Water everywhere, and 4 years without seasons

August 2, 2017

I have never been in a flood before.  I hate severe weather, particularly lightning, but the idea that water on its own could be such a threat never really crossed my mind.  Yesterday, parts of Miami-Dade county received up to 7 inches of rain in something like 12 hours (local coverage here).

On the drive home to my Miami Beach neighborhood, things didn’t seem so bad until I had to actually turn into our little residential area.  There was no easy way to know which way to go, and I chose wrong!  I ended up parking on a slightly higher-lying grassy median (there were several other cars stranded there, too) but did not feel it was safe to get to my house, just two blocks but a small river away.  Water was literally more than a foot deep, pooling in the streets and up against neighboring houses.  
It was still drizzling and I heard distant thunder as I waded the two blocks in my maternity pants and work shoes.  I arrived soaked nearly to the waist and really freaked out by what I had seen, but otherwise unscathed.  Thankfully, our house (and immediate block) is on higher ground, and we had no flooding at all.  But so many people did, including a number of my friends and family.  I haven’t read about anyone in the area hurt, which is great (and rather amazing) news.  However, I can imagine the property damage totals will be significant.
I was actually planning on writing a post looking back at the 4 years since we moved here, in the summer of 2013.  I’ve now racked up four years of almost never being cold, unless it’s from overzealous air conditioning.  Annabel claims she remembers living in North Carolina, but I’m pretty sure she’s just referring to photos (we moved when she was 16 months).  I feel like it’s time to take an objective look at our experience . . . list-style.

Things I love about living here:

1) Being close to family.  This is the #1 reason we are where we are.  While I wish I could also be closer to my parents and sister, most of Josh’s entire extended family (including his grandmother) resides in Miami Beach or nearby.  We have frequent family celebrations and I love being able to walk or drive just a short distance for these.

2) My job!  I feel like I started out with a good job but have crafted one that I really love.  I have great coworkers, have great pride in the institution where I work, and have been thrilled about they have allowed me to design a schedule and set of responsibilities that work for me.  I started off at 100% clinical, with 9 half-day sessions each week (1/2 day on Friday to catch up with everything that piles up!).  When I began to feel very trapped by this, I jumped at the opportunity to make developing our peds residency program part of my career trajectory.  Then, as you all know, I went to 80% time in April of this year.  I’m down to 6 half-day sessions, which feels really balanced, and will likely be transitioning to just 5 once we have residents (July of next year!).  I am doing more leadership and making good use of my organizational abilities (yay!) but also get plenty of clinical time.  It’s a great balance for me.

3) Our kids’ preschool.  A has been at a preschool associated with a community temple essentially since we arrived (Annabel spent about 2 weeks somewhere else and it was not the right fit), and Cameron began at age 2.   The school is Emilio Reggio-inspired, and really well-run.  I have been so impressed with their teachers and the overall approach to learning through creative play and community.  A starts elementary school (public) this fall, so this experience is a complete unknown — we will see how it goes, but I have reasonably high hopes.

4) Our nanny.  This one is probably clear from anyone who reads regularly.  G has been with us since early the beginning (she’s our first and only!) and is basically parent #3 in our family.  We have developed such great household routines, though I credit her initiative and organization more than my direction.  She truly loves A & C, and was 100% on board with another baby — something that I honestly considered in our decision.  I will also shout-out to our other babysitter, who is wonderful and reliable and allows us date night when we want (need?) it.

5) Our neighborhood.  I love that I feel safe running in our immediate neighborhood, and that we can walk (or run) to the kids’ swim lessons on weekends.  

6) Having friends!  This took years, but I finally feel like we have enough friends that our social calendar is as full as it needs to be.  I’m pretty sure Josh wishes it were even LESS full sometimes – ha.  Classic introvert/extrovert dichotomy, but we seem to manage okay.

Things I am a bit less thrilled about . . .

1) The weather — specifically for running.  I’m sure the fact that it is August doesn’t help me here, but honestly — truly ‘good’ running days are SO RARE here.  Even in December, we have many “lows” in the 70s — not really cool enough for me to truly feel comfortable out there.  I will say that the two times I ran the Miami half-marathon, we had SUPER cold mornings (luck!).  I just wish they were more frequent.  And the summer weather is just disgusting for runs.  I’ve banished myself largely to the treadmill for this one.

With all that said, I DO love that our pool is warm for several months of the year, and that the kids can swim outside (in heated water) year-round.  It’s a little bit thrilling to be able to hang out comfortably on the beach in November.  But this one really is a mixed bag.  I truly NEVER thought I’d say this but . . . I kind of sort of miss real seasons.

2) Priciness and culture of materialism.  There is definitely a lot of value placed on image and beauty and things down here that I am not used to, and I don’t just think it’s because we’ve moved ‘up’ in our careers.  I will say that Josh’s family is decidedly ANTI-material, and I love that.  But sometimes it’s hard to be the only one at a school function without a designer bag (Chanel / Goyard / LV / etc) or ummm, ‘upgraded’ body parts (this is an exaggeration, but not a huge one).  We try to be very purposeful with our spending, preferring to invest more in experiences (for us + the kids) than things.  I suspect that in other places, I’d feel less alone in this.

3) Community cohesiveness.  This one is a little tougher to put into words, but I just don’t get warm fuzzies thinking of our local restaurants, stores, and coffee shops the way I did in Durham, or even Chapel Hill.  Perhaps this just takes longer — we were in the Triangle for 11 full years — but I’m not sure that’s it.  It might just be that I prefer a slightly smaller-town atmosphere.

4) Climate change.  I am pretty sure we are not living in the ideal spot for rising waters + temps.  Just had to throw that in there.

5) My commute.  I honestly don’t have a terrible attitude about it, and enjoy the podcast-listening time.  But sometimes it just feels FAR, and I wish I had those hours back.  I hate that I can’t jet home if needed in the middle of the day, and that working a half-day feels like a waste.  I detest the weekend rounding, when sometimes I drive 2 hours just for 2 hours of hospital work time!   My 80% situation helps, but I can imagine that as the kids’ activities/meetings/etc multiply as they get older, this is going to get more and more annoying.

In conclusion:

I am grateful to live here — flooding, humidity, and all.  I definitely feel like this is HOME after 4 years, and that we have really built our adult lives here.  There is no way to know if we’ll be here forever, and I am really intent to see how A’s first foray into elementary school goes.  But for now, I’m happy.  It’s not paradise and it’s not perfect, but it is a lovely place to call home.

pic from summer ’16


  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Upgraded body parts! I love that phrasing. If you’re on the treadmill in summer, I’m on the treadmill much of the winter — maybe North Carolina is the only perfect weather spot around??

    Glad to hear your home was untouched. Water damage is a hard one to deal with.

  • Reply Angie March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    I love the upgraded body parts. We used to live in Los Angeles and it was hard to not succumb to the keeping up with the jones mentality and not to feel bad about myself physically. We moved closer to family and last almost 3 years and missed the west and all the outdoor activities. So my husband got another job and moved. We’ve been in our new location 8 months but I’m making friends from my MOPs group, love the outdoors activities and having seasons. Plus the city we are in is family friendly and I love that my friends I’ve made don’t flaunt their wealth and stuff and you wouldn’t know it from talking to them. I love that one of my LA friends and her family are moving here too. Our families were thrilled when we moved back and sad when we left but I can now stay home with my boys, which was so important to me too.

  • Reply Ali March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Love this post! We live in Nashville and LOVE it. You get all 4 seasons, but the only ‘extreme’ season is summer (and compared to Miami, not that extreme). It’s also a beautiful area and just an overall pleasant place to live if you don’t have to drive during rush hour. :). (It’s such a great place to live that everyone else thinks so too and the growth rate is insane!!)

  • Reply Aly March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    ❤️ this post!!

  • Reply SusannahEarlyBd March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Loved this thoughtful post, Sarah! The Triangle misses you, but it sounds like the positives are significant in Miami Beach. I love so many things about where we live…the two biggest negatives for me are 1)having to drive everywhere and 2)winter! I know NC winters are mild relatively, but as I get older, I would be happy to forgo seasons in favor of being warm all the time.

  • Reply cablegardens March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Feels somewhat ironic to add a third child to your family in a place with such visible impact from climate change. You’re a scientist and probably believe climate change is human-caused, so is it logical for people to have large families (or even breed at all, especially in light of existing children needing adoption)? Plus what kind of future awaits these kids? Your post got me thinking. Thank you for the perspective and I hope your home/family stay safe from future flooding.

  • Reply Young March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    It’s true that no place is perfect. We recently moved from the Bay area to Oregon, and I find myself frequently missing our former home. I might need to make a pros and cons list like you did.

    I have in-laws in South Florida and have made many trips over there. The women definitely are much more into their looks and fashion and makeup there. I’d feel pressure to keep up with that and think that would be burdensome and annoying but surrounding yourself with like-minded "simpler" friends would probably ease a lot of that. It’s really great that Josh’s family is anti-materialism even though they are, I’m assuming, probably well-off. It makes staving off the pressure much easier!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Definitely finding the right friends helps!! I bet I would LOOOOVE Oregon 🙂 I have heard such amazing things about Portland and we do have good friends and some family living there. I’ve never been and would love to see it some time.

  • Reply Omdg March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Just move to philly, already. You know you want to. 😜

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Haha, I actually would be happy to live in PHL. (I’m thinking like . . . Narberth. For small town feel and LM public school system!). But as you can see above, so many complicating factors. My parents (still in Havertown) have said if we were to move back to NC (where my sister lives) they would relocate there.

  • Reply susanruns March 10, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    I can’t believe you’ve been in Miami for four years! I’ll always think of you as being a Durham chick, haha.

    I like living in NYC, but I’m not sure it’s forever – and I wonder how having kids (eventually) will make me want to be closer to family.

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