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.

Settling Into Our New Hometown: The Beginning

In the summer of 2009, Stanton and I moved from Richmond, Va., to San Antonio. We road-tripped southwest over the course of a weekend, stopping to sightsee and sample local flavors along the way. I remember devouring the best macaroni and cheese of my life at Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Birmingham, Ala., and walking on the beach in Biloxi, Miss., before driving to New Orleans for café au lait and beignets.

Fast-forward to this summer. Moving cross-country with kids leaves little wiggle room for epicurean indulgences or “the scenic route.” About two minutes into our flight from San Antonio back to the East Coast, Grace wondered, “Mom, are we there yet?” just as Anna wiped her chocolate-covered hand across my khakis.

If you’ve ever been on a plane for a three-and-a-half-hour flight and seen a mom traveling solo with two small children, trust me: Nobody wants to be “there yet” more than that mama. 😉

Once the four of us arrived together at our new home, though, we were excited to begin exploring our surroundings. First up: The girls couldn’t wait to pick dandelions in the backyard. Kids—it’s always the little things.

1_Backyard

Now, you have to figure that whenever there’s a big change in your life (new baby, new job, new home—whatever it is), there will be a bump or two along the way. Something probably will not go as smoothly as it could.

For us, the major bump was our moving company. Unfortunately, they didn’t deliver the furniture from our Texas house to our New York house when they said they would—it arrived much later than promised.

The silver lining in this experience was that there wasn’t much for us to do in our mostly unfurnished new house. So the girls and I got out and about right away and began getting to know our new hometown.

One of our first stops: The library.

2_Library

Our local library has a wonderful children’s section, which the girls love. A friendly mom whom I met there invited us to join her and her Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at a nearby park the following day. So we did.

All the moms were kind and welcoming. I very much appreciated them, as well as the “inside scoop” they shared with me about other fun, family-friendly local activities. Thanks to these moms, we’re making plans to visit neighboring apple orchards, the New York State Museum and indoor trampoline parks.

3_Park

I’ve been here in the Albany area just a short while now, but I’ve figured out that Dunkin’ Donuts is the locals’ chain coffeehouse of choice. There is an awesome-looking local espresso bar about a mile from our home, and I can’t wait to drop in and do some writing, too. In the meantime, the girls and I have been hitting up the closest Dunkin’ for our afternoon pick-me-ups.

4_Dunkin Donuts
On the second or third night in our new home, I was surprised to feel a lump in my throat. Earlier that day, I had received a “thinking of you” package from my San Antonio friend Haeley. Coincidentally, two other good friends from San Antonio (Ashley and Michelle) had also texted to let me know they were thinking of me. I cared for and appreciated them and their friendship so much, and was feeling a sense of “friendless-ness” in my new hometown.

6_Notebooks

Making friends and developing friendships take time. I have been touched, though, by the friendliness of everyone I’ve met so far, from the MOPS group to the college students who serve up great sandwiches at “The Village Butcher” by the espresso bar to our neighbors. One afternoon, our next-door neighbor stopped by with this lovely bouquet of sunflowers from a local dairy farm, right after another neighbor dropped off a container of freshly sliced watermelon and strawberries.

7_Flowers

These kindhearted gestures have helped Stanton, the girls and me settle in and begin to feel at home.

One evening, the four of us were eating a simple pasta dinner together in the dining room. Grace and Anna were sitting at their “Frozen”-themed activity table, while Stanton and I were sitting cross-legged on the floor (our furniture had not yet arrived, remember). We were eating and talking, and I looked around and thought, “I couldn’t be happier.” So I let them know, as you should in moments like this: “I love you guys so much. This is all I need. I mean it—this is everything to me.”

“Love you too!” Grace yelled. It was nearing her bedtime, and she was getting silly.

“You!” Anna yelled along, throwing her hands up.

I looked across the “Frozen” table. Stanton looked back and winked.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: Home isn’t what you have, or where you live. It’s who you’re with.

Home is who you’re with.

8_Extra Napkin

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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.