Love letter to 296

Dear 296 Chestnut,

I’ve written a lot of love letters in my life. I’m a sentimental, romantic fool.

But this one is as much a love letter as a break-up story.

Life has happened yet again and I must leave you behind.

But I will truly hold a special place in my heart. We are leaving each other too soon.

 

There isn’t an inch of you that doesn’t hold a special moment or memory.

 

We found you as a half-joke, on a whim. While looking for our first home, we passed you and simply said “…and for the same price we could have had something like this awesome house…” and before we knew it, there was a showing, a lovely lady who wanted a nice family to take her beloved home of 20 years, papers signed, mortgage started, walls painted, late nights prepping and then, after what seemed like years, we crossed the threshold and you became a part of our world.

At our little round dining room table, dozens of friends and family joined us in laughter and wine and games. The number of Apples to Apples giggles and Trivial Pursuit 3am battles can’t be counted on one hand.  I tried my first Mary Kay product on at that table and signed the consultant paperwork there four years later. We squished in additional tables and chairs for nearly-annual Thanksgiving dinners and kids of all ages paraded around that room at birthday parties and playdates. There is a bleach mark on the floor from an uncaffeinated klutz moment. I became a proud housewife when I gained a variety of FiestaWare dishes and bowls and have had them displayed on a built-in cabinet’s shelves.

Oh, 296, your paint colors. There is a light blue throughout you that we chose because Cumberland Fog reminded us of a favorite little town just 30 miles away. Upstairs in what used to be Zack’s nursery are Sand Trap and Teeny Bikini because Daddy got to choose them for his little boy-to-be. We kept the seven shades of retro green in the kitchen and bathrooms. I still remember pointing at the different colors on one wall, both of us laughing so hard we had tears streaming down our faces.

We had big plans for the kitchen. We loved our tiny kitchen and its’ black-and-white tiled floor. But it was pretty tiny. Our five-year-plan had a dream kitchen that we even mapped out on paper. But you know, we made do. I can’t tell you how amazing chefs shared their talents and recipes in our limited counterspace. Uncle Paul’s spicy concoction and Aunt Alice’s incredible cleaning of a glass lid after several glasses of wine. Scott’s holiday dinners and specialties filling the whole house up with great smells.

One day from the upstairs bathroom I screamed a scream I didn’t think I was capable of and it sent Scott bounding up the stairs two at a time thinking there was some wild creature eating his new wife. It was a positive pregnancy test — our first one — and it was the beginning of our lives with Zack. We won’t even go into the morning sickness both kids brought to that poor bathroom.

I covered you with photographs, I hope you didn’t mind. Extended family on the stairway wall. A kids’ corner in the living room. Wedding photos on the stone mantle. Nature photos above the dining room arch.

I loved your stained glass windows. When Zack was an infant, he would crawl to the spot of floor covered in the yellow and green sunlight streaming in and coo and coo with a smile.

I spent so many moments on your front porch. Swinging away a bad day or taking in a beautiful start to another day. Holding Zack after his surgery, with Addie kicking us through my belly. Addie’s fearlessness always on those front steps. The friends who held my hand in moments I couldn’t get though on my own. My mom’s old rocking chair keeping guard by the door. The summer dinners we just started eating outside. I loved your wisteria trellis. I never minded the trimming and upkeep because twice a year, it rained long purple petals on the front sidewalk. It’s smell and those blooms made me feel so blessed in this house.

For years, our yard was neglected. But this Spring, we spent hours of sweat and swearing pulling weeds and digging sod and landscaping and planting. A beautiful bounty of vegetables and herbs greet me from the back sidewalk now and I am so, so proud of the work we put into this and the teamwork and partnership it symbolizes.

Our kids’ first words were uttered and first steps were taken inside your walls.

Down Syndrome was accepted and researched here.

Promises to friends and secrets that will never leave here.

My hair gained gray here. Scott lost some of his along the way.

I became the woman I am today here and we grew into our family here.

Lessons learned and griefs felt and transformations accepted.

For every tear, a thousand giggles and smiles, on the back steps and in the sunroom and everywhere in between.

I’ll never forget you.

And I miss you already.

 

(PS – Do you have a favorite memory or scene from our home? Please share)

Asbury Adventure

Have you noticed a theme these past couple of months?

The Zee Family has been having itself some adventures.

Adventure.

Just saying the word brings me peace and makes me think of ocean waves and warm embraces and laughs over wine and that warm, fuzzy feeling in your heart.

Adventure.

 

So all four of us (yay!) snuck away for a few days in the middle of a life upheaval (more on that later) to escape, forget and breathe. We stayed at the home of my mom’s cousin Steve and his beautiful-inside-and-out wife Melaney and another cousin Andy and were joined by my cousin (Steve’s daughter) Rachel and her daughter April, who is just a month older than Addie. We even had a visit from Uncle Bwick one night.

Steve and Melaney are saints. In a matter of minutes, their gorgeous historic home that they have renovated so beautifully was turned upside-down with a loud parade of marching toddlers traipsing around endless bags and toys brought out of the woodwork of two well-traveled SUVs. From that moment and through the temper tantrums and time-outs, the seemingly-endless screams of “Share!” and “No touch!” and the smelly diapers and long nap processes to the line of six adults scampering for showers after beach time, they remained patient and calm and so considerate and generous. We realize everywhere we go that our crazy family, no matter how much we try not to be crazy, can be overwhelming and we are so appreciative of the loved ones who allow a little craziness into their lives for a day or two.

The weather cooperated so nicely. We enjoyed a couple hours at the beach down the street our first day there, along with some great playground time. The kids almost immediately all started playing so well together. It reminded me so much of my childhood and the family gatherings where all of my cousins, all of us about the same age, just instantly bonded and played and later shared secrets and had great sibling-like fights. And it made me wish that our kids can have what our parents’ generation had, where cousins really were like siblings and knew and loved each other so well. It will take work, but I hope that my kids know and love their family so much, too.

There was the Great Raccoon Adventure during our stay, too, but it might still be too early to joke about that one. But really, I hope we can all giggle about this one in the near future. All part of the adventure!

Our second day was a near all-day beach day and the kids surpassed all of my expectations. They listened, they were in great spirits and we made it much longer than I thought.

I have so many Happy Heart moments from our days there.

I sat at the head of a long dinner table at a delicious Italian restaurant, my babies and husband on either side of me, looking down a long line of amazing people. Each with their own story and journey and so many happily-ever-afters taking place. I felt so loved and so lucky.

The same lovely reminiscing took place on that sand, too. Watching Scott and his son splashing in the water as each wave brought beautiful laughter from both of them. I thanked my lucky stars for the wonderful father Scott has become in our journey and hoped both kids realize how lucky they are, too.

We had buckets on heads, and manly men with baby dolls in their arms; we all snapped photos and shared delicious meals.

At night, I was too happy to sleep. I just laid there, after the babies had finally fallen asleep and I could hear Scott’s snoring; after the footsteps above quieted down; and I just smiled. I felt the presence of so many loved ones not with us anymore and figuratively patted us all on the back for forgetting all of the world’s stresses for a few days and making the effort for family.

I believe my family(ies) is/are a huge part of why and who I am today.

It was an adventure. A great, joyful, peaceful

Adventure.

 

 

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Snippets- Vacation Edition

We had ourselves an adventure — just me, Zack and Addie (Da-da had to work).

 

We crossed five states for four different visits in about 10 days and 20-plus hours of driving. There were chickey kisses and ocean waves and everything in between.

Some highlights:

 

The most relaxing, heart-warming time sitting in Chochie’s yard watching kids frolic in dirt, hide treasures in secret corners and splash to their hearts’ content in a bright blue bird bath.

 

Snuggles nightly with two tired ones. Holding them close and re-learning their breathing and sighs. Watching little hands and fingers as we all fell asleep.

 

Addie greeting me every day with, “Good morning, Momma! How did you sleep? Addie wake up!” You can’t help but start your day on a positive note with that.

 

At nighttime, I would remind the kids of what we did that day — who we saw, where we were, etc. One night after a 4th of July picnic at my Dad’s and plenty of big cousins to play with, I asked Zack what was his favorite part. Typically, he just repeats “favorite part” with a smile. That day, he grinned a huge grin and said, “Play with kids!” How sweet.

Another night, Addie interrupted me with, “I so happy, Momma.”

 

I learned all of the words to one of the songs from a DVD we brought with us for the car time.

“I’m not ready to be a princess, I don’t have what it takes…” The kids and I can rock it out. “I look bad in crowns…!”

 

Cousins Ryan and Kevin in Massachusetts always dote on Z&A. It’s so amazing to see their love for their little cousins. They introduced the kids to some of their old toys, and a baby frog and the beloved guinea pigs, which are a HUGE hit. (We actually have to tell Zack the piggies are sleeping quite often or else they get no break from their noisy visitor). Addie snatched snap peas from Becky’s garden and took charge on a walk around the neighborhood. Cousin Mark was welcomed home from work with two squealing “hewwo”s from little people. We all laughed at Addie’s love for pickles and Zack’s sweet tooth, but mostly we just laughed.

 

Seeing my Dad and Uncle “Brick” together was so great. They are two peas in a pod. I love them both so much for their humor and kindness and compassion, wrapped up in tough-guy exteriors. Crazy fun watching them drink beers and blow bubbles with the kids on our last day.

 

My friend Nicole and her man Jeff have created a beautiful life together and just seeing her, with him, in their cozy and cute home was a delight. They’re still collecting the Cheerios we left for them in every crevice imaginable. Truth or Truth with wine until 3am was simultaneously the best and worst idea we had, haha!

 

At the beach, the kiddos surprised me. Zack went straight for the water and couldn’t be removed without major coaxing and Addie was quite content to play in the sand and sprinkle water (fetched by Momma every three minutes) from her watering can onto my toes.

 

 

There were a lot of quiet moments that made every traffic jam and long walk worth it:

The ringing laughter in living rooms and on patios and in the car;

Both kids saying,  I love you, Momma.”

Having a chance to disconnect from the rest of the world and just observe. I learned much about the babies in these 10 days.

The love and hospitality of our many hosts, who dealt with difficult bedtimes and early-mornings and sometimes my need to just stop. I appreciate your open doors and open hearts.

 

 

This was an amazing adventure.

I just love adventures.

 

 

 

 

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