A literary love plan

“I know this is going to make me sound like a dork,” I told Scott in the kitchen the other night, excited about my plan.

He laughed a loud, short laugh. If “duh” could be translated into Laugh Language, Scott spoke it then.

I’m not afraid to embrace my geeky side.

I’m perfectly content in warm fuzzy socks crocheting my blanket and watching an old Hepburn film. (Let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of time for those things anymore, but a girl can dream.)

As I get older, I wave my Nerd Flag proudly. I’m not too concerned anymore about what people think or say. (I might have a birthday coming up and we will just blame it on my old age.)

I’ve always loved books. Novels. Poems. Magazines. Newspapers. Languages. All the loves in my life have letters and capitals and paragraphs and ledes. Even my son reading a book on his lap in the afternoon sun makes me so, so happy.

I wanted to always be surrounded by words.

I follow Lisa Jakub (Mrs Doubtfire actress) on her blog and I had to laugh out loud recently when she wrote a post that started with her watching a young child walk into a wall while their nose was in a book.

That was me!

I walked into closed doors and walls and trees and even a flagpole, all because I was playing in a Secret Garden or laughing with Anne of Green Gables or listening to Marmee read a letter to her girls.

I got into more trouble with my dad for not going to bed on time than I ever did for anything else. I would learn to turn off my light and hide under my covers with a flashlight, but that just led to bad eyes and headaches. (Totally worth it).

I told anyone who asked that I would be a writer, without really knowing what that meant, and only dreaming it meant me alone in a third-story nook with a pile of books and a little pot of ink to dab my pen in after a few words. I was a journalist and I have journals filled with my writings, so I suppose that, along with this blog, makes me a writer after all, even if I’m not famous and don’t have an inkwell.

I’m usually “reading” at least three books at any given time, and two of them are probably repeats of which I have portions memorized. I even hide a book in the bathroom vanities so that I can slip away for five minutes and just sit at the edge of the bathtub pouring over a few pages during a crazy day.

So I’ve decided to take a little literary journey.

Starting this spring, I plan to travel to the homes of my favorite writers and settings for some of my favorite stories. This seed was planted during a wintery day visit to Emily Dickinson‘s Amherst, MA home. Oh, that yellow siding! The garden! The window she looked out while writing those poems!

My list includes places near loved ones so I can try to bring them along on this Journey of One Dork:

– Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (Concord, MA) (Little Women, ah!)

– Edith Wharton’s The Mount (Lenox, MA) (Ethan Frome, whoa, that sledding hill!)

– Edna St Vincent Millay’s Steepletop (Austerlitz, NY) (Wine From These Grapes is on my nighstand always — plus, I share a birthday with her!)

I will gladly accept suggestions and appreciate that you are not laughing in my face at this (like my husband did, haha!). Won’t you join me?

I love getting lost in words. And these homes will let my love come to life even more.

And I’ll try not to walk into any walls while I’m there.

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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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The year that was…

… a journey.

… an adventure.

… throat-clogging lows.

… heart-pumping highs.

It was the year that was understanding. And acceptance. Both long overdue.

Where small triumphs yielded loud, triumphant applause.

It was the year that was risky. Whose risks brought rewards. And peace. Risks that showed us who we were and taught us never to think we were at where we were going to end.

This. This was the year where “what if” was brought up once, maybe twice, (and maybe 200 times) as we contemplated expansion and the future of our family.

There was loss. No more travel logs from Asia, but still I hold tight to the memories. The memories, the photos, the love and all those newspapers from places far away. The last stares at a nephew in his first swim, soaking it all in.

And then, as that circle of life will do, after loss came growth. A positive test, met not by the excited screams we had two years ago, but instead the hold-your-hand-through-this-roller coaster embrace; the in-it-no-matter-what familiar kiss.

It’s been a year of risks. Because that’s what you do when you start seeing all of your rewards, your blessings, your gifts… you thank your lord, you cross your fingers, you hold tight to faith. Take two deep breaths, wink at the one you love and jump into that deep end.

Because the good stuff is hidden.

Because it’s buried deep beneath everything else you’re too busy seeing.

It’s there.

And we found it, slowly but surely, this year.

No one knows what 2012 holds in store for us all.

If we’re really, truly, unbelievably lucky, there will be a little brother or sister for Z-man. There will be tiny fingers that won’t stay small all that long. There will be long, exhausting nights and days and definitely a lot of laughter. Because that’s how we roll ’round here.

2012 is a mystery. But it wasn’t so long ago that 2011 was its own little secret.

And I’m almost sad to see it go.

But so ready to put my hands up in the air and feel a fast breeze roll through my fingers. I’ll close my eyes tight and then I’ll be a brave lil girl and open them up wide so I can watch every second of the ride. And I’ll smile a time or two when it’s all over, amazed and proud that I made it; that I even attempted it.

One day at a time.

Ready? We’ll do it together.

Here we go…