Thursday, May 15, 2014

Long Island Wine Country Tour

Last week, I had the privilege of going on a trip to Long Island's North Fork Wine Country with a group of fellow writers. The trip ranked somewhere between super awesome and totally amazing. Now let's not kid ourselves - any overnight trip kid free with friends is bound to be good, right? But this trip was great from start to finish.

First up, my blogging bud, Lollie, picked me up and we headed to New London, CT to catch the Cross Sound Ferry. We drove and easily parked our car at the dock but there is also direct Amtrak rail service there as well. My forever partner in crime, Annie, was supposed to go on the trip but sadly she broke her foot a few days before. No need to fear though she was there in spirit with Flat Annie who you will see in several of the photos!

Here we are about to catch the Ferry
We hopped on the Ferry for an 80 minute ride to Orient Point. If you leave your car behind you can also take the passenger only ferry which gets you there in just 40 minutes. Although the 80 minutes went by fast for us anyway. You could enjoy the sites (even in the rain!), grab a snack or a drink from the concession stand, and they even had video games and coloring books for children. The best part though is that you never have to worry about traffic with the ferry!

Once we docked at Orient Point we were picked up by Vintage Tours to begin our adventure. Our first stop was a quick lunch at The Loft Restaurant in Greenport, NY.

After lunch, we headed to Bedell Cellars for our first vineyard tour and tasting. The tour was given by Richard, the winemaker, who was so informative yet so casual. You could tell how much he believed in and loved his work. 

Almost time for the grapes to appear!
 Fun Fact: Bedell's Merlot was served at President Obama's Inauguration
I almost tried to steal a barrel
After sampling the delicious Bedell wines, we made a quick stop at Wooden Boatworks where they restore and repair wooden boats.

Next up on the tour was a visit to the Greenport Carousel. Although the weather was dreary while we were there, I could just imagine the park bustling with people, music, and sunshine on a nice warm day!
Flat Annie wanted to ride that horse all day
After a full day, I had just a small chunk of time to head to the beautiful Harborfront Inn where I was staying. I actually wish I had more time to just stay and relax there since the room was great - large, modern, and with a private balcony with a great view of the harbor. They also have a fitness center which I would have loved to have checked out but my bud, Janet, kept me out way too late. I was totally innocent - it was all her fault :)

Anyway, back to the night, we then headed to Kontokosta Winery for a beautiful reception that was catered by Noah's

The food and the wine were both so good. I may have eaten my own weight in the beer and bacon glazed almonds alone. I also was sure to "sample" every white wine on the menu. My verdict - I loved them all!
The reception marked the end to the official tour that day. However, many of us headed over to Ruby's Cove B&B for a small after party. Following that several of us headed over to First and South where we enjoyed drinks in a great atmosphere. Finally, the die hards headed to The Rhumb Line. We just couldn't resist the music we heard pumping out of the place. Every place we went was so fun we could have stayed all night - actually we pretty much did!

After a very short night's sleep, I was up and packed bright and early to head to breakfast at the Shorecrest Bed and Breakfast. The spread was gorgeous - china, antiques, gourmet food. So nice!

I was too busy eating to take pictures but luckily Kim took care of it for me!
Following breakfast the group split up with some heading to Old Field Vineyards and some heading to Harbes Family Farm and Vineyard. I chose the farm and LOVED it.

I could just see my family spending a full day there. They have animals, PIG RACING(!!), pony rides, corn mazes, a pedal tractor track, and so much more. The kids would love it there!

Oh, and did I mention the wine tasting bar? Totally something for everyone in the family! 

After a super fun time at the farm, we headed to Orient By The Sea for lunch. The restaurant is right on the water so the views and atmosphere are great. It's also close to the dock so we were able to walk to The Cross Sound Ferry after lunch. 

One last pic with Sharon and Lollie before heading home!
And there you had it - just like that the whirlwind trip was over. One of the things that really stood out for me on the trip was how nice and genuine everyone we met was. Stan from Cross Sound and Jo-Ann of Vintage Tours were so wonderful with being both accomodating and informative. Every person we came in contact with was friendly and you could tell truly enjoyed what they were doing. It was wonderful to see such a close knit community that supports each other. 

Before this trip I never in a million years would have considered going to the North Fork of Long Island. I had never even heard of it! Now I'm already thinking of when I can go back! 

There were so many nice people and generous sponsors/businesses on this trip that there's no way I could thank them all personally. But to everyone that helped make this trip happen - THANK YOU. You delivered above and beyond!

*I received a complimentary tour and stay on Long Island as part of a writers' tour. As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Scar From My Mom

One day when I was a baby, my mother accidentally knicked my cheek when she was taking me out of my crib. She said I didn't cry and it didn't bother me at all. What it did do though was give me a permanent, little scar. Depending on the light and the angle, it's often unnoticeable. If you do notice it you might just think it's a blemish.

Whenever I would mention it, my mother would say "When I'm dead and gone you'll look in the mirror, see it, and think 'Awwww, Mom!'" And you know what? She was right. I often catch a glimpse of it in the mirror or in a picture and I immediately think of her and that comment. It's one of those little things that still connects us and I'm actually pretty grateful for it. Who wants perfect skin anyway? :)

The scar snuck in on Daniel's selfie

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Henry's First Red Sox Game

Earlier this summer, Isabelle went to her first Red Sox game and wanted to document every little thing about it. On Saturday, Henry (age 5) went to his first game with my husband along with our friends and their little girl. Since I enjoyed Isabelle's summary so much I asked Henry how his experience was. Here are the details of his first game in his words:

"We got ice cream and a soft pretzel. Rory got cotton candy and she shared it with me. I saw a grand slam. They played "God Bless America." It was a long drive and kind of a long walk there. The Red Sox won and they did a good job. I love the Red Sox and the Red Sox are cool!"

So there you have it - two successful first Red Sox games in the books! I love how the two kids memories are different - much like their personalities. You can read Isabelle's post HERE if you missed it. Go Red Sox!

Friday, May 2, 2014

I Missed The Bus

Yesterday, the boys and I were at our local YMCA. They were having fun playing with friends and we were just a few minutes up the road so I planned on getting home right before Isabelle's bus would arrive home. My brilliant planned was foiled though by an unexpected last minute potty trip and a driver in front of us doing 25mph in a 40 zone. They were unexpected things that I should have factored in enough time for but I didn't because we were SO close to home. I have no one to blame but myself.

As I was driving the few minute ride back home the panic started to set in that we weren't going to make it home in time. Ahead shortly in the distance I saw a bus and felt relief thinking it was hers. Even though it was ahead of me, I'd just follow it to my house and frantically beep and waive when they stopped. Alas, though that bus drove past our street and then I knew - no bus on our street and no bus in my rear view meant that I had missed it. It was exactly one minute past her usual drop off time.

I pulled in the driveway and wasn't even out of the car before my cell phone rang. It was the transportation director informing me that Isabelle was still on the bus since no one was home when they tried to drop her off. I told them I was home now and she radioed to the driver who was nice enough to turn back since she was just a bit further up in the neighborhood. I was overly and sincerely apologetic to the bus driver and she was super nice and understanding about it. She said that she knows I wait outside everyday and knew something must have just come up. I guess she had Isabelle go to the door and knock just to make sure and when I didn't answer she had Isabelle get back on. All I can envision is my poor little girl knocking on an unanswered door! Luckily, Isabelle was completely unaffected by the whole thing. She actually asked if we could do it again someday since she liked getting to go back on the bus - ha!

I'm sure that things like this happen frequently and in the grand scheme of things it's not that big of a deal but I'm still feeling pretty bad about it. Although, given the experience I can at least say that I'm glad that I live in a town that wouldn't just drop a Kindergartner off at a house with no one home. I'm glad that we have a great bus driver. I'm glad that Isabelle is independent enough to not freak out when her mother abandons her. Isabelle may not be scarred for life from it but I'm pretty sure I am. Going forward, you can bet that I will be home WAY before that bus ever comes!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

LTYM Piece: Unusual Keepsakes From My Mom

For anyone who could not make it to the show or just wants to hear it again, below is the piece I read for Listen To Your Mother Boston. It is a longer and edited version of a post I had previously written.
My mother passed away five years ago. She had a rare muscle disorder that slowly but surely affected every muscle in her body. Although she had a lifetime of declining health, the end came faster than any of us had anticipated. I remember I visited her one day and she was her usual self. She was in her bed arguing with me about wanting to get up. I was annoyed that we were having the same conversation again since I knew she couldn't get out of bed with just my help anymore. Her body had trapped her in that bed even though her mind wanted her to be up and about. I'm sure I wasn't as patient with her as I could have been. Our roles had long reversed and it was honestly pretty exhausting for me at times. I then received a call the next day that she was unresponsive. Just like that her body was shutting down. I got to her house in time to hear her last words – my brother's name. I know that she didn't say my name because she knew I was there. I was always there. The next four days involved painstakingly watching her die in front of us with nothing we could do. She held on longer than the hospice staff said she would. I began that week never wanting to let her go and finished it by begging God to take her. I'm sure that she wasn't ready to go but her body had failed her. I remember the exact moment that I heard her breathing stop and I knew she was gone. At that moment I felt relief – relief that the horrible vigil we were keeping could come to an end and relief that she would no longer be in pain.
After she died, we had a pretty quick turn around on her house with moving her stuff out and other people moving in. My brother and I went through the house like a whirlwind and honestly tossed most of the stuff. In hindsight, would I have liked to have taken more time to go through the house and hang on to more things? Maybe. Although, I’m not really a sentimental person. I’m not a keeper, I’m a thrower. I'm too practical to hang on to things. And in the past few years there hasn’t really been anything that I have thought of that I wish I had kept so I think it all really worked out. Plus, when you are living in the moment of grief and loss, who has the time and energy to really know if you are doing the right thing? You just try to make it through the day one task at a time.
So when all was said and done, I walked away from my mom’s house, the house I had spent my entire childhood in, with her photo albums and only one other small box. That box was filled with a few childhood keepsakes and a couple of things that I had to have. One of the items was a large spool of string. The string lived in the cabinet above our stove with other random artifacts that were used infrequently. My mother had told us that my father, who passed away when I was a baby, brought the string home from work one day in the 1970s. The string is old and a bit dirty but it is our string. It is the string that I remember my mother going to get out for any project we were doing, for hanging decorations around the house, and for any other thing that you could possibly use string for. I vividly remember standing on a chair and tossing everything from that cabinet when cleaning out the house and not being able to throw the string away. To anyone else it is a spool of discolored thread. For me, it is a symbol of so many memories. I now use the string at my house with my family. I think of my mother every single time we use it. I can only hope that someday when I’m dead and gone my daughter, Isabelle, will hang on to the string for the same reasons that I did. Oh, and yes I have no doubt that the string will be around long after I am. I mean how often do you even use string? And this spool appears to be never ending.
The other item that I had to keep when cleaning out the house? A Ziploc bag full of toothpicks. It would have been so easy to toss the toothpicks during the big clean out but I just couldn’t. The bag doesn't zip anymore and it's decorated with snowmen that are vanishing. The snowman bag lived in my mother’s hutch. Anytime we were baking she would send me or my brother in to get out a toothpick to test to see if what we were baking was done. Like the string, these toothpicks seem to last forever. They are a reminder of days when my mother was in better health, days where we cooked together, and days where we laughed together. They remind me of holidays and of happy times. Now when we are baking I send my children to our hutch to get out the toothpicks. We talk about how the toothpicks belonged to my mom and how extra special they are. In those moments, I'm so very glad that I didn't throw them away.
If you had ever asked me what would be my most treasured items to keep after my mother died, I never in a million years would have guessed old string and a broken plastic bag full of old toothpicks. I mean they're basically junk. But they are our junk. They are junk that helped shape my childhood. Junk that is now shaping my children's childhood. I think it goes to show that you just never know what is going to tug on your heartstrings the most. Sometimes it's truly the unexpected items that are the most priceless.

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