Tag Archives: Adventure

Happy Autumn!

28 Oct

Dear Little Man,

It’s fall in the beautiful North Carolina mountains, and there’s probably nothing prettier than fall colors in the Blue Ridge. Autumn in WNC means a lot of things: crisp air, cooler temperatures, pumpkins, apple cider, scarves, leaf piles, cold noses, reds, oranges, yellows, browns, cuddles under the blankets and so many other wonderful things. Fall festivals  and country fairs are another autumnal hallmark, and we got to go to one a little over a week ago in Valle Crusis. You came down (or up, technically) with The B’s and we festival’d together near my lovely graduate school. You all slept over and we had a dance party in the A.M. (to One Republic only, per your request) then went for breakfast and a trip through Blowing Rock.

And I rented a camera and became a classic “Facebook mom” — taking hundreds of pictures and posting…like…all of them. Not ashamed. But you probably will be when I pull them out to show to your dates in another decade or so.

*insert evil Halloween-appropriate laugh here*

I love you, kiddo. I can’t wait to see you for trick-or-treating in a few days. You’re coming to my {Grandma M’s and Pop Pop 3’s} house in beautiful Asheville while your parents go to a concert and we get to walk through the neighborhood I trick-or-treated in when I was a kid. It feels very “circle of life” to me…maybe if we have time, you can dress up like Simba and I’ll paint myself purple, learn Swahili and paint shapes on your forehead. Hopefully that reference will make sense to you someday. The Lion King better not be that out of date by the time you’re old enough to read these…

Moral of the story, I am yet again thankful for the beauty of the true openness of our open adoption. Hopefully it’ll catch on so that other families get the extraordinary chance to have a relationship like we all have together.

I love you, to infinity and beyond.

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The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Learn

26 Aug

Dear Little Man,

This past June I did what every 20-something should do at least once: I backpacked through Europe. Now before we get any grand ideas, by “backpacking” I don’t mean I trekked through the mountains of Europe in hiking boots with just a compass and my sense of adventure. I mean I pre-booked trains and flights and hostels and had a few minor panic attacks when I thought I was going to miss any travel connections. But I did pack a month’s worth of belongings into an over-sized REI backpack…ergo, I backpacked through Europe. Just roll with it.

No matter how you define “backpacking,” I saw some incredible places on my trip. Your Aunt S and I met up in France and traveled to Spain, Germany, and Ireland at which point we parted ways and she flew home as I continued my European exploration in England.

I climbed the Eiffel Tower (despite my paralyzing fear of heights because, um, it’s the Eiffel Tower)…

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel 2

And hung out in the Alcázar Palace in Spain….

Spain

And drank massive beers in Munich…

Giant Beer!

Glug, glug...

And went scuba diving in Nice…

Scuba Diving

And found five-leaf clovers in Galway…

Five-Leaf Clover

And ate and ate and ate some more.

European Food!

It was amazing. The people I met, the cultures I was immersed in, the daily adventures I went on with your Aunt S…it was everything I always thought it would be. I’ve always wanted to travel, especially around Europe, and my month-long excursion was definitely worth how poor I am now. I ate and I laughed and I danced and I could really breathe for the first time in months. It was glorious, and perfectly timed.

But everywhere I went, I thought of you. I wanted to show you the carvings on the underside of the Arc de Triomphe and the view of Paris from the tip top of Montmartre. I wanted you to see just how blue water can be and how fish look when you’re swimming right beside them. I wanted to tell you about the feeling you get when your legs are dangling over the edge of the Cliffs of Mohar (not entirely legal, by the way) and you can’t even breathe because it’s so beautiful and you feel so small.

But since I couldn’t bring the real you with me, I brought our story instead. But the first time I brought you up, I noticed I was a little nervous. I suddenly realized that I didn’t know how adoption translated…literally and metaphorically. How do I say, “I have a son but I don’t have him because I chose other people to raise him and be his family because I thought that’s what was best for him?” That particular sentence is not in any French phrase book. I know, I was surprised too.

The first person I told our story to was our friend and host, François — he was kind enough to let us sleep on his couch during our stay in Paris. I was going through pictures on my phone at dinner one night, and since most of my photos are of you, he glanced over and saw one. He asked me, “Is that your nephew?” I smiled and corrected him and quickly launched into the story of your adoption and The B’s. He looked surprised at first, but just for a second…and then he asked all about you. One of the last things he said to me was before we left for Spain was, “Say hello to your little boy for me. It’s things like him that make life beautiful. That’s what it’s all about.” So, hello from François :)

When I told our story to the woman we stayed with in Provence, Elodie, she started talking about how she couldn’t wait to have children with her soon-to-be husband. She told me the boy and girl names she’d already picked out.

When I told Florian, our German host, he told me he hoped that if he had any kids, he wanted them to have curly blonde hair like yours.

When I told the woman who worked in the coffee shop in Dublin on my last morning there (she stole a glance at a photo of you like François did), she said she’d never heard of anything like our adoption story, but that it was inspiring because she and her husband were trying to adopt in Ireland and they’d been on a waiting list for over a year. She said our story gave her hope and made her smile and she was glad I had walked in that morning.

I learned a lot of things when I was overseas. I learned about cultures and languages and history and methods of travel. I learned what orejas a la plancha means (pigs ears…don’t order it) and how thin hostel mattresses can be. I learned how you can live on zero sleep and still feel more alive than you’ve ever felt. But what surprised me the most was that our story did translate…it didn’t matter that I didn’t speak the language or that some words only elicited confused smiles and shoulder shrugs.

Love is palpable. Especially the love I have for you and The B’s…it doesn’t need to be verbalized to be felt.

All of these people I told our story to, they have dreams of that kind of love too. They hope and they dream of beautiful, curly haired children that they want to love someday. Different people from different countries with different languages, all with the same desires. So different in culture, but so similar in heart. We are not alone. Love…it really is the universal language. That discovery — even if it had been the only thing I learned — would have made the entire trip worth it. I thank you and Europe for teaching me that.

Oh, and just so you know, ‘adoption’ in French is the same as in English. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about translating it after all :)

“The most important thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

A ‘Magical’ Adventure

5 Mar

Dear Little Man,

In the past few weeks, your mama has been busy. Studying for classes, gathering undergraduate research, starting a new job, trying to plan my summer trip to Europe, getting my taxes together, working on a new budget for myself (being an adult sounds fun, huh?) and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life so that I don’t go completely nuts…it’s been hectic.

But there’s good news!

While I have been in the midst of a crazy last semester of college, you have been enjoying a magical adventure with The B’s in one of my favorite places of all time…Disney World!

You’ve only been there for a few days, but you’ve got many more to go and if J’s pictures are any indication, you’re loving it! Not to mention that you’re staying at a sports-themed hotel…which means Sports Man is in heaven. It’s a win-win for everyone!

The first time I went to Disney World, the person I was most excited to see was Minnie Mouse. I was too young to remember but according to your grandparents, when I saw her I ran straight at her. She got down on her knees, opened her arms wide and gave me a big hug. I can only imagine the cuteness :) We went back when I was older and I remember a lot more about that trip. I remember that my favorites were the Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain and everything Animal Kingdom. I went back to see Minnie and I remember getting to tour her house and finding it to be insanely cool.

I don’t know what you’re up to tonight or tomorrow, but I know you’re having fun because it’s impossible not to with all of the Disney magic down there. You are certainly making some wonderful memories down there and even if you don’t remember them, J and E will cherish them forever for you. I wish I could be with you, to watch you take it all in. I wish I could share in the magic with you. Maybe someday I will. Or maybe you and I will just make our own magic :)

But until then (if I ever have free time ever again), I’ll be living vicariously through you and The B’s via J’s photos, and like I said before…it seems like a magical adventure!

My beautiful family in the Magic Kingdom!

My beautiful family in the Magic Kingdom!

Disney 2

My popular guys with Chef Pluto!

Disney 3

It’s Mickey! And P.S. I am in LOVE with your fedora.

Disney 4

Little man, biiiiig helmet!

Disney 5

This is the courtyard of the hotel you’re staying at…I think Sports Man is in love

Disney 6

Pop-Pop 3 would be so proud…

Disney 7

My main men with the Toy Boys ;)

Disney 8

There’s a reason we call him “Sports Man”…

Grown Up Story Time

17 Jan

Dear Little Man,

I am a runner. Not a fast one or a long-distance one, but I do love to run. It’s very cathartic to me — it helps me clear my mind and it helps to get rid of my jitters when I have too much energy. But mostly running lets me get “out of my head” for a little bit, as they say — I’d probably lose my sanity if I stopped doing it.

I think about your letters a lot when I run. I actually started running after you were born. I ran on and off in high school, but never very seriously. I still had great metabolism then, so exercise was more for something to do than something to keep me healthy. But along with the 30 pounds I gained during pregnancy, I also gained a  new respect for the whole exercise thing.

During the school year, I run at the gym. It’s free since I’m a student and the facility is relatively new so I like to take advantage of the nice equipment, not to mention the convenience. But during the summer (or freakishly warm winter days, like the past few), I run around The Lake, less than a mile from my apartment.

I love The Lake. The view is beautiful and the path is a lovely figure-eight shape, perfect for running laps that won’t bore you to tears (like tracks…I really don’t like tracks. It’s one of my ever-so-charming quirks).

I’m never alone when I run around The Lake. The only running mate I actually bring along with me is my iPod, but other people are always walking around The Lake. Old couples walk hand-in-hand, mothers power-walk with their babies in strollers, people walk their dogs, and other seasoned athletes (literally) run laps around me…it’s always buzzing with activity, and I love activity.

But one of the other things I love about all of these people, is that they bring out the writer in me. As I run (ahem, jog) past an old man with the cane, I wonder what his life has been like. Has he ever been in love? What is the best adventure he’s ever been on? Has he ever gone overseas? Did he used to be a runner? Does he have any regrets, does he want any do-overs? Is he going home to anyone? Does he have any kids or grandkids? Does he tell old war stories or yell at kids to get off his lawn?

I do the same thing when I see the dog-walkers and stroller-joggers and elderly hand-holders. Where have they been? What have they seen? Who do they love? Who do they miss? What is their story?

Because — something to know about me — I am of the mind that everyone has a story. Everyone has an adventure. Everyone has a turning point. Everyone has a pivotal moment. Everyone has lots of pivotal moments. Even the people who think they lead uneventful lives probably have a tale worth listening to.

These letters are part of my story. They’re part of yours too. Our stories will be forever intertwined, though yours will take on a more…independent tone as you get older. They won’t relate to me or The B’s, they’ll relate to you and your experiences with other aspects of your life.

But never forget…every story deserves to be told. Not everybody writes theirs down and not everybody wants to share. It’s understandable, but stories get lost that way. I’ve always been a sucker for listening to them — all I did as a kid was ask people to tell me about their lives (a future psych major if I’ve ever seen one) — and now, as a writer, I”m a sucker for telling them.

I will always remember something my dad (Pop Pop 3) told me back when I was 13 or 14. We were visiting my Grandma Lou. She was in her early 90’s though you’d never be able to tell it from her looks and spunk. My dad was on his way out to pick up some lunch to bring back and he asked me if I wanted to ride with him or stay to keep my grandmother company. I loved my Grandma Lou, but I had no idea what to talk to her about (I was sooo tired of hearing about her bad knees), but since she was so elderly, I treated every visit with her like it was my last one. Because…well..it might have been.

As I  hesitated with my answer, my dad noticed and he said, “You know, she’s in her 90’s. She’s not going to be around much longer. And once she’s gone, all of her stories will be too. You should hear them while you can.”

He was right. So I stayed. I asked about her childhood. I asked about where she grew up. I asked her about how she met and fell in love with my grandpa, who I never got to meet. I asked her to tell that story a lot over the next couple of years (she didn’t die until I was 16 and she was 95). I love love stories, and she had the perfect, old fashioned tale to tell about ending up with my Grandpa Bernie. I’m glad I asked her because now, I have that story to pass on. It’s a good one. It shouldn’t have been missed.

So when I’m older and I’m walking around the local lake with my cane (or holding the hand of my old, wrinkly husband) and I’m passed by some young jogger, I’ll smile and think of all of the wonderful stories I’ve accumulated over the years. Unless I’m senile. Then I’ll wonder where I am, how I got there and who is the strange man holding my hand.

Either way, you’ve given me an incredible story to tell. I hope you end up with my curiosity to know the stories of others. I hope you always remember that yours is worth telling, too…

Because even if you don’t, J and I are thinking about turning it into a book anyway :)

Your Second Birthday Pictures

12 Nov

Dear Little Man,

Today I realized that in a little over two months, you will be two-and-a-half. Almost half a year has passed since you turned two which is nuts since I feel like you were born yesterday. But what is also nuts is that you turned two in July and it is now November and no practically no birthday pictures have been posted (except for a few from the day after and a few that J took during your birthday safari ride!). And since I’m in a particularly picture-y mood today, I have decided that I am going to remedy that lack of photos riiiiiiight…

NOW. :)

(Forgive the quality…some of these are still shots taken from a video.)

J’s creative genius shining through yet again :)

The cupcakes on the table were delicious. I had two :)
Plus three. Shhh.

Bubble blowing…your favorite :)

Eating the bubble blowing stick…your second favorite.

Running to Pop-Pop at your party. I’m pretty sure it made his day :)

The “B” Air Hockey Team!

You make me giggle :)

Trying to catch the water. Solid effort.

You LOVED that hose. And you also got soaked.

Thirsty? You certainly were… :)

Spraying The Boyfriend after he squirted you with a toy. I am SO proud.

Luckily, you didn’t take revenge on me like you did on The Boyfriend…

E grilling up some burgers…and being a good sport while I filmed him :)

Um, DELICIOUS.

Blowing bubbles with me!

Another reason for your Super Cool Kid status: you fist bump.

Your new “trator” :) you still ride that thing around. Steering is still a mystery, but I think we’re getting there…

Sports Man teaching you how to drive. I see this happening again in about 14 years…

A travel size Little Man. This was my ploy to bring you back to New York with me ;)

You are an awesome high-fiver. The Boyfriend got a kick out of it.

Ohhh, that smile…

You can almost hold an aluminum baseball bat! Sort of…kind of…I love this photo anyways :)

Hitting a baseball with a bat, golf-style. I think I fell even more in love with both of you that day :)

Giving you tips, working on your game, you know…normal “guy talk.”

Again with the world’s best facial expressions…

Giggling with my guy :)

I love this look! And you :)

I can’t wait until our next weekend-long adventure. Although the outdoor water activities might have to wait until the spring. I have no doubt we will find entertainment elsewhere :) Two-and-a-half year olds are surprisingly good at creating entertainment out of nothing…

xoxoxo

 

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The Best Adventure

26 Jun

One day, you are going to learn what “Pinterest” is. Why are you going to learn that? Because J and I are obsessed with it, so it’s inevitable. It’s a site full of pictures — of food, people, places to travel, everything you could possibly photograph — and you know how your mom and Ilove pictures.

While perusing Pinterest the other day, I stumbled upon a photo that reminded me of you. I just wanted to share it with you, to remind you of all the joy and wonderful things you have brought to my life. You have certainly been a journey, and I can’t wait to explore the world with you some more ;)

24 days!

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