July  in one of the 13 original colonies.


The Pre-Road to Rhode Island

I remember my third date with Shane. I lived in Fairhope, Alabama at the time and he had recently moved to Pensacola, Florida so we met in the middle at a Mellow Mushroom in Foley, Alabama to continue the budding romance we found after the dining, piano bar-going, and kayaking we did on our first two dates.

We knew we liked each other. We knew this was different than anything we had previously experienced and we found ourselves talking about things most probably wouldn't on a third date.

We talked about traveling together and where we hoped to end up living one day. We shared our love for North Carolina, the epic road trips we could take together, and then he mentioned having me spend Thanksgiving with him in New England (this was in May). "There's nothing like a New England Thanksgiving," he said. He grew up in Massachusetts and always talked of home with stars in his eyes.

Fast forward six months and I was able to experience that Thanksgiving; he was right- I had never experienced anything like it and I fell in love. We paraded through Boston, went ice skating, and had a traditional spread of a meal surrounded by the lovely people I would grow to call family.

Our dreamy destination wedding
 in Leicester, Massachusetts
In May 2014, Shane and I got married in Massachusetts and settled into newlywed life in Lillian, Alabama. We knew we weren't meant to stay there forever and couldn't picture raising a family in the South, away from family and void of a tight-knit support system nearby. Nevertheless, life there was great and we made wonderful memories with friends and visitors. We owned a beautiful home that we took great pride in. We grew our careers. We grew together in our marriage. We celebrated two anniversaries. We dreamed of the next chapter and where we would be led.

We never really imagined living in New England. We talked of North Carolina, a little more north than that, but living in New England didn't seem to be directly on our radar. Good thing God doesn't use our radar to make decisions for what is best for us.

A few weeks ago, Shane and I got word that he had been selected for a wonderful career opportunity and we would be relocating to Rhode Island. We were ecstatic and anxious to see this process unfold!

(I'll be honest, I immediately started Googling places, Yelping restaurants, mapping out all the Trader Joe's in the areas, and mentally signing up for some Rhode Island yoga classes!)

A painting I had made of us in front of our Alabama
home and our moving announcement
We put our beloved home on the market, began looking for rental homes in Rhode Island, and held a yard sale.

Shane had moved across the country before but I had not. The farthest I had ever moved was from my home in Lakeland, Florida north to the Deep South of Alabama (you didn't know that was possible, did you? Trust me, it's possible.)

Now we were moving eight states and 1500 miles away. But we were doing it together.

This Southern Belle was in for a treat! I could handle the North, right? Why, of course! My y'all saying, pie baking, stranger-smiling self was ready for a new adventure, ready to settle into New England life and see what God had in store for our future.

Now, we just had to get there.