At Home in New York: One Year Later

Stanton, the girls and I have called New York home for about a year now. I feel as though I spent the beginning of our time here—summer through spring—in a slightly frazzled state. Moving, getting to know another city, enrolling the girls in school and activities, trying to write as much as possible, finding our house—there were a lot of, um, moving parts. 🙂

But summer is upon us once again, and things feel as though they’re in a good place. We love the sweet town we’re in. We especially appreciate its walkability. It’s so nice to simply go outside and enjoy the nearby nature trail, or walk (Stanton and me), bike (Grace) and stroller over (Anna) to local shops and restaurants. One morning recently, the girls and I had such a good time just walking over to this local park, and hanging out.

Of course, that was right after we stopped by Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee (me) and donuts (all of us)… #healthylivingfail

1_Park

The girls have been asking Stanton and me for a pet—specifically, a puppy. Their pleas haven’t yet persuaded us, but our next-door neighbors offered up a great middle-ground solution: babysitting their puppy from time to time. We’ll see how that goes, friends.

We closed on our house a couple of months ago. My friendly yoga instructor recommended her friend, a wonderful Realtor, to us—it is a small world. We’re so thankful to have found our home.

Here are a few pictures.

2_Front Porch

We love our front porch. My mom and dad kindly passed along their not-needed-anymore wrought-iron furniture to us, and it’s allowed us to really enjoy this outdoor living space. Many a morning, I find myself reading “Madeline” or “The Very Busy Spider” to the girls.

3_Family Room

We still need to find (and/or unpack from the many boxes still in the basement) some additional art and décor for the family room. So far, though, we very much appreciate its cozy vibe. Speaking of passed-along furniture, the dining-space set once belonged to Stanton’s grandparents. We are grateful to be stewards of this beautiful family legacy, which traveled amazingly well from Texas to New York.

4_Sunroom

Possibly our favorite part of our home is the sunroom/breakfast nook, nestled behind the kitchen. When family and friends visit, everyone instinctively gathers here. I happened upon the table and benches in a local furniture store, and they’ve become the perfect spot for the girls to eat, color and ask me over and over if we can please get a puppy today.

Lately, the girls have been having so much fun in the backyard. Yesterday after a Fancy Nancy-themed tea party, Anna worked on her T-ball swing. Toddlers: The busiest among us.

5_Backyard

While Stanton was traveling for work soon after we moved in, I enlisted my dad to help with some around-the-house projects. Ever the comedian, he called, “Hey, Melis, look at this!” as he pretended to struggle with hanging curtains. Thanks again, Dad. 🙂

6_Dad Curtains

One of the things I most appreciate about this part of the country, the Capital Region of New York, is the beautiful nature all around us. On our little street alone, there are towering trees; evergreens abound and provide lush color all year. I’ve said to family and friends that being here is a literal breath of fresh air.

We’re lucky that so many loved ones have already come to visit with us. One of my favorite moments from our first year here was this September day, when Stanton’s mom and dad came to be with us. We loved apple picking at Indian Ladder Farms, catching up and simply taking in the splendor of the Helderberg Escarpment.

7_Indian Ladder Farms

The first time I laid eyes on this breathtaking slope—driving upon it from the Hudson Valley—I told Grace, “This is amazing.” Amazing, Grace.

Stanton and I do a fairly good job, I think, of keeping in touch with our families and hometown pals. We do owe our good college friends, though, some quality time. Folks in Virginia—we’re hoping to be your way later this year, or early next. ❤

The longer I’ve lived in the Albany area, the more I’ve learned how easy it is to get to other cool parts of New England and the Northeast from here. For example, Boston, Montreal and New York City are all about a three-hour drive away.

My favorite weekend getaway thus far has been to Manchester, Vermont. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been, friends, but this place is gorgeous. Stanton and I spent some time there for our nine-year anniversary and loved the glorious green mountains, quaint Northshire Bookstore and delicious local restaurants we tried (Thai Basil, Cilantro Taco and The Reluctant Panther).

We can’t wait to go back with the girls.

During this season in our life, it can be difficult to organize formal play dates. What have been so encouraging, though, are all the kind friends we’ve come to know through informal fellowship at our church, Grace’s preschool and the Y. We still miss our church, school and community friends from San Antonio, but love keeping in touch with these special people through Facebook, phone calls and texts.

In the winter, Grace took ice skating lessons at our Y. Then one weekend, she taught me how to ice skate at Empire State Plaza downtown. My 5-year-old daughter was so caring toward me, and patient—it was, friends, one of the best moments of my life.

After living in the South for 11 years, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy winter again. But it was fun, overall. Rediscovering all four seasons with the girls has been fun.

Many years ago in Virginia, one of the first things Stanton and I bonded over was our love of country music. Sometimes when we’re driving, we hear Tim McGraw’s contemporary classic “Humble and Kind” on the radio. I feel the song’s closing lyrics: “Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you…always stay humble and kind.”

We don’t know what the future holds. In this moment, though, things feel good. I’m very grateful.

I hope to pay that positive energy forward as we continue to get to know our community and surroundings.

8_Soccer Field Sunset

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

What Happens Next? When Stories End Too Soon

One afternoon, I was rocking Anna and reading her a story, as I usually do before she falls asleep for her nap. The story was “Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend.” I finished reading the last page; then I closed the book.

Anna tapped her hand on the book. “More,” she said.

“No,” I explained. “The story’s over.” And it’s time for your nap.

Anna shook her head. “More,” she repeated. “Dubla Da!”

“Dubla Da” is how Anna says “Amelia Bedelia.” I understand Anna; I can speak Baby, as Grace says. In that moment, I also understood that my toddler daughter wanted to know what happened next in the story.

She wanted more.

What happens next?

As readers, we love finding a story so compelling that we can’t put it down. We want more. We want to know what happens next.

Eventually, we reach The End. And sometimes, we’re sorry The End has come so soon.

This past summer, I published a short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story” (aptly titled, right?). I loved writing this story. I had fun figuring out the characters (flawed, but redeemable). I made the setting my beloved college town of Richmond, Va., and enjoyed revisiting it in my memory. And through the plot twists and turns, I considered how human beings tell stories, a subject I’ve always been interested in.

I heard from friends, as well as complete strangers, who read and reviewed “This Is Just a Story.” The majority of them said they really enjoyed it. Some felt parts could have been better, or different. All of them wanted to know what happened next.

Eventually, we reach The End. And sometimes, we’re sorry The End has come so soon.

“I wished the story kept going,” my good friend Allison wrote in her Amazon review. Meanwhile, a reviewer I don’t know added, “[I]t left me wondering what comes next.”

More.

What happens next.

As a writer, I love that my readers enjoyed my story and wanted it to continue. That makes me so happy—so happy, in fact, that I’m working on a sequel to “This Is Just a Story.” The title?

Yes, you guessed it: “What Happens Next.”

🙂

Yet.

Sometimes stories do, simply, end before we’re ready for them to. I don’t mean short fiction stories now. Beyond “Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend” and anything I might write…sometimes stories end too soon, in real life.

Sometimes we learn as much as we can about something, or someone. And that’s the end of the path for us and that experience, or that relationship.

Back in Richmond, I had a friend. We started as co-workers and became friends. She was friendly, fun, hard-working. Cared very much about her family members, some of whom had been through difficult times, and helped them whenever she could. I respected her very much.

Then I moved to San Antonio. She later shared with me that she was making a cross-country move too. We kept in touch, for a while. When I told her I had become a mother, she sewed a blanket and mailed it to me for Grace.

I still have that blanket, here in New York now.

What Happens Next

We aren’t close as we once were though, my friend and I. Long distance can do that to friendships. As much as I’d like our story to keep going, I have the sense that it ended. And probably, really, where it ended was in Richmond, before our paths diverged.

If our paths do cross again sometime…I’ll give her the biggest hug. I’ll be so excited to catch up. In the meantime, I wish her all the best and only the best, because that’s what she deserves.

Sometimes we reach the end of a path—or the end of a story—and that’s it. We have to let go. We can’t always know what happens next.

We have a primal need to know, but sometimes we have to let go.

We can, however, keep the journey close to our heart. Appreciate what we did have the chance to discover.

We have a primal need to know, but sometimes we have to let go.

This past weekend, I was chatting with a lovely lady I know. She shared with me that she’s retiring soon. She worked in her role about seven years. In her line of work, seven years is about the right amount of time, she told me, to come in, make a positive difference and then welcome new energy in. Seven years—sounded about right to me.

Sometimes The End comes too soon, and sometimes, we know to expect it.

Letting go can be hard. Coincidentally, I spent seven years in San Antonio. And four years in Richmond before that (unless you count the college years too—then, eight.) I love adventures, and exploring. Today, I love New York.

There are times, though, when I feel a pang for a place from before. In San Antonio, something I miss, of all things, is my local grocery store, and a lady who worked at the deli counter there—Miss Jennifer—I’m sure I’ve mentioned her to you before. I knew her since Grace was a baby…appreciated our weekly chats, which ranged from deli meats to grace (lowercase G grace)…and every now and then, usually on Sundays, wonder how she’s doing.

I hope we catch up again someday. Just like with my friend from Richmond, I’d give Miss Jennifer the biggest hug. And like moms everywhere, I’d show off how much Grace has grown, and Anna too.

What happens next?

Stories are like memories—not so much about what…or where…or when…but who.

Whatever happened to that person I knew so well?

Luckily, paths can cross, diverge and meet again. There’s always the possibility for sequels—in literature, and in life.

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” (Ursula K. Le Guin)

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

18 Signs You’re Home

Earlier this week, I was at my neighborhood Hannaford, a regional grocery store chain in upstate New York and New England. Anna was sitting in the shopping cart, munching on Goldfish (contentedly, but not for long), while I zipped us up and down the aisles, finding what we needed and tossing everything in the cart. Clementines, green beans, tortillas, red enchilada sauce, macaroni and cheese (always macaroni and cheese).

Stanton, the girls and I have been living in the Albany area for six months now, and after these six months, I have a pretty good feel for this grocery store—where everything is, which cashiers are fastest, the girls’ new favorite deli meats (who knew Grace would discover she loves salami?).

I was feeling more and more “home” every day. Then in the soup aisle, I recognized a familiar face: one of the pastors from our church. “It’s great to see you,” I told her—and it was.

One of the hardest things about moving to a new city is not knowing anyone yet. Not having friends, or people you can turn to for doctor recommendations, or any sort of community—yet. So for me, that morning at Hannaford was special, in its extraordinary ordinariness. 1) I knew my way around the grocery store aisles. 2) I bumped into a new—dare I say—friend.

I was home.

Here are a few more signs, friends, that you’re home.

3) You have new local favorites at “your” grocery store. These days, I can’t imagine not having Against the Grain Gourmet three-cheese frozen pizza, which I discovered at Hannaford, in my freezer, or Dominick’s Gourmet Pasta Sauce in my pantry.

4) You have usual orders at some favorite local stops: your neighborhood coffee shop, the pizza place, the deli outside your office building. You don’t need to study the menu before you walk in or call ahead; you already know what you like.

5) You know where the light switches are, and which lights they’re for.

One of the hardest things about moving to a new city is not knowing anyone yet. Not having friends, or people you can turn to for doctor recommendations, or any sort of community—yet.

6) You have some tried-and-true “things to do” with out-of-town visitors. We’ve been lucky that already, quite a few family and friends have come to visit us in our new hometown.

We’re still learning the ropes, but we feel pretty good about taking summer guests to the nearby Five Rivers nature trails and TwisT ice cream shop; folks in fall to one of the many beautiful surrounding apple orchards; and winter travelers to the New York State Museum downtown for a ride on the historic carousel.

We have yet to experience spring, but look forward to the annual Tulip Festival in Washington Park and whatever else may be in store.

You have some tried-and-true “things to do” with out-of-town visitors.

7) You’re home when you have a driver’s license and corresponding license plates for your current state.

8) And when you can enter your ZIP code at the gas station from memory, rather than consulting a Post-it stuck on the back of your credit card.

9) You’ve figured out other logistics: your primary care physician, your kids’ dentist, your older daughter’s dance studio, your younger daughter’s library story time, an auto repair shop you can trust (thank you, Broadway Auto Clinic!).

10) Your wallet contains membership cards for some of these places (e.g., the local library, fitness center, figure skating club).

11) You can get around without needing to Google Map every move.

12) A place’s roads are cool symbols of local culture, I think. I see a lot of Vermont license plates in my community, reminding me that the border of the Green Mountain State is just an hour’s drive away. Along with these license plates come bumper stickers with sayings such as “Eat, Sleep, Ski, Repeat” and “Go Vegan.”

Back in my San Antonio neighborhood, on the other hand, I saw many Nuevo Leon license plates (Nuevo Leon is a state in Northeastern Mexico, about 250 miles from the Alamo City). In my seven years there, I’m pretty sure I never saw a “Go Vegan” bumper sticker in South Texas. 🙂

Your mental pictures have readjusted.   

You can get around without needing to Google Map every move.

13) You can chat in a semi-knowledgeable manner about local life. For example, I was happy to pass along to another “new-to-here” mom that kindergarten registration is happening now, which I had heard about from my dance studio mom friends. It really does take a village.

14) You have new local websites to check in on (www.timesunion.com, www.alloveralbany.com, New York State Writers Institute).

15) You have a feel for the local lingo. When people tell me they’re going “downstate,” I now know they’re referring to New York City—which is worlds different from “upstate” (although there seem to have been conversations about what exactly “upstate” entails). And in winter, when neighbors mention they’re spending the day at “Maple Ridge,” I know they mean the local ski ridge as opposed to the local park of the same name.

16) You know your mail carrier and UPS guy. And they know not to ring the doorbell around 2 p.m., when your toddler is napping.

17) You’re stocked up on gear. By which I mean, I haven’t owned a pair of snow boots since before age 22, when I graduated from the University of Richmond and then spent the next 11 years in Virginia and Texas. Neither has Stanton. Thanks to L.L. Bean, however, we’ve got new winter gear, and we’re prepared (hopefully!) for everything from snow shoveling to sledding and snowman-building this season.

Your mental pictures have readjusted.

18) Stanton, the girls and I were lucky to have a wonderful holiday season, and I hope you did too. We spent Thanksgiving in Texas with his family, and Christmas in Pennsylvania with mine. We got to catch up with lots of loved ones—share happy times together—everything was great, and very special.

Late on New Year’s Day, we got the girls to sleep. We had just driven back to Albany that afternoon. So after the past few weeks of holiday traveling and several rounds of bedtime stories, we were alone together in the living room.

We got comfortable on the couch. Stanton opened a bottle of Saratoga lager. I had my evening cup of tea. We turned on an old episode of “Parks and Rec.” Lamplight glimmered across the TV screen, and on the beer bottle.

Stanton stretched. Sighed. “It’s good to be home,” he said.

It made me happy to hear him say that.

And I agreed.

couch

Photo credit: Pixabay

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

I Almost Shared This Picture – But Then Wrote This Post Instead

What I most appreciate about Facebook probably is the same thing as you: keeping in touch with friends from the varied chapters of my life. I enjoy seeing pictures of new babies and four-footed family members; cool restaurants as well as at-home recipes to try; and reunions of all kids—family, school, work, neighborhood, you-name-it. These social-media moments are fun, and help me feel close to college partners-in-crime, old colleagues, etc. that I no longer chat with every day.

As much as I can, I participate in this social-media communion too. I share pictures, mostly of my ever-growing daughters. Our recent move to upstate New York has been providing fresh backdrops—nature preserves, museums, parks—that I hope are interesting for folks.

Some friends recently told me, “You all look so happy!” And that’s true; we are.

Yet.

We can be so happy—and look so happy—while still struggling with a challenge or two.

Thus, I almost shared this picture:

i-almost-shared-this-picture-11-18-16

Yesterday afternoon, Grace and I baked cupcakes for her preschool class Thanksgiving party (happening later today). Grace started to frost them; I took this picture. As usual, I emailed it to Stanton and both sets of grandparents.

Then I thought about sharing it on my Facebook page. The editor in me even came up with an insta-caption: “Who doesn’t love Funfetti cupcakes?” Followed by my signature smiley face, of course.

🙂

But.

Overall, it had not been a picture-perfect day. The night before, Anna had been up with a cough. When I finally settled her back to sleep, Grace woke up crying—a bad dream. Stanton was out of town for work, so I had no parenting backup. I was late for my yoga class, and just minutes after I took that picture, Grace had a temper tantrum because I told her no, she couldn’t eat the remaining frosting from the 15.6 oz. container for dinner (talk about a sugar rush!).

I love scrolling through my friends’ good times and celebrating along with them, and getting their positive vibes in return.

Every now and then, though, it might be healthy to take a moment and acknowledge that life is a beautiful journey of ups and downs. Happiness can coexist with imperfection. And we’d never know JOY if we didn’t dance with sorrow too.

My daughters bring me joy every day of my life. I am deeply, deeply thankful for them. They’re also the reason for my gray hairs, and my coffee addiction.

This is my moment.

P.S. Who doesn’t love Funfetti cupcakes?

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

Becoming Locals in New York’s Capital Region

I love this colorful mural, painted onto the side of a brick building at the corner of Madison and Main avenues in downtown Albany, N.Y. It’s one of my favorite local “finds” so far, as I’ve started to get to know the Capital Region of New York.

1_urban-illustration

I haven’t spent much time in the downtown area yet—with the exception of the regional DMV. 😉 We all know that waiting an hour or two for your DMV ticket to be called (and, hopefully, accommodated on the first try) is a rite of passage every local-to-be must experience, as you exchange one state’s driver license for another.

I’m happy and relieved to share, friends, that I have crossed this nerve-wracking rite of passage off of my “Moving to New York” checklist. My new driver license should be arriving in the mailbox within 7 to 10 business days. I’m also happy to report that the majority of the employees I met at this DMV were kind and helpful—in particular the older gentleman who checked me in with a warm “Welcome to Albany!” and assured me I probably would be done in time to pick up my older daughter from preschool (I was). Thank you, sir.

dmv

As time goes on, I look forward to checking out The Egg, Washington Park and other iconic downtown sites. I also need to keep brushing up on my parallel-parking skills, which, presently, are very poor. 🙂 In the meantime…

The natural beauty in this part of the country can take my breath away. My favorite spot, currently, is Henry Hudson Park, located along the Hudson River about 10 miles south of my colorful mural. Looking out at the water, framed by these ancient mountains, makes me feel PEACE.

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A bonus: The girls have fun on the nearby slide and monkey bars. The locals seem to enjoy gathering at the various boat launches to take in the view, or kayak and canoe. Many folks here are active and outdoorsy; I’ve seen kayaks atop many a Subaru Forester, which seems to be the locals’ vehicle of choice. Kayaking the Hudson: also on my must-experience list.

What distinguishes the locals from the not-from-here’s? I would say knowledge of hidden gems—the inside scoop. Our neighbors clued us in to a popular walking/bicycle route known as the Rail Trail. Stanton, the girls and I enjoy walking, biking, stroller-ing and scooter-ing along it, especially on weekends.

3_rail-trail

Perhaps most importantly, locals know all about food. Trusted grocery store, best pizza place, favorite mom-and-pop café. One neighbor kindly gave us a gift certificate to Romo’s Pizza, her favorite local pizzeria. We took home their famous “Gracie Pie” for dinner one evening and loved it. The Gracie Pie is a Sicilian-style pizza with cheese on the bottom and sauce on top.

4_romos-gracie-pie

While the girls and I were waiting for our Gracie Pie, we discovered a local bookstore called Tattered Pages Used Books in the same outdoor shopping village as Romo’s. It was closed when we were there, but the book lover in me can’t wait to return.

5_tattered-pages-used-books

We live in a town a bit south of Albany, more suburban than urban. I was happy to find yet another local bookstore, I Love Books, in our neighborhood. In addition to literary works, I Love Books offers up items such as puzzles, toys and wine paraphernalia. 😉

6_i-love-books

Close to I Love Books is Amelia’s Garden, a local fabric shop. Grace needed a fat square for a “friendship quilt” that her preschool class is making—such a sweet idea. Amelia’s Garden is a cozy, colorful breather from any mom’s to-do list. For a minute, I even considered signing up for one of their sewing classes; then Anna had a meltdown. Maybe one day, friends.

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One recent weekend, we stopped by one of the many “harvest fests” this region celebrates during the fall. This particular event was held at The Crossings of Colonie, an expansive park in Albany’s most popular suburb. I took this picture of the girls beside the pond that anchors the park.

8_the-crossings-pond

The Harvest Fest featured the Albany Drum Circle. This friendly group entertained everyone with their music. Thoughtfully, they also invited anyone who was interested to pull up a chair and learn some basic rhythms. This has been one of my favorite experiences here so far—learning what a drum circle is and watching it firsthand. Very cool.

9_albany-drum-circle

A friend of friend happens to live in Schenectady County, north of Albany. One Saturday morning, we met for breakfast at the comfy Union Café on a lively main street. I accidentally ordered a “ham and bacon” omelet—I meant to say “ham and cheese”—but you know what? That unexpected burst of bacon made it simply wonderful. Bring on the pork, right? 🙂

10_union-cafe

My very favorite local restaurant, thus far, is Extra Napkin, located on Delaware Avenue, which bills itself as “Albany’s Main Street.” First, the customer service here is excellent. The owners and their team are so friendly and sincere. Second, I adore the name: Extra Napkin. Because who doesn’t need an extra napkin—especially when you’re running in for quick but delicious burgers with your kids?

About those burgers… I appreciate how this restaurant sears their name onto the buns. A cool detail.

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Last but not least, I love the chill vibe at Extra Napkin. This pastel-painted bicycle, part of the exterior décor, sums up the best of Extra Napkin—and possibly even the Capital Region as a whole.

12_bicycle-extra-napkin

Adventurous. Down-to-earth. Unexpected.

I have a long way to go before I’m a local, friends. But I’m starting to figure things out. And I’m grateful for the journey.

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

The Things That Make You Feel At Home

Grace’s first day (last year!) of preschool was earlier this week. When Anna and I picked her up, Anna waved happily. The feeling was mutual—Grace presented her little sister with an arts and crafts project she’d made. Grace had written “ANNA (heart shape) GRACE” across the top.

“Aww!” I exclaimed. When we got home, I hung it up on the refrigerator, in true mom fashion.

Then I looked at our rental-house refrigerator and realized, “This house feels like home.”

1_magnets-on-refrigerator

A refrigerator with mementos magnet-ed to it—this resonated “home” for me. Our most necessary kitchen appliance was no longer a blank slate, but the keeper of a note from an old friend—a card from a new one—and a heartfelt gift from one daughter to another. Our kitchen had become personal.

Intrigued by the idea of refrigerator psychology, I walked through our temporary living space to find other indicators of “home.”

This rocking chair, for sure.

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Stanton and I bought it a couple of months before Grace was born. We’ve had it for more than five years and two cities now. And I’ve possibly spent at least six months, collectively, in this chair, for all the times I’ve rocked Grace and later Anna and for all the times I accidentally and so easily fell asleep holding a sleeping, deeply loved little girl in my arms.

This rocking chair for sure. No matter how worn it gets, I don’t think we’ll ever let it go.

And this painting.

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A Christmas present to Stanton and me from my mom, painted by an artist from my Pennsylvania hometown. It’s our first piece of “good” art. It’s something to build upon, and for quite some time in San Antonio, it gently reminded me of where I grew up.

Now, the opposite of good art: the girls’ playroom.

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You may be wondering, friends: Did Melissa clean up this space—stage it, in fact?—before she snapped this shot for her blog? The answer to your question is, “Yes.” 🙂

Yes, I’m guilty of editing my real life, every now and then, so that the messy details (e.g., toys EVERYWHERE) don’t appall you.

Self-presentation disclosure aside… The girls use this space to create Sofia the First castles out of LEGO bricks and Lincoln Logs, play “Restaurant” and chase each other. They like it because it’s cozy and theirs; I couldn’t live without it because it’s contained (due to a baby gate, not pictured), allowing me a few minutes to myself once in a while.

Both girls are wide awake by 6:30 a.m., and there’s near-constant activity in our day-to-day life until about 8 p.m. At which point I decompress over a cup of tea.

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Stanton was thoughtful enough to prioritize the unpacking of my pink tea kettle, which I remember I bought back in Richmond, Va., with a Target gift card that a co-worker had given me as a wedding gift.

Two evenings in a row this week, the girls and I saw another recently relocated family at a neighborhood playground. I had a “refrigerator psychology” moment in the playground too. You also feel at home when you feel a sense of community somewhere.

A refrigerator with mementos magnet-ed to it. A worn-out, cherished rocking chair. A pink tea kettle.

And people you’ve come to know.

HOME.

What makes you feel at home, friends?

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

 

Mom, Do You Know Where You’re Going?

Stanton, the girls and I have called New York “home” for about a month now. We’re starting to feel settled in our new hometown, as I shared here. And I’ve loved digging into the local food scene.

Something I’m still working on, though, is getting to know my way around.

1_welcome-to-new-york

Following directions—especially driving directions—is not my strongest skill. Luckily, my phone has Google Maps. Unfortunately, the mapping service has been hit-or-miss for me lately.

Thus, the girls and I have found ourselves on some adventures here in the Capital Region.

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Our detours have taken us off the beaten path at times. We’ve come across beautiful scenery we may not have discovered otherwise—a field of wildflowers; horses grazing behind white fences; serene mountain ridges.

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Anna even found a mermaid. 😉

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I’m lucky that the girls are patient with me as I reenter our destination into Google Maps, or try Waze, or call Stanton, or roll down the window to ask a passerby where in the world we are.

Recently, the girls and I successfully found our latest destination: Stuyvesant Plaza. We loved walking and window-shopping. The girls threw pennies in a fountain and made their penny wishes.

I overheard Grace’s: “I wish Mom will let me watch TV all day someday.” Keep wishing, girl. 🙂

5_stuyvesant-plaza

We ran into some trouble on our return route home. The Albany area has a lot of traffic circles, which I’m still getting used to. On this particular one, I exited right too soon.

I drove a bit; nothing looked familiar. “Hmm,” I said. I pulled over and glanced at my phone.

“Mom, it’s really pretty here,” Grace said, tapping on her window. Anna began tapping on her window too.

“Mm-hmm,” I said, as our new route home came up in my phone.

“Mom, do you know where you’re going?” Grace said this time. She asked the question patiently, but I also heard some worry in her 5-year-old voice.

Do you know where you’re going?

Sometimes, the answer to that question is, “No.” And that’s OK. One thing I’ve learned during these past few weeks is that eventually, you will get there.

Another lesson learned: Make the most of the detours.

“I know now,” I told Grace. “I was a little lost, but I figured it out. I’m sorry it’s taking a long time.”

Grace said it was OK, and repeated that it was really pretty here on our diversion.

“Yes, it’s great,” I agreed.

Every moment means something, even when we don’t know what or why. Enjoy the journey, friends.

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Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.