But first, a note from Shawna:
I’m going to wager that some of you read the title of this post and had a moment of panic. I know what that feels like because it’s exactly the emotion that came over me a few months ago when Mandy first shared her news that she would be relocating to Florida. Panic followed by numbness. Because I couldn’t even begin to imagine a near future that didn’t include Mandy and, perhaps just as impossibly, our blog.
You see, the funny thing about blogging is that oftentimes the blog doesn’t just become part of your life, it actually defines your whole lifestyle. That’s how it is for us, and I think that’s what has made our blog so successful. We don’t just write a blog. We actually live it. And life without the blog? What would that look like?
We spent the following weeks and months talking and thinking and talking and thinking and talking some more. We figured out what we could and couldn’t, would and wouldn’t, and wanted and didn’t want to do. And I’m happy to report that we have come up with a plan that feels right for us and right for the blog and right for all of you out there who have embraced our site and supported us and given us the power to explore and create and share. I’m excited to be moving forward with new inspiration, new goals and new opportunities.
I’m going to let Mandy tell you all the details in her own words. But first, I needed to say a few words of my own.
For those of you who don’t know the whole story, Out and About Mom was forged in the crucible of new parenthood as Mandy and I, like many before us, struggled to take on our new roles as mothers. I used to think that it was the blog outings that saved my sanity in those early blogging/parenting days. That getting out and having fun with my new little family attenuated the tedium that sometimes (heck, let’s be honest: most times) accompanies life with an infant. But I was only half right.
The blog was also a constant connection with my good friend, Mandy at a time when keeping connected to anyone or anything was a monumental challenge. The blog gave us daily calls, texts or emails. It motivated us to synch our schedules and create more opportunities for joint outings with the kids. And occasionally, though not nearly as much as we would have liked, it gave us an excuse to get together at a coffee shop or a restaurant or just at Mandy’s house with a bottle of wine and call it a “meeting.” We saw each other through fussy babies and teething toddlers; first steps and first days of school; massive snowstorms and sweltering heat waves; second pregnancies and new newborns; and even, now, new homes.
There are times when I wonder if I would have been overcome by the weight of new motherhood had I not had Mandy in my life. She lifted me up when I was low. She encouraged me when I was uncertain. And she shared in my everyday joys and accomplishments however small those may have been. For the blog and beyond she was my cheering squad, my sounding board and, when I needed it (which was often), my voice of reason. I will always be grateful for her support, her friendship, and for bringing me along on this amazing adventure we call Out and About Mom.
Mandy– I wish you and your family the very best of luck in your new home state. And even though you are 1,000 miles away, I promise that we still have a few adventures yet to come 🙂
I have some news to share and have procrastinated sharing this news because it is a big change for me, my family, and the blog.
Recently my husband was offered a new position in his company which would require us to relocate to Orlando, Florida. While we have grown to completely love Connecticut, it was something we really needed to consider both for his career and for the opportunity to be much closer to family (my husband grew up in Florida and I grew up in South Carolina). It was such a tough decision for us, but in the end we knew it was the right move to make.
So, we are moving to Florida and the move is actually happening this week. We’ve been packing up our house and then will load Bruiser, Sparkles, Sweetheart, and our dog into the car and make our way from Connecticut to Florida (it’s going to be a long trip!). I’m dreading those last moments at our home — I certainly won’t be able to stop crying when we pull away from the house for the last time. I’m going to miss this state, my town, my kid’s school, our friends, all of the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and I’m really going to miss getting a chance to share our weekly adventures on the blog.
I’m seriously unable to put it into words, but this blog has been a HUGE part of my life as a mom. It forced me to get out of the house with the kids, it gave me a little financial cushion to have some amazing experiences with my family, it gave me the opportunity to have an excuse to spend time with my good friend Shawna, and I’m hoping some of my posts helped inspire other moms (and dads and grandparents, etc.) to learn about new outings for their family too. And even though there were quite a few late nights spent writing blog posts, I am extremely thankful that I have had this site to lean on these last few years.
And the good news is that the blog will continue to be in my life even though we are moving away. I may not be playing as big of a role in the site on a day-to-day basis, but the great thing about partnerships and friendships is that you always have someone to lean on when a change happens. And thanks to Shawna, even with me leaving, the Out and About Mom blog will not be going away anytime soon. YAY!
There is so much information already on our site and so many more activities and destinations that we still want to share and Shawna is excited and inspired to continue our vision here in Connecticut while I provide some support from afar (plus mid-winter blog meetings in Orlando can now be on the agenda!) I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work with someone who has as much passion for this site as I do!
And the truth is that this change isn’t as big of a shock to the blog as it may seem. Shawna and I have actually been discussing since last spring that we probably needed to make a bit of a change with the site given our changing family situations. This past fall all three of my kids were in all-day preschool (thanks to the magnet school programs!) and Shawna’s oldest started kindergarten. The reality was that with so many of our kiddos in school, we just wouldn’t be doing as many daytime outings as we had done in the past. Plus we knew there was an opportunity to expand the blog to include some directories (like our birthday party directory) and update our advertising structure, plus many other opportunities that continued to present themselves to us. Since we were spending all of our free time writing, we didn’t always have time available to invest in those other areas. So we decided to reach out to some other awesome moms and see if they would be interested in sharing their favorite outings on Out and About Mom. And they were! We’ve already had a few guest blog posts from the amazing Ally Noel and are planning to add other guest bloggers soon. With a few other writers in the mix, Shawna (with a little help from me) will be able to focus and grow some other areas of the blog. So exciting!
As I’ve been thinking about this “goodbye” post and this blog, I started reminiscing about all of the great experiences I’ve had as part of it. From my first blog post at Hammonassett State Park to getting the opportunity to be on television and radio, to going on outings with Shawna and other friends, it has been an amazing ride.
Oh there were so many adventures over the last four years and so many changes with the site too. And now this week will be another big transition for the blog and a big personal change for me and my family. I am excited to see what the future holds, but I’m so sad to be leaving here. Having been raised in the south, our move to New England nine years ago was a very scary change. But my husband and I survived and we learned how to buy better winter gear and developed some serious snow shoveling skills. We also learned how amazing the summer and fall can be in this area and that is one major thing I will miss.
I know I do really need to say goodbye because this may be my last blog post on the site (though I am hoping to have time to pop back in every now and then). But in the words of Boyz II Men (did I spell that right?) it really is so hard to say goodbye. So instead of saying goodbye, I’m just going to say THANK YOU.
Thank you for reading my blog posts when I was a brand new mom and really had no idea what pictures I should be taking at a site I was covering (reading some of my first posts is pretty hilarious).
Thank you for continuing to follow and support our site over the past four years. I hope you will be inspired by the outings we have written about and will continue to enjoy the future posts on the site.
Thank you for sharing our site with your neighbors and friends. That has been one major area of growth for us, and it is all thanks to you.
Thank you for your feedback on the site, for sharing outing ideas with us, and for being our cheerleaders and encouraging us to continue writing. That got me through many nights when I didn’t feel like finishing a post. Seriously!
And thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read our posts and go out and actually try some of the places we’ve suggested. That makes it all worth it!