Snippets — On “new”

There’s a lot of “new” among us nowadays.
We spent a lot of time in our “old” planning for this New but really, we had no idea and yes, yes it was worth every minute of excruciating, stressful waiting.

Here’s a peek.

On Our Home
I love this place.
I could end the blurb right there, but let me tell you — I love it so much and for a thousand reasons.
This place is our home already, not just a house. I have such a large kitchen that I am constantly feeling like I get a workout walking from the stove to the sink and back to the stove. It’s just a terrible problem to have, geesh. But seriously, it’s exciting to cook dinners here and bake desserts. It’s the location of our back door, so the hubby walks through it every night just as the kids are getting on my last tiny, itty-bitty nerve and only milliseconds after I have somehow managed to put the house back together again after we’ve spent all day tearing it apart together.

I have my own (giant) laundry room with two brand-new appliances that sing songs when they’re done with a cycle and calculate via a little Robot Dance how dirty those clothes really are — it’s the little things, I tell you.

When I was in the house those first few days cleaning and prepping for boxes and furniture, I CONSTANTLY got lost upstairs. No, seriously. I would walk out of Addie’s room and turn left when I should turn right. And at least twice I nearly toppled down the stairs after a wrong turn.

So what that both bathrooms are set up in such a way that you have to sit sideways on the toilet when you pee so your knees don’t hit radiators — we have two full bathrooms!

I have an office to work out of, even if it’s become the last room to unpack. I may or may not be typing this with my feet propped up on a box of Mary Kay products.

Since Zack has begun school, Addie and I have started a routine of waiting for his bus on our enclosed front porch. I sip my coffee or guzzle some water, she reads her Elmo book in her Dora chair and a light breeze comes through the windows as I gaze about our street, taking in the neighbors and cars and houses and all that.

I even like our tiny yard and am grateful for the tiny amount of time it takes to mow now — and am so, so grateful there are no hills or steep slopes. I am planning next year’s herb garden and am on the hunt for some Autumn mums for our front.

There are New House cards on the counter, a new welcome mat with our last name leading out to the front porch and new coffee K-cups in the cupboard. Thanks, y’all.

Pat the Neighbor

On the night of our official move in to the house, we thought our cat Rocky got out of the house somehow. I was so upset and was trying so hard to not let it put a damper on such a special day. Scott and dog Izzie and I finally took off on a dusk walk around the neighborhood. About three houses up the one street, and a pleasant middle-aged, hard-working-and-you-can-tell-by-looking-at-him man named Pat introduced himself to us, helped look for the cat (which turned up inside the house, hmrph!) and spent several minutes talking to Scott about the neighborhood and neighbors and his time (35-plus years) here.
A night or two later while returning from the nearby park with the kids and there was Pat, waving to us and saying hello to us by name.
I was struggling with an old-school push mower my Dad gave us the other afternoon and Pat came out in his Steelers jersey, shook his head and wheeled his personal mower down to me.
“This will be easier,” he said. “Game’s on; I gotta go.”

For being only a few miles down the highway from Wilkes-Barre, a relatively large city in Northeastern PA, we feel like we are in quiet suburbia. Dogs are walked and kids go to the park and bicycles whizz past the house and the mailman walks down the street and makes sure your front door is latched every time she drops off a package. It’s relatively quiet and our location is incredibly convenient. We’ve discovered a handful of parks and attractions and events and are so excited to continue our exploration of the area.

Zack’s (second) First Day and Addie’s Still Crazy
Z-Man started at his new school this week and of course, did not disappoint with his adaptability and strength. He gets picked up in front of the house in a van with anywhere from four to eight other kids already on board and gets whisked away to his school, only a five-minute drive from our house. His school is a reverse inclusion classroom-type program (half special needs children and half “typical” children) and is the perfect blend of the two programs he was in last year. There are therapists on site, a new sensory program, focus on his IEP and a foundation based off of Montessori teachings.
On his second day, he grabbed his backpack on the front porch and said, “Momma, school bus!” and we marched to the white vehicle. I opened the door and he hugged my legs for just a few seconds, looked up at me with a smile and hopped inside with his friends. When he came home, I asked how school was and he kept saying the words “happy” and “friends.”

His time at school gives me and Addie some “Girl Time” and I am enjoying that, too. She’s talking so much and coming up with the most hysterical comebacks and responses. She just keeps me laughing so much of the time. And shaking my head.

We can’t keep her hair looking good for the life of us. She’s always rolling and running and braids fall out and ponytails sink down and bangs are constantly in her face. She makes a face when I put her in a dress and yet sprints to the nearest person and says, “Look, ___, Addie so pretty!”

She requests “Elmo” (Sesame Street) almost daily now, and happy to relive my childhood, happily DVR episodes for her. Every time, she points at the TV during the credits and yells “Where Elmo go?” even though she knows very well he rides in on his tricycle about ten seconds later.

She has become our pickier eater, or perhaps Zack has just started eating so much more now, but either way, dinner is always an adventure.

Him
I’m more in love with my Scott when he’s in his Daddy Zone than any other time or place or circumstance.
He walks in the door from work and I basically shoo him into the living room to play with the kiddos. They are instantly all over him, giving hugs, offering “teapot” (Addie’s version of a tea party) and requesting books to read and wrestling together.
But it’s his bedtime rituals with the kiddos I adore most.
Last night, I hovered around a corner in the hallway, two sippie cups and two diapers in my hands, frozen. I had been coming out of the laundry room when I heard him in Addie’s room, doing a role call of all of her animals.
“And who’s this?,” he asks her.
With a giggle, she tells him.
They go back and forth like this through all eight or nine creatures.
He does this to make her feel comfortable and to let her know she is surrounded by love as she goes to sleep. But she doesn’t need any of the Guppies or the bear or even the puppy blanket. Her Daddy showers her (and Zack) with love.

Scott and I are better than ever. It’s back to basics.
Hand holding and driving adventures and silly jokes and showing the other person you care.
He’s been patient with my need-this-for-the-house list and has put up shelves, hooked up electronics and nearly singlehandedly moved large furniture.

I’m happy for where we are, literally but also this very figurative place, too.

We are in a happy place that needs no address.

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Rekindling in Richmond

We had ourselves a long overdue getaway — just Zee Momma and Zee Daddy for two days with nothing to worry about other than not getting lost and not getting mugged.

It’s easy to get caught up in everything — therapy sessions, work schedules, feedings and household chores. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the million little things taking up every second of your marriage before you realize you have forgotten about your foundation — about the love you have for one another and the thousands and millions of little things you love about that person.

We hit that point. Where we took each other for granted and we didn’t appreciate those little things anymore.

So in honor of our third wedding anniversary, we decided to find a hotel in my resort’s company in a city neither of us have spent time in within driving distance for a mini-vacation. We were set up with a room in Richmond, complete with champagne and strawberries upon arrival and set out for 38 hours of things we never get to do — sleeping in, eating out alone, dressing up for dinner and going places you can’t typically bring two babies to, at least not if you’re even partially sane.

So we took turns choosing activities (you should have heard Scott’s groan when I chose botanical gardens!) and we didn’t plan too far ahead. And we had to follow certain rules — like holding the other person’s hand really firmly every chance we had.

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Somewhere between singing twangy country duets in the car, getting stuck in traffic halfway up the entryway to I-95 and crashing onto a king-sized bed with a huge sigh, it started to show up — that love we used to wrap around ourselves like a blanket. Then somewhere between the botanical gardens sigh and the admission under a rose-covered gazebo that maybe this wasn’t so bad, it really began to come out in full force. In that gazebo in front of a Victorian house, we had one of the best conversations we’ve had in months.

And from Scott’s choice of mini-golf (“C’mon, we can never do this!”) and my giving in with a shake of my head because only my husband would choose mini-golf for his wishlist; somewhere between there and a huge, delicious meal in a dimly-lit private room, there I found my laughter. The insane belly laughs Scott could bring out in me a thousand times a day that recently had been stifled by frustration and annoyance.

I laughed so much those two days and neither one of us have stopped laughing since we returned. The old spark, the old flame even, well you better believe it’s back.

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Scott and I have been through so much in just a handful of years — we’ve relocated, we’ve each switched jobs, we’ve had two babies, learned about special needs and found many more gray hairs.

It’s not to say that we resent our kiddos or the time it takes to raise them just the way it takes to become successful, responsible adults. We talked about them a lot over our vacation — imagining Zack running around a pond and spotting a turtle we were feeding; Addie’s blue eyes widening in the hustle and bustle of the downtown noise.

The kids were never far from our minds.
In fact, one of the most amazing moments of our trip came when we were exploring the lobby of our hotel while waiting for our car to be retrieved. We walked by this display of children’s faces at least three times before we were both caught off guard by a handsome little toddler with big eyes and big cheeks like Zack’s — eyes that were clearly kissed by Down Syndrome. There was a quote about the boy being called a flirt by his parents and we both laughed about our own little two-year-old flirt at home.

And then we realize that it was an entire series of photos of children who each had Down Syndrome, put up just that week by the local DS Chapter. Each child had quotes talking about what they loved to do, what their parents thought they were capable of, what their future held in store for them.

I didn’t think Scott could peel himself away from those photos. And for perhaps the first time in our relationship, he asked me to take a picture with my camera. It was beautiful.

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We used to take weekend drives or day trips all the time; it was where I really fell in love with photography and my husband’s Human Atlas-like skills. It was nice to get back to that feeling of a great adventure, an adventure whose ending you don’t quite know at the start of the trip, the left turn out of the end of the driveway.

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Sometimes you just have to shrug your shoulders, pack your bags, tell your wife they can’t bring the babies, not even just one baby, and have faith in the tank of gas, the GPS and the hotel reservation and leave the rest up to fate. Sometimes you have to just start out on an adventure to remind you of all of the adventures, good and bad, you’ve had in your journey so far. Sometimes you just have to do it. As long as you hold the other person’s hand.

Don’t let go.

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